Hon Members, Correc-tion of Votes and Proceedings. [No correction was made to the Votesand Proceedings of Thursday, 19th May,2016.]
Hon Members, we nowmove on to the Business Statement forthe Second Week. Chairman of the Business Committee?
Mr Speaker, I would want to crave your
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Any comments on theBusiness Statement? Hon Members, Business Statementfor the Second Week ending Friday, 27thMay, 2016 is adopted by the House. Hon Members, item numbered 4 on theOrder Paper -- Urgent Question.
Mr Speaker, I beg tocrave your indulgence and that of theHouse to vary the Order of Business sothat we would be able to take item number6 on the Order Paper. The Hon Minister said he is at thecar park and he would be coming soon.So, by the time we take item number 6, hewould be in to answer Question numbered4 on the Order Paper. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Hon Member, would youwant us to take item number 6?
Yes, Mr Speaker.[Pause.]
Hon Members, the itemnumbered 6 on the Order Paper.
Mr Speaker, I wouldstill want to crave your indulgence andthat of the House for the Hon DeputyMinister for Transport to take this itemon behalf of the Hon Minister who is outof Accra. He has mentioned to me that hisHon Deputy Minister would be here to dothis on his behalf.
Hon Deputy MinorityLeader? [Pause.]
Mr Speaker,I do not have a problem because she isalways around.
You do not have anyproblem?
Mr Speaker, I really donot have a problem with her doing it. Thisis because she is always here. I rememberthat the Hon Minister came here and weasked him to continue with the Bill, butthere was a problem because he could not.He seemed not to have so much interestin the Bill. So, she can continue with it.
Hon Members, itemnumber 6 -- Motion; Hon DeputyMinister for Transport on behalf of theHon Minister for Transport.
BILLS -- THIRD READING
Hon Majority ChiefWhip, you said we should take itemnumbered 6 because then, the HonMinister for Roads and Highways wouldbe in. We have taken item number 6; whereis the Hon Minister?
Thank you verymuch, Mr Speaker, for enduring us. Mr Speaker, I still crave yourindulgence and that of the House for theHon Deputy Minister for Roads andHighways to do this on behalf of the HonMinister, who is out of the country on anofficial assignment. So, the Hon DeputyMinister was the one we were waiting for.
Hon Majority ChiefWhip, what did you tell the House earlier?
Mr Speaker, I amreally very sorry. I was referring --
So, you should withdraw.That is what you should have done firstbefore making an application for the HonDeputy Minster. Otherwise, the firststatement would be on the record.
Mr Speaker, I amreally very sorry. I was referring to theHon Deputy Minister, because he was theone I spoke to. This is because I knew,since three days ago that the HonMinister was out of the country and wehad to negotiate for the Hon DeputyMinister. Instead of postponing the datefor the Questions to be answered, weinsisted that the Hon Deputy Ministershould come.
So, was your earlierreference directed to the Hon DeputyMinister for Roads and Highways?
Mr Speaker, rightlyso. Thank you very much.
Hon Deputy MinorityLeader?
Mr Speaker, we wouldforgive him for his indiscretion.
Very well. Item number 4 -- Hon Member forPrestea/Huni Valley.
ORAL ANSWERS TO URGENTQUESTION
MINISTRY OF ROADS ANDHIGHWAYS
Hon Member, anysupplementary questions?
Mr Speaker, I am satisfiedwith the Answer. This is because in thecourse of the recess, I had theopportunity of meeting with the engineersfrom the Ghana Highway Authorityworking on the bridge.
Hon Member, you are notsupposed to address the House. So, if youdo not have any supplementary question,say so. Then that would end Questiontime.
Mr Speaker, rightly so; I donot have any supplementary question.
Very well. Hon Members, that brings us to theend of Question time. Hon Deputy Minister, thank you forattending upon the House to respond toQuestions from Hon Members.
Mr Speaker, I knowthat when we met, we were to go straightto the Right to Information Bill, 2013. Mr Speaker, but my Colleague, theHon Deputy Minority Leader drew myattention to a number of Public AccountsCommittee Reports on the Order Paper; ifwe could be mindful to do, maybe, one ortwo of the Reports before we move to theRight to Information Bill, 2013, since todayis Friday. Mr Speaker, but I told him that we didnot discuss that.
In fact, I would want toleave the Chair to the Hon First DeputySpeaker and meet the Hon Chairman forthe Public Accounts Committee in myoffice.
Mr Speaker, in thatcase, we may start with the Right toInformation Bill, 2013, so that when youfinish with your meeting --
Absolutely. So, we can start with the Right toInformation Bill, 2013; while the Hon FirstDeputy Speaker prepares to take the Chair.When he takes the Chair, I would meetthe Hon Chairman of the Public AccountsCommittee in my Lobby. Is the Hon Ranking Member for thePublic Accounts Committee here?
MrSpeaker, the Hon Ranking Member isaround. So, I would call him when we leavethe Chamber.
Mr Speaker, then, wecan continue with the Right to InformationBill, 2013, and when we are done withthem, we could take one or two Motions,then continue with the Right toInformation Bill, 2013. Thank you very much, Mr Speaker.
Very well. Hon Members, the Right to Informa-tion Bill, 2013, at the Consideration Stage. The Hon First Deputy Speaker to takethe Chair.
BILLS -- CONSIDERATON STAGE
Where is the HonChairman of the Committee? Which clause are we taking? This isbecause I deferred part of clause 4 when Ihanded over the Chair to the Hon FirstDeputy Speaker. I have realised that youhave not resolved clause 5.
Mr Speaker,yesterday, we deferred clauses 5 and 6.We are still holding consultation with theHon Attorney-General and Minister forJustice on a few issues.
Have you resolved themor should we take clause 7?
Mr Speaker, we shouldtake clause 7.
Very well. Clause 7 -- Information relating to lawenforcement, public safety and nationalsecurity.
Mr Speaker, I beg tomove, clause 7, headnote, delete“enforcement, public safety and nationalsecurity” and insert “enforcement andpublic safety”. Mr Speaker, so, the new rendition forthe headnote will read; “informationrelating to law enforcement and publicsafety.” We are removing “security” fromthat headnote, because that falls squarelyunder clause 9. Question put and amendment agreedto.
Mr Speaker, I beg tomove, clause 7, subclause (1), openingphrase, line 2, at end, add “to” and delete“to” at the beginning of paragraphs (a) to(m). Mr Speaker, the amendment proposedis to make the clause tidier because if youlook at subclauses (a) to (m), we have thepreposition “to” beginning each of theclauses, but we believe that if we put it atthe end of the clause, it will make it tidier. So, Mr Speaker, the new rendition willread; “Information is exempt fromdisclosure if it contains matterswhich if disclosed can reasonablybe expected to…”
Very well. Any comments? Question put and amendment agreedto.
Mr Speaker, I beg tomove, clause 7, subclause (2), openingphrase, at end, add “if” and delete “if” atbeginning of paragraphs (a) to (c).
“Information is not exempt fromdisclosure if, a. if it contains merely of a report… b. If it contains a general… c. If it consists merely… Question put and amendment agreedto.
Mr Speaker, I beg tomove, clause 7, subclause (2), paragraph(a), line 2, delete “agency” and insert“public institution” and in line 3, delete“the” and insert “a”.
“it consists merely of a report onthe success of a programmeadopted by a public institution todeal with a contravention orpossible contravention of a law”.
MrSpeaker, if the Hon Chairman could explainwhat “a report on the success of aprogramme” is. What is that?
Mr Speaker, the idea hereis, if the information required consists onlyof a report indicating the result of aprogramme that had earlier been carriedout, that is what the draftspersoncouched as; “success of a programme”
Mr Speaker, there are toomany words in there. Which of thesubclauses (a) to (m) is this proposedamendment limiting? Which of the clause7, subclauses (a) to (m) is this clause 2 (a)limiting? Mr Speaker, if clause 7 (1) (a) to (m) arespecific things that are exempt, then, wecome to clause 7, subclause (2) (a): “Information is not exempt fromdisclosure a. if it consists merely of a reporton the success of a programmeadopted by an agency to dealwith a contravention or possiblecontravention of the law.”
Yes, HonMember for Wa West?
Mr Speaker,I do not know what my Hon Colleague isreferring to. First of all, the clause 1 with theparagraphs under it are saying one thingand subclause (2) is saying a completelydifferent thing. So, there is no limitationbeing imposed on subclause (1) items. So,I also do not know why he is asking thisquestion. He should rather explain to uswhat he wants us to do.
Mr Speaker, what issubclause 2 making inference from?They are all under clause 7. Clause 7 istalking of exemptions from disclosure. Clause 7(1) has defined specific thingswhere exemptions are going to be applied.Then he comes to clause 7 (2) and he istrying to limit those exemptions and I amsaying that it should be applicable tospecific things. Mr Speaker, this is because, what wejust read cannot apply to clause 7 (1) (c).So, we have to be careful to interpret thewhole thing together such that it will notbe counter-productive to what we aretrying to exempt.
I had thefeeling that they were talking about --apart from what has been listed insubclause (1), they are also giving asituation where it is merely as indicatedthere: a. “. . . if it consists merely of areport on the success of aprogramme adopted by anagency to deal with a contra-vention or possible contra-vention of the law.” It means that, in that kind of situation,it will not be exempt.
Mr Speaker, that is thepoint. If it is not exempt, why bring it here?
For theavoidance of doubt.
Mr Speaker, I can agree,but the whole of clause 7 is aboutexemptions, so, once they have beenexempted, they should leave it there. Thisis because, if it is not exempted, the wholeright to information is to allow one accessto it. If they have listed the exemptions, whydo they go and -- yesterday, a similarsituation happened to clause 4 and MrSpeaker deferred it. That is why I wantedthe Hon Chairman to explain. This isbecause the interpretation of subclauses(a), (b) and (c) under subclause 2 have tobe specific to certain things. If the wholeright to information is that the informationis not exempt, one could go and haveaccess to it but, there can be exemptions.Are we now coming to limit the exemptionsby this sub-paragraph? If the intention is so, then they shouldtell us which specific one they are de-limiting.
Mr Speaker,my understanding is that, clause 7 (1)exempts certain information fromdisclosure. If it falls within clause 7 (1),however, if it, consists merely of areport, et cetera, then it is not exempt. Ifit contains a general outline of thestructures, it is not exempt. That is all. So,I do not understand my Hon Colleague'sdifficulty in appreciating the essence ofthat clause.
Mr Speaker, that is mypoint. If subclause (2) evolves fromclause 1, which accepts that it is comingfrom clause 1, then the Hon Chairmanshould tell us when he takes clause 2 (a),which of the items in subclauses (a) to(m) is sub-limiting?
He needsnot do that. The reason being that, theseones are not creating exemptions. If theywere creating exemptions, then he wouldgo back to clause 7 (1) (a), (b), (c) and soon. This one is saying that, even if itappears to fall in line with what we haveexempted and it is merely for this and that,it cannot be exempt. Mr Osei Bonsu Amoah-- rose --
Yes, HonO. B. Amoah?
Thank you, MrSpeaker. I do not know whether the HonMember for Manhyia South wants to movean amendment -- [Interruption] --because the Hon Chairman is proposingthat instead of “agency” we should insert“public institution”. And clause 7 (2) isjust saying that --
HonMembers, I think we would have tosuspend the consideration of this Bill. TheRt Hon Speaker is entering the Chamberto take some Motions. Hon Members, this brings us to theend of consideration of the Right toInformation Bill, 2013, for now. Thank you.
Hon Members, you mayrecall that there was a Motion on the OrderPaper -- Motion number 8. It was deferredfor further consultations. Theconsultations have concluded and Ibelieve that we should take that Motion. So, item numbered 8 on the OrderPaper.
Mr Speaker, I wouldwant to crave your indulgence and thatof the House for me to take that Motionon behalf of the Hon Majority Leader ofthe House.
Mr Speaker, I believe theHon Chairman of the Public AccountsCommittee spoke with me. I have spokenwith the Hon Minority Leader and the veryconcerns that he came to address werethe things he was talking about. So, he can go ahead and take it.
Very well. Item number 8 -- Hon Majority ChiefWhip on behalf of the Hon MajorityLeader?
