VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS AND THE OFFICIAL REPORT
Hon Members, item numbered 2 on the Order Paper — Correction of Votes and Proceedings and the Official Report. Hon Members, Correction of Votes and Proceedings of Friday, 24th February, 2017. Any corrections? Hon Members -- At the Commence- ment of Public Business. Hon Members, the debate to thank H.E the President for the Message on the State of the Nation will continue.
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity given me to associate myself with the Motion, that this Honourable House thanks H.E the President for the Message on the State of the Nation, which he delivered to this House on Tuesday, 21st February, 2017. Mr Speaker, H.E the President spoke about a lot of cross-sectoral issues, and indeed, I would want to limit myself to issues thatt relate to health. Mr Speaker, the health system in the country is critical for development and it has always been the vision of the Government of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) to see to it that the right to health of all Ghanaians is guaranteed through an established health sector with sustainable ability to develop affordable, equitable and easily accessible healthcare. Mr Speaker, I was so much elated when His Excellency the President indicated that he would draw the experience of his predecessors, that is, the three living former heads of State, to enrich his tenure. Indeed, the President has also indicated on several platforms that he would continue all the good works initiated by his predecessor. I really commend him for that. Mr Speaker, governments over the years have come out with a number of programmes and interventions aimed at establishing a number of health facilities across the length and breadth of the country. Under the leadership of His Excellency President J. A. Kufuor, a number of health interventions were introduced in the health sector, and this includes the introduction and implementation of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), the free maternal healthcare, the implementation of the Community Health Planning Services concept, the establish- ment of the National Ambulance Service, expanding, equipping and increasing the number of health facilities, capacity building and increase in the number of health professionals; establishment of the Ghana Post Graduate Medical College; introduction of regenerative health and nutrition through health promotion programmes. Indeed, improvement in the provision of vaccines for preventable childhood diseases were also introduced, provision of highly subsidised antiretroviral medicines for HIV/AIDS patients were also introduced, as well as sanitation programmes. Mr Speaker, infrastructural develop- ment ranging from Community Health (Based) Planning Services (CHPS) compounds, clinics, health centres, district and regional hospitals, as well as health-related teaching facilities have all been established and made functional over the years. Mr Speaker, in spite of all these interventions, we still have a high incident of neonatal deaths, maternal deaths and child mortality in the country. Indeed, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), it is estimated that Ghana's maternal mortality rate as at 2016 has gone up from 350 per 100,000 childbirths to 380 per 100,000 childbirths as against the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target of 145 per 100,000 childbirths. This is not a good indication of our health delivery system. Mr Speaker, indeed, most of the health related MDGs were not achieved, essentially, because we did not have the needed facilities and professionals. The critical issues confronting our health delivery systems are ineffective deployment of health professionals and lack of political will to commit sufficient resources to support the NHIS. Indeed, it is in the light of this, that I tend to agree with His Excellency the President, and indeed, commend him when he indicated in paragraph 8 of page 11 of the State of the Nation Address, and with your indulgence, I beg to read: “Mr Speaker, we have to be healthy if we are to make a success of the plans and aspirations we have. The National Health Insurance Scheme remains the best option we have devised to ensure that as many people as possible have access to healthcare in our clinics and hospitals. The Scheme is not in a good state, and there are too many providers that are owed money. They are threatening to opt out and stop offering their services to the most vulnerable in the society. We shall restore the National Health In- surance Scheme to good health.” Mr Speaker, this is good news and it is quite inspiring. I would want to urge all stakeholders, including Members of Parliament, to support this cause. The NHIS today is in a state of comatose and requires urgent financial resuscitation to regain its usefulness to Ghanaians, particularly the poor and vulnerable. Mr Speaker, the NHIS is bedevilled with so many challenges of which the major causes are; the delay in the release of the National Health Insurance Levy, from the Ministry of Finance to the Ministry of Health; the ever increasing financial gap that requires political will to address. It was, therefore, heartwarming when His Excellency the President intimated that we shall restore the NHIS to good health. Mr Speaker, another area of great concern for the health sector, as alluded to earlier, has to do with the human resource management, which essentially
Yes, Hon Member?
Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Mr Speaker, per the rules of the House in respect of debate, the Hon Member is not supposed to copiously read from his script. Over and over, he has been reading directly from his script.
Hon Member, you may refer to your notes, but you would not read.
Mr Speaker, he is reading. [Laughter.]
Mr Speaker, one critical issue that we all have to address our minds to has to do with the pre-emergency situation in the country and the National Ambulance Service. This relates to the way we procure loans in the House and how we oversee its disbursement. Mr Speaker, out of the 124 National Ambulance Service Centres we have in the country today, only 24 of them are functional. Meanwhile, this House approved of a loan to procure 200 ambulances. It has been more than three years now and they have only been able to release 30 ambulances out of the 200 ambulances.
Hon Member, be winding up.
This is a very serious issue and I tend to support His Excellency the President when he established the Monitoring and Evaluation Ministry. Some of the loans we normally procure - - the speed with which we procure the loans, we need to exercise the same speed to ensure that it finds meaning in our governance system. Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity.
Hon Eric Opoku?
Mr Speaker, thank you very much for the opportunity to associate myself with the Motion on the floor of the House. Mr Speaker, we are all committed in ensuring that we create a more modern, equitable and sustainable agricultural system, capable of generating gainful employment, ensuring food security and redeeming the teeming youth of our country from abject poverty. It is, therefore, important for us to look at the issues raised by His Excellency, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, under the agri- cultural sector, very critically. Mr Speaker, H. E the President, on page 6 of the State of the Nation Address spoke about the Canadian facility of CAD$125 million and indicated that it is a support to the planting for food and jobs initiative. Mr Speaker, but it is important for us to put on record that negotiations on this facility started in 2015. Between 2004 and 2009, there was a five-year programme called Food and Agricultural Budget Support under which CAD$20 million per year was given to this country. After 2008, another programme started in 2009 and ended in 2013. That was phase II. Immediately after this programme, negotiations began for the third support. Mr Speaker, it is important to indicate that Ghana was represented by the then Hon Deputy Minister for Food and Agriculture, Dr Yakubu Alhassan, who was an Hon Member of this House. Dr Yakubu Alhassan engaged the University of Missouri in the United States of America and the University of Saskatchewan in Canada, which is located in the Canadian city of Saskatoon, where they were able to build a consortium to negotiate this facility for the people of Ghana. Mr Speaker, the title of this programme is “Modernising Agricultural Productivity through Local Economy”. The intention was that the weight of the resources must be on the decentralised structures of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture to enhance extension services to farmers in our country. Mr Speaker, it is a five-year programme. The first release, which would be done at the end of March, is CAD$18 million. We are told that the Planting for Food and Jobs programme has a budget of GH¢560 million; but this year, we would receive only CAD$18 million under this facility. So, how could they use this facility to support the programme that is captured nowhere in the contribution Agreement? Mr Speaker, this is one area we need to look at critically. It is important to indicate that this CAD$125 million is a conditional budget support. This is because, as a country, we would have to satisfy some conditions. One of the conditions is that, we must meet the requirements for the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reform programme. So, before the facility could be secured, one of the conditions is that, those requirements must be met. So, when H. E. the President states that the facility had been secured, the indication is that, the requirements have been met.
Mr Speaker, H.E. the President also spoke about e-Agriculture. E-Agriculture started four years ago under former President John Mahama with over 50,000 farmers. As we speak, we have established call- in centres; there is one in Accra, Kumasi and Tamale. Then the extension officers have been given sophisticated mobile equipment, so that when they go to the field and they are confronted with an unusual development beyond their capacity, they would link up with the call centres for them to proffer solutions to enable us resolve these matters. As part of the programme under the Canadian facility, CAD$30 million was to go to the five agricultural colleges of education to hook them onto the e- Agriculture programme. This was so that even in school, if they want to have lectures from Canada or wherever, once they are hooked onto the programme, they would be able to do it. Mr Speaker, we cannot understand why a project specifically mentioned in the contribution Agreement, which was signed by the Hon Minister for Finance the impression would be created that the money could be used for another project that is not mentioned anywhere in the contribution Agreement. It is an area that we need to seriously interrogate. Mr Speaker, on page 4 of the State of the Nation Address, the President spoke about the economy. He talked about the fact that, 99.6 per cent of our total revenue is consumed by three budget item lines; he spoke about wages and salaries; loans, repayments and amortisation; and statutory repayments. Mr Speaker, but it is important to put on record that, under the Government of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), One of such initiatives was the establishment of the Ghana Exim Bank. The Ghana Exim Bank was to look at the export and import of our country because of the incessant trade deficit we have experienced over the years as a country. The bank has the capacity to enter into the international market, obtain loans at low interest rates, then support the production of strategic export commo- dities to enhance our export receipt and to reduce our import. That was a way of creating jobs and enhancing incomes in the country. Mr Speaker, it is important to also state that, under the watch of former President Mahama, we established the Ghana Infrastructure Investment Fund to address the infrastructural deficit in this country. Mr Speaker, an amount of US$250 million was transferred into that Fund to support infrastructural development in this country. Mr Speaker, we also established the Ghana Stabilisation Fund, and we had US$150 million. We also established the Contingency Fund to deal with unforeseen con- tingencies in the country. As of the time we handed over, we had not less than GH¢50 million in that account.
Mr Speaker, so, it is surprising for H. E. the President to say that he has limited fiscal space. [Interruption.]
Order! Order! Hon Dr Akoto Osei, do you rise on a point of order?
Mr Speaker, the Hon Member is misleading this House. Mr Speaker, if he would recall, GH¢50 million was put in the Contingency Fund; but an amount of over GH¢41 million was spent. Mr Speaker, the former Hon Chairman of the Finance Committee is fully aware of this fact. It was spent for a worthy cause. When we had the Bird Flu and the floods, we spent that money.
Hon Members, Order! Order!
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation knows very well that, we started this fund
Hon Dr Akoto Osei?
Mr Speaker, I have been monitoring and evaluating. [Laughter.] Mr Speaker, I can confirm that, that money is not GH¢50 million. The Hon Member should just stay away from that and go on.
Hon Member, please, continue and conclude.
Mr Speaker, I believe that the Hon Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation would continue this time to monitor very well, so that some of these figures would be on his fingertips. Mr Speaker, it is important to put on record that, when they take over Government with all these arrangements in place, they have no excuse to say that they have limited fiscal space to carry on the business of Government. Mr Speaker, I said this because, after the President said on page 4 of his Address that 99.6 per cent of total revenue is consumed by these three items, he added that other additional Government work was financed by borrowing. He said this is not the path to go, which indicates that the President is not willing to borrow again. He claims that the fiscal space is so tight that he would not be able to prosecute his agenda, but he goes on to
make incessant promises: Restoration of nurses training allowance -- they will do it in March; One District; One Factory, they will do that this year. He makes so many promises: free education, construction of railways, and construction of factories everywhere.
Hon Dr Twum-Nuamah?
