Hon Members, correspon- dence from the President dated 19th March, 2018.
Hon Members, I have the pleasure to introduce to you, leader of the opposition party of the Parliament of Zambia by name, Hon Jack Mwiimbu. He is here on a one-week study visit to Ghana. He is accompanied by the Deputy Clerk, (Journals), Mr Jimmy Sabi. They are here, among others, to benchmark best practices and share experiences in the handling of an opposition caucus and spear- heading the caucus' agenda in Parliament. The visit is also intended to create the platform to promote networking between our leadership and their Zambian counterparts with the aim of deepening relations between the two Legislatures. Hon Members, on your behalf, I wish them fruitful deliberations and a pleasant stay in the country They are most welcome. Hon Members, Leadership has already met them.
VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS AND THE OFFICIAL REPORT
Hon Members, Correction of Votes and Proceedings of Friday, 16th March, 2018.
[No correction was made to the Votes and Proceedings of Friday, 16th March, 2018.]
[No correction was made to the Official Report of Friday, 2nd March, 2018.]
Mr Speaker, respectfully, the Hon Minister for Agriculture is not within the jurisdiction of Ghana and has therefore delegated that authority to the Hon Deputy Minister for Agriculture to Answer the said Question for and on his behalf. So, Mr Speaker, I ask your leave to allow the Hon Deputy Minister for Agriculture to answer the said Question for and on his behalf.
Hon Minister, kindly take the appropriate seat. Hon Asafu-Adjei?
MINISTRY OF AGRICULTURE
Mr Speaker, with your permission, I would like to withdraw the Question on the basis of relevance. By the time I filed this Question, the indicators were in negative territory. As I speak, inflation has declined, exchange rates have now stabilised and cocoa price has also gone on the upwards range.
Question numbered 330 on the Order Paper, the Hon Member for Keta.
ORAL ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS
MINISTRY OF AGRICULTURE
Mr Speaker, before the commencement of Business, the Hon Deputy Minister for Agriculture and I talked about how to locate this document on the website on MoFA per the address he has given. Mr Speaker, that document, as he is aware, is not on the website. I would like him to prove to this House if indeed the document we talked about can be found at the website of the Ministry of Agriculture.
Hon Minister, do you have any proof with you here?
Mr Speaker, I am surprised my Hon Colleague has made that claim. If we go to the website that I have given, under programmes, the first one that we would see is ‘Planting for Food and Jobs. It is there, when we click on it, it would give us a summary document on the policy. We cannot put about 300 pages of the document all there. I showed him the detailed one, he saw it. I opened it for him, which he read and was happy, so, I am surprised that he has come back to say that it is not there. He can go to the website right now, under programmes, it is there. He would get a brief summary of the whole programme there.
Mr Speaker, what the Hon Minister referred to is titled ‘‘Planting for Food and Jobs frequently asked questions'', What he claims he showed to him is a Pdf on his phone and not at the website of the Ministry of Agriculture. Mr Speaker, this question was filed last year at a time when a Minister of State for Agriculture indicated that the programme has no implementation plan. Subsequent to that, one would have expected that, by this time, the Ministry would have come out with an implementation plan, but it still does not exist, to the extent that, we are being told that, the hard document is still in print. Meanwhile, last year we were told that 745,000 jobs were created under the programme Planting for Food and Jobs. Under which implementation plan were they able to create the 745,000 jobs?
Hon Deputy Majority Leader?
On a point of order. Mr Speaker, Standing Order 63 is so clear, and it is our guiding principle on how Questions should be asked in this House. Mr Speaker, per Standing Order 67 (b), it states, and with your permission, I read; “a Question shall not contain any arguments, expression of opinion, inferences, imputations, epithets or controversial, ironical or offensive expressions or hypothetical cases;” Mr Speaker, the Hon Member who asked the Question has taken this opportunity to debate, make inferences and imputations. I would plead with you to direct that the Hon Member goes straight to the point and asks questions, and save himself of all the commentary which is not permitted under our rules.
Thank you, Mr Speaker --
Hon Ayariga, I see you are holding the relevant book. I would give you the opportunity.
Mr Speaker, I actually intended to ask a follow-up question, but I do not think he has exhausted his three supplementary questions.
Were you not going to respond to the argument on the floor?
No, Mr Speaker.
Very well. Hon Member, you are totally out of order. Put yourself in order and proceed.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I intend to ask questions and not to comments. I would like to find out from the Hon Deputy Minister when this document was ready and the date that it was put on the website, and when the hard copy be ready?
Mr Speaker, this document had been in the system since last year, but if my Hon Colleague wants, I can just print a copy for the consumption of the whole House --
Hon Members, if you keep on saying ‘when', when at the background by way of just noise, it does not help the dignity of this House. We all know Ministers do not carry these things about, and if the Hon Deputy Minister is good enough to give us an assurance, we would go by it. Hon Minister, can you give us some assurance?
Yes Mr Speaker, I have it here; I can provide it after Sitting --
Thank you very much. We can do some of these things without these unnecessary things, to say the least.
Yes, Hon Ayariga?
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. The Hon Deputy Minister said that, a document has been lodged on their website for us to understand how the ‘Planting for Food and Jobs' Project is being implemented. Mr Speaker, this House approved GH¢ 700million for the implementation of the ‘Planting for Food and Jobs' project. It was captured in the Appropriations Act, (No.2.) Under article 296 of our Constitution, the implementation of the project would necessarily involve the exercise of discretionary power. By our Constitution, is the Hon Minister supposed to publish it on their website or to come back to Parliament by way of Regulations, Statutory and Constitutional Instruments under article 296 or it is just a document to be put on their website? Mr Speaker, should the Hon Minister come here by way of Statutory Instruments outlining how the project would be implemented or by a document just published on their website?
Hon Member, websiting could just be a prelude, which is the modern way -- Order! -- of providing information generally even if a document has to be laid before the House. At the appropriate time, we can talk about a document whether laid or not laid, which should be laid before the House. So, you cannot ask the Hon Deputy Minister to answer that now. That was not why he came.
So, Mr Speaker, if you would disallow the Question.
Please, the Question is allowed for the simple reason that, something being published on the website does not mean that a person has not fulfilled an obligation that he has to fulfil in due course. So, he may take steps regarding that at the appropriate time. But that has nothing to do with that particular Question at this time. So, let us make progress.
Yes, Hon Deputy Minority Leader?
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, the Hon Deputy Minister said that, the document is available to the public and currently the hard copy is in print. Mr Speaker, I would like to find out from the Hon Deputy Minister, ‘Planting for Food and Jobs' Programme, which is a flagship programme for the current government, has been running for almost 15 months now; the whole of last year and three months into 2018-- Did the Hon Deputy Minister tell this House, and for that matter the people of Ghana that the document for a government flagship programme, which is being implemented has been in print for 15 months? How long would it take to come out of print?
Hon Deputy Minister, did you get the question? Otherwise, you are free to let the Hon Member repeat. Please, answer the question.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. The document had been in existence. I have clearly indicated that the hard copy is in print now. But I have the document and I have promised the House that by close of Sitting today, I would table it. So, I do not know why the Hon Member insists that there is no document; there is a document which I have promised to make available to the House. [Interruption.] A brief of the document is on the website, but I would make the hard copy available to the House. [Interruption.]
Hon Members, Order!
Hon Asafu-Adjei, do you intend to proceed with the normal Question? The non-Urgent Question?
Respectfully, Mr Speaker, I would like to ask the Question.
Or is it also caught in the plague of withdrawal?
Mr Speaker, that cannot be withdrawn. Planting for Food and Jobs -- expected increase in food production in the cropping season Q. 354. Mr Kwame Asafu-Adjei asked the Minister for Agriculture the arrangements being put in place by the Ministry to ensure that in the upcoming cropping season, the expected increase in food crop production emanating from ‘Planting for Food and jobs' programme is marketed effectively with minimum post-harvest losses at the farm gate.
Mr Speaker, minimizing post-Harvest Losses under the PFJ programme has been given serious attention. Reducing post-harvest losses of the grains, legumes and other food commodities is very essential under the Marketing component. Post-harvest losses as indicated here includes on-farm losses (involving such activities as threshing, winnowing, drying) and losses along the chain during haulage, storage/warehousing and processing. Within the implementation framework of the PFJ, such losses are being minimized through: i. Improving handling systems: farmers are being encouraged to use simple mechanized reapers or harvesters, dryers, as well as good transportation methods. ii. Ensuring availability of efficient storage and warehousing infrastructure. Under the PFJ, efforts are in place to put up 45 warehouses of about 2,000MT capacity each in a number of locations across the country. These warehouses will serve as the food buffer stock hubs of the country. Mr Speaker, further to that, the Ministry has sought assistance from USAID/Agricultural Policy Support Project (APSP) to train all registered Local Buying Companies (Aggregators) in warehousing and grain storage and grain quality assurance. In all 1,303 of them are receiving the training.
Yes, Hon Member, any follow-up question?
Mr Speaker, is the Hon Deputy Minister aware that the Day Food Distribution Corporation had silos and other warehouses across the country and if so would his Ministry be in the position to rehabilitate those warehouses? [Interruption.]
Yes, Mr Speaker, the Ministry is aware -- [Laughter]-- we have even started rehabilitating some of the warehouses to make sure that we keep some of the bumper harvest stock in them. We are taking steps to ensure we rehabilitate those ones in addition to those ones that we would want to construct.
Hon Deputy Minister, would you consider putting up a warehouse at the Nsuta/Kwamang/ Beposo Constituency -- [Laughter.] Since it is a major food basket in the country?
Mr Speaker, it is the responsibility of the Ministry to ensure that wherever there is a food basket that we need to keep proper storage of food items, we provide enough warehouse facilities. So, I can assure my Hon Colleague that if the Ministry thinks that we have to put up a warehouse there, we would do it.
Mr Speaker, I am done.
In view of the general nature of the Question, Hon -- Dr (Mrs) Bernice Adiku Heloo -- rose
Mr Speaker, the Hon Deputy Minister in his Answer indicated that, under the Planting for Food and Jobs Programme, efforts are in place to put up 45 warehouses of about 2,000 metric tonnes capacity. But Mr Speaker, on 19th April, 2017, H. E. the President of the Republic of Ghana, launching the Planting for Food and Jobs Programme in Goaso, promised ‘‘one district, one warehouse''. What has changed such that, now they talk about 45 warehouses?
Mr Speaker, 45 warehouses does not mean that is the end. It is a process. All the warehouses cannot be built within one year. So, if we have built 45 warehouses this time, it is to tell us that, by the time the four years come to an end, those districts that have to get the warehouses would get them.
Mr Speaker, on page 1, paragraph 4 of the Order Paper Addendum, the Hon Deputy Minister indicated that the government is improving handing systems and that farmers are encouraged to use mechanised reapers or harvesters et cetera. I would like to know if the farmers already have these reapers, harvesters and dryers. Were they given to them for free? Are they paying for them? Do they have them now because they are already reaping the yields of the crops?
