Hon Members, there is a correspondence from the President.
VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS AND THE OFFICIAL REPORT
Mr Speaker, on page 4, I was here last Friday, 2nd June 2017, but I have been recorded absent.
Thank you very much. Page 5, 6, 7 --
Yes, Hon Member?
Mr Speaker, my name is William Owuraku Aidoo. I was here on Friday, but I have been recorded absent.
Thank you. Pages 8 . . . 11 --
Mr Speaker, my name is Albert Akuka Alalzuuga. I was present on Friday, but my name has been captured under the absentees' list.
Thank you, Hon Member. Any other corrections? [Pause.] Hon Members, the Votes and P r o c e e d i n g s of Friday, 2nd June, 2017, as corrected are hereby admitted as the true record of proceedings. Hon Members, we have the Official Report dated Friday, 7th April, 2017. Any corrections?
Mr Speaker, in the last paragraph of column 5532, which is a statement attributed to my good self, I beg to read and make a correction: “Mr Speaker, initially, we met and we were expecting the Members of the Finance …” Mr Speaker, it was supposed to be “Finance Ministry” and not the “Finance Committee”. So, “Committee” should be deleted and “Ministry” inserted. Thank you very much.
Hon Members, any other corrections? [Pause.] In the absence of any other correction, the Official Report of Friday, 7th April, 2017 as corrected is hereby adopted as the true record of proceedings.
[No correction was made to the Official Report of Tuesday, 30th May, 2017.]
[No correction was made to the Official Report of Wednesday, 31st May, 2017.]
Hon Members, item numbered 3 on the Order Paper -- Urgent Question. There is an Urgent Question that stands in the name of Hon Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa addressed to the Hon Minister for Tourism, Arts and Culture. Is the Hon Minister for Tourism, Arts and Culture in the House? Hon Minister, you are welcome. Hon Ablakwa?
ORAL ANSWERS TO URGENT
Thank you very much. Yes, Hon Ablakwa?
I am most grateful, Mr Speaker. My first supplementary question is on the report of the Kintampo Waterfall tragedy. I would like to know from the Hon Minister whether this report would be made public seeing that this is a matter of immense national interest? Does the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture intend to make public the report she has received?
Mr Speaker, yes, it will be made public. Already, it is a public document as the Ministry is a public institution. But the Committee on Youth, Sports and Culture will be the first point of call. As we just resumed, we will give them a copy for them to address it. If they feel it is appropriate to share with all the Hon Members of this House, it would be done.
Mr Speaker, I thought the Hon Minister would tell us when it would be made public. My first question was not fully answered.
Your first question was whether it would be made public. That has been answered. If you want to ask when it would be made possible, you can ask that without the prefix. [Laughter.]
I will follow your direction, Mr Speaker. When would it be made public?
Mr Speaker, as soon as possible.
Mr Speaker, in the response of the Hon Minister, she indicated that only six tourists' sites were selected for the safety audit. We know that this was a tragedy that was reported by the international media and we have all been happy about the increasing numbers of international and domestic tourists that our tourism sector is beginning to witness. It is now the fourth foreign exchange earner and a major contributor to our gross domestic product (GDP). For them to select only six sites, does this give the needed assurance? Can the Hon Minister tell us why only six sites were selected? Also, we would want to know what the Ministry is finding out based on the Committee's revelation that there were untrained personnel at the Kintampo Waterfalls. The media reported that a group known as the Invincible Forces took over t h e t o u r i s t s ' s i t e . [Interruption.] We would want to know whether the Committee confirmed this. What steps are the Ministry taking to make sure that our tourists' sites are protected from all kinds of groups who are not professionally trained and who do not have the requisite expertise to man our tourists' sites?
