VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS AND THE OFFICIAL REPORT
Hon Members, item numbered 2 -- the Votes and Proceedings dated Wednesday, 29th March, 2017. Page 1 … 9 --
Yes, Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I have a minor correction to item numbered 8; the Motion. Yesterday, I took time to explain the position of Hon Osei Kyei- Mensah-Bonsu in moving the Motion with respect to the National Media Commission. I said I was doing so as the Majority Leader and Chairman of the Special Budget Committee. You would recall that the designation had been the Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, and I insisted that I was not doing that in my capacity as the Minister for Parliamentary Affairs. The Hon Minority Leader found it difficult to make the distinction and I am not inviting him into this debate by that but to put the matter beyond dispute that I did so as the Majority Leader and Chairman of the Special Budget Committee. Mr Speaker, the same would hold good for items numbered 10, 12, 16 and 18. Those Motions that came from the Special Budget Committee should have that reflection. I thank you very much.
It is noted. Page 10 … 11 --
None Hon Member, do you stand on a point of correction?
Mr Speaker, yesterday, I was present but my name has been captured as being absent. My name is Edward Abambire Bawa.
Thank you. Page 12 … 21 -- Hon Members, the Votes and Proceedings of Wednesday, 29th March, 2017, as corrected are hereby adopted as the true record of proceedings. No Statement has been admitted, so, we move on to Commencement of Public Business, item numbered 4 -- Presentation of Papers. Hon Majority Leader, can we do item numbered 4 (a) (i)?
Mr Speaker, I rise to propose that we vary the order of business in order to deal with item numbered 8 on the Order Paper, the Motion in respect of the Electoral Commission.
Hon Majority Leader, I did not get you. Which item, specifically?
Mr Speaker, I submitted a plea that we vary the order of business as captured on the Order Paper and deal with item numbered 8 on page 3 of the Order Paper.
Item numbered 8. Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, we have no objection to the request to vary the order of business pursuant to Order 53. Before we move to item numbered 8, however, the Hon Chairman of the Appointments Committee is here, and if you could permit him to lay the Eighth Report of the Appointments Committee - - item numbered 4 (d) on the President's nominations for Appointment as Ministers and Deputy Ministers, so that the Committee can proceed to consider the public hearing of the outstanding, before we come to Motion numbered 8.
Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I have no objection; the laying of the Report just involves rising and bowing, so, we can accommodate that and then move to item numbered 8.
All right. Shall we then move to item numbered 4 (d), Hon First Deputy Speaker and Chairman of the Appointments Committee?
Shall we then move to item numbered 8 -- Motion? Hon Minister for Parliamentary Affairs or Hon Majority Leader? Hon Majority Leader, which one shall we refer to at this instance, now that your titles are so many?
Mr Speaker, I do this in my capacity as Majority Leader and Chairman of the Special Budget Committee, but I would just move the Motion and the de-facto Chairman of the Committee would present the Report in supporting the Motion that I would move.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that this Honourable House approves the sum of GH¢33,827,268 for the services of the Electoral Commission for the year ending 31st December, 2017. Mr Speaker, I seek your permission, after the Motion has been seconded, to make a contribution to the Motion that I have moved. Mr Philip Basoah (on behalf of the Chairman of the Committee) (Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu): Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion and in so doing, present the Committee's Report on the authority of the Hon Chairman of the Committee. Introduction The Minister responsible for Finance, Hon Ken Ofori-Atta, presented the Budget Statement and Economic Policy
as well as the cyber security four years after the installation, that is, 2015, but it has not been able to do so till now v. The Committee observed that the Commission has not been transparent in the recruitment of their staff and urges greater transparency to uphold the integrity of the Commission vi. The Committee further observed that the Commission does not impose on itself the urgency in the declaration of results and therefore creates unnecessary anxieties whenever it comes to declaration of results after elections The Committee proposes to the Commission to timely call elections so as to avoid pushing the country to the brink of anarchy vii.The Committee observed that because procurement of infra- structure, that is, IT and Cyber Security are in foreign currency, the Commission should provide the foreign currency equivalent to the specified equipment to enable the Committee make proper determination as to the value for money and also such that, in situations of currency volatility, the Committee will be able to better appreciate the situation viii. The Committee requested the Commission to have earlier engagement with the Committee and the Ministry of Finance early in the budget process to enable the parties to properly inter- rogate the request from the Commission ix. The Committee observed that even though since 2014 the Commission has requested and been allocated sufficient funds to establish the authenticity, eligibility and qualification of political parties with the view of proscribing those that do not measure up, the Commission has not discharged that responsibility. The Committee strongly urges the Commission to undertake their exercise in this non-party election year. Beyond the allocation for the year, the Committee recommends to the Ministry of Finance to endeavour to provide for the requirement of the Commission in respect of undertakings relating to non-election matters to enable it meet its challenges ahead. Conclusion The Committee, having carefully scrutinized the Estimates of the Electoral Commission is convinced that the allocation is necessary for the purposes of meeting the recurrent expenditure of the Commission. The Committee therefore recommends to the House to adopt its report and approve the sum of thirty-three million, eight hundred and twenty-seven thousand, two hundred and sixty-eight Ghana cedis (GH¢33,827,268.00) for the implementation of the programs of the Electoral Commission for the 2017 Financial Year. Respectfully submitted. Question proposed.
Hon Member, do not repeat the sum. We all know. You should give your contribution.
Mr Speaker, that is for the services of the Electoral Commission. In doing so, I would like to make a few observations on the Report that was submitted to us. Mr Speaker, if we look at page 7 of the Report, and with your kind permission, I would like to quote: “The Committee, as a general observation noted that there are deep seated mistrust among Members of the Commissioners especially between the Chairperson and the Deputy Commissioners…” Mr Speaker, I believe this is a House of record, and to the best of my knowledge, I know that the Hon Chairman of this Committee is so critical about these issues -- the spelling of words and so on.
“Members of the Commissioners”, it is incorrect, but it is not corrected in the Report. I believe we would have to take note of that. Mr Speaker, if we go further down, under “2016 Budget Performance”, we have the phrase: “presidential and parliamentary elections.” If we go further down again, we also have: “presidential and general elections”. I believe it should be “presidential and parliamentary elections,” or “general elections”. Mr Speaker, if we go further to page 11 of the Report, under Non-Election Issues, with your kind permission, I quote: “The Committee observed that there are some non-election issues that must be attended to now: i. The Committee observed that data centre of the Commission has outlived its usefulness…” Mr Speaker, if we go further down to (ii), it reads, and with your permission, I quote: “The infrastructure at the IT Department of the Commission which was also installed in 2011 must be upgraded…”
“The Committee was informed that there is virtually no proper cyber security at the Commission….” Mr Speaker, we are all aware, and the Committee is especially aware that the Electoral Commission has a lot of challenges that hamper its operations. If we go to page 12 of the same Report, it reads, and I beg to quote: “The Committee further observed that the Commission does not impose on itself the urgency in the declaration of results and therefore creates unnecessary anxieties whenever it comes to declaration of results after elections.”
The Hon Minority Leader would contribute to this debate and then proceed to the Appointments Committee.
