VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS AND THE OFFICIAL REPORT
Hon Members, item numbered 2 -- Correction of Votes and Proceedings and the Official Report. Hon Members, Votes and Proceedings dated Tuesday, 6th June, 2017. Page 1, 2, 3…11 —
None Mr Speaker, on page 11, I was present at the meeting of the Subsidiary Legislation Committee, but I cannot find my name there.
Thank you very much. Page 12 — Hon Members, the Votes and Proceedings of Tuesday, 6th June, 2017, as corrected are hereby adopted as the true record of proceedings.
[No correction was made to the Official Report of Thursday, 1st June, 2017.]
Yes, Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I have been attempting to catch your eye, and may I respectfully refer you to Standing Order 53 (1) (d). Today, as we speak, the President of the Republic of Ghana, H. E Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo is abroad on official duties. Pursuant to article 59 of the 1992 Constitution, and Mr Speaker, with your indulgence, I beg to quote: “The President shall not leave Ghana without prior notification in writing, signed by him and addressed to the Speaker of Parliament.” Mr Speaker, as we speak, the people of Ghana deserve to know the whereabouts of the number one citizen of the country. [Laughter.] We do not know of his whereabouts, Mr Speaker. [Interruption.] But our Standing Orders require message from the President. You should have official communication from him indicating to the people's representatives, where he is and what he is doing for us to wish him well.
Hon Majority Leader, where is your President? [Laughter.] We have no official communication from the President. Where is your President of the Republic of Ghana? [Laughter.] Mr Speaker, the President swore an oath and that oath is to uphold the Constitution of the Republic of Ghana. He is showing disrespect to the provisions of articles 59 and 60 of the 1992 Constitution. We must know who will act in his stead. So, let us have the official communication. Thank you.
Hon Minority Leader, I will respond to you in a moment. In the meantime, we shall continue. [Uproar.] [Interruption.] Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu — rose
Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minority Leader has raised an issue and by the Standing Order that he quoted, Standing Order 53 (1) (d); in much the same way, Standing Order 53 (2) provides: “By leave of Mr Speaker, the Order of Business set out in the Order Paper may be altered on any particular day.” Mr Speaker, so, whereas the guide is provided for under Order 53 (1), under Order 53 (2), that Order can be altered. So, when Mr Speaker says that he would respond appropriately to that, it should be taken in good faith.
Hon Mahama Ayariga?
ORAL ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS
MINISTRY OF AGRICULTURE
Mr Speaker, the full complement of the membership of the Board of the Cotton Development Authority has been submitted to the Presidency for approval. Upon receipt of final approval, the Minister for Agriculture will inaugurate the Board.
Mr Speaker, do I have the full assurance of the Hon Minister for Agriculture that the Cotton Development Authority would be adequately financed to implement its objectives? [Interrup- tion.]
Mr Speaker, I could hardly hear half of his Question. So, if he can please repeat the Question.
Mr Speaker, may I know from the Hon Minister within what reasonable frame of time he would be expecting the response from the President.
Mr Speaker, within a reasonable period of time. [Laughter.]
Mr Speaker, I would want to find out from the Hon Minister when the full complement of the membership was submitted to the Presidency?
Mr Speaker, it was submitted about six weeks ago. Mr Shaibu Mahama — rose --
Mr Speaker, I am grateful. Mr Speaker, may I know from the Hon Minister why it would take more than six weeks to process membership approval of a board?
Mr Speaker, it really depends upon the opinion of the Hon Member of Parliament. I believe the Cotton Development Authority is not the only Authority which is waiting for the inauguration of its Board. The priority lies with the Presidency and not with my Ministry. So, I cannot really proffer any explanation on that score. Thank you.
Mr Speaker, I would want to know from the Hon Minister, whether the establishment
Mr Speaker, if the Hon Member cares to look at the Manifesto of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) at the last election, cotton is specifically mentioned as a major crop for development in the northern sector. Of course, it is very important. [Hear! Hear!]
Any other thing? Mr Ebenezer Okletey Terlabi -- rose
Yes, Hon Member?
Thank you, Mr Speaker. It is for that reason that we would want to know why it has taken the President -- especially, since they have prioritised the cotton sector -- more than six weeks to get the Board in place. We would want to know what is holding it. This is because as an Hon Minister, he must know. I am sure if he is interested and if he believes in the vision of the President, he should find out what is keeping him, whether there are names there that he does not want or whatever.
Mr Speaker, for the information of the Hon Member, we have quite a number of boards under the Ministry of Agriculture, and only a few of them have been inaugurated. So, given the importance of cotton, I guess the President is taking it so seriously and he wants to be sure that a very competent board is in place. [Hear! Hear!]
Mr Speaker, does my Hon Colleague share my concern that the delay in inaugurating the Board for the Cotton Development Authority puts at risk efforts at gaining dividends from the industry?
Mr Speaker, I can assure the Hon Member that, that is not the case at all. In fact, only three weeks ago, one of my Hon Deputy Ministers flew to Tamale for a meeting to determine the minimum price for cotton. So, everything is going on to ensure that cotton farmers are well catered for. We are just waiting for the President to confirm to us and then we would go ahead and confirm the Board. There is an Executive Director who is in touch with me constantly. He has an office in Accra and he has an office in Tamale, so, there is nothing amiss at all; I can assure the Hon Member.
The last Question will be asked by the Hon Member.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, in answering the Question, the Hon Minister indicated that one of his Deputy Ministers was in Tamale. I would like to find out from the Hon Minister the tonnage he expects to harvest at the end of the year -- [Interruption] -- And at what minimum price ceiling did his Deputy Minister agree with the farmers, so that our farmers who are listening can begin to plan properly? [Hear! Hear!]
Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, Standing Order 69 (1) provides, and with your permission, I beg to read: “As soon as a Question is answered in the House any Member beginning with the Member who asked the Question may, without notice, ask a supplementary Question for the further elucidation of any matter of fact regarding which the answer has been given, but a supplementary Question must not be used to introduce matter not included in the Original Question.” Mr Speaker, the matter he wants to inject is not contained in the Original Question, so, Mr Speaker, you may disallow it. Thank you very much.
The purported question approaches a new area. The Hon Member is entitled to bring a Question in that direction, if he is so inclined. Thank you.
Sit down! Sit down!
Coming from the Leadership bench, Hon Leader, do you want to ask a question? I will give you that privilege.
Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, I would want to know whether he is considering reminding H. E. the President of how soon the full authority will be given to him for the Cotton Board to be inaugurated. I know COCOBOD's has been done a long time ago.
Mr Speaker, I shudder at the thought of ‘remanding' my P r e s i d e n t . [Laughter.] It will not happen.
Hon Leader, for your Leadership position, I would allow. You may continue.
Mr Speaker, I would like to enquire from the Hon Minister, this is because he said he submitted the full complement of the Board to the President six weeks ago. We are aware some of the Boards have been inaugurated, especially that of Ghana Cocoa Board. So, I asked whether he would consider drawing the attention of H. E. the President to the list that has been submitted to him for the establishment of the Cotton Thank you for the opportunity.
Mr Speaker, I can sense some clarity this time in the question and I can assure him -- [Laughter.]
Hon Members, decorum.
Mr Speaker, I can assure my good Friend, Hon Ahmed Ibrahim that I will take any opportunity to do that. This is because it is important that we get these boards up and running. So, there is no question that there will be any delay. I guess it is the heavy load of work which is causing it. I am sure it will be alright.
Thank you very much, Hon Minister for attending to the House and answering our Questions. You are discharged. Order! -- Hon Members, are we interested in the facts of the matter?
Mr Speaker -- [Uproar.] [Interruption.]
Hon Members, we would treat all Hon Ministers invited to this Honourable House with due regard. We shall not make comments like, “sit down”. Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, thank you very much.
Hon Minority Leader, please, there is nothing like if he wanted to volunteer information, he could have walked to this Honourable House on his own and all those. That does not help decorous debate. I hope Hon Members, we all understand this simple statement. You could make that statement without saying if he wanted to walk into this Honourable House by himself -- it is not necessary. The Hon Minority Leader need not withdraw anything. I have advised him. He may continue.
Mr Speaker, rightly so; I take guidance from you.
Thank you, proceed.
Mr Speaker, this is just to emphasise that this Statement is in response to our request for complement of documentation related to the issuance; such as the original agreement, bid document, prospectus, issuance calendar, initial pricing document, issuance summary, date of bond closure, participants and the currency or denomination. It is only fair and appropriate that before he proceeds to make the Statement, we are apprised of the full complement of these documentations -- [Interruption] -- or assured that at the end of it, we would have these in response to the Half Hour Motion we accordingly filed. Mr Speaker, I so submit.
Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I seconded the Half- Hour Motion moved by the Hon Minority Leader. Mr Speaker, we agreed on the modus at the pre-Sitting meeting; we agreed on the vehicle to address this matter, which was a Half- Hour Motion. We chose the Half- Hour Motion knowing that by it, Hon Members would not be permitted to come by way of diluting the original Motion with amendments. That explains why when he moved the Half -Hour Motion, I seconded it. Mr Speaker, what did the House anticipate from the Hon Minister? The Motion was moved, seconded and no other comments were allowed and we agreed at the pre-Sitting meeting that the Hon Minister must come by a Statement to respond and having done so, if there are any supporting documents, those documents would be tabled. Mr Speaker, that may not foreclose the issue. If further to that Hon Members, having apprised themselves of the documents, feel that they should come by another way, Mr Speaker, so be it. This is the House and unlike what obtained previously, we have moved the Motion and that was why we agreed to be together in this. The documents that the Hon Minority Leader is requesting, I was just served a copy, I did not keep it. I do not have it now and I have given it to the Hon Minority Leader just before the Hon Minister comes and he passed it on to the Hon Ranking Member. That is how it is. Mr Speaker, it is not good enough for it to appear as if somebody is hiding something from somebody -- [Inter- ruption.] But let us move by listening to the Hon Minister and as I said, if there are other matters, we could subsequently talk about those other matters. For now, we have invited the Hon Minister to come and make a Statement. So, after, if the document is tabled, it may become relevant for all Hon Members to be served with copies of those annexures. As I speak, I do not have anything before me. Mr Speaker, let us take it from there and I guess that at the end of the day, the House would be satisfied.
Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minori ty Leader says tha t -- [Uproar]-- Sorry, Hon Majority Leader and former Hon Minority Leader. [Interruption.]