Mr Speaker, the Safety Audit Team is currently reviewing the other sites and specific recommendation for each site across the nation would be implemented. Mr Speaker, as you may recall, in the Agenda for the House, you would notice that we have a Legislative Instrument (L.I.) for the respective centres to be re-entered into the Ghana Tourism Authority Licensing and Registration Regime. So, all sites will have direct supervision under an agency within my Ministry. So, we would have oversight responsibility. Mr Speaker, the second part of the question, I will reiterate fully. Measures to ensure safety at sites Mr Speaker, the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture has put in place plans to ensure our tourism sites are safe. These efforts are being coordinated by the Ghana Tourism Authority and they include: 1. Completion and implementation of all specific site audits and recommendations 2. Public liability Insurance for all tour sites is being pushed as a mandatory requirement for all attractions. Discussions are ongoing with Ghanaian Insu- rance companies such as GLICo, Phoenix Insurance and others 3. A new Legislative Instrument is being worked on to bring all tourist attractions under the Ghana Tourism Authority Licensing and Registration Regime. This L.I. has currently been drafted by GTA and as reiterated earlier, it has been listed on our Agenda for this Sitting. Stakeholder consultations are also ongoing and it would be brought before this august House of Parliament to deliberate 4. A new management regime involving District, Municipal and Metropolitan Assemblies, Traditional Authorities and GTA is being put in place to oversee these sites and ensure that re- investments and maintenance become an ongoing feature. There is an ongoing training of four guides, especially at sites that we have just discussed and there will be capacity building for all registered workers at all the four sites. They will be trained in health and safety practices. This is also part of the management strategy being undertaken by the Ghana Tourism Authority. We intend to improve access roads to all tourism sites and a Cabinet Memorandum on this is being finalised for submission to Cabinet. Mr Speaker, the Ministry is committed to improving visitor experience at our tourism sites to ensure professionalism at our sites, and above all, to ensure that every site in the country is safe and secure. On a lighter note, my Hon Colleague asked whether entities called “invincible forces” were at the site? If they are invincible, we could not have seen them.
Thank you very much. Hon Minister, this is a House of accountability. You said your report will be available as soon as possible. Can you give this Honourable House some idea of the time frame, so that it could help as a benchmark for accountability?
Mr Speaker, at the next sitting of the Committee on Youth, Sports and Culture, we would make the report available to this august House. Thank you. Edwin Nii Lantey Vanderpuye -- rose
Yes, Hon Member? Nii Lantey Vanderpuye: Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister failed to answer the last question asked by the Hon Ablakwa. The question was, did the report of the committee which was set up indicate what the reports in the media suggested, that a group of people illegally took over the management and functions of the approved authorities at the Kintampo Waterfalls and what would happen to these people? Mr Speaker, whether they are Invincible Forces, Delta Forces or Sky Forces, we do not want to know; we just want to know what will happen to those people.
Hon Minister, you would not only tell us what is going to happen to some people without first telling us whether it happened at all; and if it did, then what? [Uproar.]
Mr Speaker, on the day that the tragedy occurred, as I alluded to in this august House, a day after, my team, the Vice President of the Republic of this nation and other stakeholders visited the site. We did not see any illegal occupation of the site; and we were there with the media. When my Hon Colleague says, ‘report' -- This is a House of record. Is that report authentic? Could he give us a copy of the said report? This is because we were there with the media; we were over fifty people who toured the site, met the bereaved families and actually visited homes of people. No one was able to corroborate the story of illegal occupation of the site. In memory of the fallen victims, I would like for us to see this as a solemn issue of safety and insecurity around our tourist sites.
Mr Speaker, first of all, let me commend the Hon Minister for coming to respond to the Urgent Question filed by the Hon Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa. I wish to reiterate one or two points that she made. In responding --
Mr Speaker, my follow up question on the basis of the response given by the Hon Minister is as follows: As regards her admittance of the issue of the lack of training and competence of those who manage our tourist sites, which is still in contention, what has she done to reach out to the Department of Archaeology and Heritage Studies, which Mr Speaker, you well understand -- [Interruption.]
Mr Speaker, as a former lecturer at the University of Ghana, you well understand that it is one of the only departments of our Republic which has the expertise to train and mentor youngsters in the area of management of our natural and cultural resources. Has the Hon Minister made an effort to reach out to that department to enhance the ability of her Ministry to improve safety at our tourist sites across the length and breadth of this country?
Mr Speaker, my Hon Colleague, Dr Clement Apaak and I have discussed this urgent need to incorporate the University and the expertise from the Archaeological Department, but if he would be honest enough, we had discussed it just a week ago. So, I would work with him to get the appointment solidified and I would enjoin him to join his Hon Colleagues once the appointment is made. But I look forward to working with them as training and capacity building is urgently on the agenda and as part of the recommen- dations made by the team.
Thank you very much, Hon Minister. Hon Inusah Fuseini?
Mr Speaker, I would like to ask the Hon Minister for Tourism, Arts and Culture that, at the time she visited the site in the company of the Vice President and other dignitaries, who was said to be in control of the management of the tourism facility at the time of the accident?
Mr Speaker, it is an established fact that the Municipal Assembly was in charge of the Kintampo Waterfalls and this was corroborated by the Coordinating Director and the Municipal Security Council (MUSEC) that received us.
Mr Speaker, would the Hon Minister be kind enough to inform the House what steps the Ministry has taken in respect of compensation for the victims of the Kintampo Waterfalls?
