VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS AND THE OFFICIAL REPORT
Hon Members, item numbered 2 -- Correction of Votes and Proceedings and the Official Report. Votes and Proceedings of Wednesday, 4th October, 2017. Pages 1… 10 --
Mr Speaker, I rise to draw your attention to paragraph 7 of page 10 of the Votes and Proceedings. The theme for the World Habitat Day is a global theme not a national one. So, please, let the “national” change to “global”. The UN Habitat website has the theme: “Housing Policies: Affordable Homes”. I am grateful, Mr Speaker.
Thank you very much. Pages 11…13. Hon Members, the Votes and Pro- ceedings of Wednesday, 4 th October, 2017, as corrected are hereby adopted as the true record of proceedings. Item numbered 3 on the Order Paper. We have an Urgent Question which stands
Mr Speaker, I have been in communication with the Minister responsible for Health and he indicated to me that, he was not given any specific day to come and answer the Question, but given the urgency of the Question, I have persuaded him to come tomorrow to answer the Question and he has agreed to come. This is because, now, he is in a meeting in the office. So that is the advice that I would give to the House.
Mr Speaker, I think that this Question was advertised when the Business Statement was read on Tuesday and we are surprised to hear that the Minister said that he should be rescheduled for tomorrow. I do not know why the Minister should be treating Hon Members that way pertaining to Questions that are asked -- the Question was scheduled to be answered today. It is an Urgent Question and even if the Minister would not come, he could have at least, sent one of his Deputies to come and answer the Question. Now we are here and Mr Speaker is not even aware. When the Minister was called, we heard that he said tomorrow. I think that the Hon Minister should take the work of the House seriously. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister takes the work of the House seriously. Mr Speaker, for the information of the Hon Deputy Minority Leader, even the Mr Speaker, the specific answer that I gave, and he read the communication to me, indicated that he would be communicated to as to the specific day he would be required to be in the House to answer the Question and he has not had any further communication other than what he had. He read the text to me. So, I was the one who said that because it is an Urgent Question, he should create space and come and answer the Question tomorrow and he agreed to that. I do not see why anybody can on the back of this, say that the Hon Minister is not treating the House seriously. In fact, yesterday he was in the Chamber and I thought that he had seen the programmed Question for him. He said his attention had been drawn to it but because they had told him that they would communicate to him again, he thought that perhaps, when the time was due, they would call him. So, without any further communication from the Table Office, he programmed a meeting for today. But we would take a cue and see how to deal with it. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Thank you very much, Hon Majority Leader. Hon Members, item numbered 4 on the Order Paper -- Statements. Hon Members, I would want to encourage Hon Members to please start looking ahead unto various matters of relevance and importance and we should have Questions well ahead of time now that we have resumed. There is only Statements at this moment on my table which I would put to tomorrow in view of the fact that I received it this morning, and I believe I need to have some time to digest it so that, it would be taken tomorrow. It is basically important but it needs to be fully read before it is approved. Hon Members, please, do well to let me have those Statements well or reasonably ahead of time for the future. At the commencement of Public Business, item numbered --
Mr Speaker, I believe that the indication we had at the pre-Sitting was that you have admitted the Statement brought by Hon Samuel Nartey George, so, we communicated that position to him and he was ready to give his Statement. We are surprised to know that the Statement did not reach you early, but the indication we got at the pre-Sitting was that, you had admitted it. So, we communicated same to him, which he is prepared to read. Mr Speaker, this is new information reaching us, and I thought that I should make it known that our understanding was that you admitted that Statement to be made on the floor of the House.
Hon Deputy Minority Leader, yes, I agree he brought it this morning and made an indication -- I believe it might be looked at.
Mr Speaker, respectfully, if I could crave your indulgence and that of my Hon Colleagues to lay the Paper on behalf of the Hon Minister for Lands and Natural Resources.
Hon Majority Leader, you may so do.
Hon Members, item numbered 5 (b) by the Chairman of the Committee.
Mr Speaker, yesterday, the Committee gave an indication that they needed further consultation on item numbered 5 (b) (i) and so, the indication to us was that in all likelihood, they would be able to do it tomorrow and not today.
Hon Majority Leader, can you kindly indicate what would be available for us at this stage?
Mr Speaker, tomorrow, they would be able to do it.
Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, as I was coming to the Chamber, I noticed that the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs was in session considering this particular matter. We should be optimistic that by tomorrow they can submit a Report and accordingly on Tuesday, we would take a Motion to adopt the framework. Thank you.
Thank you very much Hon Minority Leader. Hon Majority Leader, where do we go from here?
Mr Speaker, item numbered 5 (b) (ii) cannot also be taken because the Committee is engaged in consultation and if they are able to finish with that they could also do the laying of the Paper tomorrow, but certainly not today. Mr Speaker, item numbered 5 (c) is still in the works and so, we would step that one down as well, but item numbered 5 (d) is ready.
Hon Members, item numbered 5 (d) by the Chairman of the Committee. By the Chairman of the Committee -- Report of the Finance Committee on the Request for waiver of Import Duties, Import VAT, EXIM Levy, ECOWAS Levy, and other approved imposts including VAT, amounting to the Ghana cedi equivalent of ninety-two million, four hundred and six thousand, two hundred and twenty-six United States dollars and eighty-eight cents (US$92,406,226.88) on the direct EPC cost in respect of the 400MW Combined Cycle Gas Turbine Power Plant in Tema by Early Power Limited.
Hon Majority Leader, do you have any further indication? Hon Majority Leader, shall we stand proceedings down for an hour so that we sort our Papers out? It appears we have a few administrative challenges. So, if we may have the House stood down for an hour for those who are going through the processes to fully advise us.
Mr Speaker, the administrative challenges are certainly not from the Majority side of the House.
Definitely not. The Majority does not control the administration. So, I am not finding any faults at all. I am only stating the facts that we would have to take note of a challenge.
[MR FIRST DEPUTY SPEKER IN THE CHAIR.]
Hon Majority Leader, item numbered 6 on the Order Paper is pending. Are we ready to go on?
Mr Speaker, that Report cannot be ready today.
Very well. May I be guided by you? Which Motion is ready?
Mr Speaker, we may deal with item numbered 9.
Very well. Item numbered 9 -- Motion.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister for Special Development Initiatives is outside the jurisdiction of Accra attending to some serious business with the President. I would want to crave your indulgence and that of the House to move the Motion on her behalf.
Very well. You may move the Motion.
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion. Question put and Motion agreed to.
Hon Members, item numbered 10.
