Hon Members,Communication fromthe Office of the President.
At this stage, I would invite the Hon First Deputy Speaker to take the Chair while we move on to the Correction of Votes and Proceedings.
MR FIRST DEPUTY SPEAKER
Hon Members, Correction of Votes and Proceedings and the Official Report.
Mr Speaker, congratulations on your constitutional elevation to the position of Rt Hon Speaker -- [Interruption.] I am saying it. You heard it from me and you are saying that who said that. Mr Speaker, I propose we take item number 4 -- Presentation of Papers. We have a number of Papers to present to the House. Hon Ministers and my goodself are available to lay them before the House.
My understanding is that all of them are ready to be laid. At the Commencement of Public Business -- Presentation of Papers.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Majority Leader, in rising to draw attention to the order of Business, said he was congratulating you on your elevation to the position of Rt Hon Speaker. attempt. 10. 50 a. m.
Very well, thank you very much. Hon Members, the item numbered 4 (a) on the Order Paper by the Hon Majority Leader and Leader of the House.
Itemnumber 4 (b) (i)? By the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources-- (i) Development Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Ghana and Gold Fields Ghana Limited, Tarkwa. (ii) Development Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Ghana and Abosso Goldfields Limited, Damang. Referred to the Committee on Mines and Energy.
Item numbered 4 (c). By the Minister for Petroleum -- The 2016 Programme of Activities of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC). Referred to the Committee on Mines and Energy.
Hon Members, the item numbered 4 (d) by the Chairman of the Committee of the Whole?
Mr Speaker, though the Report is ready, the Second Deputy Speaker is the Chairman of the Committee of the Whole, unless you want to grant that permission.
Yes, Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I believe the Hon Deputy Majority Leader, if he were in the Chamber, would be in a position to lay the document on behalf of the Committee.
I believe so, too. Hon Deputy Majority Leader, were you present at the Sitting?
Yes, Mr Speaker.
Can you please lay it on behalf of the Second Deputy Speaker?
Exactly so. By Mr Alfred Kwame Agbesi (on behalf of the Chairman of the Committee) -- Report of the Committee of the Whole on the Proposed Formula for Distributing the District Assemblies' Common Fund (DACF) for the year 2016.
Hon Members, item number 4 (e). Yes, Hon Chairman of the Committee on Health?
Mr Speaker, it was a joint referral; the Hon Chairman of the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs is not here but I am available. I am the Chairman of the Health Committee.
Very well. So, you can lay it on behalf of the joint Committee. By Mr Joseph Yieleh Chireh (on behalf of the Chairman of the joint Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and Health) -- Report of the joint Committee on Constitutional, Legaland Parliamentary Affairs and Health on the Ghana AIDSCommissionBill, 2015.
Itemnumber 4 (f)? Do we have a member of the Committee present to do it for us?[Pause.] If we are not ready to take it, then we will defer it. It is supposed to be laid by the Hon Chairman of the Privileges Committee. Is Hon Appiah-Pinkrah available in the Chamber?
Mr Speaker, thank you for inviting me. I have always wanted to make a strong position on that. For some time now -- [Interruptions.] Let me speak, please; allow me. The Committee Clerk has refused to give documents that are supposed to come to us. A document that we should have in our possession to enable us speak on it is still with the Committee Clerk, I do not have it.
Very well. Hon Members, on that note, we will defer the laying of this particular Report.
Mr Speaker, while we wait for what we all expect, if we could just take item number 14. It is a matter that has been debated and concluded and it is left with just the Question being put. So, if we could take that while we wait for the arrival of the Chief Justice.
Very well. Hon Members, item numbered 14 on the Order Paper. From what we have on the Order Paper, the Motion has been moved, seconded and debated on. We are left with the putting of the Question. So, item numbered 14.
Mr Speaker, I am told that debate on the matter in respect of the Question which has just been put was not concluded. Leadership was supposed to engage in some consultations and inform the House; that is my understanding. Probably, the Hon Leader may clarify it because it is the 2015 programme of work for Ghana National Petroleum Commission (GNPC). They have concluded already, so, we are supposed to approve it ex post facto. We were supposed to try and see how best we could do it in a way that would not put the credibility of this august House in question. How can one approve a work plan that has already been done ex post facto? So, they were supposed to give some explanations.
Hon Member, unfortunately, I have already put the Question and I find it very difficult to go back to it.
Mr Speaker, this issue was debated and concluded. The issue that my Hon Colleague, Papa Owusu- Ankomah raised was raised another day. If they crosscheck from the Hansard, the debate was concluded. It was only left with the Question to be put and that is what has happened; it has been put. As for approving plans, the work plan must be drawn before it is approved. So, it is always ex post facto -- [Interruption] -- it must be drawn. If he is talking about execution or implementation, that is different. But for drawing a work plan, we have to draw a work plan and submit it for approval before it becomes a work plan to be implemented. So, if he is talking about the implementation, I agree with him. But if you are talking about the work plan, however, it has to be drawn first and then approved before implementation.
Mr Speaker, I do not know if what the Hon Majority Leader intends to say is that the work plan of Ghana National Petroleum Company(GNPC) for 2015, was drawn and laid before this House in 2016 for us to approve. The law says --
No! It was laid in 2015.
Mr Speaker, I just crosschecked from my Hon Colleague, the Member of Parliament for Old Tafo. I remember that when that matter came up, I raised the issue. You were in the Chair and gave the direction for Leadership to go and meet. So, I crosschecked from him whether that matter was brought back to the floor for debate. Mr Speaker, when the debate started, I asked for your guidance and you thought issues that were brought up were germane, so, you stopped the debate. In fact, they tried introducing the matter again. Luckily for me, you were there and I informed you that Leadership and the Committee had never met with GNPC, as you directed, for us to fashion it. You directed and that direction has not been taken. This is because the Leadership, with the Committee Chairmen and Hon Ranking Members were to meet to resolve the matters that were raised. One was that we approved a 2015 work plan in December 2015, when the execution had taken place. That was the first point we raised. This matter was in Parliament in July, 2015. So, I wanted to find out from him whether the matter was brought back for debate again, and whether Leadership had met with the Chairman and Ranking Member together with GNPC officials because that was your direction.
Hon Deputy Minority Leader, I agree with all the points that you have raised, but when I assumed the Chair this morning and made reference to that particular Motion, if there were points like this that you wanted to raise, you could have raised them when I said that it had been debated on and I was only to put the Question. I said all of this, put the Question and got all the responses. After that, I do not see how I could go back to it. Equity aids the vigilant, not the indolent.
Mr Speaker, you were too fast. It took less than 30 seconds for the Question to be put. Secondly, I saw that my Hon Colleague was on his feet to draw your attention to it and that is why after the Question was put, he still tried to draw your attention to it. It is difficult to reverse what you have already said; it is unhealthy for Parliament. If somebody has found a way of letting Parliament know, by putting it in the Order Paper that there would be a Question to be put when actually your direction was not followed, then it is wrong. This is because you have given a direction, it has not been followed through and somebody has actually put, it there that the Question should be put. How did it get into the Order Paper?
Can we hear from the Hon Chairman of the Committee and then Hon Quashigah? The Hon Minister would be the last person to speak.
Mr Speaker, the day we debated, the Hon Deputy Minority Leader was not in the Chamber. Let us be very frank with ourselves; he was not here --
Yes, Hon Member?
Mr Speaker, I think this is a matter that has been put to rest. A decision has already been taken and I do not see the point in us trying to undo what has already been done. We should not belabour the point and unnecessarily delay Business of the House. Mr Speaker, this matter has been put to rest and we must move forward.
Yes, Hon Member for Old Tafo?
Mr Speaker, I would want to correct an impression given by the Hon Chairman of the Committee on Mines and Energy. This House has never approved a budget for GNPC. We approved a transfer of certain amounts -- it is not a budget. It is not the same; we have to be very careful. The law requires us to approve the work programme and that is what we tried to avoid. The difficulty was that, it was coming late, so, we thought the House should find a way to regularise it. That was our thought. That was not done. It is a reflection of the way we do things and if that is how we would want to take it, it is fine.
Yes, Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, you did rightly put the Question and the House has clearly taken a decision. Per our Standing Orders we know what to do, if we want to reverse the decision taken by the House. Mr Speaker, I do not want to say that the memory of my Hon Colleague is playing tricks with them. This is because that work plan was laid around June - July, 2015. It was not laid around December, it was laid on 12th July, 2015. It was in the possession of the House. If the House took time to deliberate upon it and we have now taken the decision in the year 2016, how can anybody else be blamed? We cannot be blamed. Mr Speaker, this one should be laid to rest.
Very well. Hon Members, I have gone through the process of getting the House to take a decision. Let the matter rest there. Anybody who is interested in reviving it knows the procedure to adopt. Hon Members would recall that this morning some communication was received by Mr Speaker and it has been read to this House. In that regard, the Chief Justice of the Republic of Ghana is attending upon this House to perform a function related to article 60 (11) and (12) as the Constitution of the Republic of Ghana. Hon Members, on that note, I shall at this stage invite Mr Speaker for the administration of the Oath by Her Ladyship the Chief Justice. Would the Clerks-at-the-Table please usher in the Chief Justice and Mr Speaker?
Your Ladyship the Chief Justice, you may now administer the Oath.
Hon Members, can we have some order in the House? [Pause.]
Order! Order! Hon Members, we shall now move on to other Businesses of the House.
Mr Speaker, we may now move to item number 25, the Motion for the Second Reading of the Electronic Communications (Amendment) Bill, 2016.
Hon Members, item number 25 on the Order Paper — Motion by the Hon Minister for Communications.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that notwithstanding the provisions of Standing Order 80 (1) which require that no Motion shall be debated until at least forty-eight hours have elapsed between the date on which notice of the Motion is given and the date on which the Motion is moved, the Motion for the Second Reading of the Electronic Communications (Amendment) Bill, 2016, may be moved today.
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion.
Hon Members, this is a straightforward Motion. Question put and Motion agreed to. Resolved accordingly.
Mr Speaker, item number 26.
Itemnumber 26 — Motion, by the Hon Minister for Communications. BILLS— SECONDREADING Electronic Communications (Amendment) Bill, 2016
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that the Electronic Communications (Amendment) Bill, 2016, be now read a Second time. Mr Speaker,theElectronicCommunications Act, as we have it presently, does not provide explicitly for the use of an Interconnect Clearing House (ICH) to be implemented within the Telecommu- nications Sector in a manner that would make it mandatory. Mr Speaker, Government, on 21st August 2014, approved four policies, namely; the establishment of an Interconnect Clearing House system for the regulation of telecommunications; introduction of an international wholesale carrier licence, which in itself is dependent on the Interconnect Clearing House; the implementation of a unified access service licence with early renewal of mobile telecom licences; and last but not least, introduction of a mobile virtual network operations licence. Mr Speaker, this Amendment Bill specifically deals with the Interconnect Clearing House. Some of the others that I have stated, are dependent on this, particularly, the International Wholesale Carrier Licence. Mr Speaker, the benefits of the Interconnect Clearing House are numerous. For instance, Value Added Service Providers have demonstrated clearly and it is proven that they would have a much sanitised environment if they have to deal with just a clearing house operator instead of dealing with multiple mobile network operators. The other benefits have to do with the fact that, for the mobile network operators, in the medium to long-term, we are going to have a situation where their operational cost and additional investment in infrastructure, with respect to interconnection would also be a thing of the past. Mr Speaker, again, reconciliation of interconnect rates and commitments that accrue thereof will be reduced to the barest minimum. This is because, we are going to have a non-competitor of the Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) being in charge of the Interconnect Clearing House operations. Mr Speaker, last but not least, because we have extensively discussed this at the joint Committee of Communications and Finance, I would want to add that, we are also considering the introduction of Domestic Roaming, a situation where if one finds himself or herself in the remotest parts of the country and he or she is connected to a particular mobile network operator and that network operator does not have very strong signals in those parts of the country and the person is unable to have access, the person may have another network operator that he or she is not connected to. Mr Speaker, once we implement that policy, one would also expect that, we are going to have higher volumes in terms of interconnection and with this in place and the approval of the House, we are going to have a situation where we would be able to address the conflicts and misunderstandings among the various mobile network operators in an easier way. Mr Speaker, let me add the last bit of it. After the migration process, in terms of television broadcasting, we are seeing a lot more, and we will even see a lot more of spectrum becoming available. Presently,
Any seconder? Ag. Chairman of the Committee (Mr Ahmed Ibrahim): Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion and in doing so, I present the joint Committee's Report. Introduction The Electronic Communications (Amendment) Bill, 2016, was laid in Parliament and read for the first time on Tuesday, 23rd February 2016, and referred to the joint Committee on Communications 1992 Constitution and Orders 125, 169 and 182 of the Standing Orders of the Parliament of Ghana. Pursuant to the referral, the Committee met with the Hon Minister for Commu- nications, the Hon Deputy Minister for Communications, the Board Chairman of the National Communications Authority (NCA), the Director- General of the NCA, officials from the Ministry of Finance, Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), Ministry of Communications and the NCA as well as experts from the Attorney- General's Department. The Committee was also assisted in its deliberations by several members of the general public who had submitted memoranda to the Bill and appeared to speak to same. The Committee is grateful to all these officials, experts and members of the general public for attending upon it. Reference The Committee referred to the following additional documents during its deliberations: a. The 1992 Constitution of Ghana b. The Standing Orders of the Parliament of Ghana c. The Electronic Communications Act, 2008, (Act 775) d. The Electronic Communications (Amendment) Act, 2009, (Act 786) e. The Subscriber Identity Module Registration Regulation, 2011, L.I. 2006 f. Memoranda submitted by members of the general public; Background The existing interconnection scheme used by telecommunications operators is the peer-to-peer interconnection system where each service provider directly connects some of its switching centres to the switching centres of another service provider within the same geographic location. This links one electronic communications service to another to allow communication between them. Under the existing system, there is insufficient interconnection capacity with some operators having difficulties expanding their interconnect routes to other networks. This has led to severe congestion on those routes and networks and has also affected the quality of service of the calls made on them. Currently, service providers use several technologies and equipment types, and in some instances this has led to stand- off among operators where one operator wants to interconnect on a certain scheme which is different from the one preferred by another, not to mention the associated increase in capital expenditure. This has led to situations that caused delays in expansion and also affected the quality of calls to those networks. As the number of links required increases under the peer-to-peer scheme, so does the problem of interoperability of equipment types, which consequently delays expansions to improve quality of service. Under the peer-to-peer system, there are difficulties to reconcile call detail records under dispute. Coupled with the current complex interconnection operators being burdened with high interconnect rates, primarily because of the lack of a third party to facilitate accurate reconciliation where interconnection rates are disputed. There is therefore a need for transparent unbiased reconciliation for the industry. The costs of interconnection under the peer-to-peer scheme have been rising and there are anti-competition practices. New operators or new expansions are delayed for as long as one of the operators may choose to delay in allowing access to connectivity. Interconnection through an interconnect exchange operator will lead to network simplicity, avoid the spaghetti network architecture thereby enhancing efficiency. It will drastically reduce the number of interconnects and save the operational funds required by existing and new operators to build new links. The cost of monitoring, maintaining, and upgrading the interconnect links will also be saved when calls are routed through an interconnect exchange operator. Under an interconnect exchange system, the exchanges of a service operator will only be responsible for analysing and routing calls within their network. This will simplify their operational and co-ordination problems. The international platform to address other industry challenges such as the lack of technical connect exchange will take over the load of digit analysis for every interoperator call, and inter-circle call from the exchanges connected to it. This will lead to the faster switching of calls and will guarantee improved quality of service.
Mr Speaker, as my Colleague Hon Member indicated, we had some consultations with various stakeholders in respect of this interconnection arrangements about the telecommunications sector. Mr Speaker, the truth is that, there was no clear consensus among the stakeholders that came. In fact, it is my view that largely the telecommunications service providers did not want an ICH at all. While there were other stakeholders that endorsed the policy, I think we must be fair to the telecommunications service providers and make the point that they have disagreements. Mr Speaker, the disagreements are linked to this. At the moment, interconnection is part of the technical businessoperationsofthe telecommunication service providers. If one makes a call from a mobile network to another, that call has to be interconnected. That interconnection happens at a fee payable to the network that is interconnecting on behalf of the generating service provider. Now, what this amendment is seeking to do is to say they cannot do that through their own arrangements. An ICH, licensed by the regulator, would do that for them. I think the concern the telecommunication providers expressed was the fact that I owe it to my subscribers to deliver a certain quality of service, and they could not guarantee that a clearinghouse could do this for them. What this suggests to us is that, if we are going to have an ICH do what private operators are doing for themselves, then, there has to be proper regulation of the
Thank you very much. Hon Member for Wa West? [Interruption] -- Very well. Hon Chairman of the Committee on Finance?
Thank you, Mr Speaker. I rise to support the Motion and ask Hon Members to also support the Motion and approve the Report of the joint Committee on Communications and Finance. Mr Speaker, the joint Committee on Communications and Finance in considering this Bill did a lot of work. In fact, the Committee had to meet for a whole day to take submissions from the sponsors of the Bill -- the Ministry of Communications and the NCA. We had the GRA represented and the representative of the Ministry of Finance was also at that meeting as well as the representative of the Ministry of Justice and Attorney-General's Department. Mr Speaker, the Committee discussed the benefits of this amendment by having an ICH, which is the Interconnect Clearing House. We also looked at the challenges that we would had, if we had this system.
Hon Chairman, do I understand you to be saying that you would couch it in such a way that when NCA sees that there is the need for a second ICH, it would not need to come back to this House before it creates it?
Exactly so, Mr Speaker. They do not need to come back to this House.
That is what we are Proposing as an amendment to the Bill. The network operators also think that they have invested a lot of money already in the peer-to-peer and that they are concerned about their investment. But what they failed to tell the Committee was that this was already a sunk cost. What they should be thinking of should be the future cost; what additional cost is the new system bringing to them? This is because, if it is a continually peer-to-peer, and a new network provider enters the industry, they would have to incur additional cost to connect to that new operator but with the ICH, whether 10 or 20 new operators enter the industry, they do not need to incur any future cost. They failed to tell us that. So, the Committee thinks that there is the need for the ICH -- Not for them to be thinking about the cost that they have already incurred in the peer-to-peer arrangement.
Mr Speaker, in the conclusion and recommendations part of the Report, it is stated, and with your permission, I beg to quote: “The Bill will also help in rectifying market failures that have plagued the industry and led to significant losses of revenue to the State over the years.” Mr Speaker, at every opportunity, we have heard the Government talk about the efficient information and communication technology (ICT) and telecommunication industry that we have in Ghana. Mr Speaker, in the Budget Statement, which was presented in November, 2015, the Hon Minister for Finance talked about it. Even in the State of the Nation Address, 2016, His Excellency the President alluded to the fact that we have an efficient ICT and telecommunication industry in the country. Mr Speaker, in the explanatory memorandum accompanying the Bill, nowhere did the Government itself mention market failure in the ICT and telecommunication industry. Mr Speaker, rather, what we received at the Committee were varied opinions from a number of people who appeared before the joint Committee. There was no agreement by Hon Members of the Joint Committee that there is market failure in the ICT and telecommunication industry. Mr Speaker, so, I find it strange that it would be inserted in the Report that due to market failure that has plagued the industry, we should set up an ICH. Mr Speaker, as a matter of fact, in economics, if there is market failure, it would mean that resources are not allocated efficiently. Here, we are setting up a regulated monopoly, which is supposed to be the cure to an industry where we have market failure. That cannot be. I would want to submit; that the portion be deleted from that Report because it does not send a good signal to even the investor community. Mr Speaker, if indeed there was market failure --
On a point of order. Mr Speaker, it is his opinion that we should delete that portion. I think that portion is necessary. The definition that he has given, if we refer to the explanatory Memorandum to the Bill on page (ii), paragraph 3, reads, and I beg to quote: with your permission; “The costs of interconnection under the peer-to-peer scheme have been rising and there are anti-competition practices. New operators or new expansions are delayed…” Mr Speaker, so as long as one of the operators may choose to delay in allowing access to connectivity, this results in market failure --[Interruptions.] -- It leads to revenue loss to the State.
Order! Order! Hon Chairman of the Finance Committee, can you land?
Mr Speaker, I am done.
Mr Speaker, ordinarily, if there is market failure, we would expect prices to go up. [Interruption.]
Hon Members, please, let us have some order. Let us allow him to respond to the issues raised by the Hon Chairman of the Finance Committee. [Interruption.] Order! Order!
Mr Speaker, when I used to teach economics at the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA), I would teach this: whenever there is market failure, ordinarily, one would expect prices to go up. In the telecommunications industry in Ghana, the price per minute has declined from GH¢0.14p to even free night calls. Prices have rather been declining. Mr Speaker, if we send a signal to the investor community that there is market failure in the telecommunications industry -- Here, we have a switch from analogue to digital television. It is freeing up a bandwidth. People are going to buy into that. If we say there is market failure, it is going to affect the Government itself. Mr Speaker, so, I am helping the Government by saying that there is no market failure in the industry. That portion should be deleted from the Report, so that it does not go into the official records.
Hon Member, could you look at the portion of the explanatory memorandum that the Hon Chairman of the Finance Committee referred to?
Mr Speaker, that was why I said that if our solution to market failure is creating a regulated monopoly, then we are moving from frying pan into fire. This is because we have a system where the peer-to-peer scheme allows for interconnection among the operators. Now, we are going to have a monopoly; that would be a monster. So, if they are arguing that there is market failure, that is not the way to go. It does not send a good signal to keep that in the Report. Mr Speaker, again, in the Report, it is said that the setting up of the ICH --
On a point of order. Mr Speaker, I am struggling to understand what the Hon Member's conception of market failure is. This is because market failure could be as a result of regulatory inefficiencies. What we are doing here is to be able to allow the operators in the market to communicate efficiently in order to prevent a situation where information, for instance, on finances are held asymme- trically by the operators. That would rather lead to the market failure. Mr Speaker, this is a correction of the situation. We are not creating a monopoly. The fact that it is going to be a clearing house does not mean that we are creating a monopoly. We are creating an extension of the regulator in order to ensure that the operators in the market operate efficiently.
Mr Speaker, if indeed, there is market failure, be it incomplete information or information asymmetry as the Hon Member said, it has to be manifested somehow and also show in the price. Mr Speaker, we now have a regime where we even have free night calls, or one could pay GH¢2.00 to buy credit and speak forever. Mr Speaker, I am sure --
Mr Speaker has been doing it.
Hon Member, please, do not draw me into this. [Laughter.]
