Debates of 10 May 2005

PRAYERS 10 a.m.


Mr. Speaker 10 a.m.
Order! Hon. Members, permit me to welcome you to the Second Meeting of the Fourth Parliament of the Fourth Republic. I know you must have enjoyed your holidays -- short break; and then I hope, if not, you are still organising yourselves for the task that lies ahead of us. You know this Meeting will end on the 29th July. I ask certainly for your cooperation and support for the completion of our task. We shall, as usual, as far as possible, Sit on time and I expect your cooperation. Thank you all very much.
MEMBER 10 a.m.

Mr. Speaker 10 a.m.
Hon. Members, the Electoral Commissioner has informed me that at the recent by-election held at
Asawase on Thursday, 21st April, 2005, Alhaji Muntaka Mohammed Mubarak was duly elected. [Hear! Hear!] Order, Order! It is therefore my honour and privilege to invite him to come forward and take the appropriate oath. [Hear! Hear!]
OATHS 10 a.m.

Minister for Parliamentary Affairs/ Leader of the House (Mr. F. K. Owusu- Adjapong) 10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, on behalf of my Colleagues of the Majority and on my own behalf, I wish to congratulate now hon. Alhaji Mubarak, Member of Parliament for Asawase. [Hear! Hear!] Mr. Speaker, I believe that the results indicate that our hon. Colleague did very hard work and he has been rewarded for it. Mr. Speaker, this means that as a country, we are beginning to appreciate more and more the power of the people.
Mr. Speaker, there is, however, an aspect I want all of us to look at before things overtake us. I am told -- and I believe it on the proper authority -- that none of the candidates was able to go anywhere near what the presidential
candidates secured in the last election. Perhaps the National Democratic Congress (NDC) did a bit better. This means that we need to find out whether we are heading towards voter apathy, and if so, what do we need to do to ensure that we get more and more of our people to take part in this major decision-making?
Mr. Speaker, our hon. Colleague has come at a time when not much has been done in this Parliament and therefore he should take very little time in catching up. I believe that the Leadership of the House and more importantly of the Minority will quickly take him through some of the rudiments that he needs to know so that he would be a very useful Member and contributor to things we do in this House. With these few comments, I congratulate the new Member. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. E. K. D. Adjaho (NDC ---
Avenor/Ave): Mr. Speaker, I also want to add my voice in congratulating the new Member for Asawase constituency. Mr. Speaker, some of us who I may describe as founding Members of this Fourth Republican Parliament feel very, very happy when we get new and young Members being elected to this House.
The hon. Member who has just been sworn in is thirty-four years old, and for some of us, it shows that when you have an institution and younger and younger generations of our people are entering that institution, it means that that institution can be sustained.
Mr. Speaker 10:10 a.m.
The hon. Member for Asawase constituency, on my own behalf, I congratulate you and welcome you to this august House. I wish you well.
Hon. Members, the next item is the correction of Votes and Proceedings and the Official Report - Friday, 18th March,

Mr. Speaker 10:10 a.m.
Page 1, 2, 3, … 23. Hon. Members, on page 23, number 45, the mid- portion of the first paragraph, it is recorded that this is said by the Speaker:
“He thanked hon. Members for their support and co-operation and hoped that future activities of hon. Members would further enhance democratic governance in the country.”
Mr. C. K. Humado 10:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, on page 23, number 45, the section that you have just corrected - The following sentence is also not clear. It reads -
“He hoped that future activities of the House would enhance rather dim the image of Parliament as an important institution of State.”
Mr. Speaker 10:10 a.m.
This was said.
Mr. Humado 10:10 a.m.
I believe it should be - [Interruption.]
Mr. Speaker 10:10 a.m.
It should be “rather than”. Yes, it is wrong grammatically. It would be done. Thank you for the correction.
The next item is Statement. There are two Statements but only one will be read because only one of the hon. Members is present. We will take that - and that stands in the name of the hon. Member for Gomoa West constituency.
STATEMENTS 10:10 a.m.

