Hon Members, we are starting a bit late due to some administrative issues that had to be resolved before we sat, this being the first day. Hon Members, we have a number of communications from His Excellency the President:
VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS AND THE OFFICIAL REPORT
Hon Members, Cor- rection of Votes and Proceedings and the Official Report. Correction of Votes and Proceedings of Friday, 7th April, 2017. Page 1…9 --
Mr Speaker, on page 8, number 21, I was here on the 7th of April, 2017, but I have been marked absent. Thank you.
Page 10…16 --
Yes, Hon Member?
I am most grateful, Mr Speaker. On page 16, item numbered 9 -- Hon Deputy Minister-designate for “sports and sports”. Mr Speaker, it should be “Youth and Sports.”
Page 17…20 --
Mr Speaker, sorry for taking you back. On page 18, item numbered IV, Hon Barbara Oteng-Gyasi is the Deputy Minister for Lands and Natural Resources and not the Deputy Minister for Works and Housing. Thank you.
Thank you very much. Hon Members, the Votes and Pro- ceedings of Friday, 7th April, 2017 as corrected, be adopted as the true record of proceedings.
Hon Members, we have a number of Official Reports for correction.
[No correction was made to the Official Report of Tuesday, 21st March, 2017.]
We have the Official Report dated Wednesday, 22nd March, 2017 for correction.
Mr Speaker, I am most grateful. I would just want to draw your attention to the content -- Column 3380. The content list -- Report on the Annual Budget Estimates of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for Year Ending 31st December, 2017. Mr Speaker, when you go to column 3380, you would rather see the Annual Estimates for the Local Government Service and not the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. So, I would want the Hansard Department to take note of that. Mr Speaker, thank you very much.
Thank you very much. The Hansard Department would take note accordingly. In the absence of any further corrections, the Official Report of Wednesday, 22nd March, 2017 as corrected is hereby adopted as the true record of proceedings.
[No correction was made to the Official Report of Thursday, 23rd March, 2017.]
Hon Members, we have the Official Report of Friday, 24th March, 2017 for correction.
Mr Speaker, thank you. I make reference to column 3701, specifically. During the debate, the Hon
Hon Members, in the absence of any further correction, the Official Report of Friday, 24th March, 2017 as corrected, be hereby adopted as the true record of proceedings.
[No correction was made to the Official Report of Monday, 27th March, 2017.]
[No correction was made to the Official Report of Tuesday, 28th March, 2017.]
[No correction was made to the Official Report of Thursday, 30th March, 2017.]
Hon Members, item numbered 3 on the Order Paper -- Business Statement for the First Week. Hon Chairman of the Business Committee?
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Mr Speaker, the Committee met today, Tuesday, 30th May 2017 and arranged Business of the House for the First Week.
Arrangement of Business (a) Formal Communications by the Speaker Mr Speaker, you may read communi- cations to the House whenever they are available. (b) Question(s) Mr Speaker, the Business Committee, taking cognisance of the fact that the Second Meeting commences today with the very first meeting of the Business Committee held this morning, no Minister of State has been scheduled to respond to Questions this week. The Business Committee would, however, programme Questions to be responded to during the ensuing week. (c) Statements Mr Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 70 (2), Ministers of State may be permitted to make Statements of Government policy. Statements duly admitted by the Rt Hon Speaker may be made in the House by Hon Members in accordance with Order 72 of the Standing Orders. (d) Bills, Papers and Reports Mr Speaker, Bills may be presented to the House for First Reading and those of urgent nature may be taken through the various stages in one day, in accordance with Standing Order 119. Papers and Committee Reports may also be presented to the House. (e) Motions and Resolutions Mr Speaker, Motions may be debated and their consequential Resolutions, if any, taken during the week. Mr Speaker, the Business Committee welcomes all Hon Members back from the recess. It is expected that, this Meeting would be demanding of all Hon Members. It is therefore hoped that, Hon Members have returned invigorated for this exacting Meeting ahead of us. Mr Speaker, Leadership and the Business Committee have jointly agreed that, the Standing Orders Committee take urgent steps to bring the matter relating to review of the Standing Orders to a closure, to enable the House to adopt the reviewed rules of procedure which would necessarily lead to the reconstitution of the Committees of Parliament in anticipation of the Budget meeting. Mr Speaker, Leadership and the Business Committee have agreed to explore a hitherto unexploited route tomorrow, by the resort to a half-hour Motion. The Motion may be moved by the Hon Minority Leader. Mr