VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS AND THE OFFICIAL REPORT
Hon Members, Correction of the Votes and Proceedings of Wednesday, 8th July, 2015.
Mr Speaker, I notice that for yesterday, the records that we have, which are contained in the Votes and Proceedings are to the effect that we have 188 Hon Members in attendance. Mr Speaker, I believe we must be very factual about this. Otherwise, we encourage people to stay away. On this list, if one goes through it, we realise that there were people who have been marked as being present yesterday who were not in the Chamber. If you do that you allow people to stay away from this House. If they are not here, they should be marked absent, or absent with permission if they so requested and were approved by Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, this is not acceptable and whoever has been doing this should be held to account.We cannot proceed this way; it is incorrect.
Hon Members, I will hear from the Hon Deputy Majority Leader. I am not going to take any debate on this matter.
Mr Speaker, if the Hon Minority Leader raises this matter, then it is a serious one. I do not have any reason to say it is true or otherwise. But this coming from the Hon Minority Leader raises a serious concern and I believe that we must look into it; that there are Hon Members absent and yet they are marked present. Mr Speaker, I cannot say much but the matter coming from the Hon Minority Leader is serious and we must take it very seriously.
Hon Members, the problem is to find a more verifiable mechanism for recording the attendance of Hon Members. We have a problem in this House when a former Speaker ruled that the signing of the register in the Mails Room was not a requirement to determine the number of Hon Members who attended upon the House on a particular day. What the Clerks-at-the-Table do now, is to look round and see the number of people who are in the Chamber and record them. They are also human beings and in the process they may make mistakes. So, I will urge Leadership to let us find a way. If we have to find a way to restore the register or a way of putting a certain electronic mechanism in place, so that when you come, you clock-in to indicate that you have entered the Chamber, let us do so. We have to put it in place. But so long as that ruling is there and has not been overturned by all the Speakers who followed the Rt Hon Speaker of the Third Republic on this matter, we will be having challenges and problems. I entirely agree with the Hon Minority Leader that if Hon Members are not here, they should be able to indicate that they are not here and be marked absent accordingly. But at the same time, we are correcting the Votes and Proceedings and the Hon Minority Leader did not mention the name of any particular person who is on the list. So I do not want us to go into this matter. We need to address this problem once and for all. It keeps on haunting this House; that ruling continues to haunt this House and so, we have to find a way. Leadership, can you take this matter up and liaise with the Information Communication Technology (ICT) Department and let us see whether we can have an electronic system of recording the attendance of Hon Members, so that we do not leave it to the Clerks-at-the- Table? I have a way, I am the only person who can defend the Clerks-at-the-Table here because they do not have audience on the floor of the House. I am referring this matter to the Leadership to handle and brief me; let us see what scientific system we can put in place to record the attendance of Hon Members in the House. Page 7…32. Hon Members, the Votes and Proceedings of Wednesday, 8th July 2015 is adopted as the true record of proceedings. We do not have any Official Report today for correction. We are also not taking Statements so we would move to Commencement of Public Business. Hon Deputy Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, item number 4 can be stood down now for us to proceed to item 6 -- Motion.
Very well. Hon Members, Presentation of Papers -- item number 4. But are the Papers ready to be laid? Hon Deputy Majority Leader, are the Papers ready to be laid?
Mr Speaker, the Chairman is informing me that the Papers are not ready. Mr Speaker, I am informed that the Papers are ready to be laid, but we could take the other one before we come back to the laying of the Papers.
Hon Members, by the Hon Minister for Finance -- item number 4 (a) (i). Hon Deputy Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, with your permission, we would like the Hon Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration to lay the Paper on behalf of the Hon Minister for Finance.
Hon Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration? So, is she laying all the Papers on behalf of the Hon Finance Minister? I want to be sure. Very well. We start with item number 4 a) (i).
None Yes, Hon Member for Manhyia South?
Hon Member for Manhyia South, where have you been?
Mr Speaker, when we rise, I would come and see you in chambers.
Hon Deputy Majority Leader, are we asking the Hon Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration to lay the Papers on behalf of the Minister for Finance?
Yes, but Mr Speaker, with respect to what my Hon Colleague has said, I would say these are Government Businesses which pass through Cabinet and the Hon Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration is a senior member of the Cabinet and she knows everything about them.
Hon Members, the Hon Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration on behalf of the Hon Minister for Finance -- 4 (a) (i).
Mr Speaker, when the application was made to the Chair, I thought that you were going to seek the indulgence of us.
That was why I called the Hon Member for Manhyia South.
Mr Speaker, did you recognise him as the Leader of the Minority when the Minority Leader was sitting down? [Laughter.] Is that the case?
On this occasion, you never objected. He was by your side and was talking, but you never objected to him representing your side. But on a more serious note, the reason I referred the matter to the Deputy Majority Leader was because I know that you have a certain principle that if there is a Cabinet Minister in the House, then the Cabinet Minister should be made to lay the Paper. It was on that basis that I know that from your position, you would not take any objection to the Hon Minister for Foreign Affairs laying the Paper on behalf of the Hon Minister for Finance. That was why I allowed it. I came back and saw the Hon Deputy Minister for Finance entering the Chamber. That was why I asked the Deputy Majority Leader for the second time, whether the Hon Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Intergration would be laying the Paper, or in view of the fact that the Deputy Minister for Finance is in the Chamber he would change his mind. But he said no, we should allow the Hon Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Intergration to lay the Paper on behalf of the Hon Minister for Finance. That is in tune with your philosophical inclinations of who lays a Paper and who does not lay a Paper.
Mr Speaker, if the Chair can behave like an “octopus paal” and dig into my conscience and my mind and arrive at conclusions, then who am I, a mortal being, to challenge same? Mr Speaker, I know that you are very long -sighted. You are not short-sighted at all. So, if you have arrived at such conclusions, I would not challenge you.
But Hon Minority Leader, do you have any objection to the Hon Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration laying the Paper on behalf of the Finance Minister?
Mr Speaker, but even if I had, after the fact, what could be done? But as a matter of principle as you alluded to, I have always insisted that if a Cabinet Minister is required to do something in this House and is not available, then the better arrangement would be to allow another Cabinet Minister to hold the portfolio for and on behalf of the Colleague who is absent. So, in that regard, I would not have had any problem. I was only asking that you should have sought the indulgence of us before allowing the Hon Minister to do what she did. Otherwise, I have no position at all.
Even if by so doing, it is consistent with your position that you have canvassed on the floor of the House all these years?
Mr Speaker, I would have been very consistent, if you had sought my opinion.
Very well. The next time I see the Hon Member for Manhyia South sitting by your side, I would advise myself. Hon Members, we are laying Papers. Hon Member for Subin?
Mr Speaker, now that the Hon Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Intergration has been mandated to lay these Papers, what do we do with the presence of the Hon Minister for Finance now in the building? Is he now going to just observe or he would take over the duty that he is mandated to do?
Hon Members, now that the substantive Minister has come, we would continue with the substantive Minister.
Hon Members, item number 4 (a )(ii) -- by the Minister for Finance. By the Minister for Finance -- (ii) Indemnity Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Ghana and the International Development Association (IDA) for a Policy-based Guarantee of four hundred million United States dollars (US$400 million) in respect of the First Macro- economic Stability for Competi- tiveness and Growth Develop- ment Policy Financing. Referred to the Finance Committee. By the Minister for Finance: (b) Loan Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Ghana and the African Develop- ment Fund for an amount equivalent to forty million Units of Accounts (UA40,000,000 [equivalent to US$56.80 million] to support the Public Financial Management and Private Sector Competitiveness Support Programme -- Phase I (PFMPSCSP). (c) Loan Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Ghana and Kreditanstalt fur Wiederaufbau (KfW), Frankfurt am Main for an amount of seventeen million, three hundred and ten thousand Euros (€17,310,000) to co-finance Multi-donor Budget Support (MDBS) Programme. (d) Financing Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Ghana and the International Development Association (IDA) for an amount equivalent to thirty-two million, seven hundred thousand Special Drawing R i g h t s ( S D R 3 2 , 7 0 0 , 0 0 0 [equivalent to US$45 million]) to support the Public Financial Management Reform Project. (e) (i) Terms of a Receivables- backed Trade Finance Facility between Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) and a Consortium of Banks and Financial Institu- tions, with the Government of the Republic of Ghana as Guarantor, for an amount of US$1,800,000,000.00 for the purchase of cocoa beans in Ghana for the 2015/2016 Crop Season. (ii) Request for waiver of stamp duty amounting to US$18,000,000.00 on an Offshore Syndicated Receiv- ables-backed Trade Finance Facility of US$1,800,000,000.00 for cocoa purchases by Ghana Cocoa Board for the year 2015/2016 crop season. Referred to the Finance Committee.
Item number 6, Hon Deputy Majority Leader, is that correct?
Yes, item number 6 Mr Speaker.
Item number 6, Hon Members, Hon Chairman of Public Accounts Committee?
