Hon Members, the Writ of Election in respect of the Talensi Constituency by-election has been received from the Electoral Commission, and I intend to read it. SPACE FOR PAGE 2 - SPACE FOR PAGE 3 -
Hon Members, may I now invite the Hon Member-elect to please, come forward to take the Oath of Allegiance and the Oath of a Member of Parliament. (Administered by Mr Speaker.)
Hon Members, the practice of the House is that, on occasions like this, when a new Member of Parliament is elected through a by- election of this nature, we invite brief comments from the Leaders. Therefore, in line with the practice of this Honourable House, I would invite the Hon Minority Leader to make his comments, if any.
Mr Speaker, I think the invitation -- [Interruption.]
Are you the Hon Minority Leader?[Interruptions.]
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minority Leader has asked me to deliver the speech on his behalf because he just entered the House. Mr Speaker, he has won and there is no debate about his victory. Let me say that he contested on the ticket of a party but he is now a Member of Parliament for all the people of Talensi. [Uproar.] So, I would want to urge him, that in carrying out his duty as a Member of Parliament for the people of Talensi, he should be an all embracing person irrespective of which political party the person who approaches him comes from. Mr Speaker, he should also be reminded that, yes, he is representing the people of Talensi but he has a national duty. Most of the businesses we do here are not specifically constituency-related; some of them are of national character and he should be mindful of them, so that the national interest would also be paramount in whatever he does. Unfortunately for him, he may not have the luxury of being here for four years before he goes back to the people for re- election. [Interruption.] It means that within this one and a half years that he has to be in this Chamber, he would have to work extra hard, so that the people who elected him, perhaps, would one day offer him another opportunity. Mr Speaker, I have also seen in the public gallery that the people of his former workplace are here -- the Ghana Prisons Service. [Hear! Hear!] I would want to believe that members of the Ghana Olympic Committee (GOC) are equally here. It tells him that the stakeholders and people who are interested in him becoming a Member of Parliament are not just his constituents but that there are other people who are equally interested in what he does. So, it means that he would have to work hard to be able to justify the kind of confidence and interest they have in him becoming a Member of Parliament. I pray SPACE FOR PAGE 4 -
and believe that he would be able to live up to the task. Mr Speaker, on this note, I would want to welcome him to this House and hope that we would have a fruitful business together. Thank you.
Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, let me also add my voice in welcoming the latest, freshest and newest Member of Parliament, Hon B. T. Baba. Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu — rose —
Yes, Hon Minority Leader?
On a point of order.
Hon Minority Leader, can you use a different example?
Mr Speaker, it is a factual inexactitude. Mr Speaker, let the Hon Majority Leader correct himself. That cannot stand the records of this country.
Mr Speaker, my Hon Colleague was simply comparing bananas to oranges. The law on the two positions are very different and our Constitution is clear on a substantive position and somebody in an acting position and that is what I am referring to. Mr Speaker, I am aware that the Hon Member for Talensi was a Deputy Director- General of the Ghana Prisons Service, together with Mr Richard Kuuire when Mr Danyagri was the Director-General. After the untimely death of Mr Danyagri, Mr Kuuire became the Director-General. Hon Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu -- rose --
On a point of order. Mr Speaker, with respect to the Hon Majority Leader, he has succeeded in being very circuitous about the simple issue that I raised. [Laughter.] So, does his acting as a Director-General transform him into a substantive Director-General? [Interruption] That is the question and the answer is no. So, that is an incorrect statement that he alludes to. Mr Kuuire was married to a woman that I know very well and they are in the United States of America -- [Laughter.] The one who comes after that woman gave birth to a woman who is an assembly woman in my constituency and I know that for a fact. I know Mr Kuuire was a mate at the Ghana Law School with Mr Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie (Sir John), the former General Secretary of the New Patriotic Party (NPP). He was a mate to Kofi Dua Adonteng, the former Director- General of Ghana Post Limited. I know all that.
Mr Speaker, after my Hon Colleague has indulged in a lot of irrelevancies -- [Laughter.] -- he has now informed all of us that he has found his feet which he lost -- [Interruption] Hon Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu -- rose -
Hon Members, I would want to find out from the two Leaders what is happening this morning -- [Laughter.]
Mr Speaker, whereas I am relating to facts, the Hon Majority Leader who cannot justify the use of the word “Director-General” in respect of the latest Hon Member of Parliament, has said to me that I was engaging in irrelevancies. Mr Speaker, that is very offensive. [Interruption.] Yes, it is very offensive. May I ask him to withdraw that word he used on me? It was not an irrelevancy. It was a point of exactitude.
Is it the use of the word “irrelevant” that is your problem?
That is my problem.
But it is for me to decide if the Hon Member says that you have said something which is irrelevant or not to the issue at stake.
The applica- tion exactly --
It is for the Speaker to rule whether what you said is irrelevant to the issue before the House or not. I rule on that --
Mr Speaker, the application has been made.
And I do not intend to rule on the matter -- [Laughter.]
Mr Speaker, you do not intend to rule?
Yes, I do not intend to rule on the matter.
Mr Speaker, thank you very much.
But I thought that there was something else that you were going to use which you did not -- Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, thank you very much. But be reminded that I am taking a cue.
Hon Minority Leader, you know very well that an issue of irrelevancy is an issue of breaching the
rules. It is an issue of order. He has made a point and I have not ruled on the matter. So, while I have not ruled on the matter, there is nothing for you to complain about. So, Hon Majority Leader? Very well, I would take it as an observation. I will leave it at that. Hon Majority Leader?
