VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS AND THE OFFICIAL REPORT
Hon Members, correction of Votes and Proceedings of Friday, 9th February, 2018.
[No correction was made to the Votes and Proceedings of Friday, 9th February, 2018.]
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to make this Statement in respect of how the current free Senior High School (SHS) policy of the Government of H.E. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo could be financed to ensure sustainability of the programme. Mr Speaker, taxes are the income that the Government receives from us, the
a. To sustain a programme that the future of the country depends on. It is said that education is the backbone of a nation. It is also known that the youth makes the chunk of Ghana's population. Free SHS means empowering the youth of Ghana to take up key res- ponsibilities in the industrialised society we seek to create, so as to extricate our society from the current Guggisberg economy. The teeming youth will find well- paid jobs to do in the value chain of the various industries that will spring up because a person educated to Senior High School level is, at least, equipped to work in any non-technical or non-specialised environment. This will prevent our youth from going to seek greener pasture in countries like Libya, where they are exploited as illegal migrants. Not too long ago, we were hit with the sad story of slave trade in Libya, a country in Africa. The story though sad, tells us that the Ghanaian youth is desperate to succeed at all cost and must be given the necessary assistance to realise his/her dreams. One can imagine if all these desperate and zealous
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to contribute to the Statement ably made by my good Friend on the other side, Hon Afenyo-Markin, in respect of raising funds to support the free SHS policy. Indeed, it is a policy that the Government has rolled out, which obviously has been seen and considered to be laudable. It is a policy which indeed, is pro-poor; and by the stretch of one's imagination, would definitely, if very well implemented, give a lot of young people who hitherto may not have the opportunity of educating themselves to do so.
Hon Member, thank you very much. At this stage, we had agreed that there would be one contributor from each side because of other Business ahead of us. So, in the absence of any person on my right—
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity. Mr Speaker, we have all listened to what has been put out. The Hon Member who made the Statement did a very good job by trying to remind us of the benefits of this very laudable programme. We are here because we have been educated to a level which brought us here. Those of us from very typical villages could all attest to the fact that a lot of very brainy students have turned out to be, excuse my language, palm wine tappers because they did not have the opportunity. Some of them have gone so low that if they had had the opportunity that nwe had, they would have been medical doctors, engineers and top personnel in Government service, giving out a higher productivity to the country that we all want to promote dearly. Mr Speaker, if we sit here and recognise that there is a lot to gain from this Free SHS Policy, then funding it should not be a topical argument. It is good to start along a line, make sure we improve on what we have done, and make the best out of it. The ultimate is that we should get all our people to the levels that we are. If not to our levels, at least, above or closer to us. Now, if we go back and look at the statistics, we realise that a lot of people have gone wayward because they did not have the opportunities that the SHS programme offers the people. So, if we recognise that there are gains to be made, then let us please take the funding of this SHS programme more seriously. Mr Speaker, now, the GETFund has been successful, the NHIS has been successful, and if there is a window to have an SHS Fund, I believe it would be in the right direction. Nothing more is good enough for the task that we have ahead of us. We should all put out heads together and roll behind the wheels. Mr Speaker, at the recent delivery by the Hon Minister for Finance, he even talked about voluntary contributions. I can tell that all of us attest to the fact that when we go back to our villages now, we are making contributions towards this good goal. There are a lot of people who are still prepared to give us more, if the window is opened, and more people would be prepared to do this. There are a lot of us who went through hardship before getting the little qualification that we have. I believe that the generations to come should not be subjected to this manner of things that we went through. Mr Speaker, the business community is prepared. It is only that we are trying to put an adverse argument -- there are a lot of companies that are offering scholarships — [Interruption.] — There are a lot of companies in Ghana here offering scholarships to their personnel. Some give study leave and scholarships to the children of their workers. They build schools for their people. One can go to my village and Newmont has built a school in one of the communities. Newmont, by building the school for the community, would be prepared to do a lot of these things. There are a lot of Non-Governmental Organisation (NGOs) — Plan International builds schools and puts up orphanages, and would see this as a laudable effort to be supported. Mr Speaker, now, we are also, looking if we have a very good intention, we need not bring and incur all costs before we move on a laudable road. This is because people would be prepared if the move is made. Therefore, we need not sit here to say that if we do not have a stakeholders' meeting for people to come and drink coffee and koko — until that time, there cannot be any good thing done. There are a lot of good things that we can do. As Hon Members of this august
House, we have good intentions for the people we represent. So, if we need to develop the people and bring them —
Hon Member, wind up.
