VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS AND THE OFFICIAL REPORT
Hon Members, item numbered 2 -- correction of Votes and Proceedings.
[No correction was made to the Votes and Proceedings of Tuesday, 13 th February, 2018.]
Mr Speaker, I am most grateful. Mr Speaker, I rise to ask for correction on column 59. The third paragraph under my name. It says; and I beg to quote: “Indeed, last week when His Excellency President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo met the media, in response to a veteran question by journalist comrade Kwesi Pratt…”. It should be; “in response to a question by veteran journalist”, so, the “veteran” has been placed wrongly. The “veteran” should come before the “journalist”, not before the “question”.
Thank you very much, Hon Member. It would be corrected accordingly.
Mr Speaker, indeed, that very paragraph read by Hon Okudzeto, the President's name has not been spelt correctly. Nana Addo Dankwa, there is no “H” after the “Addo Dankwa”.
The Hansard should please note this seriously. Any other corrections? Hon Members, in the absence of any further corrections, the Official Report of Wednesday, 24th January, 2018 is hereby admitted as the true record of proceedings. Hon Members, Official Report of Thursday, 25th January, 2018. Any corrections?
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, in the fifth paragraph of column 121, it is in respect of the Question I asked the Hon Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection. I would like to read and make the appropriate correction. “Mr Speaker, all of us are aware that our streets are flooded with beggars and some of them spend the night on the streets. So, while awaiting the implementation of National Patriotic Party.” Mr Speaker, I said, New Patriotic Party, but it has been captured as “National Patriotic Party.” I do not remember the last time NPP became a national political party. So, I would want the correction to be effected. Thank you very much.
Thank you very much for the correction. Any further corrections? The Official Report of Wednesday, 24th January, 2018 as corrected is hereby admitted as the true record of proceedings. Hon Members, item numbered 3 -- Statements. A Statement by the Hon Member for Tain on certain incidents in the constituency as well as a Statement by the Hon Member for Atwima Kwanwoma, also on certain brutalities. Yes, Hon Member for Tain?
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, for giving me the opportunity to make a Statement on another case of murder in the Seikwa Traditional Area in the Tain District of the Brong Ahafo Region. Mr Speaker, it is with a heavy heart that I make this Statement on the gruesome murder of another traditional ruler in my constituency. Mr Speaker, Nana Kwadwo Tannor Naasi II, Gyaasehene of Seikwa Traditional Area in the Tain District, was on Thursday evening shot dead by an unknown person in his living room at Seikwa. According to Chief Supt Nicholas Ofosuhene, the Berekum Divisional Police Commander, on Thursday, February 8th, 2018, at about 7.30 p.m., Nana Tannor Naasi, aged 65, was watching television in his sitting room together with two women, Fati Musah and Margaret Adjabeng. While in the living room, the deceased received a phone call and spoke for some few minutes. Immediately the call ended, an unidentified person shot him from behind through a glass window killing him instantly. Fati who was lying on the floor while watching the television was hit by bullets on her right shoulder. She was rushed to the Seikwa Medical Centre where she is receiving treatment. Margaret Adjabeng escaped unhurt. The body of the deceased has been deposited at the Sunyani Regional Hospital mortuary for autopsy. Mr Speaker, it would be recalled that Nana Kwaku Dwuma Ankoana, the late Paramount Chief of Seikwa Traditional Area died four years ago in a similar mysterious circumstance and up till now no convictions have been made. Mr Speaker, some residents believe that the murder of the two chiefs is the result of a perceived chieftaincy dispute.
why would a person resort to the use of violence and to a more disturbing extent, the use of guns to settle a chieftaincy dispute? Barely a day passes without the news on the murder of a traditional ruler, either by feuding factions or land guards. Could it also be that, Mr Speaker, the perpetrators of these dastardly acts are emboldened by their assumption of impunity and/or a relaxed security system that they can always outwit?
Thank you very much, Hon Member. Now, Hon Dr Kojo Appiah-Kubi? Police brutalities and rights abuse in Foase
Mr Speaker, death is a misery that ends the life of the soul and the body of human beings on this earth. It is very cruel and heartless, particularly if it is caused to dear young ones by someone you know and the grounds for such deaths are needless and difficult to grasp. What then remains behind is brokenness, emptiness, fear and bitterness. Mr Speaker, this is probably what is left currently in Foase in the aftermath of a very bad blood bath on 7th February, 2018 which led to the death of three young people and several people sustaining severe gunshot injuries. Mr Speaker, Foase is a middle sized town, and hitherto the district capital of Atwima Kwanwoma District in the Ashanti Region. Per a supreme court decision, the district capital is to be moved from Foase to Twedie, also another town in the same district. On the fateful Wednesday, 7th February, some youth of Foase, as it was alleged, protested against the removal of fittings of the District Assembly block, since they had not been given any prior information. They went to the premises of the District Assembly to demand explanation about the removal of the fittings from the District Chief Executive (DCE) who was then in his office. In the ensuing confusion, policemen were called in to restore calm. Later, another contingent of policemen from the Buffalo Unit of the Ashanti Regional Police office was despatched to Foase to beef up the numbers. Mr Speaker, according to an eyewitness account, as reported by Adomonline, “...some few minutes after the people converged at the Assembly, they heard the firing of guns which resulted in the [instant] death of two residents About 30 people sustained severe gunshot wounds. Another person lost his life from the severe gunshot injuries the following day. Six days after that incident, about 20 people in serious conditions are still hospitalised, undergoing surgeries and receiving medical attention.” Information available to me corroborates accounts of several eyewitnesses that most victims were shot at close range. Several rounds of bullets were shot just to disperse a small crowd and this led to about 30 unarmed people sustaining severe gunshot injuries and three deaths. Mr Speaker, this Foase incident of the police abuses and brutalities does not augur well for public confidence in the Police Service. Per their professional training, the policemen should have been able to control the unarmed crowd without the use of live ammunitions and that is my personal opinion. Mr Speaker, it is in the light of these numerous deaths and severe injuries that I seek your indulgence to request for the following: 1) a thorough investigation into the whole incident by this august house; 2) stiffer sanctions against any-body who may be found culpable and to have abused the rights of innocent citizens of Foase; 3) State financial support for those injured through gunshots recu-perating at home and also those in hospitals to enable them receive the needed medical care. 4) compensation for the bereaved families of those who have lost their lives, and 5) other remedial measures that can go to improve the professiona-lism of policemen. With these few words, I thank you for the opportunity, Mr Speaker.
Thank you very much, Hon Member. Is the Hon Minister for Tourism, Arts and Culture in the House? If so, then the Hon Minister may please make her Statement on National Chocolate Day, alias “Valentine's Day”. National Chocolate Day
Mr Speaker, I rise to make this Statement on the National Cholcolate Day and for the good people, who we cherish so much, the farmers. Mr Speaker, yesterday, on behalf of His Excellency the President of the Republic of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo- Addo, I joined the chiefs and people of Mampong- Akuapem to officially cut the sod that will mark the commencement of work for the construction of a befitting
Thank you very much, Hon Minister for the Statement so ably made.
Only Chocolate Day.
Only Chocolate Day? All right. Mr Speaker, I am very happy that today, Ghanaians have come to settle with the fact that what used to be called Valentine Day is now known as Chocolate Day in Ghana and I was very happy when you aliased it and said alias Valentine's Day. The reason is that, for several years in this country, cocoa has been an alien commodity. The products of cocoa have been alien commodities. Chocolate, which is eaten worldwide, which is loved by most people in this world, is rather seen in this country as secondary product and people scarcely eat it and when they do, it is a luxury. Mr Speaker, with our committed and determined approach to make sure chocolate is eaten, and that we set aside an important day like this as a National Chocolate Day, it is something we need to celebrate and urge Ghanaians to do so. The importance of it is that the production of chocolate will increase in Ghana, the transformation of cocoa beans to edible chocolate will increase in Ghana, the job creation that would accompany it would expand and the economy would be better off. So, it is not something we need to joke about. It is something we need to work with and ensure that it stays in the country and ensure that it takes root and become part and parcel of us. We must change our culture, the culture of adoring cocoa, the products of cocoa and ensure that Ghanaians themselves find use of what we produce in the world. Seventy per cent of the total production of cocoa is from West Africa and Ghana is the second largest producer of cocoa. If today the world decides that they are going to use synthetic cocoa, and that they are not going to use our cocoa anymore, what would we do? What would be the purpose of the many investments that we have done on cocoa? So, it is good that we can consume and enjoy what we produce. It is good that the young people of today would see today as a very important day to celebrate cocoa. I am happy also to note that the Hon Minister is going to cut the sod for the construction of a museum to honour the memory of Tetteh Quarshie, the man who brought cocoa to Ghana, whose name has been extolled worldwide for what he has done. That single individual who has changed the course of history and the economic nature of our country. Mr Speaker, I believe that today and every other day in every other year which a day is set aside like today is celebrated, would be a redefinition of what we would want to do with our lives because, it is important that our economy changes. It is important that Guggisberg's economy, which allows us to just carry raw cocoa beans to Europe, begins to change and it is going to change for the good. I will urge all the young people of this country to see this day as not just a day of licentiousness, a day of celebrating love which is defined as being a relation between man and woman, but a day when we love ourselves, when we can produce and eat what we produce, when we can at least take a bite of Ghana and be happy that we are producing and eating what we have in this country. Mr Speaker, with this, I thank you very much for the opportunity.
Mr Speaker, I would like to use this opportunity to congratulate the Hon Member who made the Statement on the day to mark the National Chocolate Day under the theme “Eat Ghana, Eat Chocolate”. [Interruption.] Mr Speaker, I must say that this is a very good effort, in the sense that we are known over the years to be primary producers of cocoa and we export the raw beans to earn our foreign exchange over the years. As a result, we are quite vulnerable to the happenings in international markets. So, there is that conscious effort, as my Hon Colleague on the other side of the House who just spoke alluded to the fact that it would be good to add some value to the raw beans and make good gains from that. Mr Speaker, so the case of educating all of us to eat cocoa and cocoa products such as chocolate, and to set a day such as today in place of Valentine's Day, as we have always known and which also comes with all the associated evils, so that we can all appreciate the consumption of chocolate instead of availing ourselves to the ills of such celebration which is the understanding of many out there. So, we can increase the consumption of cocoa and cocoa products, so that when that is done, we could then encourage people to begin to patronise the product in order to add value and make capital and economic gains from the addition of value to the primary product. Mr Speaker, I must congratulate the Ministry for carrying the campaign forthrightly and ensuring that this time around, the campaign at schools and on the social media would create the awareness to get many more people to participate in the celebration of the day and also purchase the product. I must say that a year ago, in celebrating the day at Kumasi, which also coincided with the 70 th Anniversary of the establishment of COCOBOD, H. E. the President of Ghana was in attendance, and he actually made a very wonderful statement that I would want to find out whether it is being done. He assured all school-going people, from primary to secondary, one chocolate a day. So that it also goes to boost the local consumption of chocolate a day. I do not know whether that is being done now. If it is not, perhaps he should walk the talk so that we can get many more people to lick the chocolate and I would appreciate that.