Mr Speaker, again, on the Report, I was an Hon Member of the joint Committee, so, you would understand why I am worried. Mr Speaker, the Report also says on the last paragraph of page 3, and with your permission, I beg to quote: “The use of an Interconnect Clearing House will generate much needed revenue…” Mr Speaker, as a matter of fact, in the conclusion section, the Report says that revenues are going to increase. Mr Speaker, it is not for nothing that the referral was made to the Joint Committee of Communication and Finance. This is because the Rt Hon Speaker, in his infinite wisdom, would have thought that there is some revenue consideration. Mr Speaker, at Committee, officials of the Ministry of Finance and Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) came there. Conspicuously missing was the Hon Minister for Finance, his two Hon Deputy Ministers, the Commissioner-General of the GRA and all his other Commissioners. They were absent. Mr Speaker, when staff of the Ministry and the GRA were asked about the revenue implications of setting up the ICH, they could not tell. They said that since this is going to be a new regime, until it starts operations, they cannot tell whether there is going to be an increase in revenue. Mr Speaker, so how on earth could it be smuggled into the Report that revenue is going to increase? Mr Speaker, the Hon Co-Chairmen must explain to us how revenue is going to increase? If any Agency or Ministry of Government can tell us about the revenue implications of setting up the ICH, it should be the GRA and by extension, the Ministry of Finance. They told the Committee that they cannot tell whether there is going to be an increase or decrease in revenue. As a matter of fact, they have not done any cost benefit analysis of the setting up of an Interconnect Clearing House (ICH). So, in the end, we could see revenue declining; it is a possibility. Mr Speaker, so, those are my two contentions in the Report; the aspect that talks about an increase in revenue as a result of the setting up of the ICH and the bit about market failure which is totally off the hook.
Hon Chairmen of the two Committees, can you respond to this point being raised by the Hon Member? You were not paying attention to the points that he raised concerning whether or not it is true that, with the creation of the ICH, it will increase revenue. He, to the contrary is saying that the experts in the area when they were quizzed at the Committee level said, they could not commit themselves as to whether revenue will increase or decrease. Is that what happened at the Committee level? I would like to know.
Mr Speaker, the operators, because they were not comfortable, preferred the peer-to-peer. They were not prepared. The Ministry of Finance says that the information that would be provided by ICH, is going to increase the volume of the data as compared to the current situation until we have the data. That is what they are saying and we agreed with them. If the system provides an information that increases the number as we are given by the NCA, then it will lead to more revenue and we believe that. They are saying that until they have that data, they cannot say it will increase, because they are not actually championing the whole thing. So, I agree with what he is saying.
Mr Speaker, thank you very much for the opportunity to also support this Motion and to urge all Hon Members to support it for the Second Reading to pass. First, I would like to talk about the benefits that have been captured on page 6 of the Report.
Hon Member, are you dealing with this same issue which is being debated? I wanted us to clear this one.
All right. The issue that was raised was that, the promoters of the Bill, gave us a presentation in which they showed that, if you looked at the ICH, it was going to capture more accurate information in terms of traffic which will lead to a basis for Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) to get more revenue. That was strongly canvassed by the promoters of the Bill and as far as I am concerned, that should reflect somewhere without being cast or the statement of doubt by the Ministry officials or the GRA is no reason we should not be talking about it. They demonstrated because the current situation where they asked for the information from the operators, it is not too certain whether the figures they gave are correct or not, but with the ICH, accurate information will be provided and for them, they will see an increase in the volume of traffic that is captured both externally and internally. Therefore, most likely, there will be revenue increase.
Mr Speaker, I think the application that the Hon Member made is what we are looking at and the co-Hon
look at that conclusion aspect of this
Very well. We now move to the Hon Minister for Communications but let us hear from the Hon Member from Old Tafo.
Mr Speaker, I think what my Hon Colleague is saying is that, if at the deliberations, there was no consensus as to revenue increase or decrease, we should not burden ourselves putting it in here. It does not add to the Report recommendations. Moreso, we do not want the National Communications Authority (NCA) to be dealing with the revenue aspect. That is not their mandate and the Committee should not box them in that, they categorically said there will be revenue loss then, he raises this problem that is currently ongoing. So, I think it is better for the Committee that, we follow what happened at the Committee. Mr Speaker, what the Report said was that, for the Telecommunications Companies (Telcos), they may not have extra cost, that, they can say but as to whether or not revenue will be enhanced, that is not the mandate of either us or the Ministry of Communication, especially when the Ministry of Finance made it a point to say, that they could not conclude and what he is saying is that, the Committee should not conclude that way because it did not happen that way and it does not help the recommendations. That is all he is saying.
Yes, Hon Chairman of the Committee, please, let us hear you.
Mr Speaker, the conclusion for revenue enhancement is based on the position of the Ministry of Communication and the NCA. The information that they presented to us, especially the flow of the diagram shows that, more data will be captured under the ICH. More data could be captured, currently, they do not capture the entire traffic. Mr Speaker, now with the ICH, they will capture the entire traffic and that data is what is going to be used by the GRA for the revenue purposes. Based on that, it will lead to revenue enhancement and that is the basis for the conclusion that we draw here. Mr Speaker, the information we took from the Ministry of Finance and the GRA, for them to say that, they cannot tell if it will lead to increase in revenue, we accepted it because they are not
Hon Members, I am allowing this debate to flow on this particular issue, so that we will all be clear in our minds as to the way forward. But ordinarily, a Committee or a Joint Committee has come out with a Report and we are considering it and an Hon Member is moving that, a portion of it be deleted and so on. I believe that, there is a procedure for doing that. But for now, we are debating the contents of the Report, we have opinions which will defer by all means but then, at the end of the day, when we come to the Consideration Stage, we will have the opportunity to deal with these, especially the point that has been raised that we need to have regulations to be promulgated as early as possible. I think it is very important. So, I want us to take note of that.
Mr Speaker, with the greatest respect, I believe that, the view of my Hon Colleague in making the application was to the effect that, we as a joint Committee have come to a certain conclusion and what that conclusion means is that, we are emphatically saying that, with these amendments, the revenue is going to be enhanced, but at the same platform, the GRA, that has the mandate to mobilise revenue said it was yet to be convinced. In fact, to add to what they said, the Hon Minister for Finance and his two Hon Deputies were not there to at least speak on policy, indeed, this whole exercise will help enhance revenue; revenue assurance. So, all that we are saying is that, if the Ministry of Communications has a position, it should so reflect. But if we as a Committee conclude that this is so, when a party which has a mandate under the same amendment is saying “no -- we are yet to be convinced, we are not sure” how on earth can we conclude that it is alright? Mr Speaker, that is very critical.
Could we hear from the Hon Minister for Communications?
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I would just cite about three examples and I am very sure Hon Members would be able to make up their minds. I started my presentation by quoting the fact that Cabinet in 2014 approved four policies. One of it is the International Wholesale Carrier Service Licence. What the operators within this realm do, is to aggregate additional international traffic. They require an Interconnect Clearing House and if you talk to any of them who has been licensed now, they will say that they are just waiting for the clearing house services to commence. What that means is that additional traffic would be coming in and that additional traffic would necessarily lead to enhancement of revenue. That is one. Secondly, we talked about new entrants and by new entrants in terms of voice, you can even see, presently, a company like Surfline as a new entrant;
Very well. The last contribution on this issue and then we would move on.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister indicated that with other operators coming on board, volumes and the traffic are going to be increased. Increased traffic does not necessarily mean revenue would increase. Your revenue is the volume multiplied by the tariff. So, if the volumes increase and the tariff decline, it does not mean that your revenue is going up. Now, you are arguing that the industry is inefficient and you are making it more efficient. It means that price is going to decline, tariffs are going to go down. Mr Speaker, the Committee is not competent to pronounce on the revenue implications, neither is the NCA and the Ministry. The right place to settle this matter is the Ministry of Finance and the GRA.
Yes, Hon Member for Wa West, it is your turn to contribute.
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity. As I was indicating, if you look at the Report of the Committee, there are benefits that are to be derived from the establishment of this ICH. Very entrepreneurial young people were there in their numbers to support that they have value additions that they make -- and currently they are facing difficulties getting these value additions that they have made on the internet, get through the present system. What eventually would happen is that, with the Clearing House, they hope to benefit enormously from having access to this. Mr Speaker, I have heard this argument about the conclusion that is being made in the Committee's Report. Conclusions are what the whole Committee has discussed and agreements would not be; ‘do you agree with this point of view?' An Hon Member of the Committee has the right to say “I do not agree with this” but that is not the basis for us to be removing words or sentences. Again, based on conjecture you said that it is likely to increase or decrease. There is no law here. We are making a conclusion based on presentations that were made to us. So, as far as I am concerned, this is what the Committee was convinced about -- that there would be increase in the volume -- On the other argument about revenue or the Hon Ministers being absent -- the Hon Ministers are not promoting any Bill. This is a technical Bill that is being promoted by the technical Ministry. We just mentioned the advantages that we are going to have with ICH.
Hon Member, you may disagree with him but that is not a proper point of order. Please, allow him to argue. I have given you the floor several times.
Mr Speaker, as far as I am concerned, the issue is not about whether the conclusion is -- The conclusion is, as I said generally, we were given a presentation and we made use of the presentation. There is the last part which is talking about the market failure issue. Indeed, one of the presenters said that, one of the reasons for establishing the ICH was to address market failures. In that person's view, he did not think there was market failure.
Hon Members, in my opinion, we have had enough debate. Yes, Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker -- [Interruptions.]
Hon Members, order! Order!
Mr Speaker, with the greatest respect, I believe that this matter has just come up. In fact, the engine is just about revving up now. We are in gear one. There are so many issues to be addressed and I believe that we would want the best for the system. There is a proposal submitted by the Hon Minister for Communication and we need it. Mr Speaker, we are at the level of debating the principle. The principle is what Hon Members are responding to. With respect, let me just notify them that we are still in gear One. We have not gone anywhere at all. I might crave your indulgence to listen to, at least, four other Hon Members from our side.
And what happens to the other side?
Mr Speaker, the debate is not meant for equalisation. If people are not warming up to debate, should we compel them to debate? Those who are competent would rise up --
Hon Members, as a compromise, I would take two from each side.
Mr Speaker, like the Crown Agents report, one said eleven million is outstanding; the other said seven million is outstanding. There was a median. So, if you say two from each side, and I say, at least, they should be four -- in fact, I meant six. [Laughter.] So, we can say that it should be, at least, four.
Yes, Hon Deputy Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, this morning, we agreed that in view of the Business of the day, contributions on items should be limited. Mr Speaker, so far, we have had about two contributions from each Side. We would plead with the Hon Minority Leader for us to take two contributions from each Side, after which you would put the Question. This is because we have a lot to do.
Mr Chairman, I would rather want to plead with the Majority that if the Hon Speaker is cutting off time, it is better. This was from a joint Committee. There are forty-three Members who considered this Bill. It is not one Committee. If we are cutting off time -- It is better if more people speak to the issues. This is because one person can make one point which would help us. We are debating the principle and so as
Very well. Hon Members, three each. I direct that we have three contributions from each side and then we will close the debate.
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity.
We start the three contributions from the Majority side. Yes, please, go ahead. You would have your three Members to contribute, what is your problem? Yes, go ahead.
Mr Speaker, the issues are clear and straightforward. With regard to revenue, a major challenge that ICH turns to deal with is “SIM boxing,” which robs government of a lot of revenue. We understand that in some instances, GH¢40 million is lost to the State annually through “SIM boxing”. Indeed, if the ICH is going to deal with the situation, it only means that Government is going to get more money to deal with the things Government would want to do. So, making revenue an issue is neither here nor there. Mr Speaker, again, the Hon Minister alluded to a number of factors that would lead to greater volume of traffic as a result of new operators joining the system. This is because, as the situation is as far as the peer-peer interconnection is for now, sometimes, it is very difficult for new entrants to enter the market. For those who are in the market, when the major market shareholders decide to introduce new higher technology, it makes it difficult for other operators to join or interconnect with them. That obviously affects their operations and it has also led in some instances to the issue of reconciliation as far as revenue is concerned. That has led to disputes. As we speak today, there are matters in court. Mr Speaker, the ICH would obviously deal with such situations because it would bring about a great level of reconciliation and transparency within the industry. This is because all the operators would be connected to the ICH and there will be a clearer and transparent billing system through which all disputes could be resolved. Mr Speaker, on the issue of market failures, I do not know what definition my Hon Colleague, who obviously is an economic guru, referred to. As far as I know, and having taught some degree of marketing, market failure is as a result of inefficient allocation of goods and services. If there is inefficiency in the system, apparently, we could talk about market failures. In the situation where consumers do not get the needed enhanced service, one could talk about market failures. So, if for instance, I am connected to MTN and I call somebody on Vodafone but I get the number busy error message, that is market failure because the consumer does not get the satisfaction that he requires. Therefore, market failure is not just about revenue, it is also about the end user; what the consumer derives from the service that is provided at the end of the day. That is market failure. I can contend anybody on that score as far as the meaning of market failure goes.
On a point of order. Mr Speaker, he is misleading this House as if what my Hon Colleague said was false. All he said was, in economics market failures show up in prices. That is what he said.
He also said that, in marketing market failure could come as a result of poor service.
And that would show up in prices.
Hon Members, I believe you are talking about two different issues which relate to the same subject matter.
Mr Speaker, I said that, market failures do not only refer to revenue matters, but of course, the consumer's satisfaction is necessarily derogative for market failures. Mr Speaker, when we met as a joint committee, per the reports that came from the various members of the public before us, it was clear that it heavily weighed in favour of an ICH with the exception of people who did not want a monopoly. Mr Speaker, the only people who had some fears were the operators. Only one operator came before us, that was MTN. They made their argument and superior arguments were advanced which proved that their fears were unfounded. Mr Speaker, in my opinion, this House should just go ahead with this very Motion and endorse it for us to move forward. This is because, at the end of the day, it is going to give the Government of Ghana more revenue. It is also going to give we the consumers a better and efficient service. As a result, would also lead to effective competition.
Thank you. Yes, Hon Member?
Mr Speaker, I rise to support the ICH, but with a few caveats. Mr Speaker, the Interconnect Clearing House --
Mr Speaker, there is no ICH before us -- There is a Motion to take the Report through the Second Reading. He said he is rising to support the ICH. Why?
Hon Member, please, proceed.
Mr Speaker, I scratched my head to find out which other country —
I did not see you scratch your head — [Laughter.]
Mr Speaker, I am talking about my caveat -- to find out which country has successfully done what we are about to do -- and I have not. It has failed for those who tried it and they have abandoned it -- a single ICH example is Pakistan; they are offering a peer-peer along side an ICH for new entrants. Mr Speaker, I can understand the Hon Minister for Communications when he says that there are new entrants in the market who need to have access to these things. So, there is a need to create an ICH. That is why I am happy that the Committee has moved away from a monopoly to a liberal system and that there is not going to be one -- We can find that in the Consideration Stage.
Yes, Hon Minister, were you up on a point of order?
Mr Speaker, I just want to provide an information to him that the holder of the International Wholesale Carrier Licence or the holders are not operators of ICH. So, he has to draw the distinction. Mr Speaker, just as a Mobile Network Operator (MNO) would bring in international traffic, excess traffic could also be brought in. We felt that as part of job creation, giving opportunities to other Ghanaians to have a stake in the telecommunications sector, there was the need to provide this opportunity. In fact, the information from the NCA is that several companies, not operators of an ICH, have applied and they have issued some interim licences, which are different licensing that would need clearing house services to function. The benefit of the ICH here is that when one brings in his traffic, instead of going to knock on the doors of any of the existing telecommunications companies for interconnection, he would just have to knock on one or two, or three doors as this House would determine when it comes to ICH. So, a wholesale carrier licence “C” is the same as a licence “C” for Interconnect Clearing House. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, I said it becomes a competitor. If three players bring in differential wholesale, it becomes a competition. The ICH is supposed to do interconnection but they are given the latitude to do other things. That is exactly what I said and thank God he has confirmed it. Mr Speaker, when he got up, I also thought he would have said which countries do that. All those countries that have ICH also allow peer to peer to run. There is the need for us to start thinking. In the interim that we are going to ICH, what is going to happen? In an untested technology, in that sense of a monopoly in a country, what are we going to do if it fails? Could we just envisage a position where we wake up and there is no interconnection? Could we just think about that? So, there is the need to look at what is going to happen in the interim before the technology becomes tried and tested. Mr Speaker, since 9th January, 2009 there is also a by-law that has allowed the mobile network operators to interconnect; that is the section 20 we are going to amend. Mr Speaker, this accrued right that we are taking from them, have we thought about compensating the operators? If not, what are we doing? Part of Ghana's Constitution talks about people who have interests and rights being compensated, so we have to think about that.
Yes, Hon Minister?
Mr Speaker, there are two things to be corrected. The first has to do with what he described as “what if there is failure because we are talking about one ICH.” It looks like the Hon Member is morbidly attached to the position that Government took in terms of the ICH. If that is the case, we welcome him to that domain and that would mean that he is even debating the consensus that seem to have been established. Mr Speaker, let me come to the point of single point of failure. It must be emphasised that within this ICH system, it is enough redundancy. For instance, we talk about data center services and it is not just about one data center service; it is not just about one data center. So, the issue of single point of failure has long been addressed and I would wish that the Hon Member recalls all the discussions that we had about single point of failure because he was a prominent friend of the joint Committee. He was there on the two days. Mr Speaker, let me also address an issue here. He talks about domestic roaming that I do not even --
Hon Minister, I would give you the opportunity to wind up at the end of the debate.
Mr Speaker, I know how itchy the Hon Minister for Communi- cations is, he wants to create the platform to answer every single question. But the questions are food for thought for him. He is the one telling Cabinet and this House that he is introducing an ICH through the Ministry of Communications and the National Communications Authority (NCA) a regulatory extension that is becoming a market player. A regulator becoming a player? He has confused his thoughts. He said in this House that the ICH is a regulator. A regulator would now bring international wholesale traffic; a regulator is becoming a player. We do not allow that. That in itself is going to constrain competition. So, a regulatory mechanism that does not stand on its own, that is being allowed to become a player is even worse. I would like to continue. This ICH, of the two days that we have spent listening to presentations, I never heard, not even from the amendments that they have proffered that would be coming, that NCA is going to regulate this so called regulatory framework. That is even more dangerous.
Hon Deputy Majority Whip?
Mr Speaker, I just want to know; if it is going to be four or three people from this side and three from the other side, how long is each Member to go?
Hon Member, I would use my discretion, but as much as possible, Hon Members are advised to be as brief as possible. Hon Member, you have had quite some time now. Could you begin to wind up?
Mr Speaker, I was just going to conclude.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister used a term which is not familiar to this House; “prominent friend”. I have never heard anything like that, so could he explain to us who a “prominent friend” is? I have looked in the Standing Orders but, it is not in it.
Hon Member, while he was on his feet you did not raise the point. He sits down and you want to raise the point. Hon Member, begin to wind up.
Mr Speaker, I would encourage the Hon Minister to participate in our debates frequently to qualify as a Friend of the House. Already, by our Standing Orders, he is a Member; but he should visit us frequently enough to understand how the Standing Orders work. That is why I ignored it. Mr Speaker, the issue that he raised about revenue, is not a rehash. It is so germane to this debate. He went to Cabinet to say emphatically that one of the benefits of the ICH is that it is going to raise revenue and to assure Government of its revenue in raising the revenue. Mr Speaker, since the introduction of mobile telephony in this country, volumes have increased from year to year, with the addition of services. Therefore, the mere fact that he is introducing ICH is not the reason for the increase in volume, or the volume capture, or revenue increase. He went to Cabinet to say however, that he could reassure Government of revenue.
Were you there?
Mr Speaker, it is in the Memorandum to the Bill, so even if I was not there the evidence is there.
To put it this way, you could refer to the Memorandum, but to say that he went to Cabinet to say this and that, as though you were there --
Mr Speaker, you and I were not there -- [Laughter.] He was, and when he was dancing, he reproduced it in the Memorandum. What he did not attach is the scope of licence. That is a more dangerous thing. When he went to Cabinet he attached the scope of licence that he wanted to award to the ICH. When the memorandum came from Cabinet, I did not see the scope of licence. Mr Speaker, as part of the scope of licence -- That is why there is a policy failure. There is a policy failure, not a market failure. That policy he introduced for Government's support envisaged that the Ministry of Communications was going to do revenue assurance. Mr Speaker, could you start to think, if the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GHAPOHA) through the Ministry of Transport, came to this House to say GHAPOHA is introducing a technology that is going to increase Government revenue, so, there should be no customs officer at the port? Just come to think of it, where would our revenue be assured? So, it is that policy failure --
Hon Member, please, conclude.
Mr Speaker, as a doctor, when we talk about market failure, the question would be, is my patient dying without intervention? The patients would die with the market failure. Mr Speaker, one thing I can say is that there is a huge policy failure, and that is his thoughts and his regulations. Without regulations this ICH cannot come in; and if we are bringing regulations we have to start thinking about the accrued rights of those urban needs; and if we are talking about regulations, where are the regulations so that we could support them? Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Very well. Hon Member, your time is up.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. I rise to speak for the amendment of the Motion -- [Interruption] -- amendment of the Bill. Mr Speaker, I rise to support the Motion. In that wise --
Hon Member, you rise to support the Motion, I believe?
I am supporting the Motion.
Very well, go ahead.
Mr Speaker, I was conspicuously at the weekend workshop we had, and all that Hon Members discussed over there were very good.
Hon Member, what is it?
After all that was said, I posed a question --
Please, he has the floor.
Mr Speaker, I tried to follow his argument, but I could allow.
Hon Member, proceed.
After all that was said, I posed a question to the experts from the NCA. We spoke about revenue generation, quick service delivery and all that. However, my question was, what is going to the youth of this nation who are to actually use this system to engage themselves? I had my answer right. The experts told us, the NCA, that today when we WhatsApp, somebody gets money elsewhere in the world. When we go to Facebook, somebody gets money elsewhere in the world. By creating this congenial environment, the ICT youth of this country would be able to use their God-given talents.When we go to Ghana House today, there are these youth who are developing software, e-learners. What are they going to do with that? So, this interconnected clearing house is to pave way for the youth in this country to engage themselves. This is because all over the world, we cry there are no jobs, but today the communications sector is becoming a green environment from which the youth could get their jobs. Hitherto, during the peer-to-peer regime, we found out that the operator had the will or the unwillingness to rope a
Thank you very much. Hon Members, the second Member from the left hand side.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I rise to contribute to the Motion on the floor. I would like to get your guidance on how it was carried out. Mr Speaker, if you look at the Committee's Report on page 1, under introduction, and with your permission, I quote: “The Committee was also assisted in its deliberations by several members of the general public who had submitted memoranda to the Bill and appeared to speak to same.” Mr Speaker, save for this statement, I do not see anywhere that the Committee complied with your directive to hold its sittings in public and I would like to hear you make a pronouncement on that. Mr Speaker, in the Official Report of 23rd February, 2016, column 1084, with your permission, I quote, and I am quoting Mr First Deputy Speaker; “ Well, in that regard, I wish to further direct that the joint Committee hold the sittings in public, and that the Attorney- General and Minister for Justice or her representative be in attendance to participate in the deliberations. I so direct.” Mr Speaker, I am not very sure whether the quotation from the Report that I gave earlier satisfies your direction, but then I leave that to you. Mr Speaker -- is Mr Speaker pronouncing on it?
