VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS AND THE OFFICIAL REPORT
Hon Members, item numbered 2 on the Order Paper -- Correction of Votes and Proceedings and the Official Report. The Votes and Proceedings of Thursday, 13th July, 2017. Page 1 … 14 --
Mr Speaker, I would want to draw your attention to the fact that the Committee on Foreign Affairs met yesterday. We met with the Palestinian Ambassador, but it has not been captured here for the records.
Thank you. Page 15?
Mr Speaker, if I may draw your attention to item numbered 10 on page 10 of the Votes and Proceedings. The relevant Standing Order is 31, but Standing Order 30 has been indicated. It should read as Standing Order 31. Thank you.
Page 16 … 18? Hon Members, the Votes and Proceedings of 13th July, 2017 as corrected are hereby adopted as the true record of proceedings. Hon Members, we have the Official Report dated Tuesday, 11th July, 2017.
Mr Speaker, the last two paragraphs of column 1866 of the Official Report of Tuesday, 11th July, 2017 -- I am glad that the Hon Majority Leader is here. I am not sure that what has been captured here is what he intended to say. With your permssion, it reads: “Mr Speaker, unless the pocketful of Hon Members who shouted “No” have, in their pockets, assorted Committee Business or Plenary Business, they may opt to stay it. It is “say it”, instead of “stay it”. And then the paragraph that follows reads: “Mr Speaker, but as I said, I am very clear in my mind when I heard.” It should be “what I heard”, not “when I heard”. So, it is duly submitted, Mr Speaker.
Thank you very much, Hon Okudzeto Ablakwa. It is a clear indication that you really read the Report. Hon Members, any further correction? In the absence of any further corrections, the Official Report of Tuesday, 11th July, 2017, as corrected is hereby adopted as the true record of proceedings. Hon Members, item numbered 3 -- Business Statement for the eighth week. Hon Chairman of the Business Committee?
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Mr Speaker, the Committee met yesterday, Thursday, 13th July, 2017 and arranged Business of the House for the eighth week ending Friday, 21st July, 2017.
Arrangement of Business F o r m a l c o m m u n i c a t i o n s b y t h e S p e a k e r Mr Speaker, you may read communica- tions 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 Question(s) i. Minister for Transport -- 1 ii. Minister for Finance -- 1 iii. Minister for Works and Housing -- 2 iv. Attorney-General and Minister for Justice -- 1 v. Minister for Trade and Industry -- 1 vi. Minister for Education -- 3 vii. Minister for Communications -- 4 viii. Minister for Roads and Highways -- 5 Total number of Questions -- 18 Mr Speaker, eight (8) Ministers are expected to attend upon the House to respond to eighteen (18) Questions during the week. The Questions are of the following types: i. Urgent -- 3; ii. Oral -- 15. Furthermore, any other Question of urgent nature duly admitted by Mr Speaker may be scheduled for response by Ministers in the course of the week. Statements Mr Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 70 (2), Ministers of State may be permitted to make Statements of Government policy. Statements duly admitted by 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. 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. Mr Speaker, let me also remind the Technical Committee on the review of the Standing Orders that the Committee would be meeting tomorrow, Saturday, 15th July, 2017 and the meeting will last through Sunday, 16th July, 2017 to Monday, 17th July, 2017. Those who are required to be there are: Hon Joseph Osei-Owusu; the First Deputy Speaker, who is the Chairman of the Technical Committee which has been reconstituted, Hon A.S. K. Bagbin, the Vice Chairman. Other Hon Members are the Hon Majority and Hon Minority Leaders, the Hon Deputy Majority Leader and the Hon Majority Chief Whip, the Hon Minority Chief Whip, Hon Joseph Yieleh Chireh, Hon Ben Abdallah Banda, Hon Alexander Afenyo-Markin, Hon Betty Nana Efua Krosbi Mensah. There are eleven (11) Hon Members constituting the Technical Committee of the review of the Standing Orders. Mr Speaker, it is intended for the Committee to begin Sitting tomorrow, Saturday, 15th July, 2017 and as I said, it is intended for the Committee to close their meeting on Monday, 17th July, 2017 in the afternoon. Hopefully, given the tremendous work that the earlier committee had done, it is hoped that the Committee would be able to conclude what is required of them and submit a report to this House to approve of the reviewed Standing Orders. Mr Speaker, when they finish their work, they would have to submit their report to the entire Committee on Standing Orders to deal with it. After they have perused it, they will ferry their own recommendations in the Report to the House for adoption. Mr Speaker, the Business for the eighth week ending Friday, 21st July, 2017 is as set out. Urgent Question --
To ask the Minister for Transport why the implementation of the Road Traffic Regulation 2012 (L. I. 2180) has been put on hold. Mr Speaker, this Urgent Question is supposed to be taken to a later date in the course of the week, possibly Thursday or Friday but certainly, in the course of the week. Questions -- *10. Mr Kwabena Mintah Akandoh (Juaboso): To ask the Minister for Finance how much has the nation spent so far on the 60th Independence celebration. Statements Presentation of Papers -- Presentation and First Reading of Bills -- (a) Office of the Special Prosecutor's Bill, 2017 (b) Zongo and Inner City Develop- ment Fund Bill, 2017. Motions Committee sittings. Urgent Question--
To ask the Minister for Works and Housing what urgent steps are being taken to provide drainage facilities for the people of Busoso whose houses get flooded after each heavy rain. Questions -- *38. Mr Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa (North Tongu): To ask the Minister for Trade and Industry the progress of work on the private participation in the future of Volta Star Textiles Limited at Juapong in the Volta Region. *56. Dr Clement A. Apaak (Builsa South): To ask the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice what steps are being taken to establish a court in Builsa South. *90. Mr Richard Mawuli Kwaku Quashigah (Keta): To ask the Minister for Works and Housing the present stage of the implementation of the US$40m Blekusu/Horvi Sea Defence Project. Statements Presentation of Papers -- Presentation and First Reading of Bills -- (a) Northern Development Authority Bill, 2017 (b) Middle Belt Development Authority Bill, 2017 (c) Coastal Belt Development Authority Bill, 2017 Motions -- (a) Adoption of the Report of the Committee on Defence and Interior on the Fulani herdsmen menace in the country. (b) Adoption of the Report of the Committee on Defence and Interior on the use of live ammunition by the Police in the Dalun Community to control irate youth in 2016 during which Ganiu Abdul Rahman was hit in the leg by a stray bullet. Committee sittings. Urgent Questions --
To ask the Minister for Education what necessitated the closure of the University of Education at Winneba and what steps the Ministry has taken to resolve the challenges for the re- opening of the university. Questions -- *57. Alhaji Mohammed-Mubarak Muntaka (Asawase): To ask the Minister for Education the number of mission schools in the country and their regional composition. *58. Mr Ernest Henry Norgbey (Ashaiman): To ask the Minister for Education when the construction of the Community Day Secondary School sited at Ashaiman Commu- nity 22 will be completed. *59. Dr Clement A. Apaak (Builsa South): To ask the Minister for Communications what steps are being taken to improve mobile telephony in remote parts of Builsa South (that is, Kalsasa, Chanba, Zamsa, and Yepala). *60. Dr Clement A. Apaak (Builsa South): To ask the Minister for Communications what steps are being taken to establish a community Information Technology Centre at Fumbisi in the Builsa South Consti- tuency. *61. Dr Clement A. Apaak (Builsa South): To ask the Minister for Communications what steps are being taken to establish a Post Office at Fumbisi in the Builsa South Constituency. *62. Dr Robert Baba Kuganab-Lem (Binduri): To ask the Minister for Communications what steps the Ministry is taking to address the situation where districts such as Binduri, Bawku East, Bawku West, Garu, and Pusiga are wrongly captured as Burkina Faso and Togo by mobile network operators when communicating via mobile phones from such districts. Statements Presentation of Papers -- Motions Committee sittings. Questions -- *63. Mr Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa (North Tongu): To ask the Minister for Roads and Highways whether the construction of the Eastern Corridor Road Project is still on course. *64.Mr Richard Acheampong (Bia East): To ask the Minister for Roads and Highways when the Akwarbengkrom to Kwadwo Armakrom road will be awarded for construction. *65. Mr John Majisi (Krachi Nchumuru): To ask the Minister for Roads and Highways the Ministry's plans for the immediate construction of the Buafin Lakeside to Nandikrom road which is becoming virtually unmotorable. *66. Mr Kennedy Nyarko Osei (Akim Swedru): To ask the Minister for Roads and Highways when the Ministry will commence works on the Akim Oda to Akim Swedru road. *102. Mr Kwame Govers Agbodza (Adaklu): To ask the Minister for Roads and Highways if there is a Government policy to review or terminate some existing road- related contracts. Statements Presentation of Papers Motions Committee sittings. Mr Speaker, Questions have been slated for the Hon Minister for Education for today. They appeared on the provisional Order Paper for yesterday. The Hon Minister responsible for Education was required to be in the House today to answer those Questions. Unfortunately, the Hon Minister had to travel outside Ghana. He intends to come and respond to those Questions. I thought that we were to situate those Questions on Thursday, but they are not covered by the draft Business Statement before us. So, the Hon Minister responsible for Education would be with us on Thursday to answer those Questions. Mr Speaker, I thank you very much.
