Debates of 29 June 2017

MR SPEAKER

PRAYERS

VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS AND THE OFFICIAL REPORT

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Hon Members, item numbered 2 on the Order Paper -- Correction of Votes and Proceedings and the Official Report.

[No correction was made to the Votes and Proceedings of Wednesday, 28th June, 2017.]

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Hon Members, Official Report of Wednesday, 21st June, 2017. Any corrections?

Speaker
Mr Benjamin Komla Kpodo

Mr Speaker, I would want to refer you to the front page under Papers. The Report which was laid was from the District Assemblies' Common Fund (DACF) and not Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund) --

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Hon Member, are we going back to the Votes and Proceedings or we are on the Official Report?

Speaker
Mr Kpodo

Mr Speaker, on the Official Report.

Speaker
Mr Kpodo

Mr Speaker, the front page --

Speaker
Mr Speaker

The very front page?

Speaker
Mr Kpodo

Yes, Mr Speaker.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Please, go on.

Speaker
Mr Kpodo

Mr Speaker, DACF has been abbreviated as GETFund. So, the Hansard Department should take measures to correct that. Thank you, Mr Speaker.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

They have referred to the District Assemblies' Common Fund and have acronymised it as GETFund. Thank you very much. Hon Members, any further corrections? Hon Members, in the absence of any further corrections, the Official Report of Wednesday, 21st June, 2017, as corrected, is hereby adopted as the true record of proceedings. Item numbered 3 -- Statements. Hon Members, we have two Statements this morning. The first one stands in the name of Hon Alfred Okoe Vanderpuije, on Aspects of regulation of public universities' charges on penalties for late payment of school fees. Yes, Hon Member? Just a moment please. Yes, Hon Minority Leader?

Speaker
Mr Haruna Iddrisu

Mr Speaker, I thank you very much. Mr Speaker, I was labouring to catch your eye and attention when you were on the Votes and Proceedings. This is because it is a matter of records for posterity. I am sorry I walked in when you were just about adopting the Votes and Proceedings. Mr Speaker, if we look at pages 10 and 11 of the Votes and Proceedings, particularly page 11, I do not think, and even if --

Speaker
Mr Speaker, on page 11, it reads

“The House accordingly approved the proposed Formula for Dis- tribution of the District Assemblies' Common Fund (DACF) for the year 2017 as follows…”. Mr Speaker, that is wrong. What is there is the criterion and weight that was given for the approval processes. More importantly, it is like Parliament exercising oversight for appropriation. I would think that subsequently, even in our record, the amount of money so approved reflects, which is what you communicated as the decision of the House, that Parliament has approved GH¢1.5 billion for the DACF. Mr Speaker, even if we would want to break down the narrative, we should break it down to the activity areas of the expenditure and not this ratio block. I would, therefore, appreciate it if the Table Office, under your guidance, would take care of it.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Yes, Hon Dr Anthony Akoto Osei?

Speaker
Dr Anthony Akoto Osei

Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, unfortunately, the Hon Minority Leader and I both came late. He was running ahead of me, and as soon as I sat down, I also realised that what is reflecting on page 11 of the Votes and Proceedings is not correct. So, I believe we should amend it, and put the full breakdown of what we approved in our records.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Hon Members, the amendment and the full breakdown should be done accordingly. Hon Members, the Votes and Proceedings as amended, are accordingly approved as the true record of proceedings. Yes, Hon Vanderpuije?

STATEMENTS

Speaker
Dr Alfred Okoe Vanderpuije (NDC -- Ablekuma South)

Mr Speaker, thank you for giving me the opportunity to make this Statement on a day that I count as a special occasion in my life. Mr Speaker, this week marks for me, a very memorable one. Five years ago this week, my wife, the late Mrs Gifty Naa Adei Vanderpuije was on admission at the Cardio Centre at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital. Mr Speaker, the 29th of June that week happened to be the day that we were burying the late Mr Chris Nartey, the Managing Director (MD) for Merchant Bank. Mr Speaker, at 10.00 o'clock in the morning of the very day that we were burying my brother- in- law, I was called to go to the Korle-Bu Cardio Centre. So, from the funeral service, I went to the Cardio Centre, only to be told that my wife, who was on admission, was passing away. Within five minutes, holding the

Speaker
Dr Alfred Okoe Vanderpuije (NDC -- Ablekuma South)

Speaker
Dr Alfred Okoe Vanderpuije (NDC -- Ablekuma South)

hands of my dear wife, she slipped off in life and passed on. Mr Speaker, right from the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, I came back to the funeral service and sat through the service for the burial of my brother-in-law. Mr Speaker, Mr Chris Nartey was a philanthropist, and was a good man who supported the education of so many youth of this country. I personally know so many individuals working in financial institutions and so many ministers of God in different churches today, ministering to the spiritual wellbeing of our countrymen and women, who were trained with the support of Mr Christ Nartey. Mr Speaker, my late wife, Mrs Gifty Vanderpuije, was also somebody who supported the education of several youth of this country. Today, as I remember them, I realise that something that they did for the youth of this country is missing for so many of our youth. Mr Speaker, I would like to start my submission with the views of Justice Adinyira (Mrs) of the Supreme Court in the unreported case of Federation of Youth Association of Ghana (FEDYAG) v. Public Universities of Ghana & Ors, Writ No. J1/5/200927/07/2010 in which she supported the common saying that ‘education is the key to development.'. She further said that ‘education is the key to breaking the cycle of poverty'. From these statements, Mr Speaker, there is the need to regularise all activities which stand as impediments in realising education in Ghana by not using education as a tool to contribute to or deepen the poverty cycle of Ghanaians. Mr Speaker, I call the attention of this Honourable House to an emerging trend which is gradually creeping into the educational system and which needs immediate legislative attention. Mr Speaker, it is the levying of uneven penalty charges on low economic people -- poor but brilliant students -- who are unable to pay their school fees within specific periods before a semester ends at the various public or tertiary institutions. Mr Speaker, this unsupportive behaviour is not only in breach of constitutional underpinnings of making education affordable to all, but it sins also against the various Acts which establish these various public tertiary institutions and their various statutes. Mr Speaker, by the lack of regulation of this practice, it is implied by perpetrators of this act as sanctioned penalty charges. Mr Speaker, in this Statement for consideration, I have encountered bad ordeals meted out to students, such as withholding their semester results, preventing them from attending lectures, writing quizzes, some even made to defer their programmes without their concurrence. Mr Speaker, some students are even subjected to humiliations and inhumane and degrading comments from school authorities. Mr Speaker, it is prudent to suggest that the various universities must fully realise the value for money overtime, especially where the cedi's strength to other currencies is predictably unstable. There is equally a saying that “All things are lawful but not all are expedient.” Mr Speaker, Hon Members would agree that not all cultures, policies and practices outside the jurisdiction of Ghana are legitimate to be imported wholly into our educational system. Mr Speaker, that is to say that, in business or commercial training, if one takes a loan and signs a contract to receive that loan, one is under obligation if one does not meet the contract terms to pay a penalty fee. To bring that practice into our schools where needy but brilliant students cannot afford the school fees or charges and then getting to examination period, penalty charges are put on the amount that they already cannot pay and they have to face severe consequences. Mr Speaker, it is a practice that this House must endeavour to put an end to. This is because, every day, I have students who line up at my gate and my office, whether at the constituency or here and these students are pleading for help. They are calling up for help for a situation that is not legitimate and which is putting so many of our students out of school. Mr Speaker, I believe the time has come for us as a nation to say no to this practice. Mr Speaker, there is a saying, I believe in the Akan language, that -- I do not know if it is by Kaakaaku -- yenku wo nanso na yasee wo. Yebegu w'anim ase ansaana wafi asaase yi so -- [Laughter.] Mr Speaker, that means that they would not kill you but they would destroy you before you leave this life. Mr Speaker, that is exactly what we are doing to some of our needy but brilliant students, and I believe that this House must stand up to say no to this practice. We have medical and law students who cannot go further in their education. Mr Speaker, I call on this House --

Speaker
Ms Sarah Adwoa Safo

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Speaker
Mr Speaker

Hon Members, I do not want you to speak to each other in this Honourable House. I would order the proceedings. Hon Deputy Majority Leader, you are on your feet, you may speak but do not make overtures.

Speaker
Ms Safo

Very well. Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, you indicated that you have admitted a Statement by the Hon Oko Vanderpuije, but sitting here and observing, I see him go off the Statement that has been admitted and speak from the top of his head. So, I would want to seek your guidance. Mr Speaker, the practice in this House is that, once a Statement is admitted, it is read word for word and then the debate is left for Hon Members. So, if the Hon Member can stick to the Statement that has been admitted by your goodself, we would very much appreciate it.

Speaker
Dr Vanderpuije

Mr Speaker, I agree with Her Lordship Mrs Adinyira for her remarks in the case stated. She recounted that barely four decades ago, university education was virtually free in terms of tuition fees, boarding and lodging and there were well-equipped libraries and laboratories and adequate lecture halls and enough lecturers. The failure of Government allocations in the face of economic decline and structural economic adjustment pro- grammes have led to reduction in support for public universities. Increasing student enrolment without the corresponding expansion in facilities has created huge complex problems that call for an improvement in resources and administration which would greatly

Speaker
Dr Vanderpuije

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Thank you very much, Hon Member, for this good Statement so ably delivered.

