Debates of 10 Feb 2006

PRAYERS 10:20 a.m.




Mr. Speaker 10:20 a.m.
Order! Order! Correction of Votes and Proceedings of Thursday, 9th February, 2006. Pages 1. . .9? Hon. Members, we have the Official Reports for Friday, 3rd February, and Tuesday, 7th February. If you have any corrections you may wish to make them now or bring them to the attention of the Table.
Item 3 - Business Statement for the Fifth week - Chairman of the Business Committee?

Majority Leader/Chairman of the Business Committee (Mr. F. K. Owusu- Adjapong) 10:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the Business Committee met yesterday, Thursday, 9th February 2006 and determined Business of the House for the Fifth week ending Friday, 17th February 2006.
Mr. Speaker, the Committee accordingly presents its report to this honourale House as follows:
Arrangement of Business
Mr. Speaker, the Committee has scheduled twenty-one (21) Questions to be answered by various Ministers during the week.
The details are as follows:
No. of Question(s)
i. Minister for Energy 5
ii. Minister for Health 5
iii. Minister for Communications 4
iv. Minister for Fisheries 2
v. Minister for Road Transport 5
Total Number of Questions 21
Mr. Speaker, following the Statement made by the hon. Member for Tamale South, Mr. Haruna Iddrisu on the state of infrastructure of the Tamale Teaching Hospital and the Medical School of the University of Development Studies (UDS) and your directions, the hon. Minister for Health has been invited to attend upon the House on Tuesday, 14th February 2006 to make a policy statement on the subject matter. Mr. Speaker may allow other Statements which have been duly admitted to be made on the floor of the House.
Bills, Papers and Reports
Mr. Speaker, Bills, Papers and Reports may be presented to the House for consideration and those which have already been presented may be taken
through the various stages of Passage.
Motions and Resolutions
Mr. Speaker, the motion to thank His Excellency the President for the Message on the State of the Nation which he delivered to this honourable House on Tuesday, 31st january 2006 is expected to be concluded on wednesday, 15th February 2006. Other motions may be debated and the appropriate Resolutions taken where required.
Mr. Speaker, in accordance with Standing Order 160 (2) and subject to Standing Order 53, the Committee submits to this honourable House the order in which the Business of the House shall be taken during the week.

Questions --

Minister for Energy - 185, 186, 187,

188 & 189

Statements --

Statement by the hon. Minister for Health on the state of infrastructure of the Tamale Teaching Hospital and the Medical School of the University of Development Studies (UDS).

Laying of Papers.

Report of the Committee on Health on the Food and Drugs (Amend- ment) Bill

Motions -- Adoption of the Reports of the

Committee on Subsidiary Legislation on

the following:

(i) Internal Revenue (Amendment) Regulations, 2006 (L. I. 1819)

(ii) Income Tax Rates (Amend- ment) Regulations, 2006 (L. I.


( i i i ) I n t e r n a l R e v e n u e (Amend- men t ) (No . 2 ) Regulations, 2006 (L. I. 1821)

That this House thanks His Excellency the President for the Message on the State of the Nation which he delivered to this honourable House on Tuesday, 31st january 2006.

Consideration Stage of Bills

ghana National Commission on Children (Repeal) Bill

Committee Sittings.

Questions --

Minister for Health - 280, 281, 282,

283 & 284

Laying of Papers

Report of the Committee on C o n s t i t u t i o n a l , L e g a l a n d Parliamentary Affairs on the Insolvency Bill.

Motions --

That this House thanks His Excellency the President for the Message on the State of the Nation which he delivered to this

honourable House on Tuesday, 31st january 2006.

Committee Sittings

Questions --

Minister for Communications - 217,

262, 263, 264

Minister for Fisheries - 219 & 256

Motion --

Second Reading of Bills

Food and Drugs (Amendment) Bill.

Consideration Stage of Bills

(a) Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill

(b) Subvented Agencies Bill

Third Reading of Bills

ghana National Commission on Children (Repeal) Bill

Committee Sittings.

Questions --

Minister for Road Transport - 197,

198, 199, 200 & 201

Motions --

(a) Second Reading of Bills

(b) Insolvency Bill

Third Reading Bills

(a) Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill

(b) Subvented Agencies Bill

Committee Sittings

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker 10:30 a.m.
Item -- 4 - Questions
- Minister for Road Transport?
Question No. 160 - Hon. Lee Ocran, Member of Parliament for jomoro?
Some hon. Members: Absent.
Mr. Speaker 10:30 a.m.
Question No. 161, Mr.
wisdom gidisu, hon. Member for Krachi East?
Some hon. Members: Absent.
Mr. Speaker 10:30 a.m.
Question No. 194, Mr.
Eric Opoku, hon. Member for Asunafo South?
Some hon. Members: Absent.
Mr. Speaker 10:30 a.m.
Question No. 195, Mr.
Nii Amasah Namoale, hon. Member for Dade Kotopon?
Some hon. Members: Absent.
Mr. Speker 10:30 a.m.
Question No. 196,
Mr. Yaw Effah-Baafi, hon. Member for Kintampo South?
Some hon. Members: He is absent.
Mr. Speaker 10:30 a.m.
Hon. Minister for

Minister for Public Sector Reform (Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom) 10:30 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I beg to move that the Subvented Agencies Bill be now read a second time.
House. Mr. Speaker, one of the objectives of the government is to reduce poverty and promote sustained growth and development. To achieve this it has been realized and repeated that there is the need for public sector institutions to be restructured to reduce their dependence on public financing, thus making public funds available for growth and development.
Mr. Speaker, it is useful to state here that in 2004, an amount of ¢2,597.2 billion, excluding payment to the ghana Education Service, was paid by way of subvention. In 2005, the amount was ¢3,993.0 billion. Mr. Speaker, the monitoring and evaluation of the operations of the subvented agencies quite often appears diffused and spread between various Ministries, the Public Services Commission, Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning and other Central Management Agencies. This arrangement clearly has defects and there is the need to focus the monitoring and evaluation process in one clearly identified institution for the agencies concerned. The Bill seeks to provide a solution to this need. This Bill, Mr. Speaker, does a number of things. It makes sure that policy matters are taken care of but it also provides us with a solution to ensure that we do not proliferate or create new subvented
agencies without consideration of their potential and financial impact on the Consolidated Fund.
Mr. Speaker, if I will just mention a couple of clauses to this Bill, particularly clause 16 of the Bill which stipulates that a subvented agency other than the one set up as a commercial venture is to be a public corporation under article 192 of the Constitution. The import of this is that in future subvented agencies will only be established by Acts of Parliament after going through the enactment process. The system whereby subvented agencies were set up administratively will come to an end and we hope that there will be improved fiscal control.
Mr. Speaker, with this, I beg to move that this honourable House read this subvented agencies Bill the Second time. Thank you Mr. Speaker.
Question proposed.
Subvented Agencies Bill - 2nd Reading
Chairman of the Committee (Mr.
Paul Okoh): Mr. Speaker, I wish to present the Report of the Committee. Mr. Speaker, I will crave your indulgence to read the Background, the Purpose, Deliberations and Observations, Recommendations and Conclusion of the Report and ask the Hansard to capture the whole report as having been read.
1.0 Introduction
The Subvented Agencies Bill was laid before the House on 23rd November, 2005 by the Minister responsible for Public Sector Reform in accordance with article 106(1) of the Constitution and was subsequently referred to the Committee appointed under article 103 of the Constitution and orders 125, 152 and 184 of the Standing Orders of the House

and the Committee having executed its mandate in respect of the Bill reports as follows:

1.1 Reference

In considering the Bill, the Committee made reference to the following:

i. The Statutory Corporations (Conversion to Companies) Act, 1993 (Act 461);

ii. The Companies Code, 1963 (Act 179);

iii. The Constitution of the Republic; and

iv. The Standing Orders of the House.

