MR FIRST DEPUTY SPEAKER
Mr Speaker, Ibeg to move that this Honourable Houseadopts the Report of the Public AccountsCommittee on the Report of the Auditor-General on the Management andUtilisation of the District Assemblies'Common Fund (DACF), and otherstatutory funds for the years ended 31stDecember, 2010, 2011 and 2012. Mr Speaker, in so doing, I would like topresent your Committee's Report to theHouse. Introduction The Auditor-General's Reports on theManagement and Utilisation of theDistrict Assemblies' Common Fund(DACF) and other statutory funds for theyears ended 31st December, 2010, 2011 and2012, were presented to Parliament onTuesday, 4th June, 2013, Thursday, 18th July, 2013 and Wednesday, 20thNovember, 2013 respectively. This was inaccordance with article 187 (2) and (5) ofthe 1992 Constitution of the Republic ofGhana. In accordance with Order 165 (2) of theStanding Orders of the House, MrSpeaker referred the Reports to the PublicAccounts Committee (PAC) forconsideration and report. Methodology To consider the Reports, the Committeegrouped the regions of the country intofour (4) zones as indicated below: Zone 1 - Upper West, Upper Eastand Northern Regions; Zone 2 - Brong-Ahafo and AshantiRegions; Zone 3 - Greater Accra, Volta andEastern Regions; and Zone 4 - Western and CentralRegions. Sittings for zones 1 and 2 were held inTamale and Kumasi respectively, whilesittings in respect of zones 3 and 4 wereheld in Ho and Takoradi respectively. At the invitation of the Committee, theunderlisted officials of Metropolitan,Municipal and District Assemblies(MMDAs), cited by the Auditor-Generalin his Reports appeared before theCommittee to respond to the queries andissues raised by the Auditor- General andmatters of public interest: i. Metropolitan, Municipal andDistrict Chief Executive Officers; ii. Metropolitan, Municipal andDistrict Chief Executive Officersat post at the time of the Audit; iii. Presiding Members; iv. Chairmen of the finance sub-committees; v. Chairmen of the works sub-committees; vi. Metropolitan, Municipal andDistrict co-ordinating Directors; vii.Metropolitan, Municipal andDistrict Finance Officers andaccounts officers; viii. staff Members in managerialpositions; and ix. officers responsible for acts andomissions mentioned in theAuditor-General's Report. On appearing before the Committee,the witnesses took an oath and answeredquestions relating to the issues raised inthe Auditor-General's Report, as well asissues of general public interest. The Deputy Auditor-General, Mr YawAgyei Sifah, and his technical team werealso present at the Committee's sittingsto offer clarifications on the queries/issuesraised. Acknowledgement The Committee is grateful to the HonMinisters for the Northern, Volta, Westernand Ashanti Regions, for the warmreception accorded the Committee whenit visited their regions and also forparticipating in the Committee's sittings. The Committee is also grateful to theDeputy Auditor-General and his technicalteam, Chief Executives of MMDAs andtheir management teams and otherofficials of the MMDAs for availingthemselves to assist the Committee in itsdeliberations. Finally, the Committee extends itsprofound appreciation to STAR-Ghana,the German Development Cooperation(GIZ), the United States Agency forInternational Development (USAID), forsupporting the activities of the Committeeand the media (print and electronic) forbroadcasting its proceedings. Reference Documents The Committee made reference to thefollowing documents during its deliberations: i. The 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana. ii. The Standing Orders of Parliamentof Ghana. iii. The Financial AdministrationAct, 2003 (Act 654). iv. The Financial AdministrationRegulations, 2004 (L.I. 1802). v. The Public Procurement Act,2003 (Act 663). vi. The Audit Service Act, 2000 (Act584). vii. The Internal Audit Agency Act, 2003 (Act 658). viii. The Stores Regulations, 1984. ix. The Financial Memoranda forDistrict Assemblies. x. The Guidelines on the Utilisationof the District Assemblies'Common Fund. xi. The Local Government ServiceAct, 2003 (Act 655). Purpose of the Audit The purpose of the audit was for theAuditor-General to ascertain whether inhis opinion: i. the accounts have been properlykept; ii. all public funds have been fullyaccounted for and rules,regulations and procedures aresufficient to provide an effectivecheck on the assessment,collection and proper allocationof revenue; iii. funds have been expended for thepurposes for which they wereappropriated and expendituresmade as authorised; iv. adequate internal control measureswere instituted and complied withto safeguard the assets ofMetropolitan, Municipal andDistrict Assemblies (MMDAs);and v. projects and activities ofMMDAs have been undertakenwith due regard to economy,efficiency and effectiveness inrelation to the resources utilised. The audit was also to ascertain theextent of compliance with applicable laws,regulations and guidelines such as theFinancial Administration Act, 2003 (654),Financial Administration Regulation, 2004(L.1.1802), the Financial Memoranda forMMDAs, among others. Summary of audit findings The significant findings of the Auditor-General in his Reports bordered on cashirregularities, procurement and storeirregularities, tax irregularities, contractmanagement irregularities and lack of
transparency in the utilisation of DACFdeductions at source. The Auditor-General attributed theoccurrence of the irregularities to non-compliance with existing legislativeframework and instruments, manageriallapses and weak monitoring proceduresat both the ministerial, legislative andadministrative levels of MMDAs, as wellas lack of transparency in the operationsof some MMDAs. Observations and Recommendations a. Cash Irregularities i. Unretired Imprest The Committee observed that in years2010, 2011 and 2012, imprest holders inforty-eight (48) Assemblies failed to retireimprest amounting to GH¢ 1,267,750.45.The breakdown of the amount is asfollows:
SPACE FOR TABLE'- PAGE 7 - 11.20 A.M. The Committee noted that theinfractions by the Assemblies were dueto laxity on the part of finance officers toenforce the regulations governingretirement of imprest. Interestingly, it cameto the fore that some Chief ExecutiveOfficers and Coordinating Directors ofMMDAs, who should ensure that officersof the Assembly do not go contrary tothe rules and regulations governingfinancial accountability, were themselvesfound culpable. The Committee further noted that anamount of GH¢922,729.00 had been retiredby 38 Assemblies, leaving a balance ofGH¢345,021.45. The list of Assembliesinvolved in this lapse and the detailedbreakdown of the amount involved areshown in the attached Appendix A. Non-retirement of imprest by the closeof each financial year contravenes Part XI,section 39 of the Financial Memoranda forMMDAs (2004). The Committee therefore,recommends that Management of theAssemblies should ensure that the imprestholders retire the full amounts as early aspossible, and with credible supportingdocuments or convert the amounts toloans/advances and recover them fromthe salaries of the officers involved. The Committee also urges the Ministryof Local Government and RuralDevelopment to ensure that ChiefExecutive Officers and CoordinatingDirectors of MMDAs, abide by the rulesand regulations governing financialaccountability. ii.Unsupported payment vouchers Part IX, section 7 of the FinancialMemoranda for MMDAs requires that, theoriginals of relevant supporting documents,
including invoices and statements shouldbe attached to payment vouchers beforepayments are made. The Committee, however, observedthat 145 Assemblies made paymentsamounting to GH¢15,477,097.40, withoutattaching the relevant documents toauthenticate payments made in years2010, 2011 and 2012. The details areattached as Appendix B. As reported by the Auditor-General,the financial indiscipline was due to failureon the part of Finance Officers of MMDAsto demand appropriate supportingdocuments from the payees beforepayments were made. The Committee, however, noted duringits sittings that some of the Assemblieshad managed to provide relevantdocumentation to authenticate paymentsamounting to GH¢11,159,959.65. This wasafter the Auditor-General had submittedhis Report to Parliament and theAssemblies had been invited to appearbefore the Public Accounts Committee. The Committee therefore recommendsthat: i. Management of the Assembliesshould provide the necessarydocumentation to cover theoutstanding amounts to theAuditors for verification, failingwhich the amounts involvedshould be recovered from theauthorising officers and theirfinance officers. ii. Authorising officers and financeofficers involved in this infractionshould be sanctioned by mana-gement of the Assemblies. iii. A report on actions taken by theAssemblies should be submittedto the Auditor-General. iv. Henceforth, posthumous re-gularisation of unsubstantiatedpayments should not betolerated or accepted by theAuditor-General. Once pay-ments are not substantiatedduring the audit period, theAuditor-General should surchargethe management of the Assembliesfound culpable of such irregularitywith the amounts involved. iii. Unapproved overdrafts and loans/interest Part III, section 3 of the FinancialMemoranda for MMDAs provides that: “when an Assembly requires a loanfor capital expenditure; it shall applythrough the Ministry responsiblefor local government, to theMinistry of Finance for approval;and such applications for loansshall be initiated by a resolution ofthe Assembly”. Contrary to the above provision, theCommittee noted that in year 2011, threeAssemblies overdrew their DACFaccounts by a total amount ofGH¢2,392,892.33, while in year 2012, fourAssemblies overdrew their DACFaccounts to the tune of GH¢398,911.24,without the approval of the Hon Ministerfor Finance. The details are as follows: SPACE FOR TABLE- PAGE 10 - 11.20 A.M. The Committee recommends that: a. Coordinating Directors andfinance officers of the Assembliescited for the irregularity should besanctioned appropriately by theMinistry of Local Government andRural Development. b. Management of the Assembliesshould seek retrospectiveapproval from the Ministry ofFinance. c. All MMDAs should ensure thatthey operate within their cashholdings, and also seek approvalwhenever they want loans oroverdraft facilities. iv. Unreceipted deductions by DACFAdministrator According to the Auditor-General, theDACF Administrator's circular no. DACF/CIR/01 dated 4th June, 2003, stipulatesthat Assemblies should issue receipts forgross amounts before deductions. TheAdministrator would in turn issue receiptsfor all deductions. Again, the guidelinesfor utilisation of District AssembliesCommon Fund states that: “All releases of the DACF allocationshould be receipted in gross in theAssembly's cash book and anyother deduction should be treatedas expenditure”. Contrary to the above, the Committeeobserved that the DACF Administratordeducted at source, a total amount ofGH¢43,630,888.29 in years 2010, 2011 and2012, from the Common Fund allocationsof some Assemblies, without issuingreceipts in acknowledgement of theamounts deducted. The breakdown of theamount for years 2010, 2011 and 2012 isshown in Table 2, while the details areshown in the attached Appendix C. SPACE FOR TABLE- PAGE 12 - 11.20 A.M.
