Debates of 29 October 2015

MR SPEAKER

PRAYERS

VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS AND THE OFFICIAL REPORT

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Hon Members, Correction of the Votes and Proceedings of Wednesday, 28th October, 2015. Page 1 - 26…

Speaker
Mr Kofi Frimpong

Mr Speaker, sorry to take you back a bit. With reference to page 7, Mr Speaker, I was here yesterday. I went and signed my name at the Mails Room.

Speaker
Mr Frimpong

I came to the Chamber.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Were you in the Chamber?

Speaker
Mr Frimpong

Yes, Mr Speaker.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

It is a simple question. Hon Kofi Frimpong, were you in the Chamber?

Speaker
Mr Frimpong

Yes, Mr Speaker, I was in the Chamber.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Very well.

Speaker
Mr Frimpong

Thank you very much.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Page 27 - 30. [Pause] Hon Members, the Votes and Proceedings of Wednesday, 28 thOctober, 2015 as corrected, are adopted as the true record of proceedings. 11. 50 a.m.

PARLIAMENTARY DEBATES

OFFICIAL REPORT

CONTENTS

PAPERS --

CONSIDERATION STAGE OF BILLS --

THE

PARLIAMENT OF THE REPUBLIC

OF GHANA

MR SPEAKER

PRAYERS

VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS AND THE OFFICIAL REPORT

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Hon Members, Correction of the Votes and Proceedings of Wednesday, 28th October, 2015. Page 1 - 26…

Speaker
Mr Kofi Frimpong

Mr Speaker, sorry to take you back a bit. With reference to page 7, Mr Speaker, I was here yesterday. I went and signed my name at the Mails Room.

Speaker
Mr Frimpong

I came to the Chamber.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Were you in the Chamber?

Speaker
Mr Frimpong

Yes, Mr Speaker.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

It is a simple question. Hon Kofi Frimpong, were you in the Chamber?

Speaker
Mr Frimpong

Yes, Mr Speaker, I was in the Chamber.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Very well.

Speaker
Mr Frimpong

Thank you very much.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Page 27 - 30. [Pause] Hon Members, the Votes and Proceedings of Wednesday, 28 thOctober, 2015 as corrected, are adopted as the true record of proceedings. 11. 50 a.m.

Speaker
Mr Frederick Opare-Ansah

rose

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Please, see the Table Office. Hon Members, we have the Official Report of Tuesday, 27th October, 2015 for correction. Any correction?

Speaker
Mr Patrick Yaw Boamah

rose

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Hon Member for Okaikoi Central?

Speaker
Mr Boamah

Mr Speaker, I am looking at page 5 (i) and (ii) of the Official Report. It has a list of Cabinet Ministers, non- Cabinet Ministers, Ministers of State, Deputy Ministers, Regional Ministers and Deputy Regional Ministers.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Hon Member, the point you have raised has nothing to do with proceedings on the floor but something to do with records. So, I have directed that the Table Office checks and then inform me, so that we pick it up from there.

Speaker
Mr Boamah

Thank you very much, Mr Speaker.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Hon Members, the Official Report of Tuesday, 27th October, 2015, subject to the issues raised by the Hon Member for Okaikoi Central, is adopted as a true record of proceedings. Hon Members, there is no Statement for today, so, we move to commencement of Public Business. At the Commencement of Public Business, Hon Majority Chief Whip?

Speaker
Alhaji Mohammed-Mubarak Muntaka

Mr Speaker, we have item number 4 on the Order Paper to lay. I would want to crave your indulgence and that of the House, for the Hon Minister for Employment and Labour Relations to lay this Paper on behalf of the Hon Minister for Finance, who is with His Excellency, the President in India. His Deputy was here up to around 11.00 a.m.They have International- Monetary Fund (IMF) meeting, so, he pleaded with us to get another Hon Minister to lay the Paper on his behalf.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Hon Minority Leader, an application has been made to have the Hon Minister for Employment and Labour Relations to lay the Paper, item number 4 on the Order Paper on behalf of the Hon Minister for Finance, who is outside the jurisdiction.

