MR FIRST DEPUTY SPEAKER
HonMembers, Correction of Votes andProceedings and Official Report. [No correction was made to the Votesand Proceedings of Friday, 3rd June,2016.] [No correction was made to theOfficial Report of Thursday, 26th May,2016.]
HonDeputy Majority Leader, is the HonMinister available for Question time?
Yes, MrSpeaker, the Hon Minister is available.
Verywell. Hon Members, Question time. Thefirst Question stands in the name of theHon Member for Lambussie/Karni, MrEdward Kaale-ewola Dery. Yes, Hon Deputy Majority Leader?
Yes, HonDeputy Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker,last week, we tried resolving this problem,so, it is all right.
Very well. Hon Member for Lambussie/Karni, youhave the floor.
ORAL ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS
MINISTRY OF POWER
Mr Speaker, exactly so. Inthe Hon Deputy Minister's own Answers,he mentioned Chetu and Kokorligu to bepart of their projects on SHEP-V. Mr Speaker, the Hon Deputy Ministermentioned that installation would havestarted by the second quarter and today is 7th June, 2016, and we are almost at theend of the second quarter. Can he tell uswhen he thinks the installations wouldstart at Chetu and Kokorligu?
Mr Speaker, I want toconfirm that the contractors should havecommenced work before the end of June,2016.
HonMember, any further questions?
Mr Speaker, I am very happyto hear that. Mr Speaker, the other communitiesmentioned; Tanpuri, Nichile, Bu, andGyirigan — Again, I would like to know,since in the Answers the Hon DeputyMinister gave, he indicated that thesecommunities were not part of the SHEP-V. With these approvals that he is giving,can he tell the House when contractorswould be at site?
Mr Speaker, as I indicated,the Report has just been submitted to theMinistry. The good news is that, we havequite a lot of materials in stock, so, wewould be looking at the survey works, thebills of quantities and the cost involvedfor the contractor to implement the project.So, with the permission of the Minister, Ihave constituted a team to take a look atthe Report. Once the summary is ready and weidentify the cost estimate within thebudget, we shall award the contract forthe contractor to proceed to site.
HonMember, your last follow up if any.
Mr Speaker, I am again happyto hear that. I do not know if the officersat the Ministry have informed the HonDeputy Minister, but I believe that, almostevery Member of Parliament here would
Mr Speaker, before wecommence any electrification projects,survey works are conducted, we identifythe customer population and the housesto be connected. And after the award ofcontracts, we have consultants who followup to ensure that those communities areconnected. Mr Speaker, the major challenge wenormally have is that, houses aresupposed to be wired before they areconnected. And so, sometimes, when wecome to the completion of the projects,we just want to drop the cables andconnect the houses, but some houses areusually not ready in terms of getting wiredto be connected. And so, we would beworking with Hon Members of this Houseto help us with the sensitisation and toeducate the prospective customers so that they would wire their houses beforewe complete the connections. Mr Speaker, we also have what we callintensification. So, there is post-connection in some houses due todevelopments and expansions; we willcapture those houses and connect themaccordingly. We would be working withHon Members in that regard.
Very well. Hon Members, the next Questionstands in the name of the Hon Memberfor Sissala East. Bichemboi, Du, Bawisibele andKomo(Completion of electrificationproject) Q. 522. Hajia Alijata Sulemana askedthe Deputy Minister for Power when theelectrification projects in the followingcommunities would be completed: (i) Bichemboi (ii) Du (iii) Bawisibelle (iv) Komo.
Mr Speaker, Bawiasibelleand Komo communities form part of theongoing SHEP project being implementedby the Ministry. High Voltage (HV) worksare 25 per cent complete and this includes102 no. HV poles which have been plantedand strung. The remaining 366 no. HVpoles would be delivered to thecommunities to complete the outstandingHV works. Out of the 1044 no. Low Voltage (LV)poles required for the project, 924 no. LVpoles have been supplied, planted,dressed while stringing is ongoing. TheMinistry is in the process of releasing the remaining 120 no. LV poles for installation.It is expected that the works in thecommunities would be completed in thefourth quarter of 2016.
HonMember, any follow up question? Hajia Sulemana: Mr Speaker, yes. Mr Speaker, I would want to know whenthe remaining 366no of High-tensionVoltage (HV) poles would be delivered tothese communities?
Mr Speaker, we had somefew challenges with funding for ourtransporters. Fortunately, with thesupport from this House and through thelevy that was approved, we have beenable to pay the contractors this week.Once we have paid them, it means thatwe would have cleared the pipeline tobegin transporting more of those poles. We have taken delivery of the poles.They are at our main warehouse. Fromnext week, once we pay the transporters,we should begin evacuating the remainingpoles.
HonMember, your last follow up, if any. Hajia Sulemana: Mr Speaker, yes. TheHon Deputy Minister in his response saidthat stringing is ongoing, when we havea shortfall of both Low Voltage (LV) polesand HV poles. Can the Hon DeputyMinister tell this House exactly when theremaining shortfalls would be made up,Mr Speaker? Mr Speaker, will the shortfall not haveeffect on the ongoing works whilestringing is being done?
Mr Speaker, I am happyto inform the House that we have takenfurther delivery of additional conductors, so, we should be able to add them to thepoles by next week. So, we can startevacuating the poles to the project sites. Mr Speaker, I would want to assurethe Hon Member that, we shall adopt atwo-pronged approach and deliver thepoles and conductors concurrently.
Very well. Hon Members, the next Questionstands in the name of the Hon Memberfor Ablekuma North. Imported Pre-paid Meters(Cost and number) Q. 543. Mr Justice Joe Appiah askedthe Deputy Minister for Power how manypre-paid meters have been imported bythe Government and the total cost.
Mr Speaker, with yourpermission, I would want to put a caveat. Government strictly does not importpre-payment meters. Normally, we importpost-payment meters as part of the SHEPProjects that this House has approvedunder the Turn-key Projects. Strictly speaking, we do not import pre-payment meters, but we thought that weshould give you additional informationabout meters that ECG and NorthernElectrification Distribution Company(NEDCo) procures. That, Mr Speaker, with yourpermission once again, they do notimport the meters directly. We have five(5) local manufacturing companies, fromwhich they procure since 2012. Mr Speaker, with your permission, Iwould conclude by saying that theintroduction of pre-paid energy meterswas a means of enabling the utilities,
Mr Speaker, may Icrave your indulgence to read from theHon Deputy Minister's Answer? “The quantity of prepaid metersimported into Ghana from 2012 to2015 was 235,000 pieces at a cost ofUS$14,553,738.41 for the NEDCooperational areas and 764,135 piecesat a cost of U$84,723,351.00 for ECGoperational areas. “The total number therefore ofprepaid meters imported into thecountry and the associated cost forthe period under reference are999,135 pieces and US$99,277,089.43respectively.” Mr Speaker, may I ask the Hon DeputyMinister whether he is aware that7,000,000 meters are to be distributednationwide? So, why 999,135 meterss,which is not even up to 1,000,000 meters?
Hon DeputyMinister, do you follow his question?
Mr Speaker, with yourpermission, I did not get the last bit of hisquestion, so, he may be kind enough torepeat.
Mr Speaker, we need7,000,000 meters nationwide, but in hisAnswer, he has indicated 999,135 meters,which is not even up to 1,000,000 meters.I would want to find out why it is 999,135meters instead of 7,000,000 metersacross the whole country?
Mr Speaker, first of all, ithas to do with funding. We did a surveyand we determined that those were thequantities which were required. Moreover,we ought to spread it over a period of time.So, when funds become available, wewould assist them to procure. We arealready helping ECG with some fundingand we intend coming to this House toprocure additional pre-payment meters. Mr Speaker, I sought your kindpermission to indicate that the word“import” ought to be “procure”, becausewe have local manufacturing companieshere, where we procure from.
Mr Speaker, may Iknow from the Hon Deputy Minister whothe vendors who supply the equipmentto ECG are?
Mr Speaker, we have five(5) main manufacturing local companiesin Ghana. With your permission, I wouldlist them: MBH Power and Gas Limited, Alfa Power; Nory Metre; Electrometre; and IME. These are the main companies whichmanufacture and supply meters in thecountry.
Yes, HonMember, your last follow-up?
What is the source offunding and terms of payment?
Mr Speaker, the source offunding mainly comes from ECG's andNEDCo's revenues from their operationalareas. With the terms, it will depend on theprocurement, so, it would be quite difficultto give an omnibus term for all the variousprocurements that we undertake. If I maybe given the permission, I would furnishthe House with all the information inrespect of the terms.
Thankyou Mr Speaker, for your kindness. In the Hon Deputy Minister's Answer,he said that the Ministry does not engagein the importation of meters. May I findout from him whether it is a financial ortechnical challenge? Why is the Ministrynot doing it directly, but has to give it to aprivate entity to pursue?
Mr Speaker, I did indicatethat we do not procure pre-paymentmeters, not meters in general. I also statedfurther that we procure post-paymentmeters as part of SHEP Turn-key Projectswhich we bring to this House for approval. When we are doing SHEP Projects,especially, the turn-key projects underour rural electrification rogrammes, we doencompass supply of meters as part ofthe project, and this Honourable Housenormally gives us the approval. But whenit comes to the pre-payment meters, it isthe ECG, the utility company mandated toinstall that pre-payment meter, thatprocures them.
HonMembers, I thought this was constituencyspecific. I would allow the last twoquestions.
Thank you, MrSpeaker. I would want to ask the Hon DeputyMinister the type of procurement methodused in selecting these five companiesthat he listed, and whether the wholeprocurement process was competitiveenough for us to have got value formoney.
Mr Speaker, the ECG hasa procurement unit, so, they wouldnormally go through a competitiveprocurement process where companiessubmit bids, they are evaluated and themost favourable company is awarded thecontract. That is what we normally do.
Yes, HonDeputy Minority Leader?
MrSpeaker, my Hon Colleague, Joe Appiah,wanted to know from the Hon DeputyMinister the total number of pre-paid
meters that have been imported orprocured by the Government and the totalcost. He did not give a time frame. But theHon Deputy Minister in his Answer,started giving figures from 2012. May I know from him, whether he isimplying that before 2012, we did not havepre-paid meters in the system? If we did,how many were there?
Mr Speaker, I sought yourpermission and you were kind enough toallow me -- I stated that, in fact, theMinistry does not procure pre-paymentmeters at all. That normally would havebeen the Answer, but I went further toexplain about the other meters and alsogave the figure from 2012. That is whatwe have been able to do so far. Mr Speaker, if we did not do that, itmeans that we might go so many years inorder to establish the figure and then, weprobably might not have any informationfor you. So, we thought that it would beprudent to provide that information, butif the House directs that we go back to acertain period, Mr Speaker, we shallcomply. Thank you.
Very well.Thank you very much. Hon Members, this brings us to theend of Question time. Hon Deputy Minister for Power, wewould want to thank you for attendingupon this House to answer theseQuestions. You are discharged. Yes, Hon Majority Leader? [Inter-ruption]
Mr Speaker, we werewondering whether you have admittedsome Statements this morning. In theabsence of it, we can go to item --[Interruption.]
Very well. With regard to Statements, we aresorting a few things out. I do not know ifthe Hon Chairman of the Committee onEnvironment, Science and Technology isstill in a position to deliver the Statementthat he put before the Rt Hon Speaker. Iask this question because, the date ofthe event has passed, but if we still needto take the Statement, he should tell us.[Pause.]
Mr Speaker, the HonChairman of the Committee on Environ-ment, Science and Technology is not inthe House but my information is that, theHon Member of Parliament for Pru Easthas a Statement on the Yeji disaster.
Well, HonMembers, I will like to advise, generally,that, when you propose to make aStatement, you must pass it through theLeadership before it gets to the Rt HonSpeaker. This is the piece of advice I amgiving, because I do not see any suchprocess having been complied with. Butall the same, I would give in for theStatement to be made. Yes, Hon Member for Pru East, youhave the floor.
