MR FIRST DEPUTY SPEAKER
VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS AND THE OFFICIAL REPORT
Hon Members, Correction of Votes and Proceedings of Thursday, 29th October, 2015. Hon Members, we have the Business of the House -- Hon Deputy Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, as the Vice Chairman of the Business Committee, I would want to present the
Order! Order! Can you speak a bit loud for everybody to hear you?
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Mr Speaker, the Committee met yesterday, Thursday, 29th October, 2015 and arranged business of the House for the Second Week ending Friday, 6th November 2015. Mr Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 56 (1), the Committee accordingly submits its Report as follows: Arrangement of Business Question(s) Mr Speaker, the Committee has programmed the following Ministers to respond to Questions asked of them during the week: No. of Question(s) i. Minister for Employment and Labour Relations -- 1 ii. Minister for Transport -- 1 iii. Minister for Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts -- 1 iv. Minister for Education -- 4 Total number of Questions -- 7 Mr Speaker, four (4) Ministers are expected to attend upon the House to respond to seven (7) Questions during the week. Statements Mr Speaker, pursuant to Order 70 (2), Ministers of State may be permitted to make Statements of Government policy. Your goodself may also admit Statements to be made in the House by Hon Members in accordance with Order 72. Bills, Papers and Reports Mr Speaker, Bills may be presented to the House for First Reading and those of urgent nature may be taken through the various stages in one day in accordance with Order 119. Papers and committee reports may also be presented to the House. Motions and Resolutions Mr Speaker, Motions may be debated and their consequential Resolutions, if any, taken during the week. Mr Speaker, the Business Committee takes this opportunity to inform all Hon Members of a CPA-Africa Region Speakers and Presiding Officers Conference scheduled to be held from Sunday, 1st November, 2015 to Friday, 6th November 2015 at the La Palm Royal Beach Hotel, La, Accra. Conclusion Mr Speaker, in accordance with Standing Order 160 (2) and subject to Standing Order 53, the Committee submits to this honourable House, the order in which the business of the House shall be taken during the week. Question -- Q.465. Mr Bright Edward Kodzo Demordzi (Bortianor-Ngleshie Amanfro): To ask the Minister for Employment and Labour Relations what the approved admission fee for Integrated Community Centres for Employable Skills in the country is. Statements -- Presentation of Papers -- 2013 Annual Report and Financial Statements of the Architectural and Engineering Services Limited. Motions -- Adoption of the Report of the Public Accounts Committee on the Performance Audit Report of the Auditor-General on the GETFund- Funded Infrastructural Projects in public tertiary institutions. Consideration Stage of Bills -- Immigration Service Bill, 2015. Committee sittings. Wednesday, 4thNovember 2015 Question -- Q.466.Mr Frank Annoh-Dompreh (Nsawam-Adoagyiri): To ask the Minister for Transport what the Ministry is currently doing to revamp the Accra -Nsawam Railway line. Statements -- Motions -- (a) Second Reading of Bills -- The Chartered Institute of Taxation Bill, 2014.
(b) Adoption of the Report of the Public Accounts Committee on the Performance Audit Report of the Auditor-General on the construction of the Achimota - Ofankor road project. Consideration Stage of Bills -- Immigration Service Bill, 2015 Minerals Development Fund Bill, 2014. Committee sittings. Question -- Q.467.Mr Frank Annoh-Dompreh (Nsawam-Adoagyiri): To ask the Minister for Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts how much has accrued into the Tourism Development Fund from October 2012 to date. Statements -- Consideration Stage of Bills -- Intestate Succession Bill, 2013. (Continuation of Debate) Right to Information Bill, 2013. Committee sittings. Questions -- Q.484. Mr Alex K. Agyekum (Mpohor): To ask the Minister for Education when the Administration Block Complex and the 3-storey classroom block at Mpohor Senior High School will be completed. Q.485. Ms Freda Akosua Prempeh (Tano North): To ask the Minister for Education what steps are being taken to improve educational infrastructure at Terchire Senior High School, especially the construction of classroom and administration blocks. Q.486. Ms Freda Akosua Prempeh (Tano North): To ask the Minister for Education what steps are being taken to improve educational infrastructure at Yamfo Senior High School, especially the construction of girls' dormitory, classroom and administration blocks. *487. Ms Freda Akosua Prempeh (Tano North): To ask the Minister for Education what steps are being taken to improve educational infrastructure at Yamfo Vocational Training Centre. Statements -- Motions -- Third Reading of Bills -- Immigration Service Bill, 2015. Consideration Stage of Bills -- Intestate Succession Bill, 2013. (Continuation of Debate). Right to Information Bill, 2013. Committee sittings.
Thank you. Mr Joe J. Appiah — rose --
Yes, Hon Member?
Mr Speaker, the House Committee met yesterday and discussed issues concerning our office complex building. Mr Speaker, as Members of Parliament are still transacting business from their car boots -- For example, this morning, I did business from my car boot. Meanwhile, these offices are now ready. When are we taking over them? I thought at least that issue would have been in the business of the House for next week. As I speak to you now, we have not heard anything from Leadership about moving into our offices. Mr Speaker, I would want the Leadership to tell us when we would be taking over our offices and stop doing business from our car boots. Thank you.
Mr Speaker, the House met and the Hon Majority Leader briefed us extensively on the programme of moving to our offices. So, the programme has already been given to us in this very House.
Mr Speaker, I am a member of the House Committee -- but what I am saying is that,it should have been in the Business of the House scheduled for next week. Everything that should be done next week should be in the business of the House. That is what I am talking about. The Hon Deputy Majority Leader should brief the House -- he should tell us precisely when we are taking over the offices, Mr Speaker.
Well, Hon Member, I am reliably informed that the Whips are handling this matter and I believe we have come very close to the realisation of your dreams. So, if we can leave the Whips to handle it, I would be very grateful.