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that this Honourable House adopts the Report of the Public Accounts Committee on the Report of the Auditor- General on the Public Accounts of Ghana (Public Boards, Corporations and other Statutory Institutions) for the years ended 31st December 2010 and 2011. Introduction The Reports of the Auditor-General on the Public Accounts of Ghana -- Public Boards, Corporations and other Statutory Institutions for the years ended 31st December 2010 and 2011 were laid in Parliament on Tuesday, 4th June, 2013 and Thursday, 18th July, 2013 respectively in accordance with article 187(2) of the 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana. Pursuant to Order 165 (2) of the Standing Orders of the Parliament of Ghana, the Reports were referred to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) for consideration and report. Procedure The Committee, during its considera- tion of the Reports, invited representatives of Public Boards, Corporations and Statutory Institutions cited by the Auditor-General for significant irre- gularities to appear before it as witnesses to respond to the issues raised in the Auditor-General's Reports. In all, the Committee met with officials of fifty-five (55) Public Boards, Corporations and Statutory Institutions. The teams from the Public Boards, Corporations and Statutory Institutions were led by their respective Hon Ministers. On appearing before the Committee, the witnesses subscribed to the oath of a witness and answered questions relating to the object and functions of their organisations, and on the issues raised in the Auditor-General's Reports. Twenty-six (26) Institutions out of the fifty-one (51) the Committee met with had already dealt with the queries raised by the Auditor-General. Thus, the Com- mittee's Report covers the under-listed Public Boards, Corporations and Statutory Institutions whose queries were outstanding at the time of the Committee's sittings: i. Ghana Cocoa Board. ii. Cocoa Marketing Company (Ghana) Limited. iii. Social Security and National Insurance Trust. iv. Electricity Company of Ghana. v. National Electrification Scheme. vi. National Petroleum Authority. vii.Ghana Trade Fair Company. viii. Ghana Standards Authority. ix. School of Public Health, College of Health Sciences, University of Ghana. x. School of Nursing, College of Health Sciences, University of Ghana. xi. Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research. xii. University of Professional Studies. xiii.Accra Polytechnic. xiv.University of Mines and Techno- logy. xv. University of Cape Coast. xvi. National Board for Professional and Technician Examination.
The Polytechnic should also be more diligent in future employment of persons to forestall such recurrence. University of Mines and Technology i. Staff Loans and Advances -- GH¢96,736.00 The Committee noted that staff loan advances granted by the University increased from GH¢60,026.00 at the end of 2009 to GH¢96,736.00 at the end of 2010. The Vice Chancellor explained to the Committee that Tarkwa, where the University is located, is a mining town where accommodation is expensive and difficult to come by, and given that the University is unable to provide accommodation for all the staff in accordance with the “Conditions of Service” of the University, it has instituted a policy to assist staff who do not gain official accommodation with some advances to rent private accommodation. The Committee however recommends that the University of Mines and Technology should strive to progressively build its own accommodation for staff in order to cut down on the huge advances granted continuously to staff. That notwithstanding, the management of the University should ensure that all outstanding staff loans and advances are recovered. ii. Operation of FM Station The audit disclosed that the University operated a Frequency Modulation (FM) Station called Dynamite FM. However, the operational guidelines of the FM station could not be verified, neither were the transactions of the station kept by the University. Furthermore, the transactions of the Station were not included in the financial statement of the University. The Vice Chancellor informed the Committee that the radio station was established by the Students Represen- tative Council as a service to the Tarkwa Municipality in 1997. As a students' project, the University did not consider it appropriate to include the transactions of the radio station in its Financial Statements. However, following the audit, the University has taken over the control of the Station and has constituted the FM Management Board. Operational Guide- lines for the Station have also been put in place. Furthermore, an Accounts Officer from the Finance Office of the University has been attached to the Station to ensure that transactions of the FM Station are incorporated in the main University's Financial Statements. Thus, the Financial Statements of the University for years 2011 and 2012 included the transactions of the FM Station. The Committee commends Manage- ment of the University for measures taken to implement the Auditor-General's recommendations and urges them to ensure that the operations of the FM Station are carried out efficiently. University of Cape Coast (UCC) i. Debtors (Blocks Section) -- GH¢22,438.20 The Committee noted that GH¢22,438.20 worth of building blocks produced during year 2010 were sold on credit but none of the debts had been collected as at September, 2011. The Auditor-General attributed the lapse to the failure on the part of management of the University of Cape Coast to put in place a credit sales policy. The Committee was informed by the Vice- Chancellor of the University that subsequent to the audit, the entire GH¢22,438.20 had been collected from the debtors. Given that such a situation could put the University into financial distress, the Committee recommends that the University should put in place a Credit Sales Policy to ensure that future buyers are properly assessed before they are granted credit. ii. Debtors (Primary School) -- GH¢10,000.00 The Committee noted that Interlocking Construction Limited owed the University's Primary School an amount of GH¢10,000.00 since year 2009. According to the Auditor-General, the amount has been outstanding due to apathy on the part of Management of the University to recover the debt. The Vice Chancellor informed the Committee that the debt owed the Primary School was an advance payment granted to the Contractor for works on the rehabilitation of the UCC Primary School building under the GETFund support project. Unfortunately, the project has been suspended due to lack of funds. Management of the University has therefore agreed to set off the debt against the retention fee amounting to GH¢ 27,570.31 to be paid to the Contractor. The Committee urges Management of the University to follow through with its arrangement to ensure that the amount is recovered from the Contractor. National Board for Professional and Technician Examination i. Unauthorised and Overpayment of Allowances -- GH¢9,844.50 The Committee observed that a payroll examination conducted as part of the audit disclosed that three (3) officers of the National Board for Professional and Technician Examination (NABPTEX) were paid unauthorised allowances totaling GH¢4,830.30. This comprised Owner OccupierAllowance of GH¢1,938.30 and Special Allowance of GH¢2,892.00 which were not part of NABPTEX's Conditions of Service. At the instance of the Auditors, the Owner Occupier Allowance of GH¢375.00 paid to one of the officers was recovered leaving an outstanding balance of GH¢4,455.30. The Committee further observed that two officers were overpaid Responsi-bility and Entertainment Allowances to the tune of GH¢5,389.20. Officials of NABPTEX informed the Committee that indeed, the Owner Occupier and Special Allowance paid to the officers were not part of NABPTEX's Conditions of Service. Again, the overpayment of Responsibility and Entertainment Allowance resulted from the migration of the NABPTEX staff to the Government mechanised payroll by the Controller and Accountant-General's Department. The Committee recommends that Management of NABPTEX should take appropriate measures to recover the monies wrongfully paid to these officers and pay them into Government chest. ii. Payment of Unapproved Extra Duty Allowance -- GH¢2,907.00 Contrary to section 9 of the NABPTEX Act, 1994 (Act 492) which provides that Board Members are to be paid allowances as determined by the Minister for Education in consultation with the Minister for Finance, allowances totaling GH¢2,907.00 were paid to four (4) Board Members as extra duty allowance in December 2010. This allowance was not inclusive of the allowances to be paid to the Board Members. The Committee was informed by Management of NABPTEX that the amount of GH¢2,907.00 had been refunded by the affected persons. Indeed, the failure by Management to adhere to section 9 of Act 492 leaves much to be desired. In the opinion of the Committee, payment of unbudgeted expenditure has the tendency of adversely affecting the achievement of planned programmes of the Board. The Committee therefore recommends that in future, the Board should seek approval from the Minister for Education before the payment of any special allowances to its Members. Ghana Science Association Unexplained Bank Credit -- GH¢523,338.53 Contrary to Regulation 165 of the Financial Administration Regulations, 2004 (L.I. 1802), which requires all releases of funds to be made in accordance with warrants issued by the Hon. Minister for Finance, the Committee noted that a total amount of GH¢523,338.53 was transferred into the Ghana Science Association's bank account numbered 01256-600672-12, at the Bank of Ghana between August 2009 and December 2010, by the Controller and Accountant-General's Department (CAGD) without any supporting warrants. Even though management of the Association wrote two letters dated 19th April, 2010 and 27th April, 2010 to the Bank of Ghana and the CAGD, this anomaly was still not rectified. The National Council on Tertiary Education (NCTE), the body with oversight responsibility over the Association, subsequently requested the Association by letter referenced NC/H.3/ Sf.1/v.2 and dated 15th December, 2010, to transfer an amount of GH¢75,000.00 out of the GH¢523,338.53 into the NCTE's bank account for the payment of salaries of staff of NCTE's London office. The Association, in compliance with the said request, paid the amount of GH¢75,000.00 to NCTE on 5th April, 2011, leaving a balance of GH¢448,338.53. The Committee was informed by officials of the Ghana Science Association that subsequent to the audit, the remaining amount of GH¢448,338.53 has been transferred back to government chest. The Committee attributes the occurrence of the anomaly due to failure on the part of the CAGD to act in accordance with Regulation 165 of the Financial Administration Regulations, 2004 (L.I. 1802). The Committee therefore recommends that the Controller and Accountant- General should exercise effective supervision over staff of the CAGD to ensure that all officers perform their duties with professionalism and due diligence. Abibigroma Theatre Company i. Unpresented Payment Vouchers -- GH¢2,170.73 Contrary to Regulation 262 of the Financial Administration Regulations, 2004 (L.I. 1802), which requires Heads of Departments to ensure that financial and accounting records are properly preserved, the Committee noted that the Abibigroma Theatre Company could not produce six payment vouchers amounting to GH¢2,170.73 for audit. Officials of Abibigroma Theatre Company informed the Committee that the payment vouchers were not available for audit because the Accounts Officer was not at post during the audit. Subsequent to the audit however, the payment vouchers in question have been submitted and verified by the Auditors. It came up during the Committee's deliberations that Abibigroma Theatre Company is understaffed, and to augment the staff strength of the Company, the Hon Minister for Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts has given a directive for a staff audit of the Company to be conducted. In this regard, the Committee recommends that the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts should as a matter of urgency, ensure that the staff needs of Abibigroma Theatre Company are met. The Committee further recom- mends that Management of the Company should ensure that the Accounts Officer is sanctioned appropriately. ii. Items not routed through Stores -- GH¢3,779.60 It was noted by the Committee that procurement transactions worth GH¢3,779.60 covering vehicle tyres and batteries were not properly documented to provide the needed audit trail on the acquisition and use of the items, while replaced unserviceable tyres and batteries could not be produced for audit inspection. Officials of the Company indicated that the irregularity occurred because the Company had no Storekeeper. Following the audit however, the Company has engaged the services of the National Theatre Storekeeper who has routed the items through stores. Basic value/store books have been acquired and in use by the Company. Management has also taken custody of all the unserviceable items under review and have them verified by the Auditors. The Committee recommends that the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts should ensure that immediate steps are taken to engage a permanent Storekeeper for the Company. Copyright Office i. Improper Management of Fuel Purchased -- GH¢10,300.00 The Committee noted that there were inadequate controls over fuel management. This was because there was no segregation of duties in the purchase, receipt and issuance of coupons. Contrary to chapter 1604 of the Stores Regulations, 1984, fuel coupons amounting to GH¢10,300.00 issued to drivers were not recorded in the appropriate log books. Officials of the Copyright Office informed the Committee that the Office has now provided all vehicles with log books for the entering of coupons issued. Coupon issue book is also reconciled with fuel log book regularly. Failure to ensure that fuel coupons issued are recorded in the appropriate log books would render it difficult for the Transport Officer to ascertain whether the fuel coupons issued were used for the intended purposes. The Committee therefore recommends that the Management of the Copyright Office should put in place, an effective segregation of duties in the acquisition and issuance of fuel coupons. Furthermore, all drivers should be trained to record fuel received in their log books.
Legal Aid Scheme i. Comprehensive Legal Aid Programme and Policy Section 5 (a) of the Legal Aid Scheme Act of 1997(Act 542) stipulates that “the Board shall be responsible for developing a comprehensive legal aid programme and policy to be carried out throughout the country”. The Committee however, observed that the said programme and policy had not been developed by the Board of the Legal Aid Scheme. Officials of the Scheme informed the Committee that even though there is no document titled” Comprehensive Legal Aid Programme and Policy”, the Scheme has developed a Strategic Plan for 2009 to 2012. Following, that, a Scheme of Service was developed and approved by the Public Services Commission. A five-year Strategic Plan for 2014 to 2019 was validated by the Board and other stakeholders on the 27th of January, 2014. Furthermore, a Legal Aid Guide comprising a training and operational manual is ready for submission to the Board. The officials indicated that the Scheme is confronted with inadequate funding for its operations. The Committee therefore, recommends that the Ministry of Finance should ensure that the Legal Aid Scheme is provided with the appropriate support for the successful completion and operationalisation of the Legal Aid Guide. ii. Improper Acquittal of Payments -- GH¢3,674.60 The Committee observed that five payments totaling GH¢2,100.00 for hotel accommodation and catering services were not supported by the appropriate receipts and VAT/NHIL invoices. Again, a photocopy of a payment voucher for GH¢500.00 was presented for audit instead of the original. Furthermore, petty cash expenditure amounting to GH¢1,074.60 were without receipts. The Director of the Scheme informed the Committee that the hotel bills arose out of the relocation of the Director from Tamale to Accra where accommodation was not readily available. He further indicated that some receipts covering an amount of GH¢ 1,543.40 in respect of accommodation have been found and have been verified by the Auditors leaving an outstanding balance of GH¢1,056.60 which are being reconciled by the Scheme. Receipts covering the petty cash amount of GH¢1,074.60 has also been found and verified by the Auditors. The Committee considers the above irregularities as a contravention of Regulation 39 (c) of the Financial Adminis- tration Regulations, 2004, and therefore recommends that Management of the Scheme should ensure that proper documentation are presented for the unacquitted payments. The officers should be surcharged with the amount involved if they fail to present proper documentation to acquit the payments. iii. Unaccounted Fuel Purchases -- GH¢3,284.80 The Committee observed that fuel totaling GH¢3,284.80 allegedly purchased for two official vehicles were not recorded in the relevant log books contrary to Regulation 1604 of the Stores Regulation, 1984. This situation made it impossible for the auditors to ascertain whether the fuel was used for official purposes or otherwise. Management of the Scheme conceded to the observation made by the Committee and indicated that the problem was due to loss of some of the log books of the Scheme. However, receipts covering the purchases have been made available and verified by the Auditors. The Committee recommends that the fuel be accounted for and all future purchases should be appropriately recorded in the vehicle log books. Again, all journeys must be properly authorised and approved by responsible officers to help secure the fuel resources of the Scheme. Law Reform Commission i. Non-deduction of Tax from Sitting Allowance -- GH¢286.80 Contrary to section 84 (1) of the Internal Revenue Act, 2000 (Act 592), the Committee noted that the required 10 per cent tax was not withheld from Sitting Allowances amounting to GH¢2,868.00 paid in year 2007 to the Board and Tender Committee Members. This resulted in the loss of GH¢ 286.80 in tax revenue to the State. Management of the Commission indicated that since their attention was drawn to the anomaly by the Auditors, they have consistently been applying the withholding tax to all Board allowances. Nevertheless, Management has been unable to recover the tax due to the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) because the Commission's Board was dissolved prior to the audit. The Committee recommends that Management of the Commission should recover the amount from the payees and remit same to the GRA with interest. Furthermore, Management should ensure that tax laws of the country are strictly adhered to by officials of the Commission. State Housing Company (SHC) Limited i. Seized Bank Accounts -- GH¢8,887.27 The Committee observed that the Head Office of the SHC Limited has three Bank Accounts with the SG-SSB Bank Ghana Limited. However, a confirmation response from the Bank to the Auditors indicated that the SHC Limited has no such accounts with the Bank. The Auditor-General reported that initial explanation from Management pointed to the fact that the accounts were garnished by a law court some few years ago to settle some creditors and the total amount in question was GH¢8,887.27. Thus, it was not clear whether the three accounts still belonged to the SHC Limited. The Committee was informed by the Management of SHC Limited that the SG- SSB closed the accounts without notifying the new Management which took office in 2010. However, Management is still in contact with the Bank to ensure that the amount is recovered. In the opinion of the Committee, if SHC Limited has lost ownership of the three Bank Accounts then the continuous recognition of the balances in the accounts of the Company may lead to material misstatement in its Financial Statements. The Committee therefore urges Management of the SHC Limited to confer with the Court and the Bank to arrive at a conclusion concerning the actual state of the Bank Accounts. If it happens that SHC Limited has lost ownership of the Accounts, the balances should be written off in the books of the Company. ii. Accumulated Balance on Statutory Deductions -- GH¢209,222.77 The Committee noted that outstanding balances of GH¢106,586.42, GH¢34,904.35 and GH¢67,732.00 on statutory deductions for the Eastern, Volta and Northern Regions respectively were not settled. The details are as follows:
Eastern Region Volta Region Northern Region GH¢ GH¢ GH¢ Withholding tax 35,457.80 22,352.35 20,503.00 PAYE 25,117.30 4,774.33 30,220.00 SSF 25,472.47 3,649.35 -- Provident Fund 20,538.85 4,128.32 17,009.00 Total 106,586.42 34,904.34 67,732.00
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion and in so doing, make the following observations. Mr Speaker, I hope by the end of this debate, you will not be bored by the usual lamentations which are characterised with PAC Reports. Mr Speaker, I say so because if you go through the Report, year in year out, the same number of queries and allegations that have been raised in the Report, there seem to be no significant improvement in the number of queries that the auditors report. Mr Speaker, let us look at page 6 of the summary of the significant findings. You would realise the same usual outstanding loan recoveries, cash irregularities, loan irregularities, contract/procurement irregularities, stores irregularities, et cetera. And when you go further you find the reasons the Auditor-General attributed to these irregularities -- Mr Speaker, I would like to take three of them. Lack of supervision; failure of heads of institutions to sanction wrongdoers to serve as deterrent to others; and non- adherence to relevant rules and regula- tions among others. Mr Speaker, according to the Financial Administration Act, when a head of institution fails to sanction an officer who causes financial indiscipline, such head of institution himself should be sanctioned. The auditors told us that failure of heads of institutions to sanction officers is one of the reasons we get these irregularities coming in year-in-year-out. Mr Speaker, what I do not understand is that, these corporations have all the resources to do the right thing. Take COCBOD, VRA and SSNIT. They have all the human and financial resources, all the experts who can stop the wrong things being done. What is the reason why we continue to have these happenings year in year out? I cannot understand it. Maybe, something is wrong some- where and that is why they are not doing things right. Maybe, we are not giving the right signals, maybe, we are not giving the proper punishment to these people to stop all these happenings. Mr Speaker, I am appealing to the House that we need to look at this Report again. I remember the last time we made this Report, you set, a Committee to go through these queries but unfortunately, we still have these irregularities happening. Mr Speaker, you are a founding Member of the PAC and you know all these things, you are familiar with, and you are aware of all these happenings. So, I think that, the House should find a way of punishing or making sure that the laws work to ensure that, we deter people and organisations from repeating all these queries. Otherwise, the work of the Auditor-General would come to no avail. But when you go to the Constitution, the Constitution makes it clear that, the Auditor-General has the right to audit all institutions that the Government has interest in, in fact, majority interest. But during our Sittings, it comes up that some of the corporations do not allow the Auditor-General to conduct the audit and in this case, it looks like Parliament would have to resolve --
Is this part of your recommendations? Have you reported on the comment that you are making in your Report?