Speaker
Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

Mr Speaker, I would always hold that, in the absence of substantive Ministers, the Hon Ministers holding their portfolios for them should be the ones to do their business. I do not know whether the Hon Minister is in-charge of that Ministry now.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Yes. It is a very important point you have raised. But the question is that, can one Minister lay a Paper on behalf of another Minister? That is the crux of the matter. The ideal situation is what you are talking about. Our practice in the House allows Ministers to lay Papers on behalf of their Colleague Ministers, even if they are not the substantive ones acting on behalf of the Minister who is absent. But the ideal one is what you are talking about.

Speaker
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

Mr Speaker, beyond that, the Hon Majority Chief Whip indicated to us that, the Hon Deputy Minister was here yesterday and today and has had to leave. But there are two deputies; he spoke of one. So, where is the other one?

Speaker
Alhaji Muntaka

Well, Mr Speaker, we did add that because they were only two, the other one had been scheduled to do some other things on behalf of the Minister. I think he is commissioning something and he mentioned that. So, he was scheduled to come and do this, hoping that, by 11. 15 a.m. he could finish and also take the assignment at the Ministry. And because we could not enter very early, that was the reason he came to tell us that -- if this could be done on their behalf, while he goes to hold the fort. So, that is the reason -- other than that, at least, one of them would have been here to represent the Ministry. Thank you.

Speaker
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

Mr Speaker, to prevent my Hon Colleague from further perspiration, I guess we would allow the Hon Minister, if the document is ready.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Hon Minister for Employment and Labour Relations, on behalf of the Minister for Finance, item number 4 on the Order Paper.

PAPERS

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Hon Majority Chief Whip?

Speaker
Alhaji Muntaka

Mr Speaker, can we take item number 9 on the Order Paper -- page 2, that is, Minerals and Mining (Amendment) Bill, 2014? We have the Hon Minister here, together with the Hon Chairman of the Committee.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Hon Majority Chief Whip, yesterday, the Majority Leader informed us that you had not finished working on that issue. Have you resolved it now?

Speaker
Alhaji Muntaka

Mr Speaker, the information given me a while ago, from the Hon Majority Leader, is that, all outstanding issues have been dealt with, with regard to item number 9. And that was when we had to signal the Hon Minister to be here.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Yes, but you know under the rules of the House, we have order of business. What is happening to item numbers 5 to 8? Are we taking them?

Speaker
Alhaji Muntaka

Mr Speaker, well, the indication I have from the Hon Chairpersons are that, these are not ready. One of them, I am told, the person has travelled, that is, Hon Agyemang-Manu, who is not around.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

What of item number 5? Is it not ready?

Speaker
Alhaji Muntaka

Yes, I was even cross- checking with the Hon Ranking Member and even though the Hon Chairman is saying one thing, the Hon Ranking Member is saying another thing, which I would not want to put before the House. But the understanding between the two is that, it is not ready to be taken. [Interruption.]

Speaker
Mr Speaker

So, are we taking it because I will want to get the understanding, so that I know exactly what we are doing?

Speaker
Alhaji Muntaka

Mr Speaker, I would be very grateful if you take the business that I have told you is available.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Hon Member, it does not work that way. Look at your rules -- look at Standing Order 53. There is priority with regard to order of business. So, if you would want to vary an order of business, you would have to apply. So, when you did not tell me anything and went straight to item number 9, I have to find out from you. You want to vary the order of business and you did not apply. And I will want to know the status because the item that you have called is being handled, by and large, by my deputies -- so that I can call them to come and take the Chair. This is because if I am not careful and I have not worked on the clause 2, I will find myself in a difficulty presiding over that clause. So, if I get the impression, then I know and I can invite the First Deputy Speaker to come and take the Chair to deal with the clause 2. That is why I am asking these questions.

