Debates of 1 Jun 2005

PRAYERS 10:05 a.m.


Mr. Speaker 10:05 a.m.
Order! Order! I have a communication from the President of the Republic of Ghana which reads as follows:
31, 2005
Absence from Ghana
In accordance with Article 59 of the
Constitution, I John Agyekum Kufuor, President of the Republic of Ghana wish to notify you and Parliament that I shall be travelling to Burkina Faso, Ouaga-dougou, to attend a One Day Summit of SENCAD. The summit is scheduled to take place on the 1st of June 2005.
I shal l depart f rom Ghana on Wednesday, the 1st of June 2005 and return the same day.
Pursuant to Article 60(8) of the Constitution, the Vice President shall act in my absence.




STATE HOUSE 10:05 a.m.

Mr. Speaker 10:05 a.m.
Hon. Members, it is my honour and privilege to welcome to this august House a high-powered delegation of twelve (12) from the People's Republic of China - [Hear! Hear!] The delegation is in Ghana at the invitation of Parliament. The delegation is headed by -
H.E. MR. WANG ZHONGYU Executive Vice Chairman,
C P P C C 10:05 a.m.




Mr. Speaker 10:15 a.m.
We have the Official Report for Tuesday, 31st May, 2005. if Members have any corrections, any omissions, they may communicate them to the Clerks' Table.
Item 3 is an Urgent Question standing in the name of hon. Dr. Kwame Ampofo, Member for South Dayi.


