VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS AND THE OFFICIAL REPORT
Hon Members, correction of Votes and Proceedings and the Official Report -- the Votes and Proceedings dated Monday, 27th March, 2017. Pages 1 … 30 --
Mr Speaker, I am most grateful. Mr Speaker, this is just to draw attention that, your Appointments Committee sat yesterday, but it has not been captured.
Mr Speaker, yesterday, the Judiciary Committee also met to consider the Annual Estimate for the Judicial Service, but it has not been captured in the Votes and Proceedings.
Page 30 … 35 --
Mr Speaker, I am sorry to draw you back. Ordinarily, it could stand, but on page 20, the amendment to clause 1, I co-sponsored the amendment with the Hon Majority Leader, indeed, “except as otherwise provided in subsection (5)”, when we asked for the deletion of those words. So for the record.
Thank you. Any other? Hon Members, the Votes and Proceedings dated Monday, 27th March, 2017 as corrected are hereby adopted as a true record of proceedings.
[No correction was made to the Official Report of Thursday, 9th March, 2017]. Hon Members, there being no Statements, we move to item 4. At the commencement of public business, Presentation of Papers. Hon Majority Leader, can we please proceed with item 4?
Mr Speaker, we may stand down item numbered 4 (a). We stand them down and move to item numbered 4 (b).
4 (b), Hon Majority Leader and Minister for Parliamentary business.
Mr Speaker, item 4 (b) is to be laid by the Chairman of the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs.
Very well. Item number 4 (b), Chairman of the Committee?
Mr Speaker, if we may lay item 4 (c) starting with (ii)
Very well. By the Chairman of the Committee -- (ii) Report of the Special Budget Committee on the Annual Budget Estimates of the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) for the year ending 31st December 2017. (iv) Report of the Special Budget Committee on the Annual Budget Estimates of the National Media Commission (NMC) for the year ending 31st December 2017. (v) Report of the Special Budget Committee on the Annual Budget Estimates of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) for the year ending 31st December 2017. (vi) Report of the Special Budget Committee on the Annual Budget Estimates of the Electoral Commission (EC) for the year ending 31st December 2017. (vii) Report of the Special Budget Committee on the Annual Budget Estimates of the Audit Service for the year ending 31st December 2017. (viii) Report of the Special Budget Committee on the Annual Budget Estimates of Parliament and the Parliamentary Service for the year ending 31st December 2017.
Mr Speaker, the Vice Chairman of the Committee, the Hon Minority Leader, has informed me that they have gone through the item numbered 4 (c) (i) for which reason, I could lay the report that is in respect of the Public Services Commission. By Chairman of the Committee -- (i) Report of the Special Budget Committee on the Annual Budget Estimates of the Public Services Commission (PSC) for the year ending 31st December 2017.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister for Finance is required to lay the Value Added Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2017, as well as the Energy Sector Levies (Amendment) Bill, 2017. Mr Speaker, he sought permission to engage in some other meeting and I told him to be here at 12 noon. If the House would indulge us, the Hon Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation could lay the documents on behalf of the Hon Minister for Finance.
That means that we will move to item numbered 5. Hon Majority Leader is that right? Item numbered 5 -- Presentation and First Reading of Bills.
BILLS -- FIRST READING
Hon Members, item numbered 6 on the Order Paper -- Earmarked Funds Capping and Realignment Bill, 2017 at the Consideration Stage. Yes, Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, the Hon Ministers are here. I guess we would call for the House to vary the order of Business, and to jump to Motion numbered 11 on page 8 of the Order Paper and deal with the Motion relating to the Ministry of Youth and Sports.
Item numbered 11 -- Yes, Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, understandably, I thought by the first whisper of the Hon Majority Leader -- once we took the Earmarked Funds Capping and Realignment Bill, 2017 through winnowing, we could fast-track it, since it has some significance on the Budget Estimates. But noting that there are Hon Ministers of State, we can probably walk through a few of the Motions on the Budget Estimates, after which we may revert to the Bill. Thank you.
Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, being the seer that I am, I knew, by just watching the radar that this being a very important Bill with serious financial implications, the Hon Minority Leader would demand the Hon Minister for Finance to be in charge. That was why I signaled that he would be joining us at 12 noon. Wherever we get to at 12 noon, we would go back and deal with the Bill. [Interruption.] Mr Speaker, it is both a demand and right thing to do. [Laughter] - His arsenal is depleted. Mr Speaker, so we could deal with the Motion captured as item numbered 11.
Hon Minister for Youth and Sports -- Item numbered 11, Motion.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I beg to move that this Honourable House approves the sum of GH¢46,910,275 for the services of the Ministry of Youth and Sports for the year ending 31st December 2017.
Yes, Hon Chairman of the Committee?
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion and in doing so, present the Committee's Report. Introduction The Draft Budget Estimates for the Ministry of Youth and Sports for 2017 were referred to the Select Committee on Youth, Sports and Culture for consideration and report pursuant to Orders 140 (4) and 187 of the Standing Orders of the House. This followed the presentation to Parliament of the 2017 Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the Government by the Minister for Finance (MoF), Mr. Ken Ofori-Atta in accordance with article 179 of the 1992 Constitution and Order 140 (2) of the Standing Orders of the House. The Committee met with Hon Isaac Asiamah, the Minister for Youth and Sports, and his technical team as well as officers from the Ministry of Finance, to consider the estimates, and reports as follows: Reference documents i. The 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana; ii. The Standing Orders of the House; iii. The Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the Govern- ment of Ghana for the 2017 Financial Year; iv. The Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the Govern- ment of Ghana for the 2016 Financial Year; v. Report of the Ministry of Youth and Sports on the actual releases and expenditure of the Ministry for the 2016 financial year. Vision and mission of the ministry The Ministry of Youth and Sports is mandated to develop the capacity of the youth and integrate them in national development, while ensuring that the nation's values and aspirations are inculcated in them. Additionally, the Ministry is to ensure that Sports is used as a tool for national cohesion, the expression of national pride, and also serves as a platform for healthy living. The Ministry operates under the Civil Service Law, PNDCL 327 of 1993. The vision of the Ministry is to be a first-class Ministry imbued with innovative policies and programmes along with an empowered youth and sports development. Its mission is to create an enabling environment for effective youth and sports development and promotion through policy formulation and implementation, co-ordination, monitoring and evaluation for national and international integration.
In a bid to facilitate nationwide involvement of the citizenry in the implementation of the National Youth Policy and also consolidate youth developmental initiatives by Government, the Authority with support from the Palladium Group was able to convene a National Youth Policy Oversight Committee Meeting to discuss overall developments and challenges in the youth sector. The National Youth Authority implemented the out-of-school component of the Ghana Adolescent Reproductive Health (GHARH) project which was funded by the DFID under the coordination of the National Population Council. The project is intended to provide counselling services in reproductive health to the youth. The National Youth Authority also provided Peer and Reproductive Health Education dubbed Prevention of Sexually Transmitted Diseases and Infections including HIV and AIDS in collaboration with the UNFPA. This was done in the Central, Volta, Brong-Ahafo, Upper East, Upper West and Northern Regions. The National Youth Authority marked the International Youth Day with a rally on August 12, 2016 at the Jackson Park, Koforidua in the Eastern Region, with funding from UNFPA and Marie Stoppes International. The day is marked to create awareness on youth development initiatives. In the area of Vocational/Skills Training, the National Youth Authority provided training for 1,430 youth in the 11 Youth Leadership and Skills Training Institutes, out of which 200 youth wrote the TVET Certificate l (NVTI). c. Sports development In the area of Sports Development, the following were achieved in 2016: The Ministry, through the Public Investments Division of the Ministry of Finance, started pursuing a Public Private Partnership (PPP) investment arrangement to expand and transform the National Sports College into a Centre of Excellence. A transaction advisor had been engaged and both the pre- feasibility and feasibility studies have been submitted for considera- tion. Stakeholder consultations on the feasibility studies report have been held with the ministry, World Bank, sports associations, media and the local stakeholders at Winneba. Under the arrangement, the following infrastructure will be provided at the College: Hostel and other hospitality facilities; New classroom blocks; Gym and Sports Hall; Playing fields and Tennis Courts; Accommodation facilities for staff; and An Olympic-size swimming pool. The National Sports Authority, under a Public Private Partnership arrangement is also in the process of engaging a transaction advisor to rehabilitate four of our National Sports Stadia located in Accra, Kumasi, Tamale, Essipong, Ho, Kpando, Cape Coast and the Kaneshie sports complex. The Ghana Athletics Association participated in various international competitions and championships in its quest to enhance athletes' performance and qualification to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. The Association won five medals - 1 Gold, 3 Silver and 1 Bronze in the African Athletics Championship in Durban, South Africa. In addition to this, the Association organised five Circuit championship and five National Open Championships in 2016. There were also two international competitions in Cape Coast involving Togo, Benin and Burkina Faso. National Badminton Championships were organised in Tema from 26th to 31st July 2016 aimed at technically assessing the standard of the players and hunting for new talents. Twenty new players were identified for further development. The Senior Badminton Team participated in international competitions and won 4 medals (1 silver and 3 bronze) in the Mauritius International Championships. They also won 1 bronze medal in the Thomas and Uber Cup Africa Preliminaries in Mauritius from 11th to 21st February 2016. The Ghana Amateur Boxing Federation successfully organised a national championship for the youth to enhance development and promotion of the sport in the country. Executives of the Federation attended AIBA Congress in June in Switzerland. The Boxing Association also participated in the following international competi- tions with successes: Africa Championship in Morocco with four medals, AIBA Youth Championship - Czech Republic - 1 bronze medal, Olympic Games qualifier in Yaounde, Cameroun - 2 bronze medals and With Para Sports, Para-athletes participated in the following international competitions as part of efforts to qualify for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games: International Para-Powerlifting Championship in Dubai, UAE, from 14th to 19th February, 2016 - Ghana obtained a slot to Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. Para-athletics Swiss International Championship in Notwil, Switzerland, in May 2016 - three Ghanaian athletes, Botsyo Nkegbe, Patrick Obeng and Felix Acheampong, improved on their time standards. Ghana hosted the West Africa deaf football in Kumasi and lifted the cup at the end of the tournament with representation from Togo, Niger and Mali.
Hon Member, we want your views. We know what we are doing, so you should present your views, otherwise, each person would quote the amount, and it would not help us. Hon Member, you should just go on. What is your view?
Mr Speaker, I would refer you to page 10 of the Committee's Report, more especially, table 5, where we have some allocations per cost centre. In that, there has been an allocation of about GH¢1,076,131 as Internally Generated Fund (IGF) to the Ministry. Mr Speaker, we all understand and appreciate what is going on, per the capping of this IGF. We are already aware of the challenges facing the Ministry in delivering on their mandate. I guess we do not know how they would be able to achieve their targets as set out in their programme this year, if that is actually carried out. Mr Speaker, I would urge us again, even though there are a lot before us that we are looking at and implementing, we should look at item 8.0 in the Report, sub item 3 under non- financial performance, particularly, sub item A, under manage- ment and administration.
“The National Youth Scheme Bill, which gives the necessary legal backing to the youth development efforts was laid before this august House and subsequently passed into law;” Mr Speaker, same applies to the National Sports Bill, which came before us and was passed into law. If we look at those specific laws, there are provisions in there, that have some bearing on their activities every year. There are some mandatory activities that ought to be carried out by the Ministry or those respective agencies. Mr Speaker, if we look at that of the Youth Act, 2016, under the functions, there is a provision there which reads that in collaboration with the Ghana Youth Federation, the youth authority should organise annual youth conferences at the national, regional and district levels. We looked at all the estimates, but we have not seen any provisions in there, so far as this major and important activity is concerned. So that is something we want to bring to the fore for the Hon Minister to look at. Mr Speaker, again, with regard to sports, there is a provision where the National Sports Authority is expected to assist in the organisation of regional sports festivals once every year. That is also a very important activity, because, we all appreciate the fact that it is at such events that we unearth talents, and are able to get people and nurture them. They become the best that represent the country in international tournaments. So, it is important that this is really given a place in the Budget in terms of allocation of resources so as to ensure that, that is done. I am aware that in the Budget Estimates what the Ministry presented to us, if we look at paragraph 9.0, sub paragraph (iii) which reads; “Sports Development”, there is a portion, I believe it is the fourth paragraph which reads that; “the Ministry intends to organise countrywide sports programmes”. I do not know whether that is in accordance with the law. So if that is what it is, then we should see equally some allocations given to these events which would be undertaken in the course of the year at the various regions. Mr Speaker, with reference to paragraph 9.0 again, there was a mention of the Ministry spending more than what was allocated to them. It has been seen over the period, and I foresee this happening simply because of the numerous programmes they would undertake and the support for the national teams to participate in international activities. Mr Speaker, if we are able to know those figures —
Hon Member, begin to wind up.
So that we can still capture them in the Budget and know the exact amount. In that case, we would be able to appreciate the allocation. Mr Speaker, I also share in the sentiments made by the Hon Chairman that it is woefully inadequate. When the Ministry is actually looking for GH¢100,000,000.00, to undertake its activities over the year, they ended up being given a meagre amount of GH¢46,910,275. Definitely, I foresee that in the course of the year, they would run to the Ministry of Finance to request for funds, and at the end, when we are looking at their performance for next year, we would be seeing an overrun Budget and that would surely be an issue that —
Thank you very much Hon Member.
Mr Speaker, I thank you very much for the opportunity.
Thank you very much Mr Speaker, for the opportunity. I want to comment briefly on the Report of the Committee on Youth, Sports and Culture. Mr Speaker, I am looking at sports development which has been captured here and under it one of the things that is our shortcoming as a nation, so far as sports development is concerned, is about inadequate facilities that we have. So it is refreshing to note that in this Estimates, the Ministry is looking at partnering with some private individuals to get hostels and hospitality facilities, classroom blocks and all those facilities to help enhance the development of sports. If we are able to get these facilities in places, it would go a long way to increase or help our performance as far as some disciplines which we normally do not recognise are concerned. Mr Speaker, we know that the attention has always been on football. It is refreshing to note that we have staff that would bring out badminton, swimming, athletics and all those other disciplines that are not known so far as the Ministry of Youth and Sports is concerned. Mr Speaker, with these few words, I support that the Estimates be approved. Thank you so much.
One Hon Member on this side of the House if possible. Ras Mubarak (NDC -- Kumbungu): Thank you very much Mr Speaker. In contributing to the Motion, I would like to draw attention to a couple of issues in the Report. If we look at the 2017 Budget for the Youth Authority and compare that with 2017 Budget line item, Compensation, we would realise that there is an increment in the figure. But if we look at the item on Assets, we would realise that there has been no allocation. Now, for 2015, the same thing happened and it is going to happen again in 2017, and that is a bit worrying. It is worrying because if we employ people and we do not give them the tools with which to work, we basically would be paying people to push papers. If we want to demonstrate our seriousness in youth development, we need to take a second look at the issue of Assets for the Youth Authority. Again, under the National Youth Authority, there are Youth Leadership and Skills Training Institutes dotted across the country. Now, some of these institutes are in very deplorable states; they need renovation and refurbishment. So if we do not make allocation for Assets, we would realise that the problems that have bedevilled the National Youth Authority would continue to be there. Mr Speaker, I would want to draw the attention of the Hon Minister, who fortunately is in the House, and the Committee to take a second look at allocating some amount of money in the area of Assets to the National Youth Authority. Mr Speaker, again, one of the challenges for the agencies under the Ministry of Youth Sports has been the non-release of funds or delayed disbursement of funds to the agencies under the Ministry, and this, over the years, have really crippled the activities of the Sports Authority, the National Youth Authority and so on. So we have seen instances where for whole year -- and this has happened under successive governments, where we would have only one quarter funds released to an agency that has the mandate to facilitate youth development. So these are very challenging, and I hope that the Hon Minister would take a second look at some of these challenges and would get the support of the Hon Minister responsible for Finance to help them with the challenges. Finally, Mr Speaker, football is the passion of the nation, and indeed, we take great pride whenever the national teams are playing. But over the years, we have seen some amount of dwindling fortunes in respect of the performance, for instance, of the senior national football team. I am wondering what justification we have for the allocations that we are making to the Ministry in respect of sports if they have nothing to show for the moneys that we are giving them. We would be excited along the way to see the Ministry justify some of these allocations to the Ministry of Youth and Sports. This is because largely, the argument from the Ministry of Finance has been that, they have been giving them money yet they do not see anything in return for the resources that they give them. So the Hon Minister should endeavour to justify the moneys that they allocate to the senior national team. If they give them money, they should see some medals, if they give them moneys, they should see some medals and cups. Finally, Mr Speaker, if we look at the Azumah Nelson Sports Complex, it needs some rehabilitation. I am of the view that it could serve multiple purposes. We can refurbish it to the extent that the Senior National Team could even undertake some of their trainings there. Hon Minister, kindly add it to your to-do list. In the Report, there is no allocation for IGF, but I know for a fact that if we look at the National Youth Authority for instance, they make money. So the Hon Minister in his submission, could explain to us why in 2016, IGF under the National Youth Authority has not been captured in the Report even though they collected some. For 2017, IGF has not been captured even though they would make some money. Old Fadama also known as Agbogbloshie, is a property that belongs
I just want to draw Hon Mubarak's attention to the fact that IGF has been captured in the 2017 Budget Estimates. On page 10 of the Committee's Report, table number 5, IGF is clearly stated there. So he should look at it because he is misinforming the House.
Mr Speaker, I am afraid that cannot be correct. He is referring to the National Sports Authority. I was referring to the National Youth Authority. If we look at the Report, it is blank.
Thank you. Then I would put the Question. Question put and Motion agreed to. Resolved: That this honourable House approves the sum of GH¢46,910,275 for the services of the Ministry of Youth and Sports for the year ending 31st December 2017.
Could we move on to item numbered 12?
Mr Speaker, we would take item numbered 12. We would like to ask permission, the Hon Attorney-General and Minister for Justice is not here --
Hon Member, with regard to items numbered 9, 10, 11, 12 onwards, any of these that may be available, kindly let us call them and approve for the Hon Ministers to take leave and do other things where necessary.
Mr Speaker, none of the above mentioned reports is ready, but we would like to take the Ministry of Justice and Attorney-General's Department. We would like to seek your permission for the Hon Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation to do it on her behalf.
Item numbered 12? Hon Learned Attorney-General?
The Hon Attorney- General and Minister for Justice has been called to a National Security Meeting on an emergency. She has asked me to do it on her behalf.
You may do so. ANNUAL ESTIMATES, 2017 Ministry of Justice and Attorney- General's Department Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation (Dr Anthony A. Osei on behalf of the Minister for Justice and Attorney- General): Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that this Honourable House approves the sum of GH¢90,728,106 for the services of the Ministry of Justice and Attorney- General's Department for the year ending 31st December 2017. Question proposed.
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion and in so doing, I wish to present your Committee's Report. Introduction The Budget Statement and Economic Policy of Government for the 2017 financial year was presented to Parliament on Thursday, 2nd March, 2017 by the Hon Minister for Finance, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta in accordance with article 179 (1) of the Constitution. Pursuant to article 103 (1) and (3) of the Constitution and Standing Orders 140 (4) and 179 of the Standing Orders of the House, the 2017 Annual Budget Estimates of the Ministry of Justice and Attorney- General's Department were referred to the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs for consideration and report. Deliberations The Committee met with the Hon Minister for Justice and Attorney-General, Ms Gloria Akuffo and officials from the Ministry to consider the Estimates. Schedule Officers of the Ministry of Finance were in attendance to assist the Committee in the deliberations. Reference documents The Committee referred to the under- listed documents during its deliberations: i. The 1992 Constitution; ii. The Standing Orders of Parliament; iii. The Annual Budget Estimates of the Ministry of Justice and Attorney- General's Department for the 2016 Financial Year; iv. The Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the Government for the 2017 Financial Year. Departments and agencies under the Ministry of Justice and Attorney- General's Department The Ministry consists of the following Departments and Agencies: i. Attorney-General's Department (Legal Service); ii. Registrar-General's Department; iii. Law Reform Commission;
Inadequate goods and services vote The Committee observed that the amount allocated to the Ministry of Justice and Attorney-General's Department for Goods and Services for the year 2017 is woefully inadequate. The Committee was informed that while the Ministry requested for GH¢39,009,454.00, a meagre amount of GH¢12,838,546.00 representing 22 per cent of its request has been allocated to it. According to the Minister, this allocation will have serious ramifications on its activities for the year, given that, electricity bills and fuel for its Head Office alone will amount to GH¢984,000.00. It was disclosed that, the allocation is not adequate to cater for even the administrative expenses of the Headquarters alone. The regional and district offices of the Ministry and its agencies are likely to face serious logistical and administrative challenges in the budget year. The Committee therefore, appeals to the Ministry of Finance to consider increasing the Goods and Services allocation of the Ministry to enable it perform its functions effectively. Payment of subscription fees to international organisations The Ministry informed the Committee that, due to inadequate funding, the Ministry usually defaults in the payment of subscriptions for its affiliation to international organisations such as the Asian-African Legal Consultative Organisation (AALCO), International Association of Prosecutors (IAP) and the International Criminal Court (ICC) to mention a few. The default denies the country the enjoyment of certain rights and benefits. Due to the dynamic nature of laws, affiliation, to such international organisations equip its Members with requisite skills and techniques to maneuver in the modern global legal terrain. The Minister informed the Committee of the embarrassing instances where delegates from Ghana, who manage to obtain sponsorship to participate in such fora have been reduced to mere observers, for the fact that, they are not in good standing with regard to the payment of subscription fees. She mentioned that, the situation will further worsen with the substantial reduction in the budgetary request of the Ministry for the year 2017. The Committee accordingly urges the Ministry of Finance to provide extra funds to the Ministry to meet such critical commitments to avert further national embarrassment and to restore Ghana's impeccable feats at the international level. Possible ramifications of the capping policy on the work of the registrar- general's department The Committee notes with concern, the practical problems that the capping policy of the Government will have on the work of the Registrar-General's Department. The Department utilises its Internally Generated Funds (IGF) to undertake its critical activities and programmes over the years and sometimes go to the rescue of the entire Ministry. In 2016, among its many achievements, the Department was able to generate over fifty-seven million Ghana cedis (GH¢57,000,000.00) for Government, through the introduction of some innovative practices and programmes. For the 2017 budget year, it has projected to generate about seventy million Ghana cedis (GH¢70,000,000.00) mainly through the execution of its businesses re-registration programme and to continue the implementation of the new penalty regime on entities which default in re-registration and filing of returns. This, according to the Department, has proven to be very effective since its introduction. This will demand funds for rigorous nation-wide sensitization and enforcement campaigns. It is in this vein that, the Department made a budgetary request of twenty-three million, six hundred and twenty-nine thousand, eight hundred Ghana cedis (GH¢23,629,800.00), however, due to the capping policy, a paltry amount of seven million, nine hundred and fifty-eight thousand, six hundred and three Ghana cedis (GH¢7,958,603.00) representing 33 per cent has been allocated to it in the Budget. The Committee is of the view that, this will derail the programmes and projections of the Department for the year, thereby affecting Government revenue projections as a result. Given that, the capping policy is supposed to free funds for priority sectors of the economy, the Committee is recommending to the Ministry of Finance to consider increasing the allocation of the Registrar General's Department to ensure it meets its projections for the year. The Registrar- General is also advised to engage the Ministry of Finance for consideration in the discretionary expenditure vote. Formalisation of IGF for the EOCO The Committee observed that EOCO has demonstrated the capacity to generate enough IGF to support its operations. However, the retention of parts of recoveries has not been formalised like that of the Registrar General's and similar agencies. The Committee therefore urges the Minister to engage the Ministry of Finance to formalise EOCO's IGF retention process. Resourcing the legal aid scheme The Committee noted the challenges that continue to plague the Legal Aid Scheme in the discharge of its statutory functions. The Scheme is enjoined by law to operate at the national and regional levels. But the Scheme currently has no such offices. Owing to its financial challenges, the Scheme currently has only twenty-one (21) lawyers and forty (40) ADR Personnel who provide legal services to the poor and the vulnerable across the entire country. Additionally, the Scheme has only two operational vehicles. The Committee therefore urges the Ministry of Finance to fully resource the Scheme, to employ more lawyers, acquire office space and vehicles for field assignments. Financial arrangement for the proposed office of the special prosecutor In respect of the proposed Office of the Special Prosecutor, the Hon Minister for Justice and Attorney-General indicated that the estimates for the proposed Office was factored into the request sent to the Ministry of Finance, however the Ministry of Finance did not make any allocation for that purpose. The Minister informed the Members that, the Ministry is currently considering offers outside the Government of Ghana funding to cater for the expenses of the Office when established. Conclusion and recommendation The Committee acknowledges the critical challenges that the Ministry continue to contend with in the discharge of their functions. Some of these critical challenges include inadequate office accommodation, poor working conditions, and logistical constraints.
