MR FIRST DEPUTY SPEAKER
VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS AND THE OFFICIAL REPORT
Hon Members, Correction of the Votes and Proceedings of Friday, 3rd November, 2017. Page 1 -- Mr Kwame Governs Agbodza -- rose
Yes, Hon Member for Adaklu?
Mr Speaker, last week, I drew your attention to something on the Votes and Proceedings. Item numbered 1 reads that the House met at a certain time, prayers were said and the Rt Hon Speaker took the Chair. Mr Speaker always takes the Chair before the prayers. So, I would want to know why it is always reported this way. Is there any reason it is reported that the prayers were said before the Rt Hon Speaker took the Chair? I just want your guidance.
I wish the Hon Leaders were here. I have been a Member of Parliament for eight years; this is my ninth year, and this has always been how it is recorded and reported. This is our House. If we want the recording to change, we are capable. I would have loved to hear from the Hon Leaders and senior Hon Members why this approach was adopted and if there is any need to change it. But the point is well noted. It would be discussed further. Pages 2…15
Yes, Hon Member?
Mr Speaker, permit me to bring you back to page 13. Mr Speaker, the Public Accounts Committee met on 1st November, 2017. On Page 13 (xi), Mr Kingsley Aboagye-Gyedu, a member of the Committee was present. Under item numbered 3 (iii), we have Mr Kingsley Aboagye-Gyedu, Hon MP and Deputy Minister for Health. Mr Speaker, what happened was that even though the Hon Member is a member of the Committee, the day in question, he came as an Hon Deputy Minister leading the team from the Ministry of Health and the Ghana Health Service. So, his name should not appear under “Members Present”, but should be under “In Attendance”.
Very complicated arrangement. He is a member of the Committee. He was present; and at the same time, he led his Ministry. I think he has been captured twice. He could not have been there as a member and also in attendance. So, the Table Office should take note. Page 17 --
Yes, Hon Majority Chief Whip?
Mr Speaker, I am sorry to take you back to page 15, item numbered li; Mr Joseph Drane, is it Biakoye District Hospital or? I cannot even pronounce the word there “ “Biailoye District Hospital”. I do not think there is any town or district by that name.
Very well, “Biakoye”. Page 18 -- 21. Hon Members, the Votes and Proceedings of Friday, 3rd November, 2017 as corrected is hereby adopted as the true record of proceedings of that day.
Hon Members, we also have the Official Report of Thursday, 26th October, 2017.
Yes, Hon Member for Adentan?
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I rise to make a few corrections in the Official Report of the 26th October, 2017. Column 1381, line 2, my name should be “Buaben” instead of “Boaben”. The amendment to the name w o u ld also affect lines 9 and 12 of the same column consequentially. Mr Speaker, also in column 1382, line 11, and the word is “vacilitated” instead of “f” it should be a “v”. Mr Speaker, column 1385, line 3, instead of “the” it should be “their.” In the same column, line 33, “doubt” should be inserted after “any.” So, the sentence would read “. . . I do not believe there is any doubt this office…” Mr Speaker, column 1386, line 4, instead of “bone” it should be “bane”. Thank you very much for the opportunity.
Very well. Any more corrections?
Yes, Hon Member for North Tongu?
I am most grateful, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I would like to draw your attention to the last paragraph of column 1334, Question 163. “Mr Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and...” “Regional Integration” is missing, so we just have “Minister for Foreign Affairs and…” and the Question follows. It does not appear correctly. Could we fill that vacuum? Please, insert “Regional Integration” after “and”.
Yes Hon Members, anymore?
Yes, Hon Member for South Dayi?
Mr Speaker, may I draw your attention to column 1392, line 5: “Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to contribute towards the debate as well as support the Motion…” Mr Speaker, it should be “in respect of the Report”. and not “…. and the Report”.
Mr Speaker, the first paragraph of column 1392.
What is the correction?
Mr Speaker, “… in respect of the Report from the Committee.”
“…Motion and the Report from the Committee.”
Mr Speaker, it should not be so.
It should be “…in respect of the Report from the Committee.” Very well. Any more corrections? Hon Members, the Official Report of Thursday, 26th October, 2017 --
Yes, Hon Member for Aowin?
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, something unimaginable happened when I was entering the precincts of Parliament this morning.
Hon Member, could we finish and adopt it as the true proceedings of --
Mr Speaker, I thought we had finished with the Official Report.
I was pronouncing my -- then I saw you and so I thought you wanted to say something in respect of the Official Report. Very well-- Hon Members, the Official Report of Thursday, 26th October, 2017 as corrected, is hereby adopted as the true record of proceedings of the House. Yes, Hon Member for Aowin, I would hear you now.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. As I said, I normally entered Parliament through the eastern gate. When I got to the gate today, the road had been blocked. I was told there was a movie shoot going on. Mr Speaker, I am very much concerned because this is the second Arm of the Government of the Republic of Ghana; Parliament of Ghana. If our roads would be blocked without any prior information, I think it is something that we would need to consider and, maybe, investigate to find out why it happened. Mr Speaker, now, we have only one gate as I speak. In case of any eventuality, where do we go? Maybe, you have not been informed. I am putting it before you and this august House, that this morning, the eastern gate was blocked, and we need explanation. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Hon Member, shall we be guided? Under which Standing Order are you bringing this one? I do not know I have been reading Order 28, but I am not sure whether you allege a general contempt of Parliament or? What is the basis of your complaint? [Pause.] Yes, Hon Member, I would like to hear from you. After that I would come to Hon Assibey-Yeboah.
Mr Speaker, I raised this issue for the sake of the security of Hon Members of this House, and I am coming under Standing Order 72. Mr Speaker, this is a matter that concerns everyone, including your good- self. I know that normally you use that eastern gate, and imagine that the Rt. Hon Speaker is entering and the way has been blocked. I do not know what might happen to your goodself, and the rest of Hon Members. That is why I raised this concern this morning. Mr Speaker, I hope the Chair would take a very serious look at this event, so that a tangible and well-meaning explanation would be given on this issue.
Hon Leader, would you want to comment on the Standing Order under which the Hon Member came? I would give you the floor, but allow me to listen to Hon Dr Assibey-Yeboah.
Mr Speaker, I tried to catch your eye to raise the same concern. Mr Speaker, this is a House of order, and the Hon Member referred us to Standing Order 72. What is stated there is “complaints of contempt of Parliament”. Mr Speaker, having gone through the correction of the Votes and Proceedings, next on today's Order Paper would have been Questions, following which Statements -- Mr Speaker, if even the Hon Member had complaint of contempt of Parliament, which is not what he is doing -- All of us have been directed to use the main gate, but we have to use the proper forum to raise concerns. I believe that things must be done in an orderly manner, not that any Hon Member would just get up any time if he so wishes to raise issues. Mr Speaker, thank you.
Yes, Hon Minority Chief Whip?
Hon Members, I believe the main challenge is that Parliament is like -- we are here at the mercy of the State Protocol Department. The premises is owned by the State Protocol Department, and the part that has been ceded to Parliament to use is what we have control over. It is a challenge that I am aware of. It has come up for discussion in the House time and over again. Probably, this is the time to give speed to the Rt Hon Speaker's proposal to acquire our own premises and build our own, so that funerals and cinematography would not interfere with our work. However, the point is well noted. It appears that even if the owners would want to use the premises in such a way as it would interfere with the work and access to this place, then we should be given prior notice, so that Hon Members would be informed. I got to the entrance before I was directed to go and use the other gate. If I were in an emergency, I am sure that my situation or my safety would have been compromised as much as any Hon Member. So, it would come back to the Leaders and the Whips in particular. They should take the matter up with the State Protocol Department. Once we have been permitted to use this place, there should be regular communication when anything would be done that would interfere wth our free access. Thank you, Hon Member, for bringing it to our attention.
Hon Member, are you still on your feet on the same matter?
Mr Speaker, it is not on the same matter. Mr Speaker, I would want to draw the attention of the House, especially to my good Friend and Brother, the Hon Assibey-Yeboah, that we must not say we are safe because a policeman always sits in our car. We must not think that because a policeman sits in our cars, we are safe. Mr Speaker, therefore, my Hon Brother should take it easy and allow us to probe this issue.
Hon Member, you are totally out of order. Nobody disagrees with you as to the inconvenience and the danger that such unannounced blockades can pose to us, but the appropriate thing is that, the rule under which you came required you to have notified the Rt Hon Speaker before coming to -- I deliberately did not rule on that because the issue eventually is useful to all of us. So, do not push me to make a ruling that you are out of order. Thank you. Hon Members, item numbered 3 on the Order Paper -- Questions. Yes, Hon Minister for Education? Hon Members, Question numbered 77 by Hon Magnus Kofi Amoatey. Hon Member, you may please ask your Question.
ORAL ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS
MINISTRY OF EDUCATION
Yes, Hon Minister?
Mr Speaker, pre- construction activities are being carried out with the view of moving to site once the conditions precedent to both the financing and commercial agreements between Messrs Contracta Costruzioni Italia S.R.L and Government are fully met. The contract for the road works has been awarded, and work has started on the site clearing. Contracts for the buildings to be constructed with funding from the GETFund have also been awarded, but the contractors are yet to move to site. It is estimated that the main works to be undertaken by Messrs Contracta (The foreign contractor who signed the Commercial and Financing Contract Agreement with Government) should start by the end of December, 2017 and will be completed within 24 months.
Yes, Hon Member?
Mr Speaker, may I find out from the Hon Minister, what are some of the pre-construction activities he referred to in his first sentence?
Mr Speaker, one example is final drawings agreed for construction.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister gave me one example, but he said there are other pre-construction activities. At any rate, is there anything hindering the conditions precedent from being fully met, and what is the likelihood that these conditions precedent would be fully met by the end of December, 2017, as the Hon Minister indicated in his Answer?
Mr Speaker, I would want the Hon Member to listen clearly. I said the construction would start in December, 2017. It presupposes that conditions would have been met by then.
You have one more opportunity.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister, in his Answer, indicated that the site has been cleared for road construction, and the contract has been awarded for the GETFund aspect of the project to take off. Mr Speaker, may I find out from the Hon Minister what prevents the road construction works to go on since the site got cleared in December, 2016 and the contract for the construction of the GETFund aspect awarded way back in 2016?
