Debates of 6 Jun 2006

PRAYERS 10 a.m.




Mr. Speaker 10 a.m.
Order! Order! Correction of Votes and Proceedings of Friday, 2nd June, 2006. Pages 1 . . . 12.
Hon. Members, we do not have any
Official Report. Item 3 Statements. Hon. Member for Jomoro, you may make your Statement now.

Mr. Lee Ocran (NDC - Jomoro) 10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the towns and cities in Ghana are growing and expanding fast in size and population. Shelter for the people has become an indispensable necessity that is placing a huge burden on the Government. Individuals as well as corporate bodies have been trying to complement Government's effort at providing accommodation for the people.
In spite of these efforts, Mr. Speaker, there is still a huge deficit in the housing stock. Attempts by private individuals to provide accommodation has brought in its wake certain problems which relate to gross disregard for building regulations and
has led to haphazard siting of buildings in parts of towns and cities where planning, essential infrastructural services such as pipe-borne water, electricity and waste disposal facilities are lacking. This has accounted for the worsening sanitation situation in our towns and cities which invariably affects the health and well- being of residents in such areas.
Mr. Speaker, even in well-planned areas like East Legon and Labone, the siting of unauthorized structures like kiosks and containers which serve as dwelling places has rendered the house- to-house refuse collection ineffective since occupants of such structures cannot afford to pay for refuse collection and therefore dispose of household refuse indiscriminately and engage in out-door defecation thereby fouling the environment in such otherwise well- planned areas and worsen the sanitation problem.
Mr. Speaker, the current level of environmental sanitation leaves much to be desired. Increased production of solid waste, especially in the large urban areas has rendered most Assemblies ineffective in the management of municipal waste.
With a population of about 20 million and an average daily waste production per capita of 0.45 kg, Ghana generates about three million tonnes of solid waste annually. Accra, the national capital, with an estimated population of three million and a floating population of about 300,000 generates about 1,500 tonnes of solid waste a day and yet only 40 per cent of the waste generated is appropriately disposed of. The rest is left uncollected, creating the condition for the breeding of vectors which in turn create disease.
The waste management problem has been identified as a major setback to the meaningful implementation of the country's Poverty Reduction Strategy. The Strategy recognizes clean environment and good health as a means to achieve the
country's socio-economic development.
As a result of this state of affairs, Ghana today is choking under the weight of plastic and other municipal wastes. Drains, beaches, garbage dumps and street corners are all littered with domestic waste which poses a wide variety of dangers to human health. The main environmental-related health diseases like malaria, diarrhoea and cholera are great causes of morbidity and mortality. Malaria for example costs the economy about 1.2 per cent of GDP, accounts for about 44 per cent of out- patient cases in hospitals and causes 105 deaths daily. Cost of treatment to the economy, according to WHO estimates, is $94 million per annum.
But Mr. Speaker, we cannot always blame private developers alone for the chaotic and insanitary conditions in our cities. Sometimes state institutions are also part of the problem.
A classic example of officially- sanctioned haphazard development with its attendant disregard for sanitation and the environment is the siting of a market at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle and the subsequent decision to settle hawkers in the same vicinity along the Odaw River. Already, this area, once the nerve centre of the city of Accra, is now one of the filthiest areas in the city. It is not uncommon to see adults, both male and female, squatting side by side in broad day light on the silted portions of the Odaw River attending to nature's call. This is an affront to the dignity of the Ghanaian.
Garbage from the lorry park and the market find their way into the Odaw River whose biodiversity is almost extinct due to abuse. It is in such environment that we find cooked food being sold; and when there is an outbreak of cholera we are perplexed.
Mr. Speaker, solution of the current waste management problem will not only save lives and resources but also reverse the deteriorating aesthetic value of Ghana as a tourist destination. By the way, which tourist wants to visit a country where there is cholera outbreak in its major cities?
Mr. Speaker, by this Statement, I wish to call on all the Assemblies to redouble their efforts in waste collection and prevent outbreak of diseases, protect lives of the people and the image of the country. This is even more important with the coming of the rains.
We must accept that attitudes towards environmental sanitation are generally acquired in life. It is therefore imperative to make environmental sanitation an integral part of the school curriculum to inculcate the practice of cleanliness in our people.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Alfred K. Agbesi (NDC - Ashaiman) 10:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. Member who made this Statement. It is a very important Statement. In fact, it is a call on the authorities concerned to see to the environment that we live in. Mr. Speaker, it is true that if one travels along some important roads, what one sees is an eyesore.
Mr. Speaker, as you travel from Accra to Tema along the motorway, you realize on reaching the Tema end of it that all the things that the hon. Member who made the Statement referred to as defecating along the road are applicable to those areas. Mr. Speaker, when visitors come to Ghana they want to see Tema, Akosombo and other places, but as they travel, they see people in broad daylight defecating.
