VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS AND THE OFFICIAL REPORT
Hon Members, we have visitors being children from the special school in Dzorwulu. So, if you hear some apparent noise from upstairs, do not be surprised. [Hear! Hear!] Item 2 -- Correction of Votes and Proceedings and the Official Report.
[No correction was made to the Votes and Proceedings of Tuesday, 28th March, 2017.]
[No correction was made to the Official Report of Friday, 10th March, 2017.]
At the commencement of Public Business, item numbered 4. Hon Deputy Majority Leader, if you can indicate how we should proceed.
So, we commence with item numbered 4 (d) and you asked permission, instead of the Hon Chairman of the Committee, for Hon Boamah to so present.
Hon Deputy Majority Leader, which one? Is Report 4 (c) ready?
Mr Speaker, Special Budget, that is, item numbered 4 (c) on the Order Paper and it is not ready.
Item 4 (c) is ready. Who presents it? Is the Hon Chairman of the Committee present? Otherwise, who would present it?
Mr Speaker, item numbered 4 (c) is not ready.
Very well. Please, go on with what is ready.
Mr Speaker, item numbered 4 (e) was laid yesterday but it has been picked on the Order Paper again. So, that is a repetition.
So, is it going to be re- laid?
Mr Speaker, -- [Pause] -- Mr Speaker, that is not ready as well. Item numbered 4 (e) is not ready.
Is it ready as well?
No, Mr Speaker.
Please, what is ready is item numbered 5. Can we have it now? Is the Hon Minister for Railways here?
No, Mr Speaker. We would take Motion numbered 8 and that is to be taken by the Hon Minister for Parliamentary Affairs and the Hon Majority Leader.
The Motion numbered 8, Hon Minister for Parliamentary Affairs?
Mr Speaker, if we could vary the order of business and rather first deal with the Motion captured as item numbered 12, the Motion on the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice.
Item numbered 12 -- Motion. Hon Minister for Parliamentary Affairs? Hon Majority Leader and Hon Minister, you may move the Motion, item numbered 12.
Mr Speaker, I was a bit confused. I am moving the Motion numbered as item 12, not in my capacity as the Hon Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, but as the Hon Majority Leader and the Hon Chairman of the Special Budget Committee. Mr Speaker, that distinction ought to be made. ANNUAL ESTIMATES, 2017 Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that this Honourable House approves the sum of GH¢37,816,402 for the services of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice for the year ending 31st December, 2017.
Mr Speaker, I rise to support the Motion before us. Mr Speaker, with our effort to combat corruption in our country, if we look at the details of the budget of GH¢37,816,401.00 for CHRAJ, the donor component is over GH¢14 million and all we do is the compensation and a little for goods and services. Mr Speaker, it is very worrying that the chunk of the goods and services, and the capital investments had to come from donors. It makes it very difficult for us to be independent if we are determined to help CHRAJ help us fight corruption, to get justice for the underprivileged in the country. Mr Speaker, it is worrying that we will choose to let the donors invest so much in goods and services and capital expenditures (CAPEX) and we just pay salaries. Mr Speaker, unfortunately, the Hon Minister for Finance is not here. In the future, we have to relook at this. This is because it does not augur well for us to just pay salaries and assume that without any additional resources, this very important institution can carry out its works. Mr Speaker, with these few comments, I would want to support the approval of this sum to help CHRAJ carry out its mandate. Thank you very much.
None Nsawam-Adoagyiri): Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to support the Motion, and to make a few comments. Mr Speaker, CHRAJ as we are aware of, is important and it is supposed to be an independent State institution. Most often than not, unlike other agencies which come under a number of Ministries, they have a main Minister who advocates for their welfare. Independent institutions like the CHRAJ and the National Commission on Civic Education (NCCE) find themselves in such a situation. So, I am happy that my respected Hon Majority Leader is the Hon Chairman of the Committee responsible for oversight over this important State institution. However Mr Speaker, I must admit, as the Hon Minority Chief Whip said that budgetary concerns, especially coming from the donor communities for some years have been dwindling for various reasons. So, it becomes very important that the Executive would have to come in and support that gap that is created. CHRAJ is an important State institution and it cannot be gain-said. There should be more effort to complement efforts of CHRAJ and provide the necessary budgetary provisions that are needed for it to prosecute their agenda. Mr Speaker, I recall the sad event, where the Office of CHRAJ was burnt down completely. I have often visited the Commission to show commensuration and concern over their welfare. Mr Speaker, I would want to crave the indulgence of the Executive, particularly the Hon Minister for Finance to go to the aid of CHRAJ, not just the provision of the budget requirements. Budget requirements in real terms Mr Speaker, and support the Commission to ensure that the edifice is in a good form. Mr Speaker, I am aware, after I had served in the Sixth Parliament on the same Committee, CHRAJ was inundated with the issue of rent. There has always been a challenge. As basic as it appears, Mr Speaker, I would want to appeal to the Ministry of Finance to get closer to CHRAJ, because they do not come under any Ministry to advocate for their concern -- to ensure that we put the Commission in a good state and preparedness to deal with corruption allegations.
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to contribute to the Motion. Mr Speaker, in contributing to the Motion, I would first want to register that some of us got this Report two minutes ago and this does not hold well for this House. This is because for Hon Members to contribute, we would have to effectively peruse the Report in order to make meaningful contributions, especially at a time that it appears we do not have a quorum to do effective business on the floor of the House. Mr Speaker, it is clear that CHRAJ, which is a creature of our Constitution, is a very important animal that ought to be given the necessary impetus and resources to be able to perform in order to be able to make governance in this country very effective. Mr Speaker, CHRAJ as we all know, is to ensure that the right thing is done and people do not have their rights trampled upon, and also to ensure that corruption is minimised to the barest minimum possible. Mr Speaker, it is clear that the function of CHRAJ, if it is effectively delivered and allowed to perform its role very well, we would not need any other institution as it were to deal with matters of corruption; the reason for which we would say that the creation of the Office of the Special Prosecutor may become very nebulous, unnecessary and a possible waste of the taxpayers money. Mr Speaker, what is crucially important is that, we should give this animal called CHRAJ, which is a creation of the Constitution of Ghana, the needed resources and the capacity to be able to deliver. I am sure that the very things that bother us as far as corruption and the others are concerned, would be dealt with effectively. Mr Speaker, on this note, I would crave the indulgence of this House to approve the Budget Estimates for CHRAJ. Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity.
Hon Members, we will take the last contribution.
Mr Speaker, I rise to support the Motion for the approval of the budgetary allocation to CHRAJ. Mr Speaker, in doing so, I would want to draw this Honorable House's attention to some of the observations made by the Committee. Mr Speaker, with your permission, I beg to quote paragraph 9.1, which is on page 8 of the Committee's Report: “The Committee observed that there has been a significant increase in the total budgetary allocation to the Commission from GH¢15,722,770.00 in 2016 to 22,093,631.00 in 2017. The increase was largely due to an increase in allocations of Goods and Services as well as Capital Expenditure, which shot up from 2,000,000 and zero to 7,351,306…” Mr Speaker, all these attest to the fact that over the past years, the allocation to the Commission was not enough and it made the work so difficult. When we look at the important role that it plays, it is very important that we attach importance to their work and that the money allocated to them should be given to them on time. Mr Speaker, there is one other thing that the Committee observed when it met with the Commission. Sometimes moneys allocated to them are not released to them on time and that makes their work so difficult. The Committee also observed that out of the over one thousand cases of corruption which were referred to the Commission, it was able to investigate only about 54 of them. This showed that if such an important Commission is not well resourced and the moneys are not released to them on time, they would find it extremely difficult to do what they are supposed to do. I would urge the Hon Minister for Finance -- sometimes, with moneys which are supposed to be released to them, it takes about a week for the cheques to be given to them. This is a worry and it affects the activities of the Commission. Mr Speaker, on this basis, I would urge Hon Members to approve the sum of money allocated to the Commission.
Any comments from Leadership? Yes, Hon Majority Leader? Alhaji Abdul-Rashid Hassan Pelpuo - - rose --
Yes, Hon Member?
Yes, Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I would want to express profound appreciation to the issues raised by my Hon Colleagues in respect of the budgetary allocation to CHRAJ. Mr Speaker, as I indicated, let me first effect a correction. The total figure allocated to CHRAJ for the year 2017 is GH¢37,816,401 and not GH¢37,816,401. This finds expression on page 173 of the Budget Statement for the year 2017. Mr Speaker, let me also seize this occasion to effect some corrections in the Report. On page 8 of the Report, the total allocation to the Commission which is GH¢37,816,402 as I have said, is not 41.58 per cent of what was given last year. Rather, that figure represents 140.52 per cent of what was given last year. So, that correction ought to be effected; so the figure is 140.52 per cent of last year's figure.
“The Committee observed that there has been a significant increase in the budgetary allocation to the Commission from GH¢15,722,770.00 in 2016 to GH¢22,093,631.00 in 2017.” Mr Speaker, the amount of GH¢22,093,631.00 is the appreciation over and above the 2016 figure. So rather, the correct rendition should be that: “The Committee observed that there has been a significant increase in the total budgetary allocation to the Commission from GH¢15,722,770.00 in 2016 by GH¢22,093,631.00 in 2017.” Mr Speaker, those are the corrections that I would want to effect in the Report. Mr Speaker, having said so, it is important to observe that for a long time the National Commission on Civic Education (NCCE) has been the poor cousin of the Electoral Commission (EC) in respect of allocations made to the two bodies. It must be stressed that the NCCE is in charge of education of every civic matter. Their activity is not confined to election related matters. Yet often times, they come up strongly during the election years and take a slump in the non-election years. Mr Speaker, an Hon Colleague also related to the fact that donor support to the Commission this year has gone up significantly. I believe that that should suggest that the donor community has now found tremendous confidence in the affairs of the Commission such that they are now prepared to support it in various ways. That should not be a worry because any trend analysis on the performance of Government of Ghana (GoG) allocations vis a vis that of donors would suggest to anybody that the donors perform much better than GoG allocations. Mr Speaker, so, why should people be alluding to this, that it should be a worrying factor? I fail to understand that. But we should rather be urging GoG to perform much better than they have been performing. But to say that because you have improved donor support, that situation should be worrying, I fail to understand the principle supporting that argument. Mr Speaker, with that, I would once again thank Hon Members and urge that they approve of the allocation to the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice. Thank you. Question put and Motion agreed to. Resolved: That this Honourable House approves the sum of GH¢37,816,402 for the services of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) for the year ending 31st December, 2017.
Mr Speaker, if we may climb upstairs to take the item numbered 11 on page 4 of the Order Paper.
Item 11 -- Motion. ANNUAL ESTIMATES, 2017 National Media Commission
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that this Honourable House approves the sum of GH¢5,837,048 for the services of the National Media Commission for the year ending 31st December 2017. Question proposed. Mr Philip Basoah (on behalf of the
Mr Speaker, I beg to support the Motion for the approval of the budgetary allocation to the National Media Commission and, in so doing, I present your Committee's Report. Introduction The 2017 Budget Estimates of the National Media Commission was on Thursday 2nd March, 2017. It was referred to the Special Budget Committee by Mr Speaker for consideration and report in accordance with article 179 of the 1992 Constitution and Order 140 (4) of the Standing Orders of the House. This followed the presentation of the Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the Government by the Minister for Finance, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta on behalf of the President for the year ending 31st December, 2017. Delibrations Pursuant to the referral, the Committee met with the Executive Secretary of the Commission, Mr George Sarpong and officials of the Commission as well as technical officers from the Ministry of Finance to deliberate on the Estimates. The Committee is grateful to Mr George Sarpong, officials of the Commission and the technical team from the Ministry of Finance for their assistance during the deliberations. Background The National Media Commission was established in July 1993 by Act 449, among others to take measures to ensure the establishment and maintenance of the highest Journalistic standards on mass media, including investigations mediation
Mr Speaker, it is undeniable that the National Media Commission (NMC) plays a very important role in media control and reportage. It is also regrettable that in 2016, the NMC was not allocated any capital expenditure. It is, however, important to note that with the great works that the NMC does, we approve the budget allocated to it, which is GH5,837,048.00. We would, however, urge the NMC to work very hard in the areas of social media monitoring and safeguarding people's reputation. We would also want to urge the NMC to be circumspect, so that accurate reportage is carried out by the media. In this regard Mr Speaker, I would urge the whole House to come together in working hard to pass the Broadcasting Bill, which has been overdue.
