VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS AND THE OFFICIAL REPORT
Hon Members, item numbered 2 on the Order Paper -- Correction of Votes and Proceedings of Wednesday, 26th July, 2017. Page 1…10 --
Yes, Hon Member?
Mr Speaker, the last line in paragraph 9 on page 10, should read: “…elder statesman” and not “… “elderly statesman”. The second and third lines in paragraph 10 should also read: “poor maintenance culture of Government property…” and not “poor maintenance culture on Government property...” Mr Speaker, I am grateful.
Thank you very much, Hon Member. Page 11…15. Hon Members, the Votes and Proceedings of Wednesday, 26th July, 2017 as corrected are adopted as the true record of proceedings.
Yes, Hon Okudzeto Ablakwa?
Mr Speaker, I noticed that there was a tough time in properly capturing my Colleague's name -- Hon Kwame Agbodza should be doing this correction, but I guess he did not pay attention to it. Mr Speaker, in column 2391, it should be; “Mr Kwame Governs Agbodza” and not “Mr Kwame Govers Agbodza” -- the alphabet “n” was omitted in the spelling of “Governs”. In column 2424, it should also be; “Mr Kwame G. Agbodza” and not “Mr Kwame K. Agbodza”. Mr Speaker, I am grateful.
Thank you very much, Hon Member. Hon Members, any further corrections? Hon Members, the Official Report of Friday, 21st July, 2017 as corrected, is hereby adopted as the true record of proceedings. Hon Members, item numbered 3 -- Questions -- to the Hon Minister for Agriculture. Hon Members, we will take the Question marked 73 on the Order Paper. Is the Hon Minister in the House?
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister has been summoned and he has indicated to us that he is on his way to the Chamber. So, I guess we could do a Statement while we wait for the Hon Minister, then we would revert when he comes, so that the Question could be asked.
Hon Members, item numbered 4 -- Statements. We will proceed to a Statement by Hon Alhaji Inusah A. B. Fuseini on the floods in Tamale. Yes, Hon Fuseini?
Thank you very much --
The Hon Minister is here; Hon Member, please, just hold your horses for a brief moment so that we can finish with the Hon Minister for him to go and attend to other matters of State. Yes, Hon Member for Asunafo South?
ORAL ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS
MINISTRY OF AGRICULTURE
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, the “Planting for Food and Jobs Campaign” which is a flagship programme of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Government was unveiled by myself the Hon Minister for Agriculture on 9th January, 2017, at the New Year School of the University of Ghana. It was officially launched by H. E. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the President at Goaso in the Brong Ahafo Region on the 19th of April, 2017. The primary objective of the “Planting for Food and Jobs Campaign” is to transform the agriculture sector by increasing the productivity of farm resources centred on small holding activities. The secondary objective of the Campaign is to provide job opportunities for the teeming unemployed youth and to provide raw materials for industry. The “Planting for Food and Jobs Campaign” focuses on four key stable food and vegetables commonly grown in the country: These are maize, rice, soyabean and sorghum, tomato, onion and pepper. The Campaign has five main pillars of intervention, namely, the provision of seed, fertilizer, extension services, marketing and E-Agriculture platform. Under the Campaign, selected farmers are supported with farm inputs such as improved seeds of the targeted crops, fertilizers and extension services directly from the Ministry while other pillars are to be implemented with the private sector partners. 1. Status of implementation Mr Speaker, currently, the distribution of inputs to all districts in the southern sector for the major season cropping is completed. The distribution of inputs to the northern sector is near completion.
Arrangement for marketing: Expected crop surpluses 1. Institutional arrangements have been made Mr Speaker, a draft MoU has been submitted through the current manage- ment team for approval which would require five Ministries to take their foodstuffs from the surpluses from the ‘Planting for Food and Jobs Campaign'. These are: the Ministries of Education, Health, Defence, Interior and Gender, Children and Social Protection. Storage capacity and link with private sector Mr Speaker, in order for us to store the surpluses that we expect, apart from buffer stock warehouses, that is twenty-seven (27) of them with a total capacity of 30,000 metric tonnes, we are commandeering warehouses from Ghana COCOBOD which have been abandoned around the country. There are over 274 of them and those are also being commandeered. b) Construction of warehouses in districts with no facilities Mr Speaker, we are going to provide storage facilities to those districts that do not have them. c) Linkage with Private Licence Agents, Poultry Farmers, ECOWAS buffer stock arrangements, Grains and Legume Development Board, Processors, Exporters and other recognised bodies, are being organised to buy the surpluses. Mr Speaker, 5 — The Challenges that we are faced with, so far are the Planting for Food and Jobs -- these are listed as shown in the Answer. SPACE FOR CHALLENGES - PAGE 1 - 12.45 P.M. Mr Speaker, they include, first of all, inadequate supply of seeds. We have had to import some seeds from Burkina Faso to supplement what we have been able to provide domestically. The second challenge is the unavailability of farmer database. This is because we have not had a census for over 37 years, and we have had to organise database for the farmers participating. Mr Speaker, the next challenge is the inadequate number of Extension Officers. For the last seven years, there has been no recruitment of Extension Officers. In the meantime, most of them have gone on pension and this has left a huge gap in our extension services that we need to fill. Therefore, what we are doing is to hire National Service persons to fill the gap for the inadequate extension services that we are offering the farmers. Mr Speaker, we also face difficulties with logistics. So that Extension Officers can go to the field to provide services to the farmers, there are ongoing plans with the Canadian Fund to provide 240 pickups and 3,000 motobikes for the purpose. Mr Speaker, lastly, the outstanding constraint has to do with the fall army worm invasion. The immediate deployment of chemicals to this has really led to the control of the army worm and the programme for Planting for Food and Jobs is very much alive and going.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister has said several things which are not captured in the Answer here. All the same, we would proceed and ask him some specific questions. Mr Speaker, during the launch of the programme, H. E. the President of the Republic of Ghana spoke about the One District One Factory Programme. The Hon Minister in his Answer, under point 4 has mentioned; Arrangement for marketing, construction of warehouses in districts with no facilities. Could the Hon Minister be very specific about what concrete steps have been taken towards the construction of warehouses as promised?
Mr Speaker, I alluded to the fact that, we are taking stock of all warehouses around the country to see which districts have no storage facilities, so that we could target them and construct the facility for them. We want to make sure that each one of the 216 districts in this country has a storage facility for the grain surpluses that we expect. So, before we do that, we want to take stock of all warehouses within the public sector. So, we have, for the first time, brought in what we call, COCOBOD sheds which are warehouses of COCOBOD abandoned for all these years in several districts. Once we take a count of that and we know how much it is going to cost to restore them, we would know where the gaps are and we would then decide which district we are going to prioritise in the construction of new storage facilities.
Mr Speaker, in the Hon Minister's Answer on page 8 of the Table, he listed the number of registered farmers from the various regions, and indeed, all the 10 regions in Ghana have been captured here. Apart from that, the Hon Minister has indicated “Others”.
Mr Speaker, yes indeed, we have registered other institutions like the Prisons Service and Colleges, et cetera — [Interruption.] Mr Speaker, the main body of the statistics are from the District Directorates — That is, individual farmers. But where institutions are concerned, we have put them under, “Others”.
Mr Speaker, in the 2017 Budget, the total amount of money allocated for the purchase of fertilizer was GH¢130 million. However, in the Answers provided by the Hon Minister on Table 5, the Hon Minister has indicated: “Expected expenditure on the Planting for Food and Jobs Campaign as at June, 2017”. Even though we are in July 2017, it is still captured as expected expenditure in June. Mr Speaker, more precisely, the Ministry has spent GH¢132,059,193.00 and they are now looking at the cost on the minor crop for the southern sector. It means that, the Ministry has exceeded the budget allocated for that purpose. Mr Speaker, how is the Ministry financing the excess expenditure?
Mr Speaker, if the Hon Member looks closely, he would see that we are talking about fertilizer and haulage. In the budget, it is fertilizer. However, we are talking about haulage and fertilizer; which include the distribution of the fertilizer to the farming communities. So, that is where the difference comes from.
Mr Speaker, could the Hon Minister tell the House the number of direct and indirect jobs the programme is expected to create, and if he could indicate how many young people, in terms of the youth, would benefit from this programme.
