MR FIRST DEPUTY SPEAKER
VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS AND THE OFFICIAL REPORT
Item numbered 2 on the Order Paper -- Correction of Votes and Proceedings of Wednesday, 8th March, 2017. Page 1, 2, …10. Hon Members, the Votes and Proceedings of Wednesday, 8th March, 2017.
Mr Speaker, thank you very much. Mr Speaker, may I refer you to page 8, number 5 -- Afful, Yaw (Jaman South). I know that the Hon Member is a member of the Pan-African Parliament, and he is in South Africa at the moment. So, I am wondering if it should be absent with permission or just absent. It is marked as absent from the House. I want your direction on that.
Mr Speaker, on page 9, the eighth paragraph, the Hon Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection made a Statement in commemoration of International Women's Day.
Are there any more corrections to be made? In the absence of any more corrections, the Votes and Proceedings of Wed- nesday, 8th March, 2017, as corrected are hereby adopted as the true record of proceedings. Now, we have the Official Report of 24th February, 2017.
Sorry; what column?
The Hon Member is not in the House, is he?
Hon Yieleh Chireh?
Mr Speaker, thank you very much. I do not really see the issue that my Hon Colleague opposite is raising. First, is he saying that a letter was not written by the Ghana Publishing Company Limited, or the fact that the Hon Member who raised the issue had evidence indicating that indeed, the company did not have any such thing? Now, whether it is by another person and the response was given to them or not is not a matter for us to correct. It is for him to be clear on the thing that we are supposed to correct. It is clear that he is putting the fact before this House -- is he doubting the facts?
Hon Quashigah is here, and so, I would want to listen to him.
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity. Yes, the letter bears the name of Albert Quashiga (Esq), and it was upon my instruction that Lawyer Albert Quashiga wrote to the Ghana Publishing Company Limited, just as in the case of the farmer who took a case to court in relation to the Electoral Commission's breaches. His lawyer was Hon Afenyo-Markin, but indeed, if the farmer decides to make references to those legal documents, he would have every right to say “I”. This is because it is he who instructed and directed that such a move be made. Mr Speaker, so, I do not see the argument of my Hon Colleague on the other side calling for that record to be expunged from the records of this House. Mr Speaker, thank you so much.
Mr Speaker, thank you very much for the opportunity. As much as I appreciate the logic and argument being advanced by my Hon Colleague from the other Side, I would also want us to look at it from this lens -- assuming I am unlettered, but I need to write a letter to a relation of mine abroad and I engage my son who is educated to write that letter, at the end of the day, would I not have that mandate and right to state that I wrote a letter to my relation in the United States of America? Mr Speaker, I believe that this is simple logic or, at best to say, efie nyansa; to wit, common sense. I am not a lawyer, but I believe that within the remit of reasonable knowledge, it is appropriate and right for me to have indicated that I wrote this letter to the Ghana Publishing Company Limited.
Mr Speaker, thank you very much. Mr Speaker, it is interesting to have you in the Chair as a senior lawyer. We write letters on behalf of our clients, and in the opening paragraphs, we state that we are writing on the instructions of our clients. So, if my classmate, Mr Albert Quashiga, who happens to be the Hon Member's brother, wrote on his behalf, the record must state so; and he must be very honest with that. Because this is a House of records, and we would want to be sure that he instructed Mr Albert Quashiga to write the letter on his behalf. Mr Speaker, thank you very much.
Hon Members, order! Kindly resume your seats. The Official Report before us is the true reflection of proceedings on that day that Hon Quashigah said that he wrote to the Ghana Publishing Company. The evidence he tendered shows that somebody else wrote it. That is the record and that is what actually happened . The consequence of that is what you are drawing attention to, that indeed, the letter shows that somebody else wrote it, and not Hon Quashigah. Hon Quashigah's explanation is that he engaged a lawyer to write on his behalf. I believe that these proceedings would reflect that, indeed, instead of his earlier statement on the 24th of February, 2017, that he wrote the letter himself, the evidence before us now is that a counsel, Albert Quashiga (Esq), wrote the letter, and he may have done so on the instructions of the Hon Member for Keta. I believe that this should bring a closure to the matter. Any more corrections? Does the Hon Majority Leader want to speak to the matter?
Mr Speaker, the document in dispute begins, and I beg to quote: “RE: SEARCH ON EXECUTIVE INSTRUMENTS (EIs) GAZETTED SINCE JANUARY 07, 2017.”
“Your later dated January 16, 2017 related to the above heading has reference.” Mr Speaker, it comes from the Managing Director of the Ghana Publishing Company. I just want to know from my Hon Colleague if he wrote a letter and he had this response. What was his own response to the “later” and not “letter”
That matter has been traversed already. He has explained that he instructed a lawyer to write on his behalf. It was that part that he did not disclose in the proceedings of the day, and I would want the record to reflect that, indeed, he did not write the letter himself, but as he has confessed here, he engaged a lawyer to write on his behalf.
Mr Speaker, I am just saying that the response is not about any letter, but it is about a “later”. I just want to know what it means, and what it meant to him.
Hon Majority, thanks for drawing our attention to the error from the Ghana Publishing Company. Any more corrections on the proceedings of the Official Report?
Yes, Hon Member for Effutu?
Any more corrections? Very well. Hon Members, the Official Report of Friday, 24th February, 2017, as corrected, represents the true record of proceedings. I am advised that today is World Kidney Day and there are Statements standing in the names of Hon Dr Robert Baba Kuganab-Lem and Hon Yaw Frimpong Addo. These two Statements have been admitted, and I will allow one Hon Member after the other after which two comments, one from either side, will be admitted before we take the debate. I will start from Hon Yaw Frimpong Addo. Please, make your Statement.
Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to make this Statement that bothers on the health of Ghanaians as a result of our lifestyles and bad eating habits. Mr Speaker, today, Thursday, 9th March 2017, is World Kidney Day and it is a day observed globally each year to promote awareness and education about the importance of our kidneys to our overall health, and to reduce the frequency and impact of kidney disease and its associated problems. The theme for this year's celebrations is “KIDNEY DISEASE AND OBESITY:
HEALTHY LIFESTYLE FOR HEALTHY
Hon Members, there is too much noise in the room, please, observe some order and let us listen to the Hon Member.
Mr Speaker, this situation sends the whole family into serious financial crises to the extent of selling valuable properties, which may not save the life of the patient. For the economically disadvantaged people, Mr Speaker, the start of the disease is the beginning of their end of life. Research has shown that 10 per cent of all deaths in medical wards at the Korle- Bu Teaching Hospital is due to chronic kidney diseases. Unfortunately, most patients are young (between 20 and 50 years) and belong to the economically - active group. Renal failure starts slowly and kills silently, as its symptoms take a long time to show. Mr Speaker, it is heart-warming to note that when the disease is detected early, treatment is cheap and very effective, and the life of the affected person can be prolonged, if not saved. Other facts to note about kidney disease There is lack of awareness among the public of what their kidneys do. Healthy kidneys clean the blood and remove toxic fluid we pass as urine. Dialysis replaces the blood cleaning functions when kidneys no longer work. Kidney disease can affect anyone, but is more common in older people. Black and Asian groups are more likely to experience kidney failure. There is no cure for kidney failure. The only treatments are dialysis, a transplant or conservative care. Diabetes, High Blood Pressure and obesity are most common contributory factors for kidney problems. Throughout the world, millions of people are unaware that they are at risk of developing kidney disease and the illness is deemed a silent killer. In Ghana, the trend is that 28 per cent of our men and 38 per cent of our women are overweight. The findings also suggest that most people are satisfied with their body size, so they exercise less. In overweight or obese individuals, the kidneys have to work harder to meet the demands of the increased body weight. Programme line-up for the day Mr Speaker, the Ghana Police Hospital, in partnership with Health Education on Wheels (HEOW), will mark this year's World Kidney Day with a short ceremony and a health screening programme at the Police Hospital Annex today, Thursday 9th March, 2017, at 9:00am. The Minister for Health, Minister for the Interior, Inspector-General of Police, Osu Mantse and other guests are expected to grace the event. Mr Speaker, Hon Members and your goodself are invited to join the event and screening from 9.00 a.m. to 1.00 p.m. at the Police Hospital Annex Grounds. Mr Speaker, in solidarity with event highlights, “we invite all parliamentarians to drink more water to celebrate their kidneys”. This is meant to be a symbolic gesture to highlight challenges in tackling kidney disease in vulnerable populations where poor water hygiene, lack of hydration and unhealthy choice of beverages are problems. We would appeal at this time also that parliamentarians consider our request to add chronic kidney failure patients to the National Health insurance Scheme.
Mr Speaker, let me use this occasion to congratulate the Inspector-General of Police Mr David Asante-Apeatu, and the Chairperson of the Kidney Dialysis Committee, Dr Sylvia Anie, for their tireless work in driving quality dialysis care in the country.
I would ask Dr Robert Baba Kuganab-Lem to also make his Statement before I admit contributions. Kidney disease, an emerging debilitating killer in Ghana
Mr Speaker, today is World Kidney Day, and the celebration is to champion the eradication and reduction of kidney and related diseases through health education and promotion. The World Kidney Day was initiated by the joint committee of International Society of Nephrology and International Federation of Kidney Foundations. The day is observed annually on the second Thursday in the month of March. This is to raise awareness about our “amazing kidneys” and also highlight that diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity are the key risk factors for Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD). Mr Speaker, in Ghana, available statistics drawn from the National Kidney Foundation (Ghana) indicate a continual increase in reported kidney cases since 2008. Reports from the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital alone indicate that in 2008, reported cases were 2,435, and in 2015, 7,612 cases were reported. Mr Speaker, it is worth noting that the negative impact of the increasing menace of chronic kidney disease is very disturbing as most patients are young (between 20 and 50 years). Renal failure starts slowly and kills silently as its symptoms take a long time to show. Mr Speaker, a leading risk factor of kidney disease is diabetes. An estimated 19.8 million adults in the West Africa sub- region have diabetes, a regional prevalence of 4.9 per cent. Hypertension, the second leading risk factor of kidney disease, contributes to about 67 per cent of adult deaths in Ghana. Mr Speaker, this year's World Kidney Day affords us an opportunity to drum home the harmful consequences of obesity and its association with kidney disease. Advocating healthy lifestyle and assisting to develop and promote a national health policy that promotes preventive behaviors is the key to healthy kidneys. Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) is a terminal and very expensive to treat disease. Once a person is diagnosed, the patient must undergo dialysis until they do renal replacement. Dialysis involves pumping a patient's blood through an external circuit for filtration before it is pumped back into the body. A typical haemodialysis schedule is three sessions per week, for 3 to 5 hours per session at a special medical facility. The cost of supporting the treatment of patients undergoing dialysis is very, high ranging from GH¢550.00 to GH¢700.00 per week, apart from the drugs used to control blood pressure and sugar levels. Mr Speaker, the high cost of treatment, coupled with terminal nature of the disease moves the therapy from a medical to a socio-economic problem. Most patients eventually die after their resources can no longer support the cost of treatment. For economically disadvantaged people, the start of the disease is the beginning of the end of their lives. Currently, there are 10 haemodialysis centres in Ghana, with a total of 84 dialysis machines. The operating capacities of these machines are largely overwhelmed due to the increasing number of people who are diagnosed with End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD). Maintenance cost and unforeseen machine failures lead to downtimes, which further bring the operating efficiency of these centres to almost zero. Mr Speaker, at any point in time, these centres are overloaded and patients are kept on waiting lists for long periods further leading to severe and serious complications. Mr Speaker, the 10 dialysis centres in Ghana are unfairly sited. Six are located in the Greater Accra Region, one in the Central Region, one in the Volta Region and two in the Ashanti Region. It is increasingly difficult for patients residing outside these regions to benefit from the use of these machines. They are confronted with long travel time and additional accommodation expenses. The trauma of the disease coupled with the high cost of treatment drains the patients emotionally and economically, making it absolutely impossible to live a bit long with the disease. Mr Speaker, the neglect of other regions in the distribution of these critical dialysis machines is an affront to their fundamental human rights, and calls to question the mandate of the Ministry of Health of Ghana “to promote good health for all Ghanaians through the prevention of diseases and injuries and restore the health of the sick and the incapacitated”. Mr Speaker, it has become very necessary for various stakeholders in health to advocate for early detection through screening, and create awareness through health education and promotion. This should be facilitated by the Ministry of Health of Ghana. When the disease is detected early, treatment is cheap and very effective, and the life of the affected person can be prolonged, if not saved. Also, if people are aware of the consequences of their lifestyle and the problems it could bring them, some could change and may not be affected at all, knowing that the underlying factors that cause renal problems are lifestyle related. Mr Speaker, I urge us all to maintain healthy lifestyles by exercising at least three (3) times a week, drinking lots of water and avoiding concoctions of all sorts that are being sold, like koosey/ maasa to innocent and unsuspecting citizen. Mr Speaker, it is crucially important that, at least, each region of Ghana has a dialysis centre, and as a country, we make progress to having district dialysis centres in the next ten years. A clear cut policy on this silent killer should provide a pathway to healthy kidneys and raise national consciousness to this disease. Mr Speaker, I thank you for your indulgence.
I would admit one comment from the Minority, and one comment from the Majority.
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to comment on the issue on the floor. The issue of kidney failure as presented by the two Hon Members is really a problem. If you have had an occasion to have a family member going through such a process with your support, then you would see the magnitude and the problems it creates for the whole family, financially and socially. The end result is that, you lose the person that you have spent so much money on; a complete loss, irrecoverable good sums of money that could be spent on other people. Mr Speaker, underlying this kidney problem is a general problem of health and our perception of health problems. Generally in this country, our health outlook is to cure but not to prevent. The emphasis is more on curative than prevention, and that does not do us any good. There are a lot of diseases beside this kidney issue which could be prevented with very good lifestyles. I would like to find out how many of us exercise once in a week, which all health practitioners say is the best remedy. Mr Speaker, there are lots of food joints, several food vendors and how they prepare their food, and we take all these in with joy knowing that whatever we are taking could be harmful to our health. The right approach to this kidney problem is for us to have effective health education on health styles and act more on preventive measures. In addition to this, evidence abounds that in the normal orthodox hospitals, most of the administration of these kidney problems and other related health problems also have their side effects. I would add my voice to the traditional medicine practitioners and to request that if possible, we should also look at the traditional practices as a solution to this kidney problem. Mr Speaker, now we have a lot of these traditional practices and we have some developed to an extent where they have their own hospitals, do their own analysis, and at the end of the day, most of our people are cured, instead of going through these orthodox practices that also have their side effects. Mr Speaker, I, therefore, would like to appeal that as we observe the kidney day today, we should look at our lifestyles, the effective education and promotion of a worldwide view on the preventive things we have to do to avoid all manner of illnesses. Lastly, we should look at how we can be more prone to traditional medicine as a solution to this problem. Thank you for the opportunity.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I would congratulate both Hon Members who made the Statements regarding World Kidney Day. My comment would be that if we have a situation where we cannot completely regulate as yet the people on herbal medications, what we need to do is perhaps, raise the awareness that people need to understand that there are interactions between the herbs and the conventional drugs. So, when they meet the doctors, they make it a point to mention all the things that they are on, not just the conventional drugs. I would also urge all Hon Members of Parliament to conscientise their constituents with regard to exercising regularly and eating properly, and in that vein, I would also perhaps, point out that a lot of the data suggest that many Members of Parliament at the end of their term end up with chronic diseases, a lot of the time hypertension related to increased stress and perhaps, the extended sitting hours. I would use this platform to appeal to Mr Speaker to expedite the establishment of a gymnasium in Parliament so that -- [Hear! Hear!]-- when Hon Members are on the premises between Sittings and perhaps, during hours when they are waiting to go home, they be given the opportunity -- [Interruption.]
Hon Zanetor, you have the floor, please, continue.
