VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS AND THE OFFICIAL REPORT
Hon Members, item numbered two on the Order Paper -- Correction of Votes and Proceedings of Wednesday, 12th July, 2017.
[No correction was made to the Votes and Proceedings of Wednesday, 12th July, 2017.]
[No correction was made to the Official Report of Thursday, 6 th July, 2017.]
Hon Members, item numbered 3 -- Urgent Question. Item numbered 3 (a) stands in the name of Hon Joseph Yieleh Chireh to the Hon Minister for Health.
MINISTRY OF HEALTH
Mr Speaker, the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) has from January, 2017 to date received a total amount of GH¢ 539,853,124.29 from the Ministry of Finance. This has been disbursed to numerous creditors including service providers, contractors, suppliers and all manner of creditors that the Scheme owes. Mr Speaker, apart from these arrears owed to the providers under the NHIA, the Ministry of Health itself also owes over GH¢ 100 million. This includes arrears of procurement of vaccines for 2016, Gavi co-funding for 2017, Global Fund indebtedness arising from audit recoveries, among others. Mr Speaker, the NHIA by the approval of the allocation formulae in Parliament is supposed to support the Ministry. Some of the budget line items that Parliament has approved include these vaccines and co-funding for donor partners to give us the support that we receive from them. I must say also that the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) is in arrears to the Ministry for these critical interven- ventions. Mr Speaker, those of us in the Ministry of Health share the agony and challenges of providers of health services and pharmacists which the NHIA is indebted to and we are working tirelessly with the Ministry of Finance to see how best these challenges would be settled. It is a bit difficult for me to predict exactly when these arrears would be settled. So far, what we have managed to do very well is the fact that the situation where monthly releases that should go to NHIA by law, and were not going seemed to have now been overcome. We are doing monthly releases as the law has actually prescribed. That is how come every month, we get some small amount of money that is helping us make some of the payments to the NHIS now.
Mr Speaker, I thank the Hon Minister for Health for the Answer. But I would want to find out, with the capping on the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF), what he could tell this House how much is owed to the service providers and when payment would be made based on the Budget Statement?
Mr Speaker, as of the end of last month, we had outstanding to the tune of about GH¢ 844 million.
Mr Speaker, I asked two questions in one. [Laughter.] The Hon Minister has indicated an amount. Is that the amount left to be paid? I asked this because he talked about GH¢ 531 million or so released to the NHIF. What is actually now owed and when would that be settled?
Mr Speaker, I will reiterate that the outstanding indebtedness, which is not only to service providers, but all other creditors of NHIS as of the end of last month is GH¢ 844 million. Mr Speaker, when exactly this amount would be paid, will be very difficult for me to stand here and tell the House. I must be very honest. This is a very difficult question. I cannot easily answer now.
Mr Speaker, I asked the Hon Minister and he indicated that some money was released to the NHIF. Is he aware of any payments made to the providers and how much it is?
Mr Speaker, I am aware of moneys being paid to service providers, but the exact amount, I would have to get back and do some checking before I can put into the public domain any statistics at all. But Mr Speaker, what I know is that, between January and now, we have managed to pay amounts equivalent to about nine months of service providers' claims and that is what I can say now. This year, we have gone six months and if we have paid nine months, then effectively, we should have done about three months for the outstanding we came to meet as of the end of December, 2016. I thank you, Mr Speaker.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to ask the Hon Minister this Question. I believe the Question by the Hon Yieleh Chireh significantly asks the Minister for Health when the NHIA will settle the arrears. Indeed, part of the Answer provided by the Hon Minister says he cannot tell us exactly when that can be done.
Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I believe, increasingly, we are entertaining some construction of what otherwise should be a simple sentence. Our Standing Orders provide in 68 (5) and with your permission, I quote: “No Member shall address the House upon any Question, nor in asking the Question shall any argument or opinion be offered.” One does not begin to address the House when one wants to ask a simple question. One rises up and asks a supplementary question. It is as simple as that. No addresses, prefixes, suffixes and so on and so forth should be entertained. Mr Speaker, respectfully, I thank you very much.
Mr Speaker, respectfully, can I request my Hon Colleague to ask his question again?
Hon Minister, can you make a projection in the light of the trend of today, when the arrears will be cleared?
Mr Speaker, what I know is that this House cannot entertain assurances that cannot be fulfilled. I am trying to be very cautious such that I do not breach any principle or conventions of this Chamber. That is why I said that I cannot give the exact time. Mr Speaker, in my Answer, I also said that we are making tremendous efforts at very high levels to try to see whether we can find some money to put a kneejerk investment into health insurance. When that happens, I believe the arrears can be affected and the impact might be very significant. That is why I am threading cautiously. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. I would like to ask the Hon Minister, apart from the efforts he is making to secure funding, what other step is he taking to avert the situation where suppliers of NHIS will not withdraw their services as it happened some time back?
Mr Speaker, I think the efforts we have made so far had moved us a little away from providers and other suppliers withdrawing their services. Mr Speaker, early January, 2017, through March, 2017, we had arrears standing over GH¢1.2 billion, which is debt overhang from our predecessors that we had to handle. We have been engaging and pleading with them to give us time. We were working, but when we started making payments, though not very significant, there seemed to be some confidence going up that what we have promised will be fulfilled. Therefore, the situation of threats of withdrawing services has gone beyond where we think it should be very bad. So, they are accepting our pleas and we are also working. The monthly releases that we have started, though not adequate, had boosted their confidence such that, that situation may not arise at all.
Yes, Hon Pelpuo? That will be the last supplementary question.
Hon Pelpuo, the Hon Minister did not say he does not know when. He said he cannot tell with certainty and he would not want to mislead this Honourable House. Urgent Question numbered 3 (b). Constitution of Governing Boards of Agencies Mr Joseph Yieleh Chireh asked the Minister for Health when the governing boards of the following agencies would be constituted: (i) Ghana Health Service (ii) Food and Drugs Authority (iii) National Health Insurance Authority, and (iv) Pharmacy Council.
Mr Speaker, we are working on the composition of the boards. As at two weeks ago, the NHIA Board had been inaugurated. For the Boards of Ghana Health Service, Food and Drugs Authority and Pharmacy Council, the Ministry has submitted its proposal to the Office of the President. The process is such that by law, the President should consult with the Council of State and when that is accepted, the inauguration will be done. Mr Speaker, since I have submitted this proposal, I would wish to expect that the the inauguration of these Boards will be done very soon. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, could the Hon Minister tell this House when he submitted the proposals to the Presidency for the clearance to be done?
Mr Speaker, proposals for the clearance of all these Boards were sent to the Office of the President between three and four weeks. I cannot be very precise. Thank you.
Mr Speaker, there is a way of answering Questions in this House. The Hon Minister goes with the Order Paper and he is answering offhand after I asked the Question. That is not what we should expect. That is why I will ask the Question again.
Hon Yieleh Chireh, you will not make a Statement; you will ask a Question.
Mr Speaker, I am not making a Statement. I only asked the Hon Minister when it happened and he said between three and four weeks. If it was a Written Statement, we would not be asking him more questions. Thank you very much, Mr Speaker.
Hon Majority Leader, do you rise to ask a question?
Mr Speaker, I would want to know from the Hon Minister whether he is aware that the Council of State that the President is required to consult has duly considered these matters and submitted their report to the President? Could he tell us whether he is aware the Council of State has done this?
Mr Speaker, I am surprised that my Hon Colleagues on the Minority side of the House are trying to answer the question on my behalf when no question has been asked of them. [Laughter.] Mr Speaker, my follow-ups to the Office of the President indicate that, these ones, which I submitted together with the one from NHIA are still with the Council of State.