Mr Speaker, during the unveiling and launching of the programme, we made certain estimates about employment generation, which were based on increased productivity, and production and jobs that would be created on the farm. We could not do the all-farm because it was too complicated. But at least, we had enough basis to be able to do the calculation. And the calculation showed very clearly that if we were to meet all our targets — and we are on course in meeting them — we would be able to generate 750,000 jobs around the 216 districts that the operation is being carried out.
Mr Speaker, bullet point four of the Hon Minister's Answers, which reads, “Arrangement for marketing (Expected crop surpluses)” has as its first point, “Restoration of existing warehouses”. Would the Hon Minister be kind to update this august House what the attitude of the previous Administration was to existing warehouses in the scheme of things?
Hon Minister, what was the state of affairs earlier? [Interruption.] The Hon Member is entitled to ask. You may proceed, Hon Minister.
Mr Speaker, the fact of the matter is that, all those warehouses which belonged to Ghana COCOBOD had been abandoned because cocoa have been moving from the Eastern Region through the Ashanti Region to the Brong Ahafo Region ending up in the Western Region. Most of those warehouses have been abandoned and the previous Government did not see it necessary to organise them for the storage of food.
Mr Speaker, in the Hon Minister's Answer as found on page 9 of the Order Paper, the Hon Minister said that the programme had some challenges. May I know from the Hon Minister the extent to which the fall army worm invasion has affected this programme?
Hon Minister, fall army worms and the challenges? [Laughter.]
Mr Speaker, may I take this opportunity to correct a point made by the Hon Member who asked the question. He referred to page 10, but there is no page 10 in the Answer; it is page 9. So, I would want to put it right for the records. [Laughter.] Mr Speaker, the impression which has been created by some people that the fall army worm is consuming “Planting for Food and Jobs” is incorrect. This is the reason we are in anticipation of the surpluses that we expect and we are making frantic efforts in order to store and make sure that not one bean or one single grain is lost at the farm gate because of lack of market. Mr Speaker, I would want to give the Hon Member some statistics to prove what we have said. The total area affected by the fall army worm came to 112,812 hectares which was affected. There is a difference between “affected” and “destroyed” and this is where a lot of people get confused. The total number which was destroyed was only 14,430 hectres.
Mr Speaker, only! Mr Speaker, I said “only” because it does not even form 2 per cent of the total area under maize alone, not to even talk about the total area under all crops in Ghana. So, there is an exaggeration of the possible impact of the fall army worm. The experts at the Ministry, whom I believe are some of the best in the world -- [Interruption] -- They are very sure that the fall army worm is under total control. The only challenge that we have is to ensure that, come next year, this 112,812 hectares would be reduced to zero. We are going to make sure that between now and next year, we annihilate this fall army worms from the shores of Ghana. Thank you.
Hon Members, I would note those who want to ask questions, but who are shouting and sitting, of course, they would not catch my eyes. Yes, Hon Member?
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister provides in Table 5 that 132,059,193.00 was spent on fertiliser and haulage. Can the Hon Minister tell this House how much of this was spent on haulage and how much was spent on fertiliser?
Mr Speaker, this is informa- tion that I would have to go back to the office to fetch. Thank you.
Mr Speaker, may I take this opportunity to re-emphasise that the total figure of 132 million is for both fertiliser and the distribution of the fertiliser, which is the haulage.
Mr Speaker, I would want to find out from the Hon Minister for Agriculture, if the invasion of the fall army worm happened last year. If yes, what measures did the previous Administration put in place to prevent or control any possible invasion this year?
Mr Speaker, the invasion, caused by the fall army worm, which is from the American continent, arrived in Africa only two years ago. Last year was the first time we had the incidence under the previous Administration.
Mr Speaker, I would want to ask the Hon Minister what the state of the extension services was in his Ministry before embarking on this programme? This is because in his Answer, he has indicated that there have been inadequate extension services and I would want to know the state.
Mr Speaker --
Order! Any further undue interruption and I would discharge the Hon Minister. The Hon Minister is in the House to answer our questions. Let us maximise the use of the time.
Mr Speaker, the extension services that I inherited when I was appointed by the President of the Republic was a very pathetic service. On the establishment list, I was supposed to have 4,600 extension officers, but as I speak, I have only 2,544.
Mr Speaker, I would like to find out from the Hon Minister -- [Interruption.]
I would like to find out from the Hon Minister, whether he is aware that fertilizer meant for the “Planting for food and jobs” are being smuggled to Togo and Burkina Faso. If he is aware, what steps is he taking to address this problem? [Interruption.]
Are there some people who doubt the ability of the Hon Minister to answer his own questions? [Laughter.] That kind of intervention does not help.
Mr Speaker, I am not aware. As a good citizen, if he has the evidence, he should provide that and we would follow it up.
Hon Fuseini? [Interruptions] --
Very well. Hon Member, the Hon Fuseini has indicated -- Yes, you may.
Mr Speaker, my name is Clement Kofi Humado and not Fuseini. In the Answer of the Hon Minister, on page 9, section 4.1, he stated that; “Institutional arrangements, draft MOU for submission to EMT to travel to cabinet for approval”. Mr Speaker, for the avoidance of doubt, may I ask the Hon Minister to clarify that statement?
Mr Speaker, the EMT is Economic Management Team and that is where everything starts in terms of policy of this Government. So, whatever we have, we have to submit it to that team for them to consider it before it is recommended to Cabinet for approval. That is what I mean by that. If we talk about “Institutional arrangement”, it means that we intend to use Government's procurement power to create the demand for the surpluses which we expect from the “Planting for food and jobs”. This is in the sense that all procure- ments from the Ministry of Health for the sick in hospitals, all procurements from the Ministry of Education meant for students for the School Feeding Programme and all of that, we want to have the first option of buying before we could buy outside it. This is an instrument that we are determined to use in order to create demand and make it a success for “Planting for food and jobs”.
Hon Member, please, go on.
Mr Speaker, on page 8 of the Order Paper, the Hon Minister has stated that they have so far spent GH¢157,023,174.00 on the programme. I would like to know how much he expects in terms of income after this planting season on this project?
Mr Speaker, the original budget was for GH¢650 million and we expected to generate GH¢1.3 billion for the participating farmers. As we speak, one could see that, we have not reached that level of GH¢650 million because we were a bit late in starting the programme. Ultimately, this is only a pilot scheme. May I remind the House that, there are nearly five million farmers in Ghana. So, if we choose only 200,000, it is like an experiment in the laboratory. We are
Two more questions, then Leadership.
Mr Speaker, I humbly want to find out from the Hon Minister what specific procurement method -- [Interruption.]
What specific procure- ment method did he use in awarding the contract for the supply of the fertilizer? Was it sole-sourcing or competitive tendering? [Hear! Hear!]
Mr Speaker, unlike what prevailed in the previous Administration, we did competitive tendering for the fertilizers and all the inputs. They were published in the Daily Graphic , Ghanaian Times, The Chronicle and all the major newspapers. [Hear! Hear!]
Mr Speaker, I would want to ask the Hon Minister whether he is aware that last year, if a farmer had GH¢1,120, he could afford only one bag of fertilizer, and that this year because of the Government's intervention, a farmer with the same amount of money can afford four bags of -- [Interruption.] Mr Speaker, this year, a farmer with GH¢1,120 could afford four bags of fertilizer and pay up the balance of GH¢120 the following year. If he is aware of this, what measures has he put in place for this programme to continue?
Mr Speaker, I could not agree more with my Hon Colleague. This arrangement that we have made this year is unprecedented in the history of agricultural production in this country.
Minority Leadership, you may ask a question. Order!
Mr Speaker, thank you. Mr Speaker, in an answer to an earlier question, the Hon Minister said that he was not aware that fertilizer was being smuggled. Mr Speaker, on the 6th of June, the Hon Minister of State at the Ministry of Agriculture said that, that was one of the major challenges that confronts them. On 11th July, on Citi FM, the Hon Minister of State at the Ministry of Agriculture said that the major challenge confronting the Planting for Food and Jobs Programme was the smuggling of fertilizer. Mr Speaker, could the Hon Minister say specifically that he is not aware and has not heard all these comments by his own Hon Colleague from the same Ministry? I just want a categorical statement from the Hon Minister.