Mr Speaker, they be given the opportunity to go to the gym, so that we can make up for the time we spend Sitting, because the extended Sitting hours do have an effect on our musculoskeletal system. And given the stress levels, it is well established that regular exercise is a good means of stress management.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. I would associate myself with the Hon Members who presented the Statements. Mr Speaker, kidney disease is a very worrying condition, but kidney disease itself is only a symptom, it is not the cause. We have a lot of causes for kidney conditions. We have infections, abuse of herbal medications; poisoning could also lead to kidney disease. Mr Speaker, there are two notorious causes of kidney disease. They are diabetes and hypertension. I did some work on hypertension in black people, and I am excited to mention that in a few months, I would launch a book on hypertension in black people. I wrote this book because of conditions like kidney disease. In this country, when you tell the typical Ghanaian to start taking medication for a condition like hypertension, they are not excited at all, because it is one of the conditions that you have no symptoms to show. A person hardly has symptoms to show, yet 33 per cent of Ghanaian adults are hypertensive. When you meet 100 Ghanaians on the street, one third of them have high blood pressure. The worrying trend is that out of this 33 per cent, only one third of them are aware of their condition, and only one third of those who are aware of the condition seek treatment. Out of the one third seeking treatment, only one third have their blood pressure controlled by the drugs that they take. This is the principle of one third when it comes to the high blood pressure condition. Mr Speaker, the very reason doctors beg patients to take their blood pressure medications is because of complications like kidney diseases, heart failure, stroke and other attendant complications. Mr Speaker, the way to go is to do massive education as to why we must take our medication. There are certain recommendations I would make when it comes to kidney diseases. Let me add that diabetes is also very notorious. In fact, when we have a patient of both conditions, his chances of getting kidney disease quadruples, and that is very worrying. Mr Speaker, one major cause of kidney disease, which is very relevant in Ghana
is the use or abuse of herbal medication. I am not in any way saying that herbal medications are not good for us. Mr Speaker, however, in this country when most Ghanaians take herbal medications, they do not take it in the right quantities. In fact, they do not even go to the qualified herbal practitioner to get the medications. They listen to what people say on the streets and then they go for the medications. The sad aspect is that when they go for these traditional sources and they get the complications, they rush to the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, Ridge Hospital or other orthodox centres. Mr Speaker, non-compliance, patients who deliberately do not take their drugs constitute one of the lead reasons kidney disease is on the rise. The reason for non- compliance is simple. There is a lot of misinformation in this country. When a patient comes to the consulting room and he is asked why he does not take his medications, he tells you that his sister had told him that when he takes the drug for many years he would get cancer. There has been no evidence, study, research work or empirical observation to show that the intake of medications for blood pressure over one's life time leads to cancer. Mr Speaker, we have other excuses that are given, but let me say here that when one takes his medications - and this goes for Ghanaians, including Hon Members of Parliament, who have a history of high blood pressure. One is better off taking their medications than not taking their medications. The reason is simple; the impact or the “so called” side effects that are mentioned by others cannot in any way be compared to the goodness that one gets from taking his medications. Mr Speaker, the women are very faithful and diligent --
With the excuses the men give, which one is the most notorious?
Mr Speaker, the sad thing is that, when the men get complications, it is the women who rush them to the hospitals. Mr Speaker, let me end by stating here that going forward -- In this country when we look at the enormity of the condition, in fact, it is a national security concern. This is because very soon most of the economically active citizens in this country would be kept at home as a result of morbidity. Mr Speaker, stroke is the number one killer in our hospitals now, more than HIV and uncomplicated malaria. So, going forward, I would recommend that when it comes to certain statutory activities that citizens go through like the acquisition of driver's licences, unlike going to register for the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT), we should make it a pre-requisite that at least, one's sugar level and blood pressure readings would have to be presented before one goes through such a process. Mr Speaker, it does not cost much. I was in the hospital yesterday, and it costs just GH¢6 to check one's blood sugar level. That could take a person out of serious problems that come with kidney disease. Mr Speaker, there is one fantastic recommendation I would conclude with. In this country, if one wants to check his or her blood pressure, the person would have to go to a place where they have other sick people with various conditions. Let us say, one goes to the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital and all he would want to do is to check his blood pressure although he is not sick. Over there, he might meet trauma patients and all kinds of conditions that he might not want to see. Mr Speaker, what I propose is that going forward, we should have wellness centres in this country. A hospital where one would not go and see people vomit, or see blood, but where one could walk in and get his blood pressure checked, and get some advice on whether he has many more years to live, or just a few years to live.
Yes, Hon Member for Komenda/Edina/Eguafo/ Abrem?
Mr Speaker, thanks for the opportunity. This is an area that I believe is very important, and as Ghanaians we need to really work on that. Mr Speaker, before one would get to the doctor, it would be a little bit too late. We need to be concerned about our food security. Right now, there are so many chemicals on the market that people use on plants and we do not know where they get them from, or how they should handle it. Mr Speaker, I am a farmer; we go to most of our cassava farms, our farmers these days do not want to use cutlasses anymore. What they use is the weedicides. If we read about the chemicals in the bottle, it is required that one wears an overall, gloves and everything else. When they spray these cassava plants, where does the residue of these weedicides go to? They go right into the cassava. Mr Speaker, when it comes to okra, they spray all these chemicals on them and they look so good on the market. We heard rumours recently about what they do to “koobi”. We have heard rumours about grasscutter and what they use to catch them. Every Ghanaian right now is a street doctor. Anybody who puts on a coat is a doctor, but we do not regulate any of these. Mr Speaker, when it comes to the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) and the Ghana Standards Authority, I believe we need to get them to pick up on their pace in this area. Right now, we talked about alcohol, which is a major cause of obesity and diabetes. When we drive into any filling station, we could get whatever we want and there is no age limit on who could get all these things. Mr Speaker, this is an area that causes Ghana quite a lot, it is an area that we really need to pay attention to. Being a farmer, I am concerned about the number of chemicals farmers use on the farm and the food that comes to the table. Some of us find it very difficult to eat vegetables, or salads because we see where they grow these salads . Who is in charge? Who makes sure that these things are regulated? This is where the problem is, so, by the time one gets to the doctor, it would be too late.
Hon Members, we decided that we would admit one person each, but now we have gone to two. I believe that should be enough. Is the Hon Minister for Health here? Or is the Hon Chairman of the Health Committee also here? Hon Ntim, are you the Chairman of the Health Committee?
Rightly so, Mr Speaker.
Very good. I would want you to investigate and assist the House on how many nephrologists we have in the country and where they are. I did some work on that and I was amazed to know that in the whole of the southern belt we have only one trained specialist, but from Kumasi up north, there was none. I believe it is an area we should look at. This is because old age catches up with everybody and we would need specialists like that to take care of us. Thank you.
Mr Speaker, I would check and get back to you. Thank you.
Hon Members, we are done. We would go to the debate now. Item numbered 4, the Motion has been moved and seconded, so, we would continue with the debate. Prof. Gyan-Baffour, Hon Member for Wenchi?
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, yesterday, my Hon Colleagues talked about the taxes that have been abolished or for which rates have been reduced or slashed; more of such analysis would be discussed today throughout the debate. Mr Speaker, the positive impact of all these things on the economy would be said. Hon Members would also talk about the policy initiatives that we have introduced -- One District, One Factory, One Village One Dam in the Northern Region, and the One million dollars for everybody in the Constituencies. Mr Speaker, I would not focus on these because my Hon Colleagues on both sides of the aisle would talk about them in due course. I would focus on the rationale behind the Budget Statement. Mr Speaker, first, I would talk about the implications of the Budget statement and how it relates to the political philosophy of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and its Government. I will then talk about the developmental path that the Budget Statement seeks to take and finally, the link between the development agenda of the Government as enshrined in our manifesto and the Budget Statement. Mr Speaker, this Budget Statement shifts the focus of development of financing from taxing the private sector excessively to encouraging them to produce more to enable the economy grow; and to enable it grow faster. Mr Speaker, this is in line with our Government's thinking. Indeed, the party's philosophy is that the private sector should be the vanguard of economic growth and development. This is consistent with the party's avowed and cherished principle that the private sector is indeed the engine of growth. This means that it is the private sector that creates jobs and not the public sector. Mr Speaker, the major role of Government, is to create an enabling environment for the private sector to thrive, expand its operations, create jobs and grow the economy. That is our philosophy and thinking and that is what the Budget Statement intends to achieve. Mr Speaker, removing nuisance taxes will enable the private sector have more fuel in the engine for growth and expand the economy. Mr Speaker, providing stimulus packages to ailing but potentially viable businesses enables the private sector to expand and create jobs. That is why over GH¢200 million has been earmarked to stimulate the private sector. Mr Speaker, that is the essence of what this Budget Statement is about -- to ensure that the private sector gets the necessary fuel to drive the engine that would be the growth engine of the economy. Mr Speaker, to provide US$1 million to every constituency every year would help set up factories, improve rural and sub- urban infrastructure, help to remove the financial and other environmental factors that disabled the private sector from establishing branches in these local areas. This effort is aimed at creating jobs and expanding the economy at the local level and in the rural communities. Mr Speaker, this is a better way of looking at inclusive growth. This move is at the heart of our political philosophy. A major tenet of it, Mr Speaker, is rural development. We are using economic principles to enhance the development of the rural communities. Take the factories down to the villages and towns so that the people in our constituencies can get jobs to do. Mr Speaker, this Budget Statement has been put together at a time when the economy is seriously in trouble. This is an economy with a deficit of about 8.7 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP); an economy that had arrears of about GH¢5 billion; an economy that is growing at a very feeble rate of 3.6 per cent, maybe, lower than half the rate that our Government in the past left it to the previous Administration in 2009. Mr Speaker, this is an economy in which the fiscal space is choked and clean quasi-fixed budget items cover almost about 99.6 per cent of all the resources that we have in the country. This is the context within which we have come out with this Budget Statement. Mr Speaker, before the Budget Statement was presented to this House, Hon Members on the other side of the
aisle jeered at us saying, “Do it and let us see”. Mr Speaker, we have done it and they have seen it. [Interruption.] We have been able to turn what seemed to be impossible to a possibility with finesse. Mr Speaker, we have reduced the nuisance taxes and provided funds for most, if not all, of our flagship projects.
Hon Member for Tamale North?
Mr Speaker, the Hon Colleague opposite is misleading the House and the nation. He said here that they have done what they promised to do but what we know is that these are proposals in a Budget Statement that are yet to be approved -- [Hear! Hear!]. Mr Speaker, nothing has been done yet. We only have intentions to do them and I would like the Hon Member to stick to the intended estimates that have been presented, nothing has been done yet.
Hon Member, you are out of order. Hon Member, please, continue.
To satisfy the Hon Member, we propose to do what we said we were going to do. Mr Speaker, we have done what has been proposed and we are going to do it. Mr Speaker, there are signs of our determination and what we have done is not to lament on what is going on. We are not here to complain about what has been done which is not right; we are here, Mr Speaker, to fix the mess that has been created by some Government. We are going to fix the mess that has been created in the last eight years. We are not going to lament over it. Mr Speaker, the mustering of wits in the design of this Budget Statement comes into clear focus when one realises that in the face of the difficulties, the lack of fiscal space, huge arrears and messy economic conditions, we were able to abolish these taxes and provided resources for these laudable flagship programmes, yet, we are going to reduce the deficit, the fiscal anchor from 8.8 to 6.5 per cent of GDP. Amidst all the mess, we are going to do that. Mr Speaker, this means that after doing all that, abolishing the taxes, reducing some of them, embarking on the investment that is needed to grow the economy, at the same time we are going to reduce the growth rate of borrowing. Mr Speaker, I see the former Deputy Finance Minister try to move --
Hon Member, you have two minutes more.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, the Budget Statement has signalled the development path that this Government intends to salve that is growing the economy through industrialisation. At the base of this industrialisation, Mr Speaker -- In adding value to our agricultural products and other raw materials, this, is the first step in the path of moving away from raw materials and commodity based economy to an economy that is based on industrialisation. Mr Speaker, that is why a lot of attention is paid to agriculture with irrigation infrastructure allocated GH¢89 million; agriculture inputs, GH¢70 million; one-village-one-dam, GH¢94 million; stimulus on industrialisation, GH¢219 million and one-district-one-factory, GH¢456 million. Mr Speaker, this is the development path that we have chosen and we will pursue it with vigour in the next four years. That is what we promised the people of Ghana and that is what we are going to do. We have started it, and once this industrialisation takes off, there would be no turning back. Mr Speaker, on this note, I would urge Hon Members from both sides of the aisle to approve the Financial Policy of the Government of Ghana without any hesitation.
Hon Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa? 11. 40 a. m
Mr Speaker, I am most grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the Motion that this Honourable House approves the Financial Policy of the Government of Ghana for the year ending 31st December, 2017. Mr Speaker, I am glad that the Hon Minister for Finance is here. Just to quickly draw his attention that it would be necessary, moving forward, to improve on the proofreading processes of the Budget Statement. There are many typographical errors in this Budget Statement. I am sure the Hon Majority Leader would not be enthused about how his Ministry has been spelt. If you look at all the appendices of this Budget
On a point of order. Mr Speaker., my Hon Colleague has just told this House that GETFund allocation for 2016 was over GH¢1billion. [Interruptions.] Mr Speaker, I turn to appendix 2 (c), the turnout for GETFund was GH¢762.45 million -- [Interruptions]-- We are looking at out-turn; what you ended up giving out -- [Interruptions.] Mr Speaker, the simple fact I want to put on record is that in 2016, the money we allocated to GETFund was GH¢762.45 million. Nobody should go away with the impression that it was GH¢1billion. I thank you, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, I made reference to the allocation on page 163. This is because what they are also allocating, might not be what they would eventually release. So, we are talking allocation. The allocation was GH¢1.82088.469. That was it, let us be factual. Mr Speaker, while all of these cuts are going on, I am worried, frightened and scared. Indeed, it is so mind-boggling when you come to consider that the people of Ghana are told to make sacrifices, the people at the districts and the people who use the National Health Insurance, are told that because of rigidities, there should be these cuts. Appendix 4(b) reveals that these sacrifices are not happening at the Office of Government Machinery. A whooping allocation of over GHc1.5 billion, the highest ever in the history of this country, has been made to the Office of Government Machinery. I have done some analyses on this -
On a point of order. Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, I think my Hon Colleague on the other side is misleading the House.
Order! Order!! I cannot hear him.
Our Hon Colleague, Hon Okudzeto Ablakwa keeps making reference to cuts. I believe that in the process of budgeting, you look at your actual expenditure in the previous year and that reflects how much you are going to spend in the year going forward. - [Hear! Hear!] There is no way that he used a Budget Statement for the previous year and referred to the current Budget Statement and said that we have cuts. You look at what was actually spent the previous year and you project where your expenditure is going. Thank you very much, Mr Speaker.
Hon Member, continue.
Mr Speaker, my Hon Colleague can appreciate that there can be no actuals for 2017. Mr Speaker, my point is that an unprecedented allocation, an elephantine allocation, and a gigantic allocation in excess of GH¢1.5 billion has been made to the Office of Government Machinery while all these cuts are taking place. Mr Speaker, to put this in perspective, in 2012, the Office of Government Machinery was allocated only GH¢236 million; in 2013, only GH¢312 million, in 2014, only GH¢326 million, and in 2015, only GH¢453 million. If you combine all those years, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015, you would get just about GH¢1.3 billion. it does not come up to the GH¢1.5 billion that has been allocated to the Office of Government Machinery. Mr Speaker, it is unacceptable. This is worrying and this trend --
Hon Member, hold on. Hon Akoto Osei?
On a point of order. Mr Speaker, my good Friend is a former Deputy Minister for Education -- [Interruptions] -- Mr Speaker, I would not mind where he was going but he is telling half truth. He is aware that there are several new Ministries under the Office of Government Machinery. Mr Speaker, that is why what matters most is the outturn. If you are allocated GH¢400 million and you spend GH¢1 billion, that is what is wrong. He should advert his mind to it. He was a former Minister for Education and so he should tell the whole truth.
