Debates of 9 Feb 2006

PRAYERS 10:15 a.m.




Mr. Speaker 10:15 a.m.
Order! Order! Correction of Votes and Proceedings, Thursday, 9th February, 2006. Pages 1…10? - [Pause] -- [No corrections made in the Votes and Proceedings.] Hon. Members, we have the Official Report for Thursday, 2nd February, 2006. If there are any omissions or comments kindly bring them to the notice of the Table.
Item 3 - Statements. Hon. Member for Kintampo North? -- [Pause.] Statement by the hon. Member for Ashaiman -- [Pause.]
Majority Leader (Mr. Felix Owusu-
Adjapong): Mr. Speaker, I have noticed that none of the Minority Members of Parliament is around and
I am wondering whether they have your permission to have any caucus or whatever meeting.
Mr. Speaker 10:15 a.m.
No, I have no knowledge
of --
Mr. Owusu-Adjapong 10:15 a.m.
Thank you
very much, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker 10:15 a.m.
At the Commencement of Public Business,
Item 4 -- Laying of Papers.
PAPERS 10:15 a.m.

Mr. Speaker 10:15 a.m.
Item 5 -- motions.
MOTIONS 10:15 a.m.

Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 10:15 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, we have also noticed that the press corps are not in the press gallery. Mr. Speaker, they are required to cover proceedings in Parliament. If the Minority has decided to organize a press conference, I think the primary responsibility of the press corps is to cover proceedings in this House and not to cover the proceedings of the Minority; I think that we would have to have a word with the press corps. Their primary responsibility is to this House and
not to the Minority outside the Chamber.
Mr. Speaker 10:15 a.m.
I refer this to the
Leadership of the House to deal with.
Mr. Dav id Apasera (PNC - Bolgatanga) 10:25 a.m.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for allowing me to contribute to the motion on the floor to thank His Excellency for the Address on the State of the Nation in this august House.
Mr. Speaker, it is very gratifying to
know that the State of the Nation is good and the general spirit is one of optimism. Mr. Speaker, as the President delivered his Address, I could see that this statement was quite true because the President was so relaxed and intermittently he smiled; and his smile was towards everybody including the Minority side. Mr. Speaker, where there is faith in a system, there is love; and where there is love, there is peace. When the President was delivering his speech I realized that there was love emanating from his mannerism and I realized that, that was a sign of good hope for this country.

I think the President deserves commendation for the manner he presented it. Certain times matters have been construed from outside when we are deliberating here, as if we are always fighting. The Government is doing all of its best to satisfy Ghanaians to push the country forward. And I believe that every politician has a duty to work hard towards this objective.

Mr. Speaker, on a serious note, in

fact, in the wake of the Iraqi war, when petroleum prices hit the skies, there was fear; people entertained some kind of reservations as to whether our economy
Mr. Dav id Apasera (PNC - Bolgatanga) 10:35 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, there is an expansion
in social infrastructure that has been undertaken by the Government, and that is a reality on the ground. And I think the Government deserves commendation for this. But like Oliver Twist, as we commend Government for having done so well we may still say that we are looking for more.
Mr. Speaker, if we look at infrastructure especially in the health sector, there is still a lot to do for Ghanaians. If we go to some of the hospitals, especially the Koforidua Government Hospital where I owe them very much for my recovery last year, we will see that they need a lot in terms of infrastructure. In fact, there is a tall list of patients that wait to attend to that hospital for specialist treatment.
The last time I was at Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, I sent a constituent to the Urology Department and in fact it was a sad thing to see specialist doctors, about six of them, sharing a cubicle. And in fact, the indication I got was that the specialists there are only able to perform operations once in a month, whereas they could have been doing it several times. So in the light of this, I think we will continue to call on Government to do more in the health sector.
Mr. Speaker, the Government policy on
education has been very good, the FCUBE programme has registered success. I think we have to commend Government for it and I pray that the next stage will be that the FCUBE programme would then see the compulsory aspect of it. Because, once Government is paying and making
education free from the day nursery level, at least, we should compel parents to send their wards to school.
The support for teachers, means of transport, study leave, distance learning education, home ownership scheme - Mr. Speaker, sometime back when I completed secondary school and I was doing pupil teaching, they used to tell us that teachers' reward was in heaven. But with this system in place I strongly believe that the profession will no longer be seen as a profession where your reward will be in heaven; your reward certainly will be here too.
Honestly, in comparing the per- formance of pupils in the private schools as against those in public schools, there has been a real kind of disparity. It certainly appears that children in private schools would have acquired greater knowledge at the end of JSS than those in the public schools. And I think that certain times some people are of the contention that it is because the teachers are not motivated well enough that is why this has been the trend.
It is my hope that with this policy of Government teachers wi l l be highly motivated; and I believe that as Government is also introducing the Inspectorate Division, independent of the Ghana Education Service (GES), it will go a long way to solve this disparity. Actually, education is supposed to facilitate social mobility but the trend it has taken, it has been simply maybe, stratifying the society. But if there is a backup from the public sector then we are sure that this disparity will be a thing of the past.
Mr. Speaker, the Students Loan Trust
is an important step that Government has taken or has put in place and my prayer is
that at least the loans that will be given to students will be enough to actually pay off the fees that they have to pay for university education. In fact, for two years now some of us, our common fund, a major part of it, has gone to fund student fees and that is because the fees have become quite exorbitant and above the ability of most of the students.
Mr. Speaker, it is my hope that with the
Student Loan Trust there will be relief for some of us with respect to our Common Fund so that we could engage in other areas of interest to our constituents.
Mr. Speaker, the agricultural sector
is still an area that we have to implore Government to pay serious attention to. We would recall that last year the Northern and Upper Regions, especially the Upper East Region, experienced great famine; this has always been a perennial problem. In fact, I believe that if the Government takes a more serious and maybe a scientific look at the agriculture in the north it will go a long way to solve the problem.
Because elsewhere in the world, people have turned desert land into arable land. The three northern regions are farming areas and so it is rather unfortunate that farming has ceased to pay and therefore these areas have become the most deprived areas. The African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) Report also points to this.
And so I would call on the Government again that they should focus on the agricultural sector, especially in the northern parts of the country. In fact, the amount of money that we spend in importing rice, that amount of money could be ploughed back into the three northern regions and the rice that we need to feed this country will be produced.
Mr. Speaker, Government's involve- ment in resuscitating VALCO and Juapong Textiles should be highly commended.
Mr. Speaker, this has been the kind of
thinking by some of us because when we went into the divestiture programme it made Ghana lose a lot of industries. In fact, the Meat Factory in Bolgatanga and the Tomato Factory at Pwalugu are of particular interest to me. These factories, even though they were operating very well have almost collapsed; the machines have been left there to rust. And to say the least, I do not suppose that anybody can now go there. I think that production can be started, only when the machines are refurbished.
So I always think that at certain times Government may have to intervene to resuscitate some factories, pending such time that we may have investors who would have interest in these factories to come in and take them over and run; otherwise, strategically we would be losing a lot.

