Debates of 18 Jan 2005

PRAYERS 10:05 a.m.


Mr. Speaker 10:05 a.m.
Order! Order! Hon. Members, pursuant to section 5 of the
Parliamentary Service Act of 1993, Act 460, this honourable House adopted a motion on Friday, 14th January, 2005, setting up a committee to advise the Speaker on the appointment of four members of the Parliamentary Service Board, other than Mr. Speaker and the Clerk to Parliament, in accordance with section 5 (b) of the Act.
The Committee has accordingly recommended the following persons to be appointed as members of the Parliamentary Service Board, and the Speaker has endorsed the recommendations.
The members are as follows:
Hon. F. K. Owusu-Adjapong -- Akim Swedru (Majority
Hon. A. S. K. Bagbin -- Nadowli West (Minority Leader)
Hon. Mrs. Gifty Ohene-Konadu -- Asante-Akim South Mr. Joseph Darko-Mensah __
Delegation from the Lower House of Irish Parliament
Mr. Speaker 10:05 a.m.
Hon. Members, I have the greatest honour and privilege to introduce to you a parliamentary delegation from the Lower House of the Irish Parliament who are present in this House this morning.
The delegation is headed by Rt. Hon. (Dr.) Rory O'Honlon -- Speaker of the Lower House of the Irish Parliament.
Rt. Hon. (Dr.) Rory O'Honlon is a medical officer by profession, having
graduated from the University College of Dublin. He is also a member of the Irish Presidential Commission, the Irish Council of State and a member of the Conference of Presidents of European Parliamentary Assembly.

Hon. Members, the other members of the delegation are:

Hon. Dan Neville -- Fine Gael


Hon. Jack Wall -- Labour Party

Hon. Paudge Connolly -- Independent

Hon. Martin Brady -- Fianna Fail Party

Hon. Barry Andrews -- Fianna Fail Party

Senator Timmy Dooley -- Fianna Fail Party

Ms. Cait Hayes -- Secretary to the Delegation
STATEMENTS 10:15 a.m.

Mrs. Gifty Eugenia Kusi (NPP -- Tarkwa Nsuaem) 10:25 a.m.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for giving me the opportunity to make this Statement on the floor of the House.
Mr. Speaker, democracy and the parliamentary system are based on the principles of equality of political rights for all. However, in this country women's representation in elected bodies is far from equal. The campaign for equality of political rights started over a century ago in the Western World when Australian women won the right to stand for election in 1902,
being the first in the world.
In basic democratic terms, a government that is exclusively or predominantly made up of men cannot claim to be a government for the people, by the people. This point is reinforced by a resolution on women in politics passed by the council of the Inter- Parliamentary Union in April 1992, which argued that --
“the concept of democracy will only assume true and dynamic significance when political parties and national legislation are decided upon jointly by men and women with equitable regard for the interest and aptitudes of both halves of the population.”
My emphasis, Mr. Speaker, is on national legislations being “decided upon jointly by men with equitable regard for the interests and aptitudes of both halves of the population.”
Women, without doubt, are best placed to identify and articulate their needs and concerns. The entry of women into Parliament, no matter how slow and painful the process, has seen a significant broadening of the issues under debate. New legislations have targeted sex discrimination and promoted equal employment opportunities.
Surveys undertaken globally indicate that the presence of even a few women in the corridors of power results in a more participatory, less autocratic style and mood of government. Echoing these sentiments, the 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform
for Action called on governments to take measures to ensure women participation in all governments.
Mr. Speaker, in this country, right from colonial days, women's limited access to education has contributed greatly to their low participation in politics. Even though more girls enjoy equal opportunities in elementary schools, there is high dropout in secondary and tertiary levels due to institutional, domestic and societal obstacles. Most secondary schools and universities have more dormitories for boys than girls. Institutions have different forms of education for girls. Girls are encouraged to do needle work, crocheting and cooking and to acquire skills like dressmaking, catering, et cetera. Until recently, males were the dominant group encouraged to do law, medicine, engineering, architecture, et cetera.
Such achievements boosted the male ego, intellect and oratorial skills, which are all effective assets for political offices. Women however lacked these qualities. Furthermore, attitudes of family and society on the whole, where women were socialized to exhibit characteristics of meekness, tenderness and compassion as opposed to training of men to be bold, aggressive and incompassionate alienated women from political roles.
Again, religion and standards of morality have also been great hindrances -- the orthodox advocates of Islam stressed the inferiority of women as against men, which they believe, is of divine origin. Women are therefore to spend their lives under the care of their menfolk and are not to have any socio-economic activity outside their domestic environment. The attitudes of earlier Christian towards politics, which was branded as treacherous and deceitful, made it a dirty game for serious Christians.
However, these beliefs are gradually collapsing and both Christian and Moslem
women in Ghana are beginning to engage in active politics.
Another setback to women participation is the lack of effective women mobilization and lack of commitment on the part of the few women leaders in the country to get women-folk involved. Even though women in Ghana have attained economic and material gains through trade and other business activities and, lately, have as well attained intellectual and professional heights in such fields as law, medicine, banking, et cetera, their attitude tend to be that of indifference and apathy when it comes to getting involved in mainstream politics.

In spite of the above hindrances, women

participation in politics in Ghana even though has been very slow, has chalked successes and there is the need to encourage more women to assume political leadership.

From the election of the first Ghanaian woman, Miss Mabel Dave to the Gold Coast Legislative Assembly in 1954 to the election of 10 women by special ballot into Parliament in 1960 by the CPP Government, through the election of only one woman among 140 Parliamentarians in 1969, women in Ghana had been continuously marginalized until 1975 when the NCWD was established by the National Redemption Council. Notwithstanding this effort, the Acheampong Government never had a woman until 1979 when Mrs. Gloria Amon Nikoi was appointed as the first woman Commissioner.

The Third Republic had only five elected women Members of Parliament (MPs). The First Parliament of the Fourth Republic brought 14 women whose number was increased to 15 by 1992. In the Second Parliament of the Fourth Republic, women
Mrs. Grace Coleman (NPP -- Effiduase/Asokore) 10:35 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, my name is hon. Mrs. Grace Coleman. I am the Member of Parliament (MP) for Effiduase/ Asokore. I know you will hear a lot so let me mention my name at this early stage so that you can always remember that I am the Chairman of the women caucus.
Mr. Speaker, women in Parliament have gone through a whole lot in the past eight years. As you might have heard, during the last four years we had problems and we could not even set up the caucus. Mr. Speaker, it became a worry for everybody in this country, especially the women organisations and the non-governmental organisations (NGOs) which took these problems upon their shoulders; they were all worried.
Mr. Speaker, it is not to say that the women in Parliament do not care about the women of this country or do not take women issues seriously. We sat down with the former Speaker and we were able to resolve the problem towards the end of the term. Now, I want to take this opportunity to say that we are very anxious to see this country move forward; and to be able to move forward we know that one cannot ignore the 52 per cent of the population of this country. Therefore, the hon. Member who just spoke has brought to the fore the need for the whole country to support us and to allow us to grow.
Mr. Speaker, in the past we faced a lot of criticisms to the extent that it made it even difficult for us to start because wherever we went, we heard people saying that the women in Parliament were not doing much. I want to beg them that this year every organisation, whether it is a women's organisation or a men's organisation should please help us to grow because we are serious; otherwise, we would not have started so early in the term with such a long Statement.
Mr. Speaker, last year, while we were on recess and preparing for the elections, we were invited to a hotel in Accra. You are aware that most of us are not city MPs; we come from the rural areas. But because we thought it was a very important issue many of us, if I should put it like that, including some hon. Members who did not retain their seats came to meet them. At the meeting they made a lot of promises to us; we were all very hearty and thought that, that was our day and that at the end of the meeting we would get something that would help solve our problems. Unfortunately nothing of the sort came.
Mr. Speaker, I think already we are in trouble as women trying to get into Parliament. Many of us have not got the resources to fight, and for NGOs to have
invited us to come down to Accra and then at the end of the day we got nothing -- We beg the non-governmental organisa-tions (NGOs) in Ghana to please not take us through such ordeal. We want the kind of help that will make us grow. When we came, many of us said that if we got one million cedis or 500 thousand cedis, we would be able to fight the cause and come to Parliament.

Unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, it did not happen. I do not want to say that it was due to that, but it could be the fact that a few people did not come because they did not get the resources that were vital.

I want to tell the whole nation that the number of women in Parliament now has grown to 25; we have held two meetings already and, I want to say that we are anxious to see that women in this country go places. We are anxious to help other Members of Parliament to be at the forefront. All of us want to show that we can help Ghana and therefore we want serious non-governmental organisations (NGO) to come to our aid. We do not want NGOs that will just write our names and go and collect money. We want people who want to help us.

So we are announcing through this medium that right now we are ready to work. We have started working when many caucuses and committees have not even met. We have started working. And let me take this opportunity also to appeal to foreign NGOs and organizations that have the heart for women; we are serious. We want to help Ghana because 52 per cent of the people cannot suffer while we say we are developing. It can never happen; Ghana will never develop until it looks at women of this country because sometimes

what I can see is that -- [An hon. Member: Civil war!] -- It is not civil war. What I can see, Mr. Speaker, is that with the little help that we got, women chalked successes, as my hon. Sister said.

So we are looking forward to everybody's help. Maybe, we would have to go to them; please, they should not say that the women in Parliament are begging for money. We have realized that many of us could come to this Parliament. If we were 104 and the men were 96, it would have been alright because we form 52 per cent. So my hon. Brothers and Sisters, I would want all men in this room to help us to win the battle, because there is not one man in this room who was not born by a woman.
Mr. Speaker 10:35 a.m.
Order! Order! Hon. Member for Effiduase/Asokore, I hope you are summing up.
Mrs. Coleman 10:35 a.m.
I am summing up,
Mr. Speaker. Somebody said there is no woman who did not sleep with a man -- [Laughter] - Yes.
The real point is that the woman has to carry the child for nine months. The man can sleep throughout the nine months and it will come. We know that we can do it if you help us. The women we met have all got solid backgrounds. They are ready to help all the other women to make programmes that will help this country and help even the men in this Chamber. So I am asking that we all come together and help to make Ghana what we want it to be.
Nii Amasah K. Namoale (NDC - Dade
Kotopon): Mr. Speaker, I share the view of my hon. Mother who just made her contribution. May God bless our noble women in Ghana. But Mr. Speaker, I think women are their own enemies. The whole of Ghana has given women the chance to come up and fight for what belongs to them.
Mr. Speaker, I have three daughters. My sisters, my aunties and my other women
Mrs. Coleman 10:45 a.m.
relatives have been telling me, “try to get a man”, “try to get a man”. Mr. Speaker, if you marry a woman and you tell her to keep her maiden name, she will tell you, “I want to be called Mrs. . . . Then she will add a man's name.
Mr. Speaker, women in Sudan are fighting hard. If you go to their public offices, especially the civil service in Sudan, you will see women Directors, Chief Directors, et cetera.
What are the women in Ghana doing? We cannot fight for them; we will only support them. They should fight their fight and we shall support them. Whenever people are talking about women being at a disadvantage in Ghana, they always cite Members of Parliament and Ministers. What about the Boards and Corporations? Are they fighting for Mr. President to put them on the Boards and Corporations so that they will have equal representation there? Or is it the flamboyant representation, for everybody to know the number of women MPs or the number of women Ministers?
Mr. Speaker, I beg to support the women but they must fight hard.
Mrs. Gladys Asmah (NPP --
Takoradi): Mr. Speaker, I rise to add my voice to the Statement that has been made on the floor.
Mr. Speaker, women are born natural manageress; God created us so. We manage the home, the family and if more women come into public life, we will bring our managerial abilities in the home to help manage society. After all, Mr. Speaker, what is society? It is but an aggregate of families that women manage; and we manage very well. The result, you can see

[NII NAMOALE] here. All the men here were taken care of by their mothers and they are all here as Members of Parliament. We manage the home and we do it very, very well.

Mr. Speaker, the problem with getting more women into Parliament sometimes is the lack of support. In 2000, 98 of us contested but only 18 of us won because of lack of logistical support. Only 18 of us won. Mr. Speaker, why is it so? A lot of the support that should be given to the contestants themselves go to the NGOs for capacity-building. At the end of the day, those whose capacity are built do not come to Parliament and that training becomes a waste.

Mr. Speaker, the problems of women are many and that is why the Government of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) in 2001 created a Ministry to deal with the problems of women and to solve them, knowing that we have to go to the roots of the problems to solve them, and knowing that there is the need for women to come to Parliament.

My Ministry started from the District Assembly and at the 2002 District Assemblies election, I asked for an affirmative action which is a non-partisan area. We had 30 per cent of the appointees to the District Assemblies being women. We know that we have to build our capacity. We know that women must be able to come to the House of Parliament, but they can start at the District Assembly and use it as a stepping stone to come to the House of Parliament.

We have more women in District Assemblies right now as against what was there before. And I am happy to say that our hon. Colleague who unfortunately lost her seat, hon. Mrs. Agnes Sonful was a product of the Ministry's capacity-building programme it gave to women. She became a Member of the District Assembly and she

came to Parliament.

That is what the Ministry is doing. We are building them up from the level of the District Assembly to be able to debate, know what debate is about, take care of the communities so that at the end of the day, the electorate would look at the work in the community and vote for them.

Mr. Speaker, in the 2004 elections, again 98 of us contested and I am happy to say that 25 of us are here; a very big step we have taken. The next time round we will be 40, 50 and it will continue. It is not an event, it is a process we are going through; and that is what we are doing now.

But, Mr. Speaker, what we have to look at is the support that goes to the non- governmental organizations (NGOs) more than the contestants themselves. That is quite a problem for women parliamentary aspirants. If the support which is offered through the NGOs is given to the contestants themselves, they will be able to move forward; because all of us do know that politics is not a cheap game. You must have the support; you must have the wherewithal to move forward. All the support goes to the NGOs for capacity-building, which at the end of the day, invariably, comes to naught, because many of the women do not come to the House of Legislature.

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to say that before the 2004 elections, I called all the women aspirants. We had a meeting at the Office of the Head of the Civil Service; we shared our thoughts on the support that we needed. We also called some donors, they came in. And I am happy to say that the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), through the gender programme that operates from the Ministry

of Women and Children's Affairs, gave twenty thousand dollars to help us; and that amounted to ¢1.5 million to every woman aspirant. In order to make it fair, the money was given to the Electoral Commission and every woman aspirant got ¢1.5 million. That money came from the effort of the Ministry, for every woman aspirant. Mr. Speaker, we will not end there; we are going to make sure that more women come to Parliament to help all of us here to move the country forward.

At the end of the day, as I said earlier on, women manage the home. We manage the family; and what is a family? Society is nothing but a number of families put together including men, women and children. When we are here, we will be able to highlight the issues of women. Twenty- five of us are here, and I am sure that at the end of the day, more of our members will come and join us because of what we do here. If we perform, more will come.