Mr Speaker, just a terse comment -- I rise to support the Motion and to make these few comments. First of all, it is regrettable that Ghana was unable to meet the requirements of the Geneva 2006 (GE06) Agreement on digital migration, which was supposed to have been signed in 2006. However, I am of the firm belief that, going forward, consistent and good efforts would be made to ensure that we sign all this important Agreement. Ghana has signed a number of Conventions and Agreements but this very one is important in the context of digital migration and in the world of digital development. Mr Speaker, we are all aware of the importance of the NMC. Particularly, ever since we repealed the Criminal Libel Law, it has become a huge State institution, which needs all the support that we could give to it. I have no hesitation in supporting the Motion. Mr Speaker, before I sit, however, let me say that one of the activities earmarked by the National Media Commission (NMC) is the institution of an advisory council which is intended to be dotted across the length and breadth of the country. The basic function of such a council would be to ensure that fundamental abuses in terms of human rights are dealt with before they get to the law courts. That is something that is admirable and we have to give all the support for it to triumph. Again, on media monitoring. We have a thousand and one media houses in our country now. Most of them are doing a very good job although there are a few
Hon Majority Leader, you may wind up.
Mr Speaker, let me express my sincere gratitude to Hon Members who have contributed to the issues that have been raised. I think it is important that we hurry our steps to improve the lot of the NMC, which for a very long time has been more or less in penury. The Hon Member of Parliament for Kumawu rightly observed that the allocation to the NMC for this year surpasses the sum total of the allocations for the immediate past three years. It is supposed to be given to them to strengthen the spine of the NMC to enable them discharge their constitutional responsibilities. Mr Speaker, the NMC has been accused of being spineless for a very long time and we hope that this would provide some value addition to the conduct of their business. So, by way of reiteration, let me urge Hon Members to approve of the allocated sum of GH¢5,837,048 to the NMC for the conduct of their business and programmes for the year 2017 financial year. Mr Speaker, I thank you once again. Question put and Motion agreed to. Resolved: That this Honourable House approves the sum of GH¢5,837,048 for the services of the National Media Commission for the year ending 31st December, 2017
Mr Speaker, may I crave your indulgence to come back to item numbered 4(b), to enable the Hon Chairman of the Committee to present the Paper in respect --
Item numbered 4 (c)?
Mr Speaker, item numbered 4(b), page 2.
Hon Chairman of the Committee, item numbered 4(b)?
Hon Majority Leader, how do you proceed with this presentation?
Mr Speaker, we would now move to consider item numbered 15 -- Motion captured on page 5.
Is the Paper on item numbered 4(b) to be distributed? Very well. So, we would proceed with which one?
Mr Speaker, item numbered 15.
Item numbered 15. Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, that is so.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that this Honourable House approves the sum of GH¢186,507,380 for the services of the Audit Service for the year ending 31st December, 2017. Mr Philip Basoah (on behalf of the
Mr Speaker, I beg to support the Motion for the approval of budgetary allocation for the Audit Service, and in doing so, I would want to present the Committee's Report. Introduction The Minister for Finance, Hon Ken Ofori-Atta presented the Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the Government for the year ending 31st December, 2017, to Parliament on Thursday, 2nd March, 2017, in accordance with article 179 of the 1992 Constitution and the Public Financial Management Act, 2016 (Act 921). The Estimates of the Ghana Audit Service were subsequently laid before the House and referred the Special Budgets Committee for consideration and report in accordance with Order 140(4) of the Standing Orders of the Parliament. Deliberations The Committee was assisted in its deliberations by the Chairman of the Audit Service Board, the Deputy Auditor- General, officials of the Ghana Audit Service and officials of the Ministry of Finance. The Committee extends its profound appreciation to the Board Chairman, the Deputy Auditor-General and officials for the assistance. Reference documents The Committee referred to the following documents during its deliberations:
I will normally start from the back. So Hon Member, since you have come to the front, you may have to wait. This is because you do not see what is behind you. So, I recognise the Hon Member standing at the far back.
Mr Speaker, thank you very much for the opportunity to contribute to the Motion on the floor concerning the Ghana Audit Service. The Ghana Audit Service is one of the independent government institutions which works in a manner that, is not to be controlled or interfered by the Government. When we look at their resources, which I have observed so far, and also at our Committee meetings, I could say for sure that they are not enough in order to make them execute their task independently. For that matter, I would say that if it is possible, then in the mid-year review, something must be done about that. Also, looking at the areas where they operate, educational institutions and the District Assemblies all over, they would need a number of vehicles that would take them round the country. If they are not well resourced then, they cannot do the work.
If for some reasons we would want to really tackle the corruption that we are talking about in this Government, then we must really resource the Ghana Audit Service. This is because, if we do not resource them, then there is no way that they could do their activities in order to uncover all the wrongful activities. Mr Speaker, I see the Ghana Audit Service as the “security of the national purse;” if we have the national purse, but we do not have a good or tight security to it, then it means that all we are doing would go elsewhere. So, in order to safeguard the national purse, we must really resource the Ghana Audit Service to take care of the national purse and also to make sure that all that we are doing would not go to waste. Mr Speaker, if we really want to make sure that the Ghana Audit Service is independent, then let us allow them to use some of their savings as internally generated funds (IGFs) in order to push them forward. This is because if we want them to depend on the allocations that are given to them, that might not be enough to discharge their mandate for the year. So, I would plead with the House to also consider to allow them to make use of their savings, which would help to improve and make them work effeciently. Mr Speaker, so, with these few words, I thank you and I would like the House to support and consider the points raised here. Mr Speaker, thank you.
Hon Member, thank you.
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to contribute to the Motion on the floor. Mr Speaker, I would do so and refer you to the point numbered 9.2 on page 7 of the Report. It is very instructive that even though it is against the constitutional and statutory prerequisites, the Budget Estimates that are submitted by the Ghana Audit Service for approval by this House have been slashed by the Hon Minister for Finance. Indeed, it is not good because, during the seminal speech delivered by the President during his inauguration, he made the point that his agenda for his Government is to protect the public purse. Mr Speaker, there is no better way to do so than to effectively resource the Ghana Audit Service to be able to carry out effective audit of all the Government functions that would take place over the period. Mr Speaker, if the Budget Estimates that they have submitted for purposes of carrying out those functions effectively have been slashed or revised downwards to their detriment, then indeed, the agenda to protect the public purse has been adversely affected. Mr Speaker, therefore, I urge the Government that in subsequent years, they must as much as practicable not revise downward estimates from the Audit Service, so that they can effectively carry out the functions of their office. Mr Speaker, with these words, I urge the House to approve the sum of GH¢186,507,380.00 to enable the Audit Service carry out their activities for this fiscal year.
Mr Speaker, I rise to support the Motion for the approval of the budget for the Audit Service. The importance of the Audit Service cannot be overemphasised. Mr Speaker, I note the challenges of the Audit Service, and I note the untimely release of funds for the implementation of their activities. For example, I also note that in the year 2016, a total amount of GH¢234 million is what was allocated but GH¢140 million was what was released. In fact, that release came in December, 2016. Mr Speaker, it actually reflected in the work of the Audit Service. The targeted audit for Ministry, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) was 3,500. At the end of the year, they could only audit 805 of these institutions under very difficult circumstances. So, clearly, if we are to strengthen the Audit Service to perform its very important role, we must really look at these numbers. It really reflects in their performance. I believe we are not very encouraged by their budget allocation this year. I know that there is a reduction from GH¢234 million to GH¢186 million, but if we look at the targeted institutions they are supposed to audit, it is even higher. It is still over 3,500 institutions. If we release GH¢140 million to the Audit Service and out of the 3,500 institutions, they could only audit 805, what are we saying? Are we saying they magically audit over 3,500 institutions with GH¢186 million? Mr Speaker, clearly, we must get serious with the work of the Audit Service if we are to get the results. We all want them to ensure transparency and inform the people of Ghana that the institutions of State are accountable. That is why it is important that with this reduction of the budget of the Audit Service, we must all agree from both sides that this is an institution that is so important that we must strengthen and support. In doing so, I believe that we would see the result that we all desire from the Audit Service. Mr Speaker, having said that, I urge Hon Members to approve GH¢186, 507,380.00 for the implementation of the programmes of the Audit Service for the 2017 financial year. I thank you, Mr Speaker.
Thank you very much, Hon Member. Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I thank you very much. I want to emphasise the point that the Audit Service is a tool for Parliament in the discharge of our oversight responsibilities. It is for that reason that the Constitution provides in article 187(5) that the Report of the Audit Service shall be served on Parliament. Mr Speaker, everywhere else in the established democracies, Parliament could direct the attention of the Audit Service to inquire into any suspected cases of malfeasance and report back to Parliament to act on it. Unfortunately, the Constitution of Ghana does not make any such provision. It only says that, in the performance of their duties, the Auditor-General would not be subject to any direction from any authority, including Parliament. Yet, article 187(8) provides an exemption to only one person, the President. The Audit Service works for Parliament. Parliament is charged with the responsibility of overseeing the activities
Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, we would now deal with the first Motion on today's Order Paper, item numbered 5 on page 3.
Hon Minister for Railways Development? ANNUAL ESTIMATES, 2017 Ministry of Railways Development
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that this Honourable House approves the sum of GH¢518,426,135 for the services of the Ministry of Railways Development for the year ending 31st December, 2017. Question proposed.
Mr Speaker, I beg to support the Motion and in doing so, present your Committee's Report. Introduction On Thursday, 2nd March, 2017, the Minister for Finance, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta in fulfilment of article 179 of the 1992 Constitution, presented to the House, the 2017 Budget Statement and Economic Policy of Government. In accordance with Standing Orders 140 (4) and 189 of the House, the Budget Estimates of the Ministry of Railways Development were referred to the Committee for Roads and Transport for consideration and report. The Committee on Thursday, 23rd March, 2017, met with the sector Minister, Hon Joe Ghartey, the Ag. Chief Director and Heads of Agencies of the Sector Ministry and reports as follows: The programme-based budget for 2017 covers the Ministry of Railway Develop- ment and the following Agencies: (i) Ghana Railway Development Authority (GRDA) (ii) Ghana Railway Company Limited (GRCL) Reference documents The Committee made references to the following documents during the consideration of the Estimates: (i) The 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana (ii) The Standing Orders of Parliament (iii)The Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the Government for the 2017 financial year (iv) The M e d i u m - T e r m Expenditure Framework (MTEF) for 2016-2018 Programme based budget Estimates for 2017 for the Ministry of Transport (v) The Report of the Committee on the 2016 Estimates for the Ministry of Transport. Vision of the Ministry of Railway Development The Vision of the Ministry of railway Development is to provide railway infrastructure and services as well as other associated infrastructure as part of an integrated transportation system in order to facilitate the establishment of Ghana as a transport hub within the West African Sub-region and serve as a backbone to Ghana's economic development. Mission and Policy Objectives Mission The Ministry's Mission is to provide leadership and guidance for the development of Ghana's railway system through effective policy formulation and Investment promotion. Policy Objectives The Policy Objectives of the Ministry as stated in the Ghana Shared Growth and Development Agenda (GSGDA) II are as follows: (i) Establish Ghana as a Transportation Hub for the West African Sub-Region. (ii) Create and sustain an efficient transportation system that meets the user needs. (iii)Integrate land use, transport planning, development planning and service provision. (iv) Create appropriate environment for Private Sector Participation in the delivery of Transportation Infrastructure. (v) Develop and implement a comprehensive and integrated Policy, Governance and Institutional Frameworks. (vi) Ensure sustainable development in the Transport Sector. (vi) Develop adequate human resource capacity and apply new technology. Financial performance for 2016 The Ministry of Railways Development is a newly created Ministry which has been carved out of the Ministry of Transport. In the 2016 fiscal year, GH¢10,601,778.00 was allocated to the Rail Transport programme.
Thank you very much, Hon Member. Yes, Hon Member?
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to contribute to the Motion numbered 5 on today's Order Paper, which is that this House approves the sum of GH¢518,426,135 --
Hon Member, at this stage, please, make your own contribution. Do not read the details.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, this is a new Ministry. In previous years, we knew that this was just one of the agencies under the Ministry of Transport. We are told that this Ministry has been created to re-focus Government's attention on developing railways infrastructure.
