Hon Members, corres- pondence from the President.
In a further commu- nication, the President has written giving an annual Report to Parliament on Presidential Office Staff, from January to December, 2017, to be duly laid with all the details therein for the notification of Hon Members.
VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS AND THE OFFICIAL REPORT
Hon Members, Votes and Proceedings dated, Thursday, 22nd March, 2018. Any corrections? Page 1, 2, 3, 4 — 9? Mr Edward Kaale-Ewola Dery — rose — Mr Speaker, what we should know is that, it is not just about me complaining. I have raised this issue and followed to the Table-Office with the relevant document that this case was in court and it was ruled by the High Court. The decision was that, the name be maintained as Lambussie. If for any reason we would want to add Karni, then we should do the right thing by amending it and add it. But as it is, the court ruled that, it should be Lambussie, and I mentioned this. It is not the first time.
Hon Member, the correction would be effected. Kindly visit the Table-Office to ensure — Page 10, 11, 12 -- 18? Hon Members, page 19, 20, 21?
COMMUNICATION FROM THE PRESIDENT
Mr Speaker, I am sorry to draw you back. I referred to page 18 but alluded to get the Hon O. B. Amoah who, when we were looking at this, sought to amend this particular table on page 18 and that has reflected here. He referred to a particular number on the assumption of the scenario. So that whatever it is, the Table Office should be guided by the input that he mentioned. I thank you.
Hon O. B. Amoah, any comment?
Mr Speaker, I believe the Hon Minority Leader is referring to item 16 -- clause 13 (2) which I said should not be accepted. I believe we rejected clause 13 (2) regarding the opportunity we were trying to offer the Executive to amend the parent Act through a Legislative Instrument. It was amended, so I assume that clause 13 (2) was taken out.
Thank you. It would be effected accordingly.
Mr Speaker, still on that page, item 16 -- “The House accordingly approved the following Formula for the distribution of the District Assem- blies' Common Fund for the year 2018:” Mr Speaker, as you put the Question and the House agreed to it, a certain amount was then indicated to the District Assemblies' Common Fund (DACF) which you declared. I do not see that here, unless it is not part of our practice. The amount of money which was appropriated for the DACF must also equally reflect for the record. Thank you.
[No correction was made to the Official Report of Friday, 9th March, 2018.]
Mr Speaker, I am most grateful. Mr Speaker, there is a little correction on column 2308; kindly substitute “operated” with “operates within 500 metres to the left and right”. So, it would read: “They were ordered to do everything possible to ensure that nobody operates within 500 meters to the left and right of the water bodies.” Thank you.
Yes, Hon Member?
Mr Speaker, column 2290 -- the fifth paragraph. It reads, “Mr Speaker, there is no doubt that the Mining and Minerals Act, (912)…” That is what I seek to correct; it should be Minerals and Mining Act, 2006 (Act 703). Mr Speaker, again, column 2291 -- the second paragraph -- the correct sentence should be; “For me, we have no option. Even if we have to apply all the royalties...” Mr Speaker, it is not “acquire” but “apply” Mr Speaker, on column 2292, the third paragraph, it reads; “By the Constitution, all development Agreements are supposed to come to Parliament for ratification”. It is not “the Constitution” but “the Act”. Thank you.
Thank you, Hon Member. Hon Members, the Official Report of Tuesday, 13th March, 2018 as corrected is hereby admitted as the true record of proceedings. Item numbered 3 on the Order Paper -- Questions. The Hon Minister for Aviation should please take the appropriate seat. Hon Members, in view of the time available, we have agreed that, the owner of the Question would ask one supplementary question and we would then move on to the next Question. Hon Member of Parliament for Adaklu?
Mr Speaker, I would want to take the opportunity to once again appeal to you. My console device is almost always -- [Interruption.] Mr Speaker, as a Member of Parliament, I would want to rise in my place. That is what the Standing Orders of the Parliament of Ghana tells me. It is Hon Fifi Kwetey on the screen of my console device but I am not Hon Fifi Kwetey. I would want to rise in my place and also, I would want to
Hon Members, order! The Hon Member of Parliament is very right. A Member of Parliament shall ask his or Question from where that person sits. Hon Member, it is well taken. You may continue.
ORAL ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS
MINISTRY OF AVIATION
Mr Speaker, in 2012 five domestic airline operators, Africa World Airlines (AWA), Aero Surveys (Starbow), Antrak Air, CTK Network Aviation Limited (City Link) and Fly 540 operated the domestic routes in Ghana. Three of these operators; City Link, Fly 540 and Antrak Air, suspended their operations in August 2012; May, 2014; and June, 2015 respectively leaving only AWA and Starbow. In their written letters to the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), all three attributed their suspension to restructuring and reorganisation of their respective organisations. Mr Speaker, on 25th November, 2017, the aircraft of Starbow, one of the two remaining domestic airlines got involved in an accident at the Kotoka International Airport (KIA). Starbow ceased operations after this accident. According to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Starbow, the aircraft involved in the accident was one of two aircrafts the airline had leased. The lessor has consequently refused to release the second aircraft, therefore leaving the airline with no operational aircraft. Mr Speaker, the airline, prior to the incident, had incurred cost in training of cockpit and cabin crew as well as in ferrying the first aircraft to Ghana. In order to avoid further indebtedness, management of Starbow has subsequently laid off staff in the hope of re-engaging them once the acquisition of a new aircraft has been done . The airline intends to resume operations in, July 2018. Domestic airline operators have given us a list of challenges listed below: High cost of operations stemming from: high cost of leasing aircraft; high cost of acquiring and maintaining licenses; high cost of inspections carried out by the GCAA on external suppliers and facilities; payment for user and other charges to GCAA and GACL which are denominated in US Dollars whilst the revenue they generate are in Ghana cedis the non-availability of tax incentives for start-ups.
Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity again. In the last paragraph of the Hon Minister's Answer on page 20 of the Order Paper, one of the challenges listed by the domestic airlines is the high cost of fuel. The Hon Minister is aware that the previous government reduced an element of tax in aviation fuel. The current government also reduced Value Added Tax (VAT) by 17.5 per cent on domestic airline tickets. However, on page 21 of the Order Paper, the Hon Minister still urges them to review their prices downwards. Does that mean the two measures that were taken, one by the previous government and the other one by this government, have never been passed on to Ghanaian consumers?
Mr Speaker, yes, indeed, in 2015, 25 per cent was taken off fuel prices. No fares were affected, but they still list it as a challenge. So I must be truthful and bring it to the House. Concerning the VAT, we have started having reduction in fares, but the monopoly enjoyed now by African World Airlines (AWA) has had people complain that the fares were high. We have met them five times, and we would still meet with them to make sure that they have competitive airfares for our cherished users.
Thank you very much, Hon Minister, for appearing and answering our Questions. You may depart. [Hear! Hear!] [Interruption.] Hon Member for Klottey Korle? [Pause] --
Is the Hon Member for Klottey Korle in the House? I called. Hon Zanetor Agyeman-Rawlings, you may please ask your Question.
MINISTRY OF ROADS AND
Mr Speaker, Background The Abuja/CMB Market road, popularly called Agbogbloshie Road, is located within the Central Business District of the Accra Metropolis of the Greater Accra Region. The Agbogbloshie road is classified as a distributor or collector by the Department of Urban Roads (DUR), which links the Graphic Road and Kwame Nkrumah Avenue. Current programme The contract for the Paved Works on the CMB Road near the Graphic Corporation Head Office, Accra (0.72 km) was awarded on 23rd November, 2016. The works commenced on 30th November, The physical progress of work to date is projected at 75 per cent completion. The Contractor has suspended works as a result of the Employer's undue delay in paying for the work done. The project is financed from the Ghana Road Fund. Future programme The resumption and completion of the project will depend on the Employer's ability to pay for the work done. I thank you, Mr Speaker.
Hon Member, you may ask one question.
Mr Speaker, thank you. Mr Speaker, the first Question has still not been answered, but the supplementary question is that, could we have some information regarding the date when it would be completed and whether gutters would be constructed alongside the roads?
Mr Speaker, in my Answer I indicated that the completion of the work would depend upon the payment to the contractor by the employer and steps are being taken to do that. In constructing every road, the side drains are very necessary and so, that would be done. I cannot predict the exact completion date, but I could assure the Hon Member that steps would be taken to make the
Hon Minister, thank you very much. Hon Member for Mion, you ask your Question. Reduction of Scope of Works (Sang-Kpabya and Jimle -Chegu Roads) Q. 338. Mr Mohammed Abdul-Aziz asked the Minister for Roads and Highways whether the Ministry had reduced the scope of works on the Sang - Kpabya and Jimle - Chegu roads which were both awarded in 2016.
Mr Speaker, Background The Sang - Kpabia (18.4km) and Jimle - Chegu (9.0km) roads are gravel surfaced feeder roads located in the Mion District of the Northern Region. Current Programme Two contracts were awarded: a) Rehabilitation of Sang - Kpabia feeder road (18.4km) The contract was awarded on 23rd August, 2016 for contractual completion on 7th August, 2017. Works undertaken under this contract include: Clearing of roadside vegetation; Shaping of road to formation level; Construction of 6nos. of 1/900mm pipe culverts; Filling to all culvert approaches; Laying of 18.4km sub-base course. Projected physical progress of work is 100 per cent. b) Rehabilitation of Jimle -Chegu feeder road (9.0km) The contract was awarded on 30th September, 2016 for contractual completion on 7th November, 2017.
Clearing of roadside vegetation; Shaping of road to formation level Construction of 1no. double 900mm pipe culvert; Construction of 3nos. single 1.5m x 1.5m box culvert; Construction of 1no. single 2.0m x 2.0m box culvert; Construction of 1no. double 2.0m x 2.0m box culvert; Filling to all culvert approaches Laying of 9.0km of sub-base course/ Projected physical progress of work is 100 per cent. Mr Speaker, The two road contracts have substantially been completed according to the scope of works under the contract agreements signed on 12th January, 2018 and 16th January, 2018 for Sang- Kpabia and Jimle Chegu feeder roads respectively. There has therefore, been no change or reduction in the original scope of works for the two (2) projects.
Hon Member, any follow- up questions?
Mr Speaker, yes. Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister in answering the Question says that, there have been no reduction in the scope of work. Mr Speaker, I have a letter in my hand which is from the northern regional office of the Department of Feeder Roads to the contractor. Mr Speaker, with your kind permission, I would want to read just a line, so that we would see how the Hon Minister could reconcile his Answer to this letter. “As part of the Financial Manage- ment, we are directed to instruct your firm to limit the execution of the works to only stage construction.” Mr Speaker, this is contrary to what was awarded to the contractor in 2016. Mr Speaker, how does the Hon Minister reconcile this letter from the Department of Feeder Roads to his Answer, that there was no reduction of scope?
Mr Speaker, I am willing to table these two letters.
Mr Speaker, this is a House of records and I do not doubt my Hon Colleague --
Hon Member, you may interject. What is your objection?
Mr Speaker, I rose on a point of order and my issue is that, my Hon Colleague has referred to a document and I do not doubt him. However, per our rules, such a document must be tabled for the records, so that we could all rely on same.
The objection is upheld.
Mr Speaker, may you have a long life.
Mr Speaker, I have the document with me and I could table it to the Table Office.
Hon Majority Leader, I would call you when I have seen the documents. [Uproar.] Hon Members, are you getting excited because we are coming to the end of work?
This is just another day for work. Please, let us do the work accordingly. I do not know what the ‘shame' is for. Order! [Pause.] Hon Member, owner of the Question. You have this here. Hon Majority Leader, you may make your comment now, then I would proceed further with the intended Question.
Mr Speaker, my only concern was about procedure. If an Hon Member is called upon to table a document, the Hon Member was required to walk to the Table and lay the document. This is the first time I have seen a relay of a document. Mr Speaker, this concerns procedure, and I would want Hon Members not to run to a chorus but to advert their minds to the issue that I have raised.
Hon owner of the Question -- Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I have the Hon Majority Leader on procedure and the completion of a relay of a laying of a Paper. The Hon Majority Leader had been master of laying Papers on behalf of Ministers who are not here. He does so with your leave. I laid it, taking advantage of my proximity to the Table on behalf of the Hon Member and to guide you today with the management of your time that you so much advised us about. The time he would have taken to walk to the Table and bow -- You even said we are entitled to one supplementary question. Mr Speaker, he is very good at starting a 100 metres or 400 metres event. He would run and hand over to himself to complete the race.
Hon Member, you would want to ask a Question, and these two letters dated 8 th February form your support base. Is that not so? Please, lay your foundation and I would look at this, see the relevance and --
Mr Speaker, all that I sought to ask the Hon Minister was that; in his Answer to my earlier Question, he said there was no change or reduction in the scope of work. I have referred to a letter from the Feeder Roads which actually reduced the scope of the work. I asked him to reconcile the two, and I have tendered that in evidence for your attention.
Hon Minister, wait. The Table Office would let the Hon Minister see this document, then, he would answer within the parameters of these documents. Hon Minister, you may answer the Question.
Mr Speaker, I could confirm that the letter is coming from a proper source. [Hear! Hear!] I can also confirm that there is no ambiguity in that letter at all and there is no inconsistency between the Question asked and the Answer given.
Hon Members, you would have to listen to the answer to the Question.
Mr Speaker, in the construction of a road, it could start from information stage, one would move to the fore base, to the base, to the prima seal and could put on the main seal. These are stages, so the letter was directing the contractor to keep to the stage as has been directed and the final stage must be to move it to the bituminous level.
Hon Member for Lambussie?
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Before I ask my Question, if you would permit me to just make a comment. On the Order Paper, the provisional --
Hon Member, you would ask your Question or we would move on. Commencement of Tanpoe-Piina, Piina -Cheboggo etc. Roads Q.339. Mr Edward Kaale-Ewola Dery asked the Minister for Roads and Highways when construction of the following roads would commence: (i) Tanpoe - Piina (ii) Piina - Cheboggo (iii) Kpare - Naawie - Piina (iv) Kanguol - Cheboggo.
Mr Speaker, i. Tampoe-Piina Background Tampoe - Piina road is a 17.5km feeder road located in the Lambussie District of the Upper West Region. It is a gravel surfaced road with intermittent poor sections. Current programme Contract for the spot improvement of Tampoe - Piina feeder road (17.5km) was awarded on 9th June, 2016 for completion on 4th October, 2017. The contractual completion date has since elapsed. The contractor has failed to mobilize to site despite warning letters issued. Future programme The Department of Feeder Roads has initiated the necessary process to terminate the contract for non- performance.The works will subsequently be repackaged for award. ii. Piina - Chebogo Background Piina - Chebogo road is a 17.6km feeder road located in the Lambussie District of
Your supplementary questions, Hon Member.
Mr Speaker, fair as you may be, with my follow-up question since you did not allow me just to make reference to what happened. May I find out from the Hon Minister, on item 339, which is Tampoe-Piina road, I have seen his Answers, fair as they may be. May he just assure me that this contract was awarded in 2016 for very obvious reasons? I do not know if his officers on the ground have actually informed him of the nature of the road. By the end of June, it might not be possible for vehicles to pass through. Can he just assure me that he would look for a new contractor who is fair? Can he just assure us when a contractor would be at site on Tampoe- Piina junction? Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Hon Member, what specifically is your question?
Mr Speaker, when would the contractor be on site? I ask this because, he the Hon Minister said he had terminated the earlier contract that was awarded. When would the new contractor be on site?
Mr Speaker, I did indicate in my letter that following the failure of the contractor to be on site despite persistent warnings, we are taking steps to terminate the contract first. Secondly, the project would be repackaged and the necessary scope of works would be re-arranged and re- awarded. But I am also aware of the impending rains for this year. The rainfall usually affects the conditions of our roads and I know time is of the essence and we shall work according to what had been planned and agreed in the contract. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Question numbered 340, Hon Member for Fanteakwa North?
Mr Speaker, I have the consent of Hon Kwabena Amankwa Asiamah to ask the Question on his behalf. Rehabilitation of Roads -- Begoro, Ahomahomasu and Dedesewerako Q. 340. Mr Anthony Effah (on behalf
asked the Minister for Roads and Highways when roads in the following towns would be rehabilitated and given bituminous surface: (i) Begoro (the district capital of Fanteakwa) (ii) Ahomahomasu (iii) Dedesewerako.
Mr Speaker, i. Begoro Background Begoro is the capital town of Fanteakwa North District of the Eastern Region. The total length of the road network within the town is 13.0km, out of which 7.0km is in fair condition and the remaining 6.0km is in poor condition. Current programme There is no major rehabilitation programme on Begoro town roads. Routine maintenance could, however, be carried out on the roads to make them motorable. Future programme Engineering studies will be carried out on the network of roads within Begoro town in the third quarter of 2018 to determine the appropriate intervention for consideration when funds become available. ii) Ahomahomasu Background Ahomahomasu is a town located on the Obuoho - Nteso road, about 17.0km from Begoro. The road network in the town has a total length of 5.0km and in poor condition. Current programme There is no major rehabilitation programme on Ahomahomasu town roads. However, routine maintenance could be carried out on the roads to make them motorable. Future programme Engineering studies will be carried out on the network of roads within Ahomahomasu town in the third quarter of 2018 to determine the appropriate intervention for consideration when funds become available. iii) Dedeserewako Background Dedeserewako is a town located 31.0km from Begoro on the Begoro - Feyiase - Miaso road. The road network in the town is 4.0km in poor condition. Current programme There is no major rehabilitation programme on Dedeserewako town roads. However, routine maintenance could be carried out on the roads to make them motorable. Future programme Engineering studies will be carried out on the network of roads within Dedeserewako town in the third quarter of 2018 to determine the appropriate intervention for consideration when funds become available.
Hon Member, Any follow up question?
Mr Speaker, in responding to the Question, the Hon Minister indicated that routine maintenance could be carried out on the roads to make them motorable. May I have an understanding to what the word “could” means?
Mr Speaker, the maintenance works will cover reshaping, vegetation clearing and then desilting of all drains.
The Question standing in the name of the Hon Member for Kintampo South.
Mr Speaker, the owner of the Question has travelled on an official assignment so, she has asked me to seek your permission to ask the Questions on her behalf.
Hon Member, proceed. Completion of Amoma Nkwanta-Agina Road Q.341. Mr Kwasi Etu-Bonde (on behalf of) (Ms Felicia Adjei): asked the Minister for Roads and Highways when construction of the Amoma Nkwanta to Agina road would be completed.
Hon Minister, when will the road be completed?
Mr Speaker, Amoma Nkwanta -Agina Background The Amoma Nkwanta - Amoma - Agina road is 14.4km and located within the Kintampo South Municipality and Techiman North District of the Brong Ahafo Region. The road is captured in the Department of Feeder Road database as: Amoma Nkwanta - Amoma - Offuman (17.3km) Amoma - Agina (8.6km) Current programme Tenders for the upgrading of Amoma Nkwanta - Amoma - Offuman feeder road to bituminous surface were advertised in November, 2017. Tenders were opened in December, 2017 for evaluation to select the lowest evaluated Tenderer. The evaluation Report has been submitted to the Department of Feeder Roads Tender Committee for approval and award of the contract. There is, however, no major upgrading programme for the Amoma-Agina feeder road (8.4km) which branches off the Amoma- Offuman road at Amoma. Amoma - Agina road will continue to receive routine maintenance interventions to keep it motorable for vehicular traffic. Future programme Engineering studies will be carried out on the Amoma - Agina road in the third quarter of 2018 to determine the appropriate intervention for consideration when funds become available.
Mr Speaker, my follow- up question is as follows. In the Hon Minister's Answer -- I believe the staff did not brief him about the state of the road. From Amoma Nkwanta, there is a spot which has been coded and named, 18 mu. That portion is about one kilometre from that junction. It is so slippery that it has become a death trap. In answering the Question, the Hon Minister said engineering studies would be carried out in 2018. May I know whether there is going to be some spot improvement at 18 mu to save lives and property before the rains commence?
Mr Speaker, that is the essence of the engineering studies to be undertaken to take care of all such dangerous and rough portions of the road. So that would be done.
Question Q.342. Completion of Jema Town Roads Q.342. Mr Kwasi Etu-Bonde (on behalf of Ms Felicia Adjei): asked the Minister for Roads and Highways when construction of Jema town roads would be completed.
