VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS AND THE OFFICIAL REPORT
Hon Members, item numbered 3 on the Order Paper -- Correction of Votes and Proceedings and the Official Report. Hon Members, Correction of Votes and Proceedings dated Wednesday, 15th February, 2017. Page 1… 9 --
Mr Speaker, yesterday, I was present, but immediately I entered the Chamber, I was called to attend to the Appointments Committee. I am rather surprised that I have my name under the Hon Members who were absent. So, I would want it to be corrected to indicate that I was present. Thank you.
All right, Hon Member, it is noted. Page 9, 10 -- Yes, Hon Member?
Mr Speaker, respectfully, page 9, item numbered 7 and with your permission, I beg to read: “The Hon Member for Bimbilla and Minister for Defence, Mr Dominic Bingab Aduna Nitiwul made a Statement in which he apprised the House on Ghana's participation in the ECOWAS Mission in The
Pages 10 …16. Hon Members, the Votes and Proceedings of Wednesday, 15th February, 2017 as corrected are hereby adopted as the true record of proceedings.
[No correction was made to the Official Report of Thursday, 9th February, 2017.]
Mr Speaker, the activities of land guards began in some parts of Accra in the mid-90s when individuals, families and organisations hired young men to protect their landed properties. This probably came about because, those individuals and organisations had lost confidence in the land administration system in the country. Landowners saw the use of land guards as the only reliable means of protecting what belonged to them. Later, these so-called land guards added personal interest and involved the use of harmful objects -- knives, cutlasses and even guns -- in their attempt to seize people's properties. In the process, they deprived others of properties they had legally or genuinely acquired. They were so violent and so ruthless that, one area that witnessed most of their activities at the time is called Sowutuom (literally meaning “hold fast your gun” or “get your gun ready to fight”) which still holds till now. Since that time, activities of the land guards have increased, and as I speak, the activities have spread to other parts of the country. Mr Speaker, today, landowners still resort to the use of land guards in their efforts to protect what they think are rightfully theirs, instead of seeking redress in court. The unfortunate thing is that, in many cases, the lands they protect have earlier been sold out to other individuals or groups. When this happens, the party that is financially strong, instead of agreeing to resolve the matter in court, use land guards to secure access to the land and continue to work on it, until the financially weak party is compelled to give up. However, in the event that the weak party decides not to give up easily, these land guards could go to the extent of destroying any structures that the weak party had erected on the land. In some more serious cases, they could maim or cause the death of the party. This has led to many incidents of homelessness and wanton destruction of property. Mr Speaker, there have been instances when people collapsed and died on the spot upon seeing what land guards had done to their property. The end result is that, people who have capital and are ready to invest have been scared away, especially in the areas where the activities of land guards are very conspicuous. Unfortunately, my constituency, Gomoa East is one of the areas that have fallen victim to these nefarious activities of land guards. For many years, some reckless individuals have banded together to form land guards groups and have been terrorising people in such areas as Buduburam, Nyanyano, and Fete Kakraba, all in the Gomoa East Constituency of the Central Region. Mr Speaker, these groups patrol the developing sites day and night and pounce on anyone they see at any construction site, seize working tools and beat up both landowners and workers. Many people have lost their lives, others their properties and others still have had to abandon their projects, thus losing their investments as a result. I have pictures and other documentary proofs to that effect. Mr Speaker, as we might all recollect, in his inaugural speech on the 7th of January 2017, His Excellency the President spoke about the scourge of land guards and the fact that they have scared many foreign investors away from our country. This is undoubtedly true, and my constituency, I believe, is the one most affected by this canker in recent times.
Thank you. Yes, Hon Member?
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity given me to contribute to the Statement ably made by the Hon Member for Gomoa East. Mr Speaker, for quite some time now, the menace posed by land guards in this country is actually an issue that needs the urgent attention of Government and all of us as citizens of this country. Mr Speaker, I recall with a lot of pain how a police officer, by name Kwaku Ninja and another, were brutally murdered at Ablekuma in the late nineties. Even though the security agencies at the time were able to apprehend a handful of the land guards for perpetuating that heinous act, the menace posed by land guards is still an issue that needs to be tackled head on. Mr Speaker, a number of reasons account for the phenomenon of the nefarious activities of land guards in our country. First of all, in my estimation, the inability of our court system to expeditiously adjudicate on landed disputes is a reason which accounts for the activities of land guards in our country. So, when people get away with the feeling that they cannot have justice through our land adjudication system in the country, they resort to self-help by hiring the services of land guards, some of whom are usually armed to the teeth with very dangerous weapons that in most cases our security agencies, perhaps, do not have. Mr Speaker, if we must deal with the issue of land guards in our country, we need to look at our land adjudication system, and empower and resource the Judiciary very well to deal expeditiously with land disputes. Mr Speaker, what is even more worrying is that, whenever the land guards do not have work to do by way of guarding land, so to speak, for want of a better word, they easily metamorphose into political vigilante groups, and we all know what such vigilante groups can do. In recent times, I do not want to mention names, we have seen the havoc wreaked on innocent citizens by some of those political vigilante groups.
Invisible Forces. Mr Speaker, it is as a result of the nefarious activities of political vigilante groups that are under the watch of former President Mahama and my boss, the former Minister for the Interior, we deemed it very expedient to ban the activities of all political vigilante groups in this country, and when we did that, the just-ended elections came and passed very peacefully. Mr Speaker, in previous elections, we were all witnesses to the dangers those political vigilante groups posed to the peace and unity of our country. So, we need to look at the issue of land guards very seriously and deal with it as such. Mr Speaker, one other cause which would usually result in people hiring the services of land guards, is the inefficient way and manner in which our land title registry or the Lands Commission operates. As a country, we need to resource these agencies of State, so that, they are able to register lands with the speed of light, so that if a person is the owner of a parcel of land and the person registers it in a way that is devoid of the bottlenecks that are usually associated with land registration in this country, then the person knows that his title is indefeasible unless a court says otherwise. So, it is an issue that we need to tackle very seriously. Mr Speaker, as a legal practitioner, I have had occasion to have direct encounters with land guards. Courts had occasion to rule on cases that we sent to court. Injunctions were granted in most cases, but you go to the locus and you find that, the land guards have taken over. They are a law onto themselves. So, in no time, you would realise that you have an empty judgement on your hands. You cannot also cite them for contempt because they are invisible -- [Laughter.] So, Mr Speaker, we need to take stock of the activities of these people because, their activities have the potential to undermine the security of our State. Mr Speaker, it is appropriate that you refer this matter to the Hon Ministers responsible for the Interior and National Security to deal with. Mr Speaker, lastly, I wish to recall how the Police Administration itself set up the Property Fraud Unit (PFU) to deal with land guard-related activities. Unfor- tunately, the PFU of the Ghana Police Service is not well resourced, so, its very capacity to deal with the issue of land guards is questionable. It was gratifying that President Nana Akufo-Addo talked about the scourge of land guard activities in his inaugural address. Mr Speaker, if he really wants to tackle this issue, I would humbly advise that he devotes the chunk of the resources of the State towards re-equipping the Police Administration, so that the PFU could be more effective.
Thank you, Hon Member, for your kind contribution.
