Debates of 17 Mar 2006

PRAYERS 10 a.m.




Mr. Speaker 10 a.m.
Correction of Votes and Proceedings, Thursday, 16th March 2006. Page 1 . . . 19 --
Mr. E. A. Owusu-Ansah 10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I am sorry to take us back to page 16, under paragraph 21, the last but one line, where you have hon. Prof. G.Y. Gyan-Baffour. It is “Gyan-Baffour” not “Gyan-Baffout”.
Mr. Speaker 10 a.m.
Thank you. Page 18 .
. . 20 --
Mr. David Oppong-Kusi 10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, page 29, item 2 (v), the name is “David”. It has been put there as “Daniel”. Mr. Speaker, I was never in the lion's den. The name is David Oppong-Kusi.
Mr. Speaker 10 a.m.
The correction will be done. We have Official Report for -- [Interruptions] -- Yes, hon. Member for Sunyani West?
Mr. Kwadwo Adjei-Darko 10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I want to be guided on this issue. The Committee on Education was meeting whilst the Sitting of House was also in progress, and some of us were here. Attendance is sometimes recorded -- although I have been marked as present -- I do not think all the hon. Members
could leave the Chamber to be at the committee meeting at the same time. In such a situation, how should it be handled? When you have important Bills going on and at the same time, there is a committee meeting and you belong to that committee, how should it be handled?
Mr. Speaker 10:10 a.m.
Hon. Member, this
is a matter you have to take with the Leadership of the House but not at this stage.
We have the Official Report for
Wednesday, 8th March, Thursday, 9th March, Friday, 10th March and Tuesday 14 th March. If hon. Members have any comments thereon, omissions or corrections, they may bring them to the attention of the Table.
Item 3 -- Business Statement for the
First Week of the Second Meeting of the Second Session.
Mr. K. Agyei-Addo 10:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker,
I want to draw your attention to an article in the Daily Guide of today which actually misrepresented what we did in the House yesterday; and it is about this Customs, Excise and Preventive Service (Management) (Amendment) Bill, 2006 that we passed yesterday. It is reported as an amendment to Act 512 and it was in respect of some dumpers -- lowering of the rate on dumpers. Mr. Speaker, nothing of the sort happened yesterday. What we did was to amend Act 634 on over-aged vehicles, and I thought I should bring this to your attention.
Mr. Speaker 10:10 a.m.
I think you will take it
again with the Leadership of the House, please.

Mr. Speaker, the Committee presents its report to this honourable House as follows 10:10 a.m.
Arrangement of Business
Mr. Speaker, the Committee has scheduled twenty-seven (27) Questions to be answered by various Ministers of State during the week under reference.
The details are as follows:
No. of Question(s)
i. Minister for Energy 7
ii. Minister for Commu- nications 6
iii. Minister for the Interior 7
iv. Minister for Road Transport 7
Total Number of Questions 27
Mr. Speaker may allow Statements duly admitted to be made in the House.
Bills, Papers and Reports
Mr. Speaker, Bills, Papers and Reports may be presented to the House for consideration. Mr. Speaker, those which have already been presented to the House, may be taken through their various stages
of passage.
Motions and Resolutions
Mr. Speaker, Motions may be debated and the appropriate Resolutions taken where required.
Mr. Speaker, in accordance with Standing Order 160 (2) and subject to Standing Order 53, the Committee submits to this honourable House the order in which the Business of the House shall be taken during the week.
Mr. Speaker, I now proceed to present the details.

Questions --

Minister for Energy -- 299, 300, 301, 302, 303, 304 and 305.

Laying of Papers --

Report of the Committee on Employment, Social Welfare and State Enterprises on Persons with Disability Bill, 2006.

Report of the Committee on Health on the Food and Drugs (Amendment) Bill, 2005.

Motions --

Committee Sittings.

Questions --

Minister for Communications -- 387, 388, 389, 480, 481 and 482.

Laying of Papers --

Report of the Committee on

C o n s t i t u t i o n a l , L e g a l a n d Parliamentary Affairs on the Whistleblower's Bill, 2005.

Motions --

Adoption of the Report of the Committee on Lands and Forestry on the Annual Reports of the Office of the Administrator of Stool Lands for 1999 and 2000.

Committee Sittings.

Questions --

Minister for the Interior -- 400, 401, 402, 403, 404, 405 and 406.

Laying of Papers --

Report of the Committee on Education on the Polytechnics Bill,


Second Reading of Bills --

Persons with Disability Bills, 2006.

Committee Sittings.

Questions --

Minister for Road Transport -- 254, 311, 312, 313, 314, 315 and 316.

Laying of Papers --

Report of the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parlia- mentary Affairs on the Laws of Ghana (Revised Edition) (Amend- ment) Bill, 2005.

Second Reading of Bills --

Food and Drugs (Amendment) Bill,


Committee Sittings.

Mr. Speaker, I am grateful for the opportunity.
Mr. Speaker 10:10 a.m.
Item 4 -- Statements.
Statement by hon. Deputy Minister for Trade and Industry, she does not appear to be in. Hon. Member for Shai-Osudoku (Mr. D. T. Assumeng).
Mr. Assumeng 10:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I kindly
want to draw your attention to clause 2 of Order 48 and I quote, Mr. Speaker:
“(2) If at the time of Sitting a Member takes notice or objection that there are present in the House, besides the person presiding, less than one-third of the number of all the Members of Parliament, and after an interval of ten minutes a quorum is not present, the person presiding shall adjourn the House without Question put until the next Sitting day.”
Mr. Speaker, may I please draw your
attention to this.
Mr. Speaker 10:10 a.m.
Hon. Member for
Osudoku, I know this is your pet subject -- [Laughter] -- We will continue and we do hope that within the next ten minutes, we would have a quorum. Thank you for drawing our attention to this important Standing Order.
Mr. Assumeng 10:10 a.m.
Thank you, Mr.
Mr. Speaker 10:10 a.m.
Hon. Member for
Amenfi West.
STATEMENTS 10:20 a.m.

Mr. John Gyetuah (NDC -- Amenfi West) 10:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to make a Statement on the challenges of decentralization and the way forward.
Mr. Speaker, Decentralization and Local Governance have become topical issues in development discourse in recent decades. Many developing countries including Ghana are actively pursuing this democratic process with the aim of equitable and effective local development.
Many towns and cities in the country are facing rapid population growth, congestion, poor environmental sanitation, inadequate services, insecurity and massive unemployment. This calls for good governance and effective management for a sustainable and vibrant life.
Mr. Speaker, within a framework of limited resources, personnel and attitudinal problems, financial constraints, Metropolitan, Municipal and District A s s e m b l i e s h a v e t o e n c o u r a g e stakeholders participation, public- private partnership, private sector initiative and effective management in order to face the challenges.
Decentralization came to the fore in December, 1988 during the PNDC administration. The decision of this process was to deepen democracy and decentralization as well as de-emphasize centralization. The process was aimed at creating a forum at the local level where development agencies and practitioners, representatives of the people and all other concerned agencies brainstorm, deliberate and accede on the development policies
Mr. John Gyetuah (NDC -- Amenfi West) 10:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, decent ra l iza t ion therefore puts emphasis on growth- with-equity policies, with the rationale that development is a complex process that cannot be planned and controlled effectively and efficiently from the centre.
Some of the driving forces behind the increased interest in decentralization by both governments and donor agencies are the failure of centralized approaches to development, the perceived benefits often associated with decentralization, and the benefits which include increased effectiveness, efficiency, responsiveness, accountability, participation, ownership, empowerment and poverty reduction.
Mr. Speaker, the District Assemblies are therefore the pivot or fulcrum around which the decentralization programme revolves.
The functions of the Assemblies are deliberative, legislative and executive and they are in consonance with section 10 (3) of Act 462.
Mr. Speaker, though well-intentioned, the system is fraught with problems due to a number of factors. Some of the problems that militate against the effective and efficient functioning are, excessive politicization of issues at the district levels, the inability of some Assemblies to retain quality staff due to poor remuneration and conditions of service, problem of revenue assessment due to lack of database, poor monitoring and supervision, poor incentives for collectors and fraudulent practices, lack of skilled staff for revenue collection, poor infrastructure especially roads in some districts, inadequate working tools and equipment, lack of motivation for Assembly Members and the delay in releasing District Assemblies Common Fund.

Mr. Speaker, the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies will be very effective and efficient depending on the quality of staff and Assembly Members.

It is therefore crucial for highly educated individuals to be wooed to actively participate in the District Assembly elections since this will encourage and enrich the quality of debate and promote accountability thereby raising the output of Assemblies to appreciable levels.

Mr. Speaker, the interest of Assembly Members are waning especially in the deprived districts due to lack of motivation and other logistical support to make them more functional.

Mr. Speaker, the allowances of District Assembly Members are woefully

inadequate. This situation is dampening the spirit of even new ones who wish to offer themselves at contesting the forthcoming District Assembly elections. It would not be out of place if in the near future some electoral areas would not have people to represent them because of the poor remuneration and recognition given to Assembly Members.

Mr. Speaker, a cursory look at the sitting allowances of Assembly Members in some selected districts brings home clearly the plight of the Assembly Members.

Juabeso District Assembly -- ¢50,000 per sitting

Dangbe West District Assembly -- ¢40,000 per sitting

Ketu District Assembly -- `¢70,000 per sitting

Hohoe District Assembly

Government and Rural Development to liaise with the appropriate agencies to offer better honorarium to our Assembly Members who have worked indefatigably to sustain our infant democracy. This will motivate more qualified and skilled personnel to accept to become Assembly Members.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, for the opportunity.

Mr. John A. Ndebugre (PNC --
Mr. E. T. Mensah 10:20 a.m.
I rise on a point
of order. The hon. Member for Zebilla is misleading this House. I was in charge of Accra when -- [Interruptions.] He was not a PNDC Member, he was a PNDC Secretary - [Interruption.]
Mr. Speaker 10:20 a.m.
Deputy Minority Whip,
do not be disrupted.
Mr. E. T. Mensah 10:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, he must be told that the group that was led by Justice Annan worked on the “Blue Book” which went round the country. It is absolutely not correct that he wanted to accelerate anything and that was why he left. He left because there was a demonstration against what they called the “Gang of Four” -- when the PDCs demonstrated against the Gang of Four then.
The President, His Excellency J. A.
Kufuor was one, Dr. Obed Asamoah, hon. Alhaji Iddrisu Mahama and Mr. K. B. Asante. They demonstrated and said that they did not trust them and that they were people who would pull the system back. After that, the women also demonstrated to the Local Government Ministry demanding reduction in some rates that had been increased. It was after that demonstration that he left. So what he is saying is absolutely not correct.
Mr. Speaker 10:20 a.m.
Hon. Members, we are dealing with Statements which are not expected to provoke any debate. So please take this into account when you are contributing.
Mr. Ndebugre 10:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I just want to say that my good Friend is not up- to-date because the period I am talking about, to the best of my knowledge, he was an accounting assistant at Legon and not involved in the revolution -- [Interruption.]
Mr. Speaker 10:20 a.m.
Hon. Member for Zebilla, as I have said, do not make statements to provoke any debate.
Mr. E. T. Mensah 10:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, he was in Nigeria. It is not true. Accounting assistants in Legon are senior staff; I was a senior staff out there. He was brought from Nigeria with only a polythene bag and was interviewed by Mr. Kwamena Ahwoi - [Interruptions.]
Mr. Ndebugre 10:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I was an Engineer - [Interruption.].
Mr. Speaker 10:20 a.m.
Hon. Member for Zebilla, let us make progress.
Mr. Ndebugre 10:20 a.m.
What I was trying to say was that the decentralization programme has had some checkered history. I will leave the details because it
-- ¢50,000 per sitting
Nadowli District Assembly -- ¢20,000 per sitting
Sene District Assembly -- ¢20,000 per sitting
Wassa Amenfi West District Assembly -- ¢70,000 per sitting
Nzema East District Assembly -- ¢30,000 per sitting
Kwabre District Assembly -- ¢50,000 per sitting
Tema Metropolitan Assembly -- ¢150,000 per sitting
And monthly allowance of -- ¢300,000
Accra Metropolitan Assembly -- ¢250,000 per sitting
Mr. Speaker, this is the awkward situation our dear Assembly Members find themselves
in. I wish to suggest that the Minister for Local Government and Rural Development makes a proposal for the amendment of Act 462 to ensure better remuneration for our dear Assembly Members who ensure the dissemination of government policies and programmes to the people at the grass roots.
Mr. Speaker, it is left with a few months for Assembly Members in the entire country to end their tenure of office and I wish to make a passionate appeal to the Minister for Local
Mr. Ndebugre 10:30 a.m.
might provoke some debate.
We have come a long way but we still have a lot to do in order to consolidate the gains of the programme. I agree totally that there is the need for us to woo professionals and other highly educated persons to participate actively in the Assemblies, because the Assemblies right now are bereft of the expertise that they need; and that again can be traced to the recent history of the decentralization programme. At the time that it took off, there was too much controversy surrounding it and that seemed to have put off professionals and other highly educated persons from participating.

Its importance has become very well established so it is time now for us who are Members of Parliament and related institutions to try and convince our friends and our supporters and our constituents who are highly educated and knowl- edgeable and have expertise to show interest in the District Assemblies and therefore participate in the forthcoming elections in July, August or so. That is not to say that we should go against the law by participating in these elections using political party names because the Local Government Act disallows participation in the District Assembly Elections through party channels, for very good reasons -- so that there would be a broad base at the local level, so that development can take place.