Mr Speaker, I hope that my time is being considered. I plead with you with all due respect. The point has to be made that never in the history of this country has the Office of Government Machinery spent or been allocated over GH¢1.5 billion. The highest allocation ever made to that sector was GH¢718,854, 913.00 on page 207 of the 2006 Budget Statement. What we have now is more than twice that amount. There have always been Ministers of State at the Office of Government Machinery. What we have now, we were told at the Appointments Committee that those were for Ministers of State and not Ministries. So, this is really worrying and we have to look at it. Especially when you come to consider that there are only three other Ministries that can challenge this; the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health and Ministry of the Interior. All the other 27 Ministries, whose budget this House would approve, would get below the GH¢1.5 billion figure. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Roads, Ministry of Aviation, et cetera -- The allocations to these major Ministries are below this GH¢1.5 billion that is going to the Presidency. This is indeed worrying. Mr Speaker, the next issue I need to raise is the vexed matter of free Senior High School (SHS). Paragraph 575 of this Budget Statement confirms that apparently the round condemnation of the NDC's progressively free SHS programme is exactly what the NPP Government is now implementing. Contrary to what the Minster for Finance said that this was a comprehensive programme, this is just progressively free, just like ours, and we have to accept that. The allocation that has been made is for only one term and not for the entire academic year. This is a betrayal of trust of the people. Ghanaians have been deceived; this is deception and it must not go unnoticed. Mr Speaker, the point must also be made that the GH¢400 million allocation, if you divide that figure by the 467,692 Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) candidates, it means that the provision that has been made in the Budget Statement translates to only GH¢855.00 per student. This is far below the 2016 Ghana Education Service (GES) approved fees. The GES approved fees for last year for first-year boarders was GH¢1,432.00; and for day students, GH¢970.00. These are the approved GES fees for 2016. So, the GH¢400 million even provided for only first timers is woefully inadequate. It works to only GH¢855.00. I am not the only one who has come to this conclusion. Two days ago the Ghana National Education Campaign Coalition held a press conference -- and these are all the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in the education subsector. They came to the conclusion that the budgetary allocation is woefully inadequate. The Daily Graphic captured that press conference on Wednesday, March 8, 2017 at page 49. According to the Coalition, the Ministry of Finance should have allocated at least GH¢542,455,107.00 per term.
Hon Member, you have one minute more.
So, this GH¢400 million is woefully inadequate. Ghanaian parents have to be told the truth that come September 2017, they would be paying some fees because this allocation is not enough. Ghanaian parents who have students in second and third year must also understand that there is no provision at all for them. If you look at the NDC's programme, we targetted the vulnerable and poor across the three cohorts and supported them.
Hon Member, wind up, your time is up.
Mr Speaker, this assumption that continuing students do not need assistance is worrying. There are also some policy contradictions. Parent Teacher Associations (PTA) are being banned in some paragraphs but the Minister for Finance is also talking about introducing an Education Fund. So policy contradictions are in the Budget Statement. Mr Speaker, finally, I am also worried about --
Hon Member, sorry. Your time is up. Hon Alexander Afenyo-Markin?
Hon Minority Chief Whip?
Thank you, Mr Speaker. With the greatest respect, my Hon Colleague is grossly misleading this House. The very paragraph he is reading talks about starting with the 2017/2018 academic year. The same Budget Statement did not even talk about all the students who are in SHS. So, if he stands here and quotes paragraph 575 and says that it is for all students, then he is grossly misleading the House. This is because the Budget Statement acknowledges that it is going to take care of only the first years who would go to SHS in 2017/2018. He should go and look at the appendix where there is the actual amount of money allocated for this. He would realise that, even the first year students, not all that is required for the whole year has been provided. So, the impression that it is free for all students, he is grossly misleading this House. He should advert his mind to the very paragraph that he is making reference to; paragraph 575. It is not for all students but only for first-year students.
There is no room for being rude to anybody in this House.
On a point of order. Mr Speaker, I heard my Hon Colleague on the other side of the aisle make a statement that we promised and we failed. That statement is no justification for appealing for the approval of the Budget Statement. This is because the Hon Colleague has the right to defend the Budget Statement on the floor of this House but to say that we promised and we failed -- when Ghanaians who are watching and listening can see the asphalts on the road, schools in the communities and the infrastructure in their places -- [Hear! Hear!] I believe the Hon Colleague needs to withdraw that statement. [Interruption.]
Hon Members, order! Maybe, I should do what the Hon Second Deputy Speaker did yesterday afternoon when I left. I thought that some of the new Hon Members of Parliament were embarrassed. So, I did not intend to do that. Please, be guided by the rules. If you come in on a point of order, you are suggesting that something an Hon Member on his feet has said is factually incorrect, or he or she has made a statement that is misleading. Do not take advantage to make your alternative point of view.
On a point of order. Mr Speaker, the Hon Member should not make a statement that should go un- responded to. He said that, there was no report to this House on the usage of the Eurobond that was taken in 2013. According to the Hon Member, no report came to inform the House how the money was disbursed or used. Mr Speaker, whenever a loan facility is contracted by Government, it is usually contained in the Budget Statement that the House approves. In the subsequent year, the Budget Statement would tell us how disbursements were made. If the Hon Member is expecting a specific report --
Hon Deputy Minority Leader, the Hon Member's point was that there was no report that any part of the Eurobond had been used on infrastructure. If there is any such report, draw our attention, so that we would proceed.
Mr Speaker, the point I raised was the same point you also raised. There would not be any report that would tell us on the usage of the fund on infrastructure. It would be contained in the Budget Statement.
Hon Deputy Minority Leader, in which Budget Statement is that contained?
Mr Speaker, the 2014 Budget Statement would contain that information.
On infrastructure? We would be guided if you would draw our attention to the particular page. Hon Member, please continue.
Hon Member, you have a minute more.
Hon Member, wind up.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Colleague who just ended his contribution raised an issue that I would like to continue from where he left off. He spoke about fishing, and indicated that the previous NDC Government did nothing to support the fishing industry in our country. Mr Speaker, in 2016, the fishing sub- sector contributed 4.4 per cent to real GDP growth, and today that they are saying that they have given them the assurance and would support farmers, they are rather projecting a decline to 1.6 per cent. so what is the essence of the investment he is talking about? Mr Speaker, going back to my real contribution to the debate, I thank you very much for the opportunity.
Mr Speaker, cashew production is very important in this country. As we speak, the demand for cashew is rising and there are many foreigners in our country today to buy raw cashew nuts. Mr Speaker, we also have about 13 cashew processing plants installed in this country, and we have 12 of them installed in Brong Ahafo region. Indeed, Brong Ahafo is the hub of cashew production in this country. We produce more than 50,000 metric tonnes. According to a report or a study conducted by Mr Edward Agyei Frimpong, which was published on March 4, 2016 — In this report, in 2013, cashew foreign earnings was estimated at US$170 million. Mr Speaker, during the campaign, the then flagbearer of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, visited Sampa, another cashew community and made a promise, that when the NPP is elected into office, it would establish a Cashew Marketing Board —
Hon Eric Opoku, what you hold in your hand is the report you referred to — Is that right?
Mr Speaker, yes.
Kindly give a copy to the Table Office.
Mr Speaker, I would want to do that after my presentation. Mr Speaker, with your indulgence, I would like to quote exactly what Nana Akufo-Addo said when he visited the people of Sampa, as captured —
Is that contained in the report?
Mr Speaker, that is another source.
And so you have finished with the report? Kindly table the report —
Mr Speaker, the Daily Graphic, on 21st March, 2016 stated, and with your permission, I beg to quote: “To this end, Nana Akufo-Addo assured cashew farmers in the country that, the government would establish a Cashew Marketing Board (CMB) akin to the Cocoa Marketing Board, which would guarantee a producer price for farmers as well as provide ready market for their produce.” Mr Speaker, in the 2017 Budget, nothing is said about cashew. They have completely forgotten about cashew farmers. There is another interesting thing on coffee. Under the NDC Government, we embarked upon a four-year programme for coffee development. It was a programme for rehabilitation of coffee farms. An amount of GH¢4.2 million was invested in this programme. Farmers were selected from some parts of Volta, Brong Ahafo, Western, Ashanti and Eastern regions, and 3,260 farmers were selected and supplied with 1,514,470 improved planting materials for coffee production. Mr Speaker, at the end of 2015, the result was that 1,044 hectares of old and abandoned coffee farms have been rehabilitated and 1,112 hectares of new coffee farms were established. The result was that, at the end of 2015, coffee production in this country increased from less than 2,000 metric tonnes to 4,500 metric tonnes —
On a point of order.
Mr Speaker, I believe that the Hon Majority Leader got it all wrong. I was referring to 50,000 metric tonnes from Brong Ahafo, and when we talk about foreign earnings, we talk about total production from Ghana. And that cannot be only 50,000 metric tonnes. And so, why do we use the 50,000 metric tonnes as the base? [Hear! Hear!] Mr Speaker, more importantly, I even quoted from the document I have tabled that the report indicated that in 2013, cashew foreign earnings was estimated at US$175 million. It is in the report.
Please, allow the debate to flow!
Mr Speaker, this indeed is a House of records. This is because he stated emphatically and without any equivocation that the 50,000 metric tonnes earned US$175 million — [Uproar.] Mr Speaker, he may say that perhaps it was a slip. But I will produce to him the Hansard. That is exactly what he said, and that is why I read out the arithmetic to suggest to him that he was misleading this House. This is because, a tonne of cashew does not in any way come near that. Mr Speaker, since he is on tonnage for the production, what was the total production of cashew in the country?
Mr Speaker, more interestingly, in spite of the positive result —
Hon Member, please, hold on. Let me hear from Hon William A. Quaittoo. [Interruption.]
Mr Speaker, the Hon Member quoted a lot of figures on coffee. I exhibited the coffee project that he is talking about. So, all the figures that he is quoting here are not correct. [Uproar.] [Interruption.] I challenge him -- one particular figure that I remember vividly is the tonnage that Ghana is making now or was making last two years at the end of the project and that was almost -- [Interruption.] Several Hon Members — rose --
Hon Members, order! I would want to listen to him, so can you sit down. Kindly make your point, Hon Member.
Mr Speaker, that figure is almost 6,000 metric tonnes of coffee production as of the end of 2015. [Interruption.] Ghana Cocoa Board, Research, Monitoring and Evaluation (RM&E) Department; the figures that he is giving are wrong. He should provide the figures.
Hon Eric Opoku, you were quoting from a particular document; are you not?
Yes, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker --
Hon Member, let me advise that I have added 3 minutes to your time. [Uproar.]
Mr Speaker, I provided some figures on coffee and the Hon Member got up to challenge. All the figures I have been mentioning here are in the 2016 Budget Statement -- page 84. Mr Speaker, the Hon Colleague who challenged the figures said that he even Mr Speaker, paragraph 405 of the 2016 Budget is the same as paragraph 373 in the same Budget. [Laughter.] Paragraph 406 in the 2017 Budget Statement is the same as paragraph 374 of the 2017 Budget Statement; paragraph 407 of the 2016 Budget Statement is the same as paragraph 375 of the 2017 Budget Statement. [Laughter.]
Mr Speaker, in paragraph 365 of the 2017 Budget, the NPP Government is saying that the Hi-Tech fertiliser application programme which was introduced by the President Mahama's Administration is going to be reviewed and replaced and the new programme that is going to be introduced would be at a subsidised price to cocoa farmers -- this cannot be done in 2017. Mr Speaker, the target was that Ghana wanted to buy 2.2 million of fertiliser which would fertilise 293,333 hectares of cocoa farms. Government wanted to buy additional 1.6 million liquid fertiliser and the money was set aside before the determination of a producer price. Mr Speaker, in this country, cocoa farmers are paid in cash and in kind.
Bonsu — rose
Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, as I said of the contribution of the Hon Colleague on the floor; he has elected to be spewing untruth in this House [Uproar.] Mr Speaker, he said to us that the paragraph that he quoted in the 2016 Budget -- paragraph 405 of the 2016 Budget Statement is the same as 373 of the 2017 Budget Statement -- that is an untruth. Mr Speaker, paragraph 405 provides -- [Interruption.] -- would those who have ears listen. Paragraph 405 provides: “In the 2015/16 cropping season, COCOBOD has made a budgetary allocation of GH¢2.0 million to support activities in the coffee sector including raising of two million (2,000,000) improved coffee planting materials for free distribution to farmers and this number will be substantially increased in subsequent years”. So, the amount he mentioned is GH¢2.0 million for 2 million improved planting materials. Now, paragraph 373 provides: “In the 2016/17 cropping season, COCOBOD has made a budgetary allocation of GH¢2.04 million to support activities in the coffee sector including raising of five million (5,000,000) improved coffee planting materials for free distribution to farmers and this number will be substantially increased in subsequent years”. So, it is not the same; it is an untruth which is becoming a trait of his. Mr Speaker, he goes on to support activities in the coffee sector including raising 5 million and not 2 million. So, the Hon Member has elected to tread the path of untruth -- [Interruption.]-- and he should withdraw. It is so unparliamentary and so offensive -- he is an honourable man. So, he exposes himself as a person preaching untruth in this House. I would insist that he is made to withdraw.
Hon Eric Opoku, I would want to hear your response to the comparison.
Mr Speaker, thank you very much for asking me to respond to what my Hon Senior Colleague and respected Majority Leader has said. Mr Speaker, I would want to read the two so that, Mr Speaker can get it very well. In paragraph 407 of the 2016 Budget --
But he mentioned that one -- [Interruption.]
Wait! Wait! [Interruption.]
Hon Members, order.
Hon Member, kindly resume your seat. [Interruption.] Are the figures the same? [Uproar.]
Let him read! Let him read!
Mr Speaker, paragraph 470 --
Hon Member, please, are the figures the same? [Uproar]
Hon Minority Chief Whip, kindly resume your seat. I would want him to answer the question before -- Hon Member, are the figures he gave the same?
Mr Speaker, I would want to read the two for you to hear.
I heard him read. Are the figures the same?
Mr Speaker, everything I am going to read is the same.
Does it include the figures?
They are the same.
I would want to hear you.
Now, Mr Speaker, paragraph 407 of the 2016 Budget Statement and Economic Policy reads, and with your permission, I quote: “To ensure the long-term sustenance of coffee production, reforms in the marketing of coffee will be introduced to assure farmers of ready market at remunerative prices for the coffee produced.” Mr Speaker, paragraph 375 of the 2017 Budget Statement and Economic Policy states and I beg to quote: “To ensure the long-term sustainability of coffee production --”
Hon Member, which paragraph are you reading?
Mr Speaker, paragraph 375 -- [Interruption.] -- I will read all the three. I quoted three. Mr Speaker, I will read all the three -- [Uproar] -- The Hon Majority Leader has seen them. I will read all the three. There even, are more in this Budget Statement and Economic Policy. [Laughter.] Mr Speaker, I am moving on. “…reforms in the marketing of coffee will be introduced to assure farmers of ready market at remunerative prices for the coffee produced.” Mr Speaker, the second one -- [Interruption] -- I would want to read all. [Uproar]
Hon Members, there is too much noise. I cannot even follow the argument to make a ruling. [Interruption.] Please, hold on. Am I required to make a ruling? If I am, I must listen. Let me follow the arguments. There is too much noise. I would want to understand which paragraphs are being compared to which paragraphs, so that I can make a decision. So, I would want to be guided. On the 2016 Budget Statement and Economic Policy, which paragraphs were you referring to?
Mr Speaker, paragraph 407.
Paragraph 407 of the 2016 Budget Statement?
And then paragraph 406.
Mr Speaker, paragraphs 407, 406 and 405.
All in the 2016 Budget Statement?
Mr Speaker, all in the 2016 Budget Statement.
Hon Member, address the Chair, please. Which paragraphs in the 2017 Budget Statement and Economic Policy are you referring to?
Mr Speaker, paragraphs 375, 374 and 373. What the Hon Majority Leader is saying is that when we look at one of the paragraphs, they changed the figures. [Laughter.] Mr Speaker, that is even serious and amounts to plagiarism.
Hon Majority Leader, I would want to hear you again on the objection.
Mr Speaker, I believe my Hon Colleague is either engaged in selectivity or indeed, he might be afflicted with optical illusion. [Uproar.]
