VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS AND THE OFFICIAL REPORT
Hon Members, item numbered 2 on the Order Paper -- correction of Votes and Proceedings of Wednesday, 7th March, 2018? Page 1, 2, 3, 9,10 --
Mr Speaker, I tried to catch your eye when you got to page 9 on Questions. Mr Speaker, you would note that on the Order Paper yesterday, there were advertised Questions which were directed at the Hon Minister for Trade and Industry, but they were not answered justifiably because you had a communication from the Hon Minister which stated why he was unable to appear before the House. Mr Speaker, it was one of the reasons I was on my feet and I would want to insist that this is a House of records and the records must capture that those Questions were not answered. Mr Speaker, and as a communication from an Hon Minister to the Speaker and then to the House: the House is Parliament and so, you must convey the content. The Hon Member in whose name the Question stood. I know justifiably that you and the Table Office would share the Hon Minister's excuse to Hon Members, but for the records of Parliament and on page 9, where do those Questions stand? Mr Speaker, that is why I was on my feet -- you must report for the purpose of the Hansard. This is because the Questions were advertised yesterday, but they were not answered because the Hon Minister wrote -- and to be fair -- the Table Office shared the correspondence which was sent to you with me. Mr Speaker, but the House is Parliament and Parliament must be in the know that the supposed advertised Questions were stood down, so that it would be for the records. Mr Speaker, but this record is missing today, and it cannot be missing because the Hon Minister for Trade and Industry was scheduled to appear before this House. Mr Speaker, we would insist to the Table Office, that this House is governed by rules and so, we would demand religious respect for the rules of this House. Mr Speaker, thank you.
Thank you very much. It is well noted. Page 11, 12, 13 … 20. Hon Members, the Votes and Proceedings of Wednesday, 7th March, 2018, as corrected is hereby adopted as the true record of proceedings. Hon Members, we would move to item numbered 3 -- Urgent Question standing in the name of the Hon Member for Zabzugu to the Hon Minister for Health.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Member in whose name this Question stands had an accident a few weeks ago and he is still recovering. He has therefore asked that I should ask the Question on his behalf, with your permission.
Hon Member, please, go ahead.
MINISTRY OF HEALTH
Mr Speaker, thank you. Mr Speaker, the Ministry of Health is working towards a common card that could be used by the NHIS clients as well as other State agencies in collaboration with the National Identification Authority. Mr Speaker, in view of this, we are avoiding the overstocking of colour ribbons, specifically for the NHIS. We now procure the ribbons based on needs in order to avoid overstocking and wastage of the ribbons. Therefore, we have ordered the supply of 1,000 colour ribbons and they would be supplied by Friday, 9th March, 2018, and they would be distributed to all district offices including Zabzugu, so that they would be able to commence with the registration of new clients by Tuesday, 13th February, 2018. Mr Speaker, regarding renewals, all our district offices already have monochrome ribbons to renew membership cards and Zabzugu is no exception. Mr Speaker, thank you.
Thank you very much. Hon Member, any follow-up?
Mr Speaker, could the Hon Minister clarify? He indicated 18th February, 2018. I would want to know whether he is mixing up the date. Exactly when would this be available for persons in Zabzugu as he has indicated? Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister mentioned 18th February, 2018, and I am asking for clarification whether it is really 18th February since 18th February, certainly, has past. Which month was he referring to?
Mr Speaker, I am very sorry. I must apologise. It is Tuesday, 13th March, 2018.
Mr Speaker, finally, could the Hon Minister assure the House that indeed, next Tuesday, persons within the Zabzugu Constituency who are looking forward to getting their cards would indeed, get their cards as it has been said? Could he give us his assurance?
Yes, Mr Speaker, I can.
Thank you very much. Item listed 4 -- Questions. Hon Member for Mion?
ORAL ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS
MINISTRY OF HEALTH
Mr Speaker, it is Government's policy to provide every district with a district hospital as a first referral point at the district level. The Ministry is aware that the Sang Health Centre is currently the facility serving as a district hospital. This district has been ranked 9th in the Northern Region to be provided with a new district hospital and has been captured in the Ministry of Health's Capital Investment Plan. The construction would commence as soon as funds are secured.
Mr Speaker, is the Hon Minister in the process of securing funds for such a project?
Yes, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance, we are sourcing for funds to work towards achieving what government has put down as policy to provide a district hospital for each district space.
Mr Speaker, I would want to find out from the Hon Minister, even as a health centre, the Sang Health Centre should have at least five medical assistants. As we speak, not even a single medical assistant is at post. What effort could he put in place to get at least three medical assistants to run the facility?
Mr Speaker, the Ministry is in the process of recruiting and posting some newly-inducted medical officers as well as medical assistants. Mr Speaker, we are looking at providing at least one for each of the health centres, and I would want to believe that the Human Resources Division of the Ministry would work towards ensuring that the Sang Health Centre also benefits from this package.
Mr Speaker, I would want the Hon Minister to give a deadline; a specific date, when health assistants would be posted to the facility. This is because, this is the only referral centre for the entire district.
Mr Speaker, I am very much afraid this deadline would be very difficult for me to give at the moment.
Question *317. Hon Member for Kintampo South?
Mr Speaker, the Hon Member in whose name the Question stands, Hon Felicia Adjei is bereaved, and she has asked me to seek your permission to ask the Question on her behalf.
Thank you. Proliferation and abusive use of Analgesics -- Kintampo South Constituency Q. 317. Mr Kwasi Etu-Bonde (on behalf of Ms Felicia Adjei) asked the Minister for Health what the Ministry is doing about the proliferation and abusive use of analgesics such as tramadol in the Kintampo South Constituency.
Mr Speaker, tramadol is a man-made (synthetic) narcotic analgesic (painkiller) and is usually prescribed to patients suffering from moderate to severe pain. Preparations containing Tramadol are classified as Prescription Only Medicines (POM). The approved dosage strengths for Tramadol by the Ghana Food and Drugs Authority are 50 mg and 100 mg. Tramadol is addictive, it acts as a stimulant and can produce a feeling of intense euphoria comparable to heroin even at a single dose of 75mg. Regular use of tramadol under a physician's supervision may come with side effects like dizziness, diarrhoea, nausea, nervousness, slow heart rate or weak pulse. An overdose of it could lead to increased blood pressure, convulsion, memory loss, seizures, hallucinations, coma or even death. Taking Tramadol with other unprescribed drugs causes dependence, liver diseases, renal dysfunction and or respiratory dysfunction. For example, a consumption of alcohol with Tramadol (both of which are Central Nervous System Depressants) will automatically slow down your brain activity leading to loss of consciousness, increased depression, brain damage and even suicidal tendencies. Addiction, dependence and mental health effects suffered by Tramadol abusers, render them totally or partially inefficient at their daily activities, resulting in low productivity. This overburdens the nation's healthcare system due to the need for rehabilitation or morbidity and mortality of persons with Tramadol health implications. Mr Speaker, intelligence gathered from the FDA's Post Market Surveillance activities suggested scattered abuse of Tramadol by the youth in some parts of the Volta Region and other parts of the country including the Kintampo South Constituency. The FDA has therefore increased the restriction of the Tramadol use and distribution by registering it as a Controlled Substance. Early last year, 2017, many more reports of Tramadol abuse were received and in response to the tip offs gathered, the FDA strategically conducted swoops in three target regions, Northern, Volta and Western, to confirm these reports. Alarming quantities of unregistered Tramadol, for example, 120mg, 225mg, 250mg and Tramadol with expired registrations were discovered. A follow-up swoop at the Madina Zongo Junction in Accra towards the end of 2017 which was organised during a training workshop on pharmaceutical crime investigations and intelligence by FDA for the media, security agencies and the judiciary uncovered sixteen suspects selling unregistered drugs including tramadol who were arrested and handed over to the police for further investiga- tions. Mr Speaker, intensified nationwide public education, product quality and safety monitoring activities at educational institutions (primary, secondary, tertiary), markets, beaches, transport terminals and their environs have confirmed increased and routine abuse of Tramadol (popularly
Mr Speaker, I would like to know from the Hon Minister what punishment were meted out to those 16 suspected sellers of these unregistered drugs after the swoop, so that they may not engage in it again?
Mr Speaker, I have reported the matter to the police and after the arrest, I am afraid to mention that we have not done a follow-up to look at what punitive sanctions have actually been meted out to these recalcitrant traders. Mr Speaker, I would want to direct the FDA to do a quick follow-up and in good time I would come back to the Chamber and report on the matter. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, I would like to know from the Hon Minister when the Ministry would conduct the public education he mentioned in Kintampo North and South, so that, our youth would also withdraw from the use of tramadol? Thank you.
Mr Speaker, our public education on tramadol abuse is ongoing and with this Question, which is bringing up the extent to which Kintampo North and South are in, we would have to reschedule and plan to visit that area specifically to do more public education in that area. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, in the Hon Minister's Answer --
Hon Member, for the sake of our own consistency, this is a constituency-specific Question, Kintampo South Constituency. What we agreed upon was constituency-specific. Let us go by our rules so that there is no unnecessary controversy. Question numbered 318, Hon Member for Fomena?
Mr Speaker, I am not the Hon Member for Fomena, but I would want to seek your indulgence to get a clarification to Order 69. It is in relation to supplementary questions. Mr Speaker, I can understand that with Leadership, we could vary Order 69 to let business flow. But it has become almost a norm that we cannot ask supplementary questions on constituency-specific questions. I would just want to know from you, if it is a new Order, so that we all know that we cannot do it, so that we ignore Order 69.
Hon Member, Order 69 does not exclude the decision of this House, which you know very well was the same policy procedure during the immediate past Parliament's term and which was adopted by the House. And it applies across board. If you want us to think of something else, Leaders, please, the next time we meet, you may put your heads together and come to some conclusion. But it is most improper to come to the House when we have all agreed on matters of procedure and then, give the impression that somebody is being discriminated against. That is not so. Anybody who was in the past Parliament would know that that is what prevailed and it was adopted. In fact, that is not how I started, but it was so adopted. So if you think otherwise, you may advise your Leaders, but that is what we all thought of. It had the reason of enabling us to contain more questions within the one hour allowed for question time. Otherwise, we can all ask questions and when it is one hour, we stop wherever we stop. But this was what was decided by the House.