Mr Speaker, thank you for the indulgence. Mr Speaker, I rise to speak in support of the Motion for the approval of the GH¢33,827,268 for the implementation of the programmes of the Electoral Commis- sion for the 2017 financial year. Mr Speaker, I would strongly state that this amount is woefully inadequate for the activities of the Commission, noting that in 2016, they still had outstanding obligations. It is important that the Institution and the Commission is supported by the Ministry of Finance to be able to look at that . Mr Speaker, may I kindly refer you to page 10, paragraph 9.4 of your Committee's Report. The actual requirement of the Electoral Commission was GH¢100,453,215 as against an allocation -- I am referring to the 2016 period, though. Mr Speaker, if you go further to page 6 of your Committee's Report, in the 2017 budget requirement allocation, I got it right. It is GH¢100,453,215 against actual allocation of GH¢33,827,268. The variance is GH¢66,625,947. Mr Speaker, it is also important that I join Hon Colleagues in commending the Electoral Commission. No matter what the challenges were, no matter the comments that we all made, we conducted successful presidential and parliamentary elections in Ghana in December 2016. The outcome of the elections is a new Government based on the exercise of the sovereign will of the people of Ghana and a new Parliament properly constituted. Therefore, no matter what the challenges are, they deserve our commendation for conducting free, fair and credible elections. Mr Speaker, much can be done to improve the electoral landscape of this country, however, and I believe that we should push further for deeper electoral reforms. The first would be that in future, the EC together with all the stakeholders -- Political parties must be an integral part of it pursuant to article 55 of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana; our political parties would have a role to play. Mr Speaker, there was uneasiness even as the Commission wanted to declare the results. That should not be case. I believe that they must improve their data collection system and we must, as a country, decide that not later than 48 hours or 72 hours, the outcome of the presidential elections must be made known. As a country, we must build a consensus on that. I do not think that 48 hours -- It should be adequate enough. In times past, the problem was whether results from Afram Plains has come and whether those from another deprived part of the country, maybe, Asunafo and others have come. Whatever it is, in the world of technology, we should come to a consensus as a country as to the time period allowed for the declaration of the results subject to a final declaration which the Constitution requires to be gazetted. This is because for persons who may want to question the outcome of the elections, they should also be able to do so. Mr Speaker, the uneasiness in 2016 could have plunged the country into a crisis of a sort and that can undermine the way forward in deepening our democracy. Undoubtedly, Mr Speaker, Ghana stands out as a beacon of hope in democratic practice. Our EC is a good and better example for many countries. In fact, I had cause to work with the Electoral Commission of Zambia before one of their elections and there were lessons from Ghana's electoral landscape that we shared with them. Mr Speaker, finally, when we debated the budget -- and may I refer you to page 4 of your Committee's Report -- In the course of the debate of the Budget Statement, I stated here that we needed to understand the many factors that contributed to the fiscal slippage and consequently, the huge budget deficit. In that debate, when I said that the EC had a budget of GH¢1.1 billion, I was questioned. Now, the evidence is here that it is not just the GH¢822 million that was spent but there was an additional GH¢316 million. So for the conduct of the presidential and parliamentary elections alone, the nation had to spend GH¢1.1 billion. Even as we negotiated with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for fiscal space to be able to conduct this election, which was key to our good governance measure, the IMF was very reluctant and felt that there should be discipline. Discipline to produce a Government and for good governance was an imperative. So it is important that we
The noise in the Chamber does not suggest that you are carefully listening to these serious arguments. I would pray that we give a lot of attention to such matters. Hon Minority Leader, please proceed.
Mr Speaker, I would conclude on this point and it is just to state that part of the contribution to the fiscal deficit and what has been described by economists as a worrying fiscal slippage was the commitment of money to undertake this constitutional imperative of the conduct of presidential and parliamentary elections. Even the EC initially wanted GH¢822,897,500 from the state and the Government ended up providing GH¢1.1 billion. Mr Speaker, my final comment is constituency specific. In the Tamale South Constituency, even as they attempted to reach the headquarters to remit my results, the connection between the EC's district office and national office was problematic and sometimes that accounted for the delays in them calling the results at the national level. I also suffered in some communities, particularly, Tua, Manguli-Manguli Kukuo where voters refused to vote because their expectation was that they would have a dedicated polling centre given to them but which assurance was not provided. So, on election day, I did everything possible; I went to Tua, Manguli-Manguli Kukuo. Mr Speaker, it is a rivalry among some of the villages. They said that once the ballot box was in the other rival village, they were not prepared to travel to go and vote. That affected my fortunes. Even though the fortunes still brought me here, I felt that the numbers could have been better. I would urge the EC to expand the polling stations where appropriate. I speak in respect of Tamale South. I have 158 polling stations. I need to increase it because I have people in a community like Chichelli who do not want to go to Nanton Zuo to vote. With these few comments, Mr Speaker, I believe the EC deserves our commendation. On the matter of the Chairperson of the Commission and her deputies, I believe that leadership would engage them. I am sure that civil society would engage them further. There would be personal differences but that should not affect the conduct of its business. Mr Speaker, as the Hon Majority Leader chaired the Committee and with my background of having worked at the Ministry of Communications, the EC must begin steps to develop a redundant Information and Communication Technology (ICT). We cannot rely on one source for collating and declaring results. They must have redundant infrastructure that where a particular system fails them
Mr Speaker. I rise to support the Motion for the approval of the sum of GH¢33,827,268 --
Hon Member, I would be very glad if we do not always go back on the amount of money we are going to talk on. Let us end up here. Please make your point. 11. 15 a. m.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. I rise to support the Motion for the approval of the money for the EC. Mr Speaker, it is without doubt that our choice of democracy, as a means of governing this country, relies heavily on the free, fair and credible elections and also the decision by the masses -- the process where they can decide on issues through various referenda. In this direction, Mr Speaker, I believe we would all admit that the EC has played a very important role and supported our democracy which has become the beacon of proper governance on the African continent. Since 1992, our Electoral Commission has not only successfully managed seven elections, but the immediate past Head of the Electoral Commission has, because of the work that they have done, assisted a lot of African countries to establish their democracy and also to ensure that, what we are doing here is replicated on the African continent. Mr Speaker, in this direction, when we go to page 5 of the Report, I must say that the operations that they intend to do this year by conducting post-election evaluation of the 2016 Elections are arrived at strengthening their processes and ensuring that the lessons that are learned are dovetailed into our process, and that as we go further, we are able to provide very good, credible and fair elections. Mr Speaker, it is also very important that our process of decentralisation through the District Level Assembly Elections is something that has brought governance to the doorsteps of the masses of the people. The bottom-up approach through the District Assemblies is not only the most preferred way of governance but it is also the right way to ensure that all the people have a say in how this country is governed and how they also have a say in how their communities are governed. Mr Speaker, the observations on page 7 of the Report regarding the working relationship between the Head and other Commissioners, which I think as the Hon Minority Leader said, is something that the Leadership of this House must work on. As someone who is designated as a Deputy Minister for the Ministry of Communications, I would like to touch on the issues on page 11. Mr Speaker, the issue of Data Centres (DCs) in paragraph 1, on the non-election issues, is a source of worry for some of us. This is because, as we speak now, the Government, through the Ministry of Communications, has invested a lot via the National Infrastructure Technology Agency (NITA) in the database. As we speak, there is redundant space where not only the Electoral Commission, but other Government agencies could tap into. We do not need to set up parallel Data Centres when the Government has borrowed and invested heavily in Data Centres in this country. I am sure as the substantive Hon Minister told the Committee and has repeated it in this
Thank you. Hon Majority Leader, would you like to make a comment?
Mr Speaker, respectfully, given the importance of the EC's affairs, if you may allow a couple of contributors, then I would wind up.
Maybe, you want to come in later?
Yes, Mr Speaker.
Very well. Yes, Hon Member?
Mr Speaker, I rise to support the Report of the Special Budget Committee on the 2017 Budget Estimates of the Electoral Commission. Mr Speaker, may I refer the House to page 6; the Table on the breakdown of 2017 Budget Requirement and Allocation. Mr Speaker, before the 2016 General Elections, the Electoral Commission conducted a nationwide process of replacing lost cards. Voters were asked to pay GH¢5.00 at Ghana Commercial Banks for their --[Interruptions]-- But looking at the Table, there is no provision for Internally Generated Fund (IGF). May the Electoral Commission inform the House of how these moneys collected before the 2016 General Elections were accounted for? Secondly, Mr Speaker, my other reservation is, the ingenious ways of the Electoral Commission in raising money to support other services. Some of us who were parliamentary candidates before the 2016 General Elections, paid something like GH¢25, 000.00 to produce colour photo albums for the 177 Polling Stations in Subin.
Mr Speaker, the E.C. has persistently refused -- [Interruption.]
Hon Members, let there be order and decorum.
Mr Speaker, the EC has persistently refused to agree to this simple way of raising money for the Electoral Commission. In advanced countries like the Great Britain, for example, polling station albums are collected from the local libraries and so on. And these are ways the EC could look at, in raising revenue to support their services. Mr Speaker, with these few words, I end by saying that we need the EC to appear before us, to explain how these GH¢5.00 collected for the replacement of ID cards were accounted for. I am most grateful, Mr Speaker.