Minister for Energy (Prof. Mike Aaron Oquaye) 10:15 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, following a number of complaints received from the technical and other staff of the Commission as well as some members of the public and other reports that came to the notice of the appropriate authority, I had a meeting on Friday, 15th April 2005, with the Executive Secretary and staff of the Commission, together with my Chief Director, and Public Relations Officer.
Mr. Speaker, we heard the relevant persons. We had one hour meeting with the Executive Secretary alone, followed
by another two-hour meeting with the senior staff. After that the junior staff were also called in. I heard a whole array of complaints, which were noted down.
Mr. Speaker, I directed that all relevant parties should deliver in my office at a certain date, in writing, all that they had stated. These included the Executive Secretary, the senior officers and others. There was a whole compendium that was delivered as a result of this, and these were duly studied together with other reports that had been received.
Mr. Speaker, I would not want to go into certain allegations in a number that might imply that the Ministry is being accusatory. Mr. Speaker, relevant authorities regarded the allegations of abuse of office and so on as serious enough to require further investigation.
Mr. Speaker, the Auditor-General's Office is in the process of compiling and submitting a full report on the investigations conducted into some of these matters, whereafter a committee would look together at the report of the Auditor-General and whatever responses may be made by the affected persons; and this would be placed before a small body that would make recommendations as to what final action may be taken.
Meanwhile, it was deemed appropriate that in the light of matters arising, the Executive Secretary and the Chairman should step aside momentarily so that whatever work that is being done by the relevant investigators would not be prejudiced in any manner whatsoever.
Mr. Speaker, this is not an assumption of guilt; it is just to allow the due process to go on and at the appropriate time, if a person in such situation is found not liable, definitely he or she may come to continue his work. But if any malfeasance
Dr. Ampofo 10:25 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I further wish to know from the hon. Minister why the Government is unwilling to dissolve and reconstitute the entire Board of the Energy Commission.
Prof. Oquaye 10:25 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the question is why Government is unwilling to reconstitute or dissolve the entire Board. Mr. Speaker, this would be unduely precipitate and might constitute indecent haste. When the process that I have just spoken of has been given its fair run, whether or not any other person would be removed or the Board would be constituted, such action that is necessary therefrom would be dealt with accor- dingly.
Dr. Ampofo 10:25 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I further wish to know from the hon. Minister how Mr. Kofi Asante's known stance against the Government's policy proposals such as the National Petroleum Bill and others has contributed to this measure taken so far.
Prof. Oquaye 10:25 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the assertion made by my hon. Friend on the other side is purely speculative. I would only say that the Government has acted on the basis of the facts herein stated.
Dr. Ampofo 10:25 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, finally I wish to know from the hon. Minister, to what extent the Energy Fund, which benefits from the government levies on petroleum products that has also contributed to the hike in the price of petroleum products is being misapplied by the Commission for maybe personal gains.
Mr. Speaker 10:25 a.m.
Hon. Member for South Dayi, I am looking at your own question
and I do not know whether the hon. Minister would want to deal with it.
Prof. Oquaye 10:25 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, definitely
I do not see the nexus between the Question and this subsequent probing.
Mr. Speaker 10:25 a.m.
Hon. Member for South Dayi, you may have another bite.
Dr. Ampofo 10:25 a.m.
Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, it is still on the same question. There is a link between what I read from the newspapers and from his answers that there are certain abuses of office, but we know that some of them are supposed to be vehicles that have been bought using money from the Energy Fund. This is the basis for my question.
Prof. Oquaye 10:25 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, we will need notice of this kind of question, if my Friend on the other side wants all those details about the Energy Fund.
Mr. Michael Teye Nyaunu 10:25 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, may I know from the hon. Minister what the complaints are that warranted the investigations.
Prof. Oquaye 10:25 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I have stated matters with regard to my administration and, Mr. Speaker, I would wish that as the investigations are being conducted, the Minister would not be seen as being accusatory in any manner but that the due process is taken and the matters therefrom, as to the details thereon, would be put into the public domain.
Mr. Raymond A. Tawiah 10:25 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the last answer given by the hon. Minister is not very clear. The question is: what are the specific complaints that warranted the investigation? We want to know exactly what happened.
Prof. Oquaye 10:25 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, in view of the fact that this is a subject-matter for enquiry -- [Interruptions.]
Mr. Speaker 10:25 a.m.
Order! Order!
Prof. Oquaye 10:25 a.m.
And Mr. Speaker, in order that by the following morning it would not be reported that the Minister is accusing the official -- [Interruptions] -- Mr. Speaker, I will respectfully insist that the relevant investigations are conducted and that the hon. Minister may not be seen as being accusatory.
Ms. Akua Sena Dansua 10:25 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to know from the hon. Minister where the three new vehicles mentioned in relation to this case are -- the one for the Chairman, the one for the Executive Secretary and the one for his Secretary. Where are they now?
Prof. Oquaye 10:25 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, if my hon. Friend on the other side wants details about the location of vehicles, I will respectfully ask for notice in that connection.
Ms. Dansua 10:25 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I believe he does not need notice to answer this question; he should be abreast with developments at the place -- [Interruptions.] He should be able to tell us where the vehicles are.
Mr. Speaker 10:25 a.m.
Order! Order! Deputy Chief Whip, if you look at the Question, the Question asked what events led to this -- If you think that you need one specific question in relation to the vehicles, I would think that you take the appropriate course.