Mr Speaker, I do not need those words to make a point except to say that --
Mr Speaker, is he coming on a point of order? [Interruption.] Mr Speaker, the Hon Member compared paragraphs 375 and 405 in the 2016 Budget Statement --
Hon Members, you complained but you make so much noise, I do not even hear what you are complaining about. At the same time -- [Interruption.] Hon Suhuyini, I hear yours from here but that is not supposed to be so. If you have not been given the chance, I should not hear you. So, if you would keep quiet and let me listen, then I would have the basis for ruling on the things you say are unparliamentary. Otherwise, I cannot make a ruling.
Now, the paragraphs 373 and 405 that he is comparing which I read earlier, one relates to 2015/2016 cropping season, the other is in the 2016/2017 cropping season. So it is not the same year. There was something. I do not want to say corruption. [Uproar.] That is the first one.
Hon Members, can I have some order? I would want to listen to him.
Now, the second one that related to paragraph 375 as against 405, even in the English language construction, they are not the same. [Interruption.] Mr Speaker, one says, “To ensure the long-term sustenance…” and the other talks about “sustainability”. [Laughter.] The two are not the same. That is why I said to him that he is suffering from optical illusion and my Hon Colleague jumped in to say that it is offensive. Now, Mr Speaker, let us look at the third one. Paragraph 374 as against 406. So, Mr Speaker, he is in a different world of his own. He is comparing apples with oranges. That is his problem.
Hon Members, these are -- [Interruption.] The Hon Minority Chief Whip had some objections. I would want to hear him.
Hon Majority Leader, did you use the words ‘optical illusion'?
Mr Speaker, I did. I do not see anything offensive about it. [Uproar.] Mr Speaker, what does he understand by “optical illusion”? Let him tell me what is offensive about it. If indeed it is, I would withdraw. Let the Hon Majority Chief Whip explain to me what his own understanding of “optical illusion” is and if it is offensive, I would withdraw. Mr Speaker, it has nothing derogatory about it at all. The Hon Eric Opoku who is my good Friend knows that I cannot insult him. Let him tell me his understanding of it. If it is offensive, I would withdraw.
Hon Majority Leader, your Hon Colleague is offended. Just so that we do not descend into subjective interpretations, kindly withdraw so that we would proceed.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minority Chief Whip is behaving like a sympathiser who wants to weep more than the bereaved. The Hon Eric Opoku is here and if he complains that he finds it offensive, I would -- but let him tell me what his own understanding of “optical illusion” is. If his understanding -- [Interruption.] [Laughter.]
Hon Majority Leader, kindly withdraw so that we would proceed.
Mr Speaker, if I say of the argument of an Hon Colleague that he is leading us on some funny path, it is scary in this House. Is it offensive? [Uproar.] Mr Speaker, the Hon Minority Chief Whip is now subdued. Let him explain to us. [Interruption.] This indeed is funny.
Hon Minority Chief Whip, please resume your seat. Hon Majority Leader, I am not going to review my ruling. Kindly withdraw so we proceed.
Mr Speaker, in due deference to the Chair and of course to you, in that regard, it should be considered withdrawn. [Laughter.]
Hon Eric Opoku, I am allowing you two more minutes to conclude.
Mr Speaker, I was about concluding on the cocoa issue when the Hon Majority Leader interjected. Now, I would move on to the programme of “Planting for Food and Jobs” Mr Speaker, in the State of the Nation Address, the President said on page 7, and with your indulgence, I would like to quote: “Mr Speaker, for too long our farmers have been left to cope by themselves without the necessary support from Government…”
Hon Member, wind up.
Mr Speaker, in concluding, I would like to state with emphasis that the people of Wenchi, Nkoranza, Sampa - Dormaa and --
Hon Member, your time is up.
Mr Speaker, the people in Dormaa and all the other areas of the Brong Ahafo Region where cashew production is their business, are highly disappointed in this Budget. [Hear! Hear!]
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to contribute to the Budget Estimates and the Government Economic Policy for the year 2017. Mr Speaker, permit me to start by thanking the President, the Hon Minister for Energy and their team for the sterling job that they put up to prevent the country slipping back into the dumsor era. Mr Speaker, the ice kenkey and ice water sellers, and the small cold store operators, industries all over the country breathed a sigh of relief after listening to the maiden Budget Statement of His Excellency, President Akufo-Addo, and I am sure some Hon Members on the other Side also breathed a sigh of relief. This is because for the first time in several years, Ghanaians began to see a light at the end of the tunnel as far as the energy sector is concerned. Mr Speaker, by all indications, the President has made it abundantly clear that he intends to permanently solve this energy sector challenge that has bedevilled this country for the past several years. Mr Speaker, permit me to enumerate some of the measures taken so far by the President to cut down the problems in the energy sector. The first one is that, in his State of the Nation Address to this House, the President alluded to the fact that he was going to renegotiate some of the Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) that were entered into under the last Government, and the rationale behind that is to try and reduce the tariff rate that Ghanaians are struggling to pay due to the inefficiency and negotiation of these PPAs. Mr Speaker, on page 85, paragraph 458 of the Budget Statement, the President proposes to add an additional installed capacity of 1,200 megawatts. Admittedly, some of them were already in progress before we came into power. Mr Speaker, again, paragraphs 464 and 468 propose scaling up of the renewable energy to remote facilities and communities which are without grid electricity. This would, hopefully, lead to the enhancement of the quality of lives of Ghanaians who live in such communities. Mr Speaker, page 86, paragraph 470 proposes a visionary view of the President -- we have the TEN Gas, Jubilee and hopefully, soon, we would get Sankofa. The Government is proposing to come up with a Gas Policy and Gas Bill to guide the implementation of the Gas Master Plan. Mr Speaker, paragraph 474 of the President's Budget Statement -- also another visionary move, talks about a proposal to meet with the Jubilee Partners to discuss in detail the shortfall in the production of crude oil and gas from the various fields in order to enhance the production, and this shortfall resulted from the 2016 damage on the turret bearing on the Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) Kwame Nkrumah and adopt a convention to a permanently spread mode. Mr Speaker, moving on to paragraph 476 of the President's Budget Statement, it proposes enhancing the capacity of the institutions in the petroleum sector under the Accelerated Oil Capacity Development Programme to invest in education and skills to enhance Ghanaians to take advantage of the fast developing oil industry. These are all proposals that are in the Budget Statement with the intention of increasing or sorting out some of the problems in the energy sector. Mr Speaker, perhaps the most exciting and potentially game-changer in this whole business or the problems that we have in the energy sector is this proposition to bring --
On a point of Order. Mr Speaker, I rise on Standing Order 89 which says that: “A Member shall not read his speech, but may read extracts from written or printed documents in support of his argument and may refresh his memory by reference to notes.” Mr Speaker, the Hon Colleague has conspicuously been reading and I would urge that if it is an extract, he should submit it to the Table so that we could all quote from it. Mr Speaker, but he is reading and I think that he is quoting himself and if he is doing that, then I would plead that he presents it to the Table. Mr Speaker, thank you.
Hon Deputy Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I would urge the Hon Member to read Standing Order 89 in totality and to also give it that purposive interpretation that it ought to portray. Mr Speaker, I beg to read: “A Member shall not read his speech, but …” With emphasis. “… may read extracts …” Mr Speaker, the Hon Member is reading extracts from it and that is allowed under our rules. He may read extracts from a written or printed document in support of his argument and that is exactly what he is doing. So, the Hon Member should take his time, read, comprehend and learn as the days go by. The Hon Member has not violated any of the rules of this House; he is allowed to read from his extracts and that is exactly what he is doing. Mr Speaker, I thank you.
Hon Owuraku Aidoo, are you reading a speech?
Mr Speaker, I just refer to my notes as and when I need it.
What are you doing? Referring to your notes?
Mr Speaker, absolutely.
Mr Speaker, I am most grateful. Mr Speaker, I was saying that perhaps the most exciting and potentially game- changer in the energy sector is the brilliant idea of the President bringing together all the hydro generation under Volta River Authority (VRA) and handing over the thermals to a new entity that would be partnered by the private sector. Potentially, this has two glorious effects. The first one is that it would free VRA from having to procure crude -- a perennial problem that has bedevilled VRA and has led to some 2.4 billion debt overhang on the energy sector. Again, the new envisaged thermal utility that would take over the thermals with private sector participation would, hopefully, become very efficient thereby reducing the tariff rates which would eventually inure to the benefit of Ghanaians. Mr Speaker, I would like to conclude by commending the President on his bold decision to take this long awaited Integrated Aluminium Industry back to the fore. It has been the wish over the last 60 years of various governments to bring this Integrated Aluminium Industry to fruition. President Akufo-Addo in his maiden Budget Statement has bitten the bullet and decided to introduce a Bill to that effect this year and that is a very laudable initiative. This aluminium industry, potentially, has the capacity to employ in the region of 500,000 people from upstream down to the basic aluminium industries and has the potential over the entire period of generating a sum in the region of US$1 trillion to the Ghanaian economy. Mr Speaker, this is something that the President has to be commended for. Since the time of Dr Kwame Nkrumah, all governments had wanted to do it. It has taken Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo- Addo, the President, in his first Budget, to bite the bullet and to put it into fruition.
Hon Member, your time is up; wind up.
Mr Speaker, all the aforesaid go to conclude that, indeed, the President is serious about solving this problem in the energy sector and creating jobs for the people of this country. With these, I would urge Hon Members on both sides of the House to support the President's Budget and Economic Policy for 2107.
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to contribute to the debate on the floor regarding the 2017 Financial Year. Mr Speaker, I would like to limit my contribution to debt issues. I intend to structure it like this: The nature and character of our debts, debt sustainability analyses and debt management. Mr Speaker, our debts total US$229,227.15, which translates to GH¢122,263,000.00. Various percentages have been given: 74 per cent by the President, 72.5 per cent in a document from the Ministry of Finance, 65 per cent and even in the Bank of Ghana, we have 71.9 per cent. There are so many computations of our debts. But what is important, Mr Speaker, is what we do with these debts that the nation has incured. Mr Speaker, first of all, yesterday, one of our Hon Members in the House cried; he wept. [Interruption.] Hon Fuseini Issah, the Hon Member for Okaikoi North wept because if a child is born today, by the time he cries “nngee, nngee, nngee”, he already has GH¢4,500.00 debt.
Hon Member, please hold on. Do not “nngee, nngee” us here. [Laughter.] Yes, Hon Francis Ato Cudjoe?
Mr Speaker, we were in this House yesterday, we did not see Hon Issah cry. [Laughter.] So that is someting I would like the Hon Member to retract; he has to withdraw. [Interruption.] This is because, his constituents are listening.
Unfortunately, at the time the Hon Fuseini Issah was on his feet, I had withdrawn.
Mr Speaker, my exact words were that, when a baby is born in this country -- Some Hon Members: [Did you cry?] -- [Laughter.] -- Mr Speaker, I did not cry.
Hon Member, your Hon Friend did not cry.
But he said, “nngee, nngee”.
Mr Speaker, my Hon Colleague should admit that he cried on behalf of a baby. [Laughter.]
Hon Member, please hold on. Yes, Hon Afenyo-Markin?
Hon Afenyo-Markin, under which Standing Order are you coming?
No, I would want to get the basis of your objection and move on.
Hon Member, that is not misleading. Please resume your seat. Hon Kpodo, continue.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. I hope you are taking note of the interventions. Mr Speaker, the nature of some of our debts are long-term. I can give you one example: Anyinam-Kumasi Road construction. We took a loan in 1985 and the balance outstanding is GH¢1.32 million and it is due in 2035, not tomorrow. I can give you one more example. We took a loan of GH¢139 million to develop skills for industry projects in 2012. Mr Speaker, this debt is due in 2062, not today and not tomorrow. So, we need to look at our debt, the portfolio and the structure before we go out to present the country in a very negative light. Mr Speaker, apart from stating that, some of the loans we took have resulted in the construction of University of Ghana Teaching Hospital and the Atuabo Gas Plant. Some of the loans we took was for Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GHAPOHA) to expand the Port facilities at Takoradi and Tema. Mr Speaker, they are so many. We even constructed this Chamber with a loan. The Tower Block (Job 600) is the same, and it would not be due soon. So, in analysing our debt, we would not even think of what is current and what is long-term as against our present Gross Domestic Product (GDP), so that we stop frightening people about what the debt position is in the country. Mr Speaker, I would want to talk about debt sustainability. When we analyse our debt, we have to use tools that would enable us to --
Hon Member, your time ended, but I allowed you two more minutes in respect of the interventions. So, you are in your last two minutes space.
Mr Speaker, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank said that: “External Debt Sustainability can be obtained by a country ‘by bringing the NPV of external public debts down to about 150 per cent of a country's export or 250 per cent of a country's revenues…” Mr Speaker, if you want reference, I could give you. “…Without discounting our debt to the Net Present Value, we could compute the following analysed results: a. External Debts to Exports GH¢16,460.99/11,060.7=1.488" It is less than 150 per cent. Then our external debt to revenue is GH¢68,859.62/44,9000=1.536 per cent. That is also 150 per cent, which is less than 250 per cent. So, in actual fact, when we analyse our debts, they are highly sustainable. [Hear! Hear!] We are not out of bounds; we are within bounds. Finally, Mr Speaker, I would want us to -- [Interruption.] We have the debt management policy.
Hon Member, wind up.
Yes, Mr Speaker, I am winding-up. We have the debt management policy, which we would find on page 181 of the 2016 Budget Statement, and a similar thing has been repeated in the 2017 Budget Statement on page 147. I would want us to ensure that this is implemented. It includes lengthening of the maturity profile of our debt. The previous Government did it. It includes on-lending of loans to State Owned Enterprise (SOEs).
Hon Member, your time is up. Conclude in your last sentence.
Mr Speaker, US$2.345 billion has been on-lent to State Owned Enterprises (SOEs). What we should do is to insist that, the SOEs comply and pay up their portion of the debt. [Hear! Hear!] That could bring down the debt to GDP ratio, and we would be very comfortable when we go out to borrow.
Hon Member, you time is up.
Mr Speaker, let us encourage the Hon Minister to implement and enforce the policies, which were already made by the previous Government, which they have adopted. [Hear! Hear!] I thank you for the opportunity.
Hon Kwasi Adjei Boateng?
Mr Speaker, I step in for -- [Interruptions.]
Hon Kennedy Nyarko Osei, you are numbered 6 on the list, and do you want to swap for number 4?
Yes, Mr Speaker.
Very well. Hon Kennedy Nyarko Osei, Akim Swedru?
Mr Speaker, I thank you very much for the opportunity to contribute to the Motion on the floor. Mr Speaker, in doing so, I would dwell my presentation on page 62, paragraph 4, of the Government's Financial Policy Statement which talks about the review of the Local Governance Act to make the positions of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) elected. Mr Speaker, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Government, the Government led by H. E. Nana Addo Dankwa AkufoAddo -- [Interruption] -- has made a commitment to the people of Ghana that, when elected, he would ensure that MMDCEs are elected, but are not appointed. Mr Speaker, paragraph 4 on page 64 of this Budget Statement made it clear that, government intends to begin the processes of reviewing the relevant portions of the Local Governance Act to ensure that, MMDCEs are elected in the near future. It may interest you to know the numerous benefits that come with the election of these key positions. Many a time, because MMDCEs in the past were appointed, some of them tend not to be more accountable to the people at the local level. In doing so, if the position of MMDCEs are assumed through election, they would become more accountable to the local people, encourage citizen participation at the local level, and bring more transparency at the local level. Mr Speaker, it is very clear that, if we make this an elected position, somebody sitting somewhere in Accra would not have the direct influence to manipulate the person at the local level. The MMDCEs would then become more accountable to the people because, they know they are the people who elected them and they would go back to them for re-election. So, they would make sure the resources allocated to them at the district level are judiciously used. Mr Speaker, this is a laudable idea. Past Governments have tried, and I would refer that, the NDC Government tried it and made a lot of promises on campaign platforms to make sure that, when they were elected, the positions of MMDCEs would be --
Hon Deputy Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, in my view, the Hon Member is veering off the main topic; the issue of relevance. He also made a statement that, past Governments have tried. I do not know which Government tried. No Government tried. If he says “tried”, what does he mean by “tried”? He should remove that portion of the contribution, so that it could be taken off the record. This is because no Government has ever tried to implement election of District Chief Executives and has not succeeded.
