Debates of 22 Feb 2006

PRAYERS 10:05 a.m.




Mr. Speaker 10:05 a.m.
Order! Order! Hon. Members, correction of Votes and Proceedings, Tuesday, 21st February, 2006 - Pages 1, 2, 3 … 10? [No correction in the Votes and Proceedings.] We do not have any Official Report.

Question number 276, hon. Alex Seidu Sofo, Member of Parliament for Damongo/Daboya.



Minister for Water Resources, Works and Housing (Mr. Hackman Owusu- Agyemang) 10:05 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the source of the Damongo water supply is a large impounding reservoir on a non-perennial steam, which was constructed by the Irrigation Development Authority(IDA) in the early sixties, with a plant capacity of 290,400 gallons/day (1,320m3/day).
The treated water from the plant is pumped through 2No. dresser Horizontal Split Casing centrifugal High Lift Pumps (one duty and one stand-by) into a tank of 133,716 gallons per day (607.8m3). capacity for distribution.
Main Constraint
Mr. Speaker, the source dries out almost completely during the dry season and very little water flows into the reservoir, even in some rainy seasons. To resolve the problem, some boreholes fitted with hand-pumps have been provided as a short term measure, and prospecting is being undertaken for drilling additional boreholes for mechanization where feasible.
Mr. Speake r, i n t he med ium term, consideration is being given to constructing an intake structure on Lake Kperi and pumping raw water to the existing treatment plant for treatment. This will be considered some time this year.
Mr. Speaker, for a long term solution, the Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing, acting through the GWCL has discussed with the African Development Bank (ADB), to provide funding to carry out feasibility studies to find a lasting solution to the provision of a more sustainable water supply for the Damongo area.
Indications are that, funds for the feasibility studies to abstract water from the Ox-Bow Lake, the Lake Kperi, which
is perennial will be made available in the second half of the year. Thank you.
Mr. Sofo 10:05 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, in the hon. Minister 's Answer, he mentioned specifically that this project would be completed in 2006. Now that we are in 2006, I would want the hon. Minister to be a little bit precise - the month -- because the people are really suffering.
Mr. Owusu-Agyemang 10:05 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, through the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, we have contacted the African Development Bank for funding to carry out the studies. We have gotten a positive response and we are hoping that by the second half of this year we would have gotten the funds for that particular feasibility studies.
Mr. Speaker 10:05 a.m.
Question number 277, hon. Alex Seidu Sofo, Member of Parliament for Damongo/Daboya, you may ask your question.
Atributo Township (Construction of Drain)
Q. 277. Mr. Alex Seidu Sofo asked the Minister for water Resources, works and Housing when his Ministry would begin the construction of the drains in Atributo township in damongo.
Mr. Hackman Owusu-Agyemang 10:05 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, Atributo township is a new problem area which was brought to our attention. We have directed the Hydrological Services Division (HSD) to investigate and report for further action. Let me take this opportunity to assure my hon. Colleague, just like the other areas, as soon as we get the report, we shall really see the way forward. Until then, I pray for a little bit of patience, because I was not personally aware of this particular
Mr. Speaker 10:15 a.m.
Question No. 278, hon. Yaw Effah-Baafi, Member of Parliament for Kitampo South?
Some hon. Members: Absent.
Mr. Speaker 10:15 a.m.
Question No. 279, hon. George Kuntu-Blankson, Member for Mfantsiman East?
Some hon. Members: Absent
Mr. Speaker 10:15 a.m.
Minister for Lands, Forestry and Mines - [Pause.]. Question No. 259, hon. Raphael Kofi Ahaligah, Member of Parliament for Afram Plains South?
Some hon. Members: Absent.
Mr. Speaker 10:15 a.m.
Question No. 260. Hon. Mohammed Jagri, hon. Member for Zabzugu/Tatale?
Some hon. Members: Absent
Mr. Speaker 10:15 a.m.
Minister for Lands, Forestry and Mines, thank you very much for appearing; you are discharged. [Hear! Hear!] Item 4 - Statements -- Statement by hon. Member for Asunafo North.
STATEMENTS 10:15 a.m.