1.2 Background

Successive regimes embarked upon various kinds of reforms within the past two decades. There had, nonetheless, been no single legislation that was focused on streamlining the activities of Subvented Agencies in general. Besides, the creation of Subvented Agencies was premised only on need and had no laid down rigorous constitutional or legal requirements and procedures.

1.3 Purpose

The Bill accordingly sets out primarily to mainstreaming the monitoring and evaluation of the operations of subvented agencies to forestall the problems associated with the current state of diffusion in the performance of monitoring and evaluation among various Ministries, Departments and other Central Management Agencies.

The Bill, more importantly, envisages the reduction of the dependence by public agencies on government subvention.

The Bill further promises to enhance

the efficiency of subvented agencies with a view to improving service delivery and productivity for the benefit of the country at large.

1.4 Acknowledgement

The Committee is grateful to the Sector Minister, the Acting Chief Director, Officers of the Ministry, the Draftsperson and Members of the State Enterprises Commission who attended upon the Committee and assisted in the deliberations.

The Committee is also grateful to the ghana Highways Authority for the submission of a memorandum which was helpful in the Committee's work.

2.0 Deliberations/Observations

The Committee held two sittings to consider the Bill during which the Committee made a number of observations.

2.1 Financial Burden on Government

The Committee noted with concern the heavy financial burden on government subventions by the status quo with particular reference to emoluments of personnel in subvented agencies some of which could develop the capacity to be fully independent.

The Committee observed that the continued dependence on government subventions by such public agencies, especially when they could have been independent, was not only wasteful but also defeated the purpose of the very concept of the golden Age of Business.

The Committee was therefore pleased with the introduction of the Bill and hoped that it would be passed into law with dispatch.

2.2 Categorisation and Effficiency

The Committee observed rather satisfactorily the potential impact of the processes leading to the categorization to the efficiency of affected public agencies.

The Committee was pleased to note that the study upon the results of which categorization is to be made among subvented agencies was in itself productivity-oriented and as a result a recipe for enhanced service delivery/ improved productivity.

The Committee observed further that even where the results of those studies dictated the closure of a public agency, the implementation of the recom-mendations contained in such results had economic benefits as it was aimed at cost-saving.

The categorization was particularly found to be economically useful in view of the fact that it tended to point out the strengths and weaknesses of public agencies and where necessary, the extent of subvention needed to make such agencies more vibrant thereby promoting the judicious use of public funds. 2.3 Creation of Agencies to be Dependent on Government Subvention

The Committee observed with regret that, in the past, certain public agencies were created to play roles which could have been performed as additional responsibilities by existing agencies in a way to introducing order into the creation

of such public agencies. The absence of legal/ constitutional limiltations was identified as the main cause of this phenomenon.

It was in this light that the Committee noted with delight the introduction of the Bill which obliged the establishment of public agencies other than those set up for commercial purposes in accordance with the provisions of article 192 of the Constitution which enjoin public corporations to be set up under an Act of Parliament.

3.0 Recommendation

The Committee, convinced that the Bill when passed into law will indeed promote efficiency in the management of public agencies thereby improving their profitability in respect of realizing the objectives for their establishment, recommends to the House to pass the Bill into Act.

4.0 Conclusion

Cognizant of the need to achieve the targets of the gPRS II through the enhancement of job and wealth creation, it is necessary to create a conducive environment that promotes the introduction of specialization in the activities of both the private and public sectors to enable the country as a whole reap the benefits of such specialization which include efficiency, enhanced productivity/ performance, improved financial benefits (where applicable), increased employment, etc.

In this light, the Committee urges the House, subject to the consideration of the proposed amendments contained in the attached Appendix 1, to pass the Subvented Agencies Bill into law.

Respectfully submitted.
Minister for Public Sector Reform (Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom) 10:30 a.m.


Proposed Amendments

1) Page 3, clause 5, Sub-Clause 1

Insert “and may be closed down” after ‘subvention'

Delete the sub-clauses for clause 5 to read as follows:

“A category I subvented agency is an agency which ceases to receive subvention and may be closed down”.

2) Page 3, clause 6(d)

delete “end-of-service” between “other” and “employment”

3) Page 4, clause 9

i. delete “criteria” and insert “criterion”

ii. insert “or not the public agency performs a core function of the government” after “whether”

iii. delete subclauses (a) and (b) for clause 9 to read as follows: “The criterion for classification of a category II subvented agency shall be whether or not the public agency performs a core function of the government”.

4) Page 4, clause 13(a)

rephrase the sub-clause to read as follows: “on the advice of the Commission, make proposals to the governing board for the operation of the agency's commercial activities”.

5) Page 5, clause 13 (c)

insert “subject to article 181 of the Constitution,” before ‘assist'

6) Page 5, clause 14(2)

recast the entire subclause into sub subclauses as follows:

“(a) where the statutory subvented agency does not at any time have a governing board, the sector Minister shall, within three months of being aware of that fact, appoint a governing board.

(b) Until a governing board is appointed under sub- section (a) the functions of the governing board shall be performed by the Minister.”

7) Page 5, clause 16

delete ‘a public corporation under' and insert “established in accordance with” for the clause to read as follows:

“A subvented agency other than one set up as a commercial venture in category IV shall be established in accordance with article 192 of the Constitution.”

8) Back page, clause 18

delete “after consultation with” and insert “acting in accordance with the recommendations of”

9) Back page, clause 19, line 12

insert “except otherwise indicated” between ‘means' and ‘Minister' for the interpretation of “Minister” to read as follows: “Minister” means, except

otherwise indicated, Minister responsible for Public Sector Reform.

Ms. Josephine Hilda Addo (NPP -

Kwadaso): Mr. Speaker, I would like to entreat all hon. Members to support the passing of the Bill based on the following issues. Agencies must be able to support themselves where they have the capacity to support themselves. There is so much dependency on the government in a way of providing funds for the agency. As has been said, most of the agencies have the capacity and they must be encouraged to do that. So long as the government continues to support them they will not put systems in place to generate funds to pay their employees and things like that. And we all know the demand on government funds.

10. 40 a.m.

The idea is to bring efficiency in the system. Let us all cast our eyes on government agencies and government enterprises. More often than not we realize that some of the enterprises cannot support themselves but when they are given to private people these private people are able to change things and make profit. So Mr. Speaker, I am coming from the angle of efficiency. we must support this Bill, we must work to improve systems and achieve efficiency in order to support themselves. And the good thing about this is that the government would go into the system and grade agencies, those that will really have to depend on government support will enjoy the support and others that the statistics would bring out that they can sustain themselves will be made to sustain themselves. So the idea is about efficiency and saving of some money for other developmental ventures.
Minister for Public Sector Reform (Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom) 10:30 a.m.

Question put and motion agreed to.

The Subvented Agencies Bill was

accordingly read a Second time.
MOTIONS 10:30 a.m.