Speaker
Dr Augustine Tawiah (NDC -- Bia West)

Mr Speaker, I rise to support this important Statement made by my Hon Colleague. Mr Speaker, we would expect that many Ghanaians should have free education, but increasingly, it is becoming a privilege, especially, tertiary education. As a result of that, those of us who had it free during our time -- it is very sad to see others who cannot aspire to the same aspirations we had when we came from the farms and we did not have anything and the university provided us a safe haven to have education which gave us an opportunity to serve the good people of Ghana. Mr Speaker, many of us would remember the days of payee and your coupon that you picked from the Hall Tutor's office and you went to eat. When you registered, it meant you were allocated a room and therefore you had all the key resources critical for you to undertake your education. Today, it is not like that. It is pay as you go. If you cannot pay, you cannot obtain that cherished education that we expect to get from our country. At the same time, we see the difficulty of our schools in trying to meet their expenses. Therefore, the issue of cost- sharing and other dimensions make it difficult for anybody to walk into our universities to access education. Mr Speaker, at least, we still can make further efforts to ensure that any Ghanaian who obtains the requisite grades to enter any tertiary institution can pursue that education without hindrance. Mr Speaker, this is because in certain jurisdictions where many of us studied, the only reason we could study in those places was because they had good foundations which helped us to be able to obtain education. Foundations gave scholarships and professors who were in research also supported students. Mr Speaker, increasingly, we hear that our universities are getting foundation moneys from Bill Gates and other endowed sources and therefore, the university should not become a place where it is very selective in terms of who can pay, but also to provide a means for others who do not have the financial resources but have demonstrated active involvement in terms of grades for entry. We also have philanthropists around the world who continue to provide assistance. We get messages informing us to apply to these institutions. So, to hinder students who cannot pay or were unable to pay on time and therefore were not allowed to write examinations is a travesty. This is because the examination contents cannot be reconstructed. If a student studies very hard, shows up in the examination centre to write the exam and he is told that, you owe “x” amount of cedis and because of that you cannot write the examination, the effort in preparing for the examination can never be reconstructed. Mr Speaker, it means that those who do not have the resources are basically eliminated from that process. But universities around the world have initiated things like a Mercy Fund where anybody who has demonstrated clear knowledge of the principles and the practices of the university and has served in student government body and other places, those students can also be supported. Mr Speaker, indeed, in other jurisdictions, if a student even becomes a student leader, he is paid a salary and we have some students who are very committed in doing this but they do not have the financial resources to pay the fees that are required. Mr Speaker, so, it would be prudent on our part at this point in our history, to diversify the processes to enable people access education.

Speaker
Dr Augustine Tawiah (NDC -- Bia West)

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Thank you very much, Hon Member, for your contribution.

Speaker
Mr Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa (NDC -- North Tongu)

I am most grateful, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to contribute to this Statement which has been ably made by Hon Okoe Vanderpuije. Mr Speaker, article 25 (1) (c) of the Constitution states and I quote; with your kind permission: “higher education shall be made equally accessible to all, on the basis of capacity, by every appropriate means, and in particular, by progressive introduction of free education;” Mr Speaker, it is clear from this constitutional provision that just like basic education, and just like secondary education, it is envisaged that when this economy grows and when resources are available, we should get to a level where higher education will also be free and will also be accessible to all Ghanaians who qualify for higher education. Mr Speaker, as the Hon Member has said, unfortunately, the trend is becoming the other way round, where higher education is increasingly being priced out of the reach of the ordinary Ghanaian. Mr Speaker, I do recall that when we were at the Ministry of Education, we did call on the National Council for Tertiary Education (NCTE). This is because the point has to be made that governments do not fix fees. Because of the principles of academic freedom, the institutions have a process they go through by engaging stakeholders; the Students Representative Councils (SRCs) all the way through the academic boards and end up at the councils of the various institutions. So, the independent university councils approve the fees and they can inform the NCTE. The Ministry of Education or the Government of Ghana does not interfere in the formulation of fees and in arriving at what fee should be charged and what should be the levies or the charges if there is late registration or if there is late payment of fees. These are internal arrangements that the institutions work out. I believe that, the whole system is good to allow for our educational institutions to run without any interference on a day-to-day basis. However, these institutions ought to be guided by article 25 (1) (c) of the Consti- tution. We need to draw the attention of the National Council for Tertiary Education (NCTE) which is the body that supervises tertiary institutions in Ghana, so that they

Speaker
Mr Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa (NDC -- North Tongu)

Speaker
Mr Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa (NDC -- North Tongu)

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Hon Ablakwa, thank you very much. Do you think that it is the intention of our educational system that each Senior High School (SHS) graduand should proceed to the university? That is a wrong impression we got from your presentation. Could you say a word or two on that? Is it anticipated that when you finished SHS you would go to the university as a matter of logical conclusion?

Speaker
Mr Ablakwa

Mr Speaker, that is certainly not the policy of the Government, nor the intention of the Constitution of Ghana. That is why at the tertiary level, we have polytechnics which are becoming technical universities. We have the Colleges of Education where one could be trained as a teacher. In between, there is also the intermediary where there is technical and vocational education for those who would want to develop a career in skills development. Mr Speaker, you are very right, that the impression should not be created that once you graduate from SHS, you must necessarily go to the university. No country has achieved that. The international best average is 30 per cent. In Ghana, we are currently at 17 per cent which is higher than the African average. So, let it be understood that even in the most developed countries, in the United States and United Kingdom, it is only about 30 per cent and that is really the policy. So, it is not a must that every graduate from SHS should go to university.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Thank you very much, Hon Ablakwa. Hon Member?

Speaker
Mr Joseph Mensah (NPP -- Kwesimintsim)

Mr Speaker, I wish to identify myself with the Statement made by Hon Okoe Vanderpuije. It is true that tertiary institutions have councils that seek to determine fees and arrangements on how fees should be paid. Those of us who have identified with some tertiary institutions know that very good and brilliant students, sometimes, because they do not have funds to pay their fees at the stipulated time, are sacked. Some are kept from writing examina- tions and others are completely sacked from the institution. When we do this, we deprive very good students from seeking knowledge which would eventually be used to help our country. Mr Speaker, the trend in which we find ourselves is such that if we do not take care, very soon, very brilliant students who do not have the resources would not be able to access any tertiary institution because they cannot pay their fees on time. Tertiary institutions are turning into financial institutions. They levy extra fees on students who cannot pay their fees at the stipulated time and burden the students who are already in that poor situation. Mr Speaker, this cannot continue. We are in a country where there are only a few philanthropists and institutions that support individuals to attain education. We do not have the fellowships and the scholarships that others have in some other countries. Those of us who were privileged to school outside know that most students in the tertiary institutions are supported by fellowships and scholarships from institutions. But in our country, most of the students are only supported by their parents; some of whom are petty traders who can barely make ends meet to support their children to go to school.

Speaker
Mr Joseph Mensah (NPP -- Kwesimintsim)

Speaker
Mr Joseph Mensah (NPP -- Kwesimintsim)

If they were to be sacked because they cannot pay their fees at the stipulated time that has been given, I believe it is not right. Mr Speaker, it is time for the tertiary institutions and their councils to adopt a system where there could be a leeway for the students to pay before the end of the year or before they take their certificates. That would be better than the students being sacked at the time when they are writing examinations. Mr Speaker, I would want to suggest that there are very good and well-endowed State institutions in our country which declare a lot of profit at the end of every year, and I believe they could set aside some of these profits to help those brilliant but needy students. Who knows, they would finish school and become like one of us -- some would sit as Rt Hon Speakers, Hon Members of Parliament and some as Hon Ministers. They need our support. Mr Speaker, I thank you for giving me audience.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Thank you, Hon Member, for the fine contribution.

Speaker
Mr Thomas Nyarko Ampem

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Speaker
Mr Rockson-Nelson Etse Kwami Dafeamekpor

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Speaker
Mr Speaker

Yes, Hon Member?

Speaker
Mr Thomas Nyarko Ampem (NDC -- Asuogyaman)

Mr Speaker, I thank you very much for the opportunity. Mr Speaker, I would wish that in future you would be able to call me by my name like you did to Hon Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa so that my Hon Colleague would not rush to speak in my stead. Mr Speaker, I would want to commend the Hon Member who made the Statement because this Statement is something that almost every Hon Member here can associate with. This is because we all get numerous calls and visits from parents and students, especially towards the end of the year when they are threatened to be sacked from schools or prevented from writing examinations. Mr Speaker, this is a very serious issue because it is the poor who are not able to pay the fees who are asked to pay penalty which deepens their problems. Mr Speaker, we cannot entirely blame the university authorities for this because as long as the Government is unable to provide adequate funding, they would have to charge fees to be able to meet their operational needs. These institutions have daily needs that they would have to meet and so, if an increasing number of students continue to default in payment of fees, it becomes a challenge. And for the universities to be able to continue to operate, they would have to go for loans and these loans come at a cost and everything shows that these costs are transferred to the poor students. Mr Speaker, going forward, I believe all the universities have done this for a long time and they should be able to anticipate an average what percentage of students are unable to pay on time and plan towards that. Whenever they receive the money, it is expected that since they do not spend all at the same time, they should also be able to invest some of these moneys that they collect in good time, so that the interest they get on it could also be used to mitigate the effects of the late payments. Mr Speaker, the Government should also find a way to help them. If the Government could guarantee or even pay interest on some of these loans in order to ease the pressure on these poor students, then it would help all of us. This is because if students who are poor would be forced to pay more than those who even have the ability to pay, then it is most unfair. Mr Speaker, I would want to encourage the Hon Member who made this Statement to continue to hold high the belief that his late wife and the late Nartey -- and what they did to promote education would not be in vain but continue to support the poor in our society. Mr Speaker, I thank you very much.

Speaker
Some Hon Members

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Speaker
Mr Speaker

Hon Members, I would take the last two contributions. Yes, Hon Member?

Speaker
Mr Alex Kofi Agyekum (NPP -- Mpohor)

Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity. Mr Speaker, I rise to associate myself with the sentiments and all the issues raised by the Hon Member who made the Statement. I would want to commend him very highly for such an insightful Statement. Mr Speaker, it is clear that some of us are aware of the issues that the Hon Member who made the Statement raised. I am happy that it has now come to the fore, that your Committee on Education has invited the National Council for Tertiary Education (NCTE) to allow the various universities to submit the fees that they charge. Mr Speaker, it has now become a demand and supply issue, and if we look at the bill from some of these public and private institutions, it is quite alarming. The only way we could go around it is to ensure that there are guidelines, otherwise almost every year, students would be saddled with this kind of situation. Mr Speaker, equally important is the cut-off point that these universities assign to their prospective applicants. Public institutions are there to help the less privileged, but if we look at what the Hon Member who made the Statement stated, the cut-off point by these universities put some of the public institutions in the domain of the private institutions that also charge exorbitant fees. Mr Speaker, it is important that we, as law makers, try to give some level of guidelines so that the vulnerable can be protected. Mr Speaker, the next point is about the 10 per cent mandatory quota that the various universities are supposed to take to ensure that those students who are allowed to pay fees -- when we look at the total number of students, they do not go beyond that. Mr Speaker, just as the Hon Members who spoke earlier said, because of the need to increase the Internally Generated Funds (IGF), it was observed that the quota mandate was flouted and a lot of students were made to pay fees. Mr Speaker, inasmuch as these things are meant for them to raise revenue, it also has a negative impact on the students at the second cycle level. This is because whatever grade one gets, once one's parent can afford to pay the fees, one could get admission into the tertiary institution.

