VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS AND THE OFFICIAL REPORT
Hon Members, Correction o f Votes and Proceedings dated 1 st August, 2017. Page 1…14 --
Hon Member, are you on your feet?
Yes, Mr Speaker. Sorry, Mr Speaker, I would want to take you back to page 8. I see on page 8, number 25, Elizabeth Afoley Quaye, Hon Member for Krowor. Mr Speaker, she was in the House yesterday, but she has been marked absent. Thank you.
Thank you very much. Page 15…18--
Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I got up a bit earlier, but I was not able to catch your eye. Mr Speaker, I refer to page 17, item listed as 14, and the referral that you made. After the Hon Member for Adansi Asokwa, Mr Kobina Tahir Hammond had moved a Motion and the Motion had been seconded, you referred the issues contained in the Motion to the Committee on Mines and Energy for consideration and report. Mr Speaker, you did not refer the Motion to the Committee. Clearly, that is what the Speaker said, and it is borne out by the Hansard.
Hon Members, a person who wants to contribute would get up and contribute at the appropriate time. I must say that we must prevent things that look rowdy, and when I say that, it is not that I want to treat anybody like a schoolboy, but that there must be decorum in this Honourable House. Hon Majority Leader?
So, Mr Speaker, I would like the appropriate correction to be effected to the referral that was made, just that.
Mr Speaker, I listened to the Hon Majority Leader. I believe that your referral yesterday to the Committee on Mines and Energy was the Motion which was moved by the Hon Member that you referred to the Committee to work on and report back to the House. Mr Speaker, I did not hear you, and I believe Hon Members did not hear you say that you were referring the contents of the Motion to the Committee to work on. It was the Motion that you referred to the Committee. If the Hon Majority Leader wants that correction to be done, that should be the content but not the Motion, then he should come clear; but what you did yesterday was to refer the Motion to the Committee.
Hon Minority Leader? Hon Minority Leader? Sorry, Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I was waiting for the name of Majority Leader to be mentioned, not Minority Leader. Mr Speaker, as I said, it would be borne out by the Hansard. I do not want to further litigate this, even though the value is about the same. I heard differently, so, we would look forward to the Hansard when it is produced.
As the Hon Majority Leader said, the essence was clearly captured. Pages 19. . . 25. Hon Members, the Votes and Proceedings of Tuesday, 1st August, 2017 as corrected stand part of the record and represents a true picture of proceedings. Hon Majority Leader, can we take the Urgent Question listed as item numbered 3?
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister is here, so, we can take the Urgent Question now.
Hon Minister for Roads and Highways, you may please take the appropriate seat.
MINISTRY OF ROADS AND
Mr Speaker, before I answer this Question, I would like to make this preliminary remark. This Question came to my attention just this morning, even though I was sounded yesterday, but because of the high regard and respect I have for this House and Mr Speaker, I am here to answer it. Background The bridge is a 67.5 m - span Universal Bailey Bridge over river Tamane. It is located in the Garu Tempane District. The bridge links Garu Tempane District and Bawku Municipal. It was constructed nine (9) years ago. On the 14th of July 2017, the bridge superstructure collapsed at midspan due to the excessive impact of an overloaded 7-axle articulated truck. Current programme The Hon Minister for Roads and Highways, the Director of Bridges and the Manager, Bridge Maintenance Unit of the
Mr Speaker, I would want the Hon Minister to tell us when in 2018, and how long it would take to construct the bridge?
Mr Speaker, I did indicate that we have invited bids from the appropriate contractors with the required competence and expertise to undertake the construction of the bridge. Mr Speaker, because of the state in which it is now, we would have to go through a process -- the bridge would have to be decamped. Repair works would take place and then we would re-camp it. Mr Speaker, it would be done as soon as we get bids and we select the appropriate contractor. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Hon Members, order!
Mr Speaker, there are some challenges with that road. The road is not in the best of shape. Mr Speaker, I would want to know whether the Hon Minister would consider improving on the alternative route that the commuters would be using until the construction of the Bridge.
Mr Speaker, I did indicate in my Answer that I visited the site of the collapsed bridge on the 19th of July, 2017 with my technical team. Mr Speaker, as part of the visit, it stands to reason that once the bridge has collapsed, an alternative route had to be found for commuters and for vehicular movement. Mr Speaker, the alternative route as aforementioned, was also visited and I agree with the Hon Member that the road was not in a good condition. I therefore gave the necessary instruction to the Regional Director to re-shape it for the comfort of our people. Mr Speaker, as I speak to you now, it has almost been done, and the road is now very smooth for use by the people. Mr Speaker, I thank you.
Yes, Hon Member, your last question.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, the bridge is a steel bridge and as the Hon Minister said, looking at the axle load that passes on that bridge, we would need a more permanent bridge. Mr Speaker, I would therefore want to know from the Hon Minister, whether they would consider constructing a stronger bridge than the one that just collapsed.
Mr Speaker, the bridge in question is a concrete steel depth bridge. It is quite strong to carry any vehicular weight or any axle load. There is nothing wrong with its strength, at least, for use by the people. Mr Speaker, in the future, when funds are available and we decide to build a solidly concrete bridge, then so be it, but what is in place now is strong enough. Mr Speaker, however, let me say at this point, and perhaps for the purpose of our people that Ghanaians must continue to be patriotic to our nation. Mr Speaker, this is because this bridge collapsed not because it was defective or was not strong. Within my Ministry, we realised that it is not only with this particular bridge, but with almost all the bridges across the country, there are a lot of unpatriotic people, who go round cutting the trusses of bridges, removing the bolts and nuts of the bridges. Mr Speaker, if a bridge is constructed and one dismembers parts of the members or components, then obviously, the bridge would fail. Mr Speaker, I would therefore want to use this opportunity to advise our people. The security agencies must be vigilant and indeed, all Ghanaians must also be vigilant. Mr Speaker, if we continue to carry out such unpatriotic practices and people go about removing parts of bridges to sell as scraps, then we would continue to suffer these problems. Mr Speaker, thank you.
Yes, Hon Member?
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, in the Hon Minister's Answer, he said that the bridge was constructed nine years ago. Mr Speaker, after the assessment of the technical people, the Hon Minister did not tell us what caused this bridge, which was constructed nine years ago to collapse. Mr Speaker, I would therefore want to know from the Hon Minister, what caused the collapse of the bridge, which was constructed nine years ago?
Mr Speaker, I believe that I have already given the reasons which led to the collapse of the bridge. Mr Speaker, the reasons are in two fold. I did say that the articulator had overloaded its axle. That was the first one. Mr Speaker, the second one is what I hinted and I used the opportunity to advise our people on, that they should not dismember the components of the steel bridges.
Mr Speaker, I would want the Hon Minister to throw more light on one of the reasons the bridge collapsed, which was due to the fact that like he said, the foundation was a reinforced concrete foundation with the universal beam component, bolted together in many cases. Mr Speaker, is it possible that the rains may have eroded some of the support for the concrete, and that weakened it? Mr Speaker, the loading on it probably just allowed the bridge to collapse, and if that is the case, then is it possible that the new work that would be done would reinforce the foundations well, so that if the river floods, it does not erode and damage the foundation? Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, the bridge, and for that matter, all bailey bridges are well constructed. It is only the activities of unpatriotic people, as I refer to all the time, who remove the bolts and knots that weaken the bridges. So long as the bolts and knots are in place, there is no way any of those bridges will fail and give way to their collapse. I must also add that there is a Bridge Maintenance Unit within the Ministry, headed by a director and competent engineers with the necessary expertise in bridge construction and we do regular and routine checks on the bridges. This is because we know that if any bridge should collapse while there are vehicles plying them, the danger that it poses to our people -- We regularly visit all these bridges and do the necessary maintenance. So, I can assure you that all the bridges across the nation are quite strong and the piers are always fed. If a bridge collapses, it means that it is the super structure that collapses. The piers holding these bailey bridges are always firm and strong. The collapse is only the super structure and it can only collapse if we dismember the parts.
Mr Speaker, in the Hon Minister's response, he itemised two principal reasons that he believes may have contributed to the collapse of the bridge in Garu. Mr Speaker, he spoke about axle Road and pilfering with regard to some unscrupulous and unpatriotic Ghanaians who have been taking bits and pieces from various metal bridges. Mr Speaker, I would want to find out from the Hon Minister what his Ministry is doing to ensure that these two harmful practices do not continue as far as our remaining bridges are concerned.
Mr Speaker, I believe it is a very good question. Whenever there is a problem, we must think through and be proactive and find a solution to it. We have in existence, axle load centres and we have 17 of them across the nation to check axle loads of vehicles. So, that is the first measure, at least, to avoid overloaded axle load vehicles from plying on the bridges. Secondly, it depends upon the total vigilance of all of us including the security agencies that if we sight any of these people who vandalise the bridges, we should bring them out for the courts to deal with them. This is because that is the only way that would serve as a deterrent and bring a halt to this kind of activity. All these people live with us; they live in our homes. So, if they bring these scraps, they do not send them outside the country; they sell them to scrap dealers in our nation. So, unless all of us, individually and collectively, open our eyes and report these unpatriotic practices, regrettably, it would continue and we shall use our nation's scarce resources to repair them. All of us are involved in finding a solution to this problem.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister indicated that there are plans to construct a new bridge there. He visited the site and he would have noticed that just a little ahead, a new dam is coming up -- Tamne irrigation. It is just a few metres away from the bridge. In fact, it is that river that is being held so that the water can be reserved for agricultural purposes. The question is, with the new bridge that they intend to construct, have the engineers factored in the development of the irrigation facility at the site? I just want to draw attention to that.
Mr Speaker, I would say precisely so, because when any job is to be undertaken, whether bridge or road construction, the scope of work has to be defined and in so doing, we take all these things into consideration. So, that would be done. The Hon Member is right. There is a dam coming up and it is very important to the current Government. We have an agenda of one town, one dam. We would want to build a dam for each town -- [Interruption.] Mr Speaker, we have a sizeable settlement there so to that extent, it may not even be one town, one dam; it may be one dam, one settlement. [Laughter.]
Hon Minority Leadership, any question? [Pause.] Hon Minister, that is the end of the Questions for you. Thank you very much for attending to the House and answering our Questions. You are discharged. Hon Members, I would vary the items on the Order Paper and move on to item numbered 6 -- Presentation of Papers. Item numbered 6 (a) -- Hon Chairman of the Committee on Mines and Energy.
Mr Speaker, I was under the impression that item 6 (b)
Are the two Papers ready?
Yes, Mr Speaker, in respect of item 6 (b) (i) and (ii).
Item numbered 6 (b) (i) and (ii) -- by the Hon Chairman of the Finance Committee. By the Hon Chairman of the Finance Committee -- (i) Report of the Finance Committee on the Terms of a Receivables- backed Trade Finance Facility between Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) and a Consortium of Banks and Financial Institutions, with the Govern- ment of the Republic of Ghana as Guarantor, for an amount of up to one billion, three hundred million United States dollars (US$1,300,000,000) for the purchase of Cocoa in Ghana for the 2017/2018 Crop Season. (ii) Report of the Finance Committee on the Request for waiver of stamp duty amounting to up to six million, five hundred thousand United States dollars (US$6,500,000) on the Receiva- bles-backed Trade Finance Facility between Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) and a Consortium of Banks and Financial Institutions, with the Government of the Republic of Ghana as guarantor, for an amount of up to one billion, three hundred million United States dollars (US$1,300,000,000) for the purchase of Cocoa in Ghana for the 2017/2018 Crop Season. Hon Members, item listed 7 -- Motion. Chairman of Committee on Mines and Energy?
Mr Speaker, as agreed, we are going to take item numbered 7, but I am being told that the Report is now being distributed, and because it is being distributed, I think we could go back to Question time. The Hon Minister for the Interior is here with us, so, he could respond to the Question listed as starred 70.
Item number 4. We can come back to Question time and since the Reports are now being distributed, Hon Members could have time to read the Reports while the Hon Minister is responding to the Questions. So, item numbered 4 -- Question starred 70.
Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I should agree with the Hon Majority Leader that you should indulge him and go to Questions since we have the Hon Minister for the Interior to respond to it. You would note that, when you said Chairman of the Committee on Mines and Energy, no one responded to you. One can understand that the Committee's Report is being distributed, which would allow us some opportunity to study it and contribute when the Motion is so moved. I thank you.
Question starred 70, which stands in the name of the Hon Member for North Tongu Constituency.
ORAL ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS
MINISTRY OF THE INTERIOR
Hon Okudzeto Ablakwa?
Most grateful Mr Speaker. My first supplementary question, the Hon Minister for the Interior does not provide any official statistics so that we can benchmark progress. Is the Hon Minister able to share with us official statistics on these matters of insecurity and violence? And I also notice that the measures outlined do not include recruitment. We know that we are still behind the United Nations (UN) Policing Standards of a police population ratio of 1:500. We are
Mr Speaker, may we know from the Hon Colleague, how many Questions he wants to box into one? He should strand out the questions and let the Hon Minister answer.
Mr Speaker, my next question has to do with protecting the men and women in uniform in the line of duty. In recent times, quite a number of our Police Officers have been killed in the line of duty. I would like to find out from the Hon Minister what steps are being taken to protect our men and women in uniform. I refer to the Kintampo case and the Michel Camp case. Only two days ago, there was a Report on GhanaWeb that the Abeka-Lapaz Police Station was attacked by some elements belonging to a group known as the Invisible Forces. Could the Hon Minister tell the House what he is doing to protect our men and women in uniform in the line of duty?
Hon Member, you have had three questions.
No Mr Speaker, this is my third question.
Please, go ahead.
Mr Speaker, as the Ranking Member on your Committee for Foreign Affairs, I am concerned about the travel advisory that is issued and published by Embassies in our country. If you paid attention to the travel advisory of the United States of America (USA), the United Kingdom (UK) and Canada, they all point to growing insecurity. Mr Speaker, if you would allow me to read the Canadian one that was published on May 30, this year, which is still valid as at August 2, today, it reads and I quote:
Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, our asking of Questions in this House is governed by 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, the question that my Hon Colleague asked, reading communications et cetera -- commenting on Questions before they are asked infringes Standing Order 67 (1) (g). Secondly, Standing Order 69 provides that: “. . . a supplementary Question must not be used to introduce matter not included in the Original Question.” Mr Speaker, what he is reading is also not included in the original Question. On the basis of these two Standing Orders, I invite you to rule him out of order. I would request, given what has been happening, for you to make a determination. I am calling for a point of order on this to make a determination before we proceed further.
What the questioner is asking at this stage, by the introduction that he had begun to read, does not immediately emanate as a supplementary question from the answers given by the Hon Minister. The question is overruled. Any other questions?
Mr Speaker, I would like to ask the Hon Minister to tell us the state of security in our country now.
Hon Member, do you want to know the global nature of security in the country? [Pause.]
Mr Speaker, the Question that was asked, if I may repeat: “asked the Hon Minister for the Interior what measures the Ministry was taking to combat insecurity and mob violence in Ghana.” Now, he comes to ask the Hon Minister to furnish us with the state of security in the country. That is totally a different question. The remit of that question is totally different. Mr Speaker, again, it infringes on Standing Order 69 (2). The language is clear. May I call on you to rule that question out of order?
Hon Member, from the detail of the Answer given, there is a premise that there are certain matters that touch and concern insecurity. It does not ask for a list of any matters that affect insecurity as such. If you could rephrase and ask your question strictly within the parameters of the original Question and the Answer given, then you might do so.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister in his Answer, mentioned some measures that have been put in place to curb the insecurity in this country, and I would want to know what the situation is now, as regards the level of insecurity.
Mr Speaker, it is different and the security is good.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister in his response to a question, stated that some of the policemen in uniform go for community policing without weapons or the necessary accoutrements that they need to use. Mr Speaker, I would want to know if the Hon Minister would consider from situations that have arisen of late, at least, to give these policemen, who go out into the communities without knowing what would happen, the necessary arms, so that in case any issue arises, they would be able to defend themselves and also help victims.
Mr Speaker, we are viewing the situation. Probably, it might become necessary for us not to arm them with rifles, but we can give them certain other types of arming that would protect them. That would still be considered - no decision has been taken.
Hon Members, I would take the last Question.
Mr Speaker, in the last paragraph of the Hon Minister's Answer, he said; “The goal is to make Ghanaians feel safe…”, which I believe goes to indicate that the Hon Minister agrees that Ghanaians do not feel safe, and that has been buttressed by the advice by the Embassies to their citizens who intend to travel to Ghana that Ghana is not safe. Mr Speaker, I would want to know if the Hon Minister could give us practically, how soon he believes the interventions that they are putting in place can begin to yield results for Ghanaians to feel safe and for the Embassies also to give more favourable indication about the safety of their citizens who travel to this country.
Hon Minister, how soon should we expect results?
Mr Speaker, the last paragraph in my Answer does not indicate that we are not safe. I have indicated the goal and having had measures, we should have a target. But contrary to what I have been told now, I have been invited by several Embassies and I would want to say that most of the Ambassadors have said that they feel safer now. That is the response that I have. So, I am not aware. There would be people outside who would have their own opinions, but I believe they feel safe right now.
Hon Member, you would have the last opportunity and then Leadership would ask their Question.
Mr Speaker, I am particularly happy that the Ministry is embarking on such campaign to educate the public on the mob action.
Mr Speaker, there are different ways that this is being pursued. Hon Members of this House would realise that the police held more press conferences lately, and that is one way they are letting people know what they are doing. Also, there is always the interactive part of the press conference which gives them the chance to get responses. So, there are various ways. Mr Speaker, one of them is the community education and it was on one of such missions that we lost an officer. So, there are various ways -- we can now see more proactive information in the newspapers, et cetera.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister in his Answer gave a number of steps in a bullet form. The third bullet states: “Increasing Police presence at public places. . .” and the bullet point four states: “Deploying modern gadgets. . .” Mr Speaker, I would want to find out from the Hon Minister, if they have the men that they would deploy to be present at public places and the modern gadgets that they would work with. If the answer is no, what steps would he take to ensure that they would get the men and the modern gadgets?
Mr Speaker, I made it clear in the first paragraph of my Answer that we have initiated the action. With regard to the issue of deploying the men, I said we would soon start recruitment. We have not hit the 56,000 that would give us the 1:500 ratio. We also expect Parliament to help us in the bid to mobilise more resources to enable us achieve those goals. We are in the process. [Interruption.] There are various gadgets and -- we do not have the money to get all of them, but we would get a few.
Majority Leadership? Hon Members, Question time is almost up, so, we may rather have to drop the last Question and suspend it indefinitely.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister in the last bullet point said; “the goal is to make Ghanaians feel safe. . .” I would want to know if it is for the Ghanaian to be “safe” or to “feel safe”. I would want him to clarify that because Ghanaians would want to be “safe” and not to “feel safe”.
Hon Dr Akoto Osei?
Mr Speaker, I thought that I heard you say, “Majority Leadership” and then the Hon Deputy Minority Leader got up and so, I am confused. Since when did he become the Hon Majority Chief Whip?
Hon Member, it appears the confusion has resolved itself [Laughter] -- Yes, Hon Minister?
Mr Speaker, we have two concepts now. Mr Speaker, feeling safe could be a product of empirical evidence, which suggests that there is a reduction in crime or there is, by statistics, an improved situation. I believe that is a lower standard than the Ghanaian being safe. This is because perception is also important. So, I do not want us to continue this issue of whether it is real or a perception. Mr Speaker, we said in our Manifesto that we would want Ghanaians to get out of the fear syndrome. So, we are going for the perception, which is a higher standard. This is because we can have the statistics to show that we are safe, but if we do not feel safe, we have not finished our job. Until those two agree, we have not finished our job.
Mr Speaker, when the question was asked by the Hon Member for Old Tafo as to when the Hon Deputy Minority Leader became a Majority Chief Whip and his response was, “very soon” — That must be investigated — [Laughter] — As it is said, blood is ever present in the head of a tsetsefly. Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister is his response says in bullet point 2, and with your permission, I beg to read: “Increasing Police vigilance characterised by vigorous Police patrols and regular snap checks at vantage points to check possessions of illegal implements.” Mr Speaker, would the Hon Minister consider increasing the visibility of the Police, as a method of helping to check crime?
Bonsu — rose
Hon Majority Leader, your last question.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister in bullet point (5) of his Answer says, and with your permission, I beg to read: “Embarked on rebranding its image to boost the confidence of the public and to encourage the public to co-operate in the discharge of their duties.” Mr Speaker, giving what rebranding has come to be associated with in this country, would the Hon Minister tell us what he means by they having embarked on rebranding?
Mr Speaker, I would give two elements of that: It is the perception of the public that the Police is corrupt. So, we have an anti-corruption strategy which is being pursued, to see how we can improve that image, first by performance; that we should appear less corrupt or not corrupt — that is perception. That is because I said that it has been perceived of us. Mr Speaker, secondly, we also want to be friendlier. This is because one of the challenges we have is that, when it comes to the prosecution of cases, people are not forthcoming with information. But I would say that since the unfortunate gruesome murder of the late Major Maxwell Mahama, there appears to be a certain new wave, where Ghanaians are more forthcoming. So, we want the Police to appear friendly and be able to get the information rather than be aloof and be seen as antagonistic. Mr Speaker, that is probably the reason we insisted that those going on community policing should not be armed, and we lost one of the officers. So, what remains to be seen is how we can maintain the strategy without losing more people. We would want the Police to be more friendly and open and that would help us. And those are the two elements of the rebranding that we are considering.
Hon Minister, thank you for attending to the House and answering our Questions. You are discharged. Hon Majority Leader, at this stage, any indication as to Business that is ready?
Mr Speaker, there is one more Question outstanding. We would not deal with it now. This is because the indication we have had from the Minister for Finance is that, he just had the response and he would want to look at it. If he is able to deal with it, then perhaps, before we adjourn, the Question could be taken. If he is not able to deal with it, then perhaps, we would deal with it upon recommencement. But we endeavour to have the Hon Minister finish with the response and come to answer the Question before we adjourn today. Mr Speaker, that being the case, I guess we can go back to item numbered (7) on the Order Paper.
Hon Members, item numbered (7) — Motions.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that notwithstanding the provisions of Standing Order 80 (1) which require that no Motion shall be debated
Mr Speaker I beg to second the Motion. Question put and Motion agreed to. Resolved accordingly.
Hon Members, item numbered 8. Report of the Work Programme of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation, 2017
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that this Honourable House adopts the Report of the Committee on Mines and Energy on the 2017 Work Programme of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation. Mr Speaker, in doing so, I would present the Report of the Committee. Introduction The 2017 Programme of Activities of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) was laid in Parliament on Tuesday, 25th July, 2017 by the Hon Minister for Energy, Mr Boakye Agyarko in accordance with Section 7(3) (b) of the Petroleum Revenue Management Act, 2011 (Act 815). The Rt Hon Speaker subsequently referred the Programme of Activities to the Select Committee on Mines and Energy for consideration and report pursuant to Order 188 of the Standing Orders of Parliament. Deliberation The Committee met on 29 th July, 2017 and considered the Programme of Activities. Present at the meeting were the Deputy Minister for Energy, Hon William Owurako Aidoo and Officials of GNPC led by the Chief Executive, Dr Kofi Koduah Sarpong. The Committee is grateful to the Deputy Minister and officials of GNPC for attending upon the Committee to provide clarifications to the content of the Programme of Activities. Reference documents The Committee referred to the following documents during its deliberations: i. The 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana ii. T he S t an d in g O rd e r s o f Parliament iii. T h e P e t r o l e u m R e v e n u e Management Act, 2011 (Act 815) iv. T h e P e t r o l e u m R e v e n u e Management (Amendment) Act, 2015 (Act 893) v. The Petroleum (Exploration and Production) Act, 2016 (Act 919); vi. The Ghana National Petroleum Corporation Act, 1983 (PNDCL 64) and vii.The 2016 Programme of Activities of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation. Background information The Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) was established in 1984 through the enactment of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation Law, 1983 (PNDC Law 64). Under Section 2(1) of the PNDC Law 64, the Corporation is mandated to undertake the exploration, development, production and disposal of petroleum in the country. In pursuit of the above stated objective, the Corporation is enjoined to ensure that the country derives the possible maximum benefits from the exploitation of the petroleum resources, the development of national capabilities along the entire petroleum value chain and the conduct of petroleum activities in such a manner that would minimise potential adverse effect on the environment and the people. To deliver on the above objectives, the Petroleum Revenue Management Act, 2011 (Act 815) was passed in April, 2011 to commit part of the proceeds from the sale of petroleum resources to the Corporation. Section 7(3)(b) of the Act 815 mandates the Corporation to submit its Annual Programme of Activities to Parliament for approval as a measure of ensuring prudent use of funds allocated to the Corporation. It was in fulfilment of this legal injunction that the Minister for Energy presented the 2017 Programme of Activities of the Corporation in Parliament for approval. Vision and Mission of GNPC The vision of the GNPC is to become a global Oil and Gas Company whose operations will have a profound impact on the quality of life of the people of Ghana.
