MR FIRST DEPUTY SPEAKER
VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS AND THE OFFICIAL REPORT
Hon Members, Correction of Votes and Proceedings of Tuesday, 29th May, 2018.
[No correction was made to the Votes and Proceedings of Tuesday, 29th May, 2018]
Hon Members, we have the Official Report of Tuesday, 22nd May, 2018. Any corrections?
Hon Member, do you have a correction?
Mr Speaker, I thought you had finished with the Official Report.
We have not finished. If you have anything after that, please wait. We have two Reports.
[No correction was made to the Official Report of Tuesday, 22nd May, 2018]
Yes, Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I am compelled to take you back to the Official Report of 22nd May, 2018, column 183. Mr Speaker, this is to say that it is your own Committee's Report -- the Appointments Committee. I know that corrections were made to the Report. For instance, the choice for the position of Deputy Special Prosecutor by the President --
Hon Minority Leader, which paragraph?
Mr Speaker, the last paragraph, column 183, and I beg to quote: “The nominee commenting on her moral character and integrity in her previous role as Acting Deputy Public Prosecutor…'' That is why I am saying that the record could reflect it. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Very well. The Table Office should take note and effect the correction. She was Acting Director of Public Prosecutions. The Official Report for Wednesday 22nd May, 2018 has already been adopted. Any corrections to the Official Report of Thursday 23rd May, 2018?
Mr Speaker, last week, I raised an issue on Standing Order 48. I think it is not for nothing that usually, you have to say this beautiful prayers for all of us and the nation. Mr Speaker, look at the Order Paper -- we have only one Committee meeting and look at the House. What even baffles me is about the Majority side of the House. If we have 169 Hon Members as members of the Majority -- Mr Speaker, if you would allow me, or if it is your order, let us count how many Hon Members of the Majority side are here, and also count the Minority side as well. Are we up to the one-third of our numbers? Mr Speaker, I believe it is becoming unbecoming. You either do something about it, or after today, I would continue to raise an issue of quorum. If we do not form a quorum, we cannot do government business. So going forward, we may pardon today, but in future, it would not be accepted. We would not tolerate this. Mr Speaker, we would not tolerate this because we do not have 169 Hon Members — 20 Hon Members are sitting here. What is it for? Mr Speaker, today, maybe, I do not know what your ruling would be, but I am appealing to you that -- [Laughter] -- I do not know what your ruling would be in this case. You are aware we are not even up to the one-third of our total number. I do not know what your ruling would be in this particular matter. I am just appealing to you that tomorrow, and going forward, we would not accept this.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I would like to express my joy for my Hon Colleague drawing your attention to the number of empty seats we have in the Chamber. Mr Speaker, I would also like to draw his attention to the Votes and Pro- ceedings for yesterday. Thirty (30) Hon Members had been marked absent with permission. Mr Speaker, it means that your good self have given them permission for good reason to be out of the Chamber. Again, we have as many as 38 Hon Members who have been marked as absent. The name of one of my Deputy Ministers is here; Hon Kingsley Aboagye-Gyedu is absent. He is on official assignment in Thailand with the National Health Insurance Authority Board.
Mr Speaker, I am very grateful. I believe that laws are laws. It is not for nothing that in the Constitution of the Republic and in our Standing Orders, we are required to have a quorum. If Hon Members are travelling on official or private assignments, they are required to fill a form. I do not see the point the Hon Minister is making about Hon Members forgetting to fill the form. It is a requirement and an encumbrance on all of us, that we notify the Hon Speaker and get clearance before we travel. If Hon Members travel without clearance and they are marked absent, clearly we cannot say that we have to forgive them because they might have forgotten to fill the form. So Mr Speaker, please, I would also add my voice to the call by my Hon Colleague. Ghanaians are watching us. They are watching to see how seriously we take the Business of the House, and if we are treating Business of the House with this kind of attitude, it would reflect in the various offices. If you go to the various Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), people are behaving just the way they want. They would not come to work early, they come in and they even leave without permission. It is affecting productivity. We are here to work. Let us sit in the Chamber and if we have any genuine reason for not being in the Chamber so be it. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Let me listen to the Leaders. Hon Minority Leader, would you like to comment on this observation?
Mr Speaker, Hon Dery has raised an important issue of attendance by Hon Members to the House. Mr Speaker, even Civil Society Groups (CSGs) working with Parliament have had cause to raise concerns about Hon Members' absenteeism in the House, and how that affects the work that we do, and how that can possibly affect and undermine the public confidence in Members of Parliament. Mr Speaker, there are times when you are compelled to sit like today. It is not an appropriate time of turn, but it is because of requests from Leadership sometimes to engage in other activities. The question of quorum is a requirement of our Standing Orders which must be respected. The question of Hon Members getting your approval prior to travel, is a question that they must address as Members of Parliament with respect and reverence to the Office of the Speaker, subject to your approval. Mr Speaker, what I find instructive is that, yes, there may be justified absentees who have had your approval not to be around, but Hon Members must endeavour to be punctual and be on time for us to commence business at the appropriate time. Mr Speaker, I still believe -- and I am sure the Hon Majority Leader and Leader of Government Business would respond to this. Probably in our Standing Orders, we may want to look at the time 10 a.m. and see whether we want to make an adjustment, maybe, to Sit at 12 p.m. or 2 p.m. as it pertains in other jurisdictions, as it may appear more convenient. But no Hon Member of Parliament has an excuse to absent himself/herself without your prior approval. That should not be encouraged. Hon Members of Parliament must endeavour, as I have said, to be punctual and to be on time for us to do the work that the public expects us to do on their behalf. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I thank the Hon Member for urging on all of us to be diligent, and that we should strive to be in the Chamber to transact public business. Mr Speaker, my observation is that, indeed, as captured by the Votes and Proceedings, yesterday, we had 207 Hon Members present in the Chamber. Mr Speaker, yesterday when we started, the number in the Chamber was just about 45, but then, not too long after we started, Hon Members trooped in, to the extent that by the close of day, we had had 207 Hon Members enter the Chamber at one point or the other to help with the transaction of business. That meant that we even had more than one half of Hon Members in the Chamber. We, indeed, had more than two-thirds; that is close to 70 per cent of us exclusive of those who have travelled and those of them who had really sought permission and been granted same by the Hon Speaker. Therefore, I believe that in the course of time, Hon Members would join up and have the numbers significantly increased. As I have said, yesterday we had less than 50 in the begining and by the close of day we had 207, so I hope and pray that Hon Members would join in good time to enable us transact public business. The required correct number for the transaction of business is only 92, and five minutes after my Hon Colleague had raised it, significantly the number is improving. I believe that if we give ourselves the next 10 minutes, many of our Members would join us. Mr Speaker, the happy news is that, my Hon Colleague did not take objection to continuing business; he only made an observation. When he made an observation, it was not to take an objection to the continuance of business. So Mr Speaker, I believe we could proceed.
Thank you, Hon Majority Leader and Hon Minority Leader and the Hon Member for admonishing your Hon Colleagues to take the work of the House seriously. Hon Majority Leader, sometimes I wonder if the offices for Hon Members have helped us or not; when we did not have offices, the only place we could be was the cafeteria. So we could always come in in our numbers. I have observed, since we had offices that Hon Members come in, sign in and go and sit in the offices without coming to participate in the Business of the House. Very clearly, the over 200 number that was registered in the Votes and Proceedings of yesterday were not in this Chamber at any point in time. In my view, it is an embarrassment for us. Some Hon Members are not happy when some Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) that work with us publish our names for having absented ourselves. Indeed, they have taken steps to petition Mr Speaker to withdraw certain Hon Members from the House. Nobody would be happy if any such thing happens, but if you go by the record, indeed, some Hon Members have breached the Constitution and they probably ought not to continue to be Hon Members of the House. I take this opportunity to encourage Hon Members to take their work in the Chamber seriously. We have constituency demands, yes; we have Committee works, yes. But it is always the Leadership who is admonishing that Hon Members should come into the Chamber, start the business for the day before they file out to do other Committee works. Having said that, I would proceed with the day's work. Item numbered 3 -- Questions. Hon Majority Leader, is the Hon Minister here to answer the Questions?
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister for Health is here and I believe he is ready to answer those Questions that have been filed.
Very well. We start with Question numbered 332 standing in the name of Mr Alexander Roosevelt Hottordze, Hon Member for Central Tongu.
ORAL ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS
MINISTRY OF HEALTH
Yes, Hon Minister? -- [Pause.]
None Yes, Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, Hon Ministers are summoned to respond to Questions that have been asked and duly transmitted to them. It appears my Hon Colleague is adding on to the Question that we find here. He should read the Question as he filed it and as admitted by Mr Speaker. You cannot embellish the Question when you have the opportunity to ask the Question. He should ask the Question as it appears in the Order Paper.
Thank you, Hon Majority Leader —
Hon Member, hold on, he was not addressing you; he was addressing me.
I am thanking him first. --[Laughter.]
The Hon Minister would answer the Question as it appears on the Order Paper. [Hear! Hear!]
Mr Speaker, the Ministry of Health is aware that the population of Mafi-Kumase is growing, and as part of our policy, it will require a much wider service package than it has currently. This means that the Health Centre will need to be upgraded to a polyclinic so as to attract the required facilities and staff. The Ministry is seeking budgetary allocation from the Ministry of Finance. This will be done in the 2019 budget proposal.
Yes, Hon Member?
Thank you, Mr Speaker. For want of a definite answer, I would like to find out from the Hon Minister as to whether he is telling me categorically that in the 2019 Budget, this particular proposal would be captured.
Mr Speaker, my Hon Colleague is trying to seek assurance from me. But he knows very well as I do our budgetary process might not allow the Minister for Health to give an assurance that a particular activity would by all means be captured in the Budget. What I can assure him of is that, I would submit the Ministry's proposals to the Ministry of Finance including Mafi- Kumase and several others. So if Parliament -- and I hope that the entire Parliament would approve such a proposal. When it is captured in what has been approved by Parliament, I would have no option than to implement the Budget. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, I would still like to find out from the Hon Minister what
Mr Speaker, the Ministry is now working on the updates on the costs of some types of facilities that we normally would want to do. And when that is completed, we would look at the number of Health Centres we planned to upgrade next year to polyclinics and then we would get a situation where Mafi-Kumase would be visited and we would see whether we would use the same cost structure, or probably a bit varied and look at what preparations we could make for the place. Mr Speaker, for now we have not done any preparation with what I would be able to answer my Hon Colleague. But we would send people to the place for inspection and see what things we would do immediately we finish with our cost estimates to see how we could fix the type of facility my Hon Colleague wants in his constituency. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Hon Member, your last supplementary question.
Mr Speaker, I would want to find out from the Hon Minister whether there would be the need for me to make some follow-ups.
Mr Speaker, I believe the answer is yes.
Hon Member, we say constituency specific questions are constituency specifics. So we leave it here. The next Question is in the name of Dr Mark Kurt Nawaane, Hon Member for Nabdam. Provision of District Hospital Services in Nabdam District *355. Dr Mark Kurt Nawaane asked the Minister for Health when district hospital services would be provided in the Nabdam District.
Mr Speaker, the Ministry of Health is aware that the population of Nabdam is growing, and as part of our policy, it will require a much wider service package than it has currently. This means that the Health Centre will need to be upgraded to a hospital so as to attract the required facilities and staff. This has already been considered in the four- year Capital Investment Plan and the Ministry has started negotiations for concessionary funding towards its implementation.
In the Hon Minister's Answer, he stated that the Health Centre will need to be upgraded to a hospital. What work is needed to be done to the Nagode Health Centre, to be upgraded to a hospital or Nabdam which is the district capital of Nangode?
Mr Speaker, I thought that I was here to answer a Question on Nabdam. It looks like it has shifted to Nangode. [Interruptions.]