Mr Speaker, the Hon Member is worried today, he was asking for a Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) report when he was here. [Laughter.] Let the Hon Minister respond.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minority Leader who does not know where he is and he is describing me as the Hon Minority Leader -- [Laughter.] Mr Speaker, and because he cannot define his bearings, he is mixing consensus building and unanimity. The two cannot be the same. We arrived at a consensus; we might not have attained unanimity, but certainly there was consensus. [Interruption.] He who does not understand “optical illusion”, what is “consensus” and what is “unanimity”? [Laughter.] Mr Speaker, let us build on. The issue is that we agreed, and if Mr Speaker, with your permission, I should quote myself from column 72 of the Hansard of 31st May, 2017, what I said in seconding the Motion, is as follows: “Mr Speaker, I believe it is important for us to congregate around this matter in order for the Hon Minister to come. What is not good is to engage in tirades, even when we have not seen the disclosure that we anticipate.” Mr Speaker, this is precisely what the Hon Minority Leader is seeking to do now. We have not seen it and he starts the tirades even on the floor. I said that let us listen to the Hon Minister; was he to walk here and deliver just the paper and walk away? Mr Speaker, I said; “Let us listen to the Hon Minister, and I believe it would be imperative if we all join ranks for the Hon Minister to come by a Statement to explain the various issues involved.” [Interruption.] -- Mr Speaker, subsequently, we said the Hon Minister himself must come to respond to the issues. If it was just the laying of documents, we would not have insisted that the Hon Minister comes here. He could have sent any of the Hon Deputy Ministers to come and lay the documents and go away. The insistence of the House was that he should personally come, given the weight of the issues, to respond by way of Statement. And that is why I am surprised about the way we are swaying left and right. Mr Speaker, you put the Question after I had encapsulated the sense in the House. [Uproar.] I seconded it. The Hon Inusah Fuseini is saying that I did not move the Motion. Yes, if I had not seconded it, there would not have been anything before the House. That is what he should know. [Hear! Hear!] The critical junction that we are is for the Hon Minister to respond to it and thereafter, he would table the relevant documents. If Hon Members are not satisfied with it, we could subsequently deal with it. I guess that is the way to go.
Mr Speaker, I am also holding the same Official Report of 31st May, 2017, column 74 and for your purposes, I would beg to quote, and Mr Speaker, I am quoting you. “In order to avoid being in a void, the Hon Minister for Finance would have one week from today to present the relevant documents and appear before this Honourable House accordingly”. Mr Speaker, where are the relevant documents? [Uproar.] These were the words of Mr Speaker. So, he should present the documents and speak to it. The Hon Majority Leader conveniently ended where the world of his words ended, but he knows and must know that in this House, we are at your behest. These were the Speaker's words. We are simply saying that he has given us documents, let us have the full complement of the documentation. Mr Speaker, in fact, I could further quote you in column 69, which was your introductory remarks. You said that: “It must be made clear that it is not a substitute for a Statement …” When you were admitting the Half- Hour Motion. Mr Speaker, and you even added, that uniquely, it was rare and had not been used. Mr Speaker, so, we would want the full complements. Thank you.
Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I believe we are just prolonging the issue because I do not see any value addition in this. We have invited the Hon Minister and so, let him come and make the Statement.
Hon Members, last week, a Half- Hour Motion was moved by the Hon Minority Leader and it was seconded by the Hon Majority Leader and the House was together in this matter. The agreement about the vehicle chosen after the Motion had been moved was that the Hon Minister should come by a Statement to respond to the Motion. The Question was put and it was unanimously carried. The Hon Minister is here, at the instance of this Honourable House to respond to the demand of the House. The Hon Minister would give a Statement and any other relevant document akin to the relevant document I earlier referred to would be tabled by the Hon Minister after the Statement. Hon Minister, you may make your Statement and table the documents that you have before us this afternoon.
Mr Speaker, Hon Members of Parliament, at the second Sitting of Parliament on Wednesday, 31st May, 2017, the Rt Hon Speaker gave a directive for me to appear before this august House to make a Statement on the recent US$2.25 billion issuance and this was based on a Motion by the Hon Minority Leader, Mr Haruna Iddrisu, and adopted by the House. Mr Speaker, it is good to be here and I am sorry that I am not in my traditional white but -- [Interruption] -- Mr Speaker, I lost my cousin, Michael Ofori- Atta and a few days ago, I also visited Major Adam Mahama. It is unfortunate for the righteous to perish, but we pray, Lord, that they have been spared the evil in our society. Mr Speaker, my presence here is to make a Statement as per the Motion. So, I would present the Statement and respectfully request the Hansard Department to capture the Statement and all its attachments in full.
SPACE FOR HALF HOUR
SPACE FOR TABLE OF
It is one of the world's largest asset management groups, with over US$850 billion in Assets Under Management (AUM) on behalf of over 25 million private, professional and institutional investors, as at September 30, 2014. It was founded in New York City in 1947. It is listed on the New York Stock Exchange, under the ticker symbol BEN, in honour of Benjamin Franklin, for whom the company is named after. In all my Wall Street years, I never had the opportunity to meet the founder, Rupert Harris Johnson Sr, who retired in 1956 and died in March 1989, aged 89. Like our previous bonds, these bonds were issued in a competitive and transparent bidding process, managed by our Joint Book Runners (JBRs), namely: Barclays, Stanbic and SAS, who were appointed in 2015 under the previous Government. As the normal practice since the book building process began in 2015, the Joint Book Runners announced the sale of the bonds, as per the second quarter Issuance Calendar. Subsequently, primary dealers who are mostly banks, mobilised interested foreign and local investors to participate in the sale. External investors have been participating in our domestic medium term debt instruments of tenure, 3-years and above, since 2006. Background Mr Speaker, as you may recall, I came to this august House on 2nd March, 2017, to present the Budget Statement and Economic Policy of Government for 2017. In the Statement, I highlighted in paragraphs 850 and 851 the portfolio risk in our public debt stock, which included risks associated with interest rate uncertainties and auction failures. Total auction failures for 10 weeks continuous in the first quarter of 2017 amounted to about GH¢ 2 billion. Further auction failures in the second quarter would have meant Ghana defaulting in repaying maturing bills. Mr Speaker, on a weekly basis, the average maturing domestic debt amounts to about GH¢1.0 billion, an increase of about 100 per cent from the 2014 average maturities. This level of maturities are about a third of the monthly tax revenue collection by the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA). It is interesting to note that a large proportion of the weekly maturing bills are 91 and 182-day treasury bills which we inherited. This development poses a significant risk to Ghana's debt dynamics. Our preferred solution was not to add more debt to the already heavy burden which Ghanaians have had to carry. Consequently, the 2017 Budget announced the debt management strategy of re-profiling the domestic debt by refinancing a greater proportion of shorter-dated debt instruments with longer-dated instruments, as a risk mitigating measure. Our expectation was that this clever and responsible way of managing the Ghanaian economy would be celebrated not only by the majority of Ghanaians, as it is indeed the case, but also by our friends on the other side of the aisle, who must take full credit for the remarkable feat of increasing Ghana's debt profile from GH¢ 36 billion in 2012 to GH¢122.3 billion in 2016. As part of measures to implement the new debt management strategy, the Ministry published the second quarter Issuance Calendar on 30th March, 2017. In this calendar, Government announced plans to issue a total amount of GH¢ 2.50 billion, of which GH¢14.09 billion was to rollover maturities, GH¢2.55 billion was to be fresh issuance to meet Government's budget financing requirements and the remaining amount of GH¢5.6 billion, allocated for debt re-profiling. Recent Analysis of Ghana's Debt Portfolio Mr Speaker, if I may stress, Ghana's total public debt as a percentage of GDP increased significantly from 47.8 per cent of GDP in 2012 to over 70 per cent of GDP in 2016. [Uproar.] At the same time, interest costs, as a percentage of GDP, which was about three per cent in 2014, doubled to about six per cent by the end of 2016. That is GH¢10 billion worth interest payment a year. This development increased the country's debt distress. The chart below shows the trends in public debt from 2012 to 2016.
