VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS AND THE OFFICIAL REPORT
Hon Members, Correction of Votes and Proceedings and the Official Report. Votes and Proceed- ings dated Thursday, 23rd March, 2017. Page 1— 8
Thank you Mr Speaker, I was present yesterday but I have been marked absent.
Number and name for ease of reference.
Mr Speaker, on page 3 --
Mr Speaker, my number is supposed to be 99 or so but my name is not captured.
Your name is totally absent? The name just for ease of reference. If you would state the name, they are still getting—
Mr Speaker, my name is Banda, that is the surname. Ben Abdallah Banda.
Thank you Hon Member, it will be corrected.
Thank you very much, Hon Member.
Mr Speaker, page 5, number 171, I was absent yesterday but I have been marked present.
Thank you very much. That is why we need the electronic system. It will come soon. Hon Member?
Thank you Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, on page 8, item numbered 4, paragraph 8, the name is Avedzi James Klutse, Mr Speaker, I was present yesterday but I have been marked as absent. So, the correction should be made.
A whole Deputy Minority Leader marked as absent when cons- picuously present? -- [Laughter] -- Thank you very much. Page 8 --
Thank you Mr Speaker on page 8, number 24, I was absent but with permission.
Absent with permission?
Yes, Mr Speaker.
Thank you very much.
Mr Speaker, I am grateful. On page 12, item numbered 9, Motion for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration. I drew attention to the correct spelling of the Minister for Foreign Affairs' name. When she appeared before the Appointments Committee she said that her Botchway is spelt with an “a” and not an “e”, so, “ay”.
Thank you very much. Page 12… 41. Hon Members, the Votes and Proceed- ings of Tuesday, 23rd March, 2017 as corrected, are hereby adopted as the true record of proceedings. Hon Members, the Official Report of Tuesday, 7th March, 2017 is before us.
Mr Speaker, I rise to draw attention to column 2204, the fourth paragraph. I used the word “responsive” and not “responsible”. “…Heads of Assisted Secondary Schools (CHASS) and other like-minded organisations, so that we see how they could be more responsive”, not “responsible”, “working together with the various student unions…”
Thank you Hon Ablakwa. In the absence of any other corrections, the Official Report of Tuesday, 7th March, 2017 as corrected is hereby admitted as true record of the proceedings. Hon Members, item numbered 3, Business Statement for the Eleventh Week. Chairman of the Business Committee?
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Arrangement of Business Formal Communications by the Speaker Mr Speaker, you may read communica- tions to the House whenever they are available. Question(s) Mr Speaker, having regard to the volume of business pending before the House prior to adjournment sine die, the Business Committee has not programmed any Minister of State for Question time next week. However, Questions of Urgent nature, duly admitted by Mr Speaker, may be programmed for answering. Statements Mr Speaker, owing to the tall order of business scheduled for the week under consideration, the Business Committee proposes that, only Statements of urgent nature be permitted to be made in the House by Ministers of State and Hon Members. Bills, Papers and Reports Mr Speaker, Bills may be presented to the House for First Reading and those of urgent nature may be taken through the various stages in one day in accordance
with Standing Order 119. Papers and committee reports may also be presented to the House. Motions and Resolutions Mr Speaker, Motions may be debated and their consequential Resolutions, if any, taken during the week. Statutory Funds Mr Speaker, the following statutory formulae are expected to be presented to Parliament on Monday, 27th March 2017: (i) Proposed Formula for Distribu- ting the District Assemblies' Common Fund (DACF) for the year 2017; (ii) Proposed Formula for the Distribution of the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund) for the year 2017; (iii)Proposed Formula for the Disbursement of the National Health Insurance Fund for the year 2017. Contingent upon the introduction of the formulae, the Committee of the Whole would sit on Tuesday, 28th March, 2017. Mr Speaker, the Business Committee therefore, urges Honourable Members to take note of the proposed meeting of the Committee of the Whole and participate in the discussions accordingly. Consideration of Estimates of MDAs and other Institutions Mr Speaker, the Business Committee takes this opportunity to inform Hon Members that, pursuant to Order 55, any Committee Report and/or Motion relating to the Estimates of any Ministry or Agency which is left outstanding on the Order Paper on Friday, 24th March, 2017, shall be placed on the Order Paper of subsequent sittings of the week under consideration. Sitting of the House on Monday/Extended Sittings Mr Speaker, the Business Committee recommends that, the House sits on Monday, 27th March 2017. Furthermore, depending on the exigencies of the state of business, the House may have extended sittings to enable the completion of scheduled business. Mr Speaker, the House is expected to adjourn sine die on Thursday, 30th March 2017. Conclusion Mr Speaker, in accordance with Standing Order 160(2) and subject to Standing Order 53, the Committee submits to this honourable House, the order in which the Business of the House shall be taken during the week under considera- tion. Statements Presentation of Papers -- (a) Proposed Formula for Distribu- ting the District Assemblies' Common Fund (DACF) for the year 2017. (b) Proposed Formula for the Disbursement of the National Health Insurance Fund for the year 2017. (c)Proposed Formula for the Distribution of the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund) for the Year 2017. (d) Report of the Committee on Judiciary on the Annual Budget Estimates of the Judicial Service for the year ending 31st December, 2017. (e) Report of the Special Budget Committee on the Annual Budget Estimates of the Audit Service for the year ending 31st December, 2017. (f) Report of the Special Budget Committee on the Annual Budget Estimates of Parliament and the Parliamentary Service for the year ending 31st December, 2017. Motions -- (a) 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. (Minister for Parliamentary Affairs) (b) 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. (Minister for Parliamentary Affairs) (c) That this honourable House approves the sum of GH¢3,227,856 for the services of the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs for the year ending 31st December, 2017. (Minister for Parliamentary Affairs) Consideration Stage of Bills -- Earmarked Funds Capping and Realignment Bill, 2017. Committee sittings. Statements Presentation of Papers -- Motions -- (a) Third Reading of Bills Earmarked Funds Capping and Realignment Bill, 2017. (b) 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. (Minister for Parliamentary Affairs) (c) 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. (Minister for Parliamentary Affairs) (d) That this honourable House approves the sum of GH¢3,227,- 856 for the services of the
Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs for the year ending 31st December, 2017. (Minister for Parliamentary Affairs) Committee of the Whole to meet to consider the Statutory Formulae and other matters. Committee sittings. Statements -- Presentation of Papers -- (a) Report of the Committee to Investigate the Bribery Allega- tion Made Against the Chair and Some Members of the Appoint- ments Committee. (b) Report of the Committee of the Whole on the Proposed Formula for Distributing the District Assemblies' Common Fund (DACF) for the year 2017. (c) Report of the Committee of the Whole on the Proposed Formula for the Disbursement of the National Health Insurance Fund for the year 2017. (d) Report of the Committee of the Whole on the Proposed Formula for the Distribution of the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund) for the year 2017. Presentation and First Reading of Bills -- Appropriation Bill, 2017. Motions -- (a) Adoption of the Report of the Committee of the Whole on the Proposed Formula for Distribu- ting the District Assemblies' Common Fund (DACF) for the year 2017. (b) Adoption of the Report of the Committee of the Whole on the Proposed Formula for the Disbursement of the National Health Insurance Fund for the year 2017. (c) Adoption of the Report of the Committee of the Whole on the Proposed Formula for the Distribution of the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund) for the year 2017. Committee sittings. Statements Presentation of Papers -- Report of the Finance Committee on the Appropriation Bill, 2017. Motions -- (a) Adoption of the Report of the Committee to Investigate the Bribery Allegation Made Against the Chair and Some Members of the Appointments Committee. (b) Second Reading of Bills -- Appropriation Bill, 2017 (c) Third Reading of Bills -- Appropriation Bill, 2017 Consideration Stage of Bills -- Appropriation Bill, 2017 Committee sittings.
THE HOUSE IS EXPECTED TO
Thank you very much Hon Deputy Majority Leader.
Mr Speaker, the programme for next week indicates that, the formulae for the Statutory Funds would be presented on Monday, 27th March, 2017; that is the DACF, the GETFund and the NHI Fund. Mr Speaker, I know there is a Bill before the House which is the Earmarked Capping and Realignment Bill, 2017 and that Bill has not been taken through all the stages for passage into law which would then determine the various amounts that would be used by these funds. I wonder what amount would be used in the Statutory Fund to prepare the formula before the House. That should be taken on board. If we can wait for the passage of the Bill, then the amount would be determined and the formula would sit within that amount.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Deputy Minority Leader's point should be taken seriously. But for that reason, I believe that, we should consider today, to take that Bill through the various stages. This is because, we would need to do that before they would know what is available to them. There is no indication that, we would do that, so, perhaps, we should consider having an Order Paper Addendum to take it through the Consideration Stage and possibly the Third Reading. That would inform whoever is doing the formula to be able to do it properly. Mr Speaker, in all honesty, because there are also policy implications of the formulae, I believe it is unrealistic to think that the Committee of the Whole would be able to sit on Monday on that. This is because there are some policy issues that must be discussed. I spoke to the Hon Minister of Local Government and Rural Development yesterday, but those decisions had not been taken. So, we may look at Tuesday rather than Monday. Monday, would not be realistic. Mr Speaker, I do not believe the Papers can be laid on Monday so, we should look at Wednesday rather to Sit as a Committee of the Whole. Mr Speaker, we would work through Thursday so, Hon Members would programme to be around throughout next week. I am curious as to why we would adjourn sine die on Thursday when Friday is available. This is because, we would need to complete the process properly. If we are expected to be here on Monday through Thursday, I believe it is prudent to programme ourselves to be here on Friday -- to assure ourselves that we can complete the Business. This is because, there is no reason given why we would rise on Thursday. I do not know any Hon Member who would travel [Laughter] -- But as far as I am concerned, our first order of Business is to complete the budget process. [Interruption] -- No! I am not on the side of the Majority Caucus. I am an Hon Member of Parliament for Old Tafo.
I would always like the Hon Leaders to look behind them and look at their own Hon Members. It helps. Yes, Hon Richard Quashigah?
Mr Speaker, my issue is in relation to Questions. I submitted an Urgent Question about five weeks ago and you requested that, I see you personally for discussion on that. I dully was in your office with the Deputy Clerk and you admitted that, it was a very relevant Question as long as it borders on national security. Mr Speaker, it appears to me that, this Urgent Question that I asked, which is in consonance with Standing Order 64(1) which says, and I beg to read: “1) A Question shall not be asked without notice unless it is of an urgent character relating either to a matter of public importance or the arrangement of business, and by prior leave of Mr Speaker.” Mr Speaker, it appears this Question would not see the light of day. I would humbly crave your indulgence that, some direction be given, so that at least, the Hon Minister for National Security would come and answer that Question.
Mr Speaker, I am most grateful for the opportunity. Mr Speaker, I would want to also add my voice to the comments made by Hon Afenyo-Markin. The impression is sometimes is created that, Hon Members are only concerned about their welfare and that of this House alone, without considering that of their constituents and the larger society. We need to place on record that, this House remains committed to processes that would ensure that, every Ghanaian is safe. That is why we are here and we have the Committee for Defence and Interior. We are all committed to fighting counterterrorism, to support the process to ensure that, this country is safe for all Ghanaians. So while we discuss enhanced security for this House, I believe that in that same vain, we also ask for enhanced security for all Ghanaians wherever they may find themselves. Mr Speaker, I would want to seek your guidance. Item numbered 2(b) as contained in the Business Statement — Question(s) — We are told by the Hon Deputy Majority Leader that, no Statement has been admitted by your good office. But earlier this week, I had prayed your good office to permit me to ask an Urgent Question on the Kintampo Waterfalls issue and the safety of our tourist revellers, be it domestic or international at all our tourist sites. The Question stood in my name to be answered by the Hon Minister for Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts. Mr Speaker, I am surprised that has not been admitted. I cannot think of any other urgent matter that has engaged the attention of this country, and indeed, the international community since this tragedy befell us last Sunday. I believe that, this House has to be seen to be rising to the occasion to the urgency of this matter. Mr Speaker, so I would want to find out if the request has come to your attention, and if we can expect you to give us the opportunity to discuss this matter, especially as it has been stated in item 2 (b), and I beg to quote: “However, Questions of Urgent nature, duly admitted by Mr Speaker, may be programmed for answering.”
Mr Speaker, since next week would be our final Week, I would want to appeal to your high office, that, that Urgent Question be considered under this window.
Hon Members, order!
Mr Speaker, on the 10th of January, this House passed a Resolution on the membership of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Parliament. I raised this matter about three weeks ago and we were told by the Majority Leader -- Ms Safo — rose --
Hon Deputy Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, the business being discussed on the floor is the Business of the House for next week. The Hon Member for North Tongu has been on his feet and I wonder the relevance that has or the value addition to the Business of the House. [Interruption.] I rise under Standing Order 93 (4): “The speech of a Member must have reference to the subject matter under discussion”. So, Hon Member, I would want to crave your indulgence and for Mr Speaker's direction, that we confine our discussion to the Business Statement of the House being discussed. Mr Speaker, the business for today is very much loaded, so if we could keep our submissions brief and straight to the point, so that, we could go to the business for today; that would be very much appreciated. Thank you.
Mr Speaker, I am grateful. The Hon Deputy Majority Leader talked about value addition; I do not know what value the interruption -- Mr Speaker, the point I made is that, this House has passed a resolution on our membership of the ECOWAS Parliament. Three weeks ago, this matter came up and the Majority Leader told us that he would look at it and help us on the way forward. This is a matter which brought some embarrassment to this House. Mr Speaker, as we speak, there is a meeting of the ECOWAS Parliament coming up. We do not know exactly the membership that this Parliament has sent to the ECOWAS Parliament. The matter of Hon Afenyo-Markin and Hon Opare- Ansah is still pending. So I rise to seek your direction since this is the last Business of the House for this Meeting of Parliament, so that, we could get some resolution on the way forward, especially as there is an ECOWAS meeting coming up this month of March. I am grateful, Mr Speaker.
Indeed, an Hon Member is entitled at all times to comment not only on the Business Statement of the House as stated, but whatever an Hon Member may consider relevant omissions and infractions as well. Therefore, in considering any particular business of the House, the scope is reasonably wide, let us be mindful of this.
Mr Speaker, I would want to refer you to point number three on the Business of the House which is on Statutory Funds as presented by the Deputy Leader of the House.
“Mr Speaker, the following statu- tory formulae are expected to be presented to Parliament on Monday, 27th March, 2017”. Then the funds are mentioned. Soon after that, it goes on to say: “Contingent upon the introduction of the formulae, the Committee of the Whole would sit on Tuesday, 28th March, 2017.” Mr Speaker, today is Friday, so I would want to crave the indulgence of the House that if the documents are ready, they should be presented to Members for scrutiny so that, on Tuesday, we can make meaningful contributions towards that. Mr Speaker, I have seen this morning that, the seat of the Majority Leader and that of the Minority are nowhere to be found -- Mr Patrick Boamah — rose --
Hon Member, if you would hold on for a moment, please. Hon Member, are you up on a point of order?
Rightly so, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, the Hon Member is out of order because, if the documents have not been presented to us, we cannot look into them and discuss them.
Hon Member, you may continue.
Mr Speaker, the point I made was that, the original seats of the Majority and the Minority Leaders are not here in the Chamber. Whether it is in terms of the security that my good friend from Effutu, Hon Afenyo -Markin, talked about or whether somebody had entered the Chamber to steal those chairs, we need an explanation. Thank you.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Deputy Minority Leader raised an issue about the Earmarked Funds and the capping and the fact that, that ought to be done before we can do the formulae for the Statutory Funds; that is very much welcoming. And this is to also inform the House that, there would be an addendum to our Order Paper and on that addendum, after the second reading of the Bill, we would take the consideration of that Bill. So, we would still work within the time frame before the formulae for the Statutory funds would be taken. Mr Speaker, again, the Hon Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation raised an issue on the Committee of the Whole sitting, saying that, it would be better we do it on Tuesday. This is just to reassure him that, in the Business Statement of the House, it was not captured that we would do that on Monday. It is captured that we would do that on Tuesday and so his worry is well taken care of. Mr Speaker, on the security of Members of Parliament, in the light of concerns that have been raised by the Hon Member for Effutu is well noted. Many of us also share similar sentiments that, the security within the premises of Parliament ought to be tightened up, so that, we all feel secured as we carry out our business in the House.
There have been some major improvements from the previous Session and there are now security checkpoints at various areas and we have a Police post also there. But I very much agree that indeed, there is more that we ought to do especially, around our coffee or tea area. People just troop in left, right and centre. Leadership has taken note of those concerns and we would work together with the Whips to ensure that, security is tightened. Mr Speaker, the Hon Member for North Tongu, also raised an issue on Statements and referred to the incident that occurred in Kintampo. Mr Speaker, if you look in the Business Statement that was presented, we made room for the fact that, if need be, and you consider it urgent, we could take Urgent Questions. So, that scenario where Hon Members of Parliament who are victims of these incidents in their constituencies would have the opportunity next week to file Urgent Questions. If Mr Speaker so admits, we could take those Questions. Again, Hon Quashigah said that, he had filed an Urgent Question for so many weeks now but it has not seen the light yet -- I do not want to commit the same error he did -- or has not caught Mr Speaker's eye yet. Admissibility of Questions is also the sole prerogative of Mr Speaker. So, we would work with the Clerks-at- the-Table and make sure that, next week, we see if we could take that Question.
Just go on, Hon Member.
He raised the issue about the ECOWAS Parliament in the Business Statement of last week or two. The Hon Majority Leader assured the House that, Leadership would take care of that matter and, indeed, we are doing so, Hon Members would be made aware of the outcome of the decision of Leadership that would come out. I thank you very much, Mr Speaker.
Thank you very much, Hon Deputy Majority Leader. Indeed, the nature of any Question, urgent or not, is also looked at in tandem with matters being handled by the House at any particular time. That should be well noted. Hon Members, the Business Statement, as presented, is hereby adopted. Hon Members, item numbered 4 on the Order Paper -- Questions. The Hon Minister for Roads and Highways is in the House to Answer a couple of Questions. Once more, may I state that, in view of the volume of Business before the House and since these Questions are Constituency specific, there would be no supplementary questions from other Hon Members. Item numbered 4; Question starred 4 stands in the name of the Hon Member for Chereponi.
ORAL ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS
MINISTRY OF ROADS AND
Hon Minister, you may answer the Question.
Mr Speaker, Background The Sakpiegu-Chereponi-Yawgu is a 100 km road located in the Yendi Municipal, Saboba and Chereponi Districts of the Northern Region. It is a gravel road in fair to poor condition. Current programme The Sakpiegu-Chereponi-Yawgu road was awarded for upgrading to bituminous surface in two (2) phases on 5th July, 2016. Phase 1-- Upgrading of Sakpiegu- Chereponi-Yawgu (Km 0-50). The first phase, which is 50km from Sakpiegu to Bilaganado, was awarded on 5th July, 2016 for completion in thirty-six (36) calender months. The Contract commenced on 15th August, 2016 and is expected to be completed by 14th August, 2019. The Contractor has executed 13km of the works up to formation level. Currently, the contractor's plant and equipment are on site but the site is not active. The Contractor has been instructed to move back to site. Phase 2-- Upgrading of Sakpiegu- Chereponi -Yawgu (50km-100km) The second phase of the project which is 50km starts from Bilaganado to Yawgu. It was awarded on 5th July, 2016 for completion in thirty-six (36) calendar months and it is expected to be completed on 23rd November, 2019. The Contractor is yet to mobilise to site and commence the works. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, I thank the Hon Minister for his response. But I would just want to also seek some further clarification. I would wish to find out from the Hon Minister the total contract sum involved, and who the contractors are -- [Interruption] -- and if the two contracts are supposed to go on concurrently.
Mr Speaker, as I indicated in the Answer, the total length of the project is 100 km, but it has been awarded to two different contractors who are undertaking the execution of the project simultaneously. The contract sum for the first 50km is GH¢120,137,164.14. It would be paid from the Road Fund and the contractors executing the project are Messrs. Greenhouse International Development (GH.) Ltd. The second half of the project is also being paid out of the Road Fund and the contract sum is GH115,234,080.86. It is also being undertaken by Messrs. Casmeda Ventures Limited. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, in answering the Question, the Hon Minister stated that, 13 km of the works is up to formation level. I would wish to find out from the Hon Minister what he means by formation level.
Mr Speaker, formation level can be described as a technical word in road construction. That is the first stage in any road construction when the surface is being prepared. After
Question numbered 5 stands in the name of the Hon Member for Ayawaso North -- Mr Yussif Issaka Jajah. Nima/Mamobi Storm Drain (Completion) *5. Mr Yussif Issaka Jajah asked the Minister for Roads and Highways when the construction of the Nima/Mamobi storm drain would be completed.
Mr Speaker, Background The Nima/Mamobi storm drain falls within the Greater Accra Region under the jurisdiction of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (A.M.A.). It is within the following catchment areas: Airport residential; 37 Military Hospital; Kanda ; Mamobi ; Nima/Ayawaso East; Asylum Down ; Circle and its environs. The storm drain which is made up of lined (concrete) and unlined (earth) sections stretches from the Airport Residential Area, through Kawukudi, Nima/Mamobi, across the Kanda Highway, Ring Road Central (Bus Stop Restaurant), Asylum Down (Christian Methodist School), Circle Pedestrian Mall and empties into the Odaw Stream. The essence of the construction of the channel is to address: The perennial flooding and associated loss of life and properties and the provision of access to the communities. The storm drain is of rectangular shape and size 5m wide by 2.5m deep and of length 1km. The scope of works is as follows: 1. Total length of storm drain is 1000m (1km); 2. Backfilling; 3. Interconnection of adjoining drains; 4. Connection to the Kanda Highway culvert; and 5. Provision of parallel access roads along the storm drain to open up the community. Current programme The Contractor has completed 950 m of the storm drain. He is currently on site to complete the remaining works. It is expected that, work would be completed by October, 2017 as originally scheduled.
Mr Speaker, I would like to know from the Hon Minister, what has really stalled the work?