Nabdam is the constituency and Nangode is the capital. We do not have any district hospital services, that is grades “C” and “D”. We do not have any in the whole district.
Mr Speaker, we have the standard definition of a hospital. Therefore, we would go and inspect the facilities we have in the existing health centre and add on to make it a complete district hospital. If what we have at the moment would not serve any serious purpose, by the nature of the population and what is in Nabdam, then those ones would have to be refurbished and expanded to give it the full complement of what we described as a district hospital at Nabdam.
Your last follow-up question, please?
In the Hon Minister's Answer, he stated that there were negotiations for a concessionary loan. What stage has it got to?
Mr Speaker, my Hon Colleague would be aware that the Ministry of Finance is actually now working with some guidelines by virtue of the debt situation in the country. First, there would be an assessment to find out about the proposals we sent to them, whether the facility we want them to engage in would be concessionary or not. Having finished that, they would also want to check whether we have some little fiscal space that would enable us take the loan, so that we do not go beyond the threshold or upper limit of debts we have put on ourselves. When these pass through, then they would inform us and we would start preparations with the agreements among others, that we might have to bring to Parliament. With the exact position of the Ministry of Finance now, it would be a very difficult question for me to answer as I stand here.
Hon Member, that was your last follow-up question or was that your second? Very well, then you are entitled to one more.
From the Hon Minister's Answer, it appears that we do not actually know when Nabdams would get district hospital services. This is because the negotiations, as he said, are ongoing. Under the circumstance, has the Hon Minister considered innovative ways to provide these services -- services and not the big infrastructure by making extensions to the existing structure? I am a medical practitioner and have used my Common Fund to build a ward and a theatre. Indeed, we need about two or three more structures as extensions.
Hon Member, kindly ask a question.
Has he considered that aspect, such that we do not have to wait for four or five years to get a district hospital before we can provide district hospital services? That is level “C” or “D”.
Mr Speaker, I already said that we have already captured Nabdam in our four-year Capital Investment Plan. So, at worst, within the four years, Nabdam would see a district hospital. This is provided so he should continue to vote for this side of the House to lead governance. Mr Speaker, I however want to inform my Hon Colleague that I have a programme that I engage in, which is
The next Question is in the name of the Hon Member for Upper West Akim. Upgrade of Adeiso Health Centre to Hospital Status *356. Mr Derek Ohene Assifo Bekoe asked the Minister for Health when the Health Centre at Adeiso, the capital of Upper West Akim District, would be upgraded to a hospital status.
Mr Speaker, Adeiso is currently ranked fifth in the Eastern Region for the upgrading of facilities into a Hospital. Presently, the Government is sourcing for funds for the provision of Hospitals for every District and Upper West Akim will surely come on board when funds are made available.
Mr Speaker, the problem facing Upper West Akim currently is lack of competent teams, in terms of the numbers, to man antenatal services in the district. For the district, we have to wait for the time that the Government would come in with funds to upgrade the facility to a district hospital -- May I ask the Hon Minister what plans are in place to provide the district facility with a number of key staff within the antenatal unit to ensure that the over 123 communities which depend on the district facility would be well served? This would ensure that our mothers do not suffer due to the limited number of antenatal staff.
The Ministry itself is embarking on a programme that would enable us put key staff to adequately man facilities that we have on the ground. About three weeks ago, we had a Human Resource (HR) forum where we discussed some of these challenges that faced Adeiso. Mr Speaker, with this urgency, I would want to request the Regional Director for Health Services to visit Adeiso and look at the peculiar situation; and on his advice, we shall act to see how best the problem could be solved.
Mr Speaker, from the answers given by the Hon Minister, it tells that the people of Upper West Akim would have to continue to transport important medical cases to nearby hospitals at Asamankese, Nsawam and also Accra. Mr Speaker, I would want to know from the Hon Minister whether he would consider to provide the Adeiso Clinic with an ambulance, so that critical cases could be transferred till the facility is upgraded.
Mr Speaker, the Ministry is working towards getting ambulances for all districts in the country, but our processes have not been firmed up yet. We are still sourcing for funding and looking at procurement processes. I believe when the process is completed and orders are received, Adeiso would be considered.
Hon Member for Ho West, you may ask your Question. Upgrade of Tsito-Awudome Health Centre to Polyclinic Status *357. Mr Emmanuel Kwasi Bedzrah asked the Minister for Health when the Tsito-Awudome Health Centre will be upgraded to polyclinic status.
Mr Speaker, the Ministry of Health is aware that the population of Tsito-Awudome is growing, and as part of our policy, it will require a much wider service package than it has currently. This means that the Health Centre will need to be upgraded to a polyclinic so as to attract the required facilities and staff. However, the Government is sourcing for funds for the upgrade and rehabilitation of facilities and Tsito- Awudome will commence as planned when funds are made available.
Mr Speaker, I am happy that the Hon Minister has acknowledged the fact that the Tsito-Awudome population is growing. I would want to know from him what size of population would warrant a polyclinic?
Mr Speaker, I thought that as an Hon Member of Parliament (MP), he would know the population of Tsito-Awudome, but I am surprised he is trying to get that information from me. Mr Speaker, I would not be in the position to answer this particular question until I make some references. Mr Speaker, with your indulgence, I would come back to the House to answer this particular question.
Mr Speaker, I thank the Hon Minister that he would come back to inform the whole House --
The Hon Minister would provide you the specific information.
Mr Speaker, with your indulgence, I wanted to know the size of a population that would warrant a polyclinic. This is not for Tsito- Awudome alone. The answer is good for all of us and not only for my good self. Mr Speaker, the Tsito community has provided some facilities through their own initiative, and so there are a lot of facilities there. I would want to find out from the Hon Minister if he would follow up to find out if those facilities are enough for a polyclinic?
Mr Speaker, we would do the follow-up.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister in his Answer said that ‘'…when funds are made available''. I would want to know from the Hon Minister when funds would be made available for this particular project, so that I can inform my constituents?
Mr Speaker, in an earlier Answer, I said that we have captured some facilities in our four-year capital investment plan and Tsito-Awudome is in that group. Between now and four years, I believe the Ministry of Finance and Parliament would be kind enough to give us the money.
Hon Members, the last Question for the day is in the name of the same Hon Member for Ho West. Upgrade of Kpedze Health Centre to a District Hospital *358. Mr Emmanuel Kwasi Bedzrah asked the Minister for Health when the Kpedze Health Centre would be upgraded to a District Hospital status.
Mr Speaker, according to the Ghana Health Service (GHS) Planning for Hospitals at this level, Kpedze is currently ranked 7th in the Volta Region for the upgrading of facilities into a Hospital. The Government is currently sourcing for funds for the provision of Hospitals for every District without a hospital. Therefore Ho West will be catered for when funds are secured.
Mr Speaker, Kpedze Health Centre, which has been upgraded into a polyclinic status, has benefited from MTN and the Hon Member of Parliament for the area through some facilities upgrade. We are still in the process of renovating the laboratory which can cater for the populace. The district does not have a district hospital at all, and as the Hon Minister mentioned, as the 7th in the region, a district without hospital -- we all know what that entails. Mr Speaker, I would want to know from the Hon Minister whether with all these facilities, some of which have been renovated by the MTN and the Hon Member of Parliament for the area, it would not be enough for it to be upgraded into a district hospital?
Mr Speaker, what we do in the Ministry is that - I know almost all of us, with some little funds we receive as Members of Parliament (MPs), do some interventions and support some facilities in our constituencies. Again, District Assemblies support facilities when some work have been done and the Ministry is informed to do an inspection to grade it. Technical people would be sent to look at it, grade it and specify what the requirements in the facility shall be in terms of equipment and professional health workers who would be placed there for a proper grading to be given. Mr Speaker, in this instance, I would from here, request a small team to go and do that kind of inspection to see how the facility could be graded.
Mr Speaker, I thank the Hon Minister that he would dispatch a team to visit the facility, and I would want to be part of that team.
Hon Minister, the Hon Member says he would want to be part of the team that would be dispatched.
Mr Speaker, I would want to assure him that he would be invited.
Hon Minority Leader, these are all constituency specific Questions and by the rules, the Leaders have agreed that other Hon Members may not comment.
Mr Speaker, I would be guided but the Hon Minister's Answer is loaded with Capital Investment Plans and releases from the Ministry of Finance. Mr Speaker, with your indulgence, I would want to ask him how much he has received so far from the Ministry of Finance for capital investment to be able to undertake those purposes.
Hon Minister, have you received anything in respect of any of these projects?
Mr Speaker --
I said that the Hon Member for — You cannot speak on Bekwai Hospital for reasons you and I know. And so when you want to speak to him about Bekwai Hospital, it should not be when I am in the Chair. Yes, Hon Minister?
Mr Speaker, in an answer to an earlier question, I mentioned that I am scheduling some of these upgrading and expenditures we make through the 2019 Budget window. And that is when I expect that we can receive some good level of capital expenditure vote. Mr Speaker, other than that, this year, we got only GH¢50 million which has already been dedicated and allocated to other specific projects and none of these here is included. Mr Speaker, with your indulgence, I would want to inform my other Hon Colleague who was trying to be inquisitive that, Bekwai Hospital would soon see progress as quickly as we sign some agreement, and we would invite you for the recommissioning or sod cutting ceremony of the Bekwai Hospital.
Hon Minister, you do not know who he is on the project, do you? Find out.
Mr Speaker, in our practice, we cannot divulge all information and so I would want to keep this on the blind side of other Hon Colleagues. Mr First Deputy Speaker Very well. That is the end of Question time. Hon Minister, we thank you for attending upon the House to answer the Questions. You are discharged now. Hon Members, item numbered 4. I admitted one Statement to be read today. It stands in the name of the Hon Member for Nsawam-Adoagyiri, who is also the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee; Hon Frank Annoh-Dompreh.
Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to make this Statement. Mr Speaker, I begin my Statement with a question by Fela Durotoye; which with your permission I beg to quote;
Hon Member for Pusiga?
I thank you, Mr Speaker, for giving me the opportunity to contribute to the Statement ably made by my Hon Colleague from the other side of the aisle. Mr Speaker, the issue of Ghana Beyond Aid has been long overdue. It is a very good measure to be taken. It is an initiative that needs to be lauded by every Ghanaian. But there are so many questions than answers when it comes to the issue of Ghana Beyond Aid. Mr Speaker, when we go to our markets today, what we realise is that, the goods that are so much patronised are those that are brought from outside this country. Even with vegetables, which are grown in our fields and backyards, foreign ones are more patronised than our own local vegetables, name them -- okra, tomatoes, cabbages et cetera. Mr Speaker, if in our own country, we do not appreciate even the food that we grow, how would we be talking about Ghana Beyond Aid? We need to uplift our economy and be happy that, at least, we are able to feed ourselves; from there, we could pick up.
Hon Member, hold on. Yes, Hon Member from Akyem Oda?
I thank you, Mr Speaker. The Hon Member has made a statement that I believe is not factual and should not be allowed to pass. She said that vegetables imported into this country are more than the quantity of vegetables produced here. That is not true.
That is not what she said. She said Ghanaians prefer the imported ones to the local ones. That is the statement she made.
Mr Speaker, but that is also not true. [Uproar] -- That is not factual and cannot be allowed.
Hon Member, please continue.