Mr Speaker, I am really surprised at my Hon Colleague from Asawase; he is talking about Citi FM, an unofficial source. Mr Speaker, public policy does not rely on rumours and radio stations. We deal with facts and anytime that anything comes before us, we make sure that we investigate thoroughly. Mr Speaker, I could assure you that each of the bags assigned to Planting for Food and Jobs Programme had gone to farmers at a price which was unprecedented in the history of this country. Mr Speaker, farmers are jubilating -- if one goes to the northern parts of this country -- I am sure that my Hon Friend from Wa would attest to what I am saying. It has never happened before. Mr Speaker, the surpluses which we would collect in the next two or three months would surprise everybody in this country. This is why we are frantically preparing for the storage for these huge surpluses that we are expecting from our hardworking farmers.
Hon Minority Chief Whip, you may ask one more question.
Mr Speaker, we have identified 254 warehouses or sheds, as the Hon Member calls them, with a total capacity of 96,000 metric tonnes. Mr Speaker, that is what we have identified.
I would prefer that when I say Leadership you would make it my definition of Leadership. Hon Minority Leader, this is because, I have said this on so many occasions. Out of deference, I would give you one bite but both sides of Leadership -- Leadership means that you would have to decide who would ask the questions. Hon Minority Leader, you may proceed.
Mr Speaker, maybe, I would make an application for you to review your definition of Leadership. Each Hon Member of Leadership is on his own here as an Hon Member of Parliament and entitled to play his or her role as Hon Member of Parliament.
Hon Minority Leader, if every Hon Member of Leadership were to ask a question, it would not work. Hon Minority Leader, I have given you the opportunity, so take it.
Mr Speaker, in fairness, one question for the Hon Minority Leader would not be enough. If you are not pleased to let me proceed, I do not mind.
Majority Leadership, you may ask a question. You all understand my collective expression “Leadership”. Majority Leadership, you may ask a question based on who should ask the question.
Mr Speaker, I have no question.
No question from the Majority Leadership? Very well. Hon Minister, thank you very much for attending to the House.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister responsible for Foreign Affairs is caught up in another meeting, but she has sent the Hon Deputy Minister ahead to do the laying of the Paper on her behalf. Mr Speaker, with your approval and the indulgence of the House, the Hon Deputy Minister may be permitted to do the presentation of the Paper on behalf of the Hon Minister.
Hon Minority Chief Whip, are you opposed to --? Hon Minority Leader --
Hon Minority Leader --
Hon Majority Leader? Order!
Mr Speaker, if an Hon Colleague has any issue about a directive given by the Hon Speaker, I believe the Standing Orders provide the avenue to address the matter. Mr Speaker, our Standing Orders in Order 93 (5) provides; and with your permission I quote: “The conduct of Mr. Speaker, Members, the Chief Justice and Judges of the Superior Court of Judicature shall not be raised, except upon a substantive motion …”. Mr Speaker, so, the Standing Orders provides sufficient avenues to redress any grievance of an Hon Member. This is a House of rules and procedure. Mr Speaker, if my Hon Colleague, the Chief Whip for the Minority, is unhappy about a directive or ruling by the Hon Speaker, the avenues are opened to the person. In my opinion, it would be wrongful for the Hon Member to rise up and refer to the conduct of the Hon Speaker, not on a substantive Motion and at the same time, be banging the table. That is unacceptable. Mr Speaker, I would not press for the referral of the conduct of the Hon Member. I would not want to do that because I believe we must tolerate one another. Mr Speaker, except to caution my Hon Colleague that if he has any strong feelings, avenues are opened by the Standing Orders. He could resort to those avenues, but not what he has just done. That is most unparliamentary. Mr Speaker, I thank you.
Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, yes, this House is governed by rules, and this House is governed by the Standing Orders, but when we rise -- Whenb I rose, I specifically, and I would want the Hansard Department to print it for you. I said I would make an application to contest your ruling. It was respect for the rules. Go back to the Hansard. When I rose a moment ago, I deliberately chose my words. I said I would make an application since I was unhappy about your ruling. Because I respect the rules, I served you notice that I would make an application. Mr Speaker, when the Hon Minority Chief Whip rose -- You are the head of this organ of Government. We are masters of our own rules; you are the chief supervisor of the rules. Mr Speaker, when I rose -- you know the essence of Parliamentary Questions Mr Speaker, the Hon Majority Leader, has been here before. One day, he might be here again. As the Hon Minority Leader, if you want, we would print copies of what he stood here and said on questioning Ministers. It was not one and they were not two. Mr Speaker, we so, respect you as the chairperson of this House. We have responsibility as Leadership to support you in maintaining order in the House.
Hon Minority Leader, you have made an indication to contest a ruling. Do you want to make your argument here and now? If not, you might take your chair and proceed in the appropriate manner with what you intend to do. Hon Members, you all know that at the end of Questions, I give different and separate opportunities to Leadership of both sides of the House to ask questions. You know that I have consistently made it clear to both sides of the House; Majority and Minority, evidenced by the Hansard that no one would be allowed a double bite at the cherry, as I have said on many occasions to both the Minority and the Majority. In all honesty, you all know that. So, at that point, you decide whether it would be the Hon Majority Leader, the Deputy Majority Leader or whoever should ask the question, and you know it very well.
Mr Speaker, the application to you was to enable the Hon Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs to do the presentation of the Paper listed as item numbered 5 (a) on the Order Paper on behalf of the Hon Minister for Foreign Affairs.
Item listed 5 (a) on the Order Paper?
Item numbered 6 on the Order Paper -- Chairman of the Committee?
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that this Honourable House adopts the Report of the Finance Committee on the Annual Report of the Petroleum Funds for the year 2016. Mr Speaker, in doing so, I present the Committee's Report. Introduction Further to the presentation of the Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the Government of Ghana for the year ended 31st December, 2017, the 2016 Annual Report on the Petroleum Funds was first presented to the House pursuant to Section 48 of the Petroleum Revenue Management Act, 2011 (Act 815) as amended by Act 893. The Report was referred to the Finance Committee for consideration and report in accordance with article 179 of the 1992 Constitution, and Orders 140 (5) and 169 of the Standing Orders of the House. The Committee met and considered the Report with the Hon Deputy Minister for Finance, Hon Abena Osei Asare. In attendance were the Chief Director for the Ministry of Finance, and his technical team of officials as well as Officials from the Bank of Ghana, Public Interest Accountability Committee (PIAC), Ministry of Energy, Ghana National Gas Company (GNGC), Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), Petroleum Commission and the Ghana National Petroleum Company (GNPC). References The Committee referred to the following documents 1. 1992 Constitution 2. Petroleum Revenue Manage- ment Act, 2011 (Act 815) as amended by Act 893 3. Standing Orders of Parliament Purpose of the Report The purpose of the Report as stipula- ted in section 48 of Act 815 as amended by Act 893 is to inform the House on audited financial statements of the previous year comprising: (i) the receipts and transfers to and from the Petroleum Holding Fund, (ii) the deposits into and with- drawals from the Ghana Stabili- sation Fund (GSF) and the Ghana Heritage Fund (GHF), and (iii) the Balance Sheet, including a note listing the qualifying instruments of the Ghana Petroleum Funds. Observations Receipts from the Petroleum Holding Fund Total petroleum receipts as at the end of 2016 was US$247.18 million (GH¢972.55 million). Details of 2016 receipts is shown in Table 1 below: SPACE FOR Table 1 - PAGE 3 - 1.35 P.M.
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion, and in so doing, I would want to call the Hon Chairman's attention to an error that I am sure is inadvertent. Mr Speaker, on the last sentence of paragraph 3.1, from the table, “actual receipts amounted to” -- the denomination should have been in dollars not cedis. So I wish the Hon Chairman amends it as such. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Yes, Hon Chairman?
Mr Speaker, I would want to refer the House to paragraph 3.1 on page 2, and accordingly correct the denomination there. The amount there is captured in Ghana cedis, but it has to be in the United States dollar. Mr Speaker, I would therefore ask that the proper denomination be captured on page 2, paragraph 3.1. The amount should be US$247,175,394.26.