Mr Speaker, I rise to support the Motion, that this House adopts and also approves the sum of GH¢518,426,135 for the services of the Ministry of Railways Development for the year ending 31st December, 2017. Mr Speaker, in line with the overriding goal of the Ministry to establish Ghana as a transport hub within the West African sub-region, there is the need to support the Ministry as well as the two major agencies under it to execute its programmes and policies. Mr Speaker, I would refer to your Committee's Report on page 3, paragraph 5.1. It is on record that the NDC Government, through its 2016 Budget Statement, allocated only GH¢10,601,778.00 to the two agencies under this newly created Ministry. But the current Government, under the able leadership of His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo- Addo, has allocated a colossal amount of GH¢518,426,135 to enable the Ministry to execute its programmes and activities. Mr Speaker, with this, I would seize the opportunity to praise His Excellency the President for giving this special attention to such a critical Ministry. I believe that if well-resourced, the Ministry of Railways Development would go a long way to generate a lot of employment to our teeming unemployed youth. Mr Speaker, with these few words, I thank you, and urge the House to support the sum of GH¢518,426,135.
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to contribute to the Motion. I rise to support the Motion for the approval of the sum of GH¢518,426,135 for the Ministry of Railways Development for the year ending 31st December, 2017. Mr Speaker, the railway sector is a very important one. When we go round the world and we decide to use the railways that are operated in the various countries, we would realise that it goes a long way to support our transport system. I know very well that if these railway activities come to stay, they are going to support us, especially with the transportation of foodstuffs and other products, and even people who might be travelling to their workplaces. Mr Speaker, I have also observed that we need to put in a lot of security when it comes to our railway operations. Mr Speaker, when you board the train, which operates around Accra Central, through to Tema, you would observe that there are certain personalities who are on board the train as if they have only boarded to a point but at the end of the day, you would realise that these are people who are only hopping in and out and you cannot tell what their mission on the trains are. I hope that with this new Ministry, and as we met the Hon Minister who spoke to the letter on the fact that he was going to adopt a Public Private Partnership (PPP) method as the key way forward. This is because it is a very big sector and if we do not put in PPP, we are going to find it difficult. The Government of Ghana alone would not be able to fund the project. Mr Speaker, the project that is going to be taken down to Paga is a very laudable one. This is because when one is travelling by vehicle or any form of transport on our roads, it is quite far.
Mr Speaker, I thank you very much for recognising me and I thank my Hon Colleagues who made such important contributions when they contributed to the Motion. Mr Speaker, one Hon Member talked about assurance to investors. I would want to assure the Hon Member that I have already had the opportunity to meet with a host of investors and they have assured us that they have confidence in Ghana. I asked one investor why he had confidence in Ghana. His answer to me was heartwarming. He asked how many countries in the world do you have a swearing-in of a President and three former Presidents are present. I believe the dividends of democracy in this nation are paying off and we should all be proud of ourselves. We also have the enabling environ- ment for investment. It is a well-known fact internationally that the courts in Ghana do not necessarily go on the side of Government. Mr Speaker, we must recognise that since the investment going to be made in this area is such a huge one, and I thought not only about Government's investment, but investment for the private sector, it is important to look at the legal framework for the railway sector again. It is important that we look at the regulatory framework. Mr Speaker, currently, there are two institutions under the Ministry -- the Ghana Railway Company Limited and the Ghana Railway Development Authority. If we look at the Ghana Railway Development Act, which was enacted in 2009, I believe it was enacted on 6th January, 2009, a day before the last NPP Government left power, and at the time Yes, 24 hours before then, before the exit, we signed that Act. Little did I know that I would come and supervise that Act in some time to come. Over a period of time, it has become clear that the Act has a problem; it creates the Ghana Railways Development Authority as the development authority and the promoter of the business and also gives it the power to regulate the business. How can one be the developer and the regulator at the same time? If we look at other sectors, if we look at the maritime and the aviation sectors, it is clear that the regulator stands by itself and the developer also stands by itself. Another question that we must answer is whether we want an institution that would just be responsible for promoting the investment, while another institution is responsible for owning the infrastructure. If we look at the master plan for the railway sector, which was done in 2013, it gives the indication that there must be an infrastructure company which is just responsible for the infrastructure. Mr Speaker, if we go to the United Kingdom, that is the structure that they have decided to adopt. The investment in this sector, which the Hon Member put at about three billion dollars, I assure you, is potentially more than that. If we take the fact that the entire money that came into the oil sector last year was US$800 million, then one can say that this sector is potentially bigger than the oil sector. Mr Speaker, I said “potentially” because we have to attract the investment.
Hon Deputy Majority Leader, do you have any difficulty?
Mr Speaker, I am actually enjoying the submission by the Hon Minister for Railways Development. In fact, as he was trying to compare what happened in 2016 with what we have here in the budget, I believe that the Hon Minister should have gone further to say that the chunk of this budget was approved last year for the development of the railway line from Tema to Akosombo, which was done by the previous Government. He should just acknowledge that one.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Member should have waited because I may have come to that, so he should just have held his horses. Mr Speaker, if I may continue, the amount of investment that is coming to this sector, it is important that we look at local content. Indeed, this House should support the Ministry when it decides to introduce some form of local content legislation.
This is because, if an investment of such a magnitude is coming into the nation, then it is important that Ghanaians take interest and participate in it. Indeed Mr Speaker, we are about to launch a community-based railway development project, where some of the workers who would be employed by the Ghana Railway Company Limited would be employed from the constituencies that the rail passes through. Mr Speaker, we have also started preliminary talks with surrounding neighbouring countries. I can mention Burkina Faso which have sent us preliminary agreement. They seem to be even more excited than we are, that we are bringing the rails to Paga; and they intend, if we manage to agree to meet in Paga, so that they can also take advantage of our coming to Paga and bring the train down to Accra. Mr Speaker, my Hon Colleague mentioned Tema-Akosombo. I would want to assure him that as far as the Constitution provides, we shall continue the projects that were started by the previous Government. But as he said, they are good projects; we shall enhance them. Mr Speaker, this is because if we just cross the river, we can go to Akosombo, but if we just cross the river and go to the other side, about one kilometre into the other side, we could start the beginning of an industrial park in the Volta Region -- the Hon Member's region. It can be the beginning of an industrial park in the Volta Region. Therefore, the railway line that goes from Tema to Akosombo will not just be carrying goods from Akosombo to Buipe. At the same time, it will also serve the people of the Volta Region when they bring their goods. One kilometre into the Volta Region, we would have an industrial park and we would also have people going to settle there. This is because from there to Accra would be about 35 kilometres. Mr Speaker, our old railway line was about nine hundred and forty (940) kilometres. Out of this, only 13 per cent of it is still operational. We shall make use of the 13 per cent. Some of this 13 per cent starts from Nsuta to Sekondi-Takoradi. In fact, that is today, the basis for the Railways Company's continuous existence. One thousand, four hundred and forty (1440) workers are depending on the fact that they draw raw materials -- manganese from Nsuta to Takoradi. Mr Speaker, the reason we do not see anything such as internally generated funds (IGFs) is that, the Railways Company Limited is a limited liability company. So, what they get, they use it for the company. But indeed, for a long time, Government has been subsidising it. Mr Speaker, I am happy to tell you and this House that within three months, the Ghana Railways Company Limited is self- sufficient. The workers are so happy that they have a Ministry and are working overtime. We have told them that this is our last chance. Those of us from the railway towns of Sekondi-Takoradi, we now have a Ministry and we must make the Ministry work. As far as Tema and Nsawam are concerned, today, it is mainly used for passengers' traffic. Mr Speaker, the whole line, the wagons are so compromised that we must say that it is difficult for people who use it. Mr Speaker, by God's grace, we had a situation where a company which is in Nsawam is seeking to move boulders from Nsawam to Tema as part of the expansion of the Tema Harbour, which was started last year. What this would do is that, it would give the Ghana Railways Company Limited money to strengthen the trucks. Mr Speaker, at the same time, we are in the process of inviting welders and workmen from Suame Magazine and Kokompe to enter into a competition to repair our wagons. Mr Speaker, to repair the wagons, in my view, is like repairing a vehicle. We would repair the outside and the inside and then we would also put the cushions and so on. Mr Speaker, Takoradi to Paga must happen; we do not have a choice. The western line which goes from Takoradi to Kumasi is the most viable line in Ghana. It is our aim that we shall use Build-Operate and Transfer (BOT) to develop that line. It is the most viable line because as we speak, there are two mines on the line and there is also a very effective cocoa sector. When the Tema-Akosombo line is completed, we would go on the water from Akosombo to Buipe. Mr Speaker—
Hon Minister, if you would— Hon Minister, Hon Members are anxious to approve your money, so, give them a chance to approve your budget.
Mr Speaker, I was not going to say anything but I noticed that the Committee stated in its Report that because of the nature of the sector, we must promote it. So, I have taken it in good faith. When I looked at it, I said God bless this Committee. So, any opportunity I get, I will promote the sector. Mr Speaker, but let me conclude by saying that the question of encroachment, the question of right of way and perhaps, the question of galamsey, in my view, is one of the things that threatens the sector the most. It is not our intention to enter into war with anybody. We shall use negotiation and compromise or avoidance. In law, there is something they call “confession and avoidance”. We shall not confess but we shall avoid. The Ministry of Roads and Highways has shown us the way. On the way to Kumasi, they have avoided Nkawkaw. We shall be going by the side of towns if we do not have the right of way within the towns. In that way, we shall be creating new settlements. Mr Speaker, in conclusion, for our Ministry, when we talk about rail, we talk about new cities. Mr Speaker, I beg that we support the approval of this Motion and to say that the trains must move. Thank you Mr Speaker. Question put and Motion agreed to. Resolved: That this Honourable House approves the sum of GH¢518,426,135 for the services of the Ministry of Railways Development for the year ending 31st December, 2017.
Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, we can deal with item numbered 9.
Item numbered 9, Motion. Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that this Honourable House approves the sum of GH¢11,165,079 for the services of the Public Services Commission for the year ending 31st December, 2017. Mr Philip Basoah (on behalf of the
Mr Speaker, I rise to second the Motion and to present your Committee's Report on the allocation for the Public Services Commission. Introduction Following the presentation of the Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the Government to the House on Thursday, 2nd March, 2017 by the Minister for Finance, Hon Ken Ofori- Atta, the Rt Hon Speaker referred the Annual Budget Estimates of the Public Services Commission (PSC) to the Special Budget Committee for consideration and report in accordance with Order 140 (4) of the Standing Orders of the House. Deliberations The Committee met and discussed the estimates with the Chairperson of the PSC, Miss Bridget Kastriku, technical team from the Public Services Commission (PSC) and the officials of the Ministry of Finance. The Committee expresses its gratitude to the Chairperson, Madam Bridget Kastriku, Directors and the technical team for attending upon the Committee for the deliberations. Reference documents The Committee made reference to the following documents during its deliberations: a. The 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana. b. The Standing Orders of Parliament of Ghana. c. The Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the Government of Ghana for the 2017 financial year. d. The Public Services Commission Act, 1994 (Act 482). e. The 2017 Estimates of the Public Services Commission. Background The Public Services Commission (PSC), established by Act 482 of 1994, to formulate, monitor and implement Government policies and guidelines for the efficient management and develop- ment of the human resource base of the public service with the vision of improving the capacities of public servants to increase productivity and efficient service delivery. The Public Services Commission therefore exists to advise Government on the criteria for appointment to public offices as well as persons to hold or act in Public Service to promote efficiency, accountability and integrity in the public service as well as prescribe appropriate measures and procedures for the management of personnel records within the service. Further to this, the PSC is mandated to identify, explore and promote the recruitment of suitable personnel into the Public Service, acting in consultation with educational authorities, and undertake planning of manpower requirements of the public service conduct examinations and interviews for appointments to post and for promotions to ensure uniformity for standards of selection and qualifications among others. Goal and policy objectives The goal of Public Services Commission (PSC) for the medium term is to promote a well- managed work force, capable and committed to deliver high quality services for accelerated growth and achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Pursuant to this goal, the Public Services Commission has identified key objectives including the following: Establish a reliable public service wide Human Resource Management Information System. Enhance supervision and pro- ductivity in the Public Service. Promote excellence in people management and improve the working environment and conditions for the Public Services Commission's staff, strengthen management oversight. Promoting the reduction of HIV/ AIDS/STI/TB transmission, a n d proper management and promotion of healthy lifestyles in Ghanaians. Perfomance in 2016 The Commission, during the year under review, achieved the following among others: Human resource management pro- gramme The PSC strengthened controls regarding entry, exit and promotions across the various Services, as well as control the wage bill through prudent Human Resource (HR) management. The Commission also established a comprehensive Human Resource Management Information System (HRMIS) of all public service employees on a common Oracle platform. Seven out of nine pilot MDAs went live on the HRMIS to enable them review the correct position on their respective staffing levels, and update their human resource data. The Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) that went live on the system included the following: Public Services Commission Ghana Prisons Service Ghana Statistical Service Office of the Head of Civil Service Ministry of Food and Agriculture Ghana Health Service Local Government Service. The Commission commenced the Human Resource Audit project in 2015 and continued with its implementation in 2016. Substantial savings were made to Government after identification and deletion of “ghost” names and over-age employees. Implementation of the performance management policy Commission continued with the sensitisation and training of public servants in the use of the new
Mr Speaker, I rise to support the Motion on the floor of the House, that the Budget Estimates for the Public Services Commission are approved by the House. Mr Speaker, this sector is embarking on a project, which is the Human Resource Management Information System. When this is done properly, it will cut down on a lot of waste in the system. In fact, it is a system that monitors the ins and outs of workers. Those who sit home for several days without going to work, those who vacate positions and run to school, and other cases, on which the system determines their presence or absence. So, there is the need for this Commission to do its work properly. Mr Speaker, on this note, I would urge Hon Members to give the full support to this Commission's Budget Estimates approval. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Any other contributions? Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, once again, I would thank Hon Colleagues for the various contributions they have made in respect of the request to the House to approve the sum of GH¢11,165,079.00 for the Public Services Commission for the year ending 31st December, 2017. Mr Speaker, I am so grateful to Hon Colleagues. Question put and Motion agreed to. Resolved: That this Honourable House approves the sum of GH¢11,165,079 for the services of the Public Services Commission for the year ending 31st December, 2017.
Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, item numbered 8, on page 3 of the Order Paper.
Motion numbered 8 -- Hon Minister for Parliamentary Affairs. ANNUAL ESTIMATES, 2017 National Commission on Civic Education (NCCE)
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that this Honourable House approves the sum of GH¢42,951,777 for the services of the National Commission on Civic Education for the year ending 31st December, 2017. Mr Philip Basoah (on behalf of the
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion for the approval of the 2017 Budget Estimates for the National Commission on Civic Education and to present your Committee's Report. Introduction The Minister responsible for Finance, Hon Ken Ofori-Atta presented the Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the Government for the year ending 31st December, 2017, to Parliament on Thursday, 2nd March, 2017 in accordance with article 179 of the 1992 Constitution. Pursuant to Order 140 (4) of the Standing Orders of the House, the Rt Hon Speaker referred the Annual Budget Estimates of the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) to the Special Budgets Committee for consideration and report. Subsequently, the Committee was assisted by the Chairperson of the Commission, Ms Josephine Nkrumah and officials from the NCCE to deliberate on the Estimates. The Committee is grateful to the Chairperson and her staff for the assistance. Reference documents The Committee referred to the following documents: i. The 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana. ii. The Standing Orders of the Parliament of Ghana. iii. The Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the Government of Ghana for the 2016 Financial Year. iv. The Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the Government of Ghana for the 2017 Financial Year. v. The Report of the Special Budget Committee on the 2016 Annual Budget Estimates of the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE). Mission and core functions of the commission The Commission is established to promote and sustain democracy and inculcate into the Ghanaian citizenry the awareness of their rights and obligations through civic education. To this end, the core functions of the Commission include: to create and sustain within the society, the awareness of the principles and objectives of the Constitution as the fundamental law of the people of Ghana; educate and encourage the public to defend the Constitution at all times against all forms of abuse and violations; formulate for the consideration of Government from time to time, programmes at national, regional and district levels aimed at realising the objectives of the Constitution; formulate, implement and oversee programmes intended to inculcate in the citizens of Ghana the awareness of their civic respon- sibilities and an appreciation of their rights and obligations as free people; and assess for the information of Government, the limitations to the achievement of true democracy arising from the existing inequalities between different strata of the
Table 4: Proposed utilization of 2017 allocation for Capital Expenditure SPACE FOR TABLE 4 - PAGE 17 - 12.10 P.M. support to the NCCE to enable it build its own office accommodation for the efficient performance of their functions. Dwindling workforce: The Committee was informed that the Commission loses an average of 50 staff annually since 2012 through retirement, death, resignation or terminations. This has created a staff vacancy of 250 staff over the period. Efforts to replace them have not been successful as a result of the refusal of the Ministry of Finance to grant clearance for the recruitments. The situation has compelled the Commission to transfer staff from the headquarters to regional and district offices, leaving behind skeletal staff at the head office. In view of the important role of NCCE in the dissemination of information and education of our people on democratic development of the country, the Committee urges the Minister for Finance, to as a matter of urgency, grant clearance to the NCCE to fill some of the vacancies to ease the pressure on the existing staff, and to ensure the effective discharge of its constitutional functions. Conclusion Considering the major role the NCCE plays in the democratic dispensation of the country, the Committee recommends to the House to approve the sum of forty- two million, nine hundred and fifty-one thousand, seven hundred and seventy- seven Ghana cedis (GH¢42,951,777) to finance the operations of the National Commission for Civic Education for the 2017 fiscal year. Respectfully submitted. Question proposed.
Thank you, Mr Speaker for the opportunity. I rise to support the Motion, that this Honourable House approves the Budget Estimates for NCCE. Mr Speaker, the Commission is established to promote and sustain democracy. It is also to inculcate into the Ghanaian citizenry, the awareness of their rights and obligations through civic education. Mr Speaker, last year, the Commission was able to organise about 9,481 stakeholder meetings across the country prior to the 2016 Presidential and Parliamentary General Elections. Three of these stakeholder meetings were carried out in my constituency, which is the Akan Constituency. Mr Speaker, it is, therefore, important that this House approves the budget allocation for the NCCE, so that they can carry out their activities for 2017. Mr Speaker, I would want to urge the Commission to improve on their education of the police-citizen relations, and also to intensify voter education on how to minimise spoilt ballots. Mr Speaker, with these few words, I support the Motion, that this august House should approve the sum of GH¢42,951,777. Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity.
Mr Speaker, if we look at the “Mission and Core Functions of the Commission” on page two of the The Commission further explained that work has stalled on most of these projects, which are at various levels of completion. There is, therefore, the urgent need to complete them to avoid unreasonable price variations. The Committee urges the Ministry of Finance to, as a matter of urgency, release funds to the Commission to prevent further delays in the completion of its projects. Challenges of the Commission The Committee noted that the NCCE faced key challenges that threaten the smooth performance of its mandate under the 1992 Constitution. Prominent among these challenges include: Lack of Office Accommodation: The Committee was informed that the NCCE, since its establishment in 1992, has been operating within the premises of the Electoral Commission. The Commission is occupying just about 12 cubicles with each one containing more than five desk officers. The offices are poorly ventilated and have leakages. This does not provide a conducive environment for effective work. Furthermore, some of the offices in the regional and district levels operate from rented premises, with exorbitant rents that exert pressure on the Commission's inadequate resources. The Commission has however, acquired a parcel of land and desperately need financial resources to construct its permanent head office. The Committee, while commending the Ministry of Finance for allocating some money to the NCCE for capital expenditure in 2017, wishes to strongly recommend to the Ministry of Finance to consider giving
Mr Speaker, I rise to support the Motion. Mr Speaker, the NCCE is one of the governance institutions that supports democracy. We all know that without civic education in our environment, we would not be able to move forward with the democracy we all cherish. Democracy helps us in the governance in this country. Mr Speaker, I am surprised that the NCCE has not had a permanent office since 1992. They have never had an office of their own, and they still share office with the Electoral Commission (EC). That is an indictment on all of us, including political leaders, that the NCCE, which is supposed to spearhead democracy in this country, educate students about democracy and also educate us -- including the duties and functions of Hon Members of Parliament (MPs) -- we go to our various constituencies and complain that people do not know what we do as Members of Parliament, and that people harass us to get money from us. The institution, which is supposed to educate our people, has been under resourced since 1992. It is an indictment on political leaders. Mr Speaker, when we look at their capital expenditure, they have been given a woeful GH¢2 million. What would they use it for? Twelve people share one cubicle, no wonder they have officers who leave the Commission. Mr Speaker, I would want to plead with the Hon Minister for Finance, even though he is not in the Chamber, that when he comes back for the mid-year review, he should reconsider the NCCE. Mr Speaker, with these few words, I thank you.
Mr Speaker, I thank you for this opportunity. Mr Speaker, we are considering the budget estimates for NCCE. As my Hon Colleague rightly said, this is a very important institution which educates Ghanaians in respect of our Constitution and the roles we are supposed to play. Mr Speaker, unfortunately, when we look at the amount allocated to this Agency -- I believe that the Ministry of Finance needs to look into it for the second time. In some of the constituencies, they are in a single room office with about five or six staff. There are even no computers for them to work with. In the just ended Presidential and Parliamentary General Elections, this institution wrote to some of us to seek for funds to enable them organise programmes to educate Ghanaians. Mr Speaker, we are to approve an amount of GH¢42,951,777 for this institution, and I would want to urge the Leadership to liaise with the Ministry of Finance to see how best they can help the NCCE. Mr Speaker, they have problems in their national and regional offices -- staffing the various districts and regions is even a problem. Mr Speaker, if we would want Ghanaians to know what we do in this House, as well as what goes on in governance, then we would need to empower the NCCE to do their work effectively. Mr Speaker, with these few words, I would want to thank you for the opportunity.
Yes, Hon Majority Leader?
Hon Members, we have had two contributions from each Side. Let us conclude.
Mr Speaker, I would want to put in a plea for the Hon Minister for Inner City and Zongo Development because of the particular and peculiar position that he occupies. [Pause] Mr Speaker, I thank you very much, and I thank Hon Colleagues for their contributions. Hon Members have spoken to the enormous responsibilities placed on the shoulders of the Commission as set out in article 233 of the 1992 Constitution.
“The functions of the Commission shall be -- (a)to create and sustain within society the awareness of the principles and objectives of this Constitution as the fundamental law of the people of Ghana; (b)to educate and encourage the public to defend this Constitution at all times, against all forms of abuse and violations; (c)to formulate for the consideration of Government from time to time, programmes at the national, regional and district levels aimed at realising the objectives of this Constitution;
Hon Majority Leader, if I may ask, what is the position with the Motion numbered 22 with regard to the Report?
Mr Speaker, the Hon Chairman of the Committee who just laid the Report has indicated to me that it is a very voluminous document. Thus far, they have printed about 50 copies, but Hon Members need to be served, so that they could go through the 50 paged document. I guess because it concerns all of us, we could then take the Motion relating to that tomorrow.
Very well. We shall postpone that to tomorrow. I saw the Hon Minister leaving, and I was, therefore, wondering. Motion numbered 22 will be deferred till tomorrow. Hon Majority Leader, what next?
Mr Speaker, the other Reports relating to Electoral Commission and Parliament --
Hon Majority Leader, that is Motion numbered what?
Mr Speaker, we have finished with the Motions, but we are still processing the rest. So I guess we could suspend Sitting for about one and a half hours, so that we come back at 2.00 o'clock to continue. The Committee on Finance is also working on the Value Added Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2017 and the Energy Sector Levies (Amendment) Bill, 2017. I guess by the time we resume, those ones may as well be ready. Mr Speaker, subject to your indulgence and that of my Hon Colleague, I would propose that we suspend Sitting until 2.00 o'clock in the afternoon today.
Hon Deputy Minority Leader, I hope there is no difficulty there.
Mr Speaker, I support the position taken by the Hon Majority Leader; we should suspend Sitting and come back at 2.00 o'clock, by which time the Reports would be ready for the House to consider.