Hon Minister, you will still wait for us to move to the Question on item numbered 4 -- Question numbered 55.
ORAL ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS
MINISTRY OF HEALTH
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I am afraid the Answer to that Question is not ready. I would submit it as soon as I get back to the Ministry. We were working on it, but we could not finish that particular one before today.
Mr Speaker, I would want to find out from the Hon Minister how soon he would come back to the House with this Answer.
Hon Minister, how soon?
Mr Speaker, by the rules of the House, I would have to answer this Question within three weeks. I received this Question only last week, which is about four working days now. So, I would do all I can within my efforts to answer the Question within the three- week period. [Interruption.] This is not very soon; three weeks. Mr Speaker, thank you.
Thank you very much, Hon Minister. Hon Minister, it appears that is all Hon Members have for you. Thank you very much for attending to the House at Question time to answer our Questions. You are discharged. Question starred 67 -- Hon Minister for Foreign Affairs.
MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS
Mr Speaker, my first follow-up question has to do with the numbers in question. According to classfmonline.com, on 27th April, 2017, the US Ambassador to Ghana, Mr Robert P. Jackson, told reporters in Sunyani, and with your permission, I beg to quote: “In fact, about 7,000 of them are currently at different stages of the deportation process. And we are not apologetic about that...” Mr Speaker, the response from the Hon Minister indicates that checks with the ICE reveal that only 365 Ghanaians are facing deportation; the first figure was 180 and the second was 185. This means that some 6,635 have not been accounted for. Mr Speaker, I would want to find out from the Hon Minister, if she had gone to the US Ambassador to find out if he still stands by the claim of 7,000 Ghanaians facing deportation, which he made on 27th April, 2017.
Mr Speaker, I would want to find out from the Hon Minister, if her Ministry, and for that matter, our Mission in the US has been furnished with details of the cases that these compatriots of ours are being accused of, as we are entitled to under Article 22 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Mr Speaker, has she been furnished with the cases of these Ghanaians and is she extending consular services to them?
Mr Speaker, my final follow-up question has to do with the treatment meted out to the Ghanaians who were deported a few weeks ago. It has now become a matter of the word of the deportees against that of the US Ambassador. I would want to find out from the Hon Minister, if independent investigations are being carried out to ascertain exactly what happened. I do know that, Mr Speaker, your Committee, which is the Committee on Foreign Affairs, has been doing some work. But it is still inconclusive at this point and I say this in reference to a recent report by the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights of Migrants, and with your permission, I quote: “The expulsion, deportation or repatriation of undocumented migrants should be carried out with respect and dignity.” Mr Speaker, we do know that some people, in recent times, have died facing deportation. The famous case of the Nigerian who was being deported a few weeks ago -- So, this is a matter that must seriously engage our attention and I would want to find out if the Ministry is carrying out independent investigations into this claim.
Mr Speaker, I would want to ask the Hon Minister whether, as part of the consular services, there are any arrangements to assist them with legal aid as they go through the processes within the US?
Mr Speaker, I would want to find out from the Hon Minister what steps are being taken for those already deported to retrieve their belongings?
Question numbered 68 -- Hon Okudzeto Ablakwa?
MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS
Mr Speaker, I would want to find out from the Hon Minister, if the Ministry would consider signing special Agreements with these Gulf State countries, so that we could demand of them better protection of our domestic workers just like Uganda and the Governments of the Philippines, Indonesia and Sri Lanka have done. Is this an option that is available to Ghana?
Question time is far gone and we would have to finish with the Question listed as 69. So, we must move there accordingly. Question numbered as 69 on the Order Paper -- Hon Okudzeto Ablakwa? Demise of some Ghanaians in the Sahara Desert (Red Cross Report) *69. Mr Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, if a Red Cross Report of the demise of some Ghanaians in the Sahara Desert in northern Niger, which was broadcast by the BBC on June 1, 2017, had come to the Ministry's attention and if so, what is the Ministry's response.
Mr Speaker, I am most grateful. I rise to ask the Hon Minister for Foreign Affairs, if her Ministry is considering a physical visit. Mr Speaker, it appears that for now, what we are doing is to wait for information to come from either the Nigerien authorities or the Red Cross. I have also spoken to the Red Cross office in Ghana and it is accurate that they do not have details from the International Red Cross on the exact identity of the Ghanaians affected. Mr Speaker, but could we consider a physical visit? We are told that it is a remote village in northern Niger called Dirkou. Is that an option we could consider to physically go to the location?
Hon Members, any follow up questions? Hon Minister, that would be the end of Questions to you. We thank you very much for attending to the House and answering our Questions. Hon Members, item numbered 5 -- Statements. There is a Statement on drug abuse which stands in the name of Hon G. K. Aboagye.
Hon Deputy Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, thank you. Mr Speaker, the Hon Member for Kumbungu, who is Hon Ras Mubarak, is on his feet. We do not know what he has for the House. I thought you would allow him to speak before the Statement is read.
Hon Member, you may proceed.
Mr Speaker, I am grateful. Mr Speaker, I rise under Order 73(1) and Order 50(1) of our Standing Orders to raise an urgent issue of public importance. In doing so, I wish to refer the House to article 122 of the 1992 Constitution and Order 28 of our Standing Orders, which talk about contempt of Parliament. Mr Speaker, I have here with me a news report with the caption “Ghanaian MPs make stupid decisions and pass stupid laws”.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Colleague on his feet has referred us to Order 73(1) and -- [Interruption] - - Order 50(1). Mr Speaker, Order 50 (1) relates to Order 53, and I believe Order 53 (1) (l) is the one he is relating to. Since he is referring to the Standing Orders, they provide that if there are Statements to be made, those Statements would be taken. So, we have not got to that junction. I do not know why he is -- Mr Speaker, he rises to draw our attention to our Standing Orders and attempts to relate them to a complaint of contempt. I am saying to him that, in that regard, we are not at that junction. Mr Speaker, the truth is, if we are going to allow Statements, those Statements would be taken before we get to that point. That is the only thing I would want to say.
Mr Speaker, I believe the Standing Order quoted by the Hon Majority Leader is right, that Order 50(1) relates to Order 53. I believe that you would admit the Hon Member to make the Statement since it is also a Statement he is about to make -- This is because, we do not have any item on the Order Paper headed “complaints”. It is not on the Order Paper, but he wants to make a Statement regarding something that happened which is of public interest. If the Hon Speaker allowed him to make that Statement, I believe he was coming under the proper Standing Order. Whether it should be made before the actual Statements, which the Hon Speaker admitted, or not, this is also a Statement that the Hon Speaker could allow him to make. So, let us hear him.
Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, the Hon Member drew our attention to Order 50(1) of our Standing Orders which provides: “At the time appointed for the purpose under Order 53 (Order of Business) any Member may with the prior approval of Mr Speaker move a Motion on a specific matter of urgent public importance.” I suggest to him that what he is doing comes appropriately after the making of Statements. That is the simple issue that I am raising. Unless he disputes or disagrees with what I have said, that is where the Standing Orders provide that Statement should be made. I am saying to him that we are not at that junction. Mr Speaker, we are far away from Akatsi junction.
Hon Deputy Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I would not respond to the Hon Majority Leader because I am not from Akatsi junction. Mr Speaker, my point is that you have allowed the Hon Member to make a Statement concerning the issue that has been raised. Mr Speaker has the power to vary the order of Business, and you have done that. So, let us allow the Hon Member to make his point. That is why the Hon Speaker called him.