Mr. Robeer Sarfo-Mensah (NPP - Asunafo North) 10:15 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I thank you for this special opportunity to make a Statement on an issue that is of great importance to effective and efficient planning for national development. This has to do with the current state of birth and deaths registration in the country.
The significance of birth and death registration in our development paradigm cannot be over-emphasized since birth and death registration is the bedrock
Mr. Robeer Sarfo-Mensah (NPP - Asunafo North) 10:25 a.m.
on which proper planning and national development rest. Birth registration, as part of the civil registration system in Ghana, plays san important role in the collection of vital statistics to help improve the nation's ability to plan effectively, monitor, evaluate and report on social and economic policies in Ghana.
Data from birth registration can be used to calculate indicators such as family size and fertility rates which are of developmental significances. Registration of birth is important because it has implications on the right of the Ghanaian child. Article 7 of the UN Convention stipulates that the child shall be registered immediately after birth and shall be accorded right to have nationality and parentage.
In a nutshell, Mr. Speaker, birth registration enables the Ghanaian child to realize his or her right to survival, protection, participation and develop- ment.
Without an accurate birth registration records, Government cannot have authentic data for provision of health and educational facilities in the various communities. It engenders a situation where all children in Ghana might not benefit from early childhood development policies such as immunization against the childhood killer diseases and planning for the pre-basic education (FCUBEA) system.
It is also important that a child's exact age is known so that he or she is not treated as an adult in terms of punishment when they fall foul of the law. Proper registration of birth will also go a long way to curb the high incidence of child labour and forced marriages of our young girls between the ages of 14 and 18 years. When their births
are registered and their exact ages are known, no one can take them for granted.
In the same vein, Mr. Speaker the registration of deaths helps in the identification of health problems so that they can be prioritized and appropriate solutions found to them. It is also meant to assist in the introduction, monitoring and promotion of interventions. Registration of death can also help in the compilation of life tables, estimation of the expectancy and generation of mortality rate.
Registration of deaths is important in making insurance claims on behalf of persons who lose their lives in accidents as well as those making Social Security claims on behalf of the deceased.
Notwithstanding the relevance of recording birth and deaths to the development of the nation, records available indicate that vital registration is seriously lagging behind and nowhere near the expected coverage. The current situation where only twenty-four per cent (24%) of deaths and fifty-one per cent (51%) of births occurring in the country are registered and thus get legally documented is a very sad commentary on a nation whose registration systems has been in existence for nearly a century, specifically, since 1912. In fact, record indicate that vital registration in the country is still not impressive despite the efforts made to improve it.
Mr. Speaker, the non registration of births of children, a majority of whom are born in the rural or deprived areas of Ghana, is in direct contravention of UN Convention of the right of the child to which Ghana is signatory. In fact, Ghana was among the first group of nations to ratify the convention.
Under the Convention for the Rights of the Child (C.R.C.), every child is
guaranteed the right to parentage and nationality, the right to protection, survival and development among other things. Ghana as a country cannot therefore by any act of omission deny our children of any of these rights. This is why we must all work hard to ensure that Ghana achieves universal birth registration in the shortest possible time so that all children born in Ghana will have their fundamental rights upheld through legal registration and certification of their births.
Mr. Speaker, a critical look at the trends in births and deaths registration over the years shows that registration coverage has not been impressive despite all the efforts made to bring about some level of improvement. Statistics available indicates that birth registration has risen from 17 per cent in 2002 to less s50 per cent in 2004. In the case of deaths registration, Coverage only rose from 19.7 per cent in 2000 to 20.3 per cent in 2004.
Mr. Speaker, this low coverage of birth and deaths can be attributed to a number of factors, principal among being the poor staffing situation of the Birth and Deaths Registry. The situation where the Registry, which is expected to operate in every community in Ghana, has a staff of only 354 registration officers? And a total of 386 registration offices throughout the whole country of 18 million citizens is unacceptable.

Mr. Speaker, other problems bedeviling the births and deaths registry are inadequate funding and lack of logistics. Inadequate budgetary allocation makes sit impossible for the registry to operate in every corner of the country while the absence of logistics such as office accommodation, equipments and vehicles, among others, impact negatively on the performance of the Registry.
Mr. Robeer Sarfo-Mensah (NPP - Asunafo North) 10:35 a.m.