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for this opportunity to contribute to the Statement ably made by my Hon Colleague. Mr Speaker, I always say that there is nothing that justifies a wrong. It is true that if one comes to Ghana, most especially Accra, land administration and the acquisition of land legally is a problem. I agree to all these, but that does not justify
an individual to take the law into their own hands. Mr Speaker, these land guards are people we live with and dine with. They are people that the security forces of this country are fully aware of. They know them, and they stay in the same locality with them, but who dares go and arrest a land guard? If you do, you cannot stay in your home the next day. Mr Speaker, I agree with the Hon Member who last spoke. He also agreed that, with most of these individuals, if at the end of the day they cannot get any work to do, they transform into political vigilantes, which we all condemn. Unfortunately, the Hon Member refused to add that his boss once said that, violence begets violence. When two political vigilante groups crashed, I thought that at that particular time, the opportunity should have been used to deal with those individuals squarely, but unfortunately, that did not happen. Mr Speaker, this is a call on the House. In this House, most of the time, we come out with brilliant ideas and make very intelligent Statements, but at the end of the day, implementation becomes a problem. I would, therefore, want to appeal to you that, as a House, we deal with these issues of land guards, so that, at the end of the day, if individuals own their lands, they know that they are theirs. Therefore, when they build, they become sure that it is theirs, and therefore, stay in it, and feel very comfortable. Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, let me commend the maker of the Statement, the Hon Member for Gomoa East, for drawing attention to land guards in this country. Mr Speaker, no wonder, articles 257 to 269 of our Constitution is devoted to land issues in this country. I believe that the framers of the Constitution decided that the whole of Chapter 21 should be dedicated to land issues, because, land is important. Mr Speaker, it is true that nobody came into this world with land, but our forefathers fought for our various lands, and fought so that we can have a demarcation -- An environment, where we would live as our own. Mr Speaker, one of the reasons we have the menace of land guards is the multiple sale of lands. Why do people sell lands and re-sell them to other people? They do so all because of greed. If a family sells a piece of land to somebody today, and tomorrow the same family sells it to another person, it is simply because of greed. Why do the two families from the same fatherhood or family not sit down and decide whether to sell a particular land or not? They could ask one another whether they could overcome that greed and sell the lands to people who want to use the land. Mr Speaker, another reason for land litigations in this country, which calls for people to constitute themselves into land guards is because, our institution is simply not working. The institutions that are mandated to register lands are not transparent enough, and they are not doing their work. We also have too many institutions, just registering lands. One could go to the Lands Commission, Survey Department, and all other institutions that register land. Mr Speaker, that was why the Land Administration Project (LAP) was instituted. But do we register lands today, such that; just by the press of the button, one buys a land from the owner, and then goes with his certificate or receipts to the Land Title Registry to get the land registered? No! All these moneys from the World Bank that are spent on Land Administration Projects, do we get the benefit of them? Mr Speaker, our institutions do not work. No wonder, when the former President of the United States (US), President Obama came to Ghana, he said that if our institutions were working in this country, then we would not have had problems, but these institutions are not working. Mr Speaker, there would not be any land guard problems in this country if our institutions were working. This is because, if I have my land and it is registered, and I have a title to the land, nobody would come and say that he owns that land. Mr Speaker, you would be surprised that one person or three people would have the same title to one land. No wonder, one person would form a vigilante group to go and fight for the property that he has paid for. Mr Speaker, with these few words, I support the Statement and I thank you.
Thank you very much, Hon Member.
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to add my voice to the Statement. Mr Speaker, I believe that the issue of land guards, as we all know, is a symptom of a problem, the problem of un- employment and the problem of weakness in the institution of land administration in this country. Mr Speaker, in this country, there are so many levels for selling lands. There are so many different systems; the chiefs that sell the lands, the Lands Commission that sells the lands and the family members, who also sell lands in this country. Mr Speaker, not until we are bold in our efforts to ensure that we streamline that process, bold in our efforts to ensure that only one agency sells those lands, and also bold in our efforts to ensure that those lands are sold either on behalf of Government, the chiefs, or the families, then this problem would continue to persist. This is because lands are sold to people and sometimes, they do not develop them. If they do not develop them and the chiefs re-enter, it becomes another problem because, those who hold the title to those lands believe that the lands still belong to them, even though they might have delayed in developing them. Mr Speaker, I believe that the issue needs to be solved at that higher level, which is at the Land Administration. I propose that what we should do is to allow the Lands Commission to be the only agency that sells lands in this country, so that whether it belongs to a chief, a family head, a stool land or a government, only the Lands Commission would be allowed to sell that land. Mr Speaker, there should be transparency and honesty in the dealings of the sale of those lands. This is because, we would not want a situation where the
people at the Lands Commission become speculators; they pick the lands from the families, and sell them at higher prices without the owners getting their fair share of those lands. I believe that this is one of the reasons we have this difficulty. Mr Speaker, land problems are everywhere in this country -- from Tumu to Takoradi to Accra. The issue we have with Accra is because, there is so much pressure on the lands. Currently, Accra has developed all the way to Akwapim or the Eastern Region, and on our western side, it has gone all the way to Kasoa. So, there is so much pressure in this area and I believe that, the first thing is to make sure that, if we can, as a country, we should take a stand to make sure that, the Lands Commission is the only agency that sells land, and anytime they sell it, it should be by public auction, so that it would be transparent, fair, and the owners would get a fair value. Secondly, Mr Speaker, we are told that ‘the devil finds a job for the idle hands'. A lot of the young men and women who engage in land guard businesses are basically not doing anything. Most of them are entrenched, and most of them do not have the skills to actually do anything in life. I believe that is why we need to be clear in our minds and make sure that the National Apprentice Programme we always talk about is implemented. That is why it is also very important that, instead of always pushing for grammar schools, we should actually push for vocational and technical education in this country. Mr Speaker, in the area of job or employment, we also need to look at the issue of service export. We have a lot of young men and women in our country with lots of skills. Unfortunately, they do not get the opportunity to get work to do. There are lots of jobs outside this country that we can always look at and be able to push them to do. The Cubans have been able to develop their medical brigade system that, they export as a service all over the world. It is important that we have a system, for instance, where we can have our seamen, especially a lot of young men on our coast, from New Town all the way to Aflao, who can easily be trained to man foreign ships all over the world as the Filipinos. In fact, when you take the Filipinos, in a year, they make a minimum of US$5.3 billion for just that service of exporting their seamen all across the length and breadth of the world. Mr Speaker, if we are able to make sure the unemployment is resolved and our institutions, especially the Lands Commission which has become bereft with a lot of corruption scandals and selling Government lands frivolously -- I believe that this country will do better and it will become great and strong. Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to add my voice to this Statement.