Ms. Dansua 10:25 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, it is clear that the three vehicles are directly related or involved in this matter. The purchase of the vehicles is one subject-matter related to events at the Energy Commission. So the Minister should be in a position to tell us where exactly the vehicles are or what they are doing with the vehicles since they were the basis for the directive for
the Chairman and the Executive Secretary to step aside.
Mr. Speaker 10:25 a.m.
Thank you very much. I have given my ruling on this matter.
Mr. Stephen A. Kwao 10:25 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, may I know from the hon. Minister what happens to the salaries of the accused people since they have been asked to step aside. Will they be paid?
Prof. Oquaye 10:25 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, in the interim, an official who is asked to step aside so that work is done -- something is looked into without favour -- is paid his salary. In the course of the investigations, if substantive evidence is found to warrant further action to be taken, this may be reviewed so that salary is withdrawn. This is the government policy process.
Mr. Edward K. Salia 10:25 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, my hon. Colleague opposite, the hon. Minister for Energy, eloquently described the process leading to the interdiction or the stepping aside. Mr. Speaker, what we are interested in is the specific reasons or the information that was provided to him which led to the decision. Mr. Speaker, can he kindly tell us those specific allegations that warranted his taking the decision to stand them aside?
Prof. Oquaye 10:25 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the allegations related to abuse of power. This is what is being essentially investigated.
Nii Amasah Namoale: Mr. Speaker, I want the hon. Minister to tell us what the terms of reference of the investigations are.
Prof. Oquaye 10:35 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the terms of reference will be fully drawn when the Auditor-General's Report or his interim report has been received. And they will relate to matters of alleged misuse of authority, procurement, corporate
governance and allied issues.
Mr. John D. Mahama 10:35 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the hon. Minister for Energy whether it is true, as Mr. Kofi Asante said, that he was being victimized because of critical comments he made about the West African Gas Pipeline Project -- [Uproar.]
Mr. Speaker 10:35 a.m.
Order! Order! Hon. Member for Bole, I wonder whether you just appeared.
Mr. Mahama 10:35 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, my information is that the hon. Minister did not answer that question.
Mr. Speaker 10:35 a.m.
Hon. Minister, you may deal with that. If you answered, you may say so - [Uproar.] Order! Order!
Mr. Felix Owusu-Adjapong 10:35 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, without undermining your request, I believe that we must make progress by not encouraging questions that have been answered to be re-answered. I believe my hon. Colleague who is seriously doing his campaign for other matters may be busy -- so let him continue doing that while we spend the time listening. I think that if we do this, next time, somebody will use that as a precedent and then begin to ask questions again, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker 10:35 a.m.
Hon. Minister, a question has been asked and if he has already answered it, he should say so.
Prof. Ocquaye 10:35 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the question has been duly answered.
Alhaji Sumani Abukari 10:35 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I am not satisfied with his answer because
Mr. Speaker 10:35 a.m.
Hon. Member, you may ask a supplementary question.
Alhaji Abukari 10:35 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I would want to know from the hon. Minister what he meant by ‘abuse of power'. Could he explain it to the House? This is because he said one of the allegations against them was abuse of power. What did he mean by “abuse of power”?
Prof. Oquaye 10:35 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, “abuse of power” is misuse, misapplication, undermining, misdirection, whatever -- [Uproar.]
Mr. Speaker 10:35 a.m.
Hon. Members, let me draw your attention to the Standing Orders on this. No argument or opinion is to be offered. So please, let us take this into account.
Prof. Al-Hassan W. Seini 10:35 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I am a little bit confused here, because the hon. Minister told us that an investigation was already in progress. But when they asked for the terms of reference, he said the terms of reference would be given after the Auditor General had acted. So I am confused here. So what is the Auditor-General investigating and what are his terms of reference, if a commission is not already operating?
Prof. Oquaye 10:35 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, there is an audit enquiry to be followed by a full enquiry.
Mr. Speaker, the work of the Auditor- General's Department, going into accounts and details, would be presented then to probably a three-man or five-man committee. That committee will look at the totality and also hear the appropriate parties, going by the audi alteram partem
rule, and then make recommendations for further action.
Mr. A. S. K Bagbin 10:35 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I would want the hon. Minister to tell us what conduct, act or omission is alleged to amount to abuse of power.
Prof. Oquaye 10:35 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the details of this are the very subject-matter of the enquiry that I earlier spoke of.
Mr. Bagbin 10:35 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, he has not answered the question. I said, “alleged”. I am not talking about the details. He said it was alleged to amount to abuse of power. I would want to know that conduct or act or omission that was alleged to amount to that abuse of power. That is all. I am not talking about the details. What is it that was alleged to amount to that?
Mr. Speaker 10:35 a.m.
Hon. Minority Leader, in your absence, this question came up for some time -- [Uproar.] Hon. Members, I am presiding.
Mr. Speaker 10:35 a.m.
Hon. Member, do you want to ask a supplementary question?
Mr. Kamel 10:35 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I would want to know from the hon. Minister what time he expects the Office of the Auditor- General to finish their investigations.
Prof. Oquaye 10:35 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, as early as possible.
Mr. Albert Abongo 10:35 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, if one looks at the areas listed for investigations, they are maladministration, procurement matters, corporate governance, allied issues and abuse of power. Those are the areas the hon. Minister listed. And he is saying that he is waiting for an audit report before he sets a committee to investigate. Will it not be proper for Ghanaians to see that some action is being done? In that

