VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS AND THE OFFICIAL REPORT
Hon Members, item numbered 2 on the Order Paper -- Correction of Votes and Proceedings and the Official Report. The Votes and Proceedings dated Tuesday, 13th June, 2017. Page 1, 2, 3 … 14 --
Mr Speaker, I have been trying to catch your eye since you got to page 12. Mr Speaker, if you look at paragraph 15 on page 12, the total of the proposed distribution of the GETFund, as approved, does not appear where the “Total” is stated. We only have the percentage. I am sure the figure, as approved was GH¢790,224,149.00 for the record. I just see billion.
Hon Member, thank you. Page 14, 15 … 19 --
Mr Speaker, I am sorry, but I was on my feet.
Please, proceed, Hon Member.
Mr Speaker, on page 19, it has been captured that Hon Kwabena Owusu-Aduomi presided over the meeting of the Committee on Roads and Transport, but that is not correct. Mr Speaker, the meeting was instead presided over by Hon Samuel Ayeh-Paye.
Hon Member, what was submitted by the Secretariat is what appears here. We do not want to be misled.
Mr Speaker, I am actually a member of that Committee, and I was there and what is reported here is not what happened there. The meeting was presided over by Hon Samuel Ayeh- Paye.
I direct that the Table Office should verify further and deal with that. In fact, that is why we must graduate to the level whereby Committee meetings are recorded akin to what happens in the proceedings of the House with regard to the Hansard . Hon Members, the Votes and P r o c e e d i n g s of Tuesday, 13th June, 2017, as corrected are hereby adopted as the true record of proceedings. Hon Members, we shall suspend Sitting briefly. 12.27 p.m. -- Sitting suspended. 12.45 p.m. -- Sitting resumed.
Hon Members, item numbered 3 -- Questions. The Question stands in the name of the Hon Member for Bole/Bamboi to the Hon Minister for Health.
ORAL ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS
MINISTRY OF HEALTH
Mr Speaker, the Ministry has no project currently on- going at the Bole Community Health Nurses' Training College. However, our checks revealed that the District Assembly is undertaking the ongoing construction at the school, which is funded by the GETFund. The Ministry, therefore, will advise that further clarification is sought from the Bole District Assembly by the Hon Member who asked the question.
Mr Speaker, I would want to find out from the Hon Minister whether he is aware that there exists that particular school in that district?
Mr Speaker, I am aware.
Mr Speaker, I would want to find out from the Hon Minister whether he would give some commitments because as an institution, it would add to the human development of this country. Would he supervise and assist it, so that the project is completed in good time?
Mr Speaker, District Assemblies have been helping some of the schools the Ministry has established within the system. What happens is that, the Assembly would do their own procurement and award contracts. If it is coming from the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund), they would go through the GETFund procedures to award contracts. And not until they complete and hand over the project or property to the school, I am afraid the Ministry would have nothing to do with supervision of the construction or whatsoever.
Is there any other question?
Mr Speaker --
Hon Member, you have had three. Yes, is there any other question, Hon Yieleh Chireh?
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister 's Answer gives the impression that the Ministry is not interested in how these schools are built to standard. Indeed, even if it is the District Assembly that is supporting the construction, the Ministry should be interested in the standard that they provide. I would want to find out from the Hon Minister, does he think that District Assemblies should be constructing anyhow, to have a school under his supervision?
Mr Speaker, I am afraid that is not my thinking. Some of these properties or projects in the schools -- at times, we even solicit the Assemblies to support the schools' development in their areas, but when an Assembly agrees to offer support in terms
Mr Speaker, I am making a kind application to you, even though I note that you did not allow the Hon Member in whose name the Question stands, the Hon Member for Bole/Bamboi. Mr Speaker, you allowed him one or two more supplementary questions, but because it is a constituency specific problem, if you have no difficulty, I would persuade you to allow him one more supplementary question, because it is in the interest of the --
Hon Member, one more question.
Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, from the Hon Minister's Answer, he said his Ministry provided technical support from the beginning in terms of drawings and so on. That was why I asked whether his Ministry would continue to monitor, to ensure that those specifications that are contained in the drawings would be met, because that school requires a certain standard. So, if they gave it to somebody who does not understand it well, because it is emanating from his Ministry, then we would not be able to meet the specifications. So, I am asking whether he is giving us a commitment, that he would continue to ensure that the specifications that he has given out are met through monitoring.
Mr Speaker, with some of these projects, especially GETFund projects, we have hired consultants who do supervision, to ensure that the project meets with specifications and drawings. So, the Ministry taking another responsibility to do the same thing that the consultant is doing, I am afraid, would be too much a burden on the Ministry.
Mr Speaker, I would like to ask the Hon Minister if he is aware of the general state of infrastructure of the Bole Community Nursing Training College.
Mr Speaker, I did not hear the question.
Mr Speaker, I asked him to describe to this House the general state of infrastructure of the Bole Community Nursing Training School, if he is aware as Minister.
Mr Speaker, I would have to get back and do some other checks before I would be able to answer this particular question.
Mr Speaker, in the Hon Minister's Answer, he said, and with your permission, I quote: “…our checks revealed that the District Assembly is undertaking the construction works ongoing at the school…” Mr Speaker, it is not possible for a District Assembly to carry out construction works, so, perhaps, he needs to come back to us on this one as well. District Assemblies do not carry out construction works. They could get a contractor to do it, so, this Answer is deficient of the facts. He needs to get back to us. Mr Speaker, I am aware that the Ministry of Health has a technical unit, and that even if they sublet or ask consultants to work for them, they have a technical unit that actually takes responsibility to make sure that the consultants work according to their standards. So, this Answer provided by the Hon Minister is far too deficient of the details required of the Question asked, so, maybe, he needs to come back on things like this. Mr Speaker, I repeat that District Assemblies do not carry out construction works by themselves. In any case, the GETFund cannot contract District Assemblies to carry out construction works, so, the Minister should come back again on that.
Mr Speaker, respectfully, I do not even know what my Hon Colleague who just got up tried to achieve. Mr Speaker, our Standing Orders are clear in this House. Standing Order 67 (1) (b) provides: “ a Question shall not contain any arguments, expression of opinion, inferences, imputations, epithets or controversial, ironical or offensive expressions or hypothetical cases”. Mr Speaker, the Hon Member gets up and he is arguing his case.
Mr Speaker, can he please sit down? Mr Speaker, he cannot get up when I am commenting on what he has just done. Mr Speaker, the Hon Member gets up; this is the time to ask a question, and he starts arguing that District Assemblies cannot undertake construction works. It is a matter of semantics and he starts his arguments. The Ministry of Health constructs health facilities. Even though we all know that physically, they do not undertake construction of health facilities, his question to the Ministry would be why this has not been done to specification or whatever. Is it in his Ministry? And yet he formulates the question because that is the ultimate. That sector is the ultimate and the bearer of that office is the person he is addressing the question to.
Hon Member, there is no crisis. [Laughter.] Please, rephrase it and let us make progress. Rephrase it in very simple direct terms, and it would be a clear question, then leave that to the Hon Minister.
Mr Speaker, I am very grateful for your direction. Mr Speaker, reading the Answer provided by the Hon Minister, is the Hon Minister saying that he is aware GETFund
Hon Member --
Mr Speaker, they are taking your powers. I do not understand why they are trying to take your powers.
Order! Hon Member, you have asked a question. Hon Minister?
Mr Speaker, what I am aware of is the fact that the District Assembly is undertaking the construction project and the project is being funded by the GETFund.
Thank you very much. The last question.
Mr Speaker, from the Answer of the Hon Minister, it sounds as though the Ministry is not interested in the project. Mr Speaker, I would want to find out from the Hon Minister --
Hon Member, what you said is a comment. You should ask a question.
Mr Speaker, my question is, at the end of the project, would his Ministry take responsibility for the drawing up of curriculum, engagement and the payment of staff for the training college?
Yes, Hon Minister?
Mr Speaker, this commitment that my Hon Colleague would want me to make, I need to do some other research work in terms of policy issues. Mr Speaker, we pay staff for all the schools that are being assisted and owned by the Ministry, and all the curricular and other things are done in the Ministry for all the schools. So, I do not understand or see the rationale behind my Hon Colleague trying to assume that, that particular school would be left out and we would not do anything about it. Mr Speaker, I would have to -- but I believe I have answered the Hon Member's Question.
Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, thank you very much. Mr Speaker, I would indulge you to come with me to page 7 of the Order Paper, in particular, the last two lines of the Hon Minister's Answer.
“…The Ministry therefore, will advise that further clarification is sought from the Bole District Assembly.” Mr Speaker, the further clarification to be sought by who? If he says that he would -- I would want to go to the same Standing Orders that the Hon Majority Leader quoted. If we go to Standing Order 67, and in particular, Order 67 (b), it makes mention of “epithets”. Mr Speaker, it is unkind to tell an Hon Member of Parliament that he should seek further clarification from the Bole District Assembly. Mr Speaker, in answering the Question, the Hon Minister was not responding just to the Hon Member of Parliament, but to the Parliament of Ghana. For him to tell us that the Ministry would therefore advise that further clarification is sought, I would want to know where it should be sought from, and from whom. Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister is responsible for the Bole Community Health Nurses' Training School, and since it is a functioning school, we would want to know what is happening to it. Mr Speaker, on the same rules, I would borrow the word “epithets” from the Hon Majority Leader, who also borrowed it from the Standing Orders. The Hon Minister must come properly. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister is capable of answering the Question, but I thought that, that Question had already been divided, when the Hon Minister said that the Hon Member asking the Question should seek clarification from the Bole District Assembly. Mr Speaker, I am not sure whether the Hon Member behind the Hon Minority Leader, who is throwing his hands about, would succeed in gagging me.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. [Interruption.]
Hon Members, Order!
Mr Speaker, with my experience as an Hon Member of Parliament, I know very well that some Questions are constituency specific Questions. I took this Question as a constituency specific question, and in my Answer, my thinking was to address more the Hon Colleague who asked the Question than the entire Parliament. Mr Speaker, I also know that all of us Members of Parliament are members of our District Assemblies and therefore, we can easily access certain information from those very close to us, than to ask the Hon Minister, to find that information, to come and tell when we know it already. Mr Speaker, so, that was the basis on which I answered the Question in the manner that I did. My assumption was that, I was answering the Question as a constituency specific Question, and that was why I put it that way. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Thank you very much. Hon Members, that brings us to the end of Question Time. Hon Minister, thank you very much for attending to our call and answering the relevant Questions. Thank you very much. Hon Members, item numbered 4 -- Statements. Hon Member, we have a Statement by the Hon Member for North Tongu on global terrorism.
