MR FIRST DEPUTY SPEAKER
VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS AND THE OFFICIAL REPORT
Hon Members, Correction of Votes and Proceedings of Thursday, 9th November, 2017. Page 1 --
Yes, Hon Member?
Mr Speaker, the Votes and Proceedings are still being distributed to Hon Members.
Very well. I am sure you would get yours soon. Let us continue but I would indulge you if we have to go back. Page 2…12 --
Mr Speaker, I come under Order 48 (1) of our Standing Orders. I make reference to article 102 of the 1992 Constitution, which reads, and with your permission, I quote: “A quorum of Parliament, apart from the person presiding, shall be one- third of all the Members of Parliament”. Mr Speaker, I am afraid we do not seem to have a quorum and for that matter, I would want this to come to the attention of the House for your direction. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Well noted. I would apply Order 48 (2). I have taken note of the concern raised. After ten minutes, we would come back to it. Page 13…30 --
Yes, Hon Member for Kumbungu?
Mr Speaker, I was hoping to find the list of Hon Members who were present yesterday at the Public Accounts Committee sitting. I have been marked absent and I also do not see the list of those who were at the Public Accounts Committee sitting. I felt the Table Office would accordingly take note of that. Mr Speaker, I was in the House yesterday.
Hon Member, which page are you referring to?
Mr Speaker, I looked at the list of Hon Members who were absent and I also looked at the list of Committee sittings which were held yesterday; hoping to find the list of those of us who were present yesterday at the Public Accounts Committee sitting but our names have been conspicuously missing. We have all been marked absent.
Hon Member, are you suggesting that your name is under the list of Hon Members who were absent?
Mr Speaker, I am referring to page 8 of the Votes and Proceedings.
You have been marked absent but you were present?
Yes, Mr Speaker. Same applies to several of my Hon Colleagues, including the Hon Deputy Minority Leader, who chaired the Public Accounts Committee meeting yesterday.
Hon Member, have you checked the supplementary -- the Public Accounts Committee report?
Yes, Hon Bedzrah?
Mr Speaker, it comes back to the same issue we discussed yesterday, whether when we come to Parliament and we go straight to our various committee sittings we should be marked absent or present in the House. Mr Speaker, I believe that as the Hon Majority Leader suggested yesterday, the new Standing Orders should address that. This is when an Hon Member comes and he/she is invited to attend a committee sittting before plenary, he/she should be marked present in the House as he is there. Mr Speaker, sometimes, we come and go to our committee sitting meetings and later join plenary and we are marked absent. Some parliamentary monitoring groups are marking us absent all the time, using the Votes and Proceedings and I do not think that is the best for us. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Hon Members, this matter was discussed yesterday. As we speak, the Chamber is not the only place where an Hon Member's presence would be captured. If an Hon Member is here but is not coming straight into the Chamber, I suggest he or she goes to register in the Mails Room before he or she goes to any committee sitting. So it is clear that that Hon Member is here but then he or she is in a committee sitting. Usually, the committee sitting reports also take some time before it is recorded in the Votes and Proceedings. So, probably, we would wait until the committee sitting report appears, and it would show whether or not the Hon Member was also marked absent at that committee sitting. There is no sitting today. So, I would continue --
Mr Speaker, as the Hon Bedzrah just alluded to, we discussed this yesterday. The Hon Colleague who raised the issue said that he was at the PAC sitting and should be deemed to have been present in Parliament, that is, if we consider committee meetings to be part of the Sittings of the House. If indeed that is the case, then the issue the Hon Member raised now would not even stand. This is because whenever a committee is meeting and we have people there, to the extent that the numbers would add to the numbers in plenary to
Hon Members, I would continue. Pages 29, 30, ... 49. Hon Members, the Votes and Proceedings of Thursday, 9th November, 2017 is hereby adopted as the true record of proceedings.
[No correction was made to the Official Report of Tuesday, 31st October, 2017.]
Hon Members, item numbered 3 on the Order Paper -- Business of the House for the Seventh Week. Hon Majority Leader and Chairman of the Business Committee?
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Mr Speaker, the Committee met on Thursday, 9th November, 2017 and arranged Business of the House for the Seventh Week ending Friday, 17th November, 2017.
Arrangement of Business Formal Communications by the Speaker Mr Speaker, you may read communications to the House whenever they are available. Question(s) Mr Speaker, the Business Committee has programmed the following Ministers to respond to Questions asked of them during the week: No. of Mr Speaker, in all, six (6) Ministers are expected to attend upon the House to respond to twenty-eight (28) Questions during the week. Mr Speaker, it is recommended that the time for Questions be strictly observed. Statements Mr Speaker, pursuant to Order 70 (2), Ministers of State may be permitted to make Statements of Government policy. Statements duly admitted by Mr Speaker may be made in the House by Hon Members, in accordance with Order 72. Bills, Papers and Reports Mr Speaker, Bills may be presented to the House for First Reading and those of urgent nature may be taken through the various stages in one day in accordance with Order 119. Papers and Committee Reports may also be presented to the House. Motions and Resolutions Mr Speaker, Motions may be debated and their consequential Resolutions, if any, taken during the week. Sitting of the House on Monday/Extended Sittings Mr Speaker, the Business Committee recommends that the House sits on Monday, 13th November 2017. Fur- thermore, the House may have extended Sittings to enable the completion of scheduled business. Presentation of the Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the Government Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister for Finance is expected to appear before the House on Wednesday, 15nd November Ouestion(s) i. Minister for Aviation -- 1 ii. Minister for Communications -- 6 iii. Minister for Sanitation and Water Resources -- 3 iv. Minister for Health -- 4 v. Minister for Energy -- 7 vi. Minister for Roads and Highways -- 7 Total number of Questions -- 28 2017, to present the Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the Government for the year ending 31st December 2018. The Business Committee therefore urges Hon Members to avail themselves on the said date. Post-Budget Workshop Mr Speaker, the Business Committee hereby informs Hon Members that a post-budget workshop has been scheduled for Leadership, Chairpersons, Vice Chairpersons, Ranking Members and Deputy Ranking Members of Committees with oversight responsibilities over the Ministries, Departments and Agencies and the respective Committee Clerks. Mr Speaker, it is intended to also include some back-benchers who may not be Chairpersons, Vice Chairpersons, Ranking Members and Deputy Ranking Members. The workshop is expected to be held from Friday, 17th through Monday, 20th November, 2017, at the Capital View Hotel, Koforidua. For the avoidance of doubt, Hon Members are informed that Leadership of Committees responsible for the consideration of annual estimates of Ministries, Departments and Agencies, as provided for in Standing Order 140 (4), are to attend the post-budget workshop, that is, all the Select Committees and the following Standing Committees: (i) Judiciary, (ii) Special Budget, (iii) Gender & Children, and (iv) Finance. Mr Speaker, Hon Members are entreated to avail themselves and fully participate in the deliberations. Essential information would be provided at the workshop to equip Hon Members in the consideration of the Budget. To this end, Hon Members are kindly urged to be in
attendance during every session of the workshop. Conclusion Mr Speaker, in accordance with Standing Order 160 (2) and subject to Standing Order 53, the Committee submits to this Honourable House the order in which the Business of the House shall be taken during the week under consideration. Questions -- Statements -- Presentation of Papers -- Motions -- Third Reading of Bills Zongo Development Fund Bill, 2017. Consideration Stage of Bills -- African Union Import Levy Bill, 2017. Committee sittings. Questions -- Statements -- Presentation of Papers -- (a) Report of the joint Committee on Finance and Works and Housing on the Credendo-backed Export Credit Facility Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Ghana and the ING Bank of Belgium SA/NV for an amount of twenty-five million, three hundred and forty- one thousand, nine hundred and fifty-eight euros (€25,341,958.00) being the loan component of the total project cost of thirty-seven million, six hundred and eighty- three thousand, two hundred sixty-six euros (€37,683,266.00) to finance the Navrongo (Upper East) Water Supply Project. (b) Report of the joint Committee on Finance and Works and Housing on the Financing Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Ghana and the International Development Association (The World Bank Group) for an amount of thirty- three million Special Drawing Rights (SDR 33,000,000) [US$45.7 million equivalent] as additional financing for the Sustainable Rural Water and Sanitation Project. (c) Report of the Finance Committee on the Taxation (Use of Fiscal Electronic Device) Bill, 2017. Motions -- Third Reading of Bills. Office of the Special Prosecutor Bill, 2017. Consideration Stage of Bills -- African Union Import Levy Bill, 2017. (Conclusion) Committee sittings. Questions -- *228. Alhaji Abdul-Rashid Hassan Pelpuo (Wa Central): To ask the Minister for Aviation when the Wa Airport will commence operation. Statements -- Presentation of Papers -- Motion -- That this Honourable House approves the Financial Policy of the Government of Ghana for the year ending 31st December 2018. (Minister for Finance) Committee sittings. Thursday, 16™ November, 2017 Questions -- *81. Mr Abdul Aziz Muniru (Akan): To ask the Minister for Communications what steps are being taken to curb telephone call interferences from the Republic of Togo, in particular Togocel and Togomoov, in the Akan Constituency. *82. Ms Joycelyn Tetteh (North Dayi): To ask the Minister for Communications when mobile telephone network would be extended to cover the entire North Dayi District. *128. Mr Peter Nortsu-Kotoe (Akatsi North): To ask the Minister for Communications what steps the Ministry is taking to ensure that mobile network operators in Ghana serving Akatsi North District prevent interruptions in network services by mobile network operators in the Republic of Togo.
Consequential Resolution (c) Adoption of the Report of the joint Committee on Finance and Works and Housing on the Financing Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Ghana and the International Development Association (The World Bank Group), for an amount of thirty-three million Special Drawing Rights (SDR 33,000,000) [US$45.7 million equivalent] as additional financing for the Sustainable Rural Water and Sanitation Project. Consequential Resolution Committee sittings. Questions -- *135. Dr Sebastian Ngmenenso Sandaare (Daffiama/Bussie/Issa): To ask the Minister for Energy when the project to extend electricity to Nyori, Toyenpari, Dakyie, Kamahegu and Banonyiri communities in the Daffiama/ Bussie/Issa District will be completed. *136. Mr Simon Acheampong Tampi (Tatale/Sanguli): To ask the Minister for Energy when the electrification of the following communities, which started in 2016, will be completed: (i) Kpaributabu (ii) Nahuyili (iii) Sangbaan (iv) Bulkpali (v) Sheini. *137.Mr Emmanuel Armah-Kofi Buah (Ellembelle): To ask the Minister for Energy when repair works on the turret of the FPSO Kwame Nkrumah will be completed to ensure full oil and gas production. *145. Mr Emmanuel Armah-Kofi Buah (Ellembele): To ask the Minister for Energy the steps being taken to ensure the flow of gas from Aboadze to Tema to enhance power supply. *187. Mr Andrew Dari Chiwitey (Sawla/Tuna/Kalba): To ask the Minister for Energy when the electrification of the following communities, which started in 2016, would be completed: (i) Nasolyiri (ii) Sanyeri (iii) Jelinkow (iv) Kpongri (v) Seutiepuor (vi) Goyiri. *188. Mr Mutawakilu Adam (Damongo): To ask the Minister for Energy whether the Ministry has reviewed any power purchase agreements in force and if so, whether there are any cost saving elements pursuant to the reviews. *189. Dr Kwabena Donkor (Pru East): To ask the Minister for Energy how Ghana's Jubilee, TEN and Sankofa crude entitlement is disposed off commercially. *201. Mr Abdul Aziz Muniru (Akan): To ask the Minister for Roads and Highways when the Ministry will construct a road to link the Asato and Apesokubi communities. *202. Mr Abdul Aziz Muniru (Akan): To ask the Minister for Roads and Highways when the Kadjebi town roads will be asphalted. *203. Mr Abdul Aziz Muniru (Akan): To ask the Minister for Roads and Highways when the Ministry will construct a road to link Kosamba and Asato-Menuso communities. *204. Mr Ekow Hayford (Mfantseman): To ask the Minister for Roads and Highways when the works on the resealing/partial construction of the Mankesim - Abura Dunkwa road will be completed. *205. Mr Ekow Hayford (Mfantseman): To ask the Minister for Roads and Highways when the contract for the construction of the emergency asphaltic overlay of selected arterial and collector roads in the M f a n t s e m a n / M a n k e s i m Municipality will be completed. *206. Mr Stephen M. E. K. Ackah (Suaman): To ask the Minister for Roads and Highways when construction works on the stretch from Yakasi to Kramokrom, on the Enchi - Dadieso trunk road, will be completed. *207.Mr Clement Kofi Humado (Anlo): To ask the Minister for Roads and Highways what plans the Ministry has to commence the construction of the Bomigo to Galo Suta bridge, which was tendered in 2016. Statements -- Presentation of Papers -- Motions -- Third Reading of Bills --
Mr Speaker, I am grateful for the opportunity and I wish to comment on the Business Statement. In doing so, I wish to ask the Hon Majority Leader why one of the Ministries seems to have been oversubscribed; if I should put it that way. Mr Speaker, there have been Questions on water from my constituency. If we look at the Business Statement for last week, it was advertised that it would be taken and then at the very last minute -- [Interruption] -- it was taken off and now, it has been scheduled again to next week. If we look at the Order Paper for today, almost on a weekly basis we seem to have the Ministry of Roads and Highways appearing and I vividly remember listening to the radio and reading the newspapers, when the Hon Majority Leader was on this side of the House and there were arguments to the extent that ekwae y3nwe to wit, we do not eat roads. People need water to drink and we seem to have a lot of emphasis, week in, week out on the Ministry of Roads and Highways appearing. Mr Speaker, I would wish to plead that we give a lot of priority to some of these other sectors as well, especially when it has to do with water which we have all agree that indeed, “water is life”. I know that the Question has been scheduled for
Mr Speaker, I was imagining that this Meeting would have had a situation where Hon Members would have a Committee of the Whole meeting for us to discuss matters pertaining to Hon Members of Parliament. For instance, on the issue of research assistants which was talked about with great expectations, nothing has been heard of that since, and I am wondering why Leadership has not actually created that forum for us to deliberate on matters of that nature. Mr Speaker, also to add to that, I have filed about 15 Questions and so far, it has been only two Questions that have been brought out and I am wondering what is going to happen to the rest, especially when from next week or thereabout we would be looking at the Budget. I would just want to crave your indulgence that I have over 15 Questions on various subject matters.
Mr Speaker, I rise to make reference to item numbered 3 on the Business Statement, specifically to do with the Sittings of the House on Monday and extended Sittings. I would like to draw the attention of Leadership to the continuous challenge as far as our security is concerned. If we are expected to have extended Sittings, I would hope that Leadership would definitely put in place the right arrangements to ensure that we are safe and secure. Mr Speaker, that also has to do with welfare, and I again wish to use this opportunity, with your kind permission, to remind the Leadership of the House that there are a number of us whose offices are located on the 10th floor of Job 600, and we are still struggling with excessive discomfort. It is true that the basic fixtures have been done to the offices affected by the fire outbreak but as we speak, not all the facilities and amenities are available for use. As I speak, I and many of my other Hon Colleagues on the 10th floor do not have fans in our offices and the air conditions are not working. You know fully well the dress code of this House and you could imagine having to sit in one's office on the 10th floor for at least, an hour or two given the discomfort that we experience. So, I wish to kindly remind Leadership that work has been done but it is not quite complete. If possible, they should crack the whip, so to speak, so that those responsible for ensuring that our offices are fully re-installed do so, so that we could also have the comfort of working to support our people and host our constituents when they come to visit us.
Mr Speaker, this is my second time of raising this issue, that some Hon Ranking Members and Chairmen of some Committees are treated more favourably than their counterparts in other Committees. If you look at item numbered 5 of page 2, we have Committees; Hon Chairmen and Ranking Members who have been selected who have oversight responsibility over some Ministries and Departments, forgetting about the Committee on Government Assurances that has superior oversight over all the Committees, as well as the Committee on Poverty Reduction Strategy. Mr Speaker, how come these very important Committees have not been included, at least to go for post-Budget hearing so that we can scrutinise --
Hon Member, I am laughing because you said they have superior oversight over all Committees --
Mr Speaker, yes, to me, it looks like there are superior Committees that are being treated more favourably in this House. Mr Speaker, I am bringing this issue back again, that the Hon Majority Leader and the Business Committee should look at it again, that these Committees; Government Assurance and the Poverty Reduction Strategy should be considered for the post-Budget hearing.
Mr Speaker, last Friday when the Hon Majority Leader was presenting the Business Statement for this week, he indicated that there was going to be a joint Caucus meeting. Throughout the week, it never found space in the Order Paper and today's Business Statement for next week, that has not been mentioned at all. I would want to find out from the Hon Majority Leader what has come of the joint Caucus meeting.
Mr Speaker, the first person who asked of Questions was suggesting to us that certain Ministries have been oversubscribed by way of coming to the House to answer Questions. That is Hon Ras Mubarak.
Hon Majority Leader, Hon Bedzrah asked a question relating to priority being given to some Committees and his Committee, which he thinks is a superior Committee, being left out.
Mr Speaker, I do not know who assigns colouration to the various Committees but I know that the Committee on Government Assurance is a Committee that registers strongly on the radar of the House. Mr Speaker, as I said, it is important that we extend invitation to some of the Standing Committees. Mr Speaker, it seems to me that they were invited last year and so they should be invited this year. I have said that some Standing Committees have been invited and I mentioned the Committee on Special Budget, Committee on Gender and Children, -- did I mention Committee on Poverty Reduction Strategy? Mr Speaker, at the end of the day, we are all working to develop the people of this country. So, certainly, the Committee on Poverty Reduction Strategy should be one and I also agree with him that the Committee on Government Assurance, as was done last year, should also be invited. Mr Speaker, finally, with the issue about the Hon Minister responsible for Sanitation and Water Resources, he sent a request for us to postpone his attendance upon the House and that letter was dated 8th November, 2017. Mr Speaker, that explains why we had to offload his Questions, but when we are able to establish contact him, we would certainly re-programme his Questions. Delivery of potable water should certainly be of the same order as the provision of roads. Mr Speaker, thank you.