Mr Speaker, I thought the Hon Member did not have information. It looks like he has even more information than my goodself, but he asks the same questions. Mr Speaker, the Hon Member asked me why the road contractor had not gone to site. Mr Speaker, the Hon Member knows very well that there was even a dispute on who constructs which part of the Somanya campus. That has been resolved. Actually, I believe the Hon Member is very well briefed to know that because the previous Government went into a contract with the South Koreans to construct the whole Somanya campus, which he is well aware of. Three days before handing over, His Excellency the President went there and cut the sod for the same construction by another firm -- another financing agreement. This has had to be worked out to the peaceful commencement of the job. [Interruption.] That is true. The Government of Ghana signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the South Korean EXIM Bank to construct “ and Hon Members of his Side who have been deeply involved know. We have taken pains not to let the South Koreans abandon the Somanya project. That is what this Government has done, and I have already answered the Question on this Floor of Parliament on that. So, the construction company has now accepted the part of the construction of the Somanya site, that goes to them. Delegations have gone there, final drawings have been agreed on, and like I said, in December, 2017, construction of the new Somanya campus would commence.
He said an MoU.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister, in his earlier statement, said a contract was signed between GoG and the South Koreans. Mr Speaker, I negotiated the loan agreement at the Ministry of Finance then, and it had nothing to do with contract; it was just a framework and not a contract. So, the Hon Minister should please confirm that position --
So, what is your Question?
Mr Speaker, the Ministry of Finance at the time only negotiated the loan agreement between the South Koreans and the Government. Mr Speaker, at the time, it was just a framework agreement. It is not a contract and cannot be interpreted as such. Mr Speaker, my Question is, could the Hon Minister please confirm that indeed there was a contract between GoG and the South Koreans?
Mr Speaker, I hope my Hon good Friend was not drawing me -- So, when he was at the Ministry of Finance and he initiated the loan agreement -- [Interruption.]
Answer the Question, Hon Minister.
Yes, I am answering the Question. When the Hon Member was at the Ministry of Finance and he negotiated a loan agreement which he claimed he signed -- Mr Speaker, that loan agreement was not signed for the sky; it was signed in lieu of the Government undergoing a certain project. He knows very well that the loan agreement he initialled “ and he visited South Korea two times” was for the construction of a Government project for the former Hon Minister for Finance's hometown in Somanya.
Order! Hon Minister, he may have asked the Question, but you are speaking to Ghanaians. Do not personalise it. Provide the information that is necessary. I beg you.
Mr Speaker, I speak to him as a former Hon Deputy Minister for Finance who transacted business on behalf of GoG which was, as he said, initialling a loan agreement. I say on a point of fact, that the loan agreement was not initialled in vacuum; the framework agreement he initialled was for the execution of the Somanya project, which we have renegotiated.
Mr Speaker, I am glad that it is clear now that there is no contract with the South Koreans as the Hon Minister has now clarified. My Question has to do with the second campus of this university. The facility that was approved by this House should cover two campuses. I would want to find out from the Hon Minister what the plans are for the second campus, and where would that second campus be?
It does not arise from the Answer.
The Question was “Somanya campus”. That was what the Question was --
The University for Environment and Sustainable Develop- ment --
Hon Member, please, can you resume your seat while I talk? The Question was “to ask the Minister for Education when construction works would start at the Somanya campus…” If you would want to ask a Question on the other campus, please file it. 11. 10 a. m.
Hon Member, the question has been asked and answered. Question number 78 -- Hon Robert Baba Kuganab-Lem, Binduri
You were sitting down. Very well, I will give you that.
Mr Speaker, I want to find out from the Hon Minister for Education when is the foreign contractor, which is actually an Italian company, going to do the construction of the main campus at Somanya and whether the contract includes the construction of the second campus. That contract which has been signed between the Government and the contractor, is it for only Somanya Campus or any other campus?
Hon Deputy Minority Leader, if you may be guided by Standing Order 69(1); “Supplementary questions must flow from the Answer”. The Question the Hon Minister answered was in respect of Somanya campus. If there are questions relating to any other campus, I think the appropriate thing is to file them.
Mr Speaker, there is a contract between Government of Ghana and the contractor he has mentioned here, that the foreign contractor who signed the commercial and financing agreement and contract agreement with Government should start work by the end of December, 2017. That contractor, who is going to start the construction of the campus at Somanya-- what does the contract entail? Is it only for Somanya campus or any other campus? Mr Speaker, it is flowing from his own Answer.
Hon Minister, well, if you want to provide any further information, but as far as I am concerned, your Answer was in respect of Somanya Campus. But if you --
Mr Speaker, as a Leader of the House, if he duly asks the Question, I would come and answer.
You are out of order, kindly resume your seat. Question numbered 78, standing in the name of Dr Robert Baba Kuganab-Lem, Hon Member for Binduri?
Question numbered 78? Then kindly resume your seat; I have called Question numbered 78.
Mr Speaker, I have been asked by Hon Dr Robert Kuganab- Lem, with Mr Speaker's permission, to ask the Question on his behalf. Splitting the UDS into three autonomous universities Q.78. Mr Ras Mubarak (on behalf of Dr Robert Baba Kuganab-Lem) asked the Minister for Education when Government would begin implementing the Cabinet decision of 2016 to split the University of Development Studies (UDS) into three autonomous universities located in the Upper East, Upper West and Northern Regions.
Mr Speaker, the simple Answer would have been, there was no Cabinet decision in 2016 to split the UDS. That would have been the truthful answer, and it is the truthful answer. Mr Speaker, Cabinet approval for the conversion of the University for Development Studies into three autonomous institutions was given on 4th January, 2017. However, following the change in administration and in line with the enactment process, a fresh policy approval will be submitted to Cabinet for consideration and onward submission of the Bills to Parliament through the Attorney General's Department to Parliament. The Ministry is working on all such Bills, including that of the University for Development Studies (UDS) for consideration by Parliament. Government will implement the decision when Parliament finally passes the Bill into law.
Mr Speaker, would Government follow through the request by the people of the Upper East and the Upper West regions for the splitting of the university? Would it follow through with that request to have autonomous universities?
Yes, Hon Minister?
Mr Speaker, precisely, what I said.
Mr Speaker-- [Pause]--
Are you done?
Mr Speaker, no. I did not quite get his answer and that is why I needed clarity from him whether they would follow through, and he has given an indication that Government would follow through, if that is my understanding.
Hon Minister, can you repeat your answer?
Mr Speaker, for emphasis, I said, there was no Cabinet decision in 2016 on the splitting of the UDS into three universities. Cabinet policy approval was on 4th January, 2017. It is on record. On 4th January, 2017, Cabinet approved and it was transmitted to the Ministry. Mr Speaker, I went on further to say that following the change in Administration and in line with the enactment process, a fresh policy approval would be submitted to Cabinet
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, from the Hon Minister's response, he indicated that Cabinet's approval for splitting the UDS into three autonomous institutions was given in January, 2017. I want to ask the Hon Minister, what defects are in this document which was approved in January, 2017 that he needs to present a fresh one to Cabinet for approval and subsequent processes?
Mr Speaker, I repeat, following the change in Administration and in line with the enactment process, even when Bills come to Parliament and they are not passed and Administration changes, they are all re-submitted and passed through the process. That is the process. And I am saying that in line with the enactment process, a fresh policy approval would be submitted to Cabinet for consideration and onward submission of the Bills that would arise out of them to Parliament for approval.
Mr Speaker, we understand the process of enactment. Obviously, it is a new Administration. But the Hon Minister for Education should be able to tell this House whether that proposal by the old Cabinet is something that would be implemented by this new Government. Can the Hon Minister tell us that the approval by the previous Administration would be implemented by this new Cabinet?
Mr Speaker, I cannot second guess Parliament, and Parliament is not a rubber stamp. Once the approval comes and the Bills are submitted to Parliament, it is for Parliament to decide whether to pass that Bill into legislation or not. Cabinet would do its best. Cabinet does policy but Parliament approves Government policy. It is only Parliament, and not Cabinet, that approves policy for the country. Once it gets here, it would be the House's decision to do so.
Mr Speaker, could the Hon Minister tell this House when a fresh policy approval would be submitted to Cabinet for consideration?
Mr Speaker, the policy approval is being worked on. We have got representations from some parts of those three constituent bodies that we should reconsider. The process? Would the Hon Member expect me to second guess Cabinet? I cannot second guess Cabinet and Parliament.
Hon Minister, when do you propose to send a new memorandum to Cabinet?
As soon as the consultation process is over.
Mr Speaker, in asking the Question, and with your permission, I would want to put on record that in 2016, Cabinet took a decision on the splitting of UDS that led to the constitution of the Amoako-Nuamah Committee which subsequently adopted the Report on 4th January, 2017. So, in 2016, there was a decision to initiate that process. I would like to ask the Hon Minister whether processes of consultation have commenced towards bringing this fresh policy, especially in respect of consulting the university since the university has given a position on that.
Mr Speaker, the process for the division of a university or the establishment of a university has different dimensions. The setting up of the Amoako- Nuamah Committee has nothing to do with Cabinet approval. [Interruption.] It is not. Would the Hon Member want to bring the proposal he talked about as Cabinet approval to us to observe? I doubt, it is not. The only time Cabinet took a decision was at the 4th January, 2016 meeting. The workings of Cabinet, including sub-committees and stakeholder meetings are not the decision of Cabinet and that is what he should understand. He was in Government and should not misinform Ghanaians. As soon as that process is complete, this House would be informed appropriately and we would work on the Bills.
Mr Speaker, there was never a Bill.
Leadership, would there be any follow-up questions? Very well. Question numbered 125, standing in the name of Hon Peter Nortsu-Kotoe, Member of Parliament for Akatsi North. Details of Free SHS Programme Q. 125. Mr Peter Nortsu-Kotoe asked the Minister for Education what the details of the free SHS programme to begin in September 2017 are.
Hon Member, I do not know whether this Question is still relevant in view of the public pronouncements, when the matter is already public knowledge. I admitted this Question before September. Anyway, let the Hon Minister provide the information that is already available.