Mr. Speaker, on that note, I am pleading with the donors who give a lot of support to the NGOs, as against the contestants, to look the other way round. If they want to help women to come to Parliament, it is the contestants that must be supported not monies going to the NGOs, eighty per cent of which goes to administrative costs, as against helping us.
Prof. W. A. Seini (NDC -- Tamale Central) 10:45 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, “Fella” made a record which became very popular throughout West Africa; he called it ‘Sweet Mother -- Sweet Mother, I will never forget you.' I would like to support our women on the Statement they have made, for, it is a fact that women are not only the majority but they also contribute a lot to the economy of this country. They produce food, they process the food, and they market the food. Fortunately, in this country, I do not think we are doing badly in terms of the development of our female folk. If you look at the statistics, you would realize that our women are making progress on
Mr. K. A. Okerchiri 10:45 a.m.
On a point of
order. Mr. Speaker, the hon. Member made a Statement which is factually incorrect. He said that Fella composed ‘Sweet Mother'. It is not true. It is rather Prince Nico Mbarga of Cameroon.
Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom (CPP --
Komenda/Edina/Eguafo/Abirem): Mr. Speaker, I wish to associate myself with the Statement made by the hon. Member for Tarkwa-Nsuaem (Mrs. Eugenia Kusi).
Mr. Speaker, I believe that all of us would attest to the point made about the importance of women in our Ghanaian society. But I do not believe that it is disputable, the proportion of women in our society. I also believe that everywhere that a group has been considered relatively disadvantaged, it has also taken extra-ordinary measures to correct that disadvantage. It is in that direction that I would also want to
Mrs. Juliana Azumah-Mensah (NDC -- Ho East) 10:55 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I am sure we all share the sentiments of the hon. Members who have spoken and I believe this is a stern message to the present Government to look at the appointment of women as Ministers. We all know that with regard to the present nominations it is only three women who have been nominated to be vetted for Ministerial appointments . What we need is more political will and support and not just mere rhetoric, as has been happening.
As the hon. Member on the other side said earlier, it is by no mean feat that some of us are standing here today. We had
a tough time to get through the process and we wish the organizations and non- governmental organizations (NGOs) which pledged to support us would do so with the financial support that they promised. As the hon. Member for Takoradi (hon. Mrs. Asmah) said, all the money went into meetings, administrative costs, and none came to us.

I hope, and a lot of us women expect that in future the actual financial support will come to us directly because that is one of the major problems we encountered during the campaigning period. We are still hoping and praying that more women will be encouraged so that by 2008, our number 25 will reach at least 50.

Ms. Theresa A. Tagoe (NPP --
Mr. Speaker 10:55 a.m.
Order! Order!
Ms. Tagoe 10:55 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, he was given
Mr. E.K.D. Adjaho 10:55 a.m.
On a point of
order. Mr. Speaker, we would want to find out from the hon. Member for Ablekuma South as to which part of the Bible that it was stated that Adam was lazy.
Mr. Speaker 10:55 a.m.
Hon. Member for
Ablekuma South, would you please go on?
Ms. Tagoe 10:55 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, he was
sleeping -- [Laughter.] He was all the time sleeping, the guy was sleeping -- [Uproar.]
Mr. E. T. Mensah 10:55 a.m.
On a point of
Ms. Tagoe 10:55 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, after God created man he was so bored. He had beautiful surroundings but he could not make use of the surroundings. He was sleeping -- [Laughter.] So God looked at him and said, this is my creation -- [Interruption.]
Mr. Lee Ocran 10:55 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, on a
point of order. The hon. Member keeps repeating, “He was sleeping; and he was sleeping.” But he was sleeping because he had to sleep to facilitate the creation of a woman.
Mr. Speaker 10:55 a.m.
Hon. Member for
Ablekuma South, kindly go on and be brief.
Ms. Tagoe 10:55 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, so God looked
Mr. Speaker 10:55 a.m.
Hon. Members, order please!
Ms. Tagoe 10:55 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, in the Bible, everything good was done through a woman. When God created Eve and they went out of the Garden and got contaminated with certain things and they started sinning and God wanted to redeem
Mr. G. Kuntu-Blankson 10:55 a.m.
On a point
of order. Mr. Speaker, I would like to call the attention of the House to the fact that our dear Sister has been misleading the House. God created man in his own image and likeness. He created Adam and he saw that there was the need to create a woman as a companion to Adam so that the creation on earth would be complete. That is why he created Eve. But she cannot come and stand here before this august House and the whole public alike and tell them that Adam was lazy and that was why God created a woman. She is misleading the House, Mr. Speaker. I would want to set the records straight, that God created Adam and he saw that there was the need for a woman as a companion to Adam; and that was why he created Eve.
Mr. Speaker 10:55 a.m.
Hon. Member, you see,
you are clearly out of order.
Mr. B. D. K. Adu 10:55 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I rise
Mr. Speaker 10:55 a.m.
Order! Order! Hon.
Member, that was not a point of order. Hon. Theresa Tagoe, kindly conclude your statement.
Ms. Tagoe 11:05 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I have not
finished; they are heckling me.

