VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS AND THE OFFICIAL REPORT
Hon Members, Cor- rection of the Votes and Proceedings of Tuesday, 7th July, 2015.
[No correction was made to the Votes and Proceedings of Tuesday, 7th July, 2015.]
Hon Members, we have two Official Reports for correction. We take that of 2nd July, 2015, first.
We take that of 3rd July. [No correction was made to the Official Report of Friday 3rd July, 2015]. Hon Members, item number 3 on the Order Paper-- Question time. We have our Hon Minister for Health in the House to respond to Questions from Hon Members. We would start with Question number 445 standing in the name of the Hon Member for Atebubu/Amantin. Yes, Hon Member, you have the floor.
ORAL ANSWERS TO
MINISTRY OF HEALTH
Mr Speaker, this has come to the attention of the Ministry of Health. As already indicated, the Ministry is currently negotiating for concessionary funding from several financiers to construct and expand various district hospitals nationwide. Atebubu district hospital has been ranked 2nd in the Brong Ahafo Region for expansion. The expansion programme when implemented will increase the bed capacity of the hospital.
Any supplementary question? Yes, Hon Member?
Mr Speaker, before my supplementary question, let me correct this omission. It is Atebubu/Amantin District Hospital but they only wrote Atebubu District Hospital in the Answer. It should be Atebubu/Amantin District Hospital.
Very well. Please, your supplementary question.
Mr Speaker, I would want to know from the Hon Minister; he said that they are arranging for loans or funds to do the project, I would want to know how soon this would be, if he could give us a time frame.
Hon Minister for Health, time frame please.
Mr Speaker, as indicated last Friday, we have a number of loans that we are actually planning to obtain. There is no order of merit if I can put it on that basis as the loans have arrived. In terms of ranking, this is second in the list so, it would be given the priority based on its ranking but I cannot put a time span on it at this point but we are hoping that we would be able to get some funding confirmed before the next financial session begins.
Mr Speaker, from the Hon Minister's Answer, it seems he is not very sure when they would get the funds. If I heard him right and looking at the situation at the hospital, Atebubu/Amantin is one of the areas that is prone to cholera outbreak. Last year, it was so pathetic that they had to create a veranda ward when there was this cholera outbreak and cholera being very contagious, I would want to know before they get the funds, if there is something they could do to save the situation in case there is any serious outbreak even though we do not pray for it.
Mr Speaker, the areas which are prone to having large numbers of cholera infections when they do arise have been earmarked for special care or notice as and when they arise. As indicated in my last appearance, at the moment, we are looking at concessionary funding from nine separate institutions. Some earmarked and some not; we have the Turmaks Group from the Turkish Exim Bank, Alliance International from France, Rabo Bank from The Netherlands, ABB Scientific Group, Sino Hydro for uncompleted projects,10 Polyclinics by Unicredit Bank, Czech Republic, five Polyclinics by Bank Austra, Quantum Solution funding from Societale General and ORIO/Dutch Funding Organisation for one district hospital and five Polyclinics. Mr Speaker, that is where the funding sources are and that is why I am not able to specifically put a time frame on it but these are all in the process of looking to be obtained at different stages. Once that is obtained, this particular Hospital is earmarked to be increased from the current 45 to a 120- bed Hospital project.
Yes, your last supplemen- tary question.
Mr Speaker, in the main Answer, he has hinted that the Atebubu/ Amentin District Hospital is ranked as second for expansion work. I would want to know from the Hon Minister if he could hint us which one comes first before Atebubu/Amentin District Hospital.
Mr Speaker, as promised last Friday, this morning, the full list of rankings have been made available to the Honourable House and I believe it would be with your - [Interruption] I have the list here, I have not gone through it region by region but the full list, is available and can be made available to the Hon Member.
Yes. But while we look at the list we would want to know which one is first in Brong Ahafo Region.
Bear with me. [Pause.] Mr Speaker, can I sit down? I wish to sit down.
Mr Speaker, I am wondering if you may not permit the Hon Member to ask another Question while the Hon Minister sorts -
No! He has asked his last supplementary question. He has exhausted his three questions and we want him to - so, I can call any other Hon Member who would want to ask a question. I see where you are coming from. Hon Minister, do you have Brong Ahafo Region on your list?
Mr Speaker, can I beg the indulgence of the House to have a little more time to deal with that aspect of the Question. I can deal with the whole issue -
The point is that, you have just informed the House that you have made the document available to the House.
Yes, this morning.
I have not received it but, maybe, it would be with the Clerks-at-the- Table. It is on the basis of the document that we would want to know which is number one in terms of the Ministry's ranking in the Brong Ahafo Region. If you cannot find it in the document, then, the document that you brought to the House has a problem. You cannot find Brong Ahafo Region?
Mr Speaker, I have found it. Mr Speaker, with apologies. Tain is first - Nsorkor Health Centre and the second is Atebubu/Amantin District.
Very well. We would move to the next Question. Question number 446 -- Hon Member for Effiduase-Asokore? Newly-Trained Ghanaian Medical Doctors (Employment) *446. Mr Frank Boakye Agyen (NPP - Effiduase/Asokore): Mr Speaker some- times I want you to mention my name so that I would know that you know me. I asked the Minister for Health whether the Ministry had been able to employ all newly-trained Ghanaian medical doctors, if so, how many and where have they been posted.
Mr Speaker, yes, they have been posted. Mr Speaker, the Ministry of Health has since September 2014 posted 486 Medical Doctors (House Officers). The number is made up of dental and medical officers from all medical schools in Ghana and abroad. Out of the total number 486, 268 newly trained medical doctors were posted from May June, 2015 while the remaining 218 were posted in September, 2014. They have been posted to all the Teaching Hospitals and some Regional Hospitals for 1st year Housemanship/ Internship. This is in compliance with the Medical and Dental Council's requirement on Housemanship/Internship.
Mr Speaker, contrary to the specific Answer given by the Hon Minister - I beg to quote: “…Yes, they have been posted.” Is he aware that doctors who have completed their Housemanship are still home and unemployed since last year?
Mr Speaker, I am not aware.
Mr Speaker, I would suggest that the Hon Minister tasks his bureaucrats to be up and doing. My next question - Mr Speaker, is the Hon Minister aware that the Question demanded a specific Answer of ‘where'? The Answer is evasive in paragraph (3): “… Teaching Hospitals and some Regional Hospitals …” This Question has been pending for over five months. Would the Hon Minister be able to tell us, specifically in this small country; Ghana, where - that is, hospital by hospital, region by region and district by district where these doctors have been posted to.
Mr Speaker, I am not in a position at this present moment to be specific. By the virtue of the Medical and Dental Council, doctors are only posted to Teaching Hospitals and Regional Hospitals at this stage. They are not posted to District Hospitals or smaller hospitals - if I can put it that way. When they come in first, they must go to Teaching Hospitals and Regional Hospitals. So, these postings that have been indicated are endorsed. If he wants a total breakdown, name by name, then I would ask for time to actually obtain them. At the time he asked the Question, which you said was about five months ago, they had all not been posted, that was why I indicated in my initial Answer that between May and June, number of 268 were placed. That is why I stated that all have been placed at this stage. I would look further into the matter as requested, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, I would want the Hon Minister to tell the House why it took so long for the Ministry to post these doctors. In some cases, some stayed at have for six months and others five months while Ghana is in dire need of medical doctors. Why did it take so long to deploy these highly trained medical officers to serve mother Ghana?
Mr Speaker, it came to the notice of the Government that the process of recruitment and getting people on the payroll had to be revised and it is being done currently to shorten the period between employment and registration. However, it was clear that because of the time gap between people being registered or starting work and then being properly registered with the biometric process, there was a gap which was creating a situation where people were working without being paid. And that was also felt to be unsatisfactory. Two issues are being dealt with currently - one is to shorten the period of registration so that people can be paid quickly but also to ensure that before people are registered and put on the payroll, they are properly biometrically registered. That is what caused the gap that existed. So, instead of the situation where people were allowed to go to work and had to find, by their own means, the means of subsistence for three, four or five months, what happened was that we made sure that we have the registration in place first before we employ. We have acknowledged that the gap is too large, and so efforts are being made now along with the Ministry of Finance and the Controller and Accountant- General's Department to ensure that the gap is shortened.
Hon Member, is your constituency Offinso North or Offinso
Mr Speaker, it is Offinso North. Mr Speaker, following the Question asked by the Hon Member with respect to the doctors who have completed their Housemanship and are still sitting at home not being posted, the Hon Minister said he was not aware of that. I would want to find out, now that it has come to his notice that some medical officers have finished their Housemanship and have still not been posted, what is he going to do? If he could tell us, what steps is he going to take to ensure that they are posted?
Mr Speaker, as indicated, I was not aware that there were still doctors who had not been posted. Currently, my information which the Hon Member of Parliament has alluded to was that, there were 268 newly-trained medical doctors who in the recent past had not been posted, and had now been posted. For those who have not been posted, if they are in existence, we would want to find out why that has not occurred and subsequently, we would also ensure that their postings take place immediately. This is because it is our priority and we need our doctors.
Hon Member for Subin?
Mr Speaker, I would like to know from the Hon Minister what the policy of the Government of Ghana (GoG) is, regarding the employment of the newly-trained Ghanaian doctors.
Mr Speaker, on a specific question like this, it would be wrong for me to hazard a guess, and I do not have the details of the exact policy. In general terms, I can indicate that we intend to employ all doctors who have gone through our training system. That is as a general policy. We would want to make sure that we train and employ them. The process of employment after the training is the issue in this matter in terms of how they get on to the payroll. And that unfortunately has taken too long over the years. As I have indicated, there is a concerted effort at the moment by the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Health to ensure that that gap, notwithstanding, the new process of biometric registration for the payroll would be shortened drastically.
Hon Member for Nkoranza North, and then I would take the last Question. Maj. Derek Oduro (retd): Mr Speaker, I would want to find out from the Hon Minister whether he has any constraint in posting some of these trained doctors to the district hospitals where there are qualified doctors who can assist in training these newly-trained doctors.