Mr Speaker, it is interesting to know that, there is a long way to go. As stated by the Hon Member who made the Statement, most governments who have come and gone have brought about programmes that need to support the growth of our dear country Ghana. Yet day in and day out, we have issues that come up and we have not been able to settle them to enhance our forward march. Mr Speaker, if we look at our debt stock, which he has mentioned as an issue of borrowing and begging, between the last Government and this one, one realises that the difference of the debt stock of Ghana to date is GH¢ 27 billion. That is between 2017 and 2018. If we could go borrowing so much within two years then I wonder how we could actually be running away from debts. This is because we were all in this country -- and we continue to be here - We realised that it was categorically stated that the moneys are in this country; we have the resources; that is a fact, and we need to use. As the Hon Member who made the Statement said, we have the bauxite, gold and other resources. Yes! These are things that would help us, but the fact is that, if we have them and we have said that we could make good use of them, what then leads us to go and borrow up to GH¢ 27 billion within two years? It is not even up to two years; it is just about one year and some months. So we would see that the borrowing, as he has mentioned, continues to pull us down. If we talk about the begging, he has mentioned it in another aspect that the Aid is something that we cannot run away from. We should make each and every one understand that whatever Aid comes in should not be taken as if it comes to remain for good. It should be taken as coming in to solve a problem and ends there. That was a very laudable idea. Mr Speaker, when we look at our expenditures, sometimes when we try to put in certain programmes to help ourselves, we would realise that those expenditures go beyond other countries that we could refer to.
Hon Member, that is not correct. It is not a fact, so let us move on. The Hon Minister has been asked to answer and put out the exact figures. That is not a correct statement. We should all take note that on a Statement, we should avoid controversies. That is the rule. You must, please, respect the rules.
Mr Speaker, I take your advice. Mr Speaker, all I am putting across is that we need to look at issues that would actually support us get out of going out there to indebt our country and beg for more. We are to be educated to understand that we have the resources which we need to make good use of. Whatever we need to do in this country, we need to look in our country first and make good use of whatever resources we have to forge ahead before we think of going out there to appreciate the resources or products that come from other countries. Mr Speaker, if we are able to put these issues in perspective, live as Ghanaians and as Africans, appreciate that we could live within ourselves and manage our issues, then we would get to a Ghana Beyond Aid as we wish. Mr Speaker, the last point I would wish to make is the issue of breaking the boundaries of African countries. Our leaders should ensure that they unite and put off the artificial boundaries that create impediments for trade and for people to go to other countries -- even countries that one could walk across to do business. This is so that trade and businesses could boom, and that would help Africa a lot. Mr Speaker, I thank you very much for the opportunity.
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to contribute to the Statement ably made by the Hon Member of Parliament for Nsawam-Adoagyiri and Hon Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Hon Frank Annoh-Dompreh. Mr Speaker, in doing so, I wish to commend the Hon Member who made the Statement for the able manner in which he articulated this issues of Ghana Beyond Aid. Mr Speaker, I have said that Ghana Beyond Aid is a call for action. Indeed, it is a call for us to work towards weaning ourselves from aid. That is clearly not an event; it is a process which vrequires us to have the recognition to achieve that objective, we need to add value to everything that we do as a people. We need to add value to our morals, integrity, work ethics, education, the cost of our infrastructural development, our raw materials, law and order, the job market, and take away significant value from corruption. In doing so, it requires significant policies, strategies, programmes and focus implementation to enable us achieve that objective. I have heard many people essentially pooh-pooh His Excellency the President's statement regarding ‘Ghana Beyond Aid'. I wish to assure Hon Members of this House that, indeed ‘Ghana Beyond Aid' is not a mere rhetoric. The Government has indeed articulated and put in place concrete steps that would enable this country achieve a Ghana Beyond Aid status. Mr Speaker, for instance, the Government has identified six key pillars on which it is working to actualise, enable us achieve a Ghana Beyond Aid. These include: the transformation of our agriculture. So the Government has for instance, implemented the Planting for Food and Jobs Programme and the one dam -- [Interruption.] -- the One Village One Dam Programme. This would help us achieve food sufficiency in this country and enable us make savings in excess of US$2.2 billion, which we annually spend on importing food into this country. Mr Speaker, another pillar that has been identified is our oil and gas infrastructure, where the Government is making significant investment to create a petrochemical industry in the western enclave to enable us generate our industrialisation drive. To that extent, the Ghana National Gas Company Limited has been mandated to set up facilities that would provide gas as feedstock for our industrialisation drive. Mr Speaker, another pillar that has been identified is education. In that respect, the Government has implemented the Free Senior High School Education Policy, which would build the capacity of Ghanaian children and keep them in school, at least, until they turn 18 years. Mr Speaker, the Integrated Aluminium Development Authority Bill, which would leverage our bauxite resources in Nyinahin, Awaso and the Kibi enclave has been laid in this House. This is to develop and refine our natural resources to enable us generate significant revenues from them to drive the Ghana Beyond Aid agenda. Mr Speaker, entrepreneurship and skills development has also been identified, and the Government is making significant investments in these areas to ensure that all the things that we do would necessarily lead this country, which is blessed with abundant natural resources, not to depend on aid for our development. Mr Speaker, without being repetitive, I believe that I have contributed to this subject. I call my Hon Brothers on the other Side of the House to support His Excellency the President in this call. After all, Ghana is the only country we have. If we build a Ghana beyond aid, we would all be the better for it.
Mr Speaker, I thank you for allowing me to add my voice to the Statement made on the floor of the House, and to contribute to same. Mr Speaker, Ghana Beyond Aid is a mantra that everybody interested in the restoration of our dignity would associate with because nobody wants to live on aid and charity. We cannot, as a people, continue to depend on the benevolence of our development partners. So we need to envisage a Ghana Beyond Aid. [Hear! Hear!] Mr Speaker, but it must not be a rhetoric. Mr Speaker, I listened to my good Hon Friend and Colleague, Hon Frank Annoh- Dompreh. His first paragraph gave me hope that he understood exactly how we
Hon Member for Twifo Atti Morkwa?
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to contribute to this marvelous debate. In the first place, I would want to take this opportunity to thank and congratulate the Hon Member for the able Statement. Mr Speaker, in contributing, I would want us to look at the role of ideas in transforming economies and creating opportunities. By so doing, I would want us to cast our minds back to the formation of the African Union (AU). Dr Kwame Nkrumah and his cohorts articulated the idea of African unity but those were the days that people would shoot such ideas down. Now Africa is paying dearly for not supporting Dr Kwame Nkrumah and his colleagues. The attitude of we not embracing ideas and giving them the germination and fertilisation to be able to do certain things for us in Africa is something that is very worrying. Therefore in associating myself with the Statement, I would want this noble House -- As the Hon Member said, we should go beyond partisan lines and accept this idea not only for Ghana but as an idea that this Parliament would process for the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and Pan- African Parliaments. So that at the end of the day, we are not looking beyond only “Ghana Beyond Aid” but Africa beyond aid. If this House would adopt this idea from our President as being a divine enablement from God, then we will be able to process it and make sure that what Dr Kwame Nkrumah and others started, we can also restart it this time. Mr Speaker, with these few words, I thank the Hon Member who made the Statement for this wonderful contribution.
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to contribute to the Statement on “Ghana Beyond Aid”. Mr Speaker, as has been said, yes, every Ghanaian would like to see a “Ghana beyond Aid” but I believe that the time has come for us to be very practical about these ideas. If we want a “Ghana Beyond Aid”, then as leaders of this country, we have the responsibility to put the necessary structures on the ground to ensure that our country walks the steps into building a “Ghana Beyond Aid”. Today our business community is suffering; it does not have the enabling environment on which to turn even our agricultural products into manufactured goods. Our business community has to depend on our banking systems for the necessary financing and because of some of the prevailing conditions that we have become used to in this country called risks, our business communities have to face high interest rates in getting the necessary funding to manufacture and increase productivity in the manufacturing sector. Mr Speaker, so I believe that if as a Government we want a “Ghana Beyond Aid”, we must start from our home by bringing our financial institutions together and say that we want a Ghana beyond aid. Let us provide financing, sometimes supported by the Government and say that these are the necessary financing and we give it to our business community and tell them to increase their productivity in so and so areas and that by such and such a time, our country will be beyond aid. We have to be practical with these kinds of things.
Hon Member for Nsuta-Kwamang Beposo?
Mr Speaker, thank you. I would like to associate myself with the Statement ably made by the Hon Member for Nsawam-Adoagyiri. Mr Speaker, “Ghana Beyond Aid” has come at the right time because at the onset of independence, Ghana had one of the highest incomes in Africa and this would have placed it among the middle income countries by today's standards. Ghana's per capita income of US$354 in 1950 was the highest among West African States and it was more than double of the average for Africa. Even at the time of inauguration of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in 1975, Ghana's per capita income of US$427 was second to only La Cote D'Ivoire which was US$460. But five years later in 1980, Ghana's per capita income of US$420 ranked fifth after La Cote D'Ivoire which had US$1,150. Mr Speaker, Nigeria had US$1,010; Liberia had US$530 and Senegal had US$450 and this was only US$55 of the continental average of US$760. Mr Speaker, in view of this, the President in his wisdom has put down a strategy in the area of agriculture which would once again bring Ghana to the good old days. Mr Speaker, the transformation of agriculture seeks to promote increased small-holder, medium and large scale productivity and ensure that all efficient farmers, fishermen, processors, distributors as well as others in the agriculture sector earn incomes that are comparable to those outside agriculture, thus, making agriculture an attractive employment alternative to industry, trade and commerce. Mr Speaker, the new agriculture which the President has introduced also seeks to provide all Ghanaians with adequate and nutritious balanced diet at reasonable prices both now and in the future when Ghana's current 30 million population would have increased to 60 million as expected in the year 2060. Mr Speaker, this new agriculture seeks to ensure that agriculture contributes effectively to the country's balance of payments positive --
Hon Member, we are speaking to a specific Statement. Probably, the investments in agriculture would feed into achieving that but you are spending too much time on agriculture policy. Kindly contribute to the Statement on the floor and conclude your statement.
Mr Speaker, I am talking about where the Government wants to take this country to. The government believes --
I have noticed that in agriculture but “Ghana Beyond Aid” is not only agriculture. So, I want you to speak to the issue.
Mr Speaker, this is where the strength of this country lies and that is why I am stressing more on agriculture. Mr Speaker, the President also seeks to ensure that agriculture contributes effectively to the country's balance of payments position through export diversification and profitable agricultural investments. Mr Speaker, talking about the One District One Factory Policy, he also seeks to establish effective linkages between agriculture and industry so that agro processing becomes the driving force --
Hon Member, you have one minute to conclude.
Yes, Mr Speaker. In Ghana's accelerated economic growth strategy under which the economy is expected to grow between six per cent and seven per cent annually -- Mr Speaker, with these few words I am most grateful for the opportunity to contribute.
Hon Members, I would take a contribution each from either Side and I would bring an end to the Statement. Hon Member for Ellembele?
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity and I thank the Hon Member for Nsawam-Adoagyiri for making the Statement. Mr Speaker, I believe that the points that have been made are well within what the Hon Member who made the Statement articulated. Mr Speaker, firstly, let me say that the template for Ghana's prosperity was laid when we had our independence through Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah, a lot of Hon Members who contributed have alluded to it.
Hon Member, wind up.
Mr Speaker, the template for our prosperity has been laid down by the Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah and supported by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Government consistently. [Hear! Hear!] And they are simple; they should invest in education; invest in energy; invest in the health sector; and stop creating jargons that bring about no development. I thank you, Mr Speaker.
The last contribution would come from the Hon Minister for the Western Region.