Mr. Alfred K. Agbesi (NDC - Ashaiman) 10:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I think that the authorities concerned should consider the issue of provision of such amenities along these important routes. I am told by the District Assembly, particularly Tema that it is not possible to provide public toilets or public places of convenience along major roads. But is it good that instead of the provision of these amenities, people should go in broad daylight and defecate along roads? Mr. Speaker, I think that if this is true, the authorities must reconsider their position and make provision for those who would find themselves in such a situation.
Mr. Speaker, I have a very good example of a prominent man who was travelling from Tema to Accra and on reaching the Airport area, he felt like attending to nature's call. He drove to a friend's house where he met the wife. Without asking permission, he just bypassed the wife and climbed up. Up there, he met the man, who asked; “My brother, what do you want” He could not even talk. He went straight to the room before he became free. Assuming he did not know anybody in that area, what would he have done? This is a clear reason as to why we have to make provision for these amenities.
Mr. Speaker, it appears to me that planning authorities nowadays are not doing their work. Mr. Speaker, we know that nowadays people are moving from Accra central towards the peripheral. They wait until people begin to build; people build along water courses and when it rains the authorities are called upon to come to the aid of those whose houses are submerged. In fact, two weeks ago, it rained heavily in Accra and people's houses were virtually submerged. People's rooms were filled with garbage and so on and so forth. Mr. Speaker, it looks like the Town and Country Planning
must get up and do something to avert these happenings.
Mr. Speaker, I want to say that this Statement needs to be looked at seriously by the authorities because refuse collection and the provision of drains are becoming a problem in our communities. I have had occasions where people, not finding a place to dump their refuse, asked their daughters to go and look for the Member of Parliament to tell them where to put their garbage. I wake up in the morning, I see children with headloads of refuse coming to ask me where they should dump them.
This is due to non-provision of such amenities, and I say that the Member of Parliament is not somebody who should provide a place where you should dump your refuse. But people do not know, they come and they say they want a place but the authorities, the District Assemblies are sitting down unconcerned. I believe that we need to whip them up to be able to do their duty. Mr. Speaker, all of us want to see a clean environment so that when we visit places, we would be happy that we are building a clean nation.
Mr. Speaker, in the olden days, when
we were attending school, in the morning you lined up for your teacher to inspect your finger nails. They also inspected your dress, whether you washed and ironed your dress or not. They even went further by asking the lady teachers to take the girls to the chambers to see whether they actually cleaned their underwear. Sometimes the boys too, they do the same. [Laughter.] Mr. Speaker, I think that we have to visit the olden days. Children must be taught cleanliness. As much as we want them to go to school, we do not only want them to learn their books, just to learn to read and write. Personal hygiene is necessary. If this culture is cultivated,
they come to the environment and make the environment also clean.
I totally support the call by the hon. Member who made the Statement for this to be taught in schools. Mr. Speaker, we know that there are prime areas of this country but those of us who do not have the opportunity to live in those areas, are calling upon the authorities to come to the aid of the less-endowed areas so that the provision of amenities can also make us live in decent environments.
I thank the hon. Member who made the Statement and I thank you for giving me this opportunity to contribute to this Statement.
Mr. Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu (NPP
- Suame): Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, for the opportunity to also associate myself with the Statement made by my hon. Colleague. Yesterday was World Environment Day and I thought the Statement from my hon. Colleague was going to be a more general statement. However, Mr. Speaker, I think that it is in tandem with the theme for the celebration of the occasion yesterday.
Mr. Speaker, a clean environment is a sine qua non to improving the health standards of the people of this country. Mr. Speaker, of the issue raised by my hon. Colleague relating to the generation of solid waste and the disposal of solid waste, the dichotomy between the two is what should concern all of us. The other time, we were told that of the waste that is generated in the system, we are only able to collect and dispose of about 70 per cent, which leaves about 30 per cent unattended to on daily basis and then we entrust the responsibility to the District Assemblies.
Mr. Speaker, the question to ask is
whether indeed the Assemblies have the wherewithal to cope with the situation. The hon. Member talked about the generation per capita of about 0.45 kilograms of solid waste each day and then the nation as a whole being able to collect about 0.30 kilograms on daily basis. How do we make up for the difference?
We lament the fact that we are unable to give the Assemblies the necessary funding for all their activities, yet we seem to entrust the responsibility of disposing of solid waste into the hands of the District Assemblies knowing very well that what we ourselves are providing them is inadequate. So how do they cope with the problem? I think that is where we as a body should advert our minds to.