Speaker
Mr Alex Kofi Agyekum (NPP -- Mpohor)

Speaker
Mr Alex Kofi Agyekum (NPP -- Mpohor)

Speaker
Mr Rockson-Nelson Etse Kwami Dafeamekpor (NDC — South Dayi)

Mr Speaker, thank you very much for the opportunity to support the Statement on the floor. I do so with recourse to article 25 (1) (c) of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana and with your permission, I beg to quote: “higher education shall be made equally accessible to all, on the basis of capacity, by every appropriate means, and in particular, by progressive introduction of free education;” Mr Speaker, I realised it was a very emotional Statement made by the Hon Member. Mr Speaker, some of our tertiary institutions, particularly the public institutions have introduced for instance, disparity in admission standards, which means that for instance, a fee paying student at the Faculty of Law — Mr Speaker, you have been a long serving university don and so these matters are at your beck and call — So, a fee paying student of the Faculty of Law for instance, is merely supposed to obtain an aggregate 15 and because of his or her capacity and the wherewithal to pay, the person is admitted. But the other category of admission where the person has to be qualified per the aggregate, for instance, aggregate 9 would be admitted without having to pay. So, for the same programme that the university runs, there are two categories of admitted students for different standards, yet they would graduate with the same qualification. Mr Speaker, these are very serious matters. Mr Speaker, about two weeks ago, I made a Statement on the floor regarding the increasingly high cost of accessing higher education, particularly in our public institutions in this country. For instance, a lot of them are increasingly rolling their admission opportunities online. So, if I spend money and obtain an internet service and I apply online, I am still asked to pay for the admission forms when I submit it. Mr Speaker, if one considers the incidents of the type of fees that our students pay at the tertiary level, it is mind boggling. One pays for admission fees and also for the admission forms that person fills to access the opportunity. The student has to pay for it; and when one gets the opportunity to be admitted, one would still have to pay what they call admission fee. Yet the universities year- in-year-out, tell us that their expenditures are increasing but they are not able to tell us the incidences of those expenditures. Mr Speaker, for instance, interim assessment tests are now being rolled online, yet the students are made to pay examination fees. Mr Speaker, as much as we decry the high levels of fees that the students pay, we must also question these tertiary institutions to check the number of expenditures that they sometimes place on the annual expenditure calendar, so that if we get the opportunity to review some of these things, we could advise that they cut down on some of the expenditures. Sometimes we can make savings by merely cutting down on our expenditure. Mr Speaker, indeed, they have also been affected by the newly introduced policy of capping and so most of them would want to generate more money, so that when they are capped, they can retain some level of revenue. And all these things dovetail to the fact that they find very ingenious ways of charging more fees. We pay hostel fees, hall fees, examination fees, entertainment fees, Students Representative Council (SRC) dues and a whole lot of them — Even Senior High School (SHS) students are now being asked to motivate their teachers in addition to the normal school fees that they pay. This is worrying. Mr Speaker, I would want to urge your Committee to direct the sector Ministry, the Ministry of Education to take a special view, so that Parliament, being the vanguard of all that we survey, could be placed in a position to review and check some of these excessive charges that are taking place in our higher institutions and which are gradually trickling down to the lower levels and secondary levels of our educational sub-sector.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Leadership? — [Pause.] Hon Members, if there are no contributions from Leadership, we would move on to the next Statement. In any case, this is further referred to the Committee on Education to consider the number of issues that arose out of this Statement and allied contributions, including teacher or lecturer motivation issues, particularly in the private institutions. It is a form of monetisation which should not be encouraged. We sympathise once more with Hon Dr Alfred Okoe Vanderpuije for his grave loss. Hon Members, the next Statement and it is good to see more school children arriving. Those who are here should not leave yet. The Statement is on Republic Day. The first one stands in the name of the Hon Minister for Youth and Sports; and the second is in the name of Hon Sophia Karen Ackuaku.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Speaker
Minister for Youth and Sports (Mr Isaac Kwame Asiamah)(MP)

Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to make this Statement. Mr Speaker, as we mark Ghana's Republic Day, which falls on Saturday, 1st July and which has become known as the Senior Citizens' Day, it is worth noting the key role our senior citizens have played in Ghana's development through volunteerism.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Hon Minister, if you could make yourself more audible, particularly for the benefit of the children who have filled the Public Gallery and with reference to your very important topic.

Speaker
Mr I. K. Asiamah

Mr Speaker, I wish to use this occasion to draw the attention of the House to the need to recognise the great sacrifices our senior citizens have made in building our motherland even at the peril of their lives. I would want us to ponder over sacrifices they have made in the past and as a country, reflect deeply on what we can do to develop this country. Mr Speaker, I would want us to inculcate the spirit of volunteerism and patriotism in our society, especially at a time like this when some Ghanaians, especially the youth are losing their sense of active citizenship, patriotism and also the will to voluntarily contribute to the socio-economic development of our dear nation Ghana without seeking any reward. Mr Speaker, as a nation, we must continue to honour the memories of our forefathers and senior citizens who, through their spirit of volunteerism and patriotism, delivered unto us this enviable nation called Ghana.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Hon Minister, give me one moment. All those who are in the Gallery, do not try to take pictures in this Chamber of Parliament. You may be attempting contempt. It is a very serious matter. You are well advised. Please, those who usher them in, let the public know that picture taking is not allowed in this Honourable House. Hon Minister you may proceed.

Speaker
Mr I. K. Asiamah

Mr Speaker, this attitude is affecting the value system of the youth and has consequently made some Ghanaians unpatriotic and unwilling to volunteer their time for community service which was a pivotal issue in the not too distant past. Mr Speaker, the value of volunteerism is well documented. Its contribution to economic growth and a nation's GDP is undisputable. In the United Kingdom for instance, over 20 million volunteers every year give more than 100 million hours every week. It is estimated that the economic value of their activities in various sectors of their economy is worth in excess of £40 billion per year. Mr Speaker, I would like to challenge the academia and research institutions in Ghana to conduct an economic impact assessment of volunteerism on our national economy in order to mirror the true value of volunteerism on our national economy and allow us to better appreciate the worth of volunteerism. Mr Speaker, the Government of Ghana in the National Youth Policy captures volunteerism as a tool for developing active citizens, fostering national cohesion and creating opportunities for skill development and application among young people. According to the policy, to achieve this goal, Government in collaboration with other stakeholders is expected to take the following measures: Allocate resources to youth volunteerism Facilitate private sector support for youth volunteerism Include youth volunteerism in all levels of the educational pro- grammes Inculcate the spirit of volunteerism and patriotism and Develop leadership potential among the youth through volunteerism. Mr Speaker, without such policy interventions to promote volunteerism in Ghana, especially with the engagement of young people in volunteerism, the spirit of volunteerism and patriotism remain on the decline, with our country losing out on valuable man hours, energy and enthusiasm that should have contributed heavily to national development and a more resourceful and peaceful country. Mr Speaker, volunteerism is a key catalyst to transforming economies but this is a highly untapped area in Ghana. Volunteerism helps build the physical and mental wellbeing of the youth. It offers work experience, improves access to employment, develops a problem solving attitude in the youth and encourages them to commit themselves to nation building. Mr Speaker, volunteerism has become a very essential tool in the drive for national development in recent times. A rising nation such as Ghana can no longer take this subject lightly. The act of volunteerism equips young people with knowledge, skills and understanding to play an effective role in public life. Indeed, volunteerism is an expression of active citizenship. It builds social capital; contributes to social cohesion and solidarity; provides valuable economic benefits to society and enables individuals to realise their potential. Mr Speaker, as a nation and as law makers, there is the need to consider putting in place a national policy framework for volunteerism which among other things should include honouring our senior citizens. Mr Speaker, on assumption of office, I engaged several youth groups and relevant stakeholders in youth affairs to find out how best we can develop a national policy on volunteerism for the consideration of this august House. Mr Speaker, I wish to use this occasion to call on Hon Members of this House to consider promoting volunteerism among the youth in their constituencies, knowing very well the immense role it plays in national development. Mr Speaker, I thank you for this opportunity.

Speaker
Mr I. K. Asiamah

Speaker
Ms Sophia Karen Ackuaku (NDC -- Domeabra/Obom)

Mr Speaker, thank you very much for granting me the opportunity to make abatement in commemoration of Ghana's 57th Republic Day which falls on Saturday, 1st July, this year. Mr Speaker, after decades of struggle by our Founding Fathers to liberate the then Gold Coast from British rule, Ghana finally gained Independence on the 6th of March 1957. However, the liberation process was not complete until July 1st 1960 when the last Governor-General of the Gold Coast, Lord Listowel left the shores of our dear country and Her Majesty, the Queen of Britain, ceased to be the Head of State. Indeed, it was a day that affirmed our true independence and was a great joy and pride for all Ghanaians. Mr Speaker, our hopes and aspirations, as a people was to use the newly acquired self-determination to secure economic independence to the status of a modern State. It has been sixty (60) years now, and introspective reflection of whether our aspirations have been met still remains a doubt in the minds of many Ghanaians. In spite of this doubt, we have achieved some level of socio-economic and political development, amidst the mirage of challenges we are still confronted with as a country. One of such achievements has been the strengthening of our democracy through the organisation of free and fair elections, especially under this Fourth Republican Constitution. Our sitting here today as representatives of the people is indeed a testimony of this feat. Ghana's economy since 1960 has certainly grown bigger and stronger over the years as manifested by the improvement in the standard of living of our people and increase in infrastructural base. Mr Speaker, despite these achieve-ments, it has also confirmed that the journey has not always been smooth and definitely, the task of building our nation is still not over. We have faced numerous challenges along the way. Our democracy is still challenged by inefficiencies in public service delivery, extreme partisanship on public policy discourses, poverty, exclusion and deprivation among others. Mr Speaker, these notwithstanding, theenormous human and natural resources we are endowed with provide us with a great opportunity to tackle the challenges we face and to attain the heights reached by our compatriots in South Korea, China, Japan and Thailand. Mr Speaker, this requires that we rekindle the self-determination, selfless- ness and patriotism which enabled our forebearers to attain independence and subsequently got us completely free from the colonial rule. Mr Speaker, let me re- echo that without these hallmarks, the prosperous nation our Founding Fathers envisioned for us can never come into fruition. Mr Speaker, our developmental aspirations as a Republic could take much longer years to accomplish if majority of our women are left out in the decision-making process of this country. While we celebrate appointments like Her Ladyship, Justice Theodora Georgina Wood as former Chief Justice, Marietta Brew Appiah-Opong and Betty Mould Iddrisu as former Ministers for Justice and Attorney-General, Mrs Charlotte Osei as current Chairperson of the Electoral Commission (EC) and the recent appointment of Her Ladyship, Justice Sophia Abena Boafoa Akuffo as Chief Justice, I believe more of such key positions should be given to women. Mr Speaker, Ghana's Republic Day is also one of the exclusive days of the year which is observed as Senior Citizens' Day. It is a time when senior citizens who have contributed to the building of a strong Republic in the various disciplines of national development are honoured. I would like to join Ghanaians today to say Ayekoo to our gallant senior citizens, whose efforts have brought us this far, for it is said that “a nation which does not honour its heroes is not worth dying for”. As we celebrate our dear senior citizens, Mr Speaker, we must reflect on the need to continuously provide the requisite social infrastructure to support them. We need to urgently strengthen our social protection initiatives such as free health care for the aged among others. The Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) should improve its operations to reduce the drudgery our retirees encounter to receive their pension allowances. Our dear retirees have served this great country immensely and therefore need to be acknowledged appropriately. Mr Speaker, with respect to the up-and- coming generation, I urge that we protect and prepare them for the great task at hand. I plead that efforts at halting the canker of child labour are intensified to ensure that our children are out of the streets and other places other than the classrooms where they can be trained to become responsible citizens. Mr Speaker, in fact, many of the youth do not know why we celebrate Republic Day. As a result, many of them use the occasion to go to beaches and indulge in some acts of immoral practices. I wish to use this opportunity to call on the media houses to dedicate enough airtime to educate the youth on the rationale for the Republic Day and inculcate in them the spirit of selflessness and patriotism. I wish my fellow Ghanaians a happy anniversary. Let us utilise the opportunity afforded us in observing this year's anniversary to rekindle our national spirit, believe in ourselves and resolve now, more than ever before, to build our nation free from poverty, illiteracy, ill health, crime, violence and conflict among others.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Thank you very much, Hon Member, for this able Statement. In the course of this debate, the Hon First Deputy Speaker will take the Chair. Hon Member?