Well, I need to find out from the Committee if the directives were complied with. Are you a member of the Committee?
Mr Speaker, I am a Member of the Committee and indeed I sat in the meetings throughout. I have just described to you --
Did you not raise any objection?
Mr Speaker, I raised an objection at the Committee meetings and an argument ensued as to the directives you gave. In fact, at the time, the Official Report was not ready and the Hon Chairman directed that the Votes and Proceedings be brought. The matter was, however, laid aside before even the Votes and Proceedings were ready. We all heard you clearly and your direction was for the Committee to hold its sittings in public. So, I do not know whether Mr Speaker is satisfied with the job that has been done.
Well, let me find out from the Chairpersons of the Committee.
Mr Speaker, it is true. That issue was raised at the Committee meeting, and we sent for the Votes and Proceedings to look at the decision which was taken on that day. Some Hon Members were of the view that the directive was that we should have nationwide consultations. They thought we would go to all the regional capitals, as we did for the Right to Information Bill, so that we invite the public and sit in different places;but that would have taken six months. Some of us were also of the view that the Votes and Proceedings be brought for us to see what the directive was. Clearly speaking, it was advertised, the public was invited and we sat for deliberations. It was against that background that when the issue of Hon Dr Matthew O. Prempeh was raised, the Hon Minister said he is a “prominent friend”, because he did not seek any permission from me or my co-Chairman to be a friend to any of the Committees. He attended our meetings as a public figure and he was admitted as such.
Yes, Hon Member.
Mr Speaker, the Committee's Report, as submitted to this House, is very clear on how it sat and the sort of involvement the public had. That was why I quoted, and with your permission, I beg to quote again: “The Committee was also assisted in its deliberations by several members of the general public who had submitted memoranda to the Bill and appeared to speak to same.” Mr Speaker, the truth of the matter is that, members of the public who had submitted memoranda were invited to come and speak to same. That is why I am asking you, Mr Speaker, because you gave the direction, if you are satisfied --
I believe there might have been a publication inviting memoranda.
No! The publication was to invite memoranda, but the sitting of the Committee with regard to the venue, the date and the time was not publicly advertised. I am yet to see a newspaper publication that said the joint Committee would sit at Mensvic Hotel from 9.00 a.m. on Saturday, for example.
Hon Member, I believe that once there was an advertisement to the effect that these joint Committees would meet on this issue by such and such a date and that memoranda were invited from the public and there was a time frame as to the receipt of memoranda, that is enough notice.
Mr Speaker, indeed, there was a publication to the effect that the issue had been referred to the Committee and it was considering it. It also invited memoranda from the general public and the cut-off date was provided. When the Committee was going to do its public sitting, as directed by you, the public was not informed, Mr Speaker. In fact, it was on the morning of the first sitting day that those who had submitted memoranda were invited by telephone to appear before the Committee. So, if somebody did not submit a memorandum as a member of the general public, he or she was excluded from the public sittings. Mr Speaker, you appear to be comfortable with this outcome.
I think so; I am.
Mr Speaker is comfortable with the outcome. [Laughter.] The substantive issues that were raised at the Committee were quite enormous. People attended the meetings and some who spoke were in support of it while others gave reasons why they thought it should not happen the way it happened. Mr Speaker, generally, one gets the sense that nobody is against the establishment of an Interconnect Clearing House (ICH). It is just a question of how it will be implemented and how the transition will happen. I think those are the key issues. Mr Speaker, the first issue borders on the mandatory nature of what the Government seeks to do by requesting all the mobile network operators to abandon their peer-to-peer connections and hook on to the ICH. Mr Speaker, there are two issues here. The operators can be asked to connect to the ICH physically through telecommunicationlinks. It does not have to be mandatorily required of them to pass their traffic through their link -- however, because of several factors. Mr Speaker, you know Takoradi and the Market Circle very well. If anybody has a problem in their minds in trying to envisage what the ICH and peer-to-peer links look like, look at Takoradi and the Market Circle. A person can leave any place in Takoradi and go to the Market Circle and take another link and go to another place. At the same time, there are other concentric routes that one could take from say Monkey Hill to Chapel Hill without going through the Market Circle. That is what we are talking about here with an ICH and a peer-to-peer connection. The telecommunications companies have invested enormous amounts of resources over the years, in building peer- to-peer links. These links are not just wireless; some involve the burying of fibre optic cables from one network operating centre to the other network operating centre.
of the accompanying memorandum, Government seems to suggest in paragraph 1 and Mr Speaker, with your permission, I beg to quote: “The mandatory interconnection will save Government the current cost of investing and operating revenue assurance systems on national and international interconnect traffic.” Mr Speaker, this is a clear intention of Government to use the ICH to do its revenue assurance function as per established law. Mr Speaker, I am contending that -- As I have indicated, if the ICH is carrying interconnect traffic and interconnect traffic itself is subject to tax as this House has approved by law, then how are we going to ask the tax man to monitor himself? The person who is the subject of monitoring himself wants to do the monitoring. Mr Speaker, whereas I agree that the ICH provides a common platform through which Government can easily do its revenue assurance monitoring, I disagree that the same entity that would be licensed to perform the functions of an ICH, be it a singular entity or a multitude of them, should not, by any means, be allowed to do revenue assurance monitoring on behalf of Government. Finally, Mr Speaker, it has been said that the ICH, when implemented, would help reduce the incidence of SIM boxing. Mr Speaker, I have struggled through the memorandum and the Bill itself and through the discussions that have been held to try and find out how an ICH can by itself reduce or eliminate SIM boxing. Mr Speaker, as long as there exists an arbiter in the tariff regime and the economic conditions of the population remains as dire as it is today, there would always be a means by which people would explore the possibility of SIM boxing and exploit same. Therefore, my contention is that, we should not be using the issue of reducing SIM box fraud as a reason why we would want to put in an ICH. Without an ICH, we have been reading about the arrest of SIM box operators through the efforts of NCA, some of its contractors and the CID. When I listen to the arguments from proponents of ICH, it is simply going to follow in like manner, what those people are doing. We should therefore decouple the issue of resolving SIM boxing from the establishment of an ICH. Mr Speaker, thank you for your indulgence. Baba Jamal M. Ahmed (NDC -- Akwatia): Mr Speaker, listening to the Hon Member who just spoke and Hon Members of the Committee, one thing that is clear to me is that any major player in the industry would not like this ICH. This is because definitely the ICH would reduce their hold on the market and also reduce their influence in the entire industry.
Is it on a point of order?
Mr Speaker, for the record, MTN did not appear before us. They had a representative speaking for the industry.
MTN did not appear before us. Baba Ahmed: Mr Speaker, I amquoting an Hon Member of the Committee who mentioned that MTN had a representative there. They presented a memorandum. The point is that, a representation was made. I have a feeling that their disposition does not entirely agree with this ICH. I know any dominant figure in that industry would not like this ICH. Let me also go to say that --
Has he explained himself well enough? -- [Interruption.] Why?
No! Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, singling out MTN is my problem. This is because MTN was not there as MTN. Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications represented all the service providers. Mr Kwaku Sakyi-Addo represented the Chamber and he spoke. He represented MTN, Tigo and all the others. So, it is unfair to single out MTN.
Hon Member, you have heard what he said. They were all represented by one person. There might have been memoranda but they were not physically present. They were represented by somebody as a team. They had a representative.
Mr Speaker, the memorandum was also from the Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications.
Hon Member, with this information -- Baba Ahmed: Mr Speaker, I go by the position that the Hon Member has presented that there was a representative. The point I seek to establish is that from what is entailed in the Bill, I have the feeling that it is unlikely any dominant player in the field would like this ICH. This is because it is definitely going to reduce their influence and hold on the market. This time round, any person licensed to enter the industry would have it easier than it used to be. Issues about dispute resolution or whatever would also become easier. In my view, anything that increases value in calls in terms of clarity or ease of access is a plus for us. So, this Bill is targeted at ensuring easy connectivity and data sharing. So, I do not see us fighting this Bill and saying that it is going to lead to market failure and whatever. I hold the position that, as long as it is going to ensure that we have easier connectivity, it is going to resolve disputes easier, it is going to make it easy for other players to enter the market and I believe that is something that all of us should support.
The last contributor, Hon Member for Effutu. After that, the Hon Minister would have the opportunity to wind up.
Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to add my voice to the Motion.
I thought that one like the Savudrian case is dead and buried.
No! Mr Speaker, it is a different matter. Mr Speaker, the directive you gave was to the effect that, two Committees should meet. It has been a practice in this House that when you give a directive for a Committee to meet, under normal circumstance, the sector Minister or a Deputy Minister or very senior members of that Ministry would assist the Committee. That has been the practice. Mr Speaker, unfortunately, on this occasion, there was no representation at the highest level from the Ministry of Finance. The Hon Minister for Finance was not there, the Hon Deputies were not there and in fact, the Chief Director was also not there. In fact, no Director was present. If you come to the GRA, the Commissioner-General was not there, the Commissioners were not there but we had some representatives. My worry is --
Yes, Hon Deputy Attorney-General and Deputy Minister for Justice, is it on a point of order?
Yes. Mr Speaker, the proponent of this Bill is the Hon Minister for Communications. I understand and I was not in the House when the directive was given that, a number of agencies whose work may be implicated in the Bill, should take part in the deliberations. Now, the compliance with that directive does not necessarily mean that, all the Hon Ministers and Hon Deputy Ministers from those Ministries must take part. For instance, I have reliable information that, the Head of the Tax Policy Unit, the Tax Policy Advisor to the Hon Minister for Finance was at the meeting. That is sufficient for purposes of the deliberations of the Committee. It is not the case that, Ministers must attend for us to be able to say that, the directive has been complied with. In any case, Mr Speaker, this Bill is being piloted by the
Mr Speaker, normally, when your senior speaks, you do not have to return the fire. But on this occasion, I disagree with my learned senior and Hon Deputy Attorney-General and Deputy Minister for Justice. Mr Speaker, when the tax policy advisor to the Hon Minister was asked certain questions, with the greatest respect, he could not address same. The purpose of this Bill, is two-fold --
Mr Speaker, the Hon Member has yielded to me on a point of information. Mr Speaker, I want to place on record that the statement made by the Hon Deputy Attorney-General and Deputy Minister for Justice is a very serious statement. I have had occasion, and the Hon Deputy Majority Chief Whip would confirm, that when it comes to policy, Ministers take responsibility and advisors only give advice. When a Committee meets and is considering a Bill of far-ranging importance like the Electronic Communications (Amendment) Bill, 2016, you need those who take responsibility for policy to be there. Mr Speaker, that is why we have been having problems with some of the Bills from Government. And we even have contradictory statements being made by members of Cabinet. If that is the approach, the Hon Deputy Attorney-General and Deputy Minister for Justice, who is the Deputy Principal Legal Advisor to Government is giving Government, then please, let him reconsider. He could give an excuse that, it was owing to pressure of work. But to say that, the tax policy advisor was there is not enough. He is an advisor; he is not the policy maker. Mr Speaker, you have been in positions of authority; advisors are what they are. Those who take political responsibility are those who determine policy. Otherwise, advisors would be running the country. Point of information, thank you.
Very well. Yes, Hon Member?
Mr Speaker, with that intervention, I would not belabour the point. But it is important to remind this House that the essence of this Bill, apart from the technical support, is also to give revenue assurance. So, this Bill aims at, in one breath, providing a platform for Government to increase revenue and we know, the body that has the constitutional mandate to generate revenue or mobilise revenue for Government, the GRA, works with the Ministry of Finance. Mr Speaker, as we are debating this matter, there are serious matters that border on revenue mobilisation. I do not think the Hon Minister for Communications, my very good Friend, Dr Omane Boamah, a Medical Practitioner, et cetera, has the competence to deal with issues of finance. He cannot.
Do not look at him as an individual, he has a team he works with; experts.
Mr Speaker, in other words, I am trying to say that he does not have the mandate to deal with it. But Mr Speaker, if -- [Interruption.]
Yes, Hon Minister?
Mr Speaker, before any major policy like this would come to this House, it would have gone through Cabinet. In Cabinet, you have the Hon Minister for Finance and he would have scrutinised the proposal of a sector Minister in relation to any matter that has financial implications. So, once it goes through Cabinet approval, you can presume in this House that, the Hon Minister for Finance, who was in Cabinet, did give his approval. Otherwise, it will not pass through Cabinet. This is because all others in Cabinet would scrutinise the policy in relation to their sectors. So, let us not assume that, because I read Law and he did Medicine or somebody else did Architecture, we cannot do other things. Indeed, we have records of Lawyers who have been very good Finance Ministers in this country. So, let us not assign the capacity to be Finance Ministers to only people who have done Finance in one way or the other. It might help but it does not mean that others cannot also do it.
Mr Speaker, my good Friend has totally misconstrued the point I was making. I said that the mandate with respect to revenue mobilisation, is not the responsibility of the Hon Minister for Communications. We need the Hon Minister for Finance to speak to the issue. And he is not here; he was not also at the Committee meeting. That is the point I was trying to make. In any event, Mr Speaker, we did not have any senior member at the Committee meeting. Mr Speaker, on record, when they were asked to explain issues that border on revenue assurance, what the tax policy advisor said was that, so far, they do not feel convinced. Mr Speaker, that runs counter to what my Hon Colleague just said.
Hon Member, I believe this point has been made by some other Hon Members. So, can we make some progress?
Mr Speaker, with the greatest of respect, I have my own line of argument. Though it may look similar, kindly grant me the audience. Mr Speaker, the reason being that, he is saying that once the matter was at Cabinet, the presumption is that all members of Cabinet who were present or even if they were not present, perhaps, are bound by same, so, they could not directly be present at our Committee deliberations. Here is a situation where in the absence of the Hon Minister and some senior members, an officer who came said that the Ministry was unconvinced. This is a serious matter. If an officer from the Ministry and Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) says that they are unconvinced about the revenue mobilisation prospect --
Hon Member, I keep repeating that this point has been made, so, you might as well just conclude.
Mr Speaker, without belabouring the point, I am worried about the success in implementation. This is because if the agency that is supposed to benefit from this amendment is not convinced, then it is most likely that --
You are going back to the same point. Hon Member, your time is up. Now, could we give the floor to the Hon Minister to address the issues raised by Hon Members? Does Leadership want to contribute? Very well. Hon Minority Leader, then Hon Majority Leader before the Hon Minister.
Mr Speaker, I have listened attentively to Hon Colleagues who have spoken to the Electronic Communications (Amendment) Bill, 2016 before us. Any Bill that comes to us as the Constitution provides, should be accompanied by a Memorandum which should set out in detail, the policy and principle of the Bill. Mr Speaker, the policy and principles of this Bill are set out in the first paragraph of the Memorandum which provides that; “The primary objectives of the introduction of a clearing house are to assure cost effectiveness in interconnection, reduce the cost of interconnection and facilitate interconnection for emerging service and application providers and thereby make service delivery affordable to subscribers.” These are the policy outlines set out. Mr Speaker, what mischief exists which this Bill seeks to cure, is then captured under the subsequent paragraphs, in particular, beginning from paragraph 3, which is talking about the “less efficient use of point of interconnects resulting in complexity in the network architecture” as the first reason. The second one is, “insufficient interconnection capacity” as of now. In the subsequent paragraphs of pages (ii) and (iii), there are other ancillary services mentioned from page (iii) which include, “increasing higher quality and reliable level of service”. The “redress to the issues of stolen phones, uncertain subscriber identity and to facilitate connectivity with other platforms”. To ensure an “efficient billing and payment settlement process with a verifiable call detail record.” Then four, to “operate a common platform to monitor traffic volumes in the country and provide a common infrastructure for government agencies to host information communications technology systems and applications and store confidential data securely”. Mr Speaker, these are the other ancillary services. We are now told that the Interconnect Clearing House will generate much needed revenue for Government through a number of ways. That is where the problem is. If it is mentioned tangentially as ancillary service, one would not worry because after all, it should be in built in the system. But to go on to say that we are using this to mobilise tax revenue for Government is what the problem is about. That is why I agree with Hon Colleagues that in principle, it is good introducing this. If you have to amend provisions in the original Bill to facilitate
Mr Speaker, we all agree that generally, the policy is good and that it is going to improve the quality of service of the industry. We also agree that it is going to reduce cost and enhance effectiveness. Going through the Bill, it is clear that there are regulatory, technical and financial issues. The Hon Opare-Ansah gave an insight into some of the technical and regulatory issues, and we do not disagree with him generally on some of the points that he has raised. My Hon Colleague, the Minority Leader took us through the legal requirements of a Bill and then drew attention through the Memorandum, to the challenges that we call the defects of the law that this Bill seeks to remedy. That is the essence of the Bill. There are only some disagreements on the issue of financial responsibility. There are some provisions that seem to be impinging on the mandate of the Ministry of Finance to be the one responsible for revenue generally. They think that the National Communications Authority (NCA) under the Ministry of Communications is trying to eat into their area. So, there have been some disagreements there. What the Committee has done and I commend it highly, is to encourage a healthy discussion on these issues and I think that there is some consensus that is being built. The first is that it would not be a monopoly situation. Experience has taught us that it should not be a monopoly situation. It has also taught us that we should not just open the gate so wide that we would get the Nigerian experience where so many companies rush into it, a number of them collapse and then you now have only about three operating. Mr Speaker, all this is what has informed the Committee and some Hon Members of the Committee to propose amendments to the Bill which we would be dealing with at the Consideration Stage. Mr Speaker, the other issue that we have to look at is not just the regulatory issue, but how we would look at the body that is being established -- the ICH. Is it also providing services? If so, would it be
Hon Minister for Communications, please, wind up.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to rise once again. I would want to thank Hon Members and the joint Committee for the healthy deliberations that we have had over the two day period that we met to consider this very short Amendment Bill. Mr Speaker, the issue has been raised about policy and the involvement or non- involvement of the Ministry of Finance and the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA). First, as Hon Mahama Ayariga indicated, the Cabinet decision taken on 21st August, 2014, and I would provide this to the Hansard for them to capture; it was very clear about what Government policy was and is as we speak now.
Hon Members, this brings us to the end of the debate. I will accordingly put the Question. Question put and Motion agreed to. SPACEFORREPORT- (LETTER) CONT. - PAGE 6 - 1.30 P.M. As a nation, I am sure that if we were asked to decide that an ICH operating fully has the core detail records that, if the GRA took that Central Board of Revenue (CBR), they would be able to access the revenue that is due them, should they be interested in going for another option, that would mean additional expenditure, particularly, when you would have this either at no cost or minimal cost? That is the issue which is before us. Mr Speaker, in conclusion, when in the year 2013, the Communications Service Tax Act was being amended, it imposed a certain responsibility on two Hon Ministers; the Minister for Finance and the Minister for Communications. The Ministry of Communications accepted that responsibility even though at that particular time, I was unable to join the deliberations in Parliament. That is how Government works. So, I am very delighted that at this stage, we have not heard people speaking against the benefits of the implementation of the ICH but rather we hear that members are even calling for more of such interventions. The Electronic Communications (Amendment) Bill, 2016 was accordingly read a Second time.
Mr Speaker, if we could take item 20 at page 7 of the Order Paper — the Third Reading of the National Petroleum Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2015.
Hon Members, item 20 on the original Order Paper — the Minister for Petroleum? BILLS— THIRD READING
Hon Majority Leader? [Pause.]
Mr Speaker, we could just present some Papers. These are itemised on the Order Paper Addendum so that we can lay them and refer them to the appropriate Committees.
Mr Speaker, I believe that it is in order, but in this particular instance, I would suggest that the Commercial Agreements are brought and laid virtually the same time. We should get the assurance that we can lay the Commercial Agreement this week, to be referred to the Committee on Health to deal with. I hope VAMED rings a bell with us, when it comes to this Hospital building. This is because we have had that experience before —
Hon Majority Leader, how do you respond to the point he is raising?
Mr Speaker, so that they would bring the Commercial Agreement. I do not want to be mentioning names. I do not want to be dragging the names of people inside this, but we should immediately bring the Commercial Agreement.
Mr Speaker, we start from one before we get to two. So, let us lay these Papers. We will deal with the Commercial Agreements. We have started laying them and they are being referred to the appropriate Committees. So, let us lay this, it would be referred to a Committee and we will bring the Commercial Agreements. Mr Speaker, so far, we have brought all the requests that have been made by the House concerning the laying of Commercial Agreements and they have been laid. So, I would want to assure my Hon Colleague that, that would also be done.
Hon Majority Leader, can I, without appearing to be descending into the arena of debate, suggest that we deal with the Report of the Committee of the Whole so that the Chairman of the Committee can move that Motion and then take over the Chair from me? So, we can work together? The Hon Second Deputy Speaker is the Chairman of the Committee. The Report is ready and so can we get that done and I would let him take over the Chair after that, while I also —
Mr Speaker, we have discussed that. We will just lay the Papers and then move on to that item — the laying of Papers does not take time at all.
Very well. Hon Members, Order Paper Addendum — At the Commencement of Public Business; Presentation of Papers by the Hon Minister for Finance.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister for Finance has mandated the Hon Deputy Minister for Finance, our Hon Colleague, Hon Cassiel Ato B. Forson to come and lay the Paper for and on his behalf.
Hon Deputy Minority Leader, any objection?
Mr Speaker, I have some assurance from the Hon Majority Leader that the Commercial Agreement would be laid as quickly as possible and so that would be fine.
Mr Speaker, from the indication, this House is expected to rise sine die tomorrow per the Order Paper. Whatever it is, I am a Member of the Finance Committee. These Papers presented today have been referred to the Committee. I just want to give notice that, having regard to the nature of the contract, it is very difficult for the Committee to diligently deal with this within two days before we rise. Mr Speaker, the process has been going on within Government for over a year before they came to this conclusion. I am just putting this on record: if we are rising on Friday and we are expected to consider a Report on these loans before we rise, we may not be doing ourselves —
Thank you for the notice, but the adjournment sine die would take place on Friday and not Thursday.
Very well. But the Provisional Order Paper says on page 42, item 12: “THE HOUSE EXPECTED TOADJOURN SINE DIE”. Mr Speaker, whether it is today or tomorrow —
There has been a change.
Mr Speaker, whether tomorrow or Friday, certainly, let us make haste slowly with some of these things.
Mr Speaker, I think it is too early in the day for Hon Papa Owusu- Ankomah to say that. We do not need that notice. In fact, as he said, he is a member of the Committee. Once we referred it to them, the Committee can report to us that due to the nature of the business, we need some time to deliberate on it and that is the time that we would listen to them because they would give us reasons. But we have referred it to them and we did not even add any information to the effect that they should report to us by tomorrow. So, I think he is anticipating - - This is because there is no certificate of urgency.