case, that committee would be working alongside the auditors. I would want to know from the hon. Minister if it will not be proper that that is done.
Mr. Speaker 10:35 a.m.
Hon. Member, do you have a point of order?
Mr. Asiamah 10:35 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, a point of correction.
Mr. Speaker 10:35 a.m.
Mr. Asiamah 10:35 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, did I hear the hon. Member say, “mallam administration” or “maladministration”? --[Laughter.]
Mr. Speaker 10:35 a.m.
Hon. Minister, deal with this question, which was asked.
Prof. Oquaye 10:35 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the audit report will serve as a base for further enquiry and that is why one should follow the other. The audit report is a technical matter.
Mr. Speaker 10:35 a.m.
Hon. Minister, thank you very much for coming; and you are hereby discharged for the time being.
STATEMENTS 10:45 a.m.

Mr. M. A. Awuni (NDC -- Binduri) 10:45 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, thank you for the opportunity given me to make this Statement.
Mr. Speaker, there is an outbreak of anthrax in Kaadi, a farming community in the Binduri constituency in the Bawku Municipal Assembly. The outbreak started
Mr. Lee Ocran (NDC -- Jomoro) 10:45 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, anthrax is one of the zoonitic diseases. Zoonitic diseases are diseases
that can attack both man and animal. In some developed countries, the potency of anthrax has so much been realized that it is produced in laboratories for biological warfare. In our part of the world, anthrax is contracted by eating contaminated meat.
In the past, not too long ago, the Veterinary Services Department used to vaccinate animals against anthrax, free of charge, especially in the endemic areas. Unfortunately, in our pursuit of cost- recovery, we are no more doing that; we are asking the farmers to pay between ¢3,000 and ¢5,000, which they cannot afford. The vaccine is produced here at Pong Tamale, but because the farmers cannot pay, animals, especially ruminants, are being attacked by anthrax. If a human being eats carcass infected by anthrax, definitely he will die. So we are economizing on ¢5,000 to let people die; so far, 15 lives have been lost.
I wish to call on the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, especially the Animal Health Department, to move into the endemic areas and try to vaccinate the animals, free of charge, as a matter of urgency. I also want to ask the Ministry to embark on a programme to advise people not to eat dead animals, for that is the only way to prevent anthrax from affecting people.
Mr. A. K. Agbesi (NDC --Ashaiman) 10:45 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of the Statement on the floor. Mr. Speaker, my worry is that if this thing is not checked in time, it will spread to other parts of the country.
Mr. Speaker, my constituency has a very large cattle market. Cows are transported from all parts of the country for sale at Ashaiman. Mr. Speaker, if it is not checked and if the officers in charge
Prof. A. W. Seini (NDC -- Tamale Central) 10:45 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, we are talking about a very serious matter, because anthrax, as a disease, kills even much faster than HIV/AIDS. In the past, it could wipe out a whole village where it occurred. That is why originally, the colonial Government vaccinated the animals free of charge; and even after independence, successive governments continued to vaccinate animals free of charge.
Therefore, Mr. Speaker, for a killer disease like this, there is no need for us to waste time wherever it occurs. I am surprised; surprised in the sense that this disease is reoccurring in some parts of the country. Of course, not too long ago, Ghana was almost free from anthrax.
The bacteria that causes this is so virulent that it can kill within a very short time. So Mr. Speaker, there is no need for us to demand that farmers or cattle owners should pay before their animals are vaccinated. I do not think it will be out of place for us to continue to socialize, because of vaccination of these animals. It is for our own good. Whatever we can do to prevent anthrax from spreading from just one small corner of this country to the rest of the country has to be done, and done very fast.
I am surprised that this case has been reported for some time now and no action has been taken either by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture or even the Ministry of Health to ensure that these animals are vaccinated. Let us not forget that in the past these vaccines were imported at high cost. Fortunately, Mr. Speaker, they are now being produced locally at Pong Tamale Veterinary Centre.
Mr. Speaker, I think Parliament should take action to ensure that quick action
is taken to prevent this disease from spreading from one small corner to the rest of the country. Today, it might be just Binduri; tomorrow it might be Savelugu; and the next day, it might be Ashaiman where we get our meat supply from. So Mr. Speaker, quick action is required to tackle this problem.
Majority Leader (Mr. F. K. Owusu- Adjapong) 10:45 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, listening to the Statement and the comments, it is really necessary that we get a solution to the problem, if in fact it is true. Unfortunately, the person or persons who should be in a better position to give us answers, the Minister or his deputies are not available. Therefore, I would want to suggest that we make this information available to the Minister, hoping that he will look at it and find a solution.
But this brings me, more importantly, to some of the methods we use in doing business here. For such a Statement, in my opinion, we should have informed the Minister so that he would be available; and then after it has been made he would provide an immediate answer, rather than a situation where the Statement is made only for it to be -- [Interruption] -- So I think we should improve the level or our transparency in such matters and hope that in future when we make these Statements, it will not only amount to a talking shop but would get some immediate responses from those who are responsible.
Mr. A. S. K. Bagbin (NDC -- Nadowli West) 10:55 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, it is true that this Statement is on a very serious matter and that this House should at least take some action on the Statement and not just comment on it and let it go.
Mr. Speaker, the Statement was processed and approved by your good- self; in fact, it should have been made on
Mr. Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 10:55 a.m.
On a point of order. Mr. Speaker, the hon. Minority Leader is making a categorical assertion that the Ministers have decided to “boycott” -- Mr. Speaker, it is a very strong language that he is using and I do not think that is the case. That fact that they are not here does not mean that they have decided to boycott Parliament; it does not mean that. Is he suggesting in anyway that hon. Members who are not here with us have decided to boycott Parliament? That is not true; that is a rather contorted view of the situation.
So Mr. Speaker, I believe the hon. Minority Leader, without any shred of evidence to that effect, may accordingly advise himself; that is unacceptable.
Mr. Speaker 10:55 a.m.
Hon. Minority Leader, let us hear you on that.
Mr. Bagbin 10:55 a.m.
In fact, Mr. Speaker, I thought he was going to tell us what they decided to do. If, in fact, they decided not to boycott Parliament, what did they decide to do, so that what I stated would
be seen as untrue? Mr. Speaker, the fact of the matter is that they are not here -- [Laughter] -- And because they are not here, my hon. Colleague is saying that this Statement should have been made in their presence and that they should have been informed to be available to listen to the Statement so that they can, maybe, provide some answers.
Mr. Speaker, I am saying that they are Members of Parliament and it is not the duty of your Office or any hon. Member here to be informing hon. Colleagues to come to Parliament because he is going to make a Statement that day; they are duty-bound to be here. [Hear! Hear!] It is not me saying it; it is the Constitution. [Some hon. Members: Yes.] Mr. Speaker, anthrax -- [Interruption.]
Mr. Speaker 10:55 a.m.
Hon. Minority Leader, I think the only objection is that you are saying that they have “boycotted”. “They have not been able to be here”, that is a much better way of maybe putting it.
Mr. Bagbin 10:55 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the number involved -- four -- and the decision not to be available, all the four, in the same Ministry at the same time is what is being -- [Laughter.]
Mr. Speaker 10:55 a.m.
Hon. Minority Leader, I think it is the choice of the word. They have not been able to be here, not that they have “boycotted”. [Laughter.]
Mr. Bagbin 10:55 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I think that a final word may be acceptable to the House; and the final word is that they have failed to be present in Parliament. [Laughter.]
Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 10:55 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, this juggling with words, I believe we should be a little bit careful. Mr. Speaker, inability to be in attendance does no necessarily imply failure. [Laughter.] Mr. Speaker, I believe my hon. Colleague should know that. He talked about the fact
that all four of them are duty-bound to be in the House.
Mr. Speaker, we do know that not all of them are Members of Parliament; two of them are not Members of Parliament. This does not in any way suggest that they cannot be in Parliament anyway, but to say that they are Members of Parliament and they are duty-bound to be here is incorrect. In any event, Mr. Speaker, I am still waiting for him; the “failure” is no better word.
Mr. Speaker 10:55 a.m.
Hon. Minority Leader, are you on your feet?
Mr. Bagbin 10:55 a.m.
That is so; I have not finished. Mr. Speaker, in fact, the spread of the disease, anthrax is gaining some currency in our area and the fact that -- [Interruption.]
Mr. Speaker 10:55 a.m.

