VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS AND THE OFFICIAL REPORT
Hon Members, item numbered 2 on the Order Paper -- Correction of Votes and Proceedings and the Official Report. The Votes and Proceedings dated Friday, 31st March, 2017.
[No correction was made to the Votes and Proceedings of Friday, 31st March, 2017.]
Item numbered 3 -- Urgent Question. Hon Members, there is an Urgent Question standing in the name of the Hon Alhaji Mohammed-Mubarak Muntaka to the Hon Minister for National Security. Hon Majority Leader, is the Hon Minister in the House to answer the Urgent Question?
Mr Speaker, both the Hon Member, in whose name the Question stands, and the Hon Minister for National Security are not here with us. The Hon Member has indicated that because he is not able to be here, an Hon Member should stand in for him. In much the same way, the Hon Minister has also been summoned by the President for some consultations, so, he is not able to be here with us. Mr Speaker, in that case, I may want to propose that we stand the Question down until the time the Hon Minister is able to be here or failing that, we take it tomorrow.
At the Commencement of Public Business, item numbered 5 on the Order Paper. Hon Majority Leader, is any of the Papers ready for us to take?
Mr Speaker, I guess we can take item 5 numbered (b). It is a Paper to be laid.
Item numbered 5 (b)?
Yes, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, in view of the fact that the Hon Minister is also part of the meeting at the Flagstaff House with the President, may I seek the indulgence of Mr Speaker and that of my Hon Colleagues, to allow the Hon Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation to lay the Paper on behalf of the Hon Minister for Finance.
Thank you very much. So, item numbered 5 (b) to be presented by the—
Hon Majority Leader, any further indication?
Mr Speaker, the other one in respect of the Energy Sector Levies (Amendment) Bill, I am told the Report is not ready.
Is there any particular item ready?
Mr Speaker, it is item numbered 5 (c). Mr Speaker, that one is not yet ready. So, I guess if there are Statements, perhaps, we could take the Statements. Otherwise, we may have to suspend Sitting in order for the Finance Committee to finish the business on the Energy Sector Levies (Amendment) Bill, 2017, and then we can come back and—
Do I take it that item numbered 5(c) is not ready?
Mr Speaker, that is what I have said.
Is that so?
Yes, Mr Speaker.
Very well. If none—
Mr Speaker, because I am told the Bill would be taken under a certificate of urgency, it may mean that we have to take a suspension and come back to deal with it today.
So, we may suspend Sitting, and await further Reports and come back accordingly?
Absolutely, Mr Speaker.
Thank you. -- [Pause] -- Hon Majority Leader, can you please give us some indication on the time that this Report could be ready— 12.00 noon or 1.00 p.m., so that Hon Members may engage themselves in other things?
Mr Speaker, I guess we may have to wait until 1.00 p. m.
1.00 p.m.? Very well. Hon Members, the House would stand suspended till 1.00 p. m. in the afternoon for the relevant documents to be made ready and for business to continue. Thank you very much. 10.53 a.m. -— Sitting suspended. 5.40 p.m. -- Sitting resumed.
Hon Majority Leader, are we on item numbered 6?
Mr Speaker, it seems the Report was not laid in the morning. If it was not laid, then it would have to be laid now, and that has been captured under item numbered 5(c), on page 3 of today's Order Paper.
Item numbered 5(c), Chairman of the Committee?
Could we move on to item numbered 6?
Yes, Mr Speaker.
Item numbered 6, a procedural Motion, Minister for Finance?
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 Second Reading of the Energy Sector Levies (Amendment) Bill, 2017, may be moved today.
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion. Question put and Motion agreed to. Resolved accordingly.
Item numbered 7 -- Motion. Hon Minister for Finance?
BILLS -- SECOND READING
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that the Energy Sector Levies (Amendment) Bill, 2017 be now read a Second time. Mr Speaker, the object of the Bill is to amend the Energy Sector Levies Act, 2015 (Act 899), to revise the levies payable in respect of Public Lighting Levy (PLL) and the National Electrification Scheme Levy (NESL) on petroleum products, and to reduce the cost of production and the burden on households. In the 2017 Budget Statement, Government identified the NESL and the PLL, as among other taxes that impose undue burden on consumers and proposed to reduce the NESL from 5 per cent to 3 per cent and the PLL from 5 per cent to 2 per cent. Both taxes were imposed under the Energy Sector Levies Act, 2016 (Act 899).
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion and in so doing, I present the Committee's Report. Introduction The Energy Sector Levies (Amendment) Bill, 2017, was presented to Parliament by the Hon Minister for Finance, and read the First time on Thursday, 31st March, 2017. The Bill was subsequently referred to the Finance Committee for consideration and report in accordance with article 174 of the 1992 Constitution and Order 169 of the Standing Orders of the Parliament of Ghana. The Chief Director and other officials from the Ministry of Finance and the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) assisted the Committee in its deliberations on the Bill. The Committee expresses its gratitude to the Chief Director and the other officials from the Ministry of Finance and GRA for attending upon the Committee. Urgency of the Bill The Committee determined and certifies that the Bill is of an urgent nature and must be taken through all the stages of passage in one day, in accordance with article 106(13) of the 1992 Constitution and Order 119 of the Standing Orders of the House. References The Committee referred to the following documents inter alia during its deliberations on the Bill: a. The 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana b. The Standing Orders of the Parliament of Ghana c. Energy Sector Levies Act, 2015 (Act 899) d. Interpretation Act, 2009 (Act 792). Background Government, as part of the 2017 Budget Statement and Economic Policy, has proposed to reduce or abolish some taxes in order to bring relief to consumers. Pursuant to that commitment, Government introduced this Bill to amend the Energy Sector Levies Act, 2015 (Act 899), as part of measures to reduce the energy sector levies imposed on consumers. Government has assessed the uses of the National Electrification Scheme Levy (NESL) and the Public Lighting Levy (PLL) and proposes to reduce the NESL from five per cent to two per cent and the PLL from five per cent to three per cent per price of kWh of electricity charged on all categories of consumers. Purpose of the Bill The purpose of the Bill is to amend the Energy Sector Levies Act, 2015 (Act 899), to repeal paragraphs (a) and (b) of subsection (2) of section 4; to provide for a reduction in the rate of levies for Public Lighting and the National Electrification Scheme on petroleum products, and to provide for related matters. Contents of the Bill The Energy Sector Levies (Amendment) Bill, 2017, contains two (2) clauses. Clause 1 amends the Energy Sector Levies Act, 2015 (Act 899) by repealing section 4(2)(a) and (b) thereof. Clause 2 provides for amendment of the First Schedule to Act 899 to reduce the Public Lighting Levy to 3 per cent and the National Electrification Scheme Levy to 2 per cent. Observations Fiscal Impact The Committee noted that the reduction in the rates would lead to an estimated revenue loss of GH¢308.30 million. Of this amount, GH¢185.28 million and GH¢123.01 million are estimated National Electrification Scheme Levy and Public Lighting Levy losses to the Power Generation and Infrastructure Support Sub-Account (PGISS). In effect, the sixty per cent (60 per cent) of moneys collected under the NESL and