Very well. Hon Members, item 10 on the original Order Paper -- Motion -- by the Chairman of the Committee of the Whole.
Mr Speaker, as far as I am concerned, copies of the Report have not been distributed to all Hon Members. Probably, the Leaders and some Hon Members have been given copies; so the matter could be stood down for us to have copies of the Report to enable us to meaningfully contribute to the debate. [Pause.]
Hon Member, I am informed that all Hon Members have received their copies. Mr Nitiwul — rose --
Yes, Hon Deputy Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I am just informed that the Ushers are distributing them right now. I have not seen them here and so we do not have it. The three of us on the front desk do not have it and those on the other Side do not also have it either.
[Pause.] Yes, I believe Hon Members now have copies. Chairman of the Committee, can you move the Motion?
Motion 11 -- Chairman of the Committee. Proposed formula for Distributing DACF for the year 2016
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that this Honourable House adopts the Report of the Committee of the Whole on the Proposed Formula for Distributing the District Assemblies' Common Fund (DACF) for the year 2016. Mr Speaker, in so doing, I wish to present your Committee's Report. Introduction The Formula was laid before Parliament by the Hon Majority Leader, Hon A. S. K. Bagbin on Tuesday, 15th March, 2016 in accordance with article 252(2) of the 1992 Constitution and section 7 (a) of the District Assemblies Common Fund Act, 1993 (Act 455).
Yes, Hon Member for Old Tafo? The issue is that most of these projects people tend to think that it is feeding into
Mr Speaker, you just saw that the Report is just handed over to us. At least, we should be given a few minutes to allow us to appear to be looking at it --
Very well. Hon Member, you were at the meeting yourself, were you not?
Yes, but I have not read the Report.
Is there anything in the Report which does not represent --
I cannot even detect if there is and that its the problem. [Laughter.]
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion on the floor and to make a few comments on the Report of the Committee of the Whole. Mr Speaker, the formula was exhaustively discussed by this House and concerns raised by Hon Members have been captured in the Report so that it can streamline and improve the formula in the coming years. Mr Speaker, just one important matter that was raised and I would want to re- echo that. It is on page 10 of the Committee's Report, in which Hon Members expressed worry about a rather large chunk of the fund being used at the Centre and for that matter, a little amount being rather sent to the District Assemblies. Mr Speaker, it is a matter that was raised and the Administrator gave assurances that in future, steps would be taken to correct those things. But I think that Government needs to also look at it. the various District Assemblies and that whether they come from the Centre or at the district level, they all go to the benefit of the Assemblies. Mr Speaker, there is no project in the Formula that would not go directly in one way or the other to support the District assemblies in this country. Again, Acts 462 and 455 of the DACF made provisions that allow the Hon Minister for Finance and the Hon Minister for Local Government and Rural Development to determine the expenditure. This is the leeway these sector Ministers use to come out with these priority projects and until we get a way of amending the Act, to remove that particular provision, some of these challenges would come year in, year out. Mr Speaker, I therefore think that the Fund as it is should continue to increase. We started three years ago, with GH¢800 billion. Last two years, it shot up to GH¢1.2 billion, last year it got to GH¢1.6 billion and this year it is GH¢2.13 billion. So, there is a quantum leap and all we can do is to make sure that supervision and monitoring at the district level is very effective so that we can deliver to the people at the grassroots. If we calculate the number of years the Fund has been in existence, we should expect to see an appreciable level of development in the Districts. I therefore, call on all Hon Members of this House to take the monitoring of activities very seriously and also to try and attend District Assembly meetings so that we could make input into the development. Sometimes, our absence allows the District Chief Executives (DCEs) and for that matter the whole Assembly to take decisions which are not guided by the thinking of this House. I would urge Hon Members to try as much as possible to attend Assembly meetings and make contributions to it so that we could improve the performance of the District Assemblies for the benefit of the country. On that note, Mr Speaker, I thank you so much. Question proposed.
Mr Speaker, I listened to the Chairman of the Committee on Local Government and Rural Development and he mentioned that the provisions in the Local and District Assemblies' Common Fund Act which require the two Ministers to collaborate impose this constraint. But I would want to submit that those Acts cannot be superior to the Constitution. This is because the Constitution as we read yesterday, article 256 (2) says: “shall distribute” and that supersedes the Acts. That is why I am glad that the Committee in paragraph11.0, is making a recommendation which I think the Government should take seriously. It is possible to factor in these national priorities itself in the formula by giving them different weights. I believe if that is done, all of us can be assured that we are not in any way playing with the Constitution. My worry is that, one day, somebody might decide to seek interpretation and Parliament may be found wanting. So, I support the adoption of the Committee's Report with that caution.
Thank you very much. Hon Members, having regard to the state of proceedings, I direct that this House sits beyond the stipulated time as in Standing Order 40 (3). Baba Jamal MohammedAhmed(NDC -- Akwatia): Thank you, Mr Speaker. I rise to support the Motion and also agreeing with the earlier Hon Members who spoke that the distribution from the Centre is worrying. It must be noted that going through the details of the distribution, we realised yesterday that 89.1 per cent ends up in the district and that is commendable. It means that the Fund is serving the purpose for which it was established. The only problem is that, some of these funds are distributed from the Centre and this does not give the opportunity to the District Assemblies to determine what they would want to do with it on their own. This is something that the Committee has captured and I think that the Government should take it seriously. I would also want to urge all Hon Members while supporting this, to consider especially, the monitoring aspect of the Project which is something that has been raised and needs some emphasis. That is where a lot of the public accuse some Members of Parliament that, “you are given monitoring but we do not see you in the constituencies. We do not see you monitoring.” I think that we need to make ourselves more visible in the constituencies. Let us go round and be seen at the projects, so that we can re-engineer and restore the confidence that the public has in us as the representatives of the people. With these few words, I support the Motion.
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity. If you look at page 7 of the Report, it gives us the Formula. The weight given to the Formula is that: Equality is 40 per cent, Need is 44 per cent; Responsiveness is 12 per cent; and Service Pressure is 4 country would see big improvements. I believe that it is time we started looking at these things and making sure that these Formulas that we do here along with the distribution and the selection of projects in Accra stops. Every penny should go to the Assemblies so that the Assembly
Thank you very much. Yes, Hon K. T. Hammond? As a House, we always talk about being masters of our own destiny. Mr Speaker, we are causing troubles with our own destiny. We are not being charitable to our destiny. We should make sure that a mechanism is put in place whereby the moneys given to us by the state for that purpose is protected. Can there not be any ring-fencing? I can see the Hon Deputy Ministers something about it, because I am completely heartbroken and unhappy about the way the money is disbursed. The other day, we had what I call a tiff with the DCE -- “Hon DCE, where is the money?” “The answer was this has gone into this. This percentage is that” and we cannot even buy cement and roofing sheets. Mr Speaker, remember in our co t e d are working. When they work, they would Mr Kobina Tahir Hammond (NPP-- nsti uencies, w do toilets, bri ges, generate their own revenues to take care of their own problems. Mr Speaker, somebody is supposed to give them money and distribute to the districts but they stay in Accra and decide how to spend the money. This is very wrong. Currently, as we know, the District Chief Executives (DCEs) are appointed. They are then elected somehow by our local Assembly Members. It is not enough. It is time we allowed our DCEs to start being elected and I know that when that starts, this business of people keeping the money in Accra and distributing it anyhow they like would stop. When it stops, they would put a lot of these moneys where they are supposed to put them, especially, in wealth generation and ensure that the local economy bubbles all over the place. In so doing, Mr Speaker, this country would develop and every corner of this Adansi/Asokwa): Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. I suspect that the Hon Minister for Finance or his Deputies are going to suggest to me that this has to do with the tax laws of the country. Mr Speaker, indeed, if they have anything to do with the tax laws, is it not a case that we can handle it in a way as we can as Parliament? Mr Speaker, it is to do with the disbursement of the moneys given us as Members of Parliament for our projects. Mr Speaker, they make application to the DCEs, District Finance Officer (DFO) and others who organise these things -- when it comes to the payment, before we would know, half of the moneys is gone into some moneys they have taken back, moneys they have kept for this, moneys that is gone into taxation -- Mr Speaker, we are taxed and ultimately, the money is given us for some projects. Our projects really are tiny ones. I think every Hon Member is aware of what I am conferring -- Hon Ato and the other lady are not listening to me. Hon Ato, you better listen to me because this matter has to do with you --
Hon Member, please, address the Chair.
Mr Speaker, I know the Member is kindly listening to me but I thought he would take notes, they were not listening, I saw them chatting. Mr Speaker, it is a very serious matter and we should be thinking about it. I was not even going to develop the point about relationships with DCEs. Fortunately, some of us do not have that kind of relationship with our DCEs. Mr Speaker, there are instances that getting the DCE and the Administration to actually give their consent for a project gets tight. As I said, fortunately, I have a good relationship with my DCE but my concern is what I have indicated. roads, schools, kindergartens (KGs), if there are no schools, boreholes, hospitals and we pay school fees, in the end, how much is left? If the House can do something about it, that bit that is taken away should be added to the money. If we as a House can, then the Executives through those who are not listening should actually pay some attention to this matter. I think I have made my point. They should support me because they are all suffering from this. Thank you very much. Mongye so e! [Hear! Hear!] [Uproar]
Thank you very much -- [Interruption] -- No! He is the lizard which fell from the iroko tree; if nobody would praise him, he would praise himself.
Mr Speaker, that is the proverb. If nobody is praising me, what do I do? I have to sing the praises myself. [Laughter.]
Very well. Hon Members, I will put the Question.
Mr Speaker, I thought you would give me a few minutes or so to conclude.
I thought the way we went about his Motion, you did not need anytime to wind-up.
I was not going to say anything but the last contribution has compelled me to say something for the record. We must be careful not to give the impression that we do all kinds of things. I heard the Hon Member who spoke, we do roads, hospitals, et cetera. Mr Speaker, how much is the Common Fund? Our four years' Common Fund cannot do a single road -- One kilometre of road --The Hon Minister for Roads and Highways is here and on a point of information, I invite him to tell us how much one kilometre of road costs. We cannot do it.
Mr Speaker, point of order --
Hon K. T. Hammond, you do not have the floor. I have not given you the floor -- [Interruption] -- The Hon Chairman is on the floor.
Mr Speaker, as far as the contributions of Hon Members of Parliament are concerned, we must be clear on record about the procedure of what goes to the constituency. Mr Speaker, the money is not even given to us to do what we would want to do. The procedure is that we apply and indicate what we would want to do. If it falls within the framework of what the district wants and what we have approved that the District Assemblies Common Fund (DACF) is used for, then it is applied for that purpose. Mr Speaker, it is a pittance compared to what we have to do. In fact, some people have argued that the Member of Parliament should not even be part of development. Mr Speaker, the history of the Members of Parliament involvement since Independence or since the First Parliament is a very interesting matter. From time to time, different Parliaments have argued that Members of Parliament should go out, but in some Parliaments, Members of Parliament should do more. Mr Speaker, we have come to this hybrid where Members of Parliament are given a pittance, having regard to our position in society and the fact that we should be able to do one or two things. Mr Speaker, we should not do more than we can.
Thank you very much. Question put and Motion agreed to.
Mr Speaker, we have to go to item 5 on the Order Paper, which is the Motion to adopt the Report of the Appointments Committee. Mr Speaker, in view of the fact that you are in the Chair, you would need to do a swap to take the Motion.
Very well. If we are ready to do the Motion, let us announce it while I direct that the Hon Second Deputy Speaker takes over the Chair. Hon Deputy Majority Leader, which is the next item we have to deal with on the Order Paper?
Mr Speaker, in the meantime, we can go to item 7 on the Order Paper, it is a Motion.
Item numbered 7 is a Motion by the Hon Minister for Finance. Hon Deputy Majority Leader, the Hon Minister for Finance is not available. What will we do?
Mr Speaker, this morning, we asked permission for the Hon Deputy Minister for Finance, who has the authority from the Hon Minister. So, we ask permission for the Hon Deputy Minister for Finance to take the Motion on behalf of the Hon Minister for Finance.
Very well; the Hon Deputy Minister for the Hon Minister for Finance.
Mr Speaker, I rise to support the Motion.
Hon Members, this is procedural. Question put and Motion agreed to.
Mr Speaker, item number 8 on the Order Paper.
Item numbered 8 by the Hon Deputy Minister on behalf of the Hon Minister for Finance. Governmentof Ghana(GoG)/United States of America (USA) Treaty to the Second Millennium Challenge Compact
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that this Honourable House adopts the Report of the Finance Committee on the Treaty to the Second Millennium
Hon Members, the Hon Second Deputy Speaker takes the Chair.
MR SECOND DEPUTY SPEAKER
Mr Speaker, in so doing, I present your Committee's Report. Introduction The request for the ratification of the Treaty to the Second Millennium Challenge Compact between the United States of America, acting through the Millennium Challenge Corporation, and the Government of the Republic of Ghana, operating through the Millennium Development Authority (MiDA) for a grant amount of four hundred and ninety- eight million, two hundred thousand United States dollars (US$498,200,000) and a Government of Ghana contribution of thirty-seven million, three hundred and sixty- five thousand United States dollars (US$37,365,000) was presented by the Hon Deputy Minister for Finance, Mr Cassiel Ato Baah Forson on behalf of the Hon Minister for Finance on Tuesday, 1st March, 2016 in accordance with article 75 of the 1992 Constitution. And in accordance with Order 169 of the Standing Orders of Parliament, the Rt Hon Speaker referred the agreement to the Finance Committee for consideration and report. Reference documents The Committee referred to the following additional documents during the consideration of the Treaty: The 1992 Constitution of Ghana The Standing Orders of the Parliament of Ghana, and The Millennium Challenge Compact Agreement between the United States of America and the Republic of Ghana Deliberations The Committee was assisted by the Hon Minister in-charge of Development Authorities at the Presidency, Mr Kwasi Oppon-Fosu and the Hon Deputy Minister for Finance, Mrs Mona K. Quartey and other officials from the Ministry of Finance and MiDA. The Committee is grateful to them for their assistance. Background The Millennium Challenge Compact is between the United States of America, acting through the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) a United States government corporation and the Republic of Ghana acting through the Millennium Development Authority (MiDA). Ghana was selected as eligible to develop this Compact prior to completion of a US$547 million compact which entered into force in February 2007 and completed in February 2012.This was aimed to reduce poverty by raising farmer
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion. Mr Speaker, this matter was brought under a different article in the Constitution, but we looked at it under article 181 (5). We did so earlier. It turns out, however, that GoG and the USA have decided that it should come under article 75 of the Constitution -- Treaties and Agreements. Mr Speaker, the material is the same. We have checked it carefully. Nothing has changed. So, I urge that there is no point in debating this; we should adopt it. This is because we have approved all the concepts under article 181 (5). Mr Speaker, however, we thought what should have happened was that it should have been referred to the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs. This is because it is a Treaty. We said that in the conclusion, which is on page 7 of the Report. Mr Speaker, otherwise, materially nothing has changed. Question proposed.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Ranking Member has concluded the matter. I would want to urge you, Mr Speaker, it appears all Hon Members support this Motion so you can put the Question.The Hon Ranking Member has put it beyond doubt that, this is necessary and important and that we should just adopt it -- Mr Speaker, I invite you to put the Question.
Thank you. Having said that, I would still recognise Hon Members. Hon Kwabena Okyere Darko-Mensah? Where is the Deputy Attorney -General and Deputy Minister for Justice. Has he left?
Mr Speaker, the Hon Deputy Majority Leader said that, everything is in order, so, we should approve the Motion but we are not up to 50 per cent here. [Laughter.]
We are not? Hon Darko-Mensah, I did not hear you. Hon Dominic Azimbe Azumah?
Mr Speaker, my major difficulty --
Let me recognise Hon Azumah.
Mr Speaker, I am not going on that tangent.
Mr Speaker, I wish that, since we are approving a major Compact like this, the details of what would accrue to Ghanaians are clearly stated. Mr Speaker, for instance, It talks about Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) financial and operational turnaround project; Northern Electricity Distribution Company (NEDCo) financial and operational turnaround project; regulatory strengthening, access project, power generation, sector improvement, project and energy efficiency and demand side management project. Mr Speaker, if we take the ECG, recently, they have increased electricity tariffs and Ghanaians are complaining. So, if they are going to turn around ECG, we want to know exactly what the ECG is going to look like in future when they use this money. We want to know how much generation we are going to get from using this money. This is not the first time we have got some of these moneys into this country. If you take just AngloGold Ashanti Ghana, the royalty alone they generate for this country is about US$416 million in the last 10 years. This Project is going to last for some years. What is so special about it? This is the kind of thing we want to hear so that, we could carry this message home, that in accepting this Compact and doing this project, these are the things that are going to happen. If Ghanaians pay so much for electricity and they are going to take over 500 million just to spend on the ECG, we want to be told exactly what is going to happen after they spend that kind of money not on the people but just on an organisation that we know we have recently expanded -- Mr Speaker, this project would lead to the privitisation of ECG. If we have increased the tariffs by then, what is the basis? Why did they not increase it for Ghanaians to manage and control? That is why we wanted to get this information so that, when we approve it, our conscience would be clear and we can send the message home.
Mr Speaker, there is no doubt that, this Compact we are going to approve today was well thought through. It is a sequence of the earlier Compact on Poverty Reduction in this country, I am sure the United States of America (USA) was certainly very satisfied with the usage of that as they have invited us to have a Second Compact. I am so happy to hear that Ghana is among the four countries selected to benefit from this Compact and to address a critical area of concern, that is energy. We all know of the recent past challenges we had and if this Compact would help us address the energy needs of the country, especially now that we are embarking on vigorous rural electrifications everywhere, we certainly need enough energy to run it. I am sure the decision to go into this Compact would go to address these concerns. Mr Speaker, I think this is a welcomed thing and I urge the House to support the Report.
Mr Speaker, thank you very much. Mr Speaker, I have one fundamental and two other difficulties with this Report. Firstly, I am not so sure if we are doing the right thing today. There appears to have been a second Report because the last
Mr Speaker, it is not different. It is exactly the same figures. That was the point I made to you. Nothing has changed. I do not know which paper he is holding but the total package is US$535,565,000, part of it is provided by the Government of Ghana (GoG). The USA gives US$498,200,000 and we provide the rest. Nothing has changed. On that note, we can assure you that nothing has changed.
Mr Speaker, if GoG provides a certain component, do we ratify or approve the payment effected by the GoG? That other document has a provision of US$535,565,000 attached -- I did not have the Order Paper for today.
Mr Speaker, copies of the document were distributed to all of us. I can give him mine. [Pause.]
Hon Hammond, walking across and looking for documents -- I think I would bring your contribution to an end.
Mr Speaker, I am sorry, I did not --
You cannot speak from where you are standing
Mr Speaker, I am not following your point.
When you are contributing, the whole House cannot be waiting for you while you walk across and try to get a document.
No! Mr Speaker. I did that, because you were engaged with the Clerk-at-the-Table. I could have gone on to make my point.
Mr Speaker, my Hon Colleague said it is not the case that, the two figures might be entirely the same. I still dispute the point. This is because the one that I looked at the last time, was 500 and a certain figure with all the attachments. We do not have that here. Mr Speaker, he makes the point that, it is because Government's Component is added to this or that one. Do we have to approve Government's provision in this House? Mr Speaker, the other matter is also the legal point that he raised. We seem to have ratified the other one which was an Agreement, I think the Compact group now says that, well, they want it to come as a form of a Treaty because they want Treaty ratifications.
Mr Speaker, I just want to provide information to my Hon Colleague. The entire Agreement that he does not appear to remember has been laid before us; the same document. We all have copies so they have brought it to us. What this House approved under
Mr Speaker, I do not dispute what he talked about. I think he and I are in tandem with the point that he has made but that is not entirely my point. Mr Speaker, what has been brought, which has been approved under a certain provision, what is the status of that one? Do we rescind that decision or we do not? That is my concern. Mr Speaker, he says we should not. Having decided that they were going by another route, the other one has become redundant and we do not need it. In addition, we would have two if this should be approved as a grant and International Financial Agreement. Would it also be ratified as a Treaty? This same document, is that what we are going to do? Mr Speaker, be that as it may, my fundamental difficulty with this Compact is that it will essentially provide money so that Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) would effectively come to an end. We would not have an ECG as we have it. The items that have been identified in there, the money is supposed to go into -- Mr Speaker, I beg to quote: i. “The ECG Financial and Operational Turnaround Project ii. The NEDCo Financial and Operational Turnaround Project iii. The Regulatory Strengthening and Capacity Building Project iv. The Access Project v. The Power Generation Sector Improvement Projects; and vi. The Energy Efficiency and Demand Side Management Project.” Mr Speaker, what are these? The last time the Millennium Challenge Compact gave over US$500 million, there were tangible things that were done with that money. We all famously remember the George Walker Bush N1 Motorway, the Agriculture and, other interventions that were undertaken by the first Compact. Mr Speaker, by its nature, the ECG becomes the targeted entity, with the approval of this particular loan. There have been so many attacks on the ECG and in the end we understand that they are going to carve quite a good portion of ECG out and put it in, concession to dispose it of completely. There is a difficulty here; I am not so sure this Compact is going to do very well for the country except to maybe comply with some International Monetary Fund (IMF) requirements. I am not personally comfortable with what is going to happen as far as ECG is concerned. ECG has been
Hon Hammond, you would be concluding.
Mr Speaker, I amafraid that the Compact -- [Interruption.]
Mr Speaker, I do not know whether the Hon Member is debating this Report or he is speculating or he is conjuring things from his mind. I have the Report and I have not seen anywhere that ECG is going to be taken over. So, I would want to know whether he is debating this Report or otherwise. If not, please let us restrict ourselves to the Report and move on.
Mr Speaker, I do not know whether my Hon Colleague has ever known me not to be speaking my mind. If he asked whether I am speaking my mind, then the answer is plain yes, I am speaking my mind. If he also asked if it is in reference to the document, then Mr Speaker, I suspect that he has not had time to read the document. He should read it -- I am referring to the document. Mr Speaker, this Compact is definitely not going to inure to the benefit of ECG or the whole nation. I am afraid that if this is approved, it -- [Interruption] -- An Hon Member said that it has been approved. I think the vote has not been taken yet but if it has been taken already then I am not sure of what we are doing now.
Hon Hammond, please, conclude.
Mr Speaker, it is charting a very dangerous path for what becomes of ECG. These are my concerns, Mr Speaker. Thank you very much.
Mr Speaker, I am going to be very brief on this. We should be clear and forthcoming to Ghanaians on this whole Compact arrangement. Truthfully speaking, this Compact arrangement is just to sell ECG; let us agree.
Where is that in the Report?
