VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS AND THE OFFICIAL REPORT
Hon Members, item numbered 2 on the Order Paper -- Correction of Votes and Proceedings dated Friday, 14th July, 2017. Page 1 … 16 --
Yes, Hon Member?
Mr Speaker, if I may draw your attention to page 12 -- I believe the name of the Deputy Governor of the Bank of Ghana is “Dr Johnson Asiama” and not “Dr Johnson Asiawa”. So, I would just want the record to reflect that.
Hon Members, the Votes and Proceedings of Friday, 14th July, 2017 as corrected are hereby adopted as the true record of proceedings. Hon Members, item numbered 3 -- Statements. There is a Statement on the Volta Lake Transport Company Limited by the Hon Member for Pru East.
Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to make this Statement. The Volta River Development Authority Act of 1961, Act 46 imposes on the Authority to the obligation of section 10 (d) of the “provision, when and as far as practical, of facilities and assistance for the development of the lake as a source of fish, and as a route for the transportation of goods and passengers.” The Volta Lake has a surface area of three thousand, two hundred and eighty- three square miles (3,283 square miles). Pursuant to the mandate, the VLTCL was set up on February 23, 1970 and incorporated under the Companies Code of 1963 (Act 179) to operate as a public carrier of all forms of water-borne transport and freight on the Volta Lake. The VLTCL serves a population of, at least, two million citizens in four administrative regions along the banks of Volta -- Northern, Brong Ahafo, Eastern and Volta Regions. The creation of the Volta Lake, one of the most remarkable landmarks of this country, midwifed by our pioneer President Dr Kwame Nkrumah, came at a price to the inhabitants of its catchment area. Their ancestral lands, cultural groves, fishing and hunting grounds, graves of ancestors, shrines and everything that anthropologically makes a people, were buried under the gushing inflows of the newly blockaded impoundment. The spiritual and cultural heritage of the indigenes was disrupted in one big rapture of water. As a little child, I saw my grandmother's three-bedroom house with kitchen at Yeji Salt Town go into the belly of the forcefully onrushing waters of the new Volta Lake. The river that we had known had become overnight a lake whose flowing dynamic had been abruptly arrested by a new concrete blockade, the like of which the land had never seen before. In the place of the three-bedroom house, the Ghanaian State provided my grandmother, the matriarch of the family a one-room uncompleted structure called a Resettlement Home at Nsuano Quarters in uphill Yeji. Mr Speaker, the lot of the indigenes of the Volta and their sacrifice made for the huge industrial development of Ghana powered by hydro. The modern city of Tema was built on the newly-unleashed electrical might of the Akosombo Dam. Mr Speaker, I have taken the liberty to narrate the above as the canvas on which the present day neglect of the riverine people of the Volta Lake is drawn. Mr Speaker, the VLTCL's deterioration is the neglect of our people. Its parent, the Volta River Authority (VRA) recorded losses of GH¢2,343,644,000 between the 2011 and 2015 financial years. When a parent is as financially incapacitated as VRA, the dependant offspring drowns. VLTCL has not seen any new investment from its sole shareholder in the midst of growing demands and opportunities. The Company has not seen a stable management team for a while and moral among its workers is at an all-time low. The people of the Volta catchment area consequently have to live with lousy services provided by a derelict VLTCL. Ironically, notwithstanding the sacrifices of the people, they are last to get access to electricity and a number of them still do not have access though national penetration of electricity is about 85 per cent today. Mr Speaker, I stand in this hallowed Chamber on behalf of the two million people of the Volta catchment area to respectfully demand from the Ghanaian State, a semblance of affirmative action. The VLTCL representing an attempt by the Ghanaian State to mitigate the transportation leg of the suffering of the riverine people, must be given a permanent home in the Ministry of Transport as a full-fledged Agency. The State should take over from the VRA the equity ownership of the Company and put it on the same pedestal as the Metro Mass Transit Company. Mr Speaker, a well-resourced and managed VLTCL would add tremendous value to our national wealth. Water-borne transport has been recognised globally as the cheapest mode of moving goods in every economy and we have paid scanty attention to it. Bringing VLTCL directly under the Ministry of Transport as a flagship parastatal would enable budgetary allocation to be made for the considerable capital injection needed to develop water transport in its catchment area. New landing beaches, improved navigational aids, human capital development, new and specialised ferries and hovercraft, barges and tug boats, dredging equipment and above all working capital would be needed.