Speaker, in view of the re-roofing that is going on in the Chamber, which is of one quadrant, it has become necessary for the Sitting of Parliament to be pushed to 12.00 noon. So, beginning tomorrow, the House would be Sitting at 12.00 noon instead of 10.00 a.m. The reason is to allow the workers to begin work in earnest at 6.00 a.m. every morning, break at 12.00 noon for their lunch and we Sit in between, during their lunch period given the fact that, work this week would be light, and allow them to continue after 2.00 p.m. So, it is intended for us to Sit between 12.00 noon and 2.00 p.m. and where necessary, perhaps, Sit after 6.00 p.m. Otherwise, it is programmed for us to meet between 12.00 noon and 2.00 p.m. this week. Conclusion Mr Speaker, in accordance with Standing Order 160 (2) and subject to Standing Order 53, the Committee submits to this Honourable House the order in which the Business of the House shall be taken during the week under conside- ration. Statements Presentation of Papers -- (a) Progress Report of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice
(CHRAJ) on the National Anti- Corruption Action Plan (NACAP) for January to September, 2015. (b) Annual Report of the Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC) on the Management of Petroleum Revenues for the year 2015. Presentation and First Reading of Bills-- Customs (Amendment) Bill, 2017. Motions Committee sittings. Statements Presentation of Papers -- (a) Report of the Committee to Investigate the Effects of Sand Winning in the Country. (b) Report of the Auditor-General on the Statement of Foreign Exchange Receipts and Pay- ments of the Bank of Ghana for the second half year ended 30th June 2016. (c) Report of the Auditor-General on the Management and Utilisation of District Assemblies' Common Fund (DACF) and Other Sta- tutory Funds for the year ended 31st December 2015. (d) Report of the Auditor-General on the Accounts of District Assem- blies for the Financial Year ended 31st December 2015. (e) Report of the Auditor-General on the Public Accounts of Ghana (Polytechnics) for the Period ended 31st December 2015. Motions Committee sittings. Statements Presentation of Papers -- (a) Report of the Auditor-General on the Public Accounts of Ghana (Ministries, Departments and other Agencies of the Central Government) for the year ended 31st December 2015. (b) Report of the Auditor-General on the Public Accounts of Ghana (Public Boards, Corporations and Other Statutory Institu- tions) for the year ended 31st December 2015. (c) Report of the Auditor-General on the Management of Petroleum Funds for the financial year ended 31st December 2015. (d) Report of the Auditor-General on the Public Accounts of Ghana (Pre-University Educational Institutions) for the financial Year ended 31st December 2015. Motions Committee sittings. Statements Presentation of Papers-- (a) Budget Performance Report in Respect of the Ministry of Transport for the Period January to December, 2016. (b) Budget Performance Report in Respect of the Ministry of the Interior for the Period January to December, 2016. Motions Adoption of the Report of the Committee to Investigate the Effects of Sand Winning in the Country. Committee sittings. Mr Speaker, it is intended for the Standing Orders Committee to bring work on the review of the Standing Orders to a closure in this Meetings. There used to be a technical committee that was constituted by the House to facilitate the review exercise. Unfortunately, out of the nine-member committee that was established by the House, about five of them are no longer with us, so, it has become necessary to reconstitute a Technical Committee to facilitate the work of the Standing Orders Committee. Mr Speaker, we used to have the Hon Ebo Barton-Odro, who was the then Hon First Deputy Speaker as the Chairman, the Hon Joe Ghartey, who was the then Hon Second Deputy Speaker; the Hon (Dr) Benjamin Kunbuor; Hon Osei Kyei- Mensah-Bonsu; Hon Papa Owusu- Ankomah; Hon Alban S. K. Bagbin; Hon Cletus Avoka; Hon Joseph Yieleh Chireh; and Hon Irene Naa Torshie Addo. These were on the nine-member committee. Five of them are off and one of them, the Hon Joe Ghartey, is no longer the Second Deputy Speaker. Mr Speaker, in the circumstance, it is deemed appropriate to recompose the Technical Committee by the infusion of new blood. So, by not mentioning these names in any order of ranking, we would have Hon Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, Hon Alban S. K. Bagbin, Hon Joseph Yieleh Chireh, Hon Haruna Iddrisu, Hon Joseph Osei-Owusu, Hon Ben Abdallah Banda, who is the chairman of the Legal and Constitutional Committee; Hon Sarah Adwoa Safo, Hon Kwasi Ameyaw Cheremeh, Hon Mohammed-Mubarak Muntaka, Hon Betty Nana Efua Krosbi Mensah; and Hon Alexander K. Afenyo- Markin. Mr Speaker, so, we have an eleven- member committee as obtained previously as it were, that the technical committee was chaired by the then Hon First Deputy Speaker, the Hon Joseph Osei-Owusu, who is now the First Deputy Speaker, would be the chairman of the Technical Committee. Mr Speaker, I thank you very much.
Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, since I am a member of the Business Committee, with your indulgence, if you would permit other Hon Members to comment, after which I can give some final comments. I believe that would be useful.
Very well. Hon Member, you may continue.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to comment on the Business Statement ably presented by the Hon Majority Leader who is also the Minister responsible for Parliamentary Affairs.
Mr Speaker --
Hon Members -- Order! Order! Hon Member, you have deviated -- [Laughter] -- If you want to tread the narrow path, you may continue.
Mr Speaker, I will come back-- [Laughter.]
Hon Member, have you finished? Very well.
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity. I also thank the Hon Majority Leader for presenting the Business Statement. Mr Speaker, in his presentation, he made us aware that, we do not yet have a Technical Committee because, some Hon Members are no longer with us. I am also happy that he said for safety reasons, Parliament would have to Sit at specific periods of time, so that the people can work on the roof.
Mr Speaker, I am most grateful. I beg to raise two issues; the first one is the information provided by the Hon Majority Leader that, we would have to be Sitting from 12.00 noon from tomorrow. Mr Speaker, with all due respect, I would like to find out if there were any special challenges that have occasioned this, because, we have just returned from a very long break, and one would have thought that the break, almost two months, would have been adequate, so that we would not go through all this inconvenience that the Hon Majority Leader has spoken of. I would like to find out exactly why we could not complete this project during the break. Mr Speaker, the second issue has to do with a new development that I would seek your direction on. I am quite new in the House, but I have followed proceedings and developments, and this new development is quite interesting -- 12. 25 p. m.
Hon Member, please, emanating from the Business Statement?
Mr Speaker, yes, following your ruling that matters which have to do with the House --
Please, if it directly emanates from the Business Statement, you may continue, otherwise, you may need to leave that for the moment and adopt the appropriate procedure later. For now, we are only discussing matters arising therefrom.
Mr Speaker, I would take your direction.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. I beg to draw your attention to item numbered 2 (e) on the Business Statement, that is, the Arrangement of Business, that Motions may be debated and their consequential Resolutions, if any, taken during the week. Mr Speaker, my comment on the issue of debate -- during our first Sitting, you had cause to draw the attention of the House to the need for us to debate issues. Mr Speaker, sometimes, when we get back home and we see the replay of what took place in plenary, we wonder whether some of our Hon Members were debating. Mr Speaker, I believe that while we begin this Meeting, it is important for us, just like the way you remind us all the time, to debate issues rather than go contrary to what the Standing Orders prescribe. Mr Speaker, I say this with respect to the two hours that is allotted to us, which is from 12.00 noon to 2.00 p.m. If we are supposed to go back to the way we had sometimes conducted ourselves on the floor of the House, then we might not achieve whatever we are supposed to achieve for this Meeting. Mr Speaker, I thank you for the attention.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, before we went on recess, the Formula for the statutory funds appeared several times on the Order Paper. In the Business Statement for this week, the Business Committee had not told us anything about the Formula. We know that these Funds are very necessary in order for the various Agencies to work. They are Agencies like the District Assemblies' Common Fund, the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund), and the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS). Mr Speaker, I thought that priority was going to be given to these Funds this week. I would therefore, want to know from the Hon Chairman of the Business Committee, when the Formula for these Funds would be laid before the House?
Hon Members, the last contribution. Yes, Hon Member?
Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Hon Member, you are out of order! Yes, Leadership? [Interruption] --
Mr Speaker, thank you very much. Mr Speaker, I use the word “under- standably” because it would have compromised his role as the Hon Majority Leader of the House. If at the President's pleasure, he was to be reshuffled and we still would want him as our Leader, there would be confusion between the Executive and this organ of Government. Mr Speaker, however, while I note the issues that have been raised, I know that the Hon Majority Leader has raised the matter of “Questions”, pursuant to Standing Order 60 (3).