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for this opportunity. Mr Speaker, first of all, I would want to thank the Hon Member of Parliament for Nsawam-Adoagyiri for putting this very important topic in the public domain. Mr Speaker, “Ghana Beyond Aid” is a very profound idea. Indeed, we could say in one breadth that, if we would want to go beyond aid tomorrow, literally, we could do it. It is an idea in everybody's mind. And I am saying that it depends on how much hardship, for example, Ghanaians want to put up with. Nobody can define the endpoint for us. We have to define the endpoint. For example, the question is, when do we reach the point where we could say that we have reached beyond aid? At any point in time in the international discourse, we have to deal with other countries and we would exchange goods, services and ideas. On some we may classify as aid and some might even come in as condiment which we might need to develop our economy. However, I am absolutely certain in my mind that this country and for that matter Africa has to abolish the culture of dependency. Mr Speaker, I, unlike other people, believe that the political left has brought all this difficulty to this country. They have had a time to rule this country for a long time, and it is the political left that established a template which led us to this culture of dependency. The paradox is that, some people think that they had the potential to liberate this country. They established a command and control economy which never worked. They established factories which government directed but had no economic basis. So I have no business to think that that is what the Government of the former President Kuffuor --
Hon Minister, hold on. Yes, Hon Member for Adaklu?
Mr Speaker, we have school children here who might be listening to us. We all know what “political left” or “political right” means. If my Hon Colleague says that all these problems we have in this country was brought onto us by “political left”, I do not mind knowing what those things are. So, if he could educate us in terms of what he terms as the things that have been brought onto this country by the “political leftists”. If he could enumerate them, that would be very helpful to everybody.
Hon Member, avoid controversy. In contributing to Statements, we avoid controversies.
Very well. Mr Speaker, what I wanted to put into the public domain was that, the allusion was made to templates which were set up in the past. I thought that was very provocative indeed. I believe that with those things -- I am not unaware of the fact that we should not engage in debate, but my submission is that they never worked and the country moved to the centre. Mr Speaker, I believe when the President put out this idea, he called for a national debate. In this sense, he alluded to the fact that we must have a national consensus so that we have a viable economy. In this sense, we have to pay attention to those things that would enhance this idea and engender our economic advancement. In this sense, there must be a reduction in corruption. We should have an improvement in our Gross Domestic Product (GDP); we should have responsible borrowing because borrowing willingly -- We have economic stability and payment of taxes. The tax net must be widened and in the same breadth, those things that would have the tendency to kill these ideas or stigmatise it, for example -- With those ideas, we must fight collectively against them. Mr Speaker, that was why I said it is a profound idea. In that sense, everybody and every family should have a family beyond aid and live within our budgets. Mr Speaker, with these ideas, I beg to associate myself with the Statement.
Before I invite the Leaders to conclude this discussion, I have to recognise two visitors from the Parliament of the Gambia: Hon Lamin J. Sanneh, MP for Brikama South Constituency (Majority Member) and Amadou Camara, MP for Nianija Constituency (Minority Member). Hon Members, you are welcome to the Parliament of Ghana. You are ensured you would enjoy your stay. I see at the gallery also, the President of the Ghana Bar Association, Ashanti Region, probably coming to support us with the Right to Information Bill. President, you are welcome. Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, let me thank you for the opportunity to contribute to the Statement ably made by the Member of Parliament for Nsawam- Adoagyiri and Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee on ‘Ghana Beyond Aid' and to commend him for bringing it to the fore and to the Parliament of Ghana. However, Mr Speaker, in doing so, may I refer you to the Constitution of the Republic of Ghana, which provides in article 36 as follows and with your permission I quote; “(1) The State shall take all necessary action to ensure that the national economy is managed in such a manner as to maximise the rate of economic development and to secure the maximum welfare, freedom and happiness of every person in Ghana and to provide adequate means of livelihood and suitable employment and public assistance to the needy. (2) The State shall, in particular, take all necessary steps to establish a sound and healthy economy whose underlying principles shall include -- (a) the guarantee of a fair and realistic remuneration for production and productivity in order to encourage continued production and higher productivity; (b) affording ample opportunity for individual initiative and creativity in economic activities and fostering an enabling environment for a pronounced role of the private sector in the economy; (c) ensuring that individuals and the private sector bear their fair share of social and national responsibilities including responsibilities to contribute to the overall development of the country; (d) undertaking even and balanced development of all regions and every part of each region of Ghana, and, in particular, improving the conditions of life in the rural areas, and generally, redressing any imbalance in development between the rural and the urban areas; (e) the recognition that the most secure democracy is the one that assures the basic necessities of life for its people as a fundamental duty. (3) The State shall take appropriate measures to promote the development of agriculture and industry. (4) Foreign investment shall be encouraged within Ghana, subject to any law for the time being in force regulating invest- ment in Ghana. (5) For the purpose of the foregoing clauses of this article, within two years after assuming office, the President shall present to Parliament a co-ordinated programme of economic and
social development policies, including agricultural and industrial programmes at all levels and in all the regions of Ghana.” Mr Speaker, it is not for nothing that the Constitution imposes this obligation on the President. For this purpose, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo- Addo has to present same to the Parliament of Ghana as the representative forum of the people. He has done so timeously and within time, which is commendable. But Mr Speaker, the President presented to us what you can refer to as the co-ordinated programme of economic and social development policy, 2017 to 2024, which I have here. But do we find the vision of the President expressed in the document, which he so presented to Parliament, which should have been a requirement?
if it is a personal vision
Hold on, Hon Minority Leader. Hon Member for Okaikwei Central?
Mr Speaker, I am happy with the presentation of the Hon Minority Leader but what is the net effect of the document that H. E. the President presented?
You have no objection. Hon Minority Leader, please continue.
Mr Speaker, once the President presents this, it becomes a national vision and naturally, it must have all our support. I do encourage Hon Members to support the President on his shared vision of an agenda for jobs -- creating prosperity and economic opportunity for all. But I am saying that in this vision, those who helped the President did not help him enough. Part of the preamble to this document should have been “Ghana Beyond Aid”. Mr Speaker, if it is a personal vision -- It is not. I pray and I believe it is not. If it is a personal vision, the President has constitutionally four years to rule Ghana. We are in the one-half of it. We are left with three years. Ghana Beyond Aid -- Nowhere has the President or any Minister shared with the Ghanaian public the time limit for its achievement. Whether it would be four years, eight years, twelve years or in the year 2024, we do not know. Mr Speaker, therefore it is important that when we set out this vision, there be time limits so that we commit ourselves and we commit resources to work towards its attainment. When I say “time limit”, it means that we would work within the next ten years, because in my view, Ghana Beyond Aid cannot be achieved within four years. Even in years, I shudder and hesitate to support. Mr Speaker, I was encouraged when I listened to the Hon Member, but coming to his penultimate paragraph, and with your indulgence, I quote -- Mr Speaker, I have raised the issue because in this country, our bane is petty partisanship. Therefore this vision of the President, if he pursues and leads the process to unite the country around him, we owe him that support; and we would give him the support. So, the President must be encouraged for social inclusion and for more consultation and engagement of stakeholders, including the academic community and the private sector as we walk this vision. However Mr Speaker, to quote the Hon Member who first made the Statement he reduced it and said -- ‘‘a successful economic development strategy''. The rest of the words are not too important for me, but then he said, “One district one factory, one village one dam”. You would see the picture of the Hon Alan Kyerematen and his Chinese counterpart looking for money to finance one district, one factory. Mr Speaker, I have just made a significant point. What is worrying for me -- The Hon Leader would want to see the picture -- US$400 million. To quote his words, ‘‘ Ghana beyond aid' means self- reliant, self-sufficient, dependable Ghana, which would not look up to foreign support, whether foreign donations or not to finance our development.'' Mr Speaker, every government finances itself through three instruments; through taxes, by way of revenue mobilisation; through public private partnership, or through borrowing. There is nothing more. There is no other source available to the Government of Ghana. Maybe, there could be the sales of assets. However, the Hon Member who made the Statement, in paragraph 12 -- and there I fundamentally disagree with him. This is what he said, that everyone gets the opportunity of one district, one factory; one village, one dam; free education; tax cut. One cannot eat his cake and have it. If we have one district, one factory, why are they going to the Chinese? It is the Chinese' tax money they are going to look for. And they want tax cut? No. So Mr Speaker, in my view, Ghana Beyond Aid means a self-sufficient, self- reliant Ghana, which must raise the resources we need internally to generate our own development. Maybe, the Hon Member who made the Statement -- Mr Speaker, let me bring the Hon Member who made the Statement to paragraph 8. He has been very generous in the paragraph. He used only Local Government as his basis when he quoted. Mr Speaker, I am referencing because I must quote him exactly. I am debating his words. Those are words he used. He goes to use not paragraph 8 but paragraph 4 coming to 5, where he used a brilliant reference, GH¢321 million as the annual
Mr Speaker, accommodate him, if you would indulge him.
Hon Minority Leader, are you done?
No, Mr Speaker.
Hon Annoh-Dompreh, is this your Statement? I wanted the Hon Speaker to capture you saying that you have not referred to Rwanda; you have. Do you want me to show it to you? I have read your document well. Go to your last page, the opening words, “little Rwanda”. Rwanda was your word, but you are running away from it.
Please address the Chair and proceed.
Therefore Mr Speaker, I am awakened by the President's call, and he can be assured of our national support. But as I said earlier, he must engage the country, unite the country behind him and inclusively build consensus for us to pursue it. How come La Cote D'Ivoire is doing better today than Ghana after a post-war period? How can Rwanda do better with all the resources he has referred to? It calls for judicious use of our resources. Mr Speaker, in concluding, I can only borrow the words of the Hon Member for Tamale Central, Mr Inusah Fuseini, that let Ghana beyond aid go beyond rhetoric. Let it be guided by policy action, policy objectives and policy vision and resource mobilisation to achieve those objectives within a stated period. It cannot just be Ghana beyond aid, where are we starting and when are we ending? We need to know. Mr Speaker, government upon government have paid lip service to the private sector of Ghana, yet they are the incubator in the factory of jobs, not the public sector. We have a public sector which already has 685,000 workers which needs to be thinned. We do not have the political will to thin it, but at least, we should create an enabling environment for the private sector to create the jobs but we are not doing that. Mr Speaker, the Hon Member who made the Statement talked about the ease of doing business. How come customs cannot even work for 24 hours in Ghana at the port? Why must it take an importer or exporter more than 72 hours to get his or her goods out or cleared? “Ghana Beyond Aid” means we should reduce the cost of doing business, ease the cost of doing business, provide an enabling environment for the private sector to thrive, and above all, mobilise the resources internally, not tax cuts. If we mobilise as a country and ensure prudent and optimal utilisation of the resources then I will agree with him. Mr Speaker, only yesterday, we allocated petroleum funds to GNPC, other resources, US$1 billion going to a government entity. Is that not the same US$ 1 billion the Hon Minister for Finance went abroad to look for as a loan? Is that Ghana beyond aid? “Ghana Beyond Aid” -- Today, you have commitments. From now, the last Eurobond issued is beyond 2024; if we add the Ghana Beyond Aid, it would travel beyond 2024. Let the President work to elevate the “Ghana Beyond Aid” beyond a personal vision and beyond a party vision, into a national vision. He has our support. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I have listened to Hon Colleagues who have commented on the Statement made by our Hon Colleague, the Member for Nsawam Adoagyiri, Mr Frank Annoh-Dompreh.
REPUBLIC OF GHANA
IN THE NAME OF ALMIGHTY GOD
Thank you Hon Members. For me, this Statement has revealed something. What it has revealed is that, as we sit here, we are each defining “Ghana Beyond Aid” from our own perspectives. As long as we do that, it would be difficult to generate the kind of national support needed to propel it. I am aware that the President is putting up a team, the Ghana Beyond Aid Team. I encourage them to define it clearly. In defining what we call Ghana Beyond Aid, it should be negotiated across the political divide, so we have a national approach to the development. There would be no interruptions. When I am not in power, the other one comes and changes the structure and we keep rebuilding the foundation. There is one thing nobody has spoken about which I wish to emphasise. That is building and having technology. We want to build factories and go to China or Europe to import equipment. The natural resources we have, if we were able to have the technology to harness them ourselves, we would not need anything anywhere. We are not able to harness them only because we do not have technology. So we should focus on building technology that would enable us, even if we have to borrow now, borrow to build the technology that would enable us harness the resources we have to our advantage. Having said that, the next thing is our change of mind-set. It is not just corruption. In order to commit our country to achieve what really is, we really need a reorientation of our mind-set as a people. Hon Members, that is my small contribution. I thank the Hon Member who made the Statement and urge all of us to strive to make “Ghana Beyond Aid” the vision of the country. Thank you. At the commencement of Public Business, item numbered 5 on the Order Paper -- Motion. Hon Majority Leader, are we ready?