Speaker
Mr Frank Annoh-Dompreh (NPP-- Nsawam-Adoagyiri)

Mr Speaker, I thank you for your kindness. I rise to support the Hon Members who made the two Statements and to say that Republic Day has been celebrated on

Speaker
Mr Frank Annoh-Dompreh (NPP-- Nsawam-Adoagyiri)

MR FIRST DEPUTY SPEAKER

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Hon Member, it is a rule that during discussion of Statements, one avoids controversy. Please, speak to the text of the Statement you are contributing to.

Speaker
Mr Annoh-Dompreh

Mr Speaker, I take a cue from you. So, “One Village, One Dam” is admirable -- [Uproar.] These are solid policy initiatives.

Speaker
Some Hon Members

rose

Speaker
Mr Annoh-Dompreh

Mr Speaker, these are solid initiatives that --

Speaker
Mr Bernard Ahiafor

On a point of order -- Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity. I come under Standing Order 70(2) which states that: with your permission; “A Minister of State may make an announcement or a statement of government policy. Any such announcement or statement should be limited to facts which it is deemed necessary to make known to the House and should not be designed to provoke debate at this stage. Any Member may comment briefly, subject to the same limitation.” Mr Speaker, the Statement was made by --

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Hon Member, if you would want to raise the issue, I believe you should be going to Standing Order 71-- Ceremonial Speeches. That is what we are dealing with, speeches to commemorate special events or occasions.

Speaker
Mr Ahiafor

Very well. Mr Speaker, this ceremonial Statement is made by a Minister of State. Mr Speaker, brief comments on ceremonial Statements made by Ministers of State should not generate debate. It is supposed to be limited to matters of fact. What the Hon Member for Nsawam- Adoagyiri is doing is to generate debate. He is talking about non-existent projects which are basically campaign promises made by the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Government and H. E. Nana Akufo-Addo during the electioneering campaign. He is talking about “One Village, One Dam.” Mr Speaker, comments on Statements should not talk about those things and the Statement which was delivered itself has no reference to what the Hon Member is talking about.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Hon Member, you have a concern which I had just drawn the Hon Member's attention to. But your objection had no basis and it is overruled. Hon Member for Nsawam-Adoagyiri, please, kindly respect the ruling I made earlier and avoid controversies.

Speaker
Mr Annoh-Dompreh

Mr Speaker, I am grateful for your kind ruling. So, these audacious policies, “One District, One Factory”, for example -- [Uproar] It is something that we need to support as a nation. Mr Speaker, 57 years down the line, let us show that in the sub-region, among the comity of nations, Ghana is indeed the first country to have gained Indepen- dence. Mr Speaker, there are a few things though, that we regret. We need to improve upon our punctuality. At social events, more often than not, we tend to go late. It is something we would need to look at. It may sound negligible, but it has overarching impact and effects on the progress and development of our economy; it is key and cannot be doubted. Mr Speaker, again discipline -- Today, environmental indiscipline has taken over this country. We thank God that the kind leadership of His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the President, is blazing the trail and personalising the fight against galamsey. Mr Speaker, tolerance -- For a long time, we have enjoyed religious tolerance in our country. If we look at the sub- region, in close by la Cote d'Ivoire and next-door Benin, incidents of political intolerance and ethnic clashes have always been reported. Ghana has stood tall in the face of very appealing invitations. We have not yielded and we need to celebrate this. It is something I believe we are proud of as legislators. Mr Speaker, the normalisation of negativity is unbecoming. For example, extreme corruption and reported corruption cases are taking over our headlines and the likes. What are we doing as a nation to make corruption and corrupt practices unattractive? I am happy the President has mooted the idea of an Independent Prosecutor. I invite the Minority to join us when the time comes, to pass very good laws to support this idea. We could then have a truly Independent Prosecutor to ensure that corrupt practices, politicians and leaders are dealt with.

Speaker
Mr Annoh-Dompreh

Speaker
Mr Annoh-Dompreh

Speaker
Mr Emmanuel Armah-Kofi Buah (NDC -- Ellembelle)

Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity. I thank the Hon Minister for Youth and Sports for the ably made Statement, and Hon Sophia Ackuaku for making that very important Statement. Mr Speaker, as a country, we have a lot to be proud of. On our 57th Anniversary, we could look back at all the great landmarks and the progress we have made. We began very well; the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to gain Independence. We started to lay a solid foundation for our industrial take-off -- the Akosombo Dam, industries, the Tema Motorway and Tema Oil Refinery. Mr Speaker, in the 1960s, we laid a solid educational foundation and Ghana became a hub for educating Africans and for African liberalisation. Mr Speaker, but a lot happened. We began a turning point on 24th February, 1966, where there was a change in Government, and it continued. Mr Speaker, we had turbulent times along the way, but we continued to get back together as a country and tried to make sure we went on the right path. Mr Speaker, as we celebrate our 57th Anniversary, we have a lot of questions to ask and answer together. We must reflect on the issues that confront us today, the threat of terrorism and how ready we are as a country; the issue of unemployment and the strategies to deal with it; how to empower and assure our teeming youth that there is hope for all of them; and the issue of environmental degradation and how we could collectively work to protect our environment, water bodies and our future that is clearly at stake. Mr Speaker, we must understand that the stakes are too high for us as a country; the issue of our own identity as a country -- on this occasion, we ask ourselves who a Ghanaian is? Mr Speaker, just last week in the news, we were told that some Nigerian had a Ghanaian passport and engaged in illegal activities. So, we ask, how easy is it to get a Ghanaian passport? What steps could we take about this in the 21st Century and dangerous age where the issue of identity is very important? What are we doing collectively to ensure that multiple identifications are all consolidated and that we could be very sure that when we say one is a Ghanaian, we are sure that one indeed is? Mr Speaker, those are the challenging issues. Mr Speaker, but on this occasion, we must also confront the issue of our politics. We must, however difficult, change our politics. I agree completely that our politics must be constructive. We must not be selective. When we see issues that are very important and speak about them, we have to agree that if the issue has to do with contamination of fuel that would affect ordinary Ghanaians, we must collectively support and address it. It should not be partisan. We must collectively make sure that the things we say are truthful, kind and factual. In our politics -- Mr Speaker, I completely agree with the Hon Members who spoke that we must do a lot of things to ginger the spirit of volunteerism in our communities. We must be our brother's keeper on this occasion. I believe as we do that as a country, we could then assure our children and grandchildren that there is hope for Ghana, as was envisioned by our Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah and his very patriotic leaders at the time. Mr Speaker, a Ghana that would be a black star of Africa, which would ensure opportunity and justice for all. The country where the rule of law is so guaranteed and we are sure of fair play at all levels. That is the country we yearn for on this very important solemn Republic Day. Mr Speaker, on this occasion, I believe that as a House and as Ghanaians, we must begin to reflect and ask the question. The world is moving so fast and what are we doing to make sure that our structures and institutions are modernised to meet this fast growing world? Those are the challenges that confront us and I believe that the Statement is so important. On this occasion, I would call on all Hon Members to support the Hon Member who first made the Statement and join hands in celebrating our Republic Day. Mr Speaker, thank you for these few words.

Speaker
Mr Kwame Anyimadu-Antwi (NPP -- Asante Akim Central)

Mr Speaker, thank you. Indeed, Ghana is of age 57 years and we have had a lot of experiences. In supporting the Statement made by the two Hon Members, I would want to draw our attention to the patriotic song that was composed by the late Dr Ephraim Amu entitled, Yen Ara Asaase Ni… to wit, This is our land.