But Mr. Speaker, it is an ordinary Statement made by an hon. Member on the floor of the House. Mr. Speaker, how can any of the Ministers divine and know that, “I should come to Parliament today because, for instance, the Member of Parliament for North Dayi would

be making a Statement concerning my Ministry or for that matter the Member of Parliament for Binduri would be making a Statement on anthrax concerning my Ministry, or for that matter, Mr. Speaker, the Member of Parliament for anywhere, two hundred and thirty constituencies, would be making a Statement about my Ministry”?
Mr. Speaker 10:55 a.m.
Hon. Deputy Minister, this is not a point of order.
Mr. Bagbin 11:05 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, in fact, he just solidly supported my position. I agree with him that it is not a Question and therefore they are not obliged to be informed to be available. This is an issue that was raised by my hon. Colleague, the Majority Leader and I just took the same line that, as a Member of Parliament, he is duty-bound to be here; but we are not duty-bound to inform him about making Statements on the floor. So he just supported my point.
But Mr. Speaker, I was saying that, yes, anthrax is spreading and, in fact, in our area too, in the Upper West Region, we have seen some signs of anthrax infestation. But Mr. Speaker, I think that as a country, we need to look at our policy on animal husbandry and livestock production because the Department of Veterinary seems to have been starved and in fact relegated to the doldrums, to the extent that all the veterinary doctors are leaving the Department to other departments in the Ministry of Food and Agriculture.
Mr. Speaker, people are talking about the production of the vaccine in Pong- Tamale. You would be surprised to learn that the officers, research assistants who were at Pong-Tamale, producing the vaccines, have left and also gone to other departments.
I am aware of a national service officer in that department who has accepted to be a district agricultural officer at a newly- created district, because that is where he can get resources to do some work. Sitting at Pong-Tamale, he is just receiving salary and not being motivated to do anything. We need to look at the department itself -- the Veterinary Services Department. We need to support them because we cannot have livestock production without a Veterinary Department.

Mr. Speaker, I would prefer that we empower our Committee on Food and Agriculture to take up this matter, invite the Minister and the heads of department to at least present before the Committee a report on the situation on the ground. Based on that report, the House could take a position and maybe advise the Ministry as to what to do. We could also be better informed so that during the budget cycle we may, in our own small way, try to assist the relevant departments to be able to contain such future outbreaks of anthrax.

So I would urge that we mandate our Committee on Food and Agriculture to take up the matter with the Ministry.

It is with this that I congratulate the maker of the Statement and hope that more of such Statements would come for our views next time.
Mr. Speaker 11:05 a.m.
I think we have exhausted this matter for some time. There is another Statement to be made by

the hon. Member for Ofoase/Ayirebi (Mr. David Oppong-Kusi).