Mr. J. A. Ndebugre (PNC - Zebilla) 10:50 a.m.
Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I rise to support the motion on the floor that this august House thanks the President of the Republic for the Address on the state of our nation which he conveyed to us on Tuesday 31st january 2006 and in doing so I wish to make some remarks. I want to note first of all that the act of the President, as he himself indicated in the Address, was in fulfillment of article 67 of the Constitution of the Republic of ghana which states that -- and if I have the indulgence of Mr. Speaker, I will quote:
“The President shall, at the beginning of each session of Parliament and before a dissolution of Parliament, deliver to Parliament a message on the state of the nation”.
I remember that the President in his previous Address on the state of the nation described ghana as a corporate entity, that all ghanaians must recognize ghana as a corporate entity and I think I would agree with him. I believe that the Constitution makers promulgated article 67 that I have just quoted to emphasise the fact that
ghana being a corporate entity deserves to be reported to by its managers periodically.
Now if we agree that we will consider ghana to be a corporate entity in order to decide for ourselves whether there was some good thing or some important thing in the Address that we are discussing, we ought to look at what is expected when a company's Board of Directors is reporting to the Annual general Meeting (AgM) of the company.
It is my view that when a company's Board of Directors is reporting to the AgM of the company it must report on the balance sheet of the company for the year that has just passed. It must present a profit and loss account. It must state plans that are afoot to increase the level of assets of the company and reduce the level of liabilities of the company. It must also state plans that it is putting afoot to increase the level of profits of the company and reduce the level of losses of the company.
Now, the members of the company at the AgM will be expecting the Board of Directors to say something about the distribution of dividends and the payment of bonuses to the workforce of the company. So I want us examine the Address that the President made to us on Tuesday 31st january 2006 and see whether these things that I have mentioned are reflected in the Address for us to determine whether it satisfied the requirement of article 67 or did not do so.
In that regard, Mr. Speaker, I wish to refer you to page one of the Address, the paragraph in the middle of that page, where the President said - and I quote;
“Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure and a source of great pride to be able to

That was the opening salvo from the President indicating that the balance sheet is not in a mess, the profit and loss account is not in a mess - [Laughter] -- and that we can expect some dividends and some bonuses -- [Hear! Hear!]

Mr. Speaker, if I may also refer you to the first paragraph of page 2, the President said as follows:

“Mr. Speaker, the previous years, this address was used to preview the budget. This time with the budget read, I wish to take this opportunity to focus on four themes”.

And he mentioned the four themes as, one, what the budget is calculated to do in moving the economy further, and that is what I meant by “plans”. we must look for plans that have been put afoot to increase the levels of assets and reduce the level of liabilities as well as steps that are to be taken during the course of the year to increase the profits of the country, the profits accruing to corporate ghana and reduce the losses accruing to it. Two, the President further said that he would also examine the current stage of our socio- economic development thereby giving us the balance sheet and the profit and loss account.

He also talked in the third paragraph about government's role in assuring rapid implementation of programmes and policies; that again goes into matters about reducing liabilities and losses and enhancing assets and profits. And four, Mr. Speaker, the President said he would

also examine the main challenge to the body politic in efforts to accelerate growth.

So I am trying to demonstrate that the President, in his own way, tried to satisfy the requirements of article 67 of the Constitution, not treating it as a ritual as in the past, an annual ritual where some uninformed President would be sitting in his office and some civil servant would write a speech unrelated to the matters on the ground, go and hand it over to him and either he did not understand English or he was not capable of understanding the English or he had no time to look at the scripts - [Hear! Hear!] -- And he went ahead to read it, ending up embarrassing himself. I had challenged such things in the past before where these Sessional Addresses had been made.

There was one case in which a President

claimed that there was a health center in my constituency which was going to be upgraded into a district hospital. Meanwhile there was only a dressing station and I was lucky that I was invited to “Talking Point” that very week. And when I went I exposed this, thank god, that earned us a district hospital, with a value of two million cedis at that time. So I am saying that this is a President who is on top of the job -- [Hear! Hear!] and I am not saying that because I am for sale -- [Laughter] -- I cannot be for sale because I parted ways with some people who had sufficient money to buy people some twenty-one years ago, and all efforts to retrieve me have failed; so I cannot be for sale and I am too tall to be bought -- [Laughter.]

Mr. Speaker, on a more serious note, I

know that there are others who would wish to contribute to this debate so I will not
Mr. J. A. Ndebugre (PNC - Zebilla) 10:50 a.m.

take too much time. what I would want to do is to zero in on the matter of VALCO, which a lot of people do not seem to understand. when the President said that he was going to use VALCO as an example of illustrating the diversification of the micro economy, people do not understand; people think that jobs - we cannot plan to create jobs just like that. we must understand the process of job creation and VALCO? It is a typical example.

why am I zeroing now on VALCO because I am a Chemical Engineer -- Hear! Hear!] Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah did not intend that VALCO should be what it is now. The intention was to build an integrated aluminium industry in this country. And aluminium is such an important chemical element, its formula is “al”. For some of you who would want to own some pharmacy shop or something, the formula is “al” Aluminium is light; it transmits heat; it transmits electricity; it is such a versatile element; and the very important matter about aluminium is that it can be used only for peaceful purposes. It is not like uranium which can be used for peaceful purposes on one hand, and we for destructive purposes on another hand. In fact, if I had decided not to branch into this turbulent politics, I should have been making some bombs somewhere -- [Laughter] -- from uranium. But aluminium is a peaceful element; it is a peaceful, useful element and Dr. Nkrumah wanted to build an integrated aluminium industry.

Mr. Speaker, let me demonstrate to you, before I take my seat, how millions of jobs would have been created if we were to achieve that. Many of us - Hajia Alima Mahama (Member of Parliament for Nareligu/gambaga) is looking at me, she just takes her aluminium pan, she is a Lawyer, to cook -- [Laughter.] Anyway, I have withdrawn hon. Hajia Mahama's name.
Mr. J. A. Ndebugre (PNC - Zebilla) 10:50 a.m.

But on a more serious note, aluminium is contained in a raw material called bauxite which is made up of sand, stone and all sorts of things jammed together. It is found in the western Region; large quantities are available in that region, Nyinahin and some other places - / Interruption/ Eastern Region Kibi in particular. Now the aluminium has to be extracted from this raw material, so what we do now is that we dig up the bauxite and transport this bauxite at great expense to ourselves to the port. we export the bauxite to somewhere in jamaica or some place and then try to reduce the bauxite, this raw material into what we call alumina. Alumina is brought back here at a great expense to ourselves because the alumina has an added value. It has a much higher price than the raw bauxite we send.

This is what comes to VALCO and what just happens there is that the alumina is subjected to high temperatures in the neighbourhood of 600°C, to 1000°C and in the process we further refine the alumina into what we call aluminium ingots, not yet aluminium. The aluminium ingots are then transported back to the United States where they are refined and brought back here as pure aluminium for Aluworks and related industries where they produce the roofing sheets and then the cooking pans that we use and so on.

So we can imagine, the process of transforming the bauxite into alumina involves a lot of work. There are a lot of jobs there and so we are financing jobs the jamaicans. And the President is saying that we are going to do it here so that we will create jobs here. So we should not sit down and say the President said two hundred and fifty thousand jobs -- How? where is he going to -- as if

