Debates of 6 Jul 2005

PRAYERS 10:05 a.m.

Mr. Speaker 10:05 a.m.
Order! Order! Correc- tion of Votes and Proceedings, Tuesday, 5th July, 2005.
Mr. Anthony Evans Amoah 10:05 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, on page 7, the substantive Question that I asked did not appear at all.
Mr. Speaker 10:05 a.m.
All right, a correction will be made.
Mr. E. K. D. Adjaho 10:05 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, page 7, item 12, “the following Paper was laid”, it was clarified that it is the cedi equivalent but it is missing there.
Mr. Speaker 10:05 a.m.
Right. We have the Official Report of Wednesday, 29th June, 2005. Yes, hon. Member for Wa West?
Mr. Joseph Yieleh chireh 10:05 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, column 1373, under the Majority Chief Whip, the sentence that begins, “Mr. Speaker, the hon. Minister gave a response” up to “. . . I am wondering whether arriving out of . . .” instead of “arising out of”. [Pause.]
Mr. Speaker 10:05 a.m.
Item 3 -- Questions.

Minister for Fisheries (Mrs. Gladys Asmah) 10:15 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, section 88 (1) of the Fisheries Act 625 of 2002 states, inter alia, that,
“A person shall not permit to be used, use or attempt to use explosive, poison or other noxious substance for the purpose of killing, stunning, disabling or catching fish, or in any way rendering fish more easily caught.”