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to contribute to the Motion on the floor. Mr Speaker, on Tuesday, 21 st of February, 2017, the President in his Address aptly told the whole nation the current and the true state of the country as regards the economy and the other sectors. Mr Speaker, I will focus on the health sector by giving an outline of what I have termed the legacies of the Mills and Mahama NDC Administration within the health sector of the country.
the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) has been saddled with debts christened, “funding gap”. Mr Speaker, currently, it is more than GH¢1 billion. This is against the backdrop of inheriting a Scheme with reserves of GH¢300 million at the end of 2008. Mr Speaker, consequently, claims have not been paid since March, 2016, and most health institutions are suffering severely. As a result of this, the dreaded “cash and carry” system which was abolished when NHIS was introduced, has resurfaced in the country and many people are losing their lives because of “cash and carry”, a legacy from the Mills- Mahama Administration.
the Government of Ghana's support to the health sector has declined drastically. Mr Speaker, in 2016, it was only 36 per cent and this contribution was wholly spent on compensations. As a result, Internally Generated Fund (IGF) is now the main source of funding for the health sector. Agencies and Departments which have very little IGFs are not able to operate. Agencies such as the directorate which supervises and monitors the various sections in the health sector can barely work. They cannot have money to buy fuel to supervise. Mr Speaker, if this tendency is not changed, the health indicators in the country will deteriorate seriously.
Child Health Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 4 has not be spared. Mr Speaker, under the NDC Administration, we had stock house of vaccines for our children because the country was not able to make payments under the Global Vaccine Alliance Initiative, where it was supposed to make some counterpart payment so that we could have all our vaccines. It is now a luxury for a child born in Ghana today to have all his or her vaccines on time. Mr Speaker, Child Health Records, which is popularly called ‘weighing cards' in the country, is supposed to be free for all children born in Ghana today. Mr Speaker, these cards enable health practitioners to monitor the growth of children, so that those who are underweight would be seen and it will be corrected. Mr Speaker, the country has run out of these cards. Now, children have to buy these cards -- [Interruption] -- Mr Speaker, incidentally, this weighing card (that I hold in my hand) is for my daughter who was born on 17th September, 2016. Mr Speaker, I am a medical doctor and an Hon Member of Parliament --
Yes, Hon Yieleh Chireh?
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, my Hon Colleague who just spoke said children are compelled to buy the cards. I do not know which child can carry money and buy -- [Laughter.] -- So, he should correct himself.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Ranking Member on the Health Committee knows that it is the parents who buy on behalf of their children. [Interruption.] Mr Speaker, the card belongs to my child who was born on 17th September, 2016. I had to buy this card at the Police Hospital, which was the only place in Accra that I could get the child's health records card. If an Hon Member of Parliament, who is also a doctor, cannot get a card for his child and he has to buy, what about the ordinary Ghanaian? Mr Speaker, other people use exercise books to record the weights of their children -- [Interruption.] When that is done, it cannot be monitored to see whether a child is becoming stunted in growth. Mr Speaker, if this does not change, we will have stunted children in the country.
Maternal Health. Under the NHIS, free maternal healthcare was introduced in 2008 and this improved health outcomes of maternal health tremendously. Mr Speaker, because of the non- payment of the NHIS claims, due to the huge debts saddling the NHIA, “cash and carry” is now the order of the day as far as maternal health is concern. Mr Speaker, currently, mothers who are pregnant would have to donate blood in advance before they deliver -- [Interruption] -- And before the donation, they would have to pay the laboratory investigations as regards the blood donations. Mr Speaker, mothers who cannot afford this are now forced to deliver outside health institutions. It is on record that if the level of supervised delivery reduces, maternal health outcomes also deteriorate. Mr Speaker, supervised delivery in Ghana reduced from 30.5 per cent in 2014 to 28.5 per cent in 2015. Mr Speaker, I know that when we get the figures for 2016, it would definitely be lower if this continues. No wonder, the Chairman of the Health Committee indicated that maternal health figures had deteriorated in the country, because people no more deliver in the hospitals, so, we will have reduced maternal health ratios. Mr Speaker, legacy number 5 --
Hon Member, please continue -- and conclude.
Mr Speaker, in addition to reduced levels of proper delivery, the pregnant mothers were also not spared. The maternal health records which is popularly called “antenatal cards” have also run out in the country; currently, mothers use exercise books. What I have here is the maternal health records. Obviously, my child was delivered by a pregnant mother and we also had to buy this form. Mr Speaker, if mothers do not get these forms, a lot of information would be missed and it would affect health outcomes as far as our mothers are concerned. Mr Speaker, legacy number 5 --
Rest at legacy number 4 for now. Mr Rockson-Nelson E. K. Dafeamekpor - - rose -- Hon Member, do you rise on a point of order?
On a point of order. Mr Speaker, the Hon Member is misleading the House. If we have run out of stock, where did he get his to buy? He has not given any source. If we have run out, how come he was able to get a copy? At any time, one could only get a copy to purchase. So, if we have run out, how come he was able to purchase one? They have been in power for two months.
Mr Speaker, these cards are supposed to be given for free but because they run out from the (MoH), institutions print them on their own and then they sell. So, I bought this and paid for it. Those who cannot afford use exercise books. That is what I am referring to.
Please, do not reach legacy number 10 --[Laughter] -- Kindly finish.
Mr Speaker, I would end very soon. Nurses training, as my Hon Chairman referred to, has been very expensive. Mr Speaker, what the previous Government did was to cancel their training allowances. when they were put under severe pressure, they came back with an updated allowance. In addition to the fact that, fees paid by nursing training students have increased astronomically, making nursing training education very expensive beyond the reach -- Mr Speaker, the previous academic year, the average fee for any entry student was around 4,000 Ghana cedis. Mr Speaker, legacy number 6. Health workers were not spared --
Order! Thank you very much. Hon John Jinapor, it is your turn.
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to contribute to the debate. Mr Speaker, during the State of the Nation Address --
His Excellency the President dwelt quite exhaustively on the energy sector and with your permission, I would like to shed some light on the energy sector going forward. Mr Speaker, His Excellency the President talked about the challenges confronting the energy sector. Clearly, if you look at the energy sector, it can be defined in two broad spectra: one being the generation issue, that is the technical aspect and the other being the financial health of the energy sector. With your permission, I would like to tackle the technical as well as the financial health of the energy sector, and set some of the records to rest. Mr Speaker, it is well known that annual demand for energy has been growing at an astronomical rate of between 10 and 15 per cent. Previous and successive governments have made efforts to support and bridge that gap. Upon assumption of office by the National Democratic Congress (NDC), we sought to tackle this challenge head-on and to ensure that we do not only bridge the gap but we have sustainable, reliable and dependable source of power. Mr Speaker, consequently, the Government took bold and concrete measures to ensure that we increase the generation capacity. We worked tirelessly towards ensuring that we dealt with pipeline projects. This includes projects that previous governments had been dealing with as well as initiate, implement and commission new projects. Mr Speaker, as a result of this, when we took office, the NDC Government continued the Bui Dam Project, which led to the commissioning of the Bui Dam Project by ex-President Mahama in the year 2013. Indeed, we had to source for additional funding in order to complete that project. Mr Speaker, in addition, we expanded the Takoradi International Company (TICO) project in Takoradi by completing the steam unit in the year 2015. Today, the TICO plant generates 330 megawatts (MW) capacity of power. In addition, the entire Kpone Thermal Power Plant which is the KTPP plant, a 200MW dual fuel plant, was completed in the year 2015 and currently functioning.
Mr Speaker, as if this was not enough, we worked with the private sector -- Sonnon Asogli Thermal Power Station to ensure that we brought on board 360MW. His Excellency the President and the Chinese Government -- when the Speaker of their Parliament visited here, they commissioned that project. We also retrofitted the Mines Reserve Plant and converted it into a gas fired plant. It used to run on diesel fuel. Solar energy has become a very important component of our power sector because, we seek to diversify the source of energy. So, if we go to Mankoadze today, we have initiated, implemented and completed the first ever 20MW solar plant by BXC company near Mankoadze in the Central Region. Mr Speaker, under the able leadership of His Excellency President Mahama we took deliberate and concrete measures to bring in projects and power plants that we christened as fast track power plants. Through this initiative, we worked with Karpower, and as I speak, we have a 225MW power ship plant located in Tema which has been commissioned and running on heavy fuel oil. The second barge, which is a ship of 450 capacity plant, is ready, prepared and willing to fire into the system.
considered the Ameri
Order! Hon Majority Leader.
Mr Speaker, in the 10 minutes that you have afforded the Hon Member, he is just doing a rehash of the State of the Nation Address given by the former President John Mahama. He is just repeating what he covered for us just before he exited. Mr Speaker, I would refer him to Standing Order 93 -- what we are dealing with today is the Message on the State of the Nation delivered by His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo. His own contribution must have relevance to that Statement. Standing Order 93 (4) provides: “The speech of a Member must have reference to the subject matter under discussion.” That is the State of the Nation Address given by His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and not the exiting State of the Nation Address given by former President John Dramani Mahama.
Hon Member, you may continue -- Hon Minority Leader, do you want to respond?
Mr Speaker, I was waiting for your guidance on this matter but let the Hon Majority Leader note that the Hon Member came rightly and justifiably on relevance, when he quoted the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo in his State of the Nation Address -- saying that the energy sector was a challenge. The Hon Colleague said so. Now, to make reference to the State of the Nation Address in the past and to share factual details is equally relevant to this debate. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, I would want to believe that the Hon Minority Leader does not want us to have a reconstruction of the rules of this House. He cannot come on a point of order against my point of order. [Laughter.] Mr Speaker, that is unheard of in this House. He is totally out of order.
Hon Jinapor, you may continue.
Mr Speaker, for the avoidance of doubt, let me put it on record that I am not rehashing President Mahama's State of the Nation Address. It cannot be so because what I am doing is giving statements of fact and if the facts hurt, Mr Speaker, under your guidance, I would continue to give the facts. As I said, this House considered and approved the AMERI Project and we also worked on the AKSA Project. The combined effect of all these have currently led to an installed capacity of over 4,000 megawatts in the system, against the peak demand of 2,000 megawatts. In the history of this country, no government, no President and no administration has installed more thermal capacity to our generation capacity than that of His Excellency President Mahama. Mr Speaker --
Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, respectfully, just two months before the elections and at the time he was the Hon Deputy Minister in that sector and he insisted that installed generation capacity in this country was 2,800 megawatts, but he says today that, it is more than 4,000 megawatts. Which figure should we believe?
Mr Speaker, I did indicate that the installed capacity was 3,845 megawatts but as I speak today, the AKSA Plant is ready with more than 300 capacity. So, I am right when I say that, our capacity is about 4,000 megawatts. I have the document from the Energy Commission here, and that confirms that we have more than 4,000 megawatts. Mr Speaker, as I indicated, His Excellency the President also talked about the debt structure of the utilities which is a major concern to all of us. The President put a figure of US$2.4 billion as the net figure. In November 2016, the Ministries of Power, Finance and Petroleum, in collaboration with the World Bank, conducted an extensive and exhaustive analysis of the energy sector debt and we came to a net figure of US$1.3 billion and not US$2.4 billion. Mr Speaker, therefore, and with your permission, I would want to entreat the Media to check on these facts. These are facts from the World Bank and the records are here: the net debt is US$1.3 billion and not US$2.4 billion. Mr Speaker, US$2.4 billion is just the gross debt -- when we do business analysis, we do not use the gross figures. This is because the various inter-utility companies owe each other. So, we must do a reconciliation of the debt structure of the value chain in order to come to the net debt. Mr Speaker, even more important is the fact that just as the utility companies owe, they are also owed. This is because, they have receivables and through this exercise, we realised that their receivables amounted to about US$1 billion. So, if we are to do the cash analysis and the ratios and they were able to collect the monies, it meant that, effectively, we would be dealing with an amount of US$400 million and not even US$1.3 billion. Therefore, we took a bold and painful decision but a necessary one to deal with this challenge. Mr Speaker, that culminated in our coming before this
Hon Dr Akoto Osei?
