VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS AND THE OFFICIAL REPORT
Hon Members, Correction of Votes and Proceedings of Wednesday, 22nd February, 2017. Page 1…9 --
Mr Speaker, respectfully, I would want us to look at page 9. It has to do with how the item numbered 8 on the Order Paper has been captured. The Hon Member for Nandom, the Hon Minister for the Interior made a Statement in which he apprised Parliament of the chieftaincy dispute in Bimbilla. The person who made the Statement is a Member of this House. He did not make the Statement in his capacity as a Member of this House; he made the Statement in his capacity as a Minister. I do not know how appropriately it ought to be carried and captured. This Statement is made in his capacity as the Minister. I do not know whether we may have to conjoin it and say that he is a Member of Parliament and a Minister. I just would want us to think this through but certainly, it was not made in his capacity as a Member of Parliament but in his capacity as a Minister. It is Government information that he communicated to the people of Ghana through this House. This is equally so for item numbered 9. This is how it has been done, but I am not too sure that it is the correct way to capture it. Mr Speaker, I would refer to Standing Order 70 (2).
Yes, Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I share the concerns of the Hon Majority Leader. Pursuant to Standing Order 70 (2) as he indicated, Hon Ministers may make Statement on government policy. It is true that the Hon Ambrose Dery, who is the Hon Minister for the Interior -- Mr Speaker, with your kind permission, when we look at paragraph “a” on page 9 it says; “The Hon Member for Nandom and Minister for the Interior...”. Mr Speaker, maybe, it has to do with the way it was reported. This has been the practice and unless we would want to change from it -- I believe that we can change from it, but we should have suggestions. Mr Speaker, he is the Hon Member for Nandom and the Hon Minister for the Interior. He made a Statement and so, it should have been reported as “a policy brief on the state of the crises in Bimbilla”. Then we can situate it within Standing Order 70 (2), but not to just say “he apprised the House”. I do agree with him; likewise the Hon Minister for Youth and Sports who also paid tributes on behalf of the State. Mr Speaker, I believe we can improve upon the rendition on how we report these matters. We can also use this opportunity so that when Hon Ministers give Statements, the headings speak for what it is reported. They must be mindful of the headings of the Statements, so that they are properly captured and for us to know what leg they walk on in making those particular Statements.
Hon Members, shall we proceed?
Mr Speaker, I want to suggest that in this particular case, if we say that the Hon Minister for the Interior made a Statement -- we all know who he is. On the other hand, if we would still want to add, the order should be, “the Hon Minister for the Interior and Member of Parliament (MP) for Nandom”. That would capture the sense because he did so in his capacity as an Hon Minister. He also visited the area which was recently engulfed in crises. So, he gave a situational report to the House. It was not just about chieftaincy conflict in Bimbilla he apprised us of. He visited the site, saw the things and he reported back to this House. So, it should be “Hon Minister for the Interior and Member of Parliament for Nandom who briefed the House”. The use of the word apprised, should not just mean a general apprised”. It should be, “he briefed the House on the recent crises in Bimbilla” as the Hon Minority Leader said.
Hon Members, will this be a compromised rendition, “the Hon Minister for the Interior and Member of Parliament for Nandom”? Hon Majority Leader, it is not for me to do the correction. If that rendition will be acceptable, we shall proceed.
Yes, Mr Speaker. That is the essence of the point I made. That the emphasis should be on his ministerial portfolio because he made the Statement in his capacity as an Hon Minister just like the Hon Minister responsible for Youth and Sports also did subsequently in the tribute that he paid in respect of the three deceased national coaches.
Mr Speaker, probably, to improve upon it in order that we distinguish between elected and non- elected Hon Ministers who appear before us, it could be captured as; “the Hon Minister for the Interior, MP”. The “MP” would be added to his name and that would be sufficient. So, if any other Hon Minister came, who is not an elected Hon Member of Parliament, it would go with his name and portfolio; “the Hon Minister for Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation”. But where the person is an Hon Member, we do not need the details of adding his or her constituency. We could just say “the Hon Minister for the Interior, MP” then we would proceed to capture the Statement. Mr Speaker, as I indicated, they should come with headings that can be reported appropriately.
Hon Majority Leader, what is your view? This is because we are drafting a template which would be used for future recordings.
Mr Speaker, we have agreed that the ministerial title should precede the recognition of the fact that the person is an Hon Member. So, it would be “Hon Minister for so and so portfolio and Member” because “Member” is defined as an Hon Member of Parliament. We could still have the full compliment; Hon Member for so and so.
Mr Speaker, I do not worry about that, but the emphasis should be on the fact that the person does so in his capacity as an Hon Minister.
So, in both instances on page 8, it would be, “The Hon Minister for the Interior and…”. Then on page 9, it would be; “The Hon Minister for Youth and Sports, and…”. Hon Members, I believe we have a formula. It would soon be corrected. Page 10…11
Mr Speaker, when we follow the logic of the Hon Leader, I wonder if the item numbered 11 should not read; “Hon Leader of the House and Majority Leader”. This is because he laid the Paper in his capacity as the Hon Leader of the House and not as the Hon Majority Leader. Mr Speaker, are “Hon Majority Leader” and “Hon Leader of the House” the same things or they are different? Mr Speaker, I need to be guided by your decision. What should it be?
Mr Speaker, maybe, I can come in after your comment. You were taking off to make your own — I do not think that the honour and privilege of the Hon Majority Leader as Minister of State and Leader of Government Business combined in a trio should be denied by my Hon Senior Colleague who knows that is him, now properly defined; Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Majority Leader and
Mr Speaker, in my view, he was laying it as Leader of Government and not as Minister for Parliamentary Affairs. But that is not what is captured here.
Where titles are many, sometimes, applications become terms of art. So, when an Hon Member is Majority Leader, Leader of the House — In fact, sometimes, there can be a difference between Majority Leader and Leader of the House, and also Minister for Parliamentary Affairs. Maybe, we shall look at the context and make the application accordingly. So, what stands should stand. Shall we make progress?
Mr Speaker, respectfully —
Your titles are many — [Laughter.]
Mr Speaker, I made the distinction yesterday, that the Paper was being laid by me in my capacity as Leader of the House. It is just Leader of the House. We do not do so as, maybe, Majority Leader or Minister for Parliamentary Affairs. I made the distinction yesterday and thought that it would be captured as such — Simpliciter; Leader of the House. Mr Speaker, that is the capacity in which the Majority Leader lays these documents on behalf of the constitutional creations, not in my capacity as Minister for Parliamentary Affairs and not necessarily in my capacity as Leader of Government Business or Member of Parliament.
Then you need to add, and Hon Member for Suame — [Laughter.]
Mr Speaker, rightly so as you guided. He is here, first as Member of Parliament before he became our Leader and Majority Leader; the three are inseparable: Majority Leader, Leader of Government Business and Minister for Parliamentary Affairs. I am wondering why Hon Dr Anthony Akoto Osei is making every effort to separate them — [Interruption] -- Mr Speaker, is he not the same Hon Osei Kyei-Mensah- Bonsu of Suame sitting there in whom is rested all these three?
Mr Speaker, respectfully, let me indicate to my Hon Colleague that when he says that the three are inseparable, they could be separable. Mr Speaker, we could have a situation where the Hon Majority Leader may be the person as the Majority Leader whose party would be dominating Parliament but whose party would not be controlling the Executive. He may be a Majority Leader all right, but he would not be Leader of Government Business at the time. The Minority Leader would then be the Leader of Government Business. He should get that distinction very clear. And so the three are separable.
That is the very reason I said it must be contextualised. So, we look at the context and use which is applicable at any particular time. Shall we make progress? Page 10 . . . 13 —
Mr Speaker, I was in attendance at the Committee on Mines and Energy meeting but my name is not listed.
Hon Members, page 14 — Hon Members, the Votes and Proceedings of Wednesday, 22nd February, 2017, as corrected are hereby adopted as the true record of proceedings. Hon Members, we have the Official Report of Wednesday, 15th February, 2017 for correction. Any corrections?
Mr Speaker, column 1273 — Maj. Derek Oduro (retd) — “NDC — Nkoranza North”. I do not know whether he has crossed carpeted to this side of the House. But it should be corrected accordingly.
Correction noted. Hon Members, we have the Official Report of Tuesday, 21st February, 2017 for correction. Any correction?
Mr Speaker, I draw your attention to Standing Order 50 —
Hon Member, we are on the Official Report. Do you have anything to say about that?
Mr Speaker, I would take your advice.
[No correction was made to the Official Report of Tuesday, 21st February, 2017.]
Hon Members, there will be no Statements for this morning.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move that this Honourable House extends its sincerest thanks to His Excellency, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo- Addo, the President of the Republic of Ghana and Commander-in-Chief of the Ghana Armed Forces, for his maiden Message on the State of the Nation delivered to the House and indeed, to the people of Ghana on Tuesday, February 21, 2017, as required by article 67 of the 1992 Constitution. Mr Speaker, in moving the Motion, I would like to make some general comments, references to the speech, some observations and leave my Hon Colleagues to talk about it in detail. Mr Speaker, the President's message was one of the shortest messages in recent memory. It was only 16 pages in length and delivered over just a little above one hour. As it is said in my language, asempa ye tia; asempa nso etre, to wit, there is wisdom in short speeches and short speeches trend faster with wider circulation. Mr Speaker, the areas in which the President's message should cover are alluded to in article 34 (2) of the Constitution which requires the President to report about steps taken to ensure the realisation of the policies as enshrined in the Directive Principles of State Policy; and with your permission, I beg to quote: “ . . . and, in particular, the realisation of basic human rights, a healthy economy, the right to work, the right to good healthcare and the right to education.” Mr Speaker, the content of the President's address was in line with article 34 (2) of the Constitution. It focused on four main areas: the economy and jobs, healthcare and education, the state of our governance system and our work ethics and attitudes to time. Mr Speaker, in each case, the President laid bare to the nation the current conditions as they exist and how he intends to solve the problems at hand. The message was candid, precise, concise and focused on relevance. This is what the Message on the State of the Nation should be and this is what exactly the President delivered. Mr Speaker, on the state of the economy, the President divided his speech into three parts within the economy; public finances, the growth of the economy and job creation and the situation of the banks. Mr Speaker, in all these three important sectors, it is clear that the economy that this Government inherited from the past Government is not only faltering but it is in a very ugly state. Mr Speaker, our public finances are in bad state. The former Government left a huge amount of arrears which is to the tune of about GH¢7 billion because of unplanned expenditure. Revenue for 2016 was poor yet expenditures were higher than planned. As a result, our deficit which was high in the previous year continued to remain high. On cash basis, our deficit is about 9 per cent of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP). That is to say, those that we saw unpaid for -- But Mr Speaker, when one includes those we have committed to but have not paid, the deficit is about 10.2 per cent. These two deficit figures are far in excess of what we had agreed with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) which was 5.3 per cent. Mr Speaker, this high fiscal deficit was financed through borrowing just as the previous deficits since 2009. The result is that, the debt overhung is unbearable and the President told us, and most Members in the House know that in 2009, our debt stock was about GH¢9.5 million, but as he said and as we all acknowledged, it is GH¢122 billion at the end of 2016. Mr Speaker, it is not only the magnitude of the debt that is troubling but the annual interest payment on the debt is the most disturbing aspect of our finances. This year, it is estimated that we would pay about GH¢14 billion, an amount which is almost as high as all the salaries and wages that we pay to all government workers in this country -- very huge. Mr Speaker, once the Government pays its fixed and quasi State obligations such as wages and salaries and the statutory payments such as National Health Insurance, the Ghana Airport Company Limited (GACL) and the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund), what is left in our coffers is virtually zero - 0.4 per cent. As rightly pointed out by the President in 2007, these three expenditure lines will take 99.6 per cent of all that we have in our coffers. Mr Speaker, the situation has persisted over the years and that is the reason the previous Government had to borrow all the time; continued to borrow and got addicted to borrowing. But as you continue to borrow, the fiscal space continues to shrink because of the increases in the interest payments and then you would have to borrow again -- that is the source of the debt addiction of the previous Government. The country has been caught in a vicious cycle of debt addiction. Mr Speaker, he will do that without resorting to excess borrowing. [Interruption.] He will do that by not resorting to the addiction of borrowing. [Hear! Hear!]