Mr Speaker, with respect to the Technical Committee on the Standing Orders, I would like to know from the Hon Majority Leader if there would be an opportunity for Hon Members who
Mr Speaker, I submitted an Urgent Question for the Hon Minister for Fisheries and Aquaculture. Last week, it did not appear, and this week too, I have not seen any sign. So, I would want to know when they would programme it.
Mr Speaker, I am most grateful. Mr Speaker, I rise to ask the Hon Chairman of the Business Committee whether in respect of the Technical Committee going to work on the Standing Orders this weekend, if I heard him right, it is possible to co-opt some expertise from outside this House; some former Hon Members of Parliament who are no longer with the Seventh Parliament. We have quite a rich pool of experienced hands and people who may have some perspective to share. I would want to find out whether that has been considered along the way; whether there would be an opportunity not only for those of us who are current Members of Parliament, but for those who are former Members of Parliament and even staff of the Parliamentary Service to make an input into this all important exercise. Mr Speaker, finally, I would also want to find out from you what your direction is on a matter that keeps recurring, which has to do with the inability of Ministers of State to respond to Questions. As the Hon Majority Leader said, a Question for the Hon Minister for Education was programmed for today, and that is a Question about higher education.
Mr Speaker, I see that a Question has been admitted for the Hon Minister for Finance to answer on how much the nation has spent so far on the 60th Independence celebration. Mr Speaker, I would want your guidance here. I would have thought that this should be directed to a different Minister, specifically to the Presidency. This is because, I know --
Mr Speaker, specifically to the Presidency and not the Hon Minister for Finance.
Mr Speaker, I cannot imagine how the Hon Minister for Finance could answer this one. I seek your guidance on it, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, I rise to draw attention to the misspelling of some of the communities in my constituency in the Business Statement. I make reference to Question *59 on page 2 of the Business Statement. In the parenthesis, it should be: “k-a-l-a-s-a”, then the next community should “c-h-a-s-a.” I thank you, Mr Speaker.
Hon Majority Leader and Minister for Parliamentary Affairs?
Mr Speaker, the Hon Ras Mubarak asked how Hon Members who are not members of the Technical Committee are to channel suggestions and materials to the Committee. Mr Speaker, the Leaders of the two major caucuses are part of the Committee. Equally so are the Chief Whips of the Caucuses. So, if there are any useful ideas that he has, he might channel same through the caucus' leaders, Whips and so on or any other Hon Member who is part of the Technical Committee. Mr Speaker, on the other hand, if the Hon Member feels strongly that his own ideas may not find proper expression if he uses the vehicle of the leadership, so, he would want to be personally present, nothing prevents that person from being there. Mr Speaker, Hon Comfort Doyoe Cudjoe asked of the status of an Urgent Question that she filed for the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture. Unfortunately, I am not in a position to tell and the reason is that -- I keep repeating this every week. If an Hon Member files a Question, it is for the Hon Member to follow through the process to know where the Question is. The Hon Speaker is the person cloaked with the authority to admit Questions. It is only when the Hon Speaker has admitted Questions that they are transmitted to the relevant Ministry thereafter. So, if I come to present the Business Statement and a Member asks me the status of a Question that he or she has filed, I am sorry the Member has asked the wrong person. I am not in the position to determine. Those that are admitted by the Hon Speaker and transmitted appropriately to the various Ministries, within the period of three weeks where they are required to report to Parliament would then be ferried to the Business Committee for us to programme the Ministers. Hon Comfort Doyoe Cudjoe is a member of leadership and I know she knows this. If she knows, I do not understand why she should ask me this question at this material moment. She should know this and rather educate others who do not know. Mr Speaker, Hon Okudzeto Ablakwa asked if we could co-opt other former Hon Members to the meeting. Mr Speaker, if it becomes necessary, why not, except that this is not an exercise that began yesterday. It is an exercise that began 14 years ago under Rt Hon Speaker Peter Ala Adjetey and all those who matter those days have participated all the while from Swedru up till now. We want to bring this matter to a closure and I thought that the last Parliament was about closing in and closing the chapter. Unfortunately, it has lapsed and we want to resurrect it and attend to it. As I said, it has had the contribution of almost everybody who matters in this House, beginning from 14 years ago. There are hold-over Members of Parliament who began the exercise and that endangered number includes the Hon Second Deputy Speaker and Hon Yieleh Chireh who is staring at me voraciously. I do not know what he wants, but it includes him and my humble self. So, we want to bring this matter to a closure and I believe we would do good work on that.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I would want to rely on Order 50 of our Standing Orders to raise a very important issue on the security of Hon Members, including your goodself. Mr Speaker, the way we access the lift and even the tunnel we use to access the lift -- One enters the lift and meets all manner of strangers in the lift. Even the very tunnel that you use, everybody uses it and your security and our security is not secured. We have placed research assistants behind all these three lifts. They are just there allowing everybody to access it. It is written boldly, “MPs only”, but strangers are still using this lift. Mr Speaker, how can we ensure our security when we enter these lifts, if somebody has any ill intention or motive to harm any Member of this House? It is a very serious situation. We have raised it over and over, but nothing has been done to address it. Mr Speaker, we heard what happened at Lapaz yesterday. It could happen to any other person in this House. Entry and exit of this House is very dangerous. Let us take a critical look at it and as a Leader of this House -- Mr Speaker, I thank you for this opportunity. Let us deal with this matter once and for all. Our security is at stake.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Member raises a very important issue which I believe would be discussed at the appropriate time within our ranks. I am not sure that this is the avenue where we have to discuss this, so, I would plead with him, that we take this matter to the appropriate forum and discuss it. Mr Speaker, since he quoted standard Order 50 (1); and with your permission, I quote: “(1) At the time appointed for the purpose under Order 53 (Order of Business) any Member may with the prior approval of Mr Speaker move a motion on a specific matter of urgent public importance”. I do not know whether it was a Motion that he was moving and whether indeed he had the prior approval of the Speaker. Mr Speaker, not to discount the issue that he has raised, I believe it is very germane and we need to discuss it at the appropriate forum.
