MR FIRST DEPUTY SPEAKER
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity. Mr Speaker, I beg to associate myself with the Statement ably made by my Hon Colleague congratulating teachers for their hard work and dedication. On this day, we celebrate and salute them and we pray that, they would give off their best so that our young ones would learn from them and become responsible citizens in future. It is trite that a young child gets to know the teacher after the parents. So, the teacher becomes the role model. As we shout praises on them today, I believe that it is necessary that we also highlight some of the bad tendencies that we see, especially in the rural areas. One would see a teacher going to the classroom heavily soaked in alcohol and sometimes, one wonders what kind of role models some of them are becoming to our children. We also see other people who may not necessarily want to be teachers. But, probably, because there is no job, they use that as a springboard and when they get other opportunities elsewhere, then they move. I believe that we should have a national consciousness on this matter so that we encourage people who really want to go and teach, so that they can give off their best. I can remember, as a young man in my village, some of the teachers who dedicated their lives beyond the classroom. They would even go to the houses of students or pupils to see if they were studying. Now, we do not see that. We know teaching is a profession. But I believe it goes beyond just being a profession to also being a vocation. So, we should do as much as possible as we can to get as many people who are dedicated to get into the teaching field. This is because I am sure that once the foundation is right, we can have a superstructure of good citizens in future. Mr Speaker, with these few words, I thank you for the opportunity.
Hon Member for Keta Constituency?
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to contribute to the Statement. In contributing to the Statement, I would like to use the opportunity to congratulate the Primary one (1) teacher Madam Faustina Cobson who was adjudged yesterday as the Overall National Best Teacher, 2017. Mr Speaker, I must say that the role of the teacher is crucial in the lives of every Ghanaian in that we all were at one point or the other tutored by a teacher. Many of us in this Chamber obviously have also taught before or are teachers. I am included. So, on a day like this, we need to commend and congratulate all of us who taught from the primary, secondary to the tertiary level. Mr Speaker, without the teacher, I do not believe that our nation can actually move in the direction that it ought to. Without a teacher, there cannot be nationhood; and without a teacher, there cannot be any advancement and development. The reason for which it is important and behoves us to hold a teacher in the highest esteem and for which there is need for us as a nation and people to do all we can to motivate teachers to give off their best. We know too well that in our country, for many years, we have lacked the needed infrastructure as it were, to really give the education sector the best that we ought to give it. But then many of the teachers have not been daunted. They have taken the challenge and in the many rural areas where they do not have the facilities, they still give off their best, the reason for which we always need to celebrate the teacher. I believe strongly that the education sector in our country is bedevilled with many challenges. It is not just today, but even the years past. Governments after governments have been doing all they can, as it were, to address these challenges. My conviction is that we need to do a lot more to give the teacher the necessary resources to really bring up the children or give them the needed foundation. This is because without the necessary foundation at the basic level, I am sure as they move on, they would not realise the needed capacities that are required of them and, obviously, the nation would not have the required human resource that it ought to have. Recent efforts being made within the education sector are apt. The free Senior High School (SHS) in itself is a good approach to addressing some of the challenges that we have. But we know too well that, it also has its own challenges. Moving forward, as a nation, there would be the need for us to look at how we can adopt an effective strategic approach to ensure that these things work in full so that at the end of the day, we would be churning out young people who are obviously effective human resource for this nation. In taking care of the school fees, et cetera, we must not leave the teachers out. We must give the teachers the necessary tools that are required to really perform and function effectively. Mr Speaker, I thank you.
Hon Minister? [Interruption.] Hon Members, if it is a Leader, I would come to them later but I thought that the Hon Deputy Minister for Education would want to make a contribution.
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to speak on this celebration of our teachers. I join the Hon Ranking Member of the Education Select Committee in commending our teachers for the work that they do every day. They are the unsung heroes of our nation, those whose names may not be mentioned in our history books but the individuals without whom this nation would not move forward.
