VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS AND THE OFFICIAL REPORT
Hon Members, item numbered 2 on the Order Paper -- Correction of Votes and Proceedings of Tuesday, 20th March, 2018. Hon Members, we have the Official Report of Wednesday, 7th March, 2018, for correction.
Hon Members, we would move to item numbered 3 on the Order Paper -- Questions. The first Question stands in the name of the Hon Member for Sawla- Tuna-Kalba Constituency. The Hon Minister for the Interior should please take the appropriate seat.
Mr Speaker, thank you. Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister for the Interior has --
Hon Minister, thank you so much for appearing timeously. Hon Member, you may ask the Question.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Member has asked me to ask the Question on his behalf with your kind permission.
Hon Member, you may ask the Question.
ORAL ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS
MINISTRY OF THE INTERIOR
Mr Speaker, thank you. Mr Speaker, the Sawla-Damongo and Sawla-Wa Highways are very crucial in our fight against violent crime because of their span and sparse population. The information we have received from the Ghana Police Service indicates there has been only one (1) reported robbery within the area in question this year and the issue of what the Ministry of the Interior is doing to curb the consistent robberies in the area is an over exaggeration of the situation on the ground. The government is very committed to the fight against armed robbery and no effort would be spared in reducing or eradicating this menace. Government, in its bid to retool the Ghana Police Service, has, as a first step, equipped the Police with additional patrol vehicles and logistical support to enable them discharge their duties efficiently. Mr Speaker, the Police Administration in addition to putting in place security measures in the area, have also increased patrols on our highways in which the Sawla-Damongo-Wa highways have been factored in the operational plan of the Ghana Police Service. The Service has also stepped up its intelligence operations across the country and which is yielding enormous results in the arrest of persons involved in crime. Mr Speaker, Operation Calm Life which is a joint Police/Military Operation has also been intensified along the corridor in the fight against crime and armed robbery. I wish, however, to add that security is a shared responsibility and much as the security officers must play their part, much will depend on information from the public in order to arrest these robbers. We appeal to the public to continue to provide vital information to the Police to help stem the menace.
Mr Speaker, does the Ministry of the Interior intend to put more boots on the ground in respect of police stations that would further create visibility within that particular enclave? And if they intend to deploy more boots on the ground, could he, probably, give us an indication as to how soon this might be?
Mr Speaker, finally, the Hon Minister mentioned that there has been only one robbery incident since the year began. I do not know whether they have made some arrests in respect of that particular robbery. On the police stations issue, would he assure the people of Sawla-Tuna-Kalba and those within that enclave that when
Mr Speaker, Sawla has a police station. I would say also that Damongo has a police station. Where there is a need to provide more police stations, we shall do so. But I would also want to appeal to Hon Members of the House that, we need to collaborate. Some Hon Members have already contributed tremendously and have plans to help us put up police stations. I invite all of us to do so. Over the weekend, the Hon First Deputy Speaker had an edifice that he had built in his constituency inaugurated by the President. I believe it is a thing that all of us could emulate. Mr Speaker, as far as that robbery is concerned, it is just one band we have put in place an arrangement to stem it. We now have spots that we stop vehicles. They used to operate at night, and we have police to accompany them. The Hon Member would realise that in the case of Sawla, we had to allow the Upper West Specialised Training Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team to come into the northern region to help the northern regional squad. As far as that one robbery case is concerned, we are working very hard and believe you me, we would get those who are responsible for the robbery. Thank you.
Thank you very much.
Hon Yieleh Chireh?
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I would want to find out from the Hon Minister -- The way he said Sawla-Damongo-Wa, one would realise that has reversed the things. The Hon Member asked him a question. Sawla is the centre to Damongo, and then from Damongo to Wa. He knows it is the far distances between these settlements that is the problem. What I would want to find out from him is whether it is barriers they should erect occasionally or police posts and not police stations, which could improve visibility.
Mr Speaker, in my Answer, I alluded to the span of the road and also to the sparse population. But since this Question came from the Hon Member of Parliament for Sawla, I indicated that, there is a station at Sawla. Mr Speaker, because of the sparse population, we would establish operations. However, there are spot checks. We are not going to resort to fixed spots where the armed robbers would continue to dribble us.
Yes, Hon Deputy Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, in his Answer, the Hon Minister said the type of police stations that are being built across the country are not of the same standard, and that they are coming out with a prototype design. Could the Hon Minister tell us when this prototype design would be made available to Hon Members, so that if an Hon Member would want to assist the Ministry in putting up a police station, it would help the Hon Member facilitate this as easily as possible?
Mr Speaker, this is a very important question. The design is ongoing, but I could assure him that if he wants to build today and he gets to my Ministry, we would facilitate it and help him do it. Mr Speaker, the point we must make is that, in the case of Kwabenya, for instance, it was a building that was handed over by the community. Therefore, we had those challenges and lost one of our heroes. I would expect that - It is ongoing now, and we would come out soon. But I believe that, if he would want to build now, he should come. I would be able to get him an input from those who are working on it.
Thank you very much, Hon Minister, for attending to the House and answering our questions. You are respectfully discharged. The next Question goes to the Minister for Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation. It stands in the name of the Hon Member for North Tongu.
Mr Speaker, respectfully, I seek your leave to allow the Hon Deputy Minister for Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation to answer the Question on behalf of the Minister, who is out of the jurisdiction.
Hon Deputy Minister, you may answer the Question.
MINISTRY OF ENVIRONMENT,
SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY AND
Mr Speaker, I would like to thank the Hon Deputy Minister for the effort. Mr Speaker, the Hon Deputy Minister is informing this House that the Ministry is taking steps to seek the advice of the Attorney-General on the appropriateness or otherwise of forwarding to Parliament for ratification, the subsidiary contract on LEU which the Government of Ghana entered into with the IAEA and the Government of China in 2014. I filed this Question six months ago in September, and if after six months they are still taking steps to the Attorney- General, can we know when they would finally arrive at the Attorney-General's office after six months?
Mr Speaker, the third paragraph of the Hon Deputy Minister's response indicates that the cost and transportation of the LEU fuel was fully paid for by the US Department of Energy. I would like to find out if there are any obligations on this country. Was this gratis? Is it a grant or a loan that we would have to pay back? I just want to understand the terms, and if possible, how much it cost this country.
Mr Speaker, the US Department of Energy, according to the earlier Agreement, is the facilitator. It was done at no cost, because it was part of the Agreement, therefore, it did not require any monetary issues with Ghana.
Mr Speaker, finally, in the fourth paragraph, there is a very exciting news for Ghana. She revealed that: “this has made Ghana the first country to convert a miniature neutron source reactor outside China, hence the lessons learnt would help other countries such as Nigeria, which is the next country to convert, Syria, Iran and Pakistan in their respective core removal and shipment activities.” I would like to find out from the Hon Minister if there is any benefit that Ghana can derive. Can we probably seek to leverage on this, even if financially, for our scientists and researchers to benefit, so that they could get some resources to continue with their research, since this is very positive news for Ghana?
Mr Speaker, I would like to draw your attention to the fact that, an institution has currently been established at GAEC, where countries participate in the training of the use of the LEU. If nothing at all, I believe the receipts for their training would be of benefit to the country. One other thing I need to draw your attention to is the fact that, this particular equipment, the specifications and everything else was designed by our own technical men at GAEC, therefore, they must be commended for such efforts. So in every respect, Ghana stands to benefit because we are the first to be able to use an equipment of this nature.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, the Agreement which was entered into stipulated a certain arrangement. The arrangement has been fully consummated. There is no subsisting Agreement between us and the IEA. What are you going to bring to Parliament for ratification?
Hon Ayariga, before Guantanamo was ratified, whatever needed to be done was done, and that is the difference between approving of a transaction at the inception, and the subsequent decision to ratify if you deem fit. So, when the time comes for ratification, then you may make a critic on why a document came the time it did. Do you not agree with me?
Mr Speaker, we can distinguish the Guantanamo case, because, at the time that government brought the Agreement for ratification, the Agreement term had not yet expired, even though the movement of the persons to Ghana had taken place, the Agreement was for a period of two years, and the date of termination of the Agreement had not yet arrived. So during that period, it was brought for ratification. In this case, the Agreement was for a product to be supplied to the Government of Ghana. The product was supplied and we took it. We have consumed the product, it became waste, we sent it out to the person who supplied the product, he has changed it and actually brought us a new product and we have finished consuming all that. As we speak, there is no Agreement subsisting between the two parties. What Agreement are they bringing to this House for ratification? They may come and inform us, but they have finished doing what they have to do.
Hon Minister, so is the Agreement fully consummated, as the lawyers would say? Fully implemented? In fact, there is nothing more to expect?
Mr Speaker, I am sure that, this is an issue that must be referred to the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, because there is an Agreement. In fact, I have sighted an Agreement. Even if it has been fully consummated, we have the product, there are other conditions attached to the operations of that particular LEU, that needs to be adhered to. So, I would seek the advice before I give the answer to your question. Thank you very much.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, in the Answer of the Hon Deputy Minister, in the last sentence of paragraph 4, she said that the cost and transportation of the Low Enriched Uraninium fuel was fully paid for by the US Department of Energy. Hon Deputy Minister, the area of Uranium and Energy is one that has a lot of interest. So, I would want to find out from her, since Ghana is being aided, what was the interest of the US in financing the cost? [Interruption.] This is because we have scientists and the shock of the passing of one of our greatest scientists, Prof Allotey -- may his soul rest in perfect peace. What was the interest of the US in financing it? We are beyond aid.
