Hon Members, do we have copies of the Votes and Proceedings of Wednesday, 15th July 2015?
Hon Members, we would defer correction of Votes and Proceedings for Wednesday, 15th July, 2015. At the commencement of Public Business -- yes?
Mr Speaker, last week Thursday, a referral was made to the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs as regards the Ghana Aids Commission Bill. You may recall that, this Bill, in the last Parliament, was with the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs for four years, and I repeatedly had to intervene that it abstains. Subsequently, the Ghana Aids Commission had a series of meetings with the Committee on Health to re-organise the Bill, and we have done so. Unfortunately, when it was referred to the committee some of us were not here. We only found out that the Committee on Health had been left out because it was signed by the Attorney-General, but it is purely a health matter and the organisation of the Executive -- I would plead with the Chair that, you add the Committee on Health or probably do a re-referral, as you so please, Mr Speaker.
Very well. Let me take comments from the two Leaders on this matter. Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I think it is important that we allow the Committee on Health to be part of it. B Because it first went to the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs. They laboured to deal with it, and because of that , consideration was stalled for some time. So, I think that the Committee on Health should be joined to it and the two Committees would be able to deal with it and submit a Report to the House as early as possible.
Yes, Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, the Ghana Aids Commission operates under the Office of the President, but it performs a duty that falls under the Ministry of Health. So, the supervision definitely is by the Office, but the technical aspect is by the Ministry. So, there would be no harm in referring it to a joint Committee of Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and the Committee on Health but not Finance. I think we do not need the Finance Committee as at now. It is Health and Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs. I totally agree. That is fine.
Very well. Hon Members, I am adding the Select Committee on Health to the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, to handle the Bill as a Joint Committee. Hon Member for Old Tafo?
Mr Speaker, the oversight responsibility of the Aids Commission is by the Finance Committee -- [Interruptions]-- The Office of the President, we have been looking at their budget, yes. Please, check, it is on record. This is a House of record. The Hon Chairman is here, he could confirm.
When the Bill is done, it is out of your hands.
Yes, but for now -- so I would suggest --
Referred to the Joint Committee accordingly. Hon Member for Subin?
Mr Speaker, on a more mundane matter. If you go to the washrooms, there are paper dispensers as well as liquid soap dispensers. But today, we have been reduced to using Bel -Aqua bottles for our liquid soap, and more recently, I think they put some Sunlight bottles without Sunlight in there. I think this is not good enough for this House. I would urge you to probably take a decision on it. I do not know whether it is the House Committee, or it is the Board which should be in charge. But it is not good. We go to the place and there is no paper to wipe -- and the dispensers are there. Why did we put them there in the first place?
Hon Member for Subin, you are completely out of order. You know the practice is that welfare matters are not discussed on the floor of the House. Normally, you would draw the attention of Leadership, who would bring it to the attention of the Clerk and the matter would then be addressed. If it is not addressed after you have done that, then we move it, if need be, to the floor of the House.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. I did not think it was a welfare matter. I thought it was a standards matter, which is why I brought it to the floor of the House.
It is a welfare matter.
Mr Speaker, if you say so.
At the commencement of Public Business, Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, we could handle item number 4. I am told that the Finance Committee has some business for us at 4(c) (i), (ii) and (iii). I think these are ready -- [Pause.] --
So, you are laying all the Papers?
The Hon Chairman says (iv) is not ready. That is why I said (i), (ii) and (iii). Item number 4(b), the Committee on Defence and Interior, their Report is also ready to be laid. I do not have any information on item number 4 (a) so we could skip that.
Very well. Hon Members, at the commencement of Public Business, Presentation of Papers, item number 4 on the Order Paper. We will start with item number 4 (c), by the Chairman of the Finance Committee.
Item 4 (c) (iii). (iii) Report of the Finance Committee on the Request for waiver of Import Duty, Import VAT, Import NHIL, ECOWAS Levy, EDAIF, and other applicable fees and charges amounting to two million, four hundred and ninety- six thousand, six hundred and seventy euros (€2,496,670.00) on materials and equipment to be used under the Buyer Credit Agreement between the Govern- ment of the Republic of Ghana and ABN AMRO N.V. of Netherlands in respect of the “Accelerating Tuberculosis (TB) Case Detection” Project.
Mr Speaker, item number 4(b).
Hon Members, item number 4(b), by the Chairman of the Committee on Defence and Interior. (b) By the Chairman of the Committee -- Report of the Committee on Defence and Interior on the Immigration Service Bill, 2015.
Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, if we could handle the Consideration Stage of the Income Tax Bill, 2015, after which we could handle a few Motions. It is quite an important Bill and we have to get it through by next week.
Hon Members, the Income Tax Bill, 2015 at the Consideration Stage.
BILLS -- CONSIDERATION STAGE
Yes, Hon Member for Old Tafo?
Mr Speaker, I understand a decision has already been taken on clause 1, so I do not know why you are going through that again.
Have you started the Consideration stage?
Yes, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, we did clauses 1 to 3.
Mr Speaker, yesterday, we had some winnowing and there are further amendments that we would want to consider in clauses 1 to 3 that we have done already.
That will be at the Second Consideration stage.
Then let us move straight to clause 4. Clause 4 -- Income from employment Yes, Hon Chairman of the Committee?
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 4, subclause (2), paragraph (a), subparagraph (vi), line 1, delete “93” and insert “94”. Mr Speaker, the cross referencing is not correct, so the amendment is to correct that.
Hon Members, I will put the Question. Question put and amendment agreed to.
Mr Speaker, we have a further amendment which has not been captured on the Order Paper, so if you would permit me, I will move that one.
Mr Speaker, the Committee observed that the rendition under clause 4 (1), line 2, talks about “gains and profits”. When you come to clause 4 (2), line 1, it is captured as “profits and gains.” Mr Speaker, to be consistent with the first one, we want your permission to direct --
It is a drafting issue, I so direct. Table Office should take note.
Mr Speaker, another one on the same clause 4 (2), after paragraph (viii), the next one on page 11 should be (ix), but not (d). So, if that should also be looked at by the draftpersons.
I am not getting the point you are making.
Mr Speaker, you would see that under clause 4 (2), you have paragraph (a), then subparagraph (i) and it continues to the next page. The first on the next page should be numbered (ix), but it was captured as (d). So, that should also be corrected.
Very well. It is a drafting issue, it should be (ix). So, are we deleting (d) to make it (ix)? So, move the amendment.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 4 (2), paragraph (a), subparagraph (d), Mr Speaker, delete “(d)” and insert “ix”. Question put and amendment agreed to.
Mr Speaker, I need your guidance. We were advised to go through some winnowing. Yesterday, there was a minor amendment on clause 3.
Yes, the Hon Chairman raised it. I said that since the Question has already been put on it, we will clean it during the Second Consideration Stage. He raised the issue earlier. Hon Members, I will now put -- Yes, Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, since you are purposed to put the Question on that, maybe, you could put the Question and I will bring us back. 11. 00 a. m.
Mr Speaker, in respect of clause 4 (2), I think the Hon Chairman skipped something.
“A person who is ascertaining the profits…” Mr Speaker, the preambular.
Yes. “A person…”
Mr Speaker, the arrangement of the “profits and gains”, that was what the Hon Chairman of the Committee spoke to. But that construction should read: “A person who ascertains…” and not “A person who is ascertain- ing…” “A person who ascertains the gains and profits…” Then, as he said, some territory has already been covered in respect of some earlier provision. I thought that consequentially, it would affect those ones that we have already covered. But that is the start-off and then consequentially, it will affect most others. There is only one that precedes it; maybe, we could deal with that. Then the --
Hon Minority Leader, I think the meaning is still the same. Whether we leave the “ascertain” or “ascertaining”, it is the same and it does not really change in my view. Unless you insist, then you can move it and I will throw it to the floor.
Mr Speaker, really, as you said, the value is the same. We are talking about the style of drafting. The present continuous --
It is a process.
The present continuous is usually not the style. It is the person who does it who would have to consider this.
The person who is ascertaining? Are you saying that it should be “the person who ascertains”?
It should be “a person who ascertains” -- a person who does it.
Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I think we are trying to properly capture the present continuous, that is the person is in the process of doing so. That is how it is being captured. “A person who is ascertaining the profits and gains of an individual from an employment for a year of assessment or for a part of that year shall include...” That is in the process of trying to ascertain and that is why we say “ascertaining”. It is not yet ascertained.
So, it means, while we are in the process of doing it, these are the factors that we have to take into account. Well, once we all agree that the value is the same, let me put the Question.
Mr Speaker, let me refer the Hon Majority Leader to clause 2 -- “A person who determines the chargeable income of that person or of another person shall determine chargeable income from each source separately.” Mr Speaker, a person who does that - - If we are insisting that this construction is how it should be done, then perhaps, we have to go back for consistency sake. But I would suggest to you that the use of present continuous --
Hon Minority Leader, I think we need to do some work. This is because if we look at clause 3(4), they used the phrase; “a person who is determining”. So, we have to consult the draftsperson for consistency, if for nothing at all. Hon Majority Leader, for the sake of consistency, when we come to the second Consideration Stage, we would want to look at it.
Mr Speaker, for clause 2 (2), we have to do the -- I think that there is a problem with clause 2(2).
We saw that of clause 3, (4) also.
Clause 3(4) is in line with clause 4(2).
For the sake of consistency --
Mr Speaker, that was the amendment I was referred to. We saw that so --
Very well. Absolutely! Hon Members, I would now put the Question on clause 4. Question put and amendment agreed to. Clause 4 as amended ordered to stand part of the Bill. Clause 5 ordered to stand part of the Bill. Clause 6 -- Income for Investment
Clause 6 subclause (2), paragraph (a), subparagraph (iv), delete “winning” and insert “winnings”. Mr Speaker, we are only changing from singular to plural. So, the new rendition would read; “Winnings from lottery.”
Mr Speaker, I just want to find out from the Hon Chairman-- there was some work that the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) officials were supposed to do for us. I do not know if they had done it. They were supposed to give us the definition for winnings and lottery so that we could make our amendment. But they have not come back, so we would have to look at it again.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Chairman and the Hon Ranking Member are right. We were constrained on the insertion of the meaning of lottery and if it is restrictive, then perhaps, we would have to expand it by including; “or any game of chance”. This is because it is a game of chance that we are dealing with. But the meaning would let us know whether or not we should add it. So, they would advise us and we would take it from there.
Does it mean that the Bill does not have a definition for “lottery?”
Mr Speaker, we want them to look at the Lottery Act. This is because with the definition of lottery, we have the VAT Act and we have the Games and Lottery Act. So, we would want the real definition from those Acts but we are yet to get them from the GRA officials.
So, should I put the Question or should we wait till we get the definition?
For now, let us put the Question. When we come back to the Second Consideration, we can attend to it. Question put and amendment agreed to. Clause 6 as amended ordered to stand part of the Bill. Clause 7 -- Exempt amounts
Mr Speaker, I beg to move clause 7, section caption, delete “amount” and insert “amounts”. Again, Mr Speaker, we are changing from singular to plural so that it can be consistent with the Headnote which talks about exempt amounts. Question put and amendment agreed to. We have two “amounts” there; it is the caption.
Mr Speaker, I have no problem with that. My problem is that, it is not under clause 7.
It is part of clause 7. It is not under clause 7, but it is part of it. It is an issue. Whether we can amend those things -- or it is a drafting issue. That --
Mr Speaker, I looked under clause 7 and I saw that there was nothing like “amounts” there, but it is “exempt amounts.” The “exempt amounts” is from clause 7. But the subheading --
So, if you look at division three --
That is the sub- heading.
That is not under clause 7; because it deals with all that comes under that. Usually, after the clauses, we have another part dealing with sub- headings.
The way the amendment itself has been filed, I have a problem. [Laughter.] Clause 7, Hon Chairman of the Committee.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that clause 7, subclause (1), paragraph (f), line 5, delete “that” and insert “this”. “...the Commissioner-General is satisfied that an equivalent exemption is granted by the country of residence of that person to persons resident in this country”.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Chairman should explain; I do not understand why he wants to put “this”, I do not get the meaning.
Why not “the”?
Mr Speaker, we are laying that emphasis, because there are two different countries involved here. We are talking about exempting somebody from payment of tax and it says, “the Commissioner-General is satisfied that an equivalent exemption is granted by the country of residence of that person to persons resident in this country”. So, we have to differentiate between “that country” and “this country”. So, it is about granting of exemption of equivalent amount to persons who are resident in this country.
We are talking about two countries, “that country” and “this country”. Hon Member for Tarkwa Nsuaem, are you all right?
Mr Speaker, it is true but it is clumsy. It does not bring the meaning very well. So, if the Drafts- persons can look at it again. This is because it does not really explain what the Hon Chairman has said.
Mr Speaker, if my Hon Colleague could take her time and read it well. Right from the beginning, we talked about “a non-resident” So, that introduces one country and this deals with taxes of this country. So, if you do not distinguish it, you could also use “that country” and it would be wrong. So, it is “that country” and “this country” for those who are resident here, it is equivalent.
All right. Question put and amendment agreed to.
Mr Speaker, before I move the next amendment, there is one amendment which has not been captured which is still under clause 7. Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 7 subclause (1), paragraph (f), line 2, delete “aircraft” and insert “aircrafts” “…operating ships or aircrafts”.
I have got it but it is not a very serious matter, so I would leave it for the draftspersons, because normally in the interpretation, the singular includes the plural and vice versa. We should have treated it as a drafting issue. Question put and amendment agreed to.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 7, subclause (1), paragraph (i), subparagraph (ii), line 4, delete “or” “…Specialised Agencies of the United Nations; (iii) an Act giving….” The reason for this amendment is, the “or” is wrongly positioned. It should rather come after (iii) which is correctly captured in the Bill. So, the first “or” after (ii) should be deleted.
If I get your amendment right, all that you are trying to do is to delete the word “or” both in regard to sub- paragraph (i) -- so why do we have (1) there, or is it (i)?
Mr Speaker, that should be (i) not (1). It is paragraph (i) and sub- paragraph (ii).
Is it subclause (1), paragraph (i), and then subparagraph (11). The problem is that we do not know whether that (i) is roman number or it is
Mr Speaker, clause 7 the Committee proposed a new --
How come some of the amendments are not captured on the Order Paper? This is a very important Bill dealing with people's income tax and it is important that we know exactly what we are doing. That is why the House is better placed when the amendments are advertised and we understand. We are even confused whether it is paragraph (I) or (i) but later on when we all look at it, then we will know exactly what we are doing. But let me listen to you, Hon Chairman of the Committee.
Mr Speaker, I said the Committee proposed an amendment which is a new subclause (3) but it has not been captured on the Order Paper so, I would like to read and move it.
Does it relate to clause 7?
Very well; let me listen to you.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 7, subclause (1).
Is it a new subclause?
It is a new subclause (3) which the draftspersons --
Just say clause 7, new subclause, then the draftsperson would know where to locate it.
Mr Speaker, the amendment is, “notwithstanding any law …” --
Take your time.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 7, new subclause” “Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, no exemption shall be provided from tax imposed by this Act and no agreement shall be completed that affects, or purports to affect the application of this Act except as provided for by this Act or by any amendment to this Act”.
Act or any other enactment.
What I have here is “or any amendment to this Act”.
The amendment to this would be an enactment -- ‘an enactment” or “amendment to this Act'. Hon Majority Leader; then the Hon Ranking Member.
Mr Speaker, we need to get the rendition right. When you talk about agreement, you enter into agreement. You do not complete an agreement; you enter into an agreement so that has to be changed.
That is why when he got to ‘complete', I wanted to be sure of the word.
You enter into an agreement; you conclude an agreement but you do not complete an agreement.
Hon Chairman and Hon Ranking Member, the Hon Majority Leader says that a better term to use is, “no agreement shall be entered into that affects or purports to affect”. That is what he suggests.
Mr Speaker, I was going to plead with the Hon Chairman that, it is a very deep amendment and not everybody has captured what has been said. It would be useful for it to be typed for us to look at, so that we are careful about it. I do not even see it in our original Report. It came later from the Attorney- General's office. It is so important that we need to look at it, to make sure that it is correct so that we do not just gloss over it.
Yes, that is the view I expressed earlier, and I believe that we should defer putting the Question on clause 7 so that we get the rendition right and then we can look at it before I put the Question. As I said, this is a very important Bill. I hope you are in agreement.
We are in agreement. This is because we submitted it yesterday to be captured, but it was not, so they can capture it.
I hope you would take into account the point made by the Hon Majority Leader -- “we enter into an agreement” or “we conclude an agreement”.
Mr Speaker, in respect of clause 7, there was another issue that was raised. It relates to policy. Since the Hon Minister or his Deputy was not available, we could not make much progress. It relates to clause 7, (1) (g), which seeks to exempt income of a cocoa farmer. Mr Speaker, the issue that we wanted to be advised on is why we are not including other tree crops like coffee, sheanut and even cotton. Why are we not including them? We are excluding only income of a cocoa farmer but not of cotton, coffee and sheanut. Why are we not doing that? This is a matter of policy if the Hon Deputy Minister can relate to it. It is not for me to say that we should include it. It relates to policy, so the Hon Deputy Minister should, maybe, if there is any underpinning issue, let us know.
Mr Speaker, since you have ruled that we stand down clause 7, I would consult and come back before you put the Question.
While in consultation, please look at the Sixth Schedule. The issue is, we are separating sheanut butter and other people from cocoa farmers. The provision is still there in the Sixth Schedule. For the sheanut butter and the other tree crops, it is only temporary; but for cocoa farmers, it is permanent. That is the issue.
Hon Members, clause 7 deferred accordingly.
Mr Speaker, while we are at that, the Hon Deputy Minister may also look at the exclusion list in respect of clause 7 (1) (n). It speaks of only “a State-owned or State-sponsored educational institution”. Again, I raised the issue of State-owned or State-sponsored health institution. Why are we omitting that? Maybe, the Hon Deputy Minister could also look at that.
Very well. Hon Deputy Minister for Finance, did you get the point that the Hon Minority Leader made? That you should take note of clause 7, subclause (1) (n) too. Hon Members, having deferred clause 7, we move to clause 8. Clause 8 -- General principles Clause 9 -- Residual deduction rule Clause 10 -- Interest Clauses 8 to 10 ordered to stand part of the Bill. Clause 11 -- Trading Stock
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 11, subclause (2), delete and insert the following: “(2) The allowance is calculated by (a) adding the opening value of the trading stock of the business for the year of assessment to the expenses incurred by the person during the year and included in the cost of trading stock of the business; and (b) deducting from the sum obtained in paragraph (a), the closing value of trading stock of the business for the year.” Mr Speaker, this is giving you how the income of the person is derived and this allowance is calculated by this. So, the purpose of the amendment is to make the rendition more --
What is the difference between what is in the Bill and --
What we are adding here is that, at the beginning of -- [Interruption.]
Hon Members, let us have order.
At the beginning of paragraph (a), we are adding the word “adding” but what we have in the Bill says that “the allowance is calculated as” the opening balance. So, we are saying, that “the allowance is calculated by adding,” we are changing the rendition to make it clearer.