Yes, I see the challengeyou are facing, and the Hon Member forSekondi who is quietly heckling you isalso right. The Chairman of the Public AccountsCommittee will give further and betterparticulars. [Interruption.] Yes?
Mr Speaker, I rise tosecond the Motion and in doing so, Iwould want to say that, we have nowreceived evidence of work having beendone, so, we would urge the House tosupport the Motion so that, we can dothe extension to enable the Accountantsdo their work.
Mr Speaker, the veryreason we would want to ask for extensionis that, we believe they did a very goodjob in 2013 when we authorised them todo the auditing. Mr Speaker, 2014 to 2015 have almostelapsed and they are on top of the job;and looking at the report that theypresented for 2013, we believe that itwould only be good to allow them tocontinue so that at least, there would besome continuity in what they are doing.That is the reason we are recommendingthat their contract be extended to cover2014 and 2015, so that there would be somecontinuity from 2013 when the mandatewas given to them. That is why we wantto extend their mandate. Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. Question proposed.
Hon Deputy MinorityLeader and then the Hon RankingMember?
Mr Speaker, one of thereasons this Motion delayed for three days-- otherwise, it would have been taken-- we wanted to find evidence that thereis nothing against the work that they havedone. There is no adverse effect that theyhave not done their work professionally. This is because it would really be unfairfor us as a House that gave them theauthority in the first place. That is whatthe law says; the Constitution says thatas Parliament, we must have an auditor to
audit the Auditor-General. It was thisHouse that gave Messrs Egala, Atitso andAssociates the work to do and report backto us. Now, their mandate is almost aboutto expire and somebody must do the job.Unless there is adverse finding againstthem or there is evidence that they havenot done a good job, then there is no needfor us to withhold, otherwise, it wouldreally be unfair to them. The Auditor-General who is thewatchman needs to be watched and thecountry needs to be convinced that theAuditor-General is doing a very good job.This is because, if you are a Judge andyou are judging other people and youhave cobwebs in your closet, then thereis a problem. So, if the Auditor-General is nowpleading that Parliament should give himan auditor to audit him, and we do nothave any reason to doubt that they havedone a bad job or they have not done thework we have asked them to do, then wewould just have to do that. This is becausewe were looking to see if they did a goodjob with the work we gave them or theydid not. Luckily for us, the information we wereseeking for has come and I believe that itis fairly good by the professionals whoadvised us in this House and who are alsomembers of the Public AccountsCommittee. So, as far as I am concerned, Ibelieve that, Hon Members shouldsupport this and extend the time for them.
Yes, Hon Member forSalaga South and Ranking Member of thePublic Accounts Committee?
Thank you, Mr Speaker,for this opportunity. I believe there should not have beenmuch debate on this issue becauseMessrs Egala, Atitso and Associates isone of the firms which has a track recordof auditing the Auditor-General. Evenbefore we selected them, they had donethis job for the past 10 years with thisParliament. Before we even came, we were allowedto advertise it and about five firms appliedand when they did, three of the firmswithdrew at the end of the day. Thisallowed two firms to go through andMessrs Egala, Atitso and Associates wonit on merit and financial -- that theypresented. When we look at the Reportthat they presented, they did a good jobby auditing the Auditor-General ascompared to the others. In my view, this should not have beensomething that we should have debated.But since Hon Members wanted to adverttheir minds to these things, I believe thereis nothing wrong with that. But I wouldurge the House that we should renew theircontract and let them continue with thegood work they have done and continueto do. I do not have much to say aboutthis. Thank you very much.
The last two on thismatter. I would take the Hon Member forSekondi and then the Hon Member forManhyia South.
Mr Speaker, it is good that theRanking Member of the Public AccountsCommittee has informed the House thatthe position was advertised. So,presumably, this House complied with theprovisions of the Public Procurement Act. Mr Speaker, however, I noted -- Istand corrected, but it does not appear tome that the Public Accounts Committeeitself has submitted a report by this firmto this House on the account of theAuditor-General. Meanwhile, weappointed them and they ought to submita report to this House for us to debate.No report has ever been submitted as faras I recall. So, I am urging the relevant Committeeto ensure that subsequently, at least, weget a small report so that, we are au faitwith what has been going on. But just tosay that they have done a good work sothey should continue, is not enoughreason at all. Presumably, no other firmcan perform as they have, but no, wecannot say that. Mr Speaker, I support the Motion. Thank you very.
Hon Members, theMember for Sekondi is absolutely right.At the end of the day, there must be areport. But the challenge is that, over theyears, we have not streamlined theprocess and that is what this currentParliament is trying to do. In the past, the extensions were doneadministratively and it was discovered.So, we had to go back to correct all thoseadministrative extensions that were done.So, that is part of the problem we arefacing now. I entirely agree with that. When I called the Hon Chairman andthe Ranking Member, one of the reasonwas to see how we could put in place amechanism, so that the Report can cometo the House to be properly debated. The second thing we need to do as aHouse is that, immediately the nextParliament comes, they must performtheir duty under article 187, clause 15, byappointing the Auditor-General right fromthe beginning, so that within the tenureof the next Parliament, we have an auditorto audit the Auditor-General for the period. These are some of the things we needto do, which we, as a House, have notbeen doing over the years. But we aregrowing and evolving, and I believe that,we should keep improving upon the waywe do our work in this House. The last comment.
Mr Speaker, you havesaid it all. I had a problem with the HonChairman of the Committee and the HonRanking Member for getting up to tell thisHouse that they have evidence of somework done and that they have done agood work. That evidence of work doneshould not be kept in their bosom. It isthis House that determines. Mr Speaker, I totally agree with you.But more fundamentally, they should beappointed for a time. That extension andthis extension become very embarrassing.This is because, if we do not get the reportand we do not discuss it --
Hon Member forManhyia South, when we were appointingthe current people, this issue cropped upbut because of the illegal acts of theextension, the period became so long. So,the decision then was that, we see howthey perform and if they do well, then wecould extend it for them. That was why Imade the point that in the next Parliament-- Once the Parliament comes, they mustperform their constitutional duty byappointing the auditor to audit theAuditor-General right from the beginning.
Mr Speaker, the adviceis well taken. I believe the House shouldput that process in place so that we coulddo a better job next time. I support the Motion. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Hon Members, before Iput the Question, I would urge the HonChairman and the Hon Ranking Memberto advise the Speaker on how to treatthose reports. So that the House couldhave these reports properly debated anda decision taken on them. Question put and Motion agreed to. Achimota- Ofankor Road Project(Construction) Report of PAC on the PerformanceAudit Report
Mr Speaker, Ibeg to move, that this Honourable Houseadopts the Report of the Public AccountsCommittee on the Performance AuditReport of the Auditor-General on theConstruction of the Achimota-OfankorRoad Project. Mr Speaker, I however, want topresent the Committee's Report after theexamination of the Auditor-General'sPerformance Audit Report that was laidand appropriately referred to theCommittee. Introduction The Performance Audit Report of theAuditor-General on the construction ofAchimota-Ofankor road project was laidin Parliament on Tuesday, 26th November2013 in accordance with article 187(2) and(5) of the 1992 Constitution of the Republicof Ghana. Pursuant to Order 165(2) of theStanding Orders of Parliament, the Reportwas referred to the Public AccountsCommittee by the Rt. Hon. Speaker forconsideration and report. Procedure To consider the Report, the Committeeinvited representatives of the under-listedorganisations to appear before it aswitnesses to testify on behalf of theirrespective organisations regarding theissues raised in the Auditor-General'sReport and ancillary matters. i. The Ministry of Roads andHighways. ii. Ghana Highway Authority. iii. Ministry of Finance. iv. TABCON Consult. v. China Railway Wuju (Group)Corporation vi. Central Tender Review Board. On appearing before the Committee,the witnesses took an oath and answeredquestions relating to the issues andqueries raised in the Auditor-General'sReport, the object and functions of theirrespective organisations and on issues ofgeneral public interest. The Deputy Auditor-General, (Mr YawAgyei Sifah) and a Technical Team fromthe Audit Service were also present at theCommittee's sitting to assist in itsdeliberations. Acknowledgements The Committee is grateful to the HonMinister for Roads and Highways and allother witnesses who appeared before theCommittee to assist in its deliberations. The Committee also expresses itsprofound appreciation to the DeputyAuditor-General and the technical teamfrom the Audit Service for the immenseassistance rendered to the Committeethroughout the deliberations on theReport. The Committee further extends itsappreciation to STAR-Ghana forsupporting its activities and the Mediafor broadcasting the proceedings of theCommittee. Reference documents The Committee was guided by thefollowing documents during itsdeliberations: i. The 1992 Constitution of theRepublic of Ghana ii. The Standing Orders of theParliament of Ghana iii. The Financial AdministrationAct, 2003 (Act 654) iv. The Public Procurement Act,2003 (Act 663) v. The Ghana Highway AuthorityAct, 1997 (Act 540) vi. The Audit Service Act, 2000 (Act584) vii.The Internal Audit Agency Act,2003 (Act 658) viii. The Financial AdministrationRegulations. 2004 (L.I. 1802) Background The Achimota to Ofankor road projectforms part of the major development works component of the Road SectorDevelopment Programme (RSDP). It is partof the Accra - Kumasi trunk road whichhad been a single-lane prior to November2006. Being a single lane, that stretch ofroad could not contain the increasedvolume of traffic of about 15,000 vehiclesper day. As a result, commuters spent hours onend to cover the 5.7 kilometre road. Toease the traffic congestion, and alsoimprove transport services on the road,the Government of Ghana, acting throughthe Ministry of Roads and Highways andthe Ghana Highway Authority, com-menced the project in 2006 to upgrade the5,7kilometre stretch of road from a singlelane to a dual carriageway. The project, which was wholly fundedby the Government of Ghana was awardedto Messrs China Railway Wuju (Group)Corporation at an estimated cost ofGH¢40.4 million. Works on the Projectstarted on the 15th of November 2006 andwas scheduled to be completed on the14th November, 2009. As at December 2011, the project hadexceeded the expected completion date by25 months and the works was about 88per cent completed. The estimated costhad also shot up to GH¢128 millionrepresenting an increase of about 217 percent. Purpose and scope of the Audit The audit was carried out by theAuditor-General to determine whetherGhana Highway Authority (GHA) ensuredthat the Achimota to Ofankor road projectwas designed and implemented to meetspecifications, delivered on time and atthe estimated cost. Thus the audit focusedon two lines of enquiry:
Funding for the Achimota-Ofankor RoadProject The Achimota-Ofankor road projectwas financed from the Consolidated Fundwith annual budgetary allocations. In theyear 2007, payments were not made inrespect of the project although there wasa budget allocation whilst in 2009payments were made though a budgetwas not provided. The Annual budgetary allocations andactual expenditure on the project fromNovember 2006 to December 2011 isshown in the table below: Budget and Expenditure on the Achimota-Ofankor Road Project from November 2006 to December 2011 SPACE FOR TABLE - PAGE 9 - 10.45 A.M. Source: The Performance Audit Report of the Auditor-General credited to the MRHMTEF Budget Estimates for 2006 to 2011 and the Achimota-Ofankor Project ProgressReport No. 33. Key players and their responsibilities onthe project Organisations that bore keyresponsibilities for the construction of theAchimota-Ofankor road project were theMinistry of Roads and Highways (MRH),the Ghana Highway Authority (GHA), theMinistry of Finance (MoF) and the ChinaRailway (Wuju) Group Corporation(CRWGC). The Ministry of Roads and Highways(MRH) was the employer or the projectowner, acting on behalf of the Governmentof Ghana. The Ministry was responsiblefor reporting to Cabinet, progress ofworks on the project, approving interimPayment Certificates (IPCs) before theyare submitted to the Ministry of Financefor payment, as well as reviewing majorchanges made by GHA before it is forwarded to the Ministry of Finance forapproval. The GHA, a body under the MRH, wasresponsible for the planning, developingand administering of the Achimota-Ofankor road project. The GHA was alsoresponsible for the appointment of theresident engineer, approving changessuggested by the resident engineer, aswell as issuing variation orders and IPCs. The Ministry of Finance provided thebudget for the project. It disbursed fundsto settle IPCs submitted by GHA on behalfof the Contractor. China Railway (WUJU) GroupCorporation (CRWGC) was the Contractorresponsible for the construction of theAchimota- Ofankor road project. CRWGCwas required to execute the contractaccording to the drawings andspecifications. It was responsible formaintaining the project site, conductingtests on materials and components andforwarding the results to the residentengineer for approval. Observations and recommendations Contractor selection did not meet the fullrequirements of the Public ProcurementLaw Section 45 (2) (c) of the PublicProcurement Act, 2003 (Act 663) providesthat tenderers should be allowed, at least,six weeks for the submission of theirtenders (either pre-qualification or theactual tender). This provision is to allow sufficient timefor the invitation to reach the tenderers toenable them prepare their tenders basedon information that is clear andunderstandable. The Committee noted that, the GHAadvertised the sale of pre-qualificationdossiers in the two national dailies,theGhanaian Times and the Daily Graphic.Eleven (11) international firms purchasedthe pre-qualification dossiers. However,seven (7) submitted their applications tothe GHA. Out of the seven (7), GHA pre-qualified three (3) firms. GHA thereafterforwarded tender documents without alldrawings and a Bill of Quantities (BQQ)to the three (3) firms. As a result, the three (3) firmssubmitted fifty-seven (57) queries to theGHA for clarification. GHA met with thefirms and discussed the queries.Thereafter, two of the tenderers maderequests for extension of time to enablethem submit their tenders but theirrequests were turned down, leaving onlyone firm, Messrs China Railway (WUJU)Group Corporation (CRWGC) qualifyingto be evaluated and awarded the contract. Interrogating the issue, it came to thefore that the GHA used two weeks for thepre-qualification process, after which theGHA gave the pre-qualified tenderers fiveweeks to submit their tenders. Due to thetenderers inability to meet the five weeksdeadline and upon their request, the GHAextended the period by two weeks. The Committee was however of theview that considering the processes that,the tender went through, GHA shouldhave given the tenderers sufficient timeto enable them meet the criteria set in theInstructions to Tenderers for both theprequalification and actual tendering. At the pre-qualification stage forinstance, four (4) tenderers could notprovide detailed pre-qualificationdocuments even though they arereputable competent contractors. The Committee is of the view thatcompetition thrives on more participaton
MrSpeaker, I rise to second the Motion, andby so doing, give the followingobservation. Mr Speaker, this is a project which hasa good intention, and which if implementedfollowing the latter, would have given thecountry a whole value for money.However, I must say that this is a projectthat has been embedded with so manyproblems, in such a way that though theproject was supposed to commence in2006 and be completed by 2009, as at thetime of audit in 2009, the initial money ofGH¢ 40.4 million of the project had alreadyreachedGH¢128 million and yet the projectwas not still completed. That is an increaseof about 217 per cent. A lot of the procurement process wasnot followed by the Ghana HighwayAuthority, especially, when it came to thevariation of the project. Like theCommittee Reported, there should have been a warning to the Ghana HighwayAuthority officials who did not follow theprocess. Vehicles were included in the contractofficially, which I must say, did not havemuch to do with the project. For example,it included vehicles like Lexus, Benz or aBayerische Motoren Werke AG(BMW) tothe project and signed it, knowing thatwe did not need the BMW to monitor aproject like a road construction. So, I thought from the beginning thatthis contract, which was signed,had aproblem with this project, and the Housemust look at that one and take a seriouslook, and give a warning to those officialsin the Ghana Highway Authority, so thatthey would be deterred from going intosuch a contract, which has no value formoney to the country. Mr Speaker, with these few words, Isecond the Motion on the floor.