Hon Members, Sitting will be suspended accordingly and to resume at 2.00 o'clock in the afternoon. Thank you. 12.39 p.m. -- Sitting suspended. 5.35 p.m. -- Sitting resumed.
[MR SECOND DEPUTY SPEAKER IN THE CHAIR.]
Please, Hon Members, resume your seats. Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, we can deal with item numbered 14.
Item numbered 14 -- Minister for Parliamentary Affairs? ANNUAL ESTIMATES, 2017 Judiciary and the Judicial Service
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that this Honourable House approves the sum of GH¢331,185,841 for the services of the Judiciary and the Judicial Service for the year ending 31st December 2017. Question proposed.
Mr Speaker, I beg to support the Motion and then present your Committee's Report. Introduction The Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the Government for the 2017 financial year was presented to Parliament by the Hon Minister for Finance, Mr. Ken Ofori-Atta on Thursday, 2nd March, 2017 in accordance with article 179 (1) and (2) of the Constitution. Pursuant to article 179 (3), (4) and (5) of the Constitution, the 2017 Budget Estimates of the Judiciary and the Judicial Service was laid in Parliament on Friday, 24th March, 2017 by the Hon Majority
Hon Chairman of the Committee, I can see a letter attached to the Report purported to have emanated from the Office of the President but it is signed by the Vice President without any authority of the President. What do you say to that?
Mr Speaker, that is quite true but on the 23rd March, 2017, when the letter emanated from the Office of the Vice President, the President had travelled. So, the Vice President, per the Constitution, was acting on behalf of the President. But it appears that is not born out of the letter that emanated from the Office of the Vice President. It is a fact however, that on the 23rd March, 2017, the President had travelled outside of the country.
Well, there is nothing on the face of the record to confirm what you are saying and at least, your Committee should have drawn the attention of the House to what you just said. This is because it is not good to set a very bad precedent. You are a lawyer and you know the effects of these legal provisions and so, at least, on the face of the letter, this information should have also been indicated that he was doing so as the President of the nation and that is not on the face of the record. All the same, I think that it is curable and we could proceed but please, we have the Hon Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Leader of Government Business and Hon Majority Leader, who could kindly convey this to the Office of the President.
Mr Speaker, I appreciate the issue raised but to also point out that the President had submitted a Communication to this House indicating to us that he had travelled and in the interregnum, the Vice-President was to act on his behalf as the President of this country. That Communication was loudly read out in this House. But I agree that for the avoidance of doubt, maybe, after signing, he ought to have written, “for and on behalf of the President”. So far as I am concerned, the value is the same but I still appreciate the point that you have raised. It would be communicated appropriately. Thank you very much.
Mr Speaker, I beg to support the Motion moved by the Hon Minister and supported by the Hon Chairman for the Committee on the Judiciary. Mr Speaker, it is gratifying to note in the Report, that is in this year's budget, the Judiciary and the Judicial Service are being allocated the sum of GH¢331,185,841. This indicates an increase of over 120 per cent over the year 2016's allocation. This should enable the Judiciary and the Judicial Service to perform better than they did in the previous year. It is also gratifying to note that the Judiciary and the Judicial Service improved on access to justice in the ensued year by opening new courts and granting access to a lot of people or bringing courts closer to a lot of litigants. Mr Speaker, I am particularly happy about the “Justice for all” Programme which was undertaken in three prisons of the country. This notwithstanding, I believe that there are many more persons on remand languishing in jails all over the country. This year that the Judiciary and the Judicial Service are being allocated much more money, I think it would be necessary and advisable that the “Justice for all” Programme is replicated in many more prisons, so that we could reduce the congestion in the prisons, particularly of those on remand. Mr Speaker, in the area of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), out of 4,321 cases, it is just about 25 per cent that went before the ADR. I believe that many more lawyers, court clerks and officials need to undergo training, so that we could have more awareness creation programmes for litigants and I believe that there are several cases that could be resolved at ADR rather than going through the full length. Finally, I think that if the Judiciary and the Judicial Service would religiously pursue its programme of automation of the courts, it would help us together with the Registrar's Summons , which has just been reduced to curb delays in conduct of cases before the law courts. To whom much is given, I believe much is equally required and I expect the Judiciary and the Judicial Service to perform better this year. Mr Speaker, I wish to support the adoption of the Motion. Thank you.
Mr Speaker, I beg to support the Motion, that this Honourable House approves the sum of GH¢331,185,841 for the services of the Judiciary and the Judicial Service for the year ending 31st December, 2107. Mr Speaker, in supporting this Motion, I wish to urge this House to consider the fact that for the year 2016, the Judiciary and the Judicial Service appointed 17 Judges and Magistrates, 237 adminis- trative staff and trained 55 court officials on court ethics. It is regrettable to note that at page 7 of this Report, there are complaints about delays in the payments of salaries to new Judges and I would want to encourage this House to urge the Hon Minister for Finance to take this issue very serious. This is because when we post Judges to new environments and they have to work under conditions that their salaries are delayed, it is a very bad recipe for the kind of things that we observed in this country and we must do everything to ensure that Judges are catered for adequately, so that the administration of justice would not only be seen to be done, but would be seen to have been manifestly done. Mr Speaker, with these few words, I urge this House to approve these Budget Estimates for the Judiciary and the Judicial Service. Thank you.
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to contribute to the Motion on the floor of the House. Mr Speaker, in doing so, I observed at paragraph 10 (iii), that is under the “OUTLOOK OF JUDICIARY AND THE JUDICIAL SERVICE THE YEAR 2017”. Mr Speaker, that is the first observation.
Please, Hon Chairman of the Committee, have you noted what he stated? Is it the Chief of Staff or the Chief Justice?
Mr Speaker, which item?
Page 5 paragraph 10.0 (iii).
Mr Speaker, I believe that it is a typographical error. Mr Speaker, respectfully, may I once again seek your leave for correction -- instead of “complete the construction of the Chief of Staff Official Residence”, I would want it to read “complete the construction of the Chief Justice's residence”.
It is corrected accordingly.
Mr Speaker, I am most grateful.
Mr Speaker, another observation is that the letter coming from the Presidency has the heading “Presentation of the 2017 Annual Financial Estimate of the Judicial Service.” Mr Speaker, but the Order Paper is saying “that this Honourable House approves the sum of GH¢331,185,841 for the services of the Judiciary and the Judicial Service …” Mr Speaker, however, the letter is saying “Judicial Service”.
Hon Member, we have done this correction earlier.
Mr Speaker, that is not all; even the Budget Estimates that were submitted for consideration is the Budget Estimates of the Judicial Service and these issues have constitutional implications. Article 125 of the 1992 Constitution talks bout the Judiciary; article 126 also talks about the Judiciary and even article 127 talks about the composition of the Judiciary. There is a constitutional imperative under article 179, such that the budget of the Judiciary cannot even be revised. Mr Speaker, I believe that the Judiciary should be different from the Judicial Service but always the Judicial Service would hide under the Judiciary and also bring their budget to be considered under that stringent condition provided in the Constitution. Mr Speaker, I believe that this is not -- [Interruption.] Mr Speaker, this was even raised at the Committee level. The Constitution envisaged the Judiciary and the budget of the Judiciary would then be considered under article 178 (4) and (5), which have the constitutional imperative that it should not be revised. Mr Speaker, but that of the Judicial Service could be revised. We have Budget Estimates for the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development and Budget Estimates for the Local Government Service. These are two separate Budget Estimates but that of the Judiciary and the Judicial Service would be put together and the President and Parliament would have to consider them under the stringent condition provided in the Constitution. Mr Speaker, I believe strongly that this is not the best way to go and subsequently, there would be the need to split the Budget Estimates of the Judiciary from that of the Judicial Service. Mr Speaker, with these few words, I support the Motion.
Hon Member for Effutu?
Hon Members, I think it is important that in your submissions, you address the issue that was raised earlier -- the constitu- tionality and legality of considering the estimates for the Judiciary and the Judicial Service together under the cloth of the constitutional provisions. It is an issue that we have to address. Yes, Hon Member?
Yes, Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, the Hon Chairman of the Committee would want to --
Are you yielding to the Hon Chairman of the Committee or you would still contribute? This is because I wanted the Hon Chairman of the Committee to be the one to wind up, being the one who moved the Motion.
Mr Speaker, because it is coming from --
I am sorry. He was the one who seconded the Motion and not the one who moved the Motion. So, you would be winding up.
Mr Speaker, yes.
So, Hon Chairman of the Committee?
Mr Speaker, it is just a little clarification on the concern raised by Hon Afenyo-Markin in respect of the erroneous payment of the IGFs into the account of the Judiciary, which is contained in page -- But that the anomaly was corrected here means that what was erroneously paid by way of IGFs to the Judicial Service was taken out from the accounts of the Judicial Service. So, to the Hon Afenyo-Markin, that is what is meant by the rendition contained in the Report that the anomaly was finally corrected. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Hon Chairman of the Committee, we would want to know, at the level of the consideration of the estimates for the Judiciary and the Judicial Service, were the two decoupled for your consideration? This is because you know there are clear provisions of the 1992 Constitution on the Judiciary, which have distinguished the Judiciary from the Judicial Service. The treatment we are asked to give to the Judiciary is different from that of the Judicial Service, when we are dealing with their budget estimates. Was it done at the level of the Committee?
Mr Speaker, this issue was raised and hotly debated. Some were of the view that if one would want to take the ordinary meaning approach, one would say the Judiciary does not include the Judicial Service, but if one would want to adopt the purposive interpretation approach, one would argue that the Judiciary includes the Judicial Service. Mr Speaker, the Judicial Secretary said that if they talk about the Judiciary, what they are saying is that it includes the Judicial Service. Be that it may --
Hon Chairman of the Committee, I am sure you have the Constitution with you?
Mr Speaker, that is so.
Read article 126. Does it include the Judicial Service?
Mr Speaker, the provision of article 126(1) does not include the Judicial Service.
So what interpretation were you applying? Purposive? Go and read article 190 of 1992 Constitution. The Judicial Service is part of the Public Services of Ghana. The Judiciary is an arm of Government, and it has been defined under article 126(1). So, I find it difficult to understand your submission that if we are using the purposive approach, the Judiciary should be read and interpreted to include the Judicial Service.
Mr Speaker, I said that at the Committee level, opinions were divided. Some were of the opinion that the Judiciary includes the Judicial Service, and others were saying the Judiciary per the provision you instructed me to quote, does not include the Judicial Service. Mr Speaker, be that as it may, I believe we would go by the relevant provision of the Constitution, and as a Committee, we would instruct the Judiciary and the Judicial Service to decouple the estimates of the Judiciary from the Judicial Service.
Mr Speaker, let me express gratitude to Hon Colleagues who have contributed to the Motion, and in particular to thank Hon Bernard Ahiafor, the Member of Parliament for Akatsi South for bringing our attention to this issue of a split or making a distinction between the Judiciary and the Judicial Service. Mr Speaker, I believe this debate has been played on and on for over a certain period of time. So, it is good that he is rehashing this. Mr Speaker, with respect to the letter from the Presidency, we would go back to 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016. It has always been the same. I have always disagreed that, it should not be like that, but that is the caption they have always applied. That is why I am saying that it is good --
Hon Majority Leader, are you saying it is always signed by the Vice President?
No, Mr Speaker, I am talking about the caption of that Communication from the Presidency. It has always been presentation of a specified year's annual financial estimates of the Judicial Service, but we have always interrogated the matter. That is why I am saying that the rehash is good for us. Mr Speaker, maybe, we should see what to do in the consideration of this matter, because the same thing applies to even the Parliamentary Service. The Parliamentary Service is part of the Public Services, and yet what estimates we present to the President encapsulates both Parliament and the Parliamentary Service, in other words, the Chamber activities and the Parliamentary Service. We do not make a distinction. Mr Speaker, that is why I am saying that, we should be consistent. What do we seek to achieve? Constitutionally, the issue he has raised has relevance. Indeed, over the past few years, we have always raised the matter. Going forward, what do we do? I am proposing that, if we should require and indeed, request a split between the Judiciary and the Judicial Service, the same should apply to Parliament's own request.
Hon Majority Leader, address the issue of the constitutional provisions on the Judiciary. We do not have similar provisions on Parliament.
Mr Speaker, article 124 makes the Parliamentary Service part of the Public Services of Ghana.
