MR FIRST DEPUTY SPEAKER
VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS AND THE OFFICIAL REPORT
Hon Members, item numbered 2 -- correction of the Votes and Proceedings of Wednesday, 31st January, 2018.
[No correction was made to the Votes and Proceedings of Wednesday, 31st January, 2018.]
[No correction was made to the Official Report of Wednesday, 6 th December, 2017.]
Item number 3 -- Questions.
Mr Speaker, the first Question is to be asked of the Hon Minister for Energy. Mr Speaker, respectfully, I would want to indulge your goodself and the Minority that the Hon Minister is currently in a meeting with the President and has sent the Hon Deputy Minister to answer the Questions due to the relevance he places on the work of Parliament. So, I would ask leave of you, Mr Speaker, so that the Hon Deputy Minister could answer the Questions on behalf of the Hon Minister.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Deputy Majority Leader has made an application for the Hon Deputy Minister to stand in the stead of the Hon Minister who is in a meeting with the President. Mr Speaker, I know the President very well and I know he is encouraging Hon Ministers to show respect to Parliament. So, for him to keep the Hon Minister in a meeting when the Hon Minister is supposed to appear before Parliament -- Maybe, the Hon Deputy Majority Leader's reason is some other -- Her application, we will not -- Mr Speaker, on a more serious note, Hon Ministers must endeavour to appear before Parliament. Mr Speaker, yourself, you were in that— All right, let me end it there because my mother says, ‘‘back door matters are not brought up publicly.” Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Very well. Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, for the records, the Hon Minister is in a meeting and the meeting is at the instance of the President. Indeed, it is the Economic Management Team's meeting that is holding and that is why the Hon Deputy Minister is— But Mr Speaker, I tell my Hon Colleague, the Hon Minority Leader, that intuitively, his own response is to say no to everything. He says ‘‘he is not in any meeting with the President'', and afterwards, he says, ‘‘I am going to call the President to verify''. So, he begins on a note of rejection and then he wants an affirmation of that rejection. Mr Speaker, having said so and I think he sat down on the note that there is no objection to the Hon Deputy Minister responding to the Questions. So, you may allow the Hon Deputy Minister to respond to the Questions. I thank you.
Very well. Leave is granted. The Hon Deputy Minister for Energy may take the seat and then I invite the Hon Member for Daboya/ Mankarigu, Hon Shaibu Mahama, to ask his Question.
ORAL ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS
MINISTRY OF ENERGY
The Ministry is currently working in five (5) communities in the Daboya/Mankarigu Constituency under the SHEP-4. These are Mankarigu, Lukulla, Yagbon, Bugsa and Mempeasem. High Voltage (HV) and Low Voltage (LV) poles have been sent to all the communities. These poles have been planted and dressed in all the communities except High Volta (HV) poles planting at Bugsa. Stringing of HV network has commenced at Mankarigu and Low Volta (LV) stringing has also commenced in all the communities except at Bugsa. The delays associated with the completion of works are due to shortage of some electrical materials. The Ministry is in the process of procuring these materials to allow for the completion of works by the end of third quarter, 2018.
Mr Speaker, I note from the Answer given by the Hon Deputy Minister that the third quarter is the expected completion time for the project. I am aware that work stalled since the last quarter of 2016. And between the last quarter of 2016 and the third quarter of 2018, it is about a year and a half. I note also that there is a period up to the 2018 he is talking about. May I know from the Hon Deputy Minister if this work could be done before the 2018 third quarter deadline that he has given? Thank you.
Hon Deputy Minister?
Mr Speaker, I do not think my Hon Colleague listened to the Answer very well. This is because the last sentence actually did say that we hope very much to complete the work by the third quarter of 2018. And that is exactly what we have —
Yes, he repeated that at the beginning. But he is saying that, to his knowledge, it stalled for nearly two years so why should he believe you.
Mr Speaker, I started by giving the date when the work commenced. I stated for the records that December 29, 2015, was when the contract was awarded.
Yes, Hon Member?
Mr Speaker, I am most grateful for the intervention. My last question is actually an appeal. With your permission, paragraph 2 of the Answer: “High Voltage (HV) and Low Voltage poles have been sent to all the communities. These poles have been planted and dressed in all the communities except HV poles planting at Bugsa.” I know that the materials he is talking about have been segregated; poles and others. Is it possible that you would continue with the pole planting at Bugsa while waiting for the rest? Thank you.
Mr Speaker, we have some protracted problems at Mankarigu. The HV poles that were meant for Bugsa were inadvertently sent to Mankarigu. Unfortunately, the good people of Mankarigu have decided to hold onto the HV poles, which were not really meant for them. Their argument is that they are the biggest town and they should benefit first before Bugsa. So, right now, the Ministry is in talks with the good people of the Mankarigu/Daboya Constituency to release the HV poles for us to embark on the pole planting. That is the situation now.
Would the Hon Member assist the Ministry to retrieve the poles so that the work could continue?
Very well, Mr Speaker.
Very well, Hon Deputy Minister, we are done with Question 263. The next Question, numbered 274 stands in the name of the Hon Member for Central Tongu, Mr Alexander Roosevelt Hottordze. Plans to rehabilitate poles, lines and transformers of ECG in Adidome, Mafi- Kumase, etc. Q. 274. Mr Alexander Roosevelt Hottordze asked the Minister for Energy what plans the Ministry had to rehabilitate some lines, poles, and transformers of the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) in Adidome, Mafi-Kumase and its environs, which have been connected to the national grid since 1984. Deputy Minister for Energy (Mr William O. Aidoo)(MP)(on behalf of the
Mr Speaker, following the completion of an electrification project under the National Electrification Scheme (NES), the Ministry hands over the project to the respective utility company that, is the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) Limited or the Northern Electricity Department (NED), based on the location of the community,
Mr Speaker, from the Answer provided by the Hon Deputy Minister, specifically in the second and third paragraphs, it says expansion works would be done in the areas mentioned. I would like to find out from the Hon Minister whether the expansion works include the rehabilitation of the existing grids in the mentioned areas?
Mr Speaker, yes, the expansion works include the rehabilitation of all other works that are required.
Mr Speaker, in the second sentence of the last paragraph, the Hon Deputy Minister indicated that they were informed that in the Mafi Kumase area, expansion works would be captured in ECG's 2019 Budget. May I know who gave him this information? I would like to find out because what currently happens is that, because of the problem with the equipment, there are always power cuts from -- and people's electrical gadgets get spoilt every now and then. Therefore, what temporary measures would they put in place to forestall some of these things before the 2019 Budget?
Mr Speaker, I would advise my Hon Friend to formally write a letter to ECG and copy the Ministry. We would then see what could be done. It could be that, it is just transformers that need to be boosted or something of that sort. We could sort it out.
Hon Deputy Minister, thank you for attending upon the House to answer Questions. You are discharged. Hon Members, yesterday, there were two Statements on the challenges with herdsmen; the Hon Minority Chief Whip does not want us to call them Fulani herdsmen but just herdsmen. I directed that the Chairman of the Defence and Interior Committee, briefed the House on the extent of what they had done on the referral made to them by Mr Speaker last year. I see that the Hon Chairman is here and I would ask him to tell us what they have done with the assignment given them to date. Challenges with herdsmen
Mr Speaker, rightly so. Mr Speaker, a Statement was made on the floor of the House by my Hon Colleagues in respect of the nomadic herdsmen's activities in the Agogo area. Following that, the Committee was directed to follow-up and bring a Report to the House. Mr Speaker, the Committee duly met with the Minister for the Interior and the Hon Member who made the Statement. However, in our deliberations, it emerged that the matter was beyond just where the Hon Member who made the Statement referred to; it is within a wider space of the Ghanaian landscape.
Hon Leaders, would you want to comment on where we are with the Committee's work?
Mr Speaker, I just wanted to find out from the Hon Chairman whether they have put in a request for resources to enable them complete what they intend to do? From what he said, it looks like they are stuck. That is how I see it and that is the impression he has created. I just wanted to know what was left for them to complete their work and how long he thinks it would take the Committee to come back to the House with some sort of Report that would be able to guide us. I would be very happy if I were given these further clarifications.
Mr Speaker, we were scheduled to travel during the last Meeting. Unfortunately for us, it coincided with the Budget. As a result, in consultation with Leadership, we were asked to hold on till this Meeting. As we speak, Leadership has assured us that within this Meeting, we would bring the Report to the House. Further, in terms of logistics, because of the expensive nature of the exercise we would embark on, we have liaised with the Ministry of Defence to assist us in ferrying us around the sub-region. Mr Speaker, this would reduce our cost and at the same time offer us some protection. That is the direction in which we are going. This is because when we searched for information, we realised that it is more critical in Nigeria. However, we have found a couple of States that had got their acts together and we would go there to maybe, learn from them. This is how far we would go. I believe that the Committee is well poised. We have impressed upon Leadership to facilitate and assist us to get these results within this Meeting. So, for timelines, I believe by the end of this Meeting, we should be ready with our Report.
Very well. I urge Leadership to ensure that the Committee is well facilitated to complete their work. Thank you, Hon Chairman of the Committee. Hon Members, at the Commencement of Public Business, the item numbered 5 -- Presentation of Papers. Hon Majority Leader, what is the fate of these two outstanding Reports; the items numbered 6 and 7?
Mr Speaker, you mentioned the item numbered 5.
I am sorry Hon Majority Leader, it is the item numbered 5.
Mr Speaker, I understand the Committee is about to finish with their Report and they would need to go into print, so, I would want to believe that by the time we adjourn the Reports could be laid in the House and we would take it from there.
So, shall we stand that down?
In the event, yes, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, since the Hon Majority Leader said we should stand it down, maybe, we would have further discussions not on the floor of the House. This is because I believe there are other issues that have to be considered before the Paper could be laid.
Very well. Hon Majority Leader, what about the items numbered 6 and 7?
Mr Speaker, if we could deal with the Order Paper Addendum, then we would revert to the original Order Paper.
Yes, Hon Minority Chief Whip?
Mr Speaker, I would want to be sure from the Table Office whether there are sufficient copies. It is always difficult to raise this because of the way the Business of the House is arranged and we could only sometimes try to sneak in around this time when other Papers are going to be laid. Mr Speaker, on 22nd December, 2017, the Legal Profession Regulation 2017 was laid, but as I speak, we do not have copies in the House -- more than a month after it has been laid. Mr Speaker, information reaching me is that even that Regulation has not been gazetted. It is not only this time -- This has happened too many times and it has been happening all these years. For once, Parliament should be up and doing so that we avoid these things. This is because sometimes, it is very unpalatable when one has to get up and state this.
Hon Minority Chief Whip, which one are you suggesting that it should be withdrawn?
Mr Speaker, it is the Legal Profession Regulation. The one that was laid on the 22nd of December, 2017.
