Debates of 24 May 2006

PRAYERS 10:30 a.m.




Mr. First Deputy Speaker 10:30 a.m.
Hon. Members, correction of the Votes and Proceedings of Tuesday, 23rd May, 2006. Page 1 - 10.
No corrections, hon. Members. In the circumstances we assume that what we have in hand as a matter of fact is a reflection of what took place yesterday, 23rd May 2006.
Hon. Members, there will be a little change in the order of business for today. First of all, we will start with Statements before we come to Questions. And we have in the first place a Statement from the Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and NEPAD, on behalf of the Minister, in respect of Africa Day. Hon. Deputy Minister, if you are ready.
STATEMENTS 10:30 a.m.

Mr. First Deputy Speaker 10:40 a.m.
Hon. Members, that is a Statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Regional Cooperation and NEPAD which has been read to you by the hon. Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, Regional Cooperation and NEPAD on Africa Day, that is the 43rd Celebration of the African Day. The Chair will take two or three contributions on the matter.
Dr. Benjamin Kunbuor (NDC -- Lawra/Nandom) 10:50 a.m.
Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, for giving me the opportunity to make one or two short comments on this all-important day for Africans.
Cer ta in ly, wi th in the NEPAD
framework, it stands out as one of the most significant strides in Africa's years of struggle to have an African identity and take its own development agenda into consideration. But that has to be looked at, Mr. Speaker, within the backdrop of a number of initiatives that have taken place in Africa and that have failed, and whatever pioneering role NEPAD plays today in the African continent has to be located within this particular backdrop.
Mr. Speaker, we did know that there
was an alternative framework to structural adjustment as a way out for Africa, some years back. We do remember that there was a quest for a new international economic world order that also has gone into a law; and we know that with the end of the cold war the Non-Aligned Movement that was championing the cause of Africa and all depressed people around the world
Dr. Benjamin Kunbuor (NDC -- Lawra/Nandom) 10:50 a.m.
has also stayed in abeyance. Perhaps, what is new, Mr. Speaker, in the current framework of NEPAD, has to do with two critical issues about ownership and empowerment.
But the very notion of Africa's ownership of its development, in partnership with the global community, raises a number of fundamental questions in relation to the last G8 Summit that was held in Montreal in 2002 and the eight thematic areas that the G8 actually abstracted, as a basis of support in terms of NEPAD.
One has to also look at the parallel development of the Blair Commission and the pledge that was made out of it as part of the support for NEPAD. A number of very conflicting signals are beginning to emerge in relation to the G8 countries and the commitment they have for supporting
Mr. Speaker, when one talks about ownership, one is still not clear whether we have been able to operationalize it, as a concept in Africa, and whether Africa's ownership of its own development initiative means hands off Africa, or Africa has to go into that development agenda in collaboration with the global community. The most significant aspect of empowerment is what begins to put the Blair Commission's initiative and the G8's commitment to the NEPAD initiatives that needs critical examination by most African countries. How else will the alternative framework to structural adjustment have collapsed? Why have we now down- graded the debate for a new international economic order? Yet most of the essential features of these two issues that have gone into abeyance are very critical issues to allow NEPAD to actually have its own way of looking at its destiny. This brings me clearly to the African Peer Review

initiatives, and Ghana's location in it.

Mr. Speaker, laudable as Ghana's pioneering role in subscribing to the African Peer Review might be, one has gone very closely at the programme of action and we need to take a number of very, very critical steps. If you look at the programme of action, we should not turn it into another begging basket in which we actually assign financial outlays and requirements to ensure that the programme of action and the recommendations are implemented. You go through the recommendations; one wants to see a very clear commitment to actually implementing those recommen-dations.

Mr. Speaker, to show our commitment t o t h e i m p l e m e n t a t i o n o f t h e recommendations, as a basis for taking credit for the bold pioneering role Ghana

And I think that if charity is to begin at home, we as the people's representatives, should take the first initiative and ensure that we actually farm out a clear road map for the implementation of the African Peer Review Mechanism.