Mr Speaker, I rise to support the Motion to amend the Energy Sector Levies Act, 2015 (Act 899), which would repeal paragraphs (a) and (b) of subsection (2) of section 4 and provide for a reduction of the rate of levies for PLL and NESL on petroleum products. I would go straight to the Observations. I know that the Committee's Report clearly stated that this reduction would have an impact of a reduction of GH¢308.30 million. Of that amount, GH¢185.28 million and GH¢123.01 million are estimated NESL and PLL losses to the Power Generation and Infrastructure Support Sub-Account (PGISS). While I make these observations, it is important to draw your attention to a paragraph in the Budget Statement which stated frankly that in 2016, out of the amount estimated for rural electrification, we spent GH¢111 million. This year, 2017, the only amount that has been budgeted for rural electrification is GH¢49 million. Mr Speaker, if we juxtapose that with this loss of GH¢308 million, and we look at where we are in terms of access to rural electrification and communities that still wait to have access to electricity, there are lots of questions to be asked. I am sure that this is no consolation at all for rural communities that continue to wait for access to electricity. This is a matter we would have to revisit. What is important is what we are doing today. There is a reduction, but a lot of questions must be asked. This is because elections matter and election promises matter. Is this the immediate relief of electricity tariffs that the New Patriotic Party (NPP), then in opposition, promised the people of Ghana? Mr Speaker, if we recall, the history of the Energy Sector Levies was that --
Hon Members, order! We are discussing issues and principles that underpin the Bill. The Hon Member, is on the right course. Hon Member, please continue. [Hear! Hear!] --
Mr Speaker, in the Budget Statement, projected revenue that has accrued for the overall levies was over GH¢3 billion and part of this amount was focused on addressing the energy sector debt. Mr Speaker, at the time that the Energy Sector Levies Act was passed, the National Democratic Congress (NDC), then in government, one year to election, had to make a very difficult political decision because this was crucial. We had to make this decision because it was more important for this economy and for this country than political expediency. We were described as insensitive and that we did not care and that was why we introduced the Energy Sector Levies. The NPP, then in opposition promised the people of Ghana that they would abolish it. Are they abolishing the Energy Sector Levies today?
Mr Speaker, that is not what we are doing. We are tinkling on the edges and in so doing, we would harm a very important programme -- rural electrification which is so important to rural communities which have waited so long for electricity. Mr Speaker, I believe the people of Ghana would see through all of these, that this was simply an attempt to address a political promise. It is not good enough, and I believe the people of Ghana would see through it. Mr Speaker, while we support this Energy Sector Levy, I believe that we must do everything possible to address a programme that had been put in place by the NDC Government to address the indebtedness of the energy sector.
Hon Members, order! Order!
Mr Speaker, we believe we took very important steps to address the indebtedness of the utilities. Last year, GH¢111 million was spent on rural electrification. The only amount which was budgeted in 2017 for rural electrification is GH¢49 million and they have gone ahead to still reduce levies that would give relief to rural communities. We believe there are lots of questions than answers. Mr Speaker, having said that, I support the Motion.
Mr Speaker, one of the biggest challenges that Ghanaians faced from last year was the high utility tariffs in the country. Most homes were unable to put on their lights even though they had electricity, and this was because of the amount of money they would spend on electricity by the end of the month. Mr Speaker, a government should be seen to support its people when they are in need. This is an opportunity for the Government to bring relief to the people of Ghana. Mr Speaker, the reduction in the tariffs would lead to reduction in electricity bills for the people of Ghana -- [Interruption] -- and I am sure that numerous homes which do not put on lights because they cannot pay their bills would now do so -- [Hear! Hear!] -- Lights are supposed to be used by the people of Ghana but because they are not able to pay the bills, they cannot put the lights on. So, if we expand electricity to the people of Ghana and they cannot use it, what is the sense in giving them the power? The Government must ensure that when it gives power to the people of Ghana, they would be able to access it because it must be affordable and this is what the Government seeks to correct with this Bill. Mr Speaker, I expect all of us to support this Bill because our people in the hinterlands would look at us. I am sure they were happy when they heard it in the Budget Statement, and I believe this step would actualise that promise. Mr Speaker, the Government has actually shown how committed it is. If we look at the fiscal impact of over GH¢300 million -- if this Government can decide that it would make away with this huge amount of money because it wants to bring relief to the people of Ghana, it means that this Government is a people centred government -- [Hear! Hear!] -- I believe this is what we call prudent usage of the resources of the country.
Hon Members, Order!
Mr Speaker, I believe my constituents in Berekum East, who could not put their lights on during the campaign because they could not pay their electricity bills would be looking forward to putting it on because they would have reliefs from this Bill. Mr Speaker, we were told by the Ministry at the Committee level that there would be minimal or no impact, as far as debt restructuring at the Ministry is concerned. So, I believe the concerns of the previous Minister that the Government would be unable to extend electricity to the rural communities is neither here nor there. This is because the main issues were about the debt at the Ministry, and if by being prudent and ensuring that there was value for money, we would be able to part with this figure and still bring relief to the people of Ghana. We should support it. There would be no padding of prices to increase our debts unnecessarily. This Government would ensure that there is value for money and so, there is no need to raise eyebrows where there is none.
Mr Speaker, thank you very much.
Mr Speaker, there has been much talk about relief for the ordinary consumer. I believe that the essence of reviewing the Energy Sector Levy is to bring much relief, especially to industry. Those are the category we call non- residential consumers. Mr Speaker, we recall that industries kept complaining. Indeed, the levies and taxes were described as obnoxious and that they ought to go. Mr Speaker, despite all these reviews and the reduction we are undertaking, we
Mr Speaker, let me repeat — The most important element is the non- residential consumer. This is because in Ghana, contrary to other countries, residential consumers pay less, while commercial users pay high. So, it has been the policy to try and change the situation, like most other countries across the globe, so that commercial consumers pay less and residential consumers rather pay high. This is because we would prefer to have energy for commercial consumption and productivity at a lower cost than for residential consumers. Mr Speaker, I would want to put on record, that all this Bill would ensure is that commercial consumers would have a reduction of three per cent off their cost. Dr Assibey-Yeboah — On a point of order.
Hon Members, let us have decorum.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Member for Yapei/Kusawgu is deliberately misleading the House. Firstly, he is a member of the Finance Committee —
He may be misleading the House, but do not bring ill motive. In your opinion, what he is doing is misleading the House. Do not go into his motive. Otherwise something else would happen. Please proceed.