Mr Speaker, the teaching profession is the most noble profession, a profession which provides the opportunity to pass on one's knowledge and ideas to those behind them. Teachers would forever be in our memories. Great teachers are the ones who showed us what to do, who inspired us to aspire for greatness, who told us that we could do great things and for those of us who came from families where our parents never went to school, these are the ones who showed us the way and told us that in spite of the challenges that we faced; that our parents could not read to us, they would read to us and in spite of the fact that our parents may not have known what the university was, they would pave the way for us and tell us what a university is. So, today, as an Hon Deputy Minister for Education, I speak on behalf of my Hon Minister and on behalf of the Government in commending our teachers for a great job done, commending our teachers for what they have sacrificed their lives to do for the benefit of our communities and for the benefit of our nation. As a teacher myself, I understand the vagaries and challenges of the profession. Mr Speaker, a teacher's work does not begin at 8.00 a.m and end at 3.00 p.m. or 4 p.m.; it is a 24-hour, seven days a week job. So, teachers think about their children all the time and they take the homework and they have to grade it, so that the next day, they would be able to help the students understand the concepts that they do not understand well the previous day. When teachers are on vacation, that is when they go to training so that they could equip themselves in readiness for the coming year. As part of the implementation of the free senior high school, we realised that not only should we focus on access but remove the greatest barrier which is cost. Of course, we have to look at facilities but we also have to remove access to thinking about quality and providing the necessary resources so that teachers could also do their job well; in terms of timely delivery of textbooks to schools so that teachers could do their work. Mr Speaker, at the basic school level, that was why we looked at the capitation grant and increased it to 100 per cent and ensured the timely disbursement of funds, so that teachers could get the teaching and learning materials that they need in order to instruct their students. On this occasion when we are giving the opportunity to celebrate the teacher, I can say that, it is their work that is moving this Government is committed to improving their lot under the leadership of the President so that they would take their rightful place in society. I know that there are comments about teacher licencing and these are things that we are moving in a very organised fashion to do, so that we do not in any way, impede the morale of teachers so we have to do it in such a way that they would know that, we are uplifting their image, so society could give them the respect that is due them. Mr Speaker, on this occasion, I just want to say that, this Government would do whatever is possible to ensure that the teaching profession is uplifted, that teachers have the right resources to teach and that they would be supported at every moment. This is because, without them, this nation cannot in any way move forward and do all the right things that we need to do. They are the ones who impart their ideas and knowledge to the next genera- tion of Ghanaians.
Mr Speaker, I also rise to associate myself with the Statement to congratulate teachers. It is a fact and all of us know that the role of teachers all over the world including Ghana is something that is very important and cannot be over-emphasised. We have all gone through the hands of teachers and those of us who are a bit older than the young ones, in those days, when one sees t one's teacher coming, the kind of respect that is given to teachers -- and sometimes, if one knows that one is doing something wrong, one has to hide so that, one's their teacher does not see. Mr Speaker, I think that that noble nature of the teaching profession is being eroded and there are a number of factors that contribute to that, some of which are come from the teachers themselves and leadership, in terms of all governments. First, teachers do not even have better environments to operate. Some of them teach under deplorable situations which demoralise them and make them wonder whether they should remain in that profession or not. All of us here as Hon Members of Parliament, sometimes, teachers approach us asking us to help them get a better job, which means that, they would want to leave the teaching profession and enter into another profession. Mr Speaker, if we provide better teaching and learning environment for our teachers, I believe that, with this, we can give them some kind of comfort and it would bring their minds home to avoid leaving the profession to go somewhere else. Another area is the supervision. These days, we do not have proper supervision of what teachers do. Some of them go to school at 9.00 a.m., 10.00 a.m. or even at 11 a.m. Now, we have children at those schools and if teachers go to school at 10.00 a.m. or 11 a.m., the lesson period is reduced and for that matter, what the children are supposed to receive that day in terms of the knowledge impartation would not be sufficient for them for the day. So, we also need to work on the supervision and this is the role of the Ministry. What would the Ministry of Education and for that matter, Ghana Education Service (GES) do to ensure that there is proper supervision of our teachers? After providing them with all the resources in terms of teaching and learning materials, good environment to operate, there must be supervision. I would want to agree with the Hon Member for Pusiga, Hon (Ms) Ayamba in terms of the over centralisation of the awards system. I looked into the newspapers this morning and I saw a lady being awarded the best teacher. In the entire nation, how many teachers do we have? Thousands of teachers and in the whole year, it is only one teacher that is selected. If I am a teacher, how long would it take to get to my turn to be the best teacher?