Thank you very much. Hon Members, the revision of the Standing Orders is a very important exercise and until we have concluded it, the process is open for participation and contribution. Contributions may come by memoranda, letters, or other documented inputs, and definitely, the issue of allowing former Clerks, Members of Parliament and people who have been associated with Parliament unknown to Hon Members are most welcome to bring suggestions. In my last visit to England, I obtained copies of their Standing Orders and I have already discussed aspects with Leader- ship. We all continue to learn and make the best out of the best global practices. So, kindly let us feel that it is an open door process and we are — in fact, not
Hon Member for Chereponi, you may please make your Statement on reading and learning abilities in public schools.
Mr Speaker, thank you for
Thank you very much, Hon Member, for this well-made Statement which is so well researched. It is much appreciated. Yes, Hon Member?
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to comment on the Statement ably made by my Hon Colleague on the other side. In doing so, I would like to commend him for a well-researched document presented to us. Language, they say, is the soul of culture. So, for us to keep our cultural identity, we need to preserve our language. Unfortunately, it appears to me, especially those of us who have had some bit of education, that the use of the local language or our mother tongue has become secondary. In our homes, the mode of communication is the English language. I believe Hon Members of this House would bear me out that if somebody should speak a local language and make a mess of it, nobody would raise a whimper. However, let somebody speak English and make one or two grammatical mistakes; I believe, it might become his or her nickname. We are debasing our language and before we realise, we would lose our cultural identity and would not be able to develop our language. As of now, if we look at the way we even spell some words in our local languages, there are many versions speaking to the same thing. If we take the word “hye” for example, somebody would spell it “hye” and another, “she”.
Hon First Deputy Speaker?
Mr Speaker, the Hon Member on his feet is combining English and Akan. He wants to spell, “hye” which is an Akan word and he uses alphabets which are English. So, he probably exemplifies the challenges we have. I believe that if he wants to spell an Akan word, he should use the Twi alphabets.
Mr Speaker, I thank my Hon Senior Colleague for the correction. Mr Speaker, for example, somebody wants to spell “hye” in a Fante language, Mr Speaker, I believe we should not reinvent the wheel. Those of us who saw the original edition of Chaucer's book, “The Canterbury Tales”, would see that they also had their own confusion at that time; for instance, the word “choose” was spelt, “c-h-u-s-e”. But at a point in time, they realised that they had to standardise it so that the language would be fine. We are still going through those rudiments. Mr Speaker, we have still not been able to structure our language the way we have to do it for the benefit of future generations. In fact, the worse of it is that we are even relegating our own language to the background. Mr Speaker, I sent my little boy to a school and as a young boy who is just going to learn language, he was supposed to go through some kind of interview in the English language. I thought that he was there to learn the English language as a subject. However, because he could not express himself in the English language, he was disqualified and the school did not accept him. This just goes to establish the point that we are not pushing our local languages the way we have to. Mr Speaker, those of us who had the benefit of schooling in the villages in those days — In the Lower Primary, we were taught some of the subjects in our local languages. Once we realised that the English language itself was even a subject to be learnt, I believe we applied ourselves to it and because of that we learnt it well. Now, folks speak the English language from day one and they write the English language at Junior High School (JHS),
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity. I rise to comment on the Statement ably made by my Hon Colleague on the poor performance of our pupils in the English language. Mr Speaker, as a teacher by profession, I taught for not less than 24 years in the classroom and I came to realise that there is a big gap when it comes to the issue of the L1. In this country, it is quite a problem because we have so many dialects. When one even goes to the regions, he or she would find that we might not have less than 10 dialects that are spoken. Mr Speaker, let me take my own region, the Upper East Region as an example. When one goes to the extreme East, we have Kusal; and we further have two different tones with regard to Kusal. When we come to the middle belt, we have what is referred to as Gruni or Frafra. Then when one goes to the western side, we have Kasem. Mr Speaker, suppose a language is to be taught in the schools around there, all these three communities would come up to support the fact that their own dialect should be used. The issue is, which dialect should be used, where are the teachers? How are we going to get them? We are not ready to let go and have one particular language and so it becomes very difficult. Mr Speaker, secondly, the personnel are not available and even where they are available, they are not ready to go where they are needed. Mr Speaker, the issue is not about the L1 alone. This is because even if the L1 is taught at the lower primary, it is not taught just as that. The English language also comes at a certain point. The question that comes to mind is, whether the teachers who are supposed to teach these pupils live up to expectation. This is because, the teaching of English language is completely different from the teaching of Mathematics. One must have knowledge in the English language on how to teach it; English language cannot be taught by rote. If we do rote learning or teaching, we would never achieve our aim. There are teachers who think that they must necessarily go by the curriculum and for that matter, they run through it in order to be able to cover whatever they are supposed to teach. Mr Speaker, if we go into the teaching service, we would realise that most of our teachers are not, “Teachers”. They have only used that place as a stepping stone. So, they are not even interested in teaching. They only went there because they have no jobs. Therefore they are not ready to teach. Mr Speaker, it is a difficult one because we might not even have the “correct” head teachers or headmasters, if they are so called, to do the supervision and the monitoring. Even the head teachers and headmasters, do they have the knowledge to do the monitoring? There is a big gap. Mr Speaker, we used to have in-service training and it is still done; it is supposed to be a means of supporting teachers who are not able to handle lessons as expected. It is organised for these teachers outside teaching and learning hours. Today, I believe that it is used in another way. Mr Speaker, absenteeism is one of the greatest problems. From classes one to three, if one does not have a teacher who is very competent, then one can think of 80 per cent of our youth not performing well in English Language. This is because it is from classes one to three that the pupils form the basis of actually reading and writing. Mr Speaker, from my experience in the classroom, I can assure you that the teacher in class one should actually not be the one to teach in class one. One would be surprised to find out that it is the one who the officer in charge or head teacher believes is not the best of teachers who teaches class one. That is completely wrong. The teacher who should handle class one should be an experienced teacher who is well versed in the English Language and how to handle children. The class teacher should also be well versed in psychology. But those are the types of teachers who handle the lower primary and that is not good enough for us. Mr Speaker, the cumulative record has been explained. It has actually come a long way to help, this is because one is given the opportunity to work hard in his or her own classroom in order to attain 30 per cent of the total scores. Yet what do we see? Even when one goes back to take the cumulative record, one would realise that pupils do not do well. The problem is that we do not talk of poor performance of pupils in the L1; we talk of poor performance of pupils in the L2 and for that matter the English Language. Mr Speaker, so if we talk about the L1, we should look at families and parents too. Some parents would not even want to speak the L1 to their wards who are pupils. They do not have time for these pupils and they speak English with them.