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity. We would all agree that the EC is a very important institution -- [Interruption]--
Mr Speaker, the survival of our current multi-party democracy, to a reasonable extent, depends on the effectiveness of the EC. So, such an important Commission should not be denied of a reasonable funding for their activities. Mr Speaker, it is not only in an election year that we must try to give adequate funding for the EC. This is because they do most of these things throughout the year, and it would be important that, even in a period like this, we give them enough funding for them to be able to put in structures that would make sure that we have credible elections in this country. Mr Speaker, a critical look at the Report reveals that the Electoral Commission (EC) is being given just about 33.6 per cent of their requirements and that is woefully inadequate. Mr Speaker, the Report stated along the line that they do not have credible Information Technology (IT) infrastructure and cyber security and this is threatening. You would realise that, if the EC installs IT infrastructure in an election year, people always have doubts about the reliability of some of these infrastructure. So, it would be very important that they do it in advance, like in a year like this, so that they test it with less competitive elections like the District Assembly Elections and the other elections that they supervise. So, by the time there is a more competitive election, like the presidential and parliamentary elections, people would have a reasonable amount of confidence in the systems that the EC uses. This would minimise the suspicion that always come around. Mr Speaker, the EC is being given a capital expenditure of GH¢500,000.00 for the whole year. This is just too low. If you look at some of the ongoing projects of the EC, like the one in Akosombo, which is a huge office, which I understand would serve as a depot that would service the Volta Region and surrounding areas --
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for giving me this opportunity to make my contribution to this Motion. Elections in Ghana are very important to the success of our democracy. Democracy is not cheap as we know it but a better form of government compared to others. For that reason, I believe that the EC should be supported heavily to carry out all their activities that would help us develop this country. Mr Speaker, Ghana's democracy or our continued political stability that we enjoy today is attractive to a lot of foreign investors. So far, if you go outside the country - I was in the United States of America (USA) and people would say, Ghana's political stability is attractive to us. We would like to come to Ghana to invest because we know that when you come to Ghana, you would have a stable Government so you could carry out your business. For that matter, it is important that this august House supports the EC in all forms of their activities. One of the things that we have observed in this county is that, during competitive elections, you would see that most of our people are scared for their lives. So, we must ensure that the EC is supported in ways that would make it very transparent, and people could have confidence in whatever they do. I do not believe that in Ghana, when we are about to have elections, people should be worried about whether the outcome of the elections would be accepted. We should take all measures necessary to ensure that we go for elections in peace and come out in peace. We should also make sure that we sustain the democracy that we have achieved so far.
Hon Majority Leader, your concluding remarks at this stage.
Very well, Hon Deputy Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, thank you very much. I want to correct some of the figures that are in the Report. Could the Chairman of the Committee take note of these? The first one is on page 8, paragraph 9.2 if you sum up the “Expenditure item”, the total captured on page 9 should not be GH¢800,000,000.00. If you sum up the five items, they sum up to GH¢1,093,000,751.00. So, could he correct that? If you go further to the narrative on page 9, it is indicated that out of an amount of GH¢1,093,000,751.00 required for election related expenses, only GH¢870,000,000.00 was released. Mr Speaker, if you go back to page 4 of the Report, Table 1, actual allocation shown there is GH¢822,897,500.00 So if actual allocation is GH¢822,897,500.00, how come an amount of GH¢870,000,000.00 was released to the EC? Could he correct that as well? On page 9, the amount is stated as GH¢870,000,000.00, as compared to page 4 of GH¢822,897,500.00. There is a discrepancy there, so the correction should be effected. On the same page 9, in the first paragraph: “The Committee was informed that the Ministry of Finance granted clearance for the Commission to access an amount GH¢130,000,000 but the Commission accessed the amount.” What does it mean? It further says: “The Commission is unable to settle its obligations including payment to service providers…” If you accessed the amount, why are you unable to settle these people? So I believe they wanted to say that the Commission was unable to access the amount. So could Mr Chairman take care of that as well? Mr Speaker, the last one is on page 4, after the 2016 allocation of GH¢822,897,500. It is indicated that: “However, due to the cash requirement for the 2016 elections, actual expenditure stood at one billion, one hundred and thirty-nine million, eight hundred and eighty- five thousand, nine hundred and ninety-one Ghana cedis (GH¢1,139,885,991.00). The actual requirements of the Commission as against the allocation is shown in Table 1.” If you say that the cash requirement for the election is GH¢1,093,000,751.00 and also say that the actual expenditure stood at GH¢1,093,000,751.00, that is not presented on the table. What is presented on the table as the actual expenditure was GH¢822,897,500. However, he said the actual expenditure was GH¢1,139,885,991.00. So, there is a problem here as well, and if the Hon Chairman could take note and correct them, then we could approve the Report.
Thank you very much. Mr Speaker, I am most grateful to Hon Members who have commented on the report. But a quick response to the issues raised by the Hon Deputy Minority Leader. Mr Speaker, on page 4 of the Report; Table 1: — 2016 Allocation and Actual Releases as at 31/12/2016. The request from the Commission amounted to GH¢1.2 billion. Their actual expenditure came to GH¢1,139,885,990. But the actual allocation to the Commission was GH¢822,897,500. Mr Speaker, continuing, Hon Members would remember that the Commission had submitted a request for an expenditure amount of about GH¢1.5 billion. The Special Budget Committee engaged them on three different occasions and we were able to bring the figure down to GH¢1.2 billion. We further requested them to interrogate the GH¢1.2 billion in the presence of the then, Minister for Finance, Hon Seth Terkper. We had all these meetings with him, and the Ministry was happy about the work that the Special Budget Committee was able to do. We requested them to further interrogate even the GH¢1.2 billion, which explains why at the end of the day, they are now telling us
“The Commission is therefore unable to settle its obligations including payments to service providers and transfers to its local offices to the tune of GH¢223,751,000 that is mentioned.” Mr Speaker, another correction on the table on page 10; the year is 2017 and not 2016. I am sorry we have to walk the House through this. I have done these corrections, and I expected the Clerks to do that. Unfortunately, they have repeated almost the same thing as I corrected. It is a tragic reflection of the work of the Committee. But people know that -- those of them who are there, especially my humble self and the Hon Minority Leader, are capable of doing much better than it is reflected in this Report. Mr Speaker, having said so, and I also agree with the Hon Member who first spoke; that the second line on page 7 should read: “Members of the Commission” and not “Members of the Commissioners”. Again, I corrected that. I am sorry — The last line in that first paragraph — The word, “impact” should also read, “impacts”, to read: “This undoubtedly impacts negatively on the operations of the Commission.” Mr Speaker, these are the typographical errors that I should be relating to. The Hon Minority Leader, who is the Vice Chairman —
Hon Majority Leader, after all these, does the amount stated on the Order Paper remain same?
Mr Speaker, that is so. It is the same amount. It has not varied in any way.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minority Leader related to a slippage that he spoke about. Indeed, it was no slippage. He was not part of the Special Budget Committee until lately. And that is the point that I have reiterated, that the original allocation to the Commission was supposed to be GH¢1.2 billion. And so there was no slippage at all. Except that, after helping to bring down the figure by a colossal amount of GH¢300 million, they were required to further interrogate it, together with the Minister for Finance, to come to a conclusion that the figure could still be varied downwards. Mr Speaker, as soon as the Special Budget Committee left, there ensued a stalemate. The Commission did not do anything about it, which is why that figure, GH¢1.2 billion remains in their books. However, in their own performance report, they indicated to us that they did not entirely utilise the GH¢1.2 billion. They utilised GH¢1,139,885,990. But we believe that it could have still been better. Mr Speaker, some of us have expressed the opinion that the Electoral Commission should have considerable independence, and that, like the Auditor-General and the Judiciary, and maybe Parliament, have considerable financial autonomy. Which would mean that they would not have to be placed under the armpit of the Minister for Finance. But that their Estimates should go directly to the President. But if indeed, after these engagements, the Special Budget Committee, together with their collaboration and that of the Ministry of Finance is able to bring down their Estimates by a colossal GH¢300 million, then, it becomes difficult to provide them with that passage, that they should go directly to the President, and the President would then not have the authority to vary their Estimates. That would be dangerous. And so, perhaps, they should be holding their horses, given what they themselves have been doing. Mr speaker, certainly and clearly, over the past few years, whenever they have submitted their Estimates to us and we have interrogated the figures, often it has been worrying what we have been discovering. I remember sometime back, they had an allocation to themselves, to engage in the education of citizenry on HIV/AIDS. What has the Electoral Commission got to do with education on HIV/AIDS, Mr Speaker, when no such provision was made to National Commission on Civic Education (NCCE)? Mr Speaker, so, the Electoral Commission (EC) should protect their integrity. Sometimes, things like these which come up are certainly not the best and does not inure to the goodness of the image that we would want to have. Mr Speaker, the Hon Minority Leader also spoke about increasing the number of polling stations. When we engaged the Commission in 2016, initially, they said that they were going to increase the polling stations to about 50,000. We then asked on what basis -- what is going to be the cap for the creation of the polling stations and they were not able to tell us. So, it was like somebody was speaking from the top of his head, and it could not be justified. So, when we proved to them that even if we were using a figure of not more than five hundred per polling station, we were not going to exceed 40,000 polling stations, then they sat up. Mr Speaker, so, the EC themselves should be much more up and doing than they have been doing. Clearly, even the 750 - 800 ceiling that we have now in the
Hon Majority Leader, if you would be concluding now. [Pause.] If you would just wind up.