Mr Speaker, the Ministry tried to encourage every farmer to get it. These equipment are in the open market, so we tried to encourage the farmers to get those tools to make sure that they could also keep their produce in a good condition. As I speak, the Ministry has not given any equipment free of charge to any farmer but we encouraged them to get them so that they could keep their produce in a good condition.
Mr Speaker, may I enquire from the Hon Deputy Minister that, since the launch of the ‘‘one warehouse, one district programme'' in October 2017, six months ago, how many of these warehouses have been completed and are operational?
Mr Speaker, I did not envisage this Question from the Hon Member -- [Laughter] -- But I can get the information for him. It is not farfetched.
The last Question.
Mr Speaker, paragraph (ii) of the Hon Deputy Minister's Answer on page 2 of the Order Paper Addendum reads and with your permission, I beg to quote: “(ii) Ensuring availability of efficient storage and warehousing infrastructure. Under the PFJ, efforts are in place to put up 45 warehouses of about 2,000 MT each in a number of locations across the country…” Mr Speaker, the Hon Deputy Minister said that by the end of 2018, they would finish the 45 warehouses that he talked about. There is no timeline here. So, they are telling us they are going to provide us with 45 warehouses? So, the ‘‘one district, one warehouse'' question that the other Hon Member asked has not been answered.
Mr Speaker, the Question did not ask for timelines, so, I am surprised the Hon Member asked for timelines. I have indicated that, plans have been put in place for 45 of these warehouses to be constructed and I assure the Hon Member that those warehouses would be constructed. The ‘‘one district, one warehouse'' policy is a flagship project by the government and we are going to make sure that it is done. So he should not be worried about it. He should just be patient to wait and see whether it is done or not.
Any question by Leadership?
Mr Speaker, in the Hon Deputy Minister's Answer, the last sentence says and with your permission, I beg to quote: “This effort is helping in the stabilisation in the food prices across the country.” Mr Speaker, the last report by the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) on inflation in December last year suggests that food inflation is part of the reasons inflation went up in November and December 2017. If the Hon Deputy Minister says the availability of food has stabilised prices, can he tell us which data he uses to determine whether food prices have stabilised? This is because, according to the GSS, food prices are going up and that is why inflation is going up. So, if he could help us understand the source of his data, that would be very helpful.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Member talked about December 2017. We are in March 2018. Today's inflation has come down. [Interruption.] It is not the same as December 2017, it is 10.8 per cent. So, if he compares the inflation of December 2017, which was above 10.8 per cent, definitely, we cannot have the same answer. [Interruption.] Yes, in December, it could be that the prices of food items were up, but I can tell him that, in March 2018, it is different. When one goes to the market, one would have relatively lower prices than in December 2017.
Mr Speaker, I quoted an official document to tell the Hon Deputy Minister that inflation went up. He did not quote any document. In fact, is there a GSS data in March 2018 that says food prices have gone down?
The Hon Deputy Minister does not have to quote anything. Hon Deputy Minister, thank you for coming to answer our Questions. Hon Mubarak, Hon Member for Kumbungu. 11. 38 a. m.
MINISTRY OF PARLIAMENTARY
Mr Speaker, it had been work in progress since 2013. I would want to find out from the Hon Deputy Majority Leader what has led to the delay in ensuring that the work on the Codes of Conduct is complete.
Hon Deputy Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, as it is evidenced in the Answer, the Code of Conduct was completed in 2014. And that was in the previous Parliament. Mr Speaker, I would want to assure the Hon Member that Leadership has taken up this matter seriously and in this current Parliament, the Committee of Privileges would have a look at that as well as the Manual and bring closure to the matter. Thank you.
Mr Speaker, finally, I would like to find out from the Hon Deputy Majority Leader if the work that is being done would ultimately inspire confidence in Parliament? This is because there seems to be a collapse of trust in Parliament.
Mr Speaker, I would want to give the firmest assurance to the Hon Member that indeed, the Code of Conduct is expected to bring more integrity to the institution of Parliament and Hon Members as well. And for that matter, it would be an inspiration to all of us to carry out our duties to the best of our abilities as expected of us by our constituents, who have voted us to represent them in this House. I thank you, Mr Speaker.
Yes, Hon Member?
Mr Speaker, we thank the Hon Deputy Majority Leader for her answers. But she had already stated that the codes had been worked on since 2014. For us not to be overtaken by time again, could she give us some timelines that could ensure that, we could do this in the life of this particular Parliament?
Mr Speaker, I very much understand the anxiety on the part of the Hon Minister to ensure that an institution of this august nature like Parliament has Codes of Conduct for its Hon Members. I would want to give him the assurance that in the nearest possible time, we would complete work on it when it is referred to the Privileges Committee. Mr Speaker, it would come back to this same Floor for Hon Members to debate on. When we all have agreed that it is a whole comprehensive document that we are willing to work with to bring integrity, standards and ethics to our parties as Hon Members of Parliament, we would do so within the shortest possible time. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Hon Okudzeto Ablakwa, I missed you narrowly.
Mr Speaker, I am most grateful. Mr Speaker, I rise to ask the Hon Deputy Majority Leader if there could be room for Hon Members of the House to contribute to the process so that there could be general ownership. This is because, she indicated in the last but one paragraph that: “The Technical Committee has since developed the Manual pending validation by the Committee of Privileges and Leadership of the House”. Is it possible for Hon Members to also make inputs so that we would all own the process and the eventual Manual on standards and ethics so that nobody on both sides of the House can say that he or she was not really part of it, disagree or their concerns were not taken on board; so that it could be a document owned by the entire House? I thank you, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, rightly so. I have taken on board the concerns of the Hon Member. I believe that Leadership would consider same irrespective of the fact that it is the Committee of Privileges that has been charged to look at the Manual that has been prepared by the Technical Committee. But again, we need that much inclusiveness and our rules ordinarily allow for Hon Members to be co-opted onto such a Committee to bring out their diverse opinions and contributions to make it a holistic document. We have taken same on board. I thank you, Mr Speaker.
Thank you very much. Hon Members, at the Commencement of Public Business, item listed 6 on the Order Paper -- presentation of Papers. Item listed 6 (a) -- Hon Majority Leader/ Leader of the House?
I can see the Hon Deputy Majority Leader is still in the seat for answering Questions. Hon Deputy Leader, you are discharged. And you may now take your proper place as the Hon Deputy Majority Leader. Just the shifting of chairs and then you will please deal with item 6 (a).
Mr Speaker, with your permission, the item is to be laid by the Hon Majority Leader and I seek your leave to lay the Paper.
Please, do so.
Item 6 (b), Hon Minister for Defence? By the Minister for Defence— Agreement between the Govern- ment of the Republic of Ghana and the Government of the United States of America on Defence Co- operation, the Status of the United States Forces, Access to and use of Agreed Facilities and Areas in the Republic of Ghana. Referred to the Committee on Defence and Interior.
Yes, Hon Member?
Mr Speaker, with your indulgence, is it possible we refer this to both Committees on Defence and Interior and Foreign Affairs? This is because it appears it has some dimensions beyond Defence.
The mere fact that it is related to two countries does not really implicate the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration. Except rather that it is an Agreement, and a legal document. I would add the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliament Affairs, so that they would consider the entire legality. [Interruption.] I have ruled accordingly.
Mr Speaker, I know per the rules, when you have ruled and one wants to ask for a deferment in your ruling, one would have to come by a substantive Motion. However, respectfully, for the Paper that was just laid, the Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Ghana and the Government of the United States of America, could you add the Leadership of the Committee on Foreign Affairs to that Committee? I believe that Foreign Affairs obviously has a role to play in that. So, I make that humble appeal --
Kindly save me from that temptation. The essence of this matter is a legal document. Those in charge of legal matters should join the Committee on Defence and Interior, whom it concerns and then we would have a Report. Item numbered 6 (c)?
Mr Speaker, respectfully, could we step that one down and take item numbered 6 (d)?
Item numbered 6 (c) is not ready?
Mr Speaker, item numbered 6 (c) is not ready, so we would skip it and move on to item numbered 6 (d) on the Order Paper.
Item numbered 6 (d), Hon Chairman of the Committee? [Pause.] Is item numbered 6 (d) ready? Item numbered 6 (e), “e” for egg.
Mr Speaker, both items numbered 6 (d) and 6 (e) are not ready.
Item numbered 6 (f)? Hon Chairman of the Committee of the Whole? Is it ready? By Ms Adwoa Safo (on behalf of the Chairman of the Committee) -- Report of the Committee of the Whole on the Proposed Formula for the Distribution of the National Health Insurance Fund for the year 2018.
Item numbered g (i) and g (ii)? By the Chairman of the Committee -- (i) Report of the Finance Committee on the Request by the Government of the Republic of Ghana for the Issuance of the 2018 Sovereign Bond and Global Depository Note (GDN) to use: (a) US $ 1.00 billion to finance the 2018 Budget (b) US $ 1.50 billion to refinance maturing external bond (i.e. the 2022 and 2023 Eurobond and (c) GH ¢500.00 million to refinance expensive domestic cedi denominated debt. (ii) Report of the Finance Committee on the Protocol between the Republic of Ghana and the Swiss Confederation Amending the Convention of 23rd July, 2008 between the Republic of Ghana and the Swiss Confederation for the Avoidance of Double Taxation with Respect to Taxes on Income, on Capital and on Capital Gains and its Protocol.
Item numbered g (iii)?
Mr Speaker, item numbered g (iii) is not ready. I have asked the Table Office to take it off until further notice.
Thank you very much. Item numbered 7 on the Order Paper -- Presentation and First Reading of Bills. Ghana Integrated Bauxite and Aluminium Authority Bill, 2018. Minister for Lands and Natural Resources?
Mr Speaker, I would want to ask leave of you for the Hon Deputy Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, to lay the Paper on behalf of her Minister who is currently not within the jurisdiction. Thank you.
Hon Deputy Minister?
BILLS -- FIRST READING
Item numbered 8 -- Motions -- Minister for Finance?
Mr Speaker, the Minister for Finance is on his way here. We ask that this one be stood down for a while. We would come back to it in a while.
Does that mean we cannot handle it in his absence?
Mr Speaker, there are a few issues he wants to speak to and we are trying to address them.
So, in a way, it is not ready? Hon Deputy Majority Leader, item numbered 9 -- Motions -- What do we do with that?
Mr Speaker, before Motion numbered 9 on the Order Paper -- respectfully, on the Paper that was laid on the Ghana Integrated Bauxite and Aluminium Authority Bill, you referred the Bill to the Committee on Lands and Forestry. Respectfully, if the Committee on Mines and Energy could be added -- there should be a joint referral. Not Lands and Forestry but should be --
Mines and Energy accordingly.