Plastic Waste Menace
Mr. David Oppong-Kusi (NPP -- Ofoase/Ayirebi) 11:05 a.m.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for this opportunity to bring to the floor of this House an issue that touches on our current well-being as well as our future survival.
Mr. Speaker, there is a serious debate going on in this country about the problems created by plastic waste. Most of us would have observed with some amount of interest the attempts and counter-attempts by various interest groups to shift blame and responsibilities, by skirting round the real issues whilst ensuring that their own commercial interests are left intact at the expense of the overriding national interest. Whilst we are at it, the long ranging effects of this looming disaster stare us in the face and point accusing fingers in our direction. In the style of a famous poet, one can only bemoan “Plastics, plastics, plastics everywhere, and not a clean place to find”.
The problem of plastic waste, Mr. Speaker, is not due to any natural phenomenon or an act of God. It is an artificial monster created by our own chosen lifestyles. Plastics are very useful materials in industry, commerce, agriculture, medicine and in several areas of our lives. But like fire, it is a good servant which can prove to be a bad master. We have opted to use plastics in a way that provides the direct consequences for our environment.
As we look on the environmental disaster created by plastic waste in our major cities, the “plastic virus” is fast spreading into the countryside. And it is doing so with the speed and destructive
power of a wild fire, because we are exporting our destructive lifestyles to our rural area which is our last bastion of environmental civility.
Mr. Speaker, as the elected represen- tatives of the people, do we look helplessly on as our environment, our fertile lands, our rivers, streams and ponds, in fact, our very livelihoods are engulfed by plastic waste?
Mr. Speaker, we must and ought to have a response. The time has come for a proactive move from Parliament, strongly put forward in a way that will send clear and unambiguous signals to all stakeholders and also to strengthen the hands of those entrusted with finding a lasting solution to the problem.
It is my conviction that all the feeble and cosmetic attempts have no power to stop the forward march of this “plastic virus”. No, not the incentives for recycling nor contributions and special levies from manufacturers of plastic bags and producers of sachet water, and certainly no admonitions to producers to use bio- degradable alternatives will solve the problem.
Mr. Speaker, whilst plastics are used all over the world for various purposes, their use can and must be regulated in a way that matches our own ability to deal effectively with the resulting waste. It is estimated that the vast majority of the waste from plastics in this country comes from their use as temporary containers for consumables, the bulk of which is water. We surely must satisfy our thirst, but not at the expense of the environment. Our very sources of water are threatened by the way and manner we package and use that water.
We certainly need to carry our shopping and wrap our food in a hygienic manner, but it does not have to be with plastic bags and wrappers. Mr. Speaker, as a people we
Mr. David Oppong-Kusi (NPP -- Ofoase/Ayirebi) 11:15 a.m.
still do not have the capacity yet to deal with this growing menace. Our present levels of technology, environmental awareness, education and cultural practices cannot deal with the consequences of our new-founded taste for plastic wrappers. The time has come for us to collectively reconsider how we satisfy our thirst and how we package our consumables without damaging our environment.
I do know, Mr. Speaker, that some of our neighbours in the subregion do not have sachet water industries but interestingly their people do not go thirsty and their environment is the better off for it. This compulsive and recently acquired lifestyle of ours of wanting to satisfy our thirst, real or imagined, anywhere and at anytime must change. There are other options for satisfying this important need which can be explored and commercially exploited.
Mr. Speaker, if we feel reluctant to give up the petty convenience of being able to buy, drink water and dispose of the container anywhere, anytime, in vehicles, along the streets, at social gatherings and wherever, then we must be told the truth: That this habit is destroying our current and future sources of water. It is destroying the fertility of our soil and devaluing our immediate environment. The choked drains encourage the breeding of mosquitoes and facilitate flooding. We wait with bated breath the coming of the rains. Our fishermen these days sometimes drag ashore plastic waste instead of fish. We are selfishly mortgaging the survival of future generations for the convenience of the current generation.
Mr. Speaker, in the Friday, April 8, 2005 edition of the Daily Graphic, on page 40 is a story which makes interesting reading. The story titled “Moves to rid
country of plastic waste” captures the narrow way in which we see the problem and our seeming helplessness to deal with it. In a speech read on her behalf, the sector Minister had listed three options to deal with the problem, but these were not given the needed prominence and have not received any serious commentary.
My suspicion is that the options are not palatable to those who stand to gain from our inaction. The Minister's comments need to be highlighted and further debated. With your permission, Mr. Speaker, I quote the relevant portion of the story:
“The options that the Ministry is considering include a law to make manufacturers of all plastic products to provide only bio-degradable products, taxes to raise money for the management of plastic waste and a ban on plastic sachet for water and plastic bags.”
Elsewhere in the story, prominence is given to cash awards of ¢500,000 to winners of a drawing competition on waste management. As a people, we seem to enjoy going round grave problems by turning them into funfares; but this is a grave matter. The Accra Metropolitan Assembly is quoted in that story as spending ¢2.35 billion every month on waste disposal; and this is only for Accra. Meanwhile, the drains around the city continue to be choked by plastic wastes and the malaria-carrying mosquito is still having a field day. Even then the debate seems to have relegated our countryside to the backyard.
Mr. Speaker, people do not normally change because they see the light; they only do so when they feel the heat. No amount of advice or admonition can get producers and users of plastic containers to switch to bio-degradable alternatives, as long as the cost implications do not favour them.