Hon Majority Leader, I thought we were dealing with the Order Paper Addendum, so, if you have an issue --
Mr Speaker, with the greatest respect, I said that because our rules do not really give time when such issues could be raised, we are able to bring them up when Papers are going to be laid. This is because I asked whether there were sufficient copies before they could be laid and I had wanted to take advantage of --
Hon Minority Chief Whip, I thought you would wait for that question to be answered before you would link that to something else. The Order Paper Addendum is on the Import VAT and ECOWAS Levy. Do Hon Members have copies? Yes, Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, respectfully, it is when the Clerks-at-the- Table have sufficient copies for distribution that the Paper is laid in the House. It is only after it has been laid in the House that Hon Members are issued with copies. The issuance of copies to Hon Members does not precede the laying of the document in the House. That is the procedure. Mr Speaker, if there is an assurance from the Clerks-at-the-Table that they have sufficient copies, then it could be laid, but for the avoidance of doubt, this document has been with us since the beginning of the week. I insisted that it is cross-checked with the Hon Chairman of the Finance Committee and because they were engaged in the drafting of this Report from the Special Committee, it was this morning that I met him and that paved the way for them to do the Order Paper Addendum. I am inclined to believe that they have sufficient copies with them. Mr Speaker, having said so, I applied for us to consider the Order Paper Addendum and the Hon Minority Chief Whip talked about something which was completely different from the application that I made. Indeed, it had no relevance to the application that I made. Mr Speaker, he may have a very good case -- we need to address some of these things, but he cannot hijack this application and introduce a new matter.
Yes, Hon Member for Adaklu?
Mr Speaker, I am not about to arrest the laying of this Paper, but it refers to a tax waiver for the Tema- Akosombo Railway Project. Mr Speaker, I thought as a policy, the Hon Minister for Finance told us in this House that henceforth, everybody who would want to undertake projects like these would be made to pay the taxes and then apply for refund.
Hon Member, first, the Paper has to be laid and it would be referred to the Committee and you would see everything when the Committee brings the Report. But now, I would have to grant the leave for the Paper to be laid before we deal with it. So, Hon Member, kindly wait a while. Tarry and gather your ammunitions. When the time is due, you can fire. [Laughter.]
Mr Speaker, when it is laid -- this is about railway development.
Mr Speaker, again, on relevance — At least, for now, there is nothing before the House, so, what is the Hon Member commenting on? Mr Speaker, I think Hon Members should learn the procedures of this House. There is nothing before us, and he is commenting on nothingness when the Paper has not even been laid.
Now, I would grant you leave to lay the Paper --
Mr Speaker, my Hon Colleague should learn to apply himself to the rules.
Leave is granted for the Paper to be laid.
Yes, Hon Member?
Mr Speaker, since we are laying Papers, I would be very grateful if we deal with —
Very well. Let me correct myself. I think this is only in respect of the tax waiver, and so it is referred to only the Finance Committee. Hon Minority Chief Whip, you were on your feet?
Mr Speaker, with the greatest respect, I think you did the right thing with the waiver. This is because there are taxes that are normally itemised to be waived. It is important that the Committee that looked at the Commercial Agreement also see what they are itemising for waivers, even if the Leadership of the Roads and Transport Committee has to go to the Finance Committee to observe. I believe it would be useful rather than the Finance Committee alone considering it. Mr Speaker, so I believe that what you did earlier would be better for us than referring it only to the Committee on Finance. So I do not know if you could reconsider the referral.
Hon Majority Leader, I earlier referred the request to the Joint Committee on Finance and Roads and Transport, but when my attention was drawn to the fact that this is only a tax waiver, I varied my order to say that it should go to the Finance Committee. Now, the Hon Minority Chief Whip is suggesting that we should allow the Committee on Roads and Transport to join them. I would want to hear from you.
Mr Speaker, the remit of the Finance Committee and that of other Committees are defined appropriately by our Standing Orders. Matters dealing with finance are referred to the Finance Committee, including tax waivers et cetera. But we wanted to have a structure where, maybe, relevant set up Committees that might have considered some Commercial Agreements, when it comes to these tax exemptions, could link up with the Finance Committee to provide relevant information to allow the work to go on smoothly. As we have spoken about this over the years, we do not apply it; that is where we are. But I believe if we find it convenient to introduce it, we may not necessarily conjoin the two Committees and maybe, the leadership of the Committee, the Chairman, the Vice Chairman and the Ranking Member.
I have always been with you.
You have never been with me. Do not associate yourself with this, Hon Muntaka. Mr Speaker, but going forward, if we so want it, so that maybe, appropriate information may be transmitted to the Finance Committee, then I guess the entire House would have to make that determination.
Mr Speaker, this is not the first time we are considering tax waivers in this House, and never has a tax waiver been referred to the Finance Committee and another Committee. So, we would be setting a bad precedent if we go on this. Mr Speaker, this is because when Agreements come, the financing Agreement would go to the Finance Committee and the Commercial Agreement — Mr Speaker, I know you are a member of the Committee on Roads and Transport — The Commercial Agreement in this case went to the Roads and Transport Committee. Now, in the Commercial Agreement was the requirement that taxes be waived. We are now at that stage where we are considering the tax waive. We cannot go full circle again such that when the tax waiver comes then it has to go to a particular Committee. Mr Speaker, then any time there is a waiver like this before the Committee, then we have to join the relevant Committees. What we are considering is a tax waiver. In considering the tax waiver, what expertise is coming from the other Committee that is going to enrich the work? Mr Speaker, he has been here forever, he should tell me one instance where a tax waiver was referred to a Joint Committee.
It is all right, I have heard the leaders. We know what we have done in the past, and we know how insufficient we have found that to be, and so we desire a new approach. I direct that the leadership of the Committee on Roads and Transport join the Committee on Finance in considering this tax waiver.
Mr Speaker, I should be grateful to come back since we are at laying of Papers. The Paper on the legal profession/Professional and Post Core Law Course) Regulation, 2017. Mr Speaker, this Paper was laid on 22nd December, 2017 and after one month since it was laid, we do not have sufficient copies in the House. Mr Speaker, as I said, my information is that, it has even not been gazetted. I am happy that the Chairman of the Subsidiary Legislation Committee is here — If he could tell us whether it has been gazetted. Mr Speaker, if we look at the constitutional provision, these are gross violations of the Constitution and our Standing Orders and we cannot continue to allow this to fester. Mr Speaker, I must admit that it has been happening almost all the time, where Papers are laid and sometimes after weeks, copies would still not be in the House. But I believe in 2018 we should be a new leaf where we would all agree that we have had enough of the wrong doings, so that we would make sure that the right things are done. This is because it can be very irritating. Mr Speaker, we should remember that already, with this Bill, there had been a petition to this House which was referred to the Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee. Two days ago I sought if the Subsidiary Legislation Committee could be merged to it so that they would look at the petition. There is a lot of interest in it, yet we do not even have the Regulation in the House. Meanwhile we are supposed to consider it. Mr Speaker, the eleven Sitting days have gone already.
Mr Speaker, I believe that in fairness to ourselves and to be able to do very diligent work, we should withdraw this so that when the right things are done and we have sufficient copies, we can move ahead to consider it. Why should we allow ourselves to be taken over by time? Once it is twenty-one Sitting days, whether it is considered or not, with all the criticisms that had come in, it would become useless because we would not even get the opportunity to see where there is a possibility of the protest or petition that is before the House having some impact on the Regulation since we do not have it to consider. Mr Speaker, I would be happy if the Hon Majority Leader would encourage the Hon Attorney-General and Minister for Justice to come and withdraw this one so that the right things are done. Thank you.
Chairman of the Committee on Subsidiary Legislation?
Mr Speaker, indeed, it is the case that because of the problems associated with the processes in dealing with subsidiary legislations, we during which we review the proposal and once we certify it, it is laid. Very often, when it is laid, we do nothing about it apart from allowing it to run through the twenty- one Sitting days and then come into force. So this L.I. was brought to us; we have met several times and we have invited the different stakeholders -- the General Legal Council, students, and former directors of law schools among others. We deliberated and pointed out -- We received the same petition from the student unions, and we pointed out key areas that we thought should be deleted from the original proposals. After some negotiations, the General Legal Council agreed to delete those ones and review some of the clauses to meet the position that the Committee took. Mr Speaker, subsequently, I received a letter forwarding the reviewed version from the Attorney-General's Department. In the reviewed version, we noticed that, some of the things that we said they should delete had been deleted and some of the changes we proposed had been made and certain reconstructions inserted to meet the recommendations that the Committee made. Mr Speaker, somehow, the last Sitting of the House, which was on the 22nd of January, 2018, I had stepped outside the Chamber and in my absence, the regulations were laid. In fact, I did not even know that it had been laid because the students got in touch with me with their petition and I asked them to exercise patience as the Regulations were not formally before Parliament yet. If it is formally before Parliament and we present what has been brought and they still have issues, then we can consider what can be done. They insisted that, it had been laid; I got in touch with the Clerk of the Committee about three days ago and asked him whether it is true that it had been laid and he said that it was laid when I stepped outside the Chamber. I then requested for copies as this was a very serious matter, and the L. I. has been the subject of public discussions. I am sure Hon Members would want to -- Then he revealed to me that the copies were not yet available. I said if they do not make copies available to Hon Members so that when the constituents put pressure on them they would know what to say, there would be problem. So yesterday, I asked him to get in touch with the General Legal Council and make sure they bring the copies and distributed them. Mr Speaker, as the Hon Alhaji Muntaka has pointed out, of course, we have to lay it before we distribute the copies. Yesterday he came back to me and said that there was an additional problem, which was that, it had been found that it has not been gazetted. So, I recommended that he got in touch with the Leader to advise the Hon Attorney-General and Minister for Justice to come and withdraw the L.I. because by our procedures, the Hon Minister who laid it should be the person to withdraw it . That was my directive to the Clerk to the Committee yesterday. while it is withdrawn, we can then have additional time to engage the students, and the Attorney-General's Office can also benefit from the additional engagements that we have had with the students. Mr Speaker, in fact, I tried to manage it behind the scenes but since it has been raised, I am compelled to provide the details. Mr Speaker, once on my feet, the same applies to another Regulation which was also laid on the Saturday that we had the Emergency Sitting to swear in the Speaker of Parliament as acting President. That has to do with the National Identification Authority Bill which was brought to this House and the Regulations that were to be made pursuant to that Amendment. That was also laid on Saturday, and as we speak, we still do not have copies. Mr Speaker, let me also admit that we had also considered that at our pre-laying meeting and generally certified it. Usually, the Committee Members get to sit at the pre-laying meeting, but other Hon Members do not get to sit at the pre-laying meeting. There are some sensitive L.I.s that when they come before us, Hon Members have opinions and would want to contribute. Some Hon Colleagues have asked why I have allowed this to be laid while there are no copies -- they needed copies. Mr Speaker, so, I would want to urge the Clerk-at-the-Table and his team that as much as we do a lot of work during pre- laying period, it is also proper that when it is laid, sufficient copies are made available so that Hon Members who are not Members of the Committee who have not seen, and who do not know how much work has been done would see it and make an input. It is particularly critical for L.I.s. We can do that for any other document that we lay, but when it is L.I.s, the days start counting on the day it is laid. So, we cannot apply the same practice when it comes to L.I.s. Mr Speaker, those are the issues that I can respond to. I thank you for the opportunity.