Mr Speaker, I want to register my gratitude to you for the opportunity tomake this Statement. Your kind permissionis most appreciated. Mr Speaker, on the 29th day of May,2016, a wooden outboard engine poweredboat traversing the Volta Lake from theGrubi area in the Krachi Nchumbru Districtof the Volta Region to Yeji in the PruDistrict of the Brong Ahafo Region sunkduring a storm upon hitting a tree stump. At least, twenty-one (21) Ghanaian (21)souls were lost during this tragedy. Mr Speaker, this is not the first timesuch a tragedy has occurred on the Voltaand it is indeed, the frequency of theseoccurrences that has compelled me, withyour kind permission, to make thisStatement to this august House. Mr Speaker, the Volta Lake and itstributaries present a major avenue to movepeople and goods in what ought to be themost cost effective method, yet, thetragedy of the Volta Lake as a transporthub is its total neglect by the GhanaianState. This development is reflected in itsunderdevelopment as a transport, leisureand tourism opportunity, poor legal andoperational regulation, low patronage,non-existent safety and securityinfrastructure and a general lack of careby institutions that ought to have legaland operational responsibility for themanagement and development of the VoltaLake as a transport mode. Over a million people live around theVolta Lake and for these people, theoutboard engine-fitted boat such as theone that capsised, is the primary mode oftransportation from one settlement toanother. On the Yeji market days ofSunday to Tuesday, approximately 50 to 100 of such boats descend on Yeji fromthe Eastern, Volta, Northern and BrongAhafo Regions. These boats carrybetween 50 and 150 passengers excludinglarge quantities of yam, fish, cattle, goats,et cetera. Mr Speaker, from the precedingparagraph, it is clear that the Volta Lakepresents a major opportunity for nationaldevelopment if adequately harnessed byGhanaians. It is a fact that water transportis the cheapest mode of moving bulk cargoand passengers over long distancesglobally. Sadly, we as a nation have notjust allowed this God-given resource toremain highly underutilised, but gone astep further to allow its non-developmentto become a concomitant to disaster,distress and wailing. Mr Speaker, what are the issuesundermining the development of the VoltaLake as a modern transport hub, and howdo we prevent a recurrence of the Yejidisaster? I would summarise them as: a. Outmoded legislation. The VoltaRiver Authority and its subsidiary,the Volta Lake Transport CompanyLtd. (VLTC) have consistentlycited the provisions of the VoltaRiver Development Act, 1961 (Act46) to insist that only the VLTC islegally authorised to commerciallytraverse the Volta Lake. Thisposition, if legally right, is anabsurdity in the free enterpriseenvironment of the Twenty FirstCentury b. The absence of clearly --demarcated navigational routesfor commercial operators on theVolta Lake c. Weak regulation and supervisionby Ghana Maritime Authorityand other statutory bodies
including the Ghana Navy,Marine Police, Municipal andDistrict Assemblies d. Prominence of tree stumps andother obstacles on navigationalroutes e. Seasonal low level of water onthe Volta Lake f. Disregard for safety and securityby stakeholders includingpassengers, boat operators andboat owners g. Absence of a national waterwaydevelopment policy and plans h. Poor design and construction ofboats i. Poorly trained human capital. Mr Speaker, the Volta Lake TransportCompany Ltd. has abysmally failed todevelop a modern business operation onthe Volta Lake and should be stripped ofany exclusivity, if water transportinfrastructure is to be developed on thelake and its tributaries such as the OtiRiver. Additionally, the ownership of thecompany must be directly placed with theMinistry of Transport rather than theVRA. The VRA must concentrate on its coremandate of affordable power generationfor the development of the country, andmust therefore, relinquish the ownershipof VLTC since it has proven beyond doubtthat it lacks both the financial and humancapital to own and manage a modernwater-based transportation entity. The State must, as a first step toattracting private sector investment, takeover ownership of VLTC and enhanceits operations. State Budgetary supportmust be made available in recapitalisingcompany in the form of new ferries,hovercrafts, water buses, barges,tugboats and other marine infrastructure. Mr Speaker, the reality on the VoltaLake is that, private commercial outboardengine-mounted wooden boats aredominant in carrying goods and personsand yet this anachronistic legal provisionof Act 46 is so often invoked by VRA tofrustrate other potential large investorswanting to invest in transportationinfrastructure on the lake. I humbly call for the amendment of therelevant sections of the law. Mr Speaker, we need to properly mapout navigational routes on the lake to takesteps to rid the mapped out routes of alltrees and tree stumps to forestall therecurrence of such calamities. Whereastrees provide breeding enablement forvarious fish species, it is imperative thatthe routes are freed of such trees. Thetrees have great commercial value andtheir removal would not burden thenational treasury but rather add to it. Mr Speaker, if we are to bring to an endthe regular visitation of calamities on ourriverine people, then the Ghana MaritimeAuthority, as the primary regulatory bodymust sit up. Their presence on the lake ismore noticeable by their absence. The Marine Police Unit of the GhanaPolice Service supported by the GhanaNavy should be deployed in full force topolice and enforce the rules andregulations that the regulatory body mustput in place. These rules must include third partyinsurance for all boats on the lake,standards for boat building, limitation onpassenger numbers on each boat, test andlicensing of boat operators, certificationof boat builders, compulsory wearing of life jackets on the lake at all times, policeand naval snap checks, continuousmonitoring by Ghana Maritime Authorityassisted by Municipal and DistrictAssemblies and the passage ofappropriate Regulations by this augustHouse as well as by-laws by Municipaland District Assemblies. Mr Speaker, I call on the Ministry ofTransport to come out with a nationalpolicy on waterways and a specific planfor the development of water transport onthe Volta Lake. The Policy must guideactivities on the lake and ensure that thismassive natural asset is utilised to thebenefit of Ghanaians and the Ghanaianeconomy. Mr Speaker, if the above statedmeasures are taken, the deaths of theover twenty one people who lost their liveson 29th May would not have been in vain.This is a wake-up call. We cannot affordto lose our human capital in suchavoidable and reckless dissipation. To the bereaved families, I say yourgrief is our grief and we shall not rest untiltravel on the Volta Lake becomes safe forus and our children's children. To the departed, I say damirifa due,Mndi nene and may your souls rest inperfect peace. Thank you, Mr Speaker, for theopportunity to make this Statement.
HonMembers, I will take two comments fromeither side of the isle, then I would cometo the Leadership. Hon Member for Takoradi?
Mr Speaker, on the decentralisationside, on each of the banks of the Lakethat people traverse, there are bookmen.What do they do? How do they ensurethat passengers put on their safetyjackets? To what extent do we ensure thatthese people get punished for notensuring that people put on their safetyvests? We were told in the Media that,people are complaining that when they puton the vests, they feel hot, therefore,they cannot put them on. Mr Speaker,feeling hot for one hour to cross the lake,and death; which one them do we prefer? Mr Speaker, as we all know,enforcement is a major difficulty in thiscountry. I believe that, the responsibilityof the bookmen should also includeensuring that people without vests do notget on board those boats. This isbecause, accidents can always occur. Mr Speaker, we are also told that,sometime ago, there was a Canadiancompany, Clark Sustainable ResourceDevelopment Limited, that was on theVolta Lake trying to remove the treestumps. Unfortunately, that contract hasbeen stalled. Mr Speaker, I believe that, in trying totalk about prevention, removal of treestumps is also very important. Whoeveris responsible for restoring that contractshould ensure it is done, so that thesetree stumps would be removed from thelakes, so that navigating and piloting onthe lakes would be safer than we sawbefore. Mr Speaker, with these few words, Iwould like to support the Hon Memberfor Pru, for such a beautiful Statement. I believe that we should give consequentialdirectives, so that going forward, beforethe laws come back for amendment, theLake would be safer. Mr Speaker, thank you for theopportunity to add my voice.
Mr Speaker, let me thankthe Hon Member who made this Statementfor making a brilliant observation on whatis happening in terms of transportationon the Volta Lake. Mr Speaker, it is not surprising the HonMember who made the Statement is theHon Member for Pru East; Yeji, where onecrosses the Volta Lake into the NorthernRegion. Makango is where most of theseincidents have happened. Mr Speaker, for the past three weeks,we have registered accidents, which havecaused the loss of more than 50 lives. Mr Speaker, with one of them, I waspersonally at Yeji when they tried tryingto use a fly boat to cross Yeji fromMakango. Just about 100 yards to Yeji,the boat capsized, and out of the 15people, six people died instantly. That dayI was there. We had to take the deadbodies to the mortuary of the Yeji Clinicand get them buried the next day. Mr Speaker, about three days ago, Iwas in Khartoum, Sudan, when I heardthat there was another accident wherealmost 15 people died on a lake. Mr Speaker, the cause of these recentaccidents is that, the ferry is not working.This is because, the water level is so low,so the ferry cannot leave Yeji toMakango. Most of the people have torely on outboard motor boats to cross when there is no alternative. Some of themhave to use canoes. As I speak, if one is coming from theeastern corridor, which is Salaga,Makango, Bimibilla, et cetera, and onewants to go to Yeji with some things, butdoes not want to use the outboard motorboats, it means that one would have totravel to Tamale, through Kintampo, comeall the way to Prang and then to Yeji. Onthe other hand, if one is also from Yejiand wants to go to Salaga and one doesnot want to use the outboard motor boats,it means that one has to travel all the wayto Kumasi, Kintampo and Tamale. Mr Speaker, we can see the agony ofthese people. Crossing seven miles fromYeji to Makango is a big problem for all ofus. The reason is that, the ferry cannotmove round this time because of the levelof the water. Even if a new ferry isbrought, because the level of the water isso low -- what we need to do is to dredgethe river. Mr Speaker, I have personally seen theHon Minister for Transport about thisand he said they do not have enoughfunds to do the dredging. The alternativeis for Government to provide its ownoutboard motor boats. As I speak, thathas been done. Mr Speaker, gone were the days whenthe Akosombo Dam was constructed. TheYeji road which is from Kumasi to AsanteMampong to Ejura-Yeji, was the busiestroad, which was the central corridor atthat time, the Techiman road had not yetbeen constructed. Immediately, the Techiman road wasconstructed, we were neglected. Thismeans people found it easy to passthrough Kumasi-Offinso-Techiman-Tamale to the north, than pass through Asante Mampong-Ejura-Yeji which is along distance. This has made the wholearea to be neglected and this is about thethird Statement we have made on thisfloor of Parliament. Mr Speaker, the solution to this is toconstruct a bridge across the Volta Lake,that is, between Yeji and Makango whichwill at least solve this major problem. Iquite remember the last Statement we hadhere, one of our Hon Colleagues on theother side of the House supported theidea of the Government looking forresources to construct this bridge. Just about a month ago, I heard thePresident travelled to Japan, and hassecured funding which will enable a bridgeto be constructed along the Volta Lake. Ihope that bridge will be constructedbetween Yeji and Makango to help solvethis problem. The second is about the tree stumps.Now that the water level is so low, thetrees stumps have all come out so whenan outboard motor boat -- especially,those who travel at night, may not be ableto see those trees. One of the dangers ofthe outboard motor boats is for it totraverse the trees during the stormswhich can immediately divide it into two. So, what I would suggest is that, eitherthe Ministry of Transport comes in andgets appropriate outboard motor boats --There is one made of the fibre whichcannot easily split into two, or we look atanother means of getting transportbetween Yeji and Makango in the northernsector otherwise the cost -- I am the Hon Member of Parliament forEast Gonja. Right now, if I want toconvey goods from Makango -- part ofmy constituency is in the southern partof the river and the only way to access itis through Brong Ahafo Region. In other
words, through Pru or Kintampo. Thismeans, I have to travel all the way toKumasi to Yeji and then go to myconstituency, where I can easily take aferry. So, I support the Hon Member whomade the Statement that Governmentshould look into it and find a permanentsolution so that, at least, our people willhave the easiest, shortest and mosteconomical means of transportationbetween Yeji and Makango. Secondly, I want to take thisopportunity to sympathise with thefamilies who have lost their dear ones inthis accident. Thank you Mr Speaker, for thisopportunity.
Thank youvery much. Yes, Hon Member?
Thank you, MrSpeaker, for the opportunity. Mr Speaker, first, I corroborate manyof the issues that the maker of theStatement had touched on. Things thathad to do with the absence of safetymeasures, then, certain lackadaisicalattitude from the managers of thewaterbodies. Mr Speaker, I am reliably informed that,ever since the accident occurred, thesector Minister had visited the site, thatis good enough, but I guess we need togo beyond that. The visitation is goodand that is becoming a trend in thiscountry. Mr Speaker, when accidents occur, wequickly see Government officials and leadership of State institutions hurriedlymoving in to put across words ofcondolence to the affected families. Thatis good enough, but I dare say that, thisaccident, from a lay man's point of view, Iam not a technical person and from thereports we have heard, this accident couldhave been avoided. Mr Speaker, I am also reliably informedthat, that contract to remove the treestumps from the river body was startedby the previous administration. Mr Speaker, as we always say,governance is a continuous process andI do not know what caused thecancellation of that contract but I am surethat, if those tree stumps had beenremoved from the waterbody, largely, wewould not have been in this House todaylamenting about the death of souls. Mr Speaker, the Volta River Authority(VRA) must be brought in wake, the Honsector Minister; the Ministries of Powerand Transport, all of them need to comeand tell this august House something. Isay so because, the relevant Ministriesthat are concerned about the managementof this particular waterbody cannot tellus that they were not aware that, all thecompromised situations in terms ofsafety measures that have existed in thatwaterbody -- Mr Speaker, I am speaking with a lot ofpassion because I have plied thatwaterbody before, and if you see howpeople compromise on safety measureswith impunity, you tend to wonder ifindeed, we have sector Ministers whohave been given that mandate to managethat waterbody and today, dear lives arelost and we come here and lament. When are we going to stop lamentingover avoidable accidents? Then, all of asudden, leadership comes, and we give our condolence statement to the affectedfamilies. We have had enough of that. We wantto see some action in this country, and Iam calling on the Hon Minister ofTransport, and I am happy he is in theHouse today, the VRA leadership andpeople mandated to manage ourwaterbodies, should come out with a planof action. Mr Speaker, this is because not too farfrom Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa and ajurisdiction even close by, one holds themin deep admiration because of the waythey manage their waterbodies.What arewe doing to our country? What is the plan of the Ministry forthe management of activities on thatwaterbody? We are tired of always comingto this House to lament on deaths andaccidents that are avoidable and we havehad enough of that.
HonMember, that point has been maderepeatedly. Can you wind-up?
Mr Speaker, I amonly emphasising that every soul isimportant and we do not want to loselives through avoidable accidents. TheHon Minister should be up and doing, forParliament to render the necessary neededsupport. Mr Speaker, with these few words, Ithank you for your kindness.
