Debates of 15 Feb 2006

PRAYERS 10:05 a.m.




Mr. Speaker 10:05 a.m.
Order! Order! Correction of Votes and Proceedings, Tuesday, 14th February, 2006. Pages 1 to 4?
Mr. S. K. Adu-Gyamfi 10:05 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, page 4(12) - Adu-Gyamfi, Samuel K. I was absent with permission yesterday.
Mr. Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 10:05 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, page 4. I would want to bring this to the fore. Mr. Speaker, there are 118 Members of Parliament who have been marked present, that is in respect of yesterday's proceedings. Today, I have had several calls because it is alleged that one of the television stations reported that there were only 25 Members of Parliament in the House yesterday. Mr. Speaker, that is grossly incorrect. The records indicate that there were 118 of us present in the Chamber yesterday and for purposes of straightening the records I want this to be put on record.
Mr. Speaker 10:05 a.m.
Pages 5 to 9? - [Pause.] Hon. Members, we do not have any Official Report.
Item 3 - Questions.
Mr. F. K. Owusu-Adjapong 10:05 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I want to crave your indulgence to allow the hon. Deputy Minister for Health who is also a Member of Parliament to respond to Questions on behalf of the Minister.


Mr. J. A. Ndebugre 10:05 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I believe hon. Haruna Bayirga has been caught up in traffic and I have his permission to ask the Question.
Mr. Speaker 10:05 a.m.
Permission granted; ask the Question.
Q. 282. Mr. Ndebugre (on behalf of Mr. Haruna Bayirga) asked the Minister for Health what programme had the Ministry put in place to rehabilitate and facilities at the Gwolla Health Centre and ultimately upgrade the Health Centre to a district Hospital.
Deputy Minister for Health (Mr. Samuel Owusu-Adjei): Mr. Speaker, Sissala West is one of the newly created districts in the Sissala District with Gwollu as its capital. As a result of this development, the Gwollu Health Centre, which is the main facility in that district, needs to be upgraded to a district hospital in line with the Ministry's policy.
Currently, the Ministry is preparing a Hospital Development Policy Paper to prioritise and upgrade all districts without hospitals including the newly created ones. The Gwolu Health Centre will thereafter be rehabilitated and upgraded accordingly.
Mr. Bayirga 10:05 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I am sorry I was not here but I heard the last bit of my Question. I did not expect that my Question would be coming on because I
Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 10:05 a.m.
On a point of order. Mr. Speaker, my hon. Colleague has just said that he was not expecting that his Question would be asked today. In fact, yesterday's Provisional Order Paper advertised his Question and I expected that he would have looked at it and seen that his Question was slated for today. So Mr. Speaker, I want to plead that in future hon. Members should take cognizance of the Provisional Order Paper to know that Questions that they ask have indeed been advertised on the Order Paper.
Mr. Owusu-Agyei 10:15 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, as I said in my Answer, the Ministry is preparing a hospital development policy paper. Gwollu happens to be one of the newly created districts, and for that reason, prioritization is being done; and in the ensuing years - With effect from next year Gwollu is one of the districts which will be upgraded, and a new hospital constructed for the district.
Mr. Bayirga 10:15 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I would want to find out from the hon. Deputy Minister whether he is aware that at the Gwollu Health Centre, pregnant women who are bound to deliver are transported on motor bikes, sometimes on push carts and other things. There is no vehicle in case of accident or emergency to convey patients to the nearest hospital, which is Tumu or Jirapa. I would want to find out what efforts, if he is aware, he is making to get means of transport to convey emergency cases.
Mr. Owusu-Agyei 10:15 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I
Mr. Bayirga 10:15 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I would want to also find out from the hon. Deputy Minister, because the Ministry of Health has promised that all districts will have a medical officer. At the moment we do not have a medical officer to take care of cases that need a doctor's attention. What efforts is he making and when are we going to get a doctor there?
Mr. Owusu-Agyei 10:15 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, my hon. Colleague is aware of the dearth of health personnel in the country. We do not have enough doctors for distribution to all health facilities in the country currently. What is being catered for, for Gwollu is just the nearest health facility where we have doctors. So critical cases are taken care of in a facility very close to Gwollu. When we are able to improve upon the number of personnel that we have in the health sector, particularly that of doctors, we shall be able to post one doctor to the Gwollu Health Centre.
Mr. Speaker 10:15 a.m.
Question 283 -- Hon. Yaw Effah-Baafi - NDC, Kintampo South?
Some hon. Members: He is absent.
Mr. Speaker 10:15 a.m.
Hon. Deputy Minister for Health, thank you very much for appearing.
Majority Leader (Mr. Felix Owusu- Adjapong) 10:15 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, yesterday we were told that a petition relating to the Representation of People (Amendment) Bill had been sent by some concerned citizens to your good self. And we are told the First Deputy Speaker and other
Members of Parliament received it on your behalf.
Mr. Speaker, even though the procedure for sending petitions have not been followed, as required under our Standing Orders, that is, such things will pass through a Member of Parliament, in the light of the interest that has been shown in this Bill, I was going to suggest -- and I am suggesting -- that if possible you will be kind enough to refer this particular memo, letter, or petition to the Chairman of the Committee, that is, the Committee on Constitution, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs so that if they can have any useful input for us to take into account when we have the Consideration Stage of this Bill tomorrow, that will be done.
Mr. Speaker 10:15 a.m.
Hon. Majority Leader, I would exercise my discretion in referring the petition to the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs for consideration.
STATEMENTS 10:15 a.m.

Mr. Nana Amoakoh 10:25 a.m.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for giving me this opportunity to make this Statement which is on landlords, rent-in-advance and the plight of the working class. The workers in this country, like their colleagues in other third world countries, find life very difficult to manage because of the rather low levels of wages and salaries.
For people under such strains and stresses, comfortable accommodation would be good relief. Unfortunately, this is not so because of the rather high levels of rent charges. One is not likely to pay anything less than five hundred thousand
cedis as rent for a two bedroom house in Accra or in any of the other cities. In Accra, in particular the rent is about between six hundred thousand and one million cedis per two bedroom facility. Mr. Speaker, how many of our workers earn up to one million cedis as their monthly salary?
For a single bed room apartment with toilet and bath facilities, one is not likely to pay anything less than three hundred thousand cedis per month. Mr. Speaker, how many of our ordinary workers can part with three hundred thousand cedis per month in respect of rent only? And if they mange the rent charges from which source will they meet other bills?
Mr. Speaker, the only affordable option for families is the single bedroom and a hall apartment without any facility attached in third class residential areas. Most often, such apartments would not go for less than two hundred thousand cedis per month.
What is even more burdensome with regard to accommodation in our urban areas is the demand for the payment of rent-in-advance. Mr. Speaker, to rent any form of accommodation in Ghana, one is very often confronted with the demand for rent-in-advance. The period for which one is obliged to pay such rent-in-advance ranges from two to five years. If paying monthly rent is such a difficulty for the average worker, then one can imagine the difficulty that raising such huge amounts poses to the semi employed, the unemployed and the outrightly unemployed.
However, Mr. Speaker, this practice of demanding rent-in-advance contravenes Section 25 (5) of the Rent Act, 1963, Act 220, which stipulates, and Mr. Speaker, with your permission, I quote:
“Any person who as a condition of
the grant, renewal or continuance of tenancy demands in the case of a monthly or shorter tenancy, the payment in advance of more than a month's rent or in the case of a tenancy exceeding six months, the payment inn advance of more than six months rent shall be guilty of an offence and shall upon conviction by the appropriate Rent Magistrate be liable to a fine …”

Mr. Speaker, apart from demands for rents-in-advance made on people as condition for a grant of accommodation, shylock landlords make it a ritual demand on tenants for continuing their tenancy. Towards the end of every year, the tenant begins to hope that come the following year, the landlord would be charitable with his anal increase in rent. Above all, he stretches his imagination to a point where he hopes to see his landlord putting on hold the demand for rent-in-advance in consideration of the plight of his tenants. Enter the next year, the poor tenant goes borrowing to keep his apartment. Such is the pain; even more nauseating is the fact that here in our own country, Ghana, some landlords demand that such rents- in-advance be paid in dollars.