we create jobs -- we do not want robot jobs. Because if I am given sufficient time I may be able to produce robots to replace you. we scientists can produce robots to replace Members of Parliament so that they will be doing the business for ghana -- [Laughter] -- and then we will become unemployed.
Mr. Samuel Asamoah-Boateng 10:50 a.m.
-- rose --
Mr. Speaker 10:50 a.m.
Hon. Member for Mfantsiman west, do you have a point of order to raise?
Mr. Asamoah-Boateng 10:50 a.m.
Yes, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague is out of order. Mr. Speaker, I just heard him say that he can produce robots to replace Mr. Speaker -- [Laughter.] He said even “to replace you.” Replace whom? I would want him to clarify that because he was addressing the Speaker.
Mr. Speaker 10:50 a.m.
Hon. Member, you are out of order -- [Laughter.]
Mr. Ndebugre 10:50 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, looking at the chain that I have described, ghana is only involved in this small, -- one quarter of it, transforming the alumina into aluminium ingots. And yet, there are a lot of jobs in VALCO, people are falling over each other to get jobs there. Imagine that we were now going to transform the bauxite into alumina here in ghana, then after that we are going to transform the alumina into aluminium ingots. Let us take the first one; the production of alumina from bauxite is such a labour intensive business that there will be millions of jobs. How do we do it? we will have to use limestone; the chemical name of limestone is calcium carbonate and the formula (CaCo3) - [Interruptions] There are plenty deposits of limestone in the gonja area in the Northern Region -- [Interruption.]
Mr. Speaker 10:50 a.m.
Hon. Member for Sunyani west, do you have a point of order to raise?
Mr. Adjei-Darko 10:50 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I would want us to be a little bit modern since our students will be learning from us. Calcium carbonate, the proper nomenclature now is calcium trioxocarbonate four -- [Laughter.]
Mr. Speaker 11 a.m.
Hon. Member for Zebilla, please continue.
Mr. Ndebugre 11 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, thank
you very much. He is showing that he is an ally. [Laughter.] we can mine a lot of this calcium carbonate or limestone in the Northern Region - vast quantities - in the process we will create a lot of jobs and would be opening up the place because we would have to construct roads to the place. In the process we would have to build clinics to take care of workers. we would have to build schools and that will be creating jobs and reducing poverty and so on and so forth. Now we get the raw limestone we have to subject it to very high temperatures to produce what we now call calcium oxide. what is the latest formula for it? [An hon. Member: CaO [Laughter.] And then when we get the calcium oxide we have to combine it with water and common salt.
That means from the Ada area all the way to Sekondi-Takoradi there will be jobs. we will need large quantities of salt and the President said it in his Address. we will need large quantities of water and this is for us to produce what we call the caustic soda - sodium hydroxide, NaOh. [Hear!Hear!] we would then use the caustic soda to extract the aluminium from the bauxide into alumina. Look at
Mr. Ndebugre 11 a.m.

the chain, we are going to create so many jobs. So many people are going to have their poverty level reduced and so on.

we are sitting on gold but we are still complaining that we are poor. And when somebody comes to try and lift us up -- we do too much politics with our lives in Africa. I am happy the hon. Minister for Foreign Affairs is here. It does not matter whether hon. Ndebugre is President or Nana Akufo-Addo is President; the most important thing is for ghana to move forward and we must produce the basic necessities of life for our ourselves and not go about doing politics with everything.

I just used VALCO; the President could not have said all these. I do not want to say here that he does not have this knowledge because he will insult me later if I happen to run into him. [Laughter]. He did not even have the time to tell us all the details. I wish that the House were full so that some uninformed people will be informed and so that we will understand what we are talking about.
Mrs. Kusi 11 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the hon.
Member is misleading this House. He says that the President will insult him if he sees him. I want to find out from him if the President insults people when sees them.
Mr. Speaker 11 a.m.
Hon. Member for
Zebilla, go ahead. That is not a point of order.
Mr. Ndebugre 11 a.m.
It is a joke as she
intends it to be. what I am trying to say is that a person buys a sachet of water, he drinks the water and throws the sachet into the gutter in front of him; another person does the same and a third person does so. So these sachets are left in the gutters all over the place and then when it rains the gutters are blocked, the culverts are blocked, children fall into gutters without knowing and get drowned and so on and the same people say that the government is not doing anything. Somebody comes from my holy village called Timonde, he has no business here. As I am talking, maybe they will see it on television in the evening. They would say, “Oh! Since Ndebugre went to Parliament he is looking fine oo” -- [Laughter] “So I will also go there. Accra is good paa!”
Mr. Speaker 11 a.m.
Hon. Member, I hope
you will be winding up.
Mr. Ndebugre 11:10 a.m.
I am winding up,
Mr. Speaker. And so they arrive and go and squat somewhere and the city authorities do nothing about it. And then when they get a kiosk they invite their friends and relations and then they are establishing some Sodom and Gomorrah or something and it just creates a crisis for us; and the city authorities in Accra, Kumasi, Sekondi-Takoradi are spending billions of cedis weekly to cure problems that have been inflicted upon the society by ourselves.
I think that there must be something wrong with us and we must correct it; and I want the President, as he did in the case of the Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill, - But I must commend him for being courageous and coming out and stating his position very clearly. He should have made a similar statement about the general attitude of ghanaians, towards our own way of treating our lives so that it would serve as an impetus.
I want to use the opportunity too to commend the Vice President for having led a crusade to try and clean the gutters, but he must sustain it and this business of collecting the rubbish and leaving it at the mouth of gutters for the rains to come and push it in again does not help us very much. That was a beginning and I believe that there would perfection.
Mr. Speaker, with this lengthy comment -- [Laughter.] I support the motion and I urge my hon. Colleagues to vote for it so that we will thank the President for giving us an inspiring Address which points the way the future. [Hear! Hear!]
Ms. Rita Tani Iddi (NPP --
Gushiegu): Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for allowing me to add my voice to that of my hon. Colleagues in thanking His Excellency the President for the Address he delivered on the State of the Nation. You will all bear with me that his vision is glaring and satisfying. It is this positive thinking of his about the citizens that made the people of ghana give him the mandate to rule this country for the next four years.
Mr. Speaker, when I read The Ghanaian Times of Monday, February 6, I was reassured that the government's policy of investing in people, investing in jobs was really off the drawing board. The advert in The Ghanaian Times titled “The Venture Capital Trust Fund,” was looking for dynamic candidates with proven track record for immediate appointment to run the Fund.

The good news, Mr. Speaker, is that the government means business and would very soon start up with big dreams, but if there is no funding they will not have the means to put their ideas into fruition. It is easy to project the number of business- minded individuals and partners who have

had their fresh ideas developed into old hats only because they did not have the funding to develop them.

For such people, Mr. Speaker, the

Venture Capital Fund and other micro- funding arrangements all over the country already will go a long way to liberate them from the virtual imprisonment of lack of start-up capital that the banks sometimes say sorry when people apply for.

The President's State of the Nation

Address is a reiteration of government's avowed objective to invest in people and in jobs so that, sometime from now, the private sector would be empowered sufficiently to solve the unemployment problem to a great extent.

The President links this with the various strategies to prepare people for employment and this is very important. The fact is that when there is a miracle coming your way, you must be prepared to receive that miracle, else it will elude you. If the jobs are coming, then skills and entrepreneurship training and development must not be overlooked as the President rightly implied. People must be equipped to fit into the business environment with skills at their fingertips. Coupled with the promotion of made-in-ghana goods and reinforced by the export promotion drive, this policy of empowering ghanaians to create jobs is a far-reaching exercise, Mr. Speaker.

On the Free, Compulsory Universal

Basic Education (FCUBE), Mr. Speaker, let me proceed by saying that if there ever had been any real meaning given to FCUBE, then of course, it is the Capitation grant that has kick-started with a ninety- five billion cedi disbursement for the 2005/2006 academic year.

The result of the application of this fund

is mind-blowing. Enrolment has doubled in certain cases and this is the panacea for
Mr. Ndebugre 11:10 a.m.
However, since FCUBE cannot wholly
succeed without complementing factors like motivating teachers we are all happy, including our hon. Friends in the Minority who are absent, that government's increasing focus on education, training for teachers and housing loans schemes will all go a long way to carry this FCUBE idea to its very logical implementation.
Mr. Speaker, in the area of education, we cannot be concerned with FCUBE only and neglect higher education. That is why the government has provided vehicles for some schools and finally established the Student Loan Trust. It is very important to note, Mr. Speaker, that to every right there is a responsibility. As the President said, sustainability of the Trust will be dependent on the level of repayment by beneficiaries. Our students must always have it at the back of their minds that loans are not grant. Loans are repayable and a trust can only continue to exist if those who take from it return what they have taken, so that others can also benefit.
On this note, I thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Deputy Minister for Tourism and

Modernization of the Capital City (Mr. Stephen Asamoah-Boateng): Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for allowing me to contribute to the motion on the floor of the House that this honourable House thanks His Excellency the President for the Address on the State of the Nation given to us.