Thank you, Mr Speaker. There was no intention to offend my Hon Colleague, the Hon Minority Leader who is a very good Friend of mine. [Laughter.]
Hon Majority Leader, is it a statement of fact or we should take it on the lighter side? This is a House of records and it is a very serious statement. Is it a statement of fact or we should take it on a lighter note, Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, there are so many ways -- [Interruption] -- No, not to kill a cat -- [Laughter] of supporting a friend. I definitely was not in his constituency and was nowhere near even Kumasi. I was far away in the Upper West Region. But at least, the good Lord answered my prayers -- [Laughter.] He is assured of contesting the next election. Mr Speaker, it is important for us to use this opportunity to give an idea to the people of this country why this whole exercise took place. I say so because we now have a very vibrant press and we have a lot of social commentators. We have media analysts and sometimes, the discussions turn into a cacophony that confuse our people. It would be recalled that, one of the most hardworking and highly respected Members of Parliament in the person of Hon Robert Nachinab Mosore was the Member of Parliament for the Talensi Constituency. His people saw good in him and thought that he could lead the paramountcy as their chief. So, he was recalled to assume that position. By the Constitution, he was compelled to resign from the House. When he so resigned, by the same Constitution, the Electoral Commission had only 30 days to organise a by-election. This is different from the other by-elections where the Electoral Commission had 60 days. This is what took place within the 30 days. I personally participated in the campaigns and I can, without a shadow of doubt, say that throughout the campaign, it was very peaceful, cordial, friendly and harmonious. It was only during the course of the voting on the 7thof July, 2015 that a few incidents occurred. Mr Speaker, I think the political parties did well during the course of the campaign, but for the last minute, which was during the voting process. It was, particularly, not at the polling stations, but outside, where there were some mis- information and propaganda, and tempers flared up. Mr Speaker, that led to some unfortunate incidents that we should all condemn. Be it as it may, it ended up with the victory of Hon B.T. Baba. Mr Speaker, I would prefer to say that he has a few months to show his method. Being in the House is not an opportunity of luxury. So, I differ from my Hon Colleague, the Hon Deputy Minority Whip. It is really an ordeal to serve your people because it is not easy to satisfy a human being. Truly, when you want to know whether people like you, go to the polls. The people have shown that they have some trust in him, they have seen he has the capacity and they have given him the opportunity to serve them. Mr Speaker, I would want to advise him that he should not disappoint the people. Since he has only a few days to show what he is made of, he would need to work harder than all of us. Not only has he got to catch up with the business of the House, he has got to be prolific in his constituency and show that come 2016, he is worthy of their mandate again. So, I believe strongly that our Hon Colleague should take this on board. Mr Speaker, he should not forget that before him were other Hon Members of Parliament, particularly one of my classmates and a Colleage, Hon John Akologu Tia, who is now the Ambassador to Canada -- [Interruptions] -- Mr Speaker, it is a slip of both my mind and tongue. He is the Ambassador to Cuba, and not Canada. Mr Speaker, I have spotted him in the distinguished persons' Gallery. After him, we had the Hon Robert Nachinab Mosore as I stated. Therefore, for him to succeed, he would need their blessings and support. So, he should not forget to show some gratitude and respect to them, as they are seniors to him. Mr Speaker, I would not be the one to advise him on how to take on board our most revered chiefs, elders and Tindaabas of the Talensi Constituency. They are really the custodians of the land, and for any Hon Member of Parliament to succeed, he must be able to gel into their expectations. Mr Speaker, I am so happy that we have such a respected large durbar of chiefs and traditional leaders from the constituency. This is evident of the support that they have given to the Hon B.T. Baba. I believe that he would not disappoint them. [Hear! Hear!] We are here to put him in order, if he should so do. Please, Parliament is here to serve all of you. So, Mr Speaker, let me also welcome him to the hot seat of Parliament, and to let him know that he would not have any honeymoon. He has to get straight to work. I have known him since the 1980s and I am sure that he would not disappoint Ghanaians. Mr Speaker, with these few words, I would welcome him.
Hon Members, let me also take the opportunity to congratulate the Hon Member for Talensi, Mr Benson Tongo Baba, on his assumption to the office of an Hon Member of this Honourable House. A lot has already been said by the Hon Leaders. I would, however, want to encourage the Hon Member to approach his work with due diligence. The work of an Hon Member of Parliament is not only limited to the plenary session of this House. It includes committee sittings, which offer the opportunity to learn and to contribute to
the work of the House. Indeed, the House works through its committees. Indeed, through committee sittings and other undertakings in this House, you might find out that one of your best friends might even come from the opposite side of the House. Let me also draw the Hon Member's attention to a piece of advice that we were given when we were sworn in some years back by the late Justice D. F. Annan, the Rt Hon Speaker of the First and Second Parliaments of the Fourth Republic. That has been well captured in the contribution of the Hon Deputy Minority Whip. The advice is that, you represent not only those who voted for you, but everybody -- those who voted for you and those who did not. You represent everybody's interest in that constituency. I can assure you that if you approach your work with that at the back of your mind, you may not have so many problems in your constituency. Once again, congratulations and welcome to this House; I would not say welcome to the club.