Thank you Hon Member. The Hansard Department should capture the correction accordingly. Question proposed.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I would like to support the Motion moved by the Hon Chairman that this Report of the Finance Committee be adopted by this august House, and in so doing, I would very briefly want to touch on paragraphs 3.4 and 3.5 of your Committee's Report. Mr Speaker, the challenge of the turret mooring system that the FPSO Kwame Nkrumah suffered is one that is yet to be fixed. At the Committee level, we received the assurance from the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) that a number of options are being embarked upon. Mr Speaker, it raises a few worries because, first of all, contrary to some of the programming of interruptions, it appears that there are times when the FPSO would have to be shut down for longer periods than anticipated. Mr Speaker, this obviously affects how much oil we produce and the revenue we make from that as a country. Mr Speaker, today, we have two more FPSOs which we are told are on similar technology. It raises more worries about the kind of challenges we may face with these. Mr Speaker, at the Committee level, we have encouraged the GNPC to quicken its steps to ensure that, this nascent challenge that we face with this FPSO technology is quickly addressed, to avoid interruptions in oil production and our revenue flows. Mr Speaker, the challenges that we also face, are how we invest our Ghana Heritage Funds, based on sections 29 to 39 of the Petroleum Revenue Management Act. These are what we should consider very seriously. Mr Speaker, it is true that we also face want to preserve the funds and as a result, we are investing in very safe instruments. But in finance, if we do not take the risk, we would not get the reward. Mr Speaker, therefore as we have encouraged the Ministry of Finance to explore ways by which we can get some higher rewards through an improved mix of instruments, the Committee is also asking the Ministry to take it very seriously and ensure that at the end of the day, we get a lot more revenue to fund the expenditures that we have laid out as a country. Mr Speaker, as I wrap up, I join the Hon Chairman to argue that this Report effectively meets the dictates of the law, and should be accepted by this House. Mr Speaker, I thank you.
Thank you, Hon Member.
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to add my voice to the Report of the Committee. Mr Speaker, thank you very much. Mr Speaker, PIAC made a comment that, the Report does not come with the implementation status of the money being drawn under the Annual Budget Funding Amount (ABFA). Mr Speaker, I believe that it is very important that the attention of the Ministry of Finance is drawn to this. This is because a lot of people do not actually know how much, and where these moneys are put. Mr Speaker, in fact, last year, we were here when an issue arose concerning the bus branding, when the money should have been used for railway development. I, therefore believe that, it is very important that this Report comes with the next Budget in November. Mr Speaker, it is also very important that we start labelling all the projects that we are using the Annual Budget Funding Amount for -- that means what we would use the oil money for, so that Ghanaians can actually appreciate where their moneys are being put to use. Mr Speaker, in fact, for governance purposes, it is very important that, there is transparency in the use of the oil revenues. Otherwise very soon, some people would come to the conclusion that some politicians sitting somewhere are spending their moneys, as it had happened somewhere in other parts of the continent. Mr Speaker, with these few words, I wish to add my voice to the Motion and insist that in November, they should add that report to the document.
Thank you very much, Hon Member. Hon Members, any further contributions? Yes, Hon Member?
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I rise to support the recommendation by the Committee on Finance, that the House accepts the Report on the Petroleum Funds as presented. Mr Speaker, in doing so, I would like to indicate that, in most of the lines of revenue, the moneys received fell short significantly of all the budgeted numbers for 2016. Mr Speaker, we acknowledge that, with the Carried and Participating Interest for example, there was a shortfall of about US$58 million. Mr Speaker, again, with the Gas Carried and Participating Interest, it was about US$48 million. Mr Speaker, the question that came up was that, if indeed all the actuals -- all the figures that we expected were not achieved, then possibly, the budgeting process could have considered some potential reasons this could not happen. Mr Speaker, at the end of the day, it came up that, we had challenges with the production and there were also challenges with the world market prices. Mr Speaker, one of the key areas of interest was also the payment of surface rentals. It came up that, it was very difficult to even collect some of the moneys. Mr Speaker, if we look at table 1, we see that, up to about US$586, 000 of surface rentals did not come through in the year 2016. The Committee indicated that where it was not possible to identify the users of the properties, it was important that provision was made to reduce the moneys that were to be accounted for to the country. Mr Speaker, the 2016 figures, by and large, fell within the law, and I would like to support the view that, this Report be adopted by the House. Thank you, Mr Speaker, for this opportunity.
Yes, Hon Minister?
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity. Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister for Finance came to satisfy the requirements of the Petroleum Revenue Management Act, when he presented the Report together with the 2017 Budget in March. Mr Speaker, we can see from the Report that, revenues declined from US$396.17 million to US$247.18 million, and one of the reasons was the challenge with the turret berry on the Floating Production
Leadership, any contribution?
Mr Speaker, no comment. I believe the Hon Members who contributed have done justice to the issue, so I have nothing useful to add.
Hon Chairman of the Committee, any concluding remarks?
Mr Speaker, the Hon Deputy Minister has done justice to it.
I will put the Question. Question put and Motion agreed to.
Item listed 7 on the Order Paper -- Motion -- Chairman of the Committee.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that this Honourable House adopts the Report of the Finance Committee on the Annual Report of the Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC) on the Management of Petroleum Revenues for the year 2015. Mr Speaker, in doing so, I present your Committee's Report. Introduction The 2015 Annual Report of the Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC) on the Management of Petroleum Revenues was presented to Parliament on 30th May, 2017 in accordance with the Petroleum Management (Act 815) and the Standing Orders of the House and was referred to the Finance Committee for consideration and report. The Committee met with the members of PIAC, the technical team from the Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC), Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), Bank of Ghana (BoG), Ghana National Petroleum Company (GNPC), Ghana National Gas Company (GNGC) and the Ministry of Finance (MoF) to consider the referral. Reference The Committee referred to the following documents: 1. The 1992 Constitution of Ghana 2. Petroleum Revenue Manage- ment Act, 2011 (Act 815) 3. Standing Orders of Parliament Background As part of its mandate, PIAC is required to prepare and publish two Reports -- semi and annual Reports -- each year, detailing how much petroleum revenue has been collected during the period under review and how the amount so collected, has been utilised. The Report is also expected to capture the performance of the Ghana Petroleum Funds (GPFs) and the feedback received from the citizenry during the PIAC public consultations. In accordance with its mandate, the PIAC has prepared the Annual Report on the management of petroleum revenues for the year 2015. The 2015 Annual Report is the fifth Report of the Committee. The Report examines cumulatively the distribution and utilisation of the petroleum revenues while stressing the point that, the revenue could have been more focused in its spread over projects. Object of the Report The object of the Report is to inform the House and the general public on the management of the petroleum revenues for the year 2015. Observations Oil and Gas Production The Report revealed that the total number of barrels of crude oil produced from the Jubilee Field in 2015 was 37,411,661 barrels. Production from the Saltpond Field amounted to, 41,113 barrels. Total associated gas produced from the Jubilee Field was 52,546 MMscf. Lifting and marketing The Ghana Group lifted 5,730,090 barrels of crude oil from the Jubilee Field in 2015, which represented 15.42 per cent of total production for the period under review. Total liftings from the Saltpond Field dropped by 71 per cent from 88,201 barrels in 2014 to 25,453 in the first half of 2015, leaving a stock balance of 17,813 barrels of oil. Petroleum receipts The total petroleum receipts for 2015 amounted to US$396.17 million (GH¢1,449.92 million). This amount was approximately 46 per cent lower than projected revenue (as revised) and approximately 60 per cent lower than revenues that accrued in 2014. Allocation and utilisation of Petroleum Receipts A total of US$387.83 million (representing approximately 98 per cent of total petroleum receipts) was allocated during the reporting period leaving an undistributed balance of US$8.35 million in the Petroleum Holding Fund as at December, 2015. Approximately 33 per cent of the total receipts was given to GNPC in respect of its equity financing cost and net of Carried and Participating Interest. An amount of US$239.30 million, representing 61.7 per cent of the net amount of US$260.97 received by the GoG in addition to the US$53.69 million withdrawn from the GSF during the first half of 2015 to shore up shortfall in ABFA, was allocated to the ABFA in 2015, bringing to US$292.98 million (GH¢ 1,086.28 million) total funds allocated to the ABFA account in 2015 and to US$1,428.76 million the cumulative allocation to ABFA from 2011- 2015. An amount of US$21.67 million, representing 9 per cent of net receipt by GoG and 5.59 per cent of total petroleum revenues in 2015, was transferred to the Ghana Petroleum Funds of which the Ghana Stabilisation Fund received US$15.17 million and GH¢6.5 million to Ghana Heritage Fund. Indebtedness of VRA to GNGC The Report revealed that outstanding receivables as at the end of 2015 were US$234.25 million, with VRA responsible for 97 per cent of debt owed GNGC. GNGC informed the Committee that they were taking steps to recover the debt. Currently, the Ministry of Energy has entered into a cash waterfall Agreement which is to ensure that, 85 per cent of gas supplied now is paid. They were hopeful that the matter would be resolved. Where it is not resolved, the Company would resort to other options of either going to court or cutting off supplies to VRA.