Hon Member, when the advice arrives, this Honourable House would be in the position to take a holistic view of the matter.
Yes, Hon Annoh- Dompreh?
Mr Speaker, I am grateful. Mr Speaker, with respect and your leave, I would have to read paragraph 4 of the Hon Deputy Minister's Answer. “Mr Speaker, a Low Enriched Uranium (LEU) was acquired from China in 2014 through the assistance of the United States Department of Energy (US DOE) in collaboration with IAEA to replace the HEU. The LEU Core which replaced the HEU Core is now safely in operation. It is expected to be operated for over forty (40) years…” Mr Speaker, I would wish to find out from the Hon Deputy Minister whether from her records, in 2014, there had been attempts by the previous administration to bring an Agreement of this effect to Parliament for ratification? If not, from her records, what were the difficulties encountered which stopped the previous government from bringing such an Agreement to Parliament for ratification?
Mr Speaker, I would like to refer the House to the question that was put by Hon Ayariga. I am of the view that the office must have erroneously thought that, the Agreement was fully consummated and therefore, did not make the necessary arrangement to ratify.
Yes, Hon Member?
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, in the Hon Deputy Minister's Answer, she spoke about the fact that, with your permission, I beg to quote, the last paragraph on page 15 of the Order Paper. “Mr Speaker from the detailed explanation I have given to the House, Ghana currently do not have any running agreement covering the funding and evacuation of HEU to China and thus there will not be the need for a ratification of an agreement by Parliament.” So, that is very conclusive on the matter.
“Mr Speaker, further to the above, since the HEU Contract was expired, the Ministry is taking steps to seek the advice of the Attorney-General on the appropriateness or otherwise of forwarding to Parliament for ratification…”
Hon Member, there is no contradiction at all. If you have read a lot of legal documents, you would have seen how those in that craft may make an admission in one way and yet say on the contrary, if that is not so, this is another view in the same regard. They said that, notwithstanding earlier perceptions, they now seeking the advice of the relevant authority so constituted to advise in this Republic and then they would advise the House further. That is the end of it. Yes, any further questions? Yes, Hon Member for Asawase?
Mr Speaker, it is Ejura- Sekyedumase.
Very well. Hon Braimah, the Hon Member for Ejura-Sekyedumase to ask a Question of the Hon Minister for Local Government and Rural Development.
Mr Speaker, I respectfully ask for your leave to allow the Hon Deputy Minister for Local Government and Rural Development take the Answer.
Hon Members, the Hon Minister is otherwise engaged in matters of State and it is public knowledge. [Laughter.] Hon Members, sometimes, we must make progress. Do we want the Hon Deputy Minister to Answer or we would want to shelf the Question and wait for the Hon Minister? It is as simple as that. Hon Deputy Minister, in fact, you are here to help us to make progress in the inevitable absence of the substantive Minister, who is away on State affairs to another part of the country. Hon Member for Ejura-Sekyedumase, please, ask your Question.
MINISTRY OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT
AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT
Any further questions?
Mr Speaker, I would like to find out from the Hon Deputy Minister for Local Government and Rural Development how long should memoranda sent to MMDCEs be processed for payment?
Mr Speaker, it is important we appreciate the fact that, MMDCEs are strategic partners with MPs and traditional authorities to ensure successful implementation of pro- grammes. In doing so, it has to follow certain procurement procedures, and if they have no queries with regard to issues of procedure and procurement, it should not ordinarily take more than a week to do that.
Mr Speaker, from the Hon Deputy Minister's Answer in paragraph 5, he said Members of Parliament (MPs) are required to inform the District Assemblies on any procurement or works. That is normally done through memoranda.
Mr Speaker, the situation the Hon Member is trying to address, it is important we appreciate that we sit at the Ministry and we may not know exactly what happens with regard to relationship between MPs and MMDCEs. But it is important that MMDCEs foster good working relationship with Members of Parliament (MPs), and if there is any problem, please, the office of the Hon Minister and the Hon Deputy Ministers are open to such challenges. They should kindly keep us informed. I have had a personal experience when I was at the other Side of the House. It took the Hon Majority Chief Whip to travel from Accra to my constituency to talk to the District Chief Executive (DCE). Since then, there have been a harmonious relationship. I have talked to some of the Members of Parliament (MPs), and MMDCEs that relationship has to be fostered. We need to maintain that. Anytime there is a problem, please, kindly let us know and then we would ensure that the problem is addressed.
Hon Member, your last question.
Mr Speaker, when we say that after interventions -- I was once a DCE and I know the procedures in the Assembly. If a particular MMDCE consistently and deliberately frustrates a Member of Parliament (MP) in the access of his or her Fund, what steps should we take?
Hon Member, simply draw the Hon Minister's attention to it and it would be resolved.
He says you should ask him to intervene. He will do so. Thank you very much, Hon Deputy Minister, for attending to the House and answering our Questions. Question starred 352.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister has brought in a letter and she asked that the Question be deferred to another day. She is out of the jurisdiction. She is currently far away in New York.
Hon Member, a letter has come from the Chief Director of the Ministry. If it is the same letter I have here -- it has come from the Chief Director of the Ministry. It is not enough for you to say you have got a letter. You hold in your hand a letter signed by the Chief Director of the Ministry and it says what, then we would understand and make progress. The letter is dated 19th March, 2018.
Mr Speaker, the letter is titled Parliamentary Question. SPACE FOR LETTER - PAGE 5 - 11.33 A.M.
Mr Speaker, we have had pains to raise this a number of times. The Hon Deputy Minister for Local Government and Rural Development just answered a Question. It is the same with the Hon Deputy Minister for Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation. Mr Speaker, there are Hon Deputy Ministers. We all know that genuinely, some of these things happen. To write to this House the very morning that the Hon Minister is expected to come and answer a Question cannot be acceptable. The Hon Minister did not leave for New York only last night. They should have notified us in good time. Mr Speaker, the practice of this House is that, sometimes when specific groups are affected, like physically challenged persons, they come to the Chamber to listen to how their Questions would be answered, only for them to be told that the Question cannot be answered. We know that genuinely, these things could happen, but the time of writing the letter is poor. When there are genuine reasons such that Hon Ministers cannot come and answer Questions, they should notify the House in good time, so that energy and time would not be wasted. Mr Speaker, we are rising on Friday. This letter says the Hon Minister is coming tonight. Is it possible for the Hon Minister to come and answer this Question tomorrow or Friday? This is because we will go on recess but the Question has been hanging for long. Mr Speaker, I would be grateful, if you would intervene for the Hon Minister to come tomorrow or Friday to answer the Question since we are about to go on recess.
Hon Majority Chief Whip, any further statement on that? Do you want to respond to that further?
Mr Speaker, I heard the Hon Minority Chief Whip say the letter was written just this morning. The letter was dated 19th March, 2018 and I just wanted to correct him on that one.
Hon Members must be conscious of the fact that, the chronology of events is very important. We must be very factual in our statements so that we do not mislead the public. Hon Muntaka?
Mr Speaker, the letter was just handed over to me by the Clerk- at-the-Table. It was, received at 8.45 a.m., on 21st March, 2018. They just handed it over to me. Mr Speaker, I think it came to the House this morning. As to when it was written, it showed that it was written on 19th March, 2018, but it came to this House this morning at 8.45 a. m. So the Clerk-at-the-Table could not have communicated to any Hon Member about the inability of the Hon Minister to come. This is because the letter came just this morning and the stamp shows when it was received. In fact, the time it was received is also written on it -- 8.45 a.m.
None Mr Speaker Hon Member, do you have a point of correction or order?
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I am surprised Hon Muntaka is talking about a letter being written this morning. This is not the first time a Minister has written to this House. We are even lucky that the Hon Minister has written to -- [Interruption.] -- I did not say they are lucky, I said we are lucky that she has even written. [Interruption.]
Mr Speaker, on three occasions -- [Interruption.]
Hon Members, what is the point in shouting?
I used it within a context, but if they are offended, I can withdraw it. I said that we are lucky that she even sent a letter. I did not say they are lucky. Mr Speaker, on three occasions, I filed a Question in this House, Hon Muntaka at the time was the Hon Majority Chief Whip. He called me on phone one fine morning that the Hon Minister who was supposed to come to the House to Answer the Question -- he explained to me that the Hon Minister had travelled and that he would not be able to come. So he pleaded with me even to withdraw the Question.
Hon Members, order!
The third time, he did the same thing. So, if the Hon Minister has written to the House to explain that she would not be available, it should be taken in good faith. [Uproar.] He has done thtat several times. He did it to me on three occasions. So, he should take it in good faith and give the Hon Minister time to come and answer the Question.
Thank you very much. Mr Speaker, what my Hon Colleague said is true. [Interruption.]
What my Hon Colleague said happened in the past. This is exactly what I am talking about, because it comes a day or sometimes two days before. So as the then Hon Majority Chief Whip, I took the pain to call the Hon Member so that, the Hon Minister would not run into the Chamber in the morning hoping to answer the Question.
Hon Member, our business place is this Honourable House. So as we are in the House we should report.
Mr Speaker, I am not disputing that, I am talking -- [Interruption.]
It is not like saying if you do not have a Question to ask, then you are excused from the Chamber. It does not arise. Let us face it logically. But Hon Members, the simple fact of the matter is that, we are all aware of the schedules of Hon Ministers; travels. In fact, this letter does say details of days of participation in this Conference.