Mr Speaker, thank youfor giving me the opportunity to comment on the Statement made by the HonColleague from the Pru East constituency. Mr Speaker, I lost some family membersin the recent boat disaster in Yeji, and Iwant to put the situation in perspectivethat, when we talk about travelling alongthe Volta Lake, it is not the situation thatsome Hon Members are perceiving. FromAkosombo through Kpando-Torkor toAbotiase to Dzemeni, Agordeke to theSene District and along those areas, arevarious dotted communities along theVolta Lake. It is not a situation that one can have adefined route among these communitiesalong the Volta Lake. So, invariably, thetree stump picking, which the HonColleague talked about that a Canadiancompany was contracted to do. MrSpeaker, that contract is still in place andit is not that the contract has beenterminated. Hon Colleagues can go to theMinistry and check, the contract is still inplace. Mr Speaker, however, the situation interms of transportation along the VoltaLake would have to be reviewed, perhapsmore than the scope that we are talkingabout here. This is because, as of now,using the small boats, is the only meansof transportation that can makemovements along the communities therepossible. Therefore, I would want to proposethat, instead of the wooden boats, thereare fibre boats that the Ministry ofTransport could look at, by way ofbringing those fibre boats and helping tosubsidise them for use by these privateboat owners who are now using thewooden boats. Mr Speaker, these operators of thewooden outboard motor boats are alsounder unions in the various communitiesalong the lake. There is the need to step
Thank youvery much. Hon Members, we have now come tothe Leadership; one each and fortunatelyfor us the Hon Minister for Transport ishere, so we would also give him theopportunity to make a comment.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. I would want to thank the Hon Memberwho made the Statement for drawing theattention of this nation to the menace ofboat disasters on the Volta Lake and moreespecially, with reference to the recentoccurrence at Yeji in his constituency. Mr Speaker, what happened last weekis not the first of such occurrence. Indeed,it has been occurring over the period andsometimes the casualties involved areeven more than the 20 that was recordedlast week. There are many reasons thatone can assign to the tragic events whichoccur on the Lake. Mr Speaker, I recall that last year, theHon Member for Salaga South made aStatement on the floor of this House, andin that Statement, his main point wascalling the attention of the Hon Ministerfor Transport to rehabilitate the ferry thattransports people between Yeji and Salaga.It had broken down for some time, andbecause of that the only resort that peoplehad to travel between the two major townswas by the use of hand-dug boats. I am aware that the ferry has beenrepaired, but even that, it is not everydaythat it works, because it frequentlybreaks down and when it does, the onlyalternative means of transport which isavailable to the people is to resort tothese hand-dug canoes for crossing. Mr Speaker, Yeji is a major marketingcentre within the Brong Ahafo Region,and just across the Lake on the other sideis Salaga, which is equally a majormarketing centre in the north. So,travelling between these two communitiesis something which is very regular andfrequent, but because of the size of thelake, there is no way vehicles can cross,and the only means of crossing is eitherby ferry or by the use of boats. So, anytime the ferry breaks down, thepeople have no other alternative than touse the hand-dug canoes. I recall that in2007, a major accident occurred on thislake, and as a result, a detachment of thethe Ghana Navy was positioned at Yeji towork hand-in-hand with the operators tofirst ensure that, any boat or ferry thattakes off has the necessary complementof things that are supposed to be onboard, especially, life jackets. They were also to make sure that theoperators do not overload the canoes. Butwe often hear that most of these accidentsoccur because of overloading; not of onlyhuman beings but of cargo and sometimeseven cattle are transported on some ofthese canoes. Mr Speaker, there is theneed for strict adherence to the operationalrules by the operators. The Navy Officers are to be assistedby the local authorities to make sure thatthe rules are adhered to. Sometimes, whenthe Navy officers insist on the right thingsto be done, they are seen as frustratingthe operators for not making thenecessary monies that they are supposedto make. Mr Speaker, it is a fact that even if abridge is constructed over the lake, wewould still need the services of boats,because some of the communities are dotted along the banks of the lake andthe only means of accessing them is byusing the boats. What we need to do, aswas recommended by the Hon Memberwho just spoke, is to make sure that, atleast, we give them improved boats; boatswhich would be resistant to these frequentbreakdowns as a result of an encounterwith stumps or any major obstacle in thelake. The other thing that we would have todo is to make sure that the operatorsoperate under strict rules by avoidingoverloading and also making sure that, atleast, boats which operate on the lake areworthy enough to be used for suchpurposes. Mr Speaker, the human element in thesefrequent accidents is quite high and ifpeople are disciplined and go strictly bythe operational rules, I would want tobelieve that most of these accidents couldbe prevented. I also want to reiterate the point I made,when the Hon Member for Salaga Southmade his Statement last year, that even inthe long run, we should also explore thepossibility of building a bridge across theVolta Lake. It is done in some other places and itcan be done, and I would want to believethat the cost would be quite big but thegains that we would get by constructingthe bridge would be enormous. So, in thenear future we should look at thepossibility of having a permanentcrossing system on the lake so that peoplecan move freely from the south to thenorth. Indeed, if we want to look at theshortest distance from the south to thenorth, especially from Kumasi to Tamale,it is through Yeji and Salaga. That is theshortest distance. Mr Speaker, butbecause of the absence of a bridge, onewould have to make a detour through
Techiman and Kintampo before one wouldreach Tamale. Why would we not do thisas a national project and make sure thatwe get the benefit of that. Mr Speaker, I submit. Thank you.
Thank youvery much.
Mr Speaker, I would say a lot. Thank you very much for giving methe opportunity to make a few commentson the Statement. To begin with, comingfrom the Brong Ahafo Region, where theincident happened, I would join the HonMember of Parliament, Hon Dr KwabenaDonkor, to share our heartfelt and deepcondolences with the families of thosewho were affected. Mr Speaker, I have heard enough thismorning, and as a country, we seem to becommitting certain mistakes and I was notsurprised when Hon Annoh-Domprehasked why we keep lamenting onavoidable accidents. Mr Speaker, in 2006 and to be precise,on 28th July, 2006, this House approved aloan. And that was an Agreement betweenthe Republic of Ghana (GoG), the VoltaRiver Authority (VRA) and ClarkSustainable Resources DevelopmentLimited (CSRD) for harvesting, processingand marketing timber from the Volta Lakein the phase 1 of the project. Was the VRAable to harvest these timber and treestumps from the river when the loan wasapproved? Mr Speaker, to continue, on 30thNovember, 2010, was the second phase; an Agreement between GoG, VRA andCSRD for harvesting, processing andmarketing of timber from the Volta Lakephase II. What has happened after thephase 1 and II? Was the VRA able toharvest the timber from the Volta Lake?Even if they were harvested and havegrown again, for which reason theseaccidents keep on happening -- I heardsome comments like a bridge is going tobe constructed. Mr Speaker, we have three main typesof transportation in Ghana; transportationby air, road and water. In my opinion, thebest decision was the one taken to harvestthe timber from the Lake to enhance watertransportation. That is some people'ssource of livelihood. I believe the Committee on Mines andEnergy and the Committee on Lands andForestry, including the Committee onTransport, which has oversight respon-sibility on the transportation sector,should go in to see the aftermath of theapproval of the loans in this House,whether the tree stumps are still there orthey have been harvested. This is whatshould be done. Besides, I think the Akosombo Damwas constructed in the 1960s when wewere not born.
Say, whensome of us were not born.
Mr Speaker, when someof us were not born. [Interruptions] MrSpeaker, when I was not born, includingsome of my friends like the Hon Nitiwul --[Laugh] If in the 1960s, as a country, wewere not able to cut some of the treestumps before the inauguration andbecause of that these trees stumps havebeen there in 2006 and 2007 -- In the year2006, just when we approved a loan forthe harvesting of stumps in the Akosombo Dam, we also approved a loan for theconstruction of the Bui Dam. Mr Speaker, go to the Bui Dam andsee. The trees were not cut before theriver's closure. Only a few were cut.Therefore, if you go there, you would seethat most of the trees are still there. So if we are constructing a bridge onthe Volta Lake, what should we be doingon the Bui Lake, where the Lake is like asea. A bridge cannot be constructedanywhere. People would continue to beusing the river as a means of transporta-tion. Mr Speaker, what are we doing as acountry? With these few words, I wouldwant to say emphatically that, theCommittees that have oversight responsi-bility on transportation should go downto the bottom of the issue and theaftermath of the loans that were approvedin 2006 and in 2010. After that, theCommittees should bring theirrecommendations. An Hon Member commented that weshould subsidise the cost of life jackets. Isurely know that some of those life jacketsare given freely.
HonMember, begin to conclude.
But Mr Speaker, thosewho embark on river transportation wouldnot put on the life jackets even if they aredonated freely. In my opinion, we shouldbe checking, just as the police check theoverloading of vehicles. With regard tothose who embark on river transportation,there must be a means to check thoseoutboard motor boats and others toensure that they are not overloaded. Mr Speaker, with these few words, Ibring my comments to an end.
HonMembers, we have the privilege of the HonMinister for Transport with us and wewould like to hear from him.
Thank you very much,Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to make afew comments on this very importantStatement, made by the Hon Dr KwabenaDonkor, who is the Member of Parliamentfor Pru East. Let me also join Hon Colleagues toexpress our profound condolence to thebereaved families and to wish those whoare hospitalised a speedy recovery. Alsoand to add our condolences to theconstituency and the district as a whole. Mr Speaker, in my opinion, the issueshave been discussed broadly. As theMinister in charge of the sector, I wish toacknowledge that a lot of the commentsthat have been made are in a gooddirection, and we take a quick note of them. A few of them, however, needed to beclarified. One of them has to do with thedistribution of life vests. We need to setthe record straight and to explain that theGhana Maritime Authority actuallydistributes these life vests freely. Theyare not even subsidised; they are freelydistributed. It is an issue which is clearly known toboth the Hon Member for the consti-tuency involved and many othercommunities that often -- the whole thinghas to do with attitude, the same difficultywe have on our roads where people knowwhat they have to do but the level ofindiscipline sometimes makes people dothe wrong thing.
Therefore, together, we need to findsolutions as to how to resolve issuesrelating to attitudes along many of thesecommunities. I have taken notice of some of the otherconcerns, for example, the clearing of thewaterways. This is an area we would wantto work assiduously to ensure that a lotof the waterways are cleared, so that wewould not have any accident that willoccur as a result of not demarcating thesewaterways clearly. I also would want to indicate that theVolta Lake Transport Company Limited,despite the challenges that the companyfaces, it is one company that holds somebright prospects. I do not particularlybelieve that, we need to necessarilychange the company as it is. We believethere are challenges that we could,together help to resolve in order to allowthe company to work even better thanthey are doing at the moment. I have spoken to the Ghana MaritimeAuthority, and I was given the assurancethat one of the quickest things theywould want to do at the moment is toensure that we have in place what is calledMarine Patrol Unit that would operatealmost like the way the Police operates onour roads, to ensure that discipline is kept. There is going to be some commitmentto ensure that we have some of thesepatrols operating along a lot of these waterbodies. That would ensure that people dowhat is right because of their presence. Mr Speaker, without going into toomany more details, let me just say that weshould thank the Hon Member for theStatement. I wish to acknowledge someother contributions that are coming fromother Members on the Floor. The Ministrywould take all these into consideration aswe work towards finding even much morelasting solutions to the issues.
Thank youvery much.
Mr Speaker, I take note ofyour earlier directive, but just to try andcall on our two Committees; the Committeeon Mines and Energy and the Committeeon Lands and Forestry to take up thismatter and report back to the House. Mr Speaker, this is because theAgreement that was approved by thisHouse in the year 2006 was between GoG,VRA and CSRD. That Agreement was forthem to harvest, process and market thetimber found in the Lake. That was in theyear 2006. Now, in the year 2010, they came backto this House for a second phase underthe same Agreement. And this Houseagain approved the second phase. So, the Committees should probe tosee what happened. Did they actuallyharvest the wood; process; and marketthe wood? They should let us know sothat we do not continue to harvest theseproblems from time to time; just makingstatements and nothing is being done onthe ground -- [Interruption.] I am asking if they actually executedthe Agreement. That is what we want acomprehensive Report on, that wouldguide this House as to the next step totake. Thank you very much, Mr Speaker.
Thank youvery much, Hon Majority Leader. This brings us to the end of Statements,but I want to direct that, as suggested bythe Majority Leader, these two Committeesrevisit this issue and come with acomprehensive Report to this House forus to take immediate steps to remedy thesituation.
HonMembers, may the souls of the departedrest in peace and rise in glory. Amen.
Mr Speaker, with your kindpermission, could we take item numbered5 on the Order Paper, which is onPresentation of Papers?
Very well. At the Commencement of PublicBusiness, Presentation of Papers by theChairman of the Committee.
Yes, HonMajority Leader?
Mr Speaker, item 6 (a),Presentation and First Reading of Bills.
HonMembers, item numbered 6(a) on the OrderPaper by the Hon Minister forEnvironment, Science, Technology andInnovation.
Mr Speaker, the Hazardousand Electronic Waste Control andManage-ment Bill was first laid in thisHouse on the 11th of March, 2016 andappropriately referred to the Committee onEnvironment, Science and Technology. They worked on it and due to certaindiscussions that took place, there was theneed to re-do the entire Bill. So, I wouldwant to seek your leave to withdraw theone that was laid before this House.
Very well. Hon Minister, you are withdrawing thatwhich was laid earlier. I have granted youleave. The withdrawal means that eventhe referral to the Committee is alsowithdrawn. Now, you can re-lay what you have. [Pause.] I have directive that the Bill which waslaid by you earlier has been withdrawnand the referral to the Committee has alsobeen withdrawn accordingly. So, the flooris open, do you intend to re-lay it?
That is so, Mr Speaker.
BILLS -- FIRST READING
HonMembers, we have item numbered 6 (b),the Technical Universities Bill, 2016 on theOrder Paper.
Mr Speaker, with your kindpermission and the indulgence of my HonColleagues, the Deputy Minister forEducation, our own Colleague, HonSamuel Ablakwa would lay the Bill for andon behalf of the Hon Minister forEducation.
Hon DeputyMinority Leader, any objection?
No, Mr Speaker.
Very well. Hon Deputy Minister for Education? Technical Universities Bill, 2016 An Act to provide for theestablishment of TechnicalUniversities to provide for theconversion of polytechnics totechnical universities and toprovide for related matters. Presented by the Deputy Minister forEducation (Mr Samuel OkudzetoAblakwa) (on behalf of the Minister forEducation). Read the First time; referredto the Committee on Education.
Mr Speaker, I am reliablyinformed that item numbered 7 is leftwith the Question to be put, but I had abrief also from Hon Members from bothSides of the House that some veryimportant issues were raised in the courseof the debate. Mr Speaker, I would want to reiteratethat the issues should not be swept underthe carpet and that the Ghana NationalPetroleum Corporation (GNPC) should dowell to respond in writing to this House on those issues. Issues dealing with theconstruction of their Head Office and theguarantee of the Karpower are verycritical that they should respond to. Mr Speaker, it is not yet too late in theday. This is because I have credibleinformation that the Hon Minister forFinance would come back to this Housewith a Supplementary Budget and theGNPC should take the opportunity andmake sure that it is captured in thisSupplementary Budget. I am informed thatthere is a financial element that was notapproved by the House which is coveredin this whole Report. Mr Speaker, I think that they wouldhave to rectify it by submitting that to theSupplementary Budget for scrutiny andapproval if need be by this House. Mr Speaker, I have also been told byLeadership on both Sides of the Housethat, this is a matter they take seriously,and I believe that GNPC, to repeat whatsome of my Hon Colleagues, said, for onceshould listen to good counsel fromParliament and do the right thing. Mr Speaker, I would like to plead withyou to also add your voice to this call, sothat, we could even give them time torespond to the concerns raised by theHouse. Mr Speaker, apart from that, I think it isthe general understanding that we couldtake the Question now. The Questioncould be put.
Can I hearfrom Leadership of the other side so thatwe know that we are on the same page?
Mr Speaker, those whowere in the meeting briefed me. He isright about some of the things he said,but there were some two issues that were added. It is right that the Hon MinorityLeader has also just walked in. One was whether there should be anaudit. The second one had to do withtimelines, because if we give directions,after the Question has been put -- thatis what we have agreed on, that weshould give some directions on certainsteps that have been taken, but whathappens? It must go with timelines. When would GNPC bring this, whenwould GNPC do that? When would thisbe done? And like he said, for once theymust listen, but how would they listenwhen we have not given them enoughtimelines? So, I believe that, we must come to anagreement. [Interruption.] So I woulddefer to the Chief Whip on the MinoritySide, because he was also in the meeting,to give us the timelines. Then we couldput the Question.
