MR FIRST DEPUTY SPEAKER
VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS AND THE OFFICIAL REPORT
Hon Members, correction of Votes and Proceedings dated 13th October, 2017. Page 1…10 --
Mr Speaker, on page 10, item captured as 2 on clause 1 of the Middle Belt Development Authority Bill, 2017, which states: “… before “and” insert “State Property and Contracts Act, 1960 (CA 6)”, I remember vividly that issues were raised whether or not that Act has been repealed. We were informed by the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice that sections of that Act (CA 6) had been repealed -- I think they are sections 8 to 15 -- but I do not see it captured here as per the agreement. So, we decided to flag it. So, Mr Speaker, if the Table Office could capture same. That was why it was differed. It has been captured here and from the word go, when it is read, it is as if in that clause, we decided to insert the “State Property and Contract Act” but we were not sure whether it is the entire Act that has been repealed or sections of the Act per the advice given us by the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Yes, Chairman of the Committee?
Mr Speaker, the way it is captured is correct. It was proposed and after some debate, it was differed but we would have the opportunity to take it again today. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Very well. Page 11…20 -- The Votes and Proceedings of Friday, 13th October, 2017, as corrected are hereby adopted as the true record of proceedings.
Mr Speaker, I am coming under Standing Order 53. Mr Speaker, if you look at the programme that was read to all of us on Friday, that has to do with the Business of today, they scheduled five Questions to be answered today. Unfortunately, on today's Order Paper, there is only one Question and no explanation has been given to any of us in the Leadership, even at the closed meeting. I would want once again to draw the Hon Speaker's attention that, when we have these programmes, if there is any good reason for which they have to be altered, it is only fair that we are notified and the Hon Members involved also notified. When people know they have Questions, they sometimes come along with people who are going to be affected to the Gallery to witness. Yet, without telling them anything, those businesses vanish from the Order Paper. I do not think that is fair to the House and to the Hon Members involved. I would be very happy if we are told why those four other Questions are not on the Order Paper. Thank you very much, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, obviously, my Colleague, the Hon Minority Chief Whip, this morning, seems to be in a hurry. Mr Speaker, I was actually waiting on you per Order 53 of our Standing Orders that as you finish with the Votes and Proceedings and get to Question time, I would offer reasons for the issues raised by the Hon Minority Chief Whip. This is a justifiable attention that he has drawn to the House and your good self, except to say that indeed, it is true that in the Business Statement that was read on Friday, there were other Questions that were scheduled for the Minister for Foreign Affairs -- about three of them -- by the Hon Okudzeto Ablakwa and the Hon Minister for Aviation as well. Mr Speaker, as we are all aware, the Minister for Foreign Affairs is the one in charge of our international relations and we are very much aware that His Excellency, the President of la Cote d'Ivoire, H.E. Alassane Ouattara was within the jurisdiction, and it is only for courtesy and diplomacy that the Hon Minister for Foreign Affairs would be the one to lead the delegation and engage our foreign President. Mr Speaker, the same applies to the Hon Minister for Aviation. They were the Ministers that His Excellency the President actually handpicked to be part of his delegation to receive His Excellency, President Ouattara. So, the Hon Minority Chief Whip is justified in raising the issue, but I was waiting for Mr Speaker to call for Question time. Mr Speaker, that is the reason we do not see these Questions on the Order Paper. Thank you.
My attention has just been drawn to a letter from the Ministry of Aviation requesting that the Question to the Hon Minister be re-scheduled to Thursday, 19th October, 2017. It was copied to the Hon Deputy Majority Leader, but it was received at 4.55 p.m. yesterday. So, it is most likely that attention may not have been drawn to it early.
Mr Speaker, when I was speaking, I said that he was justified in raising those concerns. So, that is an admission that indeed, we should have engaged him. Mr Speaker, but the Hon Minority Chief Whip would agree with me that, at the pre-Sitting, he pre-occupied himself with an issue which after it was exhausted we had to be in the Chamber. Mr Speaker, so, the Hon Minister for Aviation as well as the Hon Minister for Foreign Affairs have indicated to the Clerk to Parliament and I am aware of the letter. So, those Questions have been re- scheduled to be taken on Thursday as well as the Question to the Ministry of Agriculture.
Hon Deputy Majority Leader, I had not got to Question time when the Hon Minority Chief Whip raised the issue, but your responses appear to have given the impression that, we would not have any Hon Minister to answer any Question today. Hon Deputy Majority Leader, do I understand you to have said that the only Urgent Question programmed may also not be answered today?
Mr Speaker, rightly so. The Hon Minister for Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation is also out of the jurisdiction and we got that indication from him. So, that Question would be re-scheduled to be taken on another day. I believe that Hon Members who were expecting those Hon Ministers could really prepare themselves for Thursday and the ensuing week.
Very well. Hon Members, before I move to the next item --
Hon Member for Ellembelle, are you going to repeat what your Hon Leader has said? I have heard you say that, the Hon Minister should come and that is what your Hon Leader said. Are you going to repeat that? Before we --
Mr Speaker, I thought that you were talking to the Hon Leader. I wanted to express a personal concern --
The group's concern had been expressed by the Hon Leader and I think that is sufficient. Thank you very much.
The Hon Ministers must take this House seriously --
Hon Members, order! Visit of delegation from the Kwazulu- Natal Provincial Legislature
Hon Members, I have the pleasure to introduce to you a 12-member delegation of the Portfolio Committee on Transport from the Kwazulu-Natal Provincial Legislature of the Republic of South Africa who are on a one-week study visit to Ghana. They are here, among others, to share experiences on issues relating to legis- lation that governs the transport sector. It is also to afford the delegation the opportunity to meet with stakeholders involved in the transport network including the railway system, road safety programmes, integrated public transport system and road maintenance funding models that can be adopted for use in South Africa. The visit is, above all, intended to create the platform to promote networking between our Members and their South African counterparts with the aim of deepening relations between the two Legislatures. The delegation comprises the following: Hon N. N. Sibhidla-Sapheha, (Chairperson); Hon M. B Ntuli, Member; Hon Z. M Ludidi, Member; Hon A. Shelembe, Member; Hon M. C Frazer, Member; Hon. N. Ntobela, Member; Hon. S.A Duma, Member; Hon S. Moodley, Member; Hon R Sayadeli, Member; Hon S. J. Mdakane, Member; Ms N. L Dube, Committee Coordinator; Mr T. T. Msomi, Committee Researcher; Hon Members, on your behalf, I wish them fruitful deliberations and a pleasant stay in the country.
Hon Members, item numbered 4 -- Statements.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. M r S p e a k e r , t h e 1 5 th day of October marks the United Nations Global Hand- washing Day. The 15th of October of every year, Mr Speaker, has been set aside by the United Nations as a day to be recognised in all nations as a day to create awareness on handwashing with soap in the hope that it would improve hygiene and enhance livelihoods. Mr Speaker, scientific research has shown that handwashing with soap prevents diseases in a more direct and straightforward way as well as cost- effective manner than the application of any single vaccine. Indeed, the practice of handwashing has become one of the major global sanitation agenda items which has been highlighted every year to increase awareness and deepen understanding of the importance of handwashing with soap. Mr Speaker, our hands are principal carriers of disease-causing pathogens from either direct person-to-person contact or indirectly through surfaces of various materials. Handwashing with soap removes germs from hands, which helps to prevent the transmission of infections and diarrhoeal diseases including cholera. However, for a variety of reasons, many people do not regard handwashing with soap as a priority or undertake that activity wrongly, thus resulting in the frequent occurrence of needless deaths and lowering of productivity. Mr Speaker, this year's theme is ‘Our Hands, Our Future', reminding us that handwashing protects our own health and also allows us to build our future, as well as those of our communities, and the world at large. Thinking of the future, and striving for improved health and enhanced wellbeing and productivity for ourselves, our families and our communities are the underpinning of the call for handwashing with soap. Mr Speaker, the Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources has a commitment towards significantly reducing water and sanitation-related diseases. It is now time for all Ghanaians to put sanitation and personal hygiene in their proper perspectives. The provision by the State with adequate supply of quality water and improved sanitation alone are not enough. Our individual lifestyles do matter. Personal hygiene practices such as handwashing with soap, before and after meals, as well as after group functions are all essential complements to the availability of water and sanitation facilities. Mr Speaker, according to the Ghana Demographic Health Survey of 2014, only 46.2 per cent and 29 per cent of households in the urban and rural areas respectively have handwashing facilities with soap and water. There is a growing body of evidence also, that latrine provision alone is not sufficient. It is by adding a crucial handwashing component to existing and ongoing sanitation activities, that the critical health benefits of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 can be realised. The promotion of handwashing with soap will help to maximise the effect of the sanitation and hygiene programme which is one of the important steps towards development and better quality life. Mr Speaker, ensuring that handwashing facilities are fitted in all households, both urban and rural, will improve the statistics. Mr Speaker, I wish to appeal to all Hon Members of this august House and the country at large, to make handwashing with soap a top priority in their daily activities. Let us all resolve today to promote a future Ghana where handwashing with soap at all times would readily be accepted and practised by all. Handwashing with soap should be a way of life for all of us. Mr Speaker, we should always remember the critical times for hand- washing, especially after visiting the toilet and before handling food (thus before cooking, eating and serving others with food). Mr Speaker, the method of washing hands is as important as the commitment to wash our hands. Mr Speaker, first getting the hands soaked with water, before applying the soap must be borne in mind. Also, washing both hands at the same time and rubbing them together, ensuring that one washes between fingers and nails will ensure that all dirt is broken down and rinsed off properly. Preferably, a dry clean towel or clothe should be used to dry off the hands to conclude the process. Mr Speaker, I would wish to ac- knowledge our partners in this campaign, such as Global Communities, USAID, Water Aid, UNICEF, Plan Ghana, World Vision Ghana, Rotary International, Rural Water Development Programme of Church of Christ, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health and Coalition of NGOs in Water and Sanitation Sector. Mr Speaker, may I have your permission to demonstrate the handwashing practice to this Honourable House and invite Leadership to do same. Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, may I have your permission to demonstrate the handwashing practice to Hon Members of this Honourable House. I would invite Hon Colleagues to do same, if they wish. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Thank you, Hon Minister. Where is the Hon Ranking Member of the Committee on Works and Housing?
Hon Sampson Ahi? How I wished it was not him.
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to -- [Interruption] -- contribute to the Statement made by the Hon Minister. Mr Speaker, Global Handwashing Day is a campaign to motivate people to cultivate the habit of washing their hands regularly. Mr Speaker, we all know that our hands are used for several activities -- [Several Hon Members: Like?] -- Like eating. [Laughter.] Mr Speaker, as we celebrate this important day, there is the need for us to ask certain important questions. There are two key ingredients in ensuring that people wash their hands effectively: These are the availability of clean water and soap. Mr Speaker, as we speak, 25 per cent of our population do not have access to clean water. So, the question then is: “how would Ghanaians, who form part of this 25 per cent, who do not have access to clean water, participate in this important exercise?” Mr Speaker, if we go to most traditional homes, soap is used mainly for bathing and washing clothes. It is not meant for handwashing, and woe betides a person if he/she attempts to use soap to wash their hands. Mr Speaker, it is imperative that as we celebrate this important occasion, we educate ourselves about the importance of washing our hands. Most people believe that it is only when they have attended to nature's call that, they would have to wash their hands, but as Africans and for that matter Ghanaians, we are enjoined by our culture to associate
Yes, Hon Deputy Minister?