Hon Members, Mr First Deputy Speaker to take the Chair. Hon Member, you may would continue.
[MR FIRST DEPUTY SPEAKER IN THE CHAIR.]
Hon Member, pleaase, continue.
Mr Speaker, pupils also leave school undetected. The teachers have a question to answer; parents have a question to answer and pupils also have a question to answer. As legislators we should make sure that we take it upon ourselves to monitor and find out from our individual schools whether teachers actually report for work in schools and whether the right thing is done. This is because we have Parent Teacher Associations and School Monitoring Committees and we have the District Education Oversight Committees. If we are to work hand in hand, I believe we would be able to help solve this problem. Mr Speaker, a lot needs to be put in the education sector. We complain about lack of jobs; it all emanates from the education sector. What we teach in schools is just the theoretical aspect; where is the practical aspect? Skill learning has completely been eroded from our activities in the school. Children sit in the classroom throughout the day; they do not have any practical work until, maybe, they are supposed to go out for Physical Education (P.E) and I can assure you that when you see pupils on the field doing P.E., do not be surprised what the teacher is wearing since the teacher in the first place, is not supposed to wear that to the field. Mr Speaker, because of the teacher's dressing, the pupils also decide to go to the field in their school uniforms. So, how does one teach P.E. when he or she is dressed like I am dressed right now and with pupils wearing school uniforms? How is the instructor going to teach as the learning hour is only when the pupils perform the activity? So, there is a very big gap. There is the need for us to go back to the drawing board and make sure that our curriculum is changed. Skill learning should be taken up seriously. We should have science corners in our classrooms. We should have our walls decorated with writings and pictures depicting what we want the pupils to learn. Mr Speaker, maybe one may take the trouble to find out from a pupil in the Upper East Region where Kumasi is situated on a map and he would not be able to tell you, simply because that pupil might not have seen a Ghana map before and does not know how it looks like. In the good old days, we had all our walls decorated with maps and we read and made sure we understood what was on the walls. Mr Speaker, we need to go back -- our teaching methodology must be made more practical. We should have all the Teaching and Learning Materials (TLMs). One does not go teaching English Language because he or she is speaking English; he should not teach the type of English by just writing on the blackboard. Mr Speaker, the teacher should have all the TLMs that one needs to use in teaching a class one pupil. The teacher should have the puzzles and the word matching sets. Today, when a teacher takes that to the classrooms they look at him and laugh and the pupils believe that it is because that teacher does not know what he is doing, that is the reason he is using those things. Meanwhile, the pupils do not only learn by saying or by seeing. Mostly, a pupil will learn better by touching, practising and using colours among others. Mr Speaker, we have a problem but there is so much to it. I only hope and pray that we are able to look at the issue carefully. I would not want to lose sight of the kind of English that is spoken out there by the youth which most pupils imitate. Excuse my language, you meet somebody who says that “Wetin dat?” [Laughter]. “Charlie, whatsup? Where you dey go? What you chop now? I dey go chop banku”. [Laughter.] Mr Speaker, it is unfortunate, as the pupils listen, they practise because they believe that it is good. Children by nature learn from their peers, so when they listen and learn, they write the same thing. If one says “wetin dat?” the child would write that same expression and not “What is that?” Most children are imitative so we need to bring it up in our communities, discuss these issues and let parents understand that it is not the English Language that has changed, which is giving us a problem; it is the attitude of the people which has changed. Mr Speaker, so we must make sure that we go back to our roots; speak our L1 to our children, encourage them to learn and discourage the youth from using that wonderful type of English and what have you. If we are able to do this and also make sure that we review the curriculum at the basic level, I believe that it would go a long way to help us.
I will come to the Leadership. Hon Alex Agyekum, and then, if there is anybody at the Minority Leadership who wants to contribute, I will close it up for now.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. I rise to contribute to the Statement made by my Hon Colleague. That is quite an insightful one. Mr Speaker, he made a number of, recommendations which must be taken on board. There are some fundamentals that would continue to be a debate, judging from the way he started. He said there are so many dialects. So the debate continues, which of the local languages should we adopt as an official language for instructions and the materials that would be used in addressing it? That becomes difficult. Mr Speaker, I happened to be in Japan. I studied their educational system for some time. From day one, while the child is growing up, the Japanese language is what they use as the medium of instruction in their schools. So, it is so easy for them to translate that particular local language into English Language, if they are explaining some concept in science. They need not translate Kussasi into English Language and then from English Language to the understanding of the concept. So it is easy for them. I do not know how many years it would take Ghanaians to do that and it is a challenge. Mr Speaker, aside from that, there was a time in our training colleges where we would train someone at Ajumako in a Fante Language and then during transfer, he is taken to a place where he or she could teach the Fante. Then, there was a change in policy because there was the need for national integration. Someone who was trained as a Fante teacher was sent to the north. When he goes there, there is that brief in- service training. What kind of in-service training and how long can one take to learn those languages up north? So, we can imagine the damage that we were doing to our children. That was also a challenge. Mr Speaker, my Hon Colleague at the other side gave some examples. That is becoming endemic. [Interruption.] Technological advancement -- I am happy that there are some students in the Public Gallery. They go to school with these various phones and the text messages that they send -- Mr Speaker, unfortunately, these language shortcuts must be translated when the actual language is written in the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE). So, the “weytin” that my Hon Sister talked about, they cannot use it when they write the actual examination. For the student to write “because” in its full sense in the English Language, they go the shortcut way, that is “cos” and decide that it stands for “because”; then we would have the examiners marking them down. Mr Speaker, if the Chief Examiner's report is released, we would see that our students do not appreciate basic rubrics in understanding even the questions they were asked. It is so because we are now in the computer age, and they use all these kinds of things in their studies. It is a challenge that we, as policy makers, must sit up and address, even if we are to call a national forum on education. This is because the experts are here in Ghana; we need not bring experts from outside.
Hon Member, I am worried. The main point of the Statement was that because we do not use our own language as the medium of instruction, our children are disabled from learning as quickly as they could; but we appear to zoom on the English Language, pidgins and so on. Let us return to the theme of the Statement. Hon Member, you may continue.
Mr Speaker, I take a cue from that; but we are saying that because of these other intervening variables, their abilities are affected. Mr Speaker, those days, you would agree with me that one would go to his or her school and boast about the number of story books one has read. Today, it is not so; it is the number of films that they have watched. That is what they boast of in their schools. So, in discussing all these things, we need to draw their attention to it; all these things affect their ability to appreciate the English Language. Mr Speaker, I believe that the Hon Member who made the Statement made a lot of recommendations and Hon Members have contributed to that. At the end of the day, we in this House have the power to change the course of the policy we adopt for our educational system. This is the time to act. Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity.