Mr Speaker, thank you. I am just about concluding. Mr Speaker, unfortunately, because the EC is not represented in the Chamber, we served the Commission the observations of the Committee and indeed, of this House, what is required of them to do this year which is a non-election year. Often, when we get to the political party related election year, it becomes difficult to undertake certain enterprises. It is better now to do it this year. Mr Speaker, next year is going to be an election year, if we would have to conduct the referendum. The ensuing year will be the election year for the District Assemblies and then, usher us into the year 2020. So, for three successive years, we are going to have elections. They need to prepare. There is no reflection of that in their 2017 budget to this House and it should be worrying to all of us. Mr Speaker, with these very very few words -- [Laughter] -- I would urge Hon Colleagues to approve the sum of GH¢33,827,268 for the implementation of the programmes of the EC for the 2017 financial year. Thank you. Question put and Motion agreed to. Resolved: That this Honourable House approves the sum of GH¢33,827,268 for the services of the Electoral Commission for the year ending 31st December, 2017.
Hon Majority Leader, which item is ready?
Mr Speaker, the Committee on Finance is required to lead us to take the Estimates for Other
Hon Members, Sitting shall be suspended for one hour. 11.57 a.m. -- Sitting suspended. 6.40 p.m. -- Sitting resumed.
Hon Members, Order! We shall move to the Addendum and take item numbered 1 -- Presentation and First Reading of Bills -- Supplementary Appropriation Bills, 2017. Hon Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, if you would disengage the Hon Minister for Finance. Presentation and First Reading of Bills -- Supplementary Appropriation Bills, 2017, Hon Minister for Finance.
BILLS -- FIRST READING
Item numbered 2 -- Motion. Hon Chairman of the Committee to investigate the bribery allegation made against the Chairman and some members of the Appointments Committee.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that notwithstanding the presentation of the Report of the Committee to investigate the bribery allegation made against the Chairman and some members of the Appointments Committee on Wednesday, 29th March, 2017, and having regard to the expiration of the 30-day period, commencing 31st January, 2017, granted the Committee to submit its Report, the Committee, pursuant to Standing Orders 5 and 6, seeks leave of Mr Speaker and the indulgence of the House to proceed on this matter.
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion.
This is to essentially have the Report submitted, notwithstanding the fact that it has taken more than 30 days to have the work done. [Pause.] Hon Chairman of the Committee, who seconded the Motion? Hon Member, you may proceed. Is it the Hon Ranking Member or who?
Mr Speaker, I have already seconded the Motion.
Yes, I thought so. Question put and Motion agreed to.
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 Report of the Committee to investigate the bribery allegation made against the Chairman and some members of the Appointments Committee may be moved today.
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion. Question put and Motion agreed to. Resolved accordingly.
Hon Members, item numbered 4 -- Hon Chairman of the Committee.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move that this Honourable House adopts the Report of the Committee to investigate the bribery allegation made against the Chairman and some members of the Appointments Committee. Mr Speaker, in so doing, I present your Committee's Report Introduction This Special Committee was established on Tuesday, 31st January, 2017, pursuant to Order 191 of the Standing Orders of the Parliament of Ghana (Revised 1st November 2000) to investigate an allegation of bribery against the Chairman and some members of the Appointments Committee of the Seventh Parliament. The Committee, having completed its investigations submits to the House its Report. Background On 31st January, 2017, the First Deputy Speaker, Member of Parliament for Bekwai and Chairman of the Appointments Committee, Mr Joseph Osei-Owusu, made a Statement on the floor of the House. In his Statement, he drew the attention of the Rt. Hon Speaker and the House, to an allegation of bribery made against him and some members of the Appointments Committee of the Seventh Parliament. In the Statement, Mr Joseph Osei-Owusu stated, inter alia, as follows: “On Friday, 27th January, 2017, at about 3.13 p.m., while I was in this Chamber waiting for the Sitting of the House to resume following suspension of Sitting earlier in the day, I received a WhatsApp message from a friend in the media, which showed that one Sammy Ablordeppey, purporting to report from Parliament reported that Mr Boakye Agyarko was alleged to have given to Hon Osei-Owusu, an amount of GH¢100, 000 to be doled out to Members to pass him as Minister for Energy. The message further said each Member was given GH¢3,000. The Minority had since returned the
Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa who submitted his Memorandum on 28th February, 2017. Materials/evidence tendered before the Committee The underlisted materials were tendered in evidence by witnesses who appeared before the Committee: i. WhatsApp Audio Recording of Pampaso FM tendered by Hon Joseph Osei-Owusu (Exhibit CW1/1) ii. Witness Statement of Mohammed-Mubarak Muntaka/ MP for Asawase and Minority Chief Whip (Exhibit CW3/1) iii. ‘Ayariga made bribery allegation up -- Joseph Osei-Owusu', www.myjoyonline.com, 27th January, 2017 tendered by Mr Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa (Exhibit CW5/1) Public evidence sessions The public evidence sessions of the Committee were held on 10th, 15th and 20th February, 2017, during which the public and the media were invited. The Committee took oral evidence from five (5) witnesses during these sessions; namely: i. Hon Joseph Osei-Owusu -- MP for Bekwai ii. Hon Mahama Ayariga -- MP for Bawku Central iii. Hon Alhaji Mohammed- Mubarak Muntaka -- MP for Asawase iv. Hon Boakye Agyarko -- Minister for Energy v. Hon Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa -- MP for North Tongu Furthermore, the Committee took evidence in-camera from the following witnesses: i. Maj. Bachawany Chaka Asigri (retd) -- Acting Marshal ii. Mrs Shirley-Ann Fiagome -- Director of ICT iii. Mr Ernest Berrick -- ICT Officer This was evidence of CCTV footage of the 8th Floor, Job 600 Office Building between the hours of 11.00 a.m. and 1.00 p.m. of Friday, 7th January, 2017, as requested in the Memorandum of Hon Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa. The Committee took this evidence in camera to safeguard the integrity of the CCTV cameras in Parliament. This is because the evidence revealed the nature of security surveillance by cameras in and around the precincts of Parliament. Summary of evidence First Committee Witness (CW1): First Deputy Speaker and Chairman of the Appointments Committee, Hon Joseph Osei-Owusu In his evidence, Mr Joseph Osei- Owusu, who was the first Committee Witness (CW1), informed the Committee that on the 27th of January, 2017, at about 4.00 p.m., he was in the Chamber after the House had suspended Sitting, awaiting the consideration of the Second Report of the Appointments Committee, when a friend sent him a WhatsApp message, in which one Ablorddeppey purported to be reporting from Parliament had suggested that the then nominee designate for the Energy Ministry, Mr Boakye Agyarko, had brought him hundred thousand Ghana cedis (GH¢100,000.00) to be distributed to members of the Minority on the Appointments Committee to influence the approval of the Energy Minister- designate by Parliament. He stated that upon further enquiry about the status of the said reporter from the Parliamentary Press Corp, he was informed that the said reporter was not part of the Parliamentary Press Corps. He however showed the WhatsApp post to the Hon Minority Leader and his Deputy and they both dismissed the allegation, saying that it was one of those journalists engaged in partisan reportage. He informed the Committee that within an hour of receiving the WhatsApp post, other Members of Parliament showed him publications from, www.myjoyonline.com and www.peacefmonline.com which publications had attributed the allegation to Mr Mahama Ayariga, the Member of Parliament for Bawku Central. The witness indicated that although Mr Mahama Ayariga was in the Chamber at the time the allegation was made, he could not confront him since the House had resumed Sitting to consider the Second Report of the Appointments Committee covering five nominees. Witness indicated that before the Second Report of the Appointments Committee could be taken on Friday, 27th January, 2017, the Minority Leader sought leave of the Speaker for the Leadership and some members of the Appointments Committee to go into ‘Conclave' to resolve matters that the Minority Members on the Appointments Committee had raised concerning Messrs Boakye Agyarko and Yaw Osafo-Maafo, the Energy Minister-designate and the Senior Minister-designate respectively. When he was asked who attended the Conclave, witness mentioned that the meeting was attended by the Majority Leader, Hon Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu, the Minority Leader, Hon Haruna Iddrisu, the Minority Chief Whip, Hon Mohammed-Mubarak Muntaka; Hon Mahama Ayariga, Hon Sampson Ahi, Hon Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, Hon Eric Opoku, Hon Yieleh Chireh, Hon John Jinapor, Hon Yaw Osafo-Maafo, Senior Minister-designate and Mr Boakye Agyarko, Energy Minister-designate. Asked what matters were discussed in the Conclave, witness stated that the meeting was called at the instance of the Minority Leader to discuss what Mr Boakye Agyarko and Mr Yaw Osafo- Maafo had said at the public hearing of the Appointments Committee which the Minority found offensive. On what transpired at the Conclave, witness informed the Committee that Messrs Yaw Osafo-Maafo and Boakye Agyarko provided evidence to substantiate claims made during the hearing before the Appointments Committee. Where they could not provide evidence, they retracted the statements made to the satisfaction of the Minority members. As a result, the Minority withdrew their objection and agreed for the Report to be amended, so that the two nominees would be approved by consensus. Asked why the majority decision in respect of the two were later changed to consensus after the Conclave, witness stated that the reason for the Minority members objecting to or not supporting