Mr Speaker, I beg to contribute to the Statement made by the Hon Member for Gomoa East. Mr Speaker, in 2008, the Parliamentary Select Committee on Lands and Forestry was in London to understudy the British system where they have a database, so that when people want to acquire lands, they check the database to make sure that the land is free before acquiring it. When they returned to Ghana, I do not know what happened after that. What they went to understudy, have they put it in place to ensure that people have not already bought the lands? Mr Speaker, in June 2013, the then Hon Member of Parliament for Shai-Osudoku, Hon David Tetteh Assumeng, made a similar Statement on this floor. It was lengthily debated with various contributions. Today, we have another Hon Member putting up this same Statement for discussion on this floor. Do we have to discuss very important issues that concern the citizens of this nation and nothing is done about them? It is such as the Fulani menace in this country. We have discussed this issue time and again on the floor of this House; but what happens? We discuss it and it is like we are going to do something about it and we do not do anything about it as a country. Mr Speaker, it is high time we took what we discussed on the floor of this House seriously. We should discuss and make follow ups to make sure that the people of this country take us as serious legislators. The Fulani menace that we discussed the other time -- [Interruption.] When we discuss it and it is not an election year, our language is different. After an election year, our languages change. Do we have the political will as a country to address these issues that we discuss on the floor of the House? My suggestion is that when we discuss very important issues that concern this nation, we should make a follow up as legislators and ensure that we do something about it to benefit the people of this country. Mr Speaker, I thank you for this opportunity.
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for giving me the opportunity to also contribute towards the discussion on the floor. Mr Speaker, I have followed dis- cussions on this floor and it is usually in two dimensions. Either it is traffic on our roads or related to land. Mr Speaker, clearly, there is an issue with land management. Last two days or so, my Hon Colleague raised an issue with land degradation. Another Hon Member also raised an issue on Fulani herdsmen and today, we also face a similar matter being raised on this floor. Mr Speaker, it is high time that we took issues relating to land very seriously. Coming from a science background, I can also relate the same issue of land mismanagement with climate change, especially when we look at land degradation. Mr Speaker, the degradation of land, forestry and vegetation contributes directly to climate change because the amount of carbon dioxide that needs to be absorbed by the vegetation to reduce the warming is not there. This is because the vegetation has been destroyed inappropriately, by either people who do not have any idea about how land is properly managed, especially when it comes to land guards. We have mentioned Fulani herdsmen.
What we need to do is to ensure that our children would also come and enjoy in future what God has given to us. We are not getting any more new lands for our country Ghana, So, the proper management of these lands is important. If today's generation destroys this land, then what will the future generation come and meet? There would be nothing there for them. Mr Speaker, this is important in all dimensions. So, I would suggest, as the Hon Member who just spoke suggested, that we take a critical look at it. We allow the Ministry in charge to also come and face the Committee responsible for that in Parliament and then we ask them Questions, why these issues have been raised several times on the floor of Parliament and nothing has been done about them. Mr Speaker, with these few words, I support the Statement and I thank you so much. 11. 55 a. m.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, for giving me the opportunity to contribute to the Statement. Land guard menace is very trou- blesome in the country and more especially in the urban areas. Mr Speaker, currently, we have a deficit of about 1.7 million houses and we would need about US$34 billion to reduce it and that could be supported both by the private sector and Government. Land guards arise because there is scarcity of land. However, there is high demand for land and that results in multiple sale of lands. Therefore, it is very important that the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Government and then President Nana Akufo-Addo ensure that what President John Dramani Mahama started by the provision of affordable houses is continued. By 2018, we would have a deficit of about 200 billion housing units in the country. If this is continued, it would become very clear that security agencies would find it very difficult to regulate the land guard menace. This is because, once demand exceeds supply, it becomes difficult. Therefore, I want to urge the Government to invest more in housing and urge the Ghana Real Estate Developers Association (GREDA) to invest more in housing. I, therefore, want to urge the President, as they promised to remove the taxes on estate, to implement this as quickly as possible in order to give leverage to the estate developers to be able to construct more houses in the country. Mr Speaker, the land guard menace has resulted in a number of deaths in the country and that is the reduction of manpower needs, and as a result, if we do not take time, it could become a security issue. When it becomes a security issue, it could destabilise the country as a whole, therefore, the need to focus much attention on it. Mr Speaker, it has also become very clear. Yesterday, when the Hon Member for Nsawam-Adoagyiri read a Statement on sand winning, that it was read on the 28th of June, 2014, but nothing was done about it and as a result, he had to come back with it. Mr Speaker, I would urge you and with your guidance, what we should do, that you give the directives so that come next year, we would see an improvement in respect of security to those who have bought lands in the country. On this note, I thank you very much.
Yes, Hon Female Member?
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity given me. First and foremost, I would like to commend the Hon Member who made the Statement on the floor. I believe this Statement cannot pass by without a contribution from Weija Gbawe Constituency. When the Hon Member who made the Statement was on the floor, he did mention the land guard phenomenon emanating from Anyaa-Sowutuom area. And Weija Gbawe being part of Anyaa-Sowutuom at that time, I think I need to contribute to this Statement. Mr Speaker, despite the fact that we all agree that the activities of these land guards is a real problem to this nation, I believe without patronage, there would not be sales. The fact that there are land guards, if we the citizens of this country, as land owners, do not patronise their activities, they would not have anything to do. Years back, we had this Asafo group who paraded the corridors of the chiefs in the palace, who led land buyers to the land sites to show them the lands. Then, as the days and years went by, this new group called land guards also came in. They came in when our land owners decided to sell a piece of land to two different or more people. That is where this came from.
Some of us engage the services of these land guards -- [Interruption.]
Order! Hon Deputy Minority Leader, do you rise on a point of order?
On a point of Order. Mr Speaker, this is a House of records. The Hon Member made a categorical statement that she is aware that some Hon Members of this House employ the services of land guards. Mr Speaker, if she has the evidence, she should tender in the evidence, if not, she should withdraw the statement. It is very important.
Hon Member, some may not want you to speak for them by saying that all of us engage in that. So, if you would just take out that part of the statement and proceed.
Mr Speaker, I withdraw.[Hear! Hear!] But I said some --
Hon Member, proceed.
When I say some of us, I mean some of the citizens. That is what I am trying to say. Mr Speaker, as I said early on, if we do not patronise their activities, there would not be land guards. I am so happy that President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo- Addo is coming out with this policy of ‘one district, one factory'. Employment would be there for some of them to do.
My Hon Colleague did mention that, when there is no activity for these land guards to do, they metamorphose into political circles. I would draw the attention of the House to what I said earlier; without their patronage, there would not be sales. So, please, it is up to us to stop patronising them to look after our lands for us or use them politically and find something better for them to do. I also urge the Land Commission, the Land Title and the District Assemblies to make sure that everybody who puts up a building should have the requisite papers before anything is started. With this, when somebody owns a land and the land does not belong to the person, I believe it would be seen before anything is done. Mr Speaker, I am done. Thank you.