Hon Nyarko Osei, which government tried?
Mr Speaker, I replace “tried” with “promised”. The NDC Government promised Ghanaians that if they were elected into Government, they would make sure that the positions of MMDCEs would go through an election, but because of political expediency, this noble idea was abandoned. However, thanks to H. E. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, he is committed to ensuring that, during his tenure of office, MMDCEs are elected. Mr Speaker, I know that my Hon Colleagues from the other side of the House, when this time comes, they are the people who would benefit more. This is because, then, they would have a say in what would be done at the district level.
On a point of order. Mr Speaker, my Hon Colleague on the other side of the House stated clearly that, His Excellency, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo is committed to ensuring election of the District Chief Executives. However, there is no provision in the Budget Statement under reference for election of the District Chief Executive.
Hon K. N. Osei, can you concentrate on the Budget provisions that would ensure that, election of DCEs come into place? Advert your mind to that in your contribution. You have five minutes more.
Mr Speaker, it is clear in the Budget Statement that this year, the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development would review the relevant portions of Act 936 to pave way to ensure that --[Interruptions] -- That is the first step. If we do not do the relevant review of the Act, it would be very difficult for the election of the MMDCEs to be made. So, Mr Speaker, in conclusion, I would thank His Excellency the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, for finally committing himself to make sure that, DCEs are elected. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, because of time, I would not spend time to go into the peripherals, but go straight into the subject matter. I would take a bit of the economy and also a bit of energy. The economy grew by 3.6 per cent, but the most important
thing which all of us tried to concentrate on, is the non-real GDP growth. This was because of the Dutch disease. When we box all the growth rates together, but do not separate the non-GDP growth, we might be misled to believe that, the economy is actually doing well, but the Dutch disease may eventually catch up with us. Mr Speaker, we do not also operate in isolation. We operate within a sub-region and a global world. So, whatever happens in the global world has a consequential effect on our economy. Mr Speaker, in 2016, the Sub-Saharan African economy weakened. Growth in the region is estimated at 1.6 per cent, compared to 2.4 per cent. In West Africa, the economy even contracted by 0.2 per cent. Mr Speaker, so what happens in West Africa would certainly have an effect on Ghana; but more importantly, we deal with the issues that happened here in Ghana. If we take the petroleum sector, the January, 2017 estimate from the World Bank indicated that crude oil price averaged at about US$43 per barrel, but we had projected US$45. So, it means that, in terms of actual revenues from the sale of crude, we had limited inflows. In addition to that, production itself went down quite considerably because of the turret bearing. The underperformance of petroleum revenue was largely due to the downturn arising from the damage to the turret bearing as well as the price. Mr Speaker, the receipts in 2016 were 37 per cent lower than 2015, and so revenues alone went down by as much as 40 per cent from petroleum receipts. Despite all these challenges, the non-oil GDP grew at 4.6 per cent. Mr Speaker, now fast forward to 2017. From the Budget Statement, paragraph 31, the Hon Finance Minister said that, the global economy is expected to witness improvements in 2017. Sub-Saharan African economy is expected to grow by 2.8 per cent in 2017. Mr Speaker, commodity prices; paragraph 36 of the Budget Statement states that, crude oil prices are expected to average at US$56 per barrel. So from US$43, crude oil is expected to hover around US$56, but more importantly, production would take us to 123,416 barrels per day, up from 88,000 barrels. So, production is expected to grow from 88,000 barrels to 123,416 barrels. Price is expected to increase from US$43 to US$56. Mr Speaker, it means that, we have a double injection in terms of the positives. The industry sector is also expected to recover. Total receipts from petroleum are estimated at 1.2 per cent of GDP; an amount of GH¢235 million. Mr Speaker, the electricity sub-sector in 2016 grew as much as 8.8 per cent compared to a contraction of 12 per cent in 2015. All these positives and inflows, the growth or Asempa Budget Statement -- the Hon Minister for Finance tells us that, the non-oil GDP growth rate is expected at 4.6 per cent. This is the same as ours, despite all the challenges we had. Despite the downturn, the crude oil reduction and all that, we grew the non-oil GDP at 4.6 per cent. Mr Speaker, with all these positives and all those so-called capital injections -- One District, One Factory and One Village, One Dam. When we add all of that, the economy is expected to grow by only 4.6 per cent. So effectively, the economy could be said to stay stagnant. Mr Speaker, let me now go to energy. A total of 880 megawatts of power capacity was added to the country's installed capacity. This is in paragraph 458; this is what the Hon Minister told us. I am not saying it, Mr Speaker, that under President John Dramani Mahama, we added --
Hon Member, hold on.
On a point of order. Mr Speaker, what my Hon Colleague tried to mislead this House to believe -- he talked about 4.6 per cent growth target with all walks. When we have debts to service, we are using close to 48 per cent of our revenues to do debts, and we have inherited an economy that is -- I would quote Hon Fiifi Kwetey's words eight years ago -- in critical intensive care, where do we expect the growth to go?
Hon Minister, you have expressed an alternative opinion. You have not raised a point of order. Hon Jinapor, please, continue.
Mr Speaker, it is obvious that, despite all these challenges, inflation ended at 15.4 per cent which is better than we inherited --
Hon Member, please, wind-up. 1. 30 p. m.
Mr Speaker, I have done five minutes.
Sorry, your time is 13:21 to 13:31.
Long live your reign, Mr Speaker -- [Laughter.] Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister tells us that, last year, we added 880 megawatts of thermal complementation to the stock, and that brings our thermal complementation from the Hon Minister's own words to 4,132 megawatts. This is from the Hon Minister for Finance, not from me. Our peak demand today is just about 2,000 megawatts, so we have more than double what we really require in terms of capacity. Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister said in paragraph 463, under Rural Electrification, that we electrified 1,212 communities. This has taken our coverage, and this is from the Hon Minister from 54 per cent to 83.24 per cent, second only to South Africa in the whole of Sub-Saharan Africa. [Interruption.] This is on paragraph 463, of the Government's Financial Policy Statement and the source is the Hon Minister's own Budget. If we refer, we would see it. Mr Speaker, more importantly, we took a painful decision to introduce the Energy Sector Levy, and the Hon Minister states it clearly that, a total amount of US$3,256 million was programmed to be collected as total Energy Sector Levy for the year. Actual collections at the end of the year
was US$3298 exceeding the programme's target. Mr Speaker, this was a difficult decision. I do recall that right before your Committee, His Excellency the former President Mahama, was castigated and was lambasted just because of the Energy Sector Levy. Today, what do we see? The Hon Minister tells us that he would “streamline”. So, the word: scrapping of the Energy Sector Levies, has been substituted with the word, “streamline”.
“President Mahama, wo buo nie!” President Mahama was not incompetent after all, but he took a good decision and made a very positive dent to deal with that.
“President Mahama, come for your stone”. [Interruptions.] Mr Speaker, this is President Mahama's stone [Interruptions] [Laughter]
Hon Jinapor, do you know that it is not allowed? [Interruptions.] Hon Members, Order! Could the Marshal take hold of that stone? It could be an offensive weapon. [Laughter] --
Mr Speaker, I am guided by your advice.
Hon Member for Bantama, you have been up for quite a while. Could we hear you?
Mr Speaker, I believe that the Hon Member misled the House, when he said that, rural electrification increased to 83.24 per cent. From what figure? It was from 80.5 per cent. Mr Speaker, if he just says that without a quote of the base, then he has misled the whole country. So, I believe it is proper that, he reference the point from where they started, and that would make it very easy for people to understand. Mr Speaker, to add three or so does not mean that they have taken it to 83 per cent, without a base. What is the base? It is from 80.5 per cent at the time his Government took over. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, with your permission, let me take two seconds to educate my Hon Colleague. [Interruptions.] Mr Speaker, I withdraw the use of that phrase, but instead, I would want to “inform him”. Mr Speaker, on this occasion, I withdraw to say that I would like to provide him with information. The Budget Statement says that, access rate rose from 80.5 per cent. The 80.5 per cent refers to US$2,015. When we took over --
Hon Member, you have one more minute.
Mr Speaker, when we took over in 2008, the access rate was 54 per cent. We took it from 54 per cent to 83.2 per cent. Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister also said that, they intend to increase capacity by 1,200 megawatts. All the projects that constitute the 1,200 megawatts were conceptualised, initiated, implemented, and at various stages of completion by President Mahama. All of them Mr Speaker, with your permission, let me deal quickly with the so called --
Hon Member, you do not have that luxury of time. Your time is already up, but I allowed you one minute; so, wind-up.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister said that, he would reduce levies and taxes on the Energy Sector. He specifically mentioned the Public Lightening Levy and the Special Petroleum Rate from 17.5 per cent to 15 per cent. Mr Speaker, this is a Trojan House. When we do the calculation right from when the New Patriotic Party (NPP) took over, and we net it off with the 2 per cent, the people of Ghana pay more for fuel than it used to be under President Mahama. So, if Ghanaians expect that, they would have a relief, that their fuel prices would go down, and electricity prices would also go down, then I would want to state on authority that, their fuel prices and electricity bills would not go down. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Hon O. B. Amoah?
Thank you Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to contribute to the Motion on the floor, that this House approves the Financial Policy of the Government of Ghana for the year ending, 31st December, 2017. Mr Speaker, I begin by saying that, if we look at the legacy of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), then, indeed, this Budget Statement would sow the seeds for growth and jobs. Mr Speaker, I would want to restrict myself to the local governance sector, and to say that, the NDC legacy under local governance is abysmal, to say the least. The NDC bequeathed us with a weak decentralisation, poor waste management services, congested and dirty urban centres, flood prone communities, poorly managed Assemblies, poverty and its associated debts. Indeed it is only under the NDC that they promised to solve our flood situation, and said that, they had gone for US$633million, which took the then President to the site to cut the sod. Mr Speaker, as we speak now, not a cent has come to this country. For five good years moving on, what is the kind of legacy the NDC has left us under Local Governance? Mr Speaker, my Hon Colleague, Hon Collins Dauda, is here. He handled the last leg, and he came to this House and promised that, he would bring US$633 million to solve problems of flooding, which never happened under the NDC for all the years they were in power. Mr Speaker, the NPP would reverse all these --
Hon Collins Dauda?
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, my Hon Colleague, Hon O. B. Amoah has referred to me as having come to this House to promise to bring in US$633 million for drainage. Mr Speaker, I have never, as the Hon Minister for Local Government and Rural Development, promised this House that I would bring in any facility that he referred to, and I wish that he withdraws very honourably. Thank you very much. 1. 40 a. m
Thank you Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, if the Hon Member listened to me very well, I said that he was the last Hon Minister who completed the process. Indeed, we asked a Question in this House, and he came to say that they were at the final stages of securing the US$633 million for flood prone areas. Mr Speaker, the Hansard is here. This is the 2016 Hansard, and I could read it for him. Some Hon Members -- Read! Read!
Mr Speaker --
Hon O. B. Amoah, you may continue. If you read, it would steal part of your time.
Mr Speaker, I agree with you perfectly. Mr Speaker, I would just say that we could make reference to the Hansard of Monday, 7th December 2015, column 1381. Mr Speaker, the NPP Government, under President Akufo-Addo, in this Budget Statement proposes and has provided enough grounds to show that, when it comes to local governance, the NPP would achieve far better than the NDC. The NPP Government, we promised that there should be National Urban Policy. With the geographic information system, we are going to develop a better addressing system. More importantly, Mr Speaker, we promised fiscal discipline, fiscal transparency and fiscal clarity at the local level. All these things were missing in the eight years of the NDC Administration. Mr Speaker, it is instructive to note that, if we come to the Budget Statement, specifically paragraphs 816 to 818, the NPP proposes a National Industrial Revitalisation Programme.
Hon Yieleh Chireh?
Mr Speaker, my Hon Friend has misled the House. If the NPP wants to review the National Urban Policy, he should say so. There is one in place. Facts are facts, so he should state that, they would review it and stop the promises he is still making. They are now in Government.
Mr Speaker, under paragraph 307, there is a National Urban Policy that we propose. That is all I would say to that. As I said, Mr Speaker, under paragraphs 816 to 818, of the Government Financial policy, the NPP is embarking on a major programme, which would create jobs in rural areas. This is under the National Industrial Revitalisation Programme. It is designed as a comprehensive programme for rural industrialisation driven by the private sector, and involves the setting up of at least one medium to large scale factory in each of the administrative districts in Ghana. Mr Speaker, this is unprecedented, and this is what we propose under the Budget Statement and I know that, under President Akufo-Addo, we would achieve it. Mr Speaker, this would create 350,000 jobs under this single programme, which is far better than the programmes that the NDC proposed and took so much money to pursue, like the Local Enterprise Skills Development Programme (LESDEP) where in a year, the NDC provided GH¢84 million for which at the end of the year nothing had been shown for it in this country under the NDC. Mr Speaker, we go on further to say that, under the Infrastructure for Poverty Eradication Programme (IPEP) captured under paragraphs 854 to 855, the NPP proposed and has provided the grounds for this programme to succeed. We said that, under this programme -- Paragraph 854 reads: “Mr Speaker, Government intends to pursue an inclusive development strategy aimed at radically improving the state of basic infrastructure at the constituency level, especially in rural and deprived communities. The Infrastructure for Poverty Eradication Programme (IPEP) will be our main vehicle for tackling these challenges. . .” Mr Speaker, under IPEP, that is where we have the One District, One Factory; One Village, One Dam; small business development; agricultural inputs, including equipment; “Water for All” projects and sanitation projects. Indeed, Mr Speaker, if we go through the whole Budget Statement, it would definitely tell us that if we compare what the NDC did in eight years, it is obvious that, a lot of money went in. We were in this country when a Waste Management Fund was created by this Parliament, and under the NDC, they committed for two years to spend US$74 million on waste management and sanitation. As to whether this is a prudent way to solve our sanitation problems, we are yet to see. In this country where we believe that we can spend US$74 million on one million dustbins -- That is the picture we have. As to whether this is the most prudent thing to do, we are yet to see. We were in this country when every first Saturday of the month, we were told that, we were doing the National Sanitation Programme. A lot had been sunk into it but, Mr Speaker, Ghana, at a certain point last year was rated as the second dirtiest in Africa and seventh dirtiest in the world, after all this money on sanitation and waste in this country. This is what we seek to reverse under the NPP. Mr Speaker, this is a budget of hope; this is a Budget Statement for jobs; and one that everybody should support for the NPP Government to develop this country very well.
Mr Speaker, it is just for accuracy of our records. Ghana has never been ranked as the second dirtiest country in Africa. Mr Speaker, but there is a reason. If we say it is the dirtiest, we do not say the same as I present it. Mr Speaker, there is a reason why in Ghana, access to household toilet is not as much as in other countries. It is because in Ghana, we go to some places and public toilets are --
Hon Member, you have raised a point. You have said that the Report talked about access to household toilets and not --
And not “dirtiest” as he portrayed.
The point is well made.
In fact, Mr Speaker, it is not only access to household toilets; it is about sanitation in general. It was captured in International Reports that, Ghana was the second dirtiest. Under their watch, Ghana attained the unenviable record of being the second dirtiest in Africa and seventh in the world. [Hear! Hear!]
Hon O. B. Amoah, your time is up. Wind up.
Mr Speaker, in winding up, I would want to refer to paragraph 893 of the Budget Statement. [Interruption.] Under their watch -- [Laughter.]
Hon O. B. Amoah, you have 30 seconds to wind up.