Have the Leaders come to an understanding on this matter?
Mr Speaker, the intimation I am having from what my Hon Colleague is doing is that, I guess it might be a good thing for us to consider. I am only telling him that he is drawing our attention to the point of entry, and we are not there yet. Let us reach there, and if we get there, you might permit him. We would hear him and if the House would have to act, we would. That is the only issue that I am bringing.
The Leaders must come to a common understanding on this matter, then we would proceed. Hon Member for Asene/Akroso/ Manso, you may make your Statement.
Mr Speaker, I am grateful for the opportunity to make this Statement. Mr Speaker, the UN General Assembly instituted 26th June as an international day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking as an expression of its determination to strengthen action and cooperation to achieve the goal of an international society free of drugs. The theme for 2017 is “Listening to Children and Youth is the first step to help them Grow Healthy and Safe”. The celebration in Ghana was marked at Birim Central and hosted in Akim Oda. Mr Speaker, according to the Merriam Webster dictionary, drug abuse is defined as the “excessive use of a drug (such as alcohol, narcotics or cocaine) without medical justification”. Different types of illicit drugs include; marijuana, cocaine, heroin and many more. Drug abuse can affect a person's physical and emotional health as well as social life. Mr Speaker, statistics by the Narcotics Control Board (NACOB) has revealed that there are 50,000 drug users in Ghana, 35,000 were students from junior high, senior high and tertiary institutions aged between 12 and 35 years, while the remaining 15,000 were adults, with 9,000 males and 6,000 females. Mr Speaker, as a country, we need to fight this menace with all seriousness to avoid the use of scanty resources in treating drug addicts. Most people do not have in-depth knowledge on the negative effects of these drugs on individuals, families and society at large, hence, the result of little effort in tackling this national threatening canker. Mr Speaker, this year's theme “Listening to Children and Youth is the first step to help them Grow Healthy and Safe” is the most appropriate. Most parents are so engulfed in their work that they leave their children in the care of maids, teachers and extended family. As parents, guardians, teachers and responsible adults, we need to pay close attention to our wards, share in their problems, attend to their psychological,
emotional, physical and social needs. We also need to be familiar with their friends and the company they keep. Causes of drug abuse Mr Speaker, the most common reasons people abuse drugs include; negative peer pressure that affect teens who do not want to be different from others in their group, depression, curiosity about the effects, high performance in school or at work, to escape emotional problems, wide availability of drugs, boredom, low self- esteem, financial worries, et cetera. The danger with experimenting is that the cravings for drugs can become a burdensome part of daily life. Side effects (negative) Mr Speaker, these drugs increase the activity of the central nervous system. Side effects of these drugs include, anxiety, hallucination, feelings of persecution, depression, sensation of bugs under the skin, tiredness, hunger, damaged lining of the nose, respiratory failure, stroke, seizures, coma, heart attacks, weight loss, et cetera. Regular users stand the risk of contracting infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis B and other infectious diseases due to the use of unsterilised needles. Mr Speaker, the NACOB is seriously under resourced; they need more vehicles and logistics for operations and educational campaigns. Currently, the organisation has just one vehicle to serve a whole region, this same vehicle is the one being used by the regional commander and all the various departments and units in the region. Mr Speaker, if the regional commander travels, it means no official duties can be carried out apart from administrative work. Mostly, money to fuel the vehicle for educational campaigns become a problem. Often times, officers in the various Regional Offices find it difficult travelling to other towns and villages in the regions to embark on campaigns due to lack of funds for fuel and accommodation. Unfortunately, this is the institution we depend on, to fight illicit drug traffickers; how can we fight this war? Recommendations Mr Speaker, drug abuse prevention should be a national public health goal, preventing drug abuse is one of the best investments we can make in our country's future and doing so is preferable to dealing with the consequences of drug abuse through law enforcement or drug treatment, among others. I recommend the following drug prevention programmes: harness central role of parents, institute a National Youth Anti-Drug Campaign, promote safe and drug-free schools and community programmes; provide funds for every district to support drug and violence prevention, initiate national mentoring programmes to focus on some of the problems young people face. We need to establish public rehabili- tation centres to cater for those already caught in the act, because the private ones cannot be assessed by the poor due to high cost of the facility. We are sitting on a time bomb, therefore, we the legislators should take a decision on drug abuse with utmost seriousness.
Hon Member, thank you very much for this Statement so ably made.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I would thank the maker of the Statement and make a few comments. It is indeed a very big menace we have on our hands; drug abuse. Anytime the issue of drug abuse comes up, we talk about cocaine, painkillers, et cetera, which everyone's attention is drawn to. Mr Speaker, there is one thing that is eating up our society in Ghana. There is unbridled advertisement of alcohol in Ghana. These days because we have a lot of radio and television stations, at any time irrespective of whether the children are asleep or not, we have these advertisements. When we talk about children experimenting with drugs, sometimes, it is out of some of these advertisements. Mr Speaker, hitherto, I knew that the Food and Drugs Board had some Regulations. I do not know whether they have decided to abandon those regulations, because I know that to advertise alcohol, it should be after 10.00 p.m., but these days as early as 10.00 a.m., you find all manner of alcoholic products being advertised. Added to these products are very interesting claims, some of which are wild. Mr Speaker, we know the kind of youth we have in the country now. They would want to experiment with everything, therefore, if we have a product -- I do not want to mention the names -- the claims are very interesting, and every young person would want to experiment. Mr Speaker, in the course of this, the very drugs that we want to eliminate find their way into some of these products. It is on record that, there are people who sell alcoholic beverages laced with marijuana. Some add other things, and once the person gets hooked on to it, if he does not get the alcohol, he would look for the substance itself. Mr Speaker, we have to take the issue of advertisement of these products seriously. Early this year, we had a Statement on kidneys, and everybody was looking in the direction of herbal products. A lot of painkillers that are added to these products can also damage our kidneys, liver and other organs in our system. Mr Speaker, I believe that to tackle this problem, we need to make sure that the Food and Drugs Authority takes seriously the issue of advertisement of alcoholic products. These days you find them funding all manner of programmes. Recently, I heard about a programme in Kumasi where the youth were given alcohol in excess. Some got drunk and they slept at the stadium. I heard the license of the producer was suspended for a period, but he was able to pull strings. Now, he is still producing and advertising, day in, and out. Mr Speaker, sometimes, if you do not take care and you have a television in church, on a Sunday morning, if you make a mistake and switch on the television, you would have an advertisement which is promoting alcoholic beverages. So, Mr Speaker, the Food and Drugs Authority must take this issue very seriously. This is because it is very easy to get these products. They are cheap, but a person could easily get hooked on to it, and in the process, these products are laced with other things that are dangerous to human health --
Thank you very much, Hon Member.
Thank you very much, Hon Member. Yes, Hon Member, you may make your contribution. Hon Members, in the meantime, the Hon First Deputy Speaker would take the Chair.
Mr Speaker, I would like to congratulate the Hon Member who made the Statement for drawing the attention of the House to drug abuse, especially among children, or its impact on children. Mr Speaker, more often than not, when we speak about drug abuse, what comes to mind are the orthodox or the conventional drugs such as cocaine, marijuana and heroin, which we are aware of. Mr Speaker, increasingly as a country, we seeing the abuse of non-conventional drugs such as tramadol, common pain killers and herbal medications.
MR FIRST DEPUTY SPEAKER
Hon Member, continue.
