VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS AND THE OFFICIAL REPORT
Hon Members, item numbered 2 on the Order Paper -- Correction of Votes and Proceedings and the Official Reports. Votes and Proceedings dated Tues- day, 3rd October, 2017. Page 1… 5 --
Mr Speaker, I can see that my name has been omitted from those who were present yesterday. It should have been somewhere on page 4 of the Order Paper. So, I want to draw attention of the Clerk to that.
Thank you. Page 6… 11 --
Mr Speaker, one of my Colleagues, Hon Sophia Kareb Ackuaku was present in the House yesterday, but she has been marked absent. If the Table Office could take note of that. Thank you.
Thank you. Page 12… 16 --
Mr Speaker, just two observations. I have had discussions with the Clerks-at-the-Table in respect of page 9, item numbered 7 on the Order Paper on absence of the President from the country. Mr Speaker, you read more than one Communication from the Presidency with respect to the President's absence from the country and the Vice President assuming the functions of the President. Unfortunately, it is only one that has been captured here. I just spoke to the Table Office that they should capture the entirety of what you read to us, just for the records. Mr Speaker, on page 11, item numbered 11(c), by the Majority Leader and Minister for Parliamentary Affairs -- Yesterday, I spent some time to speak to this that when I do this, I do it in my capacity as the Majority Leader and not as the Minister for Parliamentary Affairs. Mr Speaker, that distinction is clear and it is important. Otherwise, it would appear as if we want to put all these institutions in the armpit of the Executive. They are supposed to be independent.
Mr Speaker, is he now separable or inseparable Kyei- Mensah-Bonsu, Osei -- Majority Leader and Minister for Parliamentary Affairs? Why is he labouring to -- he wants a scissors to cut and distinguish between him being Majority Leader and Minister for Parliamentary Affairs. If he wants to be the Majority Leader, he should be. If he is a Minister, he is subject than an extension of the Government. Why does he want to keep troubling us with making a distinction? He is Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu Osei, Majority Leader, Leader of Government Business and Minister for Parliamentary Affairs. That is what we know and that is who he is to this House.
Mr Speaker, if the Hon Minority Leader is struggling to understand this, I shudder to think of what others might be going through. When we make laws, and for example, they relate to finance, we would refer to a particular provision and indicate that, in that case, it is the Minister for Finance -- We might one day have a Minister for Finance who might incorporate in his office, education. However, in that particular instance, we are referring to the Minister for Finance. It is that distinction that I want to draw and I thought that the Hon Minority Leader would not have any difficulty appreciating the point I made. Now that I have witnessed his struggles, I pray for others to understand the point that I have made. Thank you very much.
Thank you. Page 16, page 17. Hon Members, theVotes and Proceedings of Tuesday, 3rd October, 2017, as corrected are hereby adopted. Hon Members, item numbered 3 on the Order Paper -- Urgent Question -- it stands in the name of the Hon Member for Talensi to the Minister for Youth and Sports.
ORAL ANSWERS TO URGENT
MINISTRY OF YOUTH AND SPORTS
Mr Speaker, the Commonwealth Youth Games was held from 18th to 23rd July, 2017. Ghana was represented by nine athletes and one team doctor, three coaches and a leader of the delegation. This allowed Ghana to maintain her reputation as an active participant in the Commonwealth Games. Mr Speaker, the arrival and settling into the Games Village was on time and flawless as the Chef de Mission went ahead of the team to arrange these. Mr Speaker, the team participated in the opening ceremony on the 18th of July, 2017. I am proud to say that the Beach Volleyball team played and won their first match on the evening of the opening ceremony. Mr Speaker, this attests to the fact that Ghana's contingent arrived in Bahamas on our scheduled date and time, before the commencement of the Commonwealth Youth Games. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, I want further clarification whether the team departed from Ghana as a contingent or they went in batches?
Mr Speaker, the Question was whether they arrived on time. They got there before the commencement of the event. They were there before the event started on the 18thof July, 2017. [Interruption.]
The question is clear and it would be answered. Did they go from their various ends spread all over the world or as a group as against a contingent?
Mr Speaker, now, because of professionalism, some of the athletes are in other places. So, sometimes they decide to all arrive on a particular date and time. The key point is that, they all arrived before the commencement of the Games. That was why on the day of opening, we participated and even won. That was why I cited that example. On that very day, our Volleyball team participated and won. Mr Speaker, they were there before the commencement of the Games and that is the key point. Thank you.
Mr Speaker, I would like to further ask the Hon Minister whether he was aware that the first batch of three athletes and one official left this country on Saturday, 15th July?
Mr Speaker, I am not aware.
Mr Speaker, I would also like to know how much it cost the taxpayer to send that contingent to the Common- wealth Games and whether there was a subsidy from the Commonwealth Games Federation?
Mr Speaker, even before I could intervene, I heard from the plenary the word “relevance?” That was the chorus I heard. I believe the Hon Member is introducing a new matter unrelated to the Question that he asked and that would be in breach of our Standing Orders. For this reason, I would invite you to rule that Question out of order.
Hon Majority Leader, this is a matter of cost and an Hon Member of the House of accountability wants to know how much something cost the people of Ghana. If the Hon Minister has not got the answer now, we might want to know that and we could pursue it later. Actually, it is an askable question.
Mr Speaker, I believe the issue that my Hon Colleague raised is very important to this House, except that our rules are clear on this.
“As soon as a Question is answered in the House any Member be- ginning with the Member who asked the Question may, without notice, ask a supplementary Question
“To ask the Minister for Youth and Sports whether the Ghanaian contingent to the Commonwealth Youth Games arrived in the Bahamas on the scheduled date and time for the commencement of the games”.
Hon Members, Order!
Hon Okudjeto Ablakwa?