Hon Majority Leader, they request that you advise the Hon Attorney-General and Minister for Justice to withdraw those L.I.s; I would want to hear from you on that. Mr Joseph Y. Chireh — rose --
I called the Hon Majority Leader and not the Hon Member for Wa West. [Laughter.]
Mr Speaker, I have listened to the issues raised by the whistle-blower -- [Laughter] -- and it is interesting to note that the person who said he was managing the issues backstage ended up as the person who was making full disclosures about what management he was engaged in -- was constrained to -- [Laughter.] Mr Speaker, I believe the position of the Constitution is very clear, that for Orders, Rules or Regulations made by a person of authority and by the power conferred by this Constitution or any other law, first, it shall be laid in Parliament and be published in the Gazette on the day it is laid before Parliament. We are now being told, and I have no cause to misbelieve what Hon Ayariga, Chairman of the Committee, has said. I am not going to call for an enquiry into this matter. Mr Speaker, indeed, if it is true that since 22nd December, 2017, that particular L.I. has not been gazetted, that in itself would create a problem. It is not an ordinary Bill, and it would be difficult to even situate it where it ought to be in December 22, 2017, which is supposed to be the gazette notification date. So, it may create a problem. Mr Speaker, in that regard, let me assure the House that I would get in touch with the Hon Attorney-General and Minister for Justice and consider the way forward. But I believe they are relevant matters that they have brought up. I would liaise with the Hon Attorney-General and Minister for Justice and as early as possible, I would get back to the House and we would know what we must do in respect of the one that was supposedly laid on December 22, 2017. For the other L.I. that was laid on Saturday, I conferred with the Hon Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation, who is the sector Minister in charge, and he assured me that it had gone into print and would be gazetted that same day. So with that assurance, we laid it. In fact, it had been with me for about three days before the Saturday when it came to be laid in the House. Mr Speaker, again, I am happy that one has travelled just about two to three days. We would look at it and if it has not been brought to the House, we would see to it that it is brought. I am happy that the Hon Chairman of the Committee on Subsidiary Legislation has indicated to us that as far as that one is concerned, the Committee has had some backstage consultations and they have no problem with the content of the L.I. So, we would make sure that Hon Members have copies as soon as practicable. Mr Speaker, I thank you.
Very well. Hon Majority Leader, shall we take the item numbered 8 on the Order Paper?
Mr Speaker, the item numbered 8 is ready so we can take it.
Very well. Item numbered 8 -- Motions.
Mr Speaker, the Report before me is for the Motion numbered 10 -- [Interruption] -- Motion numbered 8 is also ready? [Interruption.] -- All right. Mr Speaker, we can take both items numbered 8 and 10.
All right, Chairman of the Committee, proceed.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that this Honourable House adopts the Report of the Committee on Food, Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs on the Regulation C/REG 22/11/10 Establishing Community Procedures for Management of Veterinary Drugs or Biologics. In so doing, I present your Committee's Report. Introduction In accordance with article 75 (2) of the 1992 Constitution, the Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Hon William Agyapong Quaittoo, on behalf of the Minister for Agriculture, Hon Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, on 13th June, 2017, laid before the House, the Regulation C/REG 22/11/10 establishing community procedures for management of veterinary drugs or biologics. Pursuant to Standing Order 176 of the Parliament of Ghana, the Rt Hon Speaker of Parliament, Hon Mike Aaron Oquaye referred the Directive to the Committee on Food, Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs for consideration and report to the House. Deliberations The Committee met with the following to discuss the provisions in the Directive C/DIR1/11/10 on Ecowas Veterinary Pharmacy: a. Hon William Agyapong Quaittoo -- Deputy Minister for Food and Agriculture; b. Dr Kingsley M. Aryee -- Deputy Director Veterinary Services Directorate; c. Mr Emmanuel Eshun -- Chief Animal Health Officer (MOFA); d. Mr George A. Sarpong -- Legal Consultant (MOFA); and e. Dr Anthony Akunzule -- Deputy Director (MOFA). The Committee is grateful to them for the invaluable contributions they made during the discussions. The committee made reference to the following documents during deliberations: i. The 1992 Constitution of Ghana; ii. The Standing Orders of Parliament of Ghana;
iii.Cabinet's memorandum on the ratification and gazetting of ECOWAS Regulation C/REG/22/ 11/10; iv.Memorandum from the Ministry of Food and Agriculture for the ratification of Regulation C/REG/ 2/11/10; v.Diseases of Animals Act, 1961 (Act 83); vi.The Regulation C/REG 22/11/10 Establishing Community Proce- dures for Management of Veterinary Drugs or Biologics; vii.The ECOWAS Agricultural Policy; and viii. Revised ECOWAS Treaty on Agricultural Development and Food Security. Background Information The Diseases of Animals Act, 1961 (Act 83) provides for the prevention and control of the spread of infectious and contagious diseases among animals in Ghana. It does not however, cover veterinary drugs and biologics. It has therefore created a gap in addressing issues regarding management of veterinary drugs and biologics. There are also disparities in veterinary laws implemented by countries in the West African sub-region. Having recognised the fundamental importance of inputs that help in the management of veterinary drugs and contribute to agriculture, in Heads of States and Governments of ECOWAS states in 2008, approved a number of regional agricultural directives and Regulations designed to facilitate the implementation of ECOWAS agricultural policy which were adopted in Accra, Ghana in 2005. The general objectives of the Regulations are to harmonise existing national regulations for enhanced agricultural production and productivity. They are also to promote regional trade in agricultural inputs and commodities as well as regional integration of which agriculture is an important component. Objectives of the Regulation The general objectives of the Regulation are as follows: a. Define the scope of application of veterinary drugs; b. Establishment of the Regional Committee of Veterinary Drugs and Biologics and Its Permanent Secretariat; c. Marketing of Veterinary Drugs and Biologics; d. Procedure for granting authorisation for marketing; e. Creating labels and instructions on veterinary drugs and biologics; f. Marketing monitoring and surveillance; g. Controlling of veterinary drugs and biologics; h. Instituting Fees; i. Creating Network of laboratories for quality control of veterinary drugs and biologics; and j.Transitional arrangements. Justification ECOWAS, having realised the risks to human and animal health due to the absence of harmonious laws in the region for the operation of laboratories specifically assigned to the task of quality control, agreed to organise a network to harmonise operations of laboratories. The harmonious laws, if implemented would maximise the effectiveness of laboratories and minimise the risks to animal and human health in the ECOWAS region. At the Sixty-fifth Ordinary Session of the Council of Agricultural Ministers of ECOWAS Member States held in Abuja, Nigeria on 23rd February, 2010, it was agreed that the ECOWAS Member States would operate Regulations on harmonisation of the network of laboratories, the rules governing quality control, certification and marketing of veterinary drugs and biologics in ECOWAS sub-region. The Regulations shall enter into force upon its publication by each Member State in its National Gazette as indicated in article 64 of the Regulations. Many countries are now drafting new laws or revising existing legislations to align them with the Regulation C/REG 22/ 11/10 establishing community procedures for management of veterinary drugs and biologics. State of Implementation Seven countries within the sub region namely Burkina Faso, La Cote D'Ivoire, Liberia, Mali, Sierra Leone, Senegal and Togo have gazetted the harmonised directives establishing the community procedures for management of the veterinary drugs and biologics. Ghana, Niger and The Gambia are in the process of gazetting the harmonised directives. Ghana being a dualist State can only get its harmonised Regulations gazetted after parliamentary approval of the Directives. Benefits The Directive, if implemented, would benefit Ghana in several ways such as: i. Facilitate local production of quality veterinary drugs and biologics; ii. Facilitate trade in veterinary drugs and biologics amongst Member States, t h r o u g h application of regionally agreed principles and rules that minimise trade barriers; iii. Facilitate timely and convenient access by livestock farmers and veterinary authorities to quality veterinary drugs and biologics; iv. Encourage private investment in the veterinary drugs and biologics industry; v. Safeguard the interest of livestock farmers, veterinary authorities and the general public against anti-microbial resistant, adultera- tion, misleading claims and inappropriate use of these products. vi. Ensure availability of good quality veterinary drugs and biologics; and vii.Determine the origin of veterinary drugs and biologics used within the sub-region;
viii. Protect the West Africa natural environment and its population against the potential dangers associated with inappropriate veterinary drugs and biologics use; ix. Facilitate inter and intra-state trade in veterinary drugs and biologics through implemen- tation of principles and rules mutually agreed at sub-regional level to dismantle trade barriers. Observations and Recommendation a. It was realised that the Public Health Act, 2012 currently provides the Food and Drugs Authority power to vet veterinary drugs although the Authority has no laboratories or personnel to investigate veterinary drugs and biologics. When approval is given to the Regulations, the Veterinary Services Directorate of the Ministry of Agriculture that has the laboratories and personnel to veterinary drugs and biologics would take over the function. The Committee recommends that all laws related to veterinary operations should be synchronised to ensure that the Veterinary Services Directorate plays its role as expected. b. It was again observed that the Veterinary Services Directorate has well equipped laboratories in Kumasi, Koforidua, Techiman, Takoradi and Accra that are sparsely used for the production of vaccines because the Directorate is not adequately funded to do so. This has resulted in the outbreak of various animal diseases in the country. The Committee recommends that the Veterinary Services Directorate should be adequately funded after the adoption of this Regulations to ensure that its operations satisfy the requirements of the Regulations. c. The Veterinary Services Directorate is also understaffed. The Committee was informed that a request for the employment of 579 veterinary officers was made six years ago but till date approval has not been granted. With the approval of the Regulations, there would be the need to have veterinary officers in all the Districts. The Committee recommends that approval should be given by the Ministry of Finance for the engagement of the veterinary officers to make the implementation of the Regulations effective. Conclusion The approval of the Regulation C/REG 22/11/10 establishing community procedures for management of veterinary drugs or biologics would ensure that all laws relating to that regulation of laboratories and biologics in the sub- region are harmonised to guarantee the safety of our veterinary drugs and biologics. The Committee therefore recommends the adoption and ratification of the Regulation C/REG 22/11/10 establishing community procedures for management of veterinary drugs or biologics. Respectfully submitted.
Mr Speaker, thank you very much for the opportunity to second the Motion moved by the Hon Chairman of the Committee. Mr Speaker, in doing so, I would like to draw your attention to page 5 of the Report. It is stated that: “The Regulation shall enter into force upon its publication by each Member State in its National Gazette as indicated in article 64 of the Regulations” Mr Speaker, under the Regulation, the power to vet veterinary drugs is given to the Veterinary Services Directorate (VSD) but we are all aware that, under the Public Health Act of 2012, this function is given to the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA). So, it means that before we can implement the Regulation, there is a need for this House to amend that Act to give that function to the VSD. This is because they have the technical know-how, and as the Report rightly says, they have the the laboratories to perform that function effectively. Mr Speaker, on page 6, paragraph (c), of the Report we were told, and Mr Speaker, with your permission I quote “The VSD is also understaffed”. The Committee was informed that they made a request to recruit 579 veterinary officers, but because the function to vet veterinary drugs was then in the hands of the FDA, they were not given the mandate to recruit. Today, after the adoption of this Report, the power to vet veterinary drugs would be with the VSD, and they would need a lot of officers across the country to be able to perform that function effectively. Therefore, we urge the Hon Minister for Finance to give them the approval to enable them recruit as many as 579 officers so that they can vet the veterinary drugs across the country. Mr Speaker, on this note, I second the Motion. Question proposed.