Mr. Speaker, fishing by light attraction renders fish more easily caught and therefore not permitted. The Ministry has, however, agreed with the artisanal fishermen, canoe and in-shore fishers to try the trammel net which has been designed for use as an alternative for fishing. This net will target the octopus, cuttle-fish and squid which will boost their income.
Mr. A. K. Mensah 10:15 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I
rise to ask this supplementary Question. What punitive measures are available to deal with those who flout the rule of using light to fish?
Mrs. Asmah 10:15 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the
fishermen themselves decided at a meeting with the Minister for Fisheries in 2003 when the ban was placed on light fishing -- They pleaded and they were given up to February, 2004 when the ban will be completely off. This is what is happening now. And recently when we got to know that some of them were using light for fishing, information was sent to all the districts where they deal in fishing, to the police and they have been arresting them since then.
Mr. A. K. Mensah 10:15 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, another supplementary question is being asked: Apart from the law mentioned in her Answer, that is section 88 (1) of the Fisheries Act 625 of 2002, are there any alternative measures that the Ministry had earmarked to deal with the perpetrators?
Mrs. Asmah 10:15 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the police have been arresting them, their items are being seized and they would be prosecuted if they were found to have broken the law. Recently, in Shama, Ahanta East, my hon. Colleague, (Mrs. Angelina Baiden-Amissah), the Deputy Minister for Education and Sports had a lot of fishermen arrested and their gears were seized; they are no more using those lights.
We are trying to educate them to use the trammel nets in catching octopus and cuttle-fish. This is done all year round and they do not need to wait for any season. It is done all year round and this is for export. It is a good business and we are educating them on that.
Mr. J. K. Gidisu 10:15 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, in the hon. Minister's Answer, she noted that the trammel nets were innovations for the fishermen. What practical measures is her Ministry taking to make these
nets available at affordable prices to the fishermen to dissuade them from the former practice?
Mrs. Asmah 10:15 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, some of the fishermen are already using the trammel nets and that is why we are exporting octopus and cuttle-fish. They are using them already. All we are trying to do is to get others who are using the light instead of the trammel net to use it and therefore be able to increase their incomes. They are being trained on it. They themselves brought it to me that that is the net they would want to use and we are still working on it.
Mr. J. K. Gidisu 10:15 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the hon. Minister has not fully answered the supplementary question. What steps has the Ministry taken to make these nets available at affordable prices to the fishermen?
Mrs. Asmah 10:15 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the nets are available at the market and their complaint is that they are a bit expensive. Even though we give them tax exemptions for nets, they still complain the nets are too expensive. So tomorrow morning we are having a meeting with all the net importers to determine what they should say. There are waivers, we waived duties and tax and all of that but they are still complaining they are expensive. So we are calling a meeting tomorrow morning with the net importers. We would want to know whether they have passed the waivers of tax on to the fishers.
Mr. charles S. Hodogbey 10:15 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, my supplementary question to the hon. Minister is that the section 88 (1) of the Fisheries Act (Act 625) of 2002 does not specifically talk about the use of light. So why is she now asking the fishermen not to use light? Was the instruction a verbal one or some regulations have been passed by her Ministry not to use light?
Mrs. Asmah 10:15 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the law states -- and I quote:
“. . . any explosives or poison or any noxious substance found on board a vessel shall be presumed unless the contrary is proved to be intended for purpose of fishing referred to in section 1(b).”
If they put on light to catch fish -- and the light will make the fish easily caught -- it is in the Act; it renders the fish easily caught.
Mr. Speaker, what happens is that when they put on the light, it attracts the fish and they come near it and they catch them. And some of them die and go down into the sea, which means that they are depleting the stocks. It is in the law that they are rendering the fish easily caught; that is why we are saying that it is banned according to the law. We passed the law here in 2002.
Mr. John Gyetuah 10:15 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I would want to ask the hon. Minister whether she could tell the House the stock level of fishes in the marine waters.
Mrs. Asmah 10:15 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, let it be a Question and I would come and answer it. Every two years a vessel called Fridjof Nansem comes here from Norway. It comes to conduct research in the waters in the Gulf of Guinea and Ghana is one of the countries along the Gulf of Guinea. This has been done just a month ago. He should please bring a substantive Question and I would come and answer it.
Mr. E. K. D. Adjaho 10:15 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, in an answer to an earlier supplementary question, the hon. Minister for Fisheries indicated that as a result of a complaint lodged by a Deputy Minister for Education and Sports, the police seized some nets. I would want to know whether the seizure was as a result of a court order or the police had seized these nets and they are still seizing them up till now.
Mrs. Asmah 10:15 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, they were seized and given back to them but we are proving to them that they do not use it. Some of them use the generators for other vocations. So when they seize them, telling them not to use them -- The nets are taken back so they could not have been using those ones. The regulations are not in yet but it is a law that we have passed here that it is banned; it is completely banned; and they know. They pleaded for time and they were given the time, but because they use the generators for other businesses, they were given back to them. But they do not use them anymore.
Mr. D. K. Abodakpi 10:25 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the hon. Minister in an answer to an earlier question said that somebody comes from Norway every two (2) years to conduct -- What effort are we making as a country or even as a member of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to develop this capacity so that we do not depend on Europeans or foreigners to come and tell us the stock levels of fish in our waters?
Mrs. Asmah 10:25 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, we do not
have the research vessels at the moment; we are trying to -- We have got quotations from three (3) companies for patrol and research vessels. Maybe, it will come to this House for approval and when it comes, we would be able to do it on our own. We used to have the research vessels but they have been hung up. They were very old and they were thrown back into the sea and we are trying to get two more patrol and research vessels. It will come to the House.
Mr. E. T. Mensah 10:25 a.m.
Mr. Speaker,
I want the hon. Minister to inform the House as to what plans she has to educate our fishermen about the dangers of the use of the light since they are being very
recalcitrant; in spite of all the arrests they are still doing it.
Mrs. Asmah 10:25 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the training started before my time. They are aware of what is happening and they themselves, knowing what they are doing, destroying the marine resources which they themselves depend on, decided that the ban should be on. If we get to know of anywhere that they are still using light, the police are informed. But from the training that we have been giving them most of them are not doing so; it is only the tuna vessels that go deep down the sea and they advisedly use the light.
Mr. B. D. K. Adu 10:25 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I
would like to know from the hon. Minister whether the Norwegians come to do the surveying on grant basis.
Mrs. Asmah 10:25 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the Food
and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) organised this and this vessel is such that it is a complete research vessel. It came last month and all of us were there. After the survey they told us what they found. It is a grant; it is organised by the FAO and the Norwegian Government completely on grant; nobody pays anything to them.
Procurement of Fishing Inputs at Reasonable Prices
Q. 142. Mr. Lee ocran asked the
Minister for Fisheries what arrangements her Ministry had put in place to enable fishermen procure inputs at reasonable prices as the fishing season was fast approaching.
Mrs. Asmah 10:25 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, there are a number of arrangements that have been put in place to enable fishermen procure fishing inputs at reasonable prices.
My Ministry recommends waivers
on customs duty and Value Added Tax (VAT) on such fishing inputs as nets, twines and other fisheries-related inputs imported into the country. The reason is to enable fishermen procure these inputs at reasonable and affordable prices when these waivers are transferred to them.
Again, the Ministry of Fisheries through the Agricultural Development Bank (ADB) is facilitating the sale of outboard motors to fishermen at a very reasonable price. This will help them make the optimum use of the fishing season.
One thousand (1,000) outboard motors were allocated to the various coastal districts. One motor is selling at about
The rate of purchase is however very slow. To date, only 315 have been sold; 685 remain to be sold.
Mr. ocran 10:25 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the hon. Minister further as to what financial arrangements the Ministry has put in place with the Agricultural Development Bank (ADB) to make it possible for the fishermen and fishmongers, maybe I would add, to get financial assistance to purchase these items.
Mrs. Asmah 10:25 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the ADB
had an arrangement with the fishers where they pay ¢10 million and the outboard motor is given to them with the balance to be paid later. But their complaint is that the moment they get the motor they do not come back, and even though they try as much as possible they do not pay the balance. As a result, they have decided that they would not give any more credit. We are looking at it right now to see whether through the rural banks it would be done. We are arranging this through the rural banks but the ADB is adamant in giving the outboard motors on credit.
Mr. ocran 10:25 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the hon.
Minister said that her Ministry arranged with the ADB to import 1,000 outboard motors. These outboard motors had to be purchased by the fishermen. Why did the Ministry not organise the financial resources for the purchase of these outboard motors? The fishing season does not last the whole year, it is periodical; it has begun and so far only 315 outboard motors have been bought. What would happen to the fishing season and the rest of the outboard motors?
Mrs. Asmah 10:25 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, as I said,
this has been done many, many years back but the fishers do not go back to pay the balance. Perhaps, as an hon. Member of Parliament and having fishermen in his constituency, he can guarantee any outboard motor that can be bought and then, maybe, we would be able to get it done for them. So that is very simple. They would collect the outboard motor -- And some of them are migrants, they may collect the outboard motor from Jomoro but could go to Ekumfi to fish there and for a long, long time we would not see them. That is the problem, Mr. Speaker, if he can guarantee, the outboard motors would be sold to them.
Mr. ocran 10:25 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, my last
question to the hon. Minister. Most of the fishermen have organised themselves into fishing associations, she is aware. Last year some of them paid deposits to various rural banks for the supply of outboard motors. The outboard motors were given to the Assemblies and the fishermen never received them. These monies are still locked in some of the rural banks. Has the Ministry made an effort to find out why last year they did not get and therefore the monies are still there and can be used this year for the purchase of the
outboard motors?
Mrs. Asmah 10:25 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I am not aware of this situation. Perhaps the associations can write to me as to where they put the monies, how many outboard motors they wanted to purchase and I would follow it up.
Mr. Adjaho 10:25 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, in the Answer by the hon. Minister for Fisheries she indicated that outboard motors are being sold to fishermen at reasonable prices. I want to find out from her what is the real price. Is it ¢23.2 million or it is ¢25 million?
Mrs. Asmah 10:25 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, it is ¢23.2 million as indicated in the Answer. The actual price is ¢25 million but we are selling it at ¢23.2 million.
Mr. Kojo Armah 10:25 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I would want to know from the hon. Minister what arrangement exactly has been made with the rural banks to support Government's programmes as far as assistance to fishermen is concerned. I am asking this because in my area of jurisdiction we have had long association with the rural banks. Even when we pay monies to cover the outboard motors it takes such a long time for the rural banks to act to the extent that there is always frustration. I want to know from the hon. Minister whether the Ministry has any standing arrangement with the rural banks as far as facilitation of this assistance is concerned.
Mrs. Asmah 10:25 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the procedure has been in existence for a very, very long time. It is up to the fishermen to prove to the banks that they would be prepared to pay back and the banks would place the order on their behalf. It is the bank that does so on their behalf. If they are good customers the bank would do so. Perhaps they are not good customers that
is why they are waiting on them.
Dr. Benjamin Kunbuor 10:25 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, in the hon. Minister's Answer she indicates that her Ministry recommends waivers on customs duty and value added tax. May I know from the hon. Minister, what is the legal basis or authority for her Ministry to make such a recommendation?
Mrs. Asmah 10:25 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, it was a law that was passed in this House. Nobody gave waivers without parliamentary approval and this was done in Parliament. That is why it still continues.
Dr. Kunbuor 10:25 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, her Answer was that she would normally recommend for -- [Interruption.]
Mr. Speaker 10:25 a.m.
Hon. Member, let me call you first, please.
Dr. Kunbuor 10:25 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I am sorry.
Mr. Speaker 10:25 a.m.
Hon. Member for Lawra/Nandom?
Dr. Kunbuor 10:25 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I am specifically referring to the Answer that “the Ministry makes recommendations on waivers . . .” And I am asking that, how do they make a recommendation on an existing law?
Mrs. Asmah 10:25 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the waivers were passed in Parliament. All I do is to recommend to Customs, Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS) that these companies have applied for waivers on this item that they want to bring in and the CEPS allows them to do so. We recommend to CEPS for the waiver which was approved in Parliament and the CEPS allows them to clear the goods without the taxes.
Dr. Kunbuor 10:35 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I was asking this question because where you have fishing inputs that are exempt under the Value Added Tax Act or under the National Health Insurance as scheduled, they are outright exemptions and they do not normally require recommendation from a Ministry. That is why I was asking that question. So I wanted to know whether there was a special reason for making the recommendations for the waivers and exemptions outside the legal regime.
Mrs. Asmah 10:35 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the CEPS demand these letters from them and until the Ministry gives them those letters they are not allowed to clear them. That is why we write on their behalf when they apply and they are given the waivers.
Mr. G. Kuntu-Blankson 10:35 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to know from the hon. Minister what measures the Ministry has put in place to conserve fish during the main season and to avoid wastage.
Mrs. Asmah 10:35 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I would be happy if my hon. Colleague could repeat the question.
Mr. Kuntu-Blankson 10:35 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to know the preservation measures that the Ministry has put in place to avoid wastage now that we are entering the main season.
Mrs. Asmah 10:35 a.m.
Preservation methods? Oh, Mr. Speaker, many of the fishing villages are asking for cold storage facilities and I am happy to say that we are in the process of getting a Spanish grant to put in, at least, between fifteen to twenty cold store facilities along our inland fishing and coastal areas. Very soon, we shall come to Parliament for approval.
Mr. J. A. Tia 10:35 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, in an answer
Mrs. Asmah 10:35 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, no Ministry is allowed to have any waivers without the approval of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning and this has been the process all the time. It is requested from Parliament and we as emissaries of Government act on behalf of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning and write these letters for the customers.
Mr. Tia 10:35 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, my question to the hon. Minister was whether she is aware that the Minister for Finance and Economic Planning has placed before this House such a request which Parliament has approved.
Mrs. Asmah 10:35 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I am not aware, but what I do know is that waivers are approved in Parliament, by us here; nobody can have any exemption without passing through Parliament -- [Inter- ruption] -- The Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning? We have the authority of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning to do so and my hon. Colleague is aware that the waivers are approved in Parliament by all of us and -- they come in all the time -- waivers. Nobody can have a tax exemption without passing through Parliament and this has been done by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning.
Mr. Tia 10:35 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I just want to request the hon. Minister not to be agitated by this one; we want to follow the due process. Mr. Speaker, what I want to know from the hon. Minister is whether she has been duly informed by the Minister for Finance and Economic Planning that he
Mrs. Asmah 10:35 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, let me first say that I do not get agitated very easily. Again, Mr. Speaker, my hon. Colleague is aware that waivers are approved in Parliament. Mr. Speaker, I took over from an hon. Colleague, and at that time, these waivers were being given and I know that without the approval of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, no Ministry can give any waiver. So Mr. Speaker, it is a very simple question; if he wants to ask the Minister for Finance and Economic Planning, he could do so.
Mr. E. T. Mensah 10:35 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, in the Minister's answer to why the Agricultural Development Bank (ADB) has withdrawn credit facilities to the fishermen she indicated that it was because they have been defaulting. I want to know whether she has found out why they have been defaulting.
Mrs. Asmah 10:35 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, all I do know is that the ADB is refusing to give credit facilities to the fishermen because they have been defaulting. It is a serious problem; they have been doing it all the time. All they say is that they are unable to pay. Mr. Speaker, perhaps, the hon. Member, having a fishing community in his constituency, can also ask them why and then we would all be able to solve the problem together.
Long-term Financial Support for Fish Farmers
Q. 143. Mr. Yaw Effah-Baafi asked the Minister for Fisheries whether the Ministry had a comprehensive plan to provide fish farmers with financial support for long-term investments.
Mrs. Asmah 10:35 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, as a policy, the Ministry does not provide direct
financial support.
Mr. Speaker, the Ministry of Fisheries believes that development of aquaculture will definitely bring about sustained and increased fish production to feed both the local and export markets.
But we facilitate through the banks and the Ministry of Private Sector Develop- ment and I believe that if our entrepreneurs want to go into aquaculture they can do so through the banks for financial support.
An FAO/Technical Co-operation Programme (TCP), on a pilot basis, has strengthened fish-farmer organizations in Kumasi, Dunkwa, Sefwi Wiawso and Tarkwa as a critical component of National Aquaculture Development.
Fish farmers have been trained to raise their own fingerlings (baby fish), keep a record of all activities on their farms with the aim of being able to prepare business plans. These plans will help the farmers to access credit from financial institutions. In fact, the Kumasi Fish Farmers Association are close to putting plans together to access a loan from a bank. This will be replicated in the other three (3) pilot areas and eventually extended to all areas of high potential for aquaculture development.
Fish farmers have been sensitized to see fish farming no longer as a hobby but as a business. They have also been encouraged to work hard with a view to expanding their farming business. A crawler-dozer has been provided by my Ministry on hire-purchase to the Ashanti Fish Farmers Association to enable them construct commercial-sized ponds at affordable cost.
Fish pond construction gangs have also been trained at various locations of high potential for aquaculture development and equipped by my Ministry to facilitate pond construction for the small-scale