Mr Speaker, right here in this House, we have lowered the VAT, otherwise known as the Special Petroleum Tax from 17.5 per cent to 15 per cent — [Uproar] — Just two weeks ago. So, for him to say that the VAT is not going away is misleading. Mr Speaker, secondly, I refer the Hon Member to paragraph 132 of the Budget Statement on page 30, and I beg to quote: “Mr Speaker, you may recall that this august House enacted the Energy Sector Levies Act, 2015 (Act 889). The main objective of the Act was to “consolidate existing energy sector levies to ensure efficient utilisation of proceeds generated from the levies, impose a price stabilisation and recoveries levy to facilitate sustainable long term investments in the energy sector, and to provide for other related matters.”
Hon Members, it can lead to serious contempt if you criss-cross by way of speaking to an Hon Member who is on his feet, particularly when you are put to Order and you persist. Hon Member, you may continue with your argument.
Mr Speaker, thank you very much. Mr Speaker, on the contrary, my Hon Colleague probably misunderstood my statement. I said that VAT on electricity sales is staying put — commercial consumers who consume electricity would continue to pay the 17.5 per cent, and this is a fact. I am not stating an opinion; I am giving facts. Mr Speaker, the other issue has to do with the consolidation of taxes and levies. First of all, the energy sector levies seem to consolidate some levies and taxes. The old street light levy used to be GH¢0.0004 per kilowatt hour. What we have done is to consolidate that into the new Energy Sector Levy. But the amount used for infrastructure for rural electrification is a new levy. They should tell me which old levy was consolidated or consumed into this levy. Mr Speaker, in any case, if we intended consolidating the levy, as stated in the Budget Statement in paragraph 132, to bring about efficiency and to ensure that we pay the debt, why did we oppose it after we passed it? It shows that there is a contradiction, but there is the issue of equity. We are talking of paying debts accrued through the consumption of electricity. Now, by the changing of this Act, what we are saying is that we would only pay the levies through petroleum products. That is effectively what we are doing. This is because we are forfeiting the 40 per cent and 60 per cent which would have gone into the Energy Service Debt Account in order to help defray the debt. Mr Speaker, in 2016, when we met the banks, the moneys that accrued from electricity was added to moneys accrued from petroleum, and we paid the banks an amount of GH¢250 million and structured the remaining payment for a period of three years, maximum, five years. So, one cannot convince the Rt Hon Speaker that when we reduce this amount by the 40 per cent, the 60 per cent which cumulatively becomes five per cent of electricity sales would not affect the payment. It is certainly leading to a drop. Mr Speaker, but I am rehashing the issue of equity. I consume electricity, there is a debt, my grandmother in the village has no access to electricity, but when she buys petroleum products, she would then pay, and we would use that to defray that debt. Mr Speaker, how can we do this? When we caution, it is not as if we do not support a reduction. Let it be on record that the Minority side is not against a reduction of tariffs — [Uproar] — But when they are reducing—
Mr Speaker, I did some work with some commercial entities, and they claimed that looking at the cost of their recurrent expenditure, electricity accounts for 10 per cent -- Mr Speaker, if we reduce that by three per cent, it means that effectively, if I fall within that category, the cost of my recurrent expenditure would reduce by 0.3 per cent.
That is the last contribution, and then the Hon Leaders.
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to add my voice to the debate. Mr Speaker, --
Mr Speaker, this is an important legislation and its amendment, which is very fundamental to our energy sector. I would indulge you to allow for two more contributions from both sides of the House and then Leadership could wind up and then the Hon Minister, probably, could respond. Mr Speaker, I am assuring you that we would see to the Bill going through the necessary processes after we have exposed their contradictions. [Laughter.] So, allow two more --
Hon Member, that was said mindful of the time of the day and also what other Businesses may be available.
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to add my voice to this debate. Mr Speaker, we know that a journey of thousand miles starts with a first step. In Ghana, we have a saying that: “obia onya kitikiti obemawo, onuaso na onya kesie obemawo”. To wit, a person who has small and is able to give some --
Hon Members, Order!
Mr Speaker, what I said in Akan was that; “obia onya kitikiti obemawo, onuaso na onya kesie obemawo”. To wit, the person who has something very small and is able to part with it one is sure that when he or she gets a bigger chunk, he or she would give more. [Hear! Hear!] Mr Speaker, we are all aware in this House, when the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Government took over power, the economy was not as strong as we were
Mr Speaker, as we know, in this country, energy demand has been suppressed because of the high cost of electricity. As we speak, even though we are able to have a generation capacity of about 3,800MW, what is actually required in this country, or what people are actually using is roughly a maximum of about 2000MW; instead of it moving up to about 2,600MW. It shows that electricity consumption has dropped, or we are not actually achieving the numbers we should achieve on the demand side of the generation. Mr Speaker, what this means is that people are now turning to other sources of electricity, instead of the normal national grid that we use. Therefore, if people get this small relief, they would be able to put it to good use and make sure that their production could go up. Assuming that somebody is in a house and spends about GH¢100.00 a month; and he is now going to get a reduction of say, five per cent or GH¢5.00 every month, in a year, that person could have saved about GH¢60.00. That is practical and very handy. They could use that GH¢60.00 to do something else in the factory or the home. So, this relief of five per cent is very important, and we would hold on to it while government organises itself within the year and comes back to give us more. Mr Speaker, if we take rural electrification, we are told that we have been able to achieve 83 per cent coverage. It means that it is only left with 17 per cent. I believe that this relief would not stop this country from trying to catch up with the 100 per cent that we are going -- because if within the last eight years we have been able to do about 15 per cent, and we are sure that the economy is going to grow, then I believe that the 17 per cent that is left could be connected to either off grid system or just the national grid that we have. Therefore, our Friends on the opposite side of the House should not and never be afraid. Mr Speaker, the former Hon Minister for Petroleum is aware that households, especially in the villages, are not consuming petroleum products to service the debts of urban centers. Under their own regime, they introduced the solar lighting system. Therefore, even the subsidies that government provided for kerosene were stopped. It is not that some people are enjoying petroleum products to pay for the debts of those in the urban centers. That is not the case. As we speak, I believe the solar lighting system has been so successful that any government that continues to finish it up would make sure that people in the villages would not be consuming petroleum products to service the needs of those in the urban centers.
Do you stand on a point of order or correction?
Mr Speaker, yes. The Hon Member for Takoradi just made a statement that because we introduced the solar lighting system in rural communities, most rural communities are using solar lighting and so, they are not using the national grid. That is not correct. Mr Speaker, we still have so many communities that are using the national grid. So, to make a statement that rural communities are not contributing because they are using solar -- Many of the rural communities are using electricity from the grid.