Mr Speaker, the Ministry of Finance, as per the National Health Insurance Act, is supposed to submit to this House, a report about the releases of the funds for the consideration of the House. Mr Speaker, I remember in June when the Hon Minister for Finance was in this House, Mr Speaker ruled that the National Health Insurance Act required that twice in every year, reports as regards releases of the funds were supposed to be submitted to this House. Mr Speaker ruled that such reports had to be submitted to the House as per the Act. Mr Speaker, we are in the last quarter of the 2015 fiscal year but we have not received any report as regards releases of the funds. Service providers are seriously suffering and Hon Members, of course, are also in the same soup. I would want to know -- There is no indication in the Business Statement when the Hon Minister would come to this House to give us such reports. So, Mr Speaker, I would want your direction on that.
Hon Member, do you not think that this would be a proper Question to be filed by you for the Hon Minister responsible to come and answer? I think that would be a better approach. In the absence of any further questions, I direct that the Business Statement for the Second Week of the Third Meeting be hereby adopted as business for that week. Yes, Hon Members, there is no Statement that has been admitted by the Hon Speaker. So, at the commencement of Public Business -- Presentation of Papers. Hon Deputy Majority Leader?
Which item are you referring to?
Mr Speaker, item five.
Very well. Item five. You are seeking permission for the Hon Deputy Minister to do so on behalf of the Hon Minister? Any objections?
Mr Speaker. it is fair enough.[Pause.]
Do I take it that you are agreeable to having the Hon Deputy Minister stand in for the Hon Minister?
Yes, Mr Speaker. That is what I meant by what I just said.
Very well. Thank you very much. Yes, Hon Deputy Minister?
Yes, Hon Deputy Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, could we take item 10?
Yes! But what is happening? Have you sought to vary the order of proceedings, since you are moving from item 5 to 10? What are your reasons?
Mr Speaker, I think that the Hon Minister is ready and the Chairman of that Committee is also here. So, we are alright. [Pause.]
Yes, Chairman of the Committee? I can see an addendum Paper. Is that what we are referring to now, Hon Deputy Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I would want to seek your leave to abandon the earlier amendment as advertised and in its place -- [Interruption].
Very well. Before we proceed, the Minerals and Mining Amendment Bill, 2014 at the Considera-tion Stage -- [Pause.] Yes, Chairman of the Committee?
BILLS -- CONSIDERATION
[Resumption of debates from 29/10/ 2015]
Mr Speaker, I seek your leave to abandon the amendments advertised on the Order Paper of today and replace them with the addendum of today with regard to clause 2. Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 2, subclause (4), lines 3 to 5, delete “more than seventeen thousand penalty units or to a term of imprisonment of not more than ten” and insert the following: “. . . not less than two thousand penalty units and not more than twenty thousand penalty units or to a term of imprisonment of not less than five years and not more than ten . . . ” This takes care of all the problems that we had with regard to the amendment we sought to move yesterday.
Very well. Hon Members.
Yes, Hon Member for Old Tafo?
Mr Speaker, the Hon Chairman should give a rationale for arriving at this conclusion, so that we can decide whether to support it. Without his rationale, we are constrained.
Hon Chairman, while you give the rationale, please, also take note of the concerns raised early on and how this new amendment would address them.
Mr Speaker, the rationale is that, here, we have introduced the maximum penalty units and the minimum penalty units and allowed the Judiciary to interpret and apply the sanctions as required. However, in doing that, we took cognisance of the Interpretation Act of 2009, which gives the penalty units, the maximum duration of imprisonment and then the fine equivalent. We took that into consideration in arriving at what we have now. Therefore, it is to give the upper and lower limits and allow the Judiciary to do their own -- It is also punitive enough to deter people from going into illegal mining. In fact, this has been reinforced by what the Committee on Energy and Mines saw yesterday with regard to the kind of pollution that has been done to the Birim, Pra and other rivers that serve as sources of water for the communities. It is so serious that if we do not put in enough punitive measures, people would still do that and we might think that this is enough to deter people from going into that illegal activity.
Very well. Unless, there are really other comments, I will put the Question. Question put and amendment agreed to Now, Chairman of the Committee, can you direct us?
Mr Speaker, we go back to the main Order Paper. I see here an amendment standing in the name of Hon Kwasi Amoako-Attah. So, if Hon Kwasi Amoako-Attah is here, he can speak to that amendment. Mr Speaker, this is because, as far as I am concerned, I do not know of that amendment and the Committee did not discuss it. So, if Hon Kwasi Amoako-Atta is here, he can -- [Interruptions] -- This is because the amendment is not in the name of the Hon Chairman.
Mr Speaker, but it is not up to the Hon Chairman to call him. Mr Speaker, that is improper. [Interruptions].
Hon Members, let us have some order. Is the Hon Member in the Chamber?
Yes, Mr Speaker.
Hon Amoako-Attah, can we hear you then?
Mr Speaker, I am very much surprised about the position of the Hon Chairman. This is because an amendment needs not stand in his name as the Hon Chairman if he is not the one proposing it. I follow the --
Hon Member, I do not think that was the impression he created. He only said it was not in his name, but rather in your name. That is why we would want to hear from you. I think that we do not need to quarrel about this. So, can we hear you then?
Very well. Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, the proposed amendment is supposed to follow clause 2 (6), and with your kind permission, I would like to quote: “(6) A court which convicts a person for an offence under subsection (2), (3) or (4) shall in addition to the penalty that it may impose, order the forfeiture of any equipment or product seized under subsection (5) to the State.” Mr Speaker, flowing from this, I beg to move, the following amendment as an addition to the amendment on the Order Paper.
“Within the period of thirty days, the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources shall publish in the Gazette and in the newspaper of nationwide circulation the name of appropriate State institution to which confiscated equipment or product is to be allocated.”
Let us clear this first. If you talk about the Gazette, do we not understand it the way it is? If you start talking about newspapers and all that, would that not create problems?
Mr Speaker, then we can maintain the “Gazette”. I would want to give the rationale behind this proposal.
Fine; go ahead.
Mr Speaker, if an equipment is confiscated to the State, it must be allocated to an organisation. This is because, here, we are talking about heavy equipment. So, once the High Court has given effect to the confiscation, there must be an action taken on it, either it is allocated to the appropriate institution as I have put down, or it is auctioned. Otherwise, it would be left hanging and it can lead to all kinds of things. This is because that activity can only end, if following the confiscation an action is taken to define the destination of the equipment so seized. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Thank you very much. Hon Member for Old Tafo?
