VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS AND THE OFFICIAL REPORT
Hon Members, item numbered 2 on the Order Paper -- correction of Votes and Proceedings and the Official Report. Correction of Votes and Proceedings dated Thursday, 27th July, 2017. Page 1, 2, 3 … 6 --
Mr Speaker, I have been marked absent, but yesterday, I was at the sitting of the Finance Committee. I signed my name and I was also in the Chamber. Mr Speaker, so, if it could be corrected. Thank you.
Hon Member, thank you very much. It is noted. Page 7, 8, 9 … 25.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Mr Speaker, the Committee met yesterday, Thursday, 27th July 2017 and arranged Business of the House for the tenth week ending Wednesday, 2nd August 2017.
Arrangement of Business Formal Communications by the Speaker Mr Speaker, you may read communi- cations to the House whenever they are available. Question(s) Mr Speaker, the Business Committee has programmed the following Ministers to respond to Questions asked of them during the week: No. of Question(s) i. Minister for Education -- 1 ii. Minister for Sanitation and Water Resources -- 3 iii. Minister for Railways Development -- 1 iv. Minister for the Interior -- 1 v. Minister for Finance -- 1 Total number of Questions -- 7 Mr Speaker, five (5) Ministers are expected to attend upon the House to respond to seven (7) Questions during the week. The Questions are of the following types: i. Urgent -- 1 ii. Oral -- 6. Statements Mr Speaker, pursuant to Order 70 (2), Ministers of State may be permitted to make Statements of Government policy. Statements duly admitted by Mr Speaker may be made in the House by Hon Members, in accordance with Order 72. Bills, Papers and Reports Mr Speaker, Bills may be presented to the House for First Reading and those of urgent nature may be taken through the various stages in one day in accordance with Order 119. Papers and committee reports may also be presented to the House. Motions and Resolutions Mr Speaker, Motions may be debated and their consequential Resolutions, if any, taken during the week. Mid-year Review of the Budget Mr Speaker, on Monday, 31st July 2017, the Hon Minister for Finance is expected to move a Motion for the adoption of the Mid-year Review of the Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the Government of Ghana for the 2017 financial year. The House is expected to debate the Motion and take it through the various stages of approval in the course of the week. Sitting of the House on Monday and timing Mr Speaker, the Business Committee recommends that the House Sits on Monday, 31st July 2017. The Committee hereby informs Hon Members that Sitting of the House on Monday, 31st July 2017 would commence at 12.00 noon. However, on Tuesday, 1st August and Wednesday, 2nd August 2017, Sittings would commence at 10.00 a.m. to enable the House adjourn early for the recess. Mr Speaker, the House is expected to adjourn sine die on Wednesday, 2nd August, 2017. Conclusion Mr Speaker, in accordance with Standing Order 160 (2) and subject to Standing Order 53, the Committee submits to this Honourable House the order in which the Business of the House shall be taken during the week under considera- tion. Questions Statements Presentation of Papers -- (a) Budget Performance Report in Respect of the Office of the Attorney-General and the Ministry of Justice for the period January to December, 2016. (b) Report of the Committee on Foreign Affairs on the Agreement between the Republic of Ghana and the United States of America on the Resettlement in Ghana of
two (2) former detainees of the U.S. Naval Station, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba: Mahmud Umar Muhammad bin Atef and Khalid Muhammad Salih al Dhuby. Presentation and First Reading of Bills-- (a) Office of the Special Prosecutor Bill, 2017. (b) Zongo Development Fund Bill, 2017. (c) Northern Development Autho- rity Bill, 2017. (d) Middle Belt Development Authority Bill, 2017. (e) Coastal Belt Development Authority Bill, 2017. Motions -- -Adoption of the Mid-year Review of the Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the Government of Ghana for the 2017 financial year. Committee sittings. Urgent Question--
To ask the Minister for Education how soon the Ministry of Education will constitute and inaugurate the councils of all public universities for effective administra- tion and management of these institutions. Questions -- *51. Mr Mutawakilu Adam (Damongo): To ask the Minister for Sanitation and Water Resources when the Damongo town water project will commence. *88. Mr Richard Mawuli Kwaku Quashigah (Keta): To ask the Minister for Sanitation and Water Resources the steps being taken to resolve the potable water challenge confronting the people of Anyako, Konu and Seva. *89. Mr Richard Mawuli Kwaku Quashigah (Keta): To ask the Minister for Sanitation and Water Resources what plans the Ministry has to extend pipe-borne water from Keta to the following communities: (i) Beach Areas of Dzelukope (ii) Tettekope (iii) Tettevikope (iv) Nukpesekope (v) Lagoon Side of Vui. *101. Mr Kwame Governs Agbodza (Adaklu): To ask the Minister for Railways Development when works on the Tema to Akosombo Railways Project will commence. Statements Presentation of Papers -- (a) Report of the joint Committee on Finance and Foreign Affairs on the Protocol Amending the Convention between the Republic of Ghana and the Kingdom of The Netherlands for the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income and on capital gains. (b) Report of the Finance Committee on the Request for Tax Exemption Status for the Regional Training Centre for Law Enforcement Agencies Under a Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of the Republic of Ghana and the Government of the United States of America. (c) Report of the joint Committee on Finance and Works and Housing on the Loan Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Ghana and the African Develop- ment Fund for an amount of thirty-five million, nine hundred and fifty thousand Units of Account (UA35,950,000 [equi- valent to US$48.85 million]) to finance the Greater Accra Sustainable Sanitation and Livelihoods Improvement Pro- ject (GASSLIP). Motions-- (a) That this House rescinds its decision to approve the Build, Own, Operate and Transfer Agreement between the Govern- ment of the Republic of Ghana and Africa and Middle East Resources Investment Group Llc (AMERI Energy), for the installation of ten (10) GE TM 2,500+ aero derivative gas turbines, operate, maintain, transfer and provision of support services that the House took on March 20, 2015, for reasons of gross misrepresentation. (Hon Kobina Tahir Hammond, Member of Parliament (MP) for Adansi Asokwa). (b) Adoption of the Report of the Committee on Foreign Affairs on the Agreement between the Republic of Ghana and the United States of America on the Resettlement in Ghana of two (2) former detainees of the U.S. Naval Station, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba: Mahmud Umar Muhammad bin Atef and Khalid Muhammad Salih al Dhuby. Consequential Resolution Committee sittings. Questions -- *70. Mr Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa (North Tongu): To ask the Minister for the Interior what measures the Ministry is taking to combat insecurity and mob violence in Ghana. *71. Mr Kobena Mensah Woyome (South Tongu): To ask the Minister for Finance what role is played by e-Zwich in the Inter-bank Payment and Settlement System in the payment of allowances to benefi- ciaries recruited under the Youth Employment Agency (YEA). Statements Presentation of Papers-- Motions -- (a) Adoption of the Report of the joint Committee on Finance and Foreign Affairs on the Protocol Amending the Convention between the Republic of Ghana and the Kingdom of The Netherlands for the avoidance of
THE HOUSE EXPECTED TO ADJOURN
Thank you very much, Hon Majority Leader.