Speaker
Alhaji Muntaka

Rightly so Mr Speaker. I am sorry. I am just following the convention that we normally have. Item number 5 -- the Hon Chairman of the Finance Committee says that it is not ready -- item number 6 is supposed to be led by Prof. George Yaw Gyan-Baffour, who is not around. Item numbers 7 and 8 are supposed to be led by Hon Agyemang-Manu who is also not around. The one that is ready is item number 9. So, Mr Speaker, with your indulgence and that of the House, I would be grateful if we could vary the Order of the House, to take item number 9, which is ready to be taken.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Very well. Hon Majority Chief Whip, we will take item number 9 if it is ready. Where is the Hon Deputy Majority Leader?

Speaker
Alhaji Muntaka

Mr Speaker, he just stepped out.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Very well. Hon Members, item number 9 on the Order Paper -- Minerals and Mining (Amendment) Bill, 2014 at the Consideration Stage.

BILLS -- CONSIDERATION

STAGE

[Resumption of Debate from 24/07/ 2015]

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Clause 2 -- delete to continue. Hon Chairman of the Committee, could you refresh the memory of the House from where we left off at the last Meeting?

Speaker
Chairman of the Committee (Alhaji Amadu B. Sorogho)

Mr Speaker, at the last Meeting, we almost came to the conclusion of amendments for the Bill. The only exception had to do with the penalty section in which the First Deputy Speaker directed that, the draftsperson takes appropriate measures to correct the rendition of the subclause, having regard to the penalty, after which we were just going to take the Long Title and bring it to a close. So, the draftsperson was only to give us a new rendition, taking cognisance of the penalties. The problem had to do with fixing the upper and lower limits and Mr Speaker thought that it was not correct -- if you would recollect. That is where we got to.

FIRST DEPUTY SPEAKER

Speaker
Mr Haruna Iddrisu

Mr Speaker, thank you very much. The Hon Chairman of the Committee was asked a very simple question by the Speaker to guide the House on where we are on the Minerals and Mining (Amendment) Act. I have seen the Hon

Speaker
Mr Haruna Iddrisu

Chairman labouring to conclude by saying that, we were just left with some matter to deal with.

Speaker
Dr Anthony A. Osei

Mr Speaker, I believe we are discussing a Bill. The Hon Minster has been in Parliament for a long time and he says “Minerals and Mining Act”. We are considering a Bill. So, how could a senior Member of Parliament call it that? I would want him to correct himself.

Speaker
Mr H. Iddrisu

Mr Speaker, I am reading from the Bill that is still being discussed and it reads; “Minerals and Mining (Amendment) Act, 2014”.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Is it not a “Bill”?

Speaker
Mr H. Iddrisu

I agree but I am saying that, if I have been misled, I have been so misled by -- [Pause.]

Speaker
Dr A. A. Osei

Mr Speaker, we all have the same Order Paper. Do we have different Order Papers? How could he read “Act” and I read “Bill”. Mr Speaker, I think you might want to advise my good friend to go and see his optometrist.

Speaker
Mr H. Iddrisu

Mr Speaker, thankfully, I am not wearing spectacles as he is, but I am minded to guide that, he did a proper reading of page 3 of the Order Paper and I so proceed further with him that the Chairman should elaborate on where we are.

Speaker
Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

rose

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Hon Minority Leader, is it a point of order?

Speaker
MrKyei-Mensah-Bonsu

Yes Mr Speaker. Since the Hon Minister has opted to mislead the House further, the caption on the document before him is a ‘‘Bill'' and not an ‘‘Act'' . The document that he was reading from, read it. He is calling it an Act. What is the caption there? It is a Bill and deliberately, he has chosen to mislead this House. Mr Speaker, I am challenging him -- the caption of the document before him is a ‘‘Bill'' and not an ‘‘Act'' and if he dares me, he should lay it on the Table and let the document speak for itself.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Hon Minority Leader, I see the point that the Hon Minister is raising. If you look at the Bill itself, if you turn over to page -- the Bill entitled and then it ends up using the word “Act”. That is what is normally done. But at this stage, we are dealing with the Bill. So, if you could just correct yourself, I think that we would be alright.

