Debates of 14 Feb 2006

PRAYERS 10:05 a.m.




Mr. Speaker 10:05 a.m.
Order! Order! Correction of Votes and Proceedings for Friday, 10th February, 2006. Pages 1, 2,…7? [No corrections were mde.] Hon. Members, we do not have the Official Report.
Item 3, Questions. Is the hon. Minister for Energy in the House?
Minister for Parliamentary Affairs/ Majority Leader (Mr. Felix Owusu- Adjapong) 10:05 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I am told he is around but I do not know why he is not in the House.
Mr. Speaker 10:05 a.m.
Hon. Members, if he is not around may we move on to Item 4 Statements.
Mr. Owusu-Adjapong 10:05 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I would want to crave your indulgence to call the Deputy Minister for Health to read the Statement on behalf of the hon. Minister.
Mr. Speaker 10:05 a.m.
Hon. Deputy Minister for Health, you may go ahead.
STATEMENTS 10:05 a.m.

Minister for Public Sector Reforms (Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom) 10:25 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to associate myself with the Statement; made by my hon. Colleague. It is rather unfortunate that our hon. Colleagues on the other side are not here to listen to the comments made by our hon. Colleague on the APRM.
Indeed, Mr. Speaker, I am not so sure that many of us here in this august House and many in this country fully appreciate what His Excellency the President has done by having Ghana become not only the first to volunteer but also be the one to go through the peer review
Minister for Public Sector Reforms (Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom) 10:25 a.m.
process. Mr. Speaker, this is a feat that deserves not just recognition but massive congratulation. Because, if we just look at what is happening in the county - Let us understand what is happening in international circles.
In international circles what is important is the credibility of an entity, whether it is a corporate entity or a sovereign nation such as Ghana. Mr. Speaker, credibility is gained by good governance; it is gained by good fiscal and political governance. Indeed, Parliament is a part of this and everyone has played his role; but it took a lot of courage, a lot of understanding of what the country needed and what it could gain by being a part of something that would review how we are governing ourselves in this country. So the important thing in all of this is how we have addressed the matter of governance. Good governance, particularly political governance, is a big part of the Peer Review Mechanism and indeed it is a big part of NEPAD. It is quite unfortunate that our hon. Colleagues are not here to become a part of what we had been doing since 1992 to establish firmly in this country good democratic governance and practice, and constitutionally-based governance in this country.
Mr. Speaker, it is important for us to acknowledge -- and we do not say it enough in Government, we do not say it enough in this Parliament, and we do not say it enough in Ghana. It is important that we recognize firmly that Ghana has indeed gone through this process successfully -- very, very successfully - and it is important that we acknowledge this point. But it is having gone through this successfully that it is also bringing us a lot of the benefits that some of our Colleagues and the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning in particular have been working
so hard for.

Mr. Speaker, Ghana's credit rating, which recently has also been confirmed as relatively high when we consider African countries, has also been underpinned by the governance posture, not only of this Government but also of the country as a whole; and so the APRM must be put in the proper perspective.

Also, Mr. Speaker, when we talk about the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) of the United States Government, it is not something that one can just go and say “I want to be a part of it”. It is something for which one would have to go through a rigorous process, an evaluation process; and it is good governance that puts one you there. The fact that Ghana is one of those countries that have been put into that programme since its beginning is a very serious testament to what the Kufuor Administration has been working hard to establish in this country.And so it is the good governance posture, it is the good governance practice and what has been confirmed by the APRM that is making all of this work.

Mr. Speaker, I am aware that there are people from South Africa who are about to go through the Peer Review process, who are looking to Ghana, and who have come to Ghana and want to learn how we went through this successfully, how we were able to engage with all sectors of our societies to be able to have the successful results that Ghana has gained from the Peer Review Mechanism.
Mr. I. K. Asiamah (NPP -- Atwima- Mponua) 10:25 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I rise to associate myself with the Statement on the floor.
Mr. Speaker, underlying this APRM mechanism are principles such as creating an open and a just society, transparency and accountability. Mr. Speaker, I am happy that, as said by my other hon. Colleagues, it is because of its democratic credentials that Ghana is benefiting from the MCA.
Mr. Speaker, it may interest you to know that this account is going to benefit Ghana substantially. Mr. Speaker, it is going to revolutionalise, resuscitate, and diversify our agricultural sector. And I am happy that the three most impoverished regions in this country are going to benefit - the Upper west, Northern and the Upper East Regions. The Afram Plains is also part of it. And I am happy it is going to make sure that we have a very solid irrigation system that would stand the test of time. Mr. Speaker, in the words of the US Ambassador to Ghana, Ghana is benefiting because Ghana is ruling justly, Ghana is investing in its people and Ghana is fostering economic and political stability in the words of the US Ambassador to Ghana. [Hear! Hear!].
Mr. Speaker, again, it is because of these laudable democratic credentials that we have our opponents taking to demonstrations as part and parcel of their lifestyle today. In those days they condemned demonstrations; some of us who went on demonstrations were
labeled as anti-democrats and devilish. Mr. Speaker, as we speak now, on a Valentine's Day, lovers' day, they are on the streets demonstrating.
It shows that His Excellency President J. A. Kufuor and the NPP Government are making sure that there is rule of law and that people can demonstrate without security forces harassing and intimidating them. Those were the days when people were being killed on the streets of Ghana just because they were exercising their rights to demonstrate. Mr. Speaker, this a clear demonstration of the fact that the NPP Government is committed to ensuring good governance in this country; that is a signal we want our opponent to take note of.
Minister for Energy (Prof. Mike Oquaye) 10:35 p.m.
Mr. Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to contribute to this Statement.
Mr. Speaker, our President is submission of himself to the APRM is definitely an act of courage, vision and humility in service which deserves commendation. Mr. Speaker, peer review is one of the mechanisms of reputable organizations or institutions governing or controlling themselves. we know it in the medical profession, the legal profession and many honourable organizations and institutions.
Mr. Speaker, in the history of the European Union, which came from the Common Market in the EEC, one thing was obvious, they set a number of standards for themselves. Before one could become a member of the Community and subsequently the Union, one had to pass a certain standard test first. Spain and Portugal, for example, were for a long time excluded from the membership of the Union until they put their House right, in terms of human rights, developmental strategy, and so on and so forth.

Mr. Speaker, for a long time Africa had not had standards and our democratic institutions were destroyed by military adventurers et cetera and for that matter the principle of “checks and balances” in governance was trampled upon. So it was that as regards putting our house in order in Africa, it became necessary to set standards - standards of good governance, standards of accountability and transparency and the free election of our governments.

Mr. Speaker, the Peer Review Mechanism came as result of developments in this regard. Mr. Speaker, it is notable that Ghana, the first country to be independent in black west Africa has also become the first, under the auspices our President, to submit itself to this review.

Mr. Speaker, we came out with flying colours. Mr. Speaker, it is not surprising coming from a President who has also submitted himself to any manner of investigation or enquiry even at home so that others will know, and know assuredly, that he is ruling in an open manner and his hands are clean.

Mr. Speaker, this is really a notable

achievement that all Ghanaians, no matter how they think politically, must be proud of. And we are definitely proud of our President for lifting high our flag and our known and cherished standards. That was, of course, the very principle of the foundation of this great Republic.

Mr. Speaker, with regard to our debt forgiveness, we must appreciate the relationship between this forgiveness and the very principle of Peer Review Mechanism, as well as the principles of those who are going to forgive our debts. I would like us to be mindful of the fact and to remind ourselves constantly that the debts were not forgiven across board.
Minister for Energy (Prof. Mike Oquaye) 10:35 p.m.

They were forgiven according to certain established standards, standards of probity and accountability, good governance, fundamental human rights observation, and so on and so forth. Mr. Speaker, this shows clearly that we have chalked great success not only in partisan terms but also as a country committed to fundamental human rights and doing things right.

Mr. Speaker, I would want to say that our President has really set another good standard for the whole continent and not only for this country. He must be congratulated. we congratulate him and we congratulate ourselves as a people. Because, what else is expected of the Ghanaian? The best.

I thank you, Mr. Speaker, for the opportunity to contribute.

Deputy Minister for the Interior (Capt. Nkrabeah Effah-Dartey (retd): I thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, for giving me the opportunity to contribute to this Statement, which I consider very, very interesting indeed.

Mr. Speaker, the African Peer Review Mechanism is the very foundation for the development of Africa. Mr. Speaker, our own Heads of State agreed, at a summit that this particular strategy should be used as a means of checking ourselves and ensuring that in Africa we would have good governance so that the poverty and the suffering of our people could be lessened. That indeed is the basis for the African Peer Review Mechanism.

Mr. Speaker, it has been said that there is no country in the world which is poor, but that it is bad policies which reduce a country into a state of poverty. Bad policies use the vehicle of corruption and mismanagement. Mr. Speaker, bad policies operate in the condition when people in power are dishonest, when

people do not want others to know exactly what they are doing, when people are arrogant in power, when people tell lies in power -- [Hear! Hear!] when we do this there can never ever be development.

Mr. Speaker, in those countries which have advanced on the path of development in the world today - over there, they do not use any magic, they do not use any super- human strategies except that in power they try to be as honest and as selfless as possible. Mr. Speaker, that basically is the foundation for development.

Mr. Speaker, today is day three of the unauthorized absence of our hon. Colleagues from this Chamber. Mr. Speaker, one may wonder why they are not here. They have made a press statement that the basis for their absence from this Chamber is just because it has been brought to your attention that a lawyer, in the normal course of his business, had written a letter to the Speaker of Parliament and the Speaker had decided that the Privileges Committee of Parliament should look at the contents of the letter and advise.

Mr. Speaker, you are operating strictly within the four corners of the Standing Orders, you are operating strictly within the four corners of the laws that govern this House. Mr. Speaker, if for operating the law our hon. Colleagues are absenting themselves from this House, what they are saying, in effect and in practical terms, is that they want to undermine democracy - [Hear! Hear!]. what they are saying, in effect, is that they are hacking the wall of democracy.

But, Mr. Speaker, we of the New Patriotic Party are founded on the bedrock of democracy. [Hear! Hear!]. we of the NPP, our flag, our lodestone is the rule of law. Mr. Speaker, it is therefore not surprising at all that our President, Mr.

John Agyekum Kufuor, our flagbearer - It is not surprising at all that with consummate ease he allowed himself to be subjected to the African Peer Review Mechanism.

Mr. Speaker, in those days when a President of a nation like Ghana could chase a taxi and force the taxi to pull aside at the Osu traffic lights, how could he have submitted himself to the African Peer Review Mechanism? -- [Hear! Hear!] Mr. Speaker, in those days when a whole Head of State could abuse people, calling the voters of Ghana as dzimakpla and others, how could he have submitted himself to the African Peer Review Mechanism? -- [Hear! Hear!] It was just not possible. Mr. Speaker, in those days when the Head of State of Ghana could resort to “corporeal” punishment, using his hand to attack some of his own Ministers even his own Vice President. [Hear! Hear!]