I trust the Hon Minister would make chocolates available for the children we conspicuously see in the Public Gallery either now or when they are leaving. Hon Minister, if it requires magic, do so.
Mr Speaker, with your permission, we brought cocoa drinks specifically for the children. It is available at the Lobby. There are 400 cups available for the school children in commemoration of Tetteh Quarshie. [Hear! Hear!]
We are anxiously waiting. [Laughter.]
Mr Speaker, I am very grateful for the opportunity. Mr Speaker, let me take the opportunity to commend the Hon Minister for Tourism, Arts and Culture for the Statement on the National Chocolate Day. Mr Speaker, originally, this country was celebrating this day as you referred, in the alias as Valentine's Day. This is a typical example of branding a global event to have a local appeal. For that innovation, I would like to commend the Ministry for embarking on that journey of branding the day in a way that would promote the consumption of chocolate in this country. Mr Speaker, my search shows that the Cocoa Processing Company has a potential to process 60,000 metric tons of cocoa a year. But as we speak now, they only do about 1,000 metric tons and that indicates two things: it meant that we are under producing and there is great potential in the production of cocoa. It is my hope that the One District, One Factory Secretariat would take notice of this and invest in the sector. Mr Speaker, the chocolate we encourage Ghanaians to consume, in this case, is the surest token to show love. Mr Speaker, some 2,000 years ago, Christ was asked a question that was meant to be very difficult. The question is that, what is the greatest commandment in the scriptures? In His answer, He said you have to love the Lord your God with all your mind and heart and the second part also contains love -- to love your neighbour as yourself. Mr Speaker, for some people, they might not necessarily need chocolate. For those who are naked, we would have to give them some clothes to show kindness and love. For those who are vulnerable, we have to show some level of protection; for those who are hungry, we have to give some food. So, we must remember that this is a day that is meant to remind us that it is important to show compassion. We have to be kind without necessarily expecting some favour, and to do action without expecting reward. This is the most important ingredient in the chocolate that we are promoting. Mr Speaker, as we eat chocolate, we also show patriotism by promoting our own which is the made in Ghana chocolate. But we should also remember that beyond eating chocolate, we also act as Ghanaians by showing compassion and love, because we are known as people who are very compassionate and we reach out to strangers or foreigners. I am particularly glad that cocoa, and for that matter, chocolate is not only an item that we consume but we also use it to create job opportunities for others. I am happy that Tetteh Quarshie is about to be appropriately remembered and celebrated through the museum at Mampong Akuapem. My search also shows that he has roots in the Greater Accra Region, specifically, Teshie in my constituency. We would also explore that and make sure that he is appropriately recognised in our constituency. Mr Speaker, I am very grateful for the opportunity.
Mr Speaker, I thank you very much for the opportunity to also comment on the very important Statement which was made by the Hon Minister for Tourism, Arts and Culture, on Valentine's Day and Chocolate Day in Ghana. Mr Speaker, Valentine's Day symbolises love as my Hon Colleagues have said. Therefore, if we add Chocolate Day to it, it signifies and makes the day more important for us in Ghana. Aside symbolising love, with the use of chocolates, I would want to say that the health benefits of cocoa products have also been well researched into. Mr Speaker, as we celebrate this day with cocoa and its products, it is not only to show love, but also to show that if we eat cocoa and its related products, it would bring to us health benefits. Cocoa, especially Ghanaian cocoa, is good for the heart. [NII KWARTEI TITUS-GLOVER][DR SANDAARE] Cocoa improves our blood circulation and it has other properties that would make us healthy as Ghanaians. Eating cocoa or chocolate would not increase our cholesterol level. In fact, it is known that it rather reduces our cholesterol level. It protects us against hypertension and diabetes. Mr Speaker, it is important that we stress that eating cocoa and its related products is good for us as Ghanaians, and we should promote it in other parts of the world. Mr Speaker, people who waste their time on aphrodisiacs and other sexual enhancers -- If they take a hot cup of cocoa, it would enhance their performance as Ghanaians. Mr Speaker, cocoa is good, but we should not abuse this day which is meant for love. We should love not with emotions but with the heart. Therefore, let us show love even to the poor and to those who cannot afford even a bite of the good chocolate that we are sharing here. Let us show them love with other things that we can give. Mr Speaker, to conclude, I would also want to say that today is also Ash Wednesday. God has balanced the day for Catholics. We should also fast and share with the poor as we share this day of love. I thank you very much, Mr Speaker.
The last contributor. Daniel Nii Kwartei Titus-Glover (NPP --Tema East): I thank you very much, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I equally rise to support and commend the Hon Minister for Tourism, Arts and Culture for her Statement on the National Chocolate Day. Mr Speaker, if Hon Colleagues would recall, the Valentine's Day was changed to National Chocolate Day by the then Minister for Tourism and Modernisation of the Capital City, the late Hon Jake Otanka Obetsebi Lamptey. Cocoa, as we all know, has so many good sides. It is medicinal; it could be turned into cosmetic products; it creates foreign exchange for our country; and above all, it creates jobs right from the production base on our farms where our farmers work so hard to produce this for us. Mr Speaker, I must say that after the cocoa has been produced by our farmers, it must end up in our cocoa factories. I am happy to say that the cocoa processing factory is just at the backyard of my mother's house. Unfortunately, sometimes, they do not have much of the beans to add value to produce and make them into the chocolates. I would want to agree with my Colleague, Hon Quaittoo, for the statement he made earlier, that the Cocoa Processing Company needs to be supported more with these beans so that they would be able to produce and add value and get foreign exchange for our country. Mr Speaker, I am happy that the Hon Minister for Tourism, Arts and Culture wants to honour the late great grandfather, Tetteh Quarshie. I recall when he came from Fernando Po to plant the beans in the soil of Osu; because it was not conducive enough, it had to find its way all the way up in Akuapem Mampong. Mr Speaker, when we talk about Tetteh Quarshie and Mampong, inasmuch as this museum is coming up, for so many years and decades, the people of Akuapem Mampong have held onto the production of cocoa before it got to other places of our country, including my own village in Amonie, Enchi, the Sefwi areas, Ashanti Region and parts of Brong Ahafo Region. We cannot talk about Akuapem Mampong if they could not hold this cocoa until this time. Mr Speaker, I believe that for the Hon Minister to go back to Mampong Akuapem to recognise the role of Tetteh Quarshie, we need to do more than that. I was privileged to have seen some of the tools that Tetteh Quarshie used in plucking the cocoa. They are still in the family house in Mampong Akuapem. I am sure if we are able to negotiate with the family, we could showcase them in the museum for people to know the contribution of the great Tetteh Quarshie of our time. Mr Speaker, I cannot speak of Mampong Akuapem without looking at their hospital. I would want to urge my Hon Colleague -- I would join forces with her to appeal to COCOBOD to consider what they can do in honour of Tetteh Quarshie apart from the museum. At least, they should renovate the hospital on that stretch of the road from Accra through the Akuapem Hills to Koforidua and back. This is an appeal the chief has made to me, and I am happy that the Hon Minister has brought the matter up. Cocoa is a very important product for our country; it creates jobs and has medicinal value apart from earning foreign exchange for our country. Let us support the Hon Minister for Tourism, Arts and Culture and also produce more cocoa to create jobs for our people. Mr Speaker, I am so grateful and honoured for the opportunity you have offered me.
Leadership? Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I should thank you for the opportunity to contribute to the Statement ably made by the Hon Minister for Tourism, Arts and Culture and Hon Member of Parliament for Evalue Ajomoro Gwira, Hon Catherine Afeku, for the Statement on the National Chocolate Day. Otherwise, as you rightly pointed out, the Ghanaian version of Valentine's Day is the Chocolate Day. As the Hon Titus-Glover said, we should pay tribute to the memory of the late Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey; he was a very good marketer and an advertising expert, especially for adding the shift from romance on 14th February and the reality of using it to celebrate Ghana's richest export product of cocoa. Mr Speaker, the young ones whom we have referred to, still associate 14 th February, Valentine's Day with romantic love. It could be with one's wife, children, girlfriends, that is, to those who have them; I am not interested in asking in what numbers they may have them - that we share the joy and romance. On Valentine's Day, I see an Alhaji seated in front of me who wants to be recycled into a young man seriously taking chocolate -- Sompahene. Chocolate is meant for them; as we grow, we must show affection and love to our children and wives and tell them how much we love and care.
Thank you very much. Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to also make a little contribution on the Statement made by the able Hon Minister for Tourism, Arts and Culture.