Interrogating the issue, it came to thefore that most of the deductions were forservices such as sanitation improvementand fumigation, for which the Assembliesthemselves had signed contracts withservice providers for the provision ofthose services. Management of the Assembliesinformed the Committee that, their inabilityto obtain receipts for the deductions fromthe DACF Administrator was due to acircular from the DACF Administrator toall MMDAs, dated 15th July, 2011 and30th June, 2014, which indicated that theAdministrator of the Fund cannot issuereceipts for statutory deductions. Again, deductions under “otherrecoveries” are advances and deductionsrequested by the Assemblies themselves,thus the Fund cannot issue receipts in thatregard. On the other hand, Management of oneof the service providers (ZoomlionServices Limited), informed the Committeethat they issued receipts to the DACFAdministrator for payments made to it inrespect of sanitation improvement andfumigation. That notwithstanding, theCommittee commends the Akatsi SouthDistrict Assembly for being the onlyAssembly that was able to ensure thatcopies of receipts covering thedeductions made from its allocation wereobtained from the service providers. In the light of the above, the Committeerecommends that: 1. The DACF Administrator shoulddemand evidence of servicerendered from the Assembliesbefore payments are made toservice providers. 2. Management of MMDAs shouldalso endeavour to obtain copiesof receipts issued to the DACFAdministrator from serviceproviders to enable it subs-tantiate deductions made by theDACF Administrator. v. Misapplication of DACF Section 87 (2) of the Local GovernmentAct, 1993 (Act 462), stipulates that “for the avoidance of doubt allmonies received by a DistrictAssembly from the DistrictAssembly Common Fund shall beexpended on projects which formpart of the approved developmentplan of the Assembly”. However, the Committee observed that63 Assemblies misapplied a total amountof GH¢6,146,045.30 from their DACFallocations to recurrent expenditure,instead of developmental expenditureduring the years under consideration.Appendix D shows the list of Assembliesinvolved in this irregularity. Deliberating on why MMDAs useDACF allocations on recurrent expen-diture such as wages of casual workers,printing of calendars, protocol activities,among others, Management of theAssemblies involved in this irregularityexplained that they had to resort to thispractice because their InternallyGenerated Funds (IGF) are insufficient tomeet their recurrent expenditure. That notwithstanding, the Committeenoted that some of the Assemblies hadtaken steps to refund an amount ofGH¢1,988,879.73 into the DACF accountsof their respective Assemblies, leaving anamount of GH¢4,157,165.57 stilloutstanding. The Committee considers this practiceunacceptable and recommends that theMinistry of Local Government and RuralDevelopment should ensure that: i. any MMDA that intends toutilise its DACF allocation forrecurrent activities should seekthe approval of the Minister forFinance, through the Ministerfor Local Government and RuralDevelopment; ii. misapplied funds are refundedinto the DACF accounts byMMDAs involved in thisanomaly; iii. Management of MMDAsdisburse DACF in accordancewith the dictates of the CommonFund guidelines and any otheradministrative instruction; and iv. all MMDAs should createinnovative ways of increasingtheir Internally Generated Fund(IGF). Procurement and stores irregularities i. Non-competitive procurement Section 43(1) of the Public ProcurementAct (Act 663) states that: “The procurement entity shallrequest quotations from as manysuppliers or contractors aspracticable, but from at least threedifferent sources”. On the contrary, the Committeeobserved that 59 Assemblies madeprocurement totalling GH¢2,812,723.71,without alternative quotations or throughcompetitive bidding in years 2010, 2011and 2012. The list of Assemblies isattached as Appendix E. The Committee further observed fromfollow-up reports presented by officialsof the Audit Service that, most of the Assemblies are currently complying withthe relevant rules and regulations onprocurement. Unfortunately, Managementof the Assemblies cited for this irregularityhad not taken any action against theofficers responsible for the infraction. The Committee therefore recommendsthat the officers responsible for the breachshould be sanctioned by Management ofthe Assemblies, in line with the dictatesof the Procurement Act. ii. Unrecorded store items The Committee observed that 62Assemblies made purchases worthGH¢2,724,548.29, but failed to take themon store ledgers during the years underconsideration. This was in violation ofSection 70, chapter V of the StoresRegulation and Part XII, section 16 of theFinancial Memoranda for MMDAs whichrequire all store items received by anAssembly to be supported by a LocalPurchase Order (LPO), or a Stores ReceiptVoucher (SRV), and recorded in the storeledgers before being issued out. The Committee noted that, followingthe audit, some of the Assemblies haverecorded in the store ledgers, itemsamounting to GH¢1,996,040.14, leaving anoutstanding balance of GH¢728,508.15.The details are shown in Appendix F. Deliberating on the issue, it came tothe fore that the lapse occurred as a resultof poor supervision of storekeepers byManagement of MMDAs and also, failureto assign persons to perform theresponsibilities of a storekeeper in theabsence of the schedule officer. In the opinion of the Committee, failureto take items purchased on store ledgerscould lead to diversion of store items andloss of funds to the Assemblies. TheCommittee therefore recommends that the:
a. Officers responsible for the lapseshould be sanctioned appropriatelyby Management of the Assemblies. b. Management of all MMDAsshould ensure that all purchasesare recorded in the store ledgerand duly issued out uponauthorised requisition. iii. Fuel Purchases not accounted for Part XII, section 60 of the FinancialMemoranda requires that a logbook shallbe maintained for each vehicle, in whichthe driver shall record on a daily basis,the full particulars of the receipt of oil andfuel, and persons undertaking thejourneys shall sign the logbook whichshall be carried at all times in the vehicle. This, notwithstanding, the Committeenoted that 41 Assemblies (refer toAppendix G) failed to record fuelpurchases valued at GH¢1,054,803.55 inthe relevant vehicle logbooks. Conse-quently, the utilisation of the fuelpurchased could not be authenticated.The Committee however, noted that thedefaulting Assemblies had subsequentlymade the necessary entries into theirvehicle logbooks, and in most cases, 15months after the event occurred. The Committee is of the opinion thatwithout the necessary entries in vehiclelogbooks, data on fuel usage by vehiclesof the Assemblies would be lost. The lackof such data does not only concealpilferage, but also makes it difficult foreconomic analysis of fuel purchases tobe conducted in accordance withRegulation 1605 of the 1984 StoresRegulations. 1. Officers who failed to record fuelpurchased in the relevantvehicle logbooks should besanctioned by Management ofthe Assemblies. 2. Management should also ensurethat the officers involved providerecords on the receipt andutilisation of fuel, or the amountinvolved should be surchargedagainst the authorising officers. 3. Posthumous entries into vehiclelogbooks should not be accep-ted by the Auditor-General. 4. Henceforth, the Auditor-Generalshould surcharge financeofficers with the amount involvedif they fail to provide evidenceof the utilisation of fuelpurchases after the audit period. Tax irregularities i. Failure to deduct withholding tax The Committee observed that in years2010, 2011 and 2012, 52 Assemblies failedto deduct taxes totalling GH¢140,888.40from payments made for goods andservices, thereby denying governmentthe timely inflow of revenue. The detailsare shown in Appendix H. The Committee further observed thatan amount of GH¢87,325.04 out of thenon-withholding tax of GH¢140,888.40recorded, had been deducted and paid tothe Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA),leaving an outstanding amount ofGH¢53,563.36. Failure to deduct withholding taxescontravenes section 84 (2) of the InternalRevenue Act, 2000 (Act 592). TheCommittee therefore recommends that: a. Management of the Assembliesshould ensure that outstandingwithholding taxes are deductedand remitted to the GRA. b. Finance officers who breachedthis irregularity should besanctioned by Management ofthe Assemblies. c. All MMDAs should ensure thatwithholding taxes are deductedfrom all payments above therequired threshold. ii. Withholding tax not remitted Section 87 (1) of the Internal RevenueAct, 2000 (Act 592), requires withholdingagents to pay to the Commissioner-General, a tax that has been withheld, orthat should have been withheld within 15days after the end of the month in whichthe payments, subject to withholding taxare made. The Committee, however, observedthat in years 2010, 2011 and 2012, 52Assemblies were in violation of thisprovision by failing to remit withheldtaxes amounting to GH¢345,347.51 to theGRA. The details are shown in AppendixI. It came to the fore during theCommittee's deliberations that some of theAssemblies remitted withheld taxesamounting to GH¢244,836.81 to the GRAupon the invitation to appear before thePAC. This situation clearly demonstratesthe level of importance which publicofficers attach to funds that belong to theState. The Committee considers non-remittance of withheld taxes a breach offinancial discipline. The Committeetherefore recommends that: 1. Management of the Assembliesshould ensure that the officersinvolved in this irregularity aresanctioned in line with sections8(4) and 30 (2) of the FinancialAdministration Act, 2003; 2. the Ministry of Local Governmentand Rural Development shouldensure that all outstanding taxesdue government are remitted tothe GRA by the Assemblies; and 3. GRA should also ensure thatappropriate interest/penalties arepaid by MMDAs as required bylaw when they delay in remittingwithheld taxes. iii. Purchases from non-VAT registeredentities Section 84 (2) of the FinancialAdministration Regulation, 2004 (L.I. 1802)states that “a department shall procuregovernment stores from only VATregistered persons/entities, and anydepartment that requires exemptionfor a specific case shall apply to theMinister for Finance with thenecessary justi-fication”. The Committee observed that in year2012, 35 Assemblies made purchases fromnon-VAT registered entities to the tune ofGH¢353,970.09, thereby avoiding thepayment of VAT on purchases made. Thedetails are shown in Appendix J. Management of Assemblies involvedin this financial indiscipline informed theCommittee that the Assemblies' inabilityto make purchases from VAT registered
entities is due to the absence of suchcompanies in their locations. Interestingly, the Committee noted thatMampong, Birim Central, NsawamAdoagyiri, Kassena Nankana West,Agotime and Prestea Huni ValleyAssemblies, who could not provide VATreceipts during the time of audit, have beenable to, after the audit, submit VAT receiptsto cover purchases made. The Committee recommends that: a. GRA should ensure that entitieseligible to register for VAT at theregional/district levels are madeto do so. b. Management of MMDAs shouldensure strict adherence to theFinancial Administration Regulations,2004. iv. Failure to obtain VAT invoices. The Committee noted that ten (10)Assemblies failed to obtain VAT invoicesfrom suppliers to support paymentstotalling GH¢26,254.22, contrary to theprovisions of section 19 (1) of the VATAct, 1998 (Act 546). The Committee further noted that theAssemblies involved have obtained VATinvoices totalling GH¢12,926.46 from therelevant suppliers, leaving an outstandingamount of GH¢13,327.76. The details areshown in Table 3: SPACE FOR TABLE- PAGE 21 - 11.20 A.M. Management of the Assembliesinformed the Committee that payment ofthe VAT component was made to the GRAwhen the VAT invoices were obtained. Failure to obtain VAT invoices forpayments made could lead to loss ofrevenue that should accrue togovernment. The Committee thereforerecommends that the: 1. Finance officers who were inbreach of section 19 (1) of theVAT Act, 1998 (Act 546) shouldbe sanctioned by Managementof the Assemblies. 2. Ministry of Local Governmentand Rural Development shouldensure that the Assemblies Contract management irregularities i. Overpayment of contract sum The Committee observed that in year2010, Suhum Kraboa Coaltar DistrictAssembly, overpaid a contract sum byGH¢712.50. In year 2011, Wassa AmenfiDistrict Assembly also made anoverpayment of a contract sum byGH¢1,074.00, while in year 2012, SefwiWiawso Municipal Assembly and ShaiOsudoku District Assembly overpaidcontract sums by a total of GH¢31,726.70during the execution of contracts in years2011 and 2012 respectively. The details areas follows: GH¢i. Suhum Kraboa Coaltar (2010) -- 712.50 ii. Wassa Amenfi District Assembly(2011) -- 1,074.00 iii. Sefwi-Wiawso District Assembly(2012) -- 4,839.70 iv. Shai-Osudoku District Assembly (2012) -- 26,887.00 TOTAL -- 33.513.20 The Committee noted that theoverpayment was clearly an act ofnegligence by the finance officers of theAssemblies. Management of Sefwi WiawsoMunicipal Assembly informed theCommittee that the overpaid amount hadbeen retrieved from the contractor. Thiswas verified and confirmed by staff of theAudit Service. Suhum Kraboa Coaltar, Wassa Amenfi and ShaiOsudoku District Assemblies on the otherhand, were yet to demand the overpaidamount from the contractors. Though Sefwi Wiawso MunicipalAssembly had retrieved the overpaidamount from the contractor, it failed toadhere to Regulation 45 of the FAR whichdemands that overpayments should berecovered immediately when detected. The Committee therefore recommendsthat: a. the coordinating Directors andfinance officers of Sefwi WiawsoMunicipal Assembly, SuhumKraboa Coaltar, Wassa Amenfi
and Shai Osudoku DistrictAssemblies should besanctioned in line with section 8(4) of the FAR, by Managementof the Assemblies for thisirregularity. b. Management of Suhum KraboaCoaltar, Wassa Amenfi and Shai-Osudoku District Assembliesshould ensure that the excesspayment is recovered from therespective contractors as amatter of urgency, failing whichthe amount should be recovered from the coordinating Directorsand the finance officers. c. All MMDAs should strengthentheir internal control systems toprevent such occurrences. ii. Unauthorised variation of contract The Committee observed that in years2010, 2011 and 2012, eight (8) Assembliesvaried contracts to above 15 per cent tothe tune of GH¢619,282.05, withoutauthorisation as required by the PublicProcurement Act 2003 (Act 663), section64 (1) and (2). The details are shown inTable 4: SPACE FOR TABLE- PAGE 24 - 11.20 A.M. Unauthorised variation of contract is abreach of Regulations 171 and 179 of theFinancial Administration Regulation, 2004(L.I. 1802). The Committee thereforerecommends that: 1. the officers responsible for thebreach should be sanctionedappropriately by the Manage-ment of the Assemblies; 2. Management of the Assembliesshould ensure that all irregularvariations are regularised; and 3. all MMDAs should adhere to therules and regulations governingcontract management. “no payment shall be made to acontractor, unless in the case ofpayments in respect of work done,the Works Engineer, or such otherperson as the Assembly mayappoint for the purpose, hasinspected the work done and giventhe certificate required which shallbe attached to the PaymentVoucher”. The Committee observed that in theyears 2010, 2011 and 2012, a total amountof GH¢690,052.90 was paid by fourteen (14)Assemblies to various contractors, withoutmonitoring reports/certificates to confirmthat the work was satisfactorily executed.The details are shown in Table 5: SPACE FOR TABLE- PAGE 26 - 11.20 A.M.