Mr. Speaker, beating his Vice President, in the hallowed Cabinet Chamber, how could he have submitted himself to the African Peer Review Mechanism? [Some hon. Members: Oh! Oh!] Mr. Speaker, in those days when the sermon that was being dished out on radio everyday was the culture of violence, democratization of violence [Some hon. Members: Oh! Oh!] -- How could he have submitted himself to the African Peer Review Mechanism? Today, Mr. Speaker, we have a gentleman President in the Castle - [Hear! Hear!]
Mr. Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 10:45 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, my hon. Colleague on the floor

Capt Effah-Dartey (retd.): Mr. Speaker, the point I am making is that how could he have - the impossible past -- I am sure he is alright with his English Grammar. Mr. Speaker, at any rate in those days - The problems we have in this country today; are rooted in those years, when violence became the order of the day; that is why we are having the problems at the moment. But Mr. Speaker, it is good to note that for the past five years, the New Patriotic Party has since coming into power brought decency into governance.

Mr. Speaker, we have given confidence back to the people and no wonder it is reported that Ghana the tenth happiest nation in the world today - Hear! Hear! Mr. Speaker, we acknowledge that the problems are many but, we acknowledge that the limitations are many and we acknowledge also that the road towards development is very far, but non- the-less we have set ourselves firmly on course; we are moving there and we shall get there. All these distractions will be brushed aside.

And Mr. Speaker, it is very important to remind ourselves that, as it was even reported by the press today, the power to decide on the Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill, resides in this House -- [Hear! Hear!] It is we who have been elected by our people to come here to decide whether we want the law or we do not want it. Mr. Speaker, we are not going to be dictated to by anybody - [Hear! Hear!] we will decide in the best interest of the nation.
Mr. Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 10:55 a.m.

I am happy that the former Minister

for Finance and Economic Planning and the current Minister for Finance and Economic Planning are both in the Chamber right now. I can ask them to confirm if I am misleading the House that inn 2000 Ghanaians abroad brought into this country thirty one million dollars in foreign exchange. In the year 2001 -- NPP Administration -- they brought two hundred million dollars, in the year 2002, they brought six hundred million dollars, in the year 2003, they brought 1.3 billion dollars, in the year 2004, they brought 2.4 billion dollars; and last year, according to statistics that have been just released, Ghanaians abroad brought 4.5 billion dollars - [Hear! Hear!] Mr. Speaker, it only shows the confidence that Ghanaians living abroad have in the governance of this country.

And because Ghanaians abroad keep bringing in so much dollars inflation has been curtailed. People are no more rushing for dollars because the dollars are coming in - [Interruptions.] Mr. Speaker, if this has been going on and they are enduring the cold weather condition below zero degrees Celsius, and they are bringing us money for our development to finance construction of houses and industries and we are giving them the right to vote, is it a crime?

Some hon. Members: No!

Capt. Effah-Dartey (retd): Mr. Speaker, I think that the Statement that has been made by the hon. Member of Parliament for Asante Akim South is indeed a very significant wake up call and I invite all Ghanaians, wherever they may be, to look at the Statement by my dear Colleague and look at it critically. Because, unless we govern ourselves properly, Mr. Speaker, we will never develop. That is the foundation for development and

that is the essence of the African Peer Review Mechanism. And if we of the New Patriotic Party are following these basic tenets of development and for that reason if our hon. Colleagues will abandon their electoral responsibility and stay away from the House, the law will take its normal course.

Deputy Attorney-General (Mr. E. A. Owusu -Ansah): Mr. Speaker, I rise to associate myself with the Statement ably made by the hon. Member for Asante Akim South. But Mr. Speaker, I would crave your indulgence to inflict on the House a little bit of semantics as a prelude to my contribution.

Mr. Speaker, in anglo saxon English and language, “peer” refers to nobility - In contemporary English, “peer” means of the same status. So when we say APRM, Africa Peer Review Mechanism we are talking about Heads of Governments who rank, with all due respect, equal and who have come together to allow themselves to be examined. And if one of them - [Interruption.] Not medically; to be examined as to how far there is good governance in our respective countries. So if one of them opts, without prompting, to submit himself to his colleagues to be examined, that person to quote the words of the hon. Minister for Energy, “has courage, and a deep sence of humility”. It is in this light that I see the submission of the President to his colleagues as very commendable.

Mr. Speaker, governance is a broad term indeed. It invokes in its trail the rule of law, peace and stability, provision of amenities and all which come together to form the basis of good governance. Mr. Speaker, in this country, and probably as part of human frailty, we tend to forget

so easily.

Not long ago in this country it would have been very difficult for a group of people to take to the streets and demonstrate the way we are seeing today because they disagree with one thing or the other. Mr. Speaker, I am referring to the Kume Preko episode, innocent Ghanaians, because they disagreed with something, took to the streets and they were met with brute force; the result is known to all of us.

As has already been referred to, somebody out of ignorance probably, or lack of care crossed another person with his vehicle and the result was that his vehicle was turned over. Somebody had a misfortune of having an identity haircut when he was taken to the Castle. Mr. Speaker, the sum total of all these is that we were living in a country of fear. we were living in a country of intimidation, and we were living in a country where one man's view was the view that ought to be taken by everybody. If anybody disagreed he had trouble with him and in some cases that person's sleeping place had to be changed.

President Kufuor and his team have shown how a country ought to be governed. And so because he believes in the rule of law, because he believes that everybody has the right to make his or her mind openly without fear or favour he submits himself to his peers for examination. I think that this is very commendable indeed.

Mr. Speaker, that is not the only point. we have had some of our debts written off by the donor countries. Mr. Speaker, I want to submit with the greatest respect that there is a direct correlation between the writing off of the debts and good governance because nobody would give someone money If one owes nobody

would say he or she should take away the money when he knows that the person is going to mismanage the money. It is only when one shows good application of the resources that one's debts will be written off. So I say that there is a direct correlation between the relief of the debts and good governance; and why not so?

Mr. Speaker, when the construction of the Accra/Kasoa was started it was initially a loan that was granted by Japan. when President Kufuor and his team took over within a very short time the good work that they were doing caught the eyes of the Japanese and the loan was turned into a grant. That is a great manifestation of good governance.

That is not the last point. we have also been told that as at now from the multilateral debt group we have been given a relief to the tune of $4 billion. Mr. Speaker, it is my submission that no donor would give you a relief when he is not sure that the relief he is giving you would be put to good use. It is only when you have shown exemplary fortitude, exemplary openness, and exemplary competence that your donors would relieve you of your debt.

So Mr. Speaker, all told we are saying that President Kufuor has shown great leadership. He has shown transparency in his Administration and all of us are benefiting from it today. -- [Interruption] -- Competence and confidence -- I thank the hon. Member for the addition.

Mr. Speaker, I think that it is about time that we all recognized that when the history of this country is written it would never be forgotten; it would never be erased from the minds of the people that when the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) came it was Ghana, under the able leadership of President Kufuor, that

submitted itself first and foremost above all others to be examined. It is a milestone that we have made. Mr. Speaker, on this note, I thank you very much for your patience.
Mr. Speaker 10:55 a.m.
Item 3 - Questions - Minister for Energy.


MOTIONS 10:55 a.m.

Mr. Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu 11:05 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I beg to second the motion.
Question put and motion agreed to.

Income Tax Rates (Amendment)