Mr Speaker, I made mention of petroleum products and not electricity. Mr Speaker, the current bills that are generated for us to pay, almost 30 per cent of that goes to waste through either commercial or distribution losses. Mr Speaker, if we take the three northern regions, where Northern Electricity Distribution Company (NEDCO) is, losses alone, both commercial and distribution, are about 27 per cent. If we come to the south, the losses are about 25 per cent. If we add the transmission losses from Ghana Grid Company Limited (GRIDCo), which is about two to three, then we are talking about 30 per cent of the bills that we currently enjoy being wasted. Mr Speaker, that is why I believe that when the Hon Minister came to this House for his vetting, he was very clear about the issue. He made mention that GH¢2.4 billion of the debts in the energy sector are among the agencies, and we, therefore need to take off those debts. That was the bold step the Hon Minister said he would implement.
Minority Leadership? The Leadership may permit somebody to speak at this stage. Please do not ask, “Are you a Leader?” In fact, that language is unparliamentary because it exudes rudeness to another Hon Member.
Mr Speaker, my expectation, even though dashed, was to see you allow one other Hon Member to debate this --
Hon Minority Leader, please continue.
Mr Speaker, I rise to support the Motion. I speak, knowing that the Energy Sector Levies were introduced essentially by Government to deal with a major outstanding energy sector debt referred to as the legacy debt, and to improve the balance sheet of energy related institutions such as the Volta River Authority (VRA) and Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG). Mr Speaker, I should be the last person to speak against this reduction because I had the privilege at the instance of former President Mahama, when this Bill came to Parliament and became law. There was a major demonstration by organised labour, together with the Association of Ghana Industries and other interest groups to ask for its reduction because -- I would paraphrase the Trades Union Congress (TUC) Secretary-General at the time -- it was a chisel on their income. Therefore, there was a committee put up by Government to review the Energy Sector Levy with the view of supporting what the Hon Member for Yapei-Kusawgu said -- to make a clear distinction between life line consumers and industrial business consumers, and to provide, if possible, any amelioration to reduce the consequence of the implementation of this tax regime. Therefore, in principle, it is work in progress, and the committee made far- reaching recommendations on the future. What we did not recommend was relative to water, which we did not have a position; but on utility per electricity consumption, some work was done. Mr Speaker, may I respectfully refer to page 4 of your Committee's Report -- Impact on Debt Restructuring.
“The Committee was informed that the reduction in the rates would not have any impact on the current obligations under the debt restructuring arrangements …” Mr Speaker, with all respect, the Committee that worked on this must come again. This reminds me of what we call in economics, “economic tickle”. We are being tickled with economics, to say that this would have no impact on current debt obligation. Please, it is far from the truth. Now, when we calculate this in dollars -- Mr Speaker, again, I would refer you to the Observations of the Report -- Fiscal Impact -- GH¢308.30 million. That is revenue loss. Mr Speaker, this decision of an economic tickle by the Hon Minister for Finance reminds me of my grandmother's proverb -- it is like mashing kenkey in the sea. One does not have iced kenkey, one does not have kenkey, and one does not have water. It is like going to mash kenkey in the sea. Mr Speaker, they are saying that they are reducing this tax, and in doing so, there would be no impact. There would be an impact. Only last two weeks; when Government gave the banks GH¢160 million -- led by the Managing Director of Stanbic Bank, Mr Alhassan Andani, it was extensively reported that the banks felt so relieved with just GH¢160 million. Today, they are saying that a loss of GH¢308.30 million has no impact. For the banks, just servicing GH¢160 million was good news for them and they indicated to the public that since December -- the first quarter, they got GH¢250 million and got additional support from the Government -- thanks to the Energy Sector Levy. Mr Speaker, I would withdraw “Suame”. With all respect to the Hon Member of Parliament for Suame, I beg to withdraw “Suame.” Mr Speaker, but I am emphasising how negligible --
Hon Minority Leader, all manner of “nomics” are accepted in normal parlance. [Laughter.] In fact, if you think that this is a kind of “nomics”, then you may say so. It is a parlance of acceptability.
Mr Speaker, but for the fact that you cannot take part in the debate -- there is a Ga dance that you mentioned -- going back and forth.
You may proceed, and you may withdraw or not. It is all accepted.
Mr Speaker, they ought not tell this Parliament that GH¢308.30 million would not have an impact. Then the consequence of their action, which the Hon Member for Yapei- Kusawgu pointed out, is that it is negligible; its impact would not be necessarily felt by the Ghanaian people. Could we imagine what GH¢10 million or GH¢20 million out of the GH¢38.30 million would do for Pantang Hospital?
On a point of order. Mr Speaker, my Hon Friend referred to the fiscal impact on page 4, and he tried to relate it to what is being said.
Mr Speaker, it is not about the settlement of the debt, but it is about settling it on time and in order that --
Mr Speaker, I would add that I was on the economic management team when the Managing Director of Fidelity Bank led a group -- the briefs are there -- to say that three or four banks were almost virtually collapsing, and it is arising out of this debt. So, I am just saying that we should not just free resources to please a political group. Mr Speaker, to borrow the words of former President Jerry John Rawlings, one cannot have an omelette without breaking an egg. This is the egg that we broke because we wanted an omelette. As they reduce this, they are not going to service the energy debt. Mr Speaker, even more worrying is VRA's capacity to buy crude, as we do not have gas. Part of this money was used, and I am aware -- as I said, I was part of the negotiations with organised labour. Why we have not even been able to reduce the legacy debt was to transfer it to support VRA to be able to buy crude, and we are now saying that we are reducing it. Mr Speaker, that is problematic. Mr Speaker, finally, on transposition of rates, I refer to the Budget Statement, page 136, paragraph 796. After we have approved the Budget Statement and Appropriation, the Committee is coming here to do correction of transposition of rates. Mr Speaker, with your indulgence, I quote at page 4 of the Commitee's Report, under Transposition of Rates. “The Committee observed that in the Budget Statement the reduction in the rates had been inadvertently stated as 3 per cent …” It is no wonder that they are in a hurry. So, in that hurry, they could do this, and now just use the Committee's Report to correct what is in the Budget Statement. Mr Speaker, I support this, as I have said, because 1 have been part of the processes where organised labour, the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) and the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA) all protested strongly. Indeed, we almost averted a national strike action arising out of this because it chiseled and ate into incomes. However, Mr Speaker, when they go and reduce petroleum Value Added Tax (VAT) from 17.5 per cent to 15 per cent, we would lose GH¢254 million or more, and when they reduce these rates, fiscally, we would lose GH¢308.30 million. Mr Speaker, counting with my poor arithmetic background, which is not as rich as that of the Hon Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation, this Government has caused a GH¢l billion havoc to the fiscal regime of this country in the reductions they have made. [Interruption.] Yes, it is havoc.