Mr Speaker, Valentine's Day is really set apart for the declaration of affection, but increasingly, we seem to be departing from that course. Originally, it was set aside for the declaration or expression of affection and making peace with one another, and so we should restrict ourselves to that. Mr Speaker, incidentally, for those who are Catholics among us, this year coincides with the commencement of Lent; a period of penitence. Mr Speaker, we should do serious retrospection to really assess ourselves on where we are with our Maker. Mr Speaker, the Hon Minority Leader made a few issues about constructing a benefitting hospital in memory of the late Tetteh Quarshie in the Eastern Region. Mr Speaker, I believe that it is important we reminded ourselves that Tetteh Quarshie was from the Greater Accra Region and not the Eastern Region, even though the successful farm that he cultivated was in the Eastern Region. Mr Speaker, let us come to think of it, we have now built a regional hospital for the Greater Accra Region and it bears no particular name -- it is only called the Ridge Hospital. Could we not take the opportunity to name it after Tetteh Quarshie for the significant role that he played in the life of this country? Mr Speaker, this is just food for thought. Mr Speaker, the Hon Minority Leader reminded us about the hotel rates which are not really encouraging external or internal tourism. Mr Speaker, this is very right, but let me also add that it is not only hotel rates but air fares. Mr Speaker, air fares are very exorbitant, and it is outrageous to think of the fact that ferrying oneself from London, through the airspace of Ghana to Johannesburg in South Africa is cheaper than ferrying oneself from London to Accra. Mr Speaker, it is unimaginable and it cannot be understood. I believe the time is right for us to interrogate what is going into this. Mr Speaker, it is not as if the airlines are not having good patronage because even with the double decker jumbo jets that British Airways is now flying to Ghana, the aeroplane is almost always full, to the extent that people may have to be placed on a waiting list. So, we must attend to this. Mr Speaker, back to the issue of the National Chaocolate Day and the problems that the Cocoa Processing Company (CPC) faces in churning out cocoa products. The first observation is that we have politicised the administration of CPC. The Managing Directors have been appointed by various administrations without necessarily paying attention to the competence of those people regarding the growth of the factory. Mr Speaker, I do recollect that at a particular time, the Managing Director of CPC came from the Ghana Commercial Bank; he was one of the senior officers of the bank, who had been found guilty of some malfeasance and had been dropped from the Ghana Commercial Bank. Mr Speaker, for whatever reason, he was employed as the Managing Director of CPC and so what did we expect from such a person? Mr Speaker, indeed, CPC has multiple challenges and that is why it is not faring well. Firstly, the main throughput of CPC used to be the light cocoa beans, which came cheaper than the main season cocoa beans. Increasingly, the light crop beans is diminishing and so they are not able to fall on that, they now depend mostly on the main crop beans which is very expensive. Particularly, because the cocoa from Ghana attracts premium price while selling on the international market one requires that when it is injected into the industry, maybe, the confectionaries that come out, the output would attract premium price. Mr Speaker, but we cannot sell the chocolate at premium price. It is one of the reasons why CPC has not been doing well. Mr Speaker, the packaging of the product also leaves much to be desired. I agree with the Hon Minority Leader that CPC is also not following international markets. They are not exploring the potentials of the emerging markets like India and China. This is because the markets in the UK and USA are about closed and they depend so much on the synthetics that they add just a little of the natural cocoa to their products. Mr Speaker, when one would go to Harrisburg in Pennsylvania, where the cocoa centre is, they only describe the product as original Ghana cocoa, but very little of Ghana cocoa is added, and that is what affects our own factory here. The through put is cocoa and not much else, and when we depend so much on the natural product, then we are not able to break even. Mr Speaker, I know for a fact that CPC owes not only COCOBOD for the quantity of products supplied, but they also owe a consortium of banks led by Barclays Bank, which lent US$10 million to CPC in 2006, for purposes of automating their system. Mr Speaker, up till now, CPC is not able to pay that debt with all the interests that keeps piling. That is the problem. So, certainly, CPC needs a massive bailout, and I would implore our own Committee on Employment, Social Welfare and State Enterprises, which has as one of their charges to investigate the activities of CPC. Mr Speaker, I beg to refer the House to Standing Order 184(1): “The Committee on Employment, Social Welfare and State Enterprises, composed of twenty Members, shall review and study on a continuing basis the operation of State Enterprises with a view to determining their economy and efficiency and also deal with matters relating to Employment and Social Welfare generally.”
“It shall also be the duty of the Committee to examine the reports and accounts of public enterprises and in the context of their autonomy and efficiency whether their operations are being managed in accordance with sound business principles and prudent commercial practices;” Mr Speaker, next year, when we meet to celebrate National Chocolate Day, we expect our Committee to come to Parliament with their findings to establish the efficiency or otherwise of CPC as a State enterprise.
Thank you very much, Hon Majority Leader. Hon Second Deputy Speaker?
Thank you very, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I just want to add a few words to the Statement that has been made by the Hon Minister for Tourism, Arts and Culture. Mr Speaker, I recently visited Akwapim and took the opportunity to see the first cocoa farm that was established by Tetteh Quashie. Definitely, I had to pay a courtesy call on the chiefs and people of the traditional area. Mr Speaker, Tetteh Quashie was born in Osu in the 1850s, and so he is a Ga, but being an artisan, the Basel Mission took him to Fernando Po, now called Equatorial Guinea. It was on his return that he lawfully took the cocoa seeds but had to smuggle them because if they had been seen in his luggage, they would have retrieved them from him. So, he did not steal the cocoa seeds; he lawfully took them. However, Mr Speaker, when he planted the first seed at Osu, it did not produce much fruit, and this is what took him to Akwapim where he finally settled and got the first cocoa farm established. Mr Speaker, he died very early, at the age of 47 years, around 1897, but the farm still exists. If we would want to promote tourism, then we would have to do something for the people of Akwapim and also upgrade the small building over there as a rest place for tourists. It is now in ruins. In fact, I was there, personally, and I did pledge to support the rehabilitation of that building. Mr Speaker, we cannot be celebrating National Chocolate Day without celebrating Tetteh Quashie. I believe that is not proper. In fact, when we say the mainstay of our economy is cocoa, it is an understatement; we should be referring to Tetteh Quashie, but many people know Tetteh Quashie by the Overpass; the Tetteh Quashie Circle. That is all. But Tetteh Quashie is more than that. I think this whole country was built on the shoulders of Tetteh Quashie, yet, when they are celebrating the National Chocolate Day, I am told by the chiefs and people of Akwapim that they are not even invited; they are not even acknowledged, and they are not happy about it. I would want the Hon Minister to take this up. Mr Speaker, I am aware that during former President Kufuor's regime, they attempted building an archive; a very huge building. I visited it; it is still uncompleted. That is the sad story that we have in this country. We rush to initiate projects and we never complete them. In particular, when the Government is no more, they are not followed up by new Governments and they are just abandoned. I am happy that after I called the Chairman of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Hon Hackman Owusu- Agyeman, he took up the matter, and I am told the contractor is back on site. But Mr Speaker, I would want to support the call, however, that we do something more for Tetteh Quashie, not just a regional hospital. I would prefer a tertiary hospital. I believe if we upgrade the existing Tetteh Quashie Hospital to a tertiary hospital, it would be a befitting monument for Tetteh Quashie. Mr Speaker, my attention was drawn by the chief to the fact that there is also no befitting statue for Tetteh Quashie, and so many people cannot picture him. So, I took the trouble to take the picture of the portrait that is almost defaced at the farm, and I have it here with me. Mr Speaker, in my opinion, we should really honour our heroes; we should celebrate them. It is good to establish a National Chocolate Day. We should stop talking about it as Valentine's Day; it should be Chocolate Day. But we should celebrate that together with the person who brought cocoa to Ghana, and that was Tetteh Quashie. Mr Speaker, with this, I also thank the Hon Minister for coming to make the Statement to the House. I thank you very much, Mr Speaker.
Thank you very much, Hon Second Deputy Speaker. The two Statements by the Hon Member for Tain and the Hon Member for Atwima Kwanwoma are referred to the Committee on Defence and Interior for further consideration and report. The Statement made by the Hon Minister here, this morning, should be further considered by the Committee on Trade, Industry and Tourism in such a way that the various brilliant ideas brought in this discussion would be further taken up. It is important for us to, for example, have cocoa breaks officialised. Sometimes, you would see it here or there. This cannot happen in India, for example, and we must let same things happen here. That is the only way others could come and accept them. So, if those of us here decide that at every official or public function by the State or State agencies, we should rather have, cocoa breaks, so would it be, and we must also find a way of encouraging other organisations, while in Ghana, to also do what Roman's do when they are in Rome. When you go to Rome, you do what the Romans do. These are very important benchmarks for our self respect and also for improving our economy. And so, the Committee responsible for tourism, kindly have a look at that too. Thank you very much for this lively discussion. Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, your directive in respect of the Hon Member for Tain's Statement, even though you rightly referred it to the Committee on Defence and Interior, it is important that your directive goes to the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) and the law enforcement agencies to intensify -- [Interruption.] It is a committee of Parliament when they meet; we are talking about reprisals on the ground. So, Mr Speaker's directive must be for the IGP to take particular interest. We did not contribute to it because we agreed with you. We are alright with your referral to the Committee on Defence and Interior, unless I heard you wrongly. Mr Speaker, a committee of Parliament would not act as decisively as the IGP, as Police listening to your directive. This is because I hear this is the second murder in his in his constituency as a chief. Therefore, your directive to the Committee is appropriate, but I indulge you to further direct the IGP to take interest in that area to maintain law and order.
Hon Majority Leader, if you have no objection, shall we --
Mr Speaker, with the greatest respect to my Hon Colleague the Minority Leader, the Executive is represented by a substantive Minister for the Interior, so, the Committee on Defence and Interior would be the appropriate Committee to make further recommen- dations through the Ministry of the Interior to invite the IGP, respectfully.
Hon Majority Leader, any views in this direction?
Mr Speaker, I thought the import of your own referral is for the Committee to interrogate the issues raised in the Statement and proffer some recommendations thereafter. The Hon Minority leader is suggesting that the Police be requested to be very proactive in the happenings on the ground, not knowing what may happen tomorrow. So, it does not derogate from what the Hon Deputy Minister said. It only adds to it, that whereas the Committee of Parliament would be working, immediately the Police is supposed to be on the look out to prevent any other untoward incident from happening, be it reprisal and so on. So it adds to it; it does not derogate from it.
The viewpoints of the two Leaders are added accordingly. At the Commencement of Public Business, the item numbered 4 -- Motions regarding State of the Nation Address. During the discussion, the Hon First Deputy Speaker would take the Chair. Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, there is an Order Paper Addendum before us which relates to the Special Petroleum Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2018 --
The Hon First Deputy Speaker is here, so, just a minute.
MR FIRST DEPUTY SPEAKER
Hon Majority Leader, you may continue.
Mr Speaker, I was making an application that we attend to the Business set out on the Order Paper Addendum. It is to allow for the Presentation and First Reading of the Special Petroleum Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2018.
Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion.
Did you make a request for --
Mr Speaker, I sincerely was engaging the second -- Mr Speaker, he can proceed. At least, I am sincere that I was consulting with the Hon Second Deputy Speaker. Indeed, this is a finance matter, so, he is well grounded to have participated on my behalf. So, Mr Speaker, there is no objection. The Table Office discussed it with me. I am sure there is even going to be some correction to the document which is attached. So we are following through. Thank you.
Hon Majority Leader, did you move the Motion?
No, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I applied for us to consider the item set out on the Order Paper Addendum. It is for the Presentation and First Reading of the Special Petroleum Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2018. Mr Speaker, if you indulge us, the Deputy Minister, Hon Kwaku Agyeman Kwarteng is here with us. He could do the presentation and First Reading on behalf of the Hon Minister, who is outside the jurisdiction.
Very well. Order Paper Addendum, item 1 -- Presentation and First Reading of Bills, Special Petroleum Tax (Amendment) Bill, Minister for Finance?
BILLS -- FIRST READING
The item numbered 2 on the Order Paper Addendum? Very well. Hon Members, I am advised that the items numbered 2 and 3 on the Order Paper Addendum are not ready, so we would come back to the main Order Paper and go on to the item numbered 4. Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, that is so. We have submitted a list to you about the Hon Members who have been earmarked by the various caucuses to contribute to the debate.
I cannot hear you.
Mr Speaker, the item numbered 4 is on the continuation of the debate on the President's message on the State of the Nation. I am saying that the caucuses have submitted the names of Hon Members to contribute. Today we intend to take four from either side, because of our late start, and you have the list, so you may go according to the list you have.
Very well. Hon Minority Leader, what sayest thou?
Mr Speaker, that is what we agreed to, and we may commence full debate on item numbered 4 on the Message on the State of the Nation. The Motion was moved subsequent to the President's presentation, and we can commence full debate. We have submitted our list with the agreed allotted time allocated accordingly.