Mr Speaker, today, marks the United Nations day for the Forest, and I rise to make this Statement accordingly. Mr Speaker, I wish to begin this Statement with a quote by an internationally renowned Kenyan environmental, political activist and Nobel laureate, WANGARI MAATHAI. She said that ‘The environment and the economy of any Nation are really two sides of the same coin. If we cannot sustain the environment, we cannot sustain ourselves'. Mr Speaker, it seems to me this quote by the environmentalist is a true reflection of what pertains in our Nation, and perhaps, Africa and the world to a larger extent. A study described by its authors as the most comprehensive analysis of tropical forests has disclosed that Ghana has the highest rate of deforestation, out of 65 nations, apart from Togo and Nigeria. The illegal act of felling trees has become one of the commonest offences in Ghana today. Some culprits are caught by the law, the fortunate ones are never caught, while others are sometimes deliberately let to go by guardians of the law. Every day, the forest zone of the country is tampered with legally and illegally, making one wonder what would become of the nation's forest areas in the next 50 years. According to Alex Morales, a humanitarian, the study, which was published by Wood Products Trade Group, an international tropical timber organisation in Yokohama, Japan, continued that Togo lost an average of 5.75 per cent of its forests every year from 2005 through 2010, while Nigeria posted a 4 percent rate and Ghana losing 2.19 per cent of forests a year. It is difficult to understand why in this age, we still struggle to protect our forest reserves. Vast ancient woodlands are at risk of extinction. They are disappearing at an alarming rate. Mr Speaker, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), indigenous forests in Africa are being cut down at a rate of more than four (4) million hectares per year, twice the world's deforestation average. According to the FAO, losses totaled more than 10 per cent of the continent's total forest cover between 1980 and 1995. Poor forest management policies, including unrestricted logging, excessive harvesting of firewood and medicinal plants and road construction contribute to the problem as do drought, flooding, forest fires and other natural disasters. The collection of wood for heating and cooking and for making charcoal is a particular problem in Africa. Since wood constitutes about 70 per cent of domestic energy needs, -- a significantly higher percentage than the rest of the world. It is a fact that, Africa's rural poor are particularly dependent on its forests. Although forest products, primarily unfinished logs, account for only about two (2) per cent of sub-Saharan Africa's exports, forests generate an average of 6 per cent of the region's gross domestic product that is triple the world average. Eighteen African countries, including Cameroon and Ghana, are among the 24 countries worldwide that rely on forests for at least, 10 per cent or more for their economic stability. Although environmentalists and advocacy groups have brought international attention to unsustainable, and often illegal, logging in Central and West Africa, about half of all the wood extracted from Africa's forests is used domestically as fuel. Despite the enormous losses to deforestation, the region is a net importer of processed wood products. Mr Speaker, the conversion of forest lands to agriculture for both subsistence and commercial, is by far the most common and most destructive cause of deforestation in Africa and other tropical regions. As demand for farmlands grows in response to population pressures, millions of hectares of tropical forests are being put to the torch in Africa, Asia and Latin America. There is another quote by Mahatma Ghandi which says that ‘What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves'. Mr Speaker, we need to take a critical interest in this and exercise maximum caution. It is also interesting to know that commercial logging happens to be the second largest contributor to deforestation in Africa, threatening the continent's existing indigenous forests and, in some cases, its political stability. Part of the problem, says environmen- talists and forestry experts, is the common use of clear cutting and other unsound methods that strip large areas of trees and vegetation, damaging the forests' ability to retain water and provide habitat for animal and plant life. Clear cutting sometimes erodes the exposed soil to a point at which natural regeneration or reforestation efforts are impossible. Mr Speaker, UN and non-governmental researchers report that, the indiscriminate, labour-intensive methods common to logging operations in Central Africa and other developing regions waste as many as half of the trees cut down through destruction of non-commercial varieties and clearing of forestland for roads, logging camps and work areas. Much of the refuse and surrounding bush is burned, releasing carbon back into the atmosphere. The inability of many developing countries to regulate and manage their forests due to conflict, weak law enforcement, poor administrative authority and corruption has allowed illegal logging to flourish. In 2006, the World Bank estimated that annual losses to illegal logging totalled $15 billion globally, including US$5 billion in government revenues lost in unpaid taxes, royalties and other fees.
Thank you very much for this well-made Statement.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I rise to commend the Hon Member for the eloquent presentation on defores-tation and the significance of all these issues raised. It is wonderful that our generation has inherited forests from our forebearers. The least we could do is to contribute to ensure that our forests are sustained. This is because, an adage goes that, “if the last tree dies, the last man dies”. Our water bodies are drying up, and while we have made concerted efforts against galamsey in this country, with some results and some efforts still going on, for those of us who live in farming areas and in places like the Western Region, surrounded by the Bia National Forest, the second biosphere in the country, it is significant for us to speak to the issue of afforestation and deforestation. Significantly, chainsaw operators are cutting down the trees that had been in our forests for over 80 years and so forth. These communities do not even benefit significantly from the felling of trees on their crop farms and cocoa farms. As a result, for a lot of people in those rural communities, it is for lack of a better word, a nuisance for them to see loggers around them. More importantly it is important to recognise that in some countries in our world today, they derive significant amounts of money from the World Wide Fund (WWF) for the conservation of rare animals. Yesterday, it was in the news that the last white rhinoceros died and is extinct. This is because they could not mate it and all kinds of scientific processes were explained. They preserved the Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and hope that in the future, they could find some other rhinoceros to cross them through invitro fertilisation (IVF) for them to revive it. For many of us who grew up in rural areas, we saw monkeys jumping on trees. They were part of our Science lessons. People lived by growing what they ate and eating what they grew. Essentially, both the proteins that they received were from bush meat or from rivers around us. Today, many of these rivers are drying up and certainly, the animals that we saw in our infancy are not available. So I commend the Hon Member for making this presentation. We need to take active interest in our forests and support other efforts. We should step up efforts as we have done with galamsey, so that we would be able to forestall many of the things that are done to destroy our forests. Our forests are the sustainable sources of our lives, and when the last tree dies, the last man dies.
Mr Speaker, thank you very much for the opportunity. I also thank Hon Annoh-Dompreh for bringing to this House a very important issue. We have a generational challenge, and that is how to leave a legacy of sustainably exploitable forest resources to our children and their children. Mr Speaker, Ghana used to be a veritable country as far as sustainable exploitation of forests was concerned. From the end of the First World War up to the 1960s, we were able to manage our forest estates and harvest from the forest on an annual allowable cut, so that sustainability was ensured under a 40- year regime. Unfortunately, recently, we have lost it and we are facing a phenomenon of what I would call an arboreal galamsey whereby people go into the forest with impunity to harvest trees. Again, the forest is under severe pressure from commercial exploitation like commercial farming and subsistence
I would give preference to those who have not had the opportunity to speak this morning. Yes, Hon Member?
Mr Speaker, I would want to commend the Hon Member who made the Statement. Mr Speaker, it is not for nothing that the by-product of respiration, which is carbon dioxide, is used for photo- synthesis, and that of the plants, which is oxygen, is used by human beings for tissue respiration. Mr Speaker, it is true that, we need to educate people about the importance of the forest. It is true that we would have to advocate that we should stay away from destroying our own forests. To the ordinary Ghanaian, we would need to do something practical. For example, with those who manufacture charcoal from trees, we just do not tell them to stop it because it is not good and they should be arrested. That is not enough. What we need to do is to practically demonstrate to them that, there is something better than using the charcoal and that is the usage of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG). If there is an environment where the price of LPG goes high and the people cannot afford to buy and do not even have the opportunity to use it, it is imperative that they would always think that the usage of charcoal is first among the other methods. Mr Speaker, I would want to advocate that, as a government policy, we should make some efforts to ensure that the price of LPG is affordable. If it is affordable -- indeed, under the Administration of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), under former President Mahama, 2,000 cylinders were distributed to ordinary farmers for free in my constituency, and that demonstrated to the people that it is good to use gas stoves and cylinders. If those distributions could be continued in the rural communities, such that they also get used to using these gas stoves and cylinders, I believe that, eventually, we would be able to convince them that it is important that they change over from charcoal to the usage of LPG. Mr Speaker, the second point I would want to raise is that, as we destroy the forest, we cause desertification, and so we continue to move the meningitis belt down to the coast. Recently, there was meningitis in the middle belt, that is in the Ashanti Region and somewhere in the Brong Ahafo Region. Hitherto, it was not in existence. The belt was high and all these sad effects for deforestation were practically non-existent. Mr Speaker, I would want to advocate that the reafforestation programme should be aggressive. We should go all out and inform everybody, including students, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and even Hon Members of Parliament (MPs), the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund), National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF), probably, we should think of a Fund that would help MPs and other stakeholders to assist in the reafforestation process.
Yes, Hon Member? You have not spoken today. Hon Leaders would speak afterwards because we have a lot of things to do.
Thank you very much, Hon Member. The leadership can constitute relevant persons but as you deem fit.
Mr Speaker, the leadership would yield our position to the Hon former Deputy Minister for Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation.
