VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS AND THE OFFICIAL REPORT
Hon Members, Correction of Votes and Proceedings of Tuesday, 18th July, 2017. Pages 1…9.
Page 9… Hon Member?
Mr Speaker, I was in the House yesterday, but I have been recorded as absent on page 8.
All right. Page 10…14
Mr Speaker, I am sorry to take you back to page 8. I was present in the House yesterday, but it is indicated that I was absent.
Thank you very much. Hon Members, the Votes and Proceedings of Tuesday, 18th July, 2017, as corrected are hereby adopted as the true record of proceedings. We have the Official Report of Wednesday, 12th July, 2017. Any corrections?
[No correction was made to the Official Report of Wednesday, 12th July, 2017.]
I have seen the Hon Minister. Is he not in at the moment?
Mr Speaker, at the pre-Sitting meeting, we agreed to vary the order of business and take the Hon Minister for Trade and Industry. The Hon Minister for Works and Housing is our Colleague and he will definitely be in the House. So, with your permission, Mr Speaker, if we could take the Hon Minister for Trade and Industry. I humbly submit. Thank you.
Hon Minister for Trade and Industry, you may please take your seat. Yes, Hon Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa?
ORAL ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS
MINISTRY OF TRADE AND
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, Volta Star Textiles Limited (VSTL) is solely owned by the Govern- ment of Ghana. The company produces world class yarn and grey baft as its products. Its main local customer is Tex Styles Ghana Ltd (GTP) and its sister company in la Cote d'Ivoire, which is Uniwax. It has recently started exporting to Cameroon. Production The company has the largest spinning and weaving capacity in Ghana with an estimated grey baft production capacity of 20 million yards per annum. The company is currently producing six million yards of grey baft per annum representing 30 per cent capacity utilisation. It runs two shifts currently, employing 750 workers and has the capacity to employ 1,200 workers running three shifts at full plant capacity utilisation. At its present level of plant utilisation, the company is making losses. Challenges with debts Mr Speaker, the company is heavily indebted to State agencies and government, being the sole shareholder, has not been able to adequately provide the company with the required working capital in order to make its operations viable. The company as at May 2017, owes ECG GH¢3.8 million, GRA GH¢1.0 million, SSNIT GH¢1.0 million, and EDAIF (Now Ghana Exim Bank) GH¢6,144,771. It also owes GH¢1.47 million to service providers and staff salary arrears. The total debt of the company, Mr Speaker, is GH¢13.4 million. The company in addition, needs a capital injection of GH¢20 million to be viable. Strategic investor Mr Speaker, on August 20, 2014, Ministry of Trade and Industry (MOTI) appointed PriceWaterhouseCoopers (Ghana) Ltd (PWC) as a Transaction Advisor to assist in the restructuring of VSTL. PWC completed the first phase of the project which involved an independent business review of VSTL including a valuation of the company in May, 2015. The second phase of the project was the disposal of 70 per cent shares of Volta Star to a strategic investor with the requisite expertise and resources to restructure the company. This was due to the fact that VSTL was in dire straits and proceeding with the status quo would have been detrimental to the nation and in particular the Juapong community. In February 2016, the Ministry requested prospective bidders to submit technical and financial proposals. Three companies submitted technical and financial proposals in April 2016. These were: 1. Bullion Investment Group 2. China Yuemei Group
Thank you very much, Hon Minister. Hon Okudzeto Ablakwa?
I am most grateful, Mr Speaker. I want to thank the Hon Minister for the very detailed response. Mr Speaker, my first follow-up question is about the options available to the Ministry. The Ministry indicates that they have asked PriceWaterhouseCoopers to re-open the entire bid. I would want to find out from the Hon Minister whether they considered the option of approaching the other two companies that were shortlisted: China Yuemei Group and Kingdom Business Venture Capital Limited, since that may have abridged time and they would probably have offered an immediate possibility?
Mr Speaker, the company was valued by the transaction advisor, at a range between US$10 million and US$12.2 million. That was the valuation that was done by the transaction advisor. Mr Speaker, since Government was off- loading 70 per cent of its shares, this amounted to between US$7.1 million and US$10 million. Regrettably, the decision had to be taken one way or the other, that, if the second bidder had a value less than the value that was placed on the company, then the company's proposal was not responsive to the bid. So, technically speaking, it would be inappropriate to invite the second bidder, and that is why we have taken a decision to reopen the tender process. Mr Speaker, if the other bidders in the original exercise do consider it appropriate to resubmit a bid, then I believe it is open to them to do so. Mr Speaker, thank you.
Thank you very much, Hon Minister. Yes, Hon Ablakwa?
I am most grateful, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, my second question has to do with an interim arrangement if it pleases the Hon Minister. The Hon Minister would recall from the records that last year, the Government of Ghana being the sole shareholder, offered some financial lifeline to the company by arranging for a facility from EDAIF of GH¢ 6.1 million, while these transactions were going on. Mr Speaker, I would like to know from the Hon Minister, whether the Ministry has considered a similar arrangement moving forward, for some capital injection, so that the company can continue to survive while we seek a strategic partner to come and partner with Government.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, yes, the company did enjoy a facility from the previous Government. Regrettably, due to the unfortunate circumstances of the company, they have not been able to pay up the facility that was granted them, but be that as it may, since this is a strategic national asset, and since it is located in a rural community and we believe as a Government, that it is absolutely critical to preserve the work force in that particular community, our Government has already taken a strategic decision that we would avail the company of the opportunity of benefiting from the stimulus package that is being offered by Government. Mr Speaker, therefore, currently, they have submitted the necessary docuem- tation to allow them to be screened, and for them to access this particular facility. Mr Speaker, I would also like to add that technically speaking, they also qualify to become a district enterprise, looking at the criterion that we have set. So, at the appropriate time, they would also be considered for support under that programme. Mr Speaker, thank you.
Hon Ablakwa, your last supplementary question.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I just wanted to begin by saying on a lighter note that we would wish that we benefit from a separate factory under the “One District, One Factory Project”. We would want that this one would not be annexed --
Hon Okudzeto, you should ask your question.