Very well, we would start with the Hon Member for New Juaben South, Dr Assibey-Yeboah.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I rise to contribute to the Motion listed as the item numbered 4 on today's Order Paper. I have 12 minutes, so I would stick to three main issues. First would be the Auditor-General's Report on the liabilities of Ministries, Departments and Agencies for 2016. Mr Speaker, on page 17 of the State of the Nation Address, the President talked about savings made and contained in the Auditor-General's Report. Mr Speaker, ordinarily, the Auditor- General audits public accounts, but this document has been given to Hon Members, which is a Report of the Auditor-General on the liabilities of Ministries, Departments and Agencies as at December, 2016. Mr Speaker, upon assumption of office, claims were submitted to the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Government. Ministries, Departments and Agencies submitted liabilities totalling GH¢11.3 billion to the Ministry of Finance. Mr Speaker, prudent as the Hon Minister for Finance and his team are, they referred same to the Auditor-General. We are talking of claims of GH¢ 11.3 billion, submitted to the Ministry of Finance. Upon referring the matter to the Auditor-General, he also asked the same MDAs to submit the claims directly to him. Mr Speaker, just by the mere submission of the claims directly to the Auditor-General, the liabilities reduced from GH¢ 11.3 billion to GH¢ 9.9 billion. So, from that we made a saving of GH¢ 1.4 billion. Mr Speaker, the audit by the Auditor- General did not just happen. This is because, if I take you back to page 4 of the State of the Nation Address, 2017, the President at the time hinted that the liabilities were being audited. Also, in the 2017 Budget, the Minister for Finance hinted that he had asked the Auditor- General to audit all those liabilities. Mr Speaker, inasmuch as section 16 of the Audit Service Act (2000), Act 584 permits the Auditor-General to carry out such an exercise, I would want to submit that it was the Government that urged the Auditor-General to do what he did. In total, an amount of GH¢ 5.4 billion was rejected after the audit. Mr Speaker, specifically, in some of the instances, there was absence of relevant documentation. In other instances, companies used projected contract cost and in other instances, goods were not supplied. There were also claims that had already been paid for, and in some cases, the commitments and payments were outside the GIFMIS System. Mr Speaker, if the Ministry for Finance had gone ahead and effected these payments, the country would have lost a whooping GH¢ 5.4 billion. So, through the prudent management of the Hon Minister for Finance and his team, Ghana has saved GH¢5.4 billion. Mr Speaker, the Vice President indicated at the beginning of 2017 that there were some uncovered arrears which we did not understand. At the time, we could remember that the Vice President mentioned GH¢ 7 billion. The Minority said that the arrears uncovered were due to the reforms which were being undertaken in the contracting system under GIFMIS. After the audit, and behold, GH¢ 5.4 billion has been made. Mr Speaker, if we go into the specifics, the Electoral Commission headed by Madam Charlotte Osei submitted a liability of GH¢ 293 million, that liability was rejected. The Ministry of Youth and Sports submitted a claim of GH¢ 89.9 million, but only GH¢ 172,000.00 was certified. The Ministry of Communication under the National Communication Authority (NCA) submitted a claim of GH¢ 23.4 million, but same was rejected. Mr Speaker, the Ministry of Energy submitted a claim of GH¢ 596 million, but GH¢ 307 million was rejected. The Ministry of Transport, where the bus branding took place submitted a claim of GH¢ 31.2 million, and GH¢ 14 million was rejected. Mr Speaker, governments are elected to ensure that countries benefit from their rule. That is what the Government of the NPP and Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo- Addo is doing. They have saved a whopping GH¢ 5.4 billion as a result of prudence, diligence and Value for Money Audit (VMA). Mr Speaker, I would want to shift my attention to the Tier Two Pension Funds. On page Five of the State of the Nation Address, the President mentioned that thanks to the diligence of the hard working Hon Minister for Employment and Labour Relations, we have been able to transfer some GH¢ 3.1 billion of Tier Two Pension Funds into their custodial accounts. Mr Speaker, you would recall that the NPP Government in 2008 passed the National Pensions Act, Act 766 as amended, which established the Three Tier Pension Scheme. Mr Speaker, we all know that the first tier is mandatory. The Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) manages it. The Second Tier is a workbased pension scheme mandatory for all formal sector employees, but privately managed. The law came into effect in January, 2010. All these funds were to go to the custodial accounts of the public sector units. For seven (7) years, the NDC Government did not transfer the funds. As a matter of fact, when the employment unions: Civil Servant Association of Ghana (CLOSAG), Ghana Medical Association (GMA), Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT) and the others attempted a strike, they were sent to court by the NDC Government. They did not go through the door, but they went through the window to stop them from the strike. When the Government was asked when it would transfer the funds, it said that Government should be the one to manage the funds of public sector workers. Mr Speaker, even when they were asked of how much funds they have collected at the temporary pensions funds at the Bank of Ghana (BoG), they would
not disclose. The Hon Minister for Employment and Labour Relations at the time, Hon Haruna Iddrisu would churn out figures only to be contradicted by the National Pensions Regulatory Authority (NPRA). Mr Speaker, in one year, the NPP Government has transferred GH¢3.1 billion, which sat for six years at the BoG and earned no interest to the custodial accounts of the employees. For six years, they held on to these funds but in only a year, we have transferred GH¢ 3.1 billion. Mr Speaker, that is a clear difference. The people went on strike and they complained for six years but they would not transfer the funds. In 11 months, look at what the NPP Government has done. Mr Speaker, I would turn my attention to the issue of public procurement. I can see the Hon Minister for Public Procurement here, so she would attest to what I would say. Mr Speaker, the President, again in his State of the Nation Address, stated that we had saved GH¢ 800 million made in 2017 due to the procurement methods employed. Mr Speaker, again the Public Procurement Act (PPA) 663, as amended in Act 914, provides in section 34 (a) methods of procurement. Competitive tendering is permitted within which we also have restricted tendering. We also have single-source procurement. All of these are permitted under the law. But if we go into the law, there are conditions under which sole sourcing and restricted tendering are done. It is listed in section 40 of Act 663. Mr Speaker, what the NPP Government did was, MDAs would apply for sole sourcing, but it was for the Government to try and argue out that they would not go ahead. So, if we go to page 4 of the State of the Nation Address, 2018, it states, with your permission, I beg to quote: “In 2016, the Public Procurement Authority had six hundred and twenty-two (622) Sole Source Requests.” A total of 597 were granted, so only 25 were rejected. Savings thereof was zero (0). “In 2017, my first year in office, three hundred and ninety-four (394) sole-sourcing requests were made, out of which two hundred and twenty-three (223) (56.6 per cent) were approved.” A total of 171 were rejected. So, Mr Speaker, again, a saving --
Hon Member, you have one minute to wind- up.
Mr Speaker, from the three accounts -- [Interruption] -- I have given, first in the case of the Auditor- General's report on the liabilities of the MDAs, then on the diligence shown on the Pensions Funds and lastly, the public procurement methods. This is a Government that is committed to due diligence, value for money and rule of law. That was what we expected of them. They did not do that, so they should be applauding us. Now, they should be applauding us for making a saving of GH¢ 5.4 billion in audit of liabilities, for making a saving of GH¢ 800 million in procurement, and also for transferring GH¢ 3.1 billion of Tier Two Pension Funds into their custodian accounts. Mr Speaker, with this, I thank you for the opportunity.
Yes, Hon Isaac Adongo, you have eight minutes to contribute.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I rise to contribute to the debate on the Message on the State of the Nation, delivered by the President. Mr Speaker, before I go on to the substantive issue, I would like to advice members of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), to take their time and teach the President basic mathematics. Mr Speaker, how could they, as a Government, decide to submit sole sourced contract on their own, increase the values on those contracts, submit them to the Public Procurement Authority (PPA), and then turn around to get them to say that they are being fraudulent with inflated contracts? Mr Speaker, they then sum those ones up and say that they have saved the country money, which is from their own fraudulent conduct. How can that be a way of saving money? The only way of saving money is to go on a competitive tendering at a lower rate. They cannot just sum up what they have rejected and say that they have saved money. This is basic mathematics, and the President must be taught. Mr Speaker, on page 3 o f the Pres ident's Sta te o f the Nat ion Address --
Hon Member, you should hold on. Your clock would stop at one minute, 16 seconds. Yes, Hon Leader?
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, our Standing Orders are clear on the language that is supposed to be used in this House.
“It shall be out of order to use offensive, abusive, insulting, blasphemous or unbecoming words or to impute improper motives to any other Member or to make personal allusions.” Mr Speaker, the Hon Member on his feet started by saying that the President should be taught basic mathematics. Mr Speaker, this is very insulting, and I would want to entreat you to invoke your powers under Standing Order 93 (2), for
Hon Members, would the Hon Members on the Minority side want to rule on this matter? If they would want to rule, then I would stop, so that they rule, but if they would leave me to rule, then they should please keep quiet for me to listen. Yes, Hon Minority Leadership, would you want to respond to the objection?
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, it is true that we would need to be decorous in our use of words in accordance with our Standing Orders, especially, when the wording by an Hon Member is offensive and unbecoming of the Hon Member. Mr Speaker, unless it is proven beyond all doubts that asking to be taught mathematics, it does not matter whether it is the President or any Ghanaian is an offence. If they could prove that it is an offence, we would ask the Hon Member to substitute it in another way to calm tempers.
Hon Members, our rule is that it shall be out of order to use offensive, abusive, insulting, blasphemous or unbecoming words, or to impute improper motives. Hon Members, ordinarily, I would not feel offended if it was suggested that I should be taught something, but it is about the head of the country, and the people who work with him believe it is offensive. I would therefore urge the Hon Member to re-frame his statement to make his point.