Mr Speaker, I also rise to lend my voice of support to the Statement ably made by our Hon Colleague, Hon Peter Nortsu-Kotoe. Mr Speaker, this is a day that has been set aside to recognise the contribution of teachers to the sustenance of economies in the world. We must commend teachers for bringing illumination to societies across the world. We all do appreciate what teachers have been doing to propel the systems that we have in the country. All professions and vocations have to be nurtured by teachers and I agree with my Hon Colleagues who have spoken ahead of me that, while recognising teachers and commending their efforts and showing gratitude to them for the sacrifices that they have offered and keep offering, we must also look at sanitising the physical environment that they operate in. Mr Speaker, year in, year out and indeed, in each Meeting, Hon Members come and file Questions relating to the physical conditions of classrooms that the teachers operate in. Mr Speaker, I believe that the time has come for us to dedicate certain years to rehabilitate the schools that we have in the system. We are adding to the stock by the route of Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund) to build more classrooms, yet those that have existed 20 years or 30 years ago are in a state of near- collapse. I believe that the time has come for us to have a rethink and dedicate maybe a year out of four years, the amount that we allocate to GETFund to rehabilitate the schools. We just need a system of protecting the walls; we should have wall protection schemes and roof protection schemes for them and we would be able to save many of these schools from collapsing and make the environment more learning-friendly and teaching- friendly. Mr Speaker, another issue that should also concern us which my Hon Colleagues have alluded to, is the salaries of teachers. I believe that as a nation, we should re- determine our national priority and position the teachers at an appreciable level. Mr Speaker, not until we come to that determination or consensus as a nation, we shall always be listening to tales about the agony of teachers. In Canada, they have determined that teachers should occupy the centre stage in their public service. So, in Canada, the salary of teachers is very appreciable and many people would want to go into the teaching field. Mr Speaker, I believe that in Ghana, we should come to some determination on this. I agree with Hon Hajia Laadi Ayamba that by way of further motivating teachers -- just like it is done for our farmers where recognition of their efforts start from the districts -- firstly, we should recognise best teachers in the districts every year and that would lead up to the national level where a reward would be given to the national best teacher. Mr Speaker, they should go through the ladder and every teacher in any district who puts in recognisable efforts and who by demonstrable competence is able to prove to his or her peers and the heads of the institution that he or she is one to be emulated, would be given the necessary recognition. Mr Speaker, while at this, we must also relate to the pension allowance of teachers, which is nothing to write home about. I believe that we should interrogate the issues. A person offers his service to the nation for 40 years, 45 years, and in some cases, close to 50 years and he goes home, having nurtured maybe over 20,000 pupils in the nation throughout his career, and at the end of that period, we give him GH¢300.00 and even GH¢200.00 in some cases. What is the person required to do with that? Mr Speaker, so, we must interrogate these matters if we want to encourage teachers to be retained in the classrooms to offer their best to the children of Ghana. Mr Speaker, classroom sizes are increasing and these days we are entrusting more responsibilities to the teachers than it used to be, and that is why their concern should be our concern. Mr Speaker, I guess that we should also interrogate the fact that, if we leave the big cities and go to the countryside, we have very few teachers -- Yesterday on my way to Parliament, I was listening to a programme which related to a particular classroom at a particular location where one teacher was made to handle three classrooms. Mr Speaker, I believe that as a nation, we should delve deeper into this. This is because there are about 236,000 teachers in the system who are supposed to be teaching about six million pupils. A simple arithmetic would suggest that, one teacher should not handle more than 25 pupils. Yet we know that in so many places the teachers handle more than 50, 60 and 70 pupils. What is happening? Is it the case that we are not getting the figures right or our statistics are faulty? Otherwise, if we have six million pupils and we have 236,000 teachers in the system, then on the average, a teacher should not handle more than 24 pupils or 25 pupils in a class. So, what is happening, such that so many classrooms do not have teachers? The Ministry for Education would need to conduct further investigations into this to let us know what is really causing this. Mr Speaker, the issue about licensing of teachers appears to be causing some disquiet; but let us face it; teaching is a profession. Pharmacists are trained and they have to be licensed to be able to practise. Medical officers are trained and they have to be licensed; lawyers are trained, they have to be licensed; engineers, planners, architects -- all these professions after they are trained may have to be given licences. So, if we recognise teaching as a profession, then why are people kicking against licensing teachers. I agree that if we would have to confront 236,000 teachers and apply licences to them at one go, it may be difficult. How do we stagger it? So, it is
Well, on this occasion, the Speakership joins the House in congratulating all teachers. Probably, it is right to recognise my own teachers -- three of them who taught me in primary school are still alive; Ms Kate Anokye taught me at class one in 1967, Ms Atakorah taught me in class three and class five; and Mr Sebastian Dabo, who is still a polling station chairman in my constituency, taught me in primary six during 1972 or 1973. Hon Members, at the commencement of Public Business -- Presentation of Papers. Hon Majority Leader, I have the Report of the Auditor-General on the Accounts of District Assemblies for the financial year ended 31st December, 2016 ready.
Mr Speaker, I believe we could deal with item numbered 6 (a) and (b) (i) on the Order Paper then, we could move to the item numbered as 13 on the Order Paper.
Very well. Item numbered 6 (a) (i)?
Item numbered 6 (b) (ii)?
Mr Speaker, that one could not be taken today. Perhaps, it would be taken on Tuesday or Wednesday of the ensuing week, just like the item numbered as 6(c). Item 6(c) would also not be taken today.