Mr Speaker, I am grateful for the opportunity to make this Statement which seeks to denounce terrorism, solidarise with sister nations affected in these horrific times and share some perspectives on the global fight against terror. Mr Speaker, depraved terrorists are determined to make 2017 another year of senseless terror. Only last week, the Parliament and Mausoleum of Ruhollah Khomeini in Iran were attacked, killing 17 people and leaving 52 injured. Before this, Britain came under another attack. And in as many months, terrorists, armed with a van and knives, inflicted mindless horror on pedestrians on London Bridge and the borough market, leaving eight dead and 48 people injured. This happened at a time when Britain and the world was yet to recover from the shock of the Manchester Arena bombing, that claimed the lives of 22 persons and injuring 116 concert goers, most of whom were teenagers. Preceding this was the vehicle and stabbing attack at Westminster that left five dead and 49 injured. Earlier in April, Russia was at the mercy of a suicide bomber who blew up Saint Petersburg Metro on the day President Vladimir Putin was due to visit the city, killing 16 people and injuring 64. Mr Speaker, other nations such as the United States of America, Germany, France, Italy, Sweden, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Lebanon, Turkey, India, Australia, Colombia, Nigeria, Cameroon, Algeria, Egypt, Mali and Libya, have not been spared this evil visitation. Indeed, thus far, in 2017 alone, Wikipedia's tracking of terrorist attacks in its list of terrorist incidents concludes as follows: January recorded a total of 156 incidents February recorded a total of 117 incidents March recorded a total of 106 incidents April recorded a total of 99 incidents May recorded a total of 152 incidents with June so far recording 47 incidents. In essence, 2017 has so far recorded a scaringly mind-boggling 677 terrorist incidents, and we are only in the middle of the year. Without a scintilla of doubt, the global fight against terror must engage the attention and effort of all mankind, including this Parliament. An attack on any citizen of the world and on any nation must equally be an attack on us. We share a common humanity and these incidents diminish humanity in its universality. As Martin Luther King, Jnr. aptly puts it: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to Justice everywhere.” In any case, Mr Speaker, it ought not be lost on us, that the effects of this terror jamboree, even when we are not directly victims, impacts adversely on our daily lives. The downright humiliation we go through at airport checkpoints when travelling since 9/11 is a clear example. The invasion of our privacy by governments and the global intelligence community has left all of us virtually naked in the current scheme of things. Certainly, the terrorism fever has also led to a troubling condition of general suspicion and mistrust for one another. The human race has never been so mistrustful of other nations, other religions and other ideologies, perhaps, even more flow than the cold war era. Mr Speaker, there is the temptation to assume that because Ghana has so far escaped unscathed, it may not be a target of terrorist organisations and therefore, we may opt for a “business as usual” approach. Nothing can be more reckless and dangerous to our very existence. The reality is that, modern terrorism is a messy-free-for all, without boundaries and limitations, and no country or nationality stands immune. Mr Speaker, this House must ensure that it offers all the assistance we can marshal, to support the three Arms of Government in protecting our territorial integrity and guaranteeing safety for all Ghanaian lives. Mr Speaker, in this fight against global terror, we must begin to make some honest admissions. We must concede that we have not been that successful in this fight, because we are not confronting certain hard truths. Though there can be no justification for terrorism, all nations must commit to building a fair and just world. We cannot continue to actively fund and resource terrorist groups to fight our enemies on our behalf, in myopic suicidal proxy wars in Syria, Libya and Iraq, and still expect to achieve positive results in the war against terror. It is on this note that, I must commend the nine Arab countries, who last week cut diplomatic ties with Qatar, demanding that Qatar stops funding terrorist groups, even though I am not oblivious of other dynamics in this rather complicated diplomatic tiff. More of this must happen even to the greatest of nations that stand implicated in tacitly supporting terrorist organisations, and their warped ideologies when it suits these nations. We cannot win the war against terror without courage and truth. When some nations intervene with faulty intelligence and without weighing the full consequences of their actions, like they did in Iraq, Libya and Syria, they indirectly grow and strengthen terrorist organisations, gifting them with a safe haven. When we pretend publicly that we do not negotiate with terrorists, but succumb to their ransom demands behind the scenes, we resource them and by so doing, sustain their reign of senseless cowardice. Mr Speaker, non-State actors such as weapon manufacturers and the wealthy chief executives of cyberspaces must stop abdicating. All weapons used by terrorists, when found out, must attract severe sanctions on the companies that manufacture those weapons. We cannot continue to allow these companies to go scot-free, as they enjoy their blood-stained profits. Likewise, sanctions must apply to social media owners, who allow their media to be used to radicalise the youth and recruit terrorists. Mr Speaker, the media, global and domestic, I submit with all humility, ought to review the way they report terror incidents. The media must ensure that their reportage does not glorify the evildoers, nor give them the attention and pleasure they crave for.
Thank you very much, Hon Okudzeto Ablakwa, for this well-read Statement.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, for giving me this opportunity to contribute to the Statement ably made by my good Friend, Hon Okudzeto Ablakwa, from the North Tongu Constituency. Mr Speaker, I share the emotional views of my Hon Colleague. But Mr Speaker, we all abhor the reasons most of us have read about as the causes of terrorism. The root causes, some of which my Hon Friend mentioned, could be based on ideological reasons, religious beliefs, geo-political reasons or consideration, lack of education and economic reasons. The Hon Member who made the Statement referred to the issues within the Middle East, more especially the recent feud between the Saudis, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, against the Qataris. Mr Speaker, those are slippery grounds that one has to be very careful in making statements or comments about. The issues out there are mostly on economic and religious reasons. The Sunnis and the Shias have their problems, and if you do not understand how complicated those issues are, you would tend to fall into a big trap and send this country into the media for the wrong reasons. Mr Speaker, Manchester, the London Bridge, Pakistan and Iraq, have all suffered from these issues of terrorism recently and we must condemn it. Last night, a twenty-four storey building in South Kensington was set ablaze and investigations are still going on about the root causes of the fire outbreak. Mr Speaker, I believe Ghanaians must condemn all these acts of terrorism. Mr Speaker, in supporting this Statement, one must ask the preparation this country is making towards averting some of these terrorist issues. What are the security agencies doing to protect the citizens of this country, when one goes to the restaurant, the night club and the beaches? Strategic security installations, like the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG), Volta River Authority (VRA) and what have you, what steps are these institutions putting in place to avert some of these occurrences? Mr Speaker, these are some of the things that must occupy our thoughts as a House, to ensure that each and every one of us is safe and protected from this act of terrorism. I thank you very much, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity.
Thank you very much.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to contribute to the Statement that has been ably made by Hon Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa. In doing so, I want to commend him for acknowledging the complicated diplo- matic tip, as far as development in Qatar recently is concerned. Mr Speaker, in my contribution, I would like to also add to the many calls that have been made in the past, for the security of Parliament to be enhanced, not because I do not find the need for such to be done at other institutions across the country, but because I work here. Also, if we consider the attacks across the world, many countries have had their Parliaments suffer from some of these terrorist attacks. Mr Speaker, so, it becomes pertinent for us to hasten to beef up the security of this House, since we are targets by just the examples that we have seen somewhere. Mr Speaker, I would also like to add that, when terrorism is discussed, it is often ignorantly put by some as being a religious matter. Mr Speaker, this being the holy month of Ramadan, and in associating with this Statement, I would just like to urge the media to help in educating people about some of the underlying causes of these terrorist acts that we have seen across the world, instead of the lazy approach of always assigning it to religion. Mr Speaker, Islam is a very beautiful religion which preaches peace, which also enjoins its adherents to show compassion and love. In fact, in the Quran, it is stated clearly that, there is no compulsion in religion. Again, it is stated that, you have your religion and I have mine, worship your Lord, and I worship my Lord. Mr Speaker, some ignorantly would make references to other portions of the Quran where Jihad is emphasised without recourse to the history of the religion and also the context within which some of these things were captured in the religion at the time. Mr Speaker, for example, one would find in the Quran, that when the verse was released through the Prophet, Mohammed, Sall Allahu alayhiwa- sallam, one finds that it talks about defending oneself and one's rights and ensuring that one does not have impediments in one's way of worship.
The Prophet, after that, urges Muslims to ensure that they do not go beyond defending themselves, because God knows best, and once they are able to get the enemy to retreat, they are advised to go and follow their religion and worship. They were not to be aggressors, but they were to protect themselves in those days. But today, the reasons for which the Muslims are called upon to take up Jihad have changed. It no longer has to do with wielding of weapons, but the show of knowledge, which is also emphasised in the religion and through the teachings of the Holy Prophet, when he says that even if knowledge is in China, you must seek it. That is the challenge to the Muslim Umar today, to seek knowledge and to use that knowledge which is used by others to change this world, to change the world in the way of the Lord. Mr Speaker, in conclusion, I would also like to talk about how fertile our country is for the recruitment of terrorist activities. Mr Speaker, it is clear that with our failing educational system that excludes more people than it embraces -- that also ensures that graduates who are able to go through the system turn out as literates instead of wholesale educated products of this country, it is a recipe for disaster as a country. I would wish that our educational practitioners take a critical look at this. Mr Speaker, to dovetail this argument properly, I would like to link it to the issue of joblessness and the recent lamen- tations of His Excellency the President, when he also admitted that we, indeed, need to look at our educational system and the kind of graduates we produce, as a way of curing the joblessness that we find ourselves in this country. It is because our educational system does not produce the calibre of people our economy needs at this time, that is why it is important for us to ensure that we do not allow what pertains now to persist. This is because if we do, we would exclude many more from being educated. Those who graduate would not even be educated, they would just be literates and because of that, they would not be able to get the required jobs that they need, then they would become ready hands for the terrorists to employ. Mr Speaker, also, the growing lawlessness in this country is something that we must be worried about. It is my prayer and hope that, other political parties would not emulate the bad example of forming regional, district and constituency vigilante groups -- [Hear! Hear!] -- This is because, we would again have elections in future, and if other political parties emulate that bad example of having regional, district and constituency vigilante groups, God forbid, we would create the situation where terrorists would find this country a very good place to recruit their agents. Mr Speaker, on that note, I want to thank you, once again, for the opportunity to associate myself with the Statement made by Hon Ablakwa, the Hon Member of Parliament for North Tongu Constituency. Thank you.
Thank you very much, Hon Member. Hon Afenyo-Markin?
Hon Member, this is not a Ramadan Statement.
Hon Member, last contribution.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. I would like to associate myself with the Statement made by the Hon Samuel O. Ablakwa, Member of Parliament for North Tongu. As a nation, we cannot sit aloof and suggest that there is no threat to Ghana's nationhood from terrorism as it exists in the world today. We have seen the attacks on a university in Kenya, simply because Kenyan forces engaged in fighting --
Hon Dr A. A. Osei?
Mr Speaker, with your permission, I would like to refer to Standing Order 70 (2), which says that, when there is a Statement and Hon Members comment, they should not provoke debate.
