VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS AND THE OFFICIAL REPORT
Hon Members, Correction of Votes and Proceedings and Official Report. Hon Members, we would take the Votes and Proceedings dated Wednesday, 14th February, 2018. the Official Reports of 26th and 27th January, 2018,
[No correction was made to the Votes and Proceedings of Wednesday, 14 th February, 2018.]
[No correction was made to the Official Report of Friday, 26th January, 2018.]
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, the Hon Member for Keta, Hon Quashigah has asked that I seek permission, and if granted, I should ask the Question on his behalf.
You may continue.
ORAL ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS
MINISTRY OF GENDER, CHILDREN
AND SOCIAL PROTECTION
Good morning, Mr Speaker and Hon Members of the House. I wish you happy Valentine. [Uproar.] Mr Speaker, the basic concept of the Ghana School Feeding Programme (GSFP) is to provide pupils in public primary schools in the deprived areas with one hot, nutritious meal on every school going day using locally grown foodstuffs. The steps the Ministry is taking to ensure that quality food is served by caterers in beneficiary schools under the Ghana School Feeding Programme include the following: The usage of the four-star diet plan, which constitutes the proteins, carbohydrates, fats and oils to meet the 30 per cent Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) to improve the health and nutritional status of pupils. In line with this objective, district- based menus have been designed, depending on the agroecology of the district. Caterers are also trained in the use of handy measures which have been designed in collaboration with development partners, including World Food Programme (WFP), Partnership for Child Development, UNICEF. The handy measures prescribe the correct amounts of ingredients caterers are required to use for each meal. Caterers are trained on how to use the handy Measure to ensure the nutritional values of the meals prepared. This training is to ensure that caterers cook with the right ingredients. Example of portion of rice served is; one and a half laddle for KG; two laddles for P1-P3; and three laddles for P4-P6. Indeed, Mr Speaker, I have brought samples and with your permission, I would like to show the sheet that we use for the handy measures. Also, we have a sample of the size of boiled plantain for the children and the size for the tuna fish that is used. [Hon Minister displays samples]. Also, we serve yam and this is the size that we use. Mr Speaker, other training programmes are organised periodically in the areas of health, sanitation and best cooking practices, among others. Another step being taken by the Ministry is the monitoring mechanism at all levels. This activity is carried out daily on a sample basis. Zonal coordinators monitor the quality of the food served in the schools from the preparatory stage to the serving stage. They are provided with a checklist that allows them to check on the usage of the four-star diet plan, the pre-script menu chart and handy measures for compliant of a balanced diet. Mr Speaker, indeed, I have copies of the samples of the menu chart of all the various schools that we serve under the GSFP. I also have a copy of the monitoring documents that we use for monitoring the GSFP here. Mr Speaker, also at the district level, head teachers are assigned the respon- sibility to complete a retirement form that allows them to gather daily data of meals served by the caterers. In addition, supervision is also provided by the School Implementation Committees and District Implementation Committees.
Mr Speaker, with your per- mission, in paragraph 5 on page 2 of the Hon Minister's prepared Answer, she said: “To ensure strict compliance, caterers are served with warning letters and in some cases caterers' contracts are abrogated.” Would the Hon Minister be kind enough to tell this House how many such caterers' appointments were terminated as a result of non-compliance?
Mr Speaker, when we took over in January 2017, at the end of July 2017, the contracts of the previous caterers ended and new ones were put in place for them to start in September.
Mr Speaker, I would like to ask the Hon Minister when the cocoa drink per school child would start.? When exactly should we expect this?
Mr Speaker, we are trying to put in place water to provide cocoa drink. There is the need for all the schools to have water. We do not want to start the programme when all the schools do not have water. We are working with the Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources to ensure that it would happen this year. And I would inform the House as soon as we put the necessary details in place. Daniel Nii Kwartei Titus-Glover: Mr Speaker, respectfully, I would want to find out from the Hon Minister when they are going to effect payments for the work the caterers have done? It is becoming a problem for Hon Members; such that these caterers come to our offices and homes — they can even accost us on the road and ask us to assist them with some funds to enable them continue with the buying of the ingredients and to continue serving the children. I would want to find out from the Hon Minister when they are going to effect payment for the first and second terms — I would want to know the status of the payment.
Mr Speaker, in terms of the payment, the contract with the caterers is for school feeding to be pre-financed. This is because the amount comes from the Ministry of Finance and so, until those amounts are released to the Ministry, we cannot pay. Indeed, previously, it sometimes took a year, six or three months before caterers were paid. School feeding programme is pre- financed but we have been able to negotiate with the Ministry of Finance to the decouple School Feeding Programme from the Common Fund, and so now, it is with the Ministry of Finance and we can request for the moneys as and when — For September last year, that is the first quarter of the first term to December, they would be paid before the end of February. We have finalised all the necessary programmes that we have to do with the Ministry of Finance and the warrant has been released to us. So, we are going to ensure that all payments are effected before the end of February. Mr Speaker, we apologise for the delay, but we would want Hon Members of Parliament (MPs) to convey the message to caterers that the School Feeding Programme is pre-financed.
Mr Speaker, thank you very much. I have just two follow- ups; one is for the Hon Minister — This is the first time I am seeing plantain which is rectangular. Plantain from Nsuta, as we buy it — there is no rectangular plantain. That is just an observation. But my question is, the caterers borrow money to cook and their headache is delayed payment. This is because when there are delays in payments, as it is, their income is chiselled and the profit is never realised. Mr Speaker, what urgent steps would the Hon Minister take to ensure that they are paid early?
Mr Speaker, in response to the shape of the rectangular piece, it is just a demonstration of the weight of the food that we s erve. Everybody knows this is wood, and that plantain is not rectangular.
Mr Speaker, my final question is, the Hon Minister has announced a laudable policy in the third paragraph of page 3 of her response, and I beg to quote her; “Mr Speaker, there is also a laudable initiative from the President to give every child a cocoa drink per school day to ensure they are well nourished and to help reduce stunted growth.” Mr Speaker, when will this commence? — [Interruption.] No, there are schools which are still not benefiting from this. When will all other schools, noting the nutritional differences of the school pupil, be implemented?
Mr Speaker, I believe the Hon Minority Leader was otherwise engaged when this very question was asked, and it has been answered by the Hon Minister. My problem is that he wants the same question, that has been asked and answered, to be asked again and the answer to be repeated.
The objection is upheld, and Hon Members, we would move to the next Question which stands in the name of the Hon Member for Pusiga. Measures to stop the migration of women and children from Upper East, Upper West and Northern Regions to the urban areas as head porters Q. 276. Ms Laadi Ayii Ayamba asked the Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection what measures the Ministry was putting in place to stop the migration of women and children from the Upper East, Upper West and Northern Regions to the urban areas to work as head porters (kayayei).
Mr Speaker, the kayayei phenomenon has been in existence since the early 90s due to the pull and push factors that include extreme poverty, poor parenting, and other harmful socio- cultural practices such as early child marriage, forced marriages, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), trafficking, elopement, peer pressure and the desire to seek greener pastures. This unfortunate phenomenon is largely prevalent among women and children in the Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions to become head porters, track pushers and beggers. Some of these kayayei also engage in menial jobs and serve as shop assistants and petty traders. Others also come and engage in kayayei to find money to pay their school fees and or organise their marriage (popularly known as “amaria”). Mr Speaker, this kayeyei phenomenon is not only unfortunate but a tragedy and an abuse of the human rights and dignity of our women and girls. As a matter of urgency, the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection has over the years developed various programmes and interventions to reduce and eradicate the migration of rural women and girls to the urban centres. Indeed, these women and girls face several disturbing challenges. These challenges include rape, unwanted pregnancies, the risk of sexually transmitted diseases, various ailments, drug abuse, crime, trafficiking, prostitution and sometimes death. Mr Speaker, in the NPP manifesto, under the women's empowerment and children's rights, we said we would reduce the kayayei phenomenon by improving the economy of their districts of origin to curb the migration. We want also to provide alternate life skills training and seed capital, as well as partnering the private sector, NGOs and charities to provide temporary hostel facilities for kayeyei. Mr Speaker, to this end, the Ministry, in collaboration with the Youth Employment, Agency offered skills training to 400 kayeyeis in 2016. This year, the Ministry plans to train an additional 1000 and more kayeyeis to provide them with decent jobs. Again, the Ministry plans to collaborate with other public and private partners such as the National Board for Small Scale Industries, the Ghana Investment Fund for Communication and the National Youth Authority. Mr Speaker, the new LEAP cash transfer will ensure that girls and women are kept in the three northern regions by including them in training and providing them with start-ups, tools and mentorship. The Ministry further plans to link women in these regions to the Government's initiatives such as the One Village, One Dam and One District, one Factory, to make them economically independent in their districts of origin. Mr Speaker, the Ministry has initiated a programme dubbed “OPERATION GET
OFF THE STREET NOW FOR A BETTER
Mr Speaker, in paragraph four of the Hon Minister's Answer, she mentions the issue of shelters and training to be given to kayayei. I would appreciate, if the Hon Minister would tell us where the training would take place, where the shelters would be and when the training would start? This is because the issue of the training is captured under 2018 and there is no specific date, but the year.
Mr Speaker, we have various shelters in the country. I promised that I would bring them on my next visit. So, here they are; we have shelters in the Western Region called STMA. Shelter -- it is actually in Takoradi and it is for boys and girls who are destitutes. We have the Andreas Manner, which is also in the Takoradi area. We also have the Essipong Remand Home in the Western Region. National Shelter, Jomolus Shelter -- the Obatanpa Mental Home for mentally ill patients is in Apremdo. We have Madamfo Children's Home in the Volta Region which shelters about 20 children. A shelter by Challenging Heights and Friends of Human Development is in Sunyani, the Brong Ahafo Region for trafficked children. Mr Speaker, we also have Don Bosco Home for street children which is also in the Brong Ahafo Region. We also have Central Destitute Infirmary in Bekwai and we have a DSW Remand Home at
Mr Speaker, I listened keenly to the Hon Minister's response because most of these women and children who are affected come from the three regions in the north: the Upper East, Upper West and Northern Regions. But in her responses, I realised that there is only one such place that could be converted or used because she was mentioning homes instead of shelters. Most probably, those homes have areas that could be used; I cannot tell. Would we transport them, especially all those who are in Accra and other urban areas, to those places she has mentioned for the training? If we do so, how would they get acclimatised, with the fact that they need to be in their own home regions and districts so that they do not return to the urban areas where they could not find life easy? I thank you, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, those shelters are not training centres. The shelters mentioned are for persons on the streets who need places to stay because, as I said, “Operation Get off the Streets” includes the kayayei and we need to move them into places. Some of them have homes and so we would organise reintegration of families for such people. But as I mentioned, trainees in the Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions would not need to come to the cities. Their training would be organised in their districts because we do not want them to come back to the cities. We want to minimise and eradicate the kayayei phenomenon. Mr Speaker, we cannot continue to encourage kayayei. So, the shelters are largely in the cities and that is where there is a higher prevalence of persons who engage in, kayayei. They need places to live in so, as we discover them -- A place like Cherubs in the Ashanti Region, they take in one to nine year olds. So, children who do not have families would be put into those homes. But for the children who have families, we would try to locate their families and encourage them. Indeed, the list of pictures that I showed you is of children who are interested in going back home. As I said the last time, we are in the process of mapping and developing a database of all persons on the streets. We have indeed had several engagements and the actual mapping would commence this very Monday, 19th of February, 2018. As we progress, we would be able to give you more information.
Hon Zanetor Agyeman- Rawlings? -- [Laughter.] Hon Zanetor Agyeman-Rawlings? [Interruptions.]
Mr Speaker, in the Hon Minister's response, she mentioned that more trainees of the YEA programme would be employed. When she attended the graduation of the previous kayayei who passed through their training last year, she promised them jobs. How many out of the 400 trainees have been given jobs since that graduation?
Mr Speaker, we have only been able to get two into jobs -- [Interruptions.] Yes, this is because a lot of people are not interested in engaging the kayayei. Even the engagement of the two was initiated by the Ministry. We have written letters to various organisations and as and when they would be able to engage, we would send them. Some of them have also gone for interviews and have not made it. Getting a job is not about one wanting to have it, but going through an interview process. So, the initiative of getting them into jobs is a laudable one and I would pray the House, that when you have catering programmes or need secretarial services, you can come to us to get some of these girls engaged.
That would be the last question. Question time is running out and we have to conclude.