Mr Speaker, it is not in this particular Report but it has been happening all the time and I think that, Parliament would need to look at it.
Yes, so, please, leave that area. Leave that issue and continue.
Mr Speaker, what I am trying to say is that, to stop all these lamentations going on, we need to take a drastic measure --
On a point of Order. Mr Speaker, thank you for the permission. Mr Speaker, what is not reported in the Report but said on the floor and what my Hon Colleague has said, if it is true, it is a huge indictment on the Committee's work and for that matter, Parliament. For the Hon Ranking Member to bring to our notice, through the back door, that, some institutions refuse to allow the Auditor-General to audit them though the Constitution allows the Auditor-General to do same, Mr Speaker, it is a dangerous statement. I would plead that, after the Report, all said and done, you would instruct this Committee to bring to the floor all such institutions so that we can bring them to account. Mr Speaker, it is not right for any institution to say that. Whether Government has majority or minority shares does not matter. Once public funds go into anything, the Auditor-General has the right to audit such an account. Mr Speaker, we are in this country --
Hon Member, the Motion before us is to adopt the PAC Report, and that was why when the Hon Member made that point, I asked him whether that point had been captured in their Committee's Report, and the answer was, no. So, that is a different matter to take. Let us adopt this Report, we would do follow up action subsequently.
Thank you Mr Speaker, rightly so.
Mr Speaker, as I was saying, in conclusion, we need to have drastic measures so that the law would take its course, those queries that have been raised, those who are found foul of the law should be dealt with in accordance of the law, to serve as deterrent Otherwise, every day, we would sit here and lament, make the same Report and everything else and at the end of the day, nothing is done. With these few words, I urge my Hon Colleagues to adopt the Repot. Thank you very much. Question proposed.
Thank you Mr Speaker. I beg to contribute to the Motion on the Report of the Auditor-General on the Public Accounts of Ghana Public Boards, Corporations and other Statutory Institutions for the years ended 31st December, 2010/2011. Mr Speaker, I would be brief, just to draw the attention of this House to some of these dangerous developments that, as a country, we need to address. Mr Speaker, if you look at page 6 of the Report, summary of financial irregularities for the periods ended 31st December, 2010/ 2011, all amount are expressed in Ghana Cedis. Mr Speaker, look at outstanding debts/ loans recoverable, cash irregularities, payroll irregularities, contract/procure- ment irregularities, stores irregularities and tax irregularities. If you put them together, a whooping sum of GH¢2.124 billion has not been handled properly.That is what the Report says. Mr Speaker, I think this is a serious thing that this country needs to address. We have many challenges and look, just two years, this country, through our institutions, boards and corporations cannot properly account for a whooping sum of GH¢2.1 billion. This for me, is a serious matter that we need to address. Mr Speaker, when you go through the Report, we have boards, people who have been tasked to manage some of these corporations and boards; directors, chief executives. They are being paid by the poor tax payers' money. And if they should sit down to watch these irregularities, financial indiscipline, financial malfeasance, I do not think this country deserves them. This is an issue we need to address and address well. Mr Speaker, if you go to the ECG, it would shock you. Look at the kind of situation we find ourselves in and we still go through system losses. And the losses, Mr Speaker, plenty, money going down the drain. Look at the challenges we are facing as a country, the energy crisis, but still ECG finds itself in this kind of a mess. Mr Speaker, I think we need to really work on this Report, make sure that Parliament monitors the implementation of this Report to ensure that, all those people who have been found to have embezzled funds, who have been found to handle moneys improperly, who have been found to cause financial loss to the state, are dealt with. It is something that we need to address. It should not become an annual ritual. Something seriously needs to be done about this Report. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Hon Member for Ho Central?
Mr Speaker, thank you for giving me the opportunity to comment on this Report of the Public Accounts Committee. My Hon Colleague, the Ranking Member has already bemoaned the repetitive nature of these complaints from year to year and this Report covers 2010 and 2011. As we speak, I am not too sure whether the challenges reported here have been addressed or followed up by the various heads of institutions and boards. The payroll irregularities constitute a major aspect of the problems that we face in the public financial management, because payroll in itself is a large chunk of the public expenditure. When we say there are outstanding debts and loans recoverable from staff, what could have happened? They took the loans, retired or passed on but no steps were taken to recover these loans as the separated staff go away? If we talk about payroll irregularities, you would realise that people who do not work are paid. I have already referred to those who have passed on and are still on the payroll. What is the reason for this? Most of the public payroll is handled by
Thank you Mr Speaker, for allowing me to contribute on the Report of the PAC. Mr Speaker, the Hon Member who just spoke made a comment that the PAC should not be seen repeating the issues always. However, for his information, once the problem keeps on occurring, we would have no other option than to repeat them, so he should bear that in mind. I would want us to refer to page 10, paragraph 7.2 on Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT). The Report indicates that SSNIT which we all know retains money meant for pensioners and are also supposed to invest them in viable businesses, it has been failing woefully in this aspect, to the extent that they have several non-performing investments like Bessblock Limited and also experience continuous losses on companies owned by them. However, one thing that I find very worrying is a loan that was given to the Ghana Agro Food Processing Company (GAFCO). SSNIT gave GAFCO GH¢3 million which was supposed to be in exchange for equity shares in GAFCO. At the time they gave them that money, they did not even know the value of GAFCO. So what sort of transaction were they doing when they were exchanging money for equity shares and did not even know the value of the company? What were they buying or exchanging?This happened in 2004 and they only got to know the value of that equity in 2010; six years wasted. Mr Speaker, this is sad. Whoever the financial advisors in SSNIT were,have to be held responsible for such losses. This is my contribution.
I hope that those who would be contributing would take a cue from the last Hon Member who spoke.
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity given me to also contribute on this Report. I am also on SSNIT and specifically, looking at page 11, where SSNIT continuously made losses as a result of some of the practices they were having in their institutions. Institutions like the SSNIT Guest house, the Trust Hospital in 2006/2007 were making losses amounting to GH¢357,476.00 and GH¢2,756,000 respectively. Mr Speaker, these are institutions which are not supposed to make losses. But, just look at what happened when they decided that the SSNIT Guest House and the Trust Hospital were registered as limited liability companies in 2011. Immediately, they started making profit. And so, does it mean when institutions are only owned by Government we turn to mismanaged them, and only turn to do the right thing when these institutions are given out for private people to manage? I think this is a practice that as a nation, we need to look at critically. This is because, these are moneys that pensioners get and all of us are contributing to ensure that when we go on retirements we would have benefits from these resources that we have contributed over the period. If these resources are being given to people to manage on our behalf and they turn to manage the resources in this manner, it is something that the nation has to wake up to. I think workers also have to make noise about the way SSNIT handles the resources that you and I contribute. Mr Speaker, I rest my case.
Hon Members, I would take one from each side and I would put the Question.