Regulations, 2006 (L.I. 1820)
Mrs. Esther Obeng-Dapaah 11:05 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I beg to move, That this honourable House adopts the Report of the Committee on Subsidiary Legislation on the Income Tax Rates (Amendment) Regulations, 2006 (L.I. 1820) and in so doing present the Report of the Committee. Mr. Speaker, I would crave your indulgence for the Hansard to capture
the whole Report and deem it as read while I read the Introduction and the Conclusion. 1.0 Introduction
In accordance with article 11(7) of the Constitution, the Internal Revenue (Amendment) Regulations, 2006 L.I. 1820 was laid before Parliament on Tuesday, 24th January 2006. The Instrument was subsequently referred to the Subsidiary Legislation Committee for consideration and report pursuant to Standing Order 166 of the House.
2.0 Reference Document
The Committee had recourse to the
following during its deliberations:
The 1992 Constitution
The Internal Revenue Act, 200 Act
The Internal Revenue Regulations,
2001 (1675)
The Standing Orders of the House.
3.0 Deliberation
In considering the referral, the Committee held discussion with officials of the Internal Revenue Service led by the Acting Commissioner, Mr. J.F. Odartey Blankson. The Committee is grateful to the Acting Commissioner and his technical staff for their attendance and input in its deliberations.
4.0 Background
Under section 114 of the Internal Revenue Act 2000, Act 592, the Minister responsible for Finance is empowered to make regulations by Legislation Instrument to inter alia:
Mr. Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu 11:05 a.m.
Speaker, I do second the motion and in doing so I just want to read a little bit of the Observation.
“The Committee noted with satisfaction that the proposed Regulations when made operational, would grant further equitable relief to employees within the echelons of the working class with lower incomes as they impose graduated rates of tax on incomes, and also exempt all employees whose incomes does not exceed the minimum wage from income tax.”
Mr. Speaker, these are very good submissions and I think they are in the best interest of this nation.
Question proposed.
Alhaji M.A. Yakubu (NPP - Yendi) 11:05 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, in reading the introductory part of the Committee's Report it was observed that, the hon. Member who presented the Report hesitated when she began to read the first line and I believe that is because the heading of the Report, “Report of the Subsidiary Legislation Committee on the Income Tax (Amendment) Regulations, 2006 L.I. 1820” differed from what appeared in the Introduction which says, “The Internal Revenue (Amendment) Regulations.” So I think that needs clarification; that is why she hesitated, thinking she was reading the wrong one. So they can be synchronized, that is the heading at the top of the Report and then what appears in the Introduction.
Mr. Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu (NPP - Suame) 11:05 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, just a small correction - just so that nobody may take the Hansard up and make an issue of it. Mr. Speaker, you called the Chairman of the Committee to present the Report. The hon. Member who presented the Report is not the Chairperson of the Committee. She is a member of the Committee and in the absence of the Chairman our rules,
the rules of procedure of this House, the Standing Orders enable or allow any member of the Committee to present the Report, which is what the hon. Colleague has done and it is appropriate.
Question put and motion agreed to.
Internal Revenue No. 2 (Amendment)
Regulations, 2006 1821
Mrs. E. Obeng 11:05 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I beg to move that this honourable House adopts the Report - [Interruption.]
Mr. Speaker 11:05 a.m.
Hon. Member, you are moving as a member of the Committee; say so for the purposes of the records.
Mrs. Obeng-Dapaah 11:05 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I am moving this motion as a member of your Committee and I ask for your permission to do so.
Mr. Speaker 11:05 a.m.
I grant you permission, but you had not sought my permission in respect of the earlier applications. So you may wish to do so now.
Mr. Hackman Owusu-Agyemang 11:05 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, for the avoidance of doubt, your last comment, does it mean therefore that you have post facto granted her the permission to move so that we understand what we are doing? Because you said in the earlier instances she did not seek your approval. And now that she is seeking your approval does it mean that we should take it that you did grant your approval? Because silence means consent, and so I assume that you gave your approval to the hon. Member.
Mr. Speaker 11:05 a.m.
I want the proper application to be made.
Mr. Owusu-Agyemang 11:05 a.m.
Sorry, Sir?
Mr. Speaker 11:05 a.m.
I want her to make her
Mr. Owusu-Agyemang 11:05 a.m.
Yes, but the previous ones are all right?
Mr. Speaker 11:05 a.m.
I want her to make her application in respect of the previous motions.
Mr. Owusu-Agyemang 11:05 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, point well taken.
Mr. Speaker 11:05 a.m.
Yes, let her make her application. -- [Pause]-- But hon. Member, should I take it that you are also applying in respect of the previous applications?
Mrs. Obeng 11:05 a.m.
That is so, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker 11:05 a.m.
All right, let us go on.
Mrs. Obeng 11:05 a.m.
And the earlier ones.
Mr. Speaker 11:05 a.m.
That is so; permission is granted in respect of the earlier applications.
Mr. E. A. Agyepong 11:05 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, now that the Standing Order gives any member of the Committee the power to present the reports, do we need to seek your permission before we do that? I thought all that a Member needs to do is to say that he is a member of the Committee, so we need your guidance on this.
Mr. Speaker 11:05 a.m.
Hon. Members, since I asked for the Chairman, if the Chairman is not available any Member can ask for permission of the Speaker and the Speaker may in his discretion grant or refuse. Please, go ahead.
Mrs. Obeng-Dapaah 11:05 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I am a member of the Committee and the Chairman of the Committee is not here, the ranking Member also is not here - [Interruption]
Mr. Speaker 11:05 a.m.
Mrs. Obeng-Dapaah 11:05 a.m.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, now that I have got permission, I beg to move that this honourable House adopts the Report of the Committee on Subsidiary Legislation - [Interruption.]
Nii A. D. Mante - rose -
Mr. Speaker 11:05 a.m.
Hon. Member, are you raising a point of order?
Nii Mante: That is so, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker 11:05 a.m.
Please, go ahead.
Nii Mante: Mr. Speaker, I want to correct an impression. The ranking Member is here in this House and that is me, hon. Nii Adu Darko Mante - [Laughter.] I was not late; I was here right from the word go but the hon. Majority Chief whip decided to call a Member. I did not want to protest -- [Interruption.] - So that is all that I have to say.
Mr. Speaker 11:05 a.m.
Hon. ranking Member, is it your wish to move this motion?
Nii Mante: No, Mr. Speaker, she has already started and I may want her to conclude.
Mr. Speaker 11:05 a.m.
You want her to continue; all right, go ahead.
Mrs. Obeng-Dapaah 11:05 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I beg to move that this honourable House adopts the Report of the Committee on Subsidiary Legislation on the Internal Revenue (Amendment) (No.2) Regulations, 2006, L.I. 1821 and in so doing present the Report of the Committee. Mr. Speaker, I crave your indulgence for the Hansard to capture the whole Report and deem it as read.
1.0 Introduction
In accordance with article 11(7) of the Constitution, the Internal Revenue (Amendment) No. 2 Regulations, 2006 L.I. 1821 was laid before Parliament on Tuesday, 24th January 2006. The Instrument was subsequently referred to the Subsidiary Legislation Committee for consideration and report pursuant to Standing Order 166 of the House.
The Instrument was subsequently referred to the Subsidiary Legislation Committee for consideration and report pursuant to Standing Order 166 of the House.
2.0 Reference Document
The Committee had recourse to the
following during its deliberations on the Instrument:
The 1992 Constitution
The Internal Revenue Act, 2000, Act (592)
The Internal Revenue Regulations,
2001 (1675)
The Standing Orders of the House.
3.0 Deliberation
In considering the referral, the Committee held discussion with officials of the Internal Revenue Service led by the Acting Commissioner, Mr. J.F. Odartey Blankson. The Committee is grateful to the Acting Commissioner and his technical staff for their attendance and input in its deliberations.
4.0 Background
Under section 114 of the Internal Revenue Act 2000, Act 592, the Minister responsible for Finance is empowered to make regulations by Legislation
Instrument to inter alia:
a) provide for matters authorized to be made or prescribed under the Act;
b) exempt any persons, class of persons or income form tax;
c) amend a provision of the Schedule to the Act or any monetary amount set out in the Act; and
d) provide for the better carrying into effect of the Act.
5.0 Object of the Regulations
The Instrument seeks to effect a downward revision in the income tax threshold applicable to specified class of persons from a fixed rate to graduated rates with the view to widening the tax net by inclusion of class of persons who otherwise were exempted from payment of tax.
6.0 Observation
The Committee observed that the Regulations provide for reduction in the tax rate for class of persons such as dressmakers/tailors, “susu collectors”, chop bar owners, butchers, hairdressers, garage owners and traders grouped into three main categories namely large, medium and small scale, and operating either in cities, urban or rural areas as the case might be, with the overall purpose of ensuring equity in the administration and collection of the tax.
The Committee noted with satisfaction that the Instrument when allowed to pass would effect a reduction in the rate of the tax payable by the above mentioned class of persons from the current fixed sum of two hundred and any thousand cedis (¢250,000.00) to a graduated threshold of one hundred and fifty thousand cedis (¢150,000.00), one hundred thousand
Mrs. Obeng-Dapaah 11:05 a.m.

cedis (¢100,000.00) and fifty thousand cedis (¢50,000.00) thereby reducing the tax burden and ensuring equity and fairness in both the assessment and payment

The categorization of the tax rate

having due regards to the specified eligible class of persons would also eliminate the current perceived arbitrary exercise of discretion by tax administrators, and improve efficiency in the tax system in the country.

7.0 Recommendations and Conclusion

The Committee has thoroughly examined the Regulations and is of the view that they are consistent with provisions of the Constitution, the Standing Orders of Parliament, the parent Act and other existing related statutes; and accordingly recommends that this House allow the Internal Revenue (Amendment) Regulations 2006, L.I. 1820 to pass with the effluxion of time.

Respectfully submitted.
Minister for Finance and Economic Planning (Mr. K. Baah-Wiredu) 11:15 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I beg to second the motion.
Question proposed.
[Pause.] Question put and motion
agreed to.
Mr. Speaker 11:15 a.m.
Hon. Members, let us
go to item 6.

Mr. Speaker 11:15 a.m.
Hon. Members, I am putting the Question that the Subvented Agencies Bill be now read a Second time.
Question put and Motion agreed to.
The Subvented Agencies Bill was accordingly read a Second time.
Mr. Speaker 11:15 a.m.
Hon. Members, item 10.
Message on the State of the Nation
Mr. Speaker 11:15 a.m.
Hon. Member for
Asuogyaman, you have ten minutes; and all other contributors also will have ten minutes each, please.
Mr. Kofi Osei 11:15 a.m.

Asuogyaman): Mr. Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to associate myself with the motion to thank the President for the State of the Nation Address. I intend to confine myself to some observations on the Representation of People (Amendment) Bill, popularly known as ROPAB. The Bill has been one of the numerous and important issues ably articulated by His Excellency the President when he delivered his inspiring Address. It has also generated so much interest in the country that almost everybody in this dear nation has had an occasion to say something about the Bill.

Mr. Speaker, the Bill as it stands now has the potential of making Ghana an
Mr. Kofi Osei 11:25 a.m.
To start with, there is a clear concession, by all that there is a glaring conflict between article 42 of the Constitution and the PNDC Law 284. Mr. Speaker, article 42 enjoins all Ghanaians aged 18 and above and of sound mind to vote and to be entitled to register as voters. The PNDC Law 284 barred many Ghanaians resident abroad from voting.
But Mr. Speaker, let me repeat; article 42 clearly grants the right to any sane Ghanaian of 18 years or above to be registered to vote, without any mention of residential qualification. The same article 42, Mr. Speaker, I would submit, imposes an implied sanction on any qualified Ghanaian who fails to register as a voter. And why do I say that, Mr. Speaker? I say that because one who is not registered to vote is disqualified from being a Member of Parliament. If we go to article 94(1) (a), that article -- and with your permission, I will read that:
“Subject to the provisions of this article, a person shall not be qualified to be a Member of Parliament unless -
(a) he is a citizen of Ghana, has attained the age of twenty-one years and is a registered voter.”
Mr. Speaker, that qualification presupposes that one may not have any intention of voting, but then if one does not register, one is disqualified from
being a Member of Parliament and that sanction, as I will put it, will affect so many Ghanaians if they are not allowed to exercise their rights under the provision of article 42.
Furthermore, Mr. Speaker, one who cannot be a Member of Parliament is disqualified from holding any public office, including a Minister of State, and that is provided by article 78(1); a member of the Electoral Commission - article 44(1); President or Vice President - article 62(c); member of the Public Services Commission - article 194(3) (a); a member of the National Commission on Civic Education -- article 232(3). Mr. Speaker, a person who is not registered to vote is also denied employment opportunities as he or she may not be employed in the above-stated environment.
Mr. Speaker, article 55(8) even deepens the woes of the unregistered voter. It forbids such a person from becoming a founding member, a leader or a member of the executive of any political party. Mr. Speaker, this aspect of the debate is just for registration and not voting. The right to be registered as a voter is an issue that must be taken up seriously by all Ghanaians.
The Electoral Commission has this onerous duty to ensure that no qualified voter who is willing to register is denied access to register. Mr. Speaker, the seriousness and importance of the right to register can also be found in the Supreme Court case of Tehn Addy. The highest court of the land ordered the Electoral Commission to register Tehn Addy for the 1996 General Elections after the body had closed registration for that particular election.

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Justice Acquah, as he then was, is on record to have made these

famous remarks, that franchise is a right that is given by the Constitution and can only be taken away by the Constitution.

Mr. Speaker, let me take a little bit of

our precious moment to play the devil's advocate. If those who oppose ROPAB needed any motivation to press forward with their arguments, then they should rather call for the amendment of article 42 because this constitutional provision, by virtue of its association with the supreme law of the land, is their Achilles heel. The whole length of PNDC law 284 would stand peacefully if article 42 is mutilated.

Mr. Speaker, it reduces their argument to rubble and sap their energy as they struggle to oppose a legitimate operation. we should be reminded that section 7(1)(c) of the PNDC law 284 imposes a residency requirement for being a registered voter. It also ignores the mandate of article 42 and illegally imposes its own registration scheme. It provides that a Ghanaian of 18 years and above and of sound mind must be resident in the polling division defined as having a place of abode in that division before she or he can be registered.