Hon Member for Effutu?
Hon Member, I think this is a matter that you might bring to the attention of Leadership. It is not part of the Business of the Week, and it is not a matter bordering on the safety or security of Hon Members. So, hold on and bring it to the attention of the Hon Majority Leader so that they could deal with this NGO.
Hon Members, the Business Statement as presented is adopted.
Hon Minority Chief Whip?
Hon Majority Leader, would you want to comment on this statement, specifically the request for the Hon Minister to brief the House?
Mr Speaker, we have listened to the Hon Minority Chief Whip in whose backyard this incident has happened. He has given us the chronology of events, what the Police has told him and what the Hon Deputy Minister has also told him. In his own opinion, there are questions that are remain unanswered, and certainly, anybody listening to him would agree that there are outstanding issues that might have to be responded to. Mr Speaker, I agree with him that we find space next week to invite the Hon Minister for the Interior to brief us as to the circumstances that led to the incident. The Hon Member made a statement that he believes that the Ghana Police Service may not have to be given the opportunity to investigate the matter. I think that statement may be prejudicial. Let us listen to the Hon Minister, and once we come to some determination, we would see the way forward for ourselves. Mr Speaker, it has happened to me on two occasions and when it arose, because of the conduct of the then Hon Regional Minister and also the statements that the Police put out there in respect of what had happened, which I had cause to disbelieve, I called for the establishment of an impartial committee to deal with it. Indeed, the President at the time, former President Jerry John Rawlings responded to what I said and a committee was established to go into it.
Hon Members, I would direct that the Hon Minister for the Interior brief the House on the circumstances leading to the death of the two gentlemen who were in the custody of the Ghana Police Service on or before the 22nd of October, 2017. Thank you. Hon Majority Leader, are we doing the Questions now or we would finish the Third Readings before we do them?
Mr Speaker, these Questions are all constituency specific. I believe that in less than 20 minutes, we would be able to deal with them. That being the case, I would urge that we deal with them as speedily as possible and then we would come to the main issues before us.
Very well. The Hon Minister for Roads and Highways may take the seat and answer the Questions.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister is not available, because there are outstanding issues that he has to deal with. He has sent one of his Deputy Ministers, Hon Kwabena Owusu- Aduomi, to be in his stead to respond to the Questions. Mr Speaker, I am seeking your approval and the indulgence of my Hon Colleagues to allow the Hon Deputy Minister to respond to the Questions.
Leave is granted. The Hon Deputy Minister may take the seat. The Urgent Question stands in the name of Mr Peter Yaw Kwakye Ackah, Hon Member for Amenfi Central.
MINISTRY OF ROADS AND
Mr Speaker. I would like to know from the Hon Deputy Minister whether in his research to answer the Question, he got to know that two people had died on the bridge. A taxi dropped inside the river and the driver died, and another person also died while crossing the bridge.
Hon Deputy Minister, did you hear him? -- I cannot hear him either.
Mr Speaker, unfortunately, I am not aware of that incident.
Mr Speaker, then I would like to let him know that that actually happened. So, now that he knows that two people have died, what steps would he take immediately to make sure that this incident does not happen again until the bridge is repaired?
Hon Member, I would want to understand the question. What steps would the Hon Deputy Minister take until the bridge is repaired, so that nobody dies again in respect of the collapsed bridge?
Yes, Mr Speaker. This is because he said it would be captured under the 2018 Budget. So, until then, I would want to know the steps he would take to make sure that nobody drops from the bridge and dies.
That is not a legitimate question. Kindly ask another question. [Laughter.] Hon Member, are you done? You have three follow-up questions, but you have asked one, so you have two more. If you have finished, tell me then I would --
Yes, Mr Speaker. My concern is the repair of the bridge. According to the Hon Deputy Minister, he does not know when it would be repaired. He said it would be captured in the 2018 Budget. I do not know whether he could give me the specific time - until somebody dies. This is because people have died recently. If it would be captured in the 2018 Budget, then he should be able to tell us immediately what he would do to avert this --
Hon Deputy Minister, in the interim, can you do anything for the community until the 2018 Budget is passed?
Mr Speaker, I have been informed that the bridge collapsed when the Hon Member was the District Chief Executive (DCE) of the area in 2016. [Hear! Hear!] -- And for the many months that he was DCE, he did not do anything about it. [Laughter.] Mr Speaker, we have indicated in our Answer that because the bridge had collapsed and it is very dangerous for motorists to use, it would be part of the 2018 emergency works under the Ministry of Roads and Highways. I would not be able to tell the Hon Member the exact date that we would come there. Maybe, after listening to the 2018 Budget and the amount that would be allotted for the Ministry, we would not be able to decide when to come to site. But I would advise that once the bridge has collapsed, no motorist should make an attempt to use it. It is dangerous, so we have to close the bridge to vehicular traffic.
Hon Deputy Minister, is it possible for your Ministry to block access to the bridge, at least, for motorists?
Mr Speaker, I believe that is what we have to do so we would ask the Department of Feeder Roads to send a team there to ensure that the bridge is closed completely from vehicular traffic.
Well, this is constituency specific Question and we are hard pressed for time. I am going to the next question. Question numbered 148 -- Hon Rockson-Nelson Etse Kwame Dafeamekpor.
Mr Speaker, my Hon Colleague, Hon Dafeamekpor is not yet in the House. He is on his way and he has asked me to crave the indulgence of the House to ask the Question on his behalf.
ORAL ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS
MINISTRY OF ROADS AND
Mr Speaker, judging from the delay as to how the contractor is working, there should be a cause for it. I would want to ask from the Hon Deputy Minister what really is the cause of the delay of the contract?
Mr Speaker, there is no indication that the delay is as a result of the default of the employer not paying the contractor. It is the contractor that has not moved to site to work.
Mr Speaker, that clearly shows that it might be the fault of the contractor. Every contractor always brings a performance guarantee to support the work. I would want to find out whether this contractor has a performance guarantee and whether they would evoke it if he has really defaulted.
Mr Speaker, every contract has a performance security, but we can only call for it when the contract period has elapsed. All indications to bring the contractor back to site have proved futile. I have indicated in the Answer that only 47 per cent of the contract period has expired. Therefore, we would wait till the contract period expires, then if the performance still remains at 35 per cent, we would call for the performance bond of the contract.
The last follow up question.
Mr Speaker, I just want to find out from the Hon Deputy Minister whether the contractor is still on site or he has moved out.
Mr Speaker, no indication was brought to me that the contractor was on site, but we would have to maybe find out.
Question numbered 149 also in the name of Hon Rockson-Nelson Etse Kwame Dafeamekpor. Construction of Peki township roads Q.149. Mr Emmanuel K. Bedzrah (on behalf of Mr Rockson-Nelson Etse Kwame Dafeamekpor) asked the Deputy Minister for Roads and Highways when the contract for the construction of the Peki township roads, which are in deplorable state in the South Dayi District , would be awarded.
Mr Speaker, Background Peki town roads form part of the road network in the South Dayi District located in the Volta Region. The town roads have both gravel and bituminous surfaced sections in poor condition. Current programme There is no rehabilitation or construction programme on the township roads. However, routine maintenance activity, that is, pothole patching on the bituminous sections had been carried out under the 2017 routine maintenance programme. Future programme The pothole patching will continue on bituminous sections of the township roads while the gravel sections will be graded under the 2018 routine maintenance programme to improve the roads surface condition. Engineering design studies have been undertaken on 6.25km of the Peki town roads for rehabilitation or upgrading. These will be implemented in future under the Ghana Highways Authority (GHA) periodic maintenance programme when funds are available.
No follow up question? Very well. Question numbered 150 -- Hon Edward Abambire Bawa, Hon Member for Bongo. Construction of Bongo-Namoo Road Q. 150. Mr Edward Abambire Bawa asked the Minister for Roads and Highways when the twenty-six (26) kilometre Bongo to Namoo road would be constructed.
Mr Speaker, Two (2) roads connect Bongo and Namoo. Both are: i. Bongo-Namoo trunk road (30.0km) under the responsibility of the Ghana Highway Authority (GHA), and ii. Bongo-Balungu-Namoo border feeder road (14km) under the responsibility of the Department of Feeder Roads (DFR). The roads are located in the Bongo District of the Upper East Region. Both are gravel surfaced and in poor condition. Current programme The first 2.0km of the trunk road from Bongo has been packaged together with the 5.0km Yorogo Junction - Vea Dam road for upgrading to bituminous surfacing. The package is being reviewed by the employer, and will be executed when funds are available. Two (2) contracts have also been awarded for the re-gravelling of the Bongo-Namoo trunk road from (km 2.0- km 7.0) and (km 7.0- km 12.0). a) Regravelling of Bongo - Namoo trunk road km (2.0-7.0). This project commenced on 10th August, 2016, and was scheduled for completion on 9th August, 2017. This completion date has since elapsed. Work progress is currently estimated at 20 per cent physical completion. The Ghana Highway Authority has initiated the process to terminate the contract in view of the low progress achieved compared with 125 per cent completion time elapsed. b) Regravelling of Bongo - Namoo trunk road km (7.0-12.0) This project commenced on 19th August, 2016, and was scheduled for completion on 18th August, 2017. This completion date has since elapsed. Work progress is currently estimated at 5 per cent physical completion. The Ghana Highway Authority has initiated the process to terminate the contract in view of this low performance achieved compared with 125 per cent of completion time elapsed. The remaining 18.0km section (km12.0- km30.0) is currently under routine maintenance, that is, grading to keep the gravel surface motorable.
Mr Speaker, on page 34, the Hon Minister indicates that the employer is contemplating the option of terminating the (km2.0-km7.0) and (km7.0-km12.0) gravelling of the Bongo-Namoo roads. I want to believe that this definitely would
Mr Speaker, we checked whether the employer was in default, that is if an interim payment certificate (IPC) has been prepared by the contractor and the employer has not been able to honour it for payment. The contractor has not prepared any (IPC) for work done till date. So, that means that it is the contractor who is rather in default. And because we have exceeded the completion period by 25 per cent and the contractor is not moving to site, the agency, that is the Ghana Highways Authority, has taken the initiative to terminate the contract. Warning letters would be issued to the contractor maybe, two or three times and then, the final warning would be given. If the contractor is not able to move to site, it would be better for the employer to terminate the contract than for the contract to linger on. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, on page 33, under “Current Programme, the Hon Minister indicated that the first kilometre of the trunk road from Bongo has been packaged together with the 5.0 kilometre Yorogo Junction-Vea Dam road, for upgrading to bituminous surfacing. The package is being reviewed by the employer and would be executed when funds are available. So, he is very definite. He uses the word, ‘when', can he be a bit specific? Is it next month, the next two months that he would be expecting moneys or is it in the next Budget? This is because he said, when. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Hon Deputy Minister, when is when?
Mr Speaker, respectfully, it is very difficult for me to indicate the specific date that this project would be done. But because of the important nature of the Vea Dam, I believe in the 2018 fiscal year, this Project would be taken on board.
Mr Speaker, on page 34 (c), the Hon Deputy Minister indicated that looking at the road between Bongo and Sambolgo, because of floods in 2015 and 2016, the culvert collapsed. And according to the Hon Deputy Minister, some engineering studies have been done and other design works made. The fact that this is the road that links Bongo through Sambolgo to Namoo and to Burkina Faso, and because of the faulty culverts, it affects the economic activities of the district with this as a background, my questin is, would he consider doing this road before the next rains set in?
Mr Speaker, the Bongo-Namoo road is as important as all the roads that we have in the country. And with the background that he has given and in the view of that, that engineering studies were also carried out to see which structure would be appropriate for that bridge. I would not be able to say that it would be done immediately but we would listen to the 2018 Budget and see the allocation that would go to the Department of Feeder Roads (DFR). And with the background that the Hon Member has given, it would be considered as to whether it would be an emergency project or not. But I cannot assure him at the moment. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Question numbered 151, Hon Dr Bernice Adiku Heloo, Hon Member for Hohoe?
Mr Speaker, I rise to ask Question numbered 150 if you would indulge me. Potholes on some sections of the newly - asphalted Eastern Corridor Road Q. 151. Dr Francis B. Dakura (on behalf of Dr (Mrs) B. A. Heloo) asked the Minister for Roads and Highways whether the Ministry is aware that the newly- asphalted stretch of the Eastern Corridor Road from Asikuma to Peki-Adzokoe has developed potholes and whether there are steps being taken to remedy same.
Mr Speaker, I could have simply said yes as the answer, but because we want to give detailed briefing to the House, we have prepared this Answer. Background Asikuma-Peki Adzokoe road is a section within the 45km Asikuma Junction-Have road project. The project was awarded on 29th September, 2011. It commenced on 5th December, 2011 for completion on 5th December, 2013. The project is located in the Asuogyaman and South Dayi Districts of the Volta Region. The completion date was revised to 5th March, 2017, as a result of the Employer's undue delay in paying for the work done.
Mr Speaker, what an eloquent way of giving us details. I would want to find out whether the Hon Minister would ensure that technical studies are done on subsequent works on the same stretch of road to ensure that we do not suffer the same defects after the project is handed over?
Mr Speaker, for such projects, we have Resident Engineers. The cost of these defects, as I indicated, was as a result of the bitumen heated beyond the permitted range. Sometimes, when on site, it is difficult to get information on this when they place the bitumen. This is because they heat the asphalt in the plants and bring them in batches. So, we would need to take the temperature. If the trucks are many, one would not be able to take the temperature of every truck. Maybe, that was the reason, but we would speak with the Resident Engineers to be very vigilant, especially on asphalt material which is complex. Once it is overheated, it loses its viscous properties and the asphalt is no longer a strong material. So, we would ensure that the Resident Engineer of the Ghana Highway Authority (GHA) work to the requirements that are expected of the Resident Engineer of a project. We promise that we would not have such a situation. Those sections that failed were removed at the cost of the contractor and not the employer. This was because the contractor was supposed to work within the temperature range. So, if he overheated the bitumen and it failed, it was his problem. However, we do not want to have a situation where after the defects liability period, we would have such a problem occurring. That was why the GHA investigation team went and detected it. I can assure you that it would not reoccur.
Mr Speaker, I will ask my final follow-up question. Hon Minister, this stretch of road is only a part of the entire Eastern Corridor that is so important to all of us who have connections through that road. Would the Ministry, as a result, tell us whether they would rededicate and commit themselves to the completion of that road within the time stipulated? Since 2011, we have seen what has happened. The Contractor for this short stretch of road has been there for over four years. Would the Hon Minister rededicate himself to ensuring that the Eastern Corridor is completed within the stipulated time?
Mr Speaker, the Government of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo is committed to making good all the road networks that we have in the country. The Eastern Corridor road is also part of such projects. There are sections that are funded by the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) and these are very critical sections. They are not directly under the Ministry of Roads and Highways. COCOBOD has done some field audits and we are waiting for the outcome of the decision that they would take on those sections funded by them. It is important that we at the Ministry of Roads and Highways, get this project through. The missing link between Jasikan and Dodo Pepesu is on the priority list of the Ministry of Roads and Highways, to get the whole stretch connected up to Binduri in the Northern Region. Mr Speaker, this Government is indeed committed to ensuring that this Eastern Corridor Road project gets through.
Mr Speaker, could the Hon Minister instruct the contractor to create access roads during the time of construction? I ask this because what they do is that they prevent vehicles from using the road. Normally, we believe they have to give us some access to get to our constituencies and districts. So, could he instruct the contractor to create some alternative routes for us to use while they do the construction?
Mr Speaker, I believe motorists are delayed a little when work is being done on one of the two lanes. Most of the time, when vehicles are stopped for a minute to enable the Contractor put up work they are doing, it becomes a problem for them. I believe what the Hon Member said, is that if they are working on a section, they should give an alternative road on the side Diversion. However, it all adds to the cost because there is no free lunch. If we ask the Contractor to provide access because of a few minutes that you have to wait, it would add to the cost. That is why normally, motorists are asked to wait for a few minutes for them to put up the bitumen they have before they continue. Mr Speaker, that notwithstanding, we would speak to the Contractor to ensure that motorists are not unnecessarily delayed when works are ongoing.
Mr Speaker, in the last sentence of the first paragraph of the Hon Minister's response, he stated that the project is located in the Asuogyaman and South Dayi Districts of the Volta Region. Is the Hon Minister aware that Asuogyaman is not in the Volta Region but Eastern Region? Mr Speaker, is the Hon Deputy Minister aware that Asuogyaman is in the Eastern and not the Volta Region?
Hon Member, the Volta Region is in relation to the last district.
Mr Speaker, I would want to crave your indulgence. The Hon Deputy Minister said “Asuogyaman and South Dayi Districts of the Volta Region. It did not say “District”. So, the plural “Districts” could not be in relation to only South Dayi.
Hon Deputy Minister, are you aware that Asuogyaman is in the Eastern and not the Volta Region?
Mr Speaker, it confuses us sometimes, but now our attention has been drawn to the fact that Asuogyaman is in the Eastern Region. So, we would make sure not to repeat it in the future when we answer such Questions.
Mr Speaker, I would want to request the Hon Deputy Minister to pay a working visit to the site and also --
Hon Member, go to his office and invite him.
Mr Speaker, the wearing course, which is the last course in the bituminous concrete surfacing is supposed to be done within a period. If it is not done, it means that the base course and asphaltic concrete would wear out. Mr Speaker, there was an engineer representative on site. I would want to find out from the Hon Deputy Minister what they have done to the materials engineer who supervised this job, especially, knowing very well that the bitumen was over-heated for the base course.
Hon Member, I believe this a substantive Question that the Hon Deputy Minister would need notice of. Hon Minister, would you want to answer the question? I do not believe that it flows from this, but if you would want to answer, I would allow you.
Mr Speaker, it is not the fault of the engineer at site. It is the fault of the employer. With this project, 28 km length of Asphaltic Concrete Binder was placed and because of non-payment the contractor was not able to put the wearing course. The binder course was placed two years ago. It was just like what the previous Government did on the Suhum Road. When the asphalt binder was placed for many years and was not attended to, it was because of non- payment. Mr Speaker, it is indeed not the fault of the resident engineer, but it is advisable, as the Hon Member said, that when a binder course is placed and used for a very long time especially, with the heavy axle loads, cracks would develop and when water gets into it, it results in its failure. So, it has been advised that a wearing course should be put on it. The contractor should not concentrate on placing any binder course -- the wearing course should be put on it because it is water tight to prevent any entry of water. Mr Speaker, the problem is the payment and not the engineer at site.