Mr Speaker, the referral should actually go to the Committee on Mines and Energy. They are in charge of the mineral resources. It is the Committee that has oversight of the mines aspect of Lands and Natural Resources. So, every time there is a referral on natural resources, it goes to the Committee on Mines and Energy. As a matter of fact, the Committee on Lands and Forestry should not be added at all. This is bauxite.
Mr Speaker, I think it is the Hon Minister for Lands and Natural Resources who is laying the referral they are talking about. We can only add the Committee on Mines and Energy to it because, primarily, we are talking about land. What it would be used for is mining. Therefore, I think that it should be a joint referral for the two Committees.
Hon Members, it is very important for us to ask ourselves what the actual subject matter is. It is bauxite and a natural resource -- It is bauxite so which Committee or where does bauxite fall in this order of things? The Ministry is Mines and Energy and if it is so, then let us simply put this for the Committee on Mines and Energy. Save that as for the Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee, they would help to assist in determining the legal dynamics of what is being done; therefore, the Committee would be Mines and Energy. These things overlap sometimes, that if we do not take care, we would let -- I waited and heard all and I hereby rule accordingly. Hon Deputy Majority Leader, shall we move to the next item? What is happening?
Mr Speaker, the Report on item numbered 9 is ready, so, we can take that Motion. Mr Speaker, the Hon Chairman of the Committee, who is your First Deputy Speaker is not in the House today, but I am an Hon Member of the Committee and would want to ask leave of you to present the Report, if you so allow.
Hon Deputy Majority Leader, you may do so.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that notwithstanding the provisions of Standing Order 80(1) which require that no Motion shall be debated until at least forty-eight hours have elapsed between the date on which notice of the Motion is given and the date on which the Motion is moved, the Motion for the adoption of the Report of the Committee of the Whole on the National Health Insurance Fund for the year 2018 may be moved today.
Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion. Question put and Motion agreed to. Resolved accordingly.
Hon Members, Item numbered 10 on the Order Paper. Report of the Committee of the Whole on the Proposed Formula for the Distribution of the National Health Insurance Fund for the year 2018
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that this Honourable House adopts the Report of the Committee of the Whole on the Proposed Formula for the Distribution of the National Health Insurance Fund for the year 2018. Mr Speaker, in doing so, I present the Report of your Committee.
Hon Minority Leader, do you second the Motion?
Mr Speaker, the Hon Ranking Member of the Committee was on his feet and this is now the full policy issue --
Hon Yieleh Chireh, I did not observe you, please, go on. Hon Members, order!
Mr Speaker, I second the Motion and I would want to make a few comments. [Interruption.] I am the Hon Ranking Member for the Health Committee. Mr Speaker, if we read the observations that were made by the Committee, it is important that we look at each of these topics very carefully. It talked about funding gap, and if we talk about funding gap, one of the issues we should look at is that, with the formula for this year, there is a funding gap of GH¢1.81million. If this Fund had not been capped, this would not have been necessary. This is because, in the Budget Statement, about GH¢400 million was capped from this levy and if it were added, we would even have had a surplus and not a gap. Mr Speaker, secondly, the performance of last year was good, but it is because the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) did not accredit some key public sector health service delivery points. If they had done so, the funding gap would have been bigger. Mr Speaker, I would want to urge that they make sure that they accredit, particularly, Community-based Health Planning Services (CHPS Compounds), health centres and health posts which are the ones that deal primarily with people who cannot have access to healthcare. Mr Speaker, it is important that we should also be informed clearly as to the capping of funds. If they are capping a fund and they ask other people to make contributions, there would be a contradiction. I believe that we should tidy up the Act, allow the funding to be properly channelled and if there are inadequacies, then we can ask the Trades Union Congress (TUC) or other agencies to help leverage the work of the NHIA. Mr Speaker, if you also look at the Formula, the Ministry of Health has key issues to deal with. They have to fund certain activities, particularly, the purchase of anti-malaria drugs, procurement of vaccines and what have you. Sometimes, all these are shifted unto the Formula. I believe that for whatever reason, we should begin to reduce the dependence of the Ministry of Health on the Fund to allow them to function more effectively. What the Ministries of Finance and Health should do is to make sure that they actually allocate separate sources of funding rather than come and depend on the Formula where some activities are funded, particularly, malaria eradication and control -- all these are sometimes funded by the NHIS. Of course, there is logic in it; the more we prevent people from getting malaria, the less they would be dependent on the NHIS but that is not the main purpose.
Mr Speaker, during the consideration of the Formula brought to us, we looked through and I remember I acknowledged the fact that, this year, there has not been any provision for a funding gap -- they have not overspent. In the past, the Authority used to bring expenditures that are above the expected income. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Finance never provided for it in the main Budget Statement and that had created problems for the Scheme over the years. But we noticed this year that, there was no over- expenditure; the funding gap was zero and we had cause to say kudos to the NHIA. Mr Speaker, but when you look at the main budget on page 184, Appendix C, you would realise that GH¢499,058,400 had been realigned from the Fund to the Special Initiatives and Priority Projects. But when you go through the Formula submitted, you do not find expression in it. For instance, an amount of GH¢311,988,400 had been earmarked from the Fund for the Health Insurance Scheme for the payment of nurses training allowances but it does not find expression here in the budget. I looked at the compensation figure and it is GH¢168 million. So, it becomes a problem as to how this would be funded. I do not know whether it is hiding somewhere and if it is there, maybe I would seek clarification to that. Mr Speaker, secondly, I have noticed that support is being given to the Ministry of Health for procuring contraceptives worth GH¢2,100,000 and I do not know whether that also has become the responsibility of the NHIS. I do not know whether it is going to be the purchase of condoms or other forms of contraceptives. I believe we need a clarification on it. Mr Speaker, also, you would find out that, an amount and Gh¢25 million has been allocated for the capturing of 60 million claims data. I do not know whether it is a new system that is going to be installed or operational cost of the system that they have for capturing claims data. I believe it is a little on the high side if it is just for the operation of the system that they have for the capturing of claims data. Mr Speaker, I believe that apart from these concerns that I have, I go in for the approval of the Formula. I thank you, Mr Speaker. Some Hon Members — rose --
Yes, Hon Member -- you were the first to stand up.
Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity. Mr Speaker, I beg to support the Motion and in doing so, I would make some few remarks. Mr Speaker, we need to support the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) to achieve its purpose. It should rightly be so because, now, we have the evidence that, the Scheme is in a very severe distress. Mr Speaker, I would refer you to page 8 of the Committee's Report which talks about Active Membership Coverage. It states, and with your permission, I quote: “The Committee observed that active membership coverage of the Scheme in 2017 stood at 37% with the Country's population of 28,956,587…” Mr Speaker, in 2016, with all the challenges facing the NHIS, the coverage was 39 per cent. In 2017, the coverage of active membership is 37 per cent of the total population. Mr Speaker, in order for the Authority to perform -- [Interruption.] Mr Speaker, listen to something in the same Report, and with your permission, I quote: “The NHIA has estimated to cover 42 per cent of the projected population of 29,028,484 in 2018.”
Please, conclude. [Uproar.]
Mr Speaker, in conclusion, I support that we approve the funds for the Scheme in order to enable the NPP Government to work hard to revive the Scheme now that we have the evidence that they are moving it towards a total collapse.
Contribution from Leadership?
Mr Speaker, I beg to contribute to the Motion before us and to say that the Hansard in this House would prove how that I have been very consistent in raising this issue. Mr Speaker, if we pick the Appendix ‘C' which is attached to the Report and look at how we intend to use the resources in 2018, the list of support by the Ministry of Health is growing longer and longer. The sad thing is that, when the Hon Minister for Health was on this Side of the House, he and I used to advocate strongly against this. Mr Speaker, all these started in 2007 when there was a shortfall in the funding for vaccine and we all agreed that just GH¢5 million should be used to support the expanded programme of vaccination to cover children. Today, if we look at the list, it has grown so tall that, sadly, almost everything is there. Mr Speaker, it is true that the core function of the Ministry of Health is to encourage prevention. So, if we are to use that as a basis, then, almost everything that the Ministry of Health does should find expression here. But the challenge with this is that, if we look at this same Appendix “C”, number 1.0, Claims Arrears for 2017 is GH¢ 181.74 million. What this means is that, if all their resources are given to them, they still cannot pay claims to the tune of GH¢ 181 million to Service Providers. But, Mr Speaker, even this one was agreed in the meeting as provisional because, the law permits persons to submit their claims three months after it is due. It means that this figure that they have captured as of the time they were coming with the Formula can change because up till 31st March, 2018, people could still bring claims that they did not anticipate. This means that, even the GH¢ 181.74 million is a conservative figure even if all their resources are given to them. Yet, we intend to approve for them GH¢164.8 million for the Ministry of Health and its activities. Mr Speaker, if we talk about the Antiretroviral Medicines, Ambulance Service, support for Allied Professional Council Project, Rabies, Vaccines and others, they are not as painful as when the Ministry seeks to construct a health training school with an allocation of GH¢ 13 million; supply of lifts with an allocation of GH¢11.5 million; and also help service providers with system integration. Mr Speaker, with this integration that we see here, if we turn to the next page of Appendix ‘C', we would see several IT activities that are for integration with the National Identification Authority (NIA) and many others. This is worrying because, at the time that the NHIS is craving for additional resources, we should not siphone the resources through this method. It is painful. Mr Speaker, I would want to invite you because we have had this -- I really wish the Hon Majority Leader were here because at the Committee he said, “Let us make this the very final.” For the past six years, we have said that this would be the last one but it would be repeated. Every year has been the last one. The Hon Majority Leader agreed with me at the Meeting that, we should invite the Hon Speaker to send notice to the Ministry that, this would be the very last one, to build a training school with the funds from the NHIS and to provide lifts to hospitals with funds from NHIS after it has been capped by GH¢ 400 million. Meanwhile, the Act that regulates the NHIS says that they cannot use more than 10 per cent of their resources for non-core business. Mr Speaker, the total amount here is GH¢2.3 billion and 10 per cent of it is not more than GH¢230 million, yet capping alone has taken GH¢400 million. Apart from that, if we even take the pains to add the non-core as it is in this Formula, then it is about 12 per cent which is above the threshold which we have given to the Fund as a House. Yet we have to approve it and every year, we hear that it would be the last time. Mr Speaker, if you look at the next page --
Hon Minority Chief Whip, please, would you conclude since the Hon Minority Leader would also want to make a few comments?