I think he has explained it. The policy is that they send them to the teaching hospitals and regional hospitals. He has explained that they do not send them to the districts, maybe, for a very good reason, so that they acquire the necessary experience before they move them below the regional levels. He has explained that as a policy, and so if you are asking of the difficulty in sending them to the district hospitals, I do not get the question well, but rephrase the question. Maj. Oduro (retd): Mr Speaker, that is exactly so. I am asking this question because, we have very qualified doctors in the district hospitals, and so I am asking whether they have any problem in sending some of them there, now that we could say specifically that even all the doctors in the district hospitals are qualified and trained.
Mr Speaker, as a newly trained or qualified doctor comes into the system, he is entitled to have the benefits of a high range of expertise within the medical sphere. These expertise of high range are normally found in the teaching hospitals and in the regional hospitals. For that reason, the initial postings are restricted to teaching hospitals and regional hospitals. Yes, there are expertise in the district hospitals and in other hospitals but not across a wide range of medical fields, and that is why they are restricted to those ones.
Yes, last Question, Hon Member?
Mr Speaker, when is he coming to supply the details of the postings, and what assurance is there that he would actually make it to come and give us the details?
Mr Speaker, my apology, I did not actually hear the Question. Please, could it be repeated?
Mr Speaker, when the Hon Minister was answering the Questions, he told us that, he needed time to fill in the details of where the doctors were posted to. The issue is, when is the Hon Minister going to do that, and what assurance is there that this time he is not going to be added to those who come here to tell us that they would come to supply the details and never come?
Hon Member, when you are asking a question on behalf of the Hon Minister, do not stray into other areas. I say this because, I am not aware of any Hon Minister who has promised to supply any information and has not supplied it. Limit yourself to the specific Answer that the Hon Member has asked for which you are doing a follow-up by your question.
All right, Mr Speaker, it has been withdrawn. When is he going to supply the details on the posting?
Mr Speaker, I would ask for ten days.
Very well. Hon Minister, thank you very much for attending upon the House to respond to Questions from Hon Members of the House. At the commencement of Public Business.
Mr Speaker, the item; Petroleum Revenue Management (Amendment) Bill , 2015 - at the Consideration Stage.
BILLS - CONSIDERATION
Hon Chairman of the Committee, yesterday, we agreed that you were going to work and arrive at a certain consensus with regard to clause 4. Have you done that?
Mr Speaker, yes, we met yesterday to do winnowing upon your
Yes, but one at a time. Hon Minority Leader? I should have asked his Hon Ranking Member, but he is the one pushing for the amendment.
Mr Speaker, I think we arrived at this new rendition, but perusing it, I realised that we could further improve it, and so I had some consultation with -
What about the principle?
The principle is acceptable.
It is just some minor corrections which I guess - So, perhaps, we would start with the two.
What we would do is to let him move the amendment, then I would call you to draw our attention to those areas that you think there should be some improvement. Is that acceptable?
That is acceptable.
Move your amendment as captured here and I would call the Hon Minority Leader to raise any issue that he would want to raise in terms of the drafting.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 4 paragraph (a), delete and insert the following: “(2) Subject to section 17 and the First Schedule, where (a) the actual petroleum revenue net of the national oil company's share is equal to or more than the Benchmark Revenue (i) 70 per cent of the Benchmark Revenue shall be paid into the Annual Budget Funding Amount; (ii) 30 per cent of the Benchmark Revenue shall be paid into the Ghana Petroleum Funds; and (iii) any excess of the Benchmark Revenue shall be paid into the Ghana Petroleum Funds; or (b) the actual petroleum revenue net of the national oil company's share is less than the Benchmark Revenue (i) not more than 70 per cent of that revenue shall be paid into the Annual Budget Funding Amount; and (ii) not less than 30 per cent of that revenue shall be paid into the Ghana Petroleum Funds.” Mr Speaker, the reason behind this amendment is that, we want to ensure that at all times, funds are transferred from the petroleum revenue into the Ghana Petroleum Funds for both stabilisation and the Heritage Fund. That is the reason for breaking this clause into this section.
Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, thank you for this opportunity once again. As I said, with the principle, we all share it. I have been of the opinion that, even in the earlier construction, that is in the parent Act, the provision was sufficiently made but has been subject to some misinterpretation and I guess it is important that we put it beyond doubt, which is why the Chairman and the Committee have come with this proposal.
“(a) the actual petroleum revenue net of the national oil company's share is equal to or more than the Benchmark Revenue”. Mr Speaker, first of all, the style of drafting should be “the net of the allocation to the national oil company”. This is because the allocation to the oil company is not an entitlement so we cannot say that it is their share. It is an allocation that was made and approved of by this House. So, it should rather read: “the actual petroleum revenue net of the allocation to the national oil company is equal to or more than the Benchmark Revenue”. Mr Speaker, for (i), I guess, given what -
So in all, you are deleting the word “share”?
Mr Speaker, I am deleting the word “share” and then changing the order of arrangement. Then we have “the national oil company”, instead of “the national oil company's”.
Mr Speaker, if that is acceptable, we would move to the second one -
No! let us take them one by one so that we would follow it. Mr Chairman, I think that the principle is the same.
Mr Speaker, I think so. So, we can do it. The new rendition would read: “the actual petroleum revenue net of allocation to the national oil company is equal to or more than the Benchmark Revenue”.
Very well. Hon Members, because the amend- ment is very long, I want us to take it one by one and I want to put the Question on each.
Yes, Hon Member?
Mr Speaker, (iii): “any excess of the Benchmark Revenue shall be paid into the Ghana Petroleum Funds; or”
Please, Hon Members, we are taking these one by one so that everybody would understand what we are doing. So, the new rendition would be: “the actual petroleum revenue net of allocation to the national oil company is equal to or more than the Benchmark Revenue”. Question put and amendment agreed to.
Yes, Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, we discussed this in respect of (a)(i). The construction makes “the allocation of 70 per cent of the Benchmark Revenue” sacrosanct. But we said it should be “not
Hon Minority Leader, I am not getting the point you are making. Are you on (i) or (ii) or (iii)?
Mr Speaker, (i).
Mr Speaker, for (i), it is “not more than 70 per cent” and for (ii), it is “not less than 30 per cent”. Those two phrases should precede (i) and (ii), respectively.
But Hon Minority Leader, if it is not more than 70 per cent, then automatically, what is left would be 30 per cent. Do we need to qualify it?
Yes, Mr Speaker. But let us deal -
No! I just wanted to get the sense of - [Laughter.]
Mr Speaker, let us deal with (i) and then you would understand (ii).
Yes, Hon Member for Old Tafo?
Mr Speaker, yes, we need to qualify it because as it is, it can be treated as 70 per cent but what is in the law is “not more than”. So, we need to qualify it so that we never exceed 70 per cent. It could be 65 per cent.
But the thing is 100 per cent and we have 70 per cent and 30 per cent.
No, Mr Speaker. If you put it the way it is, it means one must give exactly 70 per cent. The law is not talking about “exact”. It says “not more than” so we could then go to 65 per cent.
Very well. I see the point that you are making. We could go to 65 per cent or 60 per cent. You have a point there. Hon Member for Dormaa Central?
Mr Speaker, I would want, to re-enforce what my Hon Colleague just submitted. We want to eliminate any ambiguity by putting there what the Minority Leader has proposed.
“Not more than 70 per cent”. Hon Chairman of the Committee?
Mr Speaker, I do not have any problem with that amendment. It rather gives room to the Hon Minister to come back to the House and propose that we want to transfer less than 70 per cent. But if we make it straight jacket 70 per cent, he cannot come back and propose anything less than 70 per cent. So, I agree with this amendment. If situations demand that we do not need 70 per cent to go to the Annual Budget Funding Amount--
No, once he has taken up to 70 per cent, then there is no need for - [Interruption.]
Mr Speaker, that is why I am saying that if we say 70 per cent, he is mandated by the law to all the time transfer 70 per cent. But if we say “not more than 70 per cent”, he can come and say that this time he does not need that much, therefore, only 50 per cent should go to the Annual Budget Funding Amount and the rest goes to - It does not even need to come here.
Yes, that is what it means. The Chairman is right. If he puts “not more than 70 per cent”, he can go to 10 per cent. Very well, then we are all ad idem on this matter. So Hon Members, we are adding “not more than 70 per cent” to clause 4 (b) (i). Question put and amendment agreed to.
Mr Speaker, the next one as said is consequential. We rather insert the words “not less than”, before the 30 per cent.
Very well. Hon Members, we are adding before the 30 per cent, clause 4 (2) (a), we are adding the words “not less than 30 per cent”. Question put and amendment agreed to.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, Clause 4 (2) (b) should also have the same consequential rendition as we did in Clause 4 (2) (a). That is, “the actual petroleum revenue net of the allocation to the national company”.
So, it is consequential.
Yes, it is consequential.
The first two lines there are consequential, so they should read; “ the actual petroleum revenue net of the allocation to the national oil company is less than the benchmark revenue”. Question put and amendment agreed to.
Mr Speaker, perhaps, some discussions with the Hon Deputy Minister for Finance on this. It came - it just registered on us - [Interruption.]
Is it on the Order Paper?
No, just like what I suggested, it is not on the Order Paper.
No, we had a prior discussion.
Yes, I am saying that it is just a minor thing to put it beyond doubt and I am wondering whether we cannot add that leg; because in clause 4 (2) (b), we are dealing with a situation where the revenue would have fallen short of the benchmark revenue, and we are saying that 70 per cent of whatever revenue, even where it is short, should be paid to the Annual Budget Funding Amount (ABFA). And clause 4 (2) (b) (ii) reads: “not less than 30 per cent of that revenue shall be paid into the Ghana Petroleum Funds”. Recognisably, there is a shortfall, and where there is a shortfall there must be a resort to section 12 of the parent Act. I was wondering whether for the avoidance of doubt, we could not add that as sub-clause (iii), that the shortfall shall be made up for by a resort to section 12 of this Bill.
Is it in the law?
It is in the law, but I was saying that because we are stranding out two scenarios in this clause, I am just thinking alone whether it would not be better for us to have a statement here that in this event there must be a resort to section 12 of the Act, if it is not superfluous. But I think that it may serve a good purpose.