Speaker
Mr Kwame Anyimadu-Antwi (NPP -- Asante Akim Central)

Speaker
Mr Emmanuel K. Bedzrah (NDC -- Ho West)

Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity. Mr Speaker, I commend the Hon Members who made the Statements -- my two Hon Colleagues; Hon Minister for Youth and Sports and Culture and Hon Sophia Ackuaku for bringing to the fore these commemorative Statements about our Republic and the Republican celebration. Mr Speaker, 57 years ago, some gallant men and women decided to take their destinies into their own hands and made sure that we changed our nation from an independent one to a Republican status. Mr Speaker, the Republican status did not just come on a silver platter but they fought for it. We all know the history of this nation, how people died as a result of gaining Independence and for that matter, gained the Republican status. Our cultural values of this country have drastically changed. We know that we used to have respect for the elderly and 1st July every year has been set aside for the elderly to dine with the President and the various heads of the District Assemblies. For this reason, on Saturday which would be the 1st of July, our elderly folks would dine with the President and the various heads of the District Assemblies. We must give that respect to our elders. It would surprise all of us to know that when one enters a bus or public transport and young people who are supposed to give their seats to the elders, rather sit down and the elderly stand. That is not the culture of Ghanaians. Mr Speaker, if we would really want to move on as a nation, we must respect our elderly folks. The demographics of this nation have moved on. The life expectancy of this nation has moved from 40 years in the early 1960's to 61 years as of the year 2014. Therefore today, one would be a young person but tomorrow one would also grow to that age, and if one does not give respect to the elderly, it would come to their turn and the young people at that time would also not give them that respect. The culture of volunteerism, as the Hon Minister has mentioned is no longer there. When we go to our constituencies and communities, we expect the communities to help us initiate projects and they expect us to pay for those projects. Mr Speaker, it is not right. Sometimes our small Common Fund that has been given to us, we would want to initiate projects and we would want people to come and help with those projects, but the spirit of volunteerism has lost its weight in our lives. Therefore, the youth are not prepared to help again; they would want us to pay for it. Mr Speaker, as a House, we must rise against this and ask our leaders to begin to mention it in our churches and mosques. When we go to the fields, we should also mention that this nation was built as a result of people laying down their lives -- people sacrificed their lives for this nation as a result of volunteerism. Had the late Dr Kwame Nkrumah not laid down his life, Ghana would not have had Independence today [Hear! Hear!] -- as well as the other people who helped -- to attain Independence. Therefore, we must lay down our lives. Some of us laid down our lives for our people and that is why we are Hon Members of Parliament today.

Speaker
Mr Emmanuel K. Bedzrah (NDC -- Ho West)

Speaker
Mr Emmanuel K. Bedzrah (NDC -- Ho West)

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Hon Member, you said that we had laid down our lives otherwise we would not be here. How could we die and still be here?

Speaker
Mr Bedzrah

Mr Speaker, we are not dead. We sacrificed. [Laughter.] Mr Speaker, let us not ask what this country would do for us but let us ask what we could do for this country, so that we could leave a footprint when we are no longer on this earth. Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Hon Member for Effutu?

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Is the politician not a Ghanaian?

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

If you would want a court contempt, bring yourself and see. [Laughter.]

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Hon B. T. Baba? I have seen you for a long while. I would give you the opportunity.

Speaker
Mr Benson Tongo Baba (NDC -- Talensi)

Mr Speaker, I would also want to congratulate the Hon Members who made the Statements and to also congratulate all our senior citizens on the occasion of our Republic Day. Mr Speaker, I am particularly excited by the Statement made by the Hon Minister for Youth and Sports, concerning volunteerism. Volunteers all over the world are the people who make it happen, especially, in sporting activities. At the Olympic Games, volunteers of all ages, from 16 years up to the oldest person are involved in voluntary activities. The cost of their activities to support the host nation cannot be quantified, because it runs into millions of dollars. Mr Speaker, this country has a lot of potentials, and over the years, it appears our spirit of volunteerism has waned down. Even in many activities organised by our various political parties, if we do not bring money, it would not see the light of day. Mr Speaker, do we restrict this important day to only a soccer match between Kumasi Asante Kotoko and Accra Hearts of Oak and the lunch that is offered to the senior citizens? In my opinion, we must move beyond that, so that we could inculcate a programme that would encourage the spirit of volunteerism. We need to carve a programme alongside these activities that I have mentioned early on, so that our youth, together with the elderly, would be engaged in voluntary activities at the various communities where they live. Mr Speaker, I also believe the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) should be empowered on this occasion, to also do a lot of education so that we can improve upon our voluntary spirit. If we are able to address this, it means that a lot of economic activities could be generated by the Hon Members of Parliament and the District Assemblies to include a lot of our people. Mr Speaker, it is high time that Hon Members of this House also contributed towards making the day a glandiose one. We have HelpAge Ghana and the Veterans Association of Ghana. What are we doing to support them on this occasion? I would want to appeal to you, Mr Speaker, that this House should consider in the near foreseeable future to do something that would be monumental to support HelpAge Ghana and the Veterans Association of Ghana.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Hon Member for Mpohor?

Speaker
Mr Alex Kofi Agyekum (NPP -- Mpohor)

I thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to add my voice to what the Hon Members who contributed pre- viously said. Mr Speaker, I would also like to thank the Hon Minister for the point he raised to commemorate the Republic Day, especially, on volunteerism. As we are all aware, volunteerism, to me, is an altruistic act in which individuals decide to spend their time, money, resources, talents and experience for the benefit of the whole society. But as the Hon Members have rightly mentioned, these days, all these things have died out. Mr Speaker, perhaps, there are some causes, so we need to look at them critically. We cannot expect to have different results and expect volunteerism as happened in the yesteryears, if we keep on remaining in the state of affairs as we find ourselves now. We all know that in these days whatever one tells people, even in our various communities to go and do, they would tell him, “With this one, we are waiting for the government to come and do it”. Mr Speaker, we must look at the underlying reasons. If what is allocated to District Assemblies are meant for sanitation and fumigation, but at the end of the day, such moneys are not properly accounted for, it gets to the individuals in the communities. So, they know that their tax moneys which are supposed to be used for a particular thing has been embezzled. The Auditor-General comes in to indict individuals and only God knows when such moneys would be collected back for the State. Mr Speaker, these are some kinds of disincentives to the taxpayer. I am not holding brief for them to stop the kind of voluntary work they do in the community. However, it is important to look at some of these things. They are the underlying reasons. Mr Speaker, I am also happy that the Hon Minister who is at the centre of inculcating into our youth some of this spirit of patriotism had outlined a number of policies which would bring out the talents in our youths and at the same time also start instilling these things into them at a very early stage. So, if we start the education at all levels as the Hon Minister said, we expect that, somehow, if we the adults have not been able to achieve that, those who are coming after us might take up the mantle and see to it that they die a little for our country. Mr Speaker, there is also the need for us to show examples as leadership. One speaker said that we need to do something

Speaker
Mr Alex Kofi Agyekum (NPP -- Mpohor)

in concrete terms to the HelpAge Ghana and the Veterans Association of Ghana. We can go beyond that by also ensuring that, where the first gentleman of the land promises that we are going to put 10 per cent of our salaries aside, we need to collect them and account for them properly, so that the citizens of Ghana would see with their naked eyes what has come out of the 10 per cent that was deducted from the Ministers and government appointee's salaries. This is the beginning of volunteerism; this is the beginning of patriotism. We must walk the talk. Mr Speaker, we need not come and sit here and give all these beautiful Statements, then when it comes to the practicality of it we are found wanting. Mr Speaker, so many of us have decided already, and it is about time a lot more of us go in for that, to show that leadership by example, Members of Parliament have taken the lead --

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Hon Member, wind up.

Speaker
Mr Agyekum

Mr Speaker, in winding up, I would state that in terms of government, we need to show a lot of commitment. If you look at the budgetary allocation to the Ministry of Youth and Sports, at least, we all know in clear terms that it was increased by almost 100 per cent. And we know that with the commitment and policy directives laid down by the Ministry, we can achieve something. We can start from our youth to build that sense of patriotism and love for our country, so that, in the not too distant future, we would all come here and say that, indeed, if one dies for the country, there would be a time for one to be rewarded. We would not only be remembered on Republic Day. Even in our lifetime, the country would find a programme to award us while we are alive. Mr Speaker, go to our various streets; names that are alien to this country. Can we not name those streets after our forebears, people who are alive and have contributed something to this country? We still have a lot of these streets. Our queenmothers, our chiefs and people who have --

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Hon Member, I asked you to wind up.

Speaker
Mr Agyekum

Mr Speaker, in conclu- sion, I thank you very much for the opportunity, and I thank the Hon Members who made the Statements for the insightful words.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Hon Members, I have been advised that we still have some Public Business, so, I would take the Leadership and bring the debate to a close.

Speaker
Mr James K. Avedzi (NDC-- Ketu North)

Thank you, Mr Speaker. I rise to contribute to the Statements presented by the Hon Minister for Youth and Sports and the Hon Member for Domeabra-Obom. On 30th June, 1960, the then Governor, Lord Listowell left the shores of this country, and that was the beginning of the end of the rule of Britain. Lord Listowell, who represented Queen Elizabeth II left the shores of this country, and Ghana became a Republican State. Mr Speaker, before we became a Republican State, we had our Indepen- dence in 1957 and three years after that, we became a Republican State. Now, 60 years after Independence, there are a number of questions that we need to ask ourselves; what is Independence? Independence is a situation where, as a country we would not depend on any other country or any other State for a number of things. One, for the running of the affairs of our country. If that is political independence, are we as a country politically independent? We have our Constitution; we have been holding our elections; we have our three arms of Government; we have our departments and agencies; we have our local governance system. So, to an extent, one could say that Ghana is politically independent. But the other type of independence which is economic, are we as a State economically independent? If we are economically independent, it means that we cannot depend on any other person, we cannot depend on any other State to provide our economic resources. But the question is, as a country, are we economically independent and if we are not, do we not believe that could also have an effect on our political independence? Mr Speaker, for instance, if you are not economically independent, when we cannot provide our own resources to fund the political organs of the country, then that could have an effect on the political independence as well. So, we might have the Constitution that established all the organs of State and the laws that established all the departments and agencies, but if we are not economically independent to provide resources for these organs of State, they cannot perform and for that matter, we cannot be said to be politically independent as well. Mr Speaker, as at December 2016, as a country, we had a public debt of GH¢122 billion, and six months down the line we have borrowed in addition to that GH¢122 billion. Mr Speaker, the Hon Annoh-Dompreh in his contribution alluded to the “One District, One Factory” project. It is a good statement and we hope that we could achieve that, but if we run to China to ask for US$19 billion to fulfil that, are we economically independent? That is the question we should be asking ourselves. Mr Speaker, it is a good thing to do. If we are able to generate our own resources to do it then we are both economically and politically independent. Mr Speaker, for the first quarter of 2017, the total budgeted revenue for this country was GH¢10.8 billion. That is what the Government budgeted to collect, but as at 31st March, 2017, at the end of the

Speaker
Mr James K. Avedzi (NDC-- Ketu North)

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Very well, that is the end of Statements. We would now move on to Public Business, Motion numbered 7 on the Order Paper.

Speaker
Mr James Klutse Avedzi

Mr Speaker, before I move the Motion, I would want to amend the Motion. The Report covers the two Motions on the Order Paper, so, I would want to amend Motion numbered 7 by adding “s” to the word “Report”, to make it “Reports”, then at the end add the following: “and the second half year ended 31st December 2015”.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Hon Member, if you take Motion numbered 7, on the Order Paper on line one, there is the word “Report”, and on line two also, there is the word “Report”. So, which of the two are you amending?