The amendment is the true definition, the old one does not capture it accurately.
Very well, I would now put the Question. Question put, amendment agreed to.
Mr Speaker, before you put the Question on clause 11, clause 11 (1), “a person who is ascertaining the income of that person”
Are you talking about subclause (1) of clause 11? The Committee has not filed any amendment regarding that.
The meaning is not clear. [Pause.] But that is not captured, the explanation he is giving, “A person who is ascertaining the income of that person or of another person”. [Interruption.] Exactly, that is what I thought it should be.
Hon Members, I think the Hon Majority Leader has a point, because it is not clear. Hon Chairman, Hon Ranking Member, what is the meaning of that clause?
Mr Speaker, under the new system of self-assessment, a taxpayer can do the assessment himself or hire a technical person to do the assessment on his behalf. The rendition here is saying that a person who is ascertaining the income of that person --
Who is that person please?
The person who is subject to tax for which I am assessing, is that person.
Is that what is here?
Yes, Mr Speaker.
Of that person? It is not clear. This clause is --
I am totally confused by what he is saying. What is he saying? Who is assessing?
We are enacting a law and we are commanding somebody to do something. Let us find out who is to do what .
Hon Members, we are making laws and on the face of the law, somebody should know exactly who that person is.
We need to separate them and create another clause, because if you want the person to do self-assessment, you say so. However, if you have another person assessing him -- I do not know if they insisted on using the word “ascertaining” or “assessment”. What is the purpose of this? It is to self assess. So, you should say so. You cannot combine them. Before you even put the Question, I was worried about the calculation part because, when you look at the way it has been framed, calculation should have something that is a complete sentence, but if you say “or less”, it means there is a problem with who is doing what. We have to be clear who we are giving the command to, we need to know.
Mr Speaker, I understood what the Hon Chairman said to mean that, an individual who wants to do self-assessment could also hire a tax consultant or an assessor to do that job for him.
Yes. Is it clear on the face of the record?
It may not be but that was my understanding of what he said.
But is that what we have here on the face of --
Self-assessment could also mean that you do it yourself or you ask somebody to do it for you.
Yes, but have you looked at the subclause?
I do not have it here but he has it so perhaps --
Let me hear from the Hon Ranking Member before I get to Manhyia South.
We were made to believe by officials from the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) that, it is a term of art but it is not only in clause 11 but it starts from clause 2 (2), where that same rendition is being used. That is where they told us that, that is how it is used in their area. “A person who determines the chargeable income of that person…” It appears in clauses 9 and 11, so it is not only appearing in clause 11.
Mr Speaker, it is difficult to understand, but I was at the winnowing Committee and the reason the Committee could not use the word “assessor”, which would have been perfect was that, the word “assessor” as far as income tax law is affected, resides with the Ghana Revenue Authority. So, ideally, we should have a word that we could use throughout and define that. If we do not do that, this confusion shall arise. They did not want us to use the word “assessor” which the Hon Chairman of the Committee and the Hon Minority Leader suggested, because the word “assessor” ultimately, no matter the tax consultant you take, or even if you do the self-assessment, the IRS has the ultimate responsibility to still do the assessment and that is why.
Hon Members, the Hon Ranking Member has drawn my attention that, this provision is in other parts of the Bill and once we agree on what we are doing, it would have a consequential effect. So, I want us to understand that, once we agree on what we are saying, that would have a consequential effect. Let me hear from the Hon Deputy Minority Leader. How can I put the Question when I do not understand it?
Mr Speaker, this matter came up. It starts from the definition of chargeable income and flows like that. So, if you do not read clause 2 (1) -- you would have to read clause 2 (1). Clause 2 (1) tells you what they are talking about, then clause 2 (2) refers to clause 2 (1) and the others all refer to the same thing. This is because it says that; “The chargeable income of a person for a year of assessment is the total of the assessable income of that person…” That is the first time they used that; “…for the year from each employment…” Then it continues; “(2) A person who determines the chargeable income of that person…”
Hon Deputy Minority Leader, where they have used the words “that person,” we know who they are talking about. We know who they are talking about in clause 2, subclauses (1) and (2). But do you know in clause 11, automatically who they are talking about?
Mr Speaker, it is the same thing.
This is a different clause. Yes, Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I raised this and they were telling me that it is a term of art, it is an industry term. But increasingly, the trend is to make our laws reader-friendly so that people would understand. Mr Speaker, who is the person who is even “determining”? The person who is “determining” is the person who is “assessing” and he is the “assessor”. -- [Interruption] -- And they are saying no, and the no comes in triple formulation. Mr Speaker, the issue is, they seem to think that any person who is doing the assessment must relate to tax. Even, you can assess property. But that is another matter. As he said, it is not only in clause 2, subclause (2). It is repeated in clause 3, subclauses (3) and (4) and it flows. And so, I suggest that we should look at it because, it is a bit clumsy. If the meaning is that, a person can assess himself, then the use of the word “that” would refer only to the person assessing himself. But, they are now telling us that, we can have another person to assess “that person”. -- [Interruption] -- To assess who? Mr Speaker, I have not even finished and the Hon Chairman is so much in a rush. He should hold on -- take his time. As citizens from a sister country would say, “you would have your turn”. He would have his turn and so, he should just hold on. Mr Speaker, it makes the construction a bit clumsy. Clause 9 has the same construction and so, we should be clear in our minds who can do the assessment. Can the person assess himself? If the person can assess himself, then “that” there, refers to that same person who is assessing himself. But then, he has indicated to us that, another person can assess that person -- can assess the person who must be assessed.
Hon Members, let us limit ourselves for now, to “that person”.
Mr Speaker, before I sit down, we are in a fasting season and I am seeing somebody here who is most un-Islamic and look at how she is constituted. I was struggling to see who that person is. [Interruptions.]
Mr Speaker, I think we have to be careful. We need to bear in mind here that, “that person” is the taxpayer. That is the concept we have to put in our minds. “That person” refers to the taxpayer, which could include himself. So, “that person” is making an emphasis on the taxpayer and I could assess myself. Once you do that, and you go back to clause 2, it is consistent. There is no confusion. But “that person” can hire somebody to do the work for him. But ultimately, the final assessor is the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), but, a third party is allowed to assess. But ultimately, it is the GRA but “that person” is referring to a tax payer. It could be myself or Price WaterhouseCoopers (PWC) or any other place. So, we cannot read clause 11, without looking at clause 2 and that is what we have to be careful about.
Mr Speaker, the word actually is a term of art and it runs through the Bill. The definition of “that person”, refers to a person that is assessed to tax and it is a normal word that the GRA normally uses. It is actually in the old Act and all what we are trying to refer to, is a person who is to be assessed to pay tax.
Hon Deputy Minister for Finance, do we have a similar provision in terms of “that person” in the previous legislations? Hon Minister, can you show me a copy? Do you have it here? Yes, Hon Member for Wa West, and then Hon Member for Subin.
Mr Speaker, I think there is a basic problem which they have to resolve. One, if you are talking of self- assessment, as the Hon Ranking Member was saying, we all understand that. So, that is why I recommend that, they separate the two, where the person is doing a self-assessment. But, when you
Mr Speaker, I am surprised that we are up to clause 11, and he is saying that we cannot have that. We have taken a decision on clause 2. Look at what is said in clause 2. So, did he not understand it?
Clause 2, is clear. I said --
It is not clear. It is the same language.
No, it is not the same.
It is the same language.
It is not the same language. I am saying that, the clause 2 is not the same language. If you look at clause 2 -- that is why we have clause 2, subclauses (1) and (2), “The chargeable Income”. I am saying that -- I have the Bill. -- [Interruption] -- Why, are you the one to tell me to read? I have read it already and that is why I am raising the issue. They are two different -- clauses 2 and 11 are not the same. Why? -- [Interruptions] --
Hon Members, I think there is a problem here. I have no doubt at all and so, the issue raised by the Hon Majority Leader, we have to look at it. I just got a copy of the Internal Revenue Act, 2000 (Act 592), and where they used “that person” is very clear. You know the person that they are talking about. Under the Internal Revenue Act, 2000 (Act 592) it is clear, that we know who we are talking about. I have the Act before me. But in the Bill, it is not clear on the face of it. -- If you look at the Internal Revenue Act of 2000 (Act 52); Income from a Business. 7. (1) “A person's income from a business is that person's gains of profit”…. And so, you know the person that you are talking about. When you go again to clause 8, “Income from and Employment.” 8. (1) “A person's income from employment is that person's gains or profits…” And so, you know the person that you are talking about. But when you come to the Bill, it is not clear on the face of it. Yes, Hon Minister for Defence?
Mr Speaker, I am getting very worried about this Bill because there is a lot of confusion that is being generated. Just look at the difference between clause 2 and clause 11 subclause (2) that the Hon Member for Wa West is talking about. There is a complete difference between “chargeable income” and what we are talking about. Clause 11, subclause (1) is dealing with how one will ascertain an income, and that income is not chargeable income. Then, when we come to this place, we are now talking about the chargeable income. Mr Speaker, one would first have to determine that this particular item falls to be charged to tax. Then when one finishes, before one can then ascertain it, one would have allowed for a lot of deductions and other things to arrive at the computational aspect. But we are looking at the chargeable income and its ascertainment, as if they are one and the same thing. They are completely different. It runs through it. If one sees what is going on in clause 11, as Dr A.A. Osei would say, we have just gone to pick the General Acceptance Accounting Principle (GAAP) rules, in terms of the accounting procedure and put it in, and when one goes to the accrual accounting, then one begins to see the difficulty. That is what is creating the problems about whether one is charging tax or ascertaining tax. Mr Speaker, there is legal authority that, until the charging section is clear, it is deemed that one does not intend to charge the tax. Any nebulous drafting of a charging section that is not clear would be defeated. So, we need to make it very clear. What exactly we are charging. That is the difficulty for me. I would prefer that these two ought to be different. I will try and also offer, not pro bono, but with a small fee, I will assist in tidying it up.
I hope the small fee is on the lighter side.
Yes, Mr Speaker, but I have got some of my students here who can assist on this particular matter.
Hon Members, I am very clear in my mind that there is a problem. So, what I intend to do is to defer all the clauses dealing with “that person”, and then we take all others that have nothing to do with the phrase, “that person” until we resolve this matter so that we can make progress with regard to this Bill. Hon Majority Leader, that is what I am suggesting. Defer all areas where they use the phrase, “that person”, because it is not clear, then we continue in other areas. We will come back to those clauses when the issue is resolved.
Mr Speaker, I think what my Hon Colleague, the Hon Minister for Defence, was talking about is over a charging section. That division is different from where we are. I have not heard him raise issues with that section; the Chargeable Income Tax Base, Division 1. It is the clause 11 that is creating the problem, otherwise, he should tell us what the problem is with clauses 2 and 3 so that we will be clear in our minds. Because, he does not have a problem with clause 2, from what he read.
Hon Members, we all agree that we are coming back to clauses 1, 2 and 3 to do some work there, but let us resolve where we are now. We can make progress if we are able to resolve it. If we cannot resolve it on the floor, then we defer it and then look at it again, and come back to make progress. This is because different people have different meanings. I do not understand.
Mr Speaker, actually, it is because they linked clause 2 to clause 11, and that is why I am drawing their attention that, we are looking at two different things. They are completely different legal categories. I am saying that they should not be seen linking clause 11 to clause 2. If we do it that way—one is dealing with the charge, while the other is dealing with the
Mr Speaker, I understand the point of the Hon Minister for Defence. The clause 2, which is the charging clause is very clear; that the income that is subject to tax here, is the income from three main sources -- income from employment, business and income from investments. Mr Speaker, we have specific deductions for each of these sources of income. If we go to clause 4, Income from Employment, and those deductions that are allowed under income from employment. If we go to clause 5, Income from Business, and those specific deductions that are allowed under Income from Business. If we go to clause 6, income from Investment, and specific deductions from that. And so, that has been dealt with to get the chargeable income. Mr Speaker, apart from these specific deductions, there are general deductions which are also applicable in arriving at the chargeable income and that is what we are dealing with in the clause 11.
Mr Speaker, what I am indicating is that, a deduction and an exemption are not the same. I have seen all the allowable deductions that we have indicated up to clause 5. The next ones that we have now are exemptions. So, in law, it means that they are not chargeable items at all. Let us look at the exemptions from clause 7. Again, deduction—after we have had allowances—that is computation and from there, we come to residual deductions and trading stock. When we go back to the exemptions, the deductions and the general principles, how does this sit in? Is this referring to those ones or it is specific to only trading stock?— [Interruption.] -- No. It cannot be, look at how general the clauses are.
Hon Chairman, the position being taken by the Hon Member for Wa West and of course, the Hon Minority Leader is that, put whatever you want to do in a language so that people may know exactly what you want to say on the face of it. That is all. Because if you read a paragraph or a clause of the Bill and you do not know who they are referring to, then it is problematic. I have looked at what you have shown to me; the Internal Revenue Act, 2000 (Act 592). I have looked at it. You can know who they are talking about, wherever they used “that person”, and it is clear.
Mr Speaker, as you directed, we can look at how that particular clause is couched so that it can come clearer in terms of who “that person” is being referred to is. But as for the structuring of the deductions and the chargeable clause, I think what is being done with the Bill is all right. Mr Speaker, so we can look at the clause 11 and see how that one relates with the rendition here.
Hon Members, do we defer all the amendments on that part and move to part 3 of the Bill, starting from clause 18? [Pause.] Hon Chairman, that is what I am suggesting; would it cause any harm to the process starting from clause 18 Part 3? Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, we can defer clause 11 and go to clause 12 because the winnowing has not yet reached as far as clause 18; it got to clause 17. So, we can handle clauses 12, 13, 14 15, 16 and 17.
Very well; that person is clear in clause 12.
Yes. The problem with the clause 11 is that, they talked about trading stock, but the opening talked about general income.
Very well, Hon Members, clause 11 is deferred. Let us go to clause 12. Yes, Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, are we going to include clause 9 because the construction would appear?
No, we put the Question on that before the Hon Majority Leader raised the issue. That is the reason I stated earlier that, once we resolve the issue of the language, the phrase that was used there, would have consequential effect. So, let us leave it, we may have to come back to clause 9 and the other clauses where that phrase has been used and it was not clear on the face of the record. So let us go to clause 12.
Mr Speaker, a minor issue on clause 13, so that we can still reflect on that.
On clause 13?
Sorry, on clause 9.
Yes, we would come back to clause 9.
Yes, but I am saying that, it does not relate to the substance of the matter that we are discussing.
I have put the Question clause 9 already, so what I would want us to do is that when that issue is resolved, then we could come back and take it together.
Hon Members, clause 12. Clause 12 -- Repairs and improvements
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 12 subclause (2), paragraph (a), line 2, delete “year,” and insert “year;”
What is happening? Delete “year”, and insert “year;”?
Mr Speaker, we are deleting the comma after the “year” and to replace it with a semi colon. That is the reason we are saying; delete “year”, and insert “year;”.
Is it not a drafting issue? I thought it should be a drafting issue. I so direct the draftsperson to look at it.
Hon Members, I would put the Question on clause 12 --
Mr Speaker, before you do, again, there was an issue that was raised yesterday which required further clarification. It is in respect of clause 13 (2) (a) --
We are not on clause 13; we are on clause 12. Question put and amendment agreed to. Clause 12 as amended ordered to stand part of the Bill. Clause 13 -- Research and Development expenses. Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, since we have the Hon Minister for Finance here, we would want some clarification. Clause 13 (2) provides that for purposes of this section: “Research and development expenses” “(a) includes expenses includes an expense incurred by the person in the process of developing the business of that person and improving business products or processes” Mr Speaker, the question that I would want to ask of the Hon Minister is whether by this construction, we could, for instance, include the cost of adver- tisement? Clause 13 provides: “(1) A research and development expense that meets the requirements of section 9 (1) may be deducted irrespective of whether the expense is of a capital nature. (2) For purposes of this section, “research and development expense” (a) includes an incurred by the person in the process of developing the business of that person and improving business products or processes…” I would like to ask that, by this construction, would he seek to include the cost of advertisement?
Hon Deputy Finance Minister?
Mr Speaker, research and development cost is actually governed by an accounting standard. As to whether a particular expenditure would qualify as a research cost, or as a development cost, I am not too sure whether development advertisement would qualify as a development or research cost. I would have to check but it is normally governed by an International Accounting Standard in terms of how to capitalise it.
I just want to say that, considering the way it is constructed, the answer should be yes, it could depend on the circumstances, to the extent that it meets this definition. This is because if my advertisement goes to improve business products or processes and it helps me develop my business, I have to prove that to the assessor. So, in that sense, you cannot say no. Potentially, it is possible. But it would be up to the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) to accept it or not. So, the answer should be potentially yes.
Mr Speaker, first of all, as the Hon Deputy Minister said, that expense must qualify as a research and development expense. If it qualifies, then it qualifies to be a deductible item. But if it does not, then you cannot claim it while you are determining the income of that person. So, the measuring criteria here is that, the expenditure must qualify as a research and development expenditure. If an advertisement would qualify as a research and development expenditure, it would cover. As the Hon Ranking Member said, it depends on the circumstance. If it qualifies, then it is allowed. If it does not qualify under research and development as expense, it would not qualify under this particular one too.
I would put the Question. There is no amendment to Clause 14. So, I would call Clause 14. Hon Members, I would put the Question on clauses 13 and 14. Clauses 13 and 14 ordered to stand part of the Bill. Clause 15 -- Losses on realisation of assets and liabilities
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 15, subclause (2), paragraph (c), line 1, delete “chargeable and insert “capital” Mr Speaker, the new rendition would read; “A capital asset of an investment to the extent to which the asset is used wholly but not a chargeable asset”
Hon Members, I would put the Question. Question put and amendment agreed to. Clause 15 as amended ordered to stand part of the Bill. Clause 16 ordered to stand part of the Bill. Clause 17 -- Losses from business or investment
Mr Speaker, the Committee has proposed an amendment but we still have the same problem there - the income of that person. So, when we resolve it, we would take care of that as well. Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 17, subclause (1), lines 2 and 3, delete “an unrelieved loss of the person for the year from that business and” Mr Speaker, this is redundant because under clause 17 (1), paragraph (a), we have what is intended to be captured. So, we are deleting the same words in the opening paragraph so that, the new rendition would read; “A person who is determining the income of that person or of another person from a business for a year of assessment shall deduct, an unrelieved loss of the person in a specified priority sector…”
Well, it would not affect the issue you intend to resolve.. I would put the Question so that the only matter that would be left is the phrase is ‘that person'. Question put and amendment agreed to.
We would defer putting the Question on clause 17. Hon Chairman, did you get the reason I deferred it? -- [Interruption] -- The amendment has been carried but there are other consequential issues. So, we would defer putting the Question on clause 17. Table Office should take note.