Mr Speaker, we have accepted your admonition on this but in Order 69, supplementary questions are derived from the substantive Question. In this particular matter, we need to make a distinction. If we come to page 16 of the Hon Minister's own answer, he delved out of Kintampo when he said: “Intelligence gathered from the FDA's Post Market Surveillance activities suggested scattered abuse of Tramadol by the youth in some parts of the Volta Region …” Mr Speaker, so once he does that, it becomes a matter of national interest. So since we are masters of our rules, we would engage you on it, but I just thought that it is his answer that is provoking the enormous public interest, because he knows that the substance is being abused. He knows that the substance is being acquired illegally, and he knows that there is no misused legislation in Ghana to deal with this matter, but we would engage you further on it. However, the situations are not the same and the contexts are not similar. Mr Speaker, again, that is why we are masters of our rules. The use of tramadol is of immense public concern leading to loss of lives of the young people using it, but we would engage you further on it if that is what would please you. Thank you.
Leadership can always engage, but all Leaders in this Hon House know that, that which the Speaker is now saying is the decision of Leadership, so that, as many Hon Members as possible would also have the chance to ask their Questions, and I am applying those rules impartially. Question 318, Hon Member for Fomena? Rehabilitation of Health Centres in Fomena Constituency Mr Andrew Amoako Asiamah asked the Minister for Health steps being taken to rehabilitate the following Health Centres in the Fomena Constituency which were in deplorable states: (i) Akrokerri Health Centre (ii) Fomena Health Centre (iii) Wioso Health Centre (iv) Adomanu Health Centre.
Mr Speaker, the afore-mentioned facilities have not been captured in the Capital Investment Plan for the period spanning 2015-2019. The assessment for capturing facilities for the 2015-2019 Investment plan was done in 2013 when these facilities were in a comparatively better shape than they are today. Presently, the Ghana Health Service is in the process of collating the number of facilities that need attention for the preparation of the2020-2025 Invest plan which would definitely include the facilities in question. This notwithstanding, the technical team of the Ministry has been assigned to assess the facilities mentioned above to generate the rehabilitation requirements and the cost for consideration and possible inclusion in the 2019 budget depending on the allocation from the Ministry of Finance.
Hon Member, any supplementary question?
Mr Speaker, could the Hon Minister give us specific timelines, so that the chiefs and people of the constituency could be rest assured?
Mr Speaker, I think I mentioned that we are going to try to fast track rehabilitation of these facilities into our 2019 budget, and since this activity and whatever we would do there is dependent on our allocation of the budget in 2019, I am afraid it would be very difficult for me to give specific timelines, when these projects would be tackled and completed.
Hon Member, any further questions? Very well, Question starred 319, Hon Member for Fomena? Completion of Adansi North District Hospital Mr A. A. Asiamah asked the Minister for Health what steps were being taken to complete the Adansi North District Hospital in the Fomena Constituency.
Mr Speaker, the Construction of a district hospital in the Adansi North district, Fomena is part of the 7 district hospitals programme being undertaken by the Mssrs NMSI of the United Kingdom under a turnkey arrangement. The project has stalled due to the expiration of the letters of credit backing the loan. The Ministry of Finance is currently in discussions with the UKEF and the Contractors on strategies to extend the credit facility. In view of the above, the Ministry of Health is currently awaiting an approval of the extension of the loan from the Ministry of Finance based on which the commercial contract will be reactivated. Works would resume as soon as approval is received from Ministry of Finance. Mr Speaker, I would just like to re-echo to my Hon Colleague that, we are seriously working on this project, not only for Fomena, but all the other district hospitals that were packaged for this particular contractor. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Lastly Question starred 320, the Hon Member for Mfantseman.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Member for Mfantseman is indisposed, so, I would crave your indulgence to ask the Question on his behalf.
Go ahead. Renovation and upgrade of Saltpond Hospital Q. 320. Mr Patrick Yaw Boamah (on behalf of Mr Ekow Hayford) asked the Hon Minister for Health whether the Ministry of Health is aware of the conditions of the Saltpond Hospital, and has for the past three years been seeking funding to totally re-develop the facility?
Hon Member, are you reading the right question? Mr Boamah asked the Minister for Health what plans were in place to renovate and upgrade the Saltpond Hospital which was built in 1920.
Mr Speaker, the Ministry of Health is aware of the condition of the Saltpond Hospital and has for the past three (3) years been seeking funding to totally redevelop the facility. It has been ranked 5 th for rehabilitation in the Central Region and will be captured in the Ministry of Health's Capital Investment Budget for 2019.
Hon Minister, may I know when the said ranking was done?
Mr Speaker, these rankings is an ongoing activity that is undertaken by the Ministry. We review from time to time, about every year. What we do to rank is that we consider some variables with regards to population size in the region, and then we compare from district to district what the populations are like. Proximity to the nearest facility; we always look at a minimum of 8 kilometres between facilities, so if you have a particular district that has no hospital, or
Mr Speaker, from the question, this hospital was built in 1920 and it is captured in your capital investment budget for 2019. What assurance are you giving to the people of Mfantseman, knowing very well the importance of this hospital?
Mr Speaker, I am afraid I cannot give the assurance my Hon Colleague seeks, not because we are not very serious about trying to re-fix the place, but when what you look for is dependent on some other variables, it becomes very difficult for you to begin to make assurance. If we put it in our proposal for budgetary allocation and for some reason the Ministry of Finance is not able to give us the allocation, then I may be called back here to the Chamber by the Hon Minority Leader to face the Government Assurances Committee and I do not think my Hon Colleague would be happy to see me that way. So, Mr Speaker, I would not give assurances but I would want to commit myself to the fact that we would try and see how we can get budgetary allocation and fix that for the people in Saltpond.
Hon Minister, when are you next visiting this facility to acquaint yourself with the situation?
Mr Speaker, I did a regional tour of the Central Region last year. Unfortunately, we concentrated on projects that were in progress -- facilities that are being constructed -- and the time allocated for this tour was not very adequate so, I had to cut it short. Presently, this year, I have done some little portion of the Northern Region. It is a very huge area. As part of my annual work plan, I am trying to get to facilities in almost all the regions and I have scheduled myself to even do Brong Ahafo Region before the end of March. By middle of the year, I have not seen some few facilities. I may create time or probably send a team to go and have a good look at the facility again.
Thank you very much, Hon Minister, for attending to the House and answering our Questions. You are please discharged. Item listed 5 -- Statements and I have a Statement from the Hon Deputy Majority Leader and Chairperson of the Women's Caucus of Parliament to mark International Women's Day 2018.
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity. Mr Speaker, I rise to make a Statement to mark this year's International Women's Day which falls on Thursday, 8th March, 2018. Declared by the United Nations as International Women's Day, the 8th of March, every year, is observed around the world to take stock of the struggles and progress made towards gender equality. On this day, ordinary women who have played extraordinary roles in the history of their countries and communities are also celebrated. Mr Speaker, the theme chosen by the United Nations to commemorate this year's International Women's Day is “Time is Now: Rural and Urban Activists Transforming Women's Lives”. By this theme, the United Nations is calling on all citizens of the world to join activists in all settings, rural and urban, around the world to seize the moment, celebrate, take action and transform women's lives everywhere. Citizens are also called upon to use the occasion to consider how to accelerate the 2030 Agenda and build momentum for the effective implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, especially goal number 5: to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls; and number 4: to ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning. Mr Speaker, throughout history, women have played and continue to play significant roles in the development of many nations, yet, women's progress continues to be undermined by inequalities that exist in our homes, workplaces and places of worship, among others. Ghana's democracy has come of age but the voices of our women still remains fai nt or virtually missing in our national discourse despite constituting about 51 percent of Ghana's population. Ghana has won the vote, not the voice. As aptly stated by Mr Kofi Annan, the former UN Secretary-General at the World Education Forum in 2000: “No development strategy is better than the one that involves women as central players”. We need to work harder to improve women's representation at all levels of governance in this country. The current thirty-seven (37) women out of the two hundred and seventy-five (275) elected Members of Parliament, representing 13 per cent of the total membership of Parliament, is woefully inadequate and far below the internationally-agreed target of at least 30 per cent. The District Assemblies and political parties play significant roles to develop the confidence, skills and the political acumen required to climb with ease their political ladder. Many of our Hon Members of Parliament, both past and present, have at one stage or the other held leadership positions in their respective political affiliations or been members of the Assemblies.
Thank you very much, Hon Deputy Majority Leader for this well- made Statement. Yes, Hon Member?
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity. Mr Speaker, we are here today to celebrate women. Today is our day! Mr Speaker, the theme is, “Press for Progress: Time is Now.” Mr Speaker, I would like to use this opportunity to congratulate our women in the markets, ordinary woman on the streets, single mothers, and our women who are in the farms working hard to put food on our table.
Mr Speaker, on 6th March, 2018 when our market women took their turn to march and display their wares, I started crying. Mr Speaker, these women contributed immensely to the development of this nation. They produced doctors, lawyers, teachers, nurses and Members of Parliament. Mr Speaker, these women produced all the professionals we could think of. But what do we have for them? As they produce to take over the nation and take good care of them, what do we plan for them as a nation? Mr Speaker, where is Hannah Cudjoe who was with the ‘Big Six'? Mr Speaker, when we had Independence, there was a lady called Hannah Cudjoe. Now, we cannot find any history or anything about that woman. Where is she? Can we do something about it so that we would know that a woman too was part of the ‘Big Six', who fought for the nation? Mr Speaker, let us acknowledge them for the various roles they played for the nation. Mr Speaker, today is International Women's Day, let us ask our men and the whole nation -- about 40 per cent of them are married men -- how many of them hugged their wives in the house and wished them Happy International Women's Day and even gave them morning kisses for this day before they left home? Mr Speaker, we should appreciate our women. Mr Speaker, we should eulogise people when they are alive. I would take this opportunity to salute Hon Nii Ashie Moore, the former Member of Parliament (MP) for Adentan. Exactly three years ago, he sent all of us to Mövenpick, he dined with us, wined with us, danced with us and put a smile on our faces and gave us chocolate for the day. Nii Armah Ashie Moore, wherever you are, I salute you this morning. We should eulogise people when they are alive. Mr Speaker, today, I challenge all of our men to take us out. [Laughter.] Send us to Mövenpick Ambassador Hotel after a hard day's work. The whole year, women are busy working and cooking. At night, we would also make sure that your beds are laid nicely, as we look beautiful on them. So, why would you not want to acknowledge us? I am talking about the women in the markets. The men should put their hands in their pockets today. They should tell them that today is International Women's Day and give them GH¢300.00 to add to their market money. They should do it. Mr Speaker, it is a whole month's celebration and if they cannot do it today, within the next 30 days, they can do it. They should do it, especially those who are close to the rural areas. The woman who are into farming, today, our men could just go and pay for their fertilizer. Now, fertilizer costs about GH¢50.00. They could pay for three or four farmers who are women in their communities, just to appreciate them. Let us appreciate women. Mr Speaker, I expect you to tell us something today. After we adjourn, we would come to your office. We thank you for what you have been doing for us and the support you have been giving women. Today, from here, we would all come to you and I know that you would tell us something special which the men would not hear. Thank you, Mr Speaker for the opportunity.