To a level that is acceptable, let us please have a good standing on this, and make sure that we can have a good funding that is sustainable and can support whatever has been started. Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity.
This ends Statements time. We would move on to the Commencement of Public Business. Item numbered 4 — Hon Yaw Boaben Asamoa? Leadership has agreed on 25 minutes for you, and 20 minutes for the Hon Member.
Yes, Hon majority Leader.
Mr Speaker, I want to crave your indulgence to alter the Business as set out on the Order Paper to allow for the laying of a Regulation by the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources — I am talking about the Minerals and Mining (Ground Rent) Regulations, 2018.
Thank you very much. Presentation of Papers by the Hon Minister for Lands and Natural Resources. The Hon Majority Leader is inclined to do so. Hon Minority Leader, any objection?
Mr Speaker, we have no problem.
Very well. Hon Majority Leader, you would please proceed.
Bonsu — rose
Yes, Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, this is a Regulation, so, it must be referred to the Committee on Subsidiary Legislation.
Very well. It is accordingly referred to the Committee on Subsidiary Legislation. Hon Yaw Buaben Asamoa, you have 25 minutes.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that this Honourable House thanks H.E the President for the Message on the State of the Nation which he delivered to Parliament on Thursday, 8th February, 2018. Mr Speaker, in moving the Motion, I wish to recognise the still contested space of what the content of an address of the State of the Nation ought to be. Article
2024; an Agenda for Jobs, Creating Prosperity and Equal Opportunity For All”. Instead of two years, our President has delivered in ten months. Mr Speaker, in this document, which I would want to emphasise carefully, the President states that future messages on the State of the Nation would be used to assess progress of implementation of programmes in this document. So, in other words, not only dose this House has a full and comprehensive address per the Constitution, but true to his strong personality, adherence to principles and courageous style, the President's actions have directly challenged this House to also use its full representative, deliberative, legislative and oversight powers to match and track the vision of the President as it unfolds. Mr Speaker, in other words, the President hurried to confront Parliament with his documented vision way ahead of time. It is pregnant with the opportunity to strengthen Parliament as we apply our constitutional powers to dissecting that vision and holding the President to it. Such a stand demands that Parliament works with one responsible accord and determination to serve the best interest of our constituents. Of course, it does not mean that the Minority cannot put its foot forward as it has already done in its alternative address to the State of the Nation delivered to the public of Ghana. Mr Speaker, arguably, however, in the face of very grave deficits of institutional and constitutional governance, weak institutions incapable of dealing with waste, fraud and abuse in the public
the Office of Special Prosecutor and the election of District Chief Executives (DCEs). All that one has to do in this country is to say a Government is corrupt and we are likely to topple it. Most changes of Government since Inde- pendence, whether constitutional, authoritarian or junta, have always used corruption to one extent or the other. Violent and peaceful changes, not- withstanding, attempts at fighting corruption, have been only fair to poor up to now. The historical experience of the destructive influence of corruption is what drove the drafters of the Constitution to enshrine the fight against corruption in the Constitution. So, if one goes to the preamble of the Constitution of the Republic of Ghana, with your permission, it reads: “In the name of the Almighty God, we the People of Ghana…Freedom, Justice, Probity, and Account- ability;”
The Directive Principles of State Policy, article 35(8) is very clear. With your permission, it states: “The State shall take steps to eradicate corrupt practices and the abuse of power.”
“(f) to protect and preserve public property and expose and combat misuse and waste of public funds and property;… (j) to declare his income honestly to the appropriate and lawful agencies and to satisfy all tax obligations;” Mr Speaker, the State demands that you and I fight corruption with all our strength, might and will. Mr Speaker, it is no wonder that nearly five (5) pages of the alternate State of the Nation Address by the Minority appear to find corruption within the new Government. Five pages! Whether it is true or farfetched, as far as one can shout and scream, and somehow make it stick in the public minds, then probably one is on his or her way to securing an election point. What else could the President have done? [Pause.] Mr Speaker, it is unprecedented in African politics that the single most powerful office beyond the Government is headed by a person of an opposing ideology to the President. If for nothing at all, the President would be remembered for that singularly audacious move.
Hon Members, order! Hon Member, do you stand on a point of order?
Mr Speaker, I am surprised that the Hon Member is rather here to deliver a speech with praises on the President instead of speaking to the document. That is my problem. The Hon Member should be guided.
Mr Speaker, he should be guided. He is rather speaking as if he was giving a speech; showering praises on the President instead of speaking to the document. Mr Speaker, I need your guidance.
Hon Member, you should know the guidance already. You are out of order. Hon Member, go on.