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion moved by the Hon Chairman of the Committee. Mr Speaker, this Report is on the 2015 revenues that came from oil. Just a few minutes ago, we looked at the amounts for 2016 and we were told that it was only US$229 million. Mr Speaker, it means that in just one year, we have lost over US$158 million worth of potential petroleum receipts. This should signal all of us that we cannot rely on petroleum revenues to develop and it is important that we take note. It is true that the turret was problematic, and from what we heard, right now, all the three FPSOs may be in trouble. Mr Speaker, what is important about this Report is what the Hon Chairman discussed in paragraphs 5.15, 5.13 and 6.4. Mr Speaker, this is the year 2015. GNPC got into the business of being a bank lending money to the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR), Bulk Oil Storage and Transporta- tion (BOST) Company Limited and the Black Stars. The question all of us have to ask is, is GNPC a bank? Since when did its mandate include lending money to State institu- tions? Mr Speaker, it is important that Parliament takes this matter seriously and going forward, we should make sure that we encourage GNPC to move away from this bad habit of being a banker. Mr Speaker, government needs resources. If it turns out that what we are giving to GNPC is more than they need, we can vary the amount so that it can come to the Budget for proper development. We know what happened in the matter of the Black Stars. It was very embarrassing to the Government. We believe this is not the core mandate of GNPC and it needs to move away from that.
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity. In supporting the Motion, I want to make a comment on the need to comply with the recommendations as outlined by the Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC) as set up by section 51 of the Act, is established to allow a third party to assist Parliament in its oversight functions. There are interesting recommendations that are put out by the PIAC and at this stage, what we are doing is, we are encouraging that these recommendations are complied with. But when we look at the Act, there are no sanctions for non- compliance. As we support the Motion to approve this Report, we would also like to encourage this House and the mother Ministry itself, which is responsible for Petroleum Fund Management, to explore the introduction of some sanctions so that in the future, the Reports by PIAC do not just become perfunctory Reports that come to this House and are commented upon but do not have any biting effect if even they are not employed. Mr Speaker, with that said, I would like to support the Motion for the adoption of this Report. Thank you Mr Speaker.
Thank you very much, Hon Member. Any further contributions?
Thank you very much Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to contribute to this Motion. Mr Speaker, I would want to concen- trate on the allocation of funds to the Petroleum Fund. Per the Report, we are told that the total of US$369 million was allocated to the Petroleum Fund. This was further redistributed into the Annual Budget Allocation Fund to GNPC, the Ghana Petroleum Fund and further to the Heritage Fund and the Stability Funds. Mr Speaker, in 2014, the total allocation was US$779 million, while in 2015, we had an allocation of US$260 million. This shows that our industry, because of the issues with the FPSO and other related matters was in decline. Mr Speaker, I would also want to look at the returns that we are making on our Heritage Fund. In 2015, we made a return of about 8.3 per cent. Mr Speaker, because of the nature of this Fund and the objective to maintain the value of the Fund, I believe we have not been aggressive enough in pushing the returns. Not too long ago, as a nation, there were alternatives where we could have put this Fund to inure immediate benefit to this nation. Mr Speaker, I would think that this nation should actually have a debate on the use, source and where we invest these funds, so that we would have immediate benefits of this sector, while we have some fossil fuels buried in the ground before they run out. Mr Speaker, with these few words, I support the Motion. Thank you for the opportunity.
Thank you very much, Hon Member.
Mr Speaker, with respect to the PIAC Report, one key observation that was made by the Report was that, the number of projects that these Funds sought to finance or sponsor were too many. As a result, they were mostly uncompleted or that some of them appeared to have been in the books for too long. The recommendation was that, it would be important for the Fund to focus on just a few priority areas, so that we can have the benefit of those investments. Mr Speaker, the other area of concern that has been talked about is the returns that we expect from our investments. Unfortunately, looking through the Report, we noticed that in certain quarters, the returns on our investments were actually negative. Mr Speaker, there was not much we could do about that. This is because, the areas for investment are already pre- defined by the law. It is our intention that even if it was not possible to change the portfolio of the investment assets, it would be useful to move them from one jurisdiction to the other, or from one bank to the other, where we would probably reduce the loss of return on the moneys that we are investing. Mr Speaker, with these few words, I would like to thank you and to support the Motion that, the Report be adopted and accepted by the House. Thank you very much.
Hon Members, any contribution from Minority Leadership? [Pause.] Any contribution from Majority Leadership?
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to relate to a few issues contained in the 2015 Annual Report of the Public Interest and Accountability Committee on the management of petroleum revenues. Mr Speaker, first, we are into the second half of 2017; that is more than one and half years after the expenditure that is covered by the PIAC. Mr Speaker, I believe the purpose of the Report from PIAC is to help us right any wrong that might have happened in the course of the year of expenditure. So, one and a half years after the expenditure, we are seeing this Report and commenting on it, Mr Speaker, it is not the best. Let us urge that the 2016 Report should be treated as a matter of urgency and possibly be reported on in this current year, to enable us reconcile what obtained in 2015 and 2016, so as to be able to straighten the path of our national development agenda.
Mr Speaker, I would touch on a few issues raised by the Hon Majority Leader. Firstly, he talked about the delayed PIAC Reports. The 2015 Report had been with us in this House but it was only in May that it was laid. The Report was sitting somewhere in the Mails Room, so when I became Chairman of the Committee, I took steps to get the Report laid. I also took further steps for the 2016 Report to be laid and subsequently, it has been referred to the Committee. So, we would work on it pretty soon. Mr Speaker, the Hon Majority Leader also talked about production levels at Saltpond and I would refer him to page 2 of the Report, paragraph 5.1. It says, and with your permission, I read: “Production from the Saltpond Field amounted to 41,113 barrels.” It would interest Hon Members to know that this production is the annual production from the Saltpond Field. The daily average from Jubilee Field is about 70,000 to 80,000 barrels. So, if Saltpond Field is doing 41,113 annually, then it stands to reason with GNPC that it be shut down and decommissioned. Finally, Mr Speaker, on PIAC's position on hedging, it was PIAC that informed the Committee that they thought Tullow got a better average price because of Tullow's hedging policy. We drew the attention of PIAC to the fact that Anardarko also hedged. A hedging policy could give different outcomes. Therefore, I would say GNPC's non-hedging policy was rather better. This is because whereas Tullow averaged $67 per barrel, Anardarko averaged $44.42, while GNPC was in-between with $52.36. I disagree that it could have been due to hedging. These crude oil liftings happen at different times of the year. If someone is lifting in January, the price is dictated by the world market. So, if the Ghana group happens to lift in the latter part of the year when prices have declined, it might be the reason for the average price that we got. Mr Speaker, I would end this right here.
Thank you very much, Mr Chairman. Hon Minister, do you intend to make any comments or concluding remarks?
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity. As indicated, PIAC submits two Reports annually and the Ministry takes them very seriously. As regards the recommendation of the Committee, Government holds the view that GNPC should stick to its core mandate. Government is also taking steps to see to it that, all the moneys borrowed from GNPC are paid back. On the usage of the Heritage Fund, it is very clear in the PRM Act that it cannot be touched. However, the interest on it, if the country so wishes, could be utilised after 15 years for its needs. The law is clear on how we should treat the Heritage Fund. As indicated earlier, the investment choices of the Ghana Heritage Fund and Stabilisation Fund are stated clearly in the law. However, as I said, we are in discussions with the stakeholders to see to it that all these concerns raised are addressed and Ghana gets a better yield for her investments. I would like to use this opportunity to thank all Hon Members of the House for their contributions towards this Report especially the Majority side for their participation today. Thank you very much, Mr Speaker.
Thank you very much Hon Minister. Question put and Motion agreed to. Item numbered 4 -- Statements. Hon Members, we have a Statement in the name of the Hon Member for Sefwi Akontombra. Hon Members, the Hon First Deputy Speaker would take the Chair.
MR FIRST DEPUTY SPEAKER
Hon Member, you have the floor.