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to contribute to the Motion on the floor. Mr Speaker, I heard that COCOBOD has not been paying any profits into the Consolidated Fund for some years now, and the excuse is that they use this money for cocoa roads. Mr Speaker, it is very unfortunate because, the formula for calculating the net Freight on Board (FOB) is such that certain key budget items are budgeted for and subtracted from the expected gross before they arrive at the net FOB. Examples are cocoa roads, mass spraying,
Mr Speaker, I rise to speak in support of the Public Accounts Committee's (PAC) Report on the Auditor- General's Report on Public Boards, Corporations and other Institutions. Mr Speaker, in so doing, I would want to comment on paragraph 2.3, in tandem with paragraph 7.26. Mr Speaker, we know that according to the Public Financial Administration Act, every Ministry, Department and Agency (MDA) and all the institutions are given three months to prepare their accounts for auditing. It takes the auditors three months to audit the accounts and auditees are given two options to respond to queries. At the Exit Conference, if the queries raised by the auditor, the auditees are supposed to respond. If they do not respond, they have a second option where management letters are issued out to them to respond. If they do not do this and the queries become part of the final Report of the Auditor- General, the thing is that, the Financial Administration Act has been violated. I therefore find it difficult to understand why the Committee refused to invite the 26 other institutions out of the 51 who were audited by the Auditor-General. The fact that queries have appeared in the final Report of the Auditor-General meant that they have really violated the Act. Besides, we wanted to note the nature of the queries. Was it a question of cash irregularities arising out of embezzlement, misapplication of funds, payments that were not authenticated, and so on and so forth? In future, I would want to implore the Committee to make sure that whoever appears in the final Report of the Auditor- General, whether they have been able to retire their queries or not, should be invited. And most of them do that only when they are told or they have an idea that the PAC is going to invite them. And for me, it is not a very proper way of doing things. Mr Speaker, I would also want to comment on the issue of payment and stores irregularities. If we look at the Report of the Committee, we just see a clear violation of the rules of keeping stores. Why is it so difficult for institutions not to provide log books and store issue vouchers? These are things one does not need loan from anywhere to procure. And the failure of even the storekeepers to make the proper entries and yet these people are left at post. Mr Speaker, I think that we need to introduce severe sanctions on some of these things such that it does not even form part of the queries of the Auditor- General. Mr Speaker, if we also look at page 8,paragraph (vi), on the issue of Tax Irregularities, can you imagine an institution keeping the deductions of somebody's Social Security contributions to do business with? And at the end of the day, they do not pay any interest to the beneficiaries of the Social Security deductions. And then with the issue of withholding tax, why must people refuse to pay withholding tax that is deducted from their customers, to Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) and yet they are also not sanctioned in any way? Mr Speaker, doing that is depriving GRA the necessary revenues to enable them meet their target as set up by the Ministry of Finance. They are also depriving the Ministry of Finance as part of the Consolidated Funds which is the necessary resources for it to be able to do what it is supposed to do under the budget. Mr Speaker, when we approve the budget, we know that we approved moneys for MDAs and therefore releases that are made to the Public Boards and Corporations should be used for the purpose of which the deductions are made. In addition to that, most of these Boards and Corporations have what is called the Internally Generated Funds (IGF). And so, if they have IGF that they are using, why would they want to keep somebody's Social Security deductions to do business with, at the end of which they do not even pay tax to the person? I think that we need to start sanctioning these people rather seriously or else, some of these irregularities would continue and would never ever stop. Mr Speaker, can you imagine an institution that fails to submit its report for seven months or 31 months and all that we are saying is that, the accountant must be prevailed upon to submit the account for auditing?This is not any sanction, for seven months -- why is it that the law says three months? And they have refused to bring their books for auditing. Each and every year, this House approves budgets for these public institutions. And for seven months, that means the whole year, they have not submitted their accounts for auditing. For 31months which is even more than a year and yet we are not saying anything. Such an accountant should not be allowed to stay in that position because he has actually violated the Financial Admini- stration Act. Mr Speaker, again, we have been complaining about the need to support the PAC to be able to bite. We realise that in spite of all these things that the Committee has reported, we have not put in place the necessary measures to make sure that people are severely sanctioned and punished, such that they do not repeat these things. If we do not find a way of handling audit queries, as we find in other jurisdictions, every time and again, we only look at these reports and keep bemoaning. At the same time, we are depriving the Ministry of Finance the necessary resources to be able to work. And again, they are also making it difficult for the Ministry of Finance to get that kind of satisfaction arising out of releases that it has made such that those moneys have been put to proper use. And so, I believe we should rather spend time to look at the credible way of handling the PAC recommendations, or else, they do not show enough bite and that is why we keep bemoaning. The Auditor-General would keep repeating these things and every year we discuss them and it comes to nothing. And the following year, they repeat the same thing. Mr Speaker, I think that there is a need for us to take action by making sure that we put in the necessary and relevant institutions or mechanisms in place to support the recommendations of the Public Accounts Committee.
Hon Members, that brings us to the end of the debate. I will now put the Question. Question put and Motion agreed to.
I direct that a copy of the Official Report of the day's proceedings be forwarded to the respective Public Boards, Corporations and Statutory Institutions and the supervisory ministries for the appropriate action, and report to the House by the 15th of October, 2015. Hon Members, we would move to item number 9. This item has been on the Order Paper for some time now. The Hon Minister comes and leaves, and I think we should just take it, now that he is in the House. It is a very small Bill. BILLS —CONSIDERATION STAGE Minerals and Mining (Amendment) Bill, 2014
Where is the Hon Chairman of the Committee? We will start with clause 2 subclause (2). Subclause (1) of clause 2 has been deferred. I thought we should defer and get back to it.
Mr Speaker, we have resolved the clause 1, so if we can just—it is a straightforward—the Hon Minister has been around for a very long time. We have gone through it, and we are now all right with it.
Hon Member, what I intend doing is that, we start with clause 2 subclause (2), and then after that we go back to it.Hon Chairman, we have subclause (2); that is item (iii), before we move to (iv).
Mr Speaker, I beg to move clause 2 subclause (2), paragraph (b), line 1 delete “acts in contravention of” and insert “contravenes” Mr Speaker, the proposed amendment is to put it in good grammar. It is just the same thing, except that it is better to get the correct effect when we insert it there. So, it does not pose any problem.
Mr Speaker, I am following the amendments proposed by the Hon Chairman of the Committee, and with your indulgence, he uses, and I beg to quote: “A person who contravenes” substituted for “who acts in contravention of a provision of this Act” Mr Speaker, I am wondering whether we should not substitute “a” for “any”, to read; “any provision of this Act”, as a further amendment to his amendment. So, instead of saying, “a provision of this Act”, it should read: “any provision of this Act” --
Hon Member, that is a separate amendment. It is not in consistent with what the Chairman of the Committee is moving. So, let me put the Question and then you can move yours.
Rightly so, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 2, subclause (2), paragraph (b), line 1, delete “acts in contravention of” and insert “contravenes”. The Proposed amendment is in accordance with the drafting principles. It is a recast.
Hon Members, this pertains to the use of language. Instead of “acts in contravention of”, we use the word “contravenes”. Hon Members, I will put the Question. Question put and amendment agreed to.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 2, subclause (2), substitute “a” with “any” to read; “A person who contravenes any provision of this Act”.
Mr Speaker, I do not have any problem. I think it is all right.
Very well. Hon Members, the amendment is, clause 2, subclause (2), paragraph (b), line 1, delete “a” and insert “any”. Question put and amendment agreed to.
Hon Chairman, we are still on clause 2.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, subclause (2), closing phrase after paragraph (b), delete and insert the following: “commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of not less than five thousand penalty units and not more than twenty thousand penalty units or to a term of imprisonment of not less than three years and not more than five years or to both.” Mr Speaker, the intention is to set a minimum for the penalty. It is the same thing, except that we want to set a minimum for the penalty and not just to allow it, so that we can have a very wide range. The maximum had earlier been set but there was no minimum. The intention is just to set the minimum.
Why are you making it a minimum of three years?
Mr Speaker, that is the question you just asked. I would want to find out why we want to set a minimum. Why do we want to tie the hands of the judges? Can we know why? He should explain further. We are not— [Pause]
Hon Members, that is about penalty and by this amendment, the Chairman is saying that the minimum punishment in terms of custodial punishment should be three years. Why? We would want to know your reason. Why do you not leave it as it is in the Bill, or to the discretion of the judge so that, depending on the seriousness of the offence, the judge can decide to make it the maximum or -- You can, because some of the offences might not be very serious and you are going to put the man in custody for three years; you are giving it a minimum of three years so, explain it to the House before I put the Question.
Mr Speaker, we know the menace of galamsey in this country. Any type of galamsey is a serious threat, it is not just about the degree. Mr Speaker, initially, there have been a lot of sanctions but it was not deterring. So, Mr Speaker, if somebody who wants to operate a galamsey business sees that he can go for just one month --
Hon Chairman, why are you not making it six months or one year but you are making the minimum three years? You should be able to tell the House.
It is routine that three years is enough deterrence to scare those who are going into illegal mining and are destroying the environment and harming --
Hon Chairman, is illegal mining the only offence under the law? Have you checked the parent Act to find out what the other possible offences for which you are prescribing these levels of punishment? Have you checked?
Mr Speaker, in fact, we just did the Income Tax Law and if --
Please; we are not on Income Tax Law.We are on Minerals and Mining (Amendment) Bill, so have you looked at the parent Act and looked at some of the offences under the Act? Do you have the Act before you?