farmers also at affordable cost. I am of the conviction that these measures will attract investment into the industry, offer employment, increase incomes and cut down on fish inputs.
Mr. Effah-Baafi 10:35 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, having indicated that the development of aquaculture will bring about sustained and increased fish production to feed both local and export markets, I want to find out from the hon. Minister whether the Ministry has any measures to fully harness the potentials of aquaculture to address the shortfalls in fish production.
Mrs. Asmah 10:45 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the Ministry
is in the process of coming out with an aquaculture policy and I am happy to say that GTZ has been able to support us and the last meeting was held in Bolgatanga last Friday. We are trying to build an aquaculture policy and I believe that when it comes out, my hon. Colleagues will look at it and see what they can do in supporting their communities which are also interested in aquaculture to do it. It will be a beautiful business which will yield good dividends for the country and also feed the nation.
Mr. Effah-Baafi 10:45 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I want
to find out from the hon. Minister what approximate proportion of the annual production of about four hundred thousand metric tonnes of fish is attributed to aquaculture?
Mrs. Asmah 10:45 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, unfor-
tunately, it is 0.1 per cent at the moment and that is why we are trying to move it forward -- only one per cent of the fish produced in this country.
Mr. J. A. Ndebugre 10:45 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, in the Answer given by the hon. Minister she emphasised on areas of high potential for aquaculture development.
I would like to know from her whether some exercise has been carried out to determine such areas of high potential for aquaculture development.
Mrs. Asmah 10:45 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, that will all
come up in the policy statement that we are trying to fashion out and just about to work -- But again, behind any dam that we have -- It is a very big water area but we intend to encourage people to use them for aquaculture. For instance, seven new dams are being planned and my Ministry and the Water Research Institute have started working on it-- seven new dams -- We have started working to encourage people within that catchment area to use the water that will accumulate behind the dam for aquaculture.
Right now, there is one at Bolgatanga -- a company called NEWCO is raising fingerlings for communities by way of aquaculture and also a big farm by itself. We intend to push aquaculture forward and anything that we can do, we will do it. I think that my hon. Colleagues would take it as a business which they themselves can engage in because it is very worthwhile and it is very encouraging to see a little fingerling put into the water growing and becoming big.
Mr. Speaker, last Friday, which was a Republic Day, we had a tilapia forum at the Children's Park, that is, between the Ministry and the Ghana Fishermen Association, and 125 different dishes of tilapia appeared on the lounge at the Children's Park, which was very, very encouraging. I think that if we can continue doing this, we would go a long way as a country. We can have an aquaculture festival that tourists can come and see what we have and to learn our beautiful recipes of tilapia.
Mr. John Gyetuah 10:45 a.m.
Mr. Speaker,
I would want to know from the hon. Minister whether her Ministry has taken the stock of fish we have in our seas and whether there are enough storage facilities to sustain this country in times of shortage and how long it can sustain this country.
Mrs. Asmah 10:45 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I have
mentioned here that there is a Norwegian research vessel that comes in every two years to conduct research in our waters in the Gulf of Guinea. This was done just last week and we are yet to receive the report. But Mr. Speaker, a fish does not need a visa to anywhere so they migrate from one sea to the other. Mr. Speaker, even though we know the fish will never stay at one place, they migrate because they do not need visa to go anywhere, but we need to know the levels that we have in our waters.
Mr. J. Z. Amenowode 10:45 a.m.
Mr. Speaker,
we know that in this country we are not hearing about aquaculture for the first time. I think that some time in the late 1980s, this project was very common in this country. In fact, in my constituency we have over 40 abandoned fish ponds.
Now my question to the hon. Minister is, has her Ministry done enough studies to see why the project failed in the first place so that we do not make all these preparations and then disappoint our farmers again?
Mrs. Asmah 10:45 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, aqua- culture is getting scientific now. Many years back, people just got the ponds, put fish in them, and frogs took over. Now, we are trying to do it the scientific way and that is why we are bringing the policy to guide people so that whatever they want to do would be done properly. Again, I hope my hon. Colleague will tell me where these 40 ponds are abandoned, if he can write to me at the Ministry, I would make sure that the research officers go there and see where they went wrong so that we can correct them for a better effect because we need the fish that would be in the pond.
Mr. Francis A. Agbotse 10:45 a.m.
Mr. Speaker,
sometime ago, the Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) had some pilot projects at Akosombo. As I drive past the project sites, I think there is not much activity going on now. How can we revive this because when it was in Ho, people copied from them? How are these to be revived?
Mrs. Asmah 10:45 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I said
here that my Ministry is working with the Water Research people; they come under the CSIR and we are working closely with them. Mr. Speaker, we want to make sure that we do not go wrong the second time, and as a result, everything that we have do to would be done properly. We are working closely with the Water Research people, and of course, the research team in my own Ministry and GTZ has helped us to develop an aquaculture policy. It will soon come to Parliament. We would give you a copy so that hon. Members who want to take aquaculture as a business can look at it and do so; it is a very interesting venture, and of course, it is also very lucrative.
Mr. Speaker, this afternoon, we are visiting another one at Asutsuare -- a very big one at Asutsuare. We visited one a month ago at Dodi-Asantekrom; we are going for just another one. We want to make sure that what they are using are the ones that are suitable for aquaculture in the country.
Mr. osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 10:45 a.m.
Speaker, in an answer to a supplementary question, the hon. Minister said that her Ministry is to promote the use of water bodies collected behind dams. She is going to encourage the resort to aqua- culture on water that are collected behind the dams.
Mr. Speaker, giving the fact that the use of poisonous chemicals is becoming a menace by our fisherfolk, what plans is the Ministry putting in place to mitigate the effect of the use of poisonous chemicals
considering the fact that the waters thus collected would be used as drinking water?
Mrs. Gladys Asmah 10:55 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, as I said earlier on, we want to do the right thing the second time. As a result, we have sought the support of the Chinese Embassy and they are going into this together with the Mission. They are bringing experts to help us; and the seven new dams that the Chinese themselves are going to construct for us, we are in there with them, with the aquaculture, with the water that is behind the dam.
But Mr. Speaker using poisonous substances is a crime, according to the law that I have just read here, and anybody who is caught will face the law. I do not know whether the hon. Majority Chief Whip is aware of any place where this is happening. If he is, he should tell us and I would be there to correct it.
Kpando Torkor (Development as Landing Site)
Q. 165. Ms. Akua Sena Dansua asked the Minister for Fisheries when Kpando Torkor would be fully developed as a landing site since the Kpando District Assembly and the Volta River Authority jointly built a partial landing site there about eight years ago.
Mrs. Asmah 10:55 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, after the formation of the Volta Lake in 1964, many villages were submerged. Sometime thereafter, over 1,000 new villages sprang up along the 5,200 km stretch shoreline of the lake to harvest fish from it.
Kpando Torkor was the first to be developed into a fisheries complex for safe landing of transport boats with facilities for wholesale and retail marketing where traders are protected from the weather, that is the sun and rain. Work at Kpando
Mrs. Asmah 10:55 a.m.

Torkor started in May 1973 and the landing site was officially opened in October 1975, about 30 years ago.

Mr. Speaker, unfortunately, the water body has receded to the extent that the ramps are now permanently exposed and therefore cannot be used for safe landing of the boats.

The Ministry intends to cause to be undertaken, a technical study to ascertain the rate of utilization of the site, that is the number of canoes at work and the volume of trade, et cetera and whether or not it will be a viable proposition to warrant further investment into development of the landing site.

The Ministry will then take a decision based on the recommendations of the report submitted.
Ms. Dansua 10:55 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I would want the hon. Minister to indicate to me when her intention to undertake the technical study would materialize.
Mrs. Asmah 10:55 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I am happy that my hon. Colleague brought that question. This has alerted us that there is the need for us to look at Kpando Torkor again; and this is what we are going to do. When we know what the problems are, we would bring the solutions. Mr. Speaker, the last time the hon. Member asked the question, I asked her to bring a substantive Question and I would come and answer it. It is when you know the ailment that you apply the right treatment; that is what we are going to do.
Ms. Dansua 10:55 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I want the
hon. Minister to indicate specifically when these technical studies would be done. She should give me an idea when the technical studies would be done.
Mrs. Asmah 10:55 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, we have the people already on the ground and I want to assure my hon. Colleague that within the next two weeks, there would be people there looking at what is there, and to take a decision on it.
Ms. Dansua 10:55 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, my hon.
Friend would appreciate the fact that the complex there presently is wasting away; not much activity is going on. So until the technical study is done and the recommendations studied, what does she intend to use the complex for, since it would not be prudent to allow it to go waste in the meantime?
Mrs. Asmah 10:55 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, it is good
she is telling me that the complex is wasting. We would go and have a look at it, and as a Member of Parliament for the area, perhaps, she should make a little input as to what we can do to resuscitate the place. My hon. Colleague was the District Chief Executive there sometime ago and I can assure her that we would support it and make sure that we get the place resuscitated.
Mr. Speaker, Kpando Torkor was the pilot and right now there is another one at Yeji, both of the same model. They have the landing site, they have the boating site and they have the market as well. We would try and make sure that the thing is resuscitated.
Ms. Dansua 10:55 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I just
want to assure the hon. Minister of my preparedness to cooperate with her to rehabilitate the facility.
Mr. Speaker 10:55 a.m.
This is not a question.
Mr. Dan Abodakpi 10:55 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I just
want to find out from the hon. Minister whether she is aware that the complex at Kpando Torkor is not only for fisheries purposes but also for promoting the maritime industry, particularly transpor-
Mrs. Asmah 10:55 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, as I said, I
am not aware of what he is saying; but as I said before, it is the low level of the Volta Lake that has affected the Kpando Torkor landing site. We have to send people there to go and see it. If it was for marine, we would look at it. We would look at it and whatever has to be done, if funds are available, would be done. But we have to see it first. That is why I said my technical team would go there and they would bring the report in due course.
Mr. Abodakpi 10:55 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, in view of this new information we have given her, would she agree that for us to achieve a comprehensive picture worthy of the complex it would be proper to have a joint ministerial team -- her Ministry and the Ministry of Transport -- so that we can have a comprehensive picture of the use to which the complex should be put?
Mrs. Asmah 10:55 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, anything
to do with water and transport is between Harbours and Ports, Volta River Authority (VRA) and my Ministry. When it comes to fishing, I want to assure my hon. Colleague the three institutions would do so together.
Mr. E. K. D. Adjaho 10:55 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I
want to find out from the hon. Minister whether she has ever visited Kpando Torkor, especially after she became Minister for Fisheries.
Mrs. Asmah 10:55 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I have not
been there. We are doing it one by one. We have been to Dodi, Asantekrom and others; we are going to Asutsuare today and in due course, we shall go to Kpando Torkor to see what is there. I want to see it with my own eyes so that we can know the decision that can be taken on them.
Mr. A. K. Agbesi 10:55 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I want to know from the hon. Minister whether these permanently exposed ramps can be removed; and if they can, whether her Ministry has the intention of removing them for safe landing of the boats?
Mrs. Asmah 10:55 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, since I am
not a technical person I would not be able to answer that question until the technical people have had a look at it and given me their recommendation.
Mr. J. K. Gidisu 10:55 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the
hon. Minister in her earlier identification of situations identified Kpando Torkor as a pilot scheme and one of the busiest centres along the Volta Lake. Is it not a ploy to buy time, for the Ministry to be saying that they want to send a technical team to study the number of canoes at work and volume of trade, an empirical situation that is already known to her?
Mrs. Asmah 10:55 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, landing
sites are constructed, knowing the volume of trade that is done, the number of canoes and the population. It would be completely wrong to put a landing site at a place where it would not be properly used. It becomes a useless investment and that is why I said so. But Mr. Speaker, at the time that the landing site was there, there were a lot of canoes; now, they are not there. That is why there is the need for us to check the number of canoes that are using that place as at now, the trade that is going on, and then the technical people would bring their report.
As at now, I would not be able to say or make any recommendations here, Mr. Speaker. Until I have the report in my hand, that tells me what is there, I would not be able to put it before the House. My hon. Colleague asked the question but I did not answer. Now, I have been briefed and that is what I am telling my hon. Colleague. Please, Mr. Speaker, let us wait
Mrs. Asmah 10:55 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, until I have
the technical report in my hand, I would not be able to decide here; we would have to look at it first.
Mr. Speaker 11:05 a.m.
Hon. Minister for
Fisheries, thank you very much for appearing to respond to hon. Members' Questions. You are hereby discharged.