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to contribute to the Statement ably made by the Hon Minister and Member of Parliament. Mr Speaker, I would also want to add that we have a lot of leaders who are actually supporting this important initiative of washing our hands anytime we get to our homes and anytime we have to touch things that we are not supposed to touch. Mr Speaker, I would want to thank all the Hon Leaders, who in diverse ways support this noble initiative, most especially, the First Lady, Mrs Rebecca Akufo-Addo, who before the launch had a pre-launch with students at the Independence Square, where she demonstrated the washing of hands to pupils and students and to the world at large. I would want to commend all of them, and I would wish to beg every leader to support us in championing this noble cause. Mr Speaker, let me also take the opportunity to thank the Media for the way they are supporting us to highlight this important activity. This is because, we all know that when we are able to wash our hands, it goes a long way to support our health, but it is so sad to hear from the statistics that as much as we have 26 per cent of people who have potable drinking water, we also have 26 per cent of our population in the rural communities, who are the only group washing their hands with soap. Mr Speaker, it therefore, means that 74 per cent of our people do not practice the use of handwashing. In this vein, I would want to beg all Hon Members of Parliament, who are the first gentlemen and ladies of their various constituencies to support us in this noble objective in making sure that our communities actually practice handwashing, so as to increase the percentage. Mr Speaker, for Hon Members here, because of our profession, all we do is that, we move round every day, and if we do not shake hands with people, it means that we are not part of them, and if we do not take time, it would cost us our elections. Mr Speaker, because of that, constantly, we greet and shake hands with people daily. Therefore, I would like to conscientise Hon Members that we are at risk, so, we would need to cultivate the habit of having sanitisers in our cars and basins at least in our homes and in our offices, such that constantly, we might sanitise our hands before we even touch food that goes into our stomachs. Mr Speaker, I would also want to add that we know that handwashing has a serious correlation with our health, so, for our convalescent National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA), I believe that if we would want it to survive, then it also calls to say that we should increase the awareness among our communities, so as to reduce the health incidence and also make sure that our health insurance recovers fully. Thank you, Mr Speaker, and I would want to thank the Hon Member who made the Statement for the wonderful Statement. Thank you.
Mr Speaker, thank you for this opportunity. Mr Speaker, before I contribute to the Statement, I would wish to congratulate the Hon Member who made the Statement, and say that he has done very well. Mr Speaker, the issue of washing hands with soap under running water cannot be overemphasised. Mr Speaker, it is not an issue that has to be handled by only the Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources. It includes a whole lot of Ministries and all other stakeholders, including Ghanaians at large -- each and every one of us. Mr Speaker, let us take our public toilets, for instance, where we have the greatest risk when we visit those lavatories. Many at times, we go to these public toilets and realise that there is nothing like water for us to even rinse our hands, not to talk of washing with soap under running water. It is very important that, education is given to the whole public and that all those who have public latrines, whether for the public to pay and get in or by Government, should have these facilities. There should be water not only with one basin or bucket, but at least two basins and buckets because, we may have both ladies and gents going in, so that the queue would not be long and deter others from participating in this all-important activity. That is for our own health. Mr Speaker, charity begins at home. It is important that the Hon Minister for Health and the Hon Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection and all other stakeholders come up with a programme. Let us give that education; let us make our people understand that, it is not when they go to the bathroom to wash themselves down that they necessarily have to wash their hands but that it is important that, they wash their hands even as they sit and get up. It is important. This is because, as they sat down, most probably, the hand would have touched so many things around which could have either collected dirt or whatever. It is very necessary we also send this message. I know very well that, in most of our schools these days it is practised, but to what extent, Mr Speaker, we are yet to tell. This is because, many at times, there may not be water and even if there is, the water might not be potable or clean enough because it is unnecessary for us to wash our hands with soap in dirty water. So, it is very important to have good and clean water available with the soap. Mr Speaker, it is very important for us to make sure that we have what it takes. Even if we would get water in the neighbourhood, what about the soap? Let us take our schools, for instance, it is not going to be a one-time thing. It is not one day; it is every day. In some schools, we have thousands of pupils and every pupil, I would say, should endeavour to wash his or her hands everyday when they get to school notwithstanding the teachers. So, it is a duty for the teachers to take up this issue; it is a duty for all stakeholders. We as Hon Members of Parliament (MPs) should make this as one of our national anthems when we get back to our communities and mount platforms. We should be able to articulate this, and let all stakeholders listen and understand what we are talking about. Mr Speaker, fortunately, it is the Hon Minister for Sanitation and Water Resources himself who has made this Statement at no less a place but in Parliament. I would urge the Hon Minister for Sanitation and Water Resources to ensure that each basic school especially, should have a borehole to enable them get water. I assure him that water is not going to be only for the issue of the washing of hands but even for them to drink. It would go a long way to help. In the rural communities where water is a problem, they share the same water sources with animals. The animals go there to defecate, people go into these water bodies to bathe, others wash along those rivers, streams or better still, dams or dugouts and human beings go there to fetch. We go under the pretence of using certain concoctions and others for instance, alum to purify water. We put this chemical inside the water and say it is clean because we have seen that maybe, particles which can be picked up are settled under. We say the water is clean, when in actual fact the water is not clean because we have put an additive in it and we do not even know what quantity we should have put in it. Mr Speaker, with these few words, I urge the Hon Minister for Sanitation and Water Resources to do more and collaborate with his colleague Hon Ministers to enable them do a better job. I thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity.
Mr Speaker, I would like to express my sincere thanks to the Hon Member who made the Statement, Hon Kofi Adda, Hon Member of Parliament for Navrongo Central and Hon Minister for Sanitation and Water Resources. Mr Speaker, according to hygiene experts, handwashing has reduced the risk of contracting diarrhoea by 47 per cent. Handwashing with soap is also considered cost effective worldwide in reducing diseases. Despite all these interventions, I believe behavioural change is critical. I would therefore, Mr Speaker, urge the Hon Minister for Sanitation and Water Resources to partner with various stakeholders to disseminate information about the importance of washing hands with soap and water so that it would get to our rural communities. This is very important because, the intervention is only limited to institutions, and I believe that, considering the cost effectiveness of handwashing with soap, it would be very important for the Hon Minister for Sanitation and Water Resources to actually partner with various stakeholders to disseminate the information across the country, particularly our rural communities as it has been mentioned where water is very critical. Most of our communities lack good drinking water. You can even see some communities drink water with animals. I believe it is very important that the Hon Minister for Sanitation and Water Resources takes up a critical step in providing water across board.
Thank you once again.
I would give the last one here. We have gone from the centre to the north. I will come to the beach side so, Hon Member for Ellembelle.
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to contribute to the Statement ably made by the Hon Minister for Sanitation and Water Resources. Mr Speaker, this is a very important Statement and I would want to thank the Hon Minister for it. Mr Speaker, before I start, let me note that, the Hon Minister, in his demonstration, used a paper towel. Mr Speaker, I represent people in rural communities who do not have access to that paper towel that he has. I expected the Hon Minister to have come with a clean rag. That is what so many Ghanaians use; not that paper towel. Quite frankly, he also used a bucket. I do not know how to describe what is there, whether it is -- What is it? I believe the Hon Minister, in the future, needs to come properly with the items that represent mainstream Ghana. Mr Speaker, this is very important. It is an area that quite frankly is very challenging. I listened to the statistics. Over 70 per cent of Ghanaians do not wash their hands properly at the right times, and in rural communities, they end up with diseases that kill so many Ghanaians. Anytime it happens, Mr Speaker, there is no access to clinics or Community- based Health Planning Services (CHPS) centres. We made efforts in the past years to increase access to health facilities, especially CHPS centres, and to make sure that in these rural areas, we have nurses who would be readily available to help rural people from dying from simple diseases that should not kill them. Mr Speaker, it is very unfortunate we have to state, as we talk about this today. This year alone, the number of nurses we are training have been reduced by one thousand six hundred (1600) -- [Hear! Hear!!]-- [Interruption.] And I ask the question, what is the rationale behind the policy? I understand that the quota system now -- [Interruption]-- Mr Speaker, I think I would go back to the CHPS Centres' importance, and the need for nurses to prevent the rural folks from dying from simple diseases due to failure to wash their hands. [Interruption.]
Hon Member for Elembelle, please, hold on. Hon Deputy Majority Leader?
On a point of order. Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I want to evoke Order 93 (4) of our Standing Orders. And with your permission, I read: “The speech of a Member must have reference to the subject matter under discussion”
Hon Member, kindly keep to the text. It is a rule that you do not bring matters that would generate debate.
Thank you. Mr Speaker, I think what we are talking about is effective handwashing to prevent diseases, so that we do not end up in clinics and hospitals. I speak from the perspective of the rural folks, and what I said was that, in those rural areas, we do not have nurses. It is very connected. I said that this year, the intake of nurses has been cut by about 1,600. It would have impact; that was what I said. Mr Speaker, but let me move to another point -- [Interruption] -- Mr Speaker, in his presentation, the Hon Minister also talked about facilities in households to basically help us to wash our hands. He talked about twenty-nine per cent (29%) of households who do not have access to these facilities. I think as a country, we need to do more and bring old-fashioned approaches to help us to wash our hands at the right times. The example that was given by the Hon Member -- Schools where we have water ready for handwashing after break -- is very important. Mr Speaker, there is another important point. This has to do with our tradition and our way of doing things and how they sometimes conflict with exactly the topic we are discussing. Mr Speaker, can you imagine eating fufu without your hands? Mr Speaker, I personally would not feel it, but it is important that as we engage in all these activities, which I believe is our way of doing things, we must wash our hands so that we can prevent diseases. We must also, as Hon Members of Parliament, take this campaign on. I think I welcome the Hon Minister's call for us to preach across the country, the need and importance of handwashing to make sure that we prevent diseases that are really avoidable. Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity.
Hon Member for Effutu, you can make the last contribution before I come to the Leaders.
Hon Member, let me tell you what my grand uncle said when we asked him why he would eat without washing the hands with soap. He said that, it is because if you finished and you do not wash your hands, pepper would go into your eyes. [Laughter.]
You are the Board Chairman.
Hon Member, kindly return to the subject matter, handwashing. [Laughter.]
I do not have any such principle. Kindly stay with the topic.
Hon Member, you are out of order.
Hon Member, you are out of order. [Interruption].
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I thought that since Hon Afenyo-Markin mentioned Hon Buah's name, Hon Buah would have been given the opportunity to also recollect if it was true that he washed only one hand and whether or not Hon Afenyo-Markin even washed a single hand. Mr Speaker, the Statement is a very important one and I commend the Hon Minister for drawing our attention to today, being a very important day, and the essence of the washing of hands. In all the remarks, we keep hearing emphasis on washing hands before and after eating. I think that to make it very effective, we should wash our hands anytime we get home or move into our offices. Once we have gone out, because of our relationship with the people in our communities as Hon Members of Parliament, we would naturally shake hands with so many people even before we get to the office.
The best practice is that each time we get the opportunity, whether we are going to the loo or entering our offices, it is best we wash our hands. This is so that we keep that as a culture. For us as politicians, when we leave our homes, by the time we get to Parliament, people are already at the front door and naturally, we would have to extend a hand to them. With the greatest respect, some may or may not have washed their hands or bathed. So, it is important that as Members of Parliament, even as we move from the Chamber to our offices, the first thing is to ensure that we wash our hands. We need to encourage that. Mr Speaker, my only concern is whether the demonstration the Hon Minister made was relevant, especially being done in the Chamber. This is because we need to also be mindful about the kind of precedence that we set as a House. Tomorrow, another person could say they want to come and demonstrate something. I wish the Hon Minister would listen to what I am saying. When it came to demonstrating -- and I challenge that they play the video of what he did on the big screen -- I am sure he washed his hands wrongly. The best way to wash your hands is to remove your wristwatch. This is because the washing of the hands should get to the wrists and go through the fingers. Unfortunately, the Hon Minister had his wristwatch on and washed only the fingers. He did not wash his hands to the wrists. So, while the veronica bucket -- When it is needed in schools and other areas, he decided to mount it here. When he was to demonstrate, he did it so wrongly because he only washed his fingers instead of washing them up to the wrists. If you meet any medical officer and those who really know how the hands should be washed, they would tell you that you cannot just pretend to wash your hands when you are washing your fingers. It has to go up to your wrists and the Hon Minister had his wristwatch on. He was just washing his fingers and pretending that he was washing his hands. When you wash, once the soap is on, you are supposed to use your fingernails to scratch the palms, both right and left. [Laughter.] That is how you would get all the dirt out. The Hon Minister instead just rubbed in some soap and then he washed his fingers without -- [Interruption].