Mr. Speaker, it is not that tenants are not aware of this provision in the Rent Law that is why they look for money with alacrity to pay up these illegal rent-in- advance for longer duration. Mr. Speaker, what can the tenant do if at the beginning of every year, he is caught between the devil and the deep blue sea? Mr. Speaker, who protects the poor Ghanaian against exploitation such as this if not the law? Are the authorities in charge of rent control unaware of this?
Mr. B. D. K. Adu (NPP - Okere) 10:25 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to contribute to this very interesting statement. I sympathise with the hon. Member who made the Statement. Mr. Speaker, as much as I sympathise with tenants, I also sympathise with the landlords. It takes a lot of effort, and sacrifice to build a house and when a house is built the landlord wants something out of it for his upkeep. And here, Mr. Speaker, a tenant goes to rent a house and after he has paid his first advance or whatever and then the advance is lapses the tenant stays put; he does not even bother to go to the landlord to negotiate; the landlord keeps waiting for his rent and nothing comes. There should be a good dialogue.
In advanced countries even when you rent a council flat and you do not pay, before you realise your things are thrown out, you are thrown out, your things would be taken out. So as much as we are sympathise with tenants, they should also be up-and-doing. They know their obligations; they should know that they are obliged to the landlord. After the landlord has, with all his sweat built a house, you rent and you do not pay your rent. Tenants have got to be responsible because no society will condone that a tenant rents a house and he does not pay his rent; it is not right.
So as much as we sympathise with tenants we should drum it into their ears that once they rent a house it has got to be paid for because it is there you live to do your business or whatever. So the house is not for them, they have rented it and they have got to pay for it. I know some here are suffering the same fate whereby tenants have rented their houses and for years they have not even paid.
Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 10:25 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I think my hon. Colleague, the path that he is treading is very tangential to the issue raised by my hon. Colleague. It is not about responsibility of tenants; it is about high rents in advance. That is the matter that he has raised; he is not talking about tenants living up to their responsibility and paying monthly rents; that is not the issue. So please, he should address the matter.
Mr. Adu 10:25 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, thank you very much. It all boils down to the same thing -- [Laughter.] Because you ask a tenant to come in and pay monthly rent, he pays the first and the second months but the third, he would not pay. So they have made the landlords to be wise now. And so they say, “Well, if you want my house, you pay a year's rent, pay two years' rent.”
And within these two years the tenant should be able to know that he has rent
Mr. K. Adjei-Darko 10:25 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I think that as a House when we are arguing, we should argue using what the law says. The hon. Member quoted the law and the law has not been changed. He quoted the law which stipulates that rent advance should not exceed six months and he has argued as to people collecting up to five years' advance. So if tenants have problems with landlords, does that mean that the House should also condone with illegalities?
Mr. Speaker 10:25 a.m.
Hon. Member for Okere, there is no need to argue, you have only to comment on the statement.
Mr. B. D. K. Adu 10:25 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, it is all because of shortage of houses that is why this is happening. So I sympathise with the situation. The hon. Member who made the statement said that invariably when a rent case is taken to the Rent Contro Board,l the judgement is always in favour of the landlord. I want to tell him, it is not so. The Rent Control Board is doing so well to protect tenants and the Board must be commended on that. So Mr. Speaker, we should not shirk their responsibilities. Landlords also should have sympathy. To end it all, the landlord lives on the rent and as such the tenant should know that because the landlord lives on the rent he or she should endeavour to pay his rent.
Mr. J. K. Hackman (NPP - Gomoa West) 10:35 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I also rise to associate myself with the Statement on the floor. I think the problem that the average tenant goes through in the capital city is very serious. I had been traumatized as a 12-year-old kid when the landlord gave my parents two weeks to quit because their son was coming from overseas. I could feel the problems that my parents went through and it still echoes in my ears. Here in Accra, these days it is very easy for an estate agent to collect a huge amount of fees from prospective tenants and trick them with a house that does not exist; and these incidents continue.
It is even pathetic when one sees prospective tenants who have paid over two years' advance, wishing that the house would be handed over to them and then somebody comes up with a higher amount and their money is sometimes not even refunded. I personally think that the rent control division continues to let prospective tenants down in the capital city and their earlier the law was enforced so that tenants would enjoy the houses that they probably get from landlords - Most landlords collect huge amounts in dollars to start another building and then this continues on and on. Mr. Speaker, if tenants, especially in the capital city will find any relief from the trauma that they go through I think this issue should be properly policed.
And I will also urge the Minister for Water Resources, Works and Housing to make more social housing available because it is tearing the fabric of our society apart, especially when one finds a family of about 11 bungled into a small room that was supposed to serve as a garage without any sanitary facilities.
With this, I wish hon. Members would put their voice together to support tenants in this country so that the Government would make further moves to help them
Mr. Benito Owusu-Bio (NPP - Atwima-Nwabiagya) 10:35 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, thank you for allowing me to contribute to the Statement on the floor. Mr. Speaker, landlord-tenant relationship has been a long standing problem in Ghana, and just as my hon. Colleague who spoke previously said, there has to be a dialogue. Mr. Speaker, we all know that it all begins with a tenancy agreement which spells out the obligations of both parties. Mr. Speaker, in most cases due to the scarcity of houses parties agree to pay rent advance far in excess of what the law even specifies. Mr. Speaker, I think it is time the public was made aware of the provisions of the law because it looks like many are ignorance of this fact.
Mr. Speaker, the landlord's case must also be looked at because the cost of housing in this country is too high. And if we want to increase the housing stock and also prevent tenants from being taken advantage of then there must be some incentives which should be given to people who engage in the provision of houses; incentives such as a waiver of the excise duties on some of the building materials that we use in building houses. This would at the same time help our tenants to also be able to afford the excessive rent advance that they have been paying.
Mr. Simon Osei-Mensah (NPP - Bosomtwe) 10:45 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I wish to contribute to the Statement made by the hon. Member for Upper Denkyirea (Nana Amoakoh). Mr. Speaker, the first thing we have to ask ourselves is, if there is a law why is it that the law is not being adhered to? Mr. Speaker, one, it could possibly be that people are not even aware of the law; and if they are not aware, then there should be some factors that are not making it possible for the law to be fully
Mr. Speaker, the fundamental problem that we see here is the dilemma or the problem between the number of housing stock that we have in the country and the demand for rental accommodation. Mr. Speaker, there is a wide gap between the housing stock; that is the supply of rental accommodation and then the demand for rental accommodation. Mr. Speaker, because of this tenants are compelled to accept some arrangements that even contravene the rent law.
Mr. Speaker, I think it is time that the law was looked at again and if possible the law should be amended to conform to modern trends or modern conditions.
Mr. Speaker, if we look at the problem the tenants are facing, they are multi- faceted; the rent itself is exorbitant. Mr. Speaker, apart from looking at the monthly rent, which is very high, it becomes more expensive when the rent is paid in advance in the sense that money paid today has a higher value than money that will be paid tomorrow. So what the landlords do is that seeing the weakness on the part of the people who are in need of accommodation, they play on these weaknesses and then take a lot of money from these people by taking the rent in advance.
Mr. Speaker, if one should pay, maybe, ¢100,000 a month on monthly installments, it becomes cheaper than somebody who pays maybe the whole ¢100,000 a month for 12 months making about ¢1.2 million. Because Mr. Speaker, if the ¢1.2 million is invested today at the end of the one year the value of ¢1.2 million will be higher than if the monthly installment had been paid. Worse of all, Mr. Speaker, when the landlords realize that maybe they are hard pressed financially then what they do is that they either increase the monthly rent so that whatever rent advance the people
have paid is eaten up quickly and it would give them the opportunity to also take another rent.
And because there are so many people knocking at the door of the landlord if one fails to pay the increases in the monthly rent then the landlord would eject the tenant and give the accommodation to another person, or they will come with threats or information that their child, ward or son is coming from the Untied States of America or the United Kingdom so the tenant would have to quit so that the son comes to stay in that room.
Mr. Speaker, it is gratifying that the Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing is making policies and have started implementing those policies For instance, recently I read that there was a sod-cutting at Ayigya in Kumasi where they are going to put a number of low cost or affordable accommodation to accommodate people; and it is so also at Dodowa and others. These policies, if well implemented, is going to relieve most of these tents of the problems that they face in the hands of the landlords.
Again, the policy to let teachers and farmers acquire their own accommodation is also a laudable idea. But Mr. Speaker, I want to pause here and sound a word of caution to all of us and prospective tenants. Mr. Speaker, anyone who has read the Auditor-General's Report on Management of Government Bungalows would realize that people who are occupying government bungalows fail to pay rent let alone to even rehabilitate these property.
At the end of the day one realizes that these property are run down; they become dilapidated and then they become impossible even to rehabilitate them because the cost of rehabilitating such properties become higher than the cost of
even putting up a new one. So while we are thinking of putting up new accommodation we should sound a word of caution also to prospective tenant that they should make sure that they cultivate the culture of maintenance and to maintain these properties and also to pay their respective rents so that the Government will have enough money to maintain and sustain this project.
Mr. Speaker, another thing I want to look at is that so far we have always relied on conventional forms of housing where we use cement blocks and other things. I think it is time we had a second look at the non-conventional shelter strategies that are available to us so that we can have affordable houses which are put up by using maybe “landcrate.

If you go to some of our villages, we have what we used to call atakpame dan which were made up of these “landcrates” and these houses have been there for almost hundreds of years. I think we can look at this and also look at the “landcrate” system and how we can refine the “landcrate” so as to give us affordable or low-cost housing - not low-cost in terms of quality but in terms of using local materials against the use of, say, cement for which the price keeps on escalating day in day out. So I think it is time we adopted certain non-conventional shelter strategies that will enable us put up more affordable houses.

Mr. Speaker, to conclude, I want to also state here that the land tenure system, especially houses, is something which needs to be looked at again. Mr. Speaker, now because we think there is available land everybody is putting up just a single-storied building. We find single storied,, maximum two-storied buildings scattered around. How we think
Mr. Emmanuel A. Gyamfi (NPP - Odotobri) 10:45 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, first I would like to commend the hon. Member who made the Statement. Provision of housing has been a major problem with Ghanaians and it is high time that we took serious efforts in resolving this issue.
Mr. Speaker, housing problem has been a matter of scarcity where demand has exceeded supply and this problem of landlords charging excessive rent advance is the result of this particular problem that we have. Mr. Speaker, I am very glad that as a result of this problem, the Government has seen the need to intervene in providing affordable housing for the people of Ghana.
Mr. Speaker, as we all know, more housing projects are coming into the country, and to start with, the Government has selected about three areas, especially
Kumasi where about eight hundred flats are going to be constructed; the sod has been cut for this particular project. We also know that some foreign investors have come in to provide around 67,550 housing units for the people of Ghana. This is a good attempt in trying to resolve the housing problem that we are encountering as a nation. I wish to suggest that despite the problem that we have, landlords should not take advantage of tenants as the hon. Member who made the statement said. Though the problem is there, people need to be accommodated and that we must, at least, see the need for housing our neighbours.
Mr. Speaker, at times it becomes very, very serious when landlords covert stores and toilets in their houses into residential purposes. It is very, very bad and detriment to the people. But because there are of accommodation problems, the tenants are forced to live in these kinds of rooms, which are not good. Mr. Speaker, I beg to suggest that despite the problem, landlords should not do such a thing; it is against the will or the basic rights of the tenants to live in such small rooms despite the problem that the person may have.
With these few words, I commend the hon. Member who made the statement for bringing this out for consideration.
Mr. William Ofori Boafo (NPP - Akropong) 10:55 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, thank you very much for allowing me to contribute to the statement on the floor. Mr. Speaker, the statement seeks to invoke the protection that the law affords to the tenant. Significantly, Mr. Speaker, the law itself does not walk to the courts or the tribunals for remedies. It is for the person who is aggrieved to take up the issue and lay it before the appropriate forum, either the court or the rent tribunal. So, Mr. Speaker, it is for us to urge the tenants in Ghana to be more courageous, either as individuals or as a collective
body, as tenants association to take up this matter and seek to enforce the law as it is contained in the Rent Act; otherwise, the law would be there but they will continue to suffer at the hands of the landlords.
Mr. Speaker, looking at the law, as it is now, it appears that the landlords have equally devised means of avoiding being caught by the law. In certain cases, Mr. Speaker, instead of asking for advance rent, the landlord will ask for development fee, development fee for agricultural land or development fee to refurbish a residential accommodation. And they will calculate it in such a way as to make it up squarely to the rent advance required. These are subtle means of circumventing the operation of the law and the attention of the appropriate bodies should be called to this so that if a case appears before them in such a form, they will know exactly how to tackle the issues.
Mr. Speaker, it may be said that some of the tenants are not aware of the existence of this law. Mr. Speaker, this calls to mind the proper role that some of these constitutional bodies are required to play and which they are shying away from. I have in mind a body like the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) which is supposed to educate the citizenry on their rights and this Mr. Speaker, I think is something which should be undertaken by such a body. And also the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), apart from sitting in their offices and receiving complaints, they are also required to educate the citizenry on their basic rights.
Mr. Speaker, with these few points, I thank you very much, for allowing me to make a contribution.
Minister for Water Resources, Works
and Housing (Mr. Hackman Owusu- Agyemang): Mr. Speaker, thank you for the opportunity. I think the sentiments expressed by my hon. Colleagues in this House this morning underscore and underline the fact that the housing stock in this country is woefully inadequate. This is the reason why we have taken the bold initiative - thanks to resources from HIPC to try and address the issue in a very meaningful way. We are trying to make houses affordable. Indeed, a year ago, we were told that a two-bedroomed flat would cost $25,000 or its equivalent. Right now, we are at a level of $12,450 so we have brought it down almost by half.
Mr. Speaker, it is an issue of supply and demand, really, and I think what the hon. Memb4r who made the statement is referring to -- This very big problem that we have -- Indeed, only yesterday I received a draft on the new rent law which is yet to be sent to the Attorney- General, and all these concerns will be addressed. What we seek to do, Mr. Speaker, is to judiciously balance the interest of the tenants as well as the interest of the landlords. At the end of the day, the Government, the state cannot make available to each and everyone of us some form of accommodation and it is not everybody who can also build.