Mr Speaker, just to draw the attention of the Chairman of the Committee to the construction in clause 15, even though we have already dealt with it. Mr Speaker, if you look at the preamble of clause 15 (1), they are relating to investment or business. Now, subclause (2) then is on capital assets and liability. Both relate to business. Now, clause 15 (2) (c) reflects subclause 15 (2) (a) and it relates to investment. That is the capital assets on an investment to which --
Which clause are you referring to?
That is clause 15 (2) (c). But the liability aspect which clause 15 (2) (b) (i) and (ii) cover, does not cover investment. I do not know whether there is a special reason for that. This is because the Headnote is on losses of realisation of assets and liabilities to both business and investment. But we have stranded out clause 15 (2) to cover the liabilities of just “business”. We do not have any such provision for “investment”. Is there any peculiar reason for that?
Hon Chairman, Hon Ranking Member of the Committee and the Hon Deputy Minister for Finance, take note --
Yes. I think the draftsperson should also take note.
Take note so that when we come back to clear all outstanding issues, we can deal with the issue raised by the Hon Minority Leader. Clause 18 ordered to stand part of the Bill. Clause 19 -- Method of accounting
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 19, subclause (1), line 3, delete “according to” and insert “in accordance with” Mr Speaker, the new rendition would read; “Subject to this Act, the timing of inclusions and deductions in calculating the income of a person during a basis period shall be made in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles”. It is not “according to”. Mr Speaker, this is to make the rendition better. [Interruption] Mr Speaker, it is ‘in accordance with the generally accepted accounting principles' and not ‘according to generally accepted accounting principles'.
Hon Members, I would put the Question. Question put and amendment agreed to. Clause 19 as amended stands part of the Bill. Clause 20 -- Cash basis accounting.
Mr Speaker, clause 20 is actually a drafting error, so if you could direct that the draftsperson takes care of the correction. I beg to move, clause 20 paragraph (a), line 2, delete “person,” and insert “person;”
I so direct. Question put and amendment agreed to. Clause 20 as amended ordered to stand part of the Bill. Clause 21 ordered to stand part of the Bill. Clause 22 -- Claim of right.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that clause 22, subclause (1), delete and insert the following: “(1) A person is treated as deriving an amount if that person claims to be entitled to receive the amount, even though the person may not be legally entitled to receive that amount.” Mr Speaker, this is under the claim of rights. For tax purposes, that person who claims to be entitled to receive the amount would be treated as a person who actually received the amount, even though he might not be legally entitled to receive it.
Mr Speaker, I would just want to check with the Hon Chairman because, with regard to the amendment we have in the Report, we were supposed to delete subclauses 1 and 2 and replace them with the above amendment. So, I do not know what went wrong.
Hon Ranking Member, there are two amendments on the Order Paper relating to subclauses (1) and (2).
Mr Speaker, what they have here is different from what I have here.
Hon Chairman, what does your amendment seek to do? Explain.
Mr Speaker, in the Bill, clause 22 (1) states that: “A person is treated as deriving an amount even though that person is not legally entitled to receive the amount, if the person claims to be legally entitled to receive it.” We are changing the rendition by bringing, “if that person claims” before “even though” comes in. So, to make the rendition better, we are saying that: “A person is treated as deriving an amount if that person claims to be entitled to receive the amount even though the person may not be legally entitled to receive that amount.” So, we are just redrafting the rendition to make it better than it is in the Bill.
Mr Speaker, I think that, I appreciate the need to restructure the wording. But I am not comfortable with the word, “legally” because it would mean that if we are not careful, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) would be expecting so much, when the person knows very well that he is not really entitled to it. So, I believe that we should remove the phrase, “legally entitled to” because, as far as he claims that money should come, they should be able to collect it from him or pay him some amount. I think that the phrase, “not be legally entitled” makes it cumbersome, and might create loopholes in the system.
Mr Speaker I think the qualifier is important because this can be a basis for the entitlement. We cannot have anything but a legal entitlement. It should not be a gift. There must be a definition. The qualifier is important.
Hon Members should know that, when it comes to Tax Laws, they do not follow the normal principles. It is a different area of the law altogether. That is why even the tax collector could collect moneys from an income even though it is illegally earned, when we come to the principles of tax law. So, it does not fit into the normal rules, and that is why we see this type of rendition there. On the face of it, if you are not legally entitled, you are not legally entitled. I know that is where the Hon Member for Takoradi is coming from. But when we come to tax law and tax administration, it is a totally different area of the law.
Mr Speaker, you proffered a good advice to the House. I thought my lecturer, Hon Dr Benjamin Kunbuor, who is a very learned tax lawyer, would be around to support your argument. Mr Speaker, if laundered money, which is illegal money, and brought it into this country, are we going to allow the said person to be taxed?
Well, if they know that it is laundered money, the criminal law would deal with it. When the person does not know and the facts are not there, but they know you have an income, the tax man is not interested in how you got your income. That is for Criminal Law.
Very well. That is why I had wanted Hon Dr Kunbuor to have been around.
Hon Member, but you know that is the principle of Tax Law. Hon Members, let us not go into the general principle of the Tax Law, but limit ourselves to the amendment to the clause that has been proposed by the Committee. Hon Minority Leader, I would want to put the Question, but let me hear you before I do that.
Mr Speaker, I am taking a cue from your threat to put the Question.
It cannot be a threat at all.
Mr Speaker, I am worried about the style of the construction of the proposed amendment. “A person is treated as deriving an amount if that person claims to be entitled to receive the amount even though the person may not be legally entitled to receive that amount.” Mr Speaker, that maybe for the draftspersons. I would have preferred a construction like this; “(1) A person is treated as deriving an amount where that person claims to receive the amount not- withstanding the fact that that person may not be legally entitled to receive that amount.” Mr Speaker, but that is for the draftspersons because the construction that is proposed by the Committee is too much of a strict language.
Mr Speaker, I think that the conditional term of “if” must be there. “…if that person claims…” If you say “where”, it is the same thing; but for tax purposes, the person is claiming that he is entitled to it. If that person is claiming he is entitled to it, the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) would treat it as deriving that amount, therefore, it would apply the tax rate and collect the tax. So, the conditional term “if” is very important, so I prefer the “if”.
Hon Members, we all understand the principle, I would put the Question. When we get there and there is some further work to do, we would work on it. Question put and amendment agreed to.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that clause 22 -- subclause (2), delete and insert the following: “(1) A person is treated as incurring an amount if that person claims to be entitled to pay the amount even though the person may not be legally entitled to pay that amount.” Mr Speaker, the principle behind this is the same as the one we did earlier. Question put and amendment agreed to. Clause 22 as amended ordered to stand part of the Bill. The Hon Second Deputy Speaker to take the Chair.
Mr Speaker --
I thought we would put the Question on clauses 23 and 24 as there are no amendments there. If there are no controversies about them, we would just put the Question on clauses 23 and 24.
Mr Speaker, there are a few things that I would want --
Mr Speaker, if we could just lay this Paper listed as item number 4 (a). The Chairman has informed me that the Report is ready.
Very well. That brings us to the end of the Consideration Stage of the Income Tax Bill, 2015 for today, so that the Mace would be put properly before we move on. Hon Members, item numbered 4(a) -- Presentation of Papers by the Chairman of the Committee on Mines and Energy.
Mr Speaker, we could now take the Motion on page 2, Item 5 from the Committee on Food, Agriculture, and Cocoa Affairs on the outbreak of Avian Influenza in Ghana.
Hon Members, item number 5 on the Order Paper --Motion Chairman of the Committee.
Mr Speaker, before I move the Motion, I would like to crave your indulgence to amend the conclusion of the Report, by deleting the two paragraphs of the conclusion and replacing it with the new conclusion which reads as follows;
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, Introduction Pursuant to article 103 (3) of the 1992 Constitution and Order 176 of the Standing Orders of the House, the Rt Hon Speaker directed the Committee on Food, Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs to conduct an enquiry into the outbreak of the Avian Influenza in Ghana, and to make recommendations to the House for funding of an emergency response to combat the outbreak. The directive followed a Statement made by the Chairman of the Committee on Food, Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs, Hon Gabriel Kodwo Essilfie, on 2nd July, 2015, drawing the attention of the House to the outbreak of the Avian influenza and the challenges confronting the Ministry of Food and Agriculture in dealing with the outbreak. The Committee subsequently met with key stakeholders on the 3rd, 6th and 7th July, 2015 and deliberated on the outbreak. The Committee is grateful to the Deputy Minister in charge of Livestock in the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Hon Hanna Louisa Bissiw, the Chief Director of the Ministry and Mr Ken Quartey of the Ghana National Poultry Farmers Association for their input. Reference Materials In considering the referral, the Committee made reference to the following documents: i. The 1992 Constitution of Ghana; ii. The Standing Orders of the Parliament of Ghana. Methodology In order to provide the House with detail and concise information on the outbreak, the Committee decided to adopt the following methodology: i. Enquire into the nature of the disease and extent of the spread; ii. Enquire into previous outbreaks and lessons learned; iii. Enquire into measures considered by the Ministry to control the outbreak and funding requirements; iv. Draw observations and recommenda- tions. v. Conclusion. The Nature of the Disease and Extent of the Spread The Avian influenza, commonly known as Bird Flu, is an infectious viral disease of birds. Most of these viruses do not affect humans but other viruses such as A (H5N1) and A (H7N9), can cause serious infections in humans. The disease is transmitted to humans through direct or indirect contact with infected live or dead birds. There is no evidence, however, that the disease can be spread to people through properly cooked poultry and poultry products. Controlling the disease in birds is always the first step in decreasing the risk of infection to humans. The disease was first reported in the West Africa sub-region in 2006, with Ghana reporting its first case in 2007. The disease re-emerged in the sub-region in 2014, with Nigeria reporting the first case in December, 2014. This was followed by outbreaks in Niger, Burkina Faso, la Cote d'Ivoire and Ghana. Ghana confirmed her first case on a farm in the Greater Accra Region on 12th May, 2015. Thereafter, there have been confirmed cases in two other regions namely, Volta and Ashanti. Previous outbreak and lessons learned As indicated earlier, the last outbreak of the disease in Ghana was in 2007, which was brought under control in 2008. In responding to the outbreak in 2007, the Committee was informed that there was inter-sectorial collaboration, especially between the Ministry and the Information Services Department of the then Ministry of Information, in disseminating infor- mation to farmers and the public. The use of information vans, with public address systems of the Information Services Department went a long way in increasing awareness of the disease. In addition, Government guaranteed the payment of compensation to all affected farmers. The payment of compensation encouraged farmers to report early signs of the disease, without fear of possible destruction of their birds and the attendant loss of revenues. During the 2007 outbreak, the European Union (EU) and other development partners donated fourteen (14) pickups, three (3) cross country vehicles, one hundred and thirty-five (135) motorbikes and other logistical items to support the exercise. The Emergency Plan and Funding Requirements The Committee noted that a detail and comprehensive nationwide Emergency Plan and Funding (Budgetary) require- ments have been prepared by the Ministry to deal with the outbreak. The plan involves undertaking activities in the following areas: Enhance Rapid Outbreak Detection and Implementation of Containment Measures This area would require the purchase of reagents for detection of the disease, sample test at the World Health Animal Organisation and FAO Laboratories, culling of affected birds and the proper disposal of the carcasses, disinfection of the affected farms, among others. The total budget under this area proposed by the Ministry is estimated at Gh¢2,800,000.00. The Committee conducted an in-depth scrutiny of the activities and inputs and is of the opinion that the amount is reasonable for the achievement of the expected deliverable. Active Surveillance of Domestic Poultry and Wild Bird Populations for Rapid Detection of Spill Overs Activities to be undertaken in this area include the movement of surveillance teams to poultry farms and wild bird sanctuaries nationwide to assess possible occurrence of the disease. It would also involve the purchase of sampling analysis materials such as rapid antigen detection kits and other essential reagents, Global Positioning System (GPS) and other molecular diagnosis consumables. An amount of Gh¢832,390.00 is estimated for this output area. However, upon careful examination of the activities against the estimated amounts, the Committee is recommending an amount of GH¢670,300.00. The Committee believes some of the activities could be coordinated in a more efficient manner to reduce cost. Sensitization of the Public To increase awareness and ensure prompt reporting of suspected outbreaks as well as enforcement of on-farm biosecurity systems, the Ministry proposes educational seminars for key stakeholders such as farmers, bird market traders, processors et cetera. Educational and awareness creation posters and flyers would also be developed. Media interactions would also be intensified. A total amount of Gh¢1,295,000.00 has been estimated for the activities under this sub-component. The Committee is of the opinion that some of the activities should be pooled together and conducted at the zonal level to reduce cost. The Committee therefore recommends an amount of Gh¢1,195,000.00 after critical analysis. Laboratory Capacity Building and Diagnosis Activities under this sub-component include training of Regional and District Veterinary Staff on disease recognition and reporting, biosafety measures in sampling and in modern diagnosis of Avian influenza. The estimated budget for this output area by the Ministry is GH¢620,000.00. The Committee noted that during the outbreak in 2007, the African Union, IBAR and the USAID, supported the Ministry in training a number of Veterinary Officers on the disease. The Committee is therefore of the opinion that, an amount of GH¢450,000.00 would be adequate to train new officers and for refresher courses for the old staff. Border Harmonisation Meetings with Neighbouring Countries Since the disease is trans-boundary in nature, international best practices require all affected neighbouring countries, to harmonise their activities to achieve holistic control, eradication and prevention. Under this output, the Ministry intends to have a series of meetings with key stakeholders from Togo, Burkina Faso and la Cote d'Ivoire, to map out a common strategy to deal with the outbreak. An amount of GH¢650,000.00 was budgeted by the Ministry for the border meetings. Upon further discussions with the Ministry, it was agreed that, an amount of GH¢300,000.00 would be adequate for the current emergency. Logistical Requirements The Committee was informed that, the Veterinary Services Directorate was currently challenged with logistics such as equipment for its regional laboratories and vehicles for monitoring. To upgrade the regional laboratories and to enhance the movement of personnel and equipment for effective sampling and analysis, an amount of GH¢5,300,000.00 was proposed by the Ministry. Out of this figure, GH¢3,000,000.00 was earmarked for the procurement of 20 vehicles. It was the opinion of the Committee that the 20 vehicles were on the high side. The Committee advised the Ministry to collaborate with other MDAs to mobilise some vehicles to support the campaign. The Committee therefore, recommends the purchase of twelve (12) pickup vehicles instead of the twenty (20) vehicles proposed by the Ministry. The Committee's recommendation was informed by lessons from the previous outbreak. It was noted that during the 2007 outbreak, the European Union donated fourteen (14) pickups, three (3) cross-country vehicles and one hundred and thirty-five (135) motorbikes to the Ministry. The proposed budget for this sub- component is therefore GH¢3,619,700.00. Compensation for Farmers The Committee noted that a provision of GH¢2,000,610.00 has been made as compensation to farmers whose farms may be destroyed as part of the measures to control the outbreak. The amount represents estimated compensation for about 75,000 birds and other poultry products. The figure of 75,000 represents 0.0125 per cent of the total poultry population of about 60,000,000. The Committee acknowledges that, the current figure of culled birds of 33,000 recorded in the Greater Accra and Volta Regions is likely to increase, once the compensation package comes into effect and farmers start reporting early signs of the disease to the Ministry. The Committee was informed that payment of compensation during the last outbreak helped in controlling the outbreak. The Committee therefore, is of the view that payment of the compensation would be in the right direction.
Observations and Recommendations The Impact of the Outbreak The Committee noted that, as many as ten (10) poultry farms have been affected within a month of detecting the disease in Ghana. A total bird population of 33,143 have been destroyed from the affected farms. Also, a total of 1,058 crates of eggs and 37 bags of feed have also been destroyed. There is the likelihood that more farms may have been affected but not yet discovered. The Committee further noted that the loss to farmers in terms of revenue amounts to over one million Ghana cedis. The impact of the outbreak is not just limited to the expected losses to farmers in terms of their investment, but more importantly, the potential loss of human lives from the transmission of the disease to humans. The House would recall that, the Committee indicated in its Report to the House during the consideration of the 2015 Annual Budget Estimates of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, that the Ministry was collaborating with the private sector (Ghana National Farmers Association) to produce a target of 20 million broilers or 30,000 metric tonnes of poultry meat by the end of 2015. The achievement of this target was expected to reduce import of poultry by 38.9 per cent and save the country about US$132 million in foreign exchange. The outbreak of the disease would negatively impact on the realisation of these targets. Directive by the Chief of Staff The Committee was informed that the Chief of Staff had directed that an amount of Gh¢3,850, 000.00 be released by the Ministry of Finance to the Ministry of Food and Agriculture for the control of the outbreak. The Committee further noted that the amount of GH¢3,850,000.00 was based on estimates to contain the outbreak when it was first reported in the Greater Accra Region. However, as at 8th July, 2015, the said amount was yet to be released by the Ministry of Finance. Conclusion After a thorough interrogation of the activities contained in the Comprehensive Nationwide Emergency Plan and analysis of the funding proposed by the Ministry, the Committee observed that an amount of GH¢11,035,610.00 would be required to sufficiently deal with the outbreak. The Committee recommends to the House to adopt its Report, and subject to the provisions in article 177 (1) of the Constitution and Order 170 (1) of the Standing Orders, refer the Report to the Finance Committee to advise the House accordingly. Respectfully submitted.
MR SECOND DEPUTY SPEAKER
Yes, Hon Ranking Member?
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion on the floor and in doing so, I would like all of us to take a very serious note of the outbreak of the Avian Influenza. Mr Speaker, it is said that, it was first discovered in Ghana in May and from May to this time -- We are talking about a virus that can get to any place at any particular time. Many countries surrounding us such as Liberia, Burkina Faso, Togo and la Cote d'Ivoire have taken the step to tackle this challenge squarely. Ghana is the only country that is not doing anything at the moment.
Thank you. The Motion is moved and seconded. It is for the consideration of the House. Question propose.
Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to support the Motion to adopt the Report of the Committee on Food, Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs, on the outbreak of the Avian Influenza in Ghana. Mr Speaker, we have been told by experts that, this Avian Influenza virus is a very infectious disease of birds. However, the frightening part of the story is that, the disease is transmitted to humans through indirect and direct contact with infected live birds. I believe we are all aware that, this is not the first time that we are experiencing the outbreak of this disease and there are clear strategies, procedures and processes that we have. I am talking about the past experience of how we had managed these outbreaks in 2007. And other countries - - I am talking about neighbouring countries; Nigeria, Burkina Faso -- Are also having the same experiences and the way they are dealing with the disease. The level of seriousness that our neighbouring countries are showing, because the impact of this disease on our local economy would be very devastating. As we speak, I can tell you, Mr Speaker, that the Ministry of Food and Agriculture is facing serious challenges, especially, in the area of finance to manage this disease -- I am saying this because -- [Interruption] -- Records show that, just within a few months, about 33,143 crates of eggs -- Of birds have been destroyed already. And we are losing almost GH¢1 million from our local economy. Our ordinary farmers and poultry farmers are losing revenue and we are in a country where we are saying that we have unemployment problems and --
Hon Akoto Osei, do you have a point of order?