Mr Speaker, I wish to add my voice to support the Hon Member for offering this amendment, and I would want to crave the indulgence of the Ministry to support it, so that forfeited equipment do not lie somewhere and rot forever. This way, if the Hon Minister so chooses, even in his own department, he may allocate some of these heavy equipment. Otherwise, they would keep on looking for money to buy these equipment. The road sector could use it. There are several Ministries, in particular, the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) who need equipment for development in their areas. In the meantime, we would seize an equipment and leave it in some place to rot. So, I crave the Hon Minister 's indulgence to support this amendment, so that Government can make use of such equipment.
Mr Speaker, I also rise to support this amendment. Experience with governance shows that when it comes to decision- making relating to certain matters, it can run into a bureaucratic nightmare. Mr Speaker, even with confiscated vehicles, those who have had experience with it would know that it becomes very murky. If it is confiscated to the State, it is in the custody of the Hon Minister. We know the way the Government itself works. Even before a final decision would be taken on it, it may take two years. After the decision is taken, it would just be a piece of ironmongery. This compels the Government to take action expeditiously. It also in a way, gives a bit of accountability in respect of how these equipment are disposed of. I believe that this amendment would go a long way to meet the needs of the Bill itself -- the purpose of the law. This is to ensure that it becomes very useful to the State. I believe that every Hon Member of this House would support it. It is in the right direction. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Yes, Hon Deputy Minister, before I come to the Hon Chairman of the Committee. Baba Jamal M. Ahmed: Thank you, Mr Speaker. As much as I agree with the proposal that there must be a time limit within which the equipment so confiscated should be allocated and its publication, when you look at the amendment, it talks about the publication of the names of the State institutions to which the equipment have been allocated. He has asked that this be done within 30 days. It is the time limit that I am looking at. It means that the allocation has to be done from the day of the confiscation, once it is completed, before the publication can be made. I think that the 30 days would be too short, looking at how State institutions operate and the procedures involved. Therefore, I would rather ask for a further amendment to extend the time to maybe, 60 days, which is two months; so that within that time, it can be properly disposed of, all inventories would be taken and then it could be published. That gives some laxity. If we make it too strict, it makes it difficult for institutions to comply.
It is not only disposing of it. The court would finish its case, after that these equipment may now have to be properly taken care off, then they would do the allocation. After the allocation, there should be publication. [Interruptions] -- It is not allocation. The 30 days would be too short for any government agency to go through this process. I think that we should do a further amendment by extending it to 60 days. This is because 30 days would surely be too short for a process to be ecompleted.
Mr Speaker, first of all, I am a bit surprised, that -- I do not know whether the Hon Member is speaking in his capacity as an Hon Member of Parliament or as an Hon Deputy Minister, when the Hon Minister for Lands and Natural Resources is seated in front of him. I do not know if they have had a discussion.
No! We will come to the Hon Minister. But I would want Hon Members to make contributions, so that the Hon Minister would have the opportunity to address --
Mr Speaker, if the Ministry knows that the issue is going to court, work could be undertaken in preparation of the allocation. In fact, if we are very efficient, the very day the court gives the order, it could be allocated. As to his reference to doing it [BABA AHMED] the proper way, what proper way? They seize it and they know it is going to the Ministry of Roads and Highways, they take the decision. As for the publication, once they allocate it, they would get it there. Sixty days for what? We want Government to be efficient. The work can be done prior to going to court and they know their assessment -- all the Ministries know their needs. In fact, one can request all the Ministries to give one an indication of their needs and prepare the allocation even before the decision is taken. So, the day the court decides, they could allocate and publish. What do we need the 60 days for? That is what gives room for people to be lazy. This is nothing scientific. Every Ministry knows its needs, including the Hon Deputy Minister's own Ministry; every Ministry, Department and Agencies (MDA) knows their needs. Government can urge them to prepare their needs assessment ahead of time, knowing very well that the case would be going to court. Therefore, it is easy to allocate in a day. In a day, the Hon Minister can go to Cabinet and say that, he thinks that, on the basis of priority, the Ministry of Roads and Highways is the priority. It is done. What do they need 60 days for? The court's decision ends the matter.
Well, Hon Member, then after that --
Mr Speaker, just a bit of disagreement with what the Hon Member for Employment and Labour Relations espoused. The suggestion of 60 days is, in my point of view, superfluous. This is because, as a nation, we seek to make our institutions of State work and become effective and it is important that we tend to move away from our comfort zone.We heard the Hon Member who spoke earlier referred to what Government institutions are used to. We need to begin to revert our minds to an attitude of making our State institutions effective. The 30 days are enough. If our institutions of State are performing effectively, 30 days are good enough for them to do what they are supposed to do. I would want to go by the suggestion for 30 days and not the sixty days. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Very well. I call the Hon Member-- after that we will listen to Hon Baba Jamal and then the Hon Minister will have the opportunity to speak to the proposed amendment.
Mr Speaker -
I am saying this because I realise we are ad idem as far as the amendment itself is concerned. It is the question of either 30 days or 60 days, which is the bone of contention.