The Committee considers the violationof Part IX, section 70 (a) by the Assembliesunacceptable. Making payments withoutcertificates to justify the expenditure canlead to situations where payments wouldbe made for contracts which are eitherpoorly executed or not executed at all. The Committee therefore recommendsthat: i. Finance officers of the Assemblieswho were responsible for thelapse should be sanctioned inline with section 8(4) of theFinancial AdministrationRegulation, 2004 (L.I. 1802). ii. Contract procedures should befollowed by all MMDAs in orderto minimise the risk of paymentsfor non-existing contracts. Conclusion Indeed, the infractions (cashirregularities, procurement and storeirregularities, tax irregularities, contractmanagement irregularities and lack oftransparency in the utilisation of DACFdeductions at source) as contained in theReports of the Auditor-General on themanagement and utilisation of DistrictAssemblies' Common Fund and otherstatutory funds for the years ended 31stDecember 2010, 2011 and 2012 wererepetitive in nature. The recurrence suggests thatmanagement of the various Assemblieshave blatantly refused to perform theirroles efficiently. The Auditor-General'sannual recommendation for effectivemonitoring and follow-up mechanismshave been ignored. By implication, thevarious Audit Report Implementation In the opinion of the Committee, therepetitive nature of the infractions withregard to both financial and administrativelapses, underscore the need for punitivesanctions, to act as a deterrent to officialscharged with the responsibility ofprotecting the public purse. The Committee, therefore urges theMinistry of Local Government and RuralDevelopment to ensure that theAssemblies implement the Committee'srecommendations as early as possible. TheCommittee also reiterates its recom-mendation that the Auditor-Generalshould not accept posthumousregularisation of financial transactions.Any irregularity which is not sorted outduring the audit period should result inan outright surcharge to the officersresponsible. To this end, the Committee recom-mends to the House for adoption, itsReport on the Reports of the Auditor-General on the management and utilisationof District Assemblies' Common Fund andother statutory funds for the years ended31st December 2010, 2011 and 2012. Respectfully submitted.
Mr Speaker, I rise to secondthe Motion and in so doing so, outlinethe following observations: Mr Speaker, we took a similar Reporthere last week Tuesday, concerning theaccounts of the District Assemblies. Mostof the issues and infractions outlined inthat Report are almost the same as those of the DACF. The issues raised in theaccounts of the District Assemblies whichwere debated on the floor last Tuesday,are almost the same issues that theAuditor-General has outlined in thisReport that we are debating on. Mr Speaker, in some of them, the keyfindings are cash irregularities,procurement and store irregularitiesamong others. The same reasons were alsogiven for these infractions, reasons likenon-compliance of existing legislativeframework and instruments, manageriallapses, lack of supervision among others. Mr Speaker, this shows us that thefinance of District Assemblies are not runin the interest of this nation. I will justsummarise one and, maybe, my HonColleagues would go into details. Mr Speaker, on page 6(ii) of the Reportheaded - unsupported payment vouchers- we are told that the transaction of theAssembly to the tune of 15.5 millionGhana cedis was not supported by therelevant documents. How were the Assemblies conductingtheir payments? This means the paymentvouchers which were raised did not haveany supporting documents, yet thesepayments were done to the tune ofGH¢15.5 million. Mr Speaker, that tells us that theDistrict Assemblies have been running thefinances of their institutions any how theylike, without any control and any soundfinancial management. Therefore, MrSpeaker, I think the House should adoptthe recommendations made by theCommittee that, authorising officers andfinance officers involved in theseinfractions should be sanctioned bymanagement of the District Assemblies,and also report on actions taken by themto the Auditors.
Mr Speaker, I thank youfor the opportunity to contribute to theMotion on the floor. Mr Speaker, the constitutionalprovision that the Hon Ranking Memberwas trying to allude to may be found atarticle 187 (5) and (6) and it is important toread clause 5, to put it in a properperspective and context.
“(5) The Auditor-General shall,within six months after the end ofthe immediately preceding financialyear to which each of the accountsmentioned in clause (2) of thisarticle relates, submit his report toParliament and shall, in that report,draw attention to any irregularitiesin the accounts audited and to anyother matter which in his opinionought to be brought to the noticeof Parliament. (6) Parliament shall debate the report. . .that is what we are doing of the Auditor-General and appointwhere necessary, in the publicinterest, a committee to deal withany matters arising from it.” So, Mr Speaker, this is the area wherewe should look at. Should there beanother committee appointed by yourgoodself, to just monitor the implemen-tation of our resolutions, to ensure thatit would not be an empty exercise that weare engaged in? Mr Speaker, we shouldlook at this critically. Would you want the same Committeethat brought the Report to police theresolutions of Parliament, or alternatively,have another group look at the imple-mentation of the resolutions of theHouse? This is very critical and we needto look at it. Mr Speaker, as my Hon RankingMember rightly said, we have again alitany of the same problems bedevillingthis nation. Financial indiscipline at themicro level is most embarrassing. If wewould want to look at it, we would notfinish, but I would just comment on a fewissues of significance, and then leave it. Mr Speaker, what I have observed isthat a lot of financial officers go scot freeafter they have violated the financialadministration laws of this countrybecause they are not sanctioned. Weshould look at it that, insofar as we letthem go scot free, we are promoting aculture of impunity which is not good forthe nation. Mr Speaker, of and concerning theAdministrator of the DACF, this was theindictment against him and I need tobring it to your attention. This is capturedon page 9, and it is unreceipteddeduction by the Administrator of theDACF. Mr Speaker, with your kindpermission. I quote, “According to the Auditor-General,the DACF Administrator's circularno. DACF/CIR/01 dated 4th June,2003, stipulates that Assembliesshould issue receipts for grossamounts before deductions. TheAdministrator would in turn issuereceipts for all deductions”. Again, the Guidelines for utilisation ofDistrict Assemblies Common Fund statesthat: “all releases of the DACF allocationshould be receipted in gross in theAssembly's cash book and anyother deduction should be treatedas expenditure'.” This is the observation of yourCommittee and I beg to quote again: “Contrary to the above, theCommittee observed that the DACFAdministrator deducted at source,a total amount of GH¢43,630,888.29in years 2010, 2011 and 2012 fromthe Common Fund allocations ofsome Assemblies without issuingreceipts in acknowledgement of theamounts deducted.” The breakdown is stated there. I wouldnot -- Mr Speaker, we have givenrecommendations that it is very imperativethe Administrator demands evidence ofservice rendered from the Assembliesbefore payments are made to serviceproviders. Mr Speaker, this is very important, forthe simple reason that the Administrator,without any coordination with the DistrictAssemblies, should not pay monies tothe service providers upfront. So,immediately the monies are lodged withthe Administrator and he, suo moto,without reference to any certificate orprovision of the service, gives the moniesto the providers, we would have a realsituation of paying monies to serviceproviders who have not even renderedthe services in the first place. So, advance payment of moniesallocated with the District Assemblieswithout evidence of work actually done, Ibeg to submit, is financial indiscipline onthe part of the Administrator, and weshould not have these things happening. Mr Speaker, one of the issues whichwould bring financial sanity to the realmis when we respect the sanction regime ofthe Public Procurement Act. I am referringto section 92. It seems to me that we donot respect the Public Procurement Act,for the simple reason that, it has become averitable vehicle of sole sourcing and therest of them, and we do not have valuefor money. Mr Speaker, the laws of Ghana aresupposed to bite. If not, then we do nothave any benefit of the laws. So, it hasbeen spelt out clearly that if one violates any of the provisions of the PublicProcurement Act, it has penal conse-quences and the Attorney-General shouldprepare a docket and prosecute them. Mr Speaker, I really would want to saythat we should see and mark out all theentities in the realm, to determine who areviolating the Public Procurement Act andbring these infractions to the attention ofthe Attorney-General for possibleprosecution. In fact, if two or three people are jailedfor these traducers of the law, it wouldwake people up. This is because theybelieve that public procurement is aprocedure. As a matter of fact, it goesbeyond procedure and if one is found tohave violated it, one could be punishedfor that. Mr Speaker, that is stated atparagraph 12 of the Report. Unrecorded store items is also the case.People really buy goods intended for theAssemblies and they do not record them.So, we are not sure whether the goodswere actually bought or not. Mr Speaker, let me just end with oneissue of interest and I would take my seat. Mr Speaker, the District Assemblies areintended as vehicles for development. Infact, the central Government would notbe able to develop the whole country,thatis why the concept of the DistrictAssembly was put together andactualised in law. Mr Speaker, but insofar as the DistrictAssemblies are themselves not develop-ment minded, but just expenditure minded,we would not see development in ourcommunities at all. Mr Speaker, there is an infractionagainst the District Assemblies in thespending of the monies. Mr Speaker, if Imay quote the observations of the
Mr Speaker, I amgrateful that -- “…sixty-three (63) Assembliesmisapplied a total amount ofGH¢6,146,045.30 from their DACFallocations to recurrent expenditureinstead of developmental expen-diture during the years underconsideration.” Mr Speaker, and the appendix issupplied. Mr Speaker, how can we progress andsee actual development in our rural areas,if District Assemblies would misapply
Thank youvery much. Hon Second Deputy Speaker, then Iwould come to the Hon Member.
Mr Speaker, thank you for theopportunity. Mr Speaker, the question at large iswhat to do with the Reports of the PAC. Iam saying so because it has become moreof a ritual that we come here every day,adopt the Report, cite the necessaryconstitutional provisions, lament that nothing is happening, suggest thatsomething should happen, we all go tosleep and wait till the next time a Reportcomes. Mr Speaker, but it is not our fault too.This is because there seems to be somelack of clarity, or we have not interrogatedwhat should be done to these Reportswhen they come here, apart from adoptingthem. Mr Speaker, we must read, first of allthe Constitution as a whole, which thevarious authorities have said, includingother relevant laws. Of course, we all know that, article 88gives the Hon Attorney-General andMinister for Justice the right to prosecute.The point is that, the Hon Attorney-General and Minister for Justice does noteven need to wait for the PAC in order toprosecute. Alhaji Abubakari -- rose --
HonMember, are you up on a point of order?What is it?
Mr Speaker, theHon Member said that it is not clear whatshould be done to the Report when wefinish the debate here. But Mr Speaker,the Hon Vice Chairman of the PAC hasjust read that what should be done is clearin the Constitution. A Committee should be constituted todeal with the Report. It is there in theConstitution. So, what should be done tothe Report after we have adopted it isstated in the Constitution. Mr Speaker, it is just because Parliamenthas not followed it. The Hon ViceChairman just read it when he got up. After we have debated and adopted the Report,the Rt Hon Speaker should constitute aCommittee, and matters arising should bedealt with and accepted. It is there, butwe have never done it. So, what should be done is there. It isup to us --
HonMember, I do not know that we havenever done it before. We have done itbefore. I remember the Rt Hon Speaker ata point in time, constituted a Committeeto go into the details as you and the HonMember for Abuakwa South havesuggested. Hon Members, but I do not know whatbecame of that exercise. That is why Ihave asked the Clerks-at-the-Table to findout exactly what really happened. You were an Hon Member of theCommittee.
Mr Speaker, I was amember. We spoke here that theLeadership, the Hon Chairman and theHon Ranking Member should meet. Mr Speaker,to be honest with you, wenever met.
Mr Speaker, patience is avirtue and I recommend it to everybody.This is because if the Hon Member waspatient for a minute, by the time I end, hewould understand where I am comingfrom. Mr Speaker, when I say there is lack ofclarity, I am not saying that theConstitution does not say anything. TheConstitution says, “Parliament may…” Itdoes not say “shall”.
“Parliament may … wherenecessary,in the public interest,appoint a Committee to deal withmatters arising…” Mr Speaker, that Committee ofParliament cannot prosecute. So, thequestion I asked is that, what can thatParliamentary Committee, which is comingto look at post adoption of the PACReports do? That is the question we mustask ourselves. Mr Speaker, I ask this because we donot want to be debating ad infinitum. Adebate must lead to a certain conclusion. As I said before, we must not look justat the Constitution, but also at existinglaws. Mr Speaker, I said one of the routesopened is that, the Hon Attorney-Generaland Minister for Justice can prosecute,and does not need to wait for the PAC todo so. Article 88 is clear. Mr Speaker, another route opened isunder the Audit Service Act, (Act 584). Iwould look at section 30, which talks aboutan Audit Report ImplementationCommittee (ARIC). Mr Speaker, every institution or auditeeaffected by the PAC -- What the PACsays and we adopt here must be referredto the ARIC, which must report back toParliament. Mr Speaker, when we look at section30 (4), which with your permission I begto quote: “The statement … shall be endorsedby the relevant Minister andforwarded to Parliament, Office ofthe President and the Auditor-General within six months afterParliament's decisions on theAuditor-General's report.” Mr Speaker, that is another course thathas to be taken. Every recommendationthat is made here affecting every Ministry,Department and Agency (MDA), and inthis case, Metropolitan, Municipal andDistrict Assemblies (MMDAs), the headof that place, who is part of ARIC must,within six months, take remedial action,show us the remedial action he has takenand report back to Parliament. Mr Speaker, so what we can do is that,it is a matter of public interest whetherthis has been done or not. We could setup a committee under the relevant article.