Maj. (Dr.) (Alhaji) Mustapha Ahmed (Rtd.): On a point of order. Mr. Speaker, the hon. Member's assertion that Adam slept as a sign of laziness, is incorrect. His sleep can be likened to a divine anaesthesia in preparation for divine service.
Mr. Speaker 11:05 a.m.
Hon. Member, kindly complete your contribution.
Ms. Tagoe 11:05 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I must tell him that he should stick to his belief and I also stick to my belief. His belief is different from mine. So when she brought us Jesus Christ -- one day Jesus Christ was walking about and he was very thirsty -- [Interruption.]
Mr. Speaker 11:05 a.m.
An hon. Member is standing up. Are you raising a point of order?
Mr. Akwasi Osei-Adjei 11:05 a.m.
Yes, Mr. Speaker, I am raising a point of order. Mr. Speaker, I wonder whether Jesus Christ was a Member of Parliament, because what the hon. Member is treating us to is quite irrelevant. We are being treated as Sunday school pupils with the teacher preaching to us. So if she could just speak to the point about women in democracy, Mr. Speaker, I think we would appreciate it very much.
Ms. Tagoe 11:05 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I just want to tell them how important a woman is in this world of ours. When Jesus was crucified, all the men went to sleep and it was only a woman who waited and then discovered that Jesus Christ had arisen.
Dr. Kwame Ampofo 11:05 a.m.
On a point of order. Mr. Speaker, I think the hon. Member is out of order, in the sense that she is not speaking to the Statement on the floor of the House.
Mr. Speaker 11:05 a.m.
You have made the point. Hon. Member, please, speak to it and very briefly.
Ms. Tagoe 11:05 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, we are trying to see the participation of women in democracy, in Parliament and the rest. Jesus Christ himself was one. You could see the importance of women in the Government now. We have been boasting of percentage increase in revenue collection and all that. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is
headed by a woman. Is it not? She knows the way to do it and that is why we are getting more revenue. She knows the way and that is why we have increased revenue collection. That is very important. Look at the Insurance Commissioner! She is a woman.
Mr. John A. Tia 11:05 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, this morning something happened in the public gallery and I am minded to think that today, our women are possessed.
Mr. Speaker 11:05 a.m.
Hon. Minority Chief Whip, is it a point of order?
Mr. Tia 11:05 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I just want to add to the request made by hon. Akwasi Osei-Adjei that the hon. Member, hon. Ms. Theresa Tagoe should speak to the point -- Women in Politics. I know she is a latter- day convert; she said she was ‘born again' but I think that this --
Mr. Speaker 11:05 a.m.
I shall plead with the hon. Member for Ablekuma South to be brief on this matter so that we move on.
Ms. Tagoe 11:05 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, we are trying to tell you that women are very, very important. Women are efficient and that is why we should come to Parliament and help. I am not possessed; I am not.
Mr. Speaker 11:05 a.m.
Hon. Member, you go on.
Ms. Tagoe 11:05 a.m.
If you look at the Immi- gration Service, there is a woman at Ghana Immigration Service -- Miss Adjei. We come to the Police Service -- the Deputy. Look at the work the woman at Tema is doing. Men had been there and never caught the thieves, the robbers; she has caught the robbers. She has caught the armed robbers, ridding this country of very dangerous elements. Yes, Mr. Speaker, so all of us, all those who are married to women, and everybody who is up was brought up by a woman.
Mr. Abu-Bakar Saddique Boniface 11:05 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I am rising on a point of order. I do not know whether there are some men who are married to men because she is saying that those men married to women -- So I want to know whether she knows men married to men.
Ms. Tagoe 11:05 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, we are all sitting here -- all these men --
Mr. Speaker 11:05 a.m.
Hon. Member, please, address the Chair and be brief.
Ms. Tagoe 11:05 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, apart from all that I have said about the importance and the efficiency of women in this country, I want to say that we need to amend the Constitution. If you look at Uganda, if you look at Kenya, if you look at Botswana, if you look at South Africa, there are more women through affirmative action.
Mr. Speaker, we are not saying affirmative action should be permanent. We are saying that there is a deadline to affirmative action and that all the political parties should make it a point that women should stand. There are more popular areas where they are supposed to win without a problem. All women who stand with men, the insults, everything should be stopped. They should be gentle with women when they are brave enough to stand.
Mr. Kojo Armah 11:05 a.m.
On a point of order. Mr. Speaker, the hon. Member is saying that we need to amend the Constitution but she did not state which part of the Constitution ought to be amended. I want to know whether it is the whole Constitution or a particular part that ought to be amended.
Mr. Speaker 11:05 a.m.
Hon. Member, this does not appear to be a point of order at all.
Ms. Tagoe 11:05 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, he needs a woman or something, that is why -- [Interruption.]
Mr. Speaker 11:05 a.m.
Hon. Member, kindly conclude.
Ms. Tagoe 11:05 a.m.
I t should be made compulsory that political parties should field women at very important and safe seats so that we can have more women in Parliament. All political parties should amend their constitutions and field more women at safe areas. Also, Government should be forced to have a lot of women in the Civil Service, at the top; any area where there is a man there can be a woman. We have to tango together.
Mr. Speaker, the women are important and I support hundred per cent the Statement on the floor.
Mr. Abdul-Rashid Pelpuo (NDC - Wa Central) 11:15 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to associate myself with the concerns expressed by the women so far. It is true that women form the majority of the population of this country. But it is also true that women are least rewarded for all that they do in the year round, in terms of production and in terms of earnings.
Mr. Speaker 11:15 a.m.
Hon. Member for Takoradi, are you raising a point of order?
Mrs. Gladys Asmah 11:15 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the hon. Member is misleading the House. What we are saying is that the support given to women, the vote that goes to NGOs for
the support of women, 80 per cent goes into administrative costs; only 20 per cent goes to their support. As a result, the problem is never solved. That is what we are saying; we are not calling on NGOs to come and help us. If the support is given to contestants themselves, they would be able to make a headway.
Mr. Speaker 11:15 a.m.
Please, continue.
Mr. Pelpuo 11:15 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, what I am saying is this. I agree it is logical that women should call for support from their compatriots. But I am saying that there must be a policy base upon which NGOs should come in to support. We do not come to the floor of this House to begin calling for NGOs and to even mention figures that were given to them to contest elections, which they are not happy about, or for which they think something should be added. It is a general problem which must be cured. And the problem is that often - and it is a malaise throughout the country -- we have a feeling that to support Ghana or to support Ghanaians or to lift us out of our poverty status, somebody from outside must come in to do it.
Women can engineer their own development; they have to make room for people to come in; they have to take the lead; and it has to be demonstrated in their own action; it has to be positive action. And I think that the best thing that can be done to women is to ensure that women lead the Women's Ministry; and it happened in the last four years. But I have not seen any policy that would counter the present situation they are lamenting about.
Mrs. Asmah 11:15 a.m.
On a point of order. Mr. Speaker, the hon. Member is misleading the House again. Before the Ministry came into being, nothing much was being done for the women. It was only talk, a lot of it from the NGO circles. The Ministry was created and the policies that have to be made, everything has been done. Mr. Speaker, right now the policy is sitting in the House, in the mails room for all Members to have a - [Interruption.]
Mr. Speaker 11:15 a.m.
Hon. Member, I do not think that is a point of order.
Mrs. Asmah 11:15 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, he is saying that no policy has been made and that the women should make the policy themselves and fight for themselves. But the Government has put in place a Ministry to champion their cause, which is doing its work very beautifully. The policies have been made, but before the Ministry came into being NGOs were doing that, and that is why we are saying that the support given to the NGOs must come to the women themselves, and not the other way round.
Mr. Speaker 11:15 a.m.
Hon. Member for Wa Central, you may conclude your statement.
Mr. Pelpuo 11:15 a.m.
I agree that there is a logical consistency for women to call for their rights and to call for their involvement in governance and to ensure that there is equity. I agree with that and we are going with them; and I would go with them as well.
But I am saying that it is important that when women are talking about this they show a positive step towards resolving their problems. I would have loved to see a framework through which others can come on board - a framework within which NGOs can find themselves a place. We would not like to see a situation where NGOs, especially foreign NGOs come into
this country with their own programmes about how our women should get involved in politics; about how our women should get involved in the productive structure of this country. It is important that we take the lead and if women are so passionate about it - and I believe they are passionate about it - the framework should come from them. That is the point I want to make.
Mr. Speaker 11:15 a.m.
The next Statement is by the hon. Member for Bawku Central (Mr. Mahama Ayariga).
Organization of the Muslim Pilgrimage to Mecca by the Ghana Hajj
Mr. Mahama Ayariga (NDC - Bawku Central) 11:15 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, thank you very much for this opportunity to make my maiden Statement in this House. Mr. Speaker, the Statement is about the organization of the Annual Muslim Pilgrimage to Mecca by the Ghana Hajj Committee.
The “Hajj”, or Pilgrimage to the Muslim holy city of Mecca, is one of the five (5) pillars of Islam. Every Muslim who is capable is enjoined to undertake the pilgrimage to Mecca at least, once in his or her life time in order that his or her faith shall be complete. Because of the centrality of the pilgrimage to the completion of the faith of Muslims, they have always worked very hard to be able to perform it.
Ghana has a significant Muslim population. In recent years, we have witnessed thousands of Muslims hustle through the difficulties of performing the pilgrimage. To facilitate the organization of the pilgrimage, a National Hajj Committee largely controlled by the Government was formed on an ad hoc basis to support the process.
Mr. Speaker, the legal basis of this
Mr. Mahama Ayariga (NDC - Bawku Central) 11:25 a.m.
committee is not clear. Nevertheless, this committee has monopolized the process of the organization of the pilgrimage for Muslims. And the result of this monopoly has been nothing but gross inefficiency and untold hardship visited upon Muslim pilgrims some of whom are often old, frail and weak.
Mr. Speaker, a number of facts regarding the organization of the pilgrimage this year exposes the inefficiencies and indeed inhumanities of the existing system. Most pilgrims had no advanced knowledge of exactly when they would leave Ghana and so they had to travel from as far as my constituency in Bawku Central with very limited resources only to be stranded here in Accra whilst waiting for some clues as to when they might leave.
Some of the pilgrims who had no homes nor relatives to stay with ended up frustrated and grossly inconvenienced as elderly women and men were exposed to the harsh weather, having been housed at the El-Wak sports stadium. Indeed, the scene at the stadium looked more like a refugee camp rather than dignified leaders and followers of the Muslim faith about to undertake the most important journey of their lives.
Mr. Speaker, the pilgrims were subjected to abuses as they struggled to live up to the dictates of their religion. One such striking abuse was a mandatory order by the committee that every pilgrim should purchase a certain travelling bag which was sold by the committee, irrespective of whether or not the pilgrim needed a travelling bag or already had one. The price of the bag was about ¢470,000. The interesting thing is that one of my constituents purchased one and at the check-in point he was told that the bag was too big for his very little luggage so
his son had to carry that bag back to the constituency.
Mr. Speaker, as if the abuses to which the pilgrims were subjected to in Ghana were not enough, over 800 pilgrims got stranded in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, the reason being that the Saudi Government would not permit them to perform the Hajj because an amount of over $250 per pilgrim which the Hajj Committee was supposed to pay to the Saudi Government on behalf of every pilgrim had not been paid. This was so even though each pilgrim had paid the total charge for the organization of the pilgrimage which amounted to the sum of about ¢16,000,000.00 to agents acting for the Hajj Committee.

