Hon Members, Correctionof Votes and Proceedings and the OfficialReport. [No correction was made to the Votesand Proceedings of Wednesday, 27th July,2016.] [No correction was made to theOfficial Report of Monday, 18th July,20016.]
Hon Members, at theCommencement of Public Business. Deputy Majority Leader (Mr AlfredK. Agbesi): Mr Speaker, at theCommence-ment of Public Business —Presentation of Papers, item numbered 4on the Order Paper. We shall lay Paperswhich are ready, for now, and they areitems 4 (a) (i), (ii) and (iii). Mr Speaker, the rest are not yet ready.We shall lay them as we proceed.
What about itemnumbered 4 (d) (i) and (ii)?
Mr Speaker, I am informedthat they are not yet ready to be laid.
Where is the Chairmanof the Committee on Food, Agriculture andCocoa Affairs?
Mr Speaker, he is not yetin the Chamber.
Where is the RankingMember? Is the Ranking Member too notaround? Very well. Hon Members, Presentation of Papers— item numbered 4 on the Order Paper —Item numbered 4 (a) (i) by the Ministerfor Finance.
Mr Speaker, with yourpermission, if the Hon Deputy Ministerfor Finance could lay the Paper on behalfof the Hon Minister.
Very well. Item numbered 4 (a)(i) by the HonDeputy Minister for Finance, on behalf ofthe Hon Minister for Finance.
Mr Speaker, with thegreatest respect, I have just been informedthat item numbered 4 (c) (i) and (ii) arenow ready to be laid.
Very well. Hon Members, item numbered 4 (c) (i)by the Chairman of the FinanceCommittee. By the Chairman of the Committee -- (i) Report of the Finance Committeeon the Loan Agreement betweenthe Government of the Republicof Ghana and the AfricanDevelopment Fund (ADF) for anamount not exceeding theequivalent of thirty-five millionUnits of Accounts (UA35,000,000[equivalent to US$49.00 million] tosupport the Public Financial Management and Private SectorCompetitiveness Support Programme-- Phase II (PFMPSCSP). (ii) Report of the Finance Committeeon the Financing Agreementbetween the Government of theRepublic of Ghana and theInternational DevelopmentAssociation (IDA) for an amountequivalent to ten million, eighthundred thousand SpecialDrawing Rights (SDR 10,800,000)[US$15.00 million equivalent] tofinance the Economic Manag-ement Strengthening Project.
Any other Paper to belaid?
Mr Speaker, I am informedthat item numbered 4 (b) --
I have not seen thatPaper, so, in view of the issues that havecropped up on the floor of the House inrecent times, I have just instructed theClerk to Parliament that I would want tosee a copy, and that he would keep a copybefore instruments of any nature are laidin this House -- I have not seen it. If you give me a copy now, I wouldgive it to the Clerk to Parliament to keepit, then that would pave way for laying ofthe Paper; I so direct.
Thank you. Mr Speaker, we can take item numbered25 on page 29 of the Order Paper -- PublicFinancial Management Bill, 2016, at theConsideration Stage.
Hon Members, the PublicFinancial Management Bill, 2016 at theConsideration Stage -- [Pause.]
BILLS -- CONSIDERATIONSTAGE
Mr Speaker,I beg to move, clause 4, subclause (2),paragraph (d), line 2, delete “financial”. So, it would read “other contingentliabilities” and not “contingent financialliabilities.” Mr Speaker, this is to bring therendition out clearer. The responsibilityof the Minister is to ensure and manageGovernment property and that alsoincludes “contingent liability.” Question put and amendment agreedto.
Mr Speaker,the word “financial” appears in line 3 andnot in line 2.
Yes, Chairman of theCommittee?
Mr Speaker, we are goingto have a number of these issues in thisparticular Bill because the Committeeworked with the foolscap copy of the Bill.So, now that the Bill has been broughtand the line positioning has changed, itwould not look as if --
The principle is the same.
Mr Speaker, itis the same.
It is a question whetherthe word “financial” is in line 1 or 3, andwhether it is the one before “liabilities” orthe one before “assets”. So, you wouldneed to pay attention to your amendmentvis a vis the Bill that we have before us. Hon Chairman of the Committee, is“financial” in line 2 or 3, for the sake ofthe records?
Mr Speaker, it is in line 3.
Very well. Question put and amendment agreedto.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move,clause 4, Add the following newparagraphs: “(h) prepare Fiscal StrategyDocument; (i) manage public funds; (j) coordinate, mobilise resourcesincluding financial assistancefrom development partners andintegrate the resources into theplanning, budgeting, reportingand accountability processesprovided under this Act; (k) provide policy framework forconducting banking andmanagement of cash for acovered entity; (l) issue directives and instructionsnecessary for the effectiveimplementation of this Act to thehead of a covered entity, aPrincipal Account Holder andPrincipal Spending Officer of acovered entity.”
Yes, Mr Speaker, if you readclause 4 (l), and with your permission, Ibeg to quote: “issue directives and instructionsnecessary for the effectiveimplementation of this Act to thehead of a covered entity…”
Hon Member, you aretalking about implementation, but it mustbe consistent with this Act or any otherenactments.
Mr Speaker, I would thenamend the clause 4 (l) --
It is important becausewe have other provisions dealingspecifically with certain institutions, likethe Audit Service and the Judiciary.
Exactly so, Mr Speaker.
So, Mr Speaker, I beg tomove, clause 4 (l) after, ‘Act' insert, ‘orany other enactment'.
Anyway, I would put itthis way, but you would have to find away. This is because Ministers forFinance like giving instructions anddirectives, but they must be consistentwith this Act or any other relevantenactment. Question put and amendment agreedto. Mr Haruna Iddrisu -- rose --
Yes, Hon Minister?
Mr Speaker, I begto move, clause 4 (1), line 3; and with yourpermission, I beg to quote: “…system of the country subjectto policy guidance from Cabinet.” Mr Speaker, if I have your leave, Iwould seek to propose an amendment justto add ‘the President and' to read:
Hon Member, what is theessence of the new clause that you areadding? You should inform the Housewhy you are adding all these.
Mr Speaker, I have said it,but I would say it again. I said the Committee is of the view that,preparation of a fiscal strategy documentshould be the responsibility of the HonMinister for Finance and not the ChiefDirector. In the Bill, it has been captured as theresponsibility of the Chief Director. TheCommittee is removing it from the ChiefDirector to the Minister for Finance. So,when we get to the responsibility of theChief Director, we would see same there,but we would delete them.
Hon Member, thedirectives in clause 4 (l) should beconsistent with the Act or any otherenactment. It should not be just anydirectives. [Pause.] Chairman of the Finance Committee, itshould be a directive consistent with thisAct or any other enactment.
Hon Member, “Presidentor Cabinet”. “and or of”?
Mr Speaker, ‘and',not ‘or'.
No, is it, ‘and' or ‘or'?
Mr Speaker, ‘and'. Mr Speaker, I know you are guided bya ruling of the Supreme Court on the useof ‘and, or'. For this purpose, it is ‘and';‘the President and Cabinet.'
I am only asking whetherwe are using, ‘the President and Cabinet'or ‘the President or Cabinet'?
Mr Speaker, ‘thePresident and Cabinet.' This is becauseunder article 75 of the Constitution,Cabinet is largely --
No! I asked that basedon your own reason that it can come as aresult of the Executive approval from thePresident.
Mr Speaker, ‘orCabinet'.
I so submit.
Do you get the point?
Yes, ‘and, or or',Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, Ido not believe that Cabinet has anexecutive power. It merely assists thePresident. So, Mr Speaker, it should bethe President. If the President so decidesthat Cabinet should do it, that is fine, butit should be just the President. Mr Speaker, one of the reasons I saidso is that, we have Executive approvalseven for Cabinet memoranda. Hon Ministers may send their Cabinetmemoranda which may require Cabinetapproval, but the President may decideon his own to give the approval. That shows us where the Executivepower really is. Mr Speaker, therefore, we should justlet it be the “President”. If the Presidentso decides, it can go to any other person. Thank you.
Mr Speaker, theHon Ranking Member of the FinanceCommittee referred you to article 76 of theConstitution, and I would further do that.We should know that, Cabinet itself is acreation of the Constitution, with amandate which he read.
“(2) The Cabinet shall assist thePresident in the determination ofgeneral policy of Government.” Fiscal policy is an important part of thegeneral policy of the Government. Indeed,it is very significant in terms of --
Hon Members, I presumethis Bill has passed through Cabinet andthe presidency.
MrSpeaker, the Hon Minister would have toeducate us on whether he is equatingCabinet and President. [Interruption] Ibeg --
It should rather be,‘President or Cabinet'.
Mr Speaker, it shouldonly be President. [Interruption.] The Constitution of the Republic ofGhana says that Cabinet is just an advisorto the President -- [Interruption.] Yes,that is the Constitution. It is in the Constitution. [Interruption.]Cabinet advises the President, andExecutive authority is reposed in thePresident and it should be the President.This is because, if we say, ‘and, or or', inyour amendment, it means that Cabinetcan advise without the President'sapproval.
Who chairs Cabinet?
Mr Speaker, it dependson the President --
Please, who chairsCabinet?
Mr Speaker, I have notbeen to Cabinet, but Mr Speaker, the VicePresident can chair Cabinet, and anyother Hon Minister can chair Cabinet ifthe President so desires, especially, whenhe is out of the jurisdiction.
Mr Speaker, mynephew said that the Constitution saysCabinet should advise. I do not see that.
“The Cabinet shall assist thePresident in the determination ofgeneral policy...”
‘advise'. [Interruption.] MrSpeaker, article 76 (1): “There shall be a Cabinet which shallconsist of the President, the VicePresident and not less than ten…” He said, ‘advise' and I am saying theConstitution does not --
Hon Members, anamendment has been moved and weknow -- Hon Members, let us get the importbehind the amendment by the HonMinister. The Hon Minister is bringingthe President there because, we havebeen in this House and we have seenExecutive approvals coming from thePresident. Therefore, in order to capturethat type of practice, the Hon Minister ismoving that we should insert ‘President'. So, it is either from the President, andwe know at times when certain documentscome, we ask for Cabinet or Executiveapproval. The import of the amendment isto capture that practice in the Bill. But itshould be mutually exclusive, becausethe President ordinarily chairs Cabinet. So,it is either President or Cabinet. So, Hon Member, move the amendmentproperly and let me put the Question.
Mr Speaker, I begto move, clause 4, subclause (1), line 3,before ‘Cabinet' insert ‘the President or'.
Yes, Hon Member forNhyiaeso?
MrSpeaker, as it has been espoused, Cabinetis there to assist the President. So, whenwe put there -- Policy direction emanates from theExecutive, whose head is the President.
Under our constitutionalarrangement, the Executive is thePresident.
Mr Speaker, under ourConstitution, the Executive is thePresident; that is the meaning. So, everyother person within the Executive isassisting the President. Mr Speaker, when we are talking ofpolicy, there is a President.
Hon Members, weshould not make a law where itsimplementa-tion would become verydifficult. The Bill itself mentioned “Cabinet”.The amendment brought in the“President”. This is because under acertificate of urgency, the President maynot consult Cabinet, or there may not bean opportunity for Cabinet to meet. So,he gives executive approval. We are takingcare of those types of situations, and thatis the spirit behind the amendment. If we do not do that, if Cabinet doesnot meet, it means we have taken awaythat power, even from the President; thatcan create a serious constitutionalproblem. Hon Members, but he can also actwhen he has to take certain quickdecisions, and Cabinet cannot meetimmediately. This is the mischief behindthe amendment.
Mr Speaker, yourreasoning is very right. Mr Speaker, but any decision taken isdone on behalf of the President. So, if we make that mistake --
Hon Members, let megive you an example. It is important for a document to bebrought to Parliament, but the Presidentis outside the jurisdiction. The Presidentinstructs the Vice President that theyshould hold a Cabinet meeting, to workon the document to be brought toParliament. Are you saying because it isnot signed by the President, it cannot bebrought here?
Mr Speaker, with yourpermission the President can or may beoutside of a jurisdiction. In his absence,by law, there is an acting President, whoacts on his behalf and in his stead. MrSpeaker, so, every time there is a President. Mr Speaker, you have been a Presidentbefore. So, in the absence of a President, thereis always a President. So, there is nosituation where we can say that there isno President. That is why even with thetransition and other matters --
Hon Members, I am notsupposed to take part in the debate, buton this occasion, for all practical purposesit is important to keep Cabinet there. The word “President” is missing in theBill, and an Hon Member moved anamendment that we should put“President” there, because, executiveauthority is vested in the President byvirtue of article 58 of the Constitution. Now, you said that we should remove“Cabinet” and limit it to the “President”. There are times that we may need thePresident' -- There are practical situationsthat when Cabinet has to meet, even forpurposes of argument, the President is notavailable, but he has instructed that certaindecisions be taken, and the Vice-Presidentacts. Are we saying that cannot be done?
Mr Speaker, the Constitutionsays that, Cabinet is made up of thePresident, the Vice President and HonMinisters. Mr Speaker, we are talking about theexecutive power vested in the President.In that case, the only reference in this Actshould be the “President”. If the Presidentis part of the Cabinet, why should theCabinet be assisting the President?
The question is also that,by the constitutional creation, thePresident may be out of the jurisdiction,the Vice President would act as thePresident and then chair Cabinet underthe instructions of the President. Whenwe put “President” alone here, Cabinetcannot meet. I can tell you from practice anddocuments that I have seen here, thateven at times, when the President givesexecutive approval, he sends it to Cabinetfor it to be ratified. Hon Members, it is always good tobuild checks and balances into the lawsthat we make in this House.
MrSpeaker, I support the amendment. Mr Speaker, but the import of theamendment is that, we are dealing with afiscal policy, and the intent here is to giveall members of Cabinet an opportunity toshare their views on this very importantfiscal policy and support the President. Ithink that is the whole import of it. We understand the power of thePresident, but when it comes to fiscalpolicy, what we try to do in this Bill is togive an opportunity for 19 Ghanaians, atleast, to share their views on this veryimportant document.
Hon Members, before wego on, I have directed that in future, beforeany Instrument is laid in this House, itmust be deposited with the Clerk toParliament. They have put something on the OrderPaper. I said I wanted to see it. I haverealised that it was neither addressed tothe Clerk to Parliament, nor to the RtHon Speaker. So, I direct that they should take thatitem from the Order Paper and redirect itto me or the Clerk to Parliament. Hon Minister, I will put the Questionon your amendment. Hon Members, what is your problem?What we have here is “Cabinet”. We areadding “the President or Cabinet”. Thereason we have to add ‘the President'alone is that, he can act without assistancefrom his Cabinet. That is the window weare rather creating in the Bill. It can also happen, but a better practiceis that, it is good for the President to takeinto counsel, the advice from his HonMinisters before acting. It promotes goodgovernance.
Mr Speaker, my SeniorHon Colleague has suggested that oneday, when the Speaker is acting, unlesshe uses his signature, Cabinet cannot doanything. I am very careful about thewords.
When I am acting, I donot preside over this House.
Mr Speaker, yes, butthey are saying that a letter must comefrom the Speaker in his acting capacityfor this to be effective. I am saying a lettermust come from only the President butwe get letters saying, Cabinet at such andsuch a date. They will put you in a veryfunny situation. So, let us be careful.
MrSpeaker, thank you very much. Mr Speaker, we seek your indulgencein this matter. Let us try and deal with itproperly because we have another one inthe Petroleum (Exploration andProduction) Bill, 2016, which agitated ourminds so powerfully the last time we couldnot resolve it. Mr Speaker, so it is a good thing thatthis matter has come up at the time youare sitting in the Chair. We would wantyou to help us on this matter. Mr Speaker, if you look at theConstitution, as my Hon Colleague haspointed out to you, there is no Cabinetwithout a President. For me, the Cabinetis the embodiment of that authority there.It is created for the purposes of thePresident. So, if we say that the President andCabinet or the President, what does thatmean? They are simply there to serve aspecific function which has been isolatedthere, and to give him advice. Mr Speaker, so, in assisting him tocome to a decision, there cannot be aCabinet without a President.
Hon Members, thequestion I want to pose to you is that, is itthe practice of good governance for thePresident to be assisted? No, I am askingyou.
And should this Houseencourage that situation?
Mr Speaker, mysuggestion is that, we leave it as theConstitution has mandated. The Cabinetis there to provide advice for the President.
Mr Speaker, what is thedifference between; they are assisting oradvising? Mr Speaker, so what I am saying isthat, if we leave Cabinet, what it means isthat, there is a constitutional creation forthe benefit of the President. Let us leaveit at Cabinet. Mr Speaker, this is because at Cabinet,the President will be there and if he is notthere, and the Speaker happens to beacting or whoever is acting, it serves thesame purpose. We should leave it as
Mr Speaker, with yourpermission again. The ‘policy guidance'is the policies of the administration of theelected President, and he has theassistance of his members of Cabinet justto help him. So, in the fiscal policy, hehas the Ministry of Finance headed byhis Hon Minister for Finance to assist himto evolve policies in finance. Mr Speaker, the same way we go totransportation and health. That is why hehas to appoint Hon Ministers to help himto do his work. But at the end of the day,whatever policy comes up is the policy ofhis administration. Mr Speaker, so, [Interruption.]
Mr Speaker, I will beg thatwith the whole of clause 4 -- we evenhave to be more careful. Mr Speaker, I do not mind us acceptingwhat the Hon Minister for Employmentand Labour Relations said. Go to clause 4(2), we have to be careful; “For the purpose of subsection (1),the Minister shall (a) prepare the annual andsupplementary estimates…” Mr Speaker, what are we trying to say?Since when, did the Hon Minister preparebudgets and annual estimates? It isbrought here on the orders of thePresident --
Yes, but you do not needto, because whatever law we passed issubject to the Constitution, and we donot need it, but somebody must performthat role.
Mr Speaker, the Presidentcan direct the Vice President who canparticipate in our debates to come hereand lay budget estimates on his behalf. Cabinet and not, ‘and/or President'. Itcreates all sorts of confusion, conflationand cacophony from my point of view.
Very well. I will put the Question but let me hearfrom -- Dr Anane --rose --
Hon Member, I intendputting the Question. You can go to theSecond Consideration Stage.
Mr Speaker, reading fromthe Constitution, article 76 (2); “The Cabinet shall assist thePresident…” Mr Speaker, it only means that therecan be a situation when the President canwork but in another situation, the Presidentmust be assisted. So, the amendmentproposed by the Hon Minister is properand in its place. So, Mr Speaker, you can put theQuestion.
Hon Members, are youaware of the Executive approvals that wehave seen in this House?
Mr Speaker, I havechanged my mind. I think because we canhave Executive approvals for Cabinetmemoranda, we should have both. I thinkwith that one, you are right.
In any case, that is whatwe have been having anyway. Hon Members, I think we should leaveit at Cabinet. You look at the renditionagain, the role there is ‘policy guidance'and ‘policy guidance' alone.
Yes, let me hear from youand the Hon Minister.
Mr Speaker, I thought Iheard you say that we should qualify thatone with “subject to the Constitution”. Isthat what you said? The (2) “subject tothe Constitution”.
And any otherenactment. So, move the amendment.
Mr Speaker, I beg tomove --
You want us to subject itto the Constitution?
Mr Speaker, I beg tomove, clause 4 (2): “For the purpose of subsection (1)and subject to the Constitution andother enactments, the Minister shall…”
Hon Member, have youmoved?
Mr Speaker, yes. Question put and amendment agreedto.
Mr Speaker, but theMemorandum also makes reference to thePublic Services Commission. This isbecause if you turn to page iv, the Powersof the Minister in clause 5. When theywere looking at clause 5, they said andMr Speaker, I beg to quote: “. . . The Minister may (a) request areport or any other information fromany covered entity or any otherperson receiving grants, advances,loans, guarantees or indemnitiesfrom the Government; (b) in consultation with the PublicServices Commission andwith the approval of Cabinet,…”
Hon Members, when weare talking about the ministries, simplicita-- and the units; they are all Civil Servants.From the Chief Director and below. So, weare limiting it to ministries. Which clause? [Pause.]
Mr Speaker, I wanted toask whether the departments andagencies under the ministries are not partpart of the ministries. This is becauseyou have some agencies under ministrieswhose appointments are made through thePublic Services Commission. I just want to know.
You are absolutely rightand that is why I am trying to get furtherand better particulars from the Committee.This is because there are some agenciesunder the Ministry, but if you look at it Mr Speaker, now, we are saying thatthis Hon Minister, after doing the policy,should come and lay budget estimatesand so on. It is done on behalf of thePresident and we have to ensure that,because, this is a slippery slope we aretrying to go on and so we have to becareful.
Hon Members, his pointthat he has raised, has also raised otherConstitutional issues. For example, withthe subclause (b), the Hon Minister doesnot submit the Budget of Parliament or ofthe Judiciary. Yes?
Mr Speaker, let me--
Hon Members, I wouldwant to put the Question. Let the Housedecide.
Mr Speaker, I was goingto plead with my Good Friend to drop hisamendment so that we leave it at Cabinet. Mr Speaker, this is because theassisting is consistent with the ‘policyguidance'. So, that will be consistent withthe Constitution.
Hon Members, look atclause 4 (2) (b). Is it all right before I putthe Question on clause 4? Hon Members, Government entitieshave been defined to include the Judiciarybut we know that constitutionally, theJudiciary Budget goes directly to thePresident and then with the re-commendation he brings it to the House. On that basis, this House has alsopassed other Legislations dealing with theAudit Service Act, 2000 and theParliamentary Service Act, 2008, which Clause 4 as amended ordered to standpart of the Bill. Clause 5 -- Powers of the Minister
Mr Speaker, I beg to move,clause 5, subclause (1), paragraph (b), line1, delete “Public Services Commission”and insert “Civil Service Council” Mr Speaker, the proper reference is“Civil Service Council” but not “PublicServices Commission”.
You should tell us whyyou are removing the “Public ServicesCommission”.
Mr Speaker, as Irecalled, we were there with the Head ofthe Civil Service, and he reminded us that,this is the appropriate body that deals withit and not the Public Services Commission.
Mr Speaker, by the Act.As the Head of Civil Service, he referredto an Act.
So, refer us to the Act tojustify it so that we would know.
Mr Speaker, I do nothave the number with me. My notes arenot here.
Hon Member, becausethe Public Services Commission of Ghanaincludes the Civil Service. [Pause.] All right. We are dealing with ministries,simplicita. So, it should be the CivilService.
Hon Deputy MinorityLeader, your point now.
Mr Speaker, he says thathe wants to look at clause 5 (1) (c) beforewe come to subclause (2). Maybe itwould change the context of clause 2.
Mr Speaker, I just wantto find out something, and with yourpermission, I beg to quote: “subject to the approval ofParliament, enter into and executean agreement on behalf of theGovernment in relation to mattersof financial nature;” Should we not bring the AttorneyGeneral and Minister for Justicesomewhere in? This is because, generallyagreement, even though it is financial, theyshould sign. The Attorney-General andMinister for Justice should tick it and makesure that everything is correct.
He is the lawyer forGovernment and that should be donebehind the scenes but that is not hispower.
Mr Speaker, the AttorneyGeneral and Minister for Justice is here.Mr Speaker, when you say that it is donebehind the scenes, it is so vital that if it isnot done, it could encumber the approvalParliament has given.
But that is not where itshould be. If you decide to enter into anagreement without talking to your lawyer,then that is your own problem. If you donot talk to your lawyer then that is yourown problem. But it is your responsibilityto enter into the agreement and not theresponsibility of your lawyer.
Mr Speaker, I thoughtthat we would bring something to make itwhole. The tendency for ministries,departments and agencies when they get closely, they are limiting it to theMinistries. They are talking aboutstructures or units within the Ministry.
Mr Speaker, but look atthe delegation of power under that sameclause 5 (2). Mr Speaker, it says that hecan delegate to the Chief Director, who iswithin the Ministry or to a senior publicofficer. They never said within the Ministry.[Interruption.] It is not implied. A senior public officermay not necessarily be within theMinistry. That is how the Bill is, and if wewould want it to be within the Ministry,then we must make an amendment andmake it within the Ministry. Mr Speaker,but as it is now, it could be given to anypublic officer.
Within the Ministry.
Mr Speaker, that is notwhat is written.
Yes. So, we would needto qualify it based on the argument youare raising. This is because, the issue ofsenior public officer could come outsidethe Ministry, which is properly so called. Let me put the Question on thisamendment. Dr Prempeh -- rose --
Yes, Hon Member?
Mr Speaker, I would wantto bring your attention to clause 5 (c). Question put and amendment agreedto. this is to go ahead because they all havelegal departments, and they would go totheir legal departments to take advice fromthem. However, if something happens,that is when they go to look for theAttorney-General and Minister forJustice.