Very well. We could then move to item numbered 13. Item numbered 13 on the Order Paper -- Motion. Chairman of the Committee?
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that notwithstanding the provisions of Standing Order 80(1) which require that no Motion shall be debated until at least forty-eight hours have elapsed between the date on which notice of the Motion is given and the date on which the Motion is moved, the Motion for the adoption of the Report of the Finance Committee 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 may be moved today.
Item numbered 14 on the Order Paper. Chairman of the Committee? Waiver of Import Duties, Import VAT etc. in respect of the 400MW Combined Cycle Gas Turbine Power Plant in Tema
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that this Honourable House adopts the 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. Introduction 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 was laid in Parliament on Tuesday, 3rd October 2017. Pursuant to article 103 of the 1992 Constitution and Order 169 of the Standing Orders of the House, the Request was referred to the Finance Committee for consideration and report to the House. The Committee met and considered the Request with the Deputy Minister for Finance, Hon Kwaku Kwarteng and officials from the Ministry of Finance as well as the Ghana Revenue Authority. The Committee is grateful to the Hon Deputy Minister and the officials from the Ministry of Finance and the Ghana Revenue Authority for attending upon the Committee.
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Any seconder? Yes, Hon Member for Sekyere Afram Plains?
Yes, Hon Member for Ofoase Ayirebi?
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity. I rise to speak in support of the Motion that, this House adopts the Report of your Committee. In doing so, I would want to draw the House's attention to paragraph 4.7 of the Report, which deals with the impact of exemptions or waivers. Mr Speaker, the exemptions we are talking about is US$92,406,226.88; in Ghana Cedi terms, that will be about GH¢404 million. It is not the first time we are asking for a tax waiver in this House in connection with a project being done for Government; it will not be the last. This is because we always make the argument that these tax waivers when granted, have the potential to increase Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), they make projects cost lower, therefore the final price is lower to the consumer at the end.
Mr Speaker, two critical things that the Committee reminded the Ministry of are -- one, as we move along and in the near future, the application for tax waivers should be backed with some more detailed comparative cost analysis. This is because the general economic argument needs to be tested. The other matter is a scenario where, even when these waivers are granted under the umbrella that we will get some benefits at the end, very little work is done post the project to determine whether or not these benefits have accrued to the State. Mr Speaker, but it was exciting to hear from the Hon Deputy Minister for Finance that, Government is starting an exercise to find hard numbers to prove to us whether these potential revenues that we give away lead to the benefit that we claim we will get at the end of the day. We look forward to such Reports being made available to this House in future. With this, Mr Speaker, I support the Motion. Thank you.
Yes, Hon Member for Tamale Central?
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for this opportunity to add my voice to the Report so laid by your Committee on Finance, and to support the conclusions of the Committee. Mr Speaker, as the Hon Member who just spoke said, it is important for us to look at the cost-benefit effect of tax waivers. This project is a 400MW combined cycle gas turbine power plant. It means that the plant itself has a capacity to produce 200MW, but when the heat is trapped and taken through a steam installation, another 200MW is produced. If the plant were a single cycle one, it would be doing 200MW. Mr Speaker, is this the 200MW that we are paying or we are waiving the tax for? If the initial capacity of the plant was 200MW, then when combined it becomes 400MW; so what percentage of the tax waiver goes to the initial plant? Mr Speaker, I have also looked at the attachments. We have not attached to the Report a verifiable computation by the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) on tax payable by the company, which becomes the basis for the tax waiver. What has probably happened is the company sitting down with the Ministry of Finance and telling them exactly what they will bring into the country, the tax payable on those items, computing the amounts of money and coming to us for tax waivers. The consolation I have is that, the Ministry of Finance assured us through the Hon Chairman of the Committee that a comprehensive study of the tax waiver regime will be done in order to assure the country that, we get the appropriate value. Mr Speaker, why do we waive taxes? We do so because, if we do not, the cost of power would go up and the taxes would be passed on to the consumer. Why do we go for combined cycles? We believe that, when we use the same fuel to power the plants and trap the heat, the cost of production would go down. In this case, Mr Speaker, we are not able to tell what would be the unit cost of power in view of the combined cycle and the tax waiver. So, we need, as a Parliament, to take a critical stand on this matter. Indeed, US$92,406,226.88 is huge money.
Yes, Hon Member?