Mr Speaker, thank you very much. Mr Speaker, I take a cue from the fact that you would not have felt offended if I had used that on you. What I would say is that it is important when the President is being briefed, that he is given the appropriate briefings on the numbers. Mr Speaker, on page 3, the President makes allusions to the fact that his Economic Management Team have turned the corner, and under the able leadership of the brilliant and strong economist, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, Ghana's economy has seen progress. Mr Speaker, I intend to show that His Excellency the President is celebrating incompetence and mediocrity. Mr Speaker, in the first place, when an economy is managed properly, it shows in the strength of the financial sector, and I would like to take us through a few statistics from the summary economic and financial data of the Bank of Ghana. Mr Speaker, the liquidity of the banking sector in 2016 ended the year at 22 per cent. Under the leadership of this incompetent economic management team, it declined to 16.7 per cent, even after the issue of this huhudious Energy Bond. Mr Speaker, the private sector credit that propels the private sector to be able to generate growth and jobs declined from 14.4 per cent under the incompetent National Democratic Congress (NDC), to 12.8 per cent, yet the President celebrates the lack of credit to the private sector. Mr Speaker, the total assets of our banks under the incompetent NDC, by the end of 2016, grew by 30.4 per cent, but under the leadership of this mediocrity, it has declined to 12.8 per cent. Mr Speaker, our banks are shrinking. The total advances in the system in 2016 increased by 18.3 per cent, but under this incompetence, it declined to 5.9 per cent. Mr Speaker, the capital adequacy of our banks in 2016 stood at 18 per cent. Now, our banks have become so vulnerable under this leadership. This is because now, their adequacy is only 15 per cent. Mr Speaker, again, on the non- performing loans that this Government claimed it would address, they stood at 17.3 per cent at the end of 2016. Today, under this incompetent Government, it has increased to 22.9 per cent. Mr Speaker, how could the President look us in the face and celebrate this incompetence and mediocrity? Mr Speaker, the total growth of the Ghanaian economy minus oil stood at 4.8 per cent. In 2016, it stood at five per cent. The President says his Economic Management Team rose to the challenge by reducing our economic growth from five to 4.8 per cent. Mr Speaker, I would want to ask a very basic question. I am not aware whether the Vice President, acting as the head of the Economic Management Team is a constitutional imperative or it is by convention. Otherwise, in 2010, under the then Vice President John Dramani Mahama, who is not an economist and does not have a Ph.D, the economy grew minus oil by 7.6 per cent. Under the same leadership of Mr John Dramani Mahama, as the Vice President without economics background and a Ph.D. in economics, we had a growth of 8.6 per cent without oil, and 14 per cent with oil. In 2012, under Mr John Dramani Mahama, without economics background and Ph.D in economics, the economy minus oil grew by 8.6 per cent. Mr Speaker, we are dealing with an economist now leading the Economic Management Team, and he grows the economy by 4.8 per cent. It takes a President who is struggling to find steam to celebrate this incompetence and mediocrity. Mr Speaker, what is even worse is that under this same leadership, they projected that in 2018, it will not get better; it will grow by four per cent. They still project that in 2019, this same economy will grow again by 5.9 per cent, and again they still project that by 2020, the economy would grow by six per cent. Mr Speaker, how can that be the brilliant leadership of an economist? When a non-economist dealt with 7.6 to 8.3 per cent, this economist, even over a period of three years, will still struggle with six per cent growth of the Ghanaian economy. Mr Speaker, I have a very basic advice for the President. If the Vice President, heading the Economic Management Team
is not a constitutional imperative, he should be reshuffled immediately and completely away -- [Hear! Hear!] -- from heading the Economic Management Team to save Ghana from this incompetence and mediocrity Mr Speaker, on the public debt of Ghana, if we go to the Ministry of Finance's own website, they only have debt statistics up to June, 2017. That is an indictment. We are in February, 2018 and that debt statistics report, which I have in my hands, tells us that as at June, Ghana's total debt of GH¢122 billion that they inherited, 28 per cent was due to mature in 2017. That works up to GH¢34 billion of debt that must be re-profiled.
Hon Member, you have one minute more.
Mr Speaker, by June, 2017, they had borrowed GH¢40 billion. So, if we take that GH¢34 billion of re-profiling from GH¢40 billion, we have a balance of GH¢6 billion to give us GH¢126 billion. Mr Speaker, they borrowed GH¢22 billion for the third quarter, and close to GH¢30 billion for the fourth quarter. Technically, re-profiling should have ended when they borrowed the GH¢40 billion. All the rest of the money should go into our public debt, and our total public debt is around GH¢170. How could the President give us September figures, when we have these figures all over the place? Mr Speaker, Ghana's debt accumulation rate has been suppressed to September, when we are dealing with the end of December even as of February. We all know that Ghana's debt accumulation rate as of 2016 was 21.98 per cent. They should tell the President it was never 36 per cent; it was 21.98 per cent. Today, we are now dealing with an accumulation rate of 28 per cent.
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to contribute to the Motion on the floor. Mr Speaker, it is very basic for Hon Members of Parliament to understand basic upbringing and training in homes, and to be courteous to the elderly in society. So, I would advise my Hon Colleague on the other side. Mr Speaker, in 2016, at the Democratic National Conference in Pennsylvania, the former Mayor of New York, Mr Michael Bloomberg, had this advice for members of the conference: ‘‘I live in New York and I have been the mayor of that great city. I know a conman when I see one.” Mr Speaker, I repeat that statement. It is very important. -- ‘‘I live in New York and I have been the mayor of that great city. I know a conman when I see one''. Mr Speaker, this country was given to the NDC for eight years. They promised us a one time National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) premium, 200 Community Day Senior high schools, and 10 teacher training colleges. What happened? We were promised free sandals and uniforms, and what have you. Mr Speaker, at the end of the President's Address last Thursday, the media engaged the former Vice President, and this is what he said: “The President gave a very good speech but with low content.” He was given the economy to manage, what happened? He left us in a big mess. Mr Speaker, that is why the President gave that brilliant Address with good solutions. When the former President was asked by the media, he said he did not have a comment, but he found time to go and have lunch with his colleagues. There is no problem. Mr Speaker, in a hurriedly-written press statement by the Minority, led by Hon Haruna Iddrisu, they made all sorts of allegations that were not backed by any data from any recognised institution of state. Mr Speaker, the Tier Two Pension Fund, which my Hon Colleague for New Juaben South spoke about, was kept for six years at the central bank without attracting any interest on it. Mr Speaker, the poor pensioneer who had invested in that tier two fund was denied the right interest rate that could enable him enjoy his pension; but the NDC Government decided to keep that money in the bank for just six years, attracting very low interest rate. Mr Speaker, it took the wise decision of the chairman of the Economic Management Team, Dr Bawumia, who Hon Adongo fears very much, to ensure that the funds were returned to proper custody. It is no wonder that in the Address by the President, the stock market is performing very well among others in the world. This is because funds were released, and trading on the stock market became very easy and busy and attracted high interest rate. Mr Speaker, I will turn our attention to page 20 of the President's Address, and I refer to the third paragraph. Mr Speaker, I have the 2013, 2014 and 2016 State of the Nation Addresses. Nowhere in the Address of former President Mahama did he make an honest admission of any failure on his part.
“Mr Speaker, I have an apology to make to the House. I promised last year we would endeavour to pass into law the Affirmative Action Bill. This did not happen.” Mr Speaker, for once, we have an honest President who would come to this floor to admit to certain facts and discrepancies in his previous Address. I commend the President for being honest with Ghanaians. Mr Speaker, on foreign policy, the President again stated that the star of Africa has begun to shine, and rightly so, Mr Speaker. It was not by magic that we had such a number of foreign dignitaries visiting this country and showing the good policies and programmes that this country has. What have we benefitted from this, Mr Speaker? JP Morgan Chase, the biggest bank in America, has decided to set up an office in Ghana and Kenya. This is due to the prudent economic measures and the confidence that this Government has introduced into the country. This announcement was made by no mean a person than the President of the Bank, Mr Dimon, in Davos in Switzerland.
Mr Speaker, secondly, ExxonMobil Corporation has decided to come and invest in the upstream industry of this country. They would invest not less than US$200 million in their activity. This would create a lot of jobs, expand our tax base and also improve upon our revenue base as a country. Mr Speaker, I would turn attention to page 6, which is on job creation. The President spoke about his programme to help create jobs for the youth, which did not happen under the NDC Admini- stration. He has promised 100,000 jobs within the National Builders Corps Programme. I took time to go to the National Youth Employment Authority; and so far, under the Community Protection Module, 9,000 people have been employed under that scheme. Another 3,000 would be engaged this year, and another 100 in the graduate internship programme have been engaged this year. Mr Speaker, on the ease of doing business in Ghana, Ghana has improved on its ranking. I must commend the Ministry of Trade and Industry for doing that. Mr Speaker, this Government has taken steps to ensure that all the economic indicators point in the right direction, and they are. The Minority, in their press statement, were not even honest enough to even admit to that fact --
— rose --
Hon Boamah, your clock would stop at 7 minutes, 52 seconds. So, you would continue from there. Hon available Leader?
Mr Speaker, the Hon Member just made a statement that is not factually true. He said that the ease of doing business in Ghana has improved. In fact, it has reduced. The ease of doing business has retrogressed, it has not improved. He could check the records; that is not right.
Hon available Leader, I would plead that we intervene if something is wrong -- language and others are employed. Otherwise, each one has the opportunity to respond to -- that is the reason I decline to recognise anybody apart from the Hon Leaders. So, please, indulge your opponent, and you would have the opportunity to respond. Otherwise, we have allowed a short period for the discussion, and would interrupt one another. Hon Member, you would continue.
Mr Speaker, the Minority in their press conference attached a document suggesting the price of certain items on the market. I can speak on authority that these figures were not obtained from any credible market, than from their own backyard. This is because the Ghana Statistical Service, which does the basic analysis of all ingredients that are sold on the market to determine the inflationary rate, have a different figure from what the Minority quoted. Mr Speaker, I was concluding and I would say that firstly, the President was honest to this House. He mentioned what he came to meet, and he has told the country and the world what he is doing. The world has accepted his challenge, and serious players are coming into the economy to invest. We must give the Government the support, and I believe he would do well.
Hon John Jinapor?
Mr Speaker, I am more or less in a hurry, just like the President said he was in a hurry in the 2017 State of the Nation Address. Mr Speaker, I wish to state on record that in debating this, I would to depend on the 2016 Audit Report, the 2016 Annual Report of the Energy Sector Levy, the 2016 Annual Report of the Energy Sector Levy, the 2016/ 2017 Budget Statements, the Monetary Planning Commission Report of January, 2018, the release by the Statistical Service and the State of the Nation Address by the President.
Hon Member, just be reminded that you have eight minutes.