Speaker
Mr H. Iddrisu

Mr Speaker, my Hon Colleagues know that I am very familiar with the process and procedure, including the ‘‘Ronaldo'' who has inflicted his problems on our Hon Majority Leader. The Hon Chairman should proceed by sharing better particulars on where we are on this Bill. Thank you.

Speaker
Alhaji Sorogho

Mr Speaker, you would recall that you sat in this very Chair when we concluded on this with regard to clause 2 -- the amendment proposed and you directed and I beg to read: ‘The Hon First Deputy Speaker directed the draftspersons to ensure appropriate rendition of the subclause having regard to the penalty.'' So, the following was forwarded to the draftspersons, so that they could just give their rendition, taking cognisance of the fact that, in the penalties, a lot of expressions were made as to the upper and lower limits -- so, he should direct. I am not in a position to say whether, as I speak now, the draftsperson has been able to do that. Mr Speaker, it is sad to know that, even though this was sent to the draftspersons, we have not received a reply till today. I would like to assure you that, immediately the House adjourns, I would drive personally and make sure that we get it, so that tomorrow, we could conclude on that very issue.

Speaker
Dr A.A. Osei

Mr Speaker, it is rather unfortunate. The Hon Majority Chief Whip has just told Mr Speaker that we are ready to deal with item number 9, and that is why Mr Speaker called you to come in. Now, the Hon Chairman gets up to say that he is sorry to tell us that he is not ready. Mr Speaker, let us be careful. At least, people should talk to one another. He cannot say one thing to the Mr Speaker, and then the First Deputy Speaker comes and another information is being -- it is as if we do not know what we are doing. We have come here very early, at 10.00 o'clock; we leave our homes to conduct Government Business and Government is telling us that on one hand they are ready, and on the other hand, they are not. Mr Speaker, this is a very serious thing that -- this House is a serious House and we ought to be taken serious. I think that the Hon Majority Chief Whip should be called to officially retract the statement. Otherwise -- this is a House of records and the records must be seen to be clear. I am scandalised.

Speaker
Dr A.A. Osei

Speaker
Alhaji Sorogho

Mr Speaker, if you look at clause 2, the amendment proposed, subclause 4, line 3 to 5, it was that, we were to delete “more than seventeen thousand penalty units or to a term of imprisonment of not more than ten”, and insert the following -- Mr Speaker, you would then see that it is now reduced from “seventeen thousand to five thousand, to not less than five thousand penalty units and not more than twenty thousand penalty units or to a term of imprisonment of not less than three years and not more than five years”. Mr Speaker, this was where the problem was and I recollect very well that an Hon Colleague from the other end, Hon Kofi even suggested that to him, it was too low and that it should --

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Hon Member, his full name please?

Speaker
Alhaji Sorogho

Hon Kofi Frimpong. He suggested that to him, that it was too low and that the issue of illegal mining was so distractive and so, in order to discourage it, we should still raise the bar. But there were a lot of discussions to the extent that, we should not give an upper limit. Which meant that we were going to, in one way or the other, take the work of the Judiciary.

Speaker
Alhaji Sorogho

Speaker
Alhaji Sorogho

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

And so, from what you are saying, the directive has not been carried out?

Speaker
Alhaji Sorogho

Mr Speaker, exactly.

Speaker
Dr A.A. Osei

Mr Speaker, bringing in a draftsperson does not capture the intent of Parliament. The draftsperson as he said, if I understood him, was supposed to make sure there was consistency between the penalty units and the years. The draftsperson cannot determine for this House whether the upper limit should be A, B, or C. The question he should be answering is, is the penalty unit consistent? There is a lower limit and an upper limit from the penalty unit and the same for the years. If that is the intent of the House, then that should be done, and we should move on and conclude. But he is not bringing the draftsperson to tell us that this should be the upper limit. He said there was a long debate --

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Actually, the draftsperson was supposed to advise the Committee. He was not supposed to impose his or her view on the matter --

Speaker
Dr A.A. Osei

That was precisely the point.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

But to advise the Committee -- and I think that has not been done. That is the reason we are in this state of affairs. Yes, Hon Minister for Employment and Labour Relations?