Mr Speaker, what has stalled the work is the arrangement of some funds to the contractor to move on to the site and everything is on course and work would resume pretty soon and it would be ongoing. I could assure the Hon Member.
Hon Member, your last question if any.
Mr Speaker, I would like to know from the Hon Minister if the completion of the work would require additional funding? If yes, how much?
Mr Speaker, I have mentioned that the contract sum for the work is about GH¢42,573,107.83 and there is no expectation that there would be any variation order to this project. So, up to completion, the contract sum, as it stands now, would be mentioned and we do not anticipate any variations to the project.
Thank you very much Hon Minister. That brings us to the end of the Questions slated. Hon Minister, thank you very much for attending to the House and answering Questions put before you. Hon Members, item numbered 5 -- Statements. We have a Statement to commemorate World Tuberculosis Day which stands in the name of the Hon Bedzrah and Hon Matthew Opoku Prempeh. Both Hon Members of the Parliamentary Caucus against TB and HIV/AIDS.
Thank you Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to make a Statement in commemoration of World Tuberculosis (TB) Day. This year's World TB Day slogan is, leave no one behind, and the theme is “Unite to End TB”. The world is commemorating this day 130 years after the discovery of the TB germ. TB disease is caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The bacteria usually attack the lungs, but TB bacteria can attack any part of the body such as the kidney, spine, and brain. If not treated properly, TB disease is ultimately fatal. It was not named “The Captain of Death” for nothing in the 17th Century. TB is fighting back to regain its unenviable position as a killer machine as a result of inadequate attention paid to it. A recent Global Report (2015) released by the World Health Organisation (WHO) shows that TB has over taken HIV/AIDS as the number one infectious killer disease in the world. Mr Speaker, disease riddled lungs cannot support active productive life. One needs to take in air for every activity one does in life. The more productive workforce is commonly affected, in Ghana. Sixty -70 per cent of TB cases reported are between the age bracket of 25-49 years. People within this age group are sexually active, and pose a threat of the dual infection of TB/ HIV, with potential to destroy the country. This is frightening, unless we act now.
Thank you very much. We may take a contribution from each Side. Is there any contribution from Leadership? Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, this is a commemorative Statement and I believe that, the content of the Statement is reflective of the general mood of the House. Mr Speaker, given the tall order of business for today I would plead that we assume that the Statement made is reflective of the sentiments in the House and then move on to other business.
Hon Members, let us have a contribution from each Side and then bring an end to it. Hon Member?
Mr Speaker, thank you for giving me the opportunity to make a comment on the Statement made by the Hon Member on the World TB Day. Indeed, I rise to thank the Hon Member who made the Statement on this particular and very important day. TB is a disease that affects all of us because, those with the disease spread it to those of us who are healthy, therefore, the need for more public education on TB. Mr Speaker, indeed, the burden of TB is about four times higher than we know, and it is complicated by the fact that, as a country, we are dealing with the challenge of drug resistance to the bacteria, and this is adding more cost to the country. Therefore, we need to educate the public that, TB is curable and that anybody with a cough of a duration of at least two weeks is encouraged to visit the nearest health facility, where he or she would be investigated, and if diagnosed with TB, then treatment would be started very early. The challenge at the health facilities is that, those with TB report very late and once one reports very late, then, the complications would have already set in and it would normally be difficult to save the lives of these patients. Mr Speaker, so, I would add my voice to the Hon Member who made the Statement and say that, we should see it as a national duty and educate members of the public to take TB seriously and report to health facilities early, so that we could handle this disease. Mr Speaker, thank you.
Hon Member -- that would be the last one.
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to contribute to the Statement on the floor. Mr Speaker, without doubt, Tuberculosis is one of the most difficult diseases that has confronted the developing world, and the burden has been increased with the coming of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). Hitherto, people who used to not suffer from TB are now getting a lot of problems from TB because of underlying HIV infections. Mr Speaker, because of technology, the invention of the Gene Xpert technology has now enabled cases which were hidden from other diagnostic tools, to be revealed now. Unfortunately, this technology is not very common in the country. So, that anybody with this condition would be caught so that we could treat them. Unfortunately, not all districts in Ghana have this technology. Mr Speaker, secondly, the use of digital x-ray machines has also contributed a lot in revealing cases of tuberculosis. Here too, not all hospitals in Ghana have this digital x-ray machines. So, it would be very encouraging if steps are taken to ensure
that these two facilities are made available to, at least, every district hospital in the country. Mr Speaker, the other challenge is the financial challenges facing the National Tuberculosis Programme as regards the purchase of the anti-Tuberculosis medications. Because of the fact that Ghana has now attained a lower middle- income status, Global Funders is gradually reducing their funding support for the National Tuberculosis Programme. So, as a country, we have to increase our funding support for the National Tuberculosis Programme. If not, we would not be able to meet all our demands for our Tuberculosis patients in the country. If we are not able to treat them, they would go get resistant strains, and it would create more problems for the country. Mr Speaker, it is my hope that, as a country, we would take this as a challenge and be able to make resources available, so that, we can save all tuberculosis patients in the country and also ensure that, Tuberculosis is done away with in the country. Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity.
Thank you very much. That brings us to the end of Statements. Hon Members, at the Commencement of Public Business. Hon Majority Leader, shall we have some guidance on which Papers are ready and how we would approach the presentations of Papers and subsequent matters?
Mr Speaker, if we could take item numbered 6 on the Order Paper, which is Papers to be presented. Mr Speaker, with your permission, item numbered 6(a) (i).
Very well. Item 6(a) (i), Hon Majority Leader?
Item 6 (a) (ii)?
Mr Speaker, item numbered 6(a) (ii) is not ready yet.
Hon Majority Leader, indicate what is ready.
Mr Speaker, item 6 (a) (iii); the Estimates of the Judicial Service and the Judiciary is ready. So that one could be laid.
Hon Majority Leader, now, we want to know which ones are ready. Please, is item 6(a) (i) and 6(a) (ii) ready? [Pause.]
Mr Speaker, I guess we could do the laying for all the three items, that is; 6(a) (i), 6(a) (ii) and 6(a) (iii).
Are you laying all the three items?
Mr Speaker, I have done the laying for item 6(a) (i). So, I now lay the Paper on the estimates for Parliament and the Parliamentary Service. So, I do so now. By the Majority Leader and Minister for Parliamentary Affairs -- (ii) Annual Budget Estimates of Parliament and the Parliamentary Service for the year 2017. (iii)Annual Budget Estimates of the Judicial Service and the Judiciary for the year 2017. Referred to the Special Budget Committee.
Hon Majority Leader, which other items? Items 6 (b), (c), (d) or whichever is ready.
Mr Speaker, item 6(b) is ready. By the Chairman of the Committee -- Report of the Committee on Roads and Transport on the Annual Budget Estimates of the Ministry of Railways Development for the year ending 31st December, 2017.
Item 6(c) (i) --
Mr Speaker, item 6(c), (d) and (e) are not ready, but (f) (ii) is ready. By the Chairman of the Committee -- (ii) Report of the Finance Committee on the Annual Budget Estimates of the Ghana Revenue Authority for the year ending 31st December, 2017. (iii) Report of the Finance Committee on the Annual Budget Estimates of Other Government Obligations for the year ending 31st December, 2017.
Item 6 (g) (i)?
Mr Speaker, let us move to item numbered (h) on page 4.
Item numbered (h) -- Chairman of the Committee? By Mr Moses Anim (on behalf of the Chairman of the Committee) -- Report of the Joint Committee on Lands and Forestry and Mines & Energy on the Annual Budget Estimates of the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources for the year ending 31st December, 2017.
Yes, Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, item numbered 6(i) (ii).
Item numbered 6(i) (i) is not ready?
Mr Speaker, item number 6(i) (i) is not ready, but (ii) --
Item numbered 6 (i) (ii)? Hon Chairman of the Committee of Works and Housing? By the Chairman of the Committee -- Report of the Committee on Works and Housing on the Annual Budget Estimates of the Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources for the year ending 31st December, 2017.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Chairman of the Committee on Works and Housing has indicated to me that, item (i) under (i) is also ready, so that could be laid as well.
Item numbered 6(i) (i)?
BILLS -- SECOND READING
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that the Earmarked Funds Capping and Realignment Bill, 2017, be now read a Second time. Mr Speaker, I wish to use this opportunity to thank you, the Leadership and Hon Members of the House for the tremendous effort to deal with the businesses related to the approval of the 2017 Budget Statement. Mr Speaker, dedicating large prede- termined percentages of tax revenue for predetermined future uses create rigidity and credibility problems for budget implementation. For example, in 2016, 14 earmarked funds took up to 32.9 per cent of tax revenue up from 28.2 per cent in 2015. This rigid dedication of tax revenue means that Government's ability to shift public spending from one expenditure line to another is hindered even where current exigencies require Government to do so.
Mr Speaker, we can take item numbered 7 on page 4 of the Order Paper.
Item numbered 7 -- Motion. Hon Minister for Finance?
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that notwithstanding the provisions of Standing Order 80(1) which require that no Motion shall be debated until at least forty-eight hours have elapsed between the date on which notice of the Motion is given and the date on which the Motion is moved, the Motion for the second reading of the Earmarked Funds Capping and Realignment Bill, 2017 may be moved today.
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion. Question put and Motion agreed to. Resolved accordingly. Minister for Finance (Mr Ken Ofori- Atta) Consequently, it has become difficult to use public spending as an instrument to respond adequately to changing public needs.
Mr Speaker, I am aware that, the Bill was laid in this House last week. The Report of the Committee, which is supposed to provide further illumination, I am being told, was distributed not too long ago. Mr Speaker, the application was made because the Hon Minister for Finance, who unfortunately still does not have deputies, is required to be in the office to attend to other equally pressing assignments. That is why we thought we could do it now. But if Hon Members insist that they require time to peruse the Report, as I said, it is still in order. So we can allow for the House to deal with the Motion captured as item numbered 9, on the Order Paper while Hon Members read it. This is so that when we finish with that Business, we can come back and apply ourselves to it.
Hon Members, Order! Definitely, if the other Side wants time, Hon Members may as well stop the comments so that we can make progress. The Hon Minister for Roads and Highways may move the Motion numbered 9 on the Order Paper. ANNUAL ESTIMATES, 2017 Ministry of Roads and Highways
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that this honourable House approves the sum of GH¢871,222,971 for the services of the Ministry of Roads and Highways for the year ending 31st December, 2017. Mr Speaker, this amount is made up of the following, as listed; Compensation of employees; GH¢ 39,784,995, Goods and Services; GH¢ 1, 5000, Assets from the Consolidated Fund; GH¢ 230 million, Assets ABFA allocation; GH¢ 187,255,173, assets (external); GH¢ 408,529,328, Internally Generated Fund (IGF); GH¢ 4,153,475, all totalling, GH¢ 871,222,971. Mr Speaker, I so move.
Thank you very much, Hon Minister.
Mr Speaker, I rise to second the Motion, and in doing so, present your Committee's Report.
Works are currently on-going to construct additional lanes at the Tema Roundabout as slip road to improve capacity or ease traffic congestion during the Accra-Tema Motorway expansion project. Monitoring and evaluation During the 2016 Fiscal year, the Ministry, undertook monitoring of 231 road projects in eight regions and agencies. The agencies were asked to respond to key findings of the monitoring exercise. This exercise is necessary to help improve their performance. Financial Performance of the Road Sector in 2016 TABLE 1: MDA Summary of disbursement of approved budget as at December 2016 SPACE FOR FINANCIAL PERFORMANCE TABLE 1 - PAGE 7 - Table 1 shows how the Ministry utilised its budget for the year 2016 Outlook for 2017 The Ministry, to execute its program of activities for the year, was given an amount of GH¢871, 222,971. The amount is to be used to enhance the activities of the Ministry through the following programmes: i. Management and administration ii. Road and bridge construction iii. Road rehabilitation and mainte- nance iv. Road safety and environment Management and administration In 2017, the effectiveness and efficiency of the performance delivery of the sector would be improved. To help achieve this, 82 technical staff and 75 non- technical staff would be recruited or replaced. Additionally, 326 technical staff and 206 non-technical staff would be trained in different disciplines. An amount of GH¢408,801,981.00 has therefore been allocated to cover this exercise, among others. Road and bridge construction In 2017 fiscal year, 195km of trunk roads and 25km of urban roads would be constructed and those on-going would be continued. In addition to that, three, ten and two bridges on the trunk, feeder and urban road network respectively would be constructed and also undertake 10 engineering studies. An amount of Gh¢300, 180,272.00 has been earmarked for these purposes. Road rehabilitation and maintenance The Ministry and its agencies hope to undertake 11,900km, 22,950km and 10,200km of routine maintenance activities (grading, pothole patching, shoulder maintenance, vegetation control) on trunk, feeder and urban road networks respectively. Periodic maintenance activities (spot improvement, re-gravelling, resealing, asphaltic overlay, partial reconstruction, and maintenance of bridges) would be undertaken on 350km, 300km, and 350km on trunk, feeder and urban roads respectively. Minor rehabilitation works would be done on 60km of trunk roads, 350km of feeder roads and 100km of urban roads would also be undertaken. Under this programme, a total amount of GH¢151,736,449.0 has been allotted. This excludes an amount from the Ghana Road Fund. Road safety and environment The Ministry and its agencies would install and maintain 20 and 360 traffic signals respectively, and also put in place corrective measures to 60 road safety hazard sites throughout the country. Overloading of vehicles will also be kept below 10 per cent of total vehicles weighed at all weigh station.
Table 2: Planned budget for 2017 against approved ceiling SPACE FOR TABLE 2 - PAGE 10 - 11.55 A.M. SPACE FOR TABLE 3 - PAGE 11 - It is deduced from the Table 2 that only 14.6 per of the planned budget of the Ministry was accepted by the Ministry of Finance. TABLE 3: Comparison of approved budget for 2016 with 2017 ceilings
SPACE FOR TABLE 4 - PAGE 12 - It was observed at the meeting with the Ministry and its agencies that an amount of GH¢34,316,471.00, the sub-total GoG for the Ministry, an amount of GH¢5,779,509.00 is allotted to Koforidua Training Centre. Challenges and constraints The Committee noted that, all the three agencies of the Ministry were challenged in terms of their ability to raise enough revenue from other sources to support road maintenance programmes. Low and untimely release of funds for Goods and Services have been hampering the preparation, supervision and monitoring of projects by the Ministry and it's implementing agencies. In addition, payment of allowances are unduly delayed, resulting in low morale of work. The long delays in honouring payment of work done by contractors severely affect projects cashflow resulting in poor physical progress at various project sites. As a result of the undue delay in payments, interest accruing on such payment delays are huge and increasing daily. Observations and recommendations The Committee noted the priority areas of the sector Ministry and its agencies for 2017 fiscal year. They are compensation payments for development partner projects, government of Ghana component for development partner projects, payment for supervision or consultancy services, payment for on- going works before new projects are brought on board. The Committee agreed with these priorities set up by the Ministry and viewed them as means to ensure smooth running of donor funded/assisted road and bridge projects and also limiting awards of new projects to allow for early completion of on-going ones. The Committee observed a zero per cent disbursement of Goods and Services for the Ghana Highway Authority, during 2016 fiscal year, a trend that the agency confirmed had been the norm for some years now. The budgetary allocation of Goods and Services has been woefully inadequate and the least disbursed in spite of the important role this amount plays in the operation of the agency with regard to supervision of projects, maintenance of project vehicles, payment of allowances to workers, payment of utility bills, among others. Indeed, all the agencies, including the Ministry, are affected by the low budgetary allocation and poor disburse- ment amounts and the Committee recommends the House to urge the Ministry of Finance to improve the allocation for Goods and Services and subsequent disbursements. The Ministry of Finance issues commencement certificate prior to the start of major upgrading, rehabilitation and construction projects, that is, after the Ministry of Roads and Highways has selected and approved of a contractor. However, three (3) conditions in the certificate are of much concern to the Ministry of Roads and Highways and its agencies. These are that, the employer shall not; a. provide for advance mobilisation loan; b. pay interest on payments that have been delayed; and c. pay fluctuation on changes in prices of commodities over the base month of projects. The Committee recommends to the House to urge the Ministry of Finance to have another look at these conditions, especially, that of (b) and (c) where the FIDIC Conditions of Contract governing these contracts provide for such payments, especially for projects already awarded. Otherwise, the Ministries of Finance and Roads and Highways should collaborate and change or amend such portions of the conditions of contract before tendering of road and bridge projects. Conclusion The pivotal role played by the road sector is known to all. Therefore, for the Ministry of Roads and Highways to realise its objectives and mission, the Committee urges the House to adopt this Report and approve the sum of eight hundred and seventy one million, two hundred and twenty two thousand, nine hundred and seventy one Ghana cedis (GH¢871,222,971) for the activities of the Ministry of Roads and Highways for the 2017 financial year. Respectfully submitted, Question proposed.
Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to contribute to the Motion numbered 9 on today's Order Paper, which is to approve the sum of GH¢ 871,222,971 for the Ministry of Roads and Highways, for the period ending 31st December, 2017. Mr Speaker, the Hon Chairman has already given an overview of what is in the Report.
In the previous Parliament, the Committee noticed the planned work on the road sector which were not completed because of lack of funds. So this honourable House took a very bold decision in the last Parliament, to increase the Road Fund Levy. The result of it was that, instead of the Road Fund accruing just about GH¢ 200 million, it accrued over GH¢1.1 billion last year. Mr Speaker, this provides a bigger pocket of resource that can go into our road sector. We are aware that, the President's vision is to invest more in roads, but this Budget does not tell us how it would be done. If we check the Budget, we would notice that, over GH¢ 400 million goes into Compensation, and only about GH¢300 million goes into the real work of road construction. Mr Speaker, this does not give me hope that we would see any significant improvement on our roads. We are aware of the many road projects that are in the pipeline, or which have been started, which needed to be completed. In the course of the year, when the opportunity comes for donor funding for some of the sectors, we would want to urge the Hon Minister for Finance to seriously consider and allow the Ministry of Roads and Highways to be one of those Ministries which would benefit from the donor funds. Mr Speaker, the other troubling thing is the new trend that the Hon Finance Minister has introduced. They call it capping, but I would call it decapitation. This is in the sense that, the Minister for Finance basically tries to stop agencies that are capable of generating their own resources, to improve the work they do. Mr Speaker, these moneys were collected by these Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) which they could use, but the attempt is rather to tell them they could use only a little portion of it and give the Hon Minister for Finance the rest of the money, so that he would tell them what to do with the remaining money. This cuts across all the MDAs, and I believe it is a very dangerous thing. Mr Speaker, it would not motivate these MDAs to collect as much as they ought to collect, because if they were utilising or re-applying much of these moneys to their own operations, I believe the motivation would have been there for them to collect more. Mr Speaker, they have now become another version of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), that is, they collect the money, and then the Hon Minister for Finance would have to tell them what to do with the money. I believe this is not very good for the road sector. Mr Speaker, I would want the Hon Minister for Finance to seriously consider the proposition that the Hon Chairman talked about, which say that, when we give new contracts, the employer shall not provide advanced mobilisation loan. Mr Speaker, this simply means that, we cannot build enough local capacity because, assuming we want to help a young man to set up a road construction company in this country and he cannot access a loan facility from the Ghana Commercial Bank because of the interest rate, and the Government also says that it cannot support him to do that. According to this Report, it means that, the big construction companies would continue to grow and it would be difficult for us to start and nurture new ones. Mr Speaker, there is also the issue of not being able to pay interest on the delayed payment and this would lead to an illegality. Assuming a company gets a project and then it goes to a commercial bank to access capital to do the work and Government fails to pay them for three years, we are basically saying that, this young entrepreneur has no right to charge us interest on delayed payment. Even the Hon Minister for Finance does invest in some things in this country and charges interest on them -- not as a person, but as the Minister for Finance. So, there is no reason interest should not be paid on delayed payments from the angle of Government. That is a wrong thing to do. They should consider it. The other one is to say to contractors to basically not work in full stream. Mr Speaker, some of the agencies under the Ministry of Roads and Highways recently met some contractors and told them that, though they have a project which says that, for instance, build a new road of 50 kilometres and seal it, they have gone to tell some of those companies that they cannot do that. The Ministry would rescope so they would tell the contractors how much of the work they should do. Mr Speaker, that would eventually lead to a higher cost of the project because assuming the contractor has gone to mobilise, and bought equipment and other things and he is ready to do a full scale work and complete the work within a schedule, what the Ministry is doing right now is to tell them not to complete all the works because the Hon Minister for Finance would want to control how much money he can disburse at a particular point in time. That would not lead to the vision of the President, which is to make sure that the Ghanaian entrepreneur grows.
Mr Speaker, one of the longest road projects in this country is the Eastern Corridor Road which -- [Interruption.]
Hon Members, an Hon Member is also entitled to make comments, suggestions and references clearer, which he thinks would enrich the execution. This is an opinion. Hon Member, please proceed.
Mr Speaker, one of the biggest road projects in this country is the Eastern Corridor Road. This is because it spans from Tema through five regions all the way through to Paga. Mr Speaker, this road project could be as long as 1,000 kilometres. It is in different segments. I cannot see how the amount of GH¢300 million, which is what is meant for road projects in this country, would make any significant progress on that particular road project. So I urge the Hon Minister for Finance to reconsider freeing the Ministry of Roads and Highways to utilise more of their internally generated funds so that, they can reapply some of it to the project.
And in conclusion?
In conclusion, I support this Motion, but this particular budget for the Ministry of Roads and Highways has no seeds planted, which would grow the roads in this country. It would stifle entrepreneurship and I have no hope that, the roads in this country would be constructed or would be better off under this particular Government. Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity.