Mr Speaker, thank you very much. His Excellency the President spoke clearly about going to the nation to conduct a referendum --
Hon Member, please, proceed.
Mr Speaker, I am very grateful. His Excellency the President needs our support. Mr Speaker, if MP and DCE are elected, then we would not be mere passengers at the district level any more. Our roles in this House would be better defined, and I argue that the small funds that are used to attempt to make us show up in the constituency, can be used to support us to deliver better and quality services in the pursuit of our core functions in this House. Mr Speaker, let me now turn to the economy; article 36 of the Directive Principles of State Policy deals directly with the economy. Indeed, the admonition at article 36(2) bears stating. It says: “The State shall, in particular, take all necessary steps to establish a sound and healthy economy…” Mr Speaker, who better would endorse this remarkable achievements than the achievements that matter when it comes to economic performance in our part of the world. After all, where did the Minority seek policy credibility when they were in dire straits? --They went to the World Bank. The World Bank, in the Daily Graphic of Thursday, January, 8th 2018, page 28, and I beg your permission to quote: “But a year after the government of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo took power, fiscal credibility, a recovery in credit growth and expansion outside the resources industry mean that the country's standing isn't just the result of growth slowing in Ivory Coast and Ethiopia.” Mr Speaker, a recovery in fiscal space and credit growth in one year. Bloomberg and other experts also have this to say; “Investors will look to see if Ghana can maintain financial discipline after years of chronic over- spending”... The economy -- let us listen to this carefully, “The country turned to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for an almost $1billion bailout in dollars in 2015 as spiraling debt and high inflation pushed the cedi into freefall after the budget deficit ballooned to more nine per cent of gross domestic product”... In those years when the economy fell ill, we all know which side of the House was in charge. As we sit here, the inherited inflation of 19.2 per cent has slowed in record time within a year, to a little over 11 per cent. This has driven interest rates down, with a dramatic fall in lending rates from between a bank rate of 36 per cent to 39 per cent, to about 26 per cent to 29 per cent. Thereby, doubling credit to the private sector and we have seen Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grow from a three -- decade loan of 3.6 per cent as at December 2016 to 7.9 per cent.
Hon Member, you have fives minutes more. You may continue. Yes, Hon Member?
On a point of order. Mr Speaker, for the records, my Hon Colleague who is moving the Motion is talking of inherited inflation of 19.2 per cent. What I know, for the records, is that the inflation figure that was handed over to them was 15.4 per cent but not 19.2 per cent. He should set the records straight because everything is being documented.
Hon Member, you may continue.
Mr Speaker, thank you. Let me quickly dwell on the need for reliable statistics in our economy. Even though we are headed in the right direction, we all believe that we have a difficulty with statistics: objective incontrovertible statistics. So, the President said in this room that figures do not lie, and yet the Minority found a way of justifying all the debt figures as well as all other figures in their Minority State of the Nation Address to the world. We need to retool that part, otherwise the measurement of progress becomes apocryphal; one says that it is half full and the other says it is half empty. We need to also beef up the private sector -- targeted identification. In conclusion, we need to applaud the tenacity, honesty and impartiality of the President with respect to the environ- ment. Knowing very well the dangers of confronting illegal mining, His Excellency has reiterated his commitment to fighting galamsey even at the risk of his political future and that --
Hon John Jinapor?
Mr Speaker, this is a House of records. Our Hon Colleague mentioned “19 per cent” as the rate of inflation at the end of year 2016 --
Mr Speaker, I refer to the Budget Statement presented to us by the Hon Minister for Finance. Paragraph 63 of the Budget says end period inflation for the year 2016 was 15.4 per cent against a target of 10.1 per cent”. Mr Speaker, “19 per cent” cannot find its way. I therefore make a passionate appeal to you, that the Hon Member is made to withdraw that figure of “19 per cent”. We cannot allow 19 per cent to go in our records because that was not the end of year inflation.
Order! Hon Member, if you are talking about two competing figures, at the appropriate time, you will well make reference to it and then we shall verify accordingly. Would you please be patient because both would be part of that is exactly what should be done. There is plenty of opportunity to contradict a figure with another competing figure, and people would be able to draw their conclusions from that statement if accurate. Hon Member, you may now conclude.
Mr Speaker, in March 2016 --
Yes, Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I have listened to you ruling and I believe that we should go along with it.
Mr Speaker, with your permission, I would seek to point them to the statistics of the Ministry of Finance --
Hon Member, please, your concluding remarks.