Mr Speaker, I am most grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the Motion on the floor of the House. Mr Speaker, I would want to make few comments on a very important and critical national institution whose act was premised on article 294 of the Constitution of the Republic of Ghana and that is the Legal Aid Scheme. Mr Speaker, the Legal Aid Scheme, undoubtedly, is Ghana's effort to ensure that constitutional democracy, rule of law and importantly access to justice delivery to the poor and the vulnerable in our communities are taken care of. Mr Speaker, the poor and vulnerable people in Daboya/Mankarigu, in Dome/ Kwabenya which Mr Speaker once ably led as the Hon Member of Parliament, and in Tafo, I expect that, but for the Legal Aid Scheme, they would not be able to access the formal justice delivery system. The critical role that the Legal Aid Scheme offers to the poor and vulnerable cannot be over emphasised. Mr Speaker, as a practitioner, I had to do some few pro bono and also refer many of them to the Legal Aid Scheme where most of them were successful. Mr Speaker, the Legal Aid Scheme has many problems, but the key one is, they have only 21 lawyers in the entire country. What that means is that on the average, a region has less than two lawyers. Mr Speaker, the Director of the Legal Aid Scheme said that he needed GH¢8 million to be able to employ more lawyers, so that access to justice delivery can get to the poor and vulnerable in our communities. I would want to urge the Hon Minister to realign the GH¢90 million and make sure that a chunk of it would go to the Legal Aid Scheme. It was no mistake that the Constitution contemplated that there would be a chunk of us who would be unable to access formal justice system. So, the realignment should work for the poor and vulnerable. The GH¢90 million should be realigned so that a chunk of it would be given to the Legal Aid Scheme so that they would be able to employ more lawyers. Mr Speaker, they have only two vehicles and so Goods and Services would have to be looked at, so that constitutional democracy and access to justice would get to the vulnerable and the poor in the rural communities. Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity. Mr Yaw Buaben Asamoa (NPP - Adentan) Mr Speaker, I rise to support the Motion on the floor of the House. Mr Speaker, given the Hon Attorney- General and Minister for Justice's very honourius duties, one would have thought that we could have managed to do a bit more, especially in terms of Capital Expenditure (CAPEX) for the completion of the law office. Mr Speaker, our society is founded on law and this very House is a House of law. The Constitution which we all refer to is a document that mentioned the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice and sought to make the Attorney -General and Minister for Justice the one who helps to maintain and uphold the rule of law. Mr Speaker, this is a society where we have approached near impunity - foot soldiers, politicians, land guard, drivers - virtually everybody appears to want to self-help against the general norms that would make all of us comfortable. Mr Speaker, one would want an Attorney-General and Minister for Justice who can sally forth from an office in splendor and protect our Constitution and our democracy. The Attorney-General and Minister for Justice does not have an office from which to sally forth in protection of our right and in building a society that respects the law. Mr Speaker, impunity must at all cost be avoided in this society, and that is why I believe that we have to try and finish the law office, although I concede that this year's budgetary allocation is 20 per cent better than last year's which is a marked improvement. Mr Speaker, in order to build a true society that respects the rules, regulations, law and order, we must be prepared to build up the office of the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice as the primary basic institution - the building block of this society of ours. The least they deserve is an office. We now have an eight storey-shelve and it has been standing as a shelve for several years. It was said in the Committee's Report and I believe that the Hansard Department has captured it. It would be heartwarming to see that building completed so that the Office of Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, including all the other offices under it - the Law Reform Commission, the Council for Law Reporting and the Legal Aid Scheme - they all suffer the same debilitating logistical challenges. Mr Speaker, for emphasis, I would want to repeat that a society that is based on the rule of law must have a budget that would enable it to discharge its duties to our society. Mr Speaker, with these few words, I support the budgetary allocation that has been made.
Yes, Hon Deputy Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, the Hon Member made a statement which was factually incorrect and I would want to place the record straight.
Yes, Hon Dr Akoto Osei?
Mr Speaker, I have a point of information. My Hon Colleague referred to the proposed budget and not the actual outturn and so his statement was correct. What the Hon Deputy Minority Leader also said was correct, but if he would quote the Hon Member, he should quote him correctly. The Hon Member used the word “proposed” and it is a matter of opinion.
Mr Speaker, I am surprised the distinguished Hon Deputy Minority Leader tried to think for me and wanted to make my arguments for me.
Hon Member, you are out of order. Hon Members, any further contribu- tions?
Mr Speaker, I rise to associate myself with the Motion. Mr Speaker, we appreciate the effort of the General Legal Council for increasing the quota, the number of students that are admitted yearly from 250 to 477. Mr Speaker, I believe the number of students or the subject of study each year should not be the preserve of only the privileged. So, if quite a number of students who are more than 477 would want to be admitted into the Ghana Law School -- Mr Speaker, due to inadequate infrastructure and lack of resources, these students are not able to get the opportunity to enter the Ghana Law School. That is quite painful.
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity. I rise to contribute to the Motion to approve the Budget Estimate for the Ministry of Justice and the Attorney-General's Department. Mr Speaker, we all know the importance that the Attorney-General's Department plays in our legal system. However, clearly, from the Report, the provision that has been made for the Attorney-General's Department in respect of Goods and Services is not one that would enable them to perform their functions effectively in this financial year. Mr Speaker, with your permission, if I may read paragraph 10.4 of the Report, and I beg to quote: “The Committee observed that the amount allocated to the Ministry of Justice and Attorney-General's Department for Goods and Services for the year 2017 is woefully inadequate. The Committee was informed that while the Ministry requested for GH¢39,009,454.00, a meagre amount of GH¢12,838,546.00 (representing 22 per cent of its request) has been allocated to it.” Mr Speaker, clearly, this would not place the Attorney-General's Department in a position to effectively deliver on its services. So, we would plead that the Hon Minister for Finance should take a critical look at this and make adequate provisions to the Ministry to enable them deliver on their mandate.
Any comments from Leadership? Otherwise, Hon Minister, you may wind up.
Mr Speaker, firstly, I would want to thank all Hon Colleagues for their contribution. I noticed all of them were lawyers. I am the only non-lawyer to make this contribution. But this is about the budget not about law — [Laughter.] Mr Speaker, the Attorney-General, we all know, by article 88 is the only Minister that is explicitly identified in our Constitution. There is a reason for that. As my good friend here said; this is a country of rule of law. And so the framers of the Constitution realised that for us to do that well, we must recognise such a person in the Constitution. In fact, after the President appoints the Attorney-General, she is the only one, not even the President can delegate their functions. Such a powerful institution and yet we do not fully recognise it when it comes to allocation of budget. That is unfortunate. Mr Speaker, I travel with several Attorney-Generals and the State Attorneys on foreign missions, and it is pathetic the allowances they get, especially if we look at the volume of work that they have to do — Just for emphasis, if we look at page 5, paragraph 7.0 and we read what they had to do last year — even for this House, they helped to draft 60 bills and 99 subsidiary legislations and 148 executive instruments. Mr Speaker, every time a parliamentary committee has to draft a bill, the requirement is that, there should be a representative of the Attorney-General there. But they are not there most of the time. The reason is that they do not have enough staff. In certain parts of this country, there are only two State Attorneys for the entire region. Is it a surprise that cases always get delayed? Mr Speaker, this country needs to take this matter of the Attorney-General's (AGs) Office seriously. Mr Speaker, on the matter of the court house, if we go and see what the Judicial Service has done and the AG's Office is supposed to match them — How can they match them? But fortunately, even though money was given to them, it was locked up. This is because, as we are aware, it is the only Ministry that when there is a garnishee, they are involved, so this GH¢16 million was garnisheed for a long time. Thankfully, the garnishee has been removed, so very soon, that edifice would begin to come up. Mr Speaker, I believe that all of us, especially this House, should begin to take the work of the Attorney-General seriously. But my only problem is that, every Committee in their Report, including this one always says this, and I beg to quote:
“The Committee therefore appeals to the Ministry of Finance to consider increasing the Goods and Services allocations of the Ministry to enable it perform its functions effectively.” Mr Speaker, Hon Members should know that the Committee cannot ask the Minister to do that. He does not have the authority. Mr Speaker, I would want to refer Hon Members to article 179(11) on who has the authority and I beg to quote: “Whenever in the estimates prepared in accordance with clauses (1) and (8) of this article provision is made for an item or vote other than for the Contingency Fund, not relating to a specific item of expenditure, any moneys voted by Parliament in respect of that item or vote shall be under the control and supervision of a Committee which shall consist of the President, the Speaker and the Chairman of the Council of State.” Mr Speaker, I say this because every Committee makes that mistake.
Hon Members, there is a clear distinction between the stage of presentation of report and the concluding remarks. Hon Minister, you may continue.
Mr Speaker, as the representative of the Attorney-General, I want to remind us of that constitutional imperative, that we cannot go to the Hon Minister for Finance and ask him for more money. They should come to the Committee of which you are a member. It is clearly stated in article 179(11). So, the Committees should stop saying that the Minister for Finance should do that. As the representative of the Attorney- General, I cannot stand here and allow Parliamentary Committees to violate the Constitution. Mr Speaker, with those few words, I thank you.
Thank you very much Hon Minister. Question put and Motion agreed to. Resolved: That this honourable House approves the sum of GH¢90,728,106 for the services of the Ministry of Justice and Attorney-General's Department for the year ending 31st December, 2017.
Mr Speaker, we would want to take item numbered 13. Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister for Health is not here and we would beg that you allow the Hon Minister for Youth and Sports to move the Motion on his behalf.
Mr Speaker, yea, I believe the Hon Member is making an application to you.
Hon Member, yea is not parliamentary language.
Very well, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, my Hon Colleague, the Hon First Deputy Majority Whip has made an application that we should move item numbered 13 -- Motion on the budget Estimates for Ministry of Health. His application is that the Hon Minister for Health is not here, and that if you would allow for the Hon Minister for Youth and Sports to move the Motion on behalf of the Minister for Health. Mr Speaker, I just want to know -- where is the Minister for Health? This is a very important Motion -- Budget Estimates for the Ministry for Health. So, we would need the Hon Minister for Health to be here to move this Motion. In his absence, we would need to know where the Hon Minister for Health is because we are talking about an Estimate of over GH¢4 billion. Therefore, the Hon Member must let this side of the House know the whereabouts of the Hon Minister for Health. Mr Speaker, if the Hon Minister for Health is not here, we have so many Motions to move; where are the Hon Ministers to do the business for government? He would need to tell us.
Hon First Deputy Majority Whip?
Mr Speaker, I agree and associate with the Hon First Deputy Minority Whip expressing his sentiments. Mr Speaker, I also agree that health is very important, and the Ministry of Health is a very big one. The Hon Minister for Health should have been here personally to move the Motion. Unfortunately, he is not around. We are working hard to get the Hon Minister. Mr Speaker, but since the Hon Minister for Youth and Sports is equal to the task, we would want to appeal to Hon Colleagues from the Minority Side to try and grant us --
Hon Member, you appeal to me as the Rt Hon Speaker; I give the ruling.
Mr Speaker, I strongly appeal to you to let the Hon Minister for Youth and Sports move this Motion on behalf of the Hon Minister for Health. Thank you.
Hon Members, where an Hon Minister is to answer a Question, he or she must mandatorily make a presence or his deputy may be allowed to answer. Even that is “may be”. Where an Hon Minister is only in the process of asking for this manner of approval, an Hon Colleague Minister by the usual procedure in this honourable House may do so. Hon Minister for Youth and Sports, you do so on behalf of your Colleague Hon Minister. Motion 13 -- ANNUAL ESTIMATES, 2017 Ministry of Health Minister for Youth and Sports (Mr Isaac Kwame Asiamah) (on behalf of the
Mr Speaker, thank you. Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that this honourable House approves the sum of GH¢4,226,152,354 for the services of the Ministry of Health for the year ending 31st December, 2017. Question proposed.
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion, and in so doing present the Committee's Report.
The breakdown of the releases is shown in Table 1 as follows: Table 1: Economic Classification of 2016 Approved Budget Estimates and Actual Releases as at the end of December 2016
Observations made on Regulatory Agencies Inadequate funding, inadequate staff and inadequate logistics The Committee observed that most of the regulatory agencies under the Ministry of Health could not meet their revenue targets in 2016 mainly because of inadequate funding, inadequate staff and inadequate logistics. The total revenue targets of all the regulatory agencies in 2016, amounted to GH¢115,902,000; but GH¢77,077,000 constituting 66.5 per cent was realised. With a total staff strength of about 83 and with 2 pharmacists in each of the ten Regions to monitor about 10,000 over-the- counter medicine practitioners and huge number of pharmacists across the country, the Pharmacy Council was able to realise an amount of GH¢4,549,000 (63.6%) as against its target of GH¢7,155,000, leaving a shortfall of GH¢2,606,000. Staff of the Council include people on contract who are paid with some of the revenue it generates and this is estimated to be about GH¢1,217,783. Payment of this amount is however going to be difficult for the Council because it would now be required to retain 66 per cent of the funds it generates instead of 100 per cent previously, due to the rationalisation and harmonisation of Internally Generated Funds (IGF) by the capping policy. The reduction in the IGF retention rate applies to all the agencies under the Ministry. The Committee also observed that the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), which has inadequate staff to undertake its activities including nationwide product monitoring and surveillance activities, also has had to grapple with high cost of enforcement and high cost of reagents and equipment for its laboratory. The FDA would even be required to retain a lower rate of 33 per cent instead of its previous 50 per cent of its IGF. The Ghana College of Pharmacists also has only 5 staff and all are on secondment. The College sought the assistance of the Public Services Commission as regard its staffing issue and therefore budgeted for recruitment in 2016. Unfortunately, it had no financial clearance and so the matter is still being pursued. The Committee anticipates that the reduction in the IGF retention rate will have adverse impact on regulatory agencies like the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) and the Medical and Dental Council that conduct examinations and engage examiners, since the chunk of their revenue is obtained from the registration fees they collect. The NMC which has inadequate vehicles for supervision has not received anything for Goods and Services and Assets for the past 5 years. The NMC, unlike the other regulatory agencies, was fortunate to receive financial clearance for the recruitment of 58 new staff including its Deputy Registrar for operations but still has inadequate staff at the top management level. The Ghana Psychological Council has only 2 staff, with one on National Service, instead of its requisite number of 41. The Council budgeted for an amount of GH¢844,000 for compensation from GoG to enable it recruit more staff but it got nothing. The story remains the same every year. The Traditional Medicine Practice Council (TMPC) has since its establishment in 2000, received financial clearance to employ only 12 staff. The Council in the circumstance, largely operates with contract staff paid from its IGF. The Council has no vehicle for monitoring and no funds for the review of the essential traditional medicine list. Office accommodation challenges The Committee also observed that most of the regulatory agencies had office accommodation challenges. The Medical and Dental Council is a prime example with the heavy traffic and the inconveniences that one has to go through before getting into its building. According to the Council, this phenomenon is affecting the patronage of their services. The Traditional Medicine Practice Council currently occupies 3 rooms at the Ministry of Health Headquarters and has also been allocated 5 offices at the old Nursing and Midwifery Council Building at the Seashore. Unfortunately however, the Committee was informed that the old site at the shore has been earmarked for demolishing to pave way for a tourism project soon to begin. The Mental Health Authority has office accommodation problems and relies heavily on DFID funding which does not support its operational needs. The Authority also needs financial clearance for recruitment. Non-existence of legislative instrument for the health professions regulatory bodies act, 2013 (Act 857) and other laws The Committee observed that there is no Legislative Instrument to allow for the full implementation of the Health Professions Regulatory Bodies Act, 2013, (Act 857) to enable the regulatory bodies discharge their mandate effectively. The non-existence of the Traditional and Alternative Medicine Bill did not also enable the Traditional Medicine Practice Council to fully discharge its mandate. Observations made on subvented agencies Inadequate funding, inadequate staff and inadequate logistics The Committee observed that the subvented agencies which also had funding, staffing and logistical challenges will not be spared by the capping policy. The Centre for Scientific Research into Plant Medicine, which had no allocation for Goods and Services from GoG, will be required to retain only 34 per cent of the revenue it generates and this will impact adversely on its research activities. Staff at the Centre, particularly those with PhDs, leave for greener pastures elsewhere and for this reason, there is the need to replace them. However, for almost five years, the Centre has not hired staff as to make up for those who leave and this is a major problem. It was therefore gratifying to note that, though the Centre requested for an amount of GH¢6,227,820 for Employee Compensation from GoG, it has been allocated an amount of GH¢10,253,247 which is GH¢4,025,427 more. The Centre can therefore take advantage of the increment to hire workers. The Centre also lacks essential and basic modern equipment such as spectrophotometers and microscopes. The Vice Rector position of the Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons is vacant and the College has only 17 full time staff with 7 on secondment and 4 on contract. The Ghana College of Nurses and Midwives also needs more highly skilled specialist nurses and midwives to assist in the delivering of its curricula. The Ghana College of Nurses and Midwives also had no allocation for Goods and Services from GoG. The fleet of cars for the National Ambulance Service are inadequate, they are over-aged and breakdown frequently. The Service also lacks utility vehicles for monitoring and performing other official activities. Office accommodation challenges The Committee further observed that most of the subvented agencies had office accommodation challenges just like the regulatory agencies. The Centre for Plant Medicine Research has not had any building of its own since its establishment and as a result, its research laboratories are in makeshift structures. The Ghana College of Pharmacists has no permanent office and operates in a rented accommodation. Due to lack of funds, the college was unable to pay its rent when it expired in 2015. For this reason, in February 2017, it was asked to vacate the premises. The College now operates from a structure opposite the one it vacated from. The National Ambulance Service Training School also has accommodation problems. The Ghana College of Nurses and Midwives is in dire need of a permanent site. Where it operates currently is rented and the building is not even spacious to accommodate new staff, should they be given financial clearance to recruit. The College also fears losing its Annex at the old premises of the Nursing and Midwifery Council to the incoming tourist investor. Observations made on Teaching Hospitals Inadequate funding, inadequate specialised staff and inadequate logistics The Committee observed that all the teaching hospitals have challenges relating to funding, specialised staffing and logistics. The Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital has inadequate clinical staff, particularly, specialised nurses and the Tamale Teaching Hospital has inadequate medical doctors, particularly in the sub- specialty areas. The Committee was informed that the problem of funding of the hospitals was partly due to delay in the payment of claims by the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA), unrealistic NHIS tarrifs and revenue losses due to the use of manual processes in their billing system. The Committee noted that, the NHIA had not settled its financial obligation (GH¢11 m) to Korle-Bu for about 10 months and for this reason, the Hospital was surviving on suppliers credit. Also, the Authority as at March, 2017, owed the Cape Coast Teaching Hospital an amount of GH¢1,129,367.86. The total indebtedness of the NHIA to service providers in respect of claims as at the end of December, 2016 was GH¢844 million. The Authority however, explained that the non-settlement of its financial obligation was partly because an amount of GH¢755.18 million owed by Government in 2016, had not been paid. The GH¢755.18 million represents the difference between GH¢1,497.28 billion which is the Budget Allocation of the Authority from GoG in 2016 and an amount of GH¢742.1 million that it actually received for the period. Shortage of clinical oxygen, outmoded structures, inadequate equipment and outmoded equipment The Committee also observed that all the 3 Teaching Hospitals - Korle-Bu, Komfo Anokye and Cape Coast - experience frequent shortages in clinical oxygen and have inadequate and outmoded structures and inadequate equipment including oxygen plants, power generators and laundry machines. Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital is now trying to procure smaller satellite clinical oxygen apparatus instead of the big ones to contend with the situation. The Tamale Teaching Hospital does not have a clinical oxygen plant and so has for some time now been buying its clinical oxygen from Kumasi at a very high cost. There is congestion, especially at the maternity and accident wards of Korle-Bu and maternity and children's wards of Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospitals. The Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital has old structures and equipment and old sewage systems while the Tamale Teaching Hospital has inadequate essential equipment at some of its Departments. The Cape Coast Hospital in addition to the other challenges aforementioned, have serious problems with encroachment on its land. Observation on budgetary allocation for goods and services As already mentioned, most of the agencies under the Ministry of Health including the Mental Health Authority, the Ghana College of Nurses and Midwives and the Ghana Psychological Council received nothing for Goods and Services from GoG and as such could not undertake some of its activities in 2016. This was a result of the meagre amount of GH¢3,646,660 to the whole Ministry for
Mr Speaker, I am very grateful for the opportunity. Mr Speaker, I rise to support the Motion as moved by the Hon Minister for Youth and Sports on behalf of the Minister for Health. The consideration of the Budget Estimate revealed that most capital intensive projects started by the erstwhile governments are going to be continued by this particular Administration; that is very commendable both for the erstwhile and present governments. Mr Speaker, the 597-bed University of Ghana Teaching Hospital, and the 420-bed Ridge Hospital Expansion Project among others. It is my hope and prayer that such continuations would also spread to other sectors, so that we can harness maximum impact from such initiatives. Mr Speaker, on the issue of the Internally Generated Funds (IGF), it became very apparent that all Agencies and Departments that appeared before the Committee were virtually crying about the capping and the retention that they had been given. But one interesting relation was that the percentage designated for retention was not the same across board. That tells us that some work went into the percentages that were given. Mr Speaker, while a lot of commentators look at the capping as incapacitating in terms of its effects, I believe that, having worked in the health sector for some time, it also has some incentives. Most institutions or agencies spend all that they generate just because they feel that they generated it in that particular year. So, the capping would ensure that they are disciplined when it comes to their expenditure, and also efficient when it comes to how they use their resources. Mr Speaker, we could also look at it as a source of motivation to generate more. This is because the capping was not nominal as in a particular figure, but it has to do with percentages. So, the more money raised, the greater the nominal value generated. One thing we realised was that, some particular regulatory bodies in the Health sector were in dire need of support. Two of them included a Psychological Council; I am very sure that a lot of Ghanaians are not even aware that we have such a council, but there is a Psychological Council that is supposed to regulate the sector that deals with counselling and all other activities that have to do with attending to psychological issues, which are issues with behaviour and the mind. Mr Speaker, the whole Council has only two staff, and what is even worse is that one is a national service person at any time. Effectively, what we are saying is that one person is regulating the whole country when it comes to psychological issues, and no wonder we have issues with suicide and other activities that are not of interesting --
Hon Member, in concluding?
