VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS AND THE OFFICIAL REPORT
Hon Members, Correction of Votes and Proceedings and the Official Report.
[No correction was made to the Votes and Proceedings of Wednesday, 19th July, 2017.]
Hon Members, Official Report of Thursday, 13th July, 2017. Any corrections?
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, under column 2137 of the Official Report, the last but one paragraph, the statement there should be: It is a serious statement, his comments are downright offensive; they are out rightly “benighted”, and not “blighted”.
Thank you very much, Hon Member. Hon Members, any further corrections? Hon Members, in the absence of any further corrections, the Official Report of 1 3 th July, 2017 as corrected, is hereby adopted as the true record of proceedings. Hon Members, again, we have the Official Report of Tuesday, 18th July, 2017. Any corrections in this regard? Yes, Hon Member?
Mr Speaker, I would like to refer you to column 2233 of the Official Report of Tuesday, 18th July, 2017 -- paragraph 7.
“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 ‘deluge.'” Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Thank you very much. Hon Members, any further corrections? Hon Members, in the absence of any further corrections, the Official Report of 18th July, 2017 as corrected is hereby adopted as the true record of proceedings. Hon Members, we would move on to item numbered 3 on today's Order Paper -- Urgent Question, addressed to the Hon Minister for Transport. Hon Minister, you may take the appropriate chair. Hon Members, we would take the Urgent Question that stands in the name of the Hon Member for Nsawam- Adoagyiri.
MINISTRY OF TRANSPORT
Yes, Hon Minister?
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I refer to Parliamentary Service Letter No. OP/T/UQ/0040 dated 13th July, 2017, for me to respond to the Question “why the implementation of the Road Traffic Regulation, 2012 (L.I. 2180) has been put on hold?” Mr Speaker, I wish to inform the House that the L.I. in question, which was passed by this House, is not on hold. Rather, it is the implementation of section 102 of the Road Traffic Regulation L.I. 2180 which deals with the towing of disabled and abandoned vehicles which should have commenced on 1st July, 2017, that has been postponed pending further consultation with stakeholders. Mr Speaker, it is important to note that the implementation of this particular section ought to have commenced five years after the approval of the parent Instrument. Mr Speaker, upon assumption of office in February, 2017, my attention was drawn to an agreement between Government, acting through the National Road Safety Commission (NRSC), and the Road Safety Management Services Limited (RSMSL). The contract was signed on 16th October, 2016, for towing of disabled and abandoned vehicles. Mr Speaker, there was a road map leading to the implementation of this Act, and when it got to the issue of communication, we realised that it appeared the education did not go down well with the public, hence the various concerns raised by the public as to the implementation of the service. Mr Speaker, in order to address the concerns of the public, I directed the NRSC to postpone its implementation to allow for proper consultation with the general public. As part of the consultation process, we are engaging various stakeholders including the Parliamentary Select Committee on Transport whom we met on 19th June, 2017. We are also meeting various stakeholders including transport owners, transport operators, the Media and civil society. I am, therefore, awaiting the Parliamentary Select Committee's Report to help me address the problem. It is, therefore, my intention to thoroughly examine the views of stakeholders to enable me make an informed decision on the matter. Thank you very much, Mr Speaker.
Thank you, Hon Minister. Yes, Hon Member?
Mr Speaker, just one follow up. Mr Speaker, as part of the Hon Minister's Answer to the Question, he found it important that there should be further consultation and also that, education seemingly did not go down well. Would the Hon Minister start an aggressive consultation as soon as possible and when would that start?
Mr Speaker, the consultation is ongoing and like I said, I am aware that the Parliamentary Select Committee met a section of the Media and transport owners. We are almost at the tail end of the consultation and I await the Report of the Parliamentary Select Committee.
Hon Minister, thank you very much for attending to the House. The next Question is for the Hon Minister for Education. It stands in the name of the Hon Member for Akatsi North. Hon Minister for Education?
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister travelled out and was expected back on Tuesday night. Unfortunately, it was not possible and we thought that he would be able to make it last night. Again, he could not make it. So, he is not in the jurisdiction. And given what indications that are given to the Hon Deputy Ministers, I thought they were also waiting for him to come and answer the Question which explains why we are not able to do it. Mr Speaker, I have an indication given me that, it is likely he would be in this evening. If he does come, then, we would programme him to come tomorrow and answer the Question.