Mr Speaker, I rise to support the Motion that this Honourable House adopts and also approves the sum of GH¢871,222,971 for the services of the Ministry of Roads and Highways for the year ending 31st December, 2017. Mr Speaker, in line with the Ministry's mission to ensure a sustainable transport sector responsible for the needs of our people, there is the need to pay special attention to this critical sector. Mr Speaker, having gone through the Report, I realised that, the planned budget for the Ministry is GH¢5,975,928,630, but when it was presented to the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry accepted only 14 per cent of the planned budget which is GH¢871,222,971. Even though the expenditure allocation to the Ministry by this current Govern- ment far exceeds that of the previous one, Mr Speaker, I believe there is more room for improvement, since this particular Ministry, when it is well resourced, would go a long way to improve the economy and also the lot of our people. Mr Speaker, with these few words, I urge the House to adopt the Report of the Committee on Roads and Transport of the 2017 Annual Budget Estimates of the Ministry of Roads and Highways. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Hon Member, at this stage, give your views and --
Mr Speaker, I find an amount of GH¢400 million for the purposes of management and administra- tion too high. Mr Speaker, I tried to draw a comparison to that of last year. Mr Speaker, I believe there is a problem with the classification because, it cannot be an amount of GH¢408 million for the purposes of management and administra- tion. Mr Speaker, “management and administration” simply means Compensa- tion and Goods and Services. This is a Ministry that does not have a huge workforce, so an amount of GH¢400 million for the purposes of Compensation and Goods and Services is too much. Mr Speaker, I try to draw a conclusion using the budget. In Appendix 4B on page 173 of the Budget, you would notice that, the amount for Goods and Services is GH¢38 million. Then we have Compensation of GH¢38 million; Goods and Services GH¢1.5 million, so I do not know where the Hon Chairman or the Committee got the amount of GH¢408 million from. Maybe the Committee has made a mistake. In fact, you would notice that, under donor fund”, the GH¢408 million there is not for administration; it is a loan that the Ministry is going to draw down, so they may have to look at it and correct the records, because an amount of GH¢408 million can never be for the purposes of management and administration. It is way too high. It cannot be the case and the Budget Statement does not support it, so it is important that we correct the record. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity. I rise to support the Motion on the Order Paper as captured as item numbered 9, that an amount of GH¢871,222,971, being the amount for the Ministry of Roads and Highways for the year ending 31st December, 2017 be approved by this House for --
The Hon First Deputy Speaker would take the Chair. Hon Member, continue. 12. 15 p.m. --
MR FIRST DEPUTY SPEAKER
Mr Speaker, on page 7, item numbered 6.1, the Ministry of Roads and Highways has a lot of technical challenges, and the major one among all the challenges is the inspection that is supposed to be done by the technical force, which would inspect the various roads under construction and advise the contractors accordingly. Mr Speaker, when we met the Ministry, they suggested that, they would engage eighty-two technical staff and seventy- five non-technical staff to assist in this operation. I would want to appeal to the Ministry of Finance to try as much as they can, to give them the financial clearance, so that they engage the services of the technical staff. Mr Speaker, we would see that previously, on many occasions when this request was made, they normally did not get the clearance from the Ministry of Finance for them to engage these staff, and this affects the operations of the Ministry. Mr Speaker, on page 9, item numbered 6.5, we can see clearly that the Ministry planned a budget of GH¢1.5 million and out of it— no, the planned budget was
Leadership, I am advised that two people have spoken from each Side of the House, so I was going to invite the Hon Minister to wind- up. Very well, Hon Member from the other Side?
Thank you, Mr Speaker for this opportunity to contribute to the Motion on the Floor in respect of the Budget Estimates for the Ministry of Roads and Highways, and I rise to support that the Estimates be approved. Mr Speaker, in commenting further, I realise that, this Budget Statement does not make provision for new roads. The existing road network stands as it is. So what the Budget Statement seeks to do is to provide for maintenance and rehabilitation. It is also worrying, while I give my support, I want to comment that, cocoa roads, which have been a major support to roads in this country, never got mentioned in the Budget Statement. Cocoa roads form part of the road network, but this Budget Statement does not show any hope for cocoa roads; it is worrying, and it is my expectation that, it would be considered going forward. Cocoa is still my concern, and my expectation also was that, new roads would have been created in the rural areas where we get our cocoa; but critically, we did not hear anything about that. So it must be considered. Mr Speaker, even though cocoa roads have not been considered, and we are not going to create new roads, the reasonable support in terms of the Estimates have been given, and I support that, the amount that has been approved for them be given to them accordingly. Thank you.
Hon Minister, kindly wind-up?
Hon Minority Leader, I have just granted you leave to let your former Hon Deputy Minister speak to the matter.
Mr Speaker, if you do not mind, I would be very brief; but I would want to contribute to the sector Budget for the Ministry of Roads and Highways, if it is at your pleasure.
Mr Speaker, it is just to note, so that we play to win— at pre-Sitting, the understanding was that we have a maximum of three Hon Members from both Sides of the House, then Leadership, together with the Hon Minister can wind- up so that we can take as many Motions as possible. Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to associate with the Motion for the adoption of the 2017 Annual Budget Estimates of the Ministry of Roads and Highways and the approval of GH¢871, 222,971.00 for the activities of the Ministry of Roads and Highways for the 2017 financial year. Mr Speaker, in doing so, I would draw our attention to page 13 of your Committee's Report in particular paragraph 8.3, and Mr Speaker, with your indulgence, I would like to quote: “The Ministry of Finance issues commencement certificate prior to the start of major upgrading, rehabilitation and construction projects, that is, after the Ministry of Roads and Highways has selected and approved of a contractor. However, three (3) Conditions in the Certificate are of much concern to the Ministry of Roads and Highways and its Agencies. These are that the Employer shall not a. Provide for advance for mobilisation loan b. Pay interest on payments that have been delayed, and c. Pay fluctuation on changes in prices of commodities over the base month of projects”. Mr Speaker, the Roads and Transport Committee must be seen to do a diligent work. What do they want to recommend to the Hon Minister for Finance? What is wrong with these three? If they have objections to it, they should say so and state it well. For instance, I assume that, part of the Committee's problem is how to pay interest on payments that have delayed. Good practice, Mr Speaker -- and I know now it would be the reality check. When we assure road contractors that, within 100 days they would be paid, within 100 days if they are not paid -- and I know in some instances, for one year, up to two years, contractors are not paid. Do they share the interest component of that loan with Government or not? For the Government that promises to be business-friendly, and the Government that promises to make the private sector competitive, the Committee on Roads and Transport says that they find these conditions, since I cannot quote your words, ‘unacceptable'. The conditions from the Ministry of Finance as captured in paragraph 8.3; “Provide for advance mobilisation loan”.
Hon Minority Leader, I believe if you read the paragraph just before that, it would better explain that: “…the employer shall not a. Provide for advance mobilisation loan b. Pay interest on payments that have been delayed, and c. Pay fluctuation on changes in prices of commodities over the base month of projects.” So the “shall not” is critical. That is the objection, I believe, they are raising.
Mr Speaker, I agree. That affects the private sector contractor, and that is inimical to the business growth of the private sector contractor. Are they suggesting to the Ministry of Finance, which I share, that this must not be made as part of the conditions of the commencement certificate that they issued? Like I said earlier, my difficulty is that, the Committee failed to provide clarity and I do not want to guess on this matter because they are very important. I know road contractors who have not been paid for over one year, yet they go to source money from the banks at 23 per cent to 25 per cent interest rate. It must be a shared responsibility with the Government so as to cushion the contractor who suffers and has suffered over the period as a result of delayed payments. It would continue to be the case. If we do not have fiscal space, we do not have it. Therefore, contractors would await payments for much longer periods. Mr Speaker, may I also respectfully take you to page 7 of your Committee's Report, paragraph 6.0. Our attention was drawn by the Hon Ranking Member of the Finance Committee, Hon Forson. If we look at paragraph 6.0, Management and Administration -- GH¢408,801,910.00, compared to Road and Bridge Construction -- GH¢300,180,272.00; why? So Management and Administration would consume all the money. What we need are roads. It is an investment and infrastructure Ministry, so the money should go into supporting investment in the road sector. Why would we have GH¢408,801,981.00 for Management and Administration? Mr Speaker, we find that problematic, and we are saying that the mix in terms of prioritisation does not give an indication that, Government wants to invest more in building road infrastructure. This money would go into Management and Administration. We ideally would prefer that this goes into road and bridge construction, or road rehabilitation and maintenance, which would receive GH¢151,736,449.00. Attention was drawn to the fact that, these are not the numbers in the Budget Statement that we approved. I have seen something with donor fund, which is GH¢408,273,184.00 and GH¢694,268,599.00. The Hon Chairman would need to provide further clarification on it. Mr Speaker, my final comments, as I promised to be brief, are on revenue from the Road Fund. I must emphasise that, it is not money from the Consolidated Fund, therefore, the Hon Minister for Finance must take a second look at his decapitation measure and wanting to decapitate and earmark the Road Fund. He can do that for all other sectors, but the Road Fund is not from the Consolidated Fund. We, in our wisdom as a country and as a people, decided that, we would dedicate road tolls and a percentage of petroleum revenue to support the Road Fund. I am told that, today, the Road Fund alone has arrears of GH¢506 million.
Who cause am?
It is the Old Tafo road which cause am. The road in Old Tafo, Kumasi and many other areas. Mr Speaker, my point is that, the Road Fund is not fed from the Consolidated Fund. Yes, the Road Fund is earmarked based on tolls, and a percentage of petroleum revenues go into the Road Fund. If for this year we have GH¢800 million coming into the Road Fund, which is what is assumed for 2017, we have GH¢506 million to clear in arrears. President Akufo-Addo has promised Ghanaian contractors that, he would pay them in 100 days. He is close to the 100 days; when he earmarks the Fund, contractors would not get paid. The contractors borrow to undertake the execution of the projects at unacceptably high interest rates, which we all need to work around as a country. Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister for Finance should take his hands off the Road Fund. That is the suggestion I am making very strongly to him. It does not affect his Consolidated Fund. If he cannot bring in tax instruments to raise more money, he should not go and encumber already existing funds and say that he wants to take Road Fund money and cap it. If he caps it, it means that for 2017, 2018 and 2019, we would have in the region of GH¢873,894,968 for those years. That would be less than one billion Ghana cedis from the Road Fund to support road projects. Mr Speaker, I borrow the word “suffering” from the New Patriotic Party's (NPP) Manifesto. “Ghanaians are suffering”, it is in their Manifesto. I am sharing in the suffering of road contractors, whom they promised to pay. Yes, it was created because they demanded that roads be constructed and maintained. All of them in their various constituencies, from Kwabenya through Madina, some roads were repaired and maintained. Some roads in the Tema area were constructed, and contracts were awarded under the Road Fund. Mr Speaker, I would support the approval of this sum of money, but with a strong recommendation to the Hon Minister for Finance to stay off the Road Fund and allow the Minister for Roads and Highways full utilisation of it. This is because it is inadequate for him, even to begin with. So he should not cap or de- cap it, but leave that for him.
Mr Speaker, just a few observations. First, as a matter of records, since the Hon Minority Leader alluded to the pre- Sitting that was done this morning, the Majority side of the House was not privy to any such pre-Sitting arrangement. If the Minority went and had some meeting with the Rt Hon Speaker and agreed on something then, we were not part of it. Mr Speaker, it is for the records, because every now and then, these things happen. I thought that, if Rt Hon Speaker should have a pre-Sitting with Leadership, he should involve the two Sides. They should not ambush the Rt Hon Speaker and then say that the meeting agreed on something. We were not part of that arrangement. The issue of the financial performance of the road sector should agitate the conscience of all of us in this House. In 2016, the Ministry of Roads and Highways was allocated GH¢624,624,197.00. Mr Speaker, at the end of the day, they overspent that amount by GH¢218,382,163, and that represented an over expenditure of 23 per cent -- a colossal amount. Mr Speaker, there should be discipline in that sector, that is why I am surprised that, the Hon Minority Leader urged the Hon Minister for Finance to steer off the affairs of the Ministry. It cannot be done, because he alluded to the Road Fund in particular. The Road Fund was expected to have an inflow of GH¢1.2 billion, yet beyond the GH¢1.2billion that the Hon Minister applied, a loan of another GH¢1.2billion was taken, which had not been paid. Beyond that, there had been a commitment to the tune of over nine billion, Ghana cedis which began in June, 2016 to December, 2016. The Hon Minority Leader urged that, we should ensure discipline in the use of amounts into that Fund. The Hon Minister for Finance cannot lift his hands.
On a point of order. Mr Speaker, I should not do this to the Hon Majority Leader, but once he has referenced me, he is obliged to be factual. I never used the word “discipline” in my submission. All I said was, “the Hon Minister for Finance should leave the Road Fund for the Hon Minister for Roads and Highways, and that it was not a source from the Consolidated Fund”. The Hon Majority Leader should proceed, but cautiously, without attributing the untruth to me.
Mr Speaker, I would want to believe that, the Hon Minority Leader did not even listen to what I said. I said that if an expected amount of GH¢1.2billion was what Parliament expected to trickle into that Fund and the Hon Minister committed the GH¢1.2 billion, took a loan of GH¢1.2 billion, which was not paid, thereafter made a commitment of over nine billion Ghana cedis against the Road Fund, that amounted to indiscipline. There should be discipline in the management of our finances. That was the point I made. I said the Hon Minister for Finance could not be allowed to steer off the affairs of the utilisation of the Road Fund. That was the point I made. Mr Speaker, I see the former Hon Minister for Roads and Highways being strongly urged by the former Hon Brong Ahafo Regional Minister to rise up. I would yield to him.
On a point of order. Mr Speaker, indeed, the Hon Majority Leader is a distinguished Hon Member of this House, and we listen when he speaks. But for him to use words that import some personal allusions is to infringe the express provisions of this House. Mr Speaker, the Road Fund is managed by a Board, and to say that the Board was “irresponsible” is to cast aspersions on the decisions of the members of the Board, some of whom are not here. The Hon Majority Leader -- even though in Parliament and this is a forum for debate, should be guided. When he was the former Hon Deputy Minority Leader, he fought against casting aspersions on people who were not in this House. I do not know what has changed. Mr Speaker, the Road Fund is regulated by a Board, which is constituted of members of high standing in the society. So he should be reminded not to cast aspersions on the personal integrity of those members by calling them “irresponsible”.
Hon Majority Leader, please continue.
Mr Speaker, the Road Fund is not any individual's fund. It is a Fund meant for use by this Republic. If an Act of Parliament provides for an expenditure not beyond a certain ceiling, but if a body goes beyond that, it is recklessness. [Interruption.] Mr Speaker, I said that it is indiscipline and the word “indiscipline” is even a mild usage. If Parliament fashions an Act, accented to by the President and a body breaches that Act, is that not indiscipline? Mr Speaker, the issue about the usage of amounts allocated for the construction of cocoa roads has also surfaced, and I believe this House ought to confront the reality. What should those amounts be spent on, or what projects and programmes should those amounts be spent on? Time and again, we have seen usage or the application of amounts on some Accra roads, which are not cocoa producing areas. We should emphasise the principles underpinning the usage of that amount. I believe this House should take a decision on that. Mr Speaker, the other matter that I would want to also speak to, is the cost of road construction in this country. Time and again, we have had cause to relate to this matter.
On a point of order. Mr Speaker, the Hon Majority Leader used the word “irresponsible”, and I thought that was a lesser emotive word. When his attention was called to casting aspersions on members of the Board by the use of such emotive words, he aggravated the word. All of us must be alive to our responsibilities as Hon Members of Parliament, to use decorous language in this House. Mr Speaker, I invite you to draw the attention of the Hon Majority Leader to the use of words that are decorous, and to ask him to withdraw the use of the word “recklessness” because we are debating the Estimates, and as the former Hon Minister for Road and Highways, I would not pitch myself against the Estimates. I would not. Mr Speaker, but I know that, four years would come, and in the four years, we would have arrears. In four years, I would be here, but I would not refer to the Hon Minister or whoever would be responsible then as being “reckless”. Mr Speaker, I would call on you to call the Hon Majority Leader to order for him to withdraw the use of the word “recklessness”. He apparently does not know how contracts in the road sector are done. Whatever be the case, the Hon Minister would record arrears at the end of the year, and he would not have been “reckless”.
Mr Speaker, my Hon Colleague knows that, whereas over-expenditure may amount to arrears, not every arrears is over-expenditure. I deliberately chose my words cautiously. I spoke to over-expenditure. Expenditure is backed by an Act of Parliament, and any breach of that is indiscipline. I fail to see what my Hon Colleague is challenging. I talked about over-expenditure —
Hon Majority Leader. I have heard you. I will now rule. Hon Members, I hoped that the Hon Member for Tamale Central was going to challenge the facts as put out by the Hon Majority Leader; that they borrowed US$ 9 billion against over US$ 1billion. If those facts are true as presented, then I believe the words, “financial indiscipline” are appropriate. It is not unbecoming or wrongly used. Hon Majority Leader, please continue.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, the last thing that I would want to speak to, is the cost of road construction in this country. I believe the Ministry should help all of us to come to some consensus on this. It cannot be that, in one year, the average cost of road construction is, maybe, about US$600,000 and it jumps to two times the cost just the following year; that is, US$1.2 million per kilometre of asphaltic road. It cannot be right. Mr Speaker, today, the cost of constructing double lane asphaltic roads in this country, is in the region of between, US$1.5 million and US$1.7 million — that was in 2016. Fancy the situation that it shoots to about US$2.5 million this year, then it should be scary to all of us. That is why since the days of my Colleague, Hon Joe Gidisu, I said we should assemble a team of experts and consultants to establish for ourselves benchmarks in the industry. Otherwise, we could have an Hon Minister for Roads and Highways who is a lawyer and not an engineer, and then we have, maybe, some Directors, Chief Directors, et cetera propose some cost. The Hon Minister would not be in any position to challenge those figures. I remember, we had an occasion to discuss this with the late Hon Edward Salia when he was the Hon Minister.
On a point of order. Mr Speaker, yourself, a good lawyer of good standing, coincidentally, the former Hon Minister for Roads and Highways and the incumbent Hon Ministers are lawyers of good standing. Mr Speaker, the Hon Majority Leader throws his hands and says, a Minister for Roads and Highways who is a lawyer and not an engineer. That is to impugn the judgement of lawyers. Yet lawyers are learned. He knows that when a contract is awarded this year, it can span three years, and cost of materials, including depreciation, would affect cost. Mr Speaker, I know he likes using the tools of lawyers, and so must be seen appreciating that both the former and the incumbent would exercise their best judgement, and not say that because they are lawyers and not engineers -- Mr Speaker, other than that, in the event that for instance, tomorrow, Mr Speaker decides to be Minister for Roads and Highways -- because you are a lawyer, he would question your standing. Mr Speaker, I do not intend to invite you into this matter.
I wish to observe that, lawyers are learned in the law and not in engineering.
Mr Speaker, the point I made, and the Hon Minority Leader took us on a different trajectory, is that they are also subjecting those contract sums to variation. He speaks about contracts spanning for three to four years. They would still vary at the end of the third year — the cost at the inception of the project.
Hon Majority Leader, please address the Chair.
Mr Speaker, he posed a question and I responded to him as an aside. Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister, and indeed the Ministry, need to assemble experts and consultants to furnish us with the reality of these times in order for us to make a judgement for ourselves.
Hon Majority Leader, please wind up. There are so many Motions ahead.
Mr Speaker, I said I was winding up on this matter. I insist that we need to do this, going forward as a nation. Otherwise, with the passage of time, there would be the cost escalation of projects undertaken by the Ministry of Roads and Highways and that cannot be acceptable. It would only be harmful to the finances of this country at the comfort of certain individuals in the Ministry, and that cannot be allowed to happen. Mr Speaker, I thank you for granting me space to make these few observations.
Hon Minister for Roads and Highways, would you like to wind up?
Mr Speaker, I would want to thank you most sincerely for this opportunity, and to thank all my Hon Colleagues for the varied comments and opinions that they have shared. Mr Speaker, my Ministry is not unmindful of the enormity of the problems that we carry, and the responsibility that we owe the people of this country. While admitting that every Ministry is key and important, I can say that, the Ministry of Roads and Highways is the fulcrum and the pivot around which the economic development of this country revolves. We shall, therefore, utilise every pesewa given to the Ministry so judiciously in order to benefit the people of this country. Mr Speaker, all the various comments made have been taken care of. We have a lot of challenges, but we are determined to prove equal to those challenges. I have a team of professionals that, individually and collectively, would move this nation forward. Mr Speaker, on this note, I would once again want to urge this honourable House to move that the amount asked for as specified in the Estimates, totalling GH¢871,222,971 for the Ministry of Roads and Highways for the year ending 31st December, 2017, be approved as expressed in the Motion. Question put and Motion agreed to.
Mr Speaker, there is a minor matter covered by the Report on page 7, under “Management and Administration”. The amount there is stated as GH¢408,801,981.00. It should not read as such. Mr Speaker, indeed, the amount, correctly stated, is supposed to be GH¢39,784,995.00. Mr Speaker, that indeed is captured in the Budget Statement and that is the reason I said it is minor. It is rather the Report that has gotten it wrong, so it should be corrected in the Report. Mr Speaker, because the figures on page 7 contain the donor money which is in the region of GH¢400 million, we should sanitise that. Alternatively, they could even delete that entirely.
Would that affect the total money to be appropriated?
No Mr Speaker.
As pointed out, it should be corrected on the record, and the Table Office should take note of the correction. The appropriation still stands. Question put and amendment agreed to. Resolved: That this Honourable House approves the sum of GH¢871,222,971 for the services of the Ministry of Roads and Highways for the year ending 31st December, 2017. Hon Majority Leader, we are in your hands -- what next?
Mr Speaker, for the Hon Minister for Finance to take the second reading as we purposed, we take item numbered 8 on page 5 of the Order Paper for today.
Item numbered 7 -- Hon Minister for Finance?
Mr Speaker, we have dealt with item numbered 7. We did the procedural Motion so we have come to item numbered 8.
Have we done the procedural one already?
Item numbered 8 on the Order Paper -- Minister for Finance?