Mr Speaker, at the time of the tragedy, under the leadership of the President of the Republic of Ghana through the Vice President, each victim was assisted with GH¢5,000 to support the funeral and burial arrangements. Mr Speaker, beyond that, the Committee is still finalising its recommendations on the future of the widows -- for there was a young man with a very young baby and the families of the students who have departed. Once it is fully ready, the House would be briefed.
Mr Speaker, I would want to find out from the Hon Minister, since some of the victims are currently writing their examinations, whether she is in touch with them or tried to go there to talk to them and give them support for their examinations. [Interruption.]
Hon Members, Order!
Mr Speaker, what is happening is that, most of the victims have passed on; may their souls rest in peace. One or two of them who were to write their examinations would actually be writing the West African Senior Secondary Certificate Examinations (WASSCE) and not the Basic Education Certificate Examinations (BECE). So, we are hopeful that the psy- chologist on site at the Wenchi Senior High School (SHS) -- There was the Methodist Chaplain who assured us that they would take them through trauma sessions and we believe that, that has happened. But as the Hon Member of Parliament for the area, I would also plead with you that as part of your courtesy visits to the BECE candidates, you would also extend
Any questions by Leadership?
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity. In the Hon Minister's Answer, she indicated that operations were being suspended for construction work. Would she indicate to this House whether the construction work has commenced and whether the victims would be compensated?
Mr Speaker, on the 8th of June, 2017, which is next Thursday, the 48 Regiment, Forestry Commission and the workers would move to site to commence work. They have already been on site doing the preparatory work with the Ghana Tourism Authority. For the victims who were students, as I reiterated early on to my Hon Colleague, the recommendations on compensation beyond the burial services is still a report in its working stages. Once it is completed, this august House would be apprised of the details and the way forward.
Mr Speaker, how was the procurement for the Regiment done for work to commence?
Mr Speaker, it was in accordance with the Procurement Act. As it was an emergency, the 48 Regiment offered to actually support in fixing the disaster zone, but they went through the procurement processes through the Ghana No, we did not sole source. There is no contractor on site to have been sole sourced. The 48 Engineers Regiment is part of the Ghana Armed Forces.
One shot from the Leadership of the Majority side -- any questions? Hon Minister, thank you very much for attending upon the House and answering our Questions. Hon Members, item numbered 4 -- Questions. A Question stands in the name of the Hon Member for Adaklu. Hon Minister for Communications?
Mr Speaker, I humbly rise to seek your leave to ask this respective Question on behalf of the Hon Member for Adaklu as he is presently --
You may proceed.
ORAL ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS
MINISTRY OF COMMUNICATIONS
Mr Speaker, thank you. Mr Speaker, I beg to seek your leave to amend the Answer as published in the Order Paper. In the last paragraph of the first page --
Hon Minister, Hon Members want you to communicate.
Mr Speaker, in view of my new resolution to adopt a less confrontational attitude in interacting with the public, I have moderated my voice to be in line with that new resolution. Mr Speaker, I would endeavour to amplify my voice, however, so that Hon Members could hear my Answer without straining their ears too much. Mr Speaker, respectfully, I seek your leave to amend line three of the last paragraph of my Answer on page 3 of the Order Paper. The named service providers are Tigo, Glo and Kasapa, but I have information that it is not Tigo, but rather, it is Airtel. Mr Speaker, with your leave, therefore, I would substitute Airtel for Tigo in that paragraph. Also, on the next page, the printing is not very clear in the second line of the third paragraph on page four of the Order Paper. It should read “has provided a cell site”. Mr Speaker, the Adaklu District is one of the young districts created in 2012 with severe developmental challenges. The deployment of modern communications infrastructure is necessary to mitigate the handicaps of development and to also unleash the enabling capabilities of Information Communication Technology (ICT) for the area. It is, indeed, Government's policy and desire to expand access to telecom- munication services to all parts of the country, and it is making efforts in collaboration with Telecom Companies to provide coverage to all communities, particularly those in the rural and underserved parts of the country. This Government intends to promote digital inclusion and we will work assiduously to achieve that objective within the shortest possible time. Mr Speaker, a number of measures have been put in place to facilitate wider coverage to improve telecommunication connectivity in underserved and un- served communities such as Adaklu. Existing regulations enjoin all the Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) to achieve nationwide coverage with respect to their Licence obligations (2G) and also cover all district capitals as part of their 3G Licence obligations. Mr Speaker, three (3) out of the six (6) Mobile Network Service Providers operating in Ghana have full 2G and 3G services in Adaklu. The other three service providers, namely Airtel, Glo and Kasapa have been directed by the National Communications Authority (NCA) to provide coverage to Adaklu and its surrounding environs within six months or be sanctioned. Mr Speaker, to enhance universal access to ICT in the deprived com- munities, the Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Communications (GIFEC) has procured a Satellite Hub to extend connectivity to the under-served and un- served areas. So far, one hundred (100) communities have been connected. In respect of Rural Telephony, a total of one hundred and seventeen (117) sites have been constructed in communities where access to mobile services is not available. In all, 93 out of the 117 sites are
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister indicated specifically in paragraph six of her Answer to the House that the other three service providers had been directed by the NCA to provide coverage at Adaklu and its surrounding environs within six months or be sanctioned. Mr Speaker, could the Hon Minister inform this House when that instruction was given to these service providers?