SPACE FOR TRENDS IN
Order! Hon Members, in our way forward, I am guided by Standing Order 70 (2). After such a Statement, an Hon Member, may, at my discretion, if I so admit, by our rules -- A Member may comment briefly, subject to the condition that a comment
is not a counter Statement, shall not be designed to provoke debate at this stage. Hon Members, Order! I would allow a full hour for comments. Three from each side which would include the Hon Leaders, Hon Ranking Member and Hon Chairman of the Finance Committee and one other Hon Member may contribute. Hon Minister, please, table your Statement and supporting documents.
Mr Speaker, in accord with the request, I hereby table the Statement and the various supporting documents.
Please, order! Table Office, take charge as we proceed. One Hon Member from each side to start and then the Hon Ranking Member and the Hon Chairman of the Committee. Five minutes for you, ten minutes for the Hon Ranking Member, fifteen minutes for the Leadership. That comes to the one hour accordingly allotted.
Hon Member, you have exhausted your time.
Mr Speaker --
Hon Chairman of the Committee? One person from each side of the House.
Mr Speaker, I am the Hon Ranking Member. I thought you said Ranking Members could speak for fifteen minutes.
I expected as announced that the other supporting Hon Members would speak, after that the Hon Ranking Member, then Leadership. But you can go on for five minutes.
Thank you. Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister for Finance gave certain documents. Some of them are Appendix 9, we have here Appendix 10. One of the Appendices that I have in my hand is the Issuance Calendar. Mr Speaker, we have one of the issuance calendar that was issued on the 5th of January, 2017, and another one that was issued on 30th of March, 2017. The Hon Minister in his Statement said that this particular transaction was on the Issuance Calendar. Mr Speaker, I beg to advert the minds of this House to the fact that that particular Bond in question was issued and closed on the 31st of March, 2017. Mr Speaker, the one on the 3rd of April, 2017 was indeed, only the settlement date. Mr Speaker, therefore, technically speaking, the Issuance Calendar does not have the Bond that was issued. This Bond was issued and the transaction was closed on the 31st of March, 2017 and not 3rd April, 2017. The second Issuance Calendar that was issued by the Hon Minister for Finance and dated 30th March, 2017, was supposed to take effect from 1st of April, 2017 and not March, 2017. Mr Speaker, for that matter, it is clear, and we can conclude that the issuance calendar in question does not have the Bond as was raised.