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I would want to support the Motion on the floor of the House on the exemption of the tax to EPL. Mr Speaker, we seek to grant a tax waiver of up to US$92,406,226.88. Mr Speaker, these days of many social interventions in this country, under the Government of His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo, this US$92,406,226.88 is quite a huge sum, and as the Hon Colleague on the other Side of the House said, it could help or go a long way to pay the bill for the free senior high school policy introduced by the Government. Mr Speaker, in supporting the Motion, I would want to call the attention of the House to the fact that often when such waivers are granted, the companies tend to have assets without paying any taxes on them. Mr Speaker, I hope that with the current regime of paperless system at our ports, we are able to track assets, so that after the implementation of this project, if this asset happens to change hands or get into other entities who do not qualify for these tax waivers, we would then get the opportunity to be able to recoup some components of this exemption into the Government's coffers. Mr Speaker, with these few words, I would want to support the Motion. Mr Speaker, thank you very much for the opportunity.
I would want to listen to members of the Finance Committee. Yes, Hon Kpodo?
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity. Mr Speaker, I would also want to add my voice in support of the request of waiver of the duties, the VAT and the levies on this project amounting to US$92,406,226.88, which is over GH¢450 million. Mr Speaker, I am rather surprised that the new Government has brought a request for a waiver of taxes. This is because in the most recent past, this was vehemently objected to and described as a loss of revenue to the country.
Hon Kpodo, are you a member of the Committee?
Did you ask those questions there?
Yes, Mr Speaker.
So, in the Report, is it reflected that they did not show which figures have been reduced?
Mr Speaker, we even asked that details should be provided, but we have areas that are still grey in the documents used to support the request. Mr Speaker, an Hon Colleague has already made reference to the fact that they always bring us estimates, but we never got the actuals after the approval; so, we really do not know whether these estimates are realistic. Mr Speaker, when one says that he or she is bringing a particular good down at, let us say, GH¢ 100 million and therefore should be given a waiver of 10 per cent, I would want to ask that at the time that the good lands, would it really be GH¢ 100 million? This is what as a Committee, we should ask from time to time. We should impose this duty on the Hon Minister for Finance to be reporting to us through the GRA. Mr Speaker, I am further very worried that when people come to do business here, we give them so much concession. If these were a grant from a foreign donor, a foreign country or body that we should go and do social intervention project, when we get the waiver, it would be useful; but when people are bringing business projects into the country and we give them so much latitude, but we do not even follow up to find out whether the granting of the tax waivers actually result in reduced prices or cost to us, I believe that we should hold a different opinion as to whether these waivers are necessary. Mr Speaker, I would like to suggest that going forward, we should examine the request for waivers to see whether they are business projects or social intervention projects. Mr Speaker, if the are social inter- vention projects, then there is no problem. This is because it would reduce cost for the donor who is coming to help us, but if
Hon Minority Leadership, would you want to contribute? The Minority Leadership should go first.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I rise to support the Motion for the House to approve the waiver of US$92,406,226.88 for the Early Power Project, which is about a 400 megawatts combined cycle project. Mr Speaker, I support this Motion because at the time that the Agreement was approved in Parliament in 2016 and at the time that the Finance Committee considered the Agreement, we at that point realised that the investor to produce the power and sell to Government, or the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) is a businessman, and not a Father Christmas, who is investing cost into that business with the motive of making returns. So, in order for this businessman to make some returns on his money, if he buys the equipment and brings them to Ghana to install and produce the power, he would have to sell it at the price that would make him recover his cost and make profit. So, Mr Speaker, the cost of the purchase of the equipment, the cost of transporting the equipment to Ghana, the cost of installation and the cost of any tax or duty that would be paid on that equipment would all be factored into the pricing of the power that businessman would generate. So, at that time, considering that if we allow or ask this businessman to pay the duty, he as a businessman would price the power, which would be expensive for the final consumer. That was the reason the Government decided that it should waive the tax, so that the businessman can sell the power at the price that can be affordable to the final consumer. Mr Speaker, there were a number of people all over who always stood against the Government's grant of exemptions.
Hon Deputy Majority Whip?
Mr Speaker, the businessman does not price the power; it is the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) that prices the power.
Very well, thank you for the clarification.
Mr Speaker, I do not know what the Hon Deputy Majority Whip talked about. I do not want to go into that angle. Mr Speaker, I say this because one of these people who were always against Government's grant of exemption -- I am surprised. Well, I am not surprised because the reality has dawned on the Hon Deputy Minister for Finance, my good Friend, Hon Kwaku Kwarteng, who was always against Government granting exemptions. [Interruption.] Yes, always.
Yes, Mr Speaker.