Mr Speaker, the phenomenon of kayayei is largely due to the economic gap between the north and the south. I believe that until we have a law that makes it -- [Interruptions.]. Please, it is a foundation.
Hon Members, order! A question can be prefixed. It is legitimate to prefix a question. Hon Member, continue.
With all the efforts from the Ministry, the phenomenon would be there for a long time until there is a law that makes it unlawful to pitch or picket at the Ministries by kayayei. I would want to know from the Hon Minister whether the Ministry would contemplate to have a law that would make it unlawful at a point to picket or pitch at the Ministry.
Mr Speaker, indeed, we have plans to come up with a national framework to end the kayayei phenomena and to have an Act to stop it. We did the same with human trafficking as well as child marriages. So, it is part of our work plan this year to come up with the national framework policy to eradicate the kayayei phenomenon.
Question numbered 278? Affirmative Action Bill Q.278. Mr Mumuni Alhassan asked the Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection when the Affirmative Action Bill would be laid in Parliament.
Hon Minister, you may have the Question repeated if you did not get it. [Interruptions.] Please, proceed.
Mr Speaker, I am bewildered because there was another Question on the elderly. So, I thought that would come up --
Do not worry. Answer the Question you have been asked.
All right, thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, the Affirmative Action Bill (AAB) is long overdue, especially as over 50 per cent of Ghanas population is women and the other half is born by women.
Hon Minister, tell us when it will be laid. Then that would cut a long story short.
Mr Speaker, it is currently at the Cabinet Secretariat for discussion prior to Cabinet approval and subsequent submission to Parliament before you rise.
Before we rise?
Mr Speaker, yes.
By way of the Question, this is all we need.
Mr Speaker, thank you.
Yes, for that matter, we will continue with Question numbered 277.
Mr Speaker, no follow-up?
Hon Member for Pusiga, ask your Question.
Mr Speaker --
We have limited follow- ups because we have seven minutes to conclude Question time.
Mr Speaker, my Question has been responded to the last time the Hon Minister came to this House, because it is on the issue of homes for the elderly. During the response of the Hon Minister at that time, she mentioned that we do not actually have homes for the elderly in Ghana.
Hon Member, ask your Question as on the Order Paper.
Mr Speaker, I am not asking the Question because she has responded to it early on.
Are you satisfied?
Mr Speaker, yes, please.
Thank you very much. There being no Statements admitted, we move to item numbered 5 -- At the Commencement of Public Business, Papers to be laid. Hon Minister, you are discharged. Hon Deputy Majority Leader, can we make the presentation of Papers?
Mr Speaker, rightly so. The Hon Chairman of the Finance Committee will do so. All the three Papers are ready for presentation.
Item numbered 6. We will continue with the debate on the State of the Nation Address.
Mr Speaker, res- pectfully, I want to seek your leave, under Standing Order 53, to vary the Order for Business. If we could take item numbered 9 which is a Motion -- Special Petroleum Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2018. The Hon Deputy Minister for Finance is here to --
Item numbered 9. Hon Minority Chief Whip.
Mr Speaker, yes, we agreed that this could be taken today but that has just been laid for distribution and I thought that we could take one item and come back to do it. But to just lay and follow immediately to take it -- I hope that we can take one other item then we can come back to it. At least, this would give Hon Members time to read it. This is because we just laid it and it is not proper that as we have just laid it, we move on to the Business to consider it. Even I am told that the distribution is not complete.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Chairman of the Finance Committee has just indicated to me that this referral was determined under a certificate of urgency and so, for that matter, there is some urgency attached to this Bill. So, I will just crave the indulgence of our Leadership on the Minority side for us to take this very Motion. The Report is already in circulation and I see him holding one. So, we can take it briefly and then return to the debate on the Message on the State of the Nation, which he knows very well that usually, travels into hours. So, if we start with the debate and take a break and then come back to this Motion, even for the purpose of recording by the Table Office, will not be colourful. So, I want to indulge the Minority Leadership, for us to take item numbered 9 then when we step into the debate on the Message on the State of the Nation, it can be systematically presented by Hon Members who will be given the opportunity to debate. So, Hon (Alhaji) Muntaka, if you can let us take that Motion.
Mr Speaker, like I said early on, yes, we had that understanding and we would want to take it today and there is no doubt about that. Mr Speaker, with the greatest of respect to the Hon Deputy Majority Leader, it does not sit well -- if anybody takes our Hansard to see that something is laid, the moment it is laid -- as per Standing Order 75 which says that it has to be laid before distribution, then the moment we lay it, we move immediately to take it.
Mr Speaker, the Report that we are talking about by the Finance Committee, which I have indicated early on, was considered under a certificate of urgency. Mr Speaker, if it is a normal Motion that is being moved or normal referral that has been made to the Committee, then we can do this breaking in and out of the debate and taking it. But there is an urgency attached to the issue that is before us. The Committee has to report to the House and their Hon Ranking Members are in the known and as the Hon Minority Chief Whip said, it was also discussed and we have taken the decision at the Leadership level, that we will take this because of the urgency of the matter. Mr Speaker, so, he has a copy and it is one amendment to the Special Petroleum Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2018.
Hon Muntaka, what is the reasonable minimum time that you would consider for reading this small document so that we would proceed?
Mr Speaker, I believe that with a good 20 minutes Hon Members should be able to grasp --
How many pages are there?
Mr Speaker, there are six pages. So, I am saying that within 20 minutes, Hon Members could grasp it.
Hon Members, order! Hon Members, cooperation is important so that work would continue. How many minutes?
Mr Speaker, 20 minutes would be good.
Hon Members, we would continue with the debate and at any given time after 20 minutes, I would halt and we shall proceed with this Bill.
Mr Speaker, I agree that we would do it but I am just drawing your attention to the fact that it is a five page Report. The sixth page is just a signature and so to allocate 20 minutes for a five- page document -- Mr Speaker, I want the Hon Minority Chief Whip to probably work within 10 minutes because it is just a five-page Report.
Please, more minutes are ticking away. After 20 minutes we would come to this debate so that there would be a win-win situation. Hon Fifi Kwetey? Leadership, for the avoidance of doubt, I would want us to confirm the minutes that we have agreed, upon and I would adhere strictly to it.
Mr Speaker, Hon Fifi Kwetey is the Hon Ranking Member, and as we have agreed, he would take 12 minutes.
Hon Member, are you satisfied? Hon Fifi Kwetey, proceed.
Mr Speaker, thank you very much for the opportunity to contribute to the Motion that this Honourable House thanks His Excellency the President on his Message on the State of the Nation. Mr Speaker, let me begin by congratulating the President for the first year, and to admit that it is not possible for any President in the history of any country to spend first years without some achievements. So, congratulations to him for some of those achievements that have definitely been chalked. Mr Speaker, but it is important to stress that we need to start making a transition from merely re-capping what is called nominal achievements and to start discussing the real achievements. Mr Speaker, we are talking about a government that actually rode on the crest wave of populist promises made to the ordinary people of Ghana. Mr Speaker, promises to the effect that indicators, per se, do not really mean a lot, but what matters is the real conditions of the ordinary people. Mr Speaker, if that is it, then it means that we should not really be discussing so much on the State of the Nation as the President made, but much more the state of the suffering of our people. Mr Speaker, that should really be the crux of the conversation because this government came to power largely on the back of the fact that there was suffering all over this country; suffering in every nook and cranny of Ghana and no one was spared. Mr Speaker, for the government to come to office and literally come and do exactly what the previous government did, which has to do with speaking about indicators is simply not good. Mr Speaker, but before I go into that let me talk a bit about some of the indicators that the President sought to literally glorify himself and his government about, and create the impression as if these were indicators that have really not been seen in this country before. Mr Speaker, I heard the President eloquently congratulate his Vice President and the Economic Management Team, and created the impression as if the economy
that he had inherited was in so much distress, choked by debts and the macroeconomic fundamentals were in disarray. Mr Speaker, firstly, let us talk a little about the issue of debt. It is important that as a country, we make that necessary transition from looking at debt purely as a number. Mr Speaker, because anybody who mentions debt and forgets to understand that the necessary investment is what should actually be the crux of the discussion has lost the plot. If he laments about debts and at the same time boasts about growth but that growth came about because of the investment that had been made in the oil sector, cocoa sector, transportation sector, educational sector and health sector; but he completely gloats over that yet he complains about debt, while celebrating the growth which came about as a result of those loans that were obtained and turned into investments which have brought about the growth that he is boasting about, then it simply shows that he is being one sided. He is not being very truthful to the people of the country. So, it is important for us to make that transition. Mr Speaker, I could appreciate the beginning of this multi-party democracy in the year 1993, 1997, 2001 and 2005 -- if we missed some of this. Mr Speaker, but after having gone the journey that we have made, then it is important for us to start making a little transition away from this. Mr Speaker, the President also spoke about the revival of what he calls the industrial sector, and he copiously said that from a growth rate of negative 0.5 in 2016, the country is now seeing 17.7 per cent in 2017. Mr Speaker, what the President did not say was that, that growth in 2017 was largely attributable to firstly, oil and secondly, to the solution that was brought as far as the energy crises in Ghana was concerned. That solution was brought about by the predecessor government, so while trying to create the impression that the predecessor government left nothing but a mess, what the President should have done was to acknowledge the vital contribution by the previous Government in solving the energy crises and also making those necessary investments as far as the oil sector is concerned, which has brought about the growth that the President is so proud of. Mr Speaker, it is important that we start making these important transitions as a people. Mr Speaker, let me also go a little into some of the other numbers. The President actually spoke very happily about the fact that they reduced the fiscal deficit from 9.3 per cent to an estimated 5.6 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). He literally congratulated the Hon Minister for Finance for a brilliant job that has been done. Mr Speaker, the predecessor NDC Government in the year 2009 took over at the time when deficits in the previous year stood at 14.5 per cent of GDP which was historic and it is in all our Budget Statements that have been debated in this House in 2009 and 2010. Mr Speaker, that is historic. Now, if the previous Government met a deficit of 14.5 per cent and within a year brought down that deficit to 9.7 per cent which means that in net terms, the previous Government reduced it by 4.8 per cent-- Mr Speaker, they took it from 9.7 per cent and reduced it to 5.6 per cent, which in net terms stands at 3.7 per cent. Even though what they have done is commendable, it is actually far less than what the predecessor National Democratic Congress (NDC) Government did in the year 2009. This is because we took it from 14.5 per cent and brought it down to 9.7 per cent and that is far more than moving it from 9.7 per cent to 5.6 per cent, yet they make the pronunciation that the predecessor Government achieved little, while they have actually achieved much. Now, if you had achieved what we achieved in 2009, I am sure by now the whole of this country would have no peace, because you would boast and boast until Jesus arrives. It is important for us to hasten slowly. While we are in a hurry to boast about our achievements, let us be mindful that other people prior to us have actually attained far more than we have done. Mr Speaker, let us go a little more into some other statistics. The President spoke about the fact that inflation has actually seen a decline, which is true. Inflation at the time the NPP came into office in January, 2017 stood at about 15.4 per cent. At the close of the year it was brought down to about 11.8 per cent, which is a commendable effort, and every government must make an effort to rein in inflation, because inflation is not a friend to anyone, but what the boasts should have taken into account is this. A predecessor Government met inflation at 18 per cent. As a result of the difficulties that had been left behind by
By June 2010, we had brought inflation down from over 20 per cent down to a single digit, and yet this country did not come to an end because of boasts. Then you have a situation where you barely struggled to move 12 from 15.4 per cent to 11.8 per cent, and we are not going to have any end in talking about some economic wizards? We are talking of some - should I call it avatars of economy? Please, be gentle. Take your time. Anyone who understands this business knows that in the first year of every government, the real political pressures have not even started to tell yet. They have quite a lot of room to manoeuvre. They have a lot of goodwill; the people of Ghana are ready to give you a little space. The real difficulties are coming down the road. That is when we would be able to see how their capacity is. So this hurry to want to boast because of some first year achievement, it is important for us to be gentle about it. Now, Mr Speaker, while talking about this, it is also important to understand that achieving some of these macro-economic fundamentals, at the time where you are literally not doing the kind of heavy investment in infrastructure, as the previous government did, is really nothing to boast about. When you take office, and you literally paralyse effectively the District Assemblies Common Fund by taking a bit out of it, doing the same to virtually all the other statutory funds, making it difficult for those funds to do what they used to do, which has to do with the real investment which is the foundation on which this economy is going to be propelled. At the end of the day you pat yourself on the shoulder, that your numbers look good, you are like a parent who keeps a lot of money in his bank account, while refusing to honour the day-to-day responsibilities of that parent; taking care of the children's fees, the necessary things to be done at home. That is nothing much to boast about. make that investment, make the kind of investment that was being done by the NDC across various districts, the kind of development that was going on, and be able to achieve this fundamental - then we would be able to say yes, you really are doing something. So, again, I would say the boasts should be measured. They are in too much of a hurry to boast. They should take their time. The real measure is not so much the economic fundamentals, because if it is that alone, we have been able to achieve 14.4, almost 15 per cent growth in this country in the year 2011. What they have is almost half of that. We are not boasting, having achieved that unprecedented growth, so please, they should take their time. When they reach that level, we would listen to what they have done. Mr Speaker, it is important again to understand that the most important consideration, especially, for the people of Ghana is unemployment. This Government rode on the back of that difficulty, and promise, especially young people of this country, real jobs. I am not talking about some two by four jobs, some temporary jobs, I am talking about real jobs, concrete jobs, sustainable jobs. That is what this Government promised the people of Ghana, and for one year, nothing has been done. Virtually, little has been done in that domain, that is why even the President shied away from the issue of unemployment, shied away from the issue of jobs as far as this Address is concerned. You can see that he barely touched it, because he knew deep down, that nothing has been achieved, and that is the most important thing. Now, talking about the real state of the nation, I would say that the real state of the nation --
And in conclusion, Hon Member.