Mr Speaker, with mylittle experience at the Public AccountsCommittee, this is one single interrogationthat I find worrying. This is because, itseems to me that, a lot of infractions werecommitted. What brought about the need to expandthis major road was the issue ofcongestion. Mr Speaker, as the economyis growing and individuals would acquirevehicles, we should think aboutalternative ways of transport. If we payregard to the British underground whereone is very sure that there would be alarge human traffic but the roads will nothelp in bringing road users to theirdestinations, with due respect, thealternative to road construction should berailway construction. So, as the economy is expanding, we should look at it as avery powerful alternative to solving someof these problems. One of the issues which really amazedme was that in Ghana we are developing abad habit, that when it comes to roadconstructions, the timelines do not matter. Mr Speaker, every contract should havea timeline, where the contractor is dutybound to finish a project within some timeframe, and if it is found out that theproblem is coming from the contractor,then the contractor should pay the clientssome good money for delays, rather thanthe other way round, where the contractis delayed, and there are cost overruns --and I would come to the issue of interestshortly. So, for a 5.7 kilometre road it was goingto take three years to finish -- Mr Speaker,is that what obtains in other civilisedenvironments? Is our engineeringprowess so bad that when it came to us todo just a 5.7 kilometre road it takes threeyears? Of course, we are not asexperienced as Dubai, where we have toconstruct roads through the sea. I thinkthat this delay in time is unpardonable,and we should consider the way we lookat it. Mr Speaker, I was also frightened bythe cost overrun. The estimated costoverrun, shot up to GH¢128 million and itis calculated as 207 per cent of thecontract sum. Mr Speaker, I do not know the kind ofarrangement this is, because I am of theview that before we start any roadconstruction, we should know where weare going and the quantities are sure. Butif our cost overrun should be so bad tothe extent that it is in the neighbourhoodof 217 per cent, then it is a bad projectwith maybe good intentions. Mr Speaker, I would want to addressone important matter, which is that, we could not have value for money, becauseof the fact that, the Ghana HighwayAuthority stampeded the process. In fact,it is captured that, they did not evenproduce the quantities when they weredoing the tendering process. I am not an engineer, but how can wesay people should do serious competitivebidding when we have not supplied thequantities? So, with what were they goingto quantify the work and the rest? It iscaptured in paragraph 9.1: Which withyour permission states “GHA thereafter forwarded tenderdocuments without all drawings anda Bill of Quantities (BOQ) to thethree (3) firms.” Mr Speaker, some of the tendererschickened out, because they could notmeet the kind of arrangement that hadbeen put in place. So, we should not laughon this matter. The Ghana HighwayAuthority should be up and about. I amof the view that, the officers who wereresponsible for these arrangementsshould be sanctioned. This is because, ifwe do not have the so called competitivebidding, Ghana is short changed. We donot get best price, and so value for moneycannot be achieved. Mr Speaker, do you care to know that,by reason of the serious issues of delayedpayments, the interest componentballooned to GH¢4.40 million? -- Interestcharges only. This is because whenthey submit their payments, they are noteffected in time. And because thecontract had a clause that, interest couldbe exacted on delayed payments, Ghanawas faced with the situation in which wehad to pay GH¢4.40 million. Mr Speaker, I am of the humble viewthat, those who were responsible for theseissues should not go scot free. We shouldlook at it.
Please, I beg you. --[Laughter.]
Very well, Mr Speaker,I apologise. For diplomatic vehicles beingcommandeered for purposes of roadinspection is weird. And if you say thatGHA should be dealt with, I am of thehumble view that they would not packageanything for an Hon Minister to look at.Rather, it is the Hon Minister who permittedhimself to be messed up by GHA whoshould take a blame. Mr Speaker, is that all? Comprehensiveinsurance on the vehicle was US$6,672.71.Other expenditure deemed not to be relatedto the project are backstopping -GH¢50,000; posting allowances for 13GHA staff transferred to the head office -GH¢37,364.75. While we are constructing roads andwe need every drop of the cedi, postingallowances swallowed these huge sumsof money. Conversion of GHA's archivedbasement into offices and renovation ofthe Deputy CEO's office -- GH¢33,225.62. Mr Speaker, these are frighteningsituations. Mr Speaker, are weconstructing a road or we are trying toimprove our comfort as an agency ofGovernment?
Thank you very much, MrSpeaker, for the opportunity to contributeto this Motion. Mr Speaker, reading the Report of theCommittee, they did a very good job. Thesection of the road that the Report talkedabout is also one that we have all in thepast complained about. It was a goodthing for the Government to try to dosomething about it. Mr Speaker, we are talking about a roadof 5.7 kilometres at an initial cost of justover GH¢40 million. I am not sure if thatproject is completely done now, but thecost now is about GH¢128 million. Mr Speaker, it would work out to beprobably, one of the most expensive roadsin the country where a kilometre would beGH¢20 million. On the face of it, it is scarythat a kilometre of road would be morethan GH¢20 million. It is also clear that, the people who putthe project together probably did not doa very good job. Like my Senior Colleaguesaid, there is no need for anybody topackage a project and put in one of themost luxurious saloon cars as a monitoringvehicle on a construction site. What isthe point in that? Those people who packaged it andthose who actually sanctioned thepurchase of those vehicles must bury theirheads in the sand. It is not merely aboutthe fact that the technocrats put in a 7series BMW in a document and a Ministerdid not know anything about civilengineering so he signed it. Those whosigned it must also bury their heads in thesand. Mr Speaker, I am not sure if there ismuch we can do, but there is somethingin the Report that we must be carefulabout. I am saying this because, wepoliticians are fond of taking figures on the face value and just run with it. It wouldhave been a good day today foreverybody to say that the Achimota-Ofankor road, a kilometre is GH¢22 million. If you go through the document, forinstance, you would see that at Tantra Hill,a bridge was changed from --
Whicht page andparagraph are you reading from?
Mr Speaker, page 9,paragraph 3. It lists some of the changesthat happened to the projects. A bridgewith three span from 1,495 kilometres to2,674. Obviously, once we begin to varylengths, it comes with cost but if you donot go into it, you would not understandthe reason the figure went all that bad. Secondly, they originally estimated tobuild a retaining wall of 750 metres. Theyended up building over 12,000. All thesethings are in the document, but how come,like my Hon Colleague said, we actuallyestimated something that it would be 750and it went to 12,000. These are the things;so it is very important that this documentis in this House, because we the politiciansare the ones who actually confuse thepublic with the face value of the figureswithout telling them the details. While it is quite scary that a kilometreshould be GH¢20 million in this country -
Hon Member for Adaklu,you made the point about GH¢20 millionper kilometre. Now, are you correcting orqualifying the statement you have made?
Mr Speaker, I am justclarifying --
Mr Speaker, I am justsaying that, if the project was just aboveGH¢40 million and now it is over GH¢128million, then 5.7 kilometres would surelybe over GH¢20 million per kilometre. It isimportant that when we get these figures,we go into the details or breakdown. WhileI would not take kindly the fact that GhanaHighway Authority (GHA) probablyawarded the project without all thenecessary work done, it is also importantthat we look through the details as to whythe project went that bad. This should serve as an example as towhy we should package projects properlyand then take time to award them beforewe start. Otherwise, it would surely leadto loss of money to the State. I supportthose who say that, this should not justbe left like that. We want GHA to tell us the lessonsthey have learnt in this method ofprocurement and all that has gone wrong.This is because, that could serve as anexample so that when we are passing loansor Agreements in this House, we wouldknow what to look for and what to guardagainst.
Hon Members, I wouldtake two more, I have got the sense of theHouse on this matter. I would take the HonMember for Tarkwa-Nsuaem and theSecond Deputy Majority Chief Whip.