So, please, abide by the rules. Do not generate needless controversy.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I mentioned his name because of the quotes in the Report. Mr Speaker, I beg to read, with your kind permission: “To this, the Deputy Minister for Finance, Hon Kwaku Kwarteng explained that with the support of the DFID, Government was auditing the various exemptions and waivers granted in the system to help establish the true cost/benefit of these exemptions. He said a consultant was in the process of being procured to help with the audit.” What is the purpose of this audit? They would want to establish the cost and benefit. If he was one of the people who knew that it was not good to grant exemptions, this is a simple matter. Government should take a decision -- no exemption, and the cost of the duty should be paid by the investor; he should add the cost and use that one in determining the price at which he would sell the power. It is simple. Why do they want to go and study the cost and benefit profile to inform them to do what? Mr Speaker, this is simple. There is nothing like cost/benefit analysis being done here. I say that we will not come to any conclusion on this. It is something that requires that a decision must be taken by governments that they would not allow exemptions any longer. Investors should add the duty as part of the cost to determine the price to sell the product, so that we all buy at that high price. There is nothing like going back to do another study again. How long will the study take? They are now in the process of procuring a consultant to audit that.
Hon Member, please, return to the Report.
Mr Speaker, I believe this is a simple thing. I support it because I know granting these exemptions would allow Ghanaians to buy the power at the price that can be affordable. That is the reason I support this. I thank you, Mr Speaker.
Hon Majority Leader, the Hon Deputy Minister wants to conclude, but or if you would want to contribute, then the Hon Chairman and the Hon Deputy Minister would decide which of them would do the conclusion. Hon Majority Leader, I would hear you now.
Mr Speaker, the issue before us is the request for waiver of Import Duties, Import VAT, EXIM Levy, ECOWAS and other approved inputs including VAT amounting to Ghana cedi equivalent of US$ 92,406,226.88 on the direct EPC cost in respect of the 400 megawatts combined cycle gas turbine power plant in Tema by Early Power Limited. Mr Speaker, yesterday at the Committee level, I asked a question which was answered by the Hon Deputy Minister for Finance with respect to the capacity of this plant. Mr Speaker, figures that have come before us keep changing. In one breath, it is 400 megawatts; in another, it is 406 megawatts. The Hon Deputy Minister assured us that, what has come before the Ministry is 400 megawatts; but several times several figures came to us. Mr Speaker, if we look through the document, in the Agreement itself, at various places, it is either 400 megawatts or 406 megawatts. It is important that we are clear in our minds as to what we are doing. Is it a 406 megawatts or 400 megawatts plant that we are dealing with? This is because six megawatts is quite substantial. Even one megawatt is quite substantial; so it is important that we get it very clear. The Hon Deputy Minister has indicated to us, but I believe that it is the Hon Minister responsible for Energy who should tell us exactly what we are doing. Otherwise, if it is 406 megawatts and it ends up at 400 megawatts, the nation would be short changed by six megawatts. So we need to get it very clear. As I said, even in the Agreement, they kept quoting either 400 megawatts or 406 megawatts. Mr Speaker, undoubtedly, US$92.4 million is quite a huge figure. Hon Oppong-Nkrumah did a little arithmetic, and he indicated to us that it translates into over US$400 million, which means in our old currency cedis, it is over ¢4 trillion. That is a humongous figure; it is a huge figure. Mr Speaker, I shudder to think of what ¢4 trillion could do for us, but the issue that has been raised by some Hon Colleagues is critical. What is it meant to do? What it is meant to do is to reduce the overall cost of production. Mr Speaker, on the face of it, if the waiver is not granted, the cost of production would escalate by that same figure. That is over US$92.4 million. As the Hon Deputy Minority Leader indicated, these investors are not “father Christmases”. They want to have their investments back and make margins. So if we add on, the cost certainly is going to escalate. What we have not done as a nation is to do the analysis of if we waive the tax off these duties, what effect do they have on the tariff structure coming from that producer? We have not done that calculation. If we add on, how much would translate to tariff builder? We have not done that. So, I believe it is time we put our mind on that, see the positives and the negatives and whether to continue or not. Mr Speaker, I raised an issue yesterday at the Committee level that we should have a checklist of what the US$92.4 million would affect: movables and immovables. Many times, these apply more to movables; to the purchase of vehicles, of tools that could be dispensed off once the construction is finished. What becomes of those movables? We are not in a position to trace and track them they get missing in the system, and the nation loses out. So, assuming that we spent about US$40 million on these items and we require to have that duty of about US$40million, we lose out. Just yesterday we were looking for a loan facility of EU8 million but we would lose out on US$40 million or US$50 million. So, it is important for us as a nation, while we are doing this, to establish a mechanism to determine what becomes of the waivers. What becomes of the items