Speaker
Mr Avedzi

Mr Speaker, I am amending the “Report” in line two. The word “Report” in line two should be plural. Line one has “Report of the Committee”, which should be singular. [Interruptions.] Mr Speaker, the Report of the Auditor- General has two Reports, which we have combined into one Report from the Committee. The “Report” in line one should be singular, while the “Report” in line two should be made plural, because that refers to the Auditor-General's Report. Motion numbered 8 on the Order Paper would then go off completely.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Hon Member, is that the only amendment that you are making to Motion numbered 7 on the Order Paper?

Speaker
Mr Avedzi

Mr Speaker, at the end of the Motion, after June 2015, we would then add my amendment to it.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Hon Member, if you add that, then we would have a complete amendment, which may explain the doubts they have. So, complete the amendment.

Speaker
Mr Avedzi

Mr Speaker, therefore, the phrase: “and the second half year ended 31st December 2015” should be added to the ending of Motion numbered 7.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

So, Motion 7 would then read:

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

“That this Honourable House adopts the Report of the Public Accounts Committee on the Reports of the Auditor-General on the Statement of Foreign Exchange Receipts and Payments of the Bank of Ghana for the first half year ended 30th June 2015, and the second half year ended 31st December 2015.”

Speaker
Mr Avedzi

Exactly so, Mr Speaker.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

So, there is one Report covering two periods.

Speaker
Mr Frederick Opare-Ansah

rose

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Yes, Hon Member for Suhum?

Speaker
Mr Opare-Ansah

Mr Speaker, thank you. Mr Speaker, the Auditor-General submitted two different Reports which were presented to this House, and two separate referrals were made to the Committee. The Committee has duly dealt with these Reports and are now reporting back to this House. Mr Speaker, you would eventually put the Question to the House to be voted upon, whether we should adopt the Report. Why would they want us to answer that question? This is because there is the possibility that the House would decide to adopt one Report and not adopt the other, but we would have forced you to put only one Question, and that could pose a problem. Mr Speaker, I believe that they were given two assignments to undertake and that was to consider two separate Reports. We must debate those Reports separately and answer the Questions to be put by you on each Report separately. Thank you, Mr Speaker.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Yes, Hon Chairman of the Committee?

Speaker
Mr Avedzi

Mr Speaker, the Committee did actually work on the two Reports and has prepared a Report to cover the two Reports of the Auditor-General. This Report of the Committee contains the information or the recommendations and conclusions on the two Reports of the Auditor-General, that is for the first two half years -- first half in the second year. Mr Speaker, therefore, if we look at the conclusion of the Committee, we recommend that for the House to adopt the Report of the Committee on the Reports of the Auditor-General for the first half year and the second half year -- So, the issue about the possibility of the House to decide to adopt one of the Reports and not the other is also there. It is a matter of Mr Speaker putting the Question to cover that if the House decides to do that.

Speaker
Dr Mark Assibey-Yeboah

rose

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Yes, the Hon Member for New Juaben?

Speaker
Dr Assibey-Yeboah

Mr Speaker, I disagree. I would think the Committee's Report could be one as he suggests but then we should take two different Motions. The Report covers the first half year ending 30th June, 2015 and the second one covers the second half year, ending 31st December, 2015.

Speaker
Dr Assibey-Yeboah

Speaker
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

rose

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Hon Majority Leader, I would listen to you.

Speaker
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

Mr Speaker, I see two Motions relating to two Reports of the Auditor-General. Mr Speaker, the Committee, having considered the two, have combined them into one Report. As far as I am concerned, to the extent that the substance is about the same thing, we could do that. However, if any Hon Member notices something untoward in any particular part of the Report, the attention of the House could be drawn to that and we could, if we have to approve, do so subject to maybe further information provided on the matter that the Hon Member has raised. Mr Speaker, if a President nominates persons for appointment to various places and positions as in ministerial appoint- ments, referral is made to us and we consider maybe three, four or five nominees in one Report, but we consider them separately when we come to the debate. And if the House is of the opinion that one person should not be approved out of the five that are covered by a single Report, we so take such a position, but nothing then would prevent us from considering the entirety of that Report. I would think that to the extent that the issues remain same, they could be in the same Report for us to consider except that if Hon Members decide to, in their contribution, limit themselves to various parts of the Report, that could also be permissible.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

I believe the first thing we ought to do is to adopt the amendments that have been proposed so I would put the Question. Question put and amendment agreed to.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

The Motion is that the House adopts a Report which is a consolidation of two referrals to the House. So, I would allow the Hon Chairman of the Committee to move the Motion and then we would discuss whatever issues we have after it has been moved and seconded.

Speaker
Mr Avedzi

Mr Speaker, I would want to amend the last page of the Report from the second to the last line where the Standing Order number reference should be Standing Order 162 not 165.

Speaker
Mr Afenyo-Markin

rose

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Hon Chairman, hold on. Hon Afenyo-Markin?

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Hon Member, I believe you wanted to insert subclause (2) because what you may be referring to is Standing Order 165 (2) which

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Speaker
Mr Avedzi

Thank you, Mr Speaker.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Let the Hansard reflect the amendments. Your point is well noted.

Speaker
Mr Avedzi

Mr Speaker, the amendment is add subclause (2) to Standing Order 165. It would be Standing Order 165 (2) -- [Interruption.] Yes, Mr Speaker has given me the leave to do that.

Speaker
Mr Avedzi

Mr Speaker, what happened was an oversight, not done in error. It was an oversight. So I take --

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

An oversight that resulted in an error, but leave has been granted to amend.

Speaker
Mr Avedzi

Thank you, Mr Speaker. As I said, the various revenue items have been captured in detail in the Report as well as the payment items also captured in the Report. Statement of Foreign Exchange Receipts and Payments of BoG for 2015

Speaker
Chairman of the Committee (Mr James K. Avedzi)

Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that this Honourable House adopts the Report of the Public Accounts Committee on the Report of the Auditor- General on the Statement of Foreign Exchange Receipts and Payments of the Bank of Ghana for the first half year ended 30th June 2015 and second half year ended 31st December, 2015. Mr Speaker, in so doing, I present your Committee's Report Introduction The Reports of the Auditor-General on the Statement of Foreign Exchange Receipts and Payments of the Bank of Ghana for the half year ended 30th June, 2015 and 31st December, 2015 were laid in the House on Tuesday, 14th March, 2017. The Reports were referred to the Public Accounts Committee for examination and report, pursuant to article 184(3) of the 1992 Constitution and Standing Order 165 (2) of Parliament. The Committee conducted a public hearing on Tuesday, 25th April, 2017 to deliberate on the Reports. In examining these Reports, the Committee was assisted by the Auditor- General, Mr Daniel Dormelevo, officials from the Audit Service, the Deputy Governor of Bank of Ghana, Dr Paul Johnson Asiama and other officials of the Bank of Ghana. The Committee expresses its profound gratitude to the officials for the assistance. References The Committee referred to the following relevant documents: 1. The 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana 2. The Standing Orders of the Parliament of Ghana 3. The Bank of Ghana Act, 2002 (Act 612) 4. The Foreign Exchange Act, 2006 Act 723 5. The Minerals and Mining Law, PNDC Law 152. Background The Bank of Ghana is obliged to submit to the Auditor-General for audit on half year basis, a Statement of Foreign Exchange Receipts and Payments in accordance with article 184 of the 1992 Constitution. Under article 184(3) of the 1992 Constitution, the Auditor-General is also enjoined to audit the Statement and submit his report to Parliament. Pursuant to the above mentioned constitutional obligations, the Auditor- General conducted an audit on the Foreign Exchange Receipts and Payments of the Bank of Ghana for the half year ended 30th June, 2015 and 31 st December, 2015 and submitted his reports to the House. Audit objective The audit was to obtain reasonable assurance that the statement of foreign exchange receipts and payments is free from material misstatements and omissions. Foreign exchange receipts and payments receipts The foreign exchange receipts are foreign currencies surrendered to the Bank of Ghana in exchange for cedis. The main sources of foreign exchange receipts or inflows to Bank of Ghana during the audit period under review were captured under the following classification: 1. Cocoa receipts 2. Gold, receipts 3. Manganese receipts 4. Oil receipts 5. Capital receipts in the form of loans and grants 6. Invisible receipts derived from the sale of travelers' cheques, interests, commissions, invest- ments on treasury bills, interest on Bank International Settlement (BIS), investment interest and forex purchases. The receipts were normally from export receipt surrendered to the Bank of Ghana for cedis, loans and other capital receipts surrendered by Government of Ghana to the bank for cedis, interest and commission earned on foreign investment accounts, treasury operations and foreign currency purchases. Payments The foreign exchange payments of the Bank of Ghana on the other hand consist of payments in foreign currency by Bank of Ghana in exchange for its cedi equivalent. The payments during the audit period were classified under the following broad categories: 1. Visible import payments consist of oil, non-oil as well as other visible import payments. 2. Capital payments involve loan repayments to bilateral and multilateral institutions.

Speaker
Chairman of the Committee (Mr James K. Avedzi)

Speaker
Chairman of the Committee (Mr James K. Avedzi)

Speaker
Chairman of the Committee (Mr James K. Avedzi)

Speaker
Chairman of the Committee (Mr James K. Avedzi)

Speaker
Chairman of the Committee (Mr James K. Avedzi)

Speaker
Chairman of the Committee (Mr James K. Avedzi)

Speaker
Chairman of the Committee (Mr James K. Avedzi)

Speaker
Chairman of the Committee (Mr James K. Avedzi)

Speaker
Chairman of the Committee (Mr James K. Avedzi)

Speaker
Chairman of the Committee (Mr James K. Avedzi)

Speaker
Chairman of the Committee (Mr James K. Avedzi)

Speaker
Dr Assibey-Yeboah

rose

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Hon Member for New Juaben South, do you have a point of order?

Speaker
Dr Assibey-Yeboah

Mr Speaker, I was trying to catch your eye but the Hon Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee quoted article 184 (2) (b) and then, sought to interpret that provision in the Constitution. I thought this would lie with the Supreme Court, but he stated categorically that the interpretation of article 184 (2) (b) is that, going forward, the Auditor-General would submit half-yearly report and then one full report for the entirety of the year.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Hon Member, what did he do wrong?