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to contribute to the Statement ably made by the Hon Deputy Majority Leader and Chairperson of the Women's Caucus. I can feel from the Floor of the House, the zeal and how the men have started appreciating women. They should continue like that. Mr Speaker, women have contributed significantly to the social and economic development of this country and we continue to do that. We have talked about women's empowerment and want to bridge the gender disparity between men and women and achieve gender equality by the year 2030. How can we get there? We can only get there when we create an enabling environment for women to occupy certain spaces, and when we give women the opportunity to also contribute to the development of this country. We can only get gender equality when women are also given equal opportunities. We cannot get there when we are always trailing behind the men. We are not saying that we want to take over from the men, but we are asking them to carry us along as they move up the ladder. Women contribute significantly to the agricultural, health and educational sectors as well as other sectors of the economy. Yet, as Hon Members in this House, there are only 36 of us out of the 275 Members. Decisions affecting women are most at times, taken by men because we do not have enough women in this House. This is a clarion call to all of us to support women, so that women can occupy their paces. Mr Speaker, we have always advocated women's representation at all levels. When I read the sixth paragraph of the Hon Deputy Majority Leader's Statement, she emphasised and with your permission, I beg to quote: “Ghana's democracy has come of age but the voices of our women still remain faint…” Why are our voices still faint? Is there something we have not been able to identify? We have so many women's groups such as ABANTU for Development, Women in Law and Development in Africa (WiLDAF) and International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), advocating for more women representation, capacity building, et cetera, yet we can still not find our space. What is the problem? What is missing here? What have we not identified? What is it that we have to find, so that women can occupy our spaces? It is about time our voices were heard and we got the fullest support from our male counter- parts. It is about time that the Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection,
fast-tracked the Affirmative Action Bill to Parliament. I hope and believe that when the Affirmative Action Bill gets to this Floor, our male counterparts would support it. This Bill is just a process to empower women and bridge the gap between men and women. It is not a Bill that would take over men's spaces from Parliament or any managerial role. We have to bridge the gap somewhere. Mr Speaker, we sometimes talk about the quota system. I read a presentation you made to the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), where you emphasised the quota system. You said that if we really want to bridge the gap between men and women, we should have a drastic strategy to move women forward. This could be done sometimes, through a quota system. There could be a law by the Electoral Commission, that before any political party files to contest for national election, that political party must have fielded a certain number of women. If we had something like that we would get somewhere in bridging the gap between men and women. All political parties have safe seats and we cannot lose sight of that. When we go to the Volta Region, there are safe seats for the National Democratic Congress (NDC). When we go to the Ashanti Region, there are safe seats for the New Patriotic Party (NPP). The political parties also have a role to play in bridging the gender disparity. If we gave seats from these same constituencies to women to contest, I believe we would get somewhere. Some time ago, the NPP tried to introduce some sort of affirmative action but our male counterparts did not take kindly to that. I think it is time we revisited that issue. Today, we celebrate women who play very significant roles in our families, communities and wherever they find themselves. We have more than six hands. We feed the family, take care of the home, family and everybody. Women are your mothers and sisters and we want your support for this Affirmative Action Bill. We can never achieve the 2030 gender equality if we do not put things together and create an enabling environment for women to occupy our spaces. Mr Speaker, I would also want to draw your attention to the third paragraph which talks about the theme chosen by the United Nations (UN), which says “Press for Progress. Time is Now”. The time indeed is now. It is time now, time for women to occupy our spaces and for all of us to create an enabling environment for women. It is time now time for us to come out to be self-confident. People think that women find it difficult to take certain positions. Let us prove to the world that we can also make it. Those of us who attend Lighthouse Chapel have this saying that: “daughter, you can make it”. Once Akosua has been able to make it, I believe Ama could also do it. So, it is about time we came out as women. We have to be self-confident, get more women in Parliament, at the District Assemblies and in managerial roles. Mr Speaker, let me take this opportunity to thank the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, for giving us 27 per cent of women to occupy spaces in his Government. The Hon Deputy Majority Leader, enumerated some of the female Hon Ministers and so I would not want to go back to that. I believe the President has done well for giving women the opportunity to serve in his Government. Mr Speaker, as we celebrate women today, I would want to say ayekoo to all our mothers, the Chief of Staff, who is the first woman Chief of Staff in President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo's Government -- I salute her. I salute the First Lady, Mrs Rebecca Akufo-Addo, the Second Lady, Hajia Samira Bawumia. I salute all the women in this country, farmers, nurses, doctors and all our professionals. Mr Speaker, in conclusion, I would want to say ayekoo to all the female Hon Members of Parliament and also entreat all the male Hon Members of Parliament to emulate the good deeds of the former Member of Parliament for Adentan, Hon Ashie Moore, who used to take us to Movenpick. I believe this time, our men would take us to Kempinski, Gold Coast Hotel. They should not wait for us to always cook the dinner for them, they should also take us out. They should also honour their wives, women, daughters and bring the girls on board. Mr Speaker, I salute all women.
Hon Dr Zanetor Agyeman-Rawlings and then one more Hon Member from my right and then Leadership.
Mr Speaker, I would like to add my voice to the Statement made by the Hon Deputy Majority Leader. Mr Speaker, in the pursuit of gender parity and mainstreaming, I believe that the value of proper policy and research analysis on issues that affect women cannot be underestimated; capacity building and women in peace and security must be at the forefront of what we do. Nonetheless, as we seek to achieve these objectives, we must not narrow these purely to women's issues because women's issues are national issues, and women's rights issues are human rights issues, but in order to achieve this, we do need to have the support of the men, and therefore, in addressing these issues, we must ensure that we are not preaching to the choir, that we involve the men and make sure that they understand the value of empowering women in our societies, and in understanding that a society that is not balanced cannot progress. Mr Speaker, in 2016, the number of years required to close the gender gap was supposedly 83 years, but in 2017, the number of years went up to 100. Mr Speaker, where are we headed? In considering the Affirmative Action Bill, we must not underestimate the need for gender sensitisation not just across the nation, but in Parliament as well. This is because, the reality is that, not every woman is a feminist, and therefore, the understanding of what the Affirmative Action Bill does, represents the value of women across the nation, and for the nation in general cannot be left to chance with respect to what would happen when the Bill comes to Parliament.
Yes, Hon Member? Two male Hon Members from each side of the aisle should get ready. We would want to know that the women are ably supported and that the men share their aspirations.
Mr Speaker, I would take this opportunity and commend the Hon Deputy Majority Leader who made the Statement, who also happens to be the Leader of the women caucus in Parliament. I would also take the opportunity to commend the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, for promoting gender issues, especially those that have to do with women. As was stated earlier, in his Government there are about 27 per cent of women who have taken up various positions. We are very fortunate to have the Chief of Staff being a woman, the Chief Justice also being a woman, various Hon Ministers and Hon Deputy Ministers also being women. Chief Executive Officers (CEOs), Board Chairs and other positions are also held by women, some of whom are Ambassadors. Mr Speaker, I would commend the President for taking up such a good initiative and plead with Hon Members to support his agenda to attain 30 per cent of various positions for women. Mr Speaker, I would also take this opportunity to commend our various women who are into various works be it formal or informal and those who are military and police officers. They risk their lives every day to protect us and on a special day like this, it is worth mentioning their names. I pray that God would continue to give them the strength so that they can continue to protect Ghana our mother land. Mr Speaker, I would want to make a special appeal. One thing that bothers us as a country has to do with the fact that young children who are raped or are accident victims -- [Interruption] -- we see people showing their private parts on television. Recently, I went to myConstituency and there were two young people fighting. The first thing I saw was people picking their phones to record what was going on without taking any steps to separate them from fighting . As a country, with the side at which we are gearing towards, it is not the best for us. Rape and accident victims whose private parts are shown on social media is something that we should take a look at again. Mr Speaker, I would want to take this opportunity to wish every Ghanaian woman a happy International Women's Day. Some Female Hon Members -- rose --
I would allow one male Hon Member from each side of the aisle. With Statements, if we do not take care, one hour would soon pass by. The Hon Minority Leader has a Statement himself to make. If there would be no male Hon Member from my left side of the aisle to support the women, then I would just give up.
Yes, Hon Member?
Mr Speaker, thank you for giving me the opportunity to comment on the Statement ably made by the Hon Deputy Majority Leader in commemoration of International Women's Day. Mr Speaker, you would admit, as would many of us, that if not for women, we would not exist. And so as men, we owe our lives, our existence, nourishing and education to our mothers. On this day, it is only proper and fair that we acknowledge the role that women have played in the various facets of our lives. Mr Speaker, I have often said that there is no man who can list his achievements in life without pointing to the able support of a woman. And so on this day, we say, ayekoo. But in doing so, I believe it is equally important that we highlight some of the challenges that women still face in this country. We still have a lot of cultural and religious practices that serve as stumbling blocks towards the quest for women to realise their full potential, and to make their fullest contribution towards the forward march of our nation. Mr Speaker, there are parts of this nation where school enrolments are still against young girls and females. There are many instances too where we hear complaints from our sisters about the propensity for some persons in authority to try and exploit them, simply because they go to them for help. And so, as we celebrate women today, it is only fair and proper that we support the State and government to do what is needed to create room and more avenues for our women to continue to contribute beyond what they have done for us, including giving us the life that has permitted us to be here today. Mr Speaker, on this note, thank you for giving me the opportunity.
Thank you very much Hon Member for your brevity.
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to add my voice to the Statement ably made by the Hon Deputy Majority Leader, Hon Sarah Adwoa Safo. Mr Speaker, I believe that today is a big day for women and we celebrate all of them.
Conclusion Statements by Leaders — One person would speak from the Minority and then the Hon Minister would respond by taking the slot of the Majority.