BILLS -- SECOND READING
Hon Chairman of the Committee, you may present your Report.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I rise to associate myself with the Motion on the floor, and in doing so, I present the Report of your Committee. Introduction The Northern Development Authority Bill, 2017, was presented to Parliament and read the First time on 31st July 2017. Pursuant to article 106 (4) and (5) of the 1992 Constitution and Order 184 of the Standing Orders of the House, the Bill was referred to the Committee on Employment, Social Welfare and State Enterprises by the Rt. Hon. Speaker for consideration and report. Deliberation The Committee held a stakeholder consultative meeting in Tamale for participants from the Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions to solicit inputs on the Bill. Thereafter, the Committee held a three-day meeting to undertake a clause by clause consideration of the Bill. In accordance with the directive on the referral, the Committee considered the Bill in collaboration with the Leadership of the Finance Committee, the Committee on Local Government and Rural Development and the Committee on Poverty Reduction Strategy. Present at the meetings was the Hon Minister for Special Development Initiatives, Mrs Mavis Hawa Koomson, and her technical team. The Leader of the House joined the Committee for considerable periods. The Committee expresses its appre- ciation to the Leadership of the Finance, Local Government and Rural Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy Committees for their inputs.
Hon Members, pursuant to Standing Order 127, a full debate on the principles of the Bill should ensue, but I would be guided by Leadership whether that should be taken today or another time. Hon Majority Leader? [Interruption.] All right, at least, I will listen to the Hon Ranking Member, but let me be guided by the sense of the House before we proceed. [Interruption.] Very well. Let me listen to the Hon Ranking Member while the Leaders confer. Hon Member for Pru East?
Thank you, Mr Speaker. In rising to support the Report of your Committee, I would want to draw the attention of this august House to possible issues in the creation of meso-level structures in our body politic. Mr Speaker, when bodies are created at the meso-level, two things happen. Either the powers of central Government or that of local Government bodies would be eroded by the creation of meso-level institutions. More often than not, the erosion happens at the lower level, and the meso-level structures become another extension of central Government. Therefore, going forward, I believe that it is important as a House that we ensure that the provisions of article 35 (6) (d) of the 1992 Constitution on decentralisation is not infringed upon or diminished as a result of the creation of these meso-level institutions. Mr Speaker, in the case of this particular Authority, it replaces to a large extent, an existing institution even though new tenets are introduced in terms of the emphasis on constituencies rather than political districts, which are the instruments of local governance. For me, this is critical. Whereas I support the Bill and recommend it to this House, we should be guided that, the creation of structures should not diminish our local level authority, especially, District, Municipal and Metropolitan Assemblies. Therefore, Mr Speaker, I would urge this House to be extremely conscious of that fact in crafting this Bill before us. With these few words, Mr Speaker, I lend my support to the Bill.
Hon Majority Leader, do we continue? [Interruption] Very well. Hon Member for Kumawu?
Mr Speaker, I rise to associate myself with the Motion on the floor on the Northern Development Authority Bill, 2017, as it has been presented by the Hon Chairman of the Committee. Mr Speaker, it is of great importance that H.E. the President of the Republic has thought it wise to bring even and equitable distribution in terms of development of
Hon Member for Keta, bid your time. I would want to give the opportunity to Hon Members from the Northern Authority Zone, and I would give you the last word.
Mr Speaker, thank you for giving me the opportunity to support the Motion on the Northern Development Authority Bill 2017.
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity. We are here today to talk about the Report from the Committee, which the Hon Chairman just presented to us. Mr Speaker, as a member of the Committee, I would like to take us back and say that whatever we do as a body, we must not forget that we are accountable to our people -- of course we are. Once upon a time in this House in 2008, a Bill was brought, which came to be known as the Northern Development Fund Act, 2008, and then it came to be the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) Act, 2010. Mr Speaker, we are here today with another one again. One of my senior Hon Colleagues just spoke and said a lot of things about SADA. Where are we going as a nation? As a nation, is it not time for us to just continue where another ended and put in what was lacking in the previous one? Are we going to have several of these Bills every time a new Government is in place? Mr Speaker, I have with me here, the Northern Development Fund Act, 2008 and the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority Act, 2010 (Act 805). Mr Speaker, if we go to the objectives of these Bills, we would see that they all talk about the same thing -- development in the northern sector. We agree that there must be development everywhere, but would we continue to make these laws and review them all the time when a new Government comes? It would have been good to have our Hon Colleagues on the other side with all the powers of the Constitution to just add on but that did not happen. Mr Speaker, we accept it as a nation and as a House. However, I would want to take the House back to page 6 of the Report, and I beg to quote the last paragraph of 7.5: “The Committee therefore recommends that Government takes over and decides appropriately on the assets and liabilities of SADA.” So, the decision is now for the government. Why do we not just say that the new body or Authority would just inherit the assets of SADA on that side of the northern sector, and the middle belt would also take what belongs to them? We have now left it in the hands of the government and a decision would be taken on these assets.
Hon Member, did you say that you are a member of the Committee?
Mr Speaker, yes, I am.
I would have wished that you had taken that decision and not brought it here for us to debate it.
Mr Speaker, yes, but I think -- Mr Speaker, please let me continue with my submission. I am grateful. Mr Speaker, as a House, let us just say that enough of the change of names. Assuming I have a step-mother or a step- father and my name is Angela, if my step- father or step-mother comes to give me a new dress, I would still be Angela, no matter the name I am given. Mr Speaker, that is exactly what is happening in this country. Somebody said that the projects were executed at the wrong time, some fowls went to another country and so on -- Mr Speaker, enough of that. Let us correct our mistakes and move forward as a nation. [Hear! Hear!] Enough of that. Partisan politics would not help us -- it has never helped us. Mr Speaker, my take this afternoon is that, I would start praying from today that this programme would succeed, so that all our brothers and sisters who come from the north and are in Greater Accra Region; the Kayayei and everybody would benefit from this programme and go back home and serve the northern sector of this country. Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity, and I would want to state again that, let us please do something so that continuity would happen in this country.
Mr Speaker, I am most grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the Report of the Committee on Employment, Social Welfare and State Enterprise on the Northern Development Authority Bill, 2017. Mr Speaker, while I support the Report, I would like to make a few comments. It is not for nothing that the Northern Development Fund was contemplated under erstwhile President John A. Kufuor's Government. Mr Speaker, it is also not for nothing that the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority Act (ACT 805) was enacted. It was because of a yawning developmental gap that existed between the north and the south. Therefore, the Act was supposed to bridge the gap and to give a fundamental and developmental
There are still a number of people in the Minority who would want to contribute but there is nobody from the Majority willing to contribute. Hon Majority Leader, would you want to conclude? I would wish that you wait and conclude.
Mr Speaker, because we have two other Bills, all of which are mirror images of the one that we are considering, we had some consultation and agreed that for the Northern Authority Development Bill, 2017, apart from the Hon Member who moves and seconds the Motion, we shall have three other contributors from either side of the divide.
Mr Speaker, I do not know whether I am out of order. My Hon Colleagues are still standing. [Interruption.] I guess they would have to sit.
Are you raising a point of order? If not, resume your seat.
Mr Speaker, respectfully, if we could conclude on that and move to the Middle Belt Development Authority Bill, 2017. I understand another prominent lady would want to make a contribution. Perhaps, we could accommodate Hon Laadi Ayamba, then we would wind up and move to the other one.