In fact, every year farmers in the Upper East Region have been suffering the unfortunate situation where they invest a lot in tomato cultivation and at the end of the day they have a lot of harvest and yet they cannot sell; there is always a glut. Supposing this tomato factory was producing then it means that this particular problem would have been resolved. It would have given a lot of job opportunities to the farmers and to the youth over there. The amount of money that we spend in importing canned tomato would have been, maybe, ploughed back into the country. So Mr. Speaker, I still continue to raise this issue and to draw Government's attention to it and to hope that, as Government has taken this step concerning the Volta Aluminium Company (VALCO) and Juapong Textiles, a similar step would be taken to resuscitate
Mr. A. O. Aidooh 10:35 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I
am just wondering whether my hon. Colleague in fact understands what this Bill is about, in view of the way he is proceeding. Mr. Speaker, this Bill is aimed at amending a section of PNDC Law 284 which requires Ghanaians to be residing in polling stations before they can register. Now, when that is done it only means that from that time on a Ghanaian who resides outside can register. So we are just deleting the residential requirement in a polling station and the Bill itself does not contain any request or demand on the Electoral Commissioner (EC) to go outside and register anybody. The Bill, as it stands now, does not require the EC to go outside to register anybody. Secondly, the Bill deals with registration of voters. It has nothing to do with voting. And so my hon. Colleague's argument is baseless and highly confusing.
Mr. Apasara 10:35 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. Deputy Majority Leader for the intervention and the enlightenment. But the point is that when we put in a law with all the good intentions, if we do not put in place the mechanisms because of our good intentions, we are not going to have a system where we will have problems. In politics you may be good and you would not do it; somebody else comes and he thinks that he must exploit it to his interest, like we had in 1992. We were in Ghana and we had it and that is why some of us are very skeptical. My party's position is one of skepticism, because if we are even not prepared to do it now, we are not prepared to go into it then why even push it to a level that begins to give some perception of prejudice? It prejudices people and certain statements that are not good enough are pronounced. I think that - [Interruption.]
Mr. Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 10:45 a.m.
On a point of order. Mr. Speaker, as was pointed out to my hon. Colleague, I think he is misleading this House -- either he has not thoroughly adverted his mind to the content of the (Amendment) Bill before us or, perhaps, he has misunderstood the intent of the (Amendment) Bill.
Mr. Speaker, we in Parliament are
dealing with one limb of the issue, and that is the legal or constitutional issue that the PNDC law introduced; and that appears to obstruct the constitutional provision regarding voting or registration of voters. The other issues that are being peddled around relate to the implementation, administrative issues; and those ones are better left in the hands of the Electoral Commission (EC) which is the implementing agency.
As he knows, the implementation of the law, in order for it to be effective, would
be covered by the EC and that would be done by an Instrument or a Regulation which would definitely emanate from the Electoral Commission. What we are only doing here is to set the records straight, reconcile what the constitutional provision is and the enactment that was effected by the PNDC which appears to conflict with the constitutional provision. So our own concern is how to reconcile the two laws.
Regarding the implementation, yes, there may be difficulties, but the EC's obligation it is to bring to this House an Instrument which would really attend to the matters, germane as some of them are; and this Parliament would look at it. Mr. Speaker, that is the position and I believe my hon. Colleague would serve this House better if he adverts his mind to the two limbs of the argument. We are not concerned with the administration; we are concerned with the legal issues.
Mr. Speaker 10:45 a.m.
Hon. Member, I hope you may be winding up soon.
Mr. Apasera 10:45 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I will be winding up. I still feel that we also looked at it from this point of view because it is kind of a breach of the constitutional provision and I think that, to the extent that any law contravenes the Constitution, that particular portion is normally null and void. And this particular issue does not even need to be raised, because to the extent that the issue is against a provision of the Constitution, then we do not need to even make any amendment or bring it before Parliament; it is off. And anybody could take the Electoral Commission to court to set aside that aspect of the law that goes against a provision in the Constitution, and that would e not have politicized this issue to the extent that it is going. This is because to the extent that it is going, it is certainly polarizing
Mr. A. O. Aidooh 10:45 a.m.
On a point of order. Mr. Speaker, I am happy he is making that point. I definitely share the same views, but that also shows the line he is taking with his position. If this law were not passed and a Ghanaian goes to court to set aside or to have PNDCL 284 sections 7 and 8 nullified, would there be war in the country? But that would have achieved the same effect.
We want to amend the law, as my hon. Colleague said, to have them synchronized. Assuming we do not do that and a Ghanaian goes to court and the court declares sections 7 and 8 of the PNDC law nullified, would there be war? And that is why we are saying that what we are doing has nothing to do with the views he is expressing and that there cannot be any chaos created, because the two laws have been reconciled.
Mr. Speaker 10:45 a.m.
Hon. Member, I note you are concluding.
Mr. Apasera 10:45 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, at certain times, contentious issues border on convictions and perceptions and it is always difficult to arrive at a consensus on them, but I appreciate their explanation and intervention. Albeit, we, my party and I, still think that we should try as much as possible to reach a consensus on this issue as, a country. We should reach a consensus on this issue because, as the President rightfully said in his Address, our peace, the peace that we enjoy, the stability that we enjoy in Ghana has become an envy, it has become like a model and Ghana is pointed to as one of the most stable countries in Africa, if not West Africa.
Investors are flocking into the country; that is a good sign for the economy of the country and I think that whatsoever
Mr. Yaw Baah (NPP - Kumawu) 10:45 a.m.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for offering me the opportunity to contribute to the State of the Nation Address by His Excellency.
His Excellency, in his submission or address to us, touched on various issues which are fundamental to propel this country forward, and in my submission the area which I would like to touch on first is that of the Representation of the People's (Amendment) Bill which is before this House.
A lot has been said about this Bill, especially with regard to timing. But Mr. Speaker, with your indulgence, everyone is aware that the law that regulates the conduct of elections in this country is PNDCL 284, and there are some articles in this law which are inconsistent with the fundamental law of the land. I am referring to article 1 (2) of the Constitution. Mr. Speaker, with your indulgence, I would like to refer hon. Members to article 30 of the Transitional Provisions of the 1992 Constitution:
“The first President under this Constitution may, at any time within twelve months after assuming office as President, by constitutional instrument, make such provision as may appear necessary for repealing, modifying, adding to or adapting any law for bringing it into accord with
the provisions of this Constitution or otherwise for giving effect to this Constitution.”
Dr. A. A. Osei 10:45 a.m.
On a point of order. Mr. Speaker, my hon. Colleague referred to article 30 and I am trying to follow him, but article 30 does not - [Interruption.]
Mr. Speaker 10:45 a.m.
Hon. Deputy Minister for Finance and Economic Planning, he said “Transitional Provisions.” Please go ahead.
Mr. Yaw Baah 10:45 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, this very law which is supposed to regulate the conduct of elections is a little bit discrimination. Why do I say so? Not even to those Ghanaians outside but rather Ghanaians who are even resident here - [Interruption.]
Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 10:55 a.m.
On a point of order. Mr. Speaker, the provisions under the Transitional Provisions are not referred to as articles. My hon. Colleague is a lawyer and he knows that - [Interruption.]
Mr. Speaker 10:55 a.m.
Hon. Majority Chief Whip, we know what he is referring to - [Laughter.] Let him continue.
Mr. Yaw Baah 10:55 a.m.
Hon. Chief Whip must know that I am also a human being so I may - [Laughter.] -- Thank you for your correction, anyway./ This very law, apart from discriminating against Ghanaians outside, also discriminates against some Ghanaians who are resident in this country, and I would refer, Mr. Speaker, with your indulgence, to section 7 (5), especially the second line, of PNDC Law 284 regarding Ghanaians who are in legal custody. If you look at the second line that I am referring to it states and, Mr. Speaker, I beg to quote:
“That a person who is detained in legal custody in any place shall not be treated as a resident there for the purposes of this section”.
May I pause and ask - In this very country inmates in prison, those who have been legally tried, convicted and sentenced are less than those who are inmates but who are on remand. Given this scenario, if there are seven thousand Ghanaians and majority of them are still on remand, having their cases pending to receive justice, do we need to deny them the right to vote? It is on record that due to slow administration of justice in this country, we have some inmates who have been in the various prisons for more than fifteen, twenty years waiting for their cases to be heard; and most of them have been in these places for over 12 months or 6 months.
So by virtue of this, if I am a Ghanaian and I have been under suspicion and legally placed in custody, why should this constitutional right of mine be taken out simply because I would be failing the residency test? It is neither here nor there.
So we see the two sides of it that it does discriminate not only against Ghanaians who resident outside but also Ghanaians who are here and have been placed to see justice. And this is the reason why I do support that there is the need for this area of the law to be amended to bring it in line with what is contained in the Constitution.
Mr. Speaker, we are all aware that there are problems here and there regarding the implementation of this law. But before then on this issue. I remember in November 2002, the Electoral Commissioner (EC) was here to address the House, in camera, and he stated categorically that the EC could only go ahead to extend the franchise to Ghanaians outside when the first thing had been done; and the first thing is to first create the legal limb. When
I say “the legal limb” that is curing the defects so far as the PNDC Law 284 is concerned.
So it is only through this legal limb that the EC would be in a position to implement this, because the EC, at no point in time, can ever on its own volition determine through the Electoral Commissioner, that it is extending constitutional rights of voting to Ghanaians outside. The actual work must be done and we need to place these things on record that although he did mention it and he put it that before all these could be carried out there were both administrative and logistics difficulties to be considered; that does not necessarily say those issues must be addressed; a and that is the first thing to be done. It is rather the legal defects that must be corrected sos that the way will be paved, because the question so put is the issue which is supposed to be addressed by the EC itself.
Mr. Speaker, as I said, we all know the difficulty with this but regarding that of implementation and everything it is in the hands of the EC and this has been captured under article 51; that they are supposed to be aware of the administrative problems as to how the elections would be conducted, how it should be extended, in what form, whether presidential, parliamentary and whatnots. It is the EC's duty; they have got that power which is vested in them by the Constitution. It is no one's duty; it is rather the EC's and the EC does not work in isolation.
I think most of these problems that we keep on speaking of could be properly addressed when we have put in the legal backing for it to carry these things out so that at the Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) level we could thoroughly discuss them by resolving -m Because there is no timeline. And regarding implementation, it is the EC which is the only body that is supposed to let Ghanaians - It could