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity. I beg to contribute to the Statement ably made by the Women Caucus leader of Parliament, Hon Sarah Adwoa Safo, who is also the Hon Deputy Majority Leader. Mr Speaker, today is being celebrated as the International Women's Day under the theme “Time is Now: Rural and Urban Activists Transforming Women's Lives.” Mr Speaker, the woman was a girl-child before becoming that woman whom we look up to. There is a lot to it from that time to now. We might continue celebrating hundreds of Women's Day Celebrations, but there is the need for us to get back to the beginning. Why do I say this? A child is born to a family; many a time, immediately the man is told that your wife has given birth, the question is whether it is a girl or boy. When it is a girl, the attitude, I can assure you is not the best. It looks like it is not even necessary to have a girl-child but it is hurray when it is a boy. This sends the message out right from birth that the girl-child is nobody, not worth it and is nothing to write home about. In most homes, families, cultures, it is not the best. Mr Speaker, there is a lot to be done because the treatment of the girl-child right from the beginning through her education,
that is if she is given the opportunity, as compared to the boy is not fair. It is very important that we look at it -- that human beings as we are, we are equal and we need to be given equal opportunities. If the equal opportunity is given us right from the word go, as the Constitution states that there is no gender difference in all spheres of life of Ghanaians, then we would go a long way to have equality and to have our women in positions that the need be. Mr Speaker, we look at women who have come thus far; some still alive and some who have passed away. They have done a lot, and there is the need to remember them. Just as the Hon Member who made the Statement said earlier, it is good for us to continue to remember them and to continue to ensure that their names live with us -- that they are our mentors and we uphold them. Mr Speaker, today, we have some other more women that I would be mentioning to add to the list that our Leader had mentioned. We have Madam Charlotte Osei who is the Electoral Commissioner of Ghana; we have Madam Cecilia Johnson who was the first Minister for Local Government and Rural Development. We have Nana Oye Lithur who was also the Hon Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection and we have Mrs Bamford-Addo who was the Speaker of Parliament and was also a Supreme Court Judge, and we have Madam Marietta Brew who was also a Minister. We have Hon Hannah Tetteh and we have my own sister, the late Hon Hawa Yakubu, just to mention a few. Mr Speaker, why do we think that we need to go back to the drawing board? That is because we need to learn best practices and find out how these women came to be what they are. What is preventing us? If we say we are giving opportunities to the girl-child, who is the one who is taking care of the girl-child? They are the mothers in the villages. These mothers are not mothers who need much money to undertake their businesses. Some of them sell petty items such as pepper, salt or kolanuts -- you can name them. One woman just goes to buy just a bowl of herrings which we call nsesawa and she sells it. With that, she is able to take care of her children. What support are we giving to the village woman? The highest amount she may need is GH¢200.00. These are the women who really need that support and need to be given that opportunity. Mr Speaker, how are we going to support the rural women? Whenever we talk about support to women -- a lot have been mentioned of the 10 million; we talk of entrepreneurs and when we mention the entrepreneurs, I can assure you that with that big English word, most of our women sit back and do not understand. They do not even know that they have an opportunity. We need to break that word down, to come out and make sure that the women understand so that at least those women who have set up their little businesses that they have apprentices working with them such as hairdressers, seamstresses and cloth weavers, among others, are given the opportunity so that they can support those who come there to learn the trade but may not be able to even buy sewing machines when coming to learn --it is very important. Mr Speaker, we look at the fact that women who are into hairdressing have to pay electricity bills. At the end of the day, this rural lady is sitting there and maybe has not gotten GH¢100.00 for a whole month. These are the rural women, yet they have to pay electricity bill -- what are we doing to make sure that the bill is brought down for her to enable her continue to work so that others can also be trained under her? Mr Speaker, I would suggest to all political parties and to our President, H. E. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, who is championing the cause of women to take the leadership role of making sure that the 30 per cent appointment to District Assemblies should be given to women. This would go a long way to help us. It is of no essence if we continue to talk about 30 or 40 per cent every day and yet we are not achieving our aim. Mr Speaker, in concluding, I would want to say that in Ghana, we would want to press for progress. In the State of the Nation Address, the President mentioned the issue of bringing the Affirmative Action Bill to Parliament. I am the Ranking Member for the Committee on Gender, Children and Social Protection and I have spoken with the Hon Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection and she is in the process of reintroducing the Affirmative Action Bill. Mr Speaker, but the question is; what stakeholder meetings have we held? Have we spoken to our men and are they ready to support it? Has consultation been properly done? Ever since the beginning when we started bringing this Bill to this House, I have heard, including some women here, that we are not ready to pass that Bill because we think that others would be getting it cheap. I believe that there would be so many clauses that would be attached to the Affirmative Action Bill such that it is not going to be free for anybody at all. This is because to elect a woman to come to this august House or to take up a leadership position, that woman is not an empty-box, excuse my language. She is going to be a woman of competence, a woman of substance, confidence and a woman who can undertake leadership role as expected. Mr Speaker, I thank you very much, and I just would want to say that Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) needs to be completely eradicated. Mr Speaker, teenage pregnancy is very high, especially, in my district. We need to find out the cause of it. The dropout rate in schools is very high, especially with the girl-child. Let us support the girl- child to grow up into the woman that she needs to be, and when she becomes a leader or takes up a leadership role, she would do exactly as it is expected of everybody, and that the woman would not be seen to be one who only takes
Thank you very much. The Hon Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection will now make her Statement on behalf of the Majority Side of the House as she applies the time. Hon Minister, your entire speech would be captured by the Hansard department so, please, be brief. You have ten minutes. International Women's Day, 2018
Mr Speaker, Hon Majority Leader, Hon Minority Leader, Hon Members of Parliament, I wish you all, especially the women a happy International Women's Day. The Ministry, on behalf of all women in Ghana, is grateful for the opportunity given to us to address this Honourable House on the 2018 International Women's Day (IWD). The IWD is celebrated on March 8 every year. The day is set aside by the United Nations to celebrate the economic, political and social achievements of women, past, present and future and most significantly, to draw the world's attention to areas requiring further action, and the need to accelerate gender parity. The commemoration of IWD is further to remind government, policy makers and stakeholders of their key roles in translating the theme into reality and the need to rally support for women towards a common goal of ensuring their empowerment. The 2018 global theme for the IWD is “Time is Now: Rural and urban activities transforming women's lives”. To reflect in Ghana's situation, we have adopted a national theme: “WomenToo -- Press for Progress as Game Changers in Development”. The two themes seek to highlight the need to empower women in all settings to play active role in up lifting women from poverty and to be change agents in their own development. ‘‘Be Bold for change'', was the global slogan for the 2017 IWD. The celebration focused on the theme “Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50:50 by 2030: Step it up for Gender Equality”. Using this as our guide for the year 2017, the Ministry has strived through its programmes to empower women, improved legal and policy framework to protect women and capacity building of vulnerable women to cater for themselves and their families. The Ministry launched the He-For-She initiative to identify male ambassadors to pledge and commit to working towards gender equality, support the Affirmative Action Bill and promote the President's agenda as African Union Gender Champion and Sustainable Development Goal Co-Chair. The Ministry worked tirelessly to finalise and submit for Cabinet approval the Affirmative Action Bill. The climax of the 2017 Sixteen Days of Activism was climaxed with a community durbar in Assin Adadeitem (where a 4 year old girl was defiled) to raise awareness on the negative effect of sexual based- violence just to mention a few. Mr Speaker, democracy is about numbers and equity. The participation of women in democracy is basic to governance in democracy. Women have become dynamic leaders of transformation, Ghana 61 years after Independence. Globally, women's involvement in civil liberties, building communities and providing protection at various situations is widely acknowledged. However, more needs to be done in the area of leadership both in government, the private sector and in urban and rural Ghana. Women contribute significantly to the growth and economic development of every country and yet, their efforts are often less appreciated in national development. In Ghana, the situation of women is not different. The economy of Ghana thrives largely on the informal sector which is dominated by women. This sector is characterized by inadequate regulatory frameworks and higher risks, making women poor and vulnerable. It is admitted generally that, there have been significant improvement in Ghana in the promotion of gender equality and women's empowerment as well as attitudinal shift in society. However, there are still complex issues concerning male dominance and patriarchy that need to be addressed in order to step up efforts towards achieving sustainable development. The average Ghanaian seems to hold unto the belief that women are still just meant for child bearing and cooking and the shift is apparent in Parliament where out of 275 MPs, only 37 are female, representing 13 per cent. Mr Speaker, girls are not in school, the defilement of girls and boys is ongoing, rape, teachers impregnating girls, teenage pregnancy, child prostitution, child marriage, burning and maltreatment of alleged witches, wife-beating and violence against women, abusing women and by exposing rape victims on social media. Unpaid work, kayayei, trafficking still prevail in our society today. The Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MoGCSP), since its inception, has shown commitment regarding the adoption of vigorous policies and programmes to overcome gender inequality and women's empowerment in Ghana. A lot of institutional, administrative and legal reforms have been initiated, including the promotion of Gender Mainstreaming in all government processes. These have included gender responsive budgeting in respective MDAs and enactment of a Domestic Violence law which criminalises harmful cultural practices. The Ministry is also pushing strongly for Ghana to pass an Affirmative Action Bill, Review of the Interstate Succession Law, Property Rights of Spouses Bill and other relevant laws to better promote and protect the rights of women. Mr Speaker, my predecessors have come to Parliament since the creation of the Ministry of Women and Children in 2001 to talk about women's challenges and threats, when Ghana is going to walk the talk. We need to take action now to ensure the empowerment and participation of women at all levels. Parliament's demonstration of its commitment to the promotion of
women's rights will be the speedy passage of the Affirmative Action Bill when laid before the House this year. Mr Speaker, The commemoration of International Women's Day therefore presents an opportunity to actively engage women not only at the National level but most importantly those in the rural communities whose plight is worse off because of their circumstances. This year's celebration seeks to provide a platform to take stock of contribution, achievements and successes chalked by rural and urban women and also deliberate their struggles and challenges as it relates to breaking the barriers of gender equality and women's empowerment in Ghana. This year's celebration has the following objectives: To identify and take stock of the status of women in Ghana; To provide a platform that focuses on the needs of rural and urban women in the changing world of work; and To rally more support to accelerate the process towards the achievement of gender equality, equity and women's empowerment with respect to the achievement of the SDGs and the Beijing Declaration. The celebration was launched on 1st March, 2018, with a press briefing on the significance of the IWD. An inter-school debate on the topic “Behind every successful woman, there is a man. Women too press for progress” was organized yesterday, 7th March, 2018 to create awareness on the need for the empowerment of women, especially the rural woman. I am happy to inform this august House that the Ministry together with its partners was able to organize more than 1000 women to take part in this highly successful event. A dinner dance will be held tomorrow 9th March, 2018, at Movenpick Hotel to raise funds to support our initiative dubbed “Operation Get off the Street Now for a Better Life”. You are all cordially invited to support this good cause. Mr Speaker, as we celebrate the IWD, we take this opportunity to congratulate all women in Ghana for their contribution so far in national development and the empowerment of women in Ghana. We encourage all women to be game changers in development where ever they find themselves. We urge the support of the men and boys as He-For-She Ambassadors and campaigners. The challenges of women and their development is not a women's issue but a national agenda that should be addressed for the achievement of the accelerated development of our dear Ghana, our motherland. Over half of our population is women and the rest are born by women, so women cannot wait and the time is now for Women too to Press for Progress for Change. The time is now. Long live the Women and Girls of Ghana. Long live Ghana. Mr Speaker, I have brought sweets to all Hon Members. Today, in celebration of International Women's Day, I would give some sweets to the Majority and Minority sides of the House. But I would implore you, Mr Speaker, that the women should get three each and the men, one, for positive discrimination -- [Uproar.] -- I thank you very much.
