Hon Members, there is a communication from the President. SPACE FOR COMMUNICATION -- PAGE 1 -- 12.15 P.M.
VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS AND THE OFFICIAL REPORT
Hon Members, item numbered 3 -- Correction of Votes and Proceedings and the Official Report. We have before us the Votes and Proceedings of Thursday, 26th January, 2017. Page 1…8 --
Mr Speaker, as a determined Hon Member of Parliament who is ably representing his constituents, I was unequivocally present yesterday. [Interruption.] Therefore, I would want my name to be deleted from the list of Hon Members who were absent and clearly added to the list of Hon Members who were present yesterday. I so submit, Mr Speaker.
Order! Yes, Hon Member?
Mr Speaker, on page 8, number 20, I am among the list of absentees. I was here yesterday but I have been marked absent.
Thank you very much. Any further corrections on that page? Page 9…14 --
Mr Speaker, yesterday, Dr Kwabena Donkor and Hon Joseph Nii Laryea Afotey-Agbo were in the House but they have been marked absent. [Interruption.]
Order! Order! Hon Members, the Votes and Proceedings of Thursday, 26th January, 2017, as corrected are hereby adopted as the true record of Proceedings. Item numbered 4 -- Business Statement for the Third Week. Chairman of the Business Committee, Hon Majority Leader? 12. 30 p.m.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Mr Speaker, the Committee met yesterday, Thursday, 26th January, 2017 and arranged Business of the House for the Third Week ending Friday, 3rd February, 2017.
Arrangement of Business Formal Communication by the Speaker Mr Speaker, you may read communications to the House whenever they are available. Statements Mr Speaker, Statements duly admitted by you may be made in the House by Hon Members, in accordance with Order 72.
Papers and Reports Mr Speaker, Papers may be laid during the week and reports from committees may also be presented to the House. It is also envisaged that the Appointments Committee would continue to consider nominations of H. E. the President and subsequently submit reports on same to the House for consideration. Motions and Resolutions Mr Speaker, Motions may be debated and their consequential Resolutions, if any, taken during the week. Induction seminar Mr Speaker, as indicated during the presentation of the Business Statement for this week, which was done last Friday, 20th January, 2017, an induction seminar is to be organised for Hon Members who have not benefited from any induction programme. The participants have been communicated to. The venue for the induction seminar is now the Capital View Hotel in Koforidua, and it is scheduled to take place from Saturday, 28th January to Monday, 30th January, 2017. All participants are requested to move to the Hotel today, Friday, 27th January, 2017, by 5.00 p.m. In the same manner, another workshop shall be organised for the remaining Hon Members, possibly the following weekend. Details of that programme would be announced in the course of next week. Conclusion Mr Speaker, in accordance with Standing Order 160 (2), and subject to Standing Order 53, the Committee submits to this Honourable House the order in which the Business of the House shall be taken during the week. Formal Communication by the Speaker Statements -- Presentation of Papers -- Third Report of the Appointments Committee on H.E. the President's nominations for Ministerial appointments. Motions Committee sittings. Formal communication by the Speaker Statements-- Presentation of Papers-- Motions Adoption of the Third Report of the Appointments Committee on H.E. the President's nominations for Ministerial appointments. Committee sittings. Formal Communication by the Speaker. Statements -- Presentation of Papers -- Fourth Report of the Appointments Committee on H.E. the President's nominations for Ministerial appointments. Motions Committee sittings. Formal Communication by the Speaker. Statements-- Presentation of Papers -- Motions Adoption of the Fourth Report of the Appointments Committee on H.E.the President's nominations for Ministerial appointments. Committee sittings.
Thank you very much, Hon Majority Leader. Yes, Hon Minority Leader, any reservations?
Mr Speaker, I am a member of the Business Committee, and the Hon Majority Leader has presented what reflects the outcome of our meeting. Mr Speaker, the practice would be for you to hear some other Hon Members, who may have concerns on what Business they may want to consider, after which we would consider it. Mr Speaker, so, per your guidance, you may allow other Hon Members. Ours may just be -- it is not time for it, because the machinery of Government has not been constituted along the line to look at Questions as an instrument of oversight. Mr Speaker, with that, I believe you may want to allow other Hon Members to examine it in detail.
Yes, Hon Member?
Mr Speaker, I was expecting that Hon Members would have been served with copies of the Agenda for this Meeting. This is a new Parliament and this is the First Meeting, but up till now, we have not been given copies of the Agenda for the Meeting. Mr Speaker, according to Standing Order 33(1) and Mr Speaker, with your permission, I beg to quote order: “The Clerk shall send to each Member a copy of the Agenda for each Meeting, if possible, fourteen days before the Meeting, and shall, whenever the circumstances require, circulate a Supplementary Agenda.” Mr Speaker, we are ending the Second Week of this Meeting of the Seventh Parliament, and normally, we should have had its Agenda, if possible, two weeks before the start of this Meeting. We are in the Second Week, moving into the Third Week, and we have not been told anything as far as the Agenda is concerned. Mr Speaker, at least, the Agenda would give us some insight with regard to our expectations for the Meeting; our Budget Statements, the State of the Nation Address, as well as Bills that would be considered during this Meeting. Mr Speaker, I would therefore, want to find out from Leadership, why we have not so far been served with copies of the Agenda. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Thank you, Hon Member.
Yes, Hon Member?
Mr Speaker, I am grateful. Mr Speaker, I have been following the activities of the Appointments Committee. For some time now, we have been absent on our national screens. I would want to know if there is anything informing that decision, why, and when they will resume their activities? Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Hon Leader, you may want to speak to the concerns raised.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Member for Keta raised issues to do with Standing Order 33 (1). Mr Speaker, let me commend him for developing such eagle eyes, and I hope he continues. Mr Speaker, as the Hon Minority Leader indicated, the Business in this House is about 90 to 95 per cent public business that ensues from Government. Mr Speaker, now, Government has not been properly constituted. As he indicated to you, if one even has to file a Question, it would have to be filed at a Ministry, and the person to respond to the Question would have to be an Hon Minister, who for now, is not even in place. We would need the Hon Ministers to be in place to determine the Agenda of Government. So, yes, the Clerk to Parliament is required to send to each Hon Member, a copy of the Agenda for each Meeting, but that could not be possible. Mr Speaker, it is also for the same reason Standing Order 33 (1) has the “if possible” clause. Mr Speaker, in any event, technically speaking, before Parliament was summoned for this Meeting to begin, he was not an Hon Member yet, he was only an Hon Member, who had been voted for, but to the extent that he had not been sworn in, he was not an Hon Member of this House. So, he could not have been served a copy of the Agenda fourteen days before he got sworn in. So, technically, he was not an Hon Member yet, and that point could not hold. Mr Speaker, the other one relates to the Appointments Committee meetings. I believe at the Committee level, they have scheduled their own meetings and of course, if there is no meeting, we cannot have a report from the Committee laid in the House. They have arranged their own modalities and we shall respect that, and subject to that, Mr Speaker, I believe that we could approve of the Report.
Hon Minority Leader, do you have any observation?
Mr Speaker, I know that on Thursday, 2nd February, 2017, on Presentation of Papers, “the Fourth Report of the Appointments Committee on H.E. the President's nomination for Ministerial appointments” will be laid. Mr Speaker, I note how hard the Appointments Committee has been working even through weekends. I would want to ask the Hon Majority Leader whether he has the sense of how many
Order! Order! Hon Hon Majority Leader, do you have any --
Mr Speaker, I guess the Hon Member for Ellembelle did not pose this question for it to be answered. I know that the Ministry where he was, was a very hot Ministry. He was struggling to get out. Now, there is some coolness in this House, and I believe he would want to activate himself to be heard. Mr Speaker, the purpose that he requires for planning is determined by the Committee. I am not in the position to impose a schedule on the Committee and I believe the former Minister knows that very well.
Hon Members, the Business Statement for the week ending Friday, 3rd February, 2017, is hereby adopted. Item numbered 5 -- Statements. Hon Members, there is a Statement by the Hon Frank Annoh-Dompreh, Hon Member for Nsawam-Adoagyiri on Peabo Disaster.
Mr Speaker, I rise to recount the sad story of the catastrophic event that took place in my constituency, specifically at Peabo, on 23rd December, 2015, and to make a passionate call for attention to be turned to the area for victims to have some respite. Mr Speaker, to begin, I continue to commiserate with the affected persons and encourage them to keep faith and never lose hope. I urge them to have confidence that things will return to normalcy. Mr Speaker, the unfortunate event which affected about two thousand (2,000) individuals, also took three lives, (may their gentle souls rest with the Lord Almighty) and left victims with various casualties. As I speak, close to five hundred (500) individuals have been displaced. I must emphasise, however, that not only people within the 10-metre radius got affected as was initially put out, but others as far as Kasoa, Pokuase, Asamankese, et cetera, experienced various effects and degrees of damage accompanied by the explosion. It is estimated that property running into about five hundred thousand Ghana cedis (Gh¢500,000) also got destroyed. This clearly is indicative of the extent of damage caused by the unfortunate event. In my capacity as a representative of the people, I took the pain to write officially to the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) and made efforts to ensure their quick response to the plight of my people.
Thank you very much, Hon Member. Yes, Hon Member?
Mr Speaker, permit me to commend the Member of Parliament for Nsawam-Adoagyiri, for calling on all relevant stakeholders to give some respite to our cherished brothers and sisters, who through no fault of theirs, have found themselves wanting as a result of someone's negligence to make sure that the proper thing is done. Mr Speaker, after this unfortunate incident, the then Deputy Minister for the Interior, Hon James Agalga set up a committee to investigate the matter. The committee came out with their Report. Lo and behold, the then Government decided to shelve the Report from -- even making it public -- [Interruption] --
Hon Member, if you rise on a point of order, you would look towards me, not him. Do you rise on a point of order?
Yes, Mr Speaker. Actually, we want my good Hon Colleague to provide the evidence that the previous Government tried to shelve the Report. [Interruption.]
Order! Order! Hon Member, please, proceed.
Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order and the reason is that, I want to urge my Hon Colleague, if possible, to provide the eidence that the previous Government really shelved the Report that he is talking about.
Hon Member, references to someone or the other shelving a report may go into motives. If you would kindly withdraw and proceed.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. I think the Hon Member --
Hon Member, please, proceed.
Mr Speaker, respectfully, I have withdrawn that part but the fact of the matter is that, the Government did not implement the findings of the Committee and I think it should be put on record. [Hear! Hear!] Mr Speaker, it would interest you to know that after the Haiti incident, the NDC Government took a colossal amount of US$3 million to Haiti. I think what is sauce for the goose is equally sauce for the gander. While our own people are suffering, the NDC Government decided not to look at their plight.
Hon Member, we know that with regard to a Statement, our rules say in clear terms, you would not say anything that would generate debate. You are to comment on the Statement made on the floor of the House. Please, restrict yourself within these parameters and let us make progress. Hon Member, you may continue.
Mr Speaker, in conclusion, we are calling on the Institute of Geological Services to live up to the needed expectations, in that -- [Interruptions.]
Order! Order! Hon Members must know that, when an Hon Member is on a certain pathway and the Speaker rules or directs, we do not have to come back until the Hon Member has said something else which is not acceptable. Hon Member, please, continue and conclude.
Mr Speaker, I think institutions have been mandated to play specific roles, including the Institute of Geological Services. And we expect them to be furnishing us with more precise information about the likely locations of earthquakes for long-term Government planning. Mr Speaker, in order not to stir further controversies, now that we have H. E. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, who is so passionate to improve the lot of his people, we are only appealing to him to institute a fresh probe into the matter in order to give some respite to the victims. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, I do associate myself with the Statement made by the Hon Member for Nsawam- Adoagyiri. The incident that happened was so bad that it even affected my area, Upper West Akim. If we look at the extent of damage caused to the people in the area, I know what this Honourable House did was to set a committee to look into the matter. Mr Speaker, we plead with this committee to let them implement whatever recommendations that were made, so that our people who were affected, would be relieved of the suffering.