Hon Members, let us accommodate and contribute. It is very important for us to know the parameters of a Statement and our contributions thereto. I think that it is a useful guide. Hon Member, you may continue.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. I made reference to Kenya and the attack --
Hon Member, just contribute.
Mr Speaker, I continue. I made reference to Kenya and the attack on a university there. This was simply because of the actions of Kenyan defence forces in the fight against a globally recognised terror group, Al-Shabaab. Today, as we speak, Ghanaian soldiers are stationed in Mali as part of a United Nations (UN) intervention force which is fighting terror groups in that country. This clearly tells us that, sometimes, nations have become recipients of terrorist attacks because of the actions of their forces in fighting global terror. As a nation, this must make us sit up, and ask ourselves what our defence mechanisms are to protect the lives of Ghanaian citizens, both within and outside the country?. Mr Speaker, again, taking cognisance of the religious context that Hon Sayibu brought into the discussion, it is important that as a Government, we must begin to look at the room that has been created in our country for radicalisation and fundamentalism to grow in certain religions. We would note that a Ghanaian, who happened to be a graduate of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) by name Mo- hammed Nazir Nortei Alema, joined the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), after graduating. This is simply because of the radicalisation that went on with the young man. Also, Ghana has been on the receiving end of a terror group like ISIS's callousness, when a Ghanaian by name Kofi Frimpong Sekyere, was abducted by ISIS troops in Ethiopia for being a Christian. He was beheaded, along with 29 other Christians by the terror group. It is extremely important that, as a nation, we begin to take steps. Mr Speaker, even with Parliaments, we saw the attack on Westminster, which led to the death of a security officer in the British Parliament. I appreciate the steps Leadership of the House has taken to ensure security of Parliament and Members of Parliament. However, more could be done. This is because, many a time, one walks into the lifts that have been reserved for Members of Parliament and there would be several other people using those lifts. Many times, we sit in our offices and people come in and they have gone through all the security checks, without recourse to the Member of Parliament. So, we need to understand that there is an existential threat to us in this country, and as a nation, we must come together and ensure that we fight against the threat of terror. Mr Speaker, in conclusion --
Hon Member, thank you very much. Leadership would now contribute, if they so wish.
Yes, Hon Minister for Defence?
Thank you very much Hon Minister.
I would take one contribution from Leadership, so, please, make up your minds. [Laughter.] That was why I used the word “Leadership”. One Leadership, one contribution. Minority Leadership, you can contribute.
Minority Leadership, your contribution if any?
Mr Speaker, thank you very much for the opportunity to speak to this very important Statement that has been made today on the floor of Parliament, and to say that, each time the issue of terrorism is mentioned, or being discussed, those who really feel very uncomfortable are Muslims, for obvious reasons. Mr Speaker, we share the pain of all the people who have suffered in one form or the other, out of terrorism in the world. And we also share the pain that families go through after terrorism attacks. But let me say, if we read the history of the world, at almost every point in time, we have had one turbulent time of terrorism activity or the other. But the recent one, I am told, history has it as one of the worst periods in modern civilisation. Mr Speaker, my Hon Colleagues have spoken at length about terrorism and its effects. I just want to talk about two things. First, the position of Islam on terrorism. One cannot be a Muslim and involve him or herself in an act of terrorism. This is because, Islam is driven by three things. The most superior thing that drives Islam is the Quran. The second is the ‘Hadiths', that is the doings and sayings of the Holy Prophet, and the third one is the thought of ‘ullama', that is world Islamic scholars, putting themselves together and looking at modernisation and then making ‘fatwa' on it. Mr Speaker, in all these three levels, one cannot support an act of terrorism by the conduct and teachings of Islam. But sadly, what has been noticed around the world is, when people have their grievances and challenges, they would want to ride on the back of religion to act and misbehave. This has not only happened to Muslims. We all remember the Northern Ireland resistance and the activities that went on. We remember India, under Mahatma Ghandi, et cetera. If we look at the struggles of the blacks in America, all of them at one time or the other, had to do one thing in the name of the cause. But I say again that, it cannot be Islam. This is because, it is said by the Holy Prophet, Swallallahu Alaihim wasallam, that one cannot be a believer until the person wishes for his or her neighbour, what he or she wishes for him or herself. He did not talk about even a Muslim neighbour. He talks about a neighbour. When we take a critical example, for instance, the one that is nearest to us — Boko Haram — the activities of Boko haram affects Muslims more than any other group. So, how can somebody claim that he or she is fighting for Islam, meanwhile, those who are his victims are also Muslims. It clearly shows that there is something the person is fighting for, but not Islam. Mr Speaker, the second thing that I would want to talk about is the way we fight terrorism. The method that we use to fight terrorism around the world is a big concern. In my humble opinion, until we revise the way we fight terrorism, it may be extremely difficult for us to be able to deal with it completely. Mr Speaker, this is because an act of terrorism is an act of terrorism, no matter who is involved. One does not need to add a name to it. This is because the moment it happens, and the perpetrators are Muslims, if we say that it is Islamic fundamentalist, we are indirectly emboldening a radical group. We just name the individuals and deal with them as criminals. Mr Speaker, today, the only crime that other governments are using to undermine and deprive people of their rights is to say that they are terrorists. And nobody will ask any question because, in their case, when one is called a terrorist, the person does not need to be judged in a court or be given a fair hearing. All they need to do is to shoot and kill the person, and everybody thinks that is right. Mr Speaker, something happened in France some few years ago, and all of us shared the pain. But when they went to the apartment where the mother of the so- called terrorist lived, the Police fired 500 bullets and mutilated completely the body of the mother. By that act, one is breeding another terrorist. That is why it is not surprising that in the United States of America (USA), a trained doctor could turn himself into a terrorist. It is not surprising that a well- trained army officer of the USA will just wake up and take the gun and start shooting his own colleagues. If we do not change the method — The method that we are using itself naturally breeds terrorists. This is because, when we use a plane to go and bomb an area, and wake up to say that we are sorry, those innocent people have lost their lives — By that act, we are indirectly producing others. And I believe that the world should wake up to the method of fighting it. This is because, if we fight it like any other crime — that one is dealt with as somebody who has committed a crime, with the greatest respect, whether the person is a Buddhist, a Hindu, a Christian or a Muslim — It will be the fastest way of killing the act of people coming together and to think that they could ride on religion to be able to do the things that they are doing.
Hon Member, please, wind up.
Thank you, Hon Deputy Majority Leader. Hon Members, I have two youth related Statements; one in the name of the Hon Abena Durowaa Mensah and the other in the name of Hon Dafeamekpor. We shall take the two Statements together and also contribute on them together, thereafter to save time and to give more Hon Members the opportunity to also make Statements. The behaviour and habits of some of our youth
Thank you, Mr Speaker , for granting me the opportunity to make a Statement on the behaviour and habits of some of our youth. Mr Speaker, it is said that charity begins at home, but when one looks around the environment and sees the kind of lifestyle and behaviour our future leaders are exhibiting, one would wonder if their parents are really living up to their responsibilities. Mr Speaker, I have observed with keen interest, the kind of behaviour, attitude and improper dressing our youth have been exhibiting in recent times, which leaves much to be desired. Out of youthful exuberance, our leaders of tomorrow have gone wayward and if care is not taken, they will blame us for their failures in future. Mr Speaker, the lifestyle and physical appearance of our youth are unacceptable and unGhanaian. It was very dishear- tening to witness some of our youth (both boys and girls), between the ages of 14 and 18 years smoking and drinking alcoholic beverages at the Labadi beach, in the afternoon of 11th March, 2017. Mr Speaker, also, many of the vendors of these hard liquors and cigarettes were very young boys. Out of curiosity, I took the pain to interview one of these youth who was just 13 years old and he told me his mother was the one who had sent him to sell these items. Mr Speaker, parents, teachers, chiefs, the clergy and the Government as a whole, have such a huge responsibility on our hands to protect the society, especially the youth, from these social vices. I am therefore appealing to this august House, as a matter of urgency, to come up with pragmatic measures to help forestall this wayward behaviour of our future leaders. Mr Speaker, the social media is also playing a significant role in this waywardness of our youth. Instead of harnessing the huge potentials these social media platforms offer for their social development and advancement, our youth are rather learning the bad side of western culture on Whatsapp, Twitter, Facebook and others.
Mr Speaker, the Children's Act enacted by this House, frowns upon such acts of the youth, and the law if enforced, will bring irresponsible parents to book. I believe that the nation as a whole, including parents, teachers, the arms of government and everyone alike, are saddled with the irresponsible behaviour of our future leaders and as a result, have a huge role to play in helping to curb this growing social canker among our youth. Mr Speaker, it is believed by psychologists that by age six, a child would have formed his or her behavioural and cognitive skills which impacts on their habits. So, in order to curb this menace, it behoves parents to train their children very well. Parents should also desist from exhibiting certain negative behaviours and practices in the presence of their children because, children are fond of copying such habits. Parents should be particularly interested in all activities their children are involved, the kind of friends they make, their friends' families and where they live and the kind of things they watch and follow on television (TV) and the various social media platforms they are on. Closer supervision is very much a remedy, needed in this regard, to help monitor and correct such negative behaviours identified in the youth, especially in their early formative years.
Hon Members, the Hon Second Deputy Speaker to take the Chair. Hon Member, you would continue. Mr Speaker, parents should also instil confidence and trust in their wards to let them open up whenever they are faced with problems of any kind. Mr Speaker, the behaviours of the youth can also be checked by organising training programmes for the various youth groups and by encouraging a lot more of our youth to participate in church or religious activities, instead of allowing them to engage in such activities. Etiquettes and proper training should also be included in the educational curricular to help minimise the incidence of these vices. Mr Speaker, I believe if these proactive measures are adopted and assiduously worked at, they would help stem the tide of these unacceptable behaviours our youth engage themselves in. Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity.
MR SECOND DEPUTY SPEAKER
Yes, Hon Member?
Mr Speaker, I am not reading a Statement. I am to comment on the Statement made by my Hon Colleague on the other side.
Exactly; that is why I recognised you.
Mr Speaker, before you took the Chair, an earlier direction by the Rt Hon Speaker was that, there was another Statement related to the one that has just been read and the two should be read, so that we take the debate for both. So, if Mr Speaker could allow the second Statement to be read. I thank you.
It was by Hon Abena Durowaa Mensah.