Yes, Hon Minister? Hon Deputy Minister for Finance (Mr Kweku Agyeman Kwarteng)(MP): Thank you, Mr Speaker. On behalf of the Ministry, I have taken note of the points that have been made and the concerns that have been expressed. We would take these into account as we administer exemptions, not just in respect of this particular exemption, but other exemptions as well. I particularly note the point the Hon Majority Leader has raised, that we ought to keep track on items, that we give these exemptions, so that when the projects have to come to conclusion, we would be able to ensure that the taxes that were exempted are now paid because it would move into the hands of non-exemption holders. We are grateful for these points and we would take them into account as we administer these exemptions. Mr Speaker, I have also noted the point made about positions taken on exemptions in the past and those positions being changed now. I particularly refer to the points made by Hon Kpodo and Hon Avedzi. Mr Speaker, this sounds like the proverbial Kweku Ananse, who goes upstream of the river to pollute it and then comes downstream to ask, who caused this pollution? In August, 2016, there was an Agreement signed between the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Government and Early Power in which agreement these exemptions were granted and Parliament passed those exemptions. We have come because we need to determine the ceilings, and also, in compliance with article 174 of the Constitution, Parliament would need to pass a Resolution to back these exemptions. I think it is unfair to put it mildly for our Hon Colleagues to pretend that somehow, this is some fresh request being brought by people who in the past have disagreed with these exemptions. Please take note, we are only compelled to do this because we met an Agreement that had already committed Government into doing this. This proverbial Kweku Ananse attitude, must in future not be introduced into parliamentary dis- cussions. Mr Speaker, we have also noted the concerns raised about the cost benefit of these exemptions. It is correct that many of us in the past had reservations about some of the exemptions in the economy. It is the reason we, with the support of the DFIE, are taking steps to do a comprehensive study of the impact of exemptions on the economy and to take responsive policies depending on what comes out. Mr Speaker, I would like my Hon Colleagues again to remember that government policy must be premised on scientific basis. The invitation to this Administration to premise Government policy on the position of the Hon Deputy Minister, who formally was a Member of Parliament, is not right and perhaps, it is the tendency to administer Government policy this way which led to the many problems we had in our economy and the previous Administration. We are doing this study, and I have my own reservations about these exemptions in the economy. On this occasion, we have been compelled to come here because we were committed by the NDC Administration of yesterday, and as I indicated, Mr Speaker, once the study is over, Government would take clear steps to ensure that the concerns about exemptions have been once and for all addressed. I thank you, Mr Speaker. Question put and Motion agreed to.
Hon Minister, you may now move the Motion for the adoption of the Resolution - item numbered 15.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that WHEREAS by the provisions of article 174 (2) of the Consti- tution, Parliament is empowered to confer power on any person or authority to waive or vary a tax imposed by an Act of Parliament; THE EXERCISE of any power conferred on any person or authority to waive or vary a tax in favour of any person or authority is by the said provisions made subject to the prior approval of Parliament by resolution; BY THE COMBINED operation of the provisions of section 150 (i) of the Customs Act of 2015, (Act 891), the Export and Import Act, 1995 (Act 503), the Export Trade, Agricultural and Industrial Fund Act, 2013 (Act 872), the Value Added Tax Act, 2013 (Act 870), the Value Added Tax (Amendment) Act, 2015 (Act 890), the Value Added Tax (Amendment) Act, 2017 (Act 948) and other existing Laws and Regulations applicable to the collection of Customs duties and other taxes on the importation of goods into Ghana, the Minister for Finance may exempt any statutory corporation, institution or individual from the payment of duties and taxes otherwise payable under the said Laws and Regulations or waive or vary the requirement of such statutory corporation, institution or individual to pay such duties and taxes; IN ACCORDANCE with the provisions of the Constitution and at the request of the Government of Ghana, acting through the Minister responsible for Finance, there has been laid before Parliament a request by the Minister for Finance for the prior approval of Parliament, the exercise by him of his power under the Laws and Regulations relating to the waiver of 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. NOW THEREFORE, this Honoura- ble House hereby approves the exercise by the Minister responsible for Finance of the power granted to him by Parliament by Statute to waive such Import Duties, Import VAT, EXIM Levy, ECOWAS Levy, and other approved imposts in- cluding 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 400 MW Combined Cycle Gas Turbine Power Plant in Tema by Early Power Limited.
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion. Question put and Motion agreed to.
Mr Speaker, if we could take item numbered 16 on page 7 of today's Order Paper.
Item numbered 16. Hon Majority Leader and Minister for Parliamentary Affairs?
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that this Honourable House constitutes an Ad Hoc Committee composed of the following Hon Members to recommend to Parliament the appointment of an Auditor to audit the accounts of the Office of the Auditor-General: 1. Hon Sarah Adwoa Safo (Ms) -- Chairperson 2. Hon James Klutse Avedzi -- Member 3. Hon Kofi Okyere-Agyekum -- Member
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion.