Mr Speaker, I believe the instruction was given a couple of months ago, which makes it about two months ago. So, the clock has already started ticking.
Mr Speaker, could the Hon Minister assure this House that the services that are being rolled out in Adaklu now could also be rolled out in South Dayi, which is my own constituency in a similar manner?
Mr Speaker, as I indicated in my Answer, we are committed to promoting digital inclusion, and we would work assiduously to achieve that objective within the shortest possible time.
Hon Yieleh Chireh?
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister in her Answer, on page four of the Order Paper, in the second paragraph, talked about a hundred and seventeen communities. However, she has not indicated those communities. Is it possible for her to list the communities so that I find out whether the communities in Wa West Constituency that I have been agitating to get connected through the GIFEC are included?
Mr Speaker, I have the list, and I can make it available to the Table Office --
Pardon, I should check now? Mr Speaker, it might take a bit of time. so, I would make the list available. However, these are just the sites that they are working on this year. We intend to scale it up because that is one of the priorities of GIFEC, and that is the reason they were set. They intend to focus on extension to the unserved and the underserved areas, and we would roll on more sites in the coming years. However, for this year, these are the sites that they are going to be working on.
Mr Speaker, my question is from page 3, paragraph 5 of the Hon Minister's Answer. It says that existing regulations enjoin all the Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) to achieve nationwide coverage with respect to their licence obligations (2G) and 3G. And going to page 4, paragraph 1: “... to enhance universal access to ICT in the deprived communities, the Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Communication (GIFEC) has procured a Satellite Hub to extend connectivity to the under- serviced and un-serviced areas.” My question to the Hon Minister now is, what are we going to do to prevent duplication of efforts where the mobile network operators are tasked to cover the whole nation and GIFEC is also procuring a satellite hub to cover the whole nation? What could we do so that there would be no duplication of efforts and waste of resources in this case?
Mr Speaker, the rolled out programme of the mobile network operators is made available to GIFEC, and they have indicated the number of sites that they would be covering in any particular area since they cannot do it all at the same time. GIFEC looks at their rolled out programme and there is a large number of communities which are unserved and underserved. So, to avoid duplication, GIFEC provides services where the mobile network operators do not intend to roll out, so that working together, they could achieve a reasonable network of coverage for as many communities as possible.
Mr Speaker, I refer to the efforts being made by GIFEC to expand telecommunication connectivity in the area, but I would want to ask the Hon Minister whether she is aware that the masts installed in Matse, Lome and Hodzo, which are all in my constituency, are not functioning at all? Telecommunication in the areas are very erratic. I would want to find out whether the Hon Minister is aware that these things are not helping the communities.
Mr Speaker, I am not aware, but now that he has brought it to my attention, I would take steps to find out what the issues are. However, I would be grateful if he could formally notify me of those issues, so that I could take it up.
Hon First Deputy Speaker to take the Chair.
MR FIRST DEPUTY SPEAKER
Hon Member for Kumbungu?
Mr Speaker, would the Hon Minister indicate why the plans for promoting digital inclusion cannot take place immediately? This follows from her Answer in paragraph three (3). Would she indicate why digital inclusion cannot take place immediately and what steps her Ministry is taking in ensuring compliance regarding coverage?
Mr Speaker, we cannot achieve digital inclusion at once. It is a process. So, we have to start and work at it. However, to begin any process, one needs to have the desire to do it, and that is what this Government has indicated that in view of the importance of ICT as a tool for the rapid development of the
Is the Hon Leader willing to ask, otherwise, I am going to limit it to two, because Mr Speaker has admitted three Statements which we have 30 minutes to take. So, I would admit two more, and then the Hon Leader. Hon Member for Tamale North?
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity. Mr Speaker, I refer to page 3, paragraph 5 of the Hon Minister's response, which says: “Existing regulations enjoins all the Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) to achieve nationwide coverage with respect to their Licence obligations (2G) and also cover all District Capitals as part of their 3G Licence obligations.”