The second Statement stands in the name of the Hon Rockson-Nelson Etse Dafea- mekpor. Please, you can make the Statement. Unlawful sale of admission forms by public tertiary institutions
Very well. Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity. The unlawful sale of admission forms to public tertiary institutions is gradually gaining leverage in our society, especially in the education subsector. This phenomenon, Mr Speaker, is the sale of admission forms to prospective applicants to public universities, colleges of education, health training institutions and technical institutes, among others. It was a phenomenon that no one imagined would get to this economically dizzying height, as we see today. Vice Chancellors, Rectors and Principals have turned into cash-cows. Prospective Ghanaian applicants seeking entry into these respective public institutions of higher learning, have practically been milked dry even before they are offered any hope of higher learning opportunities. Mr Speaker, presently, the situation has assumed alarming proportions. Why? This is because, one is required to fill out and/or complete admission forms as part of the application processes to get admitted to these public universities and colleges. The decision to admit or not to admit, rests with the particular university. However, these admission forms are now sold at costly prices. Mr Speaker, on the average, they are sold for about GH¢250.00 each, with an additional amount of say, GH¢20 being charged as service fees, if you purchased these forms through the banks. In these forms, the various courses are outlined. Whereas almost all of the courses have requirements of up to aggregate 24/ 30 or better, as the case may be, the cut-off points for admission for some of the programmes are pegged at between aggregates 6 and 9. The vexing questions, therefore, are these: Why sell a large number of forms to students far more than you can admit? What accounts for the high costs of these admission forms, including the online ones? Mr Speaker, the reasons cannot be far-fetched, as these universities and colleges have developed the penchant to milk the already vulnerable graduates, mostly from second cycle institutions seeking opportunities for higher learning in our publicly-funded universities. Mr Speaker, what this does is that, at the end of every admission cycle, the amount of money and/or financial resources that get into the accounts of these universities and colleges, come as almost free moneys unlawfully obtained from innocent, vulnerable but desperate members of our society, much in contravention of articles 25 (l) (c) and 38 (1) of the 1992 Constitution. Mr Speaker, the statistics make very shocking revelations. It is estimated that this year alone, about 400,000 individually qualified Ghanaians would purchase and successfully apply for admission to various programmes of study in these
We may now take comments on the two Statements. My attention is drawn to the Hon Lady directly in front of me. [Interruption.] The one closer to me than the one behind. Sorry, if I cannot get your name. Naana Eyiah (NPP-- Gomoa Central): Thank you, Mr Speaker, for granting me this opportunity to comment on the Statement made by Hon Abena Durowaa Mensah. Mr Speaker, I must say that the indecent dressing of our youth is all over the place. Even in our churches, our youth are not dressing properly. I pray that all concerned should come on board and help straighten the path of our youth. Thank you, Mr Speaker, for allowing me. I am grateful. [Hear! Hear!].
Yes, Hon Clement?
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for giving me the opportunity to comment on the Statement ably made by my Hon Colleague --
Hon Members, I hope you would all be guided by the comment we just heard from Hon Naana Eyiah.
Very well. Mr Speaker, I will keep it very short.
That is how comments should be made on Statements. You do not try to take advantage of somebody's Statement to also make a Statement. [Laughter.]
Very well. Mr Speaker, I was almost tempted but thanks for drawing my attention. It is well appreciated. Very shortly -- I believe that the challenge we face with regard to the dressing of our youth in this country has come to a crescendo. It is about time that we began to have this conversation. But my own contribution to this Statement is that it all comes down to family values. Mr Speaker, if we as parents, aunties and uncles could imbibe in the young ones in our families the need to dress [NAANA EYIAH] properly and appropriately for specific and contextual events, I believe that would help us resolve the challenge. Mr Speaker, but we must not underplay the role of peer influence as well as social media. It is within this context that I would want to call on our moral society in particular, to also take this challenge up, and let us do what we can, to ensure that what has now become popularly known as “Otto Pfister” for the boys, and I hear the girls are also beginning to emulate, becomes a thing of the past. Mr Speaker, with these brief comments, I duly thank you for giving me the opportunity.
Mr Speaker, thank you very much.
Mr Speaker, my name is Hon Nana Akua Owusu Afriyie. Mr Speaker, there is an adage that says we should train up a child in the way he or she should grow, and when they are old, they would never depart from it.
Mr Speaker, it is in the Bible. [Laughter] -- I would find out the verse later. Mr Speaker, we are all aware of the fact that most of our youth dress shabbily these days. Some of the dresses of our ladies, especially in the universities, are too tight and very short. Some of them are really dangling around our husbands.
It is very pathetic when one is in her forties and fifties, and sees her husband watch somebody's -- it is very painful. [Laughter] -- Mr Speaker, the men are happy. Mr Speaker, I would not want to say much about these things. We are aware of what is going on in our society. I feel it is the responsibility of parents and the schools to teach some of these etiquettes and norms. This is so that when the children grow and come out of school, they would realise that some of these things are not appropriate. There is another canker that is destroying the fibre of our society, which is the wanton craze among the youth today to get rich overnight. This leads them to vices like internet fraud, sakawa, and fake gold fraud. Mr Speaker, I was once approached about four years ago, by a young man in his early thirties, who said he could wash the dollar for me. He called somebody and said I should pay GH¢4,000 to a certain man. At the end of the day, he could wash the dollar and we could get a lot of money. Well, I refused; but I wondered that somebody may be a victim to such a situation. Mr Speaker, the rate at which fake gold is gaining currency among our youth is very alarming. This is seriously affecting the image of our society and Ghana as a whole. About a year or two ago, there was a businessman from Germany who seriously and pathetically complained on television that he had been duped by two young Ghanaian men, who promised they would give him gold. He also gave out all he had, because he knew that in his country, probably when there is an agreement with somebody, at the end of the day, it is achieved. Mr Speaker, but this was a situation where two young men duped the man. I do not think that encourages investors to come into our country. Mr Speaker, I would like to suggest that we urge our teachers to have lessons concerning etiquette and behavioural attitude in schools, so that the parents would also contribute. Parents should also make it a point, whichever way it is, to attend school programmes, so that they would know the attitude of their children. Parent-Teacher Associations are very important, and they would be briefed about the behaviour of their children. We should also ensure that we know who our children associate with and the societies they get themselves involved in. Some of them would close from school, and go to beaches before they come home. When we know all these things, we could, at least, curb certain situations before they become worse. On this note, I thank you, Mr Speaker, for giving me this wonderful opportunity.
Some of you have been on the floor a number of times. Let me recognise those who are not too -- Yes, the female Hon Member by Hon Sayibu Suhuyini Alhassan?
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity. Mr Speaker, I would like to comment on what my Hon Colleague just said. Mr Speaker, there is a medicine going round the Kintampo South Constituency called Tramadol, which for some reason, when it is taken -- Mr Speaker, excuse me to say, I hear it is more than cocaine. It is really destroying them. When I found out, I tried to research into it. I then realised that it was almost everywhere, especially among the students. It is not supposed to be an over the counter medication. It is supposed to be medication that a prescription is needed to buy; but it is everywhere. Mr Speaker, it is very sad that this medicine is used to rape the students. [Interruptions] -- Yes; because when it is given to them -- [Interruptions] -- Excuse me, it is to rape the ladies and not the men. [Interruptions.] Mr Speaker, this is very serious and it is destroying our young ones.
Hon Member, you saw that I was jostled on my Seat, because you have to give fuller particulars on how you can use the medicine to rape. I do not know how that can be done.
Mr Speaker, they use it to induce the young girls.
Hon Member, to induce -- to seduce --
Mr Speaker, to seduce or induce.
It is to seduce. [Interruptions.]
I can see a medical officer on his feet. He may want to assist you, if you are prepared to yield.
Mr Speaker, thank you very much. Mr Speaker, my Hon Colleague just asked for the Standing Orders -- I rise on a point of order -- Order 92 (1) (b), and I beg to quote, with your permission: “(b) to elucidate some matter raised by the Member speaking in the course of his speech, provided that the Member speaking is willing to give way and resume his seat, and that the Member wishing to interrupt is called by Mr. Speaker.”
That is why I recognised you.
Mr Speaker, I am grateful. Mr Speaker, I would want to explain that Tramadol is a painkiller, which is not like Ibuprofen or Diclofenac; it is centrally active. What it means is that, it interferes with the brain's perception of pain, so that one has the pain but is not able to perceive it or know that he or she is going through pain. In some people, one of the side effects is that, it makes them drowsy and a bit sedated. So, for those who have such side effects, it is possible to get them in a state where there is a disconnect between their perception and what is real. In that
So, Hon Member, you may continue.
Mr Speaker, so, these are some of the things happening to the youth now. Also, I am happy that the Hon Member mentioned cigarettes and so on. I think the District Chief Executives, Hon Members of Parliament and the Hon Minister for Education could go round to make sure that these medications are not administered over the counter, but they have to be administered based on prescription. Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity.
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity. Mr Speaker, I rise to comment on the Statement by the Hon Etse Dafeamekpor. It is in our Constitution that education is a right. Unfortunately, it is becoming the preserve for the few rich among us. In assessing that right, I believe that those who have the power to provide that right, must do it in a manner that the people who are seeking to achieve that right, could achieve it easier. Mr Speaker, unfortunately, if we look at the amount of money we have to pay before we gain admission to the universities, it becomes burdensome for those of us coming from the villages. This is because, if one has to pay GH¢250 just for the admission form which does not guarantee their being admitted into the university. Even if they succeed, how are they going to see themselves through the university? There are many people who come to Members of Parliament and I am sure that, some of my Hon Colleagues face this almost every day in their lives. People would even come to ask for money to buy the university forms, giving an indication that when they succeed, they may come for the fees. We also have to pray that, they succeed. But what we are saying is that, the universities must not use this as a means of generating money for themselves. Mr Speaker, I am sure that there would be some work that they would do in terms of the selection process and so on. It would lead to some costs, but to make it become one stream of their revenue, is too difficult for all of us to bear. This is because, in the final analysis, the people who want to get education may not even get it. Mr Speaker, I believe we should send clear signals to the universities that they are there to help us achieve that right which has been enshrined in the Constitution. In doing that, they must not use it as a way of preventing us from enjoying that right. They should reduce the fees for the forms. This is because I do not think that so much money is spent in printing those forms. Mr Speaker, I do not think that so much money is spent going through the selection process. Meanwhile, they even have their own Internally Generated Funds (IGFs). Mr Speaker, I think the right signals should be sent to them. With these few words, I thank you for the opportunity.
I am tempted to recognise the young Hon Member standing behind -- Is that the Hon Deputy Minister for Education? Deputy Minister for Education (Ms Barbara A. Ayisi) (MP): Mr Speaker, yes and thank you for the opportunity. I wish to comment on the Statement on the floor and I would want to focus on improper dressing. It is sad to find our children parading indecently dressed. I would want to say that we could help our children to learn the proper way of dressing by introducing home economics clubs in the various institutions. This is where they would be groomed on how to dress, what to wear, how to wear them and when to wear them.
The Hon Ladies are showing the way. It is my prayer that the Hon Gentlemen would follow the good example that they are setting. Let me recognise Hon Sayibu; he has been itching to speak.