Control Board of which I am Chairman, by the grace of God, had to do some emergency check on a Ghanaian and we contacted our counterparts in the United States of America and they told us that they could not help us unless we gave the date of birth of the person whose documents we were looking for. In fact, when they said this it struck me that the date of birth is crucial and so the birth certificate is the primary, fundamental document that covers every human being.

Mr. Speaker, i t is against this background that I think the Statement that the hon. Member had made is very fundamental. Indeed, in this country our biggest problem has been statistics.

Mr. Speaker, allow me to give this

very interesting example from my own constituency, Berekum. Mr. Speaker, according to the population census, the Berekum township has a population of sixty-three thousand people; that is what is on the record. In fact, because of this Berekum has not been made a municipality because they say we do not reach the figure.

But Mr. Speaker, the National Health

Insurance Scheme, we did so much publicity that when the health insurance in Berekum, decided to register citizens and children in Berekum town -- not even the districts, in the town -- even though they had covered only 85 per cent the number so far is ninety-three thousand.

Mr. Speaker, you can imagine, national

health insurance registration - ninety-three thousand. But in the record books of population secretariat, the population of Berekum town is sixty-three thousand. In other words, as many as thirty thousand

were not covered. So our problem is statistics. And to attack that problem we must go to the source, and the source is the day the child was born, that child must be registered. Now, how do we do the registration? The existing processes are so cumbersome. In the first place, you will be surprised to hear, Mr. Speaker - and I am not sure you will be surprised, because you are also a lawyer, so I know you know it.

Mr. Speaker, there are so many parts

of this country where registration officers are non-existent. They just do not exist so when a mother is pregnant and especially if she does not bring forth in a hospital or in a clinic but she brings forth in the village, that is the end of the story. The child will grow up to about ten years, go to elementary school, JSS, SSS without registering. The closest we have to birth certificate is baptism because usually the churches will baptize the child and then they will give some documents. But in terms of registering the child at birth it is a problem.

So Mr. Speaker, I would want to give a

recommendation. My recommendation is indeed to strengthen the recom-mendation that the hon. Member who made the Statement made, which is that we should give meaning to decentralization by ensuring that every District Assembly becomes the boss , the u l t imate authority. In fact, the office in Accra, my recommendation strongly is that it should be limited to only Accra and they should not have anything to do with those in the villages. Every District Assembly, Berekum District Assembly, Fanteakwa District Assembly, Asuogyaman District Assembly, Ga District Assembly, Jomoro District Assembly, Yendi District Assembly, every District Assembly should be made absolutely responsible for all problems about registration of births.

Then they should also decentralize by

giving their area councils and their town councils the authority to register their children. If somebody is born in Jinijini, there is no reason why the mother should come to Berekum District Assembly to register. Once you are born in Jinijini the parents should go to Jinijini Town Council offices and register the child.

Mr. Speaker, if we are able to do this

and give meaning and we give effect to this practice, then the advantages will be so many. We would not have to spend so much money doing population census. We would only have to spend so much money -- Or even this problem about identification cards, when we are registering the children and we are told that the registration number is GF2246668932 then it means forever that is the child's number.

And Mr. Speaker, interestingly enough,

if we are serious about this registration, it will even make the of court system, the criminal justice administration become simpler. Because right now, as I speak, if any lawyer is in court applying for bail, the judges will say that bail is granted to be justified by a surety. In other words, we cannot trace your movement, so unless another person comes to stand behind you, you will continue being in cells.
Mr. Speaker 10:35 a.m.
Hon. Member, please

Capt. Effah-Dartey (retd): Mr.

Speaker, my recommendation is that apart from strengthening the decentralization, we should also, at least in the short term, whilst trying to decentralize - I would want to urge the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development - It is unfortunate

the current hon. Minister is not here and the Deputy is also not here. But I am suggesting seriously that at least in the short term, they should empower the Birth and Deaths Registry, they should improve their capacity, they should increase the staff strength, they should give them the working tools, so that at least they can work. Because we cannot expect a whole Registry to operate at thirty per cent strength, it is not possible.