Mr. Speaker, section 7(4) further states that a person shall not be deemed to be a resident in a polling division if he or she is absent from the place of abode for a continuous period of six months ending the qualification date. In other words, Mr. Speaker, if Kwadjo Mensah resides in a polling station within the Asuogyaman constituency and just before elections he falls ill and is taken to Togo or England for six months, as soon as he comes back into the country he is disqualified from registering. Now, Mr. Speaker, this clearly cannot stand. The effect of section 7 is that it automatically disenfranchises Ghanaians who are resident overseas and

those who are even resident within the country but are absent for a period of six months.

Mr. Speaker, now let me return to my

own turf. I believe that the removal of the residency requirement is what baffles the opponents of the Bill and has driven them to think that where there is no residency requirement, there is no credibility in an election. But I can say with all certaintly that the necessary mechanism put in place by the Electoral Commission (EC) and the willingness of the people to have peaceful and credible elections would make the difference.

The other point, Mr. Speaker, is that it is a cardinal sin on the part of every Government, a representative of the people, to rationalize an illegality. As long as article 42 exists in our Constitution, no responsible Government can continue to overlook that and allow the PNDC law 284 to operate, knowing very well that it is in serious conflict with the aforementioned constitutional provision.

Mr. Speaker, it is refreshing to note that

the first article of the Constitution says that the Constitution shall be the supreme law of Ghana and that any other law found to be inconsistent with the provision of this Constitution shall to that extent of inconsistency be void. Mr. Speaker, I believe that this article, as clear and as unambiguous as it is, resolves the matter. I therefore want to state that the PNDC law 284, is not enforceable, and should not be enforced. This means that what article 42 stands for has already been highlighted in the Supreme Court. I also submit that the bodies that uphold the PNDC law 284 are, I would submit, in serious breach of what the Supreme Court had to say.

Mr. Speaker, article 17(1) of the

Constitution also offers an interesting twist to my argument. It says that all
Mr. Kwadwo Agyei 11:25 a.m.

Fanteakwa): Mr. Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to contribute to the motion on the floor. Mr. Speaker, the President, on the 31st of January 2006, delivered his Address on the State of the Nation; and with your permission, I would like to quote the four areas that he touched on. First, he talked about what the Budget is calculated to do in moving the economy further. Second, he stated the current state of our socio-economic development. Third, he talked about the Government's role in assuring rapid implementation of programmes and policies. And last but not least, he talked about the main challenge to the body politic in efforts to accelerate growth.

Mr. Speaker, various comments on

the Address have been made. Some have described it as a repetition of unfulfilled promises; others have also described it as
Mr. Kwadwo Agyei 11:35 a.m.
a recycling of previous Messages. This to me is quite normal and in fact desirable because in my own thinking, the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about at all.
Mr. Speaker, in the Akan tradition
comments that are likely to gain respectability are those that are made after one has digested a message. It is in this light that I would want to recognize comments made by people like Dr. Ishmael Yamson, who is now the chairman of the University Council. what he said was that the President's Address was very realistic.
Mr. Speaker, being realistic is to acknowledge the fact of a situation and fortunately our President is full of realism. Dr. Vladimir Antwi-Danso, a seasoned lecturer and a politician, said the Address was quite good and he also said he was impressed with the manner in which the President touched on almost everything. Prof. Daniel Adjei-Bekoe, who is the Chairman of the Council of State, described the Address as very comprehensive and that it provided enough food for thought.
Mr. Speaker, in Akan we say; se

Mr. Speaker, for want of a better description, I would want to say the Address was full of vision, and problem solving. Each year's Address gets better

and better and this is a far cry from those days when the Head of State, when confronted with a bad situation, was likely to say woka no koraa na meye no more, to wit, the more you complain the worst my response becomes.

Mr. Speaker, as rightly said by hon. Ndebugre, in the first place, by delivering the Address the President was fulfilling a constitutional obligation. In fact, he could not have done otherwise considering the fact that he has been nurtured to fruition by a great party that believes in constitutionalism.

Mr. Speaker, the President talked

about the timing of this year's Budget as coming two clear months ahead of the fiscal year and this he saw as being a positive historical precedent. This is worthy of note and it is necessary that we all acknowledge this as good and in compliance with our Constitution.

Mr. Speaker, some people have however, asked why it has taken the President five years to do this. And to those people, my reply will be that the NDC was in Government for eight years and yet did not see it fit to comply. But Mr. Speaker, be it as it may, whether it is Salifu, Issifu, or Banafu, the important thing is there is a ‘fu' and the President has duly complied.

Mr. Speaker, touching on the first theme of the Address, in recent times the Ghanaian economy has shown a remarkable resilience in terms of macro stability. This manifests in low rate of inflation, low rate of interest and a very stable exchange rate. The 2006 Budget provides more than enough evidence of the stability of the economy. Mr. Speaker, we do not eat macro stability, but in the same way as we do not harvest yams in the middle of a tarred road, we need macro

stability to move forward. In this respect, we see macro stability as a sine qua non for everything including the production of food.

But macro stability cannot be an end in itself; it is for this reason that the first theme of the Address becomes very relevant. The clue was provided when the President intimated -- and I quote:

“Curren t ly our economy i s registering a 6 per cent GDP growth rate. If our development goal is to be achieved, then we must achieve an 8% GDP growth on a sustained basis.”
  • [STATE OF THE NATION ADDRESS, 2006, p. 10, par. 3]
  • Mr. Speaker 11:35 a.m.
    You may wish to
    Mr. Agyei-Addo 11:45 a.m.
    Yes, Mr. Speaker,
    I will conclude shortly. Mr. Speaker, scholars of history, and in fact, non scholars as well, all know that most historical and historic buildings and projects that are revered today were all stirred in controversy. But in all cases, it has taken people of courage, people of passion and people of vision to initiate such projects and they do so because such leaders believe in what they are doing.

    Mr. Speaker, at any point in time Ghana as a nation has several thousands of priority needs. when former President Rawlings' NDC Government decided to buy a Presidential Jet my constituency in Fanteakwa needed a hospital but not a Jet; Ghanaian women needed security and protection against murderers but not a Jet; the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital needed medical equipment and drugs but not a Jet. Any leader worth his salt would listen to all views, but as the Chief Executive he must go ahead to do what he thinks is best and leave the rest to history.

    Former President Rawlings once said and I quote: “we will make history and leave others to write it.” And that was after ruling this country for 19 years. Today our President, Mr. Kufuor, after just five years, is taking history to heights not known in our 49 years of existence as a sovereign country - [Hear! Hear!] I believe all, including former President Rawlings and the NDC have more than enough to write about and I believe they have taken time off Parliament to start
    Mr. Agyei-Addo 11:45 a.m.
    writing this history.
    Mr. Speaker, the State of the Nation is that, our President, the affable and hardworking J.A. Kufuor has decided that the Presidency, the supreme executive institution of this land of ours called Ghana must be restored to its rightful glory and abode at the Flagstaff House and Peduase Lodge. And so what the former NDC Government failed to do Kufuor baaye a love be yo. [Hear! Hear!] Mr. Speaker, that was a rendition of a popular Christian song. Mr. Speaker, as doctors say of a wasting disease, to start with, it is easy to cure but difficult to diagnose. After some time, unless it is diagnosed and treated, it becomes easy to diagnose but difficult to cure because it would then have become incurable.
    Mr. Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to congratulate the President for giving us hope for the next twelve months and to join the House in thanking the President exceedingly for being concerned both intimately and passionately about Ghana and Ghanaians, and having the will and zeal to take us through another twelve months of good governance and economic growth.

    Minister for Public Sector Reforms

    (Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom): Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for allowing me to contribute to the debate on the motion that this House thanks His Excellency the President for the Message on the State of the Nation which he delivered on Tuesday 31st January, 2006.

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to make a
    Mr. Agyei-Addo 11:55 a.m.
    But Mr. Speaker, sometimes many people do not acknowledge the fact that on this side of the House are not just NPP Members of Parliament. Indeed, amongst the many NPP Parliamentarians there are three CPP Members here, four PNC Members and one Independent Member.
    And so when all of us speak as the Majority it is the majority of one, two, three, four against the Minority of one. [Hear! Hear!] - [An hon. Member: You win!] -- Mr. Speaker, those of us from the PNC,-- the CPP and the Independent Member who chose to sit on this side of the House were not herded here like sheep; we came here for a reason. And Mr. Speaker, the statement that His Excellency the President made and the Address that he gave in this hournable House has given us many, many reasons to justify the choice that we made to sit on this side of the House.
    Mr. Speaker, again, from the CPP perspective let me state that there are many more reasons but there are three reasons that the CPP members believe in. One is that the State matters and the State has a positive role to play in the economy. Two, Mr. Speaker, the CPP believes that excellence in the Ghanaian should show in the ability to manage our own affairs. And Mr. Speaker, the third reason is that pride in what is Ghanaian, what promotes the new African, what makes us confident is important. And I would want to cite aspects of the President's Address that support these three things we of the CPP believe in.
    Number one, Mr. Speaker, the President talked about this, and I quote: “A closer
    and more interactive relationship between the public and the private sectors of the economy for addressing the development needs of the country”. Mr. Speaker, if we in the CPP believe that the State matters, cannot have the State deliver anything if the Government machinery which the State uses is weak and inefficient. That is what promotes in some instances corruption.

    Number three, Mr. Speaker, is when we talk about the Capitation Programme and the President talked about the policy of Free Compulsory Universal Basic Education, extending it to kindergarten and

    making sure that it equalizes opportunities for all children from age four (4). Mr. Speaker, what is more Nkrumaist than that? - [Laughter.] These are some of the things that we believe in; these are some of the things that the CPP would do if it were to come to power. So if a party in power is implementing it then we have every reason to support the implementation of such a policy. [Hear! Hear!] -- [An hon. Member: You win! You win!]

    Mr. Speaker, reason number five - Peduase Lodge and the Flagstaff House. Mr. Speaker, no Ghanaian President deserves to live in a castle.

    Mr. Speaker, no Ghanaian President should have to live in that building that we call the Castle today and every Government, every nation deserves a proper place to house the presidency, and a proper place for the President to work, and indeed a proper place for the President to rest.

    And so, Mr. Speaker, the first day I went to the Flagstaff House as the Minister for Economic Planning and Regional Co- operation, I was saddened. Because where

    And indeed, Mr. Speaker, the same day that I arrived - It is unfortunate that our hon. Colleagues on the other side are not here. But on the same day that I arrived on the compound there were some people; I do not know whether they were from a Chinese Construction Company or whoever they were, who had been engaged to demolish Osagyefo's office. And they did it that day -- [An hon. Members: Ooh!] And they did it, Mr. Speaker. And I would want to emphasize this, when I asked them they said they had been engaged by the previous Government to not only tear it down but to begin the reconstruction of a building that would house the Presidency. That was what I was told and that was what happened in 2001.