Mr Speaker, I even thought the 30 days was too long, only for the Hon Deputy Minister to pray this House to extend it to 60 days. Mr Speaker, it is what we put in law, which makes the institutions work the way they do. The Constitution requires that when one is laying some instrument or Regulations, the same day one brings it to Parliament, one causes it to be published in a gazette and it is complied with. Therefore, if we make a law that says that the same day they do the allocation, they must cause the allocation to made. I do not know why the processes leading to the allocation would not take into consideration the issues of publication to make that happen simultaneously. I would further require that, we actually change it from 30 days to seven (7) days. Thank you, Mr Speaker. Baba Ahmed: Mr Speaker, before I even react to that, I would want my Senior Colleague, Hon Dr A. A. Osei to understand that he is my senior in Parliament. Is the name Osei Akoto or Hon Akoto Osei? I want the Hon Member for Old Tafo Dr Osei Akoto to know that, I was an Hon Member of Parliament (MP) before I became an Hon Deputy Minister. Therefore, when I speak, especially concerning things not from the Ministry, I speak as an MP and I have every right to do so. I would want to express my opinion on this, because he is aware -- I know he has been an Hon Minister for long time and he knows the processes involved in allocating things to institutions. I say this because he is not talking allocation; he is talking about publication. Therefore, needs assessment should have been done; they should have gone through all the processes of acquisition and allocation before they finally do the publication. If we look at these processes, as Legislators, if we are making laws, we make a law that we know would stand the test of time. We do not just make laws because we want institutions to be compelled to do things that may be impossible for them. That is why I am saying that, if we look at the 30 days within which -- First, the decision is taken; second, assessments are conducted -- allocations, processes and so on are done. Therefore, we would have got to a point where 30 days would have passed. I asked for 60 days and I know I am not going to be sued if we would be fair to all the issues -- 60 days would be reasonable enough to ensure the Hon Minister is not put under any pressure to do what must be done.
Very well. Hon Members, we have two more contributions before we get to the Hon Minister. Yes, what is it?
Mr Speaker, I think the Hon Deputy Minister is misleading this House. He said he was a Member of Parliament (MP) before he became an Hon Minister. That is incorrect. Baba Ahmed: That is correct.
He was a Deputy Minister in the Eastern Region before he became [Interruption.] Please, correct yourself. Baba Ahmed: Mr Speaker, that is not true. When one finishes a term, one is re- appointed, and I became an MP before I was re-appointed. So, he cannot say - -I was an Hon Minister [Interruption]-- I finished a term and after that, I was re- appointed and re-vetted before I was taken to a new Ministry. So, I was not an Hon Minister then. That is a fact.
Mr Speaker --
Very well. Hon Members, let us leave this bit out of it, so that we can listen to the Hon Chairman of the Committee and the Hon Minister.
Mr Speaker, I have been listening very attentively to all the arguments but let us go back to the Bill and read it. It is like, in our attempt to -- Mr Speaker, with your permission, I beg to quote: “A court which seeks to convict a person for an offence under subsection (2), (3) or (4) shall in addition to the penalty that it may impose, order the forfeiture of any equipment or product seized under subsection (5) to the State.” Mr Speaker, what does this imply? What is a product? We are only looking at equipment. For example, when one takes an equipment -- a shovel is an equipment. Mr Speaker, gold -- We are talking of illegal mining. People are mining illegally -- We seize the product -- the gold. It could even be ore, which could be processed. Mr Speaker, these are all products. Secondly, how does one sit down and know that it is only the Ministry of Roads and Highways that needs an excavator. Mr Speaker, when the courts seize the items, they would know what inventory they have. These are the equipment that have been seized. They would then publish that the institutions that are interested should apply. Mr Speaker, in fairness, if we are not careful, we are also going to accuse them of giving them to only one Ministry. Let the advertisement be done, that these are the equipment that have been seized as a result of so and so and these institutions which are in need of them could apply. There may be more institutions and when they do that, we would now need time to sort out those which need the equipment more. I agree very well; let us not think that the equipment could only be caterpillar. A pick-axe is an equipment; shovel -- gold is a product and the law recognises that. Therefore, let us not rush. This is the first time that I am hearing the words” confiscated to the State”. There are processes by which allocations are made. Why do we want to sit down here and legislate the way to allocate? I am surprised. It does not only apply to this; there are several of them. Mr Speaker, I would beg my Brother to abandon it; let us leave it to the State to confiscate it to the State and the processes that are used in the allocation -- If we rush and put “30 days” there and then the product is gold or we even need to send it to other places, for example, the Standards Authority, for them to ascertain whether it is 15 karats or 20 karats-- All of that takes time. One cannot allocate something that one is not sure of. So, Mr Speaker, I think that, in the best interest of all of us, it is confiscated to the State -- It has been done for a very long time; there are processes that are in place for allocations to be done. You cannot not just go and allocate to an institution -- You need to advertise; let them know that these are the equipment that have been seized: those who are interested should please, apply. If there are more institution than the number of equipment, then, there would be the need to sort them out. Yes, I agree that we should not just allow it but there are institutions and procedures by which -- [Interruption] - - I have already told you. But how do you legislate --
Hon Chairman, can you educate me a little. What kind of procedures are in existence as we speak?
Mr Speaker, I am saying that in the first place, the law is not recognising only equipment. Everybody has been talking about equipment. It says “product” -- Please!
No! Your point is well made -- “equipment” and ‘product'. But I would want to find out - The evil that the proposed amendment is seeking to cure is the temptation for the Hon Minister to go to sleep after the confiscation. So, if there is some laid down procedure for dealing with that kind of thing and you can educate us on it, then fine. Otherwise, we would ask the Hon Minister to address the issue and let us see --
Mr Speaker, I agree very perfectly. But the Hon Member for Old Tafo (Dr Osei Akoto), is showing the same thing - - a product “equipment or product”. My question, what is a product? I have given him the scenario of the different types of products. Mr Speaker, I am of the strong opinion that if we want to sit here and legislate because immediately the courts declare that, yes, it is confiscated, then the law starts to apply. Now, it is called product -- We do not know. It is ore and we need to go and start to refine it. For thirty days, it would either be at Ghana Standards Authority or Precious Minerals Marketing Company Limited (PMMC). When that happens, is the law going to say that you have not complied with it? [BABA AHMED] [ALHAJI SOROGHO]
Mr Speaker, I am surprised that we should sit here and legislate on this. If we can say that yes, it must be done -- yes but to give time that within thirty days it should be done, how?
Very well. Hon Amoako-Attah, can you address this issue?