Hon Deputy Minority Leader, is that agreeable to you?
Mr Speaker, I believe that should work. So, if Hon Ayamba could speak, then we come to Leadership and conclude.
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity. Mr Speaker, I wish to first of all commend the Committee for the Report that has been presented to this House. In so doing, my contribution to the Motion is that this is a very good Motion that has come up. We have a Bill to look at, and the Bill has to do with the Northern Development Authority. Mr Speaker, it is very important for us to note that as has earlier been mentioned, there is a vast difference between the three northern regions; which are the Upper East, Upper West and Northern Regions, especially when it comes to economic stands. It would not be far from right to say that most of the people who could be classified as ‘poor' come from these three northern regions. So, it is very important for us to make strenuous efforts to bridge the gap. Mr Speaker, just let us get to Makola, have a look and we would see that there is actually a very big problem that needs to be addressed. How do we address this problem? We need to look at the issues in perspective, and as one of my Hon Colleagues has early on mentioned, we cannot compare the poverty levels in these regions to that of the middle belt and the coastal belt. Most of my colleague women, girls for that matter, have come to fill Accra Central and some other places just to look for their daily bread and just to make it for their families, because the developmental programmes that have come to this country have not been that good, if I may say. This is because, there might be a few developmental projects in the three northern regions leading to the migration of people from these regions to the southern sector, thus, creating a lot of issues. Education is falling apart simply because most of the children, especially girls in the northern sector, which is Upper East, Upper West and the Northern Regions have to stop schooling in order to come to the southern sector to look for resources. I know very well that if we look at the Bill properly and make sure that resources are properly allocated to the northern zone, it would go a long way to help us.
Hon Deputy Minority Leader?
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I rise to contribute to the debate on the establishment of the Northern Development Authority. Mr Speaker, there is no doubt that the object of the Authority is to fast-track or ensure the development of the northern sector. Mr Speaker, I looked at the objects of the Bill, and it is not different from the objects of SADA. So, in the first place, it is just a matter of a change of name. The issue about extending it to constituencies still does not make it different from SADA. We could even go beyond constituencies and extend it to electoral areas, but it is still within the zone, and for that matter, not different from SADA. Mr Speaker, when we establish development Authorities, the object is to ensure that the Authority promotes the development of these areas. Development goes with cost, and we must fund the development. So, my contribution is on how we would fund the Authorities. Mr Speaker, I looked at clause 19 of the Bill, which talks about the sources of funding of the Authority, and the major one among them is the moneys approved by Parliament. “Moneys approved by Parliament” means that, the moneys are coming from the Budget. Mr Speaker, if it is coming from the Budget, then we as Hon Members of Parliament, after passing this law and ensuring that we establish this Authority, must make sure that, when the Budget comes to this House, we ensure that adequate allocation is made for this Authority. Mr Speaker, if not, they would be there in name for the sake of having an Authority. Yes, we may have established the Northern Development Authority or any other Authority, but the Authority cannot operate if we do not fund it. Mr Speaker, we should therefore not create the Authority, probably because we have promised the people of the northern sector that when we come we would establish a development authority for them. Mr Speaker, yes, we would establish the Authority, but if we do not provide them with the funding, they would just be there in name that there is an Authority, but they would not fulfill the object of that Authority. Mr Speaker, if I look at other sources of funding of the Authority, I see an amendment that is being proposed by the Committee to ensure that, again, there would be an allocation of money for infrastructure and a poverty eradication programme. Again, where would that money be allocated from? It is also going to come from the Budget. Mr Speaker, therefore, apart from moneys approved by Parliament for the Authority, there must be allocation for infrastructure and a poverty eradication programme, which would also come from the Budget. So, in all, everything is coming from the Budget. Mr Speaker, I have seen some areas also where we have “loans and grants”, which means that, we are giving power to the Authority to take loans. However, are we putting in place measures to ensure that this Authority does not go and borrow beyond the capacity of the Authority, so that we reserve processes, such that when we come to the Consideration Stage, we would look at whether there are processes to follow to ensure that when the Authority wants to go and take a loan, it comes back to Parliament for approval so that, the Authority does not go to the market and borrow, and when they become debts, government would be called in to come and rescue? Mr Speaker, therefore, my point simply is that, yes, we would establish the Authority, but we should bear in mind that the Authority cannot operate if there is no funding for it. Mr Speaker, so, when the Budget for 2018 comes to this House, we should all ensure that, adequate resources are allocated for this Authority, in order to fulfill the object for their establishment. Mr Speaker, I thank you.
Mr Speaker, thank you.
Yes, Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I would want to thank you for the opportunity to contribute to the Motion for the Second Reading of the Northern Development Authority Bill, 2017, and to urge massive support for the establishment of the Authority. Mr Speaker, I am convinced that there is a historical development imbalance that necessitates an affirmative intervention that we seek to bridge the gap between the north and the south. If you take for instance, access to education, probably in parts of the north, it got there after some 50 or 100 years in the south. Therefore, naturally, there are disparities. Mr Speaker, we also have evidence of the Ghana Statistical Survey Report which highlights northern Ghana -- Mr Speaker, with that, let me go to your Committee's Report and with your indulgence, quote from page 4 to begin my contribution. Paragraph 7 (2) reads: “The Committee further observed that the establishment of the Northern Development Authority will complement, in particular, the efforts of Municipal and District Assemblies in addressing the development deficit of the three Northern regions.” It should be “the three regions of the north” and not “the three “Northern regions”. So appropriately, it should be captured. Mr Speaker, I also note, and it is commendable, that Government is walking the talk, per the manifesto on the Infrastructure for Poverty Eradication Programme where the NPP campaigned that it would restructure SADA. So, if this is the restructuring of SADA, it is welcome. Mr Speaker, even before I go into detail, may I, with your indulgence, refer you to article 106 of the 1992 Constitution -- restructuring of SADA. I heard Hon Nyindam just say change in a name, if I can borrow his words. So I ask, what is in a name? Mr Speaker, undoubtedly, the SADA Act, Act 805 of 2010 represents a watershed of a legislation committed to it. I admit that there were governance and management problems in the execution of it, but the problem is not with the legislation or the law. Mr Speaker, I beg to quote article 106 (2) and with your indulgence, the emphasis for me would be subclause 2 (a). It states -- Let me go to article 106 (1), so that I situate my argument. It states: “The power of Parliament to make laws shall be exercised by bills passed by Parliament and assented to by the President.”
“No bill, other than such a bill as is referred to in paragraph (a) of article 108 of this Constitution, shall be introduced in Parliament unless -- (a) it is accompanied by an explanatory memorandum setting out in detail the policy and principles of the bill, the defects of the existing law ...” Mr Speaker, this is my emphasis. Where are the defects? What are the defects of the existing law? I am unable to find one. I am able to find problems with
its management, governance and abuses of public resources but I do not see a defect in the SADA Act, Act 805 of 2010 but understandably, the Bill -- Dr Mark Assibey-Yeboah -- rose -- On a point of order.