    And so, Mr. Speaker, if we have a President who comes and says, “Look, I am ashamed at what has happened to the Flagstaff House; I am ashamed that I do not have a rightful place to live and I will construct a place, not just for me as President J. A Kufour, but for all other Presidents who might come after me,” what other reason is there for a CPP Member than to agree and to wholeheartedly support the move by His Excellency President J. A. Kuffour to build a new residence for himself, for other Presidents, and also an office for himself and for other Presidents to come in the future.

    And perhaps, Mr. Speaker, His Excellency J. A. Kufuor might not even be able to sleep in the building that he is going to construct for Ghana.

    And so, Mr. Speaker, it gives me
    Mr. Speaker 11:55 a.m.
    Hon. Deputy Minister for Finance and Economic Planning, do you have a point of order to raise?
    Dr. Osei 11:55 a.m.
    Mr. Speaker, a point of information. Mr. Speaker, can my dear Colleague tell us if what Mr. Kwesi Pratt said is correct, that he might be a potential President - [Interruptions.] It is just a point of information - [Laughter.]
    Mr. Speaker 11:55 a.m.
    Hon. Member, you may continue.
    Dr. Nduom 11:55 a.m.
    Mr. Speaker, I will just continue - [Laughter.]
    Mr. Speaker, that was the Flagstaff House, but I would wish the media, I would wish that many Ghanaians would travel to the Peduase Lodge and take a look at the shameful condition that the national asset has been led to become and to be. And I do not know what enables people to be in power for several years and to let a national asset such as that deteriorate to the condition that it has been led to be in. That is something - Mr. Speaker, the House that we live in, how we allow it to be, what we take care of it also determines sometimes the state of our mind.
    Mr. Speaker, when the President comes to this House and says boldly that he is going ahead to restore Peduase Lodge to a good condition so that not only him but also some of our visitors, when they come, might have a place to be, then I have good cause to support him.
    And Mr. Speaker, many of us have traveled; when one goes to Yamoussoukro, la Cote d'Ivoire, one will see what
    Mr. Speaker 11:55 a.m.
    You may conclude now.
    Dr. Nduom 12:05 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, I am about to conclude. As a Member of the CPP, the party that took this country to Independence - [Hear! Hear!] I am happy to note that His Excellency the President has good plans, for us to celebrate the coming fiftieth anniversary of our dear nation.

    And finally, Mr. Speaker, when the IMF Directors came to Ghana a week or so ago, I was sitting with one of the Directors who was from Germany and he just could not understand what we were talking about in this country.

    He had heard wahala, he had heard “demonstrations”, and he had heard “dissatisfaction”. They had been to Benin, they had been to some other countries in Africa and elsewhere. They had also seen our numbers, our per capita income, the numbers that are thrown about which people keep disputing. And his view was that he has come to Ghana, he has seen what it looks like physically, he has seen what it looks like in terms of the human beings that are walking about, he has heard us speak; and he just could not understand what we are complaining about. Certainly, he could see that we are not developed as we would wish. we are not developed as Germany or the United States of America but he said there must be something missing, that we are not being as enthusiastic as we should be about our own country Ghana; that indeed, perhaps there is something wrong with our statistics, because he just Could not believe that our per capita income is what we say it is; that it should be something bigger, something higher than what we have been reporting to the entire world.

    Mr. Speaker, when I listen to words

    like that, when I travel to other countries and we are told that we are beginning to become a special people, a special place, a good economy, a good country, I take heart. And I am happy, that we are here to speak for the entire nation and congratulate His Excellency the President for what he delivered to this House that has given hope to many people.

    And finally, Mr. Speaker, I can only call the Address of His Excellency the President, first, courageous; second, patriotic; and third, visionary.

    Mrs Agnes Chigabatia (NPP --

    Builsa North): Mr. Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to contribute to the President's State of the Nation Address which I see as very laudable.

    Mr. Speaker, as a nation there are critical issues to be tackled and the State of the Nation Address seeks to do this rather thoroughly for us. This State of the Nation's Address carries the vision and policies of the Government, which will move this our dear country forward. In view of this, I urge the whole House and the country in general to see it as an Address that would spur us on in our developmental efforts.

    Mr. Speaker, touching on education, I must say the institution of the Capitation Grant in public schools is in the right direction because it is an opportunity to achieve the objectives of the Free Compulsory Universal Basic Education (FCUBE) policy. Part of the educational reform is to extend the policy of FCUBE to kindergarten to equalise opportunities for all children from age four. This initiative will afford everyone the opportunity to send his or her child to school to acquire the foundation and skills which, when built upon in later days, would help the country in its developmental process.

    Mr. Speaker, again the President is resolved to see to it that this scheme is sustained and by that he emphasised that a lot of classrooms, books and other study materials should be bought and given to strengthen the teaching staff to enhance quality in education delivery.

    Mr. Speaker, when recently I was in my constituency, precisely Builsa North, there was 100 per cent increase in enrolment

    and, in fact, everyone even wants to give more birth to children to ensure that they get that free and compulsory education.

    Mr. Speaker, the Government is initiating action towards the establishment of hire-purchase systems to cushion teachers. At first we were made to understand that teachers were the poor people in Ghana. That is history. This able Government of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) is ensuring that teachers are going to rub shoulders with their colleagues in other areas.

    Again, the Government is ensuring that teachers are given study leave to go for higher education and still be maintained at their posts. This is something for which we must all say “Hallelujah” to our able President of Ghana.

    Mr. Speaker, I urge my hon. Colleagues not to run away. They should come back; the House needs them. They should come back and together we would move Ghana forward.

    There is yet another laudable policy, that is, the long awaited Students Loans Trust. It has also been established this year with disbursements to commence from the beginning of the year 2006 and 2007 academic years. we therefore urge students, parents and guardians to help sustain the Trust by repaying loans given to them.

    Mr. Speaker, His Excellency also talked about the development of the human
    Dr. Nduom 12:15 p.m.

    resource, which is a great asset a nation can offer its people; and that is what the Government of the NPP is embarking upon. The huge investments in special education and the health sector are in the right direction. An estimated 250,000 jobs have been created over the past two years. Imagine when we add another two years, we would be getting about 500,000 jobs.

    The environment is also another crucial factor to the development of Ghana. Ghanaians know what is right but we do not want to do what is right at the right time. I would just give you a short experience that I had. A well-dressed gentleman, weeweeing on a wall - I walked boldly to the man and said; “My brother, what you are doing is not correct.” All that he told me was that, “Wo de asaase firi wokrom baa aha? Go away.” This is very wrong about Ghanaians and we should not always be blaming our ignorance on this able Government.

    Mr. Speaker, people also talk about “no money in pockets”. I think the problem of long-term finance for businesses is being dealt with through the Venture Capital Fund and Export Development Fund, while a micro-loan scheme has been put in place throughout the country. Registration of businesses is also being reviewed because the Government aims at a one-stop registration centre as the ultimate goal. This will build investor confidence and attract more investors into the country for our benefit.

    Mr. Speaker, the Government is spearheading an export promotion drive through the Ghana Investment Promotion Council and the export processing zone. we talk about made-in-Ghana goods. The kente cloth is our traditional fabric; the northern smock is our traditional fabric; but now, what do we do? what do we see?

    we go to functions and this beautiful kente cloth is spread on the table; something we treasure should not be misused. Imagine any of my hon. Colleagues wearing a rich kente cloth to chair a function only to see the same kente cloth spread on the table. what an insult. Let us try and protect our fabrics.

    Mr. Speaker, on this note, I must say that our President is not only a listening President, he is a father who really wants to move Ghana forward. And by this, I pray that my hon. Colleagues, all together, would say a big “Thank you” to His Excellency, our President.

    Deputy Minister for Finance and Economic Planning (Dr. A. A. Osei ): Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for giving me the opportunity to contribute to the motion on the floor. Under normal circumstances I would be trying to remind hon. Members of the economic achievements of the President, but the President is the better speaker for himself.

    Mr. Speaker, I can talk about the Volta Aluminium Company (VALCO), but I will not. Sometimes people forget about the achievements of this Government. I can talk about the Capitation Grant, but I will not because the President has already told us. I can talk about the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) and multi-lateral debt relief, almost to the tune of over $4 billion, but I would not.

    This is because my hon. Colleagues on the other side know that even though in 2001 when the President took the decision on HIPC all of them opposed him, but now, I want to go on record so Ghanaians should understand that all hon. Members who are supposed to be on the other side have been given generous amounts of ¢200 million each from the HIPC debt

    relief to develop their Constituencies - [Hear! Hear!] Mr. Speaker, the point is that this is not the first time they are opposing something that is very good.

    I can talk about home-ownership schemes for teachers, but I will not, because the teachers know they are going to be getting it. I can talk about affordable housing which is going on in Nungua, Ayigya, Kpone, and all around the country. But, Mr. Speaker, I will not because people will see it for themselves.

    “we must realise that the strength and beauty of democracy lie in the power of choice”

    Mr. Speaker, they have chosen to march on the streets; we have chosen to debate the Bill and pass it. Mr. Speaker, the President went further to state, and I quote;

    “we must be careful not to let people who do not subscribe to the tenets of democracy take advantage of the freedoms guaranteed thereunder to subvert democracy.”

    Mr. Speaker, we have had one of the hon. Members on the other side use the word “nauseating” in this House; another hon. Member said “mayhem.” Mr. Speaker, I can go on and on but I will not. Mr. Speaker, the point I want to make here -- and I want to quote further. The

    President said:

    “In any case, why is there so much nervousness about something initiated a decade ago by some of those now protesting?”

    Then, Mr. Speaker, he ended that paragraph by saying:

    “There must be an unwholesome motive to the protest, to which the country should be alerted.”

    Mr. Speaker, if I were on the other side, I would be worried. Mr. Speaker, why do I say that? Mr. Speaker, the history of our nation tells us that between 1981 and 1992 there were two sets of Ghanaians: One, I define as those who went on voluntary exile; and the other, a large group who went on involuntary exile. Mr. Speaker, I went on voluntary exile before that period. I lived abroad for 21 years and I can tell you, you should go there now and see some of those who went on involuntary exile. Mr. Speaker, some of them are old. Even the younger ones are the ones I feel sorry for.

    After all these why did they go on involuntary exile? Mr. Speaker, I do not want to recall all the things that happened; we know them. People disappeared and we have not found them yet; some of them, their families are in this House. Sometimes, I wonder; the people on the other side, when they travel abroad and they see these people what do they tell them? That the constitution says they have a right but we sit here and deny them?

    Mr. Speaker, sometimes I ask myself, why did the previous three Parliaments refuse to change this law? How? was it fear? I urge my hon. Colleagues, those of us who are new in this Fourth Parliament, to let us save all Ghanaians and not sit over an illegality. If history is going to praise us, it is only because we chose to correct an
    Mr. David Oppong 12:25 p.m.

    Ofoase/Ayirebi): Mr. Speaker, I would like to support the motion 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 December, 2006 which was moved by the hon. Member for the Okaikoi South (Hon. Nana Akomea).