Thank you very much, Hon Member, for this well-researched Statement. Yes, Hon Member?
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to contribute to the very important Statement made by the Hon Member. Mr Speaker, I would want to commend him for bringing this matter to the attention of the House. Indeed, the people of South Dayi also fall within the Volta Basin. We have about 65 kilometres of Lake Shoreline constituting part of the Volta Basin. Mr Speaker, the construction of this very important dam brought in its wake such health hazards as bilharzia and river blindness. Mr Speaker, as the Hon Member who made the Statement indicated, rich arable lands were inundated — huge cocoa, palm and coffee plantations were inundated in the delouse. Mr Speaker, communities such as Todome, Tongor, Tsanakpe, Ahor and Kpeve-gbohorme were directly affected by the construction of the dam. Out of these five communities in South Dayi, only Todome and Tongor-Ahor have been provided with their resettlement townships. Tongor-Tsanakpe, for example, was to have about 126 new settlement houses built. The VRA built only ten and abandoned the project site. Mr Speaker, as we speak, there are reasonable attempts to get the VRA through the Volta Resettlement Trust Fund to pay the requisite compensation to these communities whose lands have been identified to have been affected by the delouse, yet the Trust Fund would not pay the compensations. Mr Speaker, indeed, as we speak, the people of Todome are in court pursuing the matter and Tongor-Tsanakpe are also contemplating suing the VRA. Mr Speaker, the construction of the dam affected over 82,000 people who were moved into about 52 newly-resettled communities. Mr Speaker, 55 years down the line, problems that the transformation of the peculiar eco-system introduced by the creation of the lake has brought in its wake among these people is such that, their lives are now led around the Lake and the various economic activities that they perform on the Lake. Mr Speaker, the VLTCL operates from Ajena in Akosombo all the way to Yeji, and occasionally, they make stop-overs in Agordake, which is a community in South Dayi. But there is no landing site for the fury to operate a transit point at Tongor-Dzemeni. Mr Speaker, very often, I am sure you hear that lives are lost on the lake as a result of the fact that, the people are made to travel in makeshift boats that are either powered by outboard motors which often become dysfunctional midstream of the trip or they are faced with force majeure, caught up in a storm on the high lake.
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity. I also thank the Hon Member for Pru East who made the Statement, and I add my voice that there is a need for Government to take over completely and move the VLTCL from the VRA. Mr Speaker, we know that in some jurisdictions outside this country, lake transport is very important and helps the economy to grow. In this country, we depend solely on road transportation, and recently, air transportation. But if we really want to move our goods and services from our harbour cities to other parts of the country, then, I believe lake transportation would be one of the best and economical ways of doing so. Mr Speaker, the Hon Member who made the Statement mentioned that the VLTCL has close to 18 ferries or vessels. But only half, that is, about nine of them are working at the moment. The rest are all abandoned. What can we do to get this done and move our goods and services to other parts of the country? It takes commitment from government and other stakeholders to be able to move it from a department or an agency, which is the VRA, to be an entity on its own where it can have its own budget as well. Mr Speaker, I also want to encourage private enterprises to invest in lake transportation. This is because lake transportation is one thing that can bring a lot of money into the system. If we are thinking of mining bauxite and we are only looking at the railway, how do we move the bauxite to the harbour? It can also be done through lake transportation. Therefore, I would urge and add my voice to the Hon Member who made the Statement that we get government to move into that, if even by consensus of this House. We could ask the Hon Minister for Transport to bring a Bill to this House, so that we could move the VLTCL to an entity on its own, so that we could encourage them to seek investment from outside, both private and other sources. With these few words, I thank you, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, I rise to add my voice to the Statement made by the Hon Member. In fact, we grew up together in Yeji, and I know how important lake transportation is to this country. Mr Speaker, the advent of hydroelectric power through the Akosombo Dam collapsed the businesses and commu- nities of a lot of people. Yeji, in particular, has suffered a lot. In fact, life in Yeji was booming and