Hon Yieleh Chireh, you are the available Hon Leader; if you do not -- then I would give it to Hon Okudzeto. [Interruption.] -- Very well.
Mr Speaker, I am most grateful for the opportunity to make very brief comments on this very well researched Statement made by the Hon Member of Parliament for Chireponi. Mr Speaker, I wholeheartedly support the Statement he has made and the proposition that we should take a second look at our language policy and ensure that we strengthen it. Mr Speaker, for starters, the current language policy supports the Statement made. It is the policy at the Ministry of Education, which is spearheaded by the Ghana Education Service, that the mother tongue should be the medium of instruction at the early grade level. The challenge had been that it remains a policy that requires some legislative backing, and there is still some contestation when it comes to implementation. Some communities do not want some languages taught and there have been issues where that had led to some conflicts; I would want to leave out specific examples. Mr Speaker, but literature abounds that it is a settled matter, that scientific research points to the fact that every child that had the opportunity to be taught at the early grade level in their mother tongue grasps concepts easily properly fits into the educational system, and they become better students. It is really settled knowledge. Mr Speaker, it is no wonder that even when the missionaries arrived in the Gold Coast, they made it a point to learn our local languages. Research is available. If we read Mr Ofosu Appiah's work, which was published some time in 1972, he documented evidence when in 1872, the missionaries made sure to grasp our local languages, especially Twi and Ewe. They used these two media of instructions to teach in the mission schools before they later introduced the children of the Gold Coast at the time to English Language. So, if we celebrate the good old days and say that standards that were high in times past are falling, it is because of these things. So, I really do not see why there should be a debate. It is a mind-set thing; we need some reorientation. We still have parents in the modern era who say that, “me ba die, onka Twi”. To wit, “my child does not speak Twi”. Some parents think that they only get their money's worth when they send their children to school and they are taught in the English Language. They think if they send their children to school at the early grade level and the medium of instruction is in the mother tongue, they are probably wasting money; they should not pay school fees. We need reorientation, we need to change our mind-sets and accept that it is the best way to go if we would want to improve on standards and strengthen education outcomes. Mr Speaker, I would want to also add that in 2014, a special programme, the Ghana Reading Action Plan (GRAP), was introduced when I was at the Ministry of Education and it received US$71 million of support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The target was to improve the rather sad statistics that the Hon Member talked about; the early grade ability to read from two per cent, as was reported in 2010, to 80 per cent in the next five per cent. It is quite an ambitious target, but the joy is that even the donors agreed that we need to go back to the mother tongue. So, they supported us to produce textbooks in about 15 selected local languages. So, we could improve on that in building capacity for teachers and making sure that, at least, 2.8 million children over the next five years are supported by this GRAP, so that we could improve literacy and numeracy at the early grade level.
There is a Statement in the name of Hon Mohammed Hardi Tuferu. Early on, the Statement was called to be read but he was not in the House. If he is in now, he may read his Statement. Re-igniting discussions on abandoned housing projects in Ghana
Mr Speaker, I thank you for giving me the opportunity to make this Statement. Mr. Speaker, in Ghana, the housing deficit is not well known. However, the root causes which are improper planning and incoherent political activities, mismanagement and consequently, abandonment of public housing projects are easily identifiable. Even projects established in the colonial period to provide shelter were abandoned. Some housing projects were initiated for mere selfish politics (face-saving purposes) only to be abandoned along the way. Worse still, others were commenced to please electorates so as to avert threats and disloyalty from them, while the politicians knew very well that the government's finances could not complete those projects. Mr Speaker, the Ghana National Housing Policy and Action Plan of 1987- 1990 stated and with your permission I quote: “Our housing problem is one of a national development crisis with a current annual need of 70,000 units and an accumulated delivery deficit of 250,000 units needed to decrowd urban units from 10-61 to a household occupancy rate of 7. An average annual delivery of 133,000 units will be needed to provide adequate housing within the next twenty years as against the current annual delivery of 28,000 units which yields a performance rate of 21 per cent.” A study commissioned by FinMark Trust in 1995 regarding the development of housing in Africa revealed that the high income earners have enough resources to formally own houses, while the middle class finances the construction of their own houses incrementally, often in unplanned and unapproved areas which might lack certain basic amenities such as water, electricity and access roads. The solution for the middle class would be for the stakeholders in the housing sector to go into social housing (affordable housing). In 1952, Mr Speaker, the Tema Development Corporation (TDC) was established with the objective of housing low income workers in a new town around the newly created Tema Port. The Schockbeton Housing Scheme was also established which targeted to provide 168 houses in Accra, Kumasi and Sekondi- Takoradi. A total of 64 units were built. Policies like the roof loan scheme and the establishment of the State Housing Corporation (SHC) are all examples of policies that were put in place to provide low cost state housing during this era (Owusu and Boapeah, 2003). Mr Speaker, after taking over the reins of government, the National Redemption Council constituted a National Low Cost Housing Committee in March 1972, under the auspices of the Ministry of Works and Housing. A sum of 10 million cedis was allocated for the construction of low cost houses in all the ten regions of Ghana (BRRI, 1972). The Limann Government also recognised the enormity of the housing problems and concentrated investment in building of 1990 rental units by State Housing Corporation (SHC) and 228 Units by the TDC. The housing policy by the Rawlings Government that replaced Limann's regime in 1981 was a continuation of Limann's policies. From 2001-2004, the Ghana Government had planned to build about 20,000 housing units. In 2007, about 4,500 affordable housing units of bed-sitter, single and two bed room apartments were to be situated at Borteyman and Kpone in Accra and Asokore Mampong in the Ashanti Region (GOG, 2007). This was part of the government's effort to ease the housing problem in the country and was billed for completion and occupation by June 2009. Mr Speaker, public projects may become abandoned because of issues related to management and implemen- tation of the project, negative and incoherent political practices, lack of proper structure to ensure continuation of projects among others. Poor housing project implementation often manifests itself through excessive technology costs and project delays. When a public project is conceived and endorsed in Parliament, its commence- ment is more complex than what is expected. A project team expends more time and effort than originally anticipated, which in turn leads to an escalation in project cost. Mr Speaker, negative and incoherent political practices by successive governments contribute in no small way
Hon Members, we have another Statement which is on poor maintenance culture. I would take that one too so that we could discuss the two. So, I would invite Hon Ebenezer Nartey, Hon Member for Ablekuma Central to read his Statement. Is he not in the House? Very well, then let us start the discussion on the Statement. Hon Bedzrah?