Mr Speaker, Background Jema town is located within Kintampo South Municipality of the Brong- Ahafo Region. The roads are mainly classified as distributor or collectors by the Department of Urban Roads (DUR). The town roads have been packaged as part of “Rehabilitation of Selected Roads in Kintampo and Jema (12.9km)”. Current programme The contract for the Rehabilitation of Selected Roads in Kintampo and Jema (12.9km) was awarded on 21st November, 2016. The works commenced on 27th February, 2017 for completion on 27th February, 2018. Under this contract, a total length of 9.15km of rehabilitation works was to be executed within Jema township. The physical progress of work to date is projected at 15 per cent completion which covers workdone within the Kintampo township. The contractor is yet to mobilise to execute works in Jema. However, the contractor has suspended works as a result of the employer's undue delay in paying for work done. The project is financed from the Ghana Road Fund. Future programme The resumption and completion of the project will depend on the Employer's ability to pay for the work done.
Any further questions?
Mr Speaker, I would want to know from the Hon Minister, if he can assure the people of Kintampo South that, the employer, in this wise, the government, would pay the contractor this year so that the road would be completed by the end of 2018?
Hon Minister, assurance.
Mr Speaker, government is always committed as an employer to pay for all road contracts awarded, but the payment is condition precedent, and that is the availability of funds.
Thank you very much, Hon Minister, for attending upon the House and answering our Questions. You are released.
Mr Speaker, my information is that, the item listed 5 (a) is not going to be laid. So, we can go to the others. We can go to item 5 (b) on the Order Paper. 12. 22 p. m.
Item 5 (b) (i), Hon Minister for Finance? Papers By the Minister for Finance— i. Government Concessional Loan Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Ghana and the Export-Import Bank of Chinan for an amount not exceeding Seven Hundred Fifty-Four Million Renminbi (RMB754,000,000.00) [equivalent to one hundred and nineteen million, one hundred and one thousand, nine hundred and forty-six United States dollars (US$119,101,946.00)] to finance the Rehabilitation and Up-Grading of Equipment in Technical Universities, Polytechnics, Technical and Vocational Training Centres. (ii) Annual Public Debt Management Report for the 2017 Fiscal Year. Referred to the Finance Committee.
Item 5 (c), Hon Chairman of the Joint Committee on Defence and Interior and Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs?
Hon Members, — Hon Member of the Committee, what do you have to say?
Mr Speaker, my understanding from my Hon Chairman is that the Committee's Report is ready and the appropriate steps would be taken to bring same to the attention of Hon Members.
We are waiting.
Very well, Mr Speaker. [Interruptions]
Hon Members, Order! Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, the Hon Chairman of the Committee informed me about the readiness of the Report. However, since he is not here, maybe, we would stand it down for a while and await the Hon Chairman to come to the House.
Hon Majority Leader, we would proceed, anytime it is ready, we are ready. Item 5 (d), Hon Chairman of the Committee? --[Interruption]-- [Pause.]
Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, thank you very much. In respect of item 5 (c), I note that the Hon Majority Leader and Leader of Government Business was out of town. I have just invited him to join me so that we would appreciate what is going on with the Joint Committee of Defence and Interior, Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs. We want to appreciate— My Hon Ranking Member on the Committee tells me that their position is for a Majority Report, not reflecting a Minority support — and a Majority decision. Guided by the past, there are some disagreements and it should not go on — the Hon Majority Leader would engage the leadership of the Committee —
Hon Minority Leader, I hate to interrupt you, but did I hear you talk about Majority Report and a Minority Report?
Mr Speaker, not at all, to avoid that, the Committee's Report must reflect the minority discern and position on that matter pursuant to the Standing Orders. But I have asked the Hon Majority Leader so that we would engage the Hon Chairman and the Hon Ranking Member so that they could avail to us the Committee's Report reflecting the positions of the various parties. - [Hear! Hear!!]-
Let us get ourselves cleared for the avoidance of any confusion. Of course, a Report must take account of everything. Nevertheless, let us not use that nomenclature; “Minority Report” --[Uproar]-- I am glad we all agreed. This is because it has been ringing about and it is not acceptable. Thank you very much.
Mr Speaker, that would not happen again. ‘If you have been bitten by a snake, when you see a snail or a worm you would run'.
A Committee's Report is the Report of the Committee. Yes, Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, when I got up, I said, we needed to hear from the Committee's Chairperson because he is not in the Chamber, and I said that we should stand it down. Mr Speaker, so as far as I am concerned, there is nothing before us now for anybody to start running commentary on. Whatever it is, the Committee is required to comply with the rules as contained in the Standing Orders. As simple as that! Mr Speaker, I thank you.
Item listed 6, on the Order Paper Presentation and First Reading of Bills; Right to Information Bill, 2018. Hon Attorney-General?
Mr Speaker, the Hon Attorney-General and Minister for Justice is not here with us now. There is a Deputy Attorney-General in the House to do the presentation and First Reading of the Bill. Hon Joseph D. Kpemka is here with us. Mr Speaker, before he does that, yesterday I gave an indication that the Bill would be presented to the House this morning. By whatever twist, today, I heard Citi Fm running commentary that I had said that the Bill would not appear in this House. This is a tragedy and I cannot understand why people would decide to deliberately twist what others have said. I would not go beyond that. The Hon Deputy Attorney-General is here and the reality is that the Bill is with us. So I seek your indulgence to allow the Hon Deputy Attorney-General to present the Bill to the House. Thank you.
BILLS -- FIRST READING
Item numbered 7, Motion. Minister for Finance?
Item numbered 7, on the Order Paper -- Motion. [Interruption.]
Hon Members must take note of my way of carrying out business. We have finished with the Right to Information Bill.
I have called item numbered 7. [Interruptions.]
Hon Minister, you may take your seat. Hon Members, I am compelled to say that the atmosphere is unusual. I must say in the best interest of parliamentary democracy, that I hope nothing is being I am adult enough to know those who should be known. Hon Members, you would agree with me that this is not the ordinary atmosphere in a normal Parliament. We want the Parliament of Ghana to be known in the world as a Parliament of repute. Hon Minority Leader, go on.
Mr Speaker, thank you very much. As the Hon Majority Leader made an application for the important Right to Information Bill, 2018 to be laid, he alluded to some radio commentary. Some of the commentary referenced him and some referenced the Vice President of the Republic of Ghana. As the Bill was laid, I requested the Table Office to oblige me with a copy. This is because, this House is governed first by the 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana and the Standing Orders. Mr Speaker, may I advert our minds to the fact that, we support the introduction of an important legislation. However, it must be respectful of known procedure, especially, the Constitution. May I respectfully refer to article 106 (1) (2) (b). It reads: “(1) The power of Parliament to make laws shall be exercised by bills passed by Parliament and assented to by the President. (2) No bill, other than such a bill as is referred to in paragraph (a) of article 108 of this Constitution, shall be introduced in Parliament unless -- (b) it has been published in the Gazette at least fourteen days before the date of its introduction in Parliament.”
Hon Members, there would be order.
As I requested for a copy of this important Bill, I absolutely support it. However, procedurally, it should not be faulty, and Parliament would be blamed for unnecessarily delaying it. Mr Speaker, the President has made a public allusion, so there is no indication of the date of Gazette notification after page 43. I would want to be guided if we have respected the Constitution or Standing Orders. It has been laid, but let nobody tell this august House tomorrow, that we faulted procedurally in getting this important legislation into this House and get it processed properly to deepen governance as a sunshine legislation to combat corruption and deepen transparency and accountability. I request that the Committee on Communications joins the Committee.
I am mindful of the fact that the Hon Minority Leader said it has been laid. It means that we are in a position to go on. Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I rose again and the reason I rose a second time is part of the reasons given by the Hon Minority Leader. He said that we should have a referral also to the Committee on Communication. That is the first one. As regards the prime issue that he raised that it has not been gazetted, we have walked this path before. Bills that come here need not be gazetted. [Interruption] Yes. Mr Speaker, I do not want to further litigate this matter. Those who have ears to listen, may listen.
Just for the sake of clarity. Why do we determine the urgency and other aspects of a Bill? -- It is at the Committee. At the Committee level, they would come out with certain recommendations. If it is of an urgent nature, it should be passed under a certificate of urgency. We have not reached that hurdle and we cannot jump it. Hon Members, this is why with my experience, certain times, I do not want certain things to go on because they only take some of our time on a very busy day like this. Hon Members, item numbered 7, Motion. Hon Members, Order! Hon Majority Leader, do we have a difficulty?
Mr Speaker, the little difficulty is the application for a joint referral to include the Committee on Communications.
Very well. If the Hon Leaders have agreed, the Committee on Communications should join accordingly, but principally, it is the duty of the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs. The Committee on Communication may assist them, but we would want to know where exactly responsibility lies in various matters. The formulation of a law is a legal matter. Hon Minister for Finance, I can see you are ready for Motion 7.
BILLS -- THIRD READING
Hon Members, Item numbered 8 on the Order Paper.
Mr Speaker, we would take item numbered 9.
Hon Members, item numbered 9. Hon Chairman of the Committee?
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that this Honourable House adopts the Report of the Finance Committee on the Request by the Government of the Republic of Ghana for the issuance of the 2018 Sovereign Bond and Global Depository Note (GDN) to use: (a) US$1.00 billion to finance the 2018 Budget (b) US US$1.50 billion to refinance maturing external bonds (i.e. the 2022 and 2023 Eurobond and (c) GH ¢500.00 million to refinance expensive domestic cedi denominated debt. Mr Speaker, in so doing, I present your Committee's Report. Introduction Request by the Government of the Republic of Ghana for the issuance of the 2018 Sovereign Bond and Global Depository Note (GDN) to use: i. US$1.00 billion to finance the 2018 Budget; ii. Up to US$1.50 billion to refinance maturing external bonds (i.e. the 2022 and 2023 Eurobonds); and iii. About GH¢500.00 million from the GDN issue to refinance expensive domestic cedi denominated debt was laid in the House on 14th March, 2018 by the Honourable Minister responsible for Monitoring and Evaluation, Dr Anthony Akoto Osei on behalf of the Minister responsible for Finance. Pursuant to article 103 of the 1992 Constitution and Orders 169 and 171 of the Standing Orders of the House, the request was referred to the Committee on Finance for Consideration and Report. The Committee subsequently met and discussed the request with the Minister for Finance, Hon Ken Ofori-Atta and his Deputies Hon Charles Adu Boahene and Hon Abena Osei Asare, the First Deputy Governor of the Bank of Ghana, Dr Maxwell Opoku Afari as well as officials from the Ministry of Finance and the Bank of Ghana and hereby submits this Report to the House. The Committee is grateful to the Honourable Minister for Finance and His Deputies, the First Deputy Governor of the Central Bank and the officials from the Ministry of Finance and the Bank of Ghana for attending upon the Committee. References The Committee referred to and was guided by the following documents inter alia during its deliberations on the Agreement: The 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana; The Standing Orders of the Parliament of Ghana The Public Finance Management Act of 2016 (Act 921); and The Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the Government of Ghana for the 2018 Financial Year. Background In the 2018 Budget Statement and Economic Policy approved by the House in December 2017, Government stated its intention to raise US$1 billion from the International Capital Markets (ICM) to
Mr Speaker, I rise to support the Motion, but in doing so, let me say for the record that, yes, if we are to look at page 170 of the Budget Statement, the Ministry of Finance made provision for the US$1.00 billion Euro Bond. But indeed, they failed to make provision for the refinancing of the US$1.5 billion Euro Bond. We drew the attention of the Minister for Finance and he has confirmed to us that they would sit to amend that at the Mid-year review. I have no problem with that, but just to draw the attention of the House to that. Mr Speaker, most importantly, as the Hon Chairman of the Committee rightly said, we have been told that, with the US$2.6 billion that the government wants to raise, they are going to use about US$1 billion to finance the 2018 budget, to use US$1.5 billion to refinance the maturing debt, and about GH¢500 million also to be used to refinance domestic debt. Mr Speaker, it is important for us to note that this is the largest single activity in the capital market; raising up to US$2.6 billion. Ghana has been in the market for about 5 times and this is going to be the sixth time. But what surprises me is that, the government is saying they are going to use US$1 billion to finance the 2018 budget mainly for Capital Expenditure. Mr Speaker, let me please refer you to the Report to Parliament, and under it we see, Proposed Use of Euro Bond Proceeds. They said that they would spend an amount of US$165 million for the purposes of taking certain expenditure at the Ministry of Agriculture —
Yeboah — rose
Mr Speaker, GH¢165million for the purposes of financing —
Hon Member, you cannot interrupt your colleague in that manner. You are out of order and you would take your seat. Hon Member continue.
Mr Speaker, surprisingly, trying to reconcile what had been given to us in the Budget Statement, I see a lot of discrepancies. I would want to point to Hon Members the appendix that had been attached to the Memorandum. One would notice that the Ministry of Agriculture has budgeted an amount of GH¢165,000,000 for the purpose of expenditure. If we are to look at the Budget Statement under the Ministry of Agriculture, GoG Capital Expenditure is only GH¢2million. I refer us to page 176 of the Budget Statement and there they said they would use this to finance the Capital Expenditure in the Budget Statement. We cannot approve for the Ministry of Finance to spend over something that does not exist in this Budget Statement. Mr Speaker, I cannot be part of this, I cannot support the Hon Minister to go to the capital market and borrow for the purpose of funding expenditure that does not exist in the budget. Mr Speaker, let me also take us to another item here. Ministry of Works and Housing: we were told that they awould spend GH¢500,000,000. If we, on page 176 — Ministry of Works and Housing, it is only GH¢80,186,790. We are going to undertake additional expenditure of GH¢420 million — [Uproar] — It is not in the budget. Mr Speaker, let me also draw our attention to another one — Ministry of Health. They said that they would spend GH¢350,000,000. Surprisingly, what is in the budget for Ministry of Health is only GH¢13,000,000. Mr Speaker, I cannot be part of that — [Uproar] — In fact, this Side of the House would never be part of that. This is their Budget Statement — [Interruption.]
Hon Member, when we avoid the emotions, we would avoid un- necessary trouble. If we do not want to learn, we may want to go on in this haphazard manner. Hon Member, when you address the Chair, you attract less difficulty. So just make your good points and address me and we would proceed decently. But when you throw things at others, others would throw things at you. That is Parliament. So please address the Chair in a Parliamentary manner and we would proceed.
Mr Speaker, I have raised concerns and the first one relates to the Ministry of Education. The Ministry of Finance is asking us to approve an amount of GH¢135,000,000. Reconciling it with the Budget Statement, the Ministry of Education's allocation for Capital Expenditure is only GH¢2,822.910. For this reason, there is no way we can support the approval of this Motion. Mr Speaker, I believe the Ministry of Finance would have to go back and make some adjustments before they come for approval. Based on this, how on earth can we approve something that is not in the Budget Statement yet we make references to the Budget Statement? I have no problem relating to the liability management. If for some reasons the Ministry of Finance wants to go to the capital market to manage our liabilities, I have no problems with it. In fact, I have no problem for us to go to the capital market to raise money from the global depository notes. But I have problems if we go out there to borrow to fund expenditure that is not in the Budget Statement. That is fiscal indiscipline and we cannot allow it to continue. Mr Speaker, based on this, I ask the Hon Minister for Finance to humbly withdraw this, come back and make some amendments before we continue.
Hon Members, I have the contribution list here determined by the leaders. The first from the Majority Side of the House would be Hon Kojo Oppong- Nkrumah. Each person is assigned five minutes.
Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity. I beg to speak in support of this Motion, that this House approves the request of the government to issue the 2018 Sovereign Bond and
Hon Member, you have one minute more.
Mr Speaker, so for the first US $1 billion which is a new addition, there is nothing extraordinary in there. This House has already gone through the Motion and this is literally perfunctory. Mr Speaker, the two other matters I would want to talk about are the GH¢500 million Global Depository Note (GDN). By deepening the domestic end of our public debt, we have been able to attract external investors but some are limited by the mandate that their principal funders give them. That is why it is important to use this innovative route to do this cedi denominated instrument but which does not necessarily limit other investors who are limited by their own mandate to invest.
The Hon Minority Leader would speak for ten minutes.
Mr Speaker, at your indulgence, I would want to make some few comments so that I can join the National Chief Imam, as I understand that he is here to open the Mosque of Parliament.
Hon Member, you may proceed.
Mr Speaker, we have been invited to approve this loan Agreement. We have further been invited to approve of it so that the Hon Minister for Finance can carry his calabash to look round for money to borrow. This is contrary to the campaign promises which sounded like borrowing was not legitimate and borrowing could not support development initiatives of our country. Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister for Finance, since he became Minister -- [Interruption.] there is US$1 billion to finance the 2018 Budget; US$1.50 billion to refinance maturing external bonds. If he is lucky that they are cheaper, that would be a good way to go. Mr Speaker, but the Hon Ranking Member of the Committee has raised a very important issue. The Hon Minister knows what is appropriate and he must do what is appropriate. We are not convinced with his justification to borrow because, the numbers he has asked for are not the same as the numbers approved in the Budget Statement. So he should take the appropriate steps and come back to this House for the mid-year review of the budget and its supplementary estimates to justify those expenditures. Other than that, we would not be able to reconcile what he has asked for against what was appropriated. Mr Speaker, it means a Ghana which is self-dependent and a Ghana which is self- reliant. Mr Speaker, in concluding, the Hon Kojo Oppong-Nkrumah just referred us to ‘economic transaction' -- where did we get that from? In this Motion, it says
The Hon Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation was here. Ideally, the terms and conditions cannot be so determined now because he is going to the bond market. So it is not about international economic transaction; we are very certain and definite but the Hon Minister has asked for approval to borrow. So Mr Speaker, I ask the Hon Minister, the Chairman of the Economic Management Team and the Vice President, whether that is the superior economic management? With the calabash they hold ready to go and borrow? [Laughter.] They should not come back with any ridiculous or unacceptable interest rates. We must manage this process. Mr Speaker, we urge the Hon Minister that the only justification is for him to come back to this august House with a mid-year review and supplementary estimates to reflect the allocation. Mr Speaker, our final caution is that, the Hon Minister should not borrow for purposes of consumption; we would monitor. This must go into capital expenditure -- they did it in the year 2007 to pay salaries. Mr Speaker, with these few comments, I support the Motion.
Hon Dr Akoto Osei, you have five minutes to make your contribution.
Mr Speaker, I rise to contribute to the Motion before us that the Hon Minister for Finance seeks approval from Parliament to issue an Euro bond for US$1 billion and an additional US$1.50 billion to refinance debts and GH¢500 million to refinance domestic debt.
Hon Members, the noise level is too much. Hon Member, we cannot hear you.
Mr Speaker, it is important when we approve the Budget -- If you go to the Budget, you would see that there is an amount of US$1 billion for Sovereign Bond. So it is in exercise of what the Hon Minister gave in November 2017 that he would come back to seek our approval before he goes to the market. If he were to come back in July 2018, the fare would have increased interest rates about once or twice and that would not inure to the benefit of Ghana. So, it is important that we take the decision today so that we can go and do what is necessary to enable us go to the market. Mr Speaker, issuing bonds is not new; it was started by our government back in 2007 and previous governments have followed suit. They are all aware of how sensitive the market is. So I would urge my Hon Colleagues on the other Side of the House that, when they speak about a Sovereign Bond they should be very careful about their language. Already, people have gone on radio to talk about US$2.5 billion. I would want to quote the former Hon Minister for Finance from the other Side of the house -- Hon Dr Duffuor. He said, and with your permission, I quote: “Money runs away from noise”.
Mr Speaker, I use the advice of their former Hon Minister for Finance. Mr Speaker, if they are to learn from me then they should not make noise. We should give the Hon Minister for Finance the opportunity to get to the market as soon as possible to make sure that he help us reduce our debt. Mr Speaker, with these few words, I would urge my Hon Colleagues, especially, the Hon Ranking Member for the Committee on Finance who is trying to make me his mentor, to be careful with the choice of his words. I thank you, Mr Speaker.
Thank you very much, Hon Member.