I am grateful, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, my final question is on the proposed stimulus package. I would want to find out from the Hon Minister, how much the company is likely to get, and when this will be possible.
Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I rise to ask the Hon Minister, whether the structure of the company naturally makes it inclined to the accumulation of debts, or whether the debt accumulation that has virtually incapacitated the Volta Star Textiles Company Limited, was as a result of some deficits in the managerial competence or flaws in operational strategy that lead to the debts. I would want to know whether they have done any audit to identify why we had such debts, so that we would not have such problems in the future.
Mr Speaker, the situation that the company finds itself in has arisen out of a number of factors. One of it is the lack of, I believe, a good compliment of technical and managerial expertise. Mr Speaker, however, there are also other challenges relating to working capital availability, and I believe that the position we have taken, as a Government, is to continue the process that the previous Government had initiated, which is to look for a strategic investor. This is because what a strategic investor would bring to the company is not just the managerial and technical expertise, but also an additional working capital to support the running of the company. Mr Speaker, the reason I am positive about this company is that, it produces a product that already has an anchor customer. Every yard of grey baft that the company produces would be bought by Ghana Textiles Printing Company Limited (GTP), and so, with that level of demand, what it requires then is just operational capital and perhaps some additional minor capital investment to make it continue producing to feed its anchor customer. Mr Speaker, therefore, we are responding to the various challenges that the company currently is facing. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Thank you very much, Hon Minister. Yes, Hon Member?
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, as I speak to you today, Akosombo Textiles Limited is owing the Electricity Company of Ghana an amount of about GH¢400 million, and the company is almost off. I would want to know what the Hon Minister has in place to take care of this unfair competition that is coming from other companies outside this country.
Yes, Hon Minister?
Mr Speaker, the demand for the output of the products of this company is a derived demand in the sense that they produce as an input into the operations of a printing company that produces textile prints which is the subject matter of the unfair competition that the Hon Member referred to. So, technically speaking, the company itself is not subject to this unfair competition. However, because it is derived demand, I believe it is still appropriate to say that their production and the demand for it could be affected by the unfair trade regime. Mr Speaker, I hope that another opportunity would arise for us to talk about this substantively but as of last week, we are in extensive consultations with the manufacturers. They are basically three of the manufacturers that are currently operational. During the previous term of office, the New Patriotic Party, in which I had the privilege of serving as the Hon Minister for Trade and Industry, we introduced extensive measures that dealt substan- tively with this problem of unfair competition. However, we recognised that over the years, the challenge still remains and that is why we have engaged with the existing stakeholders in the industry to find solutions to this particular problem. Mr Speaker, let me just add that the demand for textile prints annually in Ghana is between 120 and 130 million yards per annum. That is the demand. Now, the current combined output of the three major producers is only on the upper limit, about 60 million yards per annum. So, whichever way we look at it, there is still a huge gap in terms of meeting the demand for textile prints. So, we believe that the new measures we would outdoor very soon would substantively deal with this problem because we cannot avoid importing textile prints to fill the gap. But we are committed to ensuring that we support these companies to remain viable and also to sustain the level of employment that they currently have.
Mr Speaker, if I understood the question that was posed by the Hon Member, it reinforces the point that I made about it being a derived demand product. The grey baft is an input into the production of textile prints. Currently, we are not just supporting VSTL which provides the raw material input, we also support the manufacturers of the textile print. So, we are rationalising the entire value chain in the sector -- helping the producer of the raw material and also the producers of the final output so that they can support each other and reinforce the value chain. Mr Speaker, this is what we are doing currently.
Mr Speaker, in the Hon Minister for Trade and Industry's Answer to the Question posed by Hon Ablakwa, the Hon Member for the area, he indicates that VSTL is likely to benefit from Government's stimulus package, but he is unable to tell us how much. However, Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister, in his own Answer on page 6 states: “The company in addition needs a capital injection of GH¢20 million to be viable.” Would the Hon Minister assure this House that he would provide GH¢20 million to make VSTL viable?
Mr Speaker, my very simple response to the Hon Minority Leader's enquiry is that, yes, we have been able to determine how much working capital is required by VSTL. In making an effort to support the company, we did not anticipate that we would subject the entire stimulus initiative to support only one company. As I speak, there are over 285 companies that have applied for this stimulus package. So, yes, it is true, Mr Speaker, that they require GH¢20 million, but regrettably, we are unable to provide the entire requirement, but whatever we are able to agree on would at least support them in moving forward with their current operations.
Mr Speaker, my final question is to note and trust that the Hon Minister would support the textile company with what indeed can make it viable. Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister knows that he has a constraint; Reference to his Answer on EDAIF which was subsequently converted by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Government into the Ghana Exim Bank. Today, you are not in the driver's seat; you are more like a passenger in your own train. What steps is he taking to get the Ghana Exim Bank to support VSTL and other distressed Government entities?
Mr Speaker, in reference to the first part of the Hon Member's enquiry, the whole idea is to make sure that we continue with the process of identifying a strategic investor. Once the strategic investor is able to provide the additional capital that is required, that is, going to supplement whatever stimulus package that the Company benefits from. In respect of how the Ghana Exim Bank can support the company, part of the criterion that we have established for disbursing funds under the stimulus package is to invite the Ghana Exim Bank to work alongside Government to provide some matching fund with the stimulus fund that the Government is contributing, particularly, for companies that have the potential to export. My understanding is that, to the extent that VSTL explores export opportunities in West Africa -- in actual fact, what they sell to GTP is also considered as export because they sell at the world market price. I believe it would be appropriate for the Ghana Exim Bank, even though I do not have the opportunity of superin- tending the operations, to require them to support the operations of this company once it is going to be engaged in export.
Majority Leadership, any question?
Mr Speaker, given the explicicity of the answers provided to the rather inquisitorial questions, I am much more satisfied by the performance of the Hon Minister and I have no other useful question to ask. [Uproar.]