Mr. Speaker, these abuses and inefficiencies associated with the organization of the pilgrimage are attributed largely to the fact of the ad hoc character of the Hajj Committee. The committee ends up having a very short time and limited resources for the organization of the pilgrimage. Secondly, that the organization of the pilgrimage has been monopolized by one body with doubtful legitimacy has denied most Muslim pilgrims any choice.

Mr. Speaker, let me reiterate that the monopolization of the organization of the pilgrimage by one body which is largely state-controlled, whether covert or overt, is clearly inconsistent with one of the principles which defines our nation as captured in article 36 (2) (c) of our Constitution; that an enabling environment that would foster a pronounced role for the private sector should be created. Liberalizing the organization of the Hajj by opening it up to private sector involvement would most likely attract private sector participation which can foster competition that might generate efficiency, produce

competitive pricing and ultimately a more humane treatment of Muslim pilgrims.

Equally important is the fact that it would expand the choices that are available to Muslims when they decide to perform the pilgrimage. In this regard, I call for a review of the entire system for the organization of the pilgrimage. In particular, I call for the removal of the current monopoly of the ad hoc Hajj Committee over the organization of the pilgrimage. In its place, I propose the creation, by statute, of a permanent Hajj Board that is adequately representative of the different interest groups constituencies, and expertise needed to organize, on a smooth and systematic basis, the annual pilgrimage which has come to stay.

Mr. Speaker, the proposal to have a non-politically controlled supervisory board that will oversee the activities of these profit-motivated private actors is not inconsistent with opening up the process to private sector involvement.

Mr. Speaker, removing political control, whether overt or covert shall disentangle the State from religion while ensuring that freedom of Muslims to practise their religion remains unfettered.

Mr. Speaker, this recommendation is consistent with the plea made by Muslim chiefs and leaders when they paid a courtesy call on His Excellency President John Agyekum Kufuor last year.

Mr. Speaker, whilst we look at structural reforms to permanently deal with the problem, I will call for a parliamentary investigation into some of the practices that characterized the organization of the pilgrimage this year in addition to an investigation into the circumstances leading to over 800 Ghanaian Muslim pilgrims getting stranded at Jeddah and causing Ghana great embarrassment.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for your


Maj. (Dr.) (Alhaji) Mustapha Ahmed (rtd.): On a point of order. Mr. Speaker, hon. I. C. Quaye has misled this honourable House. Over the years, the Hajj Committee has been on ad hoc basis and it has always been set up from the Office of the President. And therefore, the monopoly that has been described, in my opinion, is right.
Mr. Harunah Bayirga 11:25 a.m.
On a point of order. Mr. Speaker, the Hajj Board had always been set up by governments. It was not only in the reign of this Government that the Hajj Board is being set up.
Alhaji Sumani Abukari 11:25 a.m.
On a point of order. Mr. Speaker, I want to say that this problem has existed for a very long time -- [Interruption.]
Mr. Speaker 11:25 a.m.
No, are you raising a point of order to what he is saying or you are contributing?
Alhaji Abukari 11:25 a.m.
I am contributing.
Mr. Speaker 11:25 a.m.
Then it will come to your turn. Please, let us hear hon. I. C. Quaye.
Sheikh Quaye: There has not been any permanent body or Hajj Board set up by Government. What happens is that every year the Government announces names
Alhaji Abukari 11:25 a.m.
On a point of order. Mr. Speaker, the hon. Member has made a statement that the problem that exists now is something that was carried over from the old Hajj Committee; and that is the one which was in existence during the NDC era. Mr. Speaker, I want to differ from him - [Interruption.]
Mr. Speaker 11:25 a.m.
Are you raising a point of order or you are making a contribution?
Alhaji Abukari 11:25 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the hon. Member who just spoke is misleading the House. I was a member of that committee, and Mr. Speaker, in the year 2001, when the New Patriotic Party (NPP) came to power, I was the one who led the Hajj Committee and the Hajj pilgrims to Mecca that year; and there was nothing wrong with that. We, in fact -- [Interruption.]
Mr. Speaker 11:25 a.m.
Hon. Member, I will give you the opportunity to make your contribution but, for the meantime, let him continue.
Sheikh Quaye: Mr. Speaker, it is true that what is happening today was inherited from the old Hajj Board. I remember very well that they incurred a heavy debt and those who managed the Hajj in those days came to the Ghana Embassy and hon. Saliah and his team, if they were part, were called to the Embassy of Saudi Arabia and confronted; and they demanded immediate payment of the debt, otherwise there was not going to be any Hajj for the year 2001.
Hon. Saliah invited me and I was there with them. What saved the situation was that at the time of discussion when they were demanding the full payment of the debt, I received a call that I had been nominated by the President to become the Regional Minister. I thanked God for it -

Alhamdu Lilahi, meaning thanks be to God.