Mr Speaker, thank you very much for the opportunity to contribute to the Statement by my Hon Colleague -- Hon Etse Rockson-Nelson Dafeamekpor.
“Mr Speaker, this House must act to ensure that doors to public tertiary institutions are not closed to otherwise qualified Ghanaians on grounds of high cost and non- affordability of admission forms.” Mr Speaker, as I associate with that Statement, especially, I would also caution that we do not hear explanations and charges of academic freedom when the universities are called upon. In times past, our universities got away with so many things and have run into battles with past governments, because of the claim that when governments or people in authority require them to do what they think is right, they run under the cloak of academic freedom. What is academic freedom? Academic freedom, according to the dictionary, is the conviction that the freedom of inquiry by the faculty members is essential to the mission of the academy as well as the principles of academia, and that scholars should have freedom to teach or communicate ideas. Mr Speaker, you would agree with me that even in putting up a tollbooth, we have heard the charges of academic freedom when it is resisted. Again, I hope that when we call on universities to scrap these fees charged for admission forms, we are not going to be charged with interfering with the academic work of these institutions. As we speak, Ghana Institute of Management of Public Administration (GIMPA), University for Professional Studies (UPS) and University of Education, Winneba, are all off Government subvention and are being run with the IGFs that they get from their universities. So, it is sometimes worrisome when we have some of our traditional universities such as the University of Ghana, Legon and others who charge these fees that we are talking about, just like those already mentioned institutions do. But still they
Hon Members, we have another Statement and we also have a Bill to consider. May I get some assistance from Leadership; how many contributors should I take? Three or four?
Mr Speaker, if we may allow a maximum of three contributors, then we could bring the curtain down.
Mr Speaker, while associating myself with the Statement made by Hon Dafeamekpor, that the fee for admission forms are high -- it is true and especially because, as Hon Members of Parliament, once admissions are opened, our constituents come to us to assist them buy these forms. I am not surprised that an Hon Member had come close to this, and indeed, indicated that it costs some money to do this. Mr Speaker, as we complain about the cost, I believe we must lay our complaints at the right post. In the sense that it is true, in terms of the forms that the universities sell, they outnumber the numbers that they take. Mr Speaker, but because of sheer numbers these days, working on these forms alone takes a lot of money. I heard the Hon Member who made the Statement say that they use internet but this is not for free -- it comes at a cost -- they pay electr ic i ty bi l l s. Mr Speaker, a visit to any of the admission offices like Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), that I know of, would tell you that with the sheer numbers, they would sometimes need to hire temporary labour to assist in sorting and sometimes, it takes days. Mr Speaker, if we could imagine one university selling about 100,000 forms and they would have to take time to select and constitute panels to interview -- All of these cost some money and there is no other way, but charge some fees on the forms that they sell. Mr Speaker, if indeed, as a House, we think that this is becoming burdensome, then I believe that we must complain to the Government. This is because, these days, subvention to the universities is almost nothing. Apart from salaries, nothing else comes. Recently, if we would remind ourselves, when the Hon Minister for Finance came here -- the universities have also been affected by capping. So, whatever forms that they sell, a certain percentage must go to government. So, I believe that yes, it is burdensome and it is affecting us, but we must lay the blame at the door steps of the Government. If Government thinks the universities must stop selling forms, the Government must be prepared to increase subventions to the universities -- not only salaries but the day-to-day recurrent expenditure, which includes adminis- tration, processing of forms, composing of committees and so on, would see to the selection and eventual admission of students. Mr Speaker, the other issue is that, there is something lacking in our second cycle institutions. Every senior high school is supposed to have a counselling and guidance centre and it is their responsibility to make sure that entry requirements and cut-off points -- although these things are on the forms, because when you buy the forms, they would give you a cut-off point. Mr Speaker, as a teacher at the university, sometimes, my constituents come to me with issues of admission and without consulting me, they would go and buy the forms. But if you tell them that if you have a grade D in English Language, you cannot -- they would tell you that “Protocol” -- which does not exist. Mr Speaker, it does not exist in the premium universities. This is because, these days, admissions are computerised. Once they are entered and your grades are below grade D, you are automatically taken off. So, it is not the fault of the university but the system. So, we must make sure -- Mr Speaker, if I advertise that I want people in my institution and someone applies because they think that they qualify, then they should not blame me if they do not meet my criteria of selection. They have to check themselves. So, let us advise our constituents to work hard and let us also encourage the various secondary schools to have counselling and guidance centres, if they do not have, but if they have, then they should improve on them. Mr Speaker, when that is done, we would not have prospective students buying and wasting forms. Mr Speaker, when it comes to administration or the management of the forms in the universities, we must ask the Government. If the Government, indeed, believes that everybody must get education at the university level, then let us increase funding to the universities. That is how we could solve this problem. Mr Speaker, on this note, I thank you for the opportunity. Rev. John N. Fordjour (NPP -- Assin South): Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to associate myself with the Statement ably made by my Hon Friend and neighbour, Hon Abena Durowaa Mensah, Member for Assin North, and to also affirm that the youth are our future generation and generational leaders. Mr Speaker, and to also state that indeed, discipline is a foundation upon which we would build a strong, hopeful and responsible future for our society. Mr Speaker, it is of significance why on two occasions, King Solomon stated that a wise son makes the father glad. The first one was in Proverbs Chapter 10 verse 1 and he also stated in Proverbs Chapter 15 verse 20. Also, to submit that training up a child in the way he should go, could also be found in Proverbs Chapter 22 verse 16. Mr Speaker, as concerned parents, much as we are encouraging our youth to be of improved behaviour, we must also consider that it is equally appropriate to laud the vast majority of Ghanaian youth who have lived above reproach and to acknowledge certain youth who have distinguished themselves in certain areas and have become role models in their fields. The House would recall that the venerable Rt Hon Speaker submitted to this House that in 1948, a man called Mr Kwesi Plange at the age of 21, was the first headmaster of Ghana National College. Mr Speaker, I was inspired by the story that you cited and I conducted further studies on this man and it marvelled me to discover that, following his dint of discipline, hardwork and determination, upon becoming the first headmaster of Ghana National College at the age of 21, and having successfully served his term, this man continued to serve the nation as the Hon Member of Parliament in the First Republic and also became an Hon Minister of State at the age of 24. It is inspiring that we have Ghanaian youth who continue to be examples and role models for the younger generations to follow. Mr Speaker, this is to also submit that even in our current dispensation, we have the likes of Mr Abraham Atta, who at the age of 14 years, had distinguished himself on the international scene in the film industry and won for himself an international award. It is also worth acknowledging that, in this very House, in the Seventh Parliament, by deter- mination, discipline and hard work, we have the Hon Francisca Oteng Mensah making her way to this House at the age of 23. Mr Speaker, in my opinion, these are encouraging narratives and praises which must be sung of our Ghanaian youth and to encourage them to continue to be of good behaviour and to assure them that, the Parliament of Ghana has able and strong young men and women who would be of good behaviour, distinguish themselves in their chosen fields and at the appropriate time, by the grace of God, when they are unveiled, their praises also would be sung. Mr Speaker, with these few words, I thank the Hon Member who made the Statement and I thank you for the opportunity.
I would recognise your Colleague just by you.
I thank you, Mr Speaker.
Are you the Member of Parliament for Bantama?
Mr Speaker, the Member of Parliament for Bantama Constituency. Mr Speaker, I would like to associate myself with the Hon Member who made the Statement, the Hon Mercer with respect to the high cost of education. There is no doubt that education is very important, but the cost of education in Ghana is very expensive. Over the course of my previous life, before coming to Parliament, I interviewed over 3,500 people in an effort to recruit them. When I interviewed some of these young people and asked them why they did not go to the university or college, they told me that it was because the cost of getting university degree or college degree was too expensive and their parents could not afford. Mr Speaker, for that reason, it is important that we look at the cost of our young people getting into the university and even staying in the university. This is because there are others who have gone there but could not sustain the payment of school fees, and for that matter, dropped out. I am also a witness to a situation; one of the people I supported went to the university to collect her certificate, and at the point of collecting the certificate, one of these private universities in Kumasi said there was a certificate collection fee. After a person had paid all the fees, gone through the whole process and fortunately graduated from the university, to get her a certificate, she would even have to pay a fee. So, it is important that Parliament should take a look at this and see if there are ways we could help make the cost of education, especially admission forms moderate and affordable to the people. Mr Speaker, with that said, it is also important for us to be cautious because the universities have businesses to run. They need to educate; they need to provide quality education. So, inasmuch as we are talking about high cost of admission, we must be careful not to deprive the universities of that which they need, in order to provide quality education. Mr Speaker, with these few words, I thank you for the opportunity.
Hon Members, we have another Statement in the name of Hon (Dr) Bernard Okoe Boye.
Hon Deputy Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, with your permission and leave, could we stand the Statement down for tomorrow, since we have some Papers to lay as well as the Customs (Amendment) Bill, 2017 to be read the Third Time and which must therefore, be taken through the Consideration Stage. So, Mr Speaker, I am guided by your direction.
Hon Deputy Majority Leader, I am acting on the instructions of the Hon Speaker. The Speaker directed that I take that Statement after the dual Statement that we just contributed to. That is why I needed to move to it before I come to the Public Business. We are now on private Business. Yes, Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, it is rightly so. I am sure at the pre-Sitting meeting, the Speaker had indicated that he would admit a number of Statements; and he consulted Leadership on that. But probably, it is to make a request of you that the comments on the Statement be limited because of the time available. If Government has Business, as I assume it has, we should be able to get the Customs (Amendment) Bill, 2017 through today. Mr Speaker, because we now Sit in the afternoon, Hon Members have to adjust to a new life of the transition between 2.00 p.m. and 3.00 p.m. and other issues. So, if our Hon Colleague could present the Statement with limited comments, I am sure we could proceed on that.
It is quite a short Statement, and with your kind agreement, we could take only two Hon Members to comment on it, and then we could move to Public Business. So, Hon (Dr) Okoe Boye, you could just present your Statement as quickly as you could.