Mr Speaker, thank you very much. Last week, the Business Statement indicated that the Hon Minister for Finance and the Hon Minister for National Security would be here for the Committee of the Whole. This week, the Hon Majority Leader has presented the Business Statement and no inkling has been made of these scheduled meetings, which did not take place this week. What is happening?
Mr Speaker, about two months ago, precisely o n o r a r o u n d t h e 1 4 th of June, 2017, I filed an Urgent Question directed at the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice to appear before this House to answer the Urgent Question. Mr Speaker, I have been reliably informed that, that Question was trans- mitted to your office. The Business Statement for today gives an indication that this House will rise on the 2nd of August, 2017. Mr Speaker, if you would observe, I have been in this House every Friday to listen to the Business Statement and to find out whether my Urgent Question would make it to the Business Statement of the preceding week. Mr Speaker, indeed, as it appears, my Question is now being treated as a normal one -- Or even if at all, it would make it to the Business of the House. Mr Speaker, I have raised this matter because the House is rising on the 2nd of August, 2017, and I feel very sad that an Urgent Question that was filed about two months ago would not make it to the Business of the House before the House rises on the 2nd of August, 2017. Mr Speaker, if you are minded to make room for the Question to be asked of the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice to appear before the House to answer same. Thank you, Mr Speaker. Several Hon Members -- rose --
Yes, Hon Member?
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Last Friday, 21st of August, 2017, the Hon Majority Leader gave an indication of programming the meeting of a committee that was set up to look at the contempt issue that was raised on the floor. Per his assurances, I expected that it would appear in the Business Statement of next week. Unfortunately, it has not been captured. Mr Speaker, also, it has been almost two weeks since we had the fire incident. Till date, the House is unware of exactly what might have caused the fire at the Job 600 Office Complex, even though the Hon Majority Leader gave an indication last week that the House would be briefed on what caused the fire. Mr Speaker, I also filed an Urgent Question for the Hon Minister for Lands and Natural Resources in relation to the collapse of mining pits and whether the Hon Minister could attend to the House to brief the House on what steps might have been taken in that regard. Unfortunately, I have not seen that Question in the list of Questions admitted for next week, even though the Question has been submitted to your office for the necessary attention.
Yes, Hon Samuel O. Ablakwa.
Mr Speaker, I am most grateful, for the opportunity to comment on the Business Statement that has been presented by the Hon Majority Leader and Minister for Parliamentary Affairs. Mr Speaker, the Business Statement indicates that on Monday, 31st July, 2017, the Hon Minister for Finance is expected to move a Motion for the adoption of the Mid-year Review of the Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the Government of Ghana for the 2017 financial year. I would want to find out from the Hon Majority Leader why this has been left for this late. This is because, if this is presented on Monday and we are to rise on Wednesday, will we have ample time to really peruse the Mid-year Review and carry out the needed oversight and scrutiny that is expected of us all within 48 hours more or less? I thought that this could have been programmed earlier to allow for Hon Members to make some more informed inputs when it is presented by the Hon Minister for Finance. It is my view that this is coming rather late in the day. Mr Speaker, the second issue has to do with Order 66 of our Standing Orders, which states that, and with your permission, I beg to quote:
Mr Speaker, I am happy, and I must commend the Leadership for what I am seeing on the Order Paper of today for Tuesday, 1st August, 2017, that the House Committee for once would be having a meeting on Tuesday at 9.00 a.m. in Committee Room 8, West Wing, 8th floor, Tower Block, to discuss issues relating to the welfare of Hon Members and others. Mr Speaker, I must commend the Hon Leader and remind the Hon Leader and the Committee about Standing Order 168 (3) that it shall be the duty of the Committee to consider all matters connected with the provision of services to Members of Parliament and staff, including accommodation, catering, medical care, library, research, working and other facilities. Mr Speaker, this meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, 1st of August, 2017, and the House is supposed to adjourn the following day. It is my prayer that they work and present a comprehensive report. Mr Speaker, if you take a walk to the cafeteria, you would be sad to see where your Hon Members sit and have discussions on matters affecting this country, where we sit to receive our visitors, stationery, quality of work and facilities. My interpretation is “nothing”. Your Hon Members suffer a lot. There is not even a gymnasium for your Hon Members to undertake physical activities after adjournment, catering service, pens, papers and other things that would support the functions of a Member of Parliament (MP). Mr Speaker, we hope that after adjournment, you would take a leisure walk to the cafeteria to see where Hon Members have their tea. I have not seen the Hon Majority Leader there having a cup of tea for a very long time, and I would invite him to have a cup of tea after adjournment, so, he sees what we go through there.
Is it that you have not seen him for a very long time or he has never been there? [Laughter.] Hon Ahi?
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, the Hon Majority Leader is aware that normally, before we go on recess, they arrange for us to have a Committee of the Whole to discuss important in-house issues. He knows that there are a lot of welfare matters to be discussed. Could he consider organising a Committee of the Whole within Monday to Wednesday, so that such matters could be discussed?