Yes. I think my Hon Friend is a Member of the Committee. I just want a clarification. I heard him say 33, 143 crates of eggs. The Committee's Report is talking about birds. So, he should clarify it. At first he said “crates of eggs”. So, I was wondering if he is a Member of the Committee or not. He said “crates of birds”. Why would he say “crates of birds”?
Mr Speaker, I said ‘birds' not “crates of birds”. All I am trying to say is that, our local and ordinary poultry farmers are suffering. If we are encouraging our youth to go into agriculture, and we have a programme to support poultry in this country, to reduce the loss of the amount of foreign exchange that we use in importing these things into this country, then it is important that we assist the Ministry to take care of this problem. In our own Youth in Agriculture programme, we plan to do a lot of things and it is --
What do you mean by “our own”?
I am talking about the programme of Government called Youth in Agriculture.
But you are an Hon Member of the Legislature. Are you a Member of Government?
I am a Ghanaian, Mr Speaker.
All right. So, “our own” in terms of Ghana's --
But say it. [Laughter.]
Mr Speaker, I am only saying that, the Government of Ghana has a programme called Youth in Agriculture, and the programme is to support the youth to go into agriculture. If the youth are to be encouraged, then there must be every effort to ensure that they are safe, their birds are safe and the environment is safe, for them to go into agriculture. That is what I am trying to say, Mr Speaker. The question we need to ask ourselves is that, have we learnt any lessons from the past experiences? I would say, yes, because we do not need to re-invent the wheels. All the activities that we had gone through in 2007 and were successful in preventing and eradicating the disease in 2007 and 2008, we just have to go back and go through the same process. From our Committee level, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture presented a comprehensive programme to the Committee and a comprehensive budget is being attached to the programme. It is in my opinion that, if we support the programme of the Ministry, they would be able to not only prevent, but eradicate or control this disease in this part of our country. Mr Speaker --
I think you should be concluding.
I would conclude, Mr Speaker. The repercussions of the disease in our labour economy, in terms of loss of revenue to our farmers, increasing unemployment, putting pressure on our foreign exchange and many others, I believe that approving the entire amount of GH¢11, 035, 610 would be in the right direction to combat --
Hon Member, is that in the Report? Is what you are saying in the Report?
I am saying that --
You are reading from somewhere. Is it in the Report?
Yes, Mr Speaker.
But the Hansard has captured the Report, Hon Member.
I am only appealing to the House.
So, if you are saying something and you are reading from the Report when the Hansard has captured the Report --
No, I am not reading from the Report. I am copiously referring to my notes. Mr Speaker, I am concluding by saying that, all of us should support this Report so that whatever action the House needs to adopt to find a way of supporting the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, to be able to implement these activities and programmes, would be welcome, so that at least, we can eradicate and control this disease in our country. Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity.
Thank you, Hon Member. Hon Member for Dormaa Central?
Mr Speaker, I am speaking from experience as a poultry farmer and also to speak on behalf of my constituents.
Hon Member, are you still a poultry farmer?
Yes, Mr Speaker.
But you have not appeared before the Committee on --
Mr Speaker, you signed the certificate for me.
So, you have appeared. All right.
Yes, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, on behalf of my constituents who supply close to about two-thirds of the eggs consumed in our country, and Hon (Dr) Hanna Bisiw attests to this fact, she knows that. Mr Speaker, if we do not work seriously with the recommendations of the Committee, as quickly and speedily as possible, we are putting the livelihood of about half of my constituents in serious financial danger. If the disease gets to Dormaa, we would not know what the economy of my constituency would be like, and I would urge the House to reinforce the recommendations of the Committee, to push the Ministry of Finance to act quickly on the directive of the Chief of Staff to release the funds to enable the Ministry implement the programmes they have outlined as quickly as possible. Mr Speaker, it is correct that in the year 2007, we had this challenge and a lot of things happened in trying to prevent the disease. Luckily, we could manage whatever challenges were there. This time round, it looks like the recommendations are even confining the Ministry to Accra, and that spells out another danger in some other areas of the country, where we would have to work with the same programmes and the recommendations from this Committee. Mr Speaker, we do not seem to have adequate Veterinary Officers to do any serious surveillance in about 350 farms that we have around the environs of Dormaa. That is also another dangerous thing.
Hon William Quaittoo, do you have a point of order?
Yes, Mr Speaker, the Hon Member is saying that the recom- mendations --
What order are you coming under?
I am coming under Order 30.
Could you read it, please? --
Mr Speaker, I do not have it here. [Interruption.] Mr Speaker, Order 30(e) he said something which is not true.
Hon Quaittoo, I am not allowing him to help you. Read Order 30 and tell me what Order you are coming under. All right, while you put your house in order, I would allow him to continue.
Mr Speaker, I would like to continue.
Put you house in order, while the Hon Member for Dormaa continues.
Mr Speaker, what I was saying was that, we do not have adequate Veterinary Officers to do any serious surveillance in my constituency, in about 380 farms which one could easily sight. Apart from that, the very few Veterinary Officers there do not have adequate logistics. Mr Speaker, it would surprise you to know that as far back as in the year 2008, a whole laboratory building was completed. As I speak today, the necessary equipment to be taken there to enable Veterinary Officers to do serious laboratory work, to support the poultry industry, which the largest in the country and sited in my constituency has not been supplied. It then puts into question what preparedness we are undertaking. Do we have a package to combat the outbreak of this disease, not only in other parts of the country, but more seriously in my constituency? Mr Speaker, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture is aware that we are the largest poultry producer in the county, but they do not seem to have even concentrated on anything seriously there. That gives an indication that, where we even have concentration, our preparedness is not ready. Where else would they have prepared to do anything? That demons- trates how unprepared they are to fight, if there is any outbreak in the country. Mr Speaker, on public information, two days ago, there was an announcement that lives birds have been banned in Accra, to the extent that one cannot take them round from one area to another. Luckily, maybe, this morning, that somebody was trying to withdraw that statement, I do not know who is putting this in the public domain. If one has “spent birds” in his farm -- When I say “spent birds”, they are birds that have finished laying eggs and one has to dispose them of and re-stock with day old chicks to boast one's farm. And this announcement comes unto the public domain when there is nothing so serious, one is killing the industry.
Therefore, the Ministry should sit up and do what they are supposed to do, to protect the industry and make sure that surveillance is done to ensure that there are Veterinary Officers who have logistics and equipment to stock the laboratories so that we would be seen as people who are ready to combact the disease.
Hon Member, do you have a point of order?
Exactly so, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Member rose on a point of order.
Hon Member, what point of order, mention it.
Mr Speaker, Order 91 and I am saying that the Hon Member said something which is not true. That was the reason the Hon Quaittoo was on a point of order. But you did not allow him to rectify what he said which is not true.
Have you finished? Have you finished? Read Order 91. You got up on Order 91, read it. Tell us what is there. Hon Member, you got up on a point of order. Who are you making the point of order against? Is it against the Mr Speaker?
Hon Member, I am flabbergasted. I do not know how to respond to this. This is because, the conduct of proceedings in the House is in the bosom of Mr Speaker. I have moved on. Hon Quaittoo got up and said he was on a point of order. I asked him what the point of order was. He was looking for the Standing Order and I said he should put his house in order, while the Hon Member for Dormaa Central continued. Then you got up to say I should go back. You are ordering me. I do not understand what is happening. I am confused. Yes, Hon Second Deputy Majority Whip, is he ordering me to go back? I do not understand what is happening.
Mr Speaker, you are right, and I think the Hon Member should have taken a cue from my Hon Colleague from the other side. When he quoted the Order 30 and you said he should read it and because of that he relinquished and sat down. The Hon Member was trying to quote Order 91 which is where a debate might be interrupted by a point of order. From what we are seeing, the specific point of order he should have quoted was Order 30(f), which is deliberate misleading of the House. But Mr Speaker, he could not cite that, and because of that, I think maybe, I would appeal to you to forgive him since he is a first timer.
He is my very good Friend and we are on the same Committee, so I am not annoyed at all, we are in the process of learning and teaching one another. Indeed Hon Member, the person who rose --[Interruption] -- Please, please, we are all learning. We have all been first timers before, please. When an Hon Member rises on a point of order and the person is not successful in proceeding with his point of order, because the Speaker either disallows his point of order, or asks him questions that disables him from continuing, we have moved on. You could get up on your own point of order and say that what the Hon Member on floor is saying, was wrong or something. But you cannot get up on a point of order and say that the Speaker said something and that the Speaker should go back. Then you are entering into paths unknown within our par- liamentary democracy, because the effect of what you are doing is seeking to direct me, as to what to do, but I have moved on. Yes, Hon Member, if you think he said something that is wrong, you could get up on your own point of order and I would ask you what Order you are coming under. So prepare well, and then when you get up I would give you the opportunity. Yes, Hon Member?
Thank you, Mr Speaker. I was talking about inadequate allocations and releases and I was going to cite an example from the Report that was laid in the House sometime last week, from the Public Interest and Account- ability Committee. Mr Speaker, it would surprise you to note that, even when Parliament has identified four priority areas for which oil revenues should be spent, agricultural modernisation was allocated only 2. 5 per cent of the Annual Budget Funding Amount (ABFA), while even capacity building was allocated 3.7 per cent. Mr Speaker, to be precise, in absolute terms, agriculture was allocated only GH¢13. 6 million, and capacity building was allocated GH¢20 million, so how serious are we with agriculture? Mr Speaker, last two weeks, I moved a Motion and I presented the Public Accounts Committee's Report on Performance Audit Reports from the Audit Service, on the Ministry of Food and Agriculture's own programme, in trying to do more to let us have food security. They had picked six crops and they were trying to grow the crops such that we shall have six per cent growth annually for a very long time to come. Mr Speaker, there again, because of inadequate resources to the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, we scored 27 per cent growth rate in the first year of implementation of that project. By 2011, we had dipped to four per cent growth on annual basis and the Hon Minority Leader had cause to question Parliament here, that if we are not careful, things that would happen to all of us would not be very good.
On a point of order. Mr Speaker, I think the Hon Member is making a very good point, but he made a point that capacity building has been allocated GH¢20 million and it created the impression that the word “capacity building” means something that is not important. Mr Speaker, at least, that is my view, and let me explain. I would like to point out that in some of the capacity building
Hon Minister, I would give you an opportunity to respond. Do not worry. I noted that myself, but I would give you an opportunity to respond. Yes, Hon Member?
Mr Speaker, I was going to try to ignore my Hon Friend who is the Hon Minister for Petroleum. I would like him to take a good look at this particular Report. Mr Speaker, I would crave your indulgence to read some portion that talks about capacity building, as has been seen by the Public Interest and Accountability Committee: “ …the Capacity Building priority area appears to be a category under which certain expenditure items which may not be related to capacity building have been classified”. Mr Speaker, details are here. Clearly, we have put capacity building there and we are spending the money on items that would never and can never be related to capacity building, and the Hon Minister is coming to tell me this. I have a good reason I am comparing capacity building to agriculture.
Hon Member, you should be concluding.
Mr Speaker, in my conclusion, all I would like to say is that we should be serious. The budgetary allocations to agriculture is getting close to one per cent, as we speak now in our country. The agricultural sector that should even receive funds from oil, we are giving it the most minimum from the four areas that we categorised and approved by Parliament. So Mr Speaker, we are sitting on a time bomb. Avian Influenza when it hits our country, a whole industry is going to collapse. The President was here and he was talking about what savings we have made from importation of poultry products from outside, and this could save us a lot of dollars, to avoid the cedi depreciating by day and therefore, we should caution and probably reinforce this particular Report to make sure that amount, no matter how inadequate they are, would be released, such that certain things could be done speedily.
Thank you. Hon Minister for Petroleum?
Mr Speaker, I would like to thank the Hon Member. I was simply making a point. I think that, the point that the Hon Member has made is a point that I completely agree with. The oil revenues must be used to support critical sectors like agriculture. It is very shameful that we continue, for example, in the oil industry, to see importation of other products that quite frankly could be produced here and I agree with him completely. I was simply making the point that, there are other projects in the capacity building that are very important. So, sometimes when we use it so loosely, it gives it a bad name, but I think that the point that he made generally is a point that I support. The oil revenues must support agriculture.
Hon Kwabena Okyere? I think after this, we would take two contributions from each side, then we would take the Leadership, and the Hon Minister.
Mr Speaker, if we take the Report, page 2, it says that 12th May, 2015 was the first time it was reported. Today is 16th July, so it shows that we have spent two months just talking and talking. I believe that, we should even stop the debate and approve the money so they can start working. I believe that, it is time we protect ourselves because the Avian Influenza Flu is a very bad virus and therefore, as a bio- chemist, I strongly believe that we need to start working at it to make sure we stop it spreading to human beings. So far, we have not been told that it has moved from the birds to humans. But if we do not start working now, if we are not careful, it might transmit and cause a lot of deaths. The death ratio is more than 50 per cent when people get infected and therefore, I believe that, it is time we approved the GH¢11 million for the Ministry of Food and Agriculture so that they can start work immediately. Talking too much would not solve the problem. I think that now, we have had the consensus that we need to push this agenda forward and make sure that the spread does not go on. This is because, already it has gotten to the Volta Region and the Ashanti Region. I do not know the time it would be coming to the Western Region, and you know I rear a lot of birds in my house. So, it is very important that we stop it there before it goes forward. Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to add my voice.
Hon Haruna Iddrisu.
Mr Speaker, thank you very much for the opportunity to associate myself with the Motion. Mr Speaker, let me refer to page 7, paragraph 6 of your Committee's Report, and I am happy that the Hon Minister for Finance is by my side. There is a recommendation that, a certain amount of money amounting to GH¢3,850,000 be released to contain the Avian Influenza. I think that, it is important he pays personal attention to this recommen- dation. One would wonder why in dealing with a national emergency of that sort, we still would be reporting 16th July. If we did not contain this, its repercussions -- It could have dire consequences on the poultry industry in general, which is already an industry which is limping, because they have not had adequate support in terms of sustenance. But just to respond to a comment that my Hon Colleague made earlier, Mr Speaker, let me assure you that the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Trade and Industry are intervening with many financial stimuli support for the poultry sector. I know that a number of grants from EDAIF was given to a number of poultry farmers. I recall even my last meeting with Hon “Hajia” Hannah Bisiw, for purposes of this afternoon, when we discussed how to develop the poultry industry, particularly in the Brong- Ahafo Region. I, as the Hon Minister for Trade and Industry then, recognised that the Dormaa area --If we want to talk of a comparative advantage in terms of what the people do in that area, and what support they need, then it was to identify and develop them for the purpose of poultry production in that particular area. I do know whether the Ministry of Food and Agriculture took particular interest, in terms of even extending support to various poultry farmer groups. Mr Speaker, I know that, along the line, there was a certain petition sent to the Council of State which related to many of the issues that we are discussing, in terms of approvals that were recommended, but which were not executed by way of money. Mr Speaker, I believe that, as the President rightly pointed out to this House in one of his State of the Nations Addresses, we need to reduce the import bill on poultry. We have huge capacities for poultry development. I was amazed when I paid a visit to the Akate Farms in the Ashanti Region. I passed through the constituency of the Messi and Ronaldo of our time, to get to the Akate area, and I was amazed at the huge numbers of poultry that he was developing. We should be able to support the development of many young people. I know that, in the past, many of these interventions have not been worth the kind of investment that we have done, but I think that, we need to identify the agricultural sector - Particularly if you look at the growth of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP), you would see the service sector doing very well. We must be mindful as a country, not to lose the support of the agricultural sector, because our economy remains predominantly agricultural. The value claim of the particular poultry sector is what is important -- Even poultry feed becomes another establishment of its own which provides jobs. The breeding also provides its own job opportunities. We would re-examine the participation of young people in it. So with this, I would urge my Hon Colleague that, at least for now, it has been brought to his attention -- Some directive as to some money being released for these purposes, and for him to act on it as expeditiously as possible, in order that we contain the Avian Influenza.
Mr Speaker, I almost became a poultry farmer myself. I got the land and got started but because of the 2007 flu outbreak I panicked and I stopped. I sympathise with farmers who are caught in this difficulty. When matters like this come up and they are debated, we should guard against the temptation of trying to cover up the difficulties to please our Government. My Hon Colleague who first spoke, I think he was suggesting that the Government has done beautifully and so we should pat its back. You read the Report, and it is not entirely true. The Report is agonising about a lot of things which have not been done, which should have been done. I did not quite see the point that the Hon Member was making. Mr Speaker, to start with, I see that a total of a thousand and fifty-eight crate of eggs -- to quote him again, “1,058 crates of eggs have been destroyed,” and I am worried about that I am quoting, it is not my way of putting things. I am just quoting those who do not see the difference between crates of eggs and crates of birds. Mr Speaker, I am not sure of the notice that has gone out to poultry farmers who sell eggs to the shops, which stock up the eggs for sale. Of course, I am talking about the supermarkets. I go to the shops and each time I get there, I ask the attendants whether they are aware of the specific place that the eggs are coming from, and whether there is a kind of mechanism to monitor where the eggs come from. Mr Speaker, it is indicated in the Report that, scientifically, some of these are traced to the -- I think A (H5 N1) and the A (H7N9), some of the virals could mutate and be transferred to human beings. We are dealing with a very dangerous situation here. Again, it is accepted that they are transboundary. Mr Speaker, I do recall that, some years back in Europe, it was suggested that these virals developed in Asia and came all the way from Asia to Europe. So, it is a very serious matter that we are looking at. Mr Speaker, we should take serious precautions. Of course, it is not within the hands the Hon Minister, and there is not much that she can do about it. I remember that, our former Hon Colleague, Sheik I. C. Quaye suggested that, the mosquito does not require a passport to travel. So, these creatures which cause the difficulty on our hands now do not require passport or laissez- passer -- They simply cross over. I do not know what could be done about that. Mr Speaker, what we could do internally is what we do when the situation arises. Quite seriously, the Government does not seem to have done much, if the Report is anything to go by. With the previous outbreak -- What lesson did we learn from there? And then we talk about the emergency plans -- Emergency plans may well be in place, but have we been able to implement them? They are looking for moneys and moneys are really peanuts. Mr Speaker, GH¢2.8 million, GH¢ 660.000 and -- Indeed, the last time, we had to depend on the Europeans as usual, to bring us 14 pickups, three cross country vehicles, 135 motorbikes -- Do you know how many motorbikes I bought during my campaign? Only 135 motorbikes and we had to depend on the Europeans. We should keep on relying on the Europeans and we would see what they would do with us. For now, I hear that the International Monitory Fund (IMF) has taken a position. I think that, they have taken Mr Terkperh outdoor, that room there, they are sitting there. Mr Terkpeh is not listening to me. Hon Member, I hear that they are in one of your rooms and they are on daily basis telling you what to write. Whether that is true or not, I do not know. Indeed, my understanding is that they are the cause of all these deregulation mess that we are in now. This is because they told you that on --
How is that related to influenza? Some Hon Members -- It is all inclusive.
It is all inclusive. All inclusive of what? The state of the nation?
