VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS AND THE OFFICIAL REPORT
Hon Members, item numbered 2 -- Correction of Votes and Proceedings of Friday, 9th March, 2018. Page 1, 2, …9
Mr Speaker, on page 8, number 16 -- Chireh, Joseph Yieleh. I filled my form for leave of absence because I was in the Pan-African Parliament meeting from 7th to 8th of March but I see that my name is marked as absent without permission. Mr Speaker, I duly filled the form because I was going for another assignment outside this Parliament. So, I would want to draw your attention to it.
Thank you very much. It has been corrected accordingly. Page 9, 10…
Mr Speaker, thank you. I was present on Friday but my name is captured as absent.
Mr Speaker, my name is number 22 of page 8 -- Jajah, Yussif Issaka.
Thank you very much. It will be corrected accordingly. Page 11, 12, … 15. Hon Members, the Votes and Pro- ceedings of Friday, 9th March, 2018 as corrected is hereby adopted as the true record of proceedings. Hon Members, Official Report of Wednesday, 21st February, 2018. Any corrections, please?
[No correction was made to the Official Report of Wednesday, 21 st February, 2018.]
Mr Speaker, I was trying to enquire from the Hon Majority Chief Whip, if there are any outstanding Statements. Unfortunately, he tells me that he was not at the pre- Sitting meeting with you, just as I was not available, and because I was not available last week, I am not too sure of the status of Statements that may be with you.
Hon Majority Leader, kindly let me read what I have, just for the sake of the issue and then you would come in. There is one from Hon Ekow Hayford regarding microfinance. Another from Hon John Frimpong Osei on the Minerals Development Fund and a third from Hon Asemanyi on the Global Partnership for Education. The Hon Member for Kintampo North also has a Statement on shea nuts, mangrove, cashew trees and economic crops, followed by one on military operations in Kumbungu. We have a Statement on the death of Hon Nii Nortey Dua by Hon George Boahen Oduro, which would be followed by a Statement on the kind of gory pictures we sometimes see on accidents and what could be done. Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I also failed to show up because we had an emergency caucus meeting with the leadership of the party and that was why I could not join you, but in the last few days, I have persuaded you to admit the Statement by the Hon Member for Kumbungu Constituency, Hon Ras Mubarak, following the actions in the Kumbungu area. Indeed, I sought your leave to lead a fact finding delegation to apprise myself of the situation. So, if you had permitted that then that would be helpful. Mr Speaker, apart from that the rest is at your pleasure.
Hon Minority Leader, your preference would be for the Hon Member for Kumbungu? Hon Majority Leader, from your end?
Mr Speaker, I am informed that last Friday Hon John Frimpong Osei was to make a Statement. He is in the Chamber now and so, if he may be permitted to read his Statement.
Hon Majority Leader, I do not get you. Which Statement?
Mr Speaker, the Statement on the Implementation of the Minerals Development Fund by the Hon Member for Abirem in the Eastern Region.
Hon Member for Abirem?
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to make this Statement. Mr Speaker, it is an indisputable fact that the country's mining/quarrying sector has contributed to Ghana's GDP over the years. This sector chalked a remarkable growth, according to the 2018 Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the government, from a comatose figure of 7.6 per cent in 2016 to 52.3 per cent in 2017, at a time that the sector was undergoing planned reforms to purge it from illegal operations. In addition to this gain indicated in the 2018 Budget Statement, mining contributes to job creation; provision of social amenities and infrastructure through corporate social responsibility; and skills training and technology transfer, among others.
a.the disbursement and manage- ment of ceded royalties received by government; b. redress harmful effects of mining on communities and persons. -- c. promote local economic development and alternative livelihood projects in communities affected by mining activities, etc. Mr Speaker, it is regrettable, however that the implementation of the Act has been fraught with some delays. It is of paramount importance that the following issues are addressed to operationalise the fund: a.getting the MDF Board constituted; b.disbursing to the Mining Community Development Scheme (MCDS) 20 per cent of the portion of MDF set aside to support sustainable mining and development. c. establishing under the scheme in each community, a local management committee to manage the fund. Mr Speaker, until this laudable policy espoused under ACT 912 (2016) is fully implemented, people living in mining communities will continuously remain short changed without alternative livelihoods. Mr Speaker, it is disheartening to see the unemployed youth in the Abirem Constituency, for instance, particularly those in the communities affected by mining desperately looking for non- existent job opportunities. Mr Speaker, compensations have been paid to the affected farmers, some social amenities have been provided in the communities, some limited job opportunities have been created for some of the youth, but the majority of the unemployed youth and the active middle aged farmers whose lands have been ceded to mining companies face the unbearable realities of life. This joblessness makes the future of majority of the people in these areas very gloomy. Mr Speaker, the delay in the implementation of the MDF Act is becoming a source of grave concern for the intended beneficiaries. This invariably is postponing the opportunities it would afford these communities to lift themselves out of poverty and deprivation that seem to be their lot at the moment. Mr Speaker, I am therefore urging the government to quicken the processes for the full implementation of the Act, while the mining companies relook at the plight of the people in the communities and further support them to earn a decent living through the provision of alternative livelihoods. Mr Speaker, what happens to our natural resources after the life of mining has consequences on both existing generation and the generations to come? In view of this, the present generation cannot ignore the interest of the future generations. The life threatening conditions some people go through in these areas cannot be overemphasised. In the same vein, Mr Speaker, as a nation, we cannot afford to exhaust all the royalties paid without any provision for the future generations. It is also appropriate to set aside a fund, similar to the Heritage Fund under the petroleum sector, for the unborn generation. Corporate Social Responsibility In conclusion, Mr Speaker, it is true that some of the mining companies are adhering to the details of their corporate social responsibility contract with the people. There is the urgent need to empower them to make a decent living. This is because the capacity of the people for alternative livelihood is not adequately developed to cope with the new trend of socio-economic activities associated with mining. Mr Speaker, the sector contributes an average of about 2.6 per cent to Ghana's GDP. However, comparing the benefits Ghana gets from mining with the resultant impact of its operations on the communities, one may be tempted to conclude that the nation is the net loser. I therefore, recommend that an audit be conducted into the mining sector as a whole, with particular attention to its impact on the people in the affected
Thank you very much, Hon Member.
Hon Members, before we go any further, I have the pleasure to introduce to you an eight-member delegation of the Committee on Economic Development and Environment as well as Agriculture and Rural Development from the Gauteng Provincial Legislature of South Africa, who are on a one-week study visit to Ghana. They are to promote the strengthening of ties between our two Legislatures and for us to all compare best practices. The delegation comprises: Hon Errol Magerman -- Leader of the Delegation; Hon Thokozile Magagula -- Member; Hon Nompi Nhlapo -- Member; Hon Ali Makola -- Member; Hon Janet Semple -- Member; Hon Ina Cilliers -- Member; Mr Bongani Mabuza -- Reseacher; Ms Lebogang Mample -- Coordinator; We wish them all the best. Hon Members, your contributions on the Statement. Yes, Hon Member?