Mr Speaker, most of the time, the conventional or the orthodox drugs that we know, such as cocaine, et cetera, are able to cause mental illness, and this affects cognitive function and the ability of the affected individual to deliver. Mr Speaker, sometimes, mental illness might be preferable even to physical illness when you weigh the two. So, I would want the House to be made aware that, the problems that we see with physical illness associated with the abuse of non-conventional drugs, such as paracetamol and the other ordinary drugs as they are so-called, are becoming an increasing problem. Mr Speaker, recently, NACOB made mention of the abuse of tramadol as a drug. A lot of Ghanaians are using tramadol to help them deal with stress and be able to sleep, whereas others are also trying to use it to sexually abuse females in this country. Mr Speaker, what we have to do as a country is to make sure that, we become very strict with the importation and distribution of prescription drugs. Most of the drugs that cause mental problems in this country are supposed to be issued strictly by prescription, but as a result of the lack of control mechanisms in this country, one can easily purchase tramadol from a licensed chemical shop as well as a pharmacy shop.
Thank you Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to first of all commend the Colleague Hon Member who made the Statement. Mr Speaker, I would want to take my contribution from the point of view of enforcement. Mr Speaker, we have adequate laws, regulations and guidelines that if the State of Ghana decides to implement would reduce this menace of drug abuse. Mr Speaker, if we take the pharma- ceutical sector, for instance, there are a number of laws, regulations and guidelines by which drugs can be sold over the counter, but these laws are significant more by their non-observance than by their observance. One can virtually buy every drug over the counter in this country, leading to substance abuse. Mr Speaker, when it comes to the traditional drugs such as the Indian hemp or the wee, if one goes to virtually all our big towns and cities, they are openly patronised, unfortunately sometimes, even by members of the security forces. Mr Speaker, the porous nature of our ports also encourage the importation of substances that are prohibited by law. When would we as a nation or a State take seriously the issue of implemen- tation? We have sufficient laws, regulations and statutory bodies with the responsibility to work at the promotion of a drug free society, yet, these bodies sometimes, justify or become promoters of some of these substances. Mr Speaker, I would humbly recommend the House to take a second look at enforcement. In my opinion, this House has made sufficient laws; we have passed sufficient Legislative Instruments (L.I.s) in the form of regulations, and institutions have issued enough guidelines but what has been lacking -- and this seems to cut across board into other spheres -- is a willingness to enforce laws and regulations. The non-enforcement of laws and regulations also impacts negatively on this House. If we spend all the intellectual powers at our disposal making laws and regulations that are not implemented, Mr Speaker, the esteem of this House, in my opinion, is lowered. So, I would want to recommend that the appropriate statutory bodies charged with ensuring that drugs do not take over our society, should be up and doing. With these few words, Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity.
Mr Speaker, I am grateful for the opportunity to contribute to this very important Statement made by the Hon Member for Asene/Akroso/Manso (Mr George Kwame Aboagye). Mr Speaker, the drug menace has different aspects and the most worrying part is the international trade. Part of the international trading in hard drugs go through our country as a transit point and invariably, some of the materials were left behind within the country to fuel a local drug industry. Mr Speaker, there are different aspects of the Statements -- those that have to do with over the counter drugs and under the counter pharmaceutical drugs which are abused. I would want to focus on the hard illicit narcotic drugs. Mr Speaker, I would want us as a society, to focus on the real role and value of the NACOB. Mr Speaker, how are they able to carry out their functions and how are we to know that they are winning or losing? In the nature of their business, they are very secretive, quiet and behind the scenes, because of course, it is important that they do not operate in public. Most of their work depends on intelligence gathering in order to prevent the illicit trade and enforce the laws, but how are we going to hold them accountable as Parliament in order to find out whether they are winning or losing the battle against the international illicit trade? It is in that regard, Mr Speaker, that the call for enhancing the powers of the Board is very important. The question though then remains: In what direction do we enhance the powers and how do we make the Board accountable for those powers that we give it? But there is everything to be said for investing in their ability to police the drug trade -- for investing in resources for them. It is pitiable to hear that an entire region has only to go about their duties. Indeed, the state of their headquarters appears terrible as well. For Hon Members who have had reason to pass through the road that goes behind their headquarters, I am afraid, unless it is deliberate, their building looks run down and very unappetising to work in.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to contribute to the Statement that has been ably made by Hon G. K. Aboagye. Mr Speaker, statistics available at NACOB reveals that the cheapest and most abused drug in the country is marijuana. Mr Speaker, according to the World Drug Report by the United Nations Office in 2007 on drugs and crime, 21.5 per cent of Ghanaians aged from 15 to 64 smoke marijuana or use cannabis product. The Report, Mr Speaker, continued to say that Ghanaians use marijuana more than five times the world average, thereby making Ghana the leader of African countries and the third in the world in cannabis or marijuana abuse. In fact, the Report indicated that Ghana ranked third in the world in the use of marijuana behind Papua New Guinea and Micronesia with 29 per cent each. Even Jamaica, I am sure, would be enviable of our status. Mr Speaker, it is based on this that there have been suggestions from some quarters that, perhaps, considering the economic advantage of growing marijuana and exporting it as a country, we should begin to look at how to regularise the use of marijuana and decriminalise it if possible. Mr Speaker, I am yet to have a Report position on this, but considering how prevalent it is, I believe it is a debate worth having, especially because other countries in the world have started decriminalising the use of marijuana and are making profit from the exportation of this drug. Mr Speaker, again at NACOB, statistics show that 70 per cent of Junior High School (JHS) and Senior High School (SHS) students face the risk of drug abuse. Mr Speaker, what this means is that, your child and my child are not safe. Seventy per cent of basic school going age face the risk of abusing drugs, at least, once in their lifetime. Again, we are told that 70 per cent of patients or inmates at our psychiatric hospitals are the youth between the ages of 18 and 35. So, Mr Speaker, the Statement on drug abuse is one that we must all take seriously and look at ways to mitigate the effects on our society. In contributing to the way forward, Mr Speaker, I would want to look at the mandate of NACOB. What is that institution really supposed to do? Is it through or from this country? Or is it also to ensure that the emphasis that they lay on preventing trafficking is put on the use in this country? Mr Speaker, we often hear about NACOB when there is a bust and when it relates to trafficking from or through this country. Hardly do we hear about NACOB when it comes to, for example, collaborating with our educational institutions to ensure that the risk of 70 per cent that our children face is reduced. Mr Speaker, we hardly hear about the NACOB going into our communities to educate the youth and also to ensure that they organise programmes that would sensitise the public on the effects of drugs and the use of same. So, Mr Speaker, maybe, the mandate of NACOB has to be defined properly. If it has been defined, then the management of the NACOB has to begin to share the focus between trafficking and the use of drugs also in this country. Mr Speaker, with these words, I would want to thank you very much for the opportunity to associate myself with the Hon Member who made the Statement.
Very well. I will take one more and then, I would come to the Leadership.
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to contribute to the Statement on the floor of the House. Mr Speaker, the use of drugs by our youth is growing at an alarming proportion. When we visit our various neighbourhoods, we have various places where they have designated for the youth; where they meet and then engage in activities that bring the youth together and encourage them to take drugs. I live in Kaneshie and I have seen what drugs have done to a lot of people within my neighbourhood. This is because of my proximity to the Kaneshie Market. We have a lot of young people who move from their villages and come to Kaneshie to do what they usually term as ‘hustle'. They come there and they live on the streets and some find homes within the area to sleep in people's porches and people's corridors. Over time, these young ones are exposed to drugs and you would see them sometimes gone mad and they walk in the streets. In our various communities, we know places where we can point to and say that this house or this area, that is what they do there. The young ones want to experiment with everything; they have done the cocaine and they have done the wee.