Mr Speaker, I am all right with that. Thank you. Mr Speaker, the President told us that he has made a savings of GH¢5.4 billion. The truth of the matter is that somewhere in June, 2017, the current Hon Minister for Finance, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, wrote to current Hon Ministers to submit their liabilities for verification and payment. What every Hon Minister ought to do when requested to submit liabilities or claims, is to first of all do a validation within his or her Ministry to determine what has been paid, what has not been paid, what is outstanding and what is genuine, before they submit it to the Hon Minister for Finance. Mr Speaker, what did our Hon Ministers do? They just took all the figures, including payments that we made during our time and submitted them as liabilities. Of course, when they do that auditors would reject them. So, the NPP Government cannot create their own liability, refer to their own liability, reject their own liability, and say that they have saved this country some money. This is simple mathematics -- simple numeracy. Mr Speaker, that even brings the question now, and that is what I would want to direct my debate to. The Hon Minister told us that we left them an arrears of GH¢7 billion. He now claims that he has served GH¢5.4 billion; that tells us that the arrears in principle, and in fact, is GH¢1.6 billion. It therefore tells us -- Mr Speaker, let me educate people; arrears add up to deficits. Deficits compound to give national debts. So, if our arrears reduce, it means that our deficits would reduce. If our deficits reduce, it means that our national debt would reduce. I, therefore, state that the GH¢122 billion debt that the Hon Minister for Finance presented as national debt that we left for them cannot be accurate and must be rejected. The Hon Minister must come back and present the real figures. This is simple financial economics. Mr Speaker, another important thing is that at of September, 2017, from the Hon Minister's own Budget Statement, our
debt had gone up from GH¢122 billion to GH¢139 billion in nine months. This is not borrowing -- I am talking of net debt. After the so-called refinancing and all the other issues, our debt still went up to GH¢139 billion. This means that in nine months, we have increased our debt stock by GH¢17 billion. If we divide that by the nine months, it means that every month, Hon Ken Ofori-Atta compounds our debt stock by GH¢1.8 billion. If we multiply 1.8 billion by twelve months, it means that in a year, the Hon Minister for Finance increases our debt by GH¢22.7 billion. Mr Speaker, in the 2017 Budget Statement, the Hon Minister for Finance asked for GH¢54 billion to be spent, which we gave to him. Indeed, the promise to build One District, One Factory; One Village, One Dam; one million per constituency; Youth Enterprise Programmes; 290 million for Zongo Development Fund -- all of these -- one year down the lane, what do they have to show us? How many factories have they built? How many dams have they built? How much have they sent to the constituencies? What have they done at the Zongos? It is absolutely zero. When they do this, their deficit would reduce. So, they should not tell us they have a lower deficit. Mr Speaker, in any case, the Vice President told us that because of the rainy season, they could not build dams. The dry season has come to pass, and we are now entering the rainy season again; and not even one dam has been built. Mr Speaker, when the President came here in 2017 to deliver the State of the Nation Address, he told us that his number one objective was to create jobs. Recently, our Hon Minister for Agriculture told us that he has created 745,000 jobs because, in his opinion, anytime he supplies one fertiliser, he creates two jobs. [Laughter.] It is only the NPP that could give us the analogy that anytime they supply one fertiliser, they create two jobs. That is the NPP for us. When the President came here, he quietly and conveniently walked away from those jobs. One can decorate a monkey and even apply powder to its face, but with the greatest of respect, it would still be a monkey and nothing would change it. Mr Speaker, the President spent a lot of time praising his Hon Ministers. From what we are witnessing from the so called savings, inertia, retroactive and retro- spective things they are doing, it tells me that instead of the President praising his Ministers, he should quickly take steps to reshuffle them and put better people there. This is because his Hon Ministers are failing him. They are failing him big time. Mr Speaker, we heard the President say that they resolved the dumsor challenge. Documents speak for themselves. I have here reported news of the Vice President himself -- and I refer to the Daily Graphic of the 2nd of March, 2016, and not just any newspaper. I believe this would settle the matter of who did or did not resolve dumsor. With your permission I quote: “Mahama Deserves no Credit for Fixing Dumsor -- Bawumia Running mate of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Dr Mahamadu Bawumia has said that President John Dramani Mahama and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) administration deserve no credit for ‘solving' the energy crisis… The former deputy Governor of the Bank of Ghana, speaking on Joy FM, said he sees no reason why President Mahama would want the whole world to praise him for solving a problem he created.” Mr Speaker, the Vice President tells us that President Mahama solved a problem and yet, they come to tell us that they resolved the dumsor problem. We would not allow the NPP to take our achievements, rebrand them and present them as theirs.
Hon Members, let it be on record that Mr Speaker has never said anywhere that he is suffering. Hon Members, having regard to the state of Business, I direct that the House Sits outside the regular Sitting hours. Yes, Hon Member for Ayensuano, Samuel Ayeh-Paye?
I thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity. May I take this opportunity to thank H. E. the President for delivering the State of the Nation Address last Thursday, 8th February, 2018. Mr Speaker, in contributing to the Motion, I would like to restrict myself to the transport section of his Address. The last paragraph of page 8 of the President's State of the Nation Address reads, and with your permission, I quote: “Mr Speaker, we have to build the roads to open up and link up the various parts of the country. Journey times between parts of the country have to be reduced.” Indeed, Mr Speaker, I agree with the President. There is the need for us to reduce the time that we spend in traffic. Doing so, it would help this country to even reduce the consumption of fuel, which cost has been a bit high recently. Mr Speaker, the Ministry of Roads and Highways, in trying to solve the issue of helping to reduce the time spent in traffic, has taken up a number of measures
including the construction of round- abouts and the expansion of some of the road networks in this country to reduce traffic time and, for that matter, time spent in traffic. A typical example of this construction is the Tema Motorway Roundabout, which has been expanded. Mr Speaker, after the expansion, the Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo Government would build an overpass on the Tema Motorway Roundabout to further ease the traffic congestion on this section of the road. Mr Speaker, the Tema Motorway would be reconstructed with a Private Public Partnership (PPP) arrangement. Feasibility studies have been done and very soon, bids would be opened. Construction would begin for us to have three lanes at both sides of the Tema Motorway. As we speak, construction work is ongoing at the Spintex Intersection of the Tema Motorway to ease traffic on the Spintex road, so that those who live at East Legon and that part of Accra would have easy movement to the business centre of Accra and back. Mr Speaker, the NPP Government took over from the NDC with a debt for contracts that have been awarded and unpaid for in the road sector alone totalling GH¢ 17 billion. Most of these contracts were awarded at the last quarter of 2016. The Hon Minister for Roads and Highways has formed a committee led by his Deputy, Hon Kwabena-Owusu Aduomi. The Owusu-Aduomi Committee has been able to do some form of re- scoping, and created space for awarding of new contracts. Mr Speaker, roads that were even constructed in 2016 have started seeing some form of deterioration and potholes have developed. Measures are being put in place by the Ministry of Roads and Highways to ensure that new roads, which would be constructed, would be durable and last for not less than 10 or 20 years, as being advised by engineers in this country. Mr Speaker, in the first quarter of 2018, about 60 lots of road construction would be awarded. Bidding and evaluation have been done at various regional capitals in this country. All the 10 regions in this country would benefit one way or the other, from the reconstruction and resurfacing of roads in this country. It would be done in such a way that all the regions would benefit, irrespective of their political backgrounds. Mr Speaker, to ease traffic in this country, we must also look at the type of vehicles we use for road transport. It is because of that, that the Ministry of Transport is importing 50 more buses for Metro Mass Transit Ltd, so that people would start parking their cars and use buses to and from their various houses to their workplaces, to reduce traffic in this country. Mr Speaker, what the Ministry of Transport can assure this House, and for that matter the people of this country, is that we would not take moneys from the oil fund to rebrand these buses. Rather, we would create space on these new buses, and sell it to the advertising companies to make more income for Metro Mass Transit Ltd. Mr Speaker, the Tema Harbour expansion project is going on steadily. More than 100 hectares of land have been claimed by Meridian Port Services (MPS), but there is an issue that needs to be tackled. I am surprised that the Hon Member on the other side of the House said that we have to teach the President basic mathematics. I think if there is somebody who needs to be taught basic mathematics, it should be the Hon Members of the previous Government. Why am I saying this? The previous Kufuor Administration signed an agreement between the Millennium Port Holding Limited (MPHL) and Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA). These two entities came together to form MPS, and the agreement was that the Government of Ghana (GoG), and for that matter, GPHA is to to provide land and sea. I take that again -- the GoG and for that matter, the GPHA -- the agreement was that we could provide land and sea, but the MPHL will bring money and construct a port; what we call the Tema Harbour expansion project. Mr Speaker, the MPS and the GPHA will take 30 per cent of the share of MPS, while the MPHL will take 70 per cent. When the NDC Government came to power, in an attempt to implement this project, they came with a very miserable reason and decided that they should go for a loan from the International Finance Corporation (IFC). The one who was supposed to bring money for the construction of the port ended up joining GPHA to go for a loan. In the process, those who claim to know simple arithmetic decided that the 50 per cent out of the 30 per cent of GPHA share should be added to MPHL, for them to account for 85 per cent, with the GPHA having 15 per cent of MPS. Mr Speaker, as if that is not enough, those who claim that they know simple arithmetic came to this House and sought permission that we should amend the Ghana Road Fund Act. You were an Hon Member of the Committee on Roads in the previous Parliament.
Hon Member, please leave me out of the debate. Yes, Hon Agbodza?
Mr Speaker, an issue about teaching people mathematics came up in the House, and then you ruled on it. On two different occasions, I heard my Hon Chairman do the same thing that led you to rule upon it. I think you should direct the Hon Member to refer to the ruling, so that we do not traverse the route that you have already re-directed us.
Hon Member, can you assist me?
Mr Speaker, he said that they are rather supposed to teach us mathematics. I thought you were not happy with the fact that people tried to teach the President mathematics. If it is not good to teach the President mathematics, I wonder how come my Hon Colleague tried to teach me mathematics.
Hon Members, my ruling was that I would not feel offended, but once somebody felt offended -- you are drawing my attention that you feel offended. Very well. Hon Member for Ayensuano, your Hon Colleagues on the other side say they feel offende,d for you to say that they should be taught mathematics. Kindly refrain from using that clause.
Mr Speaker, thank you. I withdraw and apologise, but still insist that 15 plus 15 is 30 and not 15. Mr Speaker, as if that was not enough, they came to this House, and we amended or approved the Ghana Road Fund Act for them. There is a clause in that Act that states that the Ghana Road Fund can borrow on their balance sheets. When they had that opportunity, the then Hon Minister went to the United Bank for Africa (UBA) and borrowed money at GH¢1.2 billion. Meanwhile, the annual proceeds for the Ghana Road Fund (GRF) was GH¢1.2 billlion. What they are trying to tell us is that the GRF, which is mainly meant for repair and maintenance of roads, if we take a loan of GH¢1.2billion and then the annual proceeds of the GRF is GH¢1.2billion, it means that for a whole year, there should not be any road maintenance and repairs. Mr Speaker, what the Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo Government has done is that we have contracted a local bank to take over the loan, with a loan period of -- now, we have a long period to pay back the loan, and for that matter, we have been able to get space. More than 60 contracts would be awarded, come March, 2018 to maintain and reconstruct roads that were constructed less than seven years ago, but have started seeing deterioration. This Government will ensure that we have improved the road network. To reduce accidents in this country, the Ministry of Transport and the National Road Safety Commission (NRSC) are putting up --
Hon Member, you have about 30 seconds left.
The NRSC is putting up a measure where we would have a road transport authority. That would regulate all road transport institutions or companies in this country, and put them in a proper regulatory measure to reduce accidents in this country.
Hon Members, before I call the next Hon Member, there is a Communication from the Office of the President.
Hon Kwame Agbodza, you have 12 minutes.