Very well -- Yes, Hon Minority Chief Whip?
Mr Speaker, I rise to speak to the Motion before us and to say that, as a member State in the West African sub-region, it is important that Ghana ratifies this. But I have some concerns whether by ratification, it mandatorily means that -- Every member State has a way of internally regulating inflows or manufacturing of food and drugs. These veterinary drugs and biologics fall under our law which is under the FDA. Mr Speaker, paragraph 9.0 talks about amending the Public Health Act, 2012 because the VSD of the Ministry of Agriculture has the laboratory and personnel that would be able to deal with this. I strongly disagree with them. Mr Speaker, this is because the laboratory that we have at FDA is one of the best in Africa, and the State has invested heavily in such a laboratory. I do not see anything wrong in collaborating -- Other than that, what would happen is that, when we amend the law, after we have established a laboratory that is able to do all this, we would now
Would the Hon Majority Leadership want to comment?
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity. Just a few observations. First, we are told that , once Parliament ratifies this Regulation it must subsequently be gazetted before it comes into force. Just this morning, we talked about a backlog of Instruments and Regulations that have not been gazetted yet. So, this is to sound a note of caution that once we ratify it, there should be that automaticity in having the Regulation gazetted. Mr Speaker, it does not necessarily mean that we have to abide by every provision of the Regulation, because as the Committee has informed us, many countries are now drafting new laws. Mr Speaker, the point is that, they must synchronise with the Regulation that is before us. Mr Speaker, but the Hon Chief Whip for the Minority Side of the House spoke about his own feelings. A Committee has reported a matter of fact to us and on page 6 there is a clear information to us. Mr Speaker, paragraph 9.0 (a) of the Committee's Report provides and I beg to quote: “It was realised that the Public Health Act, 2012 currently provides the Food and Drugs Authority power to vet veterinary drugs although the Authority has no laboratories or personnel to investigate veterinary drugs and biologics.” Mr Speaker, the truth of the matter is that, the laboratory that they have there deals with human beings and not animals and birds. So, the Hon Chief Whip should not talk about gut feelings; it is about a statement of fact and we cannot contradict that. Mr Speaker, that indeed is the position so he cannot talks from his gut feelings and say he deeply believes. Mr Speaker, it is not his belief that we are talking about It is not a matter of faith; It is a matter of providing factual basis for the ratification of this and urging --
Hon Alhaji Muntaka, do you have contrary information to what I have stated?
Hon Majority Leader, do you want to cede to him? Otherwise I have not recognised the Hon Minority Chief Whip.
Mr Speaker, I am really not inclined to yield because he has had his turn and I am pointing out to him that he cannot talk at cross purposes and shout over the Aisle. Mr Speaker, could he resume his seat so that I continue? [Laughter.]
Hon Majority Leader, go on when you are done I would recognise him. He knows I would always recognise him, but, I would let you finish.
Mr Speaker, there is a statement of fact by the Committee on Agriculture and that is what we have read here. Much as the Food and Drugs Authority's laboratory is very well equipped -- and I must agree with the Hon Minority Chief Whip that occasionally some countries in the sub region have sent samples for tests and certification by the Authority, but it does not mean that they deal with animals; they do not. Mr Speaker, that is a statement of fact. Mr Speaker, so that is why they are urging that we may have to amend the Act.
On a point of Order. Mr Speaker, firstly, I would want the Hon Majority Leader to withdraw the statement he made that I am speaking from a gut feeling”. Mr Speaker, he should remember that I was once the Hon Chairman of the Health Committee.
Sorry? What was the word?
Mr Speaker, he said that I was speaking from my personal, gut feeling. I am not speaking from my gut feeling, because if we check the records of this House, I tailored the Public Health Act in 2012 and so I know what I am talking about. Mr Speaker, I have been a member of the Committee on Health from 2005 to date. Mr Speaker, when we talk about drugs, it has nothing to do with a laboratory that examines animals. If we look at what was stated in paragraph 9.0, it is about veterinary drugs and biologics. They do not talk about the animal laboratory; they talk about drugs. So the Statement by the Food and Drugs Authority is inaccurate and the House could cross-check. Mr Speaker, they have what it takes to examine every drug, whether it is for veterinary, animals or food for animals. If we talk about a veterinary laboratory that examines animals, then that is different but we are talking about the drugs and the biologics. So, the Statement the Committee has put here is inaccurate because the Food and Drugs Authority have their laboratory which could do that and this House could cross-check that. Mr Speaker, that is why I am saying that let us find a way of harmonising what they do. I do not speak from a gut feeling; I speak from facts. We could call for the Act now, look at it and send a committee to go to the laboratory at the Food and Drugs Authority and check. Mr Speaker, I speak from facts, not a gut feeling. I know it as a fact because I have served as the Hon Chairman of the Committee on Health and I am a member of the Committee on Health. I have interacted severally with the Food and Drugs Authority. Mr Speaker, we have visited the laboratory and we know what that laboratory is capable of doing. I am only sounding a word of caution that we do not create the kind of problem that we created between the Food and Drugs Authority and the Standards Authority with another -- We could equip the Veterinary Division to deal with the examination of animals and other things but when it comes to drugs, we could still leave it with the Food and Drugs Authority because they have what it takes to expressedly deal with it. Mr Speaker, so, it is the Statement he made that is inaccurate and I am not speaking from a personal feeling or gut feeling. That is just what I wanted the Hon Majority Leader to know.
Very well. It was an opportunity to respond and so I am not ruling on whether he is out of order or not -- now that you are satisfied --
Mr Speaker, no. The record has it that I spoke from my gut feelings and I am correcting him that I did not speak from my personal feeling or gut feeling. I spoke from facts because I have information that is also available to this House. So, I believe it is important he relates to that. Maybe, he did not know that I spoke from facts. I am now drawing his attention that I was not speaking from my personal feeling or gut feeling as he alluded to.
Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I just walked on the very way the Hon Minority Chief Whip walked. On many occasions during his own submissions -- I beg to quote him -- “I strongly believe”. Mr Speaker, he repeated this on about four occasions and he then said “my strong feeling” on one occasion. Mr Speaker, let him rise up because I saw that when the Hon Minority Chief Whip was speaking he shook his head profusely about the inaccuracy of the submission by the Hon Minority Chief Whip. [Laughter.] Mr Speaker, these are serious matters. We cannot have Parliament disagree with a statement of fact by the Committee. Mr Speaker, that should be a legitimate concern. The Hon Minority Chief Whip has moved from the realm of feelings and he is now saying that he is speaking to facts that he knows. If that is the case -- Mr Speaker, the establishment of the laboratory is different from whatever business they conduct. The Committee tells us that the laboratory is not conducting that business regardless of the high profile nature of the equipment. So, let us interrogate the issue as to whether, indeed -- because I am talking to the facts as provided by the Committee on Agriculture that the Food and Drugs Authority does not have the laboratory or even personnel to investigate veterinary drugs and biologics. Mr Speaker, they have spoken about two things; firstly, the insufficiency of the laboratory to deal with it, and secondly, the lack of personnel to deal with it. These are two major issues that they have raised. And the Hon Minority Chief Whip, a former Chairman of the Health Committee has contradicted them. As I said, he has moved from the realm of feelings to a statement of fact that what he said was a statement of fact. Mr Speaker, if it is true, we need to call for further investigation into this. If the laboratory is already equipped sufficiently and appropriately, we cannot duplicate whatever is outside the FDA. This is because, if it is only the lack of the requisite personnel, the Veterinary Services or whoever is in charge could bring personnel to do the testing so we do not duplicate the establishment of the laboratory. But, if indeed, they do not have it, then certaintly what the Committee recommends to us is what we should do. Mr Speaker, on that note, I would call for the adoption of the Report, subject to further clarification whether or not the FDA has laboratory or personnel to investigate veterinary drugs and
Item numbered 9 on the Order Paper -- Hon Majority Leader, are we ready to go on with item numbered 9?
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion. Question put and Motion agreed to. Resolved accordingly.
Hon Majority Leader, are we ready to take item numbered 10 on the Order Paper?
Yes, Mr Speaker, we can take item numbered 10 on the Order Paper.
Very well. The Motion numbered as item 10 -- Chairman of the Committee?
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that this Honourable House adopts the Report of the Committee on Food, Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs on the Directive C/DIR.1/11/10 on ECOWAS Veterinary Pharmacy on Quality Control. Introduction In accordance with article 75 (2) of the 1992 Constitution, the Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Hon William Agyapong Quaittoo on behalf of the Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, on 13th June, 2017 laid before the House, the Directive C/DIR.1/11/10 on Ecowas Veterinary Pharmacy on quality control. Pursuant to Standing Order 176 of the Parliament of Ghana, Mr Speaker of Parliament, Hon Mike Aaron Oquaye referred the Directive to the Committee on Food, Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs for consideration and report to the House. Deliberations The Committee met with the following to discuss the provisions in the Directive C/DIR.1/11/10 on Ecowas Veterinary Pharmacy on quality control: a. Hon William Agyapong Quaittoo -- Deputy Minister for Agriculture; b. Dr Kingsley M. Aryee -- Deputy Director Veterinary Services Directorate; c. Mr Emmanuel Eshun -- Chief Animal Health Officer (MOFA); d. Mr. George A. Sarpong -- Legal Consultant (MOA); e. Dr Anthony Akunzule -- Deputy Director (MOA); The Committee is grateful to them for the invaluable contributions they made during the discussions. Reference documents The Committee made reference to the following documents during delibera- tions: i.The 1992 Constitution of Ghana; ii.The Standing Orders of Parliament of Ghana; iii.Cabinet's memorandum on the ratification and gazetting of the Directive C/DIR.1/11/10 on ECOWAS Veterinary Pharmacy on Quality Control; iv.Memorandum from the Ministry of Food and Agriculture for the ratification of Directive C/DIR.1/ 11/10 on ECOWAS Veterinary Pharmacy on Quality Control; v.The Directive C/DIR.1/11/10 on ECOWAS Veterinary Pharmacy; vi.The ECOWAS Agricultural Policy; vii.Revised ECOWAS Treaty on Agricultural Development and Food Security; viii. Disease and Animals Act, 1961 (Act 83). Background Information The major post-independence piece of legislation that governs animal health is the Diseases of Animal Act, 1961 (Act 83), which consolidates with amendments, the enactments that provide for the prevention and control of the spread of infectious and contagious diseases among animals. Act 83 does not, however, cover veterinary drugs and biologics. It has therefore created a gap in addressing issues regarding veterinary drugs and biologics. There are also disparities in veterinary laws implemented by countries in the West African sub-region.