Details of the Free SHS Programme that Ghanaians are already enjoying are as follows: Implementation of the Free SHS Programme commenced in the first term of the 2017/18 academic year with first year students in public senior high and technical/vocational institutions. All fees approved by the Ghana Education Services (GES) Council for 1st Year students, other than PTA dues, have been absorbed by Government. [Hear! Hear!!] This includes: 1. Fees payable once by 1st Year students such as Admission Fees, Maintenance Fees, Cumulative Records, Medical Examination Fees, 2 Sets of School Uniforms, 2 Sets of House Dress, School Cloth, P.E Kits, 9 Exercise books, 4 Note Books and 1 Supplementary Reader/3 Core English Literature Books. 2. All recurrent Fee Items such as Utilities, Examination fees, Library fees, Practical Fees, Entertainment Fees, Science Development, and Teacher Motivation have been fully absorbed. Mr Speaker, it does not end there;
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister took us through a poetry recital lesson in class six. Mr Speaker, under “Eligibility” on page 32 of the Hon Minister's Answer, he mentioned that, and with your permission, I beg to quote: “Every Ghanaian child who is placed into a Public Second Cycle Institution by the Computerised School Selection and Placement System (CSSPS) during the 2017 school placement is eligible to enjoy the Free SHS”. Mr Speaker, I would want to know what provision the Ministry made for the placement of candidates who sat as private candidates and those who also earlier, did not enter the SHS before the current year.
Mr Speaker, the second part of the Hon Member's question does not even arise. We did not distinguish between candidates who sat as private students and those who sat as public students. All the 467, 000 students who sat for the 2017 Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) had their details communicated to the Free SHS Secretariat. Those who qualified were placed by the Free SHS Secretariat in the School Placement System. Mr Speaker, once a candidate was placed and he or she is a Ghanaian and wrote the 2017 BECE -- Mr Speaker, we arrived at a scene where there were 7,500 students who had bought re-entry forms, so they were put as part of the placement and they were placed.
Mr Speaker, in the Hon Minister's Answer on page 34, he said, and with your permission, I beg to quote: “An initial 20% of funds has been transferred to the schools based on the number of students placed”. Mr Speaker, in the Hon Minister's Answer, he used the word “paid”. I would want to know if he could tell us whether the remaining 80 per cent have been sent to the schools as well.
Hon Member, it is in the Answer.
Mr Speaker, I would want to know from the Hon Minister if the remaining 80 per cent had been sent to the schools as he used the word “paid”.
Hon Member, read the last paragraph of the Hon Minister's Answer.
Mr Speaker, in the Hon Minister 's Answer, he said everything had been paid. I would want to know if what he has told us is different from what is on the ground -- if the 80 per cent has been paid already.
Hon Member, the Answer is that, the remaining amount due schools would be transferred based on validated school list and submission of expenditure returns. So, it has been provided.
Mr Speaker, I would want to ask the Hon Minister when it would be paid.
Mr Speaker, the Answer is very explicit. Schools should send validated forms and expenditure items. Last week, the Ghana Education Service (GES) reminded all schools that the Free SHS Secretariat was waiting for their validated forms. Mr Speaker, for example, the schools were asked to procure the school uniforms, so they would have to sign a contract with the provider of that school uniforms and that contract would have to be sent to the Free SHS Secretariat for the money to be released. It is simple. If the school does not bring the contract, they would not get the money. Mr Speaker, last week, the GES sent a circular around and reminded all schools to bring their contract so that they could put a closure to the Free SHS that we all enjoy.
Hon Member, your last supplementary question.
Mr Speaker, I would like to find out from the Hon Minister, if he would be honest enough to tell us what challenges he has met so far in the implementation of the programme.
Mr Speaker, I would want to find out from the Hon Minister what the challenges have been so far with the implementation of the programme?
Mr Speaker, if anybody says there are no challenges, that person does not live in reality. Mr Speaker, there are challenges and they were recognised as far back as January, 2017, when H. E. the President gave the State of the Nation Address. The President said that he was very well aware that the implementation would bring about challenges, it would bring about the new school construction and the new furniture supplies -- but we would rise up to the occasion. Mr Speaker those are the challenges that exist. It is far better for people to have access to schools than to stay home because of financial difficulties. The Free SHS removed a financial burden, and we should acknowledge that even as Parliamentarians, that queue in our offices for payment of school fees has been removed. — [Interruption] —
Mr Speaker, the words “are we being deceived” are his. The Hon Member benefited partly from Free SHS, and now that a Government is extending it to other Ghanaians, he said — [Interruption.] Mr Avedzi — On a point of order. Mr Speaker, I believe that the path the Hon Minister is taking is not healthy. The Hon Member asked a simple question, and it should just be answered by the Hon Minister, but referring to the Hon Member that he benefited from free education is something that is personal. It is a personal attack on the Hon Member. The Hon Minister should not go that way. He should withdraw the statement he made by referring to the Hon Member. It is not good —
Hon Members, I cannot hear his objection let alone to rule upon it because of the noise — [Interruption.] Hon Deputy Minority Leader, can you repeat your point of order?
Mr Speaker, my point is that, the way the Hon Minister referred to the Hon Member that he also benefited from free education, pointing to the Hon Member that he benefited from free education — It looks like he takes objection to the Question he asked. But if that is the case, it is not proper for the Hon Minster to tell the Hon Member that he benefited from it. It is a personal attack on the Member — [Uproar!] — And so if the Hon Minister could withdraw that and respond to the Question that the Hon Member asked, it would help the House.
Hon Minister, the reference to the specific Member, that he is a beneficiary of free education is inappropriate. Can you withdraw and answer the Question?
Mr Speaker, the first statement I made was a quote; he said we are deceiving Ghanaians — [Interruption] — And he was pointing at me. Pointing at somebody is nothing. Mr Speaker, but I will withdraw his personal assertions. I withdraw the categorisation of him as a beneficiary. But what is wrong with it if he is a beneficiary of government scholarship? Mr Speaker, there is nothing wrong with a Ghanaian benefiting from a Government of Ghana Scholarship. Actually, I would love to be a beneficiary of a Government Scholarship. Free SHS is a Scholarship Scheme by the Government, and anybody who benefits does so from a scholarship given by the Government of Ghana. And so if a person is a recipient of a Governments scholarship, there is nothing wrong with that. What I have said here is what is on record, that the Free SHS is being enjoyed by Ghanaian students who went to the public Senior High Schools and have not been asked to pay. Ghana Education Service is dealing with the issue of those Heads of schools who charge illegitimately. But it is not a deception. We will never deceive Ghanaians. We put our mouths, hands and everything together to say that this policy is being enjoyed by Ghanaians out there. If my Hon Member has not noticed, he can go to his Constituency or a public senior high school and ask whether they are enjoying and truly, they are enjoying. Let us partner to make Ghana a better place, by giving free education, as the Constitution says at all levels of education.
Mr Speaker, the Answer by the Hon Minister has been very interesting, especially with the Government's praise choir supporting him from the other side.
I admit the Questions. I have admitted the Question.
Mr Speaker, the single biggest cost item in the school bill is feeding fees. That is why the National Buffer Stock Company was asked to register all school suppliers including existing suppliers and supply the schools as to the foods that they need. And so the 20 per cent is the abstract money that has gone. That is beside all the other things that we have done.
Mr Speaker, based on the responses given by the Hon Minster, he said that the exemptions were for foreigners and those students who are repeating in Form One. Mr Speaker, there is a student in my constituency who is an orphan and was placed last year but because there was no parent to pay his fees, he could not make it into Form One. This year, he has gone in because he has been told the Government is giving a free senior high school programme. This orphan has been told by the headmaster of that school that because he was not placed this year, he cannot benefit from the free senior high school programme. Who are the true beneficiaries if an orphan who could not make it to school last year is being deprived of making it to school this year?
Yes, Hon Minister, did you get the question?
Mr Speaker, my Hon Colleague has found his new love for orphans. [Pause] Mr Speaker, for three years, subsidies to handicaps were not paid. So, how is it that in Hon Samuel George's statement, he said that the orphan has gone back to first year? If he has gone back that means that he was placed. So the question does not arise unless it is a figment of his imagination. [Laughter] -- Mr Speaker, everybody who is in first year now was placed. If one repeated Form One, we are not catering for him or her. So, the Hon Member says in one breath that the orphan has gone back to school and he is in another breath saying that he has not been catered for. How did he or she get back to school?
Mr Speaker, in the Hon Minister's Answer, especially when he was admitting to the challenges, he was very honest enough. In fact, the President of the Republic has also admitted to the challenges. The challenges of furniture and congestion which may give rise to sickness. There are a whole lot of challenges. Mr Speaker, we also heard from the Hon Minister that we are not really paying fees for all students and that we are starting with first year students. Clearly, if you look at the argument for progressively free senior high school programme, it was for selectively first, second and third year students -- that was not what was promised. Mr Speaker, with the challenges enumerated by the Hon Minister, and with the admission that all school fees cannot be paid for all students and that we would only start selectively for first year students in senior high schools, is it not an admission in hindsight that the approach by the previous Administration was a wise one?
Hon Members, I have a problem because --
Was it not ‘a better approach'? That is the word I would want to use.
Hon Members, Question time is for us to take the opportunity to provide information -- Some Hon Members — rose --
Hon Members, I had waited for you. I am now talking and you get up and appear to be arguing there. I have a challenge admitting the question, because it would introduce the politics of this Government did this and that. It would not help anybody. Every information on this free senior high school programme is already in public domain but I admitted that Question before the programme was launched. Otherwise, by our rules it is not the type of question that should be admitted. So, let us please avoid ‘we did that' and ‘you did that. So, I decline to admit that Question. Yes, Hon Ras Mubarak?
Mr Speaker, I am grateful. Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister in his earlier Answer made personal references to me saying that I had benefited from the free senior high school programme.
Hon Member, who did he make references to?
Mr Speaker, it was to me. He specifically mentioned my name.
Hon Member, I do not remember hearing your name anywhere in the Answer. Hon Minister, did you mention his name.
Yes, Mr Speaker.
Hon Member, you may go on now.