Sit down! Sit down!
Mr Speaker, what we heard on Tuesday --
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister for Planning used the words, “excessive borrowing”. That expression, “excessive borrowing” is vague -- [Uproar.] It is vague in the sense that -- What does he define to be excessive? If he can be specific. If he says, “excessive borrowing”, at what level would the Government borrow which would not be described as excessive? Thank you.
Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I guess we had agreed that to a very large extent, we allow the debate to flow. Unless they relate to major issues, there may not be interventions. So, I guess this is one such intervention from the Hon Deputy Minority Leader.
Order! Hon Members, if we are going to look at any comparative word and make capital out of it, we shall be stagnant. “Excessive” may be an expression of opinion but it can come from either side. It is not offensive; it cannot be offensive and it does not break any rule. I would want Hon Members to know that they will also have their chance. Let us have a beautiful debate. I will not want interruptions from either side that may mar good debate. Hon Professor, you may continue.
Mr Speaker, what we heard on Tuesday was from a leader who understands the problems confronting this country and who is capable, poised and ready to solve them so that Ghanaians can enjoy a better and fuller life after years of decay, frustration and hopelessness. [Uproar.] Mr Speaker, the President told the whole world that this innovative approach to financing the 2017 Budget will be unveiled by his Minister for Finance when he appears before us in a short time. It may be less than in 10 days. At that point, he will present the Budget Statement and give answers to those who are doubting our ability to run this country without borrowing excessively. Mr Speaker, the President then shifted his attention to how he intends to create jobs. His focus will be on agriculture and industrialisation as the vehicles for delivering jobs to the people of this country, especially the youth. Mr Speaker, in addition to providing food locally and reducing imports of same, the Government will invest in agriculture to generate jobs for the youth and the investment will include irrigation facilities through the One Village, One Dam programme. [Hear! Hear!] Mr Speaker, this is to ensure an all-year- round farming in the northern part of the country and to prevent the migration from north to south. Mr Speaker, the next plan for job creation is industrialisation and this will begin with the processing of agricultural products. But in the short term, the measures to create jobs through industrialisation include the provision of a stimulus package to prop up distressed but viable businesses in the country to ensure that they improve their operations and employ more people. Mr Speaker, another one is the One District, One Factory programme where, at least, one industry would be established in all the 216 districts of this country. This innovative approach to industrialisation is aimed at ensuring balanced development which is in line with article 36(2) (d) of the 1992 Constitution. I am told one will be in Ketu. Mr Speaker, it is also an approach to decentralise job creation to minimise excessive migration from the districts to the central cities and to avoid the creation of slums in these areas. In the medium-term, jobs will be created through the implementation of a comprehensive programme for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) development and the business environment will also be improved through reforms, tax reduction and making energy available and affordable. Mr Speaker, in the long-term, jobs will be created through the development of strategic industries such as the establishment of heavy petrochemical industries and so on. In listening to the President, it became quite obvious that H.E. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo is indeed, prepared to deal headlong and resolve, once and for all, the ever present, ever disturbing youth employment problems in the country. Mr Speaker, the Energy sector is one sector of the economy that consumes a lot of our national resources. As we speak, the sector has a debt overhang to the tune of about US$2.4 billion. This debt overhang is a major problem which threatens reliable and affordable electricity supply. As indicated by the President, unless an innovative means is found, this problem will continue to saddle the sector for a very long time. The President indicated that his Government will explore the possibility of listing Volta River Authority (VRA) and Ghana Grid Company (GRIDCo) Limited on the stock exchange and also encourage private participation in the sector, especially in solar and wind energy. Mr Speaker, on education, the President's vision is to ensure quality and access for all children to basic education. Basic education was defined by the President as education from kindergarten up to Senior High School (SHS). In that light, the President was emphatic that the free SHS policy will begin admission in the 2017/2018 academic year. Mr Speaker, on health, the most important factor that prevents people from accessing health in this country is the cost. The National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) is the answer but this Scheme itself is not healthy. The President assured us and informed all Ghanaians that the Scheme will be restored to good health. Touching on national security, the President is prepared to make the Ghana Armed Forces combat ready by providing the necessary resources, which they need to do that.
Thank you very much.
Hon Member, do you rise on a point of order?
On a point of order. Mr Speaker, I would want to tell him on authority that the IMF left this country not too long ago. It is less than a week. The IMF met the Vice President, the Economic Management Team (EMT) and the Hon Minister for Finance. Mr Speaker, he has talked about a review. They have just left town, and I have the agreements they reached with the Government of Ghana in front of me.
Hon Member, you would go on in a moment. Hon Members, let us do a beautiful job without acrimony. Hon Member, you may please continue.
Mr Speaker, let me put on record that for the IMF to visit Ghana on a staff visit cannot be taken as a review mission. [Hear! Hear!] Mr Speaker, I am surprised he is talking like that. This is because he knows --
Hon Members, we can all be taught without shouting. Hon Member, you may make your point.
Mr Speaker, I have never been an Alternate Governor to the IMF. The Hon Deputy Minister for Finance, as he knows, is an Alternate Governor to the World Bank and not the IMF. He
Hon Member, you may continue. Yes, Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, we have an observation. It is important that we are guided by your guidance and ruling. This morning, we noted with satisfaction how you commenced Business because of a major debate on an important national assignment. I know that you had ruled, after which the Hon Majority Leader took the floor and said that we should avoid interjections. Mr Speaker, we respected that. My Hon Colleague, Hon Anthony Akoto Osei, is being recognised for the second time. Mr Speaker, let us be guided that if we want heckling to be part of it, let it be so. If it will not be part, it should be so. [Hear! Hear!] We would, therefore, want to respect each other. I think that what the Hon Majority Leader stated must be respected; except that on both sides, we should endeavour to be factual. Mr Speaker, but we should allow, as you guided, free flow of the debate. If an Hon Member has any information, they should wait until their opportunity comes. Let us respect the Rt Hon Speaker. I thought that I should make this point. Mr Speaker, you have my fullest support; but the interjections, no. We should let the
Order! Order! As much as possible, the debate would flow indeed. Hon Member, please you may continue.
Mr Speaker, also for the records, I was the Alternate Governor for the IMF between 2013 and 2016. Let me also say that since those of us in the Minority are not aware that the IMF has come for a review, I cannot agree that these performance criteria have indeed been met. Mr Speaker, I would also like to refer you to paragraph 4 -- [Interruption.]
Order! Order! Hon Member, that which you may not be aware of, you could be advised on by way of information on the floor of the House. Please, proceed.
Mr Speaker, thank you. I would refer you to page 4, paragraph 26, and with your permission, I beg to read the second sentence: “More debt was accumulated by the previous government in the last eight years than all other governments put together since independence! In fact, 92% of Ghana's total debt stock was incurred in the last eight years under the previous government.” Mr Speaker, again, I beg to say that this statement cannot be accurate. I say this because if I decide to accept the President's statement that indeed at the time they were leaving office, an amount of GH¢9.5 billion was left behind by the previous Administration in December 2008, then we should understand that that amount included an external component of the debt. Not all of that debt was in cedis. The simple analysis is that, if we assume that the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Administration failed to borrow over the last eight years, what would have been Ghana's debt today, as left by the New Patriotic Party (NPP)? The reality is that GH¢9.5 billion then and at an end period exchange rate at the time of 1.2141 equals to an amount of US$7,825.4 billion. Mr Speaker, out of this amount, we had debt that was external and in fact, the total external debt was US$4,308.20 billion. This amount includes the Eurobond that is due this year that we would have to pay, and if we are making payments of the US$4.3 billion as borrowed by the NPP, including the Eurobond in 2007, the reality is that you would not change in Ghana cedis at a rate of 1.2141 to the US dollar. Mr Speaker, you would use today's rate to convert it into US dollars and pay. Let us understand that that static analysis does not work in economic management. We should factor in inflation and where possible, deflate it. Mr Speaker, I wish to say that in today's terms, that GH¢9.5 billion as left by the NPP could be translated in today's value to mean that it would be GH¢32.71 billion out of the GH¢122 billion. Mr Speaker, therefore, on the amount in question of GH¢122 billion, the NPP left behind GH¢32 billion of the GH¢122 billion. This cannot be only eight per cent of the total amount but this indeed, translates to 27 per cent. Therefore, that statement is misleading. Let us also understand that under the NPP because of the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) and multi-donor relief initiatives, there were huge amounts of in- flows that are not counted as part of this status debt stock. Mr Speaker, to be specific, almost US$4 billion came in as reliefs and this US$4 billion would have been added to the debt stock because the NPP would have borrowed anyway. So, that statement is quite misleading. Mr Speaker, I would move to the next point. His Excellency the President in delivering the State of the Nation Address mentioned emphatically that the debt to GDP is 74 per cent. He did not leave it there but he went ahead to say that the real GDP growth for 2016 is 3.6 per cent. Mr Speaker, I am not aware that the Ghana Statistical Service has announced the real GDP growth for the year 2016. The Ghana Statistical Service, as we speak, is working on it. The 3.6 per cent could only be provisional, and for the records, it is important that we say that the 3.6 per cent is provisional. Mr Speaker, if he had said “provisional”, then I would not have gone there but because he was emphatic with 3.6 per cent and he went further to say that this is the worst in 23 years, let me also say that in 1994, the real GDP growth was indeed 3.3 per cent, and from 1994 to 2016 cannot be 23 years. It is 22 years, so, next time, he should be accurate. Mr Speaker, let me also say that often times, the argument of our Hon Brothers opposite has always been the fact that growth is actually declining. We could only assess the Government based on performance over a period. The NDC ruled for eight years and I challenge our Hon Colleagues to judge us on how we grew the economy in the last eight years and compare it to their records.
in 2001, the real GDP growth was 4.1 per cent. In 2008; the real GDP growth was 4.5 per cent; in 2003, the real GDP growth was 5.2 per cent; in 2005, it was 5.8 per cent; in 2006, it was 6.1 per cent; in 2007, it was 4.3 per cent and the real GDP growth in 2008, was 9.1 per cent. Mr Speaker, this means that over the eight years under the NPP, the average of the real GDP growth was 5.6 per cent and I am judging them by their records. These are facts. Mr Speaker, in 2013, the real GDP growth was 7.3 per cent. In 2015, it moved to 3.8 per cent. Even if I decide today -- [Uproar] -- to agree with the President --
Even if I decide today to agree with the President, that the provisional GDP growth for 2016 is 3.6 per cent, this would give us an average of 6.8 per cent. So, Mr Speaker, if I am to compare the performance of my Brothers on the other side of the House to the performance of us here, eight years to eight years, they grew the GDP on average at a rate of 5.6 per cent as compared to NDC's 6.8 per cent. So, in terms of economic performance, we are far superior than our Colleagues. Mr Speaker, let me move on.