Thank you, MrSpeaker. As a House, I am wondering if we coulddo anything to mitigate these problemsthat have arisen out of the Committee'sReport. We need to do something,because all the points raised by the
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for theopportunity to make a contribution on theMotion. First of all, this is one major project thathas transcended through three variousGovernments in this country. We did nothave a similar project of its nature in anypart of the country to compare with thisproject we are discussing. We must beginby commending the various Heads ofState for taking that bold initiative. Mr Speaker, in those days, those of usfrom the hinterlands, when somebody wasto travel to Accra, what became theirheadache at that time was the trafficcongestion on this single lane - fromCircle, Achimota and Ofankor. Peoplespent hours and sometimes, those whowere coming for official duties wouldspend half of the day in traffic. It was forthis reason that in 2006 -- If you look at the budgeted amount inthat year alone, it was GH¢159,000. Thatwas the budgeted amount in 2006 per theReport. The actual expenditure then wasGH¢7.1 million. This should tell us that,from the onset, we did not properly costthe project that we were going into simplybecause we did not have a similar activityof that nature before. Therefore, we could only compare and do proper costing andPlanning when we had already taken asimilar activity. If you even read the Report, it saysthat, when they were saying that theywould use GH¢40.4 million in executingthat project, it was without a design. Whenone is going to build a house and one donot have the design, how can one knowthe cost? We should not paint it like weactually designed a project that wouldhave costed the nation GH¢40.4 millionand ended up spending GH¢128 million.That was not the case. The actual designswere not known as at 2006. Mr Speaker, they ended up doing morethan they intended to and I am happy thatthe Hon Member for Adaklu came out withsome of the designs moving from 750,000metres to 12,000 metres and othersmoving from 3 to 19. We cannot blameanybody thoroughly for this, simplybecause, it was not calculated that somehouses would be pulled down. But as andwhen they were moving from two tofourlanes, technically, most storey-buildings along the stretches of the roadwere affected. In that regard, since we did not knowthe end product before costing it and wedid not have the drawings either -- Eventhe contractors who went for the pre-qualifications, according to thedocuments, did it without the designs. So,if we embark on such a project and giveGhanaians such a good engineeringdesign that we have now, anybodyentering Accra now begins to praiseGhanaians. They say Ghana, you have such niceroads in your country. Sometimes weshould be happy that we have such aproject. With this alone, I end my contributionhere and call on Hon Colleagues to makesure that we adopt the Report.
Hon Members, thatbrings us to the end of the -- Alhaji Muntaka -- rose --
I made a point that Iwould take two and that is why I took theHon Member for Tarkwa-Nsuaem. TheHouse was virtually ad idem on this issue.
Mr Speaker, I thoughtyou were coming to the Leadershipbecause I have been standing from thebeginning. I have been on my feet rightfrom the beginning of the debate.
Hon Majority Leader,then Hon Minority Leader? Hon Member,you know we pick from here then we pickfrom there. We just heard from the Majorityside. So, we should move to the Minority.But nobody signalled me and in actualfact, the Minority Leader also did notsignal that he wanted to contribute. I donot know -- I am minded to put theQuestion unless the two of you insist thatyou want to -- Are you insisting?
We cannot insist butwe plead with you to give us a few minutesto have a bite.
Thank you very much,Mr Speaker. I was just trying to do some arithmetic.Even in the first year of implementation,what was the percentage hike in theestimated price of what they wanted todo? In the first year alone, the project wentup by more than 452 per cent. If you look at the document presentedby the Committee, on page 5, the table, in2006, the budgeted amount expected to be spent out of the GH¢ 40 million -- Theywere expected to spend aboutGH¢159,500. By the end of that year, theyended up spending GH¢7,187,917 -- overGH¢7 million. GH¢160,000 budgeted forGH¢7 million spent. I thought right from the beginning,there was the need for them to be realisticto know that for this budget, the expectedexpenditure of GH¢40 million could nolonger build the road. Mr Speaker, even if you pick it up, in2007 they budgeted --
Did the Committeeinterrogate the fact on whether they wantto be doing it in phases or they thoughtthat the initial amount of GH¢160,000which ballooned to GH¢7 point somethingmillion in 2006 was to finish the wholeroad? We need to take all these parametersinto account.
Rightly so, MrSpeaker. That is why I am saying that ifright from the beginning, they estimatedthat they could use GH¢159,000 to startthe project and yet, just at the start, theyspent GH¢7,000,000 which is over 400 percent, I thought that it should have sentthe authorities the signal that theestimated GH¢40,000,000 was not goingto be enough. Mr Speaker, if one looks at the project,it was estimated to be in Ghana cedis; thiswas international tender. Most of theequipment they used had a foreigncurrency component. In 2006, thisGH¢40,000,000 was close to almostUS$50,000,000. By the year 2013, when they werealmost finished, if one converted the sameUS$50,000,000 as at the year 2006, it wasgoing to be more than the GH¢128,000.000.
Hon Majority ChiefWhip, are you also looking at the flip sidewhere there is no project vehicle tomonitor the project? This is because, GoGis not making funds available. We have tolook at this matter from a holisticperspective.
Mr Speaker, I do notdispute that. That is why I am saying that,they should not “in- build” their vehiclerequirements.
If it is because of theluxury element, it is a legitimate argumentbut not in terms of the fact that, there wasno project.
If they are even goingto have the project, it should be explicitlyknown.
Yes, Hon Chairman of theCommittee?
Mr Speaker, I justwant to inform my Hon Colleague that,what he is saying is part of therecommendations in the Report and I thinkhe should make appropriate reference tothat.
“The Committee recommends thatthe MRH should ensure thatactivities not directly related toprojects are not provided budgetlines by the GHA in future projects.”
Mr Speaker, that isexactly what I was saying, that, we shouldnot end by just taking the Resolution. Bycommunicating it --
Hon Majority ChiefWhip, you told me you were going tospend some few minutes.
Yes, Mr Speaker. Iwould end soon. Mr Speaker, we should communicatethis to the Ministries. This is because,when we take our Resolutions very fewMinistries may want to follow up to seewhat Parliament has recommended. Wemust officially write to notify them that,this is what we have seen and these arewhat our expectations are, so that in future-- They may need some project vehicles,but what kind of vehicles, are they goingto request for? I do not think if they needed a trainingcomponent, they have to wait for a projectand use part of that money to go to GhanaInstitute of Management and PublicAdministration (GIMPA) to train theirstaff. I do not think that is proper. Mr Speaker, with these few comments,I would want to urge that, this Reportand the project that was carried shouldbe looked at vis-a-vis the exchange rateof our country, so that, we do not lose iton our mind that, when in the year 2006,GH¢40,000,000 which was in equivalent toabout US$50,000,000, can be the sameGH¢40,000,000 in 2013. That obviouslywould be an error.
Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, thank you for theopportunity to also make some remarksabout the Report before us which hasbeen submitted by the Public AccountsCommittee. Mr Speaker, the very genesis of thisproject; I think there were a few mattersthat arose the first few years, that if theParliamentary Committee on Roads andTransport was liberated to act proactively-- And I always insist on this. Mr Speaker, a Parliament is as strongas its Committee's make it. If we do notliberate our Committees work, we shallalways be resorting to postmortems whichwould not do this nation any good. Mr Speaker, that is the bottomline. Weallocate resources to committees andinstead of releasing the moneys toCommittees to work, the Committees arestarved of money. These things would notbe happening the way they have beenhappening if Parliamentary Committeesare liberated to do their charge.
Hon Minority Leader, isthere any occasion when the Committeein charge of Roads and Transport wantedto go for a trip on these projects from 2006but were prevented from going? A numberof applications have come to me fromCommittees going on monitoring and Iapprove all of them.
Mr Speaker,I am talking in general terms. I know if itcomes to citing examples, examples wouldabound. Mr Speaker, let us be very honest withourselves. If it comes to citing examples,they abound. That is not to indict theSpeakership, but the general structure.
Hon Minority Leader, Iam sorry to say this for the records. WhenParliament approves the funds, the wholefund -- it is not like the House ofCommons, where when it is approved,the Clerks to the House of Commons goto the Bank of England and collect all themoney and put it inside account. So,committees are in the position to accesstheir money. We do not have that inGhana. That was why in 2008, we passed anamendment to the Parliamentary ServiceAct, so that, the way of treating fundsfor Parliament would be on the same lineas that of the Audit Service and that of -it does not happen. We do not get all themoney at a go. That is the reality. And for the records,because people are listening to us, HonMinority Leader, it is important to situatethe submissions within the realities on theground. That is the truth of the matter. If it were in the House of Commons,where once it is approved, the Clerk goesto the Governor of the Bank of Englandand collects the money for Parliament, itwould be there throughout the processand they will all have access to it. Wehave to manage your cash flow as andwhen it comes; that is the truth of thematter. One would have to prioritise attimes, based on the available resources.
Mr Speaker,I take this as complementary to what I amsaying.
I do not wantto believe that you are descending intothe debate. That is why I am saying that itis complementary to what I am saying. Mr Speaker, the need for a reform ofhow Parliament conducts its Business isat the heart of it. That is the issue that Iam raising and that is why I am sayingthat, it was complementary to what I amsaying; otherwise, we shall remain in thisquagmire. Mr Speaker, the Hon Majority ChiefWhip raised some issues about dollarrating in the cost. I think it is significant,but there are some matters that one alsohas to look at. For instance, in 2007, whenan amount was budgeted for the project,it was not utilized at all. Mr Speaker, in 2009, there was nobudget at all for it, yet an expenditure ofGH¢11,557,368.00 was made against nobudget. How did it happen? I am sayingthat, if our Committees were workingproactively, these things would nothappen. And the Ministers would bestopped in their tracks. Mr Speaker, there are many things thatone could look at. For instance, theCommittee informs us, and it is capturedon page 9 of the Auditor-General's Reportthat, by way of explaining the costoverruns — Mr Speaker, I beg to quote: “Other major changes to the projectdesign were as follows: i. Mile 7 and Ofankor bridges wereredesigned from 4-span to 19-span. ii. Tantra Hill bridge was changedfrom 3-span bridge of 1,495m3reinforced concrete to 2,674 m3reinforced concrete boxunderpass. iii. The retaining walls were alsoincreased from a length of 750 mto 12,000 m.” Mr Speaker, I do not believe that. What is the length of that bridge? That12,000 m translates to over 8kilometres. Itcannot be. So, if anybody is justifyingthe cost overrun by citing that, that is ahumongous exaggeration — [Laughter]—What is that? It is on page 9 of the Auditor-General's Report and Mr Speaker I beg toquote: “The retaining walls were alsoincreased from a length of 750 m to12,000 m” Mr Speaker, I thought 1,200 m perhapswould be reasonable — 12,000m —8 kilometres of retaining walls. Where isit? And they justify the cost overrun bythis example. Mr Speaker, I would want to suggestthat, as obtains elsewhere, whenGovernment agencies do designs, they arereferred to other bodies for vetting. In otherwords, due diligence would have to beconducted in any drawings, architecturalor engineering, that are done bygovernment agencies. It obtainselsewhere. Why can we not do it? Mr Speaker, there should be awatchman watching the watchman. Otherthan that, we shall always have problems. Mr Speaker, the process of procurementthat the Committee has related to — Theyhave even indicated the timespan and suggested to us that, there was noreasonable explanation on time allocatedby the body that was in charge of theprocurement and it appears that, a fewthings also happened there in the process. Mr Speaker, the interest on delayedpayments is something that we haverelated to and my Hon Colleague, the HonMember for Adaklu (Mr Govers KwameAgbodza) emphasised that point. Weshould be careful as a nation. This isbecause, in the contracts at the Ministryof Roads and Transport, they wouldusually insert that, whenever one raisesinvoices and one is not able to pay within90 days, it should attract lending rateinterest. So, they delayed for about two years,and when payment comes to be effected,because the interest rate is compounded,one would sometimes end up paying threetimes or perhaps 400 per cent of theoriginal amount for the same stretch ofroad. How does it happen? That is whymy Hon Colleague related to it that at theend of the day, a kilometre stretch wouldcost about over GH¢20 million. Mr Speaker, of course, he did not factorin the span. One would not get the sameamount if it was dual carriage. If it is athree or four lanes, the differences wouldreflect. So when we talk about averagingthe cost of road construction, one wouldhave to factor that in. We now have todivide it by the number of lanes to give usthe actual, and that should tell us thatmaybe, the stretch is about a US$1millionper kilometre or US$1.5million perkilometre, et cetera. But we should be concerned as anation that, from US$480,000, we are nowgradually moving up. Today, we are in theregion of about US$1.5 million to US$1.6per kilometre. It is untenable and we keepmaking this case over and over again. Mr Speaker, I think that at the end ofthe day, the unfortunate thing is, we spendso much to construct roads and withinthree to four years, the asphalt overlaystarts peeling off and we would have todo them over again. We have neglected our railway system,yet, we all do know that, carrying bulkyitems would necessarily have to resortto rail networks, otherwise the cost ofconstructing roads in this country wouldrun the country bankrupt. Mr Speaker, it is important that we lookat rail construction. It would not be helpfulif we resort to only roads as the primarymeans of transportation to the neglect ofrailways and other means of transpor-tation. Mr Speaker, however, having said that,whoever should be sanctioned must besanctioned so that we set a trend for thiscountry that, people cannot act withimpunity. Question put and Motion agreed to.