Hon Member forManhyia South, that is not where to putit. You could have a special clause dealingwith the situation where in all agreementsof financial nature, they should take advicefrom the Attorney-General and Ministerfor Justice. So that, that clause wouldcompel them to do it, but not under thepowers of the Minister.Look at theheadnote. I know where you are comingfrom.
Mr Speaker, that is whatfrightened me. We have given that powerto the Minister for Finance, and we havenot obligated him to consult first. Theinterpretation is that, if he consults withonly his legal department, he could goahead and sign. I am saying that, for thebenefit of doubt, should we not make areference to the Attorney-General andMinister for Justice? This is because, afterall, in the Constitution, he is the legaladvisor to the Government. When they go and sign theseagreements and problems arise, eventhough it is of financial nature, at theCourt of Arbitration, they do not go; it isonly the Attorney-General and Ministerfor Justice who goes, even though theyhave gone to sign, under a financialagreement. So, Mr Speaker, I am pleading, even ifit is from emphasis point, theseagreements should go through theAttorney-General's Department and theMinistry of Justice before the Minister forFinance okays it, else, they have a legal department in the Ministry of Finance,where they would go and get advice from.They would not go the way of theAttorney-General and Minister forJustice. Problems would come after andat that time, it would not be the Ministryof Finance, it would be Ghana that wouldbe encumbered.
Mr Speaker, I appreciatewhat he knows, but if a person has a legalofficer in his Ministry, and he or she goesto do something illegal, that is his or herproblem. The law says the main advisor isthe Attorney-General and Minister forJustice. So, if a person does not go there,how could it be binding on Government? So, Mr Speaker, I do not think we needto put that thing here at all. They are there,but they do not have official res-ponsibility in terms of the work that theAttorney-General and Minister for Justicemust do. We only recognise the advice ofthe Attorney-General and Minister forJustice.
The point he is making isthat; we have had experiences where theydo not involve the office of the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, they wentahead and executed agreements and whenthe troubles came, although they did nottake the advice of the Attorney-Generaland Minister for Justice timeously, theyput him forward to defend. For this, why do we not involve theAttorney-General and Minister for Justiceright from the beginning, by putting itinto the law, by way of consultation whichwould become binding, so that it wouldbe like subject to the approval ofParliament and in consultation with theAttorney-General and Minister forJustice. That is what the mischief -- Yes, Hon Member?
Mr Speaker, Iwould want to associate myself with theproposition that this must be subject tothe advice of the Attorney-General andMinister for Justice. Therefore, instead ofyour words, “in consultation”, clause 5(1) (c) should read: “subject to the approval ofParliament enter into and execute anagreement on behalf of theGovernment in relation to mattersof financial nature subject to theadvice of the Attorney-General andMinister for Justice”; We should insert those words tostrengthen it. Mr Speaker, like he said,we couldrearrange the words and bring “theapproval of Parliament” last, then bringthe “advice from the Attorney-Generaland Minister for Justice. It is mandatory.Yes, it should not be in consultation. Itshould be subject to advice. The Attorney-General and Minister forJustice in article 88 is the legal advisor.She gives a legal opinion on everysubject. We have had instances where shehas not been consulted, which hasoccasioned losses to the State. So, wecould say: “Subject to the approval ofParliament, enter into and executean agreement on behalf of theGovernment in relation to mattersof a financial nature upon the adviceof the Attorney-General andMinister for Justice.”
The issue you are raisingis a long running issue. Yes, Hon Member?
Mr Speaker,the Constitution is the supreme Law ofthe land. Here, we have a provisionoutlining the responsibilities of the Minister. Even though in terms of ourdebate, we have not spoken about thePresident, it is understood that whateverthe Minister for Finance is doing must bewith the approval of the President. Wehave not stated it.
So, why do we notstate it?
In terms of theAttorney-General and Minister forJustice, I do not think we need to state it.
Hon Member for Sekondi,the point the Hon Member for ManhyiaSouth and the Minister for Employmentand Labour Relations are raising is that,and I know as a fact, as a young StateAttorney at the Attorney-General'sDepartment and Ministry of Justice, theseniors would tell you that, during the timeof the late Victor Owusu, when he was theAttorney-General and Minister for Justiceduring the Busia regime, he alwaysinsisted that any negation or agreementthey did within and outside the country,the office of the Attorney-General andMinister for Justice must be involved rightfrom the beginning. Normally, they go and do thenegotiation and at the eleventh hour, theybring it, or they do not involve theAttorney-General and Minister for Justiceat all. That is the mischief. Whether it ishere or somewhere else, I do not know,but that is the point. We are aware of anumber of things that have been donewithout involving the Attorney-Generaland Minister for Justice, and that is themischief they would want to cure, byusing the Bill. Yes?
MrSpeaker, there have been countlessinstances where the only time theAttorney-General and Minister for Justicegets wind of an agreement signed by any Ministry, department or agency, is wheneither litigation has arisen or the matterhas been referred to arbitration. And so, Iassociate myself with the amendmentproposed by the Hon Member forManhyia South, and reiterate the pointthat, this power of the Minister should bemade subject to the advice preferred bythe Attorney-General and Minister forJustice, who ought to be involved in allthe negotiations, even before theagreements are signed. They ought to beinvolved at all stages of the negotiationsfor any agreement.
The point they aremaking is that they should not make itdiscretionary.
Mr Speaker, I hear theargument, but we have to distinguishbetween what the Minister does and whatother ministers do. She is referring to theother ministers.
The Minister forFinance, by the Constitution, cannot signanything without the advice of theAttorney-General and Minister forJustice. It is true in practice that, a lot ofministries have their own lawyers, but itis not binding according to ourConstitution. They are there, they profferadvice, but it is until the Attorney-Generaland Minister for Justice has signed. Mr Speaker, if the Attorney-General andMinister for Justice does not proffer anadvice, Parliament cannot do anythingwith it. This is because we go by theConstitution. If the Attorney-General andMinister for Justice does not sign it, howcould we approve it? [Interruption.] No!What comes here is from the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice.
Hon Deputy Attorney-General and Deputy Minister for Justiceof the Republic of Ghana?
Mr Speaker, Ibeg to associate myself with the viewsexpressed by the Hon Papa Owusu-Ankomah, the former Attorney-Generaland Minister for Justice. I agree with himthat this is a constitutional matter. TheConstitution has already provided that theAttorney-General and Minister for Justiceis the principal legal advisor toGovernment. There would be no pointmaking this a statutory precondition forthe entry into contracts. Mr Speaker, as a matter of convention,all the finance agreements from theMinistry of Finance come to us. In fact,since I became the Deputy Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, there hasbeen no major financial agreement that hasbeen signed without the advice of theAttorney-General and Minister forJustice. So, I think the conventionwhereby the ministries, departments andagencies --
Hon Deputy Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, have youalso come across situations where it hasbeen done without reference to you?
Mr Speaker, yes, there havebeen agreements signed by Ministries,Departments and Agencies (MDAs)without recourse to the Attorney-Generaland some of those have been subjectmatter of litigation. So, I do agree withthe concern that has been expressed onthe floor. However, with respect to this particularBill, we are dealing with public financialmanagement, which means that all theMDAs would be subject to the statutoryprovisions as far as their financialmanagement is concerned.
Hon Deputy MajorityLeader and Hon Minister, I would call youbut let me hear from the two Leaders.
MrSpeaker, I guess the Hon DeputyAttorney-General and Minister for Justiceis proposing a new theory, and I believeit is a very serious one. He is making adistinction in the constitutional provisionwhich provides that, there shall be anAttorney-General who shall be a Ministerof State and the principal legal advisor tothe Government. Mr Speaker, the distinction he is makingis that, Government needs not rely onthe services of the Attorney-General.[Interruption.] Mr Speaker, he is sayingthat the Attorney-General is the principallegal advisor to Government, and thatthere are other legal advisors in thesystem. Is it possible,in his own understandingof the law,for Government to discard theservices of the Attorney-General and relyon other legal advisors and say to us that, in a particular situation,they did not needany legal advisor to proffer any advice sohe went for a private legal practitioner tocounsel Government? Is that the case?
And to add, is theengaging for pure Government businessnot done in consultation with theAttorney-General?
Mr Speaker, you are right.Usually, the appointment of lawyers to acton behalf of the Government as a whole,especially for the Executive arm, is donein consultation with or upon the adviceof the Attorney-General. But it is also thecase that, certain State institutions suchas the Ghana National PetroleumCorporation (GNPC), or the ElectoralCommission (EC), may engage counselwithout recourse to the Attorney-Generaland that is where my fear is, that if westart to legislate that in certain cases, it ismandatory that the Attorney-General isconsulted, we may run ourselves intodifficulties. Mr Speaker, in a situation where theState agency then appoints counsel forinstance, in international arbitration --because we are not licensed to practise inother jurisdictions, most of the time, wehave to rely on foreign counsel -- in thosesituations we are consulted. But insituations where the MDA wants to relyon the expertise of a lawyer other than theAttorney-General, they can do so withoutrecourse to us.
Hon Members, I think theHon Deputy Attorney-General andDeputy Minister for Justice has raised avery important point, and to assist theHouse, I want us to look at the definitionof the covered entities under the Bill. The covered entities include theExecutive, Legislature, the Judiciary,constitutional bodies, ministries, the office of the Attorney-General and yet,at that stage, the Attorney-General andMinister for Justice is obliged to representthem. It becomes even an issue gettinginformation from those agencies to enablethe Attorney-General and Minister forJustice assist with the prosecution of thesuits which have been brought againstthem. Mr Speaker, I believe it is critical thatwe examine this issue dispassionately andinsist that the Attorney-General andMinister for Justice be made privy to theagreements which are entered into, andon behalf of the Government. As theprincipal legal advisor to the Government,-- they ought to be involved with allprocesses involving their clients whohave been imposed on them by theConstitution. We cannot seek to detractfrom the work of the Attorney-General andMinister for Justice in this matter.
Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker,I am tempted to go with the proposal thatwe should include the Attorney-Generaland Minister for Justice. We are not justlegislating in vacuum. We are making thislaw out of experience, particularly onfinancial matters. We have the experienceas a country, where the Legal Departmentof the Ministry of Finance advised theMinistry, they took decisions, it led intocourt cases and they were found wanting. Mr Speaker, at that time, there was amove to compel all lawyers in whateverGovernment department, to refer allagreements to the Attorney-General'sDepartment for advice. There is a historyto it. So, I believe the proposal is rightand we should go by it. departments and agencies, and other thepublic services, autonomous agencies. Inview of that, I think the House must takeinto account seriously the point beingmade by the Hon Deputy Attorney-General. Let me hear from the sole femaleMember of Parliament who is contributingso far to the debate.
Mr Speaker, muchas I appreciate the point that the HonDeputy Attorney-General and Minister forJustice is making, and your contribution,even the Electoral Commission and otherindependent agencies are represented bythe Attorney-General when they are suedin court. So, the fact of the involvementof the Attorney-General does not detractfrom their independence or theirautonomy. So, I believe that all theConstitutional Instruments (CI), whichcome to Parliament are also laid by theAttorney-General. I believe that, as the principal legaladvisor to the State, any other legaladvisor who may be engaged by any ofthese agencies to assist them in their workdoes not detract from the work of theAttorney-General. Mr Speaker, there is a saying in Akanthat nam dodo ensei nkwan, to wit, toomuch meat in the soup does not ruin it. Itjust adds to and enriches it. So, theAttorney-General has also had occasion-- Mr Speaker, I am speaking as a formerSpecial Assistant to the Attorney-Generalwho has witnessed at first-hand how theState has been encumbered in suits whichhave been arising out of agreements whichhave been entered into by Ministries,Departments and Agencies, including theMinistry of Finance, without recourse to
So, this is the situationwhere the Minister is going to sign theagreement.
That is so, and so beforethe signature, the Attorney-General wouldhave advised on it. Mr Speaker, as Minister for WaterResources, Works and Housing, one ofthe challenges I had was that I inheriteddocuments that were already signedwithout the advice of the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice and thatcaused a lot of problems when we broughtthem to this House. So, that is the experience; STX. Weshould guard against it, and there isnothing wrong with legislating. Weshould not leave it to the discretion of theindividual ministers. We should legislatein this direction.
Hon Members, the lastcomment, and then I would put theQuestion.
Mr Speaker, Ido not find anything wrong with theamendment as proposed, but we shouldbear in mind that we are discussing theentire arrangement for legal advice for theState. If this is the view of the House, then itmay help if we get special enactmentsgoverning the Attorney-General's Office,and the extent of works that it has to dofor the State. This only relates to theMinister for Finance. That is the point Iwant to make.
Somebody says weshould start from there. Hon Deputy Attorney-General andDeputy Minister for Justice, do youhave anything to say? Your Hon Leaderhas spoken.
Mr Speaker, I would concedethe point made by the Hon Leader.
Hon Majority Leader,now move your amendment properly andlet me put the Question, so that the TableOffice would capture it properly.
Mr Speaker, I beg to movefor a further amendment of the proposedamendment to read as follows; “Pursuant to section 4, the Ministermay, (c) acting on the advice of theAttorney-General, andsubject to the approval ofParliament…” Mr Speaker, the rest follows. Question put and amendment agreedto.
Hon Deputy MinorityLeader, you have an amendment there.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move,clause 2, subclause (2), line 2, after theword “public”, add the words “within theMinistry”. So, it would read: “The Minister may delegate any ofthe responsibilities under sub-section (1) to the Chief Director orto a senior public officer within theMinistry.”
Hon Members, it is todistinguish between other public officersand then those within the Ministry.
”Public officer within”, soafter the word “public” we put the words“within the Ministry”. So it would be: “to a senior public officer within theMinistry but shall not be relievedof the ultimate responsibility for theperformance of the delegatedresponsibility.” Mr Speaker, this is just to ensure thatthe Minister would not delegate to a chiefdirector outside the Ministry. The way itis left, it would mean that the Ministercould delegate that function outside theMinistry, and we would not like that to bethe case, or a senior public officer outsidethe Ministry. It would not be in consonance withClause 5 (1) (b), which is talking aboutwithin the Ministry. I so move.
Mr Speaker, I would likethe Chairman of the Committee to explainwhy the Minister cannot delegate thispower to the Deputy Minister. I would just like to know why thisparticular power, the Minister should nothave the power to delegate it to theDeputy Minister who is higher on thatscale than the Chief Director. Then we could make it even simple, ifit is simplification. “The Minister maydelegate it to any senior public officer inthe Ministry”. Why are we naming theChief Director?
Hon Member, you knowthat the Deputy Minister is to assist theMinister.
Hon Members, there is aspecific amendment, and I would put theQuestion on that amendment. The reason this amendment is beingmoved is that, we deleted the PublicServices Commission and put the CivilService Council, so that we would belimiting ourselves to the ministries, andthat is why he raised a point. That is whyhe is moving the amendment that we aretalking about ministries here. Otherwise, if we have “public officer”,they could go and assign somebodyoutside the Ministry, and then it raisesthe issue of the Public ServicesCommission, and that is the mischief wewant to cure.
Mr Speaker, in principle, Iam not against specifying that it is withinthe Ministry, but the phrase “senior publicofficer” is too wide. If we are dealing withthe Chief Director, we should have aminimum. Senior public officer starts fromAssistant Administrative Officer. When you finish a tertiary institutionand you are engaged in the publicservices, you start as a senior publicofficer. You are not a junior, and that istoo wide. So, if we are talking about thedirector level, I would understand. But justsenior public officer, no.
Where is the Hon DeputyMinister for Finance?
Mr Speaker, while I mayagree with the Hon Majority Leader, thereare certain responsibilities that a Directormay not be technically competent to do.So, he would need to give room to theHon Minister to determine who is capableof doing that particular task.
Mr Speaker, we are talkingabout responsibility. The Hon Ministersthemselves are not capable of doing thosetechnical things, so we give theresponsibility, and the person has thelargesse to consult other people, and tapthe intelligence and expertise of thoseworking in the Ministry. We do not give such a heinous,onerous responsibility to a junior seniorofficer, in spite of his technicalknowledge. [Interruption.] I agree. Butthat is risky. Let us not encourage it.
Hon Majority Leader, willyou consider the Hon Deputy Minister asa senior public officer, for purposes ofsection 5 (1) and (2)?
Mr Speaker, it is a politicalappointment.
No, if you use the words:“a senior public officer,” would youconsider the Hon Deputy Minister as asenior public officer?
Mr Speaker, at least, thereshould be a cut-off point. We cannot justleave it to a senior --
Hon Majority Leader, Ihold the view that a senior public officercovers an Hon Deputy Minister, but when paid directly from the ConsolidatedFund or directly out of moneysprovided by Parliament and servicewith a public corporation;..”
Hon Members, theInterpretation Act has defined publicofficer. We have the public office, and itdefines the public officer to include theholder of a public office and a personappointed to act in that office. So, forpurposes of that definition, the HonDeputy Minister is a public officer. It is on that bases --
Mr Speaker, it is the publicservices as defined by the Constitution.This is because on page 72 of the Bill, it isstated as “public service established bythe Constitution.” So, every person captured under theInterpretation Act, is captured assomebody who is a public servant. So,Hon Deputy Ministers are in the publicservice. I agree with him.
Mr Speaker, I justwanted to set this thing clear. This isbecause Hon Ministers and Hon DeputyMinisters are providing public service.That is what we are in the office todo.Whether it is by the implementation ofpolicy or not, it is public service. That iswhy somebody in the public office iscalled a public servant. This is becausehe offers public service. Mr Speaker, there are certain categoriesof activities required under clause 5 (1),and clause 5 (2) says that in the eventthat the Hon Minister cannot perform -- So, we must read clause 5 (2) togetherwith clause 5 (1). When we take clause5(2), standing alone, we expand thehorizon and we would begin to think ofother activities that cannot be done by asenior public officer. you use the “Director” for example, thenyou limit it within the Civil Servicestructure, and take out a senior publicofficer.
Mr Speaker, an HonDeputy Minister, is not under the PublicServices Commission.
But is he not a seniorpublic officer?
No, Mr Speaker.
But he holds a seniorpublic office. His office is a --
The Hon Minister and hisDeputy, are political officers. Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister and hisDeputy hold the same office - one office.The substantive is the Hon Minister, andthe assistant is the Deputy. Then we havethe public servants --
I will call on the HonMinister for Roads and Highways, thenthe Chairman.
MrSpeaker, I think the Hon Minister and hisDeputy are public officers, by thedefinition of the Constitution. Theirsalaries and emoluments are charged onthe Consolidated Funds. All publicofficers' salaries and emoluments arecharged on the Consolidated Fund, andthat makes them public officers.
“public service includes service inany civil office of Government, theemoluments attached to which are What are the activities that are requiredunder clause 5(1), that a senior officercannot perform? This is because the lawssay that the Hon Minister may delegateany of the responsibilities under subsection (1), and there are fiveresponsibilities under sub section (1) --Responsibility to the Chief Director or asenior public officer, but shall not berelieved from ultimate responsibility for theperformance of delegated responsibility. Mr Speaker, that is good law, becausehe is the substantive occupant of theoffice, so, he has the ultimate respon-sibility. But the activities are there -- Mr Speaker, with debt management,everyday at my office, I receive a letterfrom the Ministry of Finance, from theDebt Management Officer, drawing myattention to the limits. He is not a director,and even if he is, he is a senior publicofficer, but not the Chief Director. But hewrites to me to inform me of myresponsibility to keep within certain limitsof the debts. Mr Speaker, subsection (1), of clause5(1a) says that --
Hon Members, you see,you are missing the point. That is another argument. I would wantto deal with the amendment moved by theHon Deputy Minority Leader, whether --So that we limit it to the Ministry. This isbecause, we have removed -- Otherwise,they can go and give that responsibilityto somebody outside the Ministry.
Mr Speaker, that isexactly so. It is for the abundance ofcaution. If you read the whole of the Act,you would come to one conclusion, whichis, “this function deals with the Ministryof Finance.”
Mr Speaker, you wouldcome to the conclusion that this functiondeals with the Ministry of Finance. Asenior public officer reading the Act as awhole, and the particular provision, wouldcome to, but one conclusion, that we aretalking about a senior public officer withinthe Ministry of Finance. But for the abundance of caution, wecan put in that amendment. Let us leave it then. For now,parliamentary debates are used as a guideto interpretation. If the understanding isthat it is from the Ministry, then we shouldleave it as such. Hon Nitiwul, are youwithdrawing the amendment?
Mr Speaker, I am notwithdrawing the amendment. Question put and amendment agreedto.
Now, what is the decisionof the House regarding “a senior publicofficer”? The position of the Hon DeputyMinority Leader is that, it is too broadand elastic. I have defined a public officer for youunder the Interpretation Act. It includesMinisters, Deputy Ministers and all of usin this Chamber.
Mr Speaker, if “seniorpublic officer” is defined, we will not havea problem. The Hon Member's contentionis not about the definition of a publicofficer, but who becomes the seniorpublic officer. That is his contention. If we were to say that, “a senior publicofficer above the rank of this”, and thenyou could specify that it is ‘above the rankof a certain stature. This is because if youlook at the responsibilities of --
Above the rank of adirector or from the rank of a director.
Is it the rank of a directoror something else? If it is a senior publicofficer with the rank of a director or abovethe rank of a director, or not below therank of a director, then we shall all becovered. This is because theresponsibilities under clause 5 (1), (a), (b),(c) and (d) are very serious res-ponsibilities.
Mr Speaker, I think that itwould be dangerous to define a “seniorpublic officer”. Let us leave it as “a publicofficer;” that has been defined in the Bill.The exact definition of “public officer,” asyou quoted, has been provided on page71 of the Bill. Mr Speaker, if you define “a seniorpublic officer” as from a director level andabove, and there is an activity that theHon Minister wants to delegate, and it isa public officer who is below the rank of adirector who can perform that duty, thenhe would not be in a position to delegatethat responsibility. Again, you would see clearly that,clause 5 (2) also says that the Minister, indelegating that responsibility, is notrelieved of the consequences. For thatmatter, if I am a Minister and I delegatesome activities that I am supposed to do,I must make sure that the person to whomI delegate that responsibility is somebodywho can do the work. For that matter, once the person is apublic officer -- As defined by the law,let us leave the definition of “a seniorpublic officer” open, so that the Ministercan choose from a director level or belowdirector level to delegate that responsibility.
Hon Chairman of theCommittee, take note that when you cometo the Interpretation clause of the Bill;clause 108 in terms of a public officer, you must go back to look at the definition inthe Interpretation Act to re-align it. Thisis because the definition in the Bill isdifferent from what is in the InterpretationAct. So, take note of that. You must go and look at what is in theInterpretation Act. In any case, if there isa dispute, they would use theInterpretation Act as a guide to interpretit. So, why do you not copy what is in theInterpretation Act into the Bill? Do youget the point I am making?
Mr Speaker, we have aproblem already in the Bill. I agree withyou; the definition here is not consistentwith the Interpretation Act and it wouldcreate problems for us.
Hon Members, let usleave it at “senior public officer”. This isbecause once the ultimate responsibilitystill lies with the one who delegates theresponsibility, he would take ultimateresponsibility.
Mr Speaker, everydelegated responsibility, the person whodelegated the responsibility takesresponsibility. It needs not be stated here. But Mr Speaker, that is not the point.The functions under clause 5 (1) areindeed -- This is not a general delegationwe are talking about; we are talking aboutafter Parliament --
Hon Member, if theMinister decides to give it, in our view, toa cleaner, it is his responsibility. He wouldtake ultimate responsibility. So, HonMembers, let us make progress.
Mr Speaker, we wouldactually make progress -- [Interruptions.]
It would relate to thecategory of people who are mentionedthere.
Exactly. It is that categorythat they referred to as “any other publicofficer”. This is because you cannot useall the terminologies of that rank in clause3. That is what should inform us inconsidering clause 5 (2). Mr Speaker, we give too muchdiscretionary powers to office holders. Wehave not been able to hold themaccountable. We speak from experience;we need to regulate human beings,particularly public office holders. I believethe intention is to give it to a rank that wecan say is a responsible rank. I mentioned that when you finish atertiary institution and you enter into thepublic service, the first day of your entryinto the public service, you are a seniorpublic officer. I know that it is delegatedand the one delegating it still has theultimate responsibility. But it is important that we do not allow-- The risk is too much for us to do that.We should be guided by clause 3 andwe should be talking about public officersof that rank. Mr Speaker, that is my submission.
There are two ways ofgoing about this; one way is to designatethe position of that public officer in theBill, in terms of the rank. Anotherapproach, for the purpose of section 5 inthe interpretation column, is to define thecategory of ranks that we consider toperform the function under section 5. Forpurposes of section 5, these are thecategories of people - So, those are thetwo ways of going about it. Hon Member for Sekondi and then theHon Ranking Member?