The other matter I want to touch on briefly is the question of whether or not the District Chief Executive position should be elective. It is my view that the District Chief Executive position ought to be elective because it is about the only way
Mr. E. T. Mensah 10:30 a.m.
On a point of order. Mr. Speaker, my hon. Good Friend today is misleading this House. He on one leg said that the District Assemblies, because of certain problems are full of people whose backgrounds are weak. On the other side, he is saying that the President should not appoint 30 per cent. If he had checked the rationale behind the appointment of the 30 per cent, he would have realized that it was to deal with the issue where at the end of the elections people who were not educated and others would emerge.
If you want to balance the equation, you need to have people who would assist in pushing the system forward. That was the rationale behind the 30 per cent which
has been captured in the Constitution. If it is being misapplied it is another thing altogether but the rationale was to balance the personnel requirement at the district level.
Mr. Ndebugre 10:30 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I think that even if that was the initial intent, the thing has become subject to abuse. When District Chief Executives are to be approved, the 30 per cent people are threatened and in some cases they are removed and replaced immediately before the elections -- that sort of thing. That is absolute abuse which ought not to be encouraged. This is what I am talking about.
I agree also that we need to strengthen the capacity of the District Assembly not just at the District Assembly level but even up to the unit committee level; that is where really the problem is. Because unit committees are in absolute disarray at this moment and they are supposed to be the raw materials for the District Assemblies. The training should start from there and then they would feed the District Assemblies which would also feed this House. We are not taking the building of capacity at the unit committee level seriously enough, and I call on the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development to start thinking about it and do something about it in the shortest possible time.
The last point I want to talk about is on this unwholesome competition between District Chief Executives and the Members of Parliament. And that again, is because we have not structured the programme properly. In every sphere of life, you must rise along a particular line. I do not think it is proper for nurses to want to become doctors or for technicians to want to become engineers. If you choose the technician branch, you try and
progress to the top and you can become as important as the doctor. If you have chosen to be a doctor, you progress along that line.
Mr. Speaker 10:30 a.m.
Hon. Member, please conclude.
Mr. Ndebugre 10:30 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I am concluding. And the District Chief Executive should allow those who want to do legislation to progress up to Members of Parliament and maybe ultimately become the Speaker. That is not to say I want to replace Mr. Speaker.
With these words I support this Statement and I urge all hon. Members to support it.
Dr. Benjamin Kunbuor (NDC -- Lawra/Nandom) 10:30 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I think that this Statement is well made and it is also on the subject matter that I have been a student for so many years, and I think that I have to throw in one or two comments on the discussion.
You see, quite often I listen to hon. Ndebugre. He indicated the longevity of the history of decentralization and that again creates a difficulty in terms of decentralization in this country. There is a very fundamental difference between decentralization as a process and local government de-concentration that we had since the colonial period until 1984. In fact, decentralization as a concept, one that involves devolution of power to the

local level, commenced with the yellow and blue book in the year 1984 which was the minimum introduction of the elective principle into our politics in this country.

So to say that decentralization has been with us, you need to be very careful. We had de-concentration of government agencies from colonial times till 1984 which was eventually implemented in 1988/89 with PNDC Law 207. We must see its closest character so that we will be able to evaluate it properly.
Mr. Ndebugre 10:30 a.m.
On a point of order. Mr. Speaker, for the sake of the records, I just want to draw my hon. Good Friend's attention to the fact that the 1969 Constitution contains a chapter on decentralization. So it may be his interpretation but I am talking about the legal history of decentralization in this country.
Dr. Kunbuor 10:40 a.m.
In fact, there is a very good writer on decentralization who says that try as hard as you can to give de-concentration the notion of decen- tralization, that will never turn it into decentralization.
I am quite aware of what the 1969 Constitution said but it was again de- concentration and not decentralization. And decentralization, I said, was actually based on a number of micro-objectives which definitely gives it the qualitatively different character from what we have had -- devolution of power, democratization of power, t ransfer of means and competence which today we call physical decentralization and a bottom-up approach to development planning.
These were the essential micro- objectives of decentralization that were to
drive the entire process in this country, and my difficulty actually has been with the democratization element because beyond the district level elections, we were told we would move into the election of regional assemblies and eventually to national assembly. That got truncated because of the democratization ways and political pressure that required most countries to move into national electoral processes. So we skipped the regional assemblies -- and that is what creates the difficulties that we have presently -- into the national assembly arrangement.

I am actually responding to some of the difficulties that we have today, why you have a partly elected District Chief Executive (DCE) and he is actually accountable to a Regional Minister whose role in the law is about co-ordination and harmonisation, and yet at the adminis- trative level, he is not co-ordinating the District Assembly but he is actually issuing policy directives to be implemented. That is why that problem is created.

Secondly, Mr. Speaker, the idea of keeping away professionals has been something that has been known since the days of PNDCL 201. The basic idea of having the one-third was that, most professionals shied away from getting involved in the vagaries of an electoral contest.

So quite often, the one-third or 30 per cent at that time was provided for so that these professionals would actually be appointed to bring their expertise to deal with the local level until career local level practitioners agreed to go and service the local government. That was one of the difficulties which delayed the Local Government Service Act because of this difficulty with the Civil Service professionals and local level recruitment.

You would realise, and I can tell you

on authority in relation to my District Assembly, that the one-third was normally used to put in a planner, if there was none

elected, to put in a professional lawyer, to put in an engineer. This has changed since 2001 and I can tell you, as we sit here, on authority that I was an appointed member, professionally, to my District Assembly.
Mr. David Oppong-Kusi 10:40 a.m.
On a
point of order. Mr. Speaker, the hon. Member just said that the idea of bringing professionals into the system has changed since 2001. There is no evidence to support what he is saying. I, myself, like him, was appointed to the District Assembly after 2001 as a professional. So if that happened in his Assembly it does not mean it is happening nationwide. There was no policy to change that arrangement, so he should not misinform the public.
Dr. Kunbuor 10:40 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I thank
the hon. Member very much. But I can even take not only Lawra/Nandom, but the entire Upper West Region. Does the hon. Member know why their tender boards, with the composition that has been put in, can actually not operate in relation to procurement? There are only two practising lawyers in the Upper West Region. The third belongs to the Attorney- General's Department.
The composition of tender boards always requires somebody with legal knowledge. Does the hon. Member know that the eight District Assemblies in the Upper West Region, legally cannot be constituted? So you have one Attorney- General personnel that travels around almost all the District Assemblies to take part in tender board arrangements.
I am simply telling the hon. Member that if he uses the one-third -- he might be lucky in his District Assembly, but I can tell him that many District Assemblies in the three regions in the north have not utilised this one-third or 30 per cent to fill the gap of capacity at the local level. That is the argument that I am raising and I can tell the hon. Member on authority that I have studied 45 District Assemblies in this country and the patterns are about the same.
Mr. Speaker, the other issue about democratisation that I wanted to raise in relation to the fact that decentralisation is a process, has to do with the fact that people raise the argument that when one government is there, you say we should not elect the DCE, when another government comes in and they are in opposition, then they say they should elect him. The idea basically was that you could not adopt a hundred per cent elective principle for local level structures. So it was intended that as you evaluated decentralisation performance year after year, you would immediately get to the critical benchmark in which you would begin to democratise deeply, in which the election of a DCE and the entire Assembly would be done.
Members should go and have a look at the 10 years evaluation report of decentralisation by the World Bank and they would see that we have actually reached a critical threshold where we have to begin to think through the mechanisms put in place for a totally-elected District Assembly and an elected DCE. That report still sits today in our national arrangement. Who is actually trying to pull the strings together to ensure that that particular evaluation report has been addressed?
Mr. Speaker, I could say so much on this subject but I think this would be so
Mr. Akwasi Afrifa (NPP -- Fomena) 10:40 a.m.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for allowing me to contribute to this Statement.
Mr. Speaker, decentralisation and for that matter, local government adminis- tration is dear to my heart just as the hon. Member who just spoke said. Develop- ment can come about when we are able to mobilise our local people behind development projects in the country.
The impression that was created initially was wrong, that local government and for that matter decentralisation effectively started in the 1980s. On record, the Guggisberg Constitution of 1925 established the three municipalities -- Accra, Cape Coast and Sekondi-Takoradi; and that was an aspect of decentralisation.
Again, Mr. Speaker, when the Coussey Constitutional Committee was set up to prepare the ground for the 1951 Constitution, emphasis was also laid on decentralisation. So we have been with decentralisation from the word, “go”. Local government elections for that matter, that is the democratisation of local government had already taken place.
During Dr. Nkrumah's time, yes, there were local government elections in the country; during Dr. Busia's time, there was local government elections in the country. So it is not true. What is important is that from the PNDC law on local government or decentralisation it has been broadened and has been improved to a very considerable extent, but that is not the genesis of decentralisation in Ghana.
Mr. Speaker, de-concentration, delegation and devolution are all aspects of the same decentralisation system. And then, having the one-third non-elected members, yes, it was also copied from
the councillor system of local government in Britain, where you have the Adamie and the bibliothorial type in France; we also have the same thing, as well as the city manager type that is practised in the United States, we also have this same thing. So these are all put in there to attract qualified people as my hon. Brother said.
But the three northern regions, produce numerous lawyers. Some are my friends, my mates, but they have all decided to remain in the south, and this is depriving the north of the qualified brains that are required to serve in the local government system -- I wish some of my brothers from the north who are qualified would also think of going back to help develop that all-important region of Ghana.
Mr. Speaker, the bane of the present local government system is that, it is not being made attractive because allowances paid to Assembly members are poor. And it is also because most of the Assemblies have failed to generate enough resources internally -- that is the point -- to cater for these all-important allowances in order to attract the required personnel.
I would therefore not waste time at all but call on the District Assemblies to improve on their internally-generated funds so that they would be able to pay attractive allowances, in order to attract and retain qualified personnel to work in the Assemblies.
Mr. C. K. Humado (NDC -- Anlo) 10:50 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I also rise to support the Statement made by my hon. Colleague.
Indeed, the concept of decentralisation is a good one and if implemented to its logical conclusion, should benefit the people of Ghana. However, since 1988, there have been a lot of challenges. Most of my hon. Colleagues who have spoken before me have pointed out some of these things but what is important is that the process of decentralization has an in-built mechanism for monitoring and evaluation.

Since 1988, the process of monitoring and evaluation has been ongoing and various reports that have been written showed the issues and the challenges very clearly. I think what is lacking is the will to face those challenges headlong and to implement the recommendations of these reports.

Mr. Speaker, the Statement is again a wake-up call on the issue of decen- tralization. On the radios, on televisions, in newspapers, you hear columnists or you see columnists always talking about the issue of decentralization. I would want to just point out two areas in addition to what my hon. Colleagues have earlier on done.

The capacity of the Assembly members is so low that it has become a serious issue. When I go round my constituency, simple information which should have been available at the level of the communities is just lacking, when this information is already available at the district levels. This situation puts a lot of pressure on Members of Parliament to back up Assembly members in what they should have been doing, and I think that it is becoming a problem because it is not the best use of our resources.

Secondly, the capacity of the planning unit -- The planning unit is so essential and lies at the core of decentralization that attention must be drawn to it because it is this unit that captures the projects, prepares the designs and the bill of quantities and also supervises the projects. In some districts, particularly mine, the capacity is very low and therefore any effort to improve the process must also focus on the capacity of the planning unit.

Mr. Speaker, this issue is very important
Mr. C. K. Humado (NDC -- Anlo) 10:50 a.m.
It is in view of this that I seriously support my hon. Colleague that this Statement is again a wake-up call to all of us, particularly Government that something seriously needs to be done about the decentralization process.
Rainstorm in Salaga Constituency
Northern Regional Minister (Mr.
Abu-Bakar Saddique Boniface): Mr. Speaker, on the 4th and 7th of March, 2006, an unusual rainstorm swept through the townships of Bimbilla and Salaga, leaving in its wake massive destruction of public as well as private property, especially buildings. I describe the rainstorm as unusual because it was least expected at this time of the year when in the Northern Region we are in the dry season.
The storm came in the form of a whirlwind, circling through the townships from all directions with equal magnitude, ripping off roofs of buildings, mostly those roofed with iron sheets, pulling down buildings as well as trees and even high tension electric poles in a wonderful style that one wondered if that storm was specially designed to undertake that assignment. Fortunately, however, no deaths occurred but two persons in Salaga sustained serious injuries -- fractures in their limbs and shoulders.
The rainstorm devastation has taken place; many persons have been rendered
homeless and displaced, and school attendance has been disrupted due to the destruction to the school buildings. Indeed, the situation in both townships is pathetic, that is, it went through Salaga to Bimbilla. It is difficult for most if not all the affected persons to rebuild and re-roof their houses. In fact the situation would have been catastrophic if we were in the thick of the raining season.
However, we cannot allow the victims of the disaster to continue to be exposed to the vagaries of the weather. Besides, we are not too far away from the raining season in the north. Therefore, something ought to be done and it must be done without delay to save the situation from deteriorating further.
In the light of the above, I, as the head of the region and the Member of Parliament for Salaga constituency, wish to use this opportunity to appeal to Government, non-governmental organi-zations (NGOs), donor agencies, financial institutions and organizations, religious bodies and indeed all public spirited individuals to come to the aid of the victims of the disaster so as to alleviate their suffering and trauma.
In the case of the affected school buildings, I wish to make a special appeal to GETFund to make a special concession to these schools in order to salvage the situation so that teaching and learning would not be interrupted by this incident. Prompt intervention on this matter by GETFund would go a long way to ensure that children in those areas do not suffer
setbacks in their education.
Having said all these, let me briefly state statistics of the disaster brought about by the rainstorm in the Salaga two townships:
In Salaga -- 3,350 persons were rendered homeless/displaced
-- 1 1 5
houses (dwelling places) were destroyed
-- 7
school buildings were destroyed (these schools include nurseries, primary, JSS AND SSS)
-- 2

-- 2

persons sustained serious fractures in their limbs and shoulders.

In Bimbilla, the report as was read yesterday was as follows:
- - 10:50 a.m.