Yes, Hon Member?
Mr Speaker, I would like to commend the Hon Member who made the Statement for drawing our attention to such an important issue, which affects the lives of almost every Ghanaian. It is unfortunate that we continue to experience such avoidable occurrences, which always have bad effect on the people that we serve. Mr Speaker, the emphasis here is laid on taking steps to avoid further occurrences, or possibly taking steps to mitigate the effects that these have on our people. As we speak, broken down vehicles are left in the middle of the road without any warning signs. Workers go to dangerous construction areas without wearing protective clothing and other safety gadgets. Yet huge sums of money for the District Assemblies Common Fund (DACF) are also set aside any time we have the distribution formula. We continue to experience open gutters and other things that affect people in the environment in which we live. We all should, as a matter of urgency, take these things seriously and ensure that whenever recommendations are made during such occurrences, we implement them to ensure that these occurrences do not occur. With these few words, I would like to thank the Hon Member who made the Statement and associate myself with it. Thank you very much.
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for giving me the opportunity to contribute to the Statement ably made by the Hon Member for Nsawam-Adoagyiri. In doing so, I would like to recall vividly the sad events that happened at a Peabo quarry site on the 23rd of December, 2015. Mr Speaker, when the incident occurred at the time, in the absence of the Minister for the Interior, I, in my capacity as the Deputy Minister, immediately visited the scene of the accident to assess the situation. I did that in the company of the Inspector-General of Police at the time and some other senior officials from the Ministry of the Interior. Mr Speaker, we sent a team to the scene of the accident to conduct preliminary investigations. Those investigations were carried out by explosive experts from the Ghana Armed Forces. This was to demonstrate the goodwill of Government and how serious Government took the issue at the time. Mr Speaker, after the preliminary investigations, we again found it necessary to set up an investigative committee at the Ministerial level, to carry out investigations into the possible causes of the tragedy at Peabo. The Hon Member for Nsawam- Adoagyiri, in his Statement, alluded to the work done by the investigative committee and an Hon Member suggested that the committee's report was shelved. The Committee did its work and came out with recommendations that we thought needed the input of the Attorney- General's Department. This is because there were issues of compensation arising from the Committee's work. So, we duly submitted the Committee's Report to the Attorney-General's Department for their input before implementation. Mr Speaker, this was where we got to before we exited office. So, as I speak, the Report, together with it recom- mendations are with the Attorney- General's Depart- ment. When the Attorney-General's Department makes an input into the issues of compensation that were raised, I believe strongly that the current Minister for the Interior would implement the recommendations. Furthermore, Hon Annoh-Dompreh has raised issues about disaster management in this country and clearly made an allusion to an attempt by the previous Government to pass the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) Bill.
For the information of this House, and as a matter of public record, the NADMO Bill was duly passed into law by the Sixth Parliament under the leadership of His Excellency former President John Dramani Mahama. Mr Speaker, the highlight of the new NADMO Act is that, it seeks to establish a NADMO Fund. With the establishment of the NADMO Fund, I have the strong conviction that the usual problem that NADMO usually encounters, that is, the lack of funding for its operations, would be a thing of the past. I would urge the current Adminis- tration to implement the new Act to the fullest. If that is done, I believe disaster management in this country would be taken to a high level. Mr Speaker, before I conclude, I would like to make an important intervention here. The issue of the importation of explosives needs to be taken very seriously. This is because what happened at Peabo was that, explosives which had been imported and detonated, wreaked havoc on innocent citizens. The problem we face is that, the existing legislations which regulate the importation of explosives are scattered, so, there is the need for us to harmonise those legislations in order to enhance the effective supervision of the importation of explosives into this country. Mr Speaker, classic example is that the Minerals Commission plays a role by first making recommendations to the Minister for the Interior, for the Minister to issue permits for the importation of explosives into the country. We believe that if those laws are harmonised -- the Arms and Ammunition Act and the Minerals and Mining Act, the supervision of the importation of explosives can be properly supervised to avoid the reoccurrence of what happened at Peabo. I send my condolences to the bereaved families, and may the souls of the dead rest in perfect peace. Thank you very much for the opportunity, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, I rise to contribute to the Statement. In so doing, I would like to urge Hon Members on both sides of the aisle that we are talking about 2,000 people who are suffering. As much as possible, we should be apolitical. What we are looking for is the solution to the current status of these 2,000 people. That is what matters. As a member of the Committee for Defence and Interior for the Sixth Parliament, we are aware of what my Hon good Friend has just said. But as of today, these people have not been helped. What we need to ask is how we can assist Government to help these people. That is what matters. So, I am glad that my Hon good Friend says that the matter is with the Attorney- General Department, presumably in the handing over notes. This House ought to ask that the Attorney-General comes back to us because we have approved them, and so, we should be told where they are. In case of an emergency, the Finance Committee can authorise funds to assist them; we do not need the budget. So, I urge Hon Members that we look at -- Mr Speaker, just over the holidays, I was in my house in my constituency, when a certain lady whose husband died in the stadium incident came to inform me that as of now, moneys have not been paid to her. That is the problem we have. Our job is to assist our constituents in such matters. I urge all Hon Members, it is not whether this Government or that Government did that. Two thousand people are currently suffering in my Hon Friend's constituency. We as Members of Parliament, what are we going to do to assist? Mr Speaker, I crave your indulgence to request that the newly approved Attorney-General, be invited to this House. I am informed that she would be sworn in this evening. Next week, she could, as a matter of urgency, apprise us of the situation so that we can accelerate how we are able to help them. With those few words, I thank you, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, I would like to associate myself with the Statement ably made by my Hon Colleague; the Hon Member of Parliament for Nsawam- Adoagyiri; Mr Frank Annoh-Dompreh.
Mr Speaker, I would wish to associate myself with the Statement made by Hon Frank Annoh-Dompreh and add that, save that the Haiti incident was one of force majeure, which means a natural disaster of global proportions, it is also very important that our media back home would focus on disasters that occur within our own environment and not only focus on politics. Mr Speaker, additionally, I would like to submit that as part of the prerequisite for siting some of these gas and fuel stations in residential neighbourhoods, there would be a policy of taking comprehensive insurance to cover their operations and persons who live in close proximity to some of these facilities so that in the event of such disasters, they could first have recourse to these insurance benefits before chasing other statutory benefits available. Mr Speaker, I vividly recalled the incidents that happened at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle; the Western Region; the Brong Ahafo Region, particularly in Sunyani; the Trade Fair Centre as well as the one in reference, Nsawam and I would say that we must, as a people, be very cautious and pragmatic when some of these machineries are sited in our neighbourhoods. Mr Speaker, so, I whole heartedly associate myself with the Hon Member who made the Statement. I thank you for the opportunity.
Yes, Hon Titus-Glover? Daniel Nii Kwartei Titus-Glover (NPP -- Tema East): Mr Speaker, I would want to congratulate my Hon Colleague, Hon Frank Annoh-Dompreh, for the Statement and also express my condolences to the families of the three souls that were lost during the disaster. Mr Speaker, I would like to take it from the angle of the inability to enforce the Factories, Offices and Shops Act which says that, institutions, shops and offices must comply all the time, first of all, in making sure that there are health and safety gadgets around and for the employees and management to put policies in place to ensure that the safety of workers and non-workers who come into these premises are well protected. Mr Speaker, unfortunately, we live in a country where people do things the way they like. Mr Speaker, it is only when disasters happen that we are forced to come and express our challenge and difficulties. Mr Speaker, coming from an industrial background, in the days of Aluworks and Ghana Cement (GHACEM), when we go to Volta Aluminium Company (VALCO), Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA), we realise that these are institutions that have laid down policies and guidelines, making sure that employees and non-workers are well protected at all times. Mr Speaker, listening to the Statement made by my Hon Colleague, I feel sad. Looking back at when the incident happened, 2,000 people were affected and 500 have been deserted and three lives have been lost. Mr Speaker, I agree with my Hon senior Colleague, Hon Alhaji Abdul-Rashid Hassan Pelpuo, on the suggestion he made that while we are here, if the need be, we could do something to support these affected souls in that constituency. This is because the pressure is on our Hon Colleague. Today, it is Hon Annoh- Dompreh but it could be any of us in this Chamber. So, what could we also do to support one another? Mr Speaker, the report that was done by the committee, under the Ministry of my good Brother and Friend, Hon James Agalga, and with the enactment of the NADMO Act — I am surprised that when the Act was passed, I did not hear him say that, at least, there was money put in the kitty. At least, it could have been a starter to support the victims of Peabo. Mr Speaker, so, I would want to state that we should be very serious when it comes to health and safety issues. It is not an issue that we should take lightly; it should be part and parcel of us. We [NII KWARTEI TITUS-GLOVER] [MS AYAMBA] should think about health and safety in everything we do. We would be able to save lives and enhance productivity at the work environment. I believe that in future, we would be able to avert some of these losses. Mr Speaker, once again, I would want to congratulate my Hon Colleague, Frank Annoh-Dompreh and I urge him to keep faith with his people in Nsawam- Adoagyiri. I believe that we would learn lessons from some of these accidents and that it would not happen again. Mr Speaker, I am very grateful for the opportunity.
Mr Speaker, I rise to associate myself with the Statement ably made by the Hon Member of Parliament for Nsawam-Adoagyiri. Mr Speaker, it is a breathtaking Statement that has been made. Mr Speaker, 2000 people being affected could not have been an issue for just one individual, but it has happened. The painful aspect is that, we have lost three (3) lives. We have 500 people who have completely been displaced. I believe that, even with those that have been displaced, we might find people within them who might have lost fingers, limbs, et cetera, and who have not been properly catered for. Mr Speaker, the painful aspect of such problems is that, the immediate care is given. For instance, if those who were affected were given mattresses, blankets, et cetera, what has been done after that to stabilise them and to make sure that they come back to life as expected, or as they were. Many a time, these victims are left to their fate and that is very painful. Mr Speaker, I would want to plead that, when these happenings occur, immediate action and some kind of fast-track of mitigation should be done, to make sure the victims are catered for.
Mr Speaker, if the EPA did not allow people to set up gas stations at places prone to fire or flames, I believe we would not have had this problem. Mr Speaker, the former Deputy Minister for the Interior said that it was caused by an explosive. I am wondering what distance it was between the place where the explosives were kept and the gas station, that this disaster should occur. Mr Speaker, EPA needs to step-up their game and make sure that very serious care is taken where gas and filling stations are sited in order to curb such occurrences. Mr Speaker, there is also the need for us to give training to those who work at gas and fuel stations to make sure that, at least, when there is a trigger of such a disaster, they would be able to do something to save the lives of those in the immediate surroundings while they call for support. Mr Speaker, I appreciate the fact that when the explosion occurred at the Trade Fair Centre, it was reported by all the media such as Facebook, et cetera,that at the hospital, the former President of the Republic of Ghana, H. E. John Dramani Mahama was able to visit the victims, associate, socialise and talk with them just to give them that kind of encouragement. Mr Speaker, we later on also saw the current President, H.E Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo visit the victims. Mr Speaker, I make this comment to let us appreciate the fact that, being in power does not mean that one is supposed to be the only one concerned. We should be each other's keeper. The victims are neither affiliated with the National Democratic Congress (NDC), the New Patriotic Party (NPP), the People's National Convention (PNC) and the Progressive People's Party (PPP); they do not belong to any party. They belong to Ghana and they are Ghanaians. Mr Speaker, for that matter, I wish to support the call that the report that has been given be acted on immediately, to enable us make sure that the victims are cared for, rather than waiting for us to initiate a new committee to do this work. While we are pursuing that, I wish to support the request that Parliament takes up the issue and sees to it that we help the victims who are concerned rather than leave it to the Hon Member. Thank you.