Thank you very much, Hon Minister. I direct that the Hansard should capture the entirety of the presentation from the formal Statement written by the Hon Minister. In fact, this is a very important Statement. Many of our countrymen and women think, for example, that there is an Affirmative Action Bill before this Honourable House. This is not correct as of today. Hon Minister, if you would please give me an ear. This is not correct as of today and we would ask and direct the Committee on Gender and Children to follow-up and ensure that this Bill touches this House in a matter of days, because of the public comments as though it is Parliament that is not doing anything about it. But there is nothing before us, so we want this Bill to really come before us and within days. It is worth saying that -- I direct the Women's Caucus of Parliament and the Committee on Gender and Children, no matter the rudimentary nature of whatever first came before the House before it was taken back, they should seriously start to analyse, study and make proposals which should be what Parliament thinks of the process. After all, we can take joint control and ensure that there is an Affirmative Action Act. So, please, let us set this joint body rolling immediately, even before anything touches this Honourable House, to show our own capacity to be proactive in issues of legislation that concern all of us. We will definitely want to make positive recommendations because I have had the occasion to comment that, what we had before was a list of suggestions and hopeful wishes rather than positive legislation that will be an instrument for social engineering. These we must seriously consider as a House, and if we consider that Rwanda has got 45 per cent of women as Hon Members of Parliament for years, and now has reached over 50 per cent, then we must also set out to think how this is done. This, for example, includes the fact that we can have seats exclusively for women so that some men do not feel threatened. Additional seats for women is a real possibility, so that we can have a minimum of 30 more seats to be competed for zonally among women and women alone. That, automatically, would bring additional 30 women to the House, for example. As for District Assemblies, I recommend that we insist that the 30 per cent reserved should become the preserve of women, and I believe that with such positive measures, the House would be seen to be working on this very important matter with the cooperation of the Women's Caucus, the Committee on Gender and Children and the Hon Minister. I thank you very much. -- [Hear! Hear!] -- The Hon Minority Leader will make the next Statement. When you make a Statement on International Women's Day, it becomes tricky, but this is also a very important one. A tribute to the late K. B. Asante. The Hon Minority Leader will make this Statement and there will be a response from the Majority Leadership and we will come to the end of Statements time. Tribute to the late K. B. Asante
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to pay tribute to the late Kwaku Baprui Asante.
The December 31, 1981 coup, saw him as the first Secretary of Trade and Industry. In his trademark forthright tone, Mr K.B. Asante remarked. “I did not last long. I was sacked on radio after a few months. I went to Europe to lick my wounds and to save me from opening my mouth wide as I often do and then getting into trouble”. On his return, he says he accepted, against advice, the position of Secretary for Education and Culture: “I did my best but did not satisfy everybody, and so in 1990 I was appointed High Commissioner to the Court of St. James in London”. Social commentator Back home, he returned to work in areas which gave him pleasure. KB was best known for his column in the Daily Graphic named “Voice from Afar”, but he was a resource person for almost every radio and TV station in Ghana. His characteristic blunt and forthright speech was always sought by the media who were looking for catchy headlines and sound bites. He was often, however, frustrated that the conversations did not lead to significant change in attitudes or behaviours. Social and charitable KB played his part well beyond formal employment. As Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ), he was instrumental in getting GIJ upgraded into a tertiary degree-awarding institution. He was also Chairman of the Board of Achimota School. KB was the founding Chairman of the La Community Bank, and played a key role in the development of La through La Mansaamo Kpee, the local development association of La. KB was the founding President and life patron of the Ga Adangbe Council, and his tireless work in promoting the interests of the Ga Adangbe people and seeking to preserve and recover Ga Adangbe lands is well known. He was also made a Lifetime Noble Patron of the Pan African Writers Association (PAWA). The consummate diplomat, K.B. Asante, was particularly concerned about the quality of personnel who served in the nation's foreign service. Mr K.B. Asante was a recipient of the Grand Medal (GM) and also the Member of the Order of the Volta. The University of Ghana conferred on him an LLD degree, and he was made the proud recipient of an Honorary Doctor of Letters Degree at the University of Development Studies. Mr Asante says he could not have achieved all these without a congenial home, supported by his wife, Matilda, and all his children who worked hard to gain entrance to the great school Achimota, obtain University degrees and lead useful lives. He considered himself extremely lucky and a good reason to give thanks to the Most High for His great blessings. There is no befitting way to conclude this tribute to a modern Ghanaian hero than in his own words: “I am proud of the achievements of my generation. But I am also conscious of the great errors we committed and failures to fully grasp opportunities. Our shortcomings should enable the young and future generations to do far better and create the prosperous Ghana which the nation deserves.” May I convey to the family our deepest sympathy and condolences and may his soul rest in perfect peace.
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to associate myself with the Statement ably made by the Hon Minority Leader to pay tribute in honour of the memory of the late Mr K. B. Asante who has passed on to glory. Mr Speaker, in doing so, I wish to underscore the fact that the late K. B. Asante paid his due to Ghana and served the country well in many capacities as alluded to by the Hon Minority Leader. Mr Speaker, even though some of us were very young, we got to know much about the works of the late K. B. Asante as a diplomat who represented our nation abroad and even as a career public servant. The exploits he made in the various positions that he held are both in the public service, foreign and international. He was also a prolific writer and even when he advanced in age, he continued to write in some of the newspapers, and some of us benefited from it through his writings. He shared his thoughts and wits with some of us who did not have the benefit of working closely with him. Mr Speaker, probably, somebody should take up the challenge to compile the write-ups that he did. It would be an interesting thing to do and it would also help all of us to learn and know more about the late K. B. Asante because he was not only a diplomat but he became a Statesman. He used to be a politician apart from being a public servant and he had the passion for the development of Ghana as a whole and he worked hard to put the image of Ghana on the world map. Mr Speaker, on this day that we pay tribute in honour of his memory, I would want to say that our condolences go to his family; immediate and extended. We wish that the good Lord would grant him space in His bosom. Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to associate with the Statement made by the Hon Minority Leader.
As it is our practice, shall we observe a minute of silence. May his soul and the souls of the faithful departed rest in perfect peace. Amen. Hon Members, at the commencement of Public Business -- Presentation and First Reading of Bills. The Legal Profession (Amendment) Bill, 2018. The learned Hon Attorney-General and Minister for Justice?
Mr Speaker, the Hon Attorney-General and Minister for Justice is currently in a Cabinet meeting so she has instructed her Deputy Minister, Hon Joseph Kpemka, to lay the Paper on her behalf. Mr Speaker, unfortunately, he has stepped out, but in his absence Hon Kwabena Owusu-Aduomi, the Hon Deputy Minister for Roads and Highways -- [Interruption.] Mr Speaker, the Hon Deputy Attorney- General and Deputy Minister for Justice has re-entered the Chamber and so he may lay the Paper on behalf of the Hon
Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, the Hon Deputy Attorney-General and Deputy Minister for Justice is one of us and so there is no objection. We understand that today is Thursday and the President with his Cabinet are looking at affairs of the State. So, he could stand in the stead of the Hon Attorney-General and Minister for Justice to lay the Legal Profession (Amendment) Bill, 2018. Mr Speaker, thank you.
BILLS -- FIRST READING
Item listed 7on the Order Paper -- Motion.
Mr Speaker, items listed 7, 8, 9 and 10 might be stood down, then we take item listed 11 on the Order Paper.
BILLS -- CONSIDERATION STAGE
Hon Chairman of the Committee?
Mr Speaker, if we may continue from clause 35. Mr Speaker, yesterday, we did some winnowing on clause 28, but we would rather take it later because we are not done with the winnowing. So, we could continue from clause 35.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 35, Redraft as follows: “35. The Minister may, on the recommendation of the Board, by legislative instrument, make Regulations to (a)prescribe the maximum number of suppliers that may be licensed by the Authority; (b)provide for procedures for the supply, installation, activation, repair or replacement and filing a report in relation to the procedures; (c)prescribe the obligations of a communication service provider; (d)amend the Schedules except the Sixth Schedule; and (e)provide for any other matter for the effective and efficient implementation of this Act.” Question put and amendment agreed to.
Any further amendment under the clause?
Mr Speaker, the Hon Attorney-General and Minister for Justice drew my attention to a provision in the clause. And with your leave, could we reconsider clause 35?
You may do so.
Mr Speaker, clause 35 reads: “The Minister may, on the recommendation of the Board, by legislative instrument, make Regulations …” Mr Speaker, to be consistent with the earlier ones we did yesterday, where we said the “The Minister may, in consultation with the Board”, we would want to effect this amendment here for consistency.
“The Minister, in consultation with the Board may, by legislative instrument, make Regulations …” So, we effect this amendment in the opening sentence, and that would be it. Question put and amendment agreed to.
Hon Chairman, any further amendment in clause 35?