Yes, Hon Deputy Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. If you look at the Statement, the caption on the Order Paper is “to mark the UN Global Hand Washing Day”. Mr Speaker, it says “Hand Washing Day”. So, literally, the Hon Minister came to this House to wash his hands and not his wrists. The submission being made by the Hon Minority Chief Whip to the effect that the Hon Minister washed his hands wrongly because he did not get to the wrists, is neither here nor there. He was not here to wash his wrists, so he did not need to take his wristwatch off.
Hon Deputy Majority Leader, I thought that you would have your chance.
Mr Speaker, if we allow him to go on, it would be an indictment on the Hon Minister, that he came to this House to carry out a business and the business was to read a Statement on Hand Washing Day and thereafter, demonstrate how to wash hands. As far as we are concerned, he washed his hands and not his wrists. If the Hon Minority Chief Whip wants to come to this House and make a Statement on how to wash our wrists, he is welcome. But the Hon Minister definitely did not come here to wash his wrists.
I think that the Hon Minority Chief Whip is entitled to make his observation of what he saw, so I would not rule him out of order. The Hon Minister would conclude at the end of it all.
Hon Member, I have ruled that you are not out of order, so, please conclude.
Hon Deputy Majority Leader, now, you may have your chance. Ms Sarah Adwoa Safo (Hon Deputy
Mr Speaker, I would want to commend the Hon Minister for making such an important Statement on the floor. Mr Speaker, I believe if we were to teach people and our children how to properly wash their hands, doing a visual demonstration is the way to go. I did not see anything wrong with the Hon Minister's demonstration when he tried to show how we should wash our hands. Mr Speaker, indeed, I would want to state that if the Hon Minority Chief Whip now professes to be the expert in hand and wrist washing, he should say so and put it on record as such. Mr Speaker, there was supposed to be another basin for Hon Leaders to also wash their hands. At the pre-sitting meeting, the Hon Deputy Minority Chief Whip was one of those who said we should not even start that initiation. Probably, if he had allowed it, he would have washed his hands better than the Hon Minister, if he claimed that was the way to go. Indeed, he said he would not allow that and that was why we had only one basin for the Hon Minister, who did so ably to the satisfaction of all Hon Members and people in the Public Gallery. Mr Speaker, the saying goes that cleanliness is next to godliness and indeed, we should instil that in our children. Charity also begins at home so, if we instill that value in our children, I believe that when they grow up, they would not depart from it as the Scripture says. We should encourage all our teachers and parents at home to also teach their children to wash their hands not only when they are going to eat or attend to nature's call, but indeed, when they have gone to places where they believe that the hand has been in a lot of activities. To quote Hon Sampson Ahi, he said “the hands have been used for a lot of activities” -- whatever activities they are are best known to him. He said the hand could be used for a lot of activities. Mr Speaker, we should encourage all and sundry to wash their hands and wash it properly. Mr Speaker, in concluding, I believe that there is a particular group of people who should also be taught how to wash their hands and this group is our market women; the education and demonstration should go down very well to them. This is because they are in the market, they sell food stuffs and we buy these food stuffs into our homes. Indeed, if their hands are not clean, we would also buy unclean food stuff home. If we educate them on how to wash their hands, and not merely by washing with water, but also with soap when they have done other things that they believe should not go immediately into the handling of food, then we would make a lot of progress. Cholera, typhoid fever and all that would go down. Mr Speaker, I would want to thank the Hon Minister, who has also indicated to me to put on record and to let Hon Members know that we have the same kind of basin mini water tank at the Lobby. So, Hon Members are encouraged to go there and show their patriotism in promoting the cause of washing our hands properly. Mr Speaker, on this note, I would want to thank the Hon Minister and urge Hon Members to support this very good initiative.
Hon Minister, would you want to conclude? If you would want to, I would make a small comment and after that you could conclude. Hon Members, I would want to share an observation which a research group on “washing hands and providing basins for washing hands” made. It was the research team leader who told me. He said that Unilever Ghana hired them to set up hand wash basins at public places of convenience at the Agbogbloshie Market and to observe how it would be used. The observation was interesting. When people used the public places of convenience and they saw the hand washing basin, the first thing they did was to scoop the running water with their hands and drank it before they even thought of washing with the soap that was provided. The lesson is, bad habits die hard. So, while we have talked about the provision of clean water and basins, we should also target habits that have lived with us for many years. Otherwise, the investment we put in water advertisement, washing basins and so on, may in the end not attain the results we aim at. Hon Members, this is the observation I would want to share. Hon Minister, you may conclude.
Mr Speaker, I would want to express my appreciation to Hon Colleagues for the interest that they have shown in this matter. It has encouraged me to believe that they would all take it up seriously and would send the message across their respective constituencies and help to propagate the message. Mr Speaker, I would want to add that, I was not here to undertake an ablution, but I was here to do hand washing and basically, what I did was to push my wrist watch up a little further and to wash the entire hand. I did what I could to even wash between my finger nails, the fingers and all that. I believe the Hon Deputy Minority Chief Whip did not watch and I would want to rectify that matter. Indeed, if he were to demonstrate here himself, we would have seen whether he could have done it well or not. Mr Speaker, finally, I would like to bring to the notice of Hon Colleagues that the demonstrations we have in the Foyer and behind the desk of the Rt Hon Speaker are examples of the hand washing devices that we can deploy in our respective constituencies; whether schools, clinics, houses, et cetera. There are examples of toilet facilities that the Ministry intends to deploy in the various districts throughout the country. We encourage Hon Members to patronise those facilities, and we would like to partner with Hon Colleagues to ensure that we would do well to bring an end to free open defecation in the country.
Hon Members, that is the end of the Statements, demonstrations, absolutions, et cetera. At the Commencement of Public Business — Item numbered 5. Hon Deputy Majority Leader, are there any Papers to be presented?
Mr Speaker, respectfully, we can lay the Papers that have been listed as items numbered 5(a) and (b). For item numbered 5(a), I would seek your permission to lay it for and on behalf of the Hon Majority Leader while the Hon Chairman of the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs would do the item numbered 5(b).
Very well, item numbered 5(a) —
Can we take item numbered 6?
Mr Speaker, respectfully, we can step items numbered 6 and 7 down and then take item numbered 8, which is the Middle Belt Development Authority Bill, 2017.
Item numbered 8 — Middle Belt Development Authority Bill, 2017, at the Consideration Stage — BILLS — CONSIDERATION STAGE Middle Belt Development Authority Bill, 2017
Mr Speaker, earlier, we proposed an amendment to insert “State Property and Contracts Act, 1960 (CA 6)” within subclause (3), line 3, but I seek to withdraw that proposed amendment. The reason is that the said Act (CA 6) had been repealed and therefore, we have to leave it the way it is having amended it earlier by the insertion, subclause (3) should now read: “Where there is a hindrance to the acquisition of property, the property may be acquired for the Authority under the State Lands Act, 1962 (Act 125) and the cost shall be borne by the Authority.”
Hon Chairman, so, are you withdrawing the proposed amendment in clause 1?
Mr Speaker, the proposed amendment was to delete subclause (3), but I seek to withdraw that as well. So, we must leave the subclause (3).
Mr Speaker, this is just to remind you that the Questions on clauses 1, 2 and 3 were not put. So, if we could have them put, we can proceed to clause 4.
Hon Chairman, is it on the Establishment of the Authority — clause 1 — that the Question has not been put? Hon Chairman, I want to be guided.
Mr Speaker, there had been various previous amendments of clause 1 — [Pause.] Clauses 1 to 3 as variously amended ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Hon Members, clause 4.
Mr Speaker, I wish to withdraw the amendment to clause 4 under item numbered 8 (ii), and leave it as it is under subclause (3).
Very well. Is that item numbered 8(ii)?
Mr Speaker, that is so.
Item 8 (iii) then.
Mr Speaker, after a careful consideration, I wish to withdraw the proposed amendment numbered 3 as well and leave that clause as it is per the original text. The original text of clause 4 (3) would read: “The President shall in appointing a member of the Board have regard to fair representation among the Middle Belt Development Zone”. Thank you.
Mr Speaker, there had been a lengthy discussion and debate on this, and we came to the conclusion that we must leave it as per the original text. Thank you.
Cheremeh — rose
Yes, Hon Majority Chief Whip?
Mr Speaker, the concern of the Hon Minority Chief Whip is already addressed in clause 4 (1) (h) where we have three persons, “at least one of whom is a woman”. So, that is already guaranteed.
Very well. Question put and amendment agreed to. Clause 4 ordered to stand part of the Bill. Clause 5 -- Hon Chairman of the Committee?
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 5, subclause (2), paragraph (d), delete and insert “implement the recommendations of the Auditor-General and take the necessary action”.
Any seconder? [Pause.] Hon Chairman of the Committee, where are the members of your Committee? Anybody to second the amendment? Mr Agbodza — rose --
Mr Speaker, I believe this is in accordance with what we did in the past. This was exactly what we did with the Northern Development Authority Bill, 2017. So, that rendition is actually acceptable. Thank you.
Hon Member, so, do you second the amendment?
Yes, Mr Speaker.
Very well. I will put the Question. Question put and amendment agreed to. Clause 5 -- Hon Chairman of the Committee?
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 5, subclause (2), paragraph (f), lines 1 and 2, delete “as determined by the Minister”.
“Without limiting subsection (1) the Board shall f) conduct reviews of its policies and strategies”. Thank you.
Mr Speaker, as we did with the earlier Bill, there was a consensus in this House as to the proposed amendment -- clause 5 (1) (f) --where the issue was raised whether the Board could actually come out with strategies. So, the issue was that we should delete “strategies” and maintain “policies”. Mr Speaker, unless we have abandoned that, that was what we did in the earlier Bills that we worked on. It is because the functions of the Board are more on “policy”, and they thought “strategy” was more of administrative work. So, we agreed to further delete the words “and strategies”; I beg to move.
Hon Deputy Majority Leader, there is already an amendment moved, unless you seek to amend the amendment before the House -- Dr Donkor — rose --
Yes, Hon Member?
Mr Speaker, we agreed that we should leave the construction at “the Board” and therefore delete “the Minister”. Every Board has a responsibility for strategy as well; so as long as we delete “by the Minister”, it stands correct. That is the reason the Hon Chairman of the Committee is moving that we delete “the Minister”. Thank you.
Mr Speaker, so, I repeat the new rendition to be: “without limiting subsection (1), the Board shall, f) conduct reviews of its policies and strategies”. Thank you. Question put and amendment agreed to. Clause 5 as amended ordered to stand part of the Bill. Clauses 6 and 7 ordered to stand part of the Bill. Clause 8 -- Meetings of members of the Board.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 8, subclause (3), line 1, delete “eight” and insert “seven”.
“The quorum at a meeting of the Board is seven members of the Board or a greater number determined by the Board.” I thank you.
Mr Speaker, I believe this issue came up before, and the view was that if we want seven members to form a quorum, it should be so; that the Board should not usurp any powers to determine what a quorum is at a meeting. I believe we agreed on that when we considered the Northern Development Authority Bill, 2017.
Yes, Hon Member, let me hear you.