“To enhance universal access to ICT in the deprived communities, the Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Com- munications (GIFEC) has procured a Satellite Hub to extend connectivity to the under-served and un-served areas...” Mr Speaker, my question is, what remedy exists for customers in regional capitals such as Tamale who continue to experience call drops, internet interruptions and network congestions?
Mr Speaker, the question is eliciting an answer which is based on the quality of service.
Order! Order at the Majority side.
Mr Speaker, the Question I was invited here to answer relates to the extension of connectivity to rural areas. While the two are related, they are not the same. I would be grateful if the Hon Member could ask a specific question on that, because the issues about service quality are immense, and it would be difficult to take this short supplementary question to answer those issues. So, I would urge the Hon Member to ask a substantive question, so that I can prepare adequately to come and address that issue. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, in paragraph 5, as part of the Hon Minister's Answer, she says that existing regulations enjoin all the Mobile Network Operators to achieve nationwide coverage with respect to their licence obligations and also to cover all District Capitals as part of their 3G Licence obligations. Mr Speaker, what is the time frame for this objective, especially in Issa which is the district capital for Daffiama/Bussie/ Issa District in the Upper West Region?
Hon Minister, what time frame are we looking at?
Mr Speaker, which community is he talking about; is it the district capital?
On the general licence to cover the nation as a whole, specifically to all district capitals, if you look at it, there is no time frame. Is it by this time of the year, or in four years? We cannot measure with respect to time. That is my question.
As part of the licence obligations, they are enjoined to cover the entire country with respect to their 2G Licence obligations, and all district capitals as part of their 3G Licence obligations. They should indicate the roll-out programme to the NCA. So, they are not given any specific time frame within which to do that, but they work with the NCA to achieve that. When they bring out the roll-out plan and it is not adequate, then they can work with them and work with GIFEC as well to also ensure that they meet those obligations. They are commercial entities, so, even though their licence enjoins them to cover the entire country, a commercial motive would also drive their roll-out obligations. The NCA is aware of the need for them to recover and make a return on their investment; and communication is a capital intensive exercise. That is why the Government has also set up GIFEC to supplement their effort in that respect. Mr Speaker, however, with respect to their 3G Licence obligations, they are enjoined to cover all district capitals. So, I would be grateful if the Hon Member could let me know which specific district capital is not enjoying 3G service from any of these Mobile Network Operators, so that I can take that matter up and ensure that the NCA makes them meet their License obligations within the shortest possible time.
The Hon Minister in her Answer said, and I beg to quote: “... a number of measures have been put in place to facilitate wider coverage to improve tele- communication connectivitiy in underserved and un-served communities such as”.
Mr Speaker, to ensure that as many communities as possible in this country are connected to the internet and enjoy ICT and telephone services, there has been extensive collaboration between the public and the private sector to facilitate that. There has been collaboration between Mobile Network Operators and GIFEC, where GIFEC would erect the infrastructure which they would also extend their services to reduce the cost of extension of connectivity to several communities. Mr Speaker, as I indicated earlier, commercial motives also play a role in the expansion and roll-out decisions that are taken by many of these private network operators. However, if there can be a partnership between a public entity like GIFEC and the Mobile Network Operators, GIFEC would establish the infrastructure there and they would extend their services there. And several of such collaborations have taken place over the years to connect communities which would otherwise not have enjoyed services. Mr Speaker, interestingly, in some of these instances, even though the feasibilities conducted by the Mobile Network Operators may have indicated that those areas were not commercially viable, once GIFEC extended the infrastructure there and they extended their services to those communities, the capacities were quickly taken up, and it indicated that there was immense appetite for telecommunication services in those communities, even though the feasibilities may have indicated otherwise. So, every part of this country is hungry to be part of the ICT and digital revolution. We would ensure that a lot more of such collaborative efforts take place to share the burden and the cost of providing services around the country to enable as many communities as possible to take advantage of the immense possibilities that connectivity to the internet, data and telephone services would provide. Mr Speaker, we would also want to scale up mobile financial services, and so we are encouraging the mobile network operators and even private operators to also consider extending these electronic payment systems to as many communities as possible, to reduce the burden of carrying cash, and to facilitate and ease commercial transactions around the country, and also facilitate the growth of an entire electronic commerce (e- commerce) industry in this country.