Mr Speaker, thank you very much. Mr Speaker, I believe my Hon Colleagues have made very important remarks in relation to the Statement that has been made. There is no doubt that the rate of deforestation that takes place must stop. But then also, as has been indicated, there are legitimate pressures because when we look at the improvement in income levels, the enhanced consumption capabilities of our citizenry, not just in Ghana but across the sub-region, and the increase houses stock and infrastructure that we have — As we speak, every year, the Ministry of Education alone would award contracts in millions for the construction of furniture for basic schools, et cetera. All these compound the demand for forest products in order to satisfy these essential facilities that are needed to make life more comfortable. There are legitimate basis for demanding the products. But as indicated, we must deal with the issues looking at alternatives. What are the existing alternatives? Mr Speaker, if the Ministry of Education alone, henceforth, stops awarding contracts for the construction of wooden furniture and decides that they would now award contracts for furniture constructed out of other products, they alone can cut, by a huge margin, the use of wood for infrastructure in our schools. Mr Speaker, if the Local Government Authorities, the Town and Country Planning Department, et cetera, are up and doing by monitoring the implementation of the building code, and determine the component of one's building to ensure that we are not allowed to use wood so that we can explore the use of other alternatives, we would fight the menace. When they go and explore the resource and come, they would be met by an irresponsive market, so they would stop. If the person supplies and nobody buys, he or she would stop supplying. Mr Speaker, lastly, the problem we have with deforestation -- galamsey and so many others as indicated is the very basic weakness we have in terms of law enforcement. As indicated by Hon Colleagues in the Chamber today, one can go with a gun in the thick forest and scare the forest guards, but that is not where we are going to consume the products. The product would have to be moved from the thick forest to the city centre. And this is on the highways of Ghana. Mr Speaker, just travel from here to Kumasi and the number of Police checkpoints that one would encounter,-- how is it possible that along those checkpoints, people in trucks are able to carry forest products up to the city centres and none of the police officers, from Brong Ahafo Region to Accra, from Brong Ahafo Region to Bawku, from Brong Ahafo Region to Wa? somebody is able to carry these timber logs. They are not hidden products like gold that one would say, for instance, that they hid it in their pockets. They pass through all these checkpoints and get to the market. Mr Speaker, this is the clearest manifestation of our weakness when it comes to a State trying to enforce basic laws that we agree on. Poverty cannot be an excuse. Yes, people would do anything to make money but when we all agree that certain things are essential to our very existence, we should not allow poverty to remain as an excuse. Mr Speaker, I am not one of those advocating that we should shoot and kill them but we should not allow them to do it at all. Shooting to kill is not the solution [Laughter.] We can do a very —
Hon Member, withdraw the insinuation lest you provoke debate — [Laughter.]
Mr Speaker, I withdraw the statement but my argument is that, there are very simple ways of enforcing these laws —
Mr Speaker, as for the policies, we have them in place. When we go to the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources and the building sectors, the policies are there. As for the legislations, we have all the legislations that we need and the institutional arrangements that we would need. Indeed, there was a mention that we should also attack the issue at the market where it is being sold. Mr Speaker, just last month, your Committee on Subsidiary Legislation, and this House, for that matter, approved a subsidiary legislation on the matter. So as for the laws, the policies and the institutions, they are there. The Forestry Commission and the Ministry are there. The Fund that the Hon Member talks about had been there for several decades in this country, and so has the Police Service. Everything is there. The only thing that is not there is the commitment to enforce the laws. That is the only issue, and that is where we need to re-examine our position on issues and re-dedicate ourselves to enforcing existing legislation. I believe that, if we do that, we would be able to resolve the problem.
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to comment on the Statement made by our Hon Colleague. Mr Speaker, afforestation is all about making sure that we have adequate vegetation spread adequately in our country. Mr Speaker, those of us who did O' Level Agriculture as a subject, know the consequences of deforestation and also, the benefits of afforestation. Apart from the commercial use of forest, there is also a very important biological use of vegetation and for that matter, forest. We know that adequate afforestation brings a balance of carbon dioxide and oxygen presence in the environment. As we need the oxygen and the vegetation, our plants also need the carbon dioxide for their photosynthesis. Mr Speaker, but what is worrisome to me is the extent to which we have depleted our greenbelt in our cities, municipal areas and towns. We know that the planning of this country by our forefathers had greenbelts in all the cities where we could develop a vegetation spread throughout the whole country. Today, by our own deeds of not abiding to the law and not being disciplined, we have depleted all these greenbelts for residential purposes. Look through the entire city of Accra and you would see that all these greenbelts have been depleted. Mr Speaker, today, we have erosion running through the entire country. Hills and mountains that hitherto had vegetation on them, have been depleted and with cities or towns and villages that are beneath these hills, there is so much erosion that, flooding has become an issue if you go there today. It is all because we are depleting our vegetation and depleting our forests. Mr Speaker, we would have to go back and look at the implementation of our laws. We would have to go back and be very disciplined and make sure that what our forefathers did some time ago, that we thought we are so civilised today and are looking down on them, rather, were the good policies that had developed our country. So, for me, it is time for us to go back and look at all these greenbelts, develop them back and make sure that cities or towns that are yet to be developed, are planned ahead of development. Today, we have allowed development to be ahead of planning, so we are not able to contain the challenges that face us. Mr Speaker, I commend the Hon Member who made the Statement and I believe it is time that we should all get up and make sure that we have adequate spread of vegetation in our country to grow and sustain the life that we all want. Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity.
Hon Members, that brings us to the end of Statements time. At the Commencement of Public Business -- item listed 5 -- Presentation of Papers.
Mr Speaker, I beg to seek your leave for the Hon Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation to lay the Paper numbered 5 (a).
Very well. Hon Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation?
Mr Speaker, I thank you. The Hon Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation would do same for the Paper numbered 5(b). By the Hon Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation (Dr Anthony Akoto Osei) (on behalf of the Hon Minister for Energy) -
Hon Members, the Paper listed 5(c) -- Hon Chairman of the Committee? By the Chairman of the Committee -- on materials and equipment to be imported by the Ministry of Energy and Weldy/Lamont Associates Inc. of Illinois for the implementation of the Turnkey Rural Electrification Project in selected communities under the National Electrification Scheme (NES) and the Self Help Electrification Programme (SHEP IV).
Hon Members, item numbered 5(c)ii? By the Hon Chairman of the Committee -- (ii) Report of the Finance Committee on the Request for waiver of Import Duties, Import VAT, Import NHIL, and other approved imposts amounting to the Ghana Cedi equivalent of fifty-two million, three hundred and ninety-three thousand, eight hundred and seventy United States Dollars (US$52,393,870.00) on distillate operational fuel, power equipment and power plant parts for Trojan Power Limited's power plant operations under an Equipment Rental Agreement with the Government of the Republic of Ghana (Ministry of Energy).
Item numbered 5 (d) -- Hon Chairman of the Committee? By the Chairman of the Committee -- Report of the Committee on Environment, Science and Technology on the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising From Their Utilisation to the Convention on Biological Diversity.
Hon Members, the Paper listed number 5 (e) -- Hon Chairman of the Committee?
Mr Speaker, the Reports for items listed 5(e) and 5(f) are not ready so I would seek your leave so that we vary the order of Business and take the item listed 5(h).
Item numbered 5(h) -- Hon Chairman of the Committee? By the Chairman of the Committee -- Report of the Committee on Local Government and Rural Development on the Monitoring Visit to Selected Metropolitan, Municipal, and District Assemblies (MMDAs).
Hon Members, the item listed number 6 -- Motion.
Mr Speaker, I would again seek your leave so we can vary the order of Business and take item numbered 12 -- Motion. Mr Speaker, the item numbered 12 is on page 8 of the Order Paper.
Hon Members, the item numbered 12 -- Motion. Hon Minister for Finance?
Mr Speaker, I rise again to seek your leave to allow the Hon Deputy Minister for Finance to move the Motion.
Hon Deputy Minister for Finance?
BILLS -- SECOND READING
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion and in so doing, present your Committee's Report. Introduction The Ghana Deposit Protection (Amendment) Bill, 2018, was presented to Parliament and read the first time on Friday 9th March, 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. The Minister for Finance, Hon Ken Ofori-Atta, Deputy Ministers for Finance, Hon Kwaku Kwarteng and Hon Charles Adu Boahene, the Governor of the Bank of Ghana, Dr Ernest Addison, and officials from the Ministry of Finance, the Bank of Ghana and the Attorney General's Department attended upon and assisted the Committee in its deliberations on the Bill. The Committee is grateful to the Hon Minister and his Deputies, the Governor and officials from the Ministry of Finance, the Bank of Ghana and the Attorney- General's Department for attending upon the Committee.