Mr. Asamoah Ofosu (NPP -- Kade) 11 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I thank you for giving me the opportunity to briefly contribute to this all-important Statement.
Mr. Speaker, we are told that the first law of safety mechanism is that whatever can happen will happen so it is for men to guard against it by being proactive. Mr. Speaker, it is all-knowing that the rains at all times will come, as the hon. Member who made the Statement said, that even though they are in the dry season they expect the rains to come shortly.
Mr. Speaker, all over this country we have about 180 FM stations transmitting in almost every community in this country. We have the Meteorological Department which is an agency to warn us against some of these things which include the rainstorm that may have occurred in Salaga.
the magnitude of the devastation is greater than they can contain. It is therefore my hope and prayer that my passionate appeal for assistance to these victims receives favourable response.
Mr. Herod Cobbina (NDC -- Sefwi Akontombra) 11 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, thank you for giving me the opportunity to contribute to the Statement made on the floor of the House. Just yesterday, we had a Statement from Bimbilla and today a Statement from Salaga. I
Mr. Speaker, I had the opportunity of listening to most of the FM stations yesterday, which, as part of their programmes in the morning, got the Meteorological Department to tell us of what was going to happen and what we should expect; so did the two major television stations, TV3 and GTV. Surprisingly, Mr. Speaker, with all the huhudious figures they gave and the graphs that were shown on the television, they could not even predict the rains that were going to come down this morning in Accra. [Laughter.] Mr. Speaker, we also have most of these FM stations -- [Interruption.]
Mr. Kojo Armah 11 a.m.
On a point of order.
Mr. Speaker 11 a.m.
Is this is a point of
Mr. Armah 11 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, it is a point
of order. The word huhudious is unknown to our lexicon in Parliament.
Mr. Speaker 11 a.m.
Hon. Member for Kade, you may proceed.
Mr. Ofosu 11 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, huhudious means strange. [Laughter.]
Mr. Speaker 11 a.m.
Hon. Member, I say
Mr. Ofosu 11 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, we have this
Meteorological Department as an agency that is to warn us against these occurrences but they even failed yesterday to tell us of the rains that were to come down this morning, heavy as they were this morning. Mr. Speaker, we again see that most of our FM stations and radio stations for that matter have also not helped us. They spend most of the time debating and doing analysis of politics other than things that would benefit the society.
Mr. K. O. Frimpong 11 a.m.
On a point of
order. Mr. Speaker, my hon. Colleague is misleading the House that the Meteorological Service Agency could not forecast the weather. Yesterday, I watched the television and they forecast all right; they showed us all the places it would rain. So if he did not watch the television then he should not mislead us. They are forecasting efficiently as they should do.
Mr. Speaker 11 a.m.
Hon. Member for Kade,
please, proceed.
Mr. Ofosu 11 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, there are
several television stations -- TV3, Metro TV, TV Africa and so on. I do not know which of them he may be referring to but from what I watched they did not forecast the intensity of the storm this morning. [Laughter.] Mr. Speaker, what they said was that there would be some slight showers and what happened this morning was not slight showers, it was a storm. Mr. Speaker, I therefore invite the Meteorological Department and its agencies as well as the radio stations to
be up and doing and warn us against such disasters.
Mr. Speaker, let me also touch on a point about putting up buildings in this country. Mr. Speaker, when one wants to put up a building, especially as a dwelling place, one will have to get the land and send the building plan for approval. But Mr. Speaker, what do we see? You will send your building plan for approval and for months and years it will be lying there and you will receive no response. And by the dictates of the laws of this country, if you do not hear from them after submitting it, after three months you can go ahead and build.
Most of the developments that we have of late are not approved, so the building inspectors are not there to see to it that the foundation, the sub-structure and then the super-structure are proper, and so with the slightest storm we end up having such disasters which could have been avoided.
Mr. Speaker, there is also the issue of
maintenance culture in this country. Most buildings that may have been approved and have been standing over the years may not have seen any maintenance over the years. Mr. Speaker, I will say this to include even this building. Mr. Speaker, until the recent works that were done on this building to prepare us for this Meetings -- During our last Meeting, this building was leaking and at a point in time we had a Sitting where an air-conditioner fell from where the press is seated. But for the intervention of God we would have recorded another disaster in this House.
Mr. Speaker, I am therefore inviting everybody in th is country, both Government and private individuals that we should cultivate the culture of maintenance of our buildings and all public structures.

Mr. Speaker 11 a.m.
Item 19, Chairman of
the Committee?
Mr. Speaker 11 a.m.
Yes, hon. Member for
Mr. Afrifa 11 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I am a
Mr. Speaker 11 a.m.
Permission is granted.
MOTIONS 11 a.m.

Mr. David Oppong 11:10 a.m.

Ofoase/Ayirebi: Mr. Speaker, I rise to support the motion on the floor. In so doing, Mr. Speaker, let me narrate something that I read yesterday from a newspaper that was going round; I hope other hon. Members read that newspaper. The first sentence was that poverty is a natural phenomenon; I said this could not be. Mr. Speaker, poverty is not a natural phenomenon. When God created us, He gave us the abundance of everything we would need to live; we were not poor. Poverty is a result of the way we have lived our lives. Poverty is a result of the way we have used our resources; the lopsided use of our resources, the imbalance in the way we use and apply our resources have resulted in what we now call ‘poverty'.

Mr. Speaker, it is in our power and it is our duty to help reduce poverty. We cannot all be wealthy to the same extent, but we need not, and nobody needs not suffer the degradation of poverty. We now have what we call inherited poverty, poverty that will not go away. People are poor because their parents were poor; they

are poor because the environment in which they lived encouraged poverty. The time has come for us as a nation to put in place measures to specifically target areas that will help remove these bottlenecks, that will help remove this cycle of poverty.

I think I see hope in the document. It may not be the complete panacea but at least it is a way forward; and I think all of us, especially Members of Parliament should take ownership of this document, read it, find out how we can in our various ways help to reduce poverty. Because poverty stares us in the face wherever we go, whether urban poverty or rural poverty.

You can see that, Mr. Speaker, some people want to break out of this poverty. You see people working very hard all day long just to earn a few cedis. It is not the hard work per se; it is work that has to produce results. Mr. Speaker, we need to put in education, we need to put in resources so that those of us who are caught in this cycle of poverty would be able to break out.

The other hon. Member talked about

agriculture and sometimes it is sad to note that we pay lip-service to agriculture. Everybody in the rural area is a engaged in agriculture but whilst we are modernizing agriculture the human resources required to work this modernised agriculture is not available. It is good we have schools all along but when it comes to farming people go in there by default because they cannot continue school, because they cannot find any other job and because the opportunities are just not there.

So they follow their brothers and fathers into the farm with the same old practices, with the same old tools and with the same old mentality. Mr. Speaker, we need to take a second look at agriculture. We need to establish in every community, in every district a school to train farmers, not a school for agriculture, a college but
Mr. David Oppong 11:20 a.m.

to train farmers, hands-on farming so that people who decide to go into farming will understand the soil, crops, the weather and everything that goes into agriculture.

Again, Mr. Speaker, talking about effectiveness and efficiency, our old ladies, and old men struggle to cultivate crops and sometimes they have to carry them for five, six, seven kilometres before they get to the roadside; so it takes them five-man hours to carry a bunch of plantain to the roadside. It makes agriculture very, very inefficient. We need, as part of this policy, to introduce some intermediate form of transportation to ease the drudgery of head portage. We cannot continue to pay lip-service to agriculture and then leave the human resource.

So Mr. Speaker, in supporting this motion, I will urge that all of us go back to our communities, find out how we can help in eradicating poverty, look at the bottlenecks and make suggestions to improve the document that we have in our hands.

With these, Mr. Speaker, I support the motion.

Mr. Eric Opoku (NDC -- Asunafo

South): Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for giving me the opportunity to contribute to the motion on the floor.

Mr. Speaker, it is indicated in the GPRS

II document that poverty is endemic in our rural areas and it is a fact that when you go to the rural areas, looking at the conditions in which our people find themselves, one will see that, yes, poverty has laid its hands on our people. My difficulty is that whilst we have been preaching and advocating poverty alleviation, some of the policies that we pursue tend to push the vulnerable

and poor into the most difficult situation where it would be very difficult for them to get out.

Mr. Speaker, let us look at water supply and electricity extension. When water is being sent to the rural areas, the rural community is made to pay part of the cost of the project, that is called counterpart funding. Meanwhile, these are the poor; they are already suffering, they are suffocating but they are paying for these facilities while their counterparts in the urban centres take some of these facilities free of charge. They are supplied without any cost; they are made to pay for what they have consumed and not for extension of those facilities to their areas.

Mr. Speaker, whenever electricity is being sent to a rural area it is captured under Self-Help Electrification Project (SHEP) and the community has a part to play; the community has to pay part of the cost. Why is it that the poor in the rural areas -- they have been producing the food, they have been producing cocoa which is driving the economy of this country yet in terms of the sharing of the national cake they are cheated? So it is about time that we reviewed some of these policies to make sure that the rich rather pays more to subsidize some of these facilities for the poor to enjoy.
Mr. S. K. B. Manu (NPP -- Ahafo Ano South) 11:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I also rise to add my voice to the motion on the floor and in doing so I want to thank the hon. Member who just made a contribution for re-echoing what I said here the last time about rural electrification and the SHEP programme.
Mr. Speaker, when we talk about poverty, everybody is singing the chorus -- “poverty is endemic in the rural area”. If this fact is known, what are we doing pragmatically -- pragmatically, I mean -- to eradicate this poverty from the rural areas?
Mr. Speaker, if you look at our development programmes, they are top- bottom in approach. They start from the urban centers and filter down to the rural areas. How many loans have we not contracted for Urban I, Urban II -- I think now we have Urban VI -- to develop our urban areas? I am not saying we do not have to develop that. I would be a crazy person to espouse that view. But when we are doing all these things, how many times have we taken loans to develop the rural areas?
The rural areas -- they are the people, as just mentioned, who are driving the economy. What do I mean by this? The cocoa farmers are there; the food producers are there; the vegetable producers are there. Ask, what roads do they use in their various communities? Look at the road network in our rural areas. I want to see a day when the development in this country -- The least talked about communication the better. I want to see a development programme that would turn what we are doing upside down and have a bottom- top approach development where more emphasis would be laid on the rural areas as in the days of Prime Minister Dr. Busia where the rural development programme was top on the agenda.

Today the situation has not changed much. I say there is a change but not much because now when you get to Wiawso, there is a tarred road to take you to Tepa but those days -- [Interruption.] Thanks to the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Government, though -- [Uproar.] In the past when you had walked the three miles you still had to travel on a bumpy road. A car came from Tepa once a day and if you missed that car that was it. Mr. Yaw Koeyie's car -- I remember the driver very well. [Laughter.]
Mr. Herod Cobbina 11:20 a.m.
On a point of order. Mr. Speaker, my hon. senior Colleague on the floor said “thanks to the NPP Government”. I remember things have changed. Recently when petroleum products were increased -- [Interrup- tion.]
Mr. Speaker 11:20 a.m.
What is your point of order?
Mr. Cobbina 11:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the statement was that petroleum price was being increased to develop the communities and the roads in the rural areas. That was what we heard on the air. If today these things are still there and my hon. Colleague is saying that “thanks to the NPP Government”, I think it is not in the right direction so he should withdraw that statement.
Mr. Speaker 11:20 a.m.
Hon. Member for Sefwi Akontombra, this is not a point of order.
Mr. Manu 11:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I see school children in the public gallery so maybe I
Mr. Manu 11:20 a.m.

have to clarify the point for them to go back and appreciate why they came here. Mr. Speaker, what I was saying was specific to my constituency, the life in the days when I attended secondary school and what the situation has been today under the NPP Government; and I am saying that there has been tremendous change in the road network in the constituency.
Mr. Speaker 11:30 a.m.
Hon. Member for
Amenfi West, do you have a point of order?
Mr. Arthur 11:30 a.m.
Yes, Mr. Speaker. I have
Mr. Speaker 11:30 a.m.
I want to find out your
point of order.
Mr. Arthur 11:30 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, my point
of order is that it was during the NDC Government era that his constituency was developed -- [Interruptions.] The roads were bad, schools were bad and water
and electricity were bad; he can testify to that. It was during the NDC era that the Sunyani road was constructed. It is now that the NPP Government is continuing the road network over there and the other areas that I have mentioned.
Mr. Speaker 11:30 a.m.
Hon. Member for Ahafo Ano South, you may be concluding.
Mr. Manu 11:30 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the Sunyani road is not a road in my constituency. It only passes through the district. When I talk about Ahafo Ano road -- and I know my people appreciate what I am saying -- it is the Beposo-Kunsu-Wiawso-Tepa road that they see as being Ahafo road and that road was constructed by the NPP Government. [Hear! Hear!] Mr. Speaker, he cannot claim to know that constituency more than I do. By what he has said, I can say that he knows next to nothing about the constituency -- [Hear! Hear!]
Mr. Speaker, during the days of the NDC Government, I could count Mankranso alone as the town that had electricity -- [Interruption] -- No, Tepa is not part of my constituency. It was only Mankranso, the district capital that had electricity. Now Mankranso has electricity, Kunso has electricity, Bunso has electricity, Abrewa has electricity, Nsuta has electricity, Enchi II has electricity, Sabronu has electricity -- [Interruptions.]
Mr. Speaker 11:30 a.m.
Order! Order! Hon.
Member for Ahafo Ano South, speak to the motion.
Mr. Manu 11:30 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, back to the
Mr. E. T. Mensah 11:30 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the
hon. Member has forgotten his political history. The NPP, when it was the Progress Party (PP) said that it was not possible to send electricity beyond Kumasi. The rural electrification programme was initiated by us -- [Interruptions.] He better get his facts straight. [Interruptions]-- The Brong Ahafo road was not built by them; they came to build on something which was started. If you look after a child who is 10 years old the child cannot be your child -- [Interruption.]
Mr. Speaker 11:30 a.m.
Order! Order! Let us
have decorum here. Hon. Member for Ahafo Ano south, please conclude.
Mr. Manu 11:30 a.m.
In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, I want to remind the hon. Member who just spoke that the Busia Regime started the teak plantations -- [Hear! Hear!] I hope he can contest that too. Mr. Speaker, it was a visionary Government that knew what it was going to do with the teak poles -- [Interrup-tion.]
Mr. Speaker 11:30 a.m.
Hon. Member for Ahafo Ano South, conclude by speaking to the motion, please.
Mr. Manu 11:30 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, what I am saying is that to eradicate poverty among Ghanaians, which is endemic in the rural areas where agriculture is their mainstay, then much attention should be turned to agriculture. Majority of our rural dwellers are illiterates and if we want to sell to them modern techniques of farming then it is the agricultural extension officers who can do this.
I want to encourage Government to train more extension officers and send them to the rural areas for them to live with the farmers and teach them modern ways of farming. That way we can boost production and then when they have enough to sell they will have money, and this will go to improve their way of life and
their living conditions; and then we shall be practically fighting poverty. I thank you and I support the motion.
Mr. John D. Mahama (NDC -- Bole/ Bamboi) 11:30 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I think that the arguments about who did what and all that are just like climbing up trees that are unnecessary. Mr. Speaker, every government that comes in inherits a certain stage of development. It contributes its quota and goes away and another government comes to contribute its quota. If we want to talk about who did which road in which constituency I think we will detract from the issue of the GPRS that we face presently.
Mr. Speaker, the GPRS is a com- mendable document but increasingly we appear to be using the GPRS as a replacement for a medium to long-term vision, which I think is most unfortunate.
Mr. Speaker, the Constitution enjoins the President to lay before this House a document that outlines his vision for the country. Mr. Speaker, in the past, the document that was laid before this House was the Vision 2020 document; and I remember that at that time, the then Minority Leader ridiculed that document and said that they were not bound by it because they did not believe in it and they were not part of its preparation. Mr. Speaker, he therefore said the document suffered from glaucoma in one eye, if I can quote him exactly, and cataract in the other.
Mr. Speaker, as soon as the NPP Government came into office, one of the first things they did was to abandon the Vision 2020 document. Mr. Speaker, since then no solid long to medium-term vision has been laid before this House. Any time we ask about the Vision 2020 document, we are told that the GPRS document is the vision.
But Mr. Speaker, this GPRS II
Mr. John D. Mahama (NDC -- Bole/ Bamboi) 11:40 a.m.

document is a four-year document, from 2006 to 2009. I think that the GPRS should fit into the framework of a long to medium-term document so that if we have, say, a ten-year vision, as where we want Ghana to be in the ten years, then we could compartmentalize two or four-year blocks and present a GPRS document that fits into that longer vision.