Mr Speaker, one can attempt to understand the Hon Majority Leader, but the Ministry of Education is one of the Ministries that has benefited from the large size Government, including a Minister of State responsible for Tertiary Education. Therefore, the absence of the Hon Minister for Education should not inhibit our quest to get the Hon Minister responsible for Tertiary Education to appear before this House. Why could you not get Prof. Kwesi Yankah (Minister of State in charge of Tertiary Education) to answer the Question and we have to wait because the Hon Minister is away? Mr Speaker, we do not find this excuse acceptable.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minority Leader clearly has not adverted his mind to the other Questions. There are Questions relating to community day secondary schools which are outside the remit of the Hon Minister of State responsible for Tertiary Education. Community day secondary schools are not tertiary institutions. So, Mr Speaker, as I said, there are some other Questions that are outside that remit which explains why the Hon Minister decided to put everything together and come and answer them. So, Mr Speaker, respectfully, I would entreat Hon Colleagues to hold their horses. As I said, if the Hon Minister comes this evening, even though they are not part of the provisional Order Paper, if he does come, he would be required to answer to them tomorrow.
Question numbered 10 to the Hon Minister for Finance by the Hon Member for Juaboso.
Mr Speaker, the House may recollect that the other time, it was our own Hon Colleague, an Hon Deputy Minister, Hon Kwaku Kwarteng, who was supposed to answer the Question. Unfortunately, he had an eye problem; he was affected by what is commonly called “apollo”. Today, he is with us and subject to the indulgence of Mr Speaker and that of my Hon Colleagues in the House, the Hon Deputy Minister may be required to answer the Question.
Mr Speaker, I see the Hon Deputy Minister behind the Hon Majority Leader except that I know that, he is responsible for exemptions and internally generated funds. Whether he has a mandate to know Ghana @ 60 -- If he has, Mr Speaker, we have no objection.
Mr Speaker, I am sure the Hon Deputy Minister has the competence to answer that Question.
ORAL ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS
MINISTRY OF FINANCE
Mr Speaker, may I know from the Hon Deputy Minister if there was any support or donation apart from the Government's sources?
Mr Speaker, may I please request him to repeat the question?
Mr Speaker, I said I would want to know from the Hon Deputy Minister whether there was any support or donation apart from the Government's sources of funding. This is because, in his Answer, he indicated what government contributed to the celebra- tion. But I would want to know, outside Government sources, what support or donation came in? Thank you.
Hon Deputy Minister?
Mr Speaker, I have indicated what is within the knowledge of the Ministry of Finance. The Ghana @ 60 Secretariat, we all have heard, raised some funds outside what they got from the budget. Mr Speaker, it is the Office of the Chief of Staff or the Ghana @ 60 Secretariat that would be in the best position to indicate how much -- [Interruptions] -- Was raised from sources other than the budget. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, I thought this Question was ably admitted and the appropriate person has been chosen to appear before this House to respond to the Question. I am a bit surprised why the Hon Deputy Minister said that he has not got the competence to respond to the Question. Mr Speaker, my second question; I would want to know whether all contractors connected with the celebra- tion have been paid.
Mr Speaker, I do not have that information here. [Interruptions.] Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, I am at a loss; I do not know which question he would be able to answer. [Laughter.]
Mr Speaker, would the Hon Deputy Minister consider making available a copy of the detailed expenditure till date to the House?
Hon Member, please, repeat your question.
Mr Speaker, I want to know if the Hon Deputy Minister would make available a copy of the detailed expenditure so far on the celebration to the House.
Hon Member, if you want a copy of that, you know what to do. It is not apparent on the face of your Question. You would give the Hon Deputy Minister notice as usual, making a clear demand and then it will be done. Any further questions? Yes, Hon Member?
Mr Speaker, I would want to ask a follow up question -- [Interruptions.]
Mr Speaker, I would want to find out from the Hon Deputy Minister if it is possible for him to provide to this House the breakdown -- [Interruptions]-- Mr Speaker, the Hon Deputy Minister in answering the Question said GH¢ 2.16 million was distributed to the 216 District Assemblies. I would want to find out if he can make that breakdown available, so that I will find out from my District Assembly in Jirapa how that money was utilised. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Hon Member, if you want such details, you know how to ask a specific Question in that regard. Hon Ministers do not come here carrying all their volumes with them. Any further questions? Yes, Hon Member?
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity. Mr Speaker, I would want to find out from the Hon Deputy Minister how much the committee that was put in place to celebrate Ghana @ 60 received from the private sector as it was advertised that they received donations. Thank you.
Mr Speaker, that is not under our remit, but we would endeavour to provide that information to the House.
Hon Member, you may sit down. Hon Members, let us ask the right questions and get the right answers. Yes, Hon Member?
Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity. Mr Speaker, I would want to ask the Hon Deputy Minister, on 10th of March, 2017 specifically, Citi FM, I am sure everybody heard it; CITI FM reported that Ghana Chamber of Mines donated GH¢2million towards this celebration. The recipient on behalf of Ghana @ 60 was the Chief of Staff herself. Are you saying that you do not have any record of these donations outside what government has provided?
Hon Member — Order! Order!! Hon Members, it is not a matter of you claiming that you do not have information on this or that. It is a matter of asking a specific Question advertised for which matter, there is a prepared Answer. So, if you want that, please, have an appropriate Question advertised in your name, then we would move it. Yes, Hon Member?
Thank you, Mr Speaker -- [Interruptions.]
Hon Inusah Fuseini? Order!
Mr Speaker, the question to the Hon Deputy Minister for Finance is, did the Chief of Staff inform the Ministry of Finance of moneys received from the private sector for the celebration of Ghana @ 60?
Hon Deputy Minister?
Mr Speaker, the celebration is ongoing -- [Interruptions.] -- But the Chief of Staff has not communicated in detail to the Ministry the donations and the detailed expendi-tures.
Mr Speaker, in his response, the Hon Deputy Minister stated that an amount of GH¢2.16 million was transferred to the District Assemblies. I would want to know if that amount would be deducted from the respective Assemblies shares of the Common Fund for any particular quarter. Thank you very much.
Mr Speaker, I would need to confirm this and communicate it to the House. [Uproar.]
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister in his Answer to the Question, said that the celebration was ongoing. Could he be kind to tell this House which other programmes are outstanding, so that we could participate as Hon Members?
Mr Speaker, I know that the celebration is ongoing. But the exact details of the outstanding programmes, the Office of the Chief of Staff and Ghana @ 50 Secretariat would be in a better position to provide that to this House.
Mr Speaker, does the Ministry of Finance intend to commit more funds to the ongoing celebration and if they do, how much?
Mr Speaker, the amount allocated in the Budget Statement has already been allocated to the intended office. Should that office make further requests, the Ministry would have to consider it.
Mr Speaker, I would like to find out from the Hon Deputy Minister, that, apart from the money released from the Government of Ghana (GoG), is he aware that funding came from other sources to support the celebration?
Mr Speaker, it has been mentioned to me that moneys were raised outside what was allocated from the Budget Statement, but I do not have the details.
Mr Speaker, on the 9th of February, 2017, the Ghana News Agency (GNA) reported the launch of the Ghana @ 60 logo by H. E., President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo. In that Report, the President is quoted to have said that: “the Ghana @ 60 Anniversary celebration is estimated to cost GH¢20 million and this would be borne by the corporate sector and not the State.” I would like to find out from the Hon Deputy Minister if the President was aware that GH¢5.26 million has been spent by the State, when he told the people of Ghana that this GH¢20 million estimated would come from the private sector? Is the President aware that GH¢5.26 million has been spent by the State? The donations that have come in, could he tell this House which account is hosting these funds that have come from the private sector so far?
Mr Speaker, in respect of the first part of his question, whether the President is aware that this has been allocated in the Budget Statement, this was contained in the 2017 Budget Statement. Therefore, the President would be aware of the contents of the Budget Statement. In respect of the second question, as I have indicated, I do not have the details.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister in his Answer to the Question said that the President is presumed to know that the Budget Statement made provision for the State to fund the celebration. Yet the President went ahead to tell Ghanaians that the celebration would not be funded from public coffers. Is he saying that the President deliberately lied to the nation?
Hon Member, you are out of order. [Laughter.]
Mr Speaker, I am able to do so.
Mr Speaker, from the Hon Minister's Answer, GH¢3.1 million was released from GoG sources and GH¢2.16 million from the District Assemblies Common Fund (DACF). What is the financial arrangement between the Ministry of Finance which is in charge of the GoG purse and the DACF for the GH¢2.16 million released by the DACF? In other words, was the amount released by the DACF a loan which would be refunded by the Ministry of Finance from the GoG to the DACF or a contribution of the DACF to the anniversary?
Mr Speaker, as I indicated earlier, I would at a later date provide to this House how the transfer to the District Assemblies would be treated.
Mr Speaker, my question was simple. I wanted to know the financial arrangement between the Ministry of Finance and the DACF before the transfers were made to the Assemblies. Did they say that they would release these moneys to the Assemblies, so, they would refund to them later, or the DACF should release that money as their contribution towards the anniversary? Mr Speaker, I would want to know the arrangement before DACF released the money to the Assemblies.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Deputy Minority Leader wants to know whether the amount released to the DACF was part of what regularly, through the Budget Statement, was allocated to them in accordance with the rules that govern releases from the DACF. Mr Speaker, I would want to know if the Hon Deputy Minority Leader wants to know whether the release was in accordance with that or whether the money released to them would be treated as some addition or through some loan arrangement as it has been indicated. Mr Speaker, what I said was that, I would provide that information to this House.