Also, as the plans were being put in place to raise the necessary funds to start the scheme, the Act was going through continuous review and hence the present Bill to amend the law to make it more workable and bring it in conformity with present international standards. Merger of Institutions The Committee was informed by officials from the Bank of Ghana that only banks and specialized deposit-taking institutions that meet their capital requirements as set by the Bank of Ghana would be permitted to participate in the scheme. In order to avoid creating two types of banks and SDIs in the country (one covered by deposit protection scheme and the other not), adequate time would be given for all banks and SDSs to meet their capital requirements so that the Scheme would start operation with all the licensed institutions. A bank or specialised deposit-taking institution which fails to meet the requirement would be encouraged to merge with another or have its license revoked. Government Obligation during bank failures The Committee noted that the Bill, when passed into law, will help minimize the situation where the Government is called upon to find the resources to pay out depositors when a bank or a specialised deposit-taking institution fails. Amendments proposed The Committee respectfully recom- mends the following amendments to the Bill: i. Clause 4 -- amendment proposed -- Last but two lines, delete “paragraphs” before “subsection”, and after “penalty units” in the last but one line, delete “or to a term of imprisonment of not more than ten years or to both.” ii. Clause 5 -- amendment proposed -- Paragraph (a), after “investment” insert “of that fund” iii. Clause 5 -- amendment proposed -- Paragraph (b), after “investment”, insert”of that fund” iv. Clause 6 -- amendment proposed -- Delete and insert the following: Section 13 of Act 931 amended 6. The principal enactment is amended by the substitution for section 13 of “Insurable deposits 13. (1) With the exception of the following, a bank or specialised deposit- taking institution shall insure with the Scheme, deposits held at that bank or specialised deposit-taking institution: (a) a deposit for which a depositor has not been identified; (b) a deposit that is frozen in compliance with an order of a court; (c) a deposit that belongs to (i) a director or a key management personnel; (ii) a director or a key management personnel who has worked with the bank or specialised deposit-taking institution for at least three years preceding the occurrence of the insured event; or (iii) an accounting or audit firm, a partner of that accounting or audit firm, and a manager of that audit firm or accounting firm who is in charge of performing the external audit of the financial statements of the bank or specialised deposit-taking institution for at least the three years preceding the-occurrence of an insured event; (iv) a deposit that is used as a collateral for a loan or other obligation with the bank or specialised deposit-taking institution; (a) a deposit held in a bank or specialised deposit-taking institution by a financial institution, pension fund, retirement fund, insurance company, collective investment undertaking, local government, central government and administrative authority; and (b) a deposit held in a foreign branch of a bank or a specialised deposit-taking institution incorporated in Ghana, and a subsidiary of that bank or specialised deposit-taking institution operating in a foreign country. (2) The Minister may, in consultation with the Board, by a legislative instrument, review the list in subsection (1).” v. Clause 8 -- amendment proposed -- delete and insert the following: Section 21 of Act 931 amended 8. The principal enactment is amended in section 21 (a) by the insertion after subsection (1), of “(1A) An employee of the Corporation may, in consultation with the Bank of Ghana, enter the premises of the bank or specialised deposit-taking institution for the purpose of inspecting deposit- related records and activities of that bank or specialised deposit- taking institution.”; and (b) by an insertion after “penalty units” in the closing paragraph of subsection (2), of “and fifty penalty units for each day that the offence continues” vi. Clause 11 -- amendment proposed -- Delete.. vii. Clause 12 -- amendment proposed -- Line 9, insert “a” before “court” viii. Clause 13 -- amendment proposed -- Line 3, before “Funds” insert “Sources of' ix. Clause 14 -- amendment proposed -- Paragraph (c), at end delete “and” x. Clause 14 -- amendment proposed -- Add the following new paragraphs: (e) by the deletion of “accounts” in the definition of “depositor”; (f) by the deletion of the definition of “eligible deposits”; (g) by the deletion of the definition of “insurable deposits”; and (h) by the deletion of “an event that necessitates” in the definition of “insured event”. xi. Clause 15 -- amendment proposed - - lines 6 and 7, delete “twenty-four months after the coming into force of this Act, insure depositors” and insert “30th September, 2019, insure deposits” Conclusion The Committee has thoroughly examined the Bill and finds that its passage would bring relief to depositors and help to bring stability to the financial sector. In view of the foregoing, the Committee recommends to the House to adopt this report and pass the Ghana Deposit Protection (Amendment) Bill, 2018, into law under a Certificate of Urgency subject to the amendment proposed in accordance with article106(13) of the 1992 Constitution and the Standing Orders of the House. Respectfully submitted.
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to contribute to the Motion and in so doing, I wish to state that, this is a straightforward amendment. The purpose of the Bill is to address the shortcomings in the Act before its implementations, but one may ask why the Act has not been implemented and obviously find faults with the Act. Mr Speaker, already you would notice that, the concerned amendments are quite a lot - about 10 to 15 amendments. Most importantly, what really struck me is the fact that, the governance structure of the existing Act which we passed does not comply with the Basel Core Principles and the effectiveness of the International Association of Deposit Insurers (IADI). It is important for this House to notice that the governance structure that was passed includes the representatives of the savings and loans companies and the stakeholders who are concerned. Clearly, this does not comply with the principles of the Basel Convention and for that reason, I believe that amending this Act in line with international best practices would be very important for the implementation of the Deposit Protection Act. Mr Speaker, I support the Motion. Thank you.
Mr Speaker, I rise to contribute to the Motion and make some few comments. Mr Speaker, I refer to paragraph 7.3 of your Committee's Report where we have been informed that, due to operational challenges, the Bank of Ghana did not implement a law duly passed by Parliament. Mr Speaker, even if they are having operational challenges and Parliament has passed the law but they want exemptions, then they should do the proper thing. Mr Speaker, I do not think that your good self was informed or anybody in Parliament knew that the Bill was not being implemented. So, we need to send a signal that, institutions should pay attention to the laws of Ghana. Mr Speaker, after what we heard yesterday, we need to understand why it is even more urgent to pass this Bill. I refer to the situation where we were told that, the Bank of Ghana (BoG) has put UniBank Ghana Limited under an administrator to avert potential collapse of the banking system. We do not want that event to happen again. We know what happened to the UT and Capital Banks. The sooner we pass the amendments to the Ghana Deposit Protection Act, the better. Mr Speaker, the prospect of having many local banks being put under administration or receivership does not give comfort to small depositors. Small depositors form about 80 to 90 per cent of the depositors in the system. So, we need to assure ourselves that they are protected. Mr Speaker, yesterday, we approved of the loan to set up the Fund. Now, we are being asked to approve the amendment so that the Act, when amended, could come into operation soon. Mr Speaker, I urge Hon Members to support the Motion so that we could bring some comfort to all small depositors. With these few words, I thank you.
Hon Member, for a long time, I was rather trying to catch your eye, though you were on your feet, you were looking the other way. You may contribute.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I would like to contribute to the discussions on the Motion. I would like to draw particular attention to paragraph 7.2, where the benefits to relief for depositors have been clearly articulated. Mr Speaker, not long ago, we all experienced the impact of institutional failure on many ordinary people who have contributed to schemes that they thought would help them to better their lives. However, at the end of it when the schemes collapsed, they all went bankrupt, and today, there are examples of depositors with DKM Diamond Micro- Finance LTD and other schemes who are suffering. I am hopeful that something would be done in the very near future, but nothing had been done. Some have even lost their lives and their daily incomes, and they cannot take care of their families. Mr Speaker, if this Bill is passed into law, I believe it would help such people; the very poor people in our society who do not understand or have little knowledge of banking operations but have gone into it. These vulnerable people must be protected. I would want to propose and call on all Hon Members to support the Bill so that when passed into law, it would help such vulnerables especially our rural women who have little knowledge of banking principles. They would be protected so that they could also take part in taking care of their families. On this note, I would want to thank you for the attention. However, I would want to state that we would want to be careful that Ponzi schemes do not emerge. Some people might want to take advantage of this provision and come up with schemes aimed at duping innocent people.
Thank you very much Hon Member. Yes, Hon Oppong-Nkrumah, you may contribute.
Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity. Mr Speaker, first, my comment is in reference to paragraph 4 as captured on page 3 of your Committee's Report. It says: “Key among the concerns raised by key stakeholders is the need to give illegible institutions the needed time to address any prudential deficiency so as to ensure that as many illegible institutions as possible are included in this scheme”. Mr Speaker, this Act, as it stands now, has good intention, but because the framers of the Act do not intend literally for toxic materials to enter the scheme, organisations that desire to enter the scheme would have to meet some prudential requirements. It cannot become counter-productive if, indeed, effort is not made very quickly to shepherd all of those organisations to meet the necessary prudential requirements. This is because what would happen is that, we would have the Act even as amended, lying down but because people have not met the prudential requirement, they cannot enter the scheme, and the risk will still exist out there. So, we would like to encourage the Deposit Protection Corporation, as it gets about its business and the Bank of Ghana (BoG) to quicken their efforts at shepherding people to meet the necessary prudential requirements so that, they can enter the scheme properly for the intended benefits to be accrued. Mr Speaker, my final comment is on the fact that this is also coming in a bit late because the original Act requires six months post the date of gazette, which was October, for the Fund and the Scheme to have started operating. As the Hon Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation mentioned earlier, if an agency seized with the power to act is of the view that the transition provisions are a bit too short or stringent on them, it is incumbent on them to come back to this House to ask for good time so that they are not left literally breaching the law. We would like to encourage all other agencies that have legal requirements on them and are having implementation challenges to quickly come back and ensure that the right thing is done to support them. Mr Speaker, with these words, I support the Motion.
Yes, Hon Member?