Mr Speaker, inclause 5 (2), they have specified a seniorpublic officer. So, obviously, it was notthe intention that the delegation shouldbe to any public officer. However, in theBill, we do not know who a senior publicofficer is. So, it would be right if wedesignate a senior public officer not belowa certain rank. It would be in conformitywith the intendment of the clause. This isbecause if it were to be any ordinary publicofficer, they would have stated so, butthey said senior public officer. So, weask ourselves who is a senior publicofficer?
Not below the rank of adirector?
That is it, yes.
Mr Speaker, the intentionhere is to enable the Minister for Financeto delegate some of his responsibilities toa director -- minimum -- or some of theadvisors of the Ministry of Finance so thatthey can perform the functions -- management of public revenue. So, theCommittee proposed this amendment toensure that the Chief Director is limited toonly the coordination and promotion ofthis activity. Question put and amendment agreedto.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move,clause 6, subclause (1), paragraphs (e),(f) and (h)delete. Mr Speaker, this is the responsibilityof the Minister, and he had already movedthat as a new amendment proposed underclause 4. So, we are deleting it from underthe responsibilities of a Chief Director. Question put and amendment agreedto. Dr Prempeh -- rose --
Do you have a point oforder? Which paragraph?
You are late, we have putthe Question on paragraph (e) already.
Mr Speaker, I am justdrawing your mind --
I am saying that we havealready put the Question on paragraph(e).
Mr Speaker, I agree, (e)talks about managing public funds --
I said that we have takena decision on (e) already.
Mr Speaker, I was nothere.
So, a senior public officernot below the rank of a director.
Mr Speaker, Ibeg to move, line 2 of clause 5(2), after“senior public officer”, insert “not belowthe rank of director”. Question put and amendment agreedto.
Mr Speaker, I am justcautioning that we have to keep in mindthat the definition of “public officer” isnot consistent with what you read.
Yes, I have asked theCommittee's Chairman to take note so thatwhen we get to clause 108, they wouldcapture the definition in the interpretationsection. Clause 5 as amended ordered to standpart of the Bill. Clause 6 -- Responsibilities of ChiefDirector
Mr Speaker, I beg to move,clause 6, subclause (1), paragraph (c),opening phrase, delete “promote andenforce the transparent” and insert thefollowing: “coordinate the promotion andenforcement of a transparent,”
“Coordinate the promotion andenforcement of a transparent,efficient and effective managementof public revenue, public expenditureand the assets and liabilities of acovered entity.” The responsibility of a Chief Director isnot to enforce and promote transparencybut rather the coordination and promotionof transparent, efficient and effective
Mr Speaker, we know thatthe Controller and Accountant-General isthe Government's Accountant, just as wehave the Attorney-General as theGovernment's lawyer. So, in order for theChief Director to have access toaccounting documents, he must do thatthrough the Controller and Accountant-General. That is the reason behind --
What do you mean by“accounting records or information”?
Mr Speaker, the accountingrecords talk about the books, paymentvouchers and receipts that are --
And do you think thatthe Controller and Accountant-Generalhas the receipts of Parliament or theJudiciary?
Mr Speaker, the Judiciaryand Parliament might be an exception --
I am asking you;thereceipts in Parliament and the Judiciary,do you think the Controller andAccountant-General has all of them? I asked you a question and the answershould be simply a yes or no. This isbecause it covers entities which includeParliament. So, do you think that all thereceipts and all those things --
Mr Speaker, if we aregoing to make the law that would includeParliament as a covered entity, if currentlythat situation is not taking place, then afterthe passage of this law, that is the positionthey would want the law to take. If Parliament is now defined as a“covered entity,” then the Chief Directorcan have access to these documentsthrough the Controller and Accountant-General. That is the intention.
Mr Speaker, we wouldtake note. I believe we should pull thatdefinition from the Auditor-General's Actso that it would be very clear.
Hon Member for SalagaSouth, I would want to hear from you firstbefore I put the Question.
MrSpeaker, I do not support the amendmentbecause, for example, if the Chief Directorwants a bank reconciliation statement,which is an accounting record, does hehave to pass through the Controller andAccountant-General to have thatstatement? In any case, who is responsiblefor all the accounting records?[Interruption.] I am not talking ofParliament; I am talking of all theGovernment entities.
Hon Member, we aretalking about covered entities and notonly the Ministry of Finance.
Mr Speaker, strictlyspeaking, the functions that are here arefunctions of the Controller andAccountant-General. The only reason wehave them, as if the Chief Director shouldperform this function, is for the ChiefDirector of the Ministry of Finance tohave information that this function hasbeen performed. Mr Speaker, at the Committee level,this was debated extensively. TheController and Accountant-Generalargued that this is their function and it isalready captured in their law, and they areactually performing it. However, the Ministry of Finance wasof the view that, the Chief Director shouldbe involved in performing this function.That is why we are proposing anamendment that,although the ChiefDirector is performing this function, heshould go through the Controller andAccountant-General. Mr Speaker, I believe this amendmentshould stay.
In fact, Hon Member forManhyia South, apologise to the Chair.
Mr Speaker, I apologiseunreservedly for drawing you back.
No, for drawing thewhole House back.
And you in particular, MrSpeaker.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move,clause 6, subclause (2), paragraph (a),after “shall” insert “through theController and Accountant-General”. The new rendition would read: “For purposes of subsection (1), theChief Director shall, through theController and Accountant-Generalhave access during working hoursto accounting records and all therest.” Mr Speaker, the Committee is of theview that the Chief Director can only haveaccess to these documents through theController and Accountant-General. Theycannot directly bypass the Controller andAccountant-General, who has his staff atthe various public entities. The ChiefDirector should directly have access tothese documents --
Hon Member, do youknow the covered entities?
Yes, Mr Speaker, I know.
So, in the case ofParliament or the Judiciary, if you wantaccess to the books, do you have to passthrough the Controller and Accountant-General? I am just throwing the questionto the Chairman of the Committee.
The problem is notwhether the Chief Director would not haveaccess; it is whether he would have to dothat through the Controller andAccountant-General in the case of theJudiciary and Parliament. That is thequestion I posed.
Mr Speaker, I believe it isa good proposal. This is because theController and Accountant-General is theChief Accountant of Government and notonly the Executive. So, if we look at theFinancial Bills that we have passed onaccountability, we always tried to protectthose records for auditing purposes. Oneneeds the authority of that person who isresponsible before one goes to tamperwith them. We should not just allow the ChiefDirectors to sit and call for any recordwithout going through that process. Iknow that we try to get some autonomy --I would not call it independence in ouraccounting system. All the same, we aresaying it should be subject to audit, bythe Auditor-General. When the Auditor-General holds theultimate person that is responsible for this,he would go to the Controller andAccountant-General. That is why it canjust be a note and then he would authorisethat he should go and look at the recordsof the Legislature or Judiciary. That is it.He may do that with another officer; theywould go together to make sure that theydo not tamper with the accounting recordsof that Government institution. I believe it is a good proposal and Isupport it.
I would advise theCommittee to define what they mean by“accounting records or information”. Thisis because the Bill has not defined it.
Hon Member, the pointthat you have made, why are you notkeeping it for the Controller andAccountant-General? This is because thatargument is very persuasive, especiallywith regard to clause 5 (2). The Government Accountant musthave a -- Have you given the place forpublic accounting records keeping to theChief Director?
Mr Speaker, at the coveredentity level, there would be a ChiefAccountant or a Principal Accountant ora Director of Finance.
Why do you not justhand it to the Controller and Accountant-General?
Mr Speaker, the recordsbelong to the spending officer who is theChief Director of that covered entity.When the Chief Director of the Ministryof Finance wants the accounting recordsof that Ministry, which is also a coveredentity, he cannot go directly to the ChiefDirector of that covered entity to demandfor the records. He would do that throughthe Controller and Accountant-General,who would go through the principalspending officer, who is the Chief Directorof that entity, to provide the records.
Mr Speaker, let us look atit this way. There is a Chief Director in theMinistry of Finance, who has the ultimateresponsibility, other than the HonMinister, for these records that theController and Accountant-General wouldhave to keep. Even though he has ultimateresponsibility over these records, otherthan the Hon Minister, if he is looking forany of the records during working hours,he has to get that information through theController and Accountant-General?
Mr Speaker, clause 7which we would move to very soon saysand with your permission, I beg to quote; 7 (1) “….the Controller andAccountant-General who shallbe the Chief Accounting Officerof the Government and the chiefadvisor to the Minister andGovernment in matters relatingto accountancy”. So, he is the boss. And if one wantsdocuments who should the personconsult? Who should you go through? Itshould be through him. This is clear. Question put and amendment agreedto.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move,clause 6, subclause (2), paragraph (b),delete.
Mr Speaker, this is one ofthe responsibilities that are not supposedto be that of the Chief Director. We do notthink that the Chief Director may issuedirectives and instructions necessary forthe effective implementation of this Actto the head of a covered entity. Thisshould be the responsibility of theMinister, which we have captured underclause 4. So, we are deleting it underclause 6. Question put and amendment agreedto. Clause 6 as amended ordered to standpart of the Bill.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move,new clause, add the following new clauseafter clause 6: “Duties of a Principal SpendingOfficer (1) A Principal SpendingOfficer shall for the respectivecovered entity; (a) ensure the regularity andproper use of moneyappropriated to the coveredentity; (b) authorise commitments forthe covered entity within aceiling set by the ChiefDirector under section 26; and (c) manage the resourcesreceived, held or disposed ofby or on account of thecovered entity. (2) A Principal Spending Officer shall,in the exercise of duties under thisAct, establish an effective systemof risk management, internal controland internal audit in respect of theresources and transactions of acovered entity. (3) Where a Principal SpendingOfficer receives a subvention onbehalf of another entity, thatPrincipal Spending Officer shallremit the subvention to thatother entity in accordance withthe approved cash flow plan forthe subvention. (4) A Principal Spending Officer maydelegate a function or res-ponsibility specified in this Actto a public officer who is underthe control of that PrincipalSpending Officer but shall not berelieved of the ultimate res-ponsibility for the performanceof the delegated function orresponsibility. (5) Where a Principal SpendingOfficer delegates a function orresponsibility under subsection(4), that Principal SpendingOfficer shall give the directivesnecessary for the proper exerciseor performance of that functionor responsibility.” Mr Speaker, this is lifted from clause82 of the Bill. We are rearranging it bybringing “Responsibilities and Duties”under one section.
And why do you thinkthis is where you have to put it?
Mr Speaker, we are puttingit under — after the “Chief Director, thePrincipal Spending Officer” —
Why not after “theController and Accountant-General”?
Mr Speaker, it is before “theController and Accountant-General”because, the Principal Spending Officerhere is equivalent to the Chief Director ofother ministries. So, that comes after “theChief Director of Ministry of Finance,before the Controller and Accountant-General. Mr Speaker, we have lifted, with someamendments —
Between the ChiefDirector and the Controller andAccountant-General, who is higher? Arethey not the same?
Mr Speaker, the ChiefDirector is higher.
Higher than theController and Accountant-General?
Mr Speaker, yes. This isbecause they are the Principal SpendingOfficers — The Clerk is the PrincipalSpending Officer and that is what we are
Hon Members, havingregard to the state of Business of theHouse, I direct that Sitting be held outsidethe prescribed period. Hon Minority Leader, I did not get thepoint you made.
Mr Speaker,I said that, for the use of the words, “therespective” — I believe that we could justdelete “the respective” and insert “a” sothat it reads: “A Principal Spending Officer shallfor a covered entity: (a) ensure the regularity andproper use of moneyappropriated to the coveredentity…”
Mr Speaker, we believethat because it was lifted we probably didnot pay attention. We do not really needall of that. We could just say; “A Principal Spending Officer shall,(a), (b) and (c).
Why do we not just putit as;”The Principal Spending Officer of acovered entity”.
Mr Speaker, we do noteven need that. This is because thePrincipal Spending Officers are for thecovered entities and nothing else. Theycannot be for anything else — if “of” isall right — But we do not even need it. dealing with. In the hierarchy, theController and Accountant-General is thehead of the accounting division, whoreports through the Chief Director to theMinister.
Hon Chairman of theCommittee, please, move the amendment.The draftspersons would know whereexactly to put it. So, move the amendment.Are you just moving it from clause 82?
Mr Speaker, yes, with somefurther amendments that we proposed.So, we are entirely lifting what we haveunder clause 82 with some deletions andnew renditions as captured on pages 30and 31 of the Order Paper and puttingthat after clause 6 — [Pause.] Question put and amendment agreedto.
Mr Speaker,just a minor amendment, if the HonChairman may oblige. Mr Speaker, I beg to move, “(1) A Principal Spending Officer shallfor a covered entity; (a) ensure the regularity and properuse of money appropriated tothe covered entity;” Mr Speaker, why would we say,“…for the respective coveredentity”?
”(1) A PrincipalSpending Officer shall for a coveredentity…” instead of saying, “for therespective covered entity”? Unless maybewe have a special reason. Otherwise, I
Mr Speaker, I would go byyour rendition. This is because we aretalking about covered entities. It is likelythat some entities are not covered. I haveseen the definition. So, I agree with you,and I beg to move that it should ratherread: “A Principal Spending Officer of acovered entity shall…”—
Mr Speaker,just a minor consequential — We haveprovided for, “a covered entity”, so (a)should rather read: “ensure the regularity and properuse of money appropriated to thatcovered entity.” Mr Speaker, we have used “the” in thepreambular and so, (a) would then be,“to that covered entity”, equally so for(b) and (c). They are consequential. New clause as amended ordered tostand part of the Bill. Clause 7 — Controller and Accountant-General.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move,clause 7, subclause (1), line 3, delete“chief”. So, it would read: “The President shall, in accordancewith article 195 of the Constitution,appoint a Controller and Accountant-General who shall be the ChiefAccounting Officer of the Go-vernment and the advisor to theMinister and Government in mattersrelating to accountancy”. Mr Speaker, earlier, we made the ChiefDirector, the Chief Advisor to the Minister.So, once the Controller and Accountant-General's Department is an agency under
Is the Chief Director thegeneral chief advisor?
But this one is chiefadvisor in matters relating to accountancy.So, they have taken a specific area of theadvice. Yes, Hon Minister?
Mr Speaker,rightly so. The Chairman of the Committee needsnot mix chief advisor with the Minister inthe role of the Chief Director, and thenChief Advisor specific to accountancy.My worry is, is the Controller andAccountant-General just advisingGovernment on issues of accountancy? Iknow that he is the chief cashier ofGovernment. [Interruption.] Thank you.
Mr Speaker, the Head ofCivil Service at the Committee advisedthat, creating two “chiefs” can be aproblem. If we have a chief advisor to theMinister, who is the Chief Director, andwe also have a Controller andAccountant-General as the chief advisorto the Minister, it could create a problem.
Hon Members, accoun-ting -- We should not forget that therecould be a chief director who might notbe an accountant. Yes! Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I think thatthere is good reason for deleting the“chief”. In fact, it should not be only the“chief”, the definite article “the” should
Mr Speaker, sinceyou recognised me, probably, since theChairman of the Committee and theMinister have difficulty with the repeateduse of the word “chief”, we should justdelete “chief” and insert “principal”, asyou advised. It would be principaladvisor on matters relating toaccountancy.
But the Hon Member forManhyia South said that we should endat “Government”. [Interruption.] I am only throwing in the point that hehas made. Hon Members, why are we removingthe definite article that qualifies the ChiefAccounting Officer? It should be there --“appoint a Controller and Accountant-General who shall be a…”; the definitearticle “the” should be positioned there.So, your amendment is to make it“Government and an advisor”.
So far the word “chief”is unknown except here. Generallyspeaking, we talked about PrincipalSpending Officer, and when it comes tothis point we say “chief.” I believe weshould be consistent and say” PrincipalAccounting Officer and Principal Advisorto the Minister”. This is because theMinister may go outside and seek advicefrom other people.
Hon Members, what dowe use under the current FinancialAdministration Act?
I do not have it here,Mr Speaker. So, if we are departing from a certainprovision, there should be a reason for it.[Pause.] Well, it is for the House to decide. Yes, Hon Deputy Minister for Finance,then the Hon Ranking Member of theFinance Committee.
Mr Speaker, the intentionis not to depart from what we have in theFinancial Administration Act. But MrSpeaker, the issue came up again at theCommittee. The Head of the Office of Civil Serviceraised the issue that, if we are to havetwo chiefs and care is not taken,obviously, there would be confusion.Therefore, we should not repeat the word,‘chief ', but it does not change thefunction.
We have always used theword, “chief”. Had there been anyconfusion? Was the person from the Office of theCivil Service able to point out any conflictwith the operation of the FinancialAdministration Act of 2003? There shouldbe a mischief or defect that the amendmentseeks to cure. Hon Deputy Minister for Finance,since you became a Deputy Minister atthe Ministry of Finance, have there beenany conflict between the Controller andAccountant-General and your Ministry?
Mr Speaker, not that I amaware of. [Laughter.]
Mr Speaker, followingfrom what you read, what we have hereshould stay. This is because it is exactlywhat is there for emphasis. also go. Mr Speaker, both of them shouldgo so that it would read: “The President shall, in accordancewith article 195 of the Constitution,appoint a Controller and Accountant-General who shall be the ChiefAccounting Officer of the Go-vernment and advisor to theMinister and Government in mattersrelating to accountancy”. Mr Speaker, “and advisor” -- notprincipal. On the issue of the accountancy-- that is why I removed the definite article“the”. So, the “chief” there is theaccounting officer, we are dealing withaccountancy and the advice would be onaccountancy.
Mr Speaker, I do notknow, but it looks like moving forwardgradually, we are trying to change titlesand designations. The Controller andAccountant-General has been doing hiswork from time immemorial, and there is alaw governing his duties, functions andeverything. Why should it be “a chiefadvisor to the Minister”? He is already anadvisor to the Minister, and it isprobably not necessary to state the“advisor” because he is the Controller andAccountant-General anyway. In fact, all Government Ministries,Departments and Agencies (MDAs) postaccountants from the Controller andAccountant-General's Department. Mr Speaker, principally, when we goto the Embassies abroad, they sendrepresentatives there. So, when he isunder the Minister for Finance bydesignation, function and everything,why do we add that “he is the advisor tothe Minister for Finance”? He has todesignate what it means by proper
Clerks-at-the-Table, doyou have copies of the FinancialAdministration Act? [Pause.] Hon Members, I would want to dealwith this matter so that I can hand overthe Chair to one of the Deputy Speakers.Let us resolve this matter quickly. Let us look at the FinancialAdministration Act of 2003, and seewhat terminology they used for purposesof comparison. Hon Members, I see what they aretrying to do here. Under the FinancialAdministration Act, 2003, we have aseparate clause for the appointment andarticle 195 was used. Then, we haveanother clause that deals with it as theChief Accounting Officer. What they have here, in terms of theChief Accounting Officer is that: “The Controller and Accountant-General is the Chief AccountingOfficer of the Government and hasthe responsibility to keep, renderand publish statements of publicaccounts as required by this Actand any other enactment.” As the Chief Accounting Officer, theController and Accountant-General is thechief advisor to the Minister and theGovernment on accountancy matters, andhe is the person who approves accoun-ting instructions of departments andpromotes the development of efficientaccounting systems within departments.
Is the Chief Advisorthere?
Yes, on matters ofaccountancy. So, it is all right.
On matters of accountancy,they have carved an area for him, and thisis what we have here. So, why are weremoving it?
Mr Speaker, I have seenthat we have two ‘chief' there and --[Uproar.]
One is accountancy --
But allow me and let mefinish my statement. You have made upyour mind and so, you do not even wantto listen to my argument. [Laughter.] The point I am making is that, the ChiefDirector is the overall boss for all theagencies under that Ministry. The ChiefDirector at the Ministry of Finance is thehead that controls the Controller andAccountant-General's Department and theGhana Revenue Authority, which areagencies under the Ministry.
Let me ask you thisquestion, Hon Chairman. Who is in charge when it comes topreparing of the accounts and all thosethings?
Mr Speaker, it is the ChiefDirector. [Interruption.] He does thatthrough the Controller and Accountant-General, because the Controller andAccountant-General is under him. He doesthat through him.
Do you want me to throwthe same question to the Hon DeputyMinister for Finance?
Mr Speaker, he brought theBill and his position is different from mine.
Unless it has beenchanged, I know that it is the Controllerand Accountant-General that submits theaccounts to the Auditor-General forpurposes of auditing. It is not the ChiefDirector. Therefore, we should be verycareful not to make it difficult for him toperform his functions in preparing theaccounts. Let us be very careful, otherwise wewould have a Controller and Accountant-General who might not be in the positionto prepare accounts to be audited by theAuditor-General. [Pause] Yes?
Mr Speaker,first of all, when the Hon Chairman of theFinance Committee makes his contri-bution, he should indicate to us whetherhe is doing so as Chairman of theCommittee, or on his own behalf. This isbecause, on this occasion, he says thatthe position of the Hon Deputy Ministeris different from his position. Is he espousing his own personalposition or that of the Committee?[Interruption.] But he said it is differentfrom his position.
Hon Chairman, you arefiling the amendment on behalf of theCommittee? Is that not correct?
Mr Speaker, exactly so. Thisis the Committee's amendment. So, if HonMembers of the Committee are changingtheir minds, they should say so.[Laughter.]
Very well. Hon First Deputy Speaker to take theChair at this point. [Interruption.] Yes?
Mr Speaker,I believe that, in the light of what iscontained in clause 7(4), which I beg toquote: “The Controller and AccountantGeneral shall compile and managethe accounts prepared…” Yes, we have not -- but I am sayingthat it should inform what is intended tobe done in clause 7 (1). Mr Speaker, itreinforces the position that, what is thereshould be allowed to stay because, clause7 (4) would strengthen the position of theothers who have departed from theCommittee's own suggestion, and thatshould indicate to the Hon Chairman that,they are right. This is because thatdeparture is reinforced by what iscontained in clause 7 (4).
So, has he withdrawnthe amendment? [Interruption.] Yes, Hon Member for Ho Central?
MrSpeaker, if we go back to clause 5 --[Interruption.] Please, why is he saying‘ah'?
Please, Hon Member, donot go there. Are you listening? Do not go there.
Mr Speaker, if you couldlisten to me --
Hon Member for HoCentral, take your seat -- [Uproar.]
Mr Speaker, I beg to move,clause 7, subclause (4), paragraph (d),delete Mr Speaker, that has already beencaptured under clause 7 (1) and it is beingrepeated.
You have repeated it andthere is nothing wrong. Hon Member, what is wrong?
Mr Speaker, it is redundant.It has already been captured underclause 7 (1) as an advisor to the Minister,and why are we repeating it under clause7 (4)?
What is your problem?Did you hear the advice the Hon Memberfor Ablekuma West gave the House? Thatplenty meat does not spoil the soup.[Laughter.] It is not a spoilt meat; proper meat.
Mr Speaker, I am taking acue from your direction. [Laughter.]
Anyway, the Hon FirstDeputy Speaker will take the Chair. So, we have the last amendment inclause 7(4). The Hon First Deputy Speakerwould take it from there.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move,clause 7, subclause (4), paragraph (d),delete. Mr Speaker, as I explained earlier, it is arepetition under subclause (1), and weare saying that -- Sorry, it is not the samething. Under subclause (1), the Controllerand Accountant-General is the chiefadvisor.
Yes, HonMinority Leader?
Mr Speaker,I just want some clarification from theCommittee in respect of clause 7 (4) (g). Hon Chairman, if you listened to me, Isaid the subsection (4) provides; “The Controller and Accountant-General shall: (g) receive, disburse and providesecure custody for publicfunds;” Mr Speaker, my worry is, how do wejuxtapose this with the constitutionalprovision which provides in article 183 (2)(b)? “The Bank of Ghana shall -- (b) be the sole custodian of Statefunds…” Mr Speaker, but they are saying inclause 7 (4) (g) that, the Controller andAccountant-General shall “receive,disburse and provide custody of publicfunds;” Mr Speaker, how do they reconcile thetwo?
Mr Speaker, the Committeeactually debated this issue at theCommittee level, where it is stated thatthe Bank of Ghana (BoG) is theGovernment banker, where Governmentaccounts/funds are kept under custody.The Controller and Accountant-Generalreceives public funds. When the funds attention to the fact that public funds donot only mean revenue coming from theGRA. Mr Speaker, we have the IGF which isalso public funds. So, if we are to say IGF,probably we will limit the scope but I thinkit should stay --
Mr Speaker, publicfunds is defined in the Constitution, hecannot receive all of them. Public fundsas defined here, he cannot be the onlyrecipient. Check the definition. He cannot.They use public funds here and they meanIGF, the two are not the same. Mr Speaker, so, let us be careful whatwe want here. The Constitution says, theBank of Ghana shall be the sole custodian-- That is the Constitution and then theysay, ‘secure custody'. What does it mean?Let us be very clear where there areconstitutional issues. Mr Speaker, so, I think they shouldthink through it again.