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity and let me also thank my Hon Colleague for bringing to the fore, the housing deficit and its consequences on our national development. Mr Speaker, as of now, we all know that 1.8 million housing deficit is what has been circulated around and we know that we cannot actually determine how much housing deficit is in the country, but officially we know that it is about 1.8 million. Mr Speaker, the Hon Member who made the Statement mentioned that about 120 units of houses are needed annually but what we are delivering currently is about 20,000 houses. That would not support the housing delivery in this country. Mr Speaker, as a member of the Ghana Institution of Surveyors, one of the few things that we have decided as an institution, is to look at the housing cost in this country. More often than not, we have been trying to see how best we could bring the cost of housing down. There are a lot of factors that affect the housing delivery in the country. Mr Speaker, the first factor has to do with land acquisition. It is difficult to get lands to buy in this country. Since the lands are not in the hands of government, most often than not, you would be required to purchase land either from two owners, a chief or other people who might have sold the lands to other people and getting access to the lands becomes a problem. We were all witnesses to the issue at Adjei Kojo in the Gretaer Accra Region where we had encroachers on the land. Mr Speaker, people invested their moneys but the Tema Development Authority went ahead to demolish their houses. Mr Speaker, people have invested a lot of funds there but those houses have been demolished. So as a nation, how can we address the land acquisition issue? Mr Speaker, the other factor also has to do with site preparation. We cannot just put up houses anywhere because we do not have a Housing and Settlement Policy in this country. Mr Speaker, if we have a Housing Settlement Policy, we would know where to settle, but people settle anywhere and even in waterways, to the extent that they have blocked waters from running into the various courses. These are issues that affect housing delivery, but if we do not provide site and services; road network, electricity, water at the areas -- If a site has not been adequately provided with these services, one would provide the house which is the mainframe, but we would not have access to those places. Mr Speaker, but the cost of bringing those amenities into the house is quite expensive. Therefore as a nation, we must all agree that we should have a Housing and Settlement Policy where we would all agree that government has provided the infrastructure for people to put up their houses. Mr Speaker, if we do not have it then we would continue to have the high cost of housing in this country.
Mr Speaker, thank you and I would like to commend the Hon Member who made the Statement and to add my comments to the Statement on the floor. Mr Speaker, I believe that the abandonment of public houses is not the only challenge that we see in Ghana. There are so many private homes that are equally abandoned with a lot of consequences. But as the Hon Member who made the Statement said, there are several causes including poor planning, mismanagement and others. Mr Speaker, but I believe sincerely that there is an aspect that we would need to look at. As a people, what is our attitude towards what belongs to government and what is not? Mr Speaker, I believe that is one of the issues which we would need to take a look at. Who is govern- ment? Government is you and me and who even pays the government if there is an institution called Government? Mr Speaker, it is our taxpayer's money that is used to pay the government. The people who are put in the driving seat of government are in many cases elected by us. So, unless we change our attitudes towards what belongs to government and approach things differently, this issue about abandonment of public houses would continue. Mr Speaker, I would like to say that if we flip the coin and come to the abandonment of houses by so many people, I believe if we look at the number of houses in our communities that are uncompleted, we would see that so much money has been invested in houses that could have been used for economic development or could even be used to develop the family. People have abandoned their houses and there is no time limit to when to start a house and finish. Mr Speaker, maybe it is partly because the cost of building a house is too high in Ghana or we do not have avenues where people could leverage mortgages. I know that we have Ghana Home Loans and Home Finance Company (HFC) and other banks in Ghana that are providing this service but the question is at what cost? So, if we really want to reduce the cost of housing deficit in the country then sincerely, I believe we must create opportunities for people to be able to access funding and be able to build their own houses. Mr Speaker, in conclusion, I would want to say that in some countries, people are given tax incentives on all mortgages that they use to finance their homes. So, I believe if government wants to help Ghanaians to build their homes and reduce the housing deficit, then such incentives should be looked at in a positive way. Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity.
Mr Speaker, I thank you very much for the opportunity to add my voice to the Statement ably made by my own Colleague, Hon Tuferu. Mr Speaker, because of the tenor and the theme of the Statement, I might want to refer the House to article 35 (7) of the 1992 Constitution. It is in the effect that: “As far as practicable, a govern- ment shall continue and execute projects and programmes commenced by the previous Governments.” Mr Speaker, my Hon Colleague is lamenting the culture where succeeding Governments either abandon or fail to continue housing projects initiated by the preceding Government. I believe he brings this matter to the attention of the House because of the numerous state- sponsored housing schemes that are either in abeyance or for one reason, are yet to be completed and yet new ones are being sponsored or undertaken. Mr Speaker, this matter brings to mind the state of the Borteyman Housing Scheme, the Dawhenya and the Prampram Housing Scheme, the Kpone Housing Scheme and all the other State-sponsored housing schemes that have not been
Hon Deputy Minister for Works and Housing, I would give you the last word, so let me get to the Hon Odotei.
Mr Speaker, I thank you very much for the opportunity. Mr Speaker, I rise to add my voice to the issue of the housing deficit in the country. The deficit in providing decent accommodation and housing to the citizenry cannot be overemphasised. When one travels across the country, from the urban areas, sub-urban and even to the very rural areas, one would see that the issue of deficit accommodation is a very big challenge. Mr Speaker, one would wonder how evident this problem is; we are still grumbling to provide a solution to it. I come from a constituency where we own majority of prized lands in Ghana. I must be honest to myself that the issue of land acquisition, transfer of lands, identification of the proper owners of lands and the way the traditional system of land management as required is a key problem. Mr Speaker, even those of us who are natives of where these lands are owned have become victims of the poor management and poor ownership procedures of land, let alone the Government. Mr Speaker, when we look across the regions, we can see a lot of uncompleted attempts at the so called affordable housing projects. Some of them have been stalled because of litigation and multiple ownership; and it is very complicated that sometimes one would feel that there are deliberate bottlenecking processes in our Lands Commission and the statutory bodies in trying to own lands. There have been attempts to reform our land ownership system over the past. Some attempts are being supported by the World Bank. We must all admit that we are still grappling with the issue of land acquisition. Mr Speaker, I am sure there are a lot of people in the private sector; both internal and outside this country who would love to take the opportunity in terms of business, of the availability of these lands to be able to make money and invest in this sector. Unfortunately, most of them would tell you that the issue of land acquisition is a big problem. Mr Speaker, even in our efforts at trying to handle the “One District One Factory” project, I am sure the issue of land acquisition would raise its ugly head and it is something we must look at. However, Mr Speaker, apart from the issue of acquisition of land, there is the issue of cost. Across the world, one main structure of financing housing and accommodation is through the mortgage and leasing system. This is not well developed and none existing in this country because of culture. We have a culture of ownership. We have a culture of front loading. We have a culture of front loading every expenditure on every asset that we would want to acquire. That is a bad financial management behaviour which we must abhor as a country. Mr Speaker, in addition to that, leasing or mortgage or any other form where the financing of an asset is spread over a long period of time is something that we must begin to look at. It is something that as a country, we should look at not only for financing accommodation and decent housing, but in the acquisition of every asset. This means that we must ensure that we develop our mortgage industry. Mr Speaker, but before we could develop that there is the issue of the cost of capital. I am sure when most people look at the cost of financing and acquiring money to develop assets and housing, it is very prohibitive. This is why the attempts by this present Government to bring down inflation, which has an impact on the cost of financing. The European Investment Bank (EIB) Project and the digital address system, when one goes to acquire finance, goes to add to the margin; the risk factor of the cost of capital. Mr Speaker, as a country, this is something that we must begin to look at. We could address the land acquisition system, but if the cost of financing and putting up this system is very prohibitive, we would still see a lot of our people on our streets and inhabiting very poor facilities with the attendant risks. Mr Speaker, before a good mortgage system or a leasing system must come into place, the insurance companies, in insuring the risks that the companies -- and on behalf of the threat or the possibility of a re-mortgage -- For example, if people who acquire properties through mortgage plan lose their jobs, in the industrialised countries, there is a form of insurance mechanism which protects both the lessee and the lessor or mortgage and the mortgagee. This would ease and ensure that majority of the people would know the process and the structure that would lead to an easy ownership of decent accommodation. Mr Speaker, to summarise, we need to look at land acquisition, the whole structure of asset financing and accommodation financing and we must proceed. I am glad the Hon Deputy Minister for Finance is here. We must proceed to ensure that we drive towards this recalibration of the economy to bring down the cost of capital so that mortgage companies can bring in the private sector who are ready to invest and then the citizenry who have the demand for nice accommodation.