Mr Speaker, I follow the point that the Hon Minority Leader is raising, but I think that we already have a section in the parent Act which would be evoked in a situation where there is a shortfall. The withdrawal from the Ghana Stabilisation Fund is there, and I quote: “Where pe t ro leum revenue collected in any quarter falls below one quarter of the Annual Budget Funding Amount for that financial year, withdrawals may be made from the Ghana Stabilisation Fund”. Provision had been made there already, so we should not bring it again under clause 4 making reference to section 12, because the section 12 is saying that where there is a shortfall the Minister would go to section 12 and withdraw from the Stabilisation Fund. So, we do not need to put it again under clause 4.
I think there is sufficient provision to take care of that position. Yes, Hon Ranking Member, Finance Committee?
Mr Speaker, I am not so much concerned about putting it there for the avoidance of doubt, but there is a more substantive amendment that we must make to section 12. We have just changed the language in clause 4 (2) (b) to read “the actual petroleum revenue net of the allocation…”, Now, in section 12, it talks about below the Annual Budget Funding Amount. The mischief we cured, we need to go back and cure it in section 12 rather. Mr Speaker, if you read section 12, the same language we have used in clause 4(2) (b), the draftpersons should make sure there is a corresponding change in section 12, otherwise, we would be talking in different languages. In other words, in the first sentence in section 12, we should have “Where actual petroleum revenue collected in any quarter falls below one quarter of the benchmark revenue”, not the Annual Budget Funding Amount, for consistency. Otherwise, we would be creating trouble for ourselves.
Mr Speaker, section 12 is making reference to the benchmark revenue, that in a quarter where the actual we are using in clause 4 here now, if that actual is less than a quarter of the benchmark revenue, the Minister for Finance would invoke section 12 and go to the Stabilisation Fund to take money from there. We do not need to make reference in section 12 to any actual, because the benchmark revenue is the yardstick by which we are measuring what would go into the Budget. So, if we are bringing “actual” in section 12, when is the Minister going to go into the Stabilisation Fund to take money? The benchmark revenue we are mentioning is for both clause 4 and section 12. It is the measure by which the Minister for Finance would go to the Stabilisation Fund and take money if the actual is less than that benchmark revenue and if the actual is more than the benchmark revenue, the excess goes to the Stabilisation Fund and the Heritage Fund. So, if we bring the “actual” to section 12, we are rather going to make the whole situation more complex. Let us maintain it the way it is in the -
Hon Members, this deals with the withdrawals from the Ghana Stabilisation Fund which is a specific provision. If we are not careful, we are going to create more complications. Hon Members, we now move to the next amendment.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 4, paragraph (b), delete and insert the following: “(3) Not less than 30 per cent of the amounts under paragraphs (a)(iii) and (b)(ii) of subsection (2) shall be transferred into the Ghana Heritage Fund and the balance shall be transferred into the Ghana Stabilisation Fund.” Mr Speaker, I want to propose a further amendment for an insertion of (ii) before (iii). Mr Speaker, the purpose of this amendment is to ensure that at all times -
Wait, let me get you. What further amendment are you making? Let us get that one first.
Mr Speaker, the further amendment I am making is that, if we go to section 2(a) (ii), there is a 30 per cent of benchmark revenue which is transferred into the Ghana Petroleum Fund. Then, under (iii), if there is any excess of the benchmark revenue, that is also transferred into the Ghana Petroleum Funds.
Hon Chairman, read the new rendition and let me get it first.
Mr Speaker, the new rendition is, “(3) Not less than 30 per cent of the amounts under paragraphs (a)(ii) and (iii) and (b)(ii) of subsection (2) shall be transferred into the Ghana Heritage Fund and the balance shall be transferred into the Ghana Stabilisation Fund.”
What you are doing now is that you are adding, under clause 4(3) (a), (ii) and (iii).
Mr Speaker, we have clause 4 (3) (a) (ii) already captured here.
No, clause 4(3) (a), it is (iii).
Yes, Mr Speaker. So, I am adding clause 4(3) (a) (ii).
So, it should be clause 4(3) (a) (ii) and (iii).
Yes, Mr Speaker, exactly so.
Very well. Question put and amendment agreed to.
Hon Members, I will
Mr Speaker, I do not know what has become of the further amendment that I proposed to clause 4(3) (b) (iii). Mr Speaker, the reason for this is, we are at this crossroads because in the parent Act, when we said that in respect of the establishment of the Ghana Stabilisation Fund in clause 9, that Mr Speaker, with your permission I quote: “The Ghana Stabilisation Fund shall receive from the Ghana Petroleum Fund a percentage of the petroleum revenue, which is determined by Parliament as saving for the purposes of this Act.” Mr Speaker, the exact percentage was not stated here but elsewhere. Then in respect of the Heritage Fund, the same provision existed. “The Ghana Heritage Fund shall receive from Petroleum Holding Fund a percentage of petroleum revenue which shall be determined by Parliament as savings for purposes of this Act.” Mr Speaker, beyond this, we then proposed that the Ghana Petroleum Funds, that is the (ii), shall both receive from the Petroleum Holding Fund Petroleum Revenue in excess of the ABFA. Mr Speaker, what we meant was that excess, call it windfall, if it happened it should go there. Somebody somewhere then went and misread and misinterpreted it to mean that sourcing or resourcing the Ghana Petroleum Funds was solely dependent on the excess funds,which meant that where the Benchmark Revenue fell short, then nothing will go to the Heritage Fund and the Actual. Nothing then will go into the two funds; the Ghana Stabilisation and Ghana Heritage funds, which was a wrong reading of the Act. That is why we are cleaning it up this way. Mr Speaker, I think that to avoid that situation, if we brought the proposal here, even though it exists in clause 12, it will not cause any harm. The Hon Chairman is shaking his head and saying that it is an overkill but I - [Interruption] - That is the implication, the shaking of your head. Mr Speaker, so I think that if we brought it there, it will be for the avoidance of doubt.
Hon Minority Leader, you made a point that, if it will not be redundant by putting it there - I think that it will be redundant; I agree with you that it will be redundant. Let me put the Question. Now, it is clear. We have clarified the position with the new rendition that we have and I think that it will be difficult for anybody to put that kind of interpretation that you are putting on the clause. Hon Members, let me put the Question.
Yes, Hon Member for Old Tafo?
Mr Speaker, I think we should look at the language in clause 12 again because of the changes we have made. We talked about a shortfall. Shortfall from what? Is it the Benchmark Revenue or the - Mr Speaker, we are curing a mischief by bringing these amendments but we have not made reference to clause 12, which also talks about the shortfall. Mr Speaker, the two must be consistent. We should not have two different shortfalls and that is my point. That was why I said that it is important that we looked at clause 12 closely.
Unfortunately, by the rules of the House, it will be difficult for us to pursue the line of action we are inviting the House to do. We have already dealt with clause 12 in the new Bill - Yes, we can only do that -[An Hon Member: At the Second Consideration Stage] - Absolutely, Second Consideration Stage if need be. We have already put the Question on that. Question put and amendment agreed to. Clause 4 as variously amended ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Clause 16. Clause 16 - Disbursement from the Petroleum Holding Fund.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 16, paragraph (c), delete and insert the following: “(4) The expected revenue from gas shall be the product of the actual and expected average unit price of domestic natural gas at which the national gas aggregator buys natural gas from the operator of the petroleum fields and domestic gas quantity. (4A) The expected natural gas price shall be derived from seven year moving average, the seven years being the four years immediately preceding the current financial year, the current financial year and the two years immediately following the current financial year. (4B) The expected natural gas quantity shall be determined in accordance with paragraph (2)”. Question put and amendment agreed to. Clause 16 as amended ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Hon Members, the Long Title.
Mr Speaker, I was looking at the construction of subclause (4).
Which part of subclause 4?
Mr Speaker, clause 16.
Mr Speaker, “(4) The expected revenue from gas shall be the product of the actual and expected average unit price of domestic natural gas at which the national gas aggregator buys natural gas from the operator of the petroleum fields and domestic gas quantity. Mr Speaker, the expected average -
Hon Minority Leader, I have put the Question on clause 16. So what I want us to do is that, let us go and look at it and if there is a problem, then we might want to look at a possible Second
Hon Members, the Long Title. The Long Title ordered to stand part of the Bill. Hon Members, that brings us to the end of the Consideration Stage for the Petroleum Revenue Management (Amendment) Bill, 2015. Hon Deputy Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, the Attorney- General is in the House, so if we could go back to item 6.
Hon Members, item number 6 on the Order Paper. Hon Attorney-General and Minister for Justice?
BILLS - SECOND READING
Mr Speaker, I rise to support the motion moved by the Attorney-General and in so doing, I present your Committee's Report. Introduction The Millennium Development Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2014 was presented to Parliament and read the first time on Wednesday, 12th November,2014. In accordance with Article 106(4) and (5) of the Constitution, and Order 179 of the Standing Orders of the House, the Rt. Hon. Speaker referred the Bill to the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs for consideration and report. The Hon Minister for Justice and Attorney-General, Mrs Marietta Brew Appiah-Opong, the Hon Deputy Minister for Interior, Mr James Agalga, Officials from the Legal Drafting Division of the Ministry of Justice and Attorney-General's Department, Millennium Development Authority and the National Security were in attendance at the Committee's Meeting to assist in the deliberations. Reference The Committee referred to the following Documents during its delibera- tions. i. The 1992 Constitution
Thank you Mr Speaker, for giving me an opportunity to contribute to the Motion on the floor. Mr Speaker, it is indeed important for the House to note that we passed the MCC II Compact in record time in this House, without most of us paying attention to what was involved there. Mr Speaker, this is a good opportunity, as we consider the Motion for those who did not pay attention to go back and read it. We took some earth shaking decisions that most of us were not aware of. So when I hear Hon Members go on television and radio and talk about “we are going to sell ECG” I wonder if those Hon Members were in this House. Mr Speaker, this is the document that we approved with some strict conditions. Actually, the whole process of passing this took three days; from the Ministry to the Executive to Parliament to pass such an important document because people thought that we are going to get an amount of $498 million for free. Mr Speaker, as we speak, the IFC which is acting as the transaction adviser is advising the Government on the type of “privatisation” that ECG would go through, whether it is a lease for 25 years it is not very clear, but this is what we approved. Mr Speaker, we also approved and with your permission let me read some of the conditions that we did not pay attention to and this is on page 15 of the Millennium Development Authority (MDA), section 8.3; “Additional Government Responsi- bilities; The Government will ensure that: (a) ECG or NEDCo does not enter into any financial arrangements that MCC reasonably determines would have a material adverse effect on ECG or NEDCO's business, operations, liabilities, c o n d i t i o n s ( f i n a n c i a l o r otherwise), or the prospects for carrying out the Acceptable ECG PSP Transaction or the A c c e p t a b l e N E D C o P S P Transaction”. This is something this House approved and I am asking, as we look through the Motion, if we are aware that that is what we did, Mr Speaker, I do not believe so.