Mr Speaker, the Hon Majority Leader suggested that the supplementary question which our Hon Colleague asked is not related to the original Question. We are very surprised about this line of argument. [Interruption.] Mr Speaker, the original Question had to do with a contingent travelling to the Commonwealth Youth Games. How do contingents travel? Issues to do with cost, time and how they arrived are all relevant. This is a House of debate and we should not seek to gag and place impediments on the way of Hon Members. It is as though we have something to hide. We should not use technicalities to gag Hon Members in this House. Mr Speaker, we plead with you that as you have directed that the Hon Minister responds to this question, please, be firm and let the debate flow. This attempt by the Hon Majority Leader to place impediments on the way of Hon Members should not be entertained.
Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, ordinarily, I should not add to what I have said. The rules are crystal clear. If the Hon Member heard, you have not ruled --
Hon Majority Leader, please, go on.
Mr Speaker, I am speaking to the rules of this House. This House is guided by our own rules of procedure and the rules are crystal clear. Hon Ablakwa cannot say that I am evoking technicalities to gag Hon Members, except that he would not want to conform to our rules.
“As soon as a Question is answered in the House any Member beginning with the Member who asked the Question may, without notice, ask a supplementary Ques- tion for the further elucidation of any matter of fact regarding which the answer has been given, but a supplementary Question must not be used to introduce matter not included in the Original Question”. Mr Speaker, the original Question was not about a contingent that travelled there and the cost implication and so on and so forth.
Hon Majority Leader, I would do that in a moment.
Hon Deputy Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I believe that what the Hon Majority Leader is doing is an attempt to gag you in applying the rules of the House. Mr Speaker, I know you have been an Hon Member of Parliament for two terms and you have mastered the rules of this House. I know that the rules of the House should be left to you to interpret and apply. Mr Speaker, you have the power to decide whether the Hon Minister can answer that supplementary question or not and that is something that lies in your hands as the Hon Speaker of the House who directs the affairs of this House. Mr Speaker, please, ignore what the Hon Majority Leader has said, use your position as the Hon Speaker and use the rules and direct the Hon Minister to either answer the supplementary Question or not.
Thank you very much. Hon Members, I have read that a Speaker in the House of Commons, in ruling on what is related to an original Question, referred to a very well known House of Lords case; the “Wagon Mound Case”. And lawyers often have this issue in court in the area of torts whether a thing is related or flows from another. The ruling was simple and clear. The subsequent question must be reasonably proximate to the original Question. In this instance, I find the supple- mentary question reasonably proximate [Hear! Hear!] to the original Question. The time of arriving at the place, the time tickets are booked and such matters that relate to time and to where a journey is started from can all be matters of interest with regard to the cost that the public would have to pay and all other related matters. In the circumstance, it is proximate enough for the Hon Minister for Youth and Sports to give an answer to that question.
Mr Speaker, I did not initially construe the financial implication of this Question. But since you have directed, and of course, in deference to you, I would plead that I come any time to read the financial aspect to the House. I will do so any time I am called.
Would you need details?
Mr Speaker, yes. I will need details to answer the question. I will be here to do so any time I am called.
Mr Speaker, I am very grateful. Mr Speaker, since the Hon Minister has indicated that he would be happy to come back, would he give an indication when he would collect all the details and come back to report to the House and also indicate to the House whether or not people went to the Games way after the Games had started.
Have a question filed with regard to what the Hon Minister has said and give him notice as it is normally done. Check with the Table Office and the Hon Minister would come to the House. It is not for you to start fixing a date with him over there.
Mr Speaker, can the Hon Minister tell this House whether the cycling team also arrived at the Games at the said scheduled date?
Mr Speaker, yes. They went in good time to participate. So, they arrived before the commencement of the Games. Maj. Derek Oduro (retd): Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister in his answer said that, the Ghanaian contingents arrived in Bahamas on time. Mr Speaker, I would want to find out whether the timely arrival of the contingents in Bahamas created any problem at all?
Mr Speaker, it enhanced our participation.
Mr Speaker, I believe the Hon Minister is aware of the entire contingents that left for the Commonwealth Games. Can he tell us in detail, the various teams that formed the Ghanaian contingents and whether all of them were at the opening ceremony?
Mr Speaker, the contingents participated in the following games: Judo, Tennis, Athletics, Beach Volley, Swimming, and Boxing.
Mr Speaker, I would like to know from the Hon Minister for Youth and Sports how many medals our contingents won.
Mr Speaker, the athletes indeed impressed the world. They did well but came with no medal — [Laughter.]
Hon Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa would ask the last question.
Mr Speaker, I would want to ask if the Hon Minister for Youth and Sports can tell us specifically, the medal count for Ghana. How many medals did Ghana win?
Mr Speaker, I thought I had already answered that question. Indeed, we participated and they did well, but unfortunately, we could not win any medal — [Laughter.]
Any question from Leadership? Hon Minister, thank you very much for attending to the House this aftermoon and answering our Questions. Hon Members, item numbered 4 on the Order Paper — Statements. Hon Members, I have a Statement by the Hon Minister for Works and Housing on the occasion of World Habitat Day.
Mr Speaker, my understanding is that the Hon Minister is on his way. So, I believe we can enter into other areas and transact — [Pause.] Mr Speaker, we could deal with those other Papers that are required to be presented in the House.
Hon Majority Leader, item 5(a) therefore is not ready?
Mr Speaker, item 5(a) I am told is to be considered tomorrow. So, we can now go to item 5(b) on the Order Paper.
Item 5(b) (i)
Item numbered 6 -- Motion. Hon Chairman of the Committee? [Interruption.] Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, item numbered 6 is a sequel to item numbered 5(a), which we have just skipped. So, item numbered 6 on the Order Paper cannot be taken and conse- quentially, items numbered 7 and 8. So, we would go to item numbered 9.