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I have filed a number of Questions for about eight weeks now. One of them was on the issue of some roads in my constituency. However, the Business Statement read last week stated that one of the Questions would be taken this week, which has appeared, but the Question on the roads has not come up. It is quite disheartening that on the same roads that I had filed those Questions, yesterday, I was called and told that one of my chiefs' son got drowned in one of the rivers that was supposed to be catered for. The children from that village have refused to go to school because of fear and those at the Junior High School (JHS) can not even cross the White Volta. Meanwhile, the Questions have not come up. Mr Speaker, I wish to plead that something should be done about those roads.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I would want to bring to your attention a health and safety issue. I believe my Hon Colleague has also touched on it. Mr Speaker, this is my fifth year in this House. I do not remember ever being taught what to do when there is fire. Indeed, I can see fire exit signs at some exit points. However, health and safety regulations tell us that one needs to know where to assemble when one gets out of harm's way. I believe in what happened at the Tower Block (Job 600) Building the last time, we thank God that the worst did not happen. Mr Speaker, I would urge the Hon Majority Leader to consider giving Hon Members of Parliament and parliamentary staff health and safety drills. The last time we were on the Tower Block and the fire alarm was triggered, I saw Hon Colleagues running to take the lift.
Under normal circumstances, once a person hears that, he should not take the lift. Maybe, that is happening because we have not been given that drill. So, Mr Speaker, when we come back for the next Meeting, I would urge the Hon Majority Leader to consider giving Hon Members of Parliament and parliamentary staff some drills, so that we know what to do and where to converge safely when there is trouble in this House.
The final intervention.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I rise to find out from the Hon Leader of the House when I would have access to my office on the 10th floor in the Tower Block. Mr Speaker, since the near disaster, I have not had space to work and to dispense my responsibilities to the good people of Builsa South and to this august House. As I speak to you, I have been told that work is going on at our section of the 10th floor, and my office has been assessed by some of the workers. In the light of recent developments, I would want to know when I would have access to my office and if I could be assured that gadgets would not be planted in my office -- [Laughter] -- after work is completed. Mr Speaker, my second issue has to do with a number of questions that have come up regarding the fact that Questions admitted by your good self and advertised for which we prepare to come and hear the responses and to pose our follow-up questions have tended to disappear on the days so advertised and designated. Mr Speaker, the last Business Statement ending 28th July, 2017, had slated me to ask three Questions regarding matters to do with communication in my humble Constituency, Builsa South. As I look at the current Business Statement, not even one of those Questions which were advertised has been slated to be responded to. I would want a justification and explanation as to why this is the case. Thank you, Mr Speaker. I see my senior Colleague smiling at me.
Any comment from the Minority Leadership? Then the Hon Majority Leader would respond.
Mr Speaker, Hon Yieleh Chireh's questions relating to the Minister for Finance and the programme that we had to meet the Minister for Finance in Committee, I indicated last week that, when the Speaker referred the matter to Leadership to confer with the Minister, officers and officials from the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), apparently the Finance Committee had also programmed to do the same thing, and in order not to be repetitive, when the Finance Committee met the two outfits, I indicated to them that we shall adopt their Report and present same to the Committee. So, we are awaiting the Report from the Finance Committee upon meeting the Minister for Finance and the officials from GRA, and we would jointly submit it to the Committee of the Whole. I believe it is imperative, as some others have reminded, that we have a Committee of the Whole meeting next week.
that outstanding matter, we have not really found space to deal with it, but we must certainly deal with it before we adjourn, I agree. The Hon Minority Leader is now up north attending to issues relating to floods in his constituency and Tamale in general. He indicates to me that he is going to attend the funeral of the mother of the former Majority Leader and Defence Minister, Benjamin Kunbuor. I am not sure when he would avail himself here, either Monday or Tuesday. Whenever he appears, we would join efforts and see to prosecute this. I believe it is imperative and good for the image of this House that we are able to deal with it before we adjourn. Mr Speaker, the fire incident and briefing, I spoke about it last week and was assured that the Report from the Service would occasion a Joint Caucus meeting for the Fire Service personnel to come and brief us about what caused the fire and what to do, as Hon Agbodza related to. Mr Speaker, fire drills are essential to the survival of Hon Members in the event of any serious fire outbreak. I agree with him. We need to get this, but unfortunately, they have not got back to me. Again, I believe that we should certainly be able to close that chapter before we adjourn, and if need be, if we have to go through the fire drills upon re- convening, we would be able to do that, but we need to be told what really caused the fire. Mr Speaker, Hon Okudzeto relates to the Mid-year Review, and says that it is late in the year to have it. Mr Speaker, a mid-year review is a mid- year review. It must be able to cover the period between January and June, but as my Hon Colleague knows, getting statistics is always very difficult in this country. I am not sure whether if it comes at the end of July, we would be able to have all the vital statistics for the month of June to feed them into the mid-year review. We have had occasions where Mid- Year Reviews have even come in September in this House, but that is not to repeat a bad precedent, but it has all to do with the availability of statistics. That is why we have brought it to Monday. Mr Speaker, indeed, some of my Hon Colleagues even said that it should be done on Tuesday, but I resisted it. I said that we would need some time to interrogate it. So at least, the worst case scenario should be on Monday and that is why we would have it on that day. Mr Speaker, we shall all work to improve on the situation next time, except that if it has to come on perhaps, June ending, then certainly, we would deal with April figures and not May figures. Mr Speaker, yet, we happen to interrogate the performance of a Government that brought its own budget, which was approved in March. If we left it to May, effectively, we would be dealing with just two months -- April and May, which would not be the best of a review. Mr Speaker, that is for that. Mr Speaker, with respect to Questions disappearing, nobody conjures that the Questions should disappear. Really, the Table Officers would touch base with the various sector Ministers, and when some of them write to them about their inability to attend to the House, they advise themselves to remove those Questions from the Order Paper. Mr Speaker, sometimes the Table Office informs