Yes, Hon Ranking Member?
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion ably moved by the Hon Chairman of the Committee. Mr Speaker, in doing so, I would like to draw your attention to point 3 under paragraph 5.0, Objectives of the Directive. One of the objectives is to prescribe and describe the procedures and the rules that member states shall enforce in the areas of control of imports and exports, movement and marketing, retail and wholesale of veterinary drugs in the ECOWAS region. Mr Speaker, we know we have challenges with the movement of animals in the region. We can talk about the Fulani herdsmen, nomadic herdsmen and all the issues happening around. An animal with a disease in a country is likely to move in another country with the same disease. So what this regulation seeks to do is to have a harmonised regulation to enable us control some of these situations. I believe that if we adopt this and enforce it, it would help to identify where the animals are coming from and it would also resolve some of the challenges that we are facing today. Mr Speaker, we have to ensure that veterinary drugs are of the right quality. We have to ensure that they are produced from standard laboratories and we can only do that if we are able to harmonise our regulations. This is because they could manufacture drugs from Niger, Burkina Faso and other countries and bring them into this country and we have to have a way of ensuring that they are of the recommended standard and they do not cost any human life. Mr Speaker, for this reason, I second the Motion. Question proposed. Question put and Motion agreed to.
The Resolution numbered 11, which is a follow up to the Motion?
Mr Speaker, I believe if you have put the Question on the Motion, we could go to the Resolution.
Yes, I have put the Question on the Motion now, we are on the Resolution.
Mr Speaker, in that regard, I would move on behalf of the Minister for Agriculture.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that WHEREAS by the provisions of article 75 of the Constitution any treaty, agreement, or convention executed by or under the Authority of the President in the name of Ghana is made subject to ratification either by an Act of Parliament or by a resolution of Parliament supported by the votes of more than one-half of all the Members of Parliament. IN ACCORDANCE with the said article 75 of the Constitution the President has caused to be laid before Parliament through the Minister responsible for Food and Agriculture the Directive C/ DIR.1/11/10 on ECOWAS Veterinary Pharmacy on Quality Control on 13th June 2017. NOW THEREFORE, this Honourable House hereby resolves to ratify the said Directive C/DIR.1/11/10 on ECOWAS Veterinary Pharmacy on Quality Control.
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion for the Resolution. Question put and Motion agreed to. Resolved accordingly.
Are we ready to deal with the matter that was stood down? Item number 5.
Mr Speaker, the Chairman of the Committee was with us a few moments ago. I believe they are still working on the final product. So if we can stand it down yet and -- I think we were supposed to have taken a Statement in the morning. If you are minded you may have us go through that Statement while we wait. If they are not ready after we have finished, then we could stand it down and do it tomorrow.
Mr Speaker, if we have a Statement, obviously we cannot say that we cannot go back to take it. As for the Report, I think it is not ready. The reason we are saying this is that we tried not to raise this on the Floor but to do it behind the scenes so that we can build consensus. There has been a lot of back and forth with it. They are not ready but we also think that those of us who have been given the witness statement to go through -- example, my Hon Colleague, Mr Ablakwa has still not received his. I am still going through mine and our Standing Orders are very clear -- Order 202. If it is given to a Member, he has seven days to deal with it and this was given to us only the day before yesterday. I received mine the day before yesterday after we had closed and it is about 229 pages --
What has been given to you?
Mr Speaker, the witness statement to check the verbatim report. Obviously, that has effect on what they would put in their report so I think that we should give ourselves today so that we could lay it tomorrow. This is because if we rush to lay it, it may come with all the challenges that we have mentioned. We think that we need to build consensus to have a report devoid of having too much rancour. Thank you very much, Mr Speaker.
I do not know what we are talking about here. The Leader said the report is not ready and somebody is holding a copy saying he has to go through it verbatim. I do not
Mr Speaker, in that sense, we have no objection if we have to go back to Statements.
Very well. There is a Statement that was brought to me rather late. I had gone past Statements, so I could not admit it, but it is a Statement standing in the name of the Hon Member for Subin on secret recordings, the need for Parliament to legislate that act. Hon Member for Subin?
Mr Speaker, I am profoundly grateful for the opportunity to make this Statement on the proliferation of secret recordings and the need for Parliament to pass the appropriate legislation to deal with it. Mr Speaker, article 18 (2) of the 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana provides that: “No person shall be subjected to interference with the privacy of his home, property, correspondence or communication except in accordance with law and as may be necessary in a free and democratic society for public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the protection of the rights or freedoms of others”. This means that our ‘‘correspondence'' and ‘‘communication'' are protected under the Constitution of Ghana. Even though the right to privacy is not absolute, to legally interfere with a person's correspondence and communication, one must derive one's authority from existing law which itself is contingent on any of the following conditions: That the public safety or the economic well-being of the country is threatened; That health or morals are insecure; That there is a threat of disorder or crime; or That there is the need to protect the rights or freedoms of other citizens or residents; The right to privacy is balanced against the public interest test, press freedom, freedom of speech and expression and the public's right to information subject to such qualifications and laws as are necessary in a democratic society. With the proliferation of various mobile phones and similar devices, recording of telephone and other conversations has become the order of the day. There are applications which when downloaded on phones allow a person to automatically record every phone conversation that takes place. Day in day out, citizens are being subjected to horrible surprises when they wake up to find their voices on air via private conversations they have had with others believing them to be confidential. Of course, the best way to prevent such surprises is to ensure that: One says nothing scandalous or nothing of ‘‘importance'' or confidential during any telephone conversation; all meetings at which you are present are held in locations over which one has control in terms of ensuring there are no affixed recording devices; at important meetings that one attends, participants must be searched to ensure that recording devices are not brought to the meeting ground; One uses WhatsApp for telephone conversations as opposed to the ordinary phone methods since the experts claim these are more difficult to interfere with, even though we all know how any incoming call or message mutes the conversations for a while, thus resisting smooth interaction or conversation. Following the above routine is a tall order for anyone who simply wants to enjoy his or her right of privacy accorded by the Constitution. In most advanced jurisdictions, law- makers have legislated against recording private conversations without the consent of the other party or making such conversations public. In the United Kingdom, the rules vary between businesses and individuals. In general, it is not a crime to record a conversation without telling someone. However, it could potentially be considered a breach of the person's privacy. The legal aspect comes into the equation if one party shares the recording without the consent of the other party to the call. The offended party could bring a civil action for damages if he can prove that his privacy has been breached. On the other hand, selling a recording to a third party or releasing it to the public without consent from the other person could be a criminal offence. When it comes to businesses, under the Telecommunications Regula- tions, 2000, companies can only record calls without telling the caller if the tape is used for certain legally- justified reasons indicated in the legislation. Secret government phone re- cordings also goes on for security reasons, but these only take place when a legal warrant has been issued for them. Other regulations like the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, 2000 (RIPA) also regulate the use of recorded phone conversations. In the United States of America, federal law permits recording telephone calls and in-person conversations with the consent of at least one of the parties. This is called a “one-party consent” law. Under a one-
party consent law, one could record a phone call or conversation so long as one is a party to the conversation. However there are various laws against making these conversations public, depending on the State in question. The laws of Ghana do not allow eavesdropping or tapping of telephone conversations by any person or institution. In Ghana, Mobile Cellular License requires telecommunication operators to ensure the privacy and confidentiality of all their subscribers. Under the Mobile Cellular License regime, operators are expected to maintain confidentiality and ‘‘refrain from using or disclosing any confidential, personal and propriety information obtained in the course of its business from any user ... unless the customer has given his or her consent to such use or disclosure''. There are currently laws in the country regarding the eligibility of private recordings as evidence in court. However, the usability of such recordings in terms of communicating same to third parties or to the public is still a grey area, made even ‘‘greyer'' by evolving technology. The Constitution provides that one cannot interfere in a person's communication or correspondence except in certain extreme situations. These areas of exception are blurred in that it is left to the discretion of a court if the victim takes the matter to court, to determine whether his right to privacy may be upheld or whether he loses out because his case falls under an exception. There is a rising incidence of unacceptable sexual or pornographic material finding their way into our social media space, defiling the rights of some of the parties involved. A man records a sexual episode with his partner, most of the time with his face not showing while the other party's face and private parts are evident for all to see and decides to use it for blackmail or to disgrace the partner because things are not going his way. Some of these matters have led to suicide. Some of these recordings are done without the knowledge of the other party. Those that are done with the other party's consent do not include consent to disseminate the videos. This is getting out of hand especially with the social media boom, which allows for easy penetration of the social space. There are laws against pornography in the country but how many of these offenders have been arrested and prosecuted by the police? It is time Ghana crafted a legislation to make the boundaries clearer. It is time Ghana puts her foot down to some of the disgusting ‘‘culture'' slipping in and clouding our judgement. In what circumstances can someone record a private conversation and release the said conversation to a third party or to the public? In what circumstances can the State breach a person's right to privacy by interfering with his communication or correspondence? As we build upon our democracy and find various ways of defending our rights under the Constitution, it is important that these matters are urgently dealt with.
Hon Member for Builsa North?