And in conclusion, the real state of the nation has to do with the fact that vibrant companies in our country like SONITRA -- SONITRA at the beginning of 2017 had about 1,000 workers. At the end of 2017, it reduced from 1000 to 50. That is the real state of the economy. That is the real state of the hardship of the country, so it is important for us to be measured in our joy and take our time because the real difficulties have not yet been resolved at all. Thank you very much, Mr Speaker.
Item listed 9, Motion. Hon Minister for Finance? Hon Deputy Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, the indication I got was 20 minutes, and we have just exhausted 12 minutes, so there should be one other from our side and that would make up the time.
Hon Deputy Leader, who is moving the Motion?
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation.
Very well. Hon Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation?
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion. Question put and Motion agreed to. Resolved accordingly.
Item listed 10, Motion.
BILLS -- SECOND READING
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that the Special Petroleum Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2018 be now read a Second time. Mr Speaker, in so moving, I would like to say a few words about the object of the amendment. Mr Speaker, the government is seeking to move from ad valorem taxation to specific taxation. The reason is that when you have ad valorem taxation and prices go up, you get the consequent change in prices and vice versa. Mr Speaker, this is creating a lot of hardship for a lot of businesses and consumers. This matter has been discussed extensively in Cabinet, and government is moving to be a listening government. Mr Speaker, the change in policy is consistent with the objective of moving from more taxation to more production, so that there would be less introduction of new taxes. This has been the policy of government since it first read its Budget, and this is a continuation of it. Mr Speaker, the government is not moving to abolish it completely, for obvious reasons, but we are aware that the movement from ad valorem taxation to specific would necessitate a slight reduction in revenue, which we intend to make up through measures of tax compliance. Mr Speaker, the Bill is being moved under a certificate of urgency, because even though the pricing window would come on Friday, once it is done, the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) and the marketers would be able to factor it in their pricing. Mr Speaker, with these few words, thank you.
Thank you very much. Question proposed
Mr Speaker, I associate myself with the Motion on the floor and in so doing, I would present the Committee's Report. Introduction The Special Petroleum Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2018 was presented to Parliament and read the First time on Wednesday 14th February, 2018. The Bill was subsequently referred to the Finance Committee for consideration and report, in accordance with articles 103 and 106 of the 1992 Constitution and Order 169 of the Standing Orders of the House. A Deputy Minister for Finance, Hon Kwaku Kwarteng, and officials from the Ministry of Finance, the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) and the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) attended upon and assisted the Committee in its deliberations on the Bill. The Committee is grateful to the Hon. Deputy Minister and the officials from the Ministry of Finance, the GRA and the NPA for attending upon the Committee. References The 1992 Committee referred to the following documents among others during its deliberations on the Bill: a. The Constitution of the Republic of Ghana. b. The Standing Orders of the Parliament of Ghana (2000 Revised). c. Special Petroleum Tax Act, 2014 (Act 879) d. Ghana Revenue Authority Act, 2009 (Act 791) e. Revenue Administration Act, 2016 (Act 915) Pursuant to Order 119 of the Standing Orders of the House, the Committee determined, and hereby certifies that the Bill is of an urgent nature and should therefore be taken through all stages of passage in one day. The Committee came to this determination having considered that the rising cost of petroleum products, or indeed anything impacting businesses negatively is deserving of an urgent response. Background Government has pledged to remove some taxes to provide relief to Ghanaians and to shift the focus of tax policy from the introduction of new taxes to improving tax compliance as a basis for revenue generation. To this end, Government has introduced this Bill to reduce the tax burden imposed on taxpayers by an unintended surge in the exchange rate and price of petroleum products. Object of the Bill The object of the Bill is to amend the Special Petroleum Tax Act, 2014 (Act 879) and to provide for a change from an ad valorem rate to a specific tax rate on selected petroleum products. Contents of the Bill The Special Petroleum Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2018 contains two clauses. Clause 1 provides for the amendment of section 2 of Act 879 by providing the rate of tax on each of the selected petroleum products specified in the first column of the Schedule as the specific rate per litre or kilogramme, corresponding in the second column of that Schedule. Clause 2 amends Act 879 by the substitution of a new Schedule for the Schedule to the Act. Observations Fiscal Impact As to what the fiscal impact of the Bill would be if passed into law, the Committee was informed that it would result in an expected revenue loss to Government of GH¢47.9 million per annum, other things being equal. Relief to Consumers The Committee noted that the Bill is in tandem with Government's aim of shifting the focus of tax policy from the introduction of new taxes to improving tax compliance as a basis for revenue generation. It is also part of moves to shift focus from taxation to production in order to stimulate economic growth and development. Presentation of Bill after Budget Approval The Committee wanted to know why the Bill was not presented at the time of the consideration of the Budget and Economic Policy of Government for the 2018 Financial Year. To this, a Deputy Minister for Finance, Hon Kwaku Kwarteng, explained that the introduction of the Bill in Parliament has become “sudden” due to recent changes in the international prices of crude oil which developments were not anticipated at the time of the formulation of the 2018 Budget. Recent Street Protests As to whether the Government was reducing the taxes on petroleum products in response to pressure mounted on the government by a recent demonstration by some groups, the Deputy Minister for Finance stated that the Government was proud to be a listening Government, even though the Bill was borne out of conversations that were already on-going within Government. He said it was a well known policy of Government to move from taxation to production, in order to expand and develop the economy. Impact on Ex-Pump Prices Officials from the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) informed the Committee that effective 16th February, 2018, the prices of petrol and diesel are anticipated to go down by 1.39 per cent and 2.6 per cent respectively under the pricing mechanism that pertains now. With the expected passage of the Bill, ex-pump price of petrol would go down by 3.39 per cent while that of diesel would also go down by 4.14 per cent. In their estimation, upon the passage of the Bill into law, petrol price would reduce from the present GH¢ 4.67 per litre, to GH¢ 4.51 per litre, whilst diesel would sell at GH¢ 4.48 per litre instead of the current price of GH¢ 4.67 per litre. The Committee noted that if the Bill is not assented to before the next pricing window of the 16th February, 2018, then the full impact of the price reduction will
Thank you very much, Hon Members. The Committee of the House is of the view that this should be dealt with as a matter of urgency. It is for the consideration of the House. One from each side -- very brief.
Mr Speaker, it was decided unanimously that it is of an urgent nature. So, we would deal with that and move on to the Consideration Stage, where other comments would be made.
Yes, Hon Minority Chief Whip, you may contribute from that side of the House.
Mr Speaker, we wanted to plead with you. This is a very important Bill. The understanding we had at the background was that we would take two Hon Members from each side of the House before Leadership. So, if you do not mind, you could add one to each side before it comes to Leadership, we would be grateful. So that we would keep to the behind-the-scene agreement that we had. Thank you very much.
Yes, Hon Deputy Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, we have no objection. Just as the Hon Member indicated, we had an agreement on the contributions to be taken.
If you have so agreed, one from each side and then Leadership.
Mr Speaker, indeed, your Committee met to deliberate on it. The first thing we would want to put on record is that it cannot be the case that in preparing the Budget, the figures have changed. This is because from the Budget, the benchmark review for crude oil was US$57.04. Today, crude oil is US$57.08 and so, nothing dramatic has happened in terms of the benchmark revenue that necessitated this. Mr Speaker, quickly, if we look at the petroleum price build-up, petrol has a component of GH¢ 0.53 arising from the tax prior to its introduction. Today, the cost of petrol is GH¢ 4.67 per litre, out of which 53.47 per cent represents the Special Petroleum levy or tax. Mr Speaker, with the reduction, the Hon Minister proposed that it is being reduced from GH¢ 0.53 to GH¢ 0.46 and that translates into a reduction of GH¢ 0.074. 4.5 litres makes a gallon so, if that is multiplied by 4.5, it means that we would see a reduction of GH¢ 0.33 on a gallon of petrol. Mr Speaker, that is totally insignificant. What the Hon Chairman of the Committee talked about are projections, that assuming that by 16th February, 2018, those variables come into effect -- they have not closed the window yet. I raised that question at the Committee. Hon Dr Anthony Akoto Osei was there and they confirmed that they had not closed the window. If they were to close the window and the trend continuous to go down, then we would see a further reduction. But as it stands at GH¢ 4.67, if the reduction is applied by the GH¢ 0.07, there would be a peanut reduction of GH¢ 0.33 on a gallon. Mr Speaker, it is important to look at this figure. In the Minister's Report from the ESLA Report, Ghana's consumption in 2017 was three million tonnes. If we multiply that by 415 litres, which represents a metric tonne, then it means that from what we are getting, we are expecting GH¢ 2,664,300,000.00 from this levy alone. So, if they say that they are losing GH¢47 million, that translates to 1.7 per cent. That is the reduction. Mr Speaker, it is my contention that while it is good to reduce prices, this reduction does not give anything; it has no effect on the consumer. Mr Speaker, the price of fuel before we left office was GH¢3.06 per litre. But today, it is GH¢ 4.04 per litre, an increment of GH¢ 1.00 per litre. So, it means that every gallon of fuel bought today, the consumer pays extra GH¢ 4.00 and it is being reduced by GH¢ 0.33? Mr Speaker, I would propose that even as we agree to it, the Hon Minister should just fulfil the promise of scrapping what they describe as obnoxious and take away the entire levy, so that the consumer could benefit from it. Mr Speaker, either than that -- with the greatest of respect to the Hon Minister, it is totally insignificant and it would achieve virtually nothing.
Thank you very much.
Yes, Hon Member?
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to contribute to the Motion that is currently on the floor. Mr Speaker, I want to say that the cry of our people today -- Mr Speaker, just last week in the Bantama Constituency, I received a number of calls from my constituents, saying that if the President cannot do anything about the price of fuel, then he should at least keep it where it is. Mr Speaker, for anybody to suggest that a reduction in the price of fuel is insignificant, and therefore not enough, is not fair to the President or even to this House. This is because we are talking about a reduction of GH¢47.9 million, which is a lot of money. Mr Speaker, as Ghanaians, we all have expectations. A President has the mandate of the people to develop this country, and for that reason, the government would need to raise money to pay for everything that it would need to provide. As we all know, tax remains one of the major sources for raising money to embark on all the projects that the government would have to do. Mr Speaker, yes, we all agree that tax or taxation in itself, is a necessary evil. This is because nobody likes it, not businesses or even individuals, but we need these funds to develop the country, especially when we raise tax money and use the funds prudently. Not funds that would be used for projects that are inflated. I believe that when the President is able to raise funds from taxation, he is going to use it to the benefit of all. Mr Speaker, allow me to say that this is an ad valorem tax which has been changed to a specific tax. The difference is clear. Ad valorem tax is a tax in relation to the value. In other words, the change from ad valorem tax to specific tax, would take us to a situation where a change in the price of fuel, would not lead to an increase in the taxes of fuel so to say. The tax would be fixed or specific, and that is the change that we should all take note of. Mr Speaker, our friends in the National Democratic Congress (NDC), would talk and say all sorts of things, but they should look at what happened during the last eight years. What did we see? We saw a see-saw relationship between the price of global crude oil and what was happening locally. When the price of crude oil was going down in the global market, what did we see? Prices locally were going up. This is not what is happening under our watch. Mr Speaker, I would want to say that the President is a listening President. He has listened to the call of Ghanaians, and is reacting to their call. As insignificant as some people may consider it to be, I believe that this President is different. We do not have a “dead goat President”, but a President that listens. Mr Speaker, I would like to end by saying that if we would want to build a country beyond aid, then we must learn to fish for ourselves, but not allow anybody to fish for us. If we would want roads to be constructed, our hospital issues to be fixed and our schools to be fixed, then we must be ready to pay for these things. I would rather pay GH¢20 to get home early, than to stay in traffic for two hours. Mr Speaker, I believe that this measure would be appreciated by well-meaning Ghanaians, I should say. What we are doing today is in response to what the people actually brought us here to do, and so we would continue to listen to the voices of the people, and to the extent that we find it appropriate, we would take the necessary measures to take care of our people. Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity.