HonMembers, I believe because we havedealt with it already, I will advise that theCommittee takes a second look at it. If itis possible for us to look at it at theSecond Consideration Stage, we will doso. Clause 8 ordered to stand part of theBill. Clause 9 -- Functions of Budget Office.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move,clause 9, headnote, delete “Function of” Mr Speaker, the headnote will nowread; ‘Budget Office'. This is becauseBudget Office has not been established,and why do we go straight to thefunctions? So, we have a headnote that will read;‘Budget Office' and then it follows ascaptured in the Bill -- Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 4(d), delete ‘advisor' and maintain the ‘chiefadvisor' under (1). 2. 20 p.m. --
Very well. Question put and amendment agreedto.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move,clause 7, subclause (4), add the followingnew paragraphs: “(k) provide accounting officers tocovered entities; Mr Speaker, as the Governmentaccountant, the Controller and Accoun-tant-General shall provide accounting officersto covered entities. If the Controller andAccountant-General will not provide staffof the Controller and Accountant-General's Department to covered entities,the provision of the accounting officersto covered entities should be inconsultation with the Controller andAccountant-General. Mr Speaker, the next one is, clause 7,subclause (4), add the following newparagraphs: (l) “responsible for the classificationand management of valuebooks.” Mr Speaker, value books actually havea financial value, and for that matter,they are solely responsible for themanagement and classification of thesevalue books. We are adding these twofunctions to the Controller andAccountant-General's duties. I so move. Question put and amendment agreedto. are received, they are not transferred tothe BoG immediately. They can be keptovernight and that is the custody. If wedo not provide for the Controller andAccountant-General to receive and takecustody of the funds, then what will thatmean? This is because, it receives themoney today, sometimes it takes a weekbefore the money is transferred to the BoG. Mr Speaker, so there must be a provisionfor the Controller and Accountant-Generalto also keep custody of funds until thefunds are sent to the BoG.
Mr Speaker, I am notsure the meaning of “receive funds” here.First of all, in terms of custody, theController and Accountant-General is notthe custodian. The Constitution reservesthat function to the BoG. In my mind, theController and Accountant-General is adisbursing agency, because the receiptscome from revenue. Papers aboutpayments go to the Controller andAccountant-General and he pays, he isnot supposed to receive. Receive what,cash? No. Mr Speaker, the receipt of moniescomes from the Ghana Revenue Authority(GRA). Some funds in terms of valuebooks --
Mr Speaker, there areaccounting officers at Departments andAgencies who collect revenue --Internally Generated Fund (IGF) which isGovernment money and they keep it. Mr Speaker, so, we have to be clearwhich funds we are referring to. Thebulk of money is received by the GRA,and in that case, if it is IGF, let us be clear.
Mr Speaker, I just wantedto draw the Hon Ranking Member's
Mr Speaker, a headnotecannot completely capture all the thingsunder it, as we have been legislating. Ifwe say ‘budget office' and say that ‘theMinistry shall have an office known asthe budget office' and we then follow withthe functions, then there is nothing wrongwith it. If I follow what you said, Mr Speaker,then, we should say “the establishmentof the budget office and functions.” Thatwould be too much. The headnote mustbe as simple as possible, otherwise, theheadnote would be longer than thefunctions. So, there is nothing wrong withit.
Mr Speaker, thepoint I would want to establish is that,the clause must establish the office as anentity. And if it is so established, then itmust be assigned functions. I believe that,whether we have to give it a subclause oranother function, then that would beappropriate. We establish the office andfollow it up with its functions. Inlegislating, any headnote mustappropriately reflect the contents andsubstance of that clause. Mr Speaker, thatis the point I am making.
Mr Speaker, that is exactlythe reason we have removed “Functionof” from the headnote and just put it as“Budget Office.” Then one would ask,what is budget office? And subclause (1)says that, “there shall be an office calledBudget office at the Ministry. That is theestablishment. Subclause (2) would thenstate that these are the functions of thatoffice. Period! It is better this way.
Mr Speaker,if we should make it more meaningful, andthat is where I agree with my HonColleague here, that if we do not create the office, then we could not assign to itfunctions. Therefore, we should have avery harmless clause, and for thepurposes of it being tidy, it should read“Creation of Budget Office” -- a subtitle.There shall be -- Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu -- rose --
My Hon Leader isstanding, then I should sit.
HonMinority Leader, is it on a point of order?
Mr Speaker,it is a point of information. Mr Speaker,we just dealt with clause 7 -- Controllerand Accountant- General -- that office isestablished. And the responsibilities arealso set out under clause 7 (4). So, it thecase is that when we mention ‘Controllerand Accountant -General', we would thenhave to mention ‘functions or respon-sibilities'. I think it is encapsulated.
Mr Speaker, I cannotget that from my Hon Leader. It is not clearat all. What is encapsulated?
What I saidis in clause 7 --
HonMember, he has referred you to the earlierclause -- Clause 7. If you look at thesubtitle, the office is created after that thefunctions.
Mr Speaker, what weare saying is different from the argumentthat my able Hon Leader is trying to urgeon this House. We are saying that, thereis no creation of the office, so when webox the creation of the office together withthe functions, it makes it untidy.[Interruption.] We are talking about thebudget office.
HonMember, please, look at clause 7 (3) --start with clause 7 (1) -- The creation ofthe office, then if you come to subclause(3) it states: “The Controller and AccountantGeneral shall be responsible to theMinister for the custody, safety andintegrity of public funds.” Then it goes on and on. You would seethat, the functions are stipulated there.Like you are suggesting, we actually donot need to have the establishment andanother subheading for the functions.Once we get it established, then thefunctions could follow.
Mr Speaker, Ibelieve that comparing clauses 7 and 9means that we are comparing oranges andapples. The headnote of clause 7 dealswith a position -- “Controller andAccountant-General”. It is a position butclause 9 --
HonMember, it is the same thing. What theyare trying to do is to create the positionand then follow it up with the functions.
Mr Speaker, clause9 deals with an office, an establishment,an entity, so it must have functions. MrSpeaker, but clause 7 talks about aposition. They are completely different,Mr Speaker.
HonMember, I am not an accountant, but I donot understand the line or argument thatyou are pursuing. This is because if welook at clause 7 -- Controller andAccountant-General, it starts with theestablishment of the position and so on.But when we get to subclause (4):
I do notfollow the proposal you are making.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, (1) “The Ministry shall have anoffice known as the BudgetOffice.” Mr Speaker, that will be subclause (1).Then subclause (2); “The Budget Officeshall be responsible for…” which nowbecomes the functions of the BudgetOffice, so, we are just taking off“functions” as part of the headnote. So that it will read; “Budget Office and subclause (1)establishes it and sub-clause (2)becomes the functions.”
Mr Speaker,I do not think the amendment beingproposed is appropriate. Mr Speaker, in the sense that, clause9, if we eliminate the “functions of” andmaintain “Budget Office”, it does notappropriately reflect the contents of thatclause. Just as clause 9 (2) deals withfunctions, and if you say “Budget Office”-- it is clearly stated that, there shouldbe a budget office. Mr Speaker, butsubclause (2) talks about functions but(1) does not. Mr Speaker, so the headnote mustappropriately reflect the establishment ofthe office and its subsequent functions.If we eliminate the functions aspect, I donot think we would appropriately bedealing with the contents of that clause.
Mr Speaker, I wonderwhy this Budget Office and the functionsgiven have no relation with the NationalDevelopment Planning Commission(NDPC). The business budget is doing theMedium-Term Expenditure Framework(MTEF). This budget is preferring -- after themid-year review -- but especially the firstfunction; the preparation of annualestimates and MTEF within the constraintspecified in the government fiscalstrategy document -- [Interruption.] I donot know, so you would have to informus. That was why I said that, I do not seeany relation between this budget officeand NDPC which is preparing medium andlong-term documents, spatial frameworksand all those. So, if it is somewhere, just show me.
Very well. Hon Ranking Member, could you helpus?
Mr Speaker, we do notneed to refer to the NDPC here. TheGovernment's Medium-term FiscalStrategy is derived out of that. So, we donot need to repeat it here.
Mr Speaker, that isprecisely why we should make referenceto the NDPC document, because that isthe source document. If we are derivingthe MTEF from that document, Mr “The Controller and Accountant-General shall …” Then the functions follow. Just as theyare trying to do in clause 9 -- Just leavingit as ‘Budget office', then setting up andfollowing it with ‘the functions of thebudget officer.'
Mr Speaker, Ibelieve the amendment is in order. Insteadof “Functions of Budget Office” wewould say “Budget Office”. We establishthe office and the functions follow. It issimilar to that of the Controller andAccountant-General in clause 7.
Precisely. Yes, Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker,I was just telling Hon Amoako-Attah thatif your grandmother counsels you, youdo not neglect it and say to yourgrandmother that you are going to consultyour mother. [Laughter.] Mr Atta Akyea -- rose --
Is it on apoint of order?
Mr Speaker, as ayoung Hon Member of Parliament, I amwondering how biological arrangementsshould have anything to do with tryingto tidy up a Bill for consistency sake. So,he needs to introduce ‘grandmother' welland then ‘the children' would follow. I still hold that view, but I leave it tothe House to decide.
Very well. Speaker, like you said earlier , we shouldmake reference. This is because it doesnot necessarily follow. If you follow theargument we are making today, I do notthink it would be wrong, if this, especiallycoming from an arrangement of NDPC,we should make reference.
Mr Speaker, in my opinion,we should not make reference to anyparticular document. This is because thatdocument would not last forever. So, weshould just limit it to the expenditureframework. If tomorrow we have a nationaldevelopment plan,that would be thedocument the budget office would beworking with, in coming up with theestimates and the budget. So, we shouldnot make reference to a specific documentwhich might not last forever.
Mr Speaker, I was notreferring to a specific document. I said wehave not made reference to NDPC and itswork. Yes, Government might not last,but we have decided that all parties andall governments should work within theframework of NDPC, and so they aregiving us a forty-year development planthat would break down into mid-term andmedium-term. So, I sincerely believe theNDPC should be referenced here.
HonMember, do you want to propose anamendment?
Mr Speaker, yes, eventhough I do not have it now, I wanted topropose an amendment for that mediumterm, if it is agreeable. This is because,the Hon Ranking Member was asking thelink. If he had demonstrated a link in this,there would be no need for an amendment.
Mr Speaker, I do not seethe link the Hon Member talked about interms of linking this to any medium-termdevelopment plan. This is talking aboutthe preparation of Annual Estimates anda medium-term expenditure framework. Itis not a plan; it is a framework. So, wecannot link it, to any development planlike the NDPC development plan. This office is an office at the Ministryof Finance which would come up withthe Annual Estimates and a medium-termexpenditure framework, which they wouldbe working with for that medium-term. So,let us not link it with the development planhere.
Very well,Hon Members, I would put the Question. Question put and amendment agreedto. Clause 9 as amended ordered to standpart of the Bill. Clause 10 -- Oversight of Parliament
Mr Speaker, I beg to move,clause 10, subclause (1), before“Parliament”, insert “Subject to theConstitution of Ghana”.
“Subject to the Constitution ofGhana, Parliament shall provideoversight in respect of (a), (b), (c),(d) and (e).” Mr Speaker, the Committee is of theview that, the role of Parliament in playingan oversight role over the Executive is aconstitutional matter, and for that matter,reference should be made to theConstitution, where Parliament derives itsmandate to play an oversight role in thematters numbered in (a), (b), (c), (d) and(e). Let me finish. I am saying that -- Thisis because are we able to marry what weare doing with the Constitution? That iswhat I am saying. If we are able to marrywhat we are doing with the Constitution,it becomes so obvious that with certainthings, we do not need to say them, sincewe know our responsibilities.
Yes, HonMember for Sekondi? After that, the HonDeputy Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, Iknow that if the point being made by theHon Member for Abuakwa Southextended, it might even mean that thisclause is even redundant. The Bill itself isredundant, since everything is subject tothe Constitution. These things are said so that a personwould interpret a particular clause togetherwith the provisions of the Constitution. Itdoes no harm, but it does not mean in termsof drafting it is wrong. No, so, I am urginghim to support the amendment.
Yes, HonDeputy Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I am of theview that this amendment or the clause 10as a whole is not necessary. This isbecause the Constitution has alreadyprovided what has been provided here.
“The Speaker of Parliament may assignresponsibilities …” [Interruption] Sorry,I am saying clause 10 as a whole. It isbecause if you look at subclauses (1) and(2) of clause 10 -- [Interruption.] All right, my argument is that, in clause10 the “oversight of Parliament” it is notnecessary to provide it in this Bill. Thisis because, the Constitution of Ghana, which we are subjecting it to has alreadyprovided for it, so it is not necessary.It is redundant and should not be.
But HonMember, does it do any harm if it is there?
Mr Speaker, if it is alreadyprovided for, why do we have to provideit again?
Mr Speaker, it would beuseful it he would tell us where it isprovided in the Constitution. Where is itin the Constitution so that we can followhis argument? He should tell us where itis in the Constitution. [Interruption.]
Order!Order! Yes, Hon Chairman?
Mr Speaker, under clause5, we did a similar thing, that upon theadvice of the Attorney-General andMinister for Justice. We all know theConstitution gave that mandate to theAttorney-General and Minister forJustice, to be the legal advisor to theGovernment, but we said, “upon theadvice of the Attorney-General andMinister for Justice”. Why did we do that?
Saying that subject to theConstitution, Parliament shall provide anoversight role in relation to these items,the list here might not be conclusive, andfor that matter, it is subjected to theConstitution.
Yes, HonMinority Leader?
Mr Speaker,I believe the provision in clause 10 should
Mr Speaker, this iswholly redundant. We know, and it isobvious -- [Interruption]-- thatParliament derives its power from theConstitution. Therefore, to tag onanother, meaning that “subject to theConstitution of Ghana” is redundant. I donot think it serves any purpose. This isbecause, it is known, and it is obviousthat Parliament derives its power from theConstitution. So, what are we saying?
Mr Speaker, it is true, weknow Parliament gets its power, fromthe Constitution. What has beenenumerated here as (a), (b), (c), (d) and(e), might not be all the powers thatParliament has in relation to oversight role.That is why it says ‘subject to theConstitution, Parliament shall do (a), (b),(c), (d) and (e).' If there are others whichhave not been covered here, theConstitution triggers. That is why we havemade it “subject to”. It would look as if this is whereParliament gets its power, if we do notmake it subject to the Constitution. Thatwas why we made it this way, that subjectto the Constitution, Parliament shall do(a), (b), (c), (d) and (e). If there is anotherone covered by these, then theConstitution triggers.
Mr Speaker, if any ofthe subclauses that are already unconsti-tutional, we should delete it. We shouldnot make it part of it. This is because weshould be able to understand, byourselves, that all the oversightresponsibilities here are not inconsistentwith the Constitution. We should be ableto do that. So, any attempt to say that in case whatwe are trying to do would undermine theConstitution, we might be accused oflegislative laziness, that we did not --[Interruption.]
be sufficient. This is because, theargument by the Hon Chairman of theCommittee that, we went through theclause relating to the Attorney-General --We know it is contained in theConstitution, but we did not say”subjectto the Constitution, the Attorney-Generalshall ...” So, it does no harm repeating what iseither contained or inherent in theConstitution. But to say that we aresubjecting it to the Constitution, is theissue that is being raised. Time definitelyis necessary, but I do not think that it isnecessary to introduce the prefix,”Subjectto the Constitution…” [Interruption] --I am saying that it is all right the form thatit is in the Bill. We do not need to subjectit to the Constitution because it is noteverything here that is expressly statedin the Constitution --
HonMembers, I have a little problem. If it isthere, does it spoil anything?
Mr Speaker,it does not really; except I am saying that,the argument by the Hon Member forAbuakwa South is fortified by the issueintroduced by the Chairman himself, whenhe cited the case of the Attorney-General.I said that he did not subject that clauseto the Constitution, so certain thingsstated here cannot expressly be found inthe Constitution. Some of them areinherent powers of any Parliament. Thatwas why I said we do not have to subjectit to the Constitution.
Mr Speaker, performancereporting inherently belongs to Parlia-ment. Where in the Constitution does thistalk about performance reporting? --[Interruption] -- That is why Mr Speakersaid “subject to …” does not spoilanything. Question put and amendment agreedto.
Mr Speaker,I just wanted to appeal to you to suspendSitting for some 30 minutes and come back.This is because, there are two functionsgoing on now, and many of us wouldneed to be present.
You wantSitting to be suspended?
Mr Speaker,for a brief while.
Mr Speaker, for some fewminutes. For one hour.
HonMembers, this brings us to the end ofconsideration of the Public FinancialManagement Bill, 2016, for now. Hon Members, Sitting is accordinglysuspended for one hour. 2.54 p.m. -- Sitting suspended. 5.30 p.m. -- Sitting resumed.
HonDeputy Majority Leader, what time are weadjourning today, 12.00 midnight? [Pause]
Mr Speaker, item numbered25 on the main Order Paper, PublicFinancial Management Bill, 2016, at theConsideration Stage.
ThePublic Financial Management Bill, 2016,at the Consideration Stage. What clauseare we on please?
Mr Speaker, we havefinished clause 10.
Clause11, Hon Chairman of the Committee?
BILLS -- CONSIDERATION STAGE
Mr Speaker, I beg to move,clause 11, headnote, delete “19” and insert“18”. Mr Speaker, the reference being madeis that, the clauses being affected shouldread 18, not 19, because the Committeewould propose the deletion of clause 18. Question put and amendment agreedto.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move,clause 11, subclause (1), line 1, delete “19”and insert “18”. Question put and amendment agreedto.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move,clause 11, subclause (2), line 2, delete“19” and insert “18”. Question put and amendment agreedto. Clause 11 as amended ordered to standpart of the Bill. Clause 12 -- Compliance of Government
Mr Speaker, I beg to move,clause 12, delete at a sustainable level over themedium term”. The Committee believes that it is notappropriate to legislate that; whencalculating, the only thing we need hereis to ensure that the fiscal balance ismaintained at the sustainable level overthe medium term. We should not bring it in, inmaintaining this fiscal balance, we shouldconsider when calculating withoutpetroleum revenue. That is not relevantin this context, so we propose the deletionof that phrase. Question put and amendment agreedto.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move,clause 13, add the following newsubclause: “(5) For purpose of this section,“public agency” means an entityestablished by government butnot part of a governmentdepartment which has beengiven responsibility to performa public function, is accountableto government, has some degreeof autonomy from governmentand which the government;holds the primary power ofappointment.” This is to define what “public agency”means in the context of the law.
Can Iplease ask you a few questions? First of all, I have looked at clause 13.Unless I am holding a different Bill, Icannot see clause 13, all right. Have youmentioned “public agency” anywhereelse? It says “for the purpose of thissection”, so, have you mentioned“public agency” anywhere else? Mr Speaker, this is a clause that talksabout compliance of Government, to saythe Government shall comply with thisAct. Mr Speaker, as we all know, the lawsare made for Government to comply, solegislating on it to say the Governmentshall comply with this legislation, theCommittee thinks it is not appropriate. So, we are proposing a deletion ofclause 12, that the law would definitely becomplied with.
Mr Speaker , I do notknow why the word “shall”, if we meanwell, should not be part of the Bill, so thatit becomes a matter of statutorycompliance. But if we want to say thatwe know the Government would comply,and now we want “may” inserted --
No, hewants the whole clause deleted, becausethe Government has to comply with all theActs, not just this one.
All right, I understand. Question put and amendment agreedto. Clause 12 as amended ordered to standpart of the Bill Clause 13 -- Fiscal policy principles
Mr Speaker, I beg to move,clause 13, subclause (2), paragraph (c),lines 1 and 2, delete “when calculatedwithout petroleum revenues”. Mr Speaker, the new rendition wouldread; “the following principles shall guidethe formulation and implementationof Fiscal Policy objectives, ensuringthat the fiscal balance is maintained Clause 15 -- Fiscal Strategy Document
Mr Speaker, I beg to move,clause 15, subclause (1), line 1, delete“April” and insert “May”. Mr Speaker, the Committee is of theview that, the Minister shall, not later thanend of May in each financial year, prepareand submit to Cabinet for approval, aFiscal Strategy Document. We think thatApril is not sufficient enough for theMinister to prepare this document forCabinet. So, adding one more monthwould make it more sufficient for theMinister to prepare and submit to Cabinet.
Mr Speaker,the reason I got up before you put theQuestion, I thought what we have hererepresents the end of the first quarter. Butthen, the Committee has come with May,which has no relevance as far as -- Eitherit is first quarter or maybe, the end of thesecond quarter. To say May, I am not toosure of the relevance of May inGovernment accounting circles. That iswhy -- [Interruption.] The strategy document would bebased on some relevant information,which usually have trickled in at the endof the quarter, that is why I asksubstituting May for April, I do not seeits relevance.
Mr Speaker, the thoughtwas that, normally, this document, asmuch as possible, should contain thelatest information available. It ispractically difficult to get first quarter dataat the end of April. If you want toincorporate the first quarter data, theearliest possible time you could have itis at the end of April to be able to preparethe document. April is too short toincorporate the first three quarters. Thedata would not be available. Mr Speaker, the Committee is of theview that, the plan being referred to insubclause (2), paragraph (b), and withyour permission, I beg to quote: “an updated and comprehensivemedium-term macroeconomic andfiscal forecast covering currentdevelopments and multiple yearprojections in line with the co-ordinated programmes of economicand social development policies asspecified in article 36 (5) of theConstitution.” Mr Speaker, we do not have anymedium-term national development plan,and for that matter, making reference tothe provision in the Constitution underarticle 36 (5), would make it appropriate,that the updated and comprehensivemedium-term macroeconomic and fiscalforecast, should cover coordinatedprogrammes of economic and socialdevelopment policy specified in article 36(5) of the Constitution. That is theproposal from the Committee on thissubclause. Alhaji Fuseini --rose --
Mr Speaker, it is sounwordly and it does not look tidy. Thisis because clause 15 (2) (b), says and withyour permission, I beg to quote: “an updated and comprehensivemedium-term macroeconomic andfiscal forecast covering currentdevelopments and multiple yearprojections in line with the Medium-Term National Development Plan”. So, it means that, there would be inexistence, a medium-term nationaldevelopment plan. That requirement inclause 15 (2), (b), should conform with thisexisting medium-term national develop-
Mr Speaker, yes. Insubclause (4), , paragraph (a), there is theroles and responsibilities of a publicagency. That is why we are defining“public agency”.
Thequestion is, apart from clause 13, have youmentioned “public agency” anywhere elsein the Bill?
Mr Speaker, it would bedifficult for me to know at this time.
Thereason I ask is that, you said for thepurposes of this section, which meansthat, perhaps, “public agency” is referredto in other parts of the Bill. But it is onlyfor the purpose of this section that youare defining it as such. The next question is, if you are onlydefining “public agency” under clause 13as such, then “public agency” as used inother sections, how do you define them? The last question is, why did you putit there, and not in the interpretationsection? On the basis of these questions thatyou cannot answer immediately, I wouldstand it down. Bear that in mind andanswer it. Do you have an answer? There arethree questions. Is “public agency”anywhere else in the Act? If this is theonly place where it is, then it does nothave to be for the purpose of this section.It means it is for the purpose of this Act.And if that is the case, why is it not in theinterpretation section? Why is it here? Butlet us stand it down and go to clause 14. Clause 14 ordered to stand part of theBill. 5. 40 p. m.
I will putthe Question again.
Mr Speaker,we have to be careful with the month. Forinstance, even coming here to present aBudget, the Hon Minister would not beable to deal with, maybe, the nextsucceeding month. He comes to presentthe Budget in November and usually, itis at the end of the third quarter. So, ifyou say the statistics would relate to thethird quarter, maybe, end of September,and yet the Budget would be beforeParliament in November. So, for practical purposes, if indeed,it relates to May, then perhaps, you aresaying the end of May, it may noteven be handy. This is because it is notfor nothing that you want to state amonth, and to make it relevant. I sharethe reason that is why I would want tohear from the Hon Deputy Minister, ifhe is conversant with it. We do not justhave to mention a month. So, it is for himto relate to it if he is comfortable, then, wecan deal with it.
Mr Speaker, the currentFinancial Administration Act mentionsMay. Initially, our intention was for us topush it to April, but upon furtherdeliberations and looking at the calendar,the Committee proposed that, we useMay so that, at least, we can incorporatethe first quarter data in the strategydocument. Question put and amendment agreedto.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move,clause 15, subclause (2), paragraph (b),lines 3 and 4, delete “Medium-TermNational Development Plan” and insert thefollowing: “the coordinated programmes ofeconomic and social developmentpolicies as specified in article 36 (5)of the Constitution.”