Mr Speaker, I finished senior secondary school twenty years ago and I went to a private school. This is a House of records. So, for the Hon Minister to have said that I am a beneficiary of free senior high school programme is an indictment unto my person. Would the Hon Minister retract and apologise to me, Mr Speaker?
Hon Member, this is Question time. Under what rule are you asking for retraction and apology?
Mr Speaker, this is a House of records and I am coming under Order -- Alhaji Muntaka — rose --
Mr Speaker, I would yield to the Hon Minority Chief Whip since he is on his feet.
Hon Members, Order 67 is a guide to the Rt. Hon Speaker in admitting Questions. When it comes to general debates and references to individual Hon Members, there are other rules that apply. I permitted the Hon Member to ask his question because the Hon Minister admitted to referring to him. If my attention had been drawn at the time, I would have asked the Hon Minister to withdraw the specific reference. My attention was not drawn to that. What he sought to do was to ask a question but he used it to raise an objection to something we had long past. Mr Avedzi — rose --
Yes, Hon Deputy Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister in answering the Question on page 32 in the Table provided under feeding fees says that, all the listed fees there had been paid by the Government. In fact, when he was reading his Answer, there was a chorus that said “paid”. This means that the feeding fees have also been paid. But the Hon Minister in responding to a supplementary question on how the students are being fed admitted that the National Food Buffer Stock Company is providing the food on credit. How can the Hon Minister reconcile these two answers of his when he said the fees had been paid and also saying that the food has been provided for on credit?
Mr Speaker, it was in an answer to an earlier question that brought that specific answer. It was not a contradiction. I said that feeding fees and all those fees have been absorbed by government. That is what is on record; students are not paying and the students are not being asked to pay for their food. As at now, they are being fed in the schools. Mr Speaker, since schools re-opened, students who are in the boarding houses have been fed three times a day and the day students have been fed once a day. The schools are not collecting moneys from students and that is the meaning of “paid”. The students are being fed and the schools are not being asked to provide the money but the service provision is going on. The arrangement is between the Ghana National Buffer Stock Company and the supplier. [Interruption]. Mr Speaker, the Hon Member is an accountant. The students are not being asked to pay. [Interruption.] Mr Speaker, the Hon Member who asked the Question seems to have an answer that he wants me to parrot and I do not want to --
Hon Minister, do not engage in a one-on- one- That is why you are providing Answers for Questions that have not been admitted.
Mr Speaker, that is the reconciliation. Thank you.
Hon Second Deputy Majority Whip?
Mr Speaker, I would want to know from the Hon Minister that with the progressive free education for day students, did he inherit arrears? If he did, what is the status of the arrears now? [Uproar.]
Hon Minister, did you refer to progressively free education in your Answer?
Mr Speaker, yes.
Where? I would want to be sure.
Mr Speaker, when I started enumerating the four items that have been captured, I said that the fourth one was the subsidies for all the continuing students in Form 2 and Form 3. What the Hon Member is talking about falls within those specific categories.
Mr Speaker, the progressively free SHS that we all applauded and was started in 2015 by the statement of His Excellency, John Dramani Mahama, in the bowels of this House was to the effect that for day students - It started in 2015 and 2016 academic year. It continued to a 100,000 students in boarding schools for the 2016/2017 academic year. Mr Speaker, by the time His Excellency the President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, came into office, for two years; 2015/2016 and 2016/2017, not a farthing had been paid.
Hon Members, we are done with Question numbered 125. We will move to Question numbered 141 standing in the name of Hon Peter Nortsu-Kotoe, Member of Paliament for Krachi-West. [Interruption.] Hon Member, are you abandoning your Question?
No, Mr Speaker. Employment of 22,000 teaching and non-teaching personnel Q. 141. Mr Peter Nortsu-Kotoe asked the Minister for Education when the Ministry would employ the twenty-two thousand teaching and non-teaching personnel approved by the Ministry of Finance in 2016 to fill the numerous vacancies in first and second cycle institutions.
The Ministry has received clearance to replace, recruit, re- appoint and re-instate twenty-two thousand, eight hundred and two (22,802)
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister mentioned that they had clearance from the Ministry of Finance which I know because in my Question I mentioned that clearance was given in 2016. So, I would want to find out from the Hon Minister if the recruitment was based on the clearance in 2016 or it is a fresh one.
Mr Speaker, that clearance was actually given in 2017. It was for 1st January, 2017 and it was to expire on 31st December, 2017. That is the clearance that was given. Mr Speaker, we prepare the Budget Statement for 2017 but it is not for that year. It is for the coming year. So, that is the Answer and that is why I am saying that we have even extended it to allow GES to fill all the levels appropriately.
Mr Speaker, I know that some recruitments started last October and districts were given quotas. I know that, in the Volta Region, districts were given the opportunity to employ 16 teachers but in other regions like Brong Ahafo and Western, the districts were given the opportunity to employ 36 teachers. Could the Hon Minister explain the disparity or the criteria for the quota system in the various districts?
Mr Speaker, recruitments are done in the GES every year and financial clearances are sought and received every year. Those recruitments that were done in 2016 were for financial clearances in 2016. If the Question was about 2017, then I could come specifically, but based on the financial clearance that has been given for this year, different districts have different needs. There are districts with more teachers but less number of non-teaching staff. So, the districts are asked to declare vacancies that exist and based upon the vacancies and the financial clearances given, personnel are distributed. So, for this year, there is a district that would have been allowed to employ 120 teachers but there are districts that were allowed to employ only 30 teachers. It is not a uniform clearance. Mr Speaker, like I said, this particular clearance that we are talking about is not a direct engagement like those from the diploma training institutions. There were replacements of those who have died, those who probably have retired and re- engagement of those who have gone on study leaves without pay. So, there are different categories and the recruitment had to be worked out methodically and that is why we have gone for an extension of time.
Hon Member, your last question, if any?
Mr Speaker, in the Hon Minister's Answer, he said that the GES was working out the modalities. Could he share some of the modalities with us?
Hon Member, I think that would require a separate Answer. This is a substantive Question. It cannot come as a supplementary question. If you have any other question, I would admit it.
Mr Speaker, I have no further questions.
Hon Member for Effutu, before I come back here.
Hon Member, I gave the floor to the Hon Member for Effutu.
Sorry, Mr Speaker.
Sorry. Could you repeat the question? What is in respect of SHS Programme?
Mr Speaker, this is not directly as a result of the Free SHS Policy implementation. This particular limited recruitment exercise for which financial clearance has been given is about re- engaging different categories of workers. Those who have gone on retirement; those coming back because they went on study leave without pay; and those who are being re-engaged. So, there are different categories. But what happens is that, we ask the schools and the different districts to declare vacancies that exist and appointments are made to fill in those vacancies.
Mr Speaker, I am a member of the Education Committee and during our tour around some of the schools -- Mr Speaker, I have also just returned from my constituency and I can tell you that we have three senior high schools. In each of these schools, there is only one Mathematics teacher, English teacher and Science teacher who would
Hon Member, there is time for Statements and there is always the opportunity to make a statement. If you do not have a question, I would give the opportunity to somebody else. If you do, please ask.
Mr Speaker, I asked that how soon would they engage those people who were given the clearance in 2016 so that they would take their various positions to support their Free SHS?
Hon Minister, how soon would you engage those who have a clearance?
Mr Speaker, the engagement is ongoing. Mr Speaker, it is not my Free SHS. It is our Free SHS. Mr Speaker, the Hon Member's constituents are benefiting. So, he should not tell them that it is “their Free SHS”. Mr Speaker, he addressed the Hon Speaker by saying that it is the Speaker's Free SHS. It is not “yours”. It is “ours”. Let us own it. We are never going back on that. Mr Speaker, if by that statement he is telling Ghanaians that when they come to power, they would withdraw Free SHS, he should tell them --
Hon Minister, I ruled out that statement. Kindly answer the question.
Sorry, Mr Speaker. I withdraw those statements. [Inter- ruptions.] I am not debating but, maybe, he is telling us the truth of this opposition that when they come to power, they would remove Free SHS. Mr Speaker, the recruitment is ongoing and I just answered the Hon Member for Effutu's question that the recruitment has got nothing to do with Free SHS. It is to replace retired teachers; bring back those who are on study leave without pay and fill in gaps. They are not for only senior high schools. They are for primary schools and kindergartens as well. Mr Speaker, so it is not “my Free SHS”, which I love. It is “our Free SHS”, which we are benefitting from.
Mr Speaker, in the Hon Minister's Answer, paragraph 2 says: “The process of employing these staff has started effectively and the Director-General and Management of GES are working out the modalities.” Mr Speaker, I would like to know whether the Regional Ministers and the District Chief Executives would be involved in the recruitment process. If yes, what would be their roles?
Mr Speaker, their roles would not be different from what they do every year. Vacancies are declared from schools through circuits, districts, regions to national. So we compile data on the different categories of vacancies and as and when the personnel are available, we post them. That is why there are two different categories of financial clearances. This limited financial clearance and the one we do every year for teachers who come from diploma training institutions or colleges of education. They are two different things but they all go to fill in vacancies as they have been declared. So we have to collect the data from down to up and then distribute from up to down. That is what happens and that is what we are going through. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Yes, Hon Second Deputy Majority Whip?
Mr Speaker, I would want to know if the Hon Minister could confirm that, by the end of the engagement, under His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo- Addo, 22,802 teachers and non-teachers would be employed in this country?
The answer is implicit in the Question. Hon Minister, you said, no. What is it?
Mr Speaker, the reason why I said, no is that, his premise was that it was 22,000 teachers we were recruiting. Thank you.
Any questions from the Leadership bench on the Minority side?
Yes, Hon Member for North Tongu?
I am most grateful, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, could the Hon Minister for Education confirm that this vacancy of 22,802 teachers was declared and the financial clearance given by the previous National Democratic Congress (NDC) Government?
Mr Speaker, the vote, the budget and the appropriation to cater for the 22,000 teachers that the Hon Member spoke about happened in the 2017 Budget. [Hear! Hear!]