On a point of order. Mr Speaker, I do not know whether my Hon good Friend is an accountant or a financial expect. Mr Speaker, they brought the Energy Sector Levy Act (ESLA) and told us that, it would yield US$250 million per year, but he just said that, the loan would be amortised in three to five years. Mr Speaker, US$250 million multiplied by four is US$1 billion, but he is talking about US$400 million. That is inconsistent. He is not giving us the facts -- he does not have them. He is just being inconsistent because he cannot say US$400 million. So, he gives us US$1 billion. If we factor in the interest, it would even be more. So, please, quote the right figures.
Mr Speaker, I am quoting nothing but the right figures and stand by these figures, because they are the right figures. Mr Speaker, some of the figures are in cedis and some are in dollars, so, if you do not put them within the right perspective, we would come to this conclusion. Mr Speaker, the most important thing is that, we took steps to amortise and repay this loan. Mr Speaker, this was said by no less a person than the Policy Advisor to the then Presidential Candidate, Mr Boakye Agyarko, who is now the Hon Minister for Energy. Mr Speaker, I shall tender that to you as evidence. Mr Speaker, having gone through this, and taken these difficult but necessary measures, I wish to state on authority, and I am convinced that under no circum- stance should dumsor re-visit us. The current dumsor that we are facing -- the prevalence of dumsor today cannot be attributed to the erstwhile Administration. Mr Speaker, not in the least -- no way. This is because we took all the difficult decisions and we worked tirelessly on the situation. The whole of last year, we had reliable and sustainable power. The FPSO went off for two months but we never had dumsor. So , it therefore beats my imagination that the FPSO goes off for just one week and almost the whole nation is plunged into darkness. Mr Speaker, we are available to help them. Mr Speaker, in concluding, access to energy has become a major component of our system. When we took over, access to electricity was just about 50 per cent. But as I speak to you today, access to electricity is 83.5 per cent -- second to only South Africa. When it comes to generation -- Mr Speaker, in conclusion, we wish to entreat our Hon Colleagues on the other side of the House that, on Thursday, when the Budget is presented by the Hon Minister for Finance, we shall keenly monitor to ensure that the energy sector levies and the Value Added Tax (VAT) which they promised are scrapped.
Hon Yaw Buaben Asamoa?
Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity. Mr Speaker, I would want to focus on what H. E. the President described as lawlessness in the transition. But before I go there, I would want this House to join me in celebrating the man, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo -- [Hear! Hear!] -- a man of political tenacity, a man of timber and calibre, a man who was virtually written off, but now honoured and he is an example to us all.
Order! Hon Minority Chief Whip?
On a point of order. Mr Speaker, I come under Standing Order 93(4). Mr Speaker, we are talking about the State of the Nation Address. We are not talking about the calibre of person Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo is. [Uproar.] He said he was celebrating Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo. He wants attention, so that he might become a Deputy Minister. This is not the Chamber that one uses in lobbying. He must speak to the Motion before us, because relevance is the key. I know this is the first time he has caught the Speaker's eye to speak on the floor. He must learn that, on this floor, we speak on relevance. So, he should not celebrate Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo- Addo. He should speak to the State of the Nation Address.
Hon Asamoa, please, continue.
Mr Speaker, I believe the name of the man we seek to celebrate is named on the back of the State of the Nation document. It is very relevant. Mr Speaker, this is the man who set a record by beating his opponents decisively in the first round; this is the man who has set the highest margin of victory in Ghanaian democratic politics in the Fourth Republic ever, and this is the man who has delivered a tsunami in this House -- [Hear! Hear!] -- switching the Majority to the Minority. Mr Speaker, coming back to the question of lawlessness and excesses, on page 2 of the Address, H. E. the President said, and with your permission, I beg to quote: “...otherwise dignified and successful transition. Wrongdoing has no political colour, and I do not subscribe to the lawlessness of political party supporters simply because their party has been elected into office.”
Mr Speaker, in the absence of effective regulation, excesses almost become legitimate. We are in an environment where in the Fourth Republic transitions were not regulated in any way. So, people came in and met with the situation where they had to operate off the cuff and on the hoof. Mr Speaker, we have always been in the situation where we cannot even develop acceptable conventions because of the partisanships. In the absence of laws, conventions would have been acceptable to regulate transitions. However, we are fortunate to have a situation where we now have Act 845. It is my premise this morning that, the Act 845 is inadequate to deal with the transition. Otherwise, we would not have the brouhaha going on now about cars, properties, State's assets and about every other thing that happens to be with this transition, including facts and figures about gargantuan debts. Mr Speaker, let me refer, in particular, to a few key issues. On national assets acquisition, distribution, maintenance, retrieval, custody and accountability, Act 845 purposes to vest a capacity in the gentleman who is supposed to be in charge of this that is the Administrator- General. At the same time, section 8(5)of the Act purposes to make the Administrator-General the procurer of government's assets. It is not clear. Are we getting rid of the Procurement Act? Are we getting rid of procurement entities? Is the Administrator-General now going to be a general government's procurer? There is confusion. Who keeps the Government's assets? How do we determine what we have at any point in time? Who standardises purchases? It is something that needs to be reconciled with the Procurement Act of Act 663. Mr Speaker, a more thorny question; organisational and personnel changes. Here we are, we would come to a transition and one would inherit a staff or an organisation and he believes that, the organisation has been specifically targeted and staffed with sympathisers of the other party who might not be on the same wave length with him, either ideologically or even in implementing his visions. Mr Speaker, what does he do? I believe Section 14, which is the Schedule for Act 845 is inadequate to deal with political appointments, and those who must automatically step down when a new President comes into being. Even those who manage public utility service facilities accept that when a new government comes in, they must move aside for the new government to take over. Why are certain persons in certain organisations at the highest level pretending that nothing has happened yet? Mr Speaker, this Act does not take enough cognisance of the number of agencies, public entities, the personnel of which must change in order to give the new Government leeway to deliver on its vision and promises. A very important one at this point is the post-declaration exercise of powers by H. E. the incumbent President, who has lost an election. I would read this one, Section 6 (3)of Act 845 --
Hon Minority Leader?
On a point of relevance. Mr Speaker, I am compelled to rise on Order 93 (4]. Once again, on the important matter of relevance. Our Colleague has been waxing law; waxing suggestions on how inadequate the Transition Act is. If he is citing the inadequacy of the State of the Nation, we would understand. He has also gone into the world of the Procurement Act versus the Transition Act versus the Government's Administrator and procurement. Mr Speaker, we are debating the President's message on the State of the Nation. Mr Speaker, he also proceeded without admitting, that transitions have not been regulated in this country. If that was so, there would not be a Seventh Parliament of this Republic, because this Seventh Parliament has inherited a transition process. Therefore Mr Speaker, my Hon Colleague would be guided to limit himself to the message of the State of the Nation Address. If he has suggestions to an amendment to a law that he feels dissatisfied with, he could see the Hon Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, but let the debate on the State of the Nation Address continue.
Mr Speaker, unfortu- nately, the debate is getting to the point where throughout the country, everybody talks about lawlessness, exaggerated or otherwise. I believe it is exaggerated to the extent that, H. E. the President had reason to refer to lawlessness in the second or third paragraph of his Speech on page 2. It is germane to the relevance of this very House and to the nation. Today, we are on this side of the House; yesterday, he was on the other side.
Hon Member, conclude.
Mr Speaker, to conclude, I believe that, where there is a vacuum -- one cannot quite describe the situation as lawlessness. What this House needs to do is to take it upon itself. It could happen on the other side, it could happen here. Mr Speaker may, using his powers under Standing Order 192 (1), instruct the Constitutional, Parliamentary and Legal Affairs Committee to take up the Presidential (Transition) Act, review it and bring proposals to this House for amendments, in line with the Speaker's desire to take on private Members' Bills and H. E. the President's desire to strengthen Parliament. Thank you for the opportunity, Mr Speaker.
Hon Members, Order!
Mr Speaker, my mother at the age of 84 still runs a business. Therefore there must be a strategy for geriatric care for our aged. There must be a strategy to reward those who have gone ahead of us and have contributed so much to the economy. Mr Speaker, under President Mahama's Administration, we came up with “Eban” card, which was a priority access card for the elderly. We also came up with free National Health Insurance for the aged. Mr Speaker, it would be good for His Excellency --
Hon Member, in concluding?
“Doyo”. Doyo is a university student, and one of the swing voters. There are many like her, who we all tried to win during the 2016 election. However, I was unsuccessful, as a few days before the election, Doyo told me that she had become an ardent advocate for change. Mr Speaker, after the President's Address, Doyo sent me this unsolicited view of the State of the Nation Address, and Mr Speaker, with your permission, I read, and she says: “Aunty Della, President Akufo- Addo was being partisan in his address. He made an unnecessary comment to mock the NDC supporters, saying that they have a problem with funds.” [Interruption] --
“I am wondering how his Government plans to execute the free SHS…” [Uproar] --
Hon Member -- Hon Majority Leader?
On a point of Order. Mr Speaker, the Hon Member has told us that the person who she has refused to name, except to name her middle name, claims that she campaigned for change. Mr Speaker, I would want to put it to the Hon Member that this statement she reads is only self- serving. She must submit the entirety of her discourse with the lady, in order for us to know that indeed, she campaigned for change. Mr Speaker, the Hon Member should submit it. Otherwise the Hon Member should better stop what she seeks to do. The message can only be self-serving. She should submit it to this House, and Table the conversation between her and the lady, if she wants to make any point.
Hon Members, anony- mous references are not allowed in Parliament, and if an Hon Member seeks permission to quote, then it should be granted before they quote. The next speaker is Hon Annoh- Dompreh.
Mr Speaker, I thank you for your kindness. Mr Speaker, I would want to make some contributions to the State of the Nation Address delivered by His Excellency, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo. Mr Speaker, some few introductory remarks would suffice. Did the President tell us the truth? The answer is emphatically yes! [Interruptions] --
Hon Members, Order!
Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I note that the Hon Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu was on his feet on a point of order. Mr Speaker, you tolerated him and that affected the delivery and conclusion of the Hon Member who was at the time on the floor -- the Hon Della Sowah. Mr Speaker, right after the point of order, in deference and in respect to your Chair, she took her seat, not because she had concluded, but because she wanted to hear your guidance and ruling on the Hon Majority Leader's point of order. Mr Speaker, I have noted that you have recognised the Hon Annoh-Dompreh. Mr Speaker, one, the challenge of the Hon Majority Leader was for the Hon Member to name her source of who did the change and who did not do the change. She has not been given an opportunity to respond to that, neither has she been given an opportunity to conclude on her own debate. Mr Speaker, I believe that I should draw your attention to this. If she is out of time, I believe that before you recognise the Hon Member, you would have given her an opportunity to respond to the Hon Majority Leader's point of order.
Hon Minority Leader, I have heard you in extenso. By the time I ruled or made that statement, the Hon Member had exhausted her time, with extra three minutes. [Interruption.] Hon Member, you may check with the Hansard. I mean what I say.
Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity. Mr Speaker, I would wish to ask a few questions. First of all, I wish to know if the President told this august House the truth, and the answer is definitely yes! Mr Speaker, was the President extraordinary in his presentation? The answer is yes! Did the President accept to deal with the plethora of economic challenges that face this country? The answer is yes! Mr Speaker, I have heard many of my Hon Colleagues on the other side repeatedly make the statement that the President did not touch on this, and many other things. Mr Speaker, I have known His Excellency, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo- Addo in my days as a student leader. He is an orator, a good speaker, and an admirable legal luminary, but that day was exceptional.