Mr. J. K. Hackman (NPP -- gomoa West) 10:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I wish to thank you for giving me the opportunity to make this Statement to the House.
Mr. Speaker, a few years ago, the United Nations launched a “Global Strategy for Shelter (GSS)” to achieve
the goal of adequate shelter for all by the year 2000. Five years after the expiry of the date in Ghana we don't seem to find our feet.
At the launch of GSS, it was predicted that cities in developing countries which already have slum populations will have to accommodate a further 750 million people by the turn of the century.
Population explosion is now with us in Ghana and since housing is an important indicator of quality of life, inadequate and insecure shelter wherever it exists, may lead to social and political instability, hampering physical and economic development.
There is no doubt that the emergency of squatter structures and poor housing environment generates crime and other social vices including the upsurge of epidemics, armed robbery as well as drug trafficking.
Mr. Speaker, in some countries in South America and Asia the increase in street children have been the direct result of children born in the street by migrant labourers escaping from poverty from rural areas. This phenomenon of rural- urban migration or the lack of planned migration contributes in no small measure to homelessness.
In some of the big South American cities, three to four generations of families live on the street and the United Nations has predicted that very soon, it will be luxury for children to wake up in a decent home and be blessed to see both parents at home if drastic steps are not taken immediately to accelerate the production of shelter to meet the needs of the poor, the vulnerable, and the disadvantaged. The Ghanaian society may not be spared this ordeal if steps are not immediately taken to stem the tide.
Mr. J. K. Hackman (NPP -- gomoa West) 10:20 a.m.

Not long ago, Parliament passed a Bill on long-term savings or development levy. Some of these monies can go into housing development. The hon. Member who made the Statement touched on taxes on building materials. Mr. Speaker, something drastic has to be done about this because if we are paying so much or buying building materials at a cut-throat cost, we cannot as a nation provide affordable houses for our people.

He talks of estate developers building houses without schools and facilities. I believe this is the Government's endeavour. Wherever estate developers move, the Government should go with them to provide schools, police stations and other amenities.

Mr. Speaker, the housing problem in this country is chaotic and we have to do something about it. The Government has to hold the bull by the horn, by providing money to help estate developers to build affordable houses.

Mr. Speaker, w i th these f ew contributions, I support the Statement on the floor. Thank you.
Mr. Mahama Ayariga (NDC - Bawku Central) 10:30 a.m.
Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, for the opportunity to comment on the Statement made by my hon. Colleague.
Mr. Speaker, several international documents have stated shelter as a fundamental human right. States have an obligation to put in place policies and measures that will ensure that their citizens are adequately housed. Mr. Speaker, no one needs to tell us that as a nation, we are failing in this direction.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to comment

on one issue that has bedevilled our housing industry which is affecting the conduct of public officials in their various offices. One is, we have a practice of charging excessive rents and this is compounded by having to pay a number of years' advance rent.

This is becoming a big problem especially in the cities where you have to pay three or four years' advance rent and you can imagine an ordinary civil servant who wants to get a humble place to lay his or her head having to pay two/ three and even in some cases four years' advance rent. Obviously, one cannot make it and so because of that there is a rush by most people to build their own houses no matter how they are going to earn the income to do so. This is driving people into corruption and all sorts of practices that do not augur well for the nation.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to urge the institutions that are responsible for the control of matters relating to rent and its payment, its rating, et cetera, to sit up and ensure that exploitative practices that deny people access to housing in this country are seriously checked.