Mr Speaker, the Hon Chairman of the Committee has made a very long submission. In my respectful view, the Hon Chairman is only begging the proposed amendment. All that he has said, he is only begging the proposed amendment. In law making, the language must be precise -- the language must be simple and the language must be unambiguous. He is going into interpreta- tion. I am not talking about an event in this process. I am talking about the way the Hon Minister for Lands and Natural Resources would go in dealing with this matter -- whether it is an “equipment” or a “product” is immaterial. We even have Precious Minerals Marketing Company (PMMC) -- If it is a product, it lies in the mouth of the Hon Minister to do the allocation. If it is an equipment, it is the prerogative powers that we want to confer on the Hon Minister to take a decision on the confiscated item, be it an equipment or product, so that it does not remain hanging. This is because if it is confiscated to the State, what is the State and who takes action? There is an Hon Minister responsible for the Ministry and all that I am saying is that, it is a good Bill, the amendment is good and it will address what is going on in the mining sector. I know what I am talking about. My constituency is one which is suffering when it comes to illegal mining. So, I am highly interested in this particular amendment. And it would go a long way to deal with galamsey and illegal mining in this country. To make it effective, as soon as the equipment, product or whatever it is, is confiscated, there must be a follow-up action for everybody to know that the people of Ghana mean business. This will bring an end to this illegal activity that is going on. Mr Speaker, I do not understand what the Hon Chairman is saying but I think the action must be prompt, and quick, so, the thirty days is enough.
All right. Hon Chairman of the Committee, you are not on a point of order, you want to respond to what the Hon Member just said. That is why I have given you the floor to speak.
Mr Speaker, I am not responding to what the Hon Member just said. But we are talking as if every equipment that is seized would be an equipment needed by an institution. What about if no institution is interested in that equipment? Do we then go for auction sales? Mr Speaker, let us not tie that clause “should be allocated”. What about if no institution is interested in that equipment? Are we going to leave it there?
Is it possible to extend it to include private institutions which would also be interested. Is it possible? Yes, Hon Member?
I thank you, Mr Speaker. I think this argument is not important. Please, let us look at the wording correctly. It says: “The Minister would have all the time he needs to do all the determination he wants but thirty days after making the allocation, publish …” So, your determination does not arise. Even that is too long. Take all the time you need to do your examination, to do your tender but once you have come to the end of the process, you have thirty days to announce to the world what is it and to whom you gave the product. So, this whole argument is much ado about nothing.
Well, I think one point he raised which appears to be of concern to me is whether we have to restrict it to State institutions alone. It has been confiscated to the State, right. But from there, what do we do if no State institution is interested? Are you not free to let some other private institutions show interest?
Mr Speaker, I think that it would be subject to abuse. If it is confiscated to the State, then it is confiscated to the State. Let the State enjoy it. If you bring the clause that the Hon Minister has the prerogative to give it to either the private or the State, it would be subject to abuse. We do not want to come back here and start talking about party matters. If it is confiscated to the State -- This is because you are meting out a punishment to somebody, do not let us go the route that the people of Ghana are arguing that we should change -- especially with what is happening from the confiscated cars. The people of Ghana, today, say we should change that because it is subject to abuse. The process is being abused left and right. So, it is confiscated to the State and the Hon Minister decides that they are selling it and putting the money to the use of the State. That is it. If the Hon Minister decides that we are giving it to a State institution to use, then that is it. But I think that for us now, to say that give it to a private individual, it is not --
No! That is not what we are saying. I agree with you, Hon Deputy Minority Leader. But what about the situation where, as he suggests, you do not get any State institution to be interested?
Yes, Dr Akoto Osei?
Mr Speaker, every time we read the Budget Statement, you would hear all the Ministries complaining that they do not have enough this or that. The needs of the Government are so huge that, some State institutions would need it. If it is a product, PMMC is a State institution. So, what is the problem? The difficulty they were having was that they were not reading the language. As my Hon Colleague said, one has to take time to do all the processes of allocation, but once one finishes with the allocation, the Minister has 30 days to publish it; a simple language. And so, why is he arguing? Mr Speaker, the difficulty we have is that we do not want what is happening at the Ghana Customs Service to happen, where parties take it upon themselves to give them to party officials. Let the State enjoy the benefit. That is good for Ghana. They should adopt it, so that we can close. So, Mr Speaker, I think that the Hon Minister, in his wisdom, understood our argument. I am sure he would support us, so that we can bring the matter to an end. First, they were not reading the language, and so, the man came and said, “processes . . .” -- What processes? He should take his time. If it takes 90 days for the processing, that does not stop him. But once one finishes -- I would want to further amend it to seven day. This is because he has finished. Mr Speaker, once one has taken 90 days or whatever, what more time does one need?
Yes, Hon Deputy Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, the Hon Chairman has a point, which we need to consider. The amendment is saying within 30 days, there should be a publication.
The amendment does not say “within 30 days”. It said “within a period of 30 days”. So he should read the amendment properly.
Mr Speaker, “within the period --”
The problem is, after the confiscation and we legislate that, within a period of 30 days, there should be a publication stating which institution the allocation has been made to. Mr Speaker, the problem is that, as the Hon Chairman said, if within a period of 30 days, no institution has expressed interest and no allocation has been made to any institution, the publication would not have been complete. This is because we are asking that within that period, there should be a publication stating the institution to which the allocation has been made. But where there is none, the law cannot apply. That is the problem the Hon Chairman is having, and I think it is proper that we consider that matter.
Mr Speaker, when the case is in the court, nobody is guarding the court with the period, but once the confiscation has been done and the allocation is done, the Minister has within a period of 30 days to publish it. I do not see why we have that problem. That is what he is saying.
Hon Members, I think the point is well taken after the Hon Member for Bekwai raised the issue. I think that all these things would have been done and after that, the Minister would be bound to make a publication indicating which State institution the particular equipment or product has been allocated to. Now, the question is, assuming, as he said, that no State institution shows interest in the equipment or product, what happens?
Mr Speaker, I think in the last line, “to be allocated” should be “is allocated”.
Are you using the microphone? I cannot hear you.
Speak into the microphone.
It says; “the product is to be allocated”. The “to be” should be deleted, so that we are left with “the product is allocated”.
Hon Amoako-Attah, I understand you amended your original proposal? Come out with the amendment to the original proposal, so that we can stay away from it, if that is the case. Unless of course, there is no further amendment to it.
Mr Speaker, my amendment is seeking to deal with the equipment or the product so confiscated.
Can you read the amended version of your amendment?
