VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS AND THE OFFICIAL REPORT
Hon Members, item numbered 2 -- Correction of Votes and Proceedings dated Friday, 23rd February, 2018. Hon Members, Official Report dated Friday, 2nd February, 2018. Any corrections?
[No correction was made to the Official Report of Friday, 2nd February, 2018.]
Hon Members, item numbered 3 on the Order Paper — Urgent Question. Could the Hon Minister for Aviation please take the appropriate seat? Hon Member for Adaklu, please, your Question?
ORAL ANSWERS TO URGENT
MINISTRY OF AVIATION
Mr Speaker, it would be recalled that, a Starbow aircraft was involved in an accident at the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) on 25th November, 2017. A preliminary investigation team from the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority conducted investigations on the same day at the accident site to examine, inspect and collect data and documentation from the aircraft to later enhance investigation. Notification of the accident was dispatched on 26 th November, 2017 by Ghana Civil Aviation Authority to the following agencies in accordance with the requirements of Annex 13: a. Ministry of Aviation -- Ghana; b. Transportation Safety Board; c. Pratt and Whitney; d. Aircraft Manufacturer -- ATR; e. The Accident Investigation Bureau; d. BEA -- Bureau d'Enquetes et d'Analyses. Subsequently, the Ministry of Aviation, pursuant to sub-section 13.6 of the Ghana Civil Aviation Amendment Act, 2016 (Act 906) constituted and inaugurated a five- member Committee on the 8th of December, 2017 to investigate the accident in order to ascertain the probable cause(s) of the accident and to make recommendations to prevent future occurrence. Objectives of the Investigation The objectives of the investigations were to: i.Establish the probable cause(s) of the accident. ii. Determine the extent of fatalities and injuries if any. iii. Establish the extent of losses or damage to property. iv. Consider other issues relevant to the interest of safety v. Make recommendations to forestall any future occurrence. vi. Come out with a preliminary report within thirty (30) working days. Mode of the Investigation The Committee combined meetings, field visits to the accident scene, interviews with affected stakeholders, most importantly, passengers, the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority, Ghana Airports Company Limited and Operator of the aircraft, Aero Surveys Limited (Starbow). The Manufacturer and owner of the aircraft were also invited to participate in the investigations. As part of the investigation, two (2) members of the Committee travelled to Bureau d'Enquetes et d'Analyses (BEA) in France with the Flight Data Recorder (FDR) and Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) to be decoded to give real time sequence of events that happened in the aircraft and also display all the avionic information in order to aid the Committee in its investigation to come out with its preliminary and final report. Sequence of Events Leading to the Accident In the course of the investigation by the Committee, the following sequence of events were established: i. Flight IKM104 started taxiing at 1214 hrs for departure to Kumasi. There were on board; Sixty (60) passengers; Three (3) infants; and Five (5) crew members. ii. Weather at the time was clear but deteriorated rapidly and resulted in heavy down pour before the pilots were ready to take-off. iii. During the take-off run, the aircraft gradually drifted off the runway without the crew appreciating it as a result of the severity of the weather. iv. In the process, the captain's seat inadvertently moved rearward which made the captain transfer control of the aircraft to the co-pilot. At this point, the aircraft was virtually off the runway. v. The crew initiated action to bring the aircraft to a stop but did not follow the correct procedures. Most importantly, they did not select reverse thrust which would have slowed down the aircraft much faster. vi. There was also lack of adequate coordination among the crew during the flight. There was a reported case of one passenger who was severely injured, four other passengers with minor injuries and damage to a Precision Approach Path Indicator (PAPI) light as well as the inner perimeter fence at the KIA.
Mr Speaker, in the Hon Minister's Answer, she said that before take-off, there was a clear weather and then there was a sudden deterioration of the weather. Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister also mentioned that the Captain's seat was moved backwards during the take-off and certain cockpit procedures were not followed. Also, after the accident, there was lack of coordination between the crew members. Mr Speaker, I am sure most people in this Chamber today have ever boarded an aircraft, so with the sequence of what the Hon Minister narrated, this is a real threat to anybody. Mr Speaker, not too long ago, a state of the art Weather Monitoring System was installed in this country. I would want the Hon Minister to tell us whose decision it was to authorise a take-off when there was a sudden weather deterioration. Was it the Pilot decision to take off or the air traffic controller's? I would want to know who makes the decision between take-off and not taking off if the weather deteriorates. I ask this because, it is difficult for me to understand whether it was the air traffic controller who gave the directive for take- off or it was within [Interruptions.] -- I would not be intimidated.
Hon Members, order! Order! Hon Members on my right side of the aisle, order! This is a national matter. Mr Agbodza Mr Speaker, I would want to encourage my Hon Colleagues that this is not politics; it is about safety, so we should find out how we can do things better. Mr Speaker, I would want to know if the Hon Minister can tell us within which period the weather deteriorated to the extent the air-traffic controller gave a directive for take-off and within the period of take-off and the actual take-off the weather deteriorated. [Interruptions.] -- Hon Majority Leader, I am aware that pilots do not just take off from the airport, but they get clearance from the air-traffic control. I would want to find out the meaning of “sudden deterioration of the weather”. Mr Speaker, I would want to find out at what point in time the weather deteriorated after the air-traffic controller gave the directive?
Hon Minister, if you could please answer the question. Incidentally, I am particularly curious about the sequence of events and the difference between the suddenness of how far the airplane would have moved before any disaster. The people of Ghana deserve a clear answer.
Mr Speaker, I believe the final take off decision is normally the pilot's decision, but he is always in contact with the air navigation traffic control. So there is no doubt about that. They work together; there is a total collaboration between the two. Mr Speaker, for this particular incident, it would be realised that, on that Saturday, there was a sudden downpour and that was where the window was for this decision to be taken and truly, they were in contact with the air-trafficking control, so there was no danger to that. Normally, during adverse weathers they also communicate as well. Mr Speaker, I had personally written, as far back as June 2017, before the rainy season, to caution that when the weather is so adverse, pilots should exercise patience in taking off. So we all work together. Mr Agbodza Mr Speaker, the second issue is that, the Hon Minister said that the Captain's seat shifted backward and I would want to know if it was a catastrophic failure of the seat or it was a human error where the seat was not secured appropriately.
Mr Speaker, it was definitely not catastrophic. That is why there is a co-pilot. The moment the chief pilot has a problem, he hands over straightaway to the co-pilot. Yes, indeed, the seat did move inadvertently, and per the findings of the Committee, a spring was broken inside the pilot's seat. All these findings were made, but it was not catastrophic.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister said that they did not follow a correct procedure. I would want to know if it was about the pilot or just the crew in the cabin. If the procedure is about the
Mr Speaker, the chief pilot, Captain Minyila is one of the best pilots we have in the country at the moment and so his capability is never in doubt. Mr Speaker, per the findings, what happened was that, they should have applied the rear thrust instead of using the normal breaks to stop. That was what the investigative team talked about.
Mr Speaker, I would want to find out from the Hon Minister, following this incident, some of the sequence of which, based on her explanation were avoidable, what measures she has taken in collaboration with her team to ensure that we do not have a repeat of this unfortunate incident, specifically with regard to the two items. First, when there is a sudden change of weather, as she said, can the control centre immediately not alert the pilot to delay the take-off? Secondly, the coordination issues that she dealt with, what steps has she taken so far, going forward, to assure the nation that we would not have a repeat of such an incident?
Mr Speaker, I must place it on record that, Ghana has one of the safest airwaves in the world and I am not exaggerating. The quality team to ensure that we have safety on board, on the ground and in the air is not in doubt. Mr Speaker, with this, we immediately summoned all the safety officers and had a meeting with them even before the Report came out. That was to make sure we were on track. I can assure the whole nation, our stakeholders and collaborators that Ghana is very safe on the ground, in the air and on board aeroplane. This was a one-off case, and as the Hon Member said, nobody wished Starbow to have this accident, but it did happen. We thank God there were no fatalities and we can assure all of us that the mitigating factors proposed by the committee would be duly be followed. I have already read them out, but Mr Speaker, if I may read them out again or consider it —
Mr Speaker, I would want to know from the Hon Minister, prior to the November, 25th incident, the Airline equally recorded a few incidents that were not particularly exciting to passengers. In their investigations, did they take all those issues into consideration when they looked at the operations of the Airline and the safety procedures that they have put in place?
Mr Speaker, vis-à-vis this particular investigation, they did not have the remit to consider earlier happenings. But of course, we have taken into consideration, the operations of Starbow. As much as we want to entice and invite investors to the Aviation sector, we do not lower standards for anybody. So, we would take a look at that as well.
Mr Speaker, I am very grateful. Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister indicated that there was some element of human error in the accident but she described the pilot as one of the best in the country. That notwithstanding, there has to be some sanctions against the pilot if there were elements of human error. We cannot say that because the pilot is one of the best in the country it should end there. There has to be some sanctions against him, for the element of human error. What exactly is the Ministry doing as a supervisory body to place sanctions on the pilot, whose inactions or actions resulted in this accident?