Mr Speaker, I support the amendment but also want to go further to replicate what we did with the Northern Development Authority Bill, 2017, that, the amendment should end at, ‘membership' and delete the portion that enables the Board at a meeting to determine quorum. That was what we did with the Northern Development Authority Bill, 2017.
Mr Speaker, I just would want to be clearer --
Hon Chairman of the Committee, I would want to hear the Hon Member for Effutu before I come to you.
Mr Speaker, I believe it is a very good proposal and I associate myself with the amendment. So, the new proposed amendment is to delete the words at subclause 3 or “a greater number determined by the Board in respect of a particular matter”. So, the new rendition will be: “The quorum at a meeting of the Board is seven members of the Board.”
Yes, let me be clear and then I come to you. Hon Member, subclause 3, do you want to delete “eight” and insert “seven”? Then, on line 2, we put a full stop after “Board” and delete all the words thereafter. [Interruption.] Is that the proposed amendment? [Interruption.] Very well. Now, Hon Member for Okaikoi Central?
Mr Speaker, the quorum has to be determined like the Hon Chairman of the Committee rightly said, but I am not happy with how it was couched.
“The quorum at a meeting of the Board shall be seven members.” They are saying: “The quorum at a meeting of the Board is seven members.” Mr Speaker, I believe it has to be mandatory on the Board. The quorum “shall be” and not, “is” seven members.
Mr Speaker, the sponsors of the Bill proposed a quorum of eight members. The Committee reduced it to seven, and I believe seven is a good number.
Mr Speaker, respectfully, this argument and proposition were raised when we dealt with the two previous Bills, and I believe that the sense of the House was to the effect that a proposed amendment by the Hon Chairman of the Committee to maintain seven rather than eight runs through the previous ones. Mr Speaker, I will beg of you that we do not keep retrogressing but rather progressing. Again, the issue raised by the Hon Member for Okaikoi Central on clause 8 (3) was that “shall be” should replace, “is”. Mr Speaker, the modern way of drafting is in the imperative. We say what it is. So, I believe we should also maintain “is” as it is, so that we can make progress.
Mr Speaker, I believe the issue raised by the Hon Member for Okaikoi Central has been answered by the Hon Deputy Majority Leader and I will go by that. On the quorum being seven out of 13, the Hon Member for Effutu compares that with the Assemblies; but if we look at the members of the Board, these are specialised areas and I am of the view that sponsors of the Bill have a reason why they proposed eight out of 13. The Committee in its wisdom has brought it to seven. So, we would want to maintain the seven. I am not persuaded by 30 per cent of the Board members forming the quorum. Therefore, I finally move, that the new rendition should read: “The quorum at a meeting of the Board is seven members of the Board.”
Mr Speaker, I would want to take us to clause 8 (3) on the proposal by the Hon Member for Okaikoi Central. He talks about replacing “is” with “shall be”, which sounds more elegant. [Uproar.] Mr Speaker, I believe that it is -- [Interruption.] All right, sorry.
Hon Member, I believe the debate is over. Question put and amendment agreed to.
Hon Chairman of the Committee, item numbered (vii)?
Mr Speaker, from what we have done, the item numbered (vii) in my view, would fall. If I may go on to item numbered viii -- [Interruption] -- This is because it has fallen. So, if I may proceed with the next item. [Interruption.] Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 8, subclause (4), line 2, after “Board” insert “other than the Chief Executive Officer.” So, the new rendition would be: “The Chairperson shall preside at meetings of the Board and in the absence of the Chairperson a member of the Board other than the Chief Executive Officer elected by the members from among their number shall preside.” Question put and amendment agreed to.
Mr Speaker, I humbly crave your indulgence to take us back to clause 8 (3). I raised an issue, but I was prompted that --
Hon Member, the issue had been raised and already dealt with. The modern way of legislating is using the present “is” rather than “shall be”. It is the new style. Clause 8 as variously amended ordered to stand part of the Bill. Clause 9 ordered to stand part of the Bill. Clause 10 -- Establishment of committees.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 10, subclause (1), delete and insert the following: “the Board may establish committees consisting of members of the Board and non-members to perform a function of the Board”.
Mr Speaker, I moved that subclause (1) should be deleted and the following words should be inserted: “the Board may establish committees consisting of members of the Board and non-members to perform a function of the Board.”
Mr Speaker, I believe that the rendition that has been put forward by the Hon Chairman is what we did to the Northern Development Authority Bill, but I would want us to look at something. Mr Speaker, this Bill says that any time the Board sets up a committee, a member of the Board is mandated to be part of the committee. Mr Speaker, so, is it necessary to say that when a committee is formed it must I am not against the proposition, but I am just asking if it is necessary to repeat it. If it is for emphasis, then that is all right; but I am not entirely for it.
Mr Speaker, I would associate myself with what the Hon Member for Adaklu said. This is because the particular issue in question has already been dealt with in clause 8. [Interruption.] It has been dealt with. Mr Speaker, for his suggestion, I would also concur that we leave it at “Board Chairman or any other member”.
Which clause are you contributing to?
Mr Speaker, the clause in question is Clause 10, and the suggestion is that: “A committee of the Board shall be chaired by a member of the Board.” Mr Speaker, I said that the issue had already been dealt with in clause 8, which says: “line 2, after “Board”, insert “other than the Chief Executive Officer”. Mr Speaker, so, it is repetitive. He cannot be shouting from a sedentary position.
Hon Member, clause 10 is establishing sub- committees of the Board, and it says that a sub-committee may be composed of members and non-members. That is all. So, it is not about chairmanship. Question put and amendment agreed to.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 10 -- Add the following new subclause: “(3) A committee of the Board shall be chaired by a member of the Board”. Mr Speaker, it should be subclause (3) instead of (2) as advertised on the Order Paper.
Leave the numbering out. The Table Office and the Attorney-General's Office would determine which number it should be.
Mr Speaker, I support the Hon Chairman on this amendment. This came up when there was a debate on who could chair a committee. So, Hon Members wanted to know explicitly who could chair a committee. So, I believe that this clause is a good one. Question put and amendment agreed to. Clause 10 as variously amended ordered to stand part of the Bill. Clauses 11, 12 and 13 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Clause 14, proposed amendment.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 14, subclause (2), line 3, delete “from” and insert “of”.
“The Chief Executive Officer may delegate the function to an officer of the Authority who is not below the rank of a Director but shall not be relieved of ultimate responsibility for the performance of the delegated function.” Question put and amendment agreed to.
I do not think there is any confusion. Once the Chief Executive is appointed, he becomes a member of the Board; he is an ex officio member, so he does not need to be appointed again. He is only a member of the Board by virtue of being the Chief Executive Officer. He is not appointed under two separate clauses of the Constitution.
Mr Speaker, I am glad my Hon Colleague realised that he was saying the right thing at the wrong time. This is because the Question has been put on that and if he wants to say anything, then it must be at the Second Consideration Stage.
The Question was put and the Motion was carried, so we will proceed. Did I put the Question on the whole of clause 14?
Very well. Then item numbered (xii) -- Clause 15. Clause 15 -- Secretary to the Board.
Mr Speaker, I am sorry to take you back to clause 14. You put the Question on the amendment proposed, which is clause 14(2), but you have not put the Question on the entire clause 14. [Interruption.] He put the Question on the entire clause 14.
Mr Speaker put the Question and even before he moved to clause 15, he enquired and I confirmed that he put the Question.
Hon Member, out of abundance of caution, I will put the Question on the entire clause again. Question put and amendment agreed to. Clause 14 as amended ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 15, subclause (2), paragraph (b), delete and insert “(b) perform such other functions that the Board may in writing direct”.
Mr Speaker, I beg to support the amendment. I feel it is in the right direction. It is appropriate that the secretary takes instruction from the appointing authority otherwise, there will be conflicting issues on the Board. [Hear! Hear!] Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Hon Minority Chief Whip, did you want to make a comment?
Thank you, Mr Speaker. [Interruption.] -- No, she has not confused me. Mr Speaker, I worry when we qualify “perform such other functions that the Board may…” with “in writing”. Usually, the Secretary to the Board sits in the Board meeting and whatever discussion is done and decision taken are in the minutes. So, if they say, “…in writing”, who will write? Is it the Board chairman or the secretary who will write the letter addressed to himself? Let us be careful. Mr Speaker, I think that it should be just “perform such other functions as the Board may direct” and it is covered. This is because we are talking about the secretary to the Board, who will normally write on behalf of the Board. He or she is seated in the Board meeting. Now, we are saying that, if the Board wants the secretary to perform any other function, they must do it in writing. It is the secretary who does most of the writing. So, I think that the minutes that will be carried is adequate as a reference document as to what the Board has asked the secretary to do. We do not need to add “… in writing.” Thank you very much, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, I disagree with the Hon Minority Chief Whip. Mr Speaker, the Board has, under clause 10 the establishment of sub- committees. Subcommittees of the Board can take certain decisions and the entire Board can instruct the secretary, who may not be a part to the decision of that subcommittee. So, it dovetails into the amendment that the Hon Chairman of the Committee has moved. It sits right with the Bill that we are considering.
Mr Speaker, I stand to support the Hon Minority Chief Whip along the lines that at a Board meeting, deliberations are taken over by the secretary to other committees and to other members. Mr Speaker, when deliberations are agreed upon at a Board meeting, we do not necessarily have to write them before actions are taken on them. In this particular
instance, the secretary would have to act on the deliberations that have been concluded at the Board meeting, and not necessarily that it has to be written to the secretary before he takes the necessary actions. Mr Speaker, thank you for the contribution.
Mr Speaker, thank you. Mr Speaker, what informed this decision when we were deliberating on this amendment was the fact that the appointment letter of a Board Secretary would normally set out his roles and responsibilities, and therefore, if some other responsibility is being added, other than what is contained in the appointment letter, then that should also be in writing. This was what informed our decision at Koforidua, but I would go with whatever Mr Speaker decides.
Mr Speaker, I thank you. Mr Speaker, I would like to take you to clause 15 (2), even though we are dealing with clause 15 (2b).
“The Secretary shall, subject to the directions of the Board, (a) Arrange the business for the meetings of the Board and cause minutes of proceedings of the Board to be recorded and kept, and (b) Perform other function that the Board may in writing direct or as the Chief Executive Officer may in writing delegate.” Mr Speaker, why are we now saying in subclause (2) that “the Secretary shall, subject to the directions of the Board in writing…?” Why did we not say that in the beginning? Mr Speaker, if the opening statement says that; “the Secretary shall, subject to the directions of the Board…”, then that is sufficient. It goes on to say: “ Arrange the business for the meetings of the Board…” and then (d) Perform any other function that might be given to him by the Board Finished”.
Mr Speaker, this is an interesting debate, but we receive communications from Cabinet on decisions on Cabinet. Mr Speaker, for instance, Cabinet approves of a loan agreement, and the secretary for Cabinet sits in Cabinet, but the secretary -- we are talking about the functions of a secretary -- communicates that decision to this Parliament in writing. It is not an outside body. Mr Speaker, therefore we are talking about a secretary, who sits in a Board meeting, communicating other decisions of the Board to any other body that the Board is instructing to perform a certain function. So, I do not see anything wrong with a secretary being instructed to put everything in writing.
Hon Members, I have heard all there is to be heard, but from my experience in corporate practice, something may be an assigned responsibility, and one may be employed to do abcd e. If a person is given any other assignment, then it is appropriate that it is communicated for the record, that for this additional responsibility, the Board has assigned a person to do a, b, c. It is even appropriate that at Board meetings whiles a person sits in, when a decision is taken that involves him, he also writes a memo to their Chief Executive, confirming that the Board has referred to this and that, and so through that decision, the secretary is assigned to do a, b, c, d, so that the Board could confirm for the record to be complete. This is because if I am asked to provide my authority, then would I now bring the Board's minutes to come and peruse through it to say that at that meeting, this or that decision was taken -- that would be cumbersome, so arising out of the Board, decisions that are taken, if it gives additional responsibility to the secretary outside of his regular responsibility, then it is appropriate that it is communicated by the Chief Executive to the secretary. Therefore, I believe it is appropriate. My only proposal is that what it says in subclause (b), which says: “Perform any other function that…” I believe the regular or the appropriate word should have been: “…as the Board may in writing direct…,” instead of “…that the Board may in writing direct…” Yes, Hon Chairman? Is the modern one “that”?