Mr Speaker, thedifficulty is the following. In theConstitution, the only place that aPresident is required to present a plan isthe coordinated programme of activities.There is no place that he is required topresent a medium-term framework plan.That medium-term framework can onlyflow out of the coordinated programme inthe Constitution. If you just say medium term, there isno obligation in the Constitution. Butthat medium term is derived out of thatco-ordinated plan, and it is changed everyyear. So, it would always exist within twoyears, after the President assumes power.That is why we want to tie it to that one.
Mr Speaker, just to supportthe point made by the Hon RankingMember, that the medium-term develop-ment plan actually flows from thisprovision in the Constitution. That is, itis a coordinated programme of economicand social development. That is why theCommittee thinks that we should just liftwhat we have in the Constitution andbring it here. What the Minister wouldupdate on should be in line with co-ordinated programmes of economic andsocial development policy, as capturedin article 36 (5) of the Constitution.
Mr Speaker,indeed, the medium-term developmentframework or plan, flows from thecoordinated plan for social and economicpolicies. But then these policies asprescribed by article 36 (5) of the not a manifesto for a political party. Eventhough the Government has one in placenow, you cannot use that in making thelaw. You must take the constitutionalvision which requires every Governmentto create this situation and I believe thatthis is the best way we can capture it ratherthan talk about a framework which is ourown coinage. A government can decideit is a framework and another governmentcan come and say it is a programme.
Mr Speaker, when hewas speaking, he agreed that the medium-term framework flows out of the co-ordinated plan. But nowhere in any law,or Constitution have we mentionedmedium term frame works. Governmentshave operationalised the medium-termframework, flowing from the co-ordinated.So, you cannot just say the Medium-termframework, nobody can be held accoun-table for it. You are held accountable forthe coordinated plan, and you create yourmedium term out of it. That is why we aretied into it, otherwise, it is not binding.
Mr Speaker, yes, Ihave known it to be an agenda fortransformation. After reading the smallprint, because the big print is actually thecoordinated programme of social andeconomic development policies. I haveknown it as an agenda for transformation.
HonBagbin, before you came, I am sure youwere monitoring. While you were on yourway, the question that was asked was that,yes, we have this, but is there any lawthat puts an obligation on Government todo a medium-term national developmentplan? Some Hon Members were of the viewthat the only obligation the constitutionalprovision puts on Government is to stateprogrammes and intentions. It does notnecessarily have to cost it. So, I intend todo this or that. ment plan. That is what it said. Then youseek to substitute it with a provision inarticle 36 (5). I was just looking for myConstitution. Article 36 (5) appears to bepart of the directive principles of StatePolicy, which has its own jurisprudentialproblems -- [Interruption.] Well, the Supreme Court has variouslyheld that, these provisions are not theirguiding principles.
No, thathas changed. That is the Old Testament.
The Old Testament?The New Testament says that, they arejusticiable.
Is there in existence aco-ordinated programme of economic andsocial development policies as specifiedin article 36 (5)? There has to be but ifthere is no such programme -- I do notknow of that programme existing here. The medium-term development plan isin existence -- [Interruption]-- Yes,the National Development PlanningCommission.
He raiseda very interesting point, let us understandhim. You have all this vision 2020 andothers, then we have the variousprogrammes. What do we seek to achievehere?
My understanding ofclause 15 (2) (b) is that they want tobenchmark assessment of the things thatare captured in clause 15 (2) (b). They arebenchmarking it to an existing Medium- Constitution, are just statements of intentby the Government. They are not costed,and do not contain any strategy. Themedium-term development plan is thatplan which the Government actuallyimplements, which is costed and in whichmost of the things as mentioned in clause15 of the Bill, can be captured. So, I would recommend that, to make itmore simple for us to understand, orcapture the essence of clause 15 of theBill, we should maintain Medium-TermDevelopment Plan. This is because it isthe plan which is being implemented bythe Government. The social and economicpolicies are just statements of intent,which are then expanded in the medium-term development plan.
Can I askyou a question? Where in the Constitutionor any law, does it place an obligation onthe Government to do a medium termdevelopment plan?
It is the coordinatedprogrammes of economic and socialdevelopment policies, which thisdocument is the only document which ismentioned in the Constitution. But then,if you want a proper document whichcaptures the essence of these policies andstatements of intent, then it is the mediumterm development plan.
So, yousaid that is why that was the wording usedin the first place. So, you are notsupporting the proposed amendment?
Mr Speaker, I amsurprised he is not supporting --
Mr Speaker, Isupport the proposed amendment. Thisis because the way it is crafted, everyGovernment that comes -- It is a law, it is
What I said was that,the economic and social programmes orpolicies, as required by the Constitution,for any Government to prepare within twoyears of coming into power, contain justthe statements of intentions of theGovernment. They do not containstrategies and are not costed. Therefore,it would be very difficult to implement. It is the medium-term development planwhich is prepared by every Governmentand costed, and contains strategieswhich are then implemented annually.These are the plans which are alsomonitored. I agree that there is no legalrequirement and that is probably --
If thereis no legal requirement and governmentshave been doing it out of the goodnessof their hearts, then do you not have anopportunity now to make it a legalrequirement in the Act? You have to do article 36 (5) of theConstitution; the coordinated programmeand out of that programme, there is themedium-term. Hon Deputy Minister for Finance, arewe at a meeting of minds?
Mr Speaker, the medium-term framework is a subset of the co-ordinated programmes for economic andsocial development policies. Therefore, Ibelieve if we are to maintain this one, it isbroader than the medium-term framework.
If agovernment just ends at article 36 (5) ofthe Constitution, without doing themedium-term within a time frame -- Lawsare not made for good people, but for allkinds of people.
Mr Speaker, normally, onewould first of all have to come out withthis coordinated programme first beforeone would use the input of this co-ordinated programme to come out withthe medium-term programme. So, I strongly believe that, yes, weshould make reference to this. Without thisdocument, we cannot come out with themedium-term programme.
HonMember, I also strongly believe the same.But I am just asking, do you not have tomention also, that in addition to this, thereshould be a medium-term programme?
Mr Speaker, I wouldwant to propose some amendments whichmight meet -- If that is what we wouldwant to do.
No! HonMember, I do not want to do anything. Ijust want to help --
Mr Speaker, please, Idid not say “you”, I said “we”. Then we would have to go back toclause 14.
HonMember, you would have to talk about itfirst, so that we all know what you wouldwant to do.
All right, Mr Speaker. In clause 14 (1), we can insert.
Mr Speaker, my initialdifficulty was substituting thephraseology that is contained in theamendment with just four or five words-- Medium-Term Development. But I havecome to realise that they are talking aboutthe same things. Indeed, I have been helped out of myconfusion by the Hon Majority Leader,who has graciously supplied me with theMedium-Term National DevelopmentFramework Policy over the years. Mr Speaker, we have been using theGhana Shared Growth and DevelopmentAgenda (GSGDA). Both I and II wereMedium-Term Development PolicyFrameworks, and both emanated fromarticle 36 (5) of the Constituion, and bothwere statements that were made by H. E.the President in fulfilment of article 36 (5)of the Constitution. So, I believe that basically, they aretalking about the same things -- Exceptthat they are trying to give itconstitutional backings. I believe the amendment as it is, is inorder.
Mr Speaker,first of all, the clause 15 (1) of the Billprovides that, and with your permission,I beg to quote: “The Minister shall, not later thanthe end of April of each financialyear, prepare and submit to Cabinetfor approval, a Fiscal StrategyDocument.” Then, clause 15 (2) says and with yourpermission, I beg to quote: “The Fiscal Strategy Documentshall specify”. Mr Speaker, we are talking about FiscalStrategy Document. Is it for the FiscalStrategy Document to even use thelanguage in the Constitution? Is it for it “In fiscal framework consistent withthe co-ordinated programme ofactivities”. Then we can have a new clause 14 (3),which would be; “There shall be prepared a Medium-Term National Development Planconsistent with the Co-ordinatedPlans”. Mr Speaker, if we do it that way, thenwe are requiring it. As of now, it is notrequired anywhere. [Interruption] -- MrSpeaker, we are making it a socialprogramme, that is being required of aPresident. So, I said that: “The prime Fiscal Policy objectiveof Government is to ensure themacroeconomic stability of thecountry within the macroeconomicand fiscal framework subject toarticle 36 (5)”. [Interruption] -- Alhaji Fuseini-- rose --
Mr Speaker, my initialobjection --
Mr Speaker, the NationalDevelopment Plan --
HonAkoto Osei, I thought you had finished.
No, Mr Speaker. The Hon Member said there is anational development plan, and I askedwhere it is in the Constitution.
Mr Speaker, we are notasking the Hon Minister or the Presidentto submit a co-ordinated programme of economic and social development policyevery year. No! We said that the Hon Minister shallprepare a fiscal strategy document. Thisdocument shall have an updated andcomprehensive medium-term macro-economic and fiscal forecast, coveringthe current developments and multipleyear projections, in line with the co-ordinated programme of economic andsocial development policies. So, this is not what we are askingthem to do. It is the Fiscal StrategyDocument, but it should be done in linewith this. That is what we are talkingabout.
HonMembers, everybody has had his say, weshould allow democracy to have its way. Question put and amendment agreedto.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move,clause 15, subclause (2), paragraph (f),delete and insert the following: “Medium Term Debt ManagementStrategy including debt sustainabilityanalysis and sensitivity analysis ofmacro-fiscal risk scenarios”.
Mr Speaker, in the Bill, wehave a debt sustainability analysisincluding sensitivity analyses. But we areadding that it should be a Medium-TermDebt Management Strategy that wouldinclude debt sustainability analysis andsensitivity analysis of macro-fiscal riskscenarios.
Mr Speaker, gradually, weare turning law making into somethingelse. We are doing economic analysis inlaw. Mr Speaker, what does Medium-
Mr Speaker, Hon DrMatthew Opoku Prempeh, with his medicalbackground, is trying to deprive us oflegal fees. [Laughter.] What is he saying?How would we be consulted to earnmoney if it is not complex? And so, heshould please, be careful.
Mr Speaker, it goes toshow that what we have run away from iscoming back; “operation creep”. MrSpeaker, he wants to earn money and sothe law should be as confusing andcomplicated as the number of hairs on ourheads. The Hon Chairman wouldunderstand, and I can also understand,and thank God, I am not an economist. Iwant them to explain this so that I canhelp them approve it. What do they meanby this?
Mr Speaker, I would wantto remind Hon Dr Matthew OpokuPrempeh that, there were medical termswhen we were making the law coveringthe National Health Insurance. He was theonly one who understood them and wedid not say anything. These are economicterms and he has to live with them.
HonChairman, one Hon Member remarked,not in the microphone, but I heard that;“this one we are writing economics textbook”. [Laughter.]
Mr Speaker,admittedly, we may be requiring a lot interms of what the Minister — We shouldkeep in mind that this is not anybody. Thisis for the Hon Minister for Finance. Andso, we must know that if one assumesthat position, there is some minimumthing. I am not saying one has to be aneconomist. But it is the responsibility ofthat Minister to do basic things for thefiscal policy to work. Mr Speaker, he does not have to knowit, and that is why there are technicalpeople. In doing this fiscal thing, one ofthe key issues is debt sustainabilityanalysis.[Interruption.] We went from 32per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP)to 72 per cent.
No, no,we are not dealing with that.
Mr Speaker, so, we arerequiring the Hon Minister to dosomething to make sure that we staywithin the policy framework. Andanywhere one goes, any Minister forFinance at the minimum would be requiredto do this. It is not for everybody. It isthe Minister for Finance. And so, we havethe Minister for Finance, and they cannothire people who cannot do this, then wesack them. Mr Speaker, for instance, if one is adoctor and he or she cannot take bloodpressure, should we hire him or her? Wecannot hire him or her. They are basic.
Mr Speaker, I rise insupport of the last contributer, and insupport of the amendment. Mr Speaker, this is Parliament and weare imposing a responsibility on theMinister to engender confidence in oureconomy, and that every year that he
proposed amendment that puts a hyphenbetween “macro” and “fiscal”.
Mr Speaker, I really wantto ask the Hon Chairman, if he holds adifferent Bill. This is because, it is just theamendment you just called; and it says,delete “macro fiscal” and insert “macro-fiscal”. Mr Speaker, it is “micro fiscal” with ahyphen in the Bill that I have in my hand.
Mr Speaker, it is paragraph(h) on page 13. Clause 15 as amended ordered to standpart of the Bill. Clause 16 — Fiscal policy indicators
Mr Speaker, I beg to move,clause 16, subclause (1), line 3, after “with”add “the following indicators”. Mr Speaker, this is just to show thatthe fiscal compliance by government withfiscal policy objectives, fiscal policyprinciples and other requirements shall beaccessed in accordance with thefollowing; and so, we are only adding“the following indicators”. [Pause.] Question put and amendment agreedto.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move,clause16, subclause (1), paragraph (b),delete “one” and insert “two”. Mr Speaker, it reads; “any two of thefollowing…” Question put and amendment agreedto.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move,clause 16, subclause (1), paragraph (b),delete “ten” and insert “five”.
Mr Speaker, the Ministryshall review the fiscal policy indicatorsspecified in subsection (1), every fiveyears.
Mr Speaker,I agree that the ten-year period is too long.Why not four but five years? This isbecause four years represent the end of atenure of a particular administration.
I do notknow whether your Hon Colleagues canhear you, because I can hardly hear you.
Mr Speaker,there is a serious conversation going onthere, and I do not know whether theyare listening. Mr Speaker, I agree that the ten-yearperiod is too long a span. Four yearswould be most appropriate, given the factthat a Government is elected to serve forfour years and at the end of the fouryear period, the Ministry would need toassess the impact of that medium-termpolicy which would last for four yearsanyway. So, why the five years? Mr Speaker, I believe that the reviewshould be done at the end of the year. MrSpeaker, I do not believe in this theory ofoverlapping, because we do BudgetStatement on the short-terms for one year,and we religiously do so at the end of theyear. I do not see why we should grantourselves another one year to do thereview. The medium-term policy and programmeis for four years and if it needs to bereviewed, it must be done within thatperiod. Do not forget that the President, writes the report, he must satisfy Cabinetand the people of Ghana by doing a debtsustainability analysis, so that the peopleof Ghana would know that, at thisparticular stage, this is the debt of thecountry and whether that debt issustainable, whether or not he is notmoving us into HIPC by the accumulationof debt. Mr Speaker, he must also tell us howour economy would respond, howsensitive is the debt to the performanceof our economy, so that, at least, policyand decision makers would be guided bythis debt sustainability analysis. Mr Speaker, I believe it is a good thingto impose that responsibility on a FinanceMinister and I rise in support of theamendment. Question put and amendment agreedto.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move,clause 15, subclause (2), paragraph (h),line 2, delete “macro fiscal” and insert“macro-fiscal”.
HonChairman, since I came to assume theChair, I have been at pains to see thedifference between the original and whatyou have proposed to insert. In fact, I justnoticed that it is the hyphen. Hon Chairman, you think that just ahyphen should catch our attention somuch that it should be brought here?Should I not direct that the draftspersonstake that?
Mr Speaker, you can directthe draftspersons but --
I directthat the draftspersons implement the in introducing it, may not have brought itin his first year, but rather into his secondyear. So, the assessment certainly wouldeven overlap into the next Administration.So, why the five years? I believe itshould be at the end of every four years.The overlap would be guaranteed anyway.So, it should be four years, as thePresident may not introduce it in his firstyear, and it usually happens in thesecond year. I cannot believe in a five-year period.
Mr Speaker, in fact, hislast statement is the reason we shouldmake it five years. This is because withintwo years, one could decide to do it in thefirst year. Mr Speaker, I have always believed thatgiven the chance as a Parliament, weshould work in a way that consolidatesour democracy. To consolidate thedemocracy, we should give opportunityto others to assess us. If at the end of thefive years -- The ten years appear to betoo long, that the indicators would havebeen lost in the first place and we mightnot be able to keep track of them. So, I support the five years more,because it gives opportunity, first, to theGovernment if it wins its second-term.Second, it gives the opportunity toanother Government to assess theperformance. The Government thatimplements the medium-term developmentframework knows that its performancewould be assessed by another regime.That puts a responsibility on thatGovernment that implements the medium-term development framework.
Mr Speaker, fiveyears have been recommended, but Iwould go down a bit further andrecommend three years for the followingreasons: Governments in Ghana areelected for a four-year period. If we give afive-year period, it could mean that a
If it is not good, then it can have anew indicator. So, it is not a plan at all;it is just a policy indicator.
If a Government reviewsthe indicators, and in its third or fourthyear, it sets new indicators, it would befor five years. If the Government reviewsit in November, for our Budget and sets itfor the next five years, and it loses thenext general elections, because it set it forfive years, the hands of that nextGovernment would be tied. That is why Isaid no fiscal indicator should overlap aGovernment.
Mr Speaker, these are fiscalpolicy indicators; they are not targets. Itis out of these indicators that you wouldnormally set targets. Mr Speaker, again, the indicators wehave here are of world standard, anexample of which is the ECOWASConvergence Criteria. These indicatorsare internationally benchmarked andtherefore, we think that if we are to reviewit, in every three or four years, it would betoo rampant. We need to look at it. Initially, I was of the view that the tenyears should be maintained, but if we aresaying that the ten years is too long, Ithink we could do with the five years thatthe Committee has proposed. Within it,you can change the target every year orevery half a year, but the indicators shouldbe maintained.
What isthe purpose of the indicators?
Mr Speaker, if you look atclause 16 --
I haveread it. What is the purpose?
Mr Speaker, the purposeis to make sure that, if for instance, Mr“A” says that non-oil primary or fiscalbalance as a percentage of GrossDomestic Product (GDP) should notexceed a certain amount -- Mr Speaker,this is to make sure that the countrystays within the debt sustainability limit. Again, this is to make sure that we donot overrun our Budget to a level that weaccumulate debt continuously, wherebya time would come that we cannot evenpay debts.
So, if itis only on indicators, the reason youbrought it down from ten years to fiveyears is because, you do not want it to betoo long, between one review andanother review, so that, by the time youdo the review, things might havecollapsed, so to speak. Three years is not attractive in such away that it is too much. Somebody hasproposed three years, but I just wouldwant you to address that, so, I can putthe Question.
Mr Speaker, I wouldlike to revise my suggestion.
All right;revise it, Hon Dr Appiah Kubi.
Mr Speaker, I wouldlike to revise my suggestion and go alongyour line by siding with you aboutwhether this subclause is necessary. I do not see the essence of thissubclause. In any case, fiscal policy is astabilisation policy and stabilisationpolicies are always for the short-term. Anypolicy that exceeds three years is no longera short-term policy. Secondly, stabilisation policies arereviewed annually by the existingGovernment. Government reviews itsmicroeconomic policies annually. Eventhough, it sets the framework for themedium-term period, it reviews thatannually. So, I do not see the essence forsuch a clause.
Mr Speaker, I am notaware that fiscal policy is always for ashort-term. Tax policy cannot always beon a short-term basis. How is it short-term? We collect tax all the time, so, howcan he say fiscal policy is short-term?Government spends all the time; thatcannot be short-term. Mr Speaker, let us understand why weintroduced this clause. First of all, theassessment that is to be done has nosanctions anywhere. Any Governmentthat wants to keep its people in goodshape should have a framework ofassessing itself. That is what is being donehere. We would notice that, there is noportion that says if we miss it, wewould get sanctioned. But if we keepthese indicators on path, we would bethere. So, Mr Speaker, notice that they arefive indicators; the initial assessment isonly on three. An ambitious Government may reviseit to all five, to show that it is doing well.So, it is a challenge to governments toassess themselves. If fiscal policies areon track, the minimum that must happenis that these indicators --
Thankyou very much, Hon Akoto Osei. Government elected for four years wouldnot have the opportunity to review anotherGovernment's fiscal policy, or make any inputinto that fiscal policy. However, if we wereto make it three years, that would provideenough room for even the Minority tomake inputs into any fiscal policy ofanother Government. So, I wouldrecommend a three-year period.
Mr Speaker, the fiveyears would not have been bad. But cometo think of it, after the third five-year cycle,the Government would, for the wholeperiod of four years, be working onsomebody's previous five-year plan. So,it means that a government would comeinto power, and if this law is at stake, afterthe first five years, that Government --[Interruption]--Let me finish. Mr Speaker, I would want us tointroduce the following term, that noGovernment's fiscal policy plan shouldoverlap another government. A Govern-ment should not start something in thefifth year, if it has the chance to review aplan. A Government in its fourth year thatreviews the plan and implements it wouldmean that, if it loses that election, thenext Government, for the whole of thefour years should be tied. So, I do notthink that is right if we leave it just at fiveyears. We should tie it to the term of agovernment.
Mr Speaker, I just want tolet my Colleague, Hon Prempeh know that,this is not a plan. It is a fiscal policyindicator and not a plan. We are sayingthat, a Government should review theindicator every five years. If it is evenone, two or 10 per cent, it should justreview it every five years. If theGovernment thinks that the 10 per cent isstill good for us as an indicator, it canmaintain it.
So, why do we then consign andconfine ourselves to five years, if indeed,we are talking about three years? My HonColleague said that it could be for threeyears. If it is for three years, why do wesay that the indicator should be for fiveyears? If it is for five years, it should apply. Mr Speaker, we have a time span. Itcould be done for any time, between threeand five years. So, if it is for three years,let the indicators apply to the three-yearperiod, because the assessment wouldcover the three-year period. Four years, yes; and five years, yes.So, I now see why we cannot even pinourselves to five years. It is because wehave not amended this and we aresaying that it could be done for anytimebetween three and five years. If it is so,why do we say that it should be reviewedevery five years, if we fashion forourselves a three-year plan? So, Mr Speaker, we must be careful.
Mr Speaker, the HonMinority Leader is making reference to theFiscal Strategy Document. In fact, whatwe are discussing here relates to the FiscalPolicy Indicators. Mr Speaker, for instance, what we aresaying is that, Government needs toassess itself using these indicators. Wemade reference to that wage bill as apercentage of tax revenue, as we haveinternational averages. So, we would haveto assess ourselves to make sure that ourwage bill, as a percentage to tax revenuedoes not exceed certain limits perinternational benchmarks. Another example is capital expenditureas a percentage of total expenditure. Wewould want to make sure that it is within-- My view is that, if we are to review this downwards from five to three years,it would be too rampant. Apart from that,when we go to clause 17, it deals withtargets. At the target level, we can review thetargets annually or even fortnightly, orhalf-yearly. That is target. But I think thatwith the indicators, we should maintainthe five years as the Committee hasproposed. Question put and amendment agreedto. Clause 16 as amended ordered to standpart of the Bill. Clause 17 -- Cabinet to adhere totargets in Fiscal Strategy Document
HonMembers -- Hon Avedzi, this is not a Committee. Isaw that you were calling the House toorder. I thank you for your assistance butthis is not a Committee meeting. Hon Members, we are waiting for you.[Pause.] Clause 17, Hon Chairman of theCommittee?
Mr Speaker, I beg to move,clause 17, opening phrase, delete “The”and insert “Subject to article 76 (2) of theConstitution”: Mr Speaker, the new rendition willread --
Insteadof the new rendition, tell us why.
Mr Speaker, subject toarticle 76 (2) of the Constitution --
The Cabinet shall --
Tell us,why do you want to subject it to article 76(2)?
Mr Speaker, we aresubjecting it to that article because thereference made to Cabinet here is coveredunder article 76 (2) of the Constitution.
Thankyou. Question put and amendment agreedto. Dr Prempeh --rose --
Do youhave an amendment to clause 17?
Mr Speaker, myamendment is to replace the word,“Cabinet” with “the President”. Mr Speaker, on what basis would thislaw, when we pass it, cover Cabinet.
HonMembers, I know that question arose thismorning.
Mr Speaker and we stoodit down.
I did notfollow it to the end, whether it is Cabinetor President. So, I would stand it down. Ido not know how it was resolved thismorning but I know the question wasargued forcefully on the floor. I also have my own views, but they donot matter when I am Sitting in this Chair. So, I will stand clause 17 down. I believe the purpose of ConsiderationStage is to let people present their viewson proposed amendments. It is not tohave a debate ad infinitum. I have to put this matter to a vote. Thisis because, clearly, there are disagree-ments. The only way we can resolve it isby voting. Of course, when thefrontbenchers rise, my hands are tiedand I would have to recognise them. Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker,I believe we are all relating to thejustification for using five or ten years. Isuggested that because a government'sown medium-term plan would relate to theregime of that government, that is, fouryears. Perhaps, four years would be abetter way of assessing or applying theindicators. That is why I said so. But Mr Speaker,in clause 15 (2) (a), which has not beenamended, we are talking about fiscalpolicy which then fits into the strategydocument. It provides and with yourpermission, I beg to quote: “(2) The Fiscal Strategy Document shallspecify: (a) the Medium-Term Fiscal Frameworkof the Government with measurablefiscal objectives and targets toguide short and medium-termfiscal planning for theensuing three to five-yearperiod…” So, we are talking about anytimebetween three and a five-year period.