Coastal communities and high tidal waves: A threat to the fishing industry and fisherfolks
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to speak to this issue of high tidal waves and their impact on the fishing vocation in our communities. As recent as last Sunday, 11th of June, 2017, high tidal waves hit three communities in the Central Region, namely, Cape Coast, Ankaful and Saltpond. The Central Region was not the only region hit hard last Sunday, the Volta Region was also affected. The tidal waves killed one fisherman in the Central Region when the canoe on which he was sitting capsized. In the Volta Region, over 1,500 people were displaced, scores of canoes got destroyed beyond repairs. The Central Region also experienced similar ills. Mr Speaker, I am a native of Teshie, a fishing community in the Greater Accra Region. I speak today as the Member of Parliament for Ledzokuku, a constituency that is made up of many communities, with Teshie being the most prominent community. My constituency, just like many other fishing communities, has been suffering the devastating effects of tidal waves. It is estimated that over 1,500 fishermen are engaged in marine fishing. It is also estimated that about 1.5 million to two million people rely on or provide support to these fishermen, including their wives, children, close relatives as well as canoe carvers. Mr Speaker, the very survival of all these stakeholders in the fishing industry, particularly fishermen in Teshie and other fishing communities, is in danger if immediate steps are not taken to manage tidal waves when they strike. Reasons for some of the increasing incidence of high tidal waves include: global warming, sand winning along the beaches, which results in the creation of artificially created “Below Sea Level Communities.” Mr Speaker, the mentioning of the high tidal wave phenomenon appears to dampen the spirit of the listener because of the devastating repercussions that its wave occurrence has on fishing communities. However, there is some appreciable modicum of hope for coastal and fishing communities. As part of its priority projects, Government is committed to the construction of landing sites in most fishing communities along the coast. Mr Speaker, the building of landing sites is one of the surest ways to protect the properties of fishermen and create the appropriate, enhancing environment. The communities identified to benefit from the landing sites project include Cape Coast, Teshie, Nungua, Axim, Keta, Ada, Senya Breku, James Town and Winneba. Mr Speaker, let me take this opportunity to commend government for having all these coastal communities in its agenda when it comes to the fishing industry. It is my prayer that the Government secures the needed funding to provide these landing sites, so that fishing is once again made rewarding and an industry worth investing in. As a country and as a matter of urgency, we must develop a framework to stipulate rules and procedures that must be adhered to when it comes to sand winning along the beaches in coastal communities. Mr Speaker, my condolences go to the family of the deceased. Mr Speaker, I am always grateful to you for this precious opportunity.
Any comment? Yes, Hon Member?
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. I would humbly associate myself with the Hon Member who made the Statement, given the fact that a lot of the communities in my constituency were also affected by these tidal waves. Mr Speaker, on Sunday around 7.00 a.m., I was called upon together with the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) team in my district, to analyse the extent of damage caused by these tidal waves. Mr Speaker, in accounting for the damage, it was evident that about 191 houses at the Anlo beach were seriously affected. Indeed, so many commercial activities had gone down in the community. It did not affect only that point, but we also had Aboadze and Aboasi being affected by the tidal waves. Mr Speaker, we have a sea defence wall running from Aboasi through Aboadze towards the Sekondi coastal area, and these are also part of the challenges when we had those tidal waves. Mr Speaker, there is supposed to be a second phase of the sea defence wall, which needs to be completed, so that at least, when such circumstances occur, we might have the whole defence minimising the impact on the coastal line. I would thank my Hon Colleague, who made the Statement. This is a very critical thing that we need to look at carefully. I remember making a comment on a Statement here, in this House, in respect of the activities of NADMO. Mr Speaker, we need to resource and equip the NADMO personnel to be able to address some of these challenges appropriately. Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity.
Hon Members, thank you very much. At the Commencement of Public Business, item numbered 5 on the Order Paper -- Presentation of Papers. Hon Chairman of the Committee?
Hon Members, item numbered 5 (a) (ii) By the Chairman of the Committee -- Report of the Committee on Defence and Interior on the use of live ammunition by the Police in the Dalon community to control irate youth in 2016 during which Gainu Abdul Rahman was hit in the leg by a stray bullet.
Item numbered 5 (b) (i). By the Chairman of the Committee -- Report of the Public Accounts Committee on the Report of the Auditor-General on the Statement of Foreign Exchange Receipts and payments of the Bank of Ghana for the first half year ended 30th June, 2015.
Item numbered 5 (b) (ii). By the Chairman of the Committee -- Report of the Public Accounts Committee on the Report of the Auditor-General on the Statement of Foreign Exchange Receipts and Payment of the Bank of Ghana for the second half year ended 31st December, 2015.
Hon Members, we would now move to item numbered 6 on the Order Paper. Hon Minister for Finance, you may now move the procedural Motion -- item numbered 6 on the Order Paper.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister is caught up in a meeting today as well, and he has asked his Hon Deputy to stand in for him as he did yesterday. Mr Speaker, therefore, subject to your indulgence and that of my Hon Colleagues, the Hon Deputy Minister would lead the discourse today.
Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, since the Hon Deputy Minister is one of our Hon Colleagues, we would have no objection to him proceeding on the Bill, trusting that he appreciates what the Customs (Amendment) Bill, 2017 would do for spare parts dealers. Mr Speaker, next time, the Hon Majority Leader might tell us -- Since yesterday, we have not seen the Hon Minister for Finance. Even though the Hon Deputy Minister is capable of standing in his shoes, sometimes, the shoes could be bigger . So, we would want to know the whereabouts of the Hon Minister and why he is not able to attend to Parliament. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Yes, Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I think the query from the Hon Minority Leader is about the whereabouts of the
Yes, Hon Deputy Minister for Finance?
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion. Question put and Motion agreed to. Resolved accordingly.
Hon Members, we would move on to item numbered 7 -- Customs (Amendment) Bill, 2017, at the Consideration Stage.
BILLS -- CONSIDERATION STAGE
Hon Members, since there is no proposed amendment to the clause -- Yes, Hon Member, that is basically the whole Schedule. So, we would now move to the Schedule and see if there is any amendment to the clause of the Schedule. In fact, there is nothing. It is only “the clause” that is written there. That is what we have on the Order Paper, but it refers to the Schedule. So, is there any amendment to the Schedule? Yes, Hon Member for Suhum, you may now move your amendment.
Mr Speaker, as far as the Bill is concerned, a provision in there is a clause. That clause refers to the Schedule in the original Act. Mr Speaker, I would want to step this proposed amendment down, except to explain that I had originally sought to add “vehicle, motorcycle tyres and bicycle tyres” to the list of exemptions. Mr Speaker, subsequent consultations with the Hon Minister indicates that in the Budget, Government gave an indication of several other items, that they would come back to this House to grant exemptions to. You would recollect that yesterday, when we did the mathematics during the presentation of the Report of the Committee, it emerged that out of the 170 lines of exemptions available to the country under the Common External Tariff (CET), we have already taken up 118 and so, adding on to this four would take it to 122. That would take out some of the space necessary to accommodate the other items that Government proposes to come back to this House for. Mr Speaker, in view of that, I withdraw my proposed amendment. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Hon Member, did you not move? We have a problem with our earpiece, and so we can scarcely hear you when you speak. So, please --
Mr Speaker, I seek to withdraw the proposed amendment and want to provide the background to my decision to do so --
For that length of time? [Laughter.] I thought you were now trying to convince Members that in spite of the efforts to get you to withdraw your proposed amendment, you landed by saying that you were still going to move it. But if it is the case that you are withdrawing it, then there is nothing before the House. But let us listen to Hon Members; they may have one or two things to say. Yes, Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, for the avoidance of doubt, we would want to be sure about the intent of the Hon Member who proposed the amendment and has now indicated to us that he wants to withdraw it after stepping it down.
I heard withdrawal.
Later he said that in the state of stepping it down, he withdraws. What is he doing? If he is abandoning it, he should let us know that he is abandoning it. He cannot withdraw after stepping it down. It means that he might come back, because in the state of stepping it down, he then withdraws. For the avoidance of doubt, what is he doing? I know the Hon Minority Leader is poised to make a contribution. But if there is nothing before us, he cannot contribute on nothingness, he would be estopped. So, Mr Speaker, I would want him to be very clear on what he is doing in the House.
That is why I did not clearly get the message he communicated in his earlier submission. When I intervened, however, it become very clear. He said he was withdrawing it. So, I proceeded to say that once it is withdrawn, there is nothing before us to consider. But I would want to listen to Hon Members.
The Hon Member who proposed the amendment is back again on his feet. Let us listen to him.
Mr Speaker, before you accommodate him, I know this can be withdrawn only by your leave. But Mr Speaker, this is to encourage the Hon Member to proceed. He is on a very good course. [Laughter.]
Hon Minority Leader, he has applied; he has the unfettered right to apply to withdraw, but because the House is seized with it, definitely, I just wanted to get your indulgence before I grant the leave. But the indulgence does not involve contribution or debate of something that is not before us.
Mr Speaker, it is not a debate, but it is to assist him with further facts which helps his cause.
He has not moved the amendment. If he had moved it, then you could assist him. He has not moved the amendment and so, you have my leave to withdraw the proposed amendment.
Mr Speaker, it is accordingly withdrawn.
Thank you very much, Hon Member. We have some more proposed amendments and I can see one standing in the name of the Hon Minority Leader, Hon Haruna Iddrisu.
Mr Speaker, I would also seek your leave to abandon the amendment. Yesterday, what happened was that, I had referred to Act 891 and I was at a loss, because it was further amended, but it was not attached to the parent legislation. Therefore, I looked for the First Schedule, but I could also not find it in the original Act. The First Schedule, which is now the referral to any further amendments to the parent Act, was referred to me. So, that would render this proposed amendment redundant. Therefore, it is accordingly abandoned.
Thank you very much. Now, I understand your abandonment to mean that you have also withdrawn your proposed amendment because you used the word “abandon”.
By leave of the House.
Yes, Mr Speaker.
All right, you have my leave to do so.
Hon Chairman of the Committee, he has not yet withdrawn; he just received leave to withdraw.
Mr Speaker, yesterday, the Hon Deputy Minority Leader --
Are you on a point of order?
I would want to seek your guidance, Mr Speaker. Yesterday, the Hon Deputy Minority Leader told the House that the Hon Minority Leader had some amendments to propose and for which reason he did not want us to proceed further in considering the Bill. So, I am surprised that we had to adjourn yesterday only to wait for the Hon Minority Leader's amendment, and all of a sudden, we are told that he is in the process of abandoning -- [Interruption.] I have seen that one too. When we get there, I will show you. Yesterday, he held all of us to ransom only for him to come back today and inform us that he is going to abandon these proposed amendments for which we could not proceed yesterday.
Hon Member, you are completely out of order. The Hon Deputy Minority Leader has been vindicated because we have the proposed amendments standing in the name of the Hon Minority Leader. So, what he conveyed to the House was the truth and nothing but the truth. It is just that the Hon Minority Leader has decided not to pursue the proposed amendment. So, there was no need to refer to what he said yesterday as if that might have been a misinformation or the House had been misled. Again, there is another proposed amendment standing in the name of the Hon Minority Leader on the Order Paper. When we get to that, too, we would get to know what he intends to do. But the language is “withdraw”, not “abandon”. This is because we do not have the amendment, so that you would abandon it somewhere. It is just a proposal and so you withdraw the proposal. Let us stop using the word “abandon”. Hon Minority Leader, you have leave to withdraw our proposed amendment.
Accordingly withdrawn, Mr Speaker, with your leave.
We are most grateful. On page 4 of the Order Paper, we have a proposal for a new clause by the Hon Member for Suhum, Hon Frederick Opare- Ansah. You may now move your new proposal.
