This Week in Parliament [4th-7th July, 2017]

Highlights of what MPs discussed from 4-7th July, 2017

  • Parliament approves NHIS disbursement for 2017

The House in this week approved a total of GHS2,261.73 million for disbursement of the National Health Insurance [Scheme] Fund (NHIF) for the year 2017. The said amount covers claims arrears for 2013 (GHS425.79m) and claims for 2017 (GHS1,190.96). Other NHIA expenses are covered under this disbursement, some of which include support to [NHIA] district offices, support to Ministry of Health, support for district health projects, Monitoring and Evaluation, and “per capita payment system - rollout”. There are also other expenses such as claims processing centres & e-claims, biometric ID cards and authentication system, nationwide ICT system, office buildings, call centre, archival system & document digitisation and support for health-related research.

The NHIA, in the course of this year, will fund other remaining expenses in sensitisation, publicity, tools and marketing; claims data capturing, NHIS review, NHIS data integration, assurance services for claims and systems; and contingency.

Presenting the report on the NHIS fund to parliament, Chairman of the Committee of the Whole and First Deputy Speaker, Joe Osei-Owusu [MP, Bekwai] said, funding arrears of the NHIS is a concern & the cause of funding gap at the Ministry of Finance.

Several MPs rose to contribute to debate on the Committee’s report.

Mr. Joseph Yieleh Chireh [MP, Wa West] urged the government to take a closer look at the Committee’s report and take action.

The Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu [MP, Tamale South] underscored the need for NHIS and said the Minister of Finance can cut fund to other agencies but not to health insurance.

In responding to a comment by a fellow MP on the minority bench, Ms Sarah Adwoa Safo [MP, Dome/Kwabenya] and Deputy Majority Leader said the provisions in NHIS Act, 2012 (Act 852) have not been contravened in drawing up the NHIF formula. She further stated that the government takes the health of Ghanaians very seriously.

  • Minister of Employment & Labour questioned about YEA recruitment

On Wednesday, Mr. Kobena Mensah Woyome [MP, South Tongu] asked the sector minister about the state of implementation of the Youth Employment Agency (YEA) Act with regards to recruitment, training, deployment and remuneration of personnel. Question was asked by Mr. Richard Quashigah [MP, Keta] on his behalf.

In his answer, the minister said that as at December 2016, personnel were paid GH¢300 a month with GH¢500 in savings at SSNIT; and there are plans to increase [YEA personnel] salary to GH¢400 a month. He further stated that his ministry - for the Agency, is currently undergoing an HR audit of personnel on performance of certain tasks and “matching them” with the right institutions. He also said that transfers of [YEA] personnel have always existed and it is not the first time that is happening. He however was unable to quote how much it costs the State to transfer such personnel. That was in response to a question posed by Mubarak Muntaka [MP, Asawase] and Minority Chief Whip.

Still on Wednesday, the Minister of Energy was also at Parliament to answer questions from Mr. Magnus Kofi Amoatey [MP, Yilo Krobo] about billing of electricity consumers in Yilo Kilo and Lower Manya Municipalities.

In his answer, the minister said that billing begins after the meters have been read. He explained that all customers’ accounts with meters are read and validated, and thereafter billed with actual readings. ''Customers' accounts with meter readings rejected or not read are billed on estimates.'' Mr. Boakye Agyarko [Minister of Energy] said.

  • MPs discuss the importance of wearing a seat belt

Following a statement by Felicia Adjei [MP, Kintampo South] on “the need to wear seat belts to save lives”, MPs, among other things called for punishment of people who are caught not wearing seat belt. They also commended the Ghana Police Service on their efforts to check responsible driving at day and night; and urged relevant state bodies to make wearing seat belt in Ghana a must for every Ghanaian who uses motor vehicle.

  • MPs on the need for family planning

Reading his statement on the floor of Parliament, Mark Kurt Nawaane [MP, Nabdam] underscored the need to encourage family planning in Ghanaian homes as a way of checking population growth in the country. His statement comes at the time the country prepares to join the world in observing Population Day later in the year.

Commenting on the statement, Dr. Bernard Oko Boye [MP, Ledzokuku] stressed on the need for sex education and called for improvement in efforts.

Dr. Robert Baba Kuganab-Lem [MP, Binduri] also called on the State to design a ‘’comprehensive’’ policy on Sexual, Reproductive, Health and Rights.

On her part, Mrs Patricia Appiagyei [MP, Asokwa] said Ghana has reached a point where family planning is critical for development. She called on government to set aside some fund for planning education.

MP for Kpando, Della Sowah said men should be encouraged to accept family planning: as the nation’s social infrastructure could suffer a toll if our population explodes.

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