Boakye Agyarko had changed his view substantially to the satisfaction of the Minority. He explained that Mr Boakye Agyarko actually brought evidence to substantiate some of the things he had said. He indicated that at the Conclave, the Minority was satisfied with the evidence Mr Boakye Agyarko brought to substantiate his claims regarding the purchase of the three FSRUs and his evidence was confirmed by Mr John Abdulai Jinapor, the former Deputy Minister for Power, who was present at the Conclave. On the issue of the World Bank breathing on the neck of the ex-President, which statement had been made by Mr Agyarko when he appeared before the Committee, witness stated that Mr Boakye Agyarko withdrew that statement and rendered an apology. On that basis, witness stated that the Minority changed its position and agreed that he be approved by consensus. Asked whether at the time they went into Conclave, the bribery allegation was in the public domain and he had already granted the interview confirming it on Radio Gold; witness responded in the affirmative. He explained that the bribery allegation was aired on Radio Gold at about 2.00 p.m. and he granted the interview at about 5.00 p.m., while the Conclave took place at about 7.00 p.m. When he was asked whether what he confirmed on Radio Gold was based on rumour, witness stated that it was based on the information he had received from Alhaji Mohammed-Mubarak Muntaka. And whether he raised the bribery allegation in the Conclave, witness answered no. During the Conclave, he asked Mr Boakye Agyarko whether he brought money through Mr Joseph Osei-Owusu to be given to Alhaji Mohammed-Mubarak Muntaka to be distributed to the Minority members of the Appointments Committee, he responded in the negative. He explained that at the time the matter was raised by the Chairman, Mr Boakye Agyarko had left. Witness further stated that there was no time to discuss the issues that the Chairman of the Appointments Committee had raised but when he raised it, everybody laughed and he remarked “so, it is equalisation” and then everybody laughed and walked out of the room. Asked whether Alhaji Mohammed- Mubarak Muntaka, who was also present at the Conclave, admitted that he received money from Mr Joseph Osei-Owusu to be distributed to the Minority side of the Appointments Committee, witness stated that at that time, nobody apart from the Chairman of the Committee had raised the issue. Third Committee Witness (CW3): Hon Minority Chief Whip and Deputy Ranking Member of the Appointments Committee, Alhaji Mohammed-Mubarak Muntaka In his evidence before the Committee, Alhaji Mohammed-Mubarak Muntaka informed the Committee that on Friday, the 27th day of January, 2017, at about 5.00 p.m., the Hon Minority Leader, Mr Haruna Iddrisu, drew his attention to social media publications alleging that members of the Minority on the Appointments Committee had been bribed to recommend to the House the approval of the nomination of Mr Boakye Agyarko, the Minister for Energy-designate. He stated that the Minority Leader, who was visibly angry about the said news publication asked him to immediately investigate the allegation to enable the Minority Caucus take a decision. Witness informed the Committee that he could not conduct the investigation before leadership of the Appointments Committee went into Conclave. He stated soon after the Conclave had concluded deliberations, the Hon Chairman of the Appointments Committee raised the matter of the alleged bribery allegation. According to witness, the Chairman of the Appointments Committee, after the Conclave, expressed surprise about the allegation and denied same on the floor of the House without any challenge from any member of the Appointments Committee. He indicated that he was completely taken aback when on Saturday, 28th January, 2017, a day after the allegation had been made, he received phone calls from various media houses seeking his response to the allegation and his role in the matter. He indicated that he declined all such media interviews, while making frantic efforts to no avail to reach Mr Ayariga who, he learnt, had alleged that he had distributed money to Minority members of the Appointments Committee to influence them as a bribe. Witness informed the Committee that, later, he heard a tape recording of the interview granted by Mr Mahama Ayariga to Radio Gold being played on Joy.99.7 FM's News File prorgamme, as well as Mr Ayariga's interview on the show confirming the contents of the recording. Witness stated that he was compelled to call into the show and deny the allegation as far as his alleged role was concerned. He told Joy FM that he had neither received any bribe money from the Chairman of the Appointments Committee nor distributed same to anybody. He stated that he had never been involved in or played any role whatsoever in connection with the allegation of bribery of Minority members nor anyone on the Appointments Committee. Asked whether Mr Joseph Osei- Owusu used him as a conduit to influence the Minority members of the Appoint- ments Committee to change their views on Mr Agyarko, witness responded in the negative. He stated that Mr Osei- Owusu never discussed any money issues with him. When asked if he knows Mr Boakye Agyarko, witness indicated that the first time he met him was when he appeared before the Appointments Committee. He maintained that he had neither met him nor received any call from him nor sent anybody to see him concerning any money issue. On whether he was present at the Conclave when Mr Joseph Osei-Owusu raised the issue of the allegation, witness responded in the affirmative and indicated that although the matter was raised, his name had not been mentioned, so, he did not find the need to respond to the allegation. He stated that he was not aware that Mr Mahama Ayariga had granted an interview to Radio Gold where he had alleged that he was the conduit for the alleged bribe at the time they went into Conclave. He stated that he became aware of his alleged role in the matter the next morning, 28th January, 2017, when he was
regard to public interest order the House to move into Close Sitting to discuss a particular subject or for the remainder of the Sitting. (2) When the House is in Close Sitting no stranger shall be permitted to be present in the Chamber, side lobbies or galleries. (3) Mr Speaker may cause the proceedings and decisions of a Close Sitting to be recorded or issued in such manner as he thinks proper. (4) No person other than a Member or a person acting under the authority of Mr Speaker shall keep a note or record of any proceedings or decision of a Close Sitting whether in part or in full. (5) No person other than a person acting under the authority of Mr Speaker shall issue any report of, or purport to describe the proceedings or any decision of a Close Sitting.” The Committee decided to hear the evidence of the three witnesses in camera. Having listened to their evidence, the Committee is of the view that it is in the nature of the evidence envisaged under Order 44. The evidence, if made public, shall compromise the security of Parliament. We are submitting the transcripts of the evidence taken in camera to the Speaker. Suffice it to say that the Committee did not find the evidence helpful for its purposes. Standard of proof Parliament plays a very important role in the democratic governance of our Nation. Apart from its legislative role, Parliament has an equally important oversight role over the Executive. Parliament thus plays a central role in preventing public corruption. To effectively carry out their roles, Members of Parliament and indeed Parliament itself, like Caesar's wife should be above reproach. It is important to note that as far back as 18th October, 2002, the Parliament of Ghana ratified the United Nations Convention Against Corruption and the African Union Convention on Prevention and Combatting Corruption. It is against this background that Parliament established this Special Committee to inquire into the allegations of bribery. The