Mr Speaker, yesterday, the Hon Attorney-General and Minister for Justice was with us and she indicated that, she had another equally important assignment for today and would not be able to join us. The Hon Deputy Attorney-General would join us to move the Motion captured as item numbered 5. So, I would want to seek your pleasure and the indulgence of my Hon Colleagues, to have the Hon Deputy Attorney-General and Deputy Minister for Justice , move the Motion on behalf of the substantive Minister.
Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, we can proceed accordingly.
The Hon Deputy Attorney-General and Deputy Minister for Justice may now move the Motion listed as item numbered 5 on the Order Paper.
BILLS -- SECOND READING
Yes, Hon Member for Effutu?
Mr Speaker, with respect, they were intimidating my Hon Colleague. [Interruption] In this House, all Members must be heard. On that note, I beg to -- [Interruption.] They cannot intimidate him. They were getting him confused. This bullying and confrontation must stop.
Hon Member, I am here and in control. Thank you very much.
Mr Speaker, we are under your protection. They were trying to confuse and recklessly heckle. I take my leave and having brought it to your attention, my respected senior would second the Motion.
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion, that the Witness Protection Bill, 2017 be now read a Second time. In so doing, I wish to present the Committee's Report. Introduction The Witness Protection Bill, 2017 was laid in Parliament on Tuesday, 23rd January, 2018 by the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Hon Gloria Akuffo for passage in accordance with article 106 of the Constitution. Consequently, the Bill was referred to the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs by the Speaker for consideration and report pursuant to Order 179 of the Standing Orders of the House. Deliberations The Committee met with the Attorney- General and Minister for Justice, Hon Gloria Akuffo to consider the Bill. In attendance were Officials of the Office of the Attorney-General and Ministry of Justice to assist in the deliberations. The Committee expresses its profound gratitude to the Hon Attorney-General and Minister for Justice and the Officials for attending upon the Committee and for making valuable contributions in the deliberations. Reference Documents The Committee referred to the following documents during its deliberations: i.The 1992 Constitution; ii. The Standing Orders of Parliament; iii. The Whistle-blowers Act, 2006 (Act 720); and iv. The United Nations Convention against Corruption, 2007 (UNCAC). Background Information The testimony of witnesses in criminal investigations is often critical to the work of intelligence agencies, the Police and other agencies tasked with the maintenance of law and order, and safeguarding the security and safety of the nation. In many cases the evidence of a witness can be the pivotal piece of information that concludes an investigation or that leads to the successful outcome of the investigation or criminal proceedings. The evidence of witnesses is commonly required to prevent or prosecute crimes such as human trafficking, illicit arms dealing and money laundering. Witnesses can freely only offer testimonies when there is confidence and trust in the legal environment. There is therefore the need to provide full support and protection to witnesses for fear of retaliatory attacks to themselves and their relations. In line with the above, certain international instruments make provisions for affording effective protection to witnesses and their relatives as a critical step towards combating crimes, especially corruption. One of such international instruments is the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), which was ratified by Ghana on the 27th June, 2007. Per Article 32 of the UNCAC, Ghana as a State Party to the Convention is required to take appropriate measures to provide effective protection to witnesses, experts and other persons who assist in the investigation of crimes. The Convention further requires protection to be afforded to the relatives of witnesses, experts and other persons who are close to such witnesses or their relatives. Such protection measures include relocation of witnesses and their families, police escort to hearings, testifying in-camera, adoption of new identities and provision of temporary residences. Article 65 of UNCAC requires State Parties to take steps to implement the above measures through mechanisms such as the establishment of a Witness Protection Programme. It therefore became imperative to lay in Parliament the Witness Protection Bill, 2017 for passage in accordance with the relevant provisions of the 1992 Constitution. Purpose of the Bill The purpose of the Bill is to establish a Witness Protection Agency to administer a witness protection programme. The implementation of the programme by the Agency would protect witnesses, experts and their relatives against potential retaliation or intimidation as a result of their cooperation with law enforcement agencies. Summary of Key Provisions The Bill has been arranged into sixty provisions. Clauses 1 to 12 relate to a proposed Witness Protection Agency to administer the witness protection programme in the country. Specific matters covered under this cluster of Clauses include establishment of the Agency, its object and functions, powers, and the governing body of the Agency. Clauses 13 to 19 deal with administrative and financial matters of the Agency. These provisions cover the appointment of an Executive Director, the Deputy Executive Director and other Staff of the Agency. Other provisions cover funds of the Agency, sources of the fund, management of the fund, disbursements from the fund, accounts and audit, and annual reports. The above provisions are followed by the proposal to establish Victims Compensation Fund. The object of the Fund is to provide financial resources for the protection of victims, witnesses and related persons who face risk of harm or retaliation as a result of their co-operation with law enforcement agencies in the course of criminal investigations. The powers of the Agency are covered under Clauses 26 and 27. These provisions relate to the authority of the Executive Director, the Deputy Executive Director and other authorised Officers to have the powers and immunities conferred on the Police under relevant laws of the country. Clauses 28 to 56 set out the measures to be administered under the Witness Protection Programme established by the Agency. Some of the measures include relocating witnesses, offering counselling and vocational training services for the witnesses and providing them with transport to convey their properties.
Hon Deputy Attorney-General and Deputy Minister for Justice, I realised that I did not allow you to finish, so I would give you the last part so that you would wind up the debate. Hon Ranking Member?
Mr Speaker, I have been advised that by virtue of the temporary elevation, I should give opportunity to the Hon Deputy Ranking Member, so that I can have the opportunity to conclude.
Hon Member, I do not understand that. I know you are the Hon Ranking Member.
Mr Speaker, as the available Leader, it appears that there is a privilege extended to leadership and I intend to request --
Hon Member, I called the Hon Ranking Member. If you have a different arrangement just do it.
Mr Speaker, as said by the Hon Chairman of the Committee, this Bill was referred to the Committee by yourself for consideration and report to this House. Mr Speaker, this is a very important Bill. Ghana is a State party to the United Nations Convention Against Corruption which Convention requires and encourages State parties to pass legislation to protect witnesses who appear before investigative bodies to give testimony. Mr Speaker, this is rightly so, because fighting crime, especially, corruption and money laundering, is a very sensitive activity and dangerous at times. Some witnesses who appear before investigative bodies to give testimony might be endangering their lives, but determined to fight corruption we would need to put in place institutional mechanisms to safeguard and assure witnesses that, when they appear before the investigative bodies, if they are so identified and classified as being endangered, they would be taken into a programme which would be called the Witness Protection Programme and protected from the perceived danger that comes with the testimony they would give to the investigative body. Mr Speaker, the Committee went through the Bill and we were entirely satisfied that this is one step again that this country would take to deal with incidents of corruption. Mr Speaker, we have suggested some amendments to the Bill, and so we would need to come together to look at it and work on it and quickly pass it for the President to accent to it for it to become law so that people can be emboldened to appear before investigative bodies. Especially after the Office of the Special Prosecutor has been established, people can be emboldened to appear before such institutions and give evidence which might lead us to fight corruption without necessarily imperilling their lives and that is why I believe this is very important. Mr Speaker, I would want to urge the House that when we get to considering the Bill clause by clause, we must all show interest so that we can expedite action of same.
Hon Vice Chairman of the Committee?
Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to contribute to the Motion. Mr Speaker, the quality of evidence is what is at stake. For successful prosecution, one needs quality evidence and that is what the current occupant of the Office of the Special Prosecutor -- when he came before the Appointments Committee -- stressed and emphasised, that he would only move to prosecute if he had quality evidence. Mr Speaker, the on-going infrastructure to manage and control corruption would not succeed if we do not have evidence to prosecute people who are caught in the net. The net of public procurement, internal audit, whistle blower and all the other legislations that would be passed to support anti-corruption, without quality evidence we would not succeed. Mr Speaker, more particularly, witnesses who can give quality evidence must be protected because local and international crime networks are very sophisticated and dangerous. In this era, a small matter that would appear to be confined to Ghana may have been initiated in South America or the far East and the information would be flying back and forth and the person who might be in the position to expose that operation could be in danger of losing his or her life. Mr Speaker, it is so critical that in the current environment, we protect those who are willing to support the state and stop nation wreckers. Mr Speaker, against our Constitution, it is also extremely critical. In article 19, the provisions of the Constitution that a prosecutor must surmount in order to achieve success are so high. Mr Speaker, with your permission, I would want to refer to article 19 (2) (c), (e) and (g) of the Constitution. ‘' (2) A person charged with a criminal offence shall -- (c) be presumed to be innocent until he is proved or has pleaded guilty; (e) be given adequate time and facilities for the preparation of his defence; (g) be afforded facilities to examine, in person or by his lawyer, the witnesses called by the prosecution before the court, …'' Mr Speaker, article 19(10) is more crucial and with your permission, I beg to quote: ‘'No person who is tried for a criminal offence shall be compelled to give evidence at the trial''. Which means the burden of proving any crime rests squarely on the prosecution and the prosecution must deliver with the quality of evidence from a witness who is prepared to provide that assistance -- who must be protected.
Mr Speaker, thank you very much for the opportunity to contribute to the debate on the Motion for the Second Reading of the Witness Protection Bill, 2017. Mr Speaker, there is no doubt that as a country that seeks to advance the rule of law, we need to have the full complement of institutional architecture and systems in place that would enable the advancement of the rule of law. Prosecution, and given the high standards that our Constitution, like most constitutions in the world have set for convictions, would require that we normally have witnesses. As already indicated by other contributors, the quality of the witness and the evidence is very important. And so it goes without saying that we need to have a system in place for the protection of our witnesses; which makes them comfortable and confident to be able to come forward and give evidence? Mr Speaker, we are coming from a deficit situation, where the populace has very little confidence in our institutions. If a person should ask many people in the streets the level of confidence they have in the law enforcement agencies, one would find out that it is not high at all. People fear to even report crimes because they are afraid that subsequently, the criminals would go after them; that somebody within the law enforcement agencies would provide information about them and they would get hurt by the criminals. And so, there is a deficit of confidence in our law enforcement institutions. And so, we must be seen putting in place the mechanisms that would build that confidence for people to voluntarily become party to the fight against crime and the enforcement of law through such mechanisms as having a Witness Protection legislation, institutions and systems in place. Mr Speaker, we need to be careful when we are establishing institutions. I have always said in this House that we must always be mindful of the financial implications of the institutions that we establish. Have we analysed the situation to determine whether or not, we really have the capacity to establish and effectively maintain a system like this? This is because, when we are debating, it is important that the Hon Ministers who bring out such proposals also give some indications that they have done financial analyses of institutions that they require us to establish, and systems that we are going to establish, so that we are guided by the financial implications of what we legislate. And so, whiles I support in principle the establishment of a witness protection programme, I would also require that during the course of debate, the Attorney- General's Department and the Minister for Justice is able to feed us with some indications regarding the financial enormity of the engagement that we are about to be involve in and how we would actually be able to do so. Mr Speaker, this is because, the other thing is not to continue to multiply institutions that are dysfunctional and would further erode public confidence in institutions. We establish the institution, we do not finance them and they become dysfunctional and the public loses confidence. And once the confidence in the rule of law and its institutions wanes, then we are descending into anarchy and a chaotic situation. Mr Speaker, and so in principle, I support the proposal, except to say that when we embark on these journeys, let us be calculated, measured and let us really commit to providing the resources to ensure that they actually function. Mr Speaker, on that note, I urge Hon Colleagues to support the Motion.