Mr Speaker, I do not think I used those words, that there was a human error. It was a question of application of which option to use at that particular moment. He chose to use the normal braking system. The investigative team recommended that he should have used a rear thrust to stop faster. I never mentioned human error. Surely, this investigation is not to apportion blame yet. We are going to study the investigations, spell out issues and analyse them; yes, and move it forward.
Mr Speaker, I heard the Hon Minister said, they did not follow procedure; and not following procedure is a human error, is is it not?
Mr Speaker that is a point of interpretation.
Hon Member, I see you in a position of dissatisfaction. Do you want any clarity on the matter?
Mr Speaker, certainly I am not —
Mr Speaker, procedure and interpretation — I am at a loss. I do not think we are in the law court or this has to do with any law. It is about procedure — standard operation procedure which is normal — Routine procedure that they
Mr Speaker, my question is, is the Hon Minister saying that lack of adherence to procedure is not wrong?
Mr Speaker, it is a whole an the incident and then there the procedure for evacuation. These are all incorporated in the Report. And so, if the team says that, procedurally, things were not done the way they should have been done, it affects the evacuation process and not the actual incident.
Hon Minister, apart from the answer given, is the entirety of the Report available?
Mr Speaker, yes. I would crave your indulgence to deposit a copy in this House.
I would be glad if it would be tabled in its entirety, so that this House can be fully informed. For further steps, we may want to read and take out matter which is of national interest.
Mr Speaker I would do that.
But Hon Minister, the issue of the Meteorological Department, et cetera, lies with the Ministry of Communications, where I have been before and things over there affect aeroplane matters. It appears there was an issue of communication of bad weather. I would want to bring that to your attention. To what extent is the communication between you and your counterparts, so
Mr Speaker, they work closely together. In fact, the Meteo- rological department has a desk at the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority. They have a department which is housed in the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority Office.
Any other questions? Leadership? 11.0 2 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I would want to find out from the Hon Minister for Aviation --Following the grounding of Starbow, it appears that the domestic environment, particularly, Kumasi and Tamale may be suffering from lack of competition. But can she outline for this House the general measures she has in place to ensure air safety in the country? Mr Speaker, I ask this because recently, I was with the Hon Majority Leader on board Africa World Airlines (AWA) to Tamale for a Parliamentary forum and I saw the air hostess busily talking to him about what he was required to do in the event of an emergency. Mr Speaker, in this matter, the man did not carry his Standing Orders with him so that he would draw lines; and I wondered whether he would have the state of mind to respond. So, Hon Minister kindly share with us the general measures they have in place to guarantee air safety across the country. Thank you.
Mr Speaker, the conversation between the air hostess and the Hon Majority Leader was a normal procedure. Normally, depending on where one sits, if it is an exit point, the person is briefed on how to behave when there is any incident -- So that is normal. Mr Speaker, as I said, we would not renege on our responsibilities to make Ghana safe vis-a-vis aviation. I would emphasise that, travelling by air is the safest mode of transportation, looking at the road accident statistics that we have. On the average, about 2,000 people die on our roads every year but we have recorded no death -- virtually zero -- in aviation. We hope to improve on the road accidents or eliminate that and to also keep a good air safety record. Mr Speaker, as the Hon Minority Leader said, AWA has no competition now. They are doing their best and I believe we have a few airlines in the pipeline; I do not want to put the names out yet. But maybe, in the second quarter, we would see one or two airlines joining them to ferry our cherished compatriots up and down the country.
Hon Majority Leader, any more question?
Owusu — rose
Hon First Deputy Speaker?
Mr Speaker, I would like to know from the Hon Minister what has happened to the person who was severely injured as contained in the Report.
Mr Speaker, she was immediately rushed to the Airport Clinic where she was given first aid. When they assessed her condition and found out that it was serious, she was transferred to the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital and operated upon. She is doing very well now. Thank you.
Hon Majority Leader, per adventure, if you may want to --
No, Mr Speaker.
Alright. Hon Minister, we thank you for attending upon the House to answer Questions. As an Hon Minister, you are entitled to be here anytime and we would be very glad to receive you. Hon Minister, you are discharged.
Hon Member for Manya Krobo, kindly get ready for the Hon Minister for Sanitation and Water Resources.
ORAL ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS
MINISTRY OF SANITATION AND
Mr Speaker, the water supply system in the area under question has been designed within the network to supply water to the people of Krobo Odumase area from the Accra Tema Metropolitan Area (ATMA) Rural Water Supply System which takes its feed from the Kpong Water Treatment Plant, which indeed is one of the largest treatment plant in the country. The treatment plant pumps water into the Yogaga Reservoir which then flows by gravity into the Odumase and the Sra reservoirs. From these reservoirs, the people of Krobo Odumase and the surrounding environment are then served with potable water. Currently, the ATMA Rural Water Supply System has a capacity of 12 million gallons per day available for supply to the catchment area which is projected to be enough for now. However, Mr Speaker, in the Government's bid to improve the road network in the constituehcy, in recent times, the road construction activities being undertaken within this enclave have resulted in the destruction of the major pipelines serving some parts of the constituency. Mr Speaker, it takes considerable time and effort to reinstate these damaged pipelines. This has therefore resulted in the current water supply challenges in the form of intermittent water flow being experienced in the constituency. Mr Speaker, my Ministry and that of the Roads and Highways are engaged in effective collaboration between the road agencies as well as utility service providers anytime road construction work is being undertaken in urban areas, and in particular, the Krobo Odumase area as part of that effort. This will help to avert the occurrence of such water supply challenges in the future. Furthermore, Mr Speaker, the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL) has been specifically tasked to coordinate with the respective road agencies to ensure that relocation of the pipelines is undertaken to forestall future interruptions in the delivery of water supply to Lower Manya Krobo as well as other communities. This work has commenced and it is expected that the matter would be resolved as soon as practicable. In the meantime, Mr Speaker, GWCL has made arrange- ments to provide tanker services to some areas in which the relocation is taking place, where disruptions have occurred. I thank you, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, I would like to know from the Hon Minister, while the problem persists, what are the immediate arrangement that have been put in place, especially, with the secondary schools we have in those area such as Manya Krobo Secondary School, Krobo Girls' Senior High School et cetera?
Mr Speaker, as I indicated, GWCL has made arrangement for tanker services to supply water to the various affected areas. It is my view that if the Hon Member of Parliament has priority areas to be tackled, I would forward these areas to the GWCL to make sure the tanker services deliver water to those areas. Thank you.
Mr Speaker, how many of those tankers have been deployed specifically to Lower Manya Krobo and its environs?
Mr Speaker, I cannot provide that answer immediately because I do not have a copy of the assessment Report on the number of tankers that have been purchased or hired to do that job.
Mr Speaker, on this note, I would like to inform the Hon Minister that, so far as I am concerned --
Hon Member, you would ask him questions. [Interruption.] Your right is to ask him questions and not to make a statement.
Mr Speaker, he did not provide me with the number of tankers.
Please, ask him questions. If he cannot provide an answer now, you may ask a specific question thereon. I believe you know what to do.
Mr Speaker, I thank you. I am all right.
Hon Minister, on that note -- An Hon Member -- rose --
Hon Members, this is a constituency-specific Question. We have certain agreed principles. On that note, Hon Minister, you are discharged. Question numbered 4 on the Order Paper -- The Hon Minister for Information could please take the appropriate seat. Hon Member for Kumbungu, I believe this is a Kumbungu affair?
No, Mr Speaker, this is a national issue.
Does it go beyond Kumbungu?
Mr Speaker, it goes beyond Kumbungu.
Thank you very much, indeed.
MINISTRY OF INFORMATION
Mr Speaker, Hon Ras Mubarak's question was about whether or not “the recent rehabilitation works at the Ministry building went through competitive tender and how much the Ministry spent in the rehabilitation work.” Mr Speaker, his question should properly be framed to read, “whether the ongoing -- [Uproar.]
Hon Minister, answer the Question as it is. Was there a competitive tendering? How much was spent?
Mr Speaker, I say this because the works are ongoing. [Uproar.]
Order! Order! What is not known? Tell us what is not known and what is unknown.
Mr Speaker, the rehabilitation works are still ongoing and no certificate has been tendered for payment so far. The state of the building Mr Speaker, the Ministry of Information building was in a terrible state due to several years of neglect, perhaps, this was underpinned by the merger of the Ministry and which saw the relocation of the civil servants and Ministers to the Ministry of Communication. The plumbing system was defective and electric cables were exposed dangerously. The paint on the building had altogether peeled off and there were structural deficiencies that needed fixing. Many louvre blades had broken and needed replacement. As aMinistry that hosts high profile public engagements, it basically mirrors the image of government. It was therefore obvious that it needed a massive facelift to make it habitable and to provide the congenial environment needed for serious work. Mr Speaker, we therefore took a decision to submit for the consideration of the Ministry of Finance, a budget for the rehabilitation of the building in the 2017 budget cycle. During the budget hearing of 2017 therefore, we made a case with the Ministry of Finance to allocate some money in the 2017, budget for the rehabilitation of the building. Fortunately, this was granted and an amount of GH¢2,025,500.00 captured in the 2017 Budget for the rehabilitation of the building was subsequently approved by Parliament with the passing of the Appropriation Act. Procurement procedure Mr Speaker, once the budget had been approved, the next logical steps were to follow procurement procedure for awarding contracts in order to get work started.