If he cares to know, the Appropriation -- [Interruption] -- Could I answer my question, please? The Appropriation Act for the 2017 Budget -- [Interruption] -- Mr Speaker, does the Hon Member want the answer? [Interruption.] Mr Speaker, the Hon Member was making allegations to force me to answer inappropriately. I would answer truthfully to this House. Mr Speaker, the financial clearance that was given on the 4th of January, 2017, had no basis in any budget. [Interruption] -- Do you want me to answer to you and pander to your politics? No. Mr Speaker, the Appropriation Act for this Budget under which 22,000 teachers are being recruited was read in this House on behalf of H. E. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo by the Hon Minister for Finance, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, in March, 2017. They should go to the Budget. Thank you.
You had earlier said you had no question.
Exactly so, Mr Speaker. But I have interest to ask a question based on the answer the Hon Minister provided. Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister has alluded to the fact that the Budget for 2017 was read by the Hon Minister for Finance and that is true. The Budget for 2017 was read on 2nd March, 2017. Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister forgot to tell us that in November, 2016, the previous Parliament approved Vote on Account to cover the first quarter of 2017. There was a provision for 22,000 teachers in that Budget Statement.
I am unware of falsehoods. [Uproar.] Mr Speaker, the Hon Deputy Minority Leader, otherwise known as the exalted Chairman of the Finance Committee, knows that when he was on the other Side the first quarter Vote on Account that was approved in 2016 had nothing to do with the financial clearance. Mr Speaker, there are two reasons. The Hon Member should go and look at the date of the financial clearance to advise himself when the Budget was read. They have no relation. We have been accustomed to a governance style that had sayings and doings that were not at par. So, when the Hon Member asked who gave the financial clearance, he should -- [inaudible] and show me where the 22,000 teachers are. Let us be factual. Mr Speaker, the Hon Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, who was in the Ministry of Education should know this and tell us better. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Hon Members, the last Question stands in the name of Hon Sophia Karen Ackuaku.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I rise to seek your leave to withdraw the Question.
Leave granted. That is the end of Question time. Hon Minister, you are discharged. Hon Members, item numbered 4; I have admitted one Statement in the name of the Hon Member for Oforikrom.
Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to highlight an issue that I believe is of public interest and indeed should be of great interest to this Honourable House and the institution of Parliament at large. Mr Speaker, there is a growing interest in research works purporting to assess the performance of Hon Members of Parliament. I can readily cite the periodic assessments published by Africa Watch and the Institute of Economic Affairs. For my purpose today, I do not intend to go into the scientific merits of their conceptual and methodological approaches but to focus on some observations that we, as Parliament, must take note and act upon in our own interest. That withstanding, I must first of all, observe that the evaluative criteria for performance employed by some of these researchers in relation to the actual work done by MPs, lack internal validity. Many of such studies discount the enormous time used by MPs to follow up on projects, school admissions, job applications, committee meetings and other public interest assignments such as services on boards and so on and indeed the intellectual contributions deployed during these assignments.
Hon Member, hold on. Hon Members, I really thought that you would pay attention to the Statement. Many a time, reports come out that Hon Members are not doing something. The Hon Member is making a Statement that relates to the kind of evaluation that people outside do on our performance, but we appear not to be interested. I expect that Hon Members would make contributions, so that we can inform those who are interested in researching our performance on how they should do their work. I would be very grateful if Hon Members paid attention and contributed because this is an opportunity for us to talk about the things that relate to us. Hon Member, please, continue.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I am bringing this matter up again because there seems to be a high public interest in the matter, and in the absence of any other objective assessment material, the results of such studies provide the public and political actors a tool to “judge” Hon Members and by extension Parliament as a whole. Mr Speaker, in a recent research work by the Institute of Economic Affairs published in June, 2016 under the title “Public Perception of Members of Parliament -- A Survey Report, a number
Yes, Hon Member for Wa Central?
Mr Speaker, this is a very important Statement from our Hon Colleague from Oforikrom on “Assessing the Performance of Members of Parliament: A Time to Own the Process”. Mr Speaker, the Hon Member who made the Statement gave some interesting statistics, and on page 2, it reads: “So, less than 10 per cent actually contacted their MPs on questions of legislation or their oversight functions.” Mr Speaker, that is the core function of the MP. Mr Speaker, how do we carry ourselves as MPs in the first place? This morning, I also listened to a pastor on Joy Fm and the comments were so cynical to the extent that I tried to even make a phone call to the station. “You are enjoying free fuel; you are enjoying free land cruisers. All you know is to buy land cruisers and drive around free. You enjoy free lunch.” Mr Speaker, the people of this country do not even know that Hon MPs buy their own vehicles and fuel. They do not know that when they come to Parliament to visit us and we take them to our makeshift cafeteria, we pay for whatever we buy from there. Mr Speaker, Hon Pelpuo mentioned the Rt Hon Speaker's forum. I believe it is a very important area that your Office could use to address some of the negative public perception about MPs. We have to extend it to the regions and constituencies to educate people about the workings of Parliament, our oversight functions and the core duties of an Hon MP. The Special Budgets Committee approves the budget of the NCCE every year, but I have never seen them engage Parliament even to assist us to have a proper public discourse on the workings of Parliament, and how to disseminate proper information to the general public on Parliament. Mr Speaker, the public mischief about our activities and functions ought to be halted, and this Statement has come at the right time. Mr Speaker, the public perception about Hon MPs all the time is low. They talk about corruption, and the first institution is Parliament.
Mr Speaker, so, we ought to find a way around the public perception --
Mr Speaker, I associate myself with the Statement ably made by Hon William Aidoo. At least, that is what the screen said.
Hon Member, I noticed why you called him Hon William Addo. It is because he did not make the Statement from his seat, so the camera captured him as “William Aidoo”. The Hon Member who made the Statement is Dr Marfo, Hon Member for Oforikrom.
Mr Speaker, as I stated, I associate myself with the Statement, and especially the low esteem in which most Hon MPs, if not all Hon MPs, are held especially by our friends in the fourth realm. Mr Speaker, again, the electorate seem to hold us in low esteem largely because of our own campaign methodologies. A number of aspirants promise heaven and earth when they campaign. Some promise to bring ferries to areas where there are no rivers; and extend electricity to islands that cannot be covered. Therefore, Mr Speaker, the political class, for lack of a better expression, has become an object of ridicule, especially, in our constituencies. Mr Speaker, while I accept that some form of education is needed in order to reinforce the point that Hon MPs are essentially legislators even though they may bring some pork home, as the Americans tend to say, our core mandate is to legislate. Mr Speaker, Districts Assemblies and District Chief Executives (DCEs) sometimes also play a role in this ridicule. I had a personal experience when a DCE told a community that they should go to the Hon MP. The community approached the DCE that they wanted a place of convenience, and he told them in Twi, and I will interpret it in English; Ko MP ho, ono na ohia votes. To wit, go to the MP, it is the MP who needs votes. Mr Speaker, an Hon Colleague says, they would tell him, they do not eat the laws; but that is our prime duty. How do we change this paradigm? How do we change this construct? It would need our collective understanding and working together as Hon Members of Parliament on a non-partisan basis to educate the electorate, those who would, at least, be amenable to education and would want to listen. Mr Speaker, but the greatest mischief is from the political class; aspirants and Hon MPs. So, let us cure this and position the Hon MP in his proper role as a legislator. I thank you, Mr Speaker, for this opportunity.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I wish to commend the maker of the Statement. It could not have come at such an opportune time. Mr Speaker, the Hon Member for Pru East has reiterated the fact that, sometimes, the way we conduct our campaigns also fuels the kind of perception that the public has about us. Mr Speaker, we live in a country where some time ago, there were attempts to increase the number of Parliamentarians, there was a loud hue and cry about the expansion of the number of Members of Parliament. Speaking for myself, I have 123 communities in the Ahanta West District. Even if one was to go round during the weekends to engage these communities about the workings of Parliament, one could never even do that within a year. This is the hard reality. We cannot even talk about those from the Ashanti Region, the Greater Accra Region and the Brong Ahafo Region. So, the time has come for us to be insulated against some of these things. Sometime ago, the parliamentary candidate for the Prestea-Huni-Valley seat won over 40,000 votes, but could not come to Parliament. This shows the huge numbers that we have to deal with in our various constituencies. So, I wish to commend the Hon Member who made the Statement that, the time has come. Perhaps, when we go back to our constituencies, and we engage them— as I sit here, I receive calls when the lights go out in my constituency. When there is a heavy down pour in my constituency, they would call me. Mr Speaker, but we would only get the bashing because somehow, people think we are not up to the task. I believe that we need to engage these media houses very well. That is why I wish to add my voice to the call that the Rt Hon Speaker's Conference should be rekindled, and we should be well resourced. Currently, we have to pay our Research Assistants ourselves. I am not sure the public is aware of some of these things. The drivers we engage here, we have to pay them ourselves. So, the work of the Parliamentarian is not as rosy or as easy as the public may want to take it. I believe that the time has come for us to sing with one voice to bring an end to this perennial bashing that we receive. Thank you very much, Mr Speaker.
I would give the last voice to the Hon Member for Pusiga.