Mr Speaker, in conclusion, I would like to say that the capturing of the nursing trainee allowances in the health budget was, is and shall forever be very interesting. I have always maintained that the restoration of the nursing trainee allowances is not only an effort aimed at fulfilling a campaign pledge. It is one of the most potent ways of demonstrating an affinity for the poor, and bridging the gap between those who are advantaged and those who are disadvantaged. This Budget Estimate has done a good job in terms of capital investments and recurrents as well. I would urge all Hon Colleagues to give it the necessary support, so that it receives passage. Mr Speaker, I am grateful for your attention.
Thank you very much.
Mr Speaker, thank you for giving me the opportunity. I rise to support the Motion that an amount of --
Please, spare us the amount. Make your contribution.
Mr Speaker, it is very important that we support this particular Budget Estimates for the health sector simply because when we met with the Agencies, it was revealing that they faced a lot of problems especially in terms of accommodation, staffing strength and a lot of things. Many of them too face equipment problems. So, they spoke at length. We have also realised that the capping is going to disturb a lot of them. Like my Hon Chairman rightly indicated, a lot of these Agencies were being prepared to be weaned from the Government Budget; but the unfortunate thing now is that capping is being installed, and they have complained bitterly about it. We would be very happy if the Government would look at the Ministry of Health as an essential service provider and consider them in terms of that.
Mr Speaker, I rise to support the Motion, and in doing so, I would want to emphasise on these facts. In the year 2016, the Budget Estimates for the Ministry of Health, especially the one approved for service was only about GH¢1.2billion. Out of this, only GH¢784,000 was released. This affected service delivery, and if we read the Report from the Ministry, we would realise that most of the important indicators were all not achieved. Mr Speaker, however, we paid fully and, in fact, overpaid compensation. What we did was that we were prepared to pay people who would not, more or less, do the work. This is because we did not give them the resources to offer the services. Mr Speaker, in the year 2017, we are lucky the Budget Estimates has increased to GH¢4.2 billion. We realised that all the regulatory bodies, apart from staffing problems, also had accommodation challenges, and those who had the capacity were trying to put up their own accommodation. We proposed that the Ministry would consider putting up a Health Regulatory Bodies Complex, so that the cost of construction or acquiring accommodation would reduce, and that all the regulatory bodies could be in one complex. Another challenge identified was the indebtedness of the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) to the service providers. More than 80 per cent of all clients of the Ministry were insured, and the inability of the NHIA to make up their indebtedness was, therefore, affecting service delivery. Yet, we identified some funding gap that an amount due to the NHIA was also not released by the Ministry. So, we pray this time around, the Ministry would release the funds due the NHIA, so that they would also be able to pay the service provider to ensure that we have quality service. Mr Speaker, with these few words, thank you for the opportunity.
Thank you very much. The final contribution.
Mr Speaker, thank you very much. I would want to contribute to the Motion on the floor. Mr Speaker, on page 5 of the Committee's Report, Outlook of the Ministry for 2017. Indeed, the Committee outlined some of the ongoing projects that they needed to complete. Mr Speaker, some of these projects are very critical to this country - if we take the 597-bed teaching hospital and then the 420-bed Ridge Hospital expansion project and so on. Mr Speaker, we as a country must come to realise that quality healthcare is always expensive; even if it is free to the user, at a point in time, somebody must pay. We would notice in that section, that almost all those projects were procured through approvals sought from this House; but sometimes, we get the impression that when some people talk about loans, it is as if we do not know what we use the money for as a country. It is quite interesting that some of these projects listed here, have started delivering quality healthcare to the people of this country already. Mr Speaker, if we go to the Ridge Hospital, the equipment installed there are the same as the ones we could find at any world-class hospital in this world. This is because it is the same design and specification that we have. All we need to do is to ensure that they are maintained, so that they could last longer and give us quality healthcare. Mr Speaker, the second thing I would like to talk about is on page 13, which is the NHIA funding. It is true that the NHIA needs more money than they could get currently. It is a known fact that over the period, we were told by the Ministry that they were looking for ways to give extra money to NHIA. In other words, when this House for example, passes a law and says that we should give them maybe, GH¢1,000, they end up spending GH¢1500. The GH¢500, is a funding gap, and it is not because they did not receive all the moneys that they require. I am happy to know that the Ministry is taking steps to bring to the discussion of the public as to how we fund the gap that is required. Mr Speaker, I would encourage the Hon Minister for Health, to as a matter of urgency, open a debate as to how we fund it. Are we going to increase tax; or allocate a certain portion of our oil revenue to NHIA, so that we could have the quality healthcare that we require? The last thing I would like to talk about is on page 14, which talks about an unfortunate situation in this country, where we sometimes have news that a hospital runs out of medical gas. Mr Speaker, in the year 2017, that should not be happening at teaching hospitals and so on. Mr Speaker, I am aware that as a policy at the Ministry now, right from the district level and above, hospitals should all produce medical gases in situ. So, if we have noticed, for the past eight years, every district hospital that has been delivered in this country has a medical gas production unit on-site. If we go to Dodowa, Tarkwa, et cetera, they have medical gas production units on-site. It is nothing very expensive to do. So, it is shocking that we could wake up to the news that Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital or the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital has had shortage of medical gas. This is a very common thing. If we see the installation that we have for the production of oxygen -- It is a very simple process. So, I would urge the Hon Minister to re-inforce the production of good quality oxygen on the site of major health facilities; it should become a standard. We do not have to take bottles to town to buy medical gases, where we cannot even tell the quality of the gases that we are bringing to the hospital to provide better healthcare. Mr Speaker, on this note, I would urge the House to approve the Budget Estimate for the Ministry of Health to continue to provide quality healthcare for all of us in this country. Mr Speaker, thank you very much.
Thank you very much, Hon Member. Any comment from the Leadership? If the Leadership has no comments, then the Hon Minister may wind-up.
Mr Speaker, I rise to wind up the contributions that my Hon Colleagues on both sides of the House have made --
Hon Minister, you were not here when we started with your Ministry. We graciously indulged you in your absence, and so you would start by expressing your gratitude and continue.
Mr Speaker, let me thank you. I was being baptized with fire this morning at the Ministry and that explains why I could not be here. Some young nurses, both male and female, have besieged the premises of the Ministry, asking to be posted to work immediately. Honestly, some of them had been sitting home since 2014 and so I had no option but to grant them audience, cool their tempers and assure them that when this Budget Estimate is approved, there are certain provisions that we have made that would satisfy them partially, if not fully. Mr Speaker, problems have been created and I do not think that all of them could be resolved immediately. We would have to solve them gradually. Mr Speaker, I must admit that upon assuming office, I have come to realise that the previous Government did a lot in the health sector by virtue of physical infrastructure investments. Some of the projects -- quite a large number of them -- are still not completed. Mr Speaker, but along the line, the Ministry was encumbered with massive debts that we are struggling with and that has actually contributed to the accumulation of arrears to be paid to providers by the National Health Insurance Authority. Mr Speaker, we are working vigorously to see what moneys we could find immediately to do a knee-jerk investment or injection to determine how we could clear the arrears. Last week, I was in Senchi together with my Hon Colleague, the Hon Minster for Monitoring and Evaluation, as well as the World Bank Team on the health sector to try and find how best we could solve this problem. So I believe that after the approval -- and I am sure that my Hon Colleagues have accepted to approve for us by adopting the Committee's Report -- there are several other things that we may have to come back to lay before the House for approval and that would help us to solve some of the challenges that we have in the health sector. Mr Speaker, I do not think that I have much to say except to urge my Hon Colleagues on both sides to adopt the Committee's Report, and eventually accept and approve the appropriation for us. Mr Speaker, thank you.
Thank you. Question put and Motion agreed to. Resolved: That this honourable House approves the sum of GH¢4,226,- 152,354 for the services of the Ministry of Health for the year ending 31st December, 2017.
Hon Majority Leader, could we take the Motion numbered 14? [Pause.] -- Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu: Mr Speaker, I am told that the Report is yet to be circulated, that is in respect of the Ministry of Agriculture. Mr Speaker, in that case, while waiting for that Report, we could attend to the Earmarked Funds Capping and Realignment Bill, 2017. [Pause.] --
Hon Majority Leader, what do we proceed with immediately? I was engaged; have the Hon Leaders agreed on what we should move on with?
Mr Speaker, we would deal with item numbered 6 on page 4 of the Order Paper.
Hon Members, we would move to item numbered 6 on the Order Paper -- Earmarked Funds Capping and Realignment Bill, 2017, at the Consideration Stage.
BILLS -- CONSIDERATION STAGE
Clause 1? Hon Chairman of the Committee (Dr Mark Assibey-Yeboah): Mr Speaker, we started the Consideration Stage yesterday and we have already dealt with clause 1; so we would go to clause 2.
That was done yesterday?
Mr Speaker, so we would start with clause 2.
Clause 2 -- Hon Chairman of the Committee?
Mr Speaker, the amendment relates to Clause 2 (b), but if we could go to clause 2 (a). There is no advertised amendment, but we have an amendment we would want to propose.
You may proceed.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 2(a), delete “total” in line 2. It is “total revenue”, but we are deleting “total” so that it would read --
So, that it would read?
It would read, “revenue” Mr Speaker, the definition of “total revenue” has been given in some enactments and it takes out non-tax revenue. If we put here “total revenue”, it would not include non-tax revenue, but if we leave it at “revenue”, then we would define “revenue” in the interpretation section to include tax revenue and non- tax revenue. Mr Speaker, this is the reason for the amendment proposed.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Member is making reference to line 2 of clause 2, paragraph (a). There is no “total” in line 2. So I do not know what he is deleting. Mr Speaker, what he is actually referring to is what was done yesterday. He cannot make reference to what we do
Mr Speaker, the current state of the Bill at Consideration Stage is a collective aggregation of the amendments we have made previously, and what is left to be done in the Bill. Mr Speaker, we are yet to put the Question on clause 2 as a whole. This is the Consideration Stage; the rules are relaxed. That is why the Hon Chairman made the application to go a step back just to amend paragraph (a) of the clause. If we look at page 20 of the Votes and Proceedings of yesterday, item numbered (7), we would see that we deleted “tax” and inserted “total”. So when the Hon Chairman is making reference to “total revenue” and the fact that we should delete “total”, so that we have just “revenue”; that is where it is coming from. So, Mr Speaker, yes, if we look at the Bill as we are holding it, we may not find the word “total” there, but when we joined that with what is contained in the Votes and Proceedings, we would find “total revenue”.
Hon Members, I have a flexible approach to Consideration Stage. It is only a matter of whether we would find it acceptable or not acceptable. It is not an issue of whether it is advertised or not. We are at the Consideration Stage. So, if there is any strong argument, one way or the other, bring them. I would put the Question. Question put and amendment agreed to.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 2 paragraph (b), line 5, delete “and should cease to exist” Mr Speaker, that would be after “usefulness”; “and should cease to exist” is to be deleted entirely. There is no value addition by having the “and should cease to exist” there. So, we are deleting that.
Please, read the end result again.
“empower the Minister, in consultation with the relevant sector Minister, to review the enactments under which the Earmarked Funds specified in the Schedule are established, and to make a determination as to whether or not a particular Earmarked Fund has outlived its usefulness.” Question put and amendment agreed to.
Hon Chairman of the Committee, is there any further amendment for clause 2?
Mr Speaker, it is not advertised, but I would want to delete “usefulness” and replace it with “purpose”. I beg to move, in line 5 or paragraph (b), delete “usefulness”, and insert “purpose”. Mr Speaker, this would be consequential; so all through the Bill, wherever we see “usefulness”, delete and replace with “purpose” in this context.
Hon Members, if there is no counter argument, I would put the Question. Question put and agreed to.
Hon Chairman, do you have any further amendment on clause 2?
Mr Speaker, no. You can put the Question on clause 2.
Very well. I would put the Question on the entire clause. Clause 2 as amended ordered to stand part of the Bill. Clause 3 -- Earmarked Funds Capped
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 3, subclause (2), delete “specified in the Schedule” Mr Speaker, this phrase “specified in the Schedule” repeats itself all through, but it is defined in the interpretation section. Wherever we find “specified in the Schedule”, we delete it entirely. So, we would go back to paragraph (a) in clause 2, wherever we have “specified in the Schedule”, we would delete. Question put and amendment agreed to.
Is there any further amendment?
Mr Speaker, we have an advertised amendment to clause 3. There are two amendments to --
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 3, subclause (3), paragraph (a), delete “budget revenue” and insert “revenue” and do same wherever “budget revenue” appears in the Bill, unless the context otherwise requires. Question put and amendment agreed to.
Hon Chairman of the Committee?
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 3, subclause (5) delete and insert the following: “Despite subsection (2) and section 4, the Minister shall, in making allocations to the Earmarked Funds, or in distributing Internally Generated Funds, comply with any quantum of revenue allocation or retention of Internally Generated Funds that is provided for under the Constitution.” Question put and amendment agreed to.
Any further amendment to clause 3?
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 4, line 1, delete “allocate” and insert “distribute” and in lines 3 and 4, delete “that existed immediately before the coming into force of this Act” and insert “based on the retention percentages prescribed in relevant laws.”
Mr Speaker, I believe, after various amendments, the Hon Chairman of the Committee should be able to tell us the new rendition, so that we would be able to follow the amendments that are carried.
Hon Chairman, please proceed accordingly. The Hon Member would like you to read how it stands after your amendment, so that there would be clarity.
Mr Speaker, clause 4 would now read; “The Minister shall distribute the capped Internally Generated Funds amount to the Ministries, Departments or Agencies that are permitted by law to retain Internally Generated Funds according to their respective weights, based on the retention percentages prescribed in relevant laws”.
Mr Speaker, I would like to find out from the Hon Chairman of the Committee if the distribution of the IGF by the Hon Minister to Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) that are committed by the law to retain the IGF according to their respective weights is going to be in accordance with the respective weights of these MDAs or it is going to be based on the retention percentages prescribed in relevant laws? We need to marry the two to be clear which of them is going to be the basis of the distribution.
Mr Speaker, the institutions that generate IGF, as explained to the Committee, are about 125 in number. What the Hon Minister seeks to do is that, before presenting weights to Parliament to be approved, each MDA's contribution to the total IGF would be given a certain percentage, so that no Agency would be short changed. So if an institution has a bigger percentage, then it stands to get more allocation before the Minister presents the weight to be approved by Parliament. That is the essence of this. The purpose of the capping is to ensure that an institution does not retain all of the IGF as pertained previously. This means an institution might come down from 100 per cent to 66 per cent, but then its contribution to the total IGF, for example the Ghana Airport Company, exceeds that of perhaps the Food and Drugs Authority, so those ratios must remain.
Mr Speaker, if that is the reason, it means that their strength in contributing to the total IGF, when there is a capping and the Hon Minister wants to give the agencies back, then they are going to receive a share of the capping based on the strength of their contribution towards that. So in effect, it does not make any impact at all, because if I generate 100 per cent IGF and I retain 67 per cent, my contribution is 33 per cent, if it is capped. However, you are going to give me back that capped percentage, you are going to give me back my contribution, which is 67 per cent based on the weight of my contribution towards the total IGF. Mr Speaker, that is my understanding. If that is not the understanding, then what exactly would be my share of the capped IGF?
The Hon Deputy Minority Leader is getting into retention but let us forget about retention of IGF by any MDA. Mr Speaker, If you take all MDAs, they contribute some percentage to the total IGF, so an institution might contribute GH¢2 million. Another MDA's contribution might be GH¢1 million. Then we would have applied a capping. So having applied the capping, the one that contributed GH¢2 million should get more IGF retention than the one that contributed GH¢1 million. These percentages are to ensure that the one that contributed less does not get more than the MDA that contributed more to the global IGF, but what the capping does is that it is going to reduce the retention amount for all MDAs. I hope it is clearer now.
Mr Speaker, I got that explanation, but I have an issue with line 2 of clause 4, “Ministries, Departments or Agencies”. Should it be “and agencies” or “or agencies”? The “or” implies that it is an alternative between Ministries, Departments and Agencies, but I believe we are talking about all the three, Ministries, Departments and Agencies, but not “or Agencies”.
Mr Speaker, if we say MDAs, then of essence, we are giving that to Ministries, Departments and all Agencies. But if we say, Ministries, Departments or Agencies, it could be a Ministry or a Department that will get the IGF. So, we are not obliged to give to all MDAs. It should be “all”.
Hon Member, that is very clear. Question put and amendment agreed to. Clause 4 as amended ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Hon Chairman of the Committee, any further amendment on Clause 4?
Mr Speaker, you can put the Question on the entire clause.
Is there no further amendment?
Mr Speaker, there is no further amendment. Question put and amendment agreed to. Clause 4 as amended ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Clause 5? Clause 5 -- Realignment of revenue freed.
Mr Speaker, Clause 5(a) --
Do you have an amendment?
Rightly so, Mr Speaker.
Unadvertised -- You may proceed.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 5(a), delete “of” and insert “on”.
So, it will read?
Mr Speaker, it will read: “The capping on Earmarked Funds.”
Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, respectfully, the word “of” should not be deleted; it is better to have it as it is. We are talking about the capping of Earmarked Funds. If we had used “cap”, then we would have said, “the cap on earmarked funds.” But it is “the capping of earmarked funds”. What obtains here is correct. The Hon Chairman of the committee must withdraw his proposed amendment.
Hon Chairman of the Committee, your reaction.
Mr Speaker, I was led astray. [Laughter.] Question put and amendment agreed to. Clause 5 stands part of the Bill. Clause 6 -- Review of enactments establishing Earmarked Funds.
Hon Chairman of the Committee?
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 6, subclause (1), paragraph (a), line 1, delete “establishes” and insert “established”
And it would be rendered as follows? Hon Chairman of the Committee, please give us the full rendition so that the House knows where it stands.
Mr Speaker, giving the full rendition should not apply here, because there are other amendments to clause 1. When we have taken all, then I can give the full rendition.
No, with respect to that particular amendment.
In respect of (a) there is still -- Mr Speaker, the new rendition would read; “…conduct a review of each enactment that established an Earmarked Fund” -- We have deleted “specified in the Schedule”, so it will read: “….that established an Earmarked Fund to determine whether or not the Earmarked Fund has outlived its purpose”
Thank you. Once you reached “established Fund”, we know -- delete “establishes” and insert “established”; so that it will be “established Fund.” Hon Members, the proposed amend- ment is for your consideration.
Mr Speaker, in paragraph (a), there are two amendments that we made earlier “usefulness” which was changed to “purpose” and then “specified in the Schedule”. So both will go away. Mr Speaker, I will take clause 6 subclause 1, paragraph (a) again.
“…conduct a review of each enactment that established an Earmarked Fund to determine whether or not the Earmarked Fund has outlived its purpose.” Question put and amendment agreed to. Clause 6 as amended ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Mr Speaker, clause 6, amendment proposed in xii has been abandoned. There is no amendment to clause 6(b), but I do not know how --
Is the proposed amendment abandoned?
Yes, Mr Speaker, in item numbered (viii).
Please proceed with item numbered ix.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 6, sub-clause (1), paragraph (b), before “every” insert “within” So, clause 6, subclause 1, paragraph (b) will now read: “…conduct a review within every two years after a review under paragraph (a).”
Hon Members, the proposed amendment is for the consideration of the House.
Mr Speaker, a further amendment to the one I just read; delete “every”. So it will read: “…conduct a review within two years…”
He is speaking about an unadvertised --
Mr Speaker, it is restored.
Then please, repeat the previous rendition, so that we know clearly --
Mr Speaker, clause 6, subclause 1, paragraph (b), I beg to read: “…conduct a review within every two years after a review under paragraph (a).” Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Hon Chairman of the Committee, let us be very tidy about this. The proposed amendment listed “x”.
Mr Speaker, there was a typographical error.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move -- [Interruptions]
Hon Chairman of the Committee, concentrate on your part. What are you doing with what is listed as “x”?
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 6, subclause (2), paragraph (d), line 2 delete “20.whether” and insert “whether” Mr Speaker, for some strange reason, the number “20” appeared in the write up. So, we are deleting the “20. Whether” and inserting “whether”.
Very well. So the “20.” should not have appeared.
Yes, Mr Speaker, the “20.” should not have appeared.
Hon Members, “20.” should not have appeared, so it would remain “whether”. Is that not so, Hon Chairman of the Committee?
Rightly so, Mr Speaker. Question put and amendment agreed to.
Mr Speaker, there is a further amendment which is not advertised here. Mr Speaker, I beg to move that, clause 6 (2) (a), which has been repeated, should be substituted with (b). So the second (a) should be deleted, so that the paragraph becomes (b).
So, (b) should be substituted for the (a)? Question put and amendment agreed to.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 6, subclause (3), lines 2 and 3, delete “cause a Bill to be prepared and laid in Parliament” and insert “present to Parliament a Bill” Question put and amendment agreed to.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 6, subclause (3), paragraph (a), line 1, delete “establishes” and insert “established” Question put and amendment agreed to.
Mr Speaker, there are two areas that I would want the Hon Chairman of the Committee to have a second look at, to further improve on the construction.
“conduct a review within every two years after a review under paragraph (a)” Mr Speaker, I beg to move that we delete the second “a” in that line and insert “the initial”. So it would read, “conduct a review within every two years after the initial review”. It is tidier this way. Question put and amendment agreed to.
Chairman of the Committee, anything else before I put the Question on the entire clause?
Mr Speaker, I move that clause 6 (3), the arrangements in the preamble should read: “Where the Minister makes a determination under subsection (1), that an Earmarked Fund has outlived its purpose, the Minister shall present a Bill to Parliament”. Mr Speaker, (a) then follows. Mr Speaker, I move this instead of that interpositional re-engineering that the Hon Chairman of the Committee offered to us.
So, Hon Member, it would be, the Minister shall present a Bill to Parliament, “then (a) follows.” Hon Majority Leader, read the full text.
Mr Speaker, it reads: “Where the Minister makes a determination under subsection (1), that an Earmarked Fund has outlived its purpose, the Minister shall present a Bill to Parliament (a) for the repeal of the enactment that establised that Earmarked Fund; or (b) for an amendment to the enactment, to remove the allocation of Earmarked Funds.”