Mr Speaker, before theHon Minority Chief Whip sayssomething, the Hon Majority Leader madea statement which I believe may be best,that we do not make the linkage. He mentioned a Supplementary budgetwith respect to the issue. I think that itshould be decoupled. The SupplementaryBudget, even if it is coming, is not knownto this House. It would be best that we donot take decisions assuming that theSupplementary Budget -- So ifLeadership has agreed on the way forward,I do not have a problem, but if we make itcontingent on the Supplementary Budget,it is pre-supposing that we would pass it,and that would create difficulties. I do not have any difficulties withwhatever arrangements that have beenagreed upon, but the issue ofSupplementary Budget should not evencome in here at all.
Very well.Hon Members, do I understand or do Itake it that a consensus was arrived atand that some direction should be given? I would prefer, for the avoidance ofdoubt, that we put it on paper, for mybenefit or for the benefit of whoever wouldbe chairing at the time that the issue comesup again, so that we do not have anydoubts in our minds. I remember that theRt Hon Speaker directed that he wouldget his draftspersons or his advisors toput something down on paper for him tolook at, so, it would be in our bestinterest if we could do something like thatfor both Sides of the House and then theClerks-at-the-Table.
Mr Speaker, we are guidedby your wise counsel. It would be putdown on paper as a consensual positionand then that would guide the Speaker togive the right directives. I think we could proceed to otherBusiness while this is being done.
Very well.Thank you very much. Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker,I caught the tail of your own proposal andI think that is the right way to go. The reason is that, I heard some wordsbeing bandied about in the Chamber andI thought if we had agreed behind thecurtain, it would not even have beennecessary to use those terminologies,because of what was suggested to us bythe Management of GNPC, which is why Ithought that we should have had furtherconsultations before the Sitting today.Unfortunately, I travelled out of Accra andI have just landed back in Accra.
Please, donot leave out the Leadership of theCommittee and the Hon Minister forPetroleum.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. The Hon Minority Leader has givenus additional information. This is notsomething that was known to theLeadership of the Majority, this latestconsultation that took place. He has justindicated to us that after the generalmeeting, they held further discussion withthe Hon Minister and the officials of GNPCwith the Hon Second Deputy Speaker. Mr Speaker, we would go by what hesaid because your directive would takecare of the issue that he has raised, butthis time, we would all sit together, draftthe proposed Agreement and that wouldguide the directives of the Speaker. So, there is no problem in that. We areall looking for the right thing to be doneand I think that would be in the nationalinterest. We would proceed to other mattersand let that be done later on. From there,we could take the decision.
Very well,thank you very much.
Mr Speaker, if we couldtake item numbered 13 on the OrderPaper. I drew the attention of the Clerks-at-the-Table to the differences betweenthe words and the figures.
HonMembers, item numbered 13 on the OrderPaper, Motion by the Chairman of theFinance Committee.
Mr Speaker, I begto move, that this Honourable Houseadopts the Report of the FinanceCommittee on the Request for TaxConcessions in respect of Value AddedTax, National Health Insurance Levy,Customs Duties, Corporate andWithholding Taxes and other applicabletaxes amounting to eight hundred andthirty-two million United States dollars(US$832,000,000.00) in respect of the TemaPort Expansion Project, Development ofContainer Terminal and Port Access Roadby the Meridian Port Services Limited. Mr Speaker, in so doing, I present yourCommittee's Report
HonChairman, I believe that you want to seekleave to amend the words as they appearon the Order Paper.
Mr Speaker, I am amendingthe Motion that the amount in words iscorrect but the amount in figures do notmatch with the latter so I am correctingthe figures to match that of the words. Thank you.
Very well. Leave granted.
Mr Speaker, Introduction The Request for Tax Concession inRespect of Value Added Tax, NationalHealth Insurance Levy, Customs Duties,Corporate and Withholding Taxes andOther Applicable Taxes amounting to ninehundred and eighty-two million UnitedStates dollars (US$982,000,000.00) inrespect of the Tema Port ExpansionProject, Development of ContainerTerminal and Port Access Road by theMeridian Port Services Limited waspresented to Parliament by the HonDeputy Minister for Finance, Mr CassielAto Baah Forson on behalf of the HonMinister for Finance on Friday, 18thMarch, 2016 in accordance with article 174(2) of the 1992 Constitution. Mr Speaker referred the request to theFinance Committee for consideration andreport in accordance with Order 169 of theStanding Orders of the Parliament ofGhana. Deliberations The Committee met and considered therequest with the assistance of the HonDeputy Minister for Finance, Mrs MonaK. Quartey and officials from the Ministryof Finance, Ministry of Transport and The Committee is grateful to the HonDeputy Minister for Finance and officialsfor assisting the Committee in itsdeliberations. Reference The Committee referred to thefollowing additional documents at itsdeliberations: i. The 1992 Constitution of Ghana; ii. The Standing Orders of theParliament of Ghana; iii. Deed of Amendment No. 1 to theConcession Agreement betweenthe Ghana Ports and HarbourAuthority (the Grantor) andMeridian Port Services (TheConcessionaire) for theFinancing, Design, Construction,Equipping and Operate a newContainer Terminal at Tema Port. Background The Tema Port, which was developedin phases since 1964, had attained itsmaximum operational capacity. Evidenceavailable indicates that by 2008, the Porthad exceeded its 500,000 Twenty FootEquivalent Unit (TEUs) target expected for2010 despite the successful interventionof Meridian Port Services (MPS) between2004 and 2008. Cargo traffic at the Port had grownsteadily from 9.25 million metric tonnes in2010 to 15.87 million metric tonnes in 2014,a growth of about 71.5 per cent over thefive years period. Within the same period,container through put increased from643,189 to 793,737 TEU representing anannual growth rate of 4.5 per cent. Tradevolumes associated with expansion in
But the Committee observed during itsdeliberations that the estimates for thecorporate income tax includes estimatesfor the pre-operational (construction)period (2016-2020) where corporateincome tax is not expected to be paid.Therefore, using the reduction inconcession period for corporate tax, theamount to be exempted for corporate taxreduced from US$554 to US$404. This will bring down the total estimatedconcession amount from US$982 millionto US$832. The estimated tax concessionbased on the new computation is attachedas Appendix A. The above figure includes the NFSLwhich is to be taken off in 2017 and shallnot be applicable to MPS if the Statedoes not reinstitute. The value is therefore,likely to be lower than what has beenestimated. The Committee accordingly proposesa total estimate of approximately US$832million over the 3 5-year concessionperiod with an expected direct revenueinflows also estimated to be approximatelyUS$5,715 million for the same period. Economic benefits of the project The Committee noted that, theimplementation of the Tema PortExpansion Project presents enormoussocioeconomic benefits to the country.There will be direct foreign investment leading to the creation of an ultramodern“state-of-the-art” port facility valued atminimum US$1.5 billion. The facility will increase Tema Portthroughout capacity to adequately handlethe country's trade growth and extendservices to Ghana's neighbouringlandlocked countries. The project will alsoconnect Ghana to the global market andfacilitate trade enabling Ghanaianbusinesses to cost-effectively compete forbusiness. Conclusion and Recommendation The Committee having carefullyexamined the referral recommends to theHouse to adopt its Report and approveby Resolution The Request for Tax Concession inRespect of Value Added Tax, NationalHealth Insurance Levy, Customs Duties,Corporate and Withholding Taxes andOther Applicable Taxes not exceedingeight hundred and thirty-two millionUnited States dollars (US$832,000,000.00)in respect of the Tema Port ExpansionProject, Development of ContainerTerminal and Port Access Road by theMeridian Port Services Limited inaccordance with article 174 (2) of the 1992Constitution and Order 169 of theStanding Orders of the Parliament ofGhana. Respectfully submitted. SPACE FOR APPENDIX ‘A' -PAGE 10 - 11.45 A.M.
Mr Speaker, I need to beguided by Leadership on the basis onwhat I know this morning. My understanding was that Leader-ship directed the Ghana Ports andHarbours Authority (GPHA) to meet theCommittee on Roads and Transport. Theywere supposed to give Leadership aReport, which I had a copy. I do not knowif Leadership has copies or not, but myunderstanding from the Hon RankingMember on this Side and the Chairman isthat, Leadership has accepted the Reporton which basis I could now second.Since I have to accept the wisdom of myLeadership, I believe that is the situation. On the basis of that, I would secondthe Motion. I would defer my commentsto the Hon Mark-Assibey who wouldcontinue the debate if that is acceptableto the House.
HonMembers, I thought that some consensushad been arrived at, on the basis of whichwe are virtually re-visiting this particularMotion. Papa Owusu-Ankomah-- rose --
HonMember for Sekondi?
Mr Speaker,with all these extra statements made, thefact is that, the Hon Ranking Member hadseconded the Motion and made certaincomments. That is all. I do not know whyhe is going through this tortuous process.
Very well. Question proposed.
Mr Speaker, I call this theMeridian Port Services (MPS) give aways.There is no sovereign guarantee fromGovernment for this project. Clearly,Government bears no liability. This ispurely a private business, beingundertaken by MPS. They are involved inthis project because it is viable andattractive too. As a matter of fact, afterthe project, this port is going to be themost advanced port in the sub-SaharanAfrican Region, so why these taxexemptions? Mr Speaker, I submit that, somebodygot stuck with MPS and whatever theyrequested, he gave it to them. As a matterof fact, the memorandum from thePresidency, once again, by Executiveapproval, asked Parliament to approve taxconcessions of US$982 million. That waswhat the President alone sat in his Officeand directed Parliament to do. US$982million in tax concessions. We brought thefigure down to US$832 million, when wemet as a Committee but I am still notsatisfied. Mr Speaker, MPS is investing US$1.5billion, for which we are giving them a taxconcession of US$832 million. For everyUS$1 that they invest, we give them fifty-five cents -- fa no kwa. Mr Speaker, a tax exemption is amonetary exemption, which reduces thetaxable income. If I invest US$1.5 billionand I get tax concessions of US$832million, why would I not do such a project?Now, if we go into the details and the kindsof concessions we are giving them -- For instance, take the National FiscalStabilisation Levy; a levy which everynow and then would be brought in to raiserevenue for stabilising the economy.Banks pay the fiscal stabilisation levy, thenon-bank financial institutions, the Telcosand the Breweries.
Mr Speaker, I riseto support the Motion. I would like to makea few remarks concerning the Tema PortExpansion Project. The expansion has become necessary,to ensure the competitiveness of the portas a preferred cargo destination in our sub-region. It has also become necessary toexpand the capacity of the port in order toease the congestion there. Mr Speaker, this partnership hasbecome necessary, given our budgetaryconstraints and the debts that we havebeen accumulating. This arrangementwould help the country to reduce theincreasing debt stock in our system. Thisarrangement would also help to reduce theloans that we have been borrowing. The facility is purely a private financearrangement between the company andfinanciers. It does not require theGovernment to guarantee, neither does itneed a Parliamentary approval. The importance of International TradesDevelopment has been empiricallyestablished. Mr Speaker, a project of thisnature would help Ghana to connect tothe global market and that would facilitatetrade and enable Ghanaian businesses toeffectively compete for businesses cost-wise. Mr Speaker, the cost and benefitanalysis would help the GhanaianGovernment in so many ways, such thatwe would increase foreign investment,Gross Domestic Product (GDP) andemployment generation. Mr Speaker, I would like to underscorethe importance of the Project and how itis going to be financed. The mostimportant thing we need to think about isthat, given the state of the economy and
Mr Speaker, thank you for theopportunity to contribute to this debate. Mr Speaker, as a preliminary pot, I justwish to observe that this Government, withthis request, is further deepening itsconsistent inconsistencies. I say thisbecause, in the first term of the NationalDemocratic Congress (NDC) administra-tion, in an Address on the State of theNation, His Excellency the late PresidentMills said they were going to rationalisethe tax exemption regime. Over the past three or four years, theHon Minister for Finance consistentlyassures this House that he is going toreview tax exemptions. If that had been done, I am sure thisHouse, in considering this request, wouldhave been guided by certain points. However, Mr Speaker, this proposal isnot guided by any policy by Governmentat all. It is important for us to emphasisethat when there is a consistently outlinedpolicy, then we begin to have a clearerview as to what direction Government istaking us. I am from Sekondi and Port Expansionis so important to me. I know thatpresently, there is an expansion of theTakoradi Port and even the boulders being Mr Speaker, the responsibility for thedevelopment of port is that of the State. Ifit is the Government's policy that it wantsthe private sector to do this, let it be clearabout it. Here, we have a situation whereMPS is investing US$1.5 billion andupfront, we are giving a tax concession ofup to US$0.832 billion. Mr Speaker, this is because, withoutthis tax concession, the private investorwould not put his money into it. Theprivate investor is in this for profit, so itputs us at a disadvantage as a nation. Iurge the Government to bring out a clearpolicy, whether in the development of ourports, it wants Private-Public Sector-Participation (PPP). Mr Speaker, I must say that, for us onthe Finance Committee, we had theopportunity to be briefed about the entireproject. Mr Speaker, this is just the civilworks and marine works aspect; itexcludes the highway. So in the next yearor two, we should expect a request for taxexemptions in respect of the highway. Mr Speaker, it is a laudable project butwhether or not this route is best for thiscountry is something that the Governmentought to have addressed deeper. MrSpeaker, at the Committee level, it was alsobrought to the fore, the fact that it seemsthat this Government is managing thiscountry in pockets. One Ministry wouldbe doing this, but it seems the otherMinistry may not be fully aware ofwhatever is going on. In a project of this nature, there mustbe total governmental support at thehighest level as far as the Ministries areconcerned. This is because, it forms partof a broad view of Government's development effort. So I urge theGovernment, even though it has onlyabout six months to go, to take this matterseriously -- [Interruption.] To leaveoffice. I am saying that, this Government hasonly about six months left of itsAdministration but it is not too late forPresident Mahama to change hisapproach so that as a House, where it isnecessary for us to support any proposal,we know that our support is based on fulland comprehensive information. I wish at this stage, to commend theadministration of the port. It is a majorsector of our economy but it seems to methat, the State has not been payingenough attention. The State must paygood attention to the ports sector and theninvest the requisite funds in that sector. There are areas that generate income.We should not take loans to supportfanciful projects. We should take loans tosupport revenue generating projects likethe port. The port is a gold mine and thatis what the Government ought to do; andit should not invite the private sector tocome and enjoy the fruits of ourinvestment which I believe is what isgoing to happen with this one. I thank you, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, I rise to supportthe Motion requesting this House toadopt the Report of the FinanceCommittee on the request for TaxConcessions in respect of the taxes thathave previously been enumerated by theHon Chairman of the Finance Committeein respect of the Tema Port ExpansionProject, the Development of the ContainerTerminal and Port Access Road by MPS. Mr Speaker, I note that, when MPScame into this country, for the first time,when they developed what we know nowas the Tema Container Terminal inpartnership with Government, we laudedthat project as an example of a successfulpublic-private-partnership. Indeed, thatpublic-private-partnership model hasdeveloped a facility in the port of Temathat is efficient and provides opportunitiesfor enhancing our international trade. Therefore, as the Port of Tema hascontinued to expand and the volumes oftrade that have gone through the Port ofTema have continued to expand also fromyear to year and as it has beendemonstrated that it is possible for us toinvest and expand our productiveinfrastructure not necessarily by takingon additional debt for Government but byallowing private sector investment tocomplement Government investment,what we are doing right now in supportingthese tax concessions is essentiallycreating the platform where we, as H. E.President Mahama has consistently said,working with the private sector to developpublic-private-partnerships (PPP) toexpand productive infrastructureespecially, when that is capable of payingfor itself. Mr Speaker, it is true that we are givingtax concessions.This is not the first timethis House is doing that for importantprojects. Indeed, we have been doing iton a regular and continuous basis,especially, where we know that chargingduties on those items essentially only toincrease the cost of the project. Mr Speaker, we should not only lookat this project from the point of view asthis is a private investment in which apartner of Government in this project isgoing to make money. They are going tomake money. The private sector is not hereon a purely altruistic basis.