Item 4 -- Statements. We have a Statement by the hon. Member for Jirapa.
STATEMENTS 11:05 a.m.

Mr. Edward K. Salia (NDc -- Jirapa) 11:05 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, transportation no doubt is a major prerequisite for the development and improvement of the economic fortunes of any region or country. It is indeed a very important ingredient if the poverty of any people can be reduced because it is a major input in the production and distribution of virtually every commodity and service, be it agriculture, manufacturing, education, health, tourism, governance or public administration.
Mr. Speaker, no government should feel satisfied that it is reducing poverty if transportation is performing poorly.
The current poverty indices by region are almost perfectly correlated with the quality of roads by regions and indeed the Government's resource allocation for road maintenance and road development in the country.
Unfortunately, even as the Government is pursuing a strategy of poverty reduction, its allocation of available funds is now most discriminatory against the poorest regions of Ghana that have historically been neglected in the provision and maintenance of roads. The under- development, poverty and misery of the Upper West Region can largely be attributed to the perennial lack of access to and within the region.
The inadequacy of road infrastructure in the region should not really be blamed on any one post-independence government as all of them are to some extent guilty. But obviously, some are guiltier. Colonial development policy simply did not incorporate Northern Ghana as a whole. Period. Northern Ghana was not intended to develop, hence its total neglect in the provision of development infrastructure of every kind in order to promote emigration therefrom as cheap labour for the mines and cocoa farms in Ashanti and the colony. It was only after independence that some attempt was made to improve the road surface in that part of the country. In the specific case of the Upper West Region, since creation, not a single kilometre of trunk road was tarred in the Upper West Region until the 1990s. No wonder the brown dust cap on the heads of travellers from the region invited pick-pockets to duty when they arrived in Techiman or Kumasi.
The Pre-2001 Situation
Mr. Speaker, between 1992 and 2000, considerable effort was made to improve road infrastructure throughout the country,
and the Upper West Region for the first time in history benefited from the largesse of Central government.
To link the region to the south, construction of the 235-kilometre Wa- Bole-Bamboi road began in earnest, and by December 2000, 128 kilometres were tarred. Messrs P&W Ghanem Ltd. began working on 35 kilometres of the stretch between Bole and Maluwe awarded in early 2000 and Messrs Razel et Freres were awarded another 35 kilometres from Bamboi towards Banda Nkwanta as pre-financed contracts. Funds were targeted in the then impending Road Sector Development Programme which was to take off in 2001 to complete the remaining 35 kilometres of the remaining 105 kilometres stretch to at least link the regional capital to the rest of Ghana across the Black Volta at Bamboi by June 2003.
Mr. Speaker, within the region, surfacing of the Wa-Jirapa-Hamile road reached Jirapa by December 2000. The tarring of the Wa-Han-Tumu stretch was also started in 1998 by Ussuya Ltd. and got to Sagu while from the Upper East, pavement of the Chuchuliga-Tumu road also began after 1996 in an attempt to link the Upper West and Upper East regions with an all-weather road. Obviously, this should have long been done when the two regions constituted the then Upper Region. Close to 110 kilometres of roads were surfaced within the Upper West Region by December 2000.
The current Situation
Mr. Speaker, today, the region is the only region that is not linked to any neighbouring regional capital with an all- weather tarred trunk road. Meanwhile, road and air are currently the only possible modes of transportation to and within the region as rail and water transport don't
exist in the region and in fact have never been available. During the NDC regime, a reasonably good airstrip was upgraded at Wa in 1999 but no commercial flights currently go to the region, thereby making the region totally dependent on only road transport.
Mr. Speaker, unfortunately, since 2001 the Upper West Region has not seen much progress on the highway front, as some of these projects were stopped with all manner of reasons immediately after the change of government. For instance, since 2001, the Wa-Jirapa-Hamile road project linking Ghana to Burkina Faso, which is about 60 per cent complete, has been dropped like a hot roasted yam with no funds allocated for its continuation and not even mentioned in the medium- term programme of the Ministry of Road Transport.
The African Development Bank financed the study and design of the Chuchuliga-Tumu-Kupulima road, the Tumu-Han-Lawra road and the Wa-Han road with the view to financing their upgrading to surface dressing. The studies were completed years ago but nothing else of significance is happening presently.
Today, the Upper West Region has only 117 kilometres of paved roads out of a national total of 5,335 kms, and 807 kilometres out of a total of 5,524 km of unpaved roads.
While 49 per cent is the national average of paved roads to the total road length, the Upper West has less than 13 per cent; the national average of unpaved roads in the network is 51 per cent while that of the region is nearly 87 per cent with only 11 km of the 807 km length of unpaved roads classified as good. Seventy-five per cent of the road network in the region are classified as poor. Mr. Speaker, is it any wonder that the Upper West Region is in the upper league of poverty in Ghana along with its two sister regions?
Mr. Edward K. Salia (NDc -- Jirapa) 11:15 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, it might surprise some hon. Members (particularly those who have not gone past Techiman) when we learn that in spite of the relative deprivation of the Upper West Region as far as roads are concerned, the Upper West Region has only had about five kilometres of roads tarred between January 2001 and today.
It has received the least amount of funds available for both road maintenance and development in the last four years. All this is in spite of the ongoing road infrastructure development programme currently being undertaken in the country with funds from the Road Fund and the multimillion dollar Road Sector Development Programme, painstakingly and thoughtfully put together by the NDC as well as funds from the HIPC initiative and mixed credits received from bilateral sources.
Effects of the Neglect
Mr. Speaker, the net effect of the poor road infrastructure is that passenger services are very poor and the state transport organizations provide very little service to the region. Only Inter- city STC grudgingly sends its oldest and most unreliable buses to the region three or so times a week. The newer and air- conditioned ones are considered far too good for the Upper West Region. The buses break down regularly and often take more than a day to make the trip. During the rainy season, they often suspend their services for several weeks.
The MMT buses are considered to be too good for travellers in the Upper West so they have not yet been allocated to ply there. This is in sharp contrast to only a few years ago when the three state bus companies all plied the Upper West routes with services to and from Obuasi, Accra,
Kumasi, Bolgatanga and Tamale to Wa, Tumu and Hamile. Haulauge services are provided by only the private sector and one has to be grateful for getting any service. Considering the quality of the roads no one can complain about the excessive haulage charges.
Mr. Speaker, under these circum-stances of very poor roads, even representatives of multilateral organiza-tions, bilateral agencies, and donor agencies take a cue from some high government officials and political appointees who seldom visit the region unless they are compelled to do so. The faint-hearted get to Tamale and decide that once they have seen Tamale, they can extrapolate for the Upper West Region.

How will poverty be reduced in the region if investors cannot get there and tourists cannot access tourist sites? How can farmers prosper if cost of transportation takes close to 50 per cent of the selling price of farm produce sent to southern markets such as the Techiman market? And now with a 50 per cent increase in fuel prices, what can we expect besides more impoverishment?

Mr. Speaker, the Western corridor of this country is very important as the North- South international trade route between Ghana, Burkina Faso and Mali from Bamako and Bobo Dioulasso through Hamile, Wa, Techiman and Kumasi to Accra, Tema and/or Takoradi. After years of courting our Sahelian neighbours to use our ports at Takoradi and Tema for their international trade, it now appears the roads in the Upper West are the major bottleneck as prevailing conditions most favour the use of the Ghana trade corridor by our Sahelian neighbours.

The time to capture the market from

competing ports in the subregion and increase the country's foreign revenues is now. A lot more effort should be quickly put into improving the roads along the corridor in the region as our neighbours have rehabilitated their link roads to Tumu and Hamile both in the Upper West Region to facilitate movement into Ghana.