The other thing that should also concern us is the fact that as a nation, our statistical data seems to be a bit suspect and the hon. Member who made the Statement himself, alluding to the population of Accra, said that Accra has an estimated population of about three million.

Mr. Speaker, as we stand here, nobody

knows for sure what the population of Accra even is. We are not too sure about it, so how do we arrive at the actual number or the actual figure of waste that is generated only in Accra, not to mention what is produced in Kumasi, Tamale, Sekondi-Takoradi and so on and so forth. So I believe that we should go back to the basics, to the drawing board and get to know what needs to be done.

We are also talking about haphazard development of our cities. Mr. Speaker, we pride ourselves with new develop-ments in East Legon, West Legon, North Legon and so on. If we go to some African countries, which we consider very impoverished --

Let anybody go to Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, and witness the kind of improvement, the kind of face- lifting that is going on in Ouagadougou and compare it with what is happening
Mr. Alfred K. Agbesi (NDC - Ashaiman) 10:20 a.m.
in Accra. Go to Harare, Zimbabwe and compare their own form of development to what is happening in Accra, and our own East Legon which we pride ourselves with, Mr. Speaker, would really compare to 21st century squatters.
We build, the plots are not serviced, but in any city, the basic things -- provision of electricity, water, telephone facilities are taken for granted. Here, the person goes to build and then the Electricity Company will tell you that they do not even know of the existence of that house. Meanwhile, it has been metered by somebody and they are collecting monthly stipends from the users of electricity.
Ghana Water Company is also collecting, yet officially they tell you that they do not know of the existence of that house.This explains why, for instances, about 52 per cent of water that is generated in the system ends up as unaccounted-for water.
Ghana Water Company officially, at least, says that they do not know how that water gets wasted and therefore they do not officially collect the money. Yet we do know that some form of money is collected one way or the other, at least of the 52 per cent that is supposed to be unaccounted for. Mr. Speaker, so we must go back to the basics.
The final thing I would want to talk about is the attitudinal change on the part of Ghanaians to sanitation. Mr. Speaker, it is with some amount of shame that I want to relate to this incident that I saw at Heathrow Airport barely two and a half weeks ago.
Mr. Speaker, I had come out of a cab and had just removed my luggage and heading towards the departure terminal. Then all of a sudden, I saw about four people walking and I thought by their mannerisms, by the way they were conducting themselves, they were from
a reputable West African country.

Mr. Speaker, I understand about four languages - [Laughter.] I have a working understanding of four languages even though it is one that I speak well. So it is one of the Ghanaian languages that the person was speaking. And I realized that he is indeed a Ghanaian blowing the nose in the full glare of other people at Heathrow of all places.