HonMembers, unless the Leadership has somecontributions to make, I will put theQuestion.
(NPP--Ejisu): Mr Speaker, my contribution wouldbe from the technical point of view of theTema Port Expansion Works. Mr Speaker, in 1962 the operationstarted on the Tema Port. There has not been any widening or expansion of thePort. It is the same land and water areathat is being used, although improvementworks have gone on within the same areafor effective and efficient port operations. Mr Speaker, as of December 2015, thecontainer traffic had increased to sevenhundred and eighty-two thousand fivehundred and two; twenty footerequivalent units (TEU). The cargo traffichas exceeded twelve million tonnes andvessels that are required to carry theseincreased traffic are vessels that are longerthan three hundred metres. In the 1970s, we had vessels that wereabout three hundred metres in length. So,Mr Speaker, bigger vessels require deepwater for the berth which exceeds fifteenmetres and a wider basin for the turningof the vessels. Mr Speaker, it is therefore, necessaryto expand the Tema Port to meet the risingstandards in terms of vessel size andcontainer-cargo traffic. Consequently, forthe phase one of the Tema Expansionworks, as has been indicated already,breaking water would be about fourkilometres. We have to dredge to depth exceedingseventeen metres in soft rock. Overall, weexpect to have about 7.3 million cubicmetres of dredged material. Part of the seawould also be reclaimed with bouldersfrom quarries and the dredged materialsthat would require about 10.2 million cubicmetres of material. Mr Speaker, there is the need to protectthe reclaimed area from sea erosiontherefore, they would have to constructquell wall and should be about 1.4kilometres, the width is about 8metres andthe overall height should be about21metres. Mr Speaker, the concrete pavement ofthe reclaimed area for container depot andoffices would also be required. Mr Speaker, it is also important that thePort has an access road. From theCommunity 3 Junction to where theTerminal would be, there would be anaccess road of about a kilometre long,which has to be constructed. I have toindicate that, the US$1.535 billion for thephase one, does not include the wideningof the Accra-Tema Motorway as well asthe access road from the Tema Motorwayend to the Port. Mr Speaker, on the completion of theTerminal, the capacity that we expect forthe phase one would be about 3.5millionTEU. Studies by Ghana Ports andHarbours Authority (GPHA) and theconsultant named Selhorn/HPC hasindicated an internal rate of return oftwelve per cent, which for our developingworld, gives an indication that the projectis economically viable. There is also a netpresent value of US$353.7 million whoselow value makes it imperative that theproject should commence as quickly aspracticable. Mr Speaker, the project is a design andconstruct type governed by theconditions of contract of the InternationalFederation of Consulting Engineers(FIDIC), which they call the “Yellow Book,1999''. Thorough, commercial Agreementhas not been completed, Mr Speaker, wehad to pose questions to the GPHA tofind out about a few issues that were ofimportance to the Committee. We were told that, the concessionaire,which is MPS, would submit a securityfor proper performance of the contract,usually referred to as the PerformanceSecurity. We were also informed that, theconcessionaire shall submit designObligation Certificate to ensure that thedesigns that are being done by theConcessionaire are in accordance withspecification requirement. Mr Speaker, various insurances are alsoto be secured by the concessionaire forthe project including construction all- risk,all-risks cargo work-men compensationinsurance, et ce tera.We also learned that,in default on the part of either the grantor,which is the GPHA, or the Concessionaire,MPS, liquidator damages shall be paiddepending on who is at fault. Mr Speaker, in all, the expansion worksfor phase one for Tema Port would providesubstantial revenue for the nation andgenerate employment. It is a good projectand the Committee asks Hon Members tosupport the waiver of the taxes. Mr Speaker, thank you very much forthe opportunity.
Thank youvery much. Hon Members, I appear to get the senseof the House. I would put the Question -Do you want one each? Very well. Youhave the floor, after that, the Hon Ministerfor Transport. Yes, Hon Member for Takoradi?
Thank you, Mr Speaker, forthe opportunity to add my voice to theMotion. Mr Speaker, we have had theopportunity to look at the Report and Iwas particularly interested in the value formoney aspect of the project. Mr Speaker,even though we have not got to that stageyet, you could see that the pricing for theTema project and the Takoradi PortExpansion projects are virtually the same.
Thank youvery much. Yes, Hon Minister for Transport?
Mr Speaker, I wish to also makea contribution to the Motion that, thisHouse adopts the Report of the FinanceCommittee on the Request for taxconcessions to support the Tema PortExpansion Project, the Development ofContainer Terminal and a Port AccessRoad by the Meridian Port Services (MPS)Limited together with the Ghana Ports andHarbours Authority (GPHA). Mr Speaker, first and foremost, I wishto explain, as was said earlier, that this isan unprecedented project, a project thatis going to make our country have the bestport facility in the whole of sub-SaharanAfrica and that is very important. I wishto also signal that, this is a significant part of the process of bringing transformationto our economy; this economictransformation must be stressed. We are in a country where for a longtime we have decried the tendency ofGovernment to constantly borrow for somany different projects. We need to makea transition into a time when Governmentwould not necessarily need to commititself to borrowing for every project, towhere organisations that are within ourcountry are developing enough of whatwe call large balance sheets to be able togo into projects on their own withoutencumbering Central Government, andthis is one of such projects. As a country, we need to support thisnot just in terms of what GPHA is doingso that many other organisations --Airport Company -- and so many othercompanies would be able to reach thatstage where on their own balance sheets,they would be able to go into transactionsof this nature. That is the first one. Mr Speaker, the second point is toexplain that, revenue consideration isimportant. The aim of revenue is to bringabout development. So, you cansometimes forsake current revenue inorder to bring about something that wouldbring economic transformation andgrowth, employment and future revenueinflow for your country. It is only a person who is not lookingat the future transformation of a countrywho is constantly obsessed with revenuenow. So, if we are making some of thesesacrifices to forsake revenue today, inorder to attain a situation where our portswould be the best in the whole of the sub-region, make us competitive across thesub-region and so on, that actually is theway to go. Mr Speaker, this is not to say that, theGovernment is not taking intoconsideration revenue at all. This isbecause if we go into the Report properly,we would know that, within the period ofthe concession, we are looking at arevenue inflow into the country thatamounts to US$5.71 billion.That ismassive. The country is not going to loserevenue considerably. We are making an initial sacrifice interms of revenue but at the end of theperiod, US$5.71 million is going to accrueto this country in terms of revenue. Thisis actually a project that we need toencourage for future transformation; theexpansion of our port facilities whichwould make us competitive and grow oureconomy. Mr Speaker, I wish to support theMotion.
Thank youvery much. Hon Members, I would putthe Question. Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu -- rose --
Yes, HonMinority Leader, I thought that I gave theLeadership the opportunity to contributeand you waived it.
Not at all, Mr Speaker. The delayin having the Question put on this wasoccasioned by intervention by an HonMember that, we need to have an inputfrom the Committee on Roads andTransport. That is why I was signallingto you that, you might have to giveopportunity to the Hon Members of theCommittee on Roads and Transport tomake their input. It was not to tell youthat I was ceding or waving my right tocontribute. Mr Speaker, the issue before us isabout tax waiver and because this is aprivate arrangement which would notencumber the State, one would perhapsask why we are going into it then, sincethe State is not going to be encumbered.We need to be concerned because the taxwaiver, if it is not granted, would meanthat tax would have to be paid to the State. It is like we are waiving our rights tocollect the tax amounting to US$832million. That is colossal and because it ishuge, we need to be concerned and pryinto what business is being transacted. As we speak, there is a lot of heataround the tax component in our electricitybills. It is a huge ongoing debate and if atthe same time, we are waiving tax to thetune of US$832 million, the nation shouldbe concerned. That is why we are lookingat it with microscopic eyes to see that theproper thing is done. We are told that, the access roads tothe Tema Ports is not included in theproject under discussion yet, for theproject to be a success, we need toconsider these alongside? Earlier, we were told in this House that,they were going to consider the accessroads and GPHA was going into anagreement that was going to involveabout US$34 million in the expansion ofthe road from the Port to the roundaboutat the Motorway end. Mr Speaker, there cannot be anytransportation improvement that does notinvolve separation of the traffic at thatroundabout. Otherwise, if you involve theUS$34 million, it would be a colossal waste.This is because, the traffic congestionthere is occasioned by the traffic flow fromthe Aflao and Akosombo ends. So, to theextent that, that initial proposal did notinvolve any traffic separation, it was going to be a prodigal waste of time andresources of this country. This is because,the country ultimately would have to bearthat cost. I am surprised that as we speak today,nobody is even looking at that, yet, thereare transportation engineers and plannersin the system. If we are not careful, thisproject would be a waste if the necessarycomponents are not considered alongsideit. That is the second observation. Mr Speaker, again, we are told theconstruction of the Port -- I do not knowwhether it is a new construction or maybean expansion. It is going to involve thebuilding of four deep water berths with1,400 metre long quay wall and a newbreakwater of four kilometres. That is amassive construction and we know theimpact of the construction of the firstbreakwater at Tema. The coastal erosion at Ada and as faraway as Keta -- What feasibility studyhas been conducted into this to allow usto know the impact of the construction ofthe new breakwater, which is fourkilometers long. If care is not taken, wewould do this and it might come out thatthe sea defence wall that we have built atKeta would have to perhaps be rethoughtfor the nation to do a second sea defencewall at only Keta. Mr Speaker, Ada has not beenconsidered. We need a comprehensivestudy into this. I agree in principle that, itis good for us. However, we need to gointo these things so that we do not turnaround to experience further expenditureassociated with this expansion. Theconstruction of the four-kilometrebreakwater would certainly have an impacton coastal erosion in the country,especially, the eastern coast line. Nothingis said about that and that is one of myworries. Mr Speaker, as we have learnt, thetotal amount is going to be about US$1.5billion; the tax waiver is up toUS$832,000,000.00. Mr Speaker, the US$832,000,000.00 thatthe State is forgiving the contractors is54 per cent of their own investment. So,why are we talking about only 30 per centshareholding members? [Interruption] -May I yield so that you intervene? Iwould yield to you. Mr Speaker, I would yield to the HonDeputy Minister for Finance if he wouldwant to make some intervention.
On apoint of order. Mr Speaker, it is veryimportant for us to clarify some of thesepoints. Mr Speaker, if we are to look at thecomponent of the tax that we are waivingcarefully, Parliament is requested to waiveup to US$832,000,000.00. The componentincludes withholding tax which is not afinal tax. Therefore, if we are to take thewithholding tax of US$122,000,000.00 outof it, the actual tax that would have beenaccrued to the State is US$710,000,000.00. Mr Speaker, again, it would be noticedthat, the National Fiscal Stabilisationwhich is a very temporary tax; this taxexpires by the year 2017 and the HonFinance Minister made a firm pledge tothis House that, we would remove theNational Fiscal Stabilisation Levy by theyear 2017. We have GH¢145,000,000.00 outof the US$832,000,000.00 and this meansthat the actual tax we are waiving isUS$565,000,000.00. If we are to compare that to the totalrevenue that is going to accrue to the State in the region of US$5.71 billion, thisrepresents about 9.8 per cent of revenue. Mr Speaker, I think even if we are tocompare it on the back of revenuedecision, it is a very good decision thatwe should all support.
Mr Speaker,may I know from the Deputy FinanceMinister whether he has finishedcontributing? This was really a point ofdebate and not a point of order. I wish the Chair would point that outto the Hon Deputy Finance Minister. Mr Speaker, going by his ownarithmetic, what he is telling us is that, theUS$710,000,000.00 -- that translates to 47per cent, and yet we are talking about 30per cent shareholding. That is my beef. Iam saying to him that, with regard to thatconsideration, it is not healthy for GhanaPorts and Harbours Authority (GHA-POHA )to have the shareholding of only30 per cent when the State is having togive away this much. That is the point Iwas making. Mr Speaker, a point has been madeabout the contribution into the VAT Fund,NHIS and so on and so forth and onewould want to believe that, the workersto the extent that they would be profitingfrom the scheme, perhaps, it may beimportant to have a second look at thewaiver in respect of NHIS contribution. Mr Speaker, the final thing I may wantto talk about is this whole concept ofPublic Private Partnership (PPP). Yes,private involvement in State investmentis good to the extent that it would alleviatethe burden that the State may have to bear.But all the reason why as a Parliament, weneed to look at the arrangement involvedin PPP transactions in order that the Statewould not end up being short changed.
Very well. Thank you very much. Hon Members, I would put theQuestion. Mr Bagbin-- rose --
Yes, HonMajority Leader?