me and I get to know. I keep telling my Hon Colleagues that they should inform me, perhaps concurrent to informing the Table Office. Mr Speaker, sometimes, I do not have the communication and so it is not purposed to keep Hon Members who submit their Questions in darkness. Mr Speaker, I, however, agree that for best practice, the Hon Member who asked the Question should be informed ahead of time and the explanation also be given to him or her that it is for this that for which the Hon Minister may not be able to attend upon the House. Mr Speaker, after all, when a Question is asked and Answers are provided, they are not meant to satisfy only the person who perhaps asked the Question, it is meant for the elucidation of all of us, and indeed, for the entirety of the country. Mr Speaker, maybe, we may have to improve on the dissemination of our information. Mr Speaker, the Hon Patrick Boamah wants a comprehensive Report to be submitted by the House Committee and he wants an assurance, even before the Committee meets. Mr Speaker, I hope that there would not be any force majeure to prevent that meeting from happening. If it does happen, then what he expects would be accomplished. As for his invitation to have tea, I decline that respectfully. Mr Speaker, sometimes I am not too sure of the intrigues of the Hon Boamah, so I would not follow him to take tea, but if he would want to follow me to take tea in my room, then I would oblige. Mr Speaker, on the Committee of the Whole to discuss other matters other than what I have related to, I believe it is important. We thought we would do it, but we did not officially announce it in the Business Statement. I believe we perhaps should have. Mr Speaker, I should think it should be possible for us to have the Committee of the Whole Meeting on Tuesday. It was one of the reasons we decided to have the Tuesday Sitting at 10.00 a. m. So it should be possible. Mr Speaker, to the Hon Hajia Laadi who asked about outstanding Questions, I believe that the prescription would be the same as I offered, to apprise herself of Standing Order 66. Mr Speaker, the Hon Apaak would want to know when his office would be opened? I believe the fire officers would let us know exactly when, and if every safety measure has been resorted to. Mr Speaker, the Hon Apaak describes his constituency as a very humble constituency, but I do not know what he implies by that. I know that he could be a humble personality, but with a humble
Thank you very much. Hon Members, certain important issues regarding Questions should be made very clear. The first task is that, indeed, it is the Hon Speaker who determines sheer admissibility. That is one. Hon Members should take into account matters springing from Standing Order 67 to see whether it is not a Statement, whether it is not frivolous, vexatious, whether it abuses our rules and whether it is not scandalous. It should be about all those issues that Hon Members would find easily in Standing Order 67. When the Hon Speaker has determined that it does not offend any rule, the Speaker then passes it on, and it is recorded in the Questions Record Book, et cetera. Hon Members, the second phase is then triggered, which is purely administrative. Therefore, the Table Office -- and the Questions Record Book is the appropriate place for any Hon Member to follow up and ensure -- I said this the last time. It is the place for an Hon Member to indeed track his or her Question accordingly. You would realise that a Question may also be affected by subsequent developments. The kind of situation that lawyers see as a novus actus interveniens To wit: something new may have intervened” and administratively, the Question may be put on hold or whatever. So, in these circumstances, the Questions Record Book at the Table Office should be able to give you a good track of the Question involved and if anything holds it up, you would be able to find out what it is. Hon Members, this is very crucial for your guidance. What is more? We all know the number of weeks we have in any particular Meeting. At the moment, every Question that does not offend a rule has been admitted, but it is a matter also of time. Notably, Standing Order 60 (2) gives us one hour for Question time except in exceptional circumstances. So, we must be mindful of relevant developments in this regard. You would like to note that today, we have eight Questions that we should deal with within that one hour. What happens? Should we cut the time? Should we allow Hon Members to go on without any limitation, and how do we then have eight Questions answered in one hour as our rules say? These are the challenges that face us and which we must honestly address our minds to, then it becomes clear that no one stops anyone from asking a Question. We either shorten the time a bit -- whether it is a Leader's participation or otherwise, we just do not allow the Questions -- Two a day or one a day. These limitations are very crucial for Hon Members to address their minds to, so as to allow the relevant rules to be followed and at the same time, allow Hon Members, as much as possible, to ask their Questions. I believe this is very important, and the balance must be such that, even new Hon Members would have their Questions asked as their constituents would expect. So, mindful of this balance, let us all therefore act accordingly and we would be able to maximise the time, and also be fair and balanced in our participation. Thank you. Hon Members, I would want to change the order of Business.
Mr Speaker, I am sorry I could not catch your eye earlier. I just wanted to add to the Business Statement that I presented, that my attention has been drawn to the fact that you have admitted an Urgent Question on Energy. I understand there are some Urgent Questions. I would want to assure Hon Members that if they are admitted by Mr Speaker, we shall find ways of programming them in the course of the week, so we could dispense with those Urgent Questions before the House rises. Mr Speaker, that is the information that I wanted to add to the presentation of the Business Statement.
Hon Majority Leader, is it possible for us to proceed with the Business listed at the Commencement of Public Business -- Presentation of Papers, if those Businesses are ready for pursuit?
Mr Speaker, by your leave, the order of Business set out in the Order Paper could be altered on any particular day and that is provided for by Standing Order 53 (2). So, if you would have to do it, you can.
I definitely know that. But Hon Majority Leader, I have changed my mind. I have seen that the Hon Minister for Foreign Affairs is conspicuously present, despite schedules home and abroad and I would rather go on to Question time. Item numbered 4 -- Questions. Hon Minister for Foreign Affairs, if you may take the relevant seat. Hon Member for Builsa North, if you may ask the Question starred *75.
Mr Speaker, I have the permission of the Hon Member for Builsa North to ask the Hon Minister for Foreign Affairs what steps are being taken -- [Interruption] with your permission, Mr Speaker --
Hon Member, you may proceed.
MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS
If I may say in advance, two supplementary questions to be asked so that we would be able to go through the entire agenda. Otherwise, by the time the one hour is exhausted, you may have reached Question number three and we would move ahead by the rules. Hon Member, you may go on.
Mr Speaker, I would want the Hon Minister to tell the House whether Country Reports have been submitted to the United Nations (UN) since depositing the instrument of ratification of the Arms Trade Treaty and when the reporting was done. It is the obligation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to do that.