Speaker
Mr H. Iddrisu

Mr Speaker, thank you very much once again. I believe this is a House of record and that is why we have the Hansard, the Official Report. It is important that we go back to it and know what the position was. When the Hon Chairman took off, he just referred to clause 2, which is not our practice. He should have referred to the specific subclause of clause 2. Indeed, Mr Speaker, I am refreshing my memory and I hope my memory would not fail me. It was the Hon Minority Leader, who referred to the Memorandum and referred in particular, to paragraph 5. Mr Second Deputy Speaker -- This is because we needed to take a certain policy decision on small scale mining and whether foreigners associated with the businesses of small scale mining should not be given adequate and commensurate punishment to reflect the policy understanding as the Hon Minority Leader quoted. And with your permission, I am quoting. He read; “With regard to the activity of small scale illegal mining or ‘galamsey', their activities have reached epic proportions in the country…” I recall the Hon Minority Leader taking us through this. And so, Hon Chairman and Hon Minister, what we said in debating this was that, are foreigners even to take part in small scale mining? My understanding of the law and practice is that, it is a preserve only for Ghanaians and, therefore, one cannot go giving those low punishments. Particularly so, if the foreigner knows that,in going to do an illegal gold mining, he would get a gold bar worth US$1million, what does seventeen thousand penalty units or thirty thousand penalty units mean to that person? To borrow the word of the Hon Minority Leader, this was the gravamen where we got to, and there was conflict which was unresolved. So, Mr Speaker, we should proceed from that.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

I think my memory has been quite refreshed. I remember where we were, and what occasioned the deferment of the consideration of this particular clause. It is unfortunate that the work has not been done. I think that, all Hon Chairmen of Committees should take note that when directives are given, they are meant to be carried out, so that we do not face this kind of situation in the future. As it is, it does not appear we can make any progress in this regard. And so, Hon Chairman of the Committee, we would once again direct you to ensure that this advice is given by the draftspersons, so that we can make some progress as far as this particular clause of the amendment Bill is concerned?

Speaker
Dr A.A. Osei

rose

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Yes, Hon Member?

Speaker
Dr A.A. Osei

Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister for Employment and Labour Relations has raised one issue regarding policy. If I understand him correctly, then there is an issue of whether that clause should be applicable. And there is also another issue that the Hon Minority Leader raised, which is whether this seventeen thousand penalty units that was before, corresponds with ten years; and now, when he made the amendment, you go to twenty thousand penalty units and you are down to five years, was consistent or not? That is also another issue that I think was being debated. So, as they look at it, can he also help us in that regard, so that we can complete it?

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Thank you very much. Yes, Hon Chairman?

Speaker
Alhaji Sorogho

Mr Speaker, this issue came up several times where penalty units -- there is no law regulating penalty units. There is a directive that came from the Attorney-Generals' Department - Please, you hold on and listen. We debated this a lot. The law only came up to five years - five thousand penalty units. After that, anything above that was not correspon-ding to the term of imprisonment. Mr Speaker, this issue came up; we debated it on a number of -- especially with regard to Bills that came up through the Finance Committee, the Income Tax (Amendment) Bill, the Excise Duty (Amendment) Bill, the Customs (Amendment) Bill. This ran through, where the penalty units were explained. We were trying to find out why? Is it that the penalty units to two years is difficult to - but when you go to five, six, it is not times three or four. And they said, it was not corresponding. It is not like immediately you get to five years, it is above all the others, which were not going to correspond to the lower ones and that it was at the discretion of the Attorney- Generals' Department.

Speaker
Alhaji Sorogho

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Hon Chairman, in the light of what you have just said, do you think tomorrow would be adequate for this issue to be dealt with? I have my doubts.