Mr. Speaker, as it is, this document does not tell us exactly where it wants us to be in a certain time-frame. Apart from using the issue of per capita income, saying that it wants to increase per capita income from four hundred and thirty four dollars as it was in 2004, to six hundred and eighty-six dollars in 2009 -- That is probably about the main target that we find.

Mr. Speaker, the problem with using per capita income is that the distribution of per capita income is not equitable and so if you use per capita income as your standard for measuring the progress and quality of life of people, you will be completely mistaken, because out of that $686 per capita that you will find in 2009, you will find that maybe 50 per cent of that per capita is probably controlled by the 20 per cent wealthiest people in this country. And so as an indicator of progress and quality of life, I think it is unreliable.

Mr. Speaker, GPRS I, that is the predecessor document to this present document set certain targets for maternal mortal i ty, infant mortal i ty, child malnutrition. Mr. Speaker, if you look at the Annual Progress Report that has been released over the period, you will find that a lot of these indicators have been worsening -- maternal mortality has worsened, child malnutrition has worsened, infant mortality has worsened. And just two weeks ago, we got the figure for 2005 for Eastern Region, and it showed a very worrying trend. It said that maternal

mortality had increased by 40 per cent over the preceding year.

Mr. Speaker, I think that the reason for implementing the GPRS is to reduce or eradicate poverty, and some of the key indicators for measuring poverty are maternal mortality, infant mortality and all these various social indicators. And so we must make sure that while approving this document the mode of implementation is such that it addresses these key indicators, and we should make sure that we are making visible progress in terms of the quality of life.

Mr. Speaker, it says that one of the thrusts of the GPRS II is to shift the policy focus from macro-economic stability to agricultural-led growth. Mr. Speaker, this is something we have said all the while. We have said that macro-economic stability is not an end in itself; it is the means to an end. So if you stabilize the macro-economic environment in the midst of poverty, you have not done anything.

Mr. Speaker, for the last five years, our Colleagues have trumpeted macro- economic stability, macro-economic stability, while the social indicators are worsening. And so it is good that we are shifting focus from just macro-economic stability to agricultural-led growth. But Mr. Speaker, I wonder if we can attain that modernization of agriculture that we seek to, because the way to go in agriculture is irrigation. The bulk of our agriculture is rain-fed and therefore the best way to go is to provide irrigation facilities to our farmers.
Mr. Speaker 11:40 a.m.
Deputy Minister for
Health, do you have a point of order?
Dr. (Mrs.) Ashitey 11:40 a.m.
On a point of order. My hon. Colleague is misleading this House. Maternal mortality in the Eastern Region being high, a reason was given. At that moment most of the doctors had an opportunity, which we are always looking for; that they should get the opportunity to go out for more programmes. So the gynaecology doctors in the Eastern Region were on further courses and that was why there was an increase in the mortality rate. But then -- [Interruptions.]
Mr. Speaker 11:40 a.m.
Order! Order!
Dr. (Mrs.) Ashitey 11:40 a.m.
But then, generally, the mortality rate in the whole nation is not high, as our hon. Friend on the other side is misleading the House. A reason was given; the doctors were all outside for programmes and since then they have all come back.
Mr. Speaker 11:40 a.m.
Please continue, hon. Member for Bole/Bamboi.
Mr. Mahama 11:40 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I did not give any indication as to why it was high. I said just two weeks ago the figures released from the Eastern Region indicated that the maternal mortality had gone up by 40 per cent over the preceding year. Mr. Speaker, that was all I said; whether the doctors had gone on course or whatever was not the issue. The issue was that maternal mortality had gone up.
But even leaving Eastern Region out of it, if you take the average maternal mortality for the whole country, as set out under GPRS I and the Annual Progress Report, maternal mortality has been worsening. So let us even leave Eastern Region aside. The average national maternal mortality rate has been
Mr. Mahama 11:50 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the point I was making about agriculture is that irrigation is the way to go and in most cases you will have to pump water. Mr. Speaker, petroleum prices are going up. There are three ways of pumping water -- either by petroleum, using fuel, that is diesel or petrol, or using electric power to pump water, or using solar power. Mr. Speaker, petroleum prices have been going up and it makes it uneconomical to use fuel as a source of fuelling irrigation equipment. Mr. Speaker, electricity prices are going up and so if you look at the cost of the water to the farmer you will find that it is uneconomical for them to use that water to produce the crops. And there are cases where farmers have been unable to pay for water that is pumped to them under irrigation schemes. Mr. Speaker, this is the case in Tono, and it is also the case in Dawhenya area.
So if we say we are going to modernize agriculture and we are not going to keep a tab on the factors that we need to be able to pump water, then I wonder what we are talking about when we say we are going to modernize agriculture; and I am happy to see that the Minister for Agriculture is here. If exception can be made such that the electricity that is provided specifically to irrigation projects or the fuel that is used by irrigation projects to pump water can be rated at a lower rate than the commercial electricity and fuel that are provided, I am sure that it would help to make water cheaper and would reduce the cost of production of our farmers.
Mr. Speaker, but certainly one of the main focuses -- and this is my concluding point -- of GPRS II should be the issue of decentralization. Our decentralization programme has gotten stuck and has never gone beyond the point of the District Assemblies Common Fund. With the

setting up of the District Assemblies and the election of the District Assemblies and ceding between 5 and 8 per cent of total national revenue to the Assemblies, we have not done anything else to try to advance decentralization.

Mr. Speaker, for simple registration of a company, if you want to register a company and you are in my constituency in Bole, you have to travel all the way to Accra. If you want to go into construction business and you need a certificate, you have to come all the way to the Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing or to the Ministry of Road Transport. Mr. Speaker, a nurse sits in Bole and her salary is paid from the Accountant-General's Department in Accra. Whether she is at post or not at post, there is a certain computerized pay-roll that keeps throwing her money into her bank account in Bole every month.

Mr. Speaker, if we are to be serious about reducing poverty, then we must bring government closer to the people; and the only way we can bring government closer to the people is to decentralize the Ministries, Departments and Agencies. As at now, the heads of MDAs who work in the districts mostly see their bosses in Accra as more important than the District Chief Executives.

A lot of the time, they will not take instructions from the District Chief Executive. District Directors of Health will take instructions from the Regional Director of Health or from the Minister for Health sitting in Accra; or even in agriculture, the district agricultural officers would value more the directives given by my hon. good Friend, the hon. Minister for Food and Agriculture, than the directives that are given by the District

Chief Executives.

Mr. Speaker, until we can decentralize our operations properly and bring government closer to the people, we will continue to talk about reducing poverty but we will not make much progress.
Minister for Environment and Science (Ms. Christine Churcher) 11:50 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I rise to contribute to the motion on the floor. The importance of the environment in any attempt to address poverty issues in our country is very crucial. But most often environmental issues are taken for granted or are even ignored.
M r. S p e a k e r , i n t h e G h a n a Poverty Reduction Strategy I (GPRS I), environmental issues were not properly addressed. Therefore, even the donor communities talked about the scant attention that we had given to environmental issues in the GPRS I. I am happy that in the GPRS II, there has been a strategic environmental assessment of the impact of the GPRS on the environment, through its implementation.
Mr. Speaker, for instance, we never dreamt of the impact that the implementation of the GPRS, for instance, could have on the forest, on water resources, on soil resources, on climate; but these are crucial in helping us to fight the poverty that we talk so much about.
Mr. Speaker, on the issue of the
impact of the GPRS implementation on the environment, the strategic environment assessment has assessed these and has really shown concern about soil degradation, destruction of forest areas, water resources, desertification, drought and then destruction of biological resources, that is biodiversity.
Mr. Speaker, let me place on record, for instance, that most of the time when we are talking about agriculture, when we are talking about feeding the people, when we are talking about fighting poverty, we do not even think about biodiversity. Mr. Speaker, the crucial role that pollination for instance, by natural means, plays in ensuring that we address these cannot be ignored.
For instance, we have pollination by animals, we have pollination by water, we have pollination by air and Mr. Speaker, any attempt to destroy these species would also mean, in effect, destroying the natural means of pollination. This is very important and that is why in the Ministry of Environment and Science, our main concern is that in the implementation of the GPRS, the environment would be as protected as it should be.
Mr. Speaker, also talking about that,
what is the use of GPRS if all our waters dwindled? What is the use of talking about renewable energy if all our trees should be cut arbitrarily without replacing them? Mr. Speaker, I have witnessed dwindling of waters and its impact on my own constituency where there was such water shortage and people had to rush for their children from schools -- there was outbreak of all kinds of diseases.
The point I am making this morning is that, any discussion on reducing poverty, without giving due regard to the role played by the environment, is an exercise in futility and would not guarantee the future of the children after us.
Mr. Speaker, talking about the role of my own Ministry in addressing poverty issues, with regard to GPRS, I also want to place on record the role played by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), for instance. Mr. Speaker, we realize that science and
technology are very crucial; they provide the wherewithal to be able to push and develop even agriculture. Mr. Speaker, the hon. Minister for Food and Agriculture who is here this morning, I know, would commend our Ministry and its agencies for the support they have been giving to the Ministry of Food and Agriculture.
For instance, in the President's Special Initiative (PSI) on Agriculture, for example cassava and palm oil, CSIR has been able to bring out high-yielding varieties of cassava, high-yielding varieties of cotton, high-yielding varieties of palm fruits. Mr. Speaker, what I am saying this morning is that, the GPRS II is an improvement on the GPRS I, insofar as the environment is concerned and the impact of the implementation on the environment is concerned; but it is my prayer that in all the development projects, the environment be so main-streamed.
Mr. Speaker, the environment is a very quiet mother. It pretends like when you destroy it, it does not hear; but when she gets up and rises there is flood, there are Tsunamis. Mr. Speaker, some people do not even know that if you engage in very good environmental practices, climate change and its effects are lessened on us. That is why this morning I am happy that the GPRS II, at least, attempts and makes an assessment of the implementation of the environment.
In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, when we are talking about poverty, rural poverty is focused on; and I agree. But poverty within the urban areas is suicidal, Mr. Speaker, when the people in the urban areas, for example Cape Coast, where the fishermen do not even have the wherewithal to be able to fish. Mr. Speaker, it might interest you to know that the fishermen cannot even acquire, cannot even buy the equipment for fishing.
Minister for Environment and Science (Ms. Christine Churcher) 11:50 a.m.

Mr. Speaker, the point I am making is that, poverty when being addressed, our focus should not only be on the rural areas. In the midst of plenty, there is also poverty. In the midst of urban development, there is also poverty. So our communities in the urban areas, especially Cape Coast, should be looked at in any situation or in any attempt to address poverty issues. This is so especially because of the historical importance of Cape Coast -- the fact that it was the first capital, the fact that Cape Coast was the first place ever to introduce soccer that we are talking about in this country; the fact that most of the schools are in Cape Coast and the fact that when Cape Coast sinks most of us would weep.
Mr. Lee Ocran (NDC -- Jomoro) noon
Mr. Speaker, I rise to also contribute to the motion on the floor.
The GPRS seeks to reduce poverty or to minimize poverty through increased growth in the economy. But as has been said earlier on, merely expanding the economy by registering high growth does not reduce poverty on its own. We live in a country where ten per cent of the population control over forty per cent of the wealth of the country; and we have forty-seven per cent of the people down the ladder there who control not more than ten per cent. In the middle, we have a small middle class and the only way we can reduce poverty in this country is to expand the middle class by trying to force the upward mobility of those down there, the working people; and this is what I do not see in the GPRS.
We talk about increasing growth in the economy to about six per cent this year; fair enough. But going round the country, one can really see that only a few people are benefiting and are even seeing the growth in the economy. Statistically, yes, it would be recorded but in the distribution it is not being done equitably at all. Ten
per cent of the population consuming forty per cent is abominable and we have to do something to expand the middle classes. It is the middle class who create jobs and employ people. The jobs may not be big but little employment here and there -- you employ ten, four, five people -- and you have a rippling effect over a large number of people.
Mr. Speaker, the hon. Minister for Environment and Science (Ms. Churcher) has just spoken about environmental degrada t ion , bu t env i ronmenta l degradation is a function of poverty. It is the poor people, Mr. Speaker, who cut wood for firewood; it is the poor people who cannot pay for proper disposal of waste; it is the poor people who build shanty towns. The rich do not build shanty towns, and the shanty towns create the environmental problems that lead to diseases that affect the people. So we have a cycle of poverty -- the poor creating environmental degradation, creating diseases which in turn affects the poor. So the poor are always stuck where they are; they never move up.
Therefore, Mr. Speaker, I want to appeal to those in charge of the GPRS to try to institute measures that would help our brothers and sisters who are down the ladder to move up, otherwise you may be recording ten per cent growth but that ten per cent would only be enjoyed by some few people, and that will not solve any problem of poverty.