So we have to take due cognizance of

the fact that at least through our policy on social housing we would need some rental units; and so if the Government sets the pace by ensuring that these affordable houses, those that will go for rentals are so managed, and superintended that there will not be the need for these exorbitant rent advances, then we are on the right course. What we seek to do, is to ensure that the company that is managing these estates will be there, and see to not only taking care of the estates but also ensure
Mr. Speaker 10:55 a.m.
At the Commencement of Public Business - Item 5, Laying of Papers.
Mr. Owusu-Adjapong 10:55 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, if we can move on to Item 6.
Mr. Speaker 10:55 a.m.
We will now move to Item 6 on the Order Paper. Ghana National Commission on Children (Repeal) Bill at the Consideration Stage

Mr. Speaker 10:55 a.m.
There is an amendment, Chairman of the Committee.
Chairman of the Committee (Mrs. Esther Obeng Dapaah) 10:55 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, your Committee proposes an amendment as follows: clause 1, add a new subclause as follows: “Ghana National Commission on Children (GNCC) is now Ghana National Commission on Children (Repeal) Bill Cons. Stage converted to a Department of the Ministry of Women and Children's Affairs”.
Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 10:55 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I just had a look at this and I am not too sure that how it has been couched really captures the real sense of what the Committee intends doing. Because, they are saying that the Ghana National Commission on Children (GNCC) is now converted to a Department of the Ministry of Women and Children's Affairs. It is like we are now going to refer to it as the Department under the
Ministry of Women and Children's Affairs. I think that the intent is that it is a department under the Ministry of Women and Children's Affairs. That commission is now a department in the Ministry. But the way it has been captured, Mr. Speaker, is incorrect and I believe the Committee should have a second look at it and capture it in a better way.
Mr. Speaker 10:55 a.m.
What do you have to say to that, Chairperson?
Mrs. Obeng Dapaah 10:55 a.m.
Yes, Mr.
Speaker, it is a department within the Ministry.
Mr. Speaker 10:55 a.m.
It should be a department in the Ministry.
Mrs. Dapaah 10:55 a.m.
Yes, Mr. Speaker.
Question put and amendment agreed to.
Mr. Speaker 10:55 a.m.
There is a further amendment to the Bill.
Mrs. Obeng Dapaah 10:55 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I beg to move, Clause 1, add a new subclause (3) “The designation of the head of the Department shall be Director in conformity with what pertains in Civil Service”.
Mr. Hackman Owusu-Agyemang 10:55 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I was wondering whether we want to tie ourselves down in the law by the designation - calling him the Director. If in future he wants to call himself something else, it has to come back to the House. I believe that this amendment is really not necessary because when we make laws we have to make it so flexible that we will be able to use it any time, so that we do not sort of inundate the Legislature with all manner of things and so that it has to come back.
As it is now, because there was a law establishing GNCC we had to come to
Parliament - So the next time we want to re-designate the Head of the Department s something else we would have to come back to Parliament. I do not think it is necessary. I think admini-stratively this is all right. Whatever you want to call it - In some Ministries they call them Directors, Supervising Directors and what have you. I think flexibility should be given to the Minister to designate as to how he or she wants to call the Head of the Department. So I want to say that it is not necessary, really.
Mr. Akwasi Osei-Agyei 10:55 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I think it should be as it is. I support the Chairman's view because it used to be a Commission and now it is a Department within the Ministry. In the Ministry any person who heads is a Director. So I think it should not be changed.
Mr. William Ofori Boafo 10:55 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I wish to support the Chairman but by taking into account what the Minister for Water Resources, Works and Housing said, if we can make an insertion that will be in conformity with whatever pertains in the Civil Service. In other words, if we can make an insertion to the effect that the person could be called a Director or any other designation in conformity to whatever pertains in the Civil Service, Mr. Speaker, I think that will take care of the situation.
Mr. Owusu-Agyemang 10:55 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I am wondering whether we in fact need to bother ourselves with this exercise. The reason is that I would want to believe that people working under the Ministry will be part of the Civil Service of Ghana. And they have their own rules as to how they designate people through the Civil Service Act.
So all we need to do is to say that they are now under the Ministry and we would have finished with our job. If the next time they decide that they would now want to

call heads of Departments Directors, Chief Directors or Principal Secretaries and the rest that would be by the Civil Service Act. So we are trying to export something which basically should fall under the Civil Service Act into this Act. And one day when they begin to work with the Civil Service Act they would then have to come back and amend this portion. So let us forget about it and let it be a department in the Ministry and then they can go by the rules in Civil Service.
Mr. B. D. K. Adu 11:05 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, on clause 2 where we have a department in the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs - [Interruption.]
Mr. Speaker 11:05 a.m.
We have resolved that matter.
Mr. Samuel Johnfiah 11:05 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, in subclause (3), to allow for flexibility, I want to propose that instead of “the Director” We can delete “the Director” so that it would read “the Director” so that it would read “the designation of the head of Department shall be as pertains in the Civil Service”, so that whenever there is a change it goes with it.
Mr. Hackman Owusu-Agyemang 11:05 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I will be more comfortable with the latest rendition. But as the hon. Majority Leader said That is why I said that this amendment is not necessary because automatically, by virtue of fact that it is a department, the designation will flow out of it, and so it is not necessary. But if it should take place then I will be more comfortable with the rendition given by the last hon. Member who spoke. So whichever way we take it I am all right. My difficulty was putting in the law the title of “Director” and if it is addressed, I am very comfortable with that rendition.
Mr. Speaker 11:05 a.m.
Chairperson, what is your wish?
Mrs. Obeng Dapaah 11:05 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I will listen to the wish of the House [ Laughter.] Whatever is agreed by the House -
Question put and amendment negatived.
Clause 1 as amended ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Clause 2 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Question put and motion agreed to.
The Long Title ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Mr. Speaker 11:05 a.m.
Hon. Members, we have now come to the end of the Consideration Stage.
Mr. Owusu-Adjapong 11:05 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, if you would be kind enough to let us go back to item 5.
Mr. Speaker 11:05 a.m.
Hon. Members, we now go back to item 5 on the Order Paper.
Mr. Kwame Osei-Prempeh 11:05 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I must first apologise for my absence. Because of the referral I was out with my clients, sorting out to see the concerned citizens tomorrow; that is why I was not present here.
PAPERS 11:05 a.m.

Mr. Speaker 11:05 a.m.
Hon. Member, you do not have more than ten minutes, please.
Mr. Gyan-Baffour 11:05 a.m.
Yes, Sir. Mr. Speaker, I am an economist and a Deputy
Minister for Finance and Economic Planning but I am not going to talk or discuss the economic records of this Government, which is a brilliant one, and I am also not actually going to talk about the prudent financial matters embodied in the Address.
Prof. G. Y. Gyan-Baffour 11:15 a.m.
I am rather focusing my contribution, Mr. Speaker, on the dignity of the Ghanaian and the emerging political and economic philosophy of the President and his Administration.
Mr. Speaker, for a greater part of our history since independence from our colonial masters, this country had been ruled from the Christianborg Castle, the home of the colonial master. Mr. Speaker, some, if not most, of our leaders have shared the same bedroom that the slave master slept in. The peoples house has been and continues to be the house of the colonists, the house of the slave master, Mr. Speaker. As stated by one of our illustrious leaders - I am sure we all know him - Africa and indeed Ghana shall never be free until we remove all the vestiges of colonialism. Mr. Speaker, what symbol is a more ocular remnant of colonialism than the Osu Castle? Our continuous use of the Castle as the seat of Government, to me, is an implicit, tacit blow and an unirentional endorsement of colonialism.
Mr. Speaker, if we are consciously or unconsciously glorifying slavery, then where lies our dignity? I am prepared, Mr. Speaker, to live without food; I am prepared Mr. Speaker to live without water; I am prepared not to have asphalt road, Mr. Speaker, than to be subjected to the inhuman practice of slavery, whether real or imaginary.
Mr. Speaker, being proud of our

Independence and yet doling out edicts from the colonial master's quarters is a contradiction in act and in deed. Mr. Speaker, it is on this note that I salute the President for the bold stand to rehabilitate the Peduase Lodge and, indeed, the Flagstaff House. The people can now call the seat of Government the People's House.

If we have to wait until we reach the middle income stage, if we have to wait until we eradicate poverty, if we have to build all roads in Ghana before we begin to build the house that we can all call the People's House, then Mr. Speaker, we will never build one; because no nation on earth has ever been able to eradicate poverty. Few have given all their citizens clean water, yet very few have all their roads asphalted but most nations on earth have the People's Houses, the symbol of their nationhood and the epitome of their dignity.

Hajia Mahama: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, he is copiously reading from a document and that is not the essence of making a statement. He is a Deputy Minister and a Member of this Parliament. He can talk about it without necessarily reading the text.
Mr. Speaker 11:15 a.m.
Mr. Minister, I have not taken note -- [laughter] - Let him continue.
Prof. Gyan-Baffour 11:15 a.m.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker, I am actually not copiously reading from my notes but actually referring to my notes -- [Hear! Hear!] Mr. Speaker, while Mr. President is an ardent believer in property-owning democracy he believes strongly that when it is in the national interest, and for the sake of Ghana first and also for the sake of Ghana incorporated, he will intervene even in private sector operations. He strongly adheres to the basic principles of capitalism but will never shy away from social ownership when it is in the national interest, because to him Ghana incorporated is first and foremost and takes precedence over any other “isms” that we know of.
Mr. Speaker, the President, howeve, cognisant of the fact that there can be a creeping inefficiency into social ownership, has cleverly and intelligently defined an exit strategy; and he says he will offload all the shares that Government has in such organizations to the private sector through the Ghana Stock Exchange. Mr. Speaker, this pragmatism of the President is commendable and it is a bold combination of polarities. He is an avowed Danquah-Busia traditionalist but he will not hesitate to follow or support policies that were mooted by the Nkrumaists, if only -- and to him if only -- it is in the national interest to do so.
To wit, the rehabilitation of the Flagstaff House, the Peduase Lodge, the embellishment of the Accra-Tema Motorway with the interchange at Ashaiman, the full integration of VALCO both backwards, forwards and laterally -- Mr. Speaker, these few examples show that the nature of the emerging philosophy of this Presidency is neither left nor right,
socialist nor extreme capitalism.
But Mr. Speaker there is no obvious expression to capture the emerging economic and political paradigm. So what I ask myself is that is there a new philosophy that is emerging which probably some people can call “Kuffourism” or what is it? Mr. Speaker, both Ghanaians alive and future generations will one day look back into history and will say this was a man who had courage, wisdom and foresight to synthesize the best of two otherwise different philosophies. Mr. Speaker, these two most illustrious leaders who held these two philosophies - Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah of blessed memory and Professor Kofi Abrefa Busia of cherished memory and, of course, in whose mighty shadow I stand with utmost humility - both of them after having heard from the President on the 31st January 2006 would likely toast to each other in their separate graves and in a chorus they will all be saying in unison, “This is our beloved successor in whom we are all well pleased -- [Hear, Hear.] Mr. Speaker, the present generation of Ghanaians applaud you and I am sure they will be saying they have been to the market twice and they have now seen the real market. Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for allowing me to contribute.
Minister for Energy (Prof. A. M. Oquaye) 11:25 a.m.
Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker for this opportunity to contribute to the motion that this House thanks His Excellency the President for the Message on the State of the Nation which was delivered to this honourable House on Tuesday 31st January, 2006.
Mr. Speaker, His Excellency the President recommended to autonomous organs of state to among other things adopt a principle of self assessment which he himself had imposed upon himself

Mr. Speaker, His Excellency, having addressed himself to this self assessment advises with humility that the Legislature and Judiciary should do the same so as to join what His Excellency described as “The crusade to initiate action towards improvement in performance in the three main organs of State.”