Strategic objectives for 2017 The key strategic objectives as set out by GNPC for the year 2017 are to: i. achieve total national proven hydrocarbon reserves of 1,162 million barrels of oil equivalent (MMBOE); ii. achieve average crude oil production of 70,290bbl/d, 63,500bbl/d and 7,214bbl/d for the Jubilee, TEN and OCTP Fields respectively; iii. complete ten (10) development wells; and iv. complete an additional 13 per cent of work required for determining the petroleum system of the Voltaian Basin. Key achievements of GNPC in the year 2016 The Corporation, together with its partners achieved the following in the year 2016: Reserves Achieved total reserve position of 1,253 Mmboe as against the target of 1,212 Mmboe for 2016, representing 3.38 per cent increase on the target. The reserve is made up of 899mmbbl of oil and 2.052TCF of gas (354mmboe). Oil and gas production Achieved first oil production on 17 th August, 2016 on the TEN field. A total of 32.29mmbbls was produced from two (2) producing fields (Jubilee & TEN) giving average daily oil production rate of 88,247.64bopd, per cent below the revised average daily production targets of 91,986bopd. Disposal Six (6) cargoes totaling 5.86mmbbls were lifted by the Ghana Group - (5 from Jubilee and 1 from TEN). Revenue realised from the liftings was US$275.23 million with an average price of US$48.58/bbl. Also, a total volume of 22,579.92MMscf of gas valued at US$66.34million was delivered to the Ghana National Gas Company (GNGC) as at end of 2016. Additionally, 275,069.76MT of HFO was supplied to Karpowership Ghana Company Limited (KPS) for power generation (Jan-Dec, 2016). Voltaian basin exploration The Corporation successfully negotiated social performance consultancy and Explosives contracts and submitted Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and permit fees to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Basin exploration Twenty-three (23) new leads were identified and nine prospects were generated across various licences in the Tano and Keta basins. In addition, source rock evaluation was completed and Leads Inventory also updated. Petroleum development activities The development activities on the TEN field leading to first oil production in 17 th August, 2016 was successfully completed. Also, progress of work on OCTP block was 65.6 per cent against a target of 66.5 per cent. Additionally, 14 development wells were drilled on the Offshore Cape Three Points (OCTP) block and 1 well (J-36 WI) on the Jubilee field. Capacity building About 98 per cent of the corporate training plan was implemented with a total of 636 beneficiaries. Gas-to-Power activities The Corporation successfully led negotiations with Independent Power Producers (IPPs) as part of its gas aggregator role and towards meeting OCTP milestones. Specific activities included signing of the Terminal Use Agreements with two LNG projects in Tema & Takoradi and signing of the LNG Sale Purchase Agreement on Takoradi LNG. Discussions with other potential suppliers of the LNG also began, including Qatar Gas to provide secure long-term base supply of LNG. Negotiations The Corporation signed and ratified three (3) Petroleum Agreements (Springfields, Swaoco and ENI) in March, 2016. Also, a letter of credit for security package agreement of US$500 million with the World Bank for the OCTP Sankofa Gye Nyame Gas Project was signed. Financial performance of GNPC for 2016 Share of oil revenue The Corporation received a total amount of US$88.50 million for the year 2016, made up of the following: i. Equity financing (share of development and production cost) -- US$58.10 million; ii. 30 per cent share of net proceeds of Jubilee crude revenue -- US$27.5 million; iii. 30 per cent share of Jubilee Gas revenue -- US$2.84 million. Cash balance brought forward from the previous period (2015) was US$124.06 million bringing the total cash available for 2016 to US$212.56 million. Out of the total amount received and balance brought forward from 2015, a total amount of US$144.53 million was utilised leaving a cash balance on hand of US$68.03 million which was earmarked for the execution of the activities below: Jubilee expenditure An amount of US$67.21 million representing 46.5 per cent of total expenditure during the period under review was spent on production and development activities in the Jubilee Field. The turret bearing on the FPSO Kwame Nkrumah experienced significant technical challenges leading to a halt in production between April and May. Exploration and development projects An amount of US$25.58 million representing 17.7 percent of total expenditure for the period, went to exploration and development projects and funding of the Maritime Boundary Secretariat activities. Staff cost An amount of US$16.40 million was spent as remuneration for Staff, representing 11.3 per cent of total expenditure for the year. Administrative capital expenditure The Administrative capital expenditure which covers outlays for office equipment, furniture, fixtures and fittings, motor vehicles, et cetera. amounted to US$2.22 million (1.5 per cent). Capital projects An amount of US$12.64 million, representing 8.7 per cent of total expenditure was spent towards investment in the Corporation's landed properties in Accra, Tema and Sekondi- Takoradi. General operating expenditure A total of US$12.45 million, representing 8.6 per cent of total expenditure within the period went to operating expenditure including insurance, utilities, corporate social responsibility, corporate travels, communication expenses, professional services, ICT-related cost such as software maintenance, et cetera, general repairs and maintenance, vehicle repairs and maintenance, et cetera. Western Corridor Roads In line with the Corporation's role as the gas aggregator, GNPC was requested by the Government of Ghana to financially support the construction of key roads within the Western Corridor to facilitate the evacuation of gas from the Ghana Gas Company at Atuabo. In this regard, an amount of US$7.58 million representing 5.2 per cent of total expenditure was expended on the Western Corridor roads. Saltpond Offshore Production Company Ltd (SOPCL) An amount of US$0.44 million was spent on SOPCL representing 0.3 per cent of total expenditure for the period under review. The project is at the pre- decommissioning stage.
The Corporation is seeking to acquire 1,500 km 2D seismic survey and subsequently drill two conventional wells. The programme is expected to span for 6 years (2015-2020) with a projected cost of US$ 154 million. An amount of US$ 31.97 million has been budget towards the execution of the above activities. An amount of US$ 5.11 million had been incurred as at the end of 2016. GNPC Exploration and Production Co. Ltd (Explorco) driven projects Explorco is GNPC's Exploration and Production (E&P) subsidiary established to further the Corporation's core E&P strategies and operations. The company will continue to manage its commercial interests in eight (8) blocks as well as pay for the acquisition of a 10 per cent interest in Deep Water Tano/Cape Three Point Block operated by Hess Ghana. Explorco's activities to be supported by GNPC will include the following: i. South Deep Water Tano (SDWT) E&P Project ii. Expanded Shallow Water Tano Block iii. Deep Water Tano/Cape Three Point Contract iv. East Keta Block v. South West Tano vi. Deep Water Cape Three Points West Block vii.West Cape Three Points Block 2; and viii. Cape Three Points Block 4. An amount of US$ 70.74 million has been budgeted to fund Explorco's activities for 2017. Midstream and other projects Ghana National Gas Company Ltd (GNGC) Capitalisation The scope and scale of GNPC's activities have broadened with greater involvement in the gas /power sectors under its new Gas Aggregator role. GNPC is therefore ensuring adequate capitalisation of its midstream subsidiary, GNGC to effectively play the role of gas transportation from the offshore to the onshore. In this regard, an amount of US$10.00 million has been earmarked to support GNGC in respect of the capitalisation. Tema LNG project The GNPC plans to exercise the option of taking 20 per cent equity in the Tema LNG project. An amount of US$ 21.25 million has therefore been earmarked to achieve this goal. Non-petroleum capital projects Corporate Operational Head Office -- Takoradi The Committee was informed in line with its decision to relocate operations to Sekondi-Takoradi, GNPC has commenced a process to identify suitable properties, facilities and parcels of land in Sekondi- Takoradi that can assist to make the relocation a reality. Management has therefore made a provision of US$ 7.50 million in the 2017 budget towards this project. The amount is earmarked for Initial Office rental, Land Acquisition for office space, Residential accommodation, Pipe yards and Architectural drawings and acquisition of the necessary permits. Accra office building -- PFI The Committee was informed that the pre-construction works on the office complex on GNPC's land along the George Bush Highway have been completed. The preliminary estimated cost for the building is US$ 76 million and is to be completed within 36 months. An amount of GH¢ 68.55 million (US$ 15.00 m) has been earmarked for the construction in 2017. So far, an amount of US$ 0.26 million has been spent on the project. The Corporation's strategy is to raise funds from the local financial market for the construction with future receivables from petroleum and rental income being used to repay the facility. Research and Technology (RAT) project It was also noted that in line with the Corporation's Accelerated Growth Strategy, a modern research and technology centre of excellence is being constructed to support the drive. The facility, when constructed, will offer an electronic storage centre for GNPC's geoscience, engineering and production data; a core and tapes storage facility; various physical, chemical and research laboratories as well as offices for the Research and Technology Centre staff. The facility will also have the potential to serve other oil and gas industry players at home and abroad. The project which is expected to be completed in 2 years is estimated to cost US$ 64 million of which US$ 40 million is for the construction and US$ 24 million for specialised equipment. An amount of US$ 10.00 million has been earmarked in 2017 budget to undertake the site clearance and Completion of Earthworks and the Commence foundation works. Other works on landed property An amount of US$ 2.19 million has been allocated to undertake refurbishment works on some selected GNPC's landed property in 2017. The details are attached as Appendix 1 Note 8b and Note 8c. ICT system upgrade and expansion The Corporation intends to upgrade and expand its IT Systems to improve the level of efficiency and effectiveness of services anticipated to accelerate the achievement of its objectives. Specifically, the new IT Systems is expected to achieve the following: i. Align and integrate IT and business goals ii. Improve success of project delivery iii. Achieve Value for Money (VFM) and demonstrate best Returns on Investment (ROI) iv. In-sourcing, outsourcing and smart-sourcing v. Best practices for IT governance and management of business change; and vi. Disaster recovery sites. An amount of US$ 9.65 million has been earmarked to undertake the ICT Upgrade & Expansion programme in 2017. Operating expenditure Personnel cost Personnel emolument amounting to US$ 17.37 million is expected to be spent on the Staff. The Corporation informed the Committee that fifty (50) new Staff will be recruited during the year. It was indicated that most of the senior members would soon be retiring and for that matter there is the need to groom young engineers to
take over from the old staff after reaching the statutory retiring age. Administrative capital A total expenditure of US$ 2.49 million is expected to be incurred on the purchase of vehicles, office equipment, fixtures and fittings to facilitate the operations of the Corporation. General expenditure Total expenditure amount of US$ 10.97 million is expected to be incurred on recurrent operational activities of the Corporation including insurance, vehicle running, software maintenance, office consumables, staff training, etc. Maritime Boundary Secretariat The GNPC considers successful determination of the Maritime Boundary Dispute between Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire as critical to increasing average oil production in the TEN Field. As a result, the Corporation plans to provide adequate support to the Attorney General's Department's preparations towards the final determination of the case. An amount of US$ 4.00 million has therefore been earmarked to support AG in this regard. SPACE FOR TABLE 2, PAGE 14 -- 2:20 P.M Observations Budget financing The Committee noted that an amount of US$ 324.28 million is expected to be received by the GNPC for the year 2017. The revenue consists of US$110.82 million, US$ 172.90 million and US$ 22.00 million from the Jubilee, TEN and Sakofa Gye-Nyame Fields respectively. Additional source of income would include US$4.13 million as Training and Technology Grant and US$ 14,44 million as miscellaneous sources from rentals, interest on short term investment and services to exploration companies. The Corporation however, intends to spend a total of US$534.77 million for the year leaving a funding gap of US$210.49 million. The Committee was informed that the funding gap will be financed by cash balance of US$ 68.03 million brought forward from 2016 and, US$ 95 million GNPC's cash collateral with Stanbic Bank and Fidelity Bank when Litasco replaces GNPC's Bank Guarantee under the 450MW Karpower Ship and a loan of US$ 47.39 million. Business Interruption Insurance Policy for Jubilee and TEN The Committee observed that an amount of US$ 6.38 million has been earmarked to secure an Insurance Policy for the business interruptions occasionally witnessed at the production stage. The move was occasioned by the loss in revenue of about US$ 220 million to Ghana as a result of business interruptions (BI) in the Jubilee and TEN Fields. To avert such potential losses in future due to business interruptions, the Corporation intends to procure a Business Interruptions cover for the carried and participating interests (CAPI) and Government of Ghana (GoG) Rojalty for maximum sum assured of US$ 513.2 Million for interruption to oil and gas production in respect of the Jubilee and TEN Fields. The prices to be insured for the two fields are US$ 47.50/bbl for oil and US$ 2,750/MMSCF for gas. Table 2 below presents the premium payable as well as the indemnity periods for the two fields and the volumes covered under the policy. SPACE FOR TABLE 1, PAGE 13 -- 2:20 P.M
See Col. 3191 for Table 2 Based on the above parameters, total premium payable amounts to US$ 6.38 million comprising US$5.15 Million for CAPI and US$ 1.23 Million for GoG royalty in both fields. Gas-To-Power commitments under the Karpower Ship The Committee was informed that as part of conditions precedent under 450MW Karpower Ship Purchase Agreement, Electricity Company (ECG) of Ghana is enjoined to provide US$ 79 Million as Bank Guarantee in addition to the US$100 million Bank Guarantee secured by the GNPC in 2016, under the initial 225 MW Karpower Ship Purchase Agreement on behalf of ECG. The Committee further noted that ECG had paid GNPC US$ 5 Million out of the US$ 100 Million Bank Guarantee, reducing the ECG obligation to GNPC to US$ 95 Million. The Committee was also informed that Lukoil International Trading and Shipping Company (LITASCO) has agreed to absorb the two forms of Bank Guarantees amounting to US$ 174 Million of which US$79 million covers exposure to Operations and Maintenance and US$ 95 Million for Early Termination. This means that the US$ 95 Million originally used as Cash Guarantee by the GNPC on behalf of ECG would be available for GNPC to use upon successful signing of the Supply Agreement between GNPC and LITASCO. The Committee was also informed that LITASCO has asked government to pay the US$100million debt owed to the company by BOST as a condition precedent to the discharge of LITASCO commitment to absorb the Guarantee. However, the Officials of GNPC informed the Committee that BOST has in stock crude oil amounting to US$ 54 million. This reduces the BOST's debt exposure to US$ 46 million. The Committee further noted that under the OCTP Gas Supply Agreement, GNPC is obliged to either take all the gas produced from the field or pay for its equivalent cost. It was further explained that the 450 MW Karpower Ship if installed, will utilise approximately 90 mmscf/d of gas from the OCTP. This means that Ghana stands to lose US$ 28 million per month which translates into US$ 336.6 million in a year, if GNPC fails to offtake the 90 mmscf/d of the gas. The Corporation therefore considered the Karpower Ship critical in meeting the “take-or-pay” obligation, and more importantly, sustaining the power needs of the country. As a result of the above, the Corporation has taken steps to negotiate with LITASCO to convert the debt into loan payable over two years with oil receivables which would be recovered later from BOST. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) projects The Committee was informed that an amount of US$ 9.40 million has been earmarked to support strategic initiatives on environmental sustainability, provision of social amenities, economic empowerment of those leaving in oil and gas enclave and to also provide scholarships and training as part of the Corporation's corporate social responsibilities (CSR) for the year. The Corporation indicated that in line with Section 2 (2) (d) of the PNDC Law 64, and as part of measures to increasing local content along the entire value chain of the oil and gas industry, one thousand (1,000) students pursuing courses in sciences such as geology, chemistry, physics, engineering etc will be provided with scholarships with the intention of scaling up in the coming years. Emphasis would be placed on training at the local level with minimal sponsorship for foreign courses. In order to ensure that Ghanaians feel the impact of the oil resources, the Corporation has made provision to support community development initiatives such as the provision of sports facilities in schools and colleges, environmental projects and potable water. The need for the increase of the Corporation's corporate social responsibilities is also to avert potential conflicts in petroleum affected communities as witnessed in other countries. Logistics, Operational and Project Vehicles The Committee was also informed that in line with the Corporation's new focus entitled “Operation Find Oil in the Voltaian Basin”, it has become imperative to acquire additional logistics and vehicles. In this regard, an additional amount of US$1.7 million has been earmarked for the acquisition of logistics and vehicles for its operations in Takoradi and the Voltaian Basin Project. Funding for the construction of the Accra Corporate Head Office and Research and Technology (RAT) Centre The Committee was informed by the officials of the Corporation that preliminary discussions on the cost of the construction of the Accra Corporate Head Office and Research and Technology Center (including the supply of relevant equipment) is estimated at US$ 75 million and US$ 64 million respectively. The Committee agreed in principle for the construction of the two facilities but was of the opinion that the estimated costs are too high. Accordingly, the Committee urged the Corporation to review the estimated costs and present the revised cost for approval in the 2018 Programme of Activities. In the meantime, the Committee recommends to the House to approve an amount of US$ 25 million earmarked for this year's activities on the two building complexes. Financing of the additional work programme The Committee was informed that the additional work Programme amounting to US$13.08 million of which US$ 6.38 million is premium for Business Interruption Insurance Policy; US$ 5 million for CSR and US$ 1.7 million for Logistics and Vehicles would be financed from the US$ 95 million GNPC's cash collateral with Stanbic Bank and Fidelity Bank to be freed when LITASCO replaces GNPC's Bank Guarantee. The remaining US$ 81.92 million (the difference of US$ 95 million and US$13.08 million) would be used to partly fund the GNPC'S financial obligations. Conclusion and Recommendation The Committee has thoroughly scrutinised the Programme of Activities of GNPC and the associated financial requirements for the 2017 Financial Year, and it believes the activities outlined in the Programme of Activities fall within the scope of the mandate of the Corporation under PNDC Law 64. The Committee therefore recommends to the House to adopt its Report and approve the 2017 Programme of Activities of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) for the year 2017 in accordance with Section 7 (3) (b) of the Petroleum Revenue Management Act, 2011 (Act 815).
Thank you, Hon Chairman of the Committee. Any seconder?
Mr Speaker, I beg to support the Report submitted by the Chairman of the Committee. Mr Speaker, last year, we were here late to approve the programme of activities for GNPC. This is required under the Petroleum Revenue Management Act (PRMA) Section 7 (3) (b). We thought that it would be quite early for us this year to approve it between April and May, but it has taken us a long time. We are all aware that there was transition but the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of GNPC and the Board were the first to be appointed and constituted respectively; we thought that we should have had this by May. Nevertheless, it is good that it is before us to be approved. Mr Speaker, my first concern is to Paragraph 9.1.1 which is the first paragraph on page 7. The third line reads: and I quote with your permission; “The Corporation has also resumed discussions on the Greater Jubilee Full Field Development Plan with expectation of approval of same and commencement of field development activities”. Mr Speaker, I would want to urge GNPC to ensure that in the course of this discussion and in determining the price of gas, they must take into consideration the total economics of the Greater Jubilee Full Field Development Plan and not the stand-alone economics. So that by considering the greater economics of it, we are likely to beat down the price drastically. I would want to indicate that when they continue with the discussion, they should look at this aspect. Mr Speaker, there is another chart that is of concern that I would need to raise before the House. We were here last year when President John Dramani Mahama took a decision for GNPC to provide guarantee for Karpower Ship to the tune of US$100 million. I think this was criticised and ended up at the Supreme Court. After the NPP Administration came to power, they are learning and learning hard; I would want to urge them to learn very well. Mr Speaker, on point 10 --
Yeboah — rose
Hon Members, it is unparliamentary to say to another Hon Member to “sit down” -- it is improper. Hon Chairman of the Finance Committee?
Mr Speaker, the Hon Ranking Member for the Mines and Energy Committee is misleading the House. Mr Speaker, when GNPC was asked to give US$100 million guarantee for Karpower Ship Project, it ended up at the Supreme Court and the Court pronounced on it that they did not require Parliamentary approval. So why does the Hon Ranking Member stand on the Floor of the House today and say that the NPP Administration has reversed when the Supreme Court has pronounced on the matter? What is new? We are only going along the path directed by the Supreme Court, so the Hon Ranking Member should please stay in tune and not veer off to other matters which have been settled at the Supreme Court.
Hon Member, operate within the confines of the Committee that you represent. You may proceed.
Mr Speaker, thank you very much; respectfully, I am doing just that.. Mr Speaker, I am proceeding by providing evidence of what they said on that day when they --
Hon Member, you do not provide evidence on that regarding which the Speaker has made a ruling; I am asking you to proceed. Whatever is the objection, I have dealt with it and I am saying that you should proceed. Do not go back, please. Go on within the parameters of your response to the Committee's Report.
Mr Speaker, I have in my hands the Official Report of Parliament dated 26th May, 2016; column 612. Hon K. T. Hammond was the Ranking Member then and this was his contribution - the fourth paragraph with your permission I quote; “Mr Speaker, look at paragraph 13.5 which talks about “Karpower Ship Guarantee”. GNPC has become the guarantee Bank of Ghana. It has taken over functions of the Bank of Ghana and it is now guaranteeing whatever comes across them.” Mr Speaker, today we are here and GNPC is guaranteeing US$174 million through a vehicle. What happened then? Mr Speaker, what has changed? If they have changed their minds, what informed their decision to change? Mr Speaker, the next point is providing financing to Bulk Oil Storage and Transportation (BOST) Co. Ltd. Also, in the same Report, I have the contribution of Dr Akoto-Osei, Member of Parliament (MP) for Old Tafo, my senior Hon Colleage, and I would want to quote. Mr Speaker, with your permission, I quote --
Hon Member -- [Uproar]
Mr Speaker, I am just quoting and then, I proceed.
Hon Member, you would assume your seat and listen to the Chair. There is an established practice for seconding Motions. If -- [Interruption.] Hon Member, second the Motion and let us make progress. Hon Members, I would like you to know that in proper parliamentary practice, an Hon Member would operate within the parameters of seconding Motions. Then if that Hon Member has even got some points, he or she writes them down for another Member of his Side of the House to make certain contributions -- [Uproar]. In seconding, you do not take us back to all manner of historical references. You are seconding the Motion. Please, proceed within the parameters of the Committee's Report.
Mr Speaker, I am contributing to the Motion after the secondment and I made reference to the Report.
Hon Member, a Member who seconds a Motion operates within the parameters of the Report which the Hon Member is seconding for adoption. So, you speak to the Report. It is different from an Hon Member who makes a contribution. Your Leader is signalling you. You may as well observe.
Mr Speaker, I am speaking to the Report and I am on point 10.3, where GNPC through a vehicle is sourcing for a guarantee of US$174 million for the second barge of Karpower. In contributing to that, I made reference to an earlier contribution that was made in 2016. I believe that I am still within the confines of the Report.
Hon Member, you are out of order. [Laughter.] Question proposed.
The Hon Member said he was seconding the Motion. It therefore does not allow the Hon Member not to be overruled no matter the circumstances. Hon Members, you have to understand the Rules. In fact, incidentally, we better do so.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to add my voice. Mr Speaker, in adding my voice, GNPC proposes to change the nature of the scholarships that they have been giving over the period. The idea is to give over a 1000 students scholarships and I am very grateful that at least, it would reach more Ghanaians, specifically for science students who have been having difficulty getting sponsorships to further their education. Mr Speaker, if we take GNPC's corporate social responsibility activities over the years, a lot of the projects have been happening along the coast, especially in the Nzema areas. But on the Ahanta side where we have Takoradi, Kwesimintsim, Essikado and Ahanta West, we do not find a lot of these activities. I believe that now that they have programmed US$ 9.4 million to disburse on corporate social responsibilities, GNPC would ensure that more of their corporate social responsibility projects also happen on the Ahanta side of the Western Region. Mr Speaker, going forward in the NPP manifesto, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo- Addo and the NPP promised to build the head office of GNPC in Takoradi. [Uproar] -- I am speaking to the Report, so Hon Members should read it. Mr Speaker, if we take paragraph 9.4.1, it talks about the Corporate Operational Head Office in Takoradi. Then, if we take another paragraph 9.4.2, it talks about the Accra Head Office. I believe that what the NPP promised was the corporate headquarters in Takoradi and not the operational head office. We did not ask for the operational head office and that is not what the NPP and Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo promised. I believe that that part of the programme should be looked at again by GNPC. It is very important so that we are assured that what was promised was delivered to the people of the Western Region. Mr Speaker, with these few words, I would like to add my voice to the Report.