Yes, I am winding- up. Mr Speaker, indeed, I urge the whole House to support the Motion on this wonderful Budget Statement. I conclude that, Mr Speaker, this is a Budget Statement that would restore and sustain micro stability, provide the environment for the private sector to grow, improve public services and tackle corruption and support small businesses in rural and deprived areas.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to contribute to the debate on the Motion before the House. Mr Speaker, definitely, there are a few very useful ideas contained in this Budget Statement. The idea of completing the National Identification exercise and integrating the entire system to fast track the formalisation of our highly informal system; the national digital addressing system, which I believe a private company, Suba Info Solution and Zoomlion, have done for a long time and can be expanded nationwide. I recall as Hon Minister for Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation in charge of the Department of Town and Country Planning, I asked the two Agencies to work together to see if they could scale up the national digital addressing system for the country. I am happy that this is being taken over. I also applaud the commitment to enforce the Public Financial Management Act, which I believe would really instil discipline in our financial management. Mr Speaker, beyond these very important useful ideas, none of which, in my opinion, is really original, there are a number of major omissions that I want to draw attention to. One is in the agricultural sector. There has been talks about cocoa, coffee, sheanuts, and today, we talked about cashew but nothing has been said about cotton. Mr Speaker, cotton has the potential to really expand the economy of the three regions in the North; Upper East, Upper West, Northern Region, and indeed, the northern part of Brong Ahafo Region. I think that it is a major omission that this Budget says nothing about the develop- ment of this subsector. I therefore, urge a re-look at the entire agricultural strategy and focus on this as a major tool for fighting poverty in the North. Mr Speaker, I also want to draw attention to an issue that I think is a conspiracy by Hon Ministers of Finance to overturn consensus built in this country. That conspiracy is misrepre- sented as rigidities in our Budget Statements. That term, ‘rigidity' in our Budget -- that is why one Hon Minister for Finance is able to quote other Hon Ministers for Finance to support his decision because there is a collective effort by all Hon Ministers for Finance to overturn some consensus built around major national issues.
On a point of order. If he is saying that the Hon Ministers for Finance under the National Democratic Congress (NDC) conspired to give us something which was negative, he should speak to it; he should not bring in our Hon Minister for Finance. He has not conspired with any Hon Ministers for Finance.
Hon O. B. Amoah, it is a valid point to say conspiracy is a crime but to veer to one part and not the other part -- Hon Ayariga, please replace “cons- piracy” with a more acceptable word.
Mr Speaker, Hon Ministers for Finance have consistently tried to use the argument around rigidities to overturn decisions taken by this House on key and important national matters. Let us take what you would consider as rigidities; GETFund, the battle to establish a Fund known as GETFund was fought and national consensus had to be built around it. Today, if you decide to cap GETFund and divert the resources to your priorities, those priorities may not reflect the priorities agreed on by this country at the time that GETFund was accepted. I may be willing to pay the 2.5 per cent for GETFund but if you told me that you were using that tax for something different, I may not accept. In the same manner, I would not accept that argument about the National Health Insurance Fund, the Road Fund, nor the Communications Tax Levy. All these were fought in this country and finally, a national consensus was built on them because we agreed as a national priority that these were key important matters that we were willing to commit tax money to.
On a point of order. Mr Speaker, the Hon Member said the development plan for the people may be different from what we are pursuing. But I
just want to remind him that the people of Ghana voted for the New Patriotic Party (NPP) based on the Manifesto that we marketed to them. So, based on that we can divert whatever resources to support our Manifesto.
Hon Deputy Chief Whip, you are out of order. Hon Member, please continue.
Mr Speaker, the effort to cap these Statutory Funds must be opposed and fought in this House. We would not accept it, Mr Speaker. Paragraph 799 of the Budget Statement also talks about tax exemptions. Mr Speaker, the effort to review it would mean that we would have to bring all the Agreements in which we approve those tax exemptions to this House. If we attempt to set aside those tax exemptions, we would be confronted with serious legal challenges. This is because these are Agreements that have already been entered with private sector operators, who are implementing projects in this country. So, when we want to review it, we would be confronted with serious legal problems. In addition, somebody said yesterday, that we would be robbing Peter to pay Paul. What is the essence of insisting that they must pay the money upfront and later on come back for a refund? That is going to create a problem for them in project financing. If he has gone to seek financing to implement the project, assuming that there are tax exemptions, and we insist that he should make upfront payment of the tax and later come for a refund, you are asking him to go for more funding to be able to complete the same project. That would raise issues about project cost. Mr Speaker, these policies, are clearly unacceptable in the light of prior commitments that have been made by this House. Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister for Finance identified the issue of compensation and emolument as a major constraint on our Budget but I have not seen any set of ideas to deal with this problem. Indeed, I have seen a programme to compound the problem. What causes the problem? It is the size of the Public Sector that determines our Wage Bill. So, if we identify this as our major challenge, what are the solutions? The solution is to create three more National Development Authorities; the solution is to create four more regions. Each region comes with a huge administrative apparatus, the National Development Authorities may come with huge administrative apparatus. Mr Speaker, what would the Regional Coordinating Councils be doing? What would our District Assemblies be doing in the development of the Northern Region, the Middle Belt, and the Coastal Belt? What are our Regional Coordinating Councils and District Assemblies doing that warrant a new Governance arrangement to be able to develop these places? This does not solve the problem of the Wage Bill. Mr Speaker, if you look at the Wage Bill, there are about three critical areas that account for the huge size; education, healthcare and the others. If you take education alone, I have not seen any innovative effort to encourage the private sector to go into Education. Look at the figures and you would see a huge private sector appetite to invest in education. With regard to basic education, the private sector is fast catching up with Government in terms of the number of schools. We have over twelve thousand schools and four thousand of them belong to the private sector while about twelve thousand belong to Government when it comes to Junior High Schools (JHS). So, there is an interest. At the tertiary level, there are more private tertiary institutions --
Hon Member, one minute.
There are more private tertiary institutions --
Hon Member, just hold on. Having regard to the state of the Business of the House, I direct that the House Sits outside the prescribed period. You have one minute to conclude your debate, Hon Member.
So, Mr Speaker, this whole talk about lending support to the private sector -- The key private sector areas that have shown interest in developing these social services, have not been supported and there is nothing in this Budget Statement to support them. Indeed, what I see is an effort to kill those ones. I made those points during the debate on the State of the Nation Address. My argument is that, the ‘Free Senior High School' must be extended to private Senior High Schools. I have also argued that, constitutionally, the obligation to provide progressively free senior high school, also extends to progressively providing free tertiary education. Yet we make so much noise about Senior High School and we say nothing about the commitment to tertiary education. Mr Speaker, I insist that there must be a demonstrated commitment to providing progressive free tertiary education in compliance with article 25 of our 1992 Constitution. On that note, Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to contribute to the debate on the floor of the House. Thank you very much.
Hon Siaka Stevens?
Mr Speaker, thank you for giving me the opportunity to contribute to the Motion on the floor. I would concentrate on the brouhaha surrounding the free Senior High School (SHS) system. The popular opinion on the other side suggests that it is not yet time and that it should be postponed to the future. The systems are not ready and the fundamentals have not been built; therefore, it should be in the future. When is the future? The future is now. School children between the ages of nine and ten years, would grow up to occupy these very seats by 2026 Therefore, there is the need to invest in them educationally.
Hon Member, hold on. The Second Deputy Speaker to take the Chair.
MR SECOND DEPUTY SPEAKER
Hon Member, continue.
Mr Speaker, poorly educated youth is a price the nation cannot bear, hence the provision of free, quality SHS. The Budget Statement seeks to provide free, quality SHS. Therefore, it is critical to build a human capital that would ensure a sustainable knowledge- based economy. We all know what education can provide to every nation. Education is the key to development, eradicating poverty, improving socioeconomic life and improving employability. Weak economies like Uganda had a 12 billion economy when it rolled out free SHS 10 years ago. Ghana's economy is over US$37 billion. Therefore, we cannot use funding challenges as an excuse. That is why Government is realigning spending priorities to get money for the running of the free SHS programme. Mr Speaker, the Budget Statement has made it abundantly clear that President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo is not going to touch the Heritage Fund to bankroll the free SHS. So, that fear should be put to rest. The Government is committed and very serious about ensuring that every sector of the educational ladder improves. For instance, free SHS, when it is approved, would commence in the 2017/ 2018 academic year and that would be the second largest social intervention in the country apart from health insurance. We know the hullaballoo surrounding it. At the time we were about to pass the Bill for the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) to take place, our Hon Friends on the other side walked out of this House. They did not support it and that is what we are experiencing today. Free SHS would shake every household in the country just like the National Health Insurance Scheme. [Hear! Hear!] The way and manner in which they walked out -- In lieu of the election, they rather turned out championing the cause of health insurance. So, I believe that 30 years from now, my Hon Colleagues on the other side would, in the same manner, praise the free SHS policy. They know deep down in their hearts that it is going to serve a major purpose. To show Government's commitment, there is going to be a construction of 200 pre-schools. Again, our Hon Friends on the other Side have been exposed. Prior to the elections, what we heard was that schools under trees and weak buildings had been replaced. Now, what do we see? If you go to Breman Jamera, an unfortunate incident that happened there; some buildings collapsed and killed about six children. This is a way of exposing them, that all that they said during the election were not true. To forestall the reoccurrence of these things, the Budget Statement seeks to rehabilitate 8,286 school buildings, including second cycle institutions. The Government will also fully restore the repayment of allowances to about 43,570 teacher trainees in 43 public colleges of education. Mr Speaker, Government seeks to increase the Students Loan Trust Fund. Several Hon Members -- rose --
Hon Member, just a minute. I see a number of your Hon Colleagues on the other Side on their feet. I see them sitting. Hon Ablakwa?
Mr Speaker, my Hon Colleague on the other side is misleading the House. He just stated that when the previous Government --
Hon Member, if he is out of order, kindly draw my attention to the Standing Order and you can proceed. Make sure that it is under Standing Orders that deal with interruptions. When an Hon Member is on his feet and you want to interrupt, there are Standing Orders that permit so. So, draw our attention.
I am grateful, Mr Speaker. I come under Standing Order 92 (1) (a). with your permission. It says that: “(a) 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 notice and submit it to Mr. Speaker for decision . . .”
Now draw my attention to the Standing Order that has been infringed.
Mr Speaker, the Standing Order that has been breached will be -- [Interruptions] -- Standing Order 92 (1) (b).
Please, may we hear him in silence?
Mr Speaker, I come under Standing Order 92 (1) (a), supported by Standing Order 30 (f). [Interruption]
Standing Order 30 (f), read.
Mr Speaker, Standing Order 30 (f): “deliberate misleading of Parliament or any of its Committees”.
Standing Order 30 says: “The following acts or conduct shall constitute a breach of privilege or contempt of Parliament.”… (f) deliberate misleading of Parliament or any of its Committees”.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Member has been grossly misleading this House.
So, the process is stated in Standing Order 31. Are you drawing my attention to refer the matter to the Privileges Committee? [Laughter.]
Mr Speaker, that is why I began with Standing Order 92 (1) (a) which requires you to rule on the matter.
Hon Member, I agree with you but when you refer to Standing Order 30 - Standing Order 31 says: “In all cases of proceedings where complaint is made of a breach or privilege or contempt of Parliament, Mr Speaker may direct that the matter be referred to the Committee of Privileges”. So, that is the procedure you would need to put in place under Standing Order 30.
Mr Speaker, I was seeking your leave on the matter and that is why I began with Standing Order 92 (1) (a) which says that you can grant leave for me to proceed on a point of order.
Hon Member, I need to be told which Standing Order has been breached. When you draw my attention to the Standing Order -- I am guided by the Standing Orders. So, I would resort to it to as my attention is drawn as to the process -- what would be put in place for that to be done. -- [Pause.] Hon Member, please, proceed with your contribution.
Mr Speaker, we indeed have interesting times. The Hon Member almost read half of the Standing Orders. Mr Speaker, as if it is not enough, this Budget Statement sought to increase the Student Loan Trust Fund by 50 per cent starting from 2017. The implication is clear to the parents and the students body when it comes to the issues of getting funds, photocopying and other issues. This clearly demonstrates the Government's intentions of helping every sector of education in Ghana. The most interesting part of the Budget Statement is that, it also seeks to promote the speaking, teaching and learning of the French language. It also proposed French to be adopted as the second official language. This would promote trade, business, commerce and social interactions among neighbors. Due to language barriers, when one gets to the border towns, the immigration officials find it difficult to communicate very well. Mr Speaker, when the Budget Statement is approved by Parliament, it would go a long way to enable Ghana to do meaningful transactions.
Hon Member, you have a minute. I can see Hon Mahama Ayariga on his feet. Yes, Hon Member?
Mr Speaker, I rise to raise an issue pursuant to Standing Order 5 and with your permission, I beg to quote: “In case of doubt these Orders shall be interpreted by Mr. Speaker as he deems fit”. Mr Speaker, Hon Okudzeto Ablakwa rose and you asked him for the Standing Order pursuant to which --
Hon Mahama Ayariga, you are completely out of order. [Laughter] -- If the intention is to trigger a process to review a ruling of the Speaker, you know what to do. The Standing Orders are very clear on that. So, please, do not go under any subterfuge to put across your view. Hon Member, please continue.
Mr Speaker, to still demonstrate Government's commitments, if this Budget Statement is approved, about 250,000 pieces of school uniforms would be provided as against 209,415 school uniforms provided by the previous regime. Aside that 40,000 pieces of school sandals would be provided as against 30,000 provided by the previous regime. Mr Speaker, it is on this note that I would want all of us to be optimistic and clear our minds of all doubts and rally behind the President and note that his success is ours and not that of any political party. Therefore, when it comes to the approval of the Budget Statement, I would employ all sides of the House to freely support it. The will of God is fixed, settled and unchallenged.
Hon Members, we may now listen to Hon Bernard Ahiafor, the Member of Parliament for Akatsi South.
Mr Speaker, thank you very much for the opportunity to contribute to the Motion on the floor that this House approves the Financial Policy of the Government of Ghana for the year ending 31st December, 2017. Mr Speaker, I would start by drawing the attention of the House to some discrepancies in the Budget Statement, the State of the Nation Address and the Annual Debt Management Report delivered by the Hon Minister for Finance; Hon Ken Ofori-Atta. Mr Speaker, I would start with paragraph 6 on page 1 of the Budget Statement and with your permission, I beg to quote: “The country's debt stock has reached a level of about 73 per cent of GDP at end December 2016…” Mr Speaker, if we look at the appendix “c” of the Annual Debt Management Report, the same Hon Minister for Finance said that the debt stock to GDP was 72.5 per cent. In paragraph 4 on page 4 of the State of the Nation Address, the President in a clear and unambiguous terms stated that the debt-stock of Ghana was 74 per cent. Mr Speaker, the question is, between the Hon Minister for Finance and the President, who is being economical with the truth? Who is misleading the country about the debt stock? Which is the correct figure? Is it the one in the State of the Nation Address, the Budget Statement or the Annual Debt Management Report? Clearly, somebody is misleading the House and the country at large. Mr Speaker, I believe strongly that this Budget Statement cannot be an “Asempa Budget”. Mr Speaker, the removal of the teacher and nursing trainee allowance and the proposed restoration thereof by the current Government -- Mr Speaker, I would want to place on record, that the decision to remove the teacher training and nursing training allowances by the previous Government was for a good cause.
— On a point of order. Mr Speaker, I rise under Standing Order 93(2), which says, and with your permission, I beg to quote: “It shall be out of order to use offensive, abusive, insulting, blasphemous or unbecoming words or to impute improper motives to any other Member or to make personal allusions.”
Mr Speaker, indeed, the Hon Member says that the President is committing fraud, and that his Budget Statement is a “419 Budget”. He went into the Nigerian Criminal Code and said that under Section 419 in the Nigerian Criminal Code, it is fraud. So this whole Budget Statement is a fraudulent one. He is a lawyer and he knows the implications of what he said. He is imputing bad motives, and indeed, his words are offensive. He should be made to retract, withdraw.
Hon Member, did I hear you conclude, that it is unbecoming of a Member of Parliament? Is that what you said?
Mr Speaker, I was referring to Standing Order 93 (2), as he used offensive and abusive —
No. I asked, did I hear you conclude, that it is unbecoming of the Member of Parliament? Did you say so?
Mr Speaker, yes, I said so. So I said he should retract and withdraw.
Are you sure you are not falling foul of the same Standing Order that you have referred to?