Yes, Hon Member for Tamale Central?
Mr Speaker, what has arisen to cause the formation of a Committee to recommend an Auditor to audit the accounts of the Office of the Auditor-General? My reservation and concern is that, it is not the practice of this House to make Ministers of State, chairmen of parliamentary Committees. I know conventions are conventions but there are deep seated conventions that are not broken lightly. Why? A Minister of State has been chosen as chairperson of a Committee to search for an Auditor to audit the accounts of the Office of the Auditor- General when there are members on the Majority side who are capable, willing and not committed to any Executive office to chair this Committee is my concern?
Hon Majority Leader, would you like to comment on the issue he has raised?
Mr Speaker, we want to procure the services of an Auditor to audit the accounts of the Office of the Auditor-General. Who better could we fall on than the Minister in charge of procurement, since we are procuring the services of an Auditor? That is supposed to be in a lighter vein. A Minister who is a Member of Parliament (MP) is an MP first, which requires the person to serve on Committees. I agree that we are developing a convention where Hon Minsters may not chair Committees of the House. This is an Ad Hoc Committee and I believe we could live with that. They are just to work for two or three days and make recommendations to us. It is for this House to accept or not to accept. Mr Speaker, I believe with that, since I saw my Hon Colleague nodding profusely, I guess he is not only convinced but persuaded by what I said. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, for the records, I must state that when it came to doing this, I completely surrendered to the Deputy Minority Leader. I asked him to compose it on behalf of the House. So, this list is coming from him and not me. If Hon Members think that we have to make changes, I do not mind. If just to support the convention, Hon Members think that Hon Safo should be changed, we could perhaps have the Hon Majority Chief Whip as the chair of that body. We were looking at equivalences and we did not want the Chief Whip superintending over a Deputy Leader. That is why the proposal came from him and I agreed. However, if we think that we should recompose, it is entirely within our remit.
Hon Majority Leader, on the Order Paper before me, it is your document. You may have used the Hon Minority Leader to compose for your approval, but it is your document.
Mr Speaker, it is the document of the Leader of the House. So, what has been captured here is wrong. It is not the Majority Leader's document, but that of the Leader of the House, for the avoidance of doubt.
Who is the Leader of the House? [Laughter.]
Mr Speaker, for the time being, it is the Majority Leader. [Laughter.]
Thank you, Mr Speaker. I am looking at the composition and the issue which is at stake. In matters of public accounts and audit, we defer to the Minority side to rather chair, just as we have in the Public Accounts Committee. We could retain the members, but I suggest we adopt the same convention where the Minority chairs issues of audit. This is so that Hon James K. Avedzi becomes the Chairperson and then the Hon Deputy Majority Leader becomes a member. If we want to take her out completely, then if the Hon Deputy Minority Leader is chairperson, it could create space for the Majority Chief Whip to become a member in place of the Hon Minister in charge of procurement.
Mr Speaker, respectfully, this task is just putting together a group and so, it does not involve any auditing. So, I do not know what my Hon Colleague is talking about. Question put and Motion agreed to.
Hon Majority Leader, that takes the last item on the Order Paper, and we are in your hands.
Mr Speaker, today is a Friday and the Committee --
Hon Majority Leader, kindly tarry a while. The Hon Members of the Committee are: Hon Sarah Adwoa Safo -- Chairperson Hon James Klutse Avedzi -- Member Hon Kofi Okyere-Agyekum -- Member. Hon Majority Leader, you may continue. Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu Mr Speaker, the Motion listed as item numbered 7, is a Motion that has some urgency. We tried to take it on Wednesday, but we could not because they needed to do some engagement and so, since it is non- controversial -- if we may deal with that -- and I believe we should be able to finish with it in the next 10 minutes and conclude the day's Business with that.
Hon Majority Leader, which Motion?
Mr Speaker, it is Motion listed as item numbered 7 on page 3 of the Order Paper.
Hon Minority Chief Whip?
Hon Majority Leader? Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu Mr Speaker, I am seeing sufficient numbers and the Hon Minority Chief Whip is not seeing sufficient numbers. I do not want us to go into who is right and who is wrong.
Hon Majority Leader, I am seeing what the Hon Minority Chief Whip is seeing. I am not sure which of us has the optical illusion now, but -- [Laughter] -- I would await your Motion.
Mr Speaker, in that case, I beg to move that this House takes an adjournment until Tuesday, next week at 12.00 noon.
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion.
Very well. Question put and Motion agreed to.
The House was accordingly adjourned at 3.41 p.m. till Tuesday, 10th October, 2017 at 12.00 noon.