Hon Chairman of the Committee, you may move the Motion numbered 9 on the Order Paper . [Interruption.] Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I note that when it came to the presentation of Papers, in respect of the Report of the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs on the Marrakesh Treaty to facilitate a Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired or Otherwise Print Disabled (2013), it was deferred. Sequel to it was a Motion that has also been deferred. It is important that the Hon Chairman of the Committee and his Members are directed by your goodself to attach every importance and urgency to this matter in order that Parliament can get the Treaty accordingly ratified. It is not enough to just say that the Report is not ready and that is it. When will the Report be ready so that we can satisfy this special needs of constituency blind and impaired persons? I see the Hon Chairman of the Committee here. Hon Colleague, Mr Ben Banda, the blind people want a ratification on the Marrakesh Treaty. We cannot keep asking Mr Speaker to defer because we are not ready. When would we be ready? I believe that the Hon Majority Leader must get them to get this going. I thank you, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, the Committee was stuffed with a major referral, which explains why they could not find space after their meeting at Koforidua to transact Business on that. They are sure to deal with it tomorrow, having written their Report now. So, hopefully, Friday, we would deal with it.
Hon Majority Leader, are we in a position to proceed on item numbered 9 on the Order Paper?
Mr Speaker, the Hon Chairman of the Committee on Food, Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs is here. So, he can speak on whether item numbered 9 is ready. If it is not ready, then we would reconsider what to do.
Hon Chairman of the Committee?
Mr Speaker, the Report is not yet ready. [Interruptions.]
Hon Chairman of the Committee, can you give us any indication? “Not yet ready” is not enough for this Honourable House. Can you give us an indication?
Mr Speaker, I will consult the Hon Minister for Agriculture, and he will be in a position to give me the exact date and time when it would be ready -- [Laughter.] I hope that by next week when we meet it may be ready.
Hon Member, please, hold on.
Mr Speaker, I believe what the Hon Member wants to communicate on this is that, there should be an engagement between the Committee and the Ministry. This is because it relates to establishing procedures for the entire community. It should relate to the Ministry to know what kind of mechanisms they have established by way of cooperation and collaboration. The Committee cannot assume what has been done or is intended to be done, which is the reason he said that he would want to engage the Hon Minister.
Mr Speaker, thanks for your guidance and for urging the Hon Chairman of the Committee and his members to be seen working diligently. If they were not ready, why did they get into it? So, this rescue is a difficult mission he is undertaking. The Hon Chairman of the Committee should help the Hon Majority Leader and this House, and respect the Hon Speaker. He should give us an indication when we can have this, and then Parliament can take a decision on it.
Hon Majority Leader, can you give us an indication at this juncture?
Mr Speaker, the Hon Chairman of the Committee has indicated to us that the Committee would be in a position to do this sometime next week. This is just to remind the Hon Minority Leader that, having these programmes did not come from me. He was quick yesterday to remind us that, declaring the House adjourned and providing further and better particulars does not lie in my mouth, but with Mr Speaker. Getting these programmes does not lie entirely on my shoulders. It rests on the shoulders of the Business Committee of which he is a key member. So, for him to ask the reason we got it programmed when we knew that they were not ready -- If it is a deficit in our work, it is a deficit in the work of the Business Committee. Maybe, the Business Committee was misled into doing this with the assurance that it was ready at the time. We assumed that it would be ready. Mr Speaker, from the Hon Chairman of the Committee, I guess -- We can only urge him that next week he should have it programmed and deliver on his promise -- and he is not listening to us.
Hon Members, we shall revert to item numbered 4 on the Order Paper for the Hon Minister for Works and Housing to make his Statement on World Habitat Day.
Mr Speaker, the second day of October 2017 was World Habitat Day, the observance of which has been an international event since 1985. The Ministry of Works and Housing is particularly happy to be the host of this important occasion, and the theme is; “Housing Policies: Affordable Homes”. This has been adopted by Ghana as the theme of the celebration. Mr Speaker, that every human being has an existential need for a home has biblical support. Please, permit me to quote Jesus in Luke 9:58: “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man I believe the Government of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) is in divine alignment, which is why we have the sacred duty of wiping out the over 1.7 million housing units as has been expressed at page 84 of our Manifesto.
“NPP's vision is to use an appropriate mix of public policy and public-private investments to deliver quality, affordable social housing and private housing solutions that meet the needs and financial capacity of the ordinary Ghanaian.” The Day was instituted to reflect on the state of human settlements and the basic right to adequate shelter for all. It is also intended to remind the world of its collective responsibility for the future of the human habitat. This year 's World Habitat Day celebration is significant because it is taking place during a period of great potential for housing development. It is, therefore, appropriate for us to take stock of our accomplishments and challenges in areas of policy implementation as well as our human settlements and access to adequate housing. To ensure that this vision is properly understood by all and effectively implemented, we need to urgently address the crucial aspects of housing affor- dability. Today, the city has become a magnet of hope, as this is where everyone expects to find the beating heart of trade, industry, and construction and its spin-off such as jobs; both menial and skilled. The increasing population growth and rapid urbanisation have contributed to the shortage of adequate affordable housing in many of our capital cities. As a Government, we are committed to achieving our targets encompassed in the Sustainable Development Goals and the New Urban Agenda. This year's celebrations are quite special as they coincide with the first anniversary of the New Urban Agenda adopted in Habitat III in Quito, Ecuador. The New Urban Agenda enshrines a new vision of urbanisation as an indispensable engine for development and a prerequisite for prosperity and growth. The Government is determined to address the housing deficit through partnerships with the private sector in the provision of affordable housing units of different typologies to meet the demands of Ghanaians.