Mr Speaker, when I saidunder what article, one of my HonColleagues said, you behaved as theJudges behave in court, when one missessomething then they remind you. Thankyou Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, it reads: “Parliament shall debate the reportof the Auditor-General and appointwhere necessary, in the publicinterest, a committee to deal withany matters arising from it.” Mr Speaker, so, when we recommendthat Parliament should appoint acommittee, the person recommending mustalso indicate what matters of publicinterest are arising from it. We cannot saythat the fact that, somebody hasembezzled money, is a matter of public interest, because that is the duty of thecommittee. It is a matter of public interestto see whether one, the Audit ReportImplementation Committees, under theAudit Service Act have done their workor not. This is because they have sixmonths. Mr Speaker, I believe it is a matter ofimmense public importance and interestbecause there is no point for us to auditpeople for the matters to be taken to them,and for them to be in flagrant breach ofAudit Service's the Act, Act 584 (30). Of course, the Constitution also givesthe opportunity to a person against whoman adverse finding has been made, andthat is in the same article 187 (9). That theperson may appeal to the High Court underarticle 187 (a). Mr Speaker, so in my view, after wehave debated it, of course, the Attorney-General can prosecute and the PoliceService can take it up. That is the duty ofthe Executive. It is not the duty ofParliament to prosecute, Parliament cannotprosecute. What can we do? Mr Speaker, we can go by the AuditService Act, insist that,that Report of theCommittee should be brought back to us.The Report of the Audit ReportImplementation Committee would showwhat should be done. Mr Speaker, that ismy suggestion to the Committee, thisHouse and to your goodself, that weshould insist that the Audit Service Actthat we have passed, together with theExecutive is implemented. Of course, the duty to prosecute iscompletely out of the hands of Parliament.That is the duty of the Executive and ifParliament has come to the conclusion thatthere have been several breaches of the law and financial improprieties, of course,the people who have the power toprosecute are not prosecuting well, MrSpeaker, I leave it to you.
Very wellHon Members. I will put the Question andwe will see if there should be any rider. Question put and Motion agreed to.
HonMembers, we have a similar Motion and itappears the same points have been raisedin that Motion as well. I tried to find outabout what happened to the Committeethat Mr Speaker set up early on, whetherwe have had any Report from thatCommittee, I do not seem to see my wayclear. So, since we have this other one stillpending, I will direct that we do not takethat one today, while I have theopportunity to liaise with Mr Speaker sothat, when we take the other one, we willbe in a better position to see what kind ofdirective we can give. I believe that is clear. Very well.
Mr Speaker, we aregrateful for your direction. Mr Speaker, we will take item number11.
Mr Speaker, I rise to secondthe Motion, but with a very heavy heart. Mr Speaker, it is about time GNPC wasroped in, it is about time that a good eyewas kept on GNPC, with respect to theway they expend their money; the nation'smoney. I said their money because it isallocated to them for the purposes forwhich the money was given to them. So,to that extent, it is their money. Mr Speaker,but of course, I also said that it is thenation's money because it is the nationthat gives them the money. Mr Speaker, look at the Report, page10, paragraph 13.2, it talks about theconstruction of new head office building.It is getting difficult for some of us on theCommittee -- GNPC does not listen. Itdecides to do whatever it pleases. Whenits mind is made up on any project, theywould go for it. On the matter of theconstruction of a head office, it wasagreed sometime back and a Report wasactually laid in this House, that if it wasthe convenience of the corporation, andit would suit the interest of the country,that they have a head office, then so be it. This is because they said that whatthey are occupying now is a bit dilapidatedand there is the fear that it might collapsesooner than later. Mr Speaker, that was about three yearsago -- It was not actually three years,maybe, two years -- We agreed that theycould have a limit of about US$40 millionfor that purpose and it was brought tothis House for approval. When we nextknew, it was suggested that they wouldrequire as much as about US$73 millionfor the construction of one office building.Mr Speaker, while this was going on, there was also a suggestion that they even wantto rent a property somewhere. I do not think the corporation has thepresence of mind when it comes toexpenditure -- Spending the nation'smoney. Mr Speaker, there is this otherissue -- Somehow, there has been adirective from above that, that buildingwhich was approved in the House shouldactually await a decision on whether theywould move to what they called EnergyCity or so. So, again, some money is beingexpended on the preparation towardsgoing to the so-called enclave calledEnergy City, while another preparation ishurriedly ongoing on the other side of thedivide. It is so cacophonous; it is soconfusing. GNPC is wasting the nation'smoney -- [Interruption] -- So far, theydo not indicate how much they have goneinto the money. But as I said -- It is not recorded here- But the last time, we were told that theyhad started with the preparation and theyhad started with the design and some fewmillions had already gone in. Mr Speaker, look at paragraph 13.5which talks about “Karpower ShipGuarantee”. GNPC has become theguarantee Bank of Ghana. It has taken overthe functions of the Bank of Ghana and itis now guaranteeing whatever comesacross them. Indeed, I was horrified the day beforeyesterday, when I heard the ChiefExecutive of the GNPC, at the PublicAccounts Committee confirming that theyhad paid about US$58 million or so onaccount of Tema Oil Refinery (TOR).Where did they get that mandate from,where did they get the money from andwhat is it, in any event, that they had topay to TOR? And for who and whosebenefit? Mr Speaker, Karpower, they paid, TOR they paid, Volta River Authority andGhana Gas they paid -- They are payingleft, right and centre and it is not budgetedfor. Nobody gave them the authority andmandate; they do not have that sort ofmandate. Mr Speaker, what is going onfinancially at the GNPC is ridiculous. We should not forget the fact that -- Iam not sure if it is contempt of court; it isnot contempt of court -- I made a pointon the floor that they are now payingsome monies to other people for theservices that they did not perform foryears that they have been away from theCorporation. The money is being dished out likeconfetti; left, right and centre. We cannotcontinue like that. The former Chief Executive of Brazilwho is now the President is in all sorts oftrouble. Everybody is in all sorts of troublein Brazil because of their NationalPetroleum Corporation's activities. We donot have the privilege of that in Ghana. Ifyou look at the distribution of the oilmoney, and how much goes to GNPC -- Almost half of what accrues to thecountry goes to the GNPC. And when itdoes, they bring the budget, we wouldapprove it, they do not exhaust themonies that we would allocate to them andthey would keep it in some suspenseaccount -- accountants, correct me if Iam wrong. But they keep it in someaccount, it yields interest -- Mr Speaker, it is confusing and wewould need your help to pin GNPC downto proper accounting formalities anddetails. They cannot continue like that.We have no difficulty, and I subscribe tothe fact that they should be made animportant national oil company --Nobody doubts that. Mr Speaker, but howdo we do it? The way they are going aboutit, they would not become a good national Let them do the Volta Basin - theyindicated what they intend to do there,the Jubilee Fields and the new ones; theTweneboa, Enyenra and Ntomme (TEN),Sankofa, et cetera. Mr Speaker, weappreciate it and that is why they arethere. If we are not careful, GNPC is goingto extend into everything. You recall thatthe last time, they tried to establish auniversity, but for the intervention of thisHouse, they would have gone for it. I hear that sooner or later, they areplanning to set-up a bank of their own.GNPC must be roped in.
HonMember, I would prefer that you wouldcomment on the Report before us ratherthan bringing in these extraneous matterswhich to a large extent --
Mr Speaker, I am talkingabout the financial activities-- I wouldnot call it misappropriation, but the factthat GNPC does not seem to be focusingproperly on the use of their money. It isthe money that would be used in theconstruction of the bank that I am talkingabout. Mr Speaker, the law does not allow formany of these things, but if that is theview you would take, we would see and ifit materialises, we would bring it to thisHouse and if it does not, so be it. For now, we would approve it for themand keep an eagle's eye on them. Theyhave no right to expend Ghana's moneythe way they are doing. But for now,thank you very much for the opportunitygiven me. Question proposed.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. My Hon Ranking Member for theCommittee on Mines and Energy is sayingthat he is supporting it with a heavy heart,but we should approve it for them. Afterall his spectacular submission, we shouldreject the Report? He is telling us thatthey are doing so many things, we warnedthem two years ago and they refused tolisten to us. We should step this downuntil we know all the facts. Mr Speaker, they are trying toconstruct a National Emergency ResponseCentre -- GNPC? As he said, they loanedUS$58 million to TOR -- Is that theirmandate? And the Committee is sayingthat in spite of all this -- [Interruption.] Is there any wonder; when the Rt HonSpeaker was talking about Committeeon Roads and Transport -- We shouldbe talking about Parliament. All of us arenot doing our jobs. It is not only theCommittee on Roads and Transport -- Itis this House. This is because if we approve this,then they would come back and say thatthe Committee should have known. Frommy Hon Ranking Member, this is tellingus that they are doing lots of things thatwe should check. With respect to theChair, after all of these, we cannot agreeto pass this. It would be unconscionable.If what the Hon Ranking Member is sayingis true, and what Mr Speaker said aboutthe Committee on Roads and Transport isto be followed, Parliament ought to lookin the mirror and ask ourselves, that if allthis is true -- The only thing they have done thisyear is that, we approved their budget forthe year 2015 in the year 2016 and thistime, they are bringing it early. That one isall right.
Calm down! Calm down!
Say it all!
I am calming down. Mr Speaker has said the Committee onRoads and Transport should have known.I am saying Parliament should known. Itis not only the Committee on Roads andTransport. All of us, including him andme, we cannot with good conscience passthis. This is because the information isnot clear. Alhaji Muntaka -- rose --
Yes, HonMember, are you up on a point of order?
Yes, Mr Speaker, it isjust to give information. Mr Speaker, my Hon Colleague,whereas I agree with most of hissentiments, should remember that wasone of the major reasons we were sayingthat we needed to be doing this beforethe budget. This is because most of theactivities and their costing are in thebudget allocation of the Ministry ofPetroleum, which we have alreadyapproved in the Appropriation. So, I agree with him on the sentiments,but like the Hon Ranking Member said,we have improved upon that of lastyear,we are now getting the 2016programme of activities in May, 2016.
No, please, let me finish. I am onlyhelping him so that he would make it aspart of his contribution, that since we haveapproved the Appropriation, he being theRanking Member of the FinanceCommittee, how could we deal with it?With all these cost breakdowns withinthe budget, I do not know how he mightthink we are going to handle it.
HonMajority Chief Whip, I thought you roseup on a point of order and so wouldrestrict yourself to that. But if this is thecase, then, Hon Member, please, begin toconclude.
Mr Speaker, I juststarted. This is a serious matter. We saywe are masters of our own procedures. Ifwe are not happy with this, we need tocall the Minister for Petroleum and gothrough it further. That is what we haveto do. We do not have to say, oh, justapprove it. Then we would come back andsay GNPC is misbehaving. Why wouldanybody take us serious? Alhaji Sorogho -- rose --
HonChairman, is it on a point of order? Now, Iam going to be strict on any point of order.
Yes, the point of orderis that, Mr Speaker, we are not discussingthe budget of GNPC. It must be made clearthat the budget of GNPC has already beenapproved by this House. We arediscussing the work programme of GNPC,and that is what I just would want him to know, that the budget, the petroleummanagement fund and what have you,have been approved with an Appro-priation Bill covering it. But what we arediscussing now is the work programme.How that budget would go is what we arediscussing, and so he should not beconfused as if we are now approvingthe budget.
Very well.Point well made.