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to add my voice to the debate on the floor of the House. Mr Speaker, going through our rules, I note that we are really on course and we are acting in accord with Standing Order 127, which provides for a full debate to enable the House go through the next stage of consideration. And so this stage is very critical in the law making process so let me before my contribution commend your Committee for their industry, having gone through the Bill and having proposed some amendments. I am sure that when we get there, we would all benefit from their inputs. Mr Speaker, but the gravamen of this Bill as stated per paragraph 5.0 of page 2 of the Report provides, and I beg to quote: “The purpose of the Bill is to establish a Witness Protection Agency to administer a witness protection programme. The implementation of the programme by the Agency would protect witnesses, experts and their relatives
just as the State needs to be protected, I believe that citizens also need some protection. This law is talking about the protection of prosecution witnesses. What about situations where accused persons may also need to subpoena some witnesses to testify for them? It would be that because these people are public officials or they are in the Civil Service or they occupy some office, out of fear that maybe they may be harassed, they would also not come and do the needful to serve the interest of the accused person. My Hon learned Friend has quoted copiously the provisions of article 19; what is good for the goose is good for the gander. I am sure when we get there, we would have a better discussion on this matter. Mr Speaker, again, I believe that the learned Attorney-General and Minister for Justice is addressing the problem piecemeal. This Bill is looking at our criminal jurisprudence; what about our civil jurisprudence? There may come a time that the State in a civil trial may need some witnesses to testify on behalf of the State. It would not be a criminal trial; it would be a civil trial. These individuals would need protection. So I believe that if the focus had been well expanded and other matters well looked into --
Hon Member, you would hold on. Hon Available Leader?
Mr Speaker, I have risen reluctantly because the Hon Member started on a very good note but he strayed. This House has no speculative jurisdiction. So when it becomes necessary for us to do a Bill to protect witnesses in civil matters, we would act in accordance with the exigencies of the time. Mr Speaker, secondly, this Bill is talking about prosecution witnesses and not accused persons subpoenaing public officers. It is also talking to personal attacks or threats of personal attacks on their lives and liberty. This is what the Bill is doing, so I would urge Mr Speaker to invite the Hon Member to stay on course.
Hon Member, you would conclude.
Mr Speaker, with the greatest respect, in concluding my debate, may I with your leave quote in full Standing Order 127 (1) of our rules? It says: “On a motion being made that a Bill be now read a Second Time, a full debate shall arise on the principle of the Bill on the basis of the explanatory memorandum and the report from the Committee.” Mr Speaker, an Hon Member on his feet debating has the right to disagree and make proposals at this stage. All I am saying --
Hon Member, I did not rule you out. You would please proceed.
Mr Speaker, I am grateful you ruled the Hon Available Leader out. [Laughter.] Mr Speaker, so my point is that, in civil trials, witnesses for the State also need some protection. So I am looking at a future where a law would consider the protection of witnesses in a civil trial because it is as relevant and important as we are today considering the protection of prosecution witnesses. If we address one side of the matter and leave the other, it would appear as if we are dealing with the matter in a piecemeal which should not be the case. Mr Speaker, on that note, I would thank you for that favour. I believe that we would all launch into full gear as we move to the next stages in making sure that this Bill becomes law and Mr President gives it a final assent.
Hon Members, I would suspend Sitting for ten minutes. Please do not go away. 1.50 p.m. -- Sitting suspended. 2.02 p.m. -- Sitting resumed.
Hon Majority Leader, would you want to take part in this debate? [Interruption.]He finished and I was asking whether you would want to take part in this debate.
Mr Speaker, I am not really minded, except if you would want to encourage me.
I do not intend to encourage you. I wanted to call the last one here and give the last to the Hon Deputy Attorney-General and Deputy Minister for Justice. [Laughter.] Where is the Hon Deputy Minister? Yes, Hon Member for Bolgatanga East.
I thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to contribute to the Motion for the adoption of the Report of your Committee and for the Second Reading of the Witness Protection Bill, 2017. Mr Speaker, the Report of your Committee ably articulates the central objective of this Bill, which is that, effective witness protection is instrumental to the fight against crime and impunity. So there is no gainsaying that this piece of legislation is necessary in order to fill a void that has existed for a very long time where we do not have an effective programme for the protection of witnesses especially for the prosecution. Mr Speaker, but there are a number of issues that have been raised by the Report and one is the role of the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice in witness, protection programmes. During the course of your Committee's deliberations, I was the lone voice, sometimes ably supported by the Hon Deputy Attorney-General and Deputy Minister for Justice when he was present, that urged that we should have a key role for the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice in this programme. Mr Speaker, the reason I took that position, a position that I intend to maintain till this Bill is passed by this House is simply because, in terms of article 88 of the Constitution, the Attorney- General and Minister for Justice is vested with all prosecutorial powers so that when we are dealing with witnesses who require protection, they are the witnesses of the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice. So, the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice must have a key role in decision making with respect to which witness is admitted to the programme, the level of protection to be accorded and so on. Mr Speaker, so much as we are keenly aware of the way institutions function in this country and the fact that an Attorney- General and Minister for Justice may decide to be so overbearing so that the programme does not function effectively, we need to be careful that we do not take a lot of statutory power away from the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice in our attempt to protect witnesses. Mr Speaker, there is also another issue that was raised by the Hon Member for Bawku Central, Hon Mahama Ayariga, and I believe it is also a very important point which is that, there is no need for the creation of new institutions when there is no real commitment to resource them in such a way that they would function effectively. There is no need for us to create a Witness Protection Agency that is full blown, has a Board, a Chief Executive Officer and Staff, if we do not commit ourselves as a nation to giving the Agency sufficient resources in order to function. Mr Speaker, again, in your Committee, I was of the view that we should create this as a division of the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Department to be managed by staff of the Department and then we can have a situation in which the resources transferred to that Department could be utilised in order to effectively run the programme. But of course, again, I was in the minority in that respect. Lastly, Mr Speaker --
Hon Member, hold on. Having regards to the state of Business of the House, I direct that the House Sits outside the regular Sitting hours. Please, continue.
I thank you, Mr Speaker. My last observation on this matter is that, I have done a bit of review of witness protection programmes in other jurisdictions including Canada, South Africa and Kenya. In the enactment of their laws, they preceded everything by an empirical study of the void that had been created by the absence of the programme and how that had affected the effectiveness of prosecution especially in situations where victims are being intimidated or threatened by criminal gangs and that was supposed to judge the effectiveness of the programme after the enactment. So we could have a study before the enactment, empirically detailing how the absence of the Witness Protection Programme has affected prosecutions and then a study that would be conducted post-enactment in order to determine how the enactment of the Witness Protection Act has affected the effectiveness of prosecutions. I believe that is where we have failed in this, but I believe that in the enactment of this law, we should put in a provision that deals with monitoring and evaluation of the programme so that at least, we could tell how effective it would be in sustaining prosecutions, especially, in the areas of illicit drug trafficking, money laundering and organised crimes. With these few words Mr Speaker, I wish to support the adoption of your Committee's Report and the Second Reading of the Bill on the Witness Protection Programme. I thank you, Mr Speaker.
I thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to contribute to the Report of the Committee on the Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, in support of the Motion ably moved by the Hon Deputy Attorney- General and Deputy Minister for Justice. Mr Speaker, in doing so, I would wish to state that clearly, the importance of this Witness Protection Bill, 2017 cannot be overemphasised. Indeed, an Hon Member after an Hon Member before this House have clearly indicated the importance of this Bill. We have been told by the Report that the passage of this Bill in itself would enable Ghana meet its international obligations under the United Nations Convention against Corruption. We have also been told that the passage of this Bill would aid in providing the quality of witnesses that are required in the prosecution of offences in this country as same would enable witnesses who otherwise would have been reluctant in providing the witness that we need in prosecuting offences to come forward as there would be ample protection for them. Mr Speaker, indeed, going through the Bill, I share the sentiments that have been expressed by my Hon Friends on the other
Hon Deputy Attorney-General and Deputy Minister for Justice, you may conclude the debate. Deputy Attorney-General and Deputy Minister for Justice (Mr Joseph Dindiok Kpemka): I thank you very much, Mr Speaker. First of all, let me commend Hon Members for the contributions made and for their unanimity in urging the House to approve of this Bill. Mr Speaker, article 32 of the Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) requires a Member State to take appropriate measures within its means to provide effective protection from potential retaliation or intimidation of witnesses and experts who give testimonies on behalf of nations. The Convention requires protection to be given to the relatives of witnesses and other persons who are close to the witnesses or their relatives. In addition, article 65 of UNCAC requires a State Party to take measures to ensure the implementation of its obligations under the Convention. The measures include the establishment of a Witness Protection Programme adminis- tered by the Hon Attorney-General. Presently, Ghana has not enacted legislation to this effect. Mr Speaker, Ghana hosted a Witness Protection Seminar on 3rd and 4th July, 2014. The Seminar sought to build the capacities of Hon Attorneys-General and Ministers for Justice from selected countries and relevant stakeholders in the area of witness protection through the sharing of information on best practices and experiences by practitioners at the International Criminal Court and Ministers for Justice of the various participating countries. At the Seminar, it emerged that only a few countries have witness protection programmes. These countries include Canada, Ireland, Hong Kong, Sweden, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the United States of America (USA) and Ukraine. Participating countries were urged to adopt a formalised witness protection regime with dedicated units for witness protection. Representatives of participating countries were urged to support witness protection programmes by legislation, and to effectively implement same. The enactment of the Witness Protection Bill, 2017 is therefore a timely one, in that it would provide measures under which witness protection may be offered to persons who require the protection. Mr Speaker, the Bill establishes a Witness Protection Agency that has the core object to provide the framework and procedures for giving special protection to persons who face the risk of harm due to their co-operation with the prosecution or other law enforcement agencies. The Bill takes cognisance of the fact that funding is required for the protection of witnesses. To that end, the Bill establishes a Victims Compensation Fund. The Fund is to provide financial resources to the Agency for the purposes of providing protection to victims, witnesses and related persons who are exposed to the risk of harm or retaliation due to their co-operation with law enforcement agencies in the course of criminal investigations or prosecutions. The Bill provides for the establishment and maintenance of a Witness Protection Programme as part of the functions of the Agency. The Hon Attorney-General and Minister for Justice is responsible for taking the necessary steps to provide for the safety and welfare of a witness. The Attorney-General and Minister for Justice is solely responsible for deciding whether to include a witness in the Witness Protection Programme. The witness must however, agree to be included in the Programme and must sign a Memorandum of Understanding, which sets out the basis for the inclusion of a participant in the programme. In cases where a witness is not offered protection under the programme, a written inclusion in the programme should be made to the Hon Attorney-General and Minister for Justice. The Bill further empowers the High Court to conduct proceedings in private where a public hearing is likely to expose a witness to danger. In addition, it is considered that the defence of the country, public safety, public order and public morality in the
Hon Majority Leader, can we take item numbered 6?
Mr Speaker, I believe we could take just that one, and probably that would be sufficient for the day.
Hon Deputy Minister, move the Motion listed as number 6 on the Order Paper.