Mr Speaker, I hope you would recall the story about that bloke, who learnt everything about rabbit and went for this biology exams and there was no question about rabbit. He looked through the paper; up and down, left and centre and there was no rabbit, but he saw forest. Mr Speaker, he could swear by the ovary of his mother that, the examiners were very trickish. They wanted him to describe the rabbit, but they had hidden the rabbit in the forest, so he brought it out from the forest and went from the internal system, the alimentary canal and all that.
Hon Member, I think you are still fasting, Are you not?
I am fasting, Mr Speaker.
What is the reference to this?
You have been on your feet for a while and I thought because you were fasting, maybe you would not be too --
Seriously, when you are fasting you gain so much strength from your Creator that, you do not know where it comes from. There is nothing that you cannot do. [Interruption.] Woboa wo ye Kramo nii, wa ye akwankyer da?] [Interruption.] Which one is the translation? It is pretty rich, you telling me to translate. You are the Hon Member who the other day wanted to speak vernacular in this House -- [Interruption.] Did he translate it? [Interruptions.] Into what?
Yes, Hon |Haruna Iddrisu?
Mr Speaker, I see my brother is on his feet.
I think Hon K. T. Hammond, you have finished?
Mr Speaker, the Hon Tahir --
He has finished --
Mr Speaker, it is always good to get my Brother flourishing on the point of order, so that he might tell us a little about the adundum adundum, what would happen this time? Mr Speaker, it has been going on and on and on, and maybe he would tell us a bit about it. So, I would be quite happy if he would --
No, I would not. I would recognise him in his own right.
Mr Speaker, then I will go on. I would leave Hon Seth --
I believe that you would be concluding now?
I would leave the Hon Seth Terkper and his Ministry alone and leave the International Monetary Fund (IMF) alone. I just think that, this deregulation thing, if it is deregulation or it is not, Mr Speaker, it is a fact that it is not deregulation, the IMF which is giving --
Hon K. T. Hammond thank you, thank you. [Laughter.] Hon Akoto Osei?
Thank you Mr Speaker, for allowing me to contribute to this Motion. Mr Speaker, as I listened to the various contributions, I am wondering if we were serious. Why do I say that? And I know the Hon Chairman of the Committee has amended his Report. But there is still information there, that tells us that we are not serious. May, 12th and today is July 16th 2015; two months. I read in the newspaper today, that the so called stakeholders claimed they have not been consulted. But we have a comprehensive programme that is supposed to solve the problem, but they have not been consulted. How can the programme be comprehensive? In todays' paper? Two days ago, the announcement was that, you cannot move birds within Accra. Can we be serious? Who is implementing that directive? So, if I am at Kaneshie, I cannot move my bird to Circle? They are moving them as we speak. We have a holiday season coming up, it is already here with us and you are going to stop people from selling the birds? Then we are being told by the Committee that; allegedly, the Chief of Staff has directed. The Chief of Staff of the Republic of Ghana has directed. He has received instructions from the President, and he has directed for money to be released and we are being told allegedly that, it has not been paid. Where is the evidence? Where is the letter, it is not attached? Mr Speaker, I am commenting on the Committee's Report.
Hon Akoto Osei, I thought that, when they do these Reports they do not supply us with the background information. So, if there was a letter or something, they would not supply that information. I am not saying what you are saying is wrong, or is right. But I am just saying that, as a matter of practice in this House, when they state things in these documents they do not give us background information. The letters are not annexed, unless of course we doubt the authenticity, then we can ask the Committee to bring it.
Because this is a House of records and this is such a serious indictment, I would think that we refer to the Chief of Staff. Normally, the Chief of Staff would, direct through a letter, dated so and so because it is a serious indictment in our records. In fact, I thought they were going to delete that part, for the purposes of the public so that we do not discuss it, but they left it in there; that is my worry. I do not think it is fair for any Chief of Staff to put this in the public domain. So, I am pleading with the Hon Chairman of the Committee that, that part, 5.2 should have been removed. Because you are making an allegation and I, as an Hon Member of Parliament wants evidence to support that, then I would ask him to attack the Chief of Staff, who is not here --
I have recognised the Hon Member for Sekondi. Do you agree with him on the very interesting point he is raising?
About what is contained in the Report?
I believe that he is entitled to request for evidence to be produced, but not to request that it be expunged from the records, yes.
Mr Speaker, I know I am entitled to it but since it is not attached, then I am forced to talk about it - and therefore, I am forced to indict the Chief of Staff for not treating this as an emergency --
It is not the Chief of Staff who should bring his letter into the Report. You can ask --
Mr Speaker, when you direct and it is not done, you take action. So far, there is no evidence that action has been taken.
But I thought you said that there is no evidence that there is a direction.
Mr Speaker, the reason I am going there is that, it is important because you are implicating a certain Hon Minister. You should talk to him; it says here in the Report that the Ministry of Finance has not paid. Where is the evidence that the Ministry of Finance was consulted? This matter is an emergency, we should not be getting to the area of people blocking heads. It is not necessary and the Committee is saying that, ignore the Chief of Staff's directives and pay the whole amount. If we are serious, we should ignore that the Chief of Staff even said, pay certain amount and request the House to approve the GH¢11million. You yourself have called for GH¢11 to 13million. It means that the first one was inflated. Why do I say it was inflated?
On a point of order. Mr Speaker, I think my Hon Colleague for Old Tafo is confusing the House, because as a Committee, from the conventions and experiences that I have had here, when a Committee works, whatever records that they look at to put anything in the Report, in the very Committee that he is a Ranking Member, they do not attach those records to bring to this House. So, for him to say that what has been put there; there is nothing to show about if you want that record, he is impugning that the Committee just came up with this information from nowhere and put it in and I do not think that is appropriate. The Committee, whatever we put in there, we have documents to support it and it is a matter of fact. If something was required, but has not been done, and it came before the Committee, the Committee would put it in the Report. That is all. If the Hon Member wants the evidence, Mr Speaker, you can excuse me and I would go to my car and bring him copies. I do not know where he is going. Again, the Committee's Report based on the direction of Mr Speaker, was not based on the conclusion we have made, and have not asked the House to approve the GH¢11 million. We have said that, only the Finance Committee can do that, so we are referring the matter to the Finance Committee, based on the direction of Mr Speaker. So if he, as the Ranking Member wants an evidence, when we get there he would see it. I do not know where he is going with this.
Whether my Hon Colleague was providing additional information or not, when you are on the Finance Committee, and you need information, you ask. Any Committee, if you feel it will help advance your case, you ask. So, do not make the accusations that at the Finance Committee we do not ask for information. It is not true. In fact, yesterday, at the meeting, the Hon Member heard me ask the Hon Minister for Finance to give me all those letters. Please, if we are talking about their Report, let us talk about it.
But the letters are not attached to the Committee's Report which comes to the Plenary. But do you have the right to ask for that?
Mr Speaker, in the Committee's Report, page 1, the reference materials are stated; 1992 Constitution and the Standing Orders; issued by Michael Armah. Mr Speaker, my point is that, this matter --
Hon Akoto Osei, you do not just have a dilemma. You have an excellent point because this business about reference materials that is delayed is just that. If the matter is that you have not referenced it, then where did it come from? If there was a letter, you should have referenced it.
Mr Speaker, if my Hon Colleague would listen to me very well. This matter is urgent and I am in support of finding money to deal with the problem. But your Report is bringing out things which tell us that, we Ghanaians are not treating it seriously. That is the point I am getting at. So, when you make accusations, it disturbs me. This is because, I do not have any evidence to support it. If it were that urgent and directives were given, they would be followed. That is the point I am addressing. Mr Speaker, the Committee itself is telling us that the original budget was GH¢13 million. Let me be very precise, page 6 of your Committee's Report. Mr Speaker, when we are dealing with an emergency, let us deal with it. The propensity of people to find additional money for non-emergency is irritating. The Veterinary Services Department suddenly wants to buy 30 new cars to deal with an emergency. The question I ask is, currently, how many cars do they have? Because we have an emergency, they are proposing to buy 30 new cars at the cost of GH¢3 million. What is the entire budget of the veterinary services directorate? -- [Interruption] You want me to quote your Report? Mr Speaker, Logistical Requirements. “The Committee was informed that the Veterinary Services Directorate was currently challenged with logistics such as equipment for its regional laboratories and vehicles for monitoring”. Is it in relation to this emergency? -- [Interruption] Please, let me go on. So, suddenly you would want to buy GH¢3 million worth of cars. The entire Ministry itself --
Hon Deputy Minister, do you not want to rather hold your horses and contribute? I will recognise you.
Mr Speaker, out of this figure, GH¢3 million -- and the figure they are talking about is GH¢5.3 million. Out of that, GH¢3 million is earmarked to purchase 20 brand new cars, Mr Speaker, just to treat this particular emergency. The question we would have to ask is, how many cars does the entire department currently have?
Hon Member for Shama, do you have a point of order?
Mr Speaker, paragraph 4.6 -- Logistical Requirements. It states clearly. It was what the Ministry wanted. It was 20 vehicles; not 30. The Committee after looking at it, recommended 12 vehicles so, I do not know where he is going with all this.
Are you changing your story here?
It is in the Report.
What are you talking about? I am reading your Report just sit down and listen.
Do not tell me, it is not 30.
This is your Committee's Report. If I am lying tell me. An amount of GH¢5.3 million was proposed by the Ministry. Out of this figure, GH¢3 million was earmarked for the procurement of 20 vehicles. It is stated in your Report.
Then go on.
You are missing my point.
Continue where? Do you tell me where to continue? Do not tell me what to do. You are listening to the point. Suddenly, the Veterinary Services Deartment wants 20 vehicles for GH¢3 million. How many do they have now? You are taking advantage of an emergency to go and buy new cars. It is terrible. Let us deal with the emergency. The emergency --
Hon William Quaittoo?
Mr Speaker, the portion he is reading may be taken out of context. We have already indicated the assistance that we had from the previous outbreak when the Food and Agriculture Organisation, European Union -- the number of vehicles that they gave. They gave about 20 and about 135 motorbikes and about 50 laptops. So out of that, if you look at this, this 20 vehicles is not up to the number of vehicles that we had in the first outbreak. So if the Hon Member reads it this way, he would be taking the whole thing out of context.
In any event, I see the next paragraph. In the next paragraph, what does the Committee say?
Mr Speaker, the two Hon Members are missing the point. I am not denying anything in the Report. How many cars does the entire Veterinary Services Directorate have now? They are taking opportunity of this emergency to buy 20 cars. You found that they should buy less -- [Interruption] I am not disputing that, but look at the logic. Because there is an emergency, let us beef up. That is my point. If you do that, some of us would give you zero because we are not dealing with the emergency. The budget they have -- You yourself said it. Page 6 -- you are recommending GH¢11,035,610. Why? Because you feel that their budget is bloated. That is the implication. They are requesting GH¢13,498,000 and the Committee is cutting it back. The budget is bloated -- [Interruption.] That is the implication of what I am saying. The question is, when we have an emergency, why should somebody take advantage and bloat the budget? That is the point. Suddenly, they would want to have sensitisation -- GH¢1.3 million. The emergency is to compensate the farmers and to have measures to stop the virus; not people going for cross border conferences. It is an emergency. Let us deal with it. You mentioned Accra --
Hon Bipoba Naabu?
Mr Speaker, I would want to say that my Friend should not cry. Why is he shouting like that? He should exercise patience.
Hon Naabu, I did not hear you. Was that a point of order?
I said that my Friend, Hon Akoto Osei should not cry. Why is he shouting like that? He should exercise patience.
Mr Speaker, Hon Naabu is a very good Friend of mine. So, even though he did not come on any point of order, I would accept his advice. He is a very good Friend of mine and he has taken opportunity this time, without Mr Speaker calling him, to get up and speak. He has done very well.
My concern about Hon Bipoba Naabu is that, I am yet to find out where his actual seat is. Sometimes I see him right at the front. Sometimes he is at the second row. Is that your seat?
That is your official seat but you move -- [Laughter.]
Mr Speaker, in the Committee's Report, Ghana confirmed her first case on a farm in the Greater Accra Region on 12th May, 2015. Thereafter, there have been confirmed cases in two other regions, namely, Volta and Ashanti Regions. So, if you ban movement of birds in Accra -- That is what the directive said. What about the movement of birds in the Volta and Ashanti Regions? -- [Interruption.] Movement -- but you said in the Greater Accra Region. That is what came in the newspapers. Do you need brand new pickups? Even in the rural areas, motorbikes can move faster than cars. So, why are people obsessed with cars when we have an emergency that could kill us? Why are people obsessed with cross- border meetings when the emergency is in Accra? When there is emergency in Accra, we are talking about brand new cars. We cannot deal with the emergency? Please, let us be serious. How are you going to implement this directive in all these three regions? I am from the Ashanti Region. How are you going to implement this with brand new pickups? That is not the point. We should demonstrate that compre- hensive programme. It is not shown here. Maybe you have access to it, but we are not convinced. It is not attached. This is why I am saying the references must be made. You are referring to the Committee on Finance. We do not have that informa- tion.
Hon Akoto Osei, when it comes to the Committee on Finance, I am convinced beyond reasonable doubt that the Committee, having such experienced Members of Parliament as you, would satisfy itself of all the information before it makes its recommendations.
Mr Speaker, my concern is that, because it is the Committee on Food and Agriculture, they should have provided this House with as much information as possible, so we could move
Hon Akoto Osei, I think you should be concluding. I am not disagreeing, but he should conclude because he has been speaking for a long time; if it is possible. All right, I would give you a little more time.
He has amended the Report but that amendment still says that they are asking for GH¢11,035,610.00 and the reason they gave is that, the GH¢3,850.000.00 is not coming from the Ministry. Even with the Contingency Fund, we have to ask the Ministry to release it. So, if they are going to flout the directives of the Chief of Staff, do you think they are not going to flout the directives of Parliament? It does not make sense. You cannot be faulting them for flouting the Chief of Staff's directives and think that they would follow our directives, they do not work under us. That is why I am saying that, this part should have been taken out because it does not help us. If there are difficulties in communication among us --
Hon Member for Shama, do you have a point of order?
Mr Speaker, as I said before, my Hon Colleague is just taking pieces of the Report without reading the entire Report. We specifically stated in the Report, that the GH¢3,850.000.00 was done when we had the emergency in Accra. That was when the consideration was made. We explained that the comprehensive plan is for the entire country and that is why the GH¢11,035,610.00 comes in. If he reads the entire Report, he would see that. The issue with the pickups, in 2007 how many did the European Union give us? 14 pickups, two cross-country vehicles and 135 motorbikes. So, I do not know where he is going with all this. He should read the entire Report.
He is saying that I have not read the entire Report. Please I have. He has already taken that part out. When he got up, he amended the Report and he is now saying that, it is still in there. How could he amend the Report and say that it is still there. He amended the conclusion, did he not?
I amended the conclusion but not that part.
Mr Speaker, the point is that, your comprehensive Report is going in for GH¢11,035,610.00. It does not include the GH¢3,850.000.00.
The solution is not that. This is because, the Chief of Staff's directives have not been complied with, it is the same Ministry of Finance who must release the money from the Contingency Fund, so what are you saying? If there is a problem in coordination, you deal with it, but do not bring it to the public domain, then you force us to talk about things that -- it is not the best. Let us do the right thing. Mr Speaker, I take your guidance, it would come back to the Finance Committee and we will take it up. Deputy Minister for Food and Agriculture (Dr Ahmed Y. Alhassan): Thank you very much Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to lend support to the Committee's Report as submitted to the House. I must say that, the issue at hand is a biological emergency and because it is an emergency, we cannot see with our naked eyes, we must mobilise every resource to contain the situation. There is a criticism that some stakeholders say that they were not consulted. It is a difficult situation, if you have to consult every stakeholder before you deal with an emergency. There are systems put in place to deal with emergencies and as the epicenter expands, then your consultation also expands. But it is not the case that because there is an issue at one point, you have to wait and consult everybody. It is an emergency so, you have to act within your capacity before you even think about consulting stakeholders who must come around. The issue is a zoonotic one that we are dealing with which nobody could see with the eye. It can affect human beings in terms of sickness. In an emergency, sometimes it might even require mobilising aircrafts and not vehicles to deal with emergencies, depending on the level at which you are dealing with it. So, let us not think that because vehicles are being mobilised, it is too much. In any case, in 2007 Mr Speaker --
I just want to follow him. Is he saying that we need aircrafts to airlift birds? I am asking because in this case it is birds. So, you go to Ejura Sekyere Odumase and airlift birds?
I am still on my feet. What I am saying is that, you seem to be complaining that vehicles are being mobilised at such high cost and you are not happy with it and believe that budgets are being bloated just for officials of the Ministry to have comfortable vehicles to ride. I am responding by telling you that, in an emergency, even when necessary, aircrafts have to be mobilised to contain the emergency because human lives are at stake, and that is the point I am making. In 2007 --
Hon Isaac Osei, do you have a point of order?
The Hon Deputy Minister is right, except that even in emergencies, we do not buy aircrafts. The Hon Deputy Minister is talking about purchase and you are talking about mobilisation. Mobilisation of vehicles within the Government setup may well be the answer. There are many vehicles in many Ministries which could be used for this purpose.
Just as mobilisation might not necessarily mean purchase -- Mobilisation includes purchase of vehicles and that is the point that I want to make. Mobilisation includes outright
I just wanted to understand the point the Hon Deputy Minister is making. It is an emergency and he is talking about the purchase of vehicles. I thought that in an emergency, we would rather mobilise just like the Electoral Commission organising an election. But in the Report, I think they are talking about purchasing, and if it is an emergency, do we have enough time to purchase 17 or 20 vehicles? This is because they might not be with the car dealers and we might have to place an order. I believe that, that is the point the Hon Member was making.