Mr. Speaker, I have a short point to

make, in terms of the African continent. We have seen in the late 1980s and the early 1990s that there was a wide democratization wave that swept through Africa, which culminated in the elections. Commentary after commentary two, three years ago are beginning to suggest that we are suffering from democratic deficits and reversals of the gains that have been made within the late 1980s and 1990s, and it is important that African countries, within the framework of NEPAD, that have good governance as one of their essential attributes, should begin to correct these democratic deficits before they become ossified and make Africa again one of the dark continents, because of our performance in governance .
Mr. K. A. Okerchiri (NPP -- Nkawkaw) 10:50 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, there is no doubt at all that the Statement made by the Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, Regional Cooperation and NEPAD is very appropriate and revealing; it is indeed all- encompassing.
Mr. Speaker, as has been noted in the Statement, I believe the theme is very appropriate. Way back, 43 years ago, the late Dr. Kwame Nkrumah saw through it when he advocated for development on a
continental basis; that if Africa remained that balkanized, there was no way that we were going to be able to develop and eradicate poverty, squalor, disease and illiteracy.
Fortunately for us, Mr. Speaker, this vision is quite clear to the African Union
Mr. Speaker, if you look at the commissions they are subject-matter related and very specific. The commissions relate to trade, agriculture, et cetera -- all those ingredients that will help build Africa economically.
Mr. Speaker, what is also important and is very revealing in the Statement is that the AU has adopted the Regional Economic Development Blocks as the building blocks for this agenda and, therefore, there is no confusion at all as to what happened way back in 1963 when we had the Casablanca Group and we had the Moroccan Group; no. This time round, we are going to depend upon the Regional Economic Building Blocks as the agents for building the blocks for development.
Alhaji Sumani Abukari 11 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Mr. Speaker, my hon. Colleague on the floor is paraphrasing the utterances and activities of Africa's only leader, Kwame Nkrumah, without giving him credit for it. He should
Mr. Second Deputy Speaker 11 a.m.
you are out of order.
Mr. Okerchiri 11 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I think
I am happy that the idea of the NEPAD has been prayed in aid. It provides the programme for this vision, as it were, to be realized. Then Mr. Speaker, another ingredient for making sure that this vision is not hijacked anywhere, that there are no insurmountable hitches, is the idea of the APRM.
Mr. Speaker, we visited Morocco, our tour guide explained to us the number of women that previous kings married. Then at the end of it all, he indicated that with a certain legislation that was being introduced, polygamy was going to be a thing of the past. We saw that he was not very happy about it, but it was going to be a thing of the past. So I asked myself why, in an essentially Moslem country, they were outlawing polygamy. The answer was simple; they were preparing to enter the European Union. And to enter the European Union, they needed a uniform family law system and therefore they would have to outlaw the polygamy. [Interruption.] So Mr. Speaker, they had to outlaw polygamy and adopt monogamous relationship.
Mr. Speaker, then I asked myself, so what is it that we also can do so as to synchronize our laws, our economic policies. Mr. Speaker, that is why I think that one can pray the aid of the APRM. It makes no doubt at all as to the parameters of development. It does not allow anyone to talk about, “I want to develop along the side of democratic centralism; or I want to adopt the African socialist system”.

instrument that makes sure that countries voluntarily accede to best practices in terms of corporate governance, political governance, socio-economic governance. And once you are brought along this, the parameters are well set.