Hon Deputy Minority Leader, your last intervention.
Mr Speaker, the question I asked was about a budgetary allocation which was provisioned by the Ministry of Finance for Ghana's 60th Independence celebration -- The Hon Deputy Minister knows the amount that was allocated in the Budget Statement. They released GH¢3.1 million from that allocation which was made in the Budget Statement and then the DACF also made an allocation of GH¢2.16 million. Mr Speaker, my simple question is, is the one that the Assembly made, a loan to the Ministry which would be refunded to the DACF or it is an addition to what has been allocated in the Budget Statement? This is simple. There must be an arrangement between the two of them before the money is released.
Mr Speaker, the arrangement is that this money would be transferred to them for the purposes of Ghana's 60th Independence celebration. Mr Speaker, the specific knowledge the Hon Deputy Minority Leader seeks to have is how that release would be treated and the answer I provided was that, that information would be provided to this House.
Majority Leadership, do you have any question? Hon Members, Order!
Mr Speaker, questions have been asked of the Hon Deputy Minister with respect to the calendar of Ghana's 60th Independence celebration because he has told us that activities are ongoing, and indeed, the celebration is ongoing.
Mr Speaker, I am aware. [Laughter.]
Hon Deputy Minister, would you be kind enough to give an indication of the source for the benefit of Hon Members? Hon Members, Order! Hon Members, I thought you would need assistance and so, why would you not listen?
Mr Speaker, I found this in our local newspapers, but I cannot remember specifically which one -- [Interruption.] Mr Speaker, I do not want to say what I cannot remember now; I remember very vividly which is why I am aware that it was published in our local newspapers -- [Interruption] -- I can only provide that information later. [Laughter.]
Mr Speaker, an Hon Colleague also led evidence that some contributions had been made by some private individuals and companies and he sourced it from Citi Fm, which is an official publication. Mr Speaker, I would want to know if the Hon Deputy Minister is aware that some of these donations have been well documented in such official publications as Citi FM, Ghana News Agency (GNA) -- [Laughter] -- and if he is aware that they constitute official publications and for that matter he is not required to answer those questions. [Interruption.]
Mr Speaker, I am aware. [Laughter.]
Hon Deputy Minister, thank you very much for attending upon the House to Answer our Questions. Hon Members, Order! Hon Members, item numbered 4 -- Statements. We have two Statements on the welfare of the aged in our country in the names of Hon Mrs (Nana) Akua Owusu Afriyie and Hon Queenstar Pokua Sawyerr. Hon Mrs (Nana) Akua Owusu Afriyie, if you may start.
Mr Speaker, one group of people in society we hardly think of is the old or the aged. Society thinks that above a certain age in life, mainly after 60 years, one would have given all he or she could in life. So, they become less important in our day-to-day planning and thinking. Maybe, what we think and plan for them are their funerals! Our focus is mainly on the youth to the neglect of the aged. The case of the aged is worsened by civilisation, modernity and technological advancement which render the working class jobless and unemployed. So, it becomes secondary thinking of the aged. Mr Speaker, the Ghanaian society is one that is popularly known to revere its aged
Thank you, Hon Member, for this Statement so ably made. The next Statement stands in the name of the Hon Member for Agona East. The plight of the aged in Ghana
Mr Speaker, in Ghana, we define the aged as those above the pensionable age of sixty-five (65) years. They are a fountain of knowledge with good insights, experience and good sense of judgement. They are regarded as a repository of wisdom. Indeed, Mr Speaker, they are the custodians of our cultural values and the heritage of the nation and must be celebrated as such. Ghana has approximately 1.6 million people in this category. Mr Speaker, given the above attributes, one would have expected that our elderly would be spending the rest of their days in comfort and contentment, secured in the knowledge that they have given their best to the nation and that the nation is also looking after them in their old age.