Hon Members, Statements time is ended. The Leadership may make a contribution now.
Mr Speaker, thank you for an opportunity to make a brief comment on the Statement made by the Hon Annoh-Dompreh on the Peabo disaster. Never again -- Mr Speaker, just to premise it with a very good caution you gave that, probably, if he was canvassing for bi-partisan support which should be the case in dealing with a national emergency, he needed not have thrown partisan innuendos which would invite the kind of opposition that he himself invited. Mr Speaker, so, we share your position on this Statement; a disaster does not know the New Patriotic Party (NPP) or National Democratic Congress (NDC); it knows its victim. And that victim is in distress and needs urgent attention. Therefore, to liaise the comments -- Which invite its own issues -- We are guided, Mr Speaker. We commend him for making the Statement. I am sure it is a constituency-specific matter and he expects results. Mr Speaker, but my heart was warmed when I heard the former Deputy Minister for the Interior assure this House that the last Parliament passed the National Disaster Management Organisation Bill into an Act.
Let us hear from the Majority side.
Thank you, Hon Deputy Majority Leader. Indeed, as Hon Members have properly referred to, I believe it is important that the Committee responsible for the Interior should specifically see to the invitation of the Hon Minister for the Interior, especially regarding this matter and for all other appropriate oversight responsi- bilities to be taken at the instance of Leadership. Thank you. At the Commencement of Public Business, item numbered 6; Presentation of Papers.
Mr Speaker, we are able to do both items numbered 6 (a) and (b); that is, the laying of Reports. Mr Speaker, as provided under Standing Order 151 (1), the Speaker of Parliament is the Chairman of the Committee of Selection. So, I do present this Paper on your behalf in the name of the Committee of Selection.
Hon Chairman of the Committee, item numbered 6(b)? Can the Hon Majority Leader assist in that regard? By the Vice Chairman (Ms Sarah Adwoa Safo) (on behalf of the Chairman of the Appointments Committee) -- Second Report of the Appointments Committee on H.E the President's nominations for Ministerial appointments.
Yes, Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I am guided by your referral and directive that the Appointments Committee Report be distributed in order to avoid what happened yesterday. Subsequently, Hon Members take very strong objection to the fact that they do not have reasonable and adequate time to peruse this document. Since this is of an urgent matter to help constitute and get the machinery of Government running, we expect that, as soon as practicable, copies of the Second Report of the Appointments Committee are indeed, made available to Hon Members to allow them contribute meaningfully to a debate in determining the matters thereon.
Mr Speaker, the fears and anxiety of the Hon Minority Leader have been properly catered for. Let him take heart. Our Standing Orders provide in Order 75 (1) and with your permission, I beg to quote: “As soon as sufficient copies of a Paper for distribution to Members have been received in the Office of the Clerk notice of the presentation of that Paper may be placed on the Order Paper…” Mr Speaker, unless the Table Office indicate to us that they do not have sufficient copies, the Hon Member may not respond. In any event, Mr Speaker, Clerks-at-the-Table are forbidden to speak when the House is in plenary. [Laughter.] So, let him take heart. The proper thing will be done, and indeed, has been done.
Hon Majority Leader, in that connection, what is the way forward?
Mr Speaker, as I have indicated, I assure Hon Colleagues that the proper thing is being done and we would ensure that the proper thing is done.
Are you sure that sufficient copies would be made available for the appropriate discussion?
Mr Speaker, the Table Office is not in a state of denial. I believe that the proper thing is being done.
Hon Majority Leader, what do we proceed with in the light of what you have said?
Mr Speaker, we would deal with item numbered 7 on the original Order Paper.
Order! Hon Majority Leader, please, make yourself audible.
Mr Speaker, we would deal with item numbered 7 on the original Order Paper which finds expression on page 2 of the Order Paper for today, Friday, 27th of January, 2017.
In that connection, Hon Majority Leader, you may move the procedural Motion.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that not- withstanding the provisions of Standing Order 80 (1) which require that no Motion shall be debated until at least forty-eight hours have elapsed between the date on which notice of the Motion is given and the date on which the Motion is moved, the Motion for the approval of the Second Report of the Committee of Selection on the composition of the other Standing Select Committees may be move today. Mr Speaker, I am moving for the waivers of the Standing Orders because of the exigencies of the times.
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion. Since it is procedural, I associate with the need to get Parliament's Committees functioning. Question put and Motion agreed to.
Item numbered 8 on the Order Paper -- Hon Majority Leader, you may now move the substantive Motion. Composition of the Other Standing and Select Committees
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that this Honourable House adopts the Second Report of the Committee of Selection of the composition of other Standing and Select Committees. Mr Speaker, in so doing, I present the Second Report of the Committee on Selection on the composition of the Committees of the House. Introduction In line with Standing Orders 151 and 52, the Committee of Selection met and considered the composition of the Standing and Select Committees of the House. In furtherance of this, the composition of the Committees of the House was based on the ratio of 169:106 as approved by the House. In constituting the Committees, the Committee was also guided by the conventions, practices and Standing Orders of the House. It may be recalled that on Tuesday, 10th January, 2017, the House passed the First Report of the Committee of Selection on the membership of the Appointments Committee and the Business Committee. The Committee indicated in that Report that it would submit the membership of the rest of the Committees subsequently.
SPACE FOR APPENDIX I -
SPACE FOR GOVERNMENT
SPACE FOR SUBSIDIARY
SPACE FOR SPECIAL
SPACE FOR GENDER AND
SPACE FOR MEMBERS
SPACE FOR FINANCE
SPACE FOR HOUSE
SPACE FOR PUBLIC
ACCOUNT COMMITTEE -
SPACE FOR PRIVILEGES
SPACE FOR STANDING
ORDERS COMMITTEE -
SPACE FOR COMMUNICATION
SPACE FOR ROADS AND
TRANSPORT COMMITTEE -
SPACE FOR EDUCATION
SPACE FOR TRADE, INDUSTRY
AND TOURISM COMMITTEE -
SPACE FOR EMPLOYMENT,
SOCIAL WELFARE AND STATE
ENTERPRISES COMMITTEE -
SPACE FOR CONSTITUTION,
LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY
SPACE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS
SPACE FOR ENVIRONMENT,
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
SPACE FOR LANDS AND FORESTRY
SPACE FOR WORKS AND HOUSING
SPACE FOR HEALTH COMMITTEE -
SPACE FOR MINES AND
ENERGY COMMITTEE -
SPACE FOR LOCAL
SPACE FOR FOOD AND
SPACE FOR YOUTH AND
SPORTS COMMITTEE -
SPACE FOR DEFENCE AND
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion and probably take you through page 2 of the Committee's Report. Item numbered 6 -- “the Committee on Judiciary” appears twice. We have it as item numbered 6 -- We also have the Committee on Judiciary as item numbered 10 --
Just a moment, Hon Minority Leader. Hon Members, with regard to the Business before the House, I direct that Sitting goes beyond the normal hours.
Mr Speaker, still on page 2, item numbered 7, we have “Communication” and the letter “s” is lost. So, if we could have that -- Mr Speaker, we should note that it is compulsory that every Hon Member belongs to a Standing Committee. It is very important that Hon Members are represented on it. I believe that under your guidance and chairmanship, a lot of work has gone to the determination of it. In every parliamentary system, there would be discontented Hon Members even as these Committees are distributed, but it is to be noted that, there is a delicate balancing act of mixing competences against regional representation together with matters of gender.
We should begin to ask ourselves how we treat the Committee system here, in order that we would be able to exercise oversight over those Ministries. That is also very important. Mr Speaker, my second comment is on the powers of the Committee. May I, with respect, refer to article 103(3) of the Constitution. Parliament should -- there has been an ongoing debate whether Parliament is a rubber stamp to the Executive or not. By the mere architecture of the 1992 Constitution, we borrowed the hybrid system of the combination of the Executive and Parliamentary System. It is through this House that we can make ourselves strong in the exercise of oversight responsibilities. Mr Speaker, for instance, if we have the Appointments Committee and Hon nominees under oath come to give evidence that are untrue, insincere or not forthright, by all standards, in any serious democracy or parliamentary system, those Hon Members would be perjured witnesses and must be dealt with in accordance with the law. Therefore, the powers of the Committees must be used and used well, especially when we are exacting evidence, whether oral or written from nominees. Mr Speaker, the other is for the Committees to work with each other and many of us would expect your good guidance on it. For instance, a credit facility comes to this House in respect of the building of a regional hospital either in the Western or Eastern regions. Mr Speaker, based on the Select and Standing Committees system, your referral is to the Finance Committee, but it is important that, it be to a joint Committee on Finance and Health, so that, in their Report, we have a better appreciation of what they would do reporting. Many instances, when they come, we are told that the Finance Committee has mandate over finance matters. I believe it should be your new attitude which you would outdoor, that many of these referrals, must be to the joint Committees. I could give several other examples. Another one is, a loan facility on education comes to this House, the Committee on Education is not used -- that is why change is good, functional and dysfunctional. [Laughter]. That would also be important. Mr Speaker, my other comment is on -- thankfully, you again chaired the Committee which I understand for some years, that I worked with Hons Yieleh Chireh and Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu. We must bring to closure, if we are reviewing and adopting new Standing Orders, let us do so. This Parliament should not finish the four-year mandate without an improved Standing Orders to govern the activities of this House. Indeed, now we have had groups or institutions attempting to evaluate the performance of Hon Members. Do they understand what Hon Members do? They do not. I am one of the strong advocates that every sitting of a Committee of Parliament must be public and not only the Appointments or the Public Accounts Committees. Mr Speaker, if the public is to appreciate what we do as Hon Members of Parliament, they must know what we do. Even with improved technology, we would bring that to guide. It should be possible, as I understand, that as we move to terrestrial digital television, that Parliament has a dedicated coverage of its own activities. Thankfully, I have seen the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) move towards that direction. We need to support and encourage them but I believe a public hearing of every action in Parliament through its Committee system -- Mr Speaker, this is because, a particular Hon Member may be very good and supportive at Committee level but because he does not catch your attention or get the opportunity to speak -- this leads to my final point. We should also, in approving this, strengthen the deliberative role of Parliament when matters come here -- State of the Nation Address, Budget Statements and so on. Yes, we would want to limit numbers, but to deepen the deliberative function, we must open it up. This idea where Leadership would consult and come with six or seven people, no. We must open up the process of debate. Mr Speaker, Parliament's deliberative function must be utilised to its fullest. [Interruption] -- What time constraints? That is what we are paid to do, to come and talk. [Hear! Hear!] Therefore, we must be supported to strengthen the deliberative function. Overall, a particular leg, which has not helped the reputation of Parliament is in the exercise of oversight. When budgets come here, we have very experienced hands -- Report on Budget Estimates. Sometimes, as Hon Colleagues, we are not interested in that work and not many of us want to pay attention to details. When it comes to Consideration Stage of Bills, we must urge our Hon Colleagues to take interest in the work of Parliament, that is my concluding remarks. Mr Speaker, the scrutiny of Bills -- I would give one practical example. Except where we have people with very good knowledge on finance, and I know the Hon Ministers-designate for Policy, Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, they were very good at it. We have a Bill which comes to this House and because we are not diligent in the scrutiny function, a particular percentage maybe earmarked, for environment fund, disaster fund, et cetera -- It has implications on the Ministry of Finance, but Parliament in its scrutiny, may just be interested but in getting the Bill and its clauses passed. Mr Speaker, indeed, there have been instances where this House has passed Bills which offend the Constitution. And the particular offence has been instances where its approval would be a charge on the Consolidated Fund. I am not sure in many instances, we have shown respect to it. So, I associate with it, particularly the Committee on Subsidiary Legislation. We have very good legal minds, so, at all times, attention must be paid to the pre-Bills scrutiny. When it comes to matters of Subsidiary Legislation, because of the new Supreme Court ruling and the work they do, when anything comes here, it would not be subjected to any correction or observation and that may render the particular Bill redundant. Mr Speaker, with respect to quorum, there have been instances when your Committees meet and there is the struggle to have quorum. Leadership must be guided. Mr Speaker, we should make sure that when we meet, we should have the requisite quorum to conduct the business of the House. But as I said earlier, it is possible that this particular engineering may have in itself created discontent -- a particular Hon Member may desire or wish to serve on a particular Committee but may not have the opportunity. I trust that with time, we would be able to make room for that. Mr Speaker, with this, I second the Motion for the adoption of the Report on the selection on the composition of other Standing and Select Committees of the House. Thank you.