Mr Speaker, they talk about concessioners for about 20 years -- we have to be truthful to Ghanaians that we are selling ECG. That is all. Baba J. M. Ahmed -- rose --
Hon Member for Akwatia? Baba Ahmed: Mr Speaker, we are discussing a Report and there is nowhere in the Report that talks about selling ECG. I would want to make it clear because the next time you would find Hon Asiamah out there, telling the press that the Government is going to sell ECG. It is not written anywhere, so if you want to start any mischief now, it is clear that there is nothing in the Report that says that the Government is going to sell ECG..
Hon Member for Akwatia, you can disagree with him but all these other comments that you made -- Baba Ahmed: Mr Speaker, I withdraw the word “mischief”.
There are about two or three of your sentences that I do not agree with. Anyway, Hon Asiamah does not seem to be worried himself. How can I cry more than the bereaved? Hon Asiamah, continue.
Mr Speaker, I think the Hon Member should be very fair to Hon Asiamah. He is an Hon Member of the Committee and once the Committee has said on page -- [Interruption] -- No! Hon Asiamah is a member of the Committee on Mines and Energy, but he has a lot of information regarding ECG as well. He is not a member of the Finance Committee but he is a member of the Committee on Mines and Energy -- that is what I was trying to say. Mr Speaker, the Committee says at page 6, paragraph 3, and with your permission, I beg to quote: “The Committee was also informed that substantial progress has been made with respect to the Electricity Company of Ghana Restructuring and that Cabinet on the 11th of February, 2016 approved the transaction structure for the ECG PSP. GoG decisions has since been communicated to IFC.” So, Hon Asiamah is giving you in- depth knowledge about what is going on there. It is for you to note it down and give us the correct information; but for you to say that there is nothing written about ECG, you did not read it. Baba Ahmed: Mr Speaker, I have not said --
I have not recognised you. Please, do not put on the microphone. Hon Asiamah?
Mr Speaker, let us give ourselves that respect and recognition. Mr Speaker, every Committee of yours is a technical Committee --
On a point of order. Mr Speaker, the intention is not to sell ECG so the Hon Colleague is misleading this House. This is because Private Sector Participation does not mean selling an entity. It does not mean that and if he wants to be educated on that, we would take him through the meaning of what Private Sector Participation is. Private Sector Participation is to encourage the private sector to take part in the distribution of power. That does not mean that we are selling the Electricity Company of Ghana. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
You cannot have a point of Order on a point of Order. I would not recognise anybody apart from Hon Asiamah. Hon Members, when there is a point of order taken against another Hon Member, after the Hon Member taking the point of order, requesting or giving an information has spoken, I would have to go back to the Hon Member who was on his feet before I can recognise another person.
Mr Speaker, with all respect, every Committee of yours is a technical Committee willing to be advised by you -- [Interruption.]
Hon K. T. Hammond, do you have a point of order?
Mr Speaker, if my Hon Friend gave ground, I was going to give him information to add to what he talked about. I direct my Hon Colleague, if he has given me ground, to look at page 6, the first, second and third paragraphs that the Leader looked at. Mr Speaker, these are specific paragraphs which deal with the preparation to sell and dispose of ECG. That is the point he made.
Mr Speaker, as I indicated, every Committee needs to inform this august House. So, the Hon Deputy Minister should listen to me and be well informed here. I would respect that accordingly. Mr Speaker, with your permission, paragraph 3 of page 6 says, “the Electricity Company of Ghana Restructuring…” What does he mean by restructuring? I would want MiDA to come in here.
Hon Minister for Roads and Highways?
Mr Speaker, they should tell us the kind of restructuring they are doing. What kind of restructuring is that?
Hon Asiamah, I am surprised.
Mr Speaker, my good Friend is confusing selling with restructuring involving private sector participation. The desire of Government on policy is to inject efficiency. I am surprised, because the Hon Member is liberal minded. We are bringing in the private sector to bring the private sector experiences in managing public corporations so that we could have efficiency and quality of service of those public utilities and companies. That is what we are doing. We are not selling. Indeed, Mr Speaker, if the Hon Asiamah is minded to enter into any relationship with a big financier in future, he could even participate in the injection of cash.
Why, are you suggesting that he does not have the finance to enter a relationship? Why are you underestimating Hon Asiamah's financial capability?
Mr Speaker, I know he is a Member of Parliament and all of us depend on the Common Fund. [Laughter.]
Mr Speaker, I have not deviated from my ideology and my core values, but the facts must be stated. I am contesting that they should come forward and tell Ghanaians what they are doing with ECG now. Mr Speaker, when we met with MiDA, as a Committee, it was clear to us that the intention here is to sell off ECG.
Hon Chairman of the Committee?
Mr Speaker, the Hon Member finds delight in mentioning the word “sale”. This is because he read from the Report which says “restructuring” but he decided to use the word “sale”. Other words -- Private Sector Participation (PSP) refers to the restructuring we are talking about. That gives concession for a part of work to be done efficiently. Therefoere, he should take himself out of the use of the word “sale”. If he cannot use the word “restructuring”, he should use the phrase “private sector participation”.
Mr Speaker, for us to be clear as a House, let us --
Hon Asiamah, you have made the point about the sale four times. So, move on to another point.
Mr Speaker, to be clear about what we are doing, let us invite MiDA to come and brief this House and for this House to be well informed before we go ahead with this Treaty. Mr Speaker, we cannot string words together and come here to confuse the House. They should tell us what they mean by “private sector participation” in this context. Mr Speaker, it is clear that the intention of Government is to prepare ECG for complete sale. That is the point. Baba Ahmed: On a point of order. Mr Speaker, with all due respect to my Friend, if he is confused, I am not confused. We are not confused. He said they have bundled some words to come and confuse the House with then. I am clear in my mind what I have read from the Report. The Report is to assist ECG to become more efficient. If he is confused, he could find ways to clear his confusion. With all due respect, nobody is confused here. So he could make his point.
Hon Member for Akwatia, I like - Hon Asiamah, you would be concluding.
Mr Speaker, I take serious exception to the word the Hon Colleague used on me. This is Parliament. Baba Ahmed: Mr Speaker, he raised the issue. He said that they have bound words together to come and confuse us. I am telling him that I am not confused. If he is confused, he could clear his confusion somewhere. I am clear in my mind on what I have read. So, what is he exception to talking? He used the word, and I am reacting to it.
Really, it is a point of order? I have recognised you a number of times. Is this really a point of order? BabaAhmed: Mr Speaker, it was a point of clarification. I just cleared it that I am not confused --[Laughter] -- I just sought your direction that I was not confused.
Hon Member for Akwatia, I would give you a second to show me from the Standing Orders the basis upon which you stood up. If you are unable to show me, I would not recognise you again today. Show me the basis upon which you stood up; where is the point of clarification? Baba Ahmed: Mr Speaker, we are all at your mercy, you know that.
How?[Laughter.] Baba Ahmed: When somebody says I am not confused and I say I am, you cannot pin me to it. I am in your hands.
Hon Member, I intended not to recognise you again, but there is a passage in the Lord's Prayer in which I take refuge. It says; forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. You are forgiven and so I would recognise you again. Hon Atta Akyea, are you confused?
Mr Speaker, I am not confused, but I have just heard this pollution in this House that we are at the mercy of the Hon Speaker. I thought we are at the direction of the Speaker but not at his mercy.
All right. You are at my direction; sit down. Hon Atta Akyea, why have you sat? You are at my mercy. No! You are not at my mercy. Hon Asiamah, have you finished? Just conclude in two sentences. Do not repeat what you have said already.
Mr Speaker, they say this capital injection is to make ECG more efficient. When we met them, they told us they would need about US$2 billion to make themmore effctive. So, what are they talking about? What kind of package is this? They should tell us whether that is what ECG needs. Mr Speaker, the whole thing is to position ECG so that they sell it to get what they want. There is that kind of financial retooling.
Thank you very much.
They should not come here and create the impression that ECG has been positioned for our ownership. ECG is going to be sold. That is the truth with this package, if we should go ahead and approve of it.
Thank you, Hon Asiamah. You have concluded. So, who would want to contribute? Hon Akoto Osei? It should be very short, please.
I am Hon Isaac Osei.
Haveyou seen that the confusion has affected me?
Mr Speaker, I would have thought that this Report would not generate so much excitement, considering the fact that under article 181 (5) which is on International Business Agreement which we have approved in this House. There are no new facts. The only thing is that, because of the requirement under the Millennium Challenge Compact, section 4.6 --
Hon K. T. Hammond, do you have a point of order?
Mr Speaker, under article 104 of the Constitution, and of course, Standing Order 48 (2), you realise the point I am making. We do not have enough numbers here to continue the project. This has to do with a Treaty. The Constitution mandates the specific number of people who should be here to discuss this matter. So, the Constitution supplemented by the Standing Order prevents the House from proceeding with what we are doing. I so make the point.
Mr Speaker, article 104 is very clear; if we do not have up to half or more than half, we cannot take decisions or Resolutions. But once he did not raise the issue of quorum, it means we could continue, but we cannot take a decision. We do not have that number. If the numbers were very close, maybe we would leave it to your discretion. Mr Speaker, it is very clear. We may discuss it but for you to put the question, once he has drawn your attention, you might not be able to do that, but we could continue with the discussion. We could talk and do anything but I would plead that we defer the decision and look at it tomorrow.
Mr Speaker, we could end the debate once we reserve the question for another day. As I said in my contribution, the issue has been put beyond doubt by the Hon Ranking Member and what we are doing is just debating and not taking a decision. So, as is said in the Standing Orders, we could conclude the debate and then the Question could be put later.
Hon Members, I would recognise Hon Isaac Osei last, and then that would bring us to the end of the debate. I am confident that early in the morning tomorrow, we would have the numbers and put the Question. This is because I do not intend to assist you to breach the Constitution.
Mr Speaker, I was saying that it is only because the Compact is a treaty between Ghana and the United States that is why we have brought this thing back under article 75. Mr Speaker, having said this, to follow up on the point made by Hon Asiamah, I believe that if it is a PSP arrangement which is not intended to lead to a sale of the Electricity Company of Ghana, then perhaps, the Hon Minister in summing up, may want to tell us what would be the participation of Ghana in the new structure, that is going to happen after the restructuring process. This is because certainly, private sector participation is not only involved in the operational aspect but also in the structure and equity held in the Electricity Company of Ghana. Mr Speaker, so I think it is important that we get a clear direction on that. That I believe would bring to rest, the matter concerning whether it is a sale or a restructuring. What is the equity for Ghana at the end of the restructuring process?
Mr Speaker, in fact, you must jealously guard --
I have recognised you.
Yes. This is because -- he is trying to usurp your position. Mr Speaker, I heard Hon Ambassador Osei asked what the participation of Ghana is if it is not a sale. That is turning the question upside down. It should be: what the participation of the private sector is? This is because ECG is for Ghana. So he should not ask what the participation of Ghana is. It should be: “what is the participation of the private sector”?
Mr Speaker, with due respect, I brought this matter up because Hon Asiamah indicated that in his view, it was a sale. I was saying that after the restructuring process, there must be an equity structure, which everybody should know about and the participation of Ghana would indicate whether it has been sold or not. So the point which has been made by the Hon Gentleman, who just spoke, is neither here nor there. Mr Speaker, I also noticed that one of the aims of the Compact was to use the economic growth as a way of reducing poverty. We have noticed that in this country, over the last maybe two decades, where we have had consistent growth, a lot of people have actually been lifted out of poverty. Mr Speaker, but in lifting the people out of poverty, the advantages have been skewed, especially toward those of us living in the urban areas and especially, those in services such as insurance, banking, and so on. Mr Speaker, so, if this particular Compact is going to assist us to look also at the production of electricity and so on, to assist us to look at the most vulnerable in our country, that is the rural food crop farmers and so on, then this Compact would be useful. Mr Speaker, I really think that all the arguments on this floor, from both Sides are arguments which we must make. But the truth of the matter is that, this thing has already been approved under one article but because it is a Treaty, we are seeking to pass a Resolution in compliance with what the other side already has in the Compact. That is why we are engaging ourselves in this exercise. Mr Speaker, in my view, in spite of the issues raised about ECG, I think that this Report should be adopted by this House and the Resolution passed. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Thankyou, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to just make a very small point. Mr Speaker, I think we all recall that this House approved the Compact as akin to a loan under article 181(5) and same was communicated to the US. However, they insist that Parliament approves it as a Treaty. One may ask himself why? It should also teach us something that when it comes to certain issues, we should never think that anything goes. That is not to say that we were wrong in treating article 181(5). That was the request made by Government, that this House approves the Compact under article 181(5). The US said it was fine but it should be done this way. It is because where it has to deal with commitments of States, particularly in their country, they are very careful not only to abide by their rules or norms or regulations in form, but also in substance. Mr Speaker, often, in our country, we think that anything goes. And I dare say that in case of their understanding with the US, they would have conformed to the letter and spirit of the rules, regulations and laws that they have crafted for themselves.
Thank you, Hon Papa Owusu-Ankomah. Hon Chairman, would you like to pass a comment? All right, that brings us to the end of the debate on the matter. Suffice it to say, if I may just ask the Hon Chairman a few questions, or point a few things out. Hon Chairman, this question of acronyms, if you look on page 6, you have an acronym there, ECG, PSP. You have another acronym, IFC. All the acronyms, before them you state the name, for example, when it comes to Compact Implementation Fund Disbursement you state it before you put it in brackets. I have looked to see where I can find ECG, PSP and IFC. I have not found it in any part of the document before the House.
Mr Speaker, I agree with you. If I may expand that one, the ECG is the Electricity Company of Ghana, and the PSP is Private Sector Participation.
What about the IFC?
The IFC is there. It is the Compact Implementation Fund. The paragraph before where the ECG, PSP is, it is there.
The Compact Implementation Fund is CIF. This is IFC.
It is the Finance Corpo- ration which is the transaction advisor.
Finance Corporation? Finance Corporation is FC. Say the full word, for the record.
International Finance Corporation.
Hon Chairman, you would have saved yourself the trouble if you had stated all the acronyms in full before you put them in brackets. Also, when you go to paragraph 9, it says, and with your permission I beg to quote: “The Committee is of the view that, since the Finance Committee considered the request for the approval of the Compact under Article 181(5), the request for the ratification should have been referred to the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parlia- Parliamentary, Affairs”. When you were considering it, did you report back to the Speaker that they should refer the matter? You have received it, the Speaker referred the matter to your Committee. Your Committee went to sit as a Committee and came to the conclusion that the matter should have been referred to the Constitutional, Legal and
Mr Speaker, I would attempt to answer, since I suggested that we do it this way. A referral had been made to us by the Speaker. Rightly or wrongly, we had to deal with it. We could not tell Mr Speaker that this was a referral that he should have made to another Committee. But I suggest that once we have -- particularly when we have dealt with it under article 181(5), we should draw the attention of the House to the fact that because it is a Treaty, it is not a contract akin to a loan, but comes under article 75. Mr Speaker, you know that when it comes to ratification and approval, there are two different scenarios. It is just like treating subsidiary legislation. You either accept or reject. When you are ratifying an agreement, it has already been executed. It is not during the course of negotiation, but when you are approving, unless and until you have approved, it has no legal effect, even though the consequences may be the same. The processes are different. So, the Committee agreed that if that was the case, then when it is an agreement that has to be ratified as a treaty, it is more of a constitutional matter rather than a financial matter, and I am saying that we cannot report back to Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker in his own wisdom decided that we should deal with it, and as a Committee, we are competent enough to deal with it, but it is for future reference. Our attention was not drawn to it at the time Mr Speaker was referring to it, I am sure if Mr Speaker's attention had been drawn to it he would have referred it to the Constitutional, Legal and Parlia- mentary Affairs Committee. But Mr Speaker's attention was not drawn to it. No! I am saying that it is the House that has said that we should deal with it. We cannot say that we cannot deal with it. Why? We are a Committee of the House.
Well, Hon Members, I am of the view that all the Committees are the Speaker's Committees. Correctly, when the matter is referred to a Committee, being the Speaker's Committee, the Committee must deal with it. I think that if the Committee is of the view that it should have been referred to another Committee, they could draw the Speaker's attention to it. I have sat in this Chamber where the Speaker has referred a matter to one Committee and people have either raised objection or indicated to the Speaker that perhaps he should refer the matter to another Committee, and the Speakers have changed their minds or made it a joint referral. Hon Chairman, but to put it in the Report of the Committee, I do not know. I would not have put it in the Report, because it is to undermine the whole Report. That is the way I see it, but anyway, it is there already.
Mr Speaker, page 5, under observation, “Regarding the legal basis for the request, the Hon Deputy Minister for Finance indicated that the earlier approval granted by Parliament was given under article 181(5) of the Constitution. The Hon Deputy Minister added that in line with Section 4.6 of the Compact Agreement, the Second Millennium Challenge Compact upon approval was also signed as a Treaty. In addition, section 7.1 of the Compact provides that Government will proceed in a timely manner to complete all of its domestic requirements for the Compact to enter the force and the ratification among others, is an important condition precedent to the entry into force of the Compact.” That is the explanation that we have. Indeed, anytime Mr Speaker has made a reference on the floor of the House, certain suggestions may be made by Leadership. In this case, no issue was raised on the floor.
So, it did not --
No! Mr Speaker. It did not occur to anybody.
Did it not cross anybody's mind?
No! Not even the Speakership. [Laughter.]
Not even the Hon Member for Sekondi.
Mr Speaker, who am I? I am a back bencher. [Laughter.]
Thank you, I have come to the end. Yes, Hon Hammond?
Mr Speaker, it is in view of all these that we said that the thing must go back to the appropriate committee. It is under the legal --
I rule you out of order. All Committees of Parliament are committees of the House.
Mr Speaker, he stood down my article 104 and said we cannot take a decision, but he wants to take a decision [Interruption.]
Mr Speaker, no, we were not going to take a decision. We are waiting to be back tomorrow. But when we come, we should not pretend that we have concluded discussion on this matter. Mr Speaker, we could visit it by way of the point that has been made.
Thank you very much, Hon Members. I direct that the debate on the item numbered 8 on the Order Paper has ended. Hon Members, in the light of the matters raised on whether we have the quorate number, it is clear from a casual observation that we do not. So, the decision will be taken tomorrow. I direct that it should be listed for tomorrow; the Question will be put tomorrow. We have come to the end of this debate.
Mr Speaker, do I understand you, by your ruling, to mean that the debate has been concluded?
Yes, that is what I said. The Hon Deputy Majority Leader wants me to emphasise. It does not matter. Sometimes, we ask these questions in court. After the Judge has given a decision, we ask him, “My lord, do I understand by what you said . . .?” it is for emphasis. The debate has come to an end and the Question would be put tomorrow. Hon Deputy Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, item number 5.
Hon Members, item 5 -- Hon Minister for Petroleum?
Mr Speaker, for the item numbered 5, the Hon Chairman of the Committee is not here; he is the Hon First Deputy Speaker. So, why will we be taking item number 5?
We cannot. The Hon Chairman of the Committee is not here.
Mr Speaker, in the circumstance, I would suggest that you suspend the House for thirty minutes, so that when we come back, we will go to other businesses.
Hon Deputy Majority Leader, yesterday there were a number of Bills at the Consideration Stage. I can see that the proponents of those Bills have been in the House for a while and there is a lot of work to be done.
Mr Speaker, if you want us to consider the Bills, then we can go to the Maritime Pollution Bill, 2015 -- [Laughter] -- item 35.
Hon Deputy Majority Leader, if the only things left are the two Bills: the Maritime Pollution Bill, 2015, and the Public Procurement (Amendment) Bill, 2015 -- Are those the only things we have left?
Mr Speaker, the Maritime Pollution Bill, 2015, reminds me of a situation where a learned Judge of the Superior Court of judicature, anytime there is a case and the lawyers bring voluminous text books or references, he looks at the books and says, “Oh!, gentlemen, I think we have to take a firm date.” Then on one occasion, a lawyer brought a suitcase full of books and hid it under the table. and the Judge said, he will hear his argument. The lawyer then brought all his books out and the Judge said, “Oh! This will take about five hours, let us take a firm date.
Hon Deputy Minister for Transport?
Mr Speaker, it is not a very bulky document. It is actually relatively small. We have several schedules attached to the document and that is the reason for its size.
Yesterday, I gave a directive that you should supply us with the Convention? Have you done that?
Yes, Mr Speaker. Copies have been given to Hon Members. [Pause.]
Hon Dr A. A. Osei?
Mr Speaker, if I recall, your instructions were specific. You mentioned certain individuals who must get copies. I have been waiting since yesterday, but nothing has come to me. I was eager to read it. Hon Papa Owusu-Ankomah was mentioned, all the Leaders were mentioned, Hon Dr Prempeh and nobody has brought anything to us. Those who were not mentioned are not even here. It is not fair. It appears that -- [Interruption] -- I am saying that Mr Speaker gave specific directives that 50 copies -- including certain individuals who were supposed to be given copies. We do not have it, but we are here. So, if anybody who is not here gets one, it is a problem.
We are waiting for your guidance.
Mr Speaker, my sug- gestion is that, we should take some time off. We have been here all morning. Some of us have not eaten. We plead.
Hon Members, it is 3.08 p.m. I would want us to move with speed and purpose. Hon Deputy Majority Leader, are there any items that we can quickly do, then we suspend Sitting, and come back later for the Consideration Stage? While we have suspended Sitting then --
Mr Speaker, I am told, and I have no reason to doubt it, that we can proceed with item 22, which the Hon Deputy Minister has informed me that we can finish within 8 minutes.
Hon Members, item 22 -- Hon Deputy Minister for Finance.
BILLS -- SECOND READING
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion and in so doing, I present your Committee's Report. Introduction The Ghana Deposit Protection Bill, 2015, was presented to Parliament and read for the First time on behalf of the Minister for Finance by the Hon Deputy Minister for Finance, Mr Cassiel Ato Baah Forson on Tuesday, 12th May, 2015. Mr Speaker referred the Bill to the Finance Committee for consideration and report in accordance with article 174 (1) of the 1992 Constitution and Order 169 of the Standing Orders of the Parliament of Ghana. The Committee was assisted in its deliberations by the Hon Minister for Finance, Mr Seth Emmanuel Terkper and his two Deputies, Ms Mona K. Quartey and Mr Cassiel Ato Baah Forson, the Governor of the Bank of Ghana (BoG), Dr Henry Wampah and his deputies, Attorneys from the attorney-General's Department and officials from the Ministry of Finance and BoG. The Committee expresses its gratitude to the Hon Minister and his Deputies, the Governor and his Deputies and officials from the Ministry of Finance, Attorney-General's Department and the BoG for the assistance.
Hon Members, Standing Order 127 provides: “On a motion being made that a Bill be now read a Second time, a full debate shall arise on the principle of the Bill on the basis of the explanatory memorandum and the report from the Committee.” Is this Bill the one that the Governor of the Bank of Ghana talked about?
Then we would go for a break. When we come back, we would have a full debate on it. These two Bills would be considered after we come back from suspension.
It is 3:23 p.m. What time should we come back?
Mr Speaker, 4.00 p.m. -- [Interruption.]