Hon Member, you have had an additional five minutes. You have had more time, your Colleagues would continue, so, if you would please wind up.
Mr Speaker, let me also say that I was surprised to see, after reading through the President's State of the Nation Address, to know that certain key economic indicators are missing. Mr Speaker, whether they were deliberate or not, I cannot judge. What we are saying here is that if you want Ghanaians to know the true state of the economy, do not pick and choose. Give Ghanaians the full indices, so that we would be able to judge exactly what the true state of the economy is. Mr Speaker, one major thing that was missing is inflation. The rate of inflation is falling steadily. At the time we were leaving office, inflation --
Hon Member, thank you very much -- [Interruption]-- Order! Hon Members shall have 10 minutes each.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, our economy has been in a mess for a very long time. It started the moment President Mahama took over in 2012. You would recall that in 2014, they invited us to Senchi. We did not go because we knew nothing good was going to come out of Senchi. Then they continued to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). As a matter of fact, it was the Vice President, His Excellency Alhaji Dr Mahamudu Bawumia who advised the NDC to go to the IMF, and they did. So, going to the IMF itself was not a bad thing. But we do not just go to the IMF. Mr Speaker, if you go to the IMF and enter into a programme, there are a set of objectives that you seek to achieve. The current three-year extended credit facility programme with the Fund has the following objectives; One, to restore debt sustainability. Two, to restore macro stability. Three, to return to high growth and job creation, and Four, to rebuild external buffers. So, in 2014, we started discussions with the IMF and entered into a programme in April of 2015. The programme seeks to achieve these objectives, so one, if the programme seeks to restore debt sustainability, let us see the numbers before we join the programme. In 2014, the debt to GDP ratio was 70.2 per cent, and they entered into a programme with the IMF that sought to restore debt sustainability. By the end of 2016, debt to GDP ratio was 74 per cent. So they are in a programme that seeks to restore debt sustainability, they have moved from 70 per cent before they joined the programme to 74 per cent as of now. Mr Speaker, the programme also sought to restore macro stability. Before we entered the programme, the fiscal deficit in 2012 was 11.5 per cent. Then they did 10.1 per cent in 2013 and then 10.2 per cent in 2014, three committees years of double digit deficit, unprecedented in this country. So, they entered the IMF programme. Under the programme, they are to restore macro stability. We were expecting them to do 5.3. This year, the deficit is 9 per cent, on a commitment basis, 10.2 per cent. They were supposed to return the economy to high growth and job creation. GDP growth has been 4.0 in 2014, 3.9 last year, this year 3.6. So, to start with why did we enter the IMF programme? It has been a complete waste of everybody's time by joining the IMF programme. They joined a programme to restore debt sustainability, to restore macro stability, and we have not achieved any of these. Mr Speaker, now let me address this voodoo economics that the Hon Member did with the debts. The debt at the end of 2008 was not the debt accumulated by the New Patriotic Party (NPP). It has been debt from Kwame Nkrumah, through Acheampong, to Busia and everybody, that is, GH¢9.5 billion. In 51 years of Ghana's existence, the debt was Gh¢9.5 billion. Now they have bequeathed this country -- in eight years, they have moved the debt from GH¢9.5 billion to GH¢122 billion. They have added 112 billion. Mr Speaker, I listened to the press conference the Minority side of the House did yesterday. Do you know what they are doing now? They have taken the GH¢9.5 billion and have used the exchange rate of 2008, and they are telling us the debt is GH¢8.5 billion. That 9.5 billion adds up to the 122 billion. Now you take the GH¢122 billion, of which the GH¢9.5 billion is part and they are using the current exchange rate. Mr Speaker, what they should be doing is that if they take the 2009 debt, the addition to the debt stock in 2009 was GH¢3.7 billion, they must use the exchange rate at the time and dollarise it. If they go to 2010, they must take the debt
Mr Speaker, the former Deputy Minister mentioned inflation. For starters, the President was not here to deliver a Budget Statement. It was a State of the Nation Address. Mr Speaker, granted that he did not mention inflation, inflation at the end of 2016 was 15.8 per cent. Under the programme with the Fund, they were supposed to achieve a single digit inflation. Should we applaud their effort for ending at 15.8 per cent? Not a single indicator has been met under the IMF programme. Mr Speaker, the President mentioned, and I would repeat it here, that we have uncovered 7 billion new arrears. This was not disclosed to the transitional team -- [Interruption.] -- 11. 20 p. m.
Hon Members, any Hon Member, who is unduly interrupted would be credited with interruptions' time. [Interruption] Hon Member, please continue.
Mr Speaker, this GH¢7 billion uncovered was not disclosed to the transitional team. It was only when we interrogated the fiscal data that we realised that some GH¢7 billion had been hidden somewhere. As a matter of fact, this is criminal, and if we go into the Public Financial Management Act, some processes have been circumvented, and we would re-visit this matter in due course. Mr Speaker, what is serious is that the arrears span the period, 2014 to 2016, which means that when we started negotiations with the Fund, there was not full disclosure. Granted that the arrears span 2015 to 2016, when we were under the Programme, we were not supposed to accumulate new arrears. So, somebody sat at the Ministry of Finance, and hid this from the purview of the books of Government. Mr Speaker, if we look at interest rates, they mentioned that now, Treasury Bill rate hovered around 16 per cent. They do not tell us the truth. When they go for auction, they do not take all the bills that come in. The Eurobond, which is supposed to go to finance infrastructural programmes are then added on to the moneys that they need from auction. So, the Monetary Policy Rate itself -- the rate at which banks borrow from the Central Bank -- is 25.5 per cent. We should therefore not be fooled that Treasury Bill rates are actually 16 per cent. They are not. They massage the numbers, and that is why the Treasury Bill rate hovers around 16 per cent right now.
Hon Members, order!
Mr Speaker, on exchange rate, under the National Democratic Congress (NDC), our currency was the worst performing currency in all of Sub-Saharan Africa. Thank God that good managers of the economy have come. [Hear! Hear!] As indicated earlier, the Budget would come in next week, a week today, and we would roll out programmes for them to see that incompetence and mismanagement have no place under the Akufo-Addo Government.
Thank you very much, Hon Member. I would now call on the Hon Armah- Kofi Buah.
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to contribute to the Motion ably moved and supported by Hon Gyan-Baffour and Hon Ato Forson. Mr Speaker, let me begin with a thanks to His Excellency the President, for acknowledging the dignity, grace and statesmanship with which the former President, John Dramani Mahama -- [Hear! Hear!] -- led the transition, which has become the admiration of the world, and to urge this Government to act decisively to deal with the lawlessness that has since been happening, and we stand the risk of marring all those achievements that we have gained. Mr Speaker, I would also want to mention something that His Excellency the President stated in passing, and it had to do with an issue that is rooted in our history. It had to do with how we celebrate our founders, how we celebrate our heroes, and how we need to settle on this matter. Mr Speaker, I completely agree with the President. Indeed, a lot of heroes emerged from Ghana's Independence, and we must celebrate them, especially the Big Six. Mr Speaker, the President also began the story of the Energy Sector, by announcing to Ghanaians that they have inherited a net debt of US$2.4 billion as at December 2016, and that US$800 million of that debt is owed to Ghanaian banks. What the President did not add, was the span of the debt that has been created. Let me make it clear, that this is not a debt that has just been created in the last four years. This debt spans four governments, including the eight years of the National Patriotic Party's (NPP) Government. Mr Speaker, if we would recall, in 2009, our late President, John Evans Atta Mills stood in this House and recalled the opepepepee that has been left for the NDC in the energy sector. Mr Speaker, it is important that we understand how we came to this debt, and what the NDC Government had done to deal with this debt; why this debt was accumulated. Firstly, we know that when we came, we started off, we had so much hydro that we did not know what to do with it. We even supplied electricity to our neighbouring countries. In fact, Benin calls electricity Akosombo. That is how much power we had. But over the years, we were giving subsidies. There were subsidies on kerosene, petrol, marine gas oil -- subsidies on everything.
Hon Members, Order!
Mr Speaker, it is very clear to us that this energy sector --
Hon Member, Order! Despite the free flow, specific references to other Hon Members would call for specific responses if necessary.
Hon Dr Akoto Osei?
Mr Speaker, this is a House of records. If one would want to quote someone, then they should quote the person correctly. I have never used those words. He could go and check the Hansard. We supported the move they brought, so, why does he want to mislead the public that I made those statements? I believe that he should withdraw.
Mr Speaker, I think that the Hon Member said that he would go to court. I would withdraw the “nuisance” part, because it has been quoted to me. But I know that he said that he would go to court. The NPP had a clear position, that the people of Ghana know -- they said that it was a nuisance tax. That is a fact.
Hon Member, did I hear you say that you were withdrawing?
Mr Speaker, I have withdrawn it. I am happy that today -- [Interruption.]
Mr Speaker, for the avoidance of doubt, I did threaten to take the Hon Member to court, because as of now, their Government never brought the IMF programme to this House. That is why -- [Interruption.]
Mr Speaker, this country and this House will know us for what we are. I am happy that today the energy levy is not a nuisance. Mr Speaker, those were the bold measures that we took and I recall that by August 2016, as the then Minister for Finance put it, we had accumulated GH¢350 million and GH¢250 million of that was used as a down payment to negotiate with the banking sector. So it is in reference to the collapse of the banking sector. This must have been told to the people of Ghana. The steps have been taken already. Mr Speaker, it is very clear that a lot of work has been done to address this issue. If this Government says to the people of Ghana that the foundation that has been laid by the NDC is a prudent one and will be continued, we accept that. But they must understand that this is not a problem that was created solely by the NDC. Secondly, Mr Speaker, clearly missing in the President's Address was a very important aspect of the energy sector. Mr Speaker, we know that in the next 10 years, what Ghana would use is not hydro; it is thermal power. Do we want to know the importance of that project? Today, we are wobbling and dumsor is rearing its ugly head because Ghana Gas is down, because Jubilee fields is under repairs. Mr Speaker, we did not stop there. We worked tirelessly on the Sankofa-Gye Nyame project -- [Interruption]. That project was condemned here when the Prime Minister of Italy was here.
Thank you, Mr Speaker --
Mr Speaker, Sankofa-Gye Nyame will bring additional 180 million standard cubic feet of gas -- [Interruption.]
Order! Hon Minister, we were operating on a different parameter until you arrived. Kindly wait -- Order! Hon Member, you may continue.