Article 108 is actuallyon the settlement of financial matters.
So, theletter and spirit of the Constitution is clear;the responsibility of financial matters, inthe light of the articles we have read, isthe President's. So, why are we trying to make itCabinet's?
Mr Speaker, Iunderstand your sentiments. Mr Speaker, it appears that, it is only inthe exercise of executive authority that thePresident is equated to “Government”.This is because the Constitution providesthat executive authority shall vest in thePresident. Article 295 collaborates executiveauthority to Government; the power bywhich governance is exercised. So, Ibelieve that, in the exercise of executiveauthority, the President is equated toGovernment. Mr Speaker, but what the amendmentseeks to do is on the deliberative functionof Cabinet in assisting the President totake executive decisions. Cabinet must beminded to exercise its deliberativefunction in accordance with these laiddown principles. Mr Speaker, it is in accordance withclause 17, which is on making decisionswith implication for public finances,determining, formulating, implementingthe policies of Government and inperformance of any function conferred onit by the Constitution or any Act. Mr Speaker, so it is my firm belief that,the legal basis for the existence of Cabinetis article 76 of the Constitution. It makes itmandatory; “There shall be…” So, thePresident of this Republic cannot operatewithout a Cabinet.
HonMembers, on that note, I would stand itdown. Let us progress to speed the purpose. The Hon Majority and MinorityLeaders have not spoken. When I look attheir faces, they all have their views. Hon Members, but let us step it down.So that we just continue very fast. I amsure we will come to it. Hon Members, arguably -- He is noteven an Hon Member of Parliament andhe is engaging in serious conversation. Heis assisting in making sure that -- All right. Hon Members, arguably, this is one ofthe most important Bills we are doing. Thewhole economy is somehow hinged onthis Bill. So, whenever there is somecontroversy, we would want to step itdown, so that there is discussion and thenwe come to a conclusion. I think enough views have beenexpressed. I will step clause 17 down. Hon Majority Leader, I was informedthat the Hon First Deputy Speaker has aReport to present. Should we suspend theConsideration Stage so that he presentshis Appointments Committee Report? I know he has been Sitting sincemorning.
Mr Speaker, none that Iknow of, there is no Report to be presentedtoday. Mr Speaker, I think it would be donetomorrow.
Mr Speaker,copies are being printed. We would wantto make sure copies would be ready forthe Table Office before the laying is done.[Interruption.] Mr Speaker, I said that the Report isready, but it is being printed. Therefore,we would want copies to be available tothe Table Office before we lay it. That isthe reason.
Mr Speaker, so, I am rightin saying that I do not have thatinformation. Mr Speaker, we wanted to get toclause 20.
HonMembers, clause 17 has been steppeddown. Clause 18 -- Fiscal strategydocuments to bind Government.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move,clause 18, delete.
HonChairman, why do you want to deleteclause 18?
Did it notarise?
Mr Speaker, I believe theyare in different contexts, so, we cannotjust stand it down. We need to know why it happened thatway. This is because the one which wasstood down was that we should add“President” to “Cabinet”. Here, we aremaking reference to article 76.
HonBagbin, what legal responsibility doesCabinet have to determine or look at fiscalstrategies? What is their responsibility inall this? What legal responsibility does ithave? We should look at article 54 of theConstitution. We have an ExecutivePresidency. We cannot introduce the Westminstertype of Government through the backdoor. We should look at article 57 of theConstitution; let us read it. Can you please, read it out to us?
Mr Speaker, with yourpermission article 58 (1) says that: “The executive authority of Ghanashall vest in the President and shallbe exercised in accordance with theprovisions of this Constitution.”
Please,read the article that deals with, “Thereshall be a Cabinet which shall consist…”
Mr Speaker, with yourpermission article 76 (1) and (2) reads:
Mr Speaker, we aredeleting it because the Committee thinksthat, to say the fiscal strategy documentas approved by Cabinet is binding onGovernment, subject to section 19, makesit a provision which definitely,Government would have to follow. Why do we want to say that it shall bebinding on the Government? It is notnecessary to say so. This law itself is made for Governmentto comply with, so, we do not need to saythat it shall be binding on Government.
Early on,you proposed an amendment to delete asimilar clause.
Mr Speaker, that is right.
HonMinority Leader, can I put the Questionor I should hold my horses? I see youshaking your head.
Mr Speaker,I thought the earlier one related toclause12 which provides that: “The Government shall comply withthis Act and the Regulations: (a) Formulating and implement-ing the Fiscal Policy; and (b) managing public finances andresources”. Mr Speaker, this is a similar provision.If you look at clause 17, it is looser. Itsays: “The Cabinet shall, adhere to thetargets…” Mr Speaker, “adherence” does notnecessarily translate -- [Interruption] -- We were not debating that preamble. Mr Speaker, “adherence” is looser than“strict compliance”. We should be careful.This Bill is made for Government or thestakeholders to comply with, and we aredeleting all those provisions and sayingthat they should adhere. I am not sure thatis the way to go.
Thankyou very much, Hon Minority Leader. Hon Chairman, have your viewschanged on the matter? Can you speakinto the microphone?
Mr Speaker, no. Hon Minority Leader, it does notmatter, because Galileo has said that oneperson can be right and the whole worldwrong. So, it does not matter. If it is onlyyou saying no, it does not matter; you arebold in your “no”. So, I am happy aboutthat. Question put and amendment agreedto. Clause 18 as amended ordered to standpart of the Bill.
There is noadvertised amendment. I am just lookingat the opening --
What areyou just looking at?
Mr Speaker,the opening, clause 19 (1) which says: “Subject to this section, a fiscaltarget or rule provided for in theFiscal Strategy Document may besuspended with prior writtenapproval of Cabinet…” Mr Speaker, why are we subjecting thesection to that same section? What is thesense in that? It does not make sense.
Mr Speaker, I think theconditions before the suspension isprovided in clause 19 (1) (a) (i) and (ii). Itsays that; “… a fiscal target or rule providedin the Fiscal Strategy Documentmay be suspended with the priorwritten approval of Cabinet where: (a) any of the following eventsoccur: (i) a natural disaster, public healthepidemic.. (ii) an unanticipated severe economicshock…” Mr Speaker, when these conditionsoccur then we can suspend the target andrule that -- [Pause] --
Mr Speaker, I agreewith the Hon Minority Leader. We do notneed the words, “subject to this section”in clause 19 (1). Mr Speaker, we are spelling out theconditions under which we can suspendrules or targets and it is that section thattalks about -- We need to subject it tothat again. Mr Speaker, in clause 19, you will seethat it says,”Subject to section 19". Wehave deleted clause 18 and we do notneed this “subject to this section” here. Itshould not be there.
Mr Speaker, I have acontrary view. It appears that the provisionis self-contained. In the sense that it isonly when the situation specified in section 19 occurs that we can suspendthe document. Mr Speaker, there could be othersections where situations can occur; andwhere situations of those sections occur,you cannot suspend the document. Thatis why they have made it “subject to” andit is self-contained in the provision. Mr Speaker, this clause is a self-contained remedy. This is an existingdocument which can be affected by thoseevents. So, that is why they added the“subject to this section”. It gives it thepower to suspend the document onlywhen those situations occur. That is whatit tries to do. Mr Speaker, if we are going to write aletter to suspend it, we can only say,“subject to…” Mr Speaker, that is theintendment.
Mr Speaker, I do notknow what the Committee wants us to do.In one breadth, the Committee wants tobind Cabinet to this fiscal strategy; andin the same breadth, it does not bindGovernment because it has been deleted. Mr Speaker, what is the differencebetween Cabinet and Government? Wedeleted clause 18, but in clause 19 wesay, if the targets and severe shock occurs,the Hon Minister should write to theSecretary to Cabinet, stating why he orshe wants to deviate. This is not bindingon Government, so, why bother? Mr Speaker, “you cannot eat your cakeand have it”.
Why is itnot binding?
Mr Speaker, this isbecause they have deleted clause 18.
Mr Speaker, I agree to theproposed rendition that we delete“Subject to this section”. The sentence will begin with; “A fiscaltarget or rule…” Mr Speaker, I support the amendment. Question put and amendment agreedto. Clause 19 as amended ordered to standpart of the Bill. Clause 20 -- Salary negotiations forpublic sector
Mr Speaker, I beg to move,clause 20, subclause (1), paragraph (a),line 3, delete “31st of May of thepreceding” and insert “end of April of thecurrent financial”.
“(1) The Minister shall ensure that:
I assumethat the discussion going on has nothingto do with this and so, I would put theQuestion. Question put and amendment agreedto. Mr Speaker, it makes sense. Mr Speaker, “subclause 2 (1) (a), line 3,delete “May” and insert “July”.”
“Where salary and other compen-sation negotiations in respect of thepublic sector are not completed bythe 31st of July”. Mr Speaker, that is when the tripartitehas a deadline -- They have agreed.[Interruption] -- Hon Chairman of theFinance Committee, yes, I have read it.
Mr Speaker, there aretwo proposed amendments. The first one,I believe that because he is in charge oflabour negotiations. The Hon Ministerfor Finance cannot move it withoutconsulting him, so, I do not disagree. MrSpeaker, but on the issue of the dates, wewould need to step that down and let themconsult again, so that we are clear in ourminds. Mr Speaker, I think the first one iscorrect. We are not going to finish today,so, we should step it down. It could becontentious. Alhaji Fuseini -- rose --
Mr Speaker, I believethey need to go back because this is afundamental change. In one vein you saidthat the “preceding year” -- And you arenow saying the “current year”. So, in oneyear -- Why are you moving it from --[Interruption] -- Yes, you are changingit and we would need to understand whyyou are changing it. In the law, it says“preceding year” -- [Interruption] -- Allright.
HonChairman of the Committee?
Mr Speaker, I beg to move,clause 20, subclause (1), line 2, delete“31st of May” and insert “end of”: “Where salary and other compensa-tion negotiations in respect of thepublic sector are not completed bythe end of May of the current fiscalyear, the Fiscal Strategy Documentprepared for the ensuing fiscal yearshall state …” Question put and amendment agreedto.
Mr Speaker, it isunfortunate that the Hon Minister forEmployment and Labour Relations is nothere. This is because during the SecondReading -- I supported him -- Heindicated that, with clause 20, we wouldhave to make reference to the HonMinister for Employment and LabourRelations. This is because the Fair Wages andSalary Structure is by law, and there isthe Tripartite Committee which is underhis auspices, so, giving this function toonly the Hon Minister for Finance maybe problematic. He is not present, and soI would plead that if we could withhold-- [Interruption] -- It does not matter. Itis important -- Mr Speaker, he hassubmitted an amendment to the TableOffice. We should not do that. There is abit of traction in what he is saying.
“Clause 20 (1), line 1, after “shall”insert “with prior consultation withthe Minister responsible forEmployment and Labour Relations”.
Hon (Dr)Prempeh, all the laws that we make here,we do not need a provision that says;“this law is binding” to make it binding.
Mr Speaker, you are right.In this law, clause 18 says,”Fiscal StrategyDocument to bind Government”.
I amsaying that we deleted it.
It is deleted because itis meaningless. The proponents did notmake much meaning when they broughtit. Is that what you are saying? Mr Speaker, clause 17 was about“Cabinet to adhere to targets”. But shouldthe Government not adhere to targets? Weare separating Government and Cabinetin this same document. There is a reasonand we should ask the proponents whythey decided to separate Cabinet fromGovernment.
Hon (Dr)Prempeh, the person who brought theproposed amendment is the Hon Chairmanof the Committee who is, first of all,representing the policy -- What theCommittee says -- I do not know whoelse we should ask. Whether it is the Hon Chairman, or anHon Member, it does not change myposition.
Mr Speaker, I agree withthe Hon Minority Leader that we shouldnot subject this to itself. In fact, it is a condition, it is clearlystated that it is upon the occurrence ofthese that -- The subclauses are only two.So, we can just say that: “…a fiscal target rule provided forin the …Document…”
HonMembers, this proposed amendment bythe Hon Minister to add the “Ministerresponsible for Employment and LabourRelations”, do you have any problem withthat? Hon Chairman of the Committee?
Mr Speaker, the HonChairman is shaking his head. The HonMinister for Finance is not responsible forthe negotiation, so, how could he ensureit? That is why we must have “inconsultation with the Minister forEmployment and Labour Relations”. Thatpart is not controversial. The Hon Ministerfor Finance is not in charge, and so howcould we say he should ensure it. That iswhy the consultation is important. So, Hon Chairman, we do not have achoice.
Mr Speaker, I think thereis total agreement with the first part. Thesecond part is what should be stood downso that they could consult the tripartiteCommittee and know that there are no setrules governing it, so that they do notsay that we did the law without consultingthem.
“Clause 20 (1), line 1, after “shall”insert “with prior consultation withthe Minister responsible forEmployment and Labour Relations”.
Mr Speaker, before weconsider that proposed amendment --What do we mean by “salarynegotiation”? If an Hon Minister is goingto do salary negotiation, it woulddefinitely involve the Hon Minister forEmployment and Labour Relations. TheTripartite Committee is involved. The Hon Minister cannot go and sit down aloneand have negotiations. So, if we say that“the Minister shall ensure that salary andother compensation negotiations inrespect of public sector …”, it involvesthe Hon Minister for Employment andLabour Relations.
Whoseresponsibility is it? What you are saying, who has theprimary responsibility?
Mr Speaker, the primary onewith the responsibility of paying salary isthe Hon Minister for Finance.
We arenot paying, we are negotiating.
That is why the HonMinister is to ensure that by involving allthe players.
The HonMinister for Finance is not the PrimeMinister. He is not the first among equals.
Mr Speaker, I do notknow how the Hon Chairman thinks thatthe Hon Minister for Finance couldensure this when he is not in charge ofthe negotiations. He is part of it, theresponsibility falls with the Hon Ministerfor Employment and Labour Relations.Why would he go and grab somethingthat is not his? It is only when the HonMinister for Employment and LabourRelations says that they have concludedthat he could come in. So, he cannot ensure that, please. It isnot his area. His area is big enough. Heshould not go to somebody's property,stay there. Dr Donkor -- rose --
Hon DrKwabena Donkor?
Mr Speaker, I would wantto draw your attention to this House,flouting health and safety regulations byworking beyond stipulated hours, withthe Hon Minister for Health sitting hereand condoning the flouting of our healthand safety regulations.
Mr Speaker, the intent hereis to make sure the Minister responsiblefor Finance ensures that, the salarynegotiations are not delayed unduly. Thisis important because, arrears accumulationwould not be healthy for the economy.Again, in the current set up, the Ministerfor Finance represents Government duringthe tripartite negotiations and not theMinister for Employment and LabourRelations. Mr Speaker, the Minister forEmployment and Labour Relations chairsit, but he does not represent Government.The Minister for Finance representsGovernment. At the public sector jointstanding negotiation committee, again,the Minister for Finance representsGovernment and not the Minister forEmployment and Labour Relations.
Mr Speaker, nobody isdenying the fact that the Minister forFinance is at the table, but until theMinister for Employment and LabourRelations writes a communiqué, it is notfinished. It is not up to the Minister forFinance to write the communiqué. That isall we are saying. He could sit there andrepresent Government, but he cannot sayit is over. The letter must come from theHon Minister for Employment and LabourRelations. Mr Speaker, in any case, why does hego into that territory? They have toomuch. To the Hon Ato Forson, please, thisis not personal. Let us separateresponsibilities.
Mr Speaker, I believelabour negotiations are really not thepurview of the Minister for Finance. Ifthey are so minded -- They have someviews. They should go back, consultamong themselves and bring back theclause tomorrow and we would clean itup. This is because, the Minister forEmployment and Labour Relations is nothere, but the Deputy Minister for Financeis insisting that they should ensure -- Itis just for financial reasons they wouldwant it to be done that way. Why not stepit down, let them go and clean it themselvesand come tomorrow with some under-standing. That is better.
HonChairman, what is your view? They saywe should step it down.
Mr Speaker, the Ministerfor Finance represents Government andcommits Government in terms of thenegotiations on how much to pay.
So,should we not step it down? Should I putthe Question?
Yes, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker,I really do not see why we should besplitting hairs over this. This is because,the Hon Deputy Minister says theMinister for Finance, at the table ofnegotiations, represent Government. It isnot in any way inferring that, the HonMinister for Employment and LabourRelations represents himself. He equallyrepresents Government. Who does herepresent? Mr Speaker, when a person says theMinister for Finance endorses nego-tiations and represent Government, doesthe Minister for Employment and LabourRelations represent himself? He does not.He represents Government, as far as thefinances are concerned, but in nego-tiations, it is the Minister for Employmentand Labour Relations who is in charge. Mr Speaker, in any event, theConstitution provides that the Ministerfor Finance submits the Annual Estimatesto this House, on behalf of the President.We are not there yet, but Mr Speaker, ifyou look at clause 22, the Constitutionprovides that, the Minister shall submitthe yearly budget to this House, on behalfof the President? The provision is this: “22 (1)The Minister shall: (a) in consultation with therelevant stakeholders, preparethe proposed annual budget,not later than 1st October …” We are not proffering any amendmentbecause we believe that is what isrequired. He does consultations. Eventhere, where the Constitution stipulatesthat the Minister shall bring the Budgeton behalf of the President, you areprepared to allow that. Then, we are notproffering any amendment. So, if it is said that, it should be donein consultation with the Minister forEmployment and Labour Relations, whatis wrong with that. I do not see anythingwrong with that.
Mr Speaker, the clause saysthat: “20 (1) The Minister shall ensurethat: (a) Salary and other compensationnegotiations in respect of thepublic sector for the ensuingfinancial year are completednot later than …” The clause does not say the Ministershall do the negotiation and ensure that itis completed.
Mr Speaker, we arelegislating, so we should be principled andnot emotional. “The Minister for Financeshall ensure that salaries and othercompensation negotiations are com-pleted”. He is not in charge; how does heensure? He is not paying. Until theMinister for Employment and LabourRelations has signed the letter, it cannotbe over. Who ensures? He is just a participant. He is a smallboy there. Mr Speaker, in this regard, heis a small boy. When they sit, the Ministerfor Employment and Labour Relationswould sit in the Chair. He is the Chairman.He could walk the Minister for Financeout. What mandate? He would advise him.
HonMembers, what is happening is that --
We have to be careful.Everybody has a -- [Interruption.]
Order!Order! Hon Akoto Osei, order! The same people are expressing thesame views. There is no other option butto put it to vote. Unless I see a differentperson, they have expressed the viewsthey expressed earlier. Hon Nitiwul, do you want to express aview?
Mr Speaker, if we go withthis option, we would create a problem.We have a Chairman who is in charge oflabour negotiations. He is supposed tobe the one who would give the finalcommuniqué. We are making the law thattakes the carpet directly under his feet. Itwould be dangerous. Mr Speaker, for example, if I am labour,and I know the law says the Minister forFinance should ensure that by 31st, thishappens, why would I compromise withthe Chairman of the negotiation team?What power has the Chairman any longer?He does not have any power. They wouldcreate chaos within the labour front.
MrSpeaker, if you say the Minister forFinance should ensure, it therefore meansthat, the Minister for Employment andLabour Relations works for the Ministerfor Finance, but I do not think so. I do notthink the Minister for Employment andLabour Relations, even when it comes tothis, works under the Minister for Finance. So, it should be the Minister forFinance, in conjunction with the Ministerfor Employment and Labour Relations, inconsultation. This is because, how woulda person ensure when he is notresponsible for that activity? How wouldhe ensure? Financial implication is here. Mr Speaker, in my opinion, the Ministerfor Finance has to do that in consultationwith the Minister for Employment andLabour Relations.
HonMajority Leader, I would give you the lastbite of the cherry. So, I would take theHon Yieleh Chireh, then the Hon Memberfor Wenchi before the Hon MajorityLeader. Hon Yieleh Chireh?
Mr Speaker,the arguments my Colleagues are makingabout somebody being in charge -- Thisis an arrangement that those who haveparticipated in negotiations know. Theone person who would seal the deal isalways the Finance Minister. So, first of all, the point is that, it is theFinance Ministry and it is he whorepresents Government in the negotiationteam. In any case, this person who is theChairman sometimes acts as an umpire tohelp hear the views. When he chairs, hehas to find out from the Ministry whatthey can do. So, the Ministry of Financehas to ensure. He has to ensure. In this particularcase, when making laws and obstacles arebeing put in the way of the person -- Thisdocument we are considering now wasbrought by the Minister for Finance. Mr Speaker, now, the most importantthing is that, if they are to shoulder theburden, we are saying that priorconsultation --
MrSpeaker, I think we are trying to give theMinister for Finance too much power. Itis not his job to negotiate. Negotiation isnot about cash. It goes through a lot ofprocesses which the Minister forEmployment and Labour Relations does.All that the Minister for Finance goesthere to say is whether he has the money.That is all he does. So, he does notensure anything. What he goes to do isgive them comfort. At times, his presence is verynecessary to ensure that the peopleunderstand the Minister for Employmentand Labour Relations, and give credibilityto what he says. So, he cannot ensurethat process. It is not his job. He goesthere as a bystander. Mr Speaker, maybe, we have to thinkthrough this properly. Even the phrase“in consultation” gives him additionalpowers, but the whole thing begins withthe Minister for Employment and LabourRelations. The Labour Act would do that.So, we should find a way to just talk aboutthe finances of it and not the negotiationprocess.
Mr Speaker, indeed, Ihave just heard a vivid description of whomatters in negotiations and it is quite clearthat it is the Minister for Finance and notthe Minister for Employment and LabourRelations. In fact, recounting his personalexperience, it is important that, he alwaysgets the Minister for Finance by his side.Otherwise, the negotiation would notsucceed, and that he should follow theMinister for Finance if he is walking outof the negotiations, otherwise, hisnegotiation would amount to nothing. Mr Speaker, the power vested in theMinister for Finance to ensure that allstakeholders are there, is right. So, Isupport Hon Yieleh Chireh for saying so.
Mr Speaker,some Ministers who have occupied otherMinistries and can appropriately bedescribed as “rolling stones”, but theyhave not had the opportunity to be at theMinistry of Employment and LabourRelations, but they are all arguing inextenso that in these matters, it is theMinister for Finance who matters. I am sorry to observe that the Ministerfor Roads and Highways has left. I say sobecause the Minister for Finance and thatMinistry are so critical to the performanceof that Ministry. Let him tell us that,whatever goes on in his Ministry, it is theMinister for Finance who matters and nothe as a Minister. Let him tell us that. Mr Speaker, we have crafted forourselves an Act of Parliament whichplaces the Minister for Employment andLabour Relations at the centre of thesenegotiations. I am not in any way downplaying the relevance of the Minister forFinance. But it is important that werecognise the role of sector Ministers inthese matters. That was why I said that,we must have this construction to involvethe Minister responsible for the sector,to say that the Minister for Finance shallin consultation with another Ministerensure this. Mr Speaker, I do not see why anybodyshould say that we should hedge therelevant sector Minister. I do not think weare being kind and just to the Minister.And for reasons of good governance, weare not doing what is right. Mr Speaker, we tend to say toourselves that we have vested so muchpower in one person, that is the President.But we want to create a monster in theMinister for Finance, this is because manythings relating to the various sectors arefinancial component, the Minister forFinance should superintend those othersectors. It is inappropriate. I heard an Hon Colleague say that, eventhe Labour Act is a matter of theory. I amsad. He is sitting there. How can a Memberof Parliament say that? [Interruption] --He is not a man of courage or conviction.He is running away from what he just said.
Mr Speaker,may I know when I said what the HonMinority Leader is talking about.
“Who thecap fits” -- Somebody said so, and I ampointing in the direction of the person. Ishe a man of conviction? If he is, he shouldsay that he said so. [Laughter.] Mr Speaker, I say that, let us relate tothe Labour Act and we would see thecentral role of the Minister. Otherwise, wemay have to step this down for furtherconsultation. But I believe we need thepresence of the sector Minister, who isthe Minister in charge of labour in thisregard.