Hon Minority Leader, there is a point of order. Hon Member, is it a point of order?
Rightly so, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I heard the Hon Minority Leader mention defects of the existing law. I do not know which existing law we are talking about here. We are crafting a new Bill - the Northern Development Authority Bill, 2017 which is a new one. It is not the SADA law. If it were the case that we were amending the SADA law, that would be the existing law that he is talking about. This is an entirely new law that we are crafting so, he must be guided. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, to the extent that like I said -- If you go to page 18 of the Bill, there would be repeal and savings and I am sure naturally, when we come to deal with it, we would save a lot of things of SADA under it because we know the antecedence of this Government. This is not the first time they have hinted of Northern Development Fund. If we go back to 2008, I was in this House. Mr Speaker, I know that the Hon Chairman of the Finance Committee read article 106 (2) well and you would help him someday to appreciate that I do not talk of the Bill; I talk of defects of a Bill which is mandated constitutionally to accompany why they bring in a new legislation. Mr Speaker, like the Hon Deputy Majority Whip said, “change in a name” what is important -- Mr Speaker, let me credit --
Hon Deputy Whip?
Mr Speaker, “the change of name” was actually initiated in this House by Hon Avedzi, but unfortunately, the Hon Minority Leader was not here. I was just trying to allude to the fact that although he said SADA and Northern Development Authority is just a change of name, I believe that it should go beyond that. So, if he wants the original initiator of “change of name”, then he should please pay courtesy to Hon Avedzi.
Hon Members, I will not entertain any more discussion on “change of name”. It actually precedes Hon Avedzi; it started from the Hon Member for Afadzato South. She introduced “change of name”. So, we would leave it there and continue with the debate.
Mr Speaker, I would want to refer you to the Hansard of 14th July, 2010 when this House had occasion to consider the SADA Bill and a very succinct and lucid statement made by Prof. Gyan-Baffour, one of the persons for whom I have enormous respect when it comes to these matters. Mr Speaker, I would want to quote him and associate myself with his comment. It was relevant yesterday and today, and tomorrow. It would be relevant, Mr Speaker, in column 2316; this is what Prof. Gyan-Baffour said: “Mr Speaker, the development of the northern half of this country is a non-negotiable necessity for the total development of Ghana.” I truly associate myself with it and to that extent, urge for massive support of it. It is the same vehicle of SADA now being replaced, to avoid the danger of change of name with the Northern Development Authority which seeks to achieve this object. Mr Speaker, my primary concern is the sustainability of the financing mechanism. Mr Speaker, again, I would want to say that the wealth of 2010, when the Hon Chairman of the Committee at the time had cause to present the Committee's Report, to look at SADA to deal with the northern strategy to bridge the development gap between the north and the south. The Committee had this important thing to say about sustainability of financing, to which the Hon Deputy Minority Leader, Hon Avedzi and many of our Hon Colleagues have alluded to and Mr Speaker, that worries my heart. If we have Northern Development Authority Bill, 2017 dependent on the Consolidated Fund; dependent on the pleasure of the Hon Minister for Finance, I see no commitment to bridging the gap between the north and the south. He will come back here and report the same budgetary constraints and lack of fiscal space. That is why in the SADA law, specifically on sources of funding, there was dedicated petroleum receipts. If we have not walked it, they should reconsider it. I am sure when it comes to the Consideration Stage, we on this side of the House would forcefully urge that there be earmarked fund in order that they know with certainty, how the development strategy and plans would be financed but certainly, not on the Consolidated Fund, because that is unreliable and not sustainable. It has always been the case. Mr Speaker, like I said, I referred to 2010. In the debate, that was the conclusion of the Report of the Committee at the time. We should look at it.
the Upper East Region, the Upper West Region, Northern Region and the Central Region on the basis of the Ghana Living Standards Survey statistics which indicates they are the poorest. That is why we welcome this and I know accompanying this Bill, the government has decided to create new structures for every part of the country: Middle Belt, Coastal Belt. I know our Standing Orders forbid anticipating a Bill but, Mr Speaker, when you go to sources of finance in this Bill, let me refer you to the Bill so that I avoid what our Standing Orders prohibit. Again, we hold the Hon Minister for Finance to explain. Mr Speaker, look at how page 12 of the Bill reads; “Moneys from the Infrastructure for Poverty Eradication Project.” Where is that project? Not a creation of law, not an established one, and we do not know. Even when the Infrastructure for Poverty Eradication Project itself does not know where it would get funding from, maybe, from the capping of revenue, you reference it that this would be your source of finance? Mr Speaker, we are ad idem and I believe that, there is a national consensus that there is a huge development deficit and gap between the north and the south
Hon Minority Leader, kindly address the Chair.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. The objects of the Authority like I stated, we need to enrich it in order to do — So, let me conclude, I was going to refer to other contributions when the SADA Bill was here but, Mr Speaker, I must acknowledge, for instance, Hon Ambrose Dery and Hon Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu. When we came to the Consideration Stage, they were profoundly brilliant in improving that law, which is a good law and has no defects. You have problems with management and governance like you would do, because human beings are not angels, including the people you would appoint to manage SADA. That is why you are to deal with the problem not the —
When you said that the problems of the north are beyond plans, the conclusion in my head was that, the problems of the north, of the South, of the east, and everywhere, is the human beings and we are here. If it does not improve, it is us, it is nobody else.
Mr Speaker, finally, I have seen a reference to exemptions and I have seen reference to the private sector, and I conclude with that comment so that it would guide the policy principles tomorrow. Mr Speaker, if you would note, the late President Nkrumah through Busia, through Acheampong, Limann, coming through former President Rawlings to President Kufuor and President Atta- Mills. Significantly, all had cause to say that they were granting tax exemptions for the people of the north to attract the private sector and to attract private investment. That never happened. We need to research and find that disincentive, I know some would say conflict and say peace. Rightly so. Let us build peace, let us ensure security and stability. But beyond that, Mr Speaker, the problem, I hope that when the New Northern Development Fund takes off, it would consider many of them on board like Buipe. We have no reason why Buipe cannot be an industrial port city with its connection to the Eastern Region and to Volta Region. It has some potential up to the Volta Region but we need to find out the disincentive, why the private sector was never really interested, notwithstanding, like I said, every promise by the successive governments to grant them tax exemptions, to go and invest. At least, thankfully, now, there is an international airport. And I believe that when it comes to matters of irrigation, and many others that would come-- Mr Speaker, I want to thank you and urge Hon Colleagues to support the Northern Development Authority Bill, 2017, and get it accordingly passed. But I trust that, when we get to the nitty gritties of the Consideration Stage, we should be minded by the consensus that we build on SADA like I referred to some names. So that we can improve the tenor and remit of the Bill in order that they can serve the President's purpose. He is touring the North and therefore, would have a graphical picture of the worrying, abject poverty in that part of the country. Mr Speaker, I whole heartedly support change of name, new name, the Authority Bill. I thank you, Mr Speaker.
Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, let me express my profound appreciation to all Hon Members for the comments that they have made, which I believe would go to enrich the Bill. Mr Speaker, I think it is important to reiterate the point that the Northern Development Authority is not meant to replace district assemblies. That is not the underpinning principle at all. It is only to complement the structures that exist at the districts. That is number one. Mr Speaker, I think Hon Members would also appreciate that, the fact that we are embarking on decentralisation does not necessarily mean that every programme and project should be routed through the district assemblies. It does not mean that at all. Mr Speaker, article 254 of the 1992 Constitution is manifestly clear on this and respectfully, I would want to quote. It provides; “Parliament shall enact laws and take steps necessary for further decentralisation of the admini- strative functions and projects of Central Government.” That is what we are doing, except that, we are told or we are urged by the 1992 Constitution to realise that this exercise shall not exercise any control over the district assemblies and that it shall not be incompatible with what the district assemblies do. As simple as that.
We shall deal with Motion numbered 12 on the Order Paper.
BILLS -- SECOND READING
Hon Chairman of the Committee?
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion and in doing so present your Committee's Report. Introduction The Middle-Belt Development Authority Bill, 2017 was presented before Parliament and read the first time on 31st July 2017. In accordance with Article 106 (4) and (5) of the Constitution and Order 184 of the Standing Orders of the House, the Bill was referred by the Rt Hon. Speaker to the Committee on Employment, Social Welfare and State Enterprises for consideration and report. Deliberation The Committee held a stakeholders meeting in Kumasi to solicit inputs on the Bill from participants from the Ashanti, Brong-Ahafo and the Eastern-Regions. The Committee subsequently held a meeting to consider the Bill in detail. Pursuant to the directive on the referral, the Committee considered the Bill together with the Leadership of the Finance Committee, the Committee on Local Government and Rural Development and the Committee on Poverty Reduction Strategy. The Hon. Minister for Special Develop- ment Initiatives, Mrs. Mavis Hawa Koomson and her technical team were in attendance to support the work of the Committee. The Leader of the House joined the Committee for considerable periods. The Committee on Employment, Social Welfare and State Enterprises expresses its appreciation to the Leadership of the three other Committees for their inputs and co-operation. The Committee acknowledges the contribution and support of the Hon Minister and her technical team, as well as the draftpersons from the Attorney General's Office. The Committee also expresses appreciation to the Majority Leader for attending to the workshop and making contributions that provided profound illumination to the business of the Committee. The Committee is equally grateful to different stakeholders for their contributions. Reference The Committee made reference to the following documents during its delibe- rations: a. The 1992 Constitution; b. The Standing Orders of Par- liament; c. The Savana Accelerated De- velopment Authority Act, 2010 (Act 805); d. Memorandum from Stakeholders. Object of the Bill The object of the Bill is to provide for the establishment of the Middle Belt Development Authority to provide a framework for accelerated economic and social development of constituencies and areas in the Ashanti, Brong-Ahafo and the Eastern Regions of the Republic of Ghana. Content of the Bill The Bill is made up of 32 clauses arranged into the following group section captions: Section caption 1 (Clause 1-3) establishes the Middle Belt Development Authority. The objects and functions of the Authority are captured under this section. Section caption 2 (clause 4-12) deals with the Governing Body of the Authority and provides among others, the composition and functions of the Board, duties and liabilities of a member of the Board, disclosure of interest and establishment of committees. Section caption 3 (Clause 13-18) provides for the Administration of the Authority, which includes the appoint- ment and functions of the Chief Executive Officer, Secretary to the Board, and Internal Audit Unit. Section caption 4 (Clause 19-26) relates to the Finances of the Authority. Section caption 5 (Clause 27-32) deals with Miscellaneous provisions covering such items as public consultation and notice, offences and penalties, regula- tions and interpretation. Background The government recognises that Article 36 (2) of the 1992 Constitution obligates the State to take all necessary steps to establish a sound and healthy economy whose underlying principles shall among other things include undertaking even and balanced development of all the regions and every part of each region of Ghana, and in particular, improving the conditions of life in the rural areas and generally addressing any imbalance in development between the rural and the urban areas. It is in pursuance of this objective that the government proposed to establish the Middle Belt Development Authority. Observations and Recommendations The Committee observed that the establishment of the Middle Belt Development Authority will enable the country bring constituencies within the Middle Belt into mainstream development. It was noted for instance that the Infrastructure for Poverty Eradication Programme (IPEP) would make provision for annual allocation of funds for each Constituency. This, together with other sources of funds , will enable the Authority implement capital projects and stimulate investments for job creation, accelerated development and improvements in the lives of the rural communities. It was further observed that the setting up of the Middle Belt Authority would complement the work of the District Assemblies within the Middle Belt. To this end, it was imperative that the Authority works hand-in-hand with the District Assemblies in particular, for the achievement of common objectives in the Constituencies.
Clause 19 -- Amendment proposed -- paragraph (i), before “internally” insert “any other”. Clause 23 -- Amendment proposed -- subclause (1), lines 1 and 2 delete the words “duties, fees, and other charges”. Clause 23 -- Amendment proposed -- subclause (2), lines 2 and 3, delete “or variation of tax to” and insert “duties, fees other charges payable by”. Clause 23 -- Amendment proposed -- subclause (3), delete entire subclause. Clause 26 -- Amendment proposed -- subclause (2), paragraph(b), delete paragraph (b) and insert “a performance report”. Clause 26 -- Amendment proposed -- subclause (2), paragraph (c), delete entire paragraph (c). Clause 26 -- Amendment proposed -- subclause (2), paragraph(e), delete entire paragraph (e). Clause 26 -- Amendment proposed -- subclause (2) paragraph (f), delete entire sub-paragraph (iv) and insert “the cost of project executed by the Authority”. Clause 27 -- Amendment proposed -- Headnote, delete “for private sector”. Clause 27 -- Amendment proposed -- subclause (1), line 1 after “Authority” delete “shall grant and extend incentives to the private sector” and insert “may extend support to the private sector, public sector”. Clause 28 -- Amendment proposed -- subclause (1), line 1 after “Authority'' delete “may” and insert “shall”. Clause 28 -- Amendment proposed -- subclause (2), line 2, after “shall” insert the words “not less than seven days before the date of the public consultation,”. Clause 32 -- Amendment proposed -- Interpretation for “annual allocation”, line 3, delete “Central Government” and insert “Parliament”. Clause 32 -- Amendment proposed -- Interpretation of “Central Government” delete “Central Government” from the Interpretation Clause 32 -- Amendment proposed -- Interpretation for “donors”, delete the definition of donors and insert “donors include governmental and non- governmental organisations and any other development partners”. Clause 32 -- Amendment proposed -- Interpretation for “Infrastructure for Poverty Eradication Project”, line 1, delete “Project” and insert “Programme”. Clause 32 -- Amendment proposed -- Interpretation for “National Planning Commission” delete “National Develop- ment Planning Commission”. Clause 32 -- Amendment proposed -- Interpretation of “Minister” delete and insert “Minister” means “the Minister responsible for Special Development Initiatives”. Clause 32 -- Amendment proposed -- “public resources” delete from interpretation clause. Clause 32 -- Amendment proposed -- Interpretation for “risk finance instrument” delete the word “means” and insert “includes”. Question proposed.
Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to support the Motion and in doing so, I would want to clear a misconception that poverty arises from lack of ideas. It is no. As a student of the late Peter Townson, he would be cringing in his grave if I sit here and allow this misconception to go into the records of this august House. Mr Speaker, poverty, whether it is by the subsistence approach, the basic needs approach or the relative depravation approach arises from lack of resources and not a lack of ideas. As we pick up the Middle Belt Development Authority Bill, we would have to recognise the resource limitation of the middle belt. Mr Speaker, when the Committee met, we were surprised that the draftpersons did not even recognise that Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) had operations in the middle belt. The northern part of the Brong Ahafo Region came under SADA coverage, and if SADA was an attempt to address a historic inequality on the development map of Ghana, then the middle belt takes a strong interest in this development attempt. Mr Speaker, the Brong Ahafo Region, the Eastern Region and the Ashanti Region constitute the middle belt as per this Bill, particularly in the northern part of the Brong Ahafo Region, the deprivation arising as a result of inadequate resources and aggravated by a lack of attention by the Ghanaian state is extremely glaring for all to see. Mr Speaker, my plea, my hope and my prayer as well are that, this Authority does not just become another central government administrative initiative to add to the structures of the nation's state but it would become a contentious attempt at reducing and empowering the people of the middle belt. The State has a historical obligation to create the conditions for the development of this country, and in doing so, the cohesiveness of the Ghanaian State is enhanced and guaranteed. Mr Speaker, it is therefore, in this light that I beg to support this Bill and also to reiterate that, poverty does not arise out of a lack of ideas. Mr Speaker, I thank you.
Hon Ranking Member, where there are abundance of resources would there be poverty if there were ideas to turn the resources to wealth? This is just an academic exercise.
Mr Speaker, once you are getting involved in the debate [Laughter] -- I would want to articulate that resources on their own become a tool for development if combined in the right conditions. Mr Speaker, if we look at the resources available to our farmers, especially, in the transition zone where I come from, they can only plant once a year, arising out of natural limitations.
Are there no ideas to change that to plant all year round?
Mr Speaker, if the financial resources were available, farmers would do irrigation and that is where the role of the Ghanaian State comes in.
If we had the mind-set to plant all year round, is it not where we would put all our resources? So I believe ideas are real critical issues and our mind-set is one of the major challenges to our development. This is outside the debate.
Mr Speaker, I would worry to tell the poor people of this country that they are poor because they lack ideas. And that is why it is important. Unless of course we want to go and tell our electorates that the poor are poor because they lack ideas and the rich are rich because they have ideas.
Hon Member, they are poor because we, with whom their sweat money have been used to train in science, in planning et cetera have failed to use the ideas to assist them. So we should take the responsibility.
Mr Speaker, I beg to support the Motion on the Middle Belt Development Authority Bill, 2017. Mr Speaker, I just want to say that, the idea that poverty arises as a result of lack of ideas is entirely true. When we look at countries like Singapore, what resources does the nation Singapore have? We should talk of Japan and compare Japan and Singapore to Ghana. We can see that we have a lot of resources but we are still poor because of lack of ideas. Mr Speaker, in the wisdom of the President, he got to know that, when we talk of poverty and lack of development in the nation, we become deluded into a thinking that, it is only the northern part of our economy which is poor. This notion is not entirely true. Mr Speaker, one can go to Brong Ahafo Region, Ashanti and the Eastern Regions and would find out that even getting a public place of convenience in some parts of these areas is a difficult problem. When we talk of water and other related issues — Mr Richard Acheampong — On a point of order Mr Speaker, my Hon Colleague made a statement that, poverty comes as a result of lack of ideas. We should not allow such a statement —
Hon Member, we have debated it as academic exercise. That is his view and he is entitled to that. When you get the opportunity, speak to it like the Hon Ranking Member did.
Mr Speaker, when I talk about poverty, I do not refer to individual persons in the north or in the country. I talk about poverty in terms of lack of ideas of leadership, and that is what I am referring to. Mr Speaker, so the idea that when we talk of development, attention should only go to the North should not be the case. Our entire economy and some areas need development. That is why the President in his wisdom, zoned the country into three. Mr Speaker, when we come to the middle belt as mentioned earlier we see that we have vast stretch of land covered with vegetation and mineral resources. But the unfortunate situation that we have is that, these resources and the green nature of our lands are persistently being destroyed through human activities. We can look at how ‘gather and sell' business, which we call (galamsey) has destroyed our nation; our vegetation cover; disafforestation, which has destroyed our lands. Mr Speaker, this programme seeks to put plans and programmes in place to ensure that all these problems are solved. And I believe it is going to go a long way to provide job opportunities to our citizens or people in the middle belt zone. Mr Speaker, with these few words, I support the Motion on the Floor and urge Hon Members to accept its imple- mentation.
Hon Member for Asutifi South — You are within the middle belt right?
Mr Speaker, yes. Mr Speaker, thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to support the Report on the Middle Belt Development Authority Bill, 2017. Mr Speaker, I do so by raising one or two concerns, and the first one has to do with relationships. Mr Speaker, you would note that in existence are Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies which are in charge of the development of our Districts. Mr Speaker, this Bill also seeks to facilitate the development of the areas concerned. But if care is not taken, we are likely to have conflicts between the existing Assemblies and this new Authority. Mr Speaker, the Report of the Committee, particularly at page 4, paragraph 7.2, reads, and with your kind permission I beg to quote: “It was further observed that the setting up of the Middle Belt Authority would complement the work of the District Assemblies within the Middle Belt.” Mr Speaker, but I am scared because of the functions given to the District Assemblies as provided under article 245 of our Constitution, and I beg to quote: with your permission: “Parliament shall by law prescribe the functions of District Assemblies which shall include -- (a) the formulation and execution of plans, programmes and strategies for the effective mobilisation of the resources necessary for the overall development of the district”; I guess that includes identifying economic infrastructure for the accelerated development of the district. It also includes venturing into public -- private partnerships for the development of the District Assemblies.
“For the realisation of the short term and long term plans, the Authority shall invest in economic and social infrastructure, including Roads, Energy, Water Resources and Communication to create the preconditions for accelerated economic and social development. Mr Speaker, it is however important to note that this is the Second Reading and we would have the opportunity of taking it through the Consideration Stage where these things would have to be looked at closely and ironed out so that we do not have conflicts between the development authorities and the District Assemblies. Mr Speaker, on the second area -- [Interruption] -- the Hon Member of Parliament for Suhum should keep quiet. [Laughter.]