Mr Speaker, that would be all on clause 35. Clause 35 as amended ordered to stand part of the Bill. Clause 36 -- Interpretation
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 36, interpretation of “communication service provider” delete and insert the following: “communication service provider' means a person licensed or authorised to provide communication services by the National Communications Authority under section 3 of the Electronic Communications Act, 2008 (Act 775);”
Yes, Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I support the amendment, but just for you to further direct after putting the Question -- you have yourself been Minister for Com- munications. I trust that they have done right. Communication is no longer about data, therefore they cannot refer to providing data communication. Communication operates at three levels; we have voice and data. When one does hello hello, that is voice communication and data is internet, et cetera. But we should go for the definition of “communications service provider” as recognised by the National Communications Authority. I believe that is what he has done. So, we can support the amendment.
Mr Speaker, if the Hon Minority Leader could come again? What is the further directive that --
To generalise the appellation?
Mr Speaker, under normal circumstances, having moved the Motion, he should have apprised the House what section 3 of the Electronic Communications Act, 2008 (Act 775) says, then he justifies before us why he would want to replace that with this. Many of us do not have the benefit of the doubt. Mr Speaker, you have been a Minister for Communications before, the National Communications Authority licenses communications service providers. Internet service providers are not the same as the giant mobile telephony companies, yet the mobile telephony companies also provide some of those services. Beyond that, we now have licence for 3G and 4G to do wireless internet connection. I said he should let the definition be all encompassing. Mr Speaker, I support his amendment, but next time, when he says we should substitute it with what is in section 3 of the Electronic Communications Act, he should share what is in section 3 of the Act with us.
Mr Speaker, respectfully, I would refer the Hon Minority Leader to Standing Order 67 (1) (h): “A Question shall not be asked the answer to which is readily available in official publications.” Mr Speaker, Electronic Communications Act 2008 (Act 775) is a legislation which is available and he has suggested to me that I have to go and take the Electronic Communications Act 2008 (Act 775) and refer the House to section 3 and quote it there. So next time, when I refer to the Ghana Revenue Authority Act, I should bring it here; I refer to the Value Added Tax Act, I should also bring it. Mr Speaker, these are existing; all of them are available. So, I cannot be quoting all of them. That is why the reference is made; refer to section 3 of Act 775.
Hon Minority Leader, do you agree with him that there is no need for endless repetition?
Mr Speaker, his words are apt, and we agree with the new insertion. Under our rules, he just cannot move an amendment that “delete what is in page 16 and substitute it with this. He must justify it. So, what is his justification? He would want to carry us along. He should proceed.
Mr Speaker, first, we are defining “communication service provider” because it has been used in the Bill. Now, the definition originally in the Bill, having been Minister for Communication before, if he looks at the definition in the Bill, it is at variance with what is in the Electronic Communications Act, (Act 775). So those sponsoring the Bill have done their homework and have said that we substitute the definition for “communication service provider” as stated on the Order Paper for what is originally in the Bill and he agrees with that. So, Mr Speaker, if you could put the Question on this interpretation, we can make progress.
Hon Member, you could make your contribution.
Mr Speaker, I am in support of the proposed amendment, except that I have a further amendment to that. And that is, “communication service provider” means a person or an entity.
“a person or an entity licensed or authorised to provide communication services by the National Communications Authority under section 3 of the Electronic Communications Act, 2008 (Act 775)”. Humbly submitted, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, I do not know why he wants to insert “entity”. Mind you, we are referencing a law, which exists and “person” used here, I think would include entities. So, could Hon Dafeamekpor abandon the further amendment so that we make progress? [Interruption] -- It is implied.
Mr Speaker, I believe you could put the question and consequentially direct the draftspersons that they be guided by the provisions in the National Communications Act and the Electronic Communications Act in respect of the definition of the “communication service provider”. Question put and amendment agreed to.
The draftspersons, if there is any difficulty, we render this accordingly. Is there any further amendments under the clause?
Mr Speaker, clause 36 is the interpretation section so there are a number of amendments there that we have to take. So all of it would be clause 36 but these are definitions that we would move. So could I continue?
Do you want to bring them one by one?
Rightly so, Mr Speaker.
Please, go on.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 36, add the following new interpretation: “electronic communications service' includes the provision of an electronic communications service, a closed user group service, a private service, a radio communication service and a value added service;”
Mr Speaker, precisely what I cautioned, that your consequential directive would be helpful. Now, what is electronic communication service? A communication service provider provides an electronic communication service pursuant to the Electronic Communications Act. The NCA is the regulator but there is a law which regulates the business of electronic communications. So your consequential directive would cure any of these defects but we could proceed further, guided that we should not use redundant terminologies in order to make the Bill or Act elegant.
Mr Speaker, humbly, there is an omission of “of” between “provision” and “and”. So if the draftspersons could be directed to take care of it. Question put and amendment agreed to.
Any further amendment to the clause?
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 36, interpretation of “Fiscal Electronic Device”, delete and insert the following: ‘“Fiscal Electronic Device' means a machine approved by the Authority and designed by an approved manufacturer for use in business for efficient management control and includes an Electronic Printer and an Electronic Signature Device;”
Does that add clarity?
Mr Speaker, just for guidance: Ghana is still lagging behind. I know that the Hon Deputy Minister for Finance is here. So, he has to work with his colleague, the Hon Minister for Communication. We have not reached electronic signature yet. We have to be there. Egypt in the last decade has electronic signature systems. We need to work at it but when we define it as “‘Fiscal Electronic Device' means a machine approved by the Authority …” Which authority? For our purpose here, the earlier authority referred to the National Communications Authority. For this purpose, we refer to the GRA, I should think so or we want to have a relationship between the two of them in order to divide the fiscal device. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, respectfully, the Hon Minority Leader could point us to where we have used “authority” to reference the National Communications Authority. Wherever “authority” is used, it refers to the Ghana Revenue Authority. Question put and amendment agreed to.
Mr Speaker, the definitions come in alphabetical order. So, I beg to move, clause 36, interpretation of “good corporate citizenship”, delete and insert the following: ‘“location' means, in the case of a taxable person who provides services, the point of payment for the services rendered or to be rendered;” Mr Speaker, so, it only goes in that space, where we would have had good corporate citizenship.
Mr Speaker, with your leave, interpretation of “‘good corporate citizenship' delete and insert the following:'” If they are defining “location”, they should define it. They cannot use the definition of “location” to define “good corporate citizenship”. So they should leave it there and proceed and add a new subclause to define location. The two cannot mean the same.
It is essentially a matter of style.
Mr Speaker, it is a matter of style.
Yes, therefore you agree. I would put the Question in light of the further amendment to what was originally proposed. Question put and amendment agreed to.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 36, Add the following new interpretation: “report' means a written account containing the requisite information and submitted to the person or authority to whom it is to be submitted;”
Mr Speaker, it is good, but for this purpose, would it not include an electronic account when you say a written account? What if the account is electronic? The data is electronic, so the definition must be all encompassing. I suggest to the Hon Chairman, when you just say written account, in Ghana they may think written on paper, but for this purpose you are introducing a use of fiscal electronic device, so your definition must include an account of a report which can be electronic.
Mr Speaker, I agree with the point he is making. I think we could achieve that by either -- [Interruption] -- So, Mr Speaker, I invite him to propose an amendment.
So, can you read what that insertion would mean?
Mr Speaker, I believe the Hon Deputy Minister invited the Hon Minority Leader to propose a further amendment so that we consider his further amendment to the definition of the report.
Mr Speaker, the further proposed amendment would go like this; “a report means a written or an electronic account containing the requisite information and submitted to a person or authority to whom it is to be submitted”.
Mr Speaker, I am just worried because when a report is generated and not submitted to the person who is to receive it, it is not a report. Is that the sense we want to capture? And if such a report is taken out of the organisation, is it a report or it is not a report?
Mr Speaker, for the purposes of this law, we are looking at a report made to the tax authority for the purposes of enforcement of this law, but elsewhere a report could mean anything.
Mr Speaker, the mischief this rendition can cause is that you can generate a report with every sensitive information in it, it is not submitted to the person yet, and then somebody leaks it out. It would go to court, they would say it is not a report, because that is not the definition of a report, meanwhile, you would have lost so much data and information. So if something could be done about this rendition?
Hon Member for Wa Central, if we further amended it to read; “ report means a written or electronic account containing the requisite information that is required by the person or authority to whom it is…” would that sit well with you? So I invite you to couch something.
Mr Speaker, yes. A report so generated required to be submitted, and that would kill the mischief.
Mr Speaker, may I move the amendment again? I am trying to give the new rendition --
In the light of this new development? Please do so.
Alright Mr Speaker, the proposed amendment is “report means a written or an electronic account containing the requisite information that is required to be submitted to the authority.”
Thank you. I can see by the nodding of heads that the Question can be safely put. Question put and amendment agreed to. Furthermore, on clause 36, Hon Chairman?
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 36 -- Interpretation of “Subscriber Identity Module card” delete
Mr Speaker, I rise to oppose the amendment and probably persuade the Hon Chairman to abandon the amendment. Mr Speaker, I recall in my days when I had to travel to Guadalajara, Mexico with you in pursuit of what we are achieving today. Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) registration is an -- Mr Speaker, yes. He was former Minister for Communication -- Anyway, he supported me for Ghana to remain in the Council. Mr Speaker, SIM registration is a crime combat instrument because we have not done it well, but we need it. Today you are sitting with the Deputy Minister for the Interior. Anonymous crime is on the low in Ghana because -- where persons committed crime anonymously -- Mr Speaker, so, SIM registration was introduced. I recall some years in consultation with the telecom service providers together with the Telecom Chamber. We need to go through it because tomorrow, for the purpose of fighting crime, if the Hon Minister for the Interior, receives a text message of a threat, even as an insult, we should be able to trace who that person is. We can only do so with the SIM registration module, including tax crime. Who says I cannot commit tax crime using my mobile device? So, Mr Speaker, he should abandon and leave it as part of the definition. I recall again, Mr Speaker, I was then Minister for Communications. I introduced it and run into problems when the regulator was supposed to give a cut-off date but when the date came, all of you had to travel abroad. How many of you upon arriving in a foreign country are not asked to bring your passport before you can get a SIM card? But in Ghana, we just allow people to walk the street, acquire numbers, use them, abuse them and walk away. That is not acceptable. That is the essence of the SIM registration module, so leave it in the definition. Tomorrow, it may serve our purpose. Mr Speaker, just to encourage the Hon Chairman, when we were discussing even written account, the country must move towards a paperless regime. At that time everything is electronic. So, Mr Speaker, I am opposed to it. I believe we should leave it in the definition. It is defined. I believe we even came to Parliament for a SIM Registration Regulation. We do have some guiding our country. It was during the implementation that the National Communication Authority (NCA) lost track as a regulator, but the principle to use SIM remains very important, particularly in combating crime and for purposes of even tax evaluation. Thank you.