Yes, Hon Member?
Mr Speaker, when did the contractor begin work at the Ministry of Information and what is the extent of work done so far?
Hon Minister, did you please get the question?
Mr Speaker, the contractor moved to site immediately after the approval. So, this must have been towards the end of December, 2017. As we speak, a lot of the dilapidated bathrooms, wash hand bowls, et cetera, have been renovated. Rehabilitated of the electrical wiring is also ongoing. That is what I can say about the extent of work. The Contractor has been given up to six months to finish.
Mr Speaker, my question was in relation to the percentage of work done so far, how much work has the
That is a different question --
Mr Speaker, I do not know what percentage of work the contractor has done so far.
Mr Speaker, finally, when is the contractor expected to complete the work?
Mr Speaker, I said that he was given six months from January. So, by June, he should finish and hand it over. [Hear! Hear!]
Mr Speaker, may I find out from the Hon Minister for Information how much is provided in the 2018 Budget for the purpose of this project?
Mr Speaker, GH¢2 million has been approved in the 2018 budget for this work.
Mr Speaker, so it is GH¢2 million against GH¢1.1million. Can he explain why the figure in the budget is more than the contract figure?
Mr Speaker, I said in my submission that we argued for GH¢2 million as a rough estimate as at the time. That is what we thought would work, but when PWD came to do the assessment, they assessed it to cost GH¢1,475,000. That is the reason.
Hon Minister, thank you very much for attending to the House and answering our Questions. You are discharged. Hon Members, the Question listed as *285 is withdrawn. There is no Statement. At the Commencement of Public Business, item listed 6 -- Papers -- by the Hon Majority Leader and Minister for Parliamentary Affairs.
Mr Speaker, we can do the item listed as 6(a).
Hon Majority Leader, did you rise to lay the Paper?
Mr Speaker, I said that we can present the Paper listed as item number 6(a). Thereafter, we can lay 6(b).
Item listed as what?
Mr Speaker, 6(a).
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation will lay the document for the Hon Minister for Finance who is caught up in a very serious meeting.
Hon Minority Leader, the Hon Majority Leader is an Hon Minister. Do you have any difficulty?
Mr Speaker, he is making the application on behalf of an Hon Minister who is not present before this House. I do not find his explanation satisfactory. Where is the Hon Minister for Finance? Why must the Hon Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation lay the Paper? Is he not aware that he is to appear before this House and present this important Paper?
In Parliamentary parlance, when an Hon Minister is unavoidably absent, relevant persons act on his behalf. That is in daily use in the House of Commons.
Mr Speaker, I said to the House that the Hon Minister is in a meeting. That is what I said. Since he is asking for further and better particulars, the Hon Minister is in a meeting. Mr Speaker, except to add that, that meeting is holding him outside the jurisdiction.
Mr Speaker, I thought that he would find some umbrella space in your safety net of being unavoidably absent but if he says that he is in a meeting, is he suggesting that, the meeting is more important than appearing before Parliament?
Mr Speaker, because the Hon Minority Leader was looking directly at me, I thought that his ears were directly strained at me because I said to him that the Hon Minister is in a meeting outside the jurisdiction. Mr Speaker, that is further and better particulars.
Hon Majority Leader and Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, please, proceed and lay the Paper.
Mr Speaker, I asked the Hon Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation to do the laying on behalf of the Hon Minister for Finance.
Very well. Hon Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation, you may proceed. By the Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation (Dr A. A. Osei) (on behalf of the Minister for Finance) -- Loan Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Ghana and the African Develop- ment Fund for an amount not exceeding the equivalent of twenty- seven million, eight hundred and sixty-four thousand, seven hundred and fifty Units of Accounts (UA27,864,750) [equivalent to US$39.01 million] to finance the Savannah Zone Agricultural Productivity Improvement Project (SAPIP). Referred to the Finance Committee
Item numbered 7 -- First Reading of Bills-- (a) Ghana Cocoa Board (Amendment) Bill, 2017 -- Hon Attorney-General and Minister for Justice.
Mr Speaker, I rose early on but unfortunately, I did not attract your attention. In respect of item 6(b)I wanted to pray you to add the Leadership of the Committee on Agriculture to the Finance Committee for the consideration of the referral and report. Just the Leadership of the Committee on Agriculture --
So, Hon Majority Leader, are we proceeding to deal with this? I am sorry, I do not get you.
Mr Speaker, you referred the Paper that was laid in respect of the item numbered 6(b) to the Finance Committee and I urged that you add to that Committee, the Leadership of the Committee on Agriculture to consider that referral.
Very well. It is so added accordingly. Then item numbered 7(a) by the Hon Attorney-General and Minister for Justice?
Mr Speaker, again, I seek your indulgence to allow the Hon Minister responsible for Monitoring and Evaluation to lay the Paper on behalf of the Hon Attorney-General and Minister for Justice.
Hon Majority Leader, thank you very much. Any objection? Hon Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation?
BILLS -- FIRST READING
Item numbered 7(b)?
Are the two Hon Members standing at the same time?
Mr Speaker, the servant is not bigger than the master and so I will sit down.
Very well. Then let me hear the master.
Mr Speaker, I want to plead with you that the nature of the amendment is such that it would not have anything to do with the Hon Attorney- General and Minister for Justice. I would crave your indulgence to refer it to the leadership of the Committee on Agriculture and the Finance Committee.
Hon Member, that the leadership for the Committee on Agriculture and the Committee on Finance should be added? Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, respectfully, this has to do with the interpretation of “Minister” -- it is a legal issue. Indeed, I would understand that we add the leadership of the Committee on Agriculture because of the remit of the operation, but certainly it is a new interpretation that we are giving to “Minister”. The remit of the Minister may change and perhaps in the circumstance we should rather add the leadership of the Committee on Agriculture.
Do we agree or not? Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, thank you very much. Mr Speaker, we need to appreciate that both the Constitution and the Standing Orders of this House govern the process of introducing and presenting Bills to this House. Mr Speaker, in accordance with article 106, there is always a sponsor of the Bill. The sponsor for this purpose, as we have it dated 16th November, 2017, is Ms Gloria Akuffo, the Hon Attorney- General and Minister for Justice. Mr Speaker, so it is not for the Hon Minister who is laying the Paper on behalf of the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice to decide for us who the sponsor is, because there is a known sponsor. Mr Speaker, he is just standing in the stead of the Hon Minister to lay it and so whatever merits are in it would be examined. But at this stage, we should respect the Standing Orders and the Constitution on the First Reading of Bills and then the determination on which the Committee - - we know that it is a policy issue. Who supervises COCOBOD? There is a policy shift which is long overdue; this should have been done at the start of this government, but they are welcome and I would follow --
Hon Minority Leader, but you know that by the practice of this Honourable House, we do not have the power to do substitution as by law, but we have the power to add so as to ensure efficacy. In fact, I do not believe that if the Hon Member is so inclined to do, then an Attorney-General and Minister for Justice who is present in the House would direct this House that nobody from any other Ministry would be allowed to participate because he or she presented the Bill. I would never rule in that regard on behalf of such an Attorney-General and Minister for Justice if this Honourable House so thinks. So, I just want the inclination of the House and I would proceed accordingly. If the House thinks that the Hon Chairmen of either the Committee on Agriculture and any other Committee would help in an issue, then so be it. Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, as I have already indicated, COCOBOD used to be under the Ministry of Finance. Mr Speaker, that itself was an arrangement that was not really backed by the operative law. Now, the proper thing is being done by situating it within the ambit of the Ministry of Agriculture, but because it relates to Interpretation, the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice is sponsoring it. That is why I said that we should just add the leadership of the Committee on Agriculture to the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs. Mr Speaker, that is where we are and I would pray that you give that direction.
Mr Speaker, I see the Hon Chairman of the Committee on Finance on his feet while I am on my feet. [Laughter.] Mr Speaker, if he is on a point of order then I would yield to him. Mr Speaker, so you could give the direction and I believe that we could go on.
Mr Speaker, I have no objection to the Hon Leader's proposition. However, COCOBOD has never been under the Ministry of Finance and the law is very clear. The law mentions that the Hon Minister for Trade and Industry, but people speculate that the previous Hon Ministers for Finance hijacked the position. However, when the law is the law then nobody could do that. Mr Speaker, but the change in policy reflects the proper way to go. The law sets the way right now but the law is the law and it has never changed.
Mr Speaker, in view of the intervention by the Hon Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation, which suggests that the Ministry of Finance had nothing to do with cocoa in the past, then I believe that we should just add the leadership of the Committee on Agriculture so that the Committee on Finance would stay away from this; because the Committee on Finance has no business. [Interruption] Mr Speaker, no, he did it earlier.
If no application has been made then you may make it.
Mr Speaker, I would go along with what the Hon Majority Leader has said so that the leadership of the Committee on Agriculture would join the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs.
Any objection? Hon Members, the leadership of the Committee on Agriculture is joined accordingly. Hon Members, item numbered 7(b) -- Land Bill, 2018. Hon Minister for Lands and Natural Resources. Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, again, in doing that, the Hon Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation would do that on behalf of the Minister.