Mr. Speaker, we need an attitudinal

change. We see people spitting all over and they do not even have the courtesy to hide their nakedness when as a Colleague narrated to me, they go to certain places to defecate. They see you coming and they are doing it without shame. That is something that we should as a nation advert our minds to and, as a collective, Mr. Speaker, we should go down to the basics, as I have said, and this really calls for attitudinal change. We must tackle it from there and provide the necessary resources to the District Assemblies before we entrust them with the responsibility of disposing of solid waste.

Mr. Speaker, I thank you for your indulgence.
Mr. Alfred W. G. Abayateye (NDC - Sege) 10:20 a.m.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for the opportunity to contribute to the Statement on the floor.
Mr. Speaker, I wish to associate myself
with the Statement and would like to call on the Government to revisit the issue of whether there is the need for us to go back to the use of paper bags. I remember when I was a child attending school, the use of polythene bags was not known; it
was paper bags that we used. You go to the store, you buy an item, it is put in the paper bag, you get home you remove your things, you squeeze it and set fire to it and off it is gone. But the importation or the manufacture of polythene bags which is on the ascendancy at the moment is also contributing a lot to the refuse we see around.
Unfortunately, polythene bags, even when they go under the earth, do not dissolve. Therefore, even when you are ploughing or you are weeding, you meet them and they are just there. This is also hampering the natural flow of nutrients into the plants when we plant, resulting in our cocoyam and our cassava not yielding well as they should. So I wish to take this opportunity to call on the Government if we can go back; a law can be made for us to go back to the use of paper bags. We were talking about the issue of the pulp being costly, but if that can help us and this new garbage nuisance will be wiped out, it will help.
Again, I would want to call on our planning authorities, Department of Town and Country Planning, as regards zoning of the areas -- I happened to stay in Kumasi and I came across people encroaching on government lands at Owabi and Barikese Water Works areas. That creates environmental problems and it results in the blockage of water flow. So the Town and Country Planning units must sit up and see to it that the proper thing is done. When they are going to grant permits to people, they should please make sure that waterways and government lands are not encroached upon.
Again, on refuse and garbage dumping, it is done everywhere. Yesterday I decided to take a trip to the Odaw area and the whole Odaw lane for which last week we gave an approval for assistance to get it
cleared, has been choked with polythene bags, wastes here and there. Therefore, the work the Company is doing, they clear a place and within three days, it is on again.
I think our Waste Management bodies need to sit up and not to fear to prosecute when they get them arrested. But the people are being paid and have been placed here and there to watch and see that the right thing is done. But they are not doing it because pesewas are put in their hands and they close their eyes to these things.
I am taking this opportunity to call on the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) and all other District Assemblies and Municipal Councils to get up and see to it that the proper thing is done. This morning, I was driving from the Sakumono Estates and just before you get to A-Life Junction at Teshie-Nungua Estates, you could see that there is a waterway there, and the whole place is choked with garbage.
But thank God, this morning, I saw the AMA people with a big refuse container and they were now using the whee-l barrows to collect the garbage and put in these things. I think the authorities will have to sit up and try to place garbage collectors at all the vantage areas, than to wait for the harm to be done before they go back to collect it. This also pollutes the water so I would want to use this opportunity to call on all the Assemblies and the bodies concerned to sit up and do their work well.
Thank you for the opportunity, Mr.
Mr. John A. Ndebugre (PNC - Zebilla) 10:30 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, we have in the past treated the subject of sanitation in a short shift manner and I believe that that is where the problem has continued to bedevil us. The basic necessities of
Mr. John A. Ndebugre (PNC - Zebilla) 10:40 a.m.
You drive through Accra and you watch people, even including some of us -- I am sorry to say -- who just buy sachet water, drink and roll down our car windows and throw the empty plastic away and I do not understand whom we expect to go and take this plastic and dispose of it somehow. And it is happening all over the place. The gutters get choked because we are throwing these things about carelessly, mindless of the effect our behaving in that manner has on our immediate environment. So it must begin with the individual and spread to the home to the village, to the town, to the city and to the country and we must have a code for it.
It seems to me that the education we are talking about is not likely to go down much because this education has been going on and on. Some of us were educated under the old system, the immediate pre-independence time and even some of us in the colonial time where health and sanitation were very important. Yet we are able to jettison this very deep education that we have embarked upon and we just throw a piece of paper about carelessly or throw a piece of rubber about carelessly. And it is having an effect on us and we are not mindful of the effect that these things are having on us.
Let me just comment briefly on what
my hon. Friend from Sege (Mr. A. W. G. Abayateye) said about the use of polythene bags. I must agree with him that the introduction of carriage of goods in rubber sacks has created a very big problem for us. Those plastic bags are made up of a material called polyethylene. That is why lay persons just abbreviate it to polythene; it is polyethylene; it is a product of ethanol which is alcohol; it is a product from petroleum; it is an inorganic substance
therefore it is hardly biodegradable.
However, because of the convenience of its use we have abandoned paper which is more relatively biodegradable and everybody is going for plastic. Well, I am afraid it is going to be very difficult for us to insist that we stop using these plastic bags; all sorts of attempts have been made to bring its use under control and these attempts have not succeeded.
What I want to propose is that the Faculty of Engineering, particularly the Chemical Engineering Department at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology must look into this matter because it is a chemical engineering matter. We must find out how we are going to break this material down and possibly recycle it.
That I believe is the only way and when we have found that solution scientifically and technologically, the next step is even how to get people to gather these things in a particular place so that they can be taken to the place where they can be degraded somehow and recycled. If we do not do this, we are going to continue piling this rubbish on our streets; the winds and rains and so on sweep them into our gutters which become clogged. We have floods and children fall in and drown and so on and so forth.
As I said at the beginning of my contribution, this Statement could not have come at a more auspicious time and I wish to thank the maker of the Statement very much for having drawn the country's attention to this menace that is facing us. I want to emphasize once more that the Faculty of Engineering, particularly the Chemical Engineering Department of Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi looks into this matter as a matter of urgency and let us
know as soon as possible how we are going to degrade these polythene bags and recycle the material.
Most of the environmental problems now facing us, not only in the cities but also in the farming areas is the use of this material because even in my constituency which is a rural constituency, the people buy goods in these bags, consume them and throw these sacks about and they are all found on the farming lands. This is even more dangerous than what is happening in the cities because when the thing is covered underground and you plant maize or any crop and the root gets to the plastic, the crop becomes stunted and perishes.
This leads to hunger, poverty and so on. Animals that per chance swallow these plastic things suffer indigestion and die in the process. So the effect of the use of this material is so great but we are not paying much attention to it. That is why I am making this particular call so that we can find a scientific and technological solution to it as soon as possible.
Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, for your indulgence.