Question numbered 160, which stands in the name of Hon Humado.
Mr Speaker, I rise to ask the Question on behalf of Hon Humado who has designated me to do so.
All right, Hon Member. Repair of Ferry Landing Point at Anyanui Q. 160. Mr Richard Mawuli Kwaku Quashigah (on behalf of Mr Clement Kofi Humado) asked the Minister for Roads and Highways what plans the Ministry had to repair the ferry landing point at Anyanui in the Anlo Constituency, which is almost broken down.
Mr Speaker, Background The Anyanui landing site which is located in the Keta Municipality was constructed to ferry goods and services across the Volta Lake, when the Lower Volta Bridge, at Sogakope was under construction between 1965 and 1966. Two German construction companies namely: Messrs A. H - Bav Dusseldorf Held and Francke - Bav AG, executed the works on the bridge. From Inspection, the Anyanui landing site is in fair condition. Works on the landing site is minor and would be carried out before the on-going repair works on the ferry is completed. The ferry which commutes from Amedeka through Ada to Anyanui broke down in July, 2016. Current programme The ferry is currently undergoing major rehabilitation works at Ada. It is projected at 75 per cent completion. Funding challenges have however, slowed down the ongoing rehabilitation works on the ferry. Ghana Road Fund is financing the rehabilitation works and is projected for completion by March, 2018. Future programme Concrete works will be carried out to bring the landing site to good condition in 2018. Besides, the estuary to the landing site at Anyanui will require dredging to improve ferry transport.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Deputy Minister described the landing point to be in fair condition and has only minor challenges. Mr Speaker, I would want to inform the Hon Deputy Minister that the concrete slab has completely broken up and could fall into the river anytime. So, to say that it is in fair condition is very relative. Mr Speaker, the Hon Deputy Minister said that work would be completed on the ferry in March 2018, but the substantive issue of concern which is the landing point, he only stated that, it would be completed in 2018. Mr Speaker, when in 2018 would the landing site itself be completed? I ask this because it is expected that the landing point should be in fair condition before the ferry can ply that route.
Mr Speaker, it has been indicated in the Answer that the landing site would be repaired to good condition before the completion of the repair works on the ferry. Because it has not started, that was why we gave 2018, but if the Hon Member wants a definite date, I would not be able
Mr Speaker, the Hon Deputy Minister said that the ferry itself is 75 per cent complete and total work would be done by March 2018. Mr Speaker, I would want to know the total cost of the repair of the ferry.
Mr Speaker, I would not be able to tell the Hon Member how much it would cost, but if he still would want to know, I could get back to the House and indicate the amount of money that has been spent so far on the repair works of the ferry. Mr Speaker, as I indicated, it is funded by the Road Fund and it would not be difficult to get the amount spent so far.
Mr Speaker, I am worried. How did the Hon Deputy Minister come to the conclusion that 75 per cent work had been done when he does not know off hand the total cost of the Project?
Hon Member, supplementary questions should emanate from the Answers that have been given. The Question was about what plans the Ministry had. If you wanted figures you should have asked for them. So, please, restrict yourself to the plans that have been provided.
Mr Speaker, I would imagine that we probe responses that are given —
Hon Member, I have ruled. If you want to ask another question go ahead. Otherwise —
Mr Speaker, how much? [Laughter.] Mr Speaker, is the Hon Minister aware that due to the problem at Anyanui, their market has virtually closed down? In the interim, is there anything that the Hon Minister could do as it were, in order to ensure that the economic activity of the people of Anyanui does not totally grind to a halt?
Hon Minister, do you have any interim programme pending March, 2018?
Mr Speaker, the Anyanui market that he talks of is the reason the Ministry is working very hard in getting the ferry repaired. His question was even not on the ferry. If one repairs landing site without the ferry working, they would not get their market in place. But we went further to let the Hon Member know that the ferry broke down when they were also there in Government. They never thought of it in 2016 — [Laughter] — So, we are working very hard to ensure that the ferry is repaired and also get the Anyanui landing site done. Without the completion of the two, of course, the market cannot operate. So, we are working very hard to ensure that these two are completed so that the market can operate as needed. It broke down when they were there. Mr Quashigah — rose —
Hon Member, you have exhausted your follow- up questions. Hon Members, Question numbered 199. Hon Members, Question time is one hour and I insist on it. We started at 11.40 a.m. and we have done 50 minutes so far. We have 10 minutes more. So, if you make your answers and follow-ups concise, then we can exhaust them. Hon Napare? Construction of Feeder Roads (Sene East Constituency) Q. 199. Mr Dominic Napare asked the Minister for Roads and Highways what steps the Ministry was taking to construct the following feeder roads in the Sene East Constituency: (i) Premuase - Abugame (ii) Kajaji-Atrapa-Ningo (iii) Premuase-Gbili-Aboaso.
Mr Speaker, Background (i) Premuase - Abugame Premuase-Abugame road is 3.0km l ong and forms part of the 31.7km Premuase- Abugame-Togyekope feeder road. It is an un-engineered feeder road in the Sene East District of the Brong Ahafo Region. It is an earth-surfaced road. Current programme There is no major programme on the road for upgrading or rehabilitation. However, engineering design studies was carried out in October, 2017, for the whole Premuase -Abugame - Togyekope feeder road for rehabilitation. Future programme The rehabilitation work is programmed under 2018 periodic maintenance programme for upgrading to gravel surface. Works will commence when funds are available. (ii) Kajaji -Atrapa -Ningo The Kajaji- Atrapa -Ningo feeder road is a 7.0 km un-engineered feeder road in the Sene East District of the Brong Ahafo Region. It is an earth surfaced road. Current programme There is no major programme on the road for upgrading or rehabilitation. Future programme Engineering design studies have been programmed to be conducted in the second quarter of 2018 for upgrading to gravel surface. Thereafter, works will commence when funds are available. (iii) Premuase- Gbili- Aboaso Background The Premuase - Gbili - Aboaso feeder road is 10.5km. It is an un-engineered feeder road located in the Sene East District of the Brong Ahafo Region. Current programme There is no major programme on the road for rehabilitation or upgrading. Future programme The conduction of engineering design studies have been programmed for the second quarter of 2018 for upgrading to gravel surface. Thereafter, works will commence when funds are available.
Mr Speaker, in paragraph 2 of the response of the Hon Minister, he indicated that engineering design studies was carried out in October, 2017, for the whole Premuase-Abugame-Togyekope feeder road. Mr Speaker, is the Hon Deputy Minister aware that copies of engineering works which we have were done in 2016 after the Deputy Regional Director of roads came to meet us on that particular road? Therefore, the date for the engineering work which is captured as October 2017 cannot be entirely correct.
Mr Speaker, available information to the Ministry is that, recently in October, 2017, we carried out engineering design studies. It may be true that the studies had been carried out early on in 2016. But it is always better to have a review of studies that had been carried out because of the advents of rains and other things that may occur to the existing road. So, indeed, we have carried out the engineering design studies in October, 2017. I am not aware that there is an existing studies dated 2016.
Mr Speaker, the Minister indicates that work is programmed under the 2018 periodic maintenance programme for upgrading to gravel surface. Could the Hon Minister assure us that work would commence in 2018, all things being equal?
Hon Minister, could you assure him that work would be completed in 2018?
Mr Speaker, it would depend on the budget and the allocation to the Department of Feeder Roads. I would not be able to indicate firmly that we would carry out periodic maintenance on these roads. We have prepared ourselves. In an event where we have adequate funding, these feeder roads would be carried out.
Hon Member, are you satisfied? Hon Members, the last Question is also in the name of Hon Dominic Napare. Engagement of Contractor towards the Completion of Road Tarring (Atebubu to Kwame Danso Portion of Road) Q. 200. Mr Dominic Napare asked the Minister for Roads and Highways whether the Ministry had been able to engage a contractor to complete the tarring of the Atebubu to Kwame Danso portion of the Atebubu to Kojokrom road.
Mr Speaker, Background The Atebubu - Kwame Danso trunk road is 30.8 km long with gravel surface. The road is located in the Atebubu- Amantin and Sene West Districts of the Brong Ahafo Region. Current programme A contract was awarded for upgrading of the Atebubu - Kwame Danso road km (0.0 - 30.8) on 11th August, 2011. The works commenced on 26th January, 2012 for completion on 25th January, 2014, a period of 24 calendar months. The completion date was extended to 31st August, 2016, as a result of the Employer's undue delay for payment of work done. The contractor suspended works many times during the period, some exceeding twelve (12) months. Consequently, the Project was terminated on the 3rd May, 2016 at the Employer's convenience. Work progress at termination was estimated at 26% physical completion. Future programme The project will be re-packaged for award when funds are available. Routine maintenance works such as grading and sectional patching will be carried out under the 2018 routine maintenance programme to make the trunk road motorable.
Mr Speaker, there have been several terrible accidents on the road, especially after the heavy rains this year, to the extent that many lives have been lost due to the bad nature of the road. Mr Speaker, it is sad to note that, the Paramount Chief of the Bassa Traditional area lost his son last month because of the nature of the road, including a pregnant woman. Several other lives have been and are being lost. Mr Speaker, would the Ministry consider some urgent work to be done on the road, especially grading, such that we can save lives before the 2018 routine maintenance?
Mr Speaker, we have indicated in our Answer that, routine maintenance works would be carried out on the road. But with the background information that he has given us, I would ask the Ghana Highway Authority who is in charge of this trunk road to have another look at the road and see if there are some sections that would have to be improved sections that work require not only grading and sectional patching but maybe some spot improvement works because of drainage problems so that we would not have such accidents occurring. Mr Speaker, indeed, we would have to have a look at the road section again. There are some contractors also working
Are you happy, Hon Member?
Yes, Mr Speaker. Thank you very much.
Very well. That is the end of Question Time. Hon Minister, we thank you for attending upon the House to answer Questions. You are discharged. Hon available Leader?
Mr Speaker, I crave your indulgence that we look at item numbered 8 on page 4 of the Order Paper.
Item numbered 8, the Northern Development Authority Bill, 2017 be now read the Third time. Yes, Hon Chairman of the Committee?
Mr Speaker, I rise to invoke Order 130 -- [Interruption]--
Mr Speaker, I crave your indulgence -- I should have said item numbered 12.
Hon Member, you want item numbered 12 instead of 8?
Yes, Mr Speaker.
Hon Members, item numbered 12 -- Zongo Development Fund Bill, 2017 -- at the Consideration Stage.
BILLS -- CONSIDERATION STAGE
Hon Members, clause 25 -- what is outstanding is for the Question to be put. Question put and amendment agreed to. Clause 25 as amended ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Hon Majority Leader, I am advised that subclauses 1, 2 and 3 of clause 25 were asked to be re-drafted and re-arranged and it has been done. So, you may want to read them out for Hon Members' consideration.
Yes, Hon Chairman?
Mr Speaker, the Hon Second Deputy Speaker who was in the Chair at the time advised that we re- arrange clause 25. So, after the re- arrangement, the Question would be put.
Well, I have put the Question on clause 25 already.
Mr Speaker, we were to re-arrange it to be in sync with what we have been doing thus far to situate it within the imperatives of the Constitution. That is the aspect relating to the performance of the duties of the Auditor-General. That was what we said. Mr Speaker, we have already done so in the other Bills that we have considered. So, we said, to be in sync with those ones, we should just do the re-arrangement. For instance, subclause (1) should read: “The Board shall keep books of accounts and records in relation to the Fund in the form approved by the Auditor-General”. Mr Speaker, we delete the word, “proper”.
“The Board shall submit the accounts of the Fund to the Auditor-General for audit at the end of the financial year.” Mr Speaker, that is the immediate financial year preceding the new one. We have already done that.
-- [Pause] -- “The Auditor-General shall within six months after the end of the immediately preceding financial year audit the accounts and forward a copy of the audit report to the Minister.” Mr Speaker, that is the language that we decided on and as we said, that would be in sync with the constitutional provision. So, it was that re-arrangement that we said should be done and then we decide on that before we come to the long title and then we do the Third reading.
Hon Members, that means that we should put the Question individually on clause 25, subclauses (1), (2) and (3) to cover the amendments; is that right?
Mr Speaker, it would be sufficient to put the Question on clause 25 as amended.
No; that has been done.
Mr Speaker, you said clause 25.
Clause 25 as amended. So, shall we proceed to clause 26 and others? Are there any advertised amendments? Have you done all those already?
Mr Speaker, we finished all those already.
Very well. The Long Title ordered to stand part of the Bill. That brings us to the end of the Consideration Stage of the Zongo Development Fund Bill, 2017.
Mr Speaker, I believe it is important to put this matter on record. We transacted business on clauses 2 (a); 7 (1) (c); 7 (1) (i); clause 8; clause 9 (7); 17 (2); 19 (2); and clause 31. Amendments were filed in the name of the Hon Minority Leader, Hon Haruna Iddrisu. It turned out that those amendments had actually been filed by the Hon Member for Suhum, Hon Opare-Ansah. I believe the Table Office inadvertently put those amendments in the name of Hon
Very well. Let the records so reflect. Item numbered 13, Motion -- Hon Minister for Inner-City and Zongo Development?
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that notwithstanding the provisions of Standing Order 131(1) which require that when a Bill has passed through the Consideration Stage, the Third Reading thereof shall not be taken until at least twenty-four hours have elapsed, the Motion for the Third Reading of the Zongo Development Fund Bill, 2017 may be moved today.
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion. Question put and Motion agreed to. Resolved.
Item numbered 14, Motion -- Hon Minister for Inner-City and Zongo Development? Alhaji Muntaka — rose --
Yes, Hon Minority Chief Whip?
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion moved by the Hon Minority Chief Whip pursuant to Order 130 of our Standing Orders.
Hon Members, the Motion is a procedural one asking us to take the Zongo Development Fund Bill through a Second Consideration Stage in respect of clause 8. Hon Members, I have not put the Question on Hon Muntaka's application. I said the Motion is for the consideration of this House. I was wondering if anybody would speak against this Motion. If not, I would put the Question now.
Mr Speaker, if I heard the Hon Minority Chief Whip well, he applied himself to Order 130 (1), which reads: “If any Member decides to delete or amend a provision contained in a Bill which has passed through the Consideration Stage, or to introduce any new provision to it, he may, at any time before a Member rises to move the Third Reading of the Bill, move that the Bill do pass through a Second Consideration Stage (either wholly or in respect only of some particular part or parts of the Bill or some proposed new clause or new schedule). No notice of such Motion shall be required…” Mr Speaker, I believe this application cannot be entertained because he ought to have done that before the Hon Member move for the Third Reading rose -- [Interruption.] Did he not move the Motion? [Interruption.]
Mr Speaker, we can then situate that within the context. Mr Speaker, but my worry is that what the Hon Member intends to do --
Hon Majority Leader, let us take a decision on whether to allow him or not. When he moves that, then we would consider whether we want to -- because I also heard that the matter was brought up and discussed. So, I believe we should first give him the permission to make his application and we would consider that.
Mr Speaker, with respect, if the Hon Member brought the matter up, the matter was substantially dealt with and he was defeated, if he wants to bring it back, it would be an abuse of the process of the House. That is my worry. Mr Speaker, maybe, if you would want to provide him space, let us listen to him, but I guess we would get to the same conclusion. That would be an abuse of the process of the House. Question put and Motion agreed to.
BILLS -- SECOND CONSIDERATION
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 8, subclause (2), add the following new paragraph, “organise, supervise and manage the annual pilgrims to Mecca (Hajj)”. Mr Speaker, the reason for this is that if we look at the memorandum accompanying the Bill, it talks extensively about social services and also the culture within the Zongo communities. As a country, this is a golden opportunity for us to deal with one major issue, which has to do with the performance of Hajj. This is because it is an integral part of the way of living of our brothers and sisters in the Zongo community. For many years, it has been bedevilled with so many challenges. Mr Speaker, the challenges are such that we, as a House, do not have the opportunity to fine-tune and assist them because they are mostly done on ad hoc and temporary basis. As a result of that, a lot of us suffer abuse when we intend to go for Hajj. My first Hajj was in the year 2004/2005 because that year, the Hajj started around December up till February. It was appalling. At that time, I remember that at
Mr Speaker, I vehemently oppose the amendment put forward by the Hon Minority Chief Whip. Mr Speaker, I refer the House to Standing Order 128(2), and with your permission, I quote: “At the Consideration Stage of a Bill the House shall not discuss the principle of the Bill but only its details”. Mr Speaker, the Hon Minority Chief Whip took us back to the principles of the Bill, and Standing Order 128(2) clearly frowns on what he did. Additionally, Standing Order 128(4) provides: “At the Consideration Stage of a Bill the House may make such amendments as it considers fit, provided that the amendments (including new clauses and new schedules) comply with the following conditions: a) they must be relevant to the subject-matter of the Bill and to the subject-matter of the clause to which they relate; Mr Speaker, all that he has said would belong to the Hajj Bill. We are considering the Zongo Development Fund Bill, 2017 and this has no place in this Bill. He mentioned the Board; this is the Board of the Zongo Development Fund, and not the Hajj Board. So, respectfully, I would advise him to withdraw his amendment, so that we could make progress. This is because this would be at variance with the policy direction of the Government. Mr Speaker, I so submit.
Mr Speaker, if we had a Bill before us called the Hajj Bill, definitely, this would have been a matter that would have been within the province of that Bill. but Mr Speaker, we do not have a Bill before this House called the Hajj Bill, neither do we have a specific Government policy in which it is spelt out that Government is against an Hon Minister for Zongo Affairs superintending over the organisation of the Hajj activities. Mr Speaker, the Hon Minority Chief Whip --
On a point of order.