BILLS -- SECOND READING
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that the Earmarked Funds Capping and Realignment Bill, 2017, be read a Second time. Mr Speaker, I wish to use this opportunity to thank you, the Leadership and Members of the House for the tremendous effort to deal with the businesses related to the approval of the 2017 Budget. Mr Speaker, dedicating large predetermined percentages of tax revenue for predetermined future uses creates rigidity and credibility problems for budget implemen- tation. For example, in 2016, 14 earmarked funds took up to 32.9 per cent of tax revenue, up from 28.2 per cent in 2015 and 25.2 per cent in 2014. This rigid dedication of tax revenue means that, government's ability to shift public spending from one expenditure line to another is hindered even where current exigencies require government to do so. Consequently, it has become difficult to use public spending as an instrument to respond adequately to changing public needs. Hitherto, these new proposals, the rigidities in our Budget implemen- tation was compounded by the fact that, the country's total revenue was consumed by three main budgetary lines: wages and salaries, interest and amortization, and earmarked funds. These three items alone accounted for about 107 per cent of government revenue in 2016. As a result, all other governmental activities outside the three budget lines had to be financed by borrowing or aid. You would all agree with me that, the persistent resort to borrowing for any additional expenditure to meet the aspirations of our people is not sustainable.
Hon Chairman of the Committee?
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion and in doing so, present the Finance Committee's Report on the Earmarked Funds Capping and Realignment Bill, 2017. Introduction The Earmarked Funds Capping and Realignment Bill, 2017, was presented to Parliament by the Minister for Finance, Hon Ken Ofori-Atta and read the First time on Tuesday 21st March, 2017. The Bill was subsequently referred to the Finance Committee for consideration and report in accordance with the 1992 Constitution and Order 169 of the Standing Orders of the House. The Hon Minister for Finance, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta and other officials from the Ministry of Finance, the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) and the Attorney General's Department attended upon and assisted the Committee in its deliberations on the Bill. The Committee is grateful to the Hon Minister and the officials from the Ministry of Finance, GRA and the Attorney-General's Department for their immense contributions. Urgency of the Bill The Committee determined and certified that, the Bill was of an urgent nature and must be taken through all the stages of passage in one day in accordance with article 106(13) of the Constitution, 1992 and Order 119 of the Standing Orders of the House. References The Committee referred to the following documents inter alia during its deliberations on the Bill: a. The Constitution of the Republic of Ghana, 1992. b. The Standing Orders of the Parliament of Ghana. c. Local Governance Act, 2016 (Act 936) d. Interpretation Act, 2009 (Act 792) Background Ghana has established various statutory and dedicated funds for purposes of funding certain specific sectors of the national economy. Over time, these funds have grown in number and economic significance. Government has determined that, dedicating predetermined percentages of tax revenue for predetermined uses, creates rigidity and credibility problems for budget implementation. For instance, in the year 2016, earmarked funds took up to 32.9 per cent of tax revenue, from 28.2 per cent in the year 2015 and 25.2 per cent in the year 2014. The rigid dedication of tax revenue to predetermined uses, means the ability of government to shift public spending from one expenditure line to another is severely hindered even where prevailing exigencies require government to do so. The impact of this rigidity is compounded by the fact that, currently, the country's total revenue is virtually consumed by three budgetary lines, which are wages and salaries, interest payments and amortisation, and earmarked funds. These three items alone were said to have accounted for 107 per cent of government revenue in the year 2016. As a result, all other government activities outside these three budget lines have to be financed by borrowing, a situation which is unsustainable. As part of efforts to deal with this rigidity in the system, government intends to cap Earmarked Funds as a percentage of total tax revenue by placing an obligation on the Minister responsible for Finance, to ensure that, Earmarked Funds for each year is equivalent to 25 per cent of total tax revenue. Purpose of the Bill The object of the Bill is to provide a cap for Earmarked Funds to ensure that the total of Earmarked Funds for each financial year is equivalent to twenty-five percent (25%) of tax revenue. The Bill is aimed at freeing up public resources by placing a cap on the specified Earmarked Funds to ensure that, tax revenue encumbered by those Funds as a result of allocations to them does not exceed 25 per cent of total tax revenue. The Bill also seeks to empower the Minister responsible for Finance, in consultation with the relevant Sector Ministers, to review the enactments under which the Earmarked Funds are established, and to make a determination as to whether or not a particular Earmarked Fund has outlived its usefulness and should cease to exist. Content of the Bill The Earmarked Funds Capping and Realignment Bill, 2017 is divided into eight (8) clauses and a Schedule. Clause 1 deals with the application of the Bill. The Bill applies to any Earmarked Fund and Internally Generated Fund (IGF) provided for in an enactment. Where a provision in an enactment relating to an Earmarked Fund or an IGF is inconsistent or conflicts with a provision of this Bill, this Bill shall prevail. Clause 2 provides that the object of the Bill is to free up public resources by placing a cap on the specified Earmarked Funds to ensure that tax revenue encumbered by those Funds is equivalent to twenty-five percent (25%) of total tax revenue. Clause 3 mandates the Minister responsible for Finance to ensure that allocations to Earmarked Funds in each year is 25 per cent of total tax revenue. In doing so, the Minister is obliged to comply with the provisions of article 252(2) of the 1992 Constitution relating to the District Assemblies' Common Fund. Clause 4 imposes an obligation on the Minister responsible for Finance to make allocation from capped Internally Generated Funds (IGFs) to relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies, based on their respective weights within the capped total IGF retention for each fiscal year. Clause 5 requires the Minister to realign revenue that is freed as a result of the capping of Earmarked Funds or consequent to an Act passed by Parliament in pursuance thereof into the national Budget. Clause 6 reviews enactments establishing earmarked funds and empowers the Minister to propose Bills in consultation with other relevant Ministers for the repeal of any enactment that establishes an Earmarked Fund where that Fund is determined to have outlived its usefulness. Clause 7 provides interpretation of the terms used in the Bill. Clause 8 repeals paragraphs (a), (b) and (d) of section 5(1) of the Ghana Infrastructure Fund Act, 2014 (Act 877) and provides that the amount earmarked for purpose of the repealed provisions be realigned into the national budget. The Bill finally provides a SCHEDULE which specifies the identified Earmarked Funds to be capped. Observations Need for Capping The Minister for Finance, Hon Ken Ofori-Atta informed the Committee that, the capping arrangement has become necessary due to the need to remove some of the rigidities in our public expenditure and development strategies. He explained that presently, the Government is left with virtually nothing after taking out interest payments, compensation of -- employees and earmarked funds, a situation which he said had resulted in the unwanted and unsustainable cycle of borrowing by government to fund any other important expenditure to meet the aspirations of the people. The Capping policy is thus geared towards ensuring that revenue from the various Earmarked Funds beyond the capped levels are realigned for use as general budget support in order to enable government to prioritize expenditure for each financial year based on the needs of the country and emerging public priorities. District Assemblies, Common Fund (DACF) The Committee was assured that, the requirement of the 1992 Constitution regarding the minimum 5 per cent national revenue for District Assemblies' Common Fund (DACF) would be religiously obeyed under this new capping arrangement. Additionally, the DACF would also be eligible for a top-up in any financial year depending on government priorities for that year. The technical team assured the committee that, the Ministry of Finance would comply with all Constitutional obligations in respect of revenue allocation or retention of Internally Generated Fund provided in the constitution. The Committee further noted that the capping arrangement would be operated in a manner that strictly complies with the requirements of any Fund or Retention provided for by the 1992 Constitution.
Hon Minister for --
Mr Speaker, as my Hon Colleague was speaking, I thought he was not in support of the principle. We are dealing with the principles now. Mr Speaker, for the past three to four years, the previous Government under which he worked talked about this problem of earmarking, that it is not, and I repeat that it is not good for Ghana. He could check the past three years' Budgets. The difference between this Budget and those of the previous years is that, somebody is being bold to take the initiative to do something that we agree is good for Ghana. So, I believe that in principle, my Hon Colleague does not have any problem with what is being done. Mr Speaker, if he reads the Bill, and with your permission, I would want to quote the last paragraph on page 1: “Further, growing budget rigidities imposed by earmarked funds threaten the credibility of our national budgets. In 2014, earmarked funds by law constituted about thirty-three per cent of total tax revenue,…”
“…but only twenty-five per cent was actually transferred…” Mr Speaker, I repeat that “thirty-three per cent … but only twenty-five per cent was transferred”.
Mr Speaker, I would like to find out from the Hon Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation, what he means by “chopping” and who and who “chopped” and from where they “chopped”?
Hon (Dr) Apaak, if you would stand up to interrupt proceedings, then you would be guided by the rules, Standing Order 93. So, please refer to it.
Mr Speaker, my good friend wants to remind us that, he used to be in-charge of the equivalent of monitoring and evaluation so, he knows what I am talking about. [Laughter.]-- He used to work at the Customs Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS) and he caught people “chopping” he knows what I am talking about. Mr Speaker, we know what happened last year, that some people gave our money that was meant for Sovereign World Funds to at least, two banks. The banks bought Treasury Bills at a certain rate say, 25 per cent and in return, they gave the GIIF 10 per cent. This has happened. That is the “chopping” I am talking about. This is money coming from
On a point of order. Mr Speaker, the Hon Colleague is misleading this House. I say this because, he is aware that the laws under the GIIF, allow them to make placement of any excess money that they have to any commercial bank. Mr Speaker, he also knows that, the seed money of the GIIF 250 million stayed at the Central Bank for over a year without yielding an interest. Mr Speaker, it was prudent at the time that at least, that amount be transferred to the GIIF for the purposes of at least, earning revenue. So, he should not stand here and say certain things that he is not aware of. He is grossly misleading this House and it is going on record and so, he should be careful what he says.
Mr Speaker, I am surprised that, he does not want to deal with the facts. I would want to ask him that he would go and collect taxpayers' money --
Hon Member, do not ask him.
Mr Speaker, no, I am contributing. I would want him to tell this House -- he goes to collect high taxpayers' money; 2.5 per cent VAT, and they give to him and he goes and give it to Bank “A” and Bank “A” places it and earns 25 per cent. Then Bank “A” turns round and gives him 5 per cent and he calls that prudent. Mr Speaker, even I who does not know any better would not invest that way.
Hon Member, proceed with the debate so that we go beyond this because we have a lot of work today.
Mr Speaker, when he was talking, we allowed him to flow. Mr Speaker, I would say a story -- when people were complaining about Bank “A” the bank said “why are they talking about us?” As for us, we are at least giving them 10 per cent but go and ask about Bank “B” who is giving them 5 per cent. Mr Speaker, this happened last year and he knows it. Mr Speaker, we are saying that it is commonsensical to collect our taxpayers' money, give it to the bank and they make 25 per cent and give us 10 per cent and you are arguing about it.
Hon Ato Forson?
Mr Speaker, for the records, the Ghana Infrastructural and Investment Fund (GIIF) never invested part of the Value Added Tax money. The GIIF never invested part of the 25 per cent from the annual budget funding amount that goes to them in any Treasury bill, government instrument or any bank. Mr Speaker, what the GIIF actually invested, was the Seed Fund and this Fund stayed at the Central Bank for over a year and it failed to yield any interest. So, it was after that time, that the GIIF actually requested Government of Ghana to transfer the money to them for the purposes of investment. Mr Speaker, so what he said, that that part of the VAT that was transferred to GIIF was used in a form of placement with a commercial bank is not correct so he should withdraw that. Mr Speaker, he should prove that for the records but if he cannot prove it, then he should withdraw. That is not the case.
Mr Speaker, look at the Hon Member asking me to withdraw? He has stated lots of facts without any record.
What is your record?
My record is my brain. [Laughter.]
Mr Speaker, that is where he is speaking from.
Please proceed with the debate. We have held on in this area for so long.
Mr Speaker, on a serious note -- Mr Speaker, when he was talking I allowed him to flow but when I get up then the Hon Minority Leader -- why?
Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The Hon Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation is on his feet and I was in the Transition Committee meetings when these matters were discussed with the new Hon Minister for Finance. Mr Speaker, but the Hon Colleague keeps using the word “people chopping” -- [Interruption] -- That is his definition but if he has evidence of people “chopping” then he should go ahead and prove it, but if he does not have then he should retract that aspect and make progress. Mr Speaker, but to say that, to have deposited money with a bank is synonymous to “chopping” I do not find that acceptable. Mr Speaker, we are particular about what your ruling would be. I know that, you have been invited to become a neurosurgical expert so the brain would soon be submitted at the Table Office as part of the record of this House, for you to conduct neurosurgery to understand what is in it. Mr Speaker, so, he could be right on moneys being deposited with banks but my objection is the “chopping”. Unless he has evidence he could proceed and prove who “chopped” what.
Mr Speaker, if it is the word “chopping” that he does not like then I would put it in a different way.
Are you Mr Speaker?
if the Hon Minority Leader has GH¢100 and he says that he wants to invest it and goes to put it in my bank, I take it and I place it for 25 per cent and I turn around and give him only 5 per cent, then, I would be “chopping.” That was what I meant by “chopping”. All we are saying is that, it is not prudent.
None Mr Speaker, I have rephrased the “chopping” -- I said that imprudent investments. Does he like that? Thank you. Mr Speaker, what he does not know is that this Government has a different view of the GIIF than theirs. There is a fundamental difference. We would use the GIIF as a vehicle to bring all the nation's assets together, so that we could use them as collateral. When we drive around this country we would wonder why we say that we are poor. We have assets all over and we would need to put them together, we do not need to give GIIF cash but use our assets as collateral to spend. That is called sensical investment not commonsensical. [Interruption] Who said that it is not there? The difference is that, it is there but they chose to ignore it and put the money in the bank. Mr Speaker, so he should take his time and if they are able to come back in the year 2050 then he could say that it is there -- if they are lucky. Mr Speaker, the point is that, earmarking does not make for fiscal prudence. The Hon Minister has flexibility to look at the cases, and where there may be serious problems and adjust. Mr Speaker, he said himself that, in doing so, we are able to re- programme about GH¢4 billion to GH¢5 billion for current priorities. That is the essence of it. We do not just permanently cross our hands and say that we are poor. We have done that for 60 years but we should move forward at 60 years and that is what this seeks to do. Mr Speaker, the good thing about this is that, every year -- [Interruptions]-- unfortunately, the Hon Minister is compelled to come back to this House to tell us the current priorities for us to admit or not to admit. That is a good fiscal policy and that is what the Hon Minister seeks to do. [Interruption] -- I said that he has to come back so that, this House could accept or reject the current priorities but he has to review them. So that, if he comes -- just for the purposes of argument -- to say that, as the representatives of the people, I believe that the issue of Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund) is no longer a priority. Then we should give ourselves the opportunity to debate that, but it does not exist right now and we pretend that we are going on. Mr Speaker, what is worse is, when we do not even pay what is legally due. That is the essence of it. Why were we not paying what was legally due? Mr Speaker, I would want to invite my Hon Colleague, the former Hon Deputy Minister, who has talked about this for the last four years, to praise this Hon Minister for being bold to bring it here for us to agree on. Mr Speaker, with these few words, I would urge my dear Hon Colleagues to support the Motion that we are debating now. Mr Speaker, I thank you.
Hon Minority Chief Whip?
Mr Speaker, thank you very much. I beg to speak to the Motion before us and to say that this is one of the saddest activities that Parliament is carrying out in its lifetime. Mr Speaker, with the greatest respect to our Hon Colleagues, what the Hon Minister for Finance intends to do is to push down more than 10 Acts or laws that this House has put in place with just a nine-paged document. That is all he has done. And what we are trying to do is to surrender the powers that has been given us by the Constitution of this country to the Minister for Finance. Mr Speaker, why am I saying this? If you look at the Report of the Committee and the intention and objective of what the Ministry of Finance intends to do by this Act, it is to simply say that, if this is passed and one goes to pick the National Health Insurance Acts, it would not be complete. If you go and pick the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund) Act, it is equally incomplete. All the other laws that we have done would become incomplete by virtue of just passing this Act. Mr Speaker, just as we took time to take them in turns if the Ministry of Finance believes that it is important -- On the issue the Hon Member for Old Tafo is asking whether we think the GETFund is no longer necessary, they should bring the Acts. They should bring the individual Acts so that we deal with the issues one after the other. But what we are doing is that, we have put all the good and bad in the basket and asking whether we accept or not, so that, whether one likes some part and does not like the other part, one basket is given him, and he would have to deal with it. Mr Speaker, I believe this is wrong. This is wrong because, even if one looks at the Committee's Report, where they say that they have been briefed and told that, the Constitutional mandate with regards to the District Assemblies' Common Fund Act and other laws would be followed religiously.
now we are arguing as to whether what the Constitution in Article 252(2) says is that, it is tax revenue or total revenue, creating room for the Minister for Finance to use his discretion to determine what to do. Mr Speaker, we cannot do this to ourselves. When we look at the expenditure and take the Committee's Report, repeatedly, it has been said that, it has carved out space and it is not giving Government space to be able to determine other public expenditures. Mr Speaker, what I keep asking is that, if the GETFund formula makes room for --
Hon Minority Chief Whip, I would want to find out from the Hon Fuseini what his objection is.
On a point of order. Mr Speaker, in fact, I need some direction from you. Mr Speaker, when the Hon Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation was speaking, the Hon Member for Ajumako/Enyan/ Essiam raised a point of order, challenging the facts. The Hon Minister said the facts were in his head. I thought this is fundamental to the proceedings of this House that when such a challenge is made, the logical conclusion is for the fact of the matter to be laid to be made available to this House. And when an Hon Member responds that, the facts are in his head, it poses further challenges to the administration and management of this House. This is because, how does one then make the facts available and prove the veracity of what he said? So, Mr Speaker, actually, I have been on my feet because, I need you to provide further directions on this matter whether going forward --
Hon Member, guide me. Under what Order am I supposed to provide the direction when the person on his feet has not committed any error?
Mr Speaker, starting from the privileges and immunities of Members of this House in communicating, up to the provisions -- That is the provision that deals with contempt and breach of privileges in this House up to the Orders that deal --
Hon Member, kindly give me a specific one to guide me.
Mr Speaker, Order 30 of the Standing Orders gives you clear guidance on the conduct of Members of this House in debates. The whole of Standing Order 30 (a), (b), (c) and all the provisions of Order 30 would give you an indication of the nature and manner debates should be conducted in this House, and when an Hon Member feels that --
Hon Members, I did not see any basis upon which I should give you any guidance. Kindly resume your seat. Hon Minority Chief Whip, please, continue.
On a point of order. Mr Speaker, he attempted to go into the clauses, but I believe we are debating the principles. He is also misleading this House that, we are surrendering our authority to the Minister for Finance. Where does it say that? Mr Speaker, anything the Hon Minister does must come with the annual Budget for us to approve. He must come here. Where is the surrender? If he comes here and we disagree, we vote against it. That is why he comes here. So he should not mislead this House and say we are surrendering our authority. We are not. That is why we are compelling him to come here to explain any recommendations he makes. We debate it and the superior argument would win at the end of the day. What is he afraid of?
Hon Minority Chief Whip, he is the Hon Member for Old Tafo who is also the Hon Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation, and our rules say, when Ministers come here, we should address them as Ministers.
Hon Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation?
Mr Speaker, he is a senior Member and a Leader of this House. I would just want to remind him of Standing Order 86 (3), Mr Speaker, I beg to quote; “Ministers shall be referred to by their Ministerial titles”. Mr Speaker, as to using my office to affect this House, he knows that, this week his portfolio has been positively affected, and that is why I am sitting by the Hon Minister for Finance, so that it can be positively affected.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. I rise to support the Motion, and I support the Motion because at long last, something would be done about a problem we have always known and which has bedeviled public expenditure management for a long time. Mr Speaker, we recall that, when the Hon Minister for Finance presented the 2017 Budget Statement and Economic Policy to this House, he quoted portions of previous Budget Statements dating as far back as 2010 in which the NDC Administration lamented the statutory rigidities in our public financial management space and spoke about the need to do realignment. Mr Speaker, the difference between what we have known in the past and now is that, this time round, we would do something definitive about this. I believe that as a country, it was our collective failure that we allowed this problem to bedevil us for so long, and I thank the Hon Minister for Finance for leading this national effort to deal properly with this problem. Mr Speaker, I begin by reminding us that if we go to page 3 of the memorandum of the Bill that has been placed before us, the third line of the first paragraph reads, Mr Speaker, with your kind permission, I quote: “…Furthermore, the clause allows…”
“… Furthermore, the clause allows the Minister responsible for Finance to make additional budgetary allocation to a particular Earmarked Fund specified in the Schedule, where the priority of Government as established in a Budget Statement for a particular year requires that additional budgetary allocation be made to that Earmarked Fund.” Mr Speaker, what this means is that, because of this Bill which would become an Act, the Hon Minister, every year, is able to look at what is most important to the people of this country. It may be education or health, and to say that moneys that otherwise would have gone to some Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) as Internally Generated Fund (IGF) are more needed in order to respond to priority areas such as education and health. This is something that we should welcome, and we welcome this in the Bill that has been brought to us. Mr Speaker, I would also like to touch on the Ghana Investment and Infras- tructure Fund, about which some comments have been made. I have a copy of the Act before me, and in section 5, where we have the sources of money for the Fund --
Hon Member, hold on. Hon Members, having regard to the Business of the House, I direct that Sitting be held outside the prescribed time.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, in Section 5, this House approved ten sources of funding for the Ghana Infrastructure and Investment Fund. What this new Act seeks to do, is to take out three of these sources. We have as many as seven sources of funding for the Ghana Investment and Infrastructure Fund (GIIF).
Hon Member for Ningo Prampram?
Thank you, Mr Speaker.
“A Member shall not read his speech, but may read extracts from written or printed documents in support of his argument and may refresh his memory by reference to notes.” Mr Speaker, the Hon Member has been reading copiously for close to five minutes. I had held my breath to see if it was a refreshing of his memory or a copious reading of a prepared document. Mr Speaker, I therefore draw your attention to the Hon Member's copious reading, that flouts Standing Order 89.
Hon Kwaku Kwarteng, are you copiously reading? [Laughter]
Mr Speaker, I was not.
Very well, then you should continue.