Mr Speaker, following from the Hon Minister's Answer to the Question, a Question would be filed appropriately on the implementation of Ghana's obligation under the Treaty for the attention and necessary action of the Hon Minister for the Interior. I, therefore, do not have any further questions in this regard.
Hon Members, any other questions? [Pause.] If there are no other questions -- the Leaderships of the Majority and Minority?
Mr Speaker, I do not have any question, except to observe that, when the Hon Minister indicated that it is the Ministry of the Interior that remains the frontline Ministry for the implementation of the obligations under this Treaty, it meant that Standing Order 62 (1) should apply. This is because she does not have the direct remit and she has told us that. So, no question would then ensue, which the Hon Minister could answer. Mr Speaker, I am happy that the Hon Member who said he had the power of attorney to ask the Question declined to ask further Questions. So, we could go to the next Question.
Hon Member for North Tongu -- Question listed as 76 on the Order Paper. Position of the Government on the hosting of the Guantanamo Bay detainees *76. Mr Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the current position of the Government of Ghana on Ghana's hosting of the two Guantanamo Bay detainees in the wake of the recent Supreme Court decision.
Mr Speaker, as it has been indicated by the Hon Minister for Foreign Affairs, I have a copy of the judgement of the Supreme Court of 22nd June, 2017, which indicates that the Government had two options -- either to seek ratification or to return the two Guantanamo Bay detainees. Is the Hon Minister able to tell us, based on paragraph three of her Answer on page eight of the Order Paper, about a Cabinet meeting to assess or to seek approval from the memorandum her Ministry submitted.
Hon Member, for clarification, please read that portion of the judgement.
Mr Speaker, paragraph three of her Answer on page eight of the Order Paper reads, and I quote: “Pursuant thereto, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs submitted a Memorandum to Cabinet and obtained Executive Approval to lay the Agreement before Parliament for ratification.” Mr Speaker, is the Hon Minister able to tell us the --
Mr Speaker, to make matters simpler, the Hon Minister states in paragraph two of her Answer that, and with your permission, I beg to quote: “Consequently, the Court ordered the Government to submit the Agreement to Parliament for ratification within three (3) months of the date of the Order, failing which the two (2) former detainees shall be returned to the Government of the United States of America.”
If that is so, then you must comply with item (i) before you go to item (ii). If you do not comply with (i), then it would trigger (ii) to happen. So, it cannot be presented as if there is a choice between two things so that it would be very clear to the House. It is not like one must do this or do that. It is that, one must do this, but if it is not done, then it would trigger a consequence, which is (ii). Just make it clear so that it could be answered. Hon Member, do you get it clear? So, help the House.
Mr Speaker, reading from page 15 of the Judgement, if I am obliged, the current Chief Justice S. A. Akuffo, who read the majority decision stated, and with your permission, I beg to quote: “Consequently, we hold that, upon a true and proper interpretation of article 75 of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana, the President of the Republic of Ghana, in agreeing to the transfer of Mahmud Umar Muhammed Bin Atef and Khalid Muhammad Salih Al-Dhuby to the Republic of Ghana, required the ratification by an Act of Parliament, or a resolution of Parliament supported by the votes of more than one-half of all the members of Parliament, and by virtue of the failure to obtain such ratification the agreement is unconstitutional.” Mr Speaker, this is the conclusion of the Judgement as was presented by the Majority. Mr Speaker, my understanding of the judgement is that, an option was available to the Government of the day, based on this declaration by the Supreme Court to return the two detainees if they so decided. That was very much within their purview. So, my first question is that, is the Hon Minister able to state clearly before this House what the Cabinet decision is? Is it the decision now that these two detainees would remain in Ghana? Mr Speaker, I am grateful.
Hon Members, if you understand the order of the court, it says that they should bring that to Parliament and the court gave a clear direction that they should come of a ratification process or by way a resolution to ratify. Hon Member, any other question? Hon Okudzeto, you may continue.
Mr Speaker, my second question has to do with official Statements. I would quote from two official Statements. The first one is a public statement issued by H. E. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, at the time he was the flagbearer of the New Patriotic Party on April 16, 2016 under the caption: “AKUFO-ADDO WAS NEVER ‘CONSULTED' ABOUT TRANSFER OF GITMO-2 DETAINEES”. Paragraph 2 of the statement reads: “According to the story captioned “Nana Addo was consulted before GITMO 2 Transfer - US”, the new US Ambassador to Ghana, Robert Jackson, in a meeting with some editors on Friday, April 15, is alleged to have said that the “Minister for Foreign Affairs and this Embassy consulted about informing other stakeholders, and so we did talk to Akufo-Addo before the transfer happened. These statements by the Ambassador, therefore, create the impression that Nana Akufo-Addo was “consulted” and thereby had foreknowledge of the transfer of the Gitmo-2 detainees. For the avoidance of doubt, we would like to reiterate our earlier stated position that, at no point during the transaction between the two Governments was Nana Akufo- Addo consulted, and the facts of the matter speak clearly for themselves.”
Hon Ablakwa, a moment. Yes, Hon Member?
I would respectfully yield to the Hon Majority Leader since he was on his feet.
Mr Speaker, first of all, the question that my Hon Colleague is purporting to be asking, infringes on our rules. Standing Order 67 (1) (g) provides: “a Question shall not refer to more than one subject and shall not be of excessive length”. Mr Speaker, for two minutes, Hon Ablakwa has been winding and nobody knows where he is going. That is number one. Secondly, Standing Order 69 would also suggest to the Hon Member that: “As soon as a Question is answered in the House any Member beginning with the Member who asked the Question may, without notice, ask a supplementary Question for the further elucidation of any matter of fact regarding which the answer has been given, but a supplementary Question must not be used to introduce matter not included in the Original Question.”
I am grateful, Mr Speaker. Fortunately, I had a very good English teacher in basic school who taught me summary, so I shall comply accordingly.
Is that in conformity with what I am directing now?
Yes, Mr Speaker. It conforms. I do not know why the Hon Majority Leader is uncomfortable with this question.