9 the Bible says, and I beg to quote with your kind permission: “Do not cast me off in the time of old age. Do not forsake me when my strength fails” Again, the book of Proverbs 23:22 says, “Listen to your father, who begot you. And do not despise your mother when she is old.” It is, however, unfortunate that the majority of our aged live in very challenging circumstances. Their lives have become characterised by dependency, sickness, poverty and lack of care. Indeed, some become beggars, and if they are unfortunate enough to be afflicted by diseases like dementia or Alzheimer's, they are abandoned by their families. Mr Speaker, this state of neglect of our elderly usually only comes to our attention when a once great academic, sportsman, politician or entertainer who has contributed greatly to the develop- ment of our country becomes extremely vulnerable and threatened as a result of ill health or poverty. The media reports on the person's reduced circumstances. There is a general outrage that such a person be allowed to sink so low. We rush to make contributions to try and solve the immediate crisis. Once this is done, we go back to our comfort zones. We face a persistent challenge with the welfare and upkeep of our aged. We need to understand the challenges and take measures to provide permanent solutions to them. Whereas the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) Scheme has been operational for many years, challenges such as low incomes, noncontribution of many small companies and the informal sector as well as cumbersome processes have made the scheme less than effective. Even when the pension is available, the general rapid rise in the cost of living in the country affects the elderly more as they are on fixed incomes and it mostly affects the items that they depend on, mainly basic food items, transport and drugs. Mr Speaker, Ghana is now a lower middle-income country. The nature of development is creating changes within our social systems. Today, both men and women must work to ensure a reasonable standard of living. As the society retreats into the nuclear family model, the extended family breaks down and caring for the elderly becomes problematic. The traditional extended family support is fast disappearing. Some families also invest all their money in sending their children to schools abroad. A number of these children do not return to Ghana and even though they may send money on occasions, the parents have to rely on outsiders to provide care, thus increasing the sense of isolation.
Mr First Deputy Speaker to take the Chair.
MR FIRST DEPUTY SPEAKER
Hon Member, continue.
Mr Speaker, in other countries that have similar challenges, they have been able to develop support mechanisms such as properly functioning old people's homes to take up the responsibilities where the family support ends. Some measures have already been taken by Government to alleviate the difficulties being faced by the aged in our society. In 2010, Cabinet under Prof. John Evans Atta Mills approved the National Ageing Policy. Later, a national council on ageing was established to coordinate its implementation. Under President John Dramani Mahama, an Ageing Bill was put before Parliament. The Bill seeks to provide a legal framework and identify institutions to regulate and ensure the protection of the rights of the aged. A desk for the aged has been established at the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection. Mr Speaker, the New Pensions Act of 2008 created the possibility for voluntary contributions to be made to the pension scheme and also made it possible for people employed in the informal sectors to save towards their retirement. People are now better able to determine their standards of living when they retire. To better provide services for them, the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection under former President John Dramani Mahama created a database for the aged. To ensure adequate access to health- care services, the Ministry registered 25,000 elderly persons free of charge on
Hon Members, I would admit two contributions; one from each side of the aisle and then I would come to the Leaders of the House. Hon Dr Okoe Boye?
Mr Speaker, I am very grateful for the opportunity. Mr Speaker, according to a research sponsored by the Trades Union Congress (TUC), as at 1960, about 325,178 individuals in this country were above the age of 60. This figure, by the year 2012, had ballooned to 1.53 million of the population as at the year 2012 representing 370 per cent increase from the year 1960. Out of these 1.53 million individuals who are classified as old people or the elderly, only 229,000 benefit from cash grants from organisations such as SSNIT, CAP 30 Pension Scheme and the LEAP programme. Mr Speaker, actually, getting old is supposed to be a blessing, but in the absence of systems and mechanisms that would cushion an individual, it might end up being more or less a curse. Mr Speaker, as we say in medical terms, ageing is a risk for a lot of conditions. Once one clocks 40 years, the person is at risk of developing high blood pressure, diabetes -- In fact, when one clocks 60 years, the person's immune system usually goes down as compared to the average person and this elderly person is at risk of tuberculosis and a lot of conditions. Mr Speaker, women are at risk of menopausal syndrome, which is a very disturbing and irritating condition, where they complain of nonspecific symptoms that unfortunately live with them for the rest of their lives. Mr Speaker, the men face peculiar prostrate problems; either the prostate gets enlarged, or some even get cancer of the prostate. Once they cross 60 years, all these are risks they face. Mr Speaker, the risk is not restricted to physical illness; there are also mental and psychological issues. As one grows older, one loses friends along the way, and loneliness sets in. That alone is a very significant problem. Mr Speaker, so, the question is, what are some of the systems put in place in our setting or country to cushion the old? The LEAP is a wonderful programme. Unfortunately, the number of old people in this country far overwhelm the resources of the LEAP. Medically, I believe strongly that we have been discriminatory when we come to geriatrics, which is the branch of medicine that focuses on taking care of old people. It focuses on preventing medical conditions that are associated with the elderly as well as manging them. Mr Speaker, you would be surprised to hear that the practice of geriatrics in this country is almost non-existent or very minimal. When we go to any big hospital like the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital and ask for a specialist who takes care of old people, we might find it very difficult to get one. So, as a country, we must start to look at mechanisms or health systems that would take care of our old people. One very important policy that we must look at, which I have mentioned in this House before, is a wellness centre. At least, we could have one in every district or region, where we do not have people who are sick, vomiting and all that. But one walks in looking healthy, and goes in for screening or to check up on one's health status. In this country, if we want to just check our blood pressures, when one goes to the La General Hospital, for example, one may get to the Out Patients Department (OPD) and see an accident case with somebody bleeding, or someone giving birth on the floor. One would just be put off and just go away. We do not have any place where we could walk in, not see blood and just get our systems checked. So, this is a very important thing we would have to look at if it comes to taking care of the old. Mr Speaker, I do not have a lot of resources when it comes to discussing the finances of taking care of the old, which is pension schemes; but I would just briefly mention that one of the systems that makes old age a blessing and not a curse is a healthy and strong pension scheme. In this country, all of us are aware of the challenges of the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) and their survivability. It is my prayer that SNNIT takes good care of the old.
Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity. Mr Speaker, I commend the two Hon Ladies for the brilliant presentation. Mr Speaker, however, as you are aware, such Statements are supposed to influence policy. At least, we should have copies of the Statements; if not full copies, on the Order Paper, we could always have the title of the Statement, so that we could do research to influence policy. I believe that the purpose of every Statement is to help government craft policies that would move our country forward. These are brilliant Statements, which we need to comment on fruitfully, so that our people and country would benefit from them. Mr Speaker, I would add a little to the aged and their situation in terms of healthcare provision. We are told that he who does not honour the aged does not deserve age. I would want to look at our hospital setting, which is critical when we want to do anything for the aged. Mr Speaker, in the hospital setting, we do not have specialised wards for the aged. We talk about geriatric wards, but we mix them with children and call it male wards. Mr Speaker, as ably said by my Hon Colleague, Hon Oko Boye, the aged come with some chronic illnesses, which would at times affect their ability to mix with others. When they are put in a situation where they are with their children and grandchildren, it could aggravate their condition. Mr Speaker, we also know that ageing comes with a reduction in income, which affects one's ability to pay for medical expenses. I make this point because the ability to access healthcare is a serious problem faced by the aged. I believe that for policy purposes, we should come up with systems that make it possible for the aged to have access to healthcare. Mr Speaker, because of the reduction in brainpower when some people age, they hallucinate; but people say they are mad, witches, and all sorts of words are used to describe them. This ends up in a situation where they are demonised and possibly subjected to further situations that deteriorate their health. Mr Speaker, I believe that these two Statements are very critical, and we as a House should influence policies that bring about some relief in the access to healthcare by the elderly. Mr Speaker, with these few words, I thank you for your indulgence.
Hon Leader, I would advise that the Hon Leaders would have one each, and then -- It is because of the Board meeting you have.
Mr Speaker, so, if you could recognise one more Hon Member here, then another from the other side, and then Leadership, if there is the opportunity. It could sum up to allow us to be on time for the Board meeting and to read. That would be appreciated. Mr Speaker, because there are two Statements on the same subject, which is an important national matter, there seems to be some enthusiasm by Hon Members to contribute. So, we would leave the discretion in your good hands. Thank you.
Hon Majority Leader, what is your comment on the suggestion?
Mr Speaker, he made an application to you to have one more from his side of the House. We may allow the medical officer.
Very well; Hon Member?
Mr Speaker, I rise to associate myself with the Hon Members who made the Statements. I wish to state that Hon Pokua Sawyerr 's Statement is well researched. I would want to thank her very much for that. Mr Speaker, I would want to associate myself with the part that says that the extended family system, which is practised in Ghana and Africa as a whole, is indeed superior to that of the Europeans. Unfortunately, over a period of time, it appears that we are shifting from the extended family system where the children, nephews, nieces used to take care of the elderly. Indeed, we need to go back to it, but before we can do that, I would also advise parents to take very good care of their children in terms of education and everything. Mr Speaker, this is because, that is our future; that is the way the African culture is and we do not need to sacrifice that aspect for any other thing.
Hon Member, may I jolt your opinion? Is it not the case that the more enlightened one's children become, the lonelier the aged become? [Laughter.]