Mr Speaker, my understanding of the remit of the Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Communications (GIFEC) is to serve the un-served and underserved areas, particularly in areas where mobile network operators for some reason may be unwilling to extend coverage. Mr Speaker, I note that in the Hon Minister's Answer, she still made reference to 2G and 3G. She knows that the world is awake to LTE (4G). I would, therefore, want to know what she would do for the rural communities in Ghana to benefit from the roll-out of 4G, consistent with her Answer to this Question.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, currently, mobile broadband service operators, mobile broadband wireless operators, and MTN are the only service providers that are authorised to provide 4G coverage to consumers in this country. Mr Speaker, we are encouraging as many people as possible to be part of the digital revolution. However, the cost of provision of those services are not cheap, and that is why GIFEC also has an extensive LTE network, which is supplemented by the satellite hub to enable them to provide data services to as many communities as possible. Mr Speaker, they are going to scale up their effort in this area, working in collaboration with other partners in this area, to ensure that in the un-served and underserved areas where there may not be a commercial reason for the mobile network operators to extend their services, they can also be part of the digital revolution, and enjoy digital data services. Mr Speaker, whether it is provided by 4G transmission or 3G transmission, the important thing is to enable them to enjoy data services in all parts of the country, and we would work assiduously towards that. Mr Speaker, there are other solutions that we are considering, but I would provide information to this august House at a later date, when those initiatives come to fruition. Mr Speaker, the world is actually moving towards 5G, and we are struggling to make 2G and 3G services operational, but we would get there. We would not be left out of the digital revolution.
Hon Minister, thank you for attending upon the House to Answer the Questions. You are discharged. Hon Members, the Rt. Hon Speaker has admitted four Statements. We have just under 20 minutes left for the Sitting to come to a close. So, I would take the first Statement, and wherever we get to when it is 2.00 o'clock, we would leave it there. Hon Members, the first Statement is in the name of the Hon Mensah, Betty Nana Efua Krosbi.
Yes, Hon Member for Tamale Central?
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for your recognition. Mr Speaker, I would like to raise this very important matter in this House. Mr Speaker, I beg in solemn affirmation and declaration of our commitment to the rule of law. Mr Speaker, this morning, we were given the Official Report of Tuesday, 30th May, 2017. In the Official Report, we have the names of Ministers -- Cabinet Ministers, and Ministers of State --
Hon Member, you are out of order. We have gone past dealing with the Official Report , and are now on Statements. Hon Member, you should kindly resume your seat. Tomorrow, you can return to that subject. Yes, Hon Krosbi?
Before we start a discussion on this matter -- Hon Majority Leader and Hon Minority Leader, can I have your attention please? This Statement has raised a very major issue about some NGOs going to seize some children from an island somewhere without due process. I would want to hear you both after I have given other Hon Members the opportunity. I have asked the Hon Deputy Attorney- General to stay back so that they would guide us as to how to go through this process and deal with the request at the last end. So I would be grateful if you paid attention. I will allow two comments and then I will allow the Hon Leaders to come in.
Thank you very much for the opportunity. I would also want to thank the Hon Member for drawing our attention to a very sensitive issue. This is really sensitive because it can have many repercussions for us in Ghana. Mr Speaker, the issue of child trafficking and child labour has been on the front burner for a very long time. I recall that some few years ago, our cocoa industry nearly suffered a very big setback when an NGO, similar to the one that we have now, came out with a report that children are used on our cocoa farms. It is because of these that we have to take a very serious look at this issue. Indeed, ILO has many important guidelines and definitions on the issues. ILO again clearly states what constitutes support by children to their parents. So it is important that we look at the NGO in question and see why they acted the way they did. As you rightly said, Mr Speaker, it is important for us to investigate this matter clearly and get to the root causes and the bottom of the case so that we would not put our children at risk and get them confined to homes when their parents are also in the community. Child trafficking in Ghana is done by those who really transport children from other areas to the communities. But here we are with a case where the children live with their parents and they have been arrested without due cause. Mr Speaker, I would support the Hon Member who made the Statement and call on the relevant Ministries to carry out deep investigations into the matter so that we know who is keeping our children and why they are trying to separate children from their families. Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity and I hope that this matter would be taken to its logical conclusion.
Having regard to the time, I direct that we Sit outside the regular Sitting hours.
Mr Speaker, about four months ago, a similar incident happened in my constituency. I was here in the Chamber when I had a call that a team made up of some marine police and some NGOs were on the Volta Lake and had arrested a number of children with their parents. They were sent to Koforidua, so, I went there. I was fortunate to have been granted access to the site where the children were kept. I met the officers of the NGO and from my estimation, the children were treated well; they were camped somewhere and they were very comfortable. I followed up to the police head- quarters. But unfortunately, the process has delayed unduly. I expected that after four months or so, investigations could have been concluded for the children that had to be returned to their parents to be sent back to them. As I speak now, I still receive calls from parents from my constituency demanding to know the whereabouts of these kids. It is quite frustrating because the parents do not know where the children are, and none of us can ascertain where the children are being kept. In fact, I am in contact with the police office that is conducting the investi- gations and they keep assuring me that investigations are ongoing. But as I said earlier, it is delaying unduly and it is becoming uncomfortable for everybody. It is true that the NGO, the International Justice Missions, and all the actors will have every good intentions for this, but if the parents are being denied access to their children in all these delayed processes, then it becomes very uncomfortable for all of us. So, we will humbly appeal that we take this matter up, and then find out what processes could be done for a speedy resolution of the matter. Thank you very much, Mr Speaker.