The amended version would be “within thirty days after the confiscation of the equipment or the product, the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources shall publish in the gazette the name of the appropriate State institution to which the confiscated equipment or product is allocated.” Baba Jamal Mohammed Ahmed -- rose --
I hope you are addressing what he has just read out? Baba Ahmed: Mr Speaker, the amendment as he has read, is alright, based on the fact that the Hon Member for Bekwai has clarified the position. The problem we have not resolved here is what the Hon Chairman continues to raise, that if there is a product where no State institution is interested in or can use, what happens to that product or equipment? If we sell it to a private institution, it is the same. The State is still enjoying it because the money comes to the State. So, I may say that what we need to indicate is that, if one wants to say that State institutions or otherwise, take the “State” out and say “the institution” to which the product is allocated, in that sense, if it is a State institution, a private institution or whoever it is allocated that, his or her name would be published to the public. But if you leave it hanging, it means that if the equipment is not useful to a State institution, it should sit down to rot, which is not the purpose of the law. I do not think that is the purpose of this amendment. The amendment is to ensure clarity, that whatever equipment that has been confiscated, has been allocated and when it was allocated, A or B has it. That is the purpose of that amendment.
The issue has also been raised the likelihood of abuse and so, let us address both. If no State institution shows interest, under what conditions can the private institution be permitted to show interest? I think if we address these two, we can -- Yes, Hon Opare-Ansah?
Mr Speaker, I do not think the issue of interest even arises. The amendment is not asking it to be allocated to a State institution that shows interest. It says, allocate it to the appropriate institution. For every piece of equipment or product, the Minister can make a determination the appropriate State institution which it has to be allocated. I heard the Hon Chairman saying “pick- axe, shovel to the Public Works Department (PWD)”. He should tell us the product or the equipment and I would tell him which State institution to send it to. We are not operating in a vacuum. Baba Ahmed: Gold.
Gold would go to Precious Minerals Marketing Company Limited (PMMC). We are not operating in a vacuum. We know the type of equipment that these -- Baba Ahmed: Sacks --
Mr Opare-Ansah: Sacks would go to Cocoa Marketing Board (CMB).
Hon Member, please, address the Chair?
My point is that, it is not going to be solely the responsibility of the Minister to determine how to dispose of every piece of equipment or product. If they have no use for it, they can dispose of it as part of the assets of the Ministry, that from time to time, they dispose of to get funds accruing to that particular institution. But it should not be the sole responsibility of the Minister in this instance, to dispose of all the assets and do the allocation. Mr Speaker, experience has shown us that not allowing the State to benefit from these things and rather allowing allocations to be done to individuals and private institutions is subject to abuse. We would not make laws to support that abuse.
Yes, Hon Chairman?
Mr Speaker, as I look closely at even the amendment, there should be further amendment. If we say that within a period of 30 days, the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources -- [Interruption..] Mr Speaker, Mines has shifted from one Ministry to the other. So, tomorrow, if the portfolio changes the name -- So, I would rather even seek further amendment, that “the Minister responsible for Mines…” - - This is because today, it could be placed under the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources and tomorrow, it comes under Lands and Forestry and then another time, it goes under Mines. So, I would rather wait --
I agree with you but let us hear from the proposer. First of all, he has made a point and you were probably not paying attention, that instead of restricting it to Mines and whatever, the Ministry responsible for Mines -- Do you agree with him? Yes! Now, can we hear you with regard to your whole amendment?
Thank you, Mr Speaker.
“The Minister responsible for Mines shall within 30 days after the confiscation, allocate to the appropriate State institution and publish same in the gazette.”
Yes, Hon Deputy Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I think that it is very clear now that he has addressed all the three ingredients of his amendment, that the Minister responsible for Mines, as proposed by the Chairman is addressed. He has also addressed the period for the allocation after the confiscation to “within a period of 30 days”. Not just that, he has also addressed the period for the publication in the gazette, which is also a period of 30 days. So, that is the amendment and a perfect one now.
Hon Member, could you please, go over the current rendition?
Mr Speaker, the current rendition is: “The Minister responsible for Mines shall within 30 days after the confiscation, allocate to the appropriate State institution and publish same in the gazette.”
Mr Chairman, what do you say?
Mr Speaker, it is good but it does not answer the question if that State institution is not ready to take it. I am saying that let us not limit it --[Interruption.]
Hon Akoto Osei, why are you in a rush to get up? Please, sit down. You and I understand each other.
Hon Amoako-Attah, would you consider the possibility in the latter part of your current rendition, instead of just saying “allocate”, include “allocate the equipment or product” so that we are clear in our minds?
Mr Speaker, I am highly interested in whatever is confiscated to a State institution. I think it would be better and safer and it would address the highest interest of this nation. It should go to a State institution. I do not want private people to --
Yes, Hon Member?
Mr Speaker, I think we have examples in the confiscation of vehicles, where people bring in vehicles that are overaged and we all know the system. We understand the system. When one brings a vehicle that is overaged and knowing that it would be confiscated and it is said that it is going to be sold, he is ready to buy it back. Mr Speaker, I think it is important that we agree to let the”State institution” remain. This is because the whole thing is a deterrent. The person does it and we say we are selling it to an individual and he goes back to buy it. Then what have we done? So, if our interest is to make sure that it is a punishment or a deterrent, then we should agree to the “State institution”. And we should not have a problem with that; nobody loses in that. One is not supposed to do the thing-- there is a law and he goes ahead and does it, and then it is confiscated. After that, all that we are saying is that the Minister, within 30 days, should make sure that the allocation is made to the appropriate State institution. Mr Speaker, I am not so clear -- We all know the equipment we are talking about. So, why is it the case that we could even think that no State institution would need it? I think we should agree and then we could move on.
Yes, Hon Member? Baba Ahmed: Mr Speaker, I think the new rendition Hon Amoako-Attah has brought, changes the understanding and clarity given by the Hon Member for Bekwai. He moved it but we were all discussing it to a point where we had some understanding. The new rendition has changed the clarity given by the Hon Member for Bekwai. This is because the new rendition is now saying that -- [Interruption] -- It does not matter, if he is the mover, that is why he is on the floor of the House. Mr Speaker, so, what we are saying is that, he has now changed the whole thing and is saying that “the Minister responsible for Mines shall within 30 days after confiscation…”. That is where the problem is. What we were all accepting is that the processes would all go on but when it is allocated, within 30 days, it should be published and he has changed it. That definitely is not in the interest of all of us.