Mr. Speaker, fundamentally, roads are national assets, which benefit other people apart from the residents within the road corridor so the Government should do something more positive on the roads in the region to curtail the prevailing perception that the people of the Upper West Region are being deliberately neglected or punished for obvious reasons.

With better roads which are cheaper to construct than elsewhere, the Upper West Region's poverty will be reduced through improved agriculture, better access to health, education, other social services, as well as attracting tourism and both foreign direct and local investment in the region's economy. Without an improvement in the road infrastructure and thereby improving transportation, the Upper West will remain in tattered penury, firmly anchored at the bottom of the nation's development league and regrettably continue to be a heavy drag on the national development effort.

Mr. Speaker, HIPC funds, Multi-Donor Budget Support, Sector Programme loans as opposed to project loans of the past, the Road Fund, bilateral grants and mixed-credit schemes are now all in place providing the Government of Ghana more funds for investment in road infrastructure than at any other time since the colonial government handed over to the Osagyefo. If the current Government is serious to continue the good start of the previous government, it can show instant positive results on the road conditions of the Upper West Region.

Mr. Speaker, the problems of the Upper West Region are legion but presently our trunk roads are one of the most pressing needs and yet in the midst of apparent plenty the region is clearly neglected and probably suffering some severe discrimination. Ghana belongs to all of us so there should be more regional fairness and equity in the sharing of available national resources, scarce as they might be. If this nation will move forward as one, the Government needs to sit up and take stock and account of regional effects of policies and programmes as they often impact differently on the different regions.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for the opportunity.
Minister for Regional cooperation and NEPAD (Dr. K. K. Apraku) 11:15 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to contribute to the Statement that has been made by my hon. Colleague, because I returned from Wa just last Sunday and I know that basically by and large the things or the issues he has raised are very legitimate issues. The road is in very terrible state of disrepair. But I also want to emphasise that this problem has been there for a very long time.
I remember that in 1982 we travelled on that road to Wa; the difference is significant compared to what we find now. What I observed, Mr. Speaker, was that there is a lot of work being done right now on the road. Tremendous achievement has been made, but a lot more needs to be done. It is very difficult to drive on that road because it took us over six hours to drive from Wa to Kumasi, and if one had wanted to continue to Accra, it would have been a whole day's journey. The region deserves better than that, just like many other regions in our country. But since this is the particular point that has been raised, I would like us to focus on that.
Minister for Regional cooperation and NEPAD (Dr. K. K. Apraku) 11:25 a.m.
It is really disheartening to see the state of the roads in that part of the country; I say so because I also happened to have gone to Burkina Faso for a bilateral meeting with my colleague, the Minister there; and it is an indictment on our country that a country such as Burkina Faso, relatively poorer than we are, has done fantastic work constructing the road all the way from the Bobo Dioulaso to the border, Hamile; and when we entered the Ghanaian part of the road, we wondered if it was Ghana that we were in or another poorer country than Burkina Faso. So none of us can truly say that we have done enough in that part of the country.
But we also know that we are faced with limited resources and those that are charged to do the roads must do a good job. In many instances they have not delivered and they are all to be blamed. But I want to say that the issues that have been raised are legitimate. If we want to promote economic development in that part of the country then we need to embark on an extensive road development network.
The present state is very bad and it means that all of us who are interested, particularly in linking Ghana to the rest of the subregion have a special responsibility to work together to find the best means of promoting integration, the best means of mobilizing resources, the best means of getting our people to participate in economic development issues, restoring peace and stability in the region, to ensure that we focus our energies and our resources to fighting poverty rather than fighting amongst ourselves.
Mr. Speaker, I am not the Minister in charge of Road Transport so I cannot give a substantive response to the issues, but I can only say that I have just returned from there last Sunday and I believe we need to do more to improve the road network in
that part of the country, while we do more to also promote those in all the other parts of this country.
Mr. J. D. Mahama (NDc -- Bole/
Bamboi): Mr. Speaker, I would like to associate myself with the comments made by the hon. Member for Jirapa in respect to the roads in the Upper West Region.
Even though my constituency falls within the Northern Region, by virtue of its geographical location we are very strategically tied to the Upper West Region, because the mode of access from the North to my constituency is along the same stretch of routes that the hon. Member for Jirapa (Mr. Edward Salia) is commenting upon.
Mr. Speaker, three years ago in this House, the President announced during the State of the Nation Address that the Bole-Bamboi road had been awarded on contract. Indeed, in his reference, he mentioned my name specifically and said he thought that I should be happy that that road had been awarded on contract.
Mr. Speaker, the history of that road is that it is part of that long road that continues through Wa, Jirapa to Hamile. This road was commenced many years ago and it had travelled all the way down to Bole as at the year 2000. The remaining stretch of 105 kilometres that was left to be completed was awarded on contract to two contractors, Razel and P&W Ghanem, as hon. Edward Salia rightly stated.
Mr. Speaker, in 2001 these two contracts were terminated and the contractors were asked to stop the project. The explanation that was given was that the contracts were going to be reviewed and at the appropriate time reawarded.

Mr. Speaker, when this contract was re-awarded, only the 55-kilometre stretch

from Bole to Tinga was awarded to P & W Ghanem on contract to be tarred. Mr. Speaker, the remaining 50 kilometres or so from Tinga to Bamboi has remained un-awarded. As far as my enquiries are concerned, there are no funds anywhere yet to construct that portion of the road. That has been the history of this road.

From the point where the President made the announcement that the contract had been awarded until this point as I stand now -- the last time I travelled on that road I set my car's kilometre counter and I counted exactly 35 kilometres. So what it means is that in the last three years, only 35 kilometres of this 105-kilometre road has been constructed and I think that we can do far, far better than that.

Mr. Speaker, it is the same as hon.

Salia said that Wa, which is the capital of the Upper West Region remains the only capital in this country that is not connected to any other regional capital in this country by a good all-weather road and that is a fact. So, certainly, it needs urgent attention.

If you take the road from Tamale-Wa, the road is tarred as part of the Tamale- Kumasi Trunk Road up to Fufulso, which is popularly called Damongo Junction. From Damongo Junction up to Sawla, where you turn right to Wa, that road also remains unpaved. If my memory serves me right, as far back as 2002, a contract was awarded to tar 10 kilometres of that road and regravel the rest of the road up to Sawla. As I stand here today, I have not yet seen a kilometre of tar on that road, and the road remains in a very bad state. So travelling even from Tamale to Wa is as terrible as from travelling from the south to Wa, that is along the Bole-Bamboi road.