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity. I wish to congratulate the Hon Member who made the Statement. Mr Speaker, having said that, I would reiterate the point made by the Hon Member who the Statement made to the effect that the right to privacy enshrined in article 18 of the Constitution is not an absolute right. That is an apt statement to make. Mr Speaker, the Member who made the Statement calls for legislation to regulate the interference to the enjoyment of what is otherwise a fundamental right enshrined and even entrenched under the Constitution. Mr Speaker, that call may be timely, but it is important to draw the attention of this House to the fact that there are quite a number of legislations which seek to restrict the enjoyment of the right to privacy and the interference of same. A typical example is the Anti-Terrorism Act, 2008, The Narcotics Control and Sanctions Law, the National Communica- tions Authority Act, and quite a number of other legislations. Mr Speaker, the only problem we have with those legislations is that, they do not prescribe a sanctions regime for the violation of the right to privacy when it occurs. So that is a lacuna in the law, which must be dealt with. Mr Speaker, we were very conscious about that lacuna in our existing legislation when we attempted -- albeit without success -- to have the Interception of Postal Packets and Telecommunications Bill passed. That Bill clearly provided for
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for giving me the opportunity to comment on the Statement ably made by our Hon Colleague from Subin. Mr Speaker, the Statement touches on every member of the society whose privacy directly or indirectly may be invaded as a result of the new phenomena called the social media, the technological applications that are proliferating our new mode of conversations. Mr Speaker, I would like to urge this House to consider this and take it to another level for national dialogue. It is becoming an issue that deserves a better fora outside of Parliament where the clergy and stakeholders beyond this august House would be brought into deliberate on an issue that, we could call ‘‘the new electronic form of terrorism.'' Mr Speaker, individuals' reputations have been brought to tatters as a result of recordings that were not intended to be shared with the public. As a result, some people have lost their lives. Mr Speaker, the reason I really want to urge the advocacy is the videos that are being paraded on our social media; of individuals' lives, acts performed in private that for one reason or the other have found their way into the public domain. We are gradually becoming numb to these acts of invasion. We need to reiterate this and make a strong condemnation, where we need to draw the line between what is acceptable, what is the norm and what is palatable to share with the public, especially for those of us in public life when we have conversations. It could be us as Hon Members of Parliament or the clergy. We have conversations with friends and the next thing we know, it is being played on a national radio or it is being shared with the entire nation. Not everybody has the courage and capacity to withstand that kind of shock. People have lost their lives as a result of the misconstrued sharing of data unintended for the public. Mr Speaker, in recent times, we were given the unpleasant episode of a young girl and a school teacher, which brought total disrepute to the education sector; it was really bad. My concern is the unwarranted sharing of that information. When we turn on our mobile phones, as a result of the social media phenomena, it stares us in the face. Children below the age of 10 years, who are now fond of using their parents' mobile phones are subjected to this kind of visual display of things that would normally not be shared with children. Mr Speaker, as a nation and as a body that makes laws, and looking at the Electronic Communications Act and Data Protection Act, I would like this House to look at some of these laws. At what point is a conversation that is shared with somebody becomes private? At what point does a discussion with someone becomes proprietary? We need to look at our laws which do not infringe on freedom of speech, but at the same time, do not create the air of censorship, where people are also not free to share information. Mr Speaker, the Hon Member alluded to when we have conversations with people; we are very cautious. We may not even know who is listening and how it is being taken. It would in some way affect the way we discuss issues, where previously, we were at liberty to share information with colleagues, friends and family members. We have a lot of laws, but we would need to consolidate them. We would need to have a national dialogue on what is appropriate to be seen and shared with the nation. Is it regular to have two people engaged in a consensual activity displayed in the national media and on social media? At what point do we call that invasive and unacceptable? If we do not, as a people and as legislators, come to the aid of innocent victims, we would go back to a culture where people refuse to respond to telephone calls for fear of being recorded. It could be a life saving call. Mr Speaker, the Hon Member also alluded to other jurisdictions where there are laws that protect privacy. Where do we stand in terms of the invasion of privacy or recordings and national security? At what point does a person call in to give information that is appropriate to save the nation when there is an act of terrorism? Or where do we draw that line if it is a fluke? Mr Speaker, as a body that makes laws, let us take this seriously, because it could happen to you, me or a family member. Mr Speaker, these few words are to support the Hon Member who made that Statement, that we should go beyond this august House. Let us sensitise our communities, so they do not take it for granted that people who have built lives and reputations, do not need a second to bring them down in the space of freedom of speech. I thank Mr Speaker and urge my Hon Colleagues to take it up, because it could be us.
Yes, Hon Member for South Dayi?
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to contribute to this very important Statement. Mr Speaker, my Hon Senior and Colleague listed a number of existing legislations concerning this matter. Mr Speaker, I would refer to section 51 and 52 of our Evidence Act, (Act 323). It is these two sections that attempt to protect persons from when they suffer recordings of this nature. Mr Speaker, what am I saying? Section 51 says that it is only relevant evidence that would be admitted. So if things of this nature are recorded and it becomes a matter or a subject of litigation in court or prosecution, it can be shot down under section 51, or it can be admitted under section 51 if it is relevant. Mr Speaker, under section 52, it says that even though it is relevant, it may not be admitted if it prejudices the case, or substantially prejudices the case. Mr Speaker, recent reasonings of the Supreme Court in matters of this nature has shifted this jurisprudence, and even though some of these recordings are tendered in court and are supposed to be shot down under section 52 of the Evidence Act, they are actually overridden and admitted. Mr Speaker, I would make a special reference to the cases that involved some of the High Court judges a few years ago. It became a big issue and the Judges, who were affected actually attempted to resist the admittance of some of these
“No person shall be subjected to interference with the privacy of his home, property, correspondence or communication, except …” Mr Speaker, this is the point from where the Supreme Court dealt with the matter. It goes on to say that and with your permission I quote: “ except in accordance with law and as may be necessary in a free and democratic society for public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the protection of health or morals, for the prevention of disorder or crime or for the protection of the rights or freedoms of others.” Mr Speaker, the Supreme Court was therefore of the opinion that the recordings that were in question, even though illegally obtained, were done for the prevention of crime. So, they admitted that evidence, and it eventually affected those Judges. Mr Speaker, I am therefore in full support of this call, that yes, there are some of the existing legislations that concern this matter, but there are no sanctions or penal regimes covering them when they are breached. Mr Speaker, it is therefore important that as a House, we take a holistic view of these matters. This is because social media has become an important medium of communication and often some of these materials are just dumped into cyber space, and within minutes, they are found everywhere in the world. It is therefore important that we regulate these matters, look at sanctions that would apply if a person illegally does this and infringes the law. Mr Speaker, with these words, I would say that I am in full support of the Hon Member who made the Statement. Thank you very much.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I beg to associate myself with the good Statement made by my Hon Colleague from Subin. Mr Speaker, communication is so important that it has come to justify the essence of globalisation. Today, we would find people with far distance between, but the phone or communication is able to bring them very close. Mr Speaker, unfortunately, as human as we are, we tend to abuse that opportunity. For example, looking at the Statement of the Hon Member and I would beg to quote the ending of article 18 (2): “… For public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the protection of health or morals, for the prevention of disorder or crime or for the protection of the rights or freedoms of others.” Mr Speaker, sometimes, these are subjected to an individual's interpretation, unfortunately, human as we are, we are gradually becoming more animistic and sadistic in life. This is because our nature is beginning to change. Some people thrive on other people's sadness, when they grieve. Mr Speaker, the legal brains say, one has the right to throw his arms to any level, but unfortunately, his right to do so ends exactly where somebody's nose begins. Mr Speaker, unfortunately today people would want to use that as part of their economic living, especially hackers, impersonators and secret recorders, to the extent that with modern phones-- As a lay man as I am, I had a phone, not knowing that whenever I spoke to a third party, that phone recorded the voice of that third party. Mr Speaker, unfortunately for me, I did not know, but somebody took the phone out of my hand, pressed it, and I started to hear the voices of people. So, automatically, certain phones would record certain things. However, when we look at what our legal brains say, especially with what happened in the Supreme Court when a case surfaced, they said that the fellow was right for recording. Mr Speaker, in the United States of America, in Canada and the United Kingdom, when two people are talking, one can consent to record the third party. Why? So, for instance, I can decide to record a person, only to betray him. So, these days, it is even difficult for one to speak on phone. Mr Speaker, for instance, I am called and I picked the phone, I would want to know where the person I am addressing speaks from. Therefore, so long as the person is not my boss or a close friend, I would not extend my conversation to more than a minute. This is because I know that at the end of the conversation, the person could record me. Mr Speaker, today, as we speak, people have taken advantage of this. In today's Daily Guide, my attention was drawn to a particular picture, and when I went to have a look at it, the picture happened to be that of a pastor's wife. Her face and breasts were covered, and there were other parts of her body that one could not see well. Mr Speaker, the fellow who did that to her must have done it for economic venture, just to betray either the pastor or his wife, because her nude pictures had been posted. People make money out of publishing this kind of nudity. Mr Speaker, some people also threaten politicians and other people by posting the voices of some politicians on either Facebook or other social media platforms, they try to lure and deceive them, and take their moneys. Mr Speaker, I believe the time has come for us to have a serious approach to attitudinal change in this country. We must change our lives, because it all has to do with morality and trust. When talking to somebody, one must trust one's self that he is talking to somebody who trusts him and therefore he must be fair with himself and not record the person, and use it as a tool for betrayal. Mr Speaker, this Statement made by our Hon Colleague must be taken seriously. We must look into it. As legislators, what can we do to save others? It is not only about politicians, but also at our workplaces, and churches. Mr Speaker, even in the Mosques, when one is praying, people would want to record him or her. A person would be praying to God, and yet people would want to record him; they do not see God.
I am most grateful, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to contribute to this Statement. Mr Speaker, I wish to commend the Hon Member who made the Statement. It is a very delicate matter. How do we draw the balance between protecting privacy and law and order and ensuring that National Security is enhanced and supported in fighting terrorism and all the other crimes? Article 18 (2), which was quoted by the Hon Member for Subin, is very clear that it is not an absolute right that the Constitution grants, that in cases that the economic wellbeing of the country is at stake, the protection of health or morals, the prevention of disorder or crime or the protection of the rights or freedoms of others, there could be certain exceptions. Clearly, it is not an absolute right and so there is the need for us to balance the concerns that we have. Yes, we all have to ensure that privacy is respected, but we also need to address our minds to times that some of these methods have proved to be useful to the larger society. In the case of Ghana, I can cite the undercover investigations that the venerable investigative journalist, Anas Aremeyaw Anas, has been engaged in. Yes, some have concerns with the methods he uses but has the results not been in the larger national interest? I believe that majority of us would say that the outcome of his undercover investigations have largely helped us to fight corruption and crime. It has helped us to, as a country, even retrieve resources that could go to develop our nation. Mr Speaker, I refer, for example, to the work that he did at the ports where an undercover operation was able to uncover what some of our citizens who work in that department are engaged in. We also know what Anas Aremeyaw Anas did in the case of the Judiciary in which, as an undercover reporter, he was able to unravel some corruption in the Judiciary. There have been many other reports that undercover journalists have produced which have helped our society. We know that it is not new to Ghana and it is not a development which happens only in Ghana. I follow the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) panorama programmes regularly and I noticed that in Britain as well, that is a method that investigative journalists use. So, we always need to find the fine balance between protecting privacy and also the general ideals of society. Mr Speaker, the other concern I have is with the social media craze and how often, these footages have been made available, people share them even when they know that people's rights are at stake. There are three recent examples. As we speak, there is a report of the pastor's wife who had to even be rescued. A couple of days ago, she attempted committing suicide. She was sending a nude video of herself to her husband. She had captioned it, “This is for you when you return”. Unfortunately, she sent it to a church WhatsApp group and surprisingly, church members decided to share it. Now, we are told that the pastor's wife is really traumatised but people continue to share the video. That is the concern I have. I remember the recent incident of a gang rape involving a minor. We are told that even the young men involved are all minors, yet people continued to share against the right of the victim, the young female. Then there is also the headmaster and the school girl. Surprisingly, people decided to launch into a kitchen stool challenge and everybody was sharing. These things do not really help and we need to educate our constituents that there are consequences for these actions. The laws frown on this and one can be held liable for sharing and for further broadcasting and publishing such material. Mr Speaker, I would also want to use this opportunity to appeal to the National Communications Authority (NCA) that they can be more proactive in blocking these videos. We cannot just lament and sermonise and appeal to the good conscience of the general public that when they receive it, they should not share. There are others in society who get excited by these things and will continue to share them. We need the NCA. We know that technology exists for them to block it. I know that this has been done a number of times, especially when victims have approached the relevant authority. So, NCA should be more proactive in blocking these materials. Mr Speaker, I am told that the videos of these three recent examples I have cited are still in circulation -- the headmaster and the school girl, the gang rape and the pastor's wife who is threatening suicide. The NCA should be proactive and block these videos. Mr Speaker, the point has to be made that this whole social media craze, if one does not want to fall victim and does not want to cry after the horses have really bolted, should we not advise our constituents and the general public to stop the production of these things? Why are people so tempted to take videos of themselves naked or of their private parts?. No matter whom you send it to, who tells us that the channel is so secure that once you send it to your loved one, it is only he who has it? You have no idea where it ends up -- the processes that it goes through before it gets to the recipient. We should advise -- because sometimes when you hear all the stories, it is about, “I sold my phone” or “I sent my phone for repairs and it got into the wrong hands” or “My phone was stolen”. So to avoid all of these, why do we not just admonish each other to -- ?