Thank you very much, Hon Member.
Hon Dr Akoto Osei?
Mr Speaker, I am quite pleased to have Hon Della Sowah refer to my contributions. However, there is no Dr Osei Akoto here. There is Dr Akoto Osei. So, if she is making reference to me, she needs to correct herself. [Uproar]
Thank you, Mr Speaker. The correction is well noted. It is Dr Akoto Osei. Mr Speaker, there is one item in the Report that caught my attention and I would want to talk about it. It is in paragraph 10.7 which is the issue of vehicles. The budget for that item is US$ 1.7 million. Mr Speaker, President Nana Akufo- Addo said that there was a freeze on the purchase of vehicles. There was a letter from the Chief of Staff stating that the ban is in place until further notice. I realises that they would want to do a study on the Voltaian Basin to find out how much hydrocarbon they have which is well and good. It is good news for Ghana and for Voltaians. However, US$1.7 million for vehicles is a little worrisome. Mr Speaker, I did a simple calculation. If they are pickups at the market price of US$ 30,000 each, I thought 56 new pickups for GNPC was a little on the high side. Mr Speaker, the reference I made to Hon Dr Akoto Osei is a good one. He said that when we see something and we do not comment about it, we do not do the people of Ghana any good. If we see something that is wrong, we should point it out and bring it to the fore. Mr Speaker, so although I am an Hon Member of the Committee, when I noticed this, I thought it was right to bring it to the fore. We should see that spending US$ 1.7 million on vehicles is excessive. Mr Speaker, in order not to perpetuate the illegality of GNPC in spending before their work plan is approved, however, I would want to ask my Hon Colleagues to support the work plan.
Mr Speaker, thank you very much. Mr Speaker, I rise to contribute to the Report. In 2001, the Government of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) came out and told the whole of Ghana and the world that GNPC had deviated completely from its core responsibilities, gone on a frolic of its own, and taken on matters that are not mandated by its enabling Act. Mr Speaker, I would not go into the details. By 2008/2009 when NPP was exiting power, GNPC had been put on the straight and narrow path, and they were doing the right thing as expected under its law. Mr Speaker, we then moved on to the next phase of Administration of Ghana under the “Lords” now sitting opposite. That was from 2009. What happened? GNPC went back to the activities that the whole Ghana had cautioned it not to do. My Hon Colleague, Hon Mutawakilu Adam, otherwise called “Gaius”, was the Hon Vice Chairman of the Mines and Energy Committee during the last Administration. He has quoted me. I am not sure I am quoted; but he is an Honourable man, so I take it that I said exactly what he said. Mr Speaker, GNPC had not just become the bank of Ghana, but it had become an international bank of the world and dished money like a confetti; left, right, centre and everywhere. He quotes me in the context of Karpower. Mr Speaker, GNPC had guaranteed the responsibilities of Karpower --
Mr Speaker, I would just want your guidance. You have consistently told us this morning to make reference to the Report. My Hon Colleague never made reference to any point. He is speaking his mind, and he is allowed to go on intentional --
Hon Member, are you addressing the Chair or you are gesticulating?
Mr Speaker, I am addressing the Chair.
Please, address me.
Mr Speaker, I would want you to redirect him to make reference to the document that we all have. Thank you very much, Mr Speaker.
Hon Hammond, if you would please take your seat. Hon Members, this is why I would want you to pay attention and listen to the Chair at the appropriate time. I did say, and it is borne out by the Hansard, that when you move a Motion, you do so within the parameters of the Report that the Hon Chairman presents. [Interruptions.] Please, be very patient. If you move, you do so within the parameters of what you present, and then you speak within the context of the Report that you present to the House. The Hon Member who moves the Motion is not permitted to move his or her own terms as he or she likes. The Hon Member who seconds, who is part of the Committee, also makes a support statement within the parameters of the work of that very Committee. In fact, an Hon Member may be so placed that he may have his own comments to make. He may as well pass it on to another Hon Member. Hon Members, but the Hon Member who presents a Report does not do it by way of doing his or her own thing. That is the rule. So, please, do not make any mistake about the two. When any other Hon Member gets on his or her feet, he or she may make references to other related matters provided, if he is not totally off tangent, as the Rt Hon Speaker may rule. Hon Members, please get that straight, so that we do not make this kind of mistake in the future. Hon Members, when you hear a good thing, learn it and do not just enjoy the noisemaking. It does not dignify or help this Parliament. Learn it, and do not go
Mr Speaker, the worst of it is that my Hon Colleague has not even bothered to read the Report.
Hon Hammond, what I have ruled on is behind us. Proceed and conclude.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, in paragraph 10.3 of the Report I have, copious mention is made of Karpower. It is for that reason that Hon Mutawakilu Adam actually produced that report and referred to the comments that I made over there. Mr Speaker, in response to the particular comment about GNPC being bank of - The point is that, GNPC out of its own volition contracted a relationship, which then led them to pay the US$100 million we talked about. The issue was taken on the Floor, but it eventually ended up in the Supreme Court. My Hon Colleague, Hon Dr Assibey-Yeboah, actually took the matter to court, which actually said that it was within its powers so to pay, Nobody has any quibble with that. Mr Speaker, the fact that another commitment has come from GNPC to follow-up is of no commitment. This is because that was what the Supreme Court asked us to do. Mr Speaker, in any event, how come that it has now become 450 megawatts of power, when it was originally 225 megawatts? My understanding at the time when it was 225 megawatts was that, we may not need the remaining 225 megawatts of power, because we were literally flooded in installed capacity. Indeed, I understand that it was under the same Administration now sitting down there --
Hon Member, in conclusion?
Mr Speaker, in conclusion, I ask the Hon Minority Leader not to keep on adding to the plethora of some very strange pronouncements he makes in this country by suggesting that the ENI Petroleum Agreement was the baby of the Administration of the National Democratic Congress (NDC). Mr Speaker, they do not read from the documents of this House. As the Hon Deputy Minister, I brought the document in 2006 for the ENI Petroleum Agreement to be approved in this House.
Hon Member, thank you very much.
Where was my Hon Colleague, Hon Haruna Iddrisu, when he got up the other day to say that it was the product of Ex-President Mahama? [Interruptions.]
Hon Members, Order! Hon Member, you are out of order.
Now Leadership? Hon Minority Leader and then Hon Majority Leader.
Mr Speaker, I wish I could indulge you and I see the Hon Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation - - I looked behind me and the former Hon Minister for Power -- Hon (Dr) Kwabena Donkor was on his feet.
Hon Minority Leader, it is you I have recognised for now. So, continue.
Mr Speaker, you have invited me and I would proceed. Mr Speaker, I rise to speak to this Motion and to use this opportunity to say that I have respect for the Hon Chairman of the Committee but I have difficulty with his Report. First, page 1 -- “The 2017 Programme of Activities…”
Hon Minority Leader, you mean you have difficulty with the Committee's Report?
Mr Speaker, yes, with your Committee's Report. Page 1, paragraph 1 says that with your permission I quote; “The 2017 Programme of Activities of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation was laid in Parliament … by the Hon Minister for Energy…”. Mr Speaker, that is inaccurate. This paper was laid by the Hon Majority Leader and I am holding the Votes and Proceedings of that day. Therefore, to begin with, one must be seen working -- [Interruption.] -- They referenced the Hon Minister -- I have the Votes and Proceedings and so I hope that you give him an opportunity to correct it. Then, it also reflects in the Committee's Report and one could understand the busy schedule of the Hon Minister such that, an important institution such as the GNPC -- It means that we do not have the formal presence of the Hon Minister when the Committee engaged. That should not be encouraged. Particularly, in listening to the Hon K.T. Hammond, when one wants to know the policy direction of the GNPC, guidance must come from the Hon Minister responsible for Energy. Mr Speaker, I have enormous respect for him and I think that he must be encouraged to participate in these processes so that he could guide GNPC to live to its mission and vision of contributing to the overall development of our country. Mr Speaker, still on the Committee's Report, page 4, paragraph 7.8, we see a headnote -- “Negotiations”. What is that word doing there? What is reported there is that and I beg to quote: “The Corporation's signed and ratified three (3) Petroleum Agreements (Springfields, Swaoco and ENI) in March, 2106. . . ” Mr Speaker, so those who would want to know when ENI was signed, if they are students of history, ENI was signed in the year 2016. But for my purposes and I beg to quote: “Also, a Letter of credit for security package agreement of US$500 million with the World Bank for OCTP Sankofa Gye Nyame Gas Project was signed.” Mr Speaker, again we have a headnote “Negotiations”, what is it doing there? It is misleading. If they are reporting the provision by government of a collateral security of guarantee by the World Bank, they should say so. But if they put a heading -- “Negotiations”, one would have a difficulty with it. May I now refer you to the Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC) established under the Petroleum Revenue Management Act, 2011 -- Report on Management of Petroleum Revenues for the year 2016 Annual Report. To strongly recommend to this House that there are recommendations in this Report that affects government, GNPC, Ghana National Gas Company Limited (GNGC) and others that we must pay attention to. Mr Speaker, I am quoting verbatim from --
Order! Hon Member, do you rise on a point of order? Whatever it is, be brief because I intend that the debate should flow.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minority Leader just referenced the 2016 PIAC Report. As we speak, it is before the Finance Committee and we have not worked on it so the recommendations that he wants to reference have not been adopted by this House. The Report, in and of itself, cannot stand until Parliament recommends it. So, let him stay away from that Report.
Hon Minority Leader, please continue.
Mr Speaker, I would just refer to a quote which talks about the Energy Sector and the role of the GNPC. It reads on page 5 or we should just go to “xv”?
Page 5, line?
Mr Speaker, with your permission it reads: “. . . an immediate meeting between the Government, GNPC and GNGC to agree on a clear roadmap for the clearing of VRA indebtedness to GNGC;” Mr Speaker, I think that must occupy our attention and the threats and guarantees to energy security and many other things affecting this sector must be addressed based on this particular Report that has been sent to us. Mr Speaker, I also note that the receivables for GNPC for the year 2016 is reported at US$88.50 million which is far less than what was reported in the year 2015 of about US$126.86 million. Therefore, we must find out about the significant drop and what it is that we need to do in respect of it. It also reports that the allocation of the GNPC during the review period is comparatively the lowest it has received since distribution of petroleum revenue begun in the year 2011. My worry is about the point the Hon Ranking Member of Finance, Hon Ato Forson raised and I refer you to page 12 of the Committee's Report. In a revised Budget, we are told that GNPC's Budget is revised by US$209 million. If we are operating within the US$1,481.94, we cannot run what is attached to page 13 and it means that, there is a shortfall. So, even though we would want to take this Motion, it would be appropriate that the Hon Minister for Finance reconciles with the GNPC and we know that out of the amount allocated, less US$209 milllion -- What would the GNPC be able to do with the allocation? Mr Speaker, that has also been raised and that is also a significant issue -- whether we like it or not, the Hon Minister for Finance has told us on authority that
Mr Speaker, ordinarily, I would disagree with him on many counts but it is not for nothing that this House is called upon to approve the Work Programme of GNPC. I recall with some nostalgic excitement when the Hon Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation was on this Side of the House. I listened to him on what he wanted the GNPC to look like. Mr Speaker, he should use his role and mandate as the Hon Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation to call them to order and to stay focused policy wise and support the President in that respect. Mr Speaker, yesterday, one of our Hon Colleagues, Hon Joe Ghartey made a significant point that government is continuous. So, they should not behave as if the Minority -- We have experienced running a government and we have done so for solid eight years. Mr Speaker, sometimes they argue as if the NPP was never in government but they ruled up to 2008. Mr Speaker, with these comments I support the approval subject to the Ministry of Finance reconciling the numbers. I would also encourage the Hon Minister to give us policy direction, to engage GNPC and to agree that we must get GNPC to be more focused. Mr Speaker, even as we pass the Petroleum Commission Act, we must see them working together. Mr Speaker, I also see a reference to Local Content, yet under the Local Content the Hon Chairman of the Committee made reference to PNDC Law 64. I have just referred to a paragraph. Mr Speaker, now there is a Local Content Regulations; therefore, the Hon Chairman should refer to what Parliament has approved to guide investment in that particular area. Mr Speaker, with these comments I thank you for the opportunity to contribute to the Motion. Mr Speaker, the Ministry of Finance and the GNPC must reconcile this.
Mr Speaker, respectfully, I would yield to Hon Dr Akoto Osei. Thank you.
Hon Member, you may continue.
Mr Speaker, thank you and thank you to the Hon Deputy Majority Leader. Mr Speaker, I want to agree with my --
Hon First Deputy Speaker to take the Chair. Hon Member, please, go on.
Mr Speaker, I would want to agree with my Hon Friend, the Hon Minority Leader, that when it comes to these matters, there is no NPP or NDC. I agree with him. In fact, this is why I also support Hon Della Sowah that if US$1.7 million was for only vehicles, then it would be troublesome. Mr Speaker, it is for vehicles and logistics but we ought to question GNPC to give us the details. Mr Speaker, the last time we spoke about the Work Programme of the GNPC, as the Hon Ranking Member said, there were issues and there are still issues and all of us ought to be concerned. Mr Speaker, let me start with the comments that the Hon Member made. I believe that the Hon Chairman would take note of the issues he raised. For example, the negotiations and agreements and so on, I do not have any difficulty with that. Mr Speaker, but let me go to the substantive issues; we talked about GNPC being a bank. If it was wrong then, then it is wrong now. There is no question about it but the difference now is that because the Supreme Court had ruled, GNPC is stuck with that obligation. Therefore, if you read paragraph 10.3, GNPC has had to go and do some financial engineering so that they could support the Supreme Court ruling. Mr Speaker, because that decision was taken last time, they are stuck. The question is, now that they are stuck with that obligation what would they do? So, GNPC had had to go and negotiate its way out of it, which means that in future they should not be getting into such discussions. So, it is a good thing; the harm had been done but it, is being corrected. Mr Speaker, I would move to another issue that was raised last time and we could raise it again; the issue about the building.
MR FIRST DEPUTY SPEAKER
Hon Member for Pru East, do you have a point of order?
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation alluded to paragraph 10.3 which has to do with LITASCO. Mr Speaker, GNPC re-engineering a financial arrangement is not exempted from transparency rules. Mr Speaker, GNPC conducted a tender but this tender was not won by LITASCO. GNPC --
Hon Member, what has the Hon Minister said that is inappropriate or wrong? I would want to see what is objectionable in accordance with our rules so that I would rule on it.
Mr Speaker, he alluded to paragraph 10.3 in the Report that LITASCO had been used to re-engineer in order to meet the Supreme Court's requirement. Mr Speaker, that is misleading because LITASOC did not even win the tender. The tender was won by another company so I just wanted that to be brought --
Hon Member, there is no point of order. Dr Akoto Osei, please continue.
Mr Speaker, let me refer you to paragraph 10.2. This is an issue about which we must commend GNPC. In the past they did not have any Business Interruption Insurance and that could have grave consequences.
Hon Chairman, do you want to conclude?
Mr Speaker, I take the opportunity to thank all Hon Members for their comments. We would take care of them and work with the GNPC to include most of the comments that have been raised in their 2018 work programme so that it would be enriched for the benefit of all Ghanaians. I thank you, Mr Speaker.
Yes, Hon Leader, what is the issue? It should only be on a question of procedure.
Mr Speaker, I just want to find out from you whether we are taking decisions on the issues that have been raised. We realised that the GH¢1.4 billion that the GNPC shows as their revenue would not be available to them. This is because, the reviewed Budget Statement would not give them GH¢209 million. This means that the amount would come down to GH¢1.2 billion. As a House, can we not ensure that correction is made before we take a decision or should we go ahead and take a decision based on the wrongful information? Mr Speaker, I just wanted to find out from you whether we should take a decision on a wrongful information or it should be corrected before we take the decision.
Hon Member, are you saying that there is something wrong in the Report.
Mr Speaker, yes. The total revenue of GH¢1.4 billion in the Report is not correct. Meanwhile, the reviewed Budget Statement that was brought by the Hon Minister would not make GH¢209 million available to them. This means that they would have only GH¢1.2 billion. Are we going to take a decision knowing very well that GH¢1.4 billion is not available to them? No! We are taking a decision based on this information. Should we go ahead?
Yes, Hon Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation?
Mr Speaker, to begin with, he has to remember that what the Hon Minister for Finance brought was not for approval. The mid-year review was for our information and not for approval. I have just indicated to him that the Hon Minister for Finance would meet with the GNPC to take care of the issue. What we learnt the last time was not for approval, so how could it be binding on us? Mr Speaker, on that basis, I believe we could proceed to take a decision.
Everyone, resume your seat, please. This Report is coming from the Committee. I do not think it is appropriate to contrast this with the Statement of the Hon Minister for Finance. This Report must be voted upon as it is in the House. If there is any issue falling out of them, the respective Ministries would deal with them. So, I would put the Question. Question put and Motion agreed to. Resolved:
Hon Deputy Majority Leader, what do we do next?
Mr Speaker, respectfully, we could take the motion numbered as item 9.
Very well. Item numbered 9 -- Motion. Hon Chairman of the Committee? Suspension of Standing Order 80 (1)
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that notwithstanding the provisions of Standing Order 80 (1) which require that no Motion shall be debated until at least forty-eight hours have elapsed between the date on which notice of the Motion is given and the date on which the Motion is moved, the Motion for the 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 Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with Respect to Taxes on Income and on Capital Gains may be moved today.
Motion numbered as item 10 on the Order Paper. Hon Chairman of the Committee? Protocol to Amend the Convention between the Republic of Ghana and the Kingdom of The Netherlands for Avoidance of Double Taxation and Fiscal Evasion
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that this Honourable House adopts 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 Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with Respect to Taxes on Income and on Capital Gains. Introduction The Protocol amending the Convention between the Government of Ghana and the Kingdom of The Netherlands for the
Hon Ranking Member for the Finance Committee?
Hon Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs?
Mr Speaker, I am grateful for your kindness. Mr Speaker, I am also on my feet to support the Motion, and to make these terse comments. Mr Speaker, this is not the first time Ghana as a Republic is considering such a protocol on double taxation avoidance. However, what I find admirable with the amendment to the existing protocol is the inclusion of anti-abuse principles. More often than not, this is not in existence and players have taken advantage of that and exploited it. It is heartwarming that we have this embedded in the Protocol. Mr Speaker, again, the limitation on information sharing has been expanded and it is something that we have to be proud of and associate ourselves with as a country. There is an aspect that assists the two countries in the collection of tax. It is also important, and it is something that we have to be proud of. Inclusion of levies is also wonderful. However, the amendment has become important because of certain key amendments we have effected to our tax laws. Therefore, it is critical that we get this Protocol ratified in conjunction with what we have in our existing tax law. Mr Speaker, as the Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, I observed that officials from the Ministry of Finance made a presentation to the two committees. What was missing was that we were not carried along in terms of statistical data on investment from The Netherlands. So, we were of the view that going further, the Ministry should apprise the Committee members with data on investment from The Netherlands, or possibly potential investment coming from The Netherlands. I would plead that going forward, the Committee on Foreign Affairs would want to take this matter up, follow it up and ensure that we get data corresponding from the Ministry of Finance on investment from The Netherlands, which would justify the need for Ghana to enter into this fight. With these words, I support the Motion.
Hon Ranking Member for the Committee on Foreign Affairs?
Mr Speaker, I am most grateful.
I rise to support the Motion on the floor. Mr Speaker, as has been stated, this is pretty straightforward. We are ad idem on the benefits of this anti-double taxation agreement, which includes the fact that it would encourage investments between Ghana and The Netherlands, the fact that it would help eliminate situations where income from one of the treaty countries would be taxed twice, and the fact that this would facilitate cross-border trade between the two countries. Mr Speaker, what is admirable is that both countries are working to ensure that tax avoidance is prevented, and that taxes that both countries have to benefit from would indeed be benefited by these two countries. There is no attempt by any of the two countries, either Ghana or the Kingdom of The Netherlands, to as it were, cheat the other party in this arrangement, and so that commitment is laudable and must continue. Mr Speaker, the only concern so far is with the information sharing provisions. The technical team was not able to assure both committees -- the Committee for Finance and the Committee for Foreign Affairs -- that the information that would be shared would not be used for other purposes. Actually, the purposes for the information sharing has not so far been agreed upon. The technical team indicated that they would assist tax enforcers to prosecute offenders who would be using the information obtained under the Convention for other purposes, but it is clear that this particular arena requires some further work, and we would urge the Ministry of Finance and the technical team at the Ministry to assist us to agree on modalities, so that we shall have a common understanding on what the information that would be available would be used for. It is important that that is codified and agreed between both countries. Mr Speaker, with these few words, I support the Report of the joint Committee on Finance and Foreign Affairs on the Protocol Amending the Convention between the Government of 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. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Hon Member for Bantama?
Thank you, Mr Speaker. I rise to support the Motion on the Floor that seeks to improve the Tax Convention we have with The Nether- lands. Mr Speaker, in so doing, I would like to say that in a number of countries, tax evasion is considered illegal, and some people have interpreted it that in that case, tax avoidance is all right, but it is not. Mr Speaker, in countries where we allow tax avoidance, what multi-national companies do is to engage tax professionals and accountants to take whatever strategies they can get to take advantage of the loopholes in the tax law. Mr Speaker, that practice is not good, so I am glad that this Convention seeks to close the loopholes. Mr Speaker, the adoption of international standards in this amendment is a great idea, and this is not the first time Ghana is adopting international standards. Mr Speaker, in 2013, Ghana adopted the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) to ensure that investments do not go into countries that use their gap to attract foreign investments at the disadvantage of others. Mr Speaker, in conclusion, I would like to say that the adoption of this is going to encourage trade between the two countries, and once again, put Ghana in the global market to do business. Mr Speaker, thank you very much. Question put and Motion agreed to.
Hon Members, item numbered 11 on the Order Paper is a consequential Resolution.
Mr Speaker, item numbered 11, which is a Resolution, would be moved by the Hon Deputy Minister for Finance, Hon Abena Osei-Asare.
Very well. Yes, Hon Deputy Minister for Finance?
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, BY THE PROVISIONS of article 75 of the Constitution any treaty, agreement, or convention, executed by or under the authority of the President in the name of Ghana is made subject to ratification either by an Act of Parliament or by a resolution of Parliament supported by the votes of more than one-half of all the Members of Parliament. INACCORDANCE with the said article 75 of the Constitution the President has caused to be laid before Parliament through the Minister responsible for Finance 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 on 25th July, 2017. NOW THEREFORE, this Ho- nourable House hereby resolves to ratify the said 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.
Yes, Hon Chairman of the Committee?
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion. Question put Motion agreed to. Resolved accordingly.
Hon Members, the House has accordingly ratified 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.
Mr Speaker, respectfully, if we could take item numbered 12 on the Order Paper.
Hon Members, we would take item numbered 12 -- Motion. Yes, Hon Chairman of the Committee?
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that notwithstanding the provisions of Standing Order 80 (1) which require that no Motion shall be debated until at least forty-eight hours have elapsed between the date on which notice of the Motion is given and the date on which the Motion is moved, the Motion for the adoption of the Report of the Finance Committee 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 may be moved today.
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion. Question put and Motion agreed to. Resolved accordingly.