Thank you. I supposed there is no objection. Hon Minister?
BILLS -- FIRST READING
Item numbered 8, the final debate on the President's State of the Nation Address. This is for the Leadership to conclude, and we have half an hour for each. By my clock and not any other clock, the time is quarter to noon.
[Resumption of debate from Friday, 23/02/2018.]
Mr Speaker, let me thank you for the opportunity to join Hon Colleagues in thanking H. E. the President of the Republic of Ghana, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo for the Message on the State of the Nation, which he delivered to Parliament on Thursday, 8th February, 2018. [Interruption.] Mr Speaker, I thank the Hon Majority Leader, but I would still speak from here.
Hon Minority Leader, please, proceed.
Mr Speaker, I thank President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo- Addo, that at least, he obliged, as a country governed by law, and appeared before this august House. I have heard Leaders of this House speak, it was not just in compliance with article 67 of the Constitution but also article 36. We need to read both together so that we understand what should be part of the message of the President; the management of the economy, matters of promoting economic and social development; the pursuit of our national development goals. Mr Speaker, however, in doing so, let me refer to the second paragraph of the President's Address. He stated, “A year ago …” A year ago, he appeared before this House with very lousy promises of a train starting from Takoradi to Paga. I expected that he would arrive in this House on board the particular train, but work has not started. That did not happen. He said some work would start, but it did not start. Mr Speaker, he promised Hon Members of Parliament under his flagship programme of US$1 million per constituency at the exchange rate of GH¢4.2. You could calculate it with Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, the Vice-President's exchange rate and not the normal prevailing rate of GH¢4.5. It would mean that every constituency in Ghana deserves an expenditure of GH¢4.2 million. That did not happen; that would not happen but that has been promised again. How to finance it, we leave the answer to the President, but we know that constituencies require development so that Hon Members could look good and positive to ask for renewal of their mandate. A major promise that was made has also not been honoured or fulfilled. Mr Speaker, more importantly, the President paints a picture that the economy was in a mess as if the composure of the economy today is good. It is not; the composure of the Ghanaian economy is not good. We are still high risked in terms of debt and its management. But Mr Speaker, what is intriguing is -- And I am holding the Manifesto of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) which is titled -- “Change, an Agenda for Jobs, Creating Prosperity and Equal Opportunity for All, 2016”. Mr Speaker, this is what the NPP promised, and I quote with your permission. They promised to build: “A viable, strong economy.” But more importantly, the real record of the NPP would be to grow the economy. In its 2018 Budget Statement to Parliament House, these are the growth rates that the NPP Government projected: 6.8 per cent in 2018; 7.3 per cent in 2019; 5.6 per cent in 2020 and 5.3 per cent in 2021. Where is the promise of the double digit growth of the economy that is in their Manifesto? So, even as we go into 2019, 2020 and 2021, they are already promising the people of Ghana a declining growth of the economy against the pledge and promise they made in their Manifesto jof a double digit growth. We would ensure that the growth is socially responsible, diversified and spread over various sectors. Mr Speaker, these were their words, and your permission, I am quoting from the NPP Manifesto: “Our goal inter alia is to achieve double digit GDP growth annually for the next four years.” Mr Speaker, I am holding the Budget Statement here, page 163, you might want to go at it. Double digit growth for four years -- We are in the second year of their four years, but projections into 2020 and 2021 are all about declining growths.
The Hon First Deputy Speaker to take the Chair.
MR FIRST DEPUTY SPEAKER
Hon Minority Leader, you may continue.
Mr Speaker, so if I need injury time, I would not hesitate to come to you to accommodate for the one or two minutes where you got -- [Laughter.]
Hon Minority Leader, you would notice that over here, there is a stop watch. So when you stop the watch stops.
Mr Speaker, the 30 minutes would be adequate. Mr Speaker, now on governance. I think on that, the President was reassuring when he recognised the contribution of the august House, this particular Parliament, in terms of our sacrifices over 2017 and others -- the workload that we have been able to do. Thanks to Mr Speaker, the Deputy Speakers, Leadership and the Clerks -- we have done well. But Mr Speaker, I was about to quote page 8 of the President's presentation and I with your kind permission quote: “My discussion with the nation's political leaders including the former Presidents of the Republic convinced me that it is a step we must take.” Mr Speaker, which step? It is a critical step; it is about direct election of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives on a partisan basis. Mr Speaker, when the President got to this particular point, he said that “Resourceful Minister for Local Government” -- She has to bring some of the resources to guide the President in this. Mr Speaker, the President quoted article 55 of the Constitution. The constitutional impediment in this article, which is an entrenched clause, must therefore be removed. We would support the President for the amendment to article 55. But Mr Speaker, I wish to take this opportunity to remind the President that article 55 alone would not be adequate to address the matter of ensuring that District and Municipal Chief Executives are elected and not appointed. Therefore, in addition to article 55, we would naturally and imperatively have to amend article 243 (1) and with your indulgence, I quote: “There shall be a District Chief Executive for every district who shall be appointed by the President with the prior approval of not less than two-thirds majority of members of the Assembly present and voting at the meeting.” Mr Speaker, so the resourceful Minister for Local Government must guide the President as well as the President's key advisor on decentralisation policy. We need to marry the two. I anticipate that the President contemplates that election to Municipal and District Assemblies should be on partisan basis. That is why article 55(3) should be amended. But article 243 (1) provides for an appointment. Therefore, an amendment to 55 alone, in my view, would be constitutionally inadequate, legally untenable, if we do not do something about article 243 (1), which provides for an appointment of Municipal, District Chief Executives. We look forward to those constitutional processes. Mr Speaker, the President, at some point, would determine a penalty. He is a referee; he scores a penalty and says, “praise me”. The President said that when it comes to the statutory funds, namely District Assemblies' Common Fund, GetFund -- He used the words, “we are up to date”. Up to date when they have the Health Insurance Service Providers Association of Ghana (HISPAG) threatening to go back on cash and carry? As early as February, 13, 2018, HISPAG threatened that they are owed 20 months arrears. So up to date, minus the 20 months' arrears owed HISPAG, the President must find resources to compensate for the payment of those deserving workers of the Health Insurance Service Providers Association of Ghana. So to say that “they are up to date”, when they have accumulated arrears they have not retired or paid, is to beg the issue. We expect the President to have been more candid on this particular matter. Mr Speaker, more importantly, this government is very good and smart at it. They set their own questions, mark them, and declare their own success. District Assemblies, Common Fund, as of 2016 stood at GH¢2,013,900,000. The GetFund stood at GH¢1,497,000,000. GetFund was GH¢1,000,000,021 and they came to Parliament with what they call “capping”. Capping means a reduction to the accumulation and the dedication to those funds. For instance, GetFund would have got Gh¢1billion but they gave them only GH¢ 790,000 and they say they have done well, so they should be marked well for they are up to date.
Up to date with what? They have capped and this means that they have reduced the threshold of the allocation to the statutory fund. Any other person could have done that. Mr Speaker, with a reduced threshold, there is less obligation to pay. And even with that, they are not up to date. So we remind the President that he is not up to date. For instance, in respect of 2017/2018 District Assemblies Common Fund, out of GHc1,575,688,000 was released as of September. Mr Speaker, it is important that the President is reminded that we are not up to date on the payment of statutory funds with regard to the District Assemblies Common Fund, National Health Insurance Fund and GetFund. They are in distress and they require additional resources to be able to manage the issues. Mr Speaker, again, on governance, as we speak today, we are told that there would be a referendum, maybe, somewhere in September. We are again reminded that District Assembly Elections would be held in September. The independent Electoral Commission is almost at a halt in its operations. We need to get the Committee working on the Electoral Commission to work timeously, because we need to work to improve the database of the Electoral Commission for the conduct of the District Assembly Elections and the Referendum and more importantly, to prepare the country for the 2020 Presidential and Parliamentary Elections. What is happening now with the probe? Justifiably, the President has done what is right within the Constitution, but we need to bring closure to the matter so that the independent Electoral Commission would begin to prepare the country for the purpose -- Even with voter registration exercise for 2017/2018, there is no activity. How can there be an activity with the kind of distress which is going on there? Mr Speaker, significant in the President's presentation was the management of debts. He was emphatic when he said that they have dealt with matters relating to the energy sector and the debts that he inherited. Indeed, when he said that the economy was in a mess, he painted a picture as if he did not inherit any good from the National Demoratic Congress (NDC) and the former President Mahama's Administration. That is the notion. When he says, for instance, and I beg to quote: “I am also pleased to report that the 3 year IMF-supported Extended Credit Facility Programme which began in 2015…” Let him be reminded; it is no longer three years. It is a four-year extended programme, from 2015 to 2018. Beyond the three years, they added one more year. We must ask ourselves whether we have achieved the fiscal consolidation measures we promised. The other day, the President, backed by other heads of state, including President Ouattara of Ivory Coast, was here to promise us the Eco. Does Prof Gyan-Baffour remember when he was here with the Eco and the role he played in it? We simply could not meet the convergence criteria. So it is not a question of declaring 2020 -- It is to manage the economy such that we can meet the minimum requirement. As a percentage of GDP, consistent growth in the GDP, inflation as a variable and many other issues including international reserve -- So just a promise is not enough. Mr Speaker, as I said, as for promises, there are as many of them as there are opinions. So when they promise that they would pay teachers allowances, nurses allowances, agriculture extension officers of Youth Employment, their allowances all of them today stand in arrears. They should take steps to pay them. All those allowances stand in arrears. And even that, they are using Statutory Funds to pay. That is easy economic management. But that is not the issue; they should pay them. The young people who have been the field for seven months now have not been paid. So, it is better to be sincere sometimes than to accept to do what you cannot do. If they said they would pay, they should pay them. Mr Speaker, I raised a significant issue about the retirement of debts, and the President said, with your permission, I beg to quote: “We would have to implement some tough, prudent and innovative policies to get us out of the financial coup de sac.” Mr Speaker, may I remind the President that we are not out of the financial coup de sac. That is why we are still in the IMF Programme.