Mr Speaker, I do notknow who told him I was talking aboutthe budget. If he is confused, he betterlistens carefully. I was saying he and I areparty to certain activities that we knoware wrong. We know the programme ofactivities are wrong. He and I would want the GNPC to builda medical response centre. That is whatwe are doing. He and I agreed that theyshould not rent a building, but they wentahead and did so. That is what we aretalking about, and that is wrong. He issaying that I am confused. I am notconfused. When Speaker has said thatCommittees are not oversighting, I amsaying he should not single out onecommittee. He should single out the entireHouse.Mr Speaker is not elected. He andI are elected, but we also elect him, and soin a way, we, including the Chair are allpart of it. He is saying it is all right, and I amsaying it is not all right because he and Iknow that what they are doing - Look,every year, they carry forward somemoney and they say the deficit is GH¢1.6billion. Does it make sense to him? Theycarry a surplus and say it is deficit. It isbecause they are overblowing theirexpenditures, just so they would have a deficit. This is because, if they are goingto have deficit, how do they loan moneyto Tema Oil Refinery (TOR)? They claimthey have deficit, and I do not think itmakes sense financially. Now, as he said, they go and guaranteeUS$100 million for Electricity Company ofGhana. Is that their mandate? We are talking about the programme ofactivities, along with it comes the budget.They are saying GNPC should go andspend US$100 million for Karpower Ship.Did we give them approval for that? Alhaji Sorogho -- rose --
Yes, HonChairman of the Committee?
Mr Speaker, I wouldwish --
Mr Speaker, is it a pointof order? [Interruption]--
No! He has called me.
Yes, I havecalled him.
What is wrong withyou?
Please,address the Chair.
Mr Speaker, I amsorry. [Uproar.]
Order!Order! Hon Member, ignore the asides. Youhave the floor.
Mr Speaker, I wouldwant my Hon Colleague to read the Reportvery well. When the Hon Ranking Membergot up, he spoke about the constructionof a head office. We have never agreedon that. And if you read the Report, thatthe new head office must be constructed,the Committee insisted that PFI headoffice is what we are in for. If this Housegives the approval; they should go aheadand do that. Mr Speaker, it is well captured in theReport and so, I do not see why he ismaking references to the Report and yetnot telling us exactly what the Report isconveying. I am saying that we are discussing thework programme. If he thinks there arecertain portions that are not correct, he iscompletely entitled to say we could havea change or do that particular part. Butfor him to be asking me whether I amhappy -- Mr Speaker, where is it coming from? Iam the Chairman who signed the Report,and brought it for discussion. And he isasking me this question.
Yes, HonMember, you have the floor.
Mr Speaker, whenpeople are given positions, they have toremember they are representing the peopleof Ghana and not themselves. His job isto bring the Report to us, and our job is toaccept or reject it. He should not say, “Iam the Chairman”. So what? He, beingthe Chairman, should read paragraph 13.2of the Report. He just contradicted himself.He said he gave a go ahead for them to dothe building. Does he want me to read hisReport to him?
Mr Speaker, it says: “Construction of New Head OfficeBuilding: The officials of GNPC informed theCommittee that architecturaldesigns for the new head officecomplex (PFI Building) had beencompleted. They however statedthat further work on the project hasbeen stalled because the Board ofthe GNPC had begun preliminarydiscussions with a developer for theacquisition of an office buildingcomplex at the Energy City, withinthe Airport redevelopment area. Theofficials further indicated that theCorporation had not taken decisionon the matter as of the time of theconsidering the 2016 programme ofActivities and that a request wouldbe brought to the House for itsconsideration when a decision is somade.” Then he turns round to tell me twoyears ago, we gave them go ahead.
He said two years ago,we gave the go ahead. And now he issaying a request would be brought here.[Interruption.]
Could wehave some order? If you do not have thefloor, please, keep quiet and listen. Yes, Hon Member?
Mr Speaker, this is avery serious matter, and my Hon Colleagueshould just listen. He has done his part. Mr Speaker, on page 10 of 13 --[Interruption.] What happened to my glasses? MrSpeaker, somebody has walked away withmy glasses, but that is all right. Mr Speaker, he should go to paragraph13.3. I would read it. [Interruption.]Somebody took it, but I would read it. MrSpeaker, it is all right. I can read it.
“The Committee noted that GNPCwould require additional funds toundertake the activities planned forthe year 2016. Thus, while theamount of seven hundred andninety-nine million, nine hundredand two thousand Ghana cedis(GH¢799,920.000.00) has beenprojected to be realised by theCorporation in the year 2016, anamount of two billion, six hundredand thirty-one million, six hundredand fifty thousand Ghana cedis(GH¢2,631,650.00) will be required to…” Mr Speaker, this person who needsTwo billion United States dollars goesand gives US$100 million to ECG. Is it aloan? [Interruption.] Guarantee for what?Is GNPC/ECG to guarantee for Karpower?That is the point -- Is that its coremandate? They have a deficit and thengave US$58 million to TOR meanwile theyneed money. Does it make sense? It givesUS$33 million to Ghana Gas. Does it makesense to him? Then they turn around andwant to go and borrow US$750 million. Hon Chief Whip, does it make senseto you? Is that how you run your family? Alhaji Muntaka -- rose --
Order!Order! Let us have some order in this House. Hon Member, if you could address theChair, I am sure we would avoid all ofthese. You keep addressing individualMembers and that is what is creating theproblem. Can you please, address theChair?
Mr Speaker, I am sayingthat as Parliament, not you, I would wantus to consider if this makes financial sense.If it does, we can go ahead and approveit. For me, it does not. That is not how Irun my family. I do not go and givesomeone US$50 million and turn aroundto tell my family that I have to borrowUS$35 million so that they could go toschool. Does it make sense? I do not knowabout the Chair, but, it does not makesense. Mr Speaker, Hon Members shouldlook at this very carefully. Let us not getemotional. We all want GNPC to be doingwell. But when it does not make sense tous, let us not go ahead and approve. Itdoes not help us. I am saying that weshould step it down and call the HonMinister for Petroleum to ask furtherquestions. When we are satisfied, let usapprove. I think it makes much more sensethan saying that we should approve it andthen nothing happens. This is because ithappens every year. Mr Speaker, the history of GNPC iswhat made us change its core mandateand it has become useful.
Very well. Hon Members, may I find out from theChairman of the Committee; is it possibleto get the Minister to be with you on thenext adjourned date when we take this --This is because I am not going to put theQuestion now. I would defer it so that wehave further debate. But I believe it would be useful if we could get the Ministerhimself to be with the Hon Chairman sothat certain questions could be addressed.
Mr Speaker, we needto carry the sentiments of the House intowhatever we are doing. I equally suggestso. This is because the Minister iscurrently at Cabinet. So, it is importantthat the Minister and his technical teamare here, to enable us unravel or answerall the questions that are being raised. So, in that sense, I would want to agreewith you that we stand down this Motion,so that we could move on to the next. Andhopefully, tomorrow or thereafter, wecould arrange to get the Minister and thetechnical people to be here to support thepassage of this programme of activities. Thank you very much.
Very well.Thank you very much. But let me hearfrom the Chairman of the Committee. Howsoon can we get the Minister to be --
Mr Speaker, I do nothave any problem at all. The Ministerwould be around to answer some of theQuestions. So, if you do not put theQuestion, I do not have a problem. Mr Speaker, but there is one thing thatI want to make clear, and I hope Hon DrA. A. Osei would listen. He was talkingabout giving out 100 million; giving outeight million United States dollars andyet they are saying that they are lookingfor more money. The amount that he ismentioning has been taken care of as if itis revenue. It is not free money. So thatmoney is part of the revenue and on topof all that -- [Uproar.]
Very well. Hon Chairman -- [Interruption.]
Mr Speaker, I amwondering: how is it going to proceed?Would the Minister come to the Houseand respond to some of the issues or hewould meet the Committee and then dealwith the --
HonMember, my intention is that he shouldjoin the team here, while these points arebeing raised so that he could addressthem while we continue.
Mr Speaker, with thegreatest of respect, the Leadership wouldarrange to ensure that we communicateto the House, as soon as possible, whenthe Minister would be able to be here.This is because we would not take it untilwe get him to be part of us to take theconcluding part of this Motion.
Mr Speaker, I still want toget a clarification on what needs to bedone. This is because we have had somesubmissions from Hon Members. So, ifthe Minister comes, are we going to doanother submissions from the same HonMembers who contributed?
No! TheHansard will be available for him to study.So, all the arguments put up will be in theHansard. And, he will have theopportunity of reading through and thenwhen he joins us here, he can answer thequestions.
Mr Speaker, as far as Iknow, the information given to the House-- The Minister for Finance is also theMinister responsible for Power--[Interruption]-- So, this one isPetroleum? I would then not concludebecause he is requesting -- [Inter-ruption.] No! I was just warming up.
HonMember, you will be given theopportunity on the next adjourned datewhen the Minister will be here for you toconclude your argument.
When he is here, then Ican fire some more.
Mr Speaker, Ibelieve that, from the debate so far, theHouse has indicated that it is notcomfortable with the Report andapproving it, it has doubts. I believe theidea is that, when the Minister comes andhe is able to erase the doubts from HonMembers' minds, then the way would beclear for Hon Members to decide onwhether to approve or not. I am sayingthis because I want, Mr Speaker, if youmay please, the Hon Majority Whip andthe Chairman to convey these sentimentsto the Minister. Probably, when he iscoming, he should also come with the keypeople from GNPC. This is because as has been said, thepeople of this country need to becomfortable with the oversight Parliamenthas over GNPC, which is a peculiar entity.It is a commercial entity with its ownBoard. Parliament does not directlyexercise oversight over it, but it isreceiving so much money and it is almostalways after the fight that Parliamentcomments. Mr Speaker, it is the work plan thatwould enable Parliament to effectively exercise oversight over GNPC, and I amalso urging the Hon Chairman of theCommittee to bear in mind that,Parliament's oversight of GNPC isnormally exercised through the Committee. Thank you very much, Mr Speaker.
Thank youvery much. Hon Members, at this point in time, Iwould direct that the debate be deferreduntil further notice. I direct the Leadershipto programme the Minister for Petroleumto be available for the debate to continue.Please, furnish him with the Hansard fortoday, so that he would have theopportunity of reading through, andgetting the sentiments of Hon Membersgenerally on the issues that were raised.
Mr Speaker, we woulddo just that. Mr Speaker, since this is being stooddown, we would be grateful if we couldcontinue with the Right to Information Bill.
Very well.Hon Members, we now move to item 12on the Order Paper, the Right toInformation Bill, 2013 at the ConsiderationStage. Hon Members, we were at clause 11, ifmy memory serves me right. Clause 11? In the meantime, could the Table Officeget in touch with the Hon Second DeputySpeaker, to prepare himself to take overthe Chair?
BILLS -- CONSIDERATION STAGE
Mr Speaker, I begto move, clause 11, subclause (1), line 3,delete “whether expressly or impliedly”.
“Information which would reveal atrade secret, research, scientific,technical, commercial, financial orlabour related information suppliedin confidence is exempt informationif the disclosure can reasonably beexpected…” Mr Speaker, we believe that the words“whether expressly or impliedly” are notcritically necessary in that clause andtherefore, we move that those words bedeleted from the subclause 1. Question put and amendment agreedto.
Mr Speaker, I seek yourleave to further amend subclause 1, to add“to” after “expected” so that the nextamendment would be to remove “to” inparagraphs (a), (b) and (c). Mr Speaker, this would be inconsonance with earlier amendmentsmade in this vein. Mr Speaker, I so move. Question put and amendment agreedto.
Mr Speaker, I beg tomove, clause 11, subclause (1), paragraph(a), delete and insert the following: “(a) prejudice the competitive positionof a person, a group of persons or anorganisation, or (b) adversely affect negotiations witha third party.” Mr Speaker, the rationale, or thereasoning behind it is that, these twonew renditions make the clause clearerthan we had earlier. Question put and amendment agreedto.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move,clause 11, subclause (1), paragraph (c),delete and insert the following: “(c) result in a public institution notbeing supplied with similarinformation where it is in the publicinterest that the similar informationbe supplied.” Mr Speaker, again, this new renditionmakes the paragraph clearer.
Could youtell me how it makes it clearer than theprevious rendition?