Mr Speaker, except that we would want to seek -- I am not sure if the “as” would conform to the modern style of drafting, otherwise --
“(b) Perform such other functions as the Board may in writing direct…”
I believe that would be all right, so, you should please move the amendment.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 15, subclause (2), paragraph (b), delete and insert “(b) perform such other functions as the Board may in writing direct”. Question put and amendment agreed to.
Hon Members, the Hon Second Deputy Speaker shall take the Chair. Clause 15 as amended ordered to stand part of the Bill. Hon Members, I would take clauses 16 and 17. Clauses 16 and 17 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
I believe this is a policy issue and it is the policy of the Authority sponsoring the Bill that we use existing public service structures to support the new one. Hon Kwabena Donkor, you wanted to comment?
Yes, Mr Speaker.
Very well, you may proceed.
Mr Speaker, when other public officers are seconded to a new organisation, they are still given the appropriate appointment letter by the new organisation. That is why.
Mr Speaker, my Hon Colleague, Hon Afenyo-Markin, made reference to other laws in talking about consistency. I would have imagined that he would even have given us an example.
Very well. I will leave it to the Committee. There are examples in other legislations. If you would want to propose a further amendment to oppose this fine, but I would not recommend it. Why should we bring other people if there is opportunity to reduce the number of unemployed youth? The Question was to be put on clause 18 when the Hon Member intervened, so I will go back to it. Question put and amendment agreed to. Clause 18 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
While still waiting for the Second Deputy Speaker, we will continue at clause 19. Clause 19-- Funds of the Authority.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, That clause 19 paragraph (b), line 1, delete “from” and insert “allocated for”, and in line 2, delete “Project” and insert “Programme”. So the new rendition would be: “The funds of the Authority shall include (b) moneys allocated for the Infrastructure for Poverty Eradication Programme.”
I am sorry, it is not clear to me. We are amending paragraph (b) line 1. Is that right?
That is so, paragraph (b), lines 1 and 2. In line 1, the proposal is to delete the word “from” and then we insert “allocated for” and then delete the word “Project” in line 2 and insert “Programme”. So, it would be: “moneys allocated for the Infrastructure for Poverty Eradication Programme”.
Mr Speaker, I believe the amendment fits the narrative alright but there is something missing. If we look at paragraph (a), “moneys approved by Parliament” we know the source of that money. Paragraph (b) “moneys allocated for Infrastructure for Poverty Eradication Programme”; what is the source of that money? Where is the allocation coming from? It is missing. We do not know where that allocation is coming from. Is it an allocation from the budget?
It is not here. If it is from the budget, then let the sentence be concluded to show the source of that allocation. If we say, “moneys allocated for Infrastructure and Poverty Eradication Programme”, it is implied. Somebody can interpret it differently. So why do we not complete as “allocated from the budget”
Mr Speaker, I tend to disagree with the Hon Deputy Minority Leader and again, to remind him that we have gone through the whole debate and it is repetitive in all the laws. Such amendment, if my memory serves me right, was actually proposed by the Hon Minority Leader before he left. Mr Speaker, if we reiterate the fact that an allocation is made for that programme, it is imperative and it is implied that such allocation, he knows, from that source. Mr Speaker, the Hon Minority Leader then was not happy with restricting it to a project and thought that it is a whole programme that an allocation is made for and we did that insertion. So, it is repetitive in all the ones that we did earlier. I believe last week, he was busy in doing other things and was not in the House so he probably has lost out on a number of the debates that informed this amendment. So, Mr Speaker, I beg of him, he should not drag us back; we are going forward.
Mr Speaker, it is true that last week I was not here. I was actually somewhere working for the Parliament of Ghana. Mr Speaker, if I were here last week, I would have made the same argument on the Northern Development Authority Bill, 2017. If we look at all the items here, we know where the moneys would come from
to the Authority. But for paragraph (b), we do not know the source and she says we should leave it, and that it is implied? Are we going to make a law that we say it is implied? For paragraph (a), we know that it is an allocation by Parliament and we know money approved by Parliament is from the Budget. It says, “moneys allocated for Infrastructure for Poverty Eradication Pro- gramme”. I do not have any problem with that but what is the source of that allocation. It is simple. Let us add the source. If it comes from the Budget, let us add it then it is clear.
Propose an amendment.
If you agree with me, I will propose an amendment.
Then kindly return to the matter. 3. 10 p. m.
Hon Deputy Minority Leader, if you look behind you, you would see that some of your Colleague Hon Members want to contribute.
Mr Speaker, because it is my issue that is on the Floor and I want to respond to Hon Afenyo-Markin about me not including him when I am travelling. Mr Speaker your goodself knows that I do not take decisions on matters of that nature. So, I would want him to discard of that and I want the whole world to know that, that accusation is not a good accusation.
Hon Member for Adaklu?
Mr Speaker, thank you very much. I think I am all right with the proposed amendment. This is simply because the Infrastructure for Poverty Eradication Programme is not yet a generally “ known policy. If we can further amend this to read; ‘moneys allocated for the Infrastructure for Poverty Eradication Programme as approved by Parliament', I think that would have captured what the Hon Deputy Minority Leader is saying. I am surprised my good Friend, who proposed two amendments this morning, which suggested that, there is nothing wrong with it if we make things more explicit is now saying that we should have that clause implied. I think there is nothing wrong, once the Infrastructure for Poverty Eradication Programme would be approved by this House, if we conclude that statement by saying, ‘as approved by Parliament'. It would not take anything away from us because I am sure that although that programme is not yet known, it would surely be approved by this House. So, it would not be a problem.
Hon Members, how long are we going to debate this matter? Let us make progress. If you can reach consensus and you want to defer it fine. Otherwise, Hon Chairman, let me hear the final word from you.
Mr Speaker, I would want to repeat the proposed amendment that I made earlier, after the long debate, save to add that subclause (a) is ‘moneys approved by Parliament'. So, if we have to add “as approved by Parliament”, I think that would be a repetition. Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that the proposed amendment to clause 19, paragraph (b), should now be “moneys allocated for the Infrastructure for Poverty Eradication Programme”. Thank you. Question put and amendment agreed to.
Mr Second Deputy Speaker would take the Chair. 3. 15 p. m. --
[MR SECOND DEPUTY SPEAKER IN THE CHAIR.]
Yes, Hon Chairman?
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 19, paragraph (i), before “internally” insert “any other”. So, then that new caption would be; ‘the funds of the Authority shall include; (i) any other internally “ generated funds of the Authority. Thank you.
Hon Chairman, do you want to rush Mr Speaker?
Mr Speaker, sorry, I thought I was aiding Mr Speaker. May I repeat that?
Yes, please. Clause 19, right?
Yes, but the item is (xiv).
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 19, paragraph (i), before “ internally” insert “any other”. So that the new rendition would be: “The funds of the Authority shall include; (i) any other internally generated funds of the Authority”.
Thank you very much Mr Speaker. If you look at clause 19 (f), we have fees and charges due the Authority from services rendered by or through the Authority. So, my understanding is that, any other fees, charges or whatever that the Authority may generate, would fall under paragraph (f). But to go further and state that any other internally-generated fund (IGF) is my concern. Any fund that accrues to the Authority is referred to as IGF.
Yes, Hon Member for Effutu?
No, when you yield, you do not have any opportunity again.
Hon Member, let us finish with what has been moved before you propose.
Mr Speaker, in clause 19 (d), we have listed what would ordinarily be classified as internally-generated funds, which is “interests from investments made by the Authority”. We have also listed another set in Clause 19 (e); rent and others in clause 19 (f). So, we have listed three categories already. But this is also a development authority that has commercial charac- teristics. Therefore, the Committee felt that we should give that Authority some opening. For example, the Authority could provide consultancy services for a fee for a private investor who would want to come into the zone because they know the terrain. So, we thought that we should not limit them; we should give them an opening. Of course, it would go through the appropriate processes and that was why we introduced “any other”.
Hon Members, I thought that we should not have any problems with this Bill since we have passed the Northern Development Authority Bill through the Consideration Stage. They are similar authorities, so we should not have problems with this. However, if it is towards improving what we have done already and within these few days and you have got some new ideas, why not? Let us allow more debate on the issue. Hon Member for Effutu?
Let me put the Question on Clause 19 (i). The proposed amendment from the Chairman of the Committee is that insert before “internally”, the words “any other” at Clause 19 (i). Question put and amendment agreed to.
Any other proposed amendment?
Hon Member, I hope that you have discussed it with the Chairman.
Hon Member, the Chairman disagrees.
Let us hear you.
Hon Members, you have heard him loud and clear. His proposed amendment is, clause 19, line 1, delete “include” and insert “be”.
Mr Speaker, it is safe to say that the word “include” must be deleted in order to avoid ambiguity, but I did not see any ambiguity when we maintained “include”. Besides that, the items that have been listed as the sources of funding, even though there is an omnibus clause, that omnibus clause talks about the internally generated funds of the Authority. So, there could be other funds. The Hon Minister under clause 31, has the power to come and make Legislative Instruments (LI) and others. So, I think that we should maintain it as it is and that the word “include” must be there. It does not lead to any ambiguity. Thank you.
Hon Members, you have heard both of them. One is in support of an extended definition of the source of funds of the Authority. The other talked about a limited definition as has been itemised under the clause.
Mr Speaker, the way it is, if we used “include” and also, “any other internally - generated funds”, it would mean that we are still open for other sources. That other source is limited to internally - generated funds. This means that there could be other sources which would not be internally- generated funds, which would be catered for if we used “include”. However, if we used “shall be”, it would mean that we have closed it and nothing else would come.
So, are you in support of the Chairman's position? Any other contribution?
Mr Speaker, let us cast our minds back to what we are trying to do here. This is a new development authority and like Hon Dr Donkor said, the Authority might provide many other services including consultancy. It would be difficult to list every single thing that this Authority would do when they commence business. So, I support the Hon Chairman's position to use the word “include”. It is adequate and captures everything. Limiting ourselves according to the new proposal might make it quite difficult for them to operate appropriately. So, I support the provision of the Hon Chairman.
The Question is, clause 19, line 1, delete “include” and insert “be”. The line would now read: “The funds of the Authority shall be.”: Question put and amendment negatived.
Do we still have any further amendment on clause 19?
Mr Speaker, that is all on clause 19. What is there is a typographical error. The next item numbered (xv) should be clause 22. Question put and amendment agreed to Clause 19 as amended ordered to stand part of the Bill. Clauses 20 and 21 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Yes, Hon Member for Effutu?
Hon Member, it is too late in the day, and you know what to do. Go according to the Standing Orders.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 22, subclause (2), line 1, after “Minister” insert “in consultation with the Minister”.
“The Authority may, with the approval of the Minister in consultation with the Minister responsible for Finance borrow, by way of overdraft or otherwise, sums that it may require to meet its current obligations or to perform its functions”.
Mr Speaker, we all know that this “borrowing” can only be done subject to article 181 of the Constitution and the Public Financial Management Act, 2016 (Act) 921.
“The Authority may, with the approval of the Minister in consultation with the Minister responsible for Finance borrow, by way of overdraft. . .” I would want to know if that would be done in accordance with article 181? This is because it says, “borrow by way of overdraft”. Is there a way of bypassing or trying to avoid the approval procedure in taking the loan by the Authority?