Mr Speaker, at paragraph 9.16 of the Report, they intend to purchase 500 point of service printers and they have allocated GH¢1.8 million for the purchase. If we divide the amount by the 500 pieces, then it means that each one would cost GH¢3,600. This type of service printer which does not cost more than US$100 but each one would cost us GH¢3,600. So, I believe that the Hon Minister for Health needs to pay attention to some of these final details because the NHIS is struggling to even pay claims. Last month, we heard the private providers say that
Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to contribute to the Motion for the adoption of the Report of the Committee of the Whole on the Proposed Formula for the Distribution of the National Health Insurance Fund for the year 2018. Mr Speaker, in doing so, I would note that this, undoubtedly, remains a major policy intervention that has better served the needs of the Ghanaian people in terms of access to quality healthcare. It is an intervention that this House must take an interest in expanding its frontiers so that Ghanaians could continue to access medical care under the NHIS. Mr Speaker, as has been intimated by earlier contributors, our advice to the Ministry of Finance is that, they should go to the parent Act of the NHIS and the Fund. Mr Speaker, while the Ministry on pages 183 and 184 of the Budget Statement has already taken a certain portion of the money to pay for nurses allowances, it has also denied the Scheme additional resources. Mr Speaker, we would not support such an initiative next year. The payment of allowances should not be contingent on the NHIF because that is not part of the mandate or the core object of the Fund, especially, when they have a funding gap and funding differences. The government must find other innovative ways to raise money to pay for those allowances but not to tie it to -- Mr Speaker, actuarial studies have been done and I would have referred to it but for want of time. Most part of the studies talked about the inadequacy of the funding regime. There are those who even propose that we should add two and a half (2½) per cent Value Added Tax (VAT) to an additional half (2½) per cent to make it three (3) per cent and dedicate it to the NHIS. We have others who have also said that we may also want to take a percentage of the revenues from oil, even if it is one (1) or two (2) per cent and dedicate it to the NHIS. Mr Speaker, the Ministry and particularly, the head of the NHIS is engaged in some discussions with Organised Labour, the Trades Union Congress (TUC), so we encourage them to continue to do that. If they are able to get the support of Organised Labour to leverage even GH¢5 or GH¢10 per worker per month for 12 months, then that would rake in additional resources. What Organised Labour and TUC have demanded is transparency and accountability. Mr Speaker, probably, on matters relating to age, if we look at the law where it says persons would benefit from the distress Scheme, I think that we have to look at the age issues again. I raise this because many Ghanaian workers retire at the age of 60 and we are saying that they could only qualify for the NHIS when they are 70 years but that 10 years gap is when they mostly need the government's support and intervention. Mr Speaker, many of the major illnessnes; cardio related, kidney-related, liver related and other major ones are not covered by the Scheme. So, workers during post-retirements would have problems in accessing medical care but that is the time that they need it most. Mr Speaker, in concluding, I have looked at the Formula and I would like to refer you to page 4 of the Committee's Report. Mr Speaker, with your permission, it states: “On accrual basis, the total budget expenditure for the year ending 31st December, 2017 was GH¢1,719.85 million as against an annual budget of GH¢2,261.74 million.” So, it means that there is a shortfall of GH¢541 million and apart from this shortfall, government is taking additional resources from NHIS to compensate for the allowances of nurses when we should be dealing with their core mandate and business. Mr Speaker, so, the Ministry of Finance should find innovative ways to raise money to pay the nurses but not to come and depend on the NHIF and burden it further. If they have a difficulty, then they should say so but to take those additional resources -- how would they account for it within the remit of what is being approved? What they deserve is more than what is being allocated to them. If the Ministry of Finance would want to cap, then they should cap other areas such as the District Assemblies Common Fund (DACF) and the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund) as has been done but for the NHIF, it is a no. Mr Speaker, with these few comments and as the Hon Minority Chief Whip said, many of these allocations are on IT infrastructure but every year, we dedicate moneys for IT infrastructure and its improvement. We would need to see a stop. Sometimes, we see a particular value for, maybe, claims and processing and it would be GH¢41 million for this year but it would have been GH¢36 million for last year. So, we would need an explanation from the Hon Minister for Health on what accounted for the variance. In terms of capitation, it has been said that there is zero allocation in respect of most of those issues. Mr Speaker, IT infrastructure is helpful and we would continue to need it.
Hon Minority Leader, please conclude.
Mr Speaker, in conclusion, the health service providers are complaining of non-payment of arrears. The Ministry of Finance and the NHIF must take urgent steps to make money available to pay for those arrears. Mr Speaker, thank you and I support the Motion.
Thank you very much. Majority Leadership, any concluding remark?
Mr Speaker, thank you very much. The Majority Leadership would yield to the Hon Deputy Minister for Health. Deputy Minister for Health (Mr Kingsley Aboagye-Gyedu)(MP): Hon Deputy Majority Leader, thank you very much.
Hon Deputy Minister for Health, just conclude by way of a couple of observations on what has transpired already.
Mr Speaker, thank you very much. Mr Speaker, in conclusion, I believe that, a lot has been said about the Motion and I could assure you that, all the comments that have been made are well - noted and as a listening government, we would endeavour to take them on board when we are considering our policies to ensure that the NHIS becomes more successful. Mr Speaker, of particular notice is the fact that, the current management of the Scheme has proven to be more competent than the previous ones and this is backed by the fact that, at the time this government took over, we had a debt of over GH¢1.2 billion but I am happy to tell this House that, per the information available in the Committee's Report, the debt has reduced and it is below GH¢200 million. For me, that is very significant and we have projected that by the end of this year, the total debt would have cleared and the NHIS would be on a very good pedestal to take-off. Mr Speaker, guided by your directive, I would not want to proceed too much but to thank this august House and especially, the Committee for a very good work done on this particular Motion. With these few words, I end by urging the whole House to support the Motion. Question put and Motion agreed to.
Hon Deputy Majority Leader, from here, where do we go?
Mr Speaker, if we could move --
In the process, the Hon Second Deputy Speaker would take the Chair.
MR SECOND DEPUTY SPEAKER
Hon Deputy Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I am admiring your hat. I am admiring your outfit. [Interruption.]
Why are you not admiring me, but admiring my dress? [Laughter.]
Mr Speaker, I am admiring everything in its entirety; from your head to toe.
Your father is in the Chair. Once your father is in the Chair, I am sure you would be admiring me. Yes, now, where are we?
It is rightly so, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, respectfully, if we could move to the Order Paper Addendum 1. There are two Order Paper addenda the item numbered 1 on the second Order Paper addendum. Mr Speaker, the Motion is a procedural one for the Hon Chairman of the Finance Committee to take.
Hon Members, on the Order Paper Addendum -- That is the one without the supplementary -- Motion numbered 1 -- By the Hon Chairman of the Committee?
Mr Speaker, respectfully, we are taking the Motion listed as item numbered 3 on the Order Paper Adendum, but not item numbered 1. You talked about Motion numbered 3 at page 2 of the Order Paper Addendum 1?
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, notwithstanding the provisions of Standing Order 80(1) which require that no Motion shall be debated until at least forty-eight hours have elapsed between the date on which notice of the Motion is given and the date on which the Motion is moved, the Motion for the adoption of the Report of the Finance Committee on the Loan and Financing Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Ghana and Kreditanstalt fur Wiederaufbau (KFW), Frankfurt am Main for a loan amount of thirteen million euros (€13,000,000.00) and a financial contribution of an amount of one million euros (€1,000,000.00) to co-finance the establishment of a Deposit Protection Scheme in Ghana may be moved today.
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion. Question put and amendment agreed to. Resolved accordingly.
We now move to the substantive Motion, item numbered 4 on the Order Paper. Chairman of the Committee? Loan and Financing Agreement between GoG and Kreditanstalt fur Wiederaufbau (KFW), Frankfurt am Main to co-finance the establishment of Deposit Protection Scheme in Ghana
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that this Honourable House adopts the Report of the Finance Committee on the Loan and Financing Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Ghana and Kreditanstalt fur Wiederaufbau (KFW), Frankfurt am Main for a loan amount of thirteen million Euros (€13,000,000.00) and a financial contribution of an amount of One Million Euros (€1,000,000.00) to co-finance the establishment of a Deposit Protection Scheme in Ghana. Introduction The Loan and Financing Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Ghana and Kreditanstalt fur Wiederaufbau (KFW), Frankfurt am Main for a loan amount of thirteen million euros (EUR13,000,000.00) and a financial contribution of an amount of one million
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion and in so doing, I would like to offer a few comments. Mr Speaker, we would recall that this House passed the Ghana Deposit Protection Act, 2016 (Act 931) in the Sixth Parliament to establish the Ghana Deposit Protection Scheme. This loan facility that we are looking for is to provide a seed money for the establishment of the Deposit Protection Fund for the operation of the scheme. So, the rationale for establishing the Deposit Protection Scheme is to provide a ready source of funding to address bank distress. Mr Speaker, the terms and conditions of the loan, being a concessional loan facility, are favourable. Mr Speaker, in observation, to ensure the sustainability of the scheme, the bank and special deposit, taking institution licensed by the Bank of Ghana would be required under the law to make a premium payment into the Fund. Mr Speaker, the utmost concern obviously is the impact the collapse of the financial institution has had on the depositors. Mr Speaker, this would enhance the confidence in the Ghana banking sector after the collapse of the UT Bank and the Capital Bank. Mr Speaker, the Bank of Ghana would have to strengthen the internal mechanism to be able to apply this new legislation. Mr Speaker, in conclusion, the Deposit Protection fund would only be effective if it is complementary to the efforts of the other safety net players. Mr Speaker, there are a lot of benefits to the servicing of this scheme, and when we look at paragraph 5.5, the benefits have been listed. Mr Speaker, with these few words, I second the Motion. Question proposed.
Mr Speaker, my name is Daniel Okyem Aboagye, MP for Bantama Constituency. Mr Speaker, I rise to support the Motion --
Hon Member, are you not William Sabi?
Mr Speaker, I am not. That was why I mentioned my name, as Daniel Okyem Aboagye.
You are not properly seated.
Mr Speaker, you are right.
In your own interest, could you kindly move to your seat?
Thank you, Mr Speaker. I would do so. Mr Speaker, I would like to contribute to the Motion on the floor --
Hon Members, you are aware that the proceedings of the House are usually re- broadcast on GTV Governs and your constituents would want to see and hear you speak on the floor. So, when they read a different name under-- only those who know you would know that you are the one contributing, but the majority of viewers would think and expect that it is the name that is speaking on the floor and that would misdirect a lot of viewers. It is important that we are assessed by what we also do on the floor of the House. So, I want to urge all of you to try to always be properly seated; resume your seats when you want to contribute to the debate on the floor. It is very important. That is why I stated that in your own interest, you should move to your seat. You can now go on.