be the next four years; it could be the next five years; it could be the next ten or twenty years.
Mr. Asamoah Ofosu 10:55 a.m.
On a point of order. Mr. Speaker, I would humbly want to invite my hon. Brother to take his time so that we can follow the argument. Mr. Speaker, his contribution cannot be distinguished from a fight between two people - [Laughter.] We want to follow him.
Mr. Speaker 10:55 a.m.
Hon. Member for Kade, you are out of order.
Mr. Yaw Baah 11:05 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I will just forgive him because he has not been following what is going on, otherwise if a counsel is charged enough in court we see what he does.
Mr. Speaker, I was just referring to article 45(e) of the Constitution. Now among the fundamental jobs expected of the EC is undertaking programmes for the expansion of the registration of voters to Ghanaians everywhere. So if the EC is carrying out this duty, what stops them? We are all aware of the concern that has been expressed regarding this, but as to the timing, it belongs to the EC. At the moment we do not have national identity cards and among the qualification of a citizen, they will be looking at all these issues.
Some of us feel these issues will be properly ironed out at the IPAC level so that At least, some of us seven expected that we could even decide on it as to the timing. People say time is snot ripe enough, but when we have had this democratic dispensation for the past 13 years, what are they telling us; as the Constitution enjoins us to attend to this important thing? We have had this democratic dispensation for 13 years, so what are we waiting for? When is when? This is the right time that the right thing must be done. We need to start these things so that we will be able to move on from here.
Mr. Speaker, another area which was touched on by his Excellency, which is very dear to my heart and which I want to touch on is the issue of corruption. With the coming into power of this Government, I think a lot of measures have been put in place and the Government too has been doing its part to make sure that this canker which has been institutionalized in the various sectors of the economy, if not uprooted, will be seriously attended to. The President And I side with the President, especially when he made this statement that one does not have to report to the President, otherwise the whole governmental machinery would break down.
T h e r e a r e v a r i o u s a g e n c i e s , constitutionally created agencies, which are supposed to attend to these problems. If we look at the budget of the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), and others since we came to power their budgets have been quadrupled; and these are matters we are supposed to attend to. What some of us feel and we are happy that the Right to Information Bill and the Whistle-Blowers Bill will be passed in this very Session.
I hope that all these things will be
attending to such problems. But as to what people are saying about going to the presidency to report cases of corruption, it is neither here nor there. And nowhere, I do not think any society Otherwise, the whole governmental system will break down. The police are there, and even the President has gone to the extent of revamping the Office of Accountability so that some senior colleagues or Ministers who might have indulged in any malfeasance could be reported to this Office which has been created under his ambit or his outfit over there.
And if people are saying we are to report every case to the President, then where are we moving to as a nation? I think it will not be very good because the whole governmental machinery will break down if we were to take these matters to his Excellency's Office.
Mr. Speaker, another area which the President hammered home and which is also of vital importance is the Ghanaian culture of non-maintenance. This problem has been synonymous with our development, dating back to Independence. If we go to the various districts, to the capital, come to Accra, cantonments and all these areas, we have abundance of government bungalows, government offices which are now in a state of disrepair.
We are not paying attention and these bungalows, and offices are sitting idle, whereas we keep on clamouring for new ones. Therefore, it is for good reasons that His Excellency has noticed this and has decided to turn the Peduase Lodge and the Flag Staff House into modern edifice.

I am saying this - And even what appears to me as the gift of the year is that of the Flag Staff House, talking of the

concessionary grants that we have. Hardly do we get such good terms, because on the whole, loan agreements, we have over 40 per cent of the component being a grant. And what is a grant? A grant is a gift. So if people are making noise here and there, it is neither here nor there and it is always the best that His Excellency does for the nation.

Mr. Speaker, I will wind up by touching on the necessary measures that the Government is putting in place to ensure rapid development regarding the policies and programmes of the Government.

We all realize the importance of the private sector in our socio-economic development; liquidity has always been a problem to especially many aspiring business men and women and therefore with the Venture Capital Fund in operation, as well as the Development Fund and lastly the off-shore accounts or off-shore funds which are yet to be set up with Barclays - I think with all these measures and ideas, the net effect is that it makes money available to Ghanaians for a proper take-off.