Hon Minister— Order! Order!! Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, instead of the Hon Majority Leader allowing you to do what you do best to discharge the Hon Minister — [Interruption.] We know that even when the Hon Minister arrived, the Hon Deputy Majority Leader, in the stead of the Hon Majority Leader, put some presidential weight on this Hon Minister to disallow the Hon Minister for Works and Housing to proceed. [Laughter.] Mr Speaker, that was the case.
Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, respectfully, it cannot be said of me that I have done anything untoward. I have not breached any rule. You asked a very simple question, whether I have any question to ask, and, Mr Speaker, I gave my response in a very courteous manner that is required of me. Mr Speaker, I said I have no other useful question to ask the Hon Minister, and I still stand by that.
Hon Minister, thank you very much for coming to the House to answer our Questions. You are discharged. Urgent Question standing in the name of the Hon Member for Fanteakwa South to the Hon Minister for Works and Housing. Hon Minister, you may take the seat. Hon Members, in the process, the First Deputy Speaker will take the Chair. Hon Member for Fanteakwa South? 2. 24 p.m. —
MR FIRST DEPUTY SPEAKER IN THE
MINISTRY OF WORKS AND HOUSING
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, the Hydrological Services Department (HSD) is under the Ministry of Works and Housing. The department has carried out survey works and it is in the process of completing the design of a drainage system for Busoso, which would include cost estimates for the Ministry to consider in its Annual Budget Estimates. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Hon Member, you can ask a follow up question.
Mr Speaker, on March 17, 2015, I asked this same Question. This is because every year, this flooding occurs. Mr Speaker, the Answer that was given by the then Deputy Hon Minister for Works and Housing, Hon Sampson Ahi, was this, and with your permission, I would read the Answer. “Mr Speaker, the Hydrological Services Department has been tasked by the Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing to carry out survey works, design of drainage including cost estimates” -- [Interruption] -- Mr Speaker, the then Hon Minister further went on to say, and with your permission, I quote: “This is to provide for the Ministry with the requisite information for consideration in the development budget of 2016.” I want to ask the Hon Minister -- [Interruption] -- Mr Speaker, 2016 Budget has come and gone, 2017 Budget too has come and gone and I want to ask the current Hon Minister, what has happened to this issue? Thank you.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. The 2017 Budget has not come and gone. We are still rolling out the Budget. Mr Speaker, but what is very important is that, given the poverty arrangement we inherited -- [Interruption] -- We are doing everything possible that all the areas that sewage and drainage should be tackled would be tackled. We would not exclude Busoso.
Mr Speaker, can the Hon Minister assure me that the flooding situation in Busoso, which occurs every year, would be taken care of this year so that I would not have to come and stand here and ask this Question again? Thank you.
The Busoso situation is unique and particular for the simple reason that they do not have drains. If they had drains, the temporary relief of desilting would help. When we desilt, the sewage and the rest of them can flow to avoid this flooding.
Hon Minister, his question was, would you do it this year so that he does not have to repeat the question? He wants your assurance.
Mr Speaker, in fact, I cannot envisage a situation in which we would be able to give them the drainage they need. This is because it is under a situation of designing, budgeting and then we have some money to do it. But what I would say, with due respect, is that, everybody who is in harm's way would be warned so that, given what we see-- the perennial rainfall-- they would not be in harm's way. This is what we can do to ensure that there is no loss of life. But the rest of it, we are stuck with a very serious problem because of the poverty arrangement.
Hon Sampson Ahi?
Mr Speaker, in the response to a question by the Hon Member, the Hon Minister attributed it to the poverty arrangement that they inherited. Can he explain to us the levels of poverty arrangement that they inherited and the nature of that poverty arrangement that he inherited? Thank you very much.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. My very good Friend is very much aware that when we took over, about 70 per cent of our moneys was due to go into debt servicing. What that means is that, what is left for developmental purposes like drainage, health and the rest of them is hugely challenged. That is what I mean by “poverty arrangement”. “Poverty arrangement” is when the economy is so challenged that you would pay more in terms of debt than apply those monies for developmental purposes. When we get out of this shackle of servicing these huge debts, we would have enough money to attend to the development of this great nation.
I thought you were answering it and that was why I asked the Hon Leader to wait for you.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister's Answer to Hon Ahi's question is not clear. He asked what the nature of the poverty arrangement inherited is. That is also my question to the Hon Minister.
Hon Member, that question has been answered. Yes, Deputy Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister said that when the current situation of debt improves, which means that the debt burden would be reduced and there would be free space available in terms of resources to take care of issues of this nature.
Mr Speaker, this House operates by rules. The Hon Minister for Works and Housing was asked what urgent steps were being taken to provide drainage facilities for the people of Busoso whose houses get flooded after each heavy rain. The Hon Member who just spoke, spoke to a supplementary question and the rules about supplementary questions are clear. It is covered by Standing Order 69 (1), which provides: “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.” It is as simple as that. The Question that my Hon Colleague asked is not part of the original Question and to that extent, infringes on our rules of procedure.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister introduced the issue in his Answer to the original Question. He said that when the debt situation improves, money would be freed and could be used for other development. Those were his own words. I asked how the debt situation could be improved when there is borrowing every day? That is the question.
Hon Deputy Minority Leader, I thought you were responding to the procedural issue raised. If you have no response to that, let me rule.
Mr Speaker, yes, this is a House of rules and this House should be guided at all times by its Standing Orders. However, it is also part of the rules of this House that whatever is said by a Minister becomes part of our records. Indeed, it is part of our records that the Hon Minister sitting by the Hon Majority Leader, who does not look like a “poverty inherited arranged Minister”, would tell this House that he inherited a poverty arranged situation. Mr Speaker, in his Answer, and I quote. “We have some money to do it”. Has the poverty ended and where did he get the money? Those were from his answers. So, the Hon Deputy Minority Leader was only elucidating further clarification on the basis of his words. Hon Minister, do you look like a “poverty inherited” Minister?
Mr Speaker, allowing this other supplementary question would amount to saying that if the Hon Minister had said that the debt situation was as huge as an elephant, then the supplementary question “what is an elephant?” [Laughter.] Mr Speaker, I insist that the question infringes on our rules and to that extent, cannot be admitted by you.