Mr Speaker, secondly, in the Seven Year Bond Order Book, we have GH¢ 3.425 billion. That is the total. Mr Speaker, for the 15 year Bond, we have an amount of GH¢3.4 billion. If we add GH¢1.4 billion to GH¢3.4 billion, it falls short of the total amount that was raised. This presupposes that we have incomplete documentation. The document we have is not complete. If you add the two, the sum is not up to US$2.25 billion that was raised. This is our concern. We have other bulky documents. At this stage, we would have to read them and come back to this House. We are constrained because of Standing Orders 70, 71 and 72. Since this is not a debate, we cannot debate this matter. That is why I am cautioning that in future you let us subject this to a rigorous debate, because we from this Side of the House are ready to debate this matter. We believe that this is something the people of this country need to at least, have an understanding on. For us to come before this House and get this documentation in the form of a Statement is good, but not good enough. Mr Speaker, it is not good enough because, we believe this still falls under the ambit of article 181(5) of the Constitution, so this Hon House should have the opportunity to debate this matter. Thank you Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, on the 31st of March, a Half Hour Motion was tabled. The Motion stated categorically that the Minister for Finance would provide detailed information on the recent Bond, including the full complement of documentation related to the issuance, the participants, the utilisation of the proceeds and the currency in which the Bond was settled. Respectfully, I would restrict my comments to the requirements of the Motion. First, the Government has shown clearly that it intends to reduce the debt to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) levels. Government has also shown that it intends to extend the domestic maturity profile and also reduce the financing cost and actively manage the debt portfolio. In paragraph 851 of the 2017 Budget statement, the Government signaled its Liability Management Policy. As regards documentation requested by the Hon Minority Leader, on paragraph 48 of what the Hon Minister presented, these relevant documents have been supplied. The Issuance Calendar for the first and second quarter of, 2017, the Prospectus, the Transaction Announcement for the seven (7) and fifteen 15-year Bonds, the Bond Order Book for the seven and 15 year Bonds, Price Guidance Notification, Guidelines for Government Securities Markets Primary Dealers and the Ghana Fixed Income Market Manual. All these documents have been tabled and are at the Table Office. As regards the participants in the Bond issue, the Hon Minister indicated clearly that, the longer the tenure of a Bond, the less the participation of domestic investors. So, this Bond was subscribed to by foreign participants largely. Mr Speaker, as a matter of fact, an average of 74 per cent of all Book Building Issuance in Ghana is held by foreign participants. The 10-year Bond issued on 14th November, 2016 had 90 per cent foreign participation. The seven year Bond issued on 3rd April had 80 per cent foreign participation. So clearly, if the tenure is longer, foreign participants dominate. As the Hon Minister indicated, we are not going to be on the market, come to Parliament and list those who have subscribed to our Bond. Nobody does it anywhere in the world. Mr Speaker, as regards the utilisation of the proceeds, the Hon Minister indicated clearly that, GH¢2.54 billion has been used for the reprofiling of our debt. GH¢1.1 billion has been used to refinance the Budget and the balance is in the Debt Service Account. Mr Speaker, the yields on the 91 day and 182 day Treasury Bills (TB) have come down because of this issue and we should applaud the Akufo-Addo Government for this effort. Not only that, under the leadership of the President and the Minister for Finance, interest rates have come down and inflation and the exchange rates have fallen. If it was not for some other motives, I do not know why anybody would not applaud the Government for issuing the single largest issue in a day in sub- Saharan Africa. Mr Speaker, the Hon Ranking Member also indicated that the settlement date was 31 st March. For his education, the settlement date of a Bond is the issuance date. The day that they settle is the issuance date. So, this Bond was settled on the 3rd of April and that day is the issuance date. He also referred to the Issuance Calendar and said that what was quoted in the issuance calendar was far less than
Mr Speaker, I would want to end my lecture here.
One Hon Member from the Minority side of the House and one Hon Member from the Majority side of the House then the Leaders. Five minutes each.
Mr Speaker, today, Ghana missed a very great opportunity to send back the confidence that the market needs. All that we have heard is a very simple problem. The Hon Minister for Finance should just produce the Agreement and we would know the currency, the exchange rate and the interest rate. We would know all the details in the Agreement -- he does not need to tell anybody. The Hon Minister for Finance should just bring the Agreement and we would have these facts. But at the end of the day, what did we talk about? Mr Speaker, we are not dealing with whether or not we have a debt management strategy -- we are dealing with the transparency that is required in delivering that debt management strategy. [Hear! Hear!] -- So, if the Hon Minister for Finance says he is re-profiling debt and in the end he commits us to a debt and an arrangement that we feel is smelly, should we keep quiet because we have a debt management strategy? [Laughter] -- The truth is very simple. Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister for Finance is aware that in the first quarter of the year, he added GH¢5 billion to the debt profile of Ghana. He is aware of that, yet in telling us the utilisation, he has told us that he has been able to use GH¢1.1 billion of this money to finance the Budget. Where does that go? It goes to add to the debt profile of Ghana. So he has not really told us anything. Mr Speaker, all that he did was to tell us generally how bonds are issued. We would want the specific details of how the GH¢2.25 billion was issued -- [Interruption] -- but he gave us guidelines on how he issued debts dated in 2016. [Laughter.] The market wants better information. All the rhetorics about somebody wanting to run down a Government is not substantiated. They are very simple and for anybody to say that the Parliament of the Republic of Ghana cannot ask for information because they are confidential is suicidal. Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister for Finance said information cannot be given on investors because they are confidential to the Republic of Ghana's Parliament. The tax payers money pay for those Agreements -- they are not Agreements signed as private Agreements but are signed on behalf of the Republic of Ghana and when it so desires, those details must be made available to the Republic and through the Parliament of this country. Mr Speaker, a very simple prospectus on this transaction was not even provided -- a selling document was not provided, but we are now being told that under the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Government, the second quarter started from the 30th of March [Laughter] -- what kind of logic is this that the second quarter starts on the 30th of March? So, the Hon Minister for Finance issues a calendar for the second quarter on the 30th March that same day and issues it the next day which is 31st March? The market is clever and intelligent than all of us seated here. They spend their monies to invest in this country and they would want the Hon Minister for Finance to tell them the truth. We would want to receive the documents [Interruption] -- The market is very clever and no antics can confuse any market player.
Hon Member, please, wind up.
Mr Speaker, the country that delivered the biggest bond sale in a day struggled after two months and had to shift US$800 million by a three- year bond to the next day, and yet, they could not raise US$800 million. That should tell us what the market is telling us.
Hon Dr Akoto Osei? Hon Members, Order! Order! Hon Members, there should be Order, so that we can keep to the time.
Mr Speaker, under normal circumstances, when my Hon “Dr” Chairman of the Finance Committee has spoken, I should not speak. Mr Speaker, indeed, the market is most cleverer than all of us and that is why what the Hon Member said on the floor of the House does not matter -- [Interruption] -- Yes, the market is indeed most cleverer than all of us.
Hon Dr Akoto Osei, please, take your seat for the time being. Hon Members, the Hansard does not record noise -- [Laughter] -- let us listen to arguments and proceed. Hon Dr Akoto Osei, you may proceed.
Mr Speaker, thank you very much for reminding us that the Hansard does not record noise. Mr Speaker, we should not pretend. Even those of us with PhD's must admit that this Statement has educated us.