Mr. Speaker, it is rightly said that we

are competing with our neighbours and
Minister for the Interior (Papa owusu-Ankomah) 11:25 a.m.
Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, for giving me the opportunity to contribute to the Statement.
Mr. Speaker, upon assumption of office as the Minister for the Interior, I
had occasion to travel to the northern part of this country. Whilst I concede that the road network in the Upper West Region is not very good, I must also say that I was excited by the prospects in the Upper West Region. Indeed, I dare say that certain parts of Western Region have worst roads than certain parts of the Upper West Region. However, it is significant to note that in terms of infrastructure development, Wa, which is the regional capital, is very, very adversely affected. Indeed, almost all the headquarters of the agencies under the Ministry of the Interior were in temporary structures.
In fact, looking at the conditions there, public servants who work in the Upper West Region must be greatly commended. And indeed, I have given directives to the security agencies that in terms of promotion, those who have worked in deprived parts of this country should be considered to be persons who have distinguished themselves, creditably, to merit promotion rather than those who stay in relatively good places. When it comes to peacekeeping, those in the remote areas are being considered by the Police. Since my return, I have had discussions with my hon. Colleagues and I wish to assure the hon. Member for Jirapa that indeed this term, we will see some significant improvements in the road network in the Upper West Region.
Indeed, since my return, I know that I have directed that for the Police and Fire Service, certain logistics should be sent to support the agencies there. But all in all, we must all recognize that we have limited resources, but of course having regard to the strategic location of the Upper West Region, we need to invest significantly. I visited the border post and I just want to confirm what my hon. Colleague has stated, that Hamile, it is totally run down.
But enquires have also disclosed that it is not the preferred entry point for those coming from Burkina Faso. However, there is the need in terms of our strategic location and in terms of the sub-region that our border towns also be given serious attention.
But I must say that I was also impressed by the Bole-Bamboi road, because I was there in 2001 or so to inaugurate the Bole District Assembly and I must say that I saw significant improvement the last time I was there. It could be better even though the potholes that I experienced from Bamboi to Tinga were not there when I visited there about two or three months ago.
Mr. Speaker 11:25 a.m.
Hon. Member for Bole/ Bamboi, do you have a point of order to raise?
Mr. Mahama 11:25 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, just to say that the hon. Minister said, that from Bamboi to Tinga he did not feel the potholes the way they were. I am sure he was using a 4X4 Toyota Land Cruiser and so in the comfort of that vehicle, he was not as shaken as the rest of us deprived MPs feel when we go back to our -- [Laughter.]
Mr. Speaker 11:25 a.m.
Hon. Minister for the
Interior, go on. That was not a point of order at all.
Papa owusu-Ankomah 11:25 a.m.
Thank you. The first time I was privileged to go to Bole to inaugurate the Assembly, I was also in a four-wheel drive. I must say that it is better now, but it could be better. I said that -- I came and said that as a
matter of priority, as a Government, we should ensure that before the end of this term, we should endeavour to complete the remaining section of the Bole-Bamboi road. But let us hope that when the time comes for us to allocate the resources we will pay due attention to the Upper West Region. Indeed, the Upper West Region has a special place in my heart. I fell in love with the region when I visited there the first time -- [Interruptions] -- No, I must say that.
But there is also one thing that we should bear in mind. There is so much potential in the northern parts of this country and those of us who happen to be representatives of the population in those areas should also, as much as possible, encourage our constituents to endeavour to always fight for peace. It is important. We should not give up. It is sometimes difficult but we should not give up. Those of us who are opinion leaders there should appreciate the fact that destiny has thrust on us the immense responsibility to beat the path for our constituents to follow, so that we can encourage others to invest in the northern parts of this country.
Mr. Speaker 11:35 a.m.
Hon. Member for Bole-Bamboi, are you in a position to contribute?
Mr. Mahama 11:35 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I was rising on a point of order.
Mr. Speaker 11:35 a.m.
Anyway that is over. May I call on the hon. Member for Wa West.
Mr. Joseph Y. chireh (NDc -- Wa West) 11:35 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, having listened to my hon. Brother and the earlier contributors,
I do not have to say anything again; but I want to emphasize something -- [Interruption.] Do not heckle me like that -- [Laughter.] If you look at what we are talking about, the Upper West Region was created during the era of the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) not because of any other reason than the total neglect of the development of that place.
I was privileged to be made the first Regional Secretary and whatever little that you have seen -- I am happy that the Minister for the Interior is saying this. That was precisely the policy I adopted. I made sure on every occasion, I got a Minister or some high officials in that region. It is only when people have visited the Upper West Region or other deprived areas of this country that they will appreciate -- In fact, for the Regional Ministers, I am sure if they were still rotating their meetings, they would have the opportunity to do so.
In 1985 when I hosted the Regional Secretaries' conference, they all, after touring that region and seeing the deplorable state in which the roads were, decided that they would take portions of the regional budget on roads to support the Upper West Region.
Mr. Speaker, it is because of this that emphasis was to be put on the deprived nature of the Upper West Region in order to raise its level, at least, to the level that we can say we are part of Ghana; but it seems it has slackened; it is very, very disheartening, to say the least. I am happy that from the other side, there is hope and I will encourage that hope to come.
Unfortunately, if you look at what has happened, the recent roads advertised for development or for reconstruction, or for maintenance, not a single one came from my constituency, Wa West constituency, a very large constituency with high
Mr. osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu (NPP -- Suame) 11:35 a.m.
Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, for the opportunity to associate myself with the Statement made by my hon. Colleague, Mr. Edward Salia.
Mr. Speaker, over the past four years, I have also travelled on the roads in the western corridor on about four occasions. Mr. Speaker, it is a sad truth about the roads in the Upper West Region. Indeed, the road linking the southern half of this country to the Upper West Region is not in the best of shapes. The last time I traversed that road was when I went to Osei-Kojokrom through Bole; then I got to Wa, came back again to Bole and then used the Tamale-Damongo road. Mr. Speaker, it is certainly not the best and we believe that Government should expedite action on that.
Mr. Speaker, but as was alluded to by an hon. Member who spoke earlier, who said that the President in last year's State of the Nation Address mentioned the Bole- Bamboi road, Mr. Speaker, I agree with him that the President mentioned it but that was not the first time. In fact, from 1997 since we have been in this Parliament, every year that particular road had been mentioned by the Presidents of this country, starting from Flt. Lt. Rawlings; they have always mentioned that road but at the end of the year not much action had been seen on that particular road.
So the question to ask is: what is stalling the construction of that particular road? We need to address our minds to it to see what has gone wrong or what
should be done, Mr. Speaker, to improve the road and improve it very, very fast. Mr. Speaker, we need the roads for development purposes and for national cohesion and just so that it will also help improve the economic well-being of the communities in the region.
Mr. Speaker, as the hon. Member for Offinso North stated, it is sad to observe that from the Burkina Faso side, the road has been done up to Hamile; and immediately you enter Hamile, you enter a very rough road. I passed through that road and went to Koro on the main road linking Tumu. Mr. Speaker, it was horrible and so I agree with my hon. Colleague that something urgent must be done about that road.
But I do not agree with my hon. Colleague, the maker of the Statement when he says that the buses which were recently imported into the country are considered too nice for the traveller of the Upper West Region and that was the reason why the region was not considered in the allocation of the buses. Mr. Speaker, I thought such a statement is not supposed to provoke debate and for him to have said that without any empirical evidence, I thought it was unfortunate.
Mr. Speaker, as a former Minister responsible for Road Transport he has had some debate with the current Minister regarding engineered roads and un- engineered roads in the region on a number of occasions. Unfortunately, the hon. Minister is not here. I understand he is at Hohoe now and we are trying to get him to come to really brief this House on what his Ministry is doing for us all to know what is left to be done; so that if we need to recommend any top-up, that one could be resorted to.
Mr. Salia 11:45 a.m.
On a point of order. Mr. Speaker, my hon. Colleague is doing good justice to this Statement but he is misleading the House. Mr. Speaker, I did not say it as a matter of fact but I said it was a perception. It is a perception and when you cannot find good reasons or any obvious reasons for neglect, then the perception could hold. So if it is not the case and things are done differently, the perception would be removed.
Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 11:45 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I heard him say that as a matter of fact but if he is saying now that it is a perception -- If indeed that was what he said, I may excuse him because it could be a perception all right but I do not think that is a reality.
Mr. Speaker, the link between the southern part of the country and the Upper West Region, as I have already said, has for a very long time not been in the best of shapes at all, and as a nation we need to have a look at it, particularly considering the fact that some of the vehicles that are going to Burkina Faso now prefer to use that western corridor.
And Mr. Speaker, if you traverse that road, when you get to the untarred sections, you would see many accidents; many of the trucks run into ditches, many
Minority Leader (Mr. A. S. K. Bagbin) 11:45 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, it is heartwarming that my hon. Colleagues in Government, especially Ministers of State are giving assurances to the people of the Upper West Region that something would be done this time about the road network in the region.
Mr. Speaker, the problem of the region, so far as roads are concerned, is that the trunk roads linking the region sometimes take over the debate on the roads in the region. In fact, the area that they are talking about, the Bamboi road is not part of the Upper West Region. It is an important road to the Upper West Region because it links the region to the rest of the other regions. But when you are talking about the roads in the region, it is not one of the roads in the region.
Mr. Speaker, some of these roads have been in existence since independence and there was some delay in tackling the roads network until the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) era. Mr. Speaker, thereafter there were some efforts in trying to get the trunk roads to be
motorable all year round. But it is because of the recent retrogression that is why this Statement is made.
Mr. Speaker, some of us have made efforts many times to try to get the current Government to at least focus once again on the region. Mr. Speaker, I have been one of the enemies of the road network there, and in fact, I have had so many accidents along that route and that is why sometimes we support pleas that the construction of the Bole-Bamboi road be expedited. This is because, at least, I have had to kiss the ground over three times there on my way home. It is not a pleasant experience.
But Mr. Speaker, the other road network in the Upper West Region between Wa and Hamile was under construction. And in fact, it was starred from Wa to a little bit after Jirapa. Immediately there was this change of government, it was stopped and nothing has been done up to date. That is the network now that will link up to Hamile. Nothing has been done up to date.
Then also the network from Wa towards Tumu was being constructed but since the year 2001 only five kilometres have been added to what was done. These are roads we talk about in the region. Nothing is being done on the other trunk roads. So since the year 2001, if you are talking about trunk roads, it is only five kilometres that have been made motorable all year round and that is the cause of concern for people in the region.
In the Wa township itself, there are some road networks that have been tarred to link some sections in the town but these are not trunk roads. Even when you talk about the Bamboi road, you will realize that it was under construction before the termination in the year 2001 and it was reawarded in the year 2003. At that time the road had been paved and since then only thirty-five kilometres have been made
motorable all year round.
Dr. Apraku 11:45 a.m.
On a point of order. Mr. Speaker, I think my hon. Colleague, the respected Minority Leader is misleading the House. Gabby Otchere or Gabby Nketiah that he mentioned is neither working for the Government nor a spokesperson for the Government. He is not an operative of this Government. No.
So please, we would want him to clarify that. He is not an operative and he does not hold a position in the national executive. He does not hold a position as a Minister or in any official capacity. He is not even a party activist that I can recognize. So he should not put words in the mouth of this Government. This Government is dedicated to equal and fair distribution. If we have not done that, he should tell us and we would work on it but he should not attribute somebody's statement to the Government.
Mr. Bagbin 11:55 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I am grateful for his intervention. I am also grateful that today we know where he stands. But I know he is the Editor of a newspaper in which he had an interest -- [Interruptions.]
Mr. Speaker 11:55 a.m.
Mr. Bagbin 11:55 a.m.
And Mr. Speaker -- [Interruption] -- I did not say “Government”. I am talking about the party in power and I used the word “operative”; that one too he said no. So I said I was grateful for that one.
Mr. Speaker 11:55 a.m.
That is all, please continue.
Mr. Bagbin 11:55 a.m.
Let us go to -- [Interrup- tion.]
Papa owusu-Ankomah 11:55 a.m.
On a point of order. Mr. Speaker, I would just implore the hon. Minority Leader not to refer to persons who would not have the opportunity to say anything in their defence on the floor of this House. I just think that probably it was because hon. Colleagues were shouting, “name, name”, that is why -- But it is not really good enough. And for purposes of the records, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) has not got an interest in The Statesman, even though I must concede that the newspaper may be sympathetic to the cause of the party just like Palaver and The Ghanaian Democrat, et cetera -- [Interruption.]
Mr. Speaker 11:55 a.m.
Hon. Minority Leader, I shall be grateful if we avoid mentioning persons who are not hon. Members here.
Mr. Bagbin 11:55 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the point is well taken that it is because of the shout of “mention names” that led to my mentioning his name, if not, I would not have done that. But I was watching the television when the debate was going on when there was no appointment of a Minister from the region and that was his reaction. That is why I mentioned the name.
Mr. Speaker, I think that this Statement has come at the right time. And it is important also for people to know that
Mr. David oppong-Kusi (NPP -- ofoase/Ayirebi) 11:55 a.m.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for the opportunity given me to make this Statement. I would like to address the vexed question of the Parliamentarian's role in our emerging democracy.
Mr. Speaker, article 93 (2) of the 1992 Constitution states in part, and I quote 12:05 p.m.
“. . . the legislative power of Ghana shall be vested in Parliament and shall be exercised in accordance with this Constitution.”
The exercise of the legislative power includes the passing of Bills, approving of statutory instruments as well as regulating professional, trade and business organizations in accordance with articles 106 (1), 11 (70) and 109 (10) of our Constitution. Parliament as an independent body has an oversight responsibility over the Executive and also provides a forum for debating national issues. The Member of Parliament (MP) is also a lobbyist for his or her people and for a number of interest groups.
Mr. Speaker, beyond these documented and well-known roles, the Parliamentarian in this country has wider and deeper roles flowing out of the expectations of his or her constituents and the wider public. These roles have neither been documented nor openly acknowledged. This has to be
The role of the Parliamentarian in our part of the globe has been subjected to lots of debate over the years with some calling for the education of the general populace to accept that the MP is basically a legislator. What the various debates have failed to do is to come out with a role definition in broad terms that will settle the issue once and for all to the satisfaction of all those with a stake in the work of an MP, particularly our constituents.
Mr. Speaker, MPs in this country are at various times faced with the prospect of having to play roles which are not considered traditional by the conventional definition of an MP. Every MP here had to go to their constituents for their mandate. Seeking the people's mandate implies an exchange of expectations, resulting in a kind of unwritten contract. We expected them to vote for us, which they did, considering that we are here. What they expect in return from us are usually left unclarified and most times becomes the source of the MP's problems with his constituents.
The MP's expertise as a legislator does not for now seem to feature prominently in the role perceived by his or her constituents. The pragmatic approach will seem to me, Mr. Speaker, the acceptance that we operate in a different political environment and must fashion our roles to meet, within reason, the unwritten and sometimes unspoken expectations of the people who have sent us here.
As the elected representatives of the people, we are called to fulfil several roles outside the Chamber arising out of the unclarified expectations of our electorate.
A publication by the Parliamentary Centre on “The Way Forward” for Ghana's Parliament observes and again I quote:
“MPs should be acting not only as politicians looking towards the next elections, but also as statesmen representing the general good of our society.”
Mr. Speaker, in our emerging democratic culture the MP is a leader, a role model, a manager, a mediator, a counsellor, a benefactor when the need arises, and many more. This is in part due to the fact that in our local communities there is a vacuum of civil and political leadership which is required to complement the abundance of traditional and religious leadership, thus creating an imbalance in social direction.
The MP is unconsciously but immediately expected to fill those leadership roles. Flowing out of this expectation of a leadership role are a number of specific roles that will depend largely on the area one comes from and the level of education of the people.
Mr. Speaker, I come from a very rural constituency. Hon. Colleagues who share similar backgrounds with me will agree that such roles could be many and varies and demanding of our time and resources, both financial and intellectual. To give a few examples:
One is a father figure and that requires a high visibility and a high sense of decorum and maturity. This requires one to frequent the communities in one's constituency and to interact with them frequently.
Naturally the MP will be the first to be invited to functions and this is to be expected.
One is a mediator in all kinds of disputes, and chief advisor to all manner of people on every issue under the sun.
You are required to play an advocacy role in bringing enlightenment and