Mr. Speaker, I was extremely excited to see the President in a very relaxed mood, showing the command that he has over the job he is up to, and giving optimism

to the country that there is hope for us after all those years that we did not see any light at the end of the tunnel. Mr. Speaker, the President has said on several occasions that ghana should be looking forward to a good and great future and that the optimism that the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government has brought into the country should be exploited by all and sundry, especially those who are in the private sector to help us propel the economy into a great future, into the middle income country status that we have been yearning for.

Mr. Speaker, I made particular note of some areas that are of concern to me. I was particularly pleased to hear him talk about the incentives and the programmes that would be accorded our teachers. Mr. Speaker, we all know the contributions that teachers make to our national development and how we have all gone through the educational systems having been guided, trained and counseled by our teachers. Mr. Speaker, we would not have been here if our teachers had not stuck to their jobs and made all the sacrifices that were needed.

Mr. Speaker, I never miss the opportunity to particularly mention one particular teacher, Mr. Francis K. Agbeyo who, when I was little boy in jasikan Roman Catholic School made me aware that I had the potential to excel. I remember the maxim of the school, jasikan Roman Catholic, was “Always be the first or be with the first; never accept a second position.” Mr. Speaker, even if one does take a second position, it means one tried to be number one, which means that ghana should always be looking up to maintaining a high standard and the optimism that we all want in this country rather than looking at the gloomy side of life.

On that note, I hope the teachers would be happy that this government is putting

Mr. Speaker, owning one's own home

is the greatest enjoyment one can ever hope to have. when one knows that a house belongs to him or her and does not pay any rent to anybody, and one you takes care of one's life - Mr. Speaker, as the English will say, your home is your castle, once you are inside, you are the most happiest. And if one can have the way to acquire one's property, Mr. Speaker, I think this is a very laudable and positive move for our teachers.

Secondly, Mr. President talks about the
Mr. Speaker 11:10 a.m.
Hon. Deputy Minister
for Finance and Economic Planning, do you have a point of order?
Dr. Osei 11:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, my good Friend
Mr. Speaker 11:10 a.m.
Hon. Deputy Minister
for Finance and Economic Planning, this is not a point of order. Let him continue.
Mr. Asamoah-Boateng 11:10 a.m.
Thank you,
Mr. Speaker 11:10 a.m.
Please, you go ahead.
Mr. Asamoah-Boateng 11:20 a.m.
I am not
going to respond to him, although he is my friend. Mr. Speaker, so the hire purchase agreement or the system that will be brought about for teachers to be able to
acquire the assets and property that they crave for or we all aspire to acquire will help to make it possible for them to spread the cost of buying these things so that the pressure on them will not be too much and that is a positive move. I have lived in a system before where cash was not really what we used to live by. The credit system is very, very important because you cannot acquire or assemble all the money you need to go and buy something. But unfortunately, in ghana we have to carry the huge sums of money to go and purchase something. If you do not have the money, you cannot afford it. But if we have the credit facility in the system, Mr. Speaker, it will help all of us acquire the assets we are looking for while we spread the cost over a period and make it possible for us to have a higher standard of living.
Mr. Speaker, I will move on to another important area that His Excellency the President mentioned, which is to do with the fiftieth anniversary of our Independence. Mr. Speaker, I believe we are all aware that next year will be the fiftieth anniversary since ghana attained Independence, and this is going to be a great occasion for all ghanaians to feel proud and most importantly for African countries to see that ghana has taken strides since Independence.

Mr. Speaker, the President did say that we should look at this with a positive adjustment of our attitudes and that is what I think we should draw our attention to.

Mr. Speaker, some sections of the community have become used to cynicisms and gloom, and gloomy days and everything. Mr. Speaker, if we look at 50 years of even an individual's life, it is a long time and it is a great achievement

and I believe that if we cannot put our brains together and look at it in a positive light, rather than pull us down when the anniversary is taking place, or even between now and then begin to look at everything as bad, then Mr. Speaker, we would not be sending the right message across to the world. I believe that everybody should be having a positive attitude and dwell on the good things that we have achieved as a nation right from Independence, make the necessary corrections, where we have fallen short and make all the attempts to make sure that we do not fall back. That is what I think, Mr. Speaker, we should all be looking forward to.

Mr. Speaker, the anniversary, for me, also will provide the avenue especially for the tourism potential to be exploited fully. Mr. Speaker, it would create the jobs, yes, but it would also make it possible for us to have ghana as the preferred destination for most tourists. Tourism is the fastest growing industry in the world at the moment and if we can make it possible for people to see ghana as the preferred destination, we would all be benefiting.

Mr. Speaker, I was glad to hear that the

job of putting together the accommodation arrangements, especially the hotels -- the Ambassador Hotel and the City Hotel -- is coming on line. Mr. Speaker, the Ambassador Hotel was given to us as a gift during Independence by the British Colonial Authorities. This beautiful hotel, when I came to see it, was left to ruin; it was just not considered as important to us. The maintenance culture, as Mr. President said, was not part of our life and so this big hotel was left to ruin. Mr. Speaker, I am informed that at some point the previous Administration had taken some loan from SSNIT to get this hotel put up or rehabilitated and that money never reached where it was supposed to
Mr. Speaker 11:20 a.m.
Hon. Member for
Okaikoi South, do you have a point of order to raise?
Nana Akomea 11:20 a.m.
Yes, Mr. Speaker. Mr.
Speaker, my good Friend said when the UgCC was formed you were not born. I do not know on what basis he is making that assertion, that you were not born when the CPP was formed.
Mr. Speaker 11:20 a.m.
I am not allowed to contribute in a debate.
Mr. Asamoah-Boateng 11:20 a.m.
Thank you,
Mr. Speaker 11:20 a.m.
Hon. Majority Chief
whip, do you have a point of order to raise?
Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 11:20 a.m.
Yes, Mr.
Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I think my hon. Colleague on his feet is misleading this House and indeed misleading the entire nation. Mr. Speaker, I do know that government has initiated efforts to put the City Hotel back in good shape. The hon. Colleague on his feet knows that it certainly will take more than a year to rehabilitate or refurbish the City Hotel but he is making a claim that it is going to be put in good shape before the celebration of our 50th year as a nation.
Mr. Speaker, that is a serious statement and I do not want this to be quoted anywhere as if it is a government policy. Effort is underway to get it refurbished but for him to say that it is going to be made ready for the celebration of the 50th year anniversary, Mr. Speaker, he is misinforming us and it is something that must be set right.
Mr. Speaker 11:20 a.m.
Hon. Member for
Mfantsiman west, are you yielding to the hon. Deputy Minister?
Mr. Asamoah-Boateng 11:20 a.m.
No, Mr. Speaker, I am not yielding to him. But Mr. Speaker, my hon. Colleague the Majority Chief whip knows that I am the hon. Deputy Minister for Tourism and Modernization of the Capital City. And while not making it categorical -- Of course, when one starts construction there are delays and all that but I can assure him that plans are afoot and that we have given some indication that the City Hotel must be completed before the celebration of the Independence anniversary.
Mr. Speaker 11:20 a.m.
Are you winding up
Mr. Asamoah-Boateng 11:30 a.m.
No, Mr.
Speaker, I am sorry I pressed the microphone unconsciously. So Mr. Speaker, basically, the 50th anniversary, as I said, offers us a hope and I believe that if we can look forward with optimism the next 50 years, to our centenary celebration when most of us should be around, I hope we would be looking forward to a new ghana with a new sense of direction, an economy that is well improved and we would have been comparable to the South Koreas, the Singapores, and even maybe catch up with America if we may not be there yet. So the next 50 years is a hope
for all of us; we will be there and I hope my older hon. Colleagues will be there; they will get long life.
Mr. Speaker, sometimes when you look
at how we are doing things and compare it to what had happened in the past you begins to wonder why we wasted all those years; and sometimes I believe that people must begin to learn. Those who want to learn and move on and let this country achieve its great potential must try to learn, and learn properly.
Mr. Speaker, another area that I was
very happy to hear the President speak about was on the Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill. Mr. Speaker, I believe this Bill -- Obviously we would all debate it at the Consideration Stage and the Third Reading when it comes up. But Mr. Speaker, the most important thing is that it is a Bill that will restore the right of every ghanaian under our Constitution.
Mr. Speaker, I think this point has probably been missed but the Constitution gives a right to a ghanaian to be registered as a voter, and when one registers as a voter there are other rights there are certain rights that one would get if one is a registered voter. Article 42 of the Constitution is quite clear - If one is not registered and goes to other places in the Constitution, there are other rights that if one is not careful and does not look at it carefully, one is are denied, such as even taking certain appointments in this country. So Mr. Speaker, it is not a question of even voting per se; that one , it is the implementation that would be left to the right authority to decide. But the legal right as a ghanaian must not be taken away.