Mr Speaker, they have done havoc to the fiscal regime of this country of about GH¢1 billion loss. Now, the Hon Member, when he was on his feet, said that when the New Patriotic Party (NPP) took over, the economy was not strong. Within ninety days, what medicine have they brought to make the economy strong, apart from the economy they inherited? He said when they inherited the economy, it was not strong. What have they done new? Mr Speaker, then, they had promised the people of Ghana that they would do away with the Energy Sector Levies. They are not doing away with it because they cannot do away with it. It is part of the seeds of growth. Mr Speaker, so, in concluding, I support this amendment, to the extent that it would bring relief to Ghanaian consumers of electricity; but I also share the view that its consequence and impact is negligible and insignificant. The Hon Minister could have done better than come and just tickle us, that he has reduced this to GH¢308.03 million. Havoc — They could add their word. It is a havoc to the fiscal regime of the country because this is revenue accruing naturally to them, which they could prioritise. So, it does not come to me, that government is prioritising the energy sector and appreciating its critical role in our national governing effort.
Mr Speaker, as we have been told by various contributors who have preceded me, this Bill intends to offer some relief to Ghanaians, and I am surprised to hear today, that the tax relief, which is intended to be offered by this Bill, is rather going to cause havoc to Ghanaians.
On a point of order. Mr Speaker, I am compelled to stand on a point of order. I used my words -- If he wants to paraphrase or quote, he should quote the exact words. I said it would cause havoc to the fiscal regime. I stand by it, today, tomorrow and forever. If he is introducing his words, he should own those words. I said fiscal havoc to the fiscal regime of GH¢1 billion. Mr Speaker, he should choose his words, but in quoting me, he must quote me appropriately; I insist.
Mr Speaker, the fiscal regime that my Hon Colleague is talking about is the fiscal regime of the Republic of Ghana, and the people who inhabit Ghana are Ghanaians. So, I am surprised the Hon Majority Leader is now sprinting away from the statement he has just made. Mr Speaker, it is important to reflect -- in the year 2009, when the National Democratic Congress (NDC) assumed office, when they were canvassing for support, they said excessive taxation has caused high cost of living of Ghanaians, and they were going to offer a reprieve. Mr Speaker, they went on to say that the low levels of industrial and manufacturing processes are also attributable to the myriad of taxation in the country, and that was contributing to the high levels of unemployment and underemployment. That was the NDC. Indeed, they said it increased incidents of poverty and limited access to social services. Mr Speaker, today, we have a Government that is saying that, ‘let us
offer some relief to Ghanaians by way of reducing some of the taxes in the system'. People are saying that rather would cause a havoc. We are in exciting times. Mr Speaker, the issue that we have to contend with, which I would agree with Hon Colleagues, is that and I am quoting the conclusion of the Committee. The Committee says: “...having carefully examined the Bill, finds that its passage would be an important step towards bringing relief to the people of Ghana with regards to levies in the energy sector.” Mr Speaker, that is true; but it is only true to the extent that as a country, and as managers of the economy, we would be able to hold down the cedi and prevent the volatility of the cedi in the years following. Otherwise, the benefit that we want the people to harvest would eventually prove to be non-existent. So, it is important for us, as managers of the economy, to ensure that the volatility in the system is curbed. Mr Speaker, we are told that coverage of electricity has increased to about 83 per cent. We need to interrogate that. What measure is being used? Whether it is coverage by geographical area of the country, coverage by population, or coverage by the number of communities in the country, we are not told. They cannot just say that coverage is 83 per cent. What is it that they are talking about? It is 83 per cent of what? Mr Speaker, in any event, of what use would be the 83 per cent coverage if the people cannot afford the cost of electricity. We are told that reducing the tariff from 5 per cent to 2 per cent just means that it has been reduced by a mere 3 per cent. That is a tragedy. I thought that commonsensically, if we reduce a percentage from 5 per cent to 2 per cent, one has reduced it by 60 per cent of the 5 per cent. Of the 5 per cent, if a person reduces it to 2 per cent, he has reduced that component by 60 per cent, and if he reduces it from 5 per cent to 3 per cent, he has reduced it by 40 per cent. I believe that is arithmetically -- Mr Speaker, now they are saying that I should not quote in percentages, but it is the total bill. They were quoting the percentages, and now they are saying I should not deal with percentages. Mr Speaker, this is laughable.We are told that this amount was intended to help off-set --
On a point of order.
stances, I would not rise on my feet
Hon Member, just go on with what you want to do -- [Laughter.]
Mr Speaker, the Hon Majority Leader indicates that it is not 3 per cent. Once again, we are dealing with facts. There is a document known as the Reckoner. That is what the utility people use to calculate. What the Hon Majority Leader is doing is knocking the 5 per cent against the net charge. That is not how it is calculated. It is 3 per cent of the energy charge. After the energy charge, then other service charges come on. So, when we say 5 per cent, it is 5 per cent of the energy charge. The cumulative or net effect is what the consumer would pay at the end of the month, and I am saying that by this calculation, at the end of the month, the ordinary consumer, when he goes to pay his bills, the net effect in terms of the reduction would be a 3 per cent of the amount he was paying hitherto the Act being changed. So, the net effect is 3 per cent. It is 5 per cent on the energy charge which culminates into 3 per cent net of what the consumer would pay.
Mr Speaker, I do not see the value in this engagement. I am talking about arithmetic. You have a 5 per cent charge. Now, you have reduced it to 2 per cent. What does it mean? You have reduced it by a percentage of 60. Mr Speaker, so I am wondering the laborious attempt by the former Deputy Minister to dispute that. No value addition. I am insisting that if the percentage is 5 per cent and you reduce it to 3 per cent, you have reduced what it used to be by 40 per cent. This is commonsensical. Mr Speaker, the issue of rural communities that may have to wait for a longer time for rural electrification is a matter that we should interrogate. It is a matter that should concern all of us. The issue rather is whether in satisfying rural electrification, we should solely rely on this levy? Is there any other alternative? That is the issue at stake. It is not as if anybody is saying that rural electrification should not continue. It is whether or not the imposition of this levy is the only source of redeeming the plight of the rural lights. Mr Speaker, that is the issue, and it would seem to me that demonstrably, there may be alternatives that Government would pursue to ensure that the programme initiated by the President Rawling's regime, continued by President Kufuor, and indeed, added on to by the President Mills and President Mahama's regime would certainly continue. Mr Speaker, the issue of the energy sector debt, what we have come to know as the legacy debt, should be a matter that all political parties, including in particular, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the New Patriotic Party (NPP) to come together and find a solution to. I say this because in 1998, the NDC said with respect to the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) debts, and I am quoting their Manifesto of 2008; “We are going to investigate the mystery of TOR's indebtedness to over 5 trillion, despite the imposition and collection of the TOR debt recovery levy”. So, eight years on, what has happened? And you said further that you were going to ensure that by the end of the eight-year regime of the NDC, it would be a thing of the past. Where are we? Mr Speaker, I believe this matter of TOR debts should be subjected to forensic audit, for us as a country, to know where we stand, so that this blame game would completely abate. Mr Speaker, finally, the issue of the transpositional matter has been addressed, and in response to what the Hon Minority Leader said, when it was detected, it was later factored into the Appropriation Bill, so the Appropriation Bill is covered by the error that was detected.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that notwithstanding the provisions of Standing Order 128(1), which require that when a Bill has been read a Second time it shall pass through a Consideration Stage, which shall not be taken until at least forty-eight hours have elapsed, the Consideration Stage of the Energy Sector Levies (Amendment) Bill, 2017, may be taken today.