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity. Let me thank the Hon Member, Hon John Frimpong Osei who is the Member of Parliament (MP) for Abirem for this very important Statement. Mr Speaker, I thought the Mining Development Fund Act, (Act 912) accepted clearly the challenges and the problems of communities in the mining areas in our country. That was exactly why this Act was passed. It acknowledged in the passage of that Act, the realities of how livelihood of people in those mining communities have really suffered from issues of environmental degradation, pollution of water bodies and so many other challenges, including increase in social vices that quite frankly go with these mining activities in these communities. That is exactly why the Act was passed. It is very clear, as it is stated in the Statement of the Hon Member, that it was for a very good intention, but unfortunately, we still have a long way to go in implementing the spirit and the intentions of the Act. I believe the call for the immediate establishment of the Board of the Mining Development Fund in order to implement the allocation of those funds to those communities is not only urgent, it is overdue. Mr Speaker, I believe it is also important to inform the mining communities to understand that just the mere fact that the Government of Ghana has given them the licence does not mean that when they go to those communities they should treat them the way they do now. In fact, the real social licence is given by the people of these communities. Mr Speaker, the realities that have been described in this Statement are real. Just last week, in my own community in the Ellembelle District, I had to work with the mining company, Adamus Resources Ghana Limited, to deal with a community called Salman that had over the years felt very aggrieved, that they have not been well treated with the usual excuse that they do not have the requisite skills. This mining company has been in existence, but I understand that they do not have what it takes to work in the mining sector. They should show me their plan on what they have been doing to ensure that in the next five to six years we can have engineers from these communities. Communities that have lost so much, that a mining company could look at the people and say that since they came there, they had produced five top engineers and have transformed their community, such that they could point to things that have really transformed lives in these communities. Mr Speaker, in my opinion, these are the steps that have been taken and I believe that is the intention of the Mining Development Fund and the reason it was established. It is important, and I believe the call of the maker of this Statement is very urgent; a call on government to make sure that a full implementation of the Mining Development Fund is really in place, and that the government must take this call seriously. I have talked to so many chiefs across the country and they are not very happy at all about government's delay in the allocation of what is due them. It is time for this to take place, and it is time for the mining communities to understand that the real social licence is given by the mining communities. Even though they could get legal backing by Parliament, it is the communities that must be empowered. Mr Speaker, lastly, you often see mining companies undertaking corporate social responsibilities conveniently in areas that suits them. I see mining companies setting up a golf course in a remote community as part of their corporate social responsiblity. How would that benefit the community? I think it is about time, that mining companies engage communities and make sure they work with them. It is also very important that as they do this, government gives support to local communities so that what is intended in this Mineral Development Fund Act (Act 912) would be realised. Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity.
Hon (Dr) Okoe Boye?
Mr Speaker, I am very grateful for the opportunity. Mr Speaker, I would like to commend the Hon Member who made the Statement for drawing attention to the plight of most of our mining communities and also
Mr Speaker, I rise to add my voice to that of the maker of the Statement regarding the contribution of mining to the development of our economy, and particularly, to the development of mining communities. Mr Speaker, regarding the mining in Abirem, which is at the centre of the Statement, I wish to say that before Newmont started mining in the Abirem area, the area lacked a lot of development but with Newmont's activities of mining in the area, it has seen some significant development. Mr Speaker, regarding the Minerals Development Fund, while I share with the maker of the Statement that it is a way of making clear how resources from mining activities would be used to develop the area, I have some concerns. Mr Speaker, the concerns I have are first, 50 per cent of the moneys collected by the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) must be paid to the office of the Administrator of Stool Lands, which would be disbursed according to a formula provided for in the Constitution under article 267. But the concern I have is that also in the Constitution, particularly, the provisions of article 267 says as follows and I beg ro quote: “(2) There shall be established the Office of the Administrator of Stool Lands which shall be responsible for -- (b) the collection of all such rents, dues, royalties, revenues or other payments whether in the nature of income or capital, and to account for them to the beneficiaries specified in clause (6) of this article.”
“Ten per cent of the revenue accruing from stool lands shall be paid to the Office of the Aminis- trator of Stool Lands to cover administrative expenses; and the remaining revenue shall be disbursed in the following proportions -- (a) twenty-five per cent to the stool through the traditional authority for the maintenance of the stool in keeping with its status; (b) twenty per cent to the traditional authority; and the (c) fifty-five per cent to the District Assembly, within the area of authority of which the stool lands are situated.” Mr Speaker, mining in Abirem occurs on a stool land. If mining in Abirem occurs on a stool land, then the collection of the revenues accrued from the mining in my view, should not be collected by the Ghana Revenue Authority, but rather by the Office of the Administrator of Stool Lands in accordance with article 267 (b) of the Constitution and disbursed according to the formula stated. Mr Speaker, if we look at the arrangement in the Mineral Development Funds, after GRA collects their money, 50 per cent of that is what is paid to the
Mr Speaker, thank you very much. I also rise to contribute to the Statement ably made by my Hon Colleague, the Member for Abirem, Hon Frimpong Osei. Mr Speaker, there is no doubt that the Mining and Minerals Act, (912), is a good one. The challenge is how we would implement this Act, and that is what the Hon Member seeks to do by asking Parliament and relevant institutions to support in the full implementation of the Act. Mr Speaker, the benefits of mining to our dear nation are known to everybody. It gives employment and contributes to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country -- We are very much aware, but the question is, what has been the impact of mining as a whole, and specifically, to the people who are with these mining companies. This is the question that we all have to seek answers to and get the necessary solutions. The Minerals Development Fund is also another good attempt to spread the benefits of mining, especially to the mining communities. For me, we have no option. Even if we have to acquire all the royalties and all the revenues that we have as a nation to the benefit of the people who are with the mining companies in the operational areas, we need to do it. Mr Speaker, if you visit most of the mining communities, the tension that is being generated, if we are not careful, the nation would have a big problem to solve. The maker of the Statement asked for the full implementation of the Minerals Development Fund and it is in order, so we should take it very seriously so that the impact we are facing now with the mining activities in the operational areas can be dealt with. Mr Speaker, the Government has a role to play in this. We engage the Minerals Commission, which is the regulatory agency, to deal with all the mining activities in the country. Mr Speaker, the Commission is very challenged in terms of professional staff and officers to help even in the monitoring and supervision of mining activities, and they have made requests to the Ministry of Finance to allow them to recruit more people, to help them to undertake these monitoring and supervision exercises. Mr Speaker, we also need to be very cautious and look at the local content that my Hon Colleague, Collins Dauda, just mentioned. It is very important. There are things that Ghanaians can do and do them better. Why should we give such things to foreigners to undertake while Ghanaians are capable of delivering such services? We need to look at the local content and make sure that those that can be undertaken by our people are given to them and they would deliver to the satisfaction of everyone. Mr Speaker, I would conclude, but also to say that Parliament also has a role to play. By the Act, all the development Agreements are supposed to come to Parliament for ratification. Sooner or later, the development Agreement which has been entered into by the Government of Ghana (GoG) and Anglogold Ghana Limited (AGL) would come to this House. It is the duty of Parliament to scrutinise and make the necessary suggestions and recommendations so that Ghanaians would have the full benefits of these mining activities. I believe that those mining companies that are operating but their development Agreements have not been brought to Parliament for ratification -- I would recommend to the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources to work very hard so that they can bring all those Agreements to the House for ratification. I think it is for the good of the country, not for one or two individuals or people in the country. It is important, and as I recognise my Hon Colleague, the Deputy Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, we would call upon them and the Ministry to work hard to bring all the other development Agreements that have not been ratified by this House, to this House for ratification. It is very important.
Hon Member, thank you very much. Minority Leadership?