I would give the last one to the Hon Deputy Minister for Works and Housing. Deputy Minister for Works and Housing (MsFreda Akosua O. Prempeh)(MP):Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, for giving me the opportunity to also contribute to the Statement ably made by the Hon Member of Parliament for Nanton Constituency. Mr Speaker, indeed, it is a worrying situation if as a country we have a housing deficit of 1.7 million. If we should even conduct a comprehensive research now, we would be heading towards a deficit of about two million. The previous government under former President Kufuor's Administration started the Affordable Housing Project at Borteiman, Tamale, Wa, Koforidua and Asokore Mampong in Kumasi. I am happy that my Hon Colleague brought the issue out, that Government did not complete the Affordable Housing Project that was started by the previous administration. Mr Speaker, during the vetting of my Hon Minister, he assured the good people of this country that he was going to ensure that all those houses are completed. We all need roofs over our heads. There are a lot of slums across the country. As a Ministry, we are working very hard towards upgrading those slums and ensuring that none of such slums would develop in other areas of the country. Mr Speaker, my other Hon Colleague talked about the issue of land. It is another worrying situation. We are trying as much as possible to acquire land across the country. We believe that Accra as a city is choked now; China developed its rural areas, that is why it has developed so much as it is now. We are trying to move into the rural areas to acquire lands and put up affordable houses for the good people of this country. Mr Speaker, you would agree with me that --
Hon Minister, in your affordable housing, what is affordable?
Mr Speaker, affordable housing depends on how much the person buying and renting can afford to pay. By international standards, you are not even supposed to pay more than 30 per cent of your salary as mortgage, but when you drive around Accra and Kumasi, at the prime areas, you would see a lot of buildings around crying for buyers. So, you ask, why do we always talk about 1.7 million deficit when we have a lot of houses around crying for buyers? The issue is affordability. We can only bring down the cost when we look back and see how best we can incorporate our local materials into the building industry, and I am happy that my brother talked about the “One District One Factory” project. I believe that the “One District One Factory” project -- even in my constituency we are looking at putting up a brick and tile factory, where we would produce bricks, floor tiles and roofing tiles, so that we can incorporate about 50 to 60 per cent of the building materials into our building industry to bring down the cost of building. Mr Speaker, this brings me to the issue of maintenance. We talked about public houses. As you drive around, if you enter some of the houses that have been given out to people, public servants and civil servants to live in, it is so pathetic. I have been telling myself that this is where you live. Even if it is for the Government, you should be able to maintain that property. But if we keep on abandoning Government property, Government would have to look for funding to rehabilitate these properties for other people to live in. Mr Speaker, he also talked about access to credit. It is one of the major challenges in the housing industry. As a Ministry, we are working very hard to revive the Bank for Housing and Construction. Re- cently, we commissioned the Cons- truction Bank near Novotel. As of now, we only have Home Financing Company (HFC), Ghana Home Loans and some other banks which offer mortgage services. But the point is that if the investor has to go and borrow so much at high interest, at the end of the day, it is the consumer who suffers the ripple effect. So, we would have a bank for housing and construction purposely for the housing industry, which would offer loans to investors at a very low rate. I believe we would be able to maintain the affordability of the housing industry that we are all looking at. Mr Speaker, like the Borteyman Housing Project, for instance, the current Government tried to complete it by using SSNIT, but currently as it stands, it is no more affordable, because previously in former President Kufuor Administration the two-bedroom house was going for US$25,000 at the time the dollar rate was 1:1, so, it was GH¢25,000.00. As we speak now, it is about GH¢220,000.00 per two-bedroom house. Is this an affordable house that the average Ghanaian can purchase? No. So, as a Ministry, we are looking into the Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) and the contract documents to see how best we can bridge the gap and bring the cost down so that the average Ghanaian can purchase. The National Housing Authority needs some rules to regulate the housing industry. The National Housing Policy was launched in 2015. Currently, we are working on the National Housing Authority and the amendment of the Rents Act. We are working on our building ports as well -- a lot of high rise buildings are springing up. I am talking about the condominium houses, so we need to put laws in place to regulate the industry and the system. As a Ministry, we are doing our best to ensure that the average Ghanaian is able to purchase quality affordable houses. If we talk about affordable, we should also be thinking of the quality, because people think that once it is affordable it should be anything. Mr Speaker, there are a lot of contractors who are knocking on our doors, following up on their payment and on their certificates, but how many of these contractors who have foremen would even go to the extent of finding out what the foremen are doing at the sites?
I can speak of our own building; the building which was built three years ago. It is like the building was put up about 25 years ago, because of our attitude. So, if we are talking about the building industry, we should be talking about rules and regulations governing the building industry so that the contractors would do a good job. We are working very hard, as I said earlier, to complete the Koforidua, Wa, Tamale and Asokore Mampong affordable houses. We also have about a thousand and over houses in Accra. We are making sure that we bring back some life into these houses, so that people can move into them because there are a lot of people in these houses -- Mr Speaker, it would interest you to know that some people have been on retirement for 5, 6 or 7 years, but they are still occupying Government bungalows. Some people are on retirement, they have left the service and they have given the bungalows to their families or their friends. There are people who are not paying anything to the Government. If we have about 100 houses in Accra alone and GH¢100.00 is paid by each tenant, how much would we be making in a month? We could use that money to complete these houses for people to rent. We could use that money to complete the affordable housing projects for people to buy. Mr Speaker, we are looking forward to reviving the Bank for Housing and Construction, so that investors would have access to credit. There are a lot of investors knocking on our doors, but the question is, are we going to go into an off-takers agreement with these people? Is the Government going to give them Government guarantee? Are they going to produce the houses on build-own- transfer (BOT) basis. We are looking at all these to find out exactly where we can meet our investors halfway, to ensure that we would be able to produce, at least, 100,000 and over houses a year if we really want to bridge the gap in the housing sector. So, Mr Speaker, on this note, I would thank the Hon Member who made the Statement for bringing this issue out and also assure the good people of this country, that as a Ministry, we are making frantic efforts to ensure that the good people of Ghana have quality affordable houses. 2. 40 p. m.