The Hon First Deputy Speaker would take the Chair.
The Ministry of Works and Housing is implementing the Affordable Housing Programme aimed at providing adequate, decent, affordable housing, particularly to the low and middle-income groups. Recognising low income levels as a challenge on the demand side of housing in Ghana, our focus therefore is how to make housing affordable. To achieve this goal, we are adopting cost-saving technologies and new techniques of construction as well as innovative mortgage financing. The generally acceptable view prevailing is that since the majority of the population is within the lower income group of society, who cannot mobilise the savings or credit to build their own homes
or even meet the high rentals demanded in our towns and cities, it is our expectation that the private sector will partner Government to deliver this basic necessity of life; housing. It is generally accepted that govern- ment alone cannot overcome the problem, especially in the face of the increasing population growth. Much attention has been given to reviewing the housing situation, and how to provide viable and sustainable solutions to ensure that ordinary Ghanaians are adequately housed. One of the major bottlenecks facing housing delivery in Ghana is financing. Government is, therefore, adopting a two- pronged approach to mobilising funds, both domestically and internationally, to support the sector. In an attempt to provide a boost in the housing industry, government will put in place some regulatory framework and adopt a number of policies whose overall objectives would be to create an enabling and thriving environment for the private sector to play a leading role in the delivery of housing. The New Patriotic Party Government is undertaking a number of policy reforms and initiatives to ensure sustainable development of the construction industry. To achieve this, the Ministry launched the National Housing Policy in March last year. The Policy seeks to: a. improve access to land with good title for housing b. outline strategies for increased production and usage of local building materials c. establish a National Housing Fund d. establish a National Housing Authority. The draft Ghana Building Code, which was put together by the Building and Road Research Institute (BRRI) in 1988 has been reviewed by the Ministry and its stakeholder, and is ready for adoption. The Ministry is in the process of amending the Building Regulations L.I. 1630 of 1996 to reflect the revised Building Code. “The building everywhere and anyhow” mentality cannot continue with the passage and enforcement of the law we pray this august House will make. Mr Speaker, in view of the increasing demand for the development of high rise buildings and its implications for shared ownership of common areas and also to maximise limited land space, the Ministry is seeking Cabinet approval before a final Bill on the condominium properties is drafted by the Attorney-General's Department. On real estate agency practice, a draft policy Paper is ready for the approval of Cabinet, and the establishment of a real estate agency, to regulate real estate agency practice, commercial transactions in real estate including the sale, purchase, rental and leasing of real estate end- related fixed assets and to provide for connected purposes. I must say that this was engineered by the National Democratic Congress (NDC), and we believe with a few adjustments, t would be good for the nation. We would put it before this august House. As part of Government's effort to curb the rampant encroachment and illegal acquisition of its landed properties, the
[MR FIRST DEPUTY SPEAKER IN THE CHAIR.]
Hon Member for Wa Central?
Hon Member for Nsawam-Adoagyiri?
Mr Speaker, thank you for your kindness. Mr Speaker, I am surely on my feet to support my respected Hon Minister for the good Statement that he just read. I could not have agreed more with him and particularly the Hon Member who just spoke that the Statement is important and the vision is good enough, but action is of prime importance. However, I must emphasise that - as the Chinese have a saying that the journey of a thousand miles begins with a footstep; definitely, it is admirable. This is my second- to-be term in Parliament, and I stand corrected. This is the first time that I have heard an Hon Minister for Works and Housing make such audacious Statements to show the way and make suggestion in terms of our housing deficit. It is admirable and I doff my hat--
Hon Member, what was the adjective you used? I believe that it is inappropriate, so, you may want to change that adjective and use another word.
Mr Speaker, I take a cue and with the greatest of respect, I amend according -- “such commendable moves.” Mr Speaker, now, it is a Statement of fact. More often than not, we have paid lip-service to our housing deficit. One of the key variables that is important to me, which we should begin to rear our heads to as a nation is affordability. The cost component of housing -- one of the critical variables, as we all know, is the material cost of the houses that are put up for Ghanaians to patronise. Reasonably, the first frontal efforts or actions that we have to take is to ensure that the cost of the materials that are used in putting up these houses are reduced drastically. The Executive has a role to play, and I believe that, that role is not beyond them and they would be able to do it. Mr Speaker, borrowing into other jurisdictions, in the United Kingdom (UK), for instance, we have council flats that are so affordable for the citizens of this country to patronise. We may have to look at that model as well and ensure that the concern for affordability is not lost on us. Mr Speaker, housing needs may also have to be appreciated as a direct principle of State policy. We have to do away with the situation where governments begin various projects, then successive governments come and it becomes an issue of whether to continue or not. I would not want to remind the House of what happened to former President Kufuor's housing policy moves and actions. Today, we are beginning to think about how to continue these housing projects which were begun by former President Kufuor's Administration. Mr Speaker, that is not good enough. We need to depoliticise our housing needs; stay away from the politics and ensure that that becomes a direct principle of State policy to be respected as such for our count or not. Mr Speaker, again, there are concerns about housing deficits, but we also need to be careful in our determined bid to put up houses. Otherwise, we would build houses anyhow and land would become an issue, and our agricultural needs and concerns also would become an issue. So, in our bid to address and arrest our housing deficit, we should be guided by our agricultural needs. Estate developers need to be guided accordingly, and I am happy the Hon Minister rightly captured the concern about amending relevant legislations to ensure that, it reflects the current needs that we have on the ground.
Hon Member for Ho West?