Hon Members, we should be prepared to sit for a long time today. We would come back at 4.30 p.m. I would be in the Chair by 4.30 p.m. and I would proceed. The Leader should be here and those who would want to contribute, make sure you are here by 4.30 p.m. 3.25 p.m. -- Sitting suspended. 5. 05 p.m. -- Sitting resumed.
Hon Deputy Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, we were on item 22, Motion and we were about to start the debate after the Second Reading of the Ghana Deposit Protection Bill, 2015 before the House was suspended.
So, item 22. The Motion has been moved and seconded.
Thank you very much Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, as the Hon Deputy Majority Leader said, before we left, we were expected to contribute to the Ghana Deposit Protection Bill, 2015, the Second Reading. Mr Speaker, this is a very important Bill particularly, in the light of what has happened in the so called micro finance industry and the alleged scandals that have occurred. I believe we as the people's representatives, ought to be concerned about this type of instrument, which will allow, not all depositors but the small depositors to get protection for their deposits, either with banks or with specialised deposit institutions. Mr Speaker, unfortunately, it is taking too long for this type of Bill to be introduced in Ghana. So, there is a sense of urgency as far as I am concerned, so when we go back to our Constituencies and we are asked, what are you doing in terms of our savings, we might be able to say that, now, there is a possibility that, when you save money and there is a disaster like the DKM Diamond Microfinance (DKM), you would be able to get some part of the money. But Mr Speaker, we have to be careful when we are passing this information on. This is because the Bill does not intend to deal with large depositors perhaps, like Members of Parliament and so forth. It is talking about small depositors, who on the average, we are told save less than a thousand Ghana cedis (GH¢ 1,000). When I say MPs and so forth, on the basis of our incomes, the assumption, it is an assumption, it may not be correct, that, we are able to save more than that. But we represent people, majority of whom save and are described as small depositors. That is ninety per cent, we are told, of the overall depositors in the system. I believe it is fair to say that, we are part of the ten per cent. So, it is not for us but it is for our constituents. As I said, it is unfortunate that, the DKM scandal has come about. But nevertheless, I think it is important that,
Yes, Hon Member?
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to contribute to the Motion. I would like to make few remarks concerning the Ghana Deposit Protection Bill, 2015. Mr Speaker, our ability to achieve the economic Development depends to a large extent, on saving and deposit mobilisation. A number of events have happened recently in Ghana's financial system and have raised a number of questions. Mr Speaker, this has threatened the confidence that the public has in the financial system. Inherent vulnerabilities and the risk coupled with the global financial system have called for re- thinking of a legal and regulatory regime. Mr Speaker, Bank of Ghana is introducing a deposit protection scheme to consolidate its mission of promoting confidence in the financial system, especially, in relation to protecting the savings of all depositors. We need to emphasise the importance of striking the right balance between the protection for small depositors on the other hand and not encouraging irresponsible behaviour by institutions on the other hand. Mr Speaker, the important thing that we need to think about is the deposit protection scheme involving the multiple accounts and joint accounts.
Mr Speaker, the Ghana Deposit Protection Bill, 2015 is good. We are in no doubt about that. It is also important to stress, however, that this cannot be a substitute for proper regulation of people who take others peoples money for the purposes of paying them some interests on it subsequently when they need their money. Mr Speaker, when the Governor of the Bank of Ghana appeared before this House and it was suggested to him that regulation of that subsector had been weak, he pointed out this Act as one of the interventions by the Bank of Ghana to address the situation. In my respectful opinion, this would do very little. At the Committee level, I was told it was GH¢5,000.00 and I am hearing that, subsequently, it has been reviewed a bit upwards --
Mr Speaker, just to provide information that the GH¢5,000.00 has been revised to GH¢6,250.00 and the GH¢1,000.00 to GH¢1,250.00. That is in the Report as a proposed amendment.
The figures are still small. It is just to make the point that this would protect the small depositors. We have been told that they constitute 90 per cent of those who deposit their money with these money depositing institutions. You could have big depositors, however, who are cooperatives or who hold money in aggregate for some smaller depositors. We have seen this in the case of DKM Diamond Microfinance Limited, Eden Microfinance, which is in my own constituency, and many other places. The fact still remains that this is insufficient to address the problems we have. It ought to be understood that it is not a replacement for a proper regulation of that subsector. I identify with the orders you gave the other time, Mr Speaker, that the Governor ought to tell us what they are doing in the case of those incidents that happened, and going forward, what they would do to protect depositors from people who from all indications are not in the to do decent business. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, I rise to support the Motion. I asked myself, if this Bill had existed would it have prevented what happened in this country? The reason why I am asking this is simple. These pyramid schemes from the days of R5 and Pyram, through Onward Investment, and the recent DKM saga -- If the Bill had existed, would it have prevented it? I do not believe so. This is because if it could have prevented it --
Mr Speaker, the Bill is not aimed at preventing the occurrence of that event. The Bill says that in the occurrence of events of that nature, this should be a cushion or help for the small depositors, so, please take that on board.
Thank you. Mr Speaker, I do not think that the Bank of Ghana lacks the regulatory powers to supervise and superintend banks in this country. They neither learn the lessons of Pyram and R5, nor did they learn the lessons of Onwards Investment which devastated the people in my constituency. I had the opportunity of raising that issue with the past Governor when he was vetted as the Vice-President elect of this Republic. The Bank of Ghana did not come with this Ghana Deposit Protection Bill, 2015. Mr Speaker, GH¢1,000.00, I do not see the lieu -- Are they going to increase it every year? If we are doing insurance, let us do something proper. I do not know how many people are going to be protected by this Bill. How many? What are the figures? Maybe, when they run out, they would tell me how many people would have been protected if this Bill were in place. This is because the Governor came here and this was one of his solutions. If we pass this Bill, the Bank of Ghana is going to be more relaxed in their supervision of these small mushrooming banks. Do you know why? The answer is simple; when the Bill was not there, they were not serious. When it is there, they would be very comfortable in doing nothing. They would relax and do nothing. They would be thinking that there is something called insurance to cover some people. That is not the panacea to wreak regulation. We want the Bank of Ghana to be up and running --
I just want to caution my Hon Friend that we should stay away from personalities -- [Interruption.] He mentioned the Governor and I heard him. He is a person, who became Governor.We are talking about institutions. It is alright to deal with institutions but the Vice President is a person who was Governor, so, the Hon Member should stay away from that.
Mr Speaker, I said that I raised this issue of Onward Investment at the vetting of the Vice President, who was the former Governor and I am not going to change that. When Dr Wampah came here, we raised the issue; and he is the Governor. When good things come, we would credit the Governor; when bad things come, we would attach them to the Governor. This did not start at this Governor's time and I have not seen the Bank of Ghana do anything to prevent it from happening. For all we know, next week, it would happen again. Let us ask the Bank of Ghana what powers they need to prevent such things from happening. I believe that when we pass this Bill, they would go to sleep and say that small depositors now have insurance, so, they should not go after the banks. Let them bring things that would prevent banks, savings and loans companies and other financial institutions from collapsing. That would help the economy of Ghana in a far better way than to pass a law that would let them go to sleep and then we would have all these problems. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, I rise to support the Motion on the floor. I want to emphasise that this step by the Bank of Ghana is not a panacea for banks and financial institutions mismanaging their enterprises. The point is that, if we have insurance covering
Hon Kpodo, what are we doing now?
Mr Speaker, I am saying that --
What are we doing?
We are passing a law.
So, what stage have we reached?
Mr Speaker, the Second Consideration Stage.
All right. Read Standing Order -- It is the Second Reading of the Bill.
Sorry, Mr Speaker, it is the Second Reading of the Bill.
Standing Order 127 says: 127 (1) “… a full debate shall arise on the principal of the Bill on the basis of the explanatory memorandum and the report from the Committee” Therefore, when you speak, refer to the Memorandum and the Report. This is not the time to make general statements. I am going to be very strict on this matter; go to the point.
Mr Speaker, my concern is that we might misconstrue this Bill to take care of every risk that is associated with deposits. That is why I tried to hit at that. Thank you for your direction. What is problematic to me about this particular Bill is that the deposit-taking firms would be required to pay insurance in respect of all deposits of clients. When there is a problem, however, they would be protected only up to the GH¢6,250.00 that the Hon Chairman talked about. In my opinion, that is not fair to depositors. When we get to the Consideration Stage I would like us to, ensure that we make the deposit-taking institutions pay insurance for only the amount or up to the amount that would be covered when the risk arises. Mr Speaker, I support the Bill as it would enhance the risk --
Hon Member, thank you very much. You support the Bill. Please finish your sentence.
Mr Speaker, I said I support the Motion, as it seeks to pass this Bill into a law.
When you said that, I thought you had finished that is why I said “thank you”.Or would you want to --
No, Mr Speaker.
Thank you very much. Yes, Hon Papa Owusu-Ankomah?
Thank y ou, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to contribute to the debate and to observe that this Bill is part of the general financial sector reforms that have been ongoing in the financial sector for some years now. I believe that it is rather late, but better late than never. It is part of a series of Bills that are designed to supervise the financial sector more effectively. The point has been made by the Hon Member that, this Bill in and of itself, when enacted into law, would not prevent the happenings that occurred quite recently. However, I wish to assure the House that, there is another Bill that we are going to debate on fairly shortly which would expand the supervisory powers of the Bank of Ghana (BoG) when it comes to dealing with some other institutions. So, it is part of a package. I also wish to emphasise that, while this Bill is designed to protect small depositors in the event of losing their deposits, we should couple it with education of depositors so that, it is not all that glitters that is gold. However, depositors have a choice. When this Bill is enacted into law, coupled with aggressive public education, it would improve upon the confidence that relatively small depositors have in the banking system. Therefore, it would increase the size of the bankable population. Mr Speaker, thank you very much for this opportunity. I would urge you to put the Question.
All right. I would put the Question. Question put and Motion agreed to. The Ghana Deposit Protection Bill, 2015, is accordingly read a Second time.
Hon Minority Leader, I am sorry. I thought you and Hon Majority Leader were not interested or did not want to contribute. What I would do is that --
Mr Speaker, do not worry since we have not done the Consideration. What I intend to do relates to the Consideration. The principle is understood and I appreciate it. I just want to relate to the ceiling that they have provided. I thought in these matters if we provided for specific sums -- they should give themselves five years and it would become useless. I guess there should be some automaticity perhaps in relation to minimum wage or as we have done with penalty units. There can be some automaticity. We do not have to amend the threshold everytime. The principle is well appreciated.
Thank you very much. Yes, Hon Agbesi?
Mr Speaker, item number 23.
Item 23 - - Hon Minister for Finance?
Mr Speaker, our understanding is that, the principles are just about the same. In view of the time at our disposal we can take one or two contributors and move on.
All right. Yes, Hon Member?
BILLS -- SECOND READING
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion and in so doing, I present the Report of your Committee. Introduction The Banks and Specialised Deposit- Taking Institutions Bill, 2015, was presented to Parliament and read for the First time on behalf of the Minister for Finance by the Hon Deputy Minister for Finance, Mr Cassiel Ato Baah Forson on Tuesday, 12th May, 2015.
Mr Speaker, I rise to support the Motion. My Hon Colleague from Manhyia South made a point which I agree with, that is, the Ghana Deposit Protection Bill, 2015, is no substitute for proper regulation. It is this Bill which sets the framework to allow that insurance to take place. Mr Speaker, in fact and in reality, we should pass this one before we can pass the Ghana Deposit Protection Bill, 2015. I believe the Bank of Ghana is trying to streamline all the laws relating to regulations and bring them into one place. It is now dividing it into Banks, and what is called, Specialised Deposit-Taking Institutions.
Hon Member for Adentan, do you have a point of order? — [Pause] Emmanuel Nii Ashie-Moore: Mr Speaker, no.
Then I would appreciate if you would remain seated while in the Chamber.
Mr Speaker, with those few words, I support the Motion.
I will call Leadership now, then I will put the Question.
Mr Speaker, as has been articulated by the Hon Ranking Member, the Banks and Specialised Deposit- Taking Institutions Bill, 2015 is to help this country and regulate —
Hon Minority Leader, I will suspend Sitting for five minutes. Can I meet the Hon Deputy Majority Leader and the Hon Minority Leader in the Speaker's Lobby? 5.40 p.m. — Sitting suspended. 5.47 p.m. -- Sitting resumed
Yes, Hon Member for Suhum? You were on your feet.
Mr Speaker, I thought the Hon Mrs Bawa-Mogtari was a stranger here but I am told that she is a Deputy Minister. She speaks like the New Patriotic Party's National Women's Organiser. [Laughter.]
Hon Minority Leader? Hon Members, there is no cause for alarm; there is nothing to be worried about. An administrative matter arose and I discussed it with the Leaders. We have resolved it, so let us proceed. It has nothing to do with Hon Members.
Mr Speaker, as I said, I guess the Banks and Specialised Deposit-Taking Institutions Bill, 2015, should be of relevance to all of us. Mr Speaker, indeed, my worry or fear stems from the fact that, given what is happening and given the fact that
Mr Speaker, this is only to replace the Banking Act and not the Bank of Ghana Law.
Why do you say so?
Mr Speaker, we have the Bank of Ghana Law and we have the Banking Act. This is to replace the Banking Act and not the Bank of Ghana Law.
Is it to amend it?
Mr Speaker, I guess the Hon Deputy Minister for Finance is heading towards the very point that I am making. I think that if we attended to the Bank of Ghana Act, a lot of these things could be done within that context instead of doing so at various times and at various stages. I think that if we looked at it carefully, we could consolidate the Bank of Ghana Act and be able then to perhaps attend to many of these things. Otherwise, as I said, we may very soon saturate the environment with a proliferation of Acts. Those are the two issues that I wanted to raise, Mr Speaker. Otherwise, I believe that the principle is appreciated and it might be supported.
Thank you. I will put the Question. Question put and Motion agreed to. The Banks and Specialised Deposit- Taking Institutions Bill, 2015 was accordingly read a Second Time.
Mr Speaker, item 24.
Item 24 -- Minister for Finance.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that the Securities Industry Bill, 2015 be now read a Second time. Mr Speaker, the object of the Bill is to revise and consolidate the law relating to the securities industry. Mr Speaker, the Securities IndustryAct, 1993 (PNDCL 333) was enacted in 1993 to provide a legal framework to regulate the
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion and present your Committee's Report. Introduction The Securities Industry Bill, 2015, was presented to Parliament on behalf of the Minister for Finance by the Hon Deputy Minister for Finance, Mr Cassiel Ato Baah Forson and read the First time on Tuesday, 14thJuly, 2015. The Bill was subsequently referred to the Finance Committee for consideration and report in accordance with article 174 (1) of the 1992 Constitution and Order 169 and 125 of the Standing Order of the Parliament of Ghana. The Hon Deputy Minister for Finance, Ms Mona K. Quartey, the Director-General of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Dr Adu A. Antwi and other officials from the Ministry of Finance, Securities and Exchange Commission, and Attorney- General's Department assisted the Committee in its deliberations. Representatives of the Institute of Chartered Accountants, Ghana also attended upon the Committee during its deliberations. The Committee is grateful to the Hon Deputy Minister and the other officials for the support and assistance. Reference The Committee referred to the following additional documents during its deliberations: a. The 1992 Constitution of Ghana b. The Standing Orders of the Parliament of Ghana c. Securities Industry Law, 1993 (PNDCL 333) d. Securities Industry (Amendment) Act, 2000 (Act 590) e. Companies Code, 1960 (Act 163) f. Interpretation Act, 1960 (CA4). Background The Security Industry Act, 1993 (PNDCL 333) was enacted in 1993 to provide a legal framework to regulate the securities industry and other related matters. It was subsequently amended by the Securities Industry (Amendment) Act, 2000 (Act 590). It has however become necessary to further amend the Security IndustryAct, 1993 (PNDCL 333), to accord with international standards and best practice as required by the International Organisation of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) in conformity with IOSCO's principles and objectives of securities
Mr Speaker, an Hon Member rises to express a desire -- a mere wish -- that something must be done. How are we to consider that? It is just an expression of a mere wish.
Do you have the Report, or do you not? Every Hon Member must have a copy of the Report of the Committee and we want to discourage --
Mr Speaker, as I stand here, I do not have it. I am just considering the wish the Hon Chairman of the Finance Committee has expressed. I do not know whether it should be considered as a request.
Thank you. Hon Akoto Osei?
Mr Speaker, the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) Bill, 2015 that is before us is long overdue. We have been operating in the securities market for a long time but the laws that should help the SEC to regulate the industry seem to be way behind time. Therefore, in a way, we are glad that the institution deems it fit There has been so many innovations in the financial sector, such that our law appears to be at least 20 years behind. We would want to commend the Director- General and his team for moving quickly to bring us at par with international best practices. Mr Speaker, when I used to live in the States, whenever one heard the name, SEC he trembled. It is so powerful. In Ghana, however, when one says SEC -- “Oh, do not mind them” --
What “States” did you live in?
Mr Speaker, several --
No! But what does the ‘States' mean? You used to live in the States --
In the United States of America.
So, say it.
It is the country.
When you say the ‘States', it is not the country.
I thought you knew it when I said the ‘States'.
I knew that but not everybody knows where you stayed because the States is not a Country.
Mr Speaker, when I say the States, I mean Louisiana or Ohio or what have you. The point here is that, when you heard the name of that institution, most large corporations panicked.
Hon Prempeh, two minutes --
Mr Speaker, mine is a very simple one. We were in this country when the Bank of Ghana published guidelines in the papers as to deposit amounts one could take out. Mr Speaker, by the time we could say Jack, it had wreaked havoc. Three months down the line, they came back to withdraw it. Mr Speaker, I hope the Committee has taken due cognisance of that and never again would they allow the Bank of Ghana to issue guidelines to destroy us. Everything should come from their regulations --
Hon Member, you are totally out of order. What are you talking about?
Mr Speaker, with respect, this is not Bank of Ghana -- [Interruption] --
Please! Please! Please! You are totally out of order, Hon Prempeh -- [Interruption] -- I will not allow you to speak again.
Oh, Mr Speaker.
No! I will not allow you.
Mr Speaker, if I am out of order --
On another matter --
On another matter?
Not on this matter -- [Interruption] -- SEC
It was a mistake. It was said in error.
No! You, in particular, do not make such mistakes. I have so much confidence in you, I do not think you can make such a mistake -- [Laughter.] You are above mistakes. All right, Hon Prempeh, speak, but not on Bank of Ghana.
Mr Speaker, we should not allow any regulator just to come by guidelines --[Interruption] -- Mr Speaker, this is the Banks and Specialised Deposit-Taking Institutions Bill, 2015 -- [Interruption]--Oh, sorry. [Laughter.]
Mr Speaker, I am glad, I am not a Doctor. [Laughter.]
I will put the Question -- Question put and Motion agreed to. The Securities Industry Bill, 2015 was accordingly read a Second time.
Hon Deputy Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, item numbered 29; the Public Procurement (Amendment) Bill, 2015 --[Interruption] --Yes.
Item numbered 29, the Public Procurement (Amendment) Bill, 2015 at the Consideration Stage. [Pause.] Yes, Hon Nitiwul?
Mr Speaker, I do not want to challenge the Hon Deputy Majority Leader but he called us to do a certain Bill and then we suspended that because he said we were not doing that Bill again. Now, he has come back -- What is going on? Mr Speaker, he called the Bill and you gave the order but there was a little issue, so, we suspended it. He is not calling that Bill. What is really going on now? Mr Speaker, I would want himto explain to me why he is not calling that Bill now. [Interruption] --
Mr Speaker, the Public Procurement (Amendment) Bill, 2015 is just a small matter which we shall finish very soon. So, Mr Speaker, if the House would indulge us to take just a small part of it. We shall come back to the Maritime Pollution Bill, 2015.
Mr Speaker, then he should have asked leave of you because he had called it, you agreed to it, but just that there was an issue with it and you said we should break and come back. That issue was not cleared and now, he says there is something small -- I do not have a problem if he wants to change his mind but he must seek the leave of Mr Speaker and tell him why he is changing his mind.
Mr Speaker, sensing the mood of the House, we could take item numbered 35; the Maritime Pollution Bill, 2015, at the Consideration Stage.
So, have you changed it again?
Mr Speaker, the mood of the House is towards a certain direction. We cannot stop or disrespect that; we would have to go that way; item numbered 35.
So, Hon Agbesi, you have indicated to me that we should take item numbered 29. I called item numbered 29 at the Consideration Stage. Now, you are saying that you have looked at the mood, so I should go to another item.
Mr Speaker, we must move with the time and if you sense the mood of the House, you cannot go against it. Mr Speaker, with due respect, if you could go to item numbered 35.
Mr Speaker, I would support his new direction and the call for you to direct us to do the Consideration Stage of the Maritime Pollution Bill, 2015.
So, we should suspend the Consideration Stage of the Public Procurement (Amendment) Bill, 2015? Hon Members, we would go to the Maritime Pollution Bill, what item is that?
Mr Speaker, item 35 on page 33 of the Order Paper.
The Maritime Pollution Bill, 2015 at the Consideration Stage.
Hon Chairman of the Committee, the debate is to continue on clause 2.
Mr Speaker, clause 2 was deferred by the Hon First Deputy Speaker to a Second Consideration Stage.
Hon Chairman, did you say the issue has not been resolved yet? [Interruption] -- We should go to clause 21. Clause 21 -- Obligations of authorised person.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 21, paragraph (a), line 1, delete “meeting” Question put and amendment agreed to. Clause 21 as amended ordered to stand part of the Bill. Clause 22 to 26 ordered to stand part of the Bill. Clause 27 -- Offences
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 27, line 3, delete “fifteen” and insert” three hundred”
“A person who contravenes section 19, 23 or 24 commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of not less than three thousand penalty units and not more than three hundred thousand penalty units or to a term of imprisonment of not more than ten years or to both.” Mr Speaker, these are issues bordering pollution and it is an area that is very costly, especially if pollution is to occur on our seas. Cleaning and restoration is very punitive and, therefore, we have to make the offences a little bit punitive to ensure that people would be more careful while using --
Mr Speaker, I am just wondering; from fifteen thousand penalty units to three hundred thousand penalty units -- the percentage is more than 100.
Hon Chairman, do you want to yield to the Hon Deputy Minister?
Mr Speaker, yes.
I have called you, so you get up and then yield to the Hon Deputy Minister.
Mr Speaker, my Hon Deputy Minister would answer that.
Mr Speaker, what we speak of are huge oil vessels coiling within our waters. First and foremost, even presently, very few Ghanaians really own any of these vessels. So, each time there is a spill or a threat of a spillage, we would suffer the damage. So, we need to really introduce some punitive measures to ensure that we prevent it, but when it unfortunately happens, we also have adequate compensation.