Leadership; Minority first, then Majority.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. I want to contribute to the Statement on the issue of land guards. Mr Speaker, there are a number of causes for the issue that we are debating this morning. The land owners who sell the lands are also to blame. This is because, they sell the lands to multiple buyers. If we can have a system where land owners can sell to only one prospective buyer, the issue of land guards may be solved. The second group of people who are also to blame are the buyers. One goes to buy a land without verifying whether that land is available or genuine, but one goes ahead and buys the land which has already been sold to somebody else. So, you the one buying the land would also take part of the blame. Mr Speaker, even the process of verifying whether the land is genuine is another problem. All our institutions by which we can verify; Land Title and Lands Commission -- How to verify if the land is genuine is another problem. How do we solve that problem? What is the willingness of the people who are land guards to even become land guards in the first place? Why do they agree when somebody calls them to come and protect his or her land? This can be attributed to the level of poverty and unemployment we have, where because of this, people want to do that in order to earn a living. That would also be a factor; that because of unemployment, our young ones are willing to offer themselves to protect land for their owners. That is also one of the areas. Most of the time, we want to rely on the Police to protect the land for us. However, when the Police goes to protect the land or drive away these land guards, they become friends. The way some of the land guards operate is such that, you can have two or three groups of land guards. Even if you buy the land, to you, you have a genuine process to buy the land. Before you can put up a property or start developing the land, this group of people come to you and demand money. Some are called ‘digging fee'. If you want to start digging the land, you have to pay. Meanwhile, you have gone through the genuine process to acquire the land; but that is how they operate. Mr Speaker, how do we solve all these problems? If all these groups of people are involved? It is not only the land guards who are to blame. The sellers of the land, the buyers and the institutions that ensure that the land is genuine are all involved. What do we do as a people in order to ensure that we control this? We have solutions proposed by a number of people who spoke on this issue. It is a matter of us referring this issue to the appropriate Committee. In the House, the Committees that can be involved could be the Defence and Interior Committee and the Lands and Forestry Committee. The issue could be referred to these two Committees so that they could meet with the appropriate stakeholders to come out with a system on how we can resolve the issue. This is because, it is not only one group of people who are involved in this but a number of groups. How do we handle this issue? Mr Speaker, we would want to propose that, you refer the Statement to these appropriate Committees so that, they can resolve the issue and make a proposal on how the menace of land guards can be dealt with. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, we are urging our Judicial Service, the Chief Justice in particular, to expedite some of these land litigation matters, so that the prolonged judgements which give these land guards the room — because there is no judgement anyway, and so people take the law into their own hands. Even in cases where injunctions have been placed, we see them flouting the laws and the injunction order by a court of competent jurisdiction. People take the law into their hands and do as they please. Mr Speaker, our systems and institutions must be seen to be working, and together as Members of Parliament, and as the representatives of the people, we have a role to play as well. Mr Speaker, I thank you.
Thank you very much.
Mr Speaker, I cannot end without saying that the current Government, which we are properly constituting and the Appointments Committee continue with its vetting processes, we would want to urge this House and actually give them the assurance, that as we complete the LAP started, we are going to put in place very good reforms in our land administration
Mr Govers Kwame Agbodza — On a point of order! Mr Speaker, my Hon Deputy Majority Leader speak authoritatively as if she has the authority of Government. This is a policy. She is not a Minister or the Majority Leader and Leader of the House who sits in Cabinet. Under what authority is she telling us that this is the Government policy? [Uproar!] I believe she must stay within her ambit. She is overstepping her authority.
Hon Member, you know very well that the Hon Majority Leader is both Leader of the House, Leader of Government Business and a Minister. So, his Deputy deputises in same connection and so — [Hear! Hear!] Hon Deputy Majority Leader, I would pray that you take your seat at this stage, please.
Mr Speaker, respectfully —
I do not think you have more to say than I have said. Hon Deputy Majority Leader, please take the cue from the Chair.
Mr Speaker, I was concluding. Mr Speaker, I was just concluding. I was not going to talk about your earlier ruling. But I was on the verge of my conclusion, when the Hon Member Mr Speaker, in conclusion, everything starts on the land and ends on it. The earlier we look at our land administration process well, the better. And by the way, what I talked about is in our Manifesto, and that is what we are going to work with.
Hon Members, the Lands and Forestry and Interior Committees are tasked to deliberate further on this matter and report to this Honourable House within a month. The work of the Committee should be publicised for the public to assist in the process by providing information. The Committee could consider co- opting the Hon Member who made this Statement, if he is not a member of either committees. They should consider all parameters of the problem, particularly in view of the fact that we are told that there had been an earlier Statement which seems to have fallen into oblivion. Hon Members, we trust that by this, we as Parliament would be in the position to direct the Executive rather, so that we would assist them to do the right thing. Whereafter, we shall be in a stronger position to invite relevant Ministers here, ask them relevant Questions and also give them appropriate directives. It is up to the House now to show the political will and for that matter come out with very serious deliberations that would stand the test of time.
Mr Speaker, my sincere apologies for my absence when I was previously called. I was engaged by equally important duties at the Appointments Committee. I thank you for this opportunity again. With your kind leave and the indulgence of all Hon Members representing the different beautiful shades and cultures of our dear nation, it is with so much pleasure that I embrace this opportunity to make my maiden Statement on the floor of this Honourable House. I witnessed as an observer for many years, and an active participant in this few weeks, I am only further convinced of how much of a microcosm of our indivisible country this revered House is. It is like that one proud stitch in our colourful Kente or breezily smock, whether noticeable or not and I thank Almighty Allah, my constituents and my party, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) to be that one other reason why this House is complete. In my interactions and by observation, I have come to appreciate that in our individualism lies our collective national character. Underlying our frightening diversity is our unquestioned love and wish for this nation to be great. Mr Speaker, it is for this belief in the best of our country, that, I plead to make a Statement addressing the Diamond anniversary of Ghana's independence and the decision by the President to announce a 30-member committee to plan the celebration. I wish to commend His Excellency the President for prioritising the celebration of our independence in the midst of all the daunting economic and social challenges that he has convinced the nation he inherited. It is remarkable that, even before he finished forming his Government, he had the presence of mind to announce showy preparations towards this celebration of our nation's birthday. Mr Speaker, I am not one of the cynics who believe we have nothing to celebrate at 60. I believe we do, so, we should. The endurance of this Fourth Republic is rooted in the experience of the past and would be guaranteed only by a continuous improvement in the lives and communities of our very hardworking compatriots. The Independence Day, every year therefore, should be a day of pride in acknowledgement of the brave con- victions of our nation's founders, a reflection on how far we have lived their ideals and a rededication of ourselves to make real their lofty dreams at independence. However, let the celebration not be used as an opportunity to dissipate public funds and reward political party loyalists. Let our actions not always be about how many ballots are counted in our favour, but by how much hope we give our citizens, how many reasons we give them to smile and the daily solutions we offer them. Mr Speaker, this caution becomes necessary because of the fresh experiences during the celebration of Ghana @ 50, a decade ago.