“…by way of overdraft or otherwise…” I would want to know what the word “otherwise” is. What other way does the Authority borrow in consultation with the Hon Minister for Finance which would not come to Parliament for approval? Mr Speaker, the Hon Chairman of the Committee should be able to explain this very well because it looks like the subclause (2) is trying to find a way of bypassing the requirements for the approval of the loan.
Mr Speaker, recently, the Supreme Court gave a ruling, and I would furnish the House with the appropriate ruling, that certain institutions of state that have a good balance sheet could borrow to run their affairs. So, if we legislate to give an authority of this nature the power to be able to borrow, based on their strength to undertake certain activities of the institution, I do not see anything wrong with it except that, we as a House, would direct the Authority to borrow by way of an overdraft. I do not believe we would have to direct an Authority on the way to
Mr Speaker, taking a second look at it, my worry is the word “overdraft” which limits the borrowing. In corporate governance, the decision to go for an overdraft is a norm and it is a board decision. It should not really be elevated to this level if it is an ordinary overdraft. So, if we were to take out the word “overdraft”, then the subclause (2) could still stand to cover general borrowing; we could delete the word “overdraft' and then leave it as it is.
Mr Speaker, it is obvious that the arguments advanced by the Hon Deputy Minority Leader and other Hon Members sound very logical. But, seriously, if we look at the proposal by the Hon Chairman, I believe it stands appropriate and apt. This is because, clearly, borrowing is borrowing, and it would necessarily be done within the confines of our laws. Other Hon Members have talked about overdraft, but I do not really see the issue there in that, if it is an overdraft, it is also borrowing, and other means of borrowing have also been mentioned and stated as “otherwise”. So, I do not see what we should really be debating about because we have already approved it the way it is in the Northern Development Authority Bill. So, why must we now, having looked at the issues earlier and having endorsed them in this context, try to change things, which really would not border on the essence of the clause.
Hon Members, the clause is simply giving a permissive responsibility to the Authority to borrow or not to borrow. It says, “The Authority may borrow”. It is not talking about the consultation. The Authority may borrow or may not borrow. But the issue is, should we elevate overdrafts? When we are dealing with a development authority, should we elevate it to the extent that we would need a ministerial approval, instead of the corporate governance structure of the Board to just approve an overdraft? Why do we need a Minister to approve an overdraft? Also, after about overdraft” or “otherwise”, what does “Otherwise” mean?. It means that they are going beyond the issue of overdrafts to contracting loans. But now it is so wide the type of loans, and that is where the Hon Deputy Minority Leader brought in the issue of article 181. It could include, not just domestic ones, but also foreign ones. The authority to approve when we are dealing with finance, is in the Minister for Finance and not the sector Minister. Revenue assurances under us lies in the domain of the Ministry of Finance. So why is it that it is the Minister that is being called upon to give that approval if they are going outside overdrafts? So, Hon Chairman, I believe that you have to take a second view of it.
Mr Speaker, we have already dealt with this in the Northern Development Authority Bill, and so, maybe, to save time, we can flag this and proceed further. Mr Speaker, but I would have thought that the issue that the Hon Deputy Minority Leader raises is about foreign transactions in article 181; we are not legislating to oust what has been stated in the Constitution.
“This Constitution shall be the supreme law of Ghana and any other law found to be inconsistent with any provision of this Constitution shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, be void.” So if we are dealing with local approval fine, but so far as foreign ones would come in, then it would be subject to the Constitution. Then the other argument about “overdraft” and “otherwise” if I may read again, it says: “The Authority may with the approval of the Minister in consultation with the Minister responsible for Finance borrow, by way of overdraft or otherwise, sums that it may require to meet its current obligations or to perform its functions.” Mr Speaker, and so, the “overdraft or otherwise” is qualifying the borrowing. It is not introducing any new thing. In my view, whether we leave that by way of “overdraft or otherwise”, does not change the context, save to say that we already have that in the Northern Development Authority Bill, and if we have to drop this, then we may have to move the Northern Development Authority Bill through a Second Consideration Stage in order that the two would be consistent with each other. But the “borrow” here is expanding by way of overdraft or otherwise, and is part of borrowing. That is how I see it.
Hon Chairman, and so the issue being raised is that, the “otherwise” could include borrowing domestically or outside the precincts of Ghana.
Mr Speaker, my simple answer to that is that, going by the Constitution, which happens to be the supreme law of the land, if we have to do foreign borrowing, article 138(1) requires us to comply with article 181.
If you have to borrow domestically, the Constitution has given the process of how that could also be done. You can go through the same article 81(2) even for domestic borrowing. But let me read what we passed in the Public Financial Management Act, 2016, section 55 (1) and (2) — Government Borrowing and Debt Management. “(1) Subject to article 181 of the Constitution and this Act, the Minister has the authority to raise a loan on behalf of the Government, both within and outside the country and in local and foreign currencies. (2) The Minister shall not delegate a power granted under subsection (1) to any person.” Are you with me? That was why I raised the issue of the authority and that it should not be in the sector minister but in the Minister for Finance. And that is what this Act says. We have given the Minister for Finance the authority to do this borrowing. By that, he has no power to delegate it. So, you have to look at the clause again.
Mr Speaker, yes, it should not also be possible in good corporate governance for any authority to go directly to the Ministry of Finance, if the Ministry of Finance is not its sector Ministry, without going through its sector Ministry. Our intention is to introduce the sector Minister, so that the Authority goes to the Ministry of Finance through the sector Minister. That was the intention of the Committee in crafting this. I am sure the Committee would be happy to listen if we have any rendition, but that was the intention.
Mr Speaker, I would want to support the amendment proposed by the Hon Chairman of the Committee. But I heard you say something about loan and overdraft. Mr Speaker, the Authority may be borrowing depending on the strength of their balance sheet. If we think overdraft is just a short term borrowing and that the amount involved is so small, who knows? We have some banks with very big muscles. The Authority may have a very big balance sheet and they could take as much as GH¢2 million or GH¢3 million. So if there are no checks in place and they are allowed to take an overdraft because we are thinking that it is a short term borrowing, there would be excesses. So this amendment is going to serve as a check on the Authority. Mr Speaker, with what the Hon Afenyo-Markin said, he was just anticipating what is going to happen tomorrow. Under our laws, anticipation should not be entertained here; let us deal with the subject matter which is what is before the House now. When tomorrow comes, we will deal with matters of tomorrow. Thank you.
Hon Members, let us look at the issues clearly. The first issue is, in which of the Ministers should the authority for approval be placed? Should it be the Hon Minister for Finance or the sector Minister? The proposed amendment now is leaving that authority in the hands of the Hon Minister for the sector. That is the first thing. I read the Public Financial Management Act, 2016 to show that sector Ministers do not have that legal basis to give those approvals; it is the Hon Minister for Finance. So, we would have to relook at the clause even if we have passed it with the earlier Bills -- I do not know if the Third Reading had been taken.
Mr Speaker, I proposed earlier that clause 22 be flagged so we can do further consultations.
I am tempted to accept the proposal of the Hon Chairman of the Committee. Yes, Hon Member?
Mr Speaker, I also accept the proposal for the flagging of clause 22. But let me raise an issue on clause 22 (3) so that we all know and they take that on board as well.
“The Minister for Finance may, subject to section 66 of the Public Financial Management Act, 2016 (Act 921), provide a sovereign guarantee to the Authority to enable the Authority contract a loan or enter into a local or international economic or business transaction.” Mr Speaker, I do not have the PFM Act with me so I do not know what section 66 says. But it looks as if we are giving power to the Minister for Finance to provide sovereign guarantee. If the State is supposed to provide a guarantee for a loan, are we giving that power to the Hon Minister responsible for Finance to do that on behalf of the State? So, I am just drawing the attention of Hon Members to it. If that does not fit well, then we look at it again when we revisit clause 22. Thank you.
Hon Deputy Minority Leader, I believe your fears are allayed. The Public Financial Management Act, 2016, is very clear on that; we have granted that authority to the Hon Minister for Finance but it is subject to the prior approval by Parliament. It is in the same section 66 of the Act. The section 66 (4) says: “A government guarantee is subject to prior approval by Parliament.”-- so we are covered. Now, clause 22 (2) has accordingly been flagged and the Committee would have to relook at it. Clause 23 -- Exemption from taxes, duties, fees and other charges.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 23, subclause (1), at end add “as the Minister responsible for Finance may determine with the prior approval of Parliament”.
“The Authority is exempt from the payment of taxes, duties, fees and other charges as the Minister responsible for Finance may determine with the prior approval of Parliament”. Thank you.
Mr Speaker, the words are very clear. I am surprised that my Hon Colleague does not seem to -- The wording of the clause 23(1) talks about payment of taxes, duties, fees and other charges. So, it flows from there. The only thing we are seeking to add is what we have added earlier in the Northern Development Authority Bill, 2017, which my Hon friend was here and agreed to. The words are: “as the Minister responsible for Finance may determine with the prior approval of Parliament.” I will read through the new rendition: “The authority is exempt from the payment of taxes, duties, fees and other charges as the Minister responsible for Finance may determine with the prior approval of Parliament.” I thank you, Mr Speaker.
Hon Members, you have heard the Hon Chairman of the Committee. I believe that it does not violate the constitutional provisions, but let me listen to the Hon Deputy Minority Leader.
Mr Speaker, I would just want to find out from the Hon Chairman of the Committee if it is the position of Government that the Authority shall be granted exemptions. I ask that because, when the Hon Chairman of the Committee and his party were on our side of the House, their position was that the previous Government granted too many exemptions and that when they come to power, they would not allow exemptions; but we are passing a law now to grant an exemption to an Authority. I would want to find out from him as the Hon Chairman of the Committee, if it is the position of Government that the exemption is necessary for this Authority. I thank you, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, I would remind the Hon Deputy Minority Leader again. When he was out, we had run two Bills of similar nature and -- [Interruption] -- We are moving on, but --
Hon Deputy Majority Leader, you are addressing the Rt Hon Speaker.
Rightly so, Mr Speaker. The Hon Deputy Minority Leader should not take us into the arena of political debates and all that, unless he wants to put on record that he is against the establishment of these development Authorities, for which H.E. the President has good intentions for the people of Ghana. That is the reason we are all here. So, Mr Speaker, if Authorities of these nature; the Northern, Middle Belt and the Coastal Development Authorities are exempt from taxes for the purposes of the development of these areas, I do not believe he would be against it. I do not believe he is against development. So on that page, we can proceed. He should stop these things. We are talking about the Consideration Stage of this. So, if he has genuine concerns that he wants to place in there, we are willing to listen to him; but to go back and forth, that we promised this and that, we would never move on. I believe that, both Sides of the House agree on that there ought to be development at the doorstep of the people, and this is the way to go. So, he should not sabotage this good intention and initiative of H.E. the President.
Yes, Hon Deputy Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I am very happy that the Hon Deputy Majority Leader has confirmed that it was a necessary and a good policy that the previous Administration adopted and pursued, which she was against yesterday. Today, it has become the baby for her. We appreciate it because it is a good policy, and that was why we adopted and used it in the past. If today, she has realised that it is a good policy we welcome it. That was why I asked if it is the policy of the Government now. Something they were against yesterday; today, they are adopting it. Is it a policy for them to grant the Auhority exemptions -- [Interruption.] Yes, but she should confirm it. I thank you, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, I believe strongly that we were looking at clause 23, which had to do with exemptions. We virtually concluded on that unanimously until the Hon Afenyo-Markin, Member of Parliament for Effutu and Board Chairman of the Ghana Water Company Limited, a very big post, which he has been blessed with by H.E. Nana Akufo-Addo actually made reference to the Hon Chairman of the Committee having vehemently argued against exemptions when he was on the other Side of the House and that actually led us into this fray. So, for him to now turn around and create the impression that it is the Hon Deputy Minority Leader who is actually creating that impression is most unfortunate and very misleading. Mr Speaker, you even said that, this does not offend any law and we were about concluding on it until he generated the controversy. So, for him to turn around to demand an apology from the Hon Deputy Minority Leader is very surprising. Mr Speaker, I believe that the focus of the debate was clause 23(1), which has to do with exemptions. I would humbly request of you that you put the Question, so that we can move forward and move away from the arena of unnecessary possible political debate. I thank you, Mr Speaker.