    Mr. Speaker, in supporting the motion I would like to briefly touch on page 6 of the Address where the subtitle is, “Government's Role in Assuring Rapid Implementation of Policies and Programmes”,

    And here the operative phrase is “rapid implementation”.

    Mr. Speaker, the inability of our institutions and agencies to carry out the spirit and letter of our policies has been our nemesis as a country. Over the years, we have had very beautiful policies; over the years we have built very beautiful strategies; but when it came to implementation we had been found wanting. These are reasons why this Government and this President's emphasis on good governance is something that gives me hope.

    There is some link between policy formulation and policy implementation, and that link is the governance system. The governance system of every nation is required to help implement programmes. Mr. Speaker, a good governance system provides the impetus for action. A governance system provides the controlling environment during project implementation so that projects would be implemented and so that the abuses of office would be curtailed.

    Mr. Speaker, the governance system gives us checks and balances for optimizing the use of our scarce resources and even, as a last resort, it provides sanctions for wrong-doing and thereby promotes responsible behaviour among public officers. So it is really a good sign of hope for the nation that the President intends to strengthen the Presidency and the Government. To quote his exact words from page 6 of the Address, the President said and I quote:

    “Mr. Speaker, I am determined to strengthen the Presidency and consequently Government to achieve the vigorous, purposeful and effective implementation of

    policies that government envisages.

    As I speak, a restructuring of roles and responsibilities for streamlining the Presidency is being undertaken with the view to optimizing the performance of all Ministries, Depa r tmen t s and Agenc ie s of government on time-action principle.”

    The President further called on the other arms of Government to adopt such a principle which cannot be said to be interference but a positive attempt to share best practices. This policy must be taken to all levels of our governance system. And when I talk about our governance system, I am talking about Board of Directors, Commissions, Authorities, District Assemblies and all who are concerned with implementing Government policies. On paper, we have elaborate government systems like I have mentioned earlier on, but we still have a huge gap between policy formation and implementation. And you can see it from previous Addresses by the President that this is something that he wants to tackle.

    If you remember, Mr. Speaker, in the 2006 Budget, there was a whole chapter on implementation challenges. These institutions must be strengthened. These institutions need to be strengthened so that they can cope with the growing challenges of modern development. In our efforts to bridge the gap between policy and implementation, we need to develop, as a people, the concept of what I call, ‘process ownership' -- People who are committed to ensuring that whatever we start would be completed.

    we need to have people who would own the policies that we have and who would commit themselves to see through
    Mr. David Oppong 12:25 p.m.
    to its logical conclusion anything that we begin as a Government, so that the end effect would come to benefit our people. This is the commitment we need from everybody. This is the commitment we need from those who have been put into governance and leadership positions.
    Mr. Speaker, I would also like to talk about the Government's theme of investing in people and investing in jobs. The theme of human resource development is not meant to be an end in itself. The final objective of any meaningful human resource development is to create human capital; the human capital that we require to complement our other resources to move this country. we need to add value to our human resource through targeted interventions in the areas of education and health, especially. Everything we do is about people and therefore, a Government, and for that matter a President who puts his people at the centre of his policies must be commended.
    Mr. Speaker, a lot has been said about the Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill but, as a layman, sometimes I find the kind of arguments being put out in the newspapers and on the radio a bit strange. People have argued that our present electoral laws do not prevent people outside from voting and that if they so wish they can fly home, come here to spend some time, register and then vote. Unfortunately, in the same breath, this same people are wondering what might happen if we open voting centres in, say London, to people who live outside London. These are people who do not find anything wrong with people flying all the way to Ghana to vote but find everything wrong if they have to travel some distances, say Liverpool to London to vote.
    Mr. Speaker, it has become clear that
    there is nothing that the opposition has against the Bill. All the arguments being made are based on implementation and it surprises me that they will not even allow the Bill to come in so that we discuss implementation.
    Mr. Speaker, the time has come for all of us, with one voice, and as people representing our various constituencies to uphold the Constitution and strongly support the passage of this Bill.

    Mrs. Gifty Eugenia Kusi (NPP

    - Tarkwa Nsuaem): Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for the opportunity to contribute to the motion that this House thanks His Excellency, the President for the Message on the State of the Nation.

    Mr. Speaker, the President, indeed, deserves commendation because this Address enumerated a lot of achievements on the basis of which has set Ghana, our dear country, has been set on a high pedestal among many countries in the world.

    Mr. Speaker, the NPP Government our which the President presides, indeed, has demonstrated that however bad the situation is, with competent, dedicated and serious people, the hopeless situation can be changed to a better one.

    Mr. Speaker, we were all in this country when the NPP Government took over the affairs of this country. Majority of Ghanaians, Mr. Speaker, and I stress “majority”, were happy to give the mandate to this government to take Ghana to paradise. Mr. Speaker, having been given the mandate, the President selected a team of able, dedicated, hardworking Ministers and other leaders to work
    Mr. David Oppong 12:35 p.m.
    assiduously to bring our dear country out of the dungeons. Mr. Speaker, and true to his word, the President on page 5, paragraph 5 of the Address said and I quote, with your indulgence:
    “. . . the vision and policies are right, the structures are in place and a firm foundation has created the plateau to serve as the spring board for launching accelerated growth. The challenge now, Mr. Speaker, is launching this accelerated growth. In practical terms this Challenge translates into vigorous, purposeful and effective implementation and monitoring in the conduct of business in all sectors of society, both public and private.”
    Mr. Speaker, time will not allow me to catalogue the series of difficult decisions, which the President took to bring this country to this level.
    Sometimes, hon. Ministers of State even had to agree to deny themselves of salary increase, which were enjoyed by all workers of Ghana.
    Mr. Speaker, it is only from the NPP that you can get men who can sacrifice to this extent. Mr. Speaker, as a result of these measures, our development partners were amazed at the rate at which Ghana, our beloved country, had progressed from uncertainty, from despair to a country of hope, a country of happiness.
    Mr. Speaker, there is no doubt, that a study recently held ranked Ghana as the tenth happiest country in the world. Mr. Speaker, recently, I was at a seminar which had the theme “Restoring Political Faith in the Political Process”. Mr. Speaker, a world Bank Programme Manager who
    gave a paper on this topic gave us some data on a number of countries, which had really done well of late and Ghana was among the countries. I was very, very happy.
    Mr. Speaker, I want to put on record that this is a responsible Government. Mr. Speaker, when the President mentioned the expansion of infrastructure, including development of schools, you heard my hon. Colleagues on the other side shouting, “GETFund,” “GETFund.” Mr. Speaker, if the NPP Government had not come to power, the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund), would never have been opened. Mr. Speaker, the law was passed in April 2000, and immediately collection began.
    Mr. Speaker, it was not until we came to power in January 2001 that the GETFund account was operationalised; and before then the deductions were being made. The former hon. Minister for Finance is here to attest to this assertion. Mr. Speaker, so if now we are utilizing the GETFund for the benefit of Ghanaians, the Government needs to be commended.
    Mr. Speaker, Ghana has done a lot and as such our debts are being cancelled from one institution to the other. Mr. Speaker, that is not all; we are also going access to the Millennium Challenge Account.

    Mr. Speaker, if we had not performed well nobody would have even looked at us in the face. Mr. Speaker, we have a proverb in Fante which says that se eto preko nam, na se etia a wodoe sebo nam so fir wo. Mr. Speaker, literally it means that if you are honest enough to pay for the meat of the pig - then the meat of the lion will also be credited to you. [Laughter] You know the lion is a very expensive animal. And therefore, if Ghanaians are now enjoying so much
    Nana Yaw E. Ofori-Kurugu (NPP - Bosome-Freho) 12:35 p.m.
    Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for giving me the opportunity to contribute to the motion on the floor. I congratulate the President for touching on an area that is very dear to my heart, that

    Mr. Speaker, many Ghanaian workers have been grappling with this problem for many years and at last, as the President mentioned on page 13 of his Address and
    Mr. Speaker, if I may quote 12:35 p.m.
    “. . . at long last the housing sector is coming into its own”.
    Mr. Speaker, cheap houses are badly needed in Ghana - cheap and affordable houses, for that matter. Lack of accommodation is becoming a big problem due to increases in our population over the years. And our landlords are making the matters worse by constantly increasing our rents and getting to a stage whereby our dear workers are being thrown out of their houses together with their luggage day in, day out.
    Mr. Speaker, we need to build more of
    these houses and I commend the Ministry for water Resources, works and Housing for taking the bold initiative recently in Kumasi to launch 800 flats. Mr. Speaker, 800 flats indeed is a good start but we need a lot more than that. Mr. Speaker, the spill offs from these projects will be unbelievable; masons, carpenters, women and all sorts of people are going to be working for a long time.
    Mr. Speaker, government bungalows is another area; recently the Public Accounts Committee said in their Report that about 60 per cent of government bungalows are in a deplorable state. Mr. Speaker, if we get on and renovate these houses, a lot of revenue can be raised from the bungalows; in so doing, property taxes could also be reaped from private property owners and this can be taken very seriously.
    Hon. Hackman Owusu-Agyemang
    recently when launching the project in Kumasi, promised that affordable mortgages were going to be made
    Mr. Akwasi Afrifa (NPP - Fomena) 12:45 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to also add my voice to the debate and
    then also to thank the President for the wonderful State of the Nation Address given to us as a Parliament.
    Mr. Speaker, a lot have been said about education and therefore I would only say one or two things concerning that and go deep into democracy. Mr. Speaker, we all know what the Free Compulsory Universal Basic Education (FCUBE) and the Capitation Grant as well as the school feeding programme have done for this country within this short period of their introduction The Ministry of Education and Sports reports that about six hundred thousand pupils have been admitted to our schools since the introduction of the Capitation Grant. This poses a problem, -- a problem of teachers to handle these new entrants into our schools as well as stationery and even our classrooms.
    But Mr. Speaker, it is wonderful how the problem-solving Government led by His Excellency the President and supported by an able Cabinet has gone around this problem. Mr. Speaker, just about four or five months ago Government introduced the Volunteer Teachers Corps where in all the districts people have been recruited to go and teach in these schools, especially the schools in our distressed communities in our rural areas.
    Mr. Speaker, I chanced to take part in a matriculation ceremony for these teachers in a programme where distance learning has become an incentive so that during the vacations these newly recruited teachers would all have the opportunity of attending Teacher Training Colleges and would be taught in six key subjects - Mathematics, the Science, Ghanaian Language, Physical Education and Education Methodology Therefore within a span of four years these untrained teachers will become trained teachers. Mr. Speaker, this interesting course is to train them to qualify to become diplomats in Basic Education.
    Mr. Akwasi Afrifa (NPP - Fomena) 12:55 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, look at how Government has gone round this problem; it is beautiful, and it is all over the place. The three northern regions and the Afram Plains had their share; the Ashanti and Brong Ahafo Regions had their share last December; and the rest of the country that is, the southern regions had their share before the end of the year - a problem - solving Government. It is interesting also that we have over twenty-four thousand pupil teachers in the system and by this programme Government hopes to reduce the number to the barest minimum by the year 2015.
    Mr. Speaker, another interesting aspect of the educational system especially under the implementation of the new Educational Reform Policy is the issue of decoupling the Inspectorate Division from the Ghana Education Service. Mr. Speaker, page 8 of the President's captures this. Mr. Speaker, I started as a teacher, a trained teacher, of course, before entering the university and then also came to the Law School to learn some law. But Mr. Speaker, there is one thing that I saw as a teacher. w hen you go to the constituencies today you will find that teachers are not working as hard as they should or as we were doing during our days and it is so because of the weakness in the Inspectorate Division.
    who supervises the teacher in the schools? They say circuit officers. How many are they? They have been given motorbikes to go round but they are not as effective as they should be. why? Because probably they are all in the same system, that is the Ghana Education Service, under the same umbrella. So when it is decoupled and the Inspectorate Division is put under the Ministry of Education and Sports then these officers would be in a better position to go to the
    schools to ensure that our teachers do what is expected of them so that there would returns on the huge investments that have been made by the Government.
    Mr. Speaker, the School Feeding Programme is also contributing so marvelously to the development of education and especially helping to enroll many of our children who are on the streets into the schools. Mr. Speaker, the Chairman of the Committee that is handling the School Feeding Programme, Dr. Amoako Tuffuour the other time said they were going to the Sene District in the Brong Ahafo Region and they knew they were going to feed 35 pupils in that particular school in a village, but when they got there and the children saw and heard that Government was there to cook for them to eat, those who never even went to school were around and the number reached 81; that was at Sene District in the Brong Ahafo Region. So this is a pragmatic leader who is more concerned with the manpower development of this country.
    Today we see our children on the streets and we all complain. How did they come unto the streets? They are dropouts or those who never attended schools or who went to school but did not do so well to be able to enter the senior secondary school (SSS) after the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) or after SSS to get into the universities.
    Mr. Speaker, I am concerned. It is for this reason that the other time I looked very carefully into the child labour survey of the Ghana Statistical Service and got to know that in fact, in 2001 one million two hundred and seventy three thousand children between the ages of five and seventeen were engaged in child labour.
    Mr. Speaker, I get said because I am looking at the future multiplier effects
    of these children when they grow into adults. It is not even necessarily that they may become social miscreants like armed robbers and so on but they grow up and they will also pick up wives and husbands. These young ones did not get anything; they do not have anything and yet by social demand they marry and then they will also produce children. what are they going to give their children? Akans have a nice proverb that goes, kwaterekwa se obema wo ntoma a tie ne din; he who has no has nothing to give you. So if these young men and women who are now going to procreate do not have anything, then what are they going to give to their own children that they are going to bring into this world? So I see a perpetuation of the cycle of poverty.
    Mr. Speaker, when we look into the youth employment activities of government, apprenticeship and all those things, I will urge my Government to do even more than that. I am praying that if possible some of the secondary schools in the country should be converted into vocational and technical school if possible, like it has been done with the modern schools; one modern school for a district. If it is possible there should be one vocational/technical school for the districts so that these dropouts, as some people would like to cal them but which I do not agree they never do well? I do not agree. Everybody has a talent, a potential that has been endowed him or her by his creator or her creator and if given that opportunity can shine.