It is a very, very important fact that

investors in our country look up to the Judiciary in whatever decision they take. They want to ensure that their investment would be safe; they want to know that if there is any dispute whatsoever the rule of law would prevail and that, not only would justice be done, but it would be expeditiously done and it would be seen to be done.

Mr. Speakers, the law's delay is costing us tremendously in this country. I know the high quality of our Judiciary in this country. But we would also want our Judiciary to address its mind as an instrument of development. It is very, very easy for us, sometimes, to be caught in our water-tight compartments and not address ourselves as partners in development, if we are adjudicating.

When a report is made of thievery by a managing director of a foreign company and it takes him three, four years to get justice, and it is a matter of “go, come, go come,” he will not only be discouraged in prosecuting the crime but also he will naturally discuss this with his fellow countrymen and other investors and it would not augur well for us in this country.

Mr. Speaker, it is also painful sometimes to have certain offences rather trivialised, offences particularly against young girls. Rape is a very, very serious offence; it
Minister for Energy (Prof. A. M. Oquaye) 11:25 a.m.
should be one of the worst offences. It offends the sacrosanct nature of a woman as well as the right to choose.
In recent times some of the sentences that have been handed out are painful to observe and to read about. It is important for us to remind ourselves of the need to use the law, not only as an instrument of development but also one to protect the virtues in our society as well.
Mr. Speaker, there have been times when the police would go to court only for there to be such ups and downs because sometimes something had been done that was wrong or appeared, at least, to be wrong to the ordinary person, but for some reason or the other a proper charge was not forthcoming. The English have an offence, the offence of “public mischief.”
When everything is finished and something is wrong -- and I appreciated that law very much - in the sight of the Englishman and yet no law appears to have caught whatever happened on all its fours, what happens is that you are charged under public mischief. We need to bring such a law or adopt that common law position in our country so that whatever offends the good sense of the typical Ghanaian, the man on the Madina tro-tro would become an offence in the circumstances, because it is seen to be an act of public mischief.
Mr. Speaker, so it is, therefore, that we should all take seriously the invitation of our President in this connection to improve upon the application of the law as an instrument of national development and also social justice and the maintenance of our true values in our society.
Mr. Speaker, His Excellency enjoined us also, as a House, to engage ourselves in this exercise of self-examination. It is
quite obvious to a cursory observer that one part of the House is absent. When we look at the circumstances of this matter and the background to it, the fact that there is a Bill that is being debated, the fact that Parliament should be seen as the highest House of debate in this land but men and women who have been so elected would rather wish to carry out that function outside the parameters of Parliament, then there must be something really wrong. And, Mr. Speaker, it is particularly so when we consider the fact that the reference of a process that had been served or supposed to have been served on The Speaker of this House was debated upon in this Chamber and duly referred to the Privileges Committee. This is wrongfully interpreted to mean that an hon. Member of this House had been sought or put on trial somewhere, which was manifestly false.
I believe that these standards are those that His Excellency would like us to seriously examine and re-examine so as to perform our duties a required by law and by our people and as enjoined upon us.
Mr. Speaker, coming to the energy sector, His Excellency did really apprise us of the directives he had given, the vision that he had and which he had enjoined on his Ministry there to enforce so that there is progress in this country. It is important for us to recap a few of these events.
As a result of his vision we have made several strides in bringing the West African Gas Pipeline downstream. This project is nothing new, but it was our President who gave it the push, the direction that it needed for us to see the fruition thereof; and His Excellency must be congratulated for this.
Mr. Speaker, as the head of the
Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), he used every auspices in order to get his brothers to come together to let what had been seen come into fruition. He was also able to put together the relevant moneys from private banks and international consortia, et cetera, so that the relevant finances would also be found. This, of course, deserves commendation.

Mr. Speaker, as part of the vision of this President he ordered that as a state our national strategic reserve stock must be seriously looked at. If a country does not have a strategic reserve of petroleum, that which moves the wheels throughout the nation, that nation has very little to write home about. When this President was sworn into office in 2001 apart from the petrol that was seen in tanks and in cars around the country, our real strategic reserve stock was zero. Mr. Speaker, the President ordered that this should be built to a minimum of six weeks. At the middle of last year this had reached two weeks.

By the time His Excellency opened the Kumasi storage facility, at the end of the year, we had reached three weeks. The Buipe-Bolgatanga storage and that of the Accra Plains, when commissioned in the middle of the year -- and they are ready now for commissioning by His Excellency --June 2006, we would have reached the six weeks that His Excellency anticipated. [Hear! Hear!]Mr. Speaker, the President has got vision. He gives the relevant directives and his people carry out the directives; and that is the business that we must congratulate him for.

It is notable when we come to look at the Volta Aluminium Company (VALCO) that the President spoke at length about. The vision that brought about VALCO is now being re-lived, revived, restored, and made operational under His Excellency the President. It is important for us to note that the Government, with its partners, will inject $3.7 billion over four years into the operations of VALCO to improve upon the capacity of the smelter and refinery.

11. 35 a.m.

Mr. Speaker, this investment is expected to change Ghana's economic fortune by increasing Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by about 2.3 per cent per annum, creating employment for six thousand people and also generating about $1.1 billion revenue every year to the country's foreign currency reserves.

Mr. Speaker, His Excellency, in his

wisdom, has caused VALCO's operations to commence and in this connection two out of five lines are now operational. Mr. Speaker, with the arrival of the West African gas at the end of the year we shall then be moving into full operation next year and the dividends would really begin to show.

Mr. Speaker, not only has His

Excellency directed the working of this beautiful arrangement but also he has directed that the secondary market for industrial and commercial application of the gas should also be addressed. We have got the USAID to assist in this connection under the very auspices of His Excellency himself. Mr. Speaker, this has also been put in line with our foreign development partners and we are moving with such simultaneity that with the arrival of the gas the secondary application for commercial, industrial use would move as well. Mr. Speaker, these are developments
Minister for Energy (Prof. A. M. Oquaye) 11:45 a.m.
of vision and His Excellency deserves commendation.
Mr. Speaker, to wind up, His Excellency
has directed that we should be able to work by a system of “you generate and you distribute.” So Mr. Speaker, our distribution which -- It is going to be the year of rural electrification under the direction of the President in the light of the facilities that we have got at the moment. Mr. Speaker, not once in the history of this country did we have fifteen million dollars of materials waiting for use at the same time whilst we are also expecting thirty million dollars worth of materials also from India to arrive by the middle of this year.
Mr. Speaker, by the cumulative
elevation of these events, His Excellency has directed a policy of “you generate and you distribute,” and by the generation we are looking also at solar, for example. And Mr. Speaker, His Excellency has secured for this Republic five million euros worth from Spain in this connection.
Mr. Speaker, with regard to wind
energy in the lower eastern basin of this country, particularly the Volta region, His Excellency has secured an UNIDO grant in that direction, and we are also working on mini dams with the cooperation of India and China. Mr. Speaker, this shows clearly a leader with vision, a leader with a purpose; and we must congratulate His Excellency for the direction that he has given his Government and for which we must all support him.
Mr. Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to contribute.
Mr. Kofi Frimpong (NPP - Kwabre
East): Thank you, Mr. Speaker for the opportunity to add my voice to the
numerous ones in thanking the President for the State of the Nation Address and the motion which was ably moved by hon. Nana Akomea.
Mr. Speaker, why the thank you? After
all, the President came to perform his constitutional obligation. But we must thank him because the Address that he gave contains a lot of hope and a clear vision forward as a nation. I was therefore amazed when some people said that the Address contained nothing new but an old story that has been recycled. Mr. Speaker, assuming that, it is true, I wish to state and submit that in the Holy Bible and the Holy Koran which were written about one thousand years ago, nothing new has been added; but the followers and believers of these holy books read them to invigorate themselves spiritually, everyday.
Mr. Speaker, I wish to urge the President not to be distracted. I wish to urge the President to go ahead and ignore those baseless statements and criticisms, and be focused and let the NPP Government with its progressive allies move the country forward towards the golden goal that we set ourselves.
Mr. Speaker, the NPP Government led
by President Kufuor has shown us the difference. Somebody may ask, what is the difference? The difference is between good governance, that is democracy, and bad governance, which is despotism. Mr. Speaker, what amuses me most in the Address is found on page 16. Mr. Speaker, I wish to urge my hon. Colleagues to turn to page 16 of the Address, and with your permission I read -- there is a sentence written in bold letters.
We all know that in a class of about
forty, if somebody comes tenth he is so
happy, he is so proud and he goes ahead to achieve better laurels next time. Here, Ghana, among about one hundred and eighty nations in the world, has been ranked as the tenth happiest country in the world, meaning that a lot has gone into the development of this country under President Kufuor.
Mr. Speaker, I wish to state here that if the ranking has been done about ten years back, Ghana would have been ranked among the last but tenth happiest people in the world. Why do I say so? Ghana would have been ranked the last but tenth happiest, or among the unhappiest nations in the world.
Mr. Speaker, I wish to state that the
President should go ahead to develop the country so that we can become the first happiest country in the world. I wish to refresh our minds on a few of the numerous atrocities that were meted out to us as Ghanaians by fellow Ghanaians who had usurped the power to rule the country and which would have made us one of the least happiest countries in the world -- if grammar would allow me.
Mr. Speaker, I want to state just a few of them and in doing, I would refer to what went on in 1986 during a treason trial that went on in Ghana. Mr. Speaker, with your indulgence I would want to quote from the Executive Summary of the National Reconciliation Commission Report that was publish in October 2004. Mr. Speaker, I am reading from page 190, the last paragraph. The treason trial of 1986 -- I will read extensively from this book so I want you to bear with me - [Interruption.] Yes, 1986 --
“In the early hours of October
1985, a team of police officers led by Chief Supt. Victor Agbenator went to the home of Evelyn Gyan at Tema. They conducted a search and found under a bed a sack which they said
contained guns and ammunition. They arrested Evelyn, her nephew Atta Boakye, her brother, Kyeremeh Gyan and his friend Mawuli Drah Goka. On 5th March 1986 Mawuli Drah Goka, Kyeremeh Gyan and thirteen others were arraigned and charged with conspiring to overthrow the Government of Ghana. They pleaded not guilty to the charges.”

I will continue.

“At the trial, the prosecution sought to tender in evidence confession statements alleged to have been made by the accused persons. When the defence objected to the statements going on, George Agyekum, Chairman of the Public Tribunal decided to admit them. At the end of the trial, he convicted all but one of the accused persons; he sentenced Mawuli Drah Gokah, Kyereme Djan, Yaw Brefo-Berko, Samuel Boama Panyin, Ahmed Briamah Kankani, W. O. II Samuel Charles Aforo and Private Charles Koomson to death.