I am challenging anybody here who can deny this fact that I saved the situation at that time, otherwise hon. Salia and his team, if anyone belonged to it, would have been carried from here to Saudi Arabia to go and pay - [Interruptions] -- because they happened to be in the Embassy. The Embassy, as you know, is the land of Saudi Arabia. So when they got there, of course, they fell in the hands of those who came to demand payment of the debt. So it happened that from then onwards there should be increase in the rate.
Mr. Pele Abuga 11:35 a.m.
On a point of order. Mr. Speaker, the hon. Member has persistently been misleading this House. He agreed that the committee that has always run the affairs of the Hajj has always been ad hoc. So whatever he is recounting right now pertains to that period. I cannot see how an ad hoc committee which carried out its duty to a conclusion can be relevant for what the hon. Member raised as an issue in this particular year.
What he is raising is a new issue altogether. How can he relate the stranding of eight hundred pilgrims in Saudi Arabia to what had occurred under the National Democratic Congress ( NDC) era? Mr. Speaker, I think that to be relevant, the hon. Member contributing should stick to the issue raised by the hon. Member, address it and tell us how the Hajj members got stranded in Saudi Arabia.
Sheikh Quaye: I am trying to justify why I disagree with the hon. Member who made the Statement. There is no time that Government appoints Hajj Board members on ad hoc basis; no. But I was saying that as a result of the debt carried over from the NDC era into the New Patriotic Party (NPP) era, it happened that the fare should always be increased a little bit to be able to pay that debt; and this was started by hon. Alhaji Issaku Saliah, the ex-Member of Parliament for Wa East.
Mr. Speaker, the simple fact is this, that I was trying even to discuss this matter we have been mentioning here in the House, and I remember very well that I mentioned this to the hon. Member - Sumani, who happened to be one time Ambassador to Saudi Arabia.
I remember very well that last Friday, I was trying to discuss this matter with hon. Sumani Abukari. He happened to be the Ambassador to Saudi Arabia some time ago, and I was discussing this matter with him that we should do well to see how best to save the situation because the debt was carried over from the NDC era to the NPP era, and that as a result of that when payments are made by the pilgrims -
Mr. John Tia 11:35 a.m.
On a point of order. Mr. Speaker, I just want my hon. Colleague opposite to tell this House the debt that the NDC left over to the Hajj Board before it handed over.
Sheikh Quaye: Thousands of dollars; and I repeat once again that the debt was inherited from the NDC era -- thousands of dollars. It is on record and if he wants - the real figure I will come to the House and make a Statement.
Mr. Speaker 11:35 a.m.
Hon. Minority Chief Whip, are you raising a point of order again?
Mr. Tia 11:35 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, this is an allegation that is very, very serious and so if he cannot substantiate it he should withdraw the Statement because he cannot even give the figure now. So Mr. Speaker, he should withdraw that statement because it is not substantiated -- [Interruptions.] We are demanding that he should withdraw the statement, unless he is able to provide the figures and give a substantiation.
Sheikh Quaye: Mr. Speaker, this is factual.
Mr. Speaker 11:35 a.m.
Hon. Sheikh Quaye, did you make any allegation against a specific person?
Sheikh Quaye: No, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker 11:35 a.m.
Was it against a specific person or a general allegation?
Sheikh Quaye: The Board at that time, not against any particular person.
Mr. Speaker 11:35 a.m.
Not against any particular person?
Sheikh Quaye: But it is a fact that the debt was inherited. That is a fact.
Mr. Speaker 11:35 a.m.
Hon. Minority Chief Whip, I will give you opportunity in due course.
Mr. Tia 11:35 a.m.
No, Mr. Speaker, this is a very substantive allegation. He mentioned the NDC Government which set up the Board, and the Board left that debt. He mentioned the NDC specifically.
Mr. Speaker 11:35 a.m.
Hon. Minority Chief Whip, let us get this matter through, please. Hon. Sheikh Quaye, I would want to know the nature of the allegation that you made. Did you make any specific allegation against the NDC Government?
Mr. Speaker 11:35 a.m.
I am asking you whether you did make this specific allegation, because we do not want to go into details of these things. If there is a specific allegation where there is no evidence to that, I will suggest that you withdraw and continue.
Mr. Speaker 11:35 a.m.
Order! Hon. Members, please we are trying to resolve this matter so that we go on.
Sheikh Quaye: Mr. Speaker, it is factual and I will come back to this House to make a Statement in support of what I have said, so I maintain the statement.
Mr. Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 11:35 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I think the hon. Member on floor has made a categorical statement. He said that the ad hoc Board that was constituted after the NDC's regime inherited a debt. Mr. Speaker, that is it. And he goes on to talk about the quantum. He did not mention any specific figure. I believe that what we may have to do is to allow him some time to furnish this House with better particulars. But the fact that there was indebtedness cannot be disputed.
Mr. Speaker 11:35 a.m.
Hon. Member, I thought I had given sufficient indication on this matter. At the present moment there is a specific allegation and I have directed him on what to do. If he comes later on with enough information on that, we would hear him, but in the meantime, I have given him direction on this matter.
Mr. Speaker 11:35 a.m.
Hon. Member, are you raising another matter?
Dr. Kunbuor 11:35 a.m.
Respectfully, Mr. Speaker, I am actually trying to seek your guidance on this matter if I understood what you just said to be a ruling of the House; because this House has a number of precedents on this matter. Even in situations where hon. Members had asked the House leave to move out or withdraw from the floor and come back to substantiate the allegations that they had made, it was never permitted. Our Friends on the other side had specifically required that any of these sweeping allegations that had been made against any group or individual, if they could not be substantiated on the floor, the matter should be withdrawn; and the Member was at liberty to come back.
Mr. Speaker 11:45 a.m.
Hon. Member, I thought I had given an indication on this matter already. He may come back if he has enough evidence on that. But in the meantime, I have asked him to withdraw; he can come back later. Let us go on. You talked about debt; please go ahead and then complete. This is a matter on which I have given indication, I do not think there is any reason why we have to drag it. Please, go on.

Sheikh Quaye: Mr. Speaker, I stand down that portion of my statement, but I will come back to this House with the full facts on the matter.
Mr. Speaker 11:45 a.m.
Please, go ahead and kindly conclude your contribution.
Mr. Tia 11:45 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, with due respect what my hon. Colleague is doing is a show of gross disrespect for the Chair -- [Interruption.]
Mr. Speaker 11:45 a.m.
Hon. Minority Chief
Whip, please let me say this. The hon. Member has withdrawn that part and that should be the end of the matter. Hon.
Member, could you please go ahead.
Alhaji. A. Yakubu 11:45 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the
Mr. Speaker 11:45 a.m.
Order! Order!
Alhaji A. Yakubu 11:45 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, if actually there was some debt carried over, why was it that 2002, 2003, 2004, Hajj operations went on smoothly? What happened? Why did they not ask of the debt? Why is it that the debt question is now coming up in 2005?
Mr. Owusu-Adjapong 11:45 a.m.
On a point
Mr. Speaker 11:45 a.m.
Order! The hon. Leader of the House has resumed his seat.
Alhaji A. Yakubu 11:45 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, in 2001 when the NPP Government came into power and they had not set up the Hajj Committee, the old Hajj Committee carried out the operations. I was the one who led pilgrims to Mecca that year and there was no problem at all; all debts that were outstanding were paid in that year and the hajj operations went on smoothly that year and in subsequent years -- 2002,
2003, 2004. Why is the problem coming up in 2005?
Several hon. Members - rose -
Mr. Speaker 11:45 a.m.
Hon. Members, please we will come to you one after the other.
Alhaji Abu-Bakar Saddique Boniface (NPP - Salaga) 11:45 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I rise to associate myself with the Statement on the floor. In doing so, I am so glad he mentioned that with Hajj there is equality before Allah, where no man, no woman is above the religious laws.
I think this part icular sentence counteracts another statement where an hon. Member made a statement that orthodox Moslems undermine women. It has never happened in Islam and nowhere in the Koran has it been stated that a woman has been undermined. Women are given more respect in Islam and, of course, in the light of the statement made by, I think Dr. Aggrey that when you educate a woman you educate a nation, and when you educate a man you educate an individual, we think that women should be given more support.
But coming to the fact that a lot of people have been stranded in Jeddah, yes, it happened but they have been sorted out. These are things that happen when you get to the airport; they are things that normally happen. It does not happen to only Ghanaians. If we want to come here and scrutinise each other, it will be dangerous for some of us.
I want to tell the hon. Member that the 800 pilgrims who were stranded a few days ago have been sorted out. I have been in constant touch with members of the board in Mecca; I have been talking to them. I am not a member of the Board but I have been talking to them. I have much interest in the people, as a Moslem, to know what is actually going on. And being a Minister-
Alhaji Sumani Abukari (NDC -- Tamale North) 11:45 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, for nearly seven years, I was privileged to serve as Ghana's Ambassador to Saudi Arabia. Mr. Speaker, for the period that I was there no pilgrim from Ghana experienced the type of trauma that they went through this year; and you can ask any pilgrim in the country.
Mr. Speaker, I do not know whether some of my hon. Colleagues on the other side have really appreciated the import of the Statement on the floor of this House. The Hajj organisation has a problem and it is a problem that we have to look at squarely and see how we can resolve it. To me, it is an insult on Islam; to me, it is an insult on
Mr. Speaker 11:45 a.m.
Hon. Member, are you rising on a point of order?
Alhaji Boniface 11:55 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I did not
finish. The gentleman rose on a point of order and I sat down. Mr. Speaker, where the hon. Member said the El-Wak Stadium had been turned into a replica of refugee camp, I would want to tell him that the Hajj Board had notified each agent as to when they needed to bring their pilgrims to the El-Wak Stadium. But unannounced, people from Tamale never came until the fifth and sixth flight.They were informed; the hon. Member comes from Bawku and he is aware that for people from Bawku it was only their agents who were in Accra.