Thank you, Mr Speakerand sorry for unfortunately trying to arrestyour attempt at putting the Question. Mr Speaker, I am happy my HonColleague; the Hon Member for Sekondicommended the management ofGHAPOHA. That is where the technicalwork was done and passed on to the Government. I was part of that technicalteam from 1996 to 2001, as a member ofthe Board of Directors. Mr Speaker, I am happy with thecontribution that has been made by theHon Ranking Member on the committeeon Transport. That is a technical person.[Hear! Hear!]He knows the in and out ofports operations. Mr Speaker, we saved it and did amaster plan for the ports of Ghana. Whenthe National Democratic Congress (NDC)lost the general election in the year 2000,my Hon Colleagues who won tookadvantage and Mr Ben Mensah was oneof our team members who was made theDirector General of GHAPOHA and thuscarried on with the good works that wedid. We are again starting another masterplan, and we are now not talking aboutchange which is minimalistic; we are talkingabout transformation [Hear! Hear!]--[Laughter]-- and in transformation onemust think big. One must invest a lot. Mr Speaker, we know from our ownresources that, we do not have that muchand we have to partner with the privatesector. I am happy that concept has beenaccepted by all. Mr Speaker, the tax element is part ofthe cost of the project so, we can decidethat we would factor it in and later the taxis paid to us or we exempt it. It is part ofthe cost of the project. Looking at the cost,if we talk about efficiency, then it is betterin such situations to do a tax waiver andthat is permitted by our Constitution,hence, permitted by the laws of Ghana andthat is the decision that has been taken. Mr Speaker, that is the best way to goso that the risk of the investment — theprivate sector has agreed to undertakethat risk and not to put it on Government.
Thank youvery much. Papa Owusu-Ankomah — rose —
HonMember, you have had your bite of thecherry.
Mr Speaker,what we are witnessing in this Chamberfor this last few minutes is like Saul'sconversion to Paul — [Laughter.]
Very well. Hon Members, I will put the Question.Question put and Motion agreed to.
Mr Speaker, we can nowtake the consequential Resolution, Iwould want to seek your permission andwith the indulgence of my HonColleagues, for the Hon Deputy Ministerfor Finance, Hon Cassiel A. B. Forson, tomove the Resolution for and on behalf ofthe Hon Minister for Finance.
Mr Speaker,very well.
Mr Speaker, I beg tosecond the Motion. Question put and Motion agreed to. Resolved accordingly.
Mr Speaker, I thoughtthe Hon Deputy Minister would amendthe Motion — [Interruption.]
HonMember, we have already amended it.
The Motion wasamended and not the Resolution.
HonMember, it is consequential.[Pause.]
Mr Speaker, sorry for thedelay. They just brought to me a draft ofthe understanding that we said we weregoing to have. So, I have given it to myHon Colleagues to go through and make the necessary inputs. I have not read itmyself. But I would want us to move tothe Consideration Stage of the Right toInformation Bill, 2013 — item numbered17 on the Order Paper.
Very well. Hon Members, the item numbered 17on the Order Paper — Right to InformationBill, 2013, at the Consideration Stage. Is the Hon Chairman of the Committeewith us?
Mr Speaker, the Chairmanof the Committee is on an official trip. Heis representing us in the ACP-EUParliament in Brussels, but his deputy istaking up the responsibility of leading usin the consideration of this Bill.
Very well. Hon Deputy Chairman of theCommittee — I saw the Hon DeputyAttorney-General and Deputy Ministerfor Justice around. BILLS — CONSIDERATIONSTAGE Right to Information Bill, 2013
Hon DeputyChairman of the Committee, can yourefresh our memory? Deputy Chairman of the Committee(Mr George Loh): Mr Speaker, I believewe were on clause 21.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move,clause 21, subclause (1), closing phraseafter paragraph (b), line 1, after “officer”insert “or the designated officer”.
HonMembers, I believe it is ratherstraightforward. Question put and amendment agreedto.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move,clause 21, subclause (2), delete and insertthe following: “Where an application for access ismade and the public institution towhich the application is made doesnot have the information in itscustody, the information officershall, within a period of not morethan ten working days: (a) make the necessary enquiry toestablish whether any otherpublic institution has theinformation, (b) transfer the application to thatother public institution if thatpublic institution has theinformation; and (c) notify the applicant accordingly”.
Hon DeputyChairman, can you give us the rationalebehind it? I remember the debate thatensued concerning this particular issue.Hon Members were a bit sceptical abouta public institution being made to scoutround for information.
Mr Speaker, I cannot hearanything.
HonMembers, can we have some order in thisHouse?
I said that, at the last ConsiderationStage, there was this issue of the publicinstitution where the application is sent,if it does not have the information in itscustody to scout around within a certaintimeframe to find out where theinformation is and to advice the applicantto follow-up. Hon Members felt it was unfair to thepublic institution and thought that, as anapplicant, he or she should also be up anddoing and do some kind of research orgroundwork to determine where he or sheis likely to get the information. If I get youright, you are now trying to combine thataspect with others.
Mr Speaker, we consideredthis when we went for the winnowing andwe were of the view that, this new oneserves the purpose that we intended theBill to serve.
Very well. Hon Members, I will put the Question -- Baba J. M. Ahmed — rose --
Yes? Baba Jamal M. Ahmed: Mr Speaker, Ibelieve that the last time we discussed thisclause, clearly, they had just brought theclause in the same form but in differentwords. This is because, if one makeSapplication to a particular institution andthe person asks the institution that itshould go round or scout in ten days andtransfer the information to the place andnotify the applicant, I believe that it is stillburdening the institution. Why would the institution not notifythe person that this is where you can dothis application or this is where you cango for this information? The idea oftransferring and whatever is going tooverburden the officer the information isbeing asked from. Mr Speaker, for example, if one comesto a particular Ministry and he or she asksthe Ministry to look for this informationand they do not have it, all that they needto do is to notify the person that they donot have the information here but theymay advise that the person could lookfor the information, maybe, from here orthere - that advice could be given. MrSpeaker, but to ask them to transfer it thereand notify the person, I do not think thatit is the best. So I believe that we should stick to thesuggestion that came up the last time that,if they do not have the information, theyshould notify the applicant. They mayadvise the applicant to go to point A orpoint B and look for that information. Ibelieve that would be the best.
Mr Speaker, we havedebated this clause for some time now. Iwould want to say and insist that thisamendment as proposed is in place. Mr Speaker, I do not agree with HonBaba Jamal Ahmed. If one is an officer andan application has been made to him andhe realises that he does not have it in hiscustody, so one is to make enquiry fromwhere one could find it and inform theapplicant. it is better to transfer thatapplication to that end so that theapplicant can go and access theinformation. If he says this is burdensome to theofficer, I do not see it as such at all. MrSpeaker, this is an officer sitting in hisoffice and an application has been brought to him or her. we said that maybe,if the application is from an applicant whois from a rural area, he or she managed totravel to Accra and to the office seekinginformation. At least, to say that theinformation he wants is in a particularoffice and that he had transferred theapplication to that particular office, it isnot so much a demand on the officer. Mr Speaker, the amendment is in placeand I urge everybody to support it andwe should take it in that form. It is not somuch for the officer to transfer theapplication there and inform the applicantto go to a particular office for theinformation. The amendment is in place,Mr Speaker.
Yes, HonDeputy Attorney-General and DeputyMinister for Justice, you were not herewhen the issue was debated but I believethat you have been briefed. Very well.
Mr Speaker, Ibelieve the policy rationale behind thisamendment is very clear. Within the publicsector, information is not usually locatedin one institution. It may be the case thatthe information is found in multipleinstitutions or in a situation where therehas been a change. For instance, if we take the Ministry ofInformation, the former Ministry ofInformation existed but currently, it iswithin the Ministry of Communications. So, where the information is locatedwithin another public institution, it isincumbent on the Information Officer toinform the applicant of the new locationor the institution that has custody of theinformation. Therefore, the applicationwould then be transferred to that newinstitution for purposes of the provision of the information. So, I do not think thatthere is anything materially wrong withthe amendment and we should support it. Thank you.
Let me askone question. If you look at the proposed amendment,it says that: “Where an application for access ismade and the public institution towhich the application is made doesnot have the Information in itscustody, the information Officershall, within a period of not morethan ten working days: (a) make the necessary enquiry toestablish whether any otherpublic institution has theinformation,'' That is allright.Then if he has it: (b) transfer the application to thatother public institution if thatpublic institution has theinformation; and (c) notify the applicant accor-dingly”. The question is, what if his or herenquiries do not reveal that any publicinstitution has that information in itscustody?
Mr Speaker, in all cases, thereis the need for notification. So, if you donot have, you notify the applicant thatyou do not have. On the other hand, youcould say that, the information he or shewants has been transferred from thisdepartment to another department andthat the request has been forwarded tothat department and so he or she shouldfollow it up.
Mr Speaker, this is because, first andforemost, the applicant may not haverealised that there has been some re-alignment of Ministries or of somedepartments and so the information --
You are notgetting my question. What if one is not able to trace theinformation to any public institution?
Then you revert to the normalthing where you can say that you do nothave the information, therefore, youcannot be of help.
Mr Speaker, I think yourevisited this matter because you thoughtthat it would overburden the InformationOfficer. And this has further beeninterpreted by the Hon Deputy Attorney-General and Deputy Minister for Justiceexplanation to the effect that informationis not centralised within the PublicService. Mr Speaker, one solution to the issuebefore us would be that, they can set-upa central information desk which wouldbe in charge of receiving transferredapplications. So, that central desk wouldonly be responsible to receive and thenlocate the appropriate source for theaccess to the information instead of theapplicant roaming from one InformationOfficer to the other in an unending manner. This is because, if the first InformationOfficer transfers it to another person,maybe, that second officer may also notnecessarily have the information and hewould transfer the applicant to anotherperson. Mr Speaker, to solve the problem ofmoving around unnecessarily, I believe that if they have a central desk somewherewhere such applicants could be referredto and be helped, that would be better.
Yes, HonDeputy Chairman of the Committee, howdo you respond to that proposal?
Very well, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I think that in one vein, itsounds like a plausible thing to do but Ibelieve that, given our currentcircumstances, we are better of leaving theclause as it is. This is because, I believethat it is not overburdening trying to assistpeople in getting information and whereyou do not have it, you only refer theperson to the appropriate quarters andnotify the person. Where you transfer the informationand tell the applicant that go to this otherMinistry because I have transferred yourapplication there and then he goes thereto get his or her information. I do not think that would be too muchto be asked of any public officer. As aCommittee, we believe that it is not toomuch to be asked of a public officer.
Mr Speaker, then, itshould not be “shall”. If we are giving theperson options that they can either do thisor that and we say; “he shall within tendays” do that -- If they can refer it tosomebody or suggest, then it should notbe “shall”. It should not be mandatory. He could suggest that if theinformation is here, he could go but if wesay “shall”, then, the person has to leavewhatever he has to do to go and look forinformation for them or even transfer it orsomething. It should not be “shall”. Thisis because in this case, we are puttingsomething on this man to automaticallydo it when we said that he can -- The subclause reads: “shall within a period of not morethan ten working days”.
Mr Speaker, the ‘shall' thereis a mandatory clause for a particularpurpose. If you leave it open, then youwould find out that, for one month, theperson has not found the information andhe has not given any feedback. But when you make it mandatory thatit should be within ten days, within thetenth day, he would be able to tell youwhether the information is available or notand then you proceed. This is because,this Bill is to expedite accessibility ofinformation to the public in general. So, ifwe leave it and do not make it mandatory,they would say, “go and come; I am doingsomething else' and for three months, onewould still be going and coming, whenthe man has not even got the information. But if he has not got the informationwithin ten days, he is under obligation totell you that, Madam, please, I believe yourinformation is at this place or we do nothave it within this public institution. Youmay look elsewhere.
Yes, HonBaba Jamal Ahmed and then HonQuashigah. Baba Ahmed: Mr Speaker, just thismorning, a lady came to our Ministry, theMinistry of Employment and LabourRelations to enquire about the closure ofsome Orphanages. The Social Welfare Department usedto be under our Ministry. Now, it has beentaken to the Ministry of Gender, Childrenand Social Protection. When the ladycame looking for that information, all I did was to say that, that department is nomore under our Ministry; it is now underthe Ministry of Gender, Children andSocial Protection. So, if she could go andfind that information there. The person moved there and before Icame here, the person called me and wasgrateful for that information. That is exactly what we are saying here.So, if we go by what they are saying, itmeans that, I really have to leave whateverI am doing as my core business at myMinistry and go and look for informationor transfer whatever request that she hasbrought to the Ministry of Gender,Children and Social Protection and withinten days notify her, which makes it moredifficult and worrying for even theapplicant and myself. What we are saying is that, if the personcomes to look for the information, if theinformation Officer of any Ministry hasthe Information, they must give it out.With that, we can give sometime withinwhich such information would be given.If they do not have the information, forexample, if one comes to my Ministry andasks about agriculture; how one canacquire tractors, I would have to leave myMinistry or take it and transfer it to theMinistry of Food and Agriculture -- All I need to do is to advise. So, I amsaying that, instead of saying that itshould be transferred there and notified,we should rather say that, the personwould give the information within this timeor may advise the applicant to go to theappropriate place and take the information.Otherwise, we would have a situationwhere it is possible he comes and theperson says he does not have theinformation after wasting his time for tendays. Maybe, the person could have donehis own home work.
To make it easier for the applicant andthe person who is supposed to give theinformation, if one does not have theinformation, he should advise the personto go to the appropriate place and takethe information. That is the point. But ifyou say “shall transfer the application tothat place” which puts some burden onthe person to leave his core business andbe doing another business, I do not thinkthat is fair. Mr Loh -- rose --
Let us hearfrom Hon Quashigah and then, we wouldcome to you, the Chairman. We wouldgive you the last bite.
Thank you so much,Mr Speaker. To my mind, this proposed amendmentis very appropriate and very much in syncwith -
In themeantime, the Hon Second DeputySpeaker should hold himself in readinessto take over the Chair. Yes, go ahead.