Mr. Speaker, I am happy that the

President insisted that we should look
Mr. Speaker 11:30 a.m.
Please, be winding up.
Mr. Asamoah-Boateng 11:30 a.m.
Yes, Mr.
Speaker, I will wind up soon. Mr. Speaker, we are creating jobs and I am glad that the banking system is now responding. we had criticized them sometimes that they were not responding to the decreases in base rates and that when the Central Bank inter-bank exchange rates came down they were still up there. The basic lending rate is up, but Mr. Speaker, as I speak to you now, they have begun to respond; although minimally, it is better than it used to be.
Now, one can get a loan in any of the banks with an interest rate ranging from 21.5 per cent to 25 per cent or 27 per cent which is far lower than the 53 per cent and the 48 per cent that we used to see before the New Patriotic Party (NPP) came into government. That shows that this government is serious about creating jobs and letting the private sector gain access to credit and expand.
Mr. Speaker, in a democracy the
Mr. S. K. Obodai (NPP - Agona West) 11:40 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to contribute to this motion to thank His Excellency the President for the State of the Nation Address delivered to this august House on 31st january 2006.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to centre my submission on page 16, that is, “gHANA - 10TH HAPPIEST COUNTRY IN THE wORLD” Mr. Speaker, as soon as the President stated that ghana has been noted to be the tenth happiest country in the world, the countenance of our hon. Colleagues opposite changed. [Interruption] The countenance of our hon. Colleagues who have run away from this debate changed. I was actually sad about their behaviour but I was consoled. I had to console myself for the fact that if one does not know history he tends to behave in a different way; or if one's history master dies earlier he forgets about so many things.
Mr. Speaker, let us remind ourselves that during the NDC era, the supposed democratic era one could best describe the type of democracy we saw as a military democracy. Mr. Speaker, why do I say this? During those days if one saw a ghanaian laughing it meant that his fellow ghanaian was suffering somewhere. So the happiness of a ghanaian at that time was dependent on somebody's suffering thus defeating the assertion in the Bible that we are each other's keeper.
Mr. Speaker, we witnessed in this country the arrest of a gentleman by name Djentuh, who was alleged to be the boyfriend of the ex-President's daughter, Ezenator, to the Castle which was actually seen at that time, in my view as an international barbering centre full of professionals in identification haircuts. without regard to the rule of law, Djentuh went through the barbering proceedings in the Castle. Mr. Speaker, this actually
made the mother of this poor guy hop from one radio station to the other crying for help for her son. Meanwhile, the wife of the ex-President and her daughter were happy. This supports the fact that when somebody was happy that happiness was determined at the expense of his colleague, that is happiness at the expense of the suffering neighbour.
Mr. Speaker, we also witnessed the destruction, as my hon. Colleague has just said, of the Airport Hotel.

while the owner of the hotel was crying the destroyers were looting the television sets and other things from the place. They were happy at the expense of the hotel owner. Mr. Speaker, during that era jobs were given to NDC faithfuls, card-bearing members, and when they saw that one was an NPP member, no way the person would never get the job and he or she would go out hungry. But today contracts are given to even NDC members, they even get most of the jobs.

Mr. Speaker, there was one local cement paper manufacturer who was called Mr. Addison, and because they saw that he was an NPP supporter they had to collapse his business and allow ghana Cement works (gACEM) to import the cement paper bags using our meager foreign exchange. There was one other gentleman, Mr. Appiah Menkah and some others who also suffered the same ordeal.

Mr. Speaker, actually, today when I see a woman supporting the NDC I look at the woman with a strange face. why do I say this, Mr. Speaker? During that era, Mr. Speaker, the happiness of women was taken away. women were glued to their rooms and they could not go out after 6.00

p.m. because they would be killed - serial killing. And they were not only killed but they suffered disgraceful deaths.

After killing them one would see them spreading condoms around as if they were the only harlots in the world and yet a woman would decide to follow such a party. So it was no surprising news to me because of their background. As they have realized that they can no longer go on with their serial killing they have now resorted to whipping of women till they pass out urine; and that was what we experienced at Koforidua. So this is an eyeopener to women, if they continue following the NDC they will suffer.

Mr. Speaker, let me come to the press.

Today the press have their freedom, the Criminal Libel Law has been repealed and they can go to any length to do their job. Mr. Speaker, this freedom of the press has even made some of them to expand their business into other areas. Some of them have turned themselves into photo- graphers, taking pictures of hotels and other areas.

Mr. Speaker, I made an observation yesterday and this actually supports the President's assertion that ghana is the 10th happiest country in the world; it is about the media. Yesterday, when we came in some of them came to their normal place - the gTV; and then as soon as they heard that the Minority was holding a press conference they left to cover it and soon after that they left.

They should ask themselves, if it had been in the NDC era, I believe that their director would have been sacked by an announcement on her own or his own station. But today they are free, nobody has said anything to them; and they can do anything they like. So if the President is saying that ghana is the 10th happiest country in the world we should actually
Mr. First Deputy Speaker 11:40 a.m.
Hon. Member, you should be winding up by now.
Mr. Obodai 11:40 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, you should know that I am the Chairman of the Committee on Roads and Transport - [Interruption.]
Mr. First Deputy Speaker 11:40 a.m.
Are you
telling me that I should know that you are a Chairman of a Committee? Please wind up.
Mr. Obodai 11:40 a.m.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker,
I will do so. Mr. Speaker, so today we know that our rights cannot be taken for granted.
Mr. Speaker, I would want to switch
on to the Representation of the People (Amendment ) Bill and with that I will just analyse a few statements I heard from the hon. Minority Leader. Mr. Speaker, he said that the former President was so democratic that in his consideration of this Bill he decided to bring the Electoral Commission into it and that they came and found out that it was not appropriate. Mr. Speaker, but he forgot to note that if one does not go to class one, one cannot go to class two. why do I say this?
Mr. Speaker, in considering this Bill, I hope that we know that we must first amend it before the Electoral Commission can come in. So if the President of the nation is referring this to Parliament, where the representatives of the greater number of the people of ghana reside, I think it is in the right direction. So the President has just performed his democratic duty by referring it to Parliament for us to debate upon. And it is because our hon. Colleagues feel that they cannot debate us on this issue that is why they have run away.
with these few words, Mr. Speaker, I would like to rest my case and urge my hon. Colleagues to support this motion.
Mrs. A. F. Osei noon

Ayawaso West-Wuogon): Mr. Speaker, I also wish to thank His Excellency the President for ably discharging his constitutional duty by giving an account of the state of the nation.