Mr Speaker, thank you very much for the opportunity to thank the President for delivering the State of the Nation Address. Mr Speaker, I have these few comments to make before I start. Indeed, all the works that we see around the motorway were started by President Mahama. Indeed, the Tema Motorway Round- about expansion is part of the project by MPS, which was started by the NDC Government. The huge port expansion, making our port probably the largest within the sub region, combined with the old one, was started by the NDC. All that got missing in the President's State of the Nation Address because he cannot take credit for it. Mr Speaker, I will start with the road sector. The President was here to tell us the state of the nation. I will concentrate on the state of the road network in the country. The Medium-Term Expenditure Framework document, which was given to us in relation to the year 2018 Budget, had this data in it. Mr Speaker, it says that in 2016, for instance, the length of road in this country was 72,381 km, and by the end of 2017, the length of the road is 72,381 km. Mr Speaker, it simply means that for one whole year, under President Akufo-Addo, he did not build even one millimetre of road. Mr Speaker, if we go to maintenance, in 2016, 39 per cent of the road network was in good condition, 32 per cent was in fair condition and 29 per cent was in poor condition. Mr Speaker, by the close of 2017, the roads in good condition were 39 per cent, those in fair condition were 32 per cent and those in poor condition were 23 per cent. Indeed, it also shows that the President did not do anything in terms of the condition of the roads. Mr Speaker, but to buttress that point, for maintenance, in 2016, 57 per cent of the road network in this country was maintained, but in 2017, 40 per cent of the road network in this country was maintained. Mr Speaker, when we come to the road sector, my Hon Colleagues spoke about the road sector debt. For instance, the GH¢17 billion that my Hon Colleague talked about is the total value of projects awarded. Mr Speaker, certificates did not pile up to the tune of GH¢17 billion in any government agency, it is just the amount of road contracts awarded. I wish to tell my Hon Colleagues that an award of a project is different from having a certificate to pay. Mr Speaker, I would want to give an advice, but I am worried that the Hon Minister of State responsible for Procurement has left the room. Mr Speaker, the President is being led to actually embarrass himself on this occasion. On one occasion, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) made us believe that sole sourcing was like a crime in this country. It was surprising for the President to turn up in the House to suggest that just because the amount of sole sourcing contracts approved under him was less than that of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), it means that he has made savings. Mr Speaker, it is just like someone who say that he refused to pay his child's school fees and so the money in his pocket is savings made. Mr Speaker, someone should tell the President that one does not save any money simply because the Public Procurement Authority (PPA) rejected the requests. Actually, a request for sole sourcing could be rejected by PPA partly because the company's registration document that was taken to PPA had expired and so it would have nothing to do with the cost of the project. Mr Speaker, I do not know why the President has this unique way of understanding procurement to the extent that he keeps trumpeting the fact that he has made savings. Where is the savings made by the President? It is not true. Indeed, I have colleagues who are from the built environments and a lot of them are in the NPP -- they should advise the President that, that comment is embarrassing him. The professionals do not believe that it is true and so he should stop using it. Mr Speaker, let us turn to the other sectors. The President came here and tried to do politics with the Eastern Corridor road. Indeed, I was so disheartened when Mr Speaker endorsed the illegality of COCOBOD. On countless occasions, I have implored the Chief Executive Officer of COCOBOD to tell us the outcome of the review of the 200 contracts that they have awarded under the Road Fund. Mr Speaker, indeed, the Ministry of Roads and Highways has reviewed over 2,000 contracts in six months, but till today, COCOBOD did not come to tell us what is in that report, yet, the President was happy that cocoa roads up to 100 kilometres on the Eastern Corridor was suspended. Mr Speaker, I can tell you for a fact that when we return to that road, it would cost more, and that would mean that someone wilfully caused financial loss to the State. Mr Speaker, let us know what the NPP did the whole of 2017 about the Eastern Corridor Road. Mr Speaker, nothing, yet, Mr Speaker is happy about it. Mr Speaker, let me tell you why the Government did very abysmally. For instance, this House approved a loan facility to build Volivo Bridge, and the reason the project has not been done is that the Government has failed to build a link road to the bridge. The President came here and cannot even tell us exactly what he would do. He could not say much, simply because in 2017, he gave the Ministry almost GH¢800 million and they did nothing. This year, the President has given them GH¢ 500 million yet, he told us that they would build more roads with less money. Mr Speaker, we know that they cannot do anything about that.
Hon Member, hold on. Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, it is not my intention to interrupt my Hon Colleague who appears to be in full flight. Mr Speaker, but he made some categorical statements that he was disappointed with the conduct of Mr Speaker when he endorsed illegalities conducted by the
Hon Member, I am glad that the Hon Leader drew my attention to that because it escaped me. If you truly said that -- did you say that?
Mr Speaker, I was making reference to what the President -- [Interruptions.] Mr Speaker, I come under Standing Order 86 (5) --
Hon Member, I asked you a question if you said that.
Mr Speaker, I would want to respond to you by falling on Standing Order 86 (5) which says --
Hon Member, before I hear you, I want you to answer if you said that.
Mr Speaker, I was making reference to the President. [Uproar.] If I made reference to Mr Speaker then it was in error because I was referring to the President. Mr Speaker, because you did not make any comment about the Chief Executive Officer of the COCOBOD. Mr Speaker, but if you give me leave --
So, if you said that then it was inadvertent. Then you have to withdraw that inadvertent statement and apologise then you could proceed.
Mr Speaker, if I inadvertently made reference to Mr Speaker instead of Mr President, it was in error and I withdraw that. All those references were made in reference to the President's State of the Nation Address.
You would apologise to Mr Speaker because that is very critical.
Mr Speaker, I accept your ruling and I apologise accordingly.
Mr Speaker, how long do I have to go now?
Hon Member, you may now proceed.
Mr Speaker, to go on with the Ministry of Aviation, indeed, the Hon Minister for Aviation came to this House some time ago, and told us because of the reduction or removal of Value Added Tax (VAT) on domestic airline tickets, the numbers have improved. Mr Speaker, I hold in my hand a booking I have done to leave Accra to Kumasi tomorrow and to return the following day. Mr Speaker, that booking cost me GH¢ 858.00. Mr Speaker, the essence of the President's State of the Nation Address is to tell us the impact of the interventions that he is making. If for instance, the VAT on airline tickets has been reduced, and in 2018, I have to fly a return ticket from Accra to Kumasi at almost GH¢900, then this is the true state of domestic flights under the President and his Hon Minister. Mr Speaker, indeed, in the other aviation sectors, the President did not mention anything because the truth is that they did absolutely nothing. Every single project that is ongoing now in the aviation sector in terms of infrastructure are project they inherited, and he did not even acknowledge that. Recently, I am told the Hon Minister for Aviation talked about Terminal three project which they would complete. Mr Speaker, she should not try. Everyone knows that this House passed that Agreement that gave the loan for that project. We are still waiting for the President's State of the Nation Address which would refer to the Aviation sector. So far, there is nothing like that. Mr Speaker, let me go straight to the Ministry of Railways. The Ministry came here and was given over GH¢500 million, and we were told that by now, we should see railways spring across the country. Indeed, the Railway Ministry has gone to complete few of the projects which were started by the National Democratic Congress (NDC). They still talk about initiating projects that would be completed. There is no agreement before us to construct any railway, and indeed, there is nothing in the Budget to construct any new railway. The true state of roads and transport in this country is that the road network has gone worse under the current President; not a single road has been built. Mr Speaker, the condition of the roads has deteriorated to the extent that rampant accidents are happening. Indeed, the accidents are not only because of driver error, the condition of the roads could count for the safety on the road. Mr Speaker, the question is this; if the President could not do anything about the road sector with more funding in 2017 than in 2018, what time would this country see any improvement in transportation? Mr Speaker, as for the Ministry of Transport, we do not even want to talk about it. You are aware that only 11 per cent of their releases was given to them. They could not even buy one taxi to augment the fleet of the Metro Mass Transit (MMT) that we left, including the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) and everything. So, I would spare Hon Titus-Glover today, but to remind him that whatever they do with regard to existing contracts, there are precedents. If they go on a journey to review every contract that government enters into, especially previous governments, they should know that governments do not end in a day. Every contract that would be entered into by them, they should understand that one day, it would be reviewed.
Hon Members, you have about 30 seconds.
Mr Speaker, I would like to make this plea to you. Let this country be aware that sole sourcing is not a crime. Indeed, the President came here and never talked about cocoa roads contracts being inflated again. He did not say any road was missing. Now, he says COCOBOD does not have the money to pay. Mr Speaker, COCOBOD increased their overhead by over GH¢500 million in this year alone. They do not have money to build roads, but they have money to put over GH¢170 million at the headquarters, so that they could do official duties rather than building roads. Mr Speaker, that is a bad way of managing --
The last contributor today is the Hon Member for Assin South, Rev. Ntim Fordjour. You have eight minutes. Rev. John Ntim Fordjour (NPP -- Assin South): Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I rise to offer sincere thanks to the President for delivering the State of the Nation Address and in support of the Motion listed as item numbered 4 on the Order Paper. Mr Speaker, in reference to pages 4 and 17 respectively of the State of the Nation Address the savings realised through optimised sole sourcing procurement amounted to GH¢800 million. On page 17, the savings that were made through prudent financial management, as per the Auditor-General's Report amounted to GH¢5.4 billion. These two savings sum up to GH¢6.2 billion. GH¢6.2 billion represent an unprecedented savings in the history of our governance. Mr Speaker, the Hon Member for Adaklu attempted to advance argument on the challenges that our road and transportation system currently face. May I focus on the value that the potential GH¢6.2 billion, that for the prudent and visionary leadership of President Akufo- Addo would have landed in wrong hands, could derive in alleviating the road and transportation challenges we have in the country. Mr Speaker, industry standards indicate that the equivalence of GH¢6.2 billion could construct 2,480 kilometre asphalt road. GH¢6.2 billion could construct a bituminous surfacing of 4,130 kilometres of road. Mr Speaker, in terms of the rehabilitation of roads, the equivalence of GH¢6.2 billion could rehabilitate 20,660 kilometres of road. It is sad, as I observe across the nation, the many thousands of kilometres of road that are not motorable; the many thousands kilometres of roads that are non-engineered; and when pregnant women are in labour, how they are carried on bicycles, on tricycles and sometimes how they are carried on arms to the nearest health facility. Mr Speaker, an equivalence of GH¢6.2 billion could construct 25,000 units of health centres in our rural areas. It could construct 24,800 of six-unit classroom blocks. Mr Speaker, it is sad that as we recount the challenges that face our development across the country, the GH¢6.2 billion alternative use could have been wrongly misapplied. The judicious application of GH¢6.2 billion is highly commendable, and I am pleased, that through the prudent management of the President we have been able to realise these gains. Mr Speaker, on the issue of nomadic herdsmen, it has been a challenge, it has been the bane of the country, and even beyond the borders of the country, it has become a regional challenge to the West African sub-region. Over the years, one would have expected that within the eight years of the NDC they would have committed to the ranching system that had began and was established by the former President J. A. Kufuor. Mr Speaker, our understanding from scriptures points to the fact that, God asserted his position on the separation of the dwelling place of humans from the dwelling of cattle and the rearing of animals. And even a portion for various kinds of farming are stated clearly in the book of Numbers 35:3, and I quote: Mr Speaker, it is important that the demarcated areas where it is earmarked for human dwelling are clearly separated from the areas that are planned and demarcated for cattle ranching. For years, Ghana, as a nation, has not been able to bring a solution to this challenge. I am pleased here again to note, that President Akufo-Addo has actually committed to the ranching system that was initiated by the former President Kufuor, and there are rehabilitation processes ongoing on all the ranches which were built by former President J. A. Kufuor. Mr Speaker, it is important that the President intimated that going further, he would explore opportunities to ensure a complete resolution of this matter and would explore ECOWAS solutions to this matter. Mr Speaker, on the issue of infrastruc- ture for poverty eradication programmes, on the first working day of President Akufo- Addo, he signed into law the Act that would ensure the disbursement of the US$1 million dollar per year per constituency that would offer opportunity. Mr Speaker, I beg to quote page 6, the last paragraph of the State of the Nation Address. “Local People will make the decision on what their greatest needs are, and direct the funds to those areas”. [REV. FORDJOUR] [MR ASHIAMAH] There is hope for the rural folks. There is opportunity for towns and village opinion leaders to decide what their priority development needs are. Indeed, across the country, the people of Zuarungu would have the opportunity to decide that potable drinking water is their challenge, and that is what they require funds to be applied for. Indeed, the provision of sanitation facilities is our challenge, and that is what we require application of funds to address. The people of Assin Bosomadwe, Assin Nyamebebu and Galodze in the Volta Region would now have the opportunity to decide on their own how to apply the resources of the nation to their development needs, and this is an opportunity that I am so pleased that it has found eminent expression in the second State of the Nation Address presented by the President. Mr Speaker, with these few words, I support the State of the Nation Address and commend the President on his vision.