Mr Speaker, I will continue. Mr Speaker, we often knew as a Government that in all these efforts, the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) was a critical piece in the value chain, and if it was not strong, the value chain from Ghana Grid Company (GRIDco) to Volta River Authority (VRA) to Ghana Gas all the way to the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) would not be strong. The energy sector would not be strong, so, we embarked on a massive reform. We negotiated a compact with the Millennium Challenge Corporation. Mr Speaker, with US$500 million promised to basically transform ECG. Mr Speaker, at the time, what was said --
Hon Member, conclude.
Mr Speaker, I am concluding. Mr Speaker, lastly, the President indicated in his Address that VRA and GRIDco would be listed on the Ghana Stock Exchange. Mr Speaker, what does that mean? Is that the code word for privatisation? I hope not. But Mr Speaker, we are ready and listening and understanding what this means and the people of Ghana are ready to engage in this discussion.
Mr Speaker, thank you for giving me this opportunity to contribute to the debate on the Message on the State of the Nation delivered by H.E. President Nana Akufo-Addo on 21st February, 2017. Mr Speaker, please, permit me to firstly congratulate the President of the Republic for his inspiring maiden State of the Nation Address, which was eloquently delivered to this august House with style and substance. Mr Speaker, the clarity and tidiness of the President's vision was remarkable to say the least. In January 2009, a new NDC Government took the reins of power in this country in a dumsor-free Republic. But contrary to the Directive Principles of State Policy, Chapter 6 of the Constitution, precisely article 35 (7), a provision which enjoins Government to as far as practicable continue the projects and programmes of previous governments -- The NDC Government jettisoned significant projects in the energy sector that had been initiated by the Kufour Administration. Mr Speaker, a case in point is the Kpong thermal power plant. This 220 megawatts project was started in 2008 with the completion slated for 2009. Mr Speaker, 25 per cent of the civil works had been completed when the NPP lost power. Indeed, all the machinery had arrived and were in a warehouse in the country but the project was abandoned until 2014 when dumsor had taken root in the country before the NDC Government resuscitated the project from its comatose state. Needless to say Mr Speaker, this incurred additional cost to the nation. The NDC Government having failed to plan for adequate power supply under the Presidency of H.E. John Mahama, in an attempt to mitigate the dumsor phenomenon resorted to the procurement of emergency power at a huge cost to the nation. The rule of thumb in the power industry, Mr Speaker, the equivalence, normally for about US$100 million would be equivalent to about 100 megawatts. Unfortunately, an example like the AMERI power plant, was far in excess of the rule. Clearly, there was something very wrong with the procurement process. Mr Speaker, I must add that though the then Government put in place some short term measures to reduce the burden brought about by the energy crises, in November last year. As indicated by President Akufo-Addo in his State of the Nation Address, the situation is far from over. Mr Speaker, this is in sharp contrast to what the then President Mahama indicated to us when he stood us before this august House in 2015, during his State of the Nation Address and stated; Mr Speaker with your permisssion, I would quote; “Successive Governments in the past have tried to manage the situation. But I do not intend to manage it but to fix it”. Mr Speaker, from the reality today, it is an undeniable fact that those words by the then President were just a mere rhetoric as the situation was only temporarily managed. 11. 40 a. m.
On a point of order.
Order! Hon Member, you may continue.
Thank you. Mr Speaker, tariff regimes in Ghana are the highest in the sub-region and probably the highest in Africa. This again is as a result of this very murky procurement process that was put in place by the previous Government, presided over by His Excellency, John Dramani Mahama. Mr Speaker, there is no gainsaying the fact that energy is the blood of industry and indeed, the cultural and social lives of modern social beings. Industry has borne the brunt of poor planning by the previous Administration. A large number of honest Ghanaian workers have lost their jobs. They have been laid off in their numbers as a direct result of dumsor. Households have not thrived any better. Households have had to incur additional cost in the replacement of electrical gadgets which has added to the suffering of the poor Ghanaian.
Mr Speaker, the President in outlining certain pragmatic measures that are tailored towards, first, ensuring efficiency and effective management, transparency in utility pricing and procurement processes; and two, improvement and availability of power and the reduction of the debt portfolio through creative financing of the debt stock would go a long way to ameliorate the problems that we suffer from the Energy sector. The President also alluded to giving maximum boost to --
Hon Member, two minutes more. You have two minutes left of your ten minutes.
To give a maximum boost to renewable energy in the energy mix. This again would go a long way to bring down the tariff that is burdening the Ghanaian industry and the Ghanaian populace at large. Mr Speaker, in conclusion, the President's resolve to conduct a review of all the Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) entered into by the previous Government would go a very long way to reduce the tariffs regime that persists at this very time in this country. I hope as a result, Ghanaian industries would have a full benefit of it which would make them competitive, and households would benefit from it to reduce the burden that is afflicting --
Thank you, Hon Member. Hon Fifi Kwetey? You have ten minutes.
Mr Speaker, in doing so, I wish to acknowledge that it is a beautiful thing when you have a former Member of Parliament ascending to the high seat of Presidency. It does honour to us, and this is back to back from President Mahama to now President Akufo-Addo. And in their deliveries, you can clearly see that these are people who have been in this House and therefore understand the chemistry of this House. And it was beautiful to see. Mr Speaker, I noted also that our President indicated very clearly that he is a man in a hurry and I took a very good note of that statement. It would be interesting to know whether he meant that he is clearly aware that he has exactly four years and after four years the Government of NDC would be back again. -- [Hear! Hear!] So, he indicates that he is in a hurry to make sure he finishes his four years very quickly, and we wish him well.
On a point of Order. Mr Speaker, my Hon Colleague, Hon Fifi Kwetey appears to be somewhere else, very uncharacteristic of him. He first began by saying that he wanted to second the Motion; a Motion that had been seconded already. [Interruptions] --
Mr Speaker, now he makes a very dangerous statement --
A very dangerous statement. Our Hon Colleague says emphatically that the NDC would come back after four years. Mr Speaker, he did not say that they may be back, he said they would be back, willingly -- [Interruptions]-- Mr Speaker, that is a very dangerous statement. It means that the Hon Colleague has something under his sleeves that is not known to this country. That willingly, after four years, the NDC is coming back; they will come back. Mr Speaker, this statement must be closely examined. And the Hon Member would do himself a world of good, if he explains in annotated diagrams, what he means by the NDC will be back after four years.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. I continue to say that the President needs to hurriedly come down from the mountain -- [Interruptions.]
The President needs to hurriedly come down from the mountain of promises to the plain of reality. And in that plain of reality, the President needs to acknowledge that even though he met an economy that obviously faces
Mr Speaker, the President is not inheriting an economy that has had twenty percentage plus depreciation as the predecessor Government had in 2009. So, that clearly shows that the President has a much smoother run than the predecessor Government. Mr Speaker, the President did not inherit an economy that had 20 per cent plus depreciation as the predecessor Government had in 2009. That clearly shows that the President has a smoother run than the predecessor Government. The President did not inherit an economy that has 18 per cent inflation that is going up towards 21 per cent as the predecessor Government had in 2009. Obviously, that can only be a smoother run for the President. The President is obviously not inheriting a deficit of nearly 15 per cent on cash basis and on commitment basis, 22 per cent as happened in 2009 as the predecessor Government had. Mr Speaker, the President did not inherit a situation where fiscal overrun was missed by over 10 per cent as happened in 2008. The President is missing his fiscal overrun which is meant to be about 5.3 per cent and ending up 9 per cent. This is far better than the situation in 2009.
On a point of order. Mr Speaker, this is a House of record. He has been in Government. The fact is that, in 2008, the deficit was not 15 per cent. It was 6.5 per cent and it is all in the records. Whether rebase or not, officially, the NDC Government cited that. Why is the Hon Member misleading this House? He needs to withdraw.
Mr Speaker, for the information of our Hon Colleague -- [Interruptions.]
Order! Order! Hon Member, please, you may continue.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker.
I invoked the order for you.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. In 2009 and 2010, when the Budget Statement was presented in this House, the records showed that at the end of 2008, the fiscal deficit stood at over 14 per cent; about 15 per cent. That is the record in this House and it can be verified. So, doing rebasing and wanting to go back to change deficit and pronounce it today, that is not the reality. Mr Speaker, I also want to indicate that the President in 2017 inherited gross reserves of over US$5.4 billion, as opposed to the predecessor Government that in 2009, inherited gross reserves of US$2 billion. This was at a time where in terms of import cover, it could barely cover 1.8 months. Obviously, the President does not have a lot to complain about. This is because the situation today is far better than it was in 2009. I also wish to indicate that in terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) outlook, the President would benefit from a Government that has laid foundations. Those foundations are acknowledged by the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and all financial markets that Ghana's growth outlook for 2017 is going to be in the region of 7 to 8 per cent. That obviously is a great time to take over Government as a result of the great job that had been done by the previous Government. Mr Speaker, I also wish to signal that in terms of -- The President mentioned that they find themselves in a situation where three Budget items have literally taken up the entire revenue of Ghana. This is such that, when we take public sector wage, interest payments and amortisation, and you add it to statutory payments, that works to over 99 per cent. That may be done. Let me remind the President that, between 2013 and 2014, if we added those three together, we were looking at over 115 per cent to sometimes, 120 per cent. So, the situation the President has met today is clearly a better situation than the previous Government which did not just meet but fixed it. So, it would be good to let the President understand that even though he is in a hurry, that hurry must begin by acknowledging that, a solid foundation has been laid for him that is supposed to help him move his race on. Mr Speaker, I wish to also indicate that the President has taken over a country that has got unprecedented investment and economic infrastructure. At no time in our history could we talk of entities like Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) and Ghana Airports Company Ltd. (GACL) strong enough to stand on their own balance sheets and leverage financing in the region of over US$1.5 billion. We left that legacy, and that is a beautiful time to take over. So, the President cannot talk about an economy which is in a bad way when their Government, in 2008, left this country in a much more deleterious and debilitating condition. That simply cannot be the truth. Mr Speaker, it is also important to say that the President must clearly be in a hurry to make sure that he does not run away from the promises that he made. He must be in a hurry to deliver those promises and remove the energy levy as he has promised. No excuses would be good enough. He must be in a hurry to ensure that, commitment to the District Assemblies Common Fund, which is 7.5 per cent of tax revenue, should not in any way be undermined. The Commitment to the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund) and National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) should all be guaranteed and we must see the President showing that hurry.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. I rise to contribute to the Motion, and as much as possible, unlike my Hon Colleague who just spoke, move away from propaganda. Mr Speaker, we are Members of Parliament. Every day we go to our constituencies, we see certain things we do not like and we ought to think about how to change them, not because you are NDC or NPP. Let me tell my Hon Colleagues why it is important that we do not do propaganda. Mr Speaker, the Hon Member just spoke about infrastructure, that they have done unprecedented infrastructure. If you took Economics 101, it would tell you that you do not do infrastructure for doing sake. There is a reason you engage in infrastructure and that reason is simple - - to engender growth.
Mr Speaker, when former President Mahama took over from the late President Atta Mills, economic performance was 14.4 per cent and for the purpose of argument, I would grant him that Prof. Atta Mills was able to move the economy from 9 per cent to 14.4 per cent, even though former President Kufuor discovered oil. I do not have a problem with that. Former President Mahama comes in 2012. What is it? As he said, 9.3 per cent and they are doing infrastructure. They are supposed to engender growth but they are coming down. In 2013, Mahama did more infrastructure, economic growth,
Order! Order! Hon Second Deputy Speaker?