Hon Members, we would take item numbered 13 on the Order Paper. Yes, Hon Chairman of the Committee? Request for Tax Exemption Status for the Regional Training Centre for Law Enforcement Agencies
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that this honourable House adopts the Report of the Finance Committee 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. Mr Speaker, in so doing, I would present your Committee's Report. Introduction The request for tax exemption status for the Regional Training Centre for Law Enforcement Agencies was laid in the House on 25th July, 2017 in accordance with article 174 (2) of the Constitution, and referred to the Finance Committee for consideration and report pursuant to the Standing Orders of the House. The Committee met with the Deputy Minister for Finance Hon Kwaku Kwarteng and a technical team from the Ministry of Finance to consider the request. Background In 2010, the United States conceived the idea to establish a specialised sub - regional training institution in West Africa to support law enforcement and criminal justice organisations in the region. The Institution would also offer training programmes that would focus on combatting transnational crimes and building the criminal justice sector capacity for the ECOWAS member states. One of the selection criteria for hosting the Regional Training Centre is for the host country to grant the training centre a tax-exempt status. Ghana competed with other countries to host the envisaged Regional Training Centre and won the privilege to host the Centre which has been sited in Ghana since 2012. Consequently, Ghana signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Government of the United States pledging to grant the Centre tax-exemption status. In order to grant the tax-exemption status to the Centre, Government has submitted this request to the House for approval. Request The request is to seek approval from Parliament to grant the Regional Training Centre a tax-exempt status. The approval would cover the following: Exemptions on all equipment, material and articles that may be imported specifically for use in implementing the program and of all customs duties and taxes concerning their entry into Ghana; Exemptions (tax reimbursements) with respect to the payment of taxes on local purchases charged to the resources or funds provided by the United States Government in connection with the implementation of the project in accordance with current domestic legal provisions. Observations Status of the Centre The Committee was informed that the Regional Training Centre has been constructed and it is already training individuals from the ECOWAS region. As at the end of June 2016, three thousand (3000) individuals from other West African countries have been trained. The Centre has also trained one thousand, one hundred and sixty- four (1,164) Ghanaians. Scope and duration of the tax exemption The Committee inquired how much in Ghana cedis would be required as tax exempt for the Centre and for how long? The technical team explained that, unlike other requests for tax exemptions with a definite amount, the amount involved with this request is not known. This is because the MoU provides that all taxes that are applicable from the inception of the Centre until it folds up be exempted. Thus, the request is for Parliament to grant the Centre a tax-exempt status. The technical team however assured the Committee that the current tax regime would ensure that the status is not abused. Refund of taxes paid The Committee inquired from the Ministry whether the Centre would have a tax refund since the Ministry has now laid the request for tax exemption for the Centre.
Yes, Hon Ranking Member?
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion.
Hon Ranking Member, the interpretation you put on article 174 (2) is different from how I understand it. I heard the Hon Chairman say that, same may be referred to the Hon Attorney-General and Minister for Justice for advice. But speaking here as a lawyer, I am not the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, my understanding of the word here is different from the way you present it. Probably, we should all await to the advice that may come from the Attorney- General and Minister for Justice.
Mr Speaker, based on your ruling, I would stay away from that, but I would want to make a point that the business community is complaining about this. They complain because obviously, their cash flow is being restrained.
As the Hon Ranking Member, you are always entitled to make a Statement on how you feel about some policy, but for now, let us speak to this specific request. As for what the business community feels, it is always open to you to come to the Floor and make a Statement relying on your experience and the feedback you get from the community.
All right, with these few words, I support the Motion.
Hon Deputy Minister, you would conclude. So, if there is no other Hon Member here, I would give it to Hon Yieleh Chireh.
Mr Speaker, I support this Motion, but I have a little concern about the way the Ministry of Finance wants to handle it. If you look at the Agreement that was signed, it was signed with the objective of ensuring that the tax exemptions are actually given as they bring in whatever they bring. To ask them to pay upfront before they claim it back is not right. I believe as soon as the items come, they would provide the evidence and go ahead based on the Agreement, so that we are not seen to have varied the understanding of that Agreement we signed with the United States Government. If this is taken note of, I believe it would do us all good. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
I will take the Leadership from the Minority side of the House, then if the Majority Leadership wants to speak, he may do so, before the Hon Deputy Minister concludes.
Mr Speaker, I have just a few observations. Paragraph 3.4 which the Hon Ranking Member of the Finance Committee raised an issue on -- I think the issue has not been dealt with clearly. Mr Speaker, paragraph 1 under item 3.4 reads and I quote, with your permission; “The Committee noted that the Ministry of Finance, since the beginning of the year has revised the procedure for accessing tax exemptions in the country. The Ministry now requires organisa- tions to pay the duties up front and the taxes are refunded to them later.” Mr Speaker, there are some organisations whose exemptions have been granted by this House. The Ministry is asking these organisations whose exemptions have been granted by this House to pay, which is in violation of the decision of the House. Parliament took a decision that these organisations have been granted exemptions. The Ministry of Finance has asked them to pay the money, then it would be refunded later. We do not even know that “later”. Mr Speaker, my question is that, is it right for the Ministry of Finance to go against the decision of the House? If it is a new thing that they would want to do, for that matter they need to come to the House with the procedure to follow, so that when exemptions are granted, the organisations would pay and would be refunded later, that is a different issue. But here, we have already taken a decision that these organisations have been granted exemptions.
Hon Member, I believe this matter was very well debated during the Budget hearing, and it was part of the Policy Statement which was passed by this House in the Budget. So when we say we have not decided on it, I find it difficult to understand you.
Mr Speaker, there were exemptions granted by this House from the year, 2014 to 2016. In 2017, the Ministry of Finance is asking them to pay the taxes. My point is that, we have taken a decision that these organisations are exempted from payment of the duty but the Ministry unilaterally goes against the decision of Parliament. That is the point I am raising. It is an issue that the Hon Minister for Finance must be called to come and respond to.
At the risk of appearing to be descending into the debate, I believe this borders on interpretation of the law.
No, we are not interpreting the law; I am not interpreting.
Hon Member, can you listen? When you pay and you get exemption for what you are not likely to pay, and when you are given the exemption upfront, is it not the same exemption? It is. That is why I said it is a question of interpretation of the law. -- [Interruptions]-- Please, if you would listen to me in silence, I would also listen to you in silence. The law gives us the power to grant exemptions. We grant the exemptions, but the tax administration itself has always been left with the tax authorities under the Ministry of Finance. It is not the same as refusing the exemption. The administration of the right that has been accorded you under the Constitution is now an issue. That was why I said that we should probably refer it to the Hon Attorney-General and Minister for Justice for interpretation. The article that was referred to, the interpretation I see is the right to vary relates to the amount you pay and not the process; not how and when it is paid. That is my interpretation of it.
Hon Member, but as you argued, you also have a different interpretation of the matter. So I would rather we do not focus on this one and lose the essence of why we are here. That is the point.
Mr Speaker, I thank you very much. Mr Speaker, I believe that you are rather going into the interpretation of that particular provision in the Constitution. I am not interpreting it that way. My concern is that, taxes are paid at the point of entry, and we have granted exemption that they should not pay when their goods are entering the country. Now they are saying that “pay when their goods are entering the country and we would refund to you later.” It is different because if it takes two, three or one year to refund -- time value of money -- you would lose value of the money. For that matter, it is different from what we have done. They are varying the decision of Parliament. That is the point I am making, I am not interpreting article 174 of the Constitution. So, Mr Speaker, the Ministry of Finance should take that on board. I believe it is wrong for the Ministry to do that. Thank you Mr Speaker.
Hon Majority Leader, are you going to respond or somebody else would respond on the Side of the Majority side of the House?
Mr Speaker, I believe you have given your guidance with respect to the variation of the tax. If it is paid upfront and the person who pays is reimbursed or if the person does not pay at all, the net effect is the same. What we are talking about now is the vehicle to employ the method. How do we get there so that the person is zero rated and by that he or she does not end up paying anything at all? So, it is the ‘vehicle' that we are talking about, which is what you have guided us on. The value is the same now but how to get there is a subject of interpretation. Mr Speaker, what I would say is that we should take note of it because it is a concern expressed by some traders. It is a noticeable concern raised by some traders. Mr Speaker, he said ‘since the beginning of the year'. He did not say -- [Interruptions]-- But the beginning of January is the beginning of the year. If he said the beginning of January, 2017, the beginning of 2017 is 1st January. Mr Speaker, you see how a man who makes a Statement begins to —
Hon Majority Leader and Hon Deputy Minority Leader, do not engage in exchanges. Please address the Speaker.
No, I am still listening to the Hon Majority Leader.
Mr Speaker, the point being made is, if we need to reconcile, what Act passed by Parliament relates to it? Let us attend to it. This is because ultimately, it is the traders who would be affected. Let us look at how best to implement the Act that was passed by Parliament. Mr Speaker, with those few comments, I support the adoption of the Report of the Finance Committee.
The Hon Deputy Finance Minister may conclude.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. We have taken note of the points that have been made in respect of this matter and going forward, the Ministry of Finance would factor them into how we administer exemptions. Mr Speaker, but it is important that we make a few corrections. The Report has said that since the beginning of this year, this is how we have administered exemptions. That is incorrect. In fact, on the 2nd of March, 2017, we came to this august House and presented the Government's Budget Statement and Economic Policy. In paragraph 798 subtitled, “Review of Import Duty Tax Exemptions”, we stated the following and Mr Speaker, with your permission, I would read. It is brief: “Mr Speaker, as a transition arrange- ment, henceforth, applicants for these import duty exemptions and tax reliefs shall be required to, except in exceptional circumstances to be determined by the Minister for Finance, pay fully all applicable import duties and taxes and apply with justification for refund.” We did not even after making this presentation, proceed to implement it. We waited till the 31st of March, 2017, when this House had approved this Policy before we started the implementation on the 1st of April, 2017.
Hon Minority Leader, do you have a point of order?
Rightly so, Mr Speaker. I thought you have guided the Hon Deputy Minister together with the Hon Majority Leader to conclude on the subject. If he begins by saying he has noted and would act, then goes into a reference to quote, maybe, we would advance it in another form. Parliament in the exercise of its power, approving a contract or works contract, grants an exemption. At what point in time can the Ministry of Finance, through another policy action, set aside the earlier grant? I thought —
Hon Minority Leader, I regret to intervene that the Hon Member on his feet said that there was a reference to the phrase ‘beginning of the year'. So, that is what he seeks permission to correct by referring to when they implemented the exercise. That is all. As for the issue relating to — I even have issues that I would have raised with him that they should pay attention to. That does this affect accrued right, rights that were conferred earlier? That is why I am happy that you are referring all that to the Hon Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, because I believe there are legal implications in that respect as well.
Mr Speaker, I believe you summarised my point. I sought to correct the error in the Report and also the error we saw in the submissions that were made. Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. Question put and Motion agreed to.
Item numbered 14 on the Order Paper -- Minister for Finance.
Mr Speaker, I understand that in my absence, an application was made for the Hon Deputy Minister to stand in for the substantive Minister, so, we would continue.
Hon Majority Leader, I did not get the essence of your intervention.
Mr Speaker, an Hon Member asked that an application should be made for the Hon Deputy Minister to stand in for the Minister. I am just drawing attention that while I was away, an application was made for the Hon Deputy Minister to stand in for the substantive Minister, so we could continue on that same path.
Very well, Hon Deputy Minister for Finance?
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that this Honourable House is respectfully requested to adopt the following Resolution: WHEREAS by the provisions of Article 174 (2) of the Constitution, Parliament is empowered to confer power on any person or authority to waive or vary a tax imposed by an Act of Parliament; THE EXERCISE of any power conferred on any person or authority to waive or vary a tax in favour of any person or authority is by the said provisions made subject to the prior approval of Parliament by resolution; BY THE COMBINED operation of the provisions of section 150 (i) of the Customs Act 2015, (Act 891), the Export and Import Act, 1995 (Act 503), the Export Trade, Agricultural and Industrial Fund Act, 2013 (Act 872), the Value Added Tax Act, 2013 (Act 870), the Value Added Tax (Amendment) Act, 2015 (Act 890), the Value Added Tax (Amendment) Act, 2017 (Act 948) and other existing Laws and Regulations applicable to the collection of Customs duties and other taxes on the importation of goods into Ghana, the Minister for Finance may exempt any statutory corporation, institu- tion or individual from the payment of duties and taxes otherwise payable under the said Laws and Regulations or waive or vary the requirement of such statutory corporation, institu- tion or individual to pay such duties and taxes; IN ACCORDANCE with the provisions of the Constitution and at the request of the Government of Ghana acting through the Minister responsible for Finance, there has been laid before Parliament a request by the Minister for Finance for the prior approval of Parliament the exercise by him of his power under the Laws and Regulations relating to the granting of 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. NOW THEREFORE, this honourable House hereby approves the exercise by the Minister responsible for Finance of the power granted to him by Parliament by Statute to grant such 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.
Any seconder? Hon Ranking Member, would you want to second the Motion?
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion.
The Hon Ranking Member is not with us. Mr Chairman, that is fine. Question put and Motion agreed to. Resolved accordingly.
There is a special event that we must perform now. The Hon Majority Leader would make a Statement in the form of a tribute to the late Hon J. H. Owusu-Acheampong, a former Member of Parliament and Leader of the House. Hon Majority Leader, you have the floor now.
Mr Speaker, I rise to pay a tribute in memory of the late Joseph Henry Owusu-Acheampong, a former Member of Parliament who represented the Berekum Constituency, former Majority Leader, former Minister for Parliamentary Affairs and also former Minister for Food, Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs. “Now praise we great and famous men, The fathers named in story; And praise the Lord, who now as then, Reveals in man His glory. Praise we the wise and brave and strong,
Who graced their generation, Who helped the right and fought the wrong, And made our folk a nation” -- CharlesWesley In the affairs of mankind, it is customary to commemorate the dead, especially the renowned, by enshrining their memories in the hearts of succeeding generations and causing their good or heroic deeds to be remembered and emulated by posterity. It is in this regard that the Parliament of Ghana pays this tribute in memory of the late Hon Joseph Henry Owusu- Acheampong, former Member of Parliament for Berekum, former Majority Leader and Minister for Parliamentary Affairs and also former Minister for Food and Agriculture. As we mourn this distinguished statesman, colleague, and beloved friend, we cannot but agree with W.H. Long Fellow when he said, “The heights that great men reached and kept were not attained by sudden flight, but they, while their companions slept were toiling upward in the night”. Parliament received the news of the passing on of Hon J. H. Owusu- Acheampong with deep sorrow, at a time when we least expected it. This was because, though ailment sought to confine him at a point when age had just begun taking a toll on him, most of us were still hopeful that he was going to bounce back to his feet as the Good Lord did for him some time back. Unfortunately, however, it was not to be. The late former Member and Minister would forever be remembered by Parliament, in particular, as a trail blazer, an astute legislator, a decent politician, an agent of change and development, a purpose-driven person, a fine gentleman, a patriot and true statesman whose sweat and toil added value to the consolidation of Parliamentary democracy under the Fourth Republic. Being one of the only two Members of the First Parliament of the Fourth Republic who had had a previous experience as a Member of Parliament, specifically of the Third Republican Parliament, he mentored most of the Members of the First Parliament of the Fourth Republic. Indeed, he brought his experience to bear on the work of the House and contributed meaningfully towards the nurturing, growth and development of the institution of Parliament. As an experienced legislator, he rose to every occasion of challenge and filled the gap whenever required in the House, and this enabled the First Parliament to discharge its mandate effectively, at a time when his calibre of persons were in want. Ghana, having returned to constitutional democracy, and recognising the need for the country to put in place the requisite legal framework and the enabling environment to attract investment, the late Owusu-Acheampong blazed the trail in the Legislature which had returned from over a decade of abeyance. Although not a lawyer, he readily stood in for the then Attorney-General and Minister for Justice whom duty had taken out of the jurisdiction and accordingly, moved the Motion for the Second Reading of the Companies Code (Amendment) Bill, which largely bordered on the principles of law. There were many instances that as Leader of Government Business and Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, the Hon Owusu-Acheampong rose to the occasion and effectively and efficiently filled in for his compatriots; the Ministers. As Majority Leader, he certainly lived up to expectation. Indeed, he devoted valuable time for law making during Consideration Stage of Bills, in particular. He always chaired winnowing sessions with unwavering commitment to improve the text of amendments all with the view to ensuring judicious use of prime time in plenary. This duty he discharged with diligence even to a fault. Not only that, he personally filed amendments and also contributed meaningfully to the debates. Substantiating his proposed amend- ment to the Companies Code (Amendment) Bill at the Consideration Stage, he had this to say, and with your permission, I quote: “...Indeed international investors would think it odd if the directors of the company are not themselves permitted to invest in it on the same terms as everyone else. The proposed amendment therefore provides that, the prohibition in section 202 (2) does not apply where the shareholders of the company approve the issue by an ordinary resolution and where the company is a public listed company or a public company whose equity shares are to become listed at the same time. Again, it is considered that, the rules of the Ghana Stock Exchange and those of reputable international stock exchanges would prevent abuse by directors. His commitment to the development of the Legislature also found expression in his active participation in Committee work. Thus he devoted time to be in attendance at most Committee meetings, which example encouraged other Members to do same. As a true patriot and distinguished statesman, the peace and security of this country was a key focus area he sought to pursue together with the entire House. Moving a Motion for the State of Emergency (Specified Areas) Proclama- tion on the floor, he stated and with your permission, Mr Speaker, I quote: “Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that this House do hereby decide that the State of Emergency (Specified Areas) Proclamation should remain in force....Mr Speaker, I want the House to take an affirmative position on this matter to enable us secure peace and tranquillity in the areas affected. As it is well known, the State is quite concerned; the President is quite concerned; the Executive is quite concerned about the situation in those areas and it is only by this means that law and order can be brought about in the affected areas. Therefore, it is important that this matter should be dealt with expeditiously this evening to allow the Proclamation to be in force. Mr Speaker, I beg to move.” As an agent of change and development, he was committed to the tenets of legislative oversight. He sought to encourage Members to take their oversight functions seriously. He was also committed to the development of a Legislature that is up to the task of exacting accountability from the Executive. This commitment found expression in his attitude in relation to Question time.
Hon Member for Pru East?
Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to contribute to the Statement, which was ably made by the Hon Majority Leader, in this hallowed Chamber, in memory of one of the most illustrious citizens of this country and a doyen of the Fourth Republic. The late Hon Owusu-Acheampong was an Hon Member of Parliament for Berekum, an Hon Majority Leader and an Hon Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, an Hon Regional Minister and an Hon Minister for Agriculture. Mr Speaker, Mr Joseph Henry Owusu- Acheampong was born on the 23rd of August, 1941 to Mr Kofi Kyeremeh and Madam Abena Donkor, both of blessed memory, at Biadan near Berekum. He commenced his formal education at the Biadan Methodist Primary and then to the Berekum Catholic Boys' School from where he proceeded to the St Augustine's College in Cape Coast. He was also a product of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), where he graduated with a Degree in Agriculture in June, 1966, before he proceeded to the Wye College, University of London in the United Kingdom for his Master's Degree in Agricultural Economics in June, 1971. Mr Speaker, in his working life, Hon Owusu-Acheampong worked with the Agricultural Development Bank as a Project Manager and rose to the position of a General Manager before his political calling took him away from the world of banking. He also worked with the Cocoa Marketing Board, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (UN) and as a private sector consultant. Mr Speaker, the late Hon Owusu- Acheampong came into politics through the world trodden route of student activism. He was the President of the KNUST Students' Representative Council (SRC) in 1965 and 1966 and a leading member of the National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS). His NUGS contemporaries included his political sole mate Nana Akuoku Sarpong and the late Paul Vincent Obeng of blessed memory. Mr Speaker, Hon Owusu-Acheampong served as a counsellor of the Berekum- Jaman District Council from 1972 to 1979. He served with distinction on the District Council, and it was therefore not surprising that the people of Berekum elected him to represent them in the Parliament of the Third Republic in 1979, on the ticket of the Popular Front Party. In the Popular Front Party, he belonged to the left wing of the party. His distinguishing attribute was that he played the national interest above any other partisan or ideological vituperation. This was reflected in his decision with his close political pal, Nana Akuoku Sarpong to support the decision of the Limann Government to import Tata buses from India contrary to the position of his political party that had proffered the importation of the same from the traditional western suppliers. The two of them sided with the majority People's National Party (PNP) and narrowly approved the deal. He was not afraid to stand alone when principle and nationalism were at stake. This is the stature of the man we mourn today. When the Third Republic was truncated by the 31st December, 1981 coup, Hon Owusu-Acheampong and his Parliamentary colleagues found their accommodation at Nsawam prison, even though he was a Minority Member of Parliament and had no access to Executive privileges. Mr Speaker, upon his release from detention, various approaches were made to him to join the new Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC). As a nationalist, he was torn between putting his expertise at the disposal of his beloved motherland and sitting on the fence to watch the new rendition of Ghanaian governance and politics take shape. Mr Speaker, in April 1988, his nationalistic umbilical chord could no longer resist the call to duty and therefore accepted with the approval of the late Hon Victor Owusu, the offer to serve, first as the PNDC Regional Secretary for Brong Ahafo. He so excelled in this position that his leadership of the region from 1988 to 1993 is seen by many as the golden era of Brong Ahafo. Mr Speaker, when the Fourth Republic was birthed, the Hon Owusu- Acheampong had the distinction of becoming the first Majority Leader of the
Mr Speaker, I have known Mr J. H. Owusu-Acheampong for almost forty years. He was once a believer in our political philosophy and later in life shifted his political affiliation and beliefs and became a strong believer in the philosophy of my Hon Colleagues on the other side of the isle. Mr Speaker, he was made the Regional Secretary under H.E. Jerry John Rawlings and held several positions as we have been told, under the PNDC and the NDC. But the blend of the two philosophies really defined this man. He got along with anybody irrespective of which party the person belonged to. This is because he always had something about either party, beliefs or philosophies to share. Mr Speaker, there are certain coincidences in life that people probably think have no meaning. But when we look at the initials of Hon J. H. Owusu- Acheampong and that of Hon J. H. Mensah, it appears unrelated and a mere coincidence. But these initials stand for Joseph Henry Owusu-Acheampong and Joseph Henry Mensah. The same initials — Coincidence? Maybe yes or no. But people strongly believe that one of them chose their first two names because one wanted to look like the other. I am told that he himself confessed it that he took his name because he wanted to be like J. H. Mensah and that is why we see Joseph Henry and Joseph Henry. Mr Speaker, I believe he made the right choices and moved in the right direction. It is not surprising that they both became Members of Parliament for the Brong Ahafo region and they both became leaders of this august House. Mr Speaker, but the irony was that the two gentlemen became Majority Leaders for the two different and major opposing parties and political groups of the country. But J. H. Owusu-Acheampong was a nationalist who had a strong passion for the development of this country, and indeed, for the Brong Ahafo region in particular. Mr Speaker, he was very much instrumental in making Sunyani one of the cleanest cities in this nation. And I am glad that they have named some of the roads after him. Mr Speaker, Mr Owusu-Acheampong is loved by the people of Sunyani, Berekum, and indeed the people of Brong Ahafo and he would be sorely missed. My condolences go to his wife, children, one of whom came to my house in the United States (US) with his father when he was looking for University admission for him in the early 2000, and above all, to his extended families. Mr Speaker, Mr J. H. Owusu-Acheampong was a good man, a great father, a nationalist, a patriot, a legislator par excellence, and above all, he was a kind person who was always willing to help his fellow man. May the Lord God grant him eternal rest.
Mr Speaker, thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to pay tribute to the late Hon J. H. Owusu- Acheampong. Mr Speaker, I had the opportunity to work closely with the late J. H. Owusu- Acheampong when I had the opportunity to be appointed as an assembly member to the Asutifi District Assembly at the time when he was the Regional Secretary for Brong Ahafo Region. After that, I also had the opportunity to be in Parliament at the same time with him when he became the first Hon Majority Leader in this Fourth Republic. Mr Speaker, as young men then who had entered politics and did not know our left from our right in terms of politics, he was full of guidance. He was a man who was very kind to all of us and showed love and care to those of us who were young and were learning from him. Mr Speaker, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Party would never forget Hon J. H. Owusu-Acheampong because at the formative stage of the Party, he put his political skills to the benefit of the great NDC Party.