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for this opportunity. Mr Speaker, I rise to contribute to the Statement made by my Hon Colleague on the other side of the House. Mr Speaker, it is very important for us to note the fact that our own communication and information to the outside world, for that matter Ghana and Ghanaians, is very important. The issue of Hon MPs not performing is not only now, it came up sometime in the Sixth Parliament when even a particular group called Odekro came up
Mr Speaker, I rise to comment on the Statement on the floor and thank Dr Marfo for it. I would want to look at the two sides of the coin. When one blames the mouse, one has to blame the dawadawa. I would come to the point. The Hon Member made certain statements. In some part of the Statement, he mentioned the qualification of the Hon MP. I would want to tell those outside that the qualification of the Hon MP is not a priority. The personality of the person who contests is more important. This is because at the end of the day, the wisdom of that person would be taken into consideration. Therefore, one may have somebody who is a Professor and another who is just a Junior High School (JHS) graduate, who would be more acceptable to that constituency. Therefore, we should not use that as a yardstick. I know somebody who went on air and told his Hon Colleague, on a platform, that the fellow was just an JHS graduate. Based on that statement, the constituency voted against him. So, that should not be taken into consideration. Furthermore, we are legislators, and we are supposed to be seen as such. However, we have taken on added responsibility as indirect agents. Yes, we accept that. Unfortunately, people have misconstrued that idea that once one is an MP, one must be able to build roads, schools, bridges and hospitals. The reason I brought up the issue of the mouse and the dawadawa is that during our campaigns, some of us went beyond -- Out of excitement, some of us told the people that when we come, we would make sure that certain roads were constructed, and that we had the means. However, when voted in, one would realise that the place entered is not easy. [Interruption.] As for one district one factorys, it would happen. [Laughter.] We talk about the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), which is supposed to educate the people; but they do so during campaign time. It is their responsibility throughout the year to conscientise the people and let them know the role of MPs. Unfortunately, they would only wait. I do not know whether it is a budgetary issue, but they wait only when we are
about two or three weeks to elections, then they would want to erect platforms and bring MPs and opponents to talk. I believe we have to rise up to the task, and let the NCCE make it their responsibility to educate the people on the responsibilities and functions of the Hon MP. At the same time, we also have indirect competitors, and that should pass through the Local Government -- the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDC). Like an Hon Colleague said, when we are here, there is another activity going on in our constituencies. Constituents would be told not to worry because it is the MP, so they should tell the MP when he or she comes. Unfortunately, that is not so. They would tell constituents that they do not need votes and it is the MP who does, so they should wait and tell the MP. We pay school fees. I do not have a problem with that because when we support that fellow and he is well educated, he would go back home and tell the people our responsibilities. He would get to know the role of an Hon MP as a legislator. I believe gradually, we would get closer to that point because that would entrench separation of powers. A time would come when people would know the role of the Judiciary, Executive and Legislature. This is what would actually bring people -- A time would come when we would look for somebody to contest as an Hon MP and he would say no. This is because he or she would not come to perform the actual role of an MP or legislator, but perform more responsibilities beyond his or her control. In the cities, by the time they call the azan at 4.30 a. m., Your houses are full. In the rural areas, one could only be attacked when one moves to the village. Once we move on a thank you tour, they would come to us that they have done their responsibility and it is left for us to pay back. We have no way to escape. In the city, whether we like it or not, they are there. So, something has to be done. I say this to save Hon Colleagues. Hon Ayamba mentioned that they talked about Hon MPs getting free Land Cruisers.
Hon Member for Old Tafo?
Mr Speaker, my dear Hon Friend and Minister for Inner-City and Zongo Development said that he knows for sure that some of his Hon Friends who have bought V8s do not have money to buy fuel. I think that he should withdraw that statement, unless he is willing to provide the evidence -- [Interruptions.] Those who said “oh” -- I am talking about the rules of this House. He is not allowed to do that unless he can back it up. Mr Speaker, it looks like the Hon Members who said “oh” may be the ones who are involved. [Laughter.] This is because as far as I am concerned, Hon Members of Parliament have sufficient salary to buy fuel.
Hon Members, I decline to rule the Hon Minister out, so Hon Member, please continue.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister is a very good friend and a senior brother and he knows what I have talked about. I would not go there because I know he would monitor me. [Laughter.] Mr Speaker, as I speak, these Land Cruisers are not gifts. Hon Colleagues took loans to acquire them. It is not easy that people see us sitting in the Land Cruisers -- it is for them. Mr Speaker, if we go further, Hon Ayamba mentioned that when people want to have weddings they come to us -- the question I ask is, I am prepared to support one to have his wedding, but who would take care of the woman? I would provide the dowry and provide what we call leefe, but at the end of the day -- Mr Speaker, I remember when I was an Hon Member in the rural area, a constituent came to me and I supported him to marry, but when his wife gave birth, he went to another Hon MP and told him that his wife had given birth and that he needed a ram to do the outdooring. Mr Speaker, all these are some of the things that are unbudgeted for in our daily programmes and monthly budgets. These are incidentals that affect the Hon MP in his or her daily activities. If we are given some freedom, at least, quarterly, we could go to the constituencies. As an Hon MP, we have certain things to do. This is because we meet with constituents and we would have to educate them on what we do in Parliament so that we would inform them on whatever we did in the first quarter. At least, it would suppress their emotions and suppress their expectations. But if we do not do that, at the end of the day, we cannot deny what they expect because they know that once an Hon MP has arrived in the constituency and sits in the air conditioned car -- it would give him or her a good face. Mr Speaker, sometimes the researchers who do the research are biased -- they do not go into details. They need to delve in deep to be able -- this is because some take their reports by hearsay. They come round and would not even interview Hon MPs -- they would not sit in the Public Gallery and see how an Hon MP performs.
I would take the contributions from Leadership. Hon Minority Chief Whip? Alhaji Mohammed-Mubarak Muntaka (NDC -- Asawase) Mr Speaker, the Statement could not have come at a better time. Mr Speaker, I would want to support the Hon MP who made the Statement and to say that, as a House, we need to take this Statement seriously and take the necessary measures to help check ourselves first before others continue to give misinformation about us. Mr Speaker, I would want to continue from where Hon Boniface, who is the Hon MP for Madina, concluded. There are two sides of the coin and we cannot pretend to talk about just one side of it and forget the other. Mr Speaker, in the United Kingdom (UK), a researcher was asked about whether it was proper to assess an Hon MP. He said it was impossible to measure in terms of quantity and compare the performance of an Hon MP in general, but some benchmarks could be used. Mr Speaker, some of the benchmarks that were used were the Hon MP has to be assessed on how he did “surgery”. We call it “interaction” in our constituencies, but in the UK, they call it “surgery” in their constituency. So, how many times in a month, six months or in a year, has the Hon MP been in his constituency to interact with his constituents. So that could be measured. Mr Speaker, in the House of Commons, in this case Parliament, how many times the Hon MP had been in the Chamber, how many times he or she has attended Committee meetings and what were his or her contributions, whether on the floor of the House or at the Committee level. These are things that are recorded. Mr Speaker, last year, there was this gadget which with the help of the Clerk to Parliament, we tried to implement. It is biometric data that was put on the Hon Majority Leader, the Hon Minority Leader, the Hon Majority Whip and Hon Minority Whip as a way to check how effective it would be. When an Hon MP entered the Chamber, he or she would clock in and it would record in the system when he or she came into the Chamber and when he or she moves out, he or she would clock out the time he or she left. Mr Speaker, we have tested it and we believe it is very effective, so it is time to expand it. This is because even with the attendance sheet, it is said and it is true that some Hon MPs would come and go to the mails room, sign their names and hang around Parliament for some time and then leave. Mr Speaker, we should not pretend that some of our Hon Colleagues do this. How do we authenticate? It is very important we do this. Mr Speaker, when we refurbished the Chamber, I was part of the team that went to the UK to assess this gadget before us. This gadget before us can do a number of things. We could vote and within a minute the results would show on the screen. Mr Speaker, this screen could tell how we vote on issues, but we do not use it because our Standing Orders has not made provisions for it. But we have taken the necessary steps to amend it and we would have to fast- track it. Mr Speaker, the Votes and Proceedings captures the list of all Hon Members who attend the Committee meetings. These are the things that as a House we must intensify and keep proper record of, so that at the end of the year, as a House, we should do the assessment and know the number of times an Hon MP has absented him or herself. Mr Speaker, there is a website in the UK, that at the end of the year, one could tell how many times his or her Hon MP has attended the House, how many times his or her Hon MP has voted and on each issue, how his or her Hon MP voted. That is a record where people could easily assess. When they are able to do this, we could then move to the stage where we would ask people who would do random things and publish them the basis of their research. Mr Speaker, with the greatest respect, we do not keep these records ourselves. Many of the developed democracies have dedicated television and radio stations so that whatever happens — For example, in the House of Commons, one would not carry a camera and go and sit there and pick which side of the session of the proceedings that the person wants to pick. The House of Commons has its own cameras and one can only be allowed to plug in from the cameras of the House, unless there are ceremonial activities, then they would allow other cameras to come. Other than that, they would have to plug in into the cameras. Mr Speaker, when these things happen, people can choose to go live to see the proceedings that happen in those Chambers. Others could tune in to their radio stations and listen to what is happening live. But it is only during the reading of the Budget and some ceremonial activities in this House that private radio stations and sometimes, Ghana Television (GTV) would come and telecast live, and the moment that small session is over, it is taken off. Mr Speaker, this House has been running for over two decades and we have to look at how to invest in these areas so that we would begin to provide relevant information to the general public as to how they should assess us. Mr Speaker, the other things that my Hon Colleagues have said, which I agree with — Let us ask ourselves how many of us got here. We got here by undermining those who were here and told lies that when we come, we would do this and that and give this and that. How many of us sitting in this Chamber, that somebody is not already in our constituencies going around and telling lies that he or she can provide this or that, and he or she has been using money to
Yes, available Leader for the Majority?
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to comment on the Statement made by the Hon Member. Mr Speaker, I believe that we should be able to make our case; and what is our case? Our case is our responsibility as enshrined in the Constitution; our legislative responsibility since the year 1993. I believe that this House, by and large, has done a lot of good work on legislation. We have been able to come out with good laws. I believe that the Public Affairs Department of Parliament should be able to assist us to make our case while we also work hard to present our case. Mr Speaker, I am not saying we are a perfect institution but looking at legislation alone, which is our key responsibility from 1993 to date, I believe we have done enough that we can showcase and let the country know what we have done. Mr Speaker, when you come to our oversight responsibility in terms of oversighting the Executive and making sure that there is accountability and balancing in governance, and that there is good governance, I believe we have also done well in that area that we can also showcase. For example, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and other Committee works that have so supported governments that have been in place. Making sure that we oversight the Executive's good works and that there is accountability, we should be able to make these cases. So, I ask myself, what is the Public Affairs Department of Parliament doing in this House to augment what we can also be doing? Mr Speaker, when you come to the deliberative functions of this House, the extensive debates that we have had can also make a showcase in that direction. Our financial responsibility -- there has not been any Budget coming into this House that the House has not dealt with intensively and made our suggestive comments to those ones and I believe we should be able to make a showcase on that. Mr Speaker, for the representational responsibility which becomes an individual affair at our constituencies and all that, the balancing act is a huge responsibility. Our foremost call is to come to this House and work; the choice between the constituency and coming here to work, which is the national call and the foremost responsibility; that balancing art is very difficult to make. Mr Speaker, if Parliament does not function so well and support the Executive to make sure that our finances are so key, how would it come down to the constituency and demonstrate itself into development? So, our first point of call is here, and that is where the strings being pulled from the constituency become a challenge. I believe that we should be able to showcase our case and make sure that the country understands our case. It is up to us to make it and from the Speakership through to Leadership and to individual Hon Members, I believe we should be able to make our case and make sure that experience would be retained. Mr Speaker, personally, I keep asking myself why the Hon Papa Owusu- Ankomah should be out of this House. He is very experienced and knows it all -- why should he be out of this House? I believe as the Hon Colleague said, something must be done at the political front and we should all come together and see what we can do to make our image go up for Ghanaians to appreciate us. Mr Speaker, with these few words, I rest my case.