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, my Senior Colleague is totally correct; President Mahama. That notwithstanding, my Hon Colleagues have talked about unprece- dented infrastructure, so we ought to see growth go up. That is not where you and I ought to look at. These are facts. I appreciate the fact that when one is not in Government, one does not have access to information, but I would pass it over. Mr Speaker, on a more serious note, the problem is not just lower growth. The problem is that, lower growth translates into unprecedented unemployment and underemployment which you would find in Old Tafo, and Ketu and the Hon Member's place. When you go there and a young man who has read BSc in Engineering is working at the filling station, not doing engineering, do you feel good? We politicians should not do propaganda. Clearly, growth going down does not help you and me. So, the question is, if we do not stop this trend, what would happen? That is why the people of Ghana decided that abaaba see, to wit “coming back”; they cannot follow again. That is the essence of the elections. So, they should not think that they can automatically come back on this record. No way. What we have to look at is how we would turn it around so that, when we visit all our constituencies, we can tell them that next year, growth would go up to 6.3 per cent, therefore, there would be employment. Mr Speaker, they talked about 7.8 per cent. Where did they get that from? We should be clear in our minds. This is why the President said that a week from today, the Hon Minister for Finance would come and tell us the innovative ways that we would engender growth so that when we go to our constituencies, we can give hope to all these teeming masses of the unemployed. Mr Speaker, I dare any of them to go to their constituencies and tell the young women who do not work that things are all right. That would be the height of hypocrisy. They should be interested in how growth would come so that all of us can go back without fear of being attacked. Mr Speaker, this is a serious matter. As an Hon Member of the Economic Management Team, I am privy to what the Hon Minister for Finance would tell us on Thursday. I can assure them that most of them who are serious would like it. This is because we would want to be able to go back and say that, through the establishment of One District, One Factory in our districts and constituencies, somebody would be employed. Mr Speaker, it would take innovation -- prudence and monitoring and evaluation -- [Laughter] -- what I hope we all agree on is that, the situation cannot be good for us. The reason the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Programme is off track is indiscipline. It is not indiscipline on the part of the Hon Minister for Finance, it is indiscipline on the part of the players who spend money by circumventing the fiscal thing. How can they say that they have now seen US$7 billion? It is completely irresponsible. We should not praise anybody who does that; whether it is New Patriotic Party (NPP) or National Democratic Congress (NDC). It is completely irresponsible, and that is what we should look at -- that excessive expenditures not authorised by this House would not be countenanced. This is the kind of fiscal discipline the Hon Minister for Finance would demonstrate when he reads the Budget Statement on Thursday so that we can see our way forward. All the indicators have gone in the wrong direction. How can they say that their target was 5.3 per cent and then it ended up at 9 per cent? [Interruption.] It cannot be good, and he as a former Hon Deputy Minister for Finance should not talk. This is because it happened on his watch. He is my good friend but he cannot say that it is good for Ghana.
On a point of order. Mr Speaker, I respect your guidance and ruling, but my Hon Senior Colleague just referred to my Hon Colleague, Ato Forson who was the former Hon Deputy Minister for Finance, and pointed at him that he should not talk. Mr Speaker, the former Hon Deputy Minister for Finance is an elected representative, and his primary role is to deliberate and talk on issues. I know you would not support Hon Dr A. A. Osei to gag the former Hon Deputy Minister for Finance, and that he has no gagging orders. He must respect that and proceed further and endeavour to share information that he has.
Mr Speaker, I thank my Hon Minority Leader. The reason I referred to him is that he is my Friend. He knows and I also know that, a deficit of 9 per cent cannot be good for Ghana. That is a fact and we cannot run away from those facts, that if one moves from 14. 4 per cent to 3.6 per cent, it is not good for us. That was all I said. There should be a consensus that the trend must be reversed. So, if Hon Fifi Kwetey says that the President inherited a good foundation, it is false. Does he mean that when he goes to his constituency and sees all those teeming unemployed people, he would say the economy is good? If I were with them -- I do not want to use the word I want to use for him. But he should not be happy. That is why we are here. Mr Speaker, I would crave the indulgence of my Hon Colleagues that we should leave the propaganda aside and accept the facts as they are, and as the
President put it to us that the state of the nation is not good. How would we help the Hon Minister for Finance --
Hon Member, please, conclude.
Mr Speaker, in conclusion, the question is, how would we as Hon Members of Parliament help Ghana change things around?
Yes, Hon James Agalga?
Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to contribute to the debate. Mr Speaker, I would want to make reference to the President's remarks about the state of lawlessness that engulfed this country after the smooth handing over was done by ex-President Mahama. Mr Speaker, H. E. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo poured his lamentations in condemning the wrongdoing that ensued. He also talked about equalisation and that the violence that was witnessed could be a product of equalisation because similar incidents happened in 2009 and have been repeated in 2017. Mr Speaker, H. E. the President proceeded to say that he issued standing orders to the former Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Mr John Kudalor, and the current IGP, Mr David Asante-Apeatu, to deal with the issue of lawlessness. He concluded by stating clearly that the situation was now under control. Mr Speaker, with due respect to H. E. the President, I would wish to draw the attention of this House to the fact that the incidence of lawlessness has not been curtailed in the face of the standing orders of H. E. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to his IGP. Mr Speaker, only yesterday, it was reported in the Citi FM news that a group notoriously known as “Kandahar boys” an affiliate of the NPP -- [Hear! Hear!] - - stormed the Tamale Teaching Hospital and locked up the offices of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of that hospital. Mr Speaker, it is also important to draw the attention of this House to the fact that --
On a point of order. Mr Speaker, the former Hon Deputy Minister for the Interior should withdraw what he said. If he cannot prove that “Kandahar boys” is an affiliate of the NPP, then he should withdraw and apologise to the good people of Ghana who elected H. E. the President on the ticket of the NPP. Who are the “Kandahar boys”? He should prove to us.
Hon Member, you have made specific reference to some group. You have alleged that, it is an affiliate of a known political party. If you cannot provide evidence of that affiliation now, please, then withdraw and continue.
Mr Speaker, I gave the source of my informat ion tha t , yesterday --
Hon Member, go by the rules of this House. It is either you provide the evidence or you withdraw.
Mr Speaker, with the greatest respect, the information can be accessed on Citi FM online.
Hon Members, that is not our rule or practice. You would have to provide appropriate evidence or withdraw. You can be advised by other senior Hon Members.
Mr Speaker, I withdraw, but at the appropriate time, I can furnish the House with the evidence —
Hon Member, I will not take that from both sides of the House. Withdraw and proceed.
Mr Speaker, I withdraw. Mr Speaker, I further wish to draw the attention of the House to the fact that, only on Saturday, the vehicle of a Member of this House, Hon Alex Adomako- Mensah, the Hon Member for Sekyere Afram Plains was seized by men suspected to be elements or operatives of the National Security outfit without just cause. We are saying that H. E. the President should take note of these happenings and issue stern orders to his security apparatus to deal with the issue squarely. Mr Speaker, additionally, it is important that the taskforce that was set up by the Chief of Staff to retrieve “stolen assets belonging to the State” be made known, so that criminals do not take advantage of the existence of such a taskforce to unleash mayhem on the unsuspecting public. Mr Speaker, I wish to make an allusion to the Statement of the President, which was one that sought to commend this House for the expeditious manner in which his Ministerial nominees were vetted. Yes, this Honourable House deserves some commendation. But I recall that in 2012, when H. E. President John Dramani Mahama was elected as President of the Republic and came out with a list of his nominees -- Mr Speaker, let me turn my attention to the call by the President for setting up of an Independent or Special Prosecutor's Office to deal with corruption in this country. As a party, we welcome the initiative. He should bring it on. But I wish to remind H.E the President, that, article 88 of the 1992 Constitution is very clear. Mr Speaker, the Office of an Independent Prosecutor is not new to some of the jurisdictions that we draw inspiration from. And I would make reference to the United States. The United States has experimented with the Office of an Independent Prosecutor. There have been some shortcomings that we can draw inspiration from. Mr Speaker, we support the initiative. It should come on, but I state that the position of the Special Prosecutor should truly be independent. In the United States, Justice Scalia had an opportunity to
Bonsu — rose
Yes, Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, when you grant the opportunity to any Member to address this House in a debate or any intervention, the person addresses the Rt Hon Speaker. It cannot be right, that a Member on his feet, would stick his finger at the Rt Hon Speaker — [Uproar] — Hon Members should learn what is decorous and not say, “come on” — We should have regard when the Leader is talking — A former Deputy Minister says, “come on”. Let it show that we are trained and have good upbringing. We should be decorous in this House. That is all that I seek to say.
Hon Member, you would take advice on parliamentary practices and continue.
Mr Speaker, with the greatest respect to the Hon Majority Leader, I did not point my finger at the Rt Hon Speaker as a sign of disrespect. Mr Speaker, he used words that are unparliamentary — That I should be properly trained. With the greatest respect to the Hon Majority Leader, he should withdraw those words. Those words are unparliamentary and he should withdraw them.
Hon Member, just control your hands and proceed — [Uproar!] Order!
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity. I shall restrain myself in the course of the debate. Mr Speaker, I want to draw the attention of this House to Justice Scalia's admonishing in Morison vrs Olson, that is, an American Supreme Court decision. Mr Speaker, Justice Scalia's dissented view, was to the effect that, we must take note of how an over-zealot and an uncountable independent State Prosecutor could unleash havoc on the authority of the Executive if care was not taken. Therefore, in as much as we are ready and welcome the idea to set up the Office of the Independent Prosecutor, we need to know from H. E. the President, whether he would amend article 88 or merely introduce a legislation which would make the Office of the Independent Prosecutor subservient to the Attorney-General. If that is his intendment, with due respect, I say that, we would merely duplicate State agencies, and we all know the attendant implications in terms of cost on our national budget. Therefore, we need to take note of all these things, in crafting a legislation. When the legislation comes before this Honourable House, we shall debate it. Mr Speaker, let me touch on my very last point and conclude. Mr Speaker, H. E. the President talked about retooling the Ghana Armed Forces, so that their combat readiness is not in question. He also talked about continuing with the recruitment drive that the administration of former President John Dramani Mahama had started, to ensure that we reach the benchmark of the United Nations of one police officer to 500 civilians (1:500).
Thank you very much.
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity.
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity. Mr Speaker, I am happy to hear this morning from the Hon Member from Ellembelle that, Dr Kwame Nkrumah played the foremost role but there were other founding members. So, it is indicative and very established that, indeed, we have other founding members of this country, and they need to be celebrated as such. Let me, at this time, commend His Excellency the President for his bold and progressive initiatives announced in the State of the Nation Address to tackle the power sector challenges which pose significant threats to the stability of the sector and the economy as a whole. Mr Speaker, the President clearly established that there is an important connection between reliable power and affordable power. It is true that power is expensive in Ghana and it is virtually impossible for Ghanaian businessmen and women operating at the average rate of 42 cents per kilowat hour to be competitive comparable to the West African average rate of 15 cent per kilowatt hour. Mr Speaker, it is clear --
Hon Members, let us have a clean debate, please. Order! Hon Member, would you please continue?