Speaker
Dr Assibey-Yeboah

Mr Speaker, he should desist from interpreting --

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Every one of us is entitled to read the 1992 Constitution or any document we work with and offer how he or she understands it. The Supreme Court comes in only when there is a dispute and we cannot resolve it. Otherwise, we work with the document daily and anytime we pick it, we are guided by what we read. It is only when there is substantial disagreement that you offer that disagreement on the meaning for interpretation. But certainly, even if he did, he did not breach any of our rules and therefore, you are not entitled to intervene as in accordance with our Standing Orders. You are out of order.

Speaker
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

Mr Speaker, I think the issue raised by the Hon Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee must engage the attention of all of us critically.

Speaker
Mr Speaker, this is because article 184(2) provides that

“The Bank of Ghana shall, not later than three months— (a) after the end of the first six month of its financial year; and (b) after the end of its financial year; submit a report to the Auditor-General for audit, a statement of its foreign exchange receipts and payments or transfers in and outside Ghana”. Mr Speaker, notice the punctuation there; it is a semicolon -- [Laughter] -- It does not flow and that should tell you that it is required for that part to be covered and then, at the end, we do the combination. That is my understanding. He is entitled to his own understanding but he cannot force his understanding on us. Mr Speaker, in my considered opinion, his understanding in this case is wrong.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Hon Chairman?

Speaker
Mr Avedzi

Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, the Hon Majority Leader says that there is a semi-colon and I agree. That semi-colon tells you that the Reports must be separate. The first half-year should be six months and the second one is after the end of its financial year. Financial year is a full twelve months. And that second report should be the entire year's report. They should be two but not six months each. It should be six months and twelve months. That is the meaning. The first one should be after the end of the first six months, we agree. The second one should be after the end of the full year. That does not mean that the second year should also be another six months. However, he said that it should be six months each and I said it should be six months and 12 months.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Hon Chairman, if you are done, you may resume your seat. Hon Member for Suhum? Mr Frederick Opare-Ansah Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, it is clear that the issue raised by the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is cracking heads here. It is because of the choice of words in the Report; “that is their interpretation.”

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Thank you very much. My powers here do not include the power of interpretation of the Constitution. I understand that the Chairman presented a Report of the Committee. If the Report was to recommend that henceforth, the Bank of Ghana should report one half year and for the second half year, the report should incorporate the first half year, then that is the recommendation of the Committee to the House. If that is not the Report of the Committee, then whatever he said, I would take as his understanding. The interpretation as used in the Constitution is one that should have the power to be enforced. If that is not a recommendation of the Committee, it is his understanding and he is entitled to state it as it is.

Speaker
Mr Avedzi

Mr Speaker, the issue the Committee wanted to convey is exactly what you have put across; that the Committee is of the view that the two reports should not be six months each. The first report should be six months up to June and the second report should incorporate the first half- year to make it a full year report. That is the understanding of the Committee and what the Committee wants them to do. It is a recommendation of the Committee and it is left to the House to decide.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Now, I would listen to the Hon Ranking Member.

Speaker
Mr Alex K. Agyekum (NPP -- Mpohor)

Mr Speaker, the Hon Ranking Member and his deputy are all not present at the moment. So, with your leave, I would like to --

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Are you a member of the Committee?

Speaker
Mr Agyekum

Yes, Mr Speaker.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Please, proceed.

Speaker
Mr Agyekum

Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion ably moved by the Chairman of the Committee. In doing so, I would crave your indulgence to make three comments. The first one is on paragraph 7.5 and that is in respect of under reporting by mining companies. The Report indicated that the Bank of Ghana officials gave an explanation which has been captured. However, if you look at paragraph 7.6, the explanation they gave on “collapsed” is there. If you have a situation where your projection could have a variance of 470 per cent to 1,103.40 per cent, what kind of study would it be? Mr Speaker, at the Committee level, we did not take kindly to that because economic management is basically about monetary and fiscal policies. So, if the projections of those mandated to handle that aspect could be in the range of 470 per cent and 1,103.40 per cent, then it means that straightaway, the management of our monetary system is out of gear. By the assurances they gave, it was important that this Committee monitored that they set up a mechanism like they promised, which would independently monitor them. This is to ensure that we do not just take the projections that they give us as the gospel truth and use it to compute whatever we need to compute as the gold receipts for the year, only for us to arrive at a variation that is about 1103 per cent. That is quite unacceptable. Mr Speaker, apart from that, we should also look at the explanation given for the bauxite receipt that was conspicuously missing in their report. We believe that such conspicuous non-inclusion would not be repeated. This is because it is clear that they had some kind of production and therefore, needed to capture it for us to get a clear picture of our receipts. Mr Speaker, with these few comments, I second the Motion. Question proposed.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Hon Member for Lambussie/Karni, I have given you the floor to discuss the Report. Kindly proceed with the discussion of the Report.

Speaker
Mr E. K. Dery

Mr Speaker, about the variance, it is not only the huge nature of 470 per cent that is the case. However, the inaccuracy of this variance has a damning effect on the economy. It could affect the stability of the local currency, the cedi, and also government planning. This is because if you gave an inaccurate Report, the government might depend on whatever you projected and base a plan on that, which could affect planning. Mr Speaker, we also talked about the list of commercial dealer banks. We requested for the number of banks. Dr Paul Asiama mentioned that there would be more than 27 dealer banks.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Hon Member, are you aware of how much receipts that had to be included and are not included? This is because we are now talking about what has been reported on. As for the benefits of shea butter, I believe we may get the opportunity to discuss it on another day, but kindly restrict yourself to the Committee's Report.

Speaker
Mr E. K. Dery

Mr Speaker, I am very much aware of the efforts that were placed on shea butter in the previous administration and I would want to suggest that the current Government should follow the same trend. Mr Speaker, as I speak now, there is a shea butter factory in Buipe. The research department of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) came out two years ago that there is a variety that can grow within three years [Interruption.] -- it was omitted in the Report and I made a categorical emphasis

--

Speaker
Mr Richard Acheampong

rose

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Yes, Hon Member?

Speaker
Mr R. Acheampong

Mr Speaker, this is a House of records -- we do not live in a magical world.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Hon Member, please, speak to the Report.

Speaker
Mr E. K. Dery

Mr Speaker, the Hon Member is not aware that in the Northern Region, one does not necessarily have to close his or her eye to count trees. Mr Speaker, I would emphasise on the Report simply because when we looked at it, we could not tell the position in which shea butter or cotton was placed. Even the Report, the US$41 million bauxite was put under “Non Export Product”. One would not even be able to tell what value it constitutes to give the US$41 million and the rest. Someone may say shea butter is under cocoa but that is not the case. We would want to know exactly how much shea butter gives to this country. It should stand on its own. How much does cotton give? These are all foreign exchange receipts which earn foreign currency. We would want to know how they stand so that each of us here would be able to tell how much shea butter gives to Ghana. Mr Speaker, I believe that if we place more emphasis on shea butter and take good care of the trees -- they are wild trees and would need fumigation and spraying just as cocoa is sprayed.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Hon Member, please, wind up.

Speaker
Mr E. K. Dery

Mr Speaker, when the shea butter trees are sprayed, I believe they would give better yields and better income would be earned and it would also engage a lot of people in the Northern Region to do better business. Mr Speaker, with cotton, any person who walked around the Northern Region heard about --

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Hon Member, I understand you to be saying that the discussion is irrelevant to the matter before us.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

In that instance, your objection is upheld. Hon Member, please, speak to the Report. I have heard all the virtues you would have to show about shea butter.

Speaker
Mr E. K. Dery

Mr Speaker, I had to do so because of the exclusion of the two items in the Report and I would want individual items to be included in the next Report.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Hon Member, your Committee should have made that observation for us to discuss it. So far, the Report did not mention shea butter and it is legitimate for you to say that there are some earnings that were to be reported upon but that should have been discussed at the Committee level so that your Committee Report would capture it. Hon Member, for now, you are bound to speak to the Report that is before you and so, I would be grateful if you would stick to it so that we could make progress.

Speaker
Mr E. K. Dery

Mr Speaker, it is important to adopt this Report, but as I mentioned, it is equally important that we take a very serious look at it in our next Report.

Speaker
Mr E. K. Dery

Speaker
Mr E. K. Dery

Mr Speaker, I did not say it for nothing -- I have mentioned it several times and for four years, we never had it and it has never been part of any of the reports. Mr Speaker, I believe it is important that in the next report, those issues should be indicated clearly from the BoG to the Auditor-General and to the Report. We could not have included that in our Report because it was conspicuously missing from the Auditor-General's Report and I raised it at the Committee level. Mr Speaker, I support the adoption of the Report.

Speaker
Mr Patrick Yaw Boamah (NPP -- Okaikoi Central)

Mr Speaker, I beg to support the Motion on the floor of the House and in so doing, I would want to refer to paragraph 7.7 on “Bauxite Export Receipts”.

Speaker
Mr Speaker, with your permission, I beg to quote

“Ghana Bauxite Company has 100 per cent retention agreement with Government of Ghana and therefore is under no obligation to surrender its foreign exchange earnings to Bank of Ghana”. Mr Speaker, who are the shareholders of the Ghana Bauxite Company? Mr Speaker, before I proceed, I would want to refer to article 184 (1) of the 1992 Constitution and with your permission, I beg to quote: “The Committee of Parliament responsible for financial measures shall monitor the foreign exchange receipts and payments or transfers of the Bank of Ghana in and outside Ghana and shall report on them to Parliament once in every six months”. Mr Speaker, in article 184 (4), it is stated and with your permission, I beg to quote: “Parliament shall debate the report of the Auditor-General and appoint, where necessary, in the public interest, a committee to deal with any matters arising from the report”. Mr Speaker, it is my submission that the good people of Ghana must know who the real owners of the Ghana Bauxite Company are. Secondly, for that committee to establish, and also recommend to review that 100 per cent retention of the Ghana Bauxite Company. Mr Speaker, this is because we always talk about a weak currency; companies like MTN, the mining companies and the oil companies transfer huge sums of moneys on a regular basis and we all know the impact of it on our currency. What is the central bank doing to manage these transfers so that we have a stronger currency? Mr Speaker, these are some of the matters that this public interest committee that I am advocating for must look into and make a good recommendation to the Minister for Finance and to the central Government, that the huge transfers, some of them unaccounted for -- Mr Speaker, the former Vice President attended an international conference in India and there was a discussion on the gold exports for Ghana. The figures that the Government of India quoted were different from what our Vice President quoted. It means that there is a problem with monitoring the export and receipt of our foreign exchange. It calls for a public debate and a good committee to review some of these reports that emanate from the central Bank to Parliament for their adoption. Mr Speaker, it is my prayer that a public interest committee be set up to look into this report from the committee, especially on Ghana Bauxite Company and why they were given a 100 per cent retention, only for them to tell the good people of Ghana that they have no business disclosing whatever amount is transferred outside this country.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Hon Member, before you proceed, did the Auditor-General annex a copy of the alleged Agreement to his report for your confirmation that indeed any such Agreement had been made with the bauxite company and that Parliament has ratified it or not?