I am talking about other provisions on independence and the way the budget estimates of the Judiciary should be treated by us. I am saying that the provisions are not similar with respect to that of Parliament.
Mr Speaker, I believe we are talking about the Public Services. I agree that there should be a distinction, because, the Judicial Service is not mentioned as part of the Judiciary. That is the issue, and we should therefore, treat it separately, strictly speaking. Mr Speaker, I am saying that in respect of Parliament, the same rule then should apply, because the Parliamentary Service and not Members of Parliament is part of the Public Services of Ghana. So, we should be consistent. Mr Speaker, having said so, even with respect to the Judiciary, if you probe further, there appears to be a distinction in article 179 (3) (a) and article 179 (3) (b), and 179(3) (a) has to do with the estimates of the administrative expenses of the Judiciary, which shall be charged on the Consolidated Fund under article 127 of this Constitution. Article 179 (3) (b) then talks about estimates of the development expenditure of the Judiciary. So, even here, there appears to be a distinction with the Judiciary, and then, if we come to article 179 (6), it says: “The development expenditure of the Judiciary, if approved by Parliament, shall be a charge on the Consolidated Fund.” Mr Speaker, the first one is subject to article 127, this one is not. That is why I am saying that even there, within the same Judiciary, there appears to be a distinction, and so, we should walk through it and interrogate the issues further in order to enhance the conduct of business by the House. Mr Speaker, it is still germane that it has been raised at this time, and having said so, I believe it provides sufficient agitation to the conscience of all of us, what to do going forward in the consideration of the budget of the Judiciary and the Judicial Service. We would come to that, I am not anticipating, but with respect to Parliament, the Parliamentary Service as opposed to Chamber activities. Mr Speaker, I thank Hon Members once again, for the contribution, and I believe some illumination has been shed on the way forward for us, as a nation, and having said so, to reiterate the request, that the House adopts the Report and approves the sum of GH¢331,185,841.00 for the activities of the Judiciary, inclusive of the Judicial Service, for the year ending 31st December, 2017.
Thank you Mr Speaker. [Interruption.] Mr Speaker, yes, I know that we have ended the debate but I would want to just reiterate and find out whether you could give direction as to the Judicial Service and the Judiciary henceforth, that in bringing their estimates to the House, they
Mr Speaker, the problem I alluded to is that, from the Judiciary, they have always included the Judicial Service's estimates to the Presidency. That is where the problem even emanates from. So, we should perhaps, be telling them that going forward, we should have that distinction, and then of course, apply that same measure to ourselves.
Hon Member for Effutu, please, address the Chair. I have not recognised any other Hon Member to speak and I have not heard any submission from any other Hon Member except you. So, you may continue.
Hon Member, do you know you are really violating the rules? I would kindly advise you to withdraw what you said about the Speaker.
Hon Members, before I put the Question, it is important that we clarify this issue. As it is now in the Constitution, the estimates of the Judiciary cannot be revised when submitted to the President. That is not the same for the Judicial Service. The same applies to Parliament. And so, to conform to the constitutional provisions, I would direct that the Judiciary should submit its budget on the Judiciary alone to the President. That of the Judicial Service would have to be treated separately. There are various provisions of the Constitution, which distinguish between the Judicial Service and the Judiciary and it is not for any other reason than the independence of the Judiciary, not the Judicial Service. And so, please, the Committee should be so guided in treating the estimates when they are submitted to the House. It does not mean that the Chief Justice cannot consult the President on the issue of the budget of the Judicial Service. That can be done but to conform to the constitutional provisions, it is important that we stay to the spirit and letter of the Constitution. The next is that, I believe that it would do us all some good if we are able to give some indication to the House as to the percentage of the Budget Statement that goes to the Judiciary and also Parliament. It would do us some good, not only the House, but also the whole country. This is because, that will guide us to see how we treat the arms of governance. But in the meantime, we would have to go according to the practice until this is done. So, I will want to put the Question.
Hon Minority Leader, is the Speaker out of order?
Not at all. Mr Speaker, I was just trying strenuously to catch your eye, so that I could make a contribution on the Judicial Service principally for two reasons. There are matters which have to be handled with expediency given my previous role as Hon Minister who slept on the bed of thorns and then also, to relay some other important information that would need to be acted upon. But if it is your pleasure that you would want to put the Question -- But there are indeed, urgent matters that affect the Judiciary. I thought I could get it, that is, I rushed back from the Appointments Committee, but I am sure I would have another opportunity to deal with it. 6. 35 p. m.
Thank you, Hon Minority Leader. Now, we are dealing with the budget of the Judiciary and in fact, the Judicial Service. Our attention has not been drawn to any urgent matters so far as the budget is concerned. And so, it is good that you have accepted that at the appropriate time, you would make your submissions on the urgent matters touching the Judiciary. In the meantime, I will put the Question. Question put and Motion agreed to. Resolved: That this Honourable House approves the sum of GH¢331,185,841 for the services of the Judiciary and the Judicial Service for the year ending 31st December, 2017.
Mr Speaker, Motion number (xii) captured as item 16. Item 16 at page 5 of the Order Paper. Hon Minister for Parliamentary Affairs? ANNUAL ESTIMATES, 2017 Parliament and Parliamentary Service of Ghana
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that this Honourable House approves the sum of GH¢308,565,445 for the services of Parliament and the Parliamentary Service for the year ending 31st December, 2017. Question proposed.
Mr Speaker, I beg to support the Motion for the approval of the budgetary allocation to the services of Parliament and the Parliamentary Service. Mr Speaker, in so doing, I present your Committee's Report? Introduction The Minister responsible for Finance, Hon Ken Ofori-Atta presented the Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the Government for the year ending 31st December, 2017 to Parliament on Thursday, 2nd March, 2017, in accordance with article 179 of the 1992 Constitution. The Estimates of the Parliament of Ghana and the Parliamentary Service were subsequently laid before the House in accordance with article 178 (1) (a) and 179 (2) (b) of the 1992 Constitution, section 15 of the Parliamentary Service Act, 1993 (Act 460) and section 15(a) of the Parliamentary Service (Amendment) Act, 2008, (Act 763). Pursuant to Order 140(4) of the Standing Orders of the House, the Speaker referred the draft Annual Budget Estimates of Parliament to the Special Budget Committee for consideration and report. The Committee was assisted by the Clerk to Parliament, Mr Emmanuel Anyimadu and officials of the Parliamentary Service in considering the Budget Estimates. The Committee expresses its gratitude to the Clerk and the officials for the assistance. Reference documents The Committee made reference to the following documents during its deliberations: i. The 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana ii. The Standing Orders of the Parliament of Ghana iii. The Report of the Special Budget Committee on the 2016 Budget Estimates of the Parliament of Ghana iv. The Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the Government of Ghana for the 2017 Financial Year v. The Parliamentary Service Act, 1993 (Act 460) vi. The Parliamentary Service (Amendment) Act, 2008, (Act 763). Mission statement The mandate of the Parliament of Ghana is to represent and protect the people of Ghana within the framework of the Constitution, deliberate on matters, inform the citizenry on salient issues, legislate, scrutinize financial matters, oversee the executive and the independent governance institutions, as well approve and ratify agreements, protocols and conventions. Parliament in the performance of these functions is supported by an efficient, non-partisan, innovative and professional Parliamentary Service, structured to ensure the dignity of Parliament. In the realisation of the mandate, the following strategic goals have been identified: Strengthen the capacity of Parliament to perform its legislative function effectively and efficiently Build and continually strengthen the competence of Members of Parliament in the discharge of their constitutional and other statutoiy functions Strengthen the capacity of Parliament to perform its financial oversight functions effectively and efficiently Ensure Parliament's representational function is made more relevant to the needs of the public Improve the ability of Parliament to exercise effective oversight Improve effectiveness and efficiency of the Parliamentary Service in the delivery of services Ensure that Parliament has adequate physical, logistical and ICT infrastructure to sustain excellence in service delivery Strengthen international relations of Parliament through regional and global cooperation and partnership. 2016 Budget performance review For the performance of its function, an amount of two hundred and fifty-five million, eight hundred and sixty-five thousand, seven hundred and seventeen Ghana cedis (GH¢255,865,717.00) was allocated to the Parliament of Ghana and the Parliamentary Service in 2016. The breakdown of the total allocation has been depicted in Table 1 bellow.
Table 1: Breakdown of 2016 Allocation SPACE FOR TABLE 1 - PAGE 5 - 6.35 P.M. Achievements in 2016 Legislative Business In accordance with article 93(2) of the Constitution, Parliament continued to discharge its mandate through plenary and committee sittings to consider and approve legislative proposals brought before it. In this regard, the House held a total of ninety-eight (98) plenary Sittings, two hundred and eighty-one (281) committee sittings and considered three hundred and fifty-eight (358) Papers. The Papers included twenty-nine (39) Bills, thirty-nine (39) Legislative Instruments (L.I.s) and Constitutional Instruments (C.I), one hundred and eleven (111) international Agreements and one hundred and fifty-one (151) Reports from committees. Out of the thirty-nine (39) Bills laid, thirty-four (34) were passed into law. Parliamentary Oversight In accordance with articles 174, 178, 181, 184 and 187 of the Constitution, Parliament continued to exercise oversight over the use of state resources. In this regard, the Public Accounts Committee conducted seven (7) public sittings to consider and report on Auditor General's Reports and made a total of thirteen (13) recommendations involving retrieval of misappropriated public funds. The Government Assurances Committee also held two (2) public sittings for the first time to follow up on assurances made by Ministers of State on the floor of Parliament. Furthermore, a total of one hundred and ten (110) Parliamentary Questions were asked of various Ministers and eighteen (18) Statements on matters of national importance were made. Committees of Parliament also undertook a total of (12) monitoring visits to track the progress of implementation of selected projects approved in sector budgets. State of the Nation Address Pursuant to article 67 of the Constitution, H. E. the President, Mr John Dramani Mahama delivered to the House two mMessages on the State of the Nation in February and December, 2016. The addresses covered critical matters of national importance. Provision of Offices to Members of Parliament With the completion of work on Job 600 facility, a total of 252 Members of Parliament were provided with offices and secretariats to facilitate their work. The facility also provides for committee meeting rooms, restaurants and auditorium and banking services. The provision of these facilities is expected to facilitate work of Members and increase their effectiveness. The facility also included a Members Service Centre to enable Members conduct their parliamentary business efficiently and effectively. The Centre provides one-stop-shop facility to provide information and other services to Members. Provision of Research Assistants to Members of Parliament In recognition of the important role of research in the exercise of oversight and monitoring functions, Members of Parliament have been provided with research and administrative support to enable them effectively discharge their responsibilities. The provision of dedicated staff, is expected to improve Members' access to reliable and timely data and information for the performance of their functions. Hosting of foreign delegations During this period under review Parliament hosted a number of foreign dignitaries, significant among them were the Italian Prime Minister, the Turkish Prime Minister and the Speaker of the Chinese Communist Party. Also a delegation from the Committee on the scrutiny from Gauteng Provincial Legislature of the Republic of South Africa and staff from the Auditor-General's Department of Uganda. Parliament of Ghana also hosted the 2nd Professional Development Seminar of the Society of Clerks-at-the-Table (SoCATT), Africa Region. Outlook For 2017 For year 2017, Parliament will undertake the following activities among others: Legislative function Parliament will continue with its legislative functions and complete the review of the Standing Orders. The review will make provisions for the opening of committee sittings to the public and permit media coverage of proceedings, empower committees to undertake independent investigations as well as summon witnesses and government officials to appear before it. Parliament will also undertake legislative scrutiny of bills and complete preparatory work for the construction of a new chamber. Oversight function Parliament will undertake monitoring activities at the local level with the involvement of service providers and community members to increase the effectiveness of the Public Accounts Committee. Parliament will also hold public hearings of the Public Accounts Committee and the Government Assurance Committee. In addition, mechanisms will be implemented to track MDA budgets in line with the Public Financial Management. The allocation is also to facilitate the discharge of the Core Functions of Parliament including: Representational Deliberative
But are you the Chairman of the Special Budget Committee?
Mr Speaker, I am de facto Chairman.