Mr. Speaker, with these few words, I

associate myself with the Statement.

Mr. Kojo Armah (CPP - Evalue

Gwira): Mr. Speaker, I would want to associate myself with the Statement so ably made by the hon. Member. I think the Statement is very important coming at this time when we are thinking of indeed, very soon operationalizing the national identification system.

Mr. Speaker, there is no doubt that

registration of births and deaths are two important functions that every nation ought to

Undertake, especially in terms of its statistics and its resource data base for development. However, our registration system in this country is bedeviled by many problems. As a member of the Committee on Local Government and Rural Development we have, every year heard a litany of problems that the Department of Births and Deaths registry have brought before us.

The issues raised by the hon. Member who made the Statement and the hon. Member who contributed are all very relevant. Lack of resources, mobility constraints, funding, office space and all these have been raised. But I believe that these problems have also contributed to the problems that we have been having in some of our other offices of document

issuance, like the Passport Office, where we do not even know whether the Ghanaian passport is really a genuine reflection of a person's citizenship. So it is important that the Statement is taken seriously.

Mr. Speaker, I would want to

believe that - We the Members of the Committee on Local Government and Rural Development, have recommended several times that we should let the unit committees and the area councils of the various districts handle birth and death registration. It is very easy and if the person does not have any obligation to move from one unit, his area of residence, to the district capital to register, I do not see how we even would want him to come to Accra to come and register unless of course, we would have to go to court and get a counsel -- like the hon. Member for Berekum will ask for documents so that he can prosecute his case for him.

But Mr. Speaker, it is important that

the units are made responsible as the primary source of our registering births at first instance. Because anybody who is pregnant in an area of five hundred people will be known by the rest and as soon as the person gives birth it will also be known and if there is death it will also be known.

Traditional birth attendants must also be empowered, they should be given some capacity training in registering births as primary source before they are all collated by the district birth officers. Every District Assembly has a registration office within the Assembly system.

10. 45 a.m.

They have officers who register but the general trend is that they normally wait for people to come and tell them that they want the birth certificate or they

want to register their births or they want a death certificate so that they can bury their dead. It is at that point that we do the registration but I think that if they are able to decentralize further to let the area councils and the unit committees take the primary responsibility of doing the first source registration, it would also be of immense importance to our registration system.

It is very important because, as the hon. Member for Berekum (Capt. Effah-Dartey (rtd)) said, sometimes you look at the population that you have in your district and you look at the books that the census people gave you, there is so much wide disparity that you wonder whether people have not offered themselves for the census enumeration or simply that the figures are not correct.

So I think we need to go to the primary

sources for registration, that is, the area councils. After all, the unit committees, most of them are not functioning because they do not have much to do. So if we can fund out this area to them so that they are given little bits of stipends, little bits of motivation so that at the end of every month or at the end of every quarter, the registration officer who has a motorbike can move to go and collate these figures, I think we shall be doing a lot to help.

It is important that the national

identification system should also collaborate with the Births and Deaths Registry so that the two of them can work in tandem because our statistics need to be updated. In this modern era of doing things we also need to modernize the system of doing all these things. Mr. Speaker, with these few words I want to support the Statement.