Hone Members, I have the pleasure to introduce to you two distinguished delegations visiting us on different missions. We have the Speaker of the Pan African Parliament, H. E. Mr Roger Nkodo Dang, who is on a three-day official visit to Ghana, as his first point of call following his successful election to the post. He is accompanied by the Sergeant at Arms of the Pan African Parliament, Maj. Kenneth Akibate (retd), who happens to be a former Deputy Marshal of this Parliament. The other delegation is from the Public Accounts Committee of the National Assembly of the Republic of The Gambia who are on a five-day study visit to Ghana. They are here to benchmark best practices and share experiences in the area of the budget review process, scrutiny and oversight. The visit is also intended to create the platform to deepen the already cordial relations between the two Houses. The delegation comprises the following: Hon Fatou Mbye -- Deputy Speaker and Leader Hon Sulayman Joof -- Member Hon Bafai Saidykhan -- Member Hon Ousman Bah -- Member Hon Ousainou Sainey Jaiteh -- Member Hon Pallamin Jatta -- Member Hon Ousman Njie -- Staff Alhaji T. S. A Njie -- Staff Mr Kalipha M. M. Mbye -- Staff Ms JainabaTrawally -- Staff Hon Members, on your behalf and indeed, on my behalf, I wish them a pleasant stay in the country.
VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS AND THE OFFICIAL REPORT
Hon Members, we now move to item number 3 on the Order Paper -- Correction of Votes and Proceedings and the Official Report. We start with the correction of Votes and Proceedings of Friday, 10th July, 2015. Page 1,2…13 --
Mr Speaker, I was present on Friday but I have been marked absent and my name is captured on page 6, number 22.
Very well. Page 13,14,15 -- Yes?
Mr Speaker, I was present on Friday but my name is strangely missing. It is supposed to be on page 4.
What are you correcting?
My name is missing. I was present on Friday.
Very well. Hon Members, the Votes and Procee- dings of Friday, 10th July, 2015 as corrected be adopted as the true record of proceedings. We have the Official Report of Wednesday, 8th July, 2015 for correction.
Mr Speaker, column 2370, my second contribution, I said “National Electricity Distribution” not “Development”. My second sentence: “Mr Speaker, I know that there is National Electricity Distribution Company” not “Development”.
Very well. Any other correction? Hon Members, in the absence of any further correction, the Official Report of Wednesday, 8th July, 2015 as corrected be adopted as the true record of proceedings. Question time. Item number 4. Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I wanted us to alter the Order of Business to lay some Papers and do some work before we come to the Questions. The Urgent Question which stands in the name of Mr Osei Bonsu Amoah is to the Hon Minister for Local Government and Rural Development. Mr Speaker, I have just been informed that the Hon Minister himself is out of the country but his deputy is on his way to come and respond to the Question. We could give him a few minutes to come and respond to the Question while we deal with the other businesses. I think after that, I personally would have to take up this matter with the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development the issue of timeliness and also submission of Answers to Questions that have been posed by Hon Members. I have seen some laxity in that direction so far as that Ministry is concerned, that is why I am putting this on record. So, subject to your convenience, I would want to come under Standing Order 53 (2) to ask for your leave, for us to vary the Order of Business, and when the Hon Deputy Minister comes, we would say a few things to his hearing, so that he could take it to the Ministry for them to be a bit responsive to the queries from this House.
Well, there are two issues that you are raising. You made an application under Standing Order 53 (2), so that we vary the Order of Business, then also the issue of waiting for the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development as regards the Questions captured on the Order Paper. And you said, you reserve your comments, when the Hon Deputy Minister or whoever would represent the Ministry comes then you would -- When the Minister comes, after listening to your comments, you would also hear my comments. This is because I am getting disappointed in that Ministry, to say the least. Even if you want to vary the Order of Business, the least is to have the Answers. The Answers are not even here and I would wait at the appropriate time. Hon Members, we have varied the Order of Business so, what items are we taking? Are we laying the Papers? Very well. Hon Members, at the commencement of Public Business, presentation of Papers. Item number 7 on the Order Paper. Are we starting with 7 (a), Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, the Minister for Power is in and we can start with item 7 (a).
Very well. Hon Members, Item number 7 (a) by the Hon Minister for Power. Item 7 (a) (i)?
Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, with your kind permission, I would want the Hon Deputy Minister for Finance to lay the Agreement captured as item 7 (b), for and on behalf of the Hon Minister for Finance, who is outside the country representing us at Addis Ababa. The Hon Deputy Minister is around to lay --
Hon Minority Leader, an application has been made to have the Hon Deputy Minister for Finance lay the Paper on behalf of the substantive Minister, who, we are told, is out of the jurisdiction.
Mr Speaker, in principle, nothing against that. But I heard my Hon Colleague wanted to raise something before the Paper is laid. If that is right, then maybe --
Mr Speaker, I would want to seek clarification on the Paper. If you look at the last line, there is an abnormality --
The one that my Hon Friend is about to lay. It talks about “… for the years 2014 through 2016.” Mr Speaker, something in 2016 has not happened and it is being brought here. I do not know if it is a mistake. We cannot be asked to look at something in 2016. It is an abnormality. So, I would want to seek clarification from the Hon Minister -- 2016.
Mr Speaker, it is a request for ratification of tax exemption pro- visions in the framework agreement, and framework arrangement between the Government of the Republic of Ghana and the Government of the Republic of Korea concerning loans from the Economic Development Cooperation Fund for the years 2014 through 2016. It is a request, so that we can examine for the period 2014 to 2016. So--
The point he is making is that, how do we ratify tax exemption? It is the Agreement that we have to ratify and if in that Agreement there is a tax exemption, you ratify the Agreement together with what it contains. You do not ratify tax exemption. The way it has been captured --
Mr Speaker, we have not reached that stage yet. When we reach there, we can raise those issues. But the Paper is to be laid. When it is laid and we take hold of it and we read and see these issues, then we would raise them. That is why the Paper is being brought. But now, it is not yet before us and so, we cannot start debating it. Let it come first and then --
Ordinarily, that is my attitude, that at a laying stage, you do not make comments on it. Let the Paper go to the Committee and let the Committee
Mr Speaker, I indicated earlier that we would not have any problem with the Hon Deputy Minister. But then to come back to the issue, our Standing Orders provide that in laying a Paper, if it becomes necessary for an explanation to be given, it could come from the person laying the Paper.