(b) “except for electricity bills subject debt recovery actions, unpaid electricity bills incurred since the signing of this Compact owed to ECG and NEDCo by the agreed MDAs, will not be more than sixty (60) days past due”. What this means is that, going forward, neither ECG nor NEDCo can afford to owe; the MDA's cannot owe bills for more than sixty (60) days. This House agreed to it and we approved it. Mr Speaker, we also agreed that the Government would give a plan to the Millennium Challenge Compact (MCC) that all the debt owed by ECG and NEDCo would be paid by a certain time. Mr Speaker, we do not even know what that stock is. This is the work this House has undertaken for itself. We passed this in a day, nobody asked a question and when some of us were asking the questions they said oh, we are getting US$498 million let us get it. Do we know how much the Ministries Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) owe ECG? We do not. Mr Speaker, I could go on and on about 10 pages of conditionalities that we approved without asking the relevant questions, and now we are coming back because in here, we are supposed to amend the Bill such that the organisational structure of Millennium Development Authority (MiDA) would change. Mr Speaker, as we speak, most people know that in the new organisational structure management has been expanded to at least 23/25 different positions which must be approved by MCC and Ghana Government. That process at the minimum, takes about nine months but we approved it without looking at it. Mr Speaker, technically speaking, until this Bill is approved, nothing under the MCC can take place because it is the organisation that can implement the Compact. It is true that the boss there has been hired, but the Board is not in place, neither are the positions. Mr Speaker, suddenly we have transformed MiDA from a small entity to a huge corporation. There are 23/25 different positions, technical.Now until it goes through that lengthy process of going back and forth; those people who have dealt with the MCC know the process. So in effect, even though we signed the Compact over a year ago nothing can happen until all these processes have taken place and this Bill is changed. Mr Speaker, so I am asking myself, as we go to look at the amendments of the MCC I we should take our time and look at this Compact that we have approved in this House carefully.
Hon Member, how are we going to do that because the House has approved the Compact II already.
That is my whole point, but I am reminding us -
How are we going to do it because the House has approved the Compact II and now we are bringing the
Mr Speaker, that is exactly my point. Maybe, for whatever reason, we did not pay attention. But as we look at the Bill, we should be looking at it together with the Compact II to protect this nation. That is all I am asking. This is because there are very serious undertakings -[Interruption.]
Yes, how are we going to do it because Compact II has been approved?
Mr Speaker, we as a House can have a second look at the Compact and suggest to the Executive to go and renegotiate. We are a sovereign nation?
Yes, that is precise, So they should go and renegotiate?
But assuming we do due diligence; because if we look at the Bill the way we looked at the Compact, I am afraid this nation's interest would not be served.
When was the Compact II approved?
This came to the House sometime last year. We saw it being signed and that is why I am reminding us, let us check the Hansard, it came here quickly, when I raised the issue then they said oh, we are getting US$500 million. Mr Speaker, before you get US$1.00 of the US$500 million, you will pull out your teeth. That is what we are doing. As we said, we do not even know how much MDAs owe ECG, yet we have agreed that Government should pay. Mr Speaker, this is very serious. The Compact is good. We know that the issues in the energy sector
Hon Member for Old Tafo, you are dwelling more on Compact II which has been approved .Even though I believe that there is a relationship between Compact II and the Bill, we are now on the principles of the Bill. I would want to hear something from you on the principle.
That is precisely the point because the Bill informs us, as it were, to undertake a substantive revision of the MiDA organisational structure. As the Hon Attorney-General and Minister for Justice is aware, somebody in America must serve on the Board.
Can we use this Bill to address certain concerns that you are raising with regard to Compact II? We have to be very careful so that the whole debate does not feature on Compact II but to look at the Bill currently before us. I agree that there is a relationship between the Compact and the Bill but it should not be Compact II. It should be the Bill currently before us. That is the point that I am making.
Mr Speaker, the reason they are bringing the Bill is because Compact II requires them to do that. That is the only reason why they are bringing it -Compact II to operationalise the MCC. That is the only reason they are bringing it. I wish I could find the section that talks about it. Mr Speaker, it is here.
What I expect you to do is, just do not talk at large. You should quote a particular paragraph from Compact II and relate it to the particular clause in the Bill, but you just do not [Interruption.]
Mr Speaker, there are so many and that is why I am
That is what you should be doing. If you are worried about Compact II, there is a procedure in this House which can be used to do what you are saying we should do. So you do not hide behind
I am dealing with the principles relating to the Bill. That is exactly where I am heading.
So relate the Compact II to the provisions in the Bill. That is the point I am making.
Mr Speaker, including the Report. The fundamental issue is that, this Bill is brought here because Compact II requires it. In so doing, there will be substantial changes in the organisational structure of MiDA as we find here. In addition, there are other issues that the Bill may not be addressing, which I am drawing our attention to. I am suggesting to this House that in approving the Compact, we skipped certain things that may not be helpful to the sovereign nation of Ghana. So as we consider the Bill, I am bringing Hon Members' attention that they should go and look at the compact so that when we go through the amendment, they can see it properly. That is the attention I am bringing to this House. As we say, we are masters of our procedures. If we find that there is a reason to reject the Bill, we may have to do that. That is the point. I am raising, that because we did not pay attention at that time, I would want to urge this House - Mr Speaker, I am urging you to -
Why are you speaking for the House? Speak for yourself. The House has approved a document and you are saying that -
Mr Speaker, I am inviting you -
Hon Member for Old Tafo, the House has approved a document and you are saying that we did not pay attention in approving it? That is the comment that you are making.
Mr Speaker, I am sure we did not. Mr Speaker, I am inviting you -
Mr Speaker, go and read the Hansard.
Speak for yourself.
Mr Speaker, I am inviting you to direct all Hon Members to go and find their Compact II wherever it is hidden so that they know what they approved. Mr Speaker, when I talked about the ECG debt, most Hon Members were not aware. So if we did due diligence, we would have been aware. What I am saying is not new to anybody who has read it. The Report mentions it. Mr Speaker, that is my contribution.
Hon Member for Old Tafo, which paragraph of the Report?
Mr Speaker, page 3 of 6. Mr Speaker, with your permission, I read. “The Government of the USA has again selected Ghana to benefit from another development pro- gramme under the terms of another agreement termed Compact II. The programme under Compact II will focus on developments in the energy sector. The main purpose of Compact II is to enable the country carry out development infrastruc- ture involving six (6) projects in the energy sector with the aim of improving economic growth and development through the supply of reliable and quality power in the country. The projects are as follows: i. The Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) Financial and Operational Turnaround Project ii. The National Entrepreneurship Development Company Limited ( N E D C O ) F i n a n c i a l a n d Operational Turnaround Project iii. The Regulatory Strengthening and Capacity Building Project iv. The Access Project v. The Power Generation Sector Improvement Project vi. The Energy Efficiency and Demand Side Management Project Mr Speaker, that was what I was referring you to. Mr Speaker, precisely, the National Entrepreneurship Development Company Limited is even wrong.
Hon Member, the point that you are making is in what you have just read.
There is nothing like National Entrepreneurship Development Company Limited.
Hon Members, we would have to focus this debate. I agree that there is a relationship between Compact II and this Bill. There is no doubt at all. The House has approved Compact II. There is a Bill that has been brought to give effect to Compact II. Now, we just do not go and leave what is in the Bill and go and talk about Compact II, which has been approved already. You should link it in a way that there is a provision in the Bill that is against the Compact II. As of now, the House has approved the Compact II.
Mr Speaker, I started off by saying that this House has approved Compact II. The question was, did we understand what we were approving? It is a question.
Hon Members, let me get this well. If we are not careful, we will lose focus. We are not going to put Question on Compact II. Let me put it clearly. This Motion is not about Compact II. I agree that there is a relationship, so you can make reference to Compact II but it is not about Compact II. There is time to which this law gives effect to Compact II. So if there is a particular provision that you are not comfortable with, you can make reference to it but you cannot leave the whole Bill and be talking about Compact II.
Mr Speaker, on page 3 of 6, number (ii), “The National Entre- preneurship Development Company (NEDCO)”. There is no company like that. This Report is talking about NEDCO - where is it found. Can anybody tell me where we can find NEDCO? It does not exist so why did the Committee put it here? [Interruption] What do you mean it is typo? The Hon Chairman did not
Hon Member for Old Tafo, that is a legitimate point that you are now raising. Are you getting my point? So we will find out from the Committee members.
Mr Speaker, you asked me to read the relevant section that I was talking about. When I read it, I looked at (ii). It says “the National Entrepreneurship Development Company Limited (NEDCO)”. There is nothing like that in this country. Where can we find NEDCO in this country? Mr Speaker, it does not exist.
Conclude. I will invite the Hon Chairman to respond to your question but please continue.
Mr Speaker, there is no organisation like that.
Hon Member, continue.
Mr Speaker, I know that there is National Electricity Development Company.
Hon Member for Old Tafo, please conclude. I will ask the Hon Chairman to clarify that position.
Mr Speaker, I -
Is it a point of order?