Speaker
Mr Avedzi

Mr Speaker, no. They have not and I agree with the issue that was raised by Hon Patrick Yaw Boamah, that the exemption to these companies that they should not surrender their export earnings — We can go further to verify them because they were not part of the report of the Auditor-General on the report of the Bank of Ghana which was audited by the Auditor-General. I agree with him that we need to go beyond that and do those verifications.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Hon Member, please finish your contribution and —

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Hon Member, the way you presented, made it appear as if it is money that is missing. But here, you are talking about a report on that transaction which was not included in the report of the Auditor- General. Is that not it?

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Since you have drawn my attention to him, I will recognise him — [Laughter.]

Speaker
Mr Avedzi

On a point of order -- Mr Speaker, the amount of US$41 million is not missing in the Report; it is included in the bulk figure of the first half year in Table 17 and of the second half year in Table 18 . It was not reported separately --

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Hon Member, if I understood the Hon Afenyo- Markin, we are confusing two things. The Auditor-General's report said nothing about that.

Speaker
Mr Avedzi

Mr Speaker, the Auditor- General's report did not have a headline which stated ‘Bauxite receipts'; therefore this is how much we have received from export of bauxite. No! But it is included in non-traditional item which is a bulk figure, and included in that bulk figure is the $41 million. So, the only difference here is that, as the Auditor-General reported on the manganese separately and we can read it, it was not reported on the bauxite separately but it was included in a non- traditional export amount; that is the difference and that is the clarification the Bank gave. Thank you.

Speaker
Some Hon Members

It is not!

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Hon Member for Efuttu, did you find that in Hon Afenyo-Markin, I am asking you a question; did the Committee find that indeed, that item was included in the tables covering the non-traditional export commodities?

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Hon Member, are you still in the transport business?

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

I am just asking if you are in the transport business.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Then you need to disclose your interest.

Speaker
Mr Isaac Adongo

On a point of order. Mr Speaker, my Hon Colleague is misleading the House. Mr Speaker, did this Report say the company does not pay VAT and the rest? I am asking because we are debating a Report and the Hon Member is not tabling any evidence to support all the claims that he is making. I believe he needs to concentrate on the Report; otherwise, he should table the evidence for all of us to scrutinise and debate appropriately.

Speaker
Mr E. K. Dery

On a point of order -- Mr Speaker, I am grateful. Mr Speaker, about a minute ago, you just ordered me to concentrate on the Report and I did so. The Hon Member is referring to a very similar case that I referred to in the case of shea butter. Besides that, he is talking about taxation in this particular case which is not part of the Report. I am simply saying that we have dealt with the issue of bauxite extensively. They came out to explain that it was part of the non-traditional exports. The figure is there. If he looks at the table on pages 17 and 18 that the Hon Chairman of the Committee referred to, he would see that it was included in the amount of US$263 million. That is their format for accounting reporting through- out the years. It is not the first time --

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Hon Member, are you making a point of order?

Speaker
Mr E. K. Dery

Mr Speaker, he is talking about VAT. If one does not collect VAT, will he pay VAT? If one does not collect VAT, he will not pay same and they did not put any taxation column here.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Hon Member, can you listen to me. If a company is bound by law to collect tax and it does not register, it is illegal. If that information is true, we must verify. Now, I did not rule him out because the Chairman of the Committee actually acknowledged it when he brought it up. That is why I am encouraging that discussion. If it is true -- But, Hon Member, you have stayed on that topic for too long. The point is made. Proceed and bring your debate to a conclusion.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

I have ruled on it. Please, conclude the debate.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Thank you very much. Very well. Hon Chairman of the Committee, would you want to conclude or Leadership should discuss it before the Hon Majority Leader comes in?

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Hon Member, address the Speaker, please.

Speaker
Mr Avedzi

Mr Speaker, I beg to quote article 184 (4) of the 1992 Constitution:

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Hon Member, you are patently out of order.

Speaker
Mr Avedzi

Mr Speaker, I did not mention subcommittee. If the House believes that, in the interest of the public, after debating this Committee's Report, there is the need to set up another Committee to do further work on matters arising out of this, that is an issue that could be taken on. So, I believe that it is a good suggestion and we can do this as a follow up. I thank you, Mr Speaker.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Hon Majority Leader?

Speaker
Majority Leader (Mr Osei Kyei- Mensah-Bonsu)

Mr Speaker, I believe the various issues have been canvassed sufficiently. Except to add that the Constitution is clear on what ought to be done in article 184 (2) (a). And with your indulgence, I quote: “The Bank of Ghana shall, not later than three months -- (a) after the end of the first six months of its financial year; and ...” submit to Parliament for consideration by the relevant committee the report; their statements on the receipts. Mr Speaker, the first six months would end in June and the language of the Constitution provides that the statements from the Bank of Ghana should come to Parliament not later than the 30th of September. Now, here we are, the report comes well into 2017. That cannot be acceptable. It certainly infringes upon the constitutional provision in article 184 (2). Mr Speaker, Parliament should take a position that this is unacceptable from the Bank of Ghana. As I said, the language of the Constitution is very clear and we should not allow them to do that. This is because it is part of our oversight responsibility, and to the extent that we are not timeous in correcting whatever went wrong that perhaps may come out, to that same extent, that we as a House allow them to perpetuate whatever might go wrong. So, it is important for us to be very proactive and it is also incumbent on them to submit to us the relevant statements within three months after the end of any half year. Mr Speaker, we spent time early on debating whether or not it should come half year and then full year. Again, I thought the Report from the Committee itself bears out the importance for us to strand out the two half years. This is because the Report itself is dealing with the two half years based on what they submitted. We can combine the two to see the aggregation, but in my considered opinion, it should come half years, so that if anything goes wrong, we are able to trace and track and offer the appropriate advice or perhaps, suggest the appropriate sanctions. Mr Speaker, the other thing that I may also want to relate to is the retention that we have spent so much time on and whether it should be 100 per cent or whatever. If a company is to be allowed to retain their earnings, it would be covered in the individual mining lease that the company would be given. A particular contract would indicate whether a particular company would be allowed that facility. So, it is for Parliament to ensure that if a company is not required or permitted to do that, then we should be loud and clear on that. It cannot be assumed that because company ‘A' has been given that facility, another would also go on the same wings and float. It cannot be allowed. That is where article 268 of the 1992 Constitution becomes relevant. It appears Parliament has been sleeping on its rights and responsibilities. Parliament should demand that we approve and ratify all the contracts. It is the responsibility of Parliament. But we appear to have neglected that responsibility and allowed other people to fill in, which is what is happening now. Mr Speaker, Parliament should assert itself under the relevant Minister to firmly apply the provisions of article 268. Any exemption, as we do know, should be granted by this House and the exemption will require at least two-thirds of all Members of the House. These things are not done and the companies keep doing their own things. I do not want to overflog the issue about the Ghana Bauxite Company Limited. Clearly, it has dominated the scene for quite a while, and if we believe that any offences are being committed, the amendment that we effected in the Companies Act -- Mr Speaker, upon the President applying himself to the principle espoused at the London Consensus, which occasioned the amendment of the Companies Act, it should now force and empower us to go for the beneficial owners of that company. Who are they? If they have infringed the laws of this country, any sanction could be applied to them. Mr Speaker, so the bottom line is that Parliament is sleeping on its respon- sibilities. I believe we could join ranks and do what is right for this country. Mr Speaker, I thank you very much.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Hon Members, that is the end of the debate. We would take the vote. After that I would make directions in respect of the issues that came out of the Report. Question put and Motion agreed to.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Hon Members, out of the discussions came the observation that a company has exemption from reporting on its foreign exchange earnings, or retaining them outside the country. It is supposed to be based on an Agreement. I would want the Finance Committee to investigate that allegation and confirm whether there is any such Agreement, which has been ratified by Parliament. They are also to investigate on whether, indeed, a company is not registered to pay Value Added Tax (VAT), the basis of such non-registration, if any, and report to the House in two weeks from today.

Speaker
Mr Avedzi

Mr Speaker, this is just to add to what you said “a company”; but in the Report, there are two companies that are exempted -- Newmont Ghana Limited is also not mandated to surrender any export earnings. So, the Committee should deal with these two companies.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Very well. In that respect, I vary the directions and add that the Finance Committee looks at both Newmont Ghana Limited and the Ghana Bauxite Company Limited.

Speaker
Dr Mark Assibey-Yeboah

Mr Speaker, I heard you direct that the Committee should work and produce a report in two weeks.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Yes; I said that. You are only to look for documents, are you not?

Speaker
Dr Assibey-Yeboah

Mr Speaker, I heard the Hon Deputy Minority Leader mention “Newmont Ghana Limited”. If we had one month --

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Would you go to inspect the mine? We are only looking for documents, and their head office is in Accra. So, two weeks should be sufficient. Hon Chairman, you should start the work. If you need extension of time, report to the House and ask for it. Hon Majority Leader?

Speaker
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

Mr Speaker, I wonder whether hat these are the two companies that are registered on the radar for now. I thought that, perhaps, if you opened up to enable the Committee investigate if there are indeed any others that did not feature in the Report, they could cover those companies as well. We should not limit it to the two companies, because of the indications we have that there are some others that were not covered by the Report. So, if there are any others, they could take liberties and report on them to this House.

Speaker
Mr Avedzi

Mr Speaker, if we look at page 7 of the Report, we have the list of companies in the case of gold export and the percentage mandatory surrender. So, if what the Hon Leader said is anything to go by, then these companies should also be verified. For example, Aboso Goldfields Limited is to surrender 25 per cent and Owere Mines Limited is supposed to surrender 100 per cent. The Auditor-General verified it, but we have assigned another committee to further verify it.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

I would further vary my order such that the Committee would have the power to investigate any other company that comes to its attention and report to the House. Hon Chairman of the Finance Committee, work within the two weeks; if you need more time, report to the House. Hon Majority Leader, it is almost 4.00 p.m. but I would still be guided by your indication.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Speaker
Mr James Klutse Avedzi

Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion. Question put and Motion agreed to.

ADJOURNMENT

The House was accordingly adjourned at 3.56 p.m. till Friday, 30th June, 2017 at 12.00 noon.