Mr. Speaker, I am also very happy --
Mr. Second Deputy Speaker 11 a.m.
Members, let us have some silence and let us listen to what your Colleague on the floor is saying, please.
Mr. Okerchiri 11 a.m.
-- what was also
very worrisome, in realizing this dream, is the various internecine and fratricidal engagements by countries in Africa. We in Ghana may be very happy; we in Ghana may be enjoying the peace; we may be calling for foreign direct investments, but if our brothers in Liberia, if our brothers in la Cote d'Ivoire are engaged in killing themselves -- I am afraid, in the outside world, the unfortunate thing is that they regard Africa as a monolithic whole. They do not distinguish between Ghana; they do not distinguish between la Cote d'Ivoire -- Therefore, it will be very difficult, as it were, to bring investors along once there are these pockets of skirmishes.
Mr. Speaker, that is why I found it
very relieving that in the Statement of the Deputy Minister, he stated that all attempts are being made, as it were, to try and contain these wars for the time being. Pockets of wars are in various parts of Africa. Mr. Speaker, once we are able to deal with this, I think the stage would be set for the vision of the OAU, now AU, to be realized.
Mr. Speaker, on this occasion, let me add my voice to the numerous contributors both inside and outside Parliament, in
wishing the AU a happy birthday.
Mrs. Elizabeth Amoah-Tetteh (NDC -- Twifo-Atti Morkwaa) 11 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I also want to put down a few points that I have. Come Thursday, it will be Africa Day, as the Minister said; and it will be a very important day for all Africans.
Mr. Speaker, I want to comment on Africa's approach to economic development. One of the causes of Africa's woes has been the over- concentration on the achievement of economic growth by our leaders, instead of the development of their peoples. Mr. Speaker, the result has been the breakdown of traditional institutions, increase in crime, deprivations, inequalities, malnutrition, hunger, unemployment and poverty.
Mr. Speaker, African leaders must
now move their commitment towards the provision of basic social services, for example, health, education, housing, potable water and job creation. This will reduce poverty and enhance the living standards of our people. Mr. Speaker, I think this will not be by word of mouth but by action.
Again, another area that is critical to the development of African countries is good governance. The Minister has already spoken about it and I just want to add this -- the rule of law and the increase of women's participation in governance. Abuses committed by some African leaders in these areas have led to several political upheavals and wars, creating huge refugee problems on the continent. This is threatening the already fragile economies of those countries that provide support for victims of war-torn countries.
Mr. Speaker, our leaders must be able
to provide opportunities for turning our raw materials into secondary products
and creating enabling environments for direct foreign investment in our industrial sectors of the economy. It is only by this that we can compete favourably in the international market.
To conclude, I just want to talk on the HIV/AIDS pandemic. This is actually giving problems as far as our economic and social developments are concerned. Poverty, hunger and disease have made Africa a thriving place for the HIV/ AIDS pandemic. This is threatening both potential and active labour, signalling a doom for Africa's developmental efforts.
Apart from this, it is also creating huge social problems with the numerous orphans of HIV/AIDS victims increasing day by day. The pandemic will have to be tackled head-on with huge financial investments in education, prevention and provision of right and proper drug for HIV/ AIDS victims. This will need the total support of the international community, to reduce the rate of infection of our people if we actually want to achieve our agenda on development.
Mrs. Gifty E. Kusi (NPP -- Tarkwa Nsuaem) 11:10 a.m.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for the opportunity to contribute to the Statement on floor.
Mr. Speaker, Africa, our continent, has done a lot and is in the process of doing a lot for African people. Mr. Speaker, this century started with a lot of problems confronting African countries. Especially, there was extreme hunger and poverty; access to education was very limited; gender issues were also relegated to the background and a lot more that if we say we are going to mention them here we will never finish this contribution. Mr. Speaker, but somewhere along the line, African governments have come together and have gone a long way in trying to reduce these problems that face
Mr. J. D. Mahama (NDC -- Bole/ Bamboi) 11:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I believe that it is only fitting that on the occasion of Africa Day, which falls tomorrow, this Parliament pays tribute to the founding fathers of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) and then also to the Heads of State that made it possible for the current African Union to be formed.
Mr. Speaker, to persons like Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, Haile Selassi and their colleagues who had the vision of creating a continental body that would eventually lead to a complete unification of our continent, on this day we have to doff our hats.
Mr. Speaker, latter-day leaders who also played a key role in the formation

of the African Union, like Muammar Gaddafi, Thabo Mbeki, J. J. Rawlings -- [Hear! Hear!] -- Nelson Mandela, all need to be congratulated for the role they played in establishing a strong continental body for this continent.

Mr. Speaker, Africa is no longer a child; Africa is now an adult. Some of the earliest countries that gained independence on this continent are almost fifty years old and I can talk especially about our own country which will celebrate her fiftieth birthday next year. Mr. Speaker, fifty years in the life of a country is not a very long time, but it is enough time to have made enough progress in terms of improving the quality of life of our people.
Mr. Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 11:10 a.m.
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, whilst I admire the course of my hon. Colleague, I think the Statement that he has just issued regarding the birth of the EU vis-a- vis the ECOWAS is not entirely correct. Mr. Speaker, he appears to be misleading the House because the EU was preceded by the European Economic Community
Mr. Speaker, that gave birth to the EU and in that regard, he cannot say that the
ECOWAS preceded the EU, it was just a transition. They transited from the EEC. It was just a re-christening. As a point of fact, the ECOWAS did not precede the EU. [Interruptions.] And Mr. Speaker, I think that my hon. Colleague who is a seriously aspiring presidential candidate -- [Uproar] -- I will support him but I believe that he needs to get his facts right.
Mr. Mahama 11:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I will not let the latter comment distract me. [Hear! Hear!] Mr. Speaker, I chose my words carefully; I said the ECOWAS is older than the EU. I did not talk about the EEC -- [Hear! Hear!] There are different levels of integration and I know why I said the EU instead of the EEC.
Mr. Speaker, I was making the point that even though we have a protocol of free movement of people and that protocol says that any ECOWAS citizen moving into another ECOWAS country is entitled to a ninety-day visa-free stay, the last time I travelled to a neighbouring ECOWAS country and the immigration officer asked me how long I would be staying and I said I would be there for two weeks, he gave me exactly two weeks. As an ECOWAS citizen, he should have given me ninety days, even though I did not intend to stay there for ninety days.
Mr. Speaker, when I arrive in the UK and they ask me how long I want to stay and I say I am staying for five days, I am given six months. Mr. Speaker, what is it that makes it difficult for us to be able to achieve the level of integration, after so many years, that other parts are able to achieve?

Mr. Speaker, if you take trade between Africa and the rest of the world, it has depreciated from four per cent to just about

one per cent of total world trade; the share of Africa is just above one per cent.