With these few words, Mr. Speaker, I thank you for offering me the opportunity.
Mr. S. K. B. Manu (NPP - Ahafo Ano South) 11:05 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, O rose to support the motion calling on hon. Members of this House to thank the President for his recent State of the Nation Address read in this House.
Mr. Speaker, in doing so, the President made a statement which gladdened my heart at page 6 of the Address. Mr. Speaker, there he said, “…investing in people, investing in jobs”.
Mr. Speaker, this goes to tell Ghanaians that the NPP Government has realized that if it invests in people, if it gives
Mr. Manu 11:05 a.m.
They say that when bones are mentioned, old ladies quiver and shiver - [Laughter.]
Mr. Speaker, another thing that the teacher training colleges are seeing under the NPP Government is that mathematics and science teaching and learning is being facilitated to make students love those
Mrs. Cecelia Dapaah 11:15 a.m.
On a point of order. Mr. Speaker, my hon. Colleague -- [Interruptions.]
Mr. Balado Manu 11:15 a.m.
Old men and old women.[Interruptions]
Mrs. Dapaah 11:15 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I think my hon. Colleague has adequately corrected himself.
Mrs. Frema Osei-Opare 11:15 a.m.
On a point of order! Mr. Speaker, I am an old lady and I do not quiver when I hear bones being mentioned.
Mr. First Deputy Speaker 11:15 a.m.
Are you really an old lady? I do not believe you are an old lady.
Mr. Balado Manu 11:15 a.m.
To every rule there are a few exceptions and she could be one.
Mr. Speaker, as I was saying, committed
to this policy of making the teaching and learning of mathematics and science friendly to our students, Government has designated 15 of our teacher training colleges to specialize in the teaching and learning of mathematics and science.
Again, this the President did not
mention in his Address but I know, as Chairman of the Education Committee, what the Government is doing. In tune with Government's policy of good neighborliness, The Government has also designated some teacher training colleges like Mount Mary Training College, where I was trained in the teaching of the French language, and Wesley College, among others, to specialize in the teaching of the
Mr. Speaker, Sub Section 2 of this Article states and with your permission I quote 11:15 a.m.
“The Government shall, within two years after Parliament first meets after the coming into force of this Constitution, draw up a programme for implementation within the following ten years, for the provision of free, compulsory and universal basic education.”
Mr. Speaker, two years after the Constitution came into force, the NPP Government was not in power and I therefore do not know whether any programme was drawn up for the implementation of the (FCUBE) as we are enjoined by the Constitution to do. But what I know, and what we are all witnesses to is that ten years after that, this Government, which happens to be ruling in the tenth year of the Constitution has
Mr. Speaker, Sub Section 2 of this Article states and with your permission I quote 11:25 a.m.
implemented the FCUBE in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution. And in doing so, the Government has in accordance with the Constitution included kindergarten to the main stream of our primary school sector.
Mr. Speaker, some people, who may not have found their way into this Chamber today, have spoken against this laudable idea that it is waste of funds to include kindergarten in the mainstream of our educational system. Mr. Speaker, kindergarten is taking children who are four years old - This is very crucial in the formative years of every child and it is a laudable idea that Government has taken charge of this aspect of education and it is giving it the needed attention.
Mr. Speaker, the capitation grant was one area that the President spoke about in his Address. Many are those who have made some negative comments about the capitation grant. Some have said the money is inadequate; some have said it has not been extended to children in private schools. Mr. Speaker, Government's obligation in providing education is to the public sector, at least, for now. If with time, as the Constitution says and which I quoted, funds or resources are made available, then Government may consider extending it to the private sector.
The Capitation Grant - We are told that, ¢95 billion had been sent to all public primary schools in this country and this has brought about increment in enrolment. Again, it has also contributed to the retention of these children in the schools because if a child went to school feeling hungry, some of them ran home to see if their mothers had cooked some food back home and this created problems of retention. So with the capitation grant in place now, it has increased enrolment
and also ensured retention in our schools.
Mr. Speaker, the teacher who is the prime agent of education in this country was not left out in the President's Address. The welfare of the teacher was discussed in the President's Address and I want to thank the President for that.
The President in his Address noted that study leave will continue to be granted to teachers on quota basis, I think this is a good idea. All teachers can not be given study leave at a go; our resources are not enough to do that. And even if our resources were enough to do that, giving study leave en masse to all teachers at a go would have rendered our classrooms empty. So the quota basis is a good idea and I believe Government will live up to this and teachers will also embrace this good idea by the Government.
Mr. Speaker, for reasons advanced that teachers cannot all be given study leave at once, Government has accepted to pay the tuition fees of teachers who decide to enroll in distance learning. I think this is a very laudable idea and if Government had not done this, today, I would have used this opportunity to call on Government to do that because if a teacher decides to improve himself or herself by enrolling in distance learning and still remains and contributes to the teaching of our pupils, I think he deserves to be given something that would motivate him. So this is a good idea and Government should be commended for that.

Not only that, Mr. Speaker, hirepurchase facilities are being made available for teachers to buy their own vehicles and also own houses. Mr. Speaker, hitherto it was unthinkable that a teacher could also own a vehicle. Most teachers wrote off that possibility of owning a vehicle as well as

owning a house in this country. The best we teachers could do was to rent rooms in people's houses. So today if Government has come out with this idea of enabling teachers to purchase their own cars and also own houses, then one cannot but commend Government.

However, let me sound a word of caution

here that the leaders in the education enterprise should not monopolise this as has been the case in the past with the car loan scheme that teachers were supposed to have. More often than not we saw the big men and women in the cities who made themselves available for these facilities and the poor teacher, the one who was in the rural area and who most needed the vehicle, was not given the loan. He did not even know about the existence of that facility. So I want to sound a word of caution here that this facility should be extended to the teachers in the rural areas.

I have heard somebody say behind me - my ears are very good - that wote akurase a wode vehicle re yeden? Please, it is they who most need the vehicles because some of them are found in places where public vehicles or the GPRTU buses or commercial buses do not even go to and yet there is a school there and the teacher has to go there and teach. Please, they most need the vehicles and they must be aided to get them.

Now Mr. Speaker, one cannot wish for all good things and not have to also fulfil some obligation. Mr. Speaker, we are saying all these things for teachers. One must say that teachers must also live up to expectation in the performance of their duties by abiding by the professional conduct, the code of conduct for the professional teacher. There have been instances where some teachers have fallen foul of the code of conduct of their profession. We urge them to abide
Mr. Yaw Baah 11:25 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of correction. His Excellency said in his Address that we were going to introduce a division which will be independent of the one already in existence with GES, but he did not say he was taking it from the GES to the Ministry of Education. That is the correction, Mr. Speaker. If you check from page 8, it has been captured vividly over there.
Mr. Manu 11:25 a.m.
Yes, Mr. Speaker, I would like to read for my own information:
“In line with this, a re-introduction of the Inspectorate Division,
independent of the Ghana Education Service (GES) is contemplated to ensure that this expectation is met.”
Just as my hon. Colleague who interrupted me wanted us to know -- he is a lawyer and I am a teacher, and not just a teacher, the Chairman of the Education Committee and by that I am closer to the Ministry and the GES and I know - maybe it is a privilege information that the contemplation is to give that division to the Ministry of Education. So my Brother the learned man may want to learn from the teacher who is in control of affairs when it comes to education in this House.
Mr. First Deputy Speaker 11:25 a.m.
Hon. Manu, we are debating the text of the Address. Maybe you have some other knowledge but we all do not know much about that. So if your hon. Colleague is drawing your attention to the text I think it is correct and appropriate.
Mr. Manu 11:25 a.m.
Thank you, Sir. Mr. Speaker, somebody alluded to the - I would not say it is a fact because it was not a fact - Somebody alluded that not much was said about tertiary education in the President's Address. Mr. Speaker, the President talked about tertiary education and he talked about infrastructural development in our tertiary institutions. And today it is a living fact that if you go to our universities you will find new buildings that are being constructed for halls of residence and laboratories which are being put up, and also lecture theatres that are being funded by Government.
Again, there is serious attention to the laboratories in our tertiary institutions to enable our students have better laboratory work to equip them in the performance of their duties when they come out. Hitherto, our science students and doctors were finding difficulty in performing necessary
experiments in our schools.
Mr. First Deputy Speaker 11:25 a.m.
I thought you may be landing instead of winding up.
Mr. Manu 11:35 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, to add to what Government is doing to tertiary institutions, vehicles and buses are being given even to private tertiary institutions. This tells how Government is committed to tertiary education in this country.

Government has also set up the loan trust for students to take loans to finance their education. This is a very laudable idea and we encourage Government. And as we encourage Government, we want to also appeal to beneficiaries-to-be of these facilities that as they take the loans they should remember and be committed to repaying the loans so that the Fund would not get depleted, in order that posterity would also benefit from the Trust.