Mr Speaker, thank you for calming them down.
Hon Member, would you continue?
Mr Speaker, it is on this note that H. E. the President is in a hurry to review the existing power Agreements.
The Hon Member is reading.
Mr Speaker, the bold decision taken by H. E. to review the existing power Agreements cannot be shelved in anyway.
Hon Members, we agreed to let the debate flow and it would flow. Hon Member, would you continue?
Mr Speaker, thank you once more. The combined effect of debts and excess capacity resulting from the numerous power agreements signed could be hazardous as it has been clearly indicated by the Bank of Ghana and the World Bank as well. The World Bank has estimated that about US$2.5 billion would be inherited from excess capacity charges alone.
Hon Members, the Hon First Deputy Speaker would take the Chair.
MR FIRST DEPUTY SPEAKER
Hon Member on your feet, would you please continue?
He is reading.
Mr Speaker, once I read and come up with facts, I would continue. [Uproar!] Mr Emmmanuel K. Bedzrah -- rose
Mr Speaker, I come under Standing Order 89; we all know the rules of this House, that when one is debating a Statement, either the State of the Nation Address or any debate at all, Standing Order 89 says that, one can only refresh one's memory with one's notes. But I can see my Hon Colleague copiously reading his notes. And he even said that he was reading his notes -- We all agree that he is a first timer but he should, at least, take a cue, so that he would not copiously read all his materials today. Thank you.
Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, there is no provision in our Standing Orders which forbids a Member from reading, except to say that, Standing Order 89 says: “A Member shall not read a speech, but may read extracts . . .” Mr Speaker, he is reading extracts from his prepared notes and no provision in any of our Orders forbids that. It is as simple as that.
Hon Member, you may continue and you may be guided by the Hon Majority Leader's position and may make reference to your notes.
Mr Speaker, another important initiative that was outlined by H. E. the President in his Address was the introduction of an open competitive tendering process which would go a long way to add generational capacity to improving transparency in our go- vernance. Mr Speaker, as we all know, civil society organisations and other stakeholders are interested in transparency, as far as our governance of this nation is concerned. I was very happy when H. E. the President mentioned that we would have a transparency process in the tendering activities that we would have in this nation. H. E. the President also indicated that there is the need to review the Renewable Energy Acts to address most of the huge bureaucratic bottlenecks and discre- tionary incentives. I was dumbfounded when the Minority mentioned that they bequeathed to us a legacy debt and we must be grateful to them. It is unfortunate that we are not talking of leaving a legacy of profits but a legacy of debts and that we must celebrate them. It is really unfortunate --
Hon Member for Yapei/Kusawgu?
Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order because the Hon Member is misleading this House. This is a House of records; the Hon Member claims that the cost of electricity is 42 cents per kilowatt hour. We cannot allow that to be captured as the fact because that is inaccurate and not true.
Hon Member, you said what he said is not correct, so just tell us the correct figure.
The correct figure is 16 cents and not 42 cents. [Uproar!]
Hon Member, you have two minutes more; you may continue.
Mr Speaker, the 16 cents is for the lifeline consumers and I will urge the Hon Member to go and re-check his facts and come back to this Honourable House -- [Hear! Hear!] Mr Speaker, let us all rally behind H. E. the President to hurriedly take us from this mess so that, in all, Ghana can get to the promised land. Indeed, we hope to see the better Ghana that Ghanaians want.
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity. I rise to support the Motion moved by Hon Prof. Yaw Gyan-Baffour and seconded by Hon Ato Forson on the floor. In doing so, I would want to thank H. E. the President for coming to the House, as the Constitution demands, to present his maiden State of the Nation Address. Mr Speaker, this is a House of records and so every information that we put out here should be accurate. For that matter, I would like to refer you to the President's Message on the State of the Nation, paragraph 4 of page 4, and with your permission, I quote: “As at the beginning of 2009, Ghana's total debt stock was GH¢9.5 billion.” Then, I would like to take you to the last but one sentence of the same paragraph, and with your permission, I quote:
Thank you, Hon Member. Hon Member, continue.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. Once again, I would like to say that the two sentences that I have read are totally inaccurate. As I said, this is a House of records; therefore, any information that we deliver here should be accurate. Mr Speaker, based on the right exchange rate on what they have done to arrive at this 92 per cent, the actual figure should be GH¢ 32.71 billion and not GH¢ 9.5 billion; and I can provide the analysis. Mr Speaker, if we take that GH¢132.71 billion out of the GH¢122 billion, which is the debt as it stands today, that should give us 71.5 per cent and not the 92 per cent that has been stated here. Mr Speaker, it is important that we present the right facts to this House. As I said, this is a house of records and not a campaign platform. Mr Speaker, I would also want to go on to say that the Budget looked a bit biased, to say the least -- [Uproar!] The State of the Nation Address. Sorry. When I sat here to listen to the President's State of the Nation Address, sometimes, I thought he was actually reading his own budget. This is because he was churning out numbers and a lot of the numbers turned out to be inaccurate. I would want to go on by saying that there was a missed opportunity by H. E. the President to tell us how a lot of things -- The State of the Nation Address was supposed to give a broad policy direction as to H. E. the President's vision and plans but he missed the opportunity to mention key policy items and actually tell us how those things would be funded. We expect the Hon Minister for Finance obviously, to come to the House and put meat on the bone that H. E. the President gave us. Mr Speaker, not too long ago, we have had two contradictory statements from two Senior Ministers. The first came from a Senior Minister who is actually responsible for Economic Ministries and reports directly to the President; he said that we are looking at funding the free SHS education with the Heritage Fund. A day or so later, we had the Hon Minister for Finance saying that we are not actually considering using that Fund. We would have thought that H. E. the President's coming here, would have tried to somehow put that ambiguity to rest. But he did not do any of that. Considering that free SHS will be one of the biggest expenditure items in our Budget Statements for the next many years to come, one would have thought that someone like the President would give us a direction where that would be funded from. We are talking about over GH¢2 billion every year based on 140,000 students in school today; and these are conservative estimates. One would have thought that someone like the President --
On a point of order. Thank you, Mr Speaker. The point my Hon Colleague is raising is not relevant to the State of the Nation Address that we are debating. Next week, the Minister for Finance would be coming to this House and the Budget Statement would specify where the funding of the free SHS would come from. After that, if we do not have any idea by then, that is where he can have so much to say about it. The President and his Government are ready to implement the free SHS policy. The Hon Member should wait for the Budget Statement. If it comes and he does not find how we would fund this laudable project, then he could have something to say. So, Mr Speaker, he should go straight to the point.
Hon Member, your point is well noted. Hon Member for Cape Coast South, please, continue.
Mr Speaker, we are in a hurry and I would have thought that the President would take the opportunity to do that. We would give the Hon Minister for Finance and the Government the second chance, however --
Hon Member, you have two minutes more.
Mr Speaker, the President inherited assets and liabilities when he took over the reins of Government. He also inherited debts and investments. Mr Speaker, but the President chose to cherry-pick and paint the economy as bad as he did by using liabilities. Mr Speaker, the loans and debts the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Government sees are what translated into investments
Hon Member, conclude.
Mr Speaker, the Eurobond -- I would like to end with this. They forget about the “Gang of Four” the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Government had to pay for. These borrowings were done with nothing or no plan to pay for them. Mr Speaker, some of the money the NDC Government borrowed, especially the first Eurobond, US$250 million was used to pay part of this US$750 million debt.
Hon Member, your time is up.
Mr Speaker, as we speak today, the US$250 million debt that is due this year, it is left with US$150 million for this Government to pay. [Interruption.] Credit should be given where it is due. Mr Speaker, with these few words, I thank you.
Hon Kwaku Kwarteng?
Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity. I turn to page 9, paragraph 6 of the President's Address where he commits to address the problems of the energy sector. He then proceeds to outline the interventions through which he would deal with the challenges. Mr Speaker, it is time for us as a country to take a hard look at our energy sector. It is the sector that is designed to drive our economic growth. Yet, as the President indicated, it is probably the most distressed sector. We have two off-takers -- the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG), which supplies 90 per cent of the power we produce to 2.6 million customers, and the Northern Electricity Distribution Company (NEDCo), which supplies the remaining 10 per cent. Mr Speaker, as a result, those producing the power have also become distressed. The result is the dumsor and the erratic power supply that we have experienced in recent times. The people of this country have to look for US$2.4 billion to pay it off. The previous Administration, the Government of President John Dramani Mahama, attempted to deal with these challenges, but they failed. We have seen the setting up of clearing houses to deal with the energy sector problems; that failed. It has been indicated that the energy sector levies were put together to deal with these problems. Mr Speaker, we ought to remind ourselves that the energy sector levies were consolidated. They were not the creation of anybody. Perhaps, the worrying observation we can make as a country is that the money that was supposed to have gone into dealing with some of the indebtedness of the energy sector in the last six months of 2016 were used to procure crude oil and gas to power our generators to pretend that we had somehow dealt with the problems of the sector because we did not have dumsor. Mr Speaker, what we have to do as a country is to back President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and his Government to succeed this time. The inefficiencies of the energy sector have to be confronted. The pressing issues have to be dealt with. Mr Speaker, we do not want to revisit the past where the Government came up with interventions, but we somehow failed. We should stand behind our President; this time, let us succeed.
Hon Daniel Ashiamah?
Mr Speaker, I also rise to contribute to His Excellency, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo's Message on the State of the Nation. Mr Speaker, I would like to use this opportunity to thank him so much for coming to this House to present the State of the Nation Address, even though it was not total. Mr Speaker, having listened very attentively to His Excellency the President, he talked about agriculture and how it would create jobs; education and the free Senior High School, that I think is essential; and trade, which is very good for this nation. Mr Speaker, all along, I listened for a special area I wanted to hear him on, which is the communication sector. He just mentioned the National Identification Card. On page 11 of his Address, he also talked about how Information and Communication Technology could be used to enhance education. If we would all agree, today, ICT is the driving force of this economy, for which boys, with their dexterity and versatility, would be able to create jobs for themselves. We should think about it. When we go to Tema today, the youth of this nation should be glad that the ICT park has been created at the Free Zones enclave.
Hon Member for Ayawaso West Wuogon?
Mr Speaker, thank you. Mr Speaker, respectfully, I seek your guidance on this matter. My Hon Colleague keeps referring to things done by the former President. I would want to find out if he is debating the State of the Nation as addressed by His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo or not. Mr Speaker, respectfully, I think that he needs some direction. He is completely off the point.
Hon Member, thank you. You are not suggesting that he has made any statement that is not true. Please proceed.
Mr Speaker, I think that we would all agree that Ghana belongs to all of us and anything that is in Ghana, as Hon Members of Parliament, we need to make Ghanaians know of it. This is because it is Ghana's money that has been used to undertake these investments. So, if I go forward to talk about the eastern corridor fibre optic project, I think that it is in place. Mr Speaker, the Ministry of Communications is also looking at building the western corridor and that would encircle the oil fields and other natural resource areas in the Western Region so that we would be able to gather information and know where our resources are going. The Ministry of Communi- cations in the past -- I am sure that the new Hon Minister, Hon Ursula Owusu- Ekuful, would continue with the e- Learning project. We are going to move on with e- Governance, e-Justice, e-Health, and I am very sure that if His Excellency, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo is briefed on all these things, he would stop appointing these multitude of Hon Ministers. This is because they would be able to use the internet to do the governance of this country. Mr Speaker, with these few words, I thank you for the opportunity.