Mr Speaker, it is verymuch in sync with what most of ussupported during the last meeting. We are talking about the right toinformation and we are dealing withordinary people most of the times. Theseare people who are not professionals infishing out information. If we are talkingabout an information officer within acertain public institution, that individualis supposed to be skilled at how to easilyfacilitate or get information. It is his work. Mr Speaker, we are not saying that hemust keep the person in abeyance for tendays. It says, within a period of ten days.It could even mean that on the very firstday, where he has the capacity of helpingthe individual get the information, he doesthat. Like Hon Baba Jamal Ahmed usinghimself as a reference that somebody cameto him, and when he realised that hisMinistry does not have that informationbut it could easily be located within theMinistry of Gender, Children and SocialProtection, he directed the person and theperson was grateful. Mr Speaker, that is exactly what thisclause seeks to put out; that if one couldhelp the person within that timeline, heshould do that. But if it would take sometime for him to locate the appropriateinstitution, he is supposed to do thatwithin ten days. If in ten days he is unableto get the requisite information or theinstitution that holds that information,then he can inform whoever is seeking thatinformation that, unfortunately, I cannothelp you because I have not located anyinstitution that has this information. Mr Speaker, I think that, today withtechnology, it must not be difficult for aninformation officer to reach out to someother information Officer within anotherinstitution to actually seek if he or shehas this information pertaining to thismatter or other issue. So, I do not see the hullaballoo aboutit going to burden the individual, etcetera. It would not require the individualto move from his office -- [Interruption]-- Mr Speaker, I withdraw the use of theword “hullaballoo” because I can feel thesentiment around, especially from SeniorColleagues like Hon Papa Owusu-Ankomah. Mr Speaker, since an information officeris supposed to be doing that job, I think there should not be any difficulty aboutit. I believe that the amendment is properand it fits very much the thinking of themajority of us who actually spoke to thismatter on that particular day.
Yes, HonVice Chairman? Or you would want to makeyour contribution before he does? -- Very well.
Mr Speaker,thank you for the opportunity. Mr Speaker, I am opposed to thisamendment. The amendment is not apt. Itis going to overburden the informationofficer. Mr Speaker, if one is looking forinformation about fertiliser, why shouldhe go to the Ministry of Youth and Sportsto look for that particular information? MrSpeaker, I believe there and then, he shouldbe directed that the appropriate place forhim to go and search for that particularinformation is the Ministry of Food andAgriculture. Mr Speaker, in issues relating toinformation, time is of essence. We aremaking a law, giving the opportunity tothe information officer to scout for theinformation and notify the applicantwithin ten days. Mr Speaker, what happens if thatinformation is of urgent nature but then,one has gone to the wrong place to lookfor that particular nformation and then theInformation Officer has ten days withinwhich to look for the information andnotify him, only for him to be told on thetenth day that the information is notavailable? Mr Speaker, once the information is notavailable at the institution that theapplicant has gone to, he needs to be toldthat the information is not available there.This is so that he who wants theinformation would make the attempt to getit by way of going to another place, ratherthan leaving the application there andexpect the information officer to work onit. Mr Speaker, on this basis, I am opposedto the amendment.
Mr Speaker, I think it isimportant for us to read clause 21 (2)closely with clause 21 (1). If myunderstanding of the two clauses is right,they both do the same thing. Subclause (1) talks about an agencynot being able to deal with an applicationbecause the information is neither with theagency nor closely related to the functionof another agency. It imposes the sameobligation on that agency to seek theinformation or transfer the application tothe agency that is more closely related tothe information that is being sought. Mr Speaker, so, if we are opposed tosubclause (2), then we must be opposedto subclause (1). If we have allowedsubclause (1) to pass, then we must alsoallow subclause (2) to pass. This isbecause the two clauses perform the samefunction. Mr Speaker, let me read the twosubclauses. Mr Speaker, with yourpermission, clause 21 (1) says: “(1) Where an agency is unable todeal with an application becausethe information requested
(a) is not in the custody or controlof the agency, but to theknowledge of the agency, it isheld by an agency; or (b) is in the custody of the agencybut it is more closely related tothe functions of another agency, the information officer to whomthe application is made shall,within ten working days of thereceipt of the application,transfer the application to theother agency and give writtennotice of the transfer to theapplicant”.
“(2) Where an application for accessis made and the agency to whichthe application is made does nothave the information in itscustody, the informat ionofficer -- (a) shall make the necessary enquiryto establish whether any otheragency has the information, and (b) shall transfer the application tothat other agency if the agencyhas the information, and (c) shall notify the applicantaccordingly.” Mr Speaker, the amendment seeks toadd the ten days mandatory timeframe thatis imposed in subclause (1) and insubclause (2) also; the same exercise ofresponsibility to aid an applicant. All thatthis amendment of the subclause does isto add a timeline of ten days. This isbecause in subclause (1), there is a mandatory period of ten days withinwhich to exercise that responsibility. So,there is a similar function andresponsibility. Mr Speaker, so, if they are opposed tothe responsibilities imposed on theagency in subclause (2), then they mustgo back to subclause (1). This is becausesimilar responsibilities are imposed on theagency in subclause (1). So, I do not think that there is the needto really push this matter very far. It is justto assist applicants. We are assuming thatthe State, being all powerful and theagencies which harbour all theinformation and are paid from thetaxpayers' money to be able to carry outthat function -- a citizen, in relation tothe State, is the weaker party seekinginformation, it is better to impose moreburden on the State than to impose aburden on the individual. That is all thatthis clause is seeking to do. Mr Speaker, it is true that sometimes,one should not go to the Ministry of Youthand Sports to ask for information aboutfertiliser; but then when we pass alegislation like this and it becomesobvious that an information could beasked for from subject A to Z, it meansthat by their training, they would alsobecome broad minded to know that theinformation being sought is not in theirdepartment. If it is about fertilizer, the first place tostart asking would be the Ministry of Foodand Agriculture and, perhaps, some otheragencies. It would not be a too difficult orwondrous obligation on the part of theinformation officer. Mr Speaker, I do not think that it wouldbe as rigid as Hon Members are implying.It would not be that rigid. In fact, theymay just deal with each other at the counter. If the applicant brings anapplication and the information officerlooks at it and sees that it is aboutagriculture, but he is in the Ministry ofHealth, he would tell the applicant that hecould get the information from theMinistry of Health; but if the applicantwants the information to be transferredby the information officer, he would doso. The applicant may say, all right, itshould be transferred or he would justwalk to the next building which is theMinistry of Health. Mr Speaker, so let us not be too rigidabout these matters, and let us leave itthe way it is. Thank you, Mr Speaker. Baba Ahmed: Mr Speaker, we aremaking a law, so it is not about friendship.This is because an officer can have adifficult applicant who would come andinsist that he is looking for information inanother Ministry. He goes to anotherMinistry and says that because by lawthe officer has to transfer it, he needs todo so and insists on it. Mr Speaker, my only problem with thewhole thing is that, at the end of the day,it would even be more difficult for theapplicant than we want to make it easy.This is because there are people who maynot even be able to look for theinformation. They would take it and put itdown, the applicant comes in ten days'time and they say they do not have it. What we are saying is that, if the officerdoes not have the information at theMinistry -- This is the Ministry ofEmployment and Labour Relations; wedeal with tsooboi, confusions, demonstrations and red bands. So, whenone comes to ask about these issues,they would be able to resolve it. When I am asked about when the BlackStars is going to travel or why we arepaying them huge sums of money, all Ineed to do is to say that, please, the bestplace to go for this information is theMinistry of Youth and Sports. We should make it easy for theinformation officer and the applicant. Theapplicant does not need to go and sitdown for ten days before he comes back,only to be told that, I did not get it, I gothalf information or he has to go elsewhere.All we are saying is that, we should makeit easy for all of us; the giver and the takeror the applicant and the one who isrequired to give the information. Mr Speaker, if the officer has theinformation, he should give it within theten days. If he does not, he should advisethe applicant to go to the appropriatesource for that information. If we say hemust transfer it, it would mean that we mayhave a difficult applicant who would comeand insist that even if he has been advised,he would say no; since the officer issupposed to transfer it, he should do so. Mr Speaker, these are some of theproblems that we are likely to encounter.We should make it easier for ourselves. Ifthe Officer does not have the information,the best he can do is to advise theapplicant to go to the appropriate sourceand take the information.
Mr Speaker, I want us all toadvert our minds, first and foremost, tothe purpose of this Bill. It is to makeinformation available to the public easily.That is one. Mr Speaker, two, for this Bill, we areemploying information officers who wouldbe paid to do just that work. People mayhave to pay to access these pieces
HonMembers, the Hon Second DeputySpeaker is to take over the Chair. Hon Member, let us hear you;continue.
Mr Speaker, clearly, thatofficer has to first make enquiry in-houseto find out if they have the information. Ifhe so finds out that they do not, but it hasbeen transferred to another institution orto PRAAD, then he transfers thatinformation there and notifies himaccordingly. Mr Speaker, the argument of going tolook for fertiliser in the Ministry of Youthand Sports, I do not think that is theintendment of anybody. It may happenonce in a while, maybe, out of ignoranceof the applicant. But Mr Speaker, thatcannot be the core reason we should dropthis amendment. Mr Speaker, if people are talking aboutlabouriousness, then we should go toclause 24, where, when one does not havethe information, one is required to sweara statutory declaration et cetera. It is evenmore elaborated - simply because onedoes not have information. I believe that this is an easier processand therefore, we should just allow theamendment to pass so that, in itsapplication, the information officer isgiven the opportunity to assist whoevercomes before him or her for informationand they should do it according to thelaw. Mr Speaker, so, it is still my positionthat, this amendment is not wrong andshould be allowed to stay.
Mr Speaker, if we payregard to the amendment and somebodyis saying that, this amendment is wrong,it defeats the entire understanding that,we should have access to information. Icannot envisage a situation in which aninformation officer is saying that, he orshe is burdened because somebody istrying to place a demand on them to work. How can that be a burden? And whatwill be the reason for being hired as aninformation officer? So, when we are talkingabout inter-departmental facilitation ofinformation, how can that be problematic?I do not understand it. If somebody comes to you and theperson is confused and you call yourselfan information officer, that is when youshould exercise the requisite duty bysaying that, I am afraid this is what youare looking for but it can be found at thisplace and to make your work easier, I amgoing to minute that, they should help youas quickly as possible. So, Mr Speaker, I am of the humble viewthat, this amendment is eminently sensibleand it goes to the heart of access toinformation and it should be accepted asa very good amendment for the purposeof ensuring that, even those who areconfused can be helped.
MR SECOND DEPUTY SPEAKER
I thoughtyou had contributed extensively and I waslistening to you.
Mr Speaker, I am going toinvite you to put the Question on theamendment. Mr Speaker, we have debated this issueover and over. I heard one Hon Memberwho is a Minister of State, a public officerand has a constituency, that hisconstituents will come to him seekinginformation and then, he will boldly say,“I do not have, go to another place”. Thatis a public officer. Mr Speaker, a public officer is hired toserve --
I thoughtyou were simply inviting me to put theQuestion and now you are arguing.
Mr Speaker, I am sayingthat, if you take us as politicians who haveconstituencies and whose constituentsmay come to our offices seekinginformation, can we tell them that, we donot have it; particularly, if you thepolitician is an Hon Minister? You haveto find it for the person. And I am saying that, public officers are to serve the publicto supply information particularly, for thepurpose of this Bill. Mr Speaker, a lot has been said as towhy the Information Officer must makeefforts to serve the applicant or transferthe application to another office and directthe person to go there. Rather than sayingthey cannot and the applicant will start allover to go and put in another application.That is even more burdensome than theOfficer who is supposed to do all thiswork. Mr Speaker, a lot has been said on thisclause so I invite you to put the Question. Baba Ahmed: Mr Speaker, it is true that,I have spoken a lot but there is the needfor me to react to some few things. For example, Hon Atta Akyea saidthat, he does not understand why thereshould be a worry when a person is beingasked to do his work. Every Ministry,especially, the Information Officers areprofessionals in their own stead and onecannot bring somebody who is an expertin energy to become a spokesperson onlabour. So, he may be a professional inlabour or energy affairs, et cetera. So, you ask him about energy matters,and you still want the information officerto do all those transfers et cetera. What Iam saying is that, if one can even minuteit for the person and give it back to theperson to go to where he will get theinformation, that is all right. As an Hon Member of Parliament, ifyou are asked about your constituency,you cannot say you do not haveinformation about it especially somethingyou supervise and you do not haveinformation about it? That is not what weare talking about. We are talking aboutpeople going to wrong places forinformation.
Mr Speaker, if the Public Officer is inthe Ministry of Energy and they are askedabout energy, they are under obligationto give it out. But if they are in the Ministryof Energy and they are asked about labourmatters, the best thing for the InformationOfficer is to advise the person to go tothe Ministry of Employment and LabourRelations. That is the point.
HonMember, the amendment that is beingproposed suggests that, if the informationis not within your custody, you transferthe application to the other publicinstitution and notify the applicantaccordingly. So, is what you are saying abouttransferring application the amendment?Hon Deputy Attorney-General, do I notunderstand what is happening? Baba Ahmed: Mr Speaker, it is theadditional problem that you imposed onthe Information Officer that we areagainst. The additional work to say theinformation officer should transfer theapplication to another Ministry and notifythe candidate. All that the InformationOfficer is to do, is to say ‘I do not have ithere' and advise the applicant to go wherethe information can be found instead oftransferring it, the information officershould notify the applicant to go there.That is the point.
I will putthe Question. There was a loud voiceshouting in the wilderness. Question put and amendment agreedto. Clause 21 as variously amendedordered to stand part of the Bill. Clause 22 -- Deferred access
Mr Speaker, I beg to movethat, clause 22 -- paragraph (a), delete. Mr Speaker, we believe that, as itstands in the Bill, it does not serve anyuseful purpose. So, we think that, wewould want to delete it.
HonChairman, your own amendment, I amputting the Question and you are not evenresponding to it. Question put and amendment agreedto.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move,that, Clause 22, paragraph (b), line 1,delete “which is required to be published”and insert “that will be available to thepublic institution”. Mr Speaker, we are just of the view that,that brings more clarity to that renditionthan is currently in the Bill. So, we are justdeleting “which is required to bepublished” and we are adding “that willbe available to the public institution”.
Hon W.O. Boafo?
Mr Speaker,I am a bit worried about this clause 2 (b). Mr Speaker, worry is the fact that it mayserve as a weapon to defeat a person whois seeking access to information by justtelling the person that the informationwould be available within 60 days or 90days so you have to wait. Meanwhile, heneeds the information urgently. So, it has the potential to defeat thepurpose of the Bill, given the immediate access to the information. It does notfavour applicants at all but rather it seeksto favour the public officials.
Mr Speaker, our position isthat the information is required to bepublished and maybe at the time you madethe application, the information had notbeen published. So, if the information hasnot been published then you cannotaccess it. That is the whole point. So, we say that: “that will be availableto the public institution”. So, when it isavailable to the public institution, thenyou would access it.
Yes, HonDeputy Attorney General and Minister forJustice?