Mr Speaker, thirty minutes to the end of the Address, the whole House was quiet, because the speech was replete with wisdom, practical solutions, and of course, defined a path for the progress of this country. Mr Speaker, if you would permit me, I would want to present just a few statistics as the President enumerated. The President made it clear that our debt profile stood at GH¢122 billion. Mr Speaker, I was scared to the teeth, making reference to some statistical figures churned out by the President that some 92 per cent of the debt profile of this country was procured by the erstwhile NDC Administration in a space of eight years. That is totally unacceptable. Now, I can appreciate fully why when we went to the polls, the NPP talked about free SHS now and our Hon Colleagues on the other side, usual of them, talked about progressive free education because they knew the havoc they had done to the economy. So, they could not have accepted that the free SHS was possible. Again, my good Friend, Hon Kwabena Mintah Akandoh's constituents are going to benefit from the free SHS.
Even my good Friend, Hon Yieleh Chireh's constituents would benefit from the free SHS. Mr Speaker, all we ask --
Order! Hon Yieleh Chireh?
Mr Speaker, in this House, when we debate, we do not mention people's names as if we are addressing them. Moreso, when one mentions the Hon Minority Leader and says Hon Haruna Iddrisu, one is not respecting the Standing Orders. If one is an Hon Minister, one is referred to as an Hon Minister; if one is a Leader, one is referred to as such.
Hon Member, stop personalising and continue.
Mr Speaker, I take a cue. Mr Speaker, the President mentioned matters related to irrigation and agriculture. For the Sixth Parliament that I was part of, I recalled vividly that, irrigation, particularly, the Accra plains has been a huge subject matter of all the State of the Nation Addresses presented to this House. Promises upon promises have all turned to be fiasco.
Mr Speaker, H. E. the President's dream of one village, one dam will ensure that, particularly, in the Northern Region, all arable lands are irrigated to facilitate agriculture and to ensure that, we produce enough to feed our citizenry and export the excess.
Thank you very much. Hon Adongo?
Mr Speaker, I beg respectfully to support the Motion on the Floor to thank H. E. the President for his delivery of his maiden State of the Nation Address. Mr Speaker, it is interesting to note that, H. E. the President said he was in a hurry and now I can understand why. With your permission, I come under Standing Order 89 to read portions of H. E. the President's Address. On page 4, the President made this point, and I wish to quote with your permission. “Total projected expenditure for 2016 was GH¢43.9 billion (26% of GDP), but actual expenditure amounted to GH¢50.3 billion (30.2% of GDP). Mr Speaker, this gives us an unplanned and unbudgeted expenditure of GH¢7 billion and I am very curious. Mr Speaker, permit me to read the reviewed budget of 2016 presented to this House by the then Minister for Finance, Hon Seth E. Terkper. And with your permission, I read from page 60, paragraph, 261. It reads: “Mr Speaker, the total expenditure and arrears clearance have been revised downwards from GH¢46.445.7 million (29.3 per cent of GDP) to GH¢46.297.0 million (27.8 per cent of GDP) …”. Mr Speaker, I doubt where H. E. the President got the figure of GH¢43 billion because it is not known to this House. Mr Speaker, this becomes even more worrying when we consider the fact that, in November, 2016, the Bank of Ghana (BoG) reports that Ghana's total expenditure as of that time was GH¢41.7 billion. Now, for us to have run the dotted line within one month to accumulate an additional GH¢9 billion can only be to justify a GH¢7 billion mystery that we struggle to unravel. Mr Speaker, again, there is so much confusion around the President's Address when it comes to the economy. During the International Monetary Fund's (IMF) visit and in the Report of the IMF, we were told, and indeed, H. E. the President made reference to that, when he said Ghana's deficit is 9 per cent. This report was issued on 10th February, 2017. Mr Speaker, four days later, the Senior Minister who is an important member of the Economic Management Team and who we have been told was involved in all deliberations with the IMF appeared before a breakfast meeting of Graphic Business and Stanbic Bank and declared that Ghana's deficit was 8.6 per cent. I am at a loss whether I should believe H. E. the President or the Senior Minister, particularly, when the President has picked a figure that is not known to this House which is an expenditure projected of GH¢43 billion instead of GH¢46 billion. Again, H. E. the President made a point that, Ghana's debt to GDP is 74 per cent. Mr Speaker, if you translate that into GDP
actual value, you would get a GDP of GH¢165 billion. Mr Speaker, as per the reviewed budget and the budget documents of this House, we are aware that the NDC Government projected a growth rate of 4 per cent at a total value of GH¢160 billion. From the President's Address, we exceeded that target of GH¢160 billion to GH¢165 billion and ironically, our growth rather dropped to 3.6 per cent. That is something that we need to look at. In order to address this confusion, Mr Speaker, I have to refer to BoG to see whether I can get some help. Mr Speaker, permit me to quote from the BoG's Monetary Policy Committee's Report of January 2017 which terminated in December 2016. With your permission Mr Speaker, I beg to quote: “… the total public debt 2016 stood at US$30.1 billion (71.9% of GDP) as at November.” My question is, as of November, if we translate this figure to Ghana's GDP in value terms at a terminating exchange rate of 4.3 per cent, we would get a figure of GH¢180 billion of GDP value -- GH¢15 billion more than the figure reported by H. E. the President. Mr Speaker, it is therefore, not surprising that H. E. the former President, John Dramani Mahama, granting an interview in South Africa indicated that Ghana's debt to GDP should be 65 per cent, and I explained why. 11. 50 p. m. Mr Speaker, let us take the figure of GH¢ 180 billion as reported by the Bank of Ghana in November, and granted that no economic activities occurred in December and that we hold that figure constant, what we get at a debt of GH¢ 122 billion, is a debt to GDP of 67 per cent. Given that, there are economic activities in December, we should get a bigger figure for December and becoming gradually to the figure of His Excellency, John Dramani Mahama; 65 per cent. Again, Mr Speaker, I would like to make reference to the President's Statement on the financial system of Ghana. And here, I would want to refer us back to 2008. In 2008, Ghana's banking system was in shambles. It was so much in shambles that our capital adequacy was 7.7 per cent. Today, capital adequacy is 17 per cent, close to 10 per cent more than in 2008. Mr Speaker, the banking sector was under so much stress that Barclays Bank of Ghana recorded its first loss of GHc7 million in fifty years. It took two years under the leadership of former President, Prof. J. E. A. Mills for Barclays Bank to recover and make a profit of GHc59 million. But in a wake of that, Madam Margarete Mhango Mwanakatwe, the Managing Director from Zimbabwe was fired because of the performance of Barclays Bank. Fast forward 2016, and we have a different story for Ghanaians to see. His Excellency made a statement to the effect that our non-performing loan portfolio has, deteriorated. Again, this is not supported by the facts. And here I would like to quote from the Monetary Policy Committee's Report of 2017 January terminating in December, 2016, and with that Report, the Bank of Ghana reports that the non-performing loan position of Ghana declined from 19 per cent in October to 18.8 per cent in November and to 17.4 in December.
Hon Member, do you rise on a point of Order?
Does that mean you rise on a point of clarification?
Hon Member, are you challenging the figure?
Hon Member on your feet, are you willing to substantiate that allegation that, that particular person was fired or you would want to withdraw that and continue?
Mr Speaker, I believe it does not change --
Hon Member, respectfully, if it is misinformation, for the Hansard, it is a serious matter. If you are not certain - you are making some very good points, but if you are not certain of that one, please withdraw and continue.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. I withdraw that statement and I would continue -- [Hear! Hear!] Mr Speaker, I made a point that, His Excellency the President is aware of the Monetary Policy Committee's Report. That Report indicates quite clearly that, as at December 2016, His Excellency the President inherited a financial sector that was healthy, that is stronger and that is underpinned by re-structuring. And again, I would like to quote from the statement of the Monetary Policy Committee. The Monetary Committee indicates that; “The non-performing loan position of Ghana declined because of the re-structuring, re-classification and the commencement of the payment of the Energy Sector Levy.”
Order! Hon Member, thank you very much.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker.
Hon Member for Offinso South, Hon Abdallah?
Mr Speaker, I did indicate that, I would speak tomorrow but not today. So, respectfully -- [Interruptions.]
Hon Barbara Oteng- Gyasi?
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to contribute to the State of the Nation Address by His Excellency the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo. My focus this morning would be on the vision of His Excellency the President. And Mr Speaker, permit me to quote --
Mr First Deputy Speaker to take the Chair in the course of this. Please, proceed.
Mr Speaker, permit me to quote the vision of His Excellency the President on page 15 of his Address. He states, “It is a country where we focus on trade, not aid, a hand-up, not a hand- out. It is a country with a strong private sector. It is a country that recognises the connectedness of its people and economy to those of its neighbours. This requires a forward-looking vision for our country, enabling us to confront our challenges and embrace our opportunities, not one fastened in the rear-view mirror. It is a Ghana beyond aid.”
MR FIRST DEPUTY SPEAKER
Hon Member, continue.
That is the vision of His Excellency, the President. A Ghana beyond aid. I believe that this is a laudable vision for our country. It is a time when virtually all our development efforts are premised on some donor or development partner assistance. It is really a bold visionary who aims to achieve a country beyond aid. This would put us up in the class of the world's advanced countries. This is a wakeup call for all with regard to self-reliance, self-belief, hard work with integrity and honesty. This is a call which should resound across our nation, all Media houses and all our communication channels to all our towns and villages and beyond to our citizens in the diaspora, that our vision is a Ghana beyond aid. Mr Speaker, to show that this is no empty rhetoric, H. E. the President in the body of his speech sets out how he intends us to work together towards realising this goal. He sets out the key elements for the industrial transformation of our nation, such as the industrial revolution which would result in the creation of jobs and help resolve the great challenge of our times which is unemployment. Mr Speaker, as a representative of a largely rural constituency; and I am sure many other Members of Parliament (MP) represent similar constituencies; the agricultural programme, with its planting for food and jobs tagline, would be the basis for the agro-processing industry. This would naturally complement the One District, One Factory programme, which would bring income to our rural areas and boost the human dignity and confidence of our people. The completely free education programme would bring relief, especially, to poor rural dwellers whose children can live up to their best God-given potential. In addition, when a working National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) is in place, the major pillars of poverty would have been broken. A job to provide income, free education for young people and health insurance, would result in a healthy educated populace, ready to challenge the world. This is the vision of a Ghana beyond aid. Let us support H. E. the President to bring this about and realise his dream, such that, Ghana would take her place in the history of the world, especially, as we celebrate our 60th Anniversary. Thank you Mr Speaker, for the opportunity.
Mr Speaker, I am very grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the Motion on the State of the Nation Address. Mr Speaker, as I listened to H. E. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, I got the impression, which has been stated by many of my Hon Colleagues, that the President was quite partisan and did not rally the nation. When he came to assess the economy, he said on page 3 of the State of the Nation Address, and I quote; with your permission: “…it gives me no pleasure to have to say that our worst fears have been confirmed, plus a few additional, unpleasant surprises as well.” One would wonder, “worst fears”, is this an economy or nation akin to Syria, Iraq or Libya? You would wonder. Perhaps we may be able to learn some lessons from what H. E. John Evans Atta Mills said when he delivered his first State of the Nation Address on the 19th of February, 2009. It is interesting to note that that State of the Nation Address was delivered earlier than this one, though we are told this is a President in a great hurry.