Mr Speaker, if the Hon Member was really paying attention, he would have seen that I was not reading. I do not need to read. [Interruption.] Mr Speaker, I choose now to look directly in their faces to make my point, so that they would know that I am not reading. But I hope that, they would look at the points I am making, and the strategies to deal with the problem that we have known for so long, and not think about whether or not I was speaking with my head bowed.
Hon Deputy Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity. Mr Speaker, the Hon Member for Ningo/Prampram made a point of order and made reference to Standing Order 89.
Hon Members, Order!
Mr Speaker, Standing Order 89 says: “A Member shall not read his speech, but may read extracts from written or printed documents in support of his argument and may refresh his memory by reference to notes.” Mr Speaker, the Hon Member is allowed by our rules to refer to extracts from his notes and I believe that, he was fully covered by the rules and was doing exactly so. So, the fact that the Hon Member for Ningo/Prampram wanted to catch his eye and he was busy because he concentrated on his delivery and made reference to his notes, the Hon Member said he was reading. The rules say he can refer to his extracts, and the extracts are before him and he is allowed by the rules to refer to same. I thank you, Mr Speaker.
Hon Deputy Majority Leader, I had ruled and Hon Kwarteng was continuing. Thanks for your assistance but it came rather late. What you did was to interfere with the free flow of Hon Kwaku Kwarteng's contribution but thank you for the assistance.
Mr Speaker, it was just for avoidance of doubt. I know you had ruled, but we are all here to learn and I know the Hon Member for Ningo/Prampram is ever ready to learn so, it was for purposes of emphasis.
Hon Kwarteng, please continue.
Mr Speaker, it is unfortunate that we would mistake eloquence for reading. [Laughter] Mr Speaker, the last point I would like to speak to is the opportunity this Bill offers for us to deal with our escalating debt, especially, as we saw under the previous administration, that because the rigidities of these Funds do not free resources for the central government to use, we have had to resort to borrowing, in order that, central Government can do the things it has to do, in addition to the things that these earmarked Funds do.
Mr Speaker, I appreciate the fact that the Hon Minister for Finance said there is constrained fiscal space and that is why he would want to cap all the earmarked funds in order to have some money for discretionary expenditure. Mr Speaker, before this Bill is passed, the Hon Minister for Finance has already taken away a lot of money from the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund) and the universities and the Ghana Airports Company Limited (GACL). These institutions have retained their IGF and they have already awarded contracts which are under construction. For instance, the Ho airport is under construction and it is being funded by GACL. If you take the Airport Service Charge (APSC) from GACL, how is it going to complete the project in Wa which they fund? Mr Speaker, one of the reasons given by the Hon Minister is that there have been previous sources of funding from loans. The loans are too many. That is their claim. But this capping does not preclude the Hon Minister for Finance from borrowing because, if you refer to page 165 of the Budget Statement, there is domestic net borrowing of over GH¢12 billion. It is there, so the capping does not preclude the Government from borrowing. So, giving that reason for capping it is not enough for us to accept. Mr Speaker, there is a very important issue which we have ignored; that is the definition of total revenue. The Constitution in article 252 states very clearly that, about five per cent of total revenue should be given to the District Assemblies for development purposes. Now, we are watering down this definition day by day. When the first Local Government Act was passed, they tried to define what ‘total revenue' was. Then when the Local Government Act was amended last year, they again redefined what is meant by total revenue. When the Petroleum Revenue Management Act (PRMA) was also passed, it tried to take away some of the revenue from total revenue. So where are we ending, Mr Speaker? It will come to a day where we shall so define total revenue to the point that, there would be nothing left as total revenue because, we would have taken everything. Let us remember that, the Constitution says, not more than five per cent of total revenue --
Hon Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation?
Mr Speaker, we have to be careful. The Bill is brought on behalf of the President by the Hon Minister for Finance. The Hon Member made reference to “when they”. Who is that “they”? Mr Speaker, this argument he brought about PRMA was done during the NDC regime. So he should not use “they”, meaning this Hon Minister. Let us be factual. It was done when oil revenue came and it was in their time so he should not say “they”. “They” cannot refer to this Hon Minister.
Mr Speaker, I believe that when we are faced with any decision to make here, let us face it. Let us stop saying who is they or that. We as a Parliament are faced with a decision now to make, and that is what I referred to. [Interruption.]
But he said “they”.
But did he not bring the law? Mr Speaker, in the contribution made by the Hon Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation, he alluded to the fact that the previous government owed GETFund and the DACF, but the fact of the matter is that, following the home grown policies implemented by the previous Government, there was no debt to DACF. Everything was paid, except the fourth quarter, which was at that time not due. The current Government has taken over now. They should pay the fourth quarter. The fourth quarter was due in January. They should pay it. They have not paid but up until that time, the Government was clean on its commitment to the DACF.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Member is a senior Member of this House. The fourth quarter of the DACF is not due in January; it is due at the end of the first quarter. The end of the first quarter is not January. He should know this. He has been around long enough. Now, I am negotiating with the Hon Minister so that it would come for him and he even says it was due in January. The Hon Member should not give us wrong facts.
Hon Member, continue.
Mr Speaker, the money is due the DACF and it should be paid. [Interruption] -- The point I am making is that, in the previous Government, there was no amount owing to the DACF. Was there any amount owed to the DACF? No! Mr Speaker, what I want the nation and all of us to be alerted to is that, with this capping, GETFund, which should have gotten GH¢1.4 billion is being given only GH¢790 million. That, in effect, means that, GETFund cannot pay the contractors in all the schools where they are executing projects. We have projects in Sokode Technical School, in Mawuli School, Taviefe Senior High School and even in my hometown, Tanyigbe. If we cap the money from GH¢1.4 billion to GH¢790 million, how would they pay the contractors? That is almost 50 per cent loss. So, Mr Speaker, the capping is a problem even for Hon Ministers of the present Government. Each Hon Minister who comes here to defend his or her Budget Estimates complains that, they have taken their IGF. Mr Kwaku Agyemen-Manu -- rose
Hon Member, hold on. You keep generating controversy. Hon Minister for Health?
On a point of order. Thank you, Mr Speaker. My Hon Friend from Ho Central in his contribution has misled almost all of us. [Interruption.] Mr Speaker, he told the whole nation that, the Hon Ministers who come here to defend their Budget Estimates are not happy. Did we tell him that or what did he observe? [Interruption.] -- I have asked him a question, let him answer it first.
Hon Minister, if you have a point of order, proceed. This is not Question time and he is not the Minister. You would come here and he would ask the Question but now— [Pause.] Hon Member, they say they are happy so do not make allusions on their behalf. Proceed with your contribution.
Mr Speaker, I refer to the Hansard if it is already available. Yesterday, the Hon Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration complained. So it is in the Hansard. I do not know whether I have said something different from what she said. Mr Speaker, in conclusion, when we want to introduce a policy to change an existing one which people have lived with for a very long time, we do not have to come in with a shock. We came with a huge shock to GETFund. From GH¢1.4 billion to GH¢790 million. Almost 50 per cent. It is not correct. The Hon Minister should go back -- [Interruption.] -- It is unconscionable. I would say that, the Hon Minister should sit back and exclude some of these companies listed in the Schedule like the Ghana Airport Company, the GETFund, the Educational Institutions and the Ghana Revenue Authority. These are the people who would bring the money and we are capping their retention from about GH¢963 million to under GH¢600 million. What motivation do we give them to go and bring the money? If they do not bring the money, how do we all distribute it? How do we get it for allocation? So. I believe that even if this should be done, we should call on the Hon Minister for Finance to go and do a serious review of the Bill so that during the Consideration Stage, a number of amendments can be made to relieve these cash trapped institutions from their IGFs being capped. I thank you for the opportunity.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker —
Hon Member, hold on. Hon Agyeman-Manu?
Thank you, Mr Speaker. I just want to take myself back into memory lane and tell my Hon Colleagues sitting opposite me in the House here, for them to try to tell the whole nation the difference between what the former Minister and the former Deputy Minister, who is sitting here now were doing anytime they came here for us to approve the DACF distribution formula. They were setting some moneys aside for some projects at the centre. How different is that from capping? They have forgotten so soon. The ECO Brigade thing that they set aside some DACF for without distributing that money to the districts, was that not equivalent to capping? Now, look at the way they are arguing. Mr Speaker, let me just advise my Hon Colleagues that, when there are problems that must be solved, they must be solved. We solve problems with innovative thinking. Therefore, whether somebody is happy or not, we believe that when we do some of these things like taking some IGFs that hitherto, some institutions were mismanaging, we believe we would bring some discipline into managing public funds when we centralise some of them, for somebody sitting somewhere, who has that indepth knowledge to do the management for us. How would we pay for all the loans that they have contracted on us? How would we pay the massive interest that is taking almost all fiscal space? How would we pay the arrears that we have come to inherit if we allow IGFs to continue to sit in the hands of Ministries and Depart- ments? Mr Speaker, we are in a year that is not very good for this country financially, and I believe that, we have to do certain things to try to solve some of the challenges we have come to inherit. We would not renege on our obligations, we have promised Ghanaians several things and we want to find money to do them. During the elections, my Hon Colleagues on the other side of the House asked whether we would get money to fund so many promises that we have made and I remember we told them that we would come with innovative thinking and this is part of them. [Hear! Hear!] So what is the problem? [Interruption.]
Mr Speaker, let them think that—
Hon Member hold on. Yes, Hon Suhuyini?
On a point of order. Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. I believe the Hon Minister who is on his feet should - - [Interruption]-- Mr Speaker, the institutions --
Hon Members, Order!
Mr Speaker, our institu- tions in this country are already working under stress and the workers who are there are doing a lot under very difficult circumstances. So I believe that it is unfair on the part of the Hon Minister to suggest that, these institutions are mismanaging and misusing funds allocated to them. He should apologise to the hardworking managers of our state institutions. Thank you very much.
Mr Speaker, I had the occasion to once serve in the Ministry of Finance as a Deputy Minister. I was in charge of revenues and headed the unit that was actually doing IGFs. Prior to that time, IGFs came to the central consolidated account. It was this same NPP Government they are now lambasting, that introduced the concept of retention. We would ask that Ministries and Departments should come to Parliament for approval to retain certain portions of their IGFs. As we moved along, the number of applications for retention expanded and it spread to almost everywhere. The rationale was to empower the Departments and Ministries to generate revenue and utilise it to do certain things that Central Government would not readily release to them. That is the history of these things.
Mr Speaker, whether it was IGF or Earmarked Funds, this new Bill has Earmarked Funds, and that is what I talk about. So, there was an attempt, only that he was not bold to come to the House to do that. What I have said is that, we should not entertain the type of fear that is being harboured. When these things are capped, the Hon Minister for Finance, I believe and with the support of my Hon Colleague who is now the Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation, would look at the Budget implementation. If it is going to cause challenges that would cost us so much and push us away from where we want to go, they would have the opportunity to come here to do a supplementary Budget. They would always have the opportunity to come here to ask for amendments of these things. When we pass the Bill, they would be selective. They would look at the type of suggestions my Hon Colleague from Ho tried to come up with. They may not spread it across all the institutions but would look at the institutions that may be very vulnerable and look at how they can massage the issues. Mr Speaker, I would urge all my Hon Colleagues, those behind me, on my right side and those in front of me, that we all accept this Bill and pass it through in the good interest of this nation. Thank you very much, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, I rise to contribute to the debate on the Motion to consider the Earmarked Funds Capping as a means of addressing some of the rigidities we have in our budgeting framework. First, I would like to look at the objectives and some of the reasons that have been given for introducing this Bill. We have been told that, three rigidity items consume about 107 per cent of total tax revenue. These items are wages and salaries, interest and amortisation and finally, the issue of Statutory Funds or what we call Earmarked Funds. Let us look at Government's attempt to address each of these, and see whether indeed, this Bill is just an attempt to run to the touchline and attach the Funds that are available and move them towards a process of recentralisation of funding. In the first place, wages and salaries as a major rigidity -- What is the solution in our Budget and what effort is Government making to address the problem of rigidities in relation to wages and salaries? In our Budget, we have seen that wages and salaries as a rigidity is moved from GH¢12 billion to GH¢16 billion. Even before this Budget was passed, the appointment and nomination of Ministers had become a mass recruitment of Ministers -- [Hear! Hear!] -- an issue that would jeopardise the rigidity of wages So, rigidities in relation to wages and salaries as far as Government is concerned is not a rigidity. It does not require any effort to address it. Rather, it requires an effort to escalate it. That cannot be a fair treatment of rigidities. The other challenge with wages and salaries is that, whereas we have State institutions that are mandated to deliver development at the grassroots, this Budget seeks to create further bureaucracies. We want to introduce the Northern Development Authority, Central Development Authority and Coastal Development Authority. These are further bureaucracies that would further compound wages and salaries as a rigidity.
On a point of order. Mr Speaker, I believe that we have finished debating the principles of the Budget. The principles of this Bill -- [Interruption.] - - What he said about the development authorities relates to the principles of the Budget. We have voted on that. Let him stay on this one.
Hon Member, be guided that we are discussing this Bill.
The Memorandum that followed the Bill gave rationale and indicated rigidities as a major reason for which we must pass this Bill. So, we must
address the issue of rigidities and not just the Earmarking of Funds. This is because it is only one of three rigidities identified in the Memorandum that was presented before us. So the further creation of bureau- cracies and bigger state institutions to do the work that the District Assemblies have been mandated to do in the communities and denying them further funding, is not the solution to rigidities. It would further escalate rigidities. Therefore, the excuse that, this is all about rigidities is farfetched. My second issue has to do with interest cost and amortisation as rigidity. The reality is that, in this Budget, net financing is GH¢12 billion. Does that suggest to anybody that borrowing would slow down anytime soon? We have been told in this Bill that, because of rigidities, any additional Government activity requires borrowing, therefore, by introducing this Bill, capping the Statutory Funds and IGF, and being able to move funds to Government priorities, our borrowing would begin to recede. Unfortunately, the Budget suggests to us that, in the midst of all of these, our net borrowing is going to be about GH¢12 billion. Unfortunately, the entire net borrowing of GH¢12 billion would be borrowed from domestic sources. That must be a big worry to us because, the financial system of Ghana would entirely be burdened with funding GH¢12 billion of our net financing which would crowd out the private sector. This would not address the problem of rigidities. This is to look for where the meat is and the meat is the Statutory Funds and the IGF. In order to do that, they have to state other two rigidities to run to the torchlight. So we must focus on the key issues to address the rigidities. By rigidities, we would look at total revenue, Statutory Funds and other sources. Mr Speaker, it is instructive for us to say that, where we increase our total tax revenue, rigidities as a percentage of total tax revenue would decline and it would no longer become a major problem as a rigidity. Unfortunately, we are not interested in the revenue -- we are interested in the rigidities yet, we know that the denominator is the revenue. If we accelerate the growth of our revenue base, we should be able to reduce the rigidities. Mr Speaker, an excuse has been given that, because for a number of years, we have not been able to transfer the full Statutory Funds to these institutions, it justifies why we should not give them the money. Mr Speaker, if last year we were able to transfer 33 per cent to them and we all agreed that, it was not enough, what then would be the justification to move from 33 per cent to 25 per cent? It simply does not make sense that, people with 33 per cent of allocation out of 36 per cent -- and we have complained that, because we could not get 36 per cent, which was just a difference of 3 per cent-- they should now be denied more -- almost close to 9 per cent. I cannot see how that would be a panacea to address the problem of rigidities. It simply means that the Government has overpromised the people of Ghana. One million/One constituency, One District One Factory, One Village/One Dam, free Senior Secondary School (SSS) that we cannot -- [Interruption.] -- the issue of free and restoration of allowances,
Yes, Hon Majority Leader?
On a point of order. Mr Speaker, the Motion that is before us is the “Earmarked Funds Capping and Realignment Bill, 2017”. Can the Hon Member confine himself to the principles underpinning this? That is the purpose of the debate at the Second Reading of the Bill; it is not to engage in the theory of rigidities. Mr Speaker, can we draw attention of our Hon Colleague to the fact that, his interventions should have relevance to the subject matter under discussion, and that the subject matter is, “Earmarked Funds Capping and Realignment Bill, 2017”
Hon Member, please, wind up.
Mr Speaker, I believe it is very relevant that we used “Earmarked Funds” to address the problem of rigidities and we would need to have that in perspective. Mr Speaker, the challenge is that, we have been told that, by earmarking and capping the Earmarked Funds, we would be able to centralise some funding and allow the Government to move money in order to support development in the local communities. It has been presented as if the District Assemblies do not even know the priorities of their people. We all do know that the District Assemblies have medium- term development plans that are developed button-up. Right from the communities, they know what they want. All they want is to send the money that used to come to them through the GETFund for them to develop the area of education, that is a priority to them. All they want is to send the money that used to come to them through the National Health Insurance Scheme, so that they would be able to undertake the health care delivery that they so cherish. All they want is that the moneys that have been earmarked for them to support the District Assemblies are sent to them. It is for this reason that this House increased it from 5 per cent to 7.5 per cent and we believe that, they need more money.
Hon Member, please conclude.
Mr Speaker, in on attempt to address this problem, we have gone ahead to look at IGF and
unfortunately -- in the wake to address an assault on IGF -- we do not have mercy on anybody. The institutions that have cried for funding and have been neglected for so long suddenly have found their names appear here. Is it not pitiful we would want to take money from the National Commission on Culture? The National Theatre -- an institution that cannot even pay its electricity bill, the Abibigromma Theatre Group, the Ghana Dance Ensemble [Interruption.] -- The Hon Minister for Finance should look elsewhere.
We would take the contributions of Hon Leaders.
Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to contribute to this very important Motion, which is the Second Reading of the Earmarked Funds Capping and Realignment Bill, 2017, which was ably moved by the Hon Minister for Finance and supported by the Hon Chairman of the Committee on Finance with its Report. Mr Speaker, when the Hon Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation sought to question why reference was made to the Budget Statement and that its policy had been approved, I would want to remind him that the Earmarked Funds Capping and Realignment Bill, 2017, is pursuant to those policies that this House approved in the 2017 Budget Statement therefore, nothing should preclude any Hon Member from making a comment on the Budget Statement, and more importantly on this Earmarked Funds Capping and Realignment Bill, 2017. Mr Speaker, my contribution would be premixed and with your indulgence, I would refer to article 106 of the Constitution which provides that; (1)”The power of Parliament to make laws shall be exercised by bills passed by Parliament and assented to by the President. Mr Speaker, my emphasis is on the 106 (2) which says; (2) No bill, other than such a bill! as is referred to in paragraph (a) a article 108 of this Constitution , shall be introduced in Parliament unless -- (a) it is accompanied by an explanatory memorandum setting out in detail the policy and principles of the bill…” Mr Speaker, the Hon Member who just spoke, Hon Isaac Adongo, spoke exactly to the policy and the principles in the Bill on earmark and rigidities therefore, it is in tandem with the provisions of article 106.
“… the policy principles of the bill, the defects of the existing law,…” Mr Speaker, what are the defects of the existing law? Be it the Common Fund, the National Health Insurance Fund, the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund). Mr Speaker, with your indulgence, may I refer you to page 10 of the Bill — Identified Earmarked Fund. Mr Speaker, before I cruise further, there is nothing like National Health Fund. I am not aware of anything like that. Let it be said, if we want to say, the National Health Insurance Fund. But I am sure when we come to the Consideration Stage, we would support to seek corrections to what is right and appropriate in accordance with Ghanaian law. There is nothing like Education Trust Fund. I am aware of the Ghana Education Trust Fund under Act 581 (2000). Mr Speaker, when we say, Road Fund and Other Funds — We would be able to do a cleaner thing when we come to improve the Schedule of the Bill. Mr Speaker, but when we say defects of existing law — what are the defects of the existing law? I would want to take them one after the other, in order to support my argument. Mr Speaker, again, the Hon Minister, in the Budget Statement, in particular, paragraph 836, and to remind him that he is not sowing the seeds of growth, somebody sowed it. He made copious reference to Hon Seth Terkper; reference 2010, 2011, 2015, in appreciating and identifying the problem of rigidities, and the way to solve it. He has come to cap in order to have. Mr Speaker, I can only describe this as an unimaginative and inept attempt by a hunter who goes to find an elephant dead, and what he goes for, is just the tusk of the elephant. So the Hon Minister for Finance has conveniently gone in for the tusk of the elephant. He has not come out with new innovation in order to raise additional revenue. One other way to solve the rigidities is additional revenue. Mr Speaker, one can understand that, given the tax threshold of our country and the state of the private sector of Ghana, it is not the way to go. But for him to understand that he did not sow the seeds. the Ghana Education Trust Fund — What is the defect of the law? Have we achieved the core object of the establishment of the Ghana Education Trust Fund? The answer is no. Therefore, when we come to cap it as if all is well and all has been done with GETFund — That is not the case; either for Free Compulsory Universal Basic Education — we have not achieved it — access to relevant and quality education, we have not achieved it. The Hon Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation would recall, our encounter in 1997 at Akosombo, which led to the emergence of the Ghana Education Trust Fund. It was one for which we engaged the public at large, to accept that a certain portion of revenue be dedicated, indeed, to supplement but not to complement what the Consolidated Fund was doing for education. When we say defects, has GETFund achieved its core objective? The answer is no. Today, GETFund has arrears, and I am sure many Members of Parliament, including communities, yearn for additional school infrastructure. We should not cut or reduce it if we cannot add to it. Mr Speaker, that leads me to the second leg of my argument, and again, may I refer to the Memorandum. The Minister, in the introduction of the Memorandum, and with your indulgence, I beg to quote:
“Earmarked Funds are twenty-five per cent of tax revenue.” They are not the same. In one breath, we are talking of “total revenue” and in another, we are talking of tax revenue. I am referencing page 3 and page 1. Page 1 uses, “total tax revenue”. When we come to page 3, the “total” is lost, we have just, “tax revenue”. But to make my point, is to travel the journey again to article 252 of the Constitution. We have raised it, but just for me to elucidate a new point and a suggestion. Mr Speaker, article 252 of the Constitution is on the District Assembly Common Fund, which says; “not less than 5 per cent”. But we are aware of an existing legislation which increases it to 7.5 per cent. Now, in this Bill, we say, wherever in any enactment, there is any inconsis- tency, this Bill must prevail. I would like to point out the particular clause for you. It is clause 1(2), and I beg to quote: “Where a provision in an enactment relating to an Earmarked Fund or an Internally Generated Fund is inconsistent or conflict with the provision of this Act, this Act shall, except otherwise provided in subsection 5, prevail.” Mr Speaker, what kind of repeal is this; express or implied repeal in law? If we want to repeal 7.5 per cent to 5 per cent consistent with the Constitution, we should do so. But we do not have to come by an Act of Parliament. I have read clause 1(2) of what is provided here. They know that is not right — [Interruption.] — There is an increase of Common Fund to 7.5 per cent, and allocations have been done under the tenure of Hon Asamoah Boateng as Minister for Local Government and Rural Development. I am old enough in this House to let him know. [Interruption.]