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity and I also thank the Hon Minister for Works and Housing for the Statement. Mr Speaker, every year, we come to this House to make Statements concerning World Habitat Day. It is rightly so, and this year's theme is christened, “Housing Policy: Affordable Homes”. Mr Speaker, the theme resonates in Ghana because of the affordability of houses needed by Ghanaians. The Hon Minister alluded to the fact that a 1.7 million housing deficit is what we are grappling with in the country. Maslow's hierarchical theory of needs put housing or safety as one of the basic needs of humanity, and it has found its expression in article 18 of our Constitution, which says we should allow citizens to have property. It means that, every human being needs to have a place of rest; a place where one could call a home either his or her own, or rented. Mr Speaker, it is true that affordability depends on one key variable, which is the cost. If we break down the cost of housing, we would notice that, we have the material element, the labour and plant element, the overhead, and the cost of capital element, which constitute the cost of housing, including the land, site and services. Mr Speaker, in fact, not everybody in this country could own a house but everybody could rent a house. However, when the cost of these variables, which are the material cost, labour cost and overhead and cost of capital reduces, a lot of people could either rent or own their houses. Unfortunately, it is not so. This year's theme is calling for affordable houses, and what is the way forward? Mr Speaker, the Committee on Works and Housing visited the State Housing Corporation some few weeks ago to abreast ourselves with what is going on there. We noticed that, State Housing Corporation has put up houses; a two- bedroom house costs close to about GH¢300,000.00. How many people can afford GH¢300,000.00? Therefore, those houses are still lying at Adentan now; people are not owning them. What could we do? State Housing is established for social housing. From this, what could we do as a people to ensure that our people can afford those houses? I have few suggestions. Firstly, we have the new technology in the housing delivery. A hydraform material could be used. We could use our earth material, compress it to a certain degree and that could be used in the construction of affordable houses. Mr Speaker, the Building and Road Research Institute of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) has come out with a lot of materials that we could use. Are we promoting those materials that could be called the affordable houses? Are we promoting the use of those materials for the affordable houses?
Hon Member, help me here. You are a building contractor. Have you ever bid in any project, proposing to use any of those earth compressed materials, and how was the difference in costing?
Mr Speaker, if we use hydraform materials, we would cut down close to about 60 per cent of the cost. This is because, it is just an earth material. It is compressed with a mould and it comes out. It is interlocked. We do not need mortar. The only thing needed is the roofing, and it is so cheap. Some of us have adopted it for a factory, and it is working for us. I do not see why we cannot promote hydraform materials. Mr Speaker, there are other materials as well that we call “housing system”, which could be interlocked. There are other materials which are cheaper that we could use, but Ghanaians are used to brick and mortar. We are used to block and cement. We are no longer interested in any material that would bring down the cost. These are few suggestions that I would want to bring on board. Mr Speaker, I would also want to urge the Ministry to support the Department of Rural Housing Industry. The Department is also set up to take care of affordable housing. If this Department is being resourced; given all the support that it deserves, I believe that we would get the affordable housing that we are looking for. Remember, in this House, about two or three years ago, we approved a loan that has put up housing close to about a thousand at Saglemi near Ningo. The houses are there, but they are not affordable. We are building houses, but those houses are not affordable. Today, we are talking about affordable housing that everyone could walk in and either rent or build. Mr Speaker, the Ministry has a lot to do in this direction, and I would want to urge the Hon Minister to come out with a pragmatic position on how all of us, including those who are not in the middle income bracket, could afford these housing units. I thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity.
Hon Minister, I would want you to take note of the suggestion on the use of hydraform materials, which the last Hon Member suggested would reduce the cost of housing by 60 per cent. I would want to hear you on that after other Hon Members have contributed. Yes, Hon Agbodza? -- Hold on, I have now seen an Hon Member from the Majority side. Yes, Hon Member for La Dade Kotopon?
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity. Mr Speaker, I rise to contribute to the Statement made by the Hon Minister for Works and Housing. Mr Speaker, before we can properly assess and make comments on the issue about affordable housing and the deficit in housing, I believe that we need to look at the profile of the deficit; the profile of the segment of the market where the deficit is. When we do that, it would reveal the failure of all the various components in the building ecosystem that will lead to the provision of what we term as affordable housing. Mr Speaker, as we speak, when you come to my constituency, there are a lot of upper ends of buildings of markets which are vacant; they are not being rented. The same applies to the very lower ends of the market. You go to certain communities, and there are rooms or buildings which are not desirable, because they do not have basic facilities. Mr Speaker, this leads to the strategy that has been adopted to try to solve this problem. What type of buildings are we directing resources to provide? Are the buildings addressing the issues of the majority of the people who need houses or just the top end of the few? Mr Speaker, when we look at land, finance, we can even look at enforcement of building regulations, the judicial system and law enforcement, we would realise that all the various stakeholders who are supposed to ensure that buildings are made available to ensure that those with little finance or those who do not have the huge moneys to pay upfront can rent houses; all these various components of our building ecosystem are not working properly to provide the synergy to ensure that we provide solution to this housing problem. Mr Speaker, the Hon Member spoke of appropriate technology. If we do not deploy appropriate technology and we continue to provide the kind of buildings which do not lead to the reduction of cost, we would continue to have deficits. Mr Speaker, we need a cultural change. When you come to my constituency, behind the Ghana International Trade Fair Centre, there is an area called Tse Addo, which is waterlogged. Instead of using the appropriate technology of baked bricks to build, we are still using sandcrete blocks which lead to flooding and water crippling up. Mr Speaker, we need to take a holistic view of the whole ecosystem of the building industry: technology, strategy, enforcement of the building regulations at the District Assembly level, how the judiciary adjudicates issues regarding land, how long it takes and how the police tackles issues concerning land. Mr Speaker, I believe that if we are able to look at all these various components, and ensure that each of them is complementing each other, and we then come up with policies which will make sure that we apply them optimally, there will be a synergy regarding all these things. We will also be able to address the issue of deficit. Mr Speaker, before I take my seat, I thank God that the Asempa Budget, which came out this year is addressing the basic fundamentals of interest rate, which affects the mortgage market and cost of building. I am sure that when we put up all these components together and with a very good economy where the fundamentals are pointing in the right direction, we can solve this problem. Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, for this opportunity.