Mr Speaker, let me thank you for the opportunity to make a comment on the Statement ably presented by our Hon Colleague, John Frimpong Osei, the Hon Member of Parliament for Abirem, which draws national attention to the implementation of the Minerals Development Fund, of 2016 Act 912 . It also draws our attention to many other issues of national concern. Mr Speaker, Ghana has a long history in mining. I am reliably told that we contribute about 36 per cent of the total world's exports of gold. From the year 1493 to 1997, over 18 million ounces of gold was exported from Ghana. Mr Speaker, while I commend the Hon Member who made the Statement, the question we would need to ask ourselves is; is mining a blessing to our country, a lost opportunity or an opportunity? I ask this because if we take a cursory examination of mining communities in Ghana, from Kenyasi through Obuasi, through other areas in the Western Region, many of the communities are in a sorry state of development. Access to social infrastructure and amenities is not one which reflects the amount of resources. Gold that has been taken out of those areas -- When it comes to the issue of restoration, many of the communities are also found wanting. Mr Speaker, the Hon Member who made the Statement raised a significant issue and I believe it is only appropriate to take this opportunity to call on the President of the Republic. Mr Speaker, if you would recall, in subsequent representation of the Budget Statement, we had some workshop. There are still many boards, councils and governing councils that have not been inaugurated by the President. I think that is affecting governance in the country generally, and the President must take urgent steps to get those boards, councils and institutions properly constituted and inaugurated. This includes the Minerals Development Fund Act. It is not for them to say that it is work in progress. Governance must begin at the level of the boards, councils and institutions. Indeed, Mr Speaker, the recruitment function is the function of the boards. How do we expect those institutions to function without the significant governance structure? So, first, I would join the Hon Member who made the Statement in calling on the President, that he should not just constitute the Minerals Development Fund, but all other councils, boards and commissions which have not been done in accordance with the law, per article 70 of the Constitution, where the mandate is vested in the President. He must be seen making many of the institutions functional because some Ministries cannot exercise proper oversight when they have to deal with only Chief Executives. Mr Speaker, on the issue of Minerals Development Fund, Parliament is part of the problem. Parliament is not only for legislation; we are, representatives of the people. It is not for nothing. Mr Speaker, with your indulgence, I beg to quote article 268 of the Constitution. I would want to read it for emphasis. “Any transaction, contract or undertaking involving the grant of a right or concession by or on behalf of any person including the Government of Ghana, to any other person or body of persons howsoever described, for the exploitation of any mineral, water or other natural resource of Ghana made or entered into after the coming into force of the Constitution shall be subject to ratification by Parliament.” Mr Speaker, indeed, article 268(2) provides, and for emphasis, I would like to quote again: “Parliament may, by resolution supported by the votes of not less than two-thirds of all the members of Parliament…” Mr Speaker, two-thirds; an over- whelming majority. So, the Constitution imposes an obligation on the repre- sentatives of the people to take particular interest in the grant of the mineral resources. Mr Speaker, you would recall recently that at the Rt Hon Speaker's Breakfast Forum, you ignited some debate on the matter on mineral resources. That is healthy and welcome but Parliament must play its rightful role in exercising the representational oversight that we do not grant any mineral resources without due regard or cause to the Parliament of the Republic of Ghana. But such is the case. Many of the mineral Agreements that have been signed are sitting in the corridors of the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources. Mr Speaker, even our Supreme Court rulings make it even more compelling and we find no excuse. I have no hesitation in adding that the Parliament of Ghana, over the years, has slept on this constitutional onus in ratifying developmental Agreements. We must be seen doing so because we owe it a duty to the mining communities for the mining companies to develop them. Mr Speaker, as I am speaking, the mining industry in Ghana is in a near-crisis. I know what is happening to Gold Fields Ghana Limited; we know what has happened to the takeovers and the amalgamations. But for many of them, Parliament is not even apprised. The mining industry used to be a major employer, but today, it is not the case. Yet, we continue to export gold. I know there were some decisions at value addition. Can we not process our own gold in order to add value? Mr Speaker, I have repeated myself several times on this matter. If we want to cure a depreciating cedi or an epileptic cedi against major currencies, the solutions lie in expanded exports. Mr Speaker, at a point, we had to take a decision as a country on how money on gold receipts is handled. This is because at a point, it did not hit where we wanted it in terms of central bank and Bank of Ghana control over it, in order that we have some foreign exchange reserve.
Mr Speaker, I can only commend the Hon Member who made the Statement. The mining industry is in sharp decline. We would need to do the audit that the Hon Member has asked for. But, Mr Speaker, I shudder to ask for the kind of audit he is looking for. Is it a human resource audit? He needs to be specific, if he is guiding us to take a decision. With regard to social amenities in the area, Mr Speaker, if we take Obuasi, many of our compatriots from northern Ghana live and work in that particular area. Following the decline in the industry, they are without jobs. Recently, the Hon Majority Leader and I received a petition from the Mine Workers' Union protesting the conduct of one of the major gold mining companies in our country. I share the concerns of the Hon Member who made the Statement. We should get the Minerals Development Fund -- Mr Speaker, even when the chiefs get their due, how well do those communities benefit from them? We should be interested as a Parliament. It is not just an allocation of 20 per cent. To what extent is the 20 per cent disbursed in an open and transparent manner? Mr Speaker, let me conclude by using my own traditional council, the Dagbon Traditional Council. When the Europeans wanted to say they are teaching us openness and transparency -- No! Inherent in the Ghanaian culture was openness and transparency. Indeed, if someone had to knock on the door of Ga Mantse or La Mantse, the person went through a process. That process was open and trans- parent. If someone enters any palace in Dagbon, he must declare what he has for the chief and the elders; this was done in the open, and that is transparency. We think that in the development of our mineral resources, Parliament needs to reposition itself. Mr Speaker, as you ignited the debate on mineral policy, we would need to look at it. For instance, we are aware that President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo- Addo is looking at using bauxite to negotiate and to deal with the Chinese. He needs a united country to do that because article 268 of the Constitution imposes an overwhelming majority on him -- two-thirds -- He would need -- [Interruption] -- Whether “may” or “shall” used as operative, there are Supreme Court rulings on it. Article 268 would be respected to its letter and spirit. I am only saying that, yes, justified, we need to develop the smelter and aluminium industry. We need to take advantage of bauxite, but in doing so, it must be done in accord with the laws and the Constitution of Ghana. Therefore, proper, open and broad consultation is important. Mr Speaker, I will produce it if they want it. You do not have to worry. Yes, there is formal correspondence that -- Were they not in the country when the Vice President announced that there is US$35 billion coming from China?
So, Mr Speaker, I commend the Hon Member who made the Statement and I thank you. [Laughter.]
Mr Speaker, I caught your eye before the Hon Minority Leader ended his contribution. Mr Speaker, the Hon Minority Leader referred to a certain letter. This is not a Chamber of hearsay and other statements not backed by evidence. This is a Statement which was made and is not supposed to provoke any debate. So, if he has got any letter attributing any wrongdoings on the part of any member of government, he should table it, but he should not just add and run for cover and say that he has a certain letter that he is going to produce some other day. Mr Speaker, that is my only concern. We want the letter produced.
Mr Speaker, before you called the Hon Minority Leader, the Hon Deputy Minister for Lands and Natural Resources wanted to make an intervention since this Statement relates to his Ministry. I would crave your indulgence to allow him to make a short intervention and, maybe, respond to some of the issues before I come in.
In other words, he takes the place of the Majority Leadership.
No, Mr Speaker, that is not the application.
He takes the slot of the Majority Leadership.
No, Mr Speaker, the import of the application I am making to you is this; that he is from the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources and that Ministry superintends the activities raised in this Statement. So, when he got up, I thought you were going to recognise him ahead of the Hon Minority Leader. Mr Speaker, that is the point I am making. So, you may allow him --
Hon Majority Leader, I would like to say that I do not want to be led into temptation. [Laughter.] If you would kindly allow him, then, to make the contribution of the Majority Leadership.