Yes, on a point of order, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, my Hon Colleague said that when we approved Compact II, he asked a question. “Did we understand what we were doing?” He asked whether this House understood what we were doing when we approved Compact II. That is a very serious -
Hon Member, I have asked him to speak for himself, so that ends that matter. He cannot speak for the House, the House has approved the document so he should speak for himself. If he did not understand when he was voting for or against it, that is for him, but the House as a whole has approved the document.
That is my point. He should talk for himself, not the House.
Mr Speaker, our job here is to assist the Leadership to promote the interest of the people of Ghana and so in trying to address an issue that my Hon Leader may have missed, he should be thanking me. I am sure that he does not know where he is -
You have raised a point about the Committee Report about National Entrepreneurship Development Company Limited (NEDCO), so what is your next point? Conclude.
Mr Speaker, let me read -
I have given you enough opportunity.
In the Bill, it says that the Long Title of Act 702 is amended and with your permission, let me read; “AN ACT to establish the Millen- nium Development Authority to oversee, manage and implement the Programmes under the Millennium Challenge Account for poverty reduction through economic growth as set out in each Agreement between the Govern-ment of Ghana and the Millennium Challenge Cooperation acting for and on behalf of the Government of the United States of America and for any other national development programme of a similar nature funded by the Government of Ghana, a Development Partner or both and to provide for related matters.” Mr Speaker, this language of a similar nature, “funded by the Government of Ghana”; you are aware that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme was approved by the Board, taking due cognisance of the MCC II. So, there is a partnership there, it is linked and that is why I am saying that when you are looking at it, you have to look at all these issues so that we would fully understand what we are doing here. It is very important. I am not knocking down the potential advantages of MCC II. I am suggesting that we might put our signatures to something that if we are not careful, we might not implement but would affect other things. This is why I am saying that as we look at the Bill, when we come to the Consideration Stage, we would be raising issues that matter to the Bill. I thank you.
Thank you very much Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to contribute to the discussion on this Bill. I think that it is very appropriate that we go through this process at this time and I would urge all Hon Members of the House to ensure that we adopt the amendment to the Millennium Develop-ment Authority (MDA) Act in order to ensure that we could implement the second Compact. The operative word here is “implement”. If you were to refer to the Millenium Development Authority Act, 2006 (Act 720), the original Act, you would recognise that when the governing body of the Authority was established, there was absolutely no reference to the Ministries of Energy or Power, because the focus of that Compact was essentially on commercial agriculture and helping us improve our competitiveness in that area and at the same time assisting with other poverty reduction interventions. Schools were built, electricity was connected to different communities and roads were built as well, all with the view to helping improve the productivity of the agricultural sector. This Compact, is for a different subject. It is exclusively for energy, therefore when the governing board is being composed, it is important that the Agencies within this country that have oversight for matters that deal specifically with the issue of energy are incorporated on the Board of the new MDA, and because that provision was not made in the previous Bill, the amendment has to come into this Bill so that we have the appropriate structure. Mr Speaker, I had the opportunity of being a member of the Board of the previous MDA and therefore have had the experience of actually implementing the first Compact. Some of the challenges that we had with the implementation of the first Compact were that though Compact funds were available for projects that, had been defined under it, there were other projects that necessarily needed to be engaged in order to ensure that we achieved the maximum impact of the Compact, as a result of which funding was also obtained,some instances from the Government of Ghana and other funding agencies in order to ensure that those projects could be completed. I am aware that at the end of the Compact, because we had not been able to complete the irrigation project with the Tongu Dam, we actually had to take funds from Export Development and Agricultural Investment Fund (EDAIF) to be able to complete that project. If in this particular Bill, the wording is couched as to create the opportunity for us to be able to work with other sources of development funding in order to be able to achieve the objectives of the Compact, then it is entirely in order and is informed by our previous experience and practice. Mr Speaker, I would also like to add that on the Board of the first MDA, we also had representatives of the MCC. The only thing was that they were non- voting members of the Authority but for all intents and purposes, they sat in every meeting, participated in the deliberations, were involved with us in the implementation of the Compact and we worked together to ensure that it came to a successful conclusion. Mr Speaker, before we came to sign the second Compact, the negotiations on the second Compact took years, and it was because of some of these difficult issues, about how to restructure the agencies within the energy sector, that would be required to bring efficiency, in order to require that we attract more private investments into that sector were very hard decision to take. The negotiations were taken over a period of time and the final compromise is what you see in the second Compact document. We, as a House have approved this document already. The Bill that we are being asked to approve at this point in time is to help us to create an effective administrative structure to oversee the implementation of the second Compact and that is all this Bill is about. We do not have to introduce extra- neous matters that have nothing to do with what we are doing right now, which is to create the administrative oversight structure for the implementation of the second Compact. It is important that we do that in order that these moneys that we are expecting into our system to be able to improve the energy sector and make it more competitive, are brought into being. Mr Speaker, we should not forget that in the United States (US) today, both the Houses of Congress and the Senate are dominated by a party that is focusing much more on fiscal conservatism and would very much like to see the US Government reduce its expenditure abroad. This is to the extent that we believe that we have the luxury to go and come back on issues that we have already agreed on, have negotiated and have been put in place in order to achieve a particular objective and believe that after we do that, those funds would still be waiting for us over there to use on this Compact. That would be a mistake. Mr Speaker, I would urge Hon Members of this House to go through this Bill and make sure that we can approve the amendment so that we can create the administrative infrastructure to oversee the implementation of the second Compact in the interest of this country in order to improve our energy sector and ensure that we are able to have an efficient power sector that helps us to move away from the crisis in which we find ourselves right now. Thank you, very much, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity.
I want you to address me on the issue that you tried to respond to about the membership of the Board, which included a representative of the Millennium Challenge Account and find out whether a non-Ghanaian can sit on the statutory Board and how many of them can.
Mr Speaker, if I may refer to the previous Act, which is the Millennium Development Authority Act, 2006 (Act 702). If I may refer specifically to section 73(3)(a) of the Act: “The following are members of the Board without voting right:
The difference is the voting right?
Yes, Mr Speaker.
Now, they have a voting right and that is the point that the Hon Member for Old Tafo is making, if I get it right. Hon Member for Old Tafo, what point did you make about the representative of the MCC sitting on the Board and having the right to vote?
Mr Speaker, I did not say they would sit and have the right to vote.
You did not say that? Then, there is no difference between the current position and the previous position.
Mr Speaker, there is.
With regard with the MCC representation?
Mr Speaker, I have the list of the new Board as it -
Then, let us get this thing very clear, just for the records. Hon Member, what is the difference?
Mr Speaker, New Compact. In addition to the MCC representative, the Chairman of the Board of ECG, the Chairman of the Board of NEDCO, will serve as non-voting Members of the Board. The Private Sector and Civil Society representatives -
No, I am talking about the point that you made on the MCC sitting on the Board. You made that point and that is why I want the Hon Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration to address that issue.
Mr Speaker, I never said they were voting members.
I said what composition
Then, the status quo has been maintained in terms of the MCC?
Yes, Mr Speaker.
Very well. Yes, Hon Member for Bekwai?
Mr Speaker, the reason we are here amending the Millennium Develop- ment Authority, 2006 (Act 7020) is that, parts of the Act are spent. That, the specific purposes for which the act were set-up have been exhausted, and that the new Compact brings in new responsibilities and for that reason we need to amend the Act to enable a new governing body, a new authority to perform new functions. Mr Speaker, it is also worth emphasing that, this Act is to provide the administrative oversight over the agreement we have already approved in this House. It is in that Agreement that the conditions that we must privatise ECG, make sure all debts owed them are paid up and any issues related to that may not be re-opened, having passed that Bill again. However, it is not out of place to comment upon them and to consider them as challenges that -
Hon Member, nobody has made the ruling that it is out of place. You can use it as a foundation to make your case. But we are not voting on the Compact II because we have voted and approved it already. This is because if we do that and we are not careful, the focus would be on Compact II, instead of the administrative structure as you rightly pointed out, which has been captured in the Bill.
Mr Speaker, therefore, in approving or voting on this Bill, we must be clear in our minds the responsibilities we are taking on as a country. That is why probably, it was important for the Hon Member of the Finance Committee, Dr Akoto Osei, to draw our attention to some of the things we may not have discussed in details. However be it, I think the amendments that are contained in this Bill are necessary and they are apt and it would enable us set out the administrative structures that are required to bring the Compact II into fruition. Mr Speaker, to that extent, I urge all Hon Members to support the Motion and to vote for it to come for the amendment to be carried.
Mr Speaker, thank you very much for the opportunity to associate myself with the Motion ably moved by the Attorney-General, and Minister for Justice that the Millennium Development Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2014 be read a Second time. Mr Speaker, in doing so, let me respond to some earlier issues that were raised. Your Committee must accept the earlier suggestion made by the Hon Member for Old Tafo. Mr Speaker, on page t3, National Entrepreneurship Development Company Limited (NEDCO), must appropriately reflect what was submitted to this House on 16th July, 2014, from the Office of the President on this particular amendment in Compact II. Where NEDCO, is properly defined to mean, the Northern Electricity Distribution Company. Hon Dr Akoto Osei, is very right and the Committee had to have been more diligent as he argued in ensuring that NEDCO was properly captured per the record. And so, page 3 -
Let us get the point clear because - Hon Member, are you a Member of the Committee?
Mr Speaker, no, I did not take part in this deliberation.
Hon Chairman of the Committee, the point being made is that, the company you mentioned at page 3, is not in existence legally. That is the point they are making. What do you say to that?
Mr Speaker, I do acknowledge that it was an error on the part of the Committee.
Where did you get this company from? M r A m o a t e y : M r S p e a k e r , unfortunately, our secretariat just expanded the NEDCO abbreviation they saw.
And you signed it?
Mr Speaker, I do apologise and accept responsibly for this.
Hon Ranking Member for Constitutional, Legal and Parliament Affairs Committee, did you see the Report before it was laid?
Mr Speaker, not before it was laid. I saw it after it was laid.
And you did not draw our attention to it?
Mr Speaker, to be honest with you, I had not taken notice of that error.
Please, can you correct that portion?
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, at page 3 of our Report, I seek your indulgence to correct number (ii) to read, the Northern Electricity Development Company Limited.