Mr Speaker, I am the first person to use the word “mobilise”, I understand what I am saying. I am saying that if mobilisation includes other purchase of vehicles, so must it be. That is the point I am making. If mobilisation includes other purchase of vehicles to deal with the situation, so must it be. This is because we are looking at human lives that can be lost; precious human lives in this particular circum- stance. In 2007 when there was a similar situation, 17 vehicles were purchased for the Ministry of Food and Agriculture to deal with the same emergency. In any case, why must we not believe that it is only after an assessment of the infrastructure and the logistics within the Ministry, that such a request can be made? It can only be after such an assessment has been made. Let us believe that the people are working and they have feeling for the country, and they know that this emergency is within a situation of hard, very difficult circumstances for Government because, the finances are not there. The bottom line is that, lest we do not have the money to deal with everything. But there is an emergency and so, let us think totally as a country to mobilise resources, to support our experts to deal with the situation. And if the Ministry of Food and Agriculture is advising the country, and they are the experts put in place to do so, why are we all of a sudden not believing them, simply because numbers are being put on the emergency situation? Let us deal with that. Mr Speaker, I would like to state that, the movement of live birds, is a nationwide fiat. It was not meant to affect only a particular region or city. It is a national directive that, movement should freeze across sector. And I believe if we ask the experts, they would be able to explain why such a directive is necessary. Let me conclude by saying that, and making a humble suggestion; the Committee, made some recommendations that we should contact the Ministry of Finance et cetera for resources. I would add that, perhaps we would add a mobilisation or an interaction with our development partners, who already did some investment in agriculture, to see to what extent they can come to our support, just as it happened in 2008.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to contribute to this debate. Mr Speaker, we are talking about the outbreak of Avian Influenza in Ghana, so, it is a state of emergency. And I do not want any Hon Member to think that when issues are raised about cost, it means one is not aware of the importance of reacting to the emergency. I note that, in several portions of the Report, the Committee has recognised that we could combat or fight this emergency, or overcome the Avian flu with a little more judicious use of resources, and I believe the Committee ought to be commended for that. Mr Speaker, what I do not really see in this Report, is an indication of the timetable for the combating of this Avian flu. I see that, the Committee stated in 2007, that, there was an outbreak and it was combated in 2008. Does it mean that it is going to take us a year? It is not in the Report and that is my problem. The Report should inform us and let us know that, there is a timetable given us by the experts, which we have conceded and considered and recognised that it is enough. It could be that a year is too long, it could be that six months may be better. But this Report does not give this indication. Mr Speaker, when we talk about procurement of vehicles, in the ordinary acceptation of that word, it means purchase. But the fact is that, if we have an emergency, do we have enough time to purchase vehicles? Knowing that in this country you do not have vehicles parked in the dealers shop for purchase, and particularly new vehicles. Unless of course, that you have anticipated it, and you have a particular number of vehicles locked up. I am not condemning the Report, but I am saying that, this Report does not give us enough information. The information may have been given to the Committee, but the Committee in its Report has not passed on this information to the House, for the House itself to appreciate that there is an emergency, and adequate programme has been put in place which is going to be backed by the necessary resources. Mr Speaker, I am expecting that someone, either the Hon Chairman or the Hon Deputy Minister responsible for Livestock and -- I do not know the designation, would give us more information. This is because if there is Avian flu, and we are told that human beings can even be infected and at one time, there has been a directive that birds should not be moved, then of course, there must have been a well thought out programme to assure us that we would not get infected by bird flu because we do not have the resources that we need. Mr Speaker, I support all measures necessary to combat this flu. But please, let the Committee, before we approve this Report, give us a timetable, that within a month, this are the actions that are going to be taken and this is supposed to be the outcome. The Report is too sparse, when it comes to programmatic measures that have been proposed by the Ministry to combat this flu.
Thank you. Hon Deputy Minister for Food and Agriculture in charge of Livestock? Deputy Minister for Food and Agriculture (Dr Hanna Louisa Bisiw): Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity.
I would want to take this opportunity to thank Hon Members for their contributions. We are debating on the Committee's Report on the outbreak of Avian Influenza, known as Bird Flu. Mr Speaker, what we have in our country is H5 N1. H5 N1 virus is a zoonotic virus. It means that, it can move from animals to humans. This virus also has the potential to mutate. Mutating means that, it is going to change its charac- teristics, then at a certain point if not handled very well, we may have the danger of having the transmission now being from human to human. Mr Speaker, we had some outbreak in our country in the year 2007, and by 2008, it came under control. Mr Speaker, we should have continued something that we call, “passive surveillance,” but this was not done. Normally, when there is an outbreak, we do the control and the eradication; then we go into active surveillance for about a year and then move from the active surveillance to a passive surveillance. Mr Speaker, the farms that are affected, cannot operate until after six months. And so, there is nowhere we can even have an active surveillance in less than a year. Anytime there is an outbreak on any farm, the proper thing to do is to kill all the birds on that farm, burn down every wooden structure, the feed, the drinkers et cetera on the farm and every farm which is located five kilometres in radius around that farm, must also be treated same, put under quarantine, go through series of disinfections and then wait for a certain period to introduce new birds. Wait for the incubation period, take these birds to the laboratory, and then check if we still have presence or not of the flu, before one would declare those farms safe to operate. Mr Speaker, the sub-region had the outbreak from December 2014— Dr A. A. Osei — On a Point of Order.
Mr Speaker, I was just looking at the clock and it looks like it is passed two o'clock.
There is a clock here that I look at, which says 1:55 p.m. and I always depend on the clock in front of me. Thank you very much for the information.
Mr Speaker, our clock says 2:00 p.m. and so somebody is discriminating.
Mr Speaker, my clock says five minutes after 2:00 p.m. and so, maybe we have to synchronise our watches so that we get it r ight— [Laughter.]
There is a huge clock in front of me that says 1:55 p.m. but since —I think I just have to do it so that we can progress. Hon Members, I come under Standing Order 40 (3) and to say that having regard to the state of business of the House, I direct that Sitting be held outside the prescribed period.
Mr Speaker, as I said, the outbreak came to the sub-region in December, 2014. It started from Nigeria, went on to Niger, Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso. When we had the outbreak in the sub-region, we put measures in place but we did not have the logistics to go round. We had meetings with our development partners and they suggested that we brought the budget to them. So, we sat with the personnel of the FAO and a comprehensive budget for a compre- hensive national programme was drawn. Mr Speaker, before we could draw on any support, we had the outbreak in the Greater Accra Region. Interestingly, it started right from the very zone where we also had the first outbreak in 2007. Then, we had to amend our stance from just the preventive aspect to controlling, eradica- ting and the preventive aspect of it. The preventive aspect will be the active surveillance and then we would move on to the passive surveillance after about a year. Mr Speaker, we border with Nigeria from Togo. We have a direct border with Ivory Coast and we have a direct border with Burkina Faso. We have not had issues in our border towns and we say that cautiously because we might not have had farmers coming in to report. The difficulty that we have now is that, farmers are not comfortable coming forward to say that they have these issues with them. This is because of the compensation aspect. Mr Speaker, as we speak, just this week, we found traces of the Avian Influenza, or bird flu on the Kantamanto Market. There was a directive that we gave out to ban the movement of live birds from area to area. What we are saying is that, they should not hawk with the birds. The danger of moving around with the birds is that, the droppings of any infected bird has live virus in them and they are active. As they drop anywhere, they are spreading the disease. Also, this disease is with direct to indirect contact with the droppings from infected birds. And so, human beings would be at risk and then there is the risk of also spreading the disease about. But if we have our traders seated on the market, then we can go to these markets and check on the birds, as it was done and we were able to find out that about 40 cockerels that were on the market for sale had the Avian Influenza (H5N1). Mr Speaker, we would urge every Ghanaian—it is not only for Greater Accra Region; it is a national issue -- to now sit at the market and not to roam around. And also to say that, the birds on the market are safer for us to buy now because they will be checked. Mr Speaker, a lot has been said about the transportation or the logistics that we need. The truth is that, it is a national assignment and for us not to come back and face this same situation again, we need to do it well and properly. All the other countries that have had the infection in the sub-region are doing very well. They are doing better than us. We have not done anything to move with these things. Mr Speaker, it is just like the example of soup. The fact that we want to take soup does not mean that we will just get the soup. One would need certain ingredients to prepare the soup. We need vehicles to move around. We need motorbikes to move around—
Mr Speaker, the Hon Deputy Minister, Dr Hanna Bisiw is my very good friend, but I think she is stepping a little beyond the boundaries than I expected on this occasion. I appreciate that she is a responsible Deputy Minister in charge -- But the other Hon Colleague has also explained quite a lot to us. We were beginning to point to you the relevance of time. I am just wondering whether it is right for my Hon Colleague to sit us here and take us through the scientific details of preparation of soup.
It was just an example. I remember when — Does the Minister for Finance want to speak?
Mr Speaker, it is not that the Department or the Ministry is taking advantage of a situation to purchase vehicles. We do not also want to wait and to start getting the transmission from the birds to human. Apart from that, the danger of wiping out the entire poultry industry in our country with the huge economic loses that we would incur, and we would then have to come back here, look at certain things that we should have looked at today, and because we did not look at them; we could have a negative impact of all these issues. Mr Speaker, what I would want to plead is that, we do have an emergency at hand. Probably, because it is the birds that are dying today and not the humans. Maybe, it is because we have not reported a human case yet, but when one reads the records, we have about 59 per cent of human case fatality worldwide, so the mortality is high for humans. Maybe, because of the way we report cases, we might have a human case in Ghana but it might not have been reported. We do not want to get massive infections—where things have been done wrongly and then human beings would be dying, poultry farms wiped out, and farmers denied of their daily bread. Mr Speaker, we would also want to say that a lot of consultations have been done, but there are certain things that are very technical that, immediately you have an outbreak, you move in and do them before you even talk. You first have to give a stand-still command for nothing to move. And that is what we are doing; we are still consulting. So, I support the Report of the Committee and I would plead with Mr Speaker, to also look at the Report and then have some positive consideration for us. I would also want to put on record that, since our development partners realised that we have now started talking about it, they are also showing signs of concern to try to give us some support. As we speak, even reagents to continue testing for the bird flu, gloves and other things at the laboratories are difficult to come by and those who go on the farm to test these birds do not have protective gears to use. Mr Speaker, at this point, I would want to thank you for the opportunity and also thank Hon Members for their contribution.
Thank you very much. Minority Leader and then the Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I had really wanted to talk to a few of the issues contained in the Report, but given where we are, it is past 2.00 o'clock, and I have already articulated some of the matters in the earlier interventions that I made. So, I am not too sure whether I should continue. Maybe, we would all take a cue and move on. Thank you.
Mr Speaker, taking a cue from my Hon Colleague, time is not on our side and Hon Members have expressed their views on this Report. I think it is worth supporting, particularly in this era when there is an emergency at hand. We should all do our best to get this avian influenza out of the system. Mr Speaker, the Hon Deputy Ministers have already summed up, and to say the least, Hon Members have all made their points known. On that basis, I think I would urge all Hon Members to support this Report and urge that if the Committee on Finance is tasked to do any work on this, they should do it as quickly as possible, for us to get to some closure on this matter. Thank you.
Hon Members, I would put the Question. Question put and Motion agreed to.
If I may just add, with humble regard to the sentiments that were expressed by very senior Members on the Finance Committee, I think this Committee would do well to supply all the information within the shortest possible time, so that the Finance Committee would feel embolden to take the necessary steps. Before we come to the next item, there is just a small issue I would want to raise with the Leadership. If you look at paragraph two of the Report that we have just approved, the referral: “In considering the referral, the Committee made reference to the following documents: i. The 1992 Constitution of Ghana; ii. The Standing Orders of the Parliament of Ghana.” But when you look at the Report itself, there are a lot of other very specialised information that might have come from other reports. For example, if I may just take page six, there is a summary of the Emergency Plan and funding budgetary requirement. The Committee might have considered that emergency plan and extracted a summary on it, so why is it the case that in our Parliament, we seem to just have a standard form which is to refer to the 1992 Constitution and the Standing Orders and that is all. The Committees do not have the habit of clearly outlining all the matters or documents that they referred to. I am convinced that they referred to much more than these. All these information was not just from what people said. They had it from reports and there are various scientific reports among others. Hon Minority Leader, why is that the case and why do we not state these things in our reports?
Mr Speaker, it looks like the Chairpersons and the Clerks usually have a regular template that they consult [Laughter.]
It is otherwise known as “Cut and Paste”. [Laughter.]
Mr Speaker, so that is what they do. I remember when we first came, I introduced some innovation and all of a sudden that became the standard. That was way back in 1997 or 1998. There should be greater innovation and certainly, as you said, even though they derive their power from the Constitution and our Standing Orders,
Hon Minority Leader, maybe, the Leadership should look at some form of advice, instructions and directions so that we all -- It seems to me that what you did in 1996 has now become standard. The nature of Messi of Argentina's fame, - he has many styles. So, I hope that you and the Leadership would -- [Interruption] -- I think it is very important. I think the Committees should not just say we refer to the Constitution and the Standing Orders; all the documents that you referred to should be stated there and that is very important. I see very powerful Committee Chairmen and Ranking Members here who are nodding their heads so, I am sure that one Committee would surprise us very soon and we are looking forward to that day. Anyway, Hon Agbesi, what do we do? What is the next item that we consider?
Mr Speaker, before we get to the commencement of Public Business, the Votes and Proceedings for Wednesday 15th July, 2015 was not ready and so we did not consider it. Mr Speaker, could we take the Votes and Proceedings for 15th July, 2015 now? Hon Members have copies.
VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS AND THE OFFICIAL REPORT
Hon Members, correction of the Votes and Proceedings for Wednesday, 15th July, 2015. Pages 1, 2, 3, 4…..43 -- Yes?
Mr Speaker, when you look at page 43, the Committee of the Whole, the way it has been captured, Hon Nii Lantey Vanderpuye has been captured as Member of Parliament and Deputy Minister for Local Government and Rural Development and it is the same thing for Hon Emmanuel K. Agyekum. I think that they are Members of Parliament. So, they should not have been captured under ‘In Attendance'. Otherwise, they would have to list all of us who attended and those who did not. I do not know whether it is a style of recording, but I think that they should not have been captured as being “In Attendance.” They were also here by virtue of being Members of Parliament and -- [Interruption] -- Yes, I am saying so because all of us were “In Attendance.” That is why I ask why they were singled out, even though they are also Members of Parliament.
Mr Speaker, I would just refer the Hon Member to the minutes of previous Committee meetings. Where a Member of Parliament is not a Member of the Committee, but is “in attendance”, he is recorded as such. Where an Hon Minister doing Business with the Committee attends the Committee in the capacity as a Minister, he is recorded as being “in attendance.” When we meet as a Committee of the Whole, it is presumed that Hon Members present are stated in item (2) of the Votes and Proceedings as the Members present at that particular Committee meeting. So, I believe that the record of the Committee of the Whole as reported on pages 43 and 44 is in conformity with the way Committee meetings are reported on in the Votes and Proceedings unless, of course, the Hon Member may want to suggest that there ought to be a better way.
Mr Speaker, page 42 talks about Committee on Government Assurances. In the case of the Committee of the Whole, we do not list everybody but it is assumed that all Members of Parliament attended. That is why we do not do -- [Interruption] -- Yes, I am still asking why should they, as Members of Parliament, be listed as having been “in attendance”?
Mr Speaker, usually at Committee meetings, where you have the records, it would make a distinction between Members attending. So, we would have an “attendance list.” The “attendance list” in the case of the Committee of the Whole, is presumed to be those of them who were present in the Chamber and who have been listed as having attended to the Business of Parliament. Mr Speaker, I beg to quote; “The following Hon Members were present...” As captured from pages 1 - 6. That list is there. Mr Speaker, when the Hon Member for Wa West started, I thought he was going to suggest to us that, given the paucity of numbers in the Chamber at the Committee of the Whole, perhaps, it was not reflective of the number that really attended. If he was not going to make that point, then maybe, what, perhaps, he should seek is to have a place for attendance and then the list of Hon Members present in the Chamber. Maybe something like that would put it beyond doubt. Mr Speaker, but for “in attendance”, usually, if the person is an Hon Member and additionally he is an Hon Minister or Hon Deputy Minister, for purposes of appearing to assist the Committee, they would be listed as having been in attendance.
So, this is very simple for me. I am not going to rule on who is right; we would follow the convention.
Hon Yieleh Chireh, you want to respond at 2.24 p.m; you want to engage in a verbal ping- pong, like in table tennis; when he speaks, then you speak. Hon Member, speak for the last time.
Mr Speaker, it is because he was putting words in my mouth. I did not question the number of people who attended the Committee of the Whole.
He said that he thought that was where you would go.
Mr Speaker, that was his thought and not mine. He thinking for me is my problem. [Laughter.] Thank you, Mr Speaker.
I am strongly of the view that the way it has been recorded is correct. If you even look at page 39 of the Votes and Proceedings, for example, Hon Dr Ahmed Yakubu Alhassan, for instance, who appeared before the Public Accounts Committee is an Hon Member of this House, but he has been recorded as one in attendance. This is because when an Hon Minister is called to a Committee sitting and he appears in his capacity as an Hon Minister, he is attends upon the Committee. That is why when Hon Ministers come to answer Questions, we say thank you for attending upon the House. This is because, even if he is an Hon Member, once we have called him to answer a Question, then he is in attendance even at plenary. So, we say “thank you for attending upon this House, then he goes to take his seat”. Hon Members, on that note, thank you very much.
[No correction was made to the Votes and Proceedings of Wednesday, 15th July, 2015]
Hon Deputy Majority Leader, as you indicated, we are about to close. Are we not?
Mr Speaker, we can go back to item number 11 on the Order Paper.
Item number 11 is a Motion.
Mr Speaker, it is a procedural Motion.
Item 11 -- Hon Chairman of the Committee.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that notwithstanding the provisions of Standing Order 80 (1) which require that no Motion shall be debated until at least forty-eight hours have elapsed between the date on which notice of the Motion is given, and the date on which the Motion is moved, the Motion for the adoption of the Report of the Committee on Mines and Energy on the Emergency Power Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Ghana and Aksa Enerji Üretim Aş (AKSA) for the provision on a Fast-Track Basis, up to 370 MW (ISO) Installed Capacity of Power Delivery Services may be moved today.
Hon Ranking Member?
Mr Speaker, I rise to second the Motion. Question put and Motion agreed to. Resolve accordingly. Government of Ghana (GoG)/ Aksa Enerji Üretim As (AKSA) Emergency Power Agreement
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that this Honourable House adopts the Report of the Committee on Mines and Energy on the Emergency Power Agreement between the Govern- ment of the Republic of Ghana and Aksa Enerji Üretim Aş (AKSA), for the provision on a Fast-Track Basis, up to 370MW (ISO) Installed Capacity of Power Delivery Services. Mr Speaker, in doing so I beg to present your Committee's Report. Introduction The Emergency Power Agreement between the Government of Ghana, represented by the Ministry of Power and Aksa Enerji Uretim As (AKSA),for the provision on fast-track basis, up to 370 MW (ISO) installed capacity of power delivery services was laid in Parliament on the 23rd of June, 2015 by the Hon Minister for Power, Dr Kwabena Donkor in accordance with article 181 of the 1992 Constitution. The Emergency Power Agreement was subsequently referred by Mr Speaker to the Committee on Mines and Energy for consideration and report, pursuant to Order 188 of the Standing Orders of the House. Deliberations The Committee met with the Hon Minister for Power, Dr Kwabena Donkor and officials of the Ministry to consider the Power Agreement. Officials of the Electricity Company of Ghana were also in attendance to assist the Committee in its deliberations. The Committee is grateful to the Hon Minister, and the officials for their attendance and for providing clarifications on issues raised at the meeting. Reference Documents The Committee was guided by the following documents during deliberations on the Agreement: i. The 1992 Constitution; ii. The Standing Orders of Parlia- ment; iii. The Public Utilities Regulatory Commission Act, 1997 (Act 538); and iv. The Environmental Protection Agency Act, 1994 (Act 490). Background Information In 1965 when the Akosombo Dam was completed, Ghana's peak demand was at
Hon Chairman of the Committee, just for clarification. On paragraph 11.4 -- Dispute Resolution, the last line: “Failing this, a party is entitled to refer the matter to arbitration.” But what arbitration?Which form of arbitration?