Very well. The Hon Minister is not responsible for Zongo Affairs.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister who is responsible for Zongo Development -- I think that it is in order to say the Hon Minister who is responsible for Zongo Development. I may not have to add that he is also the Hon Minister for Inner-City and Zongo Development, but if you want me to say Hon Minister for Inner-City and Zongo Development, I so say. Mr Speaker, I think that over the years, we have not had an appropriate legal framework for the organisation of Hajj. Indeed, Hajj has always been managed through the Office of the President. It is because of that sometimes a lot of money that, ordinarily, are for activities like Hajj that are passed through the budget of the Office of the President. This often leads to public outcry regarding the amount of money that is allocated to the Office of the President. It is high time we farm out activities like the organisation of Hajj to the appropriate Ministries to oversee, so that the budget for organising these activities do not pass through the Office of the President and create an impression that over the years, Presidencies expend too much at the expense of other agencies, when indeed the jobs that they do relate to specific agencies. Mr Speaker, it is in that respect that I support the amendment, so that we would use this opportunity to assign to the Hon Minister for Inner-City and Zongo Development, the responsibility to superintend over the organisation of the Hajj. Mr Speaker, yesterday, we had a debate over the proper definition of “Zongo”, and we all agreed that a common thread and an important aspect of “Zongo” affairs is the religion of Islam. As indicated, the performance of the Hajj is the fifth pillar, and it is very important to the religion. So, we should use this opportunity to also assign to the Hon Minister for Inner-City and Zongo Development, the responsibility of superintending over the Hajj. Mr Speaker, that way, it would relieve the Presidency off this perennial problem of constituting committees. These committees, year after year, do not keep proper records. Sometimes, transitions are difficult, and we read issues of accountability from one committee to the other in the media. Mr Speaker, it is neater and tidier if we have an Hon Minister who is accountable and responsible, and a Ministry that would have as one of its major programmes in a year, the organisation of the Hajj. Then we would have a more organised system. Mr Speaker, for this reason, I think that we should consider this as a very important amendment. In my opinion, it does not go against the policy that informs this Zongo Development Fund. Mr Speaker, if we look at the memorandum as the Hon Minority Chief Whip has indicated, we could see that the issue of the organisation of Hajj could become a major aspect of the cultural activities and the community services that could be rendered to Zongo communities. Mr Speaker, on that note, I support the amendment that is proposed, and call on this House that, on this day, we should take advantage of this moment and get this amendment to be passed. This is so that for once, we would put in place a proper system under the Government of the New Patriotic Party to have the national annual Hajj properly organised under an Hon Minister who, in my opinion, is very capable and competent. I hope that this Hon Minister would support this move and initiate it. Mr Speaker, thank you very much.
Hon Members, I would allow one contribution from each Side of the House and then I would put the Question. Hon Patrick Boamah?
Mr Speaker, thank you very much. Mr Speaker, I would like to draw the attention of the Hon Minority Chief Whip to the rationale for the establishment of the Fund. Mr Speaker, I have in my hand the Report of the Committee, which is dated 2nd November, 2017, and with your permission I would read the rationale. “The Committee was informed that the current state of the Zongo communities in Ghana reflects poor sanitation, lack of potable drinking water, lack of healthcare facilities, illiteracy, poor road networks, poor and unplanned housing, among others. The Committee noted that this state of affairs is as a result of years of neglect, defective spatial planning and lack of investment in basic infrastructure in Zongo communities. The Committee is of the view that the establishment of the Fund, with its emphasis on supporting target infrastructure and other social services, …” And not religious activities. “… will help accelerate developments in Zongo communities and overtime bring such communities at par with other settlements in the country.” Mr Speaker, two elements are found in the definition of Hajj; firstly, a person must have the financial capability, and also be physically strong. It is an individual choice. Mr Speaker, I am an Hon Member for a Zongo area, and the two most powerful Imams reside in my constituency; the National Chief Imam and the Hajj Umaru. Mr Speaker, I should have supported this amendment, but it does not sit well with the intendment of the Bill. For that matter, this amendment must be rejected. Mr Speaker, to embark on the Hajj last year, a person had to pay GH¢15,000, and we do not have too much money to throw away. We need money to support the development of the Zongos, but not for people to embark on the Hajj. It is an individual religious belief and faith; I believe in that, and this side of the House believes in that. The President in his wisdom, and the Government in its wisdom, have put together a strong body to oversee the organisation of the Hajj. If there are challenges, then the Hajj Board must fix
Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I have heard the Hon Minority Chief Whip stretch the meaning of the provision of social services to include religion and I would deal with that.
“A heterogeneous community comprising various ethnic groups with different religions where (a) the predominant religion is Islam; (b) the predominant language is Hausa; and (c) the community is characterised by poor living conditions.” Mr Speaker, the Bill concerns itself not with the religion nor the language, but with the poor living conditions of the Zongo communities. Mr Speaker, indeed in paragraph 2 of the memorandum, the Bill makes this explicitly clear. Mr Speaker, it provides that: “Consequently Zongos have peculiar infrastructure deficits, social services deficit, economic deficits and poor sanitation management, which place them in a situation that merits special attention. It is for this reason …” That is the reason alluded to; infrastructure deficits, social services deficit, economic deficits and poor sanitation management. “It is for this reason that the establishment of a Zongo Development Fund has been made one of the seven components of Government's new major economic initiatives designed to take giant leaps in a holistic transformation of Ghana.”
“The benefits to be derived from the establishment of the Fund, by residents of the Zongo communities and the nation at large are wide- ranging. Their living standards will improve as the provision of basic infrastructure such as schools, roads, streets, electricity, water resources, good sanitation, health facilities and job creation opportunities will be enhanced and eventually reduce poverty.” Mr Speaker, this is the crux of the Bill. For anybody to introduce religion is too farfetched. Mr Speaker, this whole Bill is also predicated on the Directive Principles of State Policy, (DPSP) and there are various provisions on that. Under the (DPSP), in article 37, the definition of ‘social services' is provided. It does not include religion. So, I am surprised if anybody would want to transport this, not through the front door but through the window, to say that, this whole business should be supported by -- Mr Speaker, we should recognise that, Ghana is a secular country, and the State has the responsibility, really, not to promote one religion. We should accept this as a fact. We should be careful. Otherwise, we do not know what the other religions would say tomorrow if this platform is created. Certainly, Christians in this country are more than Muslims. What would be the demand of the Christian Community? We have Hindus and Traditionalists here. What would be the demand of all these people, if the State should bend back as it is being demanded now through the window and not through the front door? So, we should be careful. As I said, yesterday, an Hon Member tried to introduce it. It was defeated, and now he is trying to use an unorthodox means to bring it back. Mr Speaker, as I said at the very outset, I do not want to say it is an abuse of the process of this House. I do not want to say that, but somebody else might say that it includes the abuse of this House. Mr Speaker, with respect, I believe the Hon Minority Chief Whip should be called upon to withdraw. If he would not withdraw, I would then urge you to put the Question, so that he is quickly defeated and we move on.
Hon Members, I would put the Question. Hon Minister, I would advise that you do not contribute to this debate.
This brings us to the end of the Second Consideration Stage of the Zongo Development Fund Bill, 2017. Item numbered 14 -- Motions -- Hon Minister for Inner-City and Zongo Development?
BILLS -- THIRD READING
Hon Majority Leader, could we suspend Sitting at this time?
Mr Speaker, respectfully, if we could just take item numbered 7 on the Order Paper - laying of Papers, then we could suspend Sitting.
Very well. Item numbered 7 -- Presentation of Papers by the Hon Minister for Finance.
Mr Speaker, may I seek the indulgence of the House to have the Hon Deputy Minister do so for the substantive Hon Minister?
Very well, Hon Deputy Minister for Finance?
Mr Speaker, this is a Financing Agreement, and you have referred it to the Finance Committee. Mr Speaker, but because it relates to the Ghana Secondary School Education Improvement Project, which the Committee on Education is already working on, I may want to urge that the Leadership and not the entire Committee on Education joins the Finance Committee.
Hon available Leader, the Hon Leader suggests that, in addition to the Finance Committee, we should ask the Leadership of the Committee on Education to join the Finance Committee.
Mr Speaker, I agree with the Hon Leader that the Hon Chairman and Hon Ranking Member and their Hon Deputies join the Finance Committee.
Very well, the Hon Chairman and Hon Ranking Member of the Education Committee and their Hon Deputies are ordered to work with the Finance Committee on the Paper just referred to the Finance Committee.
Now, Hon Chairman of the Finance Committee, item numbered 7 (b)? By the Chairman of the Committee -- Report of the joint Committee on Finance and Mines and Energy on the Semi-Annual Report of the Bank of Ghana on the Petroleum Holding Funds and the Ghana Petroleum Funds for the period July 1 -- December 31, 2016.
Hon Members, item numbered 7 (c) (i). Yes, Hon Chairman of the Joint Committee? By the Chairman of the Committee -- (i) Report of the joint Committee on Finance and Works and Housing on the Credendo-backed Export Credit Facility Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Ghana and the ING Bank of Belgium SA/NV for an amount of twenty-five million, three hundred and forty-one thousand, nine hundred and fifty-eight euros (€25,341,958.00) being loan component of the total project cost of thirty-seven million, six hundred and eighty- three thousand, two hundred sixty-six euros (€37,683,266.00) to finance the Navrongo (Upper East) Water Supply Project.
Yes, Hon Chairman, is item numbered7 (c) (ii) on the Order paper ready?
Mr Speaker, the Report is not ready.
Yes, Hon Majority, it is past 1.00 p.m.
Mr Speaker, we agreed to take a Suspension at 12.30 p.m., it is now 1.30 p.m. But my Hon Colleague, the Hon Minister for Special Initiatives Develop- ment is urging and indeed nagging me that, she is not properly constituted physically. So, she is urging that we bend backwards to accommodate her and do Business on item listed 8 on the Order Paper, which is the Third Reading of the Northern Development Authority Bill, 2017. We were to do it yesterday, but because the Second Deputy Speaker suffered some imperilment, we had to abandon the enterprise and take an adjournment. So, I guess we could, in not more than 20 minutes, deal with it, if Hon Members would indulge her. Mr Speaker, of course, it is subject to your own indulgence and physical constitution.
Hon Members, item numbered 8 on the Order Paper is just the Motion to take the Northern Development Bill, 2017 through a Third Reading. Is that right? - Very well. Yes, Hon available Minority Leader, what is your pleasure?
Mr Speaker, we have a Second Consideration of the Bill to look at. I think there are only about eight items. My Hon Colleagues would be willing to wait, provided the Hon Minister would understand every issue and take good care of the House. [Laugther.] Thank you.
Hon Member, I am not sure I understood you. Is there an intention to take any portion of the Bill through a Second Consideration Stage?
Mr Speaker, the Second Consideration Stage has seven (7) items. I said that, the Hon Minister understands that today is Friday and Hon Members would go to their Constituencies as early as possible. Some of our Hon Colleagues would also have to go to the mosque. If she is prepared to the task, then Hon Colleagues would be willing to take the seven items that have been listed.
Where is the Second Consideration Stage listed on the Order Paper? I do not have any notice of that.
Mr Speaker, on pages 30 and 31 of the Order Paper.
Very well. So, we are not ready to move item numbered 8 yet. We would move to clause 31 of the Bill.
Mr Speaker, as I said yesterday, the Hon Chairman applied for the Bill to go through the Second Consideration Stage. But because we did not conclude, he is seeking permission to continue.
Is it before we suspend Sitting?
Mr Speaker, because there has been considerable winnowing on this, we would not spend more than 15 minutes on it. The Committee has agreed on that.
Very well -- Hon Members, Second Consideration Stage of the Northern Development Bill, 2017.
Yes, Hon Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation --
Mr Speaker, is my Hon good Friend crossing the carpet? He went in front of the Mace and came over at our side. [Laughter.]
The Hon Speaker did not see anything. Yes, Hon Chairman of the Committee, let us proceed. Clause 31?
BILLS -- SECOND CONSIDERATION
[Resumption of debate from 09/11/ 2017]
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 31, add a new subclause as follows: “(2) Without limiting subsection (1), the Regulations shall provide for (a) the objects, design, duration, content, development and implementation of the Master Plan for the Northern Development Authority; (b) the procedure for the revision of the development strategy and plans of the Authority; (c) the criteria for the allocation of development priorities in the Northern Development Zone; (d) the implementation arrange- ments including institutional relations; (e) the procedure for the disbursement of funds; and (f) the demarcation of the boundaries of the Northern Development Zone when a new region is created.” Question put and amendment agreed to. Clause 31 as amended ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 32, Interpretation, add a new definition as follows: “Long Term Plan” means a plan with at least five years duration”.
Mr Speaker, I beg to support the amendment proposed. Question put and amendment agreed to.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 32, Interpretation of “non- governmental organisation”, line 2, before “body” insert “making” and after “body”delete “of persons”. So, the new rendition would be: “Non-Governmental organisation” means a civil society group or non- profit making body formed to pursue purposes that are lawful and that are non-profit but oriented towards public interest.” Question put and amendment agreed to.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 32, Interpretation of “International organisations”, line 1, delete “and” and insert “or”. So, the new rendition would be: “…includes a non-profit or charitable organisation which is incorporated…” Question put and amendment agreed to.
Item number (v).
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 32, Interpretation of “risk finance instrument”, line 1, delete “means” and insert “includes” and also delete “natures” and insert “nature”. Question put and amendment agreed to.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 32, Interpretation of “Vulnerable groups”, line 2, before “disadvantage”, insert “Otherwise”. Question put and amendment agreed to. Clause 32 as variously amended ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 34, subclause (1), before “rights” insert “assets”. So, the new rendition would be: “The assets, rights, obligations and liabilities of the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority …” The only thing that was omitted by the Table Office was “assets” which I seek to insert.
Mr Speaker, what the Hon Chairman has inserted is already in the Bill. I do not know why he is inserting it. Does he suffer from readability issues? [Laughter.]
Mr Speaker, we sought a correction during the first Consideration Stage and we made a mistake in the corrected one and omitted “assets”. So, if you look at the Bill, you would realise that “assets” is there but if you look at the Votes and Proceedings, you would realise that was omitted and that is why I seek to amend that.
Hon Member, the Bill before us does not need any amendment. The Votes and Proceedings is not part of the Bills we are working on so, you may be well advised to withdraw this amendment.
Mr Speaker, I would heed to your advice and withdraw the amendment accordingly and pray that the Table Office captures what I earlier on sought to do. Amendment withdrawn by leave of the House.
Very well, that brings us to the end of the Second Consideration Stage. Item numbered 8 on the Order Paper -- Motion.
BILLS-- THIRD READING
Hon Majority Leader, I believe this is the time we can suspend Sitting.
Yes, Mr Speaker, let me show appreciation to my Hon Colleagues. We agreed to Sit up to 12.30 p.m. and take a suspension and come back at 2 o'clock. Now, it is already 1.45 p.m. so, we can only come back at 3.00 p.m. and not at 2.30 p.m. Mr Speaker, we can take a suspension and come back at
Mr Speaker, I agree with the Hon Majority Leader that we should take a suspension and come back at 3.00 p.m.
Hon Members, we would suspend Sitting and resume at 3.00 p.m. At exactly 3 o'clock, I will come and sit down. Whether Hon Members are here or not, I will not wait as I did yesterday. At exactly 3 o'clock, I will come and sit down. 1.47 p.m. -- Sitting suspended. 3. 35 p. m. -- Sitting resumed.
Hon Majority Leader, shall we be guided?
Mr Speaker, we can now move to item numbered 15 on the Order Paper , The Office of the Special Prosecutor Bill, 2017 to continue with the Consideration Stage.
Very well. Item numbered 15, Office of the Special Prosecutor Bill, 2017, at the Consideration Stage.
BILLS -- CONSIDERATION STAGE
Clause 30, Hon Chairman of the Committee, conside- ration should continue. Clause 30 -- Seizure of tainted property.
Mr Speaker, upon a second thought, we have decided to amend the current rendition. We are
Hon Chairman, which subclause of clause 30 are we dealing with?
Mr Speaker, clause 30 subclause (4).
Can you read the new rendition?
Mr Speaker, the new rendition reads: “Where the Special Prosecutor prefers charges, the Special Prosecutor shall on notice, request the Court to make an order for the continued seizure and retention of the property for a period of two years subject to periodic renewals.”
What is in my—
Mr Speaker, apply to the Court to make an order.
Hon Chairman, are you reading from page 7?
Rightly so, Mr Speaker.
Then, what is in mine is different from what you are reading.
Mr Speaker, this is Friday, 10th November, 2017.
Yes, Friday, 10th November, 2017, on page 17, item numbered 15, (i). Let me read what is in the document: Amendment proposed--Subclause (4), delete and insert the following: “Where the Special Prosecutor prefers charges, the Special Prosecutor shall, on notice, request the Court to make an order for the continued seizure and retention of the property pending final determination of the matter.”
Mr Speaker, that is the original proposed amendment and we are seeking your leave to further amend this proposed amendment.
So, what are we inserting and for what reason?
Mr Speaker, let me take it again. “Where the Special Prosecutor prefers charges, the Special Prosecutor shall, on notice, apply to the Court to make an order for the continued seizure and retention of the property for a period of two years subject to periodic renewals.”
Very well, Hon Members, I will put the Question --
Mr Speaker, we would want to make a further amendment by adding at the end of renewals, ‘until the final determination of the matter. So, let me take it again.
Where the Special Prose- cutor prefers charges, the Special Prosecutor shall, on notice, apply to the Court to make an order for the continued seizure and retention of the property for a
period of two years subject to periodic renewals until the final determination of the matter.” Question put and amendment agreed to.
Hon Members, I would put the Question on the entire clause 30 --
Yes, Hon Member?
Mr Speaker, at the last adjournment date when we had the discussions, there was a concern about preservation. I do not think the clause, as currently amended, takes care of that concern, that when the property has been seized and is detained by the Special Prosecutor, there is no obligation to ensure that the property is preserved in a way that would not make its value deteriorate. I am not sure the clause takes care of that.