Mr. Speaker, the last point I want to make, which is very important, has to do with me and I know with many Ghanaians who want this country to move forward; and it is the golden jubilee celebration which the President talked about. Mr. Speaker, these days our cities have become
Mrs. G. E. Kusi 11:35 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, on a point order. Mr. Speaker there are so many male lunatics parading naked. So I want the hon. Member to stop using women as an example in this House.
Mr. First Deputy Speaker 11:35 a.m.
That is not a point of order, hon. Gifty Kusi. Continue hon. Member..
Mr. Manu 11:35 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I saw this because Ghanaians hold women in very high esteem and I whose three out of my four children are women-to-be - [Interruptions.] Women-to-be, I said. [Laughter.] I pay very much attention to matters confronting women. That is why I am coming out with this so that much attention would be paid - [Interruoption.]
Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 11:35 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the hon. Member on his feet now who is now, the Chairman of the Committee on Education and in the not too distant past was the Chairman on the Committee on Social Welfare, and whose responsibility, I believe, includes making recommendations to address this problem -- may I know from him what - [Interruption.]
Mr. First Deputy Speaker 11:35 a.m.
This is not Question time, hon. Member.[Laughter.]
Mr. Manu 11:35 a.m.
I wish I were a policy maker and not a legislator, I would have
Mr. First Deputy Speaker 11:35 a.m.
Hon. Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu again?
Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 11:35 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I think my hon. Colleague has completely misunderstood the powers of committees in this House. They are required to investigate such matters as he is alluding to and such enquiries may extend into legislation. Mr. Speaker, he knows this and for him to side-step this very important function of the Committee and tell us that that is not his responsible, I believe it is most unfortunate. Mr. Speaker, he may advert his mind to the Standing Orders of the House.
Mr. Manu 11:35 a.m.
I thank the hon. Majority Chief Whip and just to say that I wish I were still the Chairman of that Committee to be able to do that. But I know that hon. Okoh, alias Newmont, is capable of doing that and he would soon take it up with some of the gold proceeds in his area.
Mr. First Deputy Speaker 11:35 a.m.
Mrs. Grace Coleman, I saw you up. You have a point of order? What is your point?
Mrs. Coleman 11:35 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I think the Chairman of the Social Welfare Committee -- As a Chairman, he did his best under the circumstances. Now he is heading another committee and he is noticing something, perhaps something that did not come to his attention forcefully at the time he was the Chairman of the Social Welfare Committee. But now that it has come to his attention and he is bringing
it up, I think we should be grateful for the eye-opener.
Mr. Manu 11:35 a.m.
She will win.You have won already - [Laughter.] Mr. Speaker, the last point is that I am drawing the attention of the Minister for the Tourism and Modernisation of the Capital City to the fact that if we are going to celebrate the occasion amidst these lunatics then I do not think the celebration would achieve the great success that we are all praying for it to achieve and therefore something must be done. If one goes to other cities like Abuja one would never ever meet any of them. This is not to say that we do not have lunatics in that country or that city.
They have all been consciously moved out of the city; and what one man has done, another man can do it; and if that man was an African, another African can do it and do it even better. Mr. Speaker, that Ministry should address itself seriously to these lunatics in the city and something drastic should be done to rid our cities of them because they are a threat to our visitors, our tourists and even those of us who are Ghanaians and moving about. I think it is high time we arrested the situation and Ghana would be the beneficiary.
I thank you, Mr. Speaker, for the opportunity and I encourage everybody to join me in thanking His Excellency for giving us such a brilliant and thought- provoking Address.
Mrs. Cecilia A. Dapaah 11:35 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I was rising to give a bit of clarification to what my hon. Colleague has said about lunatics.
Mr. First Deputy Speaker 11:35 a.m.
Please, go ahead.
Mrs. Dapaah 11:45 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I do share with him the point that we should not have lunatics on our streets. But I would like to point out that the issue is not simply one of social welfare, it is also one of health. There are a lot of mental illnesses in our society that we do not recognise. So it is not just about people roaming around but sometimes people do have medical problems that need attention. But most importantly, I would like to draw attention to the inadequate resources for both the institutions of mental health and the Department of Social Welfare.
So as much as I share the concern I want to use this opportunity to also advocate that we do resource these institutions adequately so that they can live up to the responsibilities that we have given them. They are doing a lot and I know that even with the limited resources they are making an effort. But I think that we need to resource them better.

Deputy Minister for the Interior (Capt. Nkrabeah Effah-Dartey (retd): Mr. Speaker, thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to contribute to the motion on the floor.

Mr. Speaker, I just want to make a single contribution on one aspect o the President's Address. Mr. Speaker, the President talked about the need to build a proper and a fitting presidential office accommodation for the Head of State of Ghana. Mr. Speaker, the President made it absolutely clear that as a nation, today we do not have a well designed structure that is fit and proper for the Head of Government of this country. Indeed, for me, it sounds a bit unfortunate, that we are using premises built by our colonial rulers far back in the seventeenth century. It is these premises that we are using as of today as the seat of Government.

Mr. Speaker, the President quite clearly hit the nail on the head when he said that of all previous Heads of State of these country, none of them lived at the Castle - not one, not even President Kwame Nkrumah, not even President Limann, not Dr. Busia, none of them. Indeed, in the Second Republic when we had Mr. Edward Akuffo-Addo as President of this country, he lived in Peduase Lodge. He did not stay at the Castle. So the Castle, the way it has been constructed, the way it is built, the way it is structured, even its architectural design is not fit and proper to serve as the home of the Head of State of this country.

And Mr. Speaker, no matter the cost involved, unless we start, unless we lay the foundation, unless we take the first step we would never achieve anything. So it is important that as a legacy the President, John Agyekum Kufuor starts something and that is the reason why a decision has been taken to reorganize and renovate the Flagstaff House to become the official residential accommodation and office for the President of this country.

Mr. Speaker, I am saying this because when you go to a place like Monrovia, they have the Executive Mansion, built according to specifications for the Head of State of Liberia. When you go to the famous White House in the United States of America, it is a building which is the property of the entire American nation and anybody who aspires to become President of America would go and live in that structure. In fact, the White House is the symbol of American political power. In Ghana where is the symbol of Ghanaian political power?

In fact, Mr. Speaker, when you enter the castle, there is this dungeon below where slaves used to pass to enter into ships and be taken to the new world. Mr. Speaker, the castle should rather be preserved like how we are preserving the Elmina Castle
Mrs. Dapaah 11:45 a.m.

and the Cape Coast Castle as monuments of national history. But here, we are using this castle now as the seat of Government.

Mr. Speaker, it is most incongruous for a nation that prides itself as a country in Africa, as a natgion that blazed the trail for Independence on the continent of Africa and as a nation that has contributed so much to African pride and African prosperity.

Mr. Speaker, it is only fair and proper that as a nation we get our architects to design a correct structure and then preserve it as a symbol so that our young ones who are coming up, students and prospective future Presidents, even when they look at the building it would ginger in them a determination, an ambition, a desire to want to come and occupy the House, so that we would get the correct material, the best, the crème de la crème of our nation to want to become Head of Government. That, Mr. Speaker, would move our nation forward.

Mr. Speaker, for me, this aspect of the President's Address is so important that I think that for this and this alone, we should thank the President. I would urge the President that he should leave no stone unturned in making sure that this particular project takes off and is even completed during his time, in the remaining two and a half years of his presidency so that he can leave it as a beautiful legacy. Mr. Speaker, we must not forget that he is not building it for the New Patriotic Party; he is building it for the nation, Ghana, so that it does not matter who would come afterwards in the next ten, twenty, thirty, fifty years, whoever comes it would be permanent memorial, permanent structure, a home for the President of Ghana.