“. . . Our economists have found imaginative ways to deal with the oppressive debt situation. This has brought some relief, and the annual debt accumulation. . .” Mr Speaker, the President must recognise and praise the NDC Government for it. I would quote from the Budget Statement of 2018, page 33 on Energy Sector Levies, what the Hon Minister for Finance said about the management of the energy related debt. They should not paint a picture as if nothing good came out of the NDC Government and that they did not inherit anything useful and beneficial from former President John Dramani Mahama. That is what the Hon Minister for Finance said about the ESLA.
“Mr Speaker, prior to passing the Energy Sector Levies Act, 2015…” In 2015, was it the NPP Government which was in power? --
It was the NDC Government. He continued and I beg to quote: “…Energy Sector State Owned Enterprises including Tema Oil Refinery (TOR), Volta River Authority (VRA), Ghana Grid Company (GRIDCO) and the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG), struggled to effectively manage their legacy debts. That was what compelled us to introduce the ESLA. That innovation is not theirs; it was instituted by former President Mahama and the NDC Government.
None We have entered the second year, no show or little show because there is no financing. They must find out the very reasons the private sector itself is not interested in those projects. Maybe, due to non-availability of raw materials or lack of proximity to market and then incomes. If you go to Bunkpurugu Yunyoo and Zabzugu and set up a factory, will the incomes there sustain the factory? So, a private sector person would be advised what to do and what not to do in that particular area. So, Mr Speaker, we would want to thank the President but he must recognise that he inherited strong and viable institutions from President Mahama and the NDC. That is why Government is a continuum. But when the President comes and paints a picture -- The Auditor-General's Report from 2001 to 2008 -- They were in Government. From 2009 to 2016, the NDC was in Government. We have had leakages of the Auditor-General's Report, and I believe that we should support the President in unanimity to find an answer to getting a commercial court set up by Her Ladyship the Chief Justice in order to deal with those issues. Mr Speaker, let me now conclude on taxes and job creation. Again, the President, in praising his Hon Minister for Employment and Labour Relations, my successor Hon Minister, said that GH¢3 billion has been transferred. Mr Speaker, it was transferred because I had the rare privilege to be at the Ministry and worked out the roadmap with the 12 workers unions on the management of the second tier pension. Mr Speaker, there are larger issues of pension, so, it is not a success for the NPP Government and Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo. I supervised and signed it. Dr Bampoe is the chairperson of the group. You can find out. Beyond that, Mr Speaker, there is a problem with pensions in Ghana. That is what the President must focus his attention on. Mr Speaker, the problem is unification of pensions. The security services, particularly the Ghana Armed Forces - The most deprived is the Ghana Prisons Service. They are dying because we have not worked out a good pension package for them. The Hon Minister for Finance must be interested in pension unification. Indeed, as we speak, State Attorneys still have problems with their pension. Reconciling Cap 30 with the Pensions Act is still a problem, but they can take credit and have it that they have released the money from the second tier pension schme. I recall when we said the money was at the Bank of Ghana for the second tier, the Hon Deputy Minister for Finance said no, there was no money. Where did they get money to pay it? There was money in the account. Mr Speaker, in conclusion, the President also spoke about determination of minimum wage and public sector wages -- I do not want an individual credit. The credit is in the Public Financial Management Act (PFMA), that as the Hon Minister for Employment and Labour Relations, we ensured the minimum wage and public sector wages 2014, 2015 and 2016 were all determined before the reading of the Budget Statememt. This is not the first time they are doing it. They can check the record and the PFMA. Indeed, in the PFMA, we said by April, we must finish negotiations on the public sector wages. [Interruption.] Was the PFMA enacted by them.
Hon Minority Leader, your time is up so please wind up.
Mr Speaker, I have five minutes to conclude. The Hon Majority Leader is enjoying the debate. [Hear! Hear!] He is relishing the opportunities as he sit here.
Just be informed that you have exhausted your 30 minutes. Wind up.
Mr Speaker, I would conclude on an important matter on which the President needs the support and assurance of the Ghanaian people. Mr Speaker, it is the President's courage to introduce, for the first time in our country's history, a Special Prosecutor under the mandate of the Hon Attorney-General and Minister for Justice to stop leakages and slippages and in fighting corruption as the appointee who appeared before your Committee assured us. Mr Speaker, we can assure the President that on this matter, he can count on our whole-hearted support to make corruption a high-risk activity and to punish it. I expect that the Hon Martin Amidu comes to the Office with integrity. We expect that the President would introduce the Right to Information Bill, but I expect that this country, given the character of Mr Martin Amidu, would benefit from what I call “a corruption savings dividends”. I believe he has our national support; we must all support him. Mr Speaker, I am told by the American Institute for Administration that fighting corruption is not just the legal fixes. We need to get our institutional mechanisms right. Mr Speaker, on that note, I would like to conclude. When we have a President who demonises and bastardises sole sourcing, and comes to this House and says 56 per cent of projects was done through sole sourcing -- After all, it is lawful but in the Budget Statement, they said they would be strict about that. Mr Speaker, again, the Hon Minister did not help the President. All he did was to add up those projects that were rejected and say GH¢800 million has been saved. What kind of arithmetic is that? They must execute the project at a lower cost to make savings for value for money, not just pick up the additions and say they have saved money. After all, they have come to recognise that there can be expediency and compelling exigencies that allow for sole sourcing, and that it was lawful yesterday, today and tomorrow. They are using it as a tool, but have to ensure value for money. Mr Speaker, I would like to thank the President. We have achieved 25 years of a stable, strong and peaceful democratic governance. We have become a beacon of hope in many other parts of the world. We should keep it up and build a stronger Parliament that would help to support with the review of our Standing Orders. We expect to have a more viable Parliament that makes government accountable. Mr Speaker, my regrets have been that, over the years, parliamentary oversight in Ghanahas remained a function of the political opposition. We need to correct it.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity. Mr Speaker, as you all do know, the obligation of the President to come to Parliament to deliver a Message on the State of the Nation is captured under article 67 of the 1992 Republican Constitution. Mr Speaker, a Session of Parliament begins in January on account of the birth of a Parliament of the Fourth Republic on January 7. Mr Speaker, the state of the nation is the situation in which the nation finds itself at any given time, the circumstances of the State. That is what the President comes to deliver to us. The President would usually set out his vision into the ensuing year. Then, Mr Speaker, we expect the work programme of the Government to take a cue from the vision expressed by the President and to give expression to the vision that the President would have expressed in the State of the Nation Address. Mr Speaker, until November, 1998, when the late Hon Baah Wiredu agitated the minds of this Parliament, that indeed we seem to have inverted the chronology of events and that we were not going according to the constitutional imperatives, the State of the Nation Addresses had always been presented to us in January, and then the Budget Statement would follow because the Budget Statement would derive its strength from the State of the Nation Address. Unfortunately, when we started complying with the constitutional imperative, we have a situation where the Budget Statement is presented, and thereafter, the State of the Nation Address follows. Really it should be the other way round. Mr Speaker, article 67 of the Constitution is entrenched, but the article on the presentation of the Budget Statement is non-entrenched. So, I would want to believe that as a House, we would sit down and sort this chronology out. Otherwise, we would always have the cart before the horse -- [Interruption] -- Mr Speaker, I believe that would be the proper thing to do. Mr Speaker, the contents of such an address, the Message on the State of the Nation, is captured in article 34 (2), and, Mr Speaker, with your indulgence, I may want to quote article 34 (2). It provides: “The President shall report to Parliament at least once a year all the steps taken to ensure the realisation of the policy objectives contained in this Chapter; and, in particular, the realisation of basic human rights, a heathy economy, the right to work, the right to good health care and the right to education.” Mr Speaker, appropriately, therefore, any analysis, any critique of the President's Message should be benchmarked on the contents of Chapter six of the Constitution. Mr Speaker, at the very outset, the President acknowledged the collaborative effort of Parliament in partnering his Administration, by having extra Sittings to pass relevant pieces of legislations. In particular, he mentioned the five flagship programmes, namely the Zongo Development Fund, the Northern Belt Development Authority Fund, the Middle Belt Development Authority Fund, the Coastal Belt Development Fund and the Office of the Special Prosecutor. Mr Speaker, this is the President who is the product of this House and who has not forgotten the contributions of Parliament to national development. He rose to the occasion by paying glowing tribute to Parliament. And this House should be proud of such acknowledge- ment. Mr Speaker, the next issue addressed by the President was the health of the economy. In his last Message on the State of the Nation, President John Dramani Mahama coined a hyphenated word, “evidence- based”, to describe his effort in various areas of national endeavour. The President then, among other things, related to five piglets that he had given to a peasant farmer upcountry, as a testimony of which the State had to pay for the woman's transportation from upcountry to Accra, provide her with hotel accommodation for four days, provide food for her and took her on days of excursion. Mr Speaker, that, indeed, satisfies the evidence-based Message on the State of the Nation. The President of the Republic today, resorted to economic indicators GDP growth rate, inflation, interest rates, international reserves, reduction in fiscal deficit, reduction in debt to GDP ratio, consumer and business confidence, relative exchange rate stability, payment of accumulated arrears in statutory obligations and many others -- to underscore the fact that the economy is experiencing a turnaround, even when he admitted that we are not out of the woods yet. Mr Speaker, unless anybody would suggest different figures from what the President churned out -- and the President based his own on the figures given by the Ghana Statistical Service -- then clearly, as the President said, the macroeconomic indicators and fundamentals today, comparatively, are solid. Also, other critical indices point in the right direction for us as a country. Mr Speaker, he was blunt in his declaration that the country he inherited was in economic mess. An economy that was in distress, choked by debt -- And with your permission, I quote the President's words: “an economy that was in distress, chocked by debt and with macroeconomic fundamentals in disarray.” I know the blunt statement by the President has irked many Hon Members on the other side. But what are the facts? It is true that for the first time, adding proceeds to the national kitty increased our GDP growth rate to 14.4 per cent. Mr Speaker, that was in 2011. Since then, economic growth has taken a nose- dive. In 2012, the GDP growth rate registered 9.3 per cent; in 2013, 7.3 per cent; in 2014, 4.0 per cent; in 2015, 3.8 per cent and worse of all, in 2016, 3.6 per cent. Mr Speaker, within just one year, the GDP growth rate has bounced back and more than doubled to the provisional figure of 7.9 per cent. That is 119 per cent turnaround. [Hear! Hear!] As the President said, indications are that it would be better this year.