Hon Member for Effia Constituency, Hon Cudjoe.
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to participate in the debate. I would like to take the view of the way the President approached his delivery on the segment relating to the Energy Sector in the State of the Nation Address. He started on page 9 and I would want to entreat my Hon Friends on the other Side to look at the document very well. He started on page 9 and outlined the problems -- just like anybody solving a problem -- and then he proffered solutions starting on page 10. When we look at it that way we would get a deeper understanding of what is being done in the document. Mr Speaker, I do not want to go over the problems because I would say that all of us understand the problems very well. Mr Speaker, when it comes to the solutions however, the President -- I beg to quote a line and proceed on that: “Overall, we have begun to develop a national electricity masterplan, which will also explore the benefits of listing VRA and GRIDCO on the Stock Exchange.” Mr Speaker, I would want to point out to my Hon Friends on the other side that over the past eight years, a solution that was proffered from 2001 to 2008 using Ghana Oil Company (GOIL) -- Today, looking at GOIL's performance on the stock market when GOIL was then a State fund-sapping asset, what it means is that, GOIL was taking investment from the State but when it was packaged to be profitable and listed on the Stock Exchange to date, GOIL has never had recourse to Government of Ghana's purse for funding. Today, there are 16,000 shareholders benefitting from GOIL's profit and they are predominantly Ghanaians. Mr Speaker, that approach -- and I would advert our minds to the then Ghana Commercial Bank which is GCB Bank today; it was also listed but it used to always require government funding. When it was listed, that has also set government funding free, so that essential things could be attended to. Mr Speaker, I point to the State Insurance Company (SIC) -- when the NPP Government packaged it profitably and listed it within the period, to date, SIC Company Limited, as it is now called, is making profit and Ghanaians are sharing in the profit of the company which is also listed on the Stock Exchange. When you look at the solution proffered here, I would want to call attention to VRA and GRIDco -- when we compare them with, for example, what South Korean is doing, we would see that the South Korea Government's electricity company is listed not only in the home country but even on New York's Stock Exchange. Why? This is because, as we know of the problem today, government cannot fund such huge fund requiring sector like the Energy Sector and so private sector participation is needed. So, when we see His Excellency outlining a programme like this, we would have to look behind for a reason to understand why such a solution is being proffered. We have a history to that and it
Hon Member, you have two minutes more.
I have heard Hon Ricketts-Hagan talk about a GH¢9.5 billion debt stock that was left in 2009 and a GH¢122 billion when the President made a statement that 92 per cent of the debt stock of the country had been accumulated over the past eight years by the NDC Government. Mr Speaker, let us not doubt it because we are looking at debt stock, two figures. Let us not try to teach the children that if we have a debt stock of GH¢9.5 billion and it currently stands at GH¢122 billion, I need valuation of debt techniques to analyse it, because in between the period, the GH¢9.5 billion, we are talking about present value. Mr Speaker, who created the interest rate regime? It is their government, so they should leave that and let the statement remain as 92 per cent having been created by their Government. Mr Speaker, I would round up by saying, the mind that creates the problem is always not the mind that solves the problem. I am not surprised that they are not even seeing the solution as outlined by His Excellency President Nana Akufo- Addo. They have ended up opposing the problem rather than proffering solutions to enrich the debate. Mr Speaker, thank you very much for the opportunity.
On a point of order. Mr Speaker, the Hon Member is misleading the House. Nana Akufo-Addo said one district, one million dollars.
What did he say? I did not hear -- [Interruption] -- Order! Order! You said somebody said something?
I said Nana Addo, Mr Speaker.
No Nana Addo has appeared before us.
Mr Speaker, please, I said the President, Nana Addo, said one million for one constituency, not four million for one district.
Correction noted. Hon Member, please, continue.
I do not know where he got his information. Mr Speaker, I repeat, he made a promise of US$1 million for each constituency. He made a promise of building a dam for each village in this country. He has made a promise to ensure that all allowances due teacher trainees and nursing trainees are paid. He has made so many promises that it is difficult for anybody to understand that it is the same Government that we are talking about, and the same economy that he has lamented about. Mr Speaker, he has talked about the small fiscal space left for him to do all these things; yet he says that by September we are going to start the free SHS education. Mr Speaker, this is very difficult to apprehend. In a situation where he has damned the economy, he has talked about deficits that we have left behind which are crippling, yet we would have resources by September to start implementing free senior high school education. Mr Speaker, when Hon Ato Forson spoke, he mentioned a deficit which was disputed by an Hon Member from the other side. He talked about 15 per cent deficit. He challenged him and brought a figure that was far lower. Indeed, it was 14.5 per cent.
On a point of order. Mr Speaker, I would want to believe that the statement from my Hon Colleague is a slip. He says the Sinking Fund was established to mobilise resources to pay for private borrowing. Mr Speaker, what does he mean by that? I believe that it was a slip. What private borrowings are we talking about?
Mr Speaker, the Eurobond is borrowing; and it is private. It is not government to government. In borrowing, we have the bilateral, the multi- lateral and the private. This is what I am talking about.
Hon Member, do you mean borrowing from the private sector? Is that what you mean?
Yes, Mr Speaker. So, we used the Sinking Fund to retire what they borrowed and that is a key thing for anybody to recognise and appreciate in presenting the State of the Nation Address. Mr Speaker, we also established an EXIM bank and it is a very important initiative which is meant to develop business in this country. If my Hon Friends on the other Side respond to the name by which they would want Ghanaians to know them, that they want to support enterprise and they should be defined by their desire to create wealth --
Hon Member, you have two minutes more.
You had a government that created such a bank meant to directly support industry and progress and, to develop businesses, and it was worthy of recognition and commendation. Mr Speaker, all said and done, I would like to also say that the President did well by commending the past President and also recognising the former Presidents on what they have done in this country. Let us also say that we should agree that the efforts of other people must always be recognised and that effort should be replicated at all times, that when we make efforts to develop this nation, the recognition of it is key in inspiring many more people to come and do the same thing. Mr Speaker, with these few words, I would like to remind my Hon Colleagues that the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Government did what it could to develop this nation. The infrastructure that we developed, was unequal in the annals of the history of this country, apart from the ones President Nkrumah did. The borrowing is not borrowing; it is not debt but asset. What they call borrowing and what they call debt is not debt. For us, they are assets and we can find them in the bridges, the roads, the hospitals, the ports and harbours and everything that we can see. That is a worthy cause and we believe that it is for the nation and it is for the generations to come. Thank you so much, Mr Speaker.
Hon Members, I would call on the Hon Oppong-Nkrumah, Hon Member for Ofoasi/Ayirebi.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I support the Motion that this House congratulates His Excellency the President for the message on the State of the Nation, delivered a few days ago. I take particular interest in one area that His Excellency the President spoke about and that has got to do with the fight against corruption. Mr Speaker, with your leave, I would read from page 13, the last paragraph of the President's Address, where he says: “The rule of law should remain our guiding and unbending principle. Those of us in public service should acknowledge that corruption is one of the biggest concern to the people of Ghana. It is the one subject on which a surprising number of people are willing to tolerate a waiver of due process. This is because, unfortunately, public officials are in danger of losing the confidence of the people in the fight against corruption. There is a perception that all public officials are part of this great scam to defraud the public and that they protect each other…” Mr Speaker, as we sit here in this Chamber this afternoon, lurking in the shadows is an allegation on this House that the Rt Hon Speaker has asked a Committee to deal with. The Constitution per article 88 gives prosecutorial powers to the Attorney- General, and again, with your leave, I would read article 88 (4), which says: “All offences prosecuted in the name of the Republic of Ghana shall be at the suit of the Attorney- General or any other person authorised by him in accordance with any law.” Mr Speaker, in recent regimes, in this country, some advancement has been made in the fight against corruption. The Public Procurement Act, and even Parliament, stepping up its work at the Public Accounts Committee level, the speed with which the Auditor-General's Report is put together on previous years' account are major instruments that were put forward to help the fight against
corruption. The Constitution envisages that as we move along with our democracy, subsequent Governments and regimes would do what is necessary to further the fight against corruption. Mr Speaker, I am therefore excited that His Excellency the President talks boldly about adding a major brick to our nation's infrastructure, when it comes to the fight against corruption, by introducing the Office of the Independent Public Prosecutor. He quickly mentions that it would be firmly grounded in law and in accordance with our Constitution. Mr Speaker, it is a major move, which if implemented, would ensure that all of us here, across the sides of the aisle -- various public officers, various politicians -- are in ourselves insulated from the risk associated with the job that we do and that this office would help re-instil the confidence that the Ghanaian public needs to have in the public processes in fighting corruption. Mr Speaker, again, His Excellency the President talks about the fact that he is interested in working to improve the legislation on the current asset declaration regime. He has started it by declaring his assets and charging his Ministers, to declare their assets on the very days when they are sworn in; he would want to go further by even including a lot more people in this process. Mr Speaker, I would want to encourage His Excellency the President to carry through with these policy prescriptions. I would want to also encourage this House to support these bold measures in this fight against corruption -- [Hear! Hear!] -- A day would come when this perception particularly of politicians entering public office with the sole aim of lining their pockets would be eradicated and it would start with some of these bold measures that His Excellency President Akufo-Addo has introduced through this Message on the State of the Nation. Mr Speaker, I am grateful for your time.
I would now call on the Hon Alhassan Suhuyini.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to contribute to the debate. I would take off from where my Hon Colleague left off, by saying that indeed, we all support His Excellency the President's declaration to ensure that corruption becomes a thing of the past. I would however, just want to remind Mr President that in the fight against corruption, he has a tall record to beat. This is because it remains true, that the worst performance of a National Democratic Congress (NDC) Government, as far as the Transparency International Report on corruption in Ghana is concerned, remains the best performance of a New Patriotic Party (NPP) Administration. So, we wish him well -- [Interruption.] And we hope that he beats the record of the NDC.
On a point of Order. Mr Speaker, there has always been this talk in the House, although I have not quite understood it, that it is a House of record, although it is our record, so we should accept that it is a House of record, and we did not know. Mr Speaker, is the Hon Member putting it on record that we have never known about Woyomegate, we have never known about akonfemgate, we have never known about the CP gate, we have never known about all those things? How the hell, is the Hon Member able to get up on this --
Hon Member, do you have a point of order? Please, continue.
Mr Speaker, I thought you were addressing me -- [Interruption.]
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker --
You did not raise any point of order, so I have asked the Hon Member to continue.
Mr Speaker, I was leading up to my point of order. [Interruption] -- You should allow me to develop my point of order.
If you have a point of order, could you go straight to it?