The sentences were carried out on 21st June, 1986 and the bodies were buried in two unmarked graves. The confession statements were taken by Detective Inspector James Kofi Atopley. When he produced the confession statements, objection was raised to their admission on the ground that they were not voluntary but were extracted under a series of tortures administered to them over a long period between their arrest and making of the statements.”
Mr. Speaker 11:45 a.m.
Hon. Member for Okyere (Mr. Adu)?
Mr. Adu 11:45 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, it seems my hon. Colleague is reading the whole book to us - [Interruptions.] A quotation normally is short and precise. But he is reading a whole book to the House. So Mr. Speaker, he should spare us; we have copies of the book.
Mr. Speaker 11:45 a.m.
Hon. Member for Kwabre East, I hope you are looking at your time as well.
Mr. Frimpong 11:45 a.m.
Yes, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I have spent only three minutes. So Mr. Speaker,
“. . . Later I was told to open my mouth and something that tasted like meat - raw meat - was put into my mouth. Prior to this, Kyeremeh was shouting that his back was being cut. After that I was given something to drink and it tasted and smelt like urine. I was kicked in the abdomen, my private part was burnt in the process, I lost control of myself and urinated. Kyeremeh and I were told to lick the urine, which we did. My private part was taken and the tip of it slashed to prolong it. Then a series of questions were asked me - “Are you not planning with Major Boakye-Djan to overthrow
the Government of Ghana?”
When I gave them the answer, which was no, I was subjected to further beatings. I was told until I agree to these things they will not stop beating me.” [Pause] Let me read on. [Some hon. Members: Read on!]
“I was sent into a waiting van and I reckon it was dawn because I heard the cocks crowing.”
Mr. Speaker, this was the situation in which some Ghanaians found themselves; this was how Ghanaians were treated by a government in power at that time as compared with a government that is very tolerant, a government that allows the due process to take its course when there is an allegation against any citizen of Ghana.
Mr. Speaker, people say at times that these atrocities were committed under a military junta, a military rule, and that they could not control them. What happened in 1995 when the citizenry took to the streets and demonstrated? Four people were murdered in cold blood, Mr. Speaker, and nothing was done to the perpetrators even though a commission of enquiry was set. I wish to urge Government to look for the perpetrators of this act and bring them to book. Right now, under President Kufuor's Administration, because of the good governance that the President is practicing, people can take to the streets, demonstrate as many times a they wish. We give them police escort, we give them protection, guide and guard them; they go into the streets and comeback home without any of them being hurt.
Mr. Speaker, we see therefore that there is a difference between that government and this government - [Hear! Hear!] And these are the people who are saying that they will not listen to what is going on in the House, they will rather choose to go
on to the streets and demonstrate. What are they demon-strating against, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker 11:45 a.m.
Are you winding up now?
Mr. Frimpong 11:55 a.m.
Yes, Mr. Speaker. Now, Ghana has come this far; Ghana is the tenth happiest country in the world simply because there is good governance in the country. There is adherence to the rule of law and that is why there are some Members even of this House who are standing trial; they go to court and come back to the Chamber to debate.
Mr. Speaker, we see that because the economy has stabilized due to prudent management of the economy, now the private sector is developing, the banks are opening a lot of branches all over the place and they are prepared to give out loans to the private sector for the expansion of the private sector.
Mr. Speaker, as a result of the reduction of the prime rate from 35 per cent to 15 per cent, the banks released about three trillion cedis to the public last year.
I wish to urge the business community to take advantage of what is going on in the country and expand their businesses, take loans from the banks and employ a lot of people.

I wish to commend Government for the FCUBE. Last year the President came to this House and promised to look at the FCUBE. The FCUBE has taken off, children are going to school free of charge and right now, Mr. Speaker, it has affected the population in the various districts. Now, we have so many pupils enrolling in the schools and Government has promised to give a free ride to these school children to and from school. Mr. Speaker, I think
Mr. William Ofori Boafo (NPP - Akropong) 12:05 p.m.
Mr. Speaker, thank you very much for calling upon me to contribute on the State of the Nation Address by His Excellency the President, John Agyekum Kufuor.
Mr. Speaker, I have chosen to comment on two areas, that is Education and Good Governance. Mr. Speaker, from the Address delivered by His Excellency, it is clear he has accepted and will continue to accept that the Government's Education policy should be the bedrock for the implementation of the human resource development programme of the Government. Mr. Speaker, there are certain areas which this particular educational policy is being focused upon. The expansion and improvement in the quality of education at all levels - Mr. Speaker, we could see from the Address that the President was very eager to ensure that education is expanded. But Mr. Speaker, I would like to urge that we do not only dwell or focus on expansion of education but we should equally consider the intensification of the educational programme.
Mr. Speaker, by intensification, I
mean that we should encourage the establishment of community libraries as well as the opening up of or encouraging the private sector to set up bookshops in our various communities. Mr. Speaker, this becomes necessary in view of the fact that -- Looking at the practice now where

textbooks are distributed to pupils and students, the students or the pupils have very limited opportunity to read around their subjects. So if the establishment of bookshops in these areas is encouraged, I believe that the students or the parents would have the opportunity to buy extra books or auxiliary books for the pupils to read, to enrich their knowledge and also promote their further education. This equally goes for the establishment of community libraries and all these could be assisted by the private sector in supplementing Government efforts.

Mr. Speaker, the Capitation Grant, as

promised by the Government, has also abolished school fees in public schools and minimized further the burden of education on poor parents. We also have to commend the President for the introduction of the school feeding programme which could greatly contribute to the physical and mental growth of Ghanaian children and would be another incentive to enroll the children.

Mr. Speaker, some other interventions

need to be mentioned so far as education is concerned. School uniforms are being supplied in some of the poor communities by Government and other non -governmental organizations (NGOs). We have also been told about the free ride which will be provided for pupils and students in uniform. There is also food ration which is being provided by the Government in some selected communities to girls and this is supplemented by the Catholic Relief Services, the World Food Program and World Vision. Scholarships are also being given to girls in some communities; and there is also the district level scholarships for needy children in some schools.

Mr. Speaker, we have to mention the

USAID sponsored quality improvement in primary schools, the GTZ sponsored development of books in five local

languages from Primary One to Primary Six and then the JICA sponsored improvement programme in teaching of science and mathematics. Mr. Speaker, when we come to His Excellency the President's concern for education, we also realize that he is not only taking the students' or the pupils' welfare into account but also the teachers?

We learn of in-service training for teachers as well as provision of teaching and learning materials. We also know that there is provision to assist the teachers with means of transport by hire-purchase, the house ownership scheme and distance learning education programme for the teachers. Mr. Speaker, all these things are geared towards improving the quality of education. His Excellency the President is not only concerned with expansion but also with the intensive nature of education.

When we move to the Tertiary Education, Mr. Speaker, we also notice that it is the concern of the President to provide more hostels, to provide staff bungalows, to provide more lecture halls and also to ensure the implementation of the Students Loan Trust within a short time.

Mr. Speaker, these are some of the things that we need to congratulate the President for embarking upon so far as the Government's Education Policy is concerned. We also note that there has been an increase in the general enrolment rate and the gender parity is also getting closed up. We note that even in certain areas or regions the enrolment of females is exceeding that of the males; especially in the Upper West Region. By the 2004 - 2005 statistics, the male percentage in the Upper West Region is 75.6 and the female percentage is 79.2. Mr. Speaker, this is very encouraging so far as the work which is being done by His Excellency

the President in ensuring the promotion of good and quality education is concerned.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to touch

on good governance. Mr. Speaker, we see from the President's Address and the period before then that his Government has been able to strengthen state institutions and we could also observe that there has been no interference with their operations. Mr. Speaker, we have in mind institutions like CHRAJ, the Police, the SFO and the Judiciary. Mr. Speaker, during the course of last year, we had a special court set up by the Judiciary to expedite trials of commercial cases and it is being brought under the fast-track division of the high court. We also observe that the allocations for institutions like CHRAJ have been upgraded. And to encourage CHRAJ in their work, the President himself has even agreed to appear before the CHRAJ in allegations against him.

Mr. Speaker, so far as the House is concerned, there is no interference at all with the work of Parliament by the Executive. This is very encouraging and we will urge the Executive to continue to observe this separation of powers.

Mr. Speaker, it is rather sad to note that people normally make allegations without having any bases to support those allegations. And His Excellency the President did not mince words in pointing this out when he addressed the House. He referred to a case in which he was reported to a complaint lodged with CHRAJ and the fact that the complaint was not pursued.

Mr. Speaker, that should be a lesson to all of us and we should as much as possible refrain from making certain allegations against persons in higher
Mr. Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 12:05 p.m.
Mr. Speaker, with respect the Committee on Finance is meeting and The Member for Efutu (Mr. Samuel Owusu-Agyei) is here and he would want to attend to the business of the Committee on Finance. May I, in the circumstance, yield to them before you call me that is Members of the Committee on Finance.
Mr. Speaker 12:05 p.m.
If they are prepared to wait for ten minutes; you will have to take ten minutes.
Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 12:05 p.m.
Very well, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, there are a couple of them and then we are told at they do not have a quorum there, that is why I am pleading with you.
Mr. Speaker 12:05 p.m.
All right. Hon. Member for Efutu and Deputy Minister for Health, you have ten minutes, maximum.
Mr. Speaker 12:05 p.m.
Who is the next person? Hon. Member for Okyere (Mr. B. K. D. Adu), I will give you time to contribute.
Mr. Owusu-Agyei 12:15 p.m.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for your indulgence and giving me this opportunity to contribute to the debate on His Excellency the President's
State of the Nation Address. I would like to concentrate my contribution on the health sector since so much has been said already about the other sectors.
Mr. Speaker, a review of the health status of Ghanaians for the past year indicates significant improvement in various areas. We are aware that the health of Ghanaians has improved significantly over the past year and the past four years than previously. For instance, the Expanded Programme Immunization (EPI) coverage continues to improve; the under five malaria case fatality rate has also reduced. Tuberclosis (TB) cure rates has also been improved and there are other areas which have improved significantly.
Mr. Speaker, you were here when our hon. Colleagues on the other side were talking about deterioration in guinea- worm cases. This is not true. For the one year, from mid-2004 to mid-year 2005, there was a 53 per cent decrease in guinea-worm cases in the guinea-worm infested areas. Let me give the House the exact figures.
Guinea-worm cases reduced from 5,665 cases to 2,669 cases, that is, up to mid-year last year; and there is still a decline. So we are achieving significant improvement in all areas of the disease burden.

Mr. Speaker, in terms of health services improvements have also been realised in several areas. For instance, ante-natal coverage has improved; post-natal care coverage has also improved. Supervised delivery and the number of hospitalised outpatient services have improved all over the country. Mr. Speaker, when we talk of quality of care there has been significant improvement in our health institutions. Then also when it comes to the level of the distribution of health resources we
Mr. Owusu-Agyei 12:25 p.m.
are all aware that the Community Health Planning and Services (CHPS) system, making health care available to all parts of this country - We have established several CHPS services all over the country, so that previously inaccessible areas where we did not have health services are now enjoying health services.
Then when it comes to the level of funding for provision of healthcare, according to the Abuja Declaration, every country must make an effort to augment its funding of other aspects of expenditure up to at least 15 per cent. Over the past three years Ghana has improved the non-wage expenditure of health services significantly and we are well above the 12-13 per cent, just on the way to achieving the 15 per cent coverage.
Mr. Speaker, there are other aspects that we have to highlight and take notice of. For health service delivery, there is the need for improved collaboration and partnership. As we are all aware, there are several determinants of health. The norm has been to identify the disease burden and develop plans to combat the disease burden. So we know that provision of health services alone is inadequate to cater for the healthcare needs of a country. That is the reason why the new paradigm is talking about promotive and preventive health with the last resort being curative.
So there is the need for improvement in environmental sanitation and access to potable water. We have to promote healthy life and health styles, including exercises and healthy eating and make our roads safe. That is the reason why the Ministry of Health has deepened its collaboration with other sectors of the economy to make sure that health delivery is improved upon for the benefit of everybody in the country.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to brief the
House also on the status of implementation

of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) which is very dear to the hearts of all of us here. As at the end of the year 2005 we had 119 of the schemes operational and managing claims, which means that all over the country, out of the 123 schemes we have in operation, 119 are managing claims.