Mr Speaker, there could also be a very good arrangement and it is not only one's children that one has got to take care of. When I talk of one's family, I am talking of the extended family. Yes, at one stage one might be taking care of their children, but it goes beyond that; instead, they should also take care of one's nieces and nephews and it goes on until one starts taking care of sometimes, one's grandchildren. So, one needs to take care of a lot of people. Indeed, if one is fortunate to be well- to-do, please, they should not stop with taking care of only their children, but other children as well. The second aspect that I wish to mention is that, the aging process is different from everybody. It could be one's eyes -- cataract or something which could cause blindness. It could be one's knees; and in medicine, we call it arthritis, that is difficulty in walking and the person might need a walking stick. It could also be one's stomach, that is the cancers and so on. Yes, they could cause stomach trouble. It could be one's chest -- pneumonia, heart disease and so on. Mr Speaker, the problem we have in this country is that, when it involves
Mr Speaker, I am grateful. Mr Speaker, it goes without saying for the past decade that we need to be proud as a country that the thrust of our social policies have been with a social net with the view of ensuring that some of our aged and the so-called downtrodden in the society are looked after. What is missing, though, in my view, is a certain national consciousness to approach the whole matter or business. Yes, we could talk about the LEAP; that policy is not to cater for the aged. So, in its true sense, the LEAP is not geared towards the welfare of the aged. Mr Speaker, by my checks, we have the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations which has a national policy for the aged. However, the challenge is that we have bits and pieces of Regulations that exist and are geared towards the welfare of the aged. What we probably have to do as a country, in my humble view, is to bring all these bits and pieces of Regulations together and then we could have a comprehensive policy for the aged. That is probably what would serve as a surety in blazing the trail and ensuring that we make some conscious efforts in seeking the welfare of the aged. Elsewhere in some developed jurisdictions, there are safety and mercy homes built especially for the aged and I do not know if we could do same, but we could surely borrow into that and probably appropriate it into the settings of a developing country. We may not have the wherewithal to do it as the developed jurisdictions are doing, but certain lessons could be borrowed from it. Mr Speaker, some society groups are already advocating for the aged. It is not enough and what we want to see now, is a consciousness from the Executive, directing -- which would affect all spheres of our lives. I think that if we are able to do that, we would be opening a new chapter and also make some giant strides in achieving some significant wherewithal. Mr Speaker, when we talk of the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) Scheme, fact be told that the challenges of the SSNIT Scheme is such that it does not really affect the informal sector of our economy. So, that is also a challenge. I would want to thank the Hon Members who made the Statements. I recall that in the Sixth Parliament, I started an advocacy for the aged and I am happy my Hon Colleagues have sustained the interest. Before I sit, an Hon Member had mentioned that there is a Bill or so for the aged and I do not seek to promote debate. But from my checks, there has not been any Bill for the aged unless the last Hon Member who spoke would want to give us evidence to that effect. Mr Speaker, so, we would want to nudge our Executive to take this matter up because statistically, per my checks, the people who are 60 years and above are just about 5.3 per cent of our entire population. It is not too significant a number that would make it too much of a challenge if we would want to deal and support the aged in our time. So, let us make some conscious effort to better their wherewithal and improve upon their conditions of life. Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity.
Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to make a contribution to the two joint Statements ably made by Hon Queenstar Pokua Sawyerr on the plight of the aged in Ghana and the other Statement made by Hon Akua Owusu Afriyie on enhancing the wellbeing and welfare of the aged in the country. Mr Speaker, in doing so, I would commend both Hon Members who made the Statements for bringing to the fore the plight of aged persons in Ghana. Mr
Mr Speaker, may I yield to Hon Dr Ayew Afriye.
Mr Speaker, I thank you very much for this opportunity. Mr Speaker, first of all, may I associate myself with the Statements and commend the Hon Members who made the Statements. This is a very sensitive issue. The perspective that I would take it from has to do with health. In a country where the social, traditional and family systems have broken down, and in a country where the premium of pensions are so low and the understanding that the burden of disease is so high among the aged, it suffices to say that the aged fall in the most vulnerable people in society. Mr Speaker, with regard to health, looking at the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), except for biopsies of cervical cancer and that of breast cancer, all other cancers which are more prevalent with the aged are not taken care of. There are lots of illnesses in the system that you and I, especially after sixty years are predisposed to. I am talking about hypertension, diabetes and their complications. Mr Speaker, they are so prevalent in the country. Therefore, it is so important that if there is a Bill, which my Hon Member stated earlier, Parliament would have to strengthen that legislation and for that matter, see to its passage. Mr Speaker, the objective of every aged reform is living longer and living better. The question that we ask ourselves is; are our aged living better and longer? The strides of economic development directly correlates to health status. Inasmuch as we seek economic development, it must reflect in the longevity or the life expectancy of the Ghanaian. What are we doing about it? Mr Speaker, there is this adage that says that a nation that is not able to honour its heroes is not worth dying for. The National Democratic Congress (NDC) Government might have started an initiative to draft it and we must commend them. We are talking about what we could do about it today. They are very important Statements generating national debate and for that matter, we would want to see a commission that falls under the President as an initiative for the aged, so that we could see transformation in their lives, especially in health, social predisposition and many more. Mr Speaker, I would not make my contribution to these Statements very short, but it is just for us here to know that today, we stand here very strong and very healthy, but the consequences of the burden of diseases, with regard to the aged, right from the eye to the ear and mental illnesses are no respecter of the economic status of anyone here. Mr Speaker, very often than not, we are born into a family with a lot of predisposition. Whether we like it or not, if there is a risk, we would face it and for that matter, if we do it today, we stand to benefit from it tomorrow. Mr Speaker, on this note, noting very well that the Hon Speaker would be very passionate to this, looking forward to your directive, again, I would want to commend the Hon Members who made these Statements.