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion. Question put and motion agreed to. Resolved accordingly.
Hon Members, at the Consideration Stage, we have an Order Paper Addendum. Item numbered 9 on the original Order Paper -- Energy Sector Levies (Amendment) Bill, 2017, at the Consideration Stage.
BILLS -- CONSIDERATION STAGE
Hon Chairman, there is no listed amendment on the Order Paper Addendum.
Rightly so, Mr Speaker. There is no advertised amendment on clause 1. Clause 1 ordered to stand part of the Bill. Clause 2 -- First Schedule to Act 899 amended.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 2, paragraph (a), the Schedule, column 4, line 5, after “VRA” insert “Sunon-Asogli, TTP, Bui”. Mr Speaker, because in the Schedule, other power suppliers were indicated, like Volta River Authority (VRA) and the Northern Electricity Distribution Company (NEDCo), for the avoidance of doubt, it is important that it reflects in the Schedule.
Mr Speaker, I am opposed to the amendment. If we go into the Schedule, we have the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG), NEDCo, VRA and other suppliers of electricity. The list he provides us here now is not exhaustive, and besides, in future, there could be other independent power producers. So, I would advise my Hon Colleague to abandon his amendment so that we could make progress.
Mr Speaker, I would want to persuade the Hon Rockson- Nelson to abandon the amendment. Mr Speaker, yourself -- ejusdem generis. As you say, “suppliers of electricity”. It flows in law that you are anticipating any supplier of electricity. Other than that, if tomorrow any company joins Sunon Asogli, then we would have to come to this House to add the name. So, I would persuade my Hon Colleague to abandon the amendment so that we make progress. Mr Speaker, thank you.
In effect, the present provision is more holistic and capable of accommodating other developments.
Mr Speaker, I take a cue. The proposed amendment is abandoned. Amendment abandoned by leave of the House.
Hon Members, clause 2 (ii). It is another amendment by the same person, Hon Rockson-Nelson E. K. Dafeamekpor.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 2, paragraph (a), the Schedule, column 5, line 3, delete “Power” and insert “Energy” and in line 6, after “Companies” insert “and Power Generation and Infrastructure Support Sub-Account” Mr Speaker, this would be in consonance with section 4, subsection (1) of the mother law, which reads, and with your permission, I read: “The Minister shall cause to be opened and maintained, a sub- account of the Energy Debt Service Account to be known as the Power Generation and Infrastructure Support Sub-Account.” Mr Speaker, the Bill that is proposing an amendment to this law is not amending this mother section in the law, and so it is important that it reflects in the Schedule, in consonance with the section it reflects in the law. Mr Speaker, with the other amendment to the Ministry of Power, it is also in response to the fact that they have created a new Ministry of Energy. So, it is no longer the Ministry of Power, but the Ministry of Energy. Mr Speaker, these are the reasons for the proposed amendment.
Mr Speaker, I can understand the circumstances of this Bill. There has not been extensive consultation as it should be. Mr Speaker, I would engage my Hon Colleague again, to abandon this amendment. This is because, within the sector, this Bill cannot respond to changes in nomenclature of changes in governments. We do have an Energy Debt Service Account because in that account, there is power related debt, and there is energy petroleum related debt. Mr Speaker, in fact, most of the legacy debt is because government undertook to pay subsidies on petroleum products, which is part of it. So, I would persuade
the Hon Dafeamekpor to abandon the amendment. Mr Speaker, I would discuss the other one with him, but it is neater as it is here, and it is for the Ministry of Finance to have those accounts. That is why I explained that when the Hon Minister got the money, instead of servicing the legacy debt, some of it was used to support VRA and others in order to be able to do well. So, the Hon Dafeamekpor should look at it again. Mr Speaker, thank you.
Mr Speaker, once more, I would take a cue and abandon the amendment proposed in clause 2 (ii)
Thank you very much, Hon Member. The amendment is accordingly abandoned. Amendment abandoned by leave of the House. Hon Members, clause 2 (iii). Hon Member, would this flow from the earlier abandoned amendment, by way of (i)? With (i) having gone overboard, what is the fate of (iii)?
Mr Speaker, in this regard, it would be consequential, save d(i).
Hon Member, it has been abandoned.
Mr Speaker, I would abandon all, except the clause 2 (vi), the amendment proposed in respect of the Long Title.
Hon Members, let us go about the Consideration Stage in a serious manner. Hon Chairman of the Committee, with reference to clause 2 (iii), we would want to be certain.
Mr Speaker, I believe the Hon Colleague has abandoned (iii) as well as (iv). Mr Speaker, the Hon Majority Leader has an amendment not advertised on the Order Paper Addendum, so he would want to move that one.
Hon Members, for the sake of clarity, do I take it that the proposed amendments from (i) to (iv) on clause 2 stand abandoned?
Mr Speaker, that is so.
All right. The proposed amendment from (i) to (iv) stands abandoned. Therefore, I will put the Question --
Mr Speaker, there is a small amendment.
A fresh amendment which is not listed?
It is not listed, Mr Speaker.
Very well, Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, it is column 3 of the Schedule in 2 (a). It reads: “To support payment of energy consumed by traffic lights, street lights, public lights and highways …” Mr Speaker, I believe there is a mistake. Perhaps, it was a typographical error. It rather should read: “public lights on highways”, not “public lights and highways”. It is public lights on highways that the levies are meant for. So, in line 5, we would rather delete “and” and insert “on” and consequentially, in line 10, we delete “and” and insert “on”.
So, it is not “public lights and highways” but “public lights which are on highways”. Hon Members, it is a very clear proposed amendment.
Mr Speaker, I support the amendment, and with your leave, associate myself with it and to encourage the Hon Majority Leader to read further. There is no comma after “highways” and then when you read, it continues: “public lights on highways to support investment and main- tenance …” So, we can either put a comma there or a semi-colon could be added.
I put the Question on the proposed amendments.
Hon Chairman, are you anticipating me to --
Mr Speaker, I tried so hard to catch your eye.
Do you have a further amendment?
Rightly so, Mr Speaker.
You may do so. We shall put the Question again.
Mr Speaker, on the same clause 2, column 3, where the Hon Minority Leader --
Clause 2, column 3?
Yes, Mr Speaker, if you read further, it says on the last page: “and to cater for replacement of street lights destroyed by hit and run motor vehicles.” Mr Speaker, I would want to delete “by hit and run motor vehicles.” This rendition in the enactment does not sound right.
So would you want it to be “street lights destroyed by any means”?
Mr Speaker, it should be “cater for replacement of street lights destroyed by motor vehicles.”
What if it happens to be something other than a vehicle?