I thank you very much, Mr Speaker. I beg to support the Motion for the Hon Minister for Finance to borrow an amount of approximately US$2.3 billion to use US$1.00 billion to finance the 2018 Budget and about US$1.6 billion for liability management. But, Mr Speaker, my major concern is that Ghana is suffering from very high rising debt and we are worried that this rising debt would create major problems for this country. Mr Speaker, I have in my hand an Occasional Paper No. 13 issued by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) titled: Does the 2018 Budget and Economic Policy Address the Critical Challenges Facing Ghana''? The paragraph 2.3 of this document makes allusions to the fact that after June 2017, the borrowing of the State has brought about an increase in our public debt to about GH¢151.6 billion. It further makes the point that this creates a debt to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 74 per cent and that is very worrying. Mr Speaker, this means that we have added about GH¢28.6 billion to Ghana's public debt in one year, yet I have not seen a borehole constructed anywher and [Uproar.] I have not seen a school block being built. Mr Speaker, to go onto the market to borrow is not a problem. The problem is
Mr Speaker, we are running a fiscal regime that reduces taxes on real estate sales but imposes an import tax on people who import concrete mixtures for masons to make their moneys. [Uproar.] In fact, instead of reducing import taxes on raw materials in order to boost production, we rather tax day-old chicks so as these day-old chicks chirp we still impose taxes on them. [Laughter.]
Mr Speaker, I would like to make a point that, if we improve our fiscal management, we would make sure that we reduce this borrowing that we are engaged in, in order to save this country. But, Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister for Finance is very optimistic that, the market is favourable because the fundamentals are showing that Nigeria and Kenya borrowed on favourable terms. Mr Speaker, in Nigeria and Kenya, banks are not collapsing -- [Hear! Hear!] -- In Nigeria and Kenya, groups similar to the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA) and that of importers are not on the streets. Mr Speaker, we are issuing Panda bonds in China; we are issuing Samurai bond in Japan, and we are using the rate of bonds not traded in these markets as our benchmark. Are we aware that, there is a looming trade crisis between USA and China yet that is the market we are still going into? We use bonds that are traded in other markets to determine our rates in the Panda market. Mr Speaker, it is quite clear that this government has lost the track and we are now in very dizzy heights of fiscal incompetence. [Laughter.] If we do not address that, we would continue to borrow and borrow to no end. My advice, especially, listening to my Hon Ranking Member and the fiscal indiscipline that is about to take place is that, H. E. the President and the Vice President immediately convene a refresher course at Peduase. My good Friend, the Hon Ranking Member and myself are willing to come and teach them on how to raise money and manage the economy -- [Laughter.]
Hon Members, order! [Uproar.]
Hon Members, I would continue to teach you the rules of debate. If you have a good point, you know who would speak on your side of the House. Give the points to him or her and -- [Hear! Hear!] -- do not just rise. Hon Agyeman-Manu?
Mr Speaker, wonders will never end. A refresher course for students in Economics to come and teach us Economics? [Interruption.] I would repeat, a refresher course for students in economics to come and teach us economics? [Uproar.]
In eight (8) years, we were here in the Chamber, and we approved loans. They explained to us that they were doing smart borrowing -- [Uproar.] Today, another group is doing very prudent borrowing and they say, “no”. [Uproar.] Mr Speaker, yes, it is true that we have rising debts and our debt to GDP ratio is not that satisfactory, but “na who cause am?” [Interruption.] They moved us from 35 per cent -- [Uproar.] -- They moved us from close to 40 per cent to 73 per cent.
Hon Member, wait a moment. Hon Leader, when the other side of the House is ready to listen, please, give me an indication because we cannot go on like this. [Uproar.] If these interruptions would stop -- [Interruption.] -- you would remember, when the Hon Member just made his fine statement, there was no interruption. I insisted that there was order but now, it is otherwise. I must point it out. Hon Member -- Hon Member, please continue.
Thank you, Mr Speaker.
That is duly taken care of. [Interruption.]
Mr Speaker, I asked, “na who cause am?” So, when they accumulate that to the level that they left to us -- they left projects uncompleted with no money. Is it that we should not continue to do them? Mr Speaker, a typical example is the Greater Accra Regional Hospital. They packaged, borrowed and paid to do phase I. They left the scope of works for phase II with an expected cost of US$98 million, without any money. Should that project not be done? So, we should own and complete what they left uncompleted to give us a full complement of a hospital facility, which Ghanaians could benefit from. That is not the only place. There is also the University of Ghana Medical Centre. They packaged phase I, completed that and finished all the money. They left the work undone, and we need to borrow US$50 million to do it. How shall we continue and complete these projects? Mr Speaker, that is not the end. They built many senior high schools across the country. They are at various stages of completion. Do they not want us to borrow to complete them? They want to go to the electorate to tell them that we did not do anything?
Hon Member, your conclusion.
Mr Speaker, I would want to address the Hon Minority Leader who sought leave of us. He, together with Hon Ato Forson, said they did not want to be part of it. If we do not have money and they did not create funds, did they come here to do supplementary estimates for expenditures that they did not know how they would be funded? Mr Speaker, we would have to prepare very well before we meet our in-laws. So, we need to borrow money and come here to seek approval to spend the money that we have found. That is why we are doing this --
Hon Member, thank you very much. Hon Fiifi Kwetey -- last contribution. The Hon Minister would wind-up then we would finish the Business.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. I beg to support the Motion and in so doing, I express my sincere sympathy to my Hon friends on the other Side of the House. One could clearly see that they sold the wind and they are busy reaping the whirlwind. The same group actually made the country believe that in some way or somehow, debts and loans were wrong, every money and resource could be raised domestically, and that the money was right here. Today, they are in this House to ask just not for any resource; it is the highest single financing request that has come to this House as far as going to the external financial market is concerned. That, is very unfortunate. Mr Speaker, we on this Side of the House have never been opposed to raising loans to bring development to our country. We have constantly insisted that debt is not a problem per se. The issue is the use of the debt. I hope that through the discomfort and the conundrum that they find themselves in, they would finally elevate their discourse, when they have the next opportunity to stop, what I consider to be this very elementary behaviour of creating the impression that debt is a problem. This is because that has really not been the issue. It is its use that has always been an issue. It is important to stress that at the discussion at the Committee level, a proper list was not presented. We insisted that we wanted to see a clear list of the projects that this particular resource would be used for. I am happy that today, they have brought that, which itself shows that some amount of afterthought has been done. This is because obviously, they really did not have a very clear and detailed list at the time they came to the Committee. We requested it and they have honoured it; that is fine. Now, it is one thing to present a list and another thing to keep to that list. As the Hon Ranking Member already pointed out, every indication shows that the list they have presented and that which was stated in the Budget Statement are absolutely worlds apart. That in itself is worrying. It clearly shows that we may have the same situation that we had in the very first Eurobond that this country went for in the year 2007.
Order! Hon Member, you are out of order.
Mr Speaker, it is important that, for the sake of the country, these resources that we are to go for are used for the things that we have said they would be used for. The Hon Minister for Health indicated that there is the need for money to be used to complete some of the projects, and we have no problem with that. We are saying that from every indication, it appears this is a situation where one is shot with a bullet and later on remembers to aim. That should not be the way the country should be governed.
We must have a clear idea even long before the Budget Statement is presented. When we go to the Committee, we are to have a clear and specific idea what we would want to use the funds for. That was not the way it was shown. My worry is that if we are not careful, we may go back to the case of the Eurobond in 2007, where for example the Microfinance and Small Loans Centre (MASLOC) and the National Youth Employment Programme (NYEP) were given about US$75.5 million as part of that same Eurobond proceed. We should not have that story repeat itself anymore. Mr Speaker, this is my caution for them. One, they should humbly learn to stop, what I call, the very elementary politics of saying debts are bad. This is because it is about investments for the country and for the sake of economic growth. Two, it is to ensure that they properly use this money for what they have promised. They should not please come back to us, and we see proceeds go to salaries, pensions and NYEP. We do not want that anymore. Mr Speaker, thank you very much.
Hon Fifi Kwetey, thank you very much. Hon Minister, you may wind up.
Mr Speaker, thank you very much. I thank the House for how far we have come. Mr Speaker, I just want to establish that we are indeed going to the market for US$ 1 billion as it was stated in the Budget Statement. I am pleased that the Hon Ranking Member also accepts that it may be a good time to do assets and liability management; therefore, we would take advantage of the US$1.5 billion that we have suggested and given market conditions. Mr Speaker, I am quite sure that the Hon Ranking Member would not want to be known to be against the support of these very critical infrastructure elements that we have brought forth because they are important. I am sure that he also knows that sometimes capital markets projects cross over fiscal years. So, that is the subsidiary to what we are here for. Mr Speaker, a few facts about our conditions because there seems to be some amnesia as to what we inherited when we came into government. Mr Speaker, that is 9.3 deficit, debt-to-GDP ratio of 73 per cent, inflation of 15.4 per cent and a negative balance in our fiscal surplus. So, we have come a long way, and it is clear from what Standard and Poor's (S&P),and Fitch and Moody's have stated that we are doing much better than we were a year ago. Hon Members, today, we have a deficit of about six per cent and inflation is down to 10.3 or 10.6. Believe it or not, our debt- to-GDP ratio is 69.8 per cent, but not as the Hon Member has stated. The GDP would be recalculated in April to make it stronger, and there would be rebasing in May to make it stronger. It would give us more headroom to be able to go to the market. Mr Speaker, we are working with prudence and diligence, and we all need to be careful about phrase mongers and oratory that does not really lead to enhancing the type of growth that President Akufo-Addo wants us to have. It is true that it may be the largest single offering, but that goes to the testament of how far we have come and that would be judged by the market. Mr Speaker, but part of the reason for the confidence is that our macro-fiscals are much better than Nigeria and/or Kenya; if they are examples that they want to evoke. Mr Speaker, all of these countries -- Nigeria went out for 1.25 per cent and the order book was US$12 billion. Senegal went out for US1 billion and the order book was US$9.5 billion. Mr Speaker, so we seemed to have a window that we could capitalise on, and we would swop out issues that the Hon Members on the other Side of the aisle issued on the international markets, which we could have done better. Mr Speaker, we feel that we could do much better in these much circumstances, and that is why the Hon Ranking Member was in support of that. Mr Speaker, so I do not think that we are really far apart from the issues of oratory and phrase mongering. The fact of the matter is that, going to the international market is not borrowing with a calabash in hand, but it is an accepted way of financing the development that we would want to have. Mr Speaker, the macro fiscals are much better than they have ever been, and the issue of collapsing banks is quite interesting. Mr Speaker, if we look at all of the licences that have been issued over the course of the past three, four or five years, then that is subject to inquiry, which we all know. Mr Speaker, I think that the courage to come out to ensure that we do not have repetitions of “DKM's” should be lauded because it is a very difficult thing. In terms of the issue of Ghanaian banks being supported to make sure that we are represented is work that we would do, but we cannot afford to continue to have a banking system that would be fundamentally weak because we do not want to make the hard decisions. Mr Speaker, on our Side, we would never do that. Mr Speaker, so, we are going for a purpose and I am really glad to hear some of the responses from the other Side of the House because, clearly, a lot of learning has gone on this past year. They told us that, we should not borrow at ridiculous interest rates, which is what we inherited, but we would not do that. [Hear! Hear!] We feel that we should borrow for purposes of production and we would do that. It is not for consumption. Mr Speaker, they told us that, we should not use debts for current working capital uses, but we do not have a habit of doing that, so we would not do that. Mr Speaker, so, we are going into the market to raise US$1 billion directly for the 2018 Budget and another amount of up to US$1.5 billion if market conditions continue to be favourable. I believe that our ratings are much better than they have ever been, so we would come back to the people of Ghana with the resources to ensure that, these development projects are done. Mr Speaker, I would want to really thank the House for the support and for us to continue to work well together. Mr Speaker, thank you. Question put and Motion agreed to.
We would take item numbered 10 on the Order Paper -- Hon Minister for Finance?
THIS HONOURABLE HOUSE
HEREBY RESOLVES AS
Any seconder? Hon Chairman of the Committee (Dr Mark Assibey-Yeboah): Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion. Question moved and Motion agreed to. Resolved accordingly.
Hon Deputy Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, we could take item numbered 11.
Hon Members, item numbered 11.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that this Honourable House adopts the Report of the Finance Committee on the Request for waiver of Import Duties, Import VAT, Import NHIL, and other approved imposts amounting to the Ghana cedi equivalent of fifty-two million, three hundred and ninety-three thousand, eight hundred and seventy United States Dollars (US$52,393,870.00) on Distillate Operational Fuel, Power Equipment and Power Plant Parts for Trojan Power Limited's power plant operations under an Equipment Rental Agreement with the Government of the Republic of Ghana (Ministry of Energy). Introduction The Request for Waiver of Import Duties, Import VAT, Import NHIL and other Approved Imposts amounting to the Ghana cedi equivalent of fifty-two million, three hundred and ninety three thousand, eight hundred and seventy United States dollars (US$52,393,870.00) on Distillate Operational Fuel, Power Equipment and Power Plant Parts for Trojan Power Limited's power plant operations under an Equipment Rental Agreement with Government of the Republic of Ghana (Ministry of Energy) was laid in the House on Friday 9th March, 2018 by the Honourable Deputy Minister for Finance, Mr Kwaku Agyeman Kwarteng on behalf of the Minister for Finance. Pursuant to Order 169 of the Standing Orders of the House, the request was referred to the Finance Committee for consideration and report. The Committee met and considered the request the Deputy Minister for Finance, Hon Kwaku Kwarteng, Deputy Minister for Energy, Hon Joseph Cudjoe, and officials from the Ministries of Finance and Energy as well as the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) and hereby presents this Report to the House pursuant to Order 161 (1) of the Standing Orders of the House. Background The power challenges experienced by the nation in recent years caused the government to institute several measures to significantly increase the power generation capacity of the nation. The government sought to pursue an aggressive power development strategy, an approach that sought to encourage private sector participation to support the accelerated efforts required to add more generation capacity and expand the electricity transmission options of the country. During the energy generation challenges of 2007, the Government of Ghana procured 127 diesel generating units currently situated at Tema and Kumasi to help bridge the generation shortfall. The units were handed over to VRA in 2009 for preservation after the operations. VRA has given some of the units to State institutions while a greater number are inoperable due to inadequate maintenance. Under the private sector participation in power generation and based on a
Mr Speaker, I rise to second the Motion ably moved by the Hon Chairman of the Finance Committee. Mr Speaker, the essence of granting this tax waiver is to ensure that the energy sector gets stronger, and to ensure that they are able to provide affordable and efficient energy to the people of Ghana. Mr Speaker, the Committee did a very good job by looking at the totality of the implication of this waiver. Indeed, without this waiver as well as other waivers, it meant that the cost of power would have gone up.
Hon Members, shall we conclude this matter?
Very well. Question put and Motion agreed to.
Item numbered 12 -- Resolution.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, WHEREAS by the provisions of Article 174 (2) of the Constitution, Parliament is empowered to confer power on any person or authority to waive or vary a tax imposed by an Act of Parliament; THE EXERCISE of any power conferred on any person or authority to waive or vary a tax in favour of any person or authority is by the said provisions made subject to the prior approval of Parliament by resolution; BY THE COMBINED operation of the provisions of section 150(i) of the Customs Act 2015, (Act 891), the Export and Import Act, 1995 (Act 503), the Export Trade, Agricultural and Industrial Fund Act, 2013 (Act 872), the Value Added Tax Act, 2013 (Act 870), the Value Added Tax (Amendment) Act, 2015 (Act 890), the Value Added Tax (Amendment) Act, 2017 (Act 948) and other existing Laws and Regulations applicable to the collection of Customs duties and other taxes on the importation of goods into Ghana, the Minister for Finance may exempt any Statutory Corporation, institution or individual from the payment of duties and taxes otherwise payable under the said Laws and Regulations or waive or vary the requirement of such Statutory Corporation, institution or individual to pay such duties and taxes; IN ACCORDANCE with the provisions of the Constitution and at the request of the Government of Ghana acting through the Minister responsible for Finance, there has been laid before Parliament a request by the Minister for Finance for the prior approval of Parliament the exercise by him of his power under the Laws and Regulations relating to the waiver of Import Duties, Import VAT, Import NHIL, and other approved imposts amounting to the Ghana Cedi equivalent of fifty-two million, three hundred and ninety-three thousand, eight hundred and seventy United States dollars (US$52,393,870.00) on distillate Operational Fuel, Power equipment and Power Plant Parts for Trojan Power Limited's power plant operations under an Equipment Rental Agreement with the Government of the Republic of Ghana (Ministry of Energy). NOW THEREFORE, this Honourable House hereby approves the exercise by the Minister responsible for Finance of the power granted to him by Parliament by Statute to waive such Import Duties, Import VAT, Import NHIL, and other approved imposts amounting to the Ghana Cedi equivalent of fifty-two million, three hundred and ninety-three thousand, eight hundred and seventy United States dollars (US$52,393,870.00) on Distillate Operational Fuel,
Mr Speaker, we would follow it up with the next item, which is Motion numbered as item 13 on the Order Paper.
In view of the Business before us and the time, I direct that Business be carried on beyond the normal hours. At 2:00 p.m, we shall break and resume at 4:00 p.m. I am told other matters would be dealt with.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that notwithstanding the provisions of Standing Order 80 (1) which require that no Motion shall be debated until at least forty-eight hours have elapsed between the date on which notice of the Motion is given and the date on which the Motion is moved, the Motion for the adoption of the Report of the Finance Committee on the Request for waiver of Import Duties, Import VAT, ECOWAS Levy, EXIM Levy, Special Import Levy and other approved imposts of up to the Ghana Cedi equivalent of one hundred and seventy- six million, seven hundred and ninety-nine thousand, one hundred and ninety-three United States dollars ($176,799,193.00) for fifteen years on equipment and materials to be procured for the Implementation of the National Identification Project may be moved today.
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion. Question put and Motion agreed to.
Hon Chairman of the Committee, be brief, we have the Report. Tax Waiver Import Duties, Import Taxes, etc. in respect of National Identification Project
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that this Honourable House adopts the Report of the Finance Committee on the Request for waiver of Import Duties, Import VAT, ECOWAS Levy, EXIM Levy, Special Import Levy and other approved imposts of up to the Ghana Cedi equivalent of one hundred and seventy- six million, seven hundred and ninety-nine thousand, one hundred and ninety-three United States dollars ($176,799,193.00) for fifteen years on equipment and materials to be procured for the Implementation of the National Identification Project. Introduction The Request for Waiver of Import Duties, Import VAT/ NHIL, ECOWAS and EXIM levies of up to the Ghana Cedi equivalent of US$ 176,799,193 for fifteen years on Equipment and Materials to be procured for the Implementation of the National Identification Systems (NIS) Project was laid in the House on Friday, 13th March, 2018 in accordance with Article 174(2) of the Constitution, and referred to the Finance Committee for consideration and report pursuant to the Standing Orders of the House. The Committee met with the Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation, Hon. Anthony Akoto Osei, the Deputy Minister for Finance, Hon Kwaku Kwarteng, the Acting Chief Executive Officer of the National Identification Authority, Prof. Ken Attafuah and technical teams from the Ministry of Finance and the National Identification Authority to consider the Request. Background The National Identification Authority (NIA) was established by the National Identification Authority Act, 2006 (Act 707). As part of its mandate, the Authority had the mandate to establish a biometric- based National Identity Register (NIR) that would enable every Ghanaian, both resident and non-resident and foreign nationals legally resident in Ghana, to be issued with the Ghana Card for identification and related purposes. The proposed National Identification System (NIS) is to consist of: An automated biometric iden- tification system which would include fingerprints, facial patterns, eye retinas and irises to conform to international standards and current trends; Communications networks to enable verification and authen- tication services among user agencies; ID card production and issuance systems in accordance with extant laws. The National ID cards issued by the NIA shall contain unique personal identification numbers that shall be used in all transactions that require identification. To address the challenges that historically impaired the attainment of a reliable NIS, the NIA proposed to implement the NIS project via a Public Private Partnership [PPP) arrangement with Messrs Identity Management Systems (IMS) II Ltd. IMS II is part of the Margins Group of companies. Under the project, the NIA would issue a Multifunctional Smart Card with a chip memory of 148K. The Memory will be segmented and issued to various institutions to run their applications on the same card instead of issuing multiple cards. The card is a dual interface card with both contact and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) modes of communication. The establishment of a fully-functional NIS platform would provide other user agencies with the opportunity to launch their e-services. Potential beneficiaries include the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA), the Passport Office, Diver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA), Electoral Commission (EC), Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT), National Security, Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), the banking Institutions and Telecommunication companies. The NIS has several benefits for both the individual and the economy. For the larger society the NIS would: Promote targeting of development resources; Enhance revenue mobilisation; Ensure cost-saving for some government institutions;
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion, and in doing so, I would like to draw the attention of the House to page 5, item numbered 4.3. Mr Speaker, with your permission, if I may read. It says; “The Ag. Chief Executive Officer informed the Committee that the entire project is estimated to cost US$1,210,848,601…” Mr Speaker, strangely, the US$1.2 billion excludes the tax exemption. If we are to know the true cost of the project, it would be prudent for us to add the tax exemption to the cost of the project so that we can quantify the cost of the project. Mr Speaker, it is only through this that when we do value for money audit, we would be able to identify whether the project meets the value for money requirement or not, because the way it has been couched, it looks as if the project sum had been understated. Mr Speaker, I think that the project value of US$1.2 billion should be more than US$1.2 billion by the US$176 million that the Ministry requested for in the form of tax exemption. Mr Speaker, strangely, in this Session alone, this Hon House is about to approve a tax waiver including this that would amount to US$445 million, tax exemptions.