Mr. Speaker, there are certain areas in the country where poverty is endemic. In fact, the last look of the GPRS shows that in places like Upper East and Upper West Regions, you have up to eighty per cent poverty levels, and that was why yesterday, I was very upset when the hon. Minister for Public Sector -- The

Ministries are so many, I do not know -- [Laughter] -- Public Sector Reforms; thank you. Is that how your Ministry is called?
Mr. Speaker noon
Please, go ahead.
Mr. Ocran noon
I am going ahead --
[Laughter] -- When he was distributing the Millennium Challenge Account, certain regions like the Upper East and Upper West were left out. If we are serious about eradicating poverty, then of course, we have to look at those areas that need assistance, offer them, let them move up and by so doing we shall remove poverty in our country.
Minister for Food and Agriculture (Mr. Ernest Akobuor Debrah) noon
Mr. Speaker, I would first want to congratulate the hon. Member of Parliament for Bole/ Bamboi, hon. John Mahama, for the advice that he gave us. He said that every government would always leave behind some developmental issues for succe- eding governments to continue. I think it is a very important point that hon. Members of this House should take note of, instead of tooting that my government did this, my government did that.
Especially, I want to appeal to my hon. Friends on my right who normally would start -- especially hon. Lee Ocran -- to quote Dr. Kwame Nkrumah as having done this and that. Every Government does some work and leaves something for another Government to continue; that is all that governance is about.
Secondly, I would also want to
commend hon. John Mahama for what he said about macro-economic stability. He accepted what has always been said in this House that the current Government has achieved macro-economic stability. He also said that macro-economic stability is not an end in itself but a means to an end. That is very true. But to achieve macro-
economic stability, Mr. Speaker, is a very difficult task. That is why I said on the floor of this House that as Ghanaians we must congratulate ourselves for the macro- economic stability that we have achieved in this country.
It was achieved with the support and sacrifice, one, of Ghanaians (all of us), two, hon. Members of Parliament for collaborating with Government to achieve the macro- economic stability; and third and most importantly, the Government for its boldness in trying to bring in certain measures that have led to the achievement of the macro- economic stability. Government should be commended for that. Not all governments can be bold enough to take certain decisions that can lead to macro-economic stability, especially considering where we were in the year 2000.
I would also want to say that hon.
John Mahama said that modernization of agriculture is the theme of the Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy (GPRS); and he said to achieve that, irrigation is key. And I would want to add that irrigation is not the only key factor to achieve modernization in agriculture. Irrigation is important, mechanization is important, good seed and good agronomic practices are also important in achieving modernization in agriculture. So we should not look at irrigation as the only source in modernizing agriculture. There are a combination of factors that come together to modernize agriculture. The key ones are irrigation, mechanization, research and development and changes in agronomic practices.
But coming back to irrigation, he said there are three ways of lifting water to irrigate. I want to add that that is not quite correct. There are four ways of doing that. He talked about electricity, about solar, about mechanical. But he forgot about the most important thing, wind power for lifting water which is what we are
Minister for Food and Agriculture (Mr. Ernest Akobuor Debrah) noon

exploring so much now to ensure that we go round the energy problem.

I also want to say that hon. John

Mahama talked about irrigation being so costly due to cost of electricity; it is not totally correct. Mr. Speaker, it depends upon the type of pumps we are using. That is why the policy of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture is not to use the big pumps that require transformers of their own, which require a premium to be paid as soon as you start the transformer to go to the spot irrigation systems that do not use more power and that do not require transformers.

So what we are pursuing right now is a modernized way of irrigation using smaller water pumps, using wind pumps; and we are still even looking at solar. So we would want to modernize agriculture as stated in the GPRS II by the policy of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, which is moving the nation forward.

Mr. Speaker, I also want to tell

people that well after macro-economic stability, you need growth; and one way of measuring growth is per capita income. Hon. John Mahama said that when it goes up it does not mean that it is effectively distributed; we do accept that. But that is a necessary measure of economic growth.

Again, Mr. Speaker, we shall be doing our nation a disservice if we look at a few indices and say that we are not growing -- like infant mortality. We better look at the whole stream of indices and see how much we have achieved. If there are twenty indices and you achieve eight out of ten, it means that you are moving forward. But if you quote the few indices showing areas that are lagging behind, to show whether you are growing or not, that may look a little bit deceptive.

He mentioned infant mortality rate but I thought he would also mention school

children of school-going age that are going to school as we move along. I thought he would also mention distribution, like the National Health Insurance Scheme that will enable more poor people get access to hospital facilities or to health facilities.

Mr. Speaker, having said that, I would want to say that we are moving from an era that things were quite gloomy to an era that things are now beginning to see light. We have stabilized the macro- economic situation in this country and we are currently looking at growth. We are currently looking at growth through modernizing agriculture; and I think with the support of all of us, we will be able to move this country forward.

I therefore support this motion and ask everybody in this House to support it, with regard to the Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy.
Minority Leader (Mr. A. S. K. Bagbin) 12:10 p.m.
Mr. Speaker, definitely, I support the motion on the floor and I agree with many of the points that have been articulated by my hon. Colleagues on the floor in support of the motion.
I totally endorse the view that when we are dealing with such national programmes, we need to move away from the injection of partisanship into the debate to focusing on the real issue in the document, such as seeing how best Parliament can improve upon what has been laid before us.
Mr. Speaker, it is for this reason that I support the Committee that Parliament should have been given enough opportunity to participate in the formulation and compilation of the GPRS II. This I believe would have improved upon what we have now.
But I am fully aware that the document is a living document and during the course of the four years, the inputs that Parliament has made would be recognized and incorporated into the document.
Mr. Speaker, we have just moved away from GPRS I to GPRS II. GPRS I was for a period of three years. We are told GPRS II is to take us for four years.

Mr. Speaker, the relevance of a national vision comes in. If the medium term is moving from three to four, what is the long term? Where are we going? We need to have a national vision. I am aware that even though my Colleagues in Government now disagree with a lot of the points in Vision 2020, nonetheless, a lot of the points in Vision 2020 have been captured in most of these documents that are before us today.

Again, there was an attempt at carving out Vision 2010; I realise that it fizzled out around 2003 and a document was outdoored but not laid in the House, called Vision 2012. That document was not laid in the House and the House was not given the opportunity to debate it.

Again, I am aware that the Millennium Development Goals that were couched from the Millennium Development Declaration of 2000 have given us some indicators as to where we should reach by the year 2015, and that seems to have prevailed on the minds of many actors in Government to be talking about Vision 2015. Actually, it is not a vision. I think we have to go back to the drawing board and come out with a national vision so that we can fit the GPRS into the national vision, even if we are to accept it as the medium-term development programme.

Mr. Speaker, people fail to recognise the efforts of others, but I believe strongly that all governments have done a lot. I know that in the early days after our

independence, our first President was visionary. I know in 1962 onwards, he had a difficulty in handling the political situation and definitely changed course and rather emphasised how to handle his opponents than focusing on developing the country. That is where we can trace some of the genesis of this bitterness in our political climate; I think we have to move away from it.

But it is important to recognise that by 1981-82, the GDP growth rate of this country had gone to minus seven. If we sank to minus seven and we have been able to move up to this stage, then we should applaud ourselves because some countries that have gone that far have not reached where we have reached. It is not as a result of the effort of one government, it is as a result of the efforts of various governments and various actors. We must accept that and we should not start talking about moving from a gloomy situation to seeing light; it is not the best language to use.

Mr. Speaker, I believe strongly that, yes, we have achieved some macro- economic stability; but at what cost? At what cost? At very serious social and economic cost.
Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 12:10 p.m.
Speaker, I basically agree with some issues being raised by my hon. Colleague,
Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 12:10 p.m.

the Minority Leader; but the issue that he raises about there being no policy on land is incorrect. He is aware that as we speak today, there is this Land Administration Reform Project that is ongoing. Mr. Speaker, he is aware that this is to greatly influence the administration of land in this country. So he cannot say that nothing is being done on land.
Mr. Bagbin 12:10 p.m.
Mr. Speaker, I think my
colleague just woke up from a word that he might have captured from my statement. What he just said, I never said. I never said that there was no policy on land; I am talking about emphasis and focus on the factors of production. And definitely, if you go through this document properly, you will see that the formulation of the land policy is still in process, it has not yet been completed.
Mr. Speaker, we realise that even though we have made capital a bit cheaper, the interest rate, even though one of the best, is still high. In some African countries, it has gone down to far below 10 per cent. In fact, inflation has gone down to about 3, 4 per cent in some African countries, for a long time. But Mr. Speaker, they have not been able to reduce poverty. Poverty even in those countries is higher than in Ghana, and that is why some of us keep emphasising that there must be a healthy balance in our focus on the implementation of policies to address all these factors of production.
I was not surprised His Excellency the President bemoaned the fact that a lot has been invested in the public sector reforms yet not much has been achieved; because there are other basic principles that we are ignoring that I think we have to look at.
As at now, the private sector is having difficulties not because of the legal
Mr. Bagbin 12:20 p.m.
How do we balance that? How do we make these inputs cheaper to industry, because we are all accepting that agriculture is our focus, agriculture is our saviour, agriculture is the area where we have competitive advantage, not just comparative advantage. And how do we support the agricultural sector? Definitely, the theories can come, yet when it gets to practice or implementation we falter. We have to sit down again and look at the drawing board.
Mr. Speaker, I just want to look at a few
issues. Some of the figures that are being used in our documents are so erroneous that they mislead us in the implementation of programmes. I find it difficult to accept that per capita income in Ghana was $434.00 in 2004; I do not know the basis for that calculation. If you look at the total production, if you look at it, we are around $8 billion and that is why if you look at that and you look at the population and you are doing a per capita income calculation, you will not get $434.00 in 2004.
In fact, the IMF and World Bank put it at $390.00, and my hon. Colleagues in Government are aware that that is the window that they open for us when we are accessing credit from these financial institutions. They are using the figure $390.00; how they came by the $434.00 is shrouded in mystery. I think that hon. Members can try to enlighten us on this.

Because, I am talking about a United Nations Report, containing the World

Bank message in 2005 -- the report in 2005. Again, Mr. Speaker, I want to emphasise this point that when we are talking about achieving a middle-income status or economy, we should as much as possible try to give all the indicators and not just the per capita income. Because if you achieve $1,000 per capita income, it does not necessarily mean that you have reached a middle-income status.

We know that our population growth is something that we have to look at. We know that the rate of savings is something that we have to look at seriously. As at now, savings is deteriorating and is moving away to about 10 per cent, 11 per cent which is still so low. We need to reach a savings rate of 25 per cent and that is far off from the indicator of a middle- income status.

We also need to emphasise Science and

Technology because you will need to be internationally competitive in a specific area in order to be termed a middle- income country. That is why countries like Botswana with about $3,000 per capita are not referred to as middle-income countries.

Mr. Speaker, I believe we should take

all on board but I believe that the 6 per cent growth rate is really too low. We will need to go far beyond that, we will need to go between 8 per cent and 10 per cent for some time, not 6 per cent. In fact, Tanzania has been going for about 7.2 per cent for over four/five years now but they have not reached anywhere; 7.2 per cent -- Tanzania.

Mr. Speaker, I believe that the earlier

programme that focused on the out-grower scheme is something that we should continue to emphasise. It is something that is more practical. It is something that I believe is more down to earth and

that is more supportive of farmers than the technical aspect that we have been hitting at.

Mr. Speaker, let me end by saying

that at the end of the day, and that is after 2009, I believe that the Government of the day will give ample opportunity to stake- holders to participate in the formulation of the next policy. I am not talking about consulting them; I am not talking about what is happening today -- getting validation from Parliament. I am talking about involving them in the formulation and packaging of the whole document for use by us.

I end, Mr. Speaker, by saying that as leaders, we must realize that if a baby says the mother will not sleep, the baby too does not sleep. Therefore, once we are the products of the people, once we are the leaders, if we say the poverty levels of the people will not be reduced, our poverty levels will also not be reduced. We will all stay there and behave like the crab. And that is why we should emphasize also on the social factors of equity, of sharing and not of accumulation, not of aggrandizing, not of gluttony that will not help anybody in this country.
Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 12:20 p.m.
Mr. Speaker, Sir, the Minister responsible is the Senior Minister but it was laid on his behalf by the Minister responsible for Public Sector Reforms. So if you may
Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 12:20 p.m.

indulge him to do the winding up.
Mr. Speaker 12:20 p.m.
Winding up? Yes, any
Member can wind up.
Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 12:20 p.m.
Yes, Mr. Speaker, he will do that but Mr. Speaker, with respect, the Minister responsible for Women and Children's Affairs wanted to take the angle of gender perspective just for some two minutes. [Interruptions.]
Mr. Speaker 12:20 p.m.
Very many Members who have already contributed to this debate have said more than enough so the Member may wind up.
Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom 12:30 p.m.
Mr. Speaker, it is good that many, many of our hon. Members that have made contributions to this particular motion and have supported it have indeed stressed the need to take a look at some of the difficulties that we have had in the past and also take a broad national view of development.
Mr. Speaker, that is precisely what the
Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy (GPRS) seeks to do. It is good that indeed this House chose, a few years ago, to have a committee to deal with the poverty reduction matter. It shows the commitment that this House itself is making to the implementation of the GPRS. But Mr. Speaker, it is also important to note some of the progress that we have made since the first poverty reduction strategy was put on the table in this House.
Mr. Speaker, what we have accomp-
lished as a nation is that we have managed to put together strategies that have earned us credibility within the country and also outside of the country.
Mr. Speaker, some have talked about, perhaps, the implementation of some
of our national development plans; and indeed the Ghana Vision 2020 was one such plan. And as we went ahead to prepare the GPRS I we took advantage of all of the national development plans that had been put on the table since independence -- all of them. And indeed, there are some consistencies in terms of the priorities, in terms of our aspirations and also in terms of what we wanted to accomplish as a nation from time to time.
But what was missing that has now
been firmly put in place has been the linkage between the priority set in our development plans, whether they are long- term or medium-term and government budget. This, Mr. Speaker, has been accomplished in a very, very strong way and has given us an opportunity to solve many of the fundamental problems that have been in the way of human development of growth and private sector development. And I will give you some examples:
First, we have been able to get the
development partners to agree on the multi-donor budget support programme, where they put all of their monies into the same pot and use it to back the Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy and its implementation.
Mr. Speake r, t ha t i s a good accomplishment for this nation and it is because of the linkage that has been accomplished between the plan and the budget, and has been demonstrated to many. Mr. Speaker, it is because of the progress that we have made on the GPRS that we have been able to accomplish some significant reduction in the domestic debt. It is also for the same reason, Mr. Speaker, that external debt relief of significance has been obtained.
Indeed it is because of the GPRS
that we have been able to get significant grants from the United Kingdom. The
Netherlands and from the Japanese.

And for those of us who travel to the Central Region and beyond, Mr. Speaker, it is worthy of note that the Japanese converted a loan to a grant to enable the reconstruction of the Kasoa to Yamoransa Road. It is part of the accomplishment that has come as a result of the good implementation of GPRS I.

Indeed, Mr. Speaker, it is the GPRS I and a subsequent GPRS II that has also given us the opportunity to maintain the macro-economic stability that we are enjoying to the extent that today the treasury bill rate has gone down to less than 10 per cent and it is helping and going to begin to help in a significant way to reduce the cost of money which has been a significant barrier in the way of private sector development.