Hon Majority Leader, I thought that you were in a state of movement. I would come to Hon Members but I would recognise the Hon Leaders in such circumstances. Question proposed.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minority Leader seconded the Motion for the adoption of the Report on the composition of other Standing and Select Committees of the House. We would subject it to further assessment -- that is, consideration by Hon Members. When Hon Members have made their own contributions, then I may be in a position to respond to some of the issues raised by my Hon Colleague, the Hon Minority Leader.
Mr Speaker, I rise to support the Motion that this House adopts your Committee's Report on the composition of other Standing and Select Committees of the House. Mr Speaker, I have just seen one new Committee and I do not know whether it is a new Committee -- Appendix 1-- “Poverty Reduction Strategy”. Maybe, it is a new Committee that the new Hon Majority Leader and Hon Minister in charge of Parliamentary Affairs has brought in -- that we do not know. Mr Speaker, the other issue is the Committee on Government Assurance. In the Sixth Parliament, the Committee on Government Assurance did its work, brought a lot of Hon Ministers as it were, to book and also did a lot of investigations and follow-ups on promises and undertakings made by Hon Ministers from time to time. I noticed that, it is one of the Committees in this House that could scrutinise and have oversight responsibility over the Hon Ministers. Mr Speaker, I would want to plead with the current Leadership to give all the support that is needed for the Committee on Government Assurance to do its work effectively. This is because, the Committee on Government Assurance could, and would be able to support the Hon Ministers to do their work and not give promises all over. Mr Speaker, I have also noticed that, during the Appointments Committee's vetting, most appointees have given assurances, and as the Hon Ranking Member, I would want to take judicial and parliamentary notice of those assurances -- that we would follow up to make sure that they have fulfilled those promises. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. I rise to associate myself with the Motion on the floor of the House and I have a few comments to make. Mr Speaker, I beg to refer you to Standing Order 168 which sets out the House Committee. And with your permission, I beg to read: “(1) There shall be a Committee to be known as the House Committee composed of the Majority Leader as Chairman, and not more than twenty-five other Members. (2) The functions of the Committee shall be advisory. (3)It shall be the duty of the Committee to consider all matters connected with the provision of services to Members of Parliament and staff, including accommodation, catering, medical care, library, research, working and other facilities.” Mr Speaker, my interpretation of “other facilities” include the security of Hon Members of Parliament. This is my second term as an Hon Member of Parliament and a lot of Hon Members have gone through serious problems, including armed robbery attacks and death. Often times, we find only Leadership being provided with security. All that Hon Members of Parliament are asking for is that, they should be provided with security at their residencies only at night. Mr Speaker, this is not too much to ask for by an Hon Member of Parliament who represents more than 300,000 people in a constituency. Mr Speaker, with catering services, I do not know what this rule talks about. It is only when the President comes to this House that Hon Members of Parliament are provided with lunch, snacks and sometimes water. We buy or cater for everything we need in this House by ourselves. I would want this Leadership under our new Hon Majority Leader to take some of these things seriously. Mr Speaker, during your swearing-in, your maiden speech was made up of innovations and I also see that you are chairing the Standing Orders Committee. I would want to believe that your speech and everything that you put before us; I trust that you would do them. You would ensure that all the innovative ideas that you set out in your maiden speech would be carried through. [Interruption] -- No! I am pleading with the Rt Hon Speaker. Mr Speaker, there is a Committee called the Judiciary Committee where I belong and on which I have served for two terms. Mr Speaker, in my view, it is a one-item Committee where we only analyse and approve of the budget of the Judiciary and after that we do not meet. I would want to suggest that, such a function could be placed under the Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee, when the Standing Orders Committee starts reviewing the Standing Orders of this House. Mr Speaker, I do not believe it was an oversight, but I have seen my Hon Brother, Hon O. B. Amoah's name as the Hon Ranking Member of the Subsidiary Legislation Committee. I know that my Hon Brother is going to serve on the ECOWAS Parliament and the Subsidiary Legislation Committee is one of the busiest
Thank you very much.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. I rise to support the Motion to adopt the Second Report of the Committee of Selection on the composition of Committees of the House. Mr Speaker, I would want to refer to a lack of consistency in the naming of Hon Members on the various Committees. If you take the Special Budget Committee, you would notice that the Hon Chairman is the Hon Majority Leader and the Hon Vice Chairman is the Hon Minority Leader. Mr Speaker, but we have the names of these Hon Members in our records, so, we would want the Hon Majority Leader's name to appear there instead of just describing him as the Hon Majority Leader. This is because, if you go to the House Committee, which is to be chaired by the Hon Majority Leader, his real name is inserted there, as well as the Constitu- tional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Hon Alban S. K. Bagbin's name is there. Mr Speaker, but when we come to Members Holding Office of Profit, the name there is the Hon Second Deputy Speaker, but we also have his real name available; we would want to insert his name so that there would be consistency in all the committees. Mr Speaker, if that is about convenience, we would find difficulty carrying television people to follow committees. What about if three or four committees are meeting simultaneously at various locations? So, in my opinion, although the idea might be alright, it would still be very difficult to implement. Mr Speaker, with these few words, I support the Motion.
Mr Speaker, I rise to contribute to the Motion currently being debated. This is one of the exercises that is undertaken by Leadership which inevitably brings a little concern from Hon Members. I sympathise with Leadership. The nature of the work is such that, one cannot obviously meet everyone's wishes. However, in my opinion, we should treat this selection as work in progress, and the reasons are several. First, there would be more appointments and necessary on the Majority side, there would be changes. So, on the Majority side, I would want to plead with my Hon Colleagues that we give them some time. However, there are certain cases that people have brought out some serious concerns that I wish Leadership would consider. We know that in Parliament, seniority makes a difference. So, unless one has sound evidence to suggest that as a senior, one did not perform well. Then, one would assume that if one is the most senior person, he is likely to be either the Chairman or the Ranking Member. Mr Speaker, the practice of this House is that, when Leadership gets up, including what I call the extended leadership; that is the Ranking Member and the Chairman, that takes away from all other Hon Members in terms of their contributions. We need to start to consider that. As I read the last so- called ranking of our Hon Members, some NGOs called “odikoro” said they did some ranking. It is not surprising that both Hon Avedzi and I are first and second. He is the Chairman, and I am the Ranking Member. Sixty per cent of the work here is financial. So, necessarily, we would be the major contributors. It does not mean other Hon Members are not capable. But if we would always defer to Leadership, that is what is going to happen. So, we are masters of our own rules. We need to begin to amend these things to ensure that other Hon Members get to contribute. Mr Speaker, another practice on which I would want to appeal to Chairmen and Ranking Members is that, we are not here as Chairmen and Ranking Members to dominate debates. It is our responsibility to be role models for our Members. There are committees where the chairmen do all the travelling. Even when they are not available, they postpone the travel. [Laughter.] This is inimical to the growth of Hon Members, and I urge Leadership to pay close attention to it. Mr Speaker, I would cite myself as an example. I was verbally abused by some Hon Members for trying to encourage members of my committee to take part -- As a Ranking Member, my job is to train other members. If we do not give them the opportunity, how would they contribute? So, I would want all of us to pay attention, that we must begin to change our practice, otherwise, this House would not grow. It is in our interest when new Hon Members contribute more. Then, we would be seen to be growing. Mr Speaker, yes, we need to begin to -- The committee work is what our whole work is all about. As for the House Committee, I know that Leadership has
Mr Speaker, finally, my advice to all Hon Members is that, one cannot expect to contribute meaningfully if he or she has not read the documents. Documents are sent to Committees and all of us get copies. Mr Speaker, how could the last Parliament pass the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) Agreement in one day? How many Hon Members read the document? -- [Interruption] --Mr Speaker, this is evaluation --[Laughter.] Mr Speaker, I want to urge Hon Members that they are nominated but soon they would be approved to serve. All Committees are important. Every Committee here is important, so, when Hon Members are asked to serve on any, I want to plead that our democracy would go further, if we perform serious work on the Committees. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Thank you. Two more contributions before we end. One from each side. Hon Member?
Mr Speaker, I rise to support the Motion on the floor of the House and also commend the Selection Committee for a good work done. However, Mr Speaker, I would like to draw your attention to the name of an ad hoc Committee called Committee on Poverty Reduction Strategy, also indicated elsewhere as Poverty Reduction Strategy. Mr Speaker, I used to be a member and I am still a member. As far as I know, this Committee was formed in response to the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) interventions at the time. Now, Ghana is out of the HIPC situation but the name remains ‘Poverty Reduction'. As a member of the Committee, we looked at various options. One of them was to call it the Economic Development Committee. Mr Speaker, it looks like the change has not been effected. I would use this opportunity to call on Leadership, that in future, we could critically look at the name of this Committee. In my view, Economic Development Committee would be best suited to the role that the Committee plays and is expected to play. On this note, I thank you for the opportunity.
The last contribution would come from Hon Muntaka. I saw you standing and I have to acknowledge you.
Mr Speaker, I rise to support the Motion before us. As Minority Chief Whip, I must acknowledge that one of the most difficult jobs to do is to help Leadership put up these Committees. Mr Speaker, I want to urge my Hon Colleagues, especially those who are excited about the Committees that they have been put on, to make sure that they do the best that they can so that they learn more and are able to contribute more effectively while on those Committees. For those who may be disappointed that out of the choices that they made, they could not get any, I want to urge them that this Chamber, in my view, is more than a university. This is because the archaeology to the zoology of this country is discussed here. Regardless of which Committee one serves on, one can create the opportunity for oneself on this floor to make very useful and relevant contributions to the development of our country. Mr Speaker, just to give a small gist. When Hon Members on the Minority side presented their curricula vitae and their choices, it was surprising that out of 106 Hon Members, 78 wanted to be on the Finance Committee. Meanwhile, the Minority only has space for 10 members on the Finance Committee. Technically, 68 people out of the 106 would be disappointed. This is because there is no way those 68 Hon Members would still get that opportunity to be on the Finance Committee. Mr Speaker, there were 52 Hon Members who wanted to be on the Mines and Energy Committee. Meanwhile, the Minority has only 7 seats on the Mines and Energy Committee. I am just giving these few examples to let all of us understand the dynamics and difficulty we had to go through. Our Standing Orders is very clear that in composition of these Committees, we have to take care of all the balances; regional, gender and all other dynamics. These make the permutation very difficult. I know there are some Hon Members who are not too happy. Like my Hon Colleague from Old Tafo said, in Parliament, we deal with seniority. Sometimes, it is disheartening for an Hon Member to see somebody that he or she thinks is a junior or fresher, taking some advantage over them. It can be discouraging for Hon Members. Yes, it is true, but I want to draw his attention that as a House, we need to also have a clear strategy for grooming people. So, it is one of the things that have to be done, and sometimes, it comes with a lot of difficulty. There may be experts; Ashanti Region has about 47 of us in this Chamber, but if 20 of us are experts in finance, we cannot lift all 20 of them, because they are experts in finance and they are from Ashanti Region to go and dump them. We have to be mindful of the regional balance that has been stated in our Standing Orders. So, yes, we may have two or three of them there, but we would have to consider other regions. We on the Minority side had a total space of about 46, because eight of the Committees are pre-determined by the Standing Orders on to who ranks or who chairs. So, the 23 that is left, if we multiply it by two, where we have Ranking and Deputy Ranking, it would give us 46. Mr Speaker, we have deliberately chosen six first timers to also start as Deputy Ranking Members as a way of grooming, and we hope that they would take advantage of this grooming, because, definitely, when the time comes and they have not taken very good advantage of it to help the Committee and the House, there would be time for changes. So, I would like to urge our Hon Colleagues, they may not be too happy, but there is always an opportunity when changes come, and we are sure that the Whips, the Leaders and the members of the Selection Committee would be watching, so that when the opportunity comes for changes to be made, we would make changes that would further strengthen the committee system that we have in the House. Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity.