Mr Speaker, per our relevant rules, the Hon Member has no right to mislead the House. I say by a point of order, that he has misled this House by making that extraordinary outrageous allegation, meant to mislead the House. Mr Speaker, the whole world is aware of the credibility -- Indeed, we have argued that corruption is in the DNA of that party opposite. So, for this Hon Member to get up in this august House to allege that the NDC by any shape or shadow of imagination is better than the NPP Administration that has gone past, the Agyekum Kufuor Administration and of course, the NPP Administration going forward, should not be entertained. Mr Speaker, indeed, you should have called on him to withdraw because he was completely off the mark and he got it wrong. The Deputy Leader asks that they should lay - which particular report do they have in mind? They should lay the Transparency Report.
Hon Member, you have made a proposition that all the Reports -- I request you subsequently, to lay the report before the Table so that, for the records, we could compare.
Mr Speaker, Thank you very much. I would do so. If I were to make allegations in this House, maybe, I would have been talking about drill ship and not about Woyome. But just for the record -- [Interruption.] Mr Speaker, I will continue to say that the President met an important constitutional requirement for which I will
Hon Member, hold on.
Mr Speaker, I will not countenance any insult from that side of this House -- [Interruption.] Mr Speaker, if he wants to learn from the maturity and the sense on this side of the House, then Mr Speaker makes a ruling, it is meant for the comprehension of the Hon Members Mr Speaker has spoken to. The point I made was that, I did not hear the address Mr Speaker directed towards me so I sought clarification. I did not overrule Mr Speaker; I did not seek to interrupt him. The Hon Member has to learn properly. If you do learn properly, you will not be hoisted by the petard which is currently hanging around your neck like an albatross.
As I was saying, Mr Speaker, I would have wished that the President found space in his short Address to send at least some condolences to the families that lost loved ones in the Bimbilla conflict which recently happened. Mr Speaker, I am happy that the President met this important Constitutional requirement. I am however sad that His Excellency the President did not find it necessary to include in his
Mr Speaker, where an Hon Member takes his or her position to address the House -- [Interruption] -- In this House, we are guided by the language that we use and the Standing Orders provide that we should not use offensive and abusive language. When you say that you are sad that the President did not find it prudent to commiserate with -- [Interruption.] Mr Speaker, that language is offensive. Subsequently, he said that he is sad that the President did not find space to console the families of the coaches. I believe that is more like it. But to say that you did not find it prudent, in other words -- [Interruption.] Can I finish? Mr Speaker, I believe that Hon Colleagues in the House would learn to accept criticism. If you think that there is nothing wrong, we would pave the way for the use of some language that may not sit well in this House. I do not think that is the way to go. I would want to believe that he did not mean to be offensive in his language use. Mr Speaker, in that regard, I would want to entreat my Hon Colleague to withdraw the use of that language.
Mr Speaker, I was taken aback because the Hon Majority Leader himself rose and to have difficulty with the use of the word “sad” but he has offered -- [Interruption.] No, I am explaining. He offered two explanations of “sad” where he used “sad” in not expressing condolences --
Hon Minority Leader, the objection is to the word “prudent”.
Mr Speaker, since when did the word “prudent” become offensive in this House? Let us not belabour the issue. The word “prudent”, whether by thesarus or any other contextual meaning, with all respect to the Hon Majority Leader, can stand. It is not as offensive as he may consider it. As much as I agree with him that Hon Members should be decorous, frank, accurate and avoid the use of language that can be inflammatory or disrespecting, on this specific word “prudent”, I will disagree with my Leader. “Prudent” is not harmful -- [Laughter.] It is not one of the words -- Mr Speaker, I am guided by my experience that the Hansard is read by many. In fact, I am told that many Presidents -- I may not be able to point at any of them -- read it in order that they would be guided on what decisions to take to improve based on the inputs and suggestions that Hon Members make. The word “prudent”! If my Leader would have a difficulty with some other words, yes, but “prudent”, I am sad that he was not prudent. It is harmless, Hon Majority Leader. But I share the general principle that my Hon Colleague should proceed and let us be elegant and make the debate richer in terms of sharing our positions.
Mr Speaker, Leaders are required to assist the Chair in having orderly conduct in the House. I have raised an issue. If my Hon Colleague disagrees with me and in that case would disagree with the Chair, calling on the Hon Member to withdraw, I would not want to litigate it. I thought that I was offering guidance. If he says that he disagrees with me in the context of usage, Mr Speaker, I would not want to further litigate it, except to say that all of us will take a cue.
Let me draw the attention of the House that in our debate, we should be guided by Standing Order 93 (2), which refers to the content of speeches. I would want to read it out. It reads and I quote: “It shall be out of order to use offensive, abusive, insulting, blasphemous or unbecoming words or to impute improper motives to any other Member or to make personal allusions.” Words themselves may be a collection of innocent letters but if you use them in a way that can be offensive, in the end if they stand alone, they may not be offensive but if you use them in a certain context and find them offensive, it is only proper that when your attention is drawn to it you make your judgement. In the circumstance, I will leave it to your discretion. If you think in the context to use it would be offensive, please withdraw and proceed.
Mr Speaker, I thank you very much and I would also want to thank the Hon Majority Leader and the Hon Minority Leader for their maturity and experience on this matter. Being guided by their submissions, I would like to replace the word “prudent” with “necessary”.
Hon Member for Takoradi?
Mr Speaker, the Hon Member's Statement that people should “fix their thinking” is an insult and unparliamentary. You need to let him withdraw those words and apologise. Mr Speaker, it is not proper, it means that all the members of the Cabinet of the President do not think well and therefore, they should “fix their thinking”. Mr Speaker, I remember when President John Mahama was in this House to talk about energy, he said they were going to fix the energy crisis. It means that there was a problem with the energy situation in the country. So, if he says that the Ministers should “fix their thinking”, then he is saying that all the Hon Ministers of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo's Government are not thinking very well. So, he has to withdraw it.
Hon Minority Leader, I want to hear you on this matter.
Mr Speaker, the use of the phrase ‘fix their thinking' is inappropriate and offensive and I am sure my Hon Colleague would be guided to improve that. So Hon Sayibu would take a cue and proceed.
Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minority Leader has already set the tone for our Hon Colleague. I thought we have just advised him that he should apply himself critically to the operations of this House and learn to be very decorous. I will plead with him that he should not be mentioned as the person who has entered this House to set it on fire. I believe that it is not good enough so my dear Hon Colleague, I would plead with you that you take a cue from what the Hon Minority Leader has told you. It does not give you any good, the path that you want to tread in this House. It does not do you any good. Respectfully.
Hon Member, I direct that you withdraw the phrase ‘fix their thinking' and apologise to the House.
Mr Speaker, I would not be whimsical and capricious, I withdraw. I take your guidance. Thank you very much. I withdraw the phrase ‘they should fix their thinking'. I would rather substitute it with an admonition -- [Interruption] -- I would withdraw and substitute it with an admonition that if we begin by changing the way we think about our problems as a nation, then we would be fixing those problems. For example, Mr Speaker, if you have a situation where the first address to the media on an issue of GH¢7billion whether it is arrears or it is lost, it is approached with the suspicion that it might have been stolen, you would not be able to fix the problem with such a mind-set. If your mind-set in approaching the problems that you are supposed to be dealing with is first of all, that those who have handed over power to you may have committed a crime and may have stolen, you would be guided by that mind-set into a ditch and that would be very disastrous for this country. In the case of the GH¢7billion, I am happy the President said that these were arrears. Before the President came here, we know how a certain mind-set led to the assumption that this GH¢7billion was stolen and had gone missing. -- [Hear! Hear!!]-- So, Mr Speaker, all I am saying is that, if we change the way we think of our problems, going forward, we would find better solutions. On the issue of the debt that the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Administration is supposed to have left behind for the President and the New Patriotic Party (NPP), I will just want to remind the President and our Hon Colleagues who do not seem to accept the suggestion by some of my senior Hon Colleagues here, who have already contributed to the debate, that this is not a debt that can only be attributed to the NDC.
Hon Member for Odotobiri?
On a point of Order. Mr Speaker, I want to seek your guidance. You made a ruling that my Hon Colleague said that the worse NDC performance in fighting corruption is the best of the NPP and you ruled that he should tender in the evidence and the record. He did not and it is still in our records. So, if he does not have the evidence, he should withdraw and come back -- it should be expunged from our records. It is a very dangerous statement.
I directed that he should table those reports. -- [Interruptions] -- He would produce the reports, if they are not, then that part of his statement would be expunged from the record. Thank you.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. So, the debt of GH¢122 billion being referred to includes moneys that the NDC Administration borrowed to fix the gang of four roads which were left behind. It also includes moneys borrowed by the NDC to retire the US$750 Eurobond that the NPP borrowed. Out of the US$750 million, US$25 million was borrowed to settle that debt. So, it is very unfair for them to say that, that chunk of GH¢122billion was only borrowed by the NDC and was used for the projects and the programmes of the NDC. In fact, that money was actually used to finish some of the projects that they started without proper funding arrangement. It was also used to retire some of the loans that they took. So, I think that they have to be guided on his note. I am also very happy that the President made reference to the food and agricultural sector and talked about “planting for food and jobs”. Mr Speaker, I am excited about that programme. My worry, however is, it is not yet clear to me whether this
Hon Member, you have one minute.
Mr Speaker, I am however on this same matter, disappointed that the President did not find it necessary to at least be factual and show some level of appreciation to the previous Government. Mr Speaker, this CAN$22 million was secured by the previous Administration. This is the budgetary support that has been coming from the Canadian Government. There are records to show that on the 25th of February, 2015 --
Hon Member, wind up.
In conclusion, Mr Speaker, on 25th February, 2015, the Canadian First Secretary in charge of Development, paid a visit to the then Minister for Agriculture, Alhaji Muniru Limuna and announced this facility. He assured that the disbursement was going to start in March, this year. So, it would have hurt nothing if the President had acknowledged the contribution of the former Administration.
Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, we set out to involve six Members to speak from either side. Eventually, we increased it to eight. We have exhausted the list for today, and having so done, I propose that we take adjournment, except to observe that by and large, today's debate flowed quite well. I entreat that we further improve on our performance tomorrow in order to accommodate many more contributors. Since we are going to end the debate on Wednesday, it may be appropriate for us to find space for as many Hon Members as possible. Tomorrow is Friday and if we are able to Sit at 10.00 o'clock as we did today [Interruption] -- It is before 2.00 o'clock and we have managed to accommodate 16 contributions. If we manage well and better tomorrow without generating unnecessary acrimony which would then engender interventions, I believe we would be able to perhaps accommodate 10 contributions from either side tomorrow and move on from there. Mr Speaker, in the event, I beg to move, that this House do adjourn till tomorrow, Friday, 24th February, 2017 at 10.00 o'clock in the forenoon.
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion for adjournment and note that today, we have seen the commencement of a lively debate on the State of the Nation that was delivered by the President. This is the House of Parliament where Members exercise their deliberative roles. I am encouraged by the numbers today and have enjoyed the insights into the debate. Mr Speaker, we would support you to guide the process, insisting that Hon Members endeavour to be factual and stay relevant to what we agree with you at pre-Sittings as the matters that would be discussed. Then probably, we could conclude on Wednesday, ushering in the Budget Statement which itself would be subjected to the same process. Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion for adjournment. As for the tensions and near acrimonies, this morning, I was sharing with the Hon Majority Leader that, at least, Ghana is not South Africa. It is how Mr Speaker together with Leadership manage this process. Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion. Question put and Motion agreed to.