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity. Mr Speaker, I would like to speak to the Motion before us. It is good to fine tune the Act so that in terms of implementation, we would not have many challenges. My difficulty has to do with the sections 9 and 20 of the parent Act. If we read the two sections together, section 9 talks about the objects of the Protection Fund. The section talks about protecting a small depositor. So, in this case, like I pay premium on my deposit with a bank, for example, if I have a GH¢100,000 with a bank, as a result of a bank failure, I am entitled to only GH¢6,250. This brings some kind of discrimination against other people. For example, if one is in a community where there is only one bank, there is no option than to deposit one's savings or income with that bank. But here we are with bank failure, and one is not entitled to the entire amount that, he deposited. Mr Speaker, in my view, we could have a second look at sections 9 and 20 of the parent Act because if we look at the amendment sections, there is no proposed amendment in the Bill. I would urge my Hon Chairman of the Committee, Hon (Dr) Assibey-Yeboah, that when it gets to the clause by clause consideration, we take a second look at it, so that we could cover almost everybody. This is because, the argument was that one could decide not to deposit with a bank or such institution or fail not to get the 100 per cent premium. But if I have no option than to save with that particular bank, what do I do? It would allow people to put moneys under their pillows. So, if we talk about financial inclusion, we would not achieve that. So, Mr Speaker, let us take a second look at it so that together we would support to fine-tune the parent Act. With these few words, I thank you for this opportunity.
Thank you very much for the clarity and brevity.
Mr Speaker, Leadership here would yield to the Hon Deputy Minister for Aviation.
Mr Speaker, if we take clause 9, section 24 of the Act, which deals with the functions of the corporation, it is very clear that, the new amendment gives some space to the corporation to do a lot of promotions for the deposit insurance. Mr Speaker, most of the time when people go for loans from the banks, they get insurance on the loans they have taken. Unfortunately, when people deposit, they do not seem to get insurance for the deposits they put in these banks. Then the information most of the time is also not out there, especially, by the banks, on the deposits they are making, which are going to be covered by insurance in case there is a failure of these institutions. Mr Speaker, I believe that with this provision that has been made in the amendment, it would go a long way to inform the general public for them to know which institutions have insurance for the deposit they put there so that people can make the right choices. Mr Speaker, it is very unfortunate that, for prudential reasons, not all specialised deposit taking institutions and banks would qualify and I think that it is something that we need to critically look at as a House or as a country to ensure that, whichever bank is set up, it would meet or be forced to be part of this process so that especially, banks in rural areas who are not at the centre of this country, say
Hon Minister, you may want to say a few concluding words.
Mr Speaker, I note that there is support for this amendment across the Chamber and we are grateful for that. The points made have been taken and as we implement this law, we would take them into account. Mr Speaker, there is just one small point I would like to make in respect of paying higher pay-out when there is an event. Mr Speaker, we ought to understand that this is an insurance. If we want higher pay-outs, it would reflect in the premiums that are paid. So studies have been done and some kind of balance has been achieved and this is where it is considered misbalanced to have the pay-outs. If as time progresses there is the need to vary this, the appropriate studies would be done and then the variation could be done. But the limit where it has been placed now is the most optimal resolution and I think we should embrace the amendment so that the objectives of this law could be achieved. Thank you, Mr Speaker. Question put and Motion agreed to. The Ghana Deposit Protection (Amendment) Bill, 2018 was accordingly read a Second time.
Mr Speaker, we would take item numbered 6.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that notwithstanding the provisions of Standing Order 80 (1) which require that no Motion shall be debated until at least forty-eight hours have elapsed between the date on which notice of the Motion is given and the date on which the Motion is moved, the Motion for the adoption of the Report of the Finance Committee on the Protocol between the Republic of Ghana and the Swiss Confederation Amending the Convention of 23rd July 2008 between the Republic of Ghana and the Swiss Confederation for the Avoidance of Double Taxation with Respect to Taxes on Income, on Capital and on Capital Gains and its Protocol may be moved today.
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion. Question put and Motion agreed to. Resolved accordingly Protocol between GoG and the Swiss Confederation on Avoidance of Double Taxation on Income, Capital Gains, et cetera
Mr Speaker, I beg to move that, this Honourable House adopts the Report of the Finance Committee on the Protocol between the Republic of Ghana and the Swiss Confederation Amending the Convention of 23rd July 2008 between the Republic of Ghana and the Swiss Confederation for the Avoidance of Double Taxation with Respect to Taxes on Income, on Capital and on Capital Gains and its Protocol. Mr Speaker, in so doing I present your Committee's Report. Introduction The Protocol between the Republic of Ghana and the Swiss Confederation amending the Convention of 23rd July 2008 Between the Government of Ghana and the Swiss Confederation for the Avoidance of Double Taxation with respect to Taxes on Income, Capital and on Capital Gains and its Protocol was laid in the House on Wednesday, 7th March, 2018 and referred to the Committee on Finance for consideration and report in accordance with the 1992 Constitution and Standing Orders of the House. To consider the Protocol, the Committee met with the Deputy Minister for Finance, Hon Kwaku Kwarteng and a team of officials from the Ministry of Finance. Documents referred to The Committee referred to the following documents: 1. The 1992 Constitution; 2. Convention Between the Government of Ghana and the Swiss Confederation for the Avoidance of Double Taxation with respect to Taxes on Income, Capital and Capital Gains and its Protocol; 3. The Standing Orders of Parliament. Background Cabinet at its meeting on 9th November, 2017 approved the Protocol Amending the Convention between the Government of Ghana and the Swiss Confederation for the Avoidance of Double Taxation with respect to Taxes on Income, Capital and Capital Gains and its Protocol for ratification by Parliament. Ghana and Switzerland have a Double Taxation Convention (DTC) that was signed in 2008. The Agreement came into force in 2010, following ratification by Parliament. Globalisation and recent developments have made some of the features of a number of DTCs outmoded. This came to the fore when the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax purposes conducted a review of Ghana's Exchange of Information procedures, Laws and agreements. The Review revealed that Ghana and Switzerland DTC did not meet the global standard of transparency and exchange of information. The Global Peer Review Group recommended that, the two countries take the needed steps to bring all its exchange of information Agreements to inter- national standard. It is as a result of this that the two countries agreed to amend the existing
convention to include the new measures via a Protocol. It is this Protocol that is currently before the House for ratification. Summary of the Protocol The new Protocol basically amends Article 27 of the Ghana-Switzerland Avoidance of Double Taxation Convention which deals with Exchange of information. Observations The need for the amended Protocol The technical team informed the Committee that, per the Convention, the provisions on Article 27 were not elaborate enough to promote effective exchange of information. Article 27 of the Convention was also not up to international standards as set out in Article 26 of the OECD Model Taxation Convention. The team also explained that Article 27 of the Convention provided for exchange of information that was “necessary” for carrying out the provisions of the Agreement and it also incorporates additional language, noting that it applies to “such information (that the laws of contracting states can obtain through normal administrative practice)”. This provision was not in line with international best standards as it limits the exchange of information to information obtained in the normal course of administration. The new protocol addresses these concerns and ensures that, the information provided is in accordance with the international standards spelt out in Article 26 of the OECD Model Taxation Convention. Benefits of Double Taxation Agreement The Committee noted that, the Double Taxation Agreement has a number of benefits for the country and these include: Encourage investments between Ghana and Switzerland as it encourages a stable and predictable tax environment between the two countries; Help eliminate situations where income from one of the treaty countries would be taxed twice; Facilitate cross border trade between the two countries; and Training of tax officials in modern tax administration. Conclusion The Committee, having critically examined the Protocol, expresses the opinion that, it will be of immense benefit to the country. The Committee thus recommends to the House to adopt its Report and approve by resolution, the Protocol Amending the Convention of 23rd July 2008 between the Government of the Republic of Ghana and the Swiss Confederation for the Avoidance of Double Taxation with respect to Taxes on Income, Capital and Capital Gains and its Protocol in accordance with Article 75 of the 1992 Constitution. Respectfully submitted.
Thank you very much, Hon Chairman.
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion. In doing so, I would like to draw the attention of the House to the fact that, we have been called upon to ratify an amendment to the existing Double Taxation Agreement (DTA) between the Government of Ghana and that of the Swiss Confederation. Mr Speaker, this is in respect of income taxes, capital gains and taxes on capital. This has become necessary because, the current provisions are not in line with the international best standards, as it limits the exchange of information obtained in the normal course of business. Mr Speaker, I am still concerned about the benefits that would accrue to us as a country. If I may take you to the Committee's Report, page 3, item 4.2, the benefits are bullets here. It says that, it encourages investments between Ghana and Switzerland, as it encourages a stable and predictable tax environment between the two countries. Mr Speaker, unfortunately, the Ministry of Finance failed to provide us with evidence that shows that, clearly, since this DTA was signed, Ghana has benefited in reference to this very benefit. Mr Speaker, unfortunately, I do not think so, because you can always see that investment between Ghana and Switzerland has not been going on in a steady manner. I support the Motion, but I would like to draw the attention of the Hon Minister for Finance to ensure that, in as much as we sign DTAs between Ghana and various countries, we should be able to as much as possible get enough benefits for the country. Mr Speaker, failure to do that, we are only giving opportunities to various countries to come to our country, take advantage of our double tax Agreement and go away without us actually benefiting from it. Mr Speaker, the only thing I can say has been of benefit to this country relates to training of tax officials in modern tax administration. Mr Speaker, that is something I believe we have signed on to OECD, IMF and the World Bank, and we should be able to get that anyway, so I do not take that as a major advantage. I believe that, the time has come for us to review all our DTAs, because we have about nine DTAs in force in this country, and the time has come for us to review them and see the impact and the contributions they give to this country. Mr Speaker, with these few words, I support the Motion. Question proposed.
Mr Speaker, I believe that in looking at this avoidance of double taxation Agreement, we would should also look at the level of activities that our two countries usually engage in. Mr Speaker, if we take a lot of the tax waivers and the tax avoidance we have done in this country, we would realise that because of our own capacity, most of the time when foreign companies come into this country to do business, in paying the proper taxes to us, they use this Agreement to avoid these taxes paid in our country and rather, benefit a lot from these taxes.