Similar to what the President has done so far, by setting up a committee to plan the celebration, President Kufuor, in order to celebrate the Independence of Ghana @ 50 anniversary, also set up a sub- committee of Cabinet, a National Planning Committee (NPC) with his Chief of Staff and Minister for Presidential Affairs at the time as Chairman of the NPC. Mr Speaker, the celebration, which was to be a year-long affair, had a total amount of GH¢29.31 million approved by Parliament for the celebration. The first tranche of twenty million United States dollars (US$20 million) at the time, was approved on 20th July, 2006. The second tranche of eleven million, eight hundred thousand United States dollars (US$11.8 million), which was a loan from Fidelity Bank, was approved by this august House on the 30th day of July, 2007. However, according to a Government White Paper on a Commission of Inquiry report, by 31st December, 2008, a total sum of ninety-seven million, seven hundred and seventy-six thousand, three hundred and eighty-eight Ghana cedis and forty- four Ghana pesewas (GH¢97,776,388.44) had been spent on the celebrations. Far in excess of over 300 per cent of what was budgeted for approval by this House. Non cash donations were not properly accounted for, costly bridging finance and overdraft facilities were procured from banks because, according to the organisers, there were delays in budgetary releases. According to the Government White Paper, several projects such as rest stops, toilets and the renovation of heritage sites were either left incompleted due to lack of funds or not started though paid for. Even a Green Ghana Project was commenced in the middle of October and at the start of the harmattan and according to the CEO who spoke before the Commission, six million seedlings were supposed to have been planted. Mr Speaker, these and like happenings which fill our airwaves even now, breed cynicism which threaten the foundations of our Fourth Republican democracy. Our citizens need a break, and it is my prayer and anticipation that, this celebration planning committee will apply the brakes as they are guided by the ghost of the past celebration. Despite all our challenges, we have a lot to celebrate, but so little to do, in view of how much more we have to do as a country. I am encouraged by the pronouncements of members of the committee so far and even the President, that expenditure would be moderate. As fate would have it, the announced budget when the President unveiled the logo at a ceremony last week is about ten (10) million Ghana cedis short of the Ghana @ 50 initial budget. The assurances of private sector support, however, were similar to 10 years ago. I hope this time, the budget would not be exceeded and the private sector, which after all, is still very much alive would, indeed, support considerably. I wish the committee well, Mr Speaker. God bless our home land Ghana.
Thank you, Hon Member. Ghana at 60: A time to move from rhetoric to action on Science and Technology Development
Mr Speaker, Ghana, our beloved nation, will be 60 years in a few days to come, and in preparing our hearts and minds towards the celebration, I find it prudent and timely to remind ourselves, that our national development has not advanced at the pace that our contemporaries like South Korea, China and Malaysia have gone. Today, while we enjoy a GDP per capita income of about US$1,300, South Korea and Malaysia are enjoying about US$25,000 and US$11,400 respectively. Mr Speaker, the poverty and development gap between us and our contemporaries is too wide to make us have any comfort of mind at age 60. Let me restate here that, the development gap is a technology gap and the empirical evidence in support of this is well founded in several studies, and, Mr Speaker, this fact is so notorious that I need not belabour the point. So far, African Governments' commitment to Science and Technology (S&T) has been very scanty and inadequate but let me be quick to state that, I am mindful of the numerous challenges facing us that equally require attention. However, Mr Speaker, the-relevance of Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) to national development cannot be lost on any nation, as they have been the main driving force behind almost all successful nations. This explains why the most economically advanced countries are those with strong scientific and technological capabilities and this is why I feel very much motivated to make my maiden Statement. Mr Speaker, I wish to call upon African Governments in general, and Ghana Government in particular, to substantially increase budget allocation to the S &T sector, improve mathematics, science and technology education and promote innovation, as this, in my humble view, is the surest path for us to accelerate our growth and development and perhaps, to catch up with our contemporaries. Mr Speaker, I make this Statement, taking cognisance of the general directive principles of State policy in our Fourth Republican Constitution, particularly article 38, which enjoins us to pay attention to science and technology. I am also mindful of our national development policy commitments, for example, the Ghana Shared Growth and Development Agenda, which aims at socio economic transformation with emphasis on “mathematics, science, technology and innovation. Indeed, as a country, we have subscribed to other international commitments on the development of S &T. Mr Speaker, a number of reasons have accounted for why we, as a country, have not been able to maximise the benefits of Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) and for my purpose today, I would like to dwell on three main issues. These are lack of adequate funding of S&T, weak Science and Mathematics education and also weak institutional collaboration among universities and public and private research centres. Funding Mr Speaker, one major factor that has handicapped research and development (R&D) activities for decades has been access to finance, even though we have made numerous commitments. The African
Union (AU) and the Economic Community of West African States in 1980, under the Lagos Plan of Action, the Cairo Declaration of the first African Ministerial Conference on Science and Technology (AMCOST) and the Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa 2024 (STISA 2014), have all prescribed that, we allocate at least 1 per cent of GDP to STI research and development. Currently, funding in Ghana is about 0.35 per cent of GDP. Mr Speaker, with this meagre funding, it is not surprising that we have not been able to fully employ S&T to support and indeed, accelerate our development compared to Korea, China and Malaysia, for example. For instance, whereas Korea and Malaysia spend between 2.8 per cent and 4.2 per cent of GDP on R&D respectively, Ghana spends a meagre 0.38 per cent (about a tenth of Korea's expenditure) on R&D. In order to address the shortfall in funding for STI, the 2010 National STI Policy has proposed the allocation of 2 per cent of the country's GDP towards investment in science and technology. The 2010 STI Policy has further elicited the support and contribution of the private sector towards the establishment of the Science, Research and Technology Fund (MEST, 2010). The Fund was aimed at developing the capacity in areas such as engineering design and production technology to help foster a national innovation system. Mr Speaker, this Government has made a manifesto pledge of increasing budgetary allocation to the S&T sector to at least, 1.5 per cent of GDP over the next four years, and, will strongly urge the Government to pursue this and further develop a clear monitoring framework to assess the social, economic and environmental impact to justify the budget allocation. In addition, Mr Speaker, I would like to urge the Government, the private sector and donors to contribute to enrich the Research Endowment Fund, which I understand has a total funding level of only 2.5 million Ghana cedis. Education in S&T Mr Speaker, increasingly, it seems that interest in science education is dwindling contrary to expectations, given the pace at which scientific research and technological development is advancing globally. A study conducted in 2002 also showed that “enrolment in bachelor of arts and management programmes as a percentage of total enrolment in the universities has been above 65 per cent and is increasing, while courses in medicine, engineering and other sciences keep declining (UNCTAD, 2011). In 2013, students on programmes in the humanities constituted 64 per cent, against 36 per cent in the sciences in Ghana and, in fact, students pursuing graduate programmes in the sciences constituted 22 per cent of total graduate student popuIation. Mr Speaker, it is important to reverse this trend if we can promote science, technology and innovation to support national development. In this regard, the Ministry of Education in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation should work out and implement a plan to achieve the Government's plan of achieving a 60:40 student ratio for the sciences as compared to the humanities. Institutional collaboration Mr Speaker, the time has come for the collaboration between the universities and research institutions such as the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and others to be cemented. As we speak, Mr Speaker, there are perhaps thousands of research reports, equipment and industrial process designs and post-graduate theses and techno- logies scattered all around; locked up on the shelves of libraries and in the reports of scientists and consultants. The time to bring all these out in a more coordinated manner to synthesise the information and technologies in order to strengthen our knowledge base for a smooth take off into our desired new era of scientific innovation is now. Mr Speaker, it would be very useful to the public to have a one-stop centre where people can access available technologies developed. For example, how can the CSIR Technology Development and Transfer Centre (CSIR- TDTC) be strengthened to coordinate and promote the adoption of specific technologies is a key question that must occupy the thoughts of Government. Mr Speaker, all these would require an effective institutional coordination and governance, and this is why I would call on the Government to expedite action on the establishment of a Presidential Advisory Council for S&T. Mr Speaker, Government must keep faith with its commitment to make S&T begin to play its central role. Mr Speaker, I believe the appointment of a pragmatic scientist and technologist, in the person of Prof. Kwabena Frimpong Boateng to lead this agenda as the Minister for Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation is commendable. I further urge our Colleagues in this august House, who would be privileged to serve on the ECOWAS Parliament to be lead advocates for member countries to take practical steps towards their commitment under the Lagos Plan of Action, especially as collaboration for scientific research and technological development within the sub-region is one of the main focal areas of the ECOWAS Parliament. In conclusion, Mr Speaker, as we have usually risen to the occasion, I trust that Ghana, at the age of 60, would once again lead the sub-region into a new era where scientific research, technology develop- ment and innovation will play a central role in Africa's development efforts. In particular, development of technologies that support mitigation of climate change, food security and industrial equipment and processes are key to our economic transformation agenda. I thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to make this maiden Statement.