Mr Speaker, granting tax exemptions for US$445 million in one parliamentary Session is a bit too much, so I would urge the Hon Minister responsible for Finance to ensure that going forward, they would be able to find a way to bring the tax exemptions a bit down. Mr Speaker, secondly, let me also say that, at the Committee level, we were given copies of the Agreement. I am still of the view that, inasmuch as the Government of Ghana would provide some form of government's Support and Consent Agreement, in the form of a continuous liability amounting to about US$23 million per anum for eight years, I would encourage the Hon Minister for Finance to come to Parliament to protect himself and to protect the sector Ministry. Mr Speaker, you cannot grant government Support and Consent Agreement without recourse to Parliament, so I know this is a tax exemption, but please, I would advise him that it is in his own interest to come to Parliament and get approval for the government's Support and Consent Agreement. I know the private company may not need it, but it is in the interest of government to come to Parliament, lay bare the Agreement for us to peruse it and then grant permission for them to be able to issue the government's Support and Consent Agreement. Mr Speaker, with these few words, I support the Motion.
Mr Speaker, my good Friend the former Deputy Minister talked about government Support and Consent Agreement.
This one is for 15 years.
This one is for 15 years, and it is US1.6 billion? So Mr Speaker, remember, wonders shall never cease. Mr Speaker, with those few words, I urge Hon Members to support the Motion. Question put and Motion agreed to.
Item numbered 15 -- Resolution. Hon Minister?
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that WHEREAS by the provisions of article 174 (2) of the Constitution, Parliament is empowered to confer power on any person or authority to waive or vary a tax imposed by an Act of Parliament; THE EXERCISE of any power conferred on any person or authority to waive or vary a tax in favour of any person or authority is by the said provisions made subject to the prior approval of Parliament by resolution; BY THE COMBINED operation of the provisions of section 150 (i) of the Customs Act 2015, (Act 891), the Export and Import Act, 1995 (Act 503), the Export Trade, Agricultural and Industrial Fund Act, 2013 (Act 872), the Value Added Tax Act, 2013 (Act 870), the Value Added Tax (Amendment) Act, 2015 (Act 890), the Value Added Tax (Amendment) Act, 2017 (Act 948) and other existing Laws and Regulations applicable to the collection of Customs duties and other taxes on the importation of goods into Ghana, the Minister for Finance may exempt any Statutory Corpora- tion, institution or individual from the payment of duties and taxes otherwise payable under the said Laws and Regulations or waive or vary the requirement of such Statutory Corporation, institution or individual to pay such duties and taxes; IN ACCORDANCE with the provisions of the Constitution and at the request of the Government of Ghana acting through the Minister responsible for Finance, there has been laid before Parliament a request by the Minister for Finance for the prior approval of Parliament the exercise by him of his power under the Laws and Regulations relating to the waiver of Import Duties, Import VAT, ECOWAS Levy, EXIM Levy, Special Import Levy and other approved imposts of up to the Ghana cedi equivalent of one hundred and seventy-six million, seven hundred and ninety-nine thousand, one hundred and ninety-three United States dollars (US$176,799,193.00) for Fifteen years on equipment and materials to be procured for the Implementation of the National Identification Project. NOW THEREFORE, this Honourable House hereby approves the exercise by the Minister responsible for Finance of the power granted to him by Parliament by Statute to waive such Import Duties, Import VAT, ECOWAS Levy, EXIM Levy, Special Import Levy and other approved imposts of up to the Ghana cedi equivalent of one hundred and seventy-six million, seven hundred and ninety-nine thousand, one hundred and ninety-three United States dollars (US$176,799,193.00) for fifteen years on equipment and materials to be procured for the Implementation of the National Identification Project.
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion. Question put and Motion agreed to. Resolved accordingly.
Hon Majority Leader, are we on the hour of 2.00 p.m. where we rise till 4p.m.?
Mr Speaker, rightly so.
I pray that all that needs to be done would be done so that when we, come it would be a matter of an hour and we would be finished.
Mr Speaker, very well.
Mr Speaker, we agreed we should do all necessary discussions before 4p.m.
In the interim -- Hon Leader, may I have your attention please? If we may please have these Papers presented, so that they can even be considered before we come back, that is on the Order Paper Addendum, (a) and (b).
Mr Speaker, we can take on the Addendum Paper (a), and that would be done by the Hon Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation.
Mr Speaker, the Committee is yet to meet on item numbered (b) on the Order Paper Addendum. So I believe that by the time we come back, we could lay that Paper. They would meet within that two-hour break. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, I was just trying to enquire from you: per Order 75, of our Standing Order before a Paper is laid, copies must be sufficiently ready with the Clerks-at-the-able.
“Annual Report of Presidential Office Staff for the period January to December, 2017”, I want to find out if copies are ready and if we could get them today.
Very well. The House stands suspended till 4 p.m. It is 4 p.m. prompt! And we shall not be prompted by any bell as such. We would come by the time that we have agreed on. Thank you very much Hon Members. 2.04 p.m. -- Sitting suspended. 5.30 p.m. -- Sitting resumed.
Hon Deputy Majority Whip?
Mr Speaker, we may take Motion numbered 8 on page 4 of today's Order Paper.
Motion 8 - Hon Chairman of the Committee?
Mr Speaker, we would want to follow what the Hon Member is presenting but we do not have copies of the Report. We do not know what he would read. All of us do not have copies. [Interruption] Hon Members are ready to contribute, so he should give us copies of the Report before we can proceed.
Mr Speaker, the Report was distributed yesterday --
Hon Members, I will crave your indulgence that as more copies come round, we will accommodate him.
Mr Speaker, I rise to second the Motion for the adoption of the Report tabled by the Hon Vice Chairman of the Committee. Mr Speaker, in doing so, I would want to state that, different sub-Committees visited a total of 45 Assemblies in the country and focussed mainly on sanitation, use of IGF as well as the disbursement of Disability Fund to the People with Disabilities (PWDs) in the various districts. Mr Speaker, it was very clear that most of the assemblies, in fact, about 98 per cent of assemblies visited, depended on the major sanitation company in the country to carry out sanitation duties. They had confirmed agreements with this very company and they emphasised that without those efforts, they would not be able to discharge sanitation duties in their assemblies. We, therefore, recommend that the DACF should be able to live up to its expectations make payment due on the contracts to the service providers so that they could continue to carry out these sanitation activities in their various zones. Mr Speaker, we saw that environmental sanitation was the biggest assignment the assemblies have been carrying out with regard to waste; both liquid and solid. In order to prevent disasters happening within the assembly zones due to improper treatment of waste, it would be necessary for us to emphasise these activities so that they could be helped to deliver on their mandates. Mr Speaker, we also noted that PWDs were previously not registered but now, most of the assemblies have registered them. With the assistance of the DACF, the assemblies have been able to prepare albums for them. So, in every district, we have the name of the PWDs, their pictures, contact numbers and the type of disability the person has. Mr Speaker, we recommended also to the assemblies that further disbursement of assistance should be based on the numbers that are in the various assemblies rather than simply sending money. It should be based exactly on the numbers that are in each district. Mr Speaker, we also found out that, some of the dustbins procured by Government and distributed to the assemblies have all not been used. Some are still being kept in warehouses and the rest are not even well protected.
Thank you very much. We would take one from each side of the House and Leaders may want to conclude. Yes, Hon Member?
Mr Speaker, I rise to support the Motion on the Floor and I wish to make some few comments. Mr Speaker, this had been one of the most useful monitoring visits that had been undertaken by the Committee on Local Government and Rural Development. Mr Speaker, we have been in this House and a number of comments have been passed about whether the sanitation component of the Youth Employment Agency (YEA) was being applied appropriately and whether our waste is being managed properly. Mr Speaker, considering the Report, we observed that, there are critical decisions that need to be taken by the assemblies. The need to teach people to dump waste appropriately. One of the things which would help to support this need is to ensure that each household is provided with a bin, and the waste in the bin would have to be appropriately disposed off at a regular pace. This is to prevent the practice whereby people just dump waste in the major drains in the big cities. It is recommended that, the waste bins should be equitably distributed. It came to the notice of the Committee that, 450 bins which were given to the District Assemblies had already been distributed. But we would say that, they were not adequate because there was the need to ensure that each household was provided with such bins. Mr Speaker, we would like to recommend through our observation that the right bye-laws should be enacted to ensure the enforcement and the operationalisation of waste bins in the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies. We must ensure that both completed and uncompleted houses are provided with such waste bins. Looking at the inefficient disposal of waste in our system, one of the observations made was the fact that the service providers—
Hon Member, you would conclude, we have got a whole Bill to deal with.
Service providers do not have the right equipment to dispose of waste efficiently. Mr Speaker, in conclusion, I would like to add that we need to adopt the right revenue collection system to ensure that the Metropolitan and Municipal Assemblies have the right revenues to develop Municipalities and District Assemblies. Mr Speaker, with these few words, I thank you.
Thank you very much, Hon Member. Yes, Hon Member?
Thank you, Mr Speaker. As had been said earlier by earlier contributors, your Committee visited nine out of the ten regions with the exception of Greater Accra.
Hon Members, Order!
Mr Speaker, IGF generation is not very encouraging. Mr Speaker, importantly, we have realised that for those mechanised revenue collectors who are on government payroll, their performance is not encouraging at all. Some of them earn as much as GH¢800.00 or GH¢1,000.00 a month but within the whole month, they collect about GH¢100.00 or GH¢200.00. So, if government pays someone a thousand cedis a month and throughout the thirty days in the month, that person only brings in revenue of GH¢200 cedis, you would realise that, we are actually running at a loss. So, our main recommendation would be for each of the assemblies to shift to employ more commission collectors because they would earn as much as they bring in. Mr Speaker, another important thing that we realised was that, almost all the assemblies, with the exception of the bigger ones, the Metropolitan and some of the Municipal Assemblies use 100 per cent of their IGF for recurrent expenditure. If the citizenry cannot see any tangible projects that the local taxes that they pay are used for, it becomes a disincentive for them to continue to pay taxes to their assemblies. So, our recommendation is for the Ministry to ensure that the directive to the assemblies that, at least, 20 per cent of their IGF be used for capital expenditure, is strictly enforced. Mr Speaker, most of the assemblies have not gazetted their local by-laws, so they are not able to prosecute based on their local bye-laws. So, we encouraged them to make sure that their bye-laws are gazetted. Mr Speaker, valuation of property is a major thing that most of the assemblies complained about. Property rates were based on valuation that was made 10 years ago. So, the values of the properties are very low, and the amount that comes to the Assemblies is insignificant. If the assemblies would be able to make more revenues from property rates, then, it is important that current values of properties are used. Mr Speaker, but the challenge of the assemblies is that, it is very expensive to embark on this valuation of properties. The Valuation Board would have to find a way to assist the Assemblies in order to reduce the amount of bills that are given to them. We believe that if this is done, the amount of money that the assemblies would be able to realise from property rates would help them a lot to improve on the IGF performance. Mr Speaker, with these few words, I would want to conclude. Thank you.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, for giving me the opportunity to contribute to the Motion. Mr Speaker, while I support the Motion, I would make a few comments. I cannot proceed without thanking you for giving us the opportunity to embark upon this monitoring visits. Mr Speaker, our visit to most of the assemblies revealed the weaknesses in the system. We came to the conclusion that most of the assemblies really had problems ranging from lack of technical skills or expertise by the people there which would enable them do the work given them. On that note, I would also recommend that, the Hon Minister for Local Government and Rural Development, together with the Local Government Service, recruits people specifically with the needs of the Assemblies in mind. Mr Speaker, on page 9 of the Report, under “Provision of Services and Infrastructure” with your permission, I quote: “The Committee believes that it is natural that while people pay their rates, they expect the Assembly to provide certain basic amenities in their communities. However, the provision of services by MMDAs is below expectation of most ratepayers. The Committee observed that although the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development had recommended that about 20-30 per cent of the IGF should be used for capital projects, most of the Assemblies visited had spent all the revenue generated on recurrent expenditure.” This was one of the issues that was discussed in most of the meetings that we had. The people expect a lot from the assemblies. The staff told us that when they went out to collect these taxes and rates, the people asked what the moneys they paid were used for. Due to that the citizenry are unwilling to pay rates and taxes which have made most of the assemblies unable to achieve their targets set every year. Some assemblies do not even know the number of telecommunication masts that they have to collect moneys for. Some have 20, yet the private companies outsourced to collect the moneys would underdeclare that there are 10 and make accounts for 10. This is one of the serious problems the assemblies are facing. They need to know the number of properties that they have to collect rates on and the areas where they have to focus their attention on. Mr Speaker, we recommended that every year, the assemblies should liaise with the National Service Secretariat, so that service personnel would be posted to most of these Assemblies to help in data collection. With this, at the beginning of the year, they would know where to collect their moneys from. I cannot conclude without touching on one sensitive area, and that is the area of sanitation. On page 11 of the Report, and with your permission, I would just quote two lines and conclude --
Hon Member, we have the Report, so we are more interested in your words.
Mr Speaker, in the Report, when we visited the assemblies, they had a number of organisations and private companies responsible for waste collection. However, those companies were not known to the people. Whenever there was a problem, they would just mention one company's name. In some of those assemblies, such companies did not even operate there. So, it is the responsibility of the Assembly to let the people know the companies responsible for managing waste within their jurisdictions, so that whenever there is a problem, they would know who to blame. Those in charge of liquid waste management, especially in Kumasi under Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly, do not have a place to send their liquid waste. Sometimes, they throw them into drains and even in the open. This was a serious challenge. We have to bring it to your doorstep and the public must know, including the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development as well as the Hon Minister for Sanitation and Water Resources, so that he provides a liquid waste treatment plant for the people of Kumasi Metropolitan area as soon as possible. Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity.
Thank you very much Hon Member. Majority Leadership, any comments? Question put and Motion agreed to.
Hon Majority Leader, do we move to item numbered 5 (c)?
Yes, Mr Speaker, item numbered 5 (c).
Motion numbered 5 (c), on the Order Paper Chairman of the Committee?
Mr Speaker, it is the presentation of Papers -- that is the presentation of the Report from the Committee by the Hon Chairman of the Committee.
Who presents it?
Mr Speaker, the Chairman of the Committee on Defence and the Interior.
Item numbered 5 (d).
Could we move to the original Order Paper Addendum, item (b). Hon Majority Leader, is that where we are? Report of the Finance Committee?
Mr Speaker, item (a) was laid in the morning, so we would deal with item (b), by the Hon Chairman of the Finance Committee.
Chairman of the Committee, the Report. By the Chairman of the Committee -- Report of the Finance Committee on the Credit Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Ghana and Raiffeisen Bank International AG, Austria for an amount not exceeding eight million, four hundred thousand euros (€8,400,000.00) to finance the Up- Grading and Enhancement of Technical and Vocational Training Centres.
Addendum 2, Presentation of Papers. Minister for Finance? By the Minister for Finance Annual Report on the Management of the Energy Sector Levies and Accounts for the Year 2017. Referred to the Finance Committee.
Hon Members, item numbered 25 on page 16 on the original Order Paper. Hon Chairman of the Committee?
BILLS -- CONSIDERATION STAGE
Mr Speaker, the first advertised amendment which is ‘'New Clause',' item (i) on the Order Paper stands in the name of Hon Frederick Opare- Ansah and not the Hon Chairman of the Committee.
Hon Frederick Opare- Ansah?
Hon Chairman of the Committee, what is your observation?
Mr Speaker, I am ready to oppose the amendment, so if the Hon Member is not present to move it --
Hon Chairman of the Committee, do you oppose the amendment?
Yes, Mr Speaker. I believe this amendment should be withdrawn.
Yes, Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, there are two proposed amendments which stand in the name of the Hon Fredrick Opare-Ansah and the two seemed to relate to the same thing. I wonder how that could be done. It is the same person who has proposed two amendments to the same clause, so perhaps he may opt for one and abandon the other. Two amendments cannot be proposed in the same clause. That is my worry. Mr Speaker, in any event, the import of this amendment is to cap the issuance of licenses to not more than four, except that, he said the Hon Minister may vary the number by the issuance of a Legislative Instrument. The reasons for the variation is not indicated and if they are not indicated, then it is better we incorporate it in the main body of the Act or the Bill. I do not see the relevance of the two at all. Mr Speaker, I believe that as the Hon Chairman of the Committee has indicated, we could do without it and move on.
The position of the Hon Chairman of the Committee is that the proposed amendment should not stand part of the Bill.
Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, regrettably, the Hon Frederick Opare-Ansah is not available to move his own proposed amendments. Mr Speaker, even as he walks in, he owes us a duty to justify why he thinks that the licenses must be restricted to four. Mr Speaker, he may move the proposed amendments and we would oppose him. He is an expert in the telecommunication sector, so why would he do this? Four license limitation is not the best. He should withdraw the proposed amendment so that we can make progress.
Hon Opare-Ansah, we are on the ‘'New Clause'' item (ii), which had been advertised on the Order Paper. You may withdraw so that we would make progress or you may want to -- As for the ‘'New clause roman numeral (i)'', it has been abandoned.
Mr Speaker, I take a cue from your guidance and I accordingly withdraw the proposed amendments.
Hon Chairman of the Committee, item (iii)? Second Schedule -- Content of Fiscal Receipt
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, iii. Second Schedule -- delete and insert the following: “SECOND SCHEDULE (Section 6 (3)) Contents of Fiscal Receipt A fiscal receipt shall A) have a header that specifies i) the name of the taxable person, ii) the business address, iii) email address, iv) telephone number, v) Tax Office, vi) taxpayer identification number, vii) taxpayer FED registration ID, viii) fiscal Device number (2-digit Manufacturer code, 2- digit Supplier code, serial No), and ix) the taxpayer identification number of the customer (if known); B) have a body that specifies i) fiscal receipt number (serial transaction number of the day followed by cumulative transaction number); ii) Daily Z report number iii) For each item (a) item description, (b) quantity, (c) price per unit, (d) amount, (e) Tax code applicable, (f) Tax amount (Value Added Tax and National Health Insurance Levy), iv) total amount in Cedis before tax, v) total amount of tax, vi) total amount payable in Cedis, vii) payment method, and viii) number of items sold; C) have a footer that specifies i) the date and time, ii) the Fiscal Electronic Journal Serial No, iii) Electronic Journal Activation Date, iv) the fiscal receipt notification, v) the fiscal logo (manufacturer Id), vi) QR-2017code 57X57 (encrypted code from: TIN, Taxpayer Reg. ID, receipt number Code also has signature data TIN, Reg ID, Receipt No. Total Sale, Total Tax, Date, Time. Receipt Signature using SHAI made up from TIN, Reg ID, Receipt No, Total Sale, Total Tax, Date, Time -- Scan-able with Smart Phone.” Mr Speaker, there were a number of errors in the Second Schedule in the Bill, so we effected corrections and then decided that the entire Schedule be deleted and replaced with a corrected version. Mr Speaker, I however, seek your leave to make a further amendment to the Second Schedule. Mr Speaker, in item (vi) of paragraph C, delete and insert ‘'quick response code''.