Hon Minority Leader, the rules say that if the Hon Member laying wants to -- So, the discretion is vested in the Hon Minister or the Hon Member laying the Paper and not the other way round. Somebody cannot force him to give an explanation.
Mr Speaker, I said the person laying the Paper --
Yes, but you would decide whether you want to offer any explanation.
That is what I have said. I said “he could offer some explanations.”
The point is, in offering the explanation, if the House believes that the wrong thing is being done, could it not be stopped at that point? Do we then have to refer the matter to the Committee before the Committee comes with a report?
You know that ordinarily, the House works through its committees. So, let us refer it to the Committee and let the Committee advise us. But the way it has been captured on the Order Paper is problematic -- on the face of it. So, let them go and get the content and then advise the House. Item number 7 (b), Hon Deputy Minister, on behalf of your Hon Minister. By the Deputy Minister for Finance (Mr Cassiel Ato Baah Forson)(on behalf of the Hon Minister for Finance -- Request for Ratification of Tax Exemption Provisions in the Framework Agreement and Frame- work Arrangement between the Government of the Republic of Ghana and the Government of the Republic of Korea concerning Loans from the Economic Develop- ment Cooperation Fund for the years 2014 through 2016. Referred to the Committee on Finance.
Item number 7 (c) by the Hon Minister for Transport. Item (d) by the Hon Minister for Lands and Natural Resources. Item 7 (d) (i)? By the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources -- (i) Revised Investment Agreement to replace the 2003 Investment Agreement between the Govern- ment of the Republic of Ghana, Newmont Ghana Gold Limited and Newmont Golden Ridge Limited (NGGL) relating to its operations in Ghana. Referred to the Committee on Mines and Energy. (ii) Mining Lease Agreement bet- ween the Government of the Republic of Ghana and Adamus Resources Limited (Salman and Anwia Teleku Bokazo). (iii)Mining Lease Agreement bet- ween the Government of the Republic of Ghana and Akanko Mining Limited (Akanko). (iv) Mining Lease Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Ghana and Central Ashanti Gold Limited (Ayanfuri and Nanankwa). (v) Mining Lease Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Ghana and Newmont Golden Ridge Limited (Akyem East and Akyem West). (vi) Mining Lease Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Ghana and Nevsun Resources Limited (Kubi). (vii) Mining Lease Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Ghana and Nsuta Gold Mining Limited (Nsuta). (viii) Mining Lease Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Ghana and Xtra-Gold Mining Limited (Apapam). Referred to the Committee on Mines and Energy. By the Majority Leader and Leader of the House -- Annual Report and Audited Accounts of the National Development Planning Commission for the year ended 2014.
Which Committee handles this, Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, the National Development Planning Commission is under the Office of the President, but their Business in the House is handled by the Finance Committee. --
No! It is not the Committee on Poverty Reduction. The Committee on Poverty Reduction Strategy deals with only what we just stated -- “Poverty Reduction”. But not dealing with planning. That is why when our Colleagues in opposition were in power, they called the Ministry the “Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning”, and when we are in power, we call it the “Ministry of Finance.” So, Mr Speaker, I think that is the proper Committee to handle it and not the Committee on Poverty Reduction Strategy.
But the Annual Progress Report from the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC) is normally handled by the Poverty Reduction Committee. Yes, Hon Minority Leader, then I will come to the Hon Member for Sekondi.
Mr Speaker, I believe the Hon Majority Leader is right. By our Standing Orders and Order 169 provides: “The Committee on Finance shall be composed of twenty-five Members, to which shall be referred Bills, inquiries and other matters relating to finance and the economy generally.” Mr Speaker, I believe this is the proper place. I have always insisted that when the Finance Committee submits reports, they usually deal with the terms and conditions of Agreements, especially loan agreements which are submitted to them. They fail to deal with the effects of the loan on the economy generally. Mr Speaker, I believe this is the proper home for it, except as you know, moving forward, we have agreed that we create a committee on the economy and national development. If we get there, that would be --
Which committee handles the annual estimates? Is it Finance? Very well. Referred to the Finance Committee By the Chairman of the Committee -- (i) Report of the Committee on Trade, Industry and Tourism on the Convention on the Protec- tion and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (Paris, 20th October, 2005). (ii) Report of the Committee on Trade, Industry and Tourism on the Convention for the Safe- guarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (Paris, 17th October, 2005). (iii)Report of the Committee on Trade, Industry and Tourism on the Convention on the Protec- tion of Underwater Cultural Heritage (Paris, 2nd November, 2001). (iv) Report of the Committee on Trade, Industry and Tourism on the UNIDROIT Convention on Stolen or Illegally Exported Cultural Objects (Rome, 24th June, 1995). (v) Report of the Committee on Trade, Industry and Tourism on the Convention for the Protection of Producers of Phonograms against Unau- thorised Duplication of their Phonograms (Geneva, 29 th October, 1971). (vi) Report of the Committee on Trade, Industry and Tourism on the Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property (Paris, 14th November, 1970). (vii) Report of the Committee on Trade, Industry and Tourism on the Convention on the Protec- tion of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict with Regulation for the Execution of the Convention (The Hague, 14th May, 1954). (i) Report of the Finance Committee on the Terms of a Receivables backed Trade Finance Facility between Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) and a Consortium of Banks and Financial Institu- tions, with the Government of the Republic of Ghana as Guarantor, for an amount of US$1,800,000,000.00 for the purchase of cocoa beans in Ghana for the 2015/2016 crop season. (ii) Report of the Finance Committee on the request for waiver of stamp duty amounting to US$18,000,000.00 on an Offshore Syndicated Receivables-Backed Trade Finance Facility of US$1,800,000,000.00 for cocoa purchases by Ghana Cocoa Board for the year 2015/2016 crop season. (iii)Report of the Finance Committee on the Convention between the Republic of Ghana and the Kingdom of Denmark for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with Respect to Taxes on Income and on Capital Gains
Mr Speaker, on item number 7(c), with your kind permission, could the Hon Minister for Defence --
I called that item and nobody was standing to lay it.