Hon Members, two contributions from each side. If you have contributed to an earlier Statement, please, spare me the ordeal.
Mr Speaker, I thank my Hon Colleague, the Member of Parliament for Oforikrom, my former constituency, for making this Statement. Mr Speaker, in contributing to the Statement, I would like to advert our minds to certain things. Mr Speaker, one may ask if the country is serious about investing in science and technology. Is science and technology attractive enough to our young graduates? Do we intend to do anything to encourage a lot more people to invest in science, technology and innovation?
Mr Speaker, when we talk of innovation, I do not believe anybody teaches it; but one is encouraged to come out with innovations. If the scientist spends all his life researching and puts in all his energy, money and everything, and the Government contributes its quota, but at the end of the day, nobody is prepared to pay for that, I do not think that would encourage any other person to become a scientist in this country. Mr Speaker, if we want to see the way we have left science and technology behind in this country, one would only have to drive through the University of Ghana, Legon. If we are asked to choose either the lecture halls of the University of Ghana Business School and that of the Faculty of Agriculture, if they are going to be converted as our living places, one would choose the University of Ghana Business School. Why? This is because it is cheaper to run courses like that. So, everybody, including the private sector has decided to go that way. Even in our State universities, when we go to the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, a lot of investment goes into the Business School because it can easily be recouped. If we put same into the Faculty of Agriculture and the sciences, however, we would not get those results. This is because Ghanaians are not prepared for that. Mr Speaker, why am I saying that Ghanaians are not prepared to pay for innovation? We have a Bill in this House. Mr Speaker, if we visit Nigeria, The Gambia and Senegal, the maize that they plant and use in those countries were developed by scientists from the Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Ghana -- Obaatanpa and all the innovations. Today, those who came up with those innovations are poorer. Therefore, it becomes unattractive for anybody to even sit down and try to think or encourage anybody to go into the sciences. Mr Speaker, yesterday, I was in my office when a former student of mine entered. She introduced herself as a representative of a bank. I asked her what she was doing with all the biochemistry she studied. She said that the biochemistry does not pay. She is now a banker. That is what we have on our hands. Mr Speaker, to demonstrate that we indeed believe in science, technology and innovation, and we want to invest and encourage people to go into the sciences, I challenge Parliament to pass the Plant Breeders Bill. Mr Speaker, if we do that, it would indeed show that we recognise the contributions of those who have developed Obaatanpa and the various varieties of maize, cassava, yam, et cetera, which we have all over West Africa. If we do that, it would encourage the young girl in the junior high school at Ehiamankyene. This is because, the Hon Member of Parliament was once a research scientist and he is getting “A”, “B”, “C” and “D” from innovation. That would encourage her. Mr Speaker, otherwise, I do not believe we have demonstrated enough that, indeed, Ghana at 60 years of independence believes in science, technology and innovation. Mr Speaker, with these few words -- [Interruption] -- [Laughter] -- Yes, “few words”, I support the Statement. I would want to encourage the Government and Parliament to start by passing the Plant Breeders Bill. Mr Speaker, unfortunately, the Bill has fallen into a certain domain. People are misinterpreting the Bill. I believe that is what is creating or causing the delay. If we do that, it would be a step in the right direction. Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity.
Hon Member, I thank you very much for this contribution. Hon Member?
Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity. Mr Speaker, first of all, I partially associate myself with my Hon Brother, Hon Alhassan Suhuyini Sayibu for the Statement he made on the 60th anniversary celebrations. Mr Speaker, as a country, if we want to celebrate our anniversary, especially when it is the 60th , it is in order. My Hon Brother on the other side created the impression that the motivation behind the planning and execution of the 60th anniversary celebration is chiefly that of communism, partisanship, and to some extent, an expedition for fishing or hunting for present or future votes. Mr Speaker, I think that is quite unfortunate. It is also very good to have a good memory of the past, thus to recollect history. It is just that history should not be recollected in a transpositional manner, where we jump from one year to ten years. If he had recollected what happened in the last celebration, I would have been very grateful and appreciative. Mr Speaker, all that is pardonable because it is a human institution. When we have brothers from the same industry letting us understand that we spent over 300 per cent of the budget allocated for the 50 th anniversary celebrations, it makes one goes into some of these things; although I would ideally not have gone into them. Mr Speaker, I am one of the individuals in this country who is very shy of wearing suits and I have a good reason for that. In my constituency, Ledzokuku, people sometimes queue for two hours to attend to nature's call. When we live in a country where people stand in queues to attend to nature's call, it is not all that well. Sometimes, when I wear my suit and look sophisticated, anytime I look at them, I feel like letting it go. What am I trying to say? We have huge challenges and it has become very
incumbent on us, as a country, to make sure that we do not accept the status quo. Mr Speaker, as a country, we must take a second look at science and technology as my other brother on the Majority side of the House said. Why is Ghana not accommodating science and technology that well? The reason is very simple; if you are someone who is comfortable with the status quo and not willing to learn no matter one's age, one would always shy away from science and technology. When we come here every day, we are given Papers -- The Order Paper. All these could be sent to us via our phones or put on our machines here. Why do we have to spend money to print documents? I believe the time for printing of documents is gone and everywhere you go folks have fully bought into science and technology. Mr Speaker, why are scientists going into banking and finance, as another brother said, and not staying within the science sector? This is because job opportunities are few. We must invest in science and technology; we must not only invest but be willing to create opportunities for those who are found in that industry. Mr Speaker, in concluding, let me say that I am a very proud scientist and it is my prayer and hope that this country takes a second look at science and put our money where our talk is. Mr Speaker, I am always grateful for the opportunity. [Hear! Hear!] --