Yes, Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, in respect of the Second Schedule as the Hon Chairman of the Committee moved, if he has no objection, I would seek to improve it for instance, under ‘'Contents of Fiscal Receipt'' , ‘'A fiscal receipt shall A) have a header that specifies i) the taxable person, Mr Speaker, the words ‘'taxable person'' should be added then the rest of the words can then flow -- for example, ‘'the name'', then we would have to delete “the name of the taxable person''. Other than that, as we go further, when it gets to the ‘'business address'' then it must be qualified with ‘'taxable person'', and ‘'email address'' must be qualified with ‘'taxable person'', “telephone number'' must be qualified with ‘'taxable person''.
‘'A fiscal receipt shall have a header that specifies the taxable person's; A) name; then the rest would follow. Mr Speaker, if the Hon Chairman of the Committee has no objection, this is more elegant than what he proposed. Other than that, he should prepare because as we go through each item, we must qualify for example, ‘'email address'' with ‘'taxable person''; it cannot just stand as ‘'email address''. Mr Speaker, I so propose.
Hon Chairman of the Committee, are you in the position to take it?
Mr Speaker, it would have been elegant if it runs through. As we go along too, with what he has proposed, if we get to item numbered 25 (A) (vi) on the Order Paper, then what he proposes would read, “have a header that specifies the taxable persons”.
Hon Minority Leader, I thought you would pay attention to the Hon Chairman, so that you could —
Mr Speaker, I said the rendition the Hon Minority Leader proposes, as we go along and we take, for example, item 25 (iii) (A) (vi) and (vii), it would not flow. It would then read: “A fiscal receipt shall (A) have a header that specifies the taxable person tax payer” — Then it would not be as elegant as he proposes.
Mr Speaker, I still maintain that. Mr Speaker, once you are guided, you could put the Question with a directive to the draftsperson. We said that “Contents of Fiscal Receipts” — what should be in a fiscal receipt? What would we want a header to specify? The name of the taxable person. So, it would read the name, the
business address, the e-mail address, the telephone number, the tax office — Maybe, we would want a tax identification number. Mr Speaker, if we premise it with the name of the taxable person, then we must maintain same taxable person when we come to business address, e-mail address and telephone number. So to avoid that, I propose that, and I beg to read: “A fiscal receipt shall A) have a header that specifies (i) the name (ii) the business address” Then we would be referring to the taxable person.
Mr Speaker, I have no objection, except to say that we would defer to the draftspersons to clean it up.
Very well. Hon Members, I would put the Question except that the draftpersons would then conclude the process accordingly. Question put and amendment agreed to. The Second Schedule as amended ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Hon Chairman of the Committee, where are we now?
Mr Speaker, there is an amendment in item (iv) on page 18 of the Order Paper for today. It stands in the name of the Hon Minority Leader and Hon Rockson-Nelson E. K. Dafeamekpor. [Interruption.]
Hon Members, order!
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, long Title -- line 1, before “use” insert “obligatory” Mr Speaker, this is as a result of the fact that the essence of the enactment of this law and all amendments that have been occasioned so far is to ensure that the issues that we agree on becomes obligatory for any member who would be affected. Therefore, we believe that it is not out of place to ensure that “obligatory” reflects in the Long Title.
Mr Speaker, I believe we had gone through this route before when we argued against this amendment. This is an Act of Parliament, and it is obligatory. It has the force of the law. So for us to insert “obligatory” in the Long Title, I believe the Hon Member should abandon this amendment so that we could make progress.
Mr Speaker, Hon Dafeamekpor has moved the amendment but may I indulge you and further seek your leave to substitute the word “obligatory” for “mandatory”?
Mr Speaker, does the Hon Minority Leader suggest that if we do not insert “mandatory” it does not make the use of the Fiscal Electronic Device mandatory?
Hon Chairman, some- times, the way to make progress is to be flexible. So, apply some flexibility and let us make progress.
Mr Speaker, applying flexibility, I have no objection.
Very well. Question put and amendment agreed to.
Hon Chairman, any further amendment on the Long Title?
Mr Speaker, still on the Long Title, I beg to move, Long Title - line 2, after “persons” insert “for tax compliance and promotion of cashlite sale transactions”. Question put and amendment agreed to. Long Title as variously amended ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Mr Speaker, technically, we have come to the end of the Consideration Stage. Before we go to the Third Reading, I have signalled that I would move, that the Bill be taken through a Second Consideration Stage.
Your signal is taken. Hon Members, for the time being, this ends the Consideration Stage.
Mr Speaker, item numbered 26 on page 18 of the Order Paper — Motions
Hon Deputy Minister, item numbered 26 -- Hon Deputy Minister for Finance?
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that notwithstanding the provisions of Standing Order 131(1) which require that when a Bill has passed through the Consideration Stage, the third reading thereof shall not be taken until at least twenty-four hours have elapsed, the Motion for the third reading of the Taxation (Use of Fiscal Electronic Device) Bill, 2017 may be moved today.
Hon Members, who seconds the Motion?
Mr Speaker, I thought the Hon Deputy Minister would have at least given us some reasons for which he asks that we suspend the Standing Order, but he has failed to give us that reason. Mr Speaker, secondly, he also did not ask for your leave.
Hon Member, the person who wants to second the Motion would please do so.
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion. Question put and Motion agreed to. Item numbered 27, Motion -- Hon Deputy Minister for Finance?
BILLS -- SECOND CONSIDERATION
Mr Speaker, I beg to come under Order 130 (1) and seek your leave to move, that the Taxation (Use of Fiscal Electronic Device) Bill, 2017 be taken through a Second Consideration Stage in respect of clauses 16, 24, 36 and the Fifth Schedule.
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion. Question put and Motion agreed to.
For that matter, we shall go through a Second Consideration Stage quickly. Hon Chairman of the Committee?
Mr Speaker, the amendment agreed to in clause 19 (3) reads: “a supplier who is issued a licence under this section shall display the licence at the business premises of the supplier”.
“a supplier who is issued a license under this section shall display the licence at a conspicuous place at the business premises of the supplier”. We left out “at a conspicuous place”, but we believe it is useful to bring it in here for clarity.
Mr Speaker, I made this same amendment when we did the Consideration Stage initially. The Hon Chairman of the Committee appeared to have opposed it. So, what has changed such that, he comes to do exactly the same thing? Mr Speaker, when we say “conspicuous place” -- could we basically say ‘at the front door' or something so that everybody knows? What is the definition of “conspicuous place” in a building? So, I believe I would want to make a further amendment. If this may be at the reception, we can be specific -- “at the reception or the front door”. Talking of conspicuous place in this building, for instance, could be anything; it could even be at the back of the building. So, the Hon Chairman should come a bit clearer.
Hon Member, so what suggestion do you offer? It seems you basically agree to the amendment.
Mr Speaker, yes. I would suggest that, it should be, maybe, at the reception or near the entrance of a building.
Mr Speaker, I would oppose to his further amendment. Mr Speaker, what happens if the business premises does not have a reception or if the reception is inconspicuous? Everybody knows what a conspicuous place in a business premises is, so I would ask that we leave it like that. Thank you.
Mr Speaker, further to what the Hon Chairman of the Committee has said, there would be Regulations to guide the implementation of this law. I believe matters like these are best left to Regulations, where it could be stated more clearly where the Authority would consider to be a conspicuous place. Mr Speaker, in that regard, I appeal to my Hon Colleague, Mr Agbodza, to abandon his amendment. I thank you.
Mr Speaker, every building has an entrance. Whether it is a reception or not, there is an entrance there. Further to the Hon Chairman's amendment and that of my Hon Colleague, I would prefer we use “the entrance of a business premises”.
“Entrance” [Pause.] Yes, Hon Forson?
Mr Speaker, I disagree with the use of “entrance”. I say this because there may be various entrances at a business premise. Maybe one entrance at the back and another entrance elsewhere. So, I do not believe ‘entrance' is the right word to describe a business premise that is conspicuous.
Hon Members, the rules in a Supreme Court only tell bailiffs when they are going to do substituted service to place it on the premises. Now, we trust that whoever would place this would place it in a place that is easy to see - a place that is conspicuous. If the entrance is seen as conspicuous, so let it be. I believe we can make progress once we agree that it should be “at a conspicuous place in the premises”. Question put and amendment agreed to. Clause 19 as further amended ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 36 -- Interpretation -- definition of ‘Fiscal Electronic Device'. Mr Speaker, the definition for “Fiscal Electronic Device” should read “Fiscal Electronic Device” means a machine approved by the Authority and designed by an approved manufacturer for use in business for efficient management control for purposes of this Act”.
Hon Chairman of the Committee, why only the ‘design'? You do not care who manufactures it but who designs it. What is the intention? Hon Chairman of the Committee, if you can make yourself clear and help Hon Members -- what about who actually manufactured it?
Mr Speaker, I said, “designed by an approved manufacturer”. The Authority would select an approved manufacturer where suppliers are to procure the machines from. This is to prevent the --
Hon Chairman of the Committee, why would you not want us to have “approved manufacturer” and leave out “designer” because a manufacturer is not necessarily a designer. [Interruptions.] The one who manufactures is not necessarily a designer. Let us be neat.
Mr Speaker, I really do not understand what the Hon Chairman of the Committee wants to amend. Is he amending it to mean that the Fiscal Electronic Device qualifies the approved manufacturer? No. We already have in the Bill that one cannot import or buy from any place if it is not accepted by the GRA. So, it is the GRA that selects the suppliers, and that implies that they would even go to inspect the manufacturer's site and agree with them on the type of machines they want. So, I do not understand why he further adds “approved” because it is in the body of the Bill.
Hon Chairman of the Committee?
Mr Speaker, I would want to replace “design” with “produced”, so that it would read: “Fiscal Electronic Device means a machine approved by the Authority and produced by an approved manufacturer for use in business for efficient management control for purposes of this Act.”
Mr Speaker, I still cannot understand why the Hon Chairman of the Committee would go on this tangent. I
Mr Speaker, we would want only the devices that are produced by approved manufacturers to be used in the jurisdiction. So, the fact that somebody gets another entity to produce a device that fits the specification of that which has been approved by the Authority does not mean that it could be used here. So, it must be approved by the Authority and produced by a manufacturer who has been approved or selected by the Authority. So, this two must be met before it becomes what is considered in the Act as a Fiscal Electronic Device.
Mr Speaker, if anybody takes, maybe, a sample of the approved equipment and goes somewhere to manufacture it, it means that is not approved. So, I suggest that we take your directive and leave it as “approved”. If it is approved, they would tell which manufacturers one should get it from. It would even appear in the Regulations anyway. So, Mr Speaker, the Hon Chairman of the Committee could help us make progress by leaving it at “approved”.
Hon Member, the Authority is the one that would judge the matter. If it says it approves of you, you are approved.
Mr Speaker, I replaced “design” earlier with “produced”, and I believe it is sufficient; so, if we could make progress.
Please, repeat that or you would want --
Mr Speaker, I beg to I read: “Fiscal Electronic Device means a machine approved by the Authority and produced by an approved manufacturer for use in business for efficient management control for purposes of this Act.”
Hon Chairman of the Committee, the Hon Member wants you to end at “…approved by the Authority.”
Very well, Mr Speaker.
Thank you very much. Question put and amendment agreed to. Clause 36 as amended ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Hon Chairman of the Committee, any further amendments?
Mr Speaker, we have an amendment in the Fifth Schedule. In the Bill, we had “Standards Authority”. An amendment was proposed to change the name to “Ghana Standards Authority”. Our attention has been drawn to the fact that in section 1 of the Standards Authority Act, 1973, (NRCD 175), the official name of the institution is “Standards Authority”. So, we would go back to what is in the Bill.
Yes, Hon Member?
Mr Speaker, I agree with the amendment, but I would want to make a further amendment. When it comes to information technology in Ghana, we have the National Information Technology Agency (NITA), which sets technical standards for technical devices, but they are missing in here. I believe that, if they are put on this committee, they would ensure higher technical standards even better than the Ghana Standards Authority.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Member has come too late. The amendment he sought to propose was effected a long time ago in the course of going through this Bill. [Laughter.] So, Mr Speaker, “the Standards Authority” would be the amended item. Mr Speaker, but by including NITA, we took out National Communications Authority (NCA). We would want to bring back NCA. So, that amendment should be effected as well.
Mr Speaker, I am surprised that the Hon Chairman of the Committee yielded to the temptation of Hon Samuel George. He moved a good amendment in respect of the Fifth Schedule, which must be taken on its own merit. The “Standards Authority”, rightfully in their law, must be referred to same in this legislation. That one is appropriate because it is the Standards Authority established by the NRCD Act of 1973. So, you may put the Question. So, Mr Speaker, I would limit myself to Standards Authority.
Thank you very much. Yes, Hon Chairman of the Committee, make your question clear.
Mr Speaker, you may put the Question. We took out. “Ghana” from “Ghana Standards Authority”. Question put and amendment agreed to. Fifth Schedule as amended ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 24 -- in the Votes and Proceedings --
Hon Chairman, it is as if you are taking us through the entire Consideration Stage.
Mr Speaker, some of these mistakes are from the records of Parliament, and they are in the Votes and Proceedings of 7th March, 2018.
So, where are you?
Mr Speaker, I am on clause 24.
Mr Speaker, I said that, in the Votes and Proceedings of 7th March, 2018, the amendment that was agreed on was to insert clauses 8, 13, 20 and 21; but the Votes and Proceedings omitted clause 13. Mr Speaker, so, I beg to move to re-insert clause 13.
I remember that in a very similar matter, the Hon Minority Leader had to intervene so that what had been decided upon would actually reflect in the Hansard. Question put and amendment agreed to. Clause 24 as further amended stands part of the Bill.
Mr Speaker, with your leave, I beg to move a further amendment to clause 16. Mr Speaker, this would be the last amendment that I would move. Mr Speaker, I beg to move that, clause 16, delete subclause (1), and insert the following: “A person shall not supply a physical electronic device to another person or obtain a physical electronic device from another person unless the supplier is licensed by the Authority.”
That is very clear.
Mr Speaker, when the Hon Chairman moved for the Second Consideration Stage, he invoked Standing Order 130 (2) and as required by the Orders, he indicated to you the specific clauses for which per your leave, he wanted to further proceed on under the Second Consideration Stage. Mr Speaker, as I heard him and as it was recorded, clause 16 was not part of it, but you have graciously accommodated him. That is how it should be, but he must be advised that, he just moved an amendment where he said that “a device approved by the Authority”; designed or produced by the Authority -- Mr Speaker, that makes this amendment redundant, so he should abandon it.
Hon Chairman, you are being advised.
Mr Speaker, indeed, Clause 16 was not part --
Hon Chairman, I am not asking you to respond because it may rise sleeping dogs that are lying.
Mr Speaker, sleeping dogs would lie but --
The Hon Minority Leader has already indicated that he would oblige, but he is only warning and drawing attention that this is not the pathway that we must tread. Hon Chairman, are you addressing other people?
Mr Speaker, he said that I should abandon this amendment; but I wanted to draw your attention because originally, this was not my amendment. It came from the Hon Deputy Minister, so I wanted to defer --
It does not matter where it came from originally. The fact is that it has become part of the record of the Consideration Stage, which was supervised by you as the Hon Chairman. So please go on.
Mr Speaker, I do not want to abandon the amendment; so if the Hon Minority Leader would indulge me, we should proceed.
If you stand by the amendment -- I believe that he was not saying no.
Mr Speaker, I seek your leave to insert that under clause 16 and also include clause 16 as part of the clauses to be considered under the Second Consideration Stage. Question put and amendment agreed to.
Hon Chairman, you are receiving fans while you should be paying attention to the Chair. Do you have any further amendments to clause 16?
Mr Speaker, I am done. Clause 16 as amended ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Hon Chairman, I hope you have finished?
Mr Speaker, I am done, so we could end the Second Consideration Stage.
Hon Members, this brings us to the end of the Second Consideration Stage. We would now continue with matters arising out of the Motion numbered 27. Hon Minister for Finance? Hon Deputy Minister for Finance (Mr Kwaku A. Kwarteng): Mr Speaker, I beg to move that the Taxation (Use of Fiscal Electronic Device) Bill, 2017 be now read the Third time.
Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, you are in the Chair and in charge. Mr Speaker, is he the Hon Minister for Finance? For the record, he must seek your leave before he proceeds. He cannot just rise, because he is not the Hon Minister for Finance. Mr Speaker, he is laying it on behalf of the Hon Minister, so it is only appropriate that he shows respect to your authority and where you sit. It is a procedure, and he is not the Hon Minister for Finance.
Hon Majority Leader, if you would formally seek permission for him?
Mr Speaker, for those who want us to be very technical, may I indicate to them that when the Hon Minority Leader speaks and they are in agreement, the response that should come from them is “Hear! Hear!” and not “Yeah! Yeah!”. Mr Speaker, in the morning I had applied for the Hon Deputy Minister for Finance; but it would not take anything away if I have to re-apply because this is another Session of today's Sitting. Mr Speaker, so I seek your leave and the indulgence of my Hon Colleagues to have the Hon Deputy Minister represent the substantive Hon Minister who is in a meeting as we speak.
Thank you very much.
Hon Members, the Hansard is important because if I announce that the Hon Minister for Finance and another person stands up, we may create an impression that is wrong, because the person concerned is the Hon Minister for Finance.
Hon Deputy Minister, please proceed. [Interruption.] Order! Order! When an Hon Member or an Hon Minister rises to move a Motion, that person reads as per the Motion on the Order Paper. So he needs not say “on behalf”. All you need to say is what is on the Order Paper. Please proceed.
BILLS -- THIRD READING
Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, the Motion numbered as item 16 on the Order Paper.
Mr Speaker, I beg to
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion. Question put and Motion agreed to. Resolved accordingly.
We would move on to the substantive Motion listed 17. Hon Chairman of the Committee? Credit Agreement between GoG and Raiffeisen Bank International AG on the Up-Grading and Enhancement of Technical Vocational Training Centres
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that this Honourable House adopts the Report of the Finance Committee on the Credit Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Ghana and Raiffeisen Bank International AG, Austria for an amount not exceeding eight million, four hundred thousand euros (€8,400,000.00) to finance the Up-Grading and Enhancement of Technical and Vocational Training Centres. Introduction The loan Agreement between the Government of Ghana and Raiffeisen Bank International AG in the sum of eight million, four hundred thousand euros (€8,400,000) for the financing of up- grading of technical and vocational training centers was first presented to the House on Wednesday, 21st March, 2018 and referred to the Finance Committee in accordance with the Standing Orders of the House. The Committee met with the Hon Minister for Education, Hon. Matthew Opoku Prempeh, a Deputy Minister for Finance, Hon Abena Osei Asare and a technical team from the Ministries of Finance and Education to consider the Agreement. Background It is the responsibility of the Ministry of Education to provide the relevant quality technical and vocational education and training skills delivery to meet Ghana's socio-economic development. The Ministry ensures this through its Technical and Vocational Education Division and the Technical Institutes. The Technical Institutes are presently poorly endowed in terms of physical resources and staff capabilities to enable them contribute meaningfully and strategically to manpower development. The current circumstances require that the institutes evolve into relevant providers of technological education programmes to increase the match between skills and prospective job opportunities and help supply the manpower requirements for the developing industrial sectors of Ghana in the context of a technologically advanced global economy. In view of the perennial resource shortages, the technical institutes have had to contend with technological education programmes and equipment that are already outdated based on current and emerging applications in the world of work. Due to this, many of the past graduates were poorly prepared for the job market not withstanding having completed their education and training. It is to address the above that the Ministry of Education, through its Technical/ Vocational Education Division (TVED), has taken the responsibility to undertake a project aimed at enhancing the technical education and the up-grading of the technical institutes to enable the training institutes train young Ghanaians to become reliable and professional workforce. The Project is also designed to boost the supply of skilled Ghanaian mid-level technical professionals by providing adequate equipment in technical trades to four (4) technical institutes namely Sacred Heart Technical Institute, St. Joseph Technical Institute, Have Technical Institute and Kwadaso Technical Institute. Teachers in these institutes would also be trained in their tasks to enable them train and educate young professionals to become active partners in the socio-economic development of Ghana. In order to finance this project, the Government of Ghana has sourced for financing from Raiffeisen Bank International AG of Austria. It is this financing Agreement that has been presented to Parliament for approval.