Mr Speaker, it is a typographical mistake.
No, I am not asking about the “entitled”. It is stated that: “Failing this, the party is entitled…” We have corrected that “… to refer the matter to arbitration.” What form of arbitration is it? You did not indicate.
Mr Speaker, what we intended was that after the dispute settlement, if they are not able to reach agreement, they are entitled to send it to court.
Is it for arbitration?
Yes, Mr Speaker.
Which court? I am sure that we would come back. Any other Member of the Committee could help because it would be useful. There are various forms of arbitration. Hon Yaw Afful? Question proposed.
Mr Speaker, I am opposed to the Motion under consideration in its current form. Mr Speaker, my main reason to this opposition is that, the company that we would be dealing with, if you look at the Report, the only thing we have been told about this company is just about six lines. And it just talked about the principal address and what they do. Mr Speaker, since we have an Embassy in Turkey, I expected that the Committee would provide us with the due diligence report about this particular company. We do not know the track record of this company. We do not know anything beside the six lines provided in this Report. So, Mr Speaker, based on this reason alone, I believe we should reject this Report, at least, in this current form. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Thank you very much.
Mr Speaker, you asked about that clause on arbitration. In the contract, at pages 42 to 44, there is a reference to it. They just did not complete it entirely --
And what form of arbitration is there?
They mentioned it and said, “Arbitration”. A whole section in the following manner; it is a long thing -- [Interruption.]
Mr Speaker, it is London Court of International Arbitration.
There are various forms of international arbitration. So, when you do your Report, as Hon Agbesi would tell you, there are various forms. There is even arbitration in Ghana by Commercial Court, London, United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL), Paris, et cetera. So, when you do your report on arbitration you have to indicate the form of arbitration, it helps us a lot.
Mr Speaker, thank you very much for the opportunity to add my voice to the Motion. Mr Speaker,if you take the Report, it is about an emergency power plant fast track. Unfortunately, we have not been told in the Report the time frame within which the contractor would be doing installation. There is the duration within which they are going to operate, but there is no time frame within which they would put in the system to start running. This is because every Ghanaian is waiting for the time that dumsor would come to an end. Mr Speaker, secondly, it talks about local content; that when it comes to this contract in particular, there is no special provision made for how Ghanaian locals could participate. If you look at the Report, it talks about the Hon Minister trying to negotiate or have a discussion for the possibility of offering the contract to a Ghanaian entity to supply fuel requirement for the running of the plant. Mr Speaker, I believe that, next time, when they are looking at such contracts, they should ensure and insist that local Ghanaians could participate in such mega deals in this country. Mr Speaker, lastly, if you take the pricing, which is on page 5, one would realise that from 2007 to 2015, Asogli I is charging 3.9700; Asogli II is charging 4.4386, Cenit-- 4.0506; Cenpower -- 5.0440 US Cents per kilowatts (kWh). But if you look at the plant capacity, and how much they would deliver to this country, one would realise that instead of getting
a reduced price, as we buy more, we are virtually seen to be paying more as we buy more. I believe that, for economies of scale, it does not really make full sense, though I appreciate that, the fuel they might be using would be different. We also know that, the cost of fuel these days has gone down drastically and it is very important that the Hon Ministers, in negotiating such deals, should make sure that Ghanaians get value for money. Mr Speaker, with these few words, I believe that we need the power plant and we need to support it.
Mr Speaker, my Hon Colleague mentioned economies of scale, and I think we should understand the meaning of economies of scale. It is not necessarily the output. At the beginning, if the output is large, then it is economies of scales. It is when the fixed cost is being recovered over a period of time, with increase in production, so what we have left is variable cost and as a result the price falls. That is what we mean. Mr Speaker, this company is coming in with 370 megawatts. We look at the total capacity charged and based on that, we say that because of economies of scale, it should be low. No! At the beginning, probably, with time, that is it; but if we look at the range, it is within the range. CENIT takes about 5, and they are taking about 4.5. We considered all those things. Mr Speaker, secondly, I am happy that my senior Colleague mentioned that before we started to discuss this Report that was given to us, every Hon Member had the Contract Agreement, and I believe that, we cannot go and quote everything in the Report that is in the Contract Agreement. In that case, we would be producing another voluminous report. So, when it is being laid, I expect that Hon Members would have gone through the Contract Agreement and then we would be able to add up one or two things. On this note, I thank you very much, Mr Speaker.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, for this opportunity. I would start from a point raised by my Hon Colleague who spoke last. What he said may well be true but that is why we have committees. We cannot deal with matters in detail; other than that, there would not be any point to refer a matter to a Committee. So, it is important for a Committee, after having done its work, to report comprehensively on the matter to the House in plenary. Mr Speaker, I would just refer the House to Standing Orders 112 and 212 (2) and with your kind permission, I would beg to read Order 212(3): “The minutes of the proceedings of a Committee shall whenever possible be brought up and laid on the Table of the House with the report of the Committee by the Chairman or Vice Chairman or any Member of the Committee nominated by the Committee.” Mr Speaker, that is the purpose because we cannot bring everything in the Report. The discussions that take place in Committees are also to be laid as minutes, whenever necessary. This has never been done in this House. Probably, now we should be doing it. This is because, if we look at this Report, really what does it tell us? An Hon Member has referred to the paucity of paragraph 5.2, appearing on page 3. We are talking about Emergency Fast- Track Power Plant and this House should be satisfied that the company with whom the Government has entered into an agreement has the ability to deliver. What does it tell us? Nothing. It could well be a company that was set up a week ago, it could well be a special purpose vehicle. We do not know those who are involved. Mr Speaker, we have had occasions when even after visits by some Hon Members of Committee to places where companies are purported to have delivered, come to report to this House, and convinced this House and later realised that the company has woefully failed to deliver -- STX -- is a typical example. So, it is important. I know that, there are some Hon Members present here at the moment, who visited -- was it South Korea? I would say that if we talk about fast-track, it is fast track, so presumably we did not go through the regular procurement processes, expression of interests et cetera. So, certainly some work must have been done and this House ought to know, and it must appear as part of the record. And the way some of these matters are being dealt with in the House, they do not help the House to arrive at a decision. Not because we do not support whatever is being laid before the House, but because we do not have the requisite information. So, to some Hon Members, they may have satisfied themselves that this company has a fantastic track record, that it is the equivalent of the Volta River Authority (VRA) in Turkey and other parts of Europe. But we do not know because the Report does not disclose it. And before some of us take a decision, we would require that these matters be Is that all there is? If that is all, then let the Report say so. But the Report does not say so. I would not want to say, but if the Report says so, then I am prepared to sit done for the Hon Chairman, who is now submitting his first Report as Hon Chairman of this Committee, to refer the particular portion of the Report that says so. There is nothing like that.
On a point order. Mr Speaker, I rise to refer to paragraph 11.7 which addresses the concern that my Hon Colleague has raised. Mr Speaker, paragraph 11.7. reads: “The Committee noted that the Emergency Power Agreement makes provision to ensure that AKSA delivers the much needed power as envisaged under the Agreement.” So, his concern is actually in the Agreement. It is taken care of in the Agreement.
Mr Speaker, probably, the Hon Deputy Majority Leader, who is my classmate is satisfied with what is here. But in my view, and I am sure many other Hon Members of this House, this is not so satisfactory. In which part of the Agreement? And what convinces them?
Mr Speaker, I just noticed that if we look at Standing Order 109, probably, we may not have enough numbers to take a decision on this matter to continue with the debate. But this is such an important matter and these issues must be comprehensively addressed. I am sure other Hon Members may raise other issues. I know the Hon Member for Old Tafo would want to contribute, and if the Hon Chairman could hold his horses and wait to listen to all Hon Members who want to contribute, before he attempts to respond to the issues raised. I thank you, Mr Speaker.
Hon Chairman --
I am even surprised but I would not express the reason for my surprise. Hon Akoto Osei?
Thank you, Mr Speaker. I think the Hon Chairman should listen to my senior Hon Colleague very carefully. This is a very important matter and we need to do as much due diligence, as possible so, that it is not rejected. He has made reference to Standing Order 109 and also the Constitution. To take a decision, we must have, at least, half of the Hon Members. So, let us work with that thing in mind so that certain things can be cleared, and we would see our way through to support this. My other Hon Colleague has already made reference to the paucity of information on the company. If you read paragraph 5.2, you would not know anything about the company. I think we can do better than that. I do not know them, but all they have said about them is where they are located and how much work they have done in the past. That is not sufficient information to decide on. Mr Speaker, I would dwell on the financing. In my view that is my worry. Unfortunately, all that we are told in paragraph 11.5 is the Letter of Credit (L.C.) that needs to be issued for only three (3) months. That is all we are told. It cannot be that, that is all the cost that there is to it. So, we should not let anybody have in mind that once we issue an L.C. for three months we are finished. What is the true cost? By the time we finish in 5 years, how much is it going to cost us? If you go back to the original document, we are told that -- With your permission, I beg to quote: “… requires that a standby Letter of Credit (LC) for three months of capacity, fuel and variable pay- ments should be provided as payment guarantee.” It is a condition precedent. So, after three months, what happens? How much is Government going to pay? Mr Speaker, what I find distressful is that, this has serious fiscal implications and none of the people concerned about fiscal issues is even here. This memorandum was written by the Hon Minister for Power -- He is not in Finance, please, he is in Trade. You would notice, coincidentally, that the two Hon Ministers for Finance; the Hon Minister and his Deputy are not here -- [Interruption] -- No, the two Deputies who were here today. May be it is coincidence, but I do not believe it is coincidence -- It came, you are from the Ministry of Power but an L.C. needs to be issued and the only person that can issue an L.C. for Ghana is not the Hon Minister for Power; that is our fiscal rules. So, when I raised the question; after three months, what is the cost? In fact, it is likely to be more; he know it. That is the information that is here, nobody has provided anything else. Now, this is a financial question. This is not a power issue. He should tell me how much it would cost us in five years. It is not here. So, how could we approve an Emergency Power Agreement?
I have recognised the Hon Minister for Power.
Mr Speaker, for the sake of clarity, I would want the House to understand that, unlike the Africa and Middle East Resources Investment (AMERI) Energy Agreement we brought here, this is a pure power purchase. We are only buying energy and the approximate cost of the power we would be paying, just like the existing Independent Power Producer (IPP), Sunon-Asogli Power Limited. No one asked how much Sunon-Asogli cost, and no one asked how much CENIT Energy Limited cost. Here, our concern is only the power, and the approximate estimate is that, for over three months period, the power would cost about a US$104 million. It is still an estimate because fuel is passed through and fuel prices might vary from day to day. So, the standby L.C. is just to ensure that when the power is produced, Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG), under the contract would pay for the power. Should they not pay for the power, they could then fall on the standby L.C. The standby L.C. is not the first call on payment. I just thought I should bring that to the notice of the House.
Mr Speaker, I could have been spared this detail. I understand that very well. But I would want to ask him, by the time they finish with five years, how much would it cost us? He says we cannot care about CENIT. How could he say that. Does he mean Parliament should approve for the payment of something and not ask how much we are going to pay for it? Is that what he is telling us? We care about how much CENIT would cost us because ECG is owned by the people of Ghana. We have to know how much ECG is going to pay and so to make a statement as if the person who has asked the question is wrong. It cannot be. Somebody ought to ask the question. He would have his chance to contribute and he should contribute at that point. If he would respond all the time, he would not follow my discussion. I care about how much it would cost us. If he does not care, I do, and that is not here. Mr Speaker, I said coincidentally, the Ministry of Finance is going to issue an L.C. They are not here. This has fiscal implication on the Budget. I did a simple extrapolation and I said it is about US$2 billion. So, when I go to my constituency and the people of Ghana ask me, today,
you approved of such Agreement, what is the cost to Ghana? The minimum I am going to tell them is, at least, US$2 billion. And he says I should not care to know? How could he tell me that? Capacity, fuel and viable payment of US$104.47 million is what it would cost for three months. And so what happens after three months? We should know. No information is here, neither is it in the contract nor in the Report. So, he has asked the people's representatives to just approve an Agreement and he want us to say we do not care? I cannot do that. I cannot go to my people and tell them that, and I am sure he would not want to do that. It is not provided here and we need to know. This is because, until we know the full cost, we would not know whether we are getting value for money. The Report does not say anything about it and we are comparing it to AMERI. We cannot compare it to the AMERI, because they are not the same. AMERI is a Build, Own, Operate and Transfer (BOOT). Is it not? But we are dealing with AKSA. First of all, we do not even know who they are since the Committee Report does not talk about it. Then if I ask how much it would cost us, nobody could tell me anything about it. They said, it is because we did not ask how much it cost for CENIT. Please, let us take ourselves serious. We need to know the total cost before --
On a point of order. Mr Speaker, normally, when the Hon Ranking Member is making his contribution, it kind of become some functus officio. But there is a matter that is troubling me, and that is, in the end, this contribution reflects on the membership of the Committee and our contribution to it. What is it that we understood when we helped to prepare the Report, which eventually was laid here? I wonder if in the end, we would be loud to further explain what actuated our minds when we put that down. It is obvious some of these matters would all have been explained to us at the Committee level before we prepared our Report. It should not be taken that we did not understand this and we simply get involved in preparing the Report, that we did not put any thinking into. I thought we should really put this on record.
Mr Speaker, my Hon Colleague is a Ranking Member. I have not said anything that we did not think about. In fact, he is aware that, yesterday, I asked him, Hon Ranking Member, if I asked you what the total cost was, would you be able to tell me? So, I gave him the deference. It is not today but yesterday. When he got up, he told the Committee Members that he knew what I was going to talk about. How much more does he want me to do? I have given him the deference.
Mr Speaker, with respect, my argument is not that he has not given me the deference. He is absolutely right. Since yesterday, he has been concerned about this matter. But my concern is that, the way it is being approached, is giving the impression that - But if I am forced to, then that is why-- I said that, Mr Speaker, you should give us the opportunity, maybe, I would not want to go into the other discussion that we have had around this matter. That would not be fair. But I think that, if it become an issue of this much interest, then of course -- [Interruption] -- Yes, Papa Owusu- Ankomah, I understand that the Report is porous when it come to that aspect of it. But we should be able to explain it on the floor if it becomes necessary.
Mr Speaker, this is why I said that -- I hope the Hon Chairman was listening to my senior Colleague and myself. First, even though we have Standing Order 109, this debate provides the Committee an opportunity to fill the gaps. It is not to indict. It is to say that, when we are going to take such a gargantuan decision, it is in our interest to get as much information as possible. This Report does not give us that, and so, we are asking him to advert his mind to it. This is because, we cannot take the decision if we are not in the majority -- [Interruption] -- No, that is an important matter and it helps us when we get in the majority with more information to assist. Mr Speaker, I would want to be educated, when one says “an emergency” what are we talking about? Is an emergency for one year, three years or five years? What do we mean by emergency? This is because medium term cannot be an emergency. Three to five years is medium term.
On a point of order. Mr Speaker, I do not actually understand my Hon Colleague's point, whether he is in support of this Motion or against it. A lot of concerns have been raised about this Report. I would want the Hon Chairman of the Committee to tell us whether there is the need for us to take a second look at the Report, to give sufficient information to my Hon Colleagues who are making the point.
Mr Speaker, it is very dangerous when we are deliberating on a Motion to begin to question the patriotism of somebody. He cannot get- up and ask whether --[Interruption.] Mr Speaker, it is important. We would want to make informed decisions so, the Hon Deputy Majority Leader should not get up to ask whether I am for or against it.
On a point of order. Mr Speaker, I would want the House to clarify the differences between a standby L.C. and an L.C. This is because the two instruments are being --
What do you want the House to do?
Mr Speaker, further to this, the total cost for the asset which is being questioned. I would like to raise a question, when one wants to rent a car, does one care the total cost? Does he care about the total cost of the car or the rental charge to pay and make a decision?
Mr Speaker, I know why the Committee Members are so jittery. The reason is that, we would want to be informed. Maybe, he has more information than I do. Mr Speaker, he raised the matter of standby L.C. and L.C, I know the difference. You and I know that the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) is financially bankrupt. In fact, the reason --
Hon Minister for Power?
Is it a point of order?
On a point of order Mr Speaker. When the Hon Member gets up to say that the ECG is financially bankrupt, it is a dangerous statement and that the ECG must not even exist today. If he says it is financially bankrupt--ECG may have its own cash flow challenges, but to say that they are financially bankrupt, I would kindly ask that, the Hon Member be made to rephrase.
I believe that my Hon Colleague has not read the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Report. In fact, the object of the MCC is to make the ECG and Northern Electricity Distribution Company (NECO) finally viable. What does that mean? What does financial viability mean? He should tell me. Please, let us not be -- He should go and read the MCC Report.
It is not.
Please the object of the MCC is to make the ECG and NECO financially viable. He should tell me what that means. Please, it is not viable now as it is [Interruption.]
Mr Speaker --
That does not mean it is bankrupt.
Mr Speaker, this House is a House of debate and I do not know whether you called me or him, but he just got up and started speaking. What is this? We are talking about a Report that he wants us to take a decision on. I said he should go and read the MCC document. The object of it is simply to make ECG financially viable. Now he should tell me what financial viability means, in his own terms.
Hon Akoto Osei, if somebody is not financially viable, does it necessarily mean that the person is financially bankrupt? If you want to make somebody financially viable, does it necessarily mean that the person is in a state of financial bankruptcy?
Mr Speaker, I am over exaggerating in that sense, so we know what we are doing --
But the important thing is that --
That is why I went back to use financial viability in the language of the MCC.
Yes, so what you said that the ECG was financially bankrupt is wrong.
It is not wrong.
Is it right?
It is my interpretation of it.
You cannot -- Hon Akoto Osei, financial bankruptcy for a State institution is a very serious matter. You are a very experienced man on finance, and a former Minister of State and the Ranking Member of the Finance Committee. If you say it was to improve his financial viability or to make it financially viable, if you use the words of the Report, I would not argue with you. But if you want to say they want to make it financially viable, it means that it is financially bankrupt -- If it was being said by some other Hon Member of Parliament who, perhaps, does not have experience in finance and your expertise, I can let it pass, but with you, I think that, maybe, the financial bankruptcy part, you would withdraw it and concentrate on financial viability.
If Mr Speaker, wants me to withdraw, I withdraw.