Mr Speaker, in conclusion, this House has the power to represent millions, the power to deliberate on behalf of millions, the power to legislate and bind those millions to what we legislate and the power to oversee and protect the rights of the millions who have voted us into this House. Mr Speaker, let us use that power to balance Executive authority, check Executive authority effectively and support the delivery of the vision of the President for enhanced economic growth, social development and better entrench- ment of rule of law. Mr Speaker, I so move.
Hon Dafeamekpor, would second the Motion.
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion ably moved by my Hon Brother on the other side, Hon Yaw Buaben Asamoa. Mr Speaker, in so doing, I would want to say that my Hon Brother sought to define to this House the essence or parameters for the State of the Nation Address, but I do not think that what goes into the State of the Nation Address is in doubt at all. Mr Speaker, what are we talking about? The Government came to this House on Monday, 31st July, 2017, through their mid- year fiscal policy review of the 2017 Budget Statement and Economic Policy. Mr Speaker, in that policy review document, a lot of economic policy positions were canvassed, therefore, at the end of the year, we were hoping that His Excellency the President would tell us the review they under took and what actually happened at the end of 31st December, 2017. Mr Speaker, I beg with your permission, to refer particularly to paragraph 169 under Capital Market Developments. It says; “Over the past six months, we have started the process of lengthening and normalising the yield curve, lowering benchmark interest rates, and pursuing macroeconomic stability, to position the capital market for growth.” Mr Speaker, as we speak, two banks collapsed within the year, but His Excellency did not touch on that. As we speak, the cedi has depreciated so much against the international currencies, especially the US dollar, to the extent that today the cedi to the US dollar is GH¢4.80. [Interruption.] Mr Speaker, then they are not in this country.
Hon Minister, do you rise on a point of order or correction?
Mr Speaker, I would want my Hon Colleague to explain to us what constitutes the collapse of a bank. Mr Speaker, that is factually incorrect because we only announced what happened during their time. The banks never collapsed in the year 2017 but they collapsed earlier and they hid the facts from the public so he should not come and tell us that the banks collapsed this year. Does he know the processes that we go through? Mr Speaker, thank you.
Hon Member, you may continue.
Mr Speaker, thank you very much. Mr Speaker, paragraph 153 of the same policy document is to the effect that. Under the government's industrial transformation agenda, the government would implement the One District, One Factory (IDIF) initiative, therefore, a programme of implementation framework which sets the modalities of implemen- tation has been prepared. “To date, the technical support group for the programme has already reviewed a total of 234 business plans received for the 1D1F initiative. About 59 per cent of these applications are from the manufacturing sector while 33 per cent are from the agribusiness sector. It is envisaged that the more than 50 districts will start actual implementation of their enterprises by the end of the year, with the potential to generate 80,000 direct and indirect jobs.” Mr Speaker, we were expecting His Excellency the President to tell us that when they said that 50 districts would start actual implementation of these enterprises, how many actually did it. Mr Speaker, it was missing in his Address. Mr Speaker, now, may I touch on employment.
Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I have been on my feet for close to five minutes and it is now that you are recognising me but I would not fight you. When other Hon Member get up and you do not recognise them, then they begin to fight you. This is the difference. Mr Speaker, my Hon Colleague is on his feet to second a Motion but he is critiquing what the Hon Member who moved the Motion said. We may want to know from him whether he is seconding the Motion or not, because there are rules -- [Interruption.] Could Hon Members please listen? Mr Speaker, there are rules in this House and if an Hon Member moves a Motion and an Hon Member rises to second it, then it means that the Hon Member concurs with what he has said. That is the rule, unless any Hon Member could point anything different from what I am saying. So, if the Hon Member is not concurring then with respect, he may resume his seat for somebody to second and then he comes in. Mr Speaker, he cannot rise to disagree with the Hon Member who moved the Motion. It is as simple as that.
Hon Member, you may simply resolve the issue by saying that ‘I rise to second the Motion and in doing so', then you could say what you like. [Laughter.] Hon Member, so, reformulate and let us make progress.
Mr Speaker, indeed, I stated that, I rise to second the Motion but in doing so I would say the following.”
Hon Member, ‘and in doing so', not “but”.
Mr Speaker, thank you for your guidance. Mr Speaker, I am saying that even though the Motion moved by the Hon colleague should be seconded, it is essential that we point out certain things
Hon Member, please proceed.