Mr Speaker, I seek your leave and the indulgence of the House to withdraw this as well. Mr Speaker, the intention that I had for this was, as we watched the implementation of several Acts that this House had passed over the years, you would realise that a lot of them had been -- especially the financial Acts. A lot of them face implementation challenges, but I felt it was about time we interrogated the issue of how to activate the implementation beyond just the assent by the President. This is because, as soon as Parliament passes it and the President assents, in most cases, it is deemed to have taken effect. But in certain instances, you would find the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) unable to immediately start the implementation and it creates a legal challenge. Mr Speaker, several examples abound. During the late Hon Baah-Wiredu's era, you would recollect that we passed some laws in this House to change petroleum price on a Friday and they were supposed to take effect on Monday. Over the course of the weekend, it was found that gas stations across the country had started charging the new taxes and Government had to create some fund to put those proceeds in and utilise them for a specific item.
We paid a visit to the Bank of Ghana yesterday and an Act we passed for them last year, the Deposit Protection Act, which was supposed to have commenced in April of this year, they are now trying to find a way to come back to this House to amend the said law. Mr Speaker, on this particular occasion, the Hon Deputy Minister has indicated, that because it is an amendment to an existing law, they have all those structures in place which would see to its immediate implementation. So, the need for the Commissioner-General to do some things before commencing implementation might not arise. Mr Speaker, that is why I seek your leave to withdraw this particular proposed amendment. Thank you.
Yes, Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I have no doubt that you are persuaded by our Hon Colleague to withdraw the proposed amendment. But without any attempt to provoke debate, I believe his original thought in asking for this was to be guided by practical difficulties in the implemen- tation of Acts passed by Parliament and assented to by the President. Mr Speaker, we have always sought to cure that defect with transitional provisions in the affected Act, so that we make room for when it is implemented. Mr Speaker, while one would appreciate why he is withdrawing the proposed amendment, it is important that we walk the full breadth of article 106 of the 1992
Yes, Hon Member for Suhum?
Mr Speaker, while I agree with the comments made by the Hon Minority Leader, I just want to draw his attention to the fact that in certain instances, the Bill, as passed by Parliament, contains sections which enables the authority to undertake certain functions. So, if it is not assented to, they do not have the power to do those items. Once it is assented to and it does not have provisions like what I tried to put in, then they are also mandated to start the implementation of every aspect of that law. That is what I sought to cure with this. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Yes, Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, indeed, I think this has brought to the fore, some operational difficulties in activating AN aCT that is passed by Parliament and that is assented to by the President. The Hon Minority Leader drew attention to article 106 of the 1992 Constitution. Mr Speaker, my under- standing of article 106 (7) of the Constitution is that, if there are anticipated difficulties, the President is not compelled to assent to it within seven days after the passage of a Bill. The import of article 106 (7) of the 1992 Constitution is that the President can only give a signal, that he intends to assent to it. It can go beyond seven days and he would not be in breach of any constitutional law. The President would give an indication that he would want to assent to it or would not want to assent to it. If he does not want to assent to it, then he gives the Bill back to Parliament, that because he is relaying it to the Council of State for their advice or whatever it maybe, Parliament should look at it again. The President is not under any compulsion to assent to any Bill within seven days. He would only give an indication that he wants to assent to it. It could even be within one month before he assents to it, if there are operational difficulties. The Constitution does not say two weeks; it says, within seven days, the President should give us that signal that he intends to assent to it. Or if he does not intend to assent to it, within that same day, he would tell us. But it does not give us any date, that willy nilly, within ten days, he should assent to it. So, Mr Speaker, I think there are difficulties and we should confront them. How are we to negotiate our way on this. As I am saying, the problem would be, maybe, where the President really assents to it, then we should operationalise it. But if there are difficulties, the President can wait and signal to us that he wants to do it. Within seven days, he tells us that he wants to do it. In the meantime, he would use the period or the interim to do his arrangements. That, in my view, is what article 106 (7) provides. Mr Speaker, I thank you.
Mr Speaker, as the Hon Member for Suhum indicated, this is becoming a challenge for a lot of institutions. In the case of the Bank of Ghana, we found out that with the Deposit Protection Act, which should have come into force in April, they still have implementation challenges. They indicated to the Committee that they have written to the Speaker of Parliament to give them some time before they could implement the law. We pointed it out to them clearly, that respectfully, the Speaker of Parliament does not wield those powers and so they would have to come back to the House and do the proper thing. They are unable to implement the law as we speak. Meanwhile, the President has assented to it, the time too has passed and there is a vacuum. So, the intent here is good and in future, especially in some of these financial laws, we have to try and carve something of this nature. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Thank you, Hon Members. We are faced here with practical reality in the implementation of the provisions of the 1992 Constitution. That is one of the reasons this House insisted, that in any constitutional review, it is the House that should be in the driving seat. We have the power to legislate; we have the power to make laws. This is a typical example of why we insisted that the House should be in the driving seat and not any other committee. This is not the Standing Orders of the House for Mr Speaker to make any pronouncement on. We are dealing with the provisions of the 1992 Constitution and the proper forum is the courts and not this House. So, I would refrain from also giving my opinion on this matter. It is also dangerous to always legislate and leave it in abeyance and allow an unfeterred discretion for administrators to decide when and how to implement the law. So, it is something we should take on board and in future, if we are happily given the opportunity by the people of Ghana, we could, with this experience, improve upon what we have in the 1992 Constitution today. What we have now is to thank the Hon Member for withdrawing the proposed amendment and move on. We still have one other proposal on the Order Paper, standing in the name of the Hon Member for Tamale South, the Minority Leader, Hon Haruna Iddrisu, dealing with the Long Title of the Bill. Long Title -- An Act to amend the Customs Act, 2015 (Act 891) to provide for a zero-rate of duty payable on specific imported vehicular parts in the First Schedule.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, Long Title, line 2, after “vehicular” insert “spare” So that it would read: “An Act to amend the Customs Act, 2015 (Act 891) to provide for a zero- rate of duty payable on specific imported vehicular spare parts in the First Schedule.” Mr Speaker, let me refer you to the first paragraph of the Memorandum accompanying the Bill and with your indulgence, I quote. “The object of the Bill is to amend the First Schedule to the Customs Act, 2015 (Act 891) to provide for a zero-rate of duty on selected vehicular spare parts specified in that Schedule.” Mr Speaker, these are not my words. The promoter of the Bill concedes to “spare parts”. We are guided again by paragraph 796 of the Budget Statement read by the Hon Minister for Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, and I quote: “abolish duty on the importation of spare parts.” This is where the people's repre- sentatives sit. The Hon Minister stood here and told the world, and in particular businesses that would benefit from this, that he meant “spare parts”. I recall that even in the debate, part of our worry was people bringing in new vehicles and cannibalising them. Therefore, the insertion of the word “spare” sits with the law. Mr Speaker, I hear the Suame lobbies sayingēdēn nono? to wit, “what is that”? It is important that we add “spare parts”, so that it sits with the Memorandum. What the Hon Minister said. So, traders in Abbosey Okai and Suame would know that you meant “spare parts”, other than that, people would take new vehicles, cannibalise them and say they are spare parts. So, we want to know. Also, spare parts have two categories, used and unused or new and old. I know the Hon Majority Leader drives past Suame. When I travel to Tamale, I drive through Suame and see used and unused spare parts. Mr Speaker, I so submit.
Mr Speaker, I am opposed to the amendment. Even though the Memorandum accompanying the Bill mentioned “spare”, my understanding is that the word “spare” is a Ghanaian terminology just as we have “magazine” to construe mechanic shops. So, we have Suame magazine --
Hon Member, did you say the word “spare” is a Ghanaian terminology?
In reference to vehicular parts.
Do you mean “spare parts” is a Ghanaian coinage?
Yes, Mr Speaker, coinage. Here we are dealing with a Harmonised System (HS) across the sub- region. In the HS Code, we have “vehicular parts”. So, for the avoidance of doubt -- [Interruption.] There could be a mistake in the Memorandum. However, the Memorandum seeks to convey to the Ghanaian populace that what they ordinarily know as “spare parts” is what we are talking about here. This is because if we leave it at “vehicular parts” --
So, the body of the Bill does not seek to convey the message to Ghanaians? You are moving on slippery ground.
We are not dealing with only Ghanaians.
I am quoting you; I am not participating in the debate.
Mr Speaker, nowhere in the body of the Bill is the word “spare” mentioned. It is just “vehicular parts”. So, I would advise the Hon Minority Leader to, once again, withdraw this amendment so that we make progress.
Hon Majority Leader, there is somebody behind you, then I would get to you. Hon Member for Suhum?
Mr Speaker, when you look at the Long Title which the Hon Minority Leader seeks to amend with his insertion of “spare”, a careful reading gives a clear understanding of the fact that we cannot have “spare” in there. Let me explain.
“An Act to amend the Customs Act, 2015 (Act 891) to provide for a zero- rate of duty payable on specific imported vehicular parts in the First Schedule.” Mr Speaker, in the First Schedule, what is there is “vehicular parts”. So if we now introduce “specific imported vehicular spare parts in the First Schedule”, we would go to the First Schedule and would not see “vehicular spare parts”. It is something that exists already and we are making reference to something that exists, which we want to amend. So, the introduction of “spare” in there would change the entire reference that we make in the Long Title. It would refer to nothing because there is nowhere in the First Schedule that you would find “vehicular spare parts”. You would only find “vehicular parts”. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, I appreciate the issue which was raised by the Hon Minority Leader. In the sub- region, we are used to that terminology “spare parts” and so, when the Hon Minister for Finance, in his presentation, spoke about that, he wanted the Ghanaian dealers in those products to know that he referred to them. In Nigeria, when one enters that market, one would hear the words “spear parts” but we know that they all deal with “spare parts”; “vehicular parts”. Mr Speaker, as the Hon Member for Suhum alluded to, the First Schedule deals with the words “vehicular parts”. If we should amend this, it would mean that in our own law, which is the parent law, we would have to amend it and insert the word “spare” after the word “vehicular”. We also have to go further to propose to the comity of nations in the sub-region, that they should adopt from hence that terminology and that would be very cumbersome. Mr Speaker, whereas I appreciate the point the Hon Minority Leader made, that to the dealers in the products, they all do know the words “spare parts”, indeed, what we would want to deal with are the words “vehicular parts”. Mr Speaker, when we talk about the words “spare parts”, what we mean is -- or for instance, if one has a vehicle that runs on four tyres, there is a fifth tyre that is the “spare part” because it is part of the whole. The others are vehicular parts one purchases when one wants to replace the malfunctioned one. So, it is not a “spare part”, it is a “vehicular part” that is procured to replace the one that is malfunctioning. So, that is the difference. Mr Speaker, as I said, I appreciate the point that the Hon Minority Leader raised, that the dealers in the products would know that it is those products they are engaged in that we have been targeted but the language is “vehicular part”. Mr Speaker, for this reason, I would want to appeal to the Hon Minority Leader to abandon the proposed amendment. Mr Speaker, I know that you have urged, that we should depart from the usage of the word “abandon” and rather resort to the word “withdrawal”. I believe that the value is the same in this context because, when we look at the word “withdrawal” in our Standing Orders, they relate to the entirety of the Bill and not “amendment proposed”. The Standing Orders say that a Bill can be withdrawn, but if one is clawing back a proposal to amend a section, that one does not come with any description. But I believe that for reasons of conformity, you would want us to use the word “withdrawal” but conventionally, we are also used to the word “abandonment” and to the extent that the value is the same, we cannot do with the two. Mr Speaker, I would want to strongly urge the Hon Minority Leader to abandon that path and withdraw the proposed amendment and I believe we can make progress.