They were only given the green light when their agents informed them that the flight was ready for them to fly; so as soon as they came down they went smoothly. I had the opportunity to go to the airport to witness what really happened. So if he says that they were subjected to certain abuses, I do not buy it.
Mr. Speaker 11:55 a.m.
Thank you. Will you please continue, hon. Member for Tamale North.
Alhaji Sumani Abukari 11:55 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, as I said, what happened this year both at El-Wak and Jeddah is a serious indictment on the organizers of the pilgrimage for this year. And Mr. Speaker, one of the reasons why these things had happened in the last three, four years is that, as the hon. Member said, we have had ad hoc Hajj Committees. Every year there is a change in the leadership of the Hajj Committee - from 2001 to 2005; every year there is a change.

Mr. Speaker, the only way we can have experienced operators on the ground is to keep the operators or the organizers of the pilgrimage for a number of years so that they learn and correct their mistakes, year by year. As in our case, hon. Saliah was Hajj Committee Chairman for three years, so by the time he left office he had almost perfected the arrangements for the Hajj.

Mr. Speaker, I also have a problem with the composition of the Hajj Committee. I think that over the years - and I would agree that for several years - the Hajj Committee had been sort of politicized. I think if it were to remain a religious body catering for the interests of religious groups, the committee would have performed better by now; by that, Mr. Speaker, I mean that the Hajj Committee should be made up of mostly Moslem scholars. We have brilliant Moslem scholars who have studied in Saudi Arabia and who have assisted pilgrims during the performance of Hajj, who know what should be done during Hajj.

We also have agents who have been in the system for over 20 years and whose representatives could have been included in that committee. We have old members of Hajj committees who have had some experience as he said, like himself and hon. Saliah who is no more in the House, who could have been included on the committee. Mr. Speaker, if we were to do this, we would have got a solid body on the ground that would have been responsible for the organization of Hajj, and that would have saved this country the embarrassment that we went through this year.

Mr. Speaker, I would suggest that we here appeal to the Government to set up a committee; one should not say that “I am a Christian, I am not involved”, we are Ghanaians and once they go out there, whatever happens we are Ghanaians and

it affects us. I think that we should ask the Government to see if they can set up a proper Hajj Committee headed by religious scholars who will be responsible and answerable for any faults that occur during the organization or the pilgrimage out there.

I am sorry, Mr. Speaker, that the nominee of the President for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is not in the House at the moment; I was going to assure him that I have heard a lot of things on air, on television, trying to indict the Consular-General in Jeddah for some of the problems that they have gone through there. I can say with experience that it was not the fault of the Consular- General and therefore they should spare him any queries or anything - I know that it was not his fault. If I were asked, I would have been able to explain to the Minister. The fault is not that of the Consular- General; the fault started from here.

Mr. Speaker, the Hajj Committee is supposed to make early payments of certain fees in Saudi Arabia; these include the fees for accommodation, the fees for transport, and fees for the allocation of landing right to the flight from Ghana. If these fees are paid early then we will have no problem at all at the Saudi end; because normally these fees were paid early.