Mr Speaker, my attention has been drawn to it. And so, I sought the support of my Hon Colleague, the former Majority Leader of the House and now the Hon Minister for Defence to do so on behalf of the Minister for Transport.
Very well. Hon Minority Leader, they want the Hon Minister for Defence to lay the Paper on behalf of the Minister for Transport?
Mr Speaker, it is accepted. By the Minister for Defence (Dr Benjamin B. Kunbuor) (on behalf of the Minister for Transport) -- International Convention for the Convention for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water and Sediment, 2004.
The Paper is duly laid-- it is referred to the Committee on Transport. Is that the name of the Committee, Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, the name is Committee on Roads and Transport.
Very well. The Paper is duly laid. Referred to the Committee on Roads and Transport. 11. 15 a.m.
Are we taking item number 8, Hon Majority Leader?
That is so, Mr Speaker. With your kind permission, the Hon Deputy Minister for Finance would take the First Reading on behalf of the Minister for Finance.
Hon Members, item number 8, Presentation and First Reading of Bills.
BILLS -- FIRST READING
Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, we could take item number 9, the Motion. The indication from the Chairman of the Committee is that they are ready to move that Motion.
What item are we taking?
Mr Speaker, item number 9.
Very well. Item number 9 on the Order Paper. Chairman of the Committee?
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion. Question put and Motion agreed to. Resolved accordingly.
Item number 10, Chairman of the Committee. Report of the Committee on Food, Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs on the outbreak of Avian Influenza in Ghana
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that this Honourable House adopts the Report of the Committee on Food, Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs on the outbreak of Avian Influenza in Ghana Mr Speaker, in doing so, I would like to present your Committee's Report. Introduction Pursuant to article 103 (3) of the 1992 Constitution and Order 176 of the Standing Orders of the House, Mr Speaker directed the Committee on Food, Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs to conduct an enquiry into the outbreak of the Avian Influenza in Ghana and to make recommendations to the House for the funding of an emergency response to combat the outbreak. The directive followed a Statement made by the Chairman of the Committee on Food, Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs, Hon Gabriel Kodwo Essilfie, on 2nd July, 2015, drawing the attention of the House to the outbreak of the Avian influenza and the challenges confronting the Ministry of Food and Agriculture in dealing with the outbreak. The Committee subsequently met with key stakeholders on the 3rd, 6th and 7th July, 2015 and deliberated on the outbreak. The Committee is grateful to the Deputy Minister in charge of livestock in the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Hon Hanna Louisa Bissiw, the Chief Director of the Ministry and Mr Ken Quartey of the Ghana National Poultry Farmers Association for their input. Reference Materials In considering the referral, the Committee made reference to the following documents: i. The 1992 Constitution of Ghana. ii. The Standing Orders of the Parliament of Ghana. Methodology In order to provide the House with detailed and concise information on the outbreak, the Committee decided to adopt the following methodologies: i. Enquire into the nature of the disease and the extent of the spread. ii. Enquire into previous outbreaks and lessons learned. iii. Enquire into measures consi- dered by the Ministry to control the outbreak and funding requirements. iv. Draw observations and re- commendations. v. Conclusion. The Nature of the Disease and Extent of the Spread The Avian influenza, commonly known as Bird Flu is an infectious viral disease of birds. Most of these viruses do not affect humans, but other viruses such as A (H5N1) and A (H7N9), can cause serious infections in humans. The disease is transmitted to humans through direct or indirect contact with infected live or dead birds. There is no evidence however, that the disease can spread to people through properly cooked poultry and poultry products. Controlling the disease in birds is always the first step in decreasing the risk of infection to humans. The disease was first reported in the West African Sub-region in 2006 with Ghana reporting its first case in 2007. The disease re-emerged in the Sub-region in 2014, with Nigeria reporting the first case in December, 2014. This was followed by outbreaks in Niger, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast and Ghana. Ghana confirmed her first case on a farm in the Greater -Accra Region on 12th May, 2015. Thereafter, there have been confirmed cases in two other regions namely Volta and Ashanti. Previous outbreak and lessons learned As indicated earlier, the last outbreak of the disease in Ghana was in 2007, which was brought under control in 2008. In responding to the outbreak in 2007, the Committee was informed that there was inter-sectorial collaboration, especially between the Ministry and the Information Services Department (ISD) of the then Ministry of Information, in disseminating information to farmers and the public. The use of information vans with public address systems of the Information Services Department went a long way in increasing awareness of the disease. In addition, Government guaranteed the payment of compensation to all affected farmers. The payment of compensation encouraged farmers to report early signs of the disease without fear of possible destruction of their birds and the attendant loss of revenues. During the 2007 outbreak, the European Union (EU) and other development partners donated fourteen (14) pickups, three (3) cross country vehicles, one hundred and thirty-five (135) motorbikes and other logistical items to support the exercise. The Emergency Plan and Funding Requirements The Committee noted that a detailed and comprehensive nationwide Emergency Plan and Funding (Budgetary) require-ments have been prepared by the Ministry to deal with the outbreak. The plan involves undertaking activities in the following areas: Enhance Rapid Outbreak Detection and Implementation of Containment Mea- sures This area would require the purchase of reagents for detection of the disease, sample test at the World Health Animal Organisation and FAO Laboratories, culling of affected birds and the proper disposal of the carcasses, disinfection of the affected farms, among others. The total budget under this area proposed by the Ministry is estimated at GH¢2,800,000.00. The Committee conducted an in-depth scrutiny of the activities and inputs and is of the opinion that the amount is reasonable for the achievement of the expected deliverable. Active Surveillance of Domestic Poultry and Wild Bird Populations for Rapid Detection of Spill Overs Activities to be undertaken in this area include the movement of surveillance teams to poultry farms and wild bird sanctuaries nationwide to assess possible occurrence of the disease. It would also involve the purchase of sampling analysis materials such as rapid antigen detection kits and other essential