I did say the last contributions, one from each side, and in fact, I did not see any Hon Member on my right. So, the “shop” is closed.
Mr Speaker, ordinarily, I have had my earlier contribution on the Motion, but I would want to contribute again. The Hon Minister-designate for Monitoring and Evaluation raised a very pertinent issue that I have some opportunity to respond to. Mr Speaker, I jointly chaired the Inauguration Committee with Hon Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey. I represented former President John Dramani Mahama and she was on the transition team representing the new Administration. I recall that, on the matter of dealing with Parliament, given our experiences, we were very sensitive to the matter. I recall that, at the first meeting of the Committee, I requested that Mr Ebenezer Ahumah Djietror represents Parliament in order to guide many of these processes. As much as one regrets what happened, it was just at the point of execution that Parliament was treated unfairly, therefore, we took every step. Mr Speaker, indeed, I recall that on the night of 5th and 6th January, 2017 we spent time at the Black Star Square to do an assessment on the seating, and we agreed that a dedicated motorcade be responsible for vehicles to be brought to the Black Star Square. I am sure the lax happened when the representative of State Protocol and National Security -- I am just responding so that we know who to hold responsible, so that next time, it does not repeat itself. We were very mindful that Members of Parliament, including myself, had complained over the years about how we were treated. It is like a stranger coming to my mother's funeral to weep more than me. This was Members' of Parliament business, therefore, appropriately -- Mr Speaker, my final comment has to do with travel opportunities. I say so because, we would need as Leadership, to take a decision. Sometimes, we yield too much to public pressure. It is true that Hon Members given better opportunities can learn through travels, depending on the conferences and businesses to which they attend.
Hon Majority Leader, you may have your final observations.
Mr Speaker, the issues raised by many of the Hon Members are very germane. I would not attempt to go through the entire list. Mr Speaker, first, the former Chairman of the Committee on Government Assurances, it was he who kick-started this process and said that some people have given assurances at the Appointments Committee, and he is going to hold them responsible. Mr Speaker, our Standing Orders provide in Order 174 (2); “It shall be the duty of the Committee to pursue all assurances, promises, undertakings given by Ministers from time to time…” Mr Speaker, I agree with him, that assurances given by Hon Ministers from time to time should be pursued, except that, his point of beginning is totally wrong. At the time they were before the Appointments Committee, they were not yet Ministers. Mr Speaker, that is for starters; but that is not to say that any person could go before the Appointments Committee and make any assurance without thinking through what assurance he makes. I am just telling you about their capacity when they appear before the Appointments Committee. Mr Speaker, in the same measure, the Hon Member for Pusiga raised an issue about the name of the Poverty Reduction Strategy -- [Interruption] -- I am sorry, I understand it was the Hon Member for Hohoe who raised the issue about a name change. Mr Speaker, our Standing Orders provide that, if there should be a change in the arrangement of the Ministries, it shall not affect the naming of the Committees as provided for in the Standing Orders. We may only need to do some structural engineering about the composition of the Committees and what reflection it should have in the performance of their oversight respon- sibilities. Indeed, I agree with you that the Poverty Reduction Strategy Committee came into being to reflect the vision of Government, and the Agenda for national development. That is how come I related to the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) Committee, which was influenced by a treaty imposed on African countries by the African Union (AU), that Parliaments on the continent should have Committees established for NEPAD. Now, NEPAD is no more, and so, we should know where to situate it. Mr Speaker, the Hon Member for Okaikoi Central, Hon Patrick Boamah related to issues about the provision of catering services and so on and so forth. These are welfare matters that should be determined by the House Committee. Mr Speaker, the difficulty for the non- operationalisation of the House Committee has always been that statutorily, it is chaired by the Hon Majority Leader. I am of the firm belief that because its functions relate to a lot of welfare issues, the House Committee should be chaired by the Hon Chief Whips. It should be the Hon Chief Whip of the Majority side as the Chairman, and probably the Hon Chief Whip of the Minority side as the Vice Chairman. That is how to really move the agenda of the House Committee. Mr Speaker, as it is now, and given the fact that the Hon Majority Leaders are often saddled with other businesses of the House, it becomes difficult to operationalise the House Committee. Mr Speaker, the Hon Kpodo is of the opinion that we need to have Committee meetings telecast live, just as the Appointments Committee, and even sittings in plenary. Mr Speaker, I would like to refer him to Standing Order 199, which provides that, and with your permission, I beg to quote: “No stranger shall be admitted to any meetings of a Committee without the consent of the Chairman, unless the Committee decides that such meeting shall be held in public: Provided that the Chairman of a Committee may, whenever he thinks fit, order the
Thank you very much, Hon Majority Leader. Question put and Motion agreed to.
Hon Members, I have just received a Report from the Appointments Committee. The House would be suspended for half an hour, for us to be fully acquainted with the Report and then come and deal with matters therein. Hon Members, the time should actually be thirty minutes.
Mr Speaker, we have seen the Report, but it has just been distributed to Hon Members. Whether it has been adequately digested -- [Interruption]
Hon Minority Leader, could we have the matter dealt with so that after half an hour --
Mr Speaker, Hon Members are travelling to Koforidua today, and they need adequate time to prepare with the Table Office. Therefore, I would be surprised that we are insisting on additional Business. We can do this on Tuesday.
Hon Minority Leader, the House remains suspended for half an hour, for Hon Members to study the Reports. When we come back , the House would advise itself accordingly. Thank you very much. 3.00 p.m. -- Sitting suspended. 5.35 p.m. - Sitting resumed.
Hon Members, Order! Item numbered 1 on the Order Paper Addendum -- Motion. First Deputy Speaker and Chairman of the Committee, you may please move the procedural Motion numbered item 1 on the Order Paper Addendum.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that notwithstanding the provisions of Standing Order 80(1) which require that no Motion shall be debated until at least forty-eight hours have elapsed between the date on which notice of the Motion is given and the date on which the Motion is moved, the Motion for the adoption of the Second Report of the Appointments Committee H. E. the President's nomination for ministerial appointments may be moved today.
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion. Question put and Motion agreed to. Resolved accordingly.
Hon Chairman of the Committee, item numbered 2 -- Motion. Second Report of the Appointments Committee on His Excellency the President's Nomination for Ministerial Appointments
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that this Honourable House adopts the Second Report of the Appointments Committee on H.E. the President's nominations for Ministerial appointments. Introduction On 10th January, 2017, His Excellency the President communicated to Parliament the nomination of thirteen persons including the five underlisted nominations for ministerial appointments and same were referred to the Appointments Committee by the Rt Hon Speaker for consideration and report. Yesterday, Mr Speaker, a Report on the first eight Minister-designates was put before the House and same was adopted. Mr Speaker, it is a continuation of that Report and this is the Second Report of the Committee. The five nominations are as follows: i. Mr Yaw Osafo-Maafo --Senior Minister-designate ii. Mr Boakye Agyarko -- Minister- designate for Energy iii. Hon (Dr) Matthew Opoku Prempeh -- Minister-designate for Education iv. Hon Kwaku Agyeman-Manu -- Minister-designate for Health v. Hon Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto -- Minister-designate for Agricul- ture Reference documents The Committee referred to the under- listed documents during its deliberations: i. The 1992 Constitution; ii. The Standing Orders of Parliament; and iii. The Curricula Vitae of the nominees. Consideration of the referral Pursuant to Order 172 (3) of the Standing Orders of the House, the Committee caused to be published in the national newspapers the names of the nominees and notice of the Committee's Public Hearing for the attention of the general public. The Committee also requested memoranda from the general public in respect of the nominees. As part of its due diligence procedures, the Committee obtained confidential reports from the Ghana Police Service and the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI). The Committee further obtained tax status reports in respect of the nominees from the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA). The Committee thereafter, held a public hearing to consider the nominations. Prior to commencement of proceedings, the nominees subscribed to the Oath of a Witness and proceeded to answer questions relating to their Curricula Vitae, their eligibility, issues pertaining to the offices to which they have been nominated and other issues of national concern. The Committee has duly considered the five nominations and reports as follows: Mr Yaw Osafo-Maafo--Senior Minister-designate Background Ing. Yaw Osafo-Maafo was born on 24th December, 1942 at Akyim Awisa in the Eastern Region. Ing. Osafo-Maafo had his elementary education at the Awisa Presbyterian Boys Boarding School from 1948 to 1956. He progressed to Achimota School, Accra for his Ordinary Level and Advanced Level Certificates between 1957 and 1963. Between 1963 and 1967, the nominee attended the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi and was awarded a Bachelor's Degree in Mechanical Engineering. He also attended the Metal Engineering Institute, USA and obtained a Diploma in Metallurgy in 1968. The nominee again obtained a Certificate in Management at the American Management Association, USA in 1968. He was further awarded a certificate in Project Implementation and Follow-Up at UNIDO, and subsequently studied at the same institution and obtained a certificate in Project Appraisal in 1978. In 1988, the nominee studied at the Economic Development Institute (EDI) and obtained a Certificate in Crisis Management and later obtained a certificate in Financial Sector Restructuring at the same Institute in 1989. He finally attended the Les Aspin Centre for Government, Marquette University, USA and was awarded a certificate in Education and Democracy in 1999. The nominee started work as a Process and Quality Control Engineer at the Volta Aluminium Company Limited (VALCO), Tema from 1967 to 1969. He then moved to the Capital Investments Board as Senior Investment Promotions Officer from 1969 to 1972. Between 1972 and 1976, the nominee was appointed the Director of the Ghana Investment Centre, which was the overseas office of the Capital Investment Board in Frankfurt, West Germany from 1972 to 1976. Later, he was appointed the Chief Operations Manager for the Bank for Housing and Construction from 1976 to 1992 and held the positions of the Chief Operations Manager and Managing Director of the Bank. The nominee worked as the Senior Consultant and Director of the Training Consultancy Management Enterprise (CME) from 1992 to 1996. Ing. Osafo-Maafo was the Member of Parliament for the Akim Oda Constituency from 1997 to 2009. He served as the Minister for Finance and Economic Planning (2001-2004) and Minister for Education, Youth and Sports (2005-2006). As part of his professional practice, he undertook consultancy services for the African Development Bank, the World Bank and assisted with the Financial Sector Reform of Uganda. The nominee was the Chairman of the West African Monetary Zone Conver- gence Council. Founding Deputy Chairman of the Ghana Stock Exchange, Director of the Merchant Bank Limited. He is also a member of the Board of Directors in several companies including the National Trust Holding, Nestle Ghana Limited, Plant Pool Limited and the National Development Planning Com- mission (NDPC).