Yes, Hon Deputy Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, Hon Afenyo- Markin said that I should provide evidence or I should prove. So, I would refer to paragraph 798 -- Review of Import Duty and Tax Exemptions on page 137 of the 2017 Budget Statement and Economic Policy. Mr Speaker, I beg to read a portion of it: “Mr Speaker, while Government's focus on reducing taxes to enhance production, we are also determined to tackle the systemic abuse in the exemptions regime. There shall be a comprehensive review of the regime on import duty exemptions and tax reliefs with a view to eliminating abuses and improving efficiency in the applications of these incentives. To this end, the review will cover, among others, the following exemptions and tax reliefs as a matter of urgency: …” Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister for Finance, in presenting the Budget Statement, said at page 137 that there is a systemic abuse of the exemption. We are passing a law, which is going to exempt an organisation from taxes. Is that not an abuse of power? Mr Speaker, that was why I asked a simple question for them to explain if that is a policy of Government on exemption. That is clear, and it is shown in the Budget Statement.
Hon Members, I believe that we have had enough. I just decided to allow you to go on because this work is very strenuous and sometimes we would need some relief, and also to allow you to test your skills of debate. If not, you all know that either the cup is half full or half empty depending on which side of the House you are. So, this would go on and not only today; I am sure it would continue when the scale changes tomorrow. According to Hon Afenyo-Markin, he does not know when. He is just quoting what those on the Minority side of the House used to say; that they did not know when my Hon Friends on the Majority side would ever be on the right side. But today, they are on the Majority Side. They are just referring to what those on the Minority Side used to say. That is partisan politics, but let us go on with the Bill. I believe that, the proposed amendment does not offend any legislation, and it does not offend the Constitution. Let us look at the principle; if it is in the interest of the Authority and the whole country, then why not; just let it go. I would put the Question because I do not see anybody -- Hon Chairman, should I proceed to put the Question?
Mr Speaker, yes. Question put and amendment agreed to.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 23, subclause (3), delete.
Hon Chairman, you have not given us the reason.
Mr Speaker, in the earlier one, we did that, and we thought that the buildings and other tenements of the Authority should not be exempted from the payment of property rates and other things. This is because the House decided that we may even have a district where the valuable properties would be govern- mental. So, if we say that they do not have
Hon Chairman, as against what we have done in clause 23 (1), why do we not leave it to be taken care of under clause 23 (1)? I am sure that you have done same with respect to the other Authorities, but I am just raising the issue. This is because clause 23 (1) states that: “the Authority is exempt from the payment of taxes, duties, fees and other charges as the Hon Minister responsible for Finance may determine with the prior approval of Parliament.” Now, you are saying that clause 23 (3) should read -- “The buildings and other tenements of the Authority shall be exempted from the payment of property and other rates levied by a local authority.” You are saying that we should delete that one and allow them to pay taxes?
Mr Speaker, the intention is to let these Authorities pay property tax. They pay insurance on their property and they pay other taxes, so why should they be exempted from property tax, which serves as a major source of revenue for the local government institutions? However, if there is a construct that would re-emphasize this, to say that they shall not be exempted, we would be ready to go for it. All we want is for them to pay taxes as paid by any other corporate body in the district, municipality or metropolis.
You are interested in generating revenue for the local units but not central Government. That is the principle.
Mr Speaker, I am not an accountant and a tax expert but reading clause 23 (1), it gives me the impression that, they are not going to pay property rate and so on. That is also a tax. So, if the intention is to actually get some money from them, then clause 23 (1) has already defeated that purpose. So we would need to take a second look at that. Mr Speaker, I believe that this is a major policy decision, and I am not sure that the Hon Chairman is supposed to do that. I would have expected that with this very important Bill, which the Hon Deputy Majority Leader has made us aware, and which is the key to the development of this country, we should have seen the Hon Minister or the Hon Deputy Minister here to guide us on this. Mr Speaker, but the Hon Minister is constantly missing in the Chamber, and she has left the whole job to the Hon Chairman, who is doing very well though, but it would have been more comfortable if the Hon Minister was here to guide us.
I believe that the Hon Minister is absent, but she is not missing. [Laughter.] If we want her, we could locate her; she is only absent. Hon Members, but I agree with that principle; if the intention is to allow the development Authorities to pay local taxes, then clause 23(1) is too broad. I thought that the explanation you would have given is that you request that we delete it to allow the Authorities and the Hon Minister to determine if at any time they would want those things to be exempted; then they would, in consultation with the Hon Minister for Finance, include them and bring them to the House for us to exempt them. If not, all taxes, duties, fees and other charges are exempt by clause 23(1). That is my understanding.
Mr Speaker, from what you have said, the amendment that was proposed for clause 23(1) had been agreed on. It means that we have added those words, “as the Hon Minister for Finance may determine” and then it would be approved by Parliament. Mr Speaker, that was what informed the House into agreeing to the fact that, for the old amendment, we would delete subclause (3) because it may not be necessary to keep it. The Hon Minister would always determine when to exempt any taxes, duties or fees.
Mr Speaker, I believe the Hon Minister for Finance has no power to exempt anybody from paying local government taxes. Under the Local Government Act, the Hon Minister for Finance is not given power. It is only the Metropolitan, Municipal or District Assemblies that can set their own taxes and exempt others. So -- [Interruption] -- heckling is not my speciality, so I would not respond. Mr Speaker, I believe we can step this down for further consultations, especially, with our friends who are lawyers, to find the appropriate drafting. Mr Speaker, when the Committee met, the Hon Minister and the Hon Majority Leader who were present agreed that, the Authority should pay property tax to the Assemblies. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Ranking Member of the Committee is on the same wavelength with me. What we have agreed on --
Mr Chairman, is the Hon Ranking Member of the Committee available? Who is the Hon Ranking Member of the Committee?
Mr Speaker, Hon Dr Kwabena Donkor is the Hon Ranking Member of the Committee.
Hon Chairman, say so; so that we know that he is the Hon Ranking Member.
Mr Speaker, together, we agreed that since we had clause 23(1), we do away with clause 23(3). I do not know whether he wants to change his mind now or not. Either than that, the proposal is that we delete the entire clause 23(3) so that if the Hon Minister does not bring anything in respect of local taxes, then the Authority must pay. But if they find it convenient to bring it, then Parliament may approve it and they would not have to pay. That is the position. Yes, Hon Member for Offinso South?
Thank you, Mr Speaker. I have followed the contributions and the debate so far about the issue whether clause 23(3) should be deleted or not.
It appears that the intention is not to exempt the Authority from the payment of property rates. If that is the intention, then the way clause 23(1) has been drafted is so certain, so definitive and so encompassing that it defeats the intention demonstrated in clause 23(3). Mr Speaker, my proposal is that, clause 23(1) has to be relooked at. This is because, if we say the ‘Authority is exempt', the “is” makes it very certain that it is exempt from the payment of taxes, duties, fees and other charges. This presupposes that the Authority is exempt even from the payment of property rate, including building charges et cetera. Mr Speaker, clause 23(1) has to be relooked at and probably drafted to capture the intention of clause 23 properly. I would like to propose, with respect to clause 23, That: “The Authority may be exempt…” Mr Speaker, “The Authority may be exempt from the payment of taxes, duties, fees and other charges …” The rest of the language may follow.
Hon Member for Offinso South, the point is well made, but the proposed amendment is a bit circumlocutious. We would have to look at it. If the intention is to allow the Authority to pay property rates, it could in clause 23(3) say, “…subject to subsection (3), the Authority is exempt...”, so when we come to subsection (3), we would then say, “The Authority shall pay property rate…” So, it is clear; it is very important. Clause 23(1) is so broad and it includes all. This is because we did not only talk about taxes and duties, fees and other charges were added. Property rates are at ports, and now, the intention is that the Authority should pay property rates because there is the need to generate revenue for the local government units, but not Central Government. Yes, Hon Chairman of the Committee?
Mr Speaker, the argument that was raised by Hon --
Yes, Hon Avedzi?
Mr Speaker, I would want to propose an amendment, which would probably settle the issue. Mr Speaker, the intention is to allow the Authority to pay levies imposed by the local government, but exempted from taxes, duties, fees and other charges imposed by the Central Government. That is the intention -- [Interruption] -- Not directly. [Interruption] -- No, I am looking at clause 23(1). It is basically those taxes and duties imposed by the Central Government that the Authority is exempt from. [Interruption] -- As we have it here -- [Interruption.]
Mr Speaker, there has been an amendment with clause 23(1), and we added the words, “…as the Minister responsible for Finance may determine with the prior approval of Parliament.” The House added these words because we agreed that is the way to go. It was that the Hon Minister for Finance would come out with a proposal and then the House would approve. So, if the Hon Minister for Finance does not come with such a proposal and the House does not approve, then there is no exemption; that is the meaning. That is why clause 23(3) must be deleted. This is because clause 23(1) is not conclusive. It says that, “…as determined by the Hon Minister responsible for Finance” and it will have to come to this House for approval. So, it means that no exemption is given, until the Hon Minister determines that and brings it to the House.
Hon Chairman, your point is well made. It was the rationale you initially gave for requesting that the House should accept that we delete clause 23 (3) that led to the debate; but as to deleting clause 23 (3), I believe that we are ad idem. It was the rationale for deletion that led to the debate. Hon Members, are we alright now? So, can I put the Question? Is it agreed upon? Question put and amendment agreed to. Clause 23 as amended ordered to stand part of the Bill. Clauses 24 and 25 ordered to stand part of the Bill Clause 26 -- Annual reports and other reports.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 26, subclause (2), paragraph (b), delete and insert the following: “(b) a performance report” Question put and amendment agreed to.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 26, subclause (2), paragraph (c), delete Question put and amendment agreed to.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 26, subclause (2), paragraph (d), delete. Question put and amendment agreed to.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 26, subclause (2), paragraph (e), delete. Question put and amendment agreed to.
Hon Member, what about paragraph (f)?
Mr Speaker, we are not deleting (f), but there is an amendment on it which I would take subsequently.
In paragraph (f), it states delete and insert. You are deleting it and inserting another thing. Have you seen it? It is on item number 8 (xxii) on the Order Paper.
Yes, Mr Speaker, would you want me to take that one now?
Very well, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 26, subclause (2), paragraph (f), sub- paragraph (iv), delete and insert the following: “the cost of projects executed by the Authority; and”.
“… the cost of project executed by the Authority…”, then it continues to paragraph “g”. Question put and amendment agreed to. Clause 26 as amended ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Clause 27. Clause 27 -- Incentives for private sector
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 27 -- Headnote, delete “for private sector”. So, the Headnote would be “Incen- tives” Question put and amendment agreed to.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 27, subclause (1), delete and insert the following: (1) The Authority may: (a) extend support to the private sector, public sector and philanthropic investments and non-profit making organisations in the Middle Belt Development Zone either alone or in cooperation with other public agencies so as to promote accelerated --
Hon Chairman of the Committee, you cannot amend as you go along because you have not corrected what is at page 7 of the Votes and Proceedings. It is there “Northern Development Zone” but I heard you say, “Middle Belt”.