Thank you very much Mr Speaker. This House has approved a number of these avoidance of double taxation legislations and protocols, and I believe what we need to do is to find out whether it is worth doing in the first place. How many Ghanaian businesses or Ghanaian nationals outside there do benefit from these avoidance of double taxation? If we have some idea, it would encourage us to do so. We have signed so many of them. If the Ministry of Finance which is always piloting these protocols to this House, can give us regular briefings and indicate to us the benefits of these avoidance of double taxation legislations that we do. Of course, with this Swiss Confederation, I know they have a lot of businesses in Ghana and we also do some business with them. How many people do that, and how is the savings? Do Ghanaians benefit? Do our companies benefit? This is very important, and we should have regular reports. I believe that under the Finance Committee, this should come to us regularly to see, because as we talk, we do not even know the number of such countries that we have these Agreements with, and it is important that we periodically review them and see. I think that when we do so, all of us would be interested in how these things are done. I support this Motion and believe that in future, things should be done clearly for all of us to appreciate.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. I also rise to support the Motion. I would agree with the Hon Member for Wa West, that the House continually approves this Double Taxation Agreement. What we need to do is for the Hon Minister for Finance to tell us what the benefits are so far, that we, as a country have derived from these arrangements, because, this is a double taxation Agreement between Ghana and Switzerland. What we need to do is to do the analysis to find out how many Ghanaians sending their businesses to Switzerland, and how many businesses from Switzerland come to Ghana, and what are the financial benefits if there is any? What should have been the tax that we should have paid as Ghanaians which we were not paying because of this Agreement, and what should have been the tax revenue that we should have collected from the businesses from Switzerland which we are not collecting? We can then find a balance, whether we are benefiting as a country or not. Mr Speaker, if you read the benefits as the Report talks about on page 3, it says that, it encourages investments and also eliminates situations where income from one country is taxed twice. If the benefit is, that it encourages investments, how many businesses from Switzerland come to Ghana? How many Ghanaians also do business in Switzerland? So Mr Speaker, we would continue to approve this Agreement if only we get the benefit that we derive as a country, but if we do not know, then we are just approving and probably not benefiting as a country, but rather citizens of another country taking advantage of this double taxation and ripping the country of the needed revenue that we should have to finance our development. Mr Speaker, as I support this Agreement, we would encourage the Hon Finance Minister to brief the House on the benefits we derive as a country from this arrangement.
I rise to also associate myself with the Report and by doing so, I would turn to page 3 of the Report where specifically, when the Committee engaged the Hon Minister, the purpose and the benefits that the country would derive from the double taxation Agreement was clearly spelt out. Mr Speaker, when there is deepening of cooperation, international relations between Ghana and another country, indeed, it puts Ghana in a good light. For that purpose, if these two countries: Switzerland and our own country, Ghana engage each other on business lines, I do not think that tax companies or businesses in either of these countries, just like other countries would be taxed, which are not party to this Agreement tells one that there are indeed some benefits to it. Mr Speaker, on page 3 of the Report, it tells us that, it would encourage a lot of investments between these two countries: our country Ghana and Switzerland. I believe that, whether or not there are many businesses here that are owned by the Swiss, is neither here nor there. The question is, what would be the incentive for Ghana to have the relationship or Agreement with Switzerland. Indeed, it is to promote -- if it did not even exist in the past, it is an Agreement that would waive certain tax obligations of the two countries when they both have to engage each other. That indeed would promote a lot of investments between the two countries. Mr Speaker, it would also facilitate cross-boundary trade between the two countries. We cannot deny the fact that we have resident Ghanaians in
Hon Members, item numbered 8 -- Resolutions. Yes, Hon Deputy Minister for Finance?
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion. Question put and the Motion agreed to. Resolved accordingly.
Mr Speaker, could we respectfully move to Addendum 2 of the Order Paper and take Motion numbered 1?
Hon Members, Addendum 2 Order Paper -- Motion numbered 1. Yes, Hon Chairman of the Committee? After this, we shall conclude the session and we would ask the Committee on the Bills to ensure that their winnowing is complete, so we can move with dispatch. Semi-Annual Reports of the Bank of Ghana on Petroleum Holding Funds and the Ghana Petroleum Funds -- January, July to December, 2017.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that this Honourable House adopts the Report of the Finance Committee on the Semi-Annual Reports of the Bank of Ghana on the Petroleum Holding Funds and the Ghana Petroleum Funds for the periods January 1 - June 30, 2017 and July 1 - December 31, 2017. Introduction Further to the presentation of the Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the Government of Ghana for the year ended 31st December, 2018, the Semi Annual Report on the Petroleum Holding Funds and Ghana Petroleum Funds, for the first half of the year ending 30th June, 2017 and the Semi Annual Report on the Petroleum Holding Funds, Ghana Petroleum Funds for the Second half of the year ending 31st December, 2017 were first presented to the House on the 3rd October, 2017 and 27th February, 2018 respectively, pursuant to Section 48 of the Petroleum Revenue Management Act, 2011 (Act 815) as amended by Act 893. The two Reports were referred to the Finance Committee for consideration and report in accordance with article 179 of the 1992 Constitution, and Orders 140 (5) and 169 of the Standing Orders of the House. The Committee met and considered the Report with the Deputy Minister for Finance, Hon Kwaku Kwarteng, the Governor of the Bank of Ghana, Dr Ernest Addison, the two Deputy Governors, Dr Maxwell Opoku Afari and Mrs Elsie Addo Awadzi and technical team from the Ministry of Finance and Bank of Ghana, and reports as follows:
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion and in doing so, I would like to draw the attention of the House to some few points. Mr Speaker, my first concern relates to what was laid before Parliament and what we actually considered at the Committee. Mr Speaker, for some strange reason, what was laid before Parliament was accounted on cash basis; but unfortunately, what was distributed at the Committee accounted on the petroleum receipts and accrual basis. Mr Speaker, this provides some distortions in reconciling the data with the Budget Statement. Mr Speaker, we have a duty to ensure that what the House has approved in the Budget Statement is indeed what has been allocated to the respective Legislative Instruments. Mr Speaker, sadly, in reconciling this with the 2017 Budget Statement, if I may point to page 167, it is clear that the Stabilisation Fund in particular, receives more than what the Budget Statement actually appropriated for it. The Budget Statement appropriated an amount of about US$79 million for the Stabilisation Fund. Strangely, the allocation on cash basis, which was actually transferred from the Bank of Ghana (BoG) to the Stabilisation Fund amounted to GH¢142.6 million. Mr Speaker, this is a Report from BoG. So clearly, it would be difficult for the Ministry of Finance to give us some answers to this matter but since the Hon Deputy Minister is here, he should take note. When we consider the petroleum receipts from BoG, they would have to provide us with some answers. Mr Speaker, secondly, let me also draw the attention of the House to the fact that the gas receipt from the petroleum revenue is zero. Mr Speaker, unfortunately, what this means is that, the recently issued energy bond which expects flows from both petroleum receipts and that of the gas, would suffer, to the extent that it may affect repayment. Mr Speaker, as we speak, this means that the energy sector is accruing huge debts. It is also important that the Hon Ministers responsible for Energy and Finance report to this House on how much has been accrued so far in terms of debt relating to gas. Mr Speaker, we have made a lot of investments in Ghana Gas as a country, to the extent that, we had to go for a Chinese Development Bank loan of about a US$1 billion to construct Ghana Gas. Unfortunately, Mr Speaker, the offtakers being the Volta River Authority (VRA) and the power producers have failed to pay them and even the State. This would mean that they would struggle in servicing the debt. Also, it would affect the energy bond. Mr Speaker, my concern is that, if we are not careful and we fail to deal with this matter, eventually, we may end up
defaulting on this energy bond. That is a major concern. I believe that going forward, the Ministry of Finance would look at this matter. Mr Speaker, before I conclude, if we are to look at table 3 on page 3 of your Committee's Report, under GNPC, a total amount of US$182 million actually went into GNPC. Mr Speaker, this is larger than what went into the Annual Budget Funding Amount (ABFA) of about US$169 million. Mr Speaker, clearly, the time has come for us to review the activities of GNPC. In the 2018 Budget Statement, GNPC deviated from their core mandate. It would construct agricultural roads and others. That is not the responsibility of GNPC. Mr Speaker, let me put it on record that this is in the 2018 Budget Statement. Mr Speaker, let me refer my Hon Colleagues to the Budget Statement. I know what I am talking about. Mr Speaker, the time has come for us to review the activities of GNPC, and it is important for this House to look at it. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
One from each side, and then the Hon Leaders.
If you have a point of correction, you may give it to your Hon Colleague on his feet. Hon Deputy Minister, you may go on. Anyone who has a point of correction can give it to him.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. [Interruption] -- I did not move the Motion.
Hon Member, are you addressing somebody else or me?