I want to hear from the Hon Minority Leader and then I will come to the Hon Majority Leader. I am sorry the time left is too short and I still have three more Statements, so, I will consider that. Let me listen to the Hon Minority Leader.
Mr Speaker, thank you very much for the opportunity to associate myself with the Statement and to thank the Hon Member who made the Statement for bringing the matters to the fore.
Hon Members, Order!
Mr Speaker, child labour is a major issue and it relates to human and child trafficking that in particular, the United States government abhors. I am sure that even the status of Ghana has come down as a result of our inability to respond to many of these issues. Mr Speaker, thankfully, the Hon Minister for Employment is in the Chamber, I would encourage him to come with — there is a regulation I worked on with the Hon Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection; Domestic Workers' Regulations. It is a subsidiary legislation which requires Parliamentary approval. But looking at the time period, we are not too sure whether it could meet the mandatory twenty-one days pursuant to article 11 of the Constitution. So, it is for the Hon Minister for Employment to regularise and control that sector with this particular regulation. It would control the employment of domestic workers and define the rights of domestic workers and what they are entitled to. I heard the Hon Minister for Employment publicly suspending recruitment to the Gulf. This particular regulation would help him deal with it. There are a number of unlicensed entities that engage in the activity. So, I should commend the maker of the Statement but I believe that child labour remains a problem. Mr Speaker, during the vetting of the Hon Minister for the Western Region, there is now a new paradigm shift in the thinking of what constitutes child labour akin to a cultural practice where children assist parents in cocoa farms which is construed in other areas as abuse. We need to intensify education to appreciate our values and culture while we still respect the Western position on avoiding the abuse of children and fighting the child trafficking menace. So, let me conclude by encouraging the Hon Minister for Employment and Labour Relations, Hon Minister for Gender and Children and Social Protection, and in particular, the Attorney-General to work together in order that we can get this particular area properly regulated by law and strictly to enforce the laws that are there. Once again, I thank the Hon Member who made the Statement. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Hon Minority Leader, my interest is in the specific complaint that some children have been practically abducted from the custody of their parents and they are kept in-communicado from their parents. Another contributor has given an example that same thing has happened in his constituency. You have been at the Ministry of Employment, upon what basis would any NGO go and abduct children from the custody of their parents without due cause to proper legal process?
Mr Speaker, rightly, I believe you can accordingly direct that law enforcement agencies see to the release of the affected children. If there is any investigation to it, they can. But certainly, they are not justified in law to hold them. That is why I said in the second leg of my comment that what happens to those children who are being held unlawfully. I think you can direct their release if Parliament may so advise the appropriate institutions to do so. Thank you.
Mr Speaker, I guess I must also lend my weight to the Statement made by the Hon Member and to also associate myself with the Statement made by the Hon Minority Leader in respect of our definition of what constitutes hazardous labour which may attract sanctions if our children apply themselves to. Mr Speaker, I guess the time has come for us to really open the vista. A child accompanies the father to a factory to work, it is deemed as training for the child. That is not hazardous. A child accompanies the parents to a farm, and that is deemed as hazardous labour. A child accompanies his fisherman father, that is deemed as hazardous labour. Mr Speaker, I guess perhaps, if schooling has started in our part of the world and children at age five or six were asked to pass through the chores, perhaps, they would be considered as too tasking on the brains of the children. So, the time has come for us to really interrogate what constitutes hazardous labour. Mr Speaker, having said that, I believe the central issue that you want us to address, going forward, with the intervention of the NGO, is what to do and I think that we should refer this matter immediately to the Leaderships of the Committee on Employment, Social Welfare and State Enterprises, Committee on Gender and Children and Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs. The Leadership of the three Committees should immediately deal with the issue and advise the House on the way forward. Mr Speaker, I thank you.
Very well. At this point, I am going to ask the Hon Deputy Attorney-General and Deputy Minister for Justice to advise us whether there is any legal process which they are aware of.