Hon Member, if your teacher did not teach you what is coterminous with what I said, then he was wrong. Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I would not have gotten up, except that he made a statement that he had a very good English teacher. He asked the Question on the Order Paper to, as I understand, the Hon Minister for Foreign Affairs.
Mr Speaker, I thought that the Hon Majority Leader was concerned about my being too excessive and wanted me to summarise. I called her ‘Foreign Minister' instead of Minister for Foreign Affairs and he is worried about that. My second question, in summary, is that, the good people of this country are aware of the position the New Patriotic Party (NPP) took when the National Democratic Congress (NDC) at that time, entered into this Agreement. We would like to know if that position has changed. This is because in a January 13, 2016, press statement by the NPP, addressed by Nana Akomea, it was stated, and with your permission, I quote: “The widespread hysteria and phobia over the former Guantanamo Bay detainees --”
Hon Member for North Tongu, the nexus is not drawn from the Hon Minister's Answer. Otherwise, we would have campaign statements as the issues before the House. You are off tangent and may ask another question.
Mr Speaker was kinder to me when he was my Sunday School Teacher. I miss those days. [Laughter.] Let me within the narrow confines provided, ask the Hon Minister for Foreign Affairs if the exact Agreement that was entered into by the former Government is the same Agreement that she is bringing to the House or she has renegotiated with the Unites States of America (USA) authorities?
Mr Speaker, under the law of Treaties, a note verbale is an Agreement. The question is, according to the Hon
“…the Court ordered the Government to submit the Agreement to Parliament for ratification within three (3) months of the date of the Order, failing which the two (2) former detainees shall be returned to the Government of the United States of America.”
Hon Members, when a court gives an order, there are two issues. One, the order may say, “do this or do that” then the court may or may not bring out the consequences of failing to comply. Here, the court gave the order and also gave an indication on the consequences. The order is being followed by going to Parliament and that is the end of that matter. The respect to the court is to comply with the directive, “go to Parliament”. Hon Members, please, understand that clearly and you would find out that there is no difficulty by way of primarily obliging as to the order made, which is “go to Parliament”, and it has been decided that, to Parliament we go.
Mr Speaker, I want to know if the Hon Minister would agree with me that the Government is simply being law abiding by forwarding to Parliament whatever Agreement the previous Government purported to have raised with the American Government, which the court has declared as unconstitutional for failure to bring it to Parliament and the decision whether the detainees would remain in Ghana or not, is to be decided by Parliament.
Hon Members of Parliament, there is an order and an action is being taken. If anybody feels there is an ambiguity, that person may go to the Supreme Court -- and we would not belabour this question.
Hon Members, I would allow two more questions.We are on the second Question and we have exhausted half of the time provided by our rules. Now, the Hon Members would see the difficulty of the person presiding if you all want to give speeches. I would allow one more question from each side of the aisle.
Mr Speaker, it is obvious that the Government has decided to present the Agreement to Parliament for ratification. I would want to find out from the Hon Minister whether she took into consideration the conduct of the two detainees since their presence in Ghana and whether they have been of good behaviour in deciding to present the Agreement to Parliament for ratification. Mr Speaker, I believe the Hon Minister did not hear my question.
Hon Member, it is for our guidance that I asked Hon Ablakwa to read from the judgement. There is no indication of any assessment to be made on the conduct or otherwise before bringing this to Parliament. Hon Member, your question is overruled.
Mr Speaker, I would want to find out from the Hon Minister the position of Government. This is because when we read the judgement there are two things -- they either bring it or they go. Mr Speaker, I would want to know what informed -- ?
Hon Member, that is why I have kept on explaining -- we do not have a choice of two. It does not say we should do this or that -- But if we fail, it would trigger something else. The failure and the trigger does not make it two. It is only that and if you do not get that clear --
Hon Member, you may ask your question.
Mr Speaker, I would want to find out from the Hon Minister whether it is the case that after Parliament has ratified the Agreement they would no longer pose a security threat to us?
Hon Minority Leadership? Hon Members, Order!
Mr Speaker, I would want to find out from the Hon Minister whether she has submitted enough copies of the Agreement that was laid yesterday to the House?
Hon Members, if the Hon Minister says she has submitted 300 copies, you are entitled to verify or enquire from the appropriate quarters. If we make this other kind of thing our conduct in this House, we do not uplift the House -- we debase it. I would advise that we should be cautious. Hon Minority Leadership?
Hon Leadership of the Majority, any question?
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister has informed us that, the terms from the Supreme Court read that government should submit the Agreement to Parliament for ratification within three months of the date of the order, failing which the two former detainees shall be returned to the Government of the United States of America. That is what she said.
Mr Speaker, a Treaty that is executed by a President on behalf of the country shall be subject to ratification by an Act of Parliament or a Resolution of Parliament, supported by the votes of more than one half of all the Members of Parliament as provided by article 75. Mr Speaker, is the Hon Minister by this exercise that she is doing, leaving the pronouncement on what to do with the detainees in the hands of Parliament or not?
Hon Minister, thank you for attending upon the House and answering our Questions. You are discharged for now. It will look as if we may not be able to go beyond Question listed 55. So, in future, we would know why Questions keep on piling up and appreciate the progress that we have made of late. We have been having so many questions answered which we do not appreciate sometimes. Hon Members, Question number ed 55 — Hon Minister for Health? In the process, the Hon First Deputy Speaker would take the Chair.
Mr Speaker, I am informed that national duty has taken the substantive Minister for Health outside Ghana. The indication that was given to me was that, a Deputy Minister at the Ministry, Hon Kingsley Aboagye-Gyedu was to be the one to answer the Question.
Hon Majority Leader, do you stand on a point of order, or you are not standing?