Yes, Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I have listened to the Hon Majority Leader and the Hon Chairman of the Finance Committee. What they said was that the term “spare parts” is Ghanaian. This law was not made for Sahelians or Koreans, but for Ghanaians and we have a duty as their representatives to demystify law.
I am prepared to be defeated on this amendment for the record and I would give you legal reasons. I would want to be defeated. Mr Speaker, subsequent to the ruling of Pepper vrs Hart, there is now a Ghanaian decision which has domesticated the rulings in Pepper versus Hart on parliamentary debate and therefore, for abundance of caution, we should let Ghanaians know, that what the Parliament of Ghana intended when they put the words “vehicular parts” was to refer to what they, as Ghanaians, refer to as “spare parts”. Mr Speaker, I would maintain that principle and not withdraw it. I like to be defeated because the words are not my words. They are words in the Hon Minister for Finance's Budget Statement and he has done this pursuant to what he said in the Budget Statement. In the Budget Statement, he said that “abolish duty on the importation of spare parts”. I should have even moved a further amendment to remove the word “selected” and say “spare parts” because the Hon Minister for Finance told the people of Ghana “spare parts” and it is now “selected”. They are choosing and picking.
Mr Speaker, if we take Toyota Land Cruiser for Hon Members of Parliament, all one needs is to get it, cannibalise them into parts, pack them and call them “vehicular parts”. That is vehicular parts. The intention of the Government was to dwell on “spare parts”. Mr Speaker, I still believe that the words “vehicular parts” are not the same as the words “spare parts”. With the words “vehicular parts”, we are opening it up. If we go to the Harmonised Code and even Act 891, “over-age” and other things were captured in it. When we use the words “vehicular parts” -- one can cut even Mercedes Benz bus into pieces, bring it to Ghana and re-assembles it. [Interruption] -- I would want the real intention. Is it the intention when they say they would abolish exemption on spare parts? [Interruption.] Mr Speaker, let it be said, so that tomorrow, if anybody has doubts, the Parliament of Ghana in its wisdom, said that the words “vehicular parts” are the same as “spare parts”. Mr Speaker, I thank you.
Let me listen to the Chairman before I come to you, Hon Majority Leader. Hon Majority Leader, the Hon Chairman is behind you.
Mr Speaker, I would just want to draw the attention of the Hon Minority Leader to paragraph 6.4 of the Committee's Report which is headed “Old and New Parts” .
“The Committee observed that the removal of the taxes affect both new and used parts and therefore importers and consumers of both new and used spare parts would benefit from the removal of the taxes.” Mr Speaker, if I would use the words of the Hon Minority Leader, if one so decides to go and cannibalise a new Mercedes Benz, one is bringing in new parts and those are also exempt. Mr Speaker, respectfully, I would want the Hon Minority Leader to know that the words “spare parts” do not mean “used” or “old parts” -- It could be “new” or “old”. Mr Speaker, I thank you.
Yes, Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I would just want to draw the attention of the Hon Minority Leader to what we did in crafting the Interpretations Act -- that the intent that is expressed on the floor of the House comes to the fore when any provision in the Bill that we craft is being interpreted. So, we all know what he has talked about. Mr Speaker, but I would want him to know that nobody in his rightful senses would go and purchase a new vehicle, cannibalise it and bring them as spare parts.
which perhaps he does not know; once one dismantles and reassembles, proficiency is lost. One can never get it as the same level of operation, so nobody does it and will do that.
Mr Speaker, I get the sense of the House on this matter. The words, “spare parts” in a linguistic community like Abossey Okai, Suame, Tamale and Suhum would be understood by the operators within that linguistic community. For example, if one goes to Abossey Okai and talks about carburettor, they know it is a spare part. But if one goes to talk about a vehicle tyre, they would not be able to situate it well within that meaning of spare part. Mr Speaker, I believe that we should stay within what the industry players believe or understand to be the meaning of a spare part. That is my understanding of the debate.
By your submission, you are in support of the proposed amendment?
Mr Speaker, no — [Laughter.]
That is the import of your submission.
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity. I am in support of the amendment being proposed. This is because from the discussions yesterday, when we debated the philosophy of the law and all that, and today — [Interruption.]
Mr Speaker, we try to correct the Hon Member on the term of reference. He is actually referring to the principles of the Bill which are in the Memorandum. Mr Speaker, by Law 101 of the Faculty of Law, which is Ghana's Legal System, the philosophy of the law is jurisprudence. And so, for him to make reference to the Memorandum to the Bill, which is the principle of the law, as the philosophy of the law, brings me back to my jurisprudence tutorials. So, he should just make the right reference.
Mr Speaker, I respect the Hon Deputy Majority Leader and my senior at the Bar. But she knows that when we talk about the jurisprudence of the law, it is not jurisprudence quadrus prudence. Any reasoning that is contained in the Memorandum accom- panying a Bill before it is passed into law becomes the philosophy behind the law and this is basic. This is what is simply called the principles of the law. But the principles of the law contains the reasoning — the thinking behind the law, and that is my argument. Mr Speaker, in anyway —
Hon Members, you are not in a debating club — [Laughter] — and it is not an opportunity for you to exercise your prowess as lawyers. We are making law and we are making law for a particular community, that is the Ghanaian society. And so let us bring ourselves into that. There are two issues that have been raised which are very germane; that this portion is dealing with the Schedule, which is something that has been agreed
in the sub-region and some terminologies have been used. The other one is that we are legislating for the Ghanaian community, and the industry players are used to a term of art, so which one do we take? That is the debate. Let us look at it now.
Mr Speaker, my understanding of how the debate stands now is that, we have bicycle spare parts, would they also be captured by the rendition as contained in the proposed amendment to the Schedule? This is because there is a huge sub-market for bicycle spare parts traders. Are they also covered? In the contemplation of the law, the distinction must be very clear. If it is for vehicular spare parts — Bicycles are not vehicles — [Interruption] — They are not motorised; they are manuals. Mr Speaker, somebody who is a dealer in motor bicycle spare parts will benefit, but somebody who is a dealer in the manual bicycles will not be covered. So, I support the amendment proposed by the Hon Minority Leader, so that all the dealers, in the contemplation of the law, would be covered, so that none would be discriminated against in this matter. I agree that it is selected, but the selection must cover the plethora of businesses that are found in this area of speciality in trading.
Hon Members, I just have to put the Question. This is because it is the majority that will carry the day. That is the order here. There are good reasons. This is because it looks like we are using those terminologies interchangeably. And when we look at the Memorandum, it is not only the first paragraph. Even the third paragraph is very clear on that, and it says: “Government has decided as part of current measures to remove taxes that impact on household income and increase the cost of production to remove the import duty on vehicular parts. This is expected to reduce the cost of spare parts and ensure that vehicles on our roads are well maintained. The Bill therefore amends the First Schedule to Act 891 by providing for a zero-rate of duty on selected vehicular spare parts.” So, they are being used interchange- ably and we are to pick one. In terms of linguistics, we would be talking about “vehicular parts”, but in terms of the industry players, they know “spare parts”. It is now for this House to give direction and so I will proceed to put the Question. Question put and amendment negatived.
I shall now put the Question on the Long Title — [Pause.] Question put and the Long Title agreed to. The Long Title ordered to stand part of the Bill.
I would want to thank Hon Members for your understanding because we have done something that is completely unintended. We have come to the end of the Consideration Stage of the Customs (Amendment) Bill, 2017. Hon Majority Leader, do we take item numbered 8?
That is my plea, Mr Speaker.
Hon Members, item numbered 8 on the Order Paper. The Hon Deputy Minister for Finance to move the procedural Motion.
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion. Question put and Motion agreed to. Resolved accordingly.
Item numbered 9.
BILLS -- THIRD READING
It is now after 4.00 p.m. and unless there is some indication from the Hon Majority Leader, I would want to adjourn the House.
Mr Speaker, I would want to express profound gratitude to Hon Colleagues who have lasted this long to assist in the passage of this Bill. Mr Speaker, also, to appeal to Hon Colleagues that in this House, at the point of adjournment, if Mr Speaker pronounces adjournment and does not rise from the Chair, we should all hold on until Mr Speaker rises. Often times, the attempt is being made to hurry you out. Immediately you pronounce that the House stands adjourned, people rise. We should have the patience to see the Speaker rise and then we follow suit. Mr Speaker, thank you.
Yes, Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, we are in your bosom and I am sure adjournment will be fitting. Mr Speaker, but when the Hon Majority Leader is talking, he should sometimes watch his back. [Laughter.] Just after Mr Speaker goes through the Third Reading for which the Hon Majority Leader is
thanking Hon Members, the sponsors of the Bill were forcing you out. They are gone -- they were forcing Mr Speaker out, that Business is done -- the law is passed. So, what again are they doing? They just moved a Motion on Third Reading and while we voted, they walked out. They should go back to the same books -- it is in the Standing Orders.
Hon Members, this is a very good practice note and I think that Hon Members would take it on board. The authority of the House is the Mace; I shudder to hear Hon Members say they were escorting the Hon Deputy Minister out. Hon Members themselves try to dwindle or reduce their authority and powers. They would want to subsume Parliament under the Executive. That definitely would not inure to the benefit of our democracy and even to you, as individual Members of Parliament. So, I think the Leadership has done well by drawing your attention to this practice. We would still need to do some more learning on etiquettes, courtesies and the code of conduct of Hon Members of Parliament. I Sit here and observe a lot of Hon Members get up and not bowing to the Mace or the Chair and they just walk out. Some of the Hon Members stand with their backs towards the Mace or to the Speaker and whisper to their other Hon Colleagues; those are all bad mannerisms and they must be stopped forthwith. I think Mr Speaker would proceed to apply sanctions when we so observe them. I thank all of you for your patience, endurance and support.
The House was adjourned at 4.25 p.m. till Thursday, 15th June, 2017 at 12.00 p.m.