I have not been persuaded that this is not a new area. The question is on Busoso drainage. The new question on “debt situation”, cannot be admitted as a supplementary question. The question is overruled.
Hon Minister, would you be able to answer as to what efforts were made within the past eight years?
Mr Speaker, apart from the engineering designs that are ongoing, no concrete move was made to solve the problem in Busoso. So, we are at the paper stage and when our fortunes improve, we would be allotted some moneys to tackle the problems.
Mr Speaker, is the essence of the Hon Minister's response, that the people of Busoso have no hope under his Government?
Mr Speaker, hope I can put across for the good people of Busoso is that things are ongoing and we would give it a permanent fix. In the meantime, I would caution everybody who is in harm's way that if the problem is perennial and every year there is a challenge, then some good sense should dawn that one removes oneself from harm's way until there is a solution.
Mr Speaker, following from the Hon Minister's response, I wish to ask him when the community would get the drainage system. He indicated that there is no drainage system, so exactly when would they get the drainage?
My first premise was that the engineering drawings would have to be completed. When the engineering drawings are completed, we would budget for it. Then, when we are given the moneys, we would be able to actualise the work. The engineering drawings would have some significance on the ground and that is when the work would actually commence. If we are not able to go through this process, I would still sound a word of caution that -- if one looks at what would happen during the raining season, one should do his or her utmost best to remove himself or herself from harm's way.
Mr Speaker, the Answer the Hon Minister gave suggests that residents of Busoso endure the floods every year, perhaps, because they have no good sense. Mr Speaker, does the Hon Minister want to say that the residents of Busoso who endure the floods and hope for relief from the Government have no good sense and that is why they continue to live there?
Mr Speaker, I am tempted to posit that, that is the understanding of my Hon Colleague. Mr Speaker, what I said was that, because the problem was perennial and we have not had the solution now, common sense or good sense should dawn -- [Interruption] -- This is because no Hon Member of Parliament would put himself or herself in harm's way. No matter how rich one is, one should have some sensitivity when it is flooding.
Mr Speaker, from the Hon Minister's response on what had been done for the past eight years in respect of Busoso, he mentioned that only enginering drawings have been under taken. Mr Speaker, I would want to find out how long it would take for the drawings to be completed so that at least, the project would start.
Mr Speaker, as I am in the saddle now, I would insist and put sufficient pressure on the engineers to conclude the engineering drawings by the close of the year and after that, I would push for some budget through the help of this august House and when moneys are released to me, I would further put pressure on them for the job to be done. That is what I would do.
Mr Speaker, I would want to know from the Hon Minister whether his Ministry would have some form of engagement with the Ministry which is handling the one million per constituency project whether we can apply such funds to solve such issues. This is because I have a similar problem in my constituency Mr Speaker, I would want to know from the Hon Minister if there are any arrangements or engagements which are on-going to use that fund to solve some of these problems.
Mr Speaker, I am tempted to believe that when the municipality should have some good money -- and these are matters of life and death -- I would urge them to apply some of the moneys to that. But essentially, the Ministry is committed to solving all the sewerage problems in the country including that of the good people of Busoso.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister in his Answer advised the people of Busoso to move out of harm's way -- I would want to know if it applies to the whole of Ghana. I would also want to be sure whether he is advising all those who are in harm's way throughout the country -- or it is his new policy of running the Ministry?
Mr Speaker, it is not the new way of running the Ministry. It is eminently good for everybody that when something is perennial, spanning eight years and more, one does not risk one's life. One does not need an Hon Member to tell him or her. Everything should dawn that if one is not careful [Interruption.] --- I would not use the word “common sense” [Laughter] -- but human sense should dawn that, one should not put himself or herself in harm's way and it cuts across the whole country. Fishermen who do not care a hoot and build close to beaches are all at risk. Mr Speaker, I would want to use this platform to tell everybody that if something recurs, perennially, one should not put himself or herself in harm's way until this Government which is committed to solving this national problem would have the resources to do so. But before that, one should make sure that one does not put himself or herself in harm's way.
Mr Speaker, I would need your guidance on this. The Hon Member who asked the Question related it to his Constituency. I believe the Hon Member has been given much assurance as to how this issue would be dealt with and you have also allowed other Hon Members to ask some questions. Mr Speaker, I would want your guidance on this. This is a constituency specific question -- because what I know is that, when constituency specific questions are asked and the Hon Member who asked the Question is all right with the Answer only few Hon Members are given the opportunity to also ask further questions -- but more than 10 Hon Member's have asked questions on this same constituency specific question and that was why -- Mr Speaker, to buttress my point, I would want to crave your indulgence to refer to Standing Orders 66 and 67 [Interruption.] --
Hon Members, Order!
Mr Speaker, maybe, time would not allow me -- [Laughter] -- [Interruption.]
Hon Member I have time. I will allow you.
Hon Members, order!
Mr Speaker, the Hon Member has already sat down. In fact, I was going to agree with him that time would not permit him to quote the relevant provision — [Laughter.]
I hope the Hon Member would assist me by referring to any part of our Standing Orders that I should use to curtail questions that Hon Members had asked. I have taken note of the fact that some previous Speakers of Parliament had insisted on restricting questions if they were constituency specific. But this is the Seventh Parliament, and the rulings of the past should not necessarily gag us. So, if Hon Members have questions which I consider relevant, I will admit them. I have seen that the only person standing has already asked questions. So, I do not intend to give him a second chance. Hon Minister, I will discharge you, unless the Hon Minority Leader wants to ask a question. We are done with the Hon Minister on this question. Hon Members, I will now call on Hon Richard Mawuli Kwaku Quashigah to ask his Question.