development to your people, and many, many more.

It is my humble submission that the time has come for us in this House, through a wider debate involving civil society, to broadly define our roles to reflect the real roles we are either playing or are expected to play in fulfilment of these expectations. I am not necessarily calling for a constitutional amendment here but an open and frank debate that will establish a broad definition of our roles.

Mr. Speaker, the experiences of the immediate past electioneering campaign tells us that we cannot hide behind western definitions of the Parliamentarian and expect the electorate to understand. We may get to that level in future, but for now the cure is in the disease.

In this direction, constitutional bodies like the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) have a duty not only in educating the general populace on the constitution but to provide feedback on the actual expectations of the people. If need be, Parliament may mandate the NCCE to provide such feedback under article 233 (e) of the Constitution.

The Electoral Commission may also have to intensify its duty under article 45 (d) of the Constitution, which mandates it to educate the people on the electoral process and its purpose. I will here also mention the role the press can play in bringing together the views of all stakeholders on this issue.

Mr. Speaker, the new definition of the Parliamentarian must take into cognizance the roles expected to be filled by him or her outside of this Chamber and mostly within his or her constituency. It should also recognize our peculiar political

climate and not be a definition that will fit a Parliamentarian in the developed countries. Such role recognition will allow us to put the issue of resourcing the MP within its proper perspective that will be understood and accepted by everyone.

Most of the MP's come to this Chamber as professionals in Education, Law, Medicine, Engineering, Agriculture and so on. Mr. Speaker, resourcing the MP will mean enhancing his or her skills in leadership, communication, dispute resolution and other interpersonal skills. At our induction seminar, the hon. Majority Leader hinted at the possibility of resourcing MPs to allow them to regularly visit their constituencies. It is my contention that a discussion on the provision of adequate resources should be preceded by a new difinition of the role of the Ghanaian MP in consonance with the realities of our time and culture. This will put any request for resources in its proper context.

Mr. Speaker, I will want to believe that the hullabaloo that surrounded the issue of car loans to hon. Members in the last Parliament and in this Parliament stemmed and stems mostly from the undefined role of the Parliamentarian or from a role definition that does not meet the expectations of the Ghanaian voter. That perception will change when voters come to perceive that they are getting value for their money. This can be achieved when we define our roles in a way that seeks to align our work with the expectations of the Ghanaian voter.

Mr. Speaker, it is part of our roles as leaders to carry the nation's vision, as given by the President in his State of the Nation Address, to our constituents and help translate its contents into action plans that can be followed by our people in our search for development. There are obstacles to clear, bridges to build and mountains to scale. There is real work awaiting us as the elected representatives
Mr. Haruna Iddrisu (NDc -- Tamale South) 12:15 p.m.
Mr. Speaker, thank you very much for the opportunity to associate myself with the Statement made by the hon. Member, and in particular to congratulate him for bringing the plight of this august House and its hon. Members once again to the fore.
Mr. Speaker, first of all, it affords me the opportunity to repeat my call for the scrapping of the Ministry for Parlia-mentary Affairs as appropriately recommended by the African Peer Review Mechanisms (APRM) Report of the African Union and the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) that one of the institutions of governance, indeed, a critical institution is the Legislature.
Mr. Speaker, the Speaker of Parliament, in my view, as the third most important personality, is the Leader of this House. Whilst we may acknowledge the separation of Majority and the Minority, nomenclatures such as the Ministry for Parliamentary Affairs, which is the creation of the previous National Democratic Congress (NDC) Govern- ment, it should not be part of our new process of deepening democracy in this country.
But Mr. Speaker, I have a few concerns with some of the issues that the hon. Member raised. I believe strongly that hon. Members do appreciate the role of Members of Parliament. Quite apart from the process of law making which we are
primarily associated with, Mr. Speaker, we do have deliberative role. We do have an oversight responsibility of the Executive that we do always when we are examining the Budget and many other related issues.
But Mr. Speaker, I was even disappointed yesterday that we took another step in approving a loan to support Members of Parliament. My disappoint- ment stems from the ad hoc measures in ensuring that Members of Parliament are able to work. It ought to cease; for how long -- From the period 1992, 1993, 2001 till date, we have always resorted to ad hoc mechanism in dealing with issues that affect hon. Members.
Many of the previous Members of Parliament, those who are just out, our predecessor Parliamentarians as we know, are “struggling” because their conditions of service -- Mr. Speaker, if you would permit me to refer to article 71 (1) (a) of our Constitution which mandates the Executive, in particular, the President -- Mr. Speaker, with you indulgence, I want to refer to that particular article in my contribution to this issue. Mr. Speaker, I beg to quote:
“71. (1) The salaries and allowances payable, and the facilities, and privileges available, to --
(a) the Speaker and the Deputy Speakers and Members of Parliament.”
I emphasise just clause 1 (a) of that provision.
Mr. Speaker, for how long should Members of Parliament be going through every other year of an ad hoc measure to deal with a particular ill only for it to reoccur in another four years? We need to confront the issue head-on. If we are unable to do it on the basis of capacity, let us say so, but this perennial ad hoc mechanism -- we approve a loan, and the public because of their misunderstanding of the role of Members
of Parliament would bash us; they use all kinds of language to discuss Members of Parliament.
Mr. Speaker, I th ink that the constitutional provision under article 71 is mandatory and it is about time we gave particular meaning to our constitutional provisions as a way of strengthening Parliament. Mr. Speaker, if you look at this House, committee meetings are done most of the time at the lobby and in the quarters just around us. It is not any respectable forum at which hon. Members can critically examine Bills that are brought here.
Indeed I am surprised, Mr. Speaker, that the building just outside here, since the departure of your predecessor, Mr. Speaker, much has not been seen by way of execution of that wonderful project which was being earmarked for the purpose of ensuring that hon. Members had decent facilities, especially for the purpose of committee work.

Quite apart from that, even the work on the Job 600 is stagnated, we do know that the problem had been running over in the last decade or more and yet we were unable to fix it.