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity. Mr Speaker, I rise to comment on the Statements ably made by the two Hon Members; the first person -- Hon Alhassan Suhuyini Sayibu from the Minority side of the House. Mr Speaker, I appreciate the Statement that has been made and I associate myself with the fact that, it is very important and well recommended for us to celebrate the Independence Day which falls on 6th March and which first started on the 6th of March, 1957. Mr Speaker, 60 years is not 60 days; 60 years is not 60 hours and it is not 60 minutes. Ghana has come a long way and we need to actually show that we have come a long way. At 60, we are really mature but there are a lot of questions to be asked. Here we celebrate Ghana @60 and from the indications made by the Hon Member who made the Statement, there is a lot of money that is being spent. I am surprised to hear the word “dollars” instead of “cedis”. I do not know -- If at 60, we are still projecting dollars and not cedis, I just wonder when we would learn to appreciate our own because, we are 60 years old. There is a huge difference between saying 20 thousand dollars, for example, as compared to 20 thousand Ghana cedis. We would have been more or less tripling or quadrupling the amount that we have really spent. Mr Speaker, if we are celebrating Ghana @ 60, what are we looking at? What are we doing?What are we trying to bring out and what are we trying to tell the young ones, the generation yet to be born? We are told that, in Africa, we have not less than 60 per cent youth and I can assure you that, a lot of the youth need to actually understand that it is not an issue of celebration. We need to know where we are coming from, where we have got to and where we want to go to. That is very important. Mr Speaker, the 60th year celebration which is to take place, I wish to urge that it should not just be in Accra where we find people, excuse my language, only going in to pop champagnes, drink whisky, eat khebab and what-have-you. While in the villages where the schools are and those who cannot get access to schools hear of the celebration and do not even understand, or do not participate and where they participate, we would realise that they are in the scorching sun -- I can assure you that I have been a teacher in the classroom for not less than 20 years and I am well aware that, when it is 6th March, one sends these children to the field to march, unless the district or the school, if possible, provides water, they might not even have water to drink. Mr Speaker, many a time, they are not given the opportunity, even those in the Junior High School (JHS), to listen, or understand and know why we are celebrating the day. They only hear of 6th March. With children, all they are interested in, is that, they are most probably in their uniforms with socks, they march, they are clapped for and they go home. I wish that this 60 th Anniversary celebration should get to the grassroots; those children in Widana, Kulungugu and Pusiga. Those who do not even know the meaning of Independence Day, should be made to understand what independence is about. There should be lectures organised for students; this is because, there are students who only hear of Independence Day and think that, it was just a joke -- People lost their lives, suffered, struggled and wept before we gained independence. Mr Speaker, today, we are seated here as legislators to discuss the issue of the 60 th Independence Day anniversary. Maybe, let me say, there are some people in this Chamber who were not born as at the year 1957, yet here we are. What are we doing to make sure that this celebration that is going to take place would be felt at the grassroots where we come from, and that the very people we represent would benefit from this 60th Anniversary. Mr Speaker, I am happy to have heard that our President, His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has said that, he wants modest expenditure in this very celebration. Even that amount of 10 million plus dollars or whatever it may be, can we let it trickle down and change it into cedis, please? Can we let it trickle down to the village schools where most probably, they do not have even chairs to sit on? I hope that this message about the 60th Anniversary --
Hon Member, do you stand on a --
Mr Speaker, sorry. On a point of correction. [Uproar.]
Mr Speaker, the Hon Member is misleading the House. There is no budget for the 60 th
Mr Speaker, he mentioned that there was no budget. If there is no budget, I do not know where he would
Hon Member, you should be winding up.
Mr Speaker, the other issue is that, these scholarships should go to those who really need them. If we talk about technology -- Last week, we were in Koforidua and we had some vehicles that were brought by the Katanka Group of Companies. Mr Speaker, if you look at the vehicles, you would realise that they are of good quality but I would not go too much into it because I am not an engineer of vehicles. Mr Speaker, but have we even tried to use them? I know very well that, even in this House, some of us would buy vehicles. Let us start to buy some of these things. Mr Speaker, with all other innovative works and advertisements that have been done, I wish that we would patronise our locally made goods, eat our locally made food and make sure that we appreciate whatever is brought up in Ghana. Mr Speaker, thank you very much for the opportunity and I also thank the Hon Members who made the Statements.
Hon Member, have you had the opportunity today?
Mr Speaker, no. I have not had the opportunity today. I had the opportunity yesterday but not today.
We are talking about today. You may continue but that will be the last contribution, then we will move to Leadership.
Mr Speaker, thank you for giving me the opportunity to also comment on the issue on the floor. Hon Members have made us aware and have especially drawn our attention to the technological gap. Mr Speaker, I would want to underscore that Ghana has gone through a lot of technological inno- vations. We have been importing various technologies but we are still where we are. If Ghana were to be any of us, it would be going on retirement at 60 years. I believe that the basic problem that we face as a country, and for that matter, the whole of Africa, is a mind-set. Mr Speaker, if I talk about a mind-set, then I would want to draw the attention of the Honourable House to basic principles of life that we are lacking in their application; our ethics, integrity, responsibility, love for work and even how we obey laws and regulations in our countries. When we go to our Ministries, there are viable projects; projects that Hon Ministers would want to carry out as their vision but between them and the technocrats, the responsibilities to carry out those projects do not come through. Mr Speaker, in my view, if we are celebrating Ghana at 60, then I would want us to challenge one another that, as a people, we must have a new mind-set; it is only that which would take us to where we would want to go. Mr Speaker, Malaysia came here and took our oil palm and they are now able to do so many things with our oil palm, but Ghana is still crawling with the oil palm. Mr Speaker, with these few words, I would want to thank you for giving me the opportunity.
The Minority Leadership?
Mr Speaker, I yield to him.
Mr Speaker, thank you very much for the opportunity to contribute to the Statements made by my two Hon Colleagues. First of all, regarding the Ghana @ 60 Celebrations, I agree with those who say that, we should, and that we have something to celebrate. Mr Speaker, we have come a long way from 1957 but there is still a long way to go. We still have some of our younger brothers and sisters not having access to education as required. We still have some of our people not able to have access to good and clean water as well as health- care. Mr Speaker, 10 years ago, I believe that Ghana's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was just around 10 billion but it is more than 30 billion today. It is an achievement but we could do better than this. Mr Speaker, even at independence, we wanted to build our own medical school so that Ghanaians could take charge of their own healthcare, but we could not, so, we ended up with the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital. Mr Speaker, today, we have been able to build a state of the art medical school which could advance the science and technology that my other Hon Colleague spoke about. Mr Speaker, today, 56 per cent of our people have access to clean drinking water. We have come a long way from independence and we need to achieve total water supply to everybody in this country. That is the mark that we need to chase. When I asked for the theme for this celebration, I was told that it is “Mobilising for Ghana's Future.” Mr Speaker, I believe that what we need to do is to have landmark visions that, maybe, in the next 10 years, when Ghana would be 70 years, what do we want to achieve as a country? Do we want to see that no child would be prevented from going to school, or no mother would die needlessly trying to have a baby? Those would be concrete visions to have. Mr Speaker, it is alright to have “Mobilising for Ghana's Future” but, in my view, it is a bit too nebulous. We should zero this down to something that we could quantify and measure in the future.