Mr. Speaker, that should not be a

problem. But if you look at the other statistics, if you take the total continental trade of Africa, the trade among African countries amounts to only eleven per cent. Of the total trade of Africa, only 11 per cent is trade among ourselves.

Mr. Speaker, it is difficult to understand

what creates the orientation where we prefer to import things from outside Africa rather than importing from amongst ourselves. Tonnes and tonnes of salt are imported from Brazil into Africa every year, meanwhile next door to most African countries, countries like Ghana have huge reserves of salt.

Mr. Speaker, we have been struggling with monetary union for several years. In the case of our current attempt, Ghana, Nigeria, Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone and The Gambia, we have kept postponing the date for the monetary union; so it is nowhere closer.

Mr. Speaker, a decision was taken that

each country in Africa should set up a Ministry of New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) and Regional Integration. Mr. Speaker, this Ministry was duly set up under the administration of the National Democratic Congress (NDC). Very happily, when President Kufuor took over power in his first term, he maintained this Ministry and appointed a Minister to the Ministry. But Mr. Speaker, very shockingly, sadly and unfortunately, in the last Cabinet reshuffle, that Ministry has disappeared -- [Uproar] -- and it has been swallowed up by the Foreign Ministry.

Mr. Speaker, it was a deliberate

decision. We knew that we had Foreign Ministries but we took a decision that we should all set up Ministries of Regional Integration so that we could push the
Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 11:20 a.m.
On a point
of order. Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, my hon. Colleague on the floor said that he has been choosing his words very carefully. I think that at this stage he has gone off tangent by saying that the Executive have chosen to obliterate a Ministry.
Mr. Speaker, yes, indeed, the decision
Mr. First Deputy Speaker 11:20 a.m.
Hon. Kyei-
Mensah-Bonsu, what is your point? That is no point of order. You have already made a contribution; have you not?
Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 11:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I was correcting him.
Mr. First Deputy Speaker 11:20 a.m.
Sit down.
Could you wind up, hon. John Mahama.
Mr. Akwasi Osei-Adjei 11:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker,
I hate to interrupt my very good Friend
since he is the Ranking Member on the Committee on Foreign Affairs. He has been co-operating very well.
But Mr. Speaker, the impression created
about this absorption of the Ministry of NEPAD and Regional Integration -- It is not due to the reason he has assigned; it is not like that.
In fact, Mr. Speaker, it is part of
the APRM to review the Ministries, to downsize the Ministries. And Mr. Speaker, if we look at our own ECOWAS, Benin has what they call the Ministry of Regional Integration and Foreign Affairs; if you go to Nigeria, the NEPAD is within the Ministry of Planning; if you go to South Africa, the NEPAD is in the Ministry of Planning; and if you go to Kenya, it is in the Ministry of Planning.
So, it has got no bearing whatsoever -- What I am telling my hon. Friend is this: it is a conscious effort, first, to downsize the number; second, to achieve comparability and then complement -- so that the work can be done in an efficient way with less cost to the people of Ghana. And I do not think that my hon. Friend would recommend that we use the taxpayer's money by expanding Ministries; I do not think it is the right way to do things.
Mr. First Deputy Speaker 11:20 a.m.
Hon. John
Mahama to continue.
Mr. Mahama 11:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, yes, I agree that Ministries should be downsized. But Mr. Speaker, in an order of priority, if I were an advisor to the President, I think that the step he took in dissolving the Ministry of Regional Integration was wrong.
Mr. Speaker, how can you dissolve
the Ministry of Regional Integration and have a Ministry of Aviation when Ghana International Airways has only one aircraft? They do not even own it -- [Laughter.] It has been leased.
Mr. Speaker, how can you dissolve the Ministry of Regional Integration when you have a Ministry of Transportation that deals only with roads and then you have the Ministry of Harbours and Railways also sitting somewhere separately?
Mr. First Deputy Speaker 11:20 a.m.
Members, let us focus on the Statement and make contributions regarding that and do not let us turn it into an unnecessary debate. So please make your contributions quickly.
Mr. Mahama 11:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, just
to respond quickly to the first point of order. Our President was the ECOWAS Chairman when that decision was taken to set up Ministries of Regional Integration.
Mr. Speaker, so the argument that we set it up -- but when we looked around, of the sixteen only four of us had set it up so we are dissolving and joining the sixteen, does not make logical sense.
Mr. Speaker, we should be encoura- ging the rest who have not set it up to set them up rather than dissolving ours. So there is no logic to that argument.
Mr. Speaker, Africa is still plagued with a lot of problems of governance.
Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 11:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, on a point of correction.
Mr. First Deputy Speaker 11:20 a.m.
Yes, I have signalled him to make his point, if he has any.
Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 11:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, clearly my hon. Colleague is a yesterday man. This decision to review was left to the Council of Ministers which met and took this decision that the countries may advert their minds to it and review. So he is a yesterday man when he
says that it does not make logical sense. If perhaps he does not have the information he should say so but he should not say that it does not make logical sense.
Mr. First Deputy Speaker 11:20 a.m.
Your point is well made; let him land now. Hon. John Mahama, you have a minute to land.
Mr. Mahama 11:30 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I do not know what problem my hon. Friend has.
Mr. Speaker, the Council of Ministers is subordinate to the Council of Heads of State. [Laughter.] So if the Council of Heads of State, of which our President was the Chairman, delegated the decision to the Ministers to take and the decision was taken, what is he trying to say? He does not have a point.
Mr. Speaker, I move on to the issue of governance and conflicts; and that is my last point.
Mr. Speaker, Africans have embarked on a journey of good governance and democratic rule and we need to make sure that we strengthen the institutions that make it possible for our people to enjoy good governance.