“We will depart from the practice of undoing the valuable contributions
of our predecessors. A house that is constantly rebuilding its foundation is doomed to remain stuck to the foundation level, never to reach completion and decoration, let alone occupation. Ghana deserves better.” I hope that in subsequent State of the Nation Addresses, we would acknowledge the contributions that all Governments have made. Mr Speaker, on page 2 of H. E. President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo- Addo's Address, he stated and with your permission, I beg to quote: “Mr Speaker, I am, indeed, in a hurry, I am in a great hurry.” Mr Speaker, with all due respect, the people of this country voted for H. E. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo for great results and not great hurry. We want great results and not a President who would be in a great hurry. In any case, we all know that it is really about the direction and not just being in a hurry. There is a saying that, if you rush, you crush. We ask, what is the direction of this hurry? So far, we have a lot of concerns. This State of the Nation Address failed to touch on the very tragic incident in Bimbilla where over 10 people have been confirmed dead, many have been hospitalised and several villages have been abandoned. All we hear is the President giving us greetings from The Gambia. He spent a lot of time in The Gambia, but none in Bimbilla. When we raised it, the Communications Director of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) said that it would be in the budget. Most shocking revelation.
Hon Member, hold on. Hon Member for Manhyia North?
Mr Speaker, I rise on Standing Order 93 (4). With your kind permission, I read: “The speech of a Member must have reference to the subject matter under discussion.” Mr Speaker, we are discussing the State of the Nation Address. Therefore, we should be limited to the Address, instead of veering off to talk about other matters. H. E. the President was silent on the Bimbilla conflict. I wonder why our Hon Colleagues on the other Side of the House keep on reminding us to comment about this very sensitive issue that borders on someone's sensibility. So we should limit ourselves to the State of the Nation Address and address it accordingly.
Hon Member, be guided and continue.
I am grateful, Mr Speaker. Again, the direction of this hurry did not touch on any foreign policy matter. The Speech was totally quiet on what would be the foreign policy thrust of H. E. President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo- Addo. In this era of great uncertainty where our nationals living in other countries are concerned, all these anti-immigration attacks, xenophobic attacks, the Africa Union (AU) Agenda 2063, the post- BREXIT negotiations that we must enter - There was no mention of a foreign policy thrust, and that was quite surprising from a former Foreign Minister of this great Republic. Mr Speaker, on page 6 of the President's State of the Nation Address, he stated, and with you permission, I beg to quote: “For too many young people, unemployment is sadly the reality of the start to their adult life. For years, for generations, it was assumed and guaranteed in this country that the quality of life of every generation would be an improvement on that of their parents. We are now faced with the phenomenon of parents looking on in frustration as their grown-up children remain at home, without the means to strike an independent life by themselves.” What the President did not tell the good people of this Republic is that, at the Ministry of Education, we were in the process of recruiting, after receiving financial clearance, of 22,802 Ghanaians. I have a copy of the letter here, dated 6th December, 2016. Mr Speaker, during the transition, we were told to suspend this recruitment exercise. The breakdown is as follows; recruitment -- 3,820, replacement, death and retirement -- 6,325, reappoint, study leave without pay -- 4,557, reinstatement -- 29, newly trained -- 2,912 and non- teaching staff -- 5,159. Because of the new community day schools that were constructed and all of that, these vacancies had been created.
On a point of order. Mr Speaker, my Colleague from the other Side of the House the Hon Member for North Tongu said that, the President's State of the Nation Address did not address anything on foreign policy. I am so surprised. Mr Speaker, if we read paragraph 6 on page 6 of the State of the Nation Address, it says, and with your indulgence, I beg to quote: “We have to irrigate our lands and equip farmers with the skills needed to make farming a well-paying business. We aim to popularise farming by encouraging many people to take it up as a full or part time activity. A National Campaign, “PLANTING FOR FOOD AND JOBS” , will be launched to stimulate this activity. An amount of 125 million Canadian dollars . . .” [Interruption] --
Hon Members, Order! Hon Member, are you done?
Mr Speaker, I am not done.
Hon Member, can you go straight to the point?
Mr Speaker, they are drowning my voice. If they do not keep quiet, I cannot continue.
Hon Member, kindly address the Chair. Can you please go to the point you addressed relating to foreign policy? [Laughter.]
Mr Speaker, Ghana is in partnership with the Canadians to help -- [Interruption.]
Hon Okudzeto, please, continue. You have two more minutes.
Mr Speaker, today, the people of Ghana have heard that ideal policy would be our foreign policy. [Laughter] Mr Speaker, the point I made was that, 22,802 Ghanaians could have been employed. Two months down the line, this suspension order that came from the Transition Team is still enforced and this 22,802 Ghanaians are still at home, yet, the President came here and lamented and bemoaned and appeared to sympathise with the youth of our country who are unemployed. Hundreds of schools have been constructed and there are vacancies that have been created to access because of this expansion and Ghanaians are waiting to be employed. The Transition Team must lift this ban so that, the 22,802, Ghanaian youth could be employed. Already, this happened at a time where even the few who had gained jobs were dismissed.
Hon Members, Order!
Mr Speaker, instead of job creation, we see job substitution where national service personnel have been sacked.
Hon Member, please, wind up.
Mr Speaker, in winding up, as we observe the great deal of confusion that has greeted the policy on free SHS, we do not know where the source of funding, we do not know how it would be implemented -- [Interruption.]
On a point of order. Mr Speaker, he talked about foreign policy. What happened in South Africa happened after the President had given the State of the Nation Address. The President has nothing to do with this.
Hon Okudjeto, please, your last sentence.
Mr Speaker, we would want to appeal to the new government to keep an eye on quality education. So far, we have not heard anything about that. In 2016, this country recorded the best Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) results ever -- 3,994 candidates scored above 500. Before that, the highest was 11 and this is unprecedented. For four consecutive years, Ghana was adjudged the best performing West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) country. The University of Ghana has been adjudged by Times Higher Education as the best University in West Africa and the seventh best in Africa. They should keep an eye on quality education as they go about implementing their free SHS programmes. Thank you, Mr Speaker,
“I have heard it said that I am behaving like a man in a hurry. Mr. Speaker, I am, indeed, in a hurry, I am in a great hurry. The times, in which we live, demand that we, all, be in a hurry to deal with the problems we face”. Mr Speaker, for some of us who had the privilege to travel with the President, the then candidate; Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, and now the President of the country and Commander-In-Chief of the Ghana Armed Forces, we understand better when the President said he was indeed in a hurry. Mr Speaker, those of us who had the privilege to travel with the President during the campaign, the then candidate, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, through the nooks and crannies of this country understand better when the President said he was in a hurry. Mr Speaker, one of the things had to do with the high level of neglect and deprivation that many Ghanaians, especially, the rural folks went through under the previous administration. That was one of the reasons the President said he was in a hurry to reverse this. The other issue has to do with the high level of unemployment among the youth of this country. Mr Speaker, the level of waste and corruption that took a center stage during the previous administration is also another reason the President said he was in a hurry to reverse. Mr Speaker, the inability of parents throughout the country to pay the fees of their wards at the senior high school level is another issue that the President wants to reverse, and that is the more reason why he is in a hurry. Mr Speaker, the insensitive manner in which trees were planted within the SADA (Savannah Accelerated Development Authority) belt led to fruitless results. Mr Speaker, I would want to refer to the Auditor-General's Report on Public Boards, Corporations and other Statutory Institutions for the period ended 31st December, 2013, on page 421 at paragraph 1878.
“Abuse of single source procure- ment provision to award afforestation Contract -- GH¢32,498,000.00.
We did not understand why a project covering five regions involving over 300 afforestation sites for the planting of 5,000,000 trees should be awarded to only one contractor”. The Auditor-General went further to say, and with your permission, I beg to quote: “This practice does not promote healthy business competition, fairness and transparency in the award process. As a result of this action, value for money was not obtained because of the mode the contract was awarded.” Mr Speaker, the President is in a hurry because, the One District, One Factory Policy is something that would bring a lot of jobs to the youth of this country. And so certainly, if one is voted by the people of this country to take over the reigns of the country, why would the person not be in a hurry to reverse the trend so that the person could put smiles on the faces of the youth. That is the more reason the President is in a hurry. He wants the US$1 million per constituency to among other things, enable our mothers who are especially in capital trade, engage in income generated activities. This is one of the reasons the President is in a hurry. Mr Speaker, the One-village, One-dam Policy which would go a long way to engage a lot of our farmers up north during the dry season would equally contribute to afforestation activities as there would be water all year round. We are moving from a period where people would plant trees around November and December up north and expect them to thrive. This is what the President wants to reverse, and that is the more reason he is in a hurry.
Hon Member, you have two minutes.
Mr Speaker, in conclusion, the President is also in a hurry because, he is bent on reducing waste in the management of the economy through proper prudent public procurement as noted early on. This is because —for lack of time, if we go through the Auditor- General's Report, from 2012 to date, one would be so sad, and that is why the country is on its knees today. And that is the more reason the President is in a hurry to reverse the trend.
Mr Speaker, thank you very much for the opportunity to also contribute to the debate on the Address that was presented on the floor of Parliament by H.E the President. Mr Speaker, in doing that, I would want to refer to page 9 of the President's own speech. On paragraphs 3 and 4 in which my Hon Colleague from Buipe had indicated, that, if we look at the manner in which H.E the President presented the picture of the Energy Sector, it created an impression that the Energy sector was going to collapse the following day. Mr Speaker, indeed, it is important to know where we are coming from. In 2008, when the NDC was contesting to take over the reins of government, there were a number of issues affecting the Energy Sector. Mr Speaker, the first one had to do with generation capacity. We would recall that in 2006-2007, this country was bedevilled with a terrible energy crisis and that was because of our inability to generate sufficient power for our country. Mr Speaker, the second challenge that faced us had to do with fuel security. We had only one source of getting fuel, and that came from Nigeria, through the West African Gas Pipeline. Mr Speaker, the third point had to do with the level of losses of our utilities. If we at look the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG), GRIDCo, Volta River Authority (VRA), indeed, in terms of levels of loses, we were talking of the neighbourhood of about 40 per cent. Mr Speaker, the fourth one had to do with the financial health of the same utilities. Mr Speaker, I believe that my Hon Colleague, in his earlier submission had dealt with the issue of generation capacity. But suffice it to mention that at the time the NDC took over power in January 7 2009, the installed generation capacity in Ghana was 1,810 Megawatts. As at January 6, 2017, when the NDC was exiting, the installed generation capacity was, 4,132 Megawatts— [Hear! Hear!] — And indeed, from this number, the dependable capacity was 3,110 Megawatts. Mr Speaker, in terms of fuel security, because the NDC Government knew that it was dangerous to rely on another country for fuel source, it decided to invest huge sums of money in getting our own gas. As we speak today, on daily basis, we have about 80 million standard cubic feet of gas supply to the Aboadze Energy enclave— [Hear! Hear!] — But I was surprised that this did not find expression in the President's own Address. Mr Speaker, it is also important to state that the Energy Sector is made up of the Power sub-sector and the Petroleum sub- sector. But unfortunately, what happened was that, we had a very convenient manner in ensuring that the achievements in the Petroleum Sector were not highlighted. And I would want to give my version of —
Hon Member, under Standing Order 92 (b), the Hon Member on his feet must grant you leave to elucidate. I will allow you to continue if he is willing to grant you leave to elucidate.
All right. Your point is well made. Hon Member, continue.
Thank you very much Mr Speaker, but basically, what I talked about had to do with the Petroleum sub- sector, and what he attempted reading had to do with issues of ECG which fall under the Power sub-sector. Mr Speaker, these are two major projects that can never take off without supply of gas as a primary product. So, on the basis of that, I felt that the President needed to, at least, acknowledge the basis on which he was going to push this country using these two sectors of our economy. Mr Speaker, you would recall that on the 18th of August --
Hon Member, you have two minutes more.