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity given me. Mr Speaker, I rise to make a Statement on the need for an improvement in the cocoa sector. Mr Speaker, Ghana's economy has since time immemorial been largely dependent on Agriculture, Mr Speaker, cocoa production, for that matter, has always been a key driver of the economy, contributing to the socio-economic development of Ghana, accounting for 8.2 per cent GDP and 30 per cent of the total export earnings in 2015 (ISSER 2008) involving 800,000 households. Mr Speaker, in recent times, matters involving cocoa production have not been so pleasant for industry players (farmer's merchants, processors and the Government), thus, adversely affecting fortunes of the once vibrant and lucrative sector. Mr Speaker, Ghana is the second leading producer of cocoa in the world after la Cote d'lvoire, though the two neighboring countries cultivate almost the same farmland size of about 1.7 million hectares. Mr Speaker, Ghana achieved its historic peak production of one million metric tonnes during the 2010-2011 seasons. One would have wished Ghana could maintain that feat. However, Mr Speaker, that has not been the case. There has rather been a decline in the commodities output figures to below 900,000 metric tonnes in subsequent years, Mr Speaker, unfortunately, the country can now barely produce half of la Coted'lvoire's output. Mr Speaker, the 2015/2016 production of about 778,000 metric tonnes is said to be one of the lowest in the last decade. Mr Speaker, local processing companies are struggling to get supply from Ghana, and have to import cocoa beans from la Cote-d'lvoire to stay in production. Mr Speaker, the critical issue here is not whether there has been a precedent of importing cocoa beans for local companies or not. The worry is to dispassionately explain why local processing companies in a net exporter of cocoa have to import the same commodity for production, especially at this critical moment when managers of the economy are struggling to tame the free fall of the cedi, largely caused by trade imbalances. Mr Speaker, in the Sefwi Akontombra District of the Western Region, a cocoa growing hub in the country, my interaction with some farmers revealed the issue of increasing soil infertility as a worrying trend affecting production of the crop. Mr Speaker, the phenomenon is believed to be partly caused by the inadvertent excessive use of substandard and fake agro chemicals on the farmlands. The question is; are we losing the fight against soil infertility? Mr Speaker, COCOBOD has recently announced a new policy intervention called Hands Pollination in selected cocoa farms, with the aim of increasing production to one million metric tonnes and above. Mr Speaker, this intervention comes with a huge cost to the State. The sector is bedeviled with a number of challenges including: Stolen or diverted inputs Diseases Illegal mining activities Ageing labour force Old cocoa trees Land litigation Soil infertility Mr Speaker, the sector has lost its efforts to attract the youth into the cocoa farming to lucrative enterprises, like galamsey, among others, leaving the old men and women to work on the cocoa farms. Mr Speaker, per the trends in the sector, the long term sustainability of the cocoa supply chain is seriously under threat. Mr Speaker, the issue of ageing farmers, youth hesitancy to embrace farming and the mass desertion to illegal mining must be issues of concern to all if we truly want to salvage the troubled cocoa sector. To make the sector lucrative and attractive again, Mr Speaker, I suggest the followings: Timely implementation of policy intervention Life insurance or pension scheme to be managed by SSNIT or SIC for farmers Soft credit facilities to farmers Broaden the scope and coverage of cocoa scholarship scheme to tertiary level Introduction of small machines for cocoa pod breaking Training of farmers on CRIG recommendation technology Establishment of demonstration farms in the various districts Develop untapped livelihood option within the cocoa value chain e.g. soap making Provision of infrastructure in the cocoa growing district Establishment of more seedling gardens Employment of more extension officers Compensation to farmers and land owners; Stop the diversion of input for private gains Culprits must be dealt with decisively Mr Speaker, it would serve the country's interest if the managers of our economy pay more attention to the cocoa sector. It would create more jobs along its value supply chain and boost Ghana's revenue, since it is the only thing that attracts low interest on loans. Mr Speaker, I believe if effective monitoring and evaluation measures are put in place to check the various interventions and strengthening CRIG recommendation technology, Ghana can achieve one million metric tonnes and above in the 2019/2020 crop season. Thank you, Mr Speaker for this opportunity.
Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to contribute to the Statement which was made by the Hon Member of Parliament for Sefwi Akontombra. Mr Speaker, cocoa, over the years, has been known and accepted as the golden pod. It was, and it is still a golden pod because of its gargantuan contribution to the economy of Ghana and most of the educated people of this country owe a lot to it. A lot have benefited to the extent that, if we look back to the dwindling situation that we witness in the cocoa sector, it leaves much to be desired. Mr Speaker, over the years, we have witnessed increased and decrease, returns to farmers, to output and everything with regard to policy that has to help the cocoa industry. Mr Speaker, the question we ask ourselves is whether we regard cocoa now as the golden pod. If we look at the statistics that have been put across for the past eight years, it would be realised that the cocoa industry may get to its dead end. Why do we have to sit down for the golden pod to go down the drain and no more to be recognised as such? It is pathetic. Whereas countries around us develop their cocoa industry and want it to be extremely a golden pod to them, we in Ghana, having had the lead in all things regarding cocoa, would very soon be the last on the ladder. Mr Speaker, I would therefore want to add my voice to the contributions and the recommendations that, the cocoa industry needs a complete Ministry. It is not a new thing, it had been there before. The Ministry would properly look at all the facets of the industry and come out with good policies, good implementation strategies and make sure that cocoa can have its proper place in the economy as it has been of years gone by. Mr Speaker, it is a sad scene when one travels to the cocoa areas, because the most deplorable roads in the country are found in the cocoa areas. Despite the fact that COCOBOD is the only organisation that manages a crop that has money voted specifically for the roads of the industry, our thinking is that the funds that are meant for roads are for the maintenance and development of roads in the sector, roads in the growing areas and roads in the cocoa marketing areas. But we realised that, instead of the funds getting to these areas, we have them in areas where we cannot talk about cocoa, and it is sad indeed. I believe some of these things have to be addressed. Mr Speaker, over the years, we have also talked about added value to our raw cocoa beans. But what do we find? Even though we have been talking about added value over the years, the impact of value addition to the cocoa beans is very insignificant, leading to the fact that, as we talk, less of the quantity is processed in Ghana and a greater part of the beans is exported to earn peanut for the country. Mr Speaker, it is sad to hear that even Extension Officers who contribute to help the farmers to develop their farms are no more within the system. So, one would ask of the whereabouts of the expertise and qualified staff that are needed to support the farmers in the production of the very crop that gives us a very good livelihood. Mr Speaker, it is again sad to realise that inputs for the development of cocoa are diverted and sold because government subsidises them heavily. When are we going to come back and live to our glory days? When are we going to say that our generations to come can benefit from cocoa as we have done over the years? Mr Speaker, on this note, I end up by strongly recommending that the cocoa industry should have its own Ministry.