Hon Members, this is for further clarity. Question put and amendment agreed to. Hon Chairman of the committee, can I put the Question on the entire clause if you have finished? Clause 6 as amended ordered to stand part of the Bill. Clause 7 -- Interpretation.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 7, interpretation of “Earmarked Fund” line 1, after “revenue” insert “including Internally Generated Fund” Question put and amendment agreed to. 12. 40 p. m.
Hon Chairman of Committee?
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 7 interpretation of “realigned Earmarked Funds”, line 2, delete “to” and insert “in”
Mr Speaker, there is a further amendment to that. We would further amend the realigned Earmarked Funds, by inserting before ‘budget' ‘the national' and deleting “revenue” after budget. Mr Speaker, the new rendition would read; “Realigned Earmarked Funds means the total amount of revenue that is freed up and reallocated in the National Budget after capping earmarked funds.”
Thank you, Hon Chairman of Committee. Question put and amendment agreed to.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 7 add the following new interpretation: “revenue” in this Act means “the sum of tax revenue and non- tax revenue” Question put and amendment agreed to.
Hon Chairman of Committee?
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 7 interpretation of “tax revenue” line 1, before “means” insert “in this Act” and in line 2, after “trade” delete “other than petroleum revenue under the Petroleum Revenue Management Act, 2011, (Act 815)” Question put and amendment agreed to.
Further amendments, Chairman of Committee?
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 7 interpretation of “total revenue”, delete. Mr Speaker, an earlier version of the Bill which was presented to the Committee, referenced the District Assemblies Common Fund (DACF), for which reason we had the interpretation of ‘total revenue' which was captured under the DACF. Now, DACF is not referenced at all in the Bill, for which reason, the definition of ‘total revenue' is not needed [Interruption]-- ‘total revenue' is not used in the Bill.
Hon Deputy Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker it is true that DACF is not referenced and then, also, ‘total revenue' is not referenced; but Mr Speaker, if you look at clause 3(5) where we try to make reference to -- [Interruption.]-- I am reading the new amendment. Clause (3), the new amendment is that: “Despite subsections (2) and section 4, the Minister shall in making allocations to the Earmarked Funds or in distributing Internally Generated Funds, comply with any quantum of revenue allocation or retention of Internally Generated Funds that is provided for under the Constitution”. Now, any quantum of revenue allocation indirectly makes reference to the DACF --[Interruption.]-- this is because if you are going to cap the IGF, and in allocation you want to make reference to the Constitution, what does the Constitution say in terms of allocation to the DACF, which is not less than five per cent of total revenue? So, if you are avoiding the mention of ‘total revenue' in this but reference to the Constitution in terms of quantum of revenue allocation, you are indirectly referring to DACF which is article 252 (2) of the Constitution and for that matter, we need to define what ‘total revenue' means.
Thank you very much. Hon Opare-Ansah?
Thank you, Mr Speaker. This is a piece of legislation that we are building here. In future, it is going to be used by various entities. The essence of the interpretation section is that, the words, clauses and phrases that we may find in the body of the Act, which do not ordinarily have everyday meaning, should be defined in the interpretation section. If you go through the entire Bill, this particular phrase, ‘total revenue' has not been utilised anywhere. It would be strange to go to the interpretations section and find that this House decided in its wisdom to define ‘total revenue' which is not utilised anywhere in the Bill. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, thank you very much. I have heard my Hon Colleague, Hon Frederick Opare-Ansah and I know that even the Supreme Court of Ghana had occasion now to give a lucid judgement on parliamentary debate being a guide to interpretation as a further development to the English Law development. Therefore, what happens on the floor of this House itself and even the Interpretations Act. Mr Speaker, even though we are labouring to say, keep away ‘total revenue', there is a Schedule to this law and in that Schedule, item 5 is District Assemblies Common Fund. Again, the principle of interpretation is to construe documents as a whole. Therefore, in construing this Bill as a whole, reference is made to the District Assemblies Common Fund. Mr Speaker, further to what the Hon Deputy Minority Leader said, and again, may I refer you to page 3 of the Explanatory Memorandum --
Hon Chairman of the Committee, when it comes to the Consideration Stage, let the contributions go on, however vehemently you may disagree with what is happening, then you would have your chance. Hon Minority Leader, please, proceed.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. In the Explanatory Memorandum which is part of the Hon Minister's effort and attempt to comply with the constitutional requirement of coming with the Bill, Mr Speaker, let me quote. It says; “The clause requires the Minister to take into consideration and comply with clause (2) of article 252 of the Constitution in the performance of the obligation to ensure that the earmarked funds are twenty-five per cent of tax revenue….” Mr Speaker, it would be recalled that, when we debated the principles, I drew attention to the constitutional provision of the words “total revenue” and “tax revenue”. That was why during the debate, I added that it would have been useful if the Hon Minister separated the DACF, satisfied the constitutional obligation of five per cent of total revenue and then capped the rest for his purpose. So we cannot say that we would use “tax revenue”. Mr Speaker, budget estimates that come to us -- in the course of the debate, we were divided again because, five per cent needed to be calculated -- but five per cent of what? Was it “total revenue” which was indicative in the Budget Statement or “tax” which is indicative in the Constitution or “tax revenue”? Mr Speaker, if we were to define the words “total revenue”, I am aware that the Local Governance Act had already done that. I would want to believe that those who even suggested it almost lifted what was defined in the Local Governance Act.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minority Leader took us back to the Memorandum, and even spoke about the principles. Mr Speaker, I would want to refer him to Standing Order 128 (2) and with your permission, I beg to quote: “At the Consideration Stage of a Bill the House shall not discuss the principle of the Bill but only its details”. Mr Speaker, the details here would refer to the interpretation section which is where we are now. The sponsors of the Bill have not mentioned the words “total revenue” anywhere in the Bill -- they have deleted the definition of the words “total revenue”. Mr Speaker, the Hon Minority Leader has taken us back to the Memorandum and he has debated on it. He had the opportunity when we did the Second Reading of the Bill and so, he should be ruled out of order, so that we could continue.
Hon Chairman of the Committee, the Hon Minority Leader does not need to be ruled out of order. [Laughter.]
Mr Speaker, I would be guided by your ruling, but I would want to refer my Hon Colleague to standing Order 128 (4) -- [Interruption.] Mr Speaker, but what I raised was relevant to the subject matter, and he knows that at the Consideration Stage, because of the urgency of the Bill, we have allowed him to rise and sit even without justifying why he moved some amendments. Question put and amendment agreed to.
Hon Members, are there any further amendments? Yes, Hon Chairman of the Committee?
Mr Speaker, Hon Opare-Ansah has an amendment.
Yes, Hon Opare-Ansah, is the amendment listed?
Mr Speaker, the amendment is not listed.
So, it is an unlisted proposed amendment.
Yes, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, there are two phrases which have been used and have not been defined in the Interpretation section. The first is “Capped Internally Generated Funds” which was used in clause 4 and the second is the “non-tax revenue” which has just been used in the definition or the meaning given to the word “revenue”. Mr Speaker, if we look at the Bill, it would be realised that the words “tax revenue” have been defined but the words “non-tax revenue” have not been defined. Mr Speaker, I have crafted a definition for the words “Capped Internally Generated Funds” and I would urge the Hon Chairman of the Committee to try and craft a definition for the words “non-tax revenue”. Mr Speaker, with your permission, I would propose a definition for the words “Capped Internally Generated Funds”. “Capped Internally Generated Funds, means, the total amount allocated from capped Earmarked Funds to retention of Internally Generated Funds as provided in subsection (2) of section 3 of this Act”.
Yes, Hon Chairman of the Committee?
Mr Speaker, we do not have any problem with the Hon Member's definition and so, we could capture it. We would try and define the words “non-tax revenue” after you have put the Question on this one. Question put and amendment agreed to.
Hon Chairman of the Committee, have you finished as per clause 7?
Mr Speaker, we are trying to fine-tune our definition of the words, “non-tax revenue” and so, if we could continue with the amendment of the “Schedule”.
Hon Chairman of the Committee, so you would want us to continue with the amendment of the “Schedule” as listed as item numbered (xviii). Is that so?
Yes, Mr Speaker, but please, hold on with the putting of the Question on clause 7.
That was why I wanted to know whether you had finished entirely with clause 7.
Mr Speaker, please, we have not finished entirely with clause 7.
Then, I would not put the Question on the entire clause 7.
Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Hon Chairman of the Committee, so it means that clause 7 is effectually deferred until you complete that part.
Yes, Mr Speaker.
Very well. Clause 8 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Mr Speaker, I would want the Hon Chairman to address his mind to the Repeal. The Repeal has to
Hon Majority Leader, are you clear?
Mr Speaker, I believe it rather refers to section 5 of the Ghana Infrastructure Investment Fund and not section 5 of this Act. And so, in that case, it is appropriate.
And so, can we proceed?
Mr Speaker, if we could go back to clause 7.
Mr Speaker, I believe you did not put the Question on clause 8 and so —
That is because, there was something left. If you would complete what you now propose to do, we shall then move on. Mr Iddrisu — rose --
Hon Minority Leader, please accommodate him.
Mr Speaker, a while ago, I was reminded of a Standing Order relative to the Consideration Stage. Mr Speaker, you are on clause 8 and the Chairman is in a hurry to take you back to clause 7. He should be in a hurry to go forward. Why does he want to take the Rt Hon Speaker back? He knows the rule, that since there is no advertised amendment to clause 8, you would put the Question and he could then be in a hurry to move to other clauses.
In fact, the Question has been put in its entirety on clause 8. But for the avoidance of doubt, I will put the Question again. Clause 8 ordered to stand part of the Bill. Hon Chairman, you may go back to clause 7 and let us kill it.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, the definition of “non-tax revenue”, “It is the recurring income earned by the Government from sources other than taxes and grants”. Question put and amendment agreed to. Clause 7 as amended ordered to stand part of the Bill.
We would move to the Schedule. Schedule — Identified Earmarked Funds.
Hon Chairman, do you have an amendment therein?
Mr Speaker, yes. We have a number of them. About five.
Mr Speaker, they are advertised.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, the Schedule second row, delete “Grants to other Government Units”. Question put and amendment agreed to.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, the Schedule second column, third row, after “Health” insert “Insurance”
“National Health Insurance Fund” Question put and amendment agreed to.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, schedule second column, fourth row, before “Education” insert “Ghana”
“Ghana Education Trust Fund” Question put and amendment agreed to.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, the Schedule second column, tenth row, delete “Other Earmarked Funds” and renumber the items below it, starting from 8 to 14.
8 Youth Employment Agency 9 Students Loan Trust Fund et cetera in that order to end at 14 Plastic Waste Recycling Fund. Mr Iddrisu — rose --
Hon Minority Leader, you have one of your members behind you. Maybe, I would listen to him first.
Mr Speaker, line 5 — District Assemblies Common Fund. Mr Speaker, I would want to move a further amendment, that this should be deleted from the Schedule. This is because, according to article 252 of the Constitution, it is already a constitutionally Earmarked Fund. And so, any law applying to vary it in any form is unconstitutional. I am not a Supreme Court judge, but I believe that the provision for the District Assemblies Common Fund is constitutionally entrenched. And so we should not allow any subsidiary Act to influence the District Assemblies Common Fund.
“Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, Parliament shall annually make provision for the allocation of not less than five per cent of the total revenues of Ghana to the District Assemblies for development; and the amount shall be paid into the District Assemblies Common Fund in quarterly installments.” Mr Speaker, and so this is constitutionally established and cannot be influenced by any other law or an Act of Parliament. So I believe that, we should delete it completely and leave it for application under the Constitution. Thank you.
That which is constitutionally provided for, may also be provided for in any Act of Parliament, provided that Act does not purport to contravene the Constitution. There is no contradiction implied in any manner whatsoever here. And so, it may be placed there even for the avoidance of doubt.
We shall proceed. Hon Minority Leader, would you want to speak further to it?
Mr Speaker, I may have to seek your leave, even though my Hon Colleague has already moved the amendment. Mr Speaker, I noticed that when he got to column 6, “Retention of Internally Generated Funds (IGF)”, I thought that it should just be “IGF”. Why precede it with the words “Retention of”? This is because, reference in the law is always to IGF. Maybe, the Hon Chairman of the Committee would want to carry that on board. Mr Speaker, probably to also add that, when you come to “Ghana Airport Company Limited”, What earmarked funds are you attaching? Same with “Youth Employment Agency”, as well as the “Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) Retention” -- what is it that we are attaching? So let us provide further clarity and we are fine to go with the Hon Chairman of the Committee. Thank you.
Chairman of the Committee?
Mr Speaker, am I supposed to -- [Pause.]
Mr Speaker, when it comes to “Retention of Internally Generated Funds (IGF)”, it is the “Retention” that we are capping and not the entire IGF. What they retain is what is being capped here. That is why we included “Retention of” before the “IGF”. Mr Speaker, it is same with “Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) Retention”, it is the up to three per cent that they retain that is being capped. It is not the entire revenue that GRA raised.
Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, just for elegance, how come that the “Retention” is after Ghana Revenue Authority and before IGF?
Mr Speaker, the Minority Leader is posing questions to me as if I drafted the Bill. [Interruption.]
Hon Member, you are the Hon Chairman of the Committee. [Laughter.]
Mr Speaker, the Bill is signed by the Minister for Finance. [Interruption.]
The point is that, at this Consideration Stage, let us see if there could be some marriage, because we are not really at variance so that we would proceed. Hon Chairman of the Committee, you would send an emissary. Hon Chairman of the Committee, if not, let us make progress and come back to the Schedule later.
Very well, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, I support the effort by the Hon Minority Leader to make our work more elegant. Mr Speaker, it is either we keep “Retention of Internally Generated Funds (IGF)” and make row numbered (xvii) “Retention by Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA)” or we make it “IGF Retention”. But I would prefer that we go with “IGF Retention”; it is neater that way.
Hon Member, I understand you. So, you would now give us the full rendition after that adjustment.
Mr Speaker, if we proceed with this amendment, then, row numbered (viii) on the Schedule would now read, “Internally Generated Fund (IGF) Retention”.
Hon Chairman of the Committee, do you accept that?
Mr Speaker, I have no objection. Question put and amendment agreed to.
Any further amendment, Hon Chairman of the Committee?
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, the Schedule delete “o/w” wherever it appears in the Schedule. Question put and amendment agreed to.
Any further amendments?
Mr Speaker, there is a further amendment not advertised in the Order Paper.
Proceed, Hon Chairman of the Committee.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, delete, Petroleum Related Funds. Mr Speaker, the new rendition would only have Energy Fund.
Hon Members, this would broaden the purview. Question put and amendment agreed to. Any further amendments to the Schedule?
Mr Speaker, there are no further amendments.
Let me call the Hon Minority Leader, please.
Mr Speaker, just to get the thought of the Hon Minister and the Hon Chairman of the Committee. Mr Speaker, if you take the Schedule, preceeding it in sections 2(a) and (b), 3(1), (2), 6(1)(a) and (7), are we certain that having regard to all the cleaning we have done in this Bill, it states and stands as it is? This is just a guide because we have walked many of those clauses preceding the Schedule so that it is consistent with the referral to the Schedule. Mr Speaker, but if it is alright with the Hon Chairman of the Committee, you may put the Question. Thank you.
Very well. Hon Chairman of the Committee, I am sure you have no difficulty.
Hon Members, I will call the Hon Minority Leader first; perhaps his direction would help.
Mr Speaker, thank you very much. On the Long Title, Mr Speaker, again, it is a suggestion, and I am guided by the fact that I stated earlier, that parliamentary debates in Ghana now -- I was talking to my Hon Colleague and the Hon Ursula Owusu-Ekuful -- if you would recall the authoritative ruling in Pepper vs Hart -- that was British. There is now a Ghanaian ruling on this matter.
“An Act to provide a cap on Earmarked Funds” -- the “on” is attributable to the Hon Majority Leader. But the second leg of this Bill is to provide rules for the “Earmarked Funds”. I suggest that they consult with the draftsperson before we come to provide for related matters, the two core objects become part of the long title: “An Act to provide a cap on Earmarked Funds, then the utilisation of accruance from that cap and for related matters” -- I may not get the rendition properly. But I believe that the Long Title should reflect that you are capping and beyond. Mr Speaker, but if we think that this is sufficient, I have no objection.
So, for clarity, Hon Minority Leader, you would propose that
Mr Speaker, I appreciate the principle underpinning the intervention of the Hon Minority Leader. Mr Speaker, I believe he could borrow a leaf from the opening paragraph of the memorandum which provides that: “The object of the Bill is to cap Earmarked Funds at twenty-five percent of the total tax revenue so as to provide for the re-alignment of tax revenue…” Mr Speaker, so I believe we could just capture that in the Long Title -- “An Act to provide a cap on Earmarked Funds and for the realignment of tax revenue and for related matters”. Mr Speaker, I believe that would encapsulate the sense in the intervention.
Mr Speaker, he had an amendment on the Long Title -- [Pause.] Mr Speaker, in the Long Title, we would want to delete “for” and insert “on”.
Mr Speaker, so that the Long Title would read: ‘An Act to provide a cap on Earmarked Funds and to provide for related matters' Then the Hon Majority Leader would now bring his amendment. So, ours would end here.
Hon Minority Leader, does that satisfy your aspirations?
Mr Speaker, his amendment reads: ‘to provide a cap on', that ends yesterday's debate with the Hon Inusah Fuseini on the use of ‘on' and ‘for'. But mine is having capped this Bill, gives an indication what the Hon Minister is seeking to do with those resources before related matters. So I would have thought that the Hon Majority Leader's attempt to further improve mine, by saying that: ‘An Act to provide a cap on Earmarked Funds for the realignment of tax revenue'. I believe these are the core issues that even the Memorandum sought to convey to us. So the Hon Majority Leader may put it and then --
I see the Hon Majority Leader is in agreement.
Mr Speaker, as I indicated, we could have a rendition like this: ‘An Act to provide a cap on Earmarked Funds for the realignment of tax revenue and to provide for related matters'.
Hon Chairman of the Committee, do you have any objection to that compromised rendition?
Mr Speaker, first, I would believe that the phrase: ‘related matters' would deal with what he sought to include, but this Act, in essence, does not provide for utilisation. This is because, for example, the District Assemblies Common Fund (DACF), the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) would come back to the House for us to approve a formula. So, even though there is a capping, the DACF for example is not available to the Hon Minister to realign. NHIF is also not available to the Hon Minister, this House would approve a formula for the utilisation of those. So let us just leave it at that: “An Act to provide a cap for Earmarked Funds and to provide for related matters”
Mr Speaker, may I refer the Hon Chairman to clause 4 as was deliberated upon -- Distribution of Internally Generated Funds. There would be distribution of what is accruing from the cap of the statutory revenues, but if he believes ‘related matters' -- but he should read the Bill as a whole on clause 4, there are even references where the Hon Minister is asked to do ‘a', ‘b' and ‘c'. So the Long Title must be a summarised position of what this Bill seeks to achieve and so, I would associate myself with the position of the Hon Majority Leader. We are realigning because when we cap and get the revenue, we have provided in this Bill what the Hon Minister for Finance should distribute.
Mr Speaker, I would want to come along but before that, I would want to seek your leave so that the Hon Member for Suhum would --
Hon Chairman, if we are coming in through that medium, then we do not need --
Mr Speaker, I would not want you to put the Question on the Long Title. Before you put the Question on the Long Title, there is an amendment -- New Clause. [Interruption.] Mr Speaker, we would want to make room for the Hon Minister to make regulations in the law, which we did not do previously. So, the Hon Member for Suhum would do that.
Mr Speaker, you would realise that in our recent legislative efforts, we have adopted a strategy of revising schedules attached to bills through the use of regulations rather than amending the entire law. This Bill fails to make that provision. So, I would just want to propose a new clause titled Regulations.
New clause? [Pause] Hon Member, proceed.
The new clause titled Regulations which would read; a new clause 7, before clause 8. “The Minister may, by legislative instrument make Regulations a) to amend the Schedules; and b) to provide for any other matter necessary for the effective implementation of this Act”.
Mr Speaker, in fact, with your leave, I would co-sponsor that, because it then strengthens what we said yesterday, that by the Legislative Instrument (L.I), this House would necessarily become an integral part of the process in assisting the Hon Minister to cap, realign and to distribute. So, I associate myself with it. Thank you.
Mr Speaker, I have no objection except to say that, the Hon Member for Suhum in reading out the Regulation said that, the Hon Minister may by L.I. Now, if the Hon Minister does not come by an L.I, how else would he come to the House? So, the Hon Minister may make regulations and he does not have to include: ‘may by Legislative Instrument' because the only way he could come to the House is by way of L. I. So if he would
Mr Speaker, I took my rendition from Act 899, the Energy Sector Levy Act, 2015 and it reads: “The Minister may, by legislative instrument make Regulations…” Mr Speaker, we know that the Hon Minister could only come by means of an L.I. That is for emphasis --
Hon Chairman, you would find that, in many laws and it is a way of avoiding doubt on the means by which the Hon Minister may proceed. If you are agreeable, we would put the Question.
Mr Speaker, for purposes of enhancing the new clause proposed by Hon Opare-Ansah, the Regulation to be made by the Hon Minister would be for the effective implementation of this Act.
Mr Speaker, what I said was that; “The Minister may by Legislative Instrument make Regulations; (a) to amend the Schedules and (b) to provide for any other matter necessary for the effective implementation of this Act.”
That is omnibus --
Mr Speaker, we are in harmony with his rendition.
Very well. Question put and amendment agreed to. The new clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Mr Speaker, we could go back to the Long Title.
“AN ACT to provide a cap on Earmarked Funds for the Realignment of Tax Revenues and to provide for related matters.”
I could see that there is total agreement on the other side. I would put the Question --
Hon Chairman, do you have a difficulty?
Mr Speaker, I beg to further amend the Long Title -- delete “Tax” before “Revenues”. So it would now read: “AN ACT to provide a cap on Earmarked Funds for the Realignment of Revenues and to provide for related matters.” Question put and amendment agreed to. The Long Title as amended ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Hon Members, that brings us to the end of the Consideration Stage. Hon Members, the House would now stand suspended till 2 'clock --
Mr Speaker, I would plead that we pass the Bill through the --
Hon Majority Leader, there is the need for us to suspend Sitting at this stage for us to get the Second Deputy Speaker to take the Chair. I thought that I communicated to Leadership.
Mr Speaker, I received the communication but where we are now, if we have to do the Third Reading, it would be just about two minutes and then we would be through with it. Unless there is a very excruciating meeting --
Hon Majority Leader, the Leadership must synchronise with the Chair.
Mr Speaker, I take a cue.
The House stands suspended. 1.34 p.m. -- Sitting suspended. 3.00 pm -- Sitting resumed.
The available Leader on the Majority Side, is there any guidance?
Mr Speaker, if we could take item numbered 15; the Motion on page 9.
Item numbered 15, Hon Minister for Communications?