Mr Speaker, you would recall that, on the 18th of August, 2016, His Excellency the former President turned the valves for the commissioning of production of crude oil from our second field. This was an important event that needed to be highlighted, that was never done. In terms of our local content, indeed, we talked about jobs based on our experience in the mining sector, it was important to bring in a law that would ensure that, at least, Ghanaians took a greater part in the whole industry. As we speak now, as of 2016 between January and June --
Hon Member for Ledzokuku?
Mr Speaker, I rise on Standing Order 93 (4) -- “The speech of a Member must have reference to the subject matter under discussion.” Mr Speaker, His Excellency the President never created the impression that, our colleagues on the other side of the House did not do anything during the past eight years; the absence of this project is not an indication that, they never took place. He went straight to talk about some of the very significant problems the sectors faced. The mentioning of petro-chemicals and --
Hon Member, thank you. This is not a point of order. When you are contributing, you can address it.
Mr Speaker, thank you very much for the opportunity given me again. I talked about local content. If we look at what the Local Content Law has done for this country, I just stated that between January and June 2016, the volume of contracts that went to Ghanaians and Ghanaian companies was US$221 million, an improvement of the 2015 figures -- [Hear! Hear!] -- which was US$128 million. On this note, Mr Speaker, you would realise that, as a country, and looking at our energy sector which to a very large extent, in 2008 was in a state of despair, you can only, but accept that, the former President, His Excellency President John D. Mahama and the late Prof. Mills have collectively placed the energy sector as a sector that would ensure that, it does not become a constraint to the economic development of this country.
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to contribute to the Motion on the floor. Mr Speaker, I would like to refer to paragraph 6 of page 7 of the State of the Nation Address and would crave your indulgence to read: “Mr. Speaker, if I were to ask each one of you in this Chamber, today, to tell me what the number one problem in your constituency was, I suspect there would be a uniform answer: JOBS”. I would like to speak on this issue, which is the issue of unemployment in our country.
What is your trouble? [Interruptions.]
Hon Members, Order!
Mr Speaker, the issue is that, there are limited jobs in the country as of now. So I believe it is only right for the new Government to create more employment opportunities for the youth of this generation. [Hear! Hear!] Mr Speaker, I plead with this Honourable House to support the President's initiative, that is, the One District, One Factory initiative. [Hear! Hear!] I believe this policy would go a long way to create more jobs for our young ones as well as the initiative of Private Public Partnerships (PPPs). I believe companies already in existence with the support of the Government, would be able to expand their businesses in order to also employ
Mr Speaker, one other issue that I believe we should pay more attention to, is the issue about the environment which the President spoke about. I would say there are a lot of activities going on presently in Ghana, which destroys our environment. One of them has to do with illegal mining, deforestation, sand winning and all sorts of activities which we should avoid to protect our motherland. As Hon Members, I believe, it is high time we supported the President to attain these goals to protect the land that was given to us by our forefathers. Since Ghana would celebrate its 60th birthday very soon, I would urge Hon Members to reflect on the Message of the President on the State of the Nation to promote Mother Ghana and make Ghana a better country to live in. Thank you.
Mr Speaker, I wish to contribute to the debate in thanking the President for his State of the Nation Address. In doing so, I have an observation to make and this observation is from members of my constituency.
Are you sure?
Yes, I am very sure. This is because, we have seen the President on two occasions put his hand on his chest when the National Anthem was being played. Which one shall we take on Monday, the 6th of March, 2017? [Laughter] [Hear! Hear!] This is because as teachers and parents, we need to le our children know what is good for us. Mr Speaker, I would want to limit my contribution to education; there is a proverb in my language that, ‘the goat is never angry when it sees a lizard in a hurry sewing a pair of trousers'. This is because, when he finishes sewing the trousers, how is it going to wear it? The President in his Address, on pages 10 and 11 talked about education and promised that he would make senior high school education free, come September, 2017. Mr Speaker, we know very well that we have problems with our basic school system, and we are yet to get the structures and fundamentals right. We know that this is not the first time we are introducing free secondary education in Ghana. Way back in 1965, President Nkrumah started this free education. In 2015/2016 academic year, President Mahama continued with this free secondary education in line with the provisions of article 25 of the Fourth Republican Constitution. Mr Speaker, on page 11 again, we saw that the President in one of his speeches somewhere else, also promised that all day students would be given a meal every day. The question is, under which infrastructure would they take the meal? I ask this because, I know very well that the senior high school in my village which is a day school, does not have a dining hall. Are they going to eat under trees? That is why we say that we need to take caution. If we are in a hurry, we would get crushed. Mr Speaker, we say that we need to get our fundamentals right. Once the fundamentals are not right and we implement this programme, we would have implementation hiccups. That would not augur well for us. This is not the time to sacrifice quality for quantity, because that would not help us achieve the objectives we want to achieve as far as education is concerned.
Hon Deputy Majority Leader?
Hon Member, can you refer us to the particular clause or document?
Mr Speaker, I thank you very much. At the 60th Anniversary of Okuapeman Secondary School, the President made that assertion. [Hear! Hear!] The reflection of the mind is expressed in the State of the Nation Address. So there was no need for him to say everything here.
Hon Member, what you are saying is that what you are specifically referring to is not contained in this Address?
Mr Speaker, what I am trying to say -- [Interruption.]
Hon Minority Leader, I would want to be clear what the confusion is about. After that, I will give you the floor.
Mr Speaker, the statement made on the floor was with reference to the State of the Nation Address. So, if he is saying that it was said outside that document, then it should be captured as such because this is a House of records. If the Hon Member is bringing in other extraneous matters to buttress a point, I do not have an issue with that; but he should state that it is from a speech made elsewhere.
Thank you, Hon Deputy Majority Leader. I believe the point is well made. He talked about something that happened outside and not a part of the State of the Nation Address. Now, Hon Member, proceed. You have two minutes more.
Mr Speaker, talking about the restoration of allowances to teacher trainees, we know very well that it is not only the colleges of education in this country that train teachers for us. As I said earlier, whatever is good for the goose should be good for the gander. We have a Faculty of Education at the University of Ghana which also trains teachers. Such teachers should also be brought onto the programme, if we would want to be sincere and fair to them. [Uproar.] We have the University of Education that also trains teachers for our institutions as well as the University of Cape Coast. They are all teacher trainees. Once colleges of education are tertiary institutions, it is just proper that these institutions where teachers are trained are also brought on board to benefit from the teacher trainee allowances.
Hon Abraham Dwuma Odoom?
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for giving me the opportunity to also commend H.E. the President for his concise, picturesque and generally acceptable State of the Nation Address. Reports coming from my constituency say that the President made a statement which really caught their attention. And with your permission, I would like to read: “Mr Speaker, for too long, our farmers have been left to cope by themselves without the necessary support from government; for too long, our farmers have been left to the mercy of the vagaries of the weather.” Mr Speaker, President Kufuor came in 2001 and at that time, cocoa production was around 250,000 metric tonnes. With good programmes and policies, he increased it and even projected that, in 2011, Ghana would hit one million metric tonnes based on the fact that Ghana had at the time, a cocoa stock of 1.5 million hectares. If we can husband a cocoa tree to give us only 25 pods, we are getting one kilo and for that matter, Ghana had the potential to make 1.5 million tonnes. It was on that basis that during President Kufuor's era, high technology in cocoa production and other husbandry activities made such impact in the lives of the farmers to the extent that in 2012, President Kufuor was chosen as one of the Nobel Prize winners --
On a point of order: Mr Speaker, this is a House of records. The Hon Colleague has made allusions to the cocoa sector under President Kufuor's era. I would want to crave your indulgence for him to humbly submit to this House, documents to that effect, because he is just speaking extempore and we cannot attest to whether what he is saying is right or wrong. He has quoted some figures. We deal with facts in this House. Mr Speaker, I crave your indulgence, let the Hon Member furnish the House with the appropriate documents before he continues. Thank you.
Hon Member, continue.
Mr Speaker, I have the information here. [Interruptions.] Mr Speaker, it is saddening to reckon that from 2011 to 2016, Ghana has declined from one million metric tonnes to 750 metric tonnes. Mr Speaker, I therefore, urge this noble House that any time we have the opportunity to discuss cocoa here, we should do so with all seriousness. This is because everybody knows that Ghana is cocoa and cocoa is Ghana. Especially at this time, as we celebrate our 60th birthday, we can never forget cocoa. This is because it was cocoa that earned us our independence.
Hon Felicia Adjei?
Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to contribute to the Motion that this Honourable House thanks His Excellency (H.E.) the President for the Message on the State of the Nation, which he delivered to Parliament on Tuesday, 21st February, 2017. Mr Speaker, I would like to limit my contribution to two areas; women and children's issues, and peace and security matters. Mr Speaker, I was excited to hear the President talk about the need to pass the Affirmative Action Bill and the need to achieve the 30 per cent target of participation of women in public appointments.
“Mr Speaker, government will work with Parliament to pass the Affirmative Action Bill to increase women's involvement in decision making at all levels, and enable us achieve our current objective of 30
per cent participation of women in public appointments.” Mr Speaker, I am glad that the President condemned the incident that occurred during the transition period.
“Mr Speaker, certain incidents occurred during the transition period that are matters of concern to me, and should be to every Ghanaian, as they marred an otherwise dignified and successful transition. Wrongdoing has no political colour, and I do not subscribe to the lawlessness of political party supporters simply because their party have been elected into office.” Mr Speaker, this means that 60 per cent of those killed in the recent Bimbilla
Hon Member, please, hold on. I am referring to my Hon Colleagues on the left. You are standing up and doing all kinds of things which are distracting her.
Mr Speaker, I thank you. The sad aspect is the loss of lives of the four innocent children who could have grown up to be responsible citizens of service to our dear nation. Mr Speaker, I raised this issue of peace and security because, without peace and security, there cannot be development, and it would be difficult for the Government to carry out the number of promises it has made to Ghanaians. Mr Speaker, how would the Government implement its One Village, One Dam, without the peace and security? What about the One District, One Factory? Mr Speaker, I therefore appeal to all Ghanaians, especially, the security agencies, to ensure that, there is peace in the entire country at all times.
Hon Charles Bintin?
Mr Speaker, I rise to contribute to thank H. E. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo- Addo for his Address. Mr Speaker, I would want to talk on his policy of One Village, One Dam. If we take, for example, those of us from the Northern Region, we would realise that we have only one crop season. This is a policy that is coming to give us a second crop season. If we have that, it would solve a lot of problems. In the dry season, a lot of our youth run to the urban areas because they basically have nothing to do. So they come to add to the problems the south.
Order! Order at the Leadership tables.
Mr Speaker, there are a lot of conflicts. If we watch carefully, these conflicts happen mostly in the dry season. During the rainy season when people are busy on their farms, nobody has the time to fight. Mr Speaker, if we have these dams, farmers, and for that matter the youth would be engaged both in the dry and rainy seasons. So, they would not have time to sit down and plan any conflicts. Mr Speaker, that is why every Ghanaian should embrace this policy and contribute to its success. Mr Speaker, I hope our security agencies would be up and, as they are already to the task, continue to work as they are doing now. This is so that, these policies would be implemented in the atmosphere of peace and tranquillity.