Mr. Speaker, in our democracy those institutions are institutions like the Judiciary, the Legislature and other constitutional bodies that are set up to ensure that our people have justice and good governance. Mr. Speaker, after we finished the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), a programme of action to rectify the deficiencies we had found came up.

The Minister for NEPAD and Regional Integration at the time, hon. Dr. Konadu Apraku said Ghana would need five million dollars to be able to implement that programme. What he meant by that
Mr. Mahama 11:30 a.m.
colossal sum was that if we did not have five million dollars it was going to be difficult to embark on implementing the

Mr. Speaker, downsizing Ministries is a decision that the President should take, which he has taken. But it is not sufficient. I still think we have too many Ministries and too many Ministers. To reduce from 86 to 80, I think we have not made any movement in that regard at all. And so I think the President should adhere himself to the decisions of APRM. And for those of which decisions can be taken immediately, we must proceed to implement those decisions so that we can provide the requisite good governance for our people.

Mr. Speaker, finally, conflict -- What

causes conflict? It is the marginalization of segments of the population; it is abuse of power and so on and so forth. Mr. Speaker, of late there has been a fashion where some heads of state have tried to tamper with their Constitutions in order to remove the term limit that govern the presidential tenure. Mr. Speaker, this happened in Chad; where the present President removed the limit of the term on the presidency and today we have a rebel incursion in Chad and it is beginning to create security problems for Africa.