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that this Honourable House approves the sum of GH¢367,487,428 for the services of the Ministry of Communications for the year ending 31st December 2017. Mr Speaker, in doing so, I wish to inform this Honourable House that the Ministry of Communications has oversight responsibility for nine Government agencies that assist with the implementation of policies related to the operational and regulatory administration of the communication sector. Six of the nine agencies form part of the Sector's budget with the remaining three being self- financed. Mr Speaker, the approval would enable the Ministry and its agencies undertake the programmes and activities for the development of a reliable and cost effective communication --
Hon Minister, we have the Report. And so if you could just move the Motion and let somebody second it.
Thank you, Mr Speaker, I so move.
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion, and in doing so, I present your Committee's Report. Introduction The Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the Government of Ghana for the 2017 Financial Year was presented to the House on Thursday 2nd March 2017, by the Hon Minister for Finance, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta in accordance with article 179 of the 1992 Constitution. Pursuant to Order 140 (4) and 182 of the Standing Orders of the House, the Rt. Hon Speaker referred the Annual Budget Estimates of the Ministry of Communications to the Committee on Communications for consideration and report. The Committee subsequently met with the Hon Minister for Communications, Mrs Ursula Owusu-Ekuful and her team on Thursday 16th March, 2017 and considered the referral. Reference documents The Committee availed itself of the following documents during its deliberations: i. The 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana. ii. The Standing Orders of Parliament. iii. The 2016 Annual Budget Estimates of the Ministry of Communications. iv. The Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the Government of Ghana for the 2016 Financial Year. v. The Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the Government of Ghana for the 2017 Financial Year. Mission statement The Ministry exists to facilitate the development of a reliable and cost- effective world-class communications infrastructure and services, driven by appropriate technological innovations and accessible by all citizens to enhance the promotion of economic competitive- ness in a knowledge- based environment. Policy objectives in line with GSGDA II The following are the policy objectives of the Ministry: i. To promote rapid development and deployment of national l infrastructure. ii. To strengthen the institutional and regulatory framework for managing the ICT subsector. iii. To increase the use of ICT in all sectors of the economy. iv. To facilitate the provision of quality meteorological data and forecast in support of weather sensitive sectors of the economy. Implementing departments and agencies The policies and programmes of the Ministry are implemented by the underlisted Agencies and Departments under its purview: 1. Ghana Meteorological Agency (GMet). 2. Data Protection Commission (DPC). 3. National Identification Authority (NIA). 4. Ghana-India Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence in ICT (AITI- KACE). 5. National Information Technology Agency (NITA). 6. Postal and Courier Services Regulatory Commission (PCSRC). 7. Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Communication (GIFEC). 8. National Communica tion Authority (NCA). 9. Ghana Post Company Limited (GPCL). Performance for year 2016 A budgetary provision of GH¢292,- 861,427.00 was made to the Ministry of Communications for its programmes and activities for the 2016 financial year. However, it is important to recall that from year 2013 to 2016, the Ministry of Information was subsumed under the Ministry of Communications. Therefore the allocation made was to cater for both the communications and information outfits. Out of the total allocation, an amount of GH¢67,335,571.00 was provided for the communications outfit. Table 1 shows the 2016 breakdown of the allocation and releases to the communications outfit.
Hon Chairman, which agency are you talking about?
Mr Speaker, the National Information Technology Agency (NITA).
Do they charge agencies for services rendered?
Mr Speaker, we are pleading with the Hon Minister. What happens is that they are supposed to charge but they are not paid.
Is that what they told you? That they charged and people have not paid?
Mr Speaker, yes, they have not paid.
I did not see that in the Report.
It just came to our notice, and we said, we would speak to it so that the Hon Minister would take it up with the Hon Minister for Finance and do something about it.
At least, you should have captured it so that when you talk about it, you would be talking on authority. As of now, I have raised the issue whether they have been charging for their services. This is because there is nothing here to show that they have done that and the agencies have not paid them. So you are now calling on the House to support the Hon Minister to get them to pay. We do not see that in your Report. What I saw in your Report is talking about the authority. If you look at page 17.
Yes, on page 17. “NITA has been allocated with an amount of …” which is not important.
Read the last but three lines: “It also intends to commercialise the e-government infrastructure;”
Mr Speaker, we would commercialise it to the public. As we speak, they are rendering services like the e-government and e-parliament. All these platforms are being controlled and managed by NITA, but they still do not get anything.
Hon Member, my problem is that you have not captured what you are talking about. There is no indication in your Report that they had attempted charging --
Mr Speaker, we would take notice of that.
Should Mr Speaker take note of that? [Laughter.]
From what you just said --
Please, go on.
Thank you. Mr Speaker, again, we have a similar problem with Ghana Meteorological Agency (GMet). As I speak, Hon Members would attest to it, that they have a problem with the Ghana Airports Company Limited. With all the services they render, they do not get paid, and there is big argument. For the past six years, they have been going back and forth, and GMet feels the Ghana Airports Company Limited has to pay them and the Ghana Airports Company Limited also feels they do not owe them anything because they have paid Aviation. So we are pleading with your good office to step in for these two agencies. If not, one would sit down there and think that they are not viable but indeed they are. If they are supported, they would be able to perform their work very well.
Yes, Hon Member? Question proposed.
Thank you Mr Speaker. I beg to support the Motion that this House approves the sum of GH¢367,487,428.00 for the services of the Ministry of Communications for the year ending 31st December, 2017. Mr Speaker, your Committee has met the sector Minister and its agencies, that is the Ministry of Communications on a case-by-case basis, and if we look at the budgetary allocation for this year, at first glance, we were very happy that such an amount was allocated to the Ministry of Communications. As we go through it we would realised that out of this total amount of GH¢367,487,428.00, an amount of GH¢112,464,027. 00 is for National Identification Authority. So Mr Speaker, that money goes to that agency. It does not stay with the headquarters. Also, we realised that GH¢221,096,196.00 has been allocated to the National Security outfit for their communication enhancement, and we realised that after taking all these huge sums out, the headquarters is left with only GH¢33,927,205.00. Mr Speaker, we realised that there is the need for the Ministry of Finance to realign some of the resources to the Ministry of Communications, in that this particular year, Ghana is embarking on a digital terrestrial migration, and the Ministry of Communications needs to undertake a lot of activities. For that matter, they would need a lot of resources for awareness creation for the services to be undertaken. Mr Speaker, let us move to the Kofi Annan ICT Training Centre. There also, we realised that all the agencies have similar problems of logistics, staffing and accommodation, and that does not augur well for services to be provided to the Ghanaian society. Mr Speaker, we are asking the Ministry to give that authority to the Kofi Annan ICT Training Centre to retain and use their IGF so that -- this IGF that I talk about now, they are getting IGF but it is not well recorded, and so even if we look into the books, it indicates zeros. That is not good for such an agency to be undertaking such a practice. It is undertaking an illegal activity. So there is the need for the Ministry of Finance to give them that authority to actually record their IGF and use it.
Hon Member, your Hon Colleague is on his feet.
On a point of order. Mr Speaker, I would like to caution my Hon Colleague. He just used a term that somebody was engaging in an illegal activity. Mr Speaker, he is making an allegation, and it is very serious. So if he has evidence to support that, he should provide it or else he should not go there at all.
Hon Member, what did you say?
Mr Speaker, I tried to allude to the fact that once --
The question is, what did you say you were trying to allude to?
First of all, I said that they are undertaking an illegal activity, but if that is not correct as my Hon Colleague said --
Who is undertaking an illegal activity?
What I have seen or deduced here is that the Kofi Annan ICT Training Centre is using their IGF. It is not indicated. The authority is not given to them, so in my sense, when they give them that authority for the transaction to be clearly recorded in their books that would be the record for that institution. But this time, the authority has not been given them, so they are using the IGF but it is not recorded. So Mr Speaker, if we give them that authority, it would help all of us. But I do not have proof for the word “illegal” I used, so I withdraw that part.
You withdraw illegal. You are not even sure of the other allegation that they are not recording the IGF. Is that a different issue? They may be misapplying the IGF, that is the word to use.
Thank you Mr Speaker. The Kofi Annan ICT Training Centre is misapplying the IGF, and I am appealing that the record should be set straight. Then Mr Speaker, if we move to NITA, I am pleading with the sector Minister that NITA has established a very good and viable system to undertake ICT projects and business processing in this country. What we have to look at critically right now is how these services would be paid for. Yesterday, we were here, and we saw what happened when the system got jammed. So when we put systems in place to make sure that all these things are closely monitored, then we would enjoy their services the more. Mr Speaker, if we come to the National Identification Authority, they also complained about accommodation, that it is very deplorable, and they are seeking funds to do renovation. I would appeal to the Hon Minister that they are undertaking the production of identification cards, it is very good, but we have actually appealed to the agency that the information that is embedded in these identification cards should run concurrently with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) and Immigration, so that we do not finish issuing these cards and later go back to look at what information is not there that we need to add, because all these things border on security. Mr Speaker, ICT is moving the world now, when all these information is embedded in the identification cards, Ghana would be taking a better step forward. Mr Speaker, let us come to other agencies like Data Protection and we would realise that there are lack of resources to manage that system. Mr Speaker, with these few words, I thank you for the opportunity.
Let me advise against repetition, because we have a lot of work to do.
Mr Speaker, I beg to support the Motion, that this Honourable House approves the sum of GH¢367,487,428.00 for the services of the Ministry of Communications for the year ending 31st December, 2017. Mr Speaker, I would particularly address a couple of issues. First, is the issue of the digital terrestrial television migration programme, which the Ministry seeks to undertake and the allocations thereof. Mr Speaker, the Ministry used to have incorporated within it the Ministry of Information until the recent separation. We just approved the estimates for the Ministry of Information yesterday, and in doing so, we took judicial notice of some of the issues raised concerning Ghana Broadcasting Corporation. Mr Speaker, we would realise that they are struggling to get a budgetary allocation which would enable them to be ready for digital transition. As it stands, their internal equipment do not have the full complement which would enable them transmit digitally, but because they used to be part of the Ministry of Communications until this year, now that they are not, the two Ministries would need to collaborate to ensure that by the cut-off date, as specified in the Report of 21st September, 2017, not only the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC), but all other broadcasting stations would also be compliant to be able to cut over from the analog to digital transmission because the Ministry intends to switch off analog channels by that date. Mr Speaker, in addition, they should also ensure that citizens of this country, who through no fault of theirs own equipment that can only receive analog signals, have in one way or the other been enabled to be able to receive digital signals. I would therefore, urge the Hon Minister to take that on board. Mr Speaker, the Ministry has a policy objective of promoting rapid development and deployment of the national Information and Communications Technology (ICT) infrastructure. It would seem that this policy effort is being undermined by the insistence of other Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to construct, own and manage their own ICT infrastructure. Mr Speaker, if we look at page 9 of the Report, it talks about an allocation of about GH¢221 million plus which has been allocated to the Ministry, but to be utilised by another entity. This is just one of the several examples across the implementation of the budget of various MDAs and Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs), where each of these entities seek to implement their own ICT solutions. Mr Speaker, not too long ago, the Finance Committee, of which I am a Member, had interaction with the Ministry of Finance on the implementation of the Ghana Integrated Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS), and one of the issues they raised was the fact that they had challenges with regard to the provision of services by the National Information Technology Agency (NITA). For that matter, they were considering going outside the ambit of those solutions provided by NITA to seek third party solutions.
Mr Speaker, all these do not augur very well for the policy objectives of the Ministry of Communications. I would urge the different MDAs and MMDAs to try to align their ICT requirements with the policy objectives of the Ministry. Mr Speaker, while on NITA, it is instructive to note that there is some ambiguity concerning the type of services that NITA provides now. While it is good when we critically examine the law that sets them up, it would seem to us that they sometimes over step in a good way what the law requires of them. Mr Speaker, I would again urge the Hon Minister to cause, possibly, a review of the NITA Act, if she would want this House to strengthen the hand of NITA to be able to undertake even more strongly and on a more positive note, the services that it renders. Mr Speaker, in that case, we could somehow legislate that the services that they provide during the budget considerations are taken from sources, from the MDAs and MMDAs, and allocated directly to NITA, so that they could provide these services very well. Mr Speaker, finally on National Communications Authority (NCA). In the 2016 Budget, it envisaged the raising of revenue by the sale of two blocks of spectrum by the National Communications Authority to the tune of about GH¢ 620 million. These funds were part of the Appropriation Act that was passed by this House. Mr Speaker, in the current Budget, it would seem that there was no effort at all in this regard. This is because when we look at the 2017 Budget, and we look under the projection for 2016, we have collections of zero in that line item. It is on page 192 of the 2017 Budget. Mr Speaker, if we look against NCA (sale of spectrum), we have GH¢620,000 under projections under 2016; under retention we have nothing, under lodgement, we have nothing and under collections, nothing. Mr Speaker, however, we all know that last year the NCA sold one block of spectrum at a price of US$67.5 million. Why this figure was not reported in the Budget as a collection, I do not know. Clearly, what it means is that, this has undermined the reporting of the fundamentals of the economy to the country. Mr Speaker, secondly, as we have been working on the budgetary estimates of various MDAs, the common cry one would hear is that last year, the Budget gave an allocation of “x”, but only “y” out of the allocation of “x” was released, and why not? Mr Speaker, when we have one State agency selling one block of spectrum for US$67,500 million and do not lodge it in the Consolidated Fund account - then clearly, those funds which were envisaged by the Budget of 2016 to make those funds available for releases to various MDAs would not be available, and I am wondering exactly how these moneys were expended.
Hon Member, your Hon Colleague is on his feet.
Mr Speaker, I ordinarily would not rise when my Hon Colleague is speaking, but he is making a very serious allegation, and I think he should provide us with further details. Mr Speaker, it is only Parliament that has the power to appropriate. Last year, what we said was that the Ministry of Finance should raise that equivalent of money to support the Budget. Mr Speaker, the Hon Member alleges that the money was raised, but it did not go to the Budget, and it is not known where it is. That is what I am hearing. He said the US$67.5 million not cedis. Mr Speaker, we should all be very concerned. I hope that either the Hon Minister for Finance or the Hon Minister for Communications can provide us with further and better particulars. Otherwise, this House should pursue this matter further, or maybe, we should stand this down and have them find a way of giving us more information because it is serious. Mr Speaker, I read page 192, and I can confirm what the Hon Member says, but it cannot be that the money has disappeared. This Budget must tell us where it is. It is not here. Mr Speaker, this is very serious and I need your guidance - the allegation that the Cabinet has taken over Parliament's function is even worse, that Cabinet can usurp the authority of this august House is even worse. It is frightening, I am very concerned, and I need your guidance as to how we would treat this matter.
Hon Member, I just took note of it, and I was going to issue some directives in that direction. First, I would have asked the Committee to tell us what they did when they discovered this at the Committee meeting, and then from there we would see what other directives to issue. They are really serious allegations because I looked at it myself and I noted it down; the allegations went to the extent of indicting the previous Cabinet. It is important for us to know that Cabinets are just advisory bodies. The Cabinet does not take decisions, they advise. It is in the Constitution. I would be giving some directives, but you need to give us further and better particulars in this matter. As I am told, the Hon Vice Chairman of the Committee, I am sure you would have more information on that, and what you are saying too is not captured in the Report, except the Budget Statement which you referred us to. So please, kindly guide the House to take a decision since you have raised the issue. It is a serious matter. Hon Chairman of Committee, do you want to bail him out?
Hon Member, did I hear you say “yeah”? I asked a question -- “do you want to bail him out?” Then you said “yeah.”
Mr Speaker, I did not hear your question well but because you directed it to me, I was going to give you the information. If it is the Hon Vice Chairman, then I would let him go ahead.
What were you rising on? On a point of clarification?
So that is why we had to seek—
I thought you were directing it to the Hon Chairman of the Committee.
I was not directing it to the Hon Chairman of the Committee.
I wanted him to land, and then we can dig deeper into the issue.
Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Hon Deputy Minority Whip?
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. The Hon Member on the other side is the Hon Vice Chairman for the Committee on Communications, and I know the former Hon Ranking Member on the Finance Committee has made a very good appeal. These issues were moved by the Committee to engage the National Communications Authority (NCA), and there were opinions that the NCA's Budget Estimates does not come to the Committee. Therefore, we could not get access to the NCA. If in the opinion of the Hon Vice Chairman these issues, though are not in the Report, are to be raised here, the Hon Minister is here, the Hon Chairman of the Committee on Communications is also here and the NCA is here. These are serious issues raised, we must give audience to the NCA to meet the Committee on Communications to explain their version. This is because as it is now, they do not have audience here, and these issues, even though are not in the Report, because the Committee on Communications could not meet them, are now raised here. Mr Speaker, so I think we should go by the appeal of the former Hon Ranking Member for the Committee on Finance to stand it down, and invite the NCA to come and explain their part of the story. That is my wish, Mr Speaker. Thank you very much.
We have not reached there yet. Let him give us the information that he has; then from there, we could move on to see whether to approve, and whether to refer the Report back to the Committee to go and reconsider that issue and re-submit it to the House for consideration. So, let us allow him to continue.
Hon Members, in Parliamentary practice, point of order on point of order is allowed, but when it is extended beyond its limit, it confuses the debate. Unless the issue you want to raise is critical, kindly allow him to continue; but maybe, you have something to tell us.
Mr Speaker, I would not ordinarily be making noise when it is not relevant. It is not really a point of order on a point of order. Mr Speaker, it is for your attention to be drawn to the fact that senior Hon Members of the House must speak appropriately and in accordance with our rules. The Standing Orders make it pretty clear that specific individuals are to be addressed by their portfolios. We do have an Hon Minister in this House who should know better, but keeps referring to him by his previous portfolio or whatever; the former Hon Ranking Member of Committee on Finance or whatever. For Christ's sake, Mr Speaker, if the -- [Interruptions] --[Laughter] -- Sorry, what did he say?
I did not hear.
What did he say he would do? Mr Speaker, I am drawing his attention to the fact that he needs to recognise the fact that the Hon Member for Old Tafo is an Hon Minister, and he must accordingly be referred to by his proper designation and not as former Hon Ranking Member of the Committee on Finance.
Hon K. T. Hammond, you are right. Can we continue?
Thank you Mr Speaker. Clearly, the issue I am raising would not stop us from approving the Report of the Committee. Mr Speaker, but the good news is that I am sandwiched between the Hon Minister for Finance and the Hon Minister for Communications. Unfortunately, for the particular issue I am raising, these two personalities were not the persons in office at the time. Mr Speaker, as I have stated earlier, it was brought to my notice that the then Cabinet instructed the NCA to utilise the funds for some other purpose other than what the Appropriation Act specified those funds to be used for. That is the explanation I was given when I sought answers for this anomaly. Mr Speaker, it does not lie with just me, but as I have indicated, it would not stop us from approving this Report. This is because the NCA is not subvented, so they do not have their Estimates addressed in this Report. However, it does not also mean that the issue has to be swept under the carpet. That was why I used this opportunity to raise it, so that the Chair would issue the appropriate directives for this House to delve further into this matter either through this Committee or Joint Committee of this House, be it Committee on Communications and Committee on Finance, to look at the matter properly and bring its findings to the floor. This is so that the House can, by some resolution, make a pronouncement on this matter.
Yes, Hon Member?
Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order, Order 90 and also to seek some clearance on the issue the Hon Member is —
Sorry, do you want to contribute?
No, I want to make a brief contribution.
So, you would wait, until he completes his submission.
Mr Speaker, I would want to seek clarity on the issue that he is raising.
Do you want to seek clarity from him?
Yes, Mr Speaker. I mean relevance. Mr Speaker, this is because yesterday, I know an Hon Colleague on this side tried to talk to an issue that was outside the Report when the Report of the Roads and Transport Committee with regard to Aviation was put before the House. Mr Speaker, it was considered not acceptable because that issue was outside the Report. Today, I feel that we need to be consistent and, at least, quite balanced in the way we subject ourselves to these debates. This is because I understand that what the Hon Member is talking about is not part of the Report, and he seems not to even have the right information. Yet, we subject ourselves to listening to issues that were not raised in that Report. Mr Speaker, I would want to seek clarity on whether if we, on my side of the aisle; would want to raise issues that are not in a Report, it is considered reasonable or unreasonable but when the other side of the aisle raises issues that are not in a Report, we are subjected to listen to them. This is because what the Hon Minister talked about is not in the Committee's Report.
Hon Member, the guidance is that it is left to the Hon Members of Parliament to raise a point of order appropriately. If you would go through our Standing Orders, you would have to give the Order you would rely on, and draw our attention that a particular issue is not relevant and that it is not part of the issue that is being discussed -- then the Rt Hon Speaker would rule on it. The Hon Member talked on the NCA, which happened to be part of the Agencies under the Ministry of Communications. We are looking at their budget allocation, so we would have to look at revenue, see whether it accrued, and whether it was recorded. I would want to ask the Committee whether they drew the attention of the House to this issue when the Budget Statement was approved. [Interruption.] -- It meant that it was an oversight. At that time, the Hon Minister could have assisted us to see whether what the Hon Member said was true or not. It has now been belatedly discovered. I would direct the Committee to look further into this issue, and to report back to this House. This is because it is on record as to what the true situation was. This is because we cannot just take the Hon Member's word as the gospel truth. The issue has to be investigated and reported to this House. That is my directive, unless the Hon Minister has the information to clarify the situation.
Mr Speaker, when I assumed office -- and what was in the handing over notes was that, as part of Government's drive to implement the Digital Terrestrial Migration within the stipulated time, and in view of the funding constraints, which came about because of the abrogation of the contract with Star Times and the funding provided by the China EXIM Bank, the Government had to find resources from other sources to build the Digital Terrestrial Infrastructure which would facilitate the migration process. So, the Government took the decision that the proceeds from the sale of the Spectrum should be allocated to the Digital Terrestrial Television Infrastruc- ture, and that was what was done. That was in the handing over notes and that was what we inherited. So, the Spectrum was indeed sold, and the proceeds were put in escrow. They were ultimately used for the financing of the construction of the Digital Migration Infrastructure. As to whether it was properly done, in view of the Appropriations process for the 2016 Budget Statement, I would leave that for the determination of this House. Mr Speaker, this was what the proceeds of the sale of the Spectrum was applied to by the previous Administration. I have already instructed the NCA to meet the Committee at a later date to assist it to come to some resolution on this matter. This is because it is a matter that raises some concerns in the minds of everyone as to the proper use of the funds allocated by Parliament, and whether the Executive has the power to reallocate funds that have already been appropriated by this House. Mr Speaker, with the indulgence of this House, at a later date, the NCA would meet the Committee and dwell in-depth on the processes for the utilisation of these funds, and the Report would be submitted to this House.
I eavesdroped that the Hon Vice Chairman of the Committee said he has some more information to give on this matter. Hon Vice Chairman, what is the further information? [Interruption] -- You would want the Hon Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation to -- Hon Vice Chairman, we are not in a conversation; we are in a debate, so please -- Yes, Hon Minister?
Mr Speaker, you asked the Committee to revisit the matter. There is a small problem, and I would need your guidance. [Interruption] -- yes, I am giving an information. Mr Speaker, I am fully aware that the previous Parliament approved that Appropriation as revenue. Unfortunately, the former Hon Ministers for Communication and Finance are not in the House, so who would the Committee invite? Would it be the previous Hon Ministers or the current Hon Ministers? This is because I believe the International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme had that and that was why it reflected in this Budget Statement that they would raise GH¢620,000. Mr Speaker, how would we get the previous Hon Minister for Finance and -- [Interruption] -- I believe a joint referral would be in order because of the financial implications. This is because we met with the Ministry of Finance at that time on the IMF programme, and that was why I knew that amount was programmed in the Budget Statement as divestiture receipts.