On a point of order. Mr Speaker, I have been here since 2005. There is no law raising it to 7.5 per cent, and we can check the records. An administrative executive decision was taken for a purpose. Because we were getting District Development Fund (DDF), we wanted the additional 2.5 per cent. It is not a law. And so he should not give the impression that there is a law here.
Mr Speaker, since he is responsible for Earmarking and Monitoring, my Question is, has DDF stopped? In the budget request of the Hon Minister for Local Government and Rural Development, she needed US$40 million to be able to provide counterpart funding. So we are making it uneasy for those Statutory Funds to meet their statutory obligations. As for the heart, it cannot and does not lie. The tongue sometimes does. Mr Speaker, in passing the Ghana Infrastructure Fund (GIF), they walked out when they were on this side of the House then — seeds of growth — 2.5 per cent — US$1.7 billion — they will benefit from it. But they should come back to this House and account to us how they intend to use the GIF money. This is because, this is money was earmarked under a law. Mr Speaker, if we want to appreciate the argument which the Hon Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation is made — In this particular Act, they are certain and specific that, they would amend the GIF Act and that, its 2.5 per cent should now go into — Again, the Hon Minister knows that I respect him. He did not get it right. There would be no GIF, there would be Ghana Investment Corporation (GIC) — He should consult the Hon Minister for Finance to tell him. He said that, he would set up the Ghana Investment Corporation, and reference the late Hon Kwadwo Baah Wiredu at the time. But they boycotted GIF. They did not even appreciate the 2.5 per cent in setting it up. That was the case. They did not believe in it. Today, 2.5 per cent — seeds of growth. So they should put fertilizer on our seeds and move on — that we sowed a good seed. Mr Speaker, let me respond to some of the issues. They want to deal with wages and salaries as part of the 99.6 per cent. The Hon Minister knows the way to go; it is to downsize the public or civil service. But they do not have the political will or courage. They were praised for being courageous. They should be courageous enough. They should compare the size of the public and civil service in Ghana to many other jurisdictions in West Africa. That is where the problem is. Mr Speaker,when we have a Public Service of 650,000 workers only, we do not solve the problem by saying that we take this money, keep it here, establish a Poverty Eradication Fund, but that is what we are coming to do. Is GETFund not addressing poverty? Is National Health Insurance Scheme not addressing poverty? What they are doing is to scoop money from there and put it into a new establishment of what the Hon Minister again announced in the Budget Statement as a Poverty Eradication Fund, which deals with many of the promises, and say they are dealing with it. Mr Speaker, amortisation of loans and interest payment was the second issue we identified as the ill of our economy, and that is true. But when we have no fiscal space, borrowing becomes an option. Whether the Hon Minister for Finance, likes it or not, he would borrow. He would do so because, he would need fiscal space. He has already indicated at borrowing in this Budget Statement, yet they bastardised the previous Government for borrowing -- [Interruptions] -- and say “excessive borrowing”. We would see their limit; they have already indicated borrowing over GH¢1 billion. They would borrow because they are not coming in with new revenue, they have no fiscal space, and that is why they are realigning statutory funds. It is the most convenient thing to do. Mr Speaker, so, it is with some difficulty that I would support this particular Motion. To suggest to the Hon Minister, ideally, we would have wished, and that is the wish of this side of the House that he separated the District Assembly
Hon Minority Leader, can you address me and ignore those --
Mr Speaker, the opening words are, “twenty- five” per cent of total tax revenue…”. My submission is that, they should not lump up all the funds. They should take DACF on its own, and allocate to it the minimum constitutional 5 per cent. Then they can go on and say 20 per cent of other Funds. We have no difficulty, but let me refer to the attached schedule once more. I know there are other Hon Ministers who would want to move their Motions. Mr Speaker, on the Schedule -- “Retention of Internally Generated Funds (IGF)”. Let it be said that when he made reference to the Hon former Minister for Finance, Mr Seth Terkper, from 2010 to 2015, he as the Hon Minister for Finance never ever contemplated or envisaged an intention to attack IGFs. The Hon Minister should be mindful that he would undermine the growth and effective functioning of those institutions that are largely dependent on IGF. I would, for instance, use Korle Bu Teaching Hospital or Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital; there are times that are critical, and they have to depend on the IGF to function. Therefore, if he is asking for flexibility,we would ask him to be flexible too. When he is applying the money, he should show some flexibility when it comes to this. Hon Member, remind the Hon Majority Leader of the Communication Service Tax; it was our common decision here. I remember at that time I was again in Opposition when we said we should dedicate it to support youth employment. [Interruptions.] I remember, and my contribution is a matter of record -- I insisted that, it would be dedicated to address youth unemployment. So, the Hon Minister,wants to earmark youth employment. What is even more worrying -- and he is seated with the Hon Minister for Trade and Industry who promised Ghanaians they would improve the competitiveness of the private sector. The Hon Minister for Trade and Industry is not safe; Export Development Levy, he wants to cap. Yet it is a feed to the Ghana EXIM Bank, I should believe so, and a certain percentage -- That is his vehicle in order to provide stimulus for the private sector. So he should be cautious when he wants to earmark it. Also, the Hon Minister would want to attack Export Development Levy. The Minister for Trade and Industry together with the Hon Minister for Finance would need it to address the challenges of Ghana's private sector. We share the thought that the problem of the Ghanaian private sector is access to credit and the cost of credit. When we hear people say everyday that, we could solve the depreciation of the cedi through monitoring policy and fiscal policy, that is not enough. The long term solution of a strong cedi lies in expanded export, and Ghana has an opportunity for expanded export. That is why he must support the Hon Minister for Trade and Industry to increase the exports, so that, the returns would provide some stability for the cedi. Mr Speaker, the Minerals Development Fund is a victim. Ghana Revenue Authority Retention -- I would comment on that and probably have my last words so that you can put the Question, Mr Speaker. The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) Retention, I am aware -- probably speaking in my previous capacity at Cabinet, that what they needed was a certain adjustment of what GRA can retain -- I believe from 3 per cent to 4 per cent. It was in order that, it dealt with some issues which motivated them to be able to work hard to have more revenue for the State. So, in doing so, they should be mindful that part of the revenue shortfalls, they announced in the Budget Statement was to motivate and get them to do right. I share their thinking on tax exemptions; I share their thoughts on leakages at the port -- it is major. If they are able to tidy that up with the Hon Minister for Trade and Industry,they can get much of the revenue needed. Mr Speaker, we also have Plastic Waste Recycling Fund and the Students Loan Trust also as victims of the Hon Minister's long capping hand. The Hon Minister for Finance's long capping hand -- he would want to cap Students Loan Trust and Export Development Levy. We can understand realignment. Finally, I was even misquoted on it: nobody can stand in the way of Government to stimulate the growth of the economy and to use tax revenue for purposes of generating growth in the economy. Mr Speaker, what we cautioned against was the use of petroleum related funds for purpose of consumption. That is not good enough. If they dedicate it for the purpose of infrastructure, they have our outmost support; but not for consumption purposes. In a few instances where loans were borrowed and some were even used for salaries, that is wrong. Just as it was wrong yesterday, it would be wrong tomorrow and in other issues. Mr Speaker, I would have my take -- On my final comment again, I believe when we get to the last end of this, you would support me. We would not give the Hon Minister those unfettered powers in this Bill, and say he should go and review laws. He must come subject to Parliament. Wherever we have “Minister for Finance” in the Bill, I intend to promote an amendment to include subject to Parliament because we would not give him that power. Mr Speaker, already the Hon Minister has that power under other laws. Even where he sits, why is the 2.5 per cent GETFund not gone; why is Common Fund not gone and why is National Health Insurance Levy not gone? It is because he exercised his discretionary power as Hon Minister for Finance.
We are interested, as a Parliament, that in the exercise of revising this legislation, which you seek under the realignment of revenue -- Mr Speaker, so the Hon Minister shall realign revenue, that is free as a result of this. In doing so, he must do it in consultation with Parliament, so that we can put a check on him and not have Hon Ministers for Finance who get up and decide that, the revenue has come,but it would not go to GETFund or National Health Insurance Fund -- that is my final word. Mr Speaker, why is GETFund inadequate? Why is National Health Insurance inadequate? It is so because, many of them, like the National Health Insurance, have already publicly complained of a funding gap. So, why cap it when their minimum today -- given the fact that you gave them all the resources they require, they cannot meet their obligations; yet they are still going to cap National Health Insurance. The noble social intervention programme would need support. So, it is with some pessimism that I would associate myself with the approval of this particular Bill. This is because I know the Hon Minister for Finance is in want of fiscal space, and in that want, he can show desperation as has been shown reflecting in an Earmarked Funds Capping and Re- alignment Bill, 2017. If he notices his own statistics, where he says only 33 per cent of total tax revenue -- what happened? It went into the Consolidated Fund, and it was consumed. So, Mr Speaker, I would like to end here with some cautious support because, this will come to haunt the Hon Minister, many of the institutions tomorrow, and contractors. Those awaiting payments on National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) would suffer; contractors on GETFund would suffer; and the District Assembly Common Fund would suffer. Every Government has inherited arrears. So, weep not, child. Every Government from 2001 till yesterday would always inherit some arrears. They must find other innovative ways. I am assured in my heart that tomorrow, he would come in with new measures in order to improve the revenue regime of the country, and not do the conveniently sluggish reallocation of the tusk of the elephant. They just pick that one home and say, realign fund. They did not establish those realigned funds, therefore they seek to cut it even when we still find them inadequate.
Hon Majority Leader, do you want to say something or I should just put the Question? [Uproar.]
Mr Speaker, just some few observations in supporting the Motion moved by the Hon Minister for Finance. Mr Speaker, I believe what we are doing now is the debate of the principles underpinning the Bill, and not to go into the consideration of the various provisions. Unfortunately, many contributors got it wrong. They have jumped into it and are debating the provisions contained in the Bill. Mr Speaker, be that as it may, the question to ask ourselves is, why is this Bill being introduced? The Hon Minority Leader is asking that in tandem with the constitutional provision, the Memo- randum should be addressing the defects of the existing legislation. Mr Speaker, these are sufficiently provided for in paragraphs 2, 4 and 5 of the Memorandum. Indeed, the defects relate to the creation of rigidity and credibility problems. These are two major defects, yet, the Hon Minority Leader does not see them; he says that the Bill does not identify the defects. Mr Speaker, we are told that it is now difficult for Government to shift public spending from one expenditure line to another, and this is hindering what Government is required to do. That finds expression in paragraph 2. Mr Speaker, the other defect is covered in paragraph 3, where it provides and with your permission, I quote: “The rigidity is compounded by the fact that, currently, the country's total revenue is virtually consumed by three main budgetary lines; that is wages and salaries, interest payments and amortization, and earmarked funds --” Mr Speaker, another mischief that this Bill seeks to cure is in paragraph 4; the persistent resort to borrowing because of the erosion of fiscal space created by what we are attacking here, yet, people are not seeing that. Mr Speaker, the credibility of our national budget finds expression in the fact that, every year, because we miss targets occasioned not in the least by the earmarked funding, Hon Ministers for Finance have always had to come to Parliament with Supplementary Budgets. Mr Speaker, the Hon Minority Leader and other Hon Members who spoke before him related to what is contained in section 3 (2) of the Bill. He expressed some fears about surrendering the powers conferred on Parliament. Nothing can be farther away from the truth than that because, Section 3 (2) provides that, and I beg to quote: “The Minister shall, in furtherance of the obligation under subsection (1), [which he read] ensure that the capped Earmarked Funds amount of twenty-five per cent of tax revenue is allocated to the Earmarked Funds specified in the Schedule, each according to a weight which shall be approved by Parliament…” Mr Speaker, the mighty hand of Parliament is herein expressed. So, I am really dumbfounded when he says that, Parliament is surrendering its authority.
“The Minister shall, in determining the weight to be applied to an Earmarked Fund for submission to Parliament for approval…” So, it is for Parliament to even approve of the weights.
I am surprised that Hon Members do not see this, but say that Parliament is surrendering its authority. Mr Speaker, in the definition of the IGFs, that of the District Assemblies are not covered by this. So, it is not every IGF that is covered by this, and I guess the Hon Members who have spoken earlier would take note of this. Yet, conveniently, they hop over that -- [Interruption] -- It is not included. Mr Speaker, they are issues of misuse of the District Assemblies' IGF, and the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly (KMA) is the worst in the whole of the country. In terms of mobilisation of IGFs, it is the worst performer in the whole of the country. Consistently over three years, they have never been able to raise more than 25 per cent of what is supposed to be their IGF. In fact, in 2016, they were only able to generate 22 per cent of their IGF. Yet, in this House, we have made and stressed this point that, at least, if Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA), KMA and the Sekondi Takoradi Metropolitan Assembly (STMA) are proactive, they may not even require any District Assembly Common Fund to be given to them. Mr Speaker, if anybody says that we are denying the Assemblies of their statutory funds, what we require to say to them is that, they are wasting their IGFs -- [Interruption] -- the District Assemblies including KMA. We are told that the worst performing Assembly is one of the District Assemblies in the north, which for 2016 were able to collect over 760 per cent of their IGF. KMA only made 22 per cent. Mr Speaker, I believe the issue about the wastage should also include that relating to corruption in the Assemblies as borne out consistently by the Auditor- General's Report, and that should frighten all of us. Mr Speaker, now that we are going to cap their earmarked funds, perhaps, it would be important, for the sake of the issues raised by the Hon Minority Leader, to refresh our memories. I said that, I did not want us to delve into the various provisions in the Budget Statement. This is because it is entirely within our remit. If there are issues that we have to amend to sanitize the Bill, we could do so as a House. Mr Speaker, for the avoidance of doubt, because of the issues that the Hon Minority Leader raised, which have been echoed by some of the Hon Members of Parliament who spoke before him, clause 3(5) in the Bill clearly provides that: “Despite subsections (2), the Minister shall, in accordance with clause (2) of article 252 of the Constitution, make a monetary allocation of not less than five per cent of total revenue to the District Assemblies Common Fund” Mr Speaker, this is clearly expressed in the Bill so, it is strange that, Hon Members go out of this Chamber, to various radio stations, to say that allocations to the District Assemblies are pegged at seven and a half per cent, and we want to bring it down. Today, I am happy that the Hon Member for Old Tafo, who is the Hon Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation, has brought our attention to the fact that there is no statute covering that additional two and a half per cent, which people refer to and jump from radio station to radio station that the Hon Minister for Finance intends to bring the statutory provisions down to five per cent. The Hon Minority Leader found himself in that same trajectory. There is no law or no statute [Interruption.] -- The former Hon Minister for Local Government and Rural Development is showing him -- Which law provides for that? The Appropriation? This law is also talking about Appropriation.
Mr Speaker, fortunately, you, the Chair, are a lawyer yourself, that is why when there is the First Reading a of Bill, reference to it is that, it is a Bill; when it becomes an Act, it is a law. So let the Hon Majority Leader be told that the Appropriation Acts of 2007 and 2008 were based on seven and a half per cent of DACF and that was law. He should carry that on board and make his case. Unless he says that the Appropriation Act is not a law, new theory per Hon Kyei- Mensah-Bonsu, new ruling, in the year of our Lord, 2016, Hon Member of Parliament for Suame, we would go with it. But the Appropriation Act, is law. So, when he says, with all his weight from Suame Constituency, that there is no statute, there is a statute. [Laughter.] -- The Appropriation Act [Interruption.] - -whatever it is, it was law.
Hon Majority Leader, you have so many of your Hon Ministers sitting behind you, waiting to have their -- So, if we could curtail the debate and --
Mr Speaker, I would end on this note, except to say that, when the Hon Minority Leader stood up to say that we should amend the appropriate laws, he was certainly not talking about the Appropriation Act of 2007 because he knows that Parliament is not clothed with that authority to respectfully amend the 2007 law. He knows that, and he referred to a statute. There is no such -- he should not mislead himself. Where is it? He says that there is a statute; there is nothing. So he would go to radio stations, including Radio Gold, to say that there is a law. There is no such law. Mr Speaker, Radio Gold is the worst, and as Nigerians would say, it is the “worstest” station.
Hon Majority Leader, you are done. Thank you.
Mr Speaker, thank you for the space accorded, and I think that Hon Members would vote for it. Question put and Motion agreed to. The Earmarked Funds Capping and Realignment Bill, 2017, is accordingly read a Second time.
Item numbered 11. The Hon Second Deputy Speaker to take the Chair.
MR SECOND DEPUTY SPEAKER
Hon Members, please, may we have some silence? I am told we are on item numbered 11 on the order paper now. That is for the Hon Minister for Trade and Industry to move the Motion. ANNUAL ESTIMATES, 2017 Ministry of Trade and Industry
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that this Honourable House approves the sum of GH¢269,135,747 for the services of the Ministry of Trade and Industry for the year ending 31st December, 2017. Question prposed.
Mr Speaker, I am so grateful that after long hours, we have been asked to move and second our Motion. Mr Speaker, I beg to support the Motion, and I present the Committee's Report. Introduction The Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the Government of Ghana for the 2017 Financial Year was presented to the House on Thursday, 2nd March, 2017, by the Hon Minister of Finance, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta. The Hon Speaker referred the 2017 Annual Budget Estimates of the Ministry of Trade and Industry to the Committee on Trade, Industry and Tourism for consideration and report, in accordance with article 179 of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana, and pursuant to Orders 140(4) and 159 of the Standing Orders of the House. In considering the Annual Budget Estimates, the Committee met with the Chief Director of the Ministry of Trade and Industry, and his technical team from the Ministry, Departments and Agencies. The Committee appreciates their invaluable assistance. Reference documents The following documents served as reference guide during the Committee's deliberations: i. 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana; ii. Standing Orders of the Parliament of Ghana; iii. MDA's 2016 Actuals; iv. 2016 Budget Statement and Economic Policy; and v. Programme-Based Budget Estimates of 2017 for the Ministry of Trade and Industry. Mandate and mission of the ministry The Ministry over the years has been formulating and implementing policies towards the realisation of its goal of developing a vibrant, technology-driven, liberalized and competitive trade and industrial sector that significantly contributes to inclusive and sustainable economic growth and employment creation. Policy objectives of the ministry The policy objectives of the Ministry are as follows: i. Improve export competitiveness ii. Diversify and increase exports and markets; iii. To accelerate economic integra- tion with other regional and/or sub-regional blocks and/or markets iv. Improve private sector produc- tivity and competitive-ness, domestically and globally; v. Pursue and expand market access; vi. Ensure the health, safety and economic interest of consumers? vii. Improve efficiency and competi- tiveness of Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs); and viii. Ensure rapid industrialisation driven by string linkages to agriculture and other natural resource endowments. Key agencies under the ministry For the realisation of the policy objectives, the Ministry will implement its policies and strategies through the following agencies: Ghana Standard Authority, (GSA) National Board for small Scale Industries, NBSSI; Ghana Export Promotion Authority -- GEPA; GRATIS Foundation, GRATIS Central Regional Development Commission (CEDECOM); and Regional Offices of the Ministry Regional offices of the ministry Other Agencies under the Ministry which are not being funded from the Consolidated Fund are: Ghana Heavy Equipment Ghana Free Zones Board GIHOC Distillery Export Development and Agricultural Investment Fund (EDAIF) Northern Star Company - Pwalugu Ayensu Starch Company Ghana Trade Fair Authority Ghana National Procurement Agency
Hon Fifi Kwetey?
Mr Speaker, I would like to --
Hon Minority Leader, just a minute. I am told that we have about five more Motions to take, so we would have to apportion time. I do not know the understanding. How many would contribute from each side of the House?
Mr Speaker, I consulted the Hon Majority Leader before his momentary exit. I am sure he would be back in the Chamber. The initial request was for us to look at the consideration of the Earmarked Funds Capping and Realignment Bill, 2017. But I am sure after subsequent consultations with the Minister for Finance that has been stood down. We agreed that we would take the Ministry of Trade and Industry and two more because of our numbers. We agreed that only one Hon Member would contribute from each side. After the Ranking Members have seconded, then Mr Speaker would put the Question. It is because of my previous position as the Minister for Trade and Industry. I ordinarily would have yielded to it. So, after we have had the Hon Fifi Kwetey spoken to it, I would highlight just a few issues, having stepped in the shoes.
Hon Minority Leader, let us just settle the issue first. I am told a number of Ministers had been here since morning. We know that they are just settling in now, and they need time to be at the Ministries. Once they have been here since morning, I believe it would be proper we give them the opportunity. So truly, we would take the seconder of a Motion in addition to one other from the Majority side and two from the Minority side, and if the mover of the Motion has some clarification to do, he or she might do so, then we would move on. Is that acceptable to the House?
Yes, Mr Speaker. We would take only the Chairmen and the Ranking Members on each Motion. If the Hon Minister has something to say after the Hon Chairman, he winds up, then we move to the next Motion. [Interruption.] We would take the Chairman and the ranking Member from the other side of the House then, the Minister would be given the opportunity to wind up.