Mr Speaker, this matter came up at the Committee level. In fact, that day, I happened to just walk in to listen to it. The explanation that the officials gave made a lot of sense to me. They said that if we do not have serious punitive measures and then leave it at 15,000 penalty units, and a penalty unit is equivalent to GH¢12 -- In this particular law, they are proposing dollars because of the international convention. So, we would multiply by the number of penalty units. Mr Speaker, what people would do is to take waste and dump in our seas. This is because they know that they would just pay peanuts as penalty. So, it is a punitive and preventive measure. Mr Speaker, some of them were even saying that 15,000 penalty units is relatively too small. This is because people who are carrying toxic waste, which they would have paid millions of dollars to deposit in their countries' waters, would rather come to Ghana and pay some 15,000 penalty units multiplied by GH¢12 and get away with it. So, in my view, this House should rather look at increasing the rates rather than the 15,000 penalty units to the 300,000 penalty units. Yes, even 300,000 penalty units is small, because when the oil pollution happened with BP oil, they were charged over US$4 billion. This is because we want to prevent people who would deliberately take some toxic waste and dump in our waters. And the act of cleaning, the damage they will do -- this country would be paying in billions of dollars. The damage they would do to the sea, to aquatic life, in fact, the health of our fishermen and so on. So, in my view, I do not think it should be a big problem at all.
Mr Speaker, I wonder whether the maximum custodial sentence of 10 years is equivalent to the maximum fine of 300,000 penalty units. That is quite in excess. Mr Speaker, secondly, we have a minimum fine of 3,000 penalty units but we do not have a minimum custodial sentence. We only have a maximum custodial sentence so, the custodial sentence can be from one day to 10 years.
Mr Speaker, I agree with the Hon Senior W. O. Boafo. I think that that would bring consistency. I was also wondering the equivalent of 300,000 penalty units and whether it would be 20, 30 years or life imprisonment. Mr Speaker, following the logic of the Hon Chairman, the Hon Minister and my Hon Leader, the lower limit then is meaningless. In fact, that is where we should consider. This is because 3,000 penalty units and from what we have said, we want to discourage it. So that should definitely be raised. This is because it does not make sense and then you match it with the custodial equivalence that he has said. But, I saw the lower limit as 3,000 penalty units and then we say, it is punititve. It cannot be. So, Mr Speaker, if we really want it to be punitive, I am willing to say that, the lower limit should be 300,000 penalty units. [Interruption.] Yes. The offence we are talking about, 3,000 penalty units cannot be. [Interruption.]
How much is a penalty unit?
They are proposing US$1,200. That is too little for the logic they are using. That 300,000 penalty units may be all right but the 3,000 penalty units is really meaningless.
Mr Speaker, originally, I did not advert my mind to the issue of the dumping of waste, but upon this explanation by the Hon Deputy Minority Leader and the Hon Minister, I have changed my mind and I would want it to be enhanced from 300,000 penalty units to a 1,000,000 penalty units. This is because to prevent the occurrence of such a situation, we need to have a very punitive measure for those who would be engaged in it. I have changed my mind; it should be enhanced.
Mr Speaker, I speak in support of enhancing the penalty units for dumping of waste on the lands of Ghana. Mr Speaker, as we speak, we just returned from a certain meeting and some people are said to have dumped huge amounts of waste at Tema. According to them, the transporters take a lot of money from the industrialists; about US$10,000,000 to come and dump the goods here. So, if they are caught, there is no reason we should deal with them leniently. We should deal with them punitively so that it will serve as a deterrent and that they would not attempt and when people hear of that, they would also not attempt to bring such materials to the country. Mr Speaker, I am in support of increasing the penalty units for those who will dump. They have their collaborators in Ghana. This consignment that came, it came in the name of somebody who imports fertilizer [Interruption.] Yes, that, they are importing fertilizer and the name is there, but when we traced it, it was a wrong address. So, in that case, I believe that, the measures should take into consideration the transporters and also those acting as front men for them so that it would serve as a deterrent.
Mr Speaker, I believe that, we put a minimum so as not to tie the hands of the courts too much where the offence is considered to be very minimal.
Mr Speaker, I really appreciate the contributions of Hon (Papa) Owusu-Ankomah, but I just want to say that, dumping of waste is a huge business that is being operated and it is something that as a nation, we really need to impose sanctions that would deter people from actually going into it. Mr Speaker, whether we should give a mimimuminstead of a maximum, my Hon Minister has something to say on it. So, Mr Speaker, let me yield to my Hon Minister. Deputy Minister for Transport (Mrs Joyce Bawa-Mogtari): Mr Speaker, thank you very much. The Convention actually prescribes that, there should be mimimum and maximum fines. So, it is actually in the language of the Convention and there is some sort of damage or waste dumping that is of a very minimal --
Can you read it to us, please? The provision of the Convention you are talking about, can you read it to us, please? [Pause.] Hon Deputy Minister, any time we refer to the Convention, arm yourself with the provision because I will ask you to read it.
Mr Speaker, I amholding a document that was given to us titled Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage. I do not know if that is the document. There is nothing about a limit here. Mr Speaker, but more importantly, I recall the BP incident -- If there was a limit, they could not have charged them US$4billion. So, I am surprised that they are saying the Convention.
You mean the BP incident in the United States of America?
The amount was huge and I am sure it is bigger than -- 300,000 penalty units. That cannot be. So, if we are going by best practices, then we should import what the Convention suggests and not just creating the number. It cannot determine a priori how it is going to be.
Mr Speaker, per the laws, the sanctions are not prescribed. It is left to the discretion of the national authorities. So, we have that power to set the limits. Thank you.
So, the suggestion now is that we should impose a minimum and not a maximum. So, somebody should withdraw this amendment and then propose a new one.
Mr Speaker, in these dumping incidents, you cannot even set a lower limit. The clause should be such that the assessment is done and the assessment should determine the penalty that would be imposed. Like the Hon Member said, it might be a small dumping incident and the 3,000 penalty units might be way out of place, but it can be so huge that even one million penalty units is nothing. If it involves a major oil spill --
How much is 3,000 penalty units?
It is GH¢12 per penalty unit. We should couch it such that the national authorities would determine the cost of the dumping to the society and then charge appropriately. I do not know what they think.
Mr Speaker, we would then propose a minimum --
First of all, withdraw what you have.
Mr Speaker, based on the various discussions that we have had, I beg to move, that we withdraw the amendment proposed to clause 27.
Amendment proposed for clause 27 as advertised on page 34 of the Order Paper is withdrawn as prayed.
Mr Speaker, let us move on. We would draft something and come back. So, let us move on to the next.
So, we have deferred further consideration of clause 27.
Mr Speaker, I would also suggest to the Hon Chairman that we get the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice's representatives to assist us. This is because I know that in terms of these sanctions, fines become equivalent to certain prison terms. So, they may then guide us in arriving at amendments which may not be in conflict with our laws.
Mr Speaker, my Hon Minister would also like to make some comments.
When the Hon Deputy Minister rises, I would recognise her.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. Indeed, the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice actually has prescribed fines under the sanctions schedule. So, I believe we would actually stand this down for the time being, we would discuss it considering the sentiments that have been expressed and then we would come back at a next stage. Clause 28 to 30 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Yes, Hon O. B. Amoah?
Mr Speaker, I have gone through the Bill and it is in various parts. For almost each part, they have a clause on Regulations. I would want to find out whether there is any special reason -- In respect of Part 3 which is what we are considering now, why they do not have provisions for Regulations as far as the prevention of marine pollution by
Mr Speaker, I am not getting my Hon Colleague very clear. Is he saying that in terms of the dumping of waste, there is no Regulation guiding how waste should be handled? Is that what he is saying? Please, he should come again.
Anyway, it is not all the parts that have Regulations. Part 4, for example, does not have Regulations. So, its Part 4 and Part 3 -- it is not all of them.
Mr Speaker, if we go to 249 on page 148; they have tried to list all the issues under which they may make Regulations. But it does not cover some of the aspects that we are dealing with, especially on this part. Are they saying that they would not have any reason to come by a Legislative Instrument and to make Regulations for this part that we are looking at? If it is an oversight, we should find a way of putting it in. Otherwise, they appear to say that when it comes to this part, they would not have any recourse to a Legislative Instrument to make regulations.
Chairman of the Committee, continue to think about it, then you would answer tomorrow. The old form of drafting was that there was one clause on regulations which was the last clause or penultimate clause of the Bill. Now, I notice that when they finish one part, they would bring regulation. There are various clauses; clause 116 is about Regulations. There is another clause; clause 182, which is also on Regulations. This might be the new testament; the new form of drafting. Hon Minister, you do not need to answer every question. The Chairman of the Subsidiary Legislation Committee is concerned about subsidiary legislation. He is writing a book on subsidiary legislation. His is an expert in subsidiary legislation. That is why he is asking you that question. When we rise, you can discuss it with him. Clause 31 -- Interpretation.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 31, interpretation of “dumping”, paragraph (c), sub-paragraph (i), line 11, after “structures” insert “at sea”.
“(i) the disposal into the sea of wastes or other matter incidental to, or derived from the normal operation of vessels, aircraft, offshore installation, storage facilities and other man-made structures at sea
Mr Speaker, I see this, but if that is true, would he consider the same for line 5, “waste or other matter”? He did it in line 7 but line 5 also has a similar construction. I would want to know whether he would not do the same. Does he want to keep the “waste” on page 25? Mr Speaker, does he see that? He did it for line 7. He went pass that line I am talking about. [Interruption.] No, in line 7, he has changed “wastes”. And I am saying, in line 5, interpretation of -- [Laughter.]
I would put the Question. Question put and amendment agreed to.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 31, interpretation of “incineration at sea; line 7, delete “wastes” and insert “waste” -- [Interruption.] It is a typographical error. It is for the drafterspersons to take care of.
Mr Speaker, I was asking him to look at line 5 and if a consequential amendment should not be made.
That is another typographical error. He is right. The draftspersons would look at that. Question put and amendment agreed to. Clause 31 ordered to stand part of the Bill. Clause 32 to 51 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Clause 52 Clause 52 -- Report of Accident and defects
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 52, subclause (1), paragraph (e), line 1, before “appointed” delete “the”. Question put and amendment agreed to.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 52, subclause (2), delete and insert the following: “(2) Where the ship is in a port of a country where MARPOL is in force, the master or owner of the ship shall report the accident or defect immediately to the appropriate authorities of the country. (3) The appointed surveyor or recognised organisation shall ascertain that the report has been made to the appropriate authorities of the country”.
Hon Chairman, do not do that. Look at your Standing Orders, what does it say if there are more --
Well taken, Mr Speaker.
Hon Members, the amendment is for your consideration. It is a long amendment so I would give you some more time.
Mr Speaker, I just want to understand the amendment being made here. It says: “subclause (2), delete and insert the following: …” Then we have (2) and (3) but there is a (3) already in there. So, I am not sure if it is a new clause. Are they keeping the current subclause (3)? Are we maintaining the old (3)? This is because if it was 2 (a) (b), I would understand.
Mr Speaker, I think the idea was to break the subclause 2, into two paragraphs so we would still be maintaining the (3) at the back. So, there should not have been (3) at the beginning of “The appointed”. They should have been two separate sentences.
So if we carry this amendment, we would leave it for the draftsperson to number.
Mr Speaker, did they want subclause (2) to have two paragraphs? So, the first one which they have captured here should be (2) (i) and the next one would be (2) (ii)? If it is so, we understand it that way and not numbered as another subclause.
I think the draftsperson would take all that we have said into consideration.
Mr Speaker, by so doing, he has actually moved an amendment. If they agree, then the amendment would be further amended to reflect this one. Hon Owusu-Aduomi has made further amendment.
Hon Chireh, the further amendment he has made is not substance. It is the numbering. The substance is the same.
Mr Speaker, it could be a direction to the draftspersons but once he said something which rectifies what we are seeing here, it amounts to an amendment to this amendment.
So, should we take the Hon Ranking Members amendment first? And when we take that and it is carried, then we go and take the second amendment? Hon Members, the amendment we are taking is the same in substance but in numbering, the first subclause is subclause 2 (i) and what is 3 on the Order Paper is subclause 2 (ii). Question put and amendment agreed to.
The draftsperson would take into account the proposed amendment.
Mr Speaker, I was scratching my head. We have been going through this Bill for some time and the Hon Minister who is a Member of Parliament has been conspicuously absent --
Mr Speaker, Minister for Transport?
Who is the Minister for Transport?
Hon Fifi Fiavi Kwetey. So, if we could ask the Hon Majority Leader to ensure sometimes, we need his input because these are matters of policy. That he comes to explain some of these things to us. He is a Member of Parliament and for four days running, he has never been here to support this Bill in anyway - - [Interruption] -- When and where is he? -- [Interruption] -- That is even more serious if he was here. Mr Speaker, he should come tomorrow to help us speed things up.
Obviously, the Constitution says that Deputy Ministers shall assist their Ministers. I am convinced that the Hon Deputy Minister is not here on a frolic of her own. She is here on the express instructions of her Minister, and I do not think she has given us any reason to believe that she is not competent to act in his stead.
Mr Speaker, for the records, it is not about competence at all. Since he became Minister for Transport, we have not seen him doing ministerial transport work here.
He is going around on a tour. Did you not see the Hon Minister for Youth and Sports in the newspapers? You have not been a Minister before so you do not understand. Ask Hon Papa Owusu- Ankomah or Hon Yieleh Chireh. When you are appointed as a Minister, you have to go on a nationwide tour.
Mr Speaker, you are right but this --
Hon Yieleh Chireh, if you are appointed to take
Mr Speaker, precisely so. You need to familiarise yourself with the activities of the various agencies under your Ministry. [Laughter.]
I am sure Hon Papa Owusu-Ankomah would agree with him.
Mr Speaker, to some extent. Of course, I had the benefit of handling six Ministries. AMinister does not need to go round every time. He should determine his priority and the Bill is a priority. That is the point.
It is a matter of style.
It is not a matter of style. This is Maritime Pollution Bill dealingwith a major area of policywhen it comes to maritime matters for the state. Of course, I do not know. I am sure he is inspecting some Metro Mass Transit. [Laughter.]
I did not hear that.
Mr Speaker, in actual fact, when we were about to move the Motion, he was here with me, but there are technicalities involved with this particular Bill. He was not a Minister when we started working at this Bill. It was the Hon Deputy Minister who took us through almost everything, so she has institutional memory. Question put and amendment agreed to. Clause 52 as variously amended ordered to stand part of the Bill. Clause 53 to 57 ordered to stand part of the Bill. Clause 58 -- Control of discharge of oil
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 58, subclause (1), paragraph (b), delete “in Ghanaian waters” and insert “within Ghana's maritime jurisdiction”. Question put and amendment agreed to. Clause 58 as amended ordered to stand part of the Bill. Clause 59 to 70 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
I would like an indication from the Hon Deputy Majority Leader.
Mr Speaker, we have agreed that we will end at 7.00 o'clock and at clause 70.
We are already at clause 70.
Mr Speaker, I think that Part ends at clause 74. Even though there are some amendments, I do not think they are substantial. We could take them and complete that Part. We would resume probably at the next Meeting and hope that we could do it before the elections.
If he would like us to go to clause 100, we will do it. Clause 71 -- Oil record book
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 71, subclause 19, line 2, after “Book”, delete “an” and insert “the” So, it would read “where a ship does not have an oil record book or fails to produce an oil record book, the owner or master of the ship shall pay to the Authority an administrative penalty of 600 penalty units.” Thank you, Mr Speaker. Question put and amendment agreed to. Clause 71 as amended ordered to stand part of the Bill. Clause 72 to 73 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Mr Speaker, I thought my Hon Colleague over there had a point of order. He has been standing for a while, but he has not caught your eye, so, I wonder. Clause 74 -- Offences and interpretation
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 74, subclause (1), line 6, delete “one” and insert “ten”.
It is in connection with fines.
So, it should be 10,000 penalty units.
Would you not like to defer that as well?
Yes, Mr Speaker --
Let us defer it. Let us add it to the first one. Let us defer further Consideration of clause 74, so, we end at clause 73.
That brings us to the end of the Consideration Stage of the Maritime Pollution Bill, 2015 for today.
Mr Speaker, I think that we have to specially thank our Hon Colleagues for their endurance.We would still plead with Hon Members to endure a little further for us to look at the Public Procurement (Amendment) Bill and take a few clauses before we call it a day. Mr Speaker, item numbered 29 -- Public Procurement (Amendment) Bill, 2015 at the Consideration Stage.
Hon Nititwul, there is an arrangement. We may not be able to proceed. Let us bring it to --
Mr Speaker, I realised that since 3.00 o'clock, you have tried to get the Hon Agbesi to do one or two things on this Bill, so I concede. There is no problem.
Thank you. The Public Procurement (Amendment) Bill, 2015 at the Consideration Stage.
BILLS -- CONSIDERATION
Hon Members, if you look at page 9 of the Order Paper, Schedule 1B1, the amendment proposed is to delete: “Chief Administrator”; “Majority Leader”; “Minority Leader”; “Chairperson of Public Accounts Committee”; “Chairperson of Works Committee”, “Chairperson of a third parliamentary committee (selected by the Speaker)”; “2 Members of Professional Bodies” and insert the following: “Clerk to Parliament”; In the original rendition Parliament was actively involved. Now, Parliament's involvement has been totally watered down. I have been informed by the Leaders that they would want to be present when this matter is being debated. What we would do is to defer it and do it early tomorrow morning. Hon Members, we can take the amendments on page 10 of the Order Paper. That is all, which is instead of an “Attorney from the Attorney-General's Office”, insert “A Lawyer representing the Attorney-General”. I do not know why instead of “Attorney” they would want to insert “a Lawyer”. So, we can go to page 10.
Mr Speaker, I would want us to start from page 9 (ii). That is not Parliament, but Judiciary.
It falls within the same category.
Mr Speaker, they do not have any problem. It is the Judiciary that brought this amendment to us.
So, who brought the one on Parliament to you? Did you bring it yourself?
Mr Speaker, we doubt that.
Yes, Hon Dr A. A. Osei?
Mr Speaker, there is a fundamental issue on the one on Parliament. The one we are proposing deals with the Parliamentary Service Board, not Parliament. We would want the Leadership to tell us, Parliament as an institution, what is our entity. Thus far, it has been combined, so, we need to deal with that. The one we are proposing is only for the Parliamentary Service Board and there is no reason why Hon Members of Parliament (MP's) should be concerned about procurement for Parliamentary Service Board. But we must be concerned about Parliament as an institution. We do not know what is happening. They buy the chairs -- [Interruption.] who does it for us? But we are responsible for it. So, that is the issue. That is why we would want the Leadership to be here.
Hon Dr A. A. Osei, we would consider that tomorrow. Hon Chairman of the Committee, let us consider the institution as a whole. Let us start from page 10 on the Order Paper.
Mr Speaker, Schedule 1B 4, amendment proposed, column -- [Laughter.]
When I call it, the Clerks-at-the-Table would read the side note before you get up. For the Schedules, nothing like that happens? I was accused of speed yesterday, but I think Hon Avedzi, you are now more than Usain Bolt. [Laughter.] Hon Members, First Schedule. First Schedule -- Composition of Entity Tender Committees -- Ministries, Departments and Agencies.
We would defer that. Yes, Schedule 1B4? Schedule 1B4 -- Category D Chairman of the Committee?
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, Schedule 1B 4, column under “Regional office of Subvented Agencies and Government Department”, third row, delete “Attorney from the Attorney- General's Office”, and insert the following: Mr Speaker, the Committee is of the view that at the regional level, for all the subvented agencies, getting an Attorney from the Attorney-General's Office might be difficult. So, we are proposing a lawyer representing the Attorney-General.
Hon Sarah Adwoa Safo?
Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Hon Member, read it. What was there previously was “Attorney from the Attorney-General's Office”, which means that someone working in the Attorney-General's Department. What they are proposing is a lawyer or an attorney representing the Attorney- General. Which means that the person can come from either private practice or from the Attorney-General's Office. That was what they said.
Mr Speaker, public procurement has to do with Government buying goods, works and consulting services. It deals with Government and the lawyer or the attorney for the State is the Attorney-General. So, it is in the right direction that the framers of the law wanted to restrict it, to the Attorney- General's Department. Other than that, we leave the Attorney-General with wide discretion to go outside her institution and bring other attorneys in.
But that is the whole idea.
Mr Speaker, that is why I am saying that when it comes to public procurement, it is not private procurement. It has to do with Government. So, if we want to outsource the services of a Lawyer or bring an external lawyer that is a different arrangement. But to say that the Attorney-General can recommend any lawyer from private practice or any other place to represent her, is not the purpose of the Act.
Are you aware that it is happening now? As we speak, private practitioners are sitting on Procurement Boards. I know a private practitioner who is actively attending Procurement Board meetings at the Korle- Bu Teaching Hospital, who has been appointed by the Hospital.
Mr Speaker, the fact that it is happening does not mean it is --
I am just informing you that it is happening.
It is happening but the fact that it is happening does not mean that, that is how it is supposed to be. In other jurisdictions, public procurement is strictly Government business. The moment a private practitioner comes in, then you are either outsourcing or seeking the services of an external solicitor. I have a problem with us giving the Attorney- General that wide discretion to go outside her office.
Your point is well made.
Mr Speaker, the amendment, as it stands, is in respect of the availability of staff of the Attorney- General's Department to be on all the Tender Committees or Boards. Currently, we have private lawyers who are on that Tender Committee because there are legal issues that come up so their role specifically is to guide the tender committees. Currently, it is private lawyers in many of the deprived areas. You cannot have enough Attorneys. In Accra, Kumasi and perhaps Takoradi and other places, we may have staff there who can do the representation. My problem is about representing the Attorney-General. It should not be “representing the Attorney-General”; it should just be “a lawyer” and perhaps qualify that lawyer by seniority or whatever. But it is encouraging the tender committees to have lawyers on the Tender Committees to advise or guide them in these things. If he is there as a private lawyer, he should not be seen to be representing the Attorney-General. That would be a problem because he is not an employee at the Attorney-General's Department. He can only be there as a lawyer and in his capacity as a lawyer to guide them. I do not agree with the argument that this is public procurement and therefore, no private lawyer should be involved. It should be a lawyer of a certain standing. He should not be said to be representing the Attorney-General because he is not a staff of the Attorney-General's Department.
Mr Speaker, I support Mr Yaw Kyere. As he said, the intent is to have a lawyer from --
Who are you supporting?
Hon Yieleh Chireh, also known as Yaw Kyere. Mr Speaker, ideally, if we had enough staff at the Attorney-General's Department, then we would put them on every Tender Board so that they would represent the Attorney-General's Department on the Legal issues. Practically, we cannot do that so the old language here says “Attorney from the Attorney-General's Office”. Assuming we do not have that one, then there is no lawyer doing that work. They do not go there in their private capacity. The intent is that, if the Attorney-General cannot find a staff from the Department, then they are free to hire a lawyer to represent the Attorney- General's interest as a legal representative of the Attorney-General on a procurement entity. That is the intent.