Mr Speaker, the oldrendition is a bit clumsy; “result in similar information whichis not being supplied to the agency,where it is in the public interest thatsimilar information continue to besupplied”. Mr Speaker, we have made it clearer,we have also changed “agency” to“public interest” in that subclause. Question put and amendment agreedto. Clause 11 as amended ordered to standpart of the Bill. Clause 12 ordered to stand part of theBill. Clause 13 -- Internal workinginformation of agencies
Mr Speaker, I beg tomove, clause 13, headnote, delete“agencies” and insert “publicinstitutions” Mr Speaker, the headnote for clause 13would read “internal working informationof public institutions”. Mr Speaker, this isalso in line with earlier amendments thatwe substituted “agencies” for “publicinstitutions”. Question put and amendment agreedto.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move,clause 13, delete and insert the following: “13. (1) Information is exempt fromdisclosure, which if disclosed,would reveal (a) an opinion, an advice, a reportor a recommendation contained,prepared or recorded, or (b)a consultation or a deliberationheld in the course of or for thepurpose of making a decision in thepublic service or a public institutionof the Government and which canreasonably be expected to frustrateor inhibit the candid and deliberativeprocess of a public institution orbetween public institutions. (2) Information which (a) merely contains material that hasbeen publicly mentioned as the basis of a public policy or forformulating public policy, or (b)contains only factual or statis-tical date is not exempt information.” Mr Speaker, if I may further amend thatby deleting “of the Government”, so thatit would continue to read “of a public institution and whichcan reasonably be expected tofrustrate or inhibit the candid anddeliberative process of a publicinstitution or between public institutions.” Mr Speaker, I so move.
Thank you,Mr Speaker. This exemption is couched in the termswhich render it almost impossible to getinformation from any agency, whichincludes the expression of opinions or thereasoning behind decisions which havebeen taken by the agency. I would like the Chairman of theCommittee to explain the reason for thisamendment so it makes it clearer to us. An example which comes to mindreadily is that nobody can request for theminutes of any meeting held by a publicinstitution on the basis of this exemption,because based on this clause it would beexempt information, and that may, if oneknew the reasoning behind the decisionwhich was taken, would make it easier tounderstand some of the rationale forcertain decisions. Could the Chairman explain why thisamendment is being sought? I had a problem with the original clause itself.This is because I see that it is couched interms which would make any informationat all which contains an expression of anopinion, an advice, a report or arecommendation outside the reach ofanyone who seeks any such informationfrom the public institution. So, if theChairman could explain the rationalebehind it, and show the other informationwhich contains such disclosures thatwould be permissible to be disclosed.
Very well. Chairman of the Committee, can yourespond to the issue raised?
Yes, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, this amendment that weare making is similar to clauses 5 and 6,which we have deferred. The rationale isthat an opinion or an advice of a technicalofficer in the public institution is notnecessarily a decision. It is only anadvisory opinion, given to aid decisionmaking. Mr Speaker, it is after the authority hasconsidered the advice given, that it couldbase a decision upon it. Under thecircumstances, if the advice given iscontrary to a decision made, and one goesfor the advice, of what use would thatinformation be to him? One cannotauthoritatively use the advice which maybe contrary to a decision. Mr Speaker, so, we think it is properthat we seek information related todecision made, and not advice or opinionmade. This is our rationale. Mr Joseph Osei-Owusu -- rose --
Can we heara response from you?
Mr Speaker, if welook at the last part of the amendment onclause 13 (b), we would get it better. Itreads as follows:
HonMembers, we could go on and on, but Ibelieve that we are looking at a situationwhere one is asking for information withregard to decisions taken. But if oneshould go on to ask for how thosedecisions were arrived at, or the piece ofadvice and so on, you would be going astep beyond what you would be entitledto. For example, if a person decides to votein a certain manner at a certain meeting,what he is interested in is the final outcomeof the vote, and not why “X” decided tovote for or against.
Mr Speaker, the constitu-tional right is clear. Unless we can situatethis restriction of the information to beprovided to decisions taken underqualifications that are necessary in ademocratic society, then I am afraid weare putting a fetter which was notcontemplated by the Constitution on it,by imposing such a restriction. We do not know why people wouldseek information from public agencies. Ifwe say that we would only make decisionsof public institutions available, but notthe deliberative processes leading to thedecisions available, then we arearrogating to ourselves the power torestrict the information which individualsmay want. Sitting here, we have no idea whypeople would want certain information forwhatever reason. So, I believe restrictingit to merely decisions and not theprocesses leading to the decisions is notwhat is contemplated by the Constitution,and it goes beyond the ambit of whatour powers are. I would urge that weproceed with caution in that regard. Mr Speaker, I can concede that publicofficials would be reluctant to expose theentire workings of an institution to publicscrutiny. But not everybody would wantthat information anyway. We do not knowwhat information people seek and whythey would seek that information. So, let us couch it in such a way that itwould not unduly prevent others fromseeking information which they wouldordinarily be entitled to, by your intervention, and the Chairman'sintervention, that we ought to restrict itto decisions only . I do not think that iswhat the Constitution contemplates, andI do not think that we should be doingthat. If that were to be accepted then evenclause 2 -- [Interruption] --
HonMember, can you help me a bit? Whichportion of the Constitution supports thisargument that you are putting up?
Mr Speaker, Article 21 (1)(f). The memorandum says it, and I quote: “All persons shall have right to -- (f) information, subject to suchqualifications and laws as arenecessary in a democratic society;” Mr Speaker, that is the only restriction-- “subject to such qualifications andlaws as are necessary in a democraticsociety.” Are we defining that to mean allthe deliberative processes leading to thetaking of a decision are exempt?
Let us listento other Hon Members. Let us listen to Hon K. T. Hammond,then we would come to Hon Akyea.
Mr Speaker, inciden-tally, the argument as contained in here,was destroyed by the British House ofLords in 1965, that civil servants wouldbe reluctant to openly deliberate on issuesbecause of the fear that in the end, it maybe found that they said A, B, C, and D.The House of Lords was not interested atall that it was a proper argument. Mr Speaker, even though at a point Iwas content to be impressed with HonOwusu-Ekuful's argument, I think thereis a safety net on page 12, clause 18. Thereis an omnibus provision there. If you havea copy, Mr Speaker, it says, and I quote: “Disclosure for the Protection ofPublic Interest”. When we get there we would argueabout it, but that is where all theexemptions which appear to have beengiven, have been reined in again. It saysthat, and I quote: “Despite a provision of this Act onexempt information , information isnot exempt if the disclosure of theinformation reveals evidence of…”(a), (b), (c), and (d). Mr Speaker, it is all there. So, theproblem that my Colleague has with thisis the process where something goeswrong. Clause 18 says that if it is the casethen it is not exempt. Maybe, we can leaveit as it is, and when we get to clause 18 ,we would look at it and see if it cures ordoes not cure it. So, I think we should letthat one go.
Mr Speaker, I wouldpremise my support and alignment withmy Hon Colleague on the sameConstitution. Article 296 talks about theexercise of discretion. You cannotproperly exercise discretion unless youhave information, reasons, opinion andexpert report before you come to oneconclusion or the other. Mr Speaker, if you say what informedyou to come to a conclusion is exemptfrom public knowledge, nobody shouldbe able to understand why you came tothis conclusion, I do not see anyprocedure which gags information morethan this.
HonMembers, the Hon Second DeputySpeaker is to take the Chair. You can continue with your argument.
MR SECOND DEPUTY SPEAKER
If you should say thatthe conclusion of the matter is whatanybody should be interested in, but notthe processes, how do we assess that inexercising your discretion, you were notarbitrary, capricious or biased, either byresentment, prejudice, personal dislikeand the rest of them? How can we assessthat you were not candid in the matter,having regard to an expert opinion that ifyou had properly looked at it, yourdecision would have changed? Mr Speaker, I am of the view thatinsofar as you are taking away thedeliberative process from the knowledgeof the public, it would serve no goodpurpose at all; it would, in fact, defeatthe spirit of us trying to have access toinformation. That is my view of the matter.What has been captured in clause 13 (1)is very subversive of the very Act we aretrying to pass into law.
Mr Speaker, the twoHon Members who previously spoke, the Hon Members for Ablekuma West andAbuakwa South, made it appear as if theclause gives blanket exemption -[Interruption.] They do not. The clausesays: “a consultation or deliberation heldin the course of or for the purposeof making a decision in the publicservice or a public institution of theGovernment and which can rea-sonably be expected to frustrate orinhibit the candid and deliberativeprocess of a public institution orbetween public institutions.”
What about subclause(a)?
I am not supposedto address you so I would ignore you. If you read the clause in its entirety,subclauses (a) and (b) are both subject tothis proviso, that if the information givenout to you has the potential or it canreasonably be expected to frustrate orinhibit the candid and deliberative processof a public institution, then it is exempt. As the Hon Member for AdansiAsokwa pointed out, all these exemptionshave been made subject to the publicinterest. So, when you put all here, all theexemptions notwithstanding, the cardinalthing is that, the test is a public interestone. In the end, if you can prove thatnotwithstanding these provisions, it is inthe interest of the public to disclose it toyou, it would be disclosed. I do not think there is any harm at all. Itfalls in line with the constitutionalprovision of making other restrictions asare necessary and important fordemocratic process. Mr Speaker, thisamendment is appropriate and I urge theHouse to support it.
Mr Speaker, myunderstanding of the Right to InformationBill with all the caveats and the restrictionsis clear. I keep saying that when it comesto public institutions, what opinion, forinstance, is within the Ministry of Financeproffered by an expert that we are tryingto hide, that somebody should not see it. In fact, that opinion, for all you care toknow, has been paid for by the taxpayer.That kind of opinion which you wouldwant to hide, that nobody should see, hasbeen paid for by the taxpayer, and maybe,there was some good sense in trying torequest for that opinion. At the end of the day, if we should saythat the opinion, which was before theHon Minister for Finance, for example, incoming to one conclusion or the other,should be removed from public domainand you cannot have access to that, youhave defeated the whole purpose ofaccess to information. What is in theopinion that you want to hide? You are talking about an opinion whichwould inhibit the deliberative process.What kind of opinion would inhibit thedeliberative process? At the end of theday -- [Interruption.]
It is not the opinionthat would inhibit it; it is the disclosure tomake will -- [Interruption.]
Yes, the disclosurewould inhibit it. If even you wrote - Iwould want to come out with one opinion.Who wrote about relativity? If the opinion came from Einstein, thedecision maker can say he would not lookat it. The opinion is not binding on thedecision maker. So, if somebody shouldwant to find out how you arrived at thisposition, in the face of this opinion, and you say you cannot because it has thepotential of inhibiting the deliberativeprocess and the rest of it, I do not seeanything which gags the freedom ofinformation more than a situation in whichthe processes are ignored but theoutcome should be fine. Why would youwant to hide the processes from thegeneral public? It is not good enough.
Mr Speaker, Ihave listened to the arguments madeearlier by my seniors, Hon Ekuful andHon Atta Akyea but Mr Speaker --
And youare about to give a ruling? You said youhave listened to the arguments and I amasking, having listened to the arguments,are you about to give a ruling? --[Laughter.]
I wish I had such powers, MrSpeaker. Mr Speaker, I happen to be a memberof the Committee and these issues werethought through carefully. If you take acritical look at article 21(1) (f) of theConstitution, which has already beenquoted on the floor, it gives us the roomto make these exemptions.
“All persons shall have the right toinformation subject to suchqualifications and laws as arenecessary in a democratic society.” Mr Speaker, inasmuch as we want togive freedom to any citizen, which isguaranteed by the Constitution, to accessinformation, we are very much also undera duty to ensure that, that information orthe processes involved are not let out todisrupt the democratic process that wehave. So, all that must be done and theambit of this provision is that, itshould be done as is necessary in ademocratic society. Mr Speaker, if people are going to haveaccess to information, this law clearlyallows us to make these exemptions towhat went into the process of information. Mr Speaker, if we are to put everyinformation out there, there are certaininformation that are not for publicconsumption, and these are adminis-trative processes that resulted in theinformation. So, if you look at even article21(f), which we seem to be relying onwhich gives us the right to access theinformation, it gives us also that room tobe able to regulate the access to thisinformation in such a way that, it doesnot disturb our democratic society thatwe have built over the years. So, Mr Speaker, I do not see anythingwrong with the amendment, as it stands,except for a new intervention which isdifferent from what is currently beingaddressed on the floor. So, Mr Speaker, ifwe have such powers as a Parliament todraft the Right to Information Bill in sucha way that it will help all of us, why not? Once we go into who took this decision,who wrote this report, then we arepersonalising this whole thing. Peoplewould go beyond it. This is because if itis the minutes that arrived at the decisionor if it was a report, then they were goingto look at who were the members of theCommittee, and who said what atthemeeting and it would end up distractingthe whole democratic process and theintent for which this law is being sought. So, Mr Speaker, I believe inasmuch aswe want to give the right to people toaccess information, certain informationthat we think would distract the entireprocess and attach personal attacks topeople who are put there to work for thisnation, we do not have to discouragethese people at all. It is the processes and the opinionsand reports that go into it, that we do notthink it would help our democraticdispensation. I thank you, Mr Speaker.
HonMember for Sekondi?