Hon Members, this has been an interesting debate. If Hon Members would recall, I believe it was in the Fifth Parliament when Africa Watch magazine purported to evaluate performance of Hon Members including the Speaker of Parliament. They had the effrontery to evaluate Madam Speaker and rated her below some other Members. The matter was put before the Privileges Committee and they were invited but they refused to appear because the editor of that magazine lives outside the country and had the effrontery to publish that he would not appear before the Committee. Of course, it was beyond the reach of this Parliament but since that time, if one is not lucky and he or she was rated ‘D minus', the press carried it and discussed it as if it was the gospel truth and some Hon Members lost their seats as a result of that. So, I believe that this Statement brings back the issue as to who should evaluate us and what should be the criteria. Of course, sometimes, the way we engage in discussions -- This morning, I was listening to one of our Hon Colleagues who had just left Parliament; he was on
Mr Speaker, the Papers are ready to be presented and the Hon Chairman is ready to do that.
Hon Chairman of the Finance Committee -- item numbered 5 (i).
Hon Members, item numbered 6. Hon Majority Chief Whip, are we ready?
Mr Speaker, we are not ready for item numbered 6 and so, if we could take item numbered 7 -- Motion.
Very well. Hon Members, we would take item numbered 7 -- Motion by the Hon Minister for Defence.
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion. Question put and Motion agreed to. Resolved accordingly.
Hon Members, item numbered 8.
BILLS -- SECOND READING
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion ably moved by the Hon Minister for Defence, Mr Dominic B. A. Nitiwul. In doing so, I would want to present your Committee's Report. Introduction The Maj. Mahama Trust Fund Bill, 2017, was presented and read the First time in Parliament on 24th October, 2017, in accordance with article 106 of the 1992 Constitution. Consequently, the Rt Hon Speaker, Prof. Mike A. Oquaye, in accordance with article 103 of the 1992 Constitution and Orders 125, 58 and 169 of the Standing Orders of the House, referred the Bill to a joint Committee on Defence and Interior and Finance for consideration and report. The joint Committee met the Minister for Defence, Hon Dominic B. A. Nitiwul, Deputy Minister for Defence, Hon Maj. Derek Oduro (retd), and a technical team from the Ministry of Defence and Attorney-General's Department and examined the Bill. Reference documents In examining the Bill, the Committee made reference to the following documents, among others: i. The 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana; ii. The Standing Orders of the Parliament of Ghana; iii. The Ghana Armed Forces Act, 1962, (Act 105); and iv. The General Kotoka Trust Act -- 1969 (NLCD 339) Background Maj. Maxwell Adam Mahama, now deceased, was an officer of the 5th Infantry Battalion at Burma Camp in Accra. He was on national assignment at Denkyira Obuasi in the Central Region. On Monday, 29th May, 2017, Maj. Mahama was said to have been on his daily jogging session when some angry mob of the town attacked and lynched him, allegedly on suspicion that he was an armed robber. His Excellency, the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Ghana Armed Forces, subsequent to his death, pledged to establish a Memorial Trust Fund with a seed money of five hundred thousand Ghana cedis (GH¢500, 000) in honour of the deceased officer. The Trust Fund is to cater for the welfare of the spouse and children of Maj. Mahama.
Yes, Hon Agalga?
Mr Speaker, I rise to support the Motion ably moved by the Hon Chairman of the Committee on Defence and Interior for the adoption of the joint report of the Committees on Finance and Defence and Interior. Mr Speaker, in doing so, I would like to recall once again that, when word got to this Honourable House about the unfortunate happenings at Denkyira Obuasi on 29th May, 2017, we were all shocked to the point of nearly becoming speechless in the process. However, the House mustered courage and various contributions were made in response to a Statement that was delivered in this House by Hon Ras Mubarak. Mr Speaker, in contributing to that Statement, I recall vividly contributions that I, as the Hon Ranking Member for Committee on Defence and Interior, made at the time. The summary of what I said at the time was that, in view of the barbaric nature of Maj. Mahama's murder by some unscrupulous vigilantes, there was the need for the President to institute a special compensation package for the dependants of the late Maj. Maxwell Mahama. Mr Speaker, a few days down the line, after this House had unanimously upheld that particular view expressed, H. E., the President, I believe strongly, paid heed to the admonition and recommendation of this Honourable House by causing an announcement to be made, which was to the effect that a Trust Fund would be set up to cater for the two infant children and the wife of the late Maj. Maxwell Mahama. So, Mr Speaker, I believe this Bill is in fulfilment of that pledge that H. E., the President made which was triggered by recommendations of this House itself. As a result, I would call upon the House to support the Bill in its entirety. While deliberating upon the content of the Bill at the Committee level, I would want to recall that various sentiments were raised about the peculiar nature of the Bill, and whether when the Bill is passed, it would not be discriminatory in its nature. This is because other servicemen had fallen in the line of duty and what does Government intends to do about such fallen heroes of our time? Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister made an important intervention at that point in direct response to those queries. He said that, in the military, for instance, there is in existence a compensation package which is very handsome indeed, but of course, with time, the regulation could even be amended to increase it. So, Mr Speaker, the rationale for the presentation of the Bill is to address the unique character of the murder of Maj. Maxwell Mahama. His murder was very barbaric. This country went into mourning when the news broke. We all grieved. One could see the anguish that engulfed the nation as a whole. Mr Speaker, we need to draw the distinction. In calling for the enhancement of the compensation packages for some of the security institutions of State, it is a step in the right direction. But that should not in itself be a reason this Trust Fund Bill should not be passed. Mr Speaker, not too long ago, I heard the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) speak about plans which are far advanced for an insurance package to be put together for Police officers who fall in the line of duty. He mentioned the figure in the region of GH¢50,000 and I felt that it was a good point to start from. Mr Speaker, with these words, I would want to implore Hon Members to support the Bill. I thank you very much.
Yes, Hon Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation?
Mr Speaker, clearly, I do not know anybody in this House who would be opposed to such a Bill. If there is, then I would want to remind Hon Members that not too long ago, perhaps in the Third or Fourth Parliament --
Hon Minister, hold on. Hon Members, having regard to the nature of Business of the House, I direct that the House Sits outside the regular Sitting period.
Mr Speaker, some years back when I was in the Ministry of Finance, I was shocked by an event which occurred when an Hon Member of Parliament died. Mr Speaker, at that time, there was no life insurance for Hon Members of Parliament. I was shocked, not to talk about a Trust Fund, and of course, we corrected that as a reasonable Government. However, the person was not a New Patriotic Party (NPP) member. So, Mr Speaker, I am glad that we have moved further in this case to establish a Trust. Therefore, I am fully in support of it. Mr Speaker, as we come to the Consideration Stage, I would want Hon Members to pay attention to the termination clause. I find it an extreme duress, especially on the widow. In Economics, we call it the moral hazard problem. We are essentially saying that, as a human being, she should not marry. Basically, that is what we are asking her to do. It is a serious problem. We would need to remember that she is a human being. Mr Speaker, it says “in respect of the wife if she remarries…” As a human being, we are saying that she should continue to enjoy the benefits only if she does not marry. We should think about it when we get to the Consideration Stage. I am signalling that, I would be proposing an amendment to that clause. Mr Speaker, we should not impose such extreme duress on an average human being like you and me.
Yes, Hon Member for Ho West?
Mr Speaker, I beg to contribute to the Motion and also to add my voice to the Bill. Mr Speaker, we all sympathise and send our condolences to Maj. Mahama's wife, the children, as well as the family. We all contributed in this House and sent signals to the entire nation that we would not tolerate such happenings again. Mr Speaker, there is no doubt in our minds that this is a Bill that would take care of fallen heroes of this nation. Mr Speaker, in my view, to have a Bill with the objective of establishing a fund for Maj. Mahama, with the name alone, has shown that this country respected him, and has given him the honour. Mr Speaker, I was of the view that this Bill should not be limited to only Maj. Mahama, but it would be opened up to as many fallen heroes henceforth, so that with Maj. Mahama's Trust Fund Bill, 2017, many fallen heroes who have gone through similar situations would also benefit from this Trust Fund. Mr Speaker, I believe to start a Trust Fund with GH¢500,000 would be enough to get support from other donors to support other fallen heroes thereafter. Mr Speaker, I would also want to agree with Hon Dr A. A. Osei that, we are pushing the wife not to get married. This is because if we carefully read the Report, on item 6.4, the first bullet says “and I beg to quote: “In respect of the wife, if she remarries or dies…” Mr Speaker, this means that if she wants to continue to enjoy the Trust Fund, she should not marry again. So, are we saying that she should not marry or she ceases to enjoy the Trust Fund? Let us be honest with ourselves. She is a young lady, and she should remarry. So, if she remarries then is that the end of the Trust Fund? We should be real.
Hon Member, what is your problem with that?
Mr Speaker, my point is that we should not let this Trust Fund be limited to only the Maj. Mahama family. We should rather have a Trust Fund in his name that would support the family, irrespective of the fact that the wife gets married and the children complete school, but others as well should also benefit from this Trust Fund. Mr Speaker, with these few words, I support but with my proposed amendment.
Yes, Hon Deputy Minister for information?