I intend to add another Member, not just the Chairman and the ranking Member. After taking the Chairman and the ranking Member, I would take one Member from each side of the House then we would move on. So, Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, we would be guided. I understand that we have the Minister for Defence, the Minister for the Interior, the Minister for Energy and the Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection in the House. So that brings it to five. As we move on, we would know the state of the House and what Business we would be able to consider further. We would ask the First Deputy Majority Whip to encourage his Members to be seated to do the work. But Mr Speaker, I associate myself with the approval of the budget for the Ministry of Trade and Industry for the sum of GH¢269,135,747.00 for the year ending, 31st December, 2017. In doing so, I note that is not usual of the Hon Minister, in moving the Motion, he limited himself to the Motion and the amount. Knowing that he is a political stalwart, and this is the House of Parliament, we would want to hear him on some of the policy objectives that he intends to do. We know that he plays a pivotal role and would do so in moving the agenda of Government forward. Mr Speaker, I have just two brief comments. One is on the Komenda Sugar Factory. I am aware that the Indian Government provided US$24.5 million for the out grower and the irrigation development of it. It would be important to get on, so that the Komenda Sugar Factory would work more efficiently. Mr Speaker, I would draw his attention to the Mauritius transaction of the Dapele, Savelugu and Daboya Sugar factories, which can employ ten thousand persons. Mr Speaker, The experts in sugar, globally tell us that, what sugar production needs are three ingredients; land, sunshine and water. As a country, we have all. So, part of Government's commitment to reduce the Food Import Bill must be led by the Minister for Trade and Industry in order to do that. Mr Speaker, I would also support that he liaises with the President, for them to properly constitute the International Trade Commission in order that we fight anti-dumping, particularly for the cement manufacturers in Ghana. They have raised eyebrows about us depending more on imported cement to the detriment of locally produced cement, and we need to make them competitive. I know the Hon Minister would pay attention. Mr Speaker, the other issue is having rectified the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), there is some diplomatic action the Hon Minister needs to take. Nigeria is still reluctant. Ivory Coast has similar products like Ghana. If we are not careful, they would take the market away from Ghana with what they have concluded as the EPA. I know the Hon Minister has a very strong international presence, we should begin to monitor what the impact of British Exit (BREXIT) would be on our trade regime and investment regime, particularly with the United Kingdom. Then also, with trade facilitation, I know the Ghana Community Network Limited would work to improve it. Mr Speaker, finally on Ghana Export/ Import bank (EXIM). Regrettably, the Minister for Finance is not here. That has always been my position, and it remains my position. I believe honestly that the Hon Minster for Finance must allow the Hon Minister for Trade and Industry to exercise oversight over the Ghana EXIM Bank. That is what we can use to stimulate support for SMEs and the competi- tiveness of the private sector. I recalled that , when the Bill came here, I advocated strongly that the Chairman of the Ghana EXIM Bank ought to have been the Minister for Trade and Industry for good reasons. Mr Speaker, everywhere in the world, the Minister responsible for the economy is the Minister for Trade and Industry. Finance is tax revenue. You bring in revenue, expenditure and fiscal discipline, but the Minister who can change the structure of the economy is the Minister for Trade and Industry. I am also disappointed and surprised that President Akufo-Addo, even for “One District One Factory” intends to appoint the coordinator to be at the Office of the President, when he has a Ministry dedicated to the private sector which can do that. So Mr Speaker, we support this, but this new call centre the President is creating is needless. It is not necessary to go and create another coordinator for “One District/One factory.” There is the Small Scale District Industrialisation Initiative (SSDII) we initiated with the National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI), which is under the Minister for Trade and Industry. Mr Speaker, finally, irrigation development. I know with the Export Development and Investment Fund (EDAIF), and particularly with EXIM, we supported the development of Tamni, Amartey, Mpruem then Kamba in the Upper West Region, so that for large scale irrigation to support export, particularly horticultural crops in those areas, the Minister would take interest in it. Mr Speaker, my view is that, it would be economically more productive than “One Village/One Dam”, if we invest in this infrastructure. Mr Speaker, with these few words, I support the approval of the estimates for the Ministry of Trade and Industry. You have very capable men at the Ministry who would support you to succeed. Mr Speaker, also Free Zones -- with the Ministry of Finance. A lot of leakages go into it, and if you discipline it and go beyond Greater Accra Region, -- could we have a Free Zone entity in the Upper West, Upper East or the Northern Region? We must begin identifying dedicated space that can be used for that. Mr Speaker, with this, I support the Motion.
Hon Minister, do you intend to wind up? Hon Members, please, whispering is allowed, but make sure that I do not hear what you are whispering. Some of your whispers are becoming sonorous conversations.
Mr Speaker, I wish to thank the Hon Minority Leader for his kind comments, particularly, in respect of the oversight responsibility for the Ghana EXIM Bank. Mr Speaker, I also appreciate his comments about the fact that ordinarily, I would have made more substantive comments on the programmes of the Ministry. Mr Speaker, I am also mindful of the fact that a number of my colleagues here have been waiting in the queue for quite a long time, so I would allow them also to make their submissions. Mr Speaker, in conclusion, I wish to thank you and Hon Members of this august House for your very valuable and constructive input. I can assure you that the Ministry would work very closely with this House to implement what would undoubtedly become one of the most ambitious and comprehensive programmes for industrial transformation in this country. I conclude by urging Hon Members respectfully to support the Motion. Question put and Motion agreed to. Resolved: That this Honourable House approves the sum of GH¢269,135,- 747 for the services of the Ministry of Trade and Industry for the year ending 31st December, 2017.
Hon Deputy Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, respectfully, if we could take item numbered 19, the Motion for the Ministry of Energy for its Annual Estimate for 2017. ANNUAL ESTIMATES, 2017
MINISTRY OF ENERGY
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that this Honourable House approves the sum of GH¢889,710,134 for the services of the Ministry of Energy for the year ending 31st December 2017. Question proposed
Mr Speaker, I beg to support the Motion, and in so doing I present the Committee's Report. Introduction The Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the Government of Ghana for the year ending 31st December, 2017 was presented to Parliament, by the Hon Minister for Finance, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, on 2nd March, 2017, in accordance with article 179 of the 1992 Constitution. Pursuant to Orders 140 (4) and 188 of the Standing Orders of Parliament, the Rt Hon Speaker referred the BUDGET Estimates of the Ministry of Energy to the Select Committee on Mines and Energy for consideration and report to the House. Deliberations The Committee met on 21st March, 2017 and examined the estimates of the Ministry. Present at the meeting were the Hon Minister for Energy, Mr Boakye Agyarko and his technical team from the Ministry, as well as other officials of the Ministry of Finance. The Committee is grateful for their inputs and clarifications. Reference documents In considering the estimates, the Committee made reference to the under- listed documents: i. The 1992 Constitution; ii. The Standing Orders of Parliament; iii. The Renewable Energy Act, 2011 (Act 832); iv. The Energy Commission Act, 1997 (Act 541); v. The Petroleum Commission Act, 2011 (Act 821). vi. The Petroleum Revenue Management Act, 2011 (Act 815); and vii.The Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the Govern-
ment of the Republic of Ghana for the 2017 Financial Year. Agencies under the ministry The Ministry of Energy comprises the headquarters and the under-listed Agencies: Power sub-sector Energy Commission; Volta River Authority; Bui Power Authority; Ghana Grid Company; Electricity Company of Ghana; Northern Electricity Distribution Company; Volta Aluminium Company; and Volta Resettlement Trust Fund. Petroleum sub-sector National Petroleum Authority; Petroleum Commission; Ghana National Petroleum Corporation; Ghana National Gas Company; Bulk Oil Storage and Transportation Company; Tema Oil Refinery; Ghana Cylinder Manufacturing Company; and Ghana Oil Company Limited (listed on GSE). Vision and mission of the ministry The vision of the Ministry of Energy is to develop a modern diversified, efficient and financially sustainable energy economy that will ensure that all Ghanaian homes and industries have access to adequate, reliable, affordable and environmentally sustainable supply of energy to meet and support accelerated growth and development agenda envisaged for the country. The Mission of the Ministry is to develop and sustain an efficient and financially viable energy sector which provides secure, safe and reliable supply of energy to meet Ghana's developmental needs in a competitive manner. Policy/strategic objectives of the Ministry The Ministry has adopted the following policy objectives to be achieved within the short to medium term: Power sub-sector Provide adequate, reliable and affordable energy to meet the national needs and for export. End the power outages (Dumsor) in the short-term, through govern- ment liquidity injection restructuring of debts, and securing of firm commitments for the reliable supply of fuel. Reduce taxes on electricity tariffs to provide immediate relief to households and industry. Conduct a technical audit on all power sector infrastructure and develop and implement a 10-year power sector master plan, which may be reviewed in the course of implementation to meet our medium to long-term energy needs. Ensure that there is sufficient reserve margin -- the safety cushion to prevent blackouts and ensure the stability of the power system. Develop and implement an energy sector financial restructuring and recovery plan, incorporating a liquidity management mechanism for VRA, ECG, NEDCo and the BDCs. Restructure the power sector by bringing all hydro generation exclusively under VRA and create a separate thermal market. Increase the proportion of renewable energy (solar, biomass, wind, small and mini-hydro and waste- to-energy) in the national energy supply mix. Explore the options for nuclear, geo- thermal and tidal wave energy. Ensure efficient utilisation of energy. Build transparent and effective regulatory environment. Encourage public and private sector investments in the power sector; and Build adequate local human resource capacity for effective management of the energy sector. Petroleum sub-sector Create an enabling environment for sustainable activities along the oil and gas value chain. Ensure accelerated and integrated development of the oil and gas industry. Promote value-added investments, indigenisation of knowledge, expertise and technology in the oil and gas sector. Maximise local content and participation in all aspects of the petroleum value chain. Ensure adequate availability of petroleum products on the Ghanaian market. Ensure the development of the needed institutional and human resource capacity for the petroleum sector; and Ensure transparency in the management of petroleum resources. Performance of the ministry in 2016 Some of the key achievements of the Ministry for the year 2016 are as follows: Power sub-sector The following were the key achievements made by the Ministry in the power sub-sector during the year under review: Power generation A total of 880MW of power capacity was added to the country's installed generation capacity to bring the installed capacity to 4,132MW;
(GHACCO), and launched an awareness campaign on the promotion of improve cook stoves for households and agro- processing. A total of 135,930 number of stoves were distributed by the end of the third quarter of the year under review. Nuclear power programme The Ministry collaborated with the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC) and initiated a number of steps towards the development and integration of nuclear power in the national electricity generation mix. This culminated into achieving the following: Nuclear Regulatory Authority Board was established to regulate the nuclear energy sector in all spheres of nuclear application. The regulatory authority has also been mandated to come out with guidelines, procedures and regulations for the safe integration of nuclear power onto Ghana's electricity generation mix. A national roadmap for the integration of nuclear power into Ghana's energy mix was developed. The Roadmap has also been reviewed and accepted by the international Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as an effective one. A draft Nuclear Power Policy document was developed and is undergoing final review by Ghana Nuclear Power Programme Organisation and the National Development Planning Commission. The policy document is to serve as a guide for the implementation of the nuclear power programme. Petroleum sub-sector The following are some of the achievements made under the petroleum sub-sector during the year under review: Development of gas master plan (GMP) A Gas Master Plan (GMP) that seeks to address infrastructure requirements, funding and institutional mandates for gas sector agencies and gas pricing policy was approved by Cabinet. Transfer of the single point mooring (SPM) and conventional buoy mooring (CBM) facility to Government The Single Point Mooring (SPM) and Conventional Buoy Mooring (CBM) facility constructed on Build Operate and Transfer (BOT) arrangements was transferred to Government at the expiration of the ten-year concession, The facility was constructed to receive both crude oil and refined petroleum products for the domestic market. LPG policy The draft LPG policy which seeks to consolidate activities in the LPG value chain with the view to reducing HSSE risks exposure among others was developed. The draft policy has since been sent to key stakeholders for their comments. Evacuation of gas from west to east Ghana National Gas Company completed the extension of its pipeline to the battery limit of the West Africa Gas Company (WAGCo) regulatory and metering station at Aboadze, The facility is to ensure bidirectional transportation of gas between the two critical load centers of Takoradi and Tema and guarantee flexibility and security of supply. Oil production from the jubilee field In spite of the challenges experienced during the first quarter of the year due to damage on the turret bearing of the FPSO Nkrumah, oil production from the Jubilee Field for the year was 27,006,014 barrels, with an average daily production of 80,340 Gas production for the same period was 38,142 mmscfd, Tweneboa enyeran ntomme (TEN) field The TEN Field commenced production during the year with an average production rate of about 55,000 barrels per day, A total of 5,138,708 barrels of oil was produced during the year under review. Offshore cape three points project Work on the Offshore Cape Three Points (OCTP) Project progressed steadily during the year. The project is expected to deliver about 45,000 bopd and 180 mmscfd of gas, enough to generate 1000 MW of power. National strategic stock of petroleum products In line with its mandate of ensuring availability of petroleum products, BOST held over 106,979 tonnes of gasoline, and 98,400 tonnes of premium super in strategic stock during the year which averted emergency importation of petroleum products. Expenditure trends for the ministry for 2016 Petroleum sub-sector The total of forty million, two hundred and ninety-eight thousand, three hundred and thirty-one Ghana cedis, fifteen pesewas (GH¢40,298,331.15), was approved for the activities of the Ministry under the petroleum sub-sector for the 2016 Financial Year, As at the end of December, 2016, an amount of thirty-eight million, seven hundred and thirty-eight thousand, five hundred and twenty-four Ghana cedis and forty-five pesewas (GH¢38,738,524.45), had been released out of the total approved budget for the sub- sector. The details are presented in the table below: SPACE FOR TABLE 1: - PAGE 14 - 3.45 P.M. The power sub-sector An amount of one billion, one hundred and sixty million, three hundred and ninety- one thousand, four hundred and eight-five Ghana cedis and two pesewas (GH¢1,160,391,485.02), was approved for the activities of Ministry under the power sub-sector for the 2016 Financial Year. As at end of December, 2016, an amount of five hundred and forty-six million, six hundred and sixty-two thousand, five hundred and thirty-four Ghana cedis and twenty-nine pesewas (GH¢546,662,534.29), had been released out of the total approved budget for the sub-sector. The details are presented in the table below: viii. Expand the programme of promoting the use of LPG as cooking fuel in rural areas to additional 28 districts; and ix. Supply 79,060 cylinders as compared to 42,650 cylinders supplied in 2016. 2017 outlook for the power sub-sector The Ministry in the power sub-sector intends to pursue the following deliverables during the 2017 financial year: Expansion in generation capacity The Ministry intends to increase the installed generation capacity of the country by adding a total of 1,227MW to the existing installed capacity. The breakdown is as follows: 370MW AKSA project; 107MWGPGC project; 350MW CenPower Project; 400MW Early Power Project. Transmission enhancement projects Under Power Transmission, the Ministry plans to ensure the completion of the following projects: Transmission System Rehabilitation Project (TSRP) and the extension of the 161 kV system to Berekum; 330kV Prestea-Kumasi transmission line project; and Aboadze-Prestea transmission line project to ensure reliable evacuation of power from the western power generation enclave. Rural electrification The Ministry, in line with its aim of achieving universal access, intends to undertake the following projects under the rural electrification programme: Implement outstanding works on SHEP-4 project; Implement SHEP-5 pilot projects in the Northern, Upper East and Upper West regions; Implement Phase-1 of CWE project for five (5) regions; Implement Phase-1 of Hunan Project for three (3) regions; and Complete outstanding electrification projects under the US EXIM Bank Facility, being executed by Weldy Lamont and Associates. 2017 outlook for renewable energy As part of its effort to ensure reliable and sustainable energy source for accelerated economic transformation, the Ministry plans to undertake the following projects under its renewable energy programme: Utility scale renewable energy programme Complete the tender for 20MW solar PV Project; Installation of 300kw PV solar at the Ministry of Energy; Assist BPA to complete the design process for the 50MW Solar Hybrid Project; Facilitate the planning and development of the 150MW Ayitepa Wind Project; and
Ghana cedis (GH¢889,710,134.00), has been allocated to the Ministry of Energy for the implementation of its activities for the 2017 Financial Year. The breakdown of the allocation is provided in Table 3 below: SPACE FOR TABLE 3 - PAGE 18 - 3.45 P.M. SPACE FOR TABLE 4 - PAGE 19 - 3.45 P.M. Observations The following observations were made by the Committee: Local content in petroleum upstream The Committee noted that, since the passage of the Petroleum Local Content and Local Participation Regulations, 2013, (L.l. 2204), local participation in the industry in terms of capital investments, local sourcing and subcontracting has seen remarkable increase. It was further observed that, currently, about 80 per cent (80%) of the total workforce in the oil and gas industry are Ghanaians. Also, indigenous Ghanaian service providers received contracts amounting to about US$221 million in 2016. While acknowledging the impact of the Regulations on local participation in the industry, the Committee believes that, using Regulations is not the only panacea to indigenisation of the oil industry, especially, in this era of free market economy. The more sustainable approach is to develop the capacity of the local people to be able to compete fairly with the foreign companies. The Committee urges the Ministry to expedite action on the adoption of the Local Content and Local Participation Policy for the petroleum downstream which seeks to increase local content in the petroleum downstream to over 80 per cent in the next five years as a complement to other efforts. Rural LPG programme The Committee noted that, under the Rural Liquefied Petroleum Gas (RLPG) promotion programme of the Ministry, about 53,000 cylinders with cook stoves and related accessories were distributed to 43 constituencies and institutions in 2016 alone. The Committee was informed that the programme aims at reducing deforestation and the suffering of the vulnerable people in the deprived communities in terms of access to energy for cooking, as well as reducing the burden of school going children having to go and chop firewood for household use during school hours; and the anticipation that Ghana is likely to get excess gas, for which reason the use of LPG needs to be promoted. The Committee was of the view that the country seems to be overly optimistic about its projection of likely production of excess gas, given the records available which indicate mixed situations. The Committee was, however, assured by the Minister that, signals from all the gas production operators reveal a clear indication that, with the right type of incentives, it is possible for the country to produce more than the nation needs. Additional releases of ABFA to the ministry The Committee observed that the ABFA allocation approved for the Ministry on 13th November, 2016 in the annual budget was eighty million Ghana cedis (GH¢80,000,000.00). It was, however noted that, an additional ABFA amount of four hundred and forty-five million, nine hundred and thirty-eight thousand, three hundred and fifty-nine Ghana cedis and two pesewas (GH¢445,938,359.02), was spent by the Ministry during the same period. The Ministry explained to the Committee that, the additional funds were received under the Supplementary Budget approved by Parliament for the same year. The detailed information on the utilisation of the additional funds was not provided in the Ministry's 2017 budget. Capacity building for oil and gas The Committee observed that, the priority areas of spending for the expected ABFA for 2017 does not include capacity building as was the case in the previous years. The Committee therefore wondered how the Ministry could continue its effort at developing the local capacity to actively participate in the emerging Industry. The Minister assured the Committee that provisions have been made in the Ministry's budget to undertake critical capacity development programmes. The Committee further noted that, part of the 2016 allocation for capacity building for oil and gas was used to purchase equipment for some of the Technical Universities in the country. The Committee urged the Ministry to a have second look at the nature of capacity being provided under the Oil and Gas Capacity Development Agenda and where possible, develop a national oil and gas capacity building strategy to guide such spending and sponsorships. Development and integration of nuclear power in the national electricity generation mix It was further noted that, one of the ambitious objectives under the Ministry's renewable energy policy is to integrate nuclear power in the national electricity generation mix. The Committee was informed that, given its security implications and the requirements that need to be satisfied, Ghana may be able to fully integrate nuclear power into the national power supply by the year 2023. The Committee welcomed the effort of the Ministry in search of alternative sources of energy such as nuclear power, with the view to ensuring affordable and reliable energy supply to support Ghana's accelerated development agenda. The Committee therefore urges the government to adequately resource the Nuclear Regulatory Authority, to put in place the necessary safety measures to avert any unfortunate incidence occasionally associated with Nuclear Power generation. Compensation The Committee noted a huge increase of about 44.4 per cent in the vote for compensation from 2016 to 2017. A total amount of GH¢2,168,485 was approved for compensation in the year 2016. However, this amount has been increased to GH¢5, 231,642 for the year 2017. The Committee was informed that this was an anomaly which the Ministry has notified the Ministry of Finance, and the necessary steps are being taken to rectify the anomaly. Conclusion and recommendation The Committee has thoroughly examined the budget estimates of the Ministry of Energy for the 2017 fiscal year, and is satisfied that the policies and programmes outlined for the year would go a long way to support the achievement of the sector goals as set out in the Ghana Shared Growth and Development Agenda II (GSGDA II). The Committee accordingly recommends to the House to adopt its Report and approve for the Ministry of Energy, the total sum of eight hundred and eighty-nine million, seven hundred and ten thousand, one hundred and thirty-four Ghana cedis
(GH¢889,710,134.00) to undertake its planned programmes and activities for the 2017 financial year. Respectfully submitted. Question proposed.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I rise to support the Motion, that this Honourable House approves the sum of GH¢ 889,710,134, for the services of the Ministry of Energy for the year ending 31st December, 2017. Mr Speaker, when the Committee had deliberations with the Hon Minister and his team from the Ministry of Energy and its agencies, some few issues came up. I would want to draw the House's attention to those issues. Mr Speaker the first one can be found in paragraph 7.4 of the Report. Paragraph 7.4 outlines the various Regulations that would be brought to this House for passage. We realised that, when we were passing the Petroleum Explanation and Production, Act 919, the section that got a lot of debate was the process of licensing. Mr Speaker, after the debate, we were made to understand that, there would be regulations to direct the actions of the Hon Minister with respect to the power given him to cancel contracts. I thought that should be one of the first regulations which should have been brought to this House, for us to approve. Mr Speaker, when we questioned them, they responded that there was a team in
Thank you Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I rise to support the Motion on the Floor of the House, and in doing so, I would just want to make some few comments. Mr Speaker, the first one is on capacity building on oil and gas. Since Ghana found oil, there have been so many capacity building programmes. These programmes are meant to equip Ghanaians to acquire the necessary skills to enable them help the oil and gas industry. Mr Speaker, to me, the challenge as of now, is that there is no action plan which gives us the guidelines on which areas we would need to build capacity. Mr Speaker, because of this, there is the problem of monitoring and evaluating the impact of the moneys that we pump into these capacity training programmes. I would therefore wish to recommend to the Hon Minister that there should be an action plan. There should be a programme where, by the end of the year, we would be able to say that, this is what we wanted to achieve and we have achieved it. Mr Speaker, there is another issue on rural electrification. At the Committee meetings, I was not happy about the rate of accessibility which was given. We have about 83.24 per cent of Ghanaians who have access to electricity, which to me is good. However, when we asked about the criteria for coming out with the rate, it became a worry. Mr Speaker, in my Constituency, there were about 15 communities which were connected to the national grid. Unfortunately, less than 60 per cent of the people in those communities were not given metres. But in calculating accessibility, the estimated population of the community, once it is connected to the national grid, means that they have access to electricity but they do not have metres to enjoy the facility. I do not know why it is so difficult for ECG to provide the consumers with metres. They provided the power; the only thing for them is to give the consumers metres so that they could also get their money back. If ECG does not give them the metres, the probability that they would undertake illegal connection is very high. This is because they cannot live in a community where there is electricity but they do not have metres and they look on. The probability that they would do illegal connection is high, and that is also not good for ECG. Mr Speaker, the Ministry has a target of about 1,227 megawatts of power to be added to the existing installed capacity. Mr Speaker, it is very important, but what we need to look at, is how we can fuel the plants. Last year, when we went through the energy challenges, the installed capacity was there but the ability of the Ministry to power the plants was the problem. So, our attempts to have about 5,000 megawatts of power is good but we must also look at how we can finance the fuelling of those plants, so that at a point in time, we can even export the power to neighbouring countries for more cash. Mr Speaker, with these few words, I support the Motion and also respectfully encourage my Hon Colleagues to support
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to contribute to the Motion on the floor. Mr Speaker, in supporting the Motion, I would want to raise a few observations. Mr Speaker, the first observation is the tender for the 20 megawatts solar facility that the Energy Commission was asked to organise in 2015. I am happy to know that the tender has been evaluated and very soon the winner may start construction. Mr Speaker, having gone out of the emergency situation this country found itself in a couple of years ago, I believe going forward, the use of competitive tendering -- and I am very glad to know that the Hon Minister, during his vetting, alluded to this -- should become the order of the day. The reason for this, outside the emergency period, is that the emergency phase of our national life in terms of power supply is over. We have adequate generation today but we need to consistently add to the generation we have. Our history has been that any time we think we have adequate generation, we go to sleep then come five years, we are caught up in inadequate generation. But once we have moved out of the emergency situation, the tendering process, particularly with solar, become order of the day. The price of solar panels is going down on the international market and in a number of countries that have used the instrument of tender, they have had better prices than those that have used non- tender. So I would want to encourage the Hon Minister to pursue this philosophy of competitive tendering for solar. Mr Speaker, I would also want to add my voice to the need to diversify our fuel sources. In terms of power generation, even though we may have adequate installed capacity, we may be limited in our available capacity because of inadequate fuel supply. Mr Speaker, this House approved a liquefied natural gas project in 2016. This project was meant to provide us with an alternate source of fuel. I would encourage the Hon Minister and the Ministry for that matter to pursue this aggressively. Once it has been proved historically that the West African gas pipeline is more noted for its unreliability than its reliability, it has become critical that we have this alternate liquefied natural gas facility in place. Mr Speaker, in winding up, I would also encourage the Hon Minister to bring to this House a Regulations for local content in the power sector. Mr Speaker, presently, we have at least five metre manufacturing companies in this country. We also have a solar panel manufacturing company but we can do far more than this. If we have the appropriate local content policy in place for the power sector, both Ghanaian and foreign investors would be encouraged with the appropriate incentives to come and invest in the power sector. We are fortunate to be located at the very centre of West Africa. For example, our cable manufacturing companies have attained the appropriate International Standards Organisation (ISO) standards. Therefore, if the State makes a conscious effort to encourage local production of power sector accessories, this country can become a major exporter of power equipment and its accessories. Mr Speaker, with these few words, I support and call on this House to approve the budget for the Ministry of Energy. Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity. 4. 15 p. m.