I direct that the reporttogether with the comments of HonMembers be forwarded to the Ministry ofRoads and Highways and its agenciesfor them to get the sense of the House. [Referred to the Ministry of Roads and Highways] Hon Members, the argument has beenon the floor from both sides of the Housethat, we should sanction. I think that theCommittee on Roads and Transport hasfailed this House. I say this is because this was not aone- year project. Each year, they bring itto you and you recommend forappropriation and they give you theexpenditure returns. If the Committee on Roads andTransport, looking at it that it has movedfrom GH¢159,000 to GH¢7 million as weare being told, why did they not raise thered flag at that time? They do not needmoney to go to Ofankor to raise the redflag at that stage. If the Committee haddone their work well at that time -- TheCommittee did not need money to do that. But they recommended that, thebudget of the Ministry and subsequentbudgets of the Ministry on this projectshould be approved. It is the Committeethat has failed this House and the Househas also failed the people. We all have to take blame on this matterincluding those who engineered theproject, those who did not followprocurement procedures, those whoadded unrelated expenditures, those whodid the monitoring -- All of them. And weshould accept responsibility and it shouldbe a lesson for all of us. When committees look at estimates ofMinistries, Departments and Agencies(MDAs), they have to look at the previousexpenditure as to what has been approvedby the House against what they are askingand they can raise the red flag for theinformation of the House in adopting theestimates of that Ministry. Hon Members, this should be an eye-opener for all of us. Thank you.
Mr Speaker, I amvery sorry as I should have said this earlyon. I just would want to remind you thatyou continue to direct communicatingthis Report --
I have done that.
Hon Members, we goback to the Right to Information Bill, 2013. Mr First Deputy Speaker to prepare andtake the Chair. Chairman of the Committee, can youguide the Chair -- Right to InformationBill at the Consideration Stage?
Mr Speaker, we weredebating clause 7 (2) (a).
Is that item (xiii) or (xiv)?
Mr Speaker, item (xvi).
Chairman of theCommittee, move the amendment.
BILLS -- CONSIDERATIONSTAGE
Mr Speaker, theamendment had been moved.
Hon Members, we are onclause 15. It had been moved. Order! Order!
Mr Speaker,I think my Hon friend, the Member ofParliament for Manhyia South raised anissue in relation to subclause (1) but he isnot here. In fact, he did not oppose it; he wantedan explanation. We have given him theadvice so you can put the Question. Question put and amendment agreedto.
Mr First Deputy Speakerto take the Chair at this stage.
MR FIRST DEPUTY SPEAKER
Yes, HonChairman of the Committee?
Mr Speaker, I beg tomove, clause 7, subclause (2), paragraph(b), line 3, delete “an enactment” and insert“a law”. The new rendition reads: “It contains a general outline of thestructures of a programme adopted byan agency to deal with a contraventionor possible contravention of a law,or”. Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu— rose --
Mr Speaker,I was just struggling to follow theChairman of the Committee. If I heard him right, I think earlier, hehad moved for the deletion of the word“agency” to “public institution”. Hecomes down and then he repeats“agency”; he is not deleting andinserting ‘public institution” -- I do notknow and I am not following it. But Ithought that maybe consequentially, thatshould also be deleted.
Yes,Chairman of the Committee, how do yourespond?
Mr Speaker, yes, I agreewith the Hon Minority Leader that itshould be a consequential amendment. Mr Speaker, I therefore seek your leaveto delete line 2 “an agency” and substituteit for “a public institution”.
HonMembers, I will put the Question. [Pause] Yes, Hon W. O. Boafo, are you up?
Mr Speaker, theChairman did not give any reason forsubstituting “a law” for ‘an enactment'.
Mr Speaker, theCommittee felt that using “a law” wouldbe neater than retaining ‘an enactment'over there.
I do notknow but is it not a question of semanticsas to whether it is ‘an enactment' or ‘alaw'?
Mr Speaker, if you look atthe paragraph within which he purportsto make the substitution, it deals more with“an enactment” rather than “a law”. I donot know of any common law rule orequity involved in this matter. I think itdeals more with ‘an enactment' rather thanthe general law.
Mr Speaker,my understanding of the Constitution isthat in article 11, enactments form part oflaws. That law is much morecomprehensive because, it says in article11 that: “The laws of Ghana shall comprise -- (a) this Constitution; (b) enactments ... (c) any Orders, Rules and Regula-tions ... (d) the existing law; and (e) the common law”. In that context, I would want to believethat “law” is much more omnibus in naturethan “enactment”.
Yes, HonDeputy Attorney-General and Ministerfor Justice?
Mr Speaker, Irise to support the Hon Minority Leader'sposition on this matter. Mr Speaker, if you refer to article 295of the Constitution which buttressesarticle 11 of the Constitution, it defines anenactment more broadly. It says that itmeans an Act of Parliament, a Decree, alaw, a Constitutional Instrument, StatutoryInstrument or any provision of an Act ofParliament. So, using “enactment” here, I believe,would be more appropriate in thecircumstances.
Well, I amgetting confused. Hon Deputy Attorney-General andDeputy Minister for Justice, I am gettingconfused.
I thought I was supportingthe position of the Hon Minority Leader.[Laughter.] All right. Then it means that Iam deferring from him because I believe using “enactment” is better for us. This isbecause, we have Decrees that wereenacted by the Military Governments andthey still form part of the laws of Ghanaunder article 11.
Mr Speaker,as I was signalling to the Hon Memberwho just spoke, the laws of Ghanacomprise this Constitution. Enactments,the meaning of which he has read, do noteven include the Constitution. The laws of Ghana include thisConstitution, enactments, any other rulesand Regulations made by persons orauthority under the power conferred bythis Constitution, the existing law whichmay include the Decrees that he is talkingabout. So, “law” is much more appropriate.
Yes, HonMinister for Employment and LabourRelations?
Mr Speaker, I amwondering whether the Hon MinorityLeader is not summersaulting now tosupport the earlier amendment proposedby the Hon Chairman of the Committee,having listened to the Hon DeputyAttorney-General and Deputy Ministerfor Justice who himself took off in ajourney to support the Hon MinorityLeader but ended up crashing --[Laughter] -- By providing anexplanation, that law can, in fact, bereferred to as an enactment. Therefore, Mr Speaker, it would be atyour pleasure to choose either law orenactment, because enactment, as hereferred to in the Constitution, is underthe Interpretation where law is explainedas part of enactment. So, it is for us todecide for the purposes of consistencyand elegance what to follow. But I would respect article 11 because that is explicit.It is not under the Interpretation column. Mr Speaker, it guides us on thehierarchy of our laws and in that hierarchy,so long as they use “enactment”, let ussubstitute “law” for “enactment”.
I wouldprefer that the House takes the decision.If it is the consensus that we use the word,“law” instead of “enactment”, so be it. Is that the pleasure of the House?
Very well. If that is the case, then, Chairman ofthe Committee, can you further amendyour proposed amendment?
Mr Speaker, I beg tomove, subclause 2 (b), delete “anagency” and insert “a public institution”and delete “enactment” and insert “thelaw”. It would read: “It contains a general outline of thestructures of a programme adoptedby a public institution to deal with acontravention or possible contra-vention of the law, or…” Question put and amendment agreedto
Yes, HonChairman of the Committee?
Mr Speaker, I seek yourleave to move an amendment in clause 7(3) which was not advertised. Mr Speaker, I beg to move, deletesubclause (3) and add to clause 9.
The reason is that, clause 9 deals withsecurity issues and clause 7(3) is asecurity issue. So, we would want to putit appropriately under clause 9.
Very well. I have no problem with that, exceptthat we should be as cautious as possible.We should take note. Clerks-at-the-Table,please take note so that when we get toclause 9, we do not miss the point. I will put the Question -- Yes?
Mr Speaker,before you put the Question, I would wantthe Chair to take note of this. Clause 3 reads: “Information created by or in thecustody of the Armed Forces or thesecurity and intelligence agenciesestablished under the Security andIntelligence Agencies Act, 1996(Act 526) which relates to thesecurity of the State is an exemptinformation.”
is theArmed Forces part of the security andintelligence agencies? [Interruption.] Are the Armed Forces not part of thesecurity and intelligence agencies.[Pause] -- Mr Speaker, I would want a responsefor this. [Interruption.]
Mr Speaker, Iknow that the security and intelligenceagencies, under the Security andIntelligence Agencies Act, 1996 is just theResearch Department of Ministry ofForeign Affairs and Regional Integration, Bureau of National Investigations (BNI),et cetera. That is what comprises thesecurity and intelligence agencies. It doesnot include the Police, the Armed Forcesor Fire Service.
Mr Speaker, thesubclause I sought to delete indicated“Armed Forces or the security andintelligence agencies”. Therefore, MrSpeaker, if you go to clause 9, it dealswith defence which I believe the ArmedForces fall squarely under and then weadd the other leg which is the security.That was why we proposed that we takeit there.
Well, HonMembers, are we not putting the cartbefore the horse? He is asking that wedelete this from here and then, when weget to clause 9, we reinsert it there. We areyet to deal with it. If we agree with him, then, we shouldjust hold our breath, go through with hisproposed amendment which deletes thatone and when we get to clause 9, we candebate this issue which has been raised. Yes, Hon W. O. Boafo?
Mr Speaker, I believe theissue raised by my Leader has beenanswered by Hon Papa Owusu-Ankomah. Mr Speaker, the Armed Forces iscreated under the Ghana Armed ForcesAct and then the security agencies arecreated under Act 526; they are theNational Security, BNI and the ResearchDepartment of Ministry of Foreign Affairsand Regional Integration. So, they aredifferent. One deals with the soft line of securityand the other which is the Ghana ArmedForces deals with the hard line.
Yes, yourpoint is well made, but my issue is, are wein agreement with the Chairman of theCommittee who seeks orally to amend thatparticular clause such that, it be deletedand subsequently brought into clause 9. If we are in agreement, then I put theQuestion. Then, when we get to clause 9,we can look at these details.
Mr Speaker, the head notehas been amended to take away the issueof National Security under clause 7. Inanticipation, if you go to clause 9, thehead note is being amended by adding“and security” to “defence”. So, it isappropriate that subclause (3) here isdeleted and inserted there.
Since, youagree with us, then let us do that so thatwhen we get to clause 9, these issues canbe dealt with. I will therefore put the Question -- Yes, Hon W. O. Boafo?
Mr Speaker, to make clause7 more understandable, we should prefixit with “despite the provisions insubsection (1)…” This is because clause7 (2) ,seeks to qualify clause 7 (1); it is notclear. It should be standing on its own,but it is a qualification to clause 7 (1).
“Despite what is contained in theimmediately preceding subclause(1) or when the Bill is passed, itbecomes ‘subsection' -- “Despite subsection (1), informationis not exempt from disclosure…”. Mr Speaker, this is so that it becomesmore explicit. As it stands now, it saysthat information is exempt from disclosure. . .” Mr Speaker, immediately, my reactionis that, this should rather be part of clause18 instead of being inserted under clause7. Mr Speaker, if we precede it with,“despite subsection 1…”
HonMember, it looks like you are looking atsubclause (2).
Mr Speaker, I am looking atsubclause (2) and before “information”,we insert --
HonMember, we have already dealt with that,but it does not completely shut the doorto you since there would be a furtherConsideration Stage. Right now, we are dealing withsubclause (3). An oral amendment hasbeen proposed that we delete it fromclause 7 and when we get to clause 9, wereintroduce it. That is where we are.
Mr Speaker, I thought youwere going to put the Question onclause 7. That was why I got up; sorry. Ifyou are not putting the Question onclause 7, but you are doing so on clause 7(3) --
HonMember, I have not yet put the Questionon clause 7 as variously amended. Hon Chairman of the Committee, whatis your reaction to what Hon W. O. Boaforaised? Although we have gone past thatstage, what is your reaction to what hesaid?
Mr Speaker, unfortunately,I did not follow the trend of argument inhis direction.