it was the shortest link between the North and the South. Mr Speaker, all the State Transport Company (STC) buses used to pass through Yeji and one could see that the economic life of the people was actually booming. I do not know whether it was by design, but unfortunately, at a point, wherever we had ferries, that place was totally neglected. The first ferry was Iddrisu Zana- Bongo; Ndewura Jakpa and the rest were added. Unfortunately, I do not know if it has to do with the attitude of Ghanaians -- lack of maintenance and also, spoiling the machines. Mr Speaker, recently, when the Buipe and Yapei Bridges were almost collapsed, when they were rehabilitating those bridges, diversion of transport had to go through Techiman through Wenchi to Bole Bamboi, then to Sawla back to Fufulso and Fufulso to Tamale for those going all the way to Burkina Faso. Whereas Yeji would have been the shortest route from Accra through Kumasi and then Kumasi to Yeji, Yeji to Makango and then from Makango, one gets to the northern part of Ghana -- this used to be the shortest place. Mr Speaker, one problem that Ghana is facing today is the fact that we have neglected to keep our water bodies. We have not been able to dredge our water resources in this country and that is the reason the Volta Lake itself is receding and we have shortages in terms of electricity supply. If we carry out proper dredging in this country, I do not think that we would suffer shortage in the provision of electrical power. That is so important. Mr Speaker, again, I believe the Ministry of Transport and the Ministry of Roads and Highways would have to collaborate very well to make sure that these lakes are taken care of, and dredging is done properly and that we secure good ferries. As the Hon Member said, after finishing the Senchi Programme, one ferry was taken to Dambai and another to Yeji. Meanwhile, they have only one ferry and it takes about an hour and forty-five minutes to cross from Yeji to Makango. Mr Speaker, in those days, we had three ferries; one on stand-by, one at Makango and the other at Yeji. They by passed each other at the middle of the Volta Lake and one could see that transportation was so perfect. Unfortunately, others took advantage. The point is that, we have the Volta River Resettlement Authority -- people have taken advantage by using the names of these places and claiming money on behalf of the people without the people even knowing what is going on. So, those people rather make life unbearable for those who lost their houses and property when the Volta Lake was expanded. Today, those people who were probably rich are now the poorest of the poor -- You would find them when you go to Yeji.
Mr Speaker, thank you for your kindness and the opportunity offered me. First of all, I commend the Hon Kwabena Donkor for this Statement. I commend him for the sustained interest shown in this matter. I vividly recall the first Statement he made was during the Sixth Parliament, I stand corrected, though. That was when the accident occurred on the Volta Lake, and for him to have sustained the interest up to this time, I congratulate him for what he has done. Mr Speaker, narration on the importance of the Volta Lake, particularly focuses on the fact that it stretches and touches base with four regions, which cannot be gainsaid. Its economic importance and the other inherent importance cannot be overlooked. It is unfortunate that, as a nation, I do not believe that we have paid much attention to that means of transportation. It is time we began to nudge ourselves and say that it is an area that we have to focus on. It is a huge potential in terms of revenue mobilisation and we cannot gloss over it. Mr Speaker, I recall vividly that under the first compact, former President Kufuor ensured that two ferries were procured to ply sections of that water body. Beyond that, governments have come and gone and I do not think we have focused much on it. I have the belief that, moving forward, this Administration would begin to give much more attention to transportation on the Volta Lake. Mr Speaker, not too long ago, the State embarked on a contract in removing tree stumps from the water body because of their potential danger in terms of causing accidents to ferries on the Volta Lake. I am reliably informed that the contract was abrogated for reasons we do not know as a nation. In the face of the fact that the contractors had made it known that these trees were unique and had some extraordinary economic importance, we may have to look at that contract again. I am not in the position to give reasons for the repudiation of the contract, but we would have to look at it again, appreciate it and if there is a possibility of renewing that contract, I would support that Bill. Mr Speaker, security measures on the water body leave so much to be desired. I have plied that water-body quite a lot. When I was a student at Kpando, I plied that