Hon Attorney-General, how would the Court or the Special Prosecutor ensure that? It is one of the considerations that would go into determining whether to renew the seizure or to release it. But if you put the burden on the Special Prosecutor, for example, to ensure that the value of the car does not deteriorate, how would he do that? Mr Speaker, I speak from experience because, I remember distinctly that, there were cases where cars were seized by the Narcotics Control Board (NACOB) as a result of prosecutions of narcotic criminals. The cars were left at the yard of NACOB at the mercy of the elements and they all ended up completely damaged. In some cases where convictions were not obtained, the accused persons were not in a position to sue the State for the deterioration of the value of their cars. That is the point I am trying to make, that the court should make such orders as it deems fit for the preservation of the property as seized by the Special Prosecutor.
Mr Speaker, clause 36 of the Bill takes care of that, and when we get there, we would effect the necessary and relevant amendments. So, the Hon Member should be patient and let us get to clause 36. Clause 30 as amended ordered to stand part of the Bill. Clause 31 -- Power to search for tainted property
Hon Chairman, item numbered 15 (ii).
Mr Speaker, before that, let me seek your leave to amend the head note before clause 31, “Power to search for tainted property”. Respectfully, with your permission, I would like to insert “suspected” between “for” and “tainted”. The head note would read: “Power to search for suspected tainted property”.
Mr Speaker, clause 31 is not only on ‘search' but also ‘seizure'. So, I thought that he would rather insert “or seize”, so that it would read, “Power to search for or seize suspected tainted property”. This is because it includes seizure.
You mean we should proceed?
Mr Speaker, I do not know whether the Hon Majority Leader would accept this rendition. “Power to search for and seize suspected tainted property”. Should we delete tainted property? This is because clause 30 talks about seizure of tainted property. So, we would leave this one as it is, except we would add “suspected tainted property”. The new rendition would read: “Power to search for suspected tainted property”. Question put and amendment agreed to.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 31, subclause (1), line opening phrase, delete “or make a seizure” and add “under a search warrant”. The new rendition would read: “An authorised officer shall conduct a search under a search warrant”.
Would that come before clause 31 (a)? This is because clause 31 (a) says “under a search warrant”.
Mr Speaker, we seek to delete subclauses (a) and (b) subsequently but with this particular proposed amendment, we seek to delete “or make a seizure”. So, it would read: “An authorised officer shall conduct a search under a search warrant”.
Hon Chairman, you have confused us. The opening sentence under clause 31 (1) should read: “An authorised officer shall conduct a search” Clause 31 (1) (a) comes under a search warrant and clause 31 (1) (b) as an emergency search or seizure.
We would delete clause 31 (1) (a) and (b) subsequently and would not replace them. Clause 31 would deal only with searches under search warrants.
Mr Speaker, it is a bit confusing because when the Hon Chairman says he would subsequently delete clause 31 (1) (a) and (b), is it clause 31 (1) (a) as amended that he would delete? I ask that is because I would have thought that, the right thing would have been to delete clause 31 (1) (a) and (b) and insert a new amendment that would read: “An authorised officer shall conduct a search under a search warrant” He would delete the emergency component, that is the power to conduct emergency searches and seizures.
That is the same thing, except that instead of making a search warrant a sub-subclause, he would add it to the same sentence and delete subclauses (a) and (b).
That is right, Mr Speaker. That is the proposal the Hon Chairman sought to make.
That is so, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, when you look at clause 32 of the Bill, it deals with searches in emergencies. Clause 31 (1) talks about searches under a search warrant or as an emergency search or seizure. Clause 31 (1) (b), as far as clause 32 (1) is concerned, is repetitive. So, we seek to delete clause 31 (1) (b) and clause 31 (1) (a) but bring subclause (a) “under a search warrant” as part of clause 31 (1).
So, after it, clause 31(1) (a) and (b) would cease to exist. Hon Members, I believe it is clear now. Question put and amendment agreed to.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 31, subclause (1), paragraphs (a) and (b), delete. Question put and amendment agreed to.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 31, subclause (2), paragraphs (a) before “tainted” insert “suspected”.
(2) “An authorised officer shall (a) search a person in respect of suspected tainted property;” Question put and amendment agreed to..
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 31, subclause (2), paragraphs (b), line 1, delete “land or” and unless the context otherwise requires, delete “land” wherever it occurs in the Bill and further in line 2, before “tainted” insert “suspected”.
(2) “An authorised officer shall (b) enter any premises and conduct a search in respect of suspected tainted property and seize in the course of the search, the property which the authorised officer believes on reasonable grounds to be tainted property”. Mr Speaker, I would want to seek your permission to delete the word “property' that comes after the word “tainted”. So, the new would be: (2) “An authorised officer shall (b) enter any premises and conduct a search in respect of suspected tainted property and seize in the course of the search, the property which the authorised officer believes on reasonable grounds to be tainted”.
Yes, Hon Member?
Mr Speaker, I feel we should maintain the words “lands or premises” because some property may be hidden on a parcel of land. So, if we would want to confine ourselves to the word “premises” and delete the word “land”, then it would mean that where it is suspected that something has been hidden on a particular parcel of land, it cannot be searched.
Yes, Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, the word “premises” has been defined to include “any house, building, structure, tent, caravan, ship, boat, aircraft and mechanically propelled vehicle”. Mr Speaker, the word “premises” usually refer to landed property and its grounds, so, we intend to have a better definition of premises which would capture what the Hon Colleague would want us to introduce.
Hon Majority Leader, would it capture “bare land”?
Yes, Mr Speaker. Lands and its grounds -- landed property and its grounds.
Very well. Question put and amendment agreed to.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 31, subclause (3), opening phrase before “tainted” insert “suspected”.
“A search in respect of suspected tainted property …” Question put and amendment agreed to.
Mr Speaker, I would want to seek your leave to make an amendment in respect of clause 31(3) (b) although it has not been advertised. Mr Speaker, I beg to move, subclause (3), paragraph (b), line 1, after, ‘in', insert “the possession of”.
(b) “property in the possession of …”
No, Hon Chairman of the Committee, I think it should read: (b)”property in the possession or apparently under the control of the person” or, “under the apparent control”.
Mr Speaker, I would want us to delete the whole of paragraph (b) and insert the new rendition. “property in the possession or under the apparent control of the person being searched”.
Hon Members, are we clear? Then I will put the Question. Question put and amendment agreed to.
Mr Speaker, I wanted to make a proposed amendment, though not advertised in respect of subclause (6), paragraph (a), which reads, “intercept, detain” —
Hon Member, please, hold on. I did not pronounce the vote on the amendment. I thought you were going to arrest that vote. Question put and amendment agreed to.
Hon Members, now the proposed one is on subclause (6).
Mr Speaker, that is so.
“Intercept, detain and open the article in the course of transmission by postal or courier service;” Mr Speaker, I propose that we delete the word “open”. The reason is simply because I would want to propose an amendment that would ensure that the parcel is not opened except in the presence of the court or the person suspected of committing a corruption or a corruption-related offence. Mr Speaker, the rationale is simple; usually, in the course of investigation, if the investigators seize or intercept a postal package, the best practice is to open it in the presence of a judge. The reason is that because they are investigating an offence, it is possible that they may interfere in the parcel in a way that is incriminating to the suspect. Mr Speaker, because of article 18 of the Constitution, which guarantees the right to the privacy of communications, it is important that we do this in the presence of a judge. Supposing, for instance, the investigating authorities open the parcel and there is nothing incriminating but they want to incriminate the person, they can put something incriminating in there and say that it belongs to the person. So, this is just in compliance with the constitutional right to the privacy of communications.
So, what is the rendition you are proposing?
Mr Speaker, I am proposing that we delete the word “open” in paragraph (a) of subclause (6). And so, it would then read: “intercept and detain the article in the course of transmission by postal or courier service.”
Mr Speaker, I would want to seek clarification. Is the “open” part going to be completely deleted? This is because I thought he said the important thing is that, when it is going to be opened, it has to be in the presence of a judge. So, he must add a further amendment somewhere.
Mr Speaker, in response to that question, the “open” would be deleted in paragraph (a), but I am proposing a new subclause (7), which would then be the protection clause.
Hon Members, let us look at the entire clause 31 again — Power to search for suspected tainted property. If you suspect that a parcel is tainted and it is not opened, how can you confirm your suspicion? I agree to the portion which says that it should be opened in the presence of the owner of the parcel so that if there is something untoward in it, he would be a witness. But if you just detain it, you would not open and you cannot confirm your suspicion and you would not have any basis for detaining it.
Mr Speaker, instances exist where, in trying to send information across, or a parcel from one country to the other, the laws empower the security agencies to open and search even without the presence of the owner and then re- parcel it if they find nothing wrong. So, I do not know how this can be seen in line with that. This is because if we say it should be intercepted without being opened, I do not know what the value of the interception is. And besides that, these days, virtual messages are intercepted and one can open them. For example, I can open the inbox of a person, search and find what I need. If there is a law that says one can only intercept and not open and one opens my inbox in the course of investigation, I can take the person to court.
I think we want to provide for the situation where, we can confirm our suspicion when we suspect something. But we also fear that, for example, if you open my parcel in my absence and you come to say that what is in it was mine, I would say, no, you put it there. And so, if we intercept but then open it in the presence of the owner, then whatever is in it, we would know that it was actually intended for him, if he was not the one who sent it.
Mr Speaker, I believe the Hon Member, Dr Dominic Ayine, would want us to err on the side of caution. Mr Speaker, notwithstanding, these days, in the era of terrorism and terror related activities, if one is traveling outside and the workers at the airport have reasonable grounds to suspect that a person is bringing in the country any substance or equipment that could be harmful, they have every right to open it. Mr Speaker they would open, and perhaps, seal it, just like you did, and at the destination, the person would go for the parcel and they would be on the person and when they have course to suspect, they would have communicated to those people there that they should be careful about such a person. Then in your presence, they would ask whether the bag is yours and if you declare that the bag is yours, you may be asked to open it. They would open and search it. They would ask if these things are for you. They would ask if anybody has given you anything and when you say no, it belongs to you. When you open it and then you have those things there and you say that it should be done in your presence back home? Mr Speaker, we should be a bit careful. We should be circumspect about this.
Hon Members, these are operational matters that we cannot legislate for.
Mr Speaker, just to add to what the Hon Majority said I have travelled several times to the United States of America (USA), where they packed my bag and they indicated to me that they have opened it without my presence. They do random searches. So, there is no judge. And so, if we do not do this “open” here — I do not understand. It is the practice now, and so why must we have a judge?
Mr Speaker, I am grateful. I believe we should be mindful of not inhibiting the security officers who would be involved in these charges. Like my Hon Colleague said, I have had instances where, having travelled from the USA, I arrived only to see a piece of paper slipped in my luggage notifying me that my luggage had been searched. Mr Speaker, I believe when officers of the law do have genuine grounds to suspect an item that is illegal, they should be clothed with the requisite powers to be able to open and search without so, we should be minded not to inhibit our security officers in discharging their duties.
Mr Speaker, inasmuch as I agree with all the examples that have been given, all of them relate to travels, and in making laws, context is very important. We are dealing with corruption in the domestic context. So, the point I am making is that we may have situations where the officers that my Hon Member for Kumbungu trusts so much may seek to incriminate the person being investigated. So, as a precaution against the tendency to incriminate, the opening should be done in the presence of the person. That is where the confirmation of the suspicion takes place. I do not see anything wrong with this. Mr Speaker, we are doing this out of the abundance of caution. We are not saying that the officers would be disempowered from opening the parcel. We are saying that it should be opened in the suspect's presence. In my case, I propose that it should be done in the presence of the judge. This is best practice. In the context of terrorism, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) of the United States of America, for instance, does not open a parcel unless it is in the presence of a judge. I can give a U.S. Legislation or even bring textbooks to prove what I am saying. Mr Speaker, so, the context is very important. If we say that it should be opened in the presence of the suspect, how does that disempower the investigating officers or the Special Prosecutor? We should just legislate in accord with constitutional rights. The Constitution guarantees one's right to the privacy of communication. When I post something and it is intercepted on suspition, that it contains corruption or corruption related materials, why can the investigating authorities not open it in my presence? How does that disempower them? Mr Speaker, I would implore my Hon Colleagues to understand that this is just a caution against abuse.
Mr Speaker, I appreciate my Hon Colleague's concern, but if I am a suspect and I refuse to be present, what happens? Yes, the suspect can choose to disappear and that would inhibit the investigation. In such a case, what do we do? If the officers call me and I tell them I am not available, and time is passing -- It can even happen in an extreme case where the person has even runaway. So, we have to be careful.
Mr Speaker, I would want to take a bit of sides with what my Hon Colleague, Dr Dominic Ayine, is proposing, except that the issue is, in our cultural environment, we have not yet reached where we can trust that this cannot be used politically against somebody. Mr Speaker, we must take notice of it, that in the western world, there are systems that are quite transparent with their own checks and balances, such that even though we talk about somebody's human rights, the bigger picture is what they look at. So, if a suspect is not present, they can decide to tamper the suspect's bag but they would do it believing that they are doing a genuine and exact job. Our worry here is that if we say they should open this without the presence of the person, do we have that level of transparency in our system? We are talking about a law that would be against politically-exposed persons. Mr Speaker, we should tread carefully when we are starting a new process which has not been tested yet, and in my view, we do not have transparent systems as western cultures. Perhaps, in the new rendition, we should put a protection clause but maintain that the opening should be done in the presence of the person just to protect and ensure that people are quite safe and are confident when some kind of decision is taken on their case.
Mr Speaker, if you read the entire clause 6, as the Hon Dr Ayine is referring us to, the exercise would be conducted at the instance of the court. So, his fears are even allayed. Clause 31 (6) provides and with your permission, I beg to quote: “The Court shall consider an application without notice which claims that communication in any medium including an article sent by post or through a courier service is likely to contain information that may be relevant to an investigation or prosecution under paragraph (b) of section 3 and the Court shall, where appropriate, order an authorised officer to ....”
Hon Majority Leader, it means that all this while, we have been wasting time for nothing. [Laughter.]
Absolutely, Mr Speaker. It was taken out of context. I wonder how many of us would address our minds to where we are coming from. Hon Ayine may want to withdraw or you may put the Question.
Mr Speaker, I do concede the point the Hon Majority Leader is making in terms of taking clause 31 (6) as a whole. But I still believe that it is important that it is opened in the presence of the suspect. Despite the involvement of the court, it should be opened in the presence of the suspect.
Hon Member, we expect the court to take all those into consideration in making an order, whether to agree to that request or otherwise.
Mr Speaker, with all due respect to the position of the Hon Majority Leader, it is not so in practice. Mr Speaker, sometimes, these applications are sent ex parte even to the houses of the judges. As a practitioner, my learned colleague, the Hon Afenyo- Markin is here. We have done extensive practice in criminal -- They do this all the time.
Hon Member, what the court fails to do is always subject to an appeal. What we are saying here is that the court should have the power to order parcels to be opened upon application even in the absence of the suspect because we would want to confirm a suspicion. His application was that it should be opened in the presence of the judge. Apparently, it is the same provision that we were talking about. But this argument that the judges may not consider all the appropriate -- Perhaps, if we think like that, we can never provide for any powers to be given to the court. This is because sometimes, the judges are not fair. But that is why there is a layer where you appeal? and proceed. I would put the Question on the entire clause 31. Clause 31 as amended ordered to stand part of the Bill. Clause 32 -- searches in emergencies
Hon Members, clause 32 has no advertised amendment.
Yes, Hon Afenyo-Markin?
In respect of clause 32?
We are done with clause 31. I am moving on -- I have already called clause 32.
Hon Member, if you file an application and relate it to the EOCO approach, we would deal with it but we would not be drawn back. We have been here since morning and we would want to make progress, please.
Mr Speaker, I believe you said earlier that there is no advertised amendment on clause 32. But in Roman numeral (viii), I see a clause 32. I do not know if it is a mistake. The last amendment on page 8 -- I do not know if it is a typographical error. [Interruption.]
Mr Speaker, then it should have come up.
You are right; there is clause 33 after which we also see clause 32. Hon Chairman of the Committee, do you have an amendment to clause 32?
Mr Speaker, this should have come before clause 33; it has been wrongly placed.
Very well. We would go to clause 32 and discuss any amendment there.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 32, subclause (2), paragraph (b), line 2, delete “will” and insert “may”. The new rendition would be: “anything the authorised officer believes on reasonable grounds may afford evidence as to the commission of another offence”
Very well, Hon Members, it is for the Consideration of the House.
Mr Speaker, following the previous amendments in the renditions that were submitted, I thought that clause 32(1)(a)(i) should be; “is suspected tainted property”. So, we should have the word “suspected” there. Previously, we said that we should put “suspected tainted property”.
Hon Member, I do not follow your argument. The Hon Chairman has moved an amendment in respect of clause 32(2) (b). Is that the one you are relating to?
Mr Speaker, no. I was looking at the fact that they said that clause 32(1) (a) (i) has no amendment but I am suggesting that --
Kindly let me finish with the amendment before and then I would give you audience.
Mr Speaker, the fear of my Hon Colleague is covered by the opening sentence in clause 32. And with your permission, I read: “(1) Where an authorised officer suspects on reasonable grounds that (i) a particular property is tainted' So, we cannot bring another ‘suspected' there. Mr Speaker, the amendment has not been dealt with, but before then, there is about the same thing in clause 32(1)(a)(ii): “may” should replace “will”.
Hon Majority Leader, I do not follow your line of thought.
Mr Speaker, clause 32(1)(a) provides and I beg to quote: “Where an authorised officer suspects on reasonable grounds that a) a particular property iii)will provide evidence …” Mr Speaker, I am suggesting that we delete the “will” and rather put “may”-- We suspect that the particular property may provide evidence.
Let us finish with the amendment that has been moved and then we can open up clause 32 to further amendments. Hon Chairman, your amendment is that, we delete “will” after grounds in the second line and substitute that with “may”. Is that right?
Mr Speaker, rightly so. Question put and amendment agreed to. Hon Majority Leader, may I hear your proposed further amendments?
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 32 (1) (a)(i) after “tainted” delete, “property”. The new rendition would be: “Where an authorised officer suspects on reasonable grounds that
“a particular property is tainted property”?