If I should give you a few more details of those areas that we are expecting implementation of management of claims, in the Greater Accra Region we have the Dangbe East and Ga Districts as the two that would also soon - we expect them to manage claims in February. For the Volta Region we have only one scheme that is still not managing claims, that is, Nkwanta; and we expect that this month Nkwanta will also commence managing claims.

Then for the Northern Region we have Zabzugu-Tatale; we were really expecting that Zabzugu-Tatale would commence managing claims last month but we are yet to receive returns from them, and I know that they might have even started. Then in the Upper West Region, Jirapa and Nadowli were to start managing claims in early January; we are yet to receive from them. So Mr. Speaker, we want to assure the House and the whole nation that this Government is taking the healthcare, the health services of this country really very important and for that matter healthy lifestyles, healthy living before we come also to the curative, in which case we have the NHIS on board.

Mr. Speaker, there are a few new schemes which are also coming out, particularly in the newly created districts; they also have their own schemes and we are on course. We have eight schemes which are in advanced stages of implementation and some are just at the stage of going to manage claims. When the new districts were created we

had to hive off the staff or add on to the existing staff that we had in those areas. For instance, if we have a situation where a new district has been created, this is beyond the 123 which originally started; so what we had to do and we did initially was to assign some of the staff to those new districts and then later augment the staff, provide them with the logistics and financial support.

Mr. Speaker, with regard to registration,

so far 3.6 million people have registered under the scheme. This number represents 17.86 per cent of the entire population of Ghana. This figure also is in excess of our target, that is, the target for registration for last year was 10 per cent of the population. We have exceeded this figure, so now we have achieved an excess of 78.6 per cent out of our target for last year.

Mr. Speaker, with regard to funding of the schemes we are all aware there were initial problems regarding putting together of the funding and then making the schemes adequately resourced. Now, all the schemes which are managing claims have been resourced adequately. I am happy to announce, Mr. Speaker, that an amount of ¢153.1 billion was disbursed to all the schemes to support claim management. This figure is different from the salary arrears which have all been paid. Now, Government does not owe any staff of the schemes any salary arrears; all the salary arrears have been paid, morale has increased and the staff of the scheme are working.

With regard to procurement for the schemes, we have put in place the relevant measures - steps to procure items for the Scheme, particularly computers. They already have some computers but some need more computers. We have gone through the process of acquiring more computers, through the procurement

process. We are also buying pick-ups for all the Schemes. We are expecting that by the middle of this year all the pick-ups for all the schemes would have arrived.

Currently, some of the schemes are relying on vehicles provided by some District Chief Executives (DCE) and some district councils and some other philanthropists. So not all of them have vehicles for their operation and we are assuring them that by middle of this year all the vehicles that we are importing would arrive and they would adequately be given the necessary opportunity to be mobile and then reach the hard-to-reach areas in some of the districts.

Mr. Speaker, with regard to staffing of the schemes we had initial problems, as hon. Members are aware, with the centre, that is, the secretariat. Now, we have really employed most of the contract staff that we need at the centres, some technical personnel have been employed and management information system (MIS) personnel has been recruited so we hope that much work would be done and the quality of work and whatever would happen at the scheme level would see a deepening with regard to perfection.

Mr. Speaker, as for the outlook for 2006, the Scheme expects to register about 50 per cent of the Ghanaian population this year; this is an arduous task. It is a very difficult task that we anticipate to register about 50 per cent of Ghanaians. We are also running training programmes for all categories of staff for the Scheme. We are also constructing a permanent secretariat for the Scheme. Appointment of technical directors are also on course and we are also timely releasing claims management and administrative support funds to all the schemes.

Mr. Speaker, there is an issue that I would want to bring here. When
Mr. Speaker 12:25 p.m.
Yes, Deputy Minister for Lands and Forestry and Mines?
Ms. Tagoe 12:25 p.m.
Mr. Speaker, I want to know whether he is giving account of his Ministry or he is contributing towards the President's State of the Nation Address. Because, he is giving us details of his Ministry; we know that. He should read the State of the Nation Address and contribute towards that.
Mr. Speaker 12:25 p.m.
Deputy Minister for Health, are you about to wind up?
Mr. Owusu-Agyei 12:25 p.m.
Mr. Speaker, I would wind up very soon. But I want to assure my hon. Colleague that His Excellency the President did not have time enough to dwell on the various sectors. [Hear! Hear!] So it is necessary for me to give a little it of details and that is the reason why I am giving those details.
Mr. Speaker, the State of the Nation Address of His Excellency the President touched mainly on the National Health Insurance Scheme and I wanted to deal a little bit also with the other aspects that did not appear in the State of the Nation Address.
Mr. Eugene Atta Agyepong (NPP - Abetifi) 12:35 p.m.
Mr. Speaker, I would also like to contribute to the motion on the floor.
Shakespeare in his Twelfth Night said, “Brevity is the soul of wit” so I would be brief. I would want to touch on page
2 of the President's Address which talks about social-economic development in the country. The President dwelt on the developments that are being envisaged in the country but I would like to look at it clearly from the economic point of view.
First, Mr. Speaker, the macro-economic parameters have all been put in place and they are working, including the banking intermediations. Mr. Speaker, what we are seeing now and what people continue to ask is, these have been put in place but we are not seeing the benefits. Where are the benefits in our pockets? Mr. Speaker, in every growing economy, every buoyant economy, the supply must exceed the demand; if the reverse takes place then the economy is not working. And in no country would the people or the citizens have enough money to go about buying their needs and their wants. This is why there is what we call the credit system in the whole country.
When the NPP Government, led by President Kufuor came to power, the prime rate - that time we called it the bank rate - was 27 per cent, almost 30 per cent; now it is 14.5 per cent. The banks are supposed or expected to respond to this but the bank rate now hangs around 19 per cent, 21 per cent and the rest. If the banking institutions do not help the country all the efforts of the Government would come to naught.
Mr. Speaker, in 2004 some banks came in here to grant loans to hon. Members of Parliament. At that time the prime rate or the Bank of Ghana rate was 18.5 per cent but they gave these loans to hon. Members of Parliament at the rate of 28 per cent, a difference of 10 per cent. When some of us questioned them, they were talking about risk. What was the risk involved here? It was a question of giving our names to the bank and the bank in turn sending our
names to the accounts office; at the end of the month they deduct the money and send it to them. Why should there be that difference?
This is what we are talking about when we were discussing the Bank of Ghana Act, (Act 612) and the Banking Act, (Act 673). These were some of the things that worried us. I was the Chairman of the Finance Committee then.

If it is really necessary that we should amend the Bank of Ghana Act to give them more authority to control some of these things, we should do so. But if we leave it to them, believing that they will do the right thing, Mr. Speaker, I am afraid, it will never happen because it is like a cartel. I have worked in banking institutions; I have worked with Bank of Ghana, I have worked in the Social Security Bank for over twenty years. It is a cartel and if we allow it, then no progress would come to the nation and we cannot have business. By this time, they ought to have even given us credit cards with which we can
Mr. Speaker 12:35 p.m.
Hon. Majority Chief Whip, are you now in a position to contribute?
Mr. Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu (NPP - Suame) 12:45 p.m.
Mr. Speaker, thank you, very much for the opportunity granted me. I just want to associate myself with the motion to thank the President for the State of the Nation Address. Mr. Speaker, I would want to confine myself to what has become a bit contentious, the issue of Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill.
Mr. Speaker, consensus-building is most important, but clearly, where consensus cannot be achieved or cannot be reached, then the majority opinion should hold. Mr. Speaker, that is what democracy is about; it is the rule of the majority. Definitely, it is not the dictatorship of the majority, which is why in this Parliament
we try to build consensus and reach out to our hon. Colleagues on the other side on many issues that come to the House.
Indeed, when we were in the minority, they also did the same thing; they did reach out to us and on many issues, we agreed. Mr. Speaker, where we could not agree, then we agreed to disagree; that is the beauty of democracy. But for anybody to suggest that if the minority opinion is not allowed to hold there will be mayhem, there will be confusion, the country will burn to ashes, Mr. Speaker, I believe that point of view or that agitation is untenable.

Mr. Speaker, some hon. Members of the PNC, even on our side, have also expressed disagreement with some portions of the Bill. Again, that is the beauty of democracy. Their First Vice Chairman, hon. John Ndebugre is a member of the Committee, who is fully in agreement with this Bill, of course, subject to a few amendments, which he says he would want to see. Some of his hon. Colleagues do not agree with him

and, indeed, some members of the party leadership do not agree with him. That, again, is the beauty of democracy.

The party hierarchy obviously disagrees with him; they think the majority in their leadership should hold. Mr. Speaker, so if in one party there is disagreement and they think that the majority opinion should hold, why should the same party then turn around and say that the Majority in Parliament should listen to them and that if we fail to listen to them then there will be mayhem? Mr. Speaker, and by the way, the Youth Organizer of the PNC is on record to have said that this country will burn to ashes if this Bill is not withdrawn; and he went further to say that the Government should subject this Bill to a referendum to test whether most Ghanaians accept this Bill or not. What we want to know is whether in the PNC they have called a congress to debate this. What the leadership there for?

Leadership is there to indeed take decisions on pertinent matters as and when they do arise. That is what their leadership, some of whom violently disagree with the First National Vice Chairman, have expressed. They have said that the position of the PNC is that they are opposed to the Bill, beautiful. Mr. Speaker, but why is it that in their party they say the majority opinion should hold but in Parliament the opinion of the Majority should not matter? That is rather some difficulty for some of us.

For the NDC, Mr. Speaker, it is important to set the records straight. When this Bill came to Parliament and your goodself referred the matter to the relevant Committee on Legal, Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs, they did listen to a few people and individuals and afterwards they decided to tour the country. Initially,
Mr. Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu (NPP - Suame) 12:55 p.m.
Mr. Speaker, at the time when we had this agreement with the High Commissioner, His Excellency Issac Osei, the hon. Minority Leader was there, the hon. Minority Chief Whip was there. And Mr. Speaker, let me say that I was not really minded to bring this to the Chamber because the convention has been that if you have discussions with people outside you do not inject the conversation into the discourse of Parliament. But I am constrained to bring this out because the hon. Minority Leader himself, in championship the cause of the Minority, introduced into this House a private conversation that he had had with the same High Commissioner regarding he trying to know the number of Ghanaians in the United Kingdom, and the High Commissioner telling the hon. Minority Leader that he does not know the number of Ghanaians residing there. The High Commissioner is not a member of this House and so he was not supposed to be cited in this case. The hon. Minority Leader is a Member of this House.
Mr. Speaker, and I am bringing this into this House to let people know the people that we are dealing with. The hon. Minority Leader, when we had the meeting with the High Commissioner, agreed with all of us that the Committee should go to London and collect and collate opinions of Ghanaians resident there; and they were to meet London. The High Commissioner undertook to do this and secure a place for the Committee to meet In fact, the High Commission was to take care of the cost of advertising this function.
The Leadership told the High
Commission that in July, the Leadership was to proceed to attend a conference organized by the National Council of State Legislators in the United States of America in Seattle, Washington D.C. for which reason we said that the Leadership would want to be part of the delegation so they should schedule to coincide with the period just before our proceeding to the United States of America. The High Commissioner agreed to this. And as I said, the hon. Minority Leader was there, the hon. Minority Chief Whip was there, the hon. Majority Leader was there, I myself was there, and the hon. First Deputy Minority Whip was also in attendance.
Mr. Speaker, once we had had this agreement, four days after, the Minority which we had left behind in Parliament organized a press conference and sought to disengage from further participation at the committee level regarding this Bill. Mr. Speaker, an hour after the press conference had been held somebody called me from Ghana and gave me this information and I passed this information on to the hon. Minority Leader. The very words of the hon. Minority Leader, when I broke the news to him, was to enquire whether it was a gimmickry or I was telling him the truth. When I insisted that I was telling him the truth the very words he uttered was that “Osei, I am shocked and surprised at what you are telling me.” He went on further, “But my people, do they not know that we will be shooting ourselves if we object to this Bill?” Mr. Speaker, that was the hon.