MINISTRY OF WORKS AND HOUSING
Mr Speaker, the primary objective of the project is to mitigate the devastating effect of sea wave action resulting in erosion of the coastline, with associated destruction of livelihood and property along the Blekusu/Aflao Coastline. The project was awarded on 6 th November, 2015, to Messrs Amandi Holdings Limited at a total contract sum of US$40,093,527.00 (forty million, ninety- three thousand, five hundred and twenty- seven United States dollars) to be pre- financed by the contractor. Actual construction work, however, started in February, 2016, due to litigation between some local citizens over the ownership of the land which is currently being used by the contractor as the project office site. The project involves the construction of a sea defence wall of about 4.3 kilometres along the affected coastline involving Blekusu, Horve and their environs within the Keta Municipality of the Volta Region. Mr Speaker, the scope of works of this sea defence project involves the construction of twenty-two (22№) armour groynes over a stretch of 4,300m. The length of each groynes is 80m long and the interval between the groynes is 200m. To date, the contractor has constructed ten (10№) of the groynes and the overall percentage of completion is about fifty per cent (50%) at a cost of US$17,597,232.00. The contractor is currently stock piling considerable amount of armour rocks to continue the project. The consultant for the project is the Hydrological Services Department (HSD). It undertakes the day-to-day supervision and monitoring of the project on behalf of the Ministry.
Mubarak Muntaka — rose
Yes, Hon Member?
Unfortunately, you did not catch my attention before he completed. So, I will give him posthumous permission to read that portion which has already been read to us. But Hon Member, you may ask your supplementary questions.
Mr Speaker, I would want to find out from the Hon Minister if he is aware that as at February, this year, the contractor had packed out of site. The last sentence of his Answer says, and I beg to read, with your kind permission: “The Contractor is currently stock piling considerable amount of armour rocks to continue the project.” Mr Speaker, if he could explain that aspect of his Answer. I say so because, as far as I know, the contractor has moved out of site.
Mr Speaker, it is the case that the stock piling is not done at the beaches and that is why we might labour under the impression that, they have stopped working. The stock piling is normally done outside and they are carted to the right places when they have enough of the rocks.
Mr Speaker, to refresh our minds, would the Hon Minister inform this House where exactly this stock piling is taking place. And what would be the motivation also for the contractor to pack all equipment out of site if stock piling is currently ongoing.
Mr Speaker, I am not fully apprised of where the stock piling is taking place. But I can furnish the Hon Member with where the stock piling is being done. I am tempted to believe it is within his constituency — [Laughter.] Mr Speaker, I cannot explain the full workings of the contractor, but I can assure him that, when we had the disaster which took me to the area, the contractor was there and he gave us the commitment that when finances improve -- we have just signed out some moneys that they are going to receive -- they would expedite it. They are very sensitive about the plight of his people.
Hon Member, you have one more supplemen- tary question.
Mr Speaker, the site where the equipment are is about 400 metres from the construction site. So, one would imagine that the Hon Minister would be able to know the reasons for which the contractor packed out of site. Mr Speaker, in addition, I would want to find out from him, when he recently visited the area during the tidal waves, what effort did his Ministry make to mitigate the plight of the over 300 people who were recently displaced by the tidal waves?
I did not get the last part of the question. Can you repeat the question?
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister visited the site recently and at the time he went there, there was a tidal wave which had displaced over 300 people. I would want to find out what mitigating measures the Hon Minister has taken to assuage the plight of the people after his tour of the affected areas. Thank you.
Mr Speaker, I did not want to wash our dirty linen in public, but the whole point of the matter is that, we owe the contractors so much that they sometimes, need to get off the scene and look for money. So, we would just give them some moneys and it would work. I do not want to go back to the poverty arrangement; so, let me move on. Mr Speaker, to mitigate the plight of our good people when we went on site, the first thing we did was that, we partnered with the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) and got those people out of harm's way.
Mr Speaker, I would like the Hon Minister to explain what he means by “armour groynes”, “armour rocks” as he referred to these in his Answer.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Member of Parliament is as lay as I am. Mr Speaker, what the contractors told me was that, these are the huge rocks; they said that when they crack these huge rocks, they give them these technical names. So, it is another name for the huge rocks they drop at the beaches. [Laughter.] I do not know whether that is what enhances their technical significance. But I have accepted it.
Mr Speaker, it appears that there is a bit of conflict between the Hon Minister and the Hon Member of Parliament about the contractor being on site or not. I would want to know when the payment was made to the contractor and when the contractor would report on site, so that Hon Quashigah would know that there is a contractor on site?
Mr Speaker, I did not get the question; if my Hon Colleague would repeat it for me.
Hon Minister, have we paid the contractor any money recently?
Mr Speaker, we have signed out some moneys, but it is in the process of getting the money -- I am tempted to believe that at the end when the moneys are lodged into the contractor's account, he would begin to work. We are policing these matters.
Mr Speaker, in the Hon Minister's Answer, there was a proposed date to start the project and an actual date to start. But we did not get the projected period within which the project would be completed. Can the Hon Minister tell us when he expects the work to be completed?
Mr Speaker, according to the tenor and spirit of the contract, the contractual date for completion is two years. So, they are still within time and it could be expedited. They have not violated the time for completion.
I was waiting because I have asked that after the Hon Member, I would give Hon Clement Humado the opportunity.
Mr Speaker, in the Answer of the Hon Minister, he mentioned a number of communities and said that they are all within the Keta Municipality of the Volta Region. Just to correct him, I would like to find out whether some of those communities are not in the Ketu South Municipality as well?
Mr Speaker, I thank the Hon Member for the insight he has given. He is a native of the area so he is very conversant with matters there. Indeed, Ketu South is part of it and that is why the good Hon Member of Parliament, Hon Fifi Kwetey was gracious enough to be with me when I did the site inspection. Thank you for the enlightenment.
Mr Speaker, in the Hon Minister's Answer, he indicated in paragraph two that the project is to be pre-financed by the contractor. If the project is to be pre-financed by the contractor, why does the issue of financing arise here? I ask because, the contractor is supposed to finish and subsequently, government would pay.
Mr Speaker, the contractor was required to pre-finance the project, but there were payment schedules as part of the contract and that is embedded in the contract. Mr Speaker, I would want to table the contract for your perusal. So, as and when the contractor proceeded to some extent, he would invoice the Government and it seems, in my view, that we are far behind the repayment timetable. Although the contractor has done 50 per cent of the job -- It was not like the contractor should take all the money at the end of the contract, but when he does considerable work, he can invoice and be paid and that would fuel the next stage of the work; these are the terms of the contract.