Mr Speaker, then I will change the word — [Laughter] — And say that this falls under Standing Order 93(2) and so he should be made to retract it.
Hon Bernard Ahiafor, you have heard your Hon Colleague. What do you say to that?
Mr Speaker, my friend is putting words into my mouth. I never described the Budget Statement as a “419 Budget”. What I said was that, some people referred to the Budget Statement as an “Asempa Budget”, while a cross- section referred to it as a “419 Budget”. I tried to research to know what “419” means, and it turned out to be a section in the Nigeria's Criminal Code that deals with fraud. I never described the Budget Statement as “419”. Mr Speaker, my quest was to know what “419” means, that revealed that section —
Hon Member, you went beyond where you just ended to even talk about who spoke the truth; whether it was the Hon Minister for Finance or the President? You asked who is misleading and defrauding the country?
Mr Speaker, I made that particular point, when I was drawing the attention to the inconsistencies in the debt stock; the Annual Management Report stated the debt stock as 72.5 per cent of GDP, the Budget Statement stated 73 per cent of GDP while the State of the Nation Address mentions 74 per cent of GDP.
Hon Member, your Hon Colleague has taken a serious view of it and has referred to our Criminal Code. I believe that you should take due cognisance of the position and do the honourable thing.
Mr Speaker, if my research into what “419” means, that is defrauding by false pretences is offensive, I withdraw.
Hon Member, it is not the research. You did a good job by the research, but you ascribed that to the President —
Mr Speaker, I have never ascribed it to the Budget Statement. I ended up honourably, that this is what my research revealed.
Hon Member, I do not want to repeat myself. I said you should do the honourable thing.
Mr Speaker, I withdraw.
You may continue with your submission. Ms Safo — rose --
I have dealt with this matter and want the debate to flow. So, Hon Deputy Majority Leader, may you kindly resume your seat — [Hear! Hear!]
Mr Speaker, respectfully, I do not seek to go contrary to your order.
Mr Speaker, I will move to the removal of teacher and nursing training allowances. The removal of the teacher and nursing training allowances by the previous Government was for a good cause. Mr Speaker, we are all in this country and very much aware of the teacher training colleges having been elevated to Colleges of Education. In this country, Colleges of Education are tertiary institutions and all tertiary institutions are on a student loans scheme. It goes without saying, that if you go to Rome, you must do what the Romans do. It therefore accords with good governance that, teacher training colleges are elevated to tertiary institutions, they are also placed on a student loans scheme just like other students or tertiary institutions on a student loans scheme. In particular, the other tertiary institutions that also train teachers, like University of Education, Winneba, University of Cape Coast and -- today, the University of Ghana, Legon has a Faculty of Education that also trains teachers. Mr Speaker, the removal made it possible for the bottleneck, as a result of the budgetary constraint, to be removed, leading to increase in enrolment of teacher trainees. Mr Speaker, when we look at the admission for 2014-2015 academic year, it increased enormously by 9.05 per cent. That was the rate of increase in admission. In the 2016 State of the Nation Address, we were told on page 12 that, the admission for teacher trainees had increased by a whooping 63 per cent. Mr Speaker, I am afraid that the reintroduction of the allowance would be followed by a budgetary constraint that might lead to a quota system being introduced such that the Government would have to look at its purse to determine the number of students to be admitted by the colleges. We would go back to square one and face the situation where a lot of our students would finish Senior High School, looking for an opportunity to enter Colleges of Education but would not be able to do so because the government would have to look at its purse and determine the number that is supposed to go to that particular school. Mr Speaker, my third reason is that, the removal of the allowance, no longer made it an influencing factor for students entering the colleges. Some people may naturally not want to be teachers, but because of the allowance, they may want
to enter a College of Education and so we may be unable to identify the people who genuinely would want to be professional teachers. Mr Speaker, I would move on to the free Senior High School policy. Mr Speaker, at page 10 of the State of the Nation Address, the President said, and I beg to quote: “Mr Speaker, the success of all our plans and all our aspirations depend on our ability to educate our young people, and provide the oppor- tunity for lifelong education to the adult population.”
“If I am in a hurry, I am in a hurry to ensure that every child born in this country attends school from Kindergarten to Senior High school…” And just in case there is anyone left in this country who has not heard yet, free SHS starts with the 2017/2018 entrants into the public SHS.” The Budget Statement under reference also stated the same policy on page 148. Mr Speaker, clearly, they are starting the policy with the entrants for 2017/2018 academic year. My question therefore is, what happens, to the continuing students, and are they also going to be taken care of? The Budget Statement is completely silent on the continuing students. So Ghanaians must know that the free Senior High School policy as promised and proposed in the Budget Statement is limited to the entrants for 2017/2018 academic year. Mr Speaker, was that the campaign promise given to Ghanaians about free Senior High School? It is definitely, no.
Hon Member, you may conclude.
Mr Speaker, what is the worth of going to school free of charge under a tree? I question myself; in this Budget Statement, my first question is how many new classrooms are proposed in the Budget Statement for primary education? The answer is none. How many new classrooms are proposed for Junior High School education in the Budget Statement -- The answer is zero. How many new classrooms are proposed for Senior High School -- The answer is zero. How many new schools are proposed for Technical and Vocational Schools? The answer is zero. The question therefore is; is that an “Asempa Budget Statement. The answer is, no. Thank you for the opportunity, Mr Speaker.
Hon Member for Kwadaso, Dr Samiu Kwadwo Nuamah?
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to also contribute towards the debate on the floor of the House that we should approve the Financial and Economic Policy Statement of the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo- Addo. Mr Speaker, we followed debate in the House regarding energy and power generation and my friends on the other side want to be applauded for the fact that 800 megawatts of energy was added to the existing power generation capacity and that, by the end of this year, 1,200 megawatts of power would again be added unto the existing generation capacity. Mr Speaker, for the past three to four years, we found ourselves in deep darkness; all of us can bear witness to that. I think that it had direct effect on the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth which recorded 3.6 per cent. This is because in there, it says clearly that industry grew by negative 1.2 per cent. Power drives industry, so the absence of power clearly meant that industry could not thrive. Mr Speaker, it baffles my mind that in a country where we have existing power capacity -- After the addition of 1,200 megawatts, we would be getting well over 5,000 megawatts, but we still struggle to meet our demand of 2,000 megawatts. It is mind boggling that we find ourselves in this situation. Besides, we kept on adding unto the existing power generation capacity, thinking that we would resolve the challenges that we found ourselves in. So, in the midst of the crisis, my friends on the other side thought that by increasing capacities and setting up new ministries, one could arrest the situation. Clearly, we all found out that that was not the way forward and they failed. So, this new Government has reversed the situation and we are not going to create a Minister for Power and Ministry of Petroleum; those would fall under one Ministry, which I believe is a step in the right direction.
None Mr Adam — rose --
Hon Member, just a minute. I can see the Hon Member of Parliament for Damongo on his feet.
Mr Speaker, we are debating the 2017 Budget Statement. In the Budget Statement, the additions were indicated and he said that we should not go that way. We would like him to point out what the Government is doing in the Budget Statement in respect of --
Hon Member, you are completely out of order.
Mr Speaker, these practices have caused idling of plants whereby plants are just lying idle and are not really doing anything. As I speak to you now, we have a Takoradi T3 Power Plant which is lying idle and not doing anything. Part of the Takoradi T1 Power Plant, which has about 300 megawatts, is again idle. Asogli Power Plant is also struggling with generational functioning; part of it is still lying idle. So, if we are not able to fully utilise and exhaust what we have in the system, why do we keep on adding? This is not the way forward. Mr Speaker, I would suggest that going forward, all new public procurements relating to thermal energy should have combined cycle technology. By so doing, we would make sure that we have high efficiency and value for money. It should be able to burn multiple fuels and I believe that if we keep on doing that, it would help us. This also falls in line with the Hon Minister's proposal that we are going to divide them and the hydro power plant is going to fall strictly under the Volta River Authority (VRA) and a new entity is going
to manage thermal power. I believe this is a step in the right direction. Why? It would place a sharp focus on the operations of both the thermal and hydro power source. Again, it calls for different experiences to manage these two entities; hydro technology is not the same as thermal technology and the engineers would tell you that. Mr Speaker, the Transmission System Rehabilitation Project is a good initiative since these lines increase the robustness of relatively weaker portions of the grid by creating alternative parts to existing radical lines. This would reduce incidents of swings that cause unnecessary power outages as well as great system collapse.
Hon Member, can you please draw our attention to the paragraphs you are referring to as it would help us?
Mr Speaker, this is under paragraphs 458 to 462. Mr Speaker, again, my Hon Friends on the other side wants us to believe that they have actually increased access to electricity. I would like to also say that, it is not what you do but how you do it. We would create more mini and nano grids as it was stated in the Budget Statement, especially with the renewable power generation such as hydro power. We have lots of hydro potential sites dotted across the country and we can take advantage of that. Mr Speaker, expanding electricity actually puts a burden on the grid. Why should we extend electricity to sparsely populated, remote and hard to reach communities while we can actually establish new and nano-grids to serve these communities? Mr Speaker, I am confident that the proposals captured in the Budget Statement regarding power generation would go a long way just for
Hon Member, your Hon Colleague on the other Side is on his feet.
Mr Speaker, as a “fresher”, if I make a mistake, I hope that you would refer me to the right Standing Order to be able to continue. [Laughter.]
Sorry, I did not hear what you said.
Mr Speaker, I just said that, as a “fresher”, even if I do not quote the right Order, I believe you would guide me to do so to contribute. [Laughter.]
Hon Member, definitely; the Hon Speaker would not participate in the debate.
Mr Speaker, I would want to come under Order 92 (a) or (b); either of them. Maybe, in the course of my contribution -- [Interruption] -- and it is important that the House is a bit flexible in situations like these. He made a point about the fact that -- [Uproar] Order 92 (2) (b)
Hon Member, there is no Order 92 (b).
Mr Speaker, rather, Order 92(1) (b) --
Order 92 (1) (b)? Read.
Mr Speaker, it says that: “No Member shall interrupt any other Member except: - (b) to elucidate some matter raised by the Member speaking in the course of his speech -”
Mr Speaker, should I continue? [Laughter.] “…provided that the Member speaking is willing to give way and resume his seat…”
Exactly! So, I now have to ask the Hon Member speaking whether he is willing to give way to your request.
Mr Speaker, it is to enrich the debate. [Uproar.]
No, Mr Speaker, I will not give way. [Laughter.]
Hon Member for Kwadaso, do you understand what has happened? I ask this because I saw that when you stood up you were a bit unsure what to say or what to do, and I saw that there was some special assistant by you making some promptings. Have you now captured the drill? What are you expected to do?
Mr Speaker, we are all learning. So, I am being coached gradually.
I would want us to learn. That is why I insist that we should learn the Standing Orders, the process and procedures.
Yes, Hon Deputy Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, rightly so, as we all try to learn. But I am up because the Hon Member for Kwadaso had initially indicated to you that he was not yielding to the Hon Member who sought to raise a point of order. That is why he stood up and said he was not yielding. This is because if we look at Order 92 (1) (b) which the Hon Member referred to, he actually must yield to his request on the point of order. You asked the Hon Member for Kwadaso whether indeed he was prepared to give him the way and he indicated to you that he would not. So, with your indulgence, could you allow the Hon Member for Kwadaso to continue?
Yes, I totally agree with your understanding of the Standing Order. I just wanted to know whether he himself understood what he was trying to do. This is because the words actually were not that he was not prepared to yield. He used different words. That was why I asked him. [Interruption.] Yes, please.
Mr Speaker, I fully understood it.
Have you finished?
No, Mr Speaker, I have not finished. But I am saying that I understood what I was supposed to do and request to continue.
Yes, so you are unprepared to give way.
Yes, I am very much unprepared to give way.
All right. So, continue.
Mr Speaker, with the grid expansion, I would say that even though they have done well by increasing from 80 per cent to 80.5 per cent over the years, the prudent way that I believe we should go ahead with is this; the question is why we should extend electricity to sparsely remote and underpopulated areas just because we need to. It puts pressure on the grid. But we can adopt mini and nano grid technologies like hydro, wind and solar to take care of some of these things so that it will free some of the pressure on the grid. That is exactly what this Budget Statement and Economic Policy is talking about. Mr Speaker, in conclusion, I would say that this Budget Statement and Economic Policy is ready to take us totally out of dumsor. There will be no more dumsor. Ghana is ready to do business and energy is the drive.
We will now listen to the Hon Member for Ningo - Prampram, Hon Samuel Nartey George.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I wish to comment on the Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the Government of Ghana for the 2017 Financial Year on the theme: “Sowing the Seeds for Growth and Jobs”. Mr Speaker, I would be focusing on the Communication sector; issues that have to do with the Ministry of Information and Ministry of Communications as captured in the Budget Statement. The Ministry of Information, we are told in the Budget Statement, intends to organise nine policy dialogues on government policies in key sectors of the economy. The issue here is the key driver for taking this policy dialogue to the homes of ordinary Ghanaians will be by virtue of digital terrestrial television. The question one would ask is, by the time the policy dialogues would begin under this Administration, would we have completed the final phase of the migration under the digital migration scheme started by the previous government? But the challenge I have is that, if we take the 2016 Budget Statement, we speak about the need to ensure that the most vulnerable in our society who have televisions that are analogue and would not be able to be tuned to the digital feed will receive a million set top boxes to ensure that they are able to take part in this policy dialogue that the government is suggesting. However, in this 2017 Budget Statement, the one million vulnerable Ghanaian homes are not considered or taken care of in this Budget Statement. So there are one million Ghanaians in the most vulnerable of situations who would not be able to afford the set top boxes and are crying. This is because this Budget Statement does not take care of them. Mr Speaker, if we go to paragraph 520 of the Budget Statement, it states, and I read with your indulgence: “To improve internet connectivity for all MDAs and MMDAs, the Ministry completed the implementation of the e-Government Infrastructure Platform Project and will pursue the implementation of the public key infrastructure and Open Data Initiative in 2017.” Mr Speaker, I put before this House that the Ministry of Finance is misleading the Ghanaian people. I am stating this on authority that, there is currently an open data initiative fully implemented by government. So if the Hon Minister for Finance is telling us that he is coming to implement an open data initiative, we can only ask what he is coming to do. Mr Speaker, as we speak today, there is a data.gov.gh website that is fully functional, built by software engineers from NITA, under the NDC administration. In fact, the founder of the World Wide Web (WWW), Mr Tim Berners-Lee visited Ghana in early 2012 and met the President at the time, Prof. Mills. Using his foundation, the World Wide Web Foundation, he gave support to NITA to start the open data initiative in Ghana. The World Bank under the e-transform project has provided a credit facility for us to expand the open data initiative, again under President Mahama. [Interruption.] If they ask for sources, they should visit data.gov.gh, it is open. It is there. There are data sets from education, energy, extractive industries, the Statistical Service and the Ministry of Finance itself. Mr Speaker, if we go further, they state in paragraph 521 about an e-Immigration System. Again, I am sure Hon Members of Parliament have used the airport in recent times. Mr Speaker, in paragraph 523, they give us credit but they give us half credit and as an Hon Member of the previous Government, I insist that the Hon Minister must give the past Government full credit for what it has done. When they speak about the enhanced community information centers, they say that we put up only 20 in the northern part of the country. That is incorrect. We put up 31 enhanced community information centres; at least in every region of the country, there is one. Again, apart from that, we have completed over 40 regular community information centers and then we have built nine regional innovation centers. So they must take cognisance of the fact that the things they report in this Budget Statement and tell us, are investments that have been completed under the Mahama and Mills administration. If we go to paragraph 524, again under communication, they talk about the fact that they are going to begin the process of commercialising the infrastructure of NITA. I wonder what briefing the Hon Minister for Finance got to put all of these in the Budget Statement? The
Hon Member, please, I can see your colleague -- The Hon Member of Parliament for Ledzokuku on his feet.