Mr Speaker, I acknowledge the very positive contribution by the Hon Deputy Minister for Works and Housing, and I think she has about said it all. Mr Speaker, recognisably, the deficits in the housing sector is about 1.7 million. Mr Speaker, the housing need of this country, every year, is in the region of one hundred and twenty thousand and one hundred and thirty thousand houses. We are only able as a country to deliver, every year, between 40 and 50 thousand houses. What it means is that, every year, we are adding on to that stock of deficit, a minimum of seventy thousand (70,000) houses. So, whereas we are saying that it is 1.7 million, this year into next year, it would be in the region of about 1.8 million. That is if we go on the track of housing delivery as it is now. That is why I agree with her, that we must aim to deliver on the average, at least one hundred thousand houses every year. If we are able to do that, it is going to take us a minimum of thirty years to get to ground zero. So, it is a major thing that is confronting us as a nation, that we need to initiate very bold measures. It is the reason why what the previous Government wanted to do with resort to the XTL vehicle was commendable. And we said that it was a good initiative and that we should get our bearings right, except that people would not listen and then the whole attempt crashed. Mr Speaker, but as we said then, it was a very useful exercise that the nation was going to embark on if we had done it right at the time. The Hon Bedzrah and others who have spoken before him, have alluded to the troubles afflicting the industry; land ownership, land administratio , and as a nation, we attempted to review our land administration in the Land Administration Project-LAP. It took us about twenty years to do this. Uganda came to Ghana and learnt from us. Within three years, they had done their own and yet, it had to take us about twenty years to complete just one project. It tells how serious we are as a nation dealing with the problem that is staring in our face. Mr Speaker, today, if we walk the streets of Accra, the typical Ghanaian walking the streets of Accra complaining of lack of housing, is not looking for owner-occupy structures; they are looking for rented accommodation. And yet, every effort as a nation, that we have tried to intervene in housing delivery, is in owner-occupy structures. I heard my Hon Deputy Minister talk about affordable housing. That system itself relates to owner-occupy structures. And she tells us that today, the average cost of those affordable housing is in the region of about GH¢220, 000. Which typical worker could purchase what we call affordable housing? Mr Speaker, as I said, we have gotten it wrong as a nation. The typical worker looking for accommodation, wiping the sweat off his forehead and is complaining that he needs housing is looking for rented accommodation and not the owner- occupied structures that we keep investing in and which is not helping us to address the problem. It is the reason why we suffer the deficit and it is accumulating every year. So, let us get the concept right; what do we want to do? Investing in rental accommodation or owner-occupy structures? Mr Speaker, other matters relating to the high cost of building materials; we all do know the cost of portland cement in this country. In the industrialised countries, those of them that we are trying to copy, the average cost of a 50- kilogramme bag of cement is in the region of about US$2.00. What is the cost of cement in Ghana as we speak today? And how do we expect to conquer what problem, what mountain that we have before us when the cost of portland cement is so high? Mr Speaker, about some sixteen years back, during the days of NDC Mac I.
somebody imported about twenty containers full of iron rods to this country. In spite of the punitive taxes and duties that were slapped on the person, it was realised that the iron rods that had been imported from far away Ukraine, after all those punitive taxes have been slapped on the importer, the cost was still 50 per cent less than what obtained on the Ghanaian market. And then somebody went to say that they should take the samples of it to the Atomic Energy Commission for testing. This is because they thought that they had been contaminated by the leakage in the atomic reactor in Ukraine and because of that, they wanted to dispose of those iron rods to other countries. Nothing was farther from the truth. Mr Speaker, it tells us that something is wrong with us. The cost of cement is high and yet we are sitting on porcelaineous cement which we could use. We are not researching much into that. The other Hon Colleagues spoke about what effort Building and Road Research Institute has been doing all this while, using burnt bricks, asbestos, et cetera. Where has this landed us? Reinforced landcrete, where are those efforts leading us to? They are just resting on shelves. The cost of iron rods, the cost of aggregates keep rising. It is one of the reasons why constructing asphalt roads has been so prohibitive. Securing aggregates from our own quarries, the cost is gone through the roof. So, the average building in Ghana is about three times more expensive than the average building in the United Kingdom. A basic thing relating to the cost of the land. Some of us keep saying that if we do not regulate land ownership in this country, nothing useful can happen in this country. Even farmlands -- Today, the cost of acquiring farmlands -- and when you have succeeded in procuring one for yourself, there are surfaces where so many people are pretending to be owners of the same parcel of land and so you would have to pay twice, thrice, and even sometimes four times for the same parcel of land. If we do not regulate land ownership in this country, no proper development can happen here. Mr Speaker, yesterday, somebody asked a Question about Aveyime Rice Project. The involvement of Miss Cotton. We all know what happened after they left. Quickly, people went into it and claimed ownership of the land and said they needed compensation. What kind of attitude is that? And there are people who are lazy about not wanting to do anything all because they want to be selling lands. Times were, when people had to be forced to be enstooled as chiefs. Today, people are paying bribes to be made chiefs because they have eyes on some parcel of land sitting somewhere that they want to grab and sell. Is that how to develop our country? You go to the Southern and Eastern African countries and compare the development that is going on there. In Namibia, in South Africa and in Tanzania, and you come and measure what is happening in Ghana and you would realise that what is happening in East Legon, which we pride ourselves in what we are doing there would end up as 21st Century squatter settlement. This is because we have no way of regulating what we do. When people want to build elsewhere, those parcels of land are demarcated. The lands are serviced in advance for people to go and construct. What are we doing in this country? So, we need to be careful. We are not inviting the appropriate investors, people are scared and land ownership is a problem. The basic asset that is required - land ownership is scary and nobody wants to come in. Let us get it right. Above all, a lot also depends on the economic environment. We do that which is not managed well because we have tied everything to the economic environment and the strength of the cedi. How would we maintain the cedi in a stable form? If an investor could predict reasonably what would happen to our currency in the next 10 years, that investor might invest. However, if inflation keeps skyrocketing and the cedi keeps depreciating, we would not attract investors into long term projects like housing. Nobody would come. So, that is another matter we should consider. Finally, if we have stabilised the economic environment, everywhere else, where bold interventions have been made into housing delivery, one fund that is usually assessed is social security. So, we must get it right in the first place because most people who have contributed social security have invested. If the economic environment is stabilised, the social security fund could be free to use as a source of funding for housing. Housing should be properly targeted -- rental accommodation and not the owner occupier structures. It is the
That is the end of the time for Statements.
Mr Speaker, we both came from the Minority together and I believe that we have crossed the rubicon.
Hon Majority Leader, yes, I corrected myself.
Thank you very much. Mr Speaker, we have exhausted the Business for today, Mr Speaker, today being Friday, and given the fact that about nine Committees have been listed to Sit, I would plead that we adjourn proceedings to next week Tuesday at 12.00 noon. Mr Speaker, I so move.
Mr Speaker, when the Hon Majority Leader wants to be addressed as Hon Majority Leader, and for only Statements to be made on a Friday, then he says it is Friday; what is the time now? I second the Motion. Question put and Motion agreed to.
The House was accordingly adjourned at 2.56 p.m. till Tuesday, 18th July, 2017 at 12.00 noon.