Committee is a fact-finding one and even though the Standing Orders of Parliament give Committees of Parliament, including Special Committees powers of a High Court in certain circumstances; this Committee did not conduct a trial in the nature of a court trial. There were no accused persons before us, neither were there plaintiffs nor defendants. All the persons who appeared before the Committee or submitted Memoranda were witnesses assisting the Committee to ascertain the truth or otherwise of the allegation. On the basis of the above and the Terms of Reference (TOR) given to the Committee, we evaluate the evidence available to us bearing in mind the admonition contained in the Standing Orders restraining Committees of Parliament from straying out of their mandate. In this regard, Order 197, among other things, provides as follows: “The deliberations of a Committee shall be confined to the matter referred to it by the House and any extension or limitations to it made by the House...” In evaluating the evidence, it is important that the Committee sets out the standard of proof it is adopting to evaluate the evidence. Our laws recognise one standard for civil actions and another for criminal actions. Even though we have said that we did not conduct a trial, the Committee is of the view that it is improper for it to arrive at any conclusion without indicating the basis for it or in other words, the standard of proof that the Committee relied on to evaluate the evidence. The question is whether to use the criminal standard of proof, that is to say, proof beyond reasonable doubt or the civil standard of proof which is based on the preponderance of probabilities. The Committee was not at a meeting of minds what standard to use, if any at all. There were members of the Committee who argued that the Committee should use the criminal standard of proof, proof beyond reasonable doubt, to evaluate the evidence. They argue that if a member accuses another member of being unfair or lying, they have no doubt that any Committee of Parliament investigating the matter would use the standard of the balance of probabilities used in civil trials. On the other hand, if a member accuses another member of stealing or murder, they are of the considered view that it would be unreasonable in investigating whether the matter is true or not, to use any standard other than proof beyond reasonable doubt, because of the nature of the accusation. They conclude that it is the nature of the matter being investigated that would determine the standard of proof to be used. In arriving at this conclusion, the members of the Committee in favour of using this standard of proof, find solace in section 13(1) of the Evidence Act, 1975 (NRCD 323), which provides as follows: 13 (1) In a civil or criminal action, the burden of persuasion as to the commission by a party of a crime which is directly in issue requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Thus even in civil matters, where the standard of proof is ordinarily on the preponderance or balance of probabilities, where an issue involving a crime arises, such as fraud, the standard of proof is proof beyond reasonable doubt. The nature of the proceedings does not change. For example, in a land matter, if the question of fraud arises, the plaintiff or defendant does not suddenly become an accused person and the procedure and proceedings do not change. What changes is the standard of proof. For the advocates of such a view, what puts the issue beyond any reasonable doubt is the fact that bribery and attempted bribery is a crime under Ghanaian law. The matter being investigated by this Special Committee is bribery or attempted bribery. Therefore, for them, the primary or perhaps, the only consideration in deciding what standard of proof to use in evaluating the evidence, is the nature of the issue or matter being investigated. Another view argued forcefully at the meetings of the Committee was that this was not a criminal trial. So, the standard should be the balance or preponderance of probabilities.
I think it is also a fact that you said you did not receive money directly from Mr Joseph Osei-Owusu.
Mr Chairman, yes. I also said as a fact that I never received money directly from Hon Agyarko and then also I never received money directly from the Hon Joseph Osei-Owusu. Those are also facts. Hon Mohammed-Mubarak Muntaka, the Minority Chief Whip also denied ever receiving money from Mr Boakye Agyarko or Mr Joseph Osei-Owusu. He also denied having any conversation with anyone, including Hon Ayariga concerning the matter in issue. He said “I say that 1 have never had the alleged conversation with Hon Ayariga or anybody whosoever, and that the said Hon Chairman has never had the alleged conversation with me, and that I have never reported any said non-existent conversation with anybody.'''' He also maintained that he had not given money to anyone nor received money from anyone for the purpose of influencing the decision relating to the approval of Hon Boakye Agyarko and consequently since he had given no money, no money could have been returned to him. In his Memorandum to the Committee, Hon Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa stated, among other things, as follows: “The morning after, I picked up my envelope; and in the Chamber of Parliament, it became evident from information gleaned from other Members of the House that the envelopes we picked up which we thought contained our allowances were actually from another source. This was the morning of Friday, 27th January, 2017. At this point, two Hon Members of our side on the Appointments Committee then decided to verify from the Chairman of the Appointments Committee, Hon Joseph Osei-Owusu if there was any substance in what was making the rounds. These two Hon Members received confirmation from the Chairman that the money we had received was not our allowance as we had thought and that the
In his evidence, Hon Boakye Agyarko stated, among other things, as follows: Mr Chairman, what I would add is only to state for the records that at no point from my vetting did I feel that the confirmation of my nomination was at risk. I therefore, had no motive whatsoever to engage in influencing anybody. On the matter of the constitutional requirement, I believe myself to be qualified. On the second matter of my vetting, respectfully, I do not think I performed poorly. On the third matter of committee decision, I was convinced that with the ratio of 16:10 majority, my party had the numbers to pass me. And even if it came to the plenary and push came to shove, we could ride roughshod over everybody else to confirm my nomination. So, I had no motive whatsoever to influence or attempt to influence anybody with regard to my confirmation. This Committee accepts this evidence from Hon Boakye Agyarko. What is his motive for paying a bribe? What evidence is there to establish a motive? No reasonable person will seek to induce people to achieve an end he will achieve in any event without the inducement. According to the evidence before the Committee, agreed to by all the witnesses of the Committee, Hon Boagye Agyarko came to the Speaker's Lobby, to the Conclave, and resolved the differences with the Minority, who then agreed to support his nomination. Indeed, Hon Mahama Ayariga as well as other witnesses made the point that the only matter that influenced their mind in changing their decision regarding the nomination of Hon Boakye Agyarko, was the fact that he answered the queries they had raised to their satisfaction. In any event, if the Minority had refused to support the Majority to approve the nominee, it would not have impeded the nominee from receiving approval. There are several examples of nominees for Ministerial appointments who have not received unanimous support, but rather support from the Majority. Furthermore, the Committee is at a loss why when the opportunity arose to confront this matter of alleged bribery forcefully; it was turned into a laughing matter at the Conclave. Also when the matter was raised by the Hon Joseph Osei-Owusu, when he was presenting the Report of the Committee, none of the Committee members found it fit or necessary to comment on the matter. Even if they did not catch the Speaker's eye, they could have communicated it through the Minority Leader who is also a member of the Appointments Committee. Related to this issue or term of reference is the question, whether GH¢3,000.00 was paid by the Minority Chief Whip, to Minority members on the Appointments Committee. The evidence whether money was paid at all by Hon Mohammed-Mubarak Muntaka is not clear. While Hon Mohammed-Mubarak Muntaka swears by the Holy Qur'an that he did not pay any money, Hon Mahama Ayariga also swears by the Holy Qur'an that he received money. There is also no evidence as stated earlier that even if the money was given to the Hon Members as a bribe, this bribe came from Hon Boakye Agyarko or Hon Joseph Osei- Owusu. We regret that the existence of the GH¢3,000.00 remains a mystery and so does the question of who gave it to who, to be given to who, or if there was any money at all. We cannot make a finding of fact based on rumours. The multiplicity of rumours does not and cannot by itself crystallise into a fact. The fact that it is a fact that there is a rumour does not by itself transform the rumour into a fact. Examination