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity. I rise to contribute to the Statement on the cocoa sector by Hon Alex Tetteh Djornobua, Member of Parliament for Sefwi Akontombra. Mr Speaker, Sefwi Wiawso Consti- tuency shares a boundary with Akontombra. The Statement raises very fundamental questions. The fundamental problem with the cocoa sector is market manipulation by the big players out there. And that is the “E= MC2” of all our problems. I say this because, some 20 years ago, if one ate a bar of chocolate, about 20 per cent of that value came to us the farmers. Now, it is only six per cent that came to us. The market has been so manipulated that the big players in the downstream end of the industry earn a lot more than has been the historical norm. Mr Speaker, currently, we are dealing with a huge debt of US$14 billion per annum. And the last time that I checked, less than US$4 billion came to the primary producers. Mr Speaker, this manipulation has taken a turn which has had international repercussions. If one goes to Bahia in Brazil, people are running away from cocoa. If one goes to Indonesia, cocoa has become the crop of the poor man. Malaysia has ceased to be a significant producer of cocoa because the bidding class have jettisoned cocoa and the same is happening in Ghana. Mr Speaker, it also happened in Nigeria. That was accelerated by the discovery of oil. Sometimes, I shudder to think why we should be so obsessed with producing so much cocoa. This is because, the paradox is that, if one produces one million metric tonnes of cocoa, the market would be depressed and we the farmers would become poorer. So, it is paradoxical. But the other side of the equation is that, West Africa produces on annual basis some 70 per cent of the cocoa crop in the world. So, I would urge my Government, that while we do not exactly do manipulation, when we join forces — We can join the discourse with those at the end of the value chain so that we can strengthen the market. If we want the market to work well as we believe, then so be it. On the other hand, if there is going to be a cartel of manufacturers, then there should be a cartel of producers. This is because, currently, our policy is pointing to what I call securing market share and not getting value for the cocoa farmer. This is because, if we produce 1.5 million metric tonnes now, as far as we the farmers are concerned, our income would collapse, and it is happening now. Only last year — I have not seen the aggregate yet, but la Cote d'Ivoire produced close to two million metric tonnes or they have the capacity to produce more. So, we should sit down with them and carve out the market, otherwise, there can be no other middle way. Mr Speaker, the other side of the equation is that, if we cast our minds back to some 30 years ago — and we are all witnesses to it, if we talked about a cocoa farmer, what conjured in a person's mind was somebody who was rich. Then we have the permanent type of poor cocoa farmer. So, in the interim, I say that the regulators should look at efficiency and we would want to see the quantum of money which is going to the regulators from the management. Mr Speaker, I am aware that a Minister of State — But during my vetting, I said that the idea of earmarking moneys of cocoa farmers to do infrastructure, specifically roads, is discriminatory. We have built all sorts of infrastructures and still, cocoa farmers are inordinately taxed to do roads. I do not get it. It is discriminatory. And so, at the peril of a critique in my own government, I would want to wager that, that policy would have to be looked at. Yes, cocoa roads would have to be done, but the financing should come from other sources. Maybe, the time has come for us Parliamentarians to contribute towards cocoa roads because the burden on cocoa farmers is just too much. Mr Speaker, I have a lot to say, but I would want to end by saying that every problem brings in its way a unique opportunity. We have to sit down with our brothers in the sub-region. This is because I noticed that cocoa is a unique crop. In fact it can only be grown between latitude seven degrees on either side of the equator. And even though Australia tried to experiment in cocoa growing in Queensland in Northern Australia, it was a woeful failure. So, in anything that we do by addressing the market situation, we also owe it a duty to reduce the burden on cocoa farmers. Mr Speaker, the industry, in spite of all the advances that have been made elsewhere, is fraught with primitive farming practices. I shudder to think that in the 21st Century, we still use our hands to crack cocoa pods while there exists technology out there. Some are even for free. With the Australian example that I referred to, one of the products was that they were able to manufacture a motorised pod-cracking machinery. I have done a search and the patent is even for free. So, if Ghana could contact our friends in Australia, we could have this machine for free and it would reduce the drudgery. Mr Speaker, finally, one of the drudgery in the cocoa sector is the lack of development in — beyond feeder roads, we have farm tracts because of soil fertility that my Hon Colleague in Sefwi Akontombra referred to. Mr Speaker, most of the fertile cocoa farms are far away from the cocoa weighing centres. The time has now come for us to develop farm tracks so that aboboyaa (tricycles) and other implements can traverse the farms and reduce drudgery on us as cocoa farmers. Mr Speaker, I have a lot to say but with this submission, I beg to take my seat. Thank you.
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to contribute towards the Statement that the Hon Member has made. Mr Speaker, this Statement is very important as I recall that some two years ago, the previous Government introduced a policy to other regions where cocoa used to be grown. An example of such an area was the Volta Region. I remember taking part in the initial stages where seedlings were provided to farmers who were being encouraged to go back to cocoa growing. Mr Speaker, if one travels to the Volta Region, particularly from Tsito through Anyinawase, Avenui to Wegbe-Kpalime all the way to Bame to Dzolokpuita and to Amedzofe; those areas used to be serious cocoa growing areas. But because of the problems bedevilling the sector, those farmers have moved away from growing cocoa to growing other crops. So, they were encouraged to go back to growing cocoa. Mr Speaker, if we come to South Dayi, my own constituency, the people of Peki used to be cocoa growing people. If you travel through Have to Nyangbo, Likpe and Hohoe itself, we still have Cocoa Marketing Board (CMB) operating heavily in Hohoe. If we continue to Jasikan, Worawora and Ahamanso areas; these are very good areas for cocoa growing but the problems my Hon Colleagues spoke of earlier have deterred the farmers from growing cocoa. Mr Speaker, the roads in these areas are also in a deplorable state. So, while the farmers are encouraged to go back to growing cocoa, what do we do about the roads? This is because when the crop is harvested, the produce would have to be hauled to the marketing centres. How would they do that? So, it is not simply sufficient for us to speak about the problem. Like Hon Dr K. Afriyie said, we must find innovative ways to ensure that, apart from re-scoping and re-gravelling the feeder roads, we engender to create the farm tracks so that tractors can ply those roads and bring the produce to the marketing centres to be weighed. Mr Speaker, for a long time and until the discovery of oil in the country, cocoa has been the backbone of the economy. So, everything that we should do as a country to improve the crop production to enable us generate more revenue, we would have to do it as a people to diversify the economy. Mr Speaker, I would associate myself with the Statement and I would want to commend the Hon Member who made the Statement. Thank you.
Hon Members, I believe we have said enough on this particular Statement. I would direct that the Statement and the very insightful comments on them be forwarded to the Ministry of Agriculture to consider in their policy formulation. Hon Members, we have a Statement on the flooding in Sagnarigu District in Tamale Metropolis, standing in the name of Hon Alhaji Alhassan Fuseini. Very well. There is another Statement on the activities of Microfinance and Small Loans
Centre (MASLOC) towards the develop- ment of the nation. The name of the Hon Member to make the Statement is not stated here. The last Statement stands in the name of the Hon Rev. John Ntim Fordjour on The Emancipation Day Celebration. Celebration of Emancipation Day Rev. John Ntim Fordjour (NPP -- Assin South): Thank you, Mr Speaker, for affording me the opportunity to make this Statement on the Emancipation Day Celebration. Mr Speaker, the Emancipation Day is an annual festival in Ghana, which presents Ghana as the gateway for the return of people of African descent in the Diaspora. Although Emancipation celebrations long existed among the Caribbean countries to venerate the ultimate abolition of Chattel Slavery among the British colonies on 1st August 1834, it was Ghana that became the first country from the African continent to opt to join the celebration in 1998. Mr Speaker, this decision clearly re- asserts Ghana's status as the gateway to the African Homeland of Diasporas. Mr Speaker, it is also worth pointing out the fact that Ghana's stance as the gateway to the homeland is well supported by facts which show that Ghana was a major departing point for slaves on the west coast in the period in which the ill-reputed slave trade took place. Mr Speaker, this year's Emancipation Day Celebration marks the 154th anniversary of Emancipation, and was launched on Tuesday July 25th at the Dr W.E.B Dubois Memorial Centre on the theme; “Emancipation, Our Heritage, Our Strength.” At the ceremony, wreath-laying was led by the Hon Minister for Tourism, Arts and Culture in memory of the venerable ones who lost their lives in the course of the fight against slave trade and emancipation of people of African descent. Mr Speaker, the ceremony, which took place on Tuesday, was rich in culture and was marked by the renaming of Dr Sergio Mosquera, a son of Ghana, who had been domiciled in Colombia, His new name is now Dr Kofi Sankofa; signifying the return to the homeland and regain of his true identity. Mr Speaker, it would be dis-ingenuous for one to talk about the commemoration of Emancipation Day without the mention of the Assin District, largely for their position in the slave trade. Indeed, the Assin District has a great historical background as far as the slave trade in West Africa is concerned. Mr Speaker, two great rivers lay claim to this. These are the Pra River in Assin Praso and the Donkonsu River in Assin Manso. Mr Speaker, Assin Manso was the place where slaves who were being commuted from the innermost parts of the country stopped over. The slaves had to walk for over four hundred (400) miles barefooted through the Pra River in Assin Praso, which incidentally served as the border line between the forest zone and coastal zone to Assin Manso where they rested, bathed, were sorted out and re- sold. They were then taken through the Cape Coast and Elmina Castles to anchored ships which had been made ready for the Americas, Sao Tome, Jamaica, and other destinations. Not only that, Assin Manso was also a place where the slaves were fed so as to enable them put on body weight to make them look appealing for sale. Some beautiful historic landmarks in Assin Manso include the Slave River, which is locally referred to as “Donkonsuo'' where the slaves had their last Ghanaian bath. There is also the “Okye” river which was the river that served at the time as the only source of drinking water for the people. Other historic features are the Garden of Commemoration which incorporates various monuments, including the graves of two great slaves, Samuel Carson and Mother Crystal, whose mortal remains were brought from the United States of America and Jamaica in 1998 for re- interment in Ghana, signifying the return to the homeland. There is also a prayer hall adjacent the two graves with chapel-like benches and a grassy meditation, lawn where the slave masters and traders used to worship. Mr Speaker, these historic landmarks in Assin Manso provide the opportunity for tourists to have a first-hand information about the manner in which slavery was conducted in Ghana. Mr Speaker, it is however sad to note that, apart from the annual Emancipation Day celebrations which occur on the 1st of August every year, the slave tourist site stays dormant for the rest of the year with virtually no activity. It is rather ironical that this promising location with enormous tourism potential lies underutilised and undeveloped. This indeed is a worrying development that needs to be addressed immediately. In the tourism interest of the country, we must, as a matter of priority, harness and develop the historic tourism endowment of Assin Manso. Mr Speaker, one way to utilise this great resource is to make the tourist location more attractive. There are many artisans in the Assin enclave, such as the renowned kente weavers from Assin Dompim. There are also wood carvers and other skilled and gifted artisans who can be organised and assisted in making their crafts at the centre, in order to make visitors who find their way to this historical site buy some souvenirs. This will increase sales for these artisans. Revenue from regular visitors would also help improve the economic conditions of the people in this area as well. The youth of Assin would be the ultimate winners if they were made stakeholders in this venture. Mr Speaker, I must commend the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts for their immense commitment to the development of Assin tourism and emancipation day commemoration in particular. This year's historic Emancipation Day commemoration coincides with the celebration of Panafest and promises to be spectacular. I take this opportunity, therefore, to invite tourists, stakeholders and friends in the diaspora and in Ghana to this year's Emancipation Day celebration scheduled for 1st August 2017 at Assin Manso in the Central Region, and to assure them that warm hospitality and akwaaba, await them. I wish the chiefs and people of Assinman happy and glorious Emancipa- tion Day in advance. Thank you.