Mr Speaker, the policyrationale behind this provision is simple.For instance, when a Commission ofEnquiry has been set up either by thePresident, by a Hon Minister or by anAgency, and it is in the process ofpreparing its Report for submission andinformation has been requested in respectof the work of the Commission, theInformation Officer can defer access tothe information until the publication of thereport of the Commission. It is important that, that happens,otherwise you would preempt the findingsof the Commission being published evenbefore the Commission has completed itswork. So, that is the policy rationalunderlying it. Mrs Ursula G. Ekuful -- rose --
Mr Speaker, if as the HonDeputy Minister is saying his explanationis the policy rationale, then he should beopposed to the amendment as proposedand not to support it. Mr Speaker, this isbecause the amendment is saying that theagency may defer access to theinformation if it is information that wouldbe available to the public institution. Anyand every information at all which wouldbe available to the public institution, theycan say under this clause that they woulddefer access to it. I do not think that thatis the intendment of the law. So, if the requirement of publication isnecessary for organisations or institu-tions like Commissions of Enquiry whichare in the process of publishing their work,then the original rendition would serve thepurpose and there would be no need forthe amendment as proposed. So, I do not think that we should agreeto this amendment, which would widenthe ambit of information that is likely tobe accessed and to which it is likely to bedeferred merely on the basis of the factthat, it is information that would beavailable to the public institution. No!Then the original rendition that it isrequired for publication within a certainperiod of time should remain.
Mr Speaker, I merely gavethe example of the Commission of EnquiryReport just to show or demonstrate thepolicy rationale. I was not saying that thiswas tailor-made for the purposes of thepreparation of reports of Commissions ofEnquiry. It was just an example, MrSpeaker. [BABA AHMED] [MR BOAFO]
I havebeen advised that we are ending at clause22 today and then we would pick anotheritem and rise before two o'clock. Do you want to discuss this a little bitas it seems to suggest that if informationhas not been published then it is notsubject to the Right to Information Bill?That is the import which means that theInformation Officer can just say that thishas not been published and whether ornot it is a publication process for all publicinformation. I am a little confused about this rightnow. Hon Deputy Attorney-General andDeputy Minister for Justice, this remindsme of clawback clauses -- You give withone hand and then you take with the otherhand. I do not know whether you want tospend a little more time to look at it.
Mr Speaker, I defer to yoursuperior directions and then we wouldtake a second look at it and come back. So, I do not know whether we shouldtake the last amendment of clause 22 orwe should also --
I think weshould suspend further consideration ofclause 22.
We are grateful, Mr Speaker.
I knowthat is not your intention but if you lookat it I am sure you would be able to give arendition. Hon Member, that brings us to the endof the Consideration Stage for the Rightto Information Bill, 2013 for today. Hon Deputy Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, we would goback to item numbered 7 whereafter thedebate, what is left is for the Question tobe put. Mr Speaker should put theQuestion based upon what we have earlierdiscussed -- Awaiting directives to begiven by Mr Speaker.
HonMinority Leader, is that the position? Has the debate concluded on itemnumbered 7? Am I putting the Question?
Mr Speaker,as I said in the morning, some consul-tations have gone on and I am awaitingthe final declaration from the Chair.Otherwise, I guess we could take it.
I cannothear you.
I said that wehad some consultations and on the basisof that, some formulation has been madeand I am hoping that it finds expression inthe consequential orders that may begiven.
I wouldput the Question. Mr Kingsley Aboagye-Gyedu -- rose --
Mr Speaker, I thinkthe House does not form a quorum.
Thankyou very much. You have told me and Ihave 10 minutes. The Standing Ordersgive me 10 minutes. Under what Order areyou coming?
Mr Speaker,Standing Order 48.
Couldyou read Standing Order 48 (2) to us?
Mr Speaker,Standing Order 48 and 109 jointly.
“If at the time of sitting a Membertakes notice or objection that thereare present in the House, besidesthe person presiding, less than one-third of the number of all theMembers of Parliament, and after aninterval of ten minutes a quorum isnot present, the person presidingshall adjourn the House withoutQuestion put until the next sittingday.”
I couldnot agree with you more. In fact, I am onall fours with you but from the time youraised it to the time the automatic -- Infact, it is a directive that I have ten minutes.The law then says that I should standbyfor ten minutes -- Yes, Hon Nitiwul?
But Mr Speaker,with all due respect, I thought that youshould not put the Question until you waitfor the 10 minutes.
“No Question for decision in theHouse shall be proposed fordetermination unless there arepresent in the House not less thanone-half of all the Members of theHouse, and, except otherwiseprovided in the Constitution, theQuestion proposed shall bedetermined by the majority of thevotes of the Members present andvoting.”
Hon Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, is the 10 minutes periodfor us to stay proceedings or continue?
Mr Speaker,with respect, I was not really following.
Withregard to Order 48 (1) and Order 48 (2), ifsomebody raises a question of quorum,does that stay proceedings during the 10minutes period? Do we not do anythingbut continue proceedings?
Mr Speaker, after Order 48was raised and we have 10 minutes withinwhich to take a decision whether toadjourn the House or otherwise, withinthe 10 minutes, Business continues. Thematter has been raised, we would continueto work until the tenth minute, then youwould take the decision whether we havethe number to continue or to adjourn. Wewould continue the Business until thetenth minute.
Mr Speaker, there areconditions precedent to this. After 2.00p.m., the decision is yours. And so, I amtalking, while I am looking at the time. Thedecision for adjournment is yours. When the Hon Member raisedStanding Order 48, he was correct. Butwe have to wait for 10 minutes. In theevent that after10 minutes, the Clerks-at-the-table counts and we still do not getthe number, they would advise you andyou can adjourn the House. But when a person raises Order 109 andchallenges that particular one, then at thatparticular time, we can find out whetherthe numbers are here or not.
Thank you so much,Mr Speaker. My Hon Colleague came under Order48. [Interruption.] He did not mentionOrder 109. Mr Speaker, Order 109 was asubsequent Order under which my HonColleague came. But as of the time he cameunder Order 48, you had taken a decisionalready and the decision was that, youhad put the Question to a voice vote. Ithink he coming under Order 109 was anafterthought, at which time a decision hadbeen taken already. Mr Speaker, if you look at StandingOrder 48, it did not state that the Speakerwithin that period of 10 minutes wouldhave to stay proceedings. Therefore, Ithink that the Motion has been carried,there was a Vote and the Question wasput. We have gone beyond that and so ifindeed, there is anything that could bedone, then, it is a matter of theinterpretation of Order 48, which wouldbe an aftermath of a decision that hadalready been made. Mr Speaker, indeed, if you examineOrder 48 critically against Order 109 andyou think there is the need for us to go bythe trajectory of my Hon Colleague, thatis it. But the decision had already beentaken.
HonMembers, having regard to the state ofBusiness in this House, I direct that Sittingbe held beyond the prescribed period.And it is just for the purpose of agreeingon whether we should continue theMotion. I would recognise the Hon Memberwho rose, afterwards, I would recognisethe Hon Member for Roads and Highways. Yes, Hon Member?
Mr Speaker, with alldue respect, we were all in the House whenmy Colleague rose to speak. He came byOrder 48. In the course of his statement,he then mentioned that he wanted to comeunder Order 109 as well at the time thatyou wanted to put the Voice vote. You didnot even allow him to complete hisstatement. So, I believe that, my Colleague wasright in coming by Order 48 and Order 109jointly. I believe that, if you had allowedmy Colleague to complete his statement,you would have realised that, with duerespect, you could not have put the VoiceVote.
Thankyou. Hon Minister for Roads andHighways?
MrSpeaker, that is my predicament. MrSpeaker appears to have been in full flight.And I do not know whether it was properto be arrested while you were in flight bya Motion. Mr Speaker, this is my concern and Ithought having taken off, you ought notto have been compelled to crash land. Andthat is what the Hon Member did to force you to put the Question at one Side of theHouse and fail to put the Question on theother Side. So, the process is left hanging.It is a hanging decision. Mr Speaker, in my opinion, the way togo about was to complete and thenprobably, other Motions would follow.But I need guidance because it appearsthat Mr Speaker had taken off to put theQuestion. What then becomes theposition of the Question that you put? Isit the nullity ab initio? How do youbalance out the Question that you put andthe votes against the Question that youdid not put? That is the question. Probably, it is more nagging thanmeets the eye. I thought in situations likethis, the process of putting the Questionshould have been completed and thenother Motions would follow. The rules ofParliament make provisions for where aperson is dissatisfied or has reasons tobelieve that the votes do not reflect thequorum of the House to ask for otherthings to be done. It is there. Mr Speaker, so, probably, you oughtnot to have succumbed to an attempt toforce you to crash land. I do not knowwhether your nose is still at where it is orwhether it is still bleeding since the crashlanding was serious.
HonMember for Ablekuma West?
Mr Speaker,the first time my attention was drawn toOrder 109 was just before we rose for therecess during the last Meeting of theHouse during the consideration of somematter to do with a loan the House wasconsidering for the Ghana Cocoa Board(COCOBOD). At the time, a head count had actuallybeen undertaken. We were waiting for theresult of the headcount, then the Speakerannounced to the House that in view ofOrder 109, even after the fact that wehad gone through the laborious processof the voice vote and the headcount, theresult of the headcount indicated that wedo not have the numbers to take thedecision in the House. So, he abortedand truncated the whole process. If we were talking about crash landing,Mr Speaker, then I believe we crashlanded there even though we were alreadyin full flight and had put half the Question. A situation would also prevail that onceyour attention has been drawn to the factthat, we do not have the requisitenumbers in the House to take a decision,you cannot ignore that knowledge thatyour attention has been drawn to. Andyou necessarily might have to just acceptthe situation and abort and truncate theentire process as was done previously.
Mr Speaker, I rose tocorrect an impression. The incidence theHon Member for Ablekuma West isreferring to went through the completecycle. Nothing was aborted or truncated.When it went through the cycle and thecount was done, it became void ab initiobecause we did have the numbers. Butnothing was aborted and nothing wastruncated. So, Mr Speaker ought not to havebeen arrested in full flight. The processought to have been completed and thenprobably the proper thing would havebeen done. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker,as I indicated earlier, some consultationshad gone on behind the curtain and Iknow that in this House, when it comes todealing with Bills and such matters, withthe understanding of Hon Members, weoften assume that we have the numbersto take the vote. Even though admittedly, the numbersat that time did not measure up, I stillthought nobody was going to raise issuesabout numbers and then Mr Speakercould have assumed that as we began, westill had the numbers to vote. But if as has happened, somebodyraises it, then it cannot be ignored. I amseeing some improvement in numbers.So, if we are up to, maybe, Mr Speakercould put the Question. I am looking atthe numbers trooping in and I guesssufficient numbers have entered theChamber now. I am not too sure but Ibelieve we have sufficient numbers. But we may have to depend on theClerks-at-the-Table to see whether wehave the numbers. Otherwise, once thematter has been raised, the Chair cannotignore it.
Mr Speaker, when wewere talking about the Standing Orderswhether it is 48 or 109, I think we havesome appreciable numbers walking in. Ido not know whether we are mindful to beable to carry out the Business. This isbecause, I have been told that, some arestill at Committee meetings. So, we havecalled for them to come in to see whetherthat could help to complete the decision. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Veryinteresting points have been raised byHon Members and I would give a rulingwithin one minute. -- [Pause] -- Hon Members, the analogy of the HonMinister for Roads and Highways (AlhajiInusah Fuseini) that what has happenedtoday amounts to a crash landing by theHon Speaker is a very interesting analogy. To recall what happened, the Housemoved to item numbered 7 on the OrderPaper on the advice of the Hon DeputyMajority Leader. The purpose of itemnumber 7 was that, a Question was to beput. I started putting the Question andasked, “Those who are in favour say aye”and I believe as they were saying “aye”or after they said “aye”, I saw HonAboagye-Gyedu on his feet. I recognised Hon Aboagye-Gyedu,thinking that he had something to sayabout the Motion that was moresubstantive in nature. But he exercised hisright under the Standing Orders and rathercame on the question of procedure,drawing my attention to Order 48 andsubsequent to that, Order 109. Hon Members, two questions arose.The first question is, as was described bythe Hon Minister for Roads andHighways, Alhaji Fuseini, was I in suchserious flight that to do otherwise,would amount to crash landing? Hon Members, I am of the consideredview that the Hon Speaker is not capableof crash landing. I am of the view that theprocedure is in the bosom of the Speakerand it is the duty of the Speaker tointerpret it in order to further democracy.That was why I recognised Hon Aboagye-Gyedu. So, I am still in flight and by theend of it, we would know whether I wouldland smoothly or the landing would be alittle rough. Order 48 says that an Hon Member canraise a question of quorum. Then we have10 minutes to find out whether the quorumis present. Another question that has beenasked is whether during that 10 minutesperiod, we can continue to do business. I am of the view that, we can continue todo business but I would not be minded totake a decision during that 10 minutes'period. So, Hon Members, the 10 minuteshas passed. I want to ask whether we havesufficient numbers to take the decision. Hon Members, unless I am otherwiseconvinced, I take the view that, we havea quorum. So, I would put the Question-- Yes, Hon Member?
Mr Speaker,thank you for the opportunity. I rise on Order 113 (2), which gives anyHon Member the opportunity to call for aheadcount or division if the opinion onthe --
HonMember, we have not got to that yet. Theten minutes have elapsed, the Clerks-at-the-Table have not advised me to thecontrary. So, I would put the Question.
Mr Speaker, I did notfinish my statement, please.
HonMember, I have not recognised you.
HonMembers, this Motion has a history, andit has arisen out of consensus by bothsides of the House. The House has agreedthat, certain consequential directives begiven. Hon Members, I accordingly givethose directives. The work programme is approvedbecause the Motion has been carried, butthis is subject to GNPC providing furtherdetails on the following expenditure itemsin the corporation's 2016 budget and workprogramme, the items being the new HeadOffice building including its location andthe guarantee for Karpower ship. Hon Members, I am therefore, directingGNPC to submit details of the above tothe House, latest by Friday, 17th June,2016. Additionally, this House servesnotice and notice is hereby served onGNPC that henceforth, the House woulddemand and approve their programme ofactivities before their budget for theensuing year is approved. Thank you very much, Hon Members.Hear! Hear! Is there any other item?
No, Mr Speaker. We are inyour hands.
Hon Minister forPetroleum?
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I would like to thank HonMembers for their approval and to saythat I have taken note of the directivesthat have been given to GNPC and I willensure that they are carried out. Thank you.