We would move on to Leadership.
Mr Speaker, I thought we agreed that --
Hon Member, I did make myself clear. I said one for Hon Members, and one for Leadership. Therefore, Leadership may concede.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I would like to say that it is really a very sad day for this country. This is because when this tax was imposed
Hon Members, we are moving on steadily. You all have five minutes each.
Mr Speaker, those who when this tax was imposed vehemently those opposed it and said that it was a nuisance tax, and so when they get the opportunity to come to power, they would scrap it, today, even when the prices of petroleum has gone up, are pretending not to see the windfall that they are getting, but are just coming to reduce it by 33 per cent. Mr Speaker, I would like to refer us to the New Patriotic Party's (NPP) Manifesto, page 12, where they said that teachers were suffering, teacher trainees were suffering, and said almost everybody in the country was suffering, including men, women and children. Mr Speaker, my understanding was that everything that this Administration would do in government, the above statement would have been their benchmark. I thought they would ask themselves how they would reduce the suffering of the people. Mr Speaker, if we look at the current price build up, almost 50 per cent are taxes. So, when we look at the 4.67, almost half of it are taxes. When even this year's Budget was going to be read, the benchmark price that the Ministry was anticipating for this year was US$57 per barrel. Mr Speaker, we have not even gone far, but it has crossed US$60 per barrel. This is seen under the administration of a listening government, who fought and deceived the people by saying that the people were suffering and so they were going to alleviate their suffering. This Administration should be mindful that while they are getting even above what they themselves projected, they should rather time down the relief to the ordinary people, so that they would be cushioned. Mr Speaker, as if this 33 pesewas would lead to --
Yes, Hon Deputy Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I rise under Standing Order 93 (2). Mr Speaker, with your permission, I read. “It shall be out of order to use offensive, abusive, insulting, blasphemous or unbecoming words …” Mr Speaker, we should, as Hon Members of Parliament, and in this case, Leadership, know the kind of language to use. When the Hon Minority Chief Whip was making his presentation he used the word “deceive”. [Interruption.] Mr Speaker, he is imputing improper motive. Mr Speaker, I believe the Hon Minority Chief Whip would do the honourable thing, withdraw that word, “deceive” and rephrase in a more decorous way. He can make his point without breaching the rules of this House. Mr Speaker, we can choose to use such language on radio or television but this is a House that is honourable, and that is why we have rules that govern our language. That word is unparliamentary and he should withdraw as such.
Hon Members, “deceit” necessarily imputes bad motives. It is a language that is prohibited. Let Hansard capture it for posterity. To deceive someone is necessarily ill-motivated. That is what the English language implies. Hon Member, you may withdraw that and proceed.
Mr Speaker, I would be happy to be guided. When someone says when I come, I will scrap --
Hon Minority Chief Whip, I have made a ruling.
You know the rules very well. Please withdraw and continue.
Mr Speaker, I am not disputing that.
Then please withdraw and continue.
All I am saying is that if someone says when I come I will scrap and the person comes to reduce, what word should I use to describe what the person -- But if Mr Speaker, “deceive” in this Chamber should not be used any more, I take your words.
Hon Member, one thing that I would insist in this Chair is the proper way of conducting Parliament as established. Please, if you withdraw, withdraw simply and continue.
Mr Speaker, I said I have withdrawn.
Hon Member, withdraw and continue.
Mr Speaker, I have withdrawn but it is good to know that in this House the use of the word “deceive” is insulting.
Hon Member, you will not interpret my words.
Mr Speaker, you said I should withdraw. I said I have withdrawn, but I am reminding the House, that henceforth, the use of the word “deceit” is insulting as ruled.
Hon Member, when you withdraw, what is done in Parliament is you do not need to apologise but you continue with your argument. You would not run a commentary on what the Speaker has ruled upon.
Mr Speaker, I have withdrawn. Mr Speaker, the drivers who buy fuel and the trotro fares have now gone up as a result of this promise and fail now know the character and behaviour of those who told them that when they get power, they will scrap these taxes. Mr Speaker, as said early on, it is interesting to note that this reduction will lead to only GH¢0.33 reduction per litre. Mr Speaker, the Committee Report itself said that it is going to go down by GH¢1.39 and GH¢2.66 respectively under the pricing mechanism that pertains now. [Interruption.] Do the calculation and see. But how much does it go? That is why I said it is GH¢0.33. It is in the Report. Mr Speaker, why was this tax imposed? In 2015, when this House approved a Budget Statement with a petroleum expected price per barrel to be US$60, the oil price on the international market collapsed and the price came down to US$30 per barrel. The then Government, because of the huge fall in expected revenue, decided to introduce this tax. In this Chamber, our Hon Colleagues, even when they knew the price had collapsed and there was a huge shortfall said that this was an insensitive Government and that when they got the opportunity, this would be scrapped. Mr Speaker, today, the international price of oil, as I said earlier, has gone past what even this House approved in the Budget Statement of estimated US$57. So, if they are really mindful of the suffering of the ordinary Ghanaian, would they not pass it on so that they would have a relief? They come with this reduction that in Akan, we would say, this one, it is as if you are just using a stone to hit the thigh of an elephant because the elephant is not going to feel it. Mr Speaker, I bet you, you will hear what the ordinary Ghanaian would say because this reduction is not going to impact in any way on the lives of the ordinary citizens. Mr Speaker, we must know that in politics, we say and do the things that when we are in opposition, and we say we would do something, let us keep to our word. It is the only way that we can keep the trust of the ordinary people. We should not do things that lead to mistrust because we promised them that we were going to do away with it this time. Now we know that there is an economy to protect.
Thank you very much, Hon Minority Chief Whip. Majority Leadership?
Mr Speaker, I yield to the Hon Deputy Minister for Finance. Deputy Minister for Finance (Mr Kwaku Agyeman Kwarteng)(MP): Mr Speaker, I would like to preface my contribution by giving a brief background to this Special Petroleum Tax.
Mr Speaker, it was in the 2015 Budget Statement that the NDC Government, led by President John Mahama, introduced this tax which took effect at the beginning of 2015. The tax rate was 17.5 per cent of the face value of fuel. It is a tax that never existed and the argument that was made for that tax at the time was that every consumption, except those specifically exempted, was subject some of kind of value addition taxation, and therefore, we would have to have one on petroleum. So, 17.5 per cent was slapped on fuel in spite of cries from the consuming public. Mr Speaker, in 2017, the NPP Government, led by Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, reduced this 17.5 per cent to 15 per cent. [Hear! Hear!] Mr Speaker, that reduction was consistent with Government's strategy to reduce the cost of doing business, and also the cost of living for consumers. It is extremely strange when the same people who supported and backed this now turn round to say we should scrap it. Mr Speaker, we must do honest and fair politics. Mr Speaker, the 17.5 per cent was not just harmful because it imposed a tax burden on businesses and consumers. It was harmful in the sense that any time crude oil prices went up, because it is a percentage, it also went up. So, while consumers suffered under high prices of fuel resulting from crude oil price increases, Government took advantage of that unfortunate situation to take more taxes from consumers. Mr Speaker, what we seek to do by this tax measure is to stop that. We are in government and we could be getting more taxation in that event, but we are saying that the people of this country are those who would build the economy and we would want them to have the relief. It is one of the intentions under this intervention. So, we are changing the tax from the percentage -- Mr Speaker, even that, we have still considered some reduction —
Kofi Buah — rose
Hon Member, do you stand on a point of order?
Mr Speaker, rightly so.
Mr Speaker, this is a House of records. The Hon Deputy Minister for Finance just threw up information that is completely incorrect. He just stated that it was the previous administration that has been implementing the ad valorem tax.
Mr Speaker, I would have wished that my Hon Colleague had gotten up to say they never introduced any ad valorem tax — [Laughter.] He said, they did it except that when we came, it is taking us time to remove it. We are removing the ad valorem element of this tax — [Hear! Hear!] The Mr Speaker, the reduction we have programmed into this intervention is, and I refer my Hon Colleagues to page 4 of the Report of the Committee, and I beg to read: “In their estimation, upon the passage of the Bill into law, petrol price would reduce from the present GH¢4.67 per litre to GH¢4.51 per litre whilst diesel would sell at GH¢4.48 per litre instead of the current price of GH¢4.67 per litre.” Mr Speaker, they should do the subtraction and multiply it by 4.5 — They cannot do this, and they say it is 33? It is not 33 but 70. Mr Speaker, what this means is that a taxi driver who buys about 300 gallons a month would be getting a relief of about GH¢210 — [Hear! Hear!] — And my Hon Colleagues cannot support this simple intervention? They cannot identify with the burden of the cost of doing business for taxi drivers and support this beautiful intervention? Mr Speaker, but we have also been advised that we should scrap the tax. If the tax is bad, and needs to be scrapped, then why did they bring it? Mr Speaker, when the tax was introduced —
Order! Mr Jinapor — On a point of order Mr Speaker, the Hon Deputy Minister is grossly misleading this House.
Hon Members, order!
Mr Speaker, when we multiply the seven pesewas by 4.5. It takes us to 33 pesewas. What they are doing is giving us gymnastics of ‘‘if something happens''. What if it does not happen? As it stands now, it is 33 pesewas and not the 70 pesewas — [Hear! Hear!]
The Hon Member on his feet while the objection is being raised, is a person who will respond thereafter. If you have some good apo, give to him — [Laughter.]
Mr Speaker, it is strange, is it not, that the National Petroleum Authority (NPA), the institution set up under the National Petroleum Authority Act, appeared before the Committee and told us what fuel prices would be as a result of this intervention? It has been captured in the Report of the Committee, and instead of relating directly to the prices as were given us by the National Petroleum Authority, what my Hon Colleague, Hon John Abdulai Jinapor tried to do was to rather go to the and do his own computation taxes and assume that, that would be the impact on the prices. Mr Speaker, respectfully, what I am saying to this House is that on page 4 of the Report of the Committee, the NPA, the authority mandated to give us indicative ceiling says, and with respect, I beg to quote again: “In their estimation, upon the passage of the Bill into law, petrol price would reduce from the present GH¢4.67 per litre to GH¢4.51 per litre whilst diesel would sell at GH¢4.48 per litre instead of the current price of GH¢4.67 per litre.” This translates into about 70 pesewas per gallon on the average, and I have already made the point, that for a taxi driver who buys 300 gallons per month, it brings a relief of GH¢210 and we should be happy for the taxi drivers. Mr Speaker, in bringing my contribution to a close, the point has been made, that we should scrap it and do so because —
Hon Minister you would be concluding.
That we should scrap it because it was criticised when it was being brought. Mr Speaker, of course, we criticised it, and what did we criticise? We criticised the fact that they must not bring a tax that imposes small burden on consumers at the time crude oil prices were rising. The Hansard is there and we can make the reference. That is why we are here today to say that we do more want this as an NPP Administration. We want to make it fixed so that when crude oil prices go up and consumers have to pay more, at least, it would not be coming from Government. Question put and Motion agreed to. The Special Petroleum Tax (Amend- ment) Bill, 2018, was accordingly read a Second time.
Hon Members, item listed as 11 on the Order Paper. Hon Deputy Minister?
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion. Question put and Motion agreed to. Resolved accordingly
Item numbered 12 -- Special Petroleum Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2018 at the Consideration Stage.
BILLS -- CONSIDERATION STAGE
Mr Speaker, there is no advertised amendment, but I seek your leave to move an amendment to the Long Title.