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to grieve with the family of the late Hon J. H. Owusu- Acheampong. Mr Speaker, I had the opportunity to engage the late J. H. Owusu-Acheampong while as a doctor of St. John's Hospital and Fertility Centre and also because he was a close brother to the husband of my political mentor, the late Grace Coleman who was a former Member of Parliament (MP) for Effiduase/Asokore. Mr Speaker, I found the late J. H. Owusu-Acheampong as a Statesman; regardless of one's political affiliation, he would always advise the person to become a better person. As a doctor, regardless of the party that he belonged to he would come and consult confidently noting that once I was a member of Alliance for Accountable Governance (AFAG), I would go out there and demonstrate. He would come the next day and I would consult him; he would not say anything but before he leaves office, he would assure me the reason the NDC would always be in office. Mr Speaker, I lost two primaries and won the third one. In all the two primaries, he would always encourage me why I have to take my time as a young person because for every good struggle, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. There were times that I had gone to the primaries; the first time I lost close to Mrs Coleman, he encouraged me. He told me his own story and where he had come from and the need to be patient as a young man; there was no need to rush. Mr Speaker, I always found this man to be a very pleasant person and I saw him as a Statesman. I did not have the opportunity to be in Parliament with him but I know he definitely would be that person who would accommodate all persons from all political divides. It is on this score that I stand here to talk about the late J. H. Owusu- Acheampong's affability, his in-depth knowledge, statesmanship and his encouragement for the youth. Wherever he is, we pray for God's guidance and wish him a safe journey across the river. May he rest in peace. Thank you. Some Hon Members — rose --
Hon Members, I would take the last one before I come to the Leaders.
Mr Speaker, thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to make few comments on the tribute. Mr Speaker, today is a very sad day because we are talking about the first Hon Majority Leader of the Fourth Republic of Ghana. Looking around, I am very sad because those who started in the First Parliament of the Fourth Republic, one can see only three who benefited from that Parliament in this current Parliament. They are the Hon Majority Leader, the Hon Alhaji Collins Dauda and our father, the Hon Alban S. K. Bagbin. Mr Speaker, I said it is sad because when they started the First Parliament of the Fourth Republic, records can tell us that there were only two Members of Parliament who benefitted from the Third Republican Parliament. For that matter, the Hon J. H. Owusu- Acheampong and the then Hon Member for Osu Klottey, Hon Nortey were the only two MPs with Parliamentary experience who helped to build the principles, systems and firm foundations of the infrastructure that we are enjoying today. The same way, when one sees the Hon Alban Bagbin, nobody would tell the person that he benefitted from the Hon J. H. Owusu-Acheampong; the same goes for Hon Collins Dauda. It is on that note that I would urge we the young ones to pay attention. If we want to be here for long, we need to tap from the experience of those who benefited from the first Hon Majority Leader. That is the reason people will make noise but if one has that experience, the person would go and come back. Mr Speaker, on the other side, if we go to the political history of Hon J. H. Owusu- Acheampong, we were in school those days and two letters of the English alphabet were floating everywhere -- J. H. -- J. H. It is either J. H. Owusu- Acheampong or J. H. Mensah. Mr Speaker, these were men who could stand on their feet and give superior arguments to convince their opponents. When we go into the Hansards, they are there. Mr Speaker, Hon J. H. Owusu- Acheampong trained a lot of people. I can call myself a grandson of the Hon first Majority Leader of the House. He trained the Hon Johnson Asiedu Nketia and he has made it clear that, Hon Owusu- Acheampong was a selfless and principled politician. Mr Speaker, on the side, when asked about their properties, these selfless, altruistic, principled and much disciplined politicians owned their Constituencies and Regions. Therefore, if Brong Ahafo East is very well modernised and planned today, we should credit the first President and the Hon J. H. Owusu-Acheampong.
He was a disciplined politician and he made sure that the principles that set out the layout of Sunyani were also strictly followed. Therefore, when one goes to Sunyani, one can see that it is a planned city. Mr Speaker, even though certain things have started going bad, I would not mention them. If Brong Ahafo is benefiting from asphaltic roads today, we cannot say it without mentioning the name of Hon J. H. Owusu-Acheampong. Mr Speaker, even though I am not trying to draw our Clerk to Parliament into the debates, history will tell us that, those days when one is in Brong Ahafo and got to Techiman and wanted to go to Nkoranza, they used to call it “No Ghana”. Nkoranza used to be called “No Ghana” because there was no proper roads going to that place. Hon J. H. Owusu- Acheampong made sure that he opened the place up. Today, we are proud of the place that used to be described as “No Ghana”. It is now a municipality.
Hon Deputy Minority Chief Whip, in 1990, there was no Parliament but I was the lawyer for Nkoranza District Assembly. I drove there on a proper road. Even though it was not tarred, it was motorable. [Laughter.]
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. I wish the Hon Maj. Retd Derek Oduro were here, he would have confirmed that, yes, it used to be called “No Ghana”. [Laughter.] The timing is what I may get wrong. Mr Speaker, what I am saying is that he was the Regional Secretary from 1988 to 1993. He is the longest serving Regional Minister in the Brong Ahafo Region. Nobody has got that opportunity. Not only is he the longest serving --
Hon Member, have you realised you are drawing too much controversy?
Mr Speaker, the tribute that we are paying to a former Hon Majority Leader, a statesman that we all adore and admire, I believe the occasion should not be used to infect this House with historical inexactitude. A lot of things that my Hon Colleague is saying are factual inaccuracies. This is a House of record, so, respectfully, let us deal with the tribute and he should not say things that he does not know.
Hon Deputy Minority Chief Whip, pay tribute to the man for his statesmanship and leave out references which may not be factual.
Mr Speaker, I started by saying that the Hon Majority Leader benefited from the first Majority Leader's experience. This is a House of record. He cannot just make a blanket statement that my statement is full of inaccuracies. If they are full of inaccuracies, he benefited from his experience, he should set the records straight and let it go into the Hansard. But Mr Speaker, beyond that, this is why political offices exist for us to occupy. Therefore, when we have the opportunity, the legacy we leave is what we would be remembered for. It is on that note that I am just mentioning few of the legacies that were left by the first leader of this House. He was not just the only longest serving Regional Minister of the Brong Ahafo Region, he was also the longest serving Majority Leader of this House. Mr Speaker, to borrow the words from the tweaa DCE, he had no co-equal and this is on record. On this note, Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity given to me and I believe the Hon J. H. Owusu-Acheampong raised the political bar so high. If today, he started with Hon Justice D. F. Annan as the first Rt. Hon Speaker of the House and we have named the parliamentary auditorium after him, I will make a humble plea that something be named after the Hon first Majority Leader of this House, Hon J. H. Owusu- Acheampong just to serve as a legacy for some of us to appreciate that, at least, it pays to serve Ghana; it pays to leave a legacy. If for nothing at all, one would be remembered by the legacy that one left in this place. Thank you, Mr Speaker. I believe this my humble plea would be taken in good faith. I thank you for the opportunity.
I thank you, Mr Speaker. I rise to comment on the tribute made in honour of the Late Hon Joseph Henry Owusu-Acheampong who passed to eternity some few weeks ago. Mr Speaker, the Hon Owusu- Acheampong was a native of Berekum. In fact, as already alluded to, he came from Biadan, one of the key communities of the Berekum Municipality. Being a native of Berekum, I knew him on a personal level. In fact, he was a contemporary of my uncle. So, we used to visit him when he was a Regional Secretary for Brong Ahafo Region in those days. Anytime my uncle came to Sunyani, he took me along and we paid him a visit and I knew how friendly he was and the pieces of advice that he gave us as young people in those days. Mr Speaker, before I exited the university, I became one of the leaders of the Brong Ahafo Students Union. I was the Vice President and we needed to liaise with the Regional Coordinating Council (RCC) which was headed by the Hon J. H. Owusu-Acheampong and we never regretted having an interaction with him. He continued to serve as a mentor to us and he motivated and encouraged us anytime we had a meeting with him. He also supported us immensely in the activities that we undertook as a students' group from the Brong Ahafo Region, especially so when we wanted to bring up many young people to enter the university from the Region. He gave us all the supported we needed and we have always been grateful to him. Politically, Mr Speaker, I was very young in 1979 but we saw the political activities that went on in those days. Mr Speaker, he was the candidate of the Danquah-Busia Tradition, and the Popular Front Party candidate for the Berekum Constituency, which he won convincingly and entered Parliament. Mr Speaker, later on, when Parliament was proscribed after the 1981 coup d'etat, he subsequently became a member of the PNDC and was made the regional secretary
Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to contribute to the Statement ably made by the Hon Majority Leader and Leader for Government Business in paying tribute to one of our senior Hon Colleagues, the late Hon J. H. Owusu- Acheampong. Mr Speaker, we know that even though the late Hon J. H. Owusu-Acheampong was an NDC Member of Parliament and stalwart, the Hon Majority Leader led the way so that Parliament would be seen honouring him in unison in death. Mr Speaker, I would describe the late Hon J. H. Owusu-Acheampong as a very practical, principled and progressive politician with dedicated public service. As a young person and a young Hon Minister then, I recall that anytime he found difficulty with something one did or said that was wrong, he would raise his hand and say, “young man”, and then we would appreciate that he conveyed that his preference would have been that one dealt with it in another way. Mr Speaker, his friends, relatives, family, Parliament and Ghana would miss him. Mr Speaker, I am compelled to take us through memory lane. In paying tribute to him, may I refer to the Hansard of 5th August, 1994, and with your indulgence, I would like to quote. It was on a fine day like this; the closing Meeting of Parliament, and this was what he had to say: “I must also on my own behalf and on behalf of leadership of the House express our sincere thanks to all Hon Members of the House for their active participation in the work of the House throughout the Meeting. We have done this under difficult conditions, we have also gone through hardship by way of what appears to be insufficient remuneration or allowance which we had to bear in the interest of the nation. We know that as Hon Members of the House who have committed themselves to their respective constituencies and who have pledged to serve their nation, they would go on and do the good job that they have done so far and we hope that sooner or later the appropriate remuneration and allowances would be restored and they would be happy to continue to do the good work.” Mr Speaker, this can only be the mark of self-sacrifice. In his commitment to serve his country, he was a selfless person. Mr Speaker, when I heard of the sudden death, I accompanied Hon Ahmed Ibrahim and the former Hon Minister for Power to his home. There are two things, as I get to the end of my tribute to him. Mr Speaker, I would wish, if there is an opportunity, that within the Brong Ahafo Region, we should find a road that forms a T junction, and name one after the living Hon J. H. Mensah and the other, which ends at the T junction after Hon J. H. Owusu- Acheampong. This is in order that we would begin to appreciate the roles they played at some point in their national lives and service, even though they belonged to different political philosophies and values. This is so that tomorrow, the young people of the Brong Ahafo Region could learn from them. We could have one of the roads ending on the other, whichever way higher authority may want to consider. Mr Speaker, I also commend the Hon Majority Leader, and in particular, the Rt Hon Speaker of Parliament and the President of the Republic. Indeed, when the Hon Majority returned home, I had attended the one- week celebration of his death at his residence with Hon Ahmed Ibriahim. The Hon Leader invited me to a meeting and asked what we could do for the former Hon Majority Leader. I was with the family members in Berekum, and I think that we should strongly recommend a State-assisted funeral for him. I understand that has been granted, and we should commend the Government for accepting to support the family to lay him to a peaceful rest. Mr Speaker, in concluding, I would also refer to the Hansard of 9th February, 1994. I am sure one of the lessons we could all learn is that it is not always the case that when an Hon Member from our sides errs on a matter that is wrong, we should just jump to support him or her because they belong to our political party. I would want to make this significant quote of the late Hon J. H. Owusu-Acheampong. As the Hon Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Hon Ken Dzirasah had said something that Hon Owusu-Acheampong was unhappy about even though he belonged to his Party and Caucus. This is what the late Hon J. H. Owusu- Acheampong, as the then Hon Minister for Parliamentary Affairs said, and with your permission, I beg to quote: “Mr Speaker, much as I wish that this House would at all times comply with every provision of the Constitution of Ghana, I wish to draw attention of the Hon Member (Mr Ken Dzirasah) to the fact that there is an existing situation in this
country which needs immediate attention of this House and the Government of Ghana. Thousands of people are being killed. There is nothing more of disintegration of the nation than this and it is this House that has to take measures to ensure that these things stop. What the Hon Member wants us to do is to keep quiet over the situation.” Mr Speaker, so he fundamentally disagreed with one of his own in pursuit of the general good and peace of the country and we should eulogise him with this. I share the view that we may want to name something in his memory. He served his country as an Hon Minister, Regional Minister, Hon Minister for Agriculture and Hon Member of Parliament. Mr Speaker, I think that even the institutional building of Parliament today, and the improved Standing Orders that we have, we owe it to the likes of Mr J. H. Owusu-Acheampong and the sacrifices they made and contributed for the effective and efficient Parliamentary democracy of our country. As we look back and even as Hon Members are challenged with poor conditions of service, ours compared to their generation, is better and I think that we should also learn the sacrifice from their service to the country and service to this House. I hope that as many Hon Members as possible, would join me in Berekum so that we could do him the honour of laying him to rest. I trust that many of us could learn more of the interface that happened in the days of the year 1994 till he exited Parliament in the year 2000. I know that he was a former Hon Member of a Parliament which ended up with some change that we all said no to for the future good of our country. Mr Speaker, so, I thank him for his contribution and I am sure if he was strong and healthy today, he would probably be among persons who should be aspiring to lead the great National Democratic Congress (NDC) party from the Brong Ahafo region. We love him but God loves him most. May his soul rest in perfect peace.
Hon Members, at this juncture, I will request, that we observe a minute's silence in honour of our former Leader. Hon Majority Leader, what next?
Mr Speaker, when the Hon First Deputy Minority Whip -- Hon Ibrahim Ahmed was paying his tribute, I had cause to intervene to reprimand him for what he had said, that is, some aspects of his contribution. I must admit though that there was something that he said that had not crossed my mind on the issue of naming a facility in Parliament after him. I think that we should give it some deep thought and see what to do for him. Certainly, he has left a landmark in this House. Mr Speaker, we now have to dwell much on what the Committee on Finance would be able to do for us. I understand that they are still working on their Report and because what is outstanding on the Order Paper, items listed as 18,19 and 20 which follow after what we have done, still depend on the Committee on Finance and I may want to move that we take a suspension of the House's proceedings for one hour to await the Committee on Finance while allowing the opportunity for some of to also have a bite. Mr Speaker, I thank you and I so move, accordingly.
There is a Report here which is also listed and I do not know whether we could take that before we suspend. The one on the Joint Committee on Finance and Works and Housing -- the one relating to -- item numbered -- [Pause] -- when we come back?
Mr Speaker, I ordinarily should just be seconding the call by the Hon Majority Leader for us to suspend Sitting but in my tribute, there is one significant thing which I think should not escape us. This morning, as I woke up, the Hon Hackman Owusu-Agyemang who is an Hon Colleague and friend to the Hon J. H. Owusu-Acheampong called to ask whether we would be paying the tribute today and that he would be joining us to demonstrate solidarity as the House pays tribute to him. I thought that we should recognise that and even though, at the time, he had tried reaching Leadership, I gave him 11o'clock but he has even endeavoured to be here up till this hour just to appreciate the personality of Hon J. H. Owusu-Acheampong as former Leader of the House. Mr Speaker, with that I think that a suspension would be worthwhile as we come back to do any other Business and we could probably at your conclusion adjourn till we meet.
Very well. I think that it is appropriate that we thank the Venerable Hon Hackman Owusu- Agyemang, he has been here since morning to partake in the Statement to commemorate the death of the late Hon J. H. Owusu-Acheampong. Senior Hon Member, we thank you for mourning with us all day. [Hear! Hear!] The House is suspended for one hour. 5.08 p.m. -- Sitting suspended. 7.50 p.m. -- Sitting resumed.
Hon Members, welcome back from the short break which became a long break . [Laughter.] Hon Majority Leader, could we now take Motion numbered 15?
Mr Speaker, that is so.
Very well. Item numbered 15 on the Order Paper -- Hon Chairman of the Committee?
Mr Speaker, I beg to
move, that notwithstanding the provisions of Standing Order 80(1) which require that no Motion shall be debated until at least forty-eight hours have elapsed between the date on which notice of the Motion is given and the date on which the Motion is moved, the Motion for the adoption of the 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 Development Fund for an amount thirty- five million, nine hundred and fifty thousand Units of Account (UA35,950,000 [equivalent to US$48.85 million]) to finance the Greater Accra Sustainable Sanitation and Livelihoods Improvement Project (GASSLIP) may be moved today.
Any seconder? Hon Ranking Member (Mr Cassiel A. B. Forson): Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion. Question put and Motion agreed to.
Item numbered 16 on the Order Paper -- Hon Chairman of the Committee? GoG/ADF Financing Agreement —
SPACE FOR COMPONENT NAME
Hon Ranking Member for the Committee on Finance?
Yes, Hon Kpodo?
Mr Speaker, thank you. Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion to approve this concessionary loan from the African Development Fund towards the implementation of the sanitation programme for the Greater Accra Region. Mr Speaker, the support stems from the fact that the loan is a concessionary one and the conditions are very favourable. Mr Speaker, but as we have required over the time, there was no Debt Sustainability Analysis (DSA) attached to this. We asked for it but the sponsors were not able to produce it during the discussions at the Committee meeting. Mr Speaker, the other major problem we had with the Agreement --
Hon Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation?
Mr Speaker, the Hon Member is misleading the House. The question was asked and an answer was given that it is not every loan that comes and a DSA is done. Mr Speaker, but before they bring it, they would have done a DSA that would be incorporated in it already. It is not loan-by-loan. Mr Speaker, the answer was given and so for the Hon Member to say that no answer was given it is not correct. That is not how DSAs are done. It is not done that way. Mr Speaker, he is a senior Hon Member of the Committee on Finance and I believe that he should not inadvertently mislead the House.
Very well. Hon Kpodo, be guided by the objection from a member of your Committee.
Mr Speaker, we asked for it and it was important because we are concerned about the rising debt levels of the country. Mr Speaker, that was why we asked for it and we would continue to ask. Mr Speaker, there were a few other deficiencies in the Agreement and which we had to address. Mr Speaker, when you look at the third and fifth programmes, there seemed not to be any difference between the two and so it would be necessary to collapse the two so that there would not be overlaps in the implementation of the GASSLIP. Mr Speaker, there was one issue of major concern to us. About UA2.3 million of the loan would be assigned to microfinance institutions to on-lend to poor beneficiaries in the communities. Mr Speaker, our worry is that this arrangement was not properly fashioned out and explained. This is because which of the microfinance companies are the moneys going to be given to and at what interest for them to on-lend to the supposed poor beneficiaries? It is of great concern to us and we believe that the implementers of the programme -- the Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources -- should ensure that moneys that would be given to poor beneficiaries at a cheap cost so that they would be able to afford the toilet facilities that they have to build in their homes, otherwise, it would be on paper and they would not benefit from it. Mr Speaker, we also tried to find out how much it will cost to build one toilet or sanitation facility but we were unable to get the figure and this would create problems for monitoring and auditing purposes. Mr Speaker, so, as we are here, yes, the programme would be implemented but we do not know in advance how much each facility would cost in every category. Some are central septic sewer tanks and some are private toilet facilities but we do not know how much each would cost in a category. Mr Speaker, we know the particular programme is for the Greater Accra Region. Earlier, we have had Agricultural Services Investment Project (ASSIP), we also have the Greater Accra Metropolitan Area (GAMA) Project. So the question is, why are all our efforts only in Accra? What about the other regional and district centres outside Accra, like my constituency, Ho Central, which has the regional capital? I have not seen any specific project for it. We have requested the Hon Minister to find means of going outside Accra to the other regions so that they could also benefit from such programmes to improve their livelihood. However, Mr Speaker, the most important worry for us is the rising public debt. You would recall that we have been informed that we have a lot of money in Ghana. The Vice President who worked in the Bank of Ghana --
Hon Member, which paragraph of the Report is on the rising debt? Which section are you speaking to?
Mr Speaker, I believe it is public knowledge that we have a lot of money in Ghana, and we would not go and borrow money, but today, if we approve this, we are increasing the public debt by GH¢290 million, and mine would be coming --
Hon Member, could you listen to me in silence? The Hon Speaker ruled today that if you have matters outside the Report, do not second the Motion. But if you are moving the Motion as the Leader or as the Chairman of the Committee or the Ranking Member, you speak to the Report. That ruling is still binding, and is what I would enforce. I direct you to restrict yourself to the Report. Tomorrow, if you get another opportunity, then recuse yourself from seconding it so that you could do the other things.
Mr Speaker, I am guided by your ruling, but I just would want to emphasise that I am speaking to the Report. By this approval, we are adding GH¢48 million to our public debt, today.
I hope that going by your advice, when another one is requested for the Volta Region, you would make the same argument. [Laughter.] Yes, Hon Member for Okaikoi North?
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I am going to stick to the Report that is before me. The Government of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) led by H. E. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo is making Ghana work again. [Hear! Hear!] Before this House today is a Motion for the consideration of a loan. This loan is going to be disbursed within the Greater Accra Region towards the development of our drainage and surroundings. Mr Speaker, I would stick to two objectives of this project. The first one is to sustain sanitation in households and hygiene in our schools. I believe this is a very good use to which a loan should be put to. Mr Speaker, behaviours that we did not get opportunity to learn or that we have forgotten of, led us to have garbage every morning on the streets of Lapaz, Tesano and everywhere else in Accra. I believe if this loan is put to good use by the Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources and our children are caught at the very tender age within the schools and they get on to these behaviours, the whole community stands to benefit in the long run. Mr Speaker, secondly, this loan is going to improve the waste management infrastructure and services within Accra. My Constituency, Okaikoi North spans Lapaz all the way to Kisseman and Christian Village. Because we lacked infrastructure, every morning households collect refuse and bring it on the high streets or the main streets within my Constituency. Mr Speaker, it is refreshing to know that there is light at the end of the tunnel and that residents of my Constituency are going to get the their infrastructural system developed to help them dispose of their household refuse. Mr Speaker, as a Government, we have already started. Currently, we have a refuse transfer station in Achimota. This would help in the management waste that we generate from our homes. I believe this loan would be put to good use. If the previous Government had put loans that were contracted in the name of this country to productive uses like we are doing with this particular loan, Ghana would have stand to benefit. Mr Speaker, we can talk about debt to GDP ratio. At the time that the Government of the NPP took over the reigns of this country, our debt-to-GDP ratio was in excess of 72 per cent. The Government of the NPP is working very hard. We have the target of below 70 per cent debt-to-GDP ratio, come 2017. Mr Speaker, I urge the House to support this Motion and for the people of Ghana to benefit and have better surroundings wherever they are.
Hon Member for Ho West?
Mr Speaker, I beg to support the Motion and also add my voice to the Agreement. Mr Speaker, in doing so, I have two observations. One has to do with the objectives of the project. We all know that the project would increase the sanitation percentage from 20 per cent to 40 per cent in the urban centres, and this would prevent what we know as open defecation which prevents tourists from going to our beaches as we are aware. Mr Speaker, component 2 of the project which has to do with waste management and infrastructural services is largely to connect most households to our sewer connection, and if you look at bullet 1; it read and with permission I quote; “connection of poor households to newly-rehabilitated and expanded sewer network”, In advanced countries, we have stopped using septic tanks, as we all know. That helps us to generate some waste energy from the solid waste. So, we noticed that it is indeed good for this country to move from septic tanks, which we all know to be individual connections to a centralised connection that would help us. Mr Speaker, if we look at bullet 3 of the same second component, it says “support the establishment of private sanitation providers”, and the private sanitation providers are supposed to do what we call sucking of solid waste from the various septic tanks. My expectation is that we would move away completely from sucking waste materials from septic tanks to the centralised system that would create additional avenues for us to create energy. Mr Speaker, all these intentions are good, but from the Works and Housing Committee, we have noticed from the built environment that they designed a detailed one for the various household toilets, but it was not added to the contract. We expect that we could interrogate to see as Hon Members from the various environments -- as members of various professions -- we would be able to know the cost per unit for the various toilets, but we do not have it. Also, when we look at the cost of connection to the sewer lines, we do not have all those costs --
Hon Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation?