Mr. Speaker, I take this opportunity to call on Parliament to speak with one voice and support a programmed nationwide ban on the following uses of plastics, to be enforced, within a timeframe not exceeding two years:-

Sachet water

Carrier bags

Packaging of cooked foods from vendors

Other mass usage like ice creams, powdered foods, soaps, et cetera.

The time-span will allow the forward- looking industrialist to adopt more environmentally friendly packaging. Most of the small-scale sachet water producers can reinvest their capital in other areas of the economy with appropriate support from the Ministry of Private Sector Development and President's Special Initiatives. The exit barriers for sachet water producers are low and with a little support they will not lose their livelihoods.

Before I conclude, I must draw attention to the looming litigations that are bound to follow from efforts by the Accra Metropolitan Authority to ban the production and sale of sachet water. The issue of plastic waste is a national one which requires a broad and compre-hensive approach. What is required is a national policy which will empower individual Assemblies to enforce regulations emanating from the ban. Parliament must take a stand.

Mr. Speaker, after reviewing the larger picture and taking the long-term view, I submit that it is best for our environment
Mr. B. D. K. Adu (NPP -- Okere) 11:15 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to contribute to the Statement on the floor.
Mr. Speaker, it seems, it is only Ghana,
which produces plastic materials. It is unfortunate, Mr. Speaker. Why would one think of it that way? Immediately one steps on the shores or the ports of Ghana, one will see plastics all over, as said by the maker of the Statement.
Mr. Speaker, how do we get rid of all the plastic waste? My suggestion is that instead of plastic sachets -- these manufacturers of water in plastic sachets should be made to produce water in plastic bottles. How many plastic water bottles are seen in the streets of Accra or on our streets? Because the bottles have many uses, people buy these plastic bottles, drink the water and they carry them to their various homes. If possible we should ban all water in plastic sachets and then we put water in plastic bottles.
Mr. Speaker, it all boils down to
education. What are we doing? If I buy sachet water and drink, why should I drop it on the floor or in the street? And we see many people, even people who should know better, drinking water and dropping the empty plastic sachet in the street.
Mr. Speaker, a typical example was what I experienced at the 37 Military Hospital. I went to the hospital to be treated and as I was coming out, I saw a well-dressed gentleman drinking water and dropping it right on the hospital floor. When I bent down to take it all eyes were on me. The nation should be taught how to be disciplined, and take care of the waste; and this is what we are not doing. If we do
not get ourselves disciplined we shall be swallowed by filth.
Mr. Speaker, the people who
manufacture these water sachets should be made to account or atone for all that is happening in the country. I wonder what is happening. They should pay extra tax so that we can get rid of all these filth -- water sachets in our streets, our drains, all over.
Mr. Speaker, we should be desperate
about this. If we do not move on this and take action quickly, just as the maker of the Statement said, we are going to regret in the not too distant future. We are going to pay dearly for our neglect.
Mr. Speaker, with these few words I support the Statement on the floor.
Mr. George K. Arthur (NDC -- Amenfi Central) 11:25 a.m.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for giving me the opportunity to add to the Statement. Much as we acknowledge the fact that these plastic products have come to help, we should not lose sight of the fact that these same plastic products are things that are killing our country.
In fact, when you go on to our streets, Mr. Speaker, all that you see are these plastic products scattered everywhere. Gone were the days when early in the morning we saw these Town Council people busily working on our streets -- sweeping and desilting gutters. But, Mr. Speaker, now we do not see this practice. One can move the length and breadth of our high streets and would not see a single dustbin placed at a vantage point for people to drop their waste in.
Mr. Speaker, another thing that is killing us is education. When we talk of
Mr. Kwame Osei-Prempeh (NPP -- Nsuta/Kwamang/Beposo) 11:25 a.m.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I just want to add my voice to the Statement on the floor.
Mr. Speaker, first of all let me say that I believe it would be wrong for anybody to say that we should ban the sale of water in sachets. Mr. Speaker, I would call it an anti-people policy and a shortcut.
Mr. Speaker, we are in the advanced stage of development in the world. Now what goes on around the globe is recycling. In most advanced countries, on most products it is advertised that this is made from recycled product, paper or anything. Our problem is not only plastic; papers and so many other things are included. What are we doing about recycling?
Mr. Speaker, I believe in private enterprise. I believe that Government should have no hand in business; but there are some things which are strategic.
Mr. Speaker, if I should refer us to the Constitution, article 36 (9), and with your permission I quote:
“The State shall take appropriate
measures needed to protect and safeguard the national environment for posterity. . . .”
The State should protect the environment for posterity; that is the only legacy that we can leave to our children. Therefore, if we are being engulfed by plastic waste which is destroying our river bodies, everything is being destroyed, and Government sits unconcerned and we take measures which are not workable, Mr. Speaker, I believe it is unfortunate. It should be incumbent on the Government; if it has to install plant and recycling machines in every region of this country, Government must do that.
Mr. Speaker, I said this somewhere that if we have to vote a whole year's Common Fund to acquire recycling machines so that we can recycle materials, let us do that instead of saying that we are banning sachet water, or the production of other plastic products. Mr. Speaker, it is just unworkable. I believe that we must live with the times. The time now is that in every country what goes on is recycling; let us do that; and I do not think that it is beyond the means of this country to recycle our waste.
Mr. Lee Ocran (NDC -- Jomoro) 11:25 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, plastic has been with us for a very long time. It is the most modern way of packaging and I get amused when we in this country try to use kamikaze method in trying to solve an environmental problem. We cannot ban plastics; we shall continue to use plastics. The question is, how do we manage plastic? Plastic was not invented in Ghana or anywhere in Africa; it was invented in Europe, it has been used there and they are able to manage it.
Mr. Speaker, I am holding in my hand a memorandum written by the Deputy Minister for Environment on the 7th of August 1997 to the Minister on this same issue; and the same method is being
Ms. Josephine Hilda Addoh (NPP -- Kwadaso) 11:25 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to add my voice to the Statement.
Mr. Speaker, I admit that we cannot
completely do away with plastics; recycling can be one of the solutions. But what I am saying is, even if we are able to get a company to start the recycling, we need even to collect the plastics for the company.
Mr. Speaker, in my opinion the problem is purely attitudinal. Littering has become part and parcel of so many Ghanaians and we are being engulfed by the plastic waste. Mr. Speaker, I think the time has come for us to call upon even the churches and other social groupings to preach, to talk, to enlighten people on this issue. We must change our attitudes towards littering.
Mr. S. N. Aryeetey Attoh (NPP -- Trobu-Amasaman) 11:35 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I speak in association with my hon. Colleagues who are opposed to the ban on plastic materials. Much is being said about the negative effects of plastics but not much is said about the positive side.
Mr. Speaker, in this country we all know about the water problem in our rural areas, and coming from a rural area, I know the positive side of transporting water through water sachets and the bottles to the rural areas. On occasions like funerals, deep in the rural areas, the only way of taking hygienic water to these areas is through sachet water and bottled water. I therefore do not side with the assertion that plastics should be banned.