Hon Member for Bodi?
Mr Speaker, in view of the poverty levels in the Ministry, can the Hon Minister assure this House that the poverty level in the Ministry would not affect this particular project?
Mr Speaker, I am grateful for the self-confession of a former Deputy Minister -- [Interruption.] [Laughter.] Mr Speaker, the Hon Member who is a former Deputy Minister said “in view of the poverty level” -- this is his self- confession. So, in view of his own self- confession, we are doing everything in our power to overhaul the economy. When the economy is properly overhauled, we would have sufficient money to budget for all manner of infrastructural programmes in the country. So, he should give us some space as we overhaul the challenged economy. Thank you.
That is the end of Question time. Hon Minister, we thank you for attending upon the House to answer Questions; you are discharged.
Hon Deputy Majority Leader, where did you say the Hon Attorney-General and Minister for Justice is? [Pause.]
Mr Speaker, the Hon Attorney- General and Minister for Justice indicated earlier that she would be here. But halfway through, she had to be called back for a very urgent matter that she had to attend to. Mr Speaker, indeed, at pre-Sitting, I indicated to Mr Speaker that she would be in the House. But unfortunately, she had to be called back and she did not want a situation where she would be absent from the House as well as her Deputies. Mr Speaker, the Answer to the Question is well prepared and printed. So, with the indulgence of the House especially that of the Minority and your goodself, if the Hon Deputy Attorney- General and Deputy Minister for Justice could do so in the stead of the substantive Minister. I thank you, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, there is something happening in this House. You asked a very simple question: where is the Hon Minister? The Hon Deputy Majority Leader decided to sing a very long song to us. Mr Speaker, because she did not get any answer from the Hon Deputy Attorney-General and Deputy Minister for Justice, she decided to sing a very long song to us. Mr Speaker, can the Hon Deputy Majority Leader tell us where the Hon Attorney-General and Minister for Justice is?
Hon Deputy Majority Leader, it is all right. What you did not speak into the microphone did not come to the House. [Laughter.] We do not know his magic that --
Mr Speaker, it has been on record and it needs to be expunged from it. Unless the Hon Deputy Minority Leader, indeed, could hear from across the aisle because I do not remember uttering such a question to the Hon Deputy Attorney-General and Deputy Minister for Justice. Mr Speaker, our rules are clear. You asked a question and the answer I gave you -- [Interruption] -- He was ahead of the Hon Speaker. Mr Speaker asked a question and I answered. It is in the bosom of the Hon Speaker to determine whether my answer is satisfactory or not and not in the Hon Deputy Minority Leader's bosom. [Hear! Hear!] So, Mr Speaker, with your indulgence, I plead humbly that you allow Deputy the Hon Deputy Attorney-General and Minister for Justice to stand in her stead. I know your bosom is very comfortable for my plea. I thank you, Mr Speaker.
Very well. Hon Member for Builsa South, please ask your question.
MINISTRY OF JUSTICE
Mr Speaker, in my follow- up question, I would like to make reference to article 153 of the Constitution which sets out the composition of the Judicial Council. In the list of representation, item numbered (b) indicates Attorney-General. Mr Speaker, in the light of the fact that the Attorney-General sits as a member of the Judicial Council which is chaired by the Chief Justice, the person that the Courts Act of 1993 (Act 459) gives the powers to establish courts. Would it not have been fair for the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice to have provided me with sufficient and instructive information regarding the establishment of the court in Builsa South. I thank you, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, respectfully, the Hon Member asked of the Deputy Hon Attorney- General and Deputy Minister for Justice in this matter whether he would not consider it fair to do something. Mr Speaker, our Orders are clear on this. He is asking whether he would deem it a fair matter. Clearly, he is soliciting the expression of an opinion on this matter. Our Standing Orders provide in 67 (1) (e) and with your indulgence, I beg to quote: “a Question shall not solicit the expression of an opinion or the solution of an abstract legal case or hypothetical proposition.”
Hon Member, do you want to respond to the objection?
Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, with the combined effect of the Local Governance Act, Act 936, the Courts Act as well as the Constitution, it is our mandate indeed as he has indicated to ensure that people have justice. As well, the Hon Member of Parliament is supposed to be a participant in the course of the dispensation of justice in Builsa South. Mr Speaker, in respect of this, as the Hon Member has indicated, it has been the policy of the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice over the years to always ensure that where districts that have issues of dispensation of justice come to our attention, we act within the remits of what is given to us by the Constitution to ensure that, there is justice in each area. Provided there is anything specifically directed at the Ministry, then we answer to it, if it is within our mandate. That is what we do to actually ensure that justice is carried out in the various areas including Builsa South.
Hon Member, do you have any more questions?
Hon Member, the question is overruled.
Mr Speaker, the last question infringes upon our rules as enunciated by the Hon Majority Leader. He is asking for an opinion --
Hon Chireh, were you asking a question or offering an opinion?
Thank you, but I did not ask for your assistance to manage the process.
Mr Speaker, I wanted to respond to the Statement that was made by the Hon Majority Leader in respect of the role of the Attorney-General and Minister for Justive.
No, thank you. This is Question time and if you have a question, I would admit it. Very well. Hon Deputy Attorney-General and Deputy Ministry for Justice, thank you for attending upon the House. You are discharged. This is the end of Question time.
Hon Majority Leader, item numbered 6?
Yes, Hon Minority Chief Whip?
Hon Minority Chief Whip, kindly assist me. Under Standing Order 78, which sub-rule did you refer to?
Hon Member, very well. Let me listen to the Hon Majority Leader.
Mr Speaker, we can move a Motion of rescission when a Question has been put on any matter. Laying of a Paper does not call for the putting of a Question, either a Motion or whatever. So, I struggle to understand what the Hon Minority Chief Whip is trying to do; it has no basis in our rules of procedure. It did not involve a Question; if a Question is put and it is responded to, then one could come by a Motion of rescission. If a Paper should enter this House by being laid and he says that we are moving a Motion of rescission-- for what? Mr Speaker, respectfully, Hon Members should -- he is an Hon Minority Chief Whip and so, I would not proceed further. He is totally wrong and what he is saying has no bearing in our rules.