Mr. Speaker, there are several other
Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 11:30 a.m.
Speaker, on a point of order. Mr. Speaker, with respect, it does appear my hon. Colleague has been unchained and in his unlimited status he is beginning to raise certain issues -- [Interruptions.] Mr. Speaker, he tells us that we should begin to vote according to the dictates of our conscience as if we have not been doing that earlier on -- [Interruptions.]
Mr. Speaker, that statement is outrageous and I do not want to believe that it came from my hon. Colleague -- [Interruptions.] Mr. Speaker, if indeed it did come from him it is unacceptable and he must accordingly withdraw. [Interrup- tion.]
Mr. Mahama 11:30 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I was just
Mr. First Deputy Speaker 11:30 a.m.
Minority Leader, could you please take your seat for a while. [Interruptions.] Hon. John Mahama, your hon. Colleague has raised an issue -- The hon. Majority Chief Whip has raised an issue. According to him, the implication of what you have said is that hitherto those who are in this House have not been using their conscience in voting because you said they should now begin to use their conscience in voting. Are we to understand that what you meant was that before now they had not been using their conscience to vote? Could you react to that?
Mr. Mahama 11:30 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I said this
Mr. First Deputy Speaker 11:30 a.m.
point is well made, but you did say that they should now begin to do that. What exactly did you mean?
Mr. Mahama 11:30 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I can
Mr. First Deputy Speaker 11:30 a.m.
Mr. A. S. K. Bagbin 11:30 a.m.
Mr. Speaker,
I just wanted an opportunity to make a comment on it so that you can be better informed to make a ruling. We are all aware that a study has been conducted on this Parliament and the report has been written by Stephan Limberk on the rise and fall of this Parliament. And in that paper, remarks are made of the nature that he just referred to, that is what is in it, that my hon. Colleagues opposite have allowed themselves to be co-opted by the Executive -- [Hear! Hear!]-- and as a result of that the vibrancy of this Parliament has been lowered and that we have now fallen as a democratic country so far as parliamentary practices are concerned. Mr. Speaker, the APRM report -- [Interruptions.]
Mr. First Deputy Speaker 11:30 a.m.
Members, please, there is an hon. Colleague on the floor; allow him to make his statement. Allow me to be in charge, hon. Members.
Mr. Bagbin 11:30 a.m.
Again, Mr. Speaker, the
APRM country report also made reference to this point. That is the issue that he is raising.
Mr. First Deputy Speaker 11:30 a.m.
point that?
Mr. Bagbin 11:30 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, that we have become an attachment to the Executive because our hon. Colleagues in the Majority have allowed themselves to be influenced -- [Interruptions.] It is true; it is in the report; I will give it to you -- [Interruptions.]
Mr. First Deputy Speaker 11:30 a.m.
Well, hon.
John Mahama, I think you have finished your statement, have you not? Hon. Mahama, have you landed?
Mr. Bagbin 11:30 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I am
simply referring this document to my
Dr. Benjamin Kunbuor 11:30 a.m.
-- rose --
Mr. First Deputy Speaker 11:30 a.m.
He is on
a point of order so would you take your seat? I am in charge here; could you please sit down?
Dr. Kunbuor 11:30 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I just
Mr. First Deputy Speaker 11:40 a.m.
Hon. Kunbuor, I am asking you to take your seat -- [Laughter.] Yes, continue.
Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 11:40 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, you called me and I am making my point --[Interruptions]. Mr. Speaker, you called me, and so if he does not agree and he wants to challenge your decision, please he should say so. At the appropriate time, not now when I am on the floor -- This is not a market place, Mr. Speaker, for hon. Kunbuor to -- [Laughter.]
Mr. Speaker, the document that the hon. Minority Leader referred to is not an official document. It is not before
this House and the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRIM) Report that he alluded to talks about the hybrid system that we are operating as a country. Mr. Speaker, he must advert his mind to that; it was not to take on the Majority. Mr. Speaker, he better adverts his mind to that. In any event, the language that hon. John Mahama used is offensive -- [Uproar]-- Mr. Speaker, it is very offensive; it is outrageous and I am asking my hon. Colleague to withdraw that statement. That is what I am doing. [Interruption.] -- It is not for my hon. Friend to tell me to repeat it; Mr. Speaker, with respect to the hon. Minority Leader, he must withdraw.
Mr. First Deputy Speaker 11:40 a.m.
Hon. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, please, you just said that this is not a market place -- [Laughter] -- so please, allow me to be in charge.
Hon. Mahama you made a point and I allowed the hon. Minority Leader also to come in to make an intervention, maybe, to give some other perspective to what you might have been saying. Your hon. Colleague is insisting that the kind of language you used -- It is not an opinion. You have tried to make it look as if, as a matter of fact, the hon. Members in the Majority had hitherto not been using their own conscience in contributing or taking decisions in this House. The impression is unparliamen-tary; would you please do something about it?
Mr. Mahama 11:40 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, we can choose to behave like the ostrich and refuse to recognize the weaknesses of this House. Mr. Speaker, this House is weak in terms of independence. That is a fact. [Hear! Hear!] This House passed the United States of America Non Surrender Treaty; this House passed the CNTCI; this same House passed the IFC. [Hear! Hear!]
Mr. Mahama 11:40 a.m.
We could not stand up to the Government and say those Bills were wrong.
Mr. First Deputy Speaker 11:40 a.m.
Please, hon. John Mahama, will you listen to the Chair -- [Interruption.]