Of course, we had oil in late 2010 and then it registered in 2011—Mr Speaker, I say to us that we have had oil with us since 2011, yet not between one year and the next have we managed to grow the economy by 100 per cent. So the 119 per cent is -- [Interruption.] -- Mr Speaker, my Hon Colleagues do not even understand what I am saying because Hon Mutawakilu says that we grew by 14.4 per cent. That is not the issue that I raised. Mr Speaker, people should be grateful and recognise the better economic managers of this country. Mr Speaker, as the President has assured, inflation has descended down from 16.5 per cent in December, 2016, to less than 12 per cent now. The interest rate is cascading downhill. Mr Speaker, international reserves have increased both in gross and net terms. Mr Speaker, Government has paid about 15 per cent of the inherited arrears and statutory obligations and reduced fiscal deficit from 9.3 per cent to 5.6 per cent in just one year. Mr Speaker, what else can Ghanaians wish for? As far as the economy is concerned, it is much healthier today than it was in 2016. The President was candid with us when he said, and with your permission, I quote the President: “Mr Speaker, I do not suggest in any way that these headline grabbing figures mean we are anywhere near resolving our economic problems.” Mr Speaker, article 35(2) of the Constitution provides that the President of the State shall take measures to protect and safeguard the territorial integrity of Ghana among others. The President has succeeded in doing this in a very profound manner by bringing his own Attorney-General and former Minister for Justice, Hon Ms Gloria Akuffo, together with Mrs Marietta Brew Appiah-Oppong, the former Attorney-General, to fight to salvage what is truly Ghana's. In a case that went to the International Court of Arbitration, Ghana succeeded and the President, by that singular act, succeeded in protecting and safeguarding the territorial integrity of this country. Mr Speaker, article 35 (8) of the 1992 Constitution deals with what is required to nip corruption in the bud. It provides: “The State shall take steps to eradicate corrupt practices and the abuse of power.” We all know the ravages of corruption as the Hon Minority Leader alluded to. Above all, it impedes development and impoverishes the generality of our citizenry. To fight it as a people, we have given ourselves the Public Procurement Act Authority (PPA). The Hon Minority Leader was quick to claim credit for whichever Acts the previous Administration passed, yet he was not candid enough to acknowledge that the PPA was also crafted under former President Kufuor. He should acknowledge that. Mr Speaker, one of the central issues that the PPA Act was to confront is sole- sourcing and restrictive tendering as methods of procurement. About 80 per cent of all public expenditures in Ghana, excluding the amount set aside to service our debts and amounts for personnel emoluments, go into procurement of goods and services. That is why we should be concerned as a country with procurement. Wherever there is sole-sourcing and restrictive tendering, even though we admit that they are legal, we must raise red flags. This is because as we all know, some public officials somewhere want to clout issues by not being open and transparent. That is why we should all be concerned. Mr Speaker, as a Nigerian friend of mine told me some time ago, in methods of sole- sourcing, the more you look, the less you see. So, it is imperative for us to be concerned if a regime is so much tolerant of sole-sourcing and restrictive tendering. Those of us here as Members of Parliament (MP) might not benefit; yet, when the political class is maligned, we all suffer the consequences. That is why we should be concerned. Mr Speaker, it is the reason the nation should have course to celebrate the stunning figures given by the President, when he said that in 2016, PPA had 622 sole-source requests, and 597 of that number, that is 98 per cent, were approved. There were 592 requests made for restricted tenders and 587, that is 99.15 per cent, were approved. We should all be concerned. In 2017, 394 sole-sourcing requests were made, and 223, that is 56.6 per cent were approved. That is a significant reduction. It does not mean that we should go to sleep. There were 346 requests for restricted tenders, out of which 167, that is 48 per cent, were approved and 179, representing 52 per cent, were rejected. The President said that in the process, we made about GH¢800 million. Mr Speaker, certainly this effort is commendable and must be sustained. As a House, we must urge the President that next year, when he appears before us, the figures should still go down significantly. The nation would move forward if we go on that path. The Office of the Special Prosecutor has been established against spirited efforts to abort the foetus. Last Friday, the President swore the first officer of that Office, Mr Martin Amidu, into office. One can only wish him well and hope that he does not disappoint the nation. Mr Speaker, there is so much belief, trust and goodwill. Let him begin in earnest. Our hope is that the officer would live up to his responsibilities and help this nation to fight corruption with bare knuckles. I trust that next year, by the time we come to debate the next Message of the State of the Nation, the Right to Information Bill would be passed. This would provide the relevant assistance to dealing a decisive blow to the canker. Mr Speaker, article 34 (2) again provides the right of the citizen to work.
“…higher education shall be made equally accessible to all, on the basis of capacity, by every appropriate means, and in particular, by progressive introduction of free education” So, we are talking about three stages of the implementation of free education -- first at the basic level. The next stage of implementation is at the secondary school level; and the next stage is at the tertiary level. That is the language of article 25 (1) (a), (b) and (c). Mr Speaker, the President accounted to this nation when he said that we have doubled capitation grant at the basic level. In 2011, after two years in office, the NDC, under the late Professor Mills, increased the capitation grant by 50 per cent, that was from GH¢ 3 to GH¢ 4.50p per child. Mr Speaker, in one President Akufo- Addo year has doubled the capitation grant by 100 per cent. [Hear! Hear!.] He has implemented the free senior high school education which has enabled more than 90,000 more students to gain access to senior high school education in 2007 than they did was in 2016. Mr Speaker, the Akans say that se wo nyi m'aye a m'ensei medin. To wit, ‘'if you cannot praise me for my prowess, do not defame me''. When we see a cow, we should appropriately describe what we have seen as a cow. If we see a sheep, we should call it a sheep; if we see a pig, we should call it a pig. I cannot just understand this. Mr Speaker, in the meantime, nursing training allowance has also been restored; Health Insurance Scheme which was comatose has now left the intensive care unit -- It is picking up. Government is responding to the constitutional imperative on the right to good health care. Mr Speaker, agriculture has been revived and the prices of foodstuff in the market attest to the effort of Government. The Planting for Food and Jobs Programme is yielding positive dividends. I would want to believe that my Hon Sister, Felicia Adjei who is the Hon Member for Kintampo South is listening. From Babatokuma through Kintampo, Techiman, Kumasi, Ejisu, Duaponpon, Atwedie down to Accra, foodstuff sellers would tell us that the prices of food-stuffs have fallen by more than 100 per cent in just over a year. Mr Speaker, that could only be good for families, but we must at the same time ensure that the farmers receive commensurate recompense to motivate them to produce more, and at the same time, ensure that the raw materials to feed the factories do not become too expensive. Mr Speaker, the One Village One Dam project would take off in earnest this year -- the Hon Minority Leader would want to know when it would take off. The 50 per cent subsidy on fertilizer is availing the resource to farmers in sufficient quantities, unlike the almost free fertilizer programme of the former President John Dramani Mahama's era, which even though was a very good policy on paper, sent huge quantities of fertilizers meant for local farmers across the borders to neighbouring countries to the detriment of our farmers.