Mr. Speaker, with these few words I call on my hon. Colleagues to say a big

thank you to the President for his State of the Nation Address.
Mr. Simon Osei-Mensah (NPP - Bosomtwe) 11:45 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, thank you for offering me this opportunity to lend my support to the motion on the floor that this House thank His Excellency the President for delivering the State of the Nation Address to this august House.
Mr. Speaker, during “positive change chapter one,” the Government's attention was on five priority areas. Mr. Speaker, having achieved significant macro economic stability in this country, which is unprecedented in the history of this country, now the Government finds it prudent to zero in on three key areas, that is, human resources development, private sector and good governance. Mr. Speaker, the President and the Government did not only pay lip-service to these priority areas, but they have demonstrated that they have will-power, the capacity and the resources to ensure that these priorities are achieved in this country.
Mr. Speaker, in the case of human resource development, we know the massive resources the Government has put in place to ensure the realization of the FCUBE programme. The FCUBE programme is of significant importance to human resource development in this country in the sense that the basis of education starts from the kindergarten and the primary level. So if we are able to educate our people well, give them firm foundation, then they can build solid structures on these firm foundations. If the foundation is very weak, Mr. Speaker, I am afraid whatever structure that we put on that foundation the building definitely would collapse.
Mr. Speaker, not only has the
  • [CAPT. EFFAH-DARTEY (RETD): Government satisfied the constitutional provision, that is article 38 and article 25(1), but the Government still goes ahead in putting up a lot of educational infrastructure in this country to enhance human resources development. Mr. Speaker, apart from that, both in his Address and the Budget that was presented to this House, there is clear indication that the Government is going to ensure that all our teachers are well-trained and also incentives provided for them to accept posting to any part of this country to educate our children. Mr. Speaker, this is a noble step that is being taken by this Government to ensure proper and quality human resource development in this country. Mr. Speaker, when we come on to good governance, this Government has taken bold steps to ensure that the various provisions of the Constitution are implemented to the letter.
  • Mr. Edward Ennin (NPP - Obuasi) 12:05 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, thank you for giving me the opportunity to contribute to the State of the Nation Address presented to this august House by His Excellency John Agyekum Kufuor.
    Mr. Speaker, let me seize this opportunity to congratulate the President for presenting to in this House to give an account of the State of the Nation as prescribed by the national Constitution. Mr. Speaker, this shows that the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government under the leadership of His Excellency John Agyekum Kufuor has respect for the fundamental law of the land and also believes in the rule of law.
    Mr. Speaker, the President in his Address stated, and with your permission I quote 12:05 p.m.
    “The State of our nation is good.”
    And I agree with him hundred per cent on that line. The reason being that, Mr. Speaker, before the NPP Government took over in 2001, the state of our dear nation currency was very bad. The cedi had depreciated heavily as against other currencies, especially the dollar, and all of us here witnessed how prices of goods and services kept on changing daily. Businessmen and women found it cumbersome to plan; they normally rushed to buy the dollar and kept them because of fear of fluctuations.
    Mr. Speaker, most businessmen and women closed down their companies and shops and invested in Treasury Bills because they realized that investing in that line would make them earn more profit than they would for being in business to produce goods and services. And this resulted in serious unemployment and the Government was also not getting enough revenue because most of the companies were not in operation to allow the Government to tax them.
    Mr. Speaker, all I have said were not
    attributable external factors, as was being claimed by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Government, but to gross mismanagement by their Government. Mr. Speaker, what do we see today? Prices of petroleum products have gone up more than they were in the previous years on the world market, but yet what do we witness? The cedi has stabilized, interest rate have dropped; inflation rates has reduced, the banks are chasing people to come for loans to invest at a lower interest rate as compared to the previous years. Even last week the Governor of the Bank of Ghana
    Mr. First Deputy Speaker 12:05 p.m.
    It appears
    no one is at the moment ready to further contribute to the motion on the floor.
    Mr. Akwasi Osei 12:05 p.m.

    Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs

    (Mr. Akwasi Osei-Adjei): Mr. Speaker, I just want you guidance on this. In view of the fact that our hon. Friends are not here today, and I will say that it is an unauthorized strike - So if a strike action is not authorized, it means that it is not legal; and if it is not legal, are they going to be paid?
    Mr. First Deputy Speaker 12:05 p.m.
    I did not
    hear your last word - your question?
    Mr. Osei-Adjei 12:05 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, I
    would want your guidance on this. In the Ghanaian labour law, as it is, the practice is before one embarks on any strike, one would have to go through the Labour Commission to declare one's intentions of going on strike. And in view of the fact that our hon. Friends here did not turn up today, would you consider it as an illegal strike? And if it is an illegal strike would you also say that they will not be paid?
    Mr. First Deputy Speaker 12:15 p.m.
    Well, hon.
    Member, I think you wanted to seek my guidance and instead you are asking me a question. At the moment I am not too sure why mainly the hon. Members from the Minority Party (NDC) are not here so I will not be in a position to say anything. I am not sure they have declared to go on strike; all that I can see is that they are not here in the Chamber for some reason or the other. But at the moment I would not be in a position to say much about whether they are to be paid or not to be paid. I believe when we are fully seized with the facts of why they are not here - Maybe, some might decide not to come again; that will be another matter; but for today, they are not here. That is all I know.
    Mr. Maxwell Kofi Jumah (NPP -
    Asokwa): Mr. Speaker, I want to take this opportunity to support the motion on the President's State of the Nation Address to Parliament a couple of days ago. Mr. Speaker, I will just browse on a few points that were raised by the President. His Address brought back memories of his last Address to this House last year when he said:
    “This is a good time to be a Ghanaian.”
    Mr. Speaker, I have had over a year
    to reflect on that statement and I have
    attempted to look at it from every angle. I have attempted being a pessimist topunch holes in the Address made by the President last year so that I would have the opportunity to criticize my President this year. Mr. Speaker, as I reflected on this and looked at the performance of this Government throughout the year, I have to humbly submit that this is indeed a good Government.
    Mr. Speaker, I looked at the fact that for the first time in this country's history our Budget was presented months before the year actually started and I said to myself that indeed this is a Government that is about business. Because, if you look at our Budget, the essence of the Budget is to create a roadmap for the development of any institution and in that case for the development of our country. And a Government with foresight decides what it wants to do before it does it. This Government said before we step into 1st January, 2006, we know exactly what we are going to do, and put together a Budget. And Mr. Speaker, it was not an ordinary budget, it was an excellent budget that touched on the key points that Ghana needs to move forward.

    Mr. Speaker, we all remember the day that the Budget was presented, even before the Budget was released some of my good hon. Colleagues here, without even knowing where they were going, started criticizing. I was not surprised because even if they knew what was in the Budget they were still going to criticize. That is their modus operandi; that is how they operate and we expect that. We expect them to criticize even where there

    is no need for criticism; we expect them to criticize even where everything looks good and everything is good, just as we are seeing today.

    Mr. Speaker, yesterday I sat here

    and listened to contributions by my hon. Colleagues here. And the hon. Deputy Attorney-General and Minister for Justice made a presentation and he commented on the Representationof the People (Amendment) Bill. And [Inaudible] I said, he did not need to, because my point was that for anyone to be a Member of Parliament it is expected that he would have some brief knowledge of international history.