Mr Speaker, but I repeat that the object of the MCC is to make ECG financially viable, which implies it is not viable now. So, the question is, where are they going to find the money to do -- [Interruption.] Mr Speaker, I do not know why the Chairman is so jittery. Mr Speaker has made me to withdraw -- [Interruption] -- He is jittery. I have withdrawn but I am saying that let us deal with the facts. What is implied here is that -- We need to ask, where is ECG going to find the money for such an enterprise? Do not forget ECG has signed several Emergency Power Agreements (EPAs). We know that part of the MCC conditions is that, Government must pay what it owes ECG. We do not even know how much it is. Mr Speaker, the question is, is ECG in the position to fulfill the financial conditions? If not, the recourse would have to be on Government. Is Government in the position to do that? We need to get the answers and this is why I said that, it would have been important for the finance people to give us that assurance. This is because the guarantees would fall and Ministry of Finance would have to deliver. They are not even here to respond to those issues. Mr Speaker, with respect, I think this is a very important decision. If you look at Standing Order 109, we certainly do not have half of the House here. Perhaps, I would want to plead with the Chairman and the Hon Minister for Power to go and find additional information, so that they could convince us and get the Ministry of Finance to come and give us assurances. This is because, certainly, for some of us, without those assurances, we would find it difficult even though we know it is an emergency. Thank you.
Hon Chairman, I think that, it is the sense of the House that you should be given the last bite of the cherry, because somebody might also raise something which, maybe, you may rise to respond. So, is there anybody on the Majority side who wants to contribute, apart from the Chairman? If not, then I would call Hon Isaac Osei. I would want the Chairman to continue, after him, then the Hon Minister --
Mr Speaker, I just have a small contribution. I have listened very carefully to what my Hon Colleague, the Hon Ranking Member for Finance said. There are many matters that he raised, one of which you rightly corrected him and I did not agree with it. However, there was an issue he raised which I think the Committee would do well to answer, and that really has to do with the elasticity of this emergency period. Whether the five years period that we are talking about would give us a sense of that emergency which requires a fast- track approach. I would perhaps, suggest, that during this period, if it can be shortened, fair enough, while we find a permanent solution to the situation. This is because, once we go beyond two years, then we would be moving into medium term and then the word “emergency” would lose its value. So, I would want the Committee to tell us a little more about why they are looking at a five year framework for an emergency situation which has to be fast tracked. That is what I would want to ask. A lot of the matters which the Hon Member talked about, I am quite sure that the Hon Minister and the Chairman are capable of addressing those issues.
Mr Speaker, I take a cue from the contributions even though we are in challenging periods because of the power and Hon Members would have had the interest that we pass it. But we take a cue from the fact that we should not hasten in such a way that in future, the numbers would be questioned. Mr Speaker, Standing Order 109 has been cited, so would I want to appeal to the Hon Member for Old Tafo, who has said that, judging from Standing Order 109, the Committee should go back. But I would want to appeal again that, the Committee should not go back. The Report has come and contributions have been made, but if we could suspend the putting of the Question until tomorrow, because we do not have the numbers.
Hon Minority Leader, we would like to defer the debate. We could either defer the debate or do the entire debate today and just defer the decision. But I think that was left with -- I was going to recognise only you, the Hon Chairman and then the Hon Minister. I was going to recognise three, at most four more members, but three was what I was going to recognise. Instead of us debating today so that tomorrow, we could take the decision, maybe we defer the debate so that tomorrow, the Hon Minority Leader, the Hon Ranking Member, the Hon Chairman and the Hon Minister would contribute. And from there, we could see our way clearly, if you have any objection to that.
Mr Speaker, I guess the purpose of some of the contributors has been to further enrich the Agreement, that is, if it is possible for the Hon Minister, to take some of the issues that have been raised on board for it to be further enriched, before maybe, the final approval. I guess that would sit well with this House. And if you would permit me, I would like to raise few issues for the consideration of the Hon Minister. If we do not have to -- I guess we may not have to put the Question, but maybe he would take it and further consider it. If it is possible to revisit the Agreement, perhaps, we could do so, because it seems to me that in its current form, it may not be the best for us. Which is why if you would permit, I may raise one or two issues with the Hon Minister, for him to take on board and then we could adjourn. If he would like to respond to some of them, he could. If it is necessary for him to take some of them on board too, he may see how to position those matters within the context of the consideration.
What we would do is that, we would recognise you, then after, we would give the Hon Minister the opportunity to respond, but that would be without prejudice to the right to speak tomorrow as well, because I believe that your contribution and his response would locate the discussion that may go on after we close, to ensure that tomorrow, we can make progress to resolve this problem of electricity shortage. So, Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I would like to begin from the conclusions of the Committee which provides that: “The Committee notes that the current power challenges confron- ting the country…” Why people have been shying away from the use of the word “crisis” I do not understand. We must admit that we are in a power crisis. Why this circumlocutuous admission that we are in a challenge? We are in a crisis. Mr Speaker, the important thing is, the Committee knows that the current power challenges confronting the country is having detrimental impact on the economy which requires urgent measures to fix it. It believes that the approval of the Power Agreement would boost ongoing efforts to end the power challenges within the shortest possible time, to bring relief to Ghanaians. Mr Speaker, that is at the heart of this Agreement. Certain issues then come up for consideration, one is the duration of the Emergency Power Agreement, that is bullet point 7 -- “The duration of the Emergency Power Agreement is five (5) years commencing on the date of full commercial operation of the plant.” This is the guaranteed period, five years, beginning on the date of the full commercial operation of the plant. Mr Speaker, what it means is that, not until they start rolling out the power, it is not operational, and it would not count, so if it should take about two years to begin this, the Agreement would be effective from that period. We are in 2015, so if it should take two years, then we are talking about 2017. Would we be in the crisis period requiring this? Mr Speaker, it is important to relate to this because in the 1980s, under the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC), a similar thing happened and they explored the same construction. At the time, they were able to deliver, the country was out of that regime and the Hon Minister, Dr Kwabena Donkor is aware of what I am saying. When they delivered, it was about three or four years after we had left that regime of shortages.
But the rest of us are not aware, so what are you talking about?
Mr Speaker, he knows what I am talking about.
But is it a secret between you and Dr Kwabena Donkor?
Mr Speaker, it is not a secret.
So say it.
It is not a secret. I do not have the name of the company here that is why I am not referring to it. But I am saying to you that, the Hon Minister knows what I am talking about. When they came to deliver, it was about three years after we had gotten out of the power crisis. So, if we have such a construction, a similar fate, I am not saying would befall us, but could befall us. So, it is something that we need to look at.
If we are in an emergency, then certainly, we need to have a roadmap as to when it is intended for them to begin operation, and that road map is lacking. And so, it is for the Hon Minister to address that. We are told again at paragraph 5.2, the matter related to by my Hon Colleague from Jaman, the Hon Yaw Afful, that Aksa Enerji Uretim As (AKSA), is a company incorporated in Turkey. When was it incorporated? We do not know. The company is in the business of providing fast track power generation equipment, that is relevant, but what is the track record of that company in the business that we have spoken about, what is the track record? We do not know and it is important that the Committee -- May be they know. If they do know, they should inform us, because that is what is going to inform us to vote for it. So, we are in a crisis, yes, we do accept that. We need to get out of this, but it should not be that we go for any company at all. I believe that the Committee may have access to perhaps, much more information on the operations of the company, and the company itself more than the rest of us. But it is important that they incorporate it into this, because this is what is going to inform us to vote in plenary. We do not have it. Mr Speaker, I have already spoken about the fact that we do not have a road map. At item 6, the project provides that the capacity -- The project involves the deployment of up to 22 units of the Wartsila Engine Generator set. Mr Speaker, we are told that the capacity of one unit is between 16 MW and 17.5 MW. That is the capacity of one. Initially, they are to install 14 units. The 14 is to deliver for us 220 MW. Mr Speaker, any arithmetic on this would indicate to us that, the 14 should deliver more than 220 MW, because they deliver between 16 MW and 17.5 MW. That should tell us that, if it is even 16 MW, the base level that they are delivering, installing 14 units should deliver to us more than the 220 MW that they are talking about. Mr Speaker, let me conclude that sentence so that the Hansard would capture it correctly. The Committee ought to have supplied us with greater details than they have done. The Hon Minister indicated to us that, it was for the country to do the purchasing of the power that would be generated. Hon Minister, that is what you told us. But there are some other involvements -- The cost of the fuel. Who pays for the cost of the fuel? “It is they”. That is what the Chairman tells us. What is in the Agreement? Hon Chairman, you said it was they. Immediately I asked you, you said they would be paying. You could read the Agreement. Mr Speaker, the Chairman should apply himself to the Agreement. The Agreement says in 8 (2) (1) of the Chairman's own Report that: “On its part, the Government of Ghana has agreed to undertake certain obligations under clause 4 of the Agreement. Some of these obligations are to: i) pay the monthly power delivery services as per the agreed formula specified in section 5 of the Power Agreement.” Mr Speaker, that is what is there. When you come to “Fuel Requirements” in 10.0 and the Report tells us that the cost of the fuel would be treated on a pass through basis, and hence, would be included in the monthly energy charge to be paid by the State.
I recognise the Hon Chairman.
Mr Speaker, I strongly -- I do not want to hear the word “by heart”. This is because I am an experienced Chairman and I have been in this House for a very long time. For the Hon Minority Leader to say that he does not want to say it, when he has said it, he must withdraw it. [Interruption.] I do not demand for an apology, because we are Hon Colleagues. But he should withdraw because I do not talk “by heart”. I talk based on points and based on facts. I strongly request that the Hon Minority Leader withdraws the word; “by heart”.
Mr Speaker, if the Hon Chairman was listening to me, I said that “I do not want to say that”.
But you said it. What did you not want to say? [Laughter.]
Mr Speaker, I said I did not want to say that he talks “by heart”. I did not want to say that.
This is a whimsical statement.
Mr Speaker, if I say that I do not want to kill a person, then have I killed him? [Laughter.] If I say that I do not want to say that a person talks by heart, then have I said that he talks by heart?
I believe that it is a tort law, when they say that “if it was not in the assizes, I would have done something to you”. The court then came to a conclusion that it is an assault. Hon K. T. Hammond, I believe that we learnt it in tort law, when somebody said that; if it was not the assizes, I would have done something to you, and they said that it amounted to assault -- The tort of assault.
Mr Speaker, I am sorry, but I did not get that.
I said that in the tort of assault, the person spoke in the negative. He says that; “if it was not for something, then I would have done something to you.
Tuber ville v Savage --
What did he say?
He said that; “if it were not assizes time, I would not take such language, language”. The court said it was a double negative. It is by Savage v Page. There are eighteen lawyers here, he is not one of them so --
I do not know whether in 2015, one can say that the Hon Minority Leader is also talking in the double negative. Or was his negative only one? [Laughter.]
Mr Speaker, I have not said that he talks by heart. But I have noticed that his body chemistry has changed, so I would want to restore him to the status quo. That being the case, and he being a former good Friend, I would withdraw that portion. [Interruption.] Mr Speaker, when I described him as a former good Friend, he says that it means that we are now enemies -- You see, it does not mean that. Perhaps it means that he has been lifted higher. He used to be a good Friend, but now he could be a very good Friend. [Laughter.] Do you see the negativity in his thinking?
So, it means that with the first one, you did not mean any harm.
You see? [Laughter.]
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minority Leader had used the word or the phrase; “talking by heart”. [Interrup- tion.] Mr Speaker, I wonder whether “talking by heart”, is a good English. What is the meaning of “talking by heart”? Could the Hon Minority Leader explain it?
Deputy Majority Leader, when somebody withdraws something, does it still form part of the records?
Mr Speaker, he has withdrawn it, but people are listening to us in this Parliament.
So, after he has withdrawn, what should he do again? It is not part of the records again.
Mr Speaker, the whole country has listened to it.
I agree. But he has withdrawn it. The whole country has listened to the withdrawal too.
They have listened to the withdrawal -- Yes, Mr Speaker, but the issue is that, he did not want to say it, but he said it. [Laughter.] So, what is the meaning of what he has said, for which he has withdrawn?
We should make progress, right? Hon Minority Leader, I think that we should make progress.
Mr Speaker, we would have to make progress because the Hon Deputy Majority Leader -- I know if he wants the proper rendition -- This is the Ghanaian rendition of the phrase; “by rote”. That is the correct rendition. But in the Ghanaian context, we say; “he learns by heart”, and “he talks by heart”. The proper rendition is; instead of “by heart”, “by rote”. Can I continue? For my tribunal Chairman? -- [Laughter.] Mr Speaker, the other matter that we may have to deal with -- I do not know whether the Hon Chairman effected correction with respect to paragraphs 11.2 and 11.4 in the Report. This is because they both deal with dispute resolution. [Interruptions.] -- All right. It has been done. Mr Speaker, the other matter relating to the assurance from the Ministry in respect of the local content and the Hon Minister, explaining that he was holding discussions with the contractors for the possibility of offering a contract to a Ghanaian to supply fuel requirement for the running of the plant --What if it is falsehood? It should be a necessary ingredient. The Chairman says it is a problem, so they should avail the information to us. It should not be behind the curtain discussion. If there is a problem, then we should know because, that would affect the decision that we take here. So, let us address some of these matters before we come to a final determination. I guess the Hon Chairman also did effect correction to 11.7. Hon Chairman, did you effect correction to 11.7? It is in respect of the twenty million United States dollars. I was not really -- So that is that. Finally, Mr Speaker, the involvement of the State, the US$1.47 million is something that we should also consider. I think that also has been repeated but we need to do that. But the cost of the involvement of Government of Ghana with respect to the standby Letters of Credit (LCs), I think we need to be also concerned about where we are taking the debt burden of this country. Certainly, we are in an emergency, we need to lift ourselves up, but these other issues that are coming up must be elaborated on by the Hon Minister so that we set our minds at ease before we continue. Mr Speaker, I thank you.
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity. A number of issues have been raised in the course of this debate and I would want to react to some of them and also explain appropriately. The question of how much it is going to cost us has been raised by more than one Hon Member of this House. In this Agreement, all that the State of Ghana would be purchasing is the energy produced and the cost of that energy produced has been covered by the tariff approved by PURC. Therefore, the cost is like any other electricity that we are currently enjoying. Indeed, the consumers would only pay for the power produced, therefore, the question of the standby L.C. is really the second line of payment under the contract. The Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) would pay for the power that it sells to consumers, so ordinarily, they would have a certain number of days to pay after they are billed. The standby L.C. is only a fall back position. If for any reason, the power has been consumed and ECG is unable to pay, it is only then that they would fall back on the standby L.C. So, the standby L.C. is not the primary form of payment and I believe this explanation should help.
On a point of order. Mr Speaker, I would want the Hon Minister for Power to expatiate on his “just a standby credit”. It means the standby would be on standby in perpetuity. So, how much money is Government to sequester to ensure that a bank raises this LC which is another cost? This is because every three months the standby L.C. should be valid because we do not know when something is going to happen that we are going to fall on that standby credit as he is explaining. So that standby should be valid at any time and if it is going to be valid at any time, then Government would have to pay some money to a financial institution to issue that standby so we become financially viable, should the call on be effected. How much is that going to cost us? That is something the Hon Minister would have to expatiate on.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. As long as both parties perform their obligations, the standby L.C. would still be three months, as long as we perform our obligations under the contract and Government believes that, all parties would perform their obligations. So, if there is a cost, it is the cost of the initial standby L.C. The question of five years and the definition of emergency power have been raised. Mr Speaker, ordinarily, a power plant would take between three to five years to construct to come to COD. Under this contract, we would reach COD in six months and that is what makes it fast- track. Ordinarily, power purchase agree- ments are 20/25 years; that is the duration of power purchase agreements. This is for five years and this is what again makes it an emergency, because a provider must have a certain minimum of years to, at least, break even and come up with a reasonable return on investment. So, for emergency power of this size, if you want a 20 megawatts generator, that you can have and even then, they may demand six to one year contract. But of this magnitude, you would need a reasonable period and the most reasonable period to negotiate was five years rather than the normal IPP of 25 years. I believe this goes to address the issues of emergency and duration. Mr Speaker, there is the question of the competence or the non-competence of the contractor; the track record of the contractor has been raised. Mr Speaker, AKSA is a major power provider in Turkey, currently generating far in excess of what we are contracting it to do. It is a growing concern because it is a recognised power supplier and if that issue did not appear in the Report, it was because, I believe the Report was not able to cover all --
Mr Speaker, I am on a point of order. Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister is taking us through what his understanding of “emergency power supply” is. In his explanation, he has been trying to suggest that, because of the magnitude of what is expected to be done, same cannot be done within six months or a year. And even so, the providers need some number of years to have a return on their investment. Mr Speaker, my question is, knowing this as the situation, would he continue to maintain his position that the power supply is an emergency under the circumstance?
Yes, Hon Minister?
It is not question time so just talk to the Hon Member.
The Hon Minister indicated that he wanted to allay the fears of Hon Members, with regard to certain concerns that they may have. I believe that, even though Hon Afenyo-Markin descibed it as a question, he wanted the Hon Minister to take the comment on board and respond, while he is briefing us and encouraging us to adopt the Report. So, the Hon Minister, should take it in that light and proceed, please.
Mr Speaker, the word “emergency” would have different connotations in different fields and under different circumstances. In the power sector, a power plant will ordinarily take between three to five years to construct; to come to COD. So, if we are doing it under six months, it is fast- track. We are adopting the fast-track approach because we have power supply challenges. Therefore, we see this as an emergency power arrangement to arrest the situation. Let me also address the question of cost of fuel. In the nature of the tariff grilled up, there is what is called total capacity charge and then there is variable operations and maintenance cost. The Variable “O” and “M” are made up predominantly of fuel. By our tariff administration regime, PURC determines on the basis of plants -- What the fuel price and the heat rate should be at any one time. So, in our terminology, we say fuel is passed through. If two plants are using the same type of fuel, then it does not matter the size of the plant, the same cost of fuel as calculated by PURC, is paid to the contractor. That is why normally, unless there is an exceptional reason for that, fuel is just treated as pass through. Mr Speaker, the question of whether under local content, the fuel could not have been provided by an indigenous source, I would say that in our negotiations, that possibility was recognised. However, there are two issues. The contractor would want to be sure that whatever fuel is supplied is according to his specification and that they have control over the supply chain, because their non-delivery has contractual obligation. There are penalties involved. There is also a second issue. Ordinarily, we believe the most capable institution to have even been brought in would have been GNPC. But currently, there is a case in the Supreme Court arising out of a supply of fuel by GNPC. Therefore, until that determination is made, it is tricky to again bring GNPC into a fuel supply agreement at this time. In terms of other components of local content, Ghanaian technicians would be employed. This is because, it makes business sense to employ as much of Ghanaian labour as possible. The Ministry of Power would ensure that a number of ancillary services move to Ghanaian companies or persons. Mr Speaker, page 29 of the contract also clearly States the obligations of the Ghanaian State. This is contained on page 29 of the contract. In terms of the cost; how much it is going to cost, we cannot determine how much energy we would consumes. What we can determine is the capacity of the facility to produce.
Thank you. I would defer the decision till tomorrow, based on the advice of Leadership. This is a Motion. We have already taken the Resolution.
Mr Speaker, as the Hon Deputy Majority Whip indicated, even to take the decision, we are challenged by the numbers that we have in the Chamber and as I said, if some further information is required, the Hon Minister could supply to us tomorrow and then we can take it from there.
Mr Speaker, I agree totally with what the Hon Minority Leader has said. The time is about 4.00 p.m. and the House is in your hand.
Hon Members, I would adjourn proceedings.