BILLS -- SECOND READING
Mr Speaker, I beg to support the Motion ably moved by the Hon Deputy Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, that the Legal Aid Commission Bill, 2017, be now read a Second time. In doing so I would like to present the Committee's Report and seek your indulgence to highlight certain portions of the Report. Introduction The Legal Aid Commission Bill, 2017 was laid in Parliament on Friday, 15th December, 2017, by the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Hon Gloria Akuffo, for passage in accordance with article 106 of the Constitution. Pursuant to Order 179 of the Standing Orders of the House, the Bill was referred to the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliament Affairs by the Speaker for consideration and report. Deliberations The Committee met with the Attorney- General and Minister for Justice, Miss Gloria Akuffo, to consider the Bill. In attendance were officials of the office of the Attorney-General and Ministry of Justice and the Legal Aid Scheme to assist in the deliberations. The Committee is profoundly grateful to the Hon Attorney-General and Minister for Justice and the officials for attending upon the Committee and assisting in its deliberations. Reference Documents The Committee referred to the following documents during its deliberations: i.The 1992 Constitution; ii.The Standing Orders of Parliament; iii.The Legal Aid Scheme Act, 1997 (Act 542); and iv.The President's White Paper on the Report of the Constitution Review Commission of Inquiry, 2012. Background Information Prior to the promulgation of the 1992 Constitution, legal aid in Ghana was provided within the framework of the Legal Aid Scheme Law, 1987. The legal regime was revised in 1997 through the passage of the Legal Aid Scheme Act, 1997 (Act 542) to bring the law into conformity with the provisions of the 1992 Constitution. Act 542 was passed pursuant to article 294 of the 1992 Constitution which provides as follows: “294 (1) For the purposes of enforcing any provision of this Constitution, a person is entitled to legal aid in connection with any proceedings relating to this Constitution if he has reasonable grounds for taking, defending, prosecuting or being a party to the proceedings. (2)Subject to clause (1) of this article, Parliament shall, by or under an Act of Parliament, regulate the grant of legal aid. (3)Without prejudice, clause (2) of this article, Parliament may, under that clause provide for the granting of legal aid in such matters other than those referred to in clause (1) of this article as may be prescribed by or under that Act.” However, since the passage of Act 542 over the past two decades ago, several changes have taken place in the area of access to justice and international legal aid practice. These changes have caused the need for institutional reforms and funding arrangements for legal aid institutions which have not been provided for under the existing law. The need for legislative reforms have also been acknowledged in the President's White Paper on the Report of the Constitution Review Commission of Enquiry published in June, 2012. These matters necessitated the review of the existing law to reflect current international best practices on the subject, and to engender the necessary improvements in the delivery of legal aid services in the country. Hence, the laying in Parliament of the Legal Aid Commission Bill, 2017 for its passage pursuant to the provisions of the 1992 Constitution. Purpose of the Bill The purpose of the Bill is to repeal the Legal Aid Scheme Act, 1997 (Act 542) and “to establish the Legal Aid Commission to provide legal aid and other legal services to certain category of individuals in Ghana. Summary of Key Provisions The Bill contains sixty-one provisions and has been arranged as follows: Clause 1 of the Bill seeks to establish a Legal Aid Commission to replace the existing Legal Aid Scheme. This is followed by provisions for the governance of the Commission (Clauses 2 to 14). Provisions regarding administration of the Commission are provided for under Clauses 15 to 25. Key provisions include the appointment of an Executive Director and other staff of the Commission, and the establishment of regional and district offices of the Commission. Financial arrangements for the Commission have been provided under Clauses 26 to 37 of the Bill. Among the key provisions are those relating to the
Mr Speaker, a lot has been said about this Bill. I see the Bill as a recognition by the State, that justice should not be denied the people. If a person is incapable of accessing justice by reason of lack of funds, the State must intervene and same for that person. In fact, justice can be served. Mr Speaker, the Legal Aid Commission has been available for some time but it has been dogged with problems of staffing. This Bill intends to make it possible for para-legals or even non-legals to offer some form of legal service in the form of legal aid to persons who might require their services. They would be taken through training and certified so that they can offer that service to people who will need them. Mr Speaker, we have also said that this Bill --
Hon Ranking Member, I have just scanned through the Report. Is it the proposal that non-lawyers will be engaged to offer legal services? Is that the proposal contained in this Bill?
Mr Speaker, it is para- legals. That is how --
What is the meaning of para-legals under the legal profession?
Mr Speaker, they have been defined in the Bill. It simply means that a person who goes through training, not necessarily someone who has done law and has been called to the Bar, and has been given the requisite skills to take part in Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), for instance, and helps to resolve disputes which otherwise would end up in court. Where those people would have had to pay money, the Legal Aid Commission can then offer that advice on a reasonable basis. Mr Speaker, so it is a very important Bill. I see it as one of the State's commitments to ensure that anybody entitled to justice would be served, and the State must be prepared to make resources available to ensure that people are not denied justice just by the reason or the fact that they cannot afford lawyers in court. Mr Speaker, so I would urge my Hon Colleagues that when we get to the Consideration Stage, we would give attention so that it could be passed into law. Mr Speaker, thank you.
Hon K. T. Hammond, I recognise you but I want to share a true situation. There was a lay magistrate who enrolled to study law and after his first lessons in contract law, he professed that “ya bo nkorofo aboro oo” to wit we have hurt people. [Laughter] This was because after he had learnt law, he realised that he had really bastardised the law with the judgments that he had given and people had been served with injustice. So probably, we should look at that again. Yes, Hon K. T. Hammond?
Mr Speaker, thank you. Mr Speaker, a subject like the provision of legal aid to members of the society and also to aid the administration of justice in the country should be a matter that should excite everybody, not only those who are centrally concerned with it, but with the society as a whole. It is quite interesting. I had been practising in a certain jurisdiction in the role of legal aid in that particular ambiance -- I recall an occasion when I opened my mail and looked at my cheque and it was quite a lot of money in terms of pounds sterling and it came from legal aid. Mr Speaker, my practice was essentially funded by public legal aid. All that was done was that the solicitors would instruct counsel and the first thing to be done was to advise on the merit and to indicate whether it was fit for legal aid but almost invariably, there had to be merit in the case. We would then indicate, and on the basis of the advice provided, I ask the solicitors or those instructing me to apply to the Legal Aid Board, and as a matter of urgency, the certificates came in and we did the work. We had our pockets full and the client was also fairly satisfied of the best that we could offer. Mr Speaker, I just returned from England and I have seen that that jurisdiction is now consciously cutting back on legal aid. Indeed, they have destroyed the junior Bar as well as the middle Bar. There is no funding for legal aid in that country. The Lord Chancellor and Minister for Justice has taken conscious decisions, for whatever reasons, to completely destroy the system. I was pleasantly surprised when I saw that Ghana is going contrary to what is pertaining in a civilised England, which is the citadel of common law and a rich country. But we have come up with something like this to advance the course of justice. I am particularly interested. For this reason alone, I would say kudos to those who brought this Bill. Mr Speaker, what is interesting is that I looked through the Bill and under the Funding of the Commission -- Ultimately, legal aid is about funding but if what it intends to do is to tax the very people who are going to be the beneficiaries of this as the basis for the Fund, then I get slightly apprehensive. If the Government actually intends to make these provisions, then I believe that there must be a conscious decision that Parliament must put a significant chunk of money to this. I could see Mr Speaker laughing because he is aware -- I do not know whether Mr Speaker ever had one certificate from legal aid in his practice? Mr Speaker, at the first brush I wondered if this was really a misnomer or it was really a change of name from the original Legal Aid Fund to a new one called the Legal Aid Commission -- if that was all there is to it --This is because there has not been much of a legal aid provision in this country and if we are consciously going to make provision for that now, then I would ask that moneys must be approved by Parliament. Mr Speaker, there is the talk about investments also. When barristers and solicitors are waiting for their moneys, they cannot wait for the investment provision or the returns on the investment to pay the practitioners involved. This cannot be right. Mr Speaker, they also talked about contributions to be made by the applicants. Obviously, people are means- tested and if they qualify then that is it. But if we have to depend on the finances of these same individuals to finance the system, then it would collapse. By its very --
Hon Member, if they win an award by the court, then they should contribute a portion. For example, if Legal Aid assists someone to pursue a civil claim, then whatever award the person gets, the person could make a contribution to the Fund.
Mr Speaker, that is an entirely different ball game from what I perceive to be stated here. Obviously, it is implied in the provision of legal aid, that if at the other end of the day, a person wins a case and has his cost, there are two alternatives; he goes back to the Legal Aid Board and reimburse them or he does not go there at all. He could just rely on the cost structure that is awarded by the court for his cost duplication. Mr Speaker, I am happy with that one, where the applicant or beneficiaries would reimburse the system from the benefits or the cost that is awarded to them when they eventually win their cases in court. Mr Speaker, but to stipulate or warrant that the applicants would make initial contributions, in my opinion, this would make nonsense of the whole issue. Mr Speaker, because the provision of legal aid itself is that the applicants are impecunious and that is why they would have to pass the means test. If they pass it, then they are not asked to make any contributions. Mr Speaker, there is also the talk about gifts and donations. We must be careful about this -- [Interruption.] I consider this document to be a very serious one and so the context must be fairly serious. We cannot sensibly rely on gifts and donations as the basis for funding the Legal Aid Scheme. Which people are going to donate? Mr Speaker, I am not comfortable with the funding. Parliament must be invited to make a good contribution or place some money for the benefit of people who would obviously and ultimately benefit from this. More so, in the case of criminal jurisdiction, when we go to the courts, we would see that because of lack of funding, people would want to do the cases on their own. We have the concept of fair trial -- how could the ordinary individual go through the motions in court? In the end we see the judgments that are rendered. Mr Speaker, I invite Parliament to take this matter seriously, make the relevant amendment and make sure that if it is the wish of the State, of the Executive and of Parliament, a good amount of money should be placed in the kitty. Mr Speaker, they are now talking about forcing lawyers to do pro bono services. It is not for the Executive to dictate who should do pro bono services and who should not do it. Mr Speaker, I thank the Hon Leader so much. He corrected the point; that is right. The Hon Leader suggested that it is Parliament which makes all these. Of course, I accept that this was initiated by an institution, being the Executive, before it came to Parliament. So in my view, the criticism first goes to the Executive, but of course, Parliament has the authority to rectify that. I am asking Parliament to rectify this and not to compel lawyers to do pro bono services or not. Mr Speaker, the very spirit of the profession encourages barristers to do
All right, Hon Ahiafor?
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for giving me the opportunity to contribute to the Second Reading of the Legal Aid Commission Bill, 2017 and also urge the House to adopt your Committee's Report. Mr Speaker, article 14 of the 1992 Constitution is clear that anybody who is arrested, restricted or detained should be informed reasonably in a language he understands for the reason of the arrest and be given the chance to choose a lawyer of his own choice. Sometimes, we know legal services could be expensive and must not necessarily depend on one's economic status. If the Constitution guarantees that particular right but the right to a lawyer of one's choice must depend on one's economic status, the rights enshrined in the Constitution are actually not being guaranteed. Mr Speaker, if you look further, article 294 of the Constitution makes it mandatory that in issues relating to enforcement of the Constitution involving Ghanaians, they should be entitled to legal aid. Mr Speaker, we all know the condition of the Legal Aid Scheme. There is the need to restructure the Legal Aid Scheme, and that is exactly what this Bill seeks to do to restructure the Legal Aid Scheme into a Legal Aid Scheme Commission. Mr Speaker, if we talk about the number of lawyers that the Legal Aid Scheme has in the country, we all know it is nothing to write home about. The reason is that the condition of service of lawyers at the Legal Aid Scheme is not the best. Mr Speaker, the Bill also seeks to improve the condition of service for lawyers at the Legal Aid Scheme. I believe that if this Bill is passed into law and the conditions of service of lawyers are improved, it would attract a lot of lawyers and the Legal Aid Commission would be able to provide legal services to Ghanaians. Mr Speaker, we have Legal Aid Scheme offices in some regions but they do not even have a single lawyer in that particular region to be responsible for providing legal aid services, because the conditions of service for lawyers in the Legal Aid Scheme is not attractive enough to young lawyers to join the Legal Aid Scheme. So with this particular Bill aiming at improving the conditions of service of lawyers, I would urge the House to pass this particular Bill so that the Legal Aid Commission would be made attractive for lawyers and we would have a lot of lawyers providing legal aid services. Mr Speaker, let me also use the opportunity to commend the Committee that the proposal for the licence of lawyers should be conditioned on the performance of pro bono legal services which has been rejected by the Committee. What it would mean is that if that had not been rejected by the Committee, lawyers, in order to get their licences, must perform mandatory legal services. If they say, for one to renew his licence, he would have to perform mandatory legal services, it is not all lawyers who are practising lawyers or who go to court which would enable them to easily perform legal aid services. There are lawyers working in financial institutions who would need the licence not necessarily to go to court, but to use the licence to perform other services such that it would be difficult to expect those lawyers to perform pro bono legal services to enable them renew their licences.