stringent regulatory regime to regulate the establishment of coal power plants in the country so as to protect the environment. On whether the nominee would consider biogas as part of the renewable energy agenda, the nominee indicated that the plan to generate energy from waste formed a significant component of the Government's agenda for the power sector, and that is something he would consider seriously since a lot of waste is generated in the country. He also disclosed that Government had already received six proposals on biogas which were being studied to select the best solution that will serve the national interest. Review of power sector Agreements On what he would do about the Agreements in the power sector which have generated controversy in recent times, the nominee stated that he would undertake a periodic review of such Agreements and that Agreements such as the Karpowership, the Ameri Power Purchase Agreement would bereviewed. He explained that Emergency Power Agreements should have properly been for a period ranging from five to seven years, but noted that, some of these Agreements were contracted for as long as 20 years, with other onerous terms and hence the need for a review. Although the nominee admitted that MCC Compact II transaction is not an outright sale but a grant or a concession for a period of time, he raised issues of equity and fairness in the entire transaction. He indicated that the proposed review of the MCC Compact II is intended to find a common ground so that the project could move forward. He assured Members that the intended review would be done to secure the national interest. Energy debt situation Mr Agyarko disclosed to the Committee that the energy sector debts now stood at about US$3.3 billion. He further revealed that about eight banks in the country have exceeded their single- obligor limits by very high margins as a result of excessive lending to the sector and government. He was of the opinion that the debts need to be structured in a holistic manner so as to remove the danger that they pose to the affected banks and the financial system. He mentioned for instance that, the amount owed to one Bank alone stood around US$800 million and also described the US$160 million indebtedness to the Bulk Oil Distribution Companies (BDCs) as a tip of the iceberg. Recommendation The Committee, by majority decision, recommends to the House to approve the nomination of Mr. Boakye Agyarko for appointment as the Minister responsible for Energy. Hon (Dr) Matthew Opoku-Prempeh -- Minister-designate For Education Background Hon Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh was born on 23rd May, 1968 in Kumasi in the Ashanti Region of Ghana. He had his basic education from 1974 to 1980 at the University Primary School, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST). He then proceeded to Prempeh College for his Ordinary Level and Advanced Level Certificates from 1980 to 1987. He attended the KNUST from 1988 to 1991 and obtained a Bachelor of Science in Human Biology. He went back to the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology from 1991 to 1994 where he obtained Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MB.ChB). He later in 1997 to 1998 proceeded to the ERASMUS University where he obtained a degree in Clinical Epidemiology. The nominee has also under- taken several Certificate Programmes, mostly related to management, leadership and governance. These include Executive Certificate in Public Leadership, Applying Behavioural Insights to the Design of Public Policy and Programmes at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University (USA). The nominee has partaken in various workshops and conferences, including Legislative Drafting, Project and Programme Management and Monitoring and Evaluation. Hon Dr Opoku Prempeh began his carrier as a National Service Personnel at the Manhyia Polyclinic (Kumasi), from 1987 to 1988. He was first employed at Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, Kumasi as a House Officer from 1995 to 1997. He later travelled abroad and got employed as a Senior House Officer of the National Health Service in the United Kingdom from February 1999 to June 2003. From June 2003 to January 2009, he was the Executive Chairman of Keyedmap Services Limited, Ghana (A Private Security Firm). He became the Member of Parliament for the Manhyia Constituency in the Ashanti Region from 2009 to 2013 and now a Member of Parliament for Manhyia South. The Hon Nominee has held various leadership positions in his line of service to the country. He was the Assistant House prefect (Guggisberg House, Prempeh College), in 1987. In 1990 to 1991 he was the General Secretary of the Medical Students Association of Ghana (KNUST/SMS) and also the Local NUGS President in the same year. He became the National President of The Asante Students Union and Local NUGS President (1 st National Vice President), from 1991 to 1992. He is currently a member of the Ghana Medical and Dental Council and General Medical Council, UK 5189481. The Hon Nominee has won several national and international awards. Of these awards include, Best Student ‘O' Level Geography and ‘A' Level Chemistry in 1985 and 1987 respectively at Prempeh College. He was aslo the Best Student in Community Medicine and Best Student in General Surgery (SMS - KNUST) in 1995. He also won the University Fellowship Award by the Netherlands Government in 1997. Responses to questions Plans to implement promises for the educationn sector The Committee enquired from the nominee specific steps and timelines for fulfilling the Government's promises made under education, such as the abolishing of school utility charges, the extension of free Wireless Fidelity to all tertiary and secondary schools as well as making secondary education free. The nominee indicated to the Committee that he was yet to be approved by Parliament and the President is yet to operationalise such campaign promises. He accordingly declined to give the details on how and when those policies
Thank you very much, Chairman of the Committee. Hon Minority Leader? Ranking Member of the Committee (Mr Haruna Iddrisu): Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to second the Motion for the adoption of the Second Report of the Appointments Committee on H.E. the President's nominations for Ministerial appointments. I will start with Hon Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh, Hon Kwaku Agyeman-Manu and Hon Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto. Mr Speaker, I do so because the Appointments Committee, at its sitting, had no difficulty after considering these three nominations to, by consensus, recommend them to the House for approval as Minister-designate for Education, Minister-designate for Health and Minister-designate for Agriculture respectively. However, as the Hon Chairman rightly captures it, in respect of Mr Yaw Osafo- Maafo and Mr Boakye Agyarko, there was no consensus. But Mr Speaker, Hon Members, let me assure you that there is a possibility of the consensus subject to further consultations with the two Ministers-designate clarifying -- [Interruption] -- Their positions on some matters. Therefore, I will spend time on that before I go to the three other nominations. For instance, Mr Yaw Osafo-Maafo submitted before the Committee, the CNTI Loan scandal in the heading of page 7, that he had actually revoked this particular loan facility.
Mr Speaker, let me remind Hon Members that, he said so under oath. Therefore, the onus, that what he said was truthful or untruthful under oath, the burden would rest on his person. However, I insist that in respect of the comments he made about the CNTI loan and revoking it, we have no evidence to corroborate or support that position. However, further engagement of the Appointments Committee with him, may provide some answers that the Committee would look at. [Uproar.] The second matter in respect of the Hon Yaw Osafo-Maafo is a comment he made publicly. It is captured on page 8 of your Committee's Report on the response to alleged ethnocentric comments. [Interruption.] These were comments associated with him, which sought to polarise and divide this country and create tension. Mr Speaker, in his submissions to the Committee, he indicated that that was not He made that submission before the Committee. Therefore, we on the Minority side demanded -- in the tape we heard, he was alleged to have made statements that, if you were not from a certain part of the country, you were not entitled to lead this country. That, in itself, is an affront to the values of the Constitution of Ghana. Our Constitution abhors tribalism and does not promote it. To be fair to him, within the principles of natural justice, we want to compare what he stated as his comments against what is in the public domain. [Interruption.] In that respect, we would recommend that the Appointments Committee in considering him, would sit again as a Committee and I insist --[Interruptions.]
I insist that we sit as a Committee to make a determination because we believe that this House is capable of verifying statements and building consensus on this matter. Mr Speaker, the other nominee whom we said we should wait further to build consensus -- I would not be intimidated. Let Hon Members note that, in respect of the rules of the House, it is too early in the day to have a Majority decision on nominees. The best way to build consensus is for those clarifications to be provided and we would insist that the clarifications are provided in respect of those two comments. In respect of the Minister-designate for Energy, Hon Boakye Agyarko, he also appeared before the Committee. For the
He would need to provide further clarification on it. If he further checks his records, he would know that there are no three FSRUs, for which reason he could conclude that because there was sole-sourcing, he could declare that a particular person was corrupt. The Appointments Committee must further engage him to clarify his position on it against the debt. For instance, he said that, the overall debt within the energy sector is GH¢3.3 billion. Our checks do not show so. Our checks do not confirm. Mr Speaker, the energy sector is very critical to the survival of our economy and State. We think that starting on the note, where we cannot rely on the accuracy of his submissions, leads much to be desired. Therefore, in respect of the two, in order to build consensus, it is my submission that the Appointments Committee engages them --[Interruption] -- in order that they would provide more details to clarify these particular matters. We are dissatisfied with those answers and we stand by them. [Interruption]
Mr Speaker, I would make an application to you --
Hon Leaders, if the Hon Whips may please ensure silence for us to debate and move on with business.
Mr Speaker, therefore, in respect of the two, Mr Yaw Osafo-Marfo and Mr Boakye Agyarko, I would request that the Hon Majority Leader, and particularly the Chairman of the Appointments Committee, invite them to the Committee for us to take a decision.I believe that no matter how late, we would be able to build consensus, if they are able to provide satisfactory answers to the issues that I have raised. However, in respect of Hon Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, the Committee after examining him, came to the conclusion that he be recommended by consensus. I therefore support that. He is one Hon Colleague who had his own style of engaging the Appointments Committee in terms of behaving as one of our own. He has credited and discharged himself very well, particularly with his performance at the Public Accounts Committee (PAC). He has played various roles at various Ministries, including the Ministries of Finance and Trade and Industry, and I am told that he was a Senior Deputy Minister. By far, he served in the deputy capacity more than any other person. Mr Speaker, with his background in health and understanding of management, I believe that he would bring improvement to managing the portfolio of health. Indeed, he was very candid when he said that there were ongoing health projects across the country, including that of Bekwai, which is in the constituency of the Hon Chairman of the Appointments Committee -- some district hospitals which were on-going. Mr Speaker, he found the use of the word “collapse” too harsh to describe what the state of the National Health Insurance scheme is. So, after all, we do have a National Health Insurance system which has not collapsed, but needs some re-engineering. Mr Speaker, what was important, in my view was that, he knows the terrain he is entering into and the terrain is that, the health sector in Ghana is one of that which is always affected with strike actions. So, he said that he wanted a moratorium of six months. Given my previous role, I reminded him of major outstanding issues, including the conditions of service for health workers in particular, the Ghana Medical Association, issues of Government and Hospital Pharmacist Association (GOSPA), which is the Pharmaceutical Association which wants market premium and improvement. Mr Speaker, more importantly is his ability to absorb about 25,000 nurses who are on stand-by to be absorbed into the public sector to work within the health system, and that would have implications on compensation both as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and government revenue which the Government is working to improve. He also assured us that he would improve access to health care, particularly of the aged. Mr Speaker, in the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Manifesto, they promised free medical care for cancer patients. We would look forward to monitor how that would be realised. This is because there are many aged people who need medical care and who are suffering from cancer. Mr Speaker, he also bought into our brilliant idea that he could find additional financing for healthcare, particularly for the National Health Insurance, from the Annual Budget Funding Amount (ABFA), and that if he works out and makes it a priority, with a review of the Petroleum Revenue Management Act, the National Health Insurance would be better in terms of financing. Mr Speaker, we accordingly associate ourselves that he should be approved by consensus. Mr Speaker, in respect of the Hon Minister designate for Education, Hon Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh, we were assured of measures he would take to improve the teaching of native language in our institutions and particularly, for persons at very early age. He emphasised that he would emphasise technical and vocational education to deal with the skills mismatched gap and ensure that Technical
Hon Majority Leader, is there any indication?
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minority Leader in seconding the Motion, has shown in an application for us to further engage the two Hon Ministers-designate; Hon Yaw Osafo- Maafo and Mr Boakye Agyarko. Mr Speaker, one would have thought that the Committee has done sufficient consultations. But in the view of the Minority, there are some outstanding businesses they want further clarification on. And I am happy to hear from the Hon Minority Leader that it is possible to even, before we close proceedings today, have consensus built on the other two people. For which reason, I have undertaken to invite the two. In fact, as I speak now, the two of them are here in the precincts of Parliament.