Mr Speaker, we are replacing “street lights”. It does not even matter whether they are destroyed by hit and run motorists.
Please, conjecture an omnibus application and let us move on. You talk about “vehicles” or “hit and run” and so on, which may be too exclusive. The important thing is that if they are damaged by whatever means, it is applicable. Please put it that way and let us proceed.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, after “destroyed” delete “by hit and run motor vehicles” so that it would end after “destroyed”.
Mr Speaker, street lights are not only destroyed by hit and run motor vehicles; they can be destroyed by storm. Mr Speaker, if the Hon Chairman has no objection, he should just end it at “street lights” to read “replacement of street lights”.
Mr Speaker, I have no objection to his further amendment.
So, how would the final rendition read like?
It would read: “and to cater for replacement of street lights.”
Hon Chairman, can we simply talk about “damaged street lights simplicita?
Rightly so -- “however destroyed”.
They may need not be destroyed actually. They may be damaged and may require replacement, but in fact, they are not destroyed. Can we end at “damaged street lights”?
Mr Speaker, I would propose “replacement of street lights however destroyed”. So that it caters for whether it is hit and run, storm or whichever way it is destroyed. If we leave it the way the Hon Minority Leader suggests, then we can replace it even if it is not spoilt. That is not the purpose for which we are doing it.
Order! Hon Members, we are at the Consideration Stage. Can we talk simpliciter of “damaged street lights”?
Mr Speaker, there is a suggestion that we include “non- functional” to read “replacement of non- functional street lights”.
Hon Members, this is not a matter -- One person would speak at a time. It is not a matter of Noes and Ayes.
Mr Speaker, I proposed the rendition “to cater for replacement of street lights however destroyed”, but I am also beginning to go with your rendition which is “damaged street lights”, so that -- [Interruption.] That is what Mr Speaker proposed and I believe that, once maintenance is already catered for in the law, the Hon Jinapor's worry that even if it is not working and we need to maintain -- Maintenance is already stated in there. So, this section does not cater for that purpose; it caters for when it has been damaged. I go with Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, we do not only replace street lights when they are damaged or non-functional. There was Government policy in 2015 that the high sodium bulbs should be replaced on our streets by LED bulbs because they consumed far less power and were more durable. So, it is not only when they are damaged; we replace them if new technology would give us an advantage in replacing them.
Hon Member, in that connection, you would make a rendition. So, what would be the proposed rendition? At the Consideration Stage, all Hon Members contribute renditions. The moment you do not see the point in one, make your proposal. Yes, Hon Member?
Thank you, Mr Speaker. I think maintenance and replacement -- [Interruption.]
Order! Please give a rendition capturing your proposition. -- [Interruption.]-- Hon Minority Leader, the Hon Member is on the floor; I will come to the Leaders after that.
Mr Speaker, it should be, “To support payments of energy consumed by electric, streetlights, public lights—” -- [Interruption.]--
Hon Minority Leader? Order!
Mr Speaker, may I respectfully read column 3 well, so that Hon Sarah Adwoa Safo would understand --[Interruption.]
Mr Speaker, it reads; “To support payments of energy consumed by traffic lights, streetlights, public lights on highways; to support investment and maintenance of traffic lights, streetlights”, “public lights…” Mr Speaker, it can even end at that point, unless you want to say “by Metropolitan and District Assemblies”. Mr Speaker, the argument by the Hon Deputy Majority Leader, in her objection, was to suggest that —
Hon Minority Leader, I think you can end there. Hon Chairman of the Committee? You have made a proposition; I am going to the Hon Chairman of the Committee.
Mr Speaker, I have no objection so that we can make progress.
You have no objection to what?
To the proposed amendment.
The new rendition would be read to make it clear so that we know where we stand.
Do you need a ‘by'? We want to put the Question, so, we want to be very clear. Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I am comfortable if the Hon Chairman of the Committee has no difficulty with us ending at ‘Assemblies'. Thank you.
Very well, both sides have agreed. I will put the Question. Hon Minority Leader, some Hon Members do not appear to be clear about the rendition. It would be appreciated if you would make it clear.
Mr Speaker, for the avoidance of doubt—
The Hon Majority Leader ventures avoidance of doubt. Please, go on.
Mr Speaker, for the avoidance of doubt, it reads: “To support payments of energy consumed by traffic lights, streetlights, public lights on highways; to support investment and maintenance of traffic lights, streetlights, public lights on highways by Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies”.
Those who have any difficulty, please conjecture a rendition. Otherwise, we would ask also that the draftpersons would help us finally in polishing this aspect. Question put and amendment agreed to. Clause 2 as amended ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Long Title? Long Title -- An Act to amend the Energy Sector Levies Act, 2015, Act 899 to repeal paragraphs (a) and (b) of subsection (2) of section 4 to provide for a reduction in the rates of levies for public lightening and the National Electrification Scheme on petroleum products and for related matters.
Hon Chairman of the Committee?
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, Long Title lines 1 and 2, delete “repeal paragraphs (a) and (b) of subsection (2) of section 4” and insert “review transfers into the Power Generation and Infrastructure Support Sub-Account” Mr Speaker, if you read the Long Title, what we are deleting is, in essence, a section in the body of the Act. We felt that if anyone reads the Long Title, what is being done should come out clearly. But to be referring to paragraphs (a) and (b) of subsection (2) of section 4, that was not tidy. So, we are deleting all those sections and replacing them with “review transfers into the Power Generation and Infrastructure Support Sub-Account”, so that it would now read; “An Act to amend the Energy Sector Levies, Act 2015, Act 899 to review transfers into the Power Generation and Infrastructure Support Sub-Account to provide for the reduction in the rates of levies for public lightening and the National Electrification Scheme on petroleum products and for related matters”.
Thank you very much. Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, may I respectfully oppose the amendment, and I would persuade the Hon Chairman to abandon it. Mr Speaker, we know that the tenure of this amendment is not to do away with the rationale of the Energy Sector Levies Act, 2015 (Act 899). The fact that they are honouring a promise to reduce the related Energy Sector Levy -- In particular, as we just read from the column -- I refer to the Budget Statement, paragraph 796. They are only reducing the component on electrification. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the Long Title as it stands. It encompasses the values and spirit of this Act. What they have done is to honour a promise. They said they would reduce hardship by reducing the levies. However, they are not changing the fundamental object of this legislation. They only did that to put in this Long Title, Rural Electrification -- No.
“An Act to consolidate existing Energy Sector Levies” Mr Speaker, the Hon Majority Leader should have listened to himself. When we were on the Second Reading, he said that this was only a consolidation of existing -- those were his words. Therefore, he should abandon it. The amendment he made sits with this law. It is about the utilisation of proceeds and that is what we just discussed under column 3; streetlights, Metropolitan Chief Executives, sustainable long term investments in the energy sector and dealing with it. I do not see why they want to touch the Long Title. I am not convinced. So the Hon Chairman should abandon it.