    Mr. Speaker, just to remind ourselves,

    Mr. Speaker, the famous Boston Tea

    Party -- for the right to vote; the Mau Maus -- for the right to vote.

    Mr. Speaker, the franchising of a

    human being for the right to vote should not be questioned, especially for those of us in this House who are here because we were voted for to represent the people of this country.

    Mr. Speaker, when I listened to the

    double speech outside this House, people who are being called “hounourable” because they have been voted for, organise press conferences and say they do not want other people to vote. Mr. Speaker, it is amazing.

    Mr. Speaker, I am so happy that the President has taken the correct stand. I
    Mr. First Deputy Speaker 12:25 p.m.
    know fifty years from now, somebody is going to read the Hansard and look at what we said here; that the people who stood for the right thing, who took a principled stand on democracy, the right to Vote -- I am happy my President is on the right side and I am too happy to be on that side with him.
    Mr. Speaker, the argument being
    peddled is that it is going to be difficult for people to vote, especially if they are in Alaska, it is going to be too difficult for people to vote because they are in Afganistan; it is going to be too difficult for people to vote because they are in South Africa. Mr. Speaker, if we were to extend that argument, then nobody else in Ghana other than the people in Accra will vote, because it is too difficult to vote if you live in Kuwait, Atonsu, Kumasi.
    Mr. Speaker, people living in the Afram

    Mr. Speaker, let us dismiss that

    argument. Mr. Speaker, the amazing thing about this argument is that, as we speak today, the election that brought us here, people who lived outside voted. They would want to keep quiet about that because if one happens to work for the Government in New York one is allowed to vote. If the Government sent some one to Cuba to study, that person is allowed to vote.

    So all we are saying is that if other people living in Canada who are Ghanaians are allowed to vote by this present law, just extend it to my step-child who was sent abroad by a cocoa farmer to study in the United Kingdom. It is an extension; we will use the same facilities that we are

    using now; nobody is saying we should do miracles. If it was right for Kojo Mensah who is called His Excellency to vote in Cairo, Egypt, why can Akwasi Dartey - [Laughter] who sweeps the streets in London not vote?

    Mr. Speaker, I do not want to dwell on

    that but this argument is so weak, it is so feeble that they would need walking sticks to keep it standing. That is why we see all these political gimmickry - walkouts and press conferences. Let us make our case to the good sense of the Ghanaian population and tell them we are doing what is right, that we have our facts right and let us battle on the battlefield with our minds. That is what we are supposed to do, not walkouts; and those press conferences will not do. My people in Asokwa voted me in here, and if I do not do the right thing here, they should vote me out.

    And in 2008, all of us, we are going to present ourselves to the electorate who voted us in here. They did not vote us here to wear suits and walkout, they voted us here to do what is right, to represent them and to make sure that democracy deepens in this country. That is exactly what we are doing here. This is the time to separate the weed from the chaff; this is the time to ask ourselves, are we doing this on principle? Even if I am going to be voted against, I am going to vote for this because it is the right thing and not politics.

    Mr. Speaker, just before I sit down, let

    Mr. Speaker, I would want to qualify

    my statement by describing myself, hon. Maxwell Kofi Jumah also known as Kofi Ghana. I am no angel and when I ran to be a Member of Parliament, I did not run to be the Archbishop of Asokwa. I ran to be a Member of Parliament, a real life human being, with failings and bad things

    that I occasionally do and pray to God that I do not do again.

    Mr. Speaker, but when it comes to corruption by public officials, we have seen it all in this country; it came to the peak on the eve of the elections in 2000.

    Mr. Speaker, we have seen corruption in this country. We may not talk about it, but we know corruption by Government officials, people who come in wearing chale wotes and now they know how to wear Louis Baton shoes and Layvan shoes. We have seen them. People who have lived at the backs of tax payers all their lives. They have never done any other job but to live on the backs of taxpayers all their lives and they are riding high in this country. [Hear! Hear!] Mr. Speaker, corruption? Let somebody else talk about it. Mr. Speaker, let somebody else talk about it.

    I would rather take it. If Mr. Lartey or some of those other people who have never been in power talk about corruption. But where it is coming from, Mr. Speaker, it has tainted the definition of corruption; it has a different meaning in this country.

    But I also want to pray that my Government, just as it has taken a principled stand on the People's Representation (Amendment) Bill, has taken a principled stand on the issue of public corruption. It amazes me when I see our Ministers stripped down all in the service of this country. We have seen Ministers in other governments, in other regimes in this country. We have seen them. I counted the number of cars in a former Ministry of Education and there were six official cars-- six -- [Interruption] - do not even talk about it. Mr. Speaker, and these people have the nerve to talk about corruption.

    Mr. Speaker, the Auditor-General's Report that is right here in this House, let us take one year, any year, let us probably toss a coin and pick any year and look at it, and we would not need to talk about corruption again because compared to them we are all angels in the New Patriotic Party ( NPP). All of us, everybody in the NPP is an angel, compared to them. Of course, we need to do more because this is a Government that aspires to do even better, even though it is doing good.

    Mr. Speaker, before I sit down, on the question of job creation, last night I drove down to Dansoman to my barber for a haircut - [Laughter] -- And somebody called me and said, “Please sit down, I will buy beer for you.” He said, “Honourable, sit down and I will buy beer for you.” And he said, “The reason I want to buy beer for you is that I left Germany some years ago to resettle in Ghana and I wanted to put up a petrol station. I started pursuing my desire in 1998 and then every step I moved somebody put a hurdle on my way. Then in 2001 some Government came in and I went to an officer, a public officer, a politician from this Government and the person said, “This is the golden age of business;” he just signed it. So when I see somebody from this Government, even though you are marginally attached to the Government I just want to say “thank you” and that is why I am buying you this beer.” This happened last night at Nso Nyame Ye Rest Stop or on the Dansoman-Sakaman Road. Mr. Speaker, the owner of the bar came in so you can go and verify. This is to buttress my point.

    This is a Government that has committed itself to creating the environment for free enterprise, to creating the environment for private development; a Government that says it is no business of Government to be in business. The business of Government is to create the right environment and all the countries that have progressed, that is
    Mr. Akwasi Osei-Adjei 12:25 p.m.
    On a point of order. Mr. Speaker, I want to draw my hon. Friend's attention to the fact that there is no country called Communist China. It is the People's Republic of China.
    Mr. Jumah 12:35 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, I thank him for the correction - former Communist China -- and I acknowledge it. Mr. Speaker, this Government, committed to the development of this country, has learnt the bitter lessons that we experienced in the sixties, the bitter lessons that we experienced in the seventies -- in the case of the sixties the management problems that we had with the former State Enterprises, in the seventies our inabilities to withstand the shocks of foreign price increases; and in the eighties and in the nineties, the revolutionary zeal of inexperienced citizens of this country. We had learnt these lessons. In 2001, the Government had learnt all these lessons and made sure that a solid foundation for the development of this country was put in place.
    Mr. Speaker, it is no wonder that when they talk about countries south of the Sahara that are beginning to shine Ghana is never left out. It is no wonder that the country that was almost a hopeless country -- because as we entered 2000, it was almost a hopeless country -- a country that was becoming a non-state, where institutions of Government were not
    working, none of them; a country where the smiles on the faces of the people had vanished -- Mr. Speaker, as we speak, the doors are beginning to open, not wide enough but they are opening. In fact, it is not even good for the door to open so wide so suddenly because as the saying that our grandmothers told us goes, when one wants to eat fufu one does not take the whole fufu and swallow it, one must cut it one at a time and then move on; and this is exactly what is happening in this country.
    Mr. Speaker, with these words I want to thank you for allowing me to contribute.
    Western Regional Minister (Mr. J. B. Aidoo): Mr. Speaker, I rise to lend my support to the motion and to also request that hon. Members thank His Excellency the President for the State of the Nation Address before us.
    Mr. Speaker, the State of the Nation Address itself addresses the expectations, the hopes and the aspirations of the people. So when we take the Address which is before us we have to look at it critically as to whether it is indeed addressing the expectations of the people, it is also addressing the hopes of the people, and it is addressing the aspirations of the people of this country.
    Mr. Speaker, one area which Ghanaians are very desirous of knowing and also among the international community, particularly those who want to invest in Ghana, is the area of the economy, that is, the economic performance. Mr. Speaker, anytime the performance of the economy under the NPP Administration is raised some people come up with the chorus that ya ate abre. But Mr. Speaker, the reality of the situation is that the economy has truly stabilized over the past five years. It is not mere stability; the stability has also been consistent. Until 2001 the growth of the economy was like a pendulum.