Mr Speaker, I beg to associate myself and to speak in support of the Motion that this honourable House adopts the Report and approve for the Ministry of Energy the total sum of GH¢889,710,134 to undertake its planned activities. Mr Speaker, the energy sector remains such a critical one in our economy. If we would want to be successful in the growth of the economy, we need to assure ourselves of energy security. We are privileged and lucky today as a country to be a petroleum producing country. What is needed is prudent and judicious use of our energy resources. I note with satisfaction, the efforts to increase access to electricity in the Committee's Report on paragraph 7.1 -- “Increase access of electricity from 83.24 to 85 per cent”. That is not too ambitious. I am sure the Hon Minister can do more than that. He should look at 90 per cent. We are currently at 83.24 per cent and given the resources that we have, we should be able to see more communities connected to rural electrification. I believe many of them are just in Brong Ahafo Region, Volta Region, Upper West, Upper East and the Northern Region to conclude. Mr Speaker, the other issue that I want to draw the Hon Minister's attention is, Mr Speaker, the US Government is
Hon Minister for Energy, do you intend to wind up?
Thank you Mr Speaker. First, I am grateful for the opportunity to present the Budget Estimates of the Ministry of Energy for your consideration and approval. In sum, our basic focus is three-fold: prepare the balance sheet of all the sector agencies so that they can perform creditably, secondly keep the lights on and thirdly keep transportation running. Mr Speaker, we face an urgency now in our Energy sector that requires that we would, with efficiency and judiciousness use all the resources that this august House would put at our disposal. And that is the commitment we in the Ministry wish to make. With respect to the most useful comments that have come from the floor, I wish to state that we would aggressively continue rural electrification for the benefit of our citizens. We would expand the space of distributed solar power generation to reduce the bills of the various entities and I have made a commitment that, to ensure that this building, which is the House of Parliament, as soon as possible benefits from solar power generation for its own use. We take note of the need to diversify fuel sources and secure same. Question put and Motion agreed to. Resolved: That this Honourable House approves the sum of GH¢889,710,- 134 for the services of the Ministry of Energy for the year ending 31st December, 2017.
Hon Deputy Majority Leader?
Thank you Mr Speaker. Respectfully, we could take item numbered 13 on the Order Paper at page 6 -- Ministry of Defence Budget Estimates. Thank you Mr Speaker.
Motion number 13 on page 6 of the Order Paper, Hon Minister for Defence? ANNUAL ESTIMATES, 2017 Ministry of Defence
Mr Speaker, I beg to support the Motion for the approval of the Budget Estimates for the Ministry of Defence. In doing so, I wish to underscore the point that the Ministry of Defence, plays a very critical role in the defence of our territorial integrity through air, land and sea. That function and its discharge has become more imperative after Ghana joined the league of nations which produce oil. So we would have to retool the forces to be able to safeguard our territorial integrity, including our marine resources. Mr Speaker, unfortunately, the Com- mittee made a very important observation which was to the effect that for four years running, the Ministry of Defence has not had any allocation for capital expenditure. What that means is that the Ministry is unable to purchase and re-equip the various branches of the Ghana Armed Forces, namely; the air force, navy and army. I wish to underscore the point that even if we are not at loggerheads with our neighbours, terrorism has now become an existential threat. So we must do everything within our means to ensure that what is due the armed forces is given to them so that they could adequately retool and reequip, so that in the event of any eventualities, they could live up to expectation. Mr Speaker, in conclusion, one other observation was made and I need to bring that to the attention of the House. It has got to do with the military hospital which is under construction in Kumasi. The Ministry was unable to ade- quately brief the Committee on the finances of that particular project because, they argued among others, that the finances are directly handled by the Ministry of Finance. We found that to be unfortunate because, that is the Ministry which has oversight responsibility over the project. That project stands in the name of the Ministry of Defence, so they should be in the position to adequately brief the Committee about where they have reached in terms of the construction and outstanding financial obligations. Mr Speaker, our call is for the Ministry of Finance to resolve all outstanding issues in respect of the financing of that project with the full knowledge of the Ministry of Defence so that, as and when they are called upon to give any briefing [MAJ. ODURO (RETD) ] [MAJ. ODURO (RETD) ] in relations to that project, they would not be found wanting. Mr Speaker, with these few words, I support that the Motion should be approved by the House. Thank you.
Hon Member, please, your Committee would have to take on board the fact that this was part of the number of medical facilities that were approved by this House on the 20th of November, 2008. You can crosscheck from those documents and you would know why they are under the Ministry of Finance.
Very well, Mr Speaker.
I believe Hon Members are very much interested to contribute to the Motion but we have so many things to do. I pleaded with all of you and I believe that Leadership accepted that plea so, we should move on -- unless you insist.
Hon Minister for Defence, do you have anything to say?
Mr Speaker, I would just want to thank Hon Members sincerely for their very brief comments, and to assure them that we would make do with what we have. I would also want to assure them that the Kumasi project would continue. We have had series of meetings since yesterday over it and the assurance has been given that, that project would continue. The resources were accrued into an account and it is being monitored by the Ministry of Finance. I would want to assure the Hon Member that the project would continue and we have made plans to recruit people. The Special Medical Intake that were commissioned into the Ghana Armed Forces today, are part of the people who would work there when the facility is finally completed. Mr Speaker, I would want to thank you as well for the opportunity to get the House to approve the sum of GH¢821,772,914 for the Ministry of Defence for the year ending 31st December, 2017. Question put and Motion agreed to. Resolved: That this honourable House approves the sum of GH¢821,772,914 for the services of the Ministry of Defence for the year ending 31st December 2017.
Yes, Hon Deputy Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, we could move on to item numbered 14 which is on page 6 of the Order Paper -- the Annual Estimate of the Ministry of the Interior.
Yes, Hon Minister for the Interior? ANNUAL ESTIMATES, 2017 Ministry of the Interior
Yes, Hon James Agalga?
Mr Speaker, I beg to support the Motion ably moved by the Hon Minister for the Interior. Mr Speaker, I would wish to state that, the Ministry of the Interior is one particular Ministry which has so many agencies under its watch so, there is always the temptation to pay particular attention to the larger agencies under that Ministry. Mr Speaker, the Hon Chairman of the Committee was not mistaking when he stated that some of the agencies of the Ministry are actually housed in rented accommodation. Some of them have been threatened and issued with eviction notices because of the failure of the Ministry of Finance to release moneys allocated to the Ministry for its operations in a timeous way. Mr Speaker, this House passed a number of legislations which were very useful for the effective operations of some of the agencies under the Ministry namely; the Ghana Immigration Service, the National Disaster Management Organisation, the Ghana Prison Service Regulations et cetera. Mr Speaker, the problem that remains to be resolved now is the will of the Ministry of Finance to honour some of the obligations imposed on it as a result of the passage of some legislations. A classical example is the Ghana Immigration Service Act, which now makes it possible for the Service to bear arms. Mr Speaker, it was very clear in the Budget Statement that, the Ghana Immigration Service had also not received its capital expenditure for some time now. So, even though the Act was passed and it entitled them to bear arms, they have a challenge in purchasing those arms, so that they could effectively police our borders. So it is an issue that needs to be looked at critically. Mr Speaker, additionally, the National Disaster Management Organisation Bill was also passed into law and in it, the National Disaster Management Fund was established. What remains to be done is the creation of the National Disaster Management Fund with the allocation of 3 per cent of the Common Fund into that Fund for the effective management of disasters. Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister has given the assurance that he would work very closely with the Hon Minister for Finance to ensure that, that allocation is effected, so that we could properly manage disasters in this country. Mr Speaker, with these few words, I wish to once again support the Motion.
Hon Minority Leader, I can see one of your men behind you; the former Director- General of the Prison Service. Just give him a bite of the cherry.
Mr Speaker, I also beg to support the Motion on the Floor. Mr Speaker, with regards to the agencies, I believe that they have been working under very extreme constraints due to inadequate budget provisions. For instance, the Ghana Prisons Service feeds the inmates at GH¢1.80 per day. And even this amount is outstanding. We have not paid the contractors and they are demanding the payment of their outstanding bills to enable them to continue supplying foodstuffs to the prisoners. Mr Speaker, overcrowding is a very serious issue within the prisons. Currently, the Ghana Prison Service holds fourteen thousand inmates instead of the authorised capacity of eight thousand. This is a very serious constraint. Mr Speaker, the “Justice for all Programme” was introduced to address the overcrowding situation. But this is not enough. I believe that the alternative to imprisonment, or the Non-custodial Sentence Bill, which is before the office of the Attorney-General needs to be expedited and brought before this House for consideration. Mr Speaker, the Prisons Service, sometime ago, under the PNDC era, introduced the settlement fund concept, where inmates are transferred to prison settlement camps to engage in agricultural activities. The large tracks of land acquired by the Prison Service can also be utilised to help produce food to reduce the cost of ration bills within the Prison Service, and the extra money that is accrued from the budget could be used for other logistic requirements of the Ghana Prison Service. Mr Speaker, if we look at bills for petroleum products, the Police Service are in serious arrears just as the Prisons Service and other agencies under the Ministry. Mr Speaker, it appears that it is when the crumbs are left that these agencies which provide vital services to this country, are considered. It is high time we looked at the budgetary allocation to all the agencies under the Ministry and give them adequate support, so that the Prison Service, for instance, could go back into their agricultural activities to help produce food to support the inmates and the nation. Mr Speaker, I plead that this House considers the Prisons, the Police, the Fire Service, and the Immigration Service, and indeed, the entire agencies under the Ministry of the Interior in the mid-year review Budget, so that, specific allocations could be given to them. Mr Speaker, the operational needs of these agencies is very vital. Lack of communication equipment for Immigration Service, lack of arms and ammunition for the Service, and for that matter, the tools with which they require to perform their duties are not provided because, the Goods and Services votes are woefully inadequate. Mr Speaker, with these few words, I want to support the Motion on the Floor and to thank you for the opportunity given me.
Mr Speaker, I will endeavour to keep my contribution as brief and short as the dance of an old woman; brief, sweet and short. Mr Speaker, in contributing to support the Motion for the approval for that sum of money for the running of the Ministry of the Interior— Mr Speaker, just to bring two urgent matters for the attention of the Minister. One, Mr Speaker, is with the Ghana Prisons Service. I visited them in my capacity then as Minister for Labour and Employment, and there is a certain injustice that they feel that they are victims of. That is within the service today, compared to the military, immigration and police; they suffer in the service when it comes to the computation of their pensions and matters that relate to their basic salaries when they compare their status to those of the Ghana Police Service. They reported that they are now witnessing some deaths out of men who retired from the Service. Mr Speaker, this House, in considering the Police Service and the Immigration Regulations, did some good to the Ghana Police Service and other security agencies so the Ghana Prisons Service deserves same. The Hon Minister must advert his mind to it. I recall that, when I visited them, they said they cannot demonstrate or go on strike but they can look on and allow prisoners to scale the walls as a way of protest. Mr Speaker, the other problem is with accommodation. In doing so, I may relate it to both Ministers for the Interior and Defence, that the acute shortage of housing for men and women in uniform is a worrying trend that I believe both Ministers would also consider for urgent intervention. In fact, I drive through Bawa Barracks and through Kamina Barracks every other fortnight to a month and as one drives through, even though we are dealing with Ministry of the Interior as I understand, the soldiers, main complaint is that of accommodation. Mr Speaker, you can just see as you drive through good land lying down fallow and there is no opportunity of providing housing for them. It runs through from Bawa Barracks through the barracks in Sunyani and through Kumasi and others. Mr Speaker, it is the same for the Ghana Police Service; apart from the Police at the police park area in Tamale, many of them are forced to rent residential accommodation in other parts of the town. That affects morale and motivation. As we know, there has been an improvement in fighting crime, and crime statistics today stand better and improved than it was a few years ago. Mr Speaker, in concluding, let me encourage the Hon Minister that, to fight the illicit drug trade, there was a move to convert Narcotic Control Board (NACOB) into a Commission. I believe that the Bill is long overdue for Parliament to consider and strengthen it to give it more powers. Mr Speaker, with the National Peace Council, Ghana, again, has set a good example and we have become the envy of many nations that they are not that active and proactive and they therefore, need the Hon Minister's support for them to identify some other areas that they can give the support. Mr Speaker, my final comment is on issuance of visas. Some time back here, there was debate on this Floor as to whether issuing of visa was the mandate of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the Ministry of the Interior. I recall that our position and that of the House was that everywhere in the world, you have the Ministry for Homeland Affairs or Home Affairs, which is the Minister for the Interior, who is responsible. We have passed the Immigration Act so the Hon Minister must take steps to work with the Hon Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration because, Ghanaians abroad still complain that, when they visit our missions, they suffer. This is because they would sometimes book the flight ahead anticipating that, the visa would be issued early, and they would be told to cancel and reschedule the flight at the cost to the person; so that he would take interest in actualising the provisions of the Immigration Act and then the accompanying Regulations that went with it. Mr Speaker, I also recall that as the then Minister for Communications, with the support of World Bank, we implemented e-immigration but that is largely at the airport. We would need to have it at every point of entry so that there is coordination in terms of data. In the world of tourism, we cannot leave these matters for granted. We should at all times know who is entering this country and for what purpose. Then the granting of permit -- who gets that? In the era of terrorism, that is also important so that we would not put our hands on our heads tomorrow crying that we do not know how the terrorist got in, to strike at us. Mr Speaker, with these comments, I support the approval and to urge the Hon Minister that the “Invincible forces” is not statutory; it is not a creature of any statute therefore, he must rake them in and make sure that we can hold them accountable tomorrow. If it is the Ghana Armed Forces, we can demand responsibility here in Parliament. We can demand responsibility from the police; we do not want to hear any lawless group of persons parade that they are “invincible forces”. This country is governed by law and the law must be respected. Fortunately, the Hon Minister for the Interior is himself a respected lawyer. The principle of equality of the law; I know he would uphold it. Mr Speaker, I am done. Thank you.
Mr Speaker, I would want to thank Hon Members for their insightful comments and I would want to assure them that I would be guided by their explanations and pieces of advice. Thank you.
Thank you. Question put and Motion agreed to. Resolved: That this Honourable House approves the sum of GH¢1,571,673,127 for the services of the Ministry of the Interior for the year ending 31st December, 2017. Hon Members, it is important I remind you that when one wants to cross the aisle, one has to acknowledge the authority of the Mace. I have seen many of you just criss-crossing. It is not the Speaker, it is the authority of the Mace that you are acknowledging. Please, you would have to stand to face and acknowledge the Mace. You do not do it sideways or you just do not choose to ignore it because if the Mace decide to catch you, you would be in trouble.
Mr Speaker, respectfully, standing on the authority of Standing Order 53 (2), I crave your indulgence and ask for leave to go back and lay some Papers, if leave is granted. [Pause.] Mr Speaker, respectfully, we may lay item numbered 6 (d) on page two of the Order Paper. Hon Kofi Brako who is a member of the Committee would do so instead of the Chairman of the Committee. Thank you.
Are you mentioning item number 6 (d) on the Order Paper?
Yes, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, there are a number of Motions on the Order Paper. But at this moment, the sense and feeling of the House is that we should adjourn. In view of that, and in the absence of any further Business, the House can be adjourned.
What is the sense of the House? [Interruption.] I see quite a number of Hon Members present and I must commend them for their endurance, and also staying up to this time. But I also see a Minister or two still available. I do not know whether their Reports are ready.
Let me listen to the Hon Minority Leader. I will come back to you.
Mr Speaker, as you assumed the Chair, the understanding was to consider the Motions for the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Energy, the Interior, Defence and Gender, Children and Social Protection. We should know why the Hon Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection had been here but we are not taking hers. But Mr Speaker, what amazes me is the Hon Deputy Majority Leader's ability to gauge the feeling of the House. [Laughter.] I wonder how she gauged -- [Interruption.] -- She can gauge the sense but to go further to know the feeling of the House -- [Laughter.] Let us hear the Hon Deputy Majority Leader, what she has up her sleeves after gauging our feelings. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, women are known to be very emotional and we give birth to the men. Many women here too have the same feeling. I believe that having sat since morning -- It is true that the Hon Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection is here and we had earlier indicated to Mr Speaker and the entire House we were going to take her Motion. That notwithstanding, the Hon Chairman of the Committee has indicated that, he has conferred with the Hon Minister and also with the Leadership on this Side of the House and if Mr Speaker would allow, we would take the Motion for the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection on Monday. So, in the absence of any further Business, Mr Speaker can adjourn the House. I thank you.
Mr Speaker, given the time, you have already appreciated the sacrifice and tenacity of Hon Members. So we are in your good hands. Except to add that Chairpersons and Ranking Members of Committees should endeavour to finalise their Reports early. We take many of these Annual Estimates with some Hon Members still complaining that they are not able to lay hands on the finalised Report. It is important that Hon Members are respected and the Committees Reports made available to them, not just to a few Members, in order that we can enrich the debates and track the process. So, we are in your hands, Mr Speaker. Thank you.
Hon Members, I recall that it was Mother Teresa who said that a woman looks with her heart but feels with her eyes. So you would appreciate why the Hon Deputy Majority Leader could feel with her eyes. [Laughter.] I would want to plead with you for us to take that one item. I believe that it would be fair to the Hon Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection because she has been here since morning. I believe we can take it and then call it a day.
Mr Speaker, just as I indicated earlier, we very much appreciate your direction that we take the Motion. But respectfully, there ought to be a few conference on both Sides of the House between the Hon Chairman and the Hon Ranking Member of the Committee. They would need to agree on a few things. So, if Mr Speaker would allow that we adjourn the House --
If the Report is not ready, we cannot compel her to move the Motion.
Rightly so, Mr Speaker.
In the circumstances, we would take an adjournment. This House stands adjourned till Monday when we shall reconvene at 10.00 a.m. to continue with Business.
The House was adjourned at 5.12 p.m. till Monday, 27th March, 2017, at 10.00 a.m.