Whilst I congratulate the maker of

the Statement, I believe strongly that the role of the Member of Parliament is not in any doubt. Our dilemma is that we are torn between the national interest and serving partisan interest, as many of them, including the hon. Member, may do at times, and also the conflict of meeting the desires and requests of our constituents, who are also at the other level. But nonetheless, Mr. Speaker, I think what is important, as I associate myself with the Statement, is that we must begin to develop bipartisanship, that we should

begin to develop consensus so that we have both sides of the House cooperating in the national interest.

With these few comments, I would like to congratulate the maker of the Statement.
Mr. K. A. okerchiri 12:15 p.m.
(NPP --
Nkawkaw): Mr. Speaker, I think that there are some issues that the maker of the Statement has raised which are very important. But where I take issue with him is this: I think that we are all certain in our minds about the role of a Member of Parliament, as the hon. Member for Tamale South (Mr. Haruna Iddrisu) has already said. My beef with him is the proposition that we must align our role with the aspirations of our people.
Mr. J. A. Ndebugre 12:15 p.m.
On a point of
order. Mr. Speaker, I have been trying to restrain myself because the hon. Member who just spoke is my very good Friend, he once upon a time introduced me to some fufu bar at Nkawkaw -- [Laughter.] Notwithstanding that, I want some guidance from the Chair. I believe the Standing Orders do not allow argumentations in the process of contributing to a Statement but I heard my hon. friend say that he was taking issue with the maker of the Statement and I wanted to rise, hoping that he would veer
Mr. Speaker 12:15 p.m.
Thank you very much.
Hon. Deputy Majority Chief Whip, you know you are to comment.
Mr. okerchiri 12:15 p.m.
Mr. Speaker, what I
am doing is that, I am calling for some clarification as to the kind of - What else we need to do, he must clarify it. What is it that we need to do to align our roles with the aspirations of the people? I want to know. That is all that I am calling for and nothing else.
Mr. osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 12:15 p.m.
a point of order. Mr. Speaker, the hon. Member who just spoke is a Deputy Whip and not a Deputy Chief Whip, with respect. [Interruptions.] There is only one “Chief” and the hon. Colleague is a Deputy Whip - [Laughter.]

Mr. Speaker, that is the point of order that I just wanted to raise.
Mr. Speaker 12:15 p.m.
You know the answer;
that is not a point of order.
Mr. Lee ocran (NDc -- Jomoro) 12:15 p.m.
Speaker, I will want to associate myself with the Statement made by the hon. Member from the other side of the House.
In fact, about three weeks ago a workshop was held for the parliamentary leadership at Swedru where the issues that he has raised were seriously discussed
and the document is being prepared for Parliament. The fact is that Parliament as an institution has not had the opportunity to develop because of the various military interventions that had occurred over the years, whilst the Executive had always been there; whether under civilian administration or under military administration we have a Chairman or a President, we have Ministers or Secretaries or Commissioners -- whatever you may choose to call them; but Members of Parliament have not been there.
Anytime there is a military interven- tion, Parliament suffers; “Parliament is dissolved”, the Executive is replaced but Parliament is not replaced. So these were some of the issues that were discussed at Swedru. This morning someone called to ask me why Members of Parliament should approve loans for themselves. So I asked the person, have you ever asked why the Executive provides vehicles for itself? Ministries, Departments and Agencies provide vehicles for themselves but Members of Parliament are asked to buy vehicles to use to perform functions for the State.
The person could not answer; I said, “Do not ask me those questions again”. But it is all because people do not understand the role of Parliament. So I believe that this issue of the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs is a very big issue -- That is where the confusion begins, where our leader is part of the Executive; when our leader is part of the Executive, one arm becomes part of another arm, there is a problem - [Interruptions.] The hon. Majority Leader, let me call him so -- [Interruptions.] When I say our leader -- the Majority carries our voices to the Executive but it should not be so. Parliament should be allowed to exert itself and fight for its independence so that we are not -- [Interruptions.]
Mr. Speaker, the Majority Chief Whip is disturbing me.
Mr. Speaker 12:15 p.m.
Hon. Member for Jomoro, do not be distracted.
Mr. ocran 12:15 p.m.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker, when a Minister is appointed by a Committee from this House, the following day the Minister comes to this House in a four-wheel drive with a policeman sitting in front of his vehicle and yet people outside find it bad if Members of Parliament go to a bank, seek a loan for themselves that they will repay to buy vehicles to use for functions to which the state should have provided vehicles.
What type of business is this? It is
time this House exerted itself - After all, we approve the Budget for the Executive. Maybe, the day we will refuse to approve their Budget they will understand what Parliament is there for. [Hear! Hear!] Of course, there are people there who are afraid - I can see one of them pointing at me -- [Interruptions.] It is him; he is the person who is doing it. That man there -- [Uproar.] Mr. Speaker, that is the hon. Member for Kwabre East (Mr. Kofi Frimpong).
Mr. Kofi Frimpong 12:25 p.m.
Mr. Speaker, the hon. Member on the other side is casting insinuations and that is unparliamentary. Mr. Speaker, nobody is s coward here; nobody is afraid of anybody. We are just being scientific in our analysis.
Mr. Speaker, the idea of somebody being a Minister for Parliamentary Affairs here was not started by this Government; it was started by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Government, and at that time, Mr. Speaker, hon. Lee Ocran did not see anything wrong with that. If he is seeing something wrong with it now, today, I see it as he being too partisan in his approach because during his time, he did
not in any way point out why people -- or he was afraid at that time to point it out, or he was afraid that he would be beaten. Mr. Speaker, he is misleading the House.
Mr. Speaker 12:25 p.m.
Hon. Member for Jomoro, continue; that is not a point of order.
Mr. ocran 12:25 p.m.
Mr. Speaker, at that time I was not a Member of this House anyway but -- [Interruption.]
Mr. E. T Mensah 12:25 p.m.
Mr. Speaker, it is
a point of information and he has yielded to me. Mr. Speaker, the hon. Member has made some allusions, which are not correct, that we never objected to anything in this House. It is not right. There were several Bills that were blocked which never even came here. We were in the Majority at that time. And if you give me time, I would bring the information and you would know what I am talking about.
When the Value Added Tax (VAT) was first brought here, it was blocked by the Majority. When it was pegged at seventeen and a half per cent, our people said no way and it was blocked. The fuel price increase was blocked here -- [Interruptions] -- so it is not true that we never blocked anything here. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker 12:25 p.m.
Hon. Member, wind up.
Mr. ocran 12:25 p.m.
Mr. Speaker, I have always been saying that this House must exert itself -- [Interruption.]
Mr. K. Frimpong 12:25 p.m.
Mr. Speaker, hon. E. T. Mensah is attributing something to me, which I did not allude to. Mr. Speaker, I never mentioned any petrol price increases that were brought to this House. I am saying that the Ministry for Parliamentary Affairs was created by the NDC Government and they did not see anything wrong with that, and that if he sees anything wrong with it right
Mr. ocran 12:25 p.m.
Mr. Speaker, I want to wind up. Mr. Speaker, the issue of the Ministry for Parliamentary Affairs was raised by the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) Report, that it is irrelevant and should be scrapped, that is what I am saying. In any case, if the NDC created it and it is bad, it does not mean we should continue having a bad thing hanging around our neck. I want to remind my hon. Friend that in 1981, the People's National Party (PNP) Majority -- [Interruption.]
Mr. Speaker 12:25 p.m.
Hon. Member are you winding up?
Mr. ocran 12:25 p.m.
Yes, Mr. Speaker. The PNP Majority was in Parliament and yet they were able to block their own Government's Budget, and that is the independence of Parliament I am talking about. Mr. Speaker, I wish to associate myself with the Statement made by my hon. Friend and that we should be able to exert ourselves and no more be an extended arm of the Executive. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. K. K. Mensah (NPP -- Amansie West) 12:25 p.m.
Mr. Speaker, I want to associate myself with the Statement on the floor. Far too often, the Member of Parliament (MP) is perceived as a jack-of-all-trades -- I will not add a “master of none”. The MP is seen as a jack-of-all-trades by all people. For example, he is a financier. The MP is called upon to assist in paying bills, hospital bills, school fees, funeral bills and things like that. Sometimes, he is even seen as a visa contractor. He is called upon to facilitate the acquisition of travel visas. Goodness knows what consequences may await the
PAPERS 12:25 p.m.

Mr. Speaker 12:25 p.m.
Item 5 (b), by the Minister for Finance and Economic Planning --
Deputy Majority Leader (Mr. A. o.
Aidooh): Mr. Speaker, please, permit the Deputy Minister to lay the Paper on behalf of the hon. Minister who is not in.
By the Deputy Minister for Finance and Economic Planning (Dr. A. Akoto Osei) (on behalf of the Minister for Finance and Economic Planning) --
Development Credit Agreement between the Government of Ghana and the International Development Association (IDA) for an amount of SDR 84,200,000 (US$125.00 million equivalent) for the Third Poverty Reduction Support Credit
Referred to the Committee on Finance and Economic Planning.
Mr. A. o. Aidooh 12:25 p.m.
Mr. Speaker, before I move for the adjournment, if I may suggest that the first Paper that was laid, that is the Agreement between the Ghana Government and KHI 01 be referred to the Committees on Trade and Industry, Tourism and Finance. Mr. Speaker, having said that, I beg to move that there are about six committee sittings so if you may adjourn proceedings now for hon. Members to attend committee sittings.
Mr. J. A. Tia 12:25 p.m.
Mr. Speaker, I beg to second the motion.
Question put and motion agreed to.
The House was accordingly adjourned at 12. 33 p.m. till 7th July, 2005 at 10.00 a.m.