Very well. Hon Members, there is another Statement standing in the name of the Hon Member for Pusiga, Hon Laadi Ayamba on the rise in forced early marriages. Hon Member, you may read your Statement now. Rise in forced early marriages in Ghana
Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to make a Statement on the rise in forced early marriages in Ghana. Mr Speaker, in accordance with our Constitution, under article 28 (5) on “Children's Rights,” at page 29, it states and I beg to quote, with your kind permission: “For the purposes of this article, “child” means a person below the age of eighteen years.” For the above reason, Mr Speaker, no child below age eighteen should be forced into marriage as early forced marriage is a crime that hinges on the rights of the child. Mr Speaker, forced early marriage comes in many ways such as compulsion, coercion, pretension and adoption, to mention a few. These can be undertaken by relatives, parents, peers or agents. Mr Speaker, according to Graham Crouch of an organisation called “Girls are not brides” each year, 15 million girls are married before the age of 18; that is, 28 girls are married off every minute endangering their personal development and well-being. Mr Speaker, child brides face huge challenges as a result of being married early. They are always isolated, their freedom is curtailed, they are disempowered and deprived of their rights to health, education, safety and socialisation. These girls are normally neither physically nor emotionally ready to become wives or mothers. So, they stand a greater risk of experiencing dangerous complications in pregnancy and child birth. Sometimes, this leads to death, contracting HlV/AIDS, suffering from domestic violence with little access or no opportunities of ever getting out of the situation. Mr Speaker, according to an article by Alessandra Brivio (20th July 2016), young girls generally between 14 and 16 years old migrate from the rural areas of northern Ghana to the urban centres of the south, that is, Accra, Kumasi, Takoradi and other parts of the country seeking greener pastures. As stated, some of these girls normally run away from forced early marriages that are arranged by parents of both parties, relatives or other interested persons. Mr Speaker, these girls who ran away from home find themselves migrating to the urban areas where they come to seek refuge with the hope of making life better, but their vulnerabilities leave them exposed to sanitation-related illnesses such as malaria, diarrhoea, skin diseases, sexual violence, which come with increasing HIV/AIDS, other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), unplanned pregnancies, illegal abortions, gender based violence and human trafficking, thus making their plight worse than what they run away from. Mr Speaker, sometimes, this leads to modern day slavery, which is a crime, but it spans the globe, providing ruthless employers with an endless supply of people to abuse for financial gain. As most of these girls who are all seeking opportunities without question are ready to go with anybody who is able to convince them to any place, without their prior knowledge of where, who and what they are going to be faced with, they find themselves in worse of situations, most probably in different countries.
1. Poverty which is a key factor, as most of these children, when interviewed say that their parents are not able to support them even with their daily meals. 2. There are no schools around, so they are at home doing nothing but playing around so their parents give them to other relatives who easily give them out for marriage. 3. Outmoded cultural practices where betrothal as a practice thrives when it comes to early marriage. 4. Lack of money to pay school fees when needed. 5. Lack of encouragement or motivation as there may not be parole models for them to emulate. 6. Awareness creation on how better educated well established single girls are a hundred times better when married. 7. Ignorance of the effects of marrying off a child in relation to what really happens in marital life is a key factor, as parents may not know that, a girl-child is not matured, her reproductive system is equally not ready for child birth and that she does not even know how to manage herself, not to talk of getting herself out of the situation when the need arises. Mr Speaker, early marriage has a broad global impact as it weakens legitimate economies, threatens public health and safety, shatters families and shreds the social fabric that is necessary for progress. It is an affront to our basic values and our fundamental belief that all people deserve to live and grow in safety and dignity. As provided for in our Constitution, every child has the right to education which is normally curtailed, as the girl- child is compelled to either not go to school at all or stop schooling. Mr Speaker, children are the future of the world, but how realistic is this saying in the case of Ghana; as the girl-child is married off at an early age that prevents her from living up to expectation. Does the girl-child of Ghana have a future when her rights and privileges are trampled upon, especially those from the three northern regions? As the beacon of Africa, Ghana has marked its 60th Anniversary with pomp and pageantry to the admiration of the whole world, a milestone which was vividly celebrated across the length and breadth of the country owing to its importance and significance. This means Ghana as a country has come a long way having grown independently, democratically, politically and peacefully. Yet there are a whole lot of questions when it comes to the freedom and rights of our girls. Mr Speaker, although the Children's Act, 1998 (Act 560) stipulates the rights of the child, this law is violated as the girl- child is not given the opportunity in all facets of our country to prove her worth, although we can attest to the fact that what men can do, women can do and even sometimes, do better. This is clearly seen in our political dispensation as is seen even in Parliament, where the girl-child who became a woman has been able to contest with male counterparts to become Members of Parliament. Mr Speaker, there are many women out there who hold the same or higher positions than their male counterparts, but continue to live as women and make life better for all of the -- Their spouses and children. Some of these women, Mr Speaker, are able to cater for the same parents, relatives and siblings who wanted them married at an early age and even sometimes pay their own dowry to their parents as they continue to be the breadwinners of their families. Mr Speaker, if we are to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030 and uphold the rights of women, we must act now to end child marriage. We will not make progress on half of the SDGs without ending child marriage. Mr Speaker, to end forced early marriages in Ghana and other countries, all concerned individuals, organisations and institutions must help educate girls on the consequences of early marriage, empower the girls, educate parents, mobilise religious leaders, chiefs, queen mothers and elders, support implemen- tation of legislations against child marriage, provide relevant economic support, give information and take action against perpetrators, talk about it, sponsor a girl-child, support anti girl-child marriage charities and organisations, support artists, photographers and journalists who raise the awareness about child marriage. Mr Speaker, I believe that if the above measures are considered by all, then Ghana as a country and other countries will be able to eradicate forced early marriages. Thank you, Mr Speaker, for this opportunity.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I associate myself with this fine Statement about early marriages of our children. These early marriage situations involve children who have not matured to the point of independence, thereby depriving them of their childhood and transition into young adulthood. It is important that these matters are addressed. The call of the Hon Member that a conscious effort should be made, so that every fabric of society would engage in the fight against this deprivation of the rights of the children is on point and in order. Children have the right to education and they are required to stay in school until they finish Junior High School (JHS). So, at what stage in their educational experience do they become spouses, and as a result, lose the opportunity to gain basic literacy and numeracy skills to the point where they could engage in gainful employment on their own? These child marriages are not done with the consent of the children. It is a matter of coercion. These children are coerced into these relationships because their parents need something from the other party. In certain cases, it is a hopeless situation and they believe the solution to their poverty and subsistence lifestyle could be sustained by marrying these children off.
Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to associate myself with this Statement. Mr Speaker, my interest in this subject is purely based on the fact that I am an African and I understand our culture, and also as an Anthropologist, I know the pros and cons of such early forced marriages. Mr Speaker, I would want to contribute on the dimension of the political economy that has changed in our own rural settings. It is not that these forced early marriages cannot be corrected or laws cannot be enforced to ensure that they do not happen, but we have to be real in addressing these issues. We know that the biggest problem to early marriages is purely based on the ability of families to be able to survive, feed and support their children to go to school. If we are to do anything positive about forced early marriages, we must also be looking at how we invest in our rural communities. This is because that is where most of our problems come from. How do we support families that are poor to sustain their children and parents to be able to put their children into education till they complete, perhaps, at the stage where they can get settled and marry? Mr Speaker, we have a serious problem where the economies of rural-based communities are completely getting damaged and destroyed. We have a problem where rural folks have no source of livelihood apart from subsistence farming. For us to have a serious challenge for law enforcement to ensure that forced early marriages do not take place, we must actually be on the ground and invest in changing the lives and economies of our rural folks. Mr Speaker, when you take the East Legon road towards the Abedi Pele House Road in the evening, what you see there — I wonder if those who were forced into marriages would have been better or what we see there —
Hon Member, did you say when I am going on that road or when you are going on that road? [Laughter.] I have not gone on that road to see what you see there. So, if you could tell us what you see on that road.