Hon Member, I do not believe we would need to go that far to talk about the IMF programme. An allegation has been made specifically about the generation of revenue by an Agency under the Ministry of Communications. The allegation went further to say that revenue could not be located. The Hon Minister for Communications has given us an indication as to what happened, which raises some legal issues that affect the authority of this House, which we would go into. The issue of IMF and the others are different. Hon Members, let us be very careful about our privileges. That is why we have Standing Order 30. So, anytime you make allegations, which are likely to breach a privilege, that is where deliberate misleading comes in; you trigger a process of contempt. If that issue cropped up at the Committee meeting and the Committee felt that it was a strong issue, it would have been captured in its Report. Hon Members, that does not preclude individual members from disagreeing with the Committee and raising it on the floor of the House. What the Hon Member could have done was to draw our attention to it, and to call on us to delve further into the issue. But some of the allegations, to say the least, were quite sweeping and startling. Hon Member for Suhum, be guided and make the presentation. At the end of the day, I would definitely direct the Committee to delve further into the issue. I would want to draw your attention to the fact that the Committees of Parliament have the powers of the High Court in specified areas, which include summoning of witnesses. So, we can summon any person, even from Mars, to appear before the Committee and to so testify on an issue pending before it. So, it is not only the current Hon Minister or officials. The Hon Ministers of the former regime are still available, and they can be summoned to appear before the Committee. So, can you please conclude with your submission, and I will give the directives at the end of the debate.
Mr Speaker, I do take note of your cautions and directions. This is just to emphasise that at the last time I checked in school, we were yet to prove that there were humans on Mars; but I take your guidance.
That is figurative speaking. I am sure you understand that.
Mr Speaker, yes. That was just an aside.
That was to tell you how powerful the Committee is.
Mr Speaker, I understand so. Mr Speaker, I have the 2016 and the 2017 Budget Statements here with me. In both Budget Statements, it is clear that Government expected to generate some revenue from the sale of a block of spectrum, which the 2016 Budget Statement as approved contained. In that Budget Statement, the Agency of State mandated to execute that budget line was required to lodge a 100 per cent of sale in the accounts of Government.
We have actually gone beyond that. The issue has now been narrowed. As to the generation of the revenue, it has been clarified by the Hon Minister for Communications.
Mr Speaker precisely.
As to the application of the revenue, she has so stated. The issue is now as to whether Cabinet or the Executive have the power and authority to vary the decision of Parliament without reference to Parliament.
Mr Speaker, that was the original point that I raised — [Uproar.]
Hon Members, Order!
Mr Speaker, I said that when we look at page 192 of the 2017 Budget Statement, although we know for a fact that National Communications Authority (NCA) did sell a block of spectrum, we cannot trace those funds in the Budget Statement that is reporting the outturn of 2016 in the 2017 Budget — [Interruptions] Mr Speaker, I then went further to explain —
Hon Members, we do not need to raise heads on this issue. Hon Member, I think it is true that the initial impression you created went beyond what you are now saying. In fact, that is why we have transition with handing over notes with the Hon Ministers. So, this matter should have been crosschecked from the current Hon Minister. What she has now done, really, if she had not intervened, I personally would have had the view that the money was generated, but has not been accounted for. That was the initial thrust of your submission. That is why I drew your attention to Standing Order 30, and the implications of deliberately misleading the House. But I said you are lucky, and I want to emphasise that the intervention of the Hon Minister has at least removed you from that ambit. I said you should conclude and let us move on.
Mr Speaker, the Hansard would bear me out that I was the first to raise the issue of how the funds were purported to have been utilised. [Uproar.] I was informed when I inquired. So, I never sought to create a certain impression of not being able to trace the usage of the funds. Mr Speaker, I raised the issue as to the authority with which the Executive decided to vary the Appropriations Act as passed by this House. Mr Speaker, in conclusion, I would like to urge the Committee to take up your directive and do due diligence, possibly assisted by other Committees of this House; possibly the Finance Committee and the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, to be able
Mr Speaker, I am very grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the Budget Estimates, where the Ministry intends to apply the allocation of GH¢367,487,428 for its services in 2017. Mr Speaker, I am also minded by the very important education you just gave us on Standing Order 30. I am grateful to the Hon Minister for Communications for whipping the de facto Minister for Communications in line. This is because, he was taking us down a very wrong path. [Interruption] — I mean the Hon Vice Chairman of the Committee on Communications.
Ekuful — rose
Mr Speaker, I am not sure that I heard the Hon Member referred to somebody as a de facto Minister for Communications.
What did he say? — That you are a de facto Hon Minister for Communications?
Mr Speaker, he referred to someone else in the Chamber as the de facto Minister for Communications. I would want to inform him that I am de facto and de jury Hon Minister for Communications.
Yes, it is a fact, and that fact has legitimacy. So she is both de facto and de jury — [Hear! Hear!] Hon Member, please continue.
Mr Speaker, it must be made clear that on the issues that have been raised with regard to the sale of spectrum, we have gotten clarity from the Hon Minister. Mr Speaker, but the point must be made that the Minister for Finance can even shed more light — because Government is a continue —This is because the full receipts from the sale of spectrum were not utilised on the digital transmission infrastructure. Mr Speaker, part of that revenue is sitting in an escrow account. So the Ministry of Finance can actually still tell us how much of that money is left. Mr Speaker, on the Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) issue, it is important that we bear in mind the cut-off date for analogue television, which is 21 st September, 2017. Mr Speaker, as an Hon Member of the Committee, I am quite passionate about the fact that a good number of Ghanaians would not have digital televisions in their homes by 21st September, 2017. Which means that a large chunk of Ghanaian homes are going to be cut-off from accessing any kind of information using television. That is why the previous government, as part of its reallocation, based on a Cabinet memo of 4th May, 2015, set aside some money from the sale of spectrum for the purchase of 1 million setup boxes for the most impoverished in our society. We could have used the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) database to serve that purpose. The Budget Statement is silent on that, and the Report is also silent on that. We do not see any actualisation towards the purchase of 1 million setup boxes for the most impoverished and deprived in society. Which means that there is a possible risk that is close to a million --
Hon Members, let us not start debating this issue of generation of revenue and other matters. Let us debate the Budget Estimates of the Ministry of Communications. I would direct the Committee to go back and look into that issue and report back to the House.
Mr Speaker, thank you. Mr Speaker, on the Budget Estimates of the Ministry of Communications, we realised that the Ministry would want to proceed --
Yes, Hon Vice Chairman of the Committee?
Mr Speaker, he is an Hon Member of the Committee. He is very aware that at the Committee, we never discussed the setup boxes and how -- [Interruptions] -- I did not say we discussed sale of spectrum.
Hon Member, please resume your seat. Hon Members would appreciate the reason I sometimes apply the rules to the letter. When you are debating such an issue, it is not a matter of conversation. So, the Hon Member is completely out of order, please. Hon George, you would continue with your submissions. I think I would give you two more minutes to conclude.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, it is a very important issue that my Hon Chairman raised on National Information Technology Agency (NITA), and the fact that Agencies of State have benefited from services of NITA and not paid for it. The Hon Member asked for reference in our Report, and I would just want to draw his attention to the last four lines of paragraph 9.3.2.
“NITA is facing a similar challenge with regard to services rendered to MMDAs. Currently, a total amount of GH¢1,646,892.50 is owed NITA by about ninety government agencies and institutions for services rendered to them”. This specifies how much is owed to NITA for services rendered to ninety Government Agencies. So, our Report duly captured that, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, moving to the National Identification Authority (NIA), we realised that a chunk of the Ministry's Budget in excess of about GH¢112 million, has been allocated to the NIA. I have consulted
Hon Member, you take so many things for granted. So, when you make such sweeping statements -- if GH¢25 million was made available to the country two years ago and it was captured in the 2016 Budget Statement, but the government could not draw down on it, who told you that is still available for the country? That is the reason when you do not have these issues captured in the Report, it becomes difficult for us to go deeper into it. This is not the time for us to be directing Committees to go back and investigate issues which are not germane to the debate and approval of Budget Estimates. So, let us please stick to the Motion before us. If the Committee later feels that these are matters to be taken on, they are at liberty to investigate them and report to us.
Mr Speaker, I take your advice on board. Mr Speaker, however, the World Bank Fund is part of an e-transform programme that is still ongoing. That is the reason I would love to just draw the attention of the Hon Minister for Finance to check on it. Mr Speaker, again on NITA, an amount of GH¢873,544 has been allocated for its entire operations. However, when we engaged with NITA, we were made aware that for the fuelling and running of NITA's 120 LT- Base Stations, it would cost them over GH¢1.2 million. So it means the entirety of NITA's allocation cannot even fuel their 120 LT Base Stations. NITA would hence need IGF to be able to make itself functional and competitive on an already competitive market. The only way NITA can do that is by commercialisation and drawing down on its IGF. Mr Speaker, again, NITA is saddled with debt from the construction of the data centre that the Ministry of Finance has on-lent to NITA. Yet, in the Budget allocation on page 192 -- the tax revenues -- NITA's IGF retention from 100 per cent has dropped to zero per cent. So, the question then becomes, how does NITA survive in the light of this gross decapitation of its IGF retention? Where the entire amount allocated to NITA for all of its activities cannot even power its Base Stations, and we are taking away the IGF. How then does NITA even service the loan that it owes the Ministry of Finance? That is practically impossible. Mr Speaker, so, we would want to make a plea as it has been the case with other Ministries, to the Hon Minister for Finance --
Yes, Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, the Hon Member is making some fine points even though I disagree with him in some of the areas.
Mr Speaker, if NITA had even been left with 66 per cent, I would have called it a net decapitation, but zero per cent is gross decapitation. Mr Speaker, we would want to plead with the Hon Minister for Finance that he would reconsider --
I can see the Hon Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation on his feet.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Member referred us to page 192 of the Budget Statement. Mr Speaker, 2017 projections for NITA -- collection is 4.237; retention -- 4.237 -- how can that be zero per cent? That is a 100 per cent. So, what is the Hon Member telling us? Mr Speaker, the Hon Member is misleading the House.
Hon Member, the Hon Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation is looking at the first column, where we have “Retention”, “Existing” and “New”. [Interruption.]
Mr Speaker, that is for the year 2016.
No please; it is not for the year 2016. It means the intention is that the existing retention is 100 per cent, and new retention is zero. That is what the Hon Member is referring to. But now, when we look at the year 2017 Budget Statement projections; January to December, look at “Retention, Lodgement and Collection; that is what the Hon Minister is referring to. [Interruption.] Yes, that is what I have just referred to. So, the fact that, as I keep saying, you are right, does not mean I am wrong. We are looking at one issue from different perspectives. He is looking at it from the projections of the year 2017 and then Hon Samuel N. George is looking at it at the Retention column. Yes, please continue.
Mr Speaker, thank you. So, we would want to plead with the Hon Minister for Finance that in the event that he would come back to Parliament with a mid-year review, he would look at National Information Technology Agency (NITA) in particular. This is because NITA holds strong -- the entire infrastructure --
Hon Member, please we have the Hon Minister for Finance with us. Hon Minister for Finance, have you given any indication in the Budget that there would be a mid-year review? [Laughter] --This is because I hear Hon Members referring to mid-year and pushing a lot of things on that review. I just want us to know.
Is there the mid-year review?
Mr Speaker, no. We passed a law last year that requires the Hon Minister for Finance to come and he does not have a choice. [Pause] Mr Speaker, you said Hon Minister [Interruption] --
I was very specific. I said the Hon Minister for Finance but the question was in respect of mid-year review which could be different from a Supplementary Budget Estimates. So, I was talking about mid-year review.
Mr Speaker, I believe that my Hon Colleague really wanted to talk about Supplementary Budget but I hear the Hon Deputy Minority leader saying that it usually comes, -- there is a distinction. He is talking about the Hon Minister for Finance having to come by mid-year review, that is an obligation but if he is talking about his Supplementary Budget Estimates, he should tell us. The Hon Minister for Finance has not given any indication that he is coming by a Supplementary Budget Estimates but if he is making an appeal that given the circumstances, he may have to do that, he should say so.
Thank you very much, Hon Minister. Looking at the Budget I could only conclude that it is pregnant with a Supplementary --
Please, Hon Members, let us proceed with the debate on the Motion. I am going to apply the rules strictly. So, Hon Member, conclude.
Mr Speaker, thank you. The Hon Minister police should stop bullying the Hon Minister for Finance --
Hon Member --
On the issue --
Hon Member, please, you are to address the Chair.
Mr Speaker, well noted. [Laughter.] --
Mr Speaker, in conclusion, it is extremely important that the Hon Minister for Finance takes cognisance of these issues of IGF retention. This is because another key Agency under the Ministry of Communications is the Ghana- India Kofi Annan Center of Excellence in Information and Communication Technology (ICT). They have also had their Internally Generated Fund (IGF) cut from 100 per cent to zero per cent and their light bill for a month is almost a quarter of their entire allocation. So, we would plead that the Hon Minister would consider supporting the Ministry of Communications with Supplementary Budget Estimates for the Agencies under to run.
Let me first listen to the Hon Minister for Finance if he has something to say. Then the Hon Minister for Communications would wind up.
I am not compelling you but if you have something to say -- this is because a lot of issues were raised and it looks like you are the authority here to let those issues come to rest.
Mr Speaker, thank you.
Hon Minister, I am finding it difficult to hear you.
Mr Speaker, thank you very much. The PFM Act, 2016, Act 921 makes it quite clear the responsibilities of a mid-year review. Clause 28(1): “The Minister shall, not later than the 31st of July of each financial year, prepare and submit to Parliament a mid-year fiscal policy review”. Mr Speaker, we would surely meet that responsibility.
Hon Members, so, that Act is dealing with mid- year review and not Supplementary Budget Estimates but the call actually -- even though, they referred to mid-year, is always talking about Supplementary Budget Estimates. So, we should be guided by this information.
Mr Speaker, I am grateful to Hon Members for this very active debate on our Budget. There are a few issues which have been raised that I would want to re-assure the House on. The identity cards which would be issued by the National Identification Authority hopefully by the end of this year would be smart identity cards which would be based on one national database. We would unify all the databases currently existing and make it easy for people to access those services with the use of that card and give effect to the law which mandates everyone to have a national identity to be able to access public and private services. Mr Speaker, it is important that we resource the Agencies of the Ministry of Communications to be able to undertake their mandate. This is because increasingly, we are becoming an interconnected world and it is the Ministry which is driving the increasing use of technology to enhance the way we live and work. To do that, we need to be adequately resourced to be able to undertake our responsibilities and I am grateful for the interest in our Budget, however, I would also urge the Hon Minister for Finance to take a second look at making it possible and for the whole House to also consider facilitating the establishment of an information technology (IT) class within the public services which would manage the infrastructure that the government is investing in. Without the requisite manpower which has the expertise to manage those resources, we run the risk of investing in infrastructure and having it run down because of our poor maintenance culture which would be throwing good money after bad. If we could build our institutions well, the institutions would also serve us well. Our institutions are really crying out for the allocation of adequate resources to be enabled to perform our mandate. Mr Speaker, NITA would this year complete its commercialisation of some of its infrastructure which would give it the needed resources to take care of things such as the powering and the management of the base stations.
Hon Minister for? What is your Ministry? [Laughter.] Are you still the Hon Chairman of the Committee on Finance? Are you on a point of order?
Mr Speaker, I want some clarification from the Hon Minister. The Hon Minister in winding up said that National Information Technology Agency (NITA) would complete their commercialisation this year but the Internally Generated Fund (IGF) retention for NITA is 0 per cent. So, regardless of their commercialisation, they cannot spend the moneys that they would generate. So, I want the Hon Minister to take note of that.
Mr Speaker, that is where I was heading -- that even though they have the infrastructure and they are well on their way to maximising the use of that infrastructure, the Hon Minister for Finance should be mindful of the fact that without the effective performance of NITA, none of the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) would be able to perform effectively. We are moving towards e-governance, e-services, e-payments and we have an e- payment platform which in its management is also a bit problematic. The bottom line is that we would need to build our institutions and properly equip them so that they would be able to deliver on their mandate and provide the quality of services that we require from them. Mr Speaker, I cannot over-emphasise the fact that the effective functioning of the Ministry of Communications and its agencies would inure to the benefit of the country as a whole. So, while we are moving for greater uptake of technology in the way we do things, we need to see that the agencies of the Ministry have a very key role to play in that drive. So, I am grateful that the interest generated -- and I am happy that the Hon Minister for Finance is here and we have had several conversations and we would continue to have those conversations. So, I am hopeful that in the next Budget Statement that would be presented to this House, adequate resources would be provided by the Government of the day for the effective functioning of the Ministry of Communications and its agencies. As a member of this Government, I would continue to advocate for the proper resourcing of the Ministry and it agencies. Mr Speaker, with that I beg to move that this House approves the Estimates for my Ministry --
Hon Minister, before you land kindly address the issue raised in paragraph 9.1.1 of the Report.
Mr Speaker, the Ministry is currently overseeing the implementation of the National Identification Project --
Yes, that is the issue. This is because it is said to be under the Ministry of National Security but that huge sum of money has been put in your Budget Estimates. It is under the Ministry of Communications and it is giving an impression that the budget for the Ministry of Communications is that good. How come it is not being put under the Ministry of National Security?
Mr Speaker, the National Security Communications Enhancement Network is currently being implemented by the Ministry of Communications because at the time the project began there was no Ministry for National Security to take responsibility for that at the time. So, it was put in the ambit of the Ministry of Communications which has been overseeing the disbursement of that facility for the construction of that security programme for the National Security Project. Mr Speaker, it also raises concerns about the duplication of functions and the siting of IT projects in many MDAs outside the oversight control of the Ministry of Communications which is the sector Ministry in charge of Information Communication Technology in this country. It is important that every MDA which desires to use technology to enhance its operations collaborates with the Ministry of Communications and the agencies under it that have the expertise and the technical know-how to assist them even in the kind of systems that they acquire. Mr Speaker, in moving towards that, we would come to the House shortly with a Legislative Instrument which would guide the effective operationalisation of the Electronic Communications Act and make NITA the proper regulatory agency for all communications and electronic transactions including digital financial services in this country. The Ministry of Communications has to be central in that. We are seeing moneys being allocated for projects sited in other ministries and other agencies which the Ministry, properly so called, does not have oversight. However, I could report quite happily that the Ministry of National Security is collaborating with the Ministry of Communications to oversee these and other cyber security enhancement projects because as we use more technology, we expose ourselves to more dangers in cyber space. We cannot work in silos; we cannot say that this is the territory of the Ministry of Communications or this is a pure issue of the Ministry of National Security and so we would work to the exclusion of the other agencies that have expertise in that area.
Mr Speaker, if we could bring the matter on the consideration of the Bill to a closure by moving the Motion captured as item numbered 7 on page 6 of today's Order Paper.
Hon Majority Leader, my instructions are to take the Annual Estimates. However, you are now talking about the Earmarked Funds Capping and Realignment Bill, 2017.
Mr Speaker, yesterday, we engaged in serious winnowing and found common grounds, so we agreed to finish the Consideration Stage and the various processes and bring a closure to the consideration today. This is why we have finished everything up to be able take the Motion numbered as item 7. We would take item numbered 8, conclude it and do the motion on the estimates for the Ministry of Food and Agriculture. Mr Speaker, I think that should not take us more than two to three minutes.
I would need a copy of the Bill. It is not before me. I also need to know of where we got to at the Consideration Stage, which of the clauses. You have finished with all the clauses, and so we are now left with the item numbered as 7?
Mr Speaker, that is so. Hon Minister for Finance?
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that notwithstanding the provisions of Standing Order 131(1) which require that when a Bill has passed through the Consideration Stage, the Third Reading thereof shall not be taken until at least twenty-four hours have elapsed, the Motion for the Third Reading of the Earmarked Funds Capping and Realigment Bill, 2017, may be moved today.
It is a procedural motion. Any seconder?
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion. Question put and Motion agreed to.
BILLS -- THIRD READING
Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, we would now take Motion numbered 8, captured as item numbered 14.
Item numbered 14, Hon Minister for Food and Agriculture? [Pause.] Hon Minister, do you need more time so that we could go to another item?
Mr Speaker, I beg to move that this Honourable House approves the sum of GH¢759,676,342 for the services of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture for the year ending 31st December, 2017. Question Proposed Vice Chairman of the Committee (Mr Kwame Asafu-Adjei on behalf of the
Mr Speaker, I beg to support the Motion. Mr Speaker, with your permission, I would like to repeat. It should read: “a. Minister for Food and Agriculture, Hon Owusu Afriyie Akoto”.
So, are we being called upon to delete “Osei”?
Mr Speaker, it is rightly so. And add “Owusu”.
And add “Owusu” between “Hon” and “Afriyie”?
Yes, it is so.
Is that all?
Is he not a doctor?
Mr Speaker, he is Hon (Dr) Owusu Afriyie Akoto.
Hon Member, I do not award doctorate degrees. I just asked a simple question. Is he a doctor?
Mr Speaker, yes, he is a doctor. Mr Speaker, I would like to draw your attention to “Overlapping debts of the Ministry”, paragraph 4.2, page 11 of the Report. The huge carry on debt should read as “deficit”.
Hon Vice Chairman, the figure was corrected by you to read as, GH¢102 million. That was in the first statement, you mentioned “102”, so I changed the “8” to “0”. Are you now saying it is 182?
Mr Speaker, the figure is correct. What I am changing is “huge carry on debt”. I want the “huge carry on debt” to read as “deficit of GH¢182,814,220”.
Very well, noted.
Mr Speaker, I would like to draw your attention to an observation, that for the first time in the history -- [Pause.]
You would like to draw my attention to a first- time history? Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, still on the same paragraph, because it is now corrected, “huge carry on debt”, he has deleted it and substituted with “deficit”. Now the fourth line in that same paragraph, we have the word “debt”, should that also read as “deficit”?
Hon Vice Chairman, you are not in a conversation with the Hon Majority Leader. He has raised the issue for the House, so please respond.
Mr Speaker, I am saying instead of the “debt”, I would like it to read as “deficit”.
You want the House to understand that, in that paragraph the reference is to “deficit”, not an overlapping “debt”. Is that the case?
Mr Speaker, that is the case.
So we should consequentially amend all the words “debt” and substitute them with “deficit”? That is in paragraph 4.2, and so the headnote would read, “Deficit of the Ministry”.
Yes, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Vice Chairman has to be very careful. He should let us know whether it is debt or deficit, because accumulated deficits lead to huge debts. Mr Speaker, if you go and read further, it appears that it is an accumulation of deficits which has resulted in a huge debt stock. One is a flow; one is a stock. He must be clear about what he is telling us, because the consequences are different. Mr Speaker, when I read, I get the impression that it is an accumulation of deficits. That would lead to a debt over a period of time as of 2016, so the Ministry has agreed to wipe out that stock of debt, not the deficit. He must be clear. It is confusing.