Mr Speaker, that was a typographical error and that was why I corrected that by reading that “Middle Belt Development” --
You do not correct by reading because you need --
Mr Speaker, may I seek your leave to make a correction in the proposed amendment, that the first line of page 7, the last word, “Northern” be deleted for the words, “Middle Belt” to be inserted. Then paragraph (b), second line, “Northern” be deleted and the words, “Middle Belt” be inserted.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, That clause 27 -- subclause (1), delete and insert the following: (1) The Authority may (a) extend support to the private sector, public sector, philanthropic investments and non-profit making organisations in the Middle Belt Development Zone either alone or in co-operation with other public agencies so as to promote accelerated economic development; and (b) institute measures for the protection of the private sector in the Middle Belt Development Zone.”
Mr Speaker, just for clarification, we have done it with the Northern Development Authority Bill, 2017 as well. We say for instance: “The Authority may (a) extend support to the private sector, public sector, philanthropic investments and non-profit making organisations ...” I thought philanthropic organisations and non-governmental organisations are all registered as private entities, just that they are non-profit making. So, do we have to mention them separately since we have talked about this as if they do not fall within the private or public sector? They are private sector organisations. Every genuine NGO is registered privately in this country -- [Interruption.] Yes. We are talking about private and public. We are not talking about profit here; we are talking about the character of their operations. At least, just for clarification, do we have to mention them?
I think that they want to specifically identify among that class, the classes that qualify to receive that kind of support. That is why they even said “may”. It is not obligatory and so, yes, there is a Non- Governmental Organisation (NGO). They are all in the private sectors and social sectors but specifically, they want one or two groups, that is why they have identified them for clarity of law, so you have no doubt in your mind. If you do not fall within “philanthropic investments” or “non-profit making organisations”, then you cannot benefit. So, when you put “non-profit making” you can be an association or a company limited by guarantee and whatever and so you qualify. I do not see anything wrong with it. Let me listen to him again.
Mr Speaker, I am alright with that, but just for the Hon Chairman to throw more light on this. I can understand when we say “extend support” but is that not too broad? What kind of support? I believe it is rather extremely broad to say that, we would extend support to all these organisations so they can write them cheques, give them vehicles or technical support. [Interruption.] No, they cannot do anything. There must be a limit to what they can do. You cannot say that they can give them anything. Now that the Hon Chairman is here, he can help us understand broadly what they are talking about.
Well, I cannot participate in the debate but I thought this was too clear. Society is very dynamic; a lot of things do happen, so to specify the type of support you would have to give would not be advisable. Let us listen to the Hon Member for Efutu.
Hon Member for Effutu, what I simply did was to guide the House, I did not direct the House. But if at any particular time the authority is to give technical support or financial support or advice, anything, they are termed as support. So, in trying to use that general term, it covers a lot of areas. And it is not advisable to tie the hands of the Authority to what the Authority could do in this area. This is because, we are creating a body corporate and empowering it to be the catalyst of development in the various areas. So, it is not advisable to dictate as to what they should do and not do. Once what they are going to do is in accordance with the law, and the intendment for the establishment of the Authority, we should let it pass. Hon Chairman, let me listen to the Hon Deputy Majority Leader in situ.
Thank you Mr Speaker. I very much tend to agree with you to the extent that, if we go into the realm of defining words that have their ordinary interpretations -- and even the rules of interpretation teach that, indeed, where
I guided the House.
Your Hon Colleague is on his feet on a point of order.
Mr Speaker, I thought you ruled on this matter, so, I do not know why my Hon Colleague is dragging the House back. We would want to make progress. This is a matter that has been settled.
Is it the sense of the House that we should move on?
Are we by this limiting the freedom of speech? -- We are not. Let us indulge him a few minutes. Maybe, he may raise a very important issue but please, you know how to address your Hon Colleague Members of Parliament.
Sorry, Hon Deputy Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, thank you. I just want the Hon Chairman of the Committee to explain paragraph (b), the new rendition. If we said ‘institute measure for the protection of the private sector'. [Interruption] -- Are we taking only paragraph (a) or we are taking both?
We are taking both (a) and (b). That is the proposed amendment.
So, if the ‘support' is extended to private sector, public sector, philanthropic and all these, why is the measure for protection limited to only the private sector? Can the Hon Chairman of the Committee explain that portion?
Yes, Hon Chairman of the Committee?
Yes, Hon Member?
Mr Speaker, may I respectfully refer you to Standing Order 40 (1) on Sittings and adjournments of the House? Mr Speaker, it reads: “A Sitting of the House is duly constituted when it is presided over by Mr Speaker or any Member competent to preside over a sitting of the House under these Orders. (2)The House shall sit on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Sittings shall, subject to the direction of Mr Speaker, ordinarily commence at ten o'clock in the forenoon and shall ordinarily conclude at two o'clock in the afternoon”. Mr Speaker, I know we are masters of our rules. Now, we have decided to Sit between the hours of 12.00 and 4.00 in the afternoon. I looked on the consul and it is fifty-five minutes after 4.00 o'clock and I have not heard you extend the Sitting of this House. I would need your direction on this so that it would guide this House in our further—
I was not present on the Floor when the House took the decision under the guidance of Mr Speaker that Sittings would now commence at twelve in the noon and ordinarily close at four o'clock in the afternoon but I was briefed. So, you are right that if we are to go beyond 4.00 o'clock, there should be the exercise under Standing Order 40 (3) where Mr Speaker could then direct that Sittings be held outside the prescribed period. Hon Chairman of the Committee?
Mr Speaker, I moved the proposed amendment on clause 27—
Sorry, Hon Chairman, the intension is for us to close at 5.00 p.m. so, at 5.00 p. m., we want to adjourn the House. Deputy Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, respectfully, we are almost through with clause 27. And usually, as we did with the other Bills, the Interpretation sections move faster. So, Mr Speaker, I humbly plead with Hon Members that since we are done with clause 27, we would only take clause 28 then, the Interpretation section would move faster. So, Mr Speaker, the Hon Ranking Member of the Committee last week, actually engaged us and we are pleading with the other Side of the House to also be more cooperative so that we can finish the Middle Belt Development Authority Bill, 2017 and, begin the Coastal Belt Development Authority Bill, 2017 tomorrow. Thank you Mr Speaker.
Yes, Hon Deputy Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I think you have already made your indication that, the agreement was to end the Consideration Stage at 5.00 p. m. or we should close at 5. 00 p. m. It is about two minutes to 5. 00 p. m. So, Mr Speaker, if at two minutes to 5. 00 p. m. she is now making an application for an extension, I do not think that should be tolerated. We leave the rest in your hands and I think that 5. 00 p. m. should be sufficient for us to close. We would come tomorrow and continue and finish this Bill as early as possible. Thank you.
The Speaker is a listening Speaker and at the same time, very sensitive to the feelings of Hon Members. I can judge the mood of the House and with my experience, I can tell you how Hon Members are feeling. When you are a General, you should always at any time, look back to be able to judge the mood of your troops and act accordingly. So Hon Deputy Majority Leader, you may advice yourself.
Mr Speaker, may I pray that the Question on clause 27 be put?
That definitely would be put. Hon Chairman of the Committee, an issue was raised with regard to (b).
Mr Speaker, the first one talk about extending support. The second one is about instituting measures. This is the distinction.
You would institute measures for the protection of the private sector. And the first one is, extend support to the private sector.
That is not the issue. Why are you instituting measures for the protection of the private sector and not any other sector?
Mr Speaker, I would like to remind the Hon Deputy Minority Leader that, this was not the initial proposal that was brought by the Committee. The House proposed this, so I find it difficult that the question has been thrown back to the Committee. It was the House that proposed this and split it into two. It did not come from the Committee earlier, but because we had dealt with this in the Northern Authority Development Bill, we needed to do it. It was proposed by the Hon Minority Leader. It is unfortunate he is not here to give you an answer.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Member keeps mentioning my name incorrectly. I would want to teach him now. From now on, he should make sure he pronounces the name correctly. The name is spelt K-L-U-T-S-E, “Klutse” and not “Kluje”.
Hon Members, I thought that this was a simple matter. We agreed that the private sector needs some protection and support, unlike the public sector. So, if the House in its wisdom urged the Committee to put across this proposed amendment, I do not know why the same House is making a u-turn and trying to oppose it. However, if you insist, we would listen to you.
Mr Speaker, I was in the House when we did the Northern Development Authority Bill and this matter came up. To be honest, this particular one was not debated much. You say you would protect the private sector, yet the law says that public sector organisations would also operate within the zone. The question is, why is the protection for only the private sector?
Mr Speaker, I am taking a situation where a private person invests in any of the development zones and loses his investment. Is it possible that the person could say he was offered protection? We did not state the kind of protection we are capable of offering. We could agree that we are saying it generally, because it is a new Bill, we could say it is any protection. Protection could be environmental protection, protection from litigation or facilitation of acquisition of land in the local area. It has to be a bit specific. General protection is too broad. I would plead with the Hon Chairman. I do not think that it is --
Hon Members, the issue is not protection. The issue is about instituting measures for the protection. So we are giving the Authority the power to put in place measures that could protect. So, when they are putting in place those measures, you would have to look at the peculiarity and so many issues and the type of protection. It would not just be blanket. Is that the understanding of the House? I was told this was a proposal from the House and not the Committee.
Mr Speaker, I believe that is exactly what the House meant. Instituting measures means you operate within the measures and your expectation would be within the measures that are established by the Authority. In seeking protection, you cannot go beyond the measures that have been instituted by the Authority. It is very clear and that was what the House meant when it was put in there. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, the concern here is that, we already have a number of measures instituted by law to protect private investments. We have measures under the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre Act and a number of measures that have been legally instituted. In this instance, where we are saying that the Authority should institute measures, are we foreseeing a situation where they would bring a legislation with additional measures that would be aimed at protecting private investors? Specifically, what kind of measures are we contemplating here? I think that is the concern of the Hon Member. What kind of measures are we contemplating, that an authority could put in place to protect private investors within the zone? The zone is within the country and within the country there is legislation that addresses the issue of the protection of private investors, which is the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre Act, and from time to time, whatever Act of Parliament has been enacted. Mr Speaker, could we be given a specific example, so that we could imagine an additional measure that the Authority could put in place. In listening to the Hon Member, his fear is that, it is possible that, in enacting a legislation like this, we would open ourselves up to a situation where an investor within the zone would lose his investment and take us on, on the grounds that in a legislation, there is a duty on the Authority to put in place measures to
Hon Member, the clause talked about the word “may” and not the word “shall”. So, the Authority “may” not institute measures. We just want to create the environment that could make it possible for the Authority to do so when the need arises. I believe definitely that, the Authority would take into consideration the legal regime before they do that. I do not see anything wrong with it.
Yes, Hon Asamoa?
Mr Speaker, we have heard on the Floor of the House today, time and time again that, we should not constrict the “Authority” of the authority we would want to delete.
Hon Member, did you say we should not restrict or constrict?
Mr Speaker, in a sense, when we try to make sure that we have legislated every single activity, then we would constrict them. We would constrict their ability to think and operate within the peculiar confines of the Middle Zone where measures would include things as mundane as public education. Mr Speaker, we have the law and beyond the law the Authority should have the discretionary space to think as a Body with a development function to create a facilitatory environment; an enabling environment which is peculiar to the Middle Zone. I believe we cannot sit here and legislate that space for the Authority simply to implement. We must give them the space because it would be manned by people with technical expertise and; an appreciation of the zone and we must give them the space to also think through some of the things that would benefit the Middle Zone as a middle zone. Mr Speaker, I thank you. Question put and amendment agreed to. Clause 27 as variously amended ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Hon Deputy Majority Leader? [Pause] --
Mr Speaker, respectfully, you called me, but there were no further directions as to why you did so.
Hon Deputy Majority Leader, it was out of respect to you. Since you are now the acting Hon Majority Leader and Leader of this House, I could not have just proceeded to adjourn the House without listening to you, knowing well that you resisted the adjournment. So, the House stands adjourned.