Mr Speaker, thank you, once again, for the opportunity. I take notice of your advice. Mr Speaker, the Motion that is currently on the floor is quite important because we realised that, so many financial institutions, especially the ones in the microfinance sector, have suffered because of lack of deposit protection. So, this Motion that is here, as being discussed with this loan, would help to protect small depositors as it is written on page 3 of the Report, that it is meant to protect small depositors and unsophisticated depositors. We realised that, the role of microfinance, for instance, remains important but because of the death of a few of the microfinance institutions, we discovered that the reputation and the image of the industry as a whole continues to get damaged because of the lack of any protection for those who put their moneys with these institutions. So, Mr Speaker, I believe that this loan would go a long way, not only to increase the confidence of depositors in the financial sector, but it would also make credit available, which is an engine for economic growth, to those who need loans to support their activities. Mr Speaker, we know that, if depositors are confident about the fact that, should any bank fail, some of their monies or all of their monies would be recovered in an insurance scheme or protection of a sort, they would have no problems putting their monies in a bank. These monies that would end up in the banks could be borrowed by people to increase their business activities and for that matter, it would ultimately increase the economic activities and economic growth of this country. I believe sincerely that, this is a step in the right direction; I think it is long overdue and I urge every Hon Member to support the Motion that is being discussed. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, I rise to support the Motion and in doing so, I just want to refer the House to page 2 of the Committee's Report under “Background”. Mr Speaker, it is good that we are trying to protect depositors fund so that in case of any eventuality, at least, they can fall on something without losing the entire amount of money saved with other financial institutions. Mr Speaker, but the Report is telling us that we are going to protect small depositors. Who is a small depositor? I ask this question because we are going to pay a premium. Let us say if I deposit GH¢ 100,000 at the bank and then there is a bank failure, I am entitled to GH¢ 6,250.00. What happens to the rest? Meanwhile, I am paying a premium of GH¢ 100,000. Let us take our insurance, for example. If one uses a Mercedes Benz or Tico and insures the vehicle, in the course of any accident, he gets back the insured package, but why are we discriminating against the small depositor against the big depositor? In this case, in my constituency, for example, we have only one bank. So, if we say we are protecting the small depositor, those people with bigger moneys would not save with the bank because, in the case of eventuality, they would lose their moneys. So, if you tell me you are protecting a small depositor, then people with bigger money would not go and save, because in case of any eventuality, they are going to lose their moneys. So they would send their moneys to the big cities, the drive and the migration of people from rural and to urban centres would still persist. So, Mr Speaker, we need to have a second look at it, because it is not going to protect majority of the people. Mr Speaker, we are talking about €13 million as a loan facility, and we are campaigning “Ghana beyond Aid”. We are taking a grant element on this facility at 54 per cent, so why the essence of touting ourselves as “Ghana beyond Aid”? We are going for a loan amount of €13 million, and the €1 million grant element, the Bank of Ghana would use €500,000 for capacity building. When we have the standard, they want the capacity. They are giving us grant, even though we are saying “Ghana beyond Aid”, and they would use half of the grant for capacity building. Mr Speaker, is it fair? Going forward, the Bank said they were going to provide counterpart funding of €13 million. They would give office accommodation, equipment, furnishing and initial staffing on secondment basis; so what is the need for the loan? Banks and fixed deposit taking institutions would pay their premium. Why are we taking this loan? Who is going to pay for the loan? We are setting this up to protect small depositors, and the financial institutions are going to contribute towards it, meanwhile they are not going to pay for the loan that we are contracting. If the State is going to make the repayment on our behalf, what is the essence of the premium they are paying? At the end of the day, as a result of a bank failure, I am not entitled to the full amount of my deposited fund. Mr Speaker, I do not think this would help us. We are talking about financial inclusion, so we need to bring everybody
Hon Member, the Hon Chairman of the Committee is on his feet. Let us listen to him.
Mr Speaker, the Ghana Deposit Protection Act, 2016 (Act 931) was passed in 2016. As part of the passage of this Act, we had to set up a Deposit Protection Corporation. What we are doing now is to approve a loan that would to be used as a seed fund for the deposit protection scheme. The Hon Member on the floor all this while had been arguing about the deposit protection insurance and how unfair the insurance scheme is. These are matters that were dealt with when he was a Member of the Committee in 2016. So if he would speak to the loan Agreement before us and address the issues therein, I believe it would help this House.
Hon Member, I believe strongly you should take this on board.
Mr Speaker, despite the fact that we have the law, if I have some disagreements with the law, I am entitled to state it. So, Mr Speaker, though the terms and conditions are very favourable, 54.45 per cent grant element is too high, so if we are trying to work towards “Ghana beyond Aid”, we should, at least walk the talk, so that people out there would see that we mean whatever we are saying, not that we are touting ourselves as “Ghana beyond Aid” and we are going out there to borrow a little €13 million. It is not good of us. Mr Speaker, with these few words, I thank you for the opportunity.
Hon Member, you are rather at the blind side of the Speaker.
Mr Speaker, thank you very much. It is the reason I often come forward, and I recall I was the first person you asked to take his seat, and it is always difficult to catch your eye.
Hon Member, read Standing Order 86 (1). That is the order governing the directive I have been giving.
Mr Speaker, I take a cue. Mr Speaker, I rise to contribute to the Motion on the floor. Deposit protection is a very important exercise to strengthen the financial system, so it is refreshing that at this point in time, we want to give life to the Deposit Protection Act that was passed in 2016, which has still not been implemented. So, to approve a seed amount of money for the Bank of Ghana to establish the corporation is in the right direction. Mr Speaker, it is in my view very strange that an institution like the Bank of Ghana cannot find €13 million to set up Deposit Protection Corporation, and it is requesting the Government of Ghana to guarantee and eventually pay for a loan for it to set up this Deposit Protection Corporation. That is where I have my challenge, because if other institutions are struggling, we all know that, Bank of Ghana should be one of those institutions that can cough up €13 million. But for the State to guarantee a loan for Bank of Ghana is something that I find very strange. Mr Speaker, it is important to make the point that, while we seek to address this problem and provide the funding for the establishment of this Corporation, we have to also understand that the Bank of Ghana has to up its game in ensuring that it is able to provide the appropriate regulatory environment that would ensure that our banks just do not fail, so that we do not depend on the funding and the premiums that come to protect the small depositors to relax the requirement for stringent supervision and regulation of our banks.
Yes, Hon Minister for -- what is the name of your Ministry?
Monitoring and Evaluation.
Is it a Ministry?
Where is the Ministry located, in the Castle? [Laughter.] Yes, you may now go on.
Mr Speaker, you may find me in the former office of the former Vice President, if you are looking for me. [Hear! Hear!]
Hon Minister, you may now go on.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. On a point of order. It is important that we pay attention to what we are doing. We are borrowing money to set up a Fund, not a corporation. I repeat, we are borrowing money to set up a Fund, not a corporation, that is number 1. Secondly, if we read the Report, Bank of Ghana itself would contribute €13 million, so when my Hon Friend said that he finds it strange that the Bank of Ghana cannot find €13 million, he has misled this House.
Hon Minister, read page 5, paragraph 5 (3). The Committee's Report talks about the establishment -- the setting up and institutional strengthening of the Ghana Deposit Protection Corporation.
Mr Speaker, I said the loan is not to set up the corporation. The loan is to set up the Fund for the corporation. There is a big difference. The Committee is correct. Part of the grant element would be used for capacity building, but the loan is not to set up the corporation. It is to set up the Fund for the corporation to use as seed money. There is a big difference.
What you are saying is that the grant element of the loan, part of it would be used to set up this corporation. That is what I am hear from the Hon Chairman of the Committee.
Mr Speaker, no.
Yes, then go over it.
The BoG would set up the Corporation. Half of the grant amount would be used to strengthen the capacity of the Corporation and the other half for the BoG.
Hon Member, what is the phrase in the Report for. “…used for the setting-up and institutional strengthening of the Ghana Deposit Protection Corporation (GDPC)…” So, what is that meant to be?
Mr Speaker, if you could read further?
I do not need to read further because first, you talked about setting-up and then second, institutional strengthening of the Corporation. That is what it is meant to do.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Member talked about the fact that, the loan was to set up the Corporation. Mr Speaker, the loan of €13 million is not to setup the Corporation. It is the seed fund for the Corporation. The two are not the same; that is the distinction we need to make. So, if anybody wants to support the loan, they should do so as seed money for the Corporation out of which BoG itself would contribute an additional €13 million. So, when he said that BoG cannot find €13 million, he was misleading the House.
Hon Member, you go on and at the end of the day, the Hon Chairman of the Committee would try to wind up and clarify the issue for all of us.
Let him finish and then you would wind-up.
Mr Speaker, when he is done, Hon Oppong-Nkrumah would talk about “Ghana Beyond Aid” that -- [Laughter.]
Is there a Motion before us dealing with “Ghana Beyond Aid”? [Interruption.] Yes, Hon Member, continue.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, may I draw the attention of the House to the fact that what that is meant to do is to capitalise the Deposit Protection Corporation (DPC). That is why under paragraph 1, in part, it says, Mr Speaker, with your permission, I beg to quote: “…to co-finance the establishment of the Deposit Protection Scheme in Ghana as was laid in the House…” So, the Deposit Protection Scheme (DPS) that we have today is just a mere document that does not have capital to operate. We are seeking to fund its initial capital to make it a workable functioning body. The BoG that shepherds that activity should be able to find the money to finance the capital of the DPC. It is because it does not have the funding that is why Parliament is called upon to assist the Executive to raise an amount of money to be guaranteed by the State to fund the establishment. I am of the view that, BoG is not one of those institutions that should come to the public purse to look for €13 million. It should be able to fund it from its own resources. Mr Speaker, nevertheless, if BoG is unable to fund it at the moment, the Government of Ghana could borrow the money and lend it to BoG, so in future, BoG could pay back, but not to borrow money and give it to an institution such as BoG. That is my view. Mr Speaker, I agree that a Deposit Protection Scheme (DPS) that is fully funded is important to strengthen the financial capital base of our country. I have already indicated that as a country, we have just recently been called upon to look for GH¢2 billion for the resolution of the collapse of Unique Trust (UT) Bank and Capital Bank. I believe that, if we had a DPS in place, that cost would have been reduced significantly because depositors within the range that is expected to be protected by the Act and the Fund would have received their funding directly from the insurance scheme. Government would not have been called upon to make this a fiscal cost in our budget for the people of Ghana and the taxpayer to make good those payments. Mr Speaker, I have alluded to the fact that BoG needs to strengthen its supervision and regulatory role. That is the primary guidance for ensuring that banks and financial institutions do not fail. It is because the BoG is unable to function this way and allow these banks to go down, that is why we have been called upon to look for the money in order to protect depositors and to make sure that we do not have bank run-aids. Mr Speaker, I am of the view that the BoG should strengthen its capacity in ensuring that, particularly, microfinancial institutions that are registered, would operate and meet all the prudential requirements, so that they do not go down for the State to look for money under the Deposit Protection Act to fund those activities. Mr Speaker, I believe that the loan is very concessionary in nature. It is a very simple loan that on any day, we would approve for the BoG to fully finance the establishment of the Corporation. Mr Speaker, with these few words, I urge my Hon Colleagues to approve this loan. Mr Kojo Oppong-Nkrumah -- rose
Yes, Hon Minority Leader? -- Sorry, before I come to the Leadership, I can see Hon --
Ghana Beyond Aid!