I will give the last one to Hon Agbodza.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to contribute to the Statement ably made by the Hon Minister for Works and Housing this afternoon. Mr Speaker, this Statement was made in recognition of World Habitat Day, 2017. A house is a product, so, its delivery and disposal depends on demand and supply. So, depending on how many people want the product will determine how much manufacturers or producers bring on to the market. Mr Speaker, at this rate, we can forget about mentioning the 1.7 million houses. I have not seen anything in this country that tells me that we have the capability of building 100,000 houses a year. In fact, nothing exists to that effect. The problem is partly the case of politics, where every government thinks that they would want to do something to show to the people. So, you can see each government that has managed to rule this country builds a small number of houses somewhere that they can point to and everybody keeps talking about it. Mr Speaker, there is a fundamental problem. The policy that the Hon Minister talked about -- Mr Speaker, so far as I am aware, I am the only architect in this Parliament. I have had calls from members of my professional organisation who are not aware of whether a housing policy exists in this country or not. I think we should pause a bit and not attempt to say that we have a housing policy, which is not fit for the purpose. Let us go back and engage all the stakeholders in the building environment. These may include the engineers, architects, planners, people in finance and insurance and others, so that whatever we come up with can inform us about whether we can deal with our housing problems in this country. Mr Speaker, my Hon Colleague said that the State Housing Company exists as a government entity. You would think that the cheapest houses in this country would come from them. But even private people build three-bedroom houses, they are cheaper than those of the State Housing Company (SHC). Who can tell me that there is a definition of affordable housing in this country? It is on paper. What is affordable? A US$1 million house is affordable to somebody, yet a US$50,000 house is not affordable to another person. So, when we say we are building affordable houses, what are we talking about? There is no definition; it is a nebulous definition. We talk about the issue of having affordable houses, but when we go to Saglemi or we go to the place the Hon Member for Nsawam-Adoagyiri talked about, none of them will be affordable. This is because the fundamentals are wrong. The land value, the cost of building and the cost of capital are way beyond being affordable. One thing surprises me. As a country, when we take the Ministry of Finance, there are Ministers there. Each of the people who mans the Ministry knows something about finance and accounting. When it comes to the critical issue of housing, anybody can go to the Ministry and we think that it is normal. Mr Speaker, I believe that any government that would want to tackle this, should at the same time that we have all these people at the Ministry, there is
Hon Member, you are a construction person -- an architect and an active practitioner. You are actually supervising the Bekwai Hospital, and I know that for a fact. Now, your other Hon Colleague contractor has offered suggestions -- [Interruption] -- All right, you are not the contractor, but a quantity surveyor, but you take contracts and quantify projects -- I know that one. I was with you in Tamale and saw what you did. I would, therefore, want to hear suggestions like he gave, that we should perhaps use this or that material. You have continued to lament like everybody else, but you are supposed to offer sug- gestions. I would want to hear suggestions at the tail end of your contribution.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, that is why I say that some of the things are a bit technical, and that was why I called for a deeper dialogue with the operators in the building industry why I gave the example that if one is a developer and tells somebody that he would want 200 units of a house and would want each to cost only GH¢ 50.000, it would then be up to the people who are up to the job to deliver to him that house at GH¢ 50,000. It then becomes a competition, but it is the reverse. Mr Speaker, in this country, somebody could say that he wants a house and so goes to the bank to borrow as much as he can. He then goes to the architect to design a house for him, which should not be so, because he knows what his income is. So, he could tell the architect that he can only give away 30 or 40 per cent of his income so he would want to know whether the architect could give him a house to reflect that. Then they could take it from there. Mr Speaker, secondly, we noticed that when one talks about a six-unit classroom block, why should the same method of constructing a six-unit classroom in Bole be the same at East Legon? Do we not have variance in terms of materials that exist at Bole, whose maintenance would be cheaper?
I would recognise the Second Deputy Speaker before I come to Leadership.