Hon Member, are all those videos voluntarily made by the people themselves? Sometimes you are happy somewhere and
Mr Speaker, you are right, that there is the aspect of people recording others without their permission. I had talked about it earlier and said that it is a very delicate balance; how do you situate the national interest, the public good and that of the right to privacy? I talked about how in some instances, it had helped us especially, the work of undercover journalists but then, we must generally agree that it is becoming a phenomenon. You are in a meeting, you are having a chat with somebody and— people have lost their jobs and careers. I remember the case of a former Deputy Minister for Communications having a private discussion and she lost her job. And it is not clear if her political career would ever be resuscitated. So there are serious consequences that families have suffered because of this whole private recording business. Mr Speaker, but I just thought I broadened the discussion to look at even those who have voluntarily taken these videos; they have taken them voluntarily but they are not meant for the consumption of the general public and it is not meant to be shared to everybody. And there are several instances where some have been victims, yet you find out that people just keep sharing it. I believe the proposal for legislation is in good order and it is worth considering. I believe that when a proposal is made and the Bill comes before us, we would consider all these angles to it. But I believe strongly that we should urge the NCA to be on the lookout. They should have a desk and have officers in charge, where victims could quickly report to, so that they could block these footages from being further circulated. I believe that is where the damage is often caused. Whether it is recorded privately or done voluntarily or whatever, once the persons intention is not to put this out for everybody's consumption, I believe that the State should step in and protect the person. At least, salvage what is left so that it does not get out of control. Mr Speaker, with these few words, I commend the Hon Member who made the Statement. I believe that a national debate must be triggered and we have to find some solution of a sort to this. I thank you, Mr Speaker.
I will give the last word to the Hon Minister for Works and Housing.
Mr Speaker, I do not intend to be too long in my modest contribution to the Statement on the Floor. I am particularly elated that the Hon Deputy Minister, Hon Eugene Boakye Antwi could delve into this topical issue and bring it to the fore in this House. I have been a victim of secret recordings. What was it about? I was conferring with my client on matters which were supposed to be confidential and unknown to me; this client brought somebody who professed to be a priest and I was recorded and that became the raw material of a radio station. And they even pressed that I should be charged for treason. But thankfully, there was nothing that I said on the tape which warranted that I should be charged with the offence of treason. So, I am acutely aware of a scenario in which you are having serious confidential exchanges with somebody and unknown to you, you would be recorded. To a reasonable extent, if you knew that you were being recorded, you would not have divulged some serious matters. This is because you tended them to be private and confidential. So that is why I believe that this Statement is very apt because you cannot be sure whether people have really come to terms with article 18 (2) of the 1992 Constitution. Mr Speaker, I am of the humble view also that, when we have broad outlines in the Constitution in the form that it has been formulated, it is imperative that we have a legislation in which this good House could formulate a proper legislation on the back of the constitutional provisions and all the nuances and scenarios that could be captured we could put it together and have a serious punishment regime in the legislation so that traducers of the law would suffer consequences thereof. We are not safe; there is nothing which is private and there is nothing which is secret. You could even have somebody who is devious enough to record Cabinet engagements and then put it in the public domain. So that is what is very important and I am grateful that it has come to the fore. Mr Speaker, one worrying factor is that, because of technology, romance could commence on these phones. I have been a lawyer in a case a man in this country, by the power of the phone, was having serious romance with ladies in London and it created a huge and serious matter. So, are we now saying that people should not have romance on the phone or it should be moderated, as it were? Mr Speaker, these are matters of serious and fundamental — especially, those of us in this House if you could not contain yourself and you believe that you should have serious romance on your phone, you could be a victim.
Hon Minister, I do not know; how do you have romance on the phone?
Mr Speaker, I do not know whether I could define it but anything that by reason of distance, you want to excite somebody, you could use the power of the phone to secure some immediate enjoyments and pleasures. Therefore, if distance is now inhibiting what is natural and romantic, this machine has the tendency to help you in some
Hon Deputy Minister, you have been persistent. I will give you three minutes to make your point. Deputy Minister for Railways Development (Mr Andy K. Appiah- Kubi)(MP): Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. I would like to commend the Hon Member who made the Statement and the contributions made so far. All the contributions have been an invitation to you to start the process of legislating. Unfortunately, everybody's focus is on the offender, rather than the victim. I would want to commend all my Hon Colleagues for making their contributions, but I would want to also suggest that in the event that we want to start the process of legislating, let us look at institutions for victims of such offences. Mr Speaker, you would recall that in the case of the Republic vs Abel Adusei, in respect of causing fear and panic, a letter from the then accused person to another person was considered as a private communication under which the victim could have filed a suit for defamation. In the present circumstances, if we have such a situation, the victim cannot go to court to claim damages. Therefore that victim would be left with nothing, although the offender would be punished. Mr Speaker, in a recent case, Mrs Abena Pokua Ackah vs Agricultural Development Bank -- if you care, I could give you the citation -- the holding of the court per Justice Dotse was that the victim who had been dismissed upon private communication, had been restored to her position of employment. Beyond that, she was left with nothing. Albeit, that information had been circulated throughtout the trial and beyond, and there were publications which came out of the trial. So, if we are minded to legislate, let us not legislate in respect of bringing sanctions for offenders alone. However, let us also consider the victims of such publications, be it private or considered as offensive to the interest of the victims. Mr Speaker, with these few words, I thank you.
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity. I also commend Hon Eugene Boakye Antwi, MP for Subin, for bringing this matter on the privacy of communication to the fore, even though in respect of his call, I might disagree with him along the lines on what Parliament could do and what Parliament should do by way of legislation. Mr Speaker, the mobile phone is not only used today for voice or short message services (SMS). It is a universal tool and it is used to store, process and remit data. In this era of smart phones, we are practically asking for the impossible. Once you have a smart phone, embedded in it is a camera which is for the purpose of taking photographs. Once you have your phone connected to Wi-Fi or broadband and have access to data, including internet data and spam that you might not be interested in but have -- I agree with many Hon Members who spoke earlier, that today, the phone is an emergency tool. If you need urgent medical attention or when a crime is being committed, our most reliable weapon to alert the security, whether the police or fire service, is the mobile phone. Mr Speaker, my first advice is to the Ghanaian. We should stop the reckless and irresponsible use of the mobile phone. That is personal. Legislation cannot and would not stop it. Legislation is not practical. Why? Can I not miss my wife or child? I do, I use it to find out their location. As long as one uses a smartphone, legislation would not help him or her, neither can it stop it. Mr Speaker, to agree with him and he is seated with my senior in the law-- no right is absolute. Mr Speaker, you know that as a lawyer. That is why the Constitution in the very article he quoted -- I hope that I can paraphrase same. It says in article 18 (2) of the Constitution that and with your permission I quote:
“No person shall be subjected to interference with the privacy of his home, property, correspondence or communication except in accordance with law and as may be necessary in a free and democratic society for public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the protection of health or morals, for the prevention of disorder or crime or for the protection of the rights or freedoms of others”. The emphasis is on “communication”. So, your right to speak ends with my right to not listen. It is fundamental. You say you have the right to speak and I have the right to not listen. Mr Speaker, public safety and morality -- that is why I said I disagree with my Hon Colleague. For instance, in the Office of the Special Prosecutor, Act 2017 in particular, if we go to the section on communication, we have granted the right to intercept. I hope I have some time. There is a difference between intercepting a call and recording a call. Recording a call is actual and live where you are with the participant. Interception could be done later, depending upon whether it is voice, SMS or internet. They are not the same. We now have what we call an industrial espionage. I agree with the Hon Member that confidentiality of information and its protection for personal and business purposes must be respected and upheld. Mr Speaker, a Russian friend of mine told me that there is a secret between three persons if two are dead. So, if a person allows more than these two to have access to his or her information and goes about saying he or she has a secret -- what secret? Mr Speaker, again in Ghana, our posture that one should not talk much because he or she is recorded is exaggerated. I was a former Hon Minister for Communications for some period and I say that it is exaggerated. The only institutions that are allowed to record are the telecommunica- tion companies. That is why sometimes when one remits a text message and it delayed, they have it, so that at any time that one is not within a network coverage, it would be dropped as and when one gets a network coverage. Mr Speaker, I recall that when I was the former Hon Minister for Communications, I tried to develop what we call simless, so that if a person was traveling from Obuasi to Bekwai and it is Airtel or Tigo network which had good signal and the person was an MTN or Vodafone subscriber, the person should be able to have access because of the phone as an emergency instrument. This is because between that period accidents could occur, threats of deaths or deaths could happen; births could happen and one would want to use the mobile phone. Mr Speaker, there is Haruna Institute in my Constituency which manages the Constituency and they do that to satisfy my constituents in terms of knowing what to do and what not to do. Personal to me, apart from email, I do not do any social media. I have heard people exaggerate about me being on Facebook or WhatsApp -- I have never been. This is because we have had some training somewhere. Mr Speaker, every communication that one drops goes into a headquarters; New York in the United States of America (USA). Therefore, one could be held responsible. So, even with the pornographic material one shares, the day the US would decide in Pentagon that they would want to share any person's personal data, they could because they have it. [Interruption] -- Is the innovation our intervention? It is theirs. Mr Speaker, I had the privilege to work with Prime Minister Harper of Canada and President Kikwete of Tanzania sometime back on children and womens' health using ICT devices. There is a publication to it and we have cautioned. Mr Speaker, the long and short in Ghana is that we abuse the mobile devices as smart phones. Every day, people even look to articulate supremacy and superiority of ideas -- that is not its essence. The essence is that, as probably you were looking out here and could not find the Hon Majority Leader or Hon Minority Leader, sitting in your coolness, you could send a text message as “Hon Leader, where are you”? and it would serve a purpose. Also, if a person would want to enter a home and would want to alert the owner of the house that he or she is arriving so that the owner would know that it is not armed robbers who are coming towards his or her gate, the person could say, “I am three minutes or five minutes away”. Or if there is a medical intervention where a doctor is needed, one could send a text message. In Ghana, we abuse the mobile phone and its usage; that is not what social media was intended to achieve. It is to build social cohesion. It has undermined many marriages. I have said on the Floor of the House before -- sometimes, when a person is where he or she should not be, and he or she would want to give an excuse because his or her spouse is looking for him or her -- one would want to use the mobile device to say “am on my way”. Mr Speaker, I hope I could dilate on this point. The mobile phone has become an instrument to build strong social cohesion even within families. For instance, if a husband is away and his wife is wondering where he is -- he might be at a ceremony and could take a snap picture to let her know that at that material time, that is where he is for the truth --
Hon Minority Leader, that is if he wants to tell the truth -- [Laughter] -- else, he could snap the picture elsewhere.