The last person on the Minority side is Hon Daniel Ashiamah.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I rise to support the Motion ably moved by the Hon Member for Adentan, that this House thanks His Excellency the President for the Message on the State of the Nation. Mr Speaker, before I continue, yesterday when the debate started, there were issues about the inflationary figures that the NDC Government left the NPP Government. Mr Speaker, I beg your leave to read from page 14, paragraph 74 of the 2017 Budget Statement; “Headline inflation increased from 17.7 per cent at end-December 2015 and peaked of 19.2 per cent at end- March 2016. It then trended downwards to 15.4 per cent at end- December 2016”. I believe this is the actual inflationary figure that the NDC Government left for the NPP Government, and this is the Budget Statement read by Hon Ken Ofori- Atta. Another issue popped up this morning, where Hon Chairman of the Finance Committee, Dr Assibey-Yeboah said that the Ministry of Communications left an amount of GH¢ 24 million to be paid. I would like to say emphatically that this money did not happen during the Mahama/Attah-Mills Presidency, and when we go back to find out, as a Member of the Communication Committee I did my oversight responsibility over this issue, and it was realised that this issue was between Ghana Telecom, Vodafone and Ministry of Finance during the take-over of Ghana Telecom by Vodafone, and so these three offices need to sort out this problem, but not the Ministry of Communications. Mr Speaker, I was very happy, and I thank His Excellency for the State of the Nation Address, but in all, the shortcomings of the State of the Nation Address were so worrying to me personally. However, I thank him, because he mentioned that about 3000 youth would be trained to have computer skills at the digital centre, and that is very good, but my worry is that His Excellency the President forgot to mention that former President John Dramani Mahama was the one who built this digital centre, he had that foresight, that the youth of this country need to be trained and have employable skills, and that is where I believe His Excellency missed the point. Conspicuously silent was the paperless port they talked about last year with a lot of furore in this country, that it has brought about a lot of benefits, but in His Excellency's speech, he forgot to mention what is going on right now at Tema Port. In the social media, we have read that the paperless port is rather delaying the importers. How are we solving this problem for the country to move forward for us to make gains? Another question is that are we only going to focus on Tema Port , or we have to think about Takoradi Habour? We move to the north to deploy these systems also there for this nation to make more revenue. I did not hear anything from His Excellency about inroads being made right now to increase the digitisation of this country. Mr Speaker, we move forward to the Ghana Post GPS App, which was totally absent in His Excellency's speech. Last year, they told us that this GPS application is working. Where have we reached at this particular point? His Excellency did not mention anything about that. The whooping amount of about US$2 million dollars that has been paid, I think the President should have told us where the nation has reached on this particular issue. Mr Speaker, moving forward, we would ask the question, that where is the value for money for this Ghana Post GPS App? Are Ghanaians enjoying? Are we reaping some benefits from it? Nothing was heard about that, and that was my headache. Mr Speaker, digitisation of this country is very essential for everybody, because if we look at the looming number of youth when you go to the State of the Nation Address, the last paragraph, I beg to read: “...the subject of job creation has to be at the top of my agenda. The number of young people who cannot find work is staggering and a threat to our national security.” This is what His Excellency has said, that this is a threat to our national security. What really has His Excellency addressed about employing the youth of this country so that we would not have this threat any more? I did not hear anything of His Excellency talking about that. They talked about only 3000. Do we have only 3000 youth who are unemployed in this country? And what are the other sources and areas? Right now, we are talking about Valentine or Chocolate Day. What are we doing as a nation to address this issue of unemployment by processing and making sure that we have market in this country? His Excellency promised us last year that every school child would take cocoa drink. Where have we reached on those programmes? Are they taking it or they are not taking it? These are some of the issues we have to address. Always, when we want to produce, we say we are looking for export. Who is to purchase those things?
I think the economy of this country must grow for Ghanaians to be able to use part of their salary to enjoy what we have. In any nation, before you can industrialise, you must use the raw materials that you have in that country to start with your industrialisation. With this “One District One Factory” I did not see where His Excellency is seriously featuring the cocoa and shea butter that we have in this country, to ensure that the youth of this country are employed, if he is really sure of the staggering numbers of youth who are unemployed in this country. Mr Speaker, moving forward, I would like to go to article 35 (6) (c) of the 1992 Constitution, and I beg to read; “...provide adequate facilities for, and encourage, free mobility of people, goods and services throughout Ghana;” Is the Government of the day providing those services? We talk about roads. How many roads have had bitumen within the past one year in this country? The roads are deteriorating, and the people cannot move their food-stuffs from the rural areas to the marketing centres. All these have been compounded to the charges on these products, and we can see that right now prices of foodstuff are skyrocketing. This is as a result of the fact that the roads are not good. His Excellency and his NPP Government are not doing anything about the road as yet. The Hon Member just stood up and talked about the Tema Motorway Roundabout. Is that the Eastern Corridor Road that we are talking about? I had a running stomach the other time when H. E. the President came to talk about Eastern Corridor Road. I expected him to tell us who secured funds for the Eastern Corridor Road. He only said that all roads need to be rehabilitated or constructed in this country. That made my stomach run, so I had to run from the Chamber. This is because, H. E. the President, just came up and talked about Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) which did not have the money, but they had awarded road contract. Mr Speaker, I would like to tell the nation that -- the Akans usually, say that “Kafuo didi” to wit, ‘‘the debtor must also eat'' to have the energy and strength to get more money to pay his debt. So, if they always talk about debt, that would not help us enough.
“...make democracy a reality by decentralising the administrative and financial machinery of government to the regions and districts and by affording all possible opportunities to the people to participate in decision- making at every level in national life and in government;” Mr Speaker, H. E. the President and the Government of the NPP talked about buffer stock. Officials have been appointed to monitor the supply of foodstuffs even to the Senior High Schools. Why are we centralising again when the former system was decentralised and which gave the headmaster and the principals the opportunity to govern? They have appointed somebody with the bureaucratic structures. They have to be saluting everybody for the students to have their food. This is because somebody has been appointed in Accra, who has to monitor schools in my constituency. Why can the headmasters and headmistresses in the schools do the job? So, the principle in the Constitution is not being followed. To conclude, Mr Speaker, I would also deal with article 36 (2) (e), and I beg to read: “...the recognition that the most secure democracy is the one that assures the basic necessities of life for its people as a fundamental duty.” Mr Speaker, what do we see now? Today, in the area where I live in Nungua, water is being rationed. Water cannot flow. I miss the former President John Dramani Mahama. So, I would have loved H. E. the President to tell us what went on with the desalination project in Nungua, that they have to ration water to us like slaves --
Hon Member, you have one minute more.
I miss former President John Dramani Mahama. This is because during his time, my taps flowed 24 hours. Today, water is being rationed for us. The yellow gallons -- Kufuor gallons are sprouting like mushroom in this country again and H. E. the President did not talk about this. The commercial drivers are complaining about the fuel prices. H. E. the President did not say anything to soften the hearts of these drivers. We say that everything is all right with everybody. H. E, the President is not meeting the fundamental rights of the people of this country.
Hon Member, your time is up.
Mr Speaker, with these few words, I thank you for the opportunity.
Yes, Hon Deputy Majority Leader, unless there is any announcement you would wish to make, I would want to bring the proceedings to a close.
Rightly so, Mr Speaker. As we have exhausted all items on the Order Paper for today, I would want to draw the attention of Hon Members to the fact that Mr Speaker, together with Leadership, would have a prayer session. We are therefore inviting and entreating Hon Members to be part of it to pray for our collective wellbeing in this House and for God to help us carry out our duties. Mr Speaker is hosting everybody on the 12th floor of the Job 600 office complex today at 3.00 p.m. It is already 3.00 p.m. Mr Speaker, after we adjourn, I would want to entreat Hon Members to accompany the Mr Speaker and Leadership to the 12th floor. Mr Speaker, that would be all.
Yes, available Hon Minority Leader?
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Ordinarily, we are in your hands to adjourn the House. I would also like to add my voice to the Hon Deputy Majority Leader's announce- ment that Hon Members are invited to the Mr Speaker's prayer forum this evening. Mr Speaker, today is National Chocolate Day and the Rt. Hon Speaker has dedicated today as prayer day for the entire House and Leadership. Therefore, we are inviting everybody, including the Hon Members to be there. Mr Speaker, with these, you could adjourn the House now.
Very well. Hon Members, just be reminded that the time is 3.00 p.m. and it is almost 3.00 p.m. So, I would request all Hon Members to participate in -- Today is Ash Wednesday. We should just remind ourselves that we are ash; we would go back to the earth. We are dust and we would return to dust. Probably, that would make us more compassionate to one another.
Hon Kpodo, the Finance Committee can wait, so that after the prayer session, you could continue with the Committee meeting. I am not sure Leadership will accept any excuses. So, Hon Members of the Finance Committee should please come to the service. Hon Members, at this juncture, the House is adjourned till Thursday, February 15th, 2018 at 10.00 o'clock in the forenoon.