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.