There are about two or three ideas that are being urged upon Hon Members and we must be clear about that. There is one position of Hon Adwoa Safo, that it is wrong; it should be from the Attorney-General's Office. Hon Yieleh Chireh is of the view that there can be private practitioners but they should not represent the Attorney-General. I am yet to ask him who would appoint them. You are saying that there are private practitioners who should represent the Attorney-General.
Yes. That is the intent of --
So, you disagree with Hon Yieleh Chireh?
No! I am not disagreeing with him.
Hon Yieleh Chireh says they should not represent the Attorney-General.
No! He himself said there is the need for the Attorney- General's Office to be on every tender entity. That is the intent, so, he cannot be --
Hon Yieleh Chireh, we would want to understand your view and see the number of --
Mr Speaker, my view is that, if we had staff and if the Attorney- General's Department was spread all over all the districts and the regions, the preferable thing would have been for them to send a representative from the Office. In view of the fact that we cannot have officers in these places -- Mr Speaker, you were an Attorney- General. You know that nobody wants to be there in those rural areas. So you would not have sufficient number of lawyers in the Attorney-General's Department to represent the Departmet on these committees. Therefore, my point is that, why do we want a lawyer to be on the Tender Committee. Do lawyers have procurement skills? No! The current practice is that, the lawyers are there to guide all of them. In fact, in the case of District Assemblies, you would see one lawyer moving from one District Assembly to another because there are a few of them in the districts. I am talking about the Upper West Region for instance. We have one or two lawyers who are members of the same committee. Mr Speaker, if we would want to do that, we are taking the person because of his legal expertise. He can guide them when they are doing things. Therefore, we cannot say that the Attorney-General should appoint somebody and he should represent the Department so that after the meeting, he goes to brief the Attorney- General. That is where I have a little difference with what Hon Akoto Osei said. What I am saying is that, if we would want to appoint lawyers, know why you would want to appoint them onto these committees. If the Attorney-General gets the lawyers, that is fine. But if the Department cannot get them and there are lawyers practising in the regions, get any lawyer in his own capacity to give legal advice on these committees.
Mr Speaker, these are Government agencies not any other. That is why the Attorney-General's represen- tative, ordinarily, should be there. We are talking about Government procurement not the Attorney-General's procurement. It is preferable for the Government's lawyer to be there in the capacity as Government lawyer for Government procurement. That is why we cannot just say get any other lawyer. They are not going thereontheirown; theyrepresenttheAttorney- General as the Government's lawyer. They are going there as the Attorney-General's representative not because they have the expertise. That is the point. You are missing the whole intent of the new classification.
Mr Speaker, this is an institutional representation and the institution is the Attorney-General's Department. Can we not change the rendition to be “a representative from the Attorney-General's Department”? I believe that would suffice.
If you say “a representative from the Attorney- General's Department”, then you cannot appoint a private practitioner.
Mr Speaker, we can appoint a private lawyer who is a representative from that Department.
It should be “a representative of” not “a representative from”. “A representative from” means he works there. It should be “a representative of”. Ms Safo -- rose --
Hon Adwoa Safo, I will recognise you over and over again. I am reliably informed that you are an expert in that area. I would want you to listen to everybody and I would give you another bite of the cherry.
Mr Speaker, it appears that the proposed amendment has some policy considerations behind it and the suggestions coming from most Hon Members herein assembled, especially from the Hon Member for Dome/ Kwabenya appears to vary the policy behind it. Mr Speaker, my suggestion is that, why do we not throw it back to the Executive to consider the policy and if they feel that there is the need to change, then we can abide by it and insert it in the law as we want.
We are not here to formulate policies for them.
Mr Speaker, the Public Procurement Act deals with public institutions and the representation of the Attorney-General is critical in all these institutions. Now, if the Attorney-General cannot get its own legal officers or lawyers to be on these tender committees, it has to be to appoint somebody to represent the Attorney-General's Department, not just any lawyer. The person is representing the Attorney-General. It is the same thing which happens with the Auditor-General's Department. The Auditor-General is unable to appoint its own auditors to audit all the public institutions in Ghana and therefore, it appoints private practitioners to act on its behalf and report to the Auditor- General. So, I think in this case, we can adopt what the Auditor-General's Department does and then get the appointed lawyers of the Attorney-General's Department to be on the Tender Committee. I thank you, Mr Speaker.
Hon Isaac Osei?
Mr Speaker, when I take the point which was made by Hon W. O. Boafo, I tend to agree with Hon Adwoa Safo's point. As Hon Yieleh Chireh also said, there are only a few lawyers practising in some of the most remote areas of the country especially, in his own region. I think it is very difficult for the same lawyer who probably, represents all the businessmen in the area to be the representative of the Attorney-General in matters of public procurement. I think we should probably, just restrict it to the Attorney-General. It is not every day that, there is a tender anyway so, somebody can attend.
What is your view?
My view on the matter is that, if it is a policy matter, then it should be referred to the Attorney-General, given the comments that we have made that we think that, they should be lawyers or attorneys from the Attorney-General's Department.
Mr Speaker, the amendment that the Committee is proposing says, “a lawyer representing the Attorney-General”. Mr Speaker, we are not setting any limit here that, those lawyers at the Attorney- General's Department should maybe be a Senior State Attorney or Principal State Attorney. We say, a lawyer. So, even the junior officers who are Lawyers could represent the Attorney- General. In that case, the number would be quite substantial to cover the subverted agencies. This amendment is a better rendition. It is only when the number of lawyers available to the Attorney-General is not enough, that is how he or she would go beyond the quantity in-house to go outside and look for the private people. So, we are saying a lawyer, so, junior officers in the Attorney-General's Office also qualify to represent the Office.
Hon Adwoa Safo?
Mr Speaker, having listened to the arguments made by other Hon Members, I think that, if we legislate this way, it is going to be very dangerous. Mr Speaker, we all agree that the Attorney-General's Department has issues with the attrition rate of lawyers. And if the Attorney-General actually needs the services of other lawyers to represent her in procurement proceedings, I believe that, that is strictly an administrative engagement. The Attorney-General can decide that, I have less lawyers or attorneys within and so, I am outsourcing or taking say, Zoya Kyei and Co as external solicitors. Anytime, you can choose a lawyer there to represent me and later come and brief me. In other jurisdictions, in the United States of America, in England, nowhere do we legislate like this. Where you give the Attorney-General an open cheque; you can choose any lawyer. So, what? As and when she or he pleases or as and when she decides your face looks very handsome. So, I do not think that we have to give her that much discretion. I think that, the way the earlier provision was, “An Attorney from the Attorney-General's Department” is good enough. Other
Mr Speaker, I give you an example, we have professionals like quantity surveyors, engineers, architects on Central Tender Board. Many of these people have their private practices. They do their jobs rightly. So, I think what she said is right; provided arrangements can be done on behalf of the Attorney-General, I see nothing wrong with it at all. This is because the reality is that, for instance, at Adaklu, I do not remember a lawyer attending any tender meeting in my district because we just do not have them. So, we should open it up so that, we can have more people participating. So, I do not see anything wrong with what they are talking about.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. What I find wrong is that, you said, Attorney-General. If you said a lawyer representing the Attorney-General's Department, it is different. That was one of the issues Hon Adwoa Safo raised. Why should it be the Attorney- General? It should be at least, the Attorney-General's Department. When the Hon Chairman of the Committee was speaking, he was speaking to the effect that, it should be open to even junior lawyers in the Attorney-General's Department. But how it has been couched, that is not what it means. So, Mr Speaker, maybe, the Committee should speak to us better.
Why should it be the Attorney-General's Department?
Mr Speaker, public procurement cannot be done by private people like that. I am just giving an example, you go to Upper East and there are only two lawyers who are available in Upper East. They represent almost every private entity or contractor or businessman in Upper East. Now, the Attorney-General, that we did not even talk about, he should make sure --
That is what I am asking. One of your qualms is that, they said, Attorney-General but they should have rather said the Attorney- General's Department. And I am asking you why?
Mr Speaker, I said so because the Hon Chairman of the Committee, those that brought the amendment said they wanted even junior members of the Attorney-General's Department to able to represent the Department. That is what he just said.
The Attorney-General is a constitutional position under article 88. So, when they say, a representative of the Attorney- General, I do not see why you think that, the word, ‘Department', must be added.
Mr Speaker, the way the law itself was --
No! He has not finished, so, I will not recognise you. Let him finish.
Mr Speaker, the Attorney-General is different from the Attorney-General's Department. One is an individual, a person so named. Another is an office with --
Attorney- General is an Office, it is not a person. It is a constitutional Office.
Yes, it is a constitutional office and a person can be an office in the Constitution.
Hon Bagbin, this is good for the Constitutional Law students. When they say the Attorney-General in law, are they referring to a person or they are referring to an office?
Mr Speaker, clearly, they are referring to the office and not the person.
That is what I said; the amendment, as couched, refers to the person. In what way? “The Attorney- General”; the words used here “the” -- [interruption]-- If you say; “Attorney- General”, I can understand that it is an office, but if you say “the Attorney- General”, I do not think that there are two Attorney-Generals in this country.
When I was the Attorney-General, I was taken to court for contempt. The argument of the lawyer who took me to court was that a judgment had been given against the Attorney-General's Office for the payment of compensation based on unlawful dismissal. I had refused to follow the order or pay the compensation to the person who had been wrongfully dismissed; so, he brought contempt against me as a person. One of the questions the judge asked him was, “so, if I order that the Attorney-General, Mr Joe Ghartey be committed for contempt and on the way to Nsawam Prisons the President reshuffles and makes you the Attorney- General, does that mean that they would have to bring Mr Joe Ghartey back and then put you in for contempt?” Therefore, it is an office. “The”, “an”, “is”, “where” refers to an office. That is why the courts have always maintained the view that when you see “Attorney- General”, it is an office you are describing. I would not engage in that discussion or argument, however; please, continue.
Mr Speaker, we must understand the Hon Chairman's amendment. If we do not understand the amendment, we would just argue and at the end of the day -- There are several lawyers employed by the State who work in the Attorney-General's Department. The whole amendment is that we have subvented agencies that may find themselves in the districts or regions and the fear was that we might not have enough lawyers from that office to represent the Attorney-General every time. So, we seek to give the Attorney- General the laxity to get additional lawyers outside that Department to represent him or that Department. That is basically what it is about.They could pick lawyers from the Department or from outside the Department to represent them. That is exactly what they are trying to do. If we do not understand it that way, we would just pick at each other and have problems. I do not see why we must have that problem because if we do not have an Attorney-General's lawyer --
Mr Speaker, I still maintain that position. We have had situations where the Attorney-General had to represent Ghana in an international arbitration and sometimes he or she would solicit the services of lawyers outside Ghana. When they go as a team, they go in the name of Ghana.
When the Attorney-General represent the country outside, under what law does the Attorney-General act?
No! It is the Constitution that gives the Attorney- General that authority.
Yes, that gives her the authority constitutionally.
This is because the Attorney-General is the principal legal advisor to Government. Article 88 (5) says that: “The Attorney-General shall be responsible for the institution and conduct of all civil cases on behalf of the State…” You have said that even though the Constitution mentions all civil cases, the Attorney-General appoints other people. It is not necessary for us to put it that way. I agree with you.
Very well. That is my view, Mr Speaker.
You have said that article 88 (5) of the Constitution says that; “The Attorney-General shall be responsible for the institution and conduct of all civil cases on behalf of the State; and all civil proceedings against the State shall be instituted against the Attorney-General as defendant.” The first part, is about when the Attorney-General goes abroad”, even though the Constitution states that the Attorney-General is in charge of all civil cases, the Attorney-General can appoint somebody, an external solicitor abroad or even in Ghana. So, you do not need to legislate it for that to happen.
Very well. That is so, Mr Speaker.
So, why do you not say that?When you say attorney from the Attorney-General's office, if he or she appoints somebody from outside, can somebody not say that it is against the law? Why do you not say that the Attorney-General or his or her representative.
Very well, a representative of the Attorney-General.
A representative of the Attorney-General?
Yes, Mr Speaker.
But that is the amendment.
No! Mr Speaker, they said a lawyer.
Of course, they cannot appoint a doctor, it has to be a lawyer.
We have moved on-- [Laughter] -- So, the Hon Chairman has changed it. Very well, that should stand, Mr Speaker.
What have we agreed upon, Madam Expert?
The representative of the Attorney-General. I am told that the Hon Chairman has moved from the lawyer business to that and I think -- Chairman of the Committee?
The Chairman of the Committee is engaged in a serious discussion.
I would like to tell the Hon Chairman what I said to Mr Speaker. I said that we moved from “a lawyer representing the Attorney-General” to “a representative of the Attorney-General”. Is that where we stand now?
What is the difference? The use of the word “lawyer” is because we want somebody with a legal brain to advise in procurement contracts. So, if you say a representative of the Attorney- General, it could be a labourer from the Attorney-General who has no legal knowledge to advise the Committee.
Mr Speaker, I just alluded to Hon Avedzi's statement that anybody at all could represent the Attorney-General. That is all I tried to say, that anybody at all could represent the Attorney-General. I think he was wrong there because no person can represent the Attorney-General, when he is not a legal person; especially, when he is going to work as a legal representative of the Attorney-General.
He says that by necessary implication, a representative of the Attorney-General is a lawyer. Hon Chairman of the Finance Committee, you said that you would do one page but we have not finished one clause.
Mr Speaker, this runs through the rest of them so once we clear this one, the others would move fast.
I would recognise the Hon Dr Ato Arthur and I would also recognise the Hon Deputy Chief Whip from that side.
Mr Speaker, if we need a lawyer, we should say we need a lawyer. If we say a representative of the Attorney-General, to me, if the Attorney-General asks an engineer to represent him or her, he or she would be a representative of the Attorney-General all right. Arepresentative of the Attorney- General who might not necessarily be a lawyer.
We have said all along that the policy is to have a legal representative of the Attorney-General on all committees. I just want to give you information that we said “legal representation from the Attorney-General on all public entities”.
Thank you very much. My senior man, I have been here
So, you prefer the word “legal” -- A legal representative -- Thank you very much. Yes, Hon Member? I have recognised you.
Mr Speaker, I am not a lawyer, but I know the embodiment. I am sure it is for a very good reason that the Attorney-General's Office requires that a lawyer be made the Hon Minister for Justice and Attorney-General. Therefore, anybody who would represent the Attorney-General must also carry some legal -- [Interruption.]. It is the office that is being represented. The law says “Attorney-General's repre- sentative”. It is not the Attorney-General in person. He or she can decide, but it is the Office. Mr Speaker, so let us go to the Constitution and look at what is there-- [Interruption] -- It cannot be; it is not in his person. It is the Office.
On a point of order. Mr Speaker, I would just want to find out from my Hon Friend, the former Hon Deputy Minister, if we have an Attorney- General who decides to nominate an engineer or a chartered accountant to represent him and that case goes to the courts, for example, what does he think in deciding, the judge would do looking at the face of the law?
But thankfully, the judges do not look at the face of the law. Hon Bagbin is quietly listening to all of you. I would give him an opportunity to speak to you. Hon Member for Tema West?
Mr Speaker, I think it is clear what the letter and spirit of this Bill is about. But for clarity and to put everybody's mind at rest, the word “lawyer” should just be put in. Although I think it is implicit, it is better. It makes everybody feel comfortable. Obviously, I do not see the Attorney- General asking an engineer or any other professional to represent him or her. When we look at the policy that is being put up, we are looking for lawyers to be there; but they do not have enough. Let us just put “lawyer” and let everybody be at peace.
Thank you. I think that with that calm voice, I would just take Hon Bagbin and put the Question.
Mr Speaker, the sense of the House is very clear. The problem is how to draft it to reflect that sense. I think it is proper we just do not say “attorney” or “lawyer”. If we should be specific, we should say “state Attorney”, which means that assistants are not qualified; from “State Attorney”. Mr Speaker, then we should also talk about lawyers of good standing. It is not all lawyers that effectively represent the chief legal adviser to the Government. So, we should talk about a Member of the Bar Association of good standing and not just a “lawyer”.
Not less than how many years at the Bar?
Mr Speaker, not just any member. The member should be of good standing.
Please, would you put a number of years or would you not? It should not be less than three years.
Mr Speaker, because I said State Attorney, that means it is standard.
So, it is not less than three years.
Mr Speaker, not less than three years. This is because if one is less than three years, one cannot be --
You are disagreeing that their point --
Mr Speaker, I do not think Assistant State Attorneys have sufficient legal practice to be able to advise such bodies.
What do you think about non-members of the Attorney-General's Office? Should they be appointed? The argument here is that Hon members are saying that we should not just appoint lawyers from the Attorney- General's Office. We can also appoint private practitioners.
Mr Speaker, that was why I said”or a Member of the Bar Association of good standing”.
Amember of the Bar Association can be of good standing when he is one year or one day at the Bar. So, if your intention is a certain experience, why do you not put “not less than three years” or something else?
Mr Speaker, if so, then it would be not less than five years. Three years is still completing -- Mr Speaker, by the practice that I adopted in my chambers, by three years old, we still pay them as part of a junior member of the chambers. It is after three years that they mature to handle cases on their own.
Mr Speaker, while I agree with my Hon Majority Leader, there can be a situation where a lawyer can be less than five years, but very well-versed in the Procurement Law. Mr Speaker, an example is Hon Adwoa Safo. She went in to do her masters in that particular field. By the time she came back, even in her first and second year, she was all right for one to take her out on meetings. She was even better than some lawyers. So, I do not know whether it is the matter of years that determines. We have lawyers in the second and the third year, who are not up to that level, who go to the Supreme Court and win cases against others. So, I do not know whether it is the number of years, but the Attorney-General should get lawyers that they believe are experienced in the field. Perhaps, that qualification. Mr Speaker, who is in good standing? Is it paying of dues? I can pay my dues, but it does not mean that I understand the Procurement Law. I think we should look at that.
Mr Speaker, there is a difference between theory and practice. One can have a first class in law; that is theory, but at practice, he or she could be the worst practitioner.
I will plead with the Hon Majority Leader to reconsider the five years. You know, it is because of —
Mr Speaker, you know that one must have seven years of experience at the Bar before the person is allowed to practice on his or her own.
It is now ten years.
Now, they have increased it to ten years. And I am just saying five years — [Interruption] — Five years is sufficient. As a senior and five years old in my Chambers, I have confidence to give him a brief to go to court and handle a case on my behalf, but not below five years.
So, if you agree, please, give us a new rendition. It is basically the same as: let us get a new rendition.
Mr Speaker, my proposal is; “A State Attorney”. This is because, by the experience, one cannot get to that position when the person is less than five years at the Bar. Sometimes it is even eight, nine and ten years before a person becomes State Attorney, or “A member of the Bar Association” — I added, “of good standing” — “of not less than five years”.
So, it should be: “A representative of the Attorney- General who shall be an Attorney and not below the rank of State Attorney”, or “a member of the Ghana Bar Association”. We have to draft it a little better. The person we are describing is going to represent the Attorney-General. So how do we draft it? Look at item (iii) on page 10.
Mr Speaker, if we could say: “A representative of the Attorney- General of not less than five years standing”.
Is that all?
Mr Speaker, that is all — [Interruption.] Mr Speaker, there are different types of practice. Where we are now, we are doing legislative law and that is part of practice. We have some in the banks and they do not go to court. They are not part of advocacy; those who litigate in court. And we have some who even have Chambers but they are corporate lawyers, and there are some who are investment lawyers, some are solicitors et cetera and they are all practising law, like dentists, oncologists —
Mr Speaker, should we add ‘be a private practitioner'. I think the person cannot be a Member of Parliament — [Interruption] —though we are allowed to do some private work. So that it does not go and fall in that ambit. I think we should be clear. It cannot be a Member of Parliament. We are allowed to do some work.
A Member of Parliament who wants to take up, or is appointed to an office of profit appears before the Committee and the Committee will not allow the person if they think that there would be a conflict of interest.
Mr Speaker, but what I am saying is that, with this particular law, is it all right if it is a Member of Parliament who is a lawyer? Really? Mr Speaker, I think a Member of Parliament should not be —
Mr Speaker, I just want to seek clarification. Are we sticking to the word “attorney” or “a representative of the Attorney-General”?
Who is not less than five years at the Bar and of good standing —
Mr Speaker, do we add, “at the Bar” or “five years” standing of any professional who is representing the Attorney-General? Mr Speaker, a legal representative? Mr Speaker, a representative, just as the argument has earlier been raised on the Floor. So is it five years at the Bar? Then it is qualified. Then we do not need the “legal”. I am all right.
Mr Speaker, I am all right with the amendment.
Mr Speaker, I have a question. When the Hon Majority Leader was speaking, he said, “five years at the Bar and of good standing”. Do all members have to belong to the Ghana Bar Association? Is it compulsory?
Mr Speaker, so I cannot practise if I am not a Member of the Ghana Bar Association?
The Bar is where the lawyers stand. There is a Bench and there is a Bar.
Mr Speaker, he said Bar Association and I just wanted to be sure.
Mr Speaker, all lawyers are called to the Bar. That is the first and so the person is a Member of the Bar and they form an Association. And from there, some opt to join the Bench. And so they seize to be Members of the Bar. Apart from that, all the rest are Members of the Bar. It is not like in the United Kingdom (UK) where there is separation.
Thank you. I will put the Question. The amendment proposed by the Hon Majority Leader is: “A representative of the Attorney- General of not less than five years at the Bar”. Question put and amendment agreed to.
Hon Members, we will now move on to the amendment advertised as (iv).
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, Schedule 1B 4 -- Column under “Regional Hospitals”, seventh row, delete “Attorney from the Attorney-General's Office”, and insert the following: “A Lawyer representing the Attorney-General”. Mr Speaker, this amendment will follow the same line. This is because they are all at the Regional level.
Hon Agbesi, do you have a point of order?
Mr Speaker, it is proper to thank Hon Members for their endurance. They have done very well; from about 10.00 a.m. till this time. It would not be good to take too much of their liberties, and I think that we need to thank you for also keeping Hon Members really alert. This is because of the way you handled the seat. We can see that in spite of the time, Hon Members are still actively participating, but at least, the spirit may be willing but the body is weak and needs a rest. Mr Speaker, and so, with your kind permission, may I plead that Hon Members take a bow and have a rest. I think that I do not need to move the Motion. I can see that we are entirely in your hands.
That brings us to the end of Consideration Stage of the Public Procurement (Amendment) Bill, 2015 for today. Hon Majority Leader, I thank you. I promised you a ruling yesterday and I have not forgotten. I have finished the ruling and I am waiting for some information from the Clerks-at-the-Table. When the ruling comes, then we all look at it. So, when I see you in your chair and I am also in the Chair, then I will deliver my ruling. Hon Members, thank you. The House is adjourned till tomorrow at 10.00 o'clock in the morning.
The House was adjourned at 8.06 p.m. till Thursday, 17th March, 2016 at 10.00 a.m.