Mr Speaker, but to also say that the concern of the Hon Minority Leader with respect to labour regulations that would affect domestic workers, the Hon Minister has given an indication that those regulations would be coming to the House. As you do know, we have barely forty Sitting days. Already, we have spent five days, today inclusive. So, maybe, if the Hon Minister is listening to us -- I saw him here and I guess he has exited. He may have to work fast on that to have it laid in the House before we take an adjournment on or before the 4th of August. I guess we may have to bring forward the adjournment date from 4th August which was originally scheduled, to 2nd August in view of some statutory engagements by Mr Speaker and the entire Leadership of the House. So, we may have to bring the date of adjournment forward to 2nd August, 2017, that would then mean that effectively, we would have 38 Sitting days.
Mr Speaker, just to guide you, one of our Hon Colleague Members of Parliament served as Deputy Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection. She indicated to me that after all, it may not be the matter that the detention of the children is unlawful. This Parliament passed some Act or Regulation which allowed the children to be held in shelter -- if I got her words right. So, appropriately, we might want to involve the Hon Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection in this particular matter as you directed. Thank you.
I am not sure that this House would give any power to anybody without process to accost any child. Based on the advice proffered, I would charge the Committee on Gender and Children, assisted by the leadership of the Committee on Employment, Social Welfare and State Enterprises and the Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee, to investigate this specific allegation about the abduction of these children at Dwarf Island and Digya. Hon Ampem, what is the community from which the children were abducted?
Mr Speaker, Labolabo and Kudikope in the Asuogyaman Constituency. However, I am uncomfortable with the word abduction because it was a team of marine police and police officers from --
Without due process? So, I charge the Committee on Gender and Children, assisted by the leadership of the Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee and Leadership of the Committee on Employment, Social Welfare and State Enterprises to investigate this specific allegation and report to this House in two weeks. Thank you very much. I would allow one more Statement by Hon Wahab Wumbei Suhuyini, Member of Parliament for Tolon. Ramadan, 2017
Hon Members, this is a ceremonial one and practically, we have exhausted the time, so, I would allow only the Hon Minority Chief Whip to contribute and I would bring the debate to a close. Mr Speaker would want us to meet him because of the delegation we are expecting.
Mr Speaker, I am grateful for the opportunity that was given to Hon Wahab Wumbei Suhuyini to make the Statement on Ramadan. Mr Speaker, like you said, it is a ceremonial Statement and we have the opportunity to speak about Ramadan year in, year out. Mr Speaker, I would want to add that it is not just abstaining from eating, but it is doing the very best that one can as a Muslim to increase one's good deeds. It is perceived that during the month of Ramadan, we do not eat and so we spend less. But in actual sense, if one takes the practice of Islam seriously, it is in the month of Ramadan that one actually spends so much. Mr Speaker, because of time, I would want to say that it is very worrying to hear that in the month of Ramadan for whatever reason that a Muslim would go and kill people. This is because it is in the month of Ramadan that one is supposed to be mood submissive, to reflect over the eleven months that have passed and to be able to remember that we are constantly before Allah and to put up the best of behaviours. And so, it cannot be justified for whatever reason regardless of the provocation, for a Muslim to pick a vehicle and run into innocent citizens like it happened few days in London and kill them and to say that he or she was fighting for Islam. I do not believe those persons by any school of thought, can qualify or describe themselves as Muslims. This is because it is said in the Holy Quran that if one kills an innocent person, it is equivalent to killing the whole of mankind. So, for whatever reason, if a person has been offended, Islam and the Holy Quran says that the person can retaliate in equal measure, but because a person cannot put a tape to the retaliation of equal measure, it is best for the person to be patient and let go and expect a reward from Allah. Mr Speaker, in the month of Ramadan, I would want to urge our Muslim brothers to be more patient and tolerant in our communities. They should remember the fundamentals and the values inculcated in fasting so that at the end of the day we would not only fast in vain. This is because it is said by the Holy Prophet Muhammed Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam, that if it is only just abstaining from food and yet one goes ahead with the lies, the insults and all the other wrong reasons, then one would have better eaten because Allah would not accept that person's fasting. The same Allah in the Holy Quran said that, with almost every activity in Islam, one is told the volume of reward but it is only fasting that Allah Subhanahu Wata Aala himself said in the Holy Quran, that the reward of the one who fasts sincerely and genuinely is with him. And so nobody can tell a person that when he or she fasts for a day, this would be his or her reward. It is only Allah who knows the reward. So, we need to remember that and keep the piety and ensure that at all times, we would live at peace with our neighbours, our friends -- not only our Muslim neighbours, because in Islam, the Holy Prophet said repeatedly that one is not a believer until one wishes for his or her
Thank you, Hon Deputy Minority Chief Whip. Hon Members, that brings us to the end of proceedings for today.
The House was adjourned at 2.28 p.m. till Wednesday, 7th June, 2017 at 12.00 noon.