Mr Speaker, I am on a point of order. Mr Speaker, I know the issue that the Hon Chief Whip for the Minority is going to raise. Mr Speaker, I am aware of the issue that he wants to raise. We have agreed on it, except I would pray him to tarry a while. I invite him to look at Standing Orders 72 and 73. Mr Speaker, Standing Orders 72 and 73 deal with the time appointed for complaint of contempt of Parliament. Mr Speaker indicated to us that he was taking four Statements, and the Hon Minority Chief Whip was with us at the pre-Sitting, so, we are not yet there. We would listen to him, and insofar as they relate to Hon Members of Parliament, all of us should show concern. But if he may -- I guess he would tarry a while. He should let us get there and then —
Hon Members, in fact, I am very accommodating, but our practices require that Leaders should consult in certain relevant ways — I want to put it very carefully. And I believe it is only that which sometimes creates certain unnecessary problems. If the Hon Majority Leader and the Hon Minority Chief Whip had simply put their heads together, this matter could have gone on without any hitch. Hon Majority Leader, I would just ask for your obliging, for the Hon Minority Chief Whip to say that which you already know about.
Mr Speaker, if I must assist him, we would now have to seek your leave, under Standing Order 53 (2) to vary the Business as set out in the Order Paper. That is what I expected him to do. And in that regard, I will beg leave of you, that we vary the order of Business to enable the Hon Minority Chief Whip to raise the issue that he wants to raise.
Hon Minority Chief Whip, please, raise the issue that we all already know of. THEAMERI (LLC) ISSUE Causing financial loss to the State
Mr Speaker, I may not know the reason for the invitation extended to our Hon Colleagues by the Criminal Investigations Department of the Ghana Police Service.
“No civil or criminal process coming from any court or place out of Parliament shall be served on, or executed in relation to, Mr. Speaker or a Member or the Clerk to Parliament while he is on his way to, attending at or returning from any proceedings of Parliament.” Mr Speaker, indeed, this provision in the Standing Orders is fortified by article 117 of our Constitution which I may want to read with your indulgence. Article 117 of the 1992 Constitution provides and with your permission, I quote: “Civil or criminal process coming from any court or place out of Parliament shall not be served on, or executed in relation to, the Speaker or a member or the Clerk to Parliament while he is on his way to, attending at or returning from, any proceedings of Parliament”. Mr Speaker, Hon Members of Parliament have ever been impeded and been arrested on their way from Parliament and that cannot be allowed to continue. If they happened in the past and people groaned, they cannot be allowed to happen now. What was wrong yesterday is equally wrong today and we should protect the privileges of Hon Members of Parliament in our collectivity. That is the reason why I would want to lend my weight to the request by Hon Colleague, the Majority Chief Whip -- [Hear! Hear!] [Laughter] -- Mr Speaker, the certificate of Mr Speaker as contained in our Standing Orders, that an Hon Member in this case is attending to the proceedings of Parliament shall be conclusive evidence of attendance. It is the reason we are asking that you would invoke your authority to protect Hon Members of Parliament on their way from Parliament and attending to the business of Parliament. Mr Speaker, we are told that this communication to the Hon Members involved, I would want to believe, was predicated on the fact that we have never sat on a Monday this Meeting; that may perhaps be the reason. Mr Speaker, be it as may, to the extent that this morning, Parliament has agreed
Thank you very much, Hon Majority Leader. It is clear that the House has got the same view point on this matter. And in fact, it is notable that this was brought to my attention this morning by the Hon Minority Chief Whip. In fact, it was the reason we took a little more time entering. There was no hesitation whatsoever, in admitting this and allowing the Hon Minority Leader to draw the attention of the House formally to this matter. It is a matter that concerns Parliament as an institution, and we take a serious view of the matter. We are not prejudicing anything whatsoever at this stage, but we know the obvious reference to our own Standing Orders and the Constitution with regard to an Hon Member on his or her way to Parliament; while in Parliament; or leaving Parliament. It is also notable that in several jurisdictions, the Courts have made a very generous extension to matters relating to going to, being in, or coming from Parliament. And this Honourable House would continue to be very mindful of its privileges in this regard, so that it should be maximised and not minimised in any manner whatsoever. It is also true, nevertheless, that no one is excluded from being invited to assist the Police in investigations. We note immediately, with some reasonable satisfaction at this stage that, there is supposed to be a Court Order in this direction. The Leadership would want to ascertain really whether this legal process was also followed? Soon after Sitting I will call the appropriate authorities to my office and demand that the Hon Members involved are handled with the appropriate decorum coterminous with their office as Hon Members of Parliament -- [Hear! Hear!!] -- This our official intervention would demand that no frustration, no harassment is meted out to any Hon Member of Parliament in a way that would, in any manner or whatsoever, impede the dignity of any Hon Member or the exercise of any
MR FIRST DEPUTY SPEAKER
Hon Member, you have the floor.