Hon Member, is that your new name?
Mr Speaker, which one?
Mr Speaker, I wished it was my name, because it is a good thing that I believe we should all embrace.
Hon Kojo Oppong-Nkrumah, you may now go on.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I rise to support the Motion, and I have only two points to make. First of all, the €13 million is not a loan to the BoG. It is the Government of Ghana's GoG counterpart funding to set up the Deposit Protection Fund (DPF). Mr Speaker, with your indulgence, I would read from page 3, paragraph 3 of your Committee's Report: “The Ghana Deposit Protection Act, 2016 (Act 931) was passed in 2016 to establish a Ghana Deposit Protection Scheme to be managed by Ghana Deposit Protection Corporation (GDPC). The Act also proposes the establishment of a Deposit Protection Fund for the operation of the Scheme. The Bank of Ghana and the KFW are through this Agreement providing the seed money (capitalisation) for the establishment of the Deposit Protection Fund.” The KFW component is for the GoG, which would be taken up by loan. Mr Speaker, again, from page 5, paragraph 5.3 of your Committee's Report, as you directed earlier, the last three lines reads: “The Loan of €13 million would, however, be strictly applied towards the co-financing of the initial capital for the Deposit Protection Fund.” So, it is incorrect for the assumption to be made that it is for the Corporation.
Let us use the clause “…strictly applied towards…” it does not necessarily mean that it would be wholly applied. It just said “strictly”. There are two distinct words. “Strictly” and “wholly” are not the same. We understand it to mean “…wholly applied.”
Indeed, the government that brought the Agreement explained to us that, that was the intendment. That is why I am correcting the impression being created that it may be used for other purposes. That would not be correct. Mr Speaker, the second thing I would want to say is in agreement with the contribution made by my Hon Colleague, Hon Isaac Adongo that, if indeed, a DPF of this nature was in place, Government may not have to underwrite the resolution of some of the banks that have been challenged. Mr Speaker, the Deposit Protection Act, (Act 931) was passed in 2016. Indeed, the original Act had about a six-month period within which the government was required to set up the Fund. It is because that has not happened, that is why some of the challenges in the financial sector have to be resolved in another manner. We are grateful that today, we have a government that is very quick to move to set it up, so that if we have future challenges of this nature, there would be a Fund in place that could take care of it. I agree with my Hon Colleague, I think that it is good that today that Fund is being set up quickly, so that possible future occurrences may be managed in accordance with Act 931. Mr Speaker, with these few words, I support the Motion. Thank you.
Yes, Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to contribute to the Motion, and to urge Hon Colleagues to support it. Mr Speaker, I would like to make some observations. The Ghana Deposit Protection Act, 2016, Act 931 was established to provide a legal framework for banks and specialised deposit-taking institutions to insure depositors under a Scheme operated by the Ghana Deposit Protection Corporation as he rightly indicated. Mr Speaker, I am aware that, the Hon Minister for Finance has signalled an amendment to the Act in order to strengthen it, and that is also before Parliament. Mr Speaker, in commenting on it, let me just refer you to page 5, paragraph 5. 2 of your Committee's Report and with your indulgence, I beg to quote: “The Committee noted that the establishment of a deposit protection scheme in Ghana would make an important contribution to the maintenance of a sound and stable banking sector.” So, if it was established, the intention was to contribute to strengthening the banking sector to be sound and stable. I just heard Hon Kojo Oppong- Nkrumah speak about it. The fact that we are providing funds for an institution established - When was the institution established? The Act itself speaks for it. It was passed in 2016, but this is not a matter which should be reduced to partisan politics as to who is doing well and who is not. Mr Speaker, they have inherited an institution established by a legal framework as the Ghana Depository Protection Act, 2016, Act 931. What government is doing -- Mr Speaker, I was on my quotation. The Hansard will capture the rest but let me use this for emphasis: “This is of particular relevance since the low savings culture in Ghana is attributable largely to financial illiteracy.” What are we doing about this financial illiteracy? What are we doing to promote and encourage a new savings culture in this country? That is germane to addressing the problems. Mr Speaker, today, even mobile phone users are excited about what they do with mobile telephony -- money transfer and others. We can use some of those innovative ways, including enhanced and deepened public consciousness about financial literacy. Since many persons in the rural areas do not have access to banks, they do not save. Mr Speaker, the banking sector today itself is suffocating with the requirement to raise GH¢400 million for capitalisation, which has become a norm every two or three years. It affects the local banks in
our country. We have a duty to protect our domestic Ghanaian institutions including local Ghanaian banks. Mr Speaker, the other issue, since our Hon Colleagues have gone into the realm of politics, is to refer you to pages 5 and 6 of the Committee's Report. We are borrowing an amount of €13 million. Mr Speaker, of the €13 million, if you go to page 5 of the Report, €0.5 million would be applied towards institutional strengthening of the Bank of Ghana. [Interruption] It is in the Committee's Report. [Interruption.]
On a point of order. Mr Speaker, I would want to correct my good Friend. None of the loan amount is to be used for institutional strengthening. That amount comes from the grant component. That is not the loan. There is a difference, just so he keeps --
Mr Speaker, paragraph 5.3 of the Committee's Report reads and I beg to quote: “The Committee observed that €0.5 million of the Grant amount of €1 million would be used for the setting-up and institutional strengthening of the Ghana Deposit Protection Corporation (GDPC) while the remaining €0.5 million …” Mr Speaker, I referred him to the page. Mr Speaker, my emphasis is on institutional strengthening of the Bank of Ghana”, €0.5 million. That is €500,000. The same BoG is bringing an amount of €13 million. Are we not saying that they are mathematically bringing an amount of €12.5 million? This is because there was a €500,000 which is given to BoG as a grant. Mr Speaker, the argument of the Hon Member for Bongo is that, the Ministry of Finance must enter into an on-lending arrangement with BoG. They should not get this for free. The BoG annually pays dividend to the government. The Hon Minister for Finance knows that. So, why would we take this and say BoG should have it? The Government of Ghana is guaranteeing this for them. They must have an on-lending Agreement with BoG. This should not go for free. Mr Speaker, finally, have we come or we are going, when we have the Ministry of Finance and the Hon Minister declare “Ghana Beyond Aid”? “Ghana Beyond Aid” means a Ghana which relies independently on its own resources, including revenue to finance its development. Not dance to grants. Mr Speaker, when they went to Germany and they were told the German Government would give the President an amount of €100 million, they danced back and said “Ghana Beyond Aid”. Which aid when they danced to €100 million grant? We must get serious as a country. Mr Speaker, what timeframe are they talking about in terms of “Ghana Beyond Aid”? Is it 2030, 2040 or 2045? We must have a time period to measure them. So they should not go looking for grant. The Hon Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation just reminded me that the €1 million is a grant. He is excited about it. So where is “Ghana Beyond Aid”? He is happy that somebody is giving them €1 million grant. Mr Speaker, they cannot do that when they declared “Ghana Beyond Aid”. Mr Speaker, we are reminding him and his Cabinet Colleagues that “Ghana Beyond Aid” means independence in raising resources and revenues to fund our own development to reduce dependency. When the Hon Minister for Finance comes to this House -- I can mention 12 Ministries whose budgets are funded by donors between 25 to 70 per cent. Mr Speaker, that is not “Ghana Beyond Aid” but since they want this aid and a loan to help them set up a functional Ghana Depository Scheme, I support the Motion.
Mr Speaker, I can see that the Hon Minority Leader enjoys the slogan, “Ghana Beyond Aid”, so, he decided to talk about it when the matter before us, on a matter of relevance, had nothing to do with it. Mr Speaker, I rise to --
I expected an Hon Member to raise the issue of relevance but I saw none. I could not raise it myself. But I thought that you gave the opportunity for the Hon Minority Leader to dilute so that when you got up, you would define “Ghana Beyond Aid” not to include “Ghana Beyond Loans”. [Laughter.]
Mr Speaker, that is why I started on that note. For purposes of courtesy that we accord each other as Leaders, I wanted the Hon Minority Leader to flow but I would have my take and I did not think per the rules, “Ghana Beyond Aid” was being discussed. Mr Speaker, “Ghana Beyond Aid” is an initiative that ought to be applauded. Mr Speaker, the current Government -- It is a process, and the earlier we started to believe that Ghana can live beyond aid, the better. Mr Speaker, we are creating the awareness and the hope that one day, Ghana can live without aid. That does not mean it is an event that would happen in a day or two. Mr Speaker, that is not before the House so I would move on to the Report that has been presented by the Finance Committee. Mr Speaker, the Ghana Deposit Protection (Amendment) Bill, 2018 is currently before this House. It intends to amend the Parent Act to make it a more workable legal framework to protect depositors and our banking sector as well. Mr Speaker, I would urge Hon Members to look at the positive side for the purpose for which this loan is before this House. Mr Speaker, if you look at page 3 of the last paragraph of the Committee's Report on “Objective of the Agreement”, it is stated clearly that it is intended to provide funds for establishing a Deposit Protection Fund with the view to protecting depositors from the loss in the case of a bank failure and also to support the Bank of Ghana. Mr Speaker, we have lived in this country where banks have had to fold up, where banks have liquidated and the ordinary Ghanaians who had their moneys lodged in those banks had panicked on whether or not they have any rights, or their deposits would be protected as persons in Ghana. Mr Speaker, so if today we are moving a step further in implementing a law that has been passed in 2016 which is being brought to this House to be amended, and a facility is before us to help to strengthen our banking sector to ensure that we support and protect the interest of the depositor, I think that it is in the interest of the people of Ghana and the country.
it again talks about maintenance of a sound and stable banking sector. I have said that, let us look at the holistic picture and the positive aspect of it. We have heard issues of banks having to fold up every now and then because they have not been able to reach the minimum requirements as specified by the Bank of Ghana. As a country, is it the way we want to go? We have advanced; gone are the days when we only had the Commercial Bank and the National Investment Bank (NIB), the State owned banks were the only banks that operated back in those days. Mr Speaker, we have progressed as a country, we have had many banks come from other parts of the world to open branches in Ghana and our banking sector is progressing. So the question then is, how do we maintain or sustain the soundness and the stability of the banking sector? These are some of the initiatives that we need to take as a country and as a government, so that people would not be tempted to live in the past again where there was that fear to deposit their moneys in banks. Mr Speaker, it goes a lot to the smaller banks; the savings and loans and smaller banks also. As a country, we need to have a critical look at them. This is because the ordinary Ghanaian for instance, would want to or my women in the Dome Market in the Dome-Kwabenya Constituency would want to go to these savings and loans because of proximity. These savings and loans companies go to the market places and collect their moneys. These banks offer banking services at the doorsteps of the people. But as we approach them to grow the banking sector, we should not lose sight of the fact that the depositor also has a right. He has something that needs to be protected by this Honourable House by way of legislation and by way of certain interventions by the government. Mr Speaker, I believe that if these—
Hon Deputy Majority Leader, I did not want to recognise Hon Kpodo but he has been insisting. Maybe, he has something serious that he wants to draw our attention to. Yes, Hon Member?