Object of the Loan The object of the loan is to finance the up-grade of Technical Institutes and Vocational Training centers project which primarily seeks to: 1.Improve the quality and efficiency of the Technical Education being provided by the Technical Institutes; 2.Enhance the graduates absorp- tion by the labour market; and 3.Enable graduands to take active part in the country's socio- economic development. Scope of the Project The major components of the Project are: a)Engineering of laboratory and workshop equipment; b)Partly development of infrastruc- tural facilities at the technical institutes (workshops); c) Engineering of workshop layout for installation of equipment; d) Supply and installation of laboratory and workshop equipment including spare parts and consumables; e)Teachers and instructors training including Management training. Terms of the Loan The terms of the loan are as follows: a grant element of 35 per cent for the upgrading of the Technical Institutes in Takoradi, Technical Institute - Tema, and the Technical Institute in Kukuratumi. He said phase one was successfully completed in 2012. Following the successful completion of phase one, the Austrian Government has extended its support through this credit facility to finance this phase two. Value for Money (VfM) Audit The Committee was informed that, this project is phase two. The technical team from the Ministry of Finance informed the Committee that, Value for Money Audit was duly conducted on the project at its initial stages (Phase One). The Committee was assured that the Value for Money Audit Report would be attached to the Commercial Agreement when presented to Parliament. Establishing More Technical Institutes The Minister for Education intimated that it is the intention of the Ministry to rehabilitate all the existing Technical Institutes and establish new ones. He said that the Ministry is currently in the process of securing another loan to continue with the rehabilitation exercise. After this, about twenty (20) new training institutes are likely to be established. This is in line with the government's vision. He stressed that this is the way to go and that the World Bank has stated that, over 80 per cent of jobs in the region are technical and vocational in nature. It is incumbent therefore on government and the Ministry to improve and establish more technical and vocational training institutes in the country to help address the unemployment situation. Grant Element The Committee observed that the grant element of 41.26 per cent was above the Government's minimum requirement of 35 per cent grant element for all concessional financing. Therefore the loan facility is very concessional. Expected Benefits The Minister for Education indicated that, the project's objective is to offer Technical Institutes the opportunity to assist the national industrial growth through the provision of skilled and reliable workforce in areas where the demand is high. It is to also provide students, job seekers and school leavers with sufficient skills, self-reliance and professionalism during training at the Technical Institutes and to increase their employment chances. When completed, the Project is expected to help reduce unemployment and address the demand for professional technicians by both the formal and informal industrial sector. It is also expected that the project would address the problem of the lack of required skills by a large number of our present graduates seeking for jobs or who want to do self- employment. Conclusion In view of the benefits to be derived from the project, and more importantly, considering the concessional nature of the facility, the Committee is of the view that, the project is in the right direction. The Committee recommends to the House to adopt its Report and approve by Resolution the Concessional loan Agreement between the Government of Ghana and the Raiffeisen Bank International AG in the sum of eight million, four hundred thousand euros
Loan Agreement -- €8,400,000 Grace Period -- 8years Maturity -- 23years Interest Rate -- 0 per cent Management fee -- 0.6 per cent flat Insurance Margin -- 1 per cent p.a. OeKb Fee -- 1 per cent Upfront commission -- 0.82 per cent Grant Element -- 41.26 per cent Observations About the Project The Minster for Education informed the Committee that, the current project is the second phase of an on-going project to up-grade Technical and Vocational Training Institutes in the country. He said the phase one was financed with a soft loan financing facility from the Austrian Government amounting to €7,495,000 with (€8,400,000) for the financing of up- grading of Technical and Vocational Training Centers in accordance with the 1992 Constitution, section 56 of the Public Financial Management Act, 2016 (Act 921) and the Standing Orders of the House. Respectfully submitted.
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion. Mr Speaker, in doing so, I wish to draw the House's attention to the fact that, the terms in the loan Agreement represent a grant element of 24.96 per cent. Strangely, the Ministry of Finance would classify it as a concessional loan. Let me say that this is not a concessional loan; it is a commercial loan. Concessionality starts from 35 per cent and the grant element starts from 35 per cent and not 24 per cent. So the Hon Chairman of the Committee should amend that immediately. It is 24.9 per cent, which is not concessional. Mr Speaker, it is not a concessional loan. It is important to correct that for the records. I say this because, if I may refer you to page 3 of the Committee's Report, it says that -- Mr Speaker, the loan amount that he made reference to is €8.4 million. If it is €8.4 million, then the concessional facility of grant element of 41.2 per cent is a grant element. The second one is certainly not a grant element, and when we get there, we would cross it. Mr Speaker, this is important for the records. I wish to say that the grace period of eight years and maturity of 23 years interest element of zero per cent after a grant element of 41.26 per cent is indeed something that all of us would support. Mr Speaker, I have a concern. My concern is that, in this Session alone, the Honourable House has approved a loan Agreement, equivalent to US$3.3 billion. I have the list. If we are to convert this into Ghanaian cedis, it is about GH¢15 billion. Mr Speaker, in my view, with the rate at which we are going, if we are not careful, we would end up ending the year with debt in excess of GH¢50 billion. Mr Speaker, I would only want to caution the Ministry of Finance that they should hasten slowly in the acquisition of loans. This is important. I thought Ghana was beyond aid, and I thought the money was within this country. We have been made to believe that the money is right here in this country, and we could go out and raise the money not knowing that, within a parliamentary Session, we would end up approving a loan equivalent to US$3.3 billion, which is approximately GH¢15 billion. Mr Speaker, with these few words, I support the Motion but caution the Ministry of Finance to hasten slowly in approving loans.
Thank you very much. Hon Members, this is a very direct one so I would put the Question. Question put and Motion agreed to.
Hon Minister, the accompanying Resolution.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, WHEREAS by the provisions of article 181 of the Constitution and sections 55 and 56 of the Public Financial Management Act, 2016 (Act 921), the terms and conditions of all government borrowings shall be laid before Parliament and shall not come into operation unless the terms and conditions are approved by a resolution of Parliament in accordance with article 181 of the Constitution; PURSUANT to the provisions of the said article 181 of the Constitution and sections 55 and 56 of the Public Financial Management Act, 2016 (Act 921), at the request of the Government of the Republic Ghana acting through the Minister responsible for Finance, there has been laid before Parliament the terms and conditions of a Credit Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Ghana and Raiffeisen Bank International AG, Austria for an amount not exceeding eight million, four hundred thousand euros (€8,400,000.00) to finance the up-grading and enhance- ment of Technical and Vocational Training Centres.
THIS HONOURABLE HOUSE
HEREBY RESOLVES AS
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion. Question put and Motion agreed to. Resolved Accordingly.
Hon Leader, the next item? [Interruption.]
Mr Speaker, item numbered 19 --
Hon Members, order! Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I indicated that we would deal with item numbered 19 on the Order Paper.
Item numbered 19 -- Motion.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that notwithstanding the provisions of Standing Order 80 (1) which require that no Motion shall be debated until at least forty-eight hours have elapsed between the date on which notice of the Motion is given and the date on
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion. Question put and Motion agreed to. Resolved accordingly. Report of the Finance Committee on the Concessional Loan Agreement between GoG and EXIM Bank for the Rehabilitation and Upgrading of Equipment in Technical Universities, et cetera
Mr Speaker, I beg to move that this Honourable House adopts the Report of the Finance Committee on the Government's Concessional Loan Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Ghana and the Export-Import Bank of China for an amount not exceeding seven hundred and fifty-four million renminbi (rmb754,000, 000.00) [equivalent to one hundred and nineteen million, one hundred and one thousand, nine hundred and forty-six United States dollars (US$119,101,946.00)] to finance the Rehabilitation and up- grading of equipment in Technical Universities, Polytechnics and Technical and Vocational Training Centres. Mr Speaker, in so doing, I present the Committee's Report. Introduction The Governments Concessional Loan Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Ghana and the Export- Import Bank of China for an amount not exceeding seven hundred and fifty four million renminbi (RMB754,000,000.00) [equivalent to US$119,101,946.00] to finance the Rehabilitation and up-grading of Equipment in Technical Universities, Polytechnics, Technical and Vocational Training Centres was laid in the House on Friday 23rd March, 2018. Pursuant to article 103 of the 1992 Constitution and Orders 169 and 171 (1) of the Standing Orders of the House, the Agreement was referred to the Committee on Finance for consideration and report. The Committee subsequently met and discussed the Agreement with the Leadership of the Committee on Education, the Minister for Education, Hon Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh, the Minister of State for Tertiary Education, Hon Professsor Yankah, the Deputy Minister for Education, Hon. Barbara Ayisi, the Deputy Minister for Finance, Hon. Abena Osei Asare as well as officials from the Ministries of Finance and Education. The Committee hereby submits this Report to the House pursuant to Order 161 of the Standing Orders of the House. The Committee is grateful to the Honourable Minister for Education, the Minister of State for Tertiary Education, the Deputy Ministers for Finance and Education, and the officials from the Ministries of Finance and Education for attending upon the Committee. The Committee is also appreciative of the Leadership of the Committee on Education for being in attendance and assisting the Committee to deliberate on the Agreement. References The Committee referred to and was guided by the following documents inter alia during its deliberations on the Agreement: The 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana; The Standing Orders of the Parliament of Ghana; The Public Financial Management Act, 2016 (Act 921). Background In 2010, the Government of Ghana requested for financing from the People's Republic of China to finance the rehabilitation and development of 10 technical institutions, five polytechnics and the technical examination unit of the Ghana Education Service (GES). The proposed intervention is part of the ongoing interventions by the sector to expand equitable access and quality of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) in response to overwhelming social demand. Project objective The development objective of the project is to improve the employability of Ghanaians, particularly, the youth, by providing them with the relevant skills and competencies for self and formal employment. This is with the view not only to help reduce unemployment among the youth, but also to encourage indigenous entrepreneurship and further provide Ghanaian industries with the requisite manpower to make them globally competitive. Terms and conditions of the loan The terms and conditions of the Loan are as follows:
Government of China concerning the Chinese EXIM Bank was undergoing a review. The review, he said, took a long time and was concluded only about two days ago, thus paving the way for the Agreement to be submitted to Parliament. The Committee advises all Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to be mindful of the Sitting calendar of Parliament and submit such Agreements in time to allow the House and its Committees adequate time to scrutinise them. Conclusion In view of the foregoing observations, the Committee respectfully recommends to the House to adopt this Report and approve by resolution, the Government Concessional Loan Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Ghana and the Export-Import Bank of China for an amount not exceeding seven hundred and fifty four million renminbi (RMB754,000,000.00) [equivalent to one hundred and nineteen million, one hundred and one thousand, nine hundred and forty six United States dollars (US$119,101,946.00)] to finance the Rehabilitation and Up-grading of Equipment in Technical Universities, Polytechnics and Technical and Vocational Training Centres in accordance with article 181 of the 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana. Respectfully Submitted.
Mr Speaker, I rise to second the Motion and in doing so, I would ask the Hon Chairman of the Committee to amend the cover page of the Report, which says that “Government Concessional Loan”. Mr Speaker, this is not a concessional loan. It is a commercial loan. Mr Speaker, again, if we are to look at the memorandum that was signed by the Hon Minister for Education and the Hon Minister for Finance, it stated that ‘a concessional loan' then added to what we call a grant element to represent 24.96 per cent. Mr Speaker, grant element at 24.96 per cent does not qualify for concessionality. Therefore this is not a concessionality. Concessionality starts from 35 per cent. Mr Speaker, I strongly believe that, the Hon Chairman of the Committee would have to amend the cover page before we adopt the Report. This is because this is a House of records so it is important for us to keep the records. Mr Speaker, again, an amount jof approximately US$120 million would be added to the debt stock If we are to convert it to Ghana cedis, it is approximately GH¢540 million. So, the debt stock is growing by the day. Again, as I said earlier, I caution the Ministry of Finance to hasten slowly in acquiring the debt. Mr Speaker, the appetite for debt is becoming too much in this country. So it is important they slow it down. Question put and Motion agreed to.
Hon Minority Leader there was no indication but you may go on.
Mr Speaker, I would respect that you had put the Question.
I would allow you to go on. I intend to be flexible please proceed. e flMr Iddrisu: Mr Speaker, I rose because Hon Acheampong was on his feet but be that --
Hon Minority Leader please go on. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, let me thank you. We are being asked to approve US$ 119 million for technical and vocational training. Mr Speaker, I support the principle. There is a mismatch between placement of employment and the acquisition of skills so we need to target particularly, technical and vocational training. I would wish to recommend that the Ministry of Education collaborates with the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations. Mr Speaker, I know that the President himself has taken a policy decision to marry the two technical and vocational education under the Hon Minister for Education. But Mr Speaker, next time the Hon Minister for Education comes -- may I refer you to page 4. Even before page 4, let me go to paragraph 5.6 and I beg to quote: “The Committee noted that pursuant to clause 1.7 of the Government's Concessional Loan Agreement, a contractor for the Project has already been named …” How were they determined? Sole sourcing?
Is there value for money, GH¢ 541 million? Mr Speaker, I still believe that this House would recommend that there is value for money on it, but in
Thank you very much for your kind corrections which are in fact very useful suggestions. Hon Majority Leader?
Thank you very much Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I rise to support the Motion and to urge the Honourable House to approve the said amount for the upgrading of equipment in technical universities, polytechnics and technical and vocational training, for the Ministry of Education. Mr Speaker, I would start by referring to page 3 of the Report, and under ‘observations', we have been told the purpose for which this concession is before this House for approval. Mr Speaker, we are all very much aware of the quality of skills and training that we give to our teeming youth. Many of our universities have focused so much on theory, and when it comes to technical, vocational, and actually promoting technology and technical know-how, Ghana is indeed way behind. For that purpose, I believe as has been stated in the Report, this would go a long way for Ghana to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, more specifically goal 4, which emphasises on skills development and enhancement for the youth. Mr Speaker, our Hon Colleagues on the Minority Side of the House should support this initiative because it enhances the technical know-how of our teeming youth who would come out of these technical universities and not wait for a white colour job, but because of the skills that they would attain, they can actually go out there and start something on their own through the skills that they have acquired from these technical universities. Mr Speaker, the scope of the project is well spelt out at page 4 of the Report, and one of them is to also construct and equip new technical examination units for the Education Service. We are also told that it would be used to upgrade 10 technical institutes with modern equipment. Mr Speaker, if you go to most of our technical institutions now, it is an eyesore. Those who are supposed to deliver and train do not have the necessary equipment to train, so if this initiative is being taken by Government to equip them with modern technology to be able to train our students who go to these technical universities -- this is what other advanced countries like China, Japan and other advanced economies have invested in, and they are yielding the necessary results that are expected of them as a country. So when we talk about borrowing, Hon Fifi Kwetey, we are borrowing prudently. Mr Speaker, we are borrowing for a good purpose. For the eight year period that the NDC was in power, as at the time they were exiting-- [Interruptions]-- as at the time the NDC Government was exiting, our debt stock had risen up to 112 billion cedis. Mr Speaker, that is 107 per cent increase every year, for the eight year period. Today, we are not even close to 30 per cent of what we met. Of the 107 per cent, we have not even crossed the line to 30 per cent. Mr Speaker, we are borrowing for a good purpose. Gone were the days when we borrowed to service another borrowed facility. Mr Speaker, I believe this loan is for a good purpose, the purpose is for us to actually equip our technical universities to be able to train our teeming youth to be more useful to this country. I plead this Honourable House to support the Motion. Thank you very much.
Hon Minister for Education, on behalf of the Hon Minister for Finance, but please restrict yourself to the reference of the Ministry so that we make progress. I am very much interested in the record, if there is something specific to correct in that regard. So you have a minute to do that. Please go straight to the point.
Thank you Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I did not even intend to make comments, but to say that I thank the Hon Members on the opposite Side of the House for their contribution to the debate, but for the fact that I have to set some records straight. This loan of US$ 119 million was contracted for five polytechnics and 10 technical universities in 2010. Mr Speaker, in 2017 the government re- negotiated and got 10 polytechnics and 13 technical institutes. It should tell us a lot. Mr Speaker, the warranty in 2010 was for two years. Then comes a government that extends the warranty to five years with the same sum of money. For every single item, this Agreement we are approving today is far better than the Agreement that was signed, initiated and agreed to by the Members on the opposite Side of the House. If Ghana's money is used prudently, it is this government that is trying to do that, and we would take lessons as genuinely as they come. Mr Speaker, with those few words, I thank the Hon Members on the opposite Side for supporting a loan they initiated with fewer items and made better by this current Government.
Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, on page 4 of the Report, the Hon Minister for Education, we have six technical universities and four polytechnics. You yourself are still sharing with the Ghanaian public ten (10) polytechnics. Is that the status?
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minority Leader should know that this is a Report of this House, not the Ministry of Education.
Hon Member, I have not granted you a response. Question put and Motion agreed to.
The Resolution -- item numbered 21 on the Order Paper. Hon Deputy Minister, you may continue to deputise for your Hon Minister.
THIS HONOURABLE HOUSE
HEREBY RESOLVES AS
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion. Question put and Motion agreed to. Resolved accordingly.
Mr Speaker, we can deal with item listed as item 22 on the Order Paper.
Item 22 -- Procedural Motion.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that notwithstanding the provisions of Standing Order 80 (1) which require that no Motion shall be debated until at least forty-eight hours have elapsed between the date on which notice of the Motion is given and the date on which the Motion is moved, the Motion for the adoption of the Report of the Joint Committee on Defence and Interior and Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs on the Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Ghana and the Government of the United States of America on Defence Cooperation, the status of the United States Forces, access to and use of agreed facilities and areas in the Republic of Ghana may be moved today.
Mr Speaker, I second it.
You second what? [Interruption.]
Hon Member, speak in parliamentary terms and let us move on.
Mr Speaker, respectfully, I beg to second the Motion ably moved by the Hon Chairman of the Committee.
There is a Motion on the Floor of the House. Question put and Motion agreed to. Resolved accordingly.
Hon Chairman of the Committee, move the substantive Motion.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move Motion numbered 23 on the Order Paper.
Hon Member, I have called Motion 23 and we are proceeding with that. I do not see the difficulty.
Mr Speaker, I noted that you have called Motion 23. The Committee Report as you directed was distributed. The Hon Ranking Member has something he would want to raise before the Hon Chairman proceeds. He has a correction. [Interruption.]
Hon Minority Leader, I am afraid, you would have to take your chair. Hon Deputy Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I believe that the application that has been made by the Hon Minority leader is so premature. Mr Speaker, the Hon Chairman of the Committee has moved the Motion and it has been seconded. Mr Speaker, the Hon Chairman of the Committee was about to present the Report to the House, so whatever the Hon Minority Leader seeks to do, technically, there is no Report that has been presented to you. 7. 30 p.m.