Mr Speaker, do you remember that we just finished with clause 31(2) (a) which states: “An authorised officer shall a) search a person in respect of suspected tainted property; …” Mr Speaker, we just finished with one and we did not repeat --
Very well. Hon Chairman --
Mr Speaker, it does not hurt if we should leave it there in that particular one.
Yes, I do not think that it hurts.
Mr Speaker, the more important one is clause 32 (1) (a) (ii). It should read: “a particular property ii) “may provide evidence” instead of “will provide evidence.”
I am being advised that the draftpersons believe that “will” is necessary here because we have already found evidence that the property is tainted --
Mr Speaker, with respect, that is not so.
“Where an authorised officer suspects on reasonable grounds that…”
Mr Speaker, it is suspicion and evidence has not been found. So, it cannot be right, with respect to the advice being proffered.
Very well. It is for the consideration of the House.
Mr Speaker, I am in support of the position of the present amendment. This is because we are basing our actions on suspicion and therefore, we cannot be using “will” when it has to be “may”. So, when they go in and they do not succeed, then they can go back. But if we are saying “will”, there is some level of certainty. So, I am in favour of the present amendment being proposed by the Leader of the House. Question put and amendment agreed on.
Are there more proposed amendments to subclause (2)?
Mr Speaker, under clause 32(1) (a) (ii): “may provide evidence as to the commission of an offence under paragraph (b) of subsection 3…” Mr Speaker, rather “subclause (3)”
There is no subclause (3) provided in clause 32.
Mr Speaker, clause 32 (2) (a), line 2: “grounds to be suspected tainted property”.
I think the same proposal was made by Hon (Dr) Dakura and his attention was drawn to the fact that the clause itself starts from: “Where an authorised officer suspects on reasonable grounds that …”
I think we should insert “suspected” before “tainted” in line 2 of clause 32(2) (a).
Mr Speaker, I would disagree in the sense that with respect to clause (32)(2) (a), it says: “… property that the authorised officer believes on reasonable grounds to be tainted property;” Mr Speaker, I think that it is correct.
Very well. Hon Member for Effutu, now your proposed subclause (3).
Hon Member, clause 30 deals with seizure and if you go back you would see that we have done that already.
Hon Member, what I am saying is that we have dealt with seizure in its application to the court, and the time limit within which the court could hold it. We have done all that in the amendments.
“The Special Prosecutor shall direct the authorised officer or police officer, to release the seized property to the person from whom it was seized if no charges are preferred against the person within sixty days after the seizure.” Mr Speaker, the amendment that was done was in respect of where the Special Prosecutor prefers charges, and upon notice apply to the court to make an order for the continuous seizure and retention of the property until the final determination of the matter. Mr Speaker, my proposed amendment is to the effect where seizure is done for the purpose of investigation, but this one has to do with going to court and applying to the court for the continuous seizure of the property when trial has commenced. Mr Speaker, I am looking at this in respect of seizing the property for the purpose of investigation. If we look at the EOCO Act, it says that we could seize, but if you seize, then within 48 hours you must apply to the court for a confirmation of the seizure. Again, the EOCO Act provides that if within two weeks after the seizure, the person is not charged, then the property must be released. Mr Speaker, I concede that the provisions here are different. However, we cannot give the Special Prosecutor the power to continuously seize property under the guise of investigation without getting the court to confirm same. Mr Speaker, so with respect, the proposed amendment is completely different from what has already been done under clause 30 (2) and (3).
So, how does what you are doing sit in “Searches in emergencies” as it is under clause 32?
Yes, we are dealing with clause 32 -- Searches but you are talking about seizure. It does not sit in this context.
Hon Member, go to clause 30 (2).
Hon Member, does this clause estop the affected person from applying to the court to discharge his property?
Hon Member, you are holding us back because we have finished with clause 30 (2). If you read through the entire Bill, you would find the place where your proposed amendment is. I do not think it belongs here. In any case, we have provided for seizing the property while investigating and holding it for 60 days. Do you think that within the 60 days we should apply to court to get a confirmation? From your experience you know that it could take three months to get this done. Meanwhile, we have said that once the Special Prosecutor decides to charge the person, then he must go to court for a confirmation. If he is not charged within 60 days then we must release his property. I believe it is sufficient. So, if you would want to make an amendment, then it would be on clause 30 where we have provided for holding it for 30 days. So, you could come through a Second Consideration Stage. Let us deal with clause 32 and move on from there. Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, my attention has been drawn to a typographical error in clause 32(1) (a) that we dealt with. If the Hon Chairman would apply himself to it; I am talking about the one that I proffered the amendment to; which is clause (32) (1) (a) (ii): With your permission, I read: “will provide evidence as to the commission of an offence under paragraph (b) of subsection 2,”
This is where the problem is because subsection 3 --
Mr Speaker, subsection 2 is what we are dealing with, and paragraph (b) of subsection 2 is where it is necessary to exercise the power of search and seizure in order to prevent the concealment, loss or destruction of property. Mr Speaker, I believe it should rather be subsection 2 (b) and not subsection 3.
Hon Chairman, there is no section 3 here. So, what do you mean?
Mr Speaker, it is (b) of subsection 2.
Very well. Question put and amendment agreed to.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 33, headnote, delete and insert “Property not covered by warrant during search”. Mr Speaker, the Headnote “Application of Part Two of Act 30” is being deleted, and in its place, “Property not covered by warrant during search” is substituted. Question put and amendment agreed to.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 33, subclause (2), paragraph (b), line 2, delete “will” and insert “may”.
“any article the authorised officer believes on reasonable grounds may afford evidence as to the commission of the offence or commission of an offence,” Mr Speaker, this one should fall because the authorised officer believes on reasonable grounds, and so we cannot qualify it with “may”. It has to be “will”. If it were “… suspects on reasonable grounds may afford”, to me it is more appropriate and elegant. But to say “believes on reasonable grounds”, “believe”, connotes some amount of certainty. I do not think “may afford evidence” sounds well. So, I would beg to withdraw this proposed amendment.
But we have just done this amendment on clause 32 subclause (2) (b). So, we have to be consistent. It is either we are using “may” or “will”. This is because, we have just changed “will” to “may” in clause 32 (2). Otherwise, it would give rise to problems of interpretation. Yes, Hon Member for Wa West?
Mr Speaker, I support the argument the Hon Chairman is making. We are making a law. Because we are used to “shall” and “may”, in everything, we would want to change to the two. But the context here does not make it “may afford”, if it is unreasonable. But if we would want to be consistent, it means that we would write laws that are so stale. It is always the context we should look at. If we do not change this to “may”, the inconsistency would be running through. This is because, the draftpersons earlier suggested that we use the “will”. We said, no, we would change it to “may”. So, if it is the principle we are following, that is all right. Otherwise, it should be “will”.
Mr Speaker, I believe there is a difference, especially, in clause 32, (1), where the provision reads with your permission: “where an authorised office suspects on reasonable grounds”,
Hon Chairman of the Commitee, what I was trying to draw your attention to is that, if you go to clause 32, (2)(b), the rendition is the same: “(b) anything the authorised officer believes on reasonable grounds will afford evidence as to the commission of another offence,” We changed that to “may”.
Mr Speaker, it is wrong.
So, you might want to withdraw this amendment. Then we might go back and withdraw the amendment carried under clause 32, subclause (2) (b).
Mr Speaker, yes.
Very well. But let us deal with this one. Note this down so that, if we do a Second Consideration Stage, we do it before we close. Amendment withdrawn by leave of the House.
Hon Chairman, my attention has also been drawn to the amendment we effected in clause 32, clause 32 (1) (a) (ii),. Apparently, the subsection 3 was referring to subsection 1 of section 3, which is to provide evidence as to the commission of an offence under paragraph (b) of subsection 3. Note that down so that we effect the appropriate amendment.
Mr Speaker, is it subsection 1 of section 3?
Yes. Yes, Hon Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation?
Mr Speaker, the lawyers are using language I do not understand, but this is simple English language. I believe the Hon Attorney-General and Minister for Justice agrees with me. Instead of having “will afford”, we should delete “will” and simply say “affords”. Then, the “will” or “may” issue does not arise. With the subclause 2 paragraph (b) we are dealing with and, this language of “will afford”, if we take the “will” and just say, “…on reasonable grounds affords evidence as to the commission of another offence,” I believe it would solve the problem.
Yes, Hon Chairman?
Mr Speaker, we have been going back and forth, but the Hon Minister for Justice and Attorney-General proposed that instead of “will afford”, we should just say “affords”.
Yes, that was why I asked for your pleasure.
Mr Speaker, I do not think that it makes a difference. Once we have used “will afford”, I think that we should maintain it.
So, should we leave it as it is? Are you not proposing any amendment?
No, Mr Speaker.
Very well, let us proceed.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 33, subclause (2), closing phrase after paragraph (b), line 2, delete “considered” and insert “deemed”
Is that not what we just did?
No, Mr Speaker, we have not done that. Clause 33, subclause (2).
Hon Chairman, are you dealing with item numbered 15 (x)?
Rightly so, Mr Speaker.
All right. Question put and amendment agreed to. Clause 33 as amended ordered to stand part of the Bill. Clause 34 -- Offences related to search, seizure and obstruction of authorised officer.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 34 -- delete Mr Speaker, we would relocate it under the miscellaneous provision. Question put and amendment agreed to. Clause 34 as amended ordered to stand part of the Bill. Clause 35 -- Property tracing.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 35 -- delete (relocate) Question put and amendment agreed to. Clause 35 as amended ordered to stand part of the Bill. Clause 36 -- Record of seized property.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 36, head note, after “Record” insert “custody and management” So, the new rendition would read: “Record, custody and management of seized property.” Question put and amendment agreed to.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 36, subclauses (1), (2), & (3), delete and insert the following: “(1) An authorized officer who seizes property with or without a search warrant shall; (a) make and deliver to the person from whom the property is seized a written record of the property; and (b) hand over a copy of the record and custody of the property to the Special Prosecutor within seventy- two hours from the time of seizure. (2) Where the property seized is perishable, the Special Prosecutor shall inform the person from whom the property is seized of intended sale of the property and apply to the Court for an order for (a) the sale of the property; and (b) payment of the proceeds into an interest bearing account until the final determination of the matter.” Question put and amendment agreed to. Clause 36 as variously amended ordered to stand part of the Bill. Clause 37 -- Return of seized property.
Mr Speaker, before clause 37, subclause (2), I would like to propose an amendment to clause 37 (1). Mr Speaker, clause 37(1) refers to a person who claims an interest to the property that has been seized. This may not necessarily be the person who is the subject matter of the investigation. I would want propose that after “date” in line 2, we should insert “notice”. Mr Speaker, the new rendition would read, if that is all right and acceptable to the House: “A person who claims interest in property seized under this Act shall apply to the Court within ninety days after the date and notice of seizure.” This is because the claimant may not be in the known of the order of the court. So, I would like to propose that time should begin to run as soon as the claimant becomes aware of the order of the court. Mr Speaker, the way it has been crafted currently, it seems that as soon as the order is made, whether he is aware or not, time begins to run. I believe that is not proper; unless, somebody thinks otherwise.
Hon Chairman, I get what you want to put across, but the amendment does not make it elegant. Yes, Hon Yieleh Chireh?
Mr Speaker, the Hon Chairman should drop the amendment. This is because he means that if somebody has an interest and he knows that the property has been seized, he has 90 days within which to apply to the Court. Now, he says it should be after 90 days' notice. Who would give the notice? In any case, we would not know that somebody is interested --
Hon Member, what it meant was that, the ninety days should run from the date the claimant became aware. That was why I said that the way it has be crafted does not bring that out.
Mr Speaker, that is so. It is difficult for a person to know that his property has been seized. This is because he would not know that it has been seized. Who should give the notice? Mr Speaker, even if we want the notice to be given, is it when the person becomes aware? How would the person know? If someone has an interest in a property and it has been seized, but somebody else is the suspect, when would that notice get to the person whose property has been seized? That was why I said that it is not within 90 days, if one has but one cannot wait interminably, who should give that notice? We must give somebody the responsibility; but the only notice we could give may be to gazette it. If we gazette the notice and the person sees it, then everybody would, by the gazette, be notified.
Yes, Hon Member for Effutu?
Hold on. I gave the floor to the Hon Member for Effutu.
I am sorry.
Hon Kom, am I right?
Mr Speaker, my name is Alexander Kodwo Kom Abban. Mr Speaker, I believe that the Hon Member for Effutu has really articulated what I wanted to say. So, to that extent, I have nothing more to add.
Hon Chairman, what we would want to be clear on how a person who has an interest in a property, but is not the suspected criminal would get notice. You are trying to say that time does not run against him until he has notice? Then you may have to make a provision for gazetting the fact of the seizure of the property. Is that right?
Rightly so, Mr Speaker.
In that case, you may need to provide another subclause to deal with that. So, what is your pleasure at this stage?
Mr Speaker, if we could step it down for a while or we try to -- [Interruption.]
The time period for bringing the application is as important as the time he becomes aware. So, you cannot delete “within ninety days”. Your proposal should include that. I get the attention, get notice today, and within ninety days from the day I get the notice, I can bring the action. That was what I suggested that --
Let me also suggest something. “A person who claims an interest in a property seized under this Act shall within ninety days after becoming aware of the seizure …” It does not have to be upon notice. If we say “upon notice”, it means somebody has to give him notice. But when he becomes aware, then time starts to run against him. It does not have to be under notice. You become aware not necessarily because somebody gives you -- Hon Ahiafor, let me hear what you also have.
Mr Speaker, in these circumstances, how would we establish that the person is or not aware of the seizure? It is only through the notice that we would be able to prove that the person is aware, but to use the word --
But the person is at large so, how do we give him notice? Even when it is seized, you do not know who else has an interest.
So, Mr Speaker, in circumstances of this nature, the seizure would have to be published widely to give notice to those who have interest.
Hon Members, let us flag it and discuss it further. As it was said, we may need to publish a gazette, and then from the date of the publication of the gazette, we could start counting. From that period, one would be deemed to have notice.
Mr Speaker, I would just want to give an example.
I have not given you the Floor; I have given it to Hon Ayine.
Mr Speaker, I think the focus is on when time begins to run for purposes of determining the 90 day period given to the third party claimant. So, I would propose that we say:
Mr Speaker, I believe that when we talk about notice, how is the notice brought to his knowledge? So, I believe that what would solve this problem is when the order of the Court is gazetted. We know that when gazetting is done, that is a straight notice to the whole world including any person who claims an interest in the property. So, Mr Speaker, I think we have a problem with the way to re-craft the rendition. So, we should flag it, Sit, and return to it at the appropriate time.
Hon Members, clause 37(b) is flagged. Let us move on. Item number 15(xvi), clause 38? Clause 38 -- Mutual legal assistance.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 38 -- delete Mr Speaker, once again, we are relocating clause 38 to the miscellaneous provision.
Very well. Question put and amendment agreed to. Clause 39 -- Freezing of property.
The first advertised amendment is in the name of the Hon Minority Leader. Dr Ayine (on behalf of the Hon
Mr Speaker, I beg to move clause 39, subclause (1), line 3, delete “may” and insert “shall”.
Mr Speaker, may he give the reason for the deletion and replacement with ‘shall'?
Mr Speaker, the simple reason is that we want to make it mandatory that where the Special Prosecutor considers that freezing the property is necessary, he shall in writing, direct the freezing of that property, so that he has no discretion in the matter.
Hon Chairman, the point is that you have the discretion to determine what is necessary for your work. Once you have made that determination, then, he shall necessarily freeze it. Is that right? Very well. Question put and amendment agreed to.
Clause 39, Hon Dr Ayine?
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 39, subclause (2), line 1, delete “sixty” and insert “thirty”. Mr Speaker, I think the time period for the Special Prosecutor to apply to the Court for the confirmation of the freezing is too long. I think that within 30 days, he should be able to make a determination whether it is an appropriate time for him to apply to the Court or not. So, I would want us to shorten the period of confirmation.
We have in clause 30 (2), used thirty days. That is when the property is seized, and this one is when the property is frozen. What is the difference? Where is Hon Afenyo- Markin? He would wait when we are gone and he would come back to make an argument about the EOCO Act. Yes, Hon Dr Assibey-Yeboah?
Mr Speaker, you asked where Hon Afenyo-Markin was.
He just went out to the bathroom.
To the bathroom.
Did he tell you that?
Yes, Mr Speaker.
I will find out when he comes if that was where he went to. Yes, Hon Dr Dakura?
Mr Speaker, I still think that the 60 days — I hope the new rendition is all right because the thirty days within the 60 days -- So that if we were to look at the job being done within 30 days, it is fantastic. If not, we do not have to go back in terms of limitations of what we have drawn by ourselves to look at 30 days. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Yes, Hon Ahiafor?
Mr Speaker, I thank you for giving me the opportunity. What we are talking about here is application to the Court for confirmation. Why should just applying to the Court to get a confirmation or a freezing order take a whooping 60 days or 30 days? Mr Speaker, I would want to propose a further amendment, that it should be within 14 days. This is because one would just be putting in the application, it is not to get the order. So, freezing somebody's property just to put in the application for a confirmation, should it take thirty whole days? Mr Speaker, I think fourteen days within which to apply is reasonable. EOCO is about 48 hours.
Hon Chairman of Committee?
Mr Speaker, I believe 30 days is all right, except that I would like to make a further amendment to clause 39 (2). The application to the court should be on notice. That is: “The Special Prosecutor shall within thirty days after the freezing of the property, apply on notice to the Court.”
I think we can bring “on notice” at the end. “Shall apply to the Court for a confirmation of the freezing order on notice to the affected party”.
Yes, Hon Member?
Mr Speaker, I would want to support the Hon Chairman's amendment by citing what we did in the EOCO Act. Sorry, the confirmation here is actually ex parte.
Let me listen to Hon Afenyo-Markin, and then I would come to the Hon Majority Leader.
Very well. Your point is well made.