Mr Speaker, thank you for giving me the opportunity to contribute to the debate on the State of the Nation Address by His Excellency, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo- Addo, which he delivered on Tuesday 21st February, 2017. Mr Speaker, with your permission, I would want to limit my contribution to page 11, paragraphs 8 and 9 where he talked about health. And with your permission, I beg to quote: “…we have to be healthy if we are to make a success of the plans and aspirations we have.” Mr Speaker, I agree with him because healthy people drive productivity and productivity drives the economy. The President himself, acknowledging how important health is, decided to dedicate only one paragraph and a sentence on health -- [Laughter] -- I believe that was unfortunate. This is because the message did not really tell Ghanaians the state of health of the people of this country which is needed to drive the economy. He talked on the national health insurance, and stated that it was not in good state. Mr Speaker, the President spoke in the context of increasing access to healthcare in this country. When we talk about access, it is not only about National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), though it is important. Mr Speaker, with access, we have to look at geographical and financial access. The President was silent on geographical access but the President Mahama led Administration realised that it was equally important to look at geographical access. What did he do? The Government invested massively to address the issue of geographical access. Mr Speaker, permit me to give you a few examples of what ex-President Mahama did; the 617 bed capacity Teaching Hospital project at the University of Ghana Hospital, the expansion of the Tamale Teaching Hospital, the Ridge Hospital which is just by us -- [Hear! Hear!]-- 250 bed capacity hospital in the Ashanti Region, 160 bed capacity Regional Hospital in the Upper West Region which the New Patriotic Party (NPP) used seriously when they were campaigning. Mr Speaker, the fact on geographical access is that ex-President Mahama invested massively, which should have been acknowledged. Our elders have taught us that when somebody does something good, we appreciate their efforts then, we say what can be done in addition.
You have two minutes more.
Mr Speaker, thank you. Mr Speaker, touching on the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) which is indeed faced with challenges, we also have to admit that, more work was done during ex-President Mahama's era. If they talk about the NHIS, they have to tell us the utilization level of our health facilities. In the year 2009, we talked about 16.6 million people. As at 2014 we dealt with more than 30 million patients visiting our health facilities. Hear! Hear! The payment in 2009 was about ¢263,000,000.00. As we stand, the payment to our health facilities is about ¢1.73 billion. We are in a scientific era and therefore, when we talk, we back our statements with evidence. Mr Speaker, to conclude, to me, the President's message was selective. It was just to highlight an area which he thought was important for Ghanaians, but next time, I would want to say that his speech should tell us the state of health of the people which would include the life expectancy, infant mortality, under five mortality and then the disease burden of the country he is dealing with. After that, he could tell us what he would want to do moving forward.
Hon Member, your time is up.
Mr Speaker, thank you for this opportunity to contribute on the floor. First of all, I would want to congratulate the President for such a wonderful speech when he addressed the State. In terms of health, he touched on the very sensitive issue of the day; it was short and simple and he kept it so. Mr Speaker, the NHIS; we talk about access. According to Titus and May (1994), access to healthcare depends on the decision, first of all, to go to the health center; secondly, the financial means to go; and thirdly, the waiting time. Mr Speaker, by virtue of how brief the President was, he meant to say he was so pro-poor. The NHIS, as it is now, does not address the need of the poor. As I speak, the last time providers were paid in terms of earnings of the NHIS was in May last year and for that matter, the President said so, that the situation, as it is now, is so poor. Mr Speaker, be that as it may, he has touched on the most sensitive issue; that is the financial burden and access to healthcare. That is why I would have to congratulate the President for such a sterling performance in identifying the needs of the people at this point. Mr Speaker, the situation where providers are paid after a year is not the best for the country. Elsewhere in Nigeria, where the population is more than Ghana and obviously Africa's most populous country, they pay all providers at the end of the month. As of 2008, the delay of payments to providers was only three months and it was so until 2010. Currently, it is over a year and if this trend continues, then providers would obviously walk out of the Scheme. That is exactly what the President emphasised on. Mr Speaker, the concept of health insurance, per the Southern American countries and the South-Eastern Asian countries from whom we borrowed, is meant to be pro-poor. Therefore, the President has shown that, he has the interest of the poor at heart. Mr Speaker, going forward, I congratulate the President for seeing the need to pay the allowances to our colleague younger brothers and sisters in the nursing training institutions. Mr Speaker, but there is one important thing on which as a country, I believe a policy direction would have to be taken on. The World Health Organisation (WHO) says that, there is what we call brain drain; this is the export of health workers; all nurses in the developed countries -- countries which could actually utilise such resources. In the Philippines, they are earning a lot from the export of nurses to this country. Years ago, those who produced nurses were only the State-owned institutions but it has now been pluralised and a lot of the private institutions are producing a lot of young nurses. Many of these private nurses are not employed in the government institutions and many of them are graduates but are unemployed. Mr Speaker, policy is dynamic and for that matter it is about time we took a decision as a country, where we would have to export health workers, especially, nurses, because, they are in excess supply; we could make some returns and streamline the process. Mr Speaker, thank you for this opportunity.
Mr Speaker, thank you. I rise to contribute to the Motion asking this House to thank His Excellency the President for the delivery of the State of the Nation Address. Mr Speaker, if for nothing at all, what the President did was to give meaning to article 67 of the 1992 Constitution. Mr Speaker, President Akufo-Addo had some good words for His Excellency former President Mahama about his sterling performance during the transition process. Right from the very moment that President Mahama entered into Ghanaian politics and governance, he had demonstrated that, he is not just an astute politician but also a true democrat and a true patriot. I could see the same electoral events in 2020. President Nana Akufo-Addo was so happy that President Mahama handed over smoothly to him and I am very much convinced that, in 2020, we would witness the same electoral event. When that happens in 2020, President Akufo- Addo should emulate the shiny example of President Mahama. Mr Speaker, since 1993, the State of the Nation Address, across the globe, including Ghana, had been a major platform for governments to state their major policy positions and changes if there is any. President Akufo-Addo failed to take the opportunity to announce to this House and for that matter the Ghanaian public about what his policy position is on very critical issues of national development. My Hon senior Colleague had earlier stated that President Akufo-Addo was extremely quiet on his foreign policy. Ghana is a member of the sub-regional body; Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), a member of the African Union (AU) and also a member of the United Nations (UN). Ghana is a signatory to several Treaties and Protocols and I am very convinced that very soon, President Akufo-Addo would appoint his Ambassadors. Yet, he was very quiet on Ghana's foreign policy framework. This is a man who has held the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of our country for several years. Mr Speaker, it is not just the issue on foreign affairs but on the issue of youth and sports --
Hon Deputy Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I would want to draw your attention to the Hon Member for Effutu. He seeks to make a point of order.
Very well. Hon Member for Effutu?
“Mr Speaker, I bring you greetings from The Gambia, where I was a guest last weekend at the inauguration ceremony of President Adama Barrow. Ghana should always take its membership of ECOWAS seriously, as its viability advances our national interest.” Mr Speaker, if the President of the Republic appears before this House and says that we should take our membership of ECOWAS seriously, then what more must he say on foreign policy regarding the sub-region?
Hon Member, please proceed.
Mr Speaker, I still maintain my position that President Akufo-Addo was extremely quiet on foreign policy. Reporting on happenings in The Gambia cannot be our foreign policy. In fact, it is no wonder Planting Food for Jobs has become our foreign policy. Mr Speaker, it is not just the issue of foreign policy, President Akufo-Addo was also very quiet on youth and sports. Majority of the Ghanaian public are within the youth brackets, but the President did not even dedicate one line of his State of the Nation Address to the House and for that matter the Ghanaian public to address the issue of youth and sports. If there is one thing that unites us in this country, it is sports; and the President was very silent on it. In fact, he did not tell us what he would do to promote the lesser known sporting activities. Mr Speaker, soccer, which is our greatest --
On a point of order. Mr Speaker, thank you very much. I rise on Standing Order 92 (1) (a). Mr Speaker, my Hon Colleague from the other side of the House said that, the President never made even one statement on youth and sports. I would want to refer him to a particular portion of the State of the Nation Address which talks about measures that would be put in place to create jobs. Please, we do not have to talk about football and boxing before we hear that, somebody is talking about youth and sports. The major beneficiaries of the jobs agenda are supposed to be the youth of this country. So, I would want to let him know that the Ministry of Youth and Sports does not only take care of sports, but the youth as well. The President spent a significant portion of the speech to talk about measures that would be put in place to address the issue of unemployment, which is the single biggest problem facing the youth of this country today. Mr Speaker, I am grateful.
Hon Member, continue. You have two minutes more. So please proceed quickly.
Mr Speaker, jobs are not just for the youth of this country. [Hear! Hear!] I still maintain my position that President Nana Akufo-Addo was silent on the issue of youth and sports. He was again silent on culture, tourism and the creative arts industry. The creative arts industry offers job opportunity to the teeming youth of this country. President Akufo-Addo was extremely silent on that one too. Mr Speaker, on environment, science and technology and on Information Communication and Technology (ICT), he was quiet. We all know the important role of ICT in our national development. President Akufo-Addo was again quiet on that issue. On the issues President Nana Akufo- Addo spoke to, he barely scratched them. For instance, when he spoke about health, the only policy statement that he talked about, was the National Health Insurance Scheme. For goodness sake, health is not just about health insurance. There was no commitment to the training of our health professionals. On what plans we have to train medical doctors and nurses, their deployment and how to retain them, he was quiet. Mr Speaker, President Nana Akufo- Addo missed the opportunity to speak to the core issues that relate to the national development of this country.
The last person on the Majority side is Hon (Nii) Kwartei Titus-Glover. Daniel Nii Kwartei Titus-Glover (NPP -- Tema East): Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. I equally rise on my feet to contribute to the Motion on the floor that is, to thank H.E Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo- Addo for State of the Nation Address he delivered to the House last week. Our Colleague who just contributed made the statement that, H. E. the President thanked former President Mahama for his contribution in the transition, and for that matter in the year 2020, President Nana Akufo-Addo should do same to hand over power to the National Democratic Congress (NDC). Mr Speaker, the contrary would happen. That is not going to happen. Mr Speaker, this is because the kind of work His Excellency the President would put in place would make it practically impossible for the National Democratic Congress (NDC) to think that they could regain power in the next four years. Mr Speaker, we have an NDC Government that was bequeathed with a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth of 8.4 per cent in the year 2008; that was revenue without oil. After getting oil that we worked hard under former President John Agyekum Kufuor and the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Administration, for, with all the resources that they had and with all the revenue they accrued for; local taxes, exports of minerals, their growth was yet 3.6 per cent. This is why the NDC would want us to clap for them. Mr Speaker, let us go to agriculture. On page 6 of H. E. the President's statement, and with your permission, I beg to quote: “ Mr Speaker, I believe the starting point in turning round our fortunes must be with agriculture. Un- fortunately, the state of agriculture in our country right now is not good. Farmers are left on their own. It is not surprising, therefore, that food prices are high and we are having to import almost everything we eat, including vegetables from our Sahelian neighbours. Mr Speaker, this is because the NDC Government's contribution to agriculture was less than 1.1 per cent. With the Ministry of Food and Agriculture and the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, last year, out of the Budget of GH¢50 billion we approved in this Chamber, 1.2 per cent was shared by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture and the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development. How is this going to reflect in the production of food items in the country?
On a point of order. Mr Speaker, from the quotation the Hon Member read from the State of the Nation, it is not true that we import almost everything we eat in this country. It is also not true that the farmers of this country are left alone.
Hon Member, which Standing Order do you come under?
Mr Speaker, so, he is misleading the House. Nii Kwartei Titus-Glover: Mr Speaker, I love kontomire too much. Even a simple kontomire is imported from his corridor in the Western Region. Kontomire is imported from la Cote d'Ivoire. What are we talking about? Mr Speaker, our Hon Colleagues do not want us to tell them the facts. So, he should please cool down and allow me to flow.