Mr. Speaker, it is my view that the Address of His Excellency the President touched on very salient points but, in particular, I would like to highlight a statement by His Excellency on page 6; and with your permission I beg to quote:

“ INVESTINg IN PEOPLE, INVESTINg IN jOBS”. Mr. Speaker, the sub-theme of the budget, ‘investing in people, investing in jobs', captures the essence of this government's policies since its first day in office - which is to create just, humane and prosperous society in which individuals as well groups are empowered to pursue their legitimate goals to realize their full potential and make contribution to the development of the nation.”

I could not have agreed with the President more that it is important to invest in people. The government has demonstrated in many ways that it is interested in the welfare of its citizens irrespective of where they are. One such demonstration is the introduction of the Capitation grant.

Mr. Speaker, we are all aware of the tremendous impact that the Capitation grant has made to school enrolment. In my own constituency, and for emphasis, Ayawaso west wuogon, the enrolment has increased to the extent that now I have petitions upon petitions from the schools in my constituency, especially

the Abelemkpe and Okponglo Electoral Areas for increase or extension of school infrastructure to what they describe as the ever-growing increase in enrolment. So it has not even stopped; more and more children are now leaving the streets and going into school.

while commending the government for the introduction of the Capitation grant I would like to say that another challenge has come to the fore, and it is the issue of teachers. It is not new that there are some deprived areas where there is a shortage of teachers, but I would say that there are enough experiences, tried and tested programmes, particularly by the civil society organizations, which can help us temporarily resolve this problem. And if I may quote, one such programme is the “Rural Education Volunteer Scheme.”

This programme started, introduced into t his country by Action Aid, ghana and I know that world Vision as well as Plan International have supported it in partnership with the respective District Assemblies. I know as a matter of fact that by resourcing these schools with the rural education volunteers not only have the enrolments increased but also the quality of education or the performance of these schools has tremendously improved.

And I can cite categorically that when Action Aid went to the Asutifi District - On the league table in Brong Ahafo, Asutifi was almost last. In one year, there was a zero pass; but in 2003, before I left Action Aid, Asutifi was, I think, in the first three on the league table in Brong Ahafo. So there is value in looking at innovative approaches to putting teachers in the classroom.

I commend the Ministry of Education and Sports for accepting to have free tuition for those teachers who want to do

distant learning. I also want to urge my hon. Colleagues to look critically at the Rural Education Volunteer Scheme in the National Youth Employment Programme and work hand-in-hand with their districts, invest in them because they are going to change the situation in their communities, particularly in areas where they have difficulty in finding teachers.

One of the greatest advantages of that scheme is that it uses senior secondary school (SSS) graduants from the community, so it is a second investment in the human resource in the community. Again, it inculcates a spirit of community responsibility such that people become so attached to their communities that when they go for further training they are more likely to come back. I know that some districts have actually sponsored some of these volunteers into training colleges and they are going to get back to support their districts in improving the quality of education.

I have heard arguments that the amount is not enough. Today, an hon. Colleague who happens not to be here was on Metro TV talking about the fact that it is not enough. I believe that equity is the issue. The Capitation grant is being made available to all children irrespective of their location, and that bridges the gap between the haves and the have-nots because even in the urban areas we have poor people. So the equalizing opportunity that this Capitation grant brings should not be lost and therefore we should not be insisting that it should go so high that perhaps only a section of the people can benefit. I believe that where the Budget permits it can be revisited but, certainly, the impact of the current level is very much left, and it is very laudable.

Mr. Speaker, I would like also to

commend the Ministry of Education and Sports for promoting school feeding, and I am particularly glad that they are choosing to actually feed the children rather than give dry rations. Because dry rations, as has been practised and still is - Like the Catholic Relief Services, they do that sometimes to promote particularly girl-child education.

But given our traditional food sharing practices, we know that when the food is cooked the largest portion goes to the men and the protein bit likely goes to the men. The children may just be eating the staple which invariably is carbohydrate- based and not nutritious enough. So that approach of actually giving the food in the wet ration or feeding them in school is one that should be maintained and not distracted by some suggestions that people are giving dry rations. It will not benefit the children.

I would also like to suggest to the Ministry of Education and Sports to strengthen the monitoring stem of the school feeding programme because we know that in boarding schools sometimes the real beneficiaries of food are the cooks and the teachers, and not the students. So they should please open their eyes wide; and I know that my able Sister here would open her eyes wide and put in long strides to ensure that the children are the beneficiaries.

Mr. Speaker, another investment in people that I would like to highlight is the integration of persons with disability. Conservative estimates from the Department of Social welfare indicate that there are about 6 per cent to 7 per cent of the population who are disabled in ghana. The world Health Organisation (wHO) figure generally for most countries is around 10 per cent.

Even if we take our conservative estimates from the Department of Social welfare, that is a significant number of people in our population who are disabled in various forms. Therefore, it is important that measures are taken to ensure that they also have opportunities to participate in the national development process and contribute to the vision of attainment of a middle- income status by the year 2015.

Mr. Speaker, I know and I am confident that this august House will pass the Disability Bill and, I want, even before that to commend the bold step of this government in looking forward and saying they are committed to do this to bring our fellow members of the population who are disabled to be part of mainstream development.

But there are existing programmes, Mr. Speaker, that persons with disability can avail themselves of. we have the rehabilitation centres in our communities, in nine regions out of the ten. we also have micro finance scheme that the President has kindly instituted for persons with disability. I would urge them to make use of these programmes and facilities.

At this stage, I would also like to appeal to the Ministry of Education and Sports - I know they are doing something on this, but the persons with disability have a chalk factory in the Accra Rehabilitation Centre of the Department of Social welfare. The quality of the chalk has been tested and we know it is good; so within the law of the Procurement Act, ways should be found to make sure that their products are also purchased. I am assured that that discussion is going on and that we are going to win this battle; because we believe that once people want to be productive we should encourage them to be productive rather than to be dependent
Mrs. Esther Obeng Dapaah (NPP - Abirem) noon
Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for giving me an opportunity to associate myself with the State of the Nation Address delivered by His Excellency the President, Mr. j. A. Kufuor.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to comment on three issues, the maintenance culture, education, and the Representation of People's (Amendment) Bill.
Mr. Speaker, the pride of every nation depends upon its armaments. These happen to be the heritage, the pride of the nation, these include our state homes, places where we can boast of as a nation and places that attract tourists.
when people travel to London the first
Mr. First Deputy Speaker noon
Hon. Member, can you speak a little louder, we can barely hear you.
Mrs. Obeng-Daapah 12:10 p.m.
Mr. Speaker, when people travel to London, the first place they want to see is the Buckingham Palace, Canterbury Cathedral, and other castles which have been preserved over 100 years.
People go to India to visit the Taj Mahal, and the list goes on and on. Manila is a third world country like ours but on our visit during the Inter- Parliamentary Conference a year ago, we had the privilege of being entertained at the Presidential Palace, we were all highly impressed of its beauty and we wished we had a place like that in ghana. Peduase Lodge is situated on a location mostly desired by many civilized people; under no circumstance must it be allowed to deteriorate. The President must be applauded for taking steps to restore this buildings - the Flagstaff House, the job 600 and our prestigious hotels - we travel abroad to live in four star and five-star hotels; we can improve our own and be proud of what we have achieved.
The President is a man of vision who sees beauty and preserves it irrespective of which government initiated it.
A beneficiary who allows family
assets to go waste is termed wicked in the family and children spit on his grave. Our President has demonstrated wisdom and he is leaving a legacy to ghana.
The same resurrection spirit extends to the rural areas. For over 20 years, Mr.
Speaker, my constituency, the Abirem nConstituency, was criminally neglected. This government has upgraded the Abirem Fosu Secondary School to the level of any accredited secondary school in ghana. The neglected clinic has been upgraded to the level of Atibie or Akwatia Hospital which the locals used to access. The roads from Abirem to Oda and Abirem to Kade are being tarred - [Hear! Hear!] I commend the President and his Administration for the good work; the Abirem constituency will be forever grateful to this government. with the rural electrification programme going on, the whole district will soon see the light.
The same maintenance culture should be extended to homes. I appeal that as a nation, we should be conscious of filth and embark on policies to promote healthy lifestyles.
Mr. Speaker, on education, President Kufuor's Administration has made conscious effort to alleviate the burdens on women.