Mr Speaker, respectfully, if an Hon Minister comes here and a Statement is made relating to his Ministry, he must be accorded the proper place to respond to the issues and he cannot take the position of the Majority Leadership.
Majority Leadership? Deputy Minister for Lands and Natural Resources (Mr Benito Owusu- Bio)(MP): Mr Speaker, I would like to thank the Hon Member who made the Statement on the implementation of the Minerals Development Fund, Act 912, and to assure him and the House that, as we speak now, we, as a Ministry, have set up the Minerals Development Fund Office and this is in the Ministry. We have equipped the office with the necessary staff that they need, to the extent that the Ministry of Finance has also released part of the necessary funding, also for the Fund as stipulated under the Act.
If you would end here, you say, I would end here. You do not direct me on what to do. Thank you very much. Our next Statement is by the Hon Member for Kintampo North. In the interim, I must thank the Hon Majority Leader for resuming his seat so that my directive could prevail for the work to go on smoothly. I trust that all Hon Leaders would act in that way for the smooth operation of the House. Yes, Hon Member for Kintampo North? Is the Hon Member not here? 11. 40 a. m.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Member for Kintampo North is not even within the country. He has gone outside the country for an official assignment which you approved.
In this time when we are encouraging Hon Members to come timeously -- In the future, I would prefer that Hon Members come to make their Statements. This morning, we started with about 15 Hon Members.
Mr Speaker, this morning, I took cognisance of it and respectfully requested that the Statement of Hon Ras Mubarak, Hon Member for Kumbungu-- was what we persuaded you to consider.
Is there any other Statement from the Minority? Military operation in the Kumbungu Constituency
Mr Speaker, I make this Statement with a heavy heart. On Saturday, 3rd March , 2018, a contingent of military personnel were at Afa Yile, a village in the Dalun Electoral area in my constituency, ostensibly, to prevent people from polluting the Nawuni River, which is a source of water supply to the Tamale metropolis and its environs. The Ghana Water Company, chiefs and opinion leaders from the area have had to complain about the activities of sand winning along the banks of the Nawuni River. These complaints eventually culminated in persons involved in sand winning to relocate from Nawuni to Afa Yile, a village of about two kilometres from Nawuni River, where the military operations took place.
Thank you very much, Hon Member, for this Statement. This Statement directly touches and concerns the military. Luckily, the Hon Minister for Defence is in the House. He would respond to the Statement which may itself guide the contributions of this Honourable House. Hon Minister?
Thank you, Mr Speaker. If I had a prior knowledge about this Statement, there are certain facts and information I would have brought to bear onto Parliament, but as we are discussing, I will discuss with my Hon Colleague Ministers from the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, as well as Environ- ment, Science, Technology and Innovation and Sanitation and Water Resources, to come and appropriately brief this House. The operation and the Statement the Hon Member has made touch on an issue that has to do with the Ministries of Sanitation and Water Resources, Lands and Natural Resources, as well as Defence, and of course, the Interior. I would have wished that all these Hon Ministers were here. Mr Speaker, first of all, let us set some issues and facts straight. The operation was not carried out by the Regional Security Council. The operation was carried by—
Hon Minister, we want to get that clearly, the operation was—
Mr Speaker, the operation was not carried out on the orders of the Regional Security Council, neither was it carried out by the District Security Council. Mr Speaker, this is a national operation carried out as a backup to Operation Vanguard. Operation Vanguard is a national operation to save, one, our environment, stop illegal mining and save our water bodies. Mr Speaker, for one year now, ‘Operation Vanguard' has been operating. In fact, close to one year, about seven months, ‘Operation Vanguard' has been operating. But, Mr Speaker, you would be amazed that even though people know that ‘Operation Vanguard' is operating, our water bodies, particularly, in the Ashanti Region, Northern Region, Eastern Region, Western Region, Central Region and Brong Ahafo Region keep getting polluted by people who believe and think that all they seek to do is to go to the river bodies and mine and look for minerals, some even doing sand winning. In all these regions, particularly, where water treatment processes are done, the Ghana Water Company Limited has given us, in a particular case of Dalun, which supplies the Tamale Municipality, the Hon Member's own constituency, Kumbungu, even the Kamina and Mile 9, where the barracks is. It supplies the entire Tamale catchment area, including the adjoining districts. That is why I said that I wanted them to be here. They gave us a deadline, that if nothing was done, they would close down the water treatment company. Mr Speaker, that is why the Regional Security Council (RCC) went to Dalun and the entire area, and told the people not to do sand winning any longer. In the full glare of everyone and not undercover, to let them know that they should not do sand winning. That was because the water treatment plant was in danger. The quality of water today is such that they use six times the amount of alum used in the treatment of water for the people of Tamale and its surrounding areas. This is because people have deliberately decided that all they want is money in their pockets, while damaging the water sources. Government and this country had a choice to make, whether to allow the Ghana Water Company (GWC) to close down the treatment plant, so that people in and around the Tamale Municipality, including the surrounding districts and the Hon Member's district would not get water to drink. Otherwise, government needed to take a drastic decision to ensure that the people would get water to drink. That was the decision that they had to take. What government did was to order a backup team of Operation Vanguard, made up of only military personnel who had operated there for the last one month. They started operating in the first week of February. What I did not do and refused to do was announce to the public. This was because I did not want to send the wrong signal, as if Ghana was in war. So, we sent 490 soldiers to go and stop people from operating along the water bodies. We sent soldiers in the Ghana Armed Forces to six regions namely the Western Region, Central Region, Ashanti Region, Eastern Region Brong Ahafo Region and Northern Region, to stop people from operating along the water bodies.
They were ordered to do everything possible to ensure that nobody operated within 500 meters to the left and right of the water bodies. There were two types of operations: illegal mining and sand winning. This was because we wanted to save the river bodies. So, the backup team made up of about 496 soldiers have been operating across the country. Sixth Battalion (6BN) is responsible for the Northern Region. So, they are responsible for the Black Volta and its tributaries, White Volta and its tributaries and the main River Volta that runs up to Bole-Bamboi.
The Fourth Battalion (4BN) is responsible for the Kumasi catchment area and the Ashanti Region, Fifth Battalion (5BN) is responsible for the Brong Ahafo Region, second battalion (2BN) is responsible for the Western region and First Battalion (1BN) and Third Battalion 3BN would be responsible for the Eastern Region. They have been doing that successfully. Mr Speaker, I would have brought the amount of equipment they have seized, some burnt, including changfins. Changfins are locally made operating vehicles used to do illegal mining. They sit these illegal machines on the water bodies and then operate there. Mr Speaker, in Dalun for example, and I am narrowing it to the Statement the Hon Member made --
In Dalun, for example, the information I had from the military is that when the backup team reached the area -- they had gone there on five occasions. Their aim was to arrest the illegal miners and illegal sand winners and prosecute them as has been done elsewhere. Each time, the people run away and left their machines and then went back to even dig more. Meanwhile, GWCL had decided that they would close down that treatment plant. It did not matter whether it was at Dalun proper which they were already doing or at Afa Yile. All was to prevent them from polluting the water bodies and they had been told not to do it. Mr Speaker, even those who were legally given the licenses had been asked to stop and they had. In this case, it was worse off because they did not even have any permit to go there. They were operating illegally. They did not have permits given by the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, the District Assembly or by the Regional Security Council (RCC). They were operating illegally. So, the military went there for the fifth time and decided that they would send a very strong signal to anybody who would decide to take the law into their own hands.