Hon Members, Order! Order!
Mr Speaker, this Bond issuance is about Ghana. Mr Speaker, I would want to quote the Hon Minister for Finance and it is very significant. The Hon Minister for Finance acknowledged the work of his predecessor. Mr Speaker, with your permission, I would want to quote paragraph 22 on page 15 of the Statement. “Mr Speaker, in August 2015, the Ministry announced the book building approach…”.
Hon Member, Order! Order!
Mr Speaker, no matter how much noise they make, I shall comment. Mr Speaker, I have a document with me here entitle, “What are the Book Building Issuances (2015 - 2017)? Mr Speaker, under item numbered (iii) in the document on 25th April 2016, a three- year Bond had a clearing yield of 24.50 per cent. Mr Speaker, as late as 14th November, 2016 — right before the elections, a certain Government issued a Bond in Ghana cedis. Mr Speaker, July 25, 2016 — [Uproar] — Mr Speaker, unless we want to forget, the Hon Member was the Deputy Minister for Finance. He helped to issue a five year Bond at a coupon yield of 24.75 per cent. Mr Speaker, the same Deputy Minister is accusing somebody of causing financial loss when Treasury Bill (TB) rates were at 16 per cent. You issued at 24.75 per cent on the 91 day. Mr Speaker, so, the question I would want to ask him is whether he caused financial loss to the State in July 2016 or not? Ghana is moving forward. The currency is stabilising and our reserves have gone up.
Hon Member, please, conclude.
Mr Speaker, he made reference to a statement by the Deputy Governor of the Bank of Ghana. I do not know if my good Friend understood what the Deputy Governor said. The Minister has repeated here that it is a cedi Bond. Until the Government of Ghana decides how it is going to use it, the Bank of Ghana cannot do anything with it. Mr Speaker —
Thank you very much Hon Member. The Leaders will conclude within 15 minutes each. There will be no interruptions for the Leaders — Hon Members, I do not need your assistance — And you cannot refer to any Hon Member by merely mentioning his name like that. The Leaders will contribute without interruption. If you have a point, please hand it over to your leader. Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I thank you very much for the opportunity. I feel strongly vindicated in my heart that, I had cautioned. I heard you, in proceeding to invite comments and allow for debates on this matter, quote Standing Order 70 even though you have generously allowed the rules to prevail. But as I said earlier in the morning, when you came under Standing Order 70 and referred this Statement to be one under Standing Order 70 and not the one responding to a Motion for which we asked for detailed information, the debate itself is constraint and will suffer. Mr Speaker, not for a financial transaction of US$ 2.25 billion that this House must have a restricted debate on the subject. It has implications on our debt profile and the future of our country.
Hon Members, there would be absolute order to give the Leaders 15 minutes each.
Mr Speaker, let me come to paragraph 48 of the comment of the Hon Minister. It is only in Ghana that one would borrow in cedi denominated dollar yet the cedi improves the international reserves — new economics — I have borrowed in cedis yet my international reserves have improved — [Laughter] — On paragraph 48, and I beg to quote: “I am also happy to announce, Mr Speaker, that the Bonds also strengthened our current account and built our international reserves.”
Hon Members, let us have a structured contribution. Hon Minority Leader, please continue.
Mr Speaker, it is interesting to note, very intriguing in Ghana, that one borrows in cedis and not dollars yet the dollar reserves improves — [Laughter] — That is very significant.
“Mr Speaker, the Bond in question complied in every material detail with the tenets of the rules and regulations governing the issue of Government Securities,..” Mr Speaker, the Securities Exchange Commission is required by law to have approved this Bond. There is no Board in place. Did the Bond walk through the process of Securities and Authority Law? No, yet they say they have passed through due process. Which due process? Due process determined at the Ministry of Finance or by the laws of Ghana? — That we must have the securities, and give approval to this Bond.
Mr Speaker, there are no unanswered questions —
Hon Minority Leader, you may simply address me and proceed.
Mr Speaker, may I also refer to paragraph 42 — We asked for the utilisation of the Bond. This is the Parliament of Ghana — The representatives of the people. Mr Speaker, the Motion sought for the utilisation of the proceeds. Mr Speaker, on Utilization of Proceeds in paragraph 42 of his Statement, all he said was that, and I beg to quote: “Mr Speaker, to date, out of the total amount raised, about GH¢2.5 billion has been used to re-profile the debt and GH¢1.1 billion used to finance the budget.”
Mr Speaker, we are saying that, the GH¢6 billion, we deserve to know how he intends — [Interruption]
Hon Members, please, I will not grant any responses by individuals. Even in the secondary school, we knew in our debate that, when the principal speaker was summing up and you have a point, you write it down for your principal speaker who is going to respond. So, let us not shout things across the divide. If you have any valid point, give it to your Hon Leader to respond to it. Hon Haruna Iddrisu, you may continue.