Mr Speaker, once again, I do not know if the Hon Minority Leader has really read the Bill in full. We are not saying that SIM cards should not be registered. That is not what we are doing here. There is in the Bill, a definition for “Subscriber Identity Module”. Yes, I can understand that yesterday he did not have the opportunity to speak, so today he wants to make ground on that. Question put and amendment agreed to.
Before I go on further with the Hon Chairman, there is a communication from the President.
Mr Speaker, I seek your leave to take us back to the definition of “report”. If the Hon Dafeamekpor would pay attention, I would refer to clause 13. Mr Speaker, with your permission, I would want to make some further amendment to the definition of “Report”. Clause 13 (1) says: and I quote with your permission: “Where the use of a Fiscal Electronic Device is truncated as a result of it being stolen or being disabled through any other means, the person to whom the Device is assigned shall make a report of that fact within two working days to (a) the Authority; and (b) the Police.” Now, put this side-by-side the definition of “report”. “Report” in the proposed amendment says: “‘report' means a written account containing the requisite information and submitted to the person or authority to whom it is to be submitted;” This referenced “the Police” and “the Authority” in clause 13. My attention was drawn to this in clause 13. We could stand this one down and make some further consultation on the definition.
I believe we shall make more progress if we should simply stand it down and then iron out issues.
Mr Speaker, the new rendition even takes care of his position. This is because the report could be a text message containing information that so and so are missing. It would constitute a report to the Police, and it has been catered for under the new rendition that we just adopted. It does not have to be a written report at the police station because one needs to act timeously.
We should take a cue from Mr Speaker --
Hon Chairman, do you want this stood down or not?
Rightly so, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, Clause 36 -- add the following new interpretation: “transaction' includes a taxable transaction under the Value Added Tax Act, 2013 (Act 870);”
Mr Speaker, I just would want to find out why “taxable transactions” is narrowed down to only those captured under Value Added Tax, 2013 (Act 870). Could we not just say “taxable transactions” because we all know the various laws that take care of our taxation? Does it mean that if it is not captured under Value Added Tax, 2013 (Act 870) and it is a tax transaction, it is not captured?
Especially, this is inclusive; it is not preclusive.Then it goes on further to appear to refer to only one particular Act.
Mr Speaker, in clause 2 of the Bill, on “Application”, it says:
SPACE FOR COMMUNICATION
“Persons to whom this Act applies 1. A taxable person under the Value Added Tax Act, 2013 (Act 870).” So, this whole law applies to taxable persons under the Value Added Tax Act, 2013 (Act 870). So, in essence, maybe, we should have defined “transaction” as -- Mr Speaker, I think there is nothing wrong with the definition. “transaction' includes a taxable transaction under the Value Added Tax Act, 2013 (Act 870).” It includes, but it does not necessarily mean that some other transactions that are done under VAT would be excluded. I believe this is fine.
Mr Speaker, in fact, I am guided by the Hon Chairman's rendition, but if he — upon reading the Schedule, which states that: “Persons to whom this Act applies 1. A taxable person under the Value Added Tax Act, 2013 (Act 870).” Then it means that the placement of “includes” means that it is unforeseen. It goes beyond the bounds that the law seeks to affect. So, I would propose that “includes” is taken off. It should read: “transaction' refers to a taxable transaction under the Value Added Tax Act, 2013 (Act 870)”. That is confined, and it is in consonance with the Schedule. 1. 45 p. m.
Mr Speaker, this way, other transactions that may come on board in future could be captured. Though this Act applies to transactions under the VAT Act, we would not limit it to that alone; because if VAT is to be imposed on some other transactions, then this would apply.
Mr Speaker, I am guided, save that I may propose that we amend the schedule. Otherwise, it would create an internal inconsistency. If the law is promulgated to take care of other future transactions, then the schedule cannot limit its application to a certain category of transactions. It must further be expanded to take care of these anticipated future transactions in addition to this.
Those anticipated future transactions, once they are supposed to come on board, then, there is a law that would say that, these categories of goods are now VAT taxable. So, anytime that the government imposes VAT on these goods, then it kicks in automatically. So, we need not necessarily amend the first schedule. This is because then, we would have brought a legislation that now imposes VAT on these, which would reference Act 870.
Mr Speaker, I wanted a clarification on clause 36, which is the subject matter under consideration, vis-à-vis the first schedule. Clause 36 talks about transactions including a taxable transaction, but the first schedule talks about a taxable person. Are we referring to the same thing? Are we saying that a taxable transaction is the same as a taxable person? If the Hon Chairman of the Committee could bring clarity.
Hon Chairman, could you assist him?
Mr Speaker, a transaction is a transaction, whereas the person too is completely different. So a taxable transaction and a taxable person cannot be the same. Now, the taxable person is defined in the first schedule, and we have listed there under the VAT Act, 2013 all those persons who would collect VAT, for whom there is a threshold and for whom this would apply. Now, “transaction” is used in the Bill, and that is what we seek to define here. We are saying that transaction includes— so, not all transactions would apply; only transactions that are captured under the VAT Act in the first schedule. We are using “includes” so that in future, in clause 2 of the Bill, the Hon Minister may, on the recommendation of the Board by an L.I. amend the first schedule. This is to ensure that in future, if we want to extend it to cover other transactions, we could even amend the first schedule.
I think we have had enough. Question put and amendment agreed to.
Hon Chairman of the Committee, anything further?
Mr Speaker, as I said earlier, we are still on clause 36. The last one would be —
That is the last one under clause 36. Please, proceed.
Apart from what we have stood down?
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, Clause 36 -- interpretation of “web portal”, line 1, before “website” delete “the” and insert “an internet”
“an internet website of the authority specially designed for use by a taxable person to view transactions of the taxable person and to generate various reports.” Question put and amendment agreed to. Clause 37 ordered to stand part of the Bill. Clause 38 --Transitional Provisions.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 38, add the following new subclause: “(5) Despite subsection (4), a taxable person authorised to operate a retail or other scheme shall continue to operate that retail or other scheme
Mr Speaker, before you called me, the Hon Member for Wa Central was on his feet, I do not know if he has anything—
Hon Member, sorry.
Mr Speaker, the amendment listed as item II (xi), on the Order Paper, clause 38, I have the feeling that there is so much discretion left in the hands of the Commissioner-General. The reason being that there should be a sunset indication stipulaing that when somebody continues to operate a retail scheme, the law should limit him. It should not be at the discretion of the Commissioner- General, it would mean that on and on, cooperate and the law would never be applied unless the Commissioner-General decides.
Hon Chairman, justify yourself?
Mr Speaker, Hon Member for Wa Central would note that the amendment in clause 38 references a subsection (2) of section 39, which we are yet to move. Now, if we advert our minds to that one, in clause 39, which I am yet to move, we are saying that the Commissioner-General may apply the provisions of this Act in phases to taxable persons. We should be mindful that the Ghana Revenue Authority would give out fiscal electronic devices. They would procure these. We have had occasions when Parliament had passed laws and there was delay, as we have seen in the Excise Stamp Duty brouhaha that is ongoing. So, we are saying that following the passage of this law, the Commissioner- General reserves the right to apply the provisions of this Act in phases. Now this category of, let us say, large tax payers, we are ruling it out; medium tax payers, small tax payers; that is the intendment here. This is to ensure that, this is rolled out in phases. That discretion is given to the Commissioner-General to roll it out in phases. For the GRA, they would want to rake in revenue, so they would do this as quickly as possible to bring everybody on board; but we would reserve this right to the Commissioner-General to roll this out in phases.
Mr Speaker, we should say “at phase two'', so that at that phase, it is no longer at the discretion of the Commissioner-General. When the phase comes automatically, they would be roped in, and that it does not look like it is only at his discretion. It is in phases, so when it is about the phase where he or she would be considered, it would be automatic. It is the law and no longer at the discretion of a person.
Hon Deputy Minister for Finance, you may explain further.
Mr Speaker, the rendition as is contained in the amendment is fine and proper. We should not stand on the premise that the Commissioner-General would be reluctant. We are not dealing with specific individuals where the worries about favouritism or a certain reluctance to apply to some specific persons would arise. When the Authority faces the roll out of this policy, for example, if one's turnover is beyond a certain point, then by a particular item, that person should use the device. What this seeks to say is that because schedule one is broad and would capture many people who at the very go may not enter the roll out yet, the law must make it lawful for those people to do business. We need not be specific about the phases. It is just to say that at whatever level we reach, those who have not been rolled in yet could still do lawful business. That is the point of this amendment, and that is why it refers to the intended subclause “2'' under clause 39.
Hon Chairman of the Committee, where are we now?
Mr Speaker, having already put the Question on clause 38, we would go to clause 39. Clause 39 -- Commencement .
Mr Speaker, I do not know why Hon Defeamekpor is on his feet whiles I move the amendment.
Hon Member, kindly let the Hon Chairman of the Committee finish.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, Clause 39 — add the following new subclause: “(2) The Commissioner-General may apply the provisions of the Act in phases to taxable persons.” Question put and amendment agreed to.
Hon Dafeamekpor, do you have anything? This is the Consideration Stage, and I could be flexible.
Mr Speaker, going through the various proposed amendments regarding the interpretation section, I discovered, for instance, that ‘‘a taxable person'' and ‘‘taxable transaction'' were used, and the explanation is that they do not mean the same thing. Mr Speaker, my proposition to the House is that we should propose different interpretations for these two terms of act because they are missing from the advertised amendment. The Hon Chairman could guide us in that regard.
Hon Chairman of the Committee, do you have any guidance?
Mr Speaker, we would refer this to the draftspersons to give us a definition for ‘'taxable transaction''.
We would conclude this with the assistance of the draftspersons.