Hon Member for Wa West?
Mr Speaker, I think the issue you are raising also relates to the penalty units because both penalty units are fixed at a certain amount.
Yes, I know. But we have to -- so that if one changes, the other would have to be adjusted.
So I am saying that, the penalty units are supposed to correspond in terms of the amount with the number of years. Therefore, if the correspondence is correct then that would be the reason it should be three years rather than any other --
But look at the Bill that was introduced into the House by the Hon Minister. If they have adjusted the penalty units in line with the enhancement of sentencing, look at the Bill that has been introduced. I would want to know the reason why the Committee on Mines and Energy is increasing the penalty.
Mr Speaker, I get your guidance from the fact that if you read from the subclause, it says if it was not more than 17,000 penalty units and we are seeking to divide that into a minimum of five thousand, and a maximum of 20,000 penalty units. Mr Speaker, I believe for policy deterrence small scale mining has become a major headache and considering the menace which is becoming suicidal to our environment, I am sure that is the reason, the Chairman is guided that we should go for a more punitive action in order to deter persons who are associated with illegal small scale mining in the country.
Hon Minister, you are a Member of Cabinet; is it a policy issue?
Rightly so, Mr Speaker.
Then why is it that Cabinet introducing the Bill did not make it a policy issue?
Mr Speaker, I believe that there was a major section of that --
Hon Member, you know that as much as possible, we should leave sentences to the discretion of the judges; that is the general principle. Except that, we feel strongly about it and there must be reasons for feeling so strongly, and that is what I would want to put on record and nobody is telling me. The Chairman of the Committee is not telling me.
Mr Speaker, apart from the clause that we are considering, immediately you go down -- even if you see 20,000 penalty units, it tells you when the -- later on, I am going to move those amendments to convince you that the area of galamsey or illegal mining is so serious that we are trying to bring in measures that would deter people from going there to destroy the environment. Mr Speaker, I understand very well where you are coming from. [Laughter.]
I am not coming from anywhere.
Mr Speaker, I would like the Chairman and the Hon Minister for Employment and Labour Relations, who proposed on the floor of the House a policy retake so that they would tell us if this whole law is about banning galamsey. Mr Speaker, galamsey is an illegal act and we cannot make a law and prescribe measurement in banning galamsey inside the law. But I can understand the effects of illegal mining, and if this punishment is to curb or try and make the measurement severe, then I can understand that we have to support it. It happened in the Public Health Bill, where we realised that it is even more profitable to engage in fake medicines than engage in half drug trade. So, we criminalise it because, very close to us, in Nigeria, it was a death penalty. So we make the punishment so severe and we gave the judges very little discretion. If that is on environmental consequences, they should say it and let us support them. Mr Speaker, I even think the three years minimum is too low if you consider the havoc illegal mining is doing in our countryside; polluting our water bodies, degrading our forest reserves and the countryside. The Minister is here -- does he not think the three years is too small? I think we should increase the minimum sentence to five years and the maximum to ten years, so that it becomes a severe punishment and deterrent to those who engage in these illegal activities.
Mr Speaker, you asked a question about the parent Act. If you look at it, the offences side of the parent Act has been deleted completely and is being substituted for this. So, there would not be any contradiction between what was imposed there.That section is now completely off and a new one is being substituted. As we are all saying, because of the damage the illegal mining people cause to the environment, water bodies among others, they need to be given that minimum of a sentence, because it destroys people's livelihood and lives are at risk. That is the reason why I think the parent Act is being replaced by this provision.
Yes, so that would even make it more serious because, if you look at a particular clause or act which is in contravention with any provision of this Act in respect of which a penalty has not yet been specified. So, you are now providing for -- it is covering a very wide area of small offences. The other areas where we are specific, without licence, it is there. Where it is a foreigner who is involved, we have provided for it. So, this particular provision is a very wide area and we need to be very careful when the liberty of the individual is involved. Look at the paragraph (b) very well. I would come to the Hon Minister.
Let me hear from the Hon Minority Leader and then I would take you.
Mr Speaker, the memorandum which introduces these amendments captures what is intended to be done; the purpose for these amend- ments. Paragraph 5 of the memorandum provides and I beg to quote; “With regard to the activities of small scale illegal mining or ‘galamsey', their activities have reached epic proportions in the country due to many factors, including the influx of foreigners into the sector and the impunity of persons engaged in illegal small scale mining activities. These activities have had a devastating effect on the environment by destroying farmlands and polluting a large number of water bodies and thereby adversely affecting the livelihoods of the persons living in the communities where these activities take place.” Mr Speaker, relate to the magnitude of the effects; a drop of acid or the chemicals that they use in treating these minerals is devastating enough if it enters the systems of ten persons or even if it is one person. -- [Interruption] -- Even if it is one person. Mr Speaker, with respect, paragraph 4 of the second page of the memorandum further provides and I beg to quote; “These amendments will ensure that persons who engage in illegal small scale mining activities are convicted and punished severely enough to deter others from participating in these activities.” Mr Speaker, this is at the heart of it. So, when you asked the question about the propriety or otherwise of maybe catching everybody in the same basket, the intention behind the commission is what we are dealing with.
Hon Minority Leader, look at the clause 2 (b) and read it carefully -- [Interruption]. Clause 2 (b) says that: “(b) acts in contravention of a provision of this Act in respect of which a penalty has not been specified,” They are talking about a very wide range of areas. If it is a specific act that we are punishing, then we can look at that particular act and know the kind of punishment that we are prescribing for that particular act. But when they have that general statement, it becomes problematic. If it is a foreigner, it is clear; if it is a Ghanaian who employs a foreigner, it is clear; if one does not have licence and you are engaged in it, it is clear. With this particular one, which says that where the penalty is not present, then they are putting all of them in one category and then giving them this punishment. I have a problem with the subclause (b) but let me hear from Hon W. O. Boafo and then I would come back to you.
Mr Speaker. I have the same challenge as you are facing. My challenge is mainly on the issue of subclause (b). It is very nebulous and I am wondering whether it does not contravene article 19 (11) of our Constitution which requires that offences must be specified. Mr Speaker, in this case, I do not see how this can satisfy --
Absolutely. That is the point I am making. If you look at the article 19 (11) of the Constitution under Fair Trial -- [Pause]-- if I ask you what the ingredients of the offence that you are creating are; can you tell me? Hon Chairman of the Committee, what are the ingredients of the act that you are creating under subclause (b)?
Mr Speaker, I would want to slightly disagree with the suggestion that the offence is not specified. Indeed, we are passing a law and specifying offences or things that would constitute offences in this Act. We are also at the same time providing for the sanctions. Now, what you are asking about is what the offence would be; if anybody commits an offence or is suspected to have committed an offence, it must be against this Act and the Act has been specified.
Hon Member for Wa West, if we have that omnibus provision, then why do you go back again dealing with those without licence, Ghanaians employing foreigners and foreigners who are engaged in it? You have gone ahead to provide specific instances and the ingredients of those offences are very clear.
Mr Speaker, this is only in respect --
Hon Member, look at article 19 (11) of the Constitution, “No person shall be convicted of a criminal offence unless the offence is defined and the penalty for it is prescribed…” So, it is not only the penalty that the Constitution is talking about. The offence itself must be defined. What are the ingredients of the offence? That is the question I am posing to the Committee.
Mr Speaker, can we step it down and move on? We would come back and conclude on that particular one. So, if we could move on and come back. I would liaise with the --
It is deferred.
Yes, let us continue. Hon Chairman of the Committee, item number (iv) -- [Pause].
Mr Speaker, item number (iv) is what we have just debated and that has to do with the minimum penalty that we were seeking to prescribe -- [Interruption]. That is the item number (iv); clause 2, subclause (2). So, we would have to go to item number (v), which is clause 2, subclause (3). Iclause 2, subclause (2) is what we were just talking about.
Then, move on.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 2, subclause (3), lines 1 and 2, delete “A foreigner who undertakes small scale mining operations contrary to the provision of this Act” and insert the following:
Mr Speaker, perhaps, we may request the Hon Chairman to provide better particulars by way of explanation. This is because with the original rendition in the Bill, I have a difficulty appreciating why -- If the Hon Chairman wants to change 20 years to 10 years, he should simply say so. That is the import of the amendment coming from him. But even as it is advertised, he begins with: “A foreigner, who, contrary to the provisions of this Act...” Mr Speaker, clearly -- [Interruption] -- My Hon Friend, you are changing -- That is what has been advertised. He said that he is opting for a more elegant one, which he articulated. But what is advertised reads, and Mr Speaker, I beg to quote: “A foreigner, who, contrary to the provisions of this Act…” Mr Speaker, that is not neat enough. So, when we maintain the original rendition, and Mr Speaker, I beg to quote: “A foreigner who undertakes small scale mining operations contrary to the provisions of this Act commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of not less than…” Mr Speaker, if we want 10 years, then we would get the penalty units, which is commensurate to ten years to fit in there, and for 20 years, we get a penalty unit and that becomes appropriate.