“A Minister shall not take more than three weeks to respond to a question from the House.” Mr Speaker, even though we respect your mandate and authority on this matter, before the House went on recess, I would want to believe that knowing same, many Questions were filed, which received your diligent attention, and were appropriately referred to Hon Ministers to respond to them. Mr Speaker, it has been more than three weeks, so, we expect the Hon Leader of Government Business and Majority Leader to ensure that the Ministers are responsive to this House, and show respect to this House by coming within time. This is because some of the Questions are time bound and have essence with time in their response to them. Mr Speaker, the other one is to note that the Hon Majority Leader has properly conveyed to this House, the composition of a Technical Committee to work on the Standing Orders. Mr Speaker, we should support it to bring closure to the matter. I note your personal determination to reform this House, and for this Parliament to be more responsive, we could only do so if we have an improved Standing Orders, which guides your own vision and the vision of the House. We, therefore, expect that the revised Committee would begin work in earnest and bring this matter to a closure, so that the Committees would be looked at much more thoroughly. Mr Speaker, I would also want to remind the Hon Majority Leader that, some of the Ministers now sit in Committees, which engender conflicts by way of what they say. That itself, must necessitate some re- composing of the Committees, in order that those that have not been given Executive notice, can have their Legislative notice properly to play their part. Mr Speaker, I would also support the view which was guided by your Welcome Remarks to all Hon Members for coming back to this House, and again, on the ongoing renovation work, which compels us under Standing Order 40 (2) to ordinarily Sit at 10.00 o'clock in the forenoon. Mr Speaker, under the circumstance and given the exigencies of the ongoing work, which has to do with the refitting of the roof which was blown off by the wind, it would appear that we would have to support you, so that this House would convene at 12.00 in the afternoon and probably adjourn at your pleasure, subject to the availability of Business. We should by consensus support you, that we no longer can start Sitting at 10.00 a.m. in order that, we get the work going. Mr Speaker, we would also want to demonstrate to the country that at your guidance, we are prepared to Sit even up to 10.00 p. m. or 11.00 p. m., provided there is Business to be done. Mr Speaker, finally, in concluding, I would want to remind the Hon Majority Leader and the missed out Ministers that, when this House was about adjourning, they had some details on the outstanding Funds, which are now referred to as the capped Funds. Mr Speaker, whether it is a capped Common Fund, capped NHIS Fund or capped GETFund, the parent Acts of those legislations provide the time period for Parliament to scrutinise and give approval to them. So, it is not just a matter of pleasure of a Minister when they come to Parliament to report for Parliament's approval of the Common Fund. Mr Speaker, in respect of many of them, their respective legal frameworks provide that, it should be one month after the Budget, or three months after the Budget. We are long out of time, and it is important that the formulas are brought, so that we know that in their stress regime of capped resources, we know how the dedicated funds would be used. Mr Speaker, I so submit, thank you.
Thank you very much, Hon Minority Leader. Yes, Hon Majority Leader, you may want to say something.
Mr Speaker, I will endeavour to respond to the Questions sequentially and chronolo- gically. Mr Speaker, first, there was a tangential comment about Cabinet Ministerial Appointments and so on. Mr Speaker, I may with respect, draw attention to the Hon Member who attempted to ask the question since he aborted it midway to Standing Order 62 (1) and 63. Mr Speaker, he will find answers there. Mr Speaker, an Hon Colleague also asked whether the contractors working on the re-roofing were procured via sole sourcing. Mr Speaker, the Parliamentary Service Board is responsible for this
arrangement; it is not the Hon Chairman of the Business Committee or the Business Committee. Mr Speaker, an Hon Member says it is directed at the Hon Minister for Parliamentary Affairs. The Business I engaged in today, is not the Business of the Hon Minister for Parliamentary Affairs. [Laughter.] What function I discharged is in respect of the Business Committee. So, if he would want to ask the Question, Mr Speaker, let him appear properly and the Question would be addressed. Let me assure the Hon Member that it is nothing like that, except to say that if the Question is submitted properly, it would be addressed properly. Mr Speaker, the issue of security of Hon Members as we said, is with the House Committee and it is not as if anybody is sleeping on it. We would deal with it appropriately. Mr Speaker, Hon Okudzeto Ablakwa asked what special reason accounts for the delay of the works of the retrofitting of the roof. Mr Speaker, the Board had to sit and deal with the matter, engage with Parliament's in-house consultant and then take the matter up from there. That indeed is what has occasioned this long delay. An issue was raised that there must be a debate in the House. That is what we all look forward to. Another question relates to Statutory Funds -- when