Hon Member, you are out of order.
Hon Member, I have ruled him out of order already. Kindly resume your seat.
You are out of order. Sit down! [Laughter.]
You, Hon Member on your feet, are out of order for calling him by his name. [Laughter.]
Thank you, Mr Speaker. The middle belt is a very important area and critical for the economic development of this country. It is an area that has a lot of resources -- if we talk about minerals, timber, water; a lot of resources. It is an area where if one wants to create jobs, one can turn to and do so, particularly, for our brothers and sisters who unfor- tunately do not have certificates and cannot be recruited into public offices. Mr Speaker, I am driving at plantation development in the middle belt. Forest is a renewable resource of this country and that, when the trees are finished, we can redevelop and have the forests back. The benefit of embarking on plantation development is not only to ensure the ecological balance of the country but also to create jobs and put moneys in the pocket of our people. Therefore, I would appeal to the authority when established, to pay particular attention to plantation development in this middle belt which can provide jobs and make our people feel good. Mr Speaker, with these few comments, I support the Bill and wish to say that during the Consideration Stage, we would support in looking at how we would sharpen some of the clauses to ensure that conflict is avoided between the Authority of Districts, Municipals and Metropolitan Assemblies. I thank you very much, Mr Speaker.
Hon Member for Oforikrom?
I thank you very much, Mr Speaker. I would also like to support the Motion and to pray Hon Members to also do same. Mr Speaker, I refer to page 5 of your Committee's Report, and I am particularly excited by the recommendation to make consultations with stakeholders manda- tory. I believe that, making it mandatory gives material meaning to the Constitutional provision to article 35 (6) (d) and with your permission, I would like to read: “(d) make democracy a reality by decentralising the admini- strative and financial machi- nery of government to the regions and districts and by affording all possible opportunities to the people to participate in decision-making at every level in national life and in government;” Mr Speaker, I dwell on this point because whenever we talk about con- sultation in practice, in most cases it has been a mere symbolic gesture. In many project and policy documents which were formulated, we have been called upon to consult stakeholders. We merely gather people and inform them without meaningfully creating space for them to influence the decisions that are taken. This is particularly important because this Bill seeks to create a law to bring development to a region that has a certain cultural context that has to be borne in mind, especially, the powerful roles that chiefs and opinion leaders play. In many of these consultation processes, one would find that, when people want to be fast, they just gather chiefs and opinion leaders, tell them what they want to do and they call that consultation. That is just a mere symbolic gesture. I believe in the spirit of the provision that I have read, if we really need substantive consultation, then we need to develop further guidelines to make sure that, we create a mechanism where the consultation process would be responsive and accountable. I believe when we are able to do this, we would achieve the bottom-up approach that we want to use to bring development to our people. At the end of the day, the governance landscape would be good for us to achieve the purpose for which this Bill is being passed. Mr Speaker, I would like to thank you for the opportunity.
I would give the opportunity to the Hon Member from the middle belt. We would come to the coastal belt. We have left the northern belt. Yes, Hon Member for Lower Manya?
I thank you, Mr Speaker. I beg to make a few comments on the Committee's Report. It is true that we would want our various communities to develop. Therefore, there is the need to have a body responsible for such developmental projects. However, I believe that in doing so, we must not be going back. Mr Speaker, what this means is that, if this authority is headquartered in my Constituency, Lower Manya Krobo, the others from Dormaa Ahenkro in Brong Ahafo and Ashanti would have to come to Lower Manya Krobo to access resources. I believe that is not the essence of local governance and decentralisation of government. Proximity is very important, therefore, I believe that as much as we would want to dedicate some developmental projects to certain areas, we need to be very careful otherwise it would come back to the same thing. It would put Kumasi and Koforidua together. Definitely, Kumasi has more resources than Koforidua. If we put them together, when it comes to sharing resources, the formula would be the same for all of them. As I said, the essence of decentra- lisation is to bring governance to the doorsteps of the people. What we are doing now is recentralisation. We are recentralising and it is not going to help. Therefore, let us think twice and look at this whole Bill again. Let us rethink it because I believe that, it defeats the purpose of decentralisation. Mr Speaker, it is not going to help us. With this, I thank you for the opportunity.
Hon Member for Suhum, I wanted to hear you last before I come to the Leadership.
Mr Speaker, I rise to support the Motion on the floor for the Second Reading of the Middle Belt Development Authority (MBDA). Mr Speaker, indeed, the initiative to create these Development Authorities is a clear indication of the seriousness with which the current Administration desires to tackle the nation's problems. We have had several attempts in the past but we have not seen much results. Now, we have this innovative approach where the entire nation has been zoned into three. Currently, the discussion is focused on the MBDA. Mr Speaker, just a moment ago, across the aisle, my Hon Colleague from Asutifi was wondering and indeed, afraid that the creation of this Authority was going to conflict in some way with the operations of the District Assemblies. If we go a little further down to paragraph 7.2 that he referred us to, just the last sentence in that paragraph is the statement and with your permission, I beg to quote: “This is to ensure that programmes of the Authority are consistent with national development plan and that duplications of its functions are avoided.” So, clearly, the Bill before us, has taken into consideration measures that, would ensure that whatever this Authority does, its functions would not be a duplication of what pertains on the ground from District Assemblies and other related bodies. So, I urge my Hon Colleague to put aside his fears and support this Bill. I believe that it would bring on board all the development that we all seek in the Middle Belt which includes the Eastern Region, and for that matter, Suhum. Mr Speaker, thank you very much for the opportunity.
I would take one more contribution before I come to Leadership.
Mr Speaker, thank you very much for the opportunity to contribute to the debate on this Motion asking us to adopt the Report of the Committee. Mr Speaker, I think that, it has become very fashionable to establish Develop- ment Authorities with a view to enhance and accelerate the pace of development in different parts of the country. It started of course with the idea of establishing one for the three Northern regions and this Government has decided to extend it to other regions. We now have the Middle Belt Development Authority and the Coastal Belt Development Authority (CBDA) Bills, and within the Savannah, the Middle Belt and the Coastal, we even have a sub- grouping, which is the Zongo Development Authority.
Hon Member hold on. Having regard to the state of business I direct that Sitting be held outside the normal time.