Mr Speaker, we have dealt with the first one related to the number of days, and we were about to agree on 30 days. However, I believe the second one does not even belong to clause 39. This is because there is clause 40 which provides for a freezing order that may be made without notice. It is not said in clause 40 that it shall be made without notice. It says it might be made without notice. So, I am not too sure that what we are talking about is even necessary in clause 39. It does not even belong to clause 39, but belongs to clause 40. The construction of clause 40 does not mix the imperative and, indeed, obligatory. So, we could live with clause 40, and I believe the Hon Chairman may be persuaded to change his mind. As it is said, it is only a mad man who cannot change his mind. I know the Hon Chairman is not mad and has never been mad. The Hon Chairman would change his mind.
Hon Members, let us consider them. We have 30 days, 14 days and 60 days. [Interruption.] I did not hear 7 days. He only quoted the Anti-Money Laundering Act.
Mr Speaker, I am in support of the amendment proposed in respect of 14 days. This is because we said that this institution should depart from the status quo, so that things must be done rapidly. Why do we say that to bring an application for confirmation of the freezing order, it should be within 30 days? It should be 14 days, so that it would be brought in dispatch. It is in tandem with --
Your point is well made.
Mr Speaker, we agree to the 14-day period.
Very well. Question put and amendment agreed to. Clause 39 as amended ordered to stand part of the Bill. Clause 40 -- Application for freezing order.
Hon Chairman, clause 40 is in your name.
Mr Speaker, we have proposed an amendment to clause 40 for the application to be sent to court on notice to the affected party. However, I have been advised that because we already have legislative precedence in the EOCO Act, such an application ought to be made to the court ex parte. In view of this, I would respectfully withdraw the proposed amendment, so that the original rendition stays; the application shall be without notice.
Hon Chairman, on this application before us - - I am not to participate -- I cannot see, for the world of me, why it should not be made mandatorily on notice. On that point, the person has not confirmed to have committed any offence, but you suspect that the property might be tainted. You would go to court for a confirmation and would not give notice to him. It says it may apply ex parte. It means that the person has the discretion. However, the EOCO Act, from my experience, is very badly abused, and all the practitioners would tell you. I have had experience with that, and the abuse is to the benefit of the people who have the power to apply.
Mr Speaker, I would want to support the Hon Chairman. The reason why discretion is granted under the EOCO Act is because the circumstances may vary. So, for instance, if one deals with landed property or a situation in which there could be no risk of dissipation of the property, one may do so on notice. However, if there was a risk that the property would be shipped out of the jurisdiction, transferred or concealed in a way that would make it impossible for it to be frozen, then one could do it ex parte. So, the discretion is still necessary, and depends on the context. So, I would want to support the Hon Chairman that we maintain the non-mandatory character of the provision.
Hon Member, in this case, the property has been seized. It is already in your possession.
“Application for freezing order 40. An application for confirmation of a freezing order may be made without notice to the respondent and shall be accompanied with an affidavit.” So, after clause 39, the property has come to the Special Prosecutor's office, and then he would want a court order to confirm. I think it is fair that it should come with it. Let me listen to the Hon Member for Effutu.
Mr Speaker, I am in full support of the proposition on the Floor of the House submitted by Hon Afenyo- Markin, that once one moves ex facto and upon suspicion and freeze a party's property, and one seeks within 14 days to confirm that freezing process, that person should be put on notice. It is only fair and just that one must come and defend whether or not the freezing should be confirmed on stated grounds. So, the party so affected should be put on notice and I am in full support of that proposition.
Mr Speaker, we have to be guided by the category of crimes the Special Prosecutor would deal with and also the kind of persons and cases that he or she would deal with. Mr Speaker, requiring him or her by law to put these persons on notice, most of whom can easily make themselves unavailable to be put on notice would easily imperil the work of the Special Prosecutor. Mr Speaker, there could even be a case that the items in question could be even perishable and that is why it is important to give him or her discretion. Mr Speaker, it is true that discretion could be abused, but it is not the reason we should deny discretionary powers to persons when it is required for the proper execution of their functions. Mr Speaker, I would want to support the Hon Chairman of the Committee's new positon to withdraw his amendment.
Hon Members, what is happening is that, as of now, there is no amendment on the table. The Hon Chairman of the Committee wants to withdraw his amendment which has been debated. So if we would want to take a decision, we would have to put an amendment on the table before we can take a decision.
Mr Speaker, I support the Hon Chairman of the Committee in his attempt to withdraw his amendment so that we could --
Hon Member, kindly resume your seat. I need somebody to propose an amendment.
Yes, Hon Ayariga? [Interruption.] In this case, I am exceedingly biased.
Mr Speaker, indeed, the matters that are the subject of amendment made by the Hon Chairman of the Committee which he is now dropping, are matters that I was personally very concerned with and intended to file an amendment, but having seen that the Hon Chairman of the Committee filed one I did not bother to file an amendment. Mr Speaker, if the Hon Chairman of the Committee is allowed to withdraw his amendment and you do not grant leave for those of us who originally intended to file amendments to now file amendments, we would be --
Hon Member, just read the proposed amendment and make it yours and we would take a decision on it.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 40, line 1, delete “may” and insert “shall” and in line 2, delete “without” and insert “on”. Mr Speaker, I would want us to be mindful of two things. First, we are dealing with a matter that is highly protected by our Constitution. Article 18 of the Constitution places property rights on a very high pedestal and makes it invaluable except under exceptional circumstances. It is in article 18 of the Constitution -- property rights, invaluable, non- interference except under exceptional circumstances. Mr Speaker, we do agree that fighting corruption --
Mr Speaker, I would want to seek clarification from the Hon Member for Bawku Central. He has talked and indeed embellished the concept of property ownership.
Hon Member, continue.
Mr Speaker, the political tradition that I belong to, is the one that drafted this Constitution and if I recall, the process was boycotted by some other groups. Mr Speaker, because we are dealing with Property Rights, we must be careful how we legislate.
Mr Speaker, I rise to remind my Hon Colleague who is misleading this House that, at the time the 1992 Constitution was drafted and the country went for Referendum, there were no political parties. And so, he could not have belonged to a political party which drafted the Constitution of Ghana.
Hon Member, can you go straight so that we can do this quickly?
Mr Speaker, that is so, except to say that I did not say political party. I said, political tradition. And so the tradition existed before the party.
People may forget what we are doing. Do it quickly.
That is true. Mr Speaker, the argument is that we should be mindful of the fact that we are dealing with article 18 of the Constitution which protects property rights. And so anything that we need to derogate, we have to show very good course why we must do so. We have already given the Special Prosecutor the authority to freeze the assets even without notice. But then we are asking that within a certain period of time, he should go to court for a confirmation of that decision. And it is in those circumstances that we are saying that notice should be given to the owner so he or she would know. It is possible to seize the assets of a person without he or she knowing that it has been seized. If the person is not within the jurisdiction and his asset is somewhere and we decide to freeze it and he or she does not even have notice that his or her asset has been frozen — It is perfectly possible that whiles we are pretending to have frozen the asset, he is still somewhere engaged in a transaction to dispose of the asset. And so giving him notice that you are freezing the asset is important. And so I believe that just out of natural justice considerations, let us insist that when he goes to court for a confirmation, he should go ahead and give notice to the property owner. Mr Speaker, the Hon Member raised issues about the difficulty of serving notice. Those of us who are law practitioners know that if the person has an asset that you would want to freeze, that makes it easy for you to serve notice. This is because one can just serve the notice on the assets and that constitutes notice. And so we do not have a difficulty with serving notice on the person whose asset you are seizing, and especially when it is the State, we assume that the State has the apparatus and the infrastructure to be able to reach anybody, anywhere and at any time in order just to serve notice on that person. Mr Speaker, and so I plead that we insist on notice. When it comes to some other legislation, the peculiar circumstances of the matters that those legislations deal with may warrant a situation where it should be ex parte. But in this instance, we appeal that let us insist on notice, especially giving the experience that others have abused the ex parte application opportunities that have been created in those legislations. And so I urge Hon Colleagues that we accept the simple provision of notice — Just notice. What is wrong with giving notice? Why do we want to go to court without notice to the other party? What are we afraid of?
Mr Speaker, we are dealing with the freezing of property. Mr Speaker, when a property is to be seized, we agree that, depending on the circumstances, the seizure could be done in an emergency situation where notice would not be given. That is the first consideration. It is not every freezing that would be predicated on seizure — [Interruption] — that it would be seized. First, even if it is an emergency situation to warrant freezing. Freezing could be done at the very outset in an emergency situation. And just as seizure could be done in an emergency, we allow room for that, which is why clause 40 provides that an application for a confirmation of freezing order may be made without notice. In emergency situation, one may come without notice. If it is predicated on an earlier seizure, then necessarily one must come on notice. Mr Speaker that is the distinction. And so let us strand them out for people to understand and appreciate the situation we are in. Nobody is saying that it must or shall be done always without notice. That is the distinction, and indeed, it is a distinction with difference. And people should appreciate the point. Mr Speaker, I do not want to remind the Chair that he should listen to us in silence —
You said you do not want to remind the Chair that?
That the Chair should listen to us in silence, but the Chair should guide us.
I did not say I cannot make gestures — [Laughter] — I have not spoken but I can make gestures — [Laughter.]
Mr Speaker, I know your guidance — [Interruption.] Mr Speaker, but I think that is the distinction that we are making, and having listened sufficiently to the arguments, may I plead with you that you now put the Question so that we can make progress.
Hon Members, I believe that long arguments have been made for and against this matter. Even the Hon Chairman was in support of this, and his amendment was actually as a result of winnowing, which means that it is the amendment of the committee. I do not know what changed that the Hon Chairman is withdrawing from the agreement of the Committee. But as the Hon Majority Leader said, I am only to guide the House, and one thing I would want to say is that, we must never forget that as soon as the application is put before the court, the property remains frozen until the court determines. And so whether you are on notice or not, the property is frozen. You take the decision and within fourteen days, you bring the application. Until the matter is determined, the property is still in the hands of the Special Prosecutor. And so that should guide us in deciding whether we want it on notice or without notice. Hon Members, the application is that, when the Special Prosecutor has frozen a property, he/she should apply to the court within fourteen days on notice to the owner of the property. Question put and amendment agreed to.
Hon Members, I will put the Question on clause 40 as a whole —
Mr Speaker, I have a proposed an amendment which has been advertised on clause 40.
I was made to understand that where there is an asterisk, it means it would be withdrawn. Anyway, I would listen to you.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 40, line 3, at end, add “sworn to by the Special Prosecutor or an officer authorised in writing by the Special Prosecutor to swear to the said affidavit detailing the grounds for the confirmation”. Mr Speaker, I would want to make it abundantly clear, who is entitled to swear to the affidavit for the confirmation. And so a person swearing that affidavit must be authorised in writing by the Special Prosecutor. That is the basis of the amendment proposed.
Mr Speaker, I vehemently oppose this proposed amendment in the sense that we do not need to legislate averments to be deposed to in an affidavit. A freezing application is more or less like an application for interim preservation of the subject matter. We know it is predicated upon certain principles and the averment to be deposed to in the affidavit must demonstrate certain grounds to which, for instance, if the order is not granted the subject matter stands the risk of being dissipated or spirited away out of the jurisdiction. Otherwise, if the order is not granted --
Hon Chairman of the Committee, let us reach a compromise. I do not know what the Hon Member who proposed the amendment is seeking to avoid. But as we know, even a lawyer or a clerk in the lawyer's chambers may depose to an affidavit to a matter which is within his personal knowledge or for which he can advise. But we can probably rely on the provision we have been using all this while -- “authorised officer”. So, if we just say ‘an affidavit deposed to by an authorised officer', it encompasses everybody who has something to do with the Special Prosecutor. What do you think?
Mr Speaker, I think it would be to the same effect.
Hon Chairman of the Committee, what do you also think?
Mr Speaker, that we should add “sworn to by an authorised officer”
Very well. The new rendition would be: “an application for confirmation with a freezing order shall be made without noticed to the respondent and shall be accompanied with an affidavit sworn to by an authorised officer”. Question put and amendment agreed to. Clause 40 as variously amended ordered to stand part of the Bill. Clause 41 -- Issue of freezing order.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 41, subclause (2), delete. Question put and amendment agreed to.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 41, Add the following new subclause: “(2) The Special Prosecutor shall make a full and frank disclosure of the nature of the property subject to the freezing order and the likely risk of dissipation of such property by the person suspected of corruption or corruption-related offence.” Mr Speaker, in modern white-collar crime enforcement, the requirement to make a full and frank disclosure of the property subject to a freezing order is usually placed upon the prosecutor. That is the reason I am making this proposal for us to add it to the legislation. Thank you.
Let me first find out what the proposer of the Bill thinks.
Mr Speaker, I believe that for the Special Prosecutor to succeed in his or her application for the confirmation, this is one of the grounds that the Special Prosecutor must canvass. So I believe that to that extent, if we have to legislate what the Special Prosecutor must say, I do not think that is the right thing to do. Mr Speaker, this is because the Special Prosecutor must justify why the confirmation order must be granted failing which his application would be refused. So we do not have to circumscribe in an affidavit as to what the Special Prosecutor or his or her authorised officer should swear to an affidavit. That comes as a matter of course, because we all know that if we apply to the court for an order for the interim preservation of a subject matter, we have
to justify it through an affidavit or averment sworn to in an affidavit failing which we know that our application would be refused. But to say that we should legislate the positions or averments to be deposed to in an affidavit, I do not think that is right.
Mr Speaker, thank you for giving me the opportunity. Mr Speaker, I would want to support the position of Hon Dominic Ayine. We all know that if you go to court with a motion, the motion is supposed to be supported by an affidavit but we legislate that the application should be supported by an affidavit. The Hon Ayine's proposed amendment is going further to indicate what must be taken into account in confirming the freezing order. So, I believe strongly that this amendment is in good faith and we must all support it.
Mr Speaker, I believe that this amendment is otiose and I would entreat my Friend, Hon Dr Ayine to withdraw the amendment. Everything that is being proposed here makes a full and frank disclosure of the nature of the property, subject to the freezing order and a likely risk of dissipation of such property -- all these things would be part of the affidavit that the Special Prosecutor would give to the court before the court would grant the application. Mr Speaker, we have already said that the application must be on notice. On notice here would mean that the applicant apart from satisfying the court would have to inform the other Side. But in doing so, the person would have to give reasons to convince the court that this is the reason he/she is am coming for this freezing order. We cannot legislate on this nitty gritty or everything. I would entreat my Friend to consider withdrawing his amendment.
Mr Speaker, I would also entreat Hon Dr Ayine to withdraw this amendment because his concern would be clearly addressed under clause 41.
“Where an application is made for a freezing order, the Court shall issue the order if it is satisfied that: a) the respondent is being investigated for corruption or a corruption related offence; b) the respondent is charged with corruption or corruption related offence; c) there are reasonable grounds to believe that the property is tainted property; d) the respondent derives benefit directly or indirectly from corruption or corruption related offences;” et cetera. So, all the issues that the Hon Member is concerned about which would require disclosure, in order to satisfy the Court for the Court to issue the order, the individual would have made known to the Court. The person can only do so in an affidavit or in oral argument in court to satisfy the court. Mr Speaker, so I believe that the issues they are concerned about would be adequately taken care of under clause 41 for which reason I urge that he drops the amendment that he has proposed.
Hon Members, I would put the Question now; the lines are draw.
Dr Ayine, are you going to withdraw? If not, let me put the Question.
Mr Speaker, I believe that maybe, Hon Members have not understood the reason --
Hon Ayine, please. We have heard you and we have heard those who supported you. Hon Members, I would put the Question on the entire clause 41. Question put and amendment agreed to. Clause 41 as variously amended ordered to stand part of the Bill. Clauses 42 and 43 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Hon Majority Leader, we said that we would work up to 5 o'clock but it is 6 o'clock.
Mr Speaker, of course, we did not Sit at the time we had wanted to; but I would want to plead with Hon Colleagues that we curtail further considerations of this, and then do some 10 minutes for the Hon Minister for Finance in respect of a Second Reading of the African Union Import Levy Bill. Just that one, and we would bring Business to a halt today. That is for Motion listed as item numbered 9.
Mr Speaker, item numbered 9. Mr Speaker, but before then, if we agree to bring considerations to --
Very well. Hon Members, item numbered 9 -- Hon Minister for Finance?
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister for Finance is in a very crucial meeting, and has asked one of his Hon Deputies to stand in for him for this purpose.
Leave granted for the Hon Deputy Minister to move the motion. Hon Deputy Minister, Motion numbered 9.
BILLS-- SECOND READING
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, the African Union Import Levy Bill, 2017, be now read a Second time. Mr Speaker, the object of the Bill is to impose an African Union Import Levy of 0.2 per cent on imports to finance the activities of the African Union (AU). Mr Speaker, currently, African countries pay their assessed contributions through the national budgets. The AU takes the view that such an arrangement makes the payment of subscriptions unreliable.