Mr. Speaker, again, when we take a look at this GPRS II, many of the comments and the wishes that have been expressed here in this House today in the area of land reforms, venture capital acquisition in terms of identifying our people so that we can indeed do many things that we need to do in confidence -- Human development, all of these are stressed in GPRS I; and we are beginning to see with the Capitation Grant, with the acceleration of work in the education sector, the concentration in the social services. And I can say very, very proudly Mr. Speaker, that as a result of the GPRS now we can show an increase in the allocation of funds to the social sector of our economy.

Mr. Speaker, we should not forget the development that we are also seeing by way of handling gender matters, matters to do with women, matters to do with children and a shift in resources in the

way of women and children and also the sensitization that has come in this country where we are now very careful when we talk about matters to do with men, women and children. And I believe this GPRS II is going to continue with that sort of emphasis to ensure that there is equality and equal opportunity in the country.

In the area of governance -- [Interrup-
Mr. Haruna Iddrisu 12:30 p.m.
On a point of
order. Mr. Speaker, the comments that the hon. Minister for Public Sector Reforms has made in relation to women and gender is not wholly accurate. Mr. Speaker, with your indulgence, I will refer you to page 3 of GPRS II and he should be aware that a major weakness of GPRS I, which is captured by GPRS II, was its lack of focus on gender issues. So he should recognize that under GPRS I there was not the kind of issues that he was talking about. If he is saying that GPRS II will deal with it, that will be accurate. But in GPRS I a major witness was its inability to deal with the gender issue as rightly captured.
Dr. Nduom 12:30 p.m.
Mr. Speaker, I do not
know whether my hon. Friend here just wants to talk -- [Laughter.] If that is what he wants to do, that is up to him. But please he should not put words in my mouth. If he is going to listen, he should listen carefully because I am recognizing what GPRS I has done and I am also recognizing what we are going to do with GPRS II. Indeed, Mr. Speaker, we are here talking about GPRS II and that is what I was referring to -- my hon. younger Friend.
Mr. Speaker, in the area of governance the GPRS II seeks to strengthen what is important to all of us. Here we are as Parliament, looking for places to sit and do our work outside of the House; we are
Dr. Nduom 12:30 p.m.

looking for training; we are looking for assistance. The GPRS II recognizes that governance is an important item and that is where Parliament belongs.

The GPRS II recognizes that law and order, dealing with the courts, dealing with the police, the prisons and all of that are important items and it lays emphasis on those areas. It is recognized as one of the three important areas to be given resources, to be given attention, to be given priority so that we can see a continuance of our democratic dispen-sation.
Mr. Abuga Pele 12:30 p.m.
On a point of order. Mr. Speaker, I am afraid the hon. Minister is misleading this House. If we take the GPRS document, the part that deals with action, the metrics -- When you look at the metrics you will find that mention has been made of Parliament but under it what they are going to do to involve Parliament in the whole execution of the GPRS document, very little has been said. It has not even been mentioned that Parliament would be provided with resources. In fact, the items that are listed there are things that are extraneous to Parliament. So the hon. Minister should address himself to that lapse in the document.
Dr. Nduom 12:30 p.m.
Mr. Speaker, I will just ignore the comment; and I will tell him why. Mr. Speaker, there is this document. There are other documents that are available that support this and I would urge my hon. Colleague to take a look at all what is there. If he is saying that he has not seen it somewhere, fine, but he should not say that I am misleading the House.
Mr. Speaker, let us talk and talk
Mr. Bagbin 12:30 p.m.
On a point of order. Mr. Speaker, it is important that we get the debate well streamlined because we are debating a motion dealing with GPRS II. If there are other documents not mentioned by GPRS II or not contained in GPRS II, in his references he can draw our attention to them. We do not say he should not mention them but he should draw our attention to them so that we can also go and read to make sure that what he is saying is contained in the document.
Especially, when he is talking about Parliament, it is important that the wise saying that we preach a better sermon with our lives than with our lips be observed so that when we go to that document it is not just lip-service but the thing is actually there so that we are convinced together that those issues are being addressed. But so far as the GPRS II is concerned what he is saying is not there.
Mr. Speaker 12:30 p.m.
Hon. Minister, I am sure you are about to conclude.
Dr. Nduom 12:30 p.m.
Mr. Speaker, I was actually trying to conclude before the intervention. I am looking for the page that actually does talk about governance and strengthening Parliament because the hon. Member who spoke first talked about the metrics but he ought to have gone to page 61 of the document and read the references to Parliament and he would get to understand that the GPRS II seeks to strengthen Parliament in more ways than one. That was what I was referring to before. He referred to the metrics but he should go to page 61 and read.
Mr. Speaker, in conclusion, I was saying before that we are all interested in
growing our economy beyond the eight per cent rate because that is where poverty is going to be removed in a significant way; that is where human development is going to accelerate; that is where we would begin to get the resources to do many of the things that we need to do to have social harmony to be able to live with each other to have some prosperity that we are looking to happen in all corners of this country; and Mr. Speaker, that is what GPRS II seeks to do.
With that, I thank all hon. Colleagues who have made contributions to this very important document.
Question put and motion agreed to:
That this honourable House adopts the Report of the Committee on Poverty Reduction Strategy on the Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy (GPRS II) (2006 - 2009).
Mr. Speaker 12:30 p.m.
Hon. Members, we may have to go back to item 5.
PAPERS 12:40 p.m.

Mr. Speaker 12:40 p.m.
Hon. Members, we will come back again to item 5; in the meantime, can we take item 10.
Suspension of Standing Order 80 (1)
Vice-Chairman of the Committee (Mr. Kwadwo Agyei-Addo) (on behalf of the Chairman of the Committee): Mr. Speaker, I beg to move, that notwithstanding the provisions of Standing Order 80 (1) which require that no motion shall be debated until at least forty-eight hours have elapsed between the date on which notice of the motion is given and the date on which the motion is moved, the motion for the adoption of the Report of Finance Committee on the Request for Exemption on Corporate Tax in respect of the ORET Grant Component of the Sefwi Wiawso-Benkyema Junction Road Project may be moved today.
Mr. Haruna Iddrisu 12:40 p.m.
Mr. Speaker, I beg to second the motion.
Question put and motion agreed to.
Resolved accordingly. Exemption on Corporate Tax in
Respect of ORET Grant Component
Vice-Chairman of the Committee (Mr. Kwadwo Agyei-Addo)(on behalf of the Chairman of the Committee): Mr. Speaker, I beg to move, that this honourable House adopts the Report of the Finance Committee on the Request for Exemption on Corporate Tax in respect of the ORET Grant Component of the Sefwi Wiawso-Benkyema Junction Road Project.
Mr. Haruna Iddrisu 12:40 p.m.

Mr. Speaker, in so doing, I wish to present the Report of the Finance Committee.

1.0 Introduction

The Request for the Exemption on Corporate Tax in respect of the ORET Grant Component of the Sefwi Wiawso- Benkyema Junction Road Project was laid in the House on Tuesday, 14th March 2006 and referred to the Finance Committee for consideration and report in accordance with article 181 of the Constitution and Order 169 of the Standing Orders of the House.

The Committee in deliberating on the Request for the Exemption of taxes met with the Deputy Minister for Finance and Economic Planning, Prof. G. Y. Gyan- Baffour and officials from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning and reports as follows:

2.0 Background

The Sefwi Wiawso area is an agriculturally active area for the production of foodstuffs and cash crops, especially cocoa, which is the major export of the country.

Mr. Speaker, the House will recall that in 2004 Parliament approved by Resolution a Buyer Credit Facility Agreement between the Republic of Ghana and the Fortis Bank (Nederland) N.V. of The Netherlands for the Construction of Sefwi Wiawso- Benkyema Junction Road Project.

As part of the conditions for the Loan, the project is to be exempted from payment of all taxes and duties applicable in the country.

The House would recall that on
Dr. Benjamin Kunbuor 12:40 p.m.
Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. Mr. Speaker, there seems to be a legal problem with this particular thing and I would want to draw the attention of the House to it on the preliminary point on this matter and whether it can proceed as it stands now.
Mr. Speaker 12:40 p.m.
Hon. Member, this is a matter that I thought you should have raised with your Committee. If you have any problem, you should have taken it up with the Leaders of the House; you do not have to raise this matter here if you cannot resolve it - [Interruption.]
Dr. Kunbuor 12:40 p.m.
Mr. Speaker, what I am saying is that I am not a member of the Committee, but once I have to draw the attention of the House to the legal requirement in relation to this, I thought this is the appropriate time to raise it for your consideration and guidance.
Mr. Speaker 12:40 p.m.
Hon. Member, are you a member of this Committee?
Dr. Kunbuor 12:40 p.m.
No, I am not a member.
Mr. Speaker 12:40 p.m.
All right, let us take it later. There is a motion now that somebody has moved. Who is going to second it?
Dr. Kunbuor 12:40 p.m.
Mr. Speaker, it is because I do not want it to take the next processes -- if your guidance on this matter is clear, we should not even ask for the motion to be seconded, that is why I am raising the matter at this particular time.
Mr. Speaker 12:40 p.m.
But procedurally let us have somebody to second it and then if you have any other matter, you can raise it; because we cannot deal with it if is not seconded. Any seconder to the motion?
Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 12:40 p.m.
Mr. Speaker, I rise to second it. Mr. Speaker, as you rightly said, we must second it; and having seconded it, it becomes the property of this House and if the hon. Member has any issue then he can come to it.
Question proposed.
Dr. Benjamin Kunbuor (NDC - Lawra/Nandom) 12:40 p.m.
Mr. Speaker, the report is seeking to deal with an exemption to corporate tax in respect of the company in question and it is my respectful view that this House has not got the authority except by an amendment to Act 592 to exempt any tax entity from paying tax. What the Constitution talks about in article 174 is about waiver and variation and these are technical terms of the Act. Exemptions in Act 592 are statutory and the category of transactions and individuals that are exempted are in Act 592.
What we are seeking to do here or our
mandate under article 174 is a waiver or a variation. So should we want to exempt any tax entity from tax, we should come with an amendment to Act 592 and not come by way of a parliamentary resolution except it is a question of nomenclature. Perhaps, the Committee did not advert its mind to this but it should come as a variation or a waiver but not as an exemption which has been defined in Act 592 statutorily; and we cannot use a parliamentary resolution to actually effect an amendment to an Act of Parliament in terms of the hierarchy in terms of laws and regulations in this country.
Mr. Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 12:40 p.m.
Mr. Speaker, indeed, this matter has been occurring repeatedly in this House. I agree with the position by hon. Dr. Kunbuor that if we are to be very strict in the application, the interpretation of the word, then yes, we would be caught by Act 592, as he is saying. But indeed, this has been what we have been using throughout. And Mr. Speaker, it is a matter of nomenclature; instead of saying request for the exemption on corporate tax, we could have said request for a waiver on corporate tax and I believe we would be achieving the same purpose. Mr. Speaker, so I agree with him that what he has raised is germane except that this has been recurring very frequently and we have come to some form of agreement to accept this one.
So Mr. Speaker, I believe that we can withdraw the word”exemption” and in its place insert “waiver”; that settles the score.
rose rose
Mr. Speaker 12:40 p.m.
Hon. Member for Upper West Akim.
Dr. Kunbuor 12:40 p.m.
Mr. Speaker, this issue is - [Interruption.]
Mr. Speaker 12:40 p.m.
I have not called you yet.
Mr. Samuel Sallas-Mensah 12:40 p.m.
Speaker, I have yielded to him, please.
Dr. Kunbuor 12:40 p.m.
Mr. Speaker, this matter comes up because I have even come across double taxation agreement in this House that have been ratified under article 181 that deals with loan agreements and not article 175. It was particularly very embarrassing when this issue was drawn to my attention outside this country and that is why I think it is important that we do not just look at it as a matter of procedural error that we can cure but we should begin to improve on our adherence to legal rules as we move on. It could have been done but legally that is wrong. So I think the Committee should do the appropriate thing in terms of how to cure this legal defect.
Minority Leader (Mr. A. S. K. Bagbin) 12:50 p.m.
Mr. Speaker, I think the attention of the House is being drawn to the fact that corporate tax does not fall under the category of taxes that we can waive or vary in Parliament. If we look at the Loans Act, the references to when we are talking about all taxes is specific about value added tax, duties and tariffs that are mentioned but this is the first time that we are being confronted with corporate tax. The rest we have been valuing and exempting are other taxes and not corporate tax.
A corporate tax is what a company that is registered and doing business in Ghana is to pay from its earnings; it is not something that we in this House can vary, exempt or waive; it is not covered by the Loans Act. That is the issue that has been raised. And so far as this company is concerned, we have actually waived the
taxes that we are entitled to do. But they are bringing a second one called corporate tax and they are asking us to move beyond the normal taxes that we can vary to now add corporate tax and by law this House cannot do that.