of CCTV Footage of Friday 27th January, 2017 The Committee considered the request by Mr Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa in his Memorandum to examine the footage of the CCTV footage of Friday, 27th January, 2017 on the 8th Floor of the Job 600 building between the hours of 11.00 a.m. and 1.00 p.m. According to Mr Ablakwa, an examination of the footage would show him returning the envelope containing the money he had received to the Office of the Minority Chief Whip, located on the 8th Floor of the Job 600 building. The Committee examined the footage and called three witnesses; the acting Marshall, the Director of ICT and an ICT officer. The evidence of the three witnesses was taken in private sittings. This is because their evidence included the workings of CCTV surveillance in Parliament. Their evidence did not influence the Committee to change its decision relating to the second term of reference. The Committee has given the transcript of the evidence to the Speaker. This is because this evidence in the public domain will compromise the security of Parliament since it relates to and will reveal the workings of the CCTV surveillance in Parliament. Regarding the request to invite Hon Nii Lantey Vanderpuye who allegedly had evidence relating to the matter, the Committee believes that if Hon Nii Lantey Vanderpuye, who is a member of the Appointments Committee, had any information to assist the Committee he could have submitted a Written Memorandum. Indeed, the Committee also observed that the Appointments Committee does not have the authority to approve the nomination of persons to be appointed as Ministers. The approval of nominees to be Ministers is the sole preserve of Parliament at plenary, albeit on the recommendation of the Appointments Committee. However, it is trite knowledge that the plenary is not bound by the recommendation of any Committee of Parliament, including the Appointments Committee. On the basis of the above, the Committee finds that there was no evidence of an attempt to bribe members of the Appointments Committee. Once again the Committee uses all the tests relating to standard of proof, but arrives at the same conclusion. The last Term of Reference for the Committee is to: Look into the remit of complaints and assertions made by the First Deputy Speaker about the matter. The First Deputy Speaker, Hon Joseph Osei-Owusu in his Statement to Parliament on 31st January, 2017 concluded as follows: Mr Speaker, I have a dilemma. My fervent heart's desire is to go to civil court to reclaim my integrity. I am, however, aware of the challenges one has to battle with in any litigation involving a Sitting Member of Parliament. But Mr Speaker, you have the power to permit service of court processes on a Sitting Member of Parliament through your Office. I crave your indulgence to assist me to ventilate my grievance in court. After dealing with the first two Terms of Reference, this is the only outstanding matter. The frustration he expresses with regard to commencing civil proceedings is based on articles 117 and 118 of the 1992 Constitution. Article 117 provides as follows: “Civil or criminal process coming from any court or place out of Parliament shall not be served on, or executed in relation to, the Speaker or a member or the Clerk to Parliament while he is on his way to, attending at or returning from, any proceedings of Parliament.” Article 118 (2) also provides that -- “The certificate of the Speaker that a Member or Clerk is attending the proceedings of Parliament is conclusive evidence of attendance at Parliament.” It is because of these constitutional injunctions that the First Deputy Speaker is seeking leave of the Speaker to serve processes on a Sitting Member of Parliament. The powers and privileges of Parliament emanate from the historical conflict between the Crown and the representatives of the people in the formative years of Parliament in the United Kingdom. The privileges that were developed were to protect the Commons from the excesses of the Crown. Thus, at the commencement of every Parliament in the United Kingdom, it has been the custom for the Speaker, in the name, and on behalf of the Commons, to lay claim by humble petition to their ancient and undoubted rights and privileges, particularly to freedom of speech in debate, freedom from arrest, freedom of access to Her Majesty whenever the occasion shall require; and that the most favourable construction should be placed upon their proceedings. Even though the allegations made are defamatory without proof, since the matters that were raised have been addressed by processes within Parliament, we do not recommend that the Speaker gives the First Deputy Speaker leave to serve a process on a Sitting Member of Parliament. After this process by Parliament of setting up a Special Committee to investigate this matter, we are of the view that to take this matter to Court will be to undermine the dignity of Parliament. The Courts have not hesitated to say that Parliament is master of its own procedures and arguably proceedings. We therefore, resist the temptation to look into the remit of complaints and assertions made by the First Deputy Speaker about the matter any further than has been done above subject to the recommendations below we urge the House to join us to say like the Hymnist that the distant scene one step enough for us. Contempt of Parliament According to Erskine May “The acceptance by a Member ... of a bribe to influence him in his conduct as a Member, or of any fee, compensation or reward in connection with the promotion of or opposition to any bill, resolution, matter or thing submitted or intended to be submitted to either House, or to a committee, is contempt.” Any person who is found to have offered such a corrupt consideration is also in contempt. Erskine May further states that: “A transaction of this character is both a gross affront to the dignity of the House concerned and an attempt to pervert the parliamentary process implicit in Members' free discharge of their duties to the House and to the electorate.” Article 122 of the 1992 Constitution provides as follows: “An act or omission which obstructs or impedes Parliament in the performance of its functions or which obstructs or impedes a member or officer of Parliament in the discharge of his duties, or affronts the dignity of Parliament or which tends either directly or indirectly to produce that result, is contempt of Parliament.” Section 33 of the Parliament Act, 1965 (Act 300) also provides as follows: Defamation of Assembly It is a contempt of Parliament for a person to make a statement or otherwise publish a matter which falsely or scandalously defames Parliament or the Speaker, a Member or an officer in that capacity, or which contains a gross or scandalous misrepresentation of any proceedings of Parliament. In Ghana, among the many acts that constitute breach of privilege or contempt of Parliament are Orders 30 (g) and (k) of the Standing Orders of the Parliament of Ghana, which states that “misconduct or corruption in the execution of official duties by Members or officers of Parliament” and “attempts by improper or corrupt means to influence Members or officers in their parliamentary duties” respectively constitute contempt of Parliament. Sanctions for Contempt of Parliament Punishment for Members found guilty of contempt of Parliament and breach of privilege has been recognised as a way the House can purge its Members of misconduct and abuse of privilege as well as restore the image and sanctity of Parliament. Various sanction regimes exist to punish a Member whose conduct has been found to be contemptuous of the very institution which grants him the privileges he enjoys. In this regard, the Committee had recourse to the provisions of the Constitution, the Parliament Act 1965 (Act 300) and the Standing Orders of the House, which provide for the requisite sanctions as applicable to Members as follows: i. Apology Standing Orders 102 (2) and (3) provide as follows: 102(2) Where the Committee of Privileges reports to the House that the statement made by the member is defamatory of any person, the Member who made the statement shall, within seven days after that report, render an apology at the bar of the House, the terms of which shall be approved by the Committee of Privileges and communicated to the person who has been defamed. (3) Where a Member refuses to render an apology in accordance with the provisions of paragraph (2) of this Order, Mr Speaker shall suspend that Member for the duration of the Session and a Member so suspended shall lose his
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Order! Question proposed.
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion ably moved by the Hon Chairman of the Committee. Mr Speaker, I believe that with the extensive presentation of your Report before this Honourable House, I have nothing more useful to add, just to say that he who alleged must prove and that is what your Committee was faced with. Those who alleged the issue of bribery against the Appointments Committee were unable to prove same.
Hon Members, order! Hon Members, we shall have the Leaders to submit for our purposes. Hon Minority Leader, if you have sought comments from the Leadership, then we shall put the Question, if both Leaders would be reasonably brief. 7. 40 p. m.