You may proceed.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, Long Title, lines 1 and 2, delete “to reduce the Special Petroleum Tax from 15 per cent to 13 per cent and”. So, the long title would read as follows: “An Act to amend the Special Petroleum Act, 2014, (Act 879) to provide for change of ad valorem rate on the ex-depot price of petroleum products listed in the Schedule to a specific rate of tax per litre or kilogramme corresponding to each of the petroleum products listed in that Schedule and to provide for related matters.”
Mr Speaker, I would propose an amendment. I propose that the whole Special Petroleum Tax is scrapped. The Special Petroleum Tax, the total amount, be completely taken out. [Uproar.]
Mr Speaker, if the Hon Member for Ellembelle would pay attention, we are now considering the Long Title. We have already considered the body of the Bill, and the tax is so imposed. [Interruption.] Mr Speaker, we have done that already, and we are now on the Long Title. So, does the Hon Member suggest that the Bill would not contain a Long Title? So, that amendment should have come in the body of the Bill. We have long gone past that stage. If he would want to do that, he would have to come through a Second Consideration Stage. He cannot do this amendment in the Long Title. The Hon Member should please learn the rules.
Mr Speaker, I am happy with what the Hon Member has just stated. The reality is that no Hon Member in this House has the Bill. [Hon Buah waves the Report.] This has just been dropped. [Interruption.]Mr Speaker, they just brought this Report; we just saw it.
Order! Hon Members, if you give me the opportunity, I would resolve this.
Yes, Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, we are considering a Bill; we have gone past the consideration of the body. The Long Title is being considered now, and somebody came in at the wrong time to say that he did not have a copy. In the meantime, the person who said that nobody has a copy shows a copy to the House. What kind of attitude is this? The rules of this House would not permit the Hon Member to do what he intends to do at this time. The Hon Member is completely barred from doing whatever exercise he wants to engage in. It is just a tedious argument that he wants to put up. Could we move on?
Hon Members, I am advised by the Table Office that the distribution was done yesterday. [Interruption.] In any case, you had copies to be able to contribute at the Consideration Stage, where we discussed the essence, principles and all other important issues underpinning the Bill. Hon Members, an amendment has been made at this stage, and I would put the Question. Question put --
None [Pause] --
Yes, Hon Minority Chief Whip?
Mr Speaker, unfortunately, looking at the number of Hon Members in the Chamber, I am sorry to say that we do not have the required number to take a decision. I would refer you to article 102 of the 1992 Constitution, which says that --
Hon Member, in fact, I am very flexible at the Consideration Stage, as you know. So, we can always look at some of these things at the Consideration Stage. Hon Member, if what you are saying is something technical, then please bring the rule and tell me just that. You may proceed, please.
Mr Speaker, I first refer you to article 102 of the Constitution.
Article 102 of the Constitution of Ghana. [Pause.]
Mr Speaker, I am making reference to article 102 of the Constitution, which talks about the quorum of Parliament. With your permission, I quote: “A quorum of Parliament, apart from the person presiding, shall be one- third of all the members of Parliament.” Mr Speaker, unfortunately, those of us in this Chamber do not make up the number to take the decision, and I would be grateful to draw your attention to that.
Mr Speaker, with respect, we have got to a stage where you have put the Question and it has been responded to. It is for you to make a determination on this matter before you can hear him. You have suspended it. You must make a pronouncement on the verdict, and that is the “how”. So, if you could put the Question. I believe you must conclude this Business. If the Hon Minority Chief Whip wants to continue with whatever, he could do it. You have put the Question, and the verdict must be announced. That is where we are.
Hon Members, the Question has been put. Those who said “aye” have said it. It cannot be constricted at this particular juncture. All those in favour have indicated yes, and it is a decision. While the decision is being pronounced on, it is not the time to start raising other matters. After that we would consider other matters. Hon Minority Chief Whip?
Mr Speaker, that is exactly -- because the voice had gone, this was to draw your attention that whether it was “aye” or “no”, it was not up to the number to take a decision. [Laughter.] That is what I am drawing your attention to. Mr Speaker, having quoted the Constitution; now, the Standing Order 109 states, and with your permission, I quote: “(1) No Question for decision in the House shall be proposed for determination unless there are present in the House not less than one-half of all the Members of the House…”. Mr Speaker, those of us in the Chamber are less than 100. So, I am just drawing your attention to that. Yes, you called for the vote; but we, here in the Chamber do not have the number to take such decisions. That is what I am drawing your attention to, so that you make a determination on.
Mr Speaker, the rule that he quoted says no Question shall be proposed unless we have that number that he referred to. If the Hon Member knew that we did not have the number, he should have preceded with putting the Question. You have put the Question, he himself participated in the answer to that Question, and now he turns around. Mr Speaker, he cannot ambush us. You must pronounce the verdict, so that we move on.
Can a person participate in an activity, but when he does not have his way ex post facto complain? [Pause.] Hon Member, I am listening to you.
Mr Speaker, with the greatest of respect, before you put the Question, I was on my feet; but I could not catch your eye and I never participated. [Uproar.] Mr Speaker, if you would remember, a number of us stood as you struggled to put the Question. You called Hon Buah, and he talked about his intention to make
Mr Speaker, respectfully, if one is present in the Chamber when a Question is put, one may opt to say “aye”; one may opt to say “no”; or may opt to even keep quiet. If one even keeps quiet, it means one has participated. People should understand what is meant by ‘participation'. Does Hon Alhaji Muntaka think that it is only when one says “aye” or “no” that one participates in a decision of a Question put? If one decides to keep mute, that is participation. Abstention is participation in a vote. People should understand that. So, we are awaiting the verdict, then we would move on.
Hon Members, the fundamental rule of law is that, no person is allowed to approbate and reprobate at the same time. This brings to an end the Consideration Stage of the Bill. [Hear! Hear!] Hon Members, item numbered 13 on the Order Paper
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion. Question put and Motion agreed to. Resolved accordingly
Item numbered 14, on the Order Paper Hon Minister for Finance? Deputy Minister for Finance (Mr Kwaku Agyeman Kwarteng on behalf of the Minister for Finance): Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that the Special Petroleum Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2018 be now read the third time.
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion.
Whatever relates to this Motion at this stage will be within the context. We have finished all aspects of it now and it is being read the Third time. I do not see any good reason why we cannot proceed to read it a Third time. It will be determined by the Hon Members in terms of whether they intend to vote for the reading of the Bill for the Third time. That is the only stage we have reached now. So, all those in favour -- [Uproar] -- [Pause.]
Yes, Hon Majority Leader and Leader of the House?
Mr Speaker, the procedural Motion that would allow for the reading of a Bill the Third time has been moved. Now, the Motion that the Special Petroleum Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2018 be now read the Third time, has also been moved. At that time, after it has been moved, it is for a Question to be put. The rules are very clear on that. Standing Order 131 provides that. At that point, it is for the Question to be put. Mr Speaker, so, I invite you to put the Question.
Order! That was why I respectfully said that the issue remaining before us is to put and determine the Question. Hon Minority Leader --
No, I am conscripting -- [Laughter.] This is because we would just not open Pandora boxes when -- let me be very clear. Do you rise with regard to the Question on the Motion that has been moved and seconded, which is put to this Honourable House? There is a Motion moved and seconded. So, please, address me on the parameters of this indication.
Mr Speaker, I am sad the way you have treated me as the Hon Minority Leader. I stood up before the Hon Majority Leader, and you owe me that courtesy and that respect. You cannot -- even after hearing him, you were still not decided whether to hear me. All I have been voted to do here is to speak and, as an Hon Minority Leader, to speak to the rules. Mr Speaker, may I respectfully -- I am not here to talk about quorum. May I draw your attention to Standing Order 130 and why I was on my feet.? I am within the rules of the Standing Orders and you must respect the Standing Orders as the Hon Chairman of this House. No, I just did not stand up because of quorum. I stood up because the rules provide, and I quote for your emphasis, Standing Order 130.
Standing Order 1- ?
Mr Speaker, Standing Order 130: “(1) If any Member decides to delete or amend a provision contained in a Bill…”
The Bill for this purpose is the Special Petroleum Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2018. “…which has passed through the Consideration Stage, or to introduce any new provision to it, he may, at any time before a Member rises to move the Third Reading of the Bill, move that Bill do pass through a second Consideration…” Mr Speaker, therefore, you owe me every duty and standard of care to hear me on this matter. I rose on this and I am within the rules. You are the Chair of this House and you must hold us together. We almost did even want to continue and nobody has an objection to what we are doing; a revision of the Petroleum Tax -- I did a press conference and we spoke on it, it is a good thing to do. I am the Hon Minority Leader, and can I not have space to talk on the Standing Orders? [Uproar.] -- I stood up, and it is within the rules. I respect him. I said -- [Interruption.] -- my Hon Friend, I am well cultured. He is Rev. (Dr) (Prof), and I said that I do not ever want to disrespect him because I owe him respect; I also said he must respect me as the Hon Minority Leader. When I stand on the rules, he must. That is reciprocal, and that is what I have said.
Mr Speaker, this matter should not generate into this. I did not rise on an issue of quorum but to see if I could seek an amendment to the Schedule. I was going to study the Constitution -- Schedule to the Act so that I ask for a Second Consideration which is within the rules. I want to satisfy myself. [Interruption.] When Motions listed as items numbered 13 and 14 were moved, I was here. I was not here when the issue of quorum was discussed. Out of the same deference and respect, I did not speak because I needed to appreciate where we were. But I only rose to state that within the Standing Orders, before he moves for the Third Reading, I have every right to arrest the Motion and ask for a Second Consideration. [Interruption.] -- You heard me right. I said that I will not ever --
Hon Minority Leader, you have finished. Hon Majority Leader? Order! [Uproar.] --
Mr Speaker --
Order! Hon Members, Order! Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, first of all, I believe that we must make the distinction. When you recognised me Mr Speaker, but I believe that the Hon Minority Leader must be given his due, except in this particular case. When he got up, the Motion numbered as item 14 had already been called. Mr Speaker, that Motion had already been called. Mr Speaker, the Standing Order that the Hon Minority Leader read through for us -- With your indulgence and that of the House, I would want to repeat the Standing Order after him: “If any Member desires to delete or amend a provision contained in a Bill which has passed through the Consideration Stage, or to introduce any new provision to it, he may, at any time before a Member rises to move the Third Reading of the Bill, …” Mr Speaker, so a person does not even need to wait until we get to the Third Reading. Now, the Third Reading has been called, and and it has been moved and seconded. So, at that point, the Hon Minority Leader or the Hon Majority Leader or any other Hon Minister cannot get up to inject himself into the process. That is the difference, and I believe this should not engender any rage at all. Mr Speaker, I raised this issue sometime back when I was in the Minority. At the time of the former Speaker, Justice Bamford-Addo, this particular Standing Order -- Mr Speaker, I said that one does not even have to wait until the Third Reading of the Bill is advertised. Once we finish the Consideration Stage, we could apply Standing Order 130. So, if an Hon Member waits for the Motion for the Third Reading to be read and it is seconded before he or she rises - - The Hon Minority Leader would agree with me that at that point, if anyone wants to proffer any amendment, one is statute barred; one cannot come under any rule of this House. A person cannot mutter an amendment at that point because the door is foreclosed. It is as simple as that. Mr Speaker, if the Hon Minority Leader's argument is that he rose up and you did not recognise him, then that is a different matter; but once the Motion has been moved and it has been seconded, the door is shut at anybody in this House. That is the rule. Mr Speaker, thank you.
Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, this House is governed by rules, which is the Standing Orders. Mr Speaker, it is not for anybody to read my mind or why I am standing. Indeed, maybe, we should ask for a video replay of the drama that happened. Mr Speaker, you noticed that you refused to recognise the Hon Minority Chief Whip. [Interruption] -- All right, you did not recognise the Hon Minority Chief Whip; he was standing. Mr Speaker, so if we go into a video replay, you would see that I had to persuade him to sit down because I was not coming on a matter of quorum. Mr Speaker, you could watch it. I told him to sit down. Then when you moved to the Motion numbered 14, after the Motion numbered 13, I stood up. Mr Speaker, the word “before” is for your interpretation, but not
Thank you very much. In view of the Business before us and the time, I direct that Sitting goes beyond the regular hours. Now, without any doubt whatsoever, sequence is of a great importance in all rules and all procedures. The Motion had clearly been moved, the Third Reading had clearly been called, and the seconding had been done. No interruption must be allowed thereafter to interject Business beyond control. Question put and Motion agreed to. Resolved accordingly
BILLS -- THIRD READING
Hon Members, we would continue with the debate. Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, by way of bringing finality to this issue, you said that this Act had been read the Third time and passed conclusively.