Hon Boafo,can you go over what you stated for thebenefit of the Hon Chairman?
Mr Speaker, clause 7 (2) isdealing with information which is notexempt. Immediately, my reaction is that ifit is dealing with information which is notexempt, then the proper place for itsappearance should rather be clause 18,which deals with information that is notexempt. Mr Speaker, but here, the true purposeof clause 7 (2) is to rather qualify clause7 (1). So, to make it more explicit, we canprecede clause 7 (2) with an insertionbefore “information”. The insertion I am proposing is:“Despite section 1 …” In the old language,“notwithstanding the provisions insection 1…” Mr Speaker, but I understandthe current expression is: “Despite section 1 information is notexempt from disclosure…” Mr Speaker, this is so that it fullybecomes part of clause 7. That is my view.
HonChairman, do you follow his argument?
Mr Speaker, yes.
What isyour response?
Mr Speaker, we wouldagree to it. Mr Speaker, with your leave, if he maymove a Motion to that effect so that wecan debate it.
You wantan oral application. I am very scepticalwhen it comes to these oral applications;if they are too many, we tend to lose track. We want to do a good job. So, is itpossible to defer the full consideration ofclause 7 to another date, by which time hewould have filed his proposed amendmentfor the consideration of the House?Would that be all right?
Mr Speaker,when I listened to my Hon Colleague, Ithought it was a rather straightforwardamendment that he was proposing. He wasjust indicating that clause 7(1) givesexemptions, and with your permission Ibeg to quote: “Information is exempt fromdisclosure if it contains matterswhich if disclosed can reasonablybe expected…” Mr Speaker, then clause 7 (2) is acounter to those exemptions; which is whyhe is saying that, we should precede it bythe words: “Despite section 1, information isnot exempt from disclosure if it is….” Mr Speaker, that is all that he is saying.
But he alsopropounded that clause 18 is where wehave the provision which deals withmatters which are not exempt, so hethought it could be married to that one.
Mr Speaker, I would gowith your direction that we defer it for amore detailed consideration. Maybe,during a Second Consideration Stage, theHon Member could file an amendment.
Mr Speaker,there are various chapters under the“exempt information” -- Clauses 5 and 6.So, whereas clause 5, for instance, relatesto the Office of the President and the VicePresident, clause 6 is information relatingto the Cabinet. Then clause 7 isinformation relating to law enforcement,public safety and national security. Mr Speaker, they are differentcompartments. So we need not box it intoit. This is because we have personalmatters going further down and thenpublic matters. So, where it situates is allright. Mr Speaker, but I believe we can dealwith the issue that Hon Boafo raised bypreceding it with “despite section 1”. Mr Speaker, what I really wanted to addfor the draftspersons is that, I guess wehave moved away from the use of thephrase, “If…” This is so that it ratherreads: “Despite section 1, information isnot exempt for disclosure where thatinformation consists…” This is instead of saying: “…if itconsists…” I think that is the style wehave adopted: “Information is not exempt fromdisclosure where that informationconsists…” This should be in place of “…if…”That is how it is done. But that is for thedraftpersons. If we agree, they would thendo the clean-up for us.
In that case,can we get the draftspersons to deal withthat aspect of it? I think we are ad idem. Itis a question of the kind of language thatis more appropriate in modern terms. Can I refer it to the drafspersons to dealwith that aspect of it? Very well; I sodirect. Now, Hon W. O. Boafo, are you notpursuing that aspect where you want it tobe linked up with clause 18? You are nolonger pursuing that line?
Mr Speaker, I am notpursuing that angle in view of thecompromised amendment.
Mr Speaker,just so that the Hon Chairman may followwhat I said. So, in subclause 2(a), weshould delete the “if it”and then insert“where that information” into thepreambular; “Information is not exempt fromdisclosure where that informationconsists…” So, we should delete “if it” insubclauses (a), (b) and (c) so, thepremabular then will cover all of them.
So, whatdo we now have? What is the rendition?
Mr Speaker, the renditionfor subclause (2) which you have referredto the draftspersons is; “despite subclause (1); “Informationis not exempt from disclosure wherethat information…” Mr Speaker, there will be consequentialamendments to (a), (b) (c) taking away “ifit”.
Mr Speaker, may I seekyour indulgence to make an oralamendment --[Interruption.]
Can wehave some Order, please?
Subclause (2) of clause7 to read as follows: “Despite subclause (1); Information is not exempt fromdisclosure: a. where that information consistsmerely of a report on the successof a programme adopted by apublic institution to deal with acontravention or possiblecontravention of a law, b. contains general outlines of thestructures of a programmeadopted by a public institutionto deal with a contravention orpossible contravention of a law;or c. consists merely of a report on alaw enforcement investigationthat has already been disclosedto the person who is the subjectof the investigation.”
Thank youvery much. Question put and amendment agreedto.
Now, wecome to subclause (3) of clause 7.
Mr Speaker, I seek yourleave to make an oral amendment to deletesubclause (3) and when we get to sub-clause (9), we insert it as subclause (2).
Can yougive us the rationale behind this --
Mr Speaker, the rationaleis, we had earlier amended the head notefor clause 7 to exclude “security” fromsubclause (7). Mr Speaker, “security” is dealtappropriately with under clause 9,therefore, we think that subclause (3) fitssquarely under clause 9.
Very well. Question put and amendment agreedto.
HonMembers, I will direct that, thedraftspersons deal with the issues raisedearlier on which I referred to. Question put and amendment agreedto. Clause 7 as amended ordered to standpart of the Bill.
HonChairman of the Committee, remember thatwhen we get to clause 9, you would helpus with this movement.
Yes, Mr Speaker.
All right. So, we move on to clause 8. Hon Members, there is no advertisedamendment -- Sorry, Hon MinorityLeader?
Mr Speaker,in clause 8, we have the use of the words “agency” but I want to believe that, forclause 8, the context of use makes itrelevant. So, what we said early on willnot have consequential applications toclause 8. I guess that is the reason the HonChairman is not raising issues, becausein that context, the use of the phrase“Government agency” and “agency” iscorrect.
Mr Speaker, under clause8, we are looking at issues of bilateralrelations between a nation and anotherState and that is why we are not so muchinterested in public institutions. We arelooking at Government agency. This isbecause, the Government agency will dealon behalf of the State with another State,therefore, I believe it falls in line with whatthe Hon Minority Leader has reminded usof, and that is why we are not touching it.
HonMinority Leader, are you satisfied with theexplanation? Otherwise, I will go to HonPelpuo.
Yes, MrSpeaker. I just wanted to draw attention to thefact that, in that context, the use of thewords “agency” or “Government agency”is appropriate so we need not deletethem. It was for emphasis so that, incleaning it up, nobody would be temptedto touch that clause. That is clause 8. So,with the agreement from the HonChairman, I believe we can move on.
MrSpeaker, I am tempted to agree with thesuggestions by the Hon Minority Leader,except to say that, when we are talking about Government agency, what happensin a situation where a communication ofsome kind of information is sent directlyto the Presidency which is not aGovernment agency, but to the heart of“Government itself, would it be allowed”.Can we just say, “Government and any ofits agencies” so that it covers a widerrange of the interpretation? Mr Amoatey -- rose--
Yes. Let ushear from you.
Mr Speaker, I believethat, if we advert our minds to 1(a): (a) “to damage or prejudice therelations between the Govern-ment and the Government of anyother country” I think Hon Pelpuo's interpretationwill also cater for it.
Very well. Question put and amendment agreedto. Clause 8 ordered to stand part of theBill. Clause 9 -- Information that affectsthe defence of the country.
HonChairman of the Committee, you haveindicated by your oral amendments that,you are transferring a certain subclauseto clause 9, so although there is noadvertised amendment to the clause, thereis. So, let us hear from you.
Mr Speaker, I beg tomove, clause 9, delete “defence” andinsert “ security”.
Mr Speaker, Iwould want to seek your leave to indulgethe Hon Chairman so that, clause 9, eventhough he wants defence, if he has noobjection we should say; “informationthat affects the national security of thecountry”, instead of wanting to make adistinction between “defence” and“security”. We should use a more whalisticconcept of national security which isglobal and will cover other issues that mayundermine the intergrity and sovereigntyof the Republic noting the kind of lawsthat we already have in the country. So,not just the head note but wherever hehas “defence”, we should substitute it for“national security”. So, it would read: “information thataffects the national security of thecountry” as an improvement to his earlierproposal for “defence and security”.
Mr Speaker,the amendment that the Hon Chairmanproposed to us was that we should insert“and security” after “defence”. Now, I think it is for the purposes ofclarifying the construction that we haveadopted in clause 3, which is now beinglifted to clause 9. That subclause makes adistinction between “defence” and“national security”. So, we were not goingto delete “defence”, we are rather adding“and national security”, which makes itmuch more appropriate. Mr Speaker, because of how clause 3,which we are lifting from here, makes thatdistinction between “security” and“defence”, I think it is a better way of doingit.
Mr Speaker, I made amistake by advocating for the deletion of“defence”. It is rather add “and security”to “defence”. Mr Speaker, I would like tocorrect that error.
In the lightof what he has said, Hon Minister, do youstill stand by your words?
Mr Speaker, weare improving the Bill. Is he objecting to“national security”? This is because inmany other countries -- If we say“defence and security” --
“Of thecountry”. Do not forget.
I know, MrSpeaker. So, I even sought guidance fromthe Table. I was looking at the Securityand Intelligence Agencies Act, 1996.Looking at other provisions of theConstitution, where even the enjoymentof fundamental human rights are limitedto the extent that, it affects nationalsecurity, public peace, public morality andrelated issues, I would think that if weimported “national security” for thispurpose, part of this is right to information. In article 162, we are looking at the rightsand independence of the Media. What are its limitations? Thelimitations by the Constitution and evenby court judgment have always limited itto matters of maybe public interest, publicmorality and national security. Mr Speaker, if it would not help the Bill,I would associate myself with the HonChairman's amendment. But I know that for limitation to freedom of information,national security would be a better word.
HonMember, since you are seeking to furtheramend the Hon Chairman's proposedamendment and he is sticking to what hehas proposed, I believe we would go byhis rather than yours. I believe that theexpression there, “of the country” makesit national. In effect, that is what it means. Question put and amendment agreedto.
Mr Speaker, I beg tomove, clause 9, add the following newsubclauses: “(2) Information created by or in thecustody of the Armed Forces orthe security and intelligenceagencies established under theSecurity and IntelligenceAgencies Act, 1996 (Act 526)which is likely to threaten thesecurity of the State is an exemptinformation. (3) For the purposes of this section,“security of state” means anyaction that causes a disturbanceof the peace or upsets thestability of the nation.” Mr Speaker, to remind the House, thiswas the subclause we deleted underclause 7 and we are inserting it assubclause (2) under clause 9.
Mr Speaker, Iwould still persuade the Hon Chairman.With your indulgence, may I refer you toarticle 83 of the 1992 Constitution, whichestablishes the National Security Council. Mr Speaker, he has just made myargument better by his referral to theSecurity and Intelligence Agencies Act.We are talking of internal and externalsecurity and “security services” itself inthe Act means the services connectedwith national security, as determined bythe Council. Mr Speaker, we have National Securityeven as a creation of the Constitution andthey meet. In that meeting, I do not knowif the Chairman still objects to qualifyinghis word “security” with “national”.
Maybe, heis being sceptical about the way peoplehave been interpreting all sorts of thingsto amount to National Security, therefore,making that very ambiguous.
Mr Speaker, in theenultimate line, we have “security of theState”, which I think is irresistibly referableto national security. Mr Speaker, my observation is that, wedo not have Armed Forces. We haveGhana Armed Forces. So, I am seeking anamendment to insert “Ghana” before“Armed Forces”. Line 2 of the proposedamendment, before “Armed Forces” insert“Ghana”.
Mr Speaker, we wouldyield to that.
Mr Speaker, theoriginal clause 7 (3) which was deletedhas a slightly different rendition from theamendment which is being proposed bythe Hon Chairman here. It reads in thethird line: “which relates to the security of theState”. In the proposed amendment here:“which is likely to threaten thesecurity of the State”.