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity. Mr Speaker, I would first like to commend the President of Ghana, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo- Addo for the bold initiative. Mr Speaker, indeed, the President has shown empathy and even though this decision may not necessarily be universally agreed to, it is one of the instances where we can describe the President as a bold leader, as well as a leader who takes firm decisions. Mr Speaker, as a mother and a woman, I do have an idea of what Mrs Barbara Mahama may be going through. Through no fault of hers and through no choice she made, she is tasked with being a mother and a father to her sons at the same time she is tasked with consoling her own self as well as consoling her children altogether. Therefore, it is such a relief, reading that she has been offered a job in Foreign Service. Also, they are to be catered for through the provision of a decent accommodation and some education to an extent. Mr Speaker, although all these may not replace her husband, I do believe that this is certainly a hopeful step within the circumstances. I urge us all as a House, and all Ghanaians, that we should make this Fund successful. We should all contribute our widow's mite to make this Fund successful. Mr Speaker, if I could ask for one more thing, I would want to ask that the fact that she ceases to benefit from this Fund upon getting married is a bit worrying. Hopefully, as a House, we can be a little more generous and relax this clause a bit. Thank you very much, Mr Speaker.
Hon Minister, I would not want to put you on the spot -- [Laughter.]-- and this goes for Hon Bedzrah too. Why are we setting up the Fund to provide for her? It is because she lost her husband. So, if she replaces her husband, why do we need to continue to support her? The only problem that I personally find is the definition we give to a “remarry”. That is the only problem I have. If she does not formally remarry but she has a relationship, I wonder whether that would suffice. Otherwise, I believe it is proper. This is because we are replacing her for her supporter. If she gets another supporter, then why should we continue to do that? Anyway, the debate continues. Anymore contributions on the matter? Yes, Hon Member, I have not heard your voice today.
Mr Speaker, about what you just said that if Barbara Mahama gets married, then she ceases to be a beneficiary of the Fund. Mr Speaker, you are a man; I am a woman [Laughter] and we know that one could marry and the man would not love her and her dog. So, I agree with what Hon Bedzrah, my Caucus Chairman, just said that we should leave the Fund open. The man might come and might not even have the money. So, if she remarries and then we do not make the fund available, the kids might not be able to go to school. So, I would want to appeal to all of us to take a decision on this one that whether she remarries or not, she should have access to the Fund because about 40 per cent of men have issues with step children. I thank you, Mr Speaker.
The step children would continue to be catered for; it is only the woman who would not be catered for.
Do you want to contribute to this debate?
Mr Speaker, if she had not sat down, it was going to be a point of order on a point that she made.
If you would want to contribute to the debate, I would give you the opportunity.
Mr Speaker, it might be important. She said something which in my view was rather curious and I thought the attention of the House should be brought to it. Mr Speaker, she said that she is a woman and you are a man. [Laughter.] I am trying to get the correlation between the two -- her womanhood and Mr Speaker's manhood. I just thought you might take the opportunity to explain the correlation for the benefit of the House. [Laughter.]
I believe she wanted to say that I do not understand the issues the same way as she does. That was how I understood it.
Say it again, Mr Speaker.
I am not supposed to. Kindly resume your seat. If there are any more, I would take one more from each side. Hon Agbodza, you have spoken today. Let me listen to the Brong Ahafo man.
Mr Speaker, I beg to support the Bill before the House and I pray that, it would go through all the processes so that we approve the Bill to take care of the wife and the two children that have been mentioned in the Bill. Mr Speaker, my difficulty is, if we look at page 4 of the Report, paragraph 6.5, “Administrative expenditure of the Trust Fund”, we are giving the cap of 10 per cent for administrative expenses and the seed Fund is GH¢500,000. If we look at page 3 of the Bill, clause 4, “Sources of money for the Trust Fund”, with your permission, I quote: “The sources of money for the Trust Fund are (a) seed money specifically allocated for the start-up of the Trust Fund; (b) moneys approved by Parliament for the payment into the Trust Fund; They can do fundraising and all that. So, looking at the quantum, we can end up at about GH¢5 million or GH¢6 million. If we give them the opportunity to spend up to 10 per cent of this Fund as administrative expenses, I believe it is too much. We can peg it around three per cent. Even three per cent of GH¢3 million is not a small amount of money. If we give them the opportunity to spend up to 10 per cent as administrative expenses -- Let us even take the GH¢500,000. If they decide to go to the highest, 10 per cent would give GH¢50,000. If we set up a Fund of GH¢500,000 for three people with administrators who are gainfully employed and they are this is just to manage the Fund. So, to take GH¢50,000 as their expenses. Mr Speaker, I believe we have to take a second look at it. We can reduce it to two or three per cent because they have a relationship between the family. So, at least, they are also there to support the family to survive; they are not there to make some gains out of this Trust Fund. With these few words, Mr Speaker, as a Committee member, I support the Bill and when we get to the Consideration Stage, we can raise this very issue so that we deal with it. I thank you for the opportunity.
Mr Speaker, I am obviously not Hon Fifi Kwetey but the ICT system has let me down. So, I am tempted to speak from here.
Mr Speaker, our rules make us stand in front of where we sit to contribute. I looked at the screen and I saw Hon Fifi Kwetey. [Laughter.]
Thank you, Hon Minister. We have a challenge with that particular one. That used to be my seat so I know that. That IT system is very challenging. Hon Member, please, continue.
Mr Speaker, the Fund does not cease when she remarries; her benefit ceases and not the Fund. I believe it is a point of information.
Mr Speaker, I believe I read quite clearly. One of the conditions under which this Fund can be closed down is if she remarries and then the children -- [Interruption] -- because it says it would close down and the funds can revert to Government. [Interruption]
Mr Speaker, I also beg to support the Motion that the Bill be read a Second time for the establishment of this Fund. Mr Speaker, my only worry, which I would want the House to take note of is that, the Hon Minister indicated to us in the Report that the Armed Forces Regulations provide for a system of compensation and entitlement for serving soldiers who die in line of their duties. Maj. Mahama also died in line of his duty, but the circumstances under which he died had led us to come up with this Trust Fund to take care of the children and the wife. Mr Speaker, if tomorrow, a similar incident happens and another officer dies in a similar manner, would we establish another Fund to take care of that? So, Mr Speaker, what I want the House to look at is that, yes, it is the death of Maj. Mahama which has brought this idea and which is leading us to this point. Once we are establishing this fund, can we open it up such that, despite the fact that the Ghana Armed Forces have their own regulations to take care of compensation and entitlement to officers who die in the line of their duties, although, we do not want it to happen, if a similar thing happens, we would not come back to establish a new Fund? So, let us open it up to take care of the children and the wife. We are saying that when the wife gets married, she should no more benefit. For the children, until they finish university and they are gainfully employed, then, they also cease benefiting from it. Whatever balance is left in the Fund is reversed to Government. That is what the Bill is talking about. Can we make it in such a way that we have it there permanently so that, if such an incident happens, then we do not come here to establish another Mr AA or Mr YY Fund? It is difficult to determine the nature of death before we establish a Fund for it. This is the first one and we all feel that there should be a Fund. [Interruption.] We have Kotoka, but in the current situation, this is how the thing happened and we all feel that there should be a Fund to take care of the children. Tomorrow, there might be another one which would be different and more disastrous than this one. We would establish another Fund for that as well? So, let us open it up so that it would not take care of only Maj. Mahama's children and the wife, and after the conditions are satisfied, the balance in the Fund is reversed to Government. That is what I think we should look at when we come to the Consideration Stage. Mr Speaker, aside that concern I have, I believe strongly that there is the need for us to set up this Fund. I thank you very much.
Yes, Leadership of the Majority? Second Deputy Majority Chief Whip (Mr Moses Anim) (NPP -- Trobu): Mr Speaker, I thank you very much for the opportunity. I am of the view that the Fund should be given the needed attention by the House and for us to go through it clause by clause and pass it. Dying in the line of duty, for Maj. Mahama, it was by mob justice. The mob action was what moved the entire country to grieve in a certain direction. That is why this Trust Fund is being established. Others might have died in the line of duty in different ways, which is not by mob action. That is why this is becoming a unique sort of Trust for us to consider. I think that is the perspective by which we must all take it. Mr Speaker, it becomes a bit difficult to anticipate that the same thing would happen. It becomes so difficult to anticipate that a soldier would also die in the line of duty by mob action. I believe that when we get there, we may, based on this precedent, consider that one as such. With these few words, I believe we should all support and let the Bill become an Act. I thank you very much, Mr Speaker.
Hon Minister for Defence, would you want to conclude?
Mr Speaker, first of all, I just want to thank Hon Members for the support they have given to the Bill and just to assure Hon Members that this Bill was done in good faith, and that, we do not want to distort the provisions of the Armed Forces Regulations. If as a country, we decide that we have to revise the Armed Forces Regulations to take care of deceased soldiers in the line of duty, not in a special circumstance like this, then I would bring it back to Parliament for us to look at. In this Bill, it is very clear. It has been done under a special circumstance. It was done some thirty or forty years ago, and it is being done again. We hope that it does not repeat. But for the Armed Forces itself, if you are a soldier and you fall in line of duty, there are regulations that adequately cater for you. I would want to assure Hon Members on that. Mr Speaker, the issue of re-marriage is very clear. The Government is replacing the late Maj. Mahama in taking care of the family. In the event that the wife ceases to be the widow of Maj. Mahama, then, the Government has no duty to take care of her. That is exactly what this Bill is seeking to say. But it continues to take care of the children until they are able to get some meaningful employment. That is why we are not using the Children's Act, which says that when you reach eighteen years, then you are no more a dependant. Even in the Armed Forces, for example, the moment one reaches 18 years, by their Act, one does not live in the barracks any longer. We are not using it any longer because we believe that it is important to take care of the children until they are able to get some bit of income for themselves. That is why we have done that Bill. But I want to thank Hon Members for taking the opportunity to support this Bill. I hope Hon Members would be around to debate this clause-by-clause for us to get it through and get it done. I thank you, Mr Speaker. Question put and Motion agreed to. The Maj. Mahama Trust Fund Bill, 2017 was accordingly read a Second time.
Hon Majority Chief Whip, we agreed that we would not extend Sitting but we have extended it beyond 20 minutes already.
Mr Speaker, we have gone beyond the normal time of 2.00 p. m. So, we are at your mercy.