Order! Order! Hon Members, this is a House of record and information. If an Hon Minister is giving information, the only decent thing to do is to at least listen. Then we might appropriately continue with our debate. We owe this to our countrymen and women. Hon Minister, continue.
Mr Speaker, like I said before, the information I have and the brief from the military -- I asked them to do further investigations on this matter, especially with regard to the burning aspect -- Eight changfin machines, 12 tipper trucks, a number of motorbikes and one excavator were burnt in that particular area. Like I said, I have asked the military to do due diligence and investigation and bring me a report. That report has not yet come. This is not the first time the Ghana Armed Forces, through the government, has taken a decision to stop people through the use of force and burning. Mr Speaker, when Hon Osah Mills was Minister, a company in the Ashanti Region, had over 50 excavators burnt. If you add the bulldozer, the machinery that were burnt and destroyed were over 100. That was because the Government at that time took the decision that they wanted to preserve the environment. So, they burnt them completely to the ground. The Ministry of Trade and Industry went round our markets with a joint task of the military and police and Customs Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS), they seized goods of the market women and burnt them in the full glare of the public.
Hon Members, Order! Hon Minister, if you could please wind up.
Mr Speaker, this is not the first time that the military has decided that --- Sometimes, it is better to send a very strong signal to save others from dying. Mr Speaker, if the Ghana Water Company Limited decides to close the Dalun treatment plant because they could no longer produce water just for three days, what would happen in Tamale? The first thing would be people getting cholera and the number of children who would die. Mr Speaker, I expected that the politicians and the Hon Members of Parliament (MPs) who are from the affected areas and would suffer this calamity would not politicise this matter. -- [Interruptions.] I have not commented on it. I expected them not to politicise this matter, so that together we could find a solution to it.
Hon Members, if any Hon Member wants to stand on a point of order, he or she could do so in accordance with our rules, but I am displeased with this kind of conduct that amounts to being riotous in this Honourable House. Hon Minister, you may conclude.
Mr Speaker, the military is the last man standing in any society. What we would not want to do as a country is to politicise this work of the military. I am amazed and ashamed, and I believe it is not good for anybody who seeks to politicise the work of the military. Mr Speaker, over the last 10 years, we could count the number of times the military had to take a very serious decision to save the country from calamity and nobody stood in their way. What the society has done in this case -- In the Eastern Region, the military burnt six excavators -- [Interruption.] It is the military, I did not say the Hon Minister. It is not as if somebody targeted some portion of the Northern Region and decided to do that. Mr Speaker, our water bodies are drying off. River Birem is gone. The Ivoirians complain that we are spoiling River Bia. They complained publicly to us as Hon Ministers and to the President, that we are spoiling that river. River Pra is gone, river Ankombra is going and if we do not stop what is happening in the north, particularly, in the Upper West Region -- Mr Speaker, as I said, we are still looking for the perpetrators of this act. They were acting illegally and they would be prosecuted if they are found. They have the right to seek redress for the burning of the equipment. Nobody would stop them from seeking redress, they have every right and I would support them to do so. It is for the court, and for the high authorities to take that decision, not me, but they would be prosecuted if they are found. We do not know who they are. The State is looking for them to prosecute them like how they are prosecuting others in the south. If they are caught today, they would be taken to court and prosecuted because the belief is that they were acting illegally. In the Upper West Region, the Black Volta is getting dried up. In the Upper East Region, the White Volta is getting dried up and the Red Volta had almost ceased. We could ask anybody who comes from the Upper East Region; there is a Red Volta which had almost ceased. Mr Speaker, is that what we want? Then we would want to stop the military and gag then from performing? [Interruptions.] Snakes bite them. Mr Speaker, if I had known, I would have brought pictures to indicate what is going on. People would be on the river and when the military is coming, they go to the other side and show them their buttocks. Mr Speaker, if I knew this Statement would have been read, I would have brought pictures to show you what is going on. I was just lucky to bump into the Statement. Our river bodies are almost gone and if nothing is done -- and it is still done and the military would continue to stay there until they reach their target -- but nobody has said that the military should go and burn. Nobody has said that, and nobody would encourage the military to go around burning. Anybody who thinks that his or her equipment has been burnt or seized has the right to seek redress, but the State would prosecute people who do illegality. If today, the people who were there are caught, they would be prosecuted. Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister for the Interior is here and I believe that other Hon Ministers who are also concerned would have the opportunity to talk, so I would not continue to talk. Because I was the only Hon Minister here, that was why I took the opportunity to educate us. Mr Speaker, Operation Vanguard backup team is going on. We would see them in our communities, we should help them. It is better for MPs to help them rather than seek to politicise this matter.
Hon First Deputy Speaker, did I see you on your feet?
Yes, Mr Speaker. I wanted you to know that I was --
Some of us do not even understand the processes in Parliament. An Hon Minister can be called at the discretion of the Speaker to explain any matter whatsoever, or to assist the House in any direction that would help it to do its work. Therefore, that is exactly what the Hon Minister just did and I thought that matters must be put in appropriate perspective so that we can have a meaningful, not an emotional debate. I am also watching the time for Statements, then the Hon Leaders would conclude. Yes, Hon First Deputy Speaker?
Mr Speaker, I thank you very much for the opportunity to contribute to this Statement. Mr Speaker, I hope I can keep my cool because I often get emotional when I am discussing the damage we do to the environment, and in particular, water bodies. Mr Speaker, I live in an area where one water body; a river called Dankran passes through my entire constituency and I get calls practically every day from farmers who farm around. Their complaint is that they can no longer farm because the mining activities of the river body affects their crops, and if they use them to water their crops, the crops die. Mr Speaker, the last call I had was about two weeks ago, and the tomato farmer said he borrowed money to start farming and when the water started drying up, all his vegetables; tomatoes, vegetables wilted. Mr Speaker, that is the damage that those few people who want to make money from gold do to entire communities. Mr Speaker, I would want us, in discussing this matter, to determine where our loyalties lie. We are MPs, and we represent the entire community. One cannot count in any community 10 or 20 people involved in mining on water bodies. Those 10 or 20 people affect the lives of the entire community because they want gold from the source of life to the community. This is the challenge we have to deal with. Mr Speaker, it is true that there is a legislation that says that if people are arrested, their equipment should be seized. But some Hon Members of the Committee are here and can attest when the Committee on Roads and Transport went on an inspection tour in the Central Region. We just stopped by River Ofin, and by the way, it is no longer a river. One cannot see any water. All a person can see is mud. And we saw watercrafts on the water body mining the floor of the river. And as soon as our vehicle stopped, they just jumped into the water and disappeared.
Hon Second Deputy Speaker, do you have any comments?
Mr Speaker, yes. I do not know the state you have reached in managing the House. But I saw some Hon Members on their feet, and I thought you should have given them the opportunity before I come in. This is because, usually, leadership comes in getting to the end of the matter on the floor.
I made a certain ruling because there are times when Leaders should also set the pace. And if you would want to take advantage of that, you may, otherwise, I may call some other Hon Member on his feet.
Mr Speaker, definitely, I would be making a contribution. But in setting the pace, I believe the Leaders have already set the pace, but if they have not, I can add a voice to guide Hon Members. This is because as I have just told my Hon Colleague, the Hon First Deputy Speaker, I completely disagree with him on the use of extreme measures in trying to solve this problem. This is what H. E.
My Brother, if that has been the situation, armed robbery would have stopped by this time. Why is there a global movement now to stop death sentence? Why?
Hon Leader, and you know we disagree on that too.