Mr. P. A . Sarkod ie (NPP -

Mampong): Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for the opportunity to contribute to the Statement on the floor. Mr. Speaker, in
Mr. Kwadwo Adjei-Darko (NPP - Sunyani West) 10:35 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, in supporting the Statement, I would want to say that perhaps the problem that we are facing as a nation is the fact that we go round, round always. We always want to reinvent the wheel when the wheel has already been invented and we try to discontinue programmes when pro- grammes have already been started.
Mr. Speaker, the Births and Deaths Registry falls under the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development which is responsible for decentralization and if there is any effective decentralization, it is that Ministry which should play the key role.
Mr. Speaker, the Member who made Statement gave some figures. Until 2004, the Births and Deaths Registry had not gone beyond twenty-five per cent births registration. But in 2004, by the close of the year, we were able to go beyond fifty per cent and it came about because at that time we decided that there should be effective decentralization in births and deaths registration. So pilot districts were selected and the District Chief Executives (DCEs) were called to the Ministry and in each pilot district each electoral area was to nominate three people so that if you have forty electoral areas in your district, you were to come along with one hundred and twenty names.
Mr. I. K. Asiamah (NPP - Mponua) 10:55 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, thank you for this opportunity. Mr. Speaker, I rise to support the Statement on the floor. Mr. Speaker, registration of births actually is critical to national development. Having accurate and reliable data on the number of births and deaths at any given time enables us to appreciate and understand the size of a population at any given time.
Mr. Speaker, talking of planning purposes, if we know the number of children who will be coming, educationally, the Capitation Grant will achieve its purpose because the Capitation Grant will obviously solve the problem of parents who are unable to pay the school fees for their kids. But then, that can only succeed if the Ministry of Education and Sports is aware of the number of people who are enrolled at any particular point in time.
Mr. Speaker, adequate data on the number of spite of their physical appearance are kids and those irresponsible men who defile them will put a stop to it. Some men are only attracted by physical appearance without considering the age of the kid.
Mr. Speaker, it is also important to
Mr. J. K. Hackman (NPP - Gomoa West) 10:55 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I also rise to associate
myself with the Statement on the floor.

Mr. Speaker, this show how inadequate our registration system is. In some countries, you only need your birth certificate and you do not need a guarantor to obtain a passport. This is because the hospitals, the maternity wards have been empowered to issue you with a birth certificate or a hospital record and you can easily walk in to obtain a birth certificate without any problem.

Mr. Speaker, it is even sad that when you visit overseas countries, you will see more than half Ghanaians living in the city all born in Accra or born in Apam or born in Cape Coast - whatever. It is just because the birth certificates were obtained in Accra; place of birth reads as Accra. When you are born in a village, there is no proper registration for you even to say that you were born here, or there and that has been an issue. Sometimes people ask me, are all Ghanaians born in Kumasi or Takoradi or whatever? I am trying to emphasise that hospitals, or especially maternity wards, be they private or public should be assisted to have proper registration and there should be a registration card that adequately specifies a registration number which one can use for the rest of his life time identifying himself.

Mr. Speaker, we have a lot of problems about the social housing, traffic planning and all that, it is all because we do not even have adequate records to help plan our school systems, our roads and all the other ones associated with it.

I wish to emphasise again that this
Mr. A. E. Amoah (NPP - Mpohor Wassa East) 10:55 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I would want to be very brief.
I think that the problem that we have is very simple and I see it as lack of an effective management information system. We know that if you are able to have an effective Births and Deaths Registry, this will help us in national planning as others have said.
But Mr. Speaker, let me give you an example. In the year 2000, some colleagues of mine were asked to find the status of Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) in Ghana and they went to most of these institutions including the Births and Deaths Registry and as you may agree with me, what they saw was that they saw computers all right, like what you find in most organizations, but the computers were only there for either writing letters or word processing and nothing else. And I wonder whether up to now, some of these computers are being used even to compile data on Births and Deaths Registry.
I know that when the craze of ICT actually hit the country, the idea was that every action sold be computerised, but I want to emphasise that if you computerize something that you have been doing for many years, it does not mean that you have designed an information system. I believe that this is still happening in this country and because we have only computerised what we have been doing, we have not been able to bring efficiency into the system. I would want to say that it is very difficult for any of us to go to the
Birth and Deaths Registry and get a very reliable data that can give us information.
So I would want to see the problem in terms of poor management information system and I would therefore agree that the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development should empower the Births and Deaths Registry to come out with an effective information mana-gement system whereby the Births and Deaths Registry could be actually registered and be use din the national planning.
I think that I also agree that the first option is to sensitize parents, make use of the unit committees in order to get the information. I believe that if all the 138 District Assemblies have effective management systems, it will help some of these institutions because the District Assemblies actually fall under the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development just as the institution that we are talking about also falls under the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development. Why is it that the Births and Deaths Registry at the district level cannot actually feed the District Assemblies with the relevant information? So I believe that we must see some of these problems in our vision to actually get a national data base. If we are able to get a national data base and we start the national data base system from the grass roots, most of these problems that we are talking about can be curtailed. With this, I will support the Statement.
Minister for Women and Children's Affairs (Hajia Alima Mahama) 11:05 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I rise to associate myself with the Statement. Mr. Speaker, I also want to recognize that there are problems in the birth registration, but more importantly I want us to also recognize the work the Births and Deaths registry is doing to
improve on the situation in collaboration with the various stake holders UNICEF, Planned International and Planned Parenthood Association. A lot of work has gone into the field and as stated by the Member of Parliament for Sunyani West, the statistics was 35 per cent as at 2002. Now, we can boast that the birth registration statistics is 56 per cent and that is a remarkable improvement and while this debate is going on we will want to use the opportunity to congratulate Births and Deaths Registry for the work they are doing in the area.
I am aware that they have gone round the whole country training people at unit committee levels, zonal levels and the district levels and the gathering of information on birth data as well as analyzing this information and they are doing this with the support of the Statistical Service Department as well as UNICEF and so many other institutions.
At the community level they collaborate with the children's department of the Ministry to ensure that these activities take place, and at the national level we have consensus building at various meetings in this regard. Yes, I agree that there is still more to do but I want to recognize that they are doing well, and from 2002 to 2005 to have been able to increase the figures from 35 per cent to 56 per cent is commendable. Thank you Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker 11:05 a.m.
At the Commencement
of Public Business, 5, Motions, Minister for Finance and Economic Planning?