“a motion for the withdrawal of a Bill;” Mr Speaker, that is the Standing Order under which I came. When we laid the Bill yesterday --
A Motion for the withdrawal of what? A Motion?
No. I would want you to read that clearly. Standing Order 78(i) says that “a motion for the withdrawal of a motion”.
“As soon as sufficient copies of a Paper for distribution to Members have been received in the Office of the Clerk, notice of the presentation of that Paper may be placed on the Order Paper, and as soon as Mr. Speaker announces “Papers for Presentation” the Paper shall be deemed to have been laid on the Table”. Mr Speaker, this is the minimum requirement in this House for any Paper to be laid. Yesterday, that Business of laying the Office of the Special Prosecutor Bill, was placed on the Order Paper. It was presented but it did not meet the minimum requirement that sufficient copies should be available to the House. I come under Standing Order 78(h), therefore that because we did not meet this minimum requirement, that Bill should be deemed as not having been laid in this House. One cannot say that does not have any expression in our Standing Orders. The Hon Majority leader should tell me where in the Standing Orders -- I may be wrong and I would be happy to listen to where I went wrong. But with the greatest respect, the Hon Majority Leader knows that I have the greatest respect for him. This is because, admittedly, I have learnt a lot from him but that does not mean that when he gets up on the floor of the House -- We are Hon Colleagues here and that is why the Standing Orders say that we should treat each other with respect and address each other as Hon Members. Mr Speaker, even if someone has gone wrong and he gets up to correct him, his choice of words should be ‘honourable' and not to throw words around and say, for example, that because I am an Hon Minority Chief Whip, he is holding on to -- I think that is not fair to me. I have made a point and if he disagrees with me, he should use the Standing Orders to make his point.
Mr Speaker, respectfully, I am not here to engage in diversionary tactics. The Hon Member raised an issue and I responded head-on to it and I have no regrets. Mr Speaker, he should tell me what language I have used that was insulting or abusive. If he tells me what words I have used that were insulting or abusive, I would humbly withdraw. Mr Speaker, let him tell me the words that are insulting. He cannot get up and speak on emotions so he should tell me the words that I have used that were offensive to him. Mr Speaker, I said that he has moved for a Motion of Rescission and I said that a Motion of Rescission could only attack a decision of this House. The entry of a Paper in this House is not based on any decision and so I said to him that in that context, he cannot move a Motion of Rescission. That is all that I said and what is offensive about that? Mr Speaker, we should be decorous to each other; I strive to be decorous to everybody. If the language is hard -- Maybe, yes, I guess this language is hard but he should not say that it is offensive or insulting. I am prepared and I have often done that -- if an Hon Member or the Hon Speaker points out to me that, “Hon Majority Leader…” -- or even when I was the Hon Minority Leader -- “these are hard words so could you use other words or withdraw those words and use other words?” Mr Speaker, I have often done that but if he says that I do that often then he should tell me the occasions that I have been insulting or abusive. Mr Speaker, I insist that the issue that has been raised and the Standing Order that has been quoted and with your permission I quote: “(1) As soon as sufficient copies of a Paper for distribution to Members have been received in the Office of the Clerk notice of the presentation of that Paper may be placed on the Order Paper, and as soon as Mr Speaker announces “Papers for Presenta- tion” the Paper shall be deemed to have been laid on the Table.” Mr Speaker, it is exactly what happened yesterday. The Clerks-at-the-Table would have advised the Rt Hon Speaker that they have sufficient copies for which reason they put it on the Order Paper and it got laid. If the issue is raised that as of yet, someone does not have a copy and so what is the way forward, then that is another matter. Mr Speaker, but to come frontally with a Motion of Rescission is the issue that I tried to attack and with the greatest respect I do not think that I was insulting or abusive to the Hon Minority Chief Whip.
Mr Speaker, thank you very much. I could understand the emotional attachment of the Hon Minority Chief Whip when he referenced Standing Order 75 and the Hon Majority Leader responded courtesy the reference to a Motion. Mr Speaker, but thankfully and coincidentally, you are a lawyer, and equity looks into the substance and not the form. Therefore, Hon Muntaka raised a matter on substance and the substance is that yesterday this House, pursuant to the Standing Order 75, accommodated a Bill of an urgent nature. Presuming that copies were available and copies would be distributed we are, therefore, saying and asking that where are the copies and where is the urgency for which we suspended our rules and wanted the nation to believe --
Hon Members, the issue is who could withdraw the Motion. He said he is moving a Motion without notice and that is what he did and he anchored his application on Standing Order 78 (h). Hon Members, but Standing Order 82 of our rules provides for who could withdraw a Motion. It says: “A Member who has proposed a Motion may withdraw it, but if the Motion has been seconded he may do so only by leave of the House.” So, to be able to withdraw a Motion, it must be by the person who proposed it. Currently, as in the case proposed, then it must be with the leave of the House. This Motion or laying of Papers was not by a Motion. Secondly, whether or not sufficient copies are available is a matter of fact to be ascertained. As we sit here, nobody has put that information before the House. The Clerks are the ones who would tell us whether or not there are insufficient copies in the House. The fact that there are insufficient copies does not suggest that there are no copies. You have not been issued with a copy. Yes, you could speak to that, but it does not affirm that there are insufficient copies. The third issue I would want to raise is; is it a Paper or a Bill? Laying of Papers and Bills -- I believe the laying of Bills are regulated by Order 122 or so. So, the Hon Minority Chief Whip has a concern that a Bill which was laid in the
Hon Minority Chief Whip, let us read Order 78 (h) under which you made your application. “(78) Unless any Order otherwise provides, notice shall be given of any motion which it is proposed to make, except the following-- (h) a motion for the withdrawal of a Bill;” So, Hon Member, the point is clear now. And as I have indicated, unless you are the one in charge, you cannot do this. If you go to Standing Order 132, as I have just been advised, you would notice that you are not competent to bring this application. Standing Order 32 talks about withdrawal of Bills and I quote: “Either before the commencement of public business or at the commencement of any stage of a Bill, the Member in charge of the Bill may make a motion without notice for its withdrawal.” So, my position still stands; your Motion is not competent before the House. However, the observation you have made that there are insufficient copies would be ascertained, and as I have directed, we would make sure that Hon Members are served with copies.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, in the course of your observation and ruling on this matter, you indicated that if there was any evidence of the fact that there were insufficient copies of the Bill in this House, that would be ascertained. I would want to put it on record, in my capacity as the Deputy Ranking Member of the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, that we met this morning because the Hon Speaker referred the Bill to the Committee for a determination with respect to the urgency of the Bill. When we met this morning, we did not have a copy of the Bill. We asked the Clerk to the Committee to verify whether and the extent to which the copies had been made available, and he came back and reported that they do not have copies for even the Committee. We wanted twenty- eight copies. Mr Speaker, as I speak, I have not been able to review the Bill to see whether the Hon Minister was right in urging us to pass it under a certificate of urgency. Some of the members of the Committee are here. Mr Speaker, in the interest of the nation as a whole, this is an important Bill. We are the representatives of the sovereign people of this country, and the decisions that we take affect the welfare of the people in this country. Mr Speaker, I would want to refer you to article 1 of the Constitution which says that all the power of Government must be exercised in the name of and for the welfare of the people of this country.