On a point of order. Mr Speaker, it is true that it was a Joint Committee of Finance and Works and Housing, but the Public Financial Management Act (PFMA) is very clear on
Mr Speaker, we have been in this House for a very long time, and we know that most agreements that come to this House sometimes come with drawings, and detailed bills of quantities. I have been in this House for a very long time and been involved with loans, we look at them at Joint Committee. When the STX loan agreement came, it came with designs and others. When other estimates came, they came with it.
Hon Member, are you addressing me? Kindly answer me. What was referred to the Joint Committee? Was it a loan agreement or it was a construction agreement?
Mr Speaker, it was a loan agreement, but that is why it was a Joint Committee; the Works and Housing Committee and the Finance Committee. If it were to be left with only the conditions of the contract, then we would have left it for them, but the Speaker thought it wise that we need expertise from the Works and Housing Committee, and that was why he referred it to the Joint Committee. So, Mr Speaker, we wanted to look at the details. We do not even know whether the details would be compatible to our environment or not. Mr Speaker, this was our observation. Thank you very much, but the project is good.
Hon Minister for Finance, kindly conclude, or are there other contributions? Nobody was standing. Very well. Hon Deputy Minority Leader, kindly resume your seat. The last person was from your side, so I would come to the Leadership of the Majority. Hon Members, it is past 8.00 o'clock. I decided to restrict contributions to two Hon Members on each side of the House. I believe this should be sufficient, so I would come to the Leadership, so that we save time. There is no controversy on this loan, please.
Mr Speaker, the person who just spoke is from the Minority side of the House, so it should come to the Majority side of the House now, then it goes to the Deputy Leader, then it comes to the Leadership, and then we would see what to do. From her, it comes to Leadership, and then the Minority would have to nominate one, and then it comes to our turn.
If I give her the chance would she be the second contributor? All right, I get it now. Hon Abena Osei-Asare, you may contribute now.
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to contribute to the Motion on the Floor of the House.
Hon Members, order! Hon Member, please let me hear you.
Mr Speaker, there is no country in this world that does not borrow -- [Uproar] -- Mr Speaker, what we spoke against was the reckless borrowing by the previous government. We are not against borrowing. We would only borrow for projects that can pay for themselves, or we would borrow for a social project where the benefits far outweigh the cost, just like this one. This is to improve sanitation in Greater Accra Region. Year after year, there is outbreak of cholera, and we want to check some of these things, so that is why we feel -- [Hear! Hear!]-- That is why we feel that the social benefits of this loan would far outweigh the costs. We value human lives, so we feel we should improve sanitation in the Greater Accra. Mr Speaker, again, concerning the debt stock, the high debt stock was caused by our predecessor. They borrowed to the tune of GH¢123 billion. Mr Speaker, even if the NPP decides not to take any loan, the debt stock would still rise as a result of high interest payments. Currently, we use 40 per cent of our domestic tax revenue to service debts that our predecessors borrowed. Mr Speaker, this particular loan is a facility from the African Development Bank (AFDB). It is concessionary in nature. The components of concession is 35.97 per cent, which is way above the usual World Bank benchmark of 32 to 33 per cent.
Hon Minister, you should please hold on. Yes, Hon Member for Ho West?
On a point of order. Mr Speaker, I have noticed that our Hon Deputy Minister is leading us in the wrong direction. Mr Speaker, if she says that the previous Government had borrowed excessively and recklessly and she has come to inherit it, what she should do to bring the debt down is to pay and stop borrowing. But she is rather borrowing; how can she bring it down?
Hon Member, you are out of order.
Mr Speaker thank you. Mr Speaker, this particular loan has an interest rate of one per cent per annum and this is far cheaper than the commercial loans that our predecessors took. Mr Speaker, I would urge all Hon Members to support this loan because of the various objectives that this facility would do for our nation. Mr Speaker, first of all, it would go a long way to sustain households, school sanitation and hygiene. It would also improve waste management and infrastructure and service. Mr Speaker, it would also institutionalise and strengthen our hygiene institutions, and also build capacities. Mr Speaker, again, it would enhance livelihoods and improve the economic wellbeing of our nation. Mr Speaker, obviously, this far outweighs the cost of the loan so I believe that we should all support this House and support the Government to get this loan to help our nation. Mr Speaker, thank you.
Yes, Hon Deputy Leader?
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I beg to support the Motion and to ask the House to approve of the facility. Mr Speaker, I am supporting this Agreement because the purpose or objective of the loan, which is captured on page 1 of eight of the Report is that, it would help us to have increased access to adequate, safe and affordable water, improve environmental sanitation and hygiene education and to ensure favourable state of health of the general population. Mr Speaker, this is a very important objective and this facility is being sought for the people of Accra. Accra is our capital city and therefore sanitation, water and health issues must be of importance to this House. Mr Speaker, whenever a loan facility is being brought to this House which we all approve, we look at the objective of the loan and the benefits that the people of this country would derive from it, then as a House, we collectively approve the facility. Mr Speaker, this is one of those that we are doing today. We did same in the past. When loan agreements came to this House, the House looked at the objectives of the facility and collectively approved those facilities. Mr Speaker, if today the Government of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) has found it necessary to go and borrow in order to provide water and sanitation for the people of Greater Accra, then we on the Minority Side would support it because we have seen that it is a good thing to do. Mr Speaker, despite the issue where people say that there is money here, we know that they would have to borrow to do most of the things that they would want to do. Mr Speaker, Ghanaians would begin to know that in the past, though the NPP said that we did not need to borrow, the reality is now dawning on them to borrow and so we would support them. Once we have seen that it is for a good cause, we would do that. Mr Speaker, we need to know that paragraph 7.6 of the Report says and with your permission I quote; “the Committee was made aware that the project would include a waste-to-energy technology that converts liquid waste to energy (biogas) for consumption. Though, the exact quantum of energy to be provided (watts) could not be readily provided…” Mr Speaker, it is very important -- The project should have indicated that part of it is to convert waste to energy and at watts of energy that would be provided or converted out of this, so that we can measure the performance of this project to know that they want to convert waste into energy, for instance, a thousand watts of energy or one million watts of energy. Mr Speaker, if they are not able to provide that, then we can measure it, but if that is not available, then in my view, the conclusion is that we are not going to get any energy at all from this project. Mr Speaker, this is because I believe that the Hon Minister in winding up should tell us what the watts should be or wattage of power to be provided or converted from this? Mr Speaker, that is first one. Also, it is very important that as we approve this Loan Agreement, we demand from the Ministry to as well provide the Works Contract, so that this House could look at it and approve it as well. Mr Speaker, if we are approving the loan facility and we do not even know who the contractor is or who the contractor would be, and we do not even know how much the contract sum is, then what are we doing as a House? Mr Speaker, we demand that the works contract is also brought to this House immediately or as soon as possible, so that we also know what is being done there. Mr Speaker, I believe that with these few issues that I have spoken about we demand that the works contract is brought to the House for approval. Mr Speaker, except for those issues that the Hon Minister should take on board and provide, I support that we all approve this facility for the loan to be given to the Government.
Hon Deputy Leader, on the lighter side, have you seen the video of the septic tank which they have at the bank, “Beware this is full of political promises.” [Laughter.] I thought that the amount of political promises it can generate should be the one that would determine the amount of energy, but since we do not know the amount of political promises that would come, it would be difficult to determine the amount of energy that we can generate. Anyway, this is on the lighter side. May I please hear the Hon Majority Leader? I would listen to the Hon Majority Leader before I come to the Hon Minister.
Mr Speaker, I would let the Hon Minister take my place.
All right, Hon Minister?
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, indeed, I am delighted to hear from both Sides of the House that this loan facility is a very good one, because it is meant to finance sanitation,
Mr Speaker, I appreciate that you would want to put the Question, but once we have the Hon Minister winding up and summarising, it is important that he recognises that the Hon Deputy Minority Leader raised an issue about the works contract which should be subjected to parliamentary scrutiny. We would have expected that he would respond to that, he being silent is of concern to us. So, Hon Minister, we need an assurance that you would bring the works contract for parliamentary scrutiny and consideration.
Hon Majority Leader, do you want to speak to that?
Mr Speaker, Parliament has persistently sought for that. Yes, in the past, we did not have the benefit of scrutinising all such contracts. We have always demanded. What was wrong yesterday, cannot be right today. So I join ranks in insisting that they come by that. Mr Speaker, the Public Financial Management Act (PFMA) suggests that we decouple the agreement from the contract, so the two cannot be put together. But having dealt with this now, let it come alongsides that consideration in the fullness of time, which should not be too long from now after the approval of the agreement. Mr Speaker, I thank you. Question put and Motion agreed to.
Item numbered 17 -- Resolution. Hon Minister for Finance?
I see an hon Deputy Minister for Finance on his feet. -- I am sorry, this is item numbered 17. Permission was sought in respect of item numbered 14. If there is permission sought now, I would consider it.
Mr Speaker, I thought indication was given about what the Hon Minister himself has been doing today, which occasioned the application to have the hon Deputy Ministers do so for him. So I believe we can reactivate the application. If the need has arisen, but I thought that it would have that application throughout the conduct of business in the House today.
Well, I did not know about the one-size-fits- all application. I will consider each one of the two.
Mr Speaker, the application is re-submitted.
Mr Speaker, your request for an application is even further justified that if the hon Majority Leader looks behind him, it is not one hon Deputy Minister for Finance. Assuming the two of them both rose, who would he take and who would Parliament take? So your request for him to come proper is only appropriate and demonstrates the respect he must have for the Chair. It cannot just be at his whims that an Hon Deputy Minister should stand in and then he watches his back. There is a Chair, therefore he should do what is appropriate. Mr Speaker, he has done that, so you can now recognise one of the hon Deputy Ministers for Finance; it cannot be the two. At his back, we see two hon Deputy Ministers for Finance. We know their schedules. If he calls the wrong one, we would remind him.
Mr Speaker, if the Hon Minority Leader sees my back, I see his back. [Laugher.] Mr Speaker, the Hon Deputy Minister with the responsibility for this is the person whom I am calling upon to do that.
So, which of the two did you seek permission to —
Mr Speaker, as the good Book says, by their fruit, ye shall know them. [Laughter.]
So the hon Deputy Minister who would stand up is the hon Deputy Minister for Finance.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that WHEREAS by the provisions of Article 181 of the Constitution and Sections 55 and 56 of the Public Financial Management Act, 2016 (Act 921), the terms and conditions of all government borrowings shall be laid before Parliament and shall not come into operation unless the terms and conditions are approved by a resolution of Parliament in accordance with article 181 of the Constitution; PURSUANT to the provisions of the said Article 181 of the Constitution and Sections 55 and 56 of the Public Financial Management Act, 2016 (Act 921), at the request of the Government of the Republic Ghana acting through the Minister responsible for Finance, there has been laid before Parliament the terms and conditions of a Loan Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Ghana and the African Development Fund for an amount thirty-five million, nine hundred and fifty thousand Units of Account (UA35,950,000 [equivalent to US$ 48.85 million]) to finance the Greater Accra Sustainable Sanitation and Livelihoods Improvement Project (GASSLIP).
THIS HONOURABLE HOUSE
HEREBY RESOLVES AS
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion. Question put and Motion agreed to.
Item number 18 -- Hon Chairman of the Committee?
Mr Speaker, the Memorandum that came to Parliament contained two items; one was the
This is a very curious application, but I will listen to the Leaders. Hon Majority Leader, the Hon Chairman says that I should grant him leave to move Motion numbered 18 on page 9 and Motion numbered 21 on page 10 together as one Motion. I want to hear you on that.
Mr Speaker, the Motions numbered 18 and 21 are both procedural in natural. I think that is the reason why he is ask. This is because certainly, in the debate one may stray into the other, and I believe it is the reason he says so. Otherwise we may be forced to restrict ourselves into water tight compartment. But really, if we want to be technical, we could deal with item numbered 18 first and then follow it through and then come to item numbered 19.
Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, this is not a matter of being technical but a matter of respecting our procedures. I think it is only appropriate that Motion numbered18 is moved, and subsequent to it, items numbered 19 and 20 in that order. This is because we are dealing with an important business of US$1.3 billion for the purchase of cocoa. So let him move the procedural Motion, we move to deal with that, and then we can take the rest. Mr Speaker, it would not take much time. We have an understanding to do this before we go into the closing section. So let us take Motion numbered 18, Mr Speaker.
Hon Chairman, if you move items numbered 18 and 20 together, what would you do to items numbered 19 and 22?
Mr Speaker, as a matter of fact, if I should move item numbered 18 as a stand alone and we go on to item 19, the Report in item 19 would capture item 22.
Hon Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation, kindly resume your seat. I want to engage him a little while to understand him.
Mr Speaker, I withdraw the application.
Very well. Now, kindly go on with Motion numbered 18.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that notwithstanding the provisions of Standing Order 80 (1) which require that no motion shall be debated until at least forty-eight hours have elapsed between the date on which notice of the motion is given and the date on which the motion is moved, the motion for the adoption of the Report of the Finance Committee on the Terms of a Receivables-backed Trade Finance Facility between Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) and a Consortium of Banks and Financial Institutions, with the Government of the Republic of Ghana as Guarantor, for an amount of up to one billion, three hundred million United States Dollars (US$1,300,000,000), for the Purchase of Cocoa in Ghana for the 2017/ 2018 Crop Season may be moved today.
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion. Question put and Motion agreed to. Resolved accordingly.
Item numbered 19 -- Motion. Chairman of the Committee? Receivables-backed Trade Finance Facility between COCOBOD and Consortium of Banks, et cetera, for the 2017/2018 Crop Season
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that this Honourable House adopts the Report of the Finance Committee on the Terms of a Receivables- backed Trade Finance Facility between Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) and a Consortium of Banks and Financial Institutions, with the Government of the Republic of Ghana as Guarantor, for an amount of up to one billion, three hundred million United States Dollars (US$1,300,000,000), for the Purchase of Cocoa in Ghana for the 2017/2018 Crop Season. Mr Speaker, in doing so, I present your Committee's Report. Introduction The terms of a Receivables-backed Trade Finance Facility between the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) and a Syndicate of Banks and Financial Institutions for an amount of up to one billion, three hundred million United States Dollars (US$1,300,000,000) for the purchase of cocoa for the 2017/ 2018 crop season was laid in the House on Tuesday, 1st August, 2017 and referred to the Finance Committee for consideration and report. A request for the waiver of Stamp Duty amounting to six million, five hundred thousand United States Dollars (US$6,500,000.00) on the Receivables- backed trade Finance Facility between the Ghana Cocoa Board and a Syndicate of Banks and Financial Institutions for an amount of up to one billion, three hundred million United States Dollars (US$1,300,000,000), for the purchase of cocoa for the 2017/ 2018 crop season was also laid in the House on Tuesday, 1st August, 2017 and referred to the Finance Committee for consideration and report. The Committee met with a Deputy Minister for Finance, Hon. Kwaku Kwarteng and his technical team from the Ministry of Finance and officials from COCOBOD to consider the Report. Documents referred to The Committee referred to the following documents 1. 1992 Constitution 2. Public Financial Management Act, 201 6 (Act 921) 3. Stamp Duty Act, 2005 (Act 689) 4. Standing Orders of Parliament
number of measures have been put in place to assist it achieve the target. One of the major interventions is artificial pollination by using the hand. The Board had observed that natural pollination was not very effective and therefore COCOBOD has rolled out the hand induced pollination to augment pollination of the cocoa trees. To do this, 10,000 personnel have been recruited to assist in the exercise. By November, additional 20,000 personnel will be engaged to assist train farmers. It is expected that the pollination programme would assist in increasing production significantly. Rehabilitation of existing storage facilities The technical team indicated that maintenance of storage facilities across the country is done regularly and as at date, all the warehouses are in very good condition. The team assured the committee that the storage warehouses are in good state for storage. Supply of CODAPEC and Hi-Tech/ Fertilizers to farmers The Committee inquired whether COCOBOD was subsidising fertilizers to the farmers. The technical team responded in the affirmative and stated that Government subsidises the cost and evacuation of granular fertilizers up to 53.42 per cent of its cost whilst on foliar fertilizer, the subsidy amounts to 81.03 per cent. Currently, Granular fertilizer sells at GH¢80 whilst foliar fertilizer sells at GH¢20. Further, the committed Hi-tech expenditure of GH¢391,990,250.00 is made up of granular and foliar fertilizer inputs. Deliveries of Hi-tech fertilizers are underway and evacuation is currently being done to the Districts. The technical team stated that CODAPEC expenditure is made up of operational teams spraying expenses and inputs (insecticide and fungicide) purchases. For the 2016/ 2017 crop season, an amount of GH¢311,509,912.50 was allocated. Deliveries on CODAPEC inputs have begun. Army Worms infestation of cocoa farms The technical team informed the Committee that all the cocoa farms that were infected by the army worms have been sprayed. The Board is not aware of any case of army worm affecting a coca farm. All the farms are healthy. They also informed the Committee that the Board has a Cocoa Health and Extension Division that is updating management on the state of cocoa farms at regular intervals. The technical team agreed to the suggestion that it should be more vigilant and improve upon its surveillance given the presence of army worms in Ghana. Payments into the Stabilisation Fund In response to how much has been paid into the stabilisation Fund of the Board, the technical team responded that three payments have been made since November 201 6. A total amount of GH¢85.89 million was paid in November, 2016 in respect of the 2015/2016 crop season from the 201 6/201 7 US$ 1.8 billion trade finance facility. The second payment amounting to GH¢93.5 million was made in February, 2017 from cocoa proceeds and additional GH¢10 million paid in July, 201 7. So the total amount of money in the stabilisation fund is GH¢310 million. Reduction in the total loan amount The Committee observed that the trade finance loan for the 2017/2018 crop year is US$1.3 billion. This amount is lower than the loan amount of US$1.8 billion that was sourced the previous crop year despite the increase in crop production. The Chief Executive Officer for COCOBOD explained that the main reason for the reduction is that, world market prices have dropped from an average of US$3,000 to US$2,000 this year. There is therefore the need to go for a smaller amount to guarantee repayment. Cocoa roads The Committee also inquired whether allocation has been made for cocoa roads. The Committee was informed that no allocation has been made in the facility for cocoa roads. The Chief Executive, Hon. Joseph Boahen Aidoo stated that the Board however, has received a number of certificates for works on a number of cocoa roads. The Board has set up a committee to audit the contracts and claims after which payments would be affected. He informed the committee that for the past three years, an amount of US$150 million was allocated yearly, totaling US$ 450 million from the syndicated loans to cocoa roads. He said that despite the approval, it was observed that contracts awarded exceeded the budgeted amount. For the three years from 2014 to 2016, the total budgeted amount was GH¢ 1,642,500,000 but actual value of contracts awarded for the period amounted to GH¢5,161,631,496.41. Details of the breakdown is shown in Table 1 below:
Table 2 Outstanding Commitments on Cocoa Roads Contracts SPACE FOR TABLE 2 - PAGE 12 - 8.40 P.M. He assured the Committee that though allocation has not yet been made in terms of the current facility, as and when the contracts are certified and funds are available, the contracts would be paid from cocoa proceeds. Recommendation and conclusion Having carefully examined the referral, the Committee recommends to the House to adopt its Report and approve by Resolution; the Terms of a Receivables-backed trade Finance Facility between the Ghana Cocoa Board and a Syndicate of Banks and Financial Institutions, for an amount of up to one billion, three hundred million United States dollars (US$1,300,000,000), for the purchase of cocoa for the 2017/ 2018 crop season in accordance with article 181 of the 1992 Constitution and Section 56 of the Public Financial Management Act of 2016 (Act 921) and 171 of the Standing Orders of Parliament, and Request for the waiver of Stamp Duty amounting to six million, five hundred thousand United States dollars (US$6,500,000.00) on the Receivables- backed trade Finance Facility between the Ghana Cocoa Board and a Syndicate of Banks and Financial Institutions, for an amount of up to one billion, three hundred million United States dollars (US$1,300,000,000), for the purchase of cocoa for the 2017/ 2018 crop season in accordance with article 1 74 of the 1992 Constitution and section 36 of the Stamp Duty Act of 2005 (Act 689 ) and Order 169 of the Standing Orders of the House. Respectfully submitted. Ranking Member of the Committee (Mr Cassiel A. B. Forson): Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion. Mr Speaker, this facility before us is an annual ritual from the Ministry of Finance and COCOBOD. This is a normal thing. I say this because borrowing on the short-term and backing it with cocoa contracts for the purposes of buying cocoa is seen as an activity that COCOBOD would definitely have to do for the purposes of buying cocoa. Ideally, we would have to look at the impact on the economy, the proposed use of proceeds and how the receipts and payments were made in using the previous loan that Parliament approved. Mr Speaker, in doing so, let me quickly take you to the Committee's Report. We were told that this time COCOBOD is borrowing an amount of US$1.3 billion. Unfortunately, if we were to look at the impact on the economy, it shows here that this country would have to have a second look and learn some lessons from the happenings in the international cocoa market. What is seen here is that, last year COCOBOD projected to buy cocoa to the level that they projected to buy this year. For some reason, last year Ghana COCOBOD borrowed an amount of US$1.8 billion. Today, they are going to buy the same cocoa but they are borrowing an amount of US$1.3 billion. The difference is that they have to borrow less because if they were to borrow up to US$1.8 billion, because of the fall in cocoa prices, they would not have enough cocoa to pay for the loan. So they are borrowing less, obviously because of the fact that the prices are coming down. Mr Speaker, I think that this brings in different lessons and it is something that as a country, we would have to learn from. Inasmuch as we are looking at the volumes, going forward, it is important for us to make sure that the cocoa price is right worldwide. This is because obviously, if one were to farm five hectares of cocoa and get GH¢20 as return, if one were to farm the equivalent of 10 hectares and get the same GH¢20, maybe, one would like to go for five hectares. This is because the price is what determines the bottom line for the cocoa farmer. From what we are seeing here today, clearly, this country is going to lose approximately US$500 million from the balance of payments. What it means is that, our reserve position is going to drop to the equivalent of about US$500 million if the price is right. It provides us with enough lessons for us to look at the cocoa pricing internationally as a country. This is not politics but something that this country would have to look at carefully. Mr Speaker, again, it is important for us to notice that the cocoa farmer would be worse off in the coming season. This is not because of anything but the pricing. It is the pricing, because clearly, if projected inflation is about 12 per cent and COCOBOD fails to increase the cocoa price by 12 per cent, it would mean the purchasing power of the same amount that the cocoa farmer is enjoying today would come down. I do not think that the ordinary farmer would be better off. It is for that reason that I think that it brings a lot of lessons for us to look at in going forward. Mr Speaker, let me take you to the proposed use of proceeds. A lot has been said on cocoa roads. My concern is that, for the cocoa farmer or haulier, COCOBOD would ideally pay for the haulage service. So, if the road is not good, COCOBOD pays for premium. So we should not neglect the cocoa roads. Unfortunately, the proposed use of proceeds for the US$1.3 billion as projected by COCOBOD -- Mr Speaker, let me add that to be fair, it is indicative, so I would want COCOBOD to consider that going forward, they should look at cocoa roads. They project
Hon Ranking Member, is it not ironical that you should be telling this House these things now, when at the time the Agreement was made, it was requested that it would be laid and adopted by this House, but that request which you were then holding never materialised? If this had been before us, you would not need to be telling us because we would all have been in the known. The Committee Members do not need to be told this by you alone.
Mr Speaker, I had a different view to this. Mr Speaker, I do not intend to debate you, but the understanding is that, the IMF has two different programmes -- One is augmentation and that is a loan to the budget; and the other is Balance of Payment Support. What we signed on to at the time was a Balance of Payment Support and as long as we were informed by our legal team and the then Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, we were not supposed to bring it to Parliament and it was for that reason we did not bring it.
Hon Chairman of the Committee, let us not bring this in as a debate because it is a debate for another day. Hon Ranking Member of the Committee, please, continue.