Mr Speaker, as has been the convention, it is the Hon Majority Leader who is the Chairman of the Committee and the Hon Minority Leader as the Vice Chairman of the Committee. In their absence, I happen to help the Committee -- [Laughter] -- So, Mr Speaker—
I thought the proper thing would be to say that you have his authority to present the Report for and on his behalf and that of the
I was told you were absent and I said no, I can see you are present. [Laughter.]
Mr Speaker, as we have always done, in such matters, as you know, it is usually the Hon Majority Leader who chairs the Special Budget Committee and the Hon Minority Leader is the Vice Chairman. Given the exigencies of the times, we have always found a faithful ally to be the de facto Chairman of that Committee. Unfortunately, the Hon Minority Leader was also attending to the business of the Appointments Committee, so he was not in the Chamber. It therefore, became important to allow one of the members, the most visible member of the Committee for the time being, to lead the discourse. [Interruption.] Most visible and not invisible.
Hon Majority Leader, I definitely know the practice. It is just that when I chaired the Committee, it was actually Hon Prof. Gyan- Baffour who used to present the Report. He made it known to the House that he was always doing so on behalf of the Chairman. He would mention it before presenting the Report, but Hon Basoah did not do that and I was drawing his attention to acknowledge that, and then, we proceed.
Mr Speaker, since you have asked him to proceed, I need not add anything than to say that, Hon Basoah has been very supportive. In the exigencies as the Hon Majority Leader stated, I took part in some of the deliberations and joined the Hon Majority Leader in some other deliberations of the various independent constitutional bodies. Even though I was present, I am still with the Hon Majority Leader's support, asked him to chair and facilitate the Reports of those bodies. So, I am sure Mr Speaker, he would take a cue from you and say that, he is doing so on behalf of the Hon Majority Leader who is present and not absent.
Mr Speaker, the issue that you raised in respect of how the Motion has been captured, “Parliament and the Parliamentary Service”. The difficulty, even though that has been the normalcy as my Hon Colleague from Akatsi South related to, in respect of the consideration of the budget of the Judiciary, whether it should be Judiciary and Judicial Service, is rated same in respect of Parliament. In the Budget Statement, the allocation on page 179, is to the Parliament of Ghana and not Parliament and the Parliamentary Service. Even though we know that the budget allocation covers both the Chamber activities and that of the Parliamentary Service. That is why I said, going forward, we may want to think through to see how best to capture it. However, in the Budget Statement, it is simply Parliament of Ghana. So, what do we do in such circumstances? Are we to divide it up, to let it represent the various components or capture it as it appears in the Budget Statement? I believe we should capture it as appears in the Budget Statement, even though among ourselves, we know it also covers that of the Parliamentary Service.
Hon Majority Leader, the directive is to ensure that the Report conforms to the text of the Motion that has been moved. That is all. In the case of the Judiciary, because it is said to be independent, its members have been insulated from any interference by the constitutional provisions. We know there is a practical problem with implementation, because the Judiciary cannot function without the Judicial Service. However, because the members of the Judicial Service are members of the Public Service, it is difficult to insulate them from that influence. So, there is a practical problem which would have to be resolved when we are looking at the constitutional reforms. As of now, because of the text of the Motion, I thought that it was wise and I have directed so, that the Report be amended to conform to the context of the Motion that has been ably moved. Please, it is so amended, continue to present the Report. We all have copies of the Report, so conclude.
Mr Speaker, I therefore, request this Honourable House to adopt the Report and approve the sum of GH¢308,565,445.00 for the services of Parliament and the Parliamentary Service for the year ending, 31st December, 2017.
Thank you Mr Speaker.
An amendment was made to the Report to read “Parliament and Parliamentary Service”. So, if my Hon Colleague could --
Hon Quashigah, take that on board.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. That has been taken on board. On page 5, provision of offices to Hon Members or Parliament (MP) -- It was indeed, a good effort, making Hon Members of Parliament regain that dignity that they ought to have, by now operating from offices and not their car boots. That was refreshing and has obviously impacted positively on the performance of MPs. Mr Speaker, it is very refreshing that MPs are really performing. However, one thing that is lacking as far as that facility is concerned is a gym. We have been told severally that, it was to come with a gym but to date, no provision has been made in the facility for a gym. It has become a white elephant. I would like to crave the indulgence of the Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, that he kick starts the necessary efforts to get the gym working, so that MPs --
Hon Member, I thought you commended the previous Government and not the previous Parliament, but now you are calling on Parliament to furnish the gym? You always commend previous Governments but not previous Parliaments. I believe this is the collective work of previous Governments and previous Parliaments and that is on record in the House. Hon Member, please, continue.
Mr Speaker, I thank you for the correction. Obviously, the previous Parliament did a great job and it must be commended as well. Mr Speaker, I crave the indulgence of the Hon Minister for Parliamentary Affairs to take this on board, so that at least, the gym would help the fitness of Hon Members of Parliament (MPs), such that we can be able to deliver better than we are doing now. We so much need the gym, and I believe it would be a good thing and very refreshing when the gym is fixed. Mr Speaker, the Committee's Report also talked about the provision of research assistants to MPs. The indication in the last paragraph was that we were given research assistants and that has enhanced performance of our work. Mr Speaker, that can be grossly misleading. We had national service persons that we engaged ourselves and were admitted by Parliament, and so that cannot be equated to having been given research assistants by the Sixth Parliament. Mr Speaker, indeed, most of the national service persons that we engaged did not even have research background. Some of them only performed secretarial functions and it is very necessary that this correction is made. Mr Speaker, on page 10 of the Report, it talked about the efforts being made to provide special research assistants to MPs and that contradicts the paragraph on page 5. So, indeed, research assistants are needed. Some of us who have not been able to make arrangements with the National Service Secretariat do not have national service persons to even serve as secretarial staff. Having been given offices which are good and would help our work, we believe we also need the necessary officers to help us to perform the research work because the legislative work is largely anchored on research. Mr Speaker, with these few words, I support the Motion.
Mr Speaker, I thank you for giving me the opportunity. Mr Speaker, I would want to talk about the clinic in Parliament. I have realised that the clinic lacks a lot of amenities like laboratory services. When one goes there to have a malaria test or a Computed Tomology (CT) scan, they would say they do not have the equipment. Mr Speaker, I would want to plead with the Hon Minister for Parliamentary Affairs to make sure that the laboratory is well equipped. That is my major problem.
Hon Members, if I am permitted to recommend the submission of the Hon Member for Yunyoo to all of you -- it was short, crisp and direct.
Mr Speaker, I rise to support the Motion, which is to approve the Budget Estimates for Parliament and Parliamentary Service. Mr Speaker, I would want to comment on the security service at Parliament on page 9 of the Report. It has been a worry to most of us who are “Level 100 Parliamentarians.” Mr Speaker, I observed certain things that need to be addressed --
Hon Member, did you say “Level 100” Parliamentarians”? [Laughter.]
Mr Speaker, it is because we have said this thing -- it is informal.
Hon Member, it is an unknown term to our parliamentary practice. Are you talking about first time MPs?
Yes, Sir. [Laughter.]
Hon Member, please, continue. Do not be intimidated at all. Just continue with your submission.
Yes, Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I would want to emphasise the point that the Hon Speaker or the person who presides in the Chair can be addressed as “Mr Speaker”, “Rt Hon Speaker” or “Mr Speaker Sir” if the person happens to be a male or “Lady Speaker” or “Madam Speaker” if the person is a female. Mr Speaker, this is acceptable in any Parliament and that is for the avoidance of doubt.
Hon Majority Leader, you would realise I did not rule the Hon Member out of order because she was on point. Hon Member, please continue.
Mr Speaker, the way visitors sometimes tend to use the entrances meant for staff alone or the lift for MPs alone, et cetera is disturbing. Mr Speaker, to ensure that all these issues are addressed or rectified, we would need to have qualified and trained security personnel to secure the entry and exit point of the House as stated under “Security” on page 9 of the Committee's Report. Mr Speaker, with the security personnel who work in the House, I would want to say that they can use different attires to be identified in in-house or of course, also show some kind of disparity between them and the MPs. Mr Speaker, all these things cost money and some of us are happy to note that it was captured in the Budget Estimates. Mr Speaker, I would want to say that the Committee's recommendation to the House to adopt its Report and to approve the sum of GH¢308,565,445 is in order. 7
Mr Speaker, I would want to share an experience with the House about what happened --
Hon Member, we are debating the Motion on the Estimates, so, kindly put that in the context of this debate. Do not share any experience that is not relevant to the Motion before us. Hon Member, you can continue.
Mr Speaker, I beg to support the Motion, that the budget for Parliament and the Parliamentary Service be approved. Mr Speaker, having said so, I would like to state that there is the need for the security unit of the House to do more than they are doing now. At the Committee level, we discussed that there is the need to use the metal detectors that were donated to the House by the Chinese Embassy in Ghana. After the discussions, the Hon Chairman of the Committee promised us that sooner or later, the security officers at both gates would start using the detectors. I would want to appeal to him, through Mr Speaker, to quickly have that done. Mr Speaker, for us to be safe in this House in terms of security, we need to make sure that everything works properly. Around 9.15 this morning, on the eleventh floor of the Job 600 Block, the fire alarm started beeping when I got there. I rushed out to the reception to ask what was happening but the ladies there did not know what was happening. We called officers of the Ghana National Fire Service to come in. The fire officers came in and realised that there was no problem but that these fire alarms needed to be serviced. So, I wish to also plead with the management of this House to make sure that these things are serviced regularly because it was scary on the eleventh floor this morning. Mr Speaker, again, in terms of safety of Hon Members of Parliament, I got stuck in the elevator for about four minutes yesterday. When I finally rang the bell severally and came out after a few minutes of this ordeal, I met a gentleman out there who said I should not worry and that it was because the light went off and that the elevator would have come anyway. Then I asked what he was doing there? He said that they were servicing the lift. Mr Speaker, they could service these elevators on Saturday when we are not at work or even in the night when we are not around. The Hon Member for Afadzato South must be safe for her constituents and also for Ghana; other Hon Members of the House must be safe too. So, I wish to plead with Mr Speaker to please direct that if it is not an emergency, then the technicians could service these elevators on Sundays for us to be safe. Mr Speaker, on that note, I thank you for your direction and also state that it is very necessary for us as Members of Parliament to approve of this budget.
Leadership of the House; yes, Hon Emmanuel Bedzrah?
Mr Speaker, my Hon Leader is around and he would be speaking. I am therefore, not speaking as a Leader, so that he would be given the opportunity to speak. Mr Speaker, I beg to support the Motion. We all know that Parliament is the beacon of democracy and that democracy revolves around Parliament. Therefore, if Parliament is not working well, democracy in any jurisdiction would not be working effectively. Mr Speaker, I have noticed that the estimates given to us by the Parliamentary Service, we would notice that there is provision made for oversighting. Therefore, the Government Assurances Committee (GAC) and the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) would be having their public hearings. I would want to reiterate that GAC is one of the Committees we all know that have direct oversight just as any other Committee. But GAC as it was given an effective role to play in the Sixth Parliament, would be given the same assistance to play its role as an oversight Committee. Therefore, any assistance that is needed for this particular Committee should be given to the Committee when the need arises. Mr Speaker, we all know that the 253 office accommodations is ready for Hon Members of Parliament. This is short of some allocations. As a result of that, last year, there was provision to construct additional office space for Hon Colleagues who do not have office accommodation. I believe that this estimate has captured the estimate to provide accommodation for the 23 Hon Members who do not have office accommodation. Mr Speaker, I have also noticed that the allocation for research assistants that was provided in the Budget Statement in 2016, that could not see the light of day, would this time round see the light of day; that we would be given the opportunity to procure our own research assistants to help us because we need research assistants to be able to perform our duties as Hon Members of Parliament. Mr Speaker, with these few words, I support the Motion.
Mr Speaker, I beg to support the Motion for the approval of GH¢308,565,445 for the implementation of the programmes of the Parliament of Ghana for the 2017 financial year.
Hon Minority Leader, did you say the Constitution provides that the estimates of Parliament of Ghana should be submitted to the President and that the President cannot vary it?
That is why I added others, including the Judicial Service. I was not speaking for only Parliament.
It is the Judiciary alone. That of Parliament, I believe we passed an Act -- [Interruption] -- Yes.