Hon Vice Chairman, I believe you lived and worked in the United States of America.
Mr Speaker, this is what I am saying --
I asked, because his language might be different from your language. That is why I asked.
Mr Speaker, they did not purchase goods and services, but they overspent. That was in 2016.
Please, just second the Motion; Hon Members of the Committee would assist us, because I find it difficult to understand what you said now.
Mr Speaker, I have already seconded the Motion and I am about to present the Report. Introduction The Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the Government of Ghana for the year ending 31st December, 2017 was presented to Parliament, by the Minister for Finance, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta in accordance with article 179 of the 1992 Constitution. Pursuant to Standing Orders 140(4) and 176, Mr Speaker referred the Estimates of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture to the Committee on Food, Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs for consideration and report to the House. Deliberations Mr Speaker, the Committee met for two days and examined the draft Estimates of the Ministry. Present at the meeting were the following: a. Minister for Food and Agriculture, Hon Owusu Afriyie Akoto; b. The Chief Director of the Ministry, Mr B. K. Gyasi; b. Directors and Project Co- ordinators of the following Directorates and Projects: i. Human Resource Development and Management Directorate; ii. Crop Services Directorate; iii. Ghana Irrigation Development Authority; iv. Grains and Legumes Develop- ment Board; v. Plant Protection and Regulatory Services Directorate; vi. Women in Agricultural Development (WIAD); vii. Veterinary Services Directorate; viii. Animal Production Directorate;
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. The Ministry of Food and Agriculture was allocated an amount of GH¢759 million, or a little above that. In 2016, the Ministry was allocated GH¢501 million. Mr Speaker, in 2016, donors provided 35 per cent, out of the GH¢501 million. This year, out of the GH¢759 million the donor component is around 49.1 per cent. This indicates that the budget is depending on donor support. If we are not careful and then the donors fail us, it would mean that the agriculture sector, which is supposed to be the backbone of our economy and which employs close to 44.7 per cent of the total work force, would have a lot of challenges that can affect the entire economy.
On a point of order. Mr Speaker, the point raised by my Hon Colleague is very germane. However, that statement should be predicated on the trend analysis. What has been the performance of donor support, before he arrives at that conclusion? Let us get to know the trend, that perhaps over time they have not been performing. Then he can raise that point. He cannot just say “if they do not perform”. If it is not informed by any trend analysis it would be very pedestrian to make that statement in the first place.
Hon Majority Leader, I think you should have allowed him to conclude for us to see whether he was actually going the way you have proposed or he was not.
Mr Speaker, the way he was dangling in the air, if we had allowed him, he would have crash- landed. [Laughter] -- I guess it was a preventive action to salvage him.
Hon Member, you should continue.
Mr Speaker, our revered Hon Majority Leader is describing my argument as pedestrian. Mr Speaker, it is however important for all of us to make sure that we do whatever we say. We have all been chorusing this all over the country --
Hon Member, the Hon Majority Leader is on his feet, so please let us listen to him.
Mr Speaker, I would want to believe that my Hon Colleague listened well to what I said. I said that, if it is not informed by any trend analysis, then for him to just make that statement would amount to a pedestrian discourse. Mr Speaker, I said that, he should predicate it on the trend, on what the performance has been. I just did not say that what he had said was pedestrian. He should quote me properly.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I said that 49.1 per cent of the total allocation to the Ministry is to come from donors. The argument is that, we have been chorusing all over the country -- Even when the President appeared before this House, he spoke about a “Ghana beyond aid”. Mr Speaker, we do not want to have a Ghana that would be dependent on donors. So, why do we leave agriculture in the hands of foreigners? This is the argument I am developing. I say that, it is important, because of the critical role agriculture plays in the economy of our country, for us to make enough resources available locally to support agriculture and not to depend on international sources for support for agriculture. That is the issue. Mr Speaker, it is important for us to note that in the Budget Statement, we were told of a policy called “Planting for Food and Jobs”. According to the Hon Minister for Food and Agriculture, this is a programme that is supposed to create close to 750,000 jobs for the youth of our nation. It is a programme that would increase the income of our farmers, it is a programme that is supposed to reduce the import of food into our country. It is a programme that everybody would want to know what would happen with it. Mr Speaker, unfortunately, after scrutinising all the allocations and the various items under which the moneys were going to be used, not a pesewa from the Government of Ghana was allocated for the project. The project is to be funded by donors. Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister for Finance on the 15th of March --
Hon Minister for Agriculture?
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I think my Hon Colleague is misleading this House by the statement that --
Hon Minister for Food and Agriculture, if that is why you are on your feet, then you should resume your seat.
Mr Speaker, the impression being created is that --
Hon Member, I would give you the opportunity to respond to that. Hon Member, please, continue.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker --
My interjection is to let you know that you do not have to use that as the basis for a point of order.
Mr Speaker, on the 15th of March, 2017, the Hon Minister for Finance wrote a letter to the Ministry of Food and Agriculture. Mr Speaker, the letter was about revised funnel ceilings for the preparation of the 2017 Budget Statement. After the presentation of the Budget Statement before this House, the Hon Minister wrote this letter to the Ministry. Mr Speaker, the Minister was very emphatic as to what the money should be used for specifically. That is attached. Mr Speaker, going through it, not a pesewa from the Government of Ghana Funds was allocated to the “Planting for Food and Jobs” programme.
Hon Member, do we have the letter attached to the Report?
Mr Speaker, it is not attached; it is here. I am the Hon Ranking Member of the Committee, so I have a copy of that letter. Mr Speaker, the problem is that, this letter went through the Ministry --
Hon Member, we want the paper to be laid, so that it can be evidence of -- [Interruption.]
Mr Speaker, the entire programme is now dependant on donor funding, especially the Canadian facility. Mr Speaker, but with the Canadian facility, this year, only 18 million Canadian dollars is to be released. Out of the 18 million, about 50 per cent of that money is to be used by the extension officers to buy motorbikes and other equipment to enable them render their services to the farmers. So, how could we rely on this 18 million Canadian dollars to execute a project that is supposed to cost GH¢ 562 million? Mr Speaker, it is also important to note that, an amount of GH¢70 million was allocated in the Budget Statement for the purchase of agricultural inputs. That money is going to the Office of the President. The Ministry has no knowledge as to what this money would be used for, even though it is meant for the purchase of agricultural inputs. Mr Speaker, how could we procure agricultural inputs in this country without the involvement of the relevant sector? We have a whole sector in charge of agriculture --
Hon Member, the Hon Vice Chairman is on his feet.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I am shocked and surprised by the attitude of the Hon Ranking Member, when he says that Ghana Government is not providing a pesewa as its contribution towards this programme.
Hon Member, I would give you the opportunity to react to that. Hon Member, when you make statements that have no documentary proof here, let us know that it was discussed at the Committee level and then add the explanation from the Ministry, else it raises some unnecessary heat in the debate.
Mr Speaker, at the Committee level, we asked the Ministry as to what that allocation to the Office of the Government Machinery is going to be used for and they said that they had no idea as to what that money captured in the Budget Statement for the purchase of agricultural inputs would be used for. Mr Speaker, we have a whole sector in charge of agriculture. In the budget of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, they have a facility for the purchase of agricultural equipment. Mr Speaker, under the Brazilian Credit Facility that was approved by this House, an amount of US$95 million is to be used to procure equipment for agricultural mechanisation in this country. The first tranche was received last year, under which 549 agricultural equipment was received and assembled in this country, and sold to farmers in this country. Mr Speaker, we took delivery of planters, threshers, shellers and even mobile workshop vans. They were 594 and they were distributed to farmers. The second tranche is due this year, and according to the Ministry, they are fully prepared and waiting for that tranche to come, so that they can distribute it to farmers.
Hon Member, I recognise your Hon Colleague on the other side.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, our Hon Colleague is misleading this House. He is quoting some figures that are not within the Ministry of Food and Agriculture's budget. It is not within this budget. Somebody raised questions about how --
Hon Member, please, do not use the opportunity to contribute. If you are on a point of order, raise a point of order.
Mr Speaker, I am not contributing, I am on a point of order. He is misleading the House, he is giving figures that are incorrect.
You know my position on this issue of misleading the House, so please resume your seat.
Mr Speaker, all the figures I have been mentioning here are figures that were made available to us at the Committee level; some of them are also captured in the Budget Statement. If he could point to a specific figure, I could indicate to him the source of—
Hon Member, address the Chair.
Mr Speaker, but it is important for us to indicate that the Ministry of Food and Agriculture has the technical men. They are very capable of delivering the mandate bestowed on them. So, whatever is meant for agriculture, let us give them the opportunity to deliver. Mr Speaker, an amount of GH¢130 million has been earmarked for the purchase of fertilizer under the Fertilizer Subsidy Programme. So, Mr Speaker, if the Ministry has made provision for the purchase of fertilizer —
Yes, Hon Member, are you on a point of order? Please, your Hon Colleague is on his feet.
Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order, Order 93 for the issue of relevance. Mr Speaker, the amount of GH¢70 million, which my Hon Colleague has cited, is not part of this Report that we are discussing on the floor. If he claims that it has been allocated to the Office of the President, then that is fine, but it is not part of the budget for the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, which is under discussion here. Mr Speaker, I believe he must be rightly guided so that he concentrates on the issue of relevance and the issue on the floor. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Hon Member, your Hon Colleague has raised the issue of relevance.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. On page 178 of the Budget Statement, Agricultural Inputs -- Gh¢70 million. Is he saying that, procuring agricultural inputs is not relevant to the Committee of Food, Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs? What kind of relevance is he talking about? It is about agriculture and we are talking about agriculture. So, what is his worry?
Hon Member, you referred us to page 178 of the Budget Statement. -- [Pause] -- What is the item?
Agricultural inputs, item 1, column 4.
Yes, Mr Speaker.
Hon Member, have you seen that column? It is under the Office of Government Machinery.
Mr Speaker, that is my point. We are discussing the budget of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture and not the budget of the Office of Government Machinery. Mr Speaker, the Office of Government Machinery, would have their budget, we are talking about the budget of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs. That is the relevance. --
Hon Member, you may continue.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. Another important point is that, because of seasonality and unreliability of our natural rainfall pattern, it is impossible for us to engage in all-year- farming activities. So, we have seen the need to provide irrigation facilities to enable us produce enough food to feed the people of this country. Mr Speaker, irrigation facilities started long ago in this country. I remember sometime in 1977, there was a decree that established the Ghana Irrigation Development Authority and the decree vested in the Authority the power to formulate, design and ensure that we have irrigation facilities that can irrigate our lands and make sure we produce enough food in this country. Mr Speaker, this year, the Authority has been allocated an amount of GH¢89 million. At the Committee level, we were made to understand that, out of the GH¢89 million, GH¢4 million is meant for Goods and Services and GH¢84 million is to pay for work done which have not been paid for. Some works have been done on some projects, certificates have been raised but they need money to pay. So the GH¢85millon that has been released is to pay for the certificates that are due. Mr Speaker, according to them, that GH¢85 million is not even enough to pay for the certificates that are due. Apart from this, the whole of this year, apart from the payment of the arrears, the Ghana Irrigation Development Authority will not have a pesewa for anything. Mr Speaker, it is surprising, however, to know that an amount of GH¢94 million has been allocated for the “One village, One Dam” policy and the money is going to the Presidency. Meanwhile, the Authority would not have a pesewa for any new project this year. That is the difficulty we have.
I recognise the Hon Majority Leader.
Mr Speaker, I just wanted to bring my Hon Colleague on track. He was talking about amounts that have been released. That is GH¢85 million. And then, GH¢4 million has also released. Mr Speaker, if they have been released, they are not part of this budget. So there are allocations; estimates for that matter that the Hon Member should be talking about.
Mr Speaker, I am very much happy that the Hon Majority Leader is drawing my attention to the use of “release”. I meant to use the word “allocated”. So, if I used “released”, then it was wrong; I wanted to use “allocated”. Mr Speaker, it is important to indicate to the House and for all of us to be concerned about—
The issue raised is that, that amount has been allocated to the Office of Government Machinery, not Ministry of Food and Agriculture.
Yes, Mr Speaker.
That is why the issue of relevance comes in. This is because we are debating the budget for the Ministry of Food and Agriculture. So if the allocation is to -- when we get to the budget of Government Machinery, then you can raise those issues. Since we have not reached there yet, you can flag it and raise it at the appropriate time.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker.
Hon Members, please, I am in control.
Mr Speaker, it is relevant because, we have an authority under the Ministry of Food and Agriculture in charge of irrigation. They have the knowledge; the technical know-how.
The issue here is -- In fact, I have been struggling to follow you. Hon Member, this is because, when you mentioned the figures, I looked at the Budget Estimates of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture but I did not locate them; neither did I locate them in the Committee's Report. So, you would have to wait until we get to the Budget Estimates of the Office of Government Machinery where they would appear and then, you can raise that issue. So, please, proceed.
Mr Speaker, I have the document that was given to you; the document that you requested that I lay and which I did. Mr Speaker, the figures I mentioned in that documents were in --
Hon Member, you do not debate the Hon Speaker. I have guided you. I am aware you laid the letter but the letter so far as we are concerned, was not part of the Appropriation Bill. So, wait until we get to the allocation of Office of Government Machinery where these figures would appear, so that you can draw our attention to it. Hon Member, I cannot follow you by using this letter you laid. Yes, Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I agree with your guidance that this is not situated within the context of the Budget Estimates of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture. If the Hon Member wants to import that into the discourse, when we get the Budget Estimates of Office of Government Machinery, he could do it, and it would mean that nobody could comment on that. If he does, it would amount to a double counting. He does not need to do that. His own problem is that, there is an authority that has to be the vehicle to apply the amount. That was all that he was laboring to say. Mr Speaker, as far as the allocation to the Ministry of Food and Agriculture is concerned, it does not feature. So, maybe, he could observe that he was looking for that to be situated there, but it was not there. That is his worry. When we get to the Budget Estimates of Office of Government Machinery and he would want to talk, he could talk.
Hon Majority Leader, these are your words and not mine. I have never prompted the Hon Member to “lay ambush”. I simply guided him to hold his fire until the appropriate time. There is no “ambush” here. Yes, Hon Deputy Minority Whip?
Mr Speaker, the Hon Member and Hon Ranking Member for the Committee on Food, Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs cited a law which established the Ghana Irrigation Authority. Mr Speaker, in his contribution, he said that the Ghana Irrigation Authority is deprived of certain facilities and that was what made his contribution relevant to the Report that is debated. Mr Speaker, I would be very happy if you could allow him to continue in that direction.
Hon Deputy Minority Whip, it could be a policy of Government that those agencies would carry out those duties under the supervision of the Office of the President. That was why I said we should get there, so that it would be raised. I know the Hon Minister for Food and Agriculture is capable. He could do it, but we are in an executive presidency. I would want us to focus on the Motion, which is the budget and allocation to the Ministry of Food and Agriculture. Hon Member, please, conclude.
Mr Speaker, because I have been restricted to examine what is --
Hon Member, the duty of the Hon Speaker is to guide and create enough space for the Minority Caucus to have a say and also protect the Majority Caucus to have their way and that was exactly what I did. Hon Member, you have not been restricted. You are being guided as to what to do.
Mr Speaker, I thank you for your guidance. But the “One village One Dam” issue is captured in the first paragraph, page 12 of the Committee's Report. That means it is relevant for me to --
Hon Member, the “One village One Dam” project in paragraph 4.4 says that: “The Committee also realised that as regard the “One Village One Dam” programme the Ghana Irrigation Development Authority would rehabilitate existing dams and build new ones when necessary. The new dams would be small to medium scale”.
Mr Speaker, that was what was captured here. That was why I said that in spite of this, the resources for the execution of these dams were not available to the Authority. [Interruption.]
Hon Member, I am simply guiding you. I have mentioned that we have executive presidency. The Hon Ministers of State are advisors; Cabinet itself is advisory and so the President at any time could decide that he would personally take responsibility over a particular agency. Hon Member, that was why I guided you.
Mr Speaker, the last paragraph of paragraph 4.4 stated that, and with your permission, I beg to quote: “The Committee recommends that the Ministry of Agriculture should collaborate with office of Government Machinery to ensure that the project is carried out successfully”. Mr Speaker, because the Authority is deprived of the resources. What we said was that, they should collaborate with the Office of Government Machinery for them to carry out the projects successfully. It is an indication that, the Authority is not even happy with that arrangement. This is because they are trained, they have the skills and everything, meanwhile the resources have been taken away from them. That was the issue we raised. Mr Speaker, it is also important for us to indicate that, when the Hon Chairman of the Committee seconded the Motion, he sought to do a lot of corrections. I heard Hon Members -- Mr Speaker, it is important to indicate that the Hon Minister for Food and Agriculture was not available during the two days that we met even though the Report suggested that the Hon Minister was to be available. That was not what happened. Mr Speaker, paragraph 1.1 of the Report said and with your permission, I beg to quote: “The Committee met for two days and examined the draft estimates of the Ministry. Present at the meeting were the following: a. Minister for Food and Agri- culture…” Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister was there the first day and after a short while, he left [Interruption.] -- So we cannot say that he was there for two days. There were a lot of issues that we raised and the Hon Minister was not there to answer. That is why we have difficulties here. It is important for us to raise these issues here. This is because, the Hon Minister was the one to explain to us some of these policy initiatives, but he was not available. So, why did the Report say that the Hon Minister was present for the two days? This is a House of record.
Hon Member, the paragraph was very clear. It said: “The Committee met for two days and examined the draft estimates of the Ministry. Present at the meeting were the following: a. Minister for Food and Agri- culture…” Hon Member, it did not say that the Minister was there for two days. Hon Member, please conclude.
Mr Speaker, in conclusion, I would say, that for us to be properly informed on issues whenever we have such meetings, it is important for the Ministers who are in charge of the policies to avail themselves, to enable us understand some of the key policy initiatives so that, if we are debating or presenting the Report, we would do so as we understood from their presentations. On this note, I thank you, Mr Speaker.
Let me give the opportunity to the Vice Chairman before the Hon Minister for Food and Agriculture would wind up so that we could move to other Motions.
Mr Speaker, but when I stood up —
Hon Member, you have not yet caught my eye — [Laughter.]
Mr Speaker, I caught your eye, but you asked me to sit down till after he had finished.
You raised a point and I overruled you. And so, that was what happened. I did not ask you to sit down.
Mr Speaker, I rise to support the Motion on the floor. Mr Speaker, it is instructive to note that the allocation to the Ministry of Food and Agriculture in the 2017 Budget Statement has increased enormously. This is because if we compare the allocation in the 2016 budget estimates, it has been increased by 52 per cent this year. And I would refer you to table 2.2 on page 5 of the Report. The total allocation was, GH¢501,- 501,708. But in the budget allocation for this year, which could be found in table 3 on page 7 of the Report, it is, GH¢759,676,342. So that is a very significant achievement of this government. Mr Speaker, we are hoping that the Ministry of Finance would release these allocations on time. This is because, agriculture, to a very large extent —
Hon Member, after saying that is a very good achievement, you are now hoping the Ministry releases the money?
Mr Speaker, yes I am hoping, because I am a Member of Parliament.
And so, it is not yet an achievement.
Mr Speaker, this is because even the budget that was initially presented by the Ministry to the Ministry of Finance, was over a billion Ghana cedis. And this was reduced to this amount. Mr Speaker, this amount to the Ministry, to us, is woefully inadequate. And so we are hoping that this budget allocation would be released timely. The trend of the releases over the years has been between 65 and 70 per cent so we hope that this budget allocation would be released timely so that the Ministry would be able to carry out its activities. Mr Speaker, it is also worth noting that in the 2016 Budget, the allocation to Goods and Services was GH¢229,261,000. This year, the allocation has almost doubled. This is because if we look at the table on page 7, we have GH¢456,066,590. And so the allocation has increased by 99 per cent. So it means that the Ministry is going to engage in a lot of agricultural activities, and it is because the Government has placed emphasis on the Ministry of Food and Agriculture to be a driving force in the economic growth of this country. Mr Speaker, I would like to make a few comments on some of the issues that have been raised by the Hon Ranking Member. For instance, he talked about the GH¢70 million that has been allocated for the purchase of agricultural inputs. He has also talked about the allocations that are going to the Office of Government Machinery which is supposed to go for the construction of dams, but not going to be used by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture. Mr Speaker, as you rightly guided, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture engages in a lot of activities, but it cannot embrace all the activities that are related to agriculture. For instance, forestry is part of agriculture and even factored into the calculation of agricultural Gross Domestic Product (GDP). But Forestry lies with the Ministry of Lands and Forestry. Mr Speaker, there are other organisations that operate in agricultural related areas. And so, if the Government finds it necessary to put this allocation under the Office of Government Machinery, it would only take the collaboration as suggested by the Committee. And the Ministry would be guided by this suggestion that; the Ministry should collaborate very well with the Office of Government Machinery to see to the religious implementation of the “One Village One Dam” project, and then the purchase and use of the agricultural inputs. Mr Speaker, with these few comments, I would want to add my voice in supporting the Motion for this House to approve the sum of GH¢759,676,342 for the services of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture for the year ending 31st Mr Emmanuel K. Bedzrah — rose --
I will recognise Hon Emmanuel Bedzrah and the Hon Minister would wind up after his submission. We have five more Motions.
Mr Speaker, I come under Standing Order 91(c), by attention being called to the absence of a quorum. We are supposed to approve estimates for the various Departments, Agencies and the Ministries. Mr Speaker, here we are with few people in the Chamber to take decision. And Members of the party in power are not there. It is only a few people on the Minority side, who do not even form a quorum in the Chamber. Mr Speaker, and so, we should not be in a hurry at all.
Hon Member, I gave you the opportunity to contribute to the debate. [Laughter.] You are now raising a point of order, and your point of order is not well grounded. You just mentioned Standing Order 91 (c), which reads: “Debates may be interrupted -- c) by attention being called to the absence of a quorum;” Hon Member, you have not adduced any evidence of absence of quorum and so I have no basis for even calling on the Table Office to ring the bell. So, Hon Members, we may proceed. Hon Jabanyite?
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity. I rise to contribute to the Motion, that this House approves the sum of GH¢759,676,342, for the services of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture. Mr Speaker, before I move for the approval of this Motion, I wish to bring
“The Ministry will pursue a value addition strategy aimed at rapidly ramping up agro-processing and developing new and stable markets for our products.” Mr Speaker, this is a flagship policy or programme that aims to move agriculture to a very high level. This is a budget that aims to pool a lot of resources to the agricultural sector so that over 750,000 people would be engaged. Mr Speaker, agriculture moves from several value chains, yet the chain that would make this materialise is only allocated a paltry sum of GH¢30,000. I think this is not enough and the Ministry would not have the opportunity to do the marketing that is so required of it to let us have a full benefit of the growth that we are driving at. Mr Speaker, besides, this is a budget to the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, which we see that close to 50 per cent of the amount estimated would come from donor funding. This is a time where we have a President who makes it clear that the time for aid is over. If we have to grow a resilient and sustainable economy, then clearly, the chunk of our revenue should go into what is dear to our hearts and we believe that can make us sustainable. Mr Speaker, I would believe when the Hon Minister for Finance comes to this House again, for the Mid-Year Review and Supplementary Budget, I would humbly request that the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, as well as the Ministry of Finance, take a critical look at the allocations made for agricultural marketing so that this issue can be carried out well. Mr Speaker, notwithstanding these few comments, I support, that this Honourable House adopts the sum provided in the estimate --
Hon Member, we are to approve and not to adopt.