Mr Speaker, if one were to go on that road — I do not impute that you have been there before. I do not know, anyway. I take that road a lot of times, going towards University of Professional Studies, Accra (UPS-A) and to Madina in the night. I do stop there, but sometimes, I am forced to see what is going on there — [Laughter] — Honestly, one gets very disheartened at what is witnessed — Very pretty young women — [Interruption] — But the fact is — [Interruption] — I do watch a bit but not much — [Laughter.] Mr Speaker, to be very fair, one would really see that this country has very young people who are frustrated and have no avenues to actually get opportunities. So, they have found themselves down there because they have been forced by circumstances. At times, when I see that, I wonder whether if these our young women were forced into marriages, it would not have been better than the situation in which they find themselves. In whichever way, whether forced into marriages or wherever they find themselves, the issue is the same. The value is the same and it is because of the fact that they do not have opportunities, they are frustrated, especially for the girl-child. Mr Speaker, from where I come from, I know that even young men are forced into marriages. At the age of 18, some young men are forced into marriages by their parents because they want them to bring young labour into the families. This is part of a cultural practice, where one gets married early, to bring a young woman or two into the family who would help on the farms and have early children et cetera. But that is because of trying to reorganise their economies locally. So, in my view, the main and fundamental challenge for any policy to succeed, whether Sustainable Development Goals or a local policy, is that, we must be seen to be transforming our rural economies in order to give opportunities to the rural people to be able to sustain their families and the households. Mr Speaker, if we do not do this — We can have all the laws around. The fact is, what would determine forced early marriages is the pocket and the ability to feed families in the rural areas. That is what I would call for. All the Agencies in this country, Departments and Ministries that are responsible for sustainable development, or investing in real opportunities for young people should be up and doing and be interested in the economies of rural folks. Mr Speaker, with these very few words, I support the Statement.
Nelson Etse Kwami Dafeamekpor — rose
Mr Speaker, thank you very much for the opportunity. First of all, may I commend the Hon Member who made the Statement. Mr Speaker, betrothal of young children to marriages is not as simplistic as we may want to argue. Mr Speaker, this practice is deeply embedded in our cultural and customary practices. If I may refer to article 11 (1) of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana, it talks about the hierarchy of norms in this country. Article 11(1) (e) talks of the common law. Mr Speaker, if we look at article 11 (2), it explains the common law of Ghana as, and I beg to quote, with your kind permission: “The common law of Ghana shall comprise the rules of law generally known as the common law, the rules generally known as the doctrines of equity and the rules of customary law including those determined by the Superior Court of Judicature.” Mr Speaker, if we look at article 11 (3), it says, and I beg to quote, with your permission: “For the purposes of this article, “customary law” means the rules of law which by custom are applicable to particular communities in Ghana.” Mr Speaker, I have witnessed ceremonies in Metropolitan Accra, where children were betrothed to men at such young age.
Hon Member, you are a lawyer and so I want us to discuss this thing very well. The Hon Member who made the Statement refers to statutes which prohibit the marriage of children below a certain age, and you are referring to customary law as the laws of our land became anytime customary law runs into statutes, it must bow to statutes.
Mr Speaker, I am about to make that point. I am just developing the point. I am saying that, very often, these practices are anchored in customary practices. The further argument is that, because it is our custom and we are empowered under the Constitution to perpetrate it, we have not offended any law. Yet, we have found a reason to enact statutes and substantive laws from this House banning such practices. But the problem is that, we have not had the opportunity to test the clash of the constitutional provision of allowing these customary practices to stand as part of the laws of Ghana, vis-ą-vis substantive laws that ban the practice. As we speak of the matter as being endemic to rural areas, my further argument is that, we have over the period transposed these practices into the urban meaning and they are actually happening in the urban centres, but still within the cultural setting. Mr Speaker, so, as a people, it is rather the advocacy —
Bonsu — rose
Yes, Hon Majority Leader
Mr Speaker, with respect to my Hon Colleague, if he addresses his mind to article 39 of the Constitution, I believe he would understand what the Hon Member who made the Statement tried to portray. Mr Speaker, indeed, article 39 (2) is on cultural objectives of the directive principles of state policy. It provides and I beg to quote, with your permission: “The State shall ensure that appropriate customary and cultural values are adapted and developed as an integral part of the growing needs of the society as a whole; and in particular that traditional practices which are injurious to the health and well-being of the person are abolished.” So, I do not know what the Hon Member is trying to say, that our statutes should bow to cultural practices and so on. The Hon Member should please address his mind to article 39.
Mr Speaker, I believe I have made the point that where we have statutory --
Hon Member, you only mentioned the fact that statutes have abolished those practices. But in my view, you go on and encourage the situation by saying that we have not had the opportunity to test the veracity of the law if people say that it is their custom. It should not be encouraged at all; once a statute says that it is not to be practised, the person practising it is engaged in an illegality. So, there is no question of it being tested before the law is made efficient. Hon Member, your point is well made; people are practising it against the law. I would want you to address your mind to how we deal with that. Maybe, you should take the challenge and instead of attending the ceremonies, challenge them that what they are doing is illegal.
Mr Speaker, I did not attend that ceremony; I witnessed it and I could not have stopped it. [Laughter.] Mr Speaker, but the point I am making is that, we sit within the walls of this House and make the argument but the practice is endemic. So, it is rather the advocacy that must be intensified. Mr Speaker, we do not have the opportunity to go to court to test whether a particular customary practice which the Constitution says is part of our laws yet statute frowns upon it is either legal or illegal. So the point I am making is that we must move the argument --
Hon Member, you are returning to the same argument about challenging the legality of a statute. Considering the import of your argument, while the statute says this cannot be practised -- The fact that people practise it as a custom does not change the statutory position. That is what I really want you to address. We should not encourage people to think that though statute says it is abolished, it is their custom and so, they would go on with it. The main reason is that, as a people, we simply do not like to prosecute people for some of these things. I like the point about the advocacy. So, develop your argument on that and leave the part on legality.
Very well; I take a cue from that. Mr Speaker, so, further on advocacy, I believe there are certain non- Governmental organisations (NGOs) that have devoted their core business to fighting those practices. But they are
This is the end of Statements; we move on to Public Business. At the Commencement of Public Business, item numbered 6 -- Presen- tation of Papers. Mr Mubarak — rose --
Hon Member for Kumbungu?