We, because of the nature of the study tour, had decided to stay on for two or three days after the tour because it was

a rather compressed programme. But because of what I told him, the hon. Minority Leader then told me that, no, because of what had happened we would leave immediately after the study tour and come back to Ghana. He came back to Ghana and when we met him we saw him pussyfooting on this. Mr. Speaker, we thought that certainly was not the best.

Yes indeed, humans as we are, we can change our minds as and when we deem fit. But for the Committee members, that is the Minority members on the committee to have co-operated fully with the colleague members of the committee and then at the last minute come out to disengage from the committee, for the Minority Leader to have also been part of the scheme for the Committee to go outside and then come back and disown that same position, some of us find it a bit incredulous.

Mr. Speaker, the hon. Minority Leader in his presentation in the House the other day regarding this Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill (ROPAB) used certain words. He said, “if this Bill is not withdrawn there will be conflict.” The operative word is, “will,” “…there will be conflict.” The hon. Minority Leader, I do not agree, may not be a master par-excellence in the use of the English Language but I do know that he does comprehend English very well.

And so he knew what he was about when he said that there will be conflict if this Bill is not withdrawn. Mr. Speaker, the import of it is that if the rest of us Ghanaians think that the Bill is significant and that it should be passed, the Minority will contrive violence and conflict even where the rest of us, the majority of the populace reject same; and that is the dangerous thing.

Mr. Speaker, at the Second Reading, as I have said, he submitted a Paper; that Paper
Mr. B. D. K. Adu (NPP - Okere) 1:05 p.m.
Mr. Speaker, thank you so much for the opportunity to add my voice to the numerous voices thanking the President for the State of the Nation Address.
Mr. Speaker, an Address by a leader to a nation has been with humanity since Biblical times. Moses spoke or addressed the nation of Israel many times and thereafter many leaders did address their nations.
Our leader, His Excellency John Agyekum Kufuor also keeps on addressing our beautiful, wonderful nation, Ghana.

Mr. Speaker, the President's Address

touched on many aspects of the well- being of this nation. On the economy, the President emphasised on growth of the economy. He mentioned agriculture, agro-processing, promotion of services, industries and also the finance sector.

On infrastructure, it is known to

everybody because infrastructure is physical and everybody sees what goes on. Schools are being built, roads are being built everywhere. And may I please crave your indulgence to take this opportunity to stand on the floor to thank the President and the Government for the road which is being built from Tetteh Quarshie to Akropong. I, on my own
Mr. Haruna Bayirga (PNC - Sissala West) 1:15 p.m.
Mr. Speaker, thank you very much for giving me this opportunity to thank the President for the State of the Nation Address.
Mr. Speaker, my heart was gladdened
that once again the President gave his State of the Nation Address in a very loving way. The listening President, the loving President, the President who has mother Ghana at heart, gave his State of the Nation Address to tell Ghanaians that they have a hopeful future. Mr. Speaker, the humility and discipline of the President, his respect for fellow Ghanaians and the successes that have been chalked since he took over the affairs of this country has put Ghana among the ten most peaceful countries in the world.
Mr. Speaker, as a People's National
Convention (PNC) Member of Parliament in this House, the Member of Parliament for Sissala West, I am very sensitive when indiscipline indiscipline, certain retrogressive activities begin to rear their ugly heads in this country. Reference -- the late Amartey Quaye leading demonstrators to Parliament House,
chasing the Parliamentarians away and drinking their tea. - [Laughter.] -- Mr. Speaker, all of us know what happened later - the 31st December revolution. The rest is history. Mr. Speaker, these same diabolical, satanic activities - [Hear! Hear!] -- are beginning to rear their ugly heads again in this country.
Mr. Speaker, I know His Excellency the President is on top of his security network - [Hear! Hear!] -- but I wish to caution that the offspring of sasabonsam is at work and all Ghanaians must fight it - [Laughter.]
Mr. Speaker, I want to jump on to ROBAB. About four billion dollars are said to have been come to Ghana last year and this has helped to stabilize our economy and moved this country on a right course. Mr. Speaker, ROPAB is to enable Ghanaians outside to exercise their democratic rights. I am not a lawyer, and we do not need a lawyer to tell us the legalities of it before we as Ghanaians will accept that our brothers abroad are contributing a lot towards the development of this country and as such what happens here in Ghana they must also be included. We need not to exclude them.

Mr. Speaker, there is so much misinformation and confusion being peddled by some political parties around the country. In my area there was an announcement, gong gong that people should resist ROPAB, people should fight against it and that if ROPAB came into being they were going to suffer forever
Mr. Haruna Bayirga (PNC - Sissala West) 1:15 p.m.

and ever. I knew those people and I confronted them and definitely they were National Democratic Congress (NDC) young people in my own area. So you can imagine the misinformation and the confusion that they are bringing into this country.

Mr. Speaker, I know His Excellency President Kufuor has come to save mother Ghana. Mr. Speaker, there were times that I felt like vanishing from my room when I was watching television. Mr. Speaker, a former Head of State could stand in front of all Ghanaians and say buului, in Ga; it means “fools.” - One can imagine -- or kwashaiee. I am sure we all heard and saw it?

Some hon. Members: Yes!
Mr. Bayirga 1:25 p.m.
Mr. Speaker, let us all as a people -- I want to tell Ghanaians, let us try and resist all these diabolical and sasanbonsam offspring so that the country would move forward and we would all stay peacefully and happily in this country.

Deputy Minister for Lands, Forestry and Mines (Ms. Theresa A. Tagoe): Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I am glad I have the chance to contribute towards thanking the President. He did so well and one could see that as time goes on the President is gaining confidence which showed in the way he delivered the Address. We thank him very, very much.

Mr. Speaker, some people are saying “the same.” I think we have an English problem here. If they say “the same” and he spoke in 2001 - “the same”; he spoke in 2004 - “the same” he spoke in 2003 - “the same.” The problem is he says he would put up infrastructure, so in the first Address, -- “I will do,” right? So the second time - “I have done some work” - Look at Sogakope, look at the Cape Coast road, look at Akropong - “I have done.” So when he talks about infrastructure he has to tell us - The promise that he made sometime ago, has he done it? It is not the same.

Mr. Speaker, the saying goes that beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. If you have squinted eyes you will see everything straight as squinted.

Mr. Speaker, schools -- improvement of schools. He says we would bring in FCUBE, he says go to school free and he says eat a meal a day. Is that the same? For the last time he said we would practise FCUBE; this time he said go to school free and eat one meal a day; it is not the same. He has done something; he has done a lot.

Mr. Speaker, what I would like to say about schools is that the President should really try to emphasize the teaching of our local languages; it is very important. Because, a lot of people speak English but they do not speak it very well and they cannot speak our Ghanaian languages. These should be compulsory in all the schools and there should be competitions. Obonu used to do kaaka akwo, but now we do not know what has happened to that programme. In addition to the local languages and English, we have to catch these children young, because Ghana is growing. We have businessmen coming with all sorts of languages, so at least

French and German should compulsory in all the schools; if we do not take care, we will soon be speaking Chinese.

Mr. Speaker, they are making noise about Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill what it is and all that. We are only thinking of people outside the country; it is not right. PNDCL 284 sections 7 and 8 are there. People who are suspects and are being kept in custody or whatever it is, they have not been sentenced but they do not vote. Why? Why? Are they not Ghanaians? Why are they in prison? Have they been sentenced? Why should their freedom be curtailed? That is the problem; that is what we have to look at.

Mr. Speaker, I was thinking about this Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill business and what we should do. But when I heard Mr. Agudey, the former CPP leader, the one who contested on CPP ticket, I was really surprised. He said, “You see, why should NPP pass the law? If NPP passes the law, they are the people who will choose the agents, the commission, et cetera, so it will be at the disadvantage of all the other parties.” Then I said, yes, that is the reason why they are opposing this. So should we wait for another party to come and pas it?

When the CPP comes into power, led by Mr. Agudey, will they pass it? Then other people too will resist it. But what we want to tell Ghanaians is that this is the time. People have been given dual citizenship; why are they there? Why can they not campaign? Why can they not vote? It is against human rights, the human rights of the people outside, the human rights of the people in prison who have not been sentenced. What are we going go to do them?

Mr. Speaker, they are saying that there will be fight. What do they mean by that? Fight? Mayhem? What is that? Do they go to church or the mosque? Anybody who preaches mayhem is a devil. - [Hear! Hear!] He should be put into hell. [Hear! Hear!] This country will never lead to that because many of us are praying than anybody else. But one should not be surprised; how did they come in? That is the question. It is the same style they want to repeat. But this time, Ghanaians, if the men will not do it, we women will fight. [Hear! Hear!] Am I telling lies?