Thank youvery much, Mr Speaker. I propose the pointmade by the Hon Member for Dome-Kwabenya and the Hon Member forBekwai, the Hon Ranking Member on theCommittee. I believe that in this Bill, we are tryingto balance certain interests. Interests in ademocratic society for citizens to haveaccess to information, and at the sametime, creating an environment whichwould not prevent people from expressingtheir views prior to taking a decision -- Mr Speaker, I am sure we are familiarwith situations where people are reluctantto express their views at meetings etcetera. This is because they believe thatwhen their views, as expressed, becomeknown outside, people may have certainnegative reaction to it. However, in a democratic society youneed to know the decision. At the sametime, you also would want to ensure aprocess which would not prevent people
I havealways asked myself whether it is theloudness of the voice or it is the numberof people who are shouting -- I believe it is not just the tone of thevoice, it is the number of the people. Andhere there is a handful which is shoutingitself out, but I will put the Questionagain. Question put and amendment agreedto. Clause 13 as amended ordered tostand part of the Bill.
Clause14?Clause 14 -- Parliamentary privilege,fair trial, contempt of Court
Mr Speaker, I beg tomove, clause 14, opening phrase, line 2,after “expected” insert “to” So, Mr Speaker, clause 14 would read,information is exempt information if itsdisclosure can reasonably be expected to. Mr Speaker, subsequently, we alsopropose to remove the proposition ‘to'from paragraphs (a), (b) and (c) which iscontained in item seven. Mr Speaker, it isin consonance with the amendment earlierproposed in (6).
I believeit is quite simple. I will put the Question. Ms Safo -- rose --
Mr Speaker, I crave yourindulgence, I know you have put theQuestion on clause 13, but I have a littleobservation that I wanted to draw yourattention to. [Interruption.]-- Mr Speaker, mention is made to publicservice or public
Irecognised you because I assumed thatyou were going to talk about clause 14.So, if it is clause 13 that you want to talkabout, let us finish clause 14 and then youcan raise your issue and we see whetherwe relax the rules.
Very well. Question put and amendment agreedto.
Chairmanof the Committee?
Mr Speaker, I beg tomove, clause 15 we propose to --
It is itemvii. You just did vi. You have to do --
Mr Speaker, I did item viias part of vi.
No, moveitem vii.
Very well. Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 14,beginning of paragraphs (a), (b), and (c),delete “to” Question put and amendment agreedto. Clause 14 as amended ordered to standpart of the Bill. Clause 15 -- Legal profession and anyother privilege under law
Mr Speaker, I beg tomove, clause 15, headnote, delete andinsert “Privileged information”. Question put and amendment agreedto.
Mr Speaker, I beg move,clause 15, subclause (1), paragraph (b),subparagraph (ii), delete Question put and amendment agreedto.
Chairmanof Committee, what Ministry is pilotingthis Bill?
Mr Speaker, the Ministryof Justice and Attorney-General.
Youwould agree with me that, this is a veryserious Bill. The Hon Minister is not here;the Hon Deputy Minister is also not here.
Mr Speaker, rightly so.
Thedrafters are here for other matters andother ministries. For their own Ministry,they are not here. The Hon Minister is here for other matters and this is a veryserious Bill. It is not your Bill; it is theExecutive's Bill, even though now yourCommittee is in charge of it. What is yoursuggestion?
Mr Speaker, I perfectlyagree with the sentiments that you havejust raised, that the sponsors of the Billought to be in the House to listen to thedebate as it progresses. But last week, Iknow that the Hon Attorney-General andMinister for Justice was out of thejurisdiction. Her deputy was here the firstfew days of the week -- except that onFriday, he was not here. I do not haveinformation why he is not here today. Mr Speaker, if their absence may notcritically jeopardise the debate, I suggestthat we proceed so that when we get toclauses where we might need their input,we may defer them and get them to attendupon this House.
There isa reason it is good that the Executive isrepresented when all Bills are beingdiscussed and the reason is constitu-tional. Give me a second, please.[Pause]-- Mr Chairman, we would want toencourage the situation where ordinarily,the Executive is exempted fromdeliberations on its Bill, unless theirpresence is needed. The rule is that theyshould be here, and it is not theexemption. If you say that we shouldprogress unless it will not prejudice thedebate, the statement is one that is --
Not supported by therules?
Not eventhat, but the practise creates theimpression that the Executive can absentitself unless it can be shown that their absence would prejudice the debate. ButI thought that it was the other way round,that the Executive should be present, theMinistry should be present, and if theyare not, they must show why. Maybe,there is some reason or urgency,especially in a Bill of this nature. Right to Information Bill is a veryserious Bill and we cannot be going on -- I do not see even any Minister of State.Is there a Minister here? If there was aMinister here, maybe, we could have toldthe Minister -- I do not know. Could yougive me a second, please? Let me consultwith the Clerks-at- the-Table. [Pause]-- Mr Frank Annoh-Dompreh -- rose --
HonMember, is there a matter you --
Rightly so, MrSpeaker. I am just on my feet to supportyour call for the presence of the --
Do notworry, I am about to -- Thank you verymuch. Mr Chairman, if it was in court, it wouldbe said that you have to take a cue fromthe Bench. You are not in court but I knowthat you can take a cue from --
Yes, Mr Speaker, I deferto your capable hands to rule on the issue.I agree with you that the sponsors of theBill --
I do notwant to rule; I want you to advise me.
Very well. Mr Speaker. I propose that we stepdown the debate and continue after wehave made efforts to get them into theHouse to assist us.
But letus finish -- We are on clause 14 right?
We are on clause 15, MrSpeaker.
Let usfinish with clause 15. So, we have doneitem numbered 12 (ix)?
Mr Speaker, we havedone item number 12 (viii).
So,Chairman of the Committee, item number12 (ix).
Mr Speaker, I beg tomove, clause 15, subclause (1), paragraph(b), sub-paragraph (ii), delete That is a man and a wife who holdthemselves out as husband and wife.
Why areyou deleting that, please? Mr Osei-Owusu -- rose --
I believethe Hon Ranking Member wants to --
Mr Speaker, there isno legal basis for that provision.
Until theProperty Rights of Spouses has beenpassed.
In that Bill, theCommittee has recommended that it betaken out. You are either married or not.Concubinage being given legal status isto be frowned upon, and this Houseshould not be seen to be the one toutingor espousing it.
So, areyou suggesting that to keep that clausein would be to raise --
Mr Speaker, it wouldbe to raise the status of concubinage tobe at par with marriage.
Mr Speaker, the HonRanking Member is right. That was thethinking of the Committee. We do notwant to enter the fray of the debate oncohabitation and marriage. That is ourbeef.
Mr Speaker, ordinarily, Iwould not comment on the deletion of thisclause. But it appears that we are losingsight of the reality that confronts all of usdaily, that there are subsistingrelationships akin to the marital one,which save the legal rules, not beingcomplied with, would in all respects,qualify as marriage. There are people whohave lived with, had children with and hadlong associations with their partners. So, I think we need to start moving inline with the trends in other jurisdictions,where such long abiding relationships arealso accorded the rights andresponsibilities that are due those who arein formal unions. There may be situations where peoplewould have lived together, had childrenfor 20 years and have exchanged a lot ofinformation among each other whichought to be privileged. But we are sayingthat because they have not gone throughthe process of formalising thatrelationship, we should throw everythingthey are doing out. I defer to the superior knowledge ofthe members of the Committee. But I thinkthe House should start rethinking itsstance when we are faced with the realitythat many homes in this country arepopulated with people in unions whichare even stronger than the marital union,but for circumstances beyond theircontrol or by choice, have not formalisedthose unions.
Mr Speaker, I would havegone along with the Hon Member forAblekuma West if we had gone throughthe Property Rights of Spouses Bill. Mr Speaker, one of the provisions inthat Bill is that, a person who has livedwith a man or woman, presumably for fiveyears and above, may be entitled tosomething in the property. But we havenot yet gone through that Bill and so itdoes not give any legitimacy to suchinformal type of “matrimony”. Mr Speaker, I do not know whether weare sanctioning morality in our society ornot if we proceed to sanction this. Peoplecan take advantage and live with eachother without legitimising it. But my worryis that, I do not see why the Chairmanshould consider deleting this one andretaining the part of (a), which refers tocommon law marriage. I do not think wehave anything like common law marriagein our system. Mr Speaker, I know of only three typesof marriages; the ordinance marriage, theMohammedan marriage and then thecustomary marriage. But he is referring tothe recognition of common law marriage,and I do not know where we place that.This is because, so far as our laws areconcerned, I do not think we have givenany recognition to common law marriages. Mr Speaker, when customary law wasformally recognised by registration, theydid not mention common law, and so I donot know why he is trying to retain thatand delete this one. And what is thedifference between the common lawmarriage and this apparent matrimony?
Mr Speaker, I believe thatwe related the reference made to subclause(b) (1) to article 11 (2) of the Constitutionand that seriously informed us to take outthe —
Pleasewhat does the article say?
Mr Speaker, with yourleave, if I may read: “(2) The common law of Ghana shallcomprise the rules of law generallyknown as the common law, the rulesgenerally known as the doctrines ofequity and the rules of customarylaw including those determined bythe Superior Court of Judicature.”
HonMember for Ablekuma West, there is anAct on marriages in Ghana, is there not?What is it called?
Mr Speaker, it is theMatrimonial Causes Act.
So, whenwe have the Matrimonial Causes Act thathas defined what marriage is, how can werely on article 11 (2) of the 1992Constitution? Article 11 (2) just says thatthe common law is part of our laws. It talksabout the hierarchy of laws. It starts withthe Constitution, Acts of Parliament,common law et cetera. And so when thereis an Act of Parliament; the MatrimonialCauses Act that has defined what marriageis, why do you seek to bring in a commonlaw marriage which has a specificdefinition, and is not included in thedefinition of marriage under theMatrimonial Causes Act? I agree with Hon W. O. Boafo, butplease,correct me if I am wrong.
Mr Speaker, the commonlaw in the clause does not refer to thecommon law marriage, but the commonlaws of Ghana; the laws which constitutethe common law of Ghana, and that as well includes our customary law. And somarriage as defined by customary law byany enactment —
HonChairman, is it necessary to have thisdispute? The common law as defined inarticle 11 (2) of the 1992 Constitution isthe common law of Ghana, the equity aswell as the customary law. What is thecommon law of Ghana? — [Pause.] The common law of Ghana is made upof three different sections; the commonlaw, the rules of equity and the customarylaw. And so the common law as it is usedhere, what common law is that? Is it thecommon law of England is it the commonlaw of Ghana? The common law is usedtwice there.
Mr Speaker, there isone that we inherited, which is generallycalled the common law. It is actually thecommon law of England which was appliedto us up to a point, and therefore, we callthat the common law. But if we add thecustomary law of Ghana, the law of equity,then we have the Ghanaian common law —
Which ismade up of what?
The common law Ihave received.
Whichlaw recognises common law marriage?
Mr Speaker, until1876, we did not recognise common lawmarriage.
Who toldyou that?
Mr Speaker, it is alatter development?
Who toldyou that?
One was marriedunder the Ordinance, the Mohammedanlaw or the Customary law.
HonMember, you cannot convince me that asyou stand there, you are aware of thecommon law dealing with marriages from1876 and what the situation was. Youcannot convince me. You cannot tell mewhat the law of marriages was in England.You and I know that you do not know it.
Mr Speaker, themarriage as applied to Ghana was theMatrimonial Causes Act.
So, thepoint is that, the Matrimonial Causes Actdoes not include — there is nothingknown as common law marriage in theMatrimonial Causes Act. Do you agreewith me?
Mr Speaker, to theextent that it was a specific legislation madefor Ghana which continues to apply --
Readclause 15 (b) (i); it says, “spouses whether married under anenactment . . . ” The only enactment is the MatrimonialCauses Act or under the common law.
Mr Speaker, to thatextent I agree. Because then, theenactment itself is subsumed under thiscommon law, and so we cannot cite thetwo. Mr Speaker, I agree with you and sowe may propose an —
HonChairman, it should be, “spouses marriedunder Ghanaian law”. It is not only under Ghanaian law because, maybe, they mighthave married outside. Look out for arendition because basically, I am not toocomfortable with that sentence. This isbecause, “spouses whether married underan enactment”, and I believe the reasonthey said an enactment is that, one couldbe married in the United States of America(USA) but the marriage is recognised inGhana. But when we say an enactment orunder the common law, as defined, thenwe are talking about English common law.
Mr Speaker, we maypropose to review that subclause (1) b —
Since weare not going to finish today —
Mr Speaker, we wouldwant to flag it and defer decision on it.