Mr Speaker, with your permission let me give him the - Northern Electricity Distribution Company Limited and not “Development”. Mr Speaker, he should be paying me for consulting for him for free but he is my friend and so, it is all right.
Mr Speaker, it was a slip of tongue. I do correct it to read, The Northern Electricity Distribution Company Limited.
Hon Members, it has been amended accordingly.
Mr Speaker, as you stated earlier, we cannot be discussing this amendment in vacuum. The Millennium Development Authority, is intrinsically linked to the Millennium Compact. It is a truism that in 2006 and 2007, the Government of Ghana then benefitted from what one can describe as a democracy dividend, where on the bases of improved good governance and on the bases of improvement in our democratic culture, we were recognised by the policy initiative of the then President of the United States of America (USA), to relate to Africa.
On a point of order. Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister, is misleading this House. He is saying that the benefits that accrued under the previous administration, that is President KufuOr's administration, accrued to the Government. But it accrued to the nation, the people of Ghana and not the Government. He should correct his statement.
Mr Speaker, what I sought to state was that, as a country, we benefited from this intervention because of our encouraging and inspiring democratic credentials and it is same today. It is even better that we have had to sign onto a second Compact, which focuses on the energy sector, which I believe requires urgent and critical reforms of that particular sector. Mr Speaker, the fact remains that the first Millennium Development Authority Legislation that this House passed,was narrowly focused on agriculture for the purpose for which the intervention was done. Today, the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice is leading a discussion that we should expand the remit to economic growth, poverty reduction, and increase investment, including opening opportunity for other development partners. Mr Speaker, I recall, not with any nostalgic feelings that, when the first Compact came to this House I could have quoted one of our own, but I will quote him not on the record ”the money is big oo” [Laughter] They will understand. Today, the money is even bigger. I will pay royalties to a former Member of Parliament of the House on the other side at the time. Mr Speaker, we are benefiting today, as I read your record from my Hon Colleague, the Ranking Member of the Finance Committee; US$493 million, but even if we look at what was presented to the House, we are talking of US$535, 565,000 from the United States of America for purposes of the second Compact.
Mr Speaker, I know my Hon Colleague is getting excited about; “the money is big oo”. He is quoting him and he says that this one is bigger. Mr Speaker, one has to be careful when reading numbers. What we are getting is US$498 million. We, the people of Ghana must contribute that addition. It is not coming from them. The previous one was more than this. I just want to correct it for the records. The US$535,565,000 includes Government of Ghana (GoG) contribution.
Mr Speaker, I had the privilege and honour to join President John Dramani Mahama and the Minister for Finance, Hon Seth Terkper with my Hon Colleague, when this was signed and it was very significant for Ghana. Mr Speaker, today, we are talking of challenges in the energy sector. I am just reading an article written by Abdala Salem El-Badri, Secretary-General of OPEC on First Forum for Decision Makers First Memorandum Energy Future and with
your permission, I beg to quote He says: “Energy is central to everything we do; for individuals, for businesses, for Government”. Critical infrastructure That it can paralyse
Hon First Deputy Speaker to take the Chair.
[MR FIRST DEPUTY SPEAKER IN THE CHAIR.]
Mr Speaker, part of it, as my Hon Colleague, the Ranking Member for the Finance Committee said, and I would just go to page 2 of what was submitted to the House: “The objective of the programme is to increase private sector invest- ment and the productivity and profitability of Micro, Small, Middle and Large Scale Businesses; increase employment opportunities for men and women; raise earning potentials from self-employment and others”. But the programme consists of six major projects as stated, the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) Financial and Operational Turnaround Project. We are all in agreement that the ECG needs urgent and critical reforms. We all demand a daily efficiency here, that the ECG must become more efficient in the delivery or distribution of electricity. There are leakages and il legal connections. We should find a way to deal with it, because that accounts for some revenue loses to the State and the Republic. Mr Speaker, NEDCO Financial and Operational Turnaround Project I recall in this same House that was when we took a major decision to hive NEDCO away from Volta River Authority (VRA), if you
Thank you very much. Hon Members, I think there has been enough by way of contribution. Before I put the Question, I do not know if the Hon Attorney-General and Minister for Justice has some closing remarks to make.
Mr Speaker, I thank Hon Members for the contributions they have made. We have taken note of the comments and of course, when we are reviewing the Bill itself, we will take the comments into consideration.
Very well, Hon Members, I will put the Question. Question put and Motion agreed to. The Millennium Development Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2014 was accordingly read a Second time.
Mr Speaker, the advertised Business in item 5, would not proceed Committees have been advertised to meet after adjournment. Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that this House adjourns to tomorrow at 10.00 o'clock in the morning.
Any seconder? Hon Members, there appears to be some confusion. Probably, we would have to suspend Sitting for some time for you to sort out the Business you would want us to deal with.
Mr Speaker, we agree with you.
So, how long should we suspend Sitting?- [Paused.]
Mr Speaker, the under- standing is for 20 minutes.
Very well. Hon Members, Sitting is accordingly suspended for 20 minutes. 12.18 p.m. Sitting suspended. 12.40 p.m. Sitting resumed.
Hon Deputy Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, we would move to the Business on the Order Paper Addendum.
Very well. Hon Members, item 1 on the Order Paper Addendum - Motion by the Hon Minister for Finance.
Mr Speaker, with your indulgence, I would like to ask for permission for the Hon Deputy Minister for Finance to take the Motion listed on the Order Paper Addendum.
Mr Speaker, we have no objections.
Mr Speaker, I rise to draw your attention to the fact that the clock in the Chamber is dysfunc-tional. It says ten minutes past ten in the morning. Is there anything we could do about that, Mr Speaker?
Very well, but fortunately, before us we have the multimedia gadget which shows the correct time. Steps would be taken to correct whatever defects there are on that clock. Hon Deputy Minister for Finance?
Mr Speaker, I beg to move that, notwithstanding the provisions of Standing Order 131 (1) which require that when a Bill has passed through the Consideration Stage, the Third Reading thereof shall not be taken until at least twenty-four hours have elapsed, the Motion for the Third Reading of the Petroleum Revenue Management (Amendment) Bill, 2015 may be moved to day.
Mr Speaker, I rise to second the Motion.
Hon Members, it is a procedural Motion. I would put the Question. Question put and Motion agreed to.
Item number 2 on the Order Paper Addendum - Motion.
Mr Speaker, I am standing on Order 130 of the Standing Orders of the House to seek the permission and the leave of the House to take the Petroleum Revenue Management (Amendment) Bill, 2015, through a Second Consideration Stage in respect of clauses 2 and 6.
Mr Speaker, I second the Motion.
Hon Members, the Motion has been moved and seconded. I would put the Question. Question put and Motion agreed to.
Hon Members, the Petroleum Revenue Management (Amendment) Bill, 2015 at the Second Consideration Stage.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that clause 2 of the Bill, which deals with section 7 of the principal enactment should be carried. Mr Speaker, when we did the Consideration Stage, we had abandoned this amendment because the Committee was of the view that the provision in the principal enactment under section 7 should remain. Mr Speaker, but upon further discussion with the Ministry, the Committee is now convinced that the provision as we have in the Bill should be carried. So, clause 2 of the Bill says that: “The principal enactment is amended by the substitution of section 7 of: “Carried and participating interest ‘7. Revenue due from the director or indirect participation of the Republic in petroleum opera- tions, including the carried and participating interest, shall be paid into the Petroleum Holding Fund”. Mr Speaker, this means that, this would be the only provision now under section 7 of the principal enactment.
Hon Majority Chief Whip?
Mr Speaker, I think we would be very happy if the Hon Chairman would explain what this amendment means and its implication on the original Act. This is because, I believe that if this amendment is not well understood, we may be doing something that may not be very clear to us. So, we would be grateful if he could explain and tell us the implication of this amendment on the original Act.
Mr Speaker, I would want to refer to section 7 of the principal enactment, which deals with carried and participating interest. Now clause 7 (1) is being maintained in the Bill and what is being deleted in clause 7, is from 7 (2) and (3). Mr Speaker, the purpose is that, in the principal enactment, clause 7 (2) says that; “The payment into the Petroleum Holding Fund shall be net of: a) the equi ty f inancing cost including advances and interest on the carried and participating interest of the Republic. b) the cash or the equivalent barrels of oil that shall be ceded to the national oil company out of the carried and participating interests recommended by the Minister and approved by Parliament”. Mr Speaker, which means that, whatever revenue that is coming from the petroleum receipts, one must pay directly to the national oil company which is the Ghana National Petroleum Company (GNPC) for equity financing cost before the balance is paid into the Petroleum Holding Fund (PHF). The argument now is that, all petroleum revenue is for the State and for that matter, everything must go into the PHF first before disbursement is made. So, that is the reason we are amending this, and the order of the disbursement would be done when we come to clause 6 of the Bill, and in that case, when we get there, one would see that, the first disbursement must be made to the national oil company which is the GNPC within 3 days after receipt of the petroleum revenue. So, this is just to cure that provision that, the money must first hit the Consolidated Fund in this case, the public fund which is the Peroleum Holding Fund (PHF) before disbursement is made to the GNPC. That is the purpose of this amendment to cure that provision.
Let us hear you.
Mr Speaker, with the current Bill, clause 2 (2), says; “The petroleum revenue shall be deposited in the Petroleum Holding Fund for subsequent transfers in accordance with the provisions of this Act”. Then when you go to clause 7 (2), it says; “The payment into the Petroleum Holding Fund shall be net of: c) the equity financing cost including advances and interest on the carried and participating interest of the Republic. d) the cash or the equivalent barrels of oil that shall be ceded to the national oil company out of the carried and participating interests recommended by the Minister and approved by Parliament”.
Let us hear from the Hon Ranking Member.