A group of agents at the Hajj Committee were sent early in my days to Saudi Arabia and I personally assisted them to go round from Ministry to Ministry and sign agreements and acquire accommodation and full transport -- because sometimes the houses they rented were rejected after inspection; the transport that they acquired were rejected after inspection -- because I did not want the situation where Ghanaians would go half way between Mecca and Madina and get stranded. I intervened, rejected them and made sure that they always got fairly good buses and fairly good accommodation. If these were done in advance, we would not have gone through some of the unfortunate experiences we are
Mr. Speaker 12:05 p.m.
I will take the last contribution from the hon. Lady.
Mr. A. Osei-Adjei 12:05 p.m.
On a point of order. Mr. Speaker, I just want to beg your leave because it is an issue of foreign affairs which has to be explained. I am not a Moslem but I am also a Member of Parliament for Ejisu-Juabeng. I witnessed three people I sent to Saudi Arabia - [Interruption.]
Mr. Speaker 12:05 p.m.
And you want to contribute because of your position?
Mr. Osei-Adjei 12:05 p.m.
Yes, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker 12:05 p.m.
All right, let us hear you.
Dr. Benjamin Kunbuor 12:05 p.m.
On a point of order. Mr. Speaker, something seems to have passed through your blind side and I guess it might create difficulties for this House in terms of managing the proceedings. Why I say that is that hon. Boniface actually had resumed his seat when you handed over the floor to an hon. Member. He did rise up again to indicate after the implied ruling of Mr. Speaker that the floor had been handed over to another hon. Member; that he had not finished, and then Mr. Speaker asked him to take back the floor.
The guidance I want on this matter is this: When Mr. Speaker had handed over the floor to another Member, does it lie in the previous hon. Member to come back, based on our Standing Orders, to say he did not finish his contribution? Even if he did not finish, once Mr. Speaker, had handed over the floor to another hon. Member, his right to speak had been extinguished and he should not come back on it; otherwise it would be a dangerous precedent on which Members would always rise at any point and indicate, Mr. Speaker, that they had not finished their contributions.
Mr. Speaker 12:05 p.m.
All right. Who was on the floor? I think the Acting Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs. Can you be brief, please?
Mr. A. Osei-Adjei (NPP - Ejisu Juaben) 12:05 p.m.
Mr. Speaker, I would be very, very brief.
First of all, I think the hon. Member who made the Statement is quite right. It is about time that we critically looked at the
pilgrimage which is taking place and the pilgrims who are going to Mecca. This is because the objective of Foreign Affairs, as a Ministry, is to make sure that the image of Ghana does not sink to a certain level.
Also, we are responsible for every Ghanaian abroad. Therefore, people who to go Mecca, as soon as they leave Ghana, it becomes the responsibility of the Ghana Government, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to ensure that their lives are not in danger and also their welfare is adequately catered for.
Mr. Speaker, I had three people going to Mecca so I experienced the sort of conditions they were in at the El-Wak Stadium. To me, it is nothing to write home about, and I think it is about time - [Interruption] -- Because the cardinal objective of this Administration is to ensure that the private sector thrives. If it is going to be the easiest point, then it should be the private sector. I do not see the Government's business running the pilgrimage.
Mr. Speaker 12:05 p.m.
Hon. Member, are you raising a point or order?
Alhaji Abukari 12:05 p.m.
Yes, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I think that my very good Friend, the Acting Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs is misleading this House in a way that he does not appreciate. I think that we ought to know that the Saudi Government does not deal with private organizations; they deal with governments. But even if there are private Hajj organizations here, they must be certified by Government and guaranteed by Government before they can operate with the Saudi Government.
Mr. Speaker 12:05 p.m.
All right, you have made your point. Hon. Deputy Minister, kindly conclude.
Mr. Osei-Adjei 12:05 p.m.
Mr. Speaker, the hon. Member's point is well taken because I am not privy to the mechanisms of what the whole thing is about. But what I believe is that it is costing us so much money; and there is also the time factor for the embassy staff to be able to make sure that the Ghanaians are well catered for. So I think we should go back to the hon. Member's Statement and make sure that we put things right, so that the people would go in comfort, stay in Saudi Arabia in comfort, come back in comfort and serve their God in comfort.
Mr. Speaker 12:05 p.m.
Hon. Member, I will give you just a minute or two.
Hajia Alima Mahama (NPP - Nalerigu/Gambaga): Mr. Speaker, I performed the Hajj in 1998 and with every Hajj, there is some amount of hardship that one experiences. I remember I spent three nights at the Jeddah Airport. The hon. Member of Parliament for Tamale North, as he said earlier on, was the Ambassador to Saudi Arabia at that point in time. I spent three nights at the Jeddah Airport. On my way back, I spent another three nights. I take it that there are certain hardships that one has to experience. The fact that you embark on a pilgrimage or set out on a pilgrimage -
Alhaji Abukari 12:05 p.m.
On a point of order. Mr. Speaker, the hon. Member is misleading the House because the question raised by the hon. Member who made the Statement was that some people were stranded. I believe she did not spend three nights there because she was stranded for lack of
payment of certain dues. That was not the reason; I do not think so. So she should make that clear.
Hajia Mahama: Mr. Speaker, I spent three nights on my way there and I spent three nights on my way back. It certainly was not my bedroom but I took it in the name of pilgrimage, Allah. I went there for spiritual renewal and I took that in good faith. That is not to say where there is hardship and we can do something about it, nothing should be done about it.
Mr. Speaker, as the Member of Parliament for Tamale North has correctly stated, the Hajj Board and the Government's participation on it is not an issue that we can negotiate on. It is the requirement of the Saudi Government that the Government of Ghana, if indeed Government of Ghana is bringing people for the Hajj, should take responsibility for those people. So indeed, we have to have a Hajj Board and the Government of Ghana signs an agreement with the Government of Saudi Arabia to ensure that all those formalities are done.
On the issue of pr ivate sector participation, within the framework that we have, there are limitations where private sector participation is concerned, and within those limitations the statutes of Ghana do not bar anybody from participating within the rules that have been given by the Saudi Government. And indeed, the private sector has been participating. They participate as agents.
The Government of Ghana has nothing to do with who is going on Hajj and who is not going on Hajj. It is the agents who go out, identify their people, collect the moneys, come and go through all the visa and procedural requirements and get everything ready. The Hajj Board just comes on board at the last end to facilitate the pilgrimage. If indeed we have a
problem, the Moslem -
An hon. Member: Mr. Speaker, I am on a point of order. It is never, never true that the agents themselves go to make the visa arrangements. The Saudi Embassy in Accra does not recognize the agents making the visa arrangements. It is the Hajj Board. I have been a member and I know what goes on. It is the Hajj Committee that does all these and not the agents.
Hajia Mahama: Mr. Speaker, the agents, as far as the pilgrimage is concerned, collect all the moneys for visa regulations and indeed, these agents go with the Hajj Board to the Saudi Embassy, collect the passports and give them - I am talking from experience because I performed the Hajj in 1998. As far as private sector participation is concerned, we are a Government that will encourage private sector participation in every activity.
Mr. Haruna Iddrisu 12:15 p.m.
Mr. Speaker, I am on a point of order. The hon. Member for Nalerigu made a statement which is factually inaccurate, to the effect that Government has nothing to do with who goes or does not go on pilgrimage. I am aware, and it is on authority, that the pilgrims are divided into two; those who officially pay their money and those sponsored by Government, otherwise referred to as “protocol”. So I want to put it on record that Government has an interest.
Mr. Speaker 12:15 p.m.
All right, you have
made your point; let her continue. [Inter- ruptions.] Order! Hon. Member, you have another point to raise? Order! Hon. Member, please, let me hear him.
Maj. (Dr.) (Alhaji) Mustapha Ahmed (rtd.): Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of
order. Mr. Speaker, I was a deputy leader of Hajj Delegation in 1990 and the leader in 1992, and the Hajj agents all work as agents of the Hajj Committee. They are not to represent the people at the Saudi Embassy; they work for the Hajj Committee.
Hajia Mahama: Mr. Speaker, the point
that my hon. Colleagues from the opposite side are losing sight of is that I am making the point that there is limitation when we talk of the private sector.
Indeed, Mr. Speaker, one cannot say that the Government of Ghana has nothing to do with the pilgrims, because the Saudi Government goes into an agreement with the Government of Ghana for the whole package. So you cannot say the Government of Ghana has nothing to do with it.
But the point I am making here is this. Those who want to perform the pilgrimage pay their moneys to agents; so their relationship is with their agents, and they wait for instructions from their agents at any point in time.
However, I earlier on made a statement, that if there are any inconveniences or any hardships that we need to work on, we need to look at them as a Moslem community. What are the areas that we need to polish up? Where the private sector needs to participate in terms of the agents, we should be able to come together, get the right people with the right skills to operate as agents to support the cause of our pilgrims. It is a concern but as far as Ghana Government goes, Ghana Government cannot withdraw its responsibility; we have a responsibility towards pilgrims and we do that through the Hajj Board.
Mr. Speaker 12:15 p.m.
Thank you, very much.
Hon. Members, we are deferring the third Statement. Hon. Majority Leader, may we have directions now.

Mr. Speaker, the Committee accordingly submits its report as follows 12:15 p.m.
Arrangements of Business
Papers and Reports
Mr. Speaker, Papers may be laid during the week and Reports may also be presented to the House by Committees.
Statements and Motions
Mr. Speaker may allow duly authorized Statements to be made on the floor of the House. Debates on Motions and their consequential Resolutions, if any, may also be taken.
Mr. Speaker, hon. Members are aware that the Committee of Selection has started work on the composition of the various Committees of the House. Mr. Speaker,
as I said last week, it is envisaged that the Committee will expedite action on this assignment.
Mr. Speaker, it is expected that the Appointments Committee will also take advantage of the short break to complete its work and present its report for consideration by the House on 1st February 2005. Induction Seminar
Mr. Speaker, the induction seminar for hon. Members of Parliament has been scheduled to take place on Wednessday, 2nd February 2005, Friday, 4th February and Saturday, 5th February 2005. Details of the said seminar would be communicated to hon. Members.
Message on the State of the Nation
Mr. Speaker, H.E. the President of the Republic will deliver to Parliament a Message on the State of the Nation on Thursday, 3rd February 2005, in accordance with article 67 of the Constitution of the Republic of Ghana.
Mr. Speaker, in accordance with Standing Order 160 (2) and subject to Standing Order 53, the Committee submits to this honourable House the order in which the Business of the House shall be taken during the week.


Laying of Papers --

Repor t of the Appointments Committee on the President's nomina t ions fo r min i s t e r i a l appointments.

Report of the Committee of Selection on the Composition of Standing and

Select Committees.

Motions -

Adoption of the First Report of the Appoinments Committee on the President's nominations for ministerial appointments.

Adoption of the Report of the Committee of Selection on the Composition of Standing and Select Committees.

Committee Sittings

Induction Seminar for Members of Parliament - Day one.

Message on the State of the Nation by H.E. the President.

Induction Seminar for Members of Parliament - Day two.

Induction Seminar for Members of Parliament - Day three.

We hope that by the 1st of February, 2005 we would have been able to get the details because we are still reviewing that and perhaps if we do serious planning, we may be able to reduce the three days to two days. At the moment however, this is the plan. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker 12:15 p.m.
Thank you very much, hon. Majority Leader; your further direction.
Mr. Owusu-Adjapong 12:15 p.m.
Mr. Speaker,
we expect the Appointments Committee to meet. It was originally scheduled that they would be meeting at your Conference Room. But for a good reason, the Appointments Committee will meet in the Chamber here whilst the Leadership will also meet the Irish Delegation at your Conference Room.
Mr. Speaker, I therefore move that this House do adjourn till Tuesday, 1st February 2005 at 10 o'clock in the forenoon.
Deputy Minority Leader (Mr. E. K.
D. Adjaho): Mr. Speaker, I beg to second the motion.
Question put and motion agreed to.
ADJOURNMENT 12:15 p.m.