Mr Speaker, I am grateful. Mr Speaker, I rise under Standing Order 73(3) to raise an issue of urgent public importance. In doing so, I wish to refer to article 122 of the 1992 Constitution and Order 28 of our Standing Orders which talk about contempt of Parliament. Mr Speaker, I have here with me a news report with the caption Ghanaian MPs Only Make Stupid Decisions and Pass Stupid Laws; by Sydney Casely-Hayford which was published on 9th July, 2017 on ghanaweb.com. In the said story, the gentleman by name Sydney Casely-Hayford is reported -- There is an accompanying video to the story and I have a copy with me here where he is seen and heard making comments that constitute an affront to the dignity of this Honourable House. Mr Speaker, not only are his comments an attack on the integrity of all Hon Members of Parliament, past and present, but also if one were to stretch it, it even bothers on promoting hatred and vandalism because he talks about breaking down Parliament. We have a duty to defend and honour the integrity of this House. Mr Speaker, you are a Member of this House in good standing and you have paid your dues. We have had from this House the current President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo; we have had in this House former President John Dramani Mahama and we have had in this House former Speaker Doe Adjaho, Hon Bagbin, Alhaji Mohammad Mumuni, among others, who spent their lives and continue to spend their time and energy working and fighting for the best interest of Ghana. Mr Speaker, if this nation cannot honour its Members of Parliament, people like you, then we must not sit for people to abuse past and present Members of Parliament who have once worked for our Legislature and are working tirelessly and striving for the best interest of the ordinary Ghanaian. The gentleman has indicted all of us here and those who were here before us. Mr Speaker, it would take a whole Session of Parliament to go through the litany of progressive legislation that have been passed from this House; Decisions that have brought significant changes and made positive impact on the lives of the ordinary Ghanaian. Mr Speaker, with your indulgence, if I may read portions of his comments, he says, and I beg to quote: “These people are sitting there, spending money like crazy, making stupid decisions, and passing stupid laws ... all they think of is, let's pass this thing quickly, let's go to Senchi Royal, let's go and sit there and chill and come back and that's the pattern.”
“They don't read the papers that they are given, they don't think through what the challenges are ... and the first thing I would do if I had the opportunity is to break down Parliament.” Mr Speaker, it is a serious statement. His comments are downright offensive, they are outrightly blighted and can only come from a man who seems discombobulated from the world he inhabits. He is unjustifiably inciting people against Hon Members of Parliament. If his comments are allowed to pass, they would set a very bad precedent and create more room for people to impugn the reputation of Members of this House. Mr Speaker, I, therefore,, wish to call on this Honourable House to invite the gentleman to appear before the House to answer to contempt charges. Mr Speaker, I thank you. Mr Mathias K. Ntow — rose --
Hon Ntow, you are the Hon Ranking Member of the Privileges Committee. So, I do not think it is appropriate for you to comment. I think I would want to hear the Leadership on this matter. Hon Deputy Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I believe that the Hon Member has raised a point which he captured adequately in his request for the House to extend an initiate to the gentleman, Sydney Casely-Hayford and to take a decision on what he has said about Parliament. Mr Speaker, I believe that the invitation is basically for your goodself to decide whether Mr Casely-Hayford should be invited by the House or you should direct on how the matter should be handled. So, I do not have much to say, but we await your directive on what should be done in this particular matter.
Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I was outside the jurisdiction of this country when this statement was alleged to have been made by the said gentleman.
Well, Hon Members, ordinarily, Order 31 of our Standing Orders should be the appropriate route to take. But I also take a cue from the earlier discussions of the House that Leadership meets over this matter and advise the House. So, accordingly, I refer the matter to the Leadership of the House to meet and discuss and advise the House. Shall we move to item numbered 6 -- Presentation of Papers by the Hon Chairman of the Subsidiary Legislation Committee.
I am advised that same has been distributed already. We can move to item numbered 7 -- Motion. Hon Chairman of the Committee?
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that notwithstanding the provisions of Standing Order 80(1) which require that no Motion shall be debated until at least forty-eight hours have elapsed between the date on which notice of the Motion is given and the date on which the Motion is moved, the Motion for the adoption of the Report of the Committee on Subsidiary Legislation on the Local Government (Atwima Kwanwoma District Assembly) (Establishment) Instrument, 2017 (L.I. 2253) may be moved today.
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion.
Mr Speaker, if we should be exact, there is no Motion listed as Motion numbered 7. It is item numbered 7. There is a Motion listed as an item numbered 7.
Mr Speaker, the Motion was moved. It was just for emphasis that we mentioned the item number. [Laughter.] Question put and Motion agreed to Resolved accordingly.
Shall we move to item numbered 8? Local Government (Atwima Kwanwoma District Assembly) (Establishment) Instrument, 2017 (L.I. 2253)
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that this Honourable House adopts the Report of the Committee on Subsidiary Legislation on the Local Government (Atwima Kwanwoma District Assembly) (Establishment) Instrument, 2017 (L.I. 2253). Mr Speaker, in moving the Motion, I present your Committee's Report. Introduction The Local Government (Atwima Kwanwoma District Assembly) (Establishment) Instrument, 2017 (L.l. 2253) was laid before Parliament on Friday, 9th June, 2017 in accordance with article 11(7) of the 1992 Constitution. Pursuant to Orders 77 and 166 of the Standing Orders of Parliament, the Rt Hon Speaker referred the Instrument to the Committee on Subsidiary Legislation for consideration and report. Reference documents The Committee referred to the under- listed documents during the delibera- tions: i. The 1992 Constitution ii. The Standing Orders of Parliament iii. Local Governance Act, 2016, Act 936 iv. Local Government (Atwima Kwanwoma District Assembly) (Establishment) Instrument, 2007 (L.I. 1853); and v. The unreported case of Nana Kwarteng Panin Akosa II & 3 others (Writ No J1/4/2009 and dated 22nd May 2012). Deliberations The Committee, in considering the referral, met with the Hon Deputy Minister for Local Government and Rural Development, Mr Osei Bonsu Amoah. In attendance was an official from the Attorney-General's Department. Background The Local Government (Atwima Kwanwoma District Assembly) (Esta- blishment) Instrument, 2007 (L.I. 1853) was laid before Parliament on 16th November, 2007, by the then Minister for Local Government, Rural Development and Environment. The Instrument, among others, sought to create a new District Assembly with its principal offices at Twedie where meetings of the Assembly would be held. At the expiration of the mandated twenty-one sitting days stipulated in article 11(7) of the 1992 Constitution, the Instrument came into force with a conspicuous change in Regulation 6 where Foase was substituted for Twedie. Nana Kwarteng Panin Akosa II and 3 others, aggrieved by the substitution, filed a writ at the Supreme Court seeking a declaration that the said Local Government (Atwima District Assembly) (Establishment) Instrument, 2007 (L.I. 1853) which came into force on 29th February, 2008, was in contravention of article 11(7) of the Constitution to the extent that it amended Regulation 6 in respect of the district capital or the principal offices of the Atwima- Kwanwoma District Assembly from Twedie to Foase.
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion. Mr Speaker, I will focus on the Report itself and correct another inaccuracy if I may be permitted on page 3, paragraph 5.1, the sited cases have been stated as being unreported. Mr Speaker, they are reported cases and the Hansard has to make that correction and I would give the cases forth with. Mr Speaker, judicial review of subsidiary legislation is based --
Hon Member, assist us by providing the citation for the reported cases.
Yes, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, the first case is Stephen Nii Bortey Okane v. The Attorney-General is reported in the second volume of the Supreme Court of Ghana Law Reports, 2011 at page 1136. Mr Speaker, the second case is Nii Tetteh Opremreh v. The Attorney-General and Others, which includes the Electoral Commission (EC), is also reported in the second volume of the Supreme Court of Ghana Law Report, 2011 at page 1159. Mr Speaker, indeed, it is now an established law that the Supreme Court of Ghana, in its exercise of judicial review, has held that any subsidiary legislation made in excess of powers conferred by law or the 1992 Constitution is void. There are several lines of cases backing this assertion, including one filed by an Hon Member of this House; Clement Apaak v EC The Attorney-General, first volume of the Supreme Court of Ghana Law Reports, 2012 at page 651. Mr Speaker, I believe the most important one for us is that the Supreme Court says a subsidiary legislation could only be varied or amended through another Instrument laid in Parliament, which I believe is what is happening today per this Report; we plead the House accepts it. Mr Speaker, that principle is clearly stated in Amartey v. the Electoral Commission and The Attorney-General in the first volume of the Supreme Court of Ghana Law Reports, 2012, at page 737. Mr Speaker, so, this Instrument is on all fours in compliance with the edict of the Supreme Court, which is in line with several decisions that have established the real powers of the court viz a viz the power of Parliament, where passage of subsidiary legislation through the House is concerned.