Sometimes, so much noise does not make us hear the relevant things. Hon Members, per the list given to me, it is the turn of the Hon Member for Ejisu to contribute.
[Continuation of debate from Col. 1145.]
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for this opportunity to contribute to the Motion. Mr Speaker, development of the nation's roads have been slowed due to inadequate funding and mismanagement of the scarce resources allotted to roadworks in terms of awarding too many projects far in excess of budgetary allocations, just as what had been witnessed in 2016 under the enhanced Road Fund and what is also happening under COCOBOD funded projects. Mr Speaker, this results in delay in payment to contractors and consequent time over run because there would be the need for extension of completion period, and the worst of it all, the employer in defaulting payment within the stipulated time in the contract would also have to pay for interest on delayed payment. Mr Speaker, till date, only about 23 per cent of the network size of about 72,381 kilometres have been paved or tarred. Mr Speaker, maintenance of our roads have also been erratic. Interventions have been untimely; maintenance activities have been carried out slowly, which has resulted in rapid deterioration of our roads. Every year, about 70 per cent of our network is planned for maintenance, but it is only about 50 per cent of the planned work that is achieved. So, 50 per cent of 70 per cent is 35 per cent; this means that every year, only about 35 per cent of our network receive maintenance. Till date, there exists huge backlog of maintenance works to be done. Less than 40 per cent of the network is in good condition; the remaining is in fair to poor condition. But even as at the end of 2008, about 42 per cent of our road network were in good condition. Mr Speaker, from 2009 till date, our roads have been neglected in terms of maintenance and the result is that we have even less road network in good condition as compared to 2008. In view of these, the Government of Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo is embarking on a number of road projects to aggressively reduce the huge backlog of road maintenance on our road network. We are also making strides to develop the network by upgrading and rehabilitating gravel road surfaces to bituminous surfaces. Congestion is also predominant on some sections of our roads. Efforts are being made to widen them to accommodate the increasing vehicular traffic, and we are also taking giant steps to construct new bridges to replace existing ones that are weak and have outlived their designed lives. Mr Speaker, our paved roads are infested with potholes and depressions nationwide, and as a result, 349 contracts covering 13,321 kilometres have been awarded to contractors to patch potholes and do sectional repair works --
The Hon First Deputy Speaker would take the Chair. Hon Member, please go on.
Mr Speaker, that is to preserve the road infrastructure. Mr Speaker, on our trunk roads, there are --
MR FIRST DEPUTY SPEAKER
Hon Member, continue.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, on our trunk roads, 241 contracts covering 6,613 kilometres would undergo routine maintenance; on our feeder roads, there are nine contracts covering about 100 kilometres, and on our urban roads, 99 contracts covering 6608 kilometres.
Hon Edward Bawa? Hon Dr Kwabena Donkor?
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I rise to contribute to the State of the Nation Address made by His Excellency the President of the Republic. Mr Speaker, in so doing, I would first of all express my appreciation to His Excellency for coming to the House to perform his constitutional responsibility. However, in reviewing the speech ably made by His Excellency, he said that there was this spectacular improvement in the power supply. That is on page 14 of the State of the Nation Address. He attributed this to the hard work that had gone into easing the financial structure of the energy sector. Mr Speaker, yes, I would state that the current operators of the energy system have done commendable work by sticking to what they met in terms of the programme of work. I would be the first to put on record that the Ministry of Energy has done well by going ahead with the ENI Power Project, the Ghana Power Company Project, by continuing with the ESLA revenue stream and applying it to the energy sector. However, it is also important, particularly, for the President of the Republic to acknowledge that there has not been any new addition to, especially our generation assets, and no new levies have been introduced. Indeed, what the Government did was to take the ESLA, which some of my Hon Colleagues on the other side opposed, and package it into a new vehicle. We applaud that. At least, it is a recognition of the work that had been done. But it is also unfortunate for the credit to the cessation of load shedding to be appropriated to one side. That is most unfortunate. Mr Speaker, it is important that we give commendation where it is due. It is also important that even in our desire to bring relief to the people of this country, we stay within the confines of the law. Mr Speaker, in the 2018 Budget Statement, the Hon Minister for Finance, on behalf of His Excellency the President stated that Government would recommend to PURC to reduce tariffs by a certain percentage. Mr Speaker, it is important to note that Act 538 of 1997, especially section 4, is very specific, that the Commission shall not be subject to the direction of any person or authority in the performance of its duties. While I could appreciate the Govern- ment's desire to reduce tariffs, which we all share, it is critically important for Government to do so within the remit of
Hon Member, you have one more minute.
Mr Speaker, I thought that I am a Ranking Member; I was told that Ranking Members have 12 minutes to speak. However, I cannot challenge your integrity.
You are entitled to 12 minutes, but if you check your clock, you would realise that you have done 11 minutes. Therefore, go on, Hon Member.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker; I take your direction. Mr Speaker, we should be careful not to raise the hopes of our people. We have raised the hopes of our people in the political arena, and quite often, we have dashed their hopes. Therefore, in the petroleum field, we should be cautious.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I thank you for giving me the permission to contribute to the State of the Nation Address. Mr Speaker, before I go into the details of what I would want to say, I would wish to, as a Senior Member of this House, advise my Hon Colleagues on both sides, that when you are in public office, whatever you say, would later come after you. Mr Speaker, I watched Hon Members on the Minority side, question Hon Martin Amidu on what he had said years back. They stayed there and questioned him. Mr Speaker, today, a former Hon Deputy Minister for Finance stood on the floor of this House, and stated that the deficit in 2008 was 14. 5 per cent. This was heard from a former Hon Deputy Minister for Finance. But 10 years from now, people would question him on that. This is because he knows that what he said was not factual. An Hon Member -- Is that the contribution?
Yes, it is a serious contribution. The Hon Member should do well to listen because it is economics 101. Mr Speaker, the President came here to present a Message on the State of the Nation. He did not come here to do propaganda; he came to fulfil a constitutional obligation. So, the ultimate test is for him to compare what he met with what he has done now. Mr Speaker, our Hon Colleagues on the other side have forgotten one thing. Conveniently, we had an International Monetary Fund (IMF) Programme called the “Enhanced Credit Facility Programme,” which was supposed to run for three years, from April, 2015 to April, 2018. Mr Speaker, when the President assumed office, that Programme was completely off course. Why do I say that? The Message on the State of the Nation is that when we inherited the economy, the former Government was supposed to have achieved a deficit of 6.3 per cent; but guess what happened? this Government rather inherited a deficit of 9.3 per cent. That is the state of the nation. This, it is factual. Mr Speaker, an Hon Member stood here on the floor of the House and said that in economics, if one borrows and invests, one should see a rise in growth; I agree with him. Mr Speaker, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) inherited an economy with a debt — Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ratio of 36 per cent. They left us in a debt, GDP ratio of 73 per cent. Mr Speaker, that would not have been bad if it had translated into gross capital formation. From gross capital formation, we can see growth in real GDP. [Interruption.] This is economics 101. So we should compare this with the GDP in 2008 which was 9.1 per cent. If the debt translated into gross capital formation, then we should have seen a higher GDP ratio. Mr Speaker, what do we see in the state of the nation? The GDP growth was 3.6 per cent. The borrowing could not have been going into gross capital formation. I do not know what it went into. Some of it, I know, — not all of it, but I would not say it here. Mr Speaker, the state of the nation is that, GDP growth has gone from 9.1 per cent to 3.7 per cent. That is the state of the nation and that is the message the President wanted to give us. Mr Speaker, what the President said does not mean that there are no challenges. Yes, there are challenges. In fact, as we speak, the price of cocoa has declined, as we know, from US$3000 to about US$1,900. That is a challenge that the President must face and it has very serious implications.
Hon Minister, please, hold on. Yes, Hon Leader?
Thank you, Mr Speaker. I rise on a point of order. Mr Speaker, ordinarily, I would not do this to my Hon Senior Colleague, but I would want the facts to be stated correctly. Mr Speaker, on page 2 of the State of the Nation Address, the GDP growth rate quoted by the President as at December 2017, is different from what my Hon Colleague on the floor quoted. Did I hear him say it is 3.67 per cent? That the GDP growth rate is from 3.7 per cent to 7.9 per cent? Is that what he said?
Mr Speaker, I thought the Hon Member was listening but he was not listening. Mr Speaker, to repeat, I said that if the borrowing, as accepted by his Hon Colleague, which went from 36 per cent to 73 per cent, went into gross capital formation, then we should have seen a rise in GDP. Mr Speaker, in 2009 when the Hon Member's Administration assumed office, the GDP growth was 9.1 per cent; when they left office, it was 3.6 per cent. That is a fact; it is the state of the nation. That was the state in which they left the economy. So I said it was 3.6 per cent, but the Hon Member was not listening. Mr Speaker, the Hon Member admitted to the challenge, and I mentioned the cocoa price. Even petroleum prices have moved up since the Budget was read, from about 57 point something to a little above 60. That poses a serious challenge to the Budget. That is why today, we have gone on to reduce straight from ad valorem to specific, because we know the challenges it brings. Mr Speaker, this is a President who said that he met the nation in a state which was not correct, but he has stabilised it. He says he does have challenges, but he can assure us that we are on course. Mr Speaker, inflation went from 15 point something per cent to -- Today, it is about 10.8 per cent. We have not finished yet, but we would move into a single digit because that is what consumers would want us to do. Mr Speaker, the President told us in the Message on the State of the Nation that due to superior economic management, we are on the right path — [Hear! Hear!] — and Hon Members on the other side would do well to listen to us. Mr Speaker, in 2001 when we assumed power, they had the same problem with the IMF. They had a programme which was off track. Inflation was 41 per cent and we brought it down to 18 per cent, but we did not boast. However, somebody stands on the floor of the House — He met inflation at 18 per cent and brought it down to 15 per cent, and he beats his chest. They brought it from 18 per cent to 15 per cent and they tap their chests. Our Administration which brought it from 41 per cent to 18 per cent — We are not even clapping our hands. They brought it from 18 per cent to 15 per cent, yet they say they have done well. Mr Speaker, the Message on the State of the Nation is that, the state of the nation is sounder than we met it. Mr Speaker,
Mr Speaker, my contribution will be limited to a few paragraphs. The first is on page 14, paragraph 3. Mr Speaker, in so doing, I would quote some sentences that were read by the President. One of them is; and I beg to quote: “A lot of hard work has gone to easing the intolerable debt situation that threatened to paralyse the energy industry.” First and foremost, the former NDC Government took a bold decision to pass the Energy Sector Levy Act (ESLA) which was opposed by the NPP when they were in opposition, but that was the critical stage in solving the financial situation in the energy sector. Has it been hard work? They came to meet the ESLA; they promised to scrap it but they did not. We promised that within five years, we should be able to settle this debt; they came and extended it to 15 years. Do we not call that hard work when they used it to set up a special purpose vehicle, ESLA Plc and went to the international market with a road show to raise GH¢6 billion and ended up raising GH¢4.7 billion? That is not hard work. While they pay the legacy debt, they are incurring more debt. Mr Speaker, last year, ECG alone incurred a debt of GH¢660 million; and Ghana Gas Limited, GH¢300 million. We do not call that hard work. Mr Speaker, the President went ahead to talk of renewable energy. Mr Speaker, there were certain programmes that were introduced by the NDC Government and we thought that any Government that was interested in renewable energy should continue with those programmes. A very clear example is the Ghana Solar Support Project, which was geared towards addressing the electricity problem with respect to hairdressers, tailors and barbers. Solar rooftop would be mounted on their businesses so that they would not depend on the national grid. This would first and foremost take a chunk of the bill that they pay monthly. What do we see today? Since the NPP Government came to power, they have cancelled that project. It is no more working. We asked them to state their position on that solar project, but up to date, they have not stated it. The second one is about net metering. Net metering is to encourage private individuals to invest in renewable energy such that then whey have excess power, they can transfer it to the national grid, and when they need power, then they could take from the national grid, so that at the end of the day, it is net off. Mr Speaker, as I speak today, since 2017, that project has slowed down and we do not have even one person providing that service to Ghana. So, they cannot talk of encouraging renewable energy while at the same time they stifle the existing programmes that were started by the previous Government. I was in Tamale two days ago. We had three hours light off. In some places, 12 hours. Mr Speaker, the President's statement that he has solved dumsor should be scrutinised. He is not achieving the desired result. Mr Speaker, on page 18 the President spoke about some petroleum systems in the Voltarian Basin and that he directed the GNPC to take up certain activities in that basin. I would want to put it on record that the work started in 2013. What I find worrying was when he said that they had found petroleum systems. I know that certain works have been done, holes have been drilled but this data needs to be processed and analysed. Mr Speaker, you referred GNPC Work Programme to us just a few weeks ago, and there is a caption on the Voltarain Basin that I would want to talk about the data. Whether GNPC has started analysing the data or not, it is stated there. With your permission, I read; “The project will ensure the data acquisition and processing phase following the signing of the seismic data acquisition and processing contract.” As we speak now, GNPC has not signed any contract for the acquisition and processing of data. So, I find it terribly worrying how and where the President got the information that there is petroleum system in the Voltarain Basin. When the President speaks, it must be proven. He should talk of what has been proven. I believe that we need to take caution with respect to making mere statements. Mr Speaker, the fight against galamsey is an issue. It is very important to know that there are structures in place to ensure that there is presence of staff at every corner of this country, especially in the districts. That is why you referred the Mineral and Mining Act in 2015 to a Committeeto work on the amendment portion, which recommended the setting up of the District Mining Committees. Mr Speaker, the Minerals Commission is the regulator, and if it is well resourced and we have representation at every district where gold is mined, it would go a long way to curb the menace of galamsey. It is shocking that this time round, the internally generated fund of the Minerals Commission had been capped, because they have been handicapped out of that and they are unable to implement. Mr Speaker, they can set up a taskforce but there is a limit to it. It would work for a period and they would have to come back. It is the Minerals Commission that would have permanent presence in these districts.