Yes, but even that, we passed the Act because we failed to do what was right. It was not to amend the law. It was to deal with the problem head- on, that Parliament should not be starved of its financial resources. That is the reason I referred to the Constitution. So, the provision is still that the budget will walk to the President and come back to Parliament. Mr Speaker, I assume that in their wisdom, the framers of the Constitution, it was to provide enough financial resources to these constitutional bodies. But I share the view that the Act of Parliament amended it. Mr Speaker, when I look at the Committee's Report -- and I believe that you would share that view with me on paragraph 5.0 -- Parliamentary Oversight and Legislative Business. Sometimes, the Clerks to the Committees should help us. Once, I was the Vice Chairman of this Committee with the Hon Majority Leader. On Legislative Business, no mention is made of the work of the Committees of Parliament. I believe that for reporting purposes, the work of Parliament is largely executed through committees and it is important that, that reflects in the Report. Mr Speaker, when you consider the Parliamentary oversight, reference is made to articles 174, 178, 181, 184 and 187 without reference to article 179. The basis of the budget and its scrutiny is article 179 of the Constitution. Mr Speaker, in many other areas of the Constitution, wherever there is reference to Parliament, it provides for Parliament to exercise its oversight. Therefore, I think that next time, they should either be silent on it or elaborate further on what is important. Mr Speaker, having listened to Hon Members, it appears to me that Leadership, my Hon Colleague and I, and the Hon Speaker are all committed to it -- It is to enhance the security within the precincts, Chamber and offices for Members of Parliament and I believe that it would receive the adequate attention that it requires. There has been additional offices for those of our Hon Colleagues who are without offices. It is also a matter which should be handled more urgently. Mr Speaker, my final comment is on research assistants for Hon Members of Parliament. We have, in the last few years, been debating and conveniently resorting to the use of National Service Persons. I have heard eloquently the position of Members of Parliament. They want dedicated Research Assistants with Master's degree level to support them in the work and research they do. I do not want to be supporting this Motion in future and be repeating the request. I believe that Leadership together with yourself must act on the process for the recruitment of dedicated permanent research assistants for all MPs. Mr Speaker, this is just the beginning. Going into the future, we should have persons who support us at the level of the constituencies to keep track of communication and events between the MP and the constituency that one represents and the matters that one needs to deal with. So, Mr Speaker, I strongly believe -- and there is an indication from the new Leadership of Parliament led by Mr Speaker -- that we would want to position Parliament as responsive to the needs of the people. We would want to position Parliament as a more transparent and accountable to the people of Ghana. I notice that, at least, the budget has been increased somehow by 17.5 per cent. That is encouraging. We have not seen the cutlass of the Hon Minister for Finance this time in reducing what Parliament has requested for. Therefore, with these few comments, I am assured that I would work with my Hon Colleague and Mr Speaker to enhance the work of Parliament, so that it would continue to discharge its onerous responsibility.
The Hon Majority Leader and Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, in your winding up, please, try to address the experience of the Member of Parliament for Afadjato South and then also clear the issue on the Research Assistants. This is because a decision was taken last year that Parliament will support Hon Members to engage Research Assistants not below the qualification of Master's degree. It is covered in the Report, but we are not told the steps that are being taken to implement that. Hon Members are complaining that they are still called upon to deal with National Service Personnel. So, please, kindly assist the House to know what Leadership is doing in this direction.
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to wind up the debate on the Motion to approve the sum of GH¢ 308,565,445 for the implementation of the programmes of Parliament of Ghana for the 2017 financial year. Mr Speaker, the Hon Minority Leader is asking me what the difference is. The difference is that -- [Laughter.] Mr Speaker, he is walking away from his inquisition.
Hon Majority Leader, I believe one of the good reasons you adduced for the creation of the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs is
for us to always have a Minister available to move Motions in the absence of other Ministers. So, this Motion is moved by you as the Minister for Parliamentary Affairs. Now, you are drawing our attention that you have moved it in your capacity as the Hon Majority Leader and not the Minister for Parliamentary Affairs.
Mr Speaker, as you do know, the Motion in respect of the constitutional creatures is done by the Hon Majority Leader and not by a Minister. That is what you were doing when you were here even though you were not a Minister. So, Mr Speaker, that is the convention that we have adopted.
Hon Majority Leader, can you define when I “was here” because I am still here -- [Laughter.]
When you were the Hon Majority Leader. Mr Speaker, so, that is the practice that we have adopted. It is so, because -- [Interruption.]
I see the Hon Minority Leader on his feet.
Mr Speaker, once the Hon Majority Leader is on his feet, I should stay far away from wanting to interject. But the Hon Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu is in a difficulty of a separation of a divorce. I do not understand, that he wants to move this Motion as a Majority Leader. The value is in Hon Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu and he is the Majority Leader and Minister for Parliamentary Affairs -- inseparable. At this material moment, Mr Speaker, I cannot see how we can separate Hon Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu as the Majority Leader from the Minister for Parliamentary Affairs for him to move a Motion. Mr Speaker, there is a Motion and it is for Parliament. He is the Leader of Government Business; we could have avoided the separation. Thank you.
Well, I think that he was just drawing my attention to the responsibilities since we have “God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit” [Laughter.] They perform the things together but we know that when the Holy Spirit is on someone, they refer to the Holy Spirit and not to God the Father. So, Hon Majority Leader, please, continue.
Mr Speaker, thank you for the elucidation, and I guess the Hon Minority Leader would purge himself of all sins and misunderstandings. Mr Speaker, this is because --
Did you use the word “purge”?
Mr Speaker, yes. He should purge himself from all misunderstandings and all misconcep- tions. [Laughter.] Mr Speaker, we do not want to put these constitutional creatures in the ambit of the Executive and that is why, when such Motions are moved on their behalf, it is done by the Hon Majority Leader and not an Hon Minister. So, I guess he would get the distinction, but he is still young in the seat and I believe that together, Mr Speaker, with your support, we shall lift him higher and higher. Mr Speaker, I think that Hon Members have raised relevant issues and you aptly intervened to correct the impression that what we see in the transformation of the Job 600 Complex is borne out of collective efforts of many previous Parliaments, indeed, Speakers and Governments. As we do know, this whole exercise started from the era of the Rt Hon Justice Annan when we had about 25 million dollars meant for the facility. Unfortunately, I think it got expended by the Executive and never got replenished. So, it sent us to square one and thereafter, Rt Hon Peter Ala Adjetey tried his best to resurrect this enterprise. It materialised under the Lady Speaker that we had and we started in earnest the refurbishment of the Job 600 complex. But the efforts had started and we only witnessed the culmination just last year. Hon Members have spoken to the lack of a gymnasium facility. We have a gymnasium facility but we do not have the gymnasium equipment. Mr Speaker, as you may recollect, the Parliamentary Service Board got entangled in the procurement of the equipment. We were not able to resolve it until the last Service Board got dissolved. This new Board would certainly take that on board and the same affects the provision of the restaurant facilities. Mr Speaker, it is intended that in the coming few months, we should unravel what is preventing us from furnishing the kitchen to enable us contract the people with requisite experience to provide us with food while we work here in Parliament. Two of our ladies related to the use of the lifts and I think that it is important as a House that we address our minds to this. The other day, I entered the lift on the 11th floor, my bodyguard was not with me and immediately I entered, I saw three hefty men in the lift -- all of whom were strangers. They were to have come out but they did not; they opted to accompany me and I almost came out. I realised at the time that I was naked -- [Laughter] -- Indeed, Mr Speaker, it was a difficulty and I could not imagine the situation if it had happened to any of our women surrounded by three hefty looking strangers. Mr Speaker, I believe going forward, the Marshall's Department should be strengthened to ensure that lifts that are consigned and confined to Hon Members of Parliament are utilised by Hon Members of Parliament alone. Then those that are to be consigned and confined to the staff, should also be so designated; we never know what may happen tomorrow. Mr Speaker, the other matter relates to the research assistants. Yes, last year, we all agreed that we should begin in earnest and then we allowed the service persons to be with the various Hon Members of Parliament. Going forward, I guess we should activate the decision that was taken by the Parliamentary Service Board, that we should procure the services of second degree holders to provide such assistance to the Hon Members of Parliament. Unfortunately, the Parliamentary Service Board has not been able to meet ever since it was re-constituted. I hope that it would be one of the prime items to be considered at such a meeting that I guess would be organised in not too distant a future.
Before I put the Question, Hon Members, it is pretty difficult to identify Hon Members from their seats and that is why you have been properly designated your rightful seats in the Chamber. If you could so sit in those seats, you would be aiding the Speaker to identify you. This is because your names and constituencies have been computerised and so when you get up to speak and that is not your rightful seat, it goes into the records for the name that is designated as the Hon Member who is supposed to be in that seat and that is what I see from this seat. So, it is very difficult. Please, just aid us to identify you by speaking from your seats and not another Hon Member's seat. Question put and Motion agreed to. Resolved: That this Honourable House approves the sum of GH¢308,565,445 for the services of Parliament and the Parliamentary Service for the year ending 31st December, 2017.
Mr Speaker, I would want to thank Hon Members for their indulgence. We have the Motion on the Electoral Commission, but given the importance of the Commission, I have signals from the Hon Minority Leader that we should stand it down and deal with it tomorrow morning. Mr Speaker, in that case, I would not over- stretch Hon Members and so, we would deal with it tomorrow morning. Mr Speaker, so, we could bring the curtains down on activities for today.
Hon Members, unless the agenda has changed, I thought that the House was due to rise on Friday, and so, we could lessen the pressure on us during the last days if we are able to take a few more of the items today. Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, as you have said, the initial arrangement was to have the House to go on recess on Friday, 31st March, 2017. At a point in time, we were even trying to bring it forward to Thursday, 30th March, 2017 but given the circumstances of the times, it may become necessary to extend the time. However, we are still having a conversation on that; it is not conclusive and so, we would determine when to do that. In the meantime, let me invite the Business Committee that we would be having a meeting tomorrow morning before Sitting.
Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I believe that we want the best from Hon Members as we debate and consider the Budget Estimates. It appears, naturally, that there is some diminishing returns and there would be no gain to further keep us. I appreciate the fact that the Budget Estimates of the Electoral Commission, the matter of their performance in 2016 and related matters are of national interest. I believe that we could do that tomorrow and probably, even look at the Report of the Appointments Committee on the nomination of Hon Ministers of State and the Hon Deputy Ministers. Suddenly, even though there is a conversation going on, I have a difficulty if we would want to extend the Sitting of Parliament beyond 31st March, 2017 but I trust that when we meet at the Business Committee -- Mr Speaker, once it was programmed, brought here and approved, Hon Members would plan their lives and post 31st March activities around it. Mr Speaker, but we would endeavour to see what business we would be doing. The only major business that is outstanding is that of the Appointments Committee. Mr Speaker, we are doing our utmost best, and we do not want to be stampeded into doing a poor assessment of the Hon Nominees who appear before us. Therefore, we should be allowed to do our work diligently; we should not seek to extend the Meeting of Parliament just because we want a certain exercise to be completed within a certain period. Mr Speaker, we are in your hands for today, however, and I believe that tomorrow, we could take the Budget Estimates for the Electoral Commission as the first Motion, and probably, take the Report by the Appointments Committee on the nomination of the Hon Ministers of State, and other outstanding Budget Estimates of Hon Ministers that may be available. Mr Speaker, then we would work towards the Appropriation Bill. Mr Speaker, that would be my submission. So, today's proceedings as has been suggested -- Mr Speaker, we are now in your hands. Thank you.
I will want to urge Leadership to do everything possible to come to some consensus and let that reflect in the Business Statement as indicated by the Hon Majority Leader. Hon Majority Leader, were you on your feet.
Mr Speaker, I believe that for the records, the consideration of the Hon Ministers of State and the Hon Deputy Ministers would not be the only outstanding matter. We have the determination of the formula for distributing the District Assemblies Common Fund, and we know what it means to all of us. We know that this is only done after the Appropriations Act. Mr Speaker, the other matters as well are done after the Appropriations Act, and Hon Members would be very interested.
Both the Hon Majority Leader and the Hon Minority Leader are members of the Business Committee, and I would want to urge them, once again, to do everything possible to come to an agreement and advise the House accordingly in the Business Statement tomorrow. In the meantime, the House stands adjourned till Thursday next at 10 o'clock in the forenoon.
The House was adjourned at 7:41 p.m. till Thursday, 30th March, 2017 at 10:00 a.m.