I know we disagree on that too. But it is a measure that I will wholeheartedly support. If somebody else had decided to disobey nature and disobey God by killing another person, why do we want to follow in the same suit? Why? An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth? [Laughter.] I did not know my very good Friend, the Hon Majority Leader believes in that principle. [Laughter] I have never seen him or heard him, at least, since we met in this House do such a thing. Mr Speaker, but I think that we should rather try as much as possible to look at other measures -- not desperate measures. There are other ways of solving the problem. Mr Speaker, I am aware that the galamseyers themselves have made proposals to Government. I am aware that Government even moved further to ask them to be paying some levies, which would be used to reclaim the land. I am aware that some measures are being taken to re-afforest these lands -- they have paid moneys. One could talk about the quantum not being as expected -- that is the same for our Consolidated Fund. We never had enough of revenue for our budgets; it is the same everywhere. But does that amount to terminating and deliberately killing people? I do not think so. Mr Speaker, mining itself started in this country as illegal business. Historically, when you look at the history of mining in this country, it was being done by galamseyers until Government intervened, entered into agreements and brought in the commercial miners. The Hon Member talked about how much we benefit from gold mining. How much do we benefit from the commercial gold mining? It is next to nothing! Yes! We do not own it. What are we talking about -- if we look at the people and say there are more non- Ghanaians as compared to Ghanaians, they would pale off to nothingness. There are close to over two million Ghanaians involved in gold mining. It is not only in the forest areas; even in my constituency, there is illegal gold mining --
In water bodies!
Yes, in water bodies. So, we have to try and get ways and means to get that out. In any case, can we not get a technology to mine gold in water bodies without polluting the water bodies? [Laughter.]
There is nothing like ‘no' in the world. There are possibilities, we just need to do research -- we need to work on it. Gold is not only mined in Ghana, it is mined all over the world. Let us learn from others. Other people are doing it.
Wise Man! Wise Man! [Uproar.]
Mr Speaker, we do not benefit -- It is clear that the measure we are taking is not yielding the desired results. Do we have to continue along that way? That is the issue. We are using desperate and extreme measures -- we are killing them; are we ending galamsey in the country? No!
Yes, I am talking about water bodies. That is why I started by saying that I was the former Minister for Water Resources Works and Housing and so I know.
That was not affecting your business.
Mr Speaker, I am not a businessman; I am a public servant. [Laughter.]
No, I am talking of your Ministry!
But it is not everything that affects you that should let you react by killing people -- that is the issue. We should not even talk about legislation to shoot to kill -- shoot to kill. It is only the military that are trained in war situations -- ‘one man, one bullet'. It is only the military and in war situations; I do not think we are at that stage now. Mr Speaker, I believe there are better ways, and I believe that we should sit together, think through this matter, craft out measures and solve the problem. It is true that it is difficult to get alternative,
better and more rewarding measures to get them out of galamsey. But at the same time, if we appeal to their conscience, sit down and work with them, we can get solutions to these problems. Mr Speaker, I do not support any Ghanaian killing any Ghanaian, and I do not support the use of force as the means or solution to any problem. [Hear! Hear!] There are ways and means of us solving our common problems. The problems are not only for Government, these are national challenges and we must take national decisions. Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity.
Mr Speaker, I thank you very much for allowing me to contribute to the Statement ably made by the Hon Member of Parliament for Kumbungu, Mr Ras Mubarak. Mr Speaker, he does so legitimately within his mandate as an elected Member of Parliament in the exercise of his representational role as a representative of the people of Kumbungu, in particular, Afa Yile and the persons affected. Mr Speaker, I intend to respond to the Hon Minister for Defence and the Hon First Deputy Speaker. The Hon First Deputy Speaker asked a very important question -- ‘Who are we loyal to?' We are loyal to the laws of Ghana, nothing more. This is not a lawless country; this is not a banana republic. Our loyalty is to the laws of Ghana, and we would not accept the relegation and subjudication of the laws of Ghana to might. Might cannot be right. So, to the Hon First Deputy Speaker, our loyalty is to the laws of Ghana. That this is a country governed by laws. Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister for Defence should be informed that he is not above the laws of Ghana. [Hear! Hear!] The Ghana Armed Forces, and for that matter, the Military is not above the laws of Ghana. He should be assured that if he uses legitimate and due process, which is in accord with the law to preserve the environment and water bodies, he has our absolute support. Mr Speaker, if he engages in lawlessness, he would not get our support today, tomorrow or forever. The days of impunity in this country are over.
Functions, Practice and Procedure” by Griffith and Ryle. Parliaments throughout the world are custodians of the liberty of the people. This is a party that preaches and practices property owning democracy, but not property destruction democracy. [Hear! Hear!] Mr Speaker, article 18 legitimately vests the right to own property, including excavators and tipper trucks. They are legitimate. The Hon Minister and the Military are not above the laws of Ghana. We do not want to invite chaos into our society. It then means that he is asking for a licence to go about burning anybody polluting water and whatever they are doing. We cannot do that, and we cannot succeed in that. Therefore he does not have our support. Mr Speaker, I am quite intrigued. In the Hon Minister's own submission, and I quote his exact words, “they can seek redress in court”. Why did he not seek action in court? They can seek redress in court after burning without lawful authorisation. Mr Speaker, I challenge the Hon Minister to give this House evidence of the invitation by the owners of the charts to report to the Police or the Military to which they have declined or disrespected. We need it. This is because I physically went to Dalun on Friday, and I did not see Changfans. I saw tipper trucks and an excavator. So we would want him to provide further evidence of the Changfans. Mr Speaker, on water pollution, I encourage the Hon Minister to take a picture today or within this week if he travels to the north. After one year, he and I would go to Dalun and take a picture of the water body, so that we would share with the Ghanaian public. He should therefore be assured that any legitimate procedure he would use to conserve the environment, preserve and protect water bodies, he, as an Hon Minister for Defence, responsible for security, has our absolute support. Mr Speaker, my other disappointment is that in exercising this power, I visited the Kumbungu Naa and the Dalun Naa. The National Security is a creation of the Constitution. Regional and District Security Councils are creations of the Constitution. The Hon Minister should not come here with joy, by by-passing these councils and think he did what is right. He should not think that he would sit in Accra and impose his will on the Regional and District Security Councils. The Chiefs feel very disrespected. I could share an audio with this House. The Kumbungu Naa and Dalun Naa said, at least, courtesy-wise, they should let them know that these people are disrespecting and flouting the orders. I do not determine that. I would say that nobody is mining in that area. I am establishing a fact. The Dalun Naa said that while they were there -- [Interruptions] -- and with economic activities in that area for years, he knows that -- [Interruptions.] You know how we build our houses and where the sand comes from. It comes from Dalun legitimately. Mr Speaker, by burning the tipper trucks, you have created unemployment for the driver and his mate. At least, 40 persons are without jobs.
Hon Minority Leader, address the Chair.
Hon Minority Leader, please, parliamentary practice; you would address the Chair.
I am doing so, Mr Speaker. I am picking his words.
Hon Member, please, I did not hear that one. Just address the Chair.