Mr Speaker, let me use this opportunity to make a comment on the Report of the Special Committee that investigated the bribery allegation made against the Hon Chairman and some members of the Appointments Committee. Mr Speaker, in doing so, I thank you for gathering the courage and pursuing the matter in the public interest; firstly to redeem reputations and careers that could be ruined as a result of the allegation, and secondly, to redeem and restore the dignity, honour and respect for Parliament. Mr Speaker, growing up, whether one swore by the Quran or the Bible, anytime I heard any person say, “in the name of God”, I believed and trusted that person was on a path to be sincere and honest. So, when one says anything in the name of God, it is to be interpreted in the context of morality as being sincere with the truth. Mr Speaker, this is not a matter that should have been taken lightly. This is because reputations are to be protected. Indeed, let me also use the opportunity to thank the Hon Chairman and members of the Investigative Committee for doing a diligent and thorough work. Indeed, I have known Hon Joe Ghartey, and I have worked with him on some matters of law. He has proven that in looking for how to establish the evidential burden, he related to whether he was resorting to the civil requirement or the criminal requirement. Mr Speaker, but what impresses me is his depth of knowledge in examining the matter and coming to the conclusions. What particularly excites me is the fact that the Committee could go to the extent of reviewing CCTV cameras. A learning process for all of us; who does what, when and who takes what, when? Tomorrow is open to technology and related issues. Mr Speaker, but at least, for our purposes, nothing incriminating and nothing was established. Mr Speaker, growing up as a young person and as a young lawyer, I would endeavour to keep my comments very brief. So, let me thank the Hon Chairman of the Committee and the other members for arriving at those conclusions. Today must mark a new beginning of who says what against who, for all of us as Hon Members of Parliament, and to jealously protect our individual reputations and, integrity and even more importantly, that of Parliament.
Thank you very much, Hon Minority Leader. Hon Majority Leader, your brief comments.
Mr Speaker, let me also seize this opportunity to express my profound appreciation to the Committee for a very excellent surgery that they have performed on the tumour that afflicted this House. Mr Speaker, the House had been served with a total disembowelment of the matter before us, and all of us have seen what is contained in the Report and in the allegation. Mr Speaker, the source of this alleged bribery scandal is the Hon Boakye Agyarko. Indeed, if he had been found wanting, he would have breached our Orders; Standing Order 30 (k), which provides and with your permission, I read; “The following act or conduct shall constitute a breach of privilege or contempt of Parliament. (k) attempts by improper or corrupt means to influence Members or officers in their parliamentary duties;” That would have been a grievous offence. Mr Speaker, again, it could have amounted to an act which obstructs or impedes Parliament in the performance of its functions or which obstructs or impedes a Member or officer of Parliament in the discharge of his or her duties or affronts the dignity of Parliament. That is also captured by Standing Order 28. I am happy that the Committee, after this incisive probe, has come to the conclusion that the allegation against Hon Joseph Osei-Owusu, the First Deputy Speaker and Hon Chairman of the Appointments Committee, Hon Mohammed-Mubarak Muntaka, the Hon Minority Chief Whip and Hon Boakye Agyarko, Hon Minister for Energy, remains unproven. Mr Speaker, in the Report of the Committee, I would refer to paragraph 78 where the Committee took evidence in- camera from three witnesses. The Committee related to Standing Order 44 of our Standing Orders which prescribes that: and with your permission, I beg to quote: “Mr Speaker may in consultation with the House and having regard to public interest order the House to move into Close Sitting to discuss a particular subject or for the remainder of the Sitting.” They related to Standing Order 44 (1), (2), (3), (4) and (5) which indeed, relate to the conduct of business in plenary. Let me emphasise that the Committee is also fortified by Standing Order 200 of our Standing Orders which provides that: and with your permission, I quote; “In Committees, the Standing Orders of the House shall be observed so far as may be applicable.” So, they committed no offence at all and what they did was in sync with the Standing Orders of this House. Mr Speaker, the Committee provides us with further illumination when they relate to the remit that was given to them to establish whether the Hon First Deputy Speaker, (Mr Joseph Osei-Owusu) took money from the Hon Minister for Energy, (Mr Boakye Agyarko) and gave it to the Hon Minority Chief Whip, (Alhaji Mohammed-Mubarak Muntaka), to be distributed to some members of the Appointments Committee. The conclusion is unequivocal. The Committee is unanimous that there is no evidence that Hon Boakye Agyarko gave money to Hon Joseph Osei-Owusu to bribe Hon Members of the Appointments Committee. Furthermore, there is no evidence that the Committee could rely on, in the view of the Committee to lead it to the conclusion that Hon Joseph Osei-Owusu gave money to Hon Muntaka for the purpose of bribing Hon Members of the Appointments Committee. This is very unambiguous.
Thank you very much, Hon Majority Leader. Question put and Motion agreed to.
Hon Mahama Ayariga, at this stage you will respectfully proceed to the Bar of Parliament and render an unqualified apology — [Uproar.] Hon Members, order!
Mr Speaker, you would immediately recall in my submission, even though the rules provide that when one speaks on a Motion, the person would not have an opportunity to speak on the same Motion. Mr Speaker, I served you notice that I wanted to hear what the Hon Majority Leader would say to the Report. Having listened to him, and even as provided by the recommendations and conclusions of the Committee and though the Standing Orders provide the process for rendering an apology, Hon Mahama Ayariga is a Member of Parliament. Let me once again refer to paragraph 142 of the Report of the Committee, even though the Hon Chairman of the Committee and the Hon Majority Leader referred to it, and with your permission, I beg to quote: “The Committee took notice of the fact that the Hon Mahama Ayariga is not known to have engaged in acts that tend to disrupt the smooth proceedings of Parliament.”
Hon Alban S. K. Bagbin, in view of your obvious seniority in the House, I will hear you on this matter before I give further orders.
Hon Alban S. K. Bagbin, thank you for the mitigatory statements. The Hon Mahama Ayariga, if he so pleases, may stand in his place to render the withdrawal and apology whereafter, I will proceed from there.
Mr Speaker, thank you. Mr Speaker, I believe when opening Parliamentary Sitting this morning, you rendered a prayer and said;
Hon Members, let us treat this matter as a very serious and rather solemn occasion.
Mr Speaker, and you asked God to endow Members of Parliament with discernment and vision, integrity and most importantly, courage.
Hon Members, order! There is no authority to order at a time like this. Hon Members, we shall not trivialise the situation; the Hon Member is on his feet, so, let him complete --
In obedience to Mr Speaker, I have kept my silence until the Committee finished its work and has brought its Report. My basic under- standing of the proceedings of this House is that, that Report was to be debated by this House and we would then vote on the Report.
Hon Members, order! Hon Ayariga, I would respectfully advise you at this stage that in our typical court situation, those who wish to apologise, withdraw and be shown mercy would show remorse. I would therefore advise you to advisedly pursue a more circumspect approach. Hon Member, you may continue.
Mr Speaker, I do not know whether our primary concern is with the truth or giving closure to this case -- I do not know which one is our primary concern.
For the second time, Hon Ayariga, certainly Ghanaians have discernment but that discernment is not devoid of the 275 people who in their discernment and wisdom have elected to represent them in this august House. Hon Member, for the second time, I am respectfully advising you to pursue a course in your best interest; you may continue.
Mr Speaker, I have every intention to show you outmost respect and act according to your directives. But I would do myself grave injustice if in rendering the apology, I do not point out certain matters which I also feel are important for you to advert your mind to. Mr Speaker, in the first place, you set up a Committee pursuant to Standing Order 191; the first legal question is, does that Committee have the power to come to conclusions relating to matters of contempt? [Pause.] Mr Speaker, you set the Committee up to find facts and report the facts to you. Does the Committee have the power to come to conclusions on matters of contempt which are clearly spelt out in Standing Orders 30, 31 and 32 -- in fact, not to conclude on contempt? This is because the issues of contempt are clearly defined in the Standing Orders. So, that is the first thing that I would want to advert your mind to -- whether the Committee can make findings and come to a conclusion that the provisions of contempt have been violated. Mr Speaker, the second question is that the Committee used criminal standards to determine the burden of proof. If you conclude that you would want to use criminal standards, then you may as well have during the proceedings used the criminal process. What is the criminal process? If you call a witness in any criminal trial, he should also cross examine the other side, so that you can come to the conclusion that would enable you to exert criminal functions. The Committee did not do that, Mr Speaker.
Hon Members --
Hon Members, order! [Long Pause.]
Hon Members, I have asked both Leaders to sit. Both Leaders were standing at the same time and I have asked them to sit. Respectfully, both Leaders will sit. We are at the stage where it is quite clear that this Committee is unanimous that there was no basis for any allegation of bribery or other corrupt practice concerning the Appointments Committee or any Hon Member of this Honourable House.
The House is adjourned till tomorrow, Friday, 31st March, 2017, at 10.00 o'clock in the forenoon.
The House was adjourned at 8.24 p.m. till Friday, 31st March, 2017 at 10.00 a.m.