On that note, Mr. Speaker, I wish to thank the hon. Member for that Statement.
Mr. E. K. Bandua (NDC - Biakoye) 10:30 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, thank you very much for this opportunity. I think that the need for sufficient houses in the country to house citizens is very important. But in our attempt to ensure that many people get houses in the country, several problems are coming up, including the springing up of slums. Slums are springing up in many areas because everybody is anxious to get a place to lay his head. Everybody is building anywhere at all. What the Government needs to do therefore is that the planning authorities in the country must ensure that everybody builds at the right place. Before this can happen, there
the place of habitation.
Housing and settlement studies notably physical planning, architecture and civil engineering should be included in the educational curricula of our universities.
Mr. Speaker, we must all join hands to ensure that affordable and decent shelter for all, particularly the poor, the vulnerable and the disadvantaged in our communities is achieved since our very existence as well as growth of our family system depends on it.
Mr. Speaker, I thank you most sincerely for the opportunity to make this Statement.
Mr. B. D. K. Adu (NPP - Okere) 10:30 a.m.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for the opportunity to contribute to the Statement on the floor.
Mr. Speaker, it is a known fact that as a nation, the people must be housed. The Statement is therefore in the right direction. How can we house our masses? We can do this by these three approaches.
Mr. Speaker, we have the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT), which has the large sums of money; I would say hoarding large sums of money. We can approach Social Security and National Insurance Trust to put in long-term savings for housing. The Social Security and National Insurance Trust can put monies in various banks to lend to estate developers on long-term funding basis. By so doing, Mr. Speaker, estate developers can build affordable houses, and many would be able to afford houses built by estate developers.
Mr. Speaker, also, the insurance companies have large sums of monies. The Government can approach the insurance companies to contribute to this.
Mr. Kojo Armah (CPP -- Evalua- gwira) 10:30 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I wish to thank the hon. Member for bringing this major social problem into focus in this House.
Mr. Speaker, housing is one of the
Mr. Kojo Armah (CPP -- Evalua- gwira) 10:40 a.m.

major problems facing this country. I say so, looking at the number of our people who every evening, from 6 o'clock, try to have a small corner for themselves on the streets in Nima and New Town, lying on the bare floor with the sky as their roof. Everyday, these numbers increase, and our question is, what do we do for these people? Now we are talking about shelter. If you put shelter or housing in the market place and allow market forces to determine the future of housing for this country, the poor would always lose out and this is where we ought to focus our attention.

The maker of the Statement talked about the street children in Brazil and other places. We have quite a number of them here. Mr. Speaker, I believe it is for this reason that the Government of the First Republic set up the Rural Housing Scheme supported the Building and Road Research Institute to go into the possibility of using our local materials to construct affordable houses in rural areas for our people.

Unfortunately, the Department of Rural Housing which still exists appears to have been somehow disabled from performing its function. The Department exists as part of the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development thus very little is known of their activities.

Again, the research Institutes into housing also exist; they do their work but very little support is given to them. I wish to urge the Government to come out with a clear housing policy directing and supporting these state institutions so that they can perform their functions and then bring housing to the affordable levels that we are talking about.

We have State Housing Company still in this country. I see their office. I see their

Housing Corporation when there was a change of Government. We started selling rental units to individuals and so we had problems with people who could not afford to buy those houses and so they had nowhere to live and that was the beginning of slums.

In Tema, TDC was building for workers. After the overthrow of Nkrumah, when the houses were sold to individuals, the workers who could not afford started developing the slums, wooden structures, filling in all the open spaces which would have been provided for schools, for recreation. So it is important that as a Government, we fashion out what we want to do and move in that direction.

Somewhere, at the beginning of the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC), National Democratic Congress (NDC) era, Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) was also charged with the responsibility of building rental units, so we have Adenta; we have several other units all over the country. Along the line, as conditionality for the International Monetary Fund (IMF), again these were to be sold so we started selling out these units and asked SSNIT to get out of the housing provision business and again those who suffer are the workers. That is why we have all these problems all over the place.

I just heard one of my hon. Colleagues touch on an aspect of dealing with development control, effective control of developing factors. Again, we are not serious about these things. Many of our towns do not have layouts. You need to have a layout and in the layout you make provisions for schools, for open spaces and for other social amenities, recreation grounds for instance.

The District Assemblies should be well-equipped. If you do not equip the District Assemblies, there is no way they

can control developers. Apart from that, they need to be supported. We know what is happening in the Accra decongestion programme now. The front men ought to be supported before they will be able to enforce the law.

So Mr. Speaker, what I am saying is that we need to take this seriously and if possible, refer this Statement to the Select Committee on Works and Housing; let them come out with a paper for us to find time to discuss so that the end result would be the contribution of this Parliament as far as provision of housing is concerned.

It will also be necessary for us to draw attention to our architects and building technologists. When you go to our villages, the old architectural pieces that our forefathers put in place are what we see. There have been no improvements whatsoever, yet we have professors of building technology, we have architects who are professors; nothing has happened. So I think that we have to put that into their domain. They must come out, fashion something out for us to improve upon the buildings that we have in our villages so that the villages would also look very beautiful.