On a point of order. Rightly so. Mr Speaker, I would want to remind the Hon Deputy Majority Leader that they have raised issues about relevance to what is in front of us. We are not talking about not protecting depositors. That is from our Side of the House. We said that, Bank of Ghana is so well resourced that it should not be going for a paltry €13,000, 000.00 for this purpose. So, all that she is talking about is trying to present us as if we are against the establishment of the Fund. No! we are saying that,e Bank of Ghana should have the money here and not go to borrow in order to support the Fund. This is because, His Excellency, the Vice President has told us that, the money is here.
Hon Member, you have made your point. Yes, Hon Deputy Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I am tempted to ignore what the Hon Member who happens to be a friend has said. Mr Speaker, as I am standing here—
Hon Deputy Majority Leader, I thought it would have been proper for you to draw his attention to the contribution the Bank of Ghana is making in this direction. That is stated in the Report, but do not say you would ignore.
Mr Speaker, I said I am tempted, it is a temptation, I have not been tempted yet.
Do not be tempted.
Yes, Mr Speaker. As I started my argument, I have been speaking to this Report and I have been referring you to pages in the Report. So I am not speaking on top of my head or thinking on top of my head. I am speaking to the document that is right before us. Mr Speaker, on page 5, 5.2, it is stated; ‘Maintenance of Sound and Stable Banking Sector' and that is what I am speaking to. So Mr Speaker, I am not introducing anything. What he seeks to introduce is also what the Hon Minority Leader sought to introduce, about Ghana beyond aid, that is not what is before this House. So I am restricting myself to the Report. If he is listening, he would know that it is the Report that I am speaking to. Mr Speaker, so, I believe that such intervention—
None Mr Speaker, Hon Member for—
Do you want to raise a point of order against your Leader?
Mr Speaker, he is rising on a point of information.
would you yield?
Mr Speaker, I am yielding.
That would be your end, or do you intend to come back?
Mr Speaker, to conclude, respectfully.
Mr Speaker, Hon Kpodo categorically stated that the Bank of Ghana is taking the loan. That is grossly misleading this House. This loan is being taken up by the Government of Ghana, not the Bank of Ghana. He should know that. He is a member of the Finance Committee. He
Mr Speaker, in concluding—
Hon Members, debates of the House are so important to researchers, even to the Judiciary. So clarity is essential in this matter. It is the Report that seems to be creating a bit of lack of clarity. Look at page 3 and 3.1; the “Objective of the Agreement”. I am sure “Agreement” is referring to the Loan Agreement. It says that: “The objective of the Agreement is to provide funds for the establishment of the Deposit Protection Fund with the view to protecting depositors from loss in the case of a bank failure and also to support the Bank of Ghana in meeting one of its objectives of fostering the soundness, solvency and efficient functioning of a stable market-based financial system in Ghana.” So, the loan is also meant to support the Bank of Ghana. That is what this sentence says. Please take your time. Hon Kwadjo Opong-Nkrumah raised it and I drew his attention to it. Page 5, Paragraph 5.3, the last sentence: “The Loan of €13 million would however be strictly applied towards the co-financing of the initial capital for the Deposit Protection Fund.” That was why I raised “not wholly”, but you tried to say “wholly”. This is because on page 3, it talks about also supporting the Bank of Ghana. So clarity is important in this matter. Let us know what the loan is meant to do.
Do you want to come in as -- after you, I would not recognise the Hon Chairman. I would go straight to the Hon Leader.
Mr Speaker, I rose simply because you mentioned me and quoted a part of the Report. You also mentioned the fact that debates of this House had far reaching implications. I thought it was --
You are entitled. I only wanted to give notice to the Hon Chairman that he would not have a bite, so that you could take the whole time to explain.
Mr Speaker, the Bank of Ghana is the primary agency that executes supervision over the financial services sector in this country. A special purpose vehicle is set up to manage the function of deposit protection. The Bank of Ghana is contributing €13 million of its own resources to do that. To support the Bank of Ghana to succeed at that venture, the Government of Ghana would also contribute another €13 million. It is that €13 million that we have gone through. So when the Report says that “to support the Bank of Ghana”, it is to support the Bank of Ghana to execute its functions. It is not as though the money is directly part of the Bank of Ghana's functions. I thought that I should just provide that further elucidation to help them.
Would part of the loan be used to support the Bank of Ghana to execute its function? That is what we want to know.
If I may clarify, the loan is the Government of Ghana's contribution to the Fund that the Deposit Protection Corporation would administer. That is how the Government of Ghana would assist the Bank of Ghana to execute its function. However, the Bank of Ghana would provide €13 million for its purpose. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
The reference in that, paragraph talks about the Agreement which is the loan. I am aware of the €13 million that the Bank of Ghana itself would provide. I am also aware of the €1million that is also stated there and the loan of €13 million. However, the way the Committee has couched this in the Report is what has created the lack of clarity. I would put the Question. So we should be able to direct those who are not here as to the decision we have taken.
Mr Speaker, I do not really see why my Hon Colleagues on the other Side of the House are trying so hard to run away from the fact that, there is some grant or loan, which would come in to support the institutionalisation of this whole mechanism. To create the impression that, somehow, part of that grant would not be used by the Bank of Ghana for strengthening its capacity towards this project, is running away from the facts. I do not know why they are so desperate to create the impression that, it is not the fact. There is no need for us to pretend as though we have reached a stage where we are standing on our own two feet. That is why there are lofty dreams of Ghana beyond aid. As the Hon Deputy Majority Leader clearly said, it is simply a long term sensitisation of the country as they continue accumulating loan after loan and grant after grant, knowing very well that is not the reality today or tomorrow. So, I just would want to explain that it is a fact that part of this grant would be used by the Central Bank as part of its capacity strengthening, in order to make sure that this whole mechanism becomes viable and sustainable for the country.
Hon Deputy Majority Leader, you may continue and conclude.
Mr Speaker, in concluding, I strongly believe that, we should all look at the holistic picture of the purpose for which this loan is before this House. The protection of the depositor is core, as we progress as a country, in strengthening our banking sector and making it more viable. The depositor and his or her interest should be at the fore of our determination. On this note, I urge Hon Members to adopt the Report of the Finance Committee and approve the said loan. Question put and Motion agreed to.
Hon Deputy Majority Leader?
Item numbered 5 on the Addendum Order Paper. Could we take the Resolution?
Item numbered 5, Resolution. Hon Minister for Finance?
Mr Speaker, respectfully, I seek your leave to allow the Hon Deputy Minister for Finance, Hon Kwaku Kwarteng, to move the Resolution on behalf of the Minister.
Clearly, now we know the Hon Deputy Minister.
Mr Speaker, he has been very helpful in representing the Ministry of Finance. However, the whole of this Meeting, and we could check the records, the Hon Minister for Finance has not been here. All the Businesses have been done on his behalf. [Interruptions.] Since we came, he has not been here to do any Business. All the businesses have been done by the Hon Deputy Minister. A number of times, it has been the Hon Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation. There is everything wrong with it. Mr Speaker, someone asked what was wrong with it. He always has an excuse not to be in this House. He should find time to be here. The Hon Deputy Minister has been so helpful, and we have no objection in allowing him. The Hon Minister must find time to be in the House to do his business.
Hon Deputy Minister for Finance, the Minority has indicated that they would love to see your Hon Minister from time to time on the floor of the House. It is just a message to the Hon Minister. However, you could go on to move the Resolution.
Mr Speaker, well noted.
THIS HONOURABLE HOUSE
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion. Question put and Motion agreed to. Resolved accordingly.
Hon Deputy Majority Leader, is there any other Business?
Mr Speaker, we can take item numbered 11 on the main Order Paper.
Mr Speaker, I am sorry I did not read this earlier; but if we look at the title of the Report we have approved --
Hon Kpodo, you are completely out of order. Be guided by the Mace. It is not an informal situation. This is a very formal situation, so we cannot breach the rules. We would have to go by the rules, and you know the proper thing to do. [Interruptions.] What does Standing Order 93 (3) say?
Mr Speaker, with your permission, I beg to quote it: ‘'It shall be out of order to attempt to reconsider any specific Question upon which the House has come to a conclusion during the current Session, except upon a substantive motion for recession”.
Where is the Motion?
Mr Speaker, that is why I would want to move the Motion. [Laughter.]
Hon Kpodo, that decision has just been taken. When you want to move a Motion for recession, there is a whole procedure. [Laughter.] Hon Members, item numbered 11, which is on page 5 of the original Order Paper -- Taxation (Use of Fiscal Electronic Device) Bill, 2017 at the Consideration Stage.
BILLS -- CONSIDERATION STAGE
[Resumption of Consideration from 8/3/2018]
Hon Members, I have just been advised that a lot have been done on the Bill and it is just left with the items listed on the Order Paper. So, we would take clause 28. Hon Chairman of the Committee? Clause 28 -- Obligations of commun- cation service provider.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 28 -- Delete. Mr Speaker, clause 28 as advertised in the Order Paper says ‘‘debate to continue''; but as a matter of fact, we had a lot of back and forth on it. In the Bill, clause 28 is ‘‘Obligation of communica- tion service provider''. Originally, the amendment was to delete all of it from the Bill, but the Hon Attorney-General and Minister for Justice came back and advised that, it should be maintained. So, the Rt Hon Speaker directed that we do winnowing. We have gone back to the old amendment, which is to be deleted from the Bill.
In other words, the Committee disagrees with the position of the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice.
Yes, Mr Speaker.
Hon Members, we have been called upon to delete the whole of clause 28.
Mr Speaker, I support the original position of the deletion of clause 28. Mr Speaker, clause 28 talks about the ‘'Obligations of communication service provider''. The Government of Ghana, when it applies to the communication service provider to utilise its network services, would just be one customer trying to use the services of these providers. These providers are already regulated by the National Communica- tions Authority (NCA) and included in these Regulations is the quality of service.
Hon Member, just a minute. Having regard to the state of Business in the House, I direct that Sitting be held outside the prescribed period. Hon Member, you may continue.