“Information created by or in thecustody of the Armed Forces or thesecurity and intelligence agenciesestablished under the Security andIntelligence Agencies Act, 1996(Act 526) which relates to thesecurity of the State is an exemptinformation.”
“which is likely to threaten thesecurity of the State is an exemptinformation”. Mr Speaker, I believe that the originalrendition is a better one than the currentamendment proposed by the HonChairman. So I am proposing a furtheramendment for it to read: “Information created by or in thecustody of the Ghana Armed Forces,if accepted or the security andintelligence agencies establishedunder the Security and IntelligenceAgencies Act, which relates to thesecurity of the state is an exempt toinformation.”
HonMember, can you give me further andbetter particulars? Why is it your viewthat this rendition is better than what theHon Chairman is introducing?
Mr Speaker, the matterswhich would relate to the security of theState, in my opinion, are much broader andwould encompass situations, which maynot even threaten the security of the Statebut may need to be protected from thedisclosure because it has some relation to national security and other issues. Thatrendition encompasses a wider situationof foreseeable and unforeseeablesituations than those which directlythreaten the security of the state. Unless our intention is to limit thedisclosure or exemption of information toonly those situations, which directlythreaten the security of the State but whichare not the wider situation where they mayrelate to the security of the State. That is what I would want us to look atand decide which would be the betterrendition that we want to include in theBill.
Very well. Chairman of the Committee, how wouldyou react? Before then, let us hear fromthe Hon Member for Wa West.
Mr Speaker, I support herargument for us to make it broader, ratherthan indicate the likelihood to threaten thesecurity. How are we even to determinethat? I believe that her rendition, if it isaccepted, relates to the security anddefence of the nation. With that one, wewould know. But if we say that information is likelyto threaten the security of the State, theingredient to prove the likelihood of thethreat becomes a problem.
Chairmanof the Committee, do you agree with them?
Yes, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, the newrendition, in the light of the furtheramendment would read: “Information created by or in thecustody of the Ghana Armed Forcesor the security and intelligenceagencies established under theSecurity and Intelligence AgencyAct, 1996 (Act 526) which relates tothe security of the State is an exemptinformation”.
Very well. Mr Atta Akyea -- rose --
Mr Speaker, I knowthat this might be funny, but I am of thehumble view that no matter how weclassify information which relates tonational security, the divulgence of thatinformation can be at the behest of thecourt. So, I have a small proposedamendment, that we should tag on, at theend of information: “unless its divulgenceis by the order of the court.” This is because there are circumstanceswhere issues of national security, if it ispried into by the court, will force itsdivulgence. So, we should not have a situation asif it is cast in stone, but it should bepossible for a court to move that --
HonMember, are you aware of the fact thatsometimes, issues of national security, assoon as they go to the court becomespublic? This is because, as far as thecourt's issues are concerned, they arepublic. So, we would lose the essence ofthe tightness of the security we aretalking about. I do not know; I might be wrong, butas soon as it goes to the court, it gets intothe public domain.
Mr Speaker, I agreewith you to the extent that we should notcreate an impression that matters of national security can never be divulged.A court of competent jurisdiction, lookingat the circumstances, sitting in camera cansay that matters of national security inthis particular set of facts should bedivulged. So, I was of the view that if itreads: “Information created by or in thecustody of the Ghana Armed Forcesor the security and intelligenceagencies established under theSecurity and Intelligence AgencyAct, 1996 (Act 526) which relates tothe security of the State is an exemptinformation unless its divulgence isby the order of the court”. It would capture all the scenarios.
Let us hearfrom the Hon Deputy Attorney-Generaland Deputy Minister for Justice.
Mr Speaker, I think that HonAtta Akyea's concern is taken care of, byarticle 135 of the Constitution, whichprovides in clause 1, that: “The Supreme Court shall haveexclusive jurisdiction to determinewhether an official document shallnot be produced in court becauseits production or the disclosure ofits contents will be prejudicial to thesecurity of the State, or will beinjurious to the public interest.” So, any dispute relating to theproduction of a document, or thedisclosure of the content of a document,if it raises national security concerns, theSupreme Court has original jurisdiction inthat matter. The jurisdiction is exclusive. So, if weamend the clause in the manner that theHon Atta Akyea has proposed, then itmeans that any court of competentjurisdiction would be able to determine the
Hon AttaAkyea, how do you respond to that?
Mr Speaker, I believehe supports my position. So, the onlything that we can do, is to add: “unless itis by the order of the Supreme Court.” Sothat we do not have any situation in whichmatters of national security are sacrosanctand we can never pry into it. It is very necessary, so that if there is aconstitutional provision which says that,these matters can be looked into by theSupreme Court, then we better make alegislation to be very consistent with whatthe Constitution has provided. Mr Chireh-- rose --
HonMember for Wa West?
Mr Speaker, the argumenthe is putting up by asking us to tellsomebody to go to court is, in my view,not necessary. All those who seekinformation, if it is denied them, wouldknow what to do. As the Hon DeputyAttorney-General and Deputy Ministerfor Justice said, we cannot, in every clause,invite people to go to court if they are nothappy with or certain conditions are notmet. I think it is adequate where it is now.Everybody is aware of what somebodywith grievances would do, but we aretalking about national security anddefence. Unlike any other ordinary thing,to invite people to go to the court is notthe best in terms of legislation, when thereis a general situation in the law that, ifone is dissatisfied with any part of thelaw they should go to court.
HonMinority Leader. I would then come backto you, Hon Atta Akyea.
Mr Speaker,much as I am inclined to support theposition of the Hon Member for AbuakwaSouth, I believe that some remedies areoffered by the Constitution, as quoted bythe Deputy Attorney-General and DeputyMinister for Justice. Mr Speaker, my worry is theamendment that is being sought for theproposal from the Committee's Chairman.I believe that what we have from theCommittee's Chairman is better. Mr Speaker, the amendment proposedby the Committee's Chairman, is to theeffect that: “Information created by or in thecustody of the Ghana Armed Forcesor the security and intelligenceagencies established under theSecurity and Intelligence AgencyAct, 1996 (Act 526) which is likelyto threaten the security of the Stateis an exempt information.” Mr Speaker, the original renditionprovides that the information whichrelates to the security of the State is anexempt information. That is more omnibus,and I think, that, it should be frighteningto us in this House. This is because, itwould then seek to oust the oversight ofthis House over the Ghana Armed Forcesand the Security Intelligence Agencies.That is what it means in the originalconstruction. It means that, Parliament cannot evenlook into the operation of -- This isbecause once we raise it, they would tellus that it relates to that. Which is why Ibelieve that the better construction iswhat has been offered by the Chairman ofthe Committee. It should really relate to athreat to the security of the State. We should not leave it open ended asanything that relates to the security of theState is exempt from information.Otherwise, Parliament would oust theirown discharge -- Our own oversightresponsibility over the IntelligenceAgencies, which should not happen.
Very well. Your stance now creates a bit of adistance from what the Hon Atta Akyeawas proposing early on. So, I would liketo hear from him and then hear from theHon Member for Wa West.
Mr Speaker, with duerespect, my view is premised on the factthat we should not write the laws of thiscountry as if there are no go areas insofaras national security is concerned. Mr Speaker, there are severalauthorities. In the Spycather case thatwhere it is very necessary, matters wouldbe referred to the court, I have beeneducated by the Hon Deputy Attorney-General and Minister for Justice - For thecourt to say that this is a matter of nationalsecurity but nevertheless, there is theneed to divulge those things and it is donein camera. I am of the humble view that, weshould not write the laws as if it is exempttotally, but unless the divulgence of thenational security material is by the orderof the Supreme Court. If we tag it on, thenwe are writing the laws to be consistentwith the Constitution. This is anamendment that is worth considering. On the issue that the learned Leadersaid, Mr Speaker, that throws my mind to our powers also. In trying to talk aboutinstitutions that can look into matters ofnational security, should we say that theParliament of this country is not qualifiedenough to look into matters maybe incamera if it is necessary and it affectsnational security? That is another consideration weshould look at. That is a very interestingdimension. Are we prevented frominterrogating matters of national security,and even if it would be done in camera oris it only the Supreme Court that shouldhave the sole right? It throws some issuesfor consideration as well.
Hon DeputyAttorney-General and Deputy Ministerfor Justice then the Hon Member for WaWest.
Hon Atta Akyea describedour Hon Minority Leader as “learned”.The term “learned” is a term of art. TheHon Minority Leader cannot be describedas a “learned man”.
All right,point well made.
Mr Speaker, I know thathe has been very diligent in lawmaking.Maybe, it is about time to confer on himthe “learnedness” -- [Laughter.] Mr Speaker, my issue is still about“likely to threaten”. The point I was makingand agreeing with Hon Friend UrsulaEkuful is that, if we say the thing “relatesto” and if they say “it is likely to threaten”,which one --
HonMember, she is not just Mrs Ursula; youhave left something out. You referred toher as Mrs Ursula.
No! I did not say so. I saidmy Friend.
Your Friend,Mrs Ursula.
I know her full name thatis why I said my Friend.
Once youknow who you are referring to, you cancontinue.
I would have said MrsEkuful. The point I am making is that “it relatesto and is likely to threaten the security” --The element I would want us to remove isthat, there is no way we can determine “itis likely to” or not. Who is going todetermine that? Once it relates to nationalsecurity and defence -- The law wants information to be givenout but certain information when it relatesto these, needs to be broadly protectedrather than give conditions. If the personhas refused the information, he now saysI would want you to tell me how thisinformation is likely to threaten thesecurity of the nation, how are you goingto measure that?
You go tocourt under the Constitution. You go tothe Supreme Court, not just any court.
Mr Speaker, on hindsight,I am tending to withdraw my amendmentin terms of the fact that we used the spectreof national security to cover any andevery imaginable situation and put itbeyond scrutiny from anybody. Mr Speaker, that is dangerous. So, Ihave been persuaded by the Hon MinorityLeader's argument that we need to look atthat clause again and see if we retain theamendment proposed by the HonChairman, we would not be achieving theobjective that we seek to achieve,while enabling the oversight responsibility ofthe House. This is also to be enhanced orpursued to disable people from hidingunder the spectre of national security toremove all possibility of scrutinisingactions of people, which may be inimicalto the best interest of the people of thiscountry. I also tend to support the amendmentproposed by Hon Atta Akyea that weshould be consistent with the languagein the Constitution and make it clear thatthe Supreme Court, in the exercise of itsexclusive jurisdiction, can mandate thedisclosure of information which wouldotherwise, have been exempt under thebanner of national security. I would support the proposedamendments that the Hon Chairman of theCommittee has set out, and the amendmentproposed by Hon Atta Akyea, that weshould include the rendition “subject todecision by the Supreme Court” as towhether the information, even though itmay have national security implications,ought to be disclosed.
MrSpeaker, I followed the argument by theHon Minority Leader who was describedas a “learned man”.Mr Speaker, I wouldwant to allay his fears. Our mandate tooversight is derived from the Constitutionand any law which may in anyway attemptto oust our jurisdiction may not find favourwith the Constitution. Therefore, I still believe that no matterhow the amendment is couched, there isno way the Ghana Armed Forces can hidebehind that provision in the law to denythis House the right of access to anyinformation or to deny this House thepower to oversight in anyway. That wouldhave meant that they would be hidingunder an Act to oust an express provisionof the Constitution. We all know that, thatis not possible at all.
HonChairman of the Committee, you have thelast word.
Mr Speaker, I believe thathaving gone back and forth, I would urgethe House to stand by the originalrendition of the amendment that wesought to make so that --
What aboutthe inclusion of “the Supreme Court”?
Mr Speaker, I would wantto agree with the Hon Deputy Attorney-General and Deputy Minister for Justice,that article 135 of the Constitution makesprovision for that sentiment raised by theHon Member for Abuakwa South.Therefore, we leave the amendment tostand as we proposed.
Mr Speaker,they do not cause any havoc if we beganthat provision by saying: “subject to article 135, informationcreated by or in the custody of theArmed Forces or the SecurityIntelligence Agencies establishedunder the Security and IntelligenceAgencies Act, 1996, which is likelyto threaten the security of the stateis an exempt information”.