I have listened to thecontributions and we all recognise theroles played by the two Ministers. But theproposal to cure what they think is adeficiency is still the same. This isbecause, if it is in consultation, it meansthat the deciding Minister is still theMinister for Finance. This is because, we are saying that heshould consult, but he is the one toensure. So, it is still the same. So, if weare saying ‘the Ministers for Finance andEmployment and Labour Relation shallensure; then the responsibility is joint.That we can do. If it is in consultation, I am saying thefinal Minister is still the Minister forFinance. If we say “the Minister inconsultation with the Minister forEmployment and Labour Relations shall”,he is just consulting him, but he is still toensure. Mr Speaker, if we also say “the Ministerfor Finance and”, the finality of theresponsibility of that one is missing. At the end of the day, we hold both?That is the issue. In Leadership, we musthave the pinpoint that is sharper and whenwe have joint responsibility there is costto it. There is time to it. So, Mr Speaker, the deciding factor, inspite of the fact that the negotiations are So, the phrase “to ensure” means tomake sure. Ensure means to make sure,please. The leadership of the workersunion know that when the Minister forEmployment and Labour Relations issharing and negotiating, he is still lookingup at what the Finance Minister canpay. That is the reality. When the Minister is negotiating, helooks at whether the Minister for Financecan pay or not pay -- [Interruption] --say”in consultation”, and I am alsosaying “in consultation”, he concedes thatthe final authority is the Minister forFinance. He is only consulting --[Interruption] We are challenging the finality of theauthority of the Minister for Finance, andthat is what we want to say. We are sayingthat, labour negotiations on salary andcompensation is the responsibility of theMinister for Employment and LabourRelations, but we are now saying that, tocure what is here, it should be inconsultation. I say if it is consultation, weare still conceding that the final authorityis the Minister for Finance.
Mr Speaker, I have anamendment. If we accept the principle ofresponsibility, then there is only one waywe should go. If we are talking aboutresponsibility, on the lighter note, wecould say the President. But seriously, weare legislating; let us do the right thing. I believe on this part, we should say.“the Minister for Employment and LabourRelations in consultation with theMinister responsible for Finance shallensure”. In this case, that cleans up thewhole thing, then we could move forward.
Let me askyou a question. Hon Members, I wonder whether weare talking about the process that goes tothe National Tripartite Committee.
Mr Speaker, to cure it, ifwe recognise that the law we passed, thatis the Labour Act, places the res-ponsibility on the Minister for Em-ployment and Labour Relations, then itshould be the Minister for Employmentand Labour Relations in consultationwith the Minister for Finance.
That is the amendment Iam offering.
With the Minister?
Yes, with the Minister.
Then he is responsible.
Let ushear the Hon Minister, and then we wouldput the Question.
Mr Speaker,indeed, in respect of clause 20, I appreciatethe knack with which the debate hasproceeded. While I recognise that the Minister forFinance has a mandate, the mandate forsalary and compensation negotiations, byvirtue of the Fair Wages and SalariesCommission Act, and by the LabourAct, and by Conventions of theInternational Labour Commission, isvested in the Minister responsible forEmployment and Labour Relations. I dare add, Mr Speaker, let us notpersonalise legislation. I probably wouldnot be the Minister for Employment andLabour Relations in the next few -- I amjust saying let us not personaliselegislation. We have a duty to build astrong and viable institutions. Mr Speaker, for instance, when wetake tripartite, even at the level of tripartite,the Minister for Employment and LabourRelations ought to demonstrate neutralityin allowing the Minister for Finance onthe right to make representations onbehalf of Government, and for the majorstakeholder, Labour on the left, to make arepresentation presided by the Chairman,which is normally the Minister forEmployment and Labour and Relations. I would therefore, suggest that clause20 should read; “the Minister responsible forEmployment shall with priorconsultation with the Minister forFinance…”, then the rest of the words can flow.There should be prior consultationbecause it is important -- [Interruption.] Mr Speaker knows why I am using“prior” because the word has been definedas a term of art. In doing this, with myexperience over the past two years, onecertainly cannot negotiate without thetacit understanding and support of theMinistry of Finance and the resourcesthey provide. We would need them. For instance,they would provide the ceilings; what isit that Budget can contain? Maybe,compensation as a percentage ofrevenue or GDP, it is only the Ministryof Finance which can give those details. So, Mr Speaker, I would believe --Consultation is fine, but it would be betterif it is with prior approval. Mr Speaker, with my experience, and Iam sure my Hon Colleague Ato Forson ishere. There have been times I have beenaccused that I speak for Labour, but then,I remind them that we are speaking forGovernment. I would like a delicate balance in termsof building consensus, therefore, a rolefor the Minister for Employment andLabour Relations in this matter isimperative. Thank you. second one and since you are here, whydo you not move it?
Mr Speaker, I wantto thank him and some quiet persons whohave facilitated my getting into thisChamber. I was in the Mosque and after prayerswhen I was told that there was a hotdebate on some attempt by the HonMinister for Finance to usurp the smallpowers and mandate of the Ministry ofEmployment and Labour Relations --
Mr Speaker, there is asecond amendment on the month “May”,which he said should be changed to“July”. Why?
Mr Speaker,legislation, as I understand it, mustrespond to policy and policy must beresponding to needs. With my littleexperience at the Ministry of Employmentand Labour Relations, and for the factthat I have a tower of support of the HonMinister for Finance, completingnegotiations before mid-year is practicallyimpossible. This is because, labour as a stakeholderuses a lot of variables in their submissionsto Government. For instance, level ofinflation, matters of ability to pay and costof living. Therefore, if we want, as acompromise, we could take it to July sothat we would have a careful assessmentby Government on the performance of theeconomy, then, mid-year, we may hearabout labour. In fact, as we speak, for 2017, we havenot concluded negotiations and we arealmost in August. How realistic would itbe to say May? I think we can substitute“May” for “July”. That would be a morerealistic time table. It is not about puttingit in a law, it is about practicality. 7. 40 p.m.
Mr Speaker, does theclause say that the Minister for Financeshall be doing the negotiation? It did notsay that. The negotiation would still bedone by the Minister for Employment andLabour Relations -- Then there is aproblem there which we must be cured.This is because the clause says that, theMinister for Finance shall ensure thatnegotiation is completed by so and sodate, period. Who does the negotiation? We mustlook for it.
Thankyou very much, Hon Members. On that note, I step it down.Today, isthe day of stepping down. The minute aclause appears too controversial, then westep it down and consider it the next day.Two things; prior consultation. Can wedo post-event consultation? I thought allconsultations must be done prior to theevent. Hon Majority Leader, should we take avote?
Mr Speaker, I want to urgethat you put the Question on this, I believethere is consensus. It has been agreedthat, the clause 20 (1) should read: “The Minister responsible forEmployment and Labour Relationsin consultation with the Ministershall ensure that…” Question put and amendment agreedto.
HonHaruna Iddrisu, in your absence, yourproposed amendments were championedand piloted by Hon Dr Prempeh, but whenyou came, you did not thank him. Areyou not aware of that? He says there is a
Mr Speaker, wecan finish. In fact, for the first time in manyyears, I have worked with the Ministry ofFinance to agree on public sector basepay better than it has been done in thelast few decades, and I am sharing myexperience. Yes, in the last few decadesthat has not happened. You do not haveit before Budget. I am saying that, if for instance, HonAto Forson the Deputy Minister forFinance brings this Bill for fiscal prudence,he goes to put twelve per cent ofcompensation increases, he puts fourteenper -- It ends up less, it would result intoa slippage and a disaggregation of thecomputation of the numbers. So, he hasto go into it, complete it and he wouldknow that, for this year, he is adjustingcompensation budget by twelve per cent.Then he would compute that ascompensation incorporated in the Budget. But when we want to rely on aggregatenumbers, that can be misleading.So myadvice is that, July is better than May.
Mr Speaker, as we speak,the true wage bill has not been completed.Hon Minister for Finance, you said youhave finished the wage bill for 2016. Peopleare complaining about market premium,have you finished? You cannot finish thewage bill. You are now negotiating interimmarket premium. It is part of the wage bill. I am saying that, you would neverfinish, we should not bind ourselves.
Mr Speaker, I would usethis opportunity to appeal to my HonColleague to drop his amendment. I sayso because, if we are to change the datefrom the 31st of May to July that he isproposing, what this would mean is that,we would not be able to prepare the fiscalstrategy document. This is because, the fiscal strategydocument would need inputs from thewage negotiations. That is the reason wethink that, for some reasons, if we are notable to conclude negotiations by 31st ofMay, then the subclause (2) as proposed,would then apply. We would have to workwith aggregate and make somesuggestions before the fiscal strategydocument is submitted to Cabinet. Mr Speaker, with these few words, Ibelieve my Hon Colleague would haveabandoned his amendment and abide bywhat we are proposing.
Mr Speaker, I willbut I have repeatedly said this, thatparliamentary debate is now a guide tointerpretation. I am minded to state mypoint and give my reasoning. And I amsaying that, given the practical experienceover the years, I find “May” worrying. I have listened to matters of marketpremiums. Public sector base pay underthe Single Spine is a straight forward issue.Related allowances can be negotiated.Even if we negotiate and say June, it isbetter. But May, for instance, we arenegotiating 2017 base pay and we arelikely to conclude in the next thirty days.When we conclude, the announcement tothe Ghanaian worker would be that, itwould take effect from 1st January, 2017. Then just four months intoimplementing it, we would warn them. Indoing this, we must anticipate that, it isnot solely Government's decision. Labourremains a major and strong partner, thatcontributes to the Gross DomesticProduct of the economy of this country,and they matter. Let us be flexible with thetime. But the final thing that there is somefetish about “May”, I equally abandon myamendment and they can proceed. Butwhen the practicalities confront them, wewould remind them someday, on the floorof this House, that, we cautioned against“May” but the fetish in them wanted“May”.
So, theHon Minister for Employment and LabourRelations has abandoned his amendment. Clause 20 as amended ordered to standpart of the Bill.
Mr Speaker, there are somePapers to be laid. Page 4, the Chairman ofthe Appointments Committee.
So, HonMembers, this brings us to the end of theConsideration Stage of the PublicFinancial Management Bill, 2016. Chairman of the AppointmentsCommittee?
Mr Speaker, page 4, itemnumbered 4 (g). By the Chairman of the Committee -- Report of the Committee of Privilegeson the alleged contemptuouspublications in the Thursday, 14th andFriday, 15th July 2016 Editions of theDaily Graphic newspaper by MrMark-Anthony Vinorkor in respect ofthe Public Elections Regulations, 2016(C. I. 94) and the Representation of thePeople (Parliamentary Constituencies)Instrument, 2016 (C. I. 95).
Mr Speaker, in the Act,there is room that, in case the Ministrydoes not finish what they are supposedto do --We should look at clause 20 (2), ifthey do not finish, they still must havesome number to work with. So, this isharmless. We cannot even predict that it wouldfinish in July. It could even go up toDecember. We should not say that itwould finish in July. It says finish, but, ifwe do not finish, let us use a number.Negotiation is a process, but it must startsomewhere otherwise the Budget cannotbe finished. That is all we are saying.Thereis a room. Mr Haruna Iddrisu Mr Speaker, I amguided by the comments by the HonRanking Member of the FinanceCommittee. If we look at the thrust of thisBill, fiscal prudent management is itsobject. Now, when we go intocompensation, we should and just put anumber -- [Interruption.] He said there would be a number. Whatnumber?
Read the legislation, itis here.
Read it well. Whatnumber? You cannot project.
“…shall state an expected negotiationaggregate…” That is why it behoves the Ministerthere, to do the expectation --
Can I finish? Ihave listened to you --
You said it is not thereand I said it is there. Subclause (2), it isthere, “expected”.
laid, at page 3, which is item numbered 4(d). It is from the Committee on Food,Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs. That is itemnumbered 4 (d) (i) and (ii) on the OrderPaper.
Itemnumbered 4 (d) (i) and (ii), by Chairman ofthe Committee. By the Chairman of the Committee -- (i) Report of the Committee on Food,Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs on theAgreement for the implementation ofthe Provisions of the United NationsConvention on the Law of the Sea of10th December 1982 relating to theConservation and Managementof Straddling Fish Stocks andHighly Migratory Fish Stocks. (ii) Report of the Committee on Food,Agriculture and Cocoa Affairson the Agreement on Port StateMeasures to Prevent, Deter andEliminate Illegal, Unreported andUnregulated Fishing.
Mr Speaker, if we couldtake item numbered 21. I am told a clause was stood downbecause of some disagreements. But theCommittee has reached consensus andthey would want us to take those clauses.
Itemnumbered 21; the Petroleum (Explorationand Production) Bill, 2016 at theConsideration Stage
BILLS -- CONSIDERATIONSTAGE
HonMember, I am reading what is on the OrderPaper. If you read the Order Paper, youwould realise that it says in clause 10 and16 -- “debate to continue”. If you go topages 12 and 13 on the Order Paper andit says clause 17 and 20 -- “debate tocontinue”. What it means is that all thoseclauses were stood down. Hon Member, look at pages 12 and 13on the Order Paper. Wherever you see“debate to continue”, it means that, thoseclauses were stood down or we did notarrive at a conclusion.
Mr Speaker, the one Ido recall is that, you specifically said thatclause 10 was being stood down.
But howcome that on the Order Paper --
Mr Speaker, I recall that theonly controversial clause that you stooddown was the entire clause 10.
HonMembers, let us check from the Votes andProceedings. This is a House of recordand when we see “debate to continue”, itmeans that the Question has not been put. Hon Majority Leader, am I right?
Mr Speaker, you are right.
HonMembers, let us continue from clause 21while the Clerks-at-the-Table look for theVotes and Proceedings. Clause 21 -- Exploration period andextension.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move,clause 21, subclause (5), line 1, before“may” insert “in consultation with theCommission”.
Mr Speaker, Order PaperAddendum, we have a few Papers to lay.Order Paper Addendum, item numbered 1,Presentation of Papers.
OrderPaper Addendum, item numbered 1, byChairman of the Committee. By the Chairman of the Committee -- Report of the Committee on Healthon the Commercial Agreementbetween the Government of theRepublic of Ghana and VamedEngineering GmbH KG & Co. ofAustria for the design, construction,equipping and furnishing of five (5)new District/General Hospitals inSomanya, Buipe, Sawla-Tuna,Wheta, Tolon and one (1) Polyclinicin Bamboi.
HonMajority Leader, which item please? Item numbered 1 (ii), Chairman of theCommittee. By the Chairman of the Committee -- Report of the Committee on Healthon the Commercial Agreementbetween the Government of theRepublic of Ghana and VamedEngineering GmbH KG & Co. ofAustria for the design, construction,equipping and furnishing of five (5)Polyclinics in the Greater-AccraRegion (Phase IV) to be located inAdentan, Ashaiman, Bortianor,Oduman and Sege.
Mr Speaker, I just wantthe Chairman to assure us that enoughcopies are available so that they can bedistributed to us. If he can assure us onthat, I would be very happy. [Pause.]
Mr Speaker, my attentionhas been drawn to an item on the originalOrder Ppaer which is ready but was not
Mr Speaker,the last time, we debated clause 10 (4) andit was in relation to the Minister'sdiscretion after the tender process. At theend of it, we said we should step it asideand take it later. It was Hon Isaac Kwame Asiamah who-- [Interruption.]
Mr Speaker, withrespect, we are considering a veryimportant piece of legislation. At least, Icannot see the Hon Minister or the HonDeputy Minister here.We are staying lateto consider this serious GovernmentBusiness, and they do not find it importantto be here. I do not think it is veryrespectful to us at all. In case we run intosome issue, then what do we do? I believe we should make sure that ifwe would want to look at this legislation,one of them should be here to facilitatethe work of Parliament. But they are nothere. It is not the best. If they are not here, we should step itdown, call them to come so that we wouldcontinue. Parliament must be respected.If it is that important, then they should behere. Why are we staying late to considersomething that --
HonMember, I would not even take you thatfar, that Parliament must be respected. Isaw the Hon Minister earlier, but I agreewith you that it is useful if the HonMinister is here. Hon Member, I have realised westepped down clauses 4, 10, 16, 17 and 20.
Mr Speaker, we do notfollow what you are saying. I thought thelast time, we went up to clause 20. Myunderstanding is that, you are steppingall the clauses; 15, 16, 17 down.
“The Minister in consultation withthe Commission may…”
Mr Speaker, I believe weshould reject the amendment. This isbecause the Petroleum Commission bylaw, is the technical advisor to theMinister. In all of these, the Hon Ministerconsults the Petroleum Commission. Andso, it is just superfluous to repeat that inthe law. Mr Speaker, if we take the PetroleumLaw, it is clearly stated that the PetroleumCommission is the technical advisor to theMinister. So, this is simply not necessary.
Mr Speaker, I thought theHon Minister would just accept theamendment so that we would go quickly. Mr Speaker, if we look at clause 22 (6)which we would go to, it says and I begto quote: “The Minister may, in exceptionalcases and in consultation with theCommission…” Mr Speaker, so, what is the point? Andit is several. So, the Hon Minister should accept itso that we can move on.
Mr Speaker, I believewhat the Hon Minister himself said is that:he would consult his technical people. So,let us accept the amendment and moveon.
Mr Speaker, the amendmentcan be accepted.
HonMinority Leader, you have beentruncating my actions today. I believe Ishould look at you every time before I putthe Question.
Mr Speaker,it is just a minor drafting issue. Theproposal from the Hon Member profferingthe amendment is that; “in consultationwith the Commission”, should comebefore the word “may”. It should rathercome after the word “may”. That is theusual thing that we have been doing --“The Minister may in consultation withthe Commission”.
HonMinority Leader, the meaning is differentwhen you say, “the Minister in consultationwith the Commission may”. It means thatthe Hon Minister is required to consultthe Commission. When we say, “theMinister may in consultation with theCommission”, it means the Hon Ministercan decide not to consult the Commission.
Mr Speaker,it is not really. Mr Speaker, the burden is on the takingof the action. The Hon Minister takes theaction. He has the ultimate responsibilityto be taking the decisions except that ithas to be done in consultation with theCommission. That is what it means.
Mr Speaker, in fairnessto Dr Kwabena Donkor, the originalamendment was in the shape that theHon Minority Leader has indicated. Butthen, at the Committee level, we discussedit and the suggestion was, as youindicated — I believe the intention is that,the Hon Minister, depending on his whims
and caprices, if he wants to deal with theCommission, might or might not. So, wewant to make it compulsory for him. Mr Speaker, so, we said that theMinister, in consultation with theCommission “may” — So, theconsultation with the Commission is notan option. They would have to consultthem and then of course, they decide onwhat they want to do. So, that is reallywhat we thought in the end, we shouldput in there. But if it is causing anydifficulty, we do not mind if it is revertedto the shape in which Dr KwabenaDonkor originally presented, that it shouldrather be “the Commission may, inconsultation with the…”
Mr Speaker,when we have the constructs, “theMinister may” or “the Minister shall”,the responsibility rests on the Minister,except that he must do so in consultationwith the stakeholder. We just dealt withthe Public Financial Management Bill, 2016— We should look at clause 22 and withyour permission, I beg to quote: “The Minister shall: (a) in consultation with the relevantstakeholders, prepare…” Mr Speaker, that is how it is. Andso, the responsibility is not dualised. Theultimate responsibility rests on theMinister and he does so in consultation— That is how it is done. But I wouldleave it. I believe the draftspersons wouldunderstand what I mean and help DrKwabena Donkor to carry out his own —
Mr Speaker, the HonMinority Leader is right. Usually, it is, “theMinister may, in consultation with” — then the doing word, thus the verbcomes; for example, “may consult”, “mayact”, “may ensure”, et cetera.
Mr Speaker, except thatthe, “may” here refers to the power of theMinister to extend. The “may” in this is torespect the power of the Minister toextend. And so, how do we bindMinisters to ensure that they consult —[Pause.]
Mr Speaker, the power toextend a petroleum agreement is theprerogative of the Minister. It is reallydiluting the powers of the Ministers to —
There isa reason to the decision of the SupremeCourt —
Mr Speaker, we are talkingabout the power to extend petroleumagreement.
But arewe bound by their advice, if we have toconsult?
Mr Speaker, the Ministerdoes consultations, but I am saying that,it has already been stated in clause 21,subclause (5) (a), that the Minister hasthe authority to extend, and I am sayingthat the Petroleum Commission, as part ofits duty, has a technical responsibility toadvise the Minister. And so, it is notnecessary to state it here, that theMinister has to consult.
Mr Speaker, we agreebut then the Hon Minister is going back.We have passed that. It is only theconstruction. Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister himselfsaid that he consults, and so, we areputting it here for the avoidance of doubt— [Pause.] Clause 26 ordered to stand part of theBill. Clause 27— Plan of development andoperation.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move,clause 27, subclause (9), paragraph (b),lines 1 and 2, delete “until the plan ofdevelopment and operation has beenapprove by the Minister” and insert sameclosing phrase to paragraphs (a) and (b). Dr Prempeh — rose -- Mr Speaker, after we have taken thisone. I realised that —
If it isafter, then let us take this one first.
Mr Speaker, the HonChairman wants to delete what has beenadvertised, but that is not in the Bill. Whatis in the Bill reads: “has been approved”and not, “has been approve” and so, Ido not know what he is deleting. Heshould tell us because it is very important.
Hon DrA. A. Osei, it is only the letter “d” thatis not there between the words,“approved” and “approve” and you knowit. I have so much confidence in you.You are a professor and I know that youunderstand everything that is going on. Iknow you are just doing it for the records.The record has recognised it.
Mr Speaker, I am not anHon Member of the Committee. I amlearning.
It is notpossible. What are you learning again?You are not learning. But I must thank youfor carefully scrutinising this thing. I mustconfess that I did not see it, and I amsure nobody else did. But that is why youare here, to help us. intend to step down every clause. The factthat people disagree does not mean that Ishould not put the Question; I have toput the Question. Yes, Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker,respectfully, the Question has been puton clause 27, but I am wondering whetherclause 27(2) sits well with the generalprinciple that we are pursuing. Indeed,clause 26 is on prudent exploitation. Weare talking about development andproduction. But clause 27, the plan ofdevelopment and operation, and then weare providing that the Minister may set adeadline for the submission of the plan. I am not too sure that it should bediscretionary. Setting the deadline for thesubmission of the plan? It cannot be. Ibelieve that if we are looking for prudence,it cannot be left to the discretion of theMinister that he may decide to set thedeadline. I am not too sure that is right.
Whichclause is that please?
Mr Speaker,it is clause 27 (2). We are talking aboutprudence in development and we aresaying that clause 27 relates to the planof the development and operation. Clause27(2) says the Minister only may set adeadline for the submission of the plan. Iam asking if it is in pursuance of prudence,whether the operative word “may” sitswell within the principle. I am not too surethat we should leave it like that.
What areyou suggesting?
I am thinkingthat the Minister “shall” have to do that.
Mr Speaker, we discussedthis very well during the winnowing andthe Committee thought that it wasappropriate. Question put and amendment agreedto. Clause 21 as amended ordered to standpart of the Bill.
HonMembers, clause 22. Hon Members, I entreat all to payattention. When I start putting theQuestions and Hon Members step in, well,I have to listen to them, but there is noadvertised amendment here. Clauses 22 to 24 ordered to stand partof the Bill. Clause 25 — Notification of petroleumdiscovery and appraisal
Mr Speaker, I beg to move,clause 25, subclause (2), paragraph (a),lines 3 and 4, delete “and the Minister shallinform the Commission within forty-eighthours”.
“(2)Where exploration activities resultin a petroleum discovery, thecontractor shall: (a) within forty-eight hours afterthe discovery submit writtennotification of the discoveryto the Minister beforenotification to a third party”. Question put and amendment agreedto. Clause 25 as amended ordered to standpart of the Bill.
Mr Speaker, this isfundamental. The whole plan ofdevelopment and operation sets aside theCommission, which is the technical arm.The contractor writes to the Minister forapproval: at least, the contractor shouldwrite through the Commission and theCommission should advise the Minister.What inherent knowledge does theMinister have apart from hisCommission? Mr Speaker, it is so important in thedevelopment of petroleum fields -- Thedevelopment plan. And it is just theMinister, not even in consultation -- Orgoing through the -- Mr Speaker, this iswrong.
Let mejust ask: the Petroleum Commission had atechnical staff of operation here. I knowthat GNPC --
He did not even bringthe Bill, Mr Speaker. [Interruption.] It isGNPC. Mr Speaker, what I am saying isfundamental.
Thankyou. We have heard Hon Prempeh but Iwould put the Question. Question put and amendment agreedto. Clause 27 as amended ordered tostand part of the Bill. Clause 28 -- Restrictions on approvalof plan of development and operation.