If you read article 174, the Loans Act, it is difficult for us to assume that jurisdiction and power of varying corporate tax. I think this is a company that we all know and we want to do the work, it is a company that we have encouraged already by varying the other taxes, but it is registered, it will be earning profits and that we are entitled to corporate tax from the company. I do not think that we can go the extra length that is not permitted by law for us to do, to vary or exempt or waive corporate tax for this company. That is the difficulty, Mr. Speaker, and I think that the objection should be sustained and that they be advised to do the right thing.
Mr. Speaker 12:50 p.m.
Well, I would want to hear from the members of the Committee who presented this Report.
Mr. Sallas Mensah 12:50 p.m.
Mr. Speaker, I am a member of the Committee but unfortunately that day I had some other business somewhere, so I could not attend the committee meeting. It was just when I got this report and I started going through it that I saw the anomaly, which I drew my hon. Leader's attention to.
Mr. Speaker, as has been said already, we had never -- and I will repeat never -- exempted any corporate body in this House from paying corporate tax. What we have done is to exempt the expatriates' income tax that they should have been paying by working on that particular project for income tax purposes and for the expatriate personnel who are employed by
Mr. Sallas Mensah 12:50 p.m.

the contracting company; that is what we have done. I am sure that this exemption they are asking for is for the expatriates' income tax and not the corporate tax.
Mr. Agyei-Addo 12:50 p.m.
Mr. Speaker, I believe what was referred to us on the 14th of March was a request for exemption from these taxes. If we look at the Agreement itself that was approved some time in 2004 -- and I would want to quote with your permission, article 713 of the Loan Agreement which provides that:
“It is hereby agreed that all taxes, import duties and other levies of Ghana related to activities financed by the grant and the loan will be borne in full by the relevant authorities of Ghana and shall under no circumstance be disbursed out of the grant and/or loan.”
At the committee meeting, this issue to do with whether Parliament as a body has the authority to waive corporate tax did not really come up. We were under the impression that once the loan itself has been approved in totality as regard all the provisions, it was a matter of course that that aspects of the corporate tax should as well be exempted.
Additionally, even there is a provision for the wages and allowances paid to expatriate personnel employed by the implementing company, that is, Interbeton to be exempted as well from all taxes payable in Ghana. So we thought it was normal for us to recommend the approval of the request.
Mr. Speaker 12:50 p.m.
Hon. Members, I would suggest that we stand this down for further investigations and go on with non- controversial matters, for the time being. May we take item 13 -- Chairman of the Committee on Finance?
Suspension of Standing Order 80 (1)
Mr. Agyei-Addo (on behalf of the
Chairman of Committee) 12:50 p.m.
Mr. Speaker, I beg to move, that notwithstanding the provisions of Standing Order 80 (1) which require that no motion shall be debated until at least forty-eight hours have elapsed between the date on which notice of the motion is given and the date on which the motion is moved, the motion for the adoption of the Report of the Finance Committee on the Loan Agreement between the Government of Ghana and Kredistanstalt fur Wiederau-fbau (KfW) for an amount of E4,000,-000.00 for District Towns V Project in six districts in Brong Ahafo, Ashanti and Eastern Regions may be moved today.
Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 12:50 p.m.
Mr. Speaker, I second the motion.
Question put and motion agreed to.
Resolved accordingly.
Loan Agreement between the Government of Ghana and
Kredistanstalt fur Wiederaufbau (KfW)
Mr. Agyei-Addo (on behalf of the
Chairman of the Committee) 12:50 p.m.
Mr. Speaker, I beg to move, that this honourable House adopts the Report of the Finance Committee on the Loan Agreement between the Government of Ghana and Kredistanstalt fur Wieder-aufbau (KfW) for an amount of E4,000,000.00 for District Towns V Project in six districts in Brong Ahafo, Ashanti and Eastern Regions.
Mr. Speaker, in so doing I would want to present the report of the Finance Committee.
1.0 Introduction
The above Loan Agreement was laid in the House on Thursday, 16th March 2006, in accordance with article 181 of the Constitution and the Standing Orders of the House and referred to the Finance Committee for consideration and report.
To deliberate on the above agreement, the Committee met with the Deputy Minister for Finance and Economic Planning, Prof. G.. Y. Gyan-Baffour, and the technical team from Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning and the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development and reports as follows:
2.0 Background
This is the fifth in the series of Promotion of District Capitals Projects (PRODICAP) aimed at developing infrastructure in various districts.
In 1996, the German Government supported the PRODICAP I Project with DM21.2 million, disbursed through two German Agencies -- (KfW, DM 17.0 million, and GTZ, DM 4.2 million. The DM 17.0 million, disbursed through KfW was initially a loan, but was converted into a grant). Under Promotion of District Capital I, a market and lorry park was constructed at Atebubu and piped water supply systems and household sanitation facilities were constructed for Nkoranza, Atebubu, Ejura and Kintampo towns. A series of training programmes were also conducted for officers, assembly members, local NGOs/CBOs and community leaders to operate and manage the facilities in an efficient and sustainable manner.
PRODICAP II covered ten districts (now 12) in the Brong Ahafo and Ashanti Regions on a demand-driven basis with the construction of markets and lorry parks in beneficiary districts with population of 5,000 and above.
The PRODICAP III like PRODICAP II was also on a demand-driven basis in the same ten districts but the intervention was however widened to include social infrastructure like schools, clinics, limited extension to water schemes and artisan areas among others.
District Towns IV Project is also being implemented along the same lines as District Towns III in nine (9) districts, in Ashanti Region. Based on the demands put up by the districts, the project constructs markets, lorry parks, schools, clinics, artisan areas and limited extension to existing water supply schemes.
Appropriate and sustainable mana- gement systems are also put in place for the infrastructure thus constructed. However unlike the preceding phases of the project, more implementation responsibility will be developed to the beneficiary districts of the project.
3.0 Objectives
The main objectives of the District Towns V Project are to continue the infrastructure development and capacity building initiatives to:
Improve upon selected physical infrastructure facilities in the beneficiary districts;
Improve upon the capacity of the beneficiary District Assemblies to plan and implement plans for projects and operate and maintain infrastructure service.
3.1 Coverage
The project will be implemented in six (6) districts in Brong Ahafo, Ashanti and Eastern Regions. The six districts will be selected on the basis of a set of criteria
Chairman of the Committee) 12:50 p.m.

to be determined in the course of project implementation.

3.2 Components

The physical infrastructure facilities eligible for support under the project should be in the District Development Plan and slated for implementation. They include markets, lorry parks and related infrastructure facilities, schools, health infrastructure, sanitation infrastructure, artisan areas and limited extensions to existing water supply schemes.

3.3 Financing Plan

The total project cost is Euro 4.319 million including Communities and District Assemblies' contributions equivalent to approximately Euro 0.319 million. The Project cost is to be funded as follows:

i. 90 per cent of cost physical infrastructure

Projects -- (KfW loan) -- Euro 2.870 million

ii. Foreign and local consultancy services -- (KfW laon)

-- Euro 0.740 million

iii. 10 per cent of cost of physical infrastructure

Projects -- (communities and District Assemblies)

-- Euro 0.319 million

iv. Contingencies -- Euro 0.390 million

Total -- Euro 4.319 million

4.0 Terms and Conditions of the Loan

Loan Amount

-- €4,000,000.00

Interest Rate -- 0.75 per cent

Commitment Charge -- 0.25 per cent

Repayment Period -- 30 years

Grace Period -- 10 years

Grant Element -- 70.12 per cent

Duration -- The project is scheduled to

com- mence in January 2006 for a period of three (3) years up to December 2008. 5.0 Observations

The Committee was informed that the project is aimed at developing the infrastructure and capacity building initiatives of six (6) districts towns in Brong Ahafo, Ashanti and Eastern Regions.

The Committee noted that like the other PRODICAP projects which has really helped in developing areas through the construction of the market and lorry parks, schools, clinics, etc., the Project V is targeted at strengthening the infrastructure development of the districts to be selected.

The Committee was informed that the six (6) districts to benefit from the project will be selected based on a set of criteria developed by the Project Co-ordination Office and approved by Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD).
Chairman of the Committee) 12:50 p.m.

The technical team informed the Committee that like the preceding phases, the project implementation is designed to adopt a demand-driven and participatory approach. The facility to be financed is first articulated by the beneficiary community. The relevant district will prioritize, plan and design the projects and afterwards apply for the fund from the Loan Fund on a competitive basis to finance the project.

The Committee was informed that the Government's obligation under the project covers the provision of staff and regular budgetary allocations through MLGRD and beneficiary District Assemblies. Furthermore these District Assemblies together with communities are to contribute 10 per cent of the cost of physical infrastructure works.

The Committee noted that on the article 5 of the Agreement the Loan shall be exempted from the payment of any deductions from taxes, other public charges or other cost. The Agreement further states that any taxes and other public charges accruing outside Germany

would be paid without any connection with the disbursement of the Loan.


After careful consideration, the Committee concludes that the House approve by Resolution the credit facility Agreement in the amount of four million Euro (€4,000,000.00) between the Government of Ghana and Kredisanstalt fur Wiederaufbau, Frankfurt au Main (KFW) for implementation of the District Towns V Project in accordance with the provisions of article 181 of the 1992 Constitution and sections 3 and 7 of the Loans Act, 1970 (Act 335).

Respectfully submitted.
Mr. Samuel Sallas-Mensah (NDC -- Upper West Akim) 12:50 p.m.
Mr. Speaker, I rise to second the motion on the floor. Mr. Speaker, in doing so I would say that this is a soft facility, a concessionary in that nature, looking at the terms and conditions of the loan. The repayment period is 30 years -- 10 years' grace period and it is going to the various districts as one of the measures for poverty alleviation in those regions and districts.
benefit and the compelling reasons why those districts were selected.
Mr. Speaker, on that short note, I support the motion.
Question put and motion agreed to.
Mr. Speaker 12:50 p.m.
Item 15 -- Resolutions, Chairman of the Committee?
Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 1 p.m.
Mr. Speaker, I want to seek your indulgence for the Minister responsible for Water Resources, Works and Housing to move the Resolution numbered 15, and captured on page 7 of today's Order Paper on behalf of the Minister for Finance and Economic Planning.
Mr. Speaker 1 p.m.
Yes, Minister for Water Resources, Works and Housing.


H E R E B Y R E S O LV E S A S 1 p.m.

Mr. Agyei-Addo 1 p.m.
Mr. Speaker, I second the motion.
Question put and motion agreed to.
Resolved accordingly.
Mr. Speaker 1 p.m.
Hon. Members, may we take item 5 (a).
PAPERS 1 p.m.

Mr. Dominic A. Azumah (NDC -- Garu/Tempane) 1 p.m.
Mr. Speaker, I also rise to support the motion. Mr. Speaker, I think this facility definitely will go a long way in transforming the districts to be selected at a later date. Mr. Speaker, my difficulty is that, in this report it is proposed that the districts will be selected at a later date with conditions and formalities to be adopted during the implementation. We have passed a few of these loans to support districts Phases III and IV and we are now on the fifth.
Normally, the Ministry would make available the names of the districts which had been selected, reasons or criteria they used in selecting those districts for the House to make an informed decision about it. However, in this situation they have rather said that the districts should be selected from the three regions using certain criteria. I think that is a bit of a difficulty for this House to accept so I will plead that a subsequent request be made for Districts Phase VI to include all the names of the districts that are going to
Mr. Dominic A. Azumah (NDC -- Garu/Tempane) 1 p.m.

and Forestry on the Annual Reports of the Office of the Administrator of Stool Lands for 1999 and 2000.
Mr. Speaker 1 p.m.
Hon. Members, we shall have an extended Sitting. Hon. Majority Chief Whip, do you have any Papers to be laid?
Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 1 p.m.
Mr. Speaker, the advertised ones are not ready yet so if I may move for the suspension of the Sitting for the time being until the Papers are ready.
Mr. Speaker 4:15 p.m.
Hon. Members, we may have to suspend Sitting and then come back at perhaps 3 o'clock. Thank you very much indeed for your assistance.
The Sitting was suspended at 1.04 p.m.

Sitting resumed.
Mr. Speaker 4:15 p.m.
Deputy Majority Leader, do you have any further business for today?
Mr. A. O. Aidooh 4:15 p.m.
Mr. Speaker, my information is that the reports are not ready and so we may have to rise and come back sometime in March to continue with those things.
Mr. Speaker 4:15 p.m.
Deputy Majority Leader, what I know is that we are rising today but before we do so, maybe, I will call upon the Minority Leader --[Interruption.] All right, we will wait for him. [Pause.]
Dr. Benjamin Kunbuor 4:15 p.m.
Mr. Speaker, in the absence of anything going on, I just want to seek your guidance about the particular status of the House as at now
and under what Order we are operating -- [Hear! Hear!] Because the House is not suspended, the House is not Sitting, so we might consider providing for such a situation of abeyance in future in our Standing Orders. [Laughter.]
Mr. Speaker 4:15 p.m.
Hon. Member for Lawra-Nandom, I do not think you require any ruling from me at this stage. Minority Leader, as we have come to the end of our Meeting, I will invite you to make your closing remarks.

Minority Leader (Mr. A. S. K. Bagbin) 4:25 p.m.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Let me just apologize for rushing in late. I was caught up in my office trying to get a few things in order before we go on recess.
Mr. Speaker, I think that it is appropriate for us, once again, to render our sincere gratitude to the Almighty God for his mercies and blessings that made it possible for us to come to a peaceful end of this Meeting.
Mr. Speaker, I think during the course of the Meeting, there were a number of events that took place, the notable one being the fact that we on this side of the House had to boycott the proceedings of Parliament for almost fifteen days. This definitely was in protest against the Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill (ROPAB) which we believed was not timely and that as a country, we needed to put a number of things in place before we enacted such a legislation. We also had the impression that our rights were being disregarded and that was what led us to the boycott.
Mr. Speaker, whatever the situation, I believe strongly that democracy is taking root in Ghana and that as a people, we are committed to making sure that, as you stated at the commissioning of the
Enhanced Strategic Plan, Parliament is not only strengthened but also entrenched. I believe that some of these disagreements underscore the relevance and crucial role of multiparty democracy.
As I keep on saying, the basic principle is that we agree to disagree. I therefore plead with our Brothers and Sisters who have always been working very hard with us in this House, I mean the Parliamentary Press Corps, to as much as possible send to the people outside this House that there is a very good rapport between Members of the House, from both sides of the political divide.

I believe strongly, Mr. Speaker, that if His Excellency the President had also exercised a bit of patience and just listened to the civil society organizations that we were consulting, that could have also have in one way or the other reduced some of the disagreements, tensions and temperature in the political arena.

I also want to urge that in spite of the fact that the Bill bas been assented to by His Excellency the President, there is still room, there is still some opportunity for us to dialogue to consult each other, to see how we can reach a consensus on how we could improve the electoral environment to enhance and encourage the democratic culture that we are all struggling to build.

Mr. Speaker, this morning and I think throughout the day, it was refreshing

that Members of both sides of the House started emphasizing the urgent need for us in this House to conduct debates along non-partisan lines. I think that that was a good message that we should capture and send to the body politic -- that when we are confronted with national programmes, we should try as much as possible to eliminate the injection of partisanship into the debate.

I agree that if the partisanship is about the differences in political philosophy, one should encourage it. But if the partisanship is about the fact that one Government or one party in Government is not doing anything or has not done anything, it is something that definitely unnerves people and heightens tension and sometimes dilutes the debate on the floor.

I believe it is better for us to work towards consensus on all national issues and that there are a lot of things that unite us than divide us. It is my hope, and I believe the hope of the Majority, that we would take a lot of time to negotiate, to consult, to dialogue and build consensus in the House.