Indeed, we are all involved. There has been an objection and now, I am going to be the final Hon Member to be involved. We are all involved indeed. A Motion was being moved when an objection was raised. It has been opposed. Hon Members, let us be honestly decent with our rules. I am quoting our rules and you are making noise. Shall we be lawless? I am quoting the rules of this Honourable House, let me finish. The Motion has to be moved, the Motion has to be seconded before any comment whatsoever. And that is my ruling. Hon Member, continue with moving the Motion.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that this Honourable House
And I present the Committee's Report: Introduction The Agreement between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Republic of Ghana on Defense Cooperation, the Status of United States Forces, and Access to and Use of Agreed Facilities and Areas in the Republic of Ghana was laid in Parliament on Tuesday 20th March, 2018 in accordance with article 75 of the 1992 Constitution. The Agreement was subsequently referred to a Joint Committee on Defence and Interior and Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs for consideration and report in accordance with article 103 of the 1992 Constitution and Orders 158 and 179 of the Standing Orders of the House. The Minister for Defence, Hon Dominic Bingab Aduna Nitiwul and officials of the Ministry of Defence attended upon and assisted the Committee in its deliberations on the Agreement. The Committee is grateful to the Hon. Minister and the officials of the Ministry of Defence for attending upon the Committee. References Mr Speaker, the Committee referred to the following documents inter alia during its deliberations on the Agreement: i. The Constitution of the Republic of Ghana, 1992. ii. The Standing Orders of the Parliament of Ghana. iii. The Armed Forces Act, 1962 (Act 105). iv. African Crisis Response Initiative and Other activities, 1998. v.Humanitarian Relief Operations, 2000. vi. Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement, 2015. Background Mr Speaker, contemporary issues regarding international peace and security and emerging trends of terrorism in most regions of the world have created the need for security co-operation among peace loving nations. To safeguard the interest of each other, the Republic of Ghana and the United States of America entered into a mutual relationship which has helped to ensure security cooperation between the two countries. The Government of the Republic of Ghana and the Government of the United States of America executed an African Crises Response Initiative and other activities effected by an exchange of notes at Accra dated November 24, 1997 and February 24, 1998 and entered into force February 24, 1998. There was also the Humanitarian Relief Operations in Southern Africa where notes were exchanged at Accra on March 22 and April 7, 2000 and this entered into force in April 7, 2000. On April 13, 2015, Ghana signed an Acquisition and Cross- Servicing Agreement (ACSA) in Stuttgart, Germany. That Agreement entered into force on April 28, 2015. The said Acquisition and Cross-Service Agreement served as an initial step for enhanced partnership and security cooperation between Ghana and the United States of America. The Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement has currently elapsed by effluxion of time and hence the need for this present Agreement to ensure continuity in the cooperation arrangements between the two countries. The Agreement if ratified, will offer the Ghana Armed Forces training opportunities, combat readiness, intelligence gathering skills and disaster management opportunities. It would also ensure access to and use of agreed facilities and areas by US Forces within Ghana. Purpose of the Agreement Mr Speaker, the object of the Agreement is to set forth a framework for enhanced partnership and security cooperation between the United States of America and the Republic of Ghana with the aim of strengthening their defense relationship further and addressing shared security challenges in the Region, including those relating to the protection of government personnel and facilities. Mr Speaker, the Agreement between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Republic of Ghana on Defense
Who seconds the Motion?
Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order to effect corrections to the Motion moved by the Hon Chairman of Defence and the Interior Committee —
Hon Member, I have not called you. A seconder of the Motion is on his feet. Hon Member, have you concluded seconding the Motion?
All those who are interrupting normal debate by preventing the Hon Member on his feet from speaking must be very careful. Otherwise, the Marshall may be asked to act. Hon Member, continue.
If all Hon Members would take their seats --
Mr Speaker, thank you very much for the opportunity to second this Motion and in so doing.
Order! Order! Hon Majority Leader, if you -- Order! Order!
Mr Speaker, as you said, the Motion -- [Uproar!]
Hon Members, the House remains suspended for five minutes. I would meet the Hon Leaders in chambers and we shall resume after five minutes. Thank you. 7.54 p.m. -- Sitting Suspended. 8.05 p.m. — Sitting resumed.
Hon Members, by our Constitution, Standing Orders and all appropriate Parliamentary procedures all over the civilised world, as well established, any person who comes to Parliament as a guest of this Honourable House in the Gallery must act in such a manner as would make him or her a good and acceptable guest. In that connection, by all our rules, regulations and laws, the Marshall and all other relevant authorities may be called upon by the Speaker — at any time to restore order. Hon Members, but I have always insisted that in all circumstances, I would like to act in a manner that would not create problems and difficulties that are not necessary. Therefore, I would proceed at this stage, but only warn all persons now in the Gallery that they must act — [Interruption] -- I will advise that all those persons must act in such a manner that would make them acceptable guests. With that advice, we shall proceed. I will call the Hon Leaders to tell us the arrangements duly made to proceed with the Motion. Hon Majority Leader and Hon Minority Leader, who starts?
Mr Speaker, the Motion advertised on our Order Paper as item numbered 23 had been moved and needs to be seconded. Once it is moved and seconded then the matter is properly before us. Mr Speaker, I must say that when we suspended Sitting, I met the leadership of the Joint Committee and had some discussions with them. I believe the only outstanding matter was the conclusion, and that an Hon Member; one of the leaders of the Joint Committee insisted that we needed to amend the conclusion by the insertion of some three to four words. Ultimately, that was the agreement, and we said that when we come, the Motion would be moved, because, as per our Standing Order 81, a Motion must be moved and further to the moving of the Motion, it must be seconded. And when it has been seconded, then the Member would come in with the amendment being proposed. Mr Speaker, that is all and it is that simple. So I am surprised at the turn of events. However, I guess —
Hon Members, there are times when discretion is the better part of valour. So, let us be accommodating and apply discretion as the better part of valour and make progress and serve this Honourable country of ours. Hon Majority Leader please continue — No insinuations.
Mr Speaker, as I said earlier, we had that agreement. The Motion has properly been moved. Where we are, and giving the indication we gave ourselves, I would urge my Hon Colleague, Hon Yaw Buaben Asamoa who wants to second the Motion to do so. He would not begin the debate, he would second the Motion and reserve the right to come back later and debate. Then, it would just allow space for Hon James Agalga to move his Motion — Mr Speaker, Hon Owusu Collins Amankwah who rose to speak was not acknowledged by the Rt Hon Speaker so it means that technically, it has not been seconded, and I am saying that we can now call on whoever, if it is Hon Yaw Buaben Asamoa or Hon Owusu Collins Amankwah — The person who seconds would just do so and appeal to the Rt Hon Speaker to be given the option to come back and debate it to allow space for the amendment. As I said, that is what we agreed on. So I do not know where all these labyrinthine developments are coming from. Mr Speaker, but I guess we can allow the Hon Member to second the Motion and then come back to participate in the debate.
Mr Speaker, as Leaders, we have an obligation to assist you to maintain order in the House and to allow for the efficient Business of the House. We are taking a major decision on the defence cooperation. As the Hon Majority Leader has said, there was some understanding and discussion with him as Leader of the House together with the Hon Chairman and the Ranking Member of the Committee as to how we should proceed. Mr Speaker, I concur with the Hon Majority Leader.
Hon Members, I would like us to take this as a very useful lesson and move step by step. Unless a Motion
Mr Speaker, I rise to second the Motion on the Floor, and I, please, reserve the right to come back and participate in the debate. Thank you.
Mr Speaker, I rise to move that an amendment be effected to paragraph 7.0. “Conclusion” of the Report which is on page 8. Line one should read as follows; insert the phrase “by majority decision”. I would like to read the new rendition in line one as follows: “The Committee has thoroughly examined the Agreement and finds by majority decision…” Mr Speaker, I further propose that in paragraph 2 of paragraph 7.0, insert the phrase “by majority decision” after “The Committee”. So, the new rendition would read: “The Committee, by majority decision, therefore recommends to the House to adopt this Report and ratify by Resolution …”
Hon Chairman of the Committee? Are you in agreement with this simple matter?
Mr Speaker, I agree. Furtherance to that I seek your leave to amend the Report further by moving to paragraph 6.4 which is on page 6. I would want to delete the word “The” and insert “Some Members of the Committee”. It would read: “Some Members of the Committee noted with concern, the unfettered access the Agreement grants to the Aircraft, vehicles and vessels of the US Department of Defense (DoD) to enter, exit and freely move within the territory, air space and territorial waters of Ghana.” Mr Speaker, on the same paragraph 6.4, the last line, I would want to --
Leadership, any comments at this stage? As the Hon Member who seconded the Motion, in the circumstances, do you have any further contributions to make?
Mr Speaker, 20 years ago -- [Interruption.] I am seconding the amendment made by the Hon Chairman of the Committee. [Interruption.]
Hon Members, the Motion as amended has been moved and seconded. Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, the amendment proposed -- they met the Committee and they agreed to have these insertions. So I believe by consensus we can adopt same as being part of the Report, then move on.
Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I share the view -- recently, as you would recall, when there was dissent with the Appointments Committee, we went through the same process and asked the Hon Suhuyini Sayibu to abandon it and let us build consensus in respect of the Special Prosecutor's Bill. So that reflects the outcome of the Committee's deliberation and going forward it became a Majority decision. I so submit.
Mr Speaker, so, we can now begin full blast debate. I would suggest that given where we are, I have had some consultations with the Hon Minority Leader -- [Interruption.] Mr Speaker, some people have already expended their energy; they are only pretending that they have energy. Thank you.
Mr Speaker, I do not want to prejudice the process. It is acceptable to us; we would proceed with the full debate. We would raise some constitutional issues and that would guide our way forward. Thank you.
Hon Members, we would have two Members contribute from each side of the House and then the Leaders would wind up. Mr Speaker, I rise to contribute to the Motion on the Floor.
Hon Members, please, each Member from both Sides of the House would have 10 minutes to contribute, and I plead that we have uninterrupted good argument. Hon Member, please continue.
Mr Speaker, 20 years ago, February 24, 1998, to be precise, a Government led by H.E. then Flt Lt Jerry John Rawlings with his Hon Minister for Foreign Affairs, the venerable Dr Victor Gbeho signed this Agreement with the American Government. [Uproar.]
The Government of Ghana then accepted the American soldiers wore uniforms and side arms on duty as authorised in Ghana; no change of wording as we are saying now. [Uproar!] The Government of Ghana at that time accorded duty free importation, exportation and exemption from internal taxation on products, property and materials; the same words, 20 years ago, as it is being provided for today. Mr Speaker, vehicles, vessels and aircrafts were all owned and operated by the United States Government with authority to operate in Ghana as it was then, and it is the same now.
“…both governments waive any and all claims (other than contractual claims) against each other for damage, loss or destruction of the property of the Department of Defense of the United States or the property of the Ministry of Defense of Ghana arising out of activities relating to official duties, or for injury or death suffered by military personnel while engaged in the performance of their official duty.” As it was then, it is the same now. Mr Speaker, this is the concluding statement by the then Government of H.E. Jerry John Rawlings and the NDC Government, it was not considered a military base. It states and with your permission I read: “…The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has the further honour -- [they deemed it an honour] -- to inform the Embassy of the United States that the proposals set forth in the Embassy's Note are acceptable to the [NDC] Government of Ghana…” As it was then, it should be acceptable now. Mr Speaker, in 2015, an Agreement signed by the then Government of H.E. John Mahama and the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Hon
Hannah Tetteh. Mr Speaker, the heading was waiver or excluded costs, and with your permission, I beg to read: “The Parties shall ensure that any readily identifiable duties, taxes and similar charges are not imposed on activities conducted under this Agreement. The Parties shall cooperate to provide proper documentation to maximise tax and customs relief.” Mr Speaker, it then goes on and this is the most serious. The Americans accepted that this Agreement was not a secret because it was an operational one. Mr Speaker, the clause says: “It is the intent of the Parties that the activities under this Agreement and any Implementing Arrange- ments be carried out at an unclassified level…” Mr Speaker, we are democrats. The Government of H.E. Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo-Addo chose to put this Agreement before the people of Ghana transparently. [Hear! Hear!] Today, we sit here and the very same Agreement that we signed on 20 years ago, have turned into placard bearing airforce base. The Governments of the NDC signed on to the Cooperation Agreement, which is still running while we sit in this Chamber. So, what is different? [Uproar.] Mr Speaker, no responsible nation in this world since the United Nations of 1946 can opt out of responsible security arrangements. We are a member of the international community. We are a valued part of the UN when it comes to enforcing international security. Do they expect us, the Republic of Ghana to opt out of cooperation in order to fail the world? Mr Speaker, cooperation forms the basis of international protection. We do not manufacture arms in Ghana. We do not manufacture even the most basic of military accoutrements. Therefore to carry out our duties responsibly, we need cooperation to access modern weapons and training to discharge our duties to the world. Mr Speaker, let me speak briefly to paragraph 6.4 in conclusion. In this world of digitised citizenry, sovereignty and its very conceptual basis is under serious rethink. Since the UN, we lost security sovereignty and international so- vereignty has become a public good where security is concerned. Mr Speaker, we lost our economic sovereignty to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Some lost it to the European Union (EU). We further lost it to New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD). We now live in a digitised market place. We are trading crypto currencies in Ghana. Every individual can become a bank on its own. Mr Speaker, on humanitarian sovereignty, this country led by buffalo soldier was amongst the countries that went into another country to enforce regime change for the sake of human rights. In this world now, humanitarian sovereignty has even been given up where several nations can decide that there is abuse in one nation. Mr Speaker, the African Union (AU) authorised the invasion of Uganda by Tanzania to oust Idi Amin. We in this Mr Speaker, that is what this Agreement seeks to do. The Government of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) under His Excellency, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo- Addo, would make sure that all the different Agreements in pieces are signed by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) --
Hon Member, your time is up.
Mr Speaker, in conclusion, I urge this House to ratify it. Hear! Hear!
Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, let me thank you for an opportunity to contribute to the Motion for the adoption of the Report of the Joint Committee on Defence and Interior and Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs on the Agreement between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Republic of Ghana on Defence Cooperation. Mr Speaker, may I respectively refer you to the “Conclusion” of the Committee's Report? “The Committee by majority decision therefore recommends to the House to adopt this Report and ratify by Resolution, the Agreement between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Republic of Ghana on Defense Cooperation, the Status of United States Forces and Access to and Use of Agreed Facilities and Areas in the Republic of Ghana in accordance with article 75 (2) (b) of the 1992 Constitution and the Standing Orders of the House.” Mr Speaker, this is what the Committee urges Ghana's Parliament to do. For emphasis, may I respectively quote what is provided in article 75 (2) of the Constitution? Mr Speaker, to make it more elegant, let me start from 75 (1) and with your permission, I beg to quote: “The President may execute or cause to be executed treaties, agreements or conventions in the name of Ghana. (2) A treaty, agreement or convention executed by or under the authority of the President shall be subject to ratification by -- (a) an Act of Parliament; or (b) a resolution of Parliament supported by the votes of more than one-half of all the Hon members of Parliament.”
Order! Order! Hon Members, I would not allow any interruptions from my Right side of the House unless you do not want us to go about this matter in the inter-natural manner. We must tackle it.
Mr Speaker, therefore, we are being called upon, pursuant to article 75 - I am holding the Memorandum which accompanied - [Interruption.]
Mr Speaker, the Memo which was signed by Hon Dominic B. A. Nitiwul, Hon Minister for Defence and it was dated 14th March, 2018. Mr Speaker, it says in the last paragraph that, “Parliament is hereby requested to consider and rectify the instant draft Agreement -- [Interruption.] Mr Speaker, in the document, it is ‘‘rectification'' and not ‘‘ratification''.
Hon Members, is it not possible for us to let this debate go on smoothly? Hon Minority Leader? Leadership on my right, please advise your Hon Members.
Mr Speaker, I have established this because in law the word “rectification” is not synonymous to “ratification” pursuant to article 75. Again, in paragraph 6 of the Hon Minister's Memorandum, he says, “Negotiation of draft Bill''. A two-day negotiation meeting involving a delegation from the United States and Ghana's representatives made up of experts from the A-G's Department, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Defence (MOFARI) -- to ensure fair terms for both parties in the draft Agreement.” Mr Speaker, what is before us is not a Bill, but if it were a Bill, then Parliament would have had an opportunity to make additions, corrections, to enhance and to improve it. That is why under article 75 they may come by an Act of Parliament in anticipating a Bill or a Resolution as we are doing. Mr Speaker, yes, it is true that Ghana has a strong bilateral relationship with the Government of the United States of America, but if those documents were secrets, then they would not be referred to as 1997 and 2015. They are in the open and those who doubt it -- Mr Speaker, when one is pounding fufu for a blind person, the best way to assure the blind person that one is not eating the fufu is for one to be whistling. I am whistling for them to note that, by this provision we have not come by a Bill or an Act of Parliament. We cherish the strong bilateral relations, but our first objection is the constitutionality of this matter. article 75 says “executed by the President.” Mr Speaker, so what is before us and what was submitted before us, constitutionally there is nothing before us as far as we are concerned. This is because the treaty has not been executed by the President of the Republic. Mr Speaker, the principle of ratification in law is to exercise an authority for which you do not have the authority but you come to ratify and make it real. That is the principle of ratification. So, it must have been executed before it was brought here. Mr Speaker, now, let me refer to what others have quoted. Mr Speaker, constitutionally, they have not walked the process well, therefore, we object to it. Mr Speaker, let me refer to what Hon Buaben Asamoa referred to -— On 24th November, 1997 — Yes, there was an Agreement, but the Agreement he quoted for his emphasis, I beg to quote: “The Embassy of the United States of America presents its compliments to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Ghana and has the honor to refer to recent discussions between represen- tatives of our two governments regarding issues related to U.S. military personnel and civilian employees of the U.S. Department of Defense who may be temporarily present in Ghana…”
Hon Members, order.
Mr Speaker, I am still on the 1997 Agreement. Applicability - they should read. They are comparing what is in the 1997 Agreement to what is in the 2015 Agreement. Article 1 talks about purpose: “The Agreement is entered into for the purpose of establishing basic terms, conditions, and procedures to facilitate the reciprocal provision of Logistic Support, Supplies. . .” Then they would want to equate that to an Agreement that says that we must give them unfettered access. We can read article 19 or 18 of what has been presented. Mr Speaker, the other constitutional issue we are raising — may I respectfully refer to article 8, and I would quote and come back to article 7?
“Any disagreements regarding the interpretation or application of this Agreement, any Implementing Arrangement, or transactions executed here under shall be resolved through consultation and negotia- tions, as necessary, between the Parties and shall not be referred to any national or international tribunal, or third party for settlement.” Mr Speaker, my emphasis is that those disputes that could not be resolved by the executive agency shall be referred to the parties for consultation and resolution as appropriate, and shall not be referred to any national or international court. Mr Speaker, people who would be aggrieved by the abuses of human rights have no rights or the option to go to court; not local, not national nor international, and they are asking us to approve this?
Mr Speaker, I would go to article 9, and I beg to quote again. “This Agreement, which consists of a Preamble, article I-IX, and Annexes A through K, shall enter into force upon the date of its signature. This Agreement shall remain in force unless terminated by the mutual written consent of the Parties or by either Party giving not less than 180 days notice in writing to the other Party of its intent to terminate. Notwithstanding the termination of this Agreement, all reimbursement obligations incurred pursuant to its terms shall remain binding on the responsible Party until satisfied. Any financial obligations, transactions, Orders, or requests for support executed prior to the effective date of this Agreement under the authority of the referenced ACSA or Implementing Arrangement, will remain binding, and will be governed by the provision of this Agreement.” Mr Speaker, in article 5, Ghana hereby provides unimpeded access to the use of agreed facilities and areas to the United States Armed Forces, United States contractors and others. So Mr Speaker, Ghana shall also provide access to the use of a runway that meets the requirements of the United States Armed Forces. So, if we do not have it, we would construct it to satisfy the United States conditions. Mr Speaker, therefore, with this Agreement, in my honest view, it should be sent back to all our retired Generals or Chiefs of Defence Staff of Ghana to do a thorough scrutiny and analysis of it. What is on the paper might not be what the Americans are implying in the pursuit of their national interest. Mr Speaker, we proudly say “Ghana first”. In our Ghana First Agenda — not America First Agenda -- In this Ghana First Agenda, the sovereignty of this country cannot be on sale. They go further to say that they would make a support of US$20 million. The GNPC could provide the US$20 million for our purposes. We do not need to go far.
Hon Members, order. If you have a point, give it to your Hon Member who would respond.
Mr Speaker, what the Americans call a base is nothing but a military installation. They would come here in their numbers. They say that when they come and commit crimes, they should not be taken to court, whether national or international. They want -— So Mr Speaker, assuming an American soldier came and was involved in gayism (homosexuality), which is morally and socially unacceptable in Ghana per our Criminal and Other Offences Act, he would not be subjected to the laws of Ghana because they are ousting the jurisdiction of the Ghanaian courts. Do you want us to accept this? No. Mr Speaker, I can go to the 2015 Agreement too. We have copies here.