Mr Speaker, I have to address you. Mr Speaker, I have a couple of observations, especially in respect of the point made by my Hon Colleague, Hon Ato Forson. First, about the disparities he referred to in the Report that was put in the Budget Statement. In the Report that was actually laid in Parliament and also in the Report that was presented to the Committee when they reviewed the Report that was laid on the Floor, we ought not to compare these and point to disparities where they do not exist. What was presented in the Budget Statement was presented as the Report on the first three quarters. That is what we have in the Budget Statement. If we go to section 28 (2) of the Petroleum Revenue Management Act of 2011 -- Mr Speaker, with your permission, I would like to read: “The Bank of Ghana shall publish semi-annual reports on the Ghana Stabilisation Fund and the Ghana Heritage Fund not later than the 15th of February and the 15th of August of each year and shall present the report to Parliament and publish it in two state daily newspaper and on the website of the Bank.” Mr Speaker, the text clearly shows that by mid-February, this Report, which should cover the last half of the previous year, ought to be laid in Parliament and also published at the other places mentioned in the law. That definitely would capture the entire period, and would be different from what was captured for the first three quarters of the previous year. Mr Speaker, the BoG met the Committee in March. By March Mr Speaker, they had updated the figures. They said during the discussions that, these figures were more up to date. That is the reason we would have disparity between that one and what was laid in Parliament. So, to compare the three and to suggest there have been some disparities is an error. I ask my Hon Colleague to advert his mind to that. Mr Speaker, the second point I would like to make before I sit down is in respect of the returns we get on these investments. I think it became clear at the Committee that, the Ministry of Finance, has taken it on board that, it had not been able to put those investments to better use. We could amend the law to change the mode of the investment and the nature of the investments that we could do. We have suggested to the Bank of Ghana to give us a formal presentation on this. On that basis, we would be able to take steps to make the relevant legislative changes so that, the benefits that we seek to get from better investments would happen. I thank you, Mr Speaker.
Yes, Hon Member?
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I rise to contribute to the debate on the Floor and to draw the House's attention to a number of mistakes in the Report. We would take a decision whether the House should approve the Report in this form or we should ask the Committee to go back and correct them. Mr Speaker, first of all, if we look at the Motion that was moved by the Hon Chairman of the Committee, it talks about the Semi-Annual Report of the Bank of Ghana on the Petroleum Holding Funds and Ghana Petroleum for the first half and second half of 2017. Mr Speaker, the Report talks about the Semi-Annual Report on the Petroleum Holding Fund. No reference is made to the Bank of Ghana here. So, we do not know whether the Report we are debating is actually for the Motion that he moved. Mr Speaker, that is the first mistake. Mr Speaker, now, if you come to the Report itself on page 3, I would want the Hon Chairman to pay attention and take note. Paragraph 4.3, Allocation of the 2017 PHF Receipts: “A total amount of US$277.54 million was distributed from the Petroleum Holding Fund for the Second Half of 2017. Details of the distribution is shown on Table 2 below.” That is Table 3. It says “Table 2 below”, but the table below is Table 3. Mr Speaker, now, the total amount referred to in the paragraph is US$277.54 million, but we see that the total in the table is US$555,332,410.55.
Mr Speaker, it says: “There was no cap on the GSF during the year and the ABFA target of US$84.73 million was fully met. The Total withdrawal from the GSF was US$430.64 million.” Mr Speaker, where from this US$430.64 million? They said there was no withdrawal; then at the end, they said “Total withdrawal from the GSF was US$430.64 million”. Where from that US$430.64 million? We do not know what they are talking about. Mr Speaker, let us go on. Paragraph 6.1 says; “Amendment to the Petroleum Revenue Management law”. Then it went on to say: “…Petroleum Revenue Manage- ment Law to give BoG the mix of instruments to invest the funds in higher yielding instruments without comprising.” Mr Speaker, it should have been “compromise” all these are contained in the Report moved by the Hon Chairman of the Committee. Mr Speaker, that is not all. Mr Speaker, when we come to page 5, paragraph 6.3, “Investment in GSF and GHF”, I do not think that we invest in those Funds. We do not. We invest those Funds. So, it should have been ‘investment of ' -- [Laughter]-- [Interruptions.]
Order! Order! Hon Member, you are reading the unanimous Report of the Committee, the ownership of which is both sides of the House. Go on, Hon Member. [Interruption.] This is the unanimous decision of the Committee.
Mr Speaker, I am doing this because this Report cannot [Interruption.]
Hon Member, I want you to go on. Hon Member, I am just making reference to the fact that you are reading the unanimous Report of both sides of the House. Go on.
Mr Speaker, this is your Committee, and the Committee's Report—
Hon Member, honourably go on.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, now, I would refer again to the conclusion. I would want the Hon Chairman to tell me what he means by— If we read the conclusion, it says that: “After careful consideration of the two Reports, the Committee is of the view that the Reports generally comply with the requirements of the Petroleum Revenue Act (Act 815). It accounted for the use of the petroleum funds…” The ‘It' here refers to something I do not know. So, the Hon Chairman of the Committee should tell us what he refers to as “It” in the Report. So, Mr Speaker, I have drawn the attention of the House to a number of mistakes in this Report. If we should go ahead as a House to approve the Report in this form, it does not augur well for us as a House. I think that the best thing to do is to ask the Committee to go back, do the corrections and bring back the Report, which we can — I am not against the Report at all, but I am against the Report in the format that it takes now. It is not the Report in general; but in this format, I am against it. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Hon Chairman of the Committee?
Mr Speaker, respectfully, the Hon Deputy Minority Leader made an application that the House should reject the Report because it contains typographical errors. [Interruption.]
The Hon Deputy Minority Leader made himself clear. He did not reject the Report, but said that there are a number of errors that should be considered. So, please, address me on that. I like to narrow issues. That is what we do in court any way. Address me on the issue.
Mr Speaker, I seek your leave to correct a few typographical errors in the Report.
Very well. List them.
I took note of the ones he drew our attention to.
Procedurally, it is allowed for us to make those corrections right here. So, list and correct them, and then we proceed.
Mr Speaker, I think that the Table Office has taken note of most of the corrections he pointed out. I am in total agreement. [Laughter.]
The Hansard must capture the various corrections made, and then we would proceed from there. Any other contributions? Who would conclude? Hon Minority Leader, do you want to contribute?
Hon Chairman, make additional corrections, then we would proceed.
Mr Speaker, it was captured by the Hon Deputy Minority Leader. I am just drawing his attention that there is no Public Management Revenue Act.
Kindly note the proposed amendments or corrections.
Also, the table he referred us to -- However, while I pick -- That would be my only comment, and then I would make a recommendation. I need your guidance on this. On paragraph 5.4, while they intimate to Parliament that there is no withdrawal from the Ghana Stabilisation Fund, they end up with a withdrawal of US$430.64 million. I would like to ask the Competent Hon Chairman if we are deleting the withdrawal or if there was a withdrawal. So, we would delete the withdrawal.
Delete withdrawal accordingly.
Finally, I heard the Hon Deputy Minister for Finance speak. Unfortunately, he did not even stay for you to put the Question. So as we debate this matter, there is no representative of the Hon Minister for Finance. That omission -- I would conclude with why I am saying this. In the Conclusions I quote: with your kind permission: “The Committee further urges the Minister for Finance to implement the valuable recommendations in the previous Reports as required by Law.” I have seen that Hon Kwarteng is back. [Interruption] -- No, he was here and I acknowledge that. At the time I made the comment, he was not here. [Interruption.] No, he spoke --
Hon Member, let us make progress. There are many health reasons the Hon Member should stretch.
Investment of Ghana Stabilisation Fund and Ghana Heritage Fund are under paragraph 6.3. My point is that, this House under your leadership and guidance, must direct the Hon Minister for Finance with time limits. They would not walk away today with a free cheque. Per Mr Speaker's guidance, they have up to June. This is my wish, so I would request Mr Speaker -- they should come to this House with an amendment. So they should walk through the governance process and go to Cabinet. This is because repeatedly, every Report on the Petroleum Holding Funds has recommended strongly that the Bank of Ghana invest them for higher yields. What ties our hands from doing that? Mr Speaker, you would need to guide us. We cannot read a Report, and I quote paragraph 6.2: “The Committee noted with concern the revelations by the Bank of Ghana that a number of petroleum agreements have provisions which were in violations of the tax laws.” Which tax laws? That is repugnant even to our governance process, and again an indictment on this House. If those Agreements come to Parliament, how can we approve them if they do not respect the tax regime of this country? So Parliament must take note of it, if the Committee's Report is something to be relied on. I was here when the Hon Deputy Majority Leader walked in. I saw her walk in. In any case,Mr Speaker, I have finished my submission. Subject to those corrections, you would note that -- When I say it, one does not frighten a queen mother -- it is all right.
There is no need for a formal Motion in order to make corrections in these circumstances. The situation is akin to a Consideration Stage. This House is empowered to do so. Yes, indeed, we must take a very serious view of our Committee Reports, so that they can always stand the test of time. Both Sides of the House are owners in terms of authorship of this Committee Report. Therefore, we are all well advised accordingly. Hon Chairman, take on board the various suggestions and corrections.
Very well, Mr Speaker, I would liaise with them.
The Table Office should take note and effect all the appropriate corrections. Motion for Adjournment?
Mr Speaker, respectfully, we have a Committee of the Whole. So, at this juncture, I would want to move for the adjournment of this House till tomorrow at 12.00 o'clock in the forenoon.
Mr Speaker, we had been Sitting for long and it is almost 2.00 o'clock. I beg to second the Motion for adjournment, noting that we would consider the District Assemblies Common Fund Formula at the Committee of the Whole.
Very well. Question put and Motion agreed to.
The House was accordingly adjourned at 1.55 p.m. till Thursday, 22nd March, 2018 at 10.00 a.m.