The qualities of our candidate, the experience of our candidate and the love that the people of Tamale have for him have assured us that we are getting a fitting replacement to Professor Wayo Seini and I think that we are gladdened by that. I do not want to think that our Colleagues in the Majority are in one way or the other
Minority Leader (Mr. A. S. K. Bagbin) 4:35 p.m.

intimidated by that, but it is a good sign that they have decided to opt out of the contest and -- [Interruptions.] I say it is a good sign that my hon. Friends want to opt out. I think that should be commended for recognizing this good and kind gesture of the Majority Party.

Mr. Speaker, we had the opportunity to also do a by-election at Odododiodioo and I think that followed the Asawase by-election. Now we are at Tamale Central. Again, democracy in Ghana has been the winner of all these by-elections and our colleague Brothers and Sisters in other African countries are taking a cue from what we are doing in Ghana. It is encouraging that at least we have kind words as to the kind of democratic dispensation that we in Ghana are giving to the people of Africa.

Mr. Speaker, at this stage, on behalf of the Minority and on my own behalf, I want to express our sincerest appreciation to you -- [Interruptions.] Mr. Speaker, definitely I acknowledge and I appreciate the concerns of the House. I am aware that this House has taken a decision on the matter and I do not want to get into that area because one can only do that by a substantive motion. That is why I was not encouraged to talk about the Nkoranza seat. We are, as a people, setting precedents and I hope, I pray and I urge all to let us set good precedents. This is a matter concerning our colleague hon. Members of Parliament and therefore we have to be more receptive to our collective concerns as an institution, as a group of people, as a profession.

We cannot challenge the decision taken by our Colleagues. I was myself absent but I am bound by that decision because that is the decision of the House.

So Mr. Speaker, I think my Colleagues

would permit me to thank you sincerely for the way you steered the affairs of the House. I know we have had very difficult times but that is the nature of the job and there is no way one can run away from it. It is important for us to emphasise that the Speaker of the House is never a neutral person. The Speaker of the House is an impartial person.

There is a marked difference between neutrality and impartiality and the Speaker is as much as possible to be an umpire. The Speaker himself has positions and I believe strongly that he tries as much as possible not to let those positions influence his decisions. That is why they say he is an impartial -- I am told -- umpire, not a neutral umpire.

Mr. Speaker, I think that we need to also thank the media. Our brothers and sisters have continued to perform excellently in this House and we have had little cause to disagree with them. It is not easy not to be on the floor of the House but capture what pertains on the floor especially as the acoustics that we use here are not in the best shape. So sometimes we understand why our brothers and sisters in the media might not fully capture the import of some submissions, but they have performed, in my humble view, excellently and I think that we need to applaud their efforts.

We just commissioned a product, a collaboration between Members, the Parliamentary Staff and our Development Partners. I am talking about the Enhanced Strategic Plan for Parliament. In fact, when I raised an objection here, when hon. Dr. Nduom was on the floor, I thought he was going to draw our attention to that document.

I think that we have to commend that document to all of you so that you read through and see where we are going in the next three years, so that by the end of 2009 which is four years, we would all be clear

in our minds as to where we would be. And therefore when it is time for budgeting, we will expect all Members to be focused on that document and make sure that we get the Executive to agree with us to release moneys for us to implement that programme.

One of our development partners drew my attention to the fact that they will be prepared to give the money. What about us? Are we prepared to supplement it? That is why I am recommending the document to all hon. Members.

I also have to express our appreciation to the Staff, I mean the Parliamentary Service staff for the invaluable service that they have been rendering to all of us including Parliament as an institution. I hope that with this Strategic Plan, the facilities and logistics of Parliament would be enhanced and improved so that at the end of the day, the pain, the torture, the suffering of the Parliamentary Service staff would be reduced.

Deputy Majority Leader (Mr. A. O. Aidooh): Mr. Speaker, this Meeting marked the beginning of the Second Session of the Fourth Parliament of the Fourth Republic and we should pride ourselves that despite different shades of opinion that we may have, Ghana's democracy as has been said is growing from strength to strength.

Mr. Speaker, this House began with the Parliamentary Week celebration and soon after that one most significant event was

the visit of His Excellency the President, John Agyekum Kufuor to the House on the 31st of January, 2006 to give the State of the Nation Address. Mr. Speaker, the State of Nation Address was debated at length and Members thanked the President for such a very loaded and visionary Address which placed the people at the heart of the nation's developmental agenda.

In his Address, the President touched on human resource development, employment generation, private sector development and the African Peer Review Mechanism. Under human resource development, the President's theme was investing in people, investing in jobs. He intimated that the educational reform policy, the implementation of which has already started, emphasises vocational, technical and agricultural education and training. The Government's policy of employment generation is to include skills and entrepreneurship training and development, establishment of new small and medium enterprises, financial and technical support for the start-up and expansion of business.

Mr. Speaker, permit me to thank hon.

The boycott of the Minority commenced from the 9th of February and ended on the 1st of March, 2006. The Minority only resumed Sittings in the Chamber on the 2nd of March, 2006, some days after the passage of the Repre-sentation of the People (Amendment) Bill -- (ROPAB) -- which was passed into law on the 23rd of February, 2006. Mr. Speaker, I want to assure Members that the Bill which is
Minority Leader (Mr. A. S. K. Bagbin) 4:45 p.m.

now a law is for the benefit of all of us and we are going to ensure that the genuine fears expressed by various groups will be addressed.

But Mr. Speaker, let me add that that notwithstanding, we on this side will not surrender our neighbouring nation's, la Cote d'voire's interest to that of the Minority where we cannot have consensus.

Summary of Government Business

Mr. Speaker, permit me to now present to the House a summary of the business that we have transacted during this First Meeting.


A total of 83 Parliamentary Questions for Oral and Written Answers were asked of and answered in the House by Ministers of State who attended upon this House during the Meeting. Questions asked related in the main to road construction/ rehabilitation and the provision of potable water, electricity, schools and health facilities in specific communities in the country and, of particular significance, what progress the Minister for Energy was making in oil exploration in Ghana and what prospects there were for the country.

Papers Laid

A total of sixty-one (61) Papers were laid including Bills, Constitutional Instruments, Loan Agreements and Committee Reports:

i. Bills -- 8

ii. Constitutional Instrument(s) -- 1

iii. Legislative Instruments -- 4

iv. International/Loan/ Credit Agreements -- 12

v. Reports -- 36


-- 61


Eight (8) Bills in all were passed during this Meeting out of eleven that were laid. The Bills that were passed included Value Added Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2006, Customs and Excise (Duties and Other Taxes) (Amendment) Bill, The National Reconstruction Levy (Amendment) Bill and the Representation of the People Amendment Bill. The latter generated a lot of controversial debates but at the end of it all, it was successfully passed.

Constitutional Instrument(s)

One (1) Constitutional Instrument, the Court (Award of Interest and Post Judgment Interest) Rules, 2005 (C.I. 52) was passed.

Legislative Instruments

Four (4) Legislative Instruments were brought and passed in the House. They were Civil Aviation Regulation, 2005 (L.I. 1818); Internal Revenue (Amendment) Regulations, 2006 (L.I. 1819), Income Tax Rates (Amendment) Regulations, 2006 (L.I. 1820) and Internal Revenue (Amendment) Regulations, 2006 (L.I.


International Loan/ Credit Agreements

Twelve (12) International Loan/ Credit Agreements were brought before the House out of which eight (8) were approved. Among those approved include the request for the exemption on the

income and corporate taxes in respect of the Kwanyaku Drinking Water Plant Rehabilitation and Expansion Works in the Central Region and Sale and Purchase Agreement between the Government of Ghana and VDL Bus International B.V. of The Netherlands for an amount of twenty-three million, one hundred and fifty thousand euros (€ 23,150,000.00) for the supply of one hundred and fifty (150) Inter-City/City Commuter buses for the Metro Mass Transit Limited (MMT).

One (1) Loan Agreement between the Government of Ghana and Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) for an amount of US$15 million (cedi equivalent) for the financing of Government's equity shares in Ghana International Airlines Limited was withdrawn but later brought back and approved.


The House considered a total of thirty- six (36) Committee Reports. Notable among them were the Reports of the Finance Committee, the Public Accounts Committee, the Appointments Committee and, of course, the Legal, Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs Committee, among others.


Mr. Speaker, sixty-one (61) motions have been approved and Members need to be congratulated.


The House passed fourteen (14) Resolutions during the Meeting.

Committee Sittings

A total of seventy-six (76) Committee

sittings were held during the period.

Formal Communication to the House

The House received a total of four (4) Messages which were:

From the Office of the President

The House had the pleasure of receiving two (2) messages from His Excellency, the President, one (1) on his travel outside the country and the other on the nomination for approval of two (2) Supreme Court Judges.

From the Office of Parliament
Mr. Speaker 4:45 p.m.
Mr. A. O Aidooh 4:45 p.m.
Petitions --
The House was served with a petition from a group of Ghanaians describing themselves as “Concerned Citizens” in respect of the ROPAB. It is significant to observe that the presenters of the petition included a Member of Parliament, in fact, a member of the expanded leadership of the NDC who after boycotting Parliament on the very issue, came to Parliament to present to the Leadership of Parliament with his right hand and helped the First Deputy Speaker to receive the petition with his left hand on behalf of Parliament.
It is worth observing that after some hon. Members of Parliament had boycotted Parliament on an issue, they still found it necessary to come back to Parliament
Mr. A. O Aidooh 4:45 p.m.

to present their petition to Parliament -- A recognition that debate on the issue certainly resides in Parliament and not on the streets and pavements. After all the noise-making and dancing in the streets which almost degenerated into something else, we must still sit and talk. That is the best option.

Service of Writ, Letter and Referral to Privileges Committee

This Meeting has also witnessed the service of a writ on the Clerk to Parliament while he was attending to Parliament. Subsequently, there was a letter written to the Rt. Hon. Speaker and copied to the Attorney-General which was perceived to contain a veiled threat to Mr. Speaker in the performance of his duties. That letter was referred to the Privileges Committee which is yet to report to the House on its findings, observations and recommendations. It is our cherished hope that the proper thing will be done in order to lay this matter to rest.


The House had the pleasure of receiving a number of delegations. These included:

i. 2 CPA Regional Secretariat officials

ii. Swedish Parliamentarians

iii. Liberian law-makers; and

iv. Senate Committee on State and Local Government Adminis- tration from the National Assembly of Nigeria.


By the indulgence of Mr. Speaker, thirty-two (32) Statements on matters of public interest were made. These are

categorized as Ceremonial and Non- Ceremonial Statements.

i. Ceremonial

Four (4) Ceremonial Statements were made in the House. Among them are the Statements which marked the International Women's Day that fell on the 8th of March and the Commonwealth Day which was on the 13th March, 2006.

ii. Non-Ceremonial

Twenty-nine (29) Non-ceremonial Statements which were made in the House include tributes to former Members of Parliament and other distinguished personalities which this country has had the fortune of being blessed with. Personal Statement

There was also one Personal Statement from an NDC Member, that is the former member for Tamale Central, hon. Prof. Wayo Seini. This Personal Statement related rather regrettably to the unfortunate resignation from the House of one of its most respected Members.

Mr. Speaker, only yesterday, we passed the National Identification Bill into law and established the Millennium Challenge Authority. Today, we had to pass a couple of Loan Agreements which had been deferred and I would come back to this later. The nation needs these and we all look forward in a renewed hope that things will work right for us, God willing.

There are some important Bills which we could not get through with, not because they are less important but because we need to do further consultations on these Bills and they include the following: Domestic Violence Bill; the Freedom to Information Bill; the Whistle-Blowers Bill; and the Disability Bill. We entreat the relevant committees to put whatever finishing touches which are outstanding in place to enable Parliament finish with

them upon reconvening.

Mr. Speaker, hon. Members have done well to see to the end of this challenging and somewhat tumultuous, nonetheless fruitful Meeting. Even though not everything went on as programmed, we have done considerably well and it is important at this juncture to thank you, Mr. Speaker, in particular, all hon. Members, the Clerk and his supporting staff, the Press and everybody else who has contributed in diverse ways to making this Meeting a success.

Finally, may I wish everyone a dutiful but restful period and a Happy Easter. I am sure we will come back rejuvenated to take on the work the people of Ghana have entrusted to us. Thank you all.

Mr. Speaker, before I sit down let me inform the House that in view of our outstanding businesses the following Committees, the Committee on Finance, Committee on Energy, Employment and Social Welfare may be recalled on or around the 29th of March to consider outstanding businesses and the House -- [Interruption.] Mr. Speaker, I am speaking as the Acting Chairman of the Business Committee. Mr. Speaker may be advised by the Committee to recall Parliament for the rest of the work. On that note, I wish everybody well and I thank you for the audience. Thank you. [Hear! Hear!]
Mr. Speaker 4:45 p.m.
Order! Order! Hon. Members, I must, first of all, thank the Leadership of the House for the sentiments expressed on the Speaker of the House. I can only say that I have done my duty and I assure you that I will continue to discharge this heavy responsibility to the best of my ability, God being my helper.
Hon. Members, we have come to the end of the First Meeting of the Second Session of the Fourth Parliament of the
Fourth Republic. Despite the difficulties, we have managed to dispose of almost all the businesses brought before the House. I salute the House Leadership and all hon. Members for keeping faith with the Constitution in ensuring the growth of our young parliamentary democracy.
Your co-operation and high sense of commitment have undoubtedly cul- minated in the successful execution of our constitutional mandates. Let me again express appreciation to the House Leadership and hon. Members for your active participation in the Parliamentary Week celebration which formed part of our programme to bring the activities of the House to the public domain. Your active involvement made it possible for the citizenry to have an overview of the work of the Legislature which will go a long way to erode some of the negative perceptions about it.
Hon. Members, it is important to put on record that our achievements during this Meeting would not have been possible without the efforts of the Clerk to Parliament and his staff who have demonstrated a high level of professionalism in complementing the efforts of Parliament.
Members of the Press Corps who have played a vital role in consistently broadcasting parliamentary Sittings to the citizenry deserve the commendation of the House. I urge them to keep up the good work.
Hon. Members, as the House rises today, let me take the opportunity to remind you of an important impending event which calls for reflection and active participation, and that is the hosting of the 37th Conference of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA), African Region, by our Parliament. The Planning Committee is busily putting together a programme which requires inputs from hon. Members so as to ensure a successful completion.
Any moment from now, the House
Mr. Speaker 4:45 p.m.

would rise for its recess. I am hopeful that you would make time out of your busy schedules to take a good rest. Reflect on experiences of this Meeting so as to enable you employ better ideals and ideas for improving upon the performance of the House during the subsequent Meeting.