Mr Speaker, the New Patriotic Party's (NPP) Government led by President Nana Addo Dankwa, behaves like somebody under the clutch of a lion who asks for water to drink. Who gets closer to a lion to give water to its prey to drink? [Laughter.] Mr Speaker, in conclusion -— In the Philippines today — the abuses -— Mr Speaker, this is my final point; even on the issue of the two Guantanamo Bay detainees, they said it was risky and it amounted to terrorism. By approving this, we are opening the flood gate of this country to major risks of terrorism, potential attacks and its consequences. Mr Speaker, therefore, since this Treaty has not been executed by President Nana Addo Dankwa, the President of the Republic, we the “Ghana First” NDC Minority are unable to continue with this process. Mr Speaker, it is unconstitutional --
Hon Members, order. Hon Members, emotions do not help.
Mr Speaker, finally, the United States of America -- why did they set up a GITMO base? It was because of abuses of human rights. We are opening the floodgates to Ghana for them to abuse us.
Order! The Hon Minority Leader has spoken on behalf of the Minority in extenso.
I would allow Mr Ambrose Dery, Hon Minister for the Interior, to make five minutes comments, and then Hon Nitiwul, Minister for Defence, to conclude the debate on behalf of the Majority.
Mr Speaker, respectfully, before coming in, we had met and agreed among ourselves that is the Majority and the Minority, that three Hon Members from either Side of the House would speak. We had said to ourselves that, each person was going to have about eight minutes, then Leadership would speak for 10 minutes. Mr Speaker, Hon Haruna Iddrisu opted to speak first, and he spoke for 17 minutes. It would be most unfair to us when they have reneged on the agreement that we had with them, and for us to be told that we are to speak for five minutes. Mr Speaker, that would be most unfair to us, respectfully. I would plead that the minimum time that an Hon Member can speak is the eight minutes. We agreed on that. Certainly, not five minutes. The substantive Minister for the sector would have, at least, 10 minutes. Mr Speaker, from the Leadership, whoever speaks would also have the time allocated --
In equating the 17 minutes, Hon Dery would speak for 7 minutes, and Hon Nitiwul for 10 minutes. Then we would take the votes. I am watching the time. Hon Member, maximise the use of your time.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, the first priority of Ghana is security; the safety of its citizens in a congenial and conducive environment for life and business. So, “Ghana First” actually implies security. In the past, various Governments of Ghana have had relationships with the United States of America and, through the corporation, they have ensured our security. The need is even greater now as we have terrorism at our borders, thus the need for enhanced cooperation. Mr Speaker, I would refer to article 75, where when we talk of an Agreement, it is not defined by a signature. It is trite knowledge that an Agreement can even be determined from a series of documents. In this case, Cabinet chaired by the President referred this matter to be considered by Parliament and therefore, in all circumstances, it was an Agreement regardless of whether it had a signature or not. Mr Speaker, I can tell you that I have done several cases up to the Supreme Court in which there was no signature, one of them being Abede Pele v. International Commercial Bank, based on the authority of Koglex (No.2). It is clear that we do not have to have that. The Committee by majority decision has, as part of Parliament, determined that, there was an Agreement and has referred it for ratification. There is no legal basis for us to disagree with that. Let us move on. Mr Speaker, this whole talk about free movement of vehicles as if there were no limits, is provided for in article 12 of the Agreement. In article 12, the context is payments, levies and rates, and even that is not limitless. In article 12 (2), the Ghana Military has been used as the standard. Mr Speaker, this Agreement is based on mutual respect and mutual consent. Therefore talking of purpose and scope, article 2 (3) says activities shall be mutually agreed. The more important point is that vehicles are not a threat to our security. It is the personnel and guns. In article 3 (2), it is made clear that the movement of personnel and arms shall be subject to the appropriate authorities. Mr Speaker, with your permission, I beg to read: “Military personnel may possess or carry arms in Ghana while on duty if authorised to do so by their orders”. In issuing such orders, the authorities of the United States Armed Forces intend to consult with the appropriate Ghanaian authorities to be able to do that, so it is not as if it is unbridled. Secondly, the Agreement is accessed to our facilities and areas. It is not a takeover of Ghana, and there is no base or camp involved in this matter. Mr Speaker, talking about the Hon Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, she raised a number of issues. One is neutrality; whether what is provided in here is applicable to Ghanaian forces outside. It was answered in the affirmative, and we agreed that to ensure that they do not get away from it, there is a provision under “implementation”, which is article 17 of the Agreement, where it is stated that implementation shall be monitored by a joint committee co-chaired by both countries. Mr Speaker, it is this joint committee that would monitor whatever happens, because we know that, should there be any disagreement, there should be a resolution and article 18 of the Agreement was provided for that. For the first time, we made a provision to terminate, the Agreement which was never in any of the previous arrangements. Therefore, we had article 19 where it had been stated that when we disagree, we would give a written notice to get out. Mr Speaker, we are sure and aware that, our forces in America are granted the same privilege, and they are to respond to their law just like they have also alluded here, that by article 19 of the Agreement, we are also to allude to the requirements of our law by coming for ratification or approval by Parliament. The previous governments never alluded to this. Mr Speaker, this Government has shown that it is committed to the people so we brought the Agreement here to the representatives of the people to deal with. Mr Speaker, we cannot allow people who did not even examine the context of the Agreement to sit down and make frivolous statements. There is nothing in the Agreement that insulates them, and grants them immunity from the laws of Ghana, and that is why --
That is why in article 3 of the Agreement, they are supposed to have consulted the appropriate authorities. They are supposed to consult the Hon Minister for the Interior even to carry guns.
Hon Nitiwul, 10 minutes.
Mr Speaker, I wondered whether you could not give me more than 10 minutes; but if you choose to insist on 10 minutes, I will comply. Mr Speaker, the Committee which took the decision to bring the Report here, the NDC Hon Members of Parliament (MPs) on the Committee were 13. There were 23 Hon Members in all, and it is captured by the Votes and Proceedings, an official document of Parliament. The date is Thursday, 22nd March, 2018, and it is on pages 28 and 29 -- the Joint Committee on Defence and Interior and Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs --
And you pray the Hansard to cover in full?
Yes, Mr Speaker. JOINT COMMITTEE ON DEFENCE &
INTERIOR AND CONSTITUTIONAL,
LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY
So Mr Speaker, if they insist as they did this morning, I believe by pressure from their party members who sat here and wore red bands and that it must be a majority decision, they were the majority, they approved this Report to come to this House. Mr Speaker, secondly, the soldiers who would be here would not be permanent, and it is captured in the Agreement itself. Mr Speaker, it is captured in the Agreement on page 4, article 8, why the soldiers would not be permanent here. It is as and when they come that they would use the facility.
“The Parties anticipate that United States forces and United States contractors may not physically be present at the agreed facilities and areas at all times. During those times that the United States forces, United States contractors, or Ghana authorities are not physically present at agreed facilities and areas, such facilities and areas shall remain locked and secure, and security for such facilities and areas shall be provided by Ghana …” A base and then the place would be empty; have we seen that before?
A security base that would be empty for a period; please, it is not true. There is no base, and there would not be a base. I have a written letter from the American Government assuring us, because we insisted for that document, that the Americans will not have a base and do not intend to have a base in Ghana. Let us not deceive the people of Ghana that the Americans insist they would have a base here. Mr Speaker, there is nothing in the Agreement that says that Ghana has signed it because of US$20 million. So, let nobody throw dust into the eyes of the people of Ghana that we are signing this Agreement because of US$20 million. It is not true. It is not mentioned anywhere in the Agreement. Secondly, when people say that this is the first time we have signed an Agreement that says that Ghanaian courts cannot and should not have jurisdictions. Mr Speaker, I would want to refer to an Agreement signed by Hon Hannah Tetteh, the then Hon Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration. I would read article 8 of that Agreement: “Any disagreements regarding the interpretation or application of this Agreement, any Implementing Arrangement, or transactions executed hereunder shall be resolved through consultation and negotiations, as necessary, between the Parties and shall not be referred to any national or international tribunal, or third party for settlement.” Hon Hannah Tetteh signed this. So when the Hon Minority Leader says that we are selling Ghana, Hon Hannah Tetteh, the then Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration -- [Interruption.] Mr Speaker, I will tender this. Mr Speaker, when people say that it is the NPP that signed off the rights of Ghanaians not to be able to tax, to allow the Americans to use guns, and that when somebody dies, we would waive it away. The note verbale that was signed in 1998 and sealed, has provisions that are all captured in the new Agreement. Mr Speaker, there is no clause in this Agreement that has not been signed by Ghana before. I will read the Agreement that Hon Hannah Tetteh signed, and the 1998 Agreement. The radio spectrum the Hon Minority Leader talked about, communication facility- Mr Speaker, let me read what Hon Hannah Tetteh signed for Ghana in secret. Mr Speaker, logistical support -- what the Americans expect us to support them with -- If we ever ask for support, what they would also support us with is “food”. We asked for food in the Gambia, and the Americans gave us. “Water, billeting, transportation (including airlift), petroleum, oils, lubricants, clothing, communication services, medical
Hon Member, you have two minutes more.
Mr Speaker, that is the reason the Americans ask for storage services.
You may table all the relevant documents for Hansard to capture.
Mr Speaker, I will. The reason for which the Americans ask for storage facilities is that Hon Hannah Tetteh signed off the storage services in 2015. The reason they asking for a radio spectrum is because Hon Hannah Tetteh signed off the communication services in 2015. Mr Speaker, but all that was signed in secrecy, and this Agreement is still in force. She could not ask for anything but for food.
Mr Speaker, in 2015, the Americans wanted to use Ghana as a base to fight terrorists in Nigeria, which is more dangerous. This was the letter signed by Mr Alex Segbefia, the then Hon Deputy Minister for Defence, with the Americans.
Hon Members, stop being the referees here. [Laughter.]
Mr Speaker, the Americans requested to deploy the Marine Forces and military aircrafts to Accra, and this is what our then Deputy Minister for Defence said: “2. I have the pleasure to inform you that, the Ministry of Defence has no objection to the intended deployment of the US Marines and military aircraft in Accra as described in the US Note Verbale attached to the letter at reference. 3. It is however suggested that: ‘‘All operations by the mentioned Force be within the framework of the agreement reached earlier.” I am still looking for that Agreement. That Agreement, just like this Agreement, is missing in the Ministry; it is not found in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but we are still looking for that Agreement Mr Segbefia and others signed. Mr Speaker, it was signed at Stuttgart, and it was the Americans who gave us that copy in Stuttgart two months ago. Without the help of the Americans, Ghanaians would not even know that they signed their rights away. Mr Speaker, we signed off and allowed the Americans to occupy here. The very building for which they ask for is a hangar at the Air Force Base. That is where the Americans deployed their soldiers to go to Nigeria. They have used it, and they have continued to use it. The only difference today is that, they say we should not give that, building to another person. This is because this year alone, they would do about four exercises with us, and sponsor all of that. In one of the exercises, the Ghanaian troops would train the American soldiers. Last year, we trained the American troops; this year, we would train them again. For the other three exercises, the Americans would train the Ghanaian soldiers. One of the exercises is on earthquake manage- ment and national disasters. They would bring their machines to train our soldiers. Mr Speaker, on the defence of the Atlantic Ocean, which we call the Gulf of Guinea, the exercise is called Exercise Obangame Express. The Americans had been training us. It started with Ghana and the United States of America alone. Today, we have 18 countries involving warships and submarines to train our people on how to protect our coast.
Hon Members, when you go to the courtroom, you would hear the judges telling you they are rising for health reasons. [Uproar.] It includes what we call “nature's call”. You have to learn to take a cue. Thank you very much.
Mr Speaker, may I suggest that you suspend Sitting for a brief while, even for 10 minutes.
Hon Majority Leader, among other things, some would travel. I think at this stage, it is good for us to do quid pro quo. It is not everything that you would state ad nauseum. Please, I have sent you a note about our closing remarks. Closing remarks could be made in five minutes, and the Hansard should capture the entirety. Question put and Motion agreed to.
Item 24, Resolution -- Hon Minister for Defence?
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, WHEREAS by the provisions of article 75 of the Constitution any treaty, agreement, or convention executed by or under the Authority of the President in the name of Ghana is made subject to ratification either by an act of Parliament or by a resolution of Parliament supported by the votes of more than one-half of all the Members of Parliament. IN ACCORDANCE with the said article 75 of the Constitution the President has caused to be laid before Parliament through the Minister responsible for Defence the Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Ghana and the Government of the United States of America on Defence Co-operation, the Status of the United States Forces, Access to and Use of Agreed Facilities and Areas in the Republic of Ghana on 20th March 2018. NOW THEREFORE, this Honourable House hereby resolves to ratify the said Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Ghana and the Government of the United States of America on Defence Co-operation, the Status of the United States Forces, Access to and Use of Agreed Facilities and Areas in the Republic of Ghana.
Thank you very much. Seconded by?
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion.
Thank you very much. Question put and Motion agreed to. Resolved accordingly.
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I presume there is no other business. It is well past 2 o'clock. We would go into the business of the closure. Hon Majority Leader, you may please make remarks for five minutes and then please table your speech. I would do the same.
Mr Speaker, before I give my closing remarks, I would like to state a matter that arose in this House today. Mr Speaker, I would beg to quote Standing Order 214 of our rules of procedure which provides. Mr Speaker, I would beg to quote: “(1) No stranger shall be admitted into the House without the authority of Mr Speaker which may be exercised through the Clerk.'' Mr Speaker, in other words, any persons who enters this Chamber including its galleries, come here as your guests. They are required to comply with our rules in this House. Given what happened today, I would strongly urge that you personally vet those people who are given admission to enter the galleries of this House. I would urge you to strongly do that, so that the unruly behaviour that we witnessed today, would have no further procreation in this House. Mr Speaker, the First Meeting of the Second Session of the Seventh Parliament of the Fourth Republic ends today, 23rd March, 2018. This Meeting, which commenced on the 23rd of January, 2018, spanned a period of nine weeks during which the House discharged its constitutional mandate. As is usual, we express gratitude to the Almighty God for his guidance, protection and the strength granted us to perform our duties. The House held 36 Sittings during this Meeting, and permit me Mr Speaker, to give an account of what transpired. In accordance with the provisions of our Constitution, the President of the Republic, H. E. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, fulfilled his constitutional obligation by presenting a Message of the State of the Nation, to the House, on 8th February, 2018. On behalf of Hon. Members, and on my own part, let me once again, express our appreciation to H. E. the President for the Address. Mr Speaker, nine Bills were presented to the House and referred to the appropriate Committees. They are: i.Witness Protection Bill, 2017; ii.Technical Universities (Amend- ment) Bill, 2017; iii.Special Petroleum Tax (Amend- ment) Bill, 2018; iv.Ghana Cocoa Board (Amend- ment) Bill, 2017; v.Land Bill, 2018; vi.Legal Profession (Amendment) Bill, 2018; vii.Ghana Deposit Protection (Amendment) Bill, 2018; viii. Ghana Bauxite and Aluminum Authority Bill, 2018; ix.Right to Information Bill, 2018. Mr Speaker, the House passed the Special Petroleum Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2018 and the Standard for Automatic Exchange of Financial Account Information Bill, 2017 during the Meeting. The House also gave approval to quite a number of Loan Agreements, Legislative Instruments, and Conventions, among others. A number of Committee Reports were also adopted. Notable among them are the following: i. Report of the Committee of the Whole on the Proposed Formula for the Distribution of the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund) for the year 2018; ii. Report of the Committee of the Whole on the Proposed Formula for the Disbursement of the National Health Insurance Fund for the year 2018; and iii. Report of the Committee of the Whole on the Proposed Formula for the District Assemblies' Common Fund (DACF) for the year 2018. Mr Speaker, thirty-one (31) Statements admitted by you, were made by colleague Hon Members on matters of national importance. Sixty-seven (67) Oral Questions and twelve (12) Urgent Questions were asked of various Ministers for which responses were provided. About sixty-eight (68) Committee sittings were also recorded during the Meeting. I implore all Committees that have businesses to discharge, especially the consideration of Bills, to avail themselves during the recess period to complete their work to enable the House deliberate on them upon resumption. Mr Speaker, during the Meeting, the House approved the nomination of Mr Martin Alamisi Burns Kaizer Amidu by H.E. the President for appointment as the Special Prosecutor. Indeed, this is a clear indication of government's commitment to dealing with corruption in the country. May I take this opportunity to commend the Appointments Committee for the good job done during the marathon vetting of the nominee. Once again, I congratulate Mr Martin Amidu on his appointment as the Special Prosecutor. Given his enormous experience, knowledge, intelligence, capabilities, and the double- edged sword that he wields in confronting issues, I have no doubt that the Office of the Special Prosecutor would benefit tremendously from his leadership. Mr Speaker, as we are all aware, this year marks the celebration of 25 years of parliamentary democracy in Ghana. Undeniably, we have come quite far in the Fourth Republic in spite of some constitutional as well as self-imposed challenges. To commemorate the anniversary and to reflect on our accomplishment as a Parliament, the House orgnised a symposium on the theme, “25 Years of Parliamentary Democracy in Ghana - Challenges and Prospects”, which was graced by H.E. the President of the Republic and the President of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, H. E. Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki. I must say that the symposium provided us with the opportunity to celebrate our achievements, and also take the necessary steps to address the key obstacles facing us as a country. It is my hope that with reforms and the review of our Standing Orders, the effectiveness of our parliamentary oversight roles would be enhanced.
Thank you very much Hon Majority Leader. Speaker of Parliament (Prof Aaron Michael Ocquaye): Honourable Members, the House concludes business for this Meeting today. I recognise the omnipotence and unending support of God in every endeavour of this Honourable House. Therefore I pray that we all, with one accord will honour God Almighty with profuse thanksgiving for making our presence in the House for the entirety of the Meeting, very peaceful without any noticeable mishap. Let us continue to pray and look up to Him to shore us from temptation and all mortal frailties. We had the rare opportunity during the Meeting to organise an epoch-marking event commemorating twenty-five years of continuous Parliamentary democratic practise. This commemorative event was not merely to make our institution visible but to offer the opportunity to our people, help us do an introspection of Parliament as a bulwark of our democracy. And to also help us as operatives, to reflect on our actions and inactions. It is right that we carry the people along and let them appreciate that parliamentary democracy is the fulcrum for harmonising their initiatives for national development. Against this background, many more of such events would be organised in the ensuing meetings within the year to further cement our relationship with the people we serve. I will very much appreciate that we take interest and active participation in all such subsequent events. Honourable Members, in furtherance of building upon the trust between Parliament and the people of our dear country, we should be above reproach and serve with dignity and humility at all times to meet the aspirations of the citizenry. The much talked about subject in our country in recent time, borders on openness and accountability and in particular, the Right to Information Bill which underpins the resolve at checking corrupt practices, especially, at the bureaucratic level. Indeed, our people are itching to know everything that we do on their behalf and we need to listen and meet their demands thereof. I assure Ghanaians and civil society groups that, the House will do all that it can to work on the Bill which has just been laid before the House. We expect the Bill on Affirmative Action soon. Honourable Members, I have for the umpteenth time, proffered advice in this House that we should collectively approach work with promptness and seriousness. I say with sincerity that the outcome has not been the best, especially, judging from the time that Plenary Sittings commenced during the Meeting. Parliament is a stabilising force in the evolution of our fledgling democracy and we have to work hard to sustain the momentum. On my part, I promise to continue with my principle of timeliness and will strongly urge all Hon. Members to do same for the sake of meeting the expectations of those who have sent us here. Honourable Members, work for the Parliament Enhancement Project has commenced in earnest as currently evidenced by the numerous excavations you see in-between the Job 600 and the New Administration Block and also by the side of the Basement Block attached to the Chamber. Indeed, works being done are the foundations for the construction of a Job 600 Annex Block as office accommodation for MPs and staff of the Parliamentary Service, facelift of the Basement of the Chamber Block to provide adequate offices for the Departments of Official Report and establish a Parliamentary enclave. I trust visible progress will be made soon to provide a monument for posterity which is worthy of writing home about as the figures below clearly show:
BUDGETARY ALLOCATION TO