Mr Speaker, thank you. I rise on a point of order -- Standing Order 93(2) “It shall be out of order to use offensive, abusive, insulting, blasphemous or unbecoming words or to impute improper motives to any other Member or to make personal allusions” Mr Speaker, my colleague Hon Member on the other side is making a very fantastic delivery but when he introduced the phrase: “ I wonder what kind of briefing the Hon Minister for Finance had to have put this in the Budget Statement” it impugns his integrity. He could have made his point without necessarily having to say that. Mr Speaker, when someone says he wonders the kind of briefing, what it means is that the briefing one had was either disjointed, improper, misleading or offensive and all these adjectives are unwarranted. He could have made his fantastic point without having said that he wonders what kind of briefing. The Hon Minister for Finance is a man who has established himself in both private and public service and I do not think he deserves this expression. Mr Speaker, through your Hon office, I would like to plead that my Hon Colleague withdraws that particular expression and goes ahead to make his fantastic delivery. Thank you very much.
Hon Member, the subject here is the ‘brief' and not the Hon Minister for Finance and so, he is not talking about the integrity of the Hon Minister for Finance but the briefing that was given. So you do not come under Standing Order 93(2).
Mr Speaker, respectfully, I appreciate the fact that the briefing was an allusion to those who were informing the Hon Minister for Finance. But if one receives a brief and the brief is improper or disjointed and one translates it into written policy, you are also culpable. So, he was not only impugning the integrity of those who did the briefing but [Interruption] -- That is not my judgement, that was the explicit translation of what he said. Mr Speaker, I believe he could make a wonderful point without that particular expression.
Mr Speaker, can I proceed?
Hon Member, you may continue with your submission.
Mr Speaker, I am very grateful for your wise counsel and judgement. Again, the last sentence of paragraph 527 of the Budget Statement says: “In 2017, the Ministry will finalise a partnership agreement with the Republic of Mauritius to invest in the ICT Park at Dawa” Mr Speaker, two years ago in the year 2015, the then President John Dramani Mahama travelled to the Republic of Mauritius and when he travelled to Mauritius, as part of his investment drive, he attracted the Government of Mauritius to invest in an ICT Park in Dawa, my own constituency. Mr Speaker, as we speak, the contract agreement was given the final no objection on 6th December, 2016, by the Attorney-General of Ghana to be signed. So if they are now talking about now completing arrangements, again, it is misleading of this House. Mr Speaker, again, if we look at the infrastructure that has been put in place by the immediate outgone NDC administration of His Excellency John Dramani Mahama and juxtapose that to appendix 1A of this very Budget Statement. If we look at page 157 appendix 1A under services item 3.4 -- Information and Communication, you would realise that in the year 2016, Information and Communication contributed 14.4 per cent of GDP. It is projected and this is the best projection that the Ministry of Finance could give meaning. In reality, it could be less. At 10.7 per cent, it is a drop of almost four percentage points of GDP. The reason there is this drop is because ex-President Mahama has effectively completed the work in the Ministry of Communication, he has completed the Accra Digital Centre Mr Speaker, the Accra Digital Centre does not stand on its own, there is the Tema ICT Park that is already providing 500 jobs for Ghanaian youth. If you look at the communication sector, you would realise that the Budget Statement is bereft of substance, misrepresents the facts and it does not pay credit --
I can see the Hon Member here on his feet. Please?
Mr Speaker, thank you very much. I rise on a point of Standing Order 93(2), and it reads: “It shall be out of order to use offensive, abusive, insulting, blasphemous or unbecoming words or to impute improper motives to any other Member or to make personal allusions.” My very good Friend on the other side, Hon Samuel Nartey George is making decent submissions. However, he made a statement that seemed to suggest that there may be a fraudulent motive for certain things that have been put in the Budget Statement.
Hon Member, are you saying, that seems to suggest or that it suggests?
Mr Speaker, that suggests he actually used the word ‘fraudulent intent' -- [Uproar] -- and he used the word, ‘misappropriation' Mr Speaker, I believe that that may not have been his intent but he has used
those words there and I think that he should do the honourable thing to retract those words with your direction.
Hon Member for Ningo-Prampram, what did you say?
Mr Speaker, I made the point that if care was not taken, we may be led to a fraudulent conclusion. ‘May be' being the operational clause in that statement. So, if I say, we may be it behoves Government and the Majority to convince Ghanaians and prove to this Honourable House that they are not leading us down a fraudulent path.
Hon Member, was that what he said or that was what you heard?
Mr Speaker, that is not what I heard. I did not hear any word “may”. It was direct that it was “fraudulent”.
Mr Speaker, I would plead with my very good friend and Hon Colleague, Hon George Nenyi Andah, to state the full sentence I made using “fraudulent” for the benefit of this whole House. If he says that the comment or sentence I have made is not in reference except deferring to your better judgement I could proceed --
Hon Member, it is not part of your duty to manage the House for me. I believe that I am capable of doing that.
Mr Speaker, respectfully noted. Mr Speaker, may I proceed?
So, please, if your Hon Colleague has taken an exception to that phrase, could you please withdraw it?
Mr Speaker, I would defer to your better judgement and withdraw appropriately to make my Hon Colleagues on the other side more comfortable with my submission. However, in conclusion, in the 2016 State of the Nation Address --
I see that the Hon Deputy Majority Leader is up on her feet.
Mr Speaker, respectfully, you gave a direction and I expected that the Hon Member to do so but it looks as if his withdrawal is a conditional one and not to actually --
No; what I heard him say was that he has withdrawn it and that he would use language that would make you more comfortable. That was it. But he withdrew first and said that he was going to use language -- [Interruption.]He is not saying that the withdrawal is conditional.
Mr Speaker, rightly so. He agreed and actually withdrew, but the withdrawal was based on your direction and not to make us happy. Mr Speaker, that is all I seek to draw your attention to. [Interruption.]
Please, let us listen to each other.
Mr Speaker, you gave a specific order and so, his apology is actually in accordance with your order and not to make us happy. We are here to follow rules and it is the rule that we are following and that you requested him to apologise. So, he should not add the fact
Hon Member, I am sure that you have heard what the Hon Deputy Majority Leader has said and so, you would have to take this on board. This is because the withdrawal was in answer to my request and ruling. It is not a matter of making your Hon Colleagues opposite comfortable or uncomfortable. It is a matter of practice and making the House a better place for us to debate. So, please take that on board.
Mr Speaker, well noted. I only added the comfortability because my Hon Friend said that I had made him uncomfortable. Mr Speaker, I withdraw respectfully. Could I proceed, Mr Speaker? In the 2016 State of the Nation Address by His Excellency John Dramani Mahama to this august House, he stated that the NDC Government had put in place the necessary framework to ensure that by the year 2020, we had a cashless society in this country. I would want to urge the Majority side and the Government to ensure that the infrastructure that has been put in place; an 803.8 kilometre fibre optic network --
Hon Member, please, you quoted Standing Order 92 (1) (a) and so you would have to start by drawing attention to the Standing Order that he has breached.
Have you changed your mind? [Laughter.]
Hon Member, you are completely out of order. Hon Member, please continue with your submission.
Mr Speaker, thank you very much. I was making the point that, based on the 2016 State of the Nation Address by His Excellency John Dramani Mahama, I would want to urge the Government of the day to be mindful of the infrastructure that has been put in place to support a cashless system in this country by 2020. The 803.8 kilometre fibre optic network that starts in Ho and terminates in Bawku, the western corridor fibre processes that we have started, the state of the art US$33 million National Data Centre with a redundancy facility on Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) campus are all meant to support our National Identification Scheme because there is a backbone to support the data that would be generated by the National Identification Authority in the new National Identification Scheme that they want to do. On the Digital Mapping
On a point of order. Mr Speaker, I believe that the Hon Member has been misleading this House and I rise on Standing Order 91 (a) -- point of order.
Mr Speaker, Standing Order 91 (a) states that: 91 “A Member may be interrupted -- (a) by a point of order being raised;” And I am saying that I am raising a point of order.
No. Standing Order 91 does not say that a Member may be interrupted. Please read order 91 (a).
“(91) Debates may be interrupted -- (a) by a point of order being raised;”
Mr Speaker, I am raising a point of order that he is misleading the House.
Now, which Standing Order are you referring to?
Mr Speaker, I would want to submit that I am a fresh person in this House and I am learning - - [Laughter] -- but we cannot allow a very important information that he has provided and which has turned out to be false to hold.
Hon Member, I actually took parliamentary notice of the fact that you are a Level 100. [Laughter.] So, I decided to give you the opportunity to learn and that is why I insisted that you should read the Standing Order and not try to paraphrase it, and you proceeded from there to draw my attention to the Standing Order that is in disorder. So, that is the learning process -- we cannot gloss over it and let some of you pass through this House without the House passing through you. And you would go out and say that you are former Hon Members of Parliament, but you do not know a single Standing Order. We do not want to encourage that -- we have to develop our democracy. So, please, just draw our attention to the Standing Order that has been breached and then we could go on.
Mr Speaker, I beg to quote Standing Order 93 (2): “It shall be out of order to use offensive, abusive, insulting, blasphemous or unbecoming words to impute improper motives to any other Member or to make personal allusions.” Mr Speaker, if we read paragraph 520 of the Budget Statement where my Hon Brother said that the implementation of Public Key Infrastructure and Open Data Initiatives is to be done in 2017. He said that this has been fully delivered and it is functioning. He gave www.data.gov.gh and when I visited the website, I could see key government programmes. But when I entered education, it indicated no content. One would see “cities”, enter there and there is no content. You would go everywhere and there is no content. How could he say the programme is fully delivered and it is functioning? So he was misleading the House. There are so many things that he said here that he did not provide evidence for. And I am saying that if he could just make a statement and not provide - With this one, he provided, I went there to check and there was no content. So it is not true, and he could check. Everybody could check.
Hon Member, actually, this is not an issue of point of order. It is an issue for you to get the opportunity to put across your view point. There are a lot of intervening matters in the issues that you have raised, and you know you are dealing with technology.
Mr Speaker, I would be wrapping up, but --
Actually, it is because of the interventions that I have given you some extra minutes. I believe you should be concluding. Hon Member for Effutu?
Hon Member, do not forget that you have referred us to a Standing Order. Your submissions are completely unsupported by the Standing Order you referred us to. This is because, you are relying on Order 93(2).
When we are talking about personal allusion, and are you talking about the Government being a person? Are you talking about the subject matter being the person?
So, because there is no such thing, and that is your understanding of the reference to personal allusions, which is what you are relying on?
No. You are completely out of order.
If your intention is to filibuster, you would be noted by the Speaker as always trying to filibuster. I do not think that would be good for your contributions on the floor. This is because, I know very well that you are learned, and you really understand the phrase “personal allusions”. So, Hon Member, may you continue with your submission?
Mr Speaker, for the avoidance of any doubt on paragraph 521, which talks about the electronic immigration, I would want to state for the records that there is a functional electronic immigration system in place at the Kotoka International Airport, that when travellers are either exiting or entering the country get to the Kotoka International Airport, their biometric details are captured through the details stored on their biometric passports. This is because, their biometric passports which is scanned has their biometric details and that biometric details are already in their passport. That is why when the biometric passport is scanned, the Electronic Immigration System accesses that data which is in the biometric passports, and that record is kept in the electronic immigration platform which sits at the National Data Centre.
Hon Member, when you disagree with a submission of your Hon Colleague, you do not raise a point of order. You wait until it is your turn, and you disagree with it and provide contrary evidence to what he has stated. But you claimed there is a point of order because you disagreed with what the person is saying. And I have told you, when you use the word “misleading” you go to Order 30. So, please, may you conclude?
Mr Speaker, the last issue I would speak on in concluding has to do with the abolishment of taxes on import of pharmaceutical drugs into the country.
Hon Member, you predicated your submission to be on communication -- Your last word.
Mr Speaker, on the pharmaceutical drugs, on the 30th March, 2016, H. E. John Dramani Mahama instructed the Export Trade, Agricultural and Industrial Development Fund (EDAIF) to make US$45 million available to Ghanaian pharmaceutical companies. In fact, three Ghanaian pharmaceutical companies benefited directly. Tobinco Ghana Limited received US$6 million. DanAdams Pharmaceutical Company Limited received US$3 million and Ernest Chemist Limited received US$10 million to aid them expand their operations and begin the manufacture of medication that they hitherto used to import. This abolishment of tax would lead to the flooding of our market of cheap imported drugs and kill our local manufacturing pharmaceutical companies. Mr Speaker, in thanking you for the opportunity, let me say that the theme for the Budget --
Hon Member, I could see your Colleague from Ledzokuku. Because he is a medical officer, and you made some sweeping statement on the sector, it is good to give him the opportunity.
Mr Speaker, I am very grateful for the opportunity. I did not rise strictly on a point of order but to make some few illuminating points.
Hon Member, are you coming under Order 92(1) (b), where you would want to elucidate a matter that is raised?
Mr Speaker, if I come under Order 91(b), you would say you would not give --
It is Order 92(1) (b).
Mr Speaker, yes, Order 92(1) (b).
If you want to explain something, then you can come under that Order, but first, you have to seek his permission whether he would yield to you. Hon Members, it is always important to do so, because it is a learning process. If your Hon Colleague wants to explain something further, it is important to give that opportunity. Do not keep on denying the House additional information on issues. So, please, what is your positions?
Mr Speaker, respectfully, I reserve my right not to yield -- [Laughter.] Mr Speaker, in concluding, I wish to take a leave from the Hon Finance Minister, who did not hesitate to put on display his Christian faith while reading the Budget.
Please, before you conclude, the Hon Member for Effutu?
“The following acts or conducts shall constitute a breach of privilege or contempt of Parliament. (f) deliberate misleading of Parliament or any of its Committees;” Mr Speaker, on this occasion, I rise on the ground that the Hon Member's submission, with respect --
Please read Order 31, following after Order 30.
Hon Member, Orders 70 (2) and 72 have never been the same. They are completely different Standing Orders. One is dealing with statements by the Speaker and Ministers, and 72 is dealing with statements by Members of Parliament, so there is a vast difference. Now, the issue you have raised. Please, look at the whole part and read the Standing Orders. You would get to understand that the intention of the whole Part 14, which deals with rules of the House is to allow a free flow of the debate, so that we can have a very healthy discourse, to not only assist Government to come out with better policies and programmes but also educate the Ghanaian public about the whole tenets of multiparty democracy. So, interruptions are cautiously permitted, and that is why the words used in Standing Orders 91 and 92 are couched in that sense. The area you referred to is where the person can come under Standing Order 92 (1) (b). That is why I made a plea to Hon Members to always yield to allow a clarification on a subject matter. Once the Hon Member insisted that it is his right and that is true. The freedom of speech and debate on the floor -- you know you cannot, outside the floor of the House, attack in any way, whether legal or otherwise, a person's expression of his free speech on the floor of the House. So, that is where you come in but it is the right of Hon Members to give in or not to give in. That is where we should be guided. Particularly when we are debating a Message on the State of the Nation or the Financial Policy of Government, Ghanaians and the whole world would want to listen to the policies and interventions that Government is putting in place to make a difference in the economy and the lives of the people. It is important that we allow debate to flow. Let us listen to one another. That is why any time I am presiding, I do not want these unhealthy unparliamentary interruptions. Hon Member, you may conclude.
In concluding, I am minded by the theme, “Sowing the Seeds for Growth and Jobs”. As a Christian, I am mindful of Matthew 13:1-9, where our Lord and master Jesus Christ, gave the parable of the sower. He said that the farmer had sowed his seed and after he sowed his seed, someone else came back there to try and sow tares in between. Mr Speaker, I believe that the Government of former President John Dramani Mahama sowed the seeds for growth and jobs, but this Budget appears to sow tares in the farm where the seeds for growth and jobs had been sown. Thank you very much.
Hon Deputy Majority Leader, may we get your guidance?
Hon Members, since it is after 2.00 p.m., I believe that it is within my remit to adjourn the House. So, the House stands adjourned to tomorrow, Friday at 10.00 o'clock in the forenoon, where we shall resume to continue with the business of the country. Thank you Hon Members for your endurance.
The House was adjourned at 3.31 p. m. till Friday, 10th March, 2017, at 10.00 a.m. in the forenoon.