Number two, I find that the solution to the problem is not a question of banning. Where are all our bye-laws and the enforcement of these laws? Where are all the civics that we used to teach in our schools, to educate the children on being responsible in the disposal of waste?

When we look around we only cry that there are plastics all over the place. The question is, is it the producer of the plastic material who is responsible or the user who throws the waste irresponsibly
Mr. Speaker 11:35 a.m.
Let us have the last contribution.
Mr. Benito Owusu-Bio (NPP -- Atwima-Nwabiagya) 11:35 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to add my voice to the Statement on the floor.
Mr. Speaker, the problem is not only about plastic wastes but wastes in general and their effect on our environment. Mr. Speaker, it is all about our attitude towards littering just as the hon. Colleague said. There seems to be litter everywhere. I think it is now time to put a stop to this practice.
I am therefore suggesting that with immediate effect litter bins should be placed on our streets by the authorities who are empowered to do so. Also the police must be empowered to impose spot
fines on people caught in these habits and if possible the police should keep the fines to serve as motivation for themselves. Mr. Speaker, I think this is the only way out because it is all about discipline. We must let our people know that what they are doing is wrong.
Just a week ago, on my way home I passed near the Kawukudi junction and I saw some boys standing by the streets, drinking water from sachet plastic bags. After they had finished drinking, one of them just dropped it on the street. I tried to call the boy to go back and pick it up but, Mr. Speaker, the boy insulted me in my face. I got mad and I even nearly came out of my car to chase him around. I think it is about discipline. We have to -- [Interruptions.] No, no. It is about discipline. We have to be hard on them and instil discipline in them.
Mr. Speaker 11:35 a.m.
At the Commencement of Public Business, item 5, Committee Sittings, any indications, hon. Majority Chief Whip?
Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 11:35 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, there are many committees which have been advertised to meet today. Committee of the Whole is meeting immediately after adjournment; thereafter we have Committee on Government Assurances, Committee on Education, and Mr. Speaker, indeed six other committee sittings. In the circumstance, Mr. Speaker, and having exhausted the agenda for the day, may I move that this House do now adjourn till tomorrow 10.00 o'clock in the forenoon. Mr. Speaker, I do so move.
Ms. Akua Sena Dansua 11:35 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I rise to second the motion.
Question put and motion agreed to.
ADJOURNMENT 11:35 a.m.