Of who? Baba Ahmed: All of us. Whoever would be the Minister would be responsible to do it.
Hon Deputy Minister, speak for yourself. Baba Ahmed: Mr Speaker, it is not good for me. [Laughter] This is because the way he is saying that he has interest in it, I also have interest in it -- [Laughter] -- and we are all from the same area. We share a border. So, we all eat from the same area. What I am saying is that -- [Interrruption] -- One is a small scale miner. So, there is a difference between the two. One is a galamsey operator and the other is a small scale miner. I am a small scale mine . So, I am a legal operator. Mr Speaker, on a more serious note, that was not the point I was making. What I am saying is that, the Hon Member for Bekwai gave a position which I thought we were all gearing towards but now, the new rendition has changed the face of the amendment. If one says that within 30 days it must be allocated and published, it means that the Minister has only 30 days within which to do all the processes. And that definitely, would not be enough for any Minister to do that.
Why? Baba Ahmed: That is why I would even propose 90 days. This is because within 90 days, we could look, if they know what we are talking about. Some people need to understand that when we talk about galamsey operations, there are a lot of things there. They sometimes use mercury, they use sacks and all sorts of things. All these things, when used and are confiscated, would need to be tested to see if they are the right things, which is not possible within 30 days. Mr Speaker, I am saying that the new rendition is completely off target. If he says within 30 days, equipment confiscated, need assessment done, all the processes that should be followed, should be pursued and published within 30 days. That is not possible. Within that 90 days -- within that -- I would not propose 90 days-- within 90 days --
Hon Deputy Minister, point well made. I will like to hear from the Chairman of the Committee with regard to this new rendition.
Mr Speaker, in order that we do not drag this for a very long time, I think that we must compromise and make sure that we end this issue. Mr Speaker, I agree perfectly with the concerns being shown by Hon Members, to make sure that our State institutions are well equipped. But I would just like to sound one caution.
the engine is faulty
Or pick up .
No, with a pick up, one could easily go and tow it. A dumper, a tipper truck, the engine is faulty -- The engine may cost about GH¢100,000.00 or GH¢200,000.00. I can assure you that no State institution would be interested in that dumper hiding somewhere in -- Where is my brother's constituency, where he is doing the mining?
Atiwa, where mining takes place. Mr Speaker, that is why I am saying that, let us take the “State” out. There is no Hon Minister who would by-pass the State institution and give property to a private person, if there is a State institution that is interested. Secondly, I would like to say that we should take the “State” out and say “appropriate institution”. There would be a lot of equipment scattered round our mines; nobody wants them, and yet because of this law, we cannot allocate, we cannot sell, we cannot auction, because this law is not even giving us room to auction, and we already have laws that are dealing with confiscated things. So, I am surprised. Why do we have to worry ourselves? The State institution -- it is allocated to the State. There is a Ministry that is in-charge of that. So, why do we have to say that the Ministry must allocate to a State institution within 30 days and publish it? What is the meaning of that? What I am saying is that --
After you, Hon Afenyo-Markin.
Thank you Mr Speaker --
I am saying the State institutions must go and then where --
Mr Speaker -- [Interruption.]
No -- [Interruption.]
I have been called. Mr Speaker has called me.
Mr Speaker has not asked me to sit down.
Mr Speaker? -- [Interruptions] Mr Speaker, I would have liked to go along with my illustrious Chairman, but he is just grossly misleading this House. Mr Speaker, all State institutions including Ministries --
Hon Chairman, could you listen to what he is saying?
All State institutions, Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) et cetera need cars -- cars, all the time -- [Interruptions]-- No! Please, listen carefully. We auction cars to individuals when we know we need cars. Does that make sense to us? Secondly, we want to deter the same unscrupulous individuals from turning round to go and buy these equipment. That is what we want to do. So, do not give any room or possibility for any unscrupulous person to have the opportunity to go back and buy the equipment. Thirdly, I do not know. My good friend -- he was saying that he is in that business, he has an interest. I do not think that is the subject matter under discussion. So, I do not want him to tell me, even though he is my friend and I know --
Yes, that one, I know. He is my friend, but it is in his interest as an Hon Minister and as a Ghanaian not to look at his personal motive. What are we trying to do? We are trying to deter people - unscrupulous people. Let us limit it to the State. Just so, we can go along. I think that the allocation of 60 days, we could make a compromise and go ahead. But this issue about the State and private, that is where the corruption is coming from. Human beings are fallible. If we give space, that is what is going to occur. Please, let us protect the people of Ghana.
Very well. Hon Member, your point is well made. Can we hear from Hon Afenyo- Markin?
Mr Speaker --
Please, on the same issue?
Yes, Mr Speaker. In principle, I am in support of the proposed amendment. However, since we know that the confiscation is done by a court of first instance, it is also appropriate for us to consider whether there is no appeal pending. This is because if we come out with this new rendition, that within a period of 30 days a Minister can through a publication allocate, we seem to be losing sight of the fact that an appeal may be pending. In an event where the person is successful on appeal, and around the same period the equipment has been allocated, it means that it has changed hands. If it has been used and it has broken down, what that means is that, there is going to be a cost to the State. So, I would have wished if my senior at the Bar would not mind that we further put in a caveat, that is to say -- and I do not intend to move that further amendment, but just to put it across for him to consider that within a period of 30 days, if there is no appeal pending -- because if we do not consider that then simpliciter, we are saying that once the court of first instance confiscates, the Minister, within 30 days, can do per what we are saying in the law. The person goes on appeal, he loses; goes further to the Supreme Court and he wins -- do not let us forget that under the circumstance, we are saying that --
But Hon Member, do you not think there is a possibility of while filing an appeal, you file a motion for stay of execution -- while the person is filing an appeal, which would take care of the Minister's prerogative to allocate within that period while the appeal is pending?