Mr Speaker, I think that it is important that first and foremost, we take into consideration the fiscal challenges involved in duplicating institutions across the country. Already, we have problems with the size of Government, we are on all sorts of programmes with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and there are embargoes on recruitments, et cetera; and we are creating new institutions. We are creating new institutions, in my opinion, to play precisely the roles that by law the existing institutions ought to perform. We have the Regional Coordinating Councils, and under them, we have the Municipal and District Assemblies and we are now creating a tier of institutions that would traverse regions, basically; three regions here, three regions there, three regions down south or even four regions down south. My concern is in increasing the size of Government. Is the Ministry of Finance paying attention to the implications of the things that we are doing for the fiscal challenges that confront the country? Mr Speaker, indeed, under our new Legislation it is required that, any Bill that comes here, must be given a fiscal assessment of its implications financially to us as a country. On the budget, do we see any indications? If we establish all these Authorities, what would be the fiscal implication for our Budget Statements when they are fully functional and operational? We do not see that. Mr Speaker, secondly, I thought that given the challenges, the Report would give us a very strong case for the model of Development Authorities. When we discussed the SADA or NDA, the idea was that, this was a region of the country that was in terms of development and infrastructure, far behind and so we would want to create a zone that would have a special focus. Today, we are creating MBDA and CBDA. When I read the memorandum and it uses poverty as the basis for establishing a Middle Belt zone. Paragraph 2 of memorandum of the Bill says that and I beg to quote; “Despite the country's middle- income status resulting from the steady expansion of the economy, development of the country is increasingly becoming unequal, as the benefits of economic growth are not equally distributed across the country, while poverty remains prevalent in many areas. Even though there is a significant decline in poverty at the national level, there are wide disparities across regions and between the urban and rural citizenry”. Mr Speaker, if poverty is the reason, I doubt if we can use paragraph 2 as the policy justification for establishing a special Development Authority. Thirdly, I am trying to understand the basis. If we go to the third paragraph of the memorandum, in my opinion, it now tells us something specific that we want the Authority to do. It says that and I beg to quote; “…The Middle Belt Development Authority, …will be the primary agency for implementing the Infrastructure for Poverty Eradication Programme.” So, it is the primary agency for implementing the infrastructure for poverty eradication programme. The infrastructure for poverty eradication programme, I believe, is a national initiative and it is not region based. So, why would we in trying to implement a national initiative, want to create a sub-regional Authority with all the facilities that I see it having just to
Hon Deputy Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, thank you. I rise to support the Motion and also ask the House to approve the Report of the Committee for the establishment of the Middle Belt Development Authority. Mr Speaker, one issue that baffles me, as someone who hails from the Volta Region is that, when I look at the Bill and the definition given to the Middle Belt as Brong Ahafo Region, Ashanti Region and Eastern Region -- Mr Speaker, I googled the map of Ghana and Volta Region travels from the southern part or the coastal region to the north. If we are talking about northern, middle and coastal belts, then Volta Region feeds into all the three. Mr Speaker, so, I wonder why. If we talk about the middle belt, it also includes portions of the Volta Region and it is also part of the northern belt, yet Volta Region which travels from the north to the south is added to the Coastal Belt Development Authority. Mr Speaker, that is the only thing that baffles me. Nevertheless, I believe that as a country we have decided to have establishments that would support or complement the development efforts of this country, the basic fact still remains that we should not establish these institutions and make them become white elephants. The efforts of establishing these institutions must be the same efforts to provide them with the resources, as I said earlier in the case of the Northern Development Authority. This applies to all the development authorities; let us not make them become white elephants. It would be fruitless efforts if we have these authorities and not provide them with the resources to complement the develop- ment efforts of this country. Mr Speaker, as we approve the Second Reading of the Bill, when we go to the Consideration Stage, whatever is needed and is necessary to ensure that we do not only create white elephant institutions as a House, we would fashion out and think about that and make sure that we polish the Bill to become a law that would make the institutions operational and have the resources to ensure that they complement the development efforts of this country for which we are crying to establish. Mr Speaker, on these few observations, I believe that I support the Bill and we should all support the Second Reading of this Bill. Mr Speaker, thank you.
Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I rise to recognise the contributions made by Hon Colleagues to enrich the Bill before us. I believe that for the avoidance of doubt, it is important to reiterate the point I made that the creature that we are forming today would exist to complement and not to replace the District Assembly structures. Mr Speaker, I quoted article 254 and I would want to believe that my Hon Colleague, Hon Terlabi, listened to me. The District Assemblies are not the only instruments as far as development at the district, constituency or regional levels are concerned; they are not. Mr Speaker, article 254 clearly states that and that is why I said that this effort is to complement what the District Assemblies are charged to do. Mr Speaker, for the avoidance of doubt and for purposes of elucidation, I beg to read it with your kind permission: “Parliament shall enact laws and take steps necessary for further decen- tralization of the administrative functions and projects of the Central Government but shall not exercise any control over the District Assemblies that is incompatible with their decentralized status, or otherwise contrary to law.” Mr Speaker, so, to the extent that what we are crafting would not contradict what the Assemblies are charged to do, but to complement them, then it does not run foul of the law at all, it does not. Mr Speaker, issues have been raised once again about the implementation of SADA; the problems and challenges that ensued. As a nation, we should all learn useful lessons from that and move on. I guess that I have already related to the issue about the seed money and I do not intend to repeat myself.
“The State shall, in particular, take all necessary steps to establish a sound and healthy economy whose underlying principles shall include -- (b) affording ample opportunity for individual initiative and creativity in economic acti- vities and fostering an enabling environment for a pronounced role of the private sector in the economy;” Mr Speaker, one of the objects of the development authorities would be to provide just that; to stimulate the private sector to contribute meaningfully to our development. Sometimes, the involvement is beyond the capacity of the Assemblies and the State must intervene to do that and to purposely promote private sector participation in certain areas of our economy. The Hon Minority Leader related to the fact that, we have not been able to tap into the potentials of --[Pause] -- Buipe. It requires the stimulation and purpose- fulness of, maybe, the Central Government to push that. Sometimes, if we leave it to the private people alone, they might not be able to do that because we require some antecedents in infrastructural develop- ment. We are required to have good roads, perhaps, a good rail system, and the private sector cannot do that. The State might have to intervene in a big way using the instrumentality that we are in the process of creating. Mr Speaker, so, respectfully, I would want to urge my Hon Colleagues to buy into this very noble idea. I believe together we would contribute to enhance the development agenda of the three zones that we are creating. Mr Speaker, the Hon Deputy Minority Leader related to the peculiar circumstance of the Volta Region. The Volta Region is not alone in that. The zones have been created just to describe where one would want to emphasise. Otherwise, if you take the Western Region, for example, they have a coastline which stretches into the hinterlands. It is the rainy part of this country, and geographically, one would say they are incompatible. So, they exist just to define the areas of concentration. It is not to say that geographically, they share similarities. It is certainly not. Mr Speaker, so, with that, I guess we all appreciate the point of coming together to support this noble objective. This is because, all said and done, every Hon Member who has contributed has ended up saying that this is a noble concept, and we should all support it. So, I urge Hon Colleagues to come together to support this. Mr Speaker, I thank you very much for the space granted me. Question put and Motion agreed to. The Middle Belt Development Bill, 2017 was accordingly read a Second time.
Hon Members, it is 4.18 p.m. and I think at this juncture, we can bring proceedings to an end.
The House was adjourned at 4.18 p.m. till Friday, 6th October, 2017 at 12.00 noon.