Mr Speaker, I should thank you for the opportunity to contribute to the Statement ably made by the Hon Minister for Works and Housing, Hon Atta Akyea, on the occasion of World Habitat Day which is the first Monday in October declared by the UN in 1985 to afford all of us an opportunity to reflect on the state of our towns and cities. Mr Speaker, let me just highlight a quote in the first paragraph of his Statement -- “Housing Policies: Affordable Homes” which is the theme for 2017. Mr Speaker, I would want to join you and other Hon Colleagues to commend and wish him well. I am sure, Mr Speaker, if you were to ask the ordinary Ghanaian what the daily headache is, including workers even in Parliament, they would tell you access to shelter and a good home. If you were to ask the ordinary person, Mr Speaker, what their primary concern would be, it would be to tell Parliament and perhaps to the Executive and more politely to the Hon Minister, which I hope he would accept in good faith, that let us end the rhetoric. All of us should end the rhetoric. Successive governments in this country from Independence up till yesterday, have not honoured the ordinary Ghanaian in terms of his right to shelter. We should accept it as a fact and move on and make progress. I saw the Hon Minister quote and Mr Speaker, with your permission and in order that I contribute meaningfully, let me quote him from page 4 of his Statement. He says, “mobilising funds both domestically and internationally”. Why do they want to depend on international funds? It can only be borrowing. But domestically, how would you do it? Because no State will give you resources to come and put up houses. No State would do that because other States have the same primary challenges that they have not been able to resolve. So, I can only agree with the Hon Minister that we must rethink financing of the housing which he has captured somewhere in his Statement, when he says “innovative ways of financing housing”. What are his propositions? Hon Minister, we would be happy to know your propositions. I will end with some recommendations; with my little experience in that particular sector with my travels. Mr Speaker, if you go further to the Hon Minister's Statement, he emphasises on the NPP's manifesto -- the winning manifesto. The NPP won, so, beyond winning -- he says and I quote with your permission: “improve access to land with good title for housing.” He should tell us how they intend to improve title to land, then, we would know that we are taking action and not rhetoric. How would they improve it? Unfortunately for them, the constitu- tional architecture on land may not support their innovative thinking because land is vested in stools and skins which sometimes, unless we exercise the right of compulsory acquisition under article 20, we would have a difficulty because the lands are not our possession as a State and as a government. Even where we acquire the lands, Mr Speaker, I am sorry to say that, we have been deceptive to some chiefs and some communities in terms of the usage of the lands. They do not get value and when it came to the opportunity to return the land to them, we did not do that. Yet we would want to engage them as stakeholders in order to be able to have access to land. So, probably, Mr Speaker, while we rethink financing, we have to rethink this particular position on land ownership. Unfortunately, we are bequeathed with the 1992 Constitution which reflected on our values and cultures and then has a position on this particular issue. They would want to establish a National Housing Fund. This House would be happy to know when they are coming here with a Bill on the Housing Fund. 2. 25 p. m. Mr Speaker, I hope it does not come with one of the Funds which remains dependent on the Consolidated Fund. And they would come here to say they have created a Housing Fund, and when we ask them of the sources of financing, they would say moneys approved by the Ministry of Finance or donations and gifts. They should come with an innovative policy; how they intend to improve on housing. Mr Speaker, all of us Hon Members of Parliament -- I am sure in our daily activities, as we meet constituents and electorates, particularly in the Greater Accra Region (they would ask us to help them pay their rent), Hon mepa wo kyew, me rent asa. To wit, Hon, please, my rent has expired. Mr Speaker, what is even more worrying is for them to go an extra mile to tell us that, na wose mentua two years. That is the bane of this country. That is the reason I say, let us end the rhetoric. What are we doing? We are referencing a review of the Rent Act. What are we doing with the current rent legislation? We have failed ordinary Ghanaians again. None of us have lived up to this. There is a Rent Act which controls it. How many of us here are not even property owners who rent for two, three and five years, and we would want to be deceptive to the ordinary Ghanaians that we would want to help them. No! Mr Speaker, we must respond to this housing challenge. That is the reason the
Hon Minister can be assured of our support. Even Parliament, if we ask him how much budgetary allocation he had for housing, you would be sad. I dare challenge each Hon Member of Parliament to one day decide that they would want to see where a policeman or soldier sleeps, then we would understand the state of housing in this country. As I drive through the Tamale Airport, my heart bleeds. There is abundance of land for the Ministry of Defence and the Military, but go to their cubicles and you would understand how urgent it is for us as a country to be responding and supporting him. Has he been able to provide accommodation for Hon Ministers? -- [Interruptions] -- If he does, I will remind him of one in front of him. Some do not have office accommodation. [Laughter.] Mr Speaker, it means that we must deal -- That reminds me of a point our Hon Colleague, Hon Annoh-Dompreh, made. He has been in government before. He should not behave like he came yesterday. They ruled for eight years and could not resolve all the housing problems. Do you want me to quote the Hon Minister? The Minister said he wants to deal with 1.7 million -- Mr Speaker, I enjoyed this quote. So since I am reminded, I will quote the Hon Minister. I believe the Government of the New Patriotic Party is in divine alignment. It can only be divine -- [Laughter] -- That is why we have the sacred duty and I support the Hon Minister on that. It is sacred that he needs our support. But beyond prayers and divine, he needs to find the money. He goes further wiping out the over one million housing units. The Hon Minister has an enormous challenge and task and he must be helped. We would help except that there are national constraints. I like your frankness. I admire it but we need to do more about housing. Mr Speaker, I conclude with the comment of the Hon Annoh-Dompreh. Again, Hon Minister, let us be sincere to the Ghanaian private sector. I used to be the Minister for Trade and Industry supervising the private sector. When the Ministry awards contracts and it decides that they will supply cement and iron rods, are they really partnering with the private sector of Ghana? Mr Speaker, I said I will not reduce myself to petty partisan politics when it comes to housing. If I wanted to score cheap political points, I would give dates and times. But I am saying that the Hon Minister has the facts. It is wrong and I am saying it is wrong, because I am making fundamental comments, it is the Government of Ghana which is weakening and destroying the private sector of this country. When contractors go and borrow money to desilt our gutters, it takes one to two years to pay them. Do they think that can be a potent private sector? No! All the money is absorbed as interest and bank charges. So, Mr Speaker, I think the Hon Minister has drawn our attention, which is expected of him to do. As we observe World Habitat Day today, I say on behalf of ordinary Ghanaians, including the security agencies like the police and the soldiers, that they want to enjoy the decent housing and we must be seen acting. Mr Speaker, there is an erosion of public confidence even in our governance structures because of our inability to meet some of these basic needs. They do not have money for housing but they have money for other sectors. So, prioritisation. My senior Hon Colleague has dealt with the new framework of the Ministry in terms of heads having focus. So, when we say non-partisanship, those of you who want to be partisan, like the housing projects which were commenced, we have had Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) come in. Mr Speaker and the Hon Minister, you are encouraged. I had the rare privilege of being a supervising Minister for pensions. This country can make better use of pension money to finance housing and energy if we want to. With energy, the Norway experience is there. But Hon Minister for Works and Housing, you would need two visits. Mr Speaker, without showing — I wish that Rt Hon Prof. Mike Oquaye was in the Chair. He led us to Morocco and I am sure when we came back, I have related that the Hon Minister be encouraged to go to Morocco and Turkey for them to learn examples of how housing can change the circumstance of a people. When one is going on pension in Morocco, one has no headache, one knows where he or she would lay his or her head. Mr Speaker, all the workers sitting in front of you, their bale is not the poor salary, but the fact that they have to mortgage the salary for two years' rent. That is the challenge we are called to deal with; that every Ghanaian worker — so it would be a certain relief if we provide housing. Therefore we support them that financing and prioritisation of housing must be seen as a critical, social and urgent national need, not the rhetoric that I would mobilise money domestically. Where? Where are they going to mobilise it? Unless they want to come with new taxes. The President is in Wa now, saying that he met empty coffers yet he is running a Government. No new taxes, he has got something. So they should come with something. Mr Speaker, in concluding, I think I would want to commend the Hon Minister and as the Hon Second Deputy Speaker said, the Ministry of Works and Housing has room, they should focus on it. There is a lot of good lands within Accra for the high rise buildings they spoke about — if I get the page, what the workers need is not much. If you build the high rise buildings around town, it could accommodate them. Mr Speaker, my concluding word, it affects productivity. When they wake up, they are worried about how to get to Ministries. Poor transport system, no housing regime and we say we want productivity. Where are we going to get it?