Mr Speaker, we are here as the people's representatives to protect the public purse. Oil revenues would not be with us forever. The Constitution tells us what to do about the public revenue that is raised on behalf of Ghana. A state institution like the GNPC. We are talking about some of the mischiefs which we gave the money to do ‘x', ‘y' ,‘z', they went and paid 30 million US dollars to Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) which we did not approve. If we talk about diseases, we should look at the history of GNPC.They went to borrow money from the US Bank and Government had to pay. What is so special about the GNPC that we want to give them all the revenues? Mr Speaker, the Bank of Ghana (BoG) in our Committee meeting told us that, in the initial stages, they had difficulty getting the GNPC to transfer the money back to them. Do we know how much money we can make if we put on US$ 1 million overnight? Mr Speaker, if we have some difficulties with the Ministry of Finance, let us deal with it but let us not say because the GNPC says so -We know their track record. We have the Constitution to go by. The PHF is already a temporary account and the GNPC wants to create another temporary account before the money gets into the BoG. We talk about disease? There is evidence that in the initial stages, there were serious difficulties in getting them to transfer the money. Oil revenue is not going to be with us forever, please. As I said, if you want me to list some more, it is a different matter. Mr Speaker, let us do what is right by the Constitution by the Act. That other section, is in contradiction with the earlier one. What we want to do is to prioritise the disbursement but the receipt must hit this temporary Government account and then let us get the BoG, as the Chairman would be proposing, to within three days - If BoG is not implementing the law, it is a different matter. Let us not throw the baby with the bath water, this is true transparency in Government. This way, you and I, when we look at the accounts of the BoG, we can see that, today, we received GH¢100 million, three days later, GH¢20 million went to the GNPC. When GNPC came to us, they referred to some accounting standards. They are receiving the money on behalf of the Government, they do not own it. The people of Ghana own it and they ought to know that, when we sold oil and receive the revenue, it all came to us. The BoG accounts would look at - And then the receipts and the expenditure are two different things and we ought to make them strong but let us not give them an opportunity to misbehave. Mr Speaker, if Hon Majority Chief Whip gave GNPC approval to spend money on something else and behind his back, they went and paid 30 million US dollars to TOR, would he ask them why? So, it is a different matter. It is a State institution, we think that the Ministry of Finance and the Bank of Ghana have the responsibility to explain to us how much money is coming in and that is why it goes into the Consolidated Fund. I do not know of any State organisation that takes all the money and then brings it back to the Consolidated Fund. The accounting would be very difficult for even the Controller and Accountant- General and we cannot track it that way. This is the best way to track it. Somebody could go and attack that account because the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) is a private entity. Once that is attached, the whole nation is finished. We should remember that we have a law that we cannot attach the Petroleum Heritage Fund (PHF). If it goes to GNPC first, it can be attached. Is that what we want? I do not believe so. So, let us separate the two. Let us do what is right by the Constitution. I thank you.
Yes, Hon Minister for Employment and Labour Relations?
Mr Speaker, after I have listened to the Hon Ranking Member for the Finance Committee, I am persuaded to urge my Hon Colleague, the Hon Majority Chief Whip, to abandon his opposition to this very important amendment moved by the Hon Deputy Minister for Finance. I am sure after I have listened to the Hon Ranking Member, I need not add anything.
Yes, Hon Majority Chief Whip?
Mr Speaker, in fact, my position has been strengthened by what was being said by the Hon Akoto Osei, the Hon Ranking Member for the Committee on Finance. And my fear of what could be happening has further been echoed and I would be very happy that Hon Members of Parliament - [Interruption] -- Let us pay attention to this very well. My only caveat would be if the amendment that we would be propose in subclause (6) would say “immediately”. It is done, where the moment something drops it immediately moves because it is a transient account. Mr Speaker, Hon Haruna Iddrisu quoted article 175 of the Constitution, he should further read that Parliament authorised that to be done. And it is legitimate, it is not inconsistent with the Constitution. When Parliament authorised that the Petroleum Holding Fund should be created, it is legitimate. That transient account is legitimate because Parliament authorised it and then we said that if the interest is to be able to account for whatever drops in as was said by the Hon Ranking Member, I would say that yes. But that would mean that instead of saying three days, we should rather say “immediately”. So, that you would be able to account for it but immediately it should move out. Mr Speaker, the reason I am saying this is that this is our -
Hon Member, are you up on a point of order?
Mr Speaker, this is on a point order. He is misleading this House and that is the point that my Hon Colleague here raised. The current Act, Section 2 (2) reads and I beg to quote: “The petroleum revenue shall be deposited in the Petroleum Holding Fund for subsequent transfers in accordance with provisions of this Act.” Section 7 (2) says and I beg to quote: “The payment into the Petroleum Holding Fund shall be net …” There is an inconsistency by our own doing. We are seeking to cure that inconsistency and for the other reasons that I have mentioned. He talked about immediate transfers. Please, it is coming as three days. The reason is simple: you need to reconcile before you can transfer. When you say immediate, how “immediate” is “immediate”. In fact, his proposal is even worse. “Immediate” can be three years. That was why we said ‘within three days'. So, please, he should take heart; he should abandon it. This is for the interest of the people of Asante Mampong. They are interested to make sure that we do not give GNPC the opportunity to potentially misbehave. We are not legislating because of the people who are around, we are legislating for posterity and there is evidence from Bank of Ghana of what happened. We do not have to go through all of that. I beg my Hon Colleague. Please, for the people of -
Very well. Let us hear him and then I would listen to the Hon Minority Leader. Yes, Hon Majority Chief Whip?
Mr Speaker, that was why I said that because we want to create consistency with section 2 (2) and then section 7 (2), I would accept that we put it into the Petroleum Holding Fund but the period of three days -- Mr Speaker, he knows that in the banking system when the whole thing drops and it moves, you can still reconcile. If this House, even per this Act, decides not to play its oversight of GNPC, we would have ourselves to blame. This is because per this Act, they are supposed to present their programme of activity annually for us to approve. So, if you and I decide not to play that oversight, we should not use impediments to prevent the national oil company from playing its strategic role. Mr Speaker, we just found oil. If you take other countries that have found oil for so many years - for example, Trinidad and Tobego has found oil for over 100 years, Malaysia found oil for over 40 years - the role the national oil companies play is to propel the development of those countries. Let us not be creating impediments in the way of the national oil company. That is why I support that they need to be accountable and by the law of this country, we have asked them to always bring their programme of activities for us to approve. During Budget times, they have to bring their budget for us to see. It is for us to be proactive and play the oversight responsibilty but let us not try to use laws to impede the operation of the national oil company. Mr Speaker, I would abandon my position now because of trying to get the consistency, but I hope when we get to Clause 6, the three days, in my view, 72 hours is such a long period in business. I would suggest that when we get there to reduce the number of days to, at least, within one day -
Hon Member, we are not yet there.
I would abandon the amendment for now for us to be able to make progress.
Very well. Thank you. Hon Minority Leader, would it be necessary for you to make the contribution after their abandonment?
Mr Speaker, the danger is, he is saying that he is abandoning it for now. We never know when he is going to resurrect it.
Mr Speaker, I have abandoned it.
Mr Speaker, he talks about inconsistency. It is not merely for the inconsistency. It is even unconstitutional because the Constitu-tion provides in article 175, and with your permission, I beg to quote: “The public funds of Ghana shall be the Consolidated Fund, the Contingency Fund and such other public funds as may be established by or under the authority of an Act of Parliament.” Mr Speaker, what the GNPC is doing, taking the moneys into whatever accounts, that account is not known to the Constitution. That is why what they are doing is not only illegitimate, but unconstitutional. It is very dangerous because GNPC's assets could be attached. The moment they take the money, it becomes their assets, and if they fall fowl to any law in their transaction to any entity, that entity could seek to attach that amount being held by the GNPC supposedly on behalf of the country. And they cannot do that on behalf the country. They have no such mandate. In any event, what arrangement that Parliament has done for them is a transitional arrangement. We have given ourselves up to 15 years. Beyond 15 years, we are going to revisit the matter, and perhaps Parliament might agree not to even further resource GNPC. This is because, in our consideration, they might have come of age. That is how it is, and attention is being drawn to the fact that, by section two of the parent Act, which establishes the Petroleum Holding Fund, (2) says the Petroleum Revenue shall be deposited and whatever amount that goes to GNPC is part of the Petroleum Revenue, and so it should hit the account of the Petroleum Holding Fund. That is why he spoke about the inconsistency between section 2 (2) and 7(2). Mr Speaker, further down, payment into the Holding Fund. “(3)(1) Petroleum revenue due the Republic derived from whatever source shal l be assessed, collected and accounted for by the Ghana Revenue Authority.”
“(3)(2) The Petroleum Revenue assessed as due each month shall be paid by direct transfer into the Petroleum Holding Fund by the entity. Fifteenth day of the ensuing month by the entities obliged to make the payment.” Why does GNPC circumvent the process to take hold of the money for whatever? And he was asking you, if they took say US$50 million and held it for one week, does he know the accruals? Sometimes, they even refuse to immediately transmit same to the Petroleum Holding Fund. That is most incongruous to the Act that Parliament has established. They are not laws on themselves, and they could not be laws on themselves, so, he was supporting a wrong course. Even though I agree with the principle that he is advocating, that we should seek to stabilise GNPC, and not do anything that would hurt their operations, they should not also create an empire to themselves. That empire they seek to create must be collapsed in the interest of Ghana. Mr Speaker, I see the Hon Majority Chief Whip nodding profusely, and I believe that he now understands.
Thank you Hon Member. I think I now get the sense of the House. I believe we have heard enough on this issue. Should I put the Question? Question put and amendment agreed to. Clause 6 -
Mr Speaker, I beg to move that The Principal enactment is amended by the substitution for section 16 of “Disbursement from the Petroleum Holding Fund 16. (1) Disbursement from the Petroleum Holding Fund shall be made in the following order of priority and only: (a) to a national oil company for the purpose of subsection (2)(a) and (2)(b); (b) to the Consolidated Fund in support of the national budget; (c) to the Ghana Petroleum Funds for purposes of savings and investments; and (d) for the exceptional purposes according to the provisions of this Act. (2) The payment to a national oil company shall be for the following: (a) the equity financing cost, including advances and interest of the carried and participating interests of the Republic; and (b) the cash or the barrels of oil equivalent of petroleum that shall be ceded to a national oil company out of the carried and participating interests of the Republic, on the recommen- dation of the Minister and approval by Parliament. (3) For a period not exceeding fifteen years after the commencement of this Act, the cash or barrels of oil equivalent of petroleum ceded to a national oil company shall (a) not exceed fifty-five per cent of the net cash flow from the carried and participating interest
of the Republic after deducting the equity financing cost under paragraph (a) of subsection (2); and (b) be reviewed every three years by Parliament; but Parliament shall in each year approve the pro-gramme of activities of that national oil company which may include the gas payment or repayment obligations of the national oil company in respect of a loan that the national oil company may raise to finance the operations and activities of that national oil company. (4) The Minister shall ensure that the Bank of Ghana transfers to a national oil company, the relevant portion of the petroleum revenue due to that national oil company under subsection (2)(a) and (2) (b) not later than three working days after the receipt of petroleum revenue into the Petroleum Holding Fund.”