    Two years back we also read and heard about the President of - [Pause.] Sorry, I have forgotten, but he was a shoeshine boy in the United States of America (USA) -- Brazil. Today he is the President of a great republic like Brazil. So who knows

    what will come out of these young ones we see in the streets? And this is what Government is going to do.

    Mr. Speaker, I would therefore like to appeal through you, if you find it convenient, for the Minister for Manpower, Youth and Employment probably to come and brief the House one day on the youth employment situation in the country, and then to also talk about how the ¢50 billion ceded money for the apprenticeship and youth training has been disbursed so that we would appraise ourselves with this wonderful programme.

    Mr. Speaker, let me turn my attention

    to democracy the matter which page 16 of our President's Address talks about. Mr. Speaker, the last paragraph of page 16 and the first paragraph on page 17 -- I quote:

    “we must realize that, the strength and beauty of democracy lie in the power of choice. we must be careful not to let people who do not subscribe to the tenets of democracy take advantage of the freedoms guaranteed thereunder to subvert democracy”

    Mr. Speaker, what are the tenets of democracy that probably my President is talking about? My own research has helped me to come out with this, that in a truly democratic system, as we understand, especially those of us on this side of the political divide in the House, there must be a government that wields its authority to rule from the expressed opinion of the electorate, the people of the country. And if the people vote either through the ballot box or they speak and they say that this is what we like this is what is given them. And this is what the people of this country did on December 7, 2004; that they chose the NPP as the political party under the hegemony of His Excellency J. A. Kufour to rule this country for a period, that is all.
    Mr. Speaker 12:55 p.m.
    I hope you are winding up.
    Mr. Afrifa 12:55 p.m.
    Yes, Sir. I respect that, Mr. Speaker. A responsible Opposition which is also an alternative to the Government and they are there. we recognize them as a strong Opposition, - that is the NDC. But are they responsible? [Some hon. Members: No] -- Mr. Speaker, less than a week ago the African Cup of Nations Tournament ended in Cairo, Egypt.
    Football was never played in the streets of Cairo;, these games were played in the stadium. This is the place for political agitation and debate in this country. So they should leave the streets and come and tell us their piece of mind so far as this Bill is concerned.
    But again, as I was saying, majority rule is central. How do we resolve all these disputes in democracy? Yes, Prof. K. A. Busia said - and I am quoting him from his “Struggle for Democracy,” “In every democratic system African the views of the Opposition must always be respected..” But inbetween is tolerance; just as we are tolerating them, just as the system is tolerating them, they must also tolerate the majority opinion -- [Hear!Hear!] That is why I said that it is central to democracy.
    I was here when hon. J. H. Owusu- Acheampong who was the Minister for Parliamentary Affairs and Majority Leader said, yes, let the Opposition talk, talk, and talk but the majority must have its way. This is what he told us; I was here; I was a Member of this Parliament. we have allowed them - the hon. Minority Leader, Mr. A. S. K. Bagbin had over two and a half hours to present the submission which he read and nobody said anything; that is tolerance.
    Mr. Afrifa 1:05 p.m.

    Deputy Minister for Education and Sports (Mrs. Angelina Baiden- Amissah): Mr. Speaker, thank you for permitting me to contribute to the debate on the State of the Nation Address delivered by His Excellency, President John Agyekum Kufuor on Tuesday, 31st January, 2006.

    Mr. Speaker, on that day I came to the Chamber partially ill, thinking that I was going to hear “the same thing” as said by the Opposition. But Mr. Speaker, as I sat in and listened suddenly my ailment starting moving out; suddenly I started gathering vibrancy; suddenly I became revived and I was booming with happiness because of the very letter of the Address. Mr. Speaker, the Address was not only upswing -- oriented, but it had a better component; it was so reviving and to tell the truth I was filled. And if I say “filled,” I am not talking about just being filled in mind or whatever, but I was actually filled with food for thought.

    Mr. Speaker, when something is good it must be praised. I do not see the reason why others could not perform and if this Government is performing they cannot

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to turn to the issue of human resource development, and as I mention human resource development, I want to touch on the Capitation Grant. Much has been said about the Capitation Grant, but I want to give an eye-witness account to it because I have had the opportunity of going round some schools in some selected districts and I saw for myself what has happened.

    Mr. Speaker, the Capitation Grant has actually performed wonders. [Hear! Hear!] Girls, who have developed breasts, what I mean is that adolescents have come back to school and are now in the primary schools. Boys, who are developing beards, have come back to school and are now in the primary schools. [Hear! Hear!]

    Mr. Speaker, it become necessary for me to interview some of them as to the reason why they had to drop out of school and what they said was that, some of them had lost their parents, some had single parents; others had both parents but there was nobody to pay their school fees and that was the reason why they had dropped out. For others, their parents have a lot of children and it was difficult to take care of some of them, so the unfortunate ones had to drop out.

    But when they heard of the FCUBE, and the Government Capitation Grant which permit every child of school-going- age to go to school without payment of school fees, they on their own decided to go to school. So they had to tell their guardians that, “Papa, Mama, I want to go to school.” Some of them were still

    wearing the school uniforms they wore before they dropped out and since they had outgrown the school uniforms one could see the uniforms very tight on their bodies, but some non-governmental organisations (NGOs) had even promised to give them school uniforms.

    Mr. Speaker, even in some deprived areas, areas where schooling was nothing to them, a lot of children have been put in classes one and kindergarten, the pre- school. I visited Enchikrom in the Brong Ahafo Region in the Sunyani municipality and I realised that most of the children in the kindergarten were wearing mufti, they were not in their school uniforms just because parents could not afford. But the children wanted to be in school, so they were in school and were being taught.

    Mr. Speaker, we cannot talk of increase in enrolment and forget about textbooks. I remember that I once said here when I was contributing to the debate on the Budget that textbooks had not been brought to the schools. The Government had actually brought together some experts to work on textbooks and they have also improved upon the curriculum. So textbooks had been written along the same lines and it was difficult to bring the textbooks by the publishers.

    But as I speak now a lot of textbooks have landed in classrooms. I went and saw the textbooks myself, went through some of them and even supervised the work of teachers and I realised that teachers are now serious. Yes, teachers are now serious and they were seriously marking - And I had the opportunity of going through some exercise books of the children to ascertain whether teachers were only trying to mark the exercises because of my presence but I realised that some of them had been marked long ago; there were just a few books on top to be marked, and according
    Mr. Afrifa 1:15 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, as I talk about increase in enrolment, I would like to support it with some figures. This was written by the Ghana Education Service, in 2005/2006 academic year and it is a:
    “Report on the Implementation of Capitation Grant.”
    Mr. Speaker, looking at the increases for the 2005/2006 academic year, the pre-school increased in enrolment is 200,461, representing 36.58 per cent; primary - 331,133, representing an increase of 14.22 per cent; and for junior secondary school, an increase of 84,845, representing an increase of 10.32 per cent. And for the overall total, aside from the 17 districts that have not submitted their new enrolment figures, we have 16.67 per cent increase, that is around 17 per cent.

    Mr. Speaker, if you look at the gender index for boys, we have an increase of 15. 18 per cent, and for girls, 18.31 per cent. So if people are saying that the girls are still at home and that they are not going to school, what are they saying? If you look at the figures, we have 18.31 per cent as against 15. 18 per cent for boys, and what it is trying to say is that from pre-school to the Junior Secondary School (JSS), we can see an increase all over, regardless of gender.

    Mr. Speaker, an hon. Member of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) whose name I would want to withhold because he is not here, once said that, capitation or no capitation, children in the North have no interest in going to school.

    That money does not move children in the North and that that money which the Government is paying as Capitation Grant must be given to their parents to farm so that they can buy food to feed their children. Mr. Speaker, I want to prove that person wrong by quoting these figures. this I a comparison of 2004/2005 and 2005/2006 gender enrolment ratio in primary schools by regions; and the person who said it is from the North.