Grateful, Mr Speaker, for giving me the opportunity to make this Statement on the floor of the House, drawing attention to a very serious phenomenon that is limiting productivity at workplaces and unnecessarily taking the attention of a large chunk of our populace. I am referring to the craze for Latin American, Indian, and Chinese telenovelas or soap operas. Mr Speaker, it has become a very common phenomenon these days that usually, between the hours of 7.00 and 10.00 p.m., virtually every major activity in our homes comes to a standstill, except the watching of television. Families gather around Television sets to watch. Those without TV sets crowd the corridors and windows of those who have to watch these soap operas. In the markets and on the streets, traders move away from their stalls to the closest possible place to watch programmes. Obviously, this is not a new phenomenon. In the 1980s and 90s-/and even recently in the early parts of the 2000s, there were television entertainment programmes such as Osofo Dadzie and Obra which were screened on our television sets. Mr Speaker, these were screened on weekends, precisely on Sunday evenings with rich life teaching lessons that were gained from viewing such contents. School children had their lessons, married couples learnt lessons and even the unemployed in society also had their positive share of making their lives productive. Indeed, our rich culture and best lifestyles and practices as a society were depicted through such drama series. Today the situation is different! The world of technology has advanced and TV sets are now virtually in every home and pragrammes aired by these stations give a cause for worry. Mr Speaker, no doubt that over the last two decades, these American and Asian telenovelas have gradually become tasty products for Ghanaians from all walks of life. Virtually all the private commercial TV stations have ridden on the back of such content to expand their markets and popularise their channels. As 7.00 p.m. approaches, you would see market women pack up their items in a rush to leave. Students who are supposed to be working on their homework assignments, pack up to seek for the nearest TV set to sit by. Office workers will sometimes leave the workplace early enough just to be home by the time these telenovelas start. No one wants to miss the action. The even more dangerous trend emerging these days is that, apart from showing them in the evening, such telenovelas are repeated on major national television channels in the course of the day; right from morning through to afternoon. They call it the ‘omnibus repeat' which sees the replay of lengthy episodes of these telenovelas in the course of the day. Mr Speaker, when you walk into government offices, hospitals, offices in educational institutions, receptions of hotels and private business premises at the times when such contents are being shown, all you see are people fixed in front of their television sets watching and enjoying these telenovelas, particularly the very popular Kumkum Bhagya. Mr Speaker, as a Deputy Minister for Employment and Labour Relations, I am concerned that this is negatively affecting productivity at work and by extension, has the potential to negatively affect our GDP as a nation. Sometimes, it gets even worse than the above. When a nurse in the hospital gets too comfortable in the couch enjoying scenes of exchanges in Kumkum Bhagya, that endangers the lives of her patients. When parents shirk their responsibilities to help their children get their homework done and re-focus energy on a telenovela scene; that is a danger to the future of their children. This should not happen, Mr Speaker. A study by researchers at the Standford University has shown, and with your permission, I quote: “people who are regularly bom- barded with several streams of electronic information, particularly TV, do not pay attention whilst working… Multitasking in the form of watching TV whilst working is obviously counterproductive”. In fact, in the US, estimates by human resource firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas have shown that the opening of the National Basketball season cost employers US$4 billion in revenue loss last year as a result of workers across the country being “distracted” watching the games instead of focusing on their work. In Ghana as I speak, there are no figures to back how much the fixation on telenovelas is costing our country. But I have no doubt in my mind that, showing these telenovelas, particularly during working hours is negatively impacting productivity. We need to find a way to check that. Mr Speaker, as an Hon Member of Parliament and a lawyer, I appreciate the combined import of articles 12 (1) and 14(1) on fundamental human rights and freedoms, therefore, how difficult it would be to legislate against people deciding to watch these contents. For the television stations that broadcast these contents, it's an issue of profiteering, because they also need the revenue inflows to stay in business. Indeed, Mr Speaker, it is easier getting sponsorship from corporate institutions for Kumkum Bhagya than getting sponsorship for Mathematics or Science quizzes, this is unfortunate! However, I believe it is about time that institutions like the National Media Commission assess the situation and came out with firm directives to Media houses to define clearly thought through times
There are two more Statements and since this is a straightforward comment, I would not admit anymore discussions on this matter. I would invite the Hon Member of Parliament for Sagnarigu. Yesterday, he was invited to make his Statement but he was not in the House, but this Statement is such an urgent occurrence. So, I would give him another chance. Hon Member, please, make your Statement on the Tamale floods.
Thank you. I believe that this is also informational but I see the Hon Minister for Works and Housing and so, I would give him a small window because we have an assignment at 3.00 o'clock and the Leadership must meet. Hon Minister for Works and Housing (Mr Samuel A. Akyea) (MP): Mr Speaker, I would take this opportunity and I would not be too long. Indeed, in Ghana, we face very serious crises and the crises are not just in Accra or Kwame Nkrumah Circle where because of the rain-induced floods, we have the yearly ritual of flooding. Mr Speaker, all over the country, we have serious drainage challenges everywhere and I do not know how it started -- maybe, the colonial Government thought that we would never grow. So, our sewage arrangements were not taken seriously in terms of time and population size. And given our haphazard way of building and others, we have come to a point that if we do not find good money -- Mr Speaker, with respect , I wish to repeat ‘good money' -- To do serious drainage systems then these problems would be there. That is the challenge. Mr Speaker, these engineering arrangements are not cheap; they require huge capital outlay. If we want to do modern drainage systems then we would be talking about underground drainage and this is what would alleviate situations like mosquitos breeding and the odours in some places in Accra. Mr Speaker, I would not want to pollute this august House, but sometimes raw faeces come through the city because the sewage system is not what is expected of us. If we compare and measure against some of the countries that we have been to, we would ask that why is it that they do not have the sense of gutters because it is antiquated to deal with gutters. Every sewage is underground and the techno- logy now is that this august House could be here but we could have Israeli technology where the sewage could go under this huge edifice and get to a well- defined destination with good sanitation results for everybody. Mr Speaker, so, my heart goes out to the good people of Tamale and what they have gone through. I am reliably informed that NADMO is waking up to the challenges and I have also linked up with them that they should seriously do an immediate work for them. Mr Speaker, but in the long run, we should do our very best to allocate resources in the area of modern drainage systems where we could have a permanent solution to what is happening. There is nowhere in the world that we would not have rains -- there would be rains everywhere but what they have done and which has given them permanent solutions is that they would not have rain-induced floods because the appropriate engineering technology has been put in place and whenever there is flooding, it goes down and to the right places. Mr Speaker, some even harvest these rains for agricultural purposes. Mr Speaker, so, we are far behind in terms of technology, and I know that we are committed to starting a very serious top-notched and world class drainage system. The attendant cost might be frightening, but we should start. I thank you, Mr Speaker, for your indulgence.
I pledged that we would not discuss the Statement today. Hon Members from Tamale, the Hon Member who made the Statement said you all supported him, and I am sure you did. So, I would plead that we bring -- There are some Papers to be laid. After that, I would bring proceedings to an end because a programme is going on which all the Leaders must be part. As you could see, they have all abandoned the House, leaving me alone to manage. So, I would plead with you that since this is good information, it should be sufficient for its purpose. I believe we have some Papers to present, if they are ready. Item numbered 6, by the Hon Chairman of the Committee.
Hon available Leader, any indication?
Mr Speaker, I believe we have exhausted most of the activities on the Order Paper for today. Looking at the mood of the House, today being a Friday, I am sure most of our Hon Members would want to go to their constituencies. That being the case, I move for the adjournment of the House.
Hon available Leader on the Minority side?
Mr Speaker, as rightly said, today is Friday, so, I second the Motion for adjournment. Question put and Motion agreed to.