water-body a lot. When the Hon Dafeamekpor was recounting names of suburbs dotted across the Volta Lake, it brought fresh memories. We need to do something about it. Mr Speaker, already, we are aware of Apostle Safo's ingenuity; more often than not, we tend to import these ferries from other countries. I am very confident that given the necessary impetus and support, the respected Deputy Majority Leader's father would be able to provide some good ferries which we can use to ply that water-body. Mr Speaker, indulge me to remind you that not too long ago, you formed an Ad Hoc Committee to investigate sand winning across the country. We had a real shock of our lives when we visited sections of the Volta Lake and some Chinese were illegally winning sand in the Volta Lake. We have institutions of State like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and a new Ministry; we also have the Water Resource Commission -- it cannot be business as usual. This is getting out of hand and we would want to appeal, particularly to the Water Resource Commission and the EPA -- something needs to be done. Mr Speaker, when the accident occurred on the Volta Lake, where 21 souls perished, the then Minister for Transport, the Hon Fiifi Kwetey, together with Government officials visited the site and items were given to affected victims. We have had enough of this attitude; we do not want the situation where this would happen again for people to perish. There are things that we can do something about, yet we sit down for them to happen and we then go to mourn the affected victims. So, I would want to appeal to this effect. Mr Speaker, I am reliably informed that the VLTCL is fully Government owned. It means that we cannot run it because already, Government budget is getting out of hand. So, probably, a Public-Private Partnership is something that we can look at. Mr Speaker, I will appeal to you on this matter, by your kindness, if it could be referred to the Committee on Roads and Transport to do a thorough investigation on it and report to the House, especially in the face of the fact that there have been countless number of accidents on that section of the water-body, so that we can save lives and also ensure that the State generates the necessary revenue from that water-body. Mr Speaker, in nearby Nigeria, if we visit that country, we need to borrow some lessons from the way they make maximum use of their water-bodies and then domesticate that concept into our own affairs and ensure that we gain the best out of the water-bodies we have in our country. Mr Speaker, the Water Resources Commission (WRC) needs to show leadership. Our work with the Sand Winning Committee shows that there is a yawning disparity between the EPA and the WRC. The EPA is doing their own thing and so is the WRC. That synergy is non-existent and it is not too good for our country. Mr Speaker, I am grateful for your kindness.
Yes, the last two contributions.
Mr Speaker, I thank you very much and the Hon Member who made the
Thank you very much, Hon Member. The last contribution --
I thank you very much, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, putting all the submissions together, what comes to mind is another case of Dutch disease of natural resource curse. This Lake is a very good natural resource that the people of Ghana should rather enjoy than for it to cause us all kinds of problems. Mr Speaker, we have been referring to the stumps in this Lake as problematic. Nevertheless, research has shown that, water transportation is about the most cost effective means of transporting heavy goods across distances. It is also known that the easiest and cheapest way of going to the northern part of the country is through transportation on the Volta Lake. That informed the decision of the country to start the construction of the Tema-Akosombo railway line, which contract has currently been signed and would be undertaken very soon. Mr Speaker, the stumps constitute a great natural resource for the country. Mr Speaker, it is the most potent tree species that we can ever find in the whole of West Africa. Yet, we look at it as a problem related to transportation. Mr Speaker, other Hon Members have mentioned the contract that the country entered into with a foreign partner for the harvesting of the tree stumps in the Volta Lake, which would have brought us a lot of revenue. For political expediency, this contract was abrogated, and we have never represented the potential that this contract would have brought to us. Mr Speaker, the contract, if reinstated, would solve the problem that we envisage as a danger to water transportation on the Volta Lake, bring us revenue, and also provide channels for the expansion of the lake transportation facilities. Mr Speaker, it is common knowledge that state institutions in the country which manage economic enterprises have never performed well.
Thank you very much, Hon Appiah-Kubi. Leadership?
Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to make brief comments on the Statement ably made by Hon Dr Kwabena Donkor, the Hon Member of Parliament for Pru East, on the need for the State to designate the Volta Lake Transport Company Ltd. as a fully owned parastatal. Mr Speaker, in commending him on the Statement, I beg to quote a very succinct part of his presentation, which should be the import of Parliament's discussion; and probably, guidance for the decision you may want to take: “Mr Speaker, there is no doubt that a modern well-resourced and well managed Volta Lake Transport Ltd would add considerably to the socio-economic development of the catchment area. Transporting food and other agricultural products to markets in Accra, Kumasi, Tamale etc. is unnecessarily gruelling and costly.” Mr Speaker, he wants to see an end to it, and a country committed to taking advantage of its water resources in order to facilitate transportation by sea or water. Mr Speaker, the Hon Member who made the Statement calls for one course of action, which is that, should the Volta River Authority (VRA) continue to superintend or supervise the operations of a failing entity, the Volta Lake Transport Limited -- I again refer to a paragraph in his Statement where he said that they have recorded loses of GH¢2.3million from 2011 to 2015, and he has an issue with the continuous dependence on the parent company, VRA. Mr Speaker, I agree with him, and I associate myself with the Statement that the VRA should concentrate on its core mandate and business of generating electricity for our purposes, but not engage in the primary business of lake transportation. So, he calls for the state to establish a vehicle responsible for this way of transportation in our country, and to take it away from the VRA. Mr Speaker, if we would recall, the VRA today runs, even the Volta Hotel in Akosombo. What business has VRA got to do with the running of a hotel? No. Mr Speaker, I share the view of other Hon Members who contributed to this Statement that we should look for a Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement, and invite the private sector to partner the Government, as an equity shareholder, in terms of the running of this institution in order to make it more effective and efficient. So, the Volta Hotel could be jointly owned if we open it up through a transparent, diligent and competitive process in order that they could even expand the facility. Mr Speaker, I agree with him that the VRA be excused from this burden. In any case, it is not the burden and obligation they perform to the satisfaction of Ghanaians or to themselves. They should focus on the generation of electricity, which remains a national challenge, and allow Volta Lake Transport Company Limited -- Mr Speaker, if Hon Dr Kwabena Donkor would recall, I was in his constituency around 2008/2009 with the then candidate, eventually President, John Mahama. Between Atebubu -- after we had visited the head of the Islamic group, when the group of ex-President Mahama decided to go by pontoon, to quote the local people, I am sure a wind took them somewhere in the Volta Region instead of their designated place. It also indicates how we do not run lake transportation well. Mr Speaker, the Hon Member who made the Statement again made a brilliant comment. We started off with three ferries. Today, we have only one ferry. Mr Speaker, I have had cause to advise, in my capacity then as the Hon Minister for Trade and Industry, that Buipe should be situated as the industrial city of the Northern Region because of its link on the Volta Lake, and the fact that we can cart goods and services from this part of the country in the Volta Region, through the Eastern Region and to the Northern Region, Buipe. Mr Speaker, now Savannah Cement is doing very well. In concluding, it reminds me that, as the Hon Minister for Trade and Industry, I brought in a Chinese investor to the Northern Region and Tamale. He then said he wanted to drive through to Buipe and Daboya. When he landed in Tamale and watched the Tamale Airport, he said, “Haruna, I am back to Accra and back to China. If I produce, would I carry the goods on my head?” I am quoting the Chinese investor. This is because at that time, there was no reliable transportation system to link the north to the south. At that time, the Tamale Airport was not international, and therefore, could not accommodate international flights.
Thank you very much. The Statement is referred to the relevant Committee on Transport for consideration and further report. Hon Members, we have another Statement which stands in the name of the Hon Member for Ablekuma Central on maintenance culture.
Mr Speaker, respectfully, could we step down that Statement. The Hon Member was around and I believe that he is still in the building. So, if we could lay the Papers and take the Statement subsequently. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Hon Members, at the commencement of Public Business, we would take item numbered 4 -- Presentation and First Reading of Bills -- Hon Attorney-General and Minister for Justice.
Mr Speaker, the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice who should be handling this is in some other engagements, but we have the Hon Deputy Attorney-General and Deputy Minister for Justice with us. So, if the House would indulge him, he would do the laying on behalf of the substantive Hon Minister. Mr Speaker, I thank you.