Hon Member, is pro bono service limited to litigation or advocacy? They could write opinion for people who have been cheated by the banks, for example, who have made us to pay multiple interest on simple interest loans and so on. That would also be pro bono services.
Mr Speaker, we know the nature of legal aid services which are provided. We know in this particular country, anybody who is confronted with a legal problem would not definitely go in for a lawyer serving in a bank; they would definitely go to the practising lawyers. That is where the difficulty would lie in getting those who are not mainstream to provide those services to satisfy the condition to renew their licences. That really is the difficulty that I am talking about. This is because it would be very difficult for somebody to have a legal problem and instead of going in for a lawyer in the mainstream, he would be looking at a financial institution or elsewhere that the lawyer should rather provide the services. The person would straightforward go to a practising lawyer for that particular help. Mr Speaker, the second aspect is that we do not have any compulsory services in this country. Therefore, if the condition for a lawyer renewing his licence is to perform pro bono legal services, it would be discriminatory. So I would therefore commend the Committee for taking a bold decision to reject that particular provision. Mr Speaker, I am inclined to say that, if your Committee's Report is adopted and the Legal Aid Commission Bill is passed into law, it would go a long way to promote the provision of legal aid services in Ghana, and the life of Ghanaians would be improved. Mr Speaker, there are so many people who might be languishing in jail for an offence that they have not committed, simply because they do not have the opportunity to go for a kind of lawyer that would be able to defend them. Mr Speaker, I would therefore recommend and urge the House to pass the Legal Aid Commission Bill into law.
Hon Colleague members of the Bar Association, does the Bar not have a resolution about pro bono services? If I recall correctly, there was a resolution that every member must perform some pro bono service in the course of the year, so why are we rejecting it in the law?
Mr Speaker, respectfully, I think that the reason why the Committee was of the view that, that provision must not find expression in the Legal Aid Commission Bill is that there is a separate institution that deals with matters relating to lawyers, which is the General Legal Council. So, the Committee was of the view that if it is necessary to make a provision for compulsory rendering of legal services, that provision must find expression in the Legal Profession Act, but not this particular Bill. That explains the reason why the Committee was of the view that that provision must be deleted or expunged.
When it is taken out, it means that there is no provision on pro bono services at all.
This is a novel provision in the Bill; the promoters of the Bill wanted to introduce or incorporate in this particular Bill. We felt it would be inappropriate to incorporate the provision in this particular Bill, because this Bill, strictly speaking, deals with legal aid services and not pro bono services. So that if we want to talk about pro bono services, then we should be dealing with the General Legal Council and not this institution. But Mr Speaker, if it is pro bono, why should we make it compulsory? From the bottom of a lawyer's heart, if he or she wants to render, he or she could do so, but why should we make it compulsory?
Compulsory donation as in tithes -- [Laughter]
Mr Speaker, I have taken notice of that bold Statement from the Committee, that is bullet 7.5; “The Committee further noted with concern that provision has been made in the Bill to require lawyers to perform pro bono services as a condition of their solicitors license. This proposal was strongly rejected by the Committee”. Mr Speaker, the Committee can only recommend to plenary to reject it. It does not lie with the Committee to outrightly say that they are rejecting it, as if they are doing so for and on behalf of the House; they cannot. The remit of the Committee does not entitle them to do that. They cannot do that. So that is wrong in the first place. Curiously, it does not even feature in their own proposed amendments and recommendations, as if they have expunged it on their own volition. They have no such authority. No committee has such authority. They can only make a recommendation to plenary that, “In view of “a”, “b”, or “c”, we recommend to you to, maybe, reject it”. They cannot say that the Committee strongly rejects it. They have no legs in this matter to stand on. Mr Speaker, the former Deputy Attorney-General and Deputy Minister for Justice, Dr Dominic Ayine, raised an issue when we were considering the Witness Protection Bill, 2017. I believe it should have relevance with respect to the Legal Aid Commission Bill as well. Mr Speaker, he related to the memorandum and said to us that we should find a way to measure the effectiveness of a proposed Bill. Mr Speaker, the Constitution provides in article 106 (2) that the memorandum should capture what we wanted to come out with. Article 106 (2)(a) provides, in particular; “No bill, other than such a bill! as is referred to in paragraph (a) of article 108 of this Constitution, shall be introduced in Parliament unless -- (a) it is accompanied by an explanatory memorandum setting out in detail the policy and principles of the bill, the defects of the existing law…” In this case, there is no existing law -- that is in respect of the Witness Protection Law -- the defects or the mischief it seeks to cure, the remedies proposed to deal with those defects and the necessity for its introduction. Perhaps he was talking to the fact that it was not plain enough in the memorandum. I think that many Bills that come before us do not go into detail what mischief exists that is intended to be cured by the Bill. Mr Speaker, as for the effectiveness or otherwise of the Bill, if the statement is made boldly, that is, the mischief is stated boldly in the memorandum, then in the rolling out of the Act -- the implementation of the Act -- we would then be able to assure ourselves that the Act that we have passed deals decisively with a deficit in governance. That to me appears to be missing in most of the Bills that come before us. Mr Speaker, on the issue of the non- availability of funding, there are two legs. I believe in one breath people were talking about the sustainability of the funding, and in this case, the Legal Aid. Even the issue relating to rendering pro bono services relates to sustainability of the funding. That is why they are raising that matter. Somebody just whispered into my ears whether it would not be possible, as we did for the Special Prosecutor's Office Act to perhaps have a percentage of what is obtained from confiscated assets, packed into funding the legal aid programme. Perhaps when we come to the Consideration Stage, we may have to attend to that. Mr Speaker, the Public Financial Management Act (PFMA) requires of us to interrogate the effect on the national purse, any Act that we pass. What is the effect of a Bill on the national purse? And how do we adequately deal with providing funding for what the Bill entails? I believe ever since the passage of the PFMA, we have not really activated that provision, so we do not deal with what the Bill entails. Going forward, what are the anticipations? And if we come to the realisation, then we would be able to deal with that. The sources of funding; how
Hon Minority Leader? 3. 02 p. m.
Mr Speaker, if you are kind enough, I would keep my remarks as short as an old woman's dance. Mr Speaker, just to come on Legal Aid Board being transformed into a Legal Aid Commission, I believe we all should support it. Mr Speaker, the House must look at the financing of legal aid in the country. I believe my uncle and a brother who had worked there -- a number of times I had come across him together with the past Executive Secretary-- have bemoaned the practice where adequacy and availability of funds remain the headache of getting the Legal Aid Board as it existed and as a Commission to function more effectively and to serve indigent persons to be able to access justice. Mr Speaker, you know a good lawyer, the State versus the individual places an onerous burden on that individual to fight the State. It is not for nothing that in criminal jurisprudence, we emphasise that you must prove beyond reasonable doubt -- not even a shadow of doubt. This is because we expect that the accused person— Mr Speaker, I wish I had time to share my own experience. My Ga is not too good so, along the line, the Hon Moses may have to help me. When I started practice, I went to the court at the Ga-Mantse Palace, around North Kaneshie. As a young Lawyer, I used to be very enthusiastic and anytime I was struck with poverty and survival, I would look for some case in order to have some bread to start the day. So, it was very close to my house. Mr Speaker, one day as I moved towards the court, there was an accused person on bail, I walked to the sister, not the accused person, in my rush to negotiate that I could work for him as a lawyer to get some bread. Mr Speaker, when I used the word—
Your Hon Colleagues are saying something.
Mr Speaker, when I used the word -- the Gas would help you. As I walked in, the accused person was brought to the dock, I had negotiated with the sister and we had agreed that I would get some “bread” if I secured bail for him. The accused person was Ga. Mr Speaker, my Ga is “suspect” or probably, non-existing; I do not have it at all. As I remembered, the accused person was asked, oyeo foo aloo oyeo ben? I hope someone corrects me. Mr Speaker, before I rose, the accused person had pleaded guilty. --[Laughter.]-- This is because he certainly did understand the remit of the matter. So Mr Speaker, even in my rush, my wig fell off. So the Judge, in some ecstasy said, ‘‘Counsel, you know the law on the matter, I am proceeding to convict and to pass sentence”. I had to ran in for mitigating sentences. Mr Speaker, that explains why we must adequately resource the Legal Aid Commission to be able to support those who otherwise would not be able to access remedies in court. Mr Speaker, as a country, we should never lose sight of the fact that when we are measuring the performance of the country on governance, respect for fundamental human rights, the right of the accused person to a fair trial, the right— Mr Speaker, it is embedded in the Constitution that the accused person shall have a right to counsel. So we should even take this more as a constitutional burden. I hope that I could quote the exact provision of the Constitution. I believe it is around article 14 or 21. Why, constitutionally, does it say that the accused person should not even be interrogated or interviewed without a counsel? That makes the work of the Legal Aid Commission for indigent persons and for poor persons even much more imperative. Mr Speaker, maybe, as a country and as a House, we could decide 0.5 per cent of Annual Budget Funding Amount (ABFA) could go to governance. We could because the Attorney-General's office suffers from inadequacy of financing. This 0.5 per cent, Mr Speaker, we can even say 1.0 per cent generally for governance, and then dedicate a portion of it to the Legal Aid Commission. Mr Speaker, to rely everyday on the Minister for Finance, his gesture, the availability of financing, we would be confronted again with the same Legal Aid Commission which has no teeth. It cannot bite; it would be a barking dog every day. They would be there, but they cannot— Mr Speaker, even to run the offices— I hope I could share this. When I was the Minister for Communications, one day I visited the Registrar-General's Depart- ment, and when I got back, I had to use other ways to strengthen the capacity of the secretariat. So Mr Speaker, let us agree as a House that maybe, we dedicate 0.5 per cent; that is enormous. If they have GH¢300 million every year or it is more than GH¢600 million and they do 0.5 per cent, for our purposes, for governance, then 0.25 per cent of it could go to the Legal Aid Commission; and the other 0.25 per cent, we could dedicate it to the Attorney- General and Minister for Justice. This is because they too suffer. Mr Speaker, finally, conditions of services for lawyers and the Legal Aid Commission. Even as we speak today, there is a total confusion about the status of the lawyers at the Attorney-General's Department. We need to work at it and we need to improve their conditions because they do not get attracted to the public service. That is why I am particularly excited about what has been proposed for the Executive Secretary. Mr Speaker, but in conclusion, what the Hon Majority Leader said, pro bono services, I am sure your understanding is that lawyers must give back to society the training they get. To that extent, lawyers must be obliged by law to render pro bono services. If your problem is that it should be the General Legal Council which makes it part of the provision, we are all in tandem with the Hon Chairman's reasoning. But to say that, lawyers must give back to society
Hon Majority Leader, I intend to bring proceedings to a close unless there is any other suggestion to the contrary.
Mr Speaker, I believe we have done quite well, it is past 3.00 o'clock. Even though there are some other items that we have not been able to deal with, I believe we could take them tomorrow. So, Mr Speaker, you may adjourn the House until 10.00 a. m. tomorrow in the forenoon.