Mr. Mahama 11:40 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, and the public perception is that the House is weak and that we vote on partisan lines we do not vote according to the issues.
Mr. First Deputy Speaker 11:40 a.m.
Hon. John Mahama, would you listen to the Chair. Hon. Mahama, you have been an hon. Member of this House for a long time; that I know. Essentially, there has not been much change from the time that you became an hon. Member of Parliament till now. I am saying that we are going by our Constitution and the Standing Orders. The language you have used gives a wrong impression.
For us to make progress, I have asked you to reconsider it and make an opinion on that. You should not play to the gallery over such an issue, please, let us make progress. You know what we have been doing here. You have been here when you were in Government; you have been here when you were in the Minority. Let us protect the integrity of this House. [Uproar.] Please, react to that; I have asked you to do so.
Mr. Mahama 11:40 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, which part of what I said is offensive?
Mr. First Deputy Speaker 11:40 a.m.
You raised an issue; fortunately or unfortunately, the hon. Minority Leader also came in and gave a perspective to it, which could have given an impression that it was some sort of an opinion. The documents that have
been referred to, which he mentioned, hon. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu drew your attention to the fact that it talks about the hybrid system. It is the Constitution that we have come to this House to observe and that is not what he was referring to. I am saying that the impression you gave seemed to suggest that your other hon. Colleagues are not using their consciences to vote. I think it is wrong. [Uproar.] Say something about it.
Mr. Mahama 11:40 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, if I remember exactly what I said, I said as a House, we must begin to vote according to our conscience -- [Uproar] -- And I said in that regard, a lot rests on my hon. Colleagues on the other side. That is what I said. I said that as a House, we must begin to vote according to our conscience. Mr. Speaker, if you look at the voting pattern of this House, we are always split on party lines -- [Interruption.]
Mr. First Deputy Speaker 11:40 a.m.
Hon. John Mahama, you have made a point right now but that is exactly not the impression you created. You did say that you blamed the Majority -- [Uproar] -- That was what you said. You did not talk about this House as a House; you did say that it was the Majority. Do you understanding what I am saying? You gave an impression that the Minority, on the other hand, are not to be blamed and the Majority are to be blamed for partisan voting in this House. And I am saying that that is wrong. So, please, say something about it.
Mr. Mahama 11:40 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, if you will let me say what I had said and if you think it is offensive we can make a determination -- I said that as a House, we must begin to vote by our conscience. And I said that in this regard, it behoves my hon. Friends on the other side and that they should not be afraid even if they would be reshuffled. Those are the things I said. [Uproar.] What is offensive in this,
Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 11:40 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, it looks like my hon. Colleague is beating a very fast retreat. Those were not the words he chose. Mr. Speaker, he referred particularly to this side of the House and said that we should begin --[Interruption] -- He even pointed at us and said that we should begin to vote according to the dictates of our consciences. That was exactly what he said. If now he is acknowledging the fact that what he said is incorrect and that it is offensive and he is beating a retreat, so be it; but indeed, that was not what he said. [Interruption.] Please, that was not what he said.
Mr. First Deputy Speaker 11:40 a.m.
Well, allow hon. John Mahama to -- Yes, hon. John Mahama, you said, maybe, Mr. Speaker did not hear you properly, your other hon. Colleagues did not hear you properly. You have rephrased what you said, and I will not hold you to it. Continue.
Mr. Mahama 11:40 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, in any case, I am inviting my hon. Colleagues to vote according to their consciences when any Bill comes to this House. [Hear! Hear!] Mr. Speaker -- [Interruption.]
Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 11:40 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, with respect, that indecent prevarication would not be accepted. He either comes straight with it or he swallows his words. What is that?
Mr. Mahama 11:40 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I am encouraging my hon. Colleagues on the other side to vote according to their consciences. We must continue to strengthen this House as one of the three arms of government. Mr. Speaker, this
Mr. First Deputy Speaker 11:40 a.m.
You have less than a minute now to complete -- [Laughter.]
Mr. Mahama 11:40 a.m.
Yes, I am on my last sentence. Mr. Speaker, this Parliament has been the Cinderella of the three arms of government for far too long. When the other arms of government are awashed with funds and all that, we hardly have committee rooms to sit in. Look at our project out there, it has virtually come to a standstill.
Mr. Speaker, the Tower Block, stretching from NDC Administration to the present Administration, is still standing undone and that is why I am saying that it is only when we assert our authority as a House that the two other arms of government would respect us and give us what is due to this House. That is why I am urging that my hon. Friends on the other side should join us and let us assert the authority of this House so that what is due to Parliament, we shall get. Aside of that, the good governance that it will engender will be to the benefit of all our people. I thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. First Deputy Speaker 11:50 a.m.
And on that note, I will draw the curtain on the theme for Africa Day celebration, “Working Together for Integration and Development” as was in the Statement by the Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs.