Mr Speaker, I see a request to you by the Hon Majority Leader for the Hon Deputy Attorney-General and Deputy Minister for Justice to lay the Office of the Special Prosecutor Bill, 2017. Mr Speaker, ordinarily, there should be no objection but this is such an important legislation that I could assure you that we are ad idem with the President in his quest to fight corruption. Mr Speaker, but we would want to see importance attached to it with the Hon Minister leading the process. Where is the Hon Minister? The Hon Majority Leader must give us reasons as much as he is asking for our excuse for the Hon Deputy Minister, who is our Hon Colleague to lay it. Mr Speaker, out of that respect, we would allow him, but for the purpose of this House and the importance of this Bill, as I have heard the President and Hon Attorney-General and Minister for Justice -- the Office of the Special Prosecutor Bill, 2017. Mr Speaker, where is the Hon Minister? The Hon Minister must come and respond to this House. Mr Speaker, we have no problem but an important Bill of this nature must be driven -- Mr Speaker, you would know that there is a Supreme Court ruling on who are Hon Deputy Ministers and relative to the definition of who are Hon Ministers of State under our Republic. Mr Speaker, but he is a distinguished Hon Member of this House and we would not -- but the Hon Majority Leader must tell us where the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice is. The Hon Minister should be leading the process for an important process to fight corruption within and without because of its debilitating effect. So, he should tell us where the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice is before he would ask permission for the Hon Deputy Minister. Mr Speaker, where is the whereabouts of the learned Attorney- General and Minister of Justice?
Mr Speaker, the simple question to me is that where is the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice? Mr Speaker, she is in the Mr Speaker, I am not in any way inferring or implying that the business of this House is not important. I have not in any way given that inference. Mr Speaker, I am saying that she was called by the President to attend to some very serious matter and she thought that she would be able to be with us. Unfortunately, I believe that she would not be able to be with us and that is why she sent the Hon Deputy Minister. Mr Speaker, but we all know that at the laying of a document, all what is required is for the person or the Hon Minister in charge to rise and bow in this House. That is all what is required. Mr Speaker, as the Leader of Government Business, I could have even done so on behalf of the Hon Minister but because there is a substantive Hon Deputy Minister here, and we have gone through the Motions with him, I thought that if we could give him space to just do the exercise that we do -- the symbolism of rising and bowing -- Mr Speaker, I thought that this should not generate any acrimony. Mr Speaker, but if the House indulges our Hon Colleague, he could do the laying. Unfortunately, as I am saying, our Standing Orders would not allow the person laying to speak to the contents of the Bill on his own during the First Reading. If the person wishes, there is no obligation and it is the reason that in what we do, we have shifted that burden from the person to the House. If the House makes a demand, then the person shepherding the Bill in the House would be required to speak to it even if it is at the First Reading.
It has always been the wish of this House that the substantive Hon Ministers must come and be present during Business which concerns them and it would be good if this would be abided by as much as possible. Hon Deputy Attorney-General and Deputy Minister for Justice?
BILLS -- FIRST READING
Hon Members, item numbered 4 (b) -- Hon Minister for Inner- City and Zongo Development. Zongo Development Fund Bill, 2017 AN ACT to establish a Zongo Development Fund as an Authority wholly owned by the Republic of Ghana to provide financial resources for investment in education, infrastructure and businesses to develop and transform the social and economic conditions of Zongo communities and to provide for the management of the Fund and for related matters. Presented by the Hon Minister the Inner- City and Zongo Development. Read the First time; referred to the Committee on Local Government and Rural Development.
Mr Speaker, there are two things; firstly, what appeared on the Order Paper is the “Zongo and Inner City Development Fund Bill, 2017”. I believe your attention was drawn to it. It really should be “The Zongo Development Fund Bill, 2017” and not “Zongo and Inner City Development Fund Bill, 2017”. The Ministry is the Ministry of Inner- City and Zongo Development. So, that ought to be corrected. Secondly, as regards the referral, because it is the creation of a fund, I should think that the core committee should rather be the Finance Committee, in addition to, as you said, the Committee on Local Government and Rural Development. Because it is the creation of a fund, the core committee should be the Finance Committee.