    Mr. Speaker, if you look at the Northern Region, gross enrolment ratio, we have 80 per cent as against 90 per cent for this year. So it iseighty for the previous year and then ninety for this year, all in percentages. If you look at the Upper East Region - it is provided in histogram. If you look at the Upper west Region, you have 78 per cent as against 84 per cent. So the 84 per cent is the figure for 2006. And for the Volta Region, you have 82 per cent as against 90 per cent. So Mr. Speaker, if you look at all these figures and people are going about making noise, I do not know where their noise will lead them to. Perhaps I would take it that they have not come to real terms with what is happening in schools and that is the reason why they are just saying anything, or for the fact that they could not do it and the NPP Government has actually shot up with regard to improvement in the education system, they are just going about saying anything.

    Mr. Speaker, still talking about human resource development, there has been training of pre-school teachers, and basic school teachers. I am talking about primary and JSS teachers. Their heads were trained to go and re-train them. Mr. Speaker, even Vice Chancellors have been trained in human resource management. There was a time I called the Vice Chancellor of Kwame Nkrumah University of Science

    and Technology (KNUST) and he told me that they were under-going some training in the western Region, precisely Busua Pleasure Beach. And I asked, what for? He said: “we are now in school”. So the Government is training everybody who has something to do with education and it is a step in the right direction.

    Mr. Speaker, a lot has been said about training of teachers. Yes, earlier on we had twenty-four thousand untrained teachers. Last year we organized what we call untrained teachers training in basic education and we trained a thousand, eight hundred and forty untrained teachers. They are to undertake the course in four years so that they can also get the diploma certificates. This is in addition to the conventional training schools that we have and they would also would finish in a matter of three years with the diploma certificates.

    Mr. Speaker, the first batch that I have talked a thousand, eight hundred and forty of them are from the three northern regions and the Afram Plains. we have just moved to the Ashanti and the Brong Ahafo Regions and twelve thousand plus untrained teachers registered. we started the training last December and next year we would go to the western, Central, Volta and other regions. we hope to be able to cover all untrained teachers -- and they are all being trained for four years -- so that as they remain in the classrooms to help teach children, they also upgrade themselves. So they will have on-the-job- training so as to upgrade themselves and take the certificates required of them to fit into the school reforms.

    A lot of noise has been made about civic education, that we are talking of school reforms without having embodied any civic education. Mr. Speaker, I am proud to say that in the curriculum there are topics on civic education, for example, the Constitution is there, even school
    Mr. Speaker 1:15 p.m.
    Hon. Deputy Minister for Energy, your name is not on my list - [Laughter.] Let her continue.
    Mrs. Baiden-Amissah 1:15 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, his name is not on your list, so do not mind him. Mr. Speaker, if you look at the elaborate plans of the Ministry of Youth, Employment and Manpower Develop- ment, you would know that our youth are actually going to be prepared for the world of work. So let us all embrace and push or assist the Government - [Interruption.]
    Deputy Minister for Manpower,
    Youth and Employment ( Mrs. Frema Osei-Opare) -- rose --
    Mr. Speaker 1:15 p.m.
    Hon. Deputy Minister, do you have any point of order to raise?
    Mrs. Osei-Opare 1:15 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, just a point of correction. I know our name has changed over the years but currently we have been christened Ministry of Manpower, Youth and Employment.
    Mr. Speaker 1:15 p.m.
    All right, let her continue. I hope you are winding up now?
    Mrs. Baiden-Amissah 1:25 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. Colleague for the correction but I want to know who christened them? was it done in the Catholic Church or the Methodist Church? - [Laughter.]
    Mr. Speaker, now that the youth are going to be trained so that they can fit into the world of work, I know that all vices such as smoking, armed robbery et cetera that come about due to idleness would be curtailed, if not totally washed out of the system.

    Mr. Speaker, a lot of noise is being made on the Representation of People (Amendment) Bill (ROPAB). This ROPAB, we are told, the idea was mooted in 1992 and what some Ghanaians said was that the time was not ripe for it. Then it came again in 1996 and what they said was that they liked the principle but time was still not ripe. It came again in 2004 when I was a Member of Parliament and people started making noise here and there - Earlier on, they said they did not even like it; it should not even come to the floor of Parliament. But when they heard the good things being said about it, they said they were not against the principle but the implementation. Now it has come in 2006 and they are still making the same noise.
    Mr. K. T. Hammond 1:25 p.m.
    On a point of order. Mr. Speaker, the hon. Member just said that when she receives ¢200 million, the Leader of NDC also receives ¢200 million. Is it only the NDC Leader or the The other Members, they receive what? Twenty million or ten million or what? Can she clarify that, Mr. Speaker?
    Ms. Nyamekye 1:35 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, what I
    said was that all of them including their Leader take the money and when they go into their constituencies to make use of it, they make it look like the money came from their pocket. They should acknowledge the fact that this is money that has come to them from the very Bill they so vehemently opposed but which we insisted on passing.
    Mr. Speaker, when the President was in Cape Coast and was addressing the People's Assembly, there was this man that came and made a contribution; he calls himself Dr. Asemfofro. Mr. Speaker, I was so surprised to hear him say that he had registered and was holding a National Health Insurance card and was prepared to go to the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital and even access the National Health Insurance. Now on this one I would say thank God the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital has not started for but for that that man would have benefited.
    Mr. Speaker, I want to use this opportunity to caution Ghanaians. when such people come - This Dr. Asemfofro, I do not know him personally, but we hear him make so much noise on air. He spoke; he campaigned against people going in to register. So if there is anybody who listened to that man, now look at what he has done; he has just succeeded in putting sand in people's eyes. If somebody innocently believed what he said and did not register, he has registered and until the registration period comes again next year they are going to suffer for it.
    There are people who are always out there to deceive and make sure that people suffer for nothing. So Ghanaians should be careful of people like that. Even when it came to the creation of districts, again they walked out; we went ahead and did it. I will talk about my own region, Brong
    Ahafo. The districts and constituencies that were created were four; NDC took three of them so why is it that they always want to create the impression and tell people that we are doing these things because we want to take undue advantage and benefit from them? If that is anything to go by, I will say that we created districts in Brong Ahafo for them to take. It is not the NPP that took them; it is NDC that took them. I do not know about other regions.
    Even in Kumasi, Asawase was created and they took it. So what are they doing? Mr. Speaker, maybe they did not read their government well. They should go back into their books and know that this is a democracy and what we are doing here today is majority rule. If they stay out we are going to vote, any way our President should rest assured; we are here and we will help him pass this Bill.

    Mr. Speaker, when they threaten brimstone and fire falling from heaven or from hell, I do not understand them, because they voluntarily walked out of this place. Mr. Speaker, NPP decided sometime ago not to be in Parliament because of the “Stolen verdict.” For four years we stayed out of Parliament, but for the four years they stayed here in the House and passed Bills, and made rules and laws that are governing us today. So if they think what they have just done is going to stop us, then they are mistaken. This is our chance and we are going to vote and vote very fast and approve this Bill so that it will be binding on them. we are going ahead and we will do it. I do not see what is so strange or what is so peculiar about this law that we are talking about.

    Mr. Speaker, our hon. Colleagues, the opponents, know that when elections

    are being held in other countries, their nationals here in Ghana sit here and vote to influence decisions in their various countries. I will not limit myself to the advanced countries only. I will talk about our immediate neighbours like Niger, Benin, Mali, Burkina Faso and what have you, to mention but a few. Their nationals sit right here in Ghana and they vote. why are they always in a hurry to post information on the internet and the website? It is because they want to capture the community outside Ghana. So if it comes to voting what is so special about us? Are they trying to say that what Mali and other west African countries have been able to do we are not able to do? They should remember that Ghana became the first independent country in Africa, south of the Sahara. So if we had started this thing earlier, by now all the problems that are associated with it would have been cleared. I think the time to start is now. If they have any problems they should better come to the House here and let us think about that; maybe we will accept. But if they sit out there to demonstrate and present whatever they have to present it is only the media coverage that they are looking for. Here in the House, fortunately, they can be covered as well so they must as well come here and do it or else quickly we are going to vote and vote against them.

    Mr. Speaker, I have said enough. I think other people have spoken enough about the ROPAB. I will now move to education.

    In his Address to the Nation the President made mention of the welfare of teachers. Mr. Speaker, I am so pleased about that because professionally I am a teacher. At anytime we go back and meet our colleagues who are still at post they query that most Ghanaian politicians are teachers and yet when they get there they forget about them. I always feel so guilty.

    So today if I say I am pleased, I really am because I really will be able to point

    to the fact that they will continue to go to school on sponsorship and they will be able to get cars and houses as arranged by this Address delivered to the House. Mr. Speaker, when this is done in the way we are doing it, teachers will still remain at post and go through distance education. when they are there they will still offer training to our children and the children will also benefit from their teachers. Mr. Speaker, now that I am part of what the President has done for teachers, I cannot say anything but to say thank you, Mr. Speaker for considering teachers. Teachers have actually felt it - [Interruption] -- Mr. Speaker, I am thanking the President, not the Speaker. [Laughter].
    Mr. K.T. Hammond 1:35 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker,
    the hon. Member is misleading the House. She just said that what the President has done for the teachers she is part of it. She is a Member of Parliament and she is saying that what the President has done for teachers she is part of it. How can that be right.
    Mr. Speaker 1:35 p.m.
    She is still a teacher, let
    her continue.
    Ms Nyamekye 1:35 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, the
    Mr. Speaker 1:35 p.m.
    Hon. Member, this is for you - [Interruptions]
    Ms Nyamekye 1:35 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, what
    I said was that other Governments had not thought about teachers the way the NPP Government has and that is why I am thanking Mr. President for it. I do not mean that he said something about teachers for the first time. Thank you Mr. Speaker.
    Mr. Speaker 1:35 p.m.
    Item 5 - hon. Majority
    Leader, is the Report ready?
    Mr. Owusu-Adjapong 1:35 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, we may need to defer further action on this item.
    Mr. Speaker 1:35 p.m.
    Item 11 - Committee
    Mr. Owusu-Adjapong 1:35 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, I
    believe those who are supposed to attend the Committee meetings to look at the National Identification Bill - might be meeting anytime from now. All that I wanted to remind my hon. Colleagues is that we are scheduling a Committee of the whole on Thursday to discuss the GETFund and therefore this is supposed to be enough notice to them.
    Mr. Speaker, with your permission I beg to move that this House do adjourn till
    tomorrow at ten o'clock in the morning.
    Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 1:35 p.m.
    Speaker, in seconding the motion I want the House to take notice that the Bill before the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs is National Identification Authority Bill and not National Identification Haircut Bill. -- [Interruption] -- I think that is very important. Mr. Speaker, I second the motion.
    Question put and motion agreed to.
    ADJOURNMENT 1:35 p.m.