Mr Speaker, on paragraph 36, the emphasis is on the fact that, in the year 2016, it is 90 per cent foreign and ten (10) per cent domestic participation. We are not questioning foreign participation, we are questioning concentration risk; 95 per cent going to one entity known as Franklin Templeton Investments. So, we are not questioning the participation of foreigners, we are saying that, the concentration risk -- the Hon Minister is better at Economics -- is a single omnibus obligation. So if the investor, tomorrow, decides to go to the secondary market to sell this, Ghana would be in crisis. That is the reason we are concerned about this. The risk associated with concentration is not good Economics. Mr Speaker, we have not had adequate information as we expected. The Hon Minister for Finance talked about e-mail. This is Parliament House, the home of transparency. Let us know who got the e- mail, when and for what reason and what exchanges went on, because Ghanaian local industries are not too happy about this particular transaction and how it was closed. Mr Speaker, that is the reason I initially said that, when we come under Standing Order 70, it may be problematic. But in the interest of the public, let me say that, this House and this country is governed by laws. We have the Public Financial Management Act; the Hon Minister says he has complied with the rules and regulations. He should streamline his comments against what the provisions in the Public Financial Management Act are, relative to domestic or foreign. He would then satisfy that particular requirement. Mr Speaker, the person named, for which this is being looked at in another instance would be another subject for us to look at. Mr Speaker, in concluding, the Hon Minister said that this would not add to any debt. We are aware that he would be servicing this with not less than US$400 million per annum, yet he says that this comes at no cost. There is a cost -- there is an economic cost to this transaction. For every other year, the Hon Minister must tell this House how much he would pay for this particular Bond. He was not forthcoming with that information too. Mr Speaker, we believe that, this transaction was not done in a manner which was transparent to both participants and investors in Ghana and abroad. The Hon Minister should come with more details; we would study the document that he has tabled. As we speak now, I only have his statement. Every appendix that we asked for, we would follow through. Mr Speaker, currency denomination is my conclusion -- a very interesting country like Ghana. A foreigner is borrowing money, they say he came in with dollars -- they should pay him in cedis and we will see. [Laughter.] They should pay FranklinTempleton Investments in cedis and we shall all see. The Hon Minister must be sincere and candid with the people of Ghana, that, this transaction settled in dollars. Therefore, having settled in dollars, they would repatriate dollars and not cedis. Tomorrow, depending upon their management of the exchange rate, they would be required to vomit and cough out more cedis to settle the --
Hon Minority Leader, imputation of motives will not help and you know our rules do not allow that. Just withdraw the reference to sincerity.
Mr Speaker, I rightfully withdraw. Mr Speaker, so, I conclude that the Hon Minister owes the people of Ghana a duty. He owes the people of Ghana a standard of care which standard is to be transparent, and to come with the full facts relative to only the transaction of US$2.5 billion and not take us through a process of how Bonds are issued. Whether Franklin Templeton Investments is a person or an institution, the Hon Minister himself said that, he only inherited some of the processes. So, we know who he is -- it is the other party that would have raised the relational issues; that must be responded to.
Mr Speaker, we would monitor the Hon Minister's appendices and documents very closely, and that would inform our future course of action. Mr Speaker, I thank you for bringing the Hon Minister for Finance before the House.
Order! Hon Majority Leader, you have 15 minutes to make your contribution.
Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity. I believe that just as we have been patient to listen to my Hon Colleagues on the other side of the House, by their fruits you shall know them. [Uproar!] [Interruption.] Mr Speaker, if my Hon Colleagues kept quiet, they would hear me. Mr Speaker, comments could be made to Statements and those comments should not be designed to provoke a debate. What we have listened to from our Hon Colleagues -- certainly, I must recognise that, we have been most charitable and perhaps, we would go on a similar vein. Mr Speaker, my Hon Colleague said the market is more intelligent and cleverer; I agree with him. In fact, it is for that reason the market has positively responded to what the Hon Minister has just read and the benefits have started trickling in. Mr Speaker, at the very outset, issues were raised that the Bond issuance did not come to Parliament -- it was part of the allegation outside there. I am happy to note that, the people who put that out in the public domain have sprinted away from that allegation. Mr Speaker, then, they said the Bond issuance is in dollars; today, we have all heard. My Hon Colleague, the Minority Leader was further articulating this. [Interruption.] He knows that in this House -- [Interruptions.] [Uproar.]
Hon Members, should the Hon Majority Leader not speak? [Interruption.] Order!
Mr Speaker, the world was told that the interest rates were very high. Today, cogent explanations have been offered. We were told that there was no transparency; we have been told by the Hon Minister for Finance, and indeed, all of us do attest that this is the first time that we have allowed this in the history of this Parliament to happen. Never has it happened under any regime. Mr Speaker, going forward, we agree that we should expand the frontiers of transparency and accountability. That indeed, is why this House has agreed that, we should now bid a new track. It explains why when the Motion was moved by the Hon Minority Leader, I seconded the Motion. [Hear! Hear!] That indeed is strengthening the oversight responsibility of Parliament. Mr Speaker, out there, the people of this country were told that, the Hon Minister for Finance had cooked the US$2.25 billion bond for his friend and business partner. [Uproar!] Today, we have heard -- Indeed, because he quoted the Bank of Ghana officials, let me quote to him what the Bank of Ghana said. [Interruption.] Mr Speaker, I am being asked whether I was there. They should be truthful to themselves on what was said. He quoted the Bank of Ghana official and what did he say? He said to you -- Yet they declined to say that. He said to them that, in such circumstances, it is impossible for the Hon Minister to cook the figures for any person and it is impossible for any person to predetermine the outcome of the bond issuance. [Uproar.] Mr Speaker, I am quoting Mr Steven Opata. [Interruption.] The Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee was there. He said so. So, Mr Speaker, people should be truthful to themselves. Again, the Deputy Governor of the Bank of Ghana, Mr Johnson Asiama --
Hon Majority Leader, one minute, please.
Mr Speaker, Mr Opata is the head of financial management service --
Hon Members, let there be order and I insist on that on both sides of this Honourable House. Hon Majority Leader, you may continue.
Mr Speaker, Mr Johnson Asiama is the Second Deputy Governor of the Bank of Ghana. For those of them who are saying that these things were done in secrecy, he said and with your permission, I quote him: “At the beginning of every year, government announces its borrowing plans which are available for all investors and potential investors to bid for and can therefore not be any secret transaction.”