Very well. This is one of the most sensitive topics afflicting the country. I understand the challenge we all have. Who would want to leave his parent and the old people if he has the time and strength to take care of them? This is where the failure of our own extended family system is bringing us to. There is also an irony; the more successful your children are, the more isolated and lonely you would become. Everybody would want his children to be successful, but often, when they are successful, they move away. Then one becomes lonely and isolated. Let us talk about old people's home. The one and only old people's home is in Bekwai; my constituency. Ever since I have known it, it has been inhabited by people perceived to be mentally ill. This is because real old people are not sent there. If you go there now, it is abandoned. It subsists entirely on charity. As to how we plan, if we could add more -- However, I would want to direct that these two Statements and the comments and contributions made by Hon Members be forwarded to the Hon Minister responsible for Social Welfare, so that they could consider it for making new policies and programmes to assist the aged. Hon Majority Leader, we are in your hands.
Mr Speaker, at the Commencement of Public Business, we would not be dealing with the list of Bills; the Northern Development Authority Bill, 2017, Middle Belt Development Authority Bill, 2017, and the Coastal Belt Development Authority Bill, 2017. [Interruption.] Mr Speaker, if I must repeat, I am saying that at the Commencement of Public Business, we would not be dealing with the Northern Development Authority Bill, 2017, Middle Belt Development Authority Bill, 2017, and the Coastal Belt Development Authority Bill, 2017. We would not be dealing with them. Mr Speaker, in view of what happened the day before yesterday and our offices were locked up until about 11.00 a.m., I am told the committees responsible for the earlier referrals are still working on them. I believe they would report to us tomorrow and we would take inspiration from the report that comes before us, then we would deal with these ones that are listed today. I am told that the Committee on Defence and Interior is not ready with these two listed reports for us to take the Motions on them. In that regard, I might want to move, and indeed, I move that we adjourn proceedings until 12.00 noon tomorrow.
Mr Speaker, I should be supporting the Motion for adjournment, except to draw the attention of the Hon Majority Leader to an important Government Business. If you look at yesterday's Order Paper, as regards the Bills; the Northern Development Authority Bill, 2017, Middle Belt Development Authority Bill, 2017, and the Coastal Belt Development Authority Bill, 2017, the named sponsor as of yesterday was the Ministry of Employ- ment and Labour Relations, and today, we have the Minister for Special Development Initiatives as the sponsor. Mr Speaker, we are mindful of that. We should know which Minister is responsible in shepherding these Bills and responsible to this House on the Bills. So, if we have the Minister for Employment
Yes, Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, with the Motion moved, I thought all that was required was for that Motion to be seconded, but as usual, the Hon Minority Leader is always very circuitous about his own conduct of business. [Laughter.] Mr Speaker, in all that he spoke to, he was anticipating what would be done tomorrow. When the Bill is gazetted, we would get to know the sponsoring authority. Mr Speaker, I saw it yesterday and I drew attention of the Table Office that indeed, the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations is not the sponsoring authority. I believe it was a mistake. I would like to believe that they were thinking of which referral sector to deal with it. So, as he said, that cannot be changed and since it has been done, certainly, we would see the sponsoring Ministry. So, Mr Speaker, we would go back to the Motion that was moved and the attempt to second it. Since he is not coming by the straight road, he would prefer to use the narrow path, but we would take it as the Motion having been seconded, and I guess you should put the Question.
The issue of being circuitous is a disease that afflicts the Leadership, so, I would accept them as such. I know that the Hon Majority Leader or the Hon Minority Leader, as he then was, was very circuitous when he had to respond to a Motion and now the Hon Minority Leader is following in the tradition. Question put and Motion agreed to.
The House was accordingly adjourned at 02.43 p.m. till Friday, 21st July, 2017, at 12.00 noon.