Some hon. Members: It is true.
Ms. Tagoe 1:25 p.m.
Mr. Speaker, I love football; I thank the Lord that we are going to the World Cup Tournament. When we lost at the African Cup of Nations, they started criticizing everybody, criticizing the coach, criticizing this; they talk too much. But we know the problem that we did not address. Look at the height of our footballers, look at t hem; they short - They are short, look at them. I am taller than some of - [Laughter.]
Mr. Speaker, our diet, we do not eat well. Look around this Chamber, how many tall people are here? -- [Interruption.] We are not tall. Mr. Speaker, they are all short. We eat kenkey, kenkey is good, is if for healing, but we cannot be eating kenkey all the time. Mr. Speaker, the women were, there are only two tall people, hon. Anna Nyamekye and hon. Elizabeth Sackey; all of us are boom; 25 of us - short, boom, yes; why is that? So Mr. Speaker, I am calling on Ghanaians - Our children want to play football, our children want to do sports, our children want to join the world, let us change our diet, give them more meat, give them more protein.
The Ministry of Manpower, Youth and Employment is embarking on an exercise
Mr. Speaker 1:25 p.m.
Hon. Member, you have had ten minutes already.
Ms. Tagoe 1:25 p.m.
Please, Mr. Speaker, three second. You see where they come from, hon. Nedebugre, they are tall because of the way they eat. We are short - short and stocky. Hon. I.C. Quaye is tall, but has a big tummy - [Laughter.] We do not exercise; we do not look after our eating habits; our children want to do sports; please we should change their diet - [Interruption.]
Mr. Yaw Baah 1:25 p.m.
Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Instead of the hon. Member for Ablekuma South (Ms. Tagoe) sticking to the issue at stake, she has just been giving us biology lectures which is neither here nor there. She must focus on what the President said rather than giving us biology lectures. That tall and short issue, where is it from?
Mr. Speaker 1:25 p.m.
Hon. Member, I know you are winding up; please wind up.
Ms. Tagoe 1:25 p.m.
Mr. Speaker, we want to win the World Cup, we want to win the African Cup; and we have to do things which will make our sportsmen well.
Mr. Speaker 1:25 p.m.
Hon. Member for Ablekuma South, are you winding up?
Ms. Tagoe 1:25 p.m.
Yes, Mr. Speaker, just one second. And the other tall one was beating the - [Interruption.]
Dr. Akoto Osei 1:25 p.m.
Mr. Speaker, I need to be advised there. My senior Colleague here was exhorting the women of Ghana not to give their husband meat. Mr. Speaker, with all due respect, this can be a very dangerous precedent so if you can ask my hon. Colleague to withdraw that statement, because it is already recorded in the Official Report and some people might just take heed and not do that. That will be tantamount to deprivation.
Mr. Speaker 1:25 p.m.
Hon. Member for Ablekuma South, it is time to conclude.
Ms. Tagoe 1:25 p.m.
Mr. Speaker, I said they should give them to the children; the meat should be given to the children and not to the men; they are already grown. So Mr. Speaker, I will plead that we should all heed to eating very well because three quarters of us here are diabetic or we have blood pressure, and that is not good for the people.
Mr. K. A. Twumasi (NPP - Akoranza South) 1:35 p.m.
Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, for giving me the opportunity to contribute to the motion on the floor which was ably moved by my hon. Colleague to register the House's appreciation and
gratitude to the President for fulfilling another constitutional requirement and addressing this House on the State of the Nation on the 31st of January 2006.
Mr. Speaker, let me also take the opportunity to commend my hon. Colleagues for the various contributions they have made. Mr. Speaker, the Address can best be described as fatherly, inspiring, visionary and full of hope. It actually touched on every aspect of the economy. Hon. Colleagues have spoken and they have touched on so many areas. I would therefore want to restrict myself to human resource development.
Mr. Speaker, consistent with the diction of the President to achieve goals and deliver for the forward march of our dear country, His Excellency reaffirmed this commitment to the human resource development of our country. Mr. Speaker, last year, His Excellency identified the commitment and contentment of our teachers as a sine qua non to the full development of the human resource base of this country. Developments which need acclamation attest to this fact. Our brothers and sisters who did not have professional teaching certificates and therefore had no hope in continuing to deliver in our classrooms now have their hope revived and restored due to the introduction of some interventions initiated by the Government of President Kufuor.
First and foremost is the programme that was started about four years ago in selected teacher training colleges to enable these teachers who until then were referred to as untrained teachers or pupil teachers to upgrade themselves academically and professionally to continue with the job they are executing. In fact, I have had the opportunity to visit some of these students in some of the selected institutions and I dare mention, Mr. Speaker, that the joy

Hon. Speaker, through the initiative and the directive of the President, the Minister for Education and Sports has started the first phase of providing residential accommodation in some deprived areas of this country for our teachers. This is also giving hope to such areas where teachers, had until this time decided to abandon these young ones to their fate. The announcement by the President in the State of the Nation Address that an action is being initiated for the establishment of a hire-purchase system to enable teachers to acquire their own means of transport is welcome news and has the tendency to salvage our teachers who have suffered from shylock suppliers who have exploited the predicament of the teachers to the former's advantage.

I am very grateful, Mr. Speaker,
Mr. K. A. Twumasi (NPP - Akoranza South) 1:45 p.m.

that the appetite of our teachers was whetted when the President mentioned that there is also going to be a special home ownership scheme to be established by his Government for our teachers. Mr. Speaker, all these are good news to our teachers.

Mr. Speaker, the upgrading of all the thirty-eight training colleges in this country and more especially the selection of fifteen of them to specialize in the teaching of English, Mathematics, Science and Technical Education is also going to go a long way to produce the needed teachers to fill our classrooms. It would be recalled that on the floor of this House, a Statement had been made regarding the teaching of science and the problem, that we have actually that in this country is that we have been lacking the teachers do that. With this new system by the President, initiated by him with his for commissioning.

Mr. Speaker, as a matter of fact I would wish that hon. Members of this House have the opportunity to visit some of these schools that have been selected, to witness the provision of various infrastructural facilities which span from dormitories, classrooms, science laboratories, home economic centres and computer laboratories; these are good news for the country. [Hear! Hear!] The universities have not been left out and all the public universities in this country have also benefited from not less than ¢s20 billion for the provision of infrastructural facilities. This is unprecedented and the President needs to be commended for that. It goes to confirm the President's decision to develop the human resource base of

this country. Mr. Speaker, the President has also

through his own initiative and directive created equal access to education in this country. He has added another impetus to the Free Compulsory Universal Basic Education (FCUBE) programme by the introduction of the Capitation Grant. [Hear! Hear!] The figures are there for everybody to know. All children are happy because almost all of them have been provided with decent classroom accommodation, dual desks and the policy of supply of textbooks on one-one-one basis is ongoing and has reached a high level of execution. I was even surprised that in my own constituency one of the “Kufuor” buses which plies Nkoranza to Sunyani guarantees free ride to pupils of our basic schools. This is also good news to our people. Mr. Speaker, -- [Interrup- tion.]
Mr. Speaker 1:45 p.m.
Hon. Member, are you winding up now?
Mr. Twumasi 1:55 p.m.
Mr. Speaker, yes. The President talked about housing scheme. It is good news to Ghanaians. I would therefore want to plead that, as he mentioned, this is not concentrated only in the urban centres. Some of our districts are not getting the required number of administrators and workers because of the problem of accommodation in our rur5al districts. I wish therefore to suggest that each of the District Assemblies should also benefit from this kind of gesture of the President.
On the Health Insurance Scheme, Mr. Speaker, the President fatherly advised that hon. Members of this House carry the message to their constituencies. Coming from Nkoranza where this scheme has operated for about 14 years, Mr. Speaker, I wish to also advise my hon. Colleagues to take advantage of this Scheme and save themselves from the pestering of their
constituencies to help from pay hospital bills. Mr. Speaker, this year alone the number of registrants more than doubled in my district. As a matter of fact about 68,086 people registered. About 46 per cent of the population did that and as I speak about 38,540 of this number had in one way or the other accessed this fine facility. My question is, but for the visionary leadership of President Kufuor, how could this number have assessed affordable health delivery? It is not only that.

It takes the benevolence of a President like this to have a vision for his people. For this, I think that all hon. Members of this House must come together and express our appreciation and gratitude to the President, as we do so for the Address he has given to the nation.

Deputy Minister for Health (Dr. (Mrs.) Gladys N. Ashitey): Mr. Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity given me to comment on aspects of the State of the Nation Address by His Excellency J.A. Kufuor, the President of the Republic of Ghana on Tuesday 31st January, 2006.

I wish to place on record my personal gratitude and that of the people of Ghana for the impressive and progressive Address by His Excellency the President of the Republic of Ghana. Mr. President, I salute you; congratulations. The President demonstrated without any shadow of doubt that he is a real father who cares for the well-being of his children. He demonstrated happily that he is on ground with his people in charting the right course to take the people of Ghana to the

promised land, the land flowing with milk and honey.

Mr. Speaker, I wish to further state that I am very convinced of our President's seriousness and readiness to tackle and implement Government's policies and programmes with speed. Mr. Speaker, on assumption of office, our President ensured that the long-awaited National Health Insurance Scheme, which the previous Government hesitated to implement, became a reality. Indeed, it is characteristic of our President to prosecute every agenda of Government with all seriousness. By this achievement the President has shown proof of his belief in the adage that “a healthy people make a wealthy nation.”

By the implementation of the National Health Insurance Scheme, the Cash and Carry System of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Government which served as a catalyst to hasten avoidable death of our poor Ghanaians will become history. Now, the poor and vulnerable in our society have a hope of getting access to good healthcare in any of our health facilities without any problem, all over the country. What a great privilege and gift for the downtrodden in our society!

With the coming into effect of the National Health Insurance Scheme, life expectancy of all Ghanaians will be highly improved. Premature death due to inaccessibility to good healthcare will be a thing of the past. Ghana stands to benefit immensely as it is assured of a formidable able-bodied workforce to steer the boat of progress to the promised land.

Mr. Speaker, I wish to draw attention

of hon. Members to some fringe benefits of the insurance scheme, the notable one being the creation of employment
Mr. Twumasi 1:55 p.m.

opportunities for the people of Ghana. Employment is created as the manpower needs of the Scheme are addressed. For example, we have scheme managers and staff, premium collectors, claim managers and many more, who are needed to run the Scheme.

In area of data processing and record management of the Scheme, a lot of job opportunities are created for the people in the Information Communication and Technology (ICT) industry. Similarly, in the other new programmes initiated by the Government, many jobs opportunities are created. For instance, when fully implemented, the school feeding programme will create jobs for so many people in the country, especially small scale food processors, distributors, cooks, waiters, waitresses, dishwashers and bus boys.

Mr. Speaker, from the foregoing it

is crystal clear that His Excellency the President is after all right when he made the statement that two hundred and fifty thousand more jobs have been created, something the doubting Thomases refused to acknowledge.

Mr. Speaker, on human resource

development, His Excellency mentioned, among others, agricultural education and training. This is of great interest to me, coming from a fishing community. In the first place, the school feeding programme in our first cycle institutions is designed to promote good health of the Ghanaian child, with the opportunity to share at least one meal a day. Good nutrition and balanced diet for that mater will ensure proper mental and physical development of the child, which is the starting point of our human resource development

programme since there can be no human resource development without sound mental development.

Secondly, since agricultural education and training form part of human resource development programme, there is the need to look into employment avenues for the agricultural student. From the little research that I conducted, I gathered that the Government has plans to construct five wharfs along the coast, spread over from the Western Region, through the Central Region to the Greater Accra Region.

My understanding is that one is earmarked for the Ledzokuku Constituency. It is my prayer that these projects will see the light of day, especially the one for Teshie, which has been on the drawing board for a long time. This will help create jobs for the agricultural students and also for our less fortunate fisherfolks and fishmongers. I, therefore, wish to appeal to His Excellency the President to ensure the early implementation of these projects.

Mr. Speaker, I wish to emphasize

the need for Ghanaians to be properly identified so as to avoid infiltration of foreigners into the National Health Insurance Scheme which may deprive many Ghanaians their legitimate right to good healthcare and may even collapse the Scheme altogether.

At this juncture, Mr. Speaker, I wish to appeal to all Ghanaians to register to make the scheme a success.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, I wish to associate myself with hon. Members who have expressed similar compliments on His Excellency's State of the Nation Address and I accordingly wish to support the motion as moved by hon. Nana Akomea (Hon. Member for Okaikoi South).
Mr. Speaker 1:55 p.m.
Hon. Majority Leader, it is now two o'clock.
Mr. Owusu-Adjapong 1:55 p.m.
Mr. Speaker, it being two o'clock I think it is your prerogative to decide what you would next want us to do.