Mr Speaker, while the consideration goes on, I would invite the Leadership of the Committee — I do not know whether it should be two or three from each side to go and meet them while the debate continues. Mr Speaker, my understanding is that, if the two people are able to provide the answers that they seek, then we can have consensus and bring the matter to a closure today. If on the other hand, after meeting with them, the attitude is still going to be that they are not satisfied and so we should have a majority decision, then we certainly may not have to wait until Monday or Tuesday. But we are not there yet. Let us please meet them whiles the debate goes on. Except to remind the Hon Minority Leader that, when he says, somebody said the Health Insurance Scheme has collapsed and he held him by that -- Mr Speaker, on that note, I would want to invite my Hon Colleagues, that it is for the debate to continue. The two people are here. They are in the holding room of the Rt Hon Speaker, and we can go and have further consultation with them. Mr Speaker, let me say that in the business of consensus building, there are a lot of consultations and collaboration and that is why it is sad to hear that while consultations are going on, somebody from within this House is penning some stories outside there, that Leadership of the Appointments Committee have been bribed. Mr Speaker, that is most unfortunate, and I believe that it would be important for this House to fish out whoever has gone to say that and put out that story to come with a proof. And if we get to know the person, he or she would face the appropriate sanctions of this House. We cannot begin on this note. It is not going to do the image of this House any good and it would inflict a mortal wound on all of us. Mr Speaker, I say this with all the muscle that I have. It is no child's play for anybody to go about labelling people without any shred of evidence. We should not begin our journey on this note. Mr Speaker, I thank you, and as I said, I would plead that the Hon Chairman and Leadership of the Committee go and engage them while the debate proceeds. We would come back pretty soon. I do not think that this should take more than ten minutes for us to come back.
Hon Members, while the House is deliberating, the relevant persons know how to get themselves to meet at the appropriate place. Nevertheless, after all, it is useful that we avoid unnecessary speculations and therefore conclude this matter one way or the other today.
Hon Leaders, there would be three on each side and we shall proceed, unless you intervene in some manner or the other.
Mr Speaker, that tells a lot about the calibre, quality and content of the Parliament of Ghana. The Parliament of Ghana is about one of the best in Africa. This is because we debate the objectivity of issues. Mr Speaker, on this particular instance, there are issues yet to be resolved. The nominees, as indicated by the Hon Minority Leader, have made statements that are potentially perjurious and capable of crumbling them while they are in office. Mr Speaker, I can foresee a situation where a Minister would be taken to court for statements he had made under oath. And so, if this magnanimity is extended by the Minority to them, to say that it is important for them to still have the opportunity to purge themselves of statements they might have made, which are questionable, it is only logical for us to say, yes, let us go for it. Ms Sarah Adwoa Safo — On a point of order.
Mr Speaker, as a member of the Appointments Committee, the issue the Hon Member is referring to, was as a result of a question that was posed by a member on the Minority side, who asked a question a purported or alleged statement that has been made by the nominee. And the nominee clearly stated, and it is on record, that the voice is not his. Mr Speaker, it is trite law, and it is evidence in our Evidence Act that, he who alleges bears the burden of proof — [Uproar] — And so, if they have any evidence otherwise than what the nominee has provided to the committee, then he should say so. But if he cannot do that, then he cannot put it on record in this House to have it concluded that it is a bad statement when he has no proof.
Mr Speaker, so it is important for us to look at it from a very holistic perspective, that we are building a tradition and conventions apart from the laws we have, and in doing so, we would need to ensure that we do not leave anything to chance.
Mr Speaker, anything other than that is an allegation and when one is called before a committee and speaks under oath, in accordance with the spirit and content of the Constitution, it is important to be careful. Mr Speaker, he is going out to be a Minister of State; a Minister for everybody, not for New Patriotic Party and not for National Democratic Congress. In that respect, you would have to even start behaving as such before you are even finally approved by Parliament to be sworn in.
Hon Members, it is very clear that there is division, so far as this issue is concerned. There would be three Hon Members on each side to speak to the issue and I pray that everyone waits for his or her turn and then we can make reasonable progress. Hon Nitiwul, would you please continue.
Mr Speaker, this is a matter that is very open to every Ghanaian. It came up during the 2016 Elections and the Hon Osafo-Maafo issued a statement to that effect, that the alleged tape that was being put out is distorted and not what he said and that it was done in bad faith.
Mr Speaker, I am a ‘northerner' and I can say for a fact that it is true --
Hon Members, you would have your chance.
Mr Speaker, to go ahead --
Hon Nitiwul, if you would wait for a moment. Hon Members, with regard to both sides, I will give everybody optimum opportunity to argue. I do not like heckling with the view to stifling debate. Hon Members would have thier chance and nobody would heckle anyone from the other end. Hon Nitiwul, for the moment, you would continue.
Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, Hon Yaw Osafo-Maafo at that time, said that tournaments like these are used to build up cities and so he would stand on his feet, put in the resources that Tamale needed to be able to host that portion of the tournament. So, he ensured that a stadium was built there with the consent and blessing of the President. Mr Speaker, Hon Osafo-Maafo also then instructed Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund) to build a hostel at the University for Development Studies (UDS). UDS, after the tournament then got hold of the hostel facility and today, that facility is one of the best hostels you can find across the whole country due to Mr Osafo-Maafo. How can you then turn round and call such a person a tribalist? That is very unfortunate. The course of natural justice is very clear; you the person alleging must prove the person guilty. He is presumed innocent until proven guilty. [Interruption] But today, we are alleging against Hon Osafo- Maafo and we are saying that ‘you are guilty; prove that you are innocent'. That is unfair; very, very unfair. Mr Speaker, I think we have had enough. A lot of consultations have taken place over these two nominees in particular. Ever since the Report was put together, I know Committee Members have been talking, people behind the scenes have been talking -- we are still where we are. I just hope that the last minute efforts that we are making yields fruits. I just hope it does. Mr Speaker, this is because since yesterday, you had the patience to postpone this Report. Of course, the Majority has the numbers and we could have voted on it yesterday but we refused. [Uproar] [Interruption.]
Order! Order! Hon Nitiwul, you would wind up. Therefore, in conclusion --
Mr Speaker, in conclusion, I would just want to state that the Hon Members on the Minority side have given their all in trying to build consensus. Mr Speaker, just a small conclusion on Hon Boakye Agyarko. He said in the press conference, and let anybody challenge the statement I would want to
Hon Nitiwul, you would conclude.
Mr Speaker, in the press conference, Hon Boakye Agyarko said, and I would want it to be captured, that ‘the President chose corruption over value for money' -- Mr Speaker, he never said the President was corrupt.They interpreted it to mean that the President was corrupt. What did they expect the man to say? I do not want to go into the issue of the Floating Storage Regasification Unit, like Hon Haruna Iddrisu said. They should find out the recom- mendations in the report of the study group of the World Bank which came here. What action did the Government take? They should find out whether the action taken by the Government was at variance with the report of the World Bank, or it was exactly what was said by the World Bank. They should do so before they start hanging Mr Boakye Agyarko for speaking the truth. Mr Speaker, I conclude.
Hon Member, you have your turn. [Interruptions.] Hon Members, I expect no interruptions from the other side. so that we can all make progress.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, this is a House of records. It is important that we are truthful to the facts at all material times.
Hon Member, what are we to do to the facts?
Mr Speaker, it is for us to be “truthful”.
That is unparliamentary; please withdraw. [Uproar.]
Mr Speaker, what I tried to say was that -- [Uproar.]
Hon Member, you should withdraw. The Hon Member on his feet would answer to that. He should please withdraw that word and continue.
Mr Speaker, I would withdraw and indicate that, it is possible that people distort -- [Interruptions.]
Hon Member, withdraw.
Mr Speaker, I have withdrawn.
Thank you; proceed.
Mr Speaker, it is possible that people could distort the truth for mischievous reasons. [Interruptions.] Mr Speaker, as a House of records, it is important that we address ourselves to those truthful matters before us. In the presentation of Hon Nitiwul, he indicated that the ex-President, John Mahama chose corruption over value for money. I do not know any other interpretation in the English Language anyone can give to that assertion without imputing motives of corruption.
Hon Majority Whip, ensure order on your side.
Mr Speaker, they cannot impute such motives and turn to say that person was not correct. As part of Hon Nitiwul's submission, he indicated that he who alleges must prove.
Hon Majority Leader, I plead that we have little interruption, and then he would have his five minutes. Otherwise, it would be forever. I plead with Hon Nitiwul; you would respond. Hon Member, go on and wind-up.
Mr Speaker, we should have adopted the wise counsel presented by Hon Pelpuo. Mr Speaker, there are five nominees before the House for approval. How come that two, which could not be approved on consensual basis have been singled out; but three were approved on consensus? Mr Speaker, it is important that when we have an opportunity to purge ourselves and send a message out there that this House would do the right and proper thing in the supreme service of this nation, and the good people of this country, we should not lose that opportunity. What the Hon Member proffered was that, we should take advantage of that and answer those outstanding questions and those lingering doubts, so that at the end of the day, when we approve them on consensus, it will enhance our image and integrity as a House.
Hon Member, conclude.
Mr Speaker, even when there are pockets of doubt about a person, he should be able to purge him or herself of that doubt.
Mr Speaker, they are not Hon Ministers of State for the New Patriotic Party (NPP) but they are Hon Ministers of State for the Republic of Ghana. That is why it is important that if there are lingering doubts about their integrity and truthfulness -- This is because they are going into public office. If there is any doubt that they are untruthful, they could carry that into public office, which would be a detriment to this nation. Mr Speaker, that is why we must take advantage of this process.
Hon Member, you would end here. Thank you very much.
Hon Members, we would speak one after the other. If you know you are capable of making superior arguments, just wait because your turn is coming. This goes to both sides of the House. [Hear! Hear!] Hon Member, please, go on.
Mr Speaker, I am for consensus in this House. It makes us a strong arm of Government; that would make us perform our obligations creditably. Mr Speaker, however, it is the case in democracy that when a matter cannot be agreed on by consensus, it is submitted to vote. Mr Speaker, indeed, let me refer to article 35 (5), which talks of political tolerance. We may have differences, but we should try to make the rule of law superior to all our differences. What are we talking about? We are talking about an allegation, which remains so until proven. One of my Hon Brothers on the other side said that one cannot have an allegation until it has been proven. When it is proven, it is no longer an allegation. What do we have here? We have an allegation that a statement was made, which had tribal or ethnic undertones. Mr Speaker, let me state here and now that I was among those who, as a matter of principle, demonstrated that there should be no comments against any particular group. Mr Speaker, but having said that, where is the proof? Mr Speaker, if someone takes an oath and says that “I did not say it”. I think he or she is telling you that he or she did not say it. If we have evidence to the contrary, let us produce it. If we do not have evidence to the contrary, let us go by the law and approve him or her. Does that make him or her immune to be called to this House? No! Mr Speaker, we have oversight responsibilities. Should we find that nominee's behaviour is contrary to what he or she said, we have the right to bring him or her back here to answer questions. So, I think it is a matter that is serious but we cannot, by mere allegation turn against the express law that the Senior Minister qualifies to be an Hon Member of Parliament and an Hon Minister. Mr Speaker, I am against dictatorship of the Majority, but as for dictatorship of the Minority, I cannot imagine it. [Laughter]-- This is because while I say that we should look into the merits and match them up together, I do not see why the Minority wants to dictate. I do not know why they want to dictate. It is not part of democracy.
Hon Member, in conclusion?
Mr Speaker, the conclusion is that, they took an oath to give evidence to help the Committee determine their eligibility by law to be Hon Ministers. They did not come to give evidence to prove corruption one way or the other, nor did they come to give evidence to prove -- Those are extraneous matters. What was the jurisdiction of that Committee? To take their evidence and determined if they qualified by the law, and if they qualified by the law, let them be approved. Mr Speaker, I would want to appeal that we should be tolerant--
Hon Member, your time is up.
Mr Speaker, thank you very much for the opportunity --
That is the final conclusion on my left, the final one then on my right, then Leadership would make observations and we -- Yes?
Mr Speaker, I would restrict my comments to the three Hon Members who the Hon Minority Leader says we do not have problems with.