Chairman of the Committee) 11:05 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I rise to present the Report of the Committee on Finance on behalf of the Chairman‘. Mr. Speaker our report is very short but concise. So I will want to read in its entirety.
1.0 Introduction
The Customs and Excise (Duties and Other Taxes) (Amendment) (No.2) Bill was laid in the House on Tuesday, 7th February 2006 and referred to the Finance Committee for consideration and report in accordance with the 1992 Constitution and the Standing Orders of the House.
To consider the Bill, the Committee met with the Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, hon. Dr. A. Akoto Osei and officials from CEPS and Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning and reports as follows:
2.0 References
The Committee referred to the following documents:
1. The 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana
2. Customs and Excise (Duties and Other Taxes) Act, 1996 (Act 512)
3. 2006 Budget Statement 3.0 Object of the Bill
The object of the Bill is to amend the Customs and Excise (Duties and Other Taxes) (Amendment) Act 1996 (Act 512) in accordance with the 2006 Budget Statement which was presented to the House in November 2005.
3.0 Observations
The Committee observed that this amendment would provide for zero-rating of essential inputs for the local textile industry. It would also abolish the 5 per cent import duty on lint cotton and other inputs for the local textile industry thereby reducing the total cost incurred by the industry in production.
T h e C o m m i t t e e n o t e d t h a t this amendment would enhance the competitiveness of the local textile industry among other imported textile products and is in line with government's policy of streamlining the exemption regimes to address the peculiar challenges encountered by the local textile industry.
The Committee noted that it would also abolish the import duty on essential textile inputs indicated in the first Schedule to the Customs and Excise (Duties and Other Taxes) (Amendment) Act 2003.
The Committee noted that with the passage of this Bill, the 5 per cent concessionary Import Duty rate on inputs for production of textile under HS Code 980600W 11 in the First Schedule of the Customs and Excise (Duties and Other Taxes) Act, 1996 (Act 512) will be abolished.
4.0 Conclusion
The Committee carefully examined the Bill and found it to be beneficial and therefore respectfully recommends to the House to adopt its report and approve the Customs and Excise (Duties and Other Taxes) Amendment Bill without any amendments.
Respectfully submitted.
Question put and motion agreed to.
The Customs and Excise (Duties and Other Taxes) (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill was accordingly read a Second time.
Mr. Speaker 11:05 a.m.
Deputy Majority Leader, at this stage do you have any indication?
Mr. A. O. Aidooh 11:05 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, may
I propose that we defer items 6 and 7 to tomorrow, and therefore I beg to move that we adjourn proceedings to tomorrow morning at 10.00 o'clock.
Mr. Speaker 11:05 a.m.
Any seconder to the
An hon. Member: Mr. Speaker, I
second the motion.
Question put and motion agreed to.
ADJOURNMENT 11:05 a.m.