    In one year it would move up, the following year or two it would go down. But ever since His Excellency President Kufuor assumed office, the growth of the economy has been consistent. From 3.5 per cent it went through 3.8 per cent, gone through 4.7 per cent, 5.8 per cent, and now 6 per cent - very consistent.

    Mr. Speaker, inflation has also gone down and interest rates are going down. These are the ingredients which investors are looking out for in order to come to the country to do business. What is left is accelerate growth, and for us to have this accelerated growth I would want to draw attention to the President's Address which touched on diversification of agriculture.

    A large proportion of our population depends on agriculture and related activities. I must say that if we are going to diversity the agricultural sector we should not forget irrigation. Here, I would want to support the submission that my hon. Friend, the Member of Parliament for Bolgatanga made this morning, that we have to pay particular attention to irrigation in the north.

    Mr. Speaker, irrigation is one area where this country has not done much. It would interest you to note that just about a week or so ago I came from Egypt and we know that Egypt is a desert country. That country has made full use of the waters of the Nile, and as you drive from Port Said to Cairo, through the desert, through the sands of Egypt land you would see bananas being grown along the road. They cultivate rice in the desert. They are cultivating virtually everything in that desert. We do not have a desert; we only have savannah land so nothing prevents us from actually irrigating these lands to

    produce enough to feed this nation and then export.

    Mr. Speaker, we are even fortunate in the sense that in our case we have three big rivers. We have the Volta, we have the Pra, we have the Ankobrah and we even have the Tano. Mr. Speaker, we have not done much in resourcing the waters of these major rivers to ensure that we have production of food all year round, to increase productivity and therefore go move up in our bid to have accelerated growth.

    Mr. Speaker, ever since NPP assumed office we have been very privileged and God, that is nature, has been very kind to us for which reason we have had a lot of rainfall so food has been abundant. Maybe, I am not prophesizing any doom but if there should be any year where the rains, maybe, refuse to come, this country, certainly, will suffer. We do not have to wait for those days to come. Now that we have the rains coming and we have a lot of water running into the sea, in waste, we have to put our acts together and get enough irrigation in the country to increase productivity if we are truly to realize our dream of accelerated growth.

    Mr. Speaker, another area which I want to touch on is energy. Every country is propelled by cheap energy. If we have source of power, source of energy, that is electricity that is cheap, then we can do business as well as attend to social development. Fortunately for us the West African Gas Pipeline, as the President indicated, is to arrive here by the close of this year, that is December. Certainly, it is going to relieve most Ghanaian homes as well as industries and companies of the high cost of energy. But one thing which I want to draw attention to is our preparation towards secondary distribution of this energy.
    Mr. Jumah 12:45 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, the primary gas pipeline is terminating in Takoradi. I would want to urge my hon. Colleagues in the sector Ministries that we work hard to ensure that as soon as this line gets to Takoradi it is extended to the various important sectors, particularly the Mangyia Effaso area because we know we have this Osagyefo Power Badge there. Mr. Speaker, this multi-million plant is sitting there unattended to all because there is no gas to fuel it. It is my prayer that as soon as the gas gets to Takoradi it would also continue to Effaso Mangyia to enable the Osagyefo Power Badge to also generate additional energy for the country. Since it is terminating in the Western Region, I would want to use this opportunity to make some presentations for my region.
    Mr. Speaker, for industries in Takoradi, industries in the Tarkwa area and then the great cocoa industry in the Sefwi Wiawso area, I believe plans are afoot to get the line extended to the Sefwi Wiawso area, to Tarkwa, so that as soon as we get this gas in Takoradi, they would also have cheap and easy access to gas, not only for domestic purposes, but to open up cottage industries and other activities.
    Mr. Speaker, one other area which Ghanaians have been expecting our President to touch on is employment. The President did not just start with employment, but he touched on the Government's objective of investing in people. And investment starts not just with grown-ups; investment starts right from children and the development of our children, for which reason the Free, Compulsory Universal Basic Education (FCUBE) programme has been expanded to cover children who are of age to attend kindergarten school.

    Mr. Speaker, we know in most communities children wait until about the age of seven years, eight years before starting school. And honestly, if a child is going to school at the age of eight or seven years he may know more than the teacher and for which reason it becomes difficult for that child to actually build up the necessary faculties of becoming a very good school chap.

    But Mr. Speaker, experience has shown that if one starts school early and gets through the system he is likely to also become a very good scholar. So starting free, and not just free, but compulsory primary education with children at the age of four by this Government, I think is a laudable project which every Ghanaian must support. What is left now is with the implementation; and here again, I want to draw the attention of the sector Ministries to the fact that the necessary logistics, particularly infrastructure in terms of classrooms, are not there and here we will have to work very hard because you go to most communities, the classroom for kindergarten schools are simply not there. We will have to devote efforts and resources to this laudable scheme so that by the year 2007 when it will come into full swing, the four year old children will go to schools and will not be waiting under any tree or under any shed but will then have a proper classroom to do real school work.

    Mr. Speaker, another area which I would want to also touch on is support for our teachers. Mr. Speaker, honestly, if we compare notes with our neighbouring countries it is often said that teachers in Ghana are not well treated, but in this Address by the President, indications are that teachers will be supported or facilitated to acquire soft loans to have their own means of transport.

    Mr. Speaker, not only that, there is also a special programme for them to own

    their own homes. Mr. Speaker, the fact is that every Ghanaian, every working Ghanaian has the desire, first to, to have his own house and then to own a means of transport. If we can carry this laudable objective through, I believe we will be doing a very good service for the teachers of this country. Mr. Speaker, I want to believe that the necessary mechanisms will be put in place and there will be no impediments whatsoever in the way of this scheme so that teachers in this country would access and get the loans to have their own means of transport and also have houses in their places of choice.

    Mr. Speaker, when we look at all these things they are aimed at improving the welfare of Ghanaians, and as I said, these are the very ingredients of hope, the aspirations and the expectations which Ghanaians wanted to see in the State of the Nation Address and that is exactly what the President came here to do. Mr. Speaker, I want to rest my case here and thank His Excellency the President for coming here to fulfill what Ghanaians expected of him to urge all hon. Members of this House to thank His Excellency the President. Thank you for giving me this opportunity.
    Mr. First Deputy Speaker 12:45 p.m.
    Hon. Members, at this juncture I want to be advised by the leadership.
    Mr. A. O. Aidooh 12:45 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, I propose that we adjourn proceedings to tomorrow at 10.00 o'clock.
    Alhaji Malik Alhassan Yakubu 12:45 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, I second the motion.
    Question put and motion agreed to.
    ADJOURNMENT 12:45 p.m.