Hon Majority Leader -- Hon Member, kindly resume your seat; you do not interfere with your Hon Leaders. Hon Majority Leader, I just wanted to inform you that you have exhausted your 30 minutes, so, please, wind up.
Mr Speaker, I would conclude very soon, except to put it on record that the Hon Minority Leader spoke for 33 minutes, 41 seconds. Mr Speaker, it is important at this stage to remind ourselves of the words in the composition of the venerable musicologist, Mr Ephraim Amu, who said, and I beg to translate the words in his lyrics: “this is our land, it is an invaluable treasure to us. Blood was shed to secure and protect it. It is now the turn of you and I to continue on that path. Dishonesty, lies, propaganda and selfishness have wreak havoc on our national life and love for country has been completely lost.” We should learn useful lessons from Mr Ephraim Amu. Mr Speaker, the NPP Government is making history by adding value to our national development agenda and the citizens are living witnesses. Mr Speaker, the exfoliating EC-2 propagandists insist they have not seen anything. That is excusable because when sunshine is introduced to people who have lived in the dark for a very long time, they could be rendered blind. And that explains the cacophony that we are witnessing as a nation today. Question put and Motion agreed to. Resolved: That this Honourable House thanks H. E. the President for the Message on the State of the Nation which he delivered to Parliament on Thursday, 8th February, 2018.
Hon Members, Mr Speaker would convey the gratitude of the House to the President in accordance with Order 58 of the Standing Orders.
Mr Speaker, I believe we can take the Motion listed as item number 9. And I may want to seek your indulgence to have the Hon Deputy Minister for Finance, Hon Kwaku Agyeman Kwarteng, to move the Motion on behalf of the Hon Minister.
Very well. Hon Members, Motion listed as item number 9?
BILLS -- SECOND READING
Mr Speaker, I do not know if the Hon Deputy Minister has a different Order Paper than mine. He said the Motion was on page 4 of the Order Paper. This item is on page 3 —
Hon Minister, please, speak through your microphone. Hon Deputy Minister, please, proceed.
Mr Speaker, in doing so, with your permission, I would like to say that investments across borders are on the rise and therefore, some tax obligations have also acquired cross- border character. With it is its attendant challenge tax evasion. Mr Speaker, one way to address the phenomenon of people doing business across borders, evading the taxes they ought to pay globally is for tax authorities to work together. Fortunately, Ghana is a member of the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information. Accordingly, we have signed the multilateral competent authority agreement. This provides for the automatic exchange of financial account information from 2018 with other participating jurisdictions. Mr Speaker, I have to state that this Bill, therefore implements the common reporting standard by imposing on financial institutions an obligation to report information regarding the financial account of reportable individuals or entities to the Ghana Revenue Authority after conduct of due diligence with respect to those accounts. Mr Speaker, what this Bill therefore seeks to do is to create a framework within which this exchange of information would happen in an orderly and properly regulated way. It is therefore my view, that given that this automatic exchange of information ought to begin in 2018, this House should pass this into law so that we can exchange this information in accordance with law. Mr Speaker, with this, I thank you for the opportunity.
Very well. The Hon Chairman of the Committee would now present the Report of the Committee.
Mr Speaker, I beg to associate myself with the Motion and speak to sections of the Report of the Committee. Introduction The Standard for Automatic Exchange of Financial Account Information Bill, 2017, was first presented to Parliament and read the First time on 29th November, 2017. Mr Speaker referred the Bill to the Finance Committee for consideration and report in accordance with the 1992 Constitution and the Standing Orders of Parliament The Committee met with a Deputy Minister for Finance, Hon Abena Osei Asare, and a team of officials from the Ministry of Finance, Ghana Revenue Authority and Attorney-General's Department. Reference documents The Committee referred to the following documents in order to consider the Bill: 1. 1992 Constitution; and 2. The Standing Orders of Parliament. Background The world is increasingly becoming globalised and therefore making it easier for taxpayers to make, hold and manage investments through financial institutions outside of their countries of residence. To this extent, taxpayers fail to comply with their tax obligations at home. A number of them also keep vast amounts of money offshore just to avoid payment of tax. The offshore tax evasion has become a serious problem for countries all over the world. As a result, countries have come together to help address this problem. Key to this fight is the need to improve transparency and exchange of information. Thus, the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for tax purposes, of which Ghana is a Member, has developed the Common Reporting Standard as a new global standard for the exchange of tax information. This model allows participating countries to automatically exchange financial account information with their exchange partners. In fulfilment of our international obligations as a member of the Global Forum on transparency and Exchange of Information for tax purposes, Ghana signed on the Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement (MCAA) on 14th May, 2015. The MCAA requires Ghana to automatically exchange financial account information from the year 2018 with other participating countries. It is in accordance with article 75 of the Constitution that this Bill has been presented to Parliament for the House to ratify the MCAA and to put in place the necessary legal framework to collect the relevant information as per the Agreement. Object of the Bill The object of the Bill is to provide a legal framework for the implementation of the Common Reporting Standard approved by the Council of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) on 15th July, 2015. Structure of the Bill The Bill has 22 clauses: Clause 1 sets out the purpose of the Bill, which is to impose on financial institutions an obligation to report information regarding the financial accounts of reportable individuals or entities to the Ghana Revenue Authority and conduct due diligence with respect to the accounts. Clause 2 provides for the application of the Bill.
Hon Chairman of the Committee, I did not hear you second the Motion.
Mr Speaker, Standing Order 81 provides that: “Unless otherwise provided in these Orders, every motion unless made at the Second Reading or Consideration Stage of a Bill, must be seconded, and if not seconded shall not be debated or entered in the Votes and Proceedings.” Mr Speaker, respectfully, at the second reading of a Bill, we do not second the Motion. Thank you.
Hon Chairman of the Committee, you are right. Mr Iddrisu — rose --
Yes, Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I do know that you would appreciate other Hon Members contributing to the Second Reading of this important Bill. But I have some preliminary concerns I would want to raise. I am well and fine with the principle and content of the Report. Indeed, I had the rare privilege to lead Ghana's delegation to get Ghana formerly admitted into the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) on behalf of the former Minister for Finance, Mr Seth Terkper, supported then by Ambassador Swanika, a lady Ambassador who was there. So, I can appreciate the cross- cutting benefit that the country would have. Mr Speaker, but my preliminary objection -- the Hon Chairman of the Committee may want to explain it to my satisfaction. Paragraph 5 (1) of the Committee's Report -- Rationale for the Bill. Mr Speaker, with your permission, I quote that paragraph for emphasis: “She indicated that the request for ratification is coming under Article 75 (2) (a) in order to put in place a legal framework required under the MCAA to collect the relevant information.” Mr Speaker, that leads me to page 2 -- another preliminary observation for the Hon Chairman of the Committee to explain. I beg to read again: “It is in accordance with article 75 of the Constitution that this bill has been presented to Parliament ….” Mr Speaker, article 75 as I understand it is for the purpose of international ratification. It indicates again, even though it is the power of Parliament to ratify, the words used there says, and I beg to read: “75. (1) The President may execute or cause to be executed treaties, agreements or conventions in the name of Ghana. (2) A treaty, agreement or convention executed by or under the authority of the President shall be subject to ratification by -- (a) Act of Parliament; or (b) a resolution of Parliament ...” Mr Speaker, I am at a loss whether, first of all, Ghana ratified this particular Treaty, and subsequently, after the President executed it, Parliament did same to give meaning to it. Mr Speaker, if you take the Bill which we are all reading, I find the clauses and subclauses too clumsy to meet the requirements of your Standing Order in terms of headnote and clause by clause provision -- even the preamble. Mr Speaker, Bills are introduced into this House under article 106 of the Constitution. For my understanding, it is not article 75 as it appears in the Committee's Report. I can take you to some worrying pages -- Pages 97 through to 101 of this Bill does not meet the requirement of the Bill. If they want us to ratify it, we all agree there are principles for people to make disclosures. But if you read the Bill, the parts are too clumsy, and article 75, for our purposes, is not the mode of introducing a Bill; article 106 does. Mr Speaker, on page two (2) of your Committee's Report, the Hon Chairman of the Committee referred to “in accordance with article 75 of the 1992 Constitution”. But I attempted to get a cure for you that, maybe, you are coming under article 75 by an Act of Parliament. I thought we should have an understanding to all that. Thank you.
Hon Member, first of all, I would want to be clear. Are you moving the Motion to stop the Bill or that is your comment on it?
Mr Speaker, rightly so. It is my preliminary observations. I wish I gave it my whole-hearted support. But I would want the constitutional principles to be satisfied, first of all, before the references. Dr A. A. Osei — rose --
Yes, Hon Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation?
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minority Leader is right. Article 75 tells us how we can ratify a Bill. One of it is through an Act of Parliament. This Bill is inclined to do same. So once we pass the Bill, it would be deemed to have been ratified. That is why it has come as a Bill. Thank you.
Very well. Hon Member for Sekyere Afram Plains?