Mr Speaker, the Minister for Finance has alluded to the benefits. For the avoidance of doubt, I would want to rehash same. He says to us that the bond was a cedi-denominated bond. The Hon Minority Leader said that, it was issued in dollars. So, even if it was denominated in cedis, it cannot be the same. Mr Speaker, with respect to my Hon Colleagues, in this House, at the beginning of every term of a Parliament, we contract loans that are dollar deno-
minated. Yet, we access them in cedis. Do we say that we owe dollars? I believe this is very commonsensical and people should appreciate its import. Mr Speaker, we have been told and the point has been forcefully made that the participants of the sales of bonds are not strangers to our bond. Of the benefits, we have been told that it is the highest amount in the history of this country and in sub-Saharan Africa. It has extended the tenure of the domestic debt to 15 years and has given this country profound reprieve. Mr Speaker, the transaction was technology-neutral. In other words, it will not add a pesewa to the country's debt stock. Those who know, know about this and my Hon Colleague who worked in the Bank of Ghana knows that what we are saying is right. [Interruption.] The Hon Fifi Kwetey knows that it is right and he would not challenge it. So, Mr Speaker, when you listen to those in the backbenches -- [Laughter.] But we would stop there. Mr Speaker, we have been told that it has improved the country's gross international reserves and stabilised the cedi. Indeed, we are witnessing the stability of the cedi. The re-profiling operation has led to a reduction in refinancing risk. These efforts, therefore, should be applauded by all who care to know and understand and not be a subject of unrepentant propagandist. Mr Speaker, the House has heard; the people of this country have heard and I believe that we are all ad idem on the benefits of this transaction. We can only urge the Hon Minister for Finance to exercise transparency and accountability just as he has started and let us depart from the path of yesterday when people held matters to their chest, and on occasions when we demanded this in the House, they conspired to gag the representatives of this country from hearing.
Hon Majority Leader, you sat down so fast. [Uproar!] I would like to believe that you did not mean to say anyone conspired.
Mr Speaker, there was contrivance.
Thank you very much. Our new time is 12.00 noon and for the four hours, we end at 4.00 p.m. At the appropriate time, if necessary, we shall extend the hours and proceed.
Mr Speaker, I would like to sincerely thank this august House for this very charged and exciting comments to the Statement. I will be brief. This is an important House and really the key to our democracy. Mr Speaker, I would like to address the issue of transparency, and respectfully tell Hon Members that we at the Ministry have absolutely nothing to hide. I would also like to ask for mutual respect on these issues. More importantly, I would like to build a sense of candour and an ability for all of us to continue in conversations that would inure to the benefit of the country. Mr Speaker, but I would like to assure Hon Members that we were placed in this position because of our experience, network and competence. So, this would not be the last time that we would do transactions in which we at the Ministry would be very familiar with people in the financial services industry. Mr Speaker, let me assure the House that we would maintain the standard of care for the public purse alluded to by the Hon Minority Leader. We would ensure that this fight to eliminate poverty and ensure that the country moves forward continues. Mr Speaker, we all know that things are getting better and we are working hard at that. Mr Speaker, listening to some of the comments, they sometimes remind me of when Jesus Christ healed the blind who went into the synagogue as recounted in the Gospel of John 9:1-18 per the Good News Translation Bible. Instead of the Pharisees asking and congratulating this new resolve and ability for this person to see, they asked why he was healed on a Sunday. Mr Speaker, we would contend with these little issues and provide all the documentations, if any, that are left. We would encourage the other side of the pew to visit our offices. Mr Speaker, there is tremendous work ahead, and we as a people would just have to continue to fight and ensure that this country's distress is removed. The Hon Minority Leader spoke about us leading the country into distress. We would note that we are already in distress and we are trying to crawl back from that. We would not look to exacerbate that situation. Mr Speaker, I would like to thank the House for this opportunity. I would like to assure the House of my continual respect, I would be transparent, work with candour and provide everything they may need.
Hon Minister, thank you very much. We appreciate your attending to the House, making the Statement and presenting relevant documents. You are discharged. At the Commencement of Public Business -- item numbered 5 -- Presentation of Papers. Item numbered 5 (a) by the Hon Majority Leader and Minister for Parliamentary Affairs.
Hon Members, item numbered 5 (b). By the Chairman of the Committee Report of the five-member Ad-Hoc Committee on the investigation of the effects of sand-winning in the country.
Item numbered 5 (c) by the Hon Chairman of the Finance Committee. [Pause.]
Mr Speaker, if it is item numbered 5 (c), I have been told by the Hon Chairman of the Committee that it is not ready.
Hon Majority Leader, you may present it for him. Who presents for the Hon Chairman of the Committee?
Mr Speaker, I said the Hon Chairman has signalled me that item numbered 5 (c) is not ready. So, we would stand it now.
Is the Report not ready?
Mr Speaker, yes.
Thank you very much. In the circumstances, we are still within our four hours. Shall we make a Motion for adjournment? Hon Majority Leader, do we have a Motion for adjournment?
Mr Speaker, it has passed 2.00 p.m., but if we should remind ourselves that Sitting is normally for four hours -- between 10.00 a.m. and 2.00 p.m. -- then it would mean that when we begin at 12.00 noon, the regular time may be 4.00 p.m. That is, perhaps, the reason you would want to request a formal Motion to be moved. Mr Speaker, if that is the situation, I beg to move that this House adjourns until 12.00 noon tomorrow.
Thank you very much. Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion. Question put and Motion agreed to.
This Honourable House would stand adjourned till tomorrow at Thank you very much.
The House was accordingly adjourned at 3.43 p.m. till tomorrow, Thursday, 8th June, 2017 at 12.00 noon.