Well, there are no Hon Members on their feet with the interest to contribute. Hon Ohemeng-Tinyase, do you want to contribute to the Statement? Then you have the floor.
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to contribute to the Statement on the floor. Over the years, it has been said that slavery really did a lot of bad to Africa. If we go forward, therefore, if some people come, the first question some of us ask is are the people who come properly integrated into the system? Do they really look for places of significance to them; like people try to trace their place of birth, or people who have knowledge of certain locations they could pinpoint as stories told them by their ancestors? Mr Speaker, it is seen by some of us as a visit and a go back. It is sometimes for purposes of tourism. If we look at the real idea and the tenets of the people who establish some of these things, it is to let them really have a feel of where they belong. Mr Speaker, it is very interesting and fantastic when we see somebody who says that his remains after death should be brought to Africa. That is really a show of commitment and dedication to the roots of where he or she comes from. Mr Speaker, it is time the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture finds a way to get data of even those who come and try to relate with them through the embassies abroad, and make sure that, they have some link, adopt some homes, or take titles as some few of them do when they come for festivals. We really have to make some moves to let them feel at home and feel a sense of belonging to Africa, and more particularly to Ghana. In the era where we look up to diasporans coming back to Ghana to invest, these are potential people whose roots could be traced to Ghana, and could therefore have some sorts of investments in the country. The question then is, do they even come and appreciate some of the investment opportunities we have in the country? What does the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre do when some of these brothers and sisters come? It is time we looked at the potentials of some of these people, in terms of some of the developmental things they do in this country and if they could not do more. Could they not do more if we really make them feel part of us and one of us? We hear of stories where some of them come and believe that we sold them. So, they do not have a link with us. If we have a set-up that would address some of these issues and wrong sentiments, we would be at home. They would realise that it is not a matter of fact of sale, but it is a fact of deception. People were deceived that they had to let off some people for some peanuts. It is said that even in these modern times, we have slavery, whereby our young ladies are transported to Saudi Arabia. We hear tales of maltreatments. I do not believe that these ladies would say that we ever gave them away into slavery. So, some institutions, especially within the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, should really make sure they attract some of our brothers and sisters to the country, for them to have a sense of belonging whereby when they come back, they could walk to a town and say that it is their village. They could have some small settlement where they could spend a night or weeks, and be accepted as one of us. It would be a very good way ahead. Mr Speaker, with these few words, I subscribe to the Statement, and thank the Hon Member for a good work done.
Hon Dr Okoe Boye, I am trying to understand how you migrated straight ahead of me to my extreme right.
Mr Speaker, my Hon Friend on the other side of the House spoke; and I would want to balance it. [Laughter.] Mr Speaker, I am very grateful for the opportunity. Mr Speaker, we all celebrate Emancipa- tion Day as a phenomenon. We are very glad that Ghana joined the movement to ensure that we welcome our brothers and sisters who were shipped to the Americas some years ago. Mr Speaker, this is a wonderful opportunity to throw light on the tourism industry. I think what we stand to benefit from all these emancipation celebrations is to ensure that we have put up the right infrastructure to maximise the benefits that come with it as a country. Just like the cocoa that our Hon Colleague talked about in the previous Statement, we are in a country where some people think that, growth in a sector is inevitable and that it happens with time. Nothing would grow without invest- ment and I know countries that survived almost entirely on tourism; The Gambia, Seychelles and most of the islands in the Americas. They do not farm, manufacture, but they just create the environment for tourists. Mr Speaker, it is very important for this country to appreciate the fact that we have to invest in an industry to reap the benefits and then going forward, it would help us a lot. When I watch international networks like Cable News Network (CNN) and I see other countries being advertised and consider that for many years, we do not see Ghana. One would ask how much it costs to have a minute's advertisement on these networks, knowing very well that to a lot of our friends around the globe, vacations are a very important part of their lives.
You are only speculating.
Mr Speaker, I take a cue. What I am trying to say is that, as a country, we must work on creating more opportunities for our people, so that those who have been emancipated would be the last generation that ended up in the Americas.
Hon Member for Assin Central or North? I would give you the last word.
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity. Mr Speaker, emancipation brings to bare how our ancestors really suffered at the hands of their slave masters. In modern Ghana, there are some house helps in their master's homes who are serving their masters in uniforms. They have special uniforms for them and they serve their masters under strict conditions and at the end of the day, they receive peanuts. Mr Speaker, this is modern slavery and it has to be condemned. This is the bit that I have to say about our emanicipation and what the Government of the day has to see to and ensure that it is corrected and does not have any effects on our people.
Very well. On that note, I was going to bring the curtains down, but I would give the Hon Member for Bosome-Freho the last word.
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to contribute to the Statement on emancipation. Mr Speaker, I come from a background where most of my friends who I grew up with, were West Indians in the United Kingdom (UK) and a lot of them wanted to come over to Ghana. I brought some of them during the years 2000 to 2008 and I took them to the Asantehene's palace and the Cape Coast Castle and it was so sad. Anytime we went, it was tears of joy and tears of sadness and a lot of them expressed interest in coming to Ghana and settle. When a lot of them get back, they tell their families and they would also want to come to Ghana and settle. The challenges that we had were with our sanitation problem; the drains in Ghana are so terrible. I believe that if we were to cover up our gutters and our sewage systems and clean up the streets a bit more and pave the sides of the roads, we would be in a better position. We just came back from Morocco and the houses there were not better than Ghana. We have plenty of good infrastructure, but all we need to do is to tidy things up a bit and we need to manicure our trees, clean the sides of the road and cover these things up. Mr Speaker, I believe that, once we have done that and cleaned our beaches, we would have many of our people come to Ghana and this would also bring a great investment boost for us and people would get jobs. Mr Speaker, as I said the last time on the floor of this House, Bosome-Freho has one of the best lakes in the world and this is a natural lake in the Ashanti Region. If the Government would invest in fixing up the roads and cleaning up the area, millions of people would come to Ghana and enjoy what we are enjoying. Therefore, it would make emancipation a better thing for us in Ghana.
All right. That is good to know, Probably, the inhabitants of Bosome-Freho and its neighbours should start enjoying the lake so that other people could also be attracted to the place. Hon Majority Leader, any indication at this time?
Mr Speaker, I believe that we have exhausted the agenda for the day. There are Committees that have been slated for meetings, about eight of them, excluding the Technical Committee that must be meeting in your office to finalise the review of the Standing Orders. Mr Speaker, as we agreed yesterday, we said to ourselves that, we would endeavour to begin at 3.00 o'clock and possibly end around 8.00 p.m. today to conclude Business. On that note, I may at this juncture move that, this House adjourns until 12.00 noon tomorrow.
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion. Question put and Motion agreed to.
The House was accordingly adjourned at 3.14 p.m. till Friday, 28th July, 2017, at 12.00 noon.