I am very particular about galamsey. It started with this Minerals Commission. Did it escalate or go down? Do you trust them? I do not trust them one bit. They facilitate the thing.
Mr Speaker, it is high time we stopped undermining our institutions. If it is not working, what have we done to make sure that the institution works? Mr Speaker, that is why I indicated that this exercise cannot continue forever. Mr Speaker, at a certain point when we bring these military men back, who would take up their responsibilities? The Minerals Commission would take it up, and if it is not resourced and restructured well to function, then we would destroy that institution and it would become a challenge for us. Mr Speaker, nine months of fighting galamsey — But as we speak today, we cannot mention one galamsey site that has been closed. The Hon Minister was here to answer Questions but he could not give us even one galamsey site that has been closed. That is a sign of worry. Mr Speaker, recently in the news, Ghana Water Company said the water bodies are still polluted and that is an indication that galamsey is still ongoing. Mr Speaker, the President also spoke about getting private investors to participate in the thermal component of the Volta River Authority (VRA). In 2015, former President John Dramani Mahama in his State of the Nation Address made it clear that having thermal separated from hydro — the need to manage the thermal and when there is the need to bring some sharing into it, then we go ahead, and that has been the position of the National Democratic Congress (NDC). I would want to believe the transaction advisor working would recommend that Ghanaians still hold majority share in those thermal plants. The Hon Minister for Energy was here to answer a Question with respect to this thermal plant and he said, only one plant would be sold outright. We request to know what type of plant it is. They should not pick the very good one to sell and leave the old one for us to continue to manage. We would like to know which plant he would be selling out without participation, so that we can take an informed decision. Mr Speaker, in wrapping up, I would like to say something small on security, especially, in the Northern Region, and Tamale in particular. It is in respect of filling stations. Mr Speaker, it is quite worrying to know that by 8.00 p.m., most of the filling stations in the Tamale Metropolis are closed because of insecurity. It is a worry and must be looked at and taken seriously. Within the last month, about eight people have been killed as a result of attacks at the filling stations. We have not experienced this for a long time. Even at 10.00 p.m., one could get some filling stations still operating and one would be able to fill his or her gas when travelling outside the town. Today, by 8.00 p.m. to 8.30 p.m., when a person travels from Bolgatanga to Tamale, one cannot even refill the tank to continue. It is a great worry so something must be done about it.
The next person is the Hon Member for Tema East, Hon Daniel Nii Kwartei Titus-Glover — [Pause.] Daniel Nii Kwartei Titus-Glover (NPP — Tema East): Mr Speaker, I am so grateful to you for the opportunity to contribute to the Motion numbered 4(a), on the Order Paper -- the State of the Nation by H.E the President. Mr Speaker, I would start by saying that, we need to congratulate H.E. the President for fulfilling his constitutional duty to come and brief the House on matters of the State. To borrow the words of H.E. the President, and I beg to quote: Nu veve la wo da ne, le eze veve me; to wit, “that which is important, we cook in an important pot”. Mr Speaker, just this afternoon, I heard the Hon Minority Chief Whip say that politicians should fulfil when they promise. And the question I ask myself is that, going through the Address by the President on the Eastern Corridor Road — This is a region that is so dear to the heart of this country and very special to our Hon Colleagues opposite the aisle. This is a region that gives them a lot of vote, but for eight years, they have abandoned this road, and today, that is the situation we find ourselves in. Mr Speaker, I drove on this road when I was coming from Yeji, through the river to Makango to Salaga to Krachi before I crossed to Dambai through to Akosombo, and I was sad, that for eight years, our Colleagues who had these votes from the Volta Region, have abandoned it. But I would want to assure them that, has been is captured by H. E the President, that whatever it takes for him to fix that road, he is going to look for the financial resources to fix that road to make sure we have what we want. Mr Speaker, I vividly remember when we were in opposition campaigning and the presidential candidate at that time conceptualised the idea — The best a country could have is about its human resource. So if we have a President who says that he would want to use part of the money from the oil revenue to develop the human capital of the children of this country, then we need to applaud him. At that time, my Hon Colleagues opposite this aisle were spending money to advertise to say that Ghanaians should not vote for Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo- Addo because he was lying. I also remember a former Member of this House, Hon Lee Ocran even say that it would take Ghana 20 years implement Free SHS. Mr Speaker, to God be the glory. Today, the Free SHS programme has been implemented and I believe some of my Hon Colleagues sitting here have family members who are benefiting from this free SHS and their pockets are intact. I would urge them to congratulate the President from that side, to make sure that whatever he says — He is a man of action and he should make sure he implements it. Mr Speaker, notwithstanding that, he also told us that the Capitation Grant has been doubled. They were not paying at their time. Nurses and teachers training allowances have been restored. Today, if one has a constituent who would normally come to knock at one's door to appeal to us as Members of Parliament to support him or her — we have been cushioned. So, the President has done something and we need to commend him for what he has done. Mr Speaker, when we go to page 8 of the Address, where H. E the President spoke about overcrowding on our roads, and for that matter we need to do something about it. And coming from the Ministry of Transport, let me take this opportunity to thank the Ministries of Lands and Natural Resources and Works and Housing for allowing us to use the PWD yard which is now going to be the bus rapid terminal termination point. This is because when drivers load from Adenta all the way to Accra central, we do not have a termination point. As I speak to you, demolition has gone on, the contractor is on site and we are going to turn it into a modern bus terminal so that people can board buses to that part of Accra and around the Achimota and Ofankor route to come and load and terminate from that area. In a way, it would help to ease the traffic we have on our roads. Mr Speaker, again, the President's drive and initiative to make sure that we develop the road sector - when rail also comes on board, it would contribute immensely to ease traffic. Mr Speaker, when we talk about the rail and road sectors, there is the need to also look at the ports. This is because when we have congestion on our waters, there is the need for us to create a space for the ships to come and dock safely, discharge their cargo and off they go. There is an expansion of the harbour that was started by the previous government and we commend them for that. Mr Speaker, but the deeds of amendment on this Port expansion is so sad. It is so sad because when Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) started the international bidding process in 2013, over 56 companies bidded, they shortlisted to 20, and then up to seven companies. They were in the process of awarding the contract when an instruction came from H. E. the President at that time, that GPHA should stop and awarded the contract to Meridian Port Services (MPS). Mr Speaker, I say it is unfortunate because under this deed of amendment, GPHA has contributed more than necessary. In the lifespan of this project of 35 years, we would cede US$3 billion, which GPHA could have used to do something else for the port. Mr Speaker, again, in the first marriage of the concession agreement, which would last 20 years, they have spent 11 years and we are left with nine years. The MPS says under the new deed of amendment, that after they have left the first marriage into the new marriage, they still want to have concessionaire's survival rights, where they would want to hold on to 20 per cent of the revenue that would to be generated from that part, and we feel that is very unfortunate. Mr Speaker, the contract sum of the project is US$1.5 billion. We were told in the Sixth Parliament and Parliament went ahead to give them a waiver of US$832 million. As I speak, the project cost has dwindled to US$1 billion. Out of this US$1 billion, US$687 would to be financed from the International Finance Corporation (IFC), then the remaining will be financed from the revenue of MPS. Mr Speaker, there is a need for us to come back to this Chamber to review the waiver that we gave to this Arrangement. This is because the impression they gave to the government at that time was that they would come with their own money. Immediately the lease of the agreement was signed, then they came back and told us that they would want to go to IFC. As I speak, in the terms of payment under the IFC arrangement, it would take us ten years to pay off. The 25 years that is left is for them to remain in this country. As I speak, I chair a committee actioned by the Department for Transport (DFT), that the Ministry of Transport should go into this arrangement. Mr Speaker, first of all, they have diluted our shares; the government's shares of 30 per cent under these deeds of amendment have been diluted from 30 per cent to 15 per cent. The government also has 12.9 per cent shares, which they need to give to the Government of Ghana. When NPP left office, instead of the NDC Administration to effect that 12.9 per cent to the country, they could not do it. There is a revenue that has generated --
Hon Member, I would want some clarification here. GPHA is not a political agency, so who failed to do his work? Do not let us link it to political parties because the public servants there are not politicians. So, who failed to do his work that led to Ghana's shares being diluted, so that we can track and redeem our shares? Nii Kwartei Titus-Glover: Mr Speaker, the shareholders of this company are to effect that through the Registrar-General's Department, which was not done. That is why I say that the committee I chair today is looking at all these things to make sure that we bring finality to this arrangement, which is ongoing. Mr Speaker, I would want to say that Ghana is losing. Yesterday, my brother and good Friend, Hon Agbodza, said that we should be very careful as a country, that when an Agreement has been signed, we should make sure that we do not go back into that Agreement. Hon Agbodza is behaving like a surgeon who has operated
Hon Member, you should refrain from making personal references to the Hon Member. Nii Kwartei Titus-Glover: Mr Speaker, I would say sorry to the Hon Member. Mr Speaker, what I am saying is that it is just like a medical doctor or surgeon who has operated a patient, but when the patient begins to complain that he is having some complications with the operation that he went through, and therefore, he or she wanted further medical review on that operation that has been done on him or her, then the doctor who did the surgery complains and asks why. Mr Speaker, what I am saying is that there is a big problem on that concession Agreement. We need to go into it and look at the interest of Ghana and GPHA-- that is the point I am driving at here. I believe we would make sure that the right things are done for the people of this country, and to ensure that Ghana has value for money. Mr Speaker, going forward, under the Transport Ministry, I have said it, and let me repeat it that Agodeke, Yeji and Dambai would have landing sites for these ferries that are coming. Evaluation has been done, the contract would be awarded, the contractor would move to site, and we would start immediately. These are things that we have been able to do together with the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Terminal at Tudu . Mr Speaker, the Ghana Maritime Authority is also procuring speed boats on the Volta Lake to make sure there is safety on the lake.
Hon Member, you have one minute more. Nii Kwartei Titus-Glover: Mr Speaker, finally, the tree stumps, which cause a lot of deaths and destruction on the Volta Lake, have also received the attention of the Ministry. A contract has been awarded, and we would remove these things. I believe that when this is done, all these accidents we have in and on the Volta Lake would be stopped. Mr Speaker, I am so grateful for giving me the opportunity to contribute to the debate on the State of the Nation Address.
It is the turn of Hon Della Sowah.
Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to contribute to the debate on the State of the Nation Address given by His Excellency the President. Mr Speaker, first of all, I would want to associate myself with a statement first made by Hon Fifi Kwetey and then corroborated by Dr A. A. Osei that we must mind the way we do politics in this country. The way we run down politicians - running down ourselves is not the best at all. Governance is a continuous process, it is not isolated. I sat in this House and listened to His Excellency the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, talk about things as if they were isolated events and he did not give credit to his predecessor, which even caused the Minority to heckle the more shouting, “Mahama! Mahama! Mahama!” Mr Speaker, we should be very careful as politicians because the image we are creating about ourselves out there is just not the best. We are giving Ghanaians who elected us the impression that some of us, as politicians are not capable, or that we are not able to run the affairs of the nation and that is wrong. The previous Government did its best and did several things in the interest of the country. For another President to come and then say that the things were wrong, I think is not the best. Mr Speaker, a lot has been said about the reduction in the fuel price but I would want to talk about that again. The levy was introduced by the preceding government for a reason. I sat here and listened to some of my Hon Colleagues who said that they have done a reduction and people should be happy. The truth of the matter is that people cannot be happy, and I cannot be happy. My fuel bill to my constituency is almost 30 per cent of my salary, and that is very high. If even I am suffering, what about the ordinary Ghanaian on the streets? They are suffering too. If the Government says that this was introduced by the previous Administration and it is not right, the proper thing to do is to scrap it completely and not reduce it; but what we see is a reduction. How much is the reduction? Two per cent; that is very small. Mr Speaker, I do not agree with the Hon Deputy Minister for Finance that we should be appreciative, no matter how small. It is not proper. Two per cent reduction in the cost of fuel products is not the best. Mr Speaker, I remember the then presidential candidate, Nana Akufo- Addo, and his vice presidential candidate said in 2016 that the Special Petroleum Tax or fuel price increase was insensitive. Now, a few years down the line, what do we see? We see the same and even worse. We should be mindful of what we say because it would come back to haunt us. We should not just say things to gain political points, but we should say them because they are truths. Now, they came to power and realised that the very things they talked about are not achievable. That leaves a very bad dent on the Ghanaian politician. Mr Speaker, no wonder, President Trump -- I shudder to mention the way he described us, but it is not right. We are perceived as corrupt people who take moneys and stack them up in Swiss banks. How many of us here have moneys in Swiss banks? Yet, the impression is always created as if all we do is to accept moneys and stack outside. I believe we have to change the way we do politics in Ghana, and, particularly, in this House. Mr Speaker, when we say things for the purpose of winning political advantage and then we come and find that what we thought was not the case, we should be honest with ourselves and the people of Ghana, and let them know that what we said was not the truth; or we have come to find that things are different from the way we saw it. Mr Speaker, instead, we find reasons to still blame the preceding Government, which is not the best at all. Mr Speaker, I would also want to comment slightly on the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR). I expected that the President would speak about TOR but I did not hear anything at all about it in his Address. TOR was doing very well before the 2016 election. I know that there was a fire outbreak, but then what we hear at the Committee on Mines and Energy is that another refinery would be built in Takoradi. What feasibility has been done? Are we just putting money there because we want to build another refinery? Is it proper? Have we done the cost benefit analysis? Mr Speaker, these are things we have to think about. I say this because, years down the line, we could find that where we put our money was wrong. Mr Speaker, I would also want to comment on the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) case. It is a case that former President Mahama took a very bold step to go to court in our boundary dispute with Ivory Coast. The case was handled expertly by Hon Marrieta Brew Appiah-Oppong. However, the President came to the House and congratulated the current Hon Attorney- General and Minister for Justice. We must take cognisance of the fact that government is continuous; it is not in isolation. If one's predecessor did something that is good, just commend them for doing it because that step was a bold one to go to court and we have the benefit of it. So, Mr Speaker, as a country, we must move away from the blame game. If one comes to power knowing that he or she can do something, take the bull by the horn and do it, but do not find excuses for what should have been done that was not done. It gives politicians a very bad name. We are all politicians and I hate to hear people describe us in terms that I am not.
Hon Members, the last one for the day is Hon Dr Okoh Boye.
I am very grateful, Mr Speaker for the opportunity to contribute to the State of the Nation Address. First of all, I would like to commend H.E. the President for respecting the provision to present the State of the Nation Address each Session. In 2009, when the erstwhile Government took over, the economic growth of this country was 9.1 per cent of GDP. The following year, it was 5.7 per cent; then, it went to 7.8 per cent. In 2011, we recorded 14 per cent growth of GDP, which was the highest in the world. Mr Speaker, in the subsequent year, we started to dwindle. We came to 9.7 per cent, 7.3 per cent, and then ended up with 3.6 per cent in 2016. Within 13 months, there has been a turn around. Ghana recorded a growth rate of 7.9 per cent for the 2017 fiscal year. When it comes to economic management, this is the surest indicator of how the country is faring. We could see that when it comes to management, this Government is in a comfortable lead. Mr Speaker, when we look at other indicators like inflation, in 2016, we ended with 15.4 per cent. At the end of 2017, we did 11.8 per cent. In January, 2018, we are now at 10.3 per cent. Inflation is trending downwards. That is also a strong indicator of an economy that is doing well. Our fiscal deficit on cash basis was 9.3 per cent at the end of 2016. We finished 2017 at 5.6 per cent. When deficit is trending downwards, we know that the Government is in a comfortable lead when Mr Speaker, one needs to get his or her fundamental rights before it can support any sector of the economy. I am glad to mention that after having put the economy in a good shape, health is also now receiving some resuscitation. Mr Speaker, there are three key factors that determine how efficient our health system is. The first one has to do with access. With access, we talk about the physical infrastructure, which is bed space and also financial access; thus, the ability to pay. Mr Speaker, some few years ago in this country, when one did not have cash under emergency, unfortunately, one is forced to die even when doctors could take care of the person. The cash and carry system was what pertained in this country. The National Health Insurance Scheme, which was introduced by the Kufuor Government, suffered some setbacks within the past eight years. In fact, the health insurance card, which was much treasured, now became a byword of reproach. When one presented it at the hospital, they termed it; “en- cover”, meaning, it does not cover, especially, drugs. Mr Speaker, I am happy to mention that today, the NHIS, which was in a comatose situation, has finally been resuscitated. I would give a few figures to substantiate. In 2017, a total of GH¢ 908, 071,309.00 was paid to the NHIS. Half of the arrears accumulated by the erstwhile Government up to August, 2016 was cleared with half of this amount. Mr Speaker, with the resuscitated NHIS, we still need the right numbers in the hospital to provide care. Nurses who had sat at home for an average of four years, in 2017, finally, got a chance to put their skills at work. This Government in 2017 gave clearance for a total of 15,667 health workers. In 2018, we would do more than 30,000.
An Agenda for Jobs”. Those nurses who finally are working as I speak now, appreciate the real meaning for our manifesto. Mr Speaker, it is dangerous when we have a doctor or a nurse who has his mind in the hospital, but his heart outside. Incentives and morale is important to get health workers to give off their best. Nurses, particularly, became the most demoralised workforce in this country because a treasure, their allowances, was taken away from them when they were in training schools. Most nurses started their life with these allowances. When the erstwhile Govern- ment took it away from them, they started looking for a Government that would be prepared to restore. Thankfully, they put their faith in the then NPP in opposition, and within 13 months, through prudent economic management, we have found the resources to restore the trainee allowances. Mr Speaker, we are not only talking about restoration. We have also moved to the level of sustaining it and making sure it remains as long as we exist and we are in power. This is an interesting statement. We had a socialist inclined government that could not sustain a social programme. It was not their wish to collapse it; but without prudent economic management, they will not have the resources to support a social programme. Mr Speaker, I am happy to mention that a capitalist inclined government, through prudent management, has found the resources to restore a social programme. Obviously, this is a government that is in a comfortable lead when it comes to performance. It is because of the culture of fiscal discipline and prudent management of this government that we have also put the energy sector in good shape. The presence of dumsor was announced by loud generators. In fact, any time I presented myself at radio stations, I was met with loud generation sets --
Hon Member, hold on. Yes, Hon available Leader?
Mr Speaker, I come under Standing Order 93(2). My Hon Colleague just said that it was the intention of the previous government to collapse the NHIS.
“It shall be out of order to use offensive, abusive, insulting, blasphemous, or unbecoming words or to impute improper motives…” Mr Speaker, it will be difficult for him to prove that the previous government intended to collapse the NHIS. He must withdraw and proceed appropriately.
Mr Speaker, I thought that the Hon Member, who quoted the Standing Order, will quote the Standing Order appropriately. It reads: “It shall be out of order to use offensive, abusive, insulting, blasphemous or unbecoming words or to impute improper motives to any other Member…” Hon Agbodza talked about the NDC Government, is the NDC an Hon Member of this House? Mr Speaker, can we go on?
Hon Member, what are the exact words you complained about? Hon Member for Adaklu, I want to hear the exact words you complained about.
Mr Speaker, he said that the previous government intentionally wanted to collapse the NHIS. Mr Speaker, we could play semantics by saying that the previous NDC Government have no links in this House, and my Hon Majority Leader could say that he does not recognise anybody in this House, who is an Hon Member of the NDC. I still believe that I am an Hon Member of the NDC. Though I never served in government, I believe that my government is the one he is referring to. I do not have any problems with his views, but I think it is wrong to suggest that the government intended to collapse the NHIS. I do not think that is proper.
Hon (Dr) Okoe Boye, do you remember exactly what you said? This is because -- yes?
Mr Speaker, respectfully, I never said that the previous government intentionally collapsed it. I said that one could have a good intention to keep it, but because of improper management, one will not have the resources to sustain it, so it collapsed. That is what I said.
Very well. Whatever it is you complained about, there is a last part which relates to personal allusions to anybody else and not even an Hon Member. Even if he said the NDC Government, I wonder whether that will be a personal allusion. So, I am afraid that the objection cannot be sustained. Hon Member, continue.
Mr Speaker, one other sector that was resuscitated, revived and actually rejuvenated as a result of the prudent economic management is the energy sector. One of the areas that gets hard hit when energy suffers is industry and manufacturing. I am happy to mention that in the year 2015, growth in the manufacturing sector was 2.2 per cent. In the year 2016, it increased to 2.7 per cent, and jumped to 3.1 per cent in the year 2017 as a result of the rejuvenation in the energy sector.
“In 2017, VALCO, operated a single pot line, employed 532 persons and produced 40,500 tonnes of aluminium…” Mr Speaker, VALCO which previously had become comatose, in the year 2017 finally got some supply and became rejuvenated. It supplied 40,500 tonnes of aluminium. The surest indication of an economy that has woken up is to see industries that were previously closed now being opened. In the year 2018, we are going to open a second port line to ensure that we raise production from 40,500 tonnes of aluminium to 81,000 metric tonnes. There is good news; through production, we had an amount of US$7.5 million, which came to the national kitty. It could rise to $16.1million in the year 2018. Mr Speaker, prudent economic management comes with rewards, and this is one of them. We will also generate revenue. That is why this government recorded a surplus in the primary balance at the end of year 2017, of point three compared to the deficit of 1.6 of the previous government. In concluding, with the right economic team under a visionary leader, it becomes clear that what was previously impossible in the past, like restoring allowances, becomes possible in another regime. Mr Speaker, this tells us that the change that Ghanaians invested in has not been in vain. This Government has made it possible for us to restore -- His Excellency, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo has finally restored one item, which has not been captured in books; the trust in the politician. When a politician says he would restore, with a prudent economic team, it is possible. Mr Speaker, I am very grateful for the opportunity.
Very well. I think that is all for today. Hon Member for Yunyoo, I can hear you from here, even though you are not speaking into the microphone. When are you going to debate? When is it your time?
Do not worry --
Please, speak into the microphone.
Mr Speaker, I said that I am preparing myself towards that. I am yet to decide.
Very well. I am waiting with baited breath.
Mr Speaker, this is just to remind my Hon Colleague, Hon Naabu, that the debate would be concluded on Wednesday. So, he should please not get to the station when the train has already left. So, we have tomorrow and Tuesday. [Laughter.]
Very well. Hon Majority Leader, unless there is any announcement, I will bring proceedings to a close.
Mr Speaker, there is no particular announcement, except to remind all of us that over the past two days, we have not been able to Sit on time. Tomorrow is Friday and we may have about five or six Hon Members from either side of the House penciled to make contributions. So, I will implore all of us to be on time tomorrow. If we are able to Sit at 10:00 a.m. or latest 10:30 a.m., we will be able to accommodate as many Hon Members as possible before we adjourn at 1:30 p.m. to allow our Muslim Hon Colleagues to visit the mosque.
Mr Speaker, this is just to remind my other Hon Colleagues, who should have spoken today but did not get the opportunity to hold their guns and prepare for tomorrow morning.
Very well. In the circumstances, the House is adjourned till Friday, 16th February, 2018 at 10.00 o'clock in the forenoon.