Mr Speaker, I am guided, but we should use the mobile phone because it is closer to the truth. That is its essence. Therefore one has to share the details, but not every morning, who woke up well and who did not wake up well, who is dying, who is not dying -- why? Mr Speaker, my disagreement with the Hon Antwi is that, in the Special Prosecutor's Act, we have said that they have power to intercept. So, when he said Parliament should legislate, what should it legislate on? That power has already been given.
Mr Speaker, as the Hon Ranking Member for the Defence and Interior Committee, the Hon Agalga said, there were initiatives -- I would go to the realm of politics and conclude with Hon Atta Akyea's romance and share some dangers in that word with Hon Colleagues. Mr Speaker, after the September 11, 2001 incident, public safety and national security now supersedes all other factors. In the era of terrorism, we could only be strategic that -- Why is it that when one boards an aeroplane, one is told to switch his or her phone? This is because it could affect the software or hardware of the movement of the aeroplane. There is a reason and a purpose why mobile phones are switched off in the aeroplane. That interference could cause an undesirable air accident; a person seating far away could use it to undermine the safety of the aeronautical regime that is being used. Mr Speaker, in the USA, after the September 11, 2001 incident, Congress passed a certain Act and that is what Ghana must look at going forward. Mr Speaker, I pray that Hon Antwi's Statement provokes it. We should have a common national position on this matter. Should we intercept it or not? What should we intercept? Crime must be intercepted and nobody should debate that. Any crime whether it is financial crime or any other crime. Mr Speaker, these days, when crimes are committed, at the scene -- even with accidents, there are people who send phone recordings. That is useful and productive and we must encourage that. So, if Hon Antwi says that we should legislate that people should not record, no. The legislation is self-discipline at avoiding recklessness. Mr Speaker, I would want to end with what Hon Atta Akyea said. Those who want distant sex or romance on phone, they go on smart phones and search for it -- their joy is faraway. They do not want the physical interaction which would give them the joy. They want it faraway. Mr Speaker, we know the laws in this country's pornography, but we do not respect it. Hon Antwi must ask us to enforce the laws. Mr Speaker, what is even more worrying is child's pornography. I am amazed at my son's excitement in wanting to have access to a mobile phone every morning. If you do not check him - as parents type their passwords, they curiously watch and sometimes they are able to get it on. That must be of concern to every Ghanaian parent -- the children's exposure to child pornography. Mr Speaker, in Ghana, newspaper headlines have pornographic pictures and the National Media Commission (NMC) is quiet, the National Communications Authority (NCA) is quiet. They cannot be quiet. They must exercise this kind of control. Mr Speaker, that is what is called the “flexispy”. They do not need us to know what they are doing. Mr Speaker, but what is more dangerous is that-- Hon Atta Akyea has said it, but he was probably more cautious because he is on the Floor of Parliament. It is the way we manage our romantic and sexual lives. Like it or not, political office holders, Members of Parliament, Ministers, Pastors, Reverend Ministers are targets for blackmail. And probably for those who do not pay enough to the young girls, the way to get them is to record you naked and they would then have a good bargain at blackmail. Mr Speaker, so we should be wary of all those things. But I do agree with the Hon Member who made the Statement, except as I have said, we should appreciate the phone as an emergency instrument, make a distinction between call interception and call recording. Once a person has a mobile device which is a smart phone and it is connected to Wi-Fi internet and the person does voice and data, the person cannot avoid many of those things. The mobile phone is now used for processing, organising and receiving data. Mr Speaker, the days of voice is gone. The use of the mobile phone today is data and that is why everybody is on text. We predicted this like seven to nine years back at the International Telecom Union. Many legislations in Ghana would have to be updated. Mr Speaker, while we discuss this, we should be looking at synchronising data. The National Communications Authority (NCA), National Health Insurance, Births and Deaths Registry and the Electoral Commission are all holding on to data, yet we are found wanting when we need information on certain personalities and what they do. We should work towards a harmonised regime. Mr Speaker, let me once again, conclude by thanking the Hon Member who made the Statement. But as I said, the best way to avoid these scandals is self-discipline; privacy must be protected and respected. But I am afraid legislation may not be able to resolve it. We must just ensure cautious use of the mobile phone and stop its continuous abuse in this country. Mr Speaker, I appreciate how much radio and television discussions have been enriched with the use of the smart phone. Those were the objects of social media but not the everyday abuses and the “we know it all” et cetera. So, it is a commendable Statement made by Hon Eugene Boakye Antwi, but I do not share the idea of legislation because we have gone past that mark. Mr Speaker, I repeat that we need to build a national consensus as our own far reaching pro-activeness to fight terrorism and other economic and organised crimes, in accepting that the security agencies, where necessary, must be allowed to intercept, but cautiously whiles we safeguard this drive. This is because some communication, when it is shared — We can imagine a text to a girlfriend shared with a wife. I know how many wives weep helplessly when they have access to the mobile phones of husbands. And we know how many men panic when their wives move closer to their mobile phones. But at night, when you sleep, you do not know what she is able to do with the phone. And that is why I say, it has threatened families and threatened social cohesions, and men and women-- We all need to be guided. Mr Speaker, I would not share a personal experience, but one day, when I have a female bag in this Chamber, I would show you how smartly they can get an innocent man into their grip. Just the bag that they hang, they would put it with the camera tilting in the direction of a particular innocent man — You want to
Hon Members, on the note of the experience of the Hon Minority Leader, I invite the Hon Majority Leader to comment if he so wishes.
Mr Speaker, I thank you very much for the opportunity to also support the Statement made by Hon Member for Subin. This is a very important Statement, and I believe that, as he said to us, we can go forward to propose some legislation to deal with this matter. The Hon Minority Leader is indicating to us that perhaps, we have lost it already. I believe that we still would be able to deal with this matter in some way. Mr Speaker, the Hon Member who made the Statement premised the Statement on article 18(2) of the Constitution and it has been sufficiently extrapolated. I would want to move a bit away from what he has said. Mr Speaker, I would rather want to engage our attention on the provisions of article 21(4) of the Constitution. Mr Speaker, article 21(4) on General Fundamental Freedoms require us, in such instances, to legislate. And I believe if we apply ourselves to it -- because we are dealing with laws that are reasonably required for the purposes of safeguarding the people of Ghana. Mr Speaker, that is what the Hon Member is urging on us to the extent that article 21(4) provides same, and I beg to quote: “(4) Nothing in, or done under the authority of, a law shall be held to be inconsistent with, or in contravention of, this article to the extent that the law in question makes provision — (e) that it is reasonably required for the purpose of safeguarding the people of Ghana against the teaching or propagation of a doctrine which exhibits or encourages disrespect for the nationhood of Ghana, the national symbols and emblems, or incites hatred against other members of the community;” Mr Speaker, as the Hon Minority Leader was addressing the House to — So, it is important that we begin to look at these matters. And that is why I agree that some form of legislation may be required in this. Mr Speaker, again, I agree with the Hon Minority Leader and indeed the Hon Member who made the Statement when they indicate to us that what we are experiencing now has the potential of jeopardising our personal and national securities. Mr Speaker, I agree with the Hon Minority Leader -- That being the case, shall we fold our arms and say to ourselves that we cannot do anything and that we have been overtaken by technology? I do not think so at all. Mr Speaker, again, I would want us to look at the provisions of article 41 of the Constitution, which is on duties of a citizen. Article 41(a) provides, and I beg to quote: “The exercise and enjoyment of rights and freedoms is inseparable from the performance of duties and obligations, and accordingly, it shall be the duty of every citizen — (a) To promote the prestige and good name of Ghana and respect the symbols of the nation; (b) to foster national unity and live in harmony with others;” If a person goes and records somebody the way they have been doing — if a person goes and snaps pictures of individuals the way they have been doing, does it promote harmony in society? It certainly does not. Mr Speaker, I can share the concerns of a constituent of mine, who was in her bathroom and whiles taking her bath, somebody applied himself to the small opening there — Apparently, he hanged on something and took a picture of the lady. She saw the person but could not really identify the person. She saw the movement of somebody behind the bath, she started shouting, the person escaped but the person had taken her nude picture. In two days, that person had started circulating the picture. Where are we heading to as a nation? That is why I believe article 41 on the duties of citizens should concern all of us. Mr Speaker, with your permission subsection (d) of article 41 provides that, it shall be the duty of every citizen -- “… to respect the rights, freedoms and legitimate interests of others, and generally to refrain from doing acts detrimental to the welfare of other persons;” What these people do is in clear breach of article 41. Clearly, it is an obvious breach of article 41, and as a Parliament, are we saying we should fold our arms and not do anything? They are matters that should concern us. Mr Speaker, again, on the wings of what the Hon Minority Leader said, promoting criminality, we should question whether what we do contributes to the well-being of the community where that citizen lives as stipulated in article 41(g). So, there are germane matters provided for in the Constitution, that the actions and activities of our citizens are breaching on daily basis. That is why I agree with the Hon Eugene Boakye Antwi that it should be the concern of Parliament to apply ourselves to the relevant provisions in the Constitution, and in this case, I believe it is article 41-- and formulate the relevant legislation to prevent this occurance. Otherwise, we do not know where this country would be heading to in the next five years. Mr Speaker, I am not on Facebook. But somebody has created a Facebook account using my name and image just four days ago -- I am told that I am in smock and a hat. I am told just three days ago, that he is soliciting seriously for money through that account.
Hon Majority Leader, a moment. Having regard to the state of Business, I direct that the House Sits outside the regular Sitting hours.
Mr Speaker, I know that you have divine interest in the subject matter and because of that you decided to look at the time.
I just wanted to remind you of the time in which we are.
Mr Speaker, so, just to end on the note that it is important for us in the interest of national security or personal security of promoting common existence, that we apply article 21 of the Constitution and also look at the provisions contained in article 41 of the Constitution to fashion out the appropriate legislation to combat this emerging menace. I thank you.
Very well. Hon Members, a very well discussed Statement. I believe we are done with that. I believe that on our discretion and the times in which we live, we should all be watchful. Hon Majority Leader, one item is outstanding. Are you ready or we should bring proceedings to a close?
Mr Speaker, the matter, which is numbered item 5, has been stood down. The Special Committee is having some discussions and I am told they are meeting to do some reconciliation of the Report that was to be laid. An Hon Member has raised a couple of issues; they have agreed to meet at 4.00 p.m. to harmonise the Report and lay it tomorrow. After it is laid tomorrow, that Report would be debated on Tuesday, next week. That is the agreement Leadership has come to with the Committee. I thank you.
Very well. Hon Members, in the circumstance, it is exactly 2.00 o'clock and therefore I adjourn proceedings.
The House was adjourned at 2.01 p.m. till Friday, 2nd February, 2018 at 10.00 a.m.