Mr Speaker, I want to say further, that for instance, under employment, earlier in the year when the President met the media and he stated his policy position for the past year and his policy position for this year, he made it categorical that he could not tell us the number of employment they have generated as a government. So, we hoped that when he got the opportunity on 8th February, 2018, he would have gathered his figures to be able to tell us how many jobs his Government -- considering, importantly, that he rode to Office on the back of creating jobs and employment for the youth in this country. Mr Speaker, but he did not. Mr Speaker, the only thing he spoke about was the fact that they intend to implement a policy that would generate about 3,000 jobs. For the creation of 3,000 jobs that are even yet to be done, what happened in the year 2017? That is what we are interested in because that is the year under review. Mr Speaker, the issue about 745,000 jobs within the agriculture sector came up. For instance, even in my district, South Dayi, I have gone round and I have not seen any new farmer who has come to join the group of farmers as a result of the introduction of new policy. So, how could we say that new people have been given the opportunity for jobs within that subsector? These are very important matters. Mr Speaker, we are also saying, that indeed, in one of the policy documents, it is stated that they have created employment for so many people within the National Youth Agency (NYA), but what has happened is that persons who are already serving in these areas were dismissed and new persons recruited. Indeed, we have not succeeded in creating jobs; we have only succeeded in replacing one Ghanaian with another. So, we were just marking time; we cannot count that as creating jobs since others within the economy also lost jobs. Mr Speaker, I would touch on the Judiciary. The Judiciary is a very important organ of government. I listened to the President carefully, and I did not hear from him the policies that he implemented
Be getting ready to conclude.
Mr Speaker, I would speak about the situation prevailing in our tertiary institutions. The universities, the colleges of education and the university colleges are beginning to churn out application forms at exorbitant fees, and I hope that as the President fights to bring free -- or to make access to secondary education free at the secondary level, he would pay attention to the economic bar that is gradually being created at the tertiary level. Mr Speaker, we would come to naught when we have free access to secondary education and after that, because of economic reasons, one is unable to access tertiary education. I hoped that this would reflect in his State of the Nation Address; I did not see it. Mr Speaker, by way of conclusion, I would touch on the road sector. I would refer you to paragraph 536 on page 101 of the 2018 Budget Statement and Economic Policy document. It says that: “In 2018, Some of the key roads programmed for continuation include: Construction of bridge on the Volta River at Volivo Nsawam-Apedwa Road (Kwafokrom - Apedwa Road) Tamale - Yendi Road Bolgatanga - Bawku - Polmakom Nkwanta - Oti Damonko Road” Mr Speaker, a litany of roads were cited as due for continuation, but interestingly, same number of roads were stated in the 2017 Budget Statement for continuation. I was hoping that His Excellency the President, would tell us the extent of work that has been done on these roads because we know, for instance, in my constituency in the Eastern Corridor, that the contractor has been asked to go and the construction of the road is in abeyance. Mr Speaker, we speak of the State of the Nation Address, and so the state of affairs is what we ought to be told about but not the declaration of intentions of projects we intend to do. That is not what is supposed to reflect in the State of the Nation Address. Mr Speaker, I would conclude by saying that, yes, I second the Motion, as ably moved by my Hon Brother and that the Motion should be subjected to a thorough debate in this House.
Thank you very much, Hon Member, for so ably seconding the Motion. Question proposed.
Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I guess we could take an adjournment at this time and come to continue tomorrow. As you are aware, the Hon Member for Effutu is programmed to leave Ghana for an Economic Community of West African State (ECOWAS) Parliament Business early tomorrow morning, so the application was submitted that he makes his contribution; unfortunately, he has left the Chamber. Mr Speaker, that being the case, I guess we could take an adjournment so he forfeits his place and continue tomorrow.
We agreed on the formal moving and seconding of the Motion with one contribution from each side of the House, and to continue from tomorrow, if all be well. Therefore, Hon Member, I believe in line with our earlier discussions, it is an appropriate time to leave. We also know of other assignments and committees that are at work, and a few other issues.
Mr Speaker, even though that was agreed upon, the ECOWAS issue was also raised, and today being a special day because the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is meeting in Tamale; the Committee on Local Government and Rural Development, having also invited some District Assemblies to meet them in the committee rooms and the Appointments Committee also meeting to vet the nominee for the Office of the Special Prosecutor, clearly, a lot of committees are sitting concurrently as we sit here. Therefore, if the Hon Leader of the House has indicated, and the Motion has been moved and seconded for adjourn- ment and to reconvene tomorrow to begin thorough debate on the Motion, it is a step in the right direction. So, I would not differ at all.
Hon Majority Leader, respectfully, have you formally moved for adjournment?
No, Mr Speaker.
You may do so.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that we adjourn until tomorrow at 10.00 in the forenoon.
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion for adjournment. Question put and Motion agreed to.