reagents, Global Positioning System (GPS) and other molecular diagnosis consumables. An amount of GH¢832,390.00 is estimated for this output area. However, upon careful examination of the activities against the estimated amounts, the Committee is recommending an amount of GH¢670,300.00. The Committee believes some of the activities could be co-ordi- nated in a more efficient manner to reduce cost. Sensitisation of the public To increase awareness and ensure prompt reporting of suspected outbreaks as well as enforcement of on-farm biosecurity systems, the Ministry proposes educational seminars for key stakeholders such as farmers, bird market traders, processors, et cetera. Educational and awareness creation posters and flyers would also be developed. Media interactions would also be intensified. A total amount of GH¢1,295,000.00 has been estimated for the activities under this sub-component. The Committee is of the opinion that some of the activities should be pooled together and conducted at the Zonal level to reduce cost. The Committee therefore recommends an amount of GH¢1,195,000.00 after critical analysis. Laboratory Capacity Building and Diagnosis Activities under this sub-component include training of Regional and District Veterinary staff on disease recognition and reporting, biosafety measures in sampling and in modern diagnosis of Avian influenza. The estimated budget for this output area by the Ministry is GH¢620,000.00. The Committee noted that during the outbreak in 2007, the African Union, IBAR and the USAID supported the Ministry in training a number of Veterinary Officers on the disease. The Committee is, therefore, of the opinion that an amount of GH¢450,000.00 would be adequate to train new officers and for refresher courses for the old staff. Border Harmonisation meetings with neighbouring Countries Since the disease is trans-boundary in nature, international best practices require all affected neighbouring countries to harmonise their activities to achieve holistic control, eradication and prevention. Under this output, the Ministry intends to have a series of meetings with key stakeholders from Togo, Burkina Faso and Cote d'Ivoire to map out a common strategy to deal with the outbreak. An amount of GH¢650,000.00 was budgeted by the Ministry for the border meetings. Upon further discussions with the Ministry, it was agreed that an amount of GH¢300,000.00 would be adequate for the current emergency. Logistical Requirements The Committee was informed that the Veterinary Services Directorate was currently challenged with logistics such as equipment for its regional laboratories and vehicles for monitoring. To upgrade the regional laboratories and to enhance the movement of personnel and equipment for effective sampling and analysis, an amount of GH¢5,300,000.00 was proposed by the Ministry. Out of this figure, GH¢3,000,000.00 was earmarked for the procurement of 20 vehicles. It was the opinion of the Committee that the 20 vehicles were on the high side. The Committee advised the Ministry to collaborate with other MDAs to mobilise some vehicles to support the campaign. The Committee therefore recommends the purchase of twelve (12) pickup vehicles instead of the twenty (20) vehicles proposed by the Ministry. The Committee's recommendation was informed by lessons from the previous outbreak. It was noted that during the 2007 outbreak, the European Union donated fourteen (14) pickups, three (3) cross-country vehicles and one hundred and thirty-five (135) motorbikes to the Ministry. The proposed budget for this sub- component is therefore GH¢3,619,700.00. Compensation for Farmers The Committee noted that a provision of GH¢2,000,610.00 has been made as compensation to farmers whose farms may be destroyed as part of the measures to control the outbreak. The amount represents estimated compensation for about 75,000 birds and other poultry products. The figure of 75,000 represents 0.0125 per cent of the total poultry population of about 60,000,000. The Committee acknowledges that the current figure of culled birds of 33,000 recorded in the Greater Accra and Volta Regions is likely to increase once the compensation package comes into effect and farmers start reporting early signs of the disease to the Ministry. The Committee was informed that payment of compensation during the last outbreak helped in controlling the outbreak. SPACE FOR TABLE - PAGE 8 -
Mr Chairman, I see your difficulties. There is a problem with the Committee's Report. What I would do is that you go back and work on it. You are even trying to do it but you did not amend it on the floor for us to know what you are amending. Because of the limitations we have with regard to article 108 of the Constitution, and then also, if you look at Standing Order 122, we may have a challenge there. I might not be in a position to rule on the matter now. I have just seen the Report and I have seen your conclusion and recom- mendation. I have to be clear in my mind whether we have the capacity to do what you are inviting the House to do at this stage. I would not like our efforts to be an exercise in futility and there is a way of achieving the same purpose, but not through what the Committee is inviting the House to do. So, what I will do is that, I will like us to just defer this matter now because you did not even amend the Report to take account of the challenges. Even though you said it, you did not tell the House that you are amending it. Are you listening to me? And you did not tell the House what you are deleting. So, Hon Chairman of the Committee, what I will suggest is that, let your Committee go back, look at article 108 and find out whether what you are doing is proper.