Yes, Hon Majority Chief Whip?
Mr Speaker, in consistence to what I said earlier, I would want to further propose that in the case of subsection 4, line 4, after “(2)(b)”, the “not later than three working days” be deleted and substituted with “not later than a day; not exceeding one day” after the receipt of the petroleum revenue into the Petroleum Holding Fund. That is within one day.
Yes, Hon Member, could you give the rationale for this proposal; the difference between one day and the three days? 1. 20 p.m.
Mr Speaker, in the Bill, we have three working days, and so it could be in three days. But the three days could sometimes be five days. When it is on weekends, it would not be affected. But Mr Speaker, now, in our banking systems, I have an account where even on weekends, because of the instructions given, it is automatically done. - [Interruption] -- it is direct. This is because there is an instruction. Even if it is a Sunday, once it is the first day of the month, straight from my account there is an automatic instruction that moves it out, but one could track it. Mr Speaker, if the purpose is for them to reconcile and we are not afraid of the behaviours of Ministers for Finance, then if we say‘within' or ‘not exceeding a day' - But if we say the purpose is just to reconcile within an hour, once the thing has dropped and moved, we can still reconcile. Unless there are other motives that they do not want to tell all of us. So Mr Speaker, if it is for reconciliation as they claim, then within the 24 hours, it is possible for it to be done and not necessarily three working days. This is because three working days could end up being so many days.
Very well. Let us hear from the Hon Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, after that the Chairman of the Finance Committee.
Mr Speaker, my Hon Colleague keeps on saying, “if it is for reconciliatory purposes”. That to his knowledge is not the only reason - professionally not very practical. I have said that. Three, it is constitutional and very legal to take the accounts here and transfer subsequently as contained in the Bill. Mr Speaker, in his submission, he made a very serious statement that with your indulgence, I would want him to withdraw. What is the behaviour of Finance Ministers in this country? He should tell the House the behaviour of Finance Ministers in this country which he does not like and he is not happy with and thinks would impede GNPC from receiving their funds within the three days. He should tell us. It is very unfair, other than that, he should withdraw. Mr Speaker, the three days we are talking about, it is within three days, we believe it is very practical and would not impede transfers to GNPC in any way. It would not delay them. If it is in the statutes that it should go within three days, whoever delays it may have infringed or breached the statute and that person should get his sanctions for it. So what is his fear? Mr Speaker, I believe that money should be properly recorded and reconciled before transfers are made. But to my amazement, I do not know what he fears. What is in GNPC such that whatever money is due them should be given them in three minutes? What is there? If we do not give GNPC their money within 72 hours, what would happen? He should tell us. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Very well. Chairman of the Committee?
Mr Speaker, I would want to plead with the Majority Chief Whip to abandon his proposal of “a day or two”. Mr Speaker, what is being transferred to GNPC is the equity financing cost, which needs to be determined first. It is not a figure which is known already, so that as soon as money hits the Petroleum Holding Fund, we transfer. So the three working days is sufficient enough for that
I would take a few more comments and then I would put the Question. Hon K. T. Hammond?
Mr Speaker, I am simply trying to let the House understand that -
I did not hear you.
Mr Speaker, I would barely continue. My Leader interrupted me so my focus was taken away from what I was saying. But the point I was making is that, I am just trying simply to let the House understand that we should not allow a lot of GNPC influence in the debate of these matters and subsequently in the big bill that would be coming to this House. Mr Speaker, I am not trying to accuse my Hon Colleague of anything but if he has become so pro-GNPC, he is not the Chairman of the Board of Directors for GNPC. They can speak for themselves. Even they -
Mr Speaker, I knew he was going to jump up - [Laughter.]
Mr Speaker, I hope my Hon Colleague would withdraw what - [Interruption.]
Mr Speaker, I am prepared to withdraw that.
Mr Speaker, GNPC is a national asset -
Mr Speaker, it is
Mr Speaker, he should be careful. He is not also a detractor of GNPC.
Mr Speaker, it is withdrawn. And his statement is withdrawn as well is that not it? Mr Speaker, on the matter of moneys paid to GNPC, my Hon Colleague is very well aware of the fact that for the millions that are paid to them on yearly basis, they spend peanut of it. There is a document, which he has a copy, in which GNPC is telling us that of the GH¢300 million that they were given last year, they have about close to GH¢200 million of it outstanding as of today unspent. So Mr Speaker, I am not so sure why my Hon Colleague is troubled about 24 hours or 72 hours, and so on. What is the reason for that? Mr Speaker, GNPC has a bigger agenda and as far as some us are concerned, it is unhealthy for the -
There we go again, Mr Speaker.
Yes, Hon Deputy Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, he has already finished. I think the consensus is that my Chief Whip is likely to withdraw his -
Hon Members, I think that it would be fair at this point to put the Question.
Mr Speaker, I have not actually concluded. Because he got up, I thought that I should - I have not concluded. With the withdrawal, I withdrew mine, I am not sure he withdrew his. But he is my brother and I am not worried about his statement. Mr Speaker, the point is that GNPC is not spending the money. So if we sit here and split heads about two hours or three hours that the money is not transferred to them, for a whole year, the money sits there. So what is the point of one or two hours if indeed, the Finance Minister says that he requires seven days or one month for proper reconciliation to give them their money? Mr Speaker, GNPC is embarking on a very serious agenda and it is that they want to hijack all the oil resources of this country for their own appropriation.
Very well. Thank you very much.
We would not agree to that. We are going to go through this properly.
Thank you very much too. Yes, Hon Ranking Member?
Mr Speaker, I plead with my good friend from the Ashanti Region. He is from Ashanti Mampong. He should look at the old law, section 3, so that he understands the reasons why we need a few days. When the payment is made by an entity, the entity must notify Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) itself. So even within the entity and GRA, there must be some reconciliation. Bank of Ghana should not just release the money because the entity said they have paid. Mr Speaker, so first, there must be some work done by GRA and the entity before disbursements could be made. The assessment could even be wrong. So three days is a reasonable time for Bank of Ghana to do the disbursement because the work between the entity and GRA itself could take more than that. But we are forcing GRA and the entity to do the reconciliation so that when Bank of Ghana is informed by GRA that everything is all right, then the money goes. As he has already said, there have been a surplus of the budget we have approved for GNPC every year, not even one year that there has not been a surplus. Mr Speaker, so please, I beg him, for the sake of our friendship, he should abandon the amendment.
Yes, Hon Majority Chief Whip?
Mr Speaker, we do not carry things on friendship basis. It is on principle. If the argument is that they believe that three working days is enough for whatever reconciliation and deductions and computations is adequate, I would want to add that as we proceed this way, this House should take it as its responsibility to ensure that this caveat is not going to be abused because all the fear is the tendency for abuse. Mr Speaker, Hon Agyeman-Manu was talking about the examples of Ministers for Finance and he knows that if we want to mention them, we would get to tomorrow morning here. If he wants, I could find for him. For many years,none of the Agencies get what is appropriated to them, yet when we come to this House we see that they have spent more than even what we have appropriated to them. That is one of the reasons. It is because of the abuse. Once this has been assured, I hope that, we would all monitor and ensure that the right things are done. I therefore abandon the amendment.
Mr Speaker, before you put the Question, I would just like to draw the attention of the Committee to this construction that we have in 2(b), whether indeed, we are on the right trajectory. When 2(b) provides, “The payment to the national oil company shall be for the following …” One is equity cost and so on, but (b) is “the cash or the barrels of oil equivalent of petroleum that shall be ceded to a national oil company”. Mr Speaker, petroleum is defined to include gas. Is the standard of measure also in barrels when we come to gas?That is my only worry, if we are right there. I thought maybe it may be something else.
Mr Speaker, I think that the import of that amendment is well understood, but if it is not clear then we could ask the drafts persons to make it the right word, but I think that the reference being made here is to the crude oil.
After we have taken the Motion, we would direct the drafts persons to clean it up and make it more presentable.
Mr Speaker, thank you, because when we were dealing with it we really had not considered gas, even though we defined petroleum to include gas, so they should just look at it to capture that leg in respect of gas, what standard of measure they apply? Otherwise, the principle is understood. Question put and amendment agreed to.
I direct that the drafts persons take a second look at the rendition and see how best to clean it up.
Mr Speaker, I would like to crave the indulgence of the Chair. Yesterday we made a small amendment but it was incorrect. When we were defining “expert”, remember we said “firm includes”, and then we cancelled “and” to “all”. It should be “and”, the amend-ment is incorrect. We talked about it, so if it pleases Mr Speaker, if we could take that as part of the second consideration so that we retain what was in there.
Very well. I think that should be taken up by the drafts persons, since you have drawn our attention to it.
This brings us to the end of Consideration of the Petroleum Management (Amendment) Bill.
BILLS -- THIRD READING
Mr Speaker, the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee has informed me that item 8 cannot proceed. In the circumstances, I beg to move that we do adjourn till tomorrow morning.
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion.
Very well. Hon Members - [Interruption] -- but he has seconded it.
Mr Speaker, is he on a Point of Order? Mr Speaker, I seconded the Motion for adjournment. I am surprised my Hon Colleague is raising issues on this matter.
Well, Hon Member, as far as I am concerned, you have seconded the motion. I have no indication that you do not understand what is going on.
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