Hon. Members, we move on to another Statement that the Chair has agreed for it to be made and that is on Flooding of Afife Irrigation Farm. It will be made by the Member of Parliament for Ketu North constituency. If you are here, could you make your Statement?

Flooding of Afife Irrigation Farm
Mr. James K. Avedzi (NDC -- Ketu North) 11:50 a.m.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for the opportunity to make this urgent Statement on the flooding of Afife Irrigation Farm.
Mr. Speaker, on Tuesday the 16th of May, 2006, River Kplikpa on which the Afife Dam was built overflowed its banks to the extent that it has to use the spillway in order to enter the Keta Lagoon. This situation has resulted in the flooding of the farm because the amount of water coming from the Dam was too much for the canal to contain due to the renovation work which is ongoing at the farm.
Mr. Speaker, the Afife Irrigation Farm is one of the largest irrigation farms for rice production in the country. It is 2,200 acres in size, and it produces about 60,000 tonnes of rice every season for the economy of Ghana. The farm also employed over 1,000 farmers, providing livelihood for these people and their families.
Mr. Speaker, this period of the year is the planting period for the main cropping season. As at the time of the flooding, all the farmers had completed planting and information I received when I visited the farm on Thursday, 18th May, 2006 was that about 1,000 acres of the farmland is submerged in the water and the amount of water on the farm which is still flowing from the river is such that there is no hope for the survival of crops on this 1,000 acres of land.
Mr. Speaker, the renovation work currently ongoing at the farm which was started late 2005 is intended to cover areas like headwork, embankment, pump and pump house, transmission line, irrigable area work, main and lateral canals, drainage, road and road structures, land development and building and drying floors, all at a total cost of
Mr. Speaker, whilst the renovation was also meant to correct and prevent flooding of the farm area during this
Mr. First Deputy Speaker 11:50 a.m.
Hon. Member, are you on a point of order?
Dr. Kunbuor 11:50 a.m.
Yes, Mr. Speaker, with so much regret to actually interrupt my hon. Colleague, but it is very important. As the House stands now, you can see that almost all the seats are empty, particularly on the other side. I wonder whether we actually have the necessary numbers to continue to transact business.
Mr. First Deputy Speaker 11:50 a.m.
Are you drawing my attention to that?
Dr. Kunbuor 11:50 a.m.
That is so, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. First Deputy Speaker 11:50 a.m.
Continue, hon. Member. I have taken notice of that.
Mr. Avedzi 11:50 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, on the issue of the farmers who have lost their farms, I am calling on the National Disaster Management Organization (NADMO) to come to their aid by providing them with seedlings and chemicals for replanting. NADMO should also come to the aid of the people of Atiteti whose houses have also been taken over by the floods.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for the opportunity to make this urgent and short Statement on the Flooding of Afife Irrigation Farm.
Mr. First Deputy Speaker 11:50 a.m.
Members, we now move on to the Commencement of Public Business.

Mr. First Deputy Speaker 11:50 a.m.
Chairman of the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, The Laws of Ghana (Revised Edition) (Amendment) Bill, 2005? [Pause.] There is no Chairman at the moment; is there one?
Mr. Owusu-Adjapong 11:50 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, if no member of the Committee is around, I can only give explanation why the Chairman is not there. The Finance Committee is meeting at the moment so -- [Interruption.]
Mr. First Deputy Speaker 11:50 a.m.
Yes, hon. Member, you are a member of the Committee, are you not?
Mr. Ndebugre 11:50 a.m.
Yes, Mr. Speaker, I am a member of that Committee.
PAPERS 11:50 a.m.

Mr. First Deputy Speaker 11:50 a.m.
Hon. Members, the Minister for Food and Agriculture is supposed to answer a few Urgent Questions.
Mr. Owusu-Adjapong 11:50 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, as we discussed, it has become necessary to reschedule the Minister for Food and Agriculture to come next week, Tuesday to answer these Questions.
Mr. Speaker, it has become necessary because of the way we have been handling Questions. The Minister informs me that the Answers that we have, he is not aware of them and he would not be committed to them. And for that reason, I would want us to have as a policy that no Answers should be printed unless specifically signed by the Ministers or their Deputies so that we do not have such problems. The Minister was outside the country, the Answers were brought in and according to him, he is not aware of them and would not want to come and answer Questions where he is not aware.
I will therefore want us to step these Questions down and to insist that in future, the forwarding letters should be signed by the Minister or his Deputy so that we do not go into such problems again. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. First Deputy Speaker 11:50 a.m.
Hon. Minority Leader, do you also have something to say?
Mr. Bagbin 11:50 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, our attention was drawn to this belatedly and I think that it is a serious matter because the Questions are directed at the Ministers; they are not directed at the Ministries and therefore the Answers should be the Answers of the Ministers of the day and not Answers of Chief Directors or Directors of Ministries. So when our attention was drawn to
it we had no option than to agree that we reschedule the Answers so that the Minister will satisfy himself that those are his Answers so that the Government Assurances Committee could be employed in case there is a failure to abide by the commitments or assurances that will be given by the Minister himself.
So in the circumstances we agree that the Questions and Answers be rescheduled for Tuesday. That is the position. But our good Friends who are technical advisors supporting the Ministers should take note and make sure that our Ministers are also advised to take control of their Ministries and not just to float through the Ministry. Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. First Deputy Speaker 11:50 a.m.
Accor- dingly, the Questions that have indeed been advertised for the Minister today will be rescheduled for next Tuesday.
Hon. Members, we have a couple of Committees that are supposed to be meeting. I will urge those of you who are members of those Committees to attend them. In the circumstance, I will ask to be advised.
Mr. Owusu-Adjapong 11:50 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, in the circumstances, I move that this House do adjourn till Friday, 10 o'clock in the morning. I so move. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Bagbin 11:50 a.m.
I second the motion, Mr. Speaker.
Question put and motion agreed to.
ADJOURNMENT 11:50 a.m.

  • The House was accordingly adjourned at 12.02 p.m. till 26th May, 2006 at 10.00 a.m.