Mr Speaker, my final point is that, it is important for me to sound a caution, because clearly, loans or advancement to the Central Government is prohibited under Ghana's current Extended Credit Facility (ECF) with the IMF. So, an advancement from the Central Bank to the Ghana COCOBOD is equivalent to us breaching the IMF conditionality. Mr Speaker, I thank you.
Hon Members, I have agreed with the Leadership that we would have two contributions from either side of the aisle and Leadership would have their turn and the Hon Minister would wind up.
Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to contribute to the Motion. Mr Speaker, it is pertinent to note that cocoa roads -- And I would want to candidly advise that hitherto, if we talk of cocoa roads, they should be in cocoa growing areas. It is very sad that where cocoa is grown, the roads are extremely bad, but contracts are awarded in areas that are not anywhere related to cocoa. What service do we pay to the farmers who have over the years supported -- and we all agree that cocoa has supported the economy extremely and the farmers who grow the cocoa are worse off than those of us who live in towns. Therefore, what justification do we have to pump hard earned money from cocoa growing areas to construct roads that are nowhere connected with cocoa growing? In a way, we are doing a disservice to the farmers and to the industry and the support of it. Mr Speaker, I would want to caution that going forward, looking at the enormous contracts that have been signed -- and if we look at the values that we are talking about, it is 314.311 per cent above the approved budgeted figure. Sometimes, we wonder how people could go 300 per cent above the budgeted figure and commit the country to such huge sums of money that have now caused us distress. It is sad that even in distress, we still contemplate that people who made shoddy roads should be paid in full and be paid well for the economy to go on. Mr Speaker, I would also want to draw COCOBOD's attention and I would want it to be carried out point blank that they really have to check the diversion of imports because for the so much money that is spent on hi-tech and for the buying of these imports at subsidised rates, a greater percentage of the inputs are also smuggled out of the country.
Mr Speaker, I thank you for this opportunity. Mr Speaker, as I rise to urge Hon Members of the House to adopt this Report, I may have to make some comments, especially to do with the utilisation of the syndicated loan -- financial discipline. Mr Speaker, it is worrying for a State institution to come to the House to get approval, only to see that the objective of financing is not met. Mr Speaker, looking at the Report for Hi-tech fertilizers, et cetera, almost about GH¢355,500,000 was earmarked. In the last year, a lot of financing went into roads, and for that matter, the core responsibility to have financed this in the budget was reported as nil. It is worrisome. We need to realign and allocate resources, especially to where they would yield the most. Mr Speaker, another worrisome trend was the fact that US$150 million was earmarked yearly for three years, totalling US$450 million. How on earth do we come here to see that in cedi terms the amount was GH¢1,642,500,000? We exceeded it by an amount of GH¢5,161,631.41. It is a bother and that trend must not continue — [Interruption.] It is our hope that this time around, COCOBOD would focus on the reasons it is taking this syndicated loan.
Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to contribute to the Motion for the approval of an amount of US$1,300,000,000.00 for COCOBOD for the 2017/2018 crop season. Mr Speaker, my first comment is based on paragraph 6.5 of page 4 — Rehabilitation of existing storage facilities. Last week, the Hon Minister for Agriculture was in this House to answer Questions regarding Planting for Food and Jobs, et cetera. In the process of responding to some of the comments from Hon Colleagues, the issue about the state of cocoa storage facilities across the country was raised. His response was that many of these facilities were in very poor shape and that, in fact, some of them had been abandoned. Mr Speaker, I am very surprised to know from paragraph 6.5 of the Report of the Committee, and I beg to read with your permission: “The technical team indicated that maintenance of storage facilities across the country is done regularly and as at date, all the warehouses are in very good condition. The team assured the committee that the storage warehouses are in good state for storage.” Mr Speaker, I believe maybe, the Hon Minister was not privy to this. This is because this is a direct contradiction to what he said to this House. So, I would wish the Hon Minister for Agriculture takes note of this.
Mr Speaker, let us go to the page that deals with cocoa roads. I serve on your Committee on Roads and Transport. It is true that cocoa production in this country has been the mainstay of this economy. Indeed, some people believe that it would have been better off if we put the amount of money we put in oil exploration into cocoa production. This is because, only cocoa can give us US$1.3 billion this year, getting to next year. I doubt if we can raise that money from whatever oil production or gas we have. Part of that process of increasing our cocoa production requires us to improve the infrastructure in that area; and road is a critical part of that infrastructure. Mr Speaker, I believe it was a good thing that former President John Agyekum Kuffour introduced, by trying to support the construction of roads in cocoa growing areas as we have been told in the past. Mr Speaker, reading from this Report and from other information we have, it is also true that COCOBOD awarded projects beyond what they budgeted for. But more worrying is that, COCOBOD has not made any allocation at all now for projects that they have already awarded. When my Hon Colleague was speaking, he used the word “confidential” information he suggests that some things went wrong on the cocoa road projects. Mr Speaker, let me say for a fact that these rumours have been flying around for some time now. Our committee is urging COCOBOD to complete their audit of cocoa roads and let this country know what happened exactly. If I would want to
Hon Member, you are challenging the Report of a whole committee. The Hon Chairman of the committee wants to respond to the allegation that it is not true.
Mr Speaker, respectfully, this is laughable. Our committee meets with COCOBOD, we present our report, and a Member of the House says their committee has also met COCOBOD and he has information to the contrary.
Order! Hon Kwame Governs Agbodza, you have information alleging that it is from COCOBOD. The committee also has information that alleges that it is from COCOBOD. You have no basis for saying that your information is true, and theirs is not. So, the charge that the information contained is not true cannot be verified now. Therefore, I would ask you to withdraw and continue with your comment.
Mr Speaker, I serve on your Committee on Roads and Transport as a Ranking Member. I would want to say this to the world that I have evidence. Privileged information has it that COCOBOD does not have 230 projects awarded; they have less than 200 projects. We mentioned it to the Committee and that is why when I started --
Hon Agbodza, are you challenging my ruling? [Pause.] There is a procedure for challenging the ruling of the Speaker; otherwise, your source is the same as the source of the Committee and you have no basis for saying that what you heard from COCOBOD is true but what the Committee heard from COCOBOD is not true. I was also at that Committee and I know what privileged information, was given out but I was not at the Committee's meeting. So, I cannot use what I have as a basis for saying that theirs is not true. So, Hon Member, if you have different information, you are entitled to say so, but not to rule that theirs is not true. So, please, withdraw.
Mr Speaker, I would never challenge you. Mr Speaker, I would humbly withdraw the fact that their information is not true -- [Uproar.] But COCOBOD needs to prove to this country that they do not have 230 ongoing valid contracts. Mr Speaker, on page 6 of the Report, I can also read that some of the contracts have issues with documentation and pricing. We can even table that COCOBOD provided information to the Committee that they have problems with pricing of many of the contracts. Furthermore, Mr Speaker is aware that COCOBOD is brandishing an interim Report which some of us believe is technically botched. I can use the word “botched” because some of the information in there are not even technical -- [Uproar.] Let us not do that to this country. [Interruptions.] Mr Speaker, when this country requires accurate information from professionals, let them do professional job. Let not an accountant talk about quantities of a project. Let an accountant stay in his corner and let civil engineers -- Ms Safo — rose --
Yes, I have given the floor to the Hon Deputy Majority Leader. Deputy Majority Leader, I would want to hear you.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Member started on a tangent of challenging the information provided by the Report of the Finance Committee. Mr Speaker, he earlier said that it was privileged information and Mr Speaker ruled on the matter. But if it is privileged information, he stood here and talked about it. [Interruption.] The moment he stands in this House -- [Interruption.]
Hon Members, order!
Mr Speaker, a report that is yet to come out, the Hon Member stands in this House, which is a House of record, to say that it is “bought”.
Mr Speaker, if we look at page 6 of the Report, it reads: “The Chief Executive made the Committee aware that about two hundred and thirty (230) road contracts had been awarded as at the time he took over”. So, what is the Hon Member contesting in this Report as it is captured here? Mr Speaker, we should not allow the Hon Member -- If he is making a case, he should be willing to substantiate that with documentary evidence and table it accordingly. Other than that, this House should go by the Report of the Finance Committee. That is your Committee, Mr Speaker, and that is what we are working with. Per Order 92(3) of the Standing Orders, he should stick to what the Report says and not go outside the Report when he is not able to prove it.
Hon Agbodza, since you seek to impugn the Committee's Report with a statement purporting to quote from a document you say you have, you are required to either table the document or you cannot speak to it. I would have thought that “privileged information” means information which is given to you by virtue of the position you hold which cannot be used in public. If you are going to speak to the content of the said privileged information, then I would require you to table it or else I would advise you to move away from discussion of the document which you claim is privileged.
Mr Speaker, I would move away from that. [Uproar.] [Interruption.]
Withdraw it! Withdraw it!
Yeboah — rose
Hon Chairman of the Committee, what should the Hon Member withdraw?
Mr Speaker, the Hon Member stated categorically that the figure 230 is not admissible here. He said that the figure 230 in the Report is not correct. So, I am saying that he should withdraw that since the Committee stands by that.
Hon Member, he has withdrawn that. He went on to make a statement about “botched” but that “botched” was not about the Report. He was talking about the alleged privileged document that he has seen. I have advised him to move away from that or else he should table that document. The charge on the Report that it is not true has been withdrawn. So, I would allow him to proceed. Hon Member, you may proceed.
Mr Speaker, I believe COCOBOD needs to be supported to find a way of funding those projects that have been awarded. Indeed, all those projects are in communities that some of us here occupy. The people who live in those communities expect those roads to be completed, so that they can put them to use. Mr Speaker, I would conclude by saying that COCOBOD requires some support, but this country also requires a very conclusive information from COCOBOD. Dr A. A. Osei — rose --
Hon Agbodza, hold on. Yes, Hon Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation?
Mr Speaker, I appreciate the fact that my good Friend has some privileged information. Mr Speaker, but he made a statement that I believe he should withdraw. He alluded to the fact that when we are looking for more accurate information, COCOBOD is doing something else. That means he is impugning the integrity of officials of COCOBOD. Maybe, it was inadvertent but these same people gave the Hon Member the privileged information and he stands on the floor of the House to impugn their integrity. Mr Speaker, I believe he should withdraw that. It is unacceptable for a Member of the House to make those statements about professionals. If somebody made a statement about the professional integrity of the Hon Member, I would defend him. Mr Speaker, some professionals come to give him professional information and he stands here and attempts to impugn their integrity. It is not acceptable.
Hon Member, did you say that COCOBOD was not giving us professional information? [Interruption.] I did not get him, so, I would want to know.
Mr Speaker, I believe that my good Friend and Hon Senior Colleague is not monitoring properly today -- [Laughter.]
Hon Member, this is another offensive one.
Mr Speaker, I did not say that.
Hon Member, kindly resume your seat. [Interruption.] The Hansard should take note that if there was any such reference, it should be expunged from the records. Now, please, conclude.
Mr Speaker, to be fair, I believe you have indulged me enough. I am very grateful for the opportunity to contribute.
Mr Speaker, I would want to thank you for the opportunity to contribute to the Motion that this House adopts the Report of the Finance Committee on the terms of a receivables-backed trade finance facility of US$1.3 billion for the purchase of cocoa in Ghana for the 2017/ 2018 crop season. In doing so, Mr Speaker, I would draw your attention and that of Hon Members to the fact that the cocoa sector remains a major part of the Ghanaian economy. Apart from the fact that it creates employment, cocoa farmers' livelihood, our export earnings, and indeed, even the consequential benefit of this facility contributes to the stability of the cedi. 3141Trade Facility b/n COCOBOD 2 August, 2017 and Consortium of Banks, etc. 3142 3143 Trade Facility b/n COCOBOD 2 August, 2017 and Consortium of Banks, etc. 3144 But, Mr Speaker, let me refer you to page 4 of your Committee's Report. The evidence that I have is that, today, the Ivory Coast produces 1.8 million tonnes of cocoa. Ghana, together with Togo and other countries top it up with 1.5 million tonnes which makes us the world's largest contributor, led by the Ivory Coast in the production of it. Mr Speaker, I would want to refer to page 4 of your Committee's Report. And with your permission, I quote: “COCOBOD is targeting a production of 850,000 metric tonnes.” Mr Speaker, let me further refer you to page 2, so that I do a cross analysis. On page 2 of the Report, and with your permission, I beg to quote: “For the 2016/2017 crop year, production had reached 932,000 metric tonnes.” It means we have a problem as a country, therefore, we should charge the Management and Board of COCOBOD that, if in 2016/2017 they could achieve 932,000 metric tonnes, we only can be working towards one million tonnes but certainly, not 850,000 tonnes. That will not be something remarkable or extraordinary. I trust that the Management of COCOBOD can do better to up and increase Ghana's production of cocoa. Mr Speaker, I have a document here and I would want to be guided. I understand that it was part of the discussion at the Finance Committee. I am not a Member of that Committee, but the document is titled, “Ghana Cocoa Board: Proposed Use of Proceeds of US$1.3 Billion Syndicated Loan”. Mr Speaker, my arithmetic is not as good as that of the Hon Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation. If we have 850,000 metric tonnes as the target for 2017/2018 as I have read in page 4 of the Report and in the same document, we have also said that cocoa prices would come down to US$2,000 per metric tonnes. If we multiply US$2,000 by 850,000 metric tonnes, we would not get US$1.3 billion; we would get US$1.7 billion. Mr Speaker, this is COCOBOD's document to the Finance Committee. So, I am not talking off head as Haruna personally. This is the document submitted to the Hon Chairman of the Finance Committee.
Hon Member, please, the Hon Minister for Finance would conclude and if there are doubts, he would correct them. Thank you very much.
So, I just raised this. Mr Speaker, I will also base on the Committee's Report, page 1; Facility Amount. You may not have that. So, let me read it properly: “Ghana Cocoa Board: Report of the Evaluation of US$1.3 Billion Trade Finance Facility for 2017/2018 Cocoa Purchases, April 19, 2017”. This, I believe, was sent to the Finance Committee. Mr Speaker, if you do have a copy and if the Hon Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation and I can look at the numbers, it says, it is envisaged that US$1.3 billion and the average exchange rate is GH¢ 4.5. If we multiply that by US$1.3 billion, we would not get the GH¢ 6.332 billion. We would get GH¢ 5.8 billion. So, Mr Speaker, I will need your guidance on it. Other than that, if we divide GH¢ 6.332 by the exchange rate of GH¢ 4.5, we would rather get an exchange rate of GH¢ 4.8. So, the Management of COCOBOD must endeavour to do a reconciliation of the numbers. Mr Speaker, I am also told that La Cote d' Ivoire overtook Ghana in terms of the volumes of cocoa production as far back as 1978. I hope that the new management of COCOBOD will accept the challenge. In 1978, even though Ivory Coast went through war, it still did better in cocoa production than Ghana. It means that there is something fundamentally wrong that we should correct in order to improve on our cocoa production. Mr Speaker, my other comment is on what you have ruled on. But mine is cocoa roads. Even if it is government's policy not to do cocoa roads, if we go to page 5, and further to page 6 of the Committee's Report, there were cocoa roads awarded on contracts and there are commitments. In the Committee's Report, it states that there is an amount of GH¢3,349,839,228 outstanding. Are we certain that we have made provision in this US$1.3 billion in order to cater for that category of persons who are already working on cocoa roads? I believe that is important. Mr Speaker, government can decide that it does not need cocoa roads in Cantonments or in Banvim in Tamale South, but certainly, not Bekwai, Suame or Old Tafo where cocoa is abundant. Mr Speaker, so the Ministry of Finance and COCOBOD must be seen working with the Hon Minister for Roads and Highways to build a strong partnership. Their advantage as COCOBOD is that Parliament gives them the mandate to borrow. I said it even during our time. They can go to the Hansard for my contribution on it last year. I have not said anything different. I can give a Hansard record of my position. The advantage of the Ministry of Finance and COCOBOB working together is that there is a syndicated loan for them. It is not for COCOBOB to set up an engineering roads department. That is not COCOBOD's role and mandate. It is for them to have an escrow account of dedicated money for cocoa roads, and allow the Hon Minister for Roads and Highways to work with them. This is because they want improved roads for the cocoa areas for the movement of cocoa and other related matters. It is important for us to clear the outstanding arrears and for them also to allow --
Hon Minority Leader, have you finished?
Mr Speaker, I am concluding. [Interruption.] Mr Speaker, my other emphasis is that, the management of COCOBOD should reconsider their decision that there would be no cocoa roads. Even if they cannot do 150 million kilometres, they can do 50 or 100 kilometres because there are still cocoa roads that need to be done in the Western, Central and Ashanti Regions. Mr Speaker, I drove through Bekwai, and I am not happy about the state of roads leading there, even though we had invested in some parts of the roads.
Hon Minority Leader, are you filled by the Holy Spirit this evening? [Laughter.]
Mr Speaker, we would suggest to them that, because of the amount of money allocated -- if we look at what is indicated in the Report, it went in excess, which I am sure is the political pressures of getting the roads done. So, they should not say that there would be no cocoa roads. They may reduce the amount of money from US$150 million -- they should do half. They should do US$75 million worth from the Hon Minister for Roads and Highways for a number of selected cocoa roads. Mr Speaker, this is because I have the Barry Callebaut Report, which still emphasises poverty in cocoa-growing areas, and that is linked to roads. So, I would strongly recommend that something is done about it. Mr Speaker, my final concern is about the numbers I spoke about. We cannot have 932,000 metric tonnes of cocoa. The Hon Minister for Agriculture appeared before the Appointments Committee and promised us that we would have one million metric tonnes. Then from 932,000 metric tonnes, their target went down to 850,000 metric tonnes. That is not progressive. So, the management of COCOBOD must work towards one million metric tonnes of cocoa. Mr Speaker, from the Management of COCOBOD, I understand that in future, they would look for a medium-term facility, and not just one of the short-term facilities. Mr Speaker, but my final comment to the Hon Chairman of the Committee is that, syndicated banks -- the Committee said 40 banks out of 60. Parliament must know the specific banks because we have a duty -- [Interruption] -- No, I do not have it in my attachment to the Report. Mr Speaker, this is what would be captured. It is important that as Parliament, we know the particular banks that are syndicating the loan for the purpose of due diligence, so that we would follow. We trust that, like Hon Ato Forson said, at all times, this is done every other year as a ritual; but if I go through the Committee Report and read that out of 60 banks, 40 are being considered, I would not be guided that it has been done. Mr Speaker, with these comments, I support the approval of the US$1.3 billion for COCOBOD, and trust that they would work towards the increment of the production volumes not from 850,000 metric tonnes but 932,000 metric tonnes as promised. I still feel dissatisfied with the figures. If we had 850,000 metric tonnes in 2000, but they do an account of US$1.7 billion when they are borrowing US$1.3 billion -- Mr Speaker, finally, does COCOBOD invest some of this money? If so, what happens to the interest that accrues? Next time, we should know, when they account to us, moneys invested by COCOBOD and on the interest accruing than, and whether they are used to offset investment of other activities of COCOBOD; it must be reported to this House.
Hon Deputy Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, Leadership would yield to the Hon Deputy Minister for Finance, Hon Kwaku Kwarteng.
Hon Deputy Minister for Finance? Deputy Minister for Finance (Mr Kwaku Agyeman Kwarteng)(MP): Mr Speaker, I start by thanking this House for the healthy debate that has ensued on this facility. It is obvious that Hon Members believe that, this is a good facility, which we must back with our approval. We have taken note of the many concerns that have been shared, and as I early on indicated, we would factor these in the management of the industry as we go forward. Mr Speaker, with your permission, I would like to first and foremost assure the Hon Minority Leader that we actually do not need the entire US$1.3 billion for the collateralisation. In fact, only a bigger portion of that would go for the purpose. The rest would go into the provision of the related services -- the scholarships and the cocoa roads that were mentioned. Mr Speaker, so, the fear that we need some US$1.7 billion for the collateralisation is unfounded. I invite the Hon Minority Leader to advert his mind to this in future. Mr Speaker, the second point I would like to clear is the warning to us that if COCOBOD attempts to borrow from the Bank of Ghana, it would be accounted as the Central Government borrowing from the Bank of Ghana and that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme would not allow it. It is interesting that we are led into an IMF programme before we are told about its dangers. Mr Speaker, I would again like to assure my Hon Colleagues that we have borrowed but that has not added to our debt stock as Central Government borrowing. Why should we have that fear? It is because it is considered that COCOBOD could borrow on their own books and it would be accounted as their own borrowing. So, to fear that if they attempt to borrow at the Central Bank, it would be considered Central Government borrowing; it is neither here nor there. Again, I invite my Hon Colleagues to advert their minds to this in future. Mr Speaker, a lot has been said about cocoa roads. It is true that we were informed at the Committee that, for this
crop year, not a pesewa has been earmarked for cocoa roads. Mr Speaker, that was strategic. So much has happened in this area and indeed, it is one of the Reports we are investigating: that cocoa roads have been constructed at Cantonments and Madina, right in the heart of Accra. Mr Speaker, I conclude by thanking the House for the healthy debate and inviting Hon Colleagues to vote for the approval of the request. Hear! Hear! Question put and Motion agreed to. Item numbered 20 on the Order Paper ? Hon Deputy Minister for Finance, I am granting you the leave to proceed.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that WHEREAS by the provisions of article 181 of the Constitution and sections 55 and 56 of the Public Financial Management Act, 2016 (Act 921), the terms and conditions of all government borrowings shall be laid before Parliament and shall not come into operation unless the terms and conditions are approved by a resolution of Parliament in accordance with article 181 of the Constitution; PURSUANT to the provisions of the said article 181 of the Constitution and sections 55 and 56 of the Public Financial Management Act, 2016 (Act 921), at the request of the Government of the Republic Ghana acting through the Minister responsible for Finance, there has been laid before Parliament the Terms of a Receivables-backed Trade Finance Facility between Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) and a Consortium of Banks and Financial Institutions, with the Government of the Republic of Ghana as Guarantor, for an amount of up to one billion, three hundred million United States Dollars (US$1,300,000,000) for the Purchase of Cocoa in Ghana for the 2017/2018 Crop Season.
THIS HONOURABLE HOUSE
HEREBY RESOLVES AS
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion. Question put and Motion agreed to. Resolved accordingly.
Hon Members, item numbered 21on the Order Paper.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that notwithstanding the provisions of Standing Order 80(1) which require that no Motion shall be debated until at least forty-eight hours have elapsed between the date on which notice of the Motion is given and the date on which the Motion is moved, the Motion for the adoption of the Report of the Finance Committee on the request for waiver of stamp duty amounting to six million, five hundred thousand United States dollars (US$6,500,000) on the Receivables-backed Trade Finance Facility between Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) and a Consortium of Banks and Financial Institutions, with the Government of the Republic of Ghana as Guarantor, for an amount of up to one billion, three hundred million United States dollars (US$1,300,000,000) for the purchase of cdocoa in Ghana for the 2017/2018 Crop Season may be moved today.
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion. Question put and Motion agreed to. Resolved accordingly.