Mr Speaker, if we could move on to the first schedule. First Schedule ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Hon Members, in view of the time and the Business ahead of us, I direct that Business proceeds beyond the regular hours even if it is for a minute. We would close soon after 2.00 p.m.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, second schedule -delete and insert the following: “SECOND SCHEDULE (Section 6 (3)) Contents of Fiscal Receipt A fiscal receipt shall A)have a header that specifies i) the name of the taxable person, ii) the business address, iii) email address, iv) telephone number, v) Tax Office, vi) taxpayer identification number, vii) taxpayer FED registration ID, viii) fiscal Device number (2-digit Manufacturer code, 2- digit Supplier code, serial No), and ix) the taxpayer identification number of the customer (if known); B) have a body that specifies i) fiscal receipt number (serial trans. no of the day followed by cumulative trans. no), ii) Daily Z report number, iii) For each item, (a) item description, (b) quantity, (c) price per unit, (d) amount, (e) Tax code applicable, (f) Tax amount (Value Added Tax and National Health Insurance Levy). iv) total amount in Cedis before tax, v) total amount of tax, vi) total amount payable in Cedis, vii) payment method, and viii) number of items sold; C) have a footer that specifies i) the date and time, ii) the Fiscal Electronic Journal Serial No, iii) Electronic Journal Activation Date, iv) the fiscal receipt notification v) the fiscal logo, (manufacturer Id), vi) QR-2017 code 57X57 (encrypted code from: TIN, Taxpayer Reg. ID, receipt number, last Z number. Code also has signature data TIN, Reg ID, Receipt No. Total Sales, Total Tax, Date, Time. Receipt Signature using SHAI made up from TIN, Reg ID, Receipt No, Total Sale, Total Tax, Date, Time Scan- able with Smart Phone.”
Mr Speaker, referring to the new proposed amendment under paragraph (B) (i), there is the ‘‘serial trans.'' followed by ‘‘trans. no''. Mr Speaker, if I am right, I am sure the Hon Chairman wants to put the ‘'serial transaction number'' and then ‘‘cumulative transaction number''.
Hon Chairman of the Committee, what is your view?
Mr Speaker, I would want to --
Incorporate a further amendment?
Yes, Mr Speaker.
i) ‘‘Fiscal receipt number (serial transaction number of the day followed by cumulative transaction number)''. Question put and amendment agreed to.
Mr Speaker, we have moved from ‘‘cedis'' to ‘‘Ghana cedis''; but in paragraph (B) (iv) and (vi), ‘‘Cedis'' has been quoted. We should be very specific. Are we talking about ‘‘Ghana cedis'' or “cedis'' of yesterday?
So, we should have it as “Ghana cedis”.
Mr Speaker, as a matter of fact, that is the problem. We have been using “Ghana cedis” all over. Where is this done, for instance, for us to say British Pounds, et cetera? It is cedis. From today, by this, we are hereby saying that we should stop saying “Ghana cedis”. [Interruption.]
Mr Speaker, the expression, “Ghana cedi” entered business lexicon post-redenomination because there was a six months transition within which time we used both the old cedis and the new Ghana cedis. If you would permit, there was the need to bring this distinction, so we brought “Ghana cedis”. The expectation is, as we get more used to the redenominated currency, that we would drop “Ghana cedis”. This is because by law, the legal tender in Ghana is still the cedi. The Ghana cedis was just for the purposes of distinguishing the redenominated currency from the old. So, what we are doing in this Bill is to remind ourselves that 2007 is a long way from now, and we should begin to move to what is really legal tender in Ghana, the cedi, and not the Ghana cedi. That is why we have done this.
So, today, if one wants to talk about our cedis, the person should just say “cedis”. If the person wants to make reference to what it was before, then the person may add as well as — for instance, at an outdooring or at the funerals — so many million old cedis. So, today, “cedi” means cedi, according to what the Hon Deputy Minister has said, though one can always make mention of old cedis, particularly to show how big a sum donated is.
Hon Pelpuo, we would not engage in that matter anymore.
Mr Speaker, we just want to know whether it is just at the spur of the moment or it is Government policy.
Every reference to “Cedi” today means cedi, and that is new Ghana Cedi —
Mr Speaker, it should be very clear that it is Government policy, they took that decision at Cabinet, and they are imposing it in this law, so that it becomes generally acceptable.
Hon Chairman of the Committee, let us make progress. Any more amendments?
Mr Speaker this is not a decision — [Interruption.] Mr Speaker, I thought he asked a question, and I just wanted to address it.
Hon Chairman, let us please proceed. What is the next amendment?
Mr Speaker, you have put the Question on a further amendment that we made with “transaction number” so you are yet to put the Question on the second schedule in its entirety. Mr Speaker, before that, I have a further amendment. Mr Speaker, I beg to move, paragraph (C) (vi), line 2, delete “ last Z number.” Mr Speaker, so if you could put the Question on this further amendment, and then the Question on the second schedule.
Let us finish with the further amendment. If there is any other amendment, we would then take it. Question put and amendment agreed to. Mr Dafeamekpor — rose—
Hon Member any further amendment?
Mr Speaker, yes. Actually, it is in respect of the deletion of the “last Z number.” It is, “last Z number code.” There is a code. The whole rendition does not end with the “number”. It is, “last Z number code.” So, we cannot leave the “code” hanging. Also, because of your earlier ruling regarding the use of the full name instead of abbreviations, my proposition is that all the abbreviated terminologies be consequentially amended to reflect —
Mr Speaker, respectfully, I would wish to apply that we stand down the second schedule.
Very well. Then let us move on to the third schedule. Third Schedule — Qualification to be licensed as Fiscal Electronic Device Supplier.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, Third Schedule -- Paragraphs (a) to (i), delete and insert the following: (a) is a corporate body, with at least 60 per cent Ghanaian ownership; (b) provides valid Tax Clearance Certificate; (c) provides evidence of agreement with all approved Manufacturers to supply their products; (d) has a service and maintenance network with requisite trained technicians to support the supplies; (e) has the ability to acquire adequate spare parts to support the operations of the Fiscal Electronic Device; (f) has key Technical Staff with experience in a related business of supplying similar electronic Devices; (g) has the financial capability to obtain from all the approved Fiscal Electronic Device manufacturers for supply, at least five thousand Fiscal Electronic Devices, spread equally among the Manufacturers; (h) can provide to the Authority samples of the Fiscal Electronic Devices to be supplied; and (i) signs an agreement to make available samples of the Fiscal Electronic Devices imported for supply, to the Technical Committee for purposes of comparing the imported Devices with the prototype Fiscal Electronic Device submitted by that supplier to the Authority under paragraph (h).” Question put and amendment agreed to. Third Schedule as amended ordered to stand part of the Bill. Fourth Schedule — Qualification as manufacturer of Fiscal Electronic Device.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, Fourth Schedule -- paragraph 1 (c), line 5, delete “or more”.
“The prequalification information includes; c) records that demonstrate that the manufacturer has the capacities to supply devices of the nature and to the effect required including reference letters from at least two institutions, preferably tax authorities, from at least two different countries to which the manufacture has supplied similar devices;” Question put and amendment agreed to.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, Fourth Schedule -- paragraph 1 (e), delete “record on”.
“country of registration of manufacturer.” Question put and amendment agreed to.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, Fourth Schedule -- paragraph
2 (b), delete “assurance” and insert “undertaking”.
“b) an undertaking that where the Authority fails to accept the goods, the manufacturer shall accept the goods and replace the goods or make the necessary alterations at no cost to the Authority;” Question put and amendment agreed to. Fourth Schedule as amended ordered to stand part of the Bill. Fifth Schedule — Composition of Fiscal Electronic Device Technical Committee.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, Fifth Schedule, item 3, delete and insert the following: “National Information Technology Agency”. Mr Speaker, in effect, we are taking off the “National Communications Authority” and inserting “National Information Technology Agency”. Question put and amendment agreed to.
Hon Chairman of the Committee, any further amendments?
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, Fifth Schedule, item 4, before “Standards” insert “Ghana”. Mr Speaker, so that item numbered 4 now reads “Ghana Standards Authority” as that is the right designation. Question put and amendment agreed to. The Fifth Schedule as amended ordered to stand part of the Bill. The Sixth Schedule ordered to stand part of the Bill. The Long Title
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, Long Titiel, line 1, before “use” insert “Obligatory”. We propose that amendment so that it would read “for the obligatory use”. Thank you.
Mr Speaker, the amendment is not harmful at all. I believe we can accept it.
Mr Speaker, the Long Title is not a law; it is defining how the law is going to be couched. So, why the use of “obligatory” now? It is just a description of what we expect in the law and everything “obligatory” is already defined in the law. So why do we have to capture it in the Long Title?
Mr Speaker, indeed, when the Bill came to the House, it did not carry the word “obligatory”. But the further amendments proposed that cleaned up the Bill makes it essential which “obligatory” appears in the Long Title to take care of the amendments that have taken place in the Bill which is yet to be passed. Mr Speaker, so, it is not sufficient to know that the Long Title only describes what is to be expected in the parent law or the sections to follow. Indeed, it is the Long Title that would tell you what is to be contained in the law. So, once you see obligatory, it then makes it mandatory. It is essential that we find place for the use of “obligatory” in this matter.
Mr Speaker, the justification the Hon Member is giving is that, because of the further amendments that have come up, there is now an obligation. So, he is suggesting that the Bill, as presented to the House did not impose any obligation. So, when Parliament passes a law, what then is it intended to do? Mr Speaker, I believe inserting “obligatory” in there adds little value. As the Hon Member for Wa Central said, the obligations are contained in the Bill. As for the Long Title, putting “obligatory” in front of “use”, for me, adds little value. We can leave it as it is because the law itself says “Use of Fiscal Electronic Device”. So, why did we not insert “obligatory” in the Short Title too? So, I am opposed to the amendment. Thank you.
Mr Speaker, I believe the Hon Chairman of the Committee is right. This law has sanctions and non-compliance with those propositions in the law would require sanctions. It is because there is an obligation to use the device which if not complied with would attract sanctions. So, this law has come already with obligations. Yes, if you look at the proposed amendment, it only adds words which clearly are not harmful. But are we giving the impression that some laws from this Parliament are not obligatory? Any law that we pass here imposes obligations on the people of this country and that is how we must see it.
Hon Members, we stood down a number of clauses and we would stand down the Long Title and finish that together with the others at our next Sitting. Thank you. Hon Members, it is well past 2.00 o'clock, but just in case Leadership would have anything to tell us other than moving that we adjourn, we would hear it.
Mr Speaker, I believe we have almost exhausted what we set ourselves to do today. So, we leave the rest in your hands as we have gone beyond 2.00 o'clock.
Hon Members, having come to the end of the Consideration Stage, the Mace may be straightened accordingly. [Pause.] Hon Members, I thank you very much, particularly for the numbers for considering business today.
The House was adjourned at 2.24 p.m. till Friday, 9th March, 2018 at 10.00 a.m.