Yes, the Hon Deputy Minister for Information? Deputy Minister for Information (Mr Kojo Oppong-Nkrumah)(MP): Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity. I speak in support of the Motion. Quickly, Mr Speaker, in recent weeks, this is the second time we have come to ratifying article 75. This time it is by another approach, an international Agreement that the Government of Ghana signed many years ago. The last one we ratified was the Agreement between the Government of Ghana and the United States of America regarding mutual assistance between our customs organisations. That one was signed in the year 2003, but its ratification had literally delayed for more than a decade. This one that we, by a Bill of Parliament, seek to ratify was also signed as far back as 2014. This is about four years down the line. I do acknowledge that there are instances when the Government of Ghana for strategic reasons, delays ratification and observes if other countries would actually go ahead before they do so. However, I believe that it is worth commending Government for making efforts to bring many of these outstanding International Agreements to this House for the proper thing to be done. Mr Speaker, the second point I would want to talk about is a provision in section 3 (2) (a) and (b) of the Income Tax Act, 2015, (Act 896) as amended and with your permission if I may read: “(a) in the case of a resident person, the income of that person from each employment, business or investment for the year, whether or not the source from which the income is derived has ceased; and (b) in the case of a non-resident person, (i) the income of that person from employment, business or investment for the year, to the extent to which that income has a source in this country; and (ii) where the person has a Ghanaian permanent establishment, income for the year that is connected with the permanent establishment, irrespective of the source of the income.” Mr Speaker, some tax experts and analysts have suggested that this can be properly interpreted to mean that, for persons resident in Ghana who have investments or who offer services beyond the Ghanaian jurisdiction and earn incomes depending on the double taxation agreement between Ghana and that jurisdiction, the Republic of Ghana can actually get tax revenue from them based on these provisions. Even though this was passed in 2015, the practical means of making use of it has been difficult. Today, thankfully, if indeed we are able to go ahead with the passage of this Standard for Automatic Exchange of Financial Account Information Bill, 2017 into law, it would provide the framework for the GRA to actually get the information that would give life to the provisions under section 3 (2) (a) and (b). I believe that it is something that we should take very seriously because for Ghanaian experts and professionals who render services abroad and earn a lot of hard currency, whatever tax components that may be occasioned on that could be very significant in helping to improve revenues that the Government of Ghana needs to deliver on the many services that we have promised our people here in this country. Mr Speaker, with these two points, I wholly support this Bill. It is my hope that this House would do a diligent job on this Bill and have it passed into law as soon as possible. I thank you, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, I support the Bill because it is one that would make sure that those who save their moneys and do business in offshore banks and elsewhere, the opportunity would help them to, through this law, to pay taxes to Ghana. This is why I support it.
Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I know the Committee on Finance has some engagement outside the Chamber. I would plead with them to let us begin the Consideration Stage of the Taxation (Use of Fiscal Electronic Device) Bill, 2017. We can do about two to three clauses, and maybe decide to adjourn some 15 minutes to two o'clock to enable them go and have their engagements.
Mr Speaker, I think that is in order, so we can continue with the Consideration Stage of the Bill.
The Taxation (Use of Fiscal Electronic Device) Bill, 2017 -- at the Consideration Stage.
BILLS -- CONSIDERATION STAGE
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 1, Add the following new paragraph: “(d) promote cashless payment in sale transactions”
Mr Speaker, I do not have problems with the proposal, but why “payment” and not just simply “transactions”? This is because, it is not only about payment, but it is also about receiving. So, why not “cashless transaction” rather than “cashless payment”? Maybe, the Hon Chairman can reconsider substituting “payment” with “transaction”.
Yes, Hon Deputy Minister for Finance?
Mr Speaker, the point of this amendment is that there is an existing government policy to promote a cash-light economy. That is to say, an economy in which payments are made through various payments means other than cash. The less cash we have in the economy, the better. If there is an opportunity to deploy fiscal electronic devices, then the Government has decided, as part of that initiative, to promote the “cash-light” society that we have as a policy. So, what is being suggested here is that, the roll-out of the devices should facilitate the use of other payment methods other than cash. So, this would be taken into account when the specification for the devices are prescribed. Then for instance, provision will be made for cash payment. That is the point. Mr Speaker, so it has to do with payment rather than just transactions.
Mr Speaker, I think that the further amendment he wants is not just -- In law making, one cannot just talk about transactions. A transaction is more general; we are talking about payments, and we want cashless payment. It is a method of doing the transaction, but we want to be specific here about payments rather than just transactions. This is a specific law about payments. Question put and amendment agreed to. Clause 1 as amended ordered to stand part of the Bill. Clause 2 ordered to stand part of the Bill. Clause 3 -- Obligation to Use Fiscal Electronic Device
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 3, subclause (1), redraft as follows: “(1) A person specified in the First Schedule shall (a) use an approved Fiscal Electronic Device, and (b) keep another of that Device as a back-up at a location on the premises of that person determined by the Commissioner- General”. iii. clause 3, subclause (2), paragraph (b), delete and insert the following: “cause the Fiscal Electronic Device to be installed at a conspicuous sales location on the premises of that person determined in accordance with subsection 1.” Question put and amendments agreed to. Clause 3 as amended is ordered to stand part of the Bill.
The Hon Second Deputy Speaker to take the Seat now.
MR SECOND DEPUTY SPEAKER
Yes, Hon Majority Leader, I saw you on your feet.
Mr Speaker, the Committee has an engagement outside the precincts of this House, so we just wanted to start the Consideration Stage. We are about winding up on that so we can continue tomorrow. Before we go, this is just to agitate the Hon Members of the Committee. There was no advertised amendment, but clause 2 (2) --Application. “The Minister may, on the recommendation of the Board, by legislative instrument, amend the First Schedule”. Mr Speaker, it will seem to me that this construction necessarily subjects the decision of the Hon Minister to the recommendation of the Board. I thought that it is inappropriate to say that whenever the Hon Minister decides to come by a Legislative Instrument (L.I), it must necessarily be on the recommen- dation of the Board. Is that what the Committee and the Ministry wants? I think that there is a difficulty and they may have to look at it again.
Hon Chairman, you have heard the Hon Majority Leader.
Mr Speaker, if the Hon Majority Leader will go ahead and propose an amendment; otherwise, I could propose one.
Mr Speaker, as I said, there was no advertised amendment. It just crossed my mind, but I will suggest to them that they would rather have the construction to read like this: “The Minister may, in consultation with the Board, by legislative instrument…”
Hon Majority Leader, what is that clause?
Clause 2 (2).
Clause 2 (2)?
Mr Speaker, yes. They can ponder over that and maybe, when they meet tomorrow -- I think a consultation is better than saying that it should necessarily be on the recommendation of the Board.
Since you would want to take a date, is it not proper to rather have it well drafted for tomorrow? I believe that it would then be put on the Order Paper for us to consider it well.
Mr Speaker, I agree to that. That was why I said that it is just food for thought for them because I just looked through the Bill and I saw it. That was why I brought it up for consideration by the Committee. So I guess they could ponder over it and do the appropriate thing tomorrow.
So, do we move to the next clause or you would want us to take a date?
Mr Speaker, I would want to propose an adjournment because the Committee has a very serious appointment now. Mr Speaker, subject to your indulgence, I beg to move that this House adjourns till tomorrow.
Minority Leadership, the Motion has been moved for the adjournment of the House. What do you say?
Mr Speaker, he has raised a different issue. He said he did not hear you say that we have come to the end of the Consideration Stage.
Hon Majority Leader, you may move the Motion.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move that the House adjourns until 10 o'clock in the forenoon tomorrow.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Leader said 10 o'clock so I second the Motion that I would be in the Chamber at 10 o'clock tomorrow.
Mr Speaker, I do not want to arrest the Motion. I heard “10 o'clock”, and I just want to be sure before we take the vote that it is 10 o'clock tomorrow.
I have not yet adjourned the House, so I have not given any time. Hon Member, do you have any problem with 10 o'clock in the forenoon?
Mr Speaker, certainly. The whole of this month we have only started Business in the Chamber at 10.00 o'clock once and this is something that I am worried about. Mr Speaker, so, if you would say 10.00 o'clock then I would encourage everybody to be here at 10.00 o'clock. Mr Speaker, that was why I rose.
Mr Speaker, I believe that it is a worthy concern, but the issues are not attributable to the Speakership. For instance, today, I was in the holding room of the Speaker at a quarter to 10.00 a.m. We observed the business in the Chamber, but there was nobody here. We do not expect the Hon Speaker to walk into an empty Chamber. So, Hon Members should undertake to be present in the Chamber in the fullness of time and that would motivate Mr Speaker to walk in.
Hon Members, an issue has been raised with regard to punctuality. The Hon Member does not oppose the Motion, but he just drew our attention to the issue of punctuality, and I would want to take this opportunity to urge Hon Members to always be on the floor of the House before 10.00 a.m. because Mr Speaker is always ready before 10.00 a.m. It is not proper to always appear and assume the Chair when the Chamber is empty. So, Hon Members should usually do everything possible to be here before Question put and Motion agreed to.
The House was accordingly adjourned at 1.40 p.m. till Wednesday, 28th February, 2018 at 10.00 a.m.