Hon Members, item numbered 22 on the Order Paper. Request for waiver of stamp duty for COCOBOD/Consortium of Banks and Financial Institutions
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that this Honourable House adopts the Report of the Finance Committee on the request for waiver of stamp duty amounting to up to six million, five hundred thousand United States dollars (US$6,500,000) on the Receivables-backed Trade Finance Facility between Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) and a Consortium of Banks and Financial Institutions, with the Government of the Republic of Ghana as Guarantor, for an amount of up to one billion, three hundred million United States dollars (US$1,300,000,000) for the Purchase of Cocoa in Ghana for the 2017/ 2018 Crop Season. Introduction The terms of a Receivables-backed Trade Finance Facility between the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) and a Syndicate of Banks and Financial Institutions for an amount of up to one billion, three hundred million United States dollars (US$1,300,000,000) for the purchase of cocoa for the 2017/ 2018 crop season was laid in the House on Tuesday, 1st August, 2017, and referred to the Finance Committee for consideration and report. A request for the waiver of Stamp Duty amounting to six million, five hundred thousand United States dollars (US$6,500,000.00) on the Receivables- backed trade Finance Facility between the Ghana Cocoa Board and a Syndicate of Banks and Financial Institutions for an amount of up to one million, three hundred million United States dollars (US$1,300,000,000) for the purchase of cocoa for the 2017/2018 crop season was also laid in the House on Tuesday, 1st August, 2017, and referred to the Finance Committee for consideration and report. 3153Trade Facility b/n COCOBOD 2 August, 2017 and Consortium of Banks, etc. 3154 3155 Trade Facility b/n COCOBOD 2 August, 2017 and Consortium of Banks, etc. 3156 The Committee met with a Deputy Minister for Finance, Hon Kwaku Kwarteng, and his technical team from the Ministry of Finance and officials from COCOBOD to consider the Report. Documents referred to The Committee referred to the following documents: 1. 1992 Constitution 2. Public Financial Management Act, 201 6 (Act 921) 3. Stamp Duty Act, 2005 (Act 689) 4. Standing Orders of Parliament Background Over the years, the cocoa industry has played a crucial role in the economic development of the country by contributing significantly to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), employment generation, and being a major source of Ghana's foreign exchange earnings. The cocoa sector also contributes to government revenue in the form of export duty, and supports infrastructural development, among others. Cocoa production had increased since 1999/2000 crop year. Production in 1999/ 2000 was 436,682. By 2005, total production of 740,458 metric tonnes for the crop season was recorded. Cumulative cocoa beans purchases by the Ghana Cocoa Board in the 2015/2016 season reached 778,043 tonnes, representing an increase of around 38,000 tonnes over the previous season's production of 740,254 metric tonnes. For the 2016/2017 crop year, production has reached 932,000 metric tonnes. One of the objects of COCOBOD is to purchase, market and export cocoa and cocoa products produced in the country. As a result of expected increases in the production of cocoa, there is the need to adequately resource COCOBOD to enable it finance the purchase of the cocoa beans. To this end, the offshore syndicated Trade Finance Facility was put in place in 1994 to enable COCOBOD secure loans to finance the purchase of cocoa beans and for other payments each year. This US$1.3 billion trade finance facility is to assist COCOBOD raise funds to purchase cocoa beans from farmers through the licensed buying companies for the 2017/2018 cocoa season. The facility amount of US$1,300,000,000 is being provided by a syndicate of Banks with Natixis, Standard Bank of South Africa Ltd., Credit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC) and Ghana International Bank as the Initial Mandated Lead Arranger (IMLAs). Section 32 (6) of the Stamp Duty Act, 2005 (Act 689) requires loan documents to be stamped at 0.5 per cent of the loan amount. In order to ensure that the trade finance facility is used solely for the purchase of cocoa beans and related expenses, the facility is to be exempted from the payment of Stamp Duty Act 2005 (Act 689) amounting to US$6,500,000. In line with the 1992 Constitution and Public Financial Management Act (Act 921), both the trade finance facility and the request for Stamp Duty waiver has been submitted to Parliament for approval. Object of the Facility The object of the facility is to raise adequate funds to enable COCOBOD to purchase cocoa beans from farmers through licensed buying companies for the 2017/2018 cocoa season and other related operations. Terms of the Loan The terms and conditions of the loan are as follows:
Table 1 Position of Cocoa Roads SPACE FOR TABLE 1 - PAGE 9 - 9.50 P.M. The Chief Executive made the Committee aware that about two hundred and thirty (230) road contracts had been awarded as at the time he took over. Some of the contracts have issues of documentation and pricing. As a result, a committee was set up to review the contracts to ensure that there was value for money. So far, an amount of GH¢l,811,800,207.93 has been paid leaving an outstanding commitment of GH¢3,349,831,288.48. The breakdown is shown in Table 2 below: Chairman of the Committee that, COCOBOD does a lot of other things out of this same money. Already, when we take the interest expected to be paid out and when we take the facilitation fee, the arrangement fees and all that, some part of the money already goes into servicing the loan. So, in order that they could have real value for the amount, we recommend that they should be spared the US$6,500,000 stamp duty as tax. Question put and Motion agreed to.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that this Honourable House is respectfully requested to adopt the following Resolution: WHEREAS by the provisions of Article 174 (2) of the 1922 Constitution, Parliament is empowered to confer power on any person or authority to waive or vary a tax imposed by an Act of Parliament; THE EXERCISE of any power conferred on any person or authority to waive or vary a tax in favour of any person or authority is by the said provisions made subject to the prior approval of Parliament by resolution; BY THE COMBINED operation of the provisions of section 150(i) of the Customs Act 2015, (Act 891), the Export and Import Act, 1995 (Act 503), the Export Trade, Agricultural and Industrial Fund Act, 2013 (Act 872), the Value Added Tax Act, 2013 (Act 870), the Value Added Tax (Amendment) Act, 2015 (Act 890), the Value Added Tax (Amendment) Act, 2017 (Act 948) and other existing Laws and Regulations applicable to the collection of Customs duties and other taxes on the importation of goods into Ghana, the Minister for Finance may exempt any statutory corporation, institution or individual from the payment of duties and taxes otherwise payable under the said Laws and Regulations or waive or vary the requirement of such statutory corporation, institution or individual to pay such duties and taxes; IN ACCORDANCE with the provisions of the Constitution and at the request of the Government of Ghana acting through the Minister responsible for Finance, there has been laid before Parliament a request by the Minister for Finance for the prior approval of Parliament the exercise by him of his power under the Laws and Regulations relating to the waiver of stamp duty amounting to up tosix million, five hundred thousand United Statesdollars (US$6,500,000) on the Receivables-Backed Trade Finance Facility between Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) and a Consortium of Banks and Financial Institutions, with the Government of the Republic of Ghana as Guarantor, for an amount of up to one billion, three hundred million United Statesdollars (US$1,300,000,000) for the Purchase of Cocoa in Ghana for the 2017/2018 Crop Season.
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion and in so doing, wish to emphasise the point raised by the Hon NOW THEREFORE, this Honourable House hereby approves the exercise by the Minister responsible for Finance of the power granted to him by Parliament by Statute to waive such stamp duty amounting to six million, five hundred thousand United States dollars (US$6,500,000) on the Receivables-backed Trade Finance Facility between Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) and a Consortium of Banks and Financial Institutions, with the Government of the Republic of Ghana as Guarantor, for an amount of up to one billion, three hundred million United States dollars (US$1,300,000,000) for the purchase of cocoa in Ghana for the 2017/2018 Crop Season.
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion. Question put and Motion agreed to. Resolved accordingly.
Hon Members, at this juncture, the Rt Hon Speaker would resume the seat and take us through the closing proceedings.
Hon Majority Leader, any indication at this stage?
Mr Speaker, we have almost exhausted the items listed on the Order Paper and I believe that what is left for us to do is to take the Closing Remarks of Leadership by beginning with the Hon Minority Leader and your remarks as well.
Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity. Too soon, we have come to the end of the Second Meeting of the First Session of the Seventh Parliament of the Republic of Ghana. We could only thank the Almighty Allah for His grace, wisdom, guidance and good health. Mr Speaker, let me use this opportunity to particularly thank Hon Members for following through the work of this House with some measured enthusiasm and diligence; both at the level of the Committees and also at plenary and supporting you to discharge our known primary duties of making laws, exercising oversights and exercising a deliberative function of contributing to the debate. Mr Speaker, you would recall that at the beginning of this Session, I pledged the commitment of the Minority side to act as a responsible and constructive opposition. Mr Speaker, let me assure you that where it is necessary for the Minority side to be magnanimous in supporting government policy that is at the sacred peace and security of our country, we would have no hesitation to do so for the good of our country. Mr Speaker, but let me assure you that, we would remain a firm Minority side and we would continue to discharge our duties without fear or favour and we would not be intimidated in the pursuit of that endeavour. [Hear! Hear!] We shall employ all available parliamentary and constitutional means towards the realisation of the goal for the good of our country to share our experiences in government to enrich policy since we have been there before. Mr Speaker, in the last few days, it is as if there have been major disagreements and conflicts. Yes, there have -- the Minority should have its say and the Majority its way. This is a known and established political cliche and we are well aware that we are a party in the Minority and possibly, working into the future and into the Majority. We have been there before. [Uproar.] Mr Speaker, the people of Ghana expect that the Minority would keep an eye and ear on public concerns and matters of public interest and we would do so jealously, as I have indicated. Mr Speaker, not our right of way, but our right of say. Mr Speaker, it would be wrong for anybody to use the happenings of a day in Parliament to measure and rule unfairness. I am happy that while I speak, the Hon Majority Leader is looking into my eyes -- he had been the Hon Minority Leader before. The Parliamentary Question time remains an important instrument of oversight. Mr Speaker, persons in our country who are interested in our democratic stages have established that since 1993, Hon Members of the Majority ruling party seldom use the Question time because they fear to embarrass the Government. So, that weapon has always been used by the Minority side in the exercise of oversight. I am sure that as our democracy evolves and grows, we would all feel free to ask Questions that aim at oversight and not to elucidate Answers to constituency specific Questions. Mr Speaker, therefore, when the then Hon Minority Leader who is now the Hon Majority Leader was on the Minority chair, he had his day and he had his say. Mr Speaker, all I ask for is to safeguard that past. If you cannot add to it, do not reduce it. [Hear! Hear!] Mr Speaker, be assured that there would be moments that even as the Hon Minority Leader, I would have no supplementary question. Mr Speaker, indeed, we demonstrated same this morning when the Hon Minister for Roads and Highways was before this House. There was no need for a follow up question. Mr Speaker, I would thank you for the leadership shown so far and let me also thank the Clerk to Parliament and his team for supporting us and the entire Parliamentary Service Staff. Mr Speaker, during the course of this Meeting, no major Bill was really considered by this House. I know that many of the important Bills got to the House just about the time that we were about to rise. I trust and pray that the Committees to which you referred these Bills would do a diligent work so that, when we come back in October, we would fast track the
processes, so that government's delivery would be better facilitated. Mr Speaker, I know the Zongo Development Fund Bill, 2017, the Special Prosecutor Bill, 2017, have also been referred to the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs. Mr Speaker, I assure you that we need to fight corruption because of its debilitating effects on our national life and national development. There are experiences of the Special Prosecutor working effectively in other parts of the world. We would contribute to improve on the Bill as we do as a Parliament. But where we have questions which remain unanswered and we think procedure is faulted because there are provisions in them that are not consistent with the 1992 Constitution, we would have no hesitation invoking the exclusive jurisdiction of the Supreme Court to seek a proper interpretation of article 88 (3) and (4) of the 1992 Constitution. We would do that because we do not want an instance tomorrow where the Supreme Court would have to throw out an Act passed by Parliament because it is not consistent with the 1992 Constitution as required of them. Mr Speaker, many important Bills, including the Middle Belt Development Bill, 2017, and the attempt to rename the Savanna Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) as Northern Develop- ment Fund -- I wonder what is in a name. Whatever it is, we could improve the management of SADA and deliver, but once it is before us, we would look to work at it. Mr Speaker, earlier, the Minority had indicated that we would cooperate on many national issues. There are still problems of insecurity in the country. We are following the town hall meetings very closely, and we are concerned about some of the threats that are emanating there- from. We trust that the Hon Minister for the Interior would monitor closely the actions and excesses of those persons who might undermine the national peace and security. Our democracy can only grow in peace and security, and we would support you in supporting Government to maintain the peace and stability of our country. Mr Speaker, your Deputies, the Hon Joseph Osei-Owusu who also chairs the Appointments Committee and the dinosaur Hon Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, were readily available to support you with the work in your absence. On behalf of the Minority and my person, I express our gratitude to them for supporting you and for supporting the work of this House. They have been very supportive at the Committee level and sometimes, given quite some guidance, based on their experience. Mr Speaker, to my Hon Colleagues in Leadership, especially the Hon Majority Leader, what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. If there are threats to what he enjoyed yesterday, he should be seen supporting me to restore it for the good of our country's democracy. Mr Speaker, one of the far-reaching things that one would have witnessed would have been for us today to adopt new Standing Orders. I am amazed at the courage and leadership of the Hon Majority Leader, supported by the Whip and the Hon Bagbin as far-reaching reforms that the new Standing Orders of Parliament seek to do to strengthen Parliament in the discharge of our duties. One cannot wait to see it adopted by this House for it to deepen our parliamentary democracy. I trust that when we consider it, it would be one of your credits and legacies. I understand that since the year 1993, efforts at improving the Standing Orders have failed. It would be to your credit as the Speaker of this House that, recognising the contribution of others, we have finally adopted a practical Standing Orders that would serve the needs of this House. Mr Speaker, may I also extend commendations to the Clerk to Parliament who at all times, being with his easy smile, infectious as it is, hurts no one. He opens his hands and says, “Minority Leader”, and then relates to me. He remains an important interpreter of the rules. Let us encourage him that when he is interpreting the rules, he should do so in supporting the Speaker, so that Leadership can continue to support both of you to maintain what is important in this House. Mr Speaker, I am also encouraged about your quest through the Parliamentary Service Board to have said that, Parliament's clinic be refurbished to the status of a strong clinic that would serve the needs of Hon Members. You have been gracious enough to extend this to even former Members of Parliament (MPs). We appreciate you for that. Mr Speaker, I also recognise your quest for us to work at improving the Constitutional Instrument (C.I.) 11, so that we can boost the morale of members of staff of the Parliamentary Service. I know many of them are unhappy about matters relating to their promotion, the level of their remuneration and when they are able to do that -- Mr Speaker, let me also use this opportunity to thank the Parliamentary Press Corps. They have also accurately, in most instances, reported the work of this House and your Committees. I should extend to them our commendations. As Hon Members retire, we are only going to get a deserved rest, but there is more work to be done at the level of the constituencies. One of the important matters we also considered for this Meeting was the mid- year review of the Minister for Finance to update us on the developments and performance of the economy, which affects the lives and bread matters and also affect kenkey and fish matters. We would wish that, next time, we are able to thoroughly debate the matter as it is brought, and it is not narrowed to coming in in a matter of a Statement, particularly when we are able to find information relating to the reversal of payment of interest arrears of GH¢758.5 million and now walking back into the 2016 era, affecting the deficit. If we had more time, we would have debated it. Mr Speaker, once more, I thank you for the leadership. We should build a rapport and a camaraderie. The people of Ghana voted for a two-party State and not a one- party State. That is why we have an opposition. [Interruption.] Every country has a Government, but it is only in democracies that have oppositions. Therefore, dissent is important and tolerance is important. We must work with the political position to mirror the aspirations and the need of the people of Ghana.
Hon Majority Leader and Leader of the House?
Mr Speaker, I am grateful for the opportunity to make these few remarks as the House prepares to rise sine die today. Mr Speaker, today, August 2, 2017, we have come to the end of the Second Meeting of the First Session of the Seventh Parliament which commenced on Tuesday, 30th May, 2017. As usual, we must express our profound gratitude to the Almighty God for sustaining our lives and granting us the grace and strength to perform our duties. Hon Members would recall that during the First Meeting of this Parliament, part of the roof of the Chamber was ripped off during a heavy rainstorm. This situation called for a proper re-roofing of the affected section of the block. To pave way for the contractor to undertake the repair works, the House had to vary its Sitting hours for this Meeting. Sittings of the House, therefore, commenced at 12.00 noon instead of the usual 10.00 o'clock in the forenoon as provided for under Order 40(2) of the Standing Orders. Despite the inconveniences, Hon Members made themselves available to ensure that the House discharged its mandate creditably. I must commend Hon Members for their attendance to the House. In general terms, we had a fruitful discourse during this Meeting. The House held 39 Sittings within a ten (10) week period. Permit me, Mr Speaker, to highlight some of the businesses transacted by the House during this Meeting:. The House passed the Customs (Amendment) Bill, 2017 into law and also adopted a number of Committee Reports. Notable among them are the following: i. Report of the Committee of the Whole on the Proposed Formula for the Distribution of the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund) for the year 2017 ii. Report of the Committee of the Whole on the Proposed Formula for the Disbursement of the National Health Insurance Fund for the year 2017; and iii. Report of the Committee of the Whole on the Proposed Formula for the District Assemblies' Common Fund (DACF) for the year 2017. Mr Speaker, the following Bills were also presented to the House and referred to the appropriate Committees: i. Office of the Special Prosecutor Bill, 2017 ii. Zongo Development Fund Bill, 2017 iii. Northern Development Authority Bill, 2017 iv. Middle Belt Development Authority Bill, 2017; and v. Coastal Belt Development Authority, 2017. I entreat all committees to endeavour to consider all outstanding referrals made to them, including the referral to the Committee on Mines and Energy relating to the Agreement between GoG and Ameri, during the recess to enable the House deliberate on them during the Third Meeting of the Seventh Parliament. Parliament would be recalled early enough to consider these relevant Bills before the presentation of the Budget. In all likehood, the date recovening may not be later than 3rd October, 2017. Mr Speaker, the House approved the nomination of Justice Sophia Abena Boafoa Akuffo by the President for appointment to the high office of Chief Justice of Ghana, and Mrs Irene Naa Torshie Addo as the Administrator of the District Assemblies' Common Fund. Mr Speaker, may I take this opportunity to commend the Appointments Committee for the good job done during the vetting of the two nominees. Let me use this occasion, to once again, congratulate Justice Sophia Abena Boafoa Akuffo on her appointment as the second female Chief Justice of the Republic of Ghana, and Mrs Irene Naa Torshie Addo on her appointment as the first female Administrator of the District Assemblies Common Fund. Given the enormous experience, competence and capabilities of the Chief Justice, I have no doubt that the Judiciary would benefit tremendously from her leadership. In similar manner do I trust that our own Irene Naa Torshie Addo would do a good job. Mr Speaker, on the 31st of May, 2017, the Minority Leader moved a Half-Hour Motion to prevail on the Minister for Finance to provide detailed information on the two million, two hundred and fifty million United States dollars (US$2.25 billion) Bond issued by government, including the full complement of documentation related to the issuance, the participants, the utilisation of the proceeds and the currency in which the bonds were settled. Mr Speaker, that was the first time since 1993 when the Fourth Republican Parliament started that this House had seen such a Motion. In response, the Minister for Finance made a Statement on the floor of the House on the 7th of June, 2017, in which he provided detailed information on the issuance of the Bond. Indeed, I must say that the contributions to the Statement by Members is a clear indication that our democracy is advancing steadily. Mr Speaker, the climax of this Meeting, undoubtedly, was the Statement made on the floor of the House by the Hon Minister for Finance, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, to apprise the House on the Mid-year Fiscal Policy Review of the 2017 Budget Statement and Economic Policy of Government. The Statement was in fulfilment of section 28 of the Public Financial Management Act, 2016 (Act 921). Mr Speaker, the nation woke up on the 29th of May, 2017, to the gruesome death of Maj. Maxwell Adam Mahama, a gallant soldier whose life was taken by the land he sought to protect. His death shocked the entire nation. The death of Maj. Mahama and all others who have suffered similar fate in the course of duty, deserve the highest level of condemnation. As a nation, acts of instant justice must be totally condemned and never again should a person's life be snuffed out of him/her the way it happened to Maj. Mahama. Mr Speaker, we also witnessed the unfortunate fire incident on a part of the 10th floor of Job 600. We are grateful to God that no injury or loss of lives were
recorded. However, we need to ensure that this incident does not recur. I would therefore, use this opportunity to thank the personnel of the Ghana National Fire Service, who helped to salvage the situation. It has been suggested that Members may have to be run through drills. Given the lack of space, that exercise could not be performed during this Meeting. It shall be done in the next Meeting and it shall be preceded by a briefing on the handling of the electricals and electronics in the Office Complex. Mr Speaker, Parliament, as we are all aware, is the primary expression of the people's will and this House has a responsibility of holding government accountable. The notion of accountability must also reflect in Parliament's discharge of its mandate. It is, therefore, unfortunate that in recent times, allegations of bribery and corruption have been levelled against this House. Mr Speaker, these allegations ought to be taken seriously as they are a dent on our image. As a House, we need to work towards redeeming our image to gain back the confidence and trust of the people we represent. I will urge the Clerk's Office to make available, copies of the “Code of Conduct for Members of Parliament” adopted by the Sixth Parliament, to all Members. The Code of Conduct, if strictly adhered to by Members, could go a long way in changing the seemingly negative public perception of Parliament. Over the past two weeks, some events have happened in this House, which have tended to degenerate into controversies and caused some turbulence in the House. They relate to the observance of the rules of the House. Various positions have been taken. Tempers have sometimes flared. The Minority has often stated, and rightly so, that the Minority must have their say even if the Majority will have their way. Mr Speaker, that is axiomatic. The Speaker, as the umpire in this political game, who must ensure order and decorum in the House, strives to show accommodation and tolerance while reminding that rights are never absolute and unfettered. Opposition is needed and required to keep government on its toes but opposition must always act responsibly. A Bill is a proposal to do something. It is a declaration of intent. I do not know of any democracy properly so-called where the exclusive jurisdiction of a Supreme Court could be involved to declare a mere declaration of intent unconstitutional. We wait with bated breath to see what the Supreme Court of Ghana would do when the Minority, as they are indicating to us now, embarks on the mission of suicide. In all this, however, we should all learn to play by the rules of the House, otherwise, heat may dominate coolness and that cannot be good for this country. Mr Speaker, perhaps, it is all good that these events have played out approaching the end of this Meeting. I hope that we shall use the recess period to do serious introspection, reflect and return more sobered to continue the service of the country. The review of the Standing Orders has almost been completed. By the time we reconvene, the Standing Orders Committee would report on the effort thus far for possible adoption by the House, in order for us to be able to recompose and reconstitute the various Committees before the Budget comes to be read in the House. I must also express my sincere gratitude to Hon Colleagues who have worked diligently to ensure the effective execution of the Business of the House. Mr Speaker, in particular, I must commend my Colleague, the Hon Minority Leader, for the cooperation that I have enjoyed even though there have been occasional hiccups in the relationship. But we are only human, and we live to explore opportunities to perfect the relationship that we are cultivating in the service of mother Ghana. Mr Speaker, my appreciation goes to the Clerk and his staff for working tirelessly, to enhance the Business of the House. To our media friends who transmit events from the Chamber to the rest of our citizens and the world at large, I thank you for your enterprise even though on some occasions, I have had cause to disagree with the perspectives that some have introduced into their coverage of events, including what happened yesterday when it was reported that the Speaker had referred a Motion to the Committee on Mines and Energy. Mr Speaker, the Hansard bears out that the Speaker never said so. The Speaker referred the matter before us -- introduced -- and the matter had to do with the rescission of a Motion. Mr Speaker, generally speaking, the Press have done well, even though admittedly, there is room for improvement, even as that observation also applied to the work that we as Members of Parliament transact. Leadership will continue to engage the in-House media practitioners continually with a view to improving their lot. Mr Speaker, may I conclude by wishing all of us well as we continue with the discharge of our responsibilities even during the recess. -- [Pause] --
Hon Members, we have come to the end of yet another Meeting. Let us thank the Almighty God for graciously giving us the strength to work for the good of the people that we represent and indeed, for the betterment of our country. The House has performed its various functions, generally and creditably during this Meeting. The approval processes
The dignity of Parliament has been a matter of concern, and many Ghanaians have made many statements which Hon Members are clearly aware of, which do not give any credit to Parliament. Indeed, there is a right to have one's say, but there is a way of talking in the church which is different from the Makola market. [Laughter.] I would like to say that, the way one says a thing, where one says it, and how one says it, should be part of parliamentary etiquette. [Hear! Hear!] The right to have a say of course, does not include unbridled gesticulations. [Hear! Hear!] Nor that which the ordinary Ghanaian would say cannot be done in the Chief's Palace. I believe that this is what our people expect of us, and we must stand to the occasion. The dignity of Parliament should be the key to our discourses. We should definitely always adhere to laid down rules for resolution of our grievances, if any, and advance the appropriate course in the appropriate way, at the appropriate time, invoking all the appropriate circum- stances. I hope all of you would assist me and the Hon Deputy Speakers to continue steering the affairs of the House with dignity, fairness and full knowledge of the procedures of this House. I thank the Leaders, the Hon Deputy Speakers, the Clerk, his colleagues and staff, the Parliamentary Press Corps and all those who helped the House to complete its work for a good work done. May the Almighty God bless us all and our homeland Ghana. The House now adjourns sine die. Thank you.