HonMembers, I will give everybody theopportunity to have a say. But I have toput the Question at some point. I do not
Mr Speaker, theMinister is making a point. It is not a casethat as soon as there is development, youwould have to -- Mr Speaker, the to andfro goes on for a certain amount of time.The main thing is that, at a point in time,the Minister gets frustrated and thinksthere is not much development. It is atthat time that he may then set a deadlinefor them. It is because of the to and fro. If you say that the Minister shall, MrSpeaker, it means that almost immediately-- [Interruption.] That is what is impliedif you put the “shall” there. Nobody hassaid it, but that is what it means, if youput the “shall” there. If you think that the“shall” is appropriate, I have no issuewith it, but I thought the “may” is allright.
Mr Speaker, the Ministerfor Petroleum did not listen to the questionof the Majority Leader. And the RankingMember, unfortunately, is in tandem withthe Minister and he is not evenanswering.
Thankyou. Hon Minister?
Mr Speaker, the Ministerwould have to do that, but there are a lotof circumstances that would have to beconsidered in setting out the time for theplan of development to be submitted. Andthat is why it cannot be “shall”.
But ifyou say “shall” and you say that it mayextend and then you give the right ofextension, when the Minister sets thedeadline, he puts the people on notice,beside the six months' deadline. If theycannot meet the time, can they not comeback to you for an extension?
Mr Speaker, if you look athow the plan of development works, therewould be back and forth in terms of thesubmission. They would bring the planof development and there would be thingsthat they would have to re-submit. So, itis a process and that is why I think that isleft there.
Mr Speaker,do we have a situation where the Ministermay decide not to set any deadline at all?[Interruption.]Good; you are required toset a deadline.
So, theyare not saying that the deadline shall besix months. You are the Minister and youshall set a deadline. Your deadline may beone month or three years. Hon Bagbin, I saw you on your feet.
Mr Speaker, I was justtrying to ask whether it is an obligation --Is it an obligation? If it is an obligation,then the word should be “shall”. Mr Speaker, the Hon Majority Leaderis asking whether it is an obligation onthe Minister, that any deadline shouldbe set -- Yes or no?
Was thatthe question?
Yes, that was thequestion. And if it is yes, then it shouldbe “shall”. The point is not the number oftimes that it is changing.
Mr Speaker, can I make thispoint? This is because, I know that wewould come back to it. Mr Speaker, on the PetroleumCommission Act, the functions of theCommission among other things include: “The Commission shall advise theMinister on matters related topetroleum activities including fielddevelopment plans for the developmentof petroleum transportation, processingand treatment facilities and decom-missioning plans for petroleum activities.” These are the areas we are talkingabout. And it is already clearly laid out inthe Petroleum Commission Act.
HonMinister, address the Chair.
So, Mr Speaker, I am tryingto make the point that, we have alreadypassed a law that makes the PetroleumCommission the technical advisor to theMinister. So, going forward, it has to benoted that, this is already in place.
Anyway,I am putting the Question on clause 27. We have agreed on the “shall”. All right.I would put the Question on clause 27(2)that, ‘may' be deleted and, ‘shall' beinserted. Question put and amendment agreedto.
Mr Speaker, I know wehave passed it but the way the amendmentis, can he read what it would look like? Hesaid closing phrase and insert same. Whatis the new rendition? [Interruption.] No,he did that. That is the one I talked about;clause 27. [Interruption] Yes, but that haspassed? But we did this one earlier, and I thinkthat there is some confusion there. I justwould want us to look at it again.
HonMembers, we are doing a lot of things here,that strictly speaking, should be at theSecond Consideration Stage.Now, therules have been too relaxed. So, we cannotgo and come and when we pass the stagethen you raise it again, please. Clause 27 as amended ordered to standpart of the Bill. Clause 28 -- Restrictions on approvalof plan of development and operation
Mr Speaker, I beg to move,clause 28, subclause (1), add the followingnew paragraph: “(h) the Minister has receivedrecommendation from the Commissionand related agencies.” Mr Speaker, clause 28 has to do withrestrictions on the approval of plan ofdevelopment and operation. If you see theconditions set out in clause 28 (1) (a) to(g), they all talk about what the HonMinister should look for. But as the HonMinister rightly said, the PetroleumCommission Act (Act 821), makes theCommission the advisor to the HonMinister. The Commission cannot advise theHon Minister, until advice is sought. So,to avoid any possibility of advice notbeing sought, when the Hon Ministerseeks the advice, the Commission shalladvise. But what if the advice is not sought?In fact, it is not only the Commission, butthe other agencies such as theEnvironmental Protection Agency (EPA),who in a plan of development andoperation, would play very critical roles.So, for the avoidance of doubt, I wouldwant the clause 28 (1) (h) to be added.and I quote: “The Minister has receivedrecommendation from the Com-mission and related agencies.”
Thankyou. It is not controversial. Hon Minister?
Mr Speaker, it does not hurt.
I will putthe Question. Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu --rose --
I pausedfor a second or two. Then I asked the HonMinister, and then swung to my left toperuse whether you were interested. Istarted from the back and came to the front.Then, I posed the question and youjumped in. All right. Anyway, speak.
Mr Speaker,indeed, the conduct of Hon Members andthat of the Hon Speakers cannot bequestioned. So, when the Chair forcefullyasserts that he swung to the left, right
I did notsay the Chair swung. You were closelyobserving the Chair. I did not say itswung. I did, and not the Chair.[Laughter.] The Chair was stationary. Iwas swinging. It does not mean you.
Mr Speaker,just to bring it up for discussion, theamendment proposes the use of thewords and with your permission, I beg toquote: “…from the Commission andrelated agencies.” Mr Speaker, I thought the words rathershould be, ‘and relevant agencies' and not‘related agencies'.
I agreewith you. Let me just ask the Hon Minister or theHon Chairman; in every one of thesesituations, is the EPA relevant? So, why do wenot put the EPA there? “…the Commission, EPA and otherrelevant agencies.” The Commission is a given -- so whenwe put “the Commission, EPA”, then itgives an indication to the kind of agencieswe are talking about.
Mr Speaker, in this veryinstance, it is the Petroleum Commissionthat is relevant. In all the areas whereEPA and others are relevant, the word,‘other relevant agencies' is preferred.
So, in thissituation that the Hon Dr KwabenaDonkor is suggesting, the only relevantagency is the Petroleum Commission.
Mr Speaker,on the headnote of clause 29, I wouldjust want to enquire. Clause 29 providesand with your permission, I beg to quote: “Where significant public interestor national interest requires, theMinister may, after consultationwith the contractor, postpone thedevelopment of a field.” Mr Speaker, how is this to beengendered where significant publicinterest or national interest requires, andwho determines the significance of thenational interest? I think that provision is too subjective.
Mr Speaker, for example, inthe current boundary issue with La Coted'Ivoire, there are acreages that, quitefrankly, are affected. It is very clear thatbecause of the ruling that there can be nodrilling, some of the contractors are notgoing to be able to continue work, in termsof drilling. That would violate the ruling. In those circumstances, obviously, itis not their fault that they are notperforming their work obligations. So,under those circumstances, the HonMinister would quite frankly extend it. I think he is talking about postponementin terms of those circumstances. Mr Speaker, those are obviouscircumstances which would be deter-mined. I think that is the reference beingmade. Obviously, the Hon Minister inconsultation with the technical team, andthe companies would make a case forwhy work cannot continue. Then, thatdecision to postpone would be made.
Yes, Mr Speaker.
No otheragency is relevant? Let me go to the proponent of theamendment.
Mr Speaker, I believe theconstruct the Hon Minister has givenshould be acceptable. This is because asimportant as the EPA is, there is also theGhana Maritime Authority, if it has to dowith -- They all come in, and it would meanthat we would have to name all of them.But for the purposes of Petroleum(Exploration and Production) Bill, 2016and Petroleum Commission Act, Act 821,it is the Commission.
But theHon Minister is saying that the amendmentis not relevant. Did he not say that? I will put the Question on “relevant”instead of “related”. The amendment ison clause 28 (h), with a further friendlyamendment of “relevant” replacing‘related'. Question put and amendment agreedto Clause 28 as amended ordered to standpart of the Bill. Clause 29 -- Postponement ofdevelopment Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu -- rose --
Now, theHon Minority Leader does not want anyslippage. He is already on his feet. Hon Minority Leader, I will recogniseyou -- [Laughter.] Lest I start swingingand do not see you.
HonMinority Leader, who do you suggestshould determine the public interest? Ibelieve that the Hon Minister is wearing anumber of hats, and in this hat, he shouldbe representing the President. Under theConstitution, all the petroleum assets arevested in the President, who holds theseassets in trust for the people. It is inthat light that he determines the publicinterest. They can put into the Act: “ThePresident shall determine…”, but I doubtvery much if Hon K. T. Hammond mayconfirm whether an Hon Minister canmake that determination without referenceto the trustee.
Mr Speaker, as youhave mentioned my name, the HonMinister would be sacked. It is as simpleas that. [Interruption.] Well, I do not know about that, but inany rationale government, the HonMinister could not take the decisionwithout consulting Cabinet and thePresident. He would be sacked.
Mr Speaker, I think this pointis very important. The Hon Minister wouldonly make this decision after exhaustiveconsultation with interested parties. The Hon Attorney-General andMinister for Justice, in the example I havegiven, is very relevant in some of thesedecisions, in terms of issues related tothe boundary. So, the level of theconsultation would be very exhaustive.But it would be determined by thecircumstances.
Thankyou. I must be very curious if an HonMinister sits on the fifth floor of his officecomplex and takes that decision. I do notwant to say the consequences, but the distance in one step is enough for me. AnHon Minister sitting alone and takingdecisions to affect or determine nationalinterest.
Mr Speaker, we shouldrecognise that, in all these, the HonMinister acts on behalf of the President. NoHon Minister would postpone theimplementation of a plan of development,without clearing it with the President. Thisis because in the first place, the Ministeris acting on behalf of the President. So, I am sure that takes care of theconcerns of the Hon Minority Leader,that it would definitely not be done. We cannot say, “With consultationwith the President” in the law, but it isdone on behalf of the President.
It is not“in consultation with”. In the SupremeCourt decision, when they say, “inconsultation with”, one is not bound bythat consultation. You would do it withthe approval of the President. Let us facefacts.
Mr Speaker, I just wantedto ask a question. Is it only in the publicor national interest that a field may bedelayed? Is it only that, always thereshould be a national or public interest thata field development may be postponed? No; there are other technical reasonsan Hon Minister may want to extenddevelopment of a field -- [Interruptions]--Are there only two reasons why anHon Minister may postpone thedevelopment of a field?
Mr Speaker, “postponing”means stopping the clock. We have giventhese contractors seven years, and wehave given work programmes to lay onthe table during the time period. What we are doing is that, because of certaincircumstances, we are stopping the clock.If it is one year, it means that it would notcount. That is really different. It has to be in the national interest. Itcannot be a reason that comes from thecompany. It has to be something that is inthe national interest; something of theState that happened as a result; not onlyfrom the company, but from the State. Mr Speaker, that is one example I havegiven.
Mr Speaker,I am just struggling to see a similarconstruction in our Standing Orders oreven in the Constitution. I do know that when we have to dealwith certain matters, which the Housecould not proceed on, the Rt Hon Speaker,in his own wisdom, having heard fromNational Security, could place aninjunction on further consideration. Iam trying to look at the construction. In any event, I agree with the HonMember for Manhyia South. The examplethe Hon Minister cited may not beexhaustive. Maybe, some matters relatingto foreign relations -- La Cote d'Ivoire. Even here, there could be someagitations from locals like what ishappening in Nigeria. The other matter could also relate tosome subterranean issues that may notreally relate to the national interest thatthey talked about. That could besomething else; some subterraneanactivities, and we are not too sure. Sometimes, they could even lead to,pre-empt or trigger some volcanic activity. Is that national interest? I am looking atwhether the construction he was referringto should involve, maybe, the nationalsecurity. Those are the matters I amrelating to.
Mr Speaker, I think he hasmade a good point; but the provision ismade in the law for extension for thecircumstance he described. For example, it means that they weresupposed to drill two wells, but becauseof the issues he described, they were ableto drill one. We have made the effort, butwe realised that we need extension tocomplete. That would still count againstthe seven-year period. So, that is completely different fromstopping the clock or the postponementthat we described.
Thankyou for explaining it. One characteristic a good investmentlaw should satisfy is certainty. I think thatwe would keep it like that. We would notopen up the Pandora's Box. So, it means that there is no amendmentto clause 29. So, I can put the Question. Can I put the Question?
Mr Speaker, there is noamendment for the first question that wasraised. It was because of the word“significant”. If we left out “significant”and accept “where public interest ornational interest”, we do not have toqualify the “national” or “public” with“significant”. Mr Speaker, that is the first questionthe Hon Minority Leader raised. So, Ithought that we would understand andtake out the word “significant”. Once thereis a national interest, and we have topostpone development, we would do so.
Mr Speaker, I supporthim. Mr Speaker, it would not become apublic or national interest if it is notsignificant. Maybe, that is superfluous.So, maybe, we can take the “significant”out and then take it from there.
You see, I am helpingthem.
HonMember, so, move the amendment and letme put the Question.
Mr Speaker, I beg tomove, clause 29, subclause (1), after“where”, delete “significant”. Question put and amendment agreedto. Clause 29 as amended ordered to standpart of the Bill. Clause 30 -- Commencement ofpetroleum production.
I havewaited for one minute. Hon (Dr) Prempeh?
Mr Speaker, clause 30confirms what I have been saying allalong.
Do youwant to amend clause 30?
Mr Speaker, I wouldtake clauses 28 and 29 through a SecondConsideration Stage. Mr Speaker, clause 30 --
Do youwant to amend clause 30?
Mr Speaker, I supportthis point at the Consideration Stage, butI shall bring up something to the notice ofthe Hon Minister. After he has approvedthe plan of development and after thecontractors have written to him, he nowsays when it is time for production, theCommission should -- How idiosyncraticis that?
On thatnote, I will put the Question -- There isno amendment. Hon Members, the purpose foradvertising the amendment is to puteverybody on notice including the RtHon Speaker. However, the rules allow foramendment on the floor. Now, theamendments on the floor are becomingmore than the advertised amendments.But I know that I always defer to theLeadership. Hon Minority Leader, your amendment,please? Mr Buah --rose --
Mr Speaker,first of all --
Sorry, letme take --
Mr Speaker, this clause 30confirms what I have been saying all along.The Petroleum Commission (PC) is socritical. [Interruption] -- But there is areason it says in clause 1 that, production permits, and licensing have been obtainedand then they can permit one to commenceproduction. That is the prior approvalrequired here.
Mr Speaker, the PetroleumCommission Act, 821, also makes the PCthe manager of the resource, whereas theHon Minister has responsibility for themajor approval processes. When it comesto the management of the resource, theAct makes the Commission the manager.Therefore, annual production permits,certification of wills and certification ofproduction infrastructure are the primaryresponsibilities of the Commission -- thiswas the way this House crafted the Act.
Mr Speaker,that was the issue that I got up to raise,which was initially truncated by the HonMinister. Clause 30 (3) provides; which Iquote with your permission: “This section applies to theCorporation where it undertakespetroleum activities under section11 (1).” Corporation is not defined, but it mustbe defined. [Interruption] -- It is notdefined in the document I am holding.
HonMinority Leader, what is the date ofgazette notification for the version youare holding?
Mr Speaker,15th June.
That isthe latest edition.
Mr Speaker,there is a 4th July edition. [Laughter.]
Is thelatest one 4th July? of petroleum shall not commence withoutthe written approval of the PC becausethere is a whole licensing regime.[Interruption.] For example, the PC had to certify thatthe Floating Production Storage andOffloading (FPSO) has the licence toensure that all the things needed are inplace, and that is why this is in place. Mr Speaker, so, it really confirms thatthe PC is part of the process.
Mr Speaker,the Hon Minister's explanation raisesconcerns whether he is asking for alicensing regime by clause 30.[Interruption] -- What it says here is“prior approval.” It does not talk aboutlicensing. If there are licensingrequirements, that we want to put here, itmust be clear. Mr Speaker, clause 30 says that afterwe have gone through everything else,we then need the prior approval of theCommission before we start production. Mr Speaker, that is incongruous withthe preceding clauses. This is becausethey have been dealing with the HonMinister all along. So, when it is time forproduction, should they be required to goand seek prior approval from theCommission? What would they be goingthere for? If the Hon Minister has alreadygranted them all that there is, or otherwise,all they would be doing would be pilingup bureaucratic steps, making it difficultto do business.
Mr Speaker, I thinkthat basically, what the Hon Minister hassaid is that, the procedure should befollowed before production starts. Mr Speaker, when everything is done,before production starts, the PC mustpermit the process. Why? The PC wouldhave to satisfy itself that all the necessary
It is aphrase that finds expression in severalclauses, and it is a good phrase. This isbecause GNPC is our national oilcompany.
Yes. MrSpeaker, so, my worry is that, with this,why then do we at such placesparticularise that this section applies toGNPC?
It meansthat if we do not particularise, then it doesnot apply to it.
So, it doesnot apply?
Yes. Thatis my understanding.
Mr Speaker, in all of thecircumstances we have been describing,GNPC is partner to others. Mr Speaker, ifyou look at clause 11 (1), it says that GNPCcould enter into a petroleum agreementalone and explore, develop and produce is because EPA has always been in theirshadows and it is not healthy. Mr Speaker, maybe, what I am trying toput across may not sound too clear, butthe fact is that -- [Interruption] --Please! Mr Speaker, we cannot look onfor the EPA to always be trailing the miningcompanies.
Thankyou. Hon Member, you have made yourpoint. Hon I. K. Asiamah?
Mr Speaker, I rise onarticle 104 (1) of the Constitution whichstates that: “Except as otherwise provided inthis Constitution, matters inParliament shall be determined bythe votes of the majority ofmembers present and voting withat least half of all the members ofParliament present”. Mr Speaker, it is clear that we do nothave the numbers to take decisions.Standing Order 48 -- I do not think thatwe have the numbers now to do the rightthing.It is 9.00 p.m. and this is a veryserious Bill. We cannot do it around thistime when Hon Members are not in theHouse. So, Mr Speaker, I humbly request thatwe adjourn till tomorrow so that HonMembers would be fully represented totake the decision concerning this particularindustry. Decisions concerning the oilindustry cannot be determined by thisnumber, and also at this odd hour. Weneed to end the debate and continuetomorrow. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker,the Hon Ranking Member said that Ishould not deal with the 4th July edition,but I should deal with the 15th June; but15th June is not there. [Interruption.] Mr Speaker, what we are witnessing isvery serious. This is 15th June --
HonIsaac K. Asiamah, which one are youholding?
Mr Speaker, what Ihave is dated 30th May, 2016.
HonAsiamah, look for the 15th June one. Hon Chairman, which is the correctone?
Mr Speaker, I think the firstday you authorised that we should take it--You asked about the edition becausethat was the problem that came up, and Imade it clear that it should be the 15th June,2016 edition.Therefore, you asked that allHon Members should come with the 15thJune, 2016 edition.
Iremember. This is because 15th June is mybirthday; I remember.
Mr Speaker, with thisomission, we will take note and define itappropriately.
Mr Speaker,I think the important thing is that“Corporation” has not been defined, so,let them define it. That is the firstobservation. Mr Speaker, the second observationis about clause 30 (3), which oil. We are trying to make sure that, underthose circumstances, GNPC would subjectitself to the same rules to get the permitfrom the Petroleum Commission.That is allwhat this tries to do. This is because, ifwe do not do that, then GNPC would saythat -- [Interruption]- - So, it is clear? Allright.
So,GNPC has no advantages as a nationaloil --
The indemnity here is aboutissues of safety and a lot of things.
Thank you,Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I am a bit worried aboutthe attempt to put the EnvironmentalProtection Agency (EPA) in the shadowof the Petroleum -- [Interruption.] Mr Speaker, I do not want to take usback, but when the issue about “inconsultation with EPA” came up, I thoughtwe were going to agree -- [Interruption]Please -- But we did not. When you startfrom clause 30 onwards -- Commencementof petroleum production -- The fact thatthe Commission is supposed to grant thelicense, I thought that we must bring EPAinto the picture. We may think that it is too early, butthen it could also be too late, we do notencourage that partnership and we do notencourage the Petroleum Commission torecognise the EPA. We have had that withother mining operations in this country --[Interruption.] We always give the goahead for them to start, only for the EPAto come in at the latter stages. Mr Speaker, what I would want toencourage the Ministry, GNPC and anyother agency to do is to recognise -- This
I thank you, MrSpeaker.
Mr Speaker, ordinarily,I defer to my Leaders. However, circumstancesare such that we must not be seen to beoverlooking the constitutional provisionswhich are clear, and injunct on us to onlytake a decision in this House, if we have,at least, half of all Hon Members present.The Leader, with all due reverence to him,is inviting Mr Speaker to put the Questionon clause 30. That is to suggest that weshould take a decision on that clause. Mr Speaker, in my opinion, what wewould be doing would be trampling onthe Constitution. The matter, having beenraised, let the records not reflect thatindeed, Mr Speaker's attention was drawnto a breach of the Constitution and hefragrantly disregarded it. I believe in thisone, it is regrettable, but we have beencaught.We must respect the Constitution. I thank you, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker,I appreciate the point raised by the HonMember for Atwima Mponua, which wassupported by the Hon Member forBekwai. I agree with them, but if an issuerelating to quorum is raised, a decisioncannot be taken because it relates to theissue of quorate number required to takea decision, except to observe that,immediately after the issue was raised bythe Hon Member for Atwima Mponua,watching the screen, I saw that a lot ofpeople were populating the Chamber.When I look behind, I see a near fullChamber. I guess there is a reason for that.[Laughter.] Hon Members to consult with theirLeadership on a daily basis on what timewe are going to rise. That is the only waywe could proceed. That brings us to the end of theConsideration Stage of the Petroleum(Exploration and Production) Bill, 2016 fortoday. I hope that tomorrow, we can makesome progress. The clauses we deferred,please, do winnowing in the morning sothat by the time we meet, we can agree. Iam not too comfortable with an investmentspecific law left hanging for a long time. This is because people would want totake decisions involving serious sums ofmoney, but because there is a Bill inParliament, people would not be sure. So,let us do the winnowing. Please, meet yourmembers, agree on clause 10. We deferredclause 30 and a number of other clauses.Try and agree so that we would come to aconclusion. I would also advise the Hon Memberwho made the point on EPA to acquainthimself with the Petroleum CommissionAct, the Environmental Protection AgencyAct, and also with the Minerals andMining Act. I would talk to you tomorrow.[Laughter.] Thank you very much.
Mr Speaker, I thought abetter proposal should have been that,the Hon Member drawing our attentionto the fact that I promised we wouldadjourn at 9.00, and that it is 9.00 p.m.and so, we should put the last Questionand adjourn. Mr Speaker, that would havebeen better than the Hon Member raisingthe issue of definately -- [Inter-ruptions.] Mr Speaker, since we have someoutstanding issues on clause 30, we could-- [Interruption] -- No! They have notresolved the issue, and so, we couldstand that down. Mr Speaker, if you could put theQuestion on clause 30. After that wewould take --
Mr Speaker, I do notthink it is open to us in this House topurport to trample on the Constitution.Article 104 (1) is very clear that this Housecannot take a decision --
I amsurprised that --
Mr Speaker, when theissue of quorum is raised, there is aprocess we have to follow. Before that,the process takes 10 minutes -- MrSpeaker, to put the Question, we takethe vote and adjourn. This is becausesince he raised the issue, other HonMembers have come in, and if they ringthe bell now, many more would come in.So, I said that since your intention is toget us to adjourn, we would just put theQuestion and take a day. Mr Osei-Owusu -- rose --
I waswaiting for the Hon Member to startspeaking without being recognised, butthis time he has seen the trap I have setfor him, and he has jumped out of it. Mr Speaker, it is part of the threatthat is coming from the Hon Member forBekwai. Maybe, we would counsel him,that in this Chamber, an Hon Membercannot issue any threat to another HonMember. [Interruption.] It is part of ourrules, so, he should cease forthwith thethreat that he is issuing. Mr Speaker, I seeHon Members trickling in. [Laughter.] So, Mr Speaker, if you may take advicefrom the Table Officers. I guess they mightadvise that, now we might have sufficientnumbers. Perhaps -- Mr Speaker, I amqualifying it with “perhaps”. That is notto say that I am kowtowing to the threatof my Hon Colleague. Having said all that I have said, MrSpeaker, the proper thing must be done.
HonMembers, the process and the proceduresthat we would have to go through in orderto convince ourselves that we aresquarely caught by article 104 (1), just forthe purpose of putting a Question onclause 30, is not worth the trouble. Itmeans we have to ring the bell and waitfor 10 minutes just for one clause. The point has been made, that we arenot up to the number, it is read into theHansard and we do not breach theConstitution. So, I would defer theQuestion on clause 30, and we shall bringproceedings to a close here. Let me just say that, we all know thatwe are in the last days. So, I would entreat