Mr Speaker, I think the conclusion further goes into the last page at the back, where we are saying the Committee recommends that because of the urgency and seriousness of the outbreak, the House should request the Finance Committee to authorise it. So, I thought that by giving our Report, just as you have directed, it would be done and referred to the Finance Committee to look at it and come with --
Hon Member, look at page 7 of your Report, the last sentence: “…the Committee recommends that the House approves the entire amount…” Have you seen it?
Yes Mr Speaker. That was the --
Hon Chairman, have you seen it?
Yes. But Mr Speaker, that was brought to my attention by the Hon Majority Leader and that is why I did not read that, because it is amended to be deleted. [Interruption] -- So, that should be deleted, and then we conclude with the referral to the Finance Committee for them to look at it.
Hon Chairman of the Committee, what you should do if you realise there is a challenge is to move for the deletion of the relevant portion in your Report, then we know that it is deleted and it would not be part -- You know this is a House of record, so you could come back and do the amendment. So, if you are deleting, tell us that you are deleting, then delete what you would like to delete. But let me hear from the Hon Member of Parliament for Old Tafo, Dr A. A. Osei, first before I invite you.
Mr Speaker, I thought my good Friend and Hon Chairman would take a cue from your directives to avoid us getting into areas where it might be contentious.
Mr Chairman, are you -- yes?
Mr Speaker, I accept your directive; we would look at it and bring the appropriate conclusion with the Report.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Chairman is seeking your permission to stand it down and go back and take a second look at it before presenting it. That is the application he is making.
Hon Deputy Majority Leader, you know that under our rules, if a Motion is not seconded, it cannot enter the Votes. So, are we taking it to mean as if the Motion has not been moved at all? So, it would mean that it has not been moved at all. That would be the implication. But when you move the Report in its form, it must also enter the Official Report and there are problems also with this Report. So, we take it as if the Motion has not been moved at all. Hon Deputy Majority Leader, do you agree with me?
Exactly, as if the Motion had not been moved. We would go back and come back, Mr Speaker.
Hon Chairman, try and arrange a quick meeting with your Committee and clean the Report and bring it, so that we can take it tomorrow. Because this is a very important issue and in the process try and do consultations with Members outside your Committee who can guide you how to capture it, and take note of article 108 of the Constitution and of course, article 177 that the Hon Ranking Member on the Finance Committee referred to, and of course, Standing Order 122. Hon Deputy Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I think we would have to go back to Questions.
Hon Deputy Majority Leader, are you ready for Questions?
Mr Speaker, the Deputy Ministers cannot hold us to ransom. We have been sitting here waiting for them. The Majority Chief Whip is trying to get them, none of them is picking the calls -- and we are here. Meanwhile, they have requested -- and Mr Speaker, you are aware that there is a Motion. The Committee of the Whole would be briefed by the Hon Minister for Local Government and Rural Development. The Chief Executive of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly is here but the Deputy Ministers are not here. So Mr Speaker, I think the Chair can assist us to get the Ministers to come to the House.
Are you inviting me to use my powers at this stage? You are the Hon Deputy Majority Leader in charge of Government Business. So, I will like to hear from you and your Chief Whip.
Mr Speaker, this morning, we informed the Chair that the Hon Minister is not in the jurisdiction but the two deputies who are Hon Members of this House are aware that the Questions have been slated for their Ministry, and the Chief Whip made all efforts to get them here. Mr Speaker, if you look at the time, we cannot be sitting here waiting for them. That is why I am applying to the Chair to assist us to get the Hon Ministers to the House. This is because we have done everything possible for them to be here -- [Interruption] -- Yes.
Yes, let me hear from you; you have been on your feet for some time.
Mr Speaker, this is a very serious issue. The Hon Leader of the House has given assurances in this House, of bringing the Minister for Finance and the Minister for Local Government and Rural Development here as far back as -- I have the Hansard -- 5th June, 2015. It is not acceptable. Even inviting Mr Speaker is trying to draw him into this debate. The Hon Deputy Majority Leader should have asked Mr Speaker to take these Hon Ministers for censure. Mr Speaker, they cannot behave like that. A serious issue has happended in this country; the whole country is mobilising resources to help and they should come and give account to the representatives of the people and they refuse to come. The Hon Majority Leader gets up and gives excuses and promises that they will come, but Mr Speaker, they disappear. Mr Speaker, you see and hear them every day from one Assembly to another, giving directives and other things. They even wrote to your goodself, Mr Speaker -- [Interruption] -- that they were going for National Sanitation Day. Indeed, they will go and clean one part of the country and 153 people will die in another part of the country and they do not think it is serious? Mr Speaker, I am urging you to inform the Hon Deputy Majority Leader, that these Hon Ministers should be brought for censure. It is not right. Ghanaians cannot always ridicule Hon Members of Parliament for a sense of no urgency in the minds of these Hon Ministers. Mr Speaker, we cannot continue like that. The good people of Ghana would want to know what this House is doing about this episode. We call the Hon Minister and he is absent and the two Hon Deputy Ministers who are sending memoranda and things - - several notices, Mr Speaker, they are also not here. No! They cannot even provide Answers to our Questions. Mr Speaker, what is this? Mr Speaker, invite the Hon Deputy Majority Leader to request that these Hon Deputy Ministers should be brought for censure. It is far too long; we have pampered them too much. Mr Speaker, we have pampered them too much and that is why they are not taking us serious. They should know the power of Parliament. If Ghanaians die and they cannot be bothered, we should be bothered in this House. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Yes, Hon Deputy Minority Whip?