HonChairman, if you put it the way the HonMinority Leader is suggesting, you wouldhave related it to the Constitutiontherefore you would not have taken awaythe right of anybody who feels aggrievedby the refusal to release the information.
Mr Speaker, we yield tothat rendition. 12. 55 p.m.
In additionto the use of the word, Ghana to qualifythe Armed Forces -
Mr Speaker, if I may readthe full rendition. Mr Speaker, I beg to move, sub clause(2) of clause (9) be further amended to readas follows: “Subject to article 135 of the 1992Constitution, information createdby or in the custody of the GhanaArmed Forces or the Security andIntelligence Agencies establishedunder the Intelligence and SecurityAgencies Act, 1996, (Act 526), whichis likely to threaten the security ofthe State is an exempt information”. Question put and amendment agreedto.
HonMembers, I will put the Question withregard to clause 9 as variously amendedstanding part of the Bill. -- [Pause.] Hon Members, my attention is beingdrawn to the proposed amendment toclause 9 by the following additions andwe have only dealt with two and we areyet to deal with three, which states: “For the purposes of this section,‘security of State' means any actionthat causes a disturbance of thepeace or upsets the stability of thenation.” We have not dealt with that bit of it.Hon Chairman, are we on all fours withyou?
That is so, Mr Speaker.We are yet to move that Motion.
Very well. Then I will not put the Question withon clause 9 as variously amended. Canyou move that Motion and if the HonMember has some contributions to make,we take it?
Mr Speaker, I beg tomove, a new subclause (3) be insertedunder clause 9 and the new subclause (3)should read: “For the purposes of this section,‘security of State' means any actionthat causes a disturbance to thepeace or upsets the stability of thenation”. Mr Speaker, it is to put in perspectivethe matters of security as it is beingconsidered under this clause so that weleave no person in doubt. Mrs Ekuful --rose --
Mr Speaker, I believethat the amendment and the definition ofthe ‘security of State' is way too broad.The matters which can cause adisturbance of the peace are many andvaried, including a quarrel between co-tenants in a house or rivals for theattentions of a man or woman or anythingwhich would cause a disturbance of thepeace. What do we mean by stability of thenation? If we leave it like that, anythingwhich anybody sitting somewheredecides is a disturbance of the peace, canfall under the ambit of this proposed subclause. So, I think the Hon Chairman and theCommittee need to look at the definitionagain. As it stands now, it is too broad,encompasses too many possiblescenarios and would leave almostanything which threatens to breach thepeace outside scrutiny of anybody. So, I would oppose the proposedamendment and ask the Committee to lookat the efinition of “security of the State”properly again.
Yes, HonChairman, how do you respond to that?
Mr Speaker, much as HonUrsula Ekuful wants to persuade theHouse, this is an issue of which theCommittee spent long hours consultingwith the necessary agencies to come witha definition that would not, as much aspossible, disturb their operations. Andafter several consultations, we arrived atthis subclause.
Well,thinking aloud, from what she said, I couldwell imagine a situation where the actionof a particular person amounts to thebreach of the peace by doing somethingin the public which amounts to the breachof the peace. But looking at the qualification youhave given at the tail end; “upsets thestability of the nation” So, it should be“and”.
But if it is “or”, then it isexclusive. It is, “causes a disturbance ofthe peace or upsets the stability of theState”. Who determines that? How is thatdefined? It is too broad, too nebulous.
Yes, HonDeputy Attorney-General and DeputyMinister for Justice, do you have aresponse? Or, you hold your peace, letme hear from the other Hon Members andthen I will come to you. Yes, Hon Minister for Environment,Science and Technology and Innovation?
Mr Speaker, Ibelieve we need to be very careful in ourattempt to define security of the State. Perhaps, this is a matter of semantics, butin defining the security of the State, wetalk about the stability of the nation,whether both are interchangeable; theState and the nation. I also think that, we need to be carefulnot to be overly broad in such a way that,the court in future, is compelled to, as theHon Member rightly pointed out, defineevery petty conflict to include or toamount to a threat or a disturbance of thepeace. So, I do think that, we need to reallyreview this definition. If it will not disturb the Committee tosend this to the Interpretation section sothat we spend some more time deliberatingon it, I am sure that by the time we get toclause (65), we probably, would have donea lot more research and couchedsomething that we can all live with andknow that tomorrow, we would not haveintelligence officers hiding under aninterpretation like this to deny us of anyinformation that they do not want us tohave access to.
Yes, HonMinority Leader and then the HonMember for Wa West.
Mr Speaker,two things; first, the subclause (3) that isbeing introduced derives from subclause(2) above. And subclause (3) seeks todefine security of State. Mr Speaker, in subclause (2) above, wehave not stated anywhere thisconstruction, “security of State” rather,we have stated “security of the State”. Ifthat is what we want to define, we shouldcome properly.In any event, ‘the State'there begins with a capital “s”. Is it thesame thing that we want to define? If it isso, let us do the proper thing. But having said so, Mr Speaker, Ibelieve it is important to remind ourselvesof an event in the early 1980s. Mr Speaker, I believe you were aliveand kicking at the time when a rider on amotorbike was arrested and hauled beforea tribunal. It was said of him that, on hismotorbike while speeding about, he wasfiring some guns. Now, it turned out that he had not firedany gun but rather, it was the noise thatwas being ejected from the exhaust pipe.However, he was cautioned and it wassuggested to him that he was disturbingthe peace of the country. Mr Speaker, such a nebulousconstruction could land any of us there,if on a given day, our exhaust pipesdevelops any problem. Let us not revisitthose unhallowed and unholy days. Letus be very definitive about what we meanbecause this construction is not good atall.
Mr Speaker, if you look atthe clause and the amendment beingproposed, we are referring to the Securityand Intelligence Act. That Act wouldindicate to us what national securityconsists of. Otherwise, we go to theConstitution and look at how the securityof the State is defined. I agree that thisone appears to be too broad. Again, no matter what we try to do, letus be consistent. I agree with the HonMinister for Environment, Science,Technology and Innovation that weshould not consider it here. You wouldrather put the Question and then we put itwhere it should be defined at the end,under the appropriate clause, by whichtime, all these things that we areconsidering would have been properly
So, if Iunderstand you, you want us to considerclause 9 with its various amendmentsexcept this last one which would thenmove to the Interpretation clause?
Mr Speaker, while the HonMember who last spoke was on the floor,I looked at the Security and Intelligence Agencies Act, and unless it has beenrecently amended, the one that I have doesnot make provision for the definition ofthe ‘security of the State.' It only defines‘threat to security, and it is careful aboutthe use of the expression “security of theState”. What I see there is security of theRepublic. It makes copious references tosecurity of the Republic and in theinterpretation column, they only refer tothreat to security and defined that. That is why we probably need to taketime and look at this, understand thedynamics and consult the experts somemore before we make an attempt to definethe expression.
I tend toagree with you and I would like to hearfrom the Deputy Attorney-General andDeputy Minister for Justice so that if weshould go that way, on what you haveproposed, then we would be on safeground and at the same time, it would giveus the opportunity to delve further intothis definition so that we are on safegrounds.
Mr Speaker, I agree with thegeneral proposition that, we take it to theinterpretation section and then scrutiniseit. I get what you are saying about it beingcontext-specific. The general point is that,we need to consider carefully thedefinition of security of the State. This is because the sentiment that hasbeen expressed by Hon Ursula Ekuful, theHon Member for Ablekuma West, is alegitimate one. You do not want adefinition of ‘national security' or ‘Statesecurity' that is so overbroad that even aquarrel between husband and wife couldfall within its ambit. You do not also want a situation whereit is so narrowly defined that, theconfidentiality of national security deliberations and national securitydocuments would be jeopardised. So, weneed to strike a delicate balance and thatcould be done if we carefully definenational security in a way that does notmake it possible, as the Hon Minister forEnvironment, Science, Technology andInnovation said, for State agencies to hideunder its umbrella in order to abusefundamental human rights. At the same time, you also do not wanta situation where everything is fair gamefor those who want to imperil the securityof the State. So, I would propose that we take it backto consideration and make sure that wehave a definition that can strike thatdelicate balance. Normally, in theinterpretation of such matters in thecontext of fundamental human rightsenforcement, the principle is that, youshould not interpret it in a way thatempties the right of its substantivecontent. But you never know which judge isgoing to sit on it and the predilections ofthe judge could also be important incoming to a conclusion on whether thedefinition is broad or narrow. So, Mr Speaker, let us take it back tothe consideration and then strike a carefulbalance between the rights of the citizensto know, and the right of the State toprotect its security. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, on the basisof the sponsor of the Bill, the DeputyAttorney-General and Deputy Ministerfor Justice making this powerfulsubmission, I want to withdraw theproposed amendment and rather considerit under the Interpretations clause of theBill.
You haveto be specific, it is not the whole of theamendment that you are withdrawing.
Mr Speaker, subclause(3) as proposed. I seek your leave towithdraw it and reconsider it under the‘Interpretation', after we have donecareful consideration and consultation. [Amendment withdrawn by leave ofthe House.]
Mr Speaker, the Attorney-General and his team in reviewing theinterpretation, should not think that it isnot possible for a fight between a manand his wife to implicate national securityinterest. This is especially so, when theman is a king and his wife is a queen orthe man is a President and his wife is theFirst Lady. You cannot escape entirelythat the quarrel between a man and hiswife can have security implications.[Laughter.]
Mr Speaker,this country has ever had a quarrel overguinea fowl escalate into a nationalsecurity matter. But at the outset, the Chairmoved an amendment on the headnote ofclause 9, “Information that affects thedefence and security of the country”. Inthe body of that clause, you have notmentioned defence anywhere. You aretalking about security and if that is thecase, why did you have to amend toinclude defence. In that case, you shouldhave rather omitted it so we have onlysecurity. I thought by what you did, in removingsubclause (3) which deals with the GhanaArmed Forces, we are talking aboutdefence of the Republic. If that is the case, then it shouldfind expression in the amendment that hemade which has been carried in clause 9,subclause (2). Perhaps, we should haveexpanded it to include the word “defence”.“Information created by or in the custodyof the Ghana Armed Forces….”
But: “Subject to article 135 informationcreated by or in the custody of theGhana Armed Forces or the securityand intelligence agencies esta-blished under which is likely tothreaten the defence and security.” This is because, that is where I guesshe had to effect that amendment. Mr Speaker, you have already put thatQuestion but I just want to agitate the mindof the Chair, if it is not wise to do that.
HonMinority Leader, I have seen the pointyou are making. It is true I have put theQuestion but we are the authors of ourown rules. Can we take a look at it so thatI would not put the Question with regardto the whole of clause 9 as variouslyamended? But the defence issue I think isvery key. Hon Deputy Attorney-General andDeputy Minister for Justice, how do yousee it?
Mr Speaker, for consistency,I agree with the Hon Minority Leader thatwe should have inserted “defence andsecurity of the State”. This is because theassumption in the headnote is that itcovers “defence and security of thecountry”. So, for consistency, I believe he is rightand we should agree to the amendment.
Very well. Can we go back to it? I believe it shouldnot take us too long. Yes, Hon Chairman of the Committee?
Mr Speaker, once again,I seek your leave to orally seek a furtheramendment to subclause (2) of clause 9,to reflect the headnote of that clause. Mr Speaker, with subclause (2), thefurther amendment proposed would makethe rendition as follows: “Subject to article 135 of the 1992Constitution information created byor in the custody of the GhanaArmed Forces of the security andthe intelligence agencies esta-blished under the Security andIntelligence Agencies Act, 1996(Act 526) which is likely to threatenthe defence and security of the Stateis and exempt information”. Question put and amendment agreedto. Clause 9 as amended ordered to standpart of the Bill.
HonMembers, this brings us to the end ofConsideration Stage of the Right toInformation Bill, 2013 for now. Yes, Hon Deputy Majority Whip?
Mr Speaker, todayis Friday and some Committees have beenprogramed to meet. Mr Speaker, on this note, I beg to move,that this House do adjourn till Tuesday,at 10.00 o'clock in the forenoon.
Anyseconder? Mr Joe Baidoe-Ansah -- bowed --
HonMember, I hope I understand your bowingto mean you second the Motion --[Laughter.] Very well. Question put and Motion agreed to.