Hon Member, address the Chair. Nii Kwartei Titus-Glover: Mr Speaker, in the year 2008, I recall when the NDC was in opposition. They attacked us that food imports like rice, millets, wheat, poultry products was about US$300 million at that time, believing that, when they had the opportunity to rule this country, they could manage. Surprisingly, Mr Speaker, this jumped from US$300 million to US$1.5 billion in the eight years of the NDC Administration. It is very serious. Mr Speaker, this is why we have a pragmatic President whose background is from the Eastern Region, who has been to the farm himself. He has seen the practicality and the toil of farmers in this country. For that matter, he said no, he was not going to complain. He would put measures in place to make sure that farmers, first of all, could be recognised. Mr Speaker, what is he talking about? He said that extension services -- One would go to certain places, and even in providing extension services, the motor bicycles they even ride on to go and inspect farm crops is a problem. Buying fuel into these motor bicycles is a problem. These are the facts and my Hon Colleagues at the other Side know about them. Mr Speaker, he told us that he would make sure that extension services, that is, between the farmers and production, are taken care of. The supply of inputs is also very crucial. That is why --- Mr Speaker, recently, I travelled to Bolgatanga. As we drove past Pigu, Diari, Nasia, before we got to Walewale, there was a vast land and the people of the Northern Region have, at least, between two and three months, in the whole
On a point of order. Mr Speaker, I have paid keen attention to my Hon Member. I thought we were debating the State of the Nation Address as delivered by H. E. the President. The whole time, he has been describing what he President intends to do in the future. He has the chance to do so in the next four years. He should talk about the State of the Nation Address as it has been delivered. The things that the President would do on extension services and how he would transform agriculture, he would have the opportunity to do that.
Hon Member, that is not a point of order. Please, continue. Nii Kwartei Titus-Glover: Mr Speaker, I thank my Hon Colleague, Kofi-Armah Buah. Let me reemphasise that, we are not lamenting, because the President said he would not complain. The practicality on the ground is that, from the State of the Nation Address, food production is so low, and as the President, he needs to address the problem. How does he address the problem? I have said a few minutes ago that extension services that hitherto were nothing to write home about, he is now going to put into them some sort of enthusiasm to make sure that farmers and the extension officers have something good to do. By so doing, they would be able to give the right professional advice to our farmers. Is the provision of seeds not going to enhance productivity in the agriculture industry? Mr Speaker, the President spoke about the “Planting for Food and Jobs” Initiative. About CAN$125 million from the Canadian Government, is to support the programme. It reminds me of “operation feed yourself” when I was a young boy in the primary school. This is very important. It is going to create jobs for our youth. It would move them away from the streets, and I talked about the Nasia-Nabogo land that I saw they used in growing rice. Mr Speaker, you can imagine when this One Village One Dam is constructed. The kind of happiness and smiles that would be seen on the faces of these hardworking youth from the north? The elders are aging, therefore we need to put pragmatic policies in place to encourage them to stay and produce food for us. Mr Speaker, let me continue. The President also indicated --
You have two minutes more. Nii Kwartei Titus-Glover: Mr Speaker, I beg. Mr Speaker, the President addressed the issue of unemployment. On page 7, and with your permission, let me quote: “The most critical challenge, inherited by this NPP government, is the very high, unprecedented level of unemployment, particularly among the youth. It is a debilitating and confidence-sapping problem that affects every home. We can argue on what the official rate of unemployment is, but we can all see the desperation of our young people. They want to work, but there are no jobs and some of them are being driven to unacceptable behaviour. We have a veritable time bomb on our hands”. Mr Speaker, this is a national security matter. If our young men and women on the streets do not have jobs to do, it is a problem for us. Therefore, he provided a solution. Mr Speaker, the President said; “To address this challenge, the government is embarking on one of the most comprehensive pro- grammes for industrial transfor- mation…” The private sector is encouraged to come in here. Government alone cannot absorb all jobs for the youth, therefore the private sector needs to be encouraged, so that, they would have that support, and by so doing -- Mr Speaker, that is why the nuisance taxes that are really battling production in the private sector would be taken care of in the Budget on Thursday. Mr Speaker, another issue I would talk about is taxes --
Hon Member, wind up. Nii Kwartei Titus-Glover: Mr Speaker, last year, the Export and Import Act, I believe, Act 951 of 2016, on the EXIM Bank that was passed, is a trade and industry Fund, but it can play a very crucial role in the support of the stimulus package that the President wants to initiate to support businesses for our country to promote employment for our youth. Mr Speaker, in winding up, on the issue of corruption, one area that has killed this country is sole-sourcing, and my Hon Colleagues on the other side can bear testimony to that. Mr Speaker, because of lack of competitive bidding, it has led to increase in projects, and by so doing, we sometimes do not have value for money. I believe that His Excellency the President was apt, he was straight to the point, he has identified the problem that is killing our country, and it is our duty as Members of Parliament devoid of --
Hon Member, your time is up. Nii Kwartei Titus-Glover: Let us see how we can solve the problem for this country rather than politicise this issue as if it is about “we” and “them”. Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity.
Mr Speaker, thank you very much for giving me this opportunity. I would invite all other Hon Members here to join me to thank His Excellency the President for the Address delivered, and I am happy that, he realised the fact that health is wealth. Mr Speaker, I have some few observations to make in the area of health. It is rather unfortunate that the President's focus was on curative health rather than preventive. This is because in every health system, the focus is always more on preventive rather than curative, especially, in the phase where the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) is always labeled as having collapsed. [NII KWARTEI TITUS-GLOVER] [NII KWARTEI TITUS-GLOVER]
On a point of order. Mr Speaker, my Hon Colleague on the other side of the House is misleading the House. I come under Standing Order 92 (1) (a). Mr Speaker, the issue has to do with financing in terms of Health Insurance, where patients are made to co-pay. It is the most important against the basic reasons for the health insurance; risk equalisation — equity. Mr Speaker, we are talking about enrolment and utilisation, and the major problem now is —
Dr (Nana) Afriye —
Mr Speaker, the major problem now is co-payment. So, if he talks about utilisation without recourse —
When the Speaker speaks, you keep quiet. I want us to be guided by the Standing Order you were relying on. Once you intend to rely on a Standing Order, you would be guided by it. Standing Order 92 (1) (a) says; “by rising to a point of order, that is, where any of these Orders is alleged to have been infringed, whereupon the Member speaking shall resume his seat and the Member interrupting shall simply direct attention to the point which he desires to bring to notice and submit it to Mr Speaker for decision; or…” Hon Member, you are only contributing. If you so want, you could tell me which Standing Order he has breached and why, then I would rule on it.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker.
“by rising to a point of order, that is, where any of these Orders is alleged to have been infringed, whereupon the Member speaking shall resume his seat and the Member interrupting shall simply direct attention to the point which he desires to bring to notice and submit it to Mr Speaker for decision; or…”
Hon Members, let us be guided by the rules. If you are on your feet on a point or order, you should show me that, the person on his feet is misleading the House, the person stated a wrong fact or said something which is unacceptable that is guided by Standing Order 93. It should be something that infringes Standing Order 93. I would then be called upon to make a ruling from there. Otherwise, it is as though you take advantage to make a contribution of your own views. That interrupts the debate. 1. 40 p. m.
Mr Speaker, admittedly, the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) has some problems, and as far as I know, the problem that the NHIS has is funding, which everyone knows about. Mr Speaker, we know that the amount of money that we accrue to solve the problem of the NHIS is not enough. The 2.5 VAT is not enough. There would be the need for government to seek for other sources of funding to complement whatever we have at the moment. That one is agreed upon, but to run down whatever someone has done, I believe, is not the right way to go. Mr Speaker, to come to the health training institutions, I believe that, the idea behind government scrapping the allowances of health trainees was to ensure that the schools are expanded for more people to be admitted. Sometime back, we had a problem of brain drain. A lot of our health professionals left the shores of this country to work abroad, and there was the need for us to replenish the stock that had left. Mr Speaker, all doctors in this House would admit that, in the past, the facilities in our villages were left without health professionals, but some few years ago, from 2009 till now, we have done a lot in that area, because the Ministry of Health increased the health training institutions from 25 in 2005, to 95 in 2015.
Yes, Hon Member?
I am grateful, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I rise on Standing Order 93 (2). Mr Speaker, the expansion of health facilities, especially the nursing training institutions, and the payment of allowances are not mutually exclusive. Mr Speaker, with prudent management of the economy, it is possible to expand, take in more nurses, and then pay them as well. Mr Speaker, my Colleague on the other side of the House made a personal allusion -- it is a personal allusion, and not a statement of fact. There is no evidence to show that the perpetuation of the payment of the allowances would stop the expansion of the facilities. Mr Speaker, they decided, as a matter of policy, to stop the payment of
Hon Member, continue.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I would want to let my learned Hon Colleague know that this issue of expansion may have a different meaning before him, but I talk as an administrator from the health sector.
Hon Deputy Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I believe I heard the Hon Member refer to Hon Dr Okoe Boye as his learned Hon Colleague. Mr Speaker, that terminology is restricted to the profession that the Hon Minority Leader, the Hon Speaker in the Chair and my goodself, belong to. The last time I checked, doctors were not part of that legal fraternity. I thank you, Mr Speaker.
Hon Member, just be guided that the reference “learned friend” is limited in use.
Thank you, Mr Speaker, I corrected myself. Mr Speaker, we would understand that sometime back, this country was hard hit by aging midwives. The Ghana Health Service had to rely on retired midwives to complement the existing midwives that we trained from our health training institutions. Mr Speaker, I can assure you that, as we speak, the problem of midwives in our health institutions has decreased. Let me also point it out that in that same year, 2009, we had only 500 midwives in our health facilities. But as we speak, as at 2014, we turned out as many as 2000 midwives. We could crosscheck with the Ministry of Health. Mr Speaker, when we come to --
Hon Member, you have two minutes more.
Mr Speaker, when we come to the National Ambulance Service, we have done a lot there. We have established a school for emergency medical technicians, and as we speak, we have turned out as many as 547 emergency medical technicians who work in every part of this country. Mr Speaker, all I would want to point out is that I believe that, the ideal of running down whatever a past Government has done should cease, because the current Government would not stay in power forever. Another Government would come, and we are all Ghanaians. We should be fair to past Governments, so that we stop running down whatever other past Governments have done. Thank you, Mr Speaker, for giving me the opportunity. I am grateful.
Mr Speaker, thank you very much. Mr Speaker, I believe that my Hon Colleague ended very well. I would refer to Standing Order 93(2) again. The Hon Member who just spoke constantly made reference to personal allusions. Mr Speaker, I would want to refer him to page 11, paragraph 8 of His Excellency the President's Speech. He never ever said that, the NHIS has collapsed. He said here that the NHIS has challenges, and he has even admitted that there are issues with financing. Mr Speaker, my Hon Colleague here has spoken about payment, so, his constant allusion that the President said that the NHIS has collapsed and that the President never acknowledged it misleads this House. Thank you very much for the opportunity.
Point well made, thank you. Hon Deputy Majority Leader, your guidance at this time?
Mr Speaker, in begging to second the Motion for adjournment, I would like to remind the House that the issue about the collapse of the NHIS was in the Manifesto of the New Patriotic Party. [Interruption.]
Hon Member, are you debating now? You know that as a Leader, you would get the opportunity to debate. Hon Member, did you second the Motion?
Mr Speaker, I second the Motion. [Laughter.] Question put and Motion agreed to.
The House was accordingly adjourned at 1.49 p.m. till Wednesday, 1st March, 2017, at 10.00 a.m. in the forenoon.