Mr Speaker, I would do so. So, Mr Speaker, I support the Hon Member who made the Statement. I went to the site. I do not know how much an excavator costs, but certainly, the family of the owner must be down in profound distress. He has every right as a Ghanaian to own that property and to do lawful business. We need evidence from the Hon Minister that what they were doing, they pay revenue to the District Assembly daily. So, when we hear that they have run away as if we have thrown our hands in despair -- They have run away from where? His authority as the Hon Minister for Defence -- The people of Ghana have vested every power in him and therefore, he must not come to this House and throw his hands in despair, that we cannot arrest them and that if we get them, we would prosecute them in accordance with the law. He should be reminded that under articles 14, 19 and 21, they are entitled to all those constitutional liberties guaranteed every citizen of Ghana. So, when he said he seized and burned, and gave example of Hansol Mining Ltd -- Does he want to occasion a judgement debt? Who would pay it? The State? Why should the State pay because of his excess action? So, Mr Speaker, I dare submit that the action of the military in that exercise is extrajudicial, excessive and only smacks lawlessness. They must do so learning from other experiences. Nobody would justify an illegal act. If he says people should seek redress in court, why did he not go to court to get authority to do what they are doing, if it is right? Mr Speaker, he did not serve notice and not even the chiefs were aware. Tomorrow, could we go to the same chiefs for their cooperation? So, to be certain, I flew to Tamale and drove to the constituencies of the Hon Ras Mubarak, Hon Suhuyini, Hon Inusah Fuseini and Hon Robert Kuganab-Lem, and visited all the communities. If the Hon Minister is ready, we could go to the scene. What is significant was that the excavator is at a distance from the water. It was only loading sand far away from the water. I could not see an excavator that fetched sand and at the same time polluted the water body a distance away, but they may be related. The only issue I agreed with the Hon Minister is that, the Ghana Water Company Ltd (GWCL) had complained. So, they went and pleaded with the Dalun Naa to move the tipper trucks and its owners to Afa Yile where they were operated, and their activities were associated with pollution. They were asked to move from that side and the Municipal Assembly, supported by the District Chief Executive, supported them to move to Afa Yile. Indeed, they had to cross a river in order to get to Afa Yile.
When they burned Hansol Mining Ltd, where did he stand?
Do we no more have to establish ownership? Mr Speaker, I would want to thank the Hon Member who made the Statement. We need full facts if it means an enquiry, but we demand that those affected tipper truck owners and their families deserve compensation. I know that they themselves will exercise a rightful action as was done in the year 2013. As the Hon Second Deputy Speaker has advised; “might is not right and might cannot be right”. In the 21st Century, we cannot sit for the military to do as they please. The National Security of Ghana is subject to the laws of Ghana and subject to the Constitution of Ghana. Mr Speaker, thank you.
Order! Order! Hon Majority Leadership?
Mr Speaker, let me lend --
Mr Speaker, I thank you for the space to make brief comments on the Statement made by our Hon Colleague, Hon Ras Mubarak. I would want to believe that he has made a Statement in his capacity as the representative of the constituency. We must situate the Statement in its proper context. Mr Speaker, what I heard him say at the end of the Statement was to call on Parliament to take a certain action, and I asked myself the import of that Statement. Our Standing Orders provide clearly on what to make of a Statement. It is to explain a matter of personal issue or maybe to address a matter of public importance. Mr
Speaker, but then he goes further to ask us to take a certain action in the nature of committing Parliament to do something. The Statement is not a Motion, and he would make that distinction. If one comes with a Statement, he or she should speak to the subject matter; but one cannot commit Parliament to take action on account of his or her Statement. Mr Speaker, so I thought that in the first place, he or is wrong, and he cannot commit this House to take an action on account of that Statement he has made. That is the first thing. I did not hear the Hon Member talk about the loss of lives. He did not talk about killings and yet, I heard Hon Members drifting and trying to cause Parliament to stray from the Statement the Hon Colleague made. Mr Speaker, I do not think that the Constitution, insofar as a matter is criminal, frowns upon the use of force, to the extent that it may even deprive some other people of their lives. The Constitution does not talk about that at all. If we agree that what went on was criminal, the Constitution does not forbid any person trying to prevent the commission of that crime from pursing that person under a certain force, which may even result in death. Yes, Mr Speaker, and I quote article 13 of the Constitution -- Mr Speaker, all of us are lawmakers. We should understand the meaning of the law, and we do not have to be lawyers. Some lawyers do not even appreciate the import of the law.
Order! Hon Majority Leader, please --
Mr Speaker, I will read article 13(1) of the Constitution, which provides: “No person shall be deprived of his life intentionally except in the exercise of the execution of a sentence of a court in respect of a criminal offence under the laws of Ghana of which he has been convicted.
Mr Speaker, will people have patience?
Hon Members, the Hon Majority Leader referred to an article; why should there be noise because he has read only sub-section (1)? What about sub- sections (2) and (3)? Please, let us go about the debate in a manner that gives dignity to this Honourable House.
Mr Speaker, thank you very much for the protection. Article 13 (1) provides, and I read it again: (1) No person shall be deprived of his life intentionally except in the exercise of the execution of a sentence of a court in respect of a criminal offence under the laws of Ghana of which he has been convicted. (2) A person shall not be held to have deprived another person of his life in contravention of clause (1) of this article if that other person dies as a result of a lawful act of war or if that other person dies as the result of the use of force to such an extent as is reasonably justifiable in the particular circumstances -- (d) in order to prevent the commission of a crime by that person. Mr Speaker, sand winning should be subject to ratification by this House -- it is not mere pollution. The Hon Second Deputy Speaker told us that we could even mine minerals from the bed of rivers without polluting it.
Hon Members, shall we engage in an orderly debate? Hon Second Deputy Speaker?
Mr Speaker, the Hon Majority Leader referred to me and has mentioned me, but he is aware that we mine oil in the ocean without polluting it. [Laughter.] Oil is a mineral and he said that even gold is mined in water without polluting the water. What pollutes the water? It is not the mining, it is the chemicals that are used to process it. So, one could mine the gold, take it and process somewhere, and would not pollute the water. Mr Speaker, but he read article 13. Clearly, I wish to ask the question, what crime has been committed? Is it that we just determine that Mr A has committed a crime and therefore we proceed to kill the person? That is not it.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Second Deputy Speaker is comparing apples with oranges. Yes, what he talked of is crustal mining, and it is not mining on the bed of a water body. The two are different. When we talk about mining in the deep sea, it is crustal mining and not mining on the bed of the sea or of the water body; the two are different. That was why I told him that he has not even cited one country where there is mining on the bed of the water body.
Hon Leader, address the Chair.
Mr Speaker, so, he got it wrong.
Yes, but address the Chair. Refer to what he said, but address me.
Mr Speaker, I will address you.
It helps in decorous debate. That is why I generally want that to --
Mr Speaker, thank you very-- Today, Cape Town in South Africa cannot have water because of incessant mining in the river bodies. [Laughter.] Hon Ayariga said that it is attributable to drought. He is totally wrong.