Mr Speaker, please let mepropose an amendment to that. If we statethat; “spouses whether married under anenactment or at customary law”, thattakes care of the various kinds of marriagesthat we have in the country; either it isordinance marriage,the Mohammedanmarriage or the customary law marriage.So, that should take care of it and we donot need to debate the issue any further.. Mr Second Deputy Speaker: Whatabout a marriage under Islamic law —[Interruption]— which do not occur inGhana, and are not under an enactment?There are some countries where it is notunder an enactment. It is possible. Thereis a marriage that occurs in a country, orunder the custom of some country. In that country, that union isrecognised by law. The person comes toGhana and he is seeking the privilege buthe did not marry in Ghana, so he is not under the matrimonial ordinance Act, heis not under the Mohammedans ordinanceand he is not under Ghanaian customarylaw. But he is married outside thejurisdiction, in a country where whateverhappens there is recognised as marriage.[Interruption.] But if they are husbandand wife in that country, do we not thinkthat the privilege should also be extendedto them -- or when they come to Ghana,they should register their marriage?
Mr Speaker, that is why alot of spouses or presumed spouses missout under the application of PNDC Law111 as well. They are not spouses in theeyes of the law. Hence, once it is notrecognised by our law as a legal marriage,then no right which pertains to spousesunder our law should be enjoyed by anyof those partners. So, we may want to re-visit our viewson ‘common law' or ‘concubinage' andcommon law unions - we may have to re-visit it. That is why in my earlierintervention, I said that let us beginthinking about the various forms ofunions that our people find themselvesin, and make provisions for that, so thatthey would also be covered by our laws -
Sorry -- In that case, it would be dealing with thepersonality of that person. Hon Osei-Owusu, I think it is a question. At that stage,you would be dealing with the personal lawof the person under private internationalchoice of law. It is a question of facts andthat must be proved but we would deferclause 15. We have interesting discussionon clause 15 -- we would defer it.
Mr Speaker, on a lighternote, and not to appear to be belabouringthe point.
Today,Hon Osei-Owusu and Hon Ekuful havedisagreed on everything. And they aresitting next to each other too.[Interruption.]-- No, I did not hear that;there is blasphemy happening but I didnot hear that. Hon Minority Leader, we areconsidering a very important Bill, Rightto Information Bill but unfortunately, theExecutive is not present. The Attorney-General and Minister for Justice is notpresent and neither is her Deputy. Thedraftspersons are here for other Bills, butwhen it is their own Bill -- they are nothere. [Interruption] I do not know. Beforethe Hon Member came in, I wasexpressing some reservations as to howto proceed. I was not seeing my wayclearly. It reminded me of the hymn: “. . . the distance scene One stepenough for me”. This is because there is not even anyother member of the Executive present. Icannot even say that they are holdingbrief for someone. [Interruption.] Hon Muntaka, from what I have said, Iwould please call on you to advise me.Let me say it again. We are consideringthe Right to Information Bill, but I cannotsee the Attorney-General and Minister forJustice, nor her Deputy; neither can I see
Mr Speaker, wewould make efforts to get all thesecorrected. When we started, the DeputyAttorney-General and Deputy Ministerfor Justice was almost always here. Hewas even here on Tuesday. I would check-- there is a Cabinet meeting today, butI do not know whether his superior is intown. If she is not in town, I do not know,but, he may be attending the Cabinetmeeting on behalf of the Ministry. Mr Speaker, I have to agree with youthat they must always be here. At least,one of them, with their technical officerswould have to be here to assist uswhenever there is the need for someexplanations. We would make sure thatwe correct this error.
I recallseeing the Hon Deputy Attorney-Generaland Deputy Minister for Justice here. Ido not have any doubt in my mind thatthey are diligent, including the membersof the office of the Attorney-General andMinister for Justice. But we must wait forthem.
I definitely agreeas the Chairman rightly said. We wouldstep it down with the hope to continuetomorrow when we have some of themaround.
Mr Speaker,may I seek a clarification. If two people marry in the United Statesof America under the gay law and thencome here -- Over there, it is in their Actand it is their personal law -- do we acceptit because it is their personal law?
Thankyou. I would deal with it.
Mr Speaker,first I guess it is most informative hearingfrom the Chief Whip on the Majority side,that the Hon Deputy Attorney-Generaland Deputy Minister for Justice might,perhaps, be holding brief for the HonAttorney-General and Minister forJustice, if the latter is not in thejurisdiction, today being a Cabinetmeeting day. Mr Speaker, I thought those whoconstitute the Cabinet, for which reasonthey are entitled to attend Cabinetmeetings, that characterisation isconstitutionally stipulated. Whichexplains why if Cabinet Ministers are notin the jurisdiction and Cabinet meetingshave to be held, a Cabinet member wouldhold fort for the Colleague CabinetMinister and not the Deputy Minister. Ithought that was the usual practice. Mr Speaker, I did not know that, in theevolution of our democracy, ourconstitutional governance, have gottento the time where Cabinet meetings arepopulated by Deputy Ministers and otherranks -- I did not know that. That is quiteinformative. But Mr Speaker, I, if we have to,maybe, stand the Bill down, it might befor some other considerations other thanthe fact that because the Hon Attorney-General or Deputy Attorney-General andMinister for Justice is not around, ormaybe, any of the draftspersons are notaround, we would have to stand it down. This is because, once the Bill isintroduced into this Chamber, ownershipis taken by Parliament. They could be hereto assist us. But if we are running intosome rumble strips, or we are certainlyhiccupped we have to stand it down, thatwould be admissible. But to say that aDeputy Minister or a Minister is notaround so we should adjourn, Mr Speaker,that would not be very official to us. Yes, we may be having some challengesand the challenges would be occasioningthe standing down of furtherconsideration of the Bill. I think thatshould be the way to go. Otherwise,anytime a Minister or a Deputy Ministeris not available, we may not be able toproceed on anything. I just wanted thatclarification so that we are sure --
It isinteresting that you have said thatbecause that was the view of the Chairmanof the Committee. That we could proceeduntil there are problems. I had a differentview but it is not a ruling; it was just aview I also expressed based on practice.The practice is usually that the Ministrythat is piloting the Bill or is concernedwith the Bill is usually represented. If it is not represented, at least, theywould make another Minister representthem. That is usually the practice. Is that the practice? [Interruption.] therepresentation for the --
I said, theChairman of the Committee had the sameview of what you said but I had a slightlydifferent view. It was not on the ruling. My view was based on practice, thatusually when we are considering a Bill,the Executive, represented by the HonMinister whom the Bill concerns or hisDeputy is usually here. Even if they arenot here, another Minister representsthem. What you are suggesting is that, wecan proceed full steam ahead. But I wouldhave thought that because of the natureof the constitutional arrangement that wehave designed for ourselves, whichforesee some kind of collaboration, ormarriage of some sort to a certain level,between the Executive and theLegislature, where even the descriptionof the Bills that are passed is by thePresident and Parliament. We ratherencourage the view that the Executive ishere rather than the view that the Executiveneed not be here.
Mr Speaker,the presence of the Executive is to ensurethat any consideration of any provisionis confined to the policy underpinningsof the Bill, which would usually beencapsulated in the memorandum. But tothe extent that we confine ourselveswithin the memorandum, Parliament couldgo ahead. Notwithstanding Mr Speaker, we havehad situations in this House, where eventhe policy drive as captured in thememorandum has been changed, andwhen we have said that the Executiveshould take back the Bill, and situate thenew proposal in the memorandum, wehave been urged by the Chair to proceed.That certainly is an infraction, and it is anassault on the memorandum.That is indeedthe policy underpinning the Bill. Eventhat, we have gone ahead to craft Bills inthis House. So, Mr Speaker, as I said, the presenceof a Minister is supposed to guide us sothat we confine ourselves to the path ofthe policy drive behind the Bill. Other than that, once it comes here, Parliament isliberated to do whatever it likes, to anextent that, we confine ourselves to theprovisions in the memorandum. But I agree with you, that usually, byour own practice, we have allowed thatthing to happen. If we would want to betechnical, once it comes here and itespouses the principles captured in thememorandum, we are liberated to dowhatever we want to, to the extent thatwe do not go outside the policy as statedin the memorandum.
So,based on that position, should weproceed?
Hon Speaker, Iam intrigued, having listened to some ofthe issues that are being raised about thecontinuous reference to Islam asMohammedanism. There is no religion calledMohammedanism; factually, spirituallyand otherwise. Mr Speaker, the commontrend globally is that this has been anarchaic phenomenon. It is a medievalphenomenon that was misconstrued. Islamwas misconstrued as Mohammedanism. The practice across the world is torecognise and appropriately label thereligion as it is. It is Islam and notMohammedanism. Mr Speaker, a walking stick may be verylong, it has where you hold -- [Laughter.]If you turn it upside down, it becomes anoffensive weapon. The sensibilities ofmany Muslims are offended by thecontinuous reference to Islam asMohammedanism. I would want to take this opportunity to urge this HonourableHouse to undertake a critical review ofwhatever is in our statutes and our laws,and bring it up to date to global terms, sothat we would also meet the needs andexpectations of the large body of Muslimsin this country. Thank you very much, Mr Speaker.
HonMember, God is great. His ways are notour ways and His thoughts are not ourthoughts. By God's grace, you are here.That is why you have made thisintervention. So, I will urge you, not to stop here, touse the platform that God has given toyou. This is because I believe that everyMember of Parliament is here by the graceof God, to ensure that this medieval trendis changed from our laws. The Hon Members were referring towhat is stated in our statutes. They didnot mean any offence but that is what itis. It is an ordinance and ordinances arethings that were made during pre-colonialera. So, I am not surprised that during thepre-colonial era, they referenced it usingmedieval terms. But thank God, today we are in modernday Ghana. I advise you to do what youcan as a Member of Parliament. Thank you very much. Mr Hammond -- rose --
Yes? Are you commenting on this? If youare commenting on it, I would not allowyou to. [Interruption.] Are you commenting on this?
On the proposal,yes, stepping down of this subject matterfor further debate on --
All right,you can continue.
Yes. Mr Speaker, I actually thought that youhad already ruled on that because youcalled on the Hon Chairman of theCommittee to advise you or give you anindication and he proposed that we stepit down because of the absence of the -- So, I thought that was it. But MrSpeaker, just to add to it. It is importantthat they be here. They are the sponsorsof this Bill. Prior to your taking the Chair,the Hon First Deputy Speaker had alsoruled that the Hon Minister for Petroleumshould come to this House because wewere debating the Motion on GNPC'sactivities.
I waslistening to him and Hon Muntaka saidhe would try and get in touch with himand see to it that he comes here and soon.
Absolutely. So, itshould not be difficult to get one of thetwo: the Hon Minister or his Deputy tocome and get this thing sorted out. Mr Speaker, I think your decision hasbeen made easier for you because the HonChairman actually said yes, that was reallyin the --
HonK. T. Hammond, there are people inParliament who belong to the school ofthought that there should be a separationbetween the Legislature and Executive.The people who belong to this school ofthought, anytime they have an oppor-tunity, would want to express it in so manywords. I heard the Hon First Deputy Speaker,so, I am surprised about this turn ofevents. I am quite surprised; I accept it. Ithank you very much. I have taken a cuefrom the Hon Chairman of the Committee. The Hon Member for Akyem AbuakwaNorth asked me a question for a direction.I do not intend to answer that question.Suffice it to say that this is her maidenspeech.This is her maiden speech and Iwould want to congratulate her on it. Under Erskine May, it is said that,when a new Hon Member comes, the HonMember is given the pride of place andgiven the opportunity to speak beforeothers. I would encourage her. I like the wayshe spoke, her diction and confidence,which is like an experienced Hon Memberof Parliament. So, I encourage her tocontinue speaking. We would expect tosee her. I saw her sitting down quietly. I waspraying that she would speak and Ibelieve the Lord spoke to her and myprayers were answered. So, I would wantto congratulate her. As far as the matter she raised isconcerned, since clause 15 has beendeferred, perhaps, she can raise it and theCommittee would take it on board. When a clause is deferred, one canalways go to the Committee and makeone's views known. This brings us to the end of theConsideration Stage on the Right toInformation Bill, 2013 for today. Hon Member, any indication?
MrSpeaker, thank you. Mr Speaker, this is just to add that ourHon Colleague, the newcomer, raised herhand. We would want to correct her thatnext time, she should not raise her hand,but she should stand to catch the eye ofthe Speaker. Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that theHouse to adjourn till tomorrow at 10o'clock in the forenoon.
MrSpeaker, I second the Motion. Question put and Motion agreed to.