On a point of order. Mr Speaker, I stand to be guided. I am confused. Mr Speaker, you have given a ruling that an ascertainment would be made. What I am not sure about is whether this is a challenge to the ruling or whether it is a process of the ascertainment. So, I would want to be guided by you whether this is part of the ascertainment or it is a challenge to the Hon Speaker's ruling.
Mr Speaker, it seems as if my Hon Friend is challenging the ruling of the Hon Speaker. I seek Mr Speaker's guidance whether this is a process of the ascertainment that Mr Speaker talked of in his ruling, or it is a challenge. If it if a challenge, my Hon Friend knows what to do. I am grateful.
Hon Members, I was trying to understand the Hon Member. You are a member of a Committee. A Bill laid in the House has been referred to your Committee. You are standing and speaking to the matter. Are you reporting on the Bill? What should the Committee do when a matter has been referred to you? If you have a Report, lay it before us, but as at now, you are a Member of the Committee purporting to share informa- tion. If that is what has happened at your Committee, let the Committee bring a Report back to the House, and then the House would work on the Report. Otherwise, my ruling is made and it stands.
Mr Speaker, you are by the Constitution and the rules of the House clothed with the mandate to interpret these rules and the Standing Orders of Parliament. Mr Speaker, in doing so, you are exercising authority and mandate on the public trust, which requires that you adhere to article 296 of the Constitution. Mr Speaker, your ruling that you want us to ascertain the facts does not please this side of the House, and we want to put it on record. It does not; we find it unacceptable. This is not a matter -- That is why we have a Clerk. The Clerk, by rules, even in the House of Commons, is the chief and principal advisor to the Speaker and Parliament on the Standing Orders.
Hon Majority Leader, I will listen to you.
Mr Speaker, we have experienced Members of Parliament in this House. If a Speaker makes a determination and it does not find favour with an Hon Member, the Hon Member knows the process to follow. He cannot just get up to say that this side of the House -- [Interruption] -- Mr Speaker, he knows the rules. He should come by a substantive Motion to challenge the Speaker. He cannot just get up to say that it does not find favour with the other side of the House. Mr Speaker, I hear Hon Members say “What is this?” This is what they should learn. If a Speaker makes a determination and it does not find favour with you, you come by a substantive Motion. That is what is done in this House, Hon Members should learn. If I say this, people say it is offensive to them. He knows the route in this House which is open to him to challenge the ruling of the Speaker. That is the first point. Mr Speaker, I believe the issue raised by the Hon Deputy Ranking Member for Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee should engage our attention. He says to us that he is stating it for the record, that as far as he is concerned, copies of the Bill had not been availed to even the Committee Members. Mr Speaker, that is something we should investigate. As far as I am concerned, yesterday, when we were in the meeting in the Hon First Deputy Speaker's office, information got to me that they had brought about 30 copies, just 30 copies of the Bills to be made available to the Committee members. Mr Speaker, before we could finish the meeting, we had this alarm sound that we should exit the House, so, we left the House. This morning, since I came, I have not been able to access my office, so it means that the Bills are stuck somewhere.
Mr Speaker, for anybody to state that he is stating it for the record that there are insufficient copies even for the Committee Members, I would tell him, and I would state for the record what information came to me. Mr Speaker, I thank you very much.
Hon Members, I am waiting for order to resume in the House, and then we can resume.
Very well. I hoped that somebody would give me a report that there is ascertainment and that it would be laid. Otherwise, I cannot see which part of the Standing Orders says that I can call on the Clerk to appear here and give a report. The Clerks advise me. I just asked that it should be ascertained. They are still sitting here. How can I ascertain and advise the Speaker? Hon Majority Leader, item numbered 6. Are we ready?
Mr Speaker, I believe that given what we have witnessed, just to allow for a cooling-off period, we can stand the items listed as number 6 down and then take an adjournment until tomorrow at 12 noon. Mr Speaker, I so move.
Mr Speaker, my wish would be that the House stands at ease for 30 minutes, so that you would do the ascertainment and we come back and know the status of the Bill before we adjourn. If I had my way, our request would be that, the House stands at ease or we suspend Sitting for 30 minutes, so that whatever ascertainment you have to do from the Table Office through the Clerk to the Majority Leader's office, you would do it and the House comes back and then we could take an adjournment.
Mr Speaker, I moved a Motion for adjournment. The rules provide that if he has a counter Motion, he should come by it. If he has no counter Motion, he either seconds it or not. Mr Speaker, I would invite an Hon Colleague on this side, the Hon Deputy Majority Leader, to second the Motion, and then we take an adjournment.
Any secondment of the Motion for adjournment?
The House was accordingly adjourned at 4.00 p.m. till Thursday, 20th July, 2017 at 12.00 noon.