Mr Speaker, I am only trying to put this point across, so that we do not carry an impression that because the statute says so, it does not matter processes that may be pending in court. I would just like that clarity. That is why I was not rushing to say that this is a proposal I am making, but I would just like to put it across, so that we consider same. This is because if we look at the law, we have even said that where the person rents out the equipment to a third party and that third party goes ahead to engage in illegal mining activity, the equipment would be confiscated. It does not matter the ownership. So, we would have the situation where even an innocent bonafide owner so to speak, may suffer where he himself has not acted in any way illegal. We should not forget that one. So, I am only trying to draw the attention of my senior Colleague. Thank you.
Very well. Thank you very much. I think your point is a very important one. We need to have it at the back of our minds, but could we hear from Hon Amoako-Attah?
Mr Speaker, I would like to address the proposal being made by -- with your permission, let me address him as my Hon Colleague and learned friend. Mr Speaker, this proposal does not intend in any way to oust the jurisdiction of the court. It does not. The right for any person to go upstairs to ascend the appellate ladder is his right, and we should not make any law that would suggest that whoever would be affected should travel a particular course to appeal against any ruling or judgment -- We should not suggest in a legislation that should anything go against anyone, this is the course that he or she has to travel. No! It is trite law that no law, no agreement, nothing should be done, as I said, to oust the jurisdiction of the court of the nation. So, if a person's equipment is confiscated and he or she feels that he was not fairly treated, it is his or her fundamental right to go to court, and while the matter is pending, it does not serve as a stay on the Minister; it does not. We know, and it is trite law, an appeal does not serve as a stay in the legal process. The Minister is clothed and vested with the powers of the State. He or she can go ahead and do what he or she is allowed and authorised to do by the powers of the law.
Yes, that is why I drew his attention to the possibility of filing a stay of execution while the appeal is pending. All these are avenues opened to lawyers who want to exercise the rights of their clients. But I can see Hon Baba Jamal Ahmed up, probably, he would want to address the issue of galamsey. Baba Ahmed: Yes, Mr Speaker. It is important that I clear one thing with Dr Anthony Akoto Osei. In my statement, I described myself as a small scale miner just for illustration, but I am not a small scale miner; I have never done mining. [Interruption]-- For his information, I am a political scientist and I have also joined the learned profession; I am now a lawyer. I am just putting this in place -- [Interruption] -- Yes, I said that I mentioned it for illustration; I am not denying that. But I mentioned it for illustration and I am telling him my profession. [Mr Joseph Osei-Owusu: Now, you are a lawyer] -- I am just telling the Hon Member that I have joined his profession. I am now a learned friend. For the issue of -- [Interruption] -- I agree with him that it should go to State institutions, if all the explanations that have been given are right, that it should go to State institutions, because it will be opened to abuse. But I am still appealing to the other side that the thirty (30) days should be extended to sixty (60) days. That is fine.
In fact, having regard to the issue raised, has the possibility of appeal and the motion for stay and all of that, do you not think that 30 day period will -- You want 60 days now? -- Fine. If that is the consensus, then I think -- [Interruption].
Yes, mention your name.
Mr Speaker, I am surprised. He is my friend. There is nothing wrong for a learned person to be in small scale mining. [Interruption]. Mr Speaker, but the records in this House -- [Iterruption].
Order! Order! He has the floor.
In fact, I think we should encourage learned persons to go into small scale mining. But prior to the Hon Member joining the learned profession, on records in this House, he has indicated that sometime back, he was a small scale miner.
Hon Members, I think the point he wants to make is that, he is not a small scale miner. It was only for illustration.
No, he is. Mr Speaker, the records in this House -- he has indicated -- [Interruption] -- he has said it. It is in the Hansard. He should know that there is nothing wrong with One Hon Minister who is my friend, he is not here -- There is no problem with that. He is in the learned profession. Baba Jamal: I am not saying that no Minister of State -- but I have said that I am not a small scale miner.
Very well. Hon Members, let us bring this chapter to a close. He has made his point that he is not a licensed small scale miner. So, the point is well taken. In the meantime, we will like to congratulate you on your call to the Bar, having just joined the fraternity. Can you read it out to the hearing of all Hon Members?
Mr Speaker, the new and I hope the final rendition will go as, and I beg to read: “The Minister for Mines shall within sixty days after the confiscation of the equipment or product, allocate the equipment or product to the appropriate State institution and publish same in the Gazette the name of the State institution to which the equipment or the product is allocated.”
Yes, Hon Chairman, how do you respond?
Mr Speaker, I yield to it. I do not think we need to go further.
Very well. The expression “same” should be taken out? -- Can we get the draftspersons to look at that aspect and deal with it? All right. Question put and amendment agreed to. Clause 2 as amended ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Hon Chairman of the Committee?
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that Long Title -- line 2, delete “rate and” Mr Speaker, the purpose of the Bill is not to set the rate. It is to prescribe the manner in which it is applied. So, the rendition will read: “An Act to amend the Minerals and Mining Act, 2006 (Act 703) to provide for Regulations to be made to prescribe the manner for the payment of royalties, the confisca- tion of equipment used in illegal small scale mining and for related matters.” Question put and amendment agreed to. The Long Title as amended ordered to stand part of the Bill.
That brings us to the end of Consideration Stage for now. Yes, Hon Deputy Majority Leader, we are in your hands.
Mr Speaker, item 11 -- [Interruption.]
Hon Deputy Majority Leader, I do not think that you have the rest of the House with you. Can you propose a Motion for the closure? There is so much work to do with regard to this conference we are hosting. Delegates have started arriving.We have so much work to do.
Mr Speaker, my Hon Colleagues are signalling me to do the appropriate thing. Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that at this stage, that the House do adjourn till Tuesday, 4th November, 2015 at 10 o'clock in the forenoon --
Yes, what is the point of order?
Tuesday the 4th? What calendar is the Hon Member using?
I am correcting it. -- [Laughter] Tuesday, 3rd November, 2015.
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion. Question put and Motion Agreed.
The House was accordingly adjourned at 1.17 p.m. till Tuesday, 3rd November, 2015 at 10.00 a.m.