Mr Speaker, today and after a long period of struggle with dumsor, at least, we do not have dum sor today. Our vision is that, we should never have dumsor again, maybe, when Ghana is 70 years. It is an achievement but there is still a long way to go. I believe that this country has made remarkable progress and many, including myself, would say that we could have done better, but we are not going back -- we have made progress and it is worth celebrating. It is also true that when we listen to what Hon Sayibu said in terms of what this House budgeted for and what was actually spent -- Mr Speaker, it is not only the Ghana @ 60 Celebration; it has become something that this House needs to take cognisance of. When we give approval for certain things, we should follow up to ensure that those approvals are adhered to. Mr Speaker, now that we are told that they have expended almost 300 per cent, does this House have any ability to sanction the people who did the overspending? We do not, because, we never do things like that. I am not sure whether the GH¢20 million budgeted for would be brought before Parliament, but GH¢20 million could do two polyclinics in this country -- I am sure. Even my constituency does not have a polyclinic. We should be able to measure these things in such a way that we could tell whether we are improving the lot of our people or not. Mr Speaker, GH¢20 million on Ghana @ 60 does not sound as a lot of money, but in Adaklu, that is the reason we cannot have a polyclinic. This is because to them, it would have been better for them to have that money to get access to healthcare, but we are going to spend that money on, maybe, a cup of tea somewhere and other things. It is not political. We should begin to measure these things in a way to find out whether there is improvement in the lives of our people or not. Mr Speaker, touching briefly on the issue of science and technology, I studied architecture at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST). I am aware that a bunch of my colleagues who also studied architecture, now work in the banks -- why? But nobody told us that when we finish architecture, we would be working in the banks. The reason they ended up in the banks was because the banks pay better than sitting in one's own studio trying to work. So, the incentive to study science and technology-based subjects would depend on what people see other people do. There are a few people in this House who have done courses in science and technology, et cetera and other things but are also here. My own Hon Colleague, Hon Terlabi was one of our top lecturers in biochemistry, but he is here. I am sure he would have been more useful to the biochemistry department since he has not retired yet; but he is here. So, I believe the Statement by my Hon Colleague on science and technology is very important. Mr Speaker, I cannot end without saying that when we would want to do this -- As for the development of science and technology, I know if one would want to go to space, he would need to find out what rocket he is going to use. How long would it take if one fires from the launch pad to get to the orbit? If one cannot do things on time, it would be difficult for him to indulge in proper science and technology. So, I would urge us to do well in terms of ensuring that we entice and encourage our younger brothers and sisters to do science and technology. I believe that it is worth recognising that, at sixty years, Ghana has moved on. How would this country be at seventy years? I am sure it is a question all of us could think of and answer in the future. Those of us who would still be living would see what Ghana would be at seventy years. Thank you very much, for the opportunity.
Thank you very much. Majority?
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to contribute to the Statement ably made by Hon Colleagues from both the Majority and the Minority sides of the House. Mr Speaker, on 6th March, 2017, Ghana would be sixty years. Let me use this opportunity to assure the Hon Member from Tamale North that, H.E. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo pledged to the people of this country that he would protect the public purse. [Hear! Hear!] The GH¢20 million mentioned, I can assure him, if we do not do below that, we would not do above that. Mr Speaker, I also would want to put on record that the planning committee did not quote the amount in United States dollars; they quoted it in Ghana cedis. We are talking about GH¢20 million. Mr Speaker, Ghana can do below GH¢20 million if we do become spectators. If we look at the budget, the planning committee is advocating that each and everyone should try and contribute the little he could. For instance, out of the GH¢20 million, the little the Hon Member
On a point of order. But we are told that corporate Ghana is giving us the GH¢20 million. It is not from our own purse. So, what is the point that the GH¢500.00 would reduce the GH¢20 million? It is rather going to increase the GH¢20 million. It is not going to reduce it. How much is the impact of GH¢500.00 on GH¢20 million? So, Mr Speaker, the truth be told that, if GH¢500.00 is contributed, it is going to increase the GH¢20 million, and we want accountability; value for money. This is what we call for.
Mr Speaker, I am happy my Hon Friend is advancing the point that individuals and corporate bodies are contributing. So, at the end of the day, his quota is much needed and my quota is also much needed. Mr Speaker, let me continue. The Hon Member who first made the Statement, the Hon Member from Tamale North, said that; ‘life begins at forty and ends at sixty”. [Interruption.] “Life begins at forty” is a common saying. When one is working, if Ghana were a human being, Ghana would have gone on retirement from active service at the age of sixty. [Interruption.]
Hon Members, Order! Order! Hon Members, please, be here.
On a point of order. Mr Speaker, I would like the Hon Member to prove his source that, life begins at forty and ends at sixty. This is because the Bible does not talk about life ending at sixty. It talks about a hundred and twenty years in Genesis chapter six verse three. So I would want him to prove his source.
Mr Speaker, it is commonly said --
Hon Member, continue, but be more optimistic.
Mr Speaker, as I said earlier, they say life begins at forty years. If one is a government worker in the country, we all know that at the age of sixty, he or she would retire.
On a point of order. Mr Speaker, our Hon Colleague continues to mislead the House and the public. If he says life ends at sixty years, then I should have been somewhere else. [Laughter.] And also, our Hon Speaker would have also not been here; likewise the President, he would not have been there. He should withdraw.
Hon Member, you may continue.
Mr Speaker, I agree to some extent that, it is not in all sectors that folks retire at the age of sixty. But Mr Speaker --[Uproar.]
Mr Speaker, there are a lot of people in the country who believe that Ghana is broke, and because we are broke, celebrating Ghana at sixty years should have been suspended. There are a lot of people who also believe that people are not able to afford potable water, people are dying from malaria and cholera, people cannot get decent places to sleep and for that matter, they believe we should look again at celebrating these sixty years.
Order! Hon Member?
On a point of order. Mr Speaker, I am a young man in my thirties, but my predecessor has turned seventy-one years and I take great inspiration from him and leadership in my duties as a Member of Parliament. The Hon Member is misleading the House; he is not being fair to the Hon Speaker himself when he suggests that, if one does not work in one's youthful days, then after sixty, one would be engaged in work. The Hon Speaker and the President of the land are giving impeccable leadership to this House and the nation after chalking sixty years, So, I take strong exception to his insinuation that, they have not worked well, hence, they are working well now or working hard in their old age. Mr Speaker, this is a House of records, and it is only right and fair that, we appreciate the continued leadership and work of our esteemed senior citizens who contribute to steer the affairs of this nation and guide young people like myself and the Hon Deputy Majority Leader, who is young and up and coming. She is taking a lot of inspiration from the Speaker of the House; so, he must withdraw that statement --
Hon Member, your point is well taken. Hon Member, I have long advised you to avoid -- [Laughter] -- A certain pathway. Please, change your path and conclude.
Mr Speaker, as I said, as a nation, we have something to celebrate. Ghana is a shining star when it comes to democracy. There are a lot of countries that would wish their citizens behaved and acted like Ghanaians. Mr Speaker, we have had peaceful elections in this country. In 1992 and 1996, the people of this country voted for His Excellency Jerry John Rawlings. When they felt it was time, they voted for His Excellency John Agyekum Kufuor. Today, His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo- Addo is the President of the Republic of Ghana. Our democracy is something we can celebrate and talk about. Mr Speaker, let me get to science and technology. It is true that we have not done much when it comes to science and technology. We could do better, and that is the reason as a nation, at sixty, Ghana must project into the future. Let us look at what we can do. Let us look at how we can transform this country such that, it becomes a shining star for generations yet unborn.
Hon Members, that brings us to the end of Statements. At the Commencement of Public Business -- item numbered 5 on the Order Paper -- Presentation of Papers. Chairman of the Committee -- Sixth Report of the Appointments Committee?
Any Motion for adjournment?
Mr Speaker, in the event that we have no other Business on the Order Paper, I move that this House be adjourned to tomorrow at 10.00 o'clock in the forenoon.
Mr Speaker, there are a number of Committee meetings scheduled for today. So, to allow for that, I would second the Motion for the adjournment of the House.