Speaker
Alhaji Sorogho

Mr Speaker, I think we have gone past the argument we are advancing now. The issue was whether it was necessary to give an upper limit and that the Attorney-General's Department should bring a better rendition. I would be meeting with them after the House adjourns. We would do our best to make sure that this issue can be resolved tomorrow.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

We are relying on you and the Hon Members of your Committee to carry it out, if you are giving us the assurance. The only unfortunate thing is that, the Hon Minister would have to come back and deal with the matter again.

Speaker
Alhaji Sorogho

Mr Speaker, it is his Bill, so any time at all, we are here —

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

I agree; from what you are saying, we would be in the position to handle it tomorrow. Very well, In that case —

Speaker
Dr A. A. Osei

Mr Speaker, the Hon Chairman said it is the Bill of the Hon Minister for Lands and Natural Resources. It is not his Bill. It is before the House. It can no longer be his Bill. He is now our friend and senior and so, we shall make sure it passes.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Very well. Hon Members, in that case we will defer the consideration of this amendment Bill to tomorrow. Hon Majority Chief Whip, do we have any more business?

Speaker
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

Mr Speaker, the Hon Chairman of the Committee is espousing some principles that I find difficult to appreciate. The issue that we came to in dealing with the penalty list was that, we got to a threshold and stopped.We said that, further above that threshold, we had to look at the relativities. However, for him to say that the relativities do not matter but it becomes discretionary when we cross the threshold— That was not the underpinning. It is totally wrong in this espousal and I think that it should not be allowed to hold. We got to a threshold and said that, we could not continue ad infinitum. For instance, to say that, if we got a term of imprisonment by twenty, twenty-one or hundred years or a lifetime and so on and so forth, then we would be doing the adjustments. However, we got to a threshold and said that we should stop there and consider the relativities, so that we would consider the principles underpinning the relativities, if we cross the threshold. Therefore, if he says that beyond the threshold, it is discretionary, that is unfortunate and it cannot be allowed to hold in this House. Mr Speaker, I think my Hon Colleague is a young Member of Parliament (MP) in this House and as far as this matter is concerned, he should listen when I speak.

Speaker
Alhaji Sorogho

Mr Speaker, I said exactly what he has just said. I am surprised and do not know where the difference lies. There is a threshold and when one goes beyond that, we are saying that it should be measured. I am saying that, so long as it is left for one to measure, it becomes discretionary. It is a simple thing and we are all dancing the same tune and so, I am surprised at what he has said.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Very well. Hon Members, I think we should bring this ding-dong battle to an end. All that there is to it is that, the Table Office is being directed to ensure that by tomorrow, this issue would have been dealt with, so that we can move on.

Speaker
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

Mr Speaker, if the understanding of the Hon Chairman of his use of “discretion” is a resort to the application of relativities, I am comfortable.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Very well. Hon Members, this brings us to the end of the Consideration Stage for today as far as the Minerals and Mining (Amendment) Bill, 2014 is concerned.

Speaker
Alhaji Mohammed-Mubarak Muntaka

Mr Speaker, the indication from earlier discussions with the Leadership was that, it was better to do the winnowing, so that it could move faster. Since the Hon Minister is around, we want to crave the indulgence of the House to adjourn and immediately move into the winnowing section, so that we would winnow as many as possible to enable us move faster from tomorrow. Mr Speaker, with that understanding, I beg to move, that this House should stand adjourned until tomorrow at 10.00 o'clock in the forenoon.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Thank you very much. Any seconder? Hon Chairman, I think it is a question of semantics. He was not here when all those debates were ongoing. We are adjourning for you and your team to put things together, so that we can move tomorrow — Whether it is winnowing or whatever terminology you would want to use.

Speaker
Mrs Irene Naa Torshie Addo

Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion for adjournment. Question put and Motion agreed to.

ADJOURNMENT

The House was accordingly adjourned at 12:27 p.m. till Friday, 30th October, 2015 at 10.00 a.m.