Mr Speaker, I beg to associate myself with the Motion and in so doing, I would present the Committee's Report. Introduction The African Union Import Levy Bill, 2017 was presented to Parliament and read the first time on 12th October, 2017. The Bill was subsequently referred to the Finance Committee for consideration and report in accordance with the 1992 Constitution and Order 169 of the Standing Orders of the House. The Deputy Minister for Finance, Hon Kwaku Kwarteng, and officials from the Ministry of Finance, the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) and the Attorney General's Department attended upon and assisted the Committee in its deliberations on the Bill. The Committee is grateful to the Hon Deputy Minister and officials from the Ministry of Finance, the GRA and the Attorney-General's Department for attending upon the Committee. References The Committee referred to the following documents inter alia during its deliberations on the Bill: a. The Constitution of the Republic of Ghana, 1992; b. The Standing Orders of the Parliament of Ghana; c. Interpretation Act, 2009 (Act 792); d. Ghana Revenue Authority Act, 2009 (Act 791); e. The Constitutive Act of the African Union. Background Currently, Member States of the African Union (AU) pay their assessed contributions through the national budgets. The African Union (AU) takes the view that such an arrangement makes the payment of subscriptions unreliable. Heads of Government of the African Union have, therefore, passed a resolution to require Member- States to impose a levy on imports to finance the activities of the African Union. This Bill is presented to this Honourable House in response to that resolution. Purpose of the Bill The object of the Bill is to impose an African Union Levy of zero point two per cent (0.2%) on eligible imports to finance the activities of the African Union. Content of the Bill The African Union Import Levy Bill, 2017 is divided into eight (8) clauses. Clause 1 stipulates the object of the Bill, which is to impose an African Union Import Levy of 0.2 per cent of the value of eligible goods imported into the country, where the goods originated from a country other than a Member-State of the African Union. The section also provides for how the proceeds of the levy would be used. Clause 2 specifies the eligible goods on which the levy is to be imposed. These are goods imported into Ghana from a country that is not a Member-State of the African Union. For the avoidance of doubt, the section specifies that the Levy does not apply to goods originating from AU Member States, goods received as an aid, gift or grant, goods imported by enterprises before the commencement of the Act, and also goods for which the Levy has already been paid in a Member-State of the AU prior to their import into Ghana. Clause 3 mandates the Ghana Revenue Authority to collect the Levy. Clause 4 requires the Ghana Revenue Authority to ensure that moneys collected as Levy are paid into an account opened for that purpose by the Controller and Accountant-General. Clause 5 provides that the proceeds of the levy shall be applied solely for the settlement of the assessed contribution of Ghana to the African Union for the relevant financial year. The Minister responsible for Finance is mandated to authorise the transfer of moneys from the account opened for that purpose to an account prescribed by the African Union Secretariat. Clause 6 deals with the utilisation of the surplus of the proceeds of the Levy after a full settlement of the assessed contribution. Clause7 mandates the Minister responsible for Finance, as part of the annual budget, to submit an annual report to Parliament on the account opened for the purposes of the Levy. Clause 8 provides for the interpretation of the key words used in the Bill. Observations Expected revenue The Committee was informed that the expected revenue from the Levy is estimated at ninety million Ghana cedis (GH¢ 90.0 million) for the 2018 financial year. The revenue accrued would be used to finance Ghana's subscription obligations and other expenditure related to Ghana's membership of the African Union. The Committee found out that Ghana's annual financial obligation to the AU has been growing in recent years. For the year 2014, the obligation stood at ¢10.2 million, then it grew to ¢10.7 million, ¢15.0 million and ¢28.2 million for 2015, 2016 and 2017 respectively. There is the need to comply with the African Union Resolution to impose the Levy to meet the ever growing obligation to the Union. Eligible goods The Committee observed that the Levy would be imposed on the value of eligible goods imported into the country from a country that is not a member of the African Union.
The Levy, however, does not apply to goods originating from AU Member States, goods received as aids, gifts or grants, goods imported by enterprises before the commencement of the Act, and also goods for which the Levy has already been paid in a Member State of the AU prior to their import into Ghana. Relief to National Treasuries The Committee was informed that the Levy would provide a reliable and predictable funding for the Continental Peace and Security Fund of the African Union, provide an equitable and predictable source of financing for the African Union, reduce dependency on partner funds for the implementation of the Continental Development and Integration Programmes and relieve national treasuries of pressure with respect to meeting national obligations for payment of assessed contributions to funding the African Union. Basis for calculation The Levy is stipulated as zero point two per cent (0.2%) of the value of eligible imports. For purposes of the Bill, “value” is defined as the cost, insurance and freight (c.i.f.) value at the port of loading or unloading for an import arriving by sea, air, post, road or inland waterways. Excess revenue The Committee noted that in any financial year where the revenue from the Levy exceeds Ghana's assessed obligation to the AU, 50 per cent of the excess would be transferred to the Consolidated Fund whilst the remaining 50 per cent would be retained in the relevant account to meet future deficits, if any, as well as other expenditure related to Ghana's membership of the African Union. Amendments proposed The Committee respectfully recommends the following amendments to the Bill: i. Clause 1-- amendment proposed -- subclause (2), paragraph (c), line 1, after “dependency” insert “of the African Union”. For clarification. That it refers to the dependency of the AU on partner funds. ii. Clause 1 -- amendment proposed -- subclause (2), paragraph (d), line 1, delete “national treasuries” and insert “the government”. The Act would relieve the Bank of Ghana of pressure not all national treasuries. iii. Clause 2 -- amendmentproposed-- subclause (2), paragraph (b), line 1, delete “any” and delete “non payable” over-supplied words deleted. iv. Clause 2 -- amendment proposed -- subclause (3), line 2, delete “disembarkation” and insert “loading or unloading” “Disembarkation” refers to passengers but the Act deals with goods or imported products. v. Clause 3 -- amendment proposed -- headnote, delete “Authority” and insert “Agency” for clarification. vi. Clause 4 -- amendmentproposed-- line 1, delete “ensure that moneys collected as Levy are paid” and insert “pay moneys collected as Levy”. This is clearer. The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) does the collection and should be directly charged with paying same into accounts created for that purpose. vii. Clause 7-- amendmentproposed -- delete and insert “The Minister shall submit an annual report on the collection and use of the Levy to Parliament as part of the annual budget”. This makes the statement clearer. The report should detail the collection and use of the levy and present the annual report as part of the Annual Budget. viii. Clause 8 -- amendmentproposed-- After the definition of “deficit”, insert a new definition as follows: “ ‘Home Consumption' means consumption in the country”. This is to explain what “Home Consumption” is. This term has been in clause 2 to explain eligible imports. There is, therefore, the need to provide a definition for it to avoid any ambiguity. Conclusion The Committee has thoroughly examined the Bill, and finds that its passage would help provide a reliable and sustainable funding for Ghana's financial commitments towards the African Union. The Committee, therefore, recommends the House to adopt this Report and pass the African Union Import Levy Bill, 2017 into law, subject to the amendments proposed in accordance with article 106 of the 1992 Constitution and the Standing Orders of the House. Respectfully submitted.
Hon Members, pursuant to Standing Order 127: “a full debate shall arise on the principle of the Bill on the basis of the explanatory memorandum and the report from the Committee”. Hon Majority Leader, do you want us to do it now?
Mr Speaker, I would plead with you that given where we have travelled to, you allow just two contributions from either side of the House and then we would bring the matter to a closure.
Very well. Hon Members, we should try to be short.
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to comment on this Bill. As the Report has indicated, this is a new levy but in its proper place it is a tax. An additional tax being imposed on Ghanaian importers which would result in higher prices of imported commodities into Ghana. Mr Speaker, the Bill provides that goods imported from African countries would not be subjected to the levy. That is true. Mr Speaker, but the question is, how much goods do we import from other African countries? So, more or less, it is just the equivalent of all the goods that we are importing into this country. Ghana has not had a problem in paying its assessed contribution to AU and so all the other rated expenses are also paid for either from the Flagstaff House or from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. So, why do we have to impose additional tax on Ghanaians in order to meet AU expenses?
When the Bill was brought, some of us suggested that we should look at the existing import duty rates and assign 0.2 per cent of it for the purpose of meeting the AU requirement, so that there would not be any change in the rate of duty imposed on imports from other countries, especially from the developed world. Mr Speaker, in the course of this year, this Government has come to this House to either cut down on tax rates or remove taxes which they described as nuisance taxes. Import duties on certain spare parts have been brought down, some rates which were 17.5 per cent were brought down to 15 per cent, special import duty of 1 per cent has been removed -- [Hear! Hear!] -- and the VAT on financial services has also been removed. [Hear! Hear!] Mr Speaker, what we are going to experience in this country is that, there would be higher prices for the imports that are going to come from outside. I think that this is a back door operation to raise revenues to replace the dwindling ones and I do not think that it is right. Mr Speaker, I want to state clearly that, we are not in favour of this levy because of the increasing effect that it would have on prices. Mr Speaker, it would interest you to note that we are in an unnecessary hurry to implement this AU Levy. We are just coming from Tanzania with the Hon Chairman of the Committee on Finance and we asked the Treasury Officer over there whether they have responded to this particular AU directive and their response was in the negative, that they had not done it. Why are we in a hurry when our country is noted not to be in difficulty in meeting AU obligations? Why are we in a hurry?
Mr Speaker, he is telling me to sit down and that is unparliamentary. When I am saying something which is very good for the people of Ghana, he is telling me to sit down. [Laughter.] This is because he is interested in imposing difficulties on Ghanaians. Please allow me to fight for Ghanaians. Mr Speaker, I want to state that those of us on this Side of the House do not approve of this import levy. Mr Speaker, thank you.
I was looking through the Report to see whether there was a Minority report but you appear to be fully in support of the Report that is before the House.
Mr Speaker, I rise to support the Motion ably moved by the Hon Deputy Minister for Finance and to also support the Report of the Committee. Mr Speaker, my Hon Friend on the Minority side, Hon Kpodo, is a member of the Finance Committee. At the Committee level, we unanimously agreed to the Report and submitted same. Mr Speaker, let me remind the House that the background of the Bill is quoted at paragraph 3 of the report. Mr Speaker, with your permission, I beg to read: “Currently, Member States of the African Union (AU) pay their assessed contributions through the national budgets. The African Union (AU) takes the view that such an arrangement makes the payment of subscriptions unreliable. Heads of Government of the African Union have therefore passed a resolution to require Member States to impose a levy on imports to finance the activities of the African Union. This Bill is presented to this honourable House in response to that resolution.” Mr Speaker, the background of this is a resolution that had been made by the AU. The Heads of Governments had done that. It is very embarrassing if you attend an international meeting and your country is reminded to pay dues or something that the country is due to settle but has not done so. Mr Speaker, levies have come to this House and they have been approved from time to time. This is not the first time that a levy is being imposed. However, if this House or the Government decides that some levies are not necessary so they should be scrapped, it is not to add any of such to a levy that is being imposed because Governments or Heads of Governments of the AU have passed a resolution. This is pursuant to that, and as a member of the Committee when we have unanimously agreed to this, I entreat Hon Members to support this Motion and the Report of the Committee. Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity.
I would come to the Leaders.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to contribute to the debate. Mr Speaker, I agree largely with the position which has been taken, that this is in compliance with an international obligation and that the AU has passed a resolution and issued a directive to the effect that member countries must take steps to fulfil their obligations in terms of their contributions towards the activities of the Union. So, we are basically complying with an international treaty obligation by taking this step. Mr Speaker, however, I do not think the Union's directive is to the effect that we must necessarily impose new taxes on our citizens. The Union's directive is geared towards ensuring that, member countries contribute towards the activities of the Union and not necessarily that, we must pass laws and impose new taxes and new burdens on the citizens of our various countries. Mr Speaker, I am sure if the Hon Minister for Finance wrote a cheque to the AU without this Bill being passed by Parliament, the Union would not reject the cheque by reason of the fact that there has been no Act of Parliament backing the cheque that is coming to it. So, Mr Speaker, I do not think that justification in and of itself is a sufficient basis for the enactment of a whole Act of Parliament to deal with this matter.
However, Mr Speaker, there is one other aspect of this Bill that I would want to point out, and that is; this is a levy that has international trade implications. Basically, what we are doing is that, we are discriminating between goods that come from AU member countries and goods that come into Ghana from Non- AU member countries. Mr Speaker, in January, 1995, this Parliament ratified the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Marrakesh Agreement, and under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), 1994, particularly article 1, which deals with the general Most-Favoured Nation (MFN) principle, it is provided therein that we should not discriminate among WTO member countries. Mr Speaker, the effect of this Bill is to violate the MFN principle of the GATT. Mr Speaker, with your permission, may I read the MFN principle so that Hon Members would get the import of what it says: “1. With respect to customs duties and charges of any kind imposed on or in connection with importation or exportation or imposed on the international transfer of payments for imports or exports, and with respect to the method of levying such duties and charges, and with respect to all rules and formalities in connection with importation and exportation, and with respect to all matters referred to in paragraphs 2 and 4 of Article III, any advantage, favour, privilege or immunity granted by any contracting party to any product originating in or destined for any other country shall be accorded immediately and unconditionally to the like product originating in or destined for the territories of all other contracting parties.” So, unless we are here dealing with a free trade area or a customs union, there could be no basis for domestic legislation that treats goods differently that emanates from other WTO member countries. In other words, Ghana is a member of the WTO, Kenya is a member of the WTO and Germany is a member of the WTO. If like goods emanates from the two other countries I have mentioned, there would be no basis for imposing a levy on goods coming from Germany and exempting goods that come from Kenya. That would be a violation of the Most Favoured Nation obligation of GATT 1994. So, Mr Speaker, I would want to urge this House that in designing this legislation, we should be careful that other GATT contracting parties or WTO members would not take Ghana on before the WTO dispute settlement body for a violation of that obligation. Mr Speaker, I beg to say that although this is designed to meet an international treaty obligation, we, on this Side of the aisle, know that it is also because of the fiscal deficit that this Government is burdened with that it is bringing in this Bill as an indirect way of filling the fiscal gap. Mr Speaker, I thank you.
Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, thank you very much for the opportunity granted. Mr Speaker, it is important, first of all, to respond to the issue raised by my Hon Colleague, the Hon (Dr) Dominic Ayine. He alluded to the WTO Agreement and MFN Principle. The Hon Member is aware that in all these Protocols, there are footnotes. And the footnotes provide for preferential treatments. It is the reason even though the European Union (EU) nations subscribe to the WTO Principles, within the EU, they have their own preferential treatments. Mr Speaker, every one of them has it. [Interruption.] That is so, and a member might apply himself to it. So, it is ridiculous the Hon Member said that. He is was totally out of step. Mr Speaker, let me tell him that he knows what he said to us is incorrect. Mr Speaker, the reason African countries subscribed to this was the recognition of the fact that some of the economies on the continent could not afford the subscriptions and therefore many of them were in default. The AU member countries, the Authority of the Heads of States, met and agreed that, from that time, the subscriptions would be based on the strength of the economies. This explains why they decided that, from that period, payment should be based on imports. Mr Speaker, I get worried when people who should know this turn round and afflict this House with half truths. That is certainly most unfortunate. Mr Speaker, Hon Kpodo said that, we would impose hardships on the people of this country if the Authority of Heads of States agree on that. He may also want to remind himself that, much as he says that this may represent an imposition of hardships, if we fail to sign up and indeed, respond to the imperatives contained in the Protocol, we shall also be trailing the course of Africa. Mr Speaker, I thought that the people from his political side of the divide said that, they believe in the course of Nkrumahism. Now, he wants to step out of the course of Africa. [Interruption] -- Please. Mr Speaker, listening to the arguments from the other Side of the House clearly, the arguments do not wash and he does not -- [Interruption] -- There are exceptions. Mr Speaker, when it was realised in the ECOWAS Region that, many of the countries were not able to leave up to their expectations in respect of the subscriptions, the Authority of Heads of States in the ECOWAS Region decided on this course. In fact, the AU is taking a leave from what ECOWAS has done; by this Protocol that they have imposed, which Ghana has signed to and entered into. So, if today we have people in this House who were in Government and entered into the Treaty only yesterday, now come to us to say that we should not respond to that, it is indeed a betrayal of the Africa course. [Mr Opare-Ansah: Repeat it!] -- It is a betrayal of the course of Africa. [Hear! Hear!] Mr Speaker, I could hear Hon Kpodo say that he could change his mind at any time. Could he speak into the microphone
Mr Speaker, may I ask Hon Colleagues not to let us split ranks on this. Yes, thinking of it, it would certainly add to some hardships on individuals. That is the reality, but it is for the greater good of Africa. I would invite all Hon Members in the House to applaud what we are doing and vote en masse, especially given the fact that the Report from the Committee is not coming by way of consensus, but by unanimity. Hon Members who were there but did not raise any issue only after 24 hours, have made a u-turn. Mr Speaker, I would plead with you, let us be ad idem on this to hold goods for the course of Mother Africa. Mr Speaker, I thank you very much.
Hon Chairman of the Committee, you would wind up.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. The Hon Member for Bolgatanga East rightly stated that, the most favoured nation clause required members not to discriminate. However, intentionally, the law did not add that, in certain circumstances, WTO members may derogate from these obligations provided that they comply with certain conditions. Mr Speaker, these exceptions include security and Regional Trade Agreements. This is a resolution by the AU, so, what we are doing sits with exceptions granted by the AU. Mr Speaker, to answer the Hon Benjamin K. Kpodo, this is no new tax. [Interruption.] As a matter of fact, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) is on record to have not introduced any new tax in its first year in office. All we seek to do is to comply with the directive from the AU. [Hear! Hear!] Mr Speaker, I support the Hon Majority Leader when he says that we should not betray the course of the AU. In fact, the apostles of Pan Africanism should rather be seen to support this Bill. [Hear! Hear!] Those who have championed the cause of Dr Kwame Nkrumah and they have become bedfellows with the name Dr Kwame Nkrumah are the ones who should support this Bill. [Interruption.] Mr Speaker, having reached unanimity at Committee, I would urge all Hon Members to support this Bill. Question put and Motion agreed to. The African Import Levy Bill, 2017, was accordingly read a Second time.
It is 20 minutes to 7.00 p.m., we are two hours beyond --
Yes, Hon Majority Leader, do you want to say something?
Mr Speaker, once again, let me thank my Hon Colleagues for their “staying power”. Over the past three days, we have done tremendous work. I know the Hon Member for South Dayi, Rockson-Nelson Dafeamekpor is asking for other considerations, but let him have patience. At the opportune time, we shall deal with that. Speaker, I would want to thank every one of us once again, for the hard work that we have put in this week. It would help to facilitate the transaction of business in the House on Monday and Tuesday, so that we could do business on the Office of the Special Prosecutor Bill, 2017 before the Budget is read on Wednesday. Mr Speaker, I would like to mention the names of particular Hon Members of Parliament: Hon Joseph Yieleh Chireh, Hon Alhaji Inusah Fuseini, Hon Rockson- Nelson Dafeamekpor, Hon Bernard Ahiafor and of course the Hon Chairman and other Hon Members of the Committee -- [Interruption] -- Hon Opare Ansah has never been there. [Laughter.] Mr Speaker, they have done very well and I must commend them for purposes of the records. I thank them once again and I hope that -- [Interruption] -- Hon Dominic Ayine? I thought I mentioned his name. I would want to encourage them that on Monday at 8.00 a.m., we shall meet before the House Sits. Thank you very much, Mr Speaker.