Mr Speaker, last week, the Committee of the Whole was programmed for the sector Ministr ies that are responsible for managing the floods in Accra, to brief this House on what happened on 3rd June, 2015 and after 3rd June, 2015. Unfortunately for us, the Hon Minister for Local Government and Rural Development and the Mayor of Accra were not able to come. The excuse was that the Hon Minister had gone up North to launch the National Sanitation Day in Wa, Upper West Region. Mr Speaker, we talked about this issue and we were promised that there would be an opportunity for the Hon Minister to come the following week. It is unfortunate that today, the Hon Minister is supposed to be here to answer Questions relating to the same flood, he is not here, neither is any of his two Deputy Ministers here. Mr Speaker, the people of this country cannot wait further for a date which is convenient to the Hon Minister before Questions on the flood in Accra are answered. Mr Speaker, it is common knowledge that, the Executive in a way is controlling the Legislature. This is a clear example of the fear people have, that yes, even as a legislative body, we are being manipulated by the Executive because they do things to suit themselves. Mr Speaker, it is about time we showed to the people of this country that as a legislative body, we are independent of the Executive and we can function without them. Mr Speaker, let us take this issue with all the seriousness it deserves and for once, let us show to the Hon Ministers that at least, we can bite. On this note, Mr Speaker, I would want to implore your good offices to invite the Hon Minister and the two Hon Deputy Ministers to answer why they have not been able to respond to the calls of this House anytime they are called.
Mr Speaker, I am personally very saddened by the behaviour of our own Hon Colleagues in the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development. Mr Speaker, the sad thing is that, the three of them are all Hon Members of Parliament. Mr Speaker, the Business Statement of this week was read last week and usually what we do, myself and my Hon Deputy Colleagues, we further relay the message to individual Ministries.We ensure that the night before, when the Order Paper is ready, it is circulated to all Hon Members of Parliament. When this is done, usually by 8.30 p.m. to 9.00 p.m., we take the pain
Hon Members, I have just been shown a copy of a communication from the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development dated 13th July, 2015 and received by the Office of the Clerk at 4.40 p.m. yesterday. I will read the communication to the House and if there is any comment to make, then I will make it.
COMMUNICATION FROM THE MINISTRY OF
LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT
Mr Speaker, if I am right, the Hon Minister is said to be absent from the country. He is a Cabinet Minister and certainly, in his absence, another Minister has to be acting for him. Probably, the Hon Deputy Majority Leader, with your leave, Mr Speaker, could assist this House to know which Minister is acting as the Minister for Local Government and Rural Development , in the absence of the Minister who is now out of the country. I am told the letter was even written by a Director, not even the Chief Director. Mr Speaker, some of these things make it difficult for some of us not to speak out, and it embarrasses the Chair too. Mr Speaker, this is because they are indirectly compelling you to exercise the powers that you have. Mr Speaker, this is a serious matter. It is not a joke. We are the representatives of the people of this country. Mr Speaker, I know that represen- tatives of this House were embarrassed when they went to the scene -- [Interruption.] Mr Speaker, I would just repeat for emphasis. I am saying that Members of this House who went to the scene were embarrassed and they know why I am saying this. I do not want to say
COMMUNICATION - PAGE
Mr Speaker, I think you have stated it all and my Hon Colleague from Sekondi, a former Majority Leader has also added another dimension. Mr Speaker, the current Chief of Staff, before he assumed the role as Chief of Staff, used to occupy the ministerial position at the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development. So, it should not be difficult for him in communicating with the current occupant of the Ministry to submit himself to this House. He himself is a Member of this House and he has been a Member for a very long time. Mr Speaker, this really constitutes an affront to this House. Indeed, the conduct of the Hon Ministers is stalling the conduct of business in this House. You have indicated to us that the Leaders from the Majority side of the House should do everything possible to get the two Deputy Ministers to be in the House tomorrow. So, I do not want to pursue that path since you have established the basis. One only hopes that by tomorrow, we shall see them come and answer the Questions. Mr Speaker, if they do not make themselves available and maybe, if we get to know whichever Hon Minister is holding the fort for the Ministry and get that person to be here to respond to the Questions, then certainly, Parliament may decide what to do with the Hon Minister and the Deputy Ministers. Mr Speaker, I have nothing more to add to that. I thank you.
Mr Speaker, we have listened to your ruling and the reaction from my Hon Colleague, Hon Papa Owusu-Ankomah. Mr Speaker, we are equally embarrassed by this situation. Particularly, if you look at the Order Paper, the Answers to the Questions have not been provided and the letter to the Clerk to Parliament received was dated yesterday. This means, they were not prepared to come and do business. So Mr Speaker, we are at your mercy for your direction what actually should happen. Mr Speaker, I am informed that item number 13 cannot go on and so, I would want to move, that this House do adjourn till tomorrow morning at 10.00'oclock.
Hon Member, you are welcome. I have not seen you in about three weeks.
Mr Speaker, I was spearheading some operation somewhere and it was a very good operation. Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion. Question put and Motion agreed to.
Hon Members, let me see the Hon Deputy Minority Leader and the Hon Minority Leader in my Lobby.
The House was accordingly adjourned at 12.00 noon till Wednesday, 15th July, 2015 at 10.00 a.m.