Mr Speaker, I rise to associate myself with the Report of the Committee on Subsidiary Legislation on the Local Government (Atwima Kwanwoma District Assembly) (Establishment) Instrument, 2017 (L. I. 2253). Mr Speaker, I would like to make a presentation on paragraph 5.2 of your Committee's Report, and with your indulgence, I beg to quote: “The Committee also observed that the introduction of the Local Government (Atwima Kwanwoma District Assembly) (Establishment) Instrument, 2017 (L. I. 2253) is to correct an anomaly Parliament created and thus comply with the Supreme Court decision to expunge the Local Government (Atwima
Kwanwoma District Assembly) (Establishment) Instrument, 2007 (L. I. 1853) from the laws and site the District Capital at Atwima Kwanwoma at Twedie as stipulated in the Legislative Instrument laid on 16th November 2007.” Mr Speaker, one of the problems or challenges we have in this country is the siting of District capitals. Traditionally, there are towns and villages -- even though a town may be small as compared to another within that locality or vicinity, the smaller community may traditionally have more powers than the so-called bigger one. Mr Speaker, my worry is the statement that Parliament erred or caused an anomaly in the siting of -- So, it would be very important and prudent on the part of Parliament, with the powers vested in the Chair, to make sure that a Committee may be set-up to go to the ground when a new District is to be created, and gather information from the chiefs, elders and the people. This is so that in subsequent creations of local authorities, Parliament would not err. This is so that something that has been passed by this Honourable House, would be expunged or relegated to the background and then, a new one brought into force. Mr Speaker, so, I would like to suggest to the House that due diligence be done before siting the capitals for some of these our local authorities to avoid such embarrassments in the future. Mr Speaker, thank you for this privilege. Hajia Alima Mahama -- rose --
Hon Majority Leader? Hon Minister, you would conclude.
Mr Speaker, in rising to support the Report of the Committee on Subsidiary Legislation on the Local Government (Atwima Kwanwoma District Assembly) (Establishment) Instrument, 2017 (L.I. 2253), I think that it is important to set the records straight. I noticed that the Committee has reported that -- and that is captured in bullet 5.2; “The Committee also observed that the introduction of the Local Government (Atwima Kwanwoma District Assembly) (Establishment) Instrument, 2017 (L.I. 2253) is to correct an anomaly Parliament created and thus comply with the Supreme Court decision to expunge the Local Government (Atwima Kwanwoma District Assembly) (Establishment) Instrument, 2007 (L.I. 1853) from the laws and site the District Capital of Atwima Kwanwoma at Twedie as stipulated in the Legislative Instrument laid on 16th November, 2007.” Mr Speaker, in essence, I agree with the principle, except what they have stated here is a historical inexactitude. Parliament did nothing wrong. If I should trace what happened, what happened at the time was that the Instrument that came to Parliament was (L.I. 1853), as you have rightly quoted, and that bore the name of Twedie as the capital. Now, thereafter, the people of Kyerede rose up in unison and said that they had a chieftain of higher status than that of Twedie and so, the capital should go to Kyerede. Then ensued some arguments - - the people of Foase supported the people of Twedie in the discourse that ensued. As a matter of compromise, the then Hon Minister for Local Government and Rural Development, before the expiry of that Instrument, (L.I 1853), came to Parliament and brought another L.I. It was not Parliament that changed it but the Hon Minister came to Parliament with a new L. I. Mr Speaker, unfortunately, that L.I still bore the same number, L.I 1853 and Parliament allowed it to pass and then, the litigation started. At the instance of Nana Kwarteng Panin Akosa II, who then led the case that was filed at the Supreme Court, it was ruled in their favour because the Supreme Court then thought that because the L.I. bore the same number, they concluded that it was Parliament that had caused it. Indeed and in truth, if the Hon Minister had changed the Gazette number, this matter would not have arisen in the first place. So, that is the truth and it is not Parliament that changed it but the Hon Minister who came with a second L.I. unfortunately, bearing the same number which has led us to where we are. Mr Speaker, so, I agree that because of that fact that it bore the same number, it was then made to appear as if, we could not have two capitals or one saying that it should be Twedie and another saying that it should be Foase. So, I agree that we go back to do what is right, but I just want to reiterate the point that it was not Parliament that effected the change but the Hon Minister. The mistake, if any, came from the Hon Minister at the time and not Parliament. I agree that what is right is right. Now, the Hon Minister for Local Government and Rural Development has come with a new Gazette notification, that is, in respect of the original capital. The people of Foase in general have no disagreement with this except that we should recognise that some initial preparatory work has gone on in siting the capital at Foase. So, we should now begin to think about how to reconcile the people of Foase and Twedie. They are not enemies and cannot be enemies. They are contiguous settlements and so, we have to bring them together so that we have harmonious siting of the capital. Mr Speaker, the communities are just like Konongo and Odumase and maybe, the Hon Minister may consider siting the capital in between the two settlements or whatever and that would depend on the Hon Minister, the traditional authorities and the major stakeholders in the two communities. I believe that the proper thing would be done, so that we have peace between the people of Twedie and Foase who are not up in arms. Mr Speaker, I do know that a few people at Twedie are against some of the people at Foase who led the efforts -- and once Foase was mentioned that they were seated quietly somewhere and then somebody bestowed this on them and so, they would harvest from that. That is the only problem.
Hon Minister for Local Government and Rural Development, you may now conclude.
Mr Speaker, I rise to support the Motion on the floor and to commend the Committee on Subsidiary Legislation for a quick response and their job. Mr Speaker, my key concern is to purge myself of the contempt that the Hon Minister for Local Government and Rural Development was cited for and we have come to this -- I had to go to the Supreme Court to plead with them that the necessary actions would be taken to correct whatever mistakes that the Hon Minister or Parliament had done. So, this matter was brought and laid in Parliament on 9th June and I believe it is the 20th day and tomorrow would be exactly 21 days. So, I pray that the House would adopt the Report of the Committee and that the necessary steps would now be taken for the new capital which was the initially mentioned capital to be sited as the new capital of the district. Mr Speaker, thank you. I therefore, pray that the House adopts the Committee's Report. Question put and Motion agreed to.
Mr Speaker, you have put the Question, but I do not know how the issue that I raised would affect the Report of the Committee that we have adopted. This is because as I said, it does not represent what transpired in this House, that is, the Committee said that it is to correct an anomaly created by Parliament. Mr Speaker, that anomaly was not created by Parliament and so, I believe that maybe, that part of the Report should be appropriately amended to capture what indeed happened in this House. Certainly, the fault was not --
Hon Majority Leader, I believe that your earlier statements have corrected these errors and nobody has challenged them. So, the record would reflect that that charge of Parliament was not borne out by the record as had happened in the previous Parliament. So, I think that should be sufficient.
Mr Speaker, very well. If it is so construed. Mr Speaker, I believe that we have exhausted what we have set out to do in the day. Mr Speaker, I beg to move that we adjourn until tomorrow at 12.00 noon.
Mr Speaker, I rise to second the Motion. Question put and Motion agreed to.