Mr Speaker, the NCA regulates these operators and ensures that, the services that they provide are of good quality and uniform across the whole country. It would be out of place for the government to use its powers to seek to legislate that these providers should provide a certain special service to the government. If the government feels that, the services, which are being provided for the nation by these providers, are not up to standard and cannot be used in providing the services required under this particular Bill, it has recourse through the NCA to exercise that. Mr Speaker, what is being sought under clause 28 here, generally in the industry, is what we would have between a major customer and the provider in what is called the ‘'Service Level Agreement''. That should not be grounded in the law. Mr Speaker, it is enough as it is provided for in clause 27, and with your permission, I beg to quote: ‘'The Authority may, for purposes of this Act, enter into an agreement with a communication service provider for the provision of communication services…'' Mr Speaker, that agreement would contain those things that are spelt out in clause 28, so it is totally out of place to bring it into law. For instance, in the provisions, there is a provision where the provider is supposed to report network down times to the Authority. These providers are already required to provide network down time information to the NCA. In parallel, they have to report network down time to the Ghana Revenue Authority, which is just a single customer on their network. So we get it clear, some of these network providers have subscribers numbering in excess of 15 million. The government, even when it deploys this entire network, may not give them a subscription of 100,000 and we want to make a special law in a case of the government as a subscriber. Mr Speaker, I believe that the entire clause 28 should be deleted, and what the government seeks to achieve there be rather put in a service level Agreement.
Hon Chairman, do you want to —
Mr Speaker, I totally agree with him. So if you could put the Question on clause 28 —
I totally agree with you. I do not even think that this is a place for such a provision. This is a law on taxation and the use of the Fiscal Electronic Device. So, this is not the place to put such a provision. I would put the Question. Question put and amendment agreed to.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 36 -- add the following new interpretation: “‘communication service provider' means a person licensed by the National Communications Authority under section 3 of the Electronic Communications Act, 2008 (Act 775) to provide a public electronic communications service or network or voice telephony service.” Mr Speaker, the Interpretation Section already contains an interpretation on “communication service provider”. So I would further amend the amendment as contained, to submit the following interpretation of “communication service provider” in the original Bill. Mr Speaker, the reason is, if we read the current rendition in the Bill, it talks about a communication service provider to mean a mobile telephony network provider that uses Global Systems for Mobile Communication (GSM), appointed by the Authority, to provide data communication service between a user of a Fiscal Electronic Device and the Fiscal Electronic Device Management System, or the back-end system of the Authority. Mr Speaker, the reason for this amendment is that, the current amendment is too restrictive. GSM is an old technology — It is a 2G technology.
Mr Speaker, I have no objection, except that, we have already gone through the Interpretation section. What he is doing now would be to delete the definition of “communication service provider”, which — [Pause.]
Hon Chairman, you are looking at the Order Paper but that is what he did exactly when he got up to move the Motion. He asked that we delete what is at clause 36 and now insert the new rendition which he has drawn our attention to. So, if you do not object to the wording of the proposed amendment, then we could go to —
Mr Speaker, I have no objection, except that, I thought he would have come at a Second Consideration Stage.
We are at the Consideration Stage, and you know the rules are relaxed. Once we have not completed clause 36, he is entitled to draw our attention to this new rendition. He is not ruled out until a Second Consideration Stage.
Mr Speaker, I also have some amendments there.
Yes, you can bring them. Once we have not drawn the curtain on clause 36, you can propose new amendments there.
Mr Speaker, I am in support of the rendition offered by Hon Fredrick Opare- Ansah. This is because, what is advertised here even refers to a person. It is a natural person. So it is proper that we approve of the new rendition that he has offered.
Hon Member, you confused me because when you stood up, I thought it was Hon Fifi Kwetey; but I saw that it was Hon Dafeamekpor.
Mr Speaker, I take a cue.
Unless you amend the rule, I have to apply it. That is the right thing to do, anyway, in every Parliament; you speak from your seat. Do they not like the back bench?
Mr Speaker, we do.
The back bench is one of the best places to be.
Mr Speaker, my position is that, I am in support of the new rendition being offered by Hon Opare-Ansah. This is because, it takes out the ambiguity as contained in the reference to persons in the amendment that has been advertised.
Hon Members, we are being called upon to delete, under clause 36, the definition of “communication service provider”, and then insert what has been proposed by the Hon Member for Suhum, which is clearly spelt out at pages 5 and 6 of the Order Paper. Question put and amendment agreed to.
Hon Members, we would now move to clause 36 (iii) on page 6 of the Order Paper. Hon Chairman of the Committee?
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 36, add the following new interpretation: ‘“report' means a written account containing the requisite information to be submitted to the person to whom it is to be submitted.” Mr Speaker, we are further amending what is on the Order Paper.
Hon Chairman of the Committee, would you please go over it again?
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 36, add the following new interpretation: ‘“report' means a written account containing the requisite information to be submitted to the person to whom it is to be submitted.”
Hon Member, did you say “a written account” or “an electronic account”?
Mr Speaker, no; “a written account” covers both handwritten and electronically written. So, ‘“report' means a written account containing the requisite information to be submitted to the person to whom it is to be submitted.”
Hon Chairman, you may have to look at your proposed amendment again. Why do you need to put “and”? What you are saying is that a “report means a written account containing the requisite information submitted to the Authority”. Why do you have to say “and submitted to the Authority”?
Mr Speaker, I am not using what is on the Order Paper, and I am not saying “and submitted to the Authority”. My rendition is “and submitted to the person to whom it is to be submitted.” Mr Speaker, in the body of the Bill,there is a section where a report is made to the Police and also to the Authority. So this “report” does not only go to the Authority; it goes to the Police and also to the Authority. That is why we are now re-couching --
Hon Member, a report to the Police could be written or oral -- that is the state now. It does not need to be only in writing or electronically; it could also be oral when reporting to the police. Ms Safo — rose --
Yes, Hon Member?
Mr Speaker, I would want to propose a cleaner amendment to the amendment that has been proposed. Instead of “to the person to whom” -- we can just restrict it to the “relevant person”.
Mr Speaker, I believe that is not good drafting, so we could just make reference to the “relevant person” because of the explanation that the Hon Chairman of the Committee has given that it is not only the Authority that receives the information.
So, your new rendition would read as follows: ‘“report' means a written account containing the requisite information submitted to the relevant person”.
Mr Speaker, in this case, person would include --
Hon Member, is it the “appropriate person” or the “relevant person”?
Mr Speaker, “appropriate person” sounds better. [Laughter.]
Mr Speaker, yes.
Thank you. Hon Members, the Hon Chairman of the Committee has sought my leave to rephrase the proposed amendment to read: ‘“report' means a written account containing the requisite information submitted to the appropriate person”. Mr Dafeamekpor — rose --
Yes, Hon Member? Since you are now the available Hon Leader, you are entitled -- that is recognised by the rules and practice of the House.
Mr Speaker, I am grateful. Mr Speaker, the further amendment I wish to propose is that, instead of “the appropriate person”, we say ‘the appropriate “Authority”. This is because, the simple fact is that, we could have people who would be designated by the Authority to act on its behalf. So it is “appropriate” that we refer not to a ‘person' but to the “Authority”.
Hon Member, “Authority” has been defined -- that is the problem here. If you look at clause 36, “Authority” means the Ghana Revenue Authority established under section 1 of the Ghana Revenue Authority Act, 2009. So, if you use that “Authority” there, it would refer to this defined “Authority”, and that is the reason “person” may be clearer and more appropriate.
Mr Speaker, with all due respect, it does not make it superfluous. Rather, --
Hon Member, I have not said it makes it superfluous.
Very well, Mr Speaker.
Hon Member, unless you would want to argue that the use of “Authority” here is not that of a capital letter “A” but authority with a small ‘a', then you would be making a point.
Mr Speaker, I take a cue. I would tend to take the “authority”. Thank you.
Hon Chairman of the Committee, I am sure you have heard the Hon Member. He rather proposes that instead of “person”, you should use “authority”.
Mr Speaker, I have no objection. Question put and amendment agreed to.
We are still on clause 36 (iv) -- Hon Frederick Opare-Ansah?
Mr Speaker, the way the Business is ordered gives the impression that, this is a subclause of clause 36. It was originally an attempt of adding on to clause 19, but we realised the Question has already been put on clause 19. Mr Speaker, I therefore beg leave of you to amend the amendment as it stands by changing “Add the following new Sub- clause” and insert “Add the following new clause” and then give it a headnote of --
Hon Member, why are you adding this to clause 36?
Mr Speaker, that was why I said that --
Clause 36 is ‘interpretation', but this is not talking about interpretation.
Precisely, Mr Speaker.
So, if it is a new clause, then you would have to go to a Second Consideration Stage because we have dealt with clause 19.
Mr Speaker, this has nothing to do with clause 19 and that is the correction I am making. It is a new clause. So, I am asking to change it to, “Add the following new clause” and not “subclause”.
Yes, let me hear you.
I thank you, Mr Speaker. I would want to change, “Add the following new subclause” to “Add the following new clause” and then, there would be a Headnote of, “Capping of number of licences”. Then, Mr Speaker, the number 1 in front of the rendition would go away and it would now read;
Well, Hon Member, then, let me put the Question on the whole of clause 36.
Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Hon Members, I would now put the Question on the whole of clause 36. Question put and amendment agreed to. Clause 36 as variously amended ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Yes, now, Hon Member for -- Sorry, Hon Chairman of the Committee?
Mr Speaker, as he moved his amendment, I saw that he tried to effect some corrections in there. I think the time is rife for us to stop the Consideration of this Bill so that we can do some winnowing.
Do you want to do winnowing of his proposed amendment?
Mr Speaker, there are some others that the Hon Attorney- General and Minister for Justice has brought. So, all that would be properly considered tomorrow.
Hon Members, there is a proposal from the Hon Chairman of the Committee that, they still have some proposed amendments from the initiators of the Bill, that is, the Hon Attorney-General and Ministry of Justice and they would want to -- [Interruption.] -- Sorry?
Mr Speaker, the initiators are not the Hon Attorney-General and Minister for Justice. It is the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA).
Yes, it is the Minister for Finance. So, we have proposed amendment from the Hon Attorney-General and Minister for Justice. If they could take that to the winnowing stage, then, maybe, get them cleaned up before they come to the Floor. I believe that would be appropriate. Is it acceptable to the House? [Interruption.] So, we would have to stop here and then listen to the Hon Deputy Majority Leader for guidance as to what to do. But before we do that -- [Interruption.] Yes. Yes, Hon Deputy Majority Leader?
I thank you, Mr Speaker. I believe your direction has found favour with my good self that, indeed, we should draw the curtain at this point for the Committee to meet again and probably do winnowing to trash out a lot of these amendments so that when we come back to the Floor, we could take them smoothly through the process. So, Mr Speaker, I am in total agreement that the curtain should be drawn at this point.
Yes, the Hon Minority Chief Whip is available.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. It is past 2.00 p.m. so, we are at your mercy.
So, Hon Members, I would put the Question for an adjournment. [Pause.] The House is now in my hands and I can decide to put a Question or not. [Hear! Hear!] Observing Hon Members, I would prefer to put the Question so that the decision would be yours and not mine. Question put and Motion agreed to.