Mr Speaker, out of that we are seeing a lot -- In fact, 123 new secondary schools being built at various stages. A lot of existing ones are being rehabilitated, including Adaklu Senior High School. We have seen buses, pick-up vehicles and everything provided to many of these schools. We have seen two new universities; one in the Volta Region and
the other in the Brong Ahafo Region and currently, a new one to be started in the Eastern Region that this House recently approved. Mr Speaker, he is going into a Ministry that has a lot more investment than ever before. During the vetting, he did talk about trying to review the GETFund Act. I am very proud that the Government under former President Rawlings actually instituted the GETFund without which educational infrastructure in this country would have been worse. So, I am happy that the Hon Minister- designate for Education said that, maybe, we need to review the GETFund, so that we could do more with it. I am hopeful that he would get all the support to improve on what we have done so far so that education in this country would improve. Mr Speaker, I would turn on to Hon Agyeman-Manu. Again, he is going into a Ministry that has witnessed the biggest ever investment in health care in our country's recent history. Mr Speaker, over two billion dollars into health care alone and out of that, we can see that today, Ghana's dream of having a dedicated medical school, not by accident, but by decision, is completed at the University of Ghana, Legon, so that we could train more health care personnel in this country. [Hear! Hear!] Out of that we can see health facilities of world class standard in this country. If one goes to the Ridge Hospital, the facilities seen there are exactly the facilities seen if one goes to any hospital in London or New York. It provides the opportunity for our people to have better health care instead of maybe, going outside this country. There is no ailment that cannot be treated in this country. So, when he goes into this Ministry -- I am happy that he said that those projects are pipeline projects that have not been completed. For example, the seven district hospitals would be completed, and he has made a commitment to that effect. I am also happy, that he says that he would see to it that the conditions of health workers themselves would be improved. I think the Hon Agyeman-Manu is capable of doing that. We would all support him to do that so that the investments we made could be put to good use. Mr Speaker, when it comes to --
Mr Speaker, in conclusion, I would say that I associate myself with the Hon Minority Leader that Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto is also a very good person but I feel that, if he goes into this Ministry and building upon what we have done so far, improving upon rice and poultry production, and also make more investments into this and limit the amount of politics, I am sure we could produce more food in this country which would be a better one for all of us. Mr Speaker, on the three Hon nominees, I associate myself with the Hon Minority Leader, that we believe they could do a good job at the Ministries and we in this House would support them to deliver, so that this country would be a better place.
The last contributor. Yes Hon Member?
Mr Speaker, I rise to support the Motion that this Honourable House adopts the Second Report of the Appointments Committee of His Excellency the President's nomination for Ministerial appointments. Mr Speaker, the five nominees; Hon(s) Yaw Osafo-Maafo, Boakye Agyarko, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto and Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh demonstrated that they were knowledgeable and possessed the required and professional expertise to manage the sectors assigned to them. Mr Speaker, the Senior Minister- designate -- Hon Yaw Osafo-Maafo dazzled the Committee and the listening public with his answers to the numerous questions that were posed to him. He was simply spectacular with his answers, even though he was drilled for almost four hours. When asked of the strategies of the Government to build a friendly business environment as enshrined in the 2016 Manifesto of the New Patriotic Party, he indicated that the first hindrance to friendly business environment was the land acquisition system and rent issues. He promised he was going to solve that problem in collaboration with the traditional chiefs and all other organs that are related to land acquisition. Mr Speaker, I took particular interest in the Hon Minister-designate for Education, who, after qualifying as a Medical Officer has undertaken several programmes mostly related to manage- ment, leadership and governance? The Hon Minister-designate for Education has demonstrated adequately to Ghanaians and our youth in particular, that he is a real mentor in the education field, who needs to be emulated. I take this opportunity to commend His Excellency the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, for this nomination. The Hon Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, the Hon Minister-designate for Health, spoke about devising a workable arrangement to transform the National Health Insurance Scheme, including finding sustainable funding to enable the scheme to work again and to also ensure the survival and the growth of the National Health Insurance Scheme. I think this is a commendable approach to ensure that the ailing National Health Insurance Scheme would be resurrected in the very near future. Mr Speaker, I also paid attention to Hon Boakye Agyarko, Hon Minister- designate for Energy, when he was asked whether he would consider relying on coal as an alternative source of energy. I think that Hon Agyarko demonstrated his awareness of keeping our environment clean and healthy by assuring the Committee that he would establish a stringent regulatory regime to regulate the establishment of coal power plant. Mr Speaker, in conclusion, I would want to employ the entire House to adopt the Report of the Appointments Committee as a true reflection of people who could work for our country and for the good governance of Ghana. Thank you very much.
Mr Speaker, I would crave your indulgence to allow a few more Hon Members --
It has been communicated to me.
Very well, Mr Speaker.
One more from each side of the House as we wait --
Mr Speaker, I rise to contribute to the Motion. Mr Speaker, based on my background, and with your permission, I would wish to limit myself to the energy sector since that is where I just handed over. When Mr Boakye Agyarko, the Hon Minister-designate appeared before the Committee, he made some revelations; some of which I agree with him and some I think he may have to reconsider. For instance, in modern trends, when we talk about coal, it is not the old coal system that we are talking about. In modern technology, we would be talking about coal supercritical with carbon captured. I would want to put on record that, with that technology, some of them are cleaner and environmentally friendlier than even light crude oil. So, it depends on the technology that you go with. So, while I associate myself that environmental issues ought to be considered, I would want to appeal to him to take a look at modern trends. Coal is one of the cheapest sources of energy -- In fact, when you take thermal plants, coal is the cheapest and the advantage with coal is that, we could do about a 1,000 megawatts. So, I would want to appeal to the Hon Minister-designate, that if he is approved he should take a look at that. Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister- designate also talked about the phenomenon of dumsor. Mr Speaker, we have made tremendous progress with power stability in the country and I would appeal to him to build on the positive record that we have left. Today, we have an installed capacity of 3,855 megawatts. So, I would appeal to him to concentrate as he indicated, on the financial sector of the energy sector. I am sure that if he consolidates the gains that we have made, dumsor would be a thing of the past. Mr Speaker, I could see that you are signalling, so with these few words, I would end here and hold on till we hear from Leadership. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Thank you very much, Hon Member.
Hon Member, you may make some concluding remarks -- two minutes.
Leadership, the result of your exit?
Mr Speaker, as you are well aware, it was part of my request in seconding the Motion that we work to build consensus and that in respect of three of the nominees, there was no difficulty at all. The issues we had were in reference to the Hon Yaw Osafo- Maafo, the Senior Minister-designate and Mr Boakye Agyarko, the Minister- designate for Energy. Mr Speaker, for that reason, I requested and made an application to you, that you graciously grant a part of the Appointments Committee to engage the
Order! Order! Hon Members, we must know the techniques for consensus development. Order! Yes, Hon Minority Leader, continue.
Mr Speaker, with regard to the Senior Minister-designate, he indicated to this Committee that he is not tribalistic and therefore, cannot be condescending on matters that are tribalistic in order to be an ethnic chauvinist. Therefore, he stands by the fact that those words were misconstrued, misreported and misrecorded. He gave us evidence on how far he relates to other people in other parts of the world. Now, Mr Speaker, in respect of the Chinese New Technique Construction Investment (CNTCI) Limited loan, he was humble enough to say -- [Interruption.] On the CNTC Construction Limited loan, which was a facility on which the Ministry of Finance came to Parliament, he rather would want us to say that it elapsed naturally and was not pursued further , but did not come to this House for an order or recession. So, having regard to what he has said and with those words, may I again, Mr Speaker, respectfully, with your indulgence and that of the Hon Chairman of the Committee, say that on page 8 of 24, we delete the words “by majority decision” and insert “by consensus”. So, for those who were interested in the shouting race, the essence was for us to protect the integrity of what submissions nominees make before us in order that this House is respected at all times as a House which romanticises records.
Hon Minority Leader, I respectfully ask you to restate the Motion as a whole.
Mr Speaker, I guess as the Chairman of the Committee, I would give you the conclusion. He reported because he sought leave that we go into caucus to discuss that matter.
However, Mr Speaker, the position as of now is that, the Report on Mr Yaw Osafo-Marfo be amended to say that “Yaw Osafo-Marfo is recommended by consensus. We substitute “by majority decision” with “by consensus”. Mr Speaker, in the case of Mr Boakye Agyarko, we substitute “by majority decision” with “by consensus”. Mr Speaker, with your permission, I move that the Report be so amended. Mr Speaker, I also wish to observe that, indeed, out of this meeting has come some other revelations and confessions, as the news that is going round that I have received money for Members of the Committee was created to play a level ground that the Majority had called the President corrupt, so corruption must be shared among both sides of the House. [Laughter.] That confession has come, and it has calmed tempers to some extent because some of us were extremely boilinh up. Now, knowing the source and where it comes from, we would find a way to deal with it, such that the entire Members of the Committee would continue to enjoy the confidence of the Ghanaian populace. Mr Speaker, having said that, I move that the Report now reflect that pages 23 and 24, as regards Mr Boakye Agyarko and Mr Osafo-Marfo, we delete -- Mr Speaker, page 24 of 24 of the Report --
Am I holding a different Report? Mr Speaker, with your indulgence, it appears I was holding the original draft which is not signed, that the last
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the amendment.
The Motion for amendment of the conclusion has been moved and seconded. I would put the Question --
Hon Majority Leader, we are just moving to have this duly amended. Then you may comment before we finally put the Question.
Mr Speaker, there are a few other areas that we should look at.
There are a few other amendments?
The first is page 11 of 24, this has to do with the recommendation in respect of Mr Boakye Agyarko, “the Committee, by majority decision”. It would have to reflect that it is by consensus. Mr Speaker, in much the same way, we have to look at page 23 of 24, “notwithstanding”, the last but one paragraph of page 23 and then we have page 8, the recommendation on Mr Yaw Osafo-Maafo. It would have to be amended to reflect the spirit of the consensus built. Mr Speaker, further to the statement by the Hon Ranking Member and the Hon Chairman, we may even have to look at the construct under the CNTI loan in the body of the Report; equally so for the use of the idiomatic expression “breathing heavily on the President”, which engendered a lot of heated discussion. So, Mr Speaker, subject to that, you may put the Question.
So, the overruling issue is that, all adverse references are hereby expunged and that we agree by consensus.
Mr Speaker, very much so. I am most grateful. Question put and Motion agreed to.
Hon Majority Leader, do you have any further statement?
Mr Speaker, having discharged our functions as listed on the Order Paper for today, let me express profound gratitude to my Hon Colleagues, those on the Appointments Committee in particular, and all other Members for holding on until this time. Mr Speaker, we started today a few minutes to 12.00 noon and even before we sat, we were in serious consultations among ourselves, beginning from 10 .00 a.m. It continued and I believe that it has ended well for us. Mr Speaker, once again, I thank my Hon Colleagues and I hope and pray that we continue on this path, because it was not going to do ourselves any good if at the very onset the --
Thank you very much. Hon Minority Leader, we would come to the general references. I just thought it was an opportunity for the Hon Majority Leader too. So, Hon Members, let me continue. I would put the Question for the final vote on the nominees as a whole. Question put and Motion agreed to.
Hon Members, I congratulate the various Ministers so approved and I thank the House for working effectively towards consensus building in all these matters. Leadership?
Mr Speaker, when you put the Question on the amendment, I assumed that the Question was on the adoption of the Second Report of the Appointments Committee on the President's nominees which has gone through, which is why I offered my congratulations to members on the Committee on Appointments and also Members of Parliament. Mr Speaker, having so properly restructured the putting of the Question, I would plead that the words that I uttered be now positioned after the votes have been taken and the Question has been put. Mr Speaker, to add, I conclude that I cannot finish thanking Hon Colleagues for what they have done this evening and to remind the new Hon Members of Parliament that, from here, they are going to be ferried to Koforidua. There cannot be any excuses. The buses are ready.
Mr Speaker, we have come to the end of today's Business and we are aware that our new Members of Parliament are due for an orientation, so, without much ado I hope that we would facilitate their easy movement to Koforidua. Thank you.
The House was adjourned at 7.25 p.m. till Tuesday, 31stJanuary, 2017 at 10.00 a.m.