I am saying this because many women are single parents and they look after their children on their own.

The introduction of the FCUBE and Capitation grant has encouraged single parents who could not afford to pay school fees for their children. A survey was carried out at the Nkwanta District by the Committee on gender and Children. This was sponsored by the Parliamentary Centre and it has indicated increases in enrolment. Mr. Speaker, I would urge our development partners, the NgOs to join hands with the state organs to put up structures to house the school children. I salute the world Vision - which has assisted the government by building numerous schools in our rural areas.

Mr. Speaker, the incentive package for teachers as outlined in the President's Address is laudable and I would like to urge the government to extend the House Ownership Scheme to teachers over fifty (50) years of age as well.

On the Representation of People (Amendment) Bill, everyone is aware by now of what article 42 says. It says every ghanaian who is 18 years and above and of s9und mind has got the right to register and vote.

This article came into force by a referendum. we do not need another referendum to amend it. Travelling or living abroad does not deprive one of his or her citizenship. Even when one has naturalized, the dual citizenship laws offer remedies. Under the current laws certain persons living abroad are permitted to vote.

The PNDC Law 284 (1992) enables these persons who work in our Diplomatic Missions and their spouses as well as persons who work with international organizations, students on government Scholarships, Members of the Armed forces and the police on peace keeping duties to vote. This Law is therefore discriminatory and clearly contravenes Constitution; and when there is such contravention the Constitution is supreme. The saying goes that what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. The fact is that people should be taking the government to court for not allowing them to exercise their franchise under the Constitution and not the other way round.

Parliament is mandated to make laws. Many laws have been passed which have never been tested but that does not imply that they are bad laws. It will be a bad reasoning for at judge not to pass
Mr. Anthony Evans Amoah (NPP - Mpohor-Wassa East) 12:20 p.m.
Thank you Mr. Speaker, for giving me the opportunity to contribute to the debate on the State of the Nation Address delivered by His Excellency the President on 31st january, 2006. Mr. Speaker, I want to dwell on Human Resource Development and what I want to say is that Human Resource we are told, is an active factor of production whilst capital is the passive factor of production. It means that for any country to develop we need to give prominence to human resource development. It is important therefore for us to see the wisdom in the government paying attention to the development of human resource. I would actually want to show how policies have been brought about to improve upon
human resource development in this country and I will talk about the Capitation grant, the School Feeding Programme, Incentive for Teachers and training of teachers in mathematics and science.
I think that if we want to improve human resource in this country then there is the need for us to catch them young; that means we must catch the youth; and that is the focus of the government as contained in the Address. I think that there is the need for all of us to encourage the President to do what he said he was going to do. I know that some critics have said that they do not see anything new in the Address delivered by the President. But Mr. Speaker, I do not begrudge them. why?
Because this is an era of compre- hensive policies following on an era where we were making policies on ad hoc basis. So it is very difficult for someone who believes in ad hoc policies to come to terms with policies which are comprehensive policies such as what is happening in education we cannot sustain the development that all of us expect. I would want to show that the Capitation grant has made an impact as some of my hon. Colleagues have said.
I also allude to what the hon. Member who just spoke indicated that the Committee on gender and Children made a study on access and equity to quality education in the Volta Region, precisely in the Volta District. A preliminary result showed that there is a significant impact, more precisely in terms of increase in enrolment and retention of pupils. In my own constituency, Mpohor wassa East Constituency the story is the same. If one looks at the feeding system that the government has introduced it is making a tremendous impact.
In the western Region the community that was chosen happens to be in my district and the name is Accra Town. when the programme was started, it covered 155 pupils and in a span of about two months the enrolment had increased to about 217 pupils, a percentage increase of 58.1. If this is not development, how else can one describe this? Mr. Speaker, I believe that the journey of development is lubricated with good policies and that is what this government is doing. I know for sure that the critics have talked about the idea that thirty thousand cedis per pupil given in the Capitation grant is nothing to write home about.
But I dare say that even that ¢30,000 is difficult for most of the rural parents to afford. what the critics fail to see is that apart from this Capitation grant, the government is providing educational infrastructure as well as paying the salaries of teachers.

Mr. Speaker, I would want to say that the argument that critics have made or the chorus that runs through the argument that the President's Address is not new but a reassembling of last year's Address is amusing and lacks substance. I do not see how we could say that the President has not done well if he has been able to give us an update of the policies that he has introduced within the last three years. what then is wrong if the President provides us with this update?

It is instructive to say that no good manager would abandon a strategy that continues to give him a competitive urge over his competitors. This is what I see in the Address by the President and actually all the five years that the NPP government has been in power. Apart from this human resource situation I would want to say that

most of the policies that we have seen in this country have been to our advantage. we can go about and mention

Information Communication Tech- nology (ICT) development and I think that if we go back to the last ten years and compare them to the present we would see that there has been a tremendous improvement in ICT. It is important that the President mentioned the fact that the government is making efforts to improve access for people to get affordable connectivity to the broadband.

There can be no access to ICT without infrastructure. So if the government is putting up the necessary infrastructure, it means that the government has a focus, a vision that if the country wants to develop or if the country wants to go global it must see ICT as important; and this is a government that has seen the development of ICT as important. I do not see how our critics could think that there is nothing new in the Address given by the President

I do not want to go on because I know that most of my hon. Colleagues have mentioned a number of things. But I would say that the President mentioned one thing that made me very glad. He talked about the growth strategy; and on that growth strategy; he mentioned diversification of the local economy. Diversification of the local economy is very, very important. He went on and mentioned the President's Special Initiative (PSI) programme which is also making a tremendous impact at the grass roots level. I believe that what the District Assemblies should do is to sensitize our people at the grass roots to actually grasp this idea of the PSI. In my own constituency the District Assembly has gone ahead to even start a nursery on its own and it is making progress.

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to mention
Mr. First Deputy Speaker 12:20 p.m.
Yes, hon. Deputy Majority Leader, it appears we do not have people ready now to make their contributions.
Mr. A. O. Aidooh 12:20 p.m.
Mr. Speaker, in the circumstances, I beg to move that we adjourn proceedings to Tuesday, 14th February at 10. 00 o'clock.
Mr. Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 12:20 p.m.
Mr. Speaker, I beg to second the motion.
Question put and motion agreed to.
ADJOURNMENT 12:20 p.m.