Hon Chairman, the import of your amendment is to enhance the punishment. So, just do that and let us make some progress. If you want to re- arrange the words and all those things, it does not help anybody. Hon Chairman, did you get the point the Hon Minister has made?
Mr Speaker, if he could come back, I really did not get the point that he made. I was conferring with the Hon Minister for Lands and Natural Resources.
All that he said is that, re-arranging the words does not add anything to clause 2 (3). If it is the punishment you would want to enhance, you could go ahead and do so and align the penalty units with custodial sentences. That is the point that he has made; that is all.
Well taken, Mr Speaker.
So, what is it? Move the amendment and let me put the Question.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, “A foreigner who undertakes small scale mining operations contrary to the provision of this Act commits an offence and is liable …”
Everything is correct, but when it comes to the punishment and the penalty units, that is where you make the changes to reflect the amendment the Committee proposed.
“…less than ten years and not more than 20 years.”
Mr Speaker, a proper arrangement of what the Hon Chairman himself early on spoke to is this and Mr Speaker, I beg to quote: “A foreigner who contrary to the provisions of this Act undertakes small scale mining operations commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of not less than thirty thousand penalty units and not more than three hundred thousand penalty units or to a term of imprisonment of not less than 10 years and not more than 20 years or to both”. Mr Speaker, this is what the Hon Chairman has been labouring to establish.
Hon Minister for Employment and Labour Relations, for us to understand the amendment, it is easier for us to use the language of the Bill and then amend it. So, you could get the ingredients of the offence, which are very clear. You must be a foreigner, you must undertake mining and the mining might be illegal. Those are the ingredients. So, it is very clear.
Mr Speaker, the original rendition accepts the situation that foreigners could undertake small scale mining operations. However, if they go contrary to the provisions of this Act, they commit an offence. If we have a recast; it would as follows: “A foreigner who contrary to the provisions of this Act undertakes small scale mining operations…” If we have that construction, the implication is that foreigners are strictly forbidden from undertaking mining operations. Is that the case?
Mr Speaker, yes.
Mr Speaker, if that is the case, then how the Hon Chairman has cast it -- The new construction is better. If foreigners are str ictly forbidden, then the new construction is better that: “A foreigner who contrary to the provisions of this Act undertakes small scale mining operations commits an offence…”
“A foreigner who undertakes small scale mining operations contrary to the provisions of this Act …” This could mean that they are allowed some window to do some mining operations. But if they are str ictly forbidden, then the rehash by the Hon Chairman is better.
Is it under the Minerals and Mining Act, 2006, Act 703, or another law? Nii Osah Mills: Mr Speaker, it is the Minerals and Mining Act, 2006 (Act 703).
Very well, we want to get that picture very clearly. Hon Members, we need to go back and look at the rendition very well. Nii Osah Mills: Mr Speaker, with your permission, may I read?
Yes, there is no problem. Nii Osah Mills: Mr Speaker, the new rendition, as the Hon Minority Leader stated, tells the whole story. Mr Speaker, because it is small scale mining, it is strictly banned to foreigners; they are strictly excluded. It means that when a foreigner carries out that activity, he is doing so contrary to the law. So, a foreigner who contrary to this Act, which is Act 703, carries out small scale mining commits an offence.
Why do you not just say that, ‘a foreigner who undertakes -- Even if it is not supposed to be there, then the use of the words “contrary to this Act” is neither here nor there. If a man is not supposed to be doing what he is doing, then when he does it, you punish him. So what is the significance of saying that, “contrary to this Act”? If we are banning the foreigners, we should do so. That is why I said that, let me defer this matter and let us go and look at it again. It is a Bill, if we are all at the same page and appreciate the essence of the Bill, then we can --
Mr Speaker, I would want us to stand it down. We would go back and clear the edges before we come.
So, if you are able to clear it, we can take it tomorrow or Tuesday. Very well.
Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Item number 7 on the Order Paper; Chairman of the Finance Committee? Sorry, that brings us to the end of the Consideration Stage of the Minerals and Mining (Amendment) Act for today. Yes, Chairman of the Finance Committee? Item number 7.
Mr Speaker, I rise to move; that this Honourable House adopts the Report of the joint Committee on Finance and Works and Housing on the Credit Facility Agreement between the Government of Ghana and the KBC Bank of Brussels, Belgium for an amount of three million, four hundred and fifty-seven thousand, two hundred and fifty-three euros, forty-seven cents (€3,457,253.47) as supplementary funding for the Essakyir Water Supply System in the Central Region. Mr Speaker, in doing so, I present the Report of the Committee. Introduction The request for approval of the Credit Facility Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Ghana and the KBC Bank of Brussels, Belgium for an amount of three million, four hundred and fifty-seven thousand, two hundred and fifty-three euros, forty-seven cents (€3,457,253.47) as supplementary funding for the Essakyir Water Supply System in the Central Region was presented to the House by the Hon. Deputy Minister of Finance Mr. Cassiel Ato Baah Forson on behalf of the Finance Minister on Wednesday, 1st October, 2014 in accordance with article 181 of the 1992 Constitution. The Mr Speaker referred the request to the joint Committee on Finance and Works and Housing for consideration and report in accordance with Orders 169 and 180 of the Standing Orders of the Parliament of Ghana. The Committee was assisted in its deliberations by the former Hon Minister for Water Resources, Works and Housing, Mr Collins Dauda, Hon. Deputy Minister for Finance, Mr.Cassiel Ato Baah Forson, the Managing Director of Ghana Water Company and officials from the Ministries of Finance and Water Resources, Works and Housing in the consideration of the referral. The Committee is grateful to them for their assistance. Reference The Committee referred to the following documents at its deliberations: The 1992 Constitution of Ghana; The Standing Orders of the Parliament of Ghana; and The Loans Act 1970 (Act 335) Background Potable water supply for Essakyir and its surrounding areas was from a package treatment plant which went out of operation in 1980 and thus needed replacement. Upon the breakdown of the package treatment plant, water supply to the area depended on the Kwanyako and Baifikrom water treatment plants situated several kilometres North-East and West respectively of the Essakyir Area with several challenges. As a result, the water supply situations in the Essakyir Area faced severe challenges for most part of the year. A water supply master plan for the Central Region prepared by DHV Consultants of the Netherlands in 2004 recommended the construction of a new treatment plant on the Ochi-Nakwa River in addition to water transmission and distribution pipelines to deliver potable water to the area. This was accepted by Agreement for implementation and has come to be known as the Essakyir Water Supply Project. Scope of Works for the Additional Funding The scope of works to be carried out under the Phase II of the Esakyir Project are the following: i). Construction of 3.1km HDPE transmission pipelines from Water
Treatment Plant (WTP) to Gomoamaim (North of WTP); ii). Replacement of 9km Asbestos Concrete transmission pipeline; iii). Construction of additional 11kilometres HDPE distribution pipe and iv). Provision of Standpipes at Esuehyia, Otuam, Mumford, Mbroboto, Kokodo, Muna, Aboano and Serafa. Terms and Conditions of the Credit Facility The terms and conditions of the Credit Facility between the Government of Ghana and the Government of Belgium are as follows: Loan Amount -- €2,438,400.00 Grace Period -- 10 years Repayment Period -- 20 years Maturity Period -- 30 years Interest Rate -- Nil Service Fee -- Nil Commitment Fee -- 0 per cent. The terms and conditions of the credit Facility between the Government of Ghana and KBC Bank are as follows: Loan amount -- €1,170, 159.99 made up of the following: Project Cost -- €1,018,853.47 Interest Rate -- Euribor +2.15 per cent p. a. Facility Fee -- €10,000 (one off payment) Arrangement Fee -- €10,000 Commitment Fee -- €5,000 (one off payment) Insurance -- up to 100 per cent of the estimated credit insurance premium of €126,306.52 Repayment Period -- 10 years Grace Period -- 1 years Maturity -- 11 year Service Fee -- Nil. Project Duration The project completion period for the additional works is estimated to be 6 months from the commencement date. Observations Justification Justifying the need for the additional funding for the additional works, the Minister for Water Resources, Works and Housing indicated that the findings from the needs assessment on the distribution network carried out in the course of the project implementation indicated that the Asbestos Concrete pipes laid over forty years ago have passed their useful life span and as a result, pressure from the new Water Treatment Plant will be too severe for the old pipes to hold. Further, the distribution pipelines from the Reservoirs to some of the beneficiary communities were not considered under the original project and there is the need to embark on a Phase II of the project to guarantee reliable flow of water to unserved communities within the Gomoa Antseadze and Esakyir Project area. The Minister also stated that the new transmission pipelines would increase coverage in the project area which would intend improve access to potable water and also reduce the level of non-revenue water. The Minister further indicated that implementation of the Phase II of the project would also cause growth in productivity of the inhabitants leading to economic development and reduction in poverty. Though the Committee appreciates the importance of the Phase II of the project, it is of the view that if proper feasibility had been carried out and consultations held with the communities, the above mentioned implementation challenges could have been identified and factored in the original project. The Committee therefore urges the Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing to be more diligent and ensure that proper feasibility is carried out and more consultation held on future projects to prevent such avoidable requests. Status of Implementation Briefing the Committee on the current status of implementation of the Phase I of the project, the Minister for water Resources, Works and Housing stated that a total amount of €18,080,463.45 representing 90 per cent has been disbursed out of the total budget of €20,040,603.00. The overall project implementation status according to the Minister, stands at 93 per cent. Breakdown of completed works were given as follows: Works Percentage Completed Building of water treatment plant With high-lift pumping station, an Intake and Weir -- 90 per cent Laying of 42 km HDPE Transmission Pipeline of different diameters -- 100 per cent Building of 4 Water Reservoirs -- 75 per cent Laying of 10km HDPE DN110 Distribution Pipeline -- 75 per cent Terms and Conditions of the Facility Commenting on the financing, the Deputy Minister for Finance stated that the credit terms are highly concessional with an estimated grant element of 35 per cent. This, the Deputy Minister explained satisfies all the Government of Ghana conditions for concessionary borrowing. Financing detail Error The Committee noted during its deliberations that the actual loan amount should have been €3,608,559.99 instead of €3,457,253.47 which was stated in the joint Cabinet Memorandum to Parliament. The details as contained in the contract document are that on July 2nd 2013, the Buyer (GoG) entered into Amendment Contract with the Supplier (Belgian Government) for a supplementary funding amount of €3,457,253.47 to which the Belgian Government agreed to finance up to 70.53 per cent (€2,438,400) through State
to State loan on concessional conditions. The funding gap of €1,018,853.47 was to be provided by KBC Bank with additional terms which were not captured in the Joint Cabinet Memo. The additional terms and conditions of the Credit Facility which was not captured are Facility Fee of €10,000 (one off payment), Amendment Fee of €10,000, Commitment Fee of €5,000 (one off payment) and an Insurance of up to 100 per cent of the estimated credit insurance premium of €126,306.52. Reacting to the Committee's observa- tions, the Minister admitted it was an error and the Committee requested Cabinet to correct the error and the Committee accordingly notified. A copy of the Cabinet letter and the relevant page of the contract where the error was detected are attached for the information of the House. The Committee therefore, accepted the amended figure of €3,608,559.99. This amended figure was reviewed by the Committee in arriving at its conclusion and recommendation. Tax Exemptions The Committee also observed that Parliament was also requested to exempt the loan from taxes in line with general tax exemptions policies. This request the Committee further observed, was in accordance with Article 5 of the Agreement which states that payments effected in accordance with this Agreement shall be free of all existing or future charges whatsoever for which such payments could be liable under any legal provisions or regulations whatsoever of the Kingdom of Belgium and the Republic of Ghana. The Committee took note of the request but realised that assessed values, by the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority was not attached. The Committee therefore, recommends to the Ministry of Finance to present the required waiver to Parliament for consideration. Conclusion and Recommendation The Committee having carefully examined the referral is of the view that Essakyir Water Supply Project supple- mentary funding is to enable the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL) construct new transmission pipelines, replace existing distribution pipelines and construct stand pipes for the Essakyir Water Supply System to improve the supply of water to the beneficiary communities. The Committee therefore, recommends to the House to adopt its report and approve the Supplementary Loan Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Ghana and the Government of Belgium and the KBC Bank of Belgium for a total amount of three million, six hundred and eight thousand, five hundred and fifty-nine euros, ninety- nine cents (€3,608,559.99) to further support the construction and expansion of the Essakyir Water Supply Project in the Central Region. Respectfully submitted. SPACE FOR PAGE 5 -
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MR FIRST DEPUTY SPEAKER
Hon Members, can we have some order, please. Yes, proceed. Any seconder?
Mr Speaker, I take it that the Hon Chairman by his presentation is amending the Motion. So, the Clerks-at-the-Table should take note that the Motion talks about €3, 457, 253.47 but the Hon Chairman's number in the Report amends this amount -- So that we know what it is that we are voting about. So, you should take that note and, may be, if the Hon Chairman can read the figure to you. It is not €3, 457, 253.47, it is €3, 608, 559.99. Hon Chairman, if that amendment is made then I believe everything is in order and as the Hon Chairman said --
Where are you asking for the amendment --
The Motion talks about a sum of €3, 457, 253.47 but the Hon Chairman in his Report is reminding us to amend it. So, I would want to make sure that that is the appropriate number.
I think it is a point worth taking. Hon Chairman, since your Motion talks about the old figure, why do you not seek to amend so that it would reflect the new figure which is already captured in the Resolution -- The Resolution still has the same thing.
The Resolution still has the wrong number. So, if the Hon Chairman amends it formally, it would be consequential.
Mr Speaker, I would like to amend the Motion that the amount should read three million, six hundred and eight Thousand, Five hundred and fifty- nine, ninety-nine cents.
Leave to amend granted.
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion and to remind Hon Members that this is a work that was done a long time ago but the Cabinet Memo supporting this amount by then had not come. So, it is really not a new work -- We just needed a correction from the Cabinet Memo. So, I urge Hon Members to vote for the Motion.
Hon Members, I would put the Question. Question put and Motion agreed to.
Hon Members, Item number 8 -- Resolution. Hon Minister?
THIS HONOURABLE HOUSE
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion. Question put and Motion agreed to. Resolved accordingly.
Mr Speaker, the Income Tax Bill, 2015, captured on page 7 of the Order Paper as Item 10 is ready to be taken now. If we can move to Item 10 -- The Income Tax Bill, 2015.
Very well. Hon Members, Income Tax Bill, 2015, at the Consideration Stage.
BILLS -- CONSIDERATION
Hon Members, I believe we can start something, do a little bit and then defer the rest of it --
Mr Speaker, because it was not advertised, the documentation that one would need -- I have not brought mine, that is why I am appealing to the Hon Chairman that -- it is ready but It was not advertised. So, I am disabled completely and I would like to fully participate in the work of your august Committee but they have -- I am saying that because it was not advertised earlier, I do not have any paper work to that effect and so I would be completely disabled in -- So, if we can just --
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 1, subclause (3), paragraph (a), line 2, delete “person,” and insert “person”,
“applying the relevant rates of income tax set out in the First Schedule to the chargeable income of that person and …” So, after the “person” there is no “,”. Question put and amendment agreed to. Clause 1 as amended ordered to stand part of the Bill. Clause 2 ordered to stand part of the Bill. Clause 3 -- Assessable income.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 3, subclause (2), line 2, delete “an” and insert “any”
“The assessable income of a person for a year of assessment from any employment, business or invest- ment”. Instead of “an employment”.
Mr Speaker, this is a major Bill that we are going through. We do not oppose the amendments but because it was not advertised for some of It is advertised today but yesterday, we did not know that it was coming so I am completely disabled. I think in fairness to me and my Hon Colleagues, he should allow us to fully participate.
Hon Members, I believe hearing from the Hon Ranking Member, it would be advisable to play safe. We have done a little bit. Could we just defer this one till tomorrow? Yes, Hon Deputy Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, the Hon Ranking Member at the Committee level supported and proposed these amendments to the House and so for me, it is -- [Interruption] -- Well, Mr Speaker, he proposed this to the House. What is he saying? Mr Speaker, we are in your hands.
I did not hear what you said, could you go over it?
I was saying that, the Hon Ranking Member of the Committee proposed these amendments to the House and the House is prepared to go on. This is because these proposals came from them.
Mr Speaker, I am surprised at the Hon Deputy Majority Leader. Our job is to assist this House do its work in the best way possible. The point I was raising was that, when we are going to look at such an important Bill, we are advised ahead of time so that we could come with all the documentations. Now, if I do not have mine here, I might be inclined to oppose the Motion and it would impede the work of the House. So, I am pleading with the Hon Chairman that, let us step it down, have Hon Members with their documentation today, then it could have smooth sailing. But if we want to do it in an atmosphere of trying to use our memory, it does not help the House. That is all. I am sure the Hon Chairman appreciates it.
Mr Speaker, if the Hon Ranking Member is suggesting that all of us should be carried along, let us finish the clause 3, then you could take a decision. If you could put the Question on clause 3, then we could take a decision.
Unfortu- nately, I cannot hear you clearly.
Mr Speaker, I am saying that if the Hon Ranking Member would want all of us to take part and be carried along, then I am inviting you to put the Question on clause 3 so that we take a decision and then come back to the Bill.
Very well, Hon Members, I would put the Question with regard to clause 3. Question put and Motion agreed to. Clause 3 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Hon Members, in the light of the consensus arrived at, this would bring us to the end of Consideration Stage for today. Yes, Hon Deputy Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that the House stands adjourned till tomorrow at 10.00 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion. Question put and Motion agreed to.
The House was accordingly adjourned at 12.40 p.m. till Friday, 10th July, 2015 at 10.00 a.m.