Mr Speaker, I rise to raise a very fundamental constitutional issue relating to the laying of these Bills today. In respect of the Office of the Special Prosecutor Bill, 2017, I have checked with the Government's printer, the Assembly Press, and it has not been gazetted, contrary to article 106 of the Constitution and Order 120 of the Standing Orders, which require that, before a Bill is introduced into this House, it must be gazetted 14 days prior to its introduction into this House. Mr Speaker, the Hon Majority Leader has just pointed out that there is some disparity. We would want to see the gazetted evidence, so that it conforms to what is being laid here. Mr Speaker, fidelity to the Constitution is very important, particularly when one is introducing important Bills such as the Office of the Special Prosecutor Bill, 2017, which has dire implications for the rights of Ghanaians. I would respectfully expect that they would follow due process of law and conform to the dictates of the Constitution.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Member who spoke is a former Deputy Attorney-General and Deputy Minister for Justice, and so, when he speaks, we should listen to him. He is also a continuing Member of Parliament. So, again, when he speaks, we should listen to him, except that on this case, in my opinion, he is totally out of tangent. Mr Speaker, he quotes the Constitution, and the Constitution in article 106 (2) provides: “No bill, other than such a bill as is referred to in paragraph (a) of article 108 of this Constitution, shall be introduced in Parliament unless -- (a) it is accompanied by an explanatory memorandum setting out in detail the policy and principles of the bill, the defects of the existing law, the remedies proposed to deal with those defects and the necessity for its introduction; and (b) it has been published in the Gazette at least fourteen days before the date of its introduction in Parliament.” Mr Speaker, he is a former Deputy Attorney-General and Deputy Minister for Justice. That is why I said his voice carries weight. However, let him advert his mind to the same article 106 (13), which provides, and with your permission, I quote: “Where it is determined by a committee of Parliament appointed for the purpose that a particular bill is of an urgent nature, the provisions of the preceding clauses of this article, other than clause (1) and paragraph (a) of clause (2) shall not apply …”
Mr Speaker, you have referred the matter to a Committee. Government indeed considers these Bills as very urgent. The determination is for the Committee. Once the Committees that you have referred the Bills to make a determination, we could go on. And I would show the Hon Member that, in fact, the language and tenor of the construction in article 106 (13) is crystal clear, and this House has precedence. That is the way to go.
Order! Hon Members, this is a straightforward matter. We all know that at all times, the urgency or otherwise of such Bills are determined at our committee stage. Order! Hon Majority Leader, at this stage, is there any indication?
Mr Speaker, as I said, it is for the committees that you have referred the matters to make a determination as to the urgency or otherwise, and indeed, these are fortified by Order 119.
Hon Majority Leader, that matter has been determined.
The indication is that --
Hon Majority Leader, I have determined that matter, and we would wait for the Committee's Report, including any recommendation as to the urgency, et cetera.
Mr Speaker, where we are now, given the importance of the referrals and the fact that many of the Committees have also been listed to be meeting, we would allow the Committees to go and meet and report back to us. That being the case, I would want to move that we adjourn proceedings of this House until tomorrow at 12.00 noon in order to give sufficient space for the Committees to meet and come back to report to us.
Mr Speaker, I tried to catch your attention, but I am sure I was not lucky. As you are aware, the request that was earlier made was in respect of two Bills; Office of the Special Prosecutor Bill, 2017 and the Zongo Development Fund Bill, 2017. My assumption is that both of them are urgent, and as I understand from the Hon Majority Leader, there has been a committee of Parliament which was so appointed for the purpose of these Bills to have declared it urgent. I heard him copiously referring to article 106 (13), where it is determined by a committee of Parliament. It is after which referral; his words or in the Constitution? So, Mr Speaker, I would second the Motion for adjournment, but next time, I am sure I should be luckier in catching your attention. This is because, the issue the Hon (Dr) Ayine raised was in two folds.
Hon Minority Leader, are you taking us backward?
Mr Speaker, I seconded the Motion, but I know that there is a committee of Parliament to determine its urgency.