Mr Speaker, is the Hon Minority Leader suggesting that the Energy Sector Levies (Amendment) Bill, 2017, should bear no Long Title? There is a Long Title regardless of the Long Title in the parent Act. All we sought to do was to bring clarity here, that the Amendment Bill was reviewing transfers into the Power Generation and Infrastructure Support Sub-Account (PGISS). That was all that we did. However, for it to be in the Long Title, that we are repealing paragraphs (a) and (b) of subsection (2) of section 4, respectfully -- We are not saying that we
Mr Speaker, I appreciate the second leg of the Hon Chairman's argument. However, where would the amendment we just dealt with belong in this amendment? Would it belong to the column 3 that the Hon Majority Leader referred to in the Schedule?
That would be the second leg of the Long Title which reads as follows: “…to provide for a reduction in the rate of levies for Public Lighting and the National Electrification Scheme on petroleum products, and to provide for related matters.” We are just deleting the first part.
I can see the Hon Minority Leader nodding, so I would put the Question. Question put and amendment agreed to.
Mr Speaker, there is a further amendment proposed by Hon Dafeamekpor.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, long title, line 4, delete “products, and for” and insert “products and”
Mr Speaker, respectfully, what the Hon Member sought to do was to delete the comma. I would leave it for others to come in.
It would read: “products and” -- something else. No comma.
Mr Speaker, before “and”, we could still bring the comma but he seeks to delete the comma before “and”.
Mr Speaker, let my Hon Colleague consult all Bills that we have passed in this House. It is for the main issue, “and for related matters or for connected matters”. That is the language. It is either “for related matters or for connected matters”. So, I agree with him that the comma after “product” is not necessary. That is the only thing. That is a typographical error.
So, it should be “products, and for or”.
Mr Speaker, “for related matters” would stay but we would be generous and take off the comma.
Hon Member, could you please read the rendition?
Mr Speaker, it is acceptable.
Mr Speaker, all that we are doing now is to take off the comma after “product”.
The comma after “product” is removed?
Yes, Mr Speaker. Question put and amendment agreed to.
Any further amendment not listed?
Mr Speaker, the original amendment from my Hon Colleague is that we should delete “product, and for” and insert “product and”. As further amended by the Hon Chairman of the Committee, we should delete the comma and the rest should stay. So, as further amended, that is what you would put the Question on and not the original amendment. Otherwise, it may confuse the draftpersons.
For which matter, the end result would be? If you could kindly read for us.
The end result would be to delete the comma after products, so that it would read: “petroleum products and for related matters”.
I hope that is clear. Question put and amendment agreed to. The Long Title as amended ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Hon Members, that brings us to the end of the Consideration Stage. I would move on to Motion numbered 2 on the Addendum Order Paper. Hon Minister for Finance, the procedural Motion, please?
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that notwithstanding the provisions of Standing Order 131 (1) which require that when a Bill has passed through the Consideration Stage, the Third Reading thereof shall not be taken until at least twenty-four hours have elapsed, the Motion for the Third Reading of the Energy Sector Levies (Amendment) Bill, 2017, may be moved today.
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion. Question put and Motion agreed to. Resolved accordingly.
BILLS -- THIRD READING
Yes, Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, we have about exhausted the items on today's Order Paper. I would also commend highly the work done by the Appointments Committee today. They are purposed to continue tomorrow and I hope that they would do a diligent job as they did today. Mr Speaker, sufficient unto the day is the good thereof - this is not the “evil”, but the “good” thereof. It is long past 2.00 o'clock and you may on your own, adjourn proceedings until tomorrow at 10.00 o'clock in the forenoon.
Mr Speaker, we are in your able hands, but I would respectfully request the Hon Majority Leader -- For instance, I expected that today, there would have been a Committee of the Whole and that the first presentation of the District Assemblies Common Fund (DACF), National Health
Insurance and GETFund would have been laid and referred accordingly to the Committee of the Whole. That did not happen. Mr Speaker, the Hon Majority Leader should not ask for extension only for us to come and adjourn and wait until we do important business like the Energy Sector Levies (Amendment) Bill. If we have no Business, we have no Business. Mr Speaker, with the Appointments Committee, there is Business and we are working. I expect that tomorrow, we would vet another batch of nominees and report to you at Plenary to approve what we have been able to do. Mr Speaker, the Hon Majority Leader wants us to work and we have done our best so we must bring a closure to this on Wednesday. Tomorrow, if the institutions are ready, we should do well to lay the Papers. Mr Speaker, but there is a fundamental problem. The Hon Minister for Finance is here -- With the DACF, the Administrator has to treat and respond to government policy and respond to the Earmarked Funds Capping Bill and Realignment. With GETFund, too, he has to respond to government policy, priorities of government and respond to the Earmarked Funds Capping and Realignment Bill; it is the same thing with the National Health Insurance. They cannot do that within two or three days, unless we are just asking them to bring a Paper here and lay it. Mr Speaker, so these statutory funds can wait, and after the Easter Holidays, we would come and do justice to them so that the response to the Hon Minister and the President's policy -- when they bring the Common Fund, we would want to know about that, too. Now, there is an Hon Minister for Sanitation and Water Resources and we know what sanitation means to the Common Fund. They would have to respond to it. Mr Speaker, if the Hon Majority Leader would engage the Hon Minister for Finance, tomorrow, we could take the issue with regard to Hon Members of Parliament's car loans, so that Hon Members would be sure that we would be able to travel and do the rigorous work of Members of Parliament. Mr Speaker, I am well convinced that the Hon Majority Leader must support you, and we must also support him to adjourn this House on Wednesday and not later than that. If he has Business, we are here. If he has the Report on statutory payments, he should bring it so that we go through them. They are not ready and he wants us to come and adjourn when Hon Members who have planned to go to their constituencies are still in Accra. Some Hon Members have “thank you” to do which is important for consolidation for new Hon Members to retain and keep their seats.
Mr Speaker, I know by God's Grace I would not die any time soon. [Laughter.] Mr Speaker, what I do know is that, the Hon Minority Leader is from Tamale and his constituency is not too far away from Gambaga where we have the witches camp [Laughter.] So, he has a third eye. He spoke for the Executive -- the Administrators of the District Assemblies Common Fund, GETFund and Health Insurance and he said that they would not be able to deliver. I did not know that he had a third eye -- [Laughter] -- He is an eternal pessimist and I would cure him of his pessimism. Between now and whenever we adjourn, I believe that we would be able to do it. Mr Speaker, the “adjournment” of this House is in your bosom and nobody else's. Mr Speaker cannot be stampeded in adjourning the House tomorrow or the day after when he knows that there may be Government Business. Mr Speaker, patience and tolerance is what I urge, and in the fullness of time, the sun would shine. Mr Speaker, I thank you very much.
The House was adjourned at 7.37 p.m. till Tuesday, 4th April, 2017, at 10.00 a.m.