Mr Speaker, I know that if I give him the opportunity, he would mislead the entire world. Mr Speaker, it has been on for four years now, and it is attributable to incessant mining in their water bodies. Do we want a similar experience in Ghana? Mr Speaker, let me go back to the issues contained in what was raised by my Hon Colleague. Mr Speaker, in times past and in the colonial period, indeed, in the post-independence era, farming was not allowed into water bodies. For streamlets, the minimum was 50 feet, and it was 100 feet for streams on either side of the course of the water. It was 50 feet for streamlets, so if someone was a farmer, he did not have to farm 50 feet into the streamlet. Mr Speaker, if it was stream, then it was 100 feet, and 200 feet for a river. Mr Speaker, that was the regulation; yet people flout this with impunity. That in itself is criminality. For anybody to say that if we sought to prevent that then it is an abomination, I shudder to think about that. I totally disagree with those who take the position that we should allow criminality today. If a robber enters a person's room and the person has the competence, then he would shoot the robber to save his own life. Is that criminality on the person's part? Mr Speaker, we should be careful where we take this argument. When people returned from Nigeria, brought their chainsaw machines and engaged in illegal felling of trees, we said that they should be stopped. The argument at that time was that we should create an alternative livelihood for them. Today, less than 30 years after that, half of our forest cover is gone. Mr Speaker, it explains why at the turn of the 20th Century, when we had a forest cover of 8.5 million hectares -- up to 1980, we had a forest cover of six million. Mr Speaker, between 1980 and the turn of the century, today, the depletion is more than five million hectares because of the activities of illegal chainsaw operators, and we are saying that we should grant them liberties to continue doing this. Mr Speaker, today, if we cross from Paga to Burkina Faso, we would see that the environment is greener and they even have a forest reserve. What did they do? What they did was that the illegal bushfires that we set on our vegetation, if someone does it there and is arrested, he would be lynched. They do not allow burning of charcoal, but they come here to buy our charcoal because we allow that in pursuit of liberties. So, while we hasten the downward trend of the desert, they are stopping it. We go from here to Burkina Faso to buy mangoes, tomatoes and onions. Burkina Faso is a drier place; yet, these food crops depend so much on the availability of water. Mr Speaker, how do they manage? They manage because increasingly, we are destroying our environment and we would have people who would stand up to defend what is indefensible. Is that the way we would want to grow our country? Mr Speaker, I beg to quote article 257 (6): “Every mineral in its natural state in, under or upon any land in Ghana, rivers, streams, water courses throughout Ghana …” Mr Speaker, I would want to believe those words are misnomer. It should not have been “water course” but it should have been “water body”, otherwise if it is not water body, then it would exclude natural water bodies like Lake Bosomtwi. Mr Speaker, so, it should rather read “water bodies”. Mr Speaker, the water course is the course of the river, but those that are stagnant like the lakes are required to be described as water bodies. So, there is a water course and there is a water body as well. That is the issue I am raising. Mr Speaker, but the article provides that: “Every mineral in its natural state in, under or upon any land in Ghana, rivers, streams, water courses throughout Ghana, the exclusive economic zone and any area covered by the territorial sea or continental shelf is the property of the Republic of Ghana and shall be vested in the President on behalf of, and in trust for the people of Ghana.” Mr Speaker, article 268 (1) provides that “Any transaction, contract or undertaking involving the grant of a right or concession by or on behalf of any person including the Government of Ghana, to any other person or body of persons howsoever described, for the exploitation of any mineral, water or other natural resources of Ghana made or entered into after the coming into force of this Constitution shall be subject to the ratification by Parliament.” Mr Speaker, today, we have so many people on a daily basis, with advertise- ments on radio and television, digging deep into the crust of the earth to bring out water for sale. Mr Speaker, it should be the property of the entire country, so they should be subject to the ratification of this House; but we have not done that. Mr Speaker, in this context, sand is a mineral. So, the right to win sand is subject to ratification by this House. If someone goes to do it and he is caught, there would be people here who think that we should defend the indefensible. It is wrong. I agree that the previous Government started to do this, but they did not achieve much results because the effort at that time was sporadic and it was not sustained over a period. Indeed, the Hon Minority Leader alluded to the fact that the quality of water has not improved significantly, and I agree even in the face of this exercise. Mr Speaker, it is because they do not venture to do that during the day; but in the night, they do that and the town folks are aware. Mr Speaker, I have my farm in Dunkwa- on-Offin in a village called Nyadoam (literally means inside garden eggs) - That is where I have my farms. Mr Speaker, when I went there, they told me that they wanted to do some mining on my farm; but I disagreed. They have now circled around the farm and dug around it into the Offin river. So, I cannot even have access to my own farm, unless I cross into the farm with a canoe. That is what they have done. Mr Speaker, so, we should be careful because what is going on is completely illegal; sand winning and galamsey. We are not talking about small scale mining, but galamsey is illegal. If every measure is taken to prevent it, then it should be encouraged.
Mr Speaker, I agree that where there is collateral damage as a result of this effort, then people should reserve the right to seek redress. We cannot condone illegality and then believe that they should be accrued rights. We cannot. That is why the people are not coming forward. Let them come and identify themselves. If there is any damage that they have to pay for, they would be made to pay for it. If they seek redress and they have to be compensated, appropriately, it would be done; but one cannot have his cake and eat it. Mr Speaker, where we are, I believe that we should have space for the parliamentary Committee on Mines and Energy to do some follow-up on this. Let us see where we are. If there should be any recommendation, we would be better informed. Mr Speaker, so in my opinion, we should conduct further investigations. People have their rights abused, and they would want to seek redress. We could encourage them; but whatever affliction that they would want the people of this country to suffer, they must also be held responsible and accountable. Mr Speaker, I thank you.
Thank you very much. Hon Members, we have used about twice the time allowed for Statements, especially concerning this very important matter. For all that we have heard, there is no doubt about the fact that serious criminals engage in armed robbery, galamsey and such extreme acts of havoc, which form the basis of every person's right to life and liberty. They should be mindful of the fact that in our Constitution, article 13 (2) (d), on the right to life, which is provided by article 13 (1), is well qualified that one might lose his right to life by the duty of the security forces to prevent the commission of a crime by that person. It should send a word of caution to all intended nation wreckers. Some have the job to ensure that such acts do not occur. I thank you, Hon Members, for your discussion. Hon Members, at the Commencement of Public Business. Item numbered 4 -- Presentation of Papers. Item numbered 4 (a) on the Order Paper -- by the Hon Majority Leader and Minister for Parliamentary Affairs. The Hon First Deputy Speaker to take the Chair. Hon Majority Leader/Minister for Parliamentary Affairs?
Mr Speaker, I would do the laying of item numbered 4 (a) on the Order Paper. For item numbered 4 (a) (i), I would lay it. However, for 4 (a) (ii), I was told that there is problem with the Report and they would want to have a second look at it.
Hon Majority Leader, you have my ears.
Mr Speaker, as I said, I would do so for item numbered 4 (a), both (i) and (ii). I think the problem really relates to item numbered 4 (b) and not 4 (a). So, I would do so for item 4 (a) (i) and (ii). Mr Speaker, he is totally wrong. Mr Speaker, it is the Majority Leader who should be doing it and not the Minister for Parliamentary Affairs.
MR FIRST DEPUTY SPEAKER
Hon Leader, please, proceed. Hon Majority Leader, are you done?
Mr Speaker, I was waiting on you.
You may proceed.
The item numbered 4(b), Chairman of the Committee?
Mr Speaker, the item numbered 4(b) has been stepped down for further consultation.
Very well. The item numbered 4(b) is stood down. Are we ready to continue with the item numbered 5 on the Order Paper?
Mr Speaker, for now, the Chairman of the Finance Committee is not in the Chamber and there is an application to deal with the item listed as 7. So if we could take an adjournment, we would deal with the first item under item numbered 7.
In that case, we have to adjourn.
Mr Speaker, that is the import of the application.
Mr Speaker, subject to your indulgence, I beg to move, that this House takes an adjournment.
Very well. We would suspend Sitting and return to the Committee of the Whole. I am waiting on the Leadership to advise me.
Mr Speaker, that is why I moved the Motion that we adjourn until tomorrow, at 10.00 o'clock in the forenoon.
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion for adjournment, noting that the major outstanding business would be the Formulae for the Ghana Education Trust Fund, the National Health Insurance Fund and the District Assemblies Common Fund -- that you know the practice -- and you lead us through the process before we come.
Very well. Question put and Motion agreed to.
The House was accordingly adjourned at 1.15 p.m. till Wednesday, 14th March, 2018, at 10.00 a.m.