With these few words, Mr. Speaker, I thank you.
Mr. A. K. Obbin (NPP - Prestea/ Huni valley) 10:40 a.m.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for giving me the opportunity to contribute to the Statement on the floor.
Mr. Speaker, housing is one of the ambitions of every worker in Ghana. At least, every worker in Ghana would like to own a House during his lifetime. But Mr. Speaker, the cost of building or the cost of housing in the country is very, very high. The cost may be as a result of the conventional way of building, the imported building materials and the acquisition of the land here in the country,
signboards but I cannot see the work it is doing now; whether it is still in existence, whether it has been divested, whether it has been abandoned, we do not know. But what we know is that over the years it is the State Housing Company that led in the house-building and created the stock of houses in this country.
Do we have to go back and look at their mandate, redefine it and then give them the necessary support so that they can contribute to the delivery of the housing stock in this country? In His Excellency the President's State of the Nation Address, he also talked about some joint venture with a Malaysian company for us to increase our stock. I believe that the programme is on and it should not be left to stay in the bush.
Mr. Speaker, with this little comment, I wish to thank the maker of the Statement for bringing it out and then refocusing national attention onto our housing problems.
Mr. E. T. Mensah (NDC - Ningo/ Prampram) 10:40 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to contribute to the Statement on floor and wish to say that as a people we have not been consistent at all about our housing policy. Let us go back to the First Republic where the then Government felt that there was the need to do something about housing, and the State Housing Corporation was set up and the Tema Development Corporation (TDC) was also set up and they built houses; they built rental units; that was their focus. But when you talk about affordable houses, there is no country where all the people in the country own houses.
Our understanding of affordable houses where Ghana Real Estates Developers Association (GREDA) is building and selling is not the best. This takes its root from the way we messed up the State
Mr. E. T. Mensah (NDC - Ningo/ Prampram) 10:40 a.m.

especially in cities like Accra.

Mr. Speaker, this bit has been very, very expensive in the country and an average worker finds it very difficult to own a house during his lifetime. In the period when you retire and say you are using your retirement benefits also to acquire the house, then it means you are finished. Mr. Speaker, something must be done for workers to own houses, at least, before they retire.

Mr. Speaker, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has come out with materials and methods of building which can reduce the cost of building by about 30 per cent, using the conventional method of building. What I would suggest is that the estate developers should try as much as possible to collaborate with the scientists at CSIR so that they will also learn to upgrade the method of building thereby reducing the cost of building to the advantage of the average worker or whoever also wants to acquire the building.

I also suggest that the Ministry of Works and Housing should collaborate with CSIR so that they can also acquire the skills of reducing the cost of building so that they can build more houses for workers. Workers must be able to acquire houses through the efforts of the Ministry of Works and Housing as it was done in the Second Republic. I think in the Second Republic, there was a well-planned agenda to get all the workers in Ghana housed. Unfortunately, our Government could not achieve its objective as a result of the short term. I believe our Government should try as much as possible through the Ministry of Works and Housing, collaborate with the CSIR so that they can provide affordable housing for our people.

CSIR must also be resourced. In fact, they have a lot of scientists over there who can come out with innovations

for reducing the cost of building in the country.

With these few words, I thank Mr. Speaker for giving me the opportunity.
PAPERS 10:40 a.m.

-- 10:40 a.m.

Mr. Speaker 10:40 a.m.
Majority Leader, at this stage, are there any indications?
Mr. Owusu-Adjapong 10:40 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I believe we have started on a very good note and there are some committee arrangements that need to be done in the light of the appointments of some Committee Chairpersons as Ministers and Deputy Ministers. Since we are planning to have a Committee on Selection meeting tomorrow, I move that this House do adjourn till tomorrow 10.00 o'clock in the morning.
Mr. Adjaho 10:40 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I rise to second the motion that this House do now adjourn, especially because after the swearing-in, we have to take the Member to greet certain leading members of our party, so I second the motion.
ADJOURNMENT 10:40 a.m.