the House is going to see the formulae and when we are going to approve of the formulae that may come from the various Statutory Funds. Mr Speaker, they are about ready and I should think, latest by next week, we would deal with them because we all require these Funds to function as individual Members of Parliament. Mr Speaker, Dr Dakura also asked a question about the policy underpinning the composition of the Cabinet. That also, Mr Speaker, was tangential to the issue that the Business Committee discussed. Mr Speaker, the Hon Minority Leader reiterated the point about Standing Order 63 and that is that, Ministers shall not take more than three weeks to respond to Questions. I agree with him. Mr Speaker, over the years, some of us have pressed because we acknowledge the fact that some Questions are asked and it takes more than a year for them to be processed and for the Hon Ministers to appear before us by which time the Questions have gone stale and they would not have any relevance. It cannot enhance the oversight functions of Parliament and it is intended, given the goodwill that we all have, to ensure that, Hon Ministers appear timeously to respond to Questions that are asked of them. Unfortunately, it happens that some- times when Questions are admitted by the Rt Hon. Speaker, the Hon Majority Leader would not have any inkling, the Table Office would transmit the Questions to the Hon Ministers and the Hon Majority Leader would not know. We have liaised with the Table Office and indicated to them that whenever the Rt Hon Speaker admits Questions and they are transmitted to the various Ministries, the Hon Majority Leader's Office should also be informed, so that we could follow up appropriately. Again, I have gone out of my way to establish a channel of communication with the Chief of Staff, to also wield some influence on the Hon Ministers so they respond timeously to Questions that are asked of them. So, we shall work to ensure that Questions that are asked are admitted and transmitted in good time for Hon Ministers to appear before us to answer those Questions within time in order for the Questions and Answers to have relevance. Mr Speaker, the Hon Minority Leader raised another issue of Hon Ministers sitting in Committees. That indeed, is the dilemma of this House. The Constitution by article 103 (4) provides for every Member of Parliament (MP), whether he is a Minister or not to belong to a Committee so it is difficult sometimes negotiating your way about it. What we have done is to ensure that, an Hon Minister would not be in a Committee that oversees his own Ministry. But sometimes, it is not even the best because, some of the Ministries overlap somewhat and it is difficult to manoeuvre one's way through. As I said, that is a constitutional issue. It is a constitutional imperative provided under article 103 (4). How do we negotiate our way about it? Maybe, reviewing the Standing Orders together, we should come to some determination on that and then provide the benchmarks as to which Hon Minister cannot belong to which Committee and then I guess, we would make progress on that. Then the Hon Minority Leader, in his usual self, would not sit without throwing some tear gas. He talked about re- christening Funds as “Capped Funds”. Mr Speaker, yes, some Funds have been re-christened. I recollect the then Hon Minority Leader re-christening the Communications RTax as talk tax. Then immediately after we crossed the watershed, that rechristening was dropped and we went back to Communication Tax. Mr Speaker, we are all still on the learning curve and the proper thing would be done. But I agree with him that we should all work to ensure that, the Funds are released on time to allow for the performance of the responsibilities that are placed under those Funds. Mr Speaker, I thank you very much.
The Business Statement as submitted is hereby admitted. Hon Members, at the Commencement of Public Business. Item numbered 5 (i) on the Order Paper -- Presentation of Papers by the Hon Majority Leader and Minister for Parliamentary Affairs.
Hon Members, item numbered 5(ii) on the Order Paper. By the Majority Leader and Minister for Parliamentary Affairs -- Annual Report of the Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC) on the Management of Petroleum Revenues for the year 2015. Referred to the Finance Committee.
Hon Members, item numbered 6 on the Order Paper.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister for Finance is in a meeting. For that reason, he has asked the Hon Deputy Minister for Finance, who is one of our own, to stand in for him and perform the function under item numbered 6 on the Order Paper.
Hon Majority Leader, please, I do not get you. Would you not be in the position to do the presentation on his behalf?
Mr Speaker, as I said, the Hon Minister for Finance is in a meeting. I communicated with him and it has been difficult to get him to this House. For this reason, he has dispatched an Hon Deputy Minister for Finance, who is one of our own, to stand in for him to perform the function under item numbered 6 -- the Hon Member for Atiwa East.
BILLS -- FIRST READING
Hon Majority Leader, any further indications?
Mr Speaker, we have exhausted the Business for today.
At what time tomorrow, please?
Mr Speaker, tomorrow at 12.00 noon. [Interruption.]
Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion for adjournment. Thank you. Question put and Motion agreed to.
The House was accordingly adjourned at 12.51 p.m. till Wednesday, 31st May, 2017 at 12.00 noon.