So, certainly, we must. Hon Minister, thank you for bringing this to our attention. But in summary, how does your Housing Policy reflect in affordable homes? And that is where Hon Agbodza ended. Affordable, whose affordability? When we build the house and say it is US$50,000 and believe it is for ordinary workers who earn GH¢1,000 to GH¢ 2, 000. No! So, Hon Minister, let your focus be on social housing and then long-term; give the workers space so that, if they have to spend five years or ten years — Mr Speaker, indeed, in my last days as Minister for Employment and Labour Relations, I engaged the Trades Union Congress (TUC) and asked them to allow us to use the Pension Fund -- they should give government some attention. They would have been the first beneficiaries because they take salaries which are consumed by rent. Mr Speaker, because of our failed practices -- SSNIT housing, what happened? It had been later on sold out. The SSNIT money is still there, except that Government is always in arrears. Mr Speaker, on that note, I am done.
Hon Deputy Majority Leader, would you like to make a comment?
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity. I would like to thank the Hon Minister for making this very important Statement on the floor of the House, regarding housing deficits and the challenges that we have faced as a nation since Independence, in trying to close the gap. Successive governments have made efforts to close the housing deficit, but year comes, year goes, and the gap keeps widening. Fortunately for us, the problem of housing deficit is now very clear and everybody in Ghana knows the challenges we face. You have to be in the shoes of some of us who had to move from far away to the city as new persons looking for accommodation. You can find it wherever you want it, but the affordability issue is still a critical matter. House owners and landlords are demanding two years or three years advance payment with high rates which are beyond one's means. The laws on rent are very clear, and enforceability is the issue we are faced with. So, we call on those who have homes to rent to look at the laws and do whatever they can to reduce rates as well as the number of years they want to give them out for rent. The issue of land litigation in Ghana affecting development is a key issue. More importantly, the Hon Minority Leader mentioned the land in the Northern Region for the Military being vast and available for use. However, finances are the issues keeping government from developing such facilities. We have also started housing projects across the country. In the Northern Region, former President Kufuor started one and it is still not complete. The immediate past President Mr John D. Mahama also started one which is also still not complete. There is now a new government in place with a plan to complete the existing ones and roll out new ones. We urge and encourage the Hon Minister to do whatever he can within his powers, to source funding within Ghana and outside Ghana and come out with new building plans that would lead to cost saving measures as far as cost control is concerned. This would enable us to complete the existing housing plans and roll out new ones, so that we would get more houses to support those in need of housing as Ghanaian workers and as people in the public or private sector. With these few words, I would like to commend and encourage the Hon Minister to do whatever he can to implement the good plans they have in the Ministry, so that the next time we talk about housing on this floor, the deficit would have reduced from 1.7 million to less than a million. Thank you very much for the opportunity.
Hon Minister, how affordable is affordable? We would want to hear that.
Mr Speaker, I think the sense of the House is right. When we mention the word “affordable”, it is not the same as “low cost”. This is because at the end of the day, if you have a man of taste like the Hon Minority Leader, he would want to have a very good house in Cantonments, provided always, his income level can pay for the house, then it is affordable. So, affordability is a factor of income. That is why we are of the view that, as has been said already, there is the necessity to leverage on the Pension Fund. When we leverage on the Pension Fund, there are several banks that could give moneys to the developers. The developers are ready to roll out the houses, provided there would be return on investments. When it is so done, we would have a credible mortgage arrangement. In this country, we do not have a credible mortgage arrangement. A credible mortgage arrangement is the one so clear that somebody could use 30 per cent of his income to own a house over a period of about 20 years.
Hon Minister, on your income, can you afford a US$50,000 house over 20 years?
Mr Speaker, on my income in this august House? [Laughter.]
Excluding private practice.
Excluding private practice, I would have to admit that on my level of income, I would not be able to afford it. What is important is that these are the reasons we would want to peg the rate of the mortgages and others by the government. This is because the Pension Fund is money that the government itself would give for these houses, and that is how we could make a good start. This is because if we look at our incomes, then for the rest
Hon Deputy Majority Leader, we are in your hands. What should we do?
Mr Speaker, I am sure we are in your good hands and the House may accordingly, at your pleasure, adjourn till tomorrow at 12.00 midday. Question put and Motion agreed to.
The House was accordingly adjourned at 2.46 p.m. till Thursday, 5th October, 2017 at 12.00 noon