Mr Speaker, that this Honourable House approves the sum. Thank you.
Yes, Deputy Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, just for some corrections in the Report. Mr Speaker, on page 5 of the Committee Report, we have Tables 2 and 3; I went back to see if I could get Table 1 but there is no Table 1. So if the Hon Chairman of the Committee can take note and do those corrections; there is no Table 1 but we have Tables 2 and 3. Mr Speaker, also, when we go to page 7, we have Table 3 again and then Table 4 on page 8; if the numbering could be done well. Thank you.
Hon Member, thank you for drawing our attention. Yes, Hon Minister for Food and Agriculture?
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to wind up this debate, which I would say is being lopsided. Mr Speaker, I am very surprised at some of the comments which came from the Hon Ranking Member, for the simple reason that, most of the things that he is dismissing are in plain black and white in the Report, which actually came from the Committee and not me. When I was the Hon Ranking Member, I used to be very active in preparing these Reports. He has now turned around and --
Hon Minister for Food and Agriculture, is that part of the winding up?
Mr Speaker, it is not a central part of the winding up. But I just would want to make a comment to correct the impression the Hon Member is creating.
Hon Minister, you are likely to ignite a debate on that issue so let us wind up. I even thought that they were singing your song.
Mr Speaker, there were two comments that came from the other side of the House about the size of the donor contribution. The fact of the matter is that for many years, this is the first time a Government has come in and clearly expressed their vision for the agriculture sector. The donor community is so impressed with that, and they are prepared to contribute to the plan that we have proposed to the people of this country. Mr Speaker, so it is not surprising at all that there has been such a jump in donor support for the programme, and particularly to do with the “Planting for Food and Jobs” which is a programme which is going to be launched by the President of the Republic on the 19th of April, 2017, somewhere in the Brong Ahafo Region -- the Region from which the Hon Ranking Member comes from. That is for his information. Mr Speaker, if we go to page 8, he talked about the fact that the Government has not allocated any moneys at all to development programmes and that it is only the donors who have done that. Table 4 on page 8, the third line is very clear on food security and emergency prepared- ness. Mr Speaker, I would like to draw your attention to that. It says that the total amount allocated for that particular activity, which includes “Planting for Food and Jobs” is GH¢333,463,042 for food security and emergency. Mr Speaker, if we look at Government of Ghana (GoG) contribution, out of that is GH¢219,886,802. So it is far from the truth to claim on the floor of this House, as this is a House of record, that the Government has made no contribution at all to the development of agriculture in the coming year. Mr Speaker, so I think we have to allay that fear or impression which is being created by the Hon Ranking Member and the other Hon Members who made submissions on the subject when they referred to page 8. Mr Speaker, the Irrigation Development Authority is another area that the Hon Ranking Member in particular refers to, that there has been no allocation to that authority. That authority is one of the biggest organisations within the Ministry
of Food and Agriculture. It is inconceivable that we would present a Budget to this House without making provision for the work of the Irrigation Development Authority. Mr Speaker, with the claim that the Government has made no provision simply beats my imagination because the staff of the Irrigation Development Authority were there and they spent about two hours to do a presentation to the Members of the Committee and they showed to us what they would want to do, at what location and how much money is going to be used, among others. Mr Speaker, the Hon Ranking Member comes to the House to say that no provision was made. The fact of the matter is that, he said for the two days, I was not there. That is far from the truth. In fact, when I came to close the Committee's work on the second day, he was nowhere to be found, and I challenge him to that. I was there at the opening ceremony and most of the Hon Members of the Committee were there. Infact, when proceedings started on the first day, the Hon Ranking Member was nowhere to be found. He joined us later on and it is a fact.
Hon Minister for Food and Agriculture, did I hear you say that when you went to close the meeting of the Committee? [Laughter.]
Mr Speaker, it is a slip of tongue. I went to wind up the presentation. [Laughter.]
I think it is not just a slip of tongue but a slip of mind. [Laughter.]
Mr Speaker, I doubt whether you could read my mind [Laughter.]
I realised that he was in full flight and he wanted to take control.
Mr Speaker, I would like to thank all Hon Members who have contributed to the debate, and I would like to appeal, that this House approves the sum that is under consideration for the work of the Ministry to be carried out in a way which would bring prosperity to farmers of this country, and reduce substantially the huge import of food that we have witnessed in the last years in the history of this country. This would enable the prices of food in urban areas like Accra, Takoradi and Kumasi to come down --
Hon Minister, you are on the floor of Parliament and I am reminding you of the presence of Hon Emmanuel Bedzrah, who is the Hon Chairman of the Committee on Government Assurances -- [Interruption.] --
Mr Speaker, --
He is the Hon Ranking Member of the Committee on Government Assurances.
Mr Speaker, he is the Hon Ranking -- [Laughter.]
Who is the Hon Chairman?
Hon Yaw Frimpong Addo.
Hon Yaw Frimpong Addo? [Interruption.] Why are you raising issues of conflict?
Mr Speaker, no.
So why do you bring that in? Yes, Hon Members, at the close of the debate, I would now put the Question. Question put and Motion agreed to. Resolved: That this Honourable House approves the sum of GH¢759,676,342 for the services of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture for the year ending 31st December, 2017.
Hon Majority Leader? First, guide us on how many people to contribute to the debate on each Motion. This is because I am told that we have about five more to go and my Hon Colleague is presiding at the Appointments Committee.
Mr Speaker, subject to the indulgence of my Hon Colleague on the other side, the Hon Minority Leader is unavailable but we have the Hon Deputy Minority Leader, and subject to his indulgence, we may not allow, after the Motion has been moved and seconded by the Hon Chairman of the Committee, more than two contributors and then you could put the Question.
In that case, I would limit each Hon Member to two minutes. Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, may we take the Motion captured as item 25.
Before I mention the Motion, I see Hon Kpodo on his feet. Is the Hon Majority Leader out of order?
Mr Speaker, no. You said something on limiting contributors to only two minutes and I am worried about that. [Laughter.] This is because I know that Parliament is a place where Hon Members are free to say things which they think would benefit the country. I remember when I was a young man, I was listening to parliamentary debates during the Second Republic and the Hon Members of Parliament were free to make contributions for a very long period. Even last year or so, when Dr Anane presented a statement, he took more than one hour but this time, as soon as we start, we are told that our time is up, we should wind up and in conclusion. So this is disturbing me and I do not understand. That is why I am on my feet, whether within two minutes, we could make any meaningful contribution.
Mr Speaker, in the Third Republic, when the Hon Kpodo claims he was a young man, there were only 140 Hon Members of Parliament not 275. Mr Speaker, secondly, I do not recollect ever in this House that in a contribution by Dr Anane, he was granted space to speak for one hour. The records would prove that what my Hon Colleague said is a palpable untruth. Not in this House. The Motion that I would want us to consider is item numbered 22 not 25.
Hon Members, we are guided by the Standing Orders and when we go through the Standing Orders, we would see scheduling of time of debates and how it is done. That is why the Speaker keeps referring to the Leadership of the House for guidance.
If we are to take one Motion for the whole day, we could allow Hon Members about an hour each. Unfortunately, we do not have that leisure of time. Again, it is important to look at the process of what used to be done and what we do now. They are very different. It is not only the numbers, but also the process of bringing Reports to the House. So, before the Reports come before the House, we would have had ample notice and opportunity to read, and one is also at liberty to attend Committee meetings and make contributions. That is why we focus on Hon Members of the Committee to lead us in the debate. So it is quite democratic and it is not something that we would encourage, but we are also not trying to limit the debate to a few people. We want as many people as possible to contribute, but when it is on an issue that is so clear and sometimes there is no need for debate, then we do not need to give more room for Hon Members to articulate on the floor. So, Hon Member, we would take your view on board, and if it is the pleasure of the House, we could give you more than two minutes, depending on whether you are actually making real inputs. So it is still discretionary; it is just to guide us. You would realise that sometimes, I allow some Hon Members to even go beyond 10 minutes and 15 minutes because they are making good points. Hon Eric Opoku spoke for almost 20 minutes because he raised a lot of very interesting issues, therefore, I allowed him to do that. So, please, nobody is gagging any Hon Member of Parliament from contributing to the debate on the floor. Hon Majority Leader, may we now be guided again on which item we are taking. Item numbered 25?
Mr Speaker, item numbered 22.
Item numbered 22 -- Hon Minister for Parliamentary Affairs. ANNUAL ESTIMATES, 2017 Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs
Mr Speaker, I beg to move that this Honourable House approves the sum GH¢3,227,856 for the services of the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs for the year ending 31st December, 2017.
Mr Speaker, I rise to present your Committee's Report. Introduction The Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the Government for the 2017 Financial Year was presented to Parliament on Thursday, 2nd March, 2017 by the Hon Minister for Finance, Mr Ken Ofori- Atta, in accordance with article 179 of the 1992 Constitution. Pursuant to Order 140 (4) of the Standing Orders of the House, the Annual Budget Estimates of the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs were referred to the Committee on Constitutional, Legal Parliamentary Affairs for consideration and report. Deliberations In considering the referral, the Committee met with the Hon Majority Leader and Minister for Parliamentary
The Ministry shall perform the following functions: i. Serve as the interface between the executive and Parliament. ii. Co-ordinate the tabling of Government business on the floor of Parliament. iii. Harmonise Government business into the calendar of Parliament. iv. Facilitate the development and implementation of citizen centered collaborative interface with other state and non-state actors on matters relating to the legislature. v. Facilitate the review/promulgation of legislation and regulations for equitable national development. vi. Monitor and evaluate the implementation of government policies and feedback to Parliament. vii.Undertake such research as may be necessary to enhance the collaboration between Parliament and the executive and civil society groups. viii. Provide strategic leadership in the development of the medium-term plan of the Ministry in consultation with National Development Planning Commission. Planned programmes for 2017 Management and administration The objective of this programme is to provide requisite logistics and develop human resource policies among others. The Ministry intends to execute the programme through the following: The general administration and finance units of the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs shall be responsible for delivering this programme through: i. Effective and efficient manage- ment of financial resources and timely annual reporting as contained in the new Public Financial Act 921 and the Financial Administration Regula- tion. ii. Facilitating training and development, recruitment and promotions, leave policy, welfare, discipline and appropriate job description to engender optimum output from employees. iii. Provision of logistical services such as transport, estates, cleaning services, security, maintenance, stores manage- ment and internal human resource management. iv. Carrying out of regular maintenance of assets of the Ministry. Executive and legislative coordination and dialogue programme For the year 2017, the Ministry seeks to achieve the following objectives: i. The Ministry will serve as interface between Parliament and the Executive, between Parliament and the citizenry, State and non-State actors. ii. The Ministry will also monitor and evaluate Government policies and report to Parliament. iii. The Ministry will formulate policies in order to gain deeper understanding of government policies that are brought before the House for approval so as to engender the needed buy-in of these policies by Parliament. iv. The Ministry will follow up on ministerial questions and other requests, to ensure that Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) comply with these requests from Parliament. This will create a fair balance between the Executive and Parliament interactions. v. The Ministry will also ensure the collection and collation of government programmes for purposes of synchronization. vi. The Ministry will ensure that proposed Bills are properly updated with the relevant Parliamentary perspectives and also reconciled with existing legislations and provide greater clarity and illumination to ensure the smooth conduct of government business in the House. 2017 Annual Budget Estimates for the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs The sum of three million, two hundred and twenty-seven thousand, eight hundred and fifty-six Ghana cedis (GH¢3,227,856.00), has been allocated for the activities of the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs for the 2017 financial year. The breakdown is as shown in the table on the next page. Table: Breakdown of the 2017 Annual Budget Estimates of the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs
Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, just a minor correction so that we could synchronise the figures. The Motion is calling on the House to approve the sum of GH¢3,227,856 for the services of the Ministry but the conclusion of the Committee's Report is GH¢1 short of the allocation. Mr Speaker, it should rather read GH¢3,227,856. Mr Speaker, going through the Report, I have seen that the mistake is on the Compensation of Employees. It is GH¢498,231, but the Committee has captured GH¢498,230. That would be in tandem with the allocation as found in Appendix 4A of page 168 of the Budget Statement -- It is GH¢498,231. Mr Speaker, so, if we get it right, then the figure would have to read GH¢3,227,856 and not GH¢3,227,855. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
I hope that Hon Members have gotten the correction. Question proposed.
Mr Speaker, I rise to support the Motion for approval of the sum of GH¢3,227,856 for the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs. Mr Speaker, to add to that, I see as part of the activities earmarked for the fiscal year by the Ministry is the fact that the Ministry would also monitor and evaluate government policies and report to Parliament. Mr Speaker, I am wondering whether that would not be an overlap of activities with the substantive Hon Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation. Mr Speaker, at the Committee level, we raised the issue of whether, as part of the Hon Minister's activities for the year, he would not consider organising outreach
and visitation programmes for Hon Members of Parliament to other sister Parliaments in the Commonwealth. Particularly, because it is a policy position of Mr Speaker that his rulings would be publicised for guidance of the House in terms of procedure and other related matters. So we are of the view that if Hon Members get the opportunity to visit other sister Parliaments where Mr Speaker's rulings are publicised, then it would guide the affairs of the House when they return. They would bring that experience to bear on their performance in the House. Mr Speaker, I have also seen that the Ministry has come to stay as they indicated that it has been in abeyance and, it has been resuscitated. So, I hope it would not go into abeyance again. On whether the Hon Minister would not consider making budgetary allocations for Hon Members of Parliament for purposes of our functions, since we come directly under his purview, being the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs, it would be very good if he could do that for us. Mr Speaker, finally, I would want to say that the Ministry is quite a small one, and we would pray the House to approve of the budgetary allocation so that he could carry out the functions that he is stated to undertake for this fiscal year. Mr Speaker, with these words, I rest my case. Thank you very much.
I thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to contribute to the Motion numbered as item 22 on the Order Paper seeking approval of this House for the sum of GH¢3,227,856.00 for the services of the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs, for the year ending 31st December, 2017. Mr Speaker, in doing so, I note that the core functions of the Ministry as contained in paragraph 5.0 on page 3 of the Committee's Report, clearly indicates that the said Ministry would serve as an interface between the Executive and the Parliament, and coordinate the tabling of Government Business on the Floor of Parliament. Mr Speaker, most importantly, this came out during the deliberations at the Committee level, that the Hon Minister would table Government's Papers and/or Bills in the absence of a substantive Minister on the floor of Parliament. Mr Speaker, clearly, this role that the Ministry for Parliamentary Affairs would be playing is quite important. This is because we were also informed that during the eight year period that the Ministry ceased to exist, there were times that Government Business had to come to a halt, because there was no substantive Minister in the Chamber to move the Business of Government. Mr Speaker, in that light, I would wish to commend His Excellency the President for bringing back this Ministry, which clearly demonstrates his desire to move the Business of Government and to execute the mandate that the people of Ghana have entrusted in him. We note that this is a very small Ministry, and the budget that has been provided for it is pretty small. In that respect, I would urge my fellow Hon Colleagues to approve the sum of GH¢3,227,856.00 for the work of the Ministry in the year 2017. I thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity.
Mr Speaker, I just want to point out a few things in the Report. If we come to page 4 of the Report, under Management and Administration, item (i), the Report states that: “Effective and efficient management of financial resources and timely annual reporting as contained in the new Public Financial Act (921) and the Financial Administration Regulation.” Mr Speaker, I just want to draw attention of the Chairman of the Committee that, what we have is the Public Financial Management Act, which takes care of all of that so he might seek leave to amend that for our record. Mr Speaker, then, on page 6 as well, the first sentence under Observation states that: “… when the previous National Democratic Congress Administration declined to continue the practice.” It is not too clear what that is conveying; whether some groups of person had made the request to the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Government to continue a particular practice in which they declined to carry out. In my opinion, that place would also require some clarification. Nonetheless, there is an opportunity for every Government to decide to realign Ministries, to cancel some, reintroduce new ones and sometimes to split some even into three or four, as it has happened in the Ministry of Transport, where we have the Ministry of Transport, Ministry of Railway Development and the Ministry of Aviation which used to be under one Ministry. So, in my opinion, every Government is free to rearrange its Ministries, and this should not be any big thing if the NDC Government merged the Ministry of Information with the Ministry of Communication in order to carry out the same functions. Mr Speaker, these are the few things I have observed about the Report, and I would want to draw your attention to them, while we proceed to approve the amount allocated to the resuscitated Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs, led by our senior Colleague, the Hon Majority Leader. I thank you.
Yes, Hon Asamoa?
Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to contribute and to support the Motion. Mr Speaker, I would want to refer to paragraph 5 of the Report, which speaks about the vision of the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs, and in particular, the second and third lines -- who better to deliver this purpose than the peerless colossus that we have in the Hon Majority Leader, probably, second only to the Hon Second Deputy Speaker in the Chair, as far as folklore in this Chamber is concerned. Mr Speaker, I believe it is a very important Ministry. The path we have chosen for ourselves; participatory democracy, the hybrid Constitution we have for ourselves and the need to bring people together on a consensual path in order to seek the best for our society demands experience, sound judgement and calm leadership. So, Mr Speaker, having already commended the President; the first Hon Member having commended the President, I believe this Ministry is very necessary and this House should support its re-establishment and support the Budget for it. This is because we have the people to run it, and run it very well. I thank you, Mr Speaker.
Yes, Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, this is just a little clarification on the second issue raised by my Hon Colleague, Hon Rockson Defeamekpor.
Are you talking about the Hon Member for South Dayi?
Mr Speaker, the Hon Deputy Minority Leader wants me to engage in some exercise, but he has not provided me with screw drivers. So when he does, I would engage in that exercise. Mr Speaker, he made a point that the Hon Members of Parliament -- and quoting his exact words, “come directly under the purview of the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs”, and that we are required to make allocations to Hon Members of Parliament. Mr Speaker, nothing can be further from the truth. The Ministry is still part of the Executive. It is just a coordinating body between the Executive and Parliament. If it is construed, as he has done, then it would lead us to the unfortunate conclusion the peer review did. They arrived at the conclusion that because of the existence of that Ministry, the Executive had intended to put Parliament in the armpit of the Executive. Mr Speaker, nothing can be further away from the truth. It is not the intendment of that Ministry, it has never been.
Hon Majority Leader, you know I cannot contribute to debates; but you know my position on this Ministry, so I am estopped. Question put and motion agreed to. Resolved: That this Honourable House approves the sum of GH¢3,227,856 for the services of the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs for the year ending 31st December, 2017.
Hon Majority Leader and Minister for Parliamentary Affairs? [Interruption.] Once he is the Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, definitely Leader of Government
Business comes under his purview under the system that we are running. It could be under any other Ministry; but under this system, it is under him. Now, he comes under the command and direction of the President as the Hon Minister of State. I am not debating. Hon Majority Leader, which item next?
Mr Speaker, when you ask which item next in Parliament, it is for the Hon Majority Leader and Leader of Government Business, and not the Hon Minister for Parliamentary Affairs.
Are you not the Hon Minister for Parliamentary Affairs?
Mr Speaker, I am saying that in the Chamber, if you ask me for any directions, you would be asking the Hon Majority Leader and Leader of Government Business, and not the Hon Minister for Parliamentary Affairs. [Laughter.]
Three in one; Minister for Parliamentary Affairs outside the floor of the House, on the floor of the House Hon Majority Leader and Leader of Government Business. Am I right?
Mr Speaker, the point I am making is that when you ask for indications, you would do so from the Hon Majority Leader and Leader of Government Business. You would not be asking indications from the Hon Minister for Parliamentary Affairs. Mr Speaker, it is except that, even on the floor, if an Hon Member wants to refer to me, the person may refer to me as the Hon Minister for Parliamentary Affairs. Mr Speaker, but if you are looking for indication, you are looking for the Hon Majority Leader and Leader of Government Business. Mr Speaker, my attention has been drawn to the fact that the Reports from the Special Budget Committee -- about five Reports are still in incubation. They are not ready yet, and even if they are ready immediately and served on Hon Members, we would require some time to peruse the document before we start the Motion. Mr Speaker, in that regard, I would like to propose that we adjourn proceedings where we are to continue tomorrow, so that we take an adjournment and continue tomorrow at 10 o'clock in the fore noon. Mr Speaker, my attention has been drawn to the fact that it is past 2 o'clock, so we may not need a Motion; but the fact that it is past 2 o'clock does not mean that I cannot move. Anybody can move after 2 o'clock, but the Rt Hon Speaker after 2 o'clock could suo motu also adjourn the House.
The Hon Leaders are having a conversation, so I am still waiting for guidance. Are you moving the Motion, or you are opting not to move the Motion and leaving it in my hands?
Mr Speaker, I was just responding to a side kick that because it is past 2 o'clock, we are entirely in the hands of the Rt Hon Speaker. I was telling him that, that is not the case, even though I often hear people say that. Mr Speaker, even if it is past 2 o'clock, any Hon Member could move a Motion for adjournment; but after 2 o'clock, the
When the Hon Members decline to move the Motion, what happens?
Mr Speaker, then you could adjourn.
I would now need the guidance of the Leadership, and it is the Leadership that would tell me that for one, two or three reasons, they think that we should take a bow. Then I would have the opportunity to adjourn the House. So, that is what I wanted; that indication. This is because I can see a number of Motions still on the Order Paper.
Mr Speaker, I have already addressed that. I have said that the outstanding ones are primarily those relating to the Special Budget Committee. My attention has been drawn to the fact that they are still in the incubator. They are still running them, and we cannot suspend the House and come and sit again. Mr Speaker, that is why I am proposing that we adjourn until tomorrow at 10 o'clock in the forenoon. Mr Speaker, I so move.
Now he has ended up by moving a Motion. Any seconder?
Mr Speaker, the convention in the House is that we usually leave that to the Rt Hon Speaker to determine; but once he has moved the Motion, I would reluctantly second it.
Has the practice concretised into a convention? Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, that is what the Hon Member is suggesting, and that is why I also referred to that; often times, after 2.00 p. m., Hon Members would say that because it is after 2.00 p. m., we are entirely in your hands. I am saying that after 2.00 p. m., we are not entirely in the hands of the Rt Hon Speaker. Anybody could move a Motion, but the Speaker may exercise his authority after 2.00 p. m. to adjourn on his own. That was the point I was making. Mr Speaker, I am just relating to the fact that what Hon Members often say that because it is past 2.00 p. m., so we are entirely in the hands of the Rt Hon Speaker, is incorrect.
I believe the proper thing to do, is to adjourn the House. This debate could continue outside the Chamber of Parliament. It is a debate that would not lead us anywhere because of the way the Standing Orders have been captured. So this House stands adjourned till tomorrow, when we shall reconvene to continue with Business at 10.00 a. m. in the forenoon.