Maj. (Dr.) (Alhaji) Mustapha Ahmed (retd) (NDC - Ayawaso East): Mr. Speaker, it is no exaggeration at all to say that the current trends in population expansion and global environmental deterioration tend to threaten the survival of the human race and the growing numbers and activities of humans have resulted in serious pollution of the air that we breath and then our water supply systems.

It also has resulted in the loss of large tracts of arable lands as has been stated by previous contributors to the Statement already and also the depletion of forests. That is why I want to differ from the suggestion that the problem solely is because of the use of polythene bags but
Mr. John A. Ndebugre (PNC - Zebilla) 10:40 a.m.
it is mainly because of the attitudes of humans who use the polythene bags.
Already in this country, we have factories where the facilities exist for the recycling of these polythene bags. Therefore, it is for us as a people to legislate on how we can dispose very well of this non-bio- degradable objects that cause a nuisance to our environment.
Mr. Speaker, it is also regrettable that a large number of chemicals that are used by our people also tend to destroy a most important cover of our planet which is the ozone layer with the resultant increase in the incidents of non-melanomatous skin diseases like carcinomas and melanomas, especially in Caucasians.
Beyond the direct form of injury to human, the ozone depletion has also increased our exposure to ultra-violet radiation which has also serious effects on what is called the phyto-plankton which requires sunshine. When this is destroyed it affects the food chain for all the aquatic animals on which as humans we depend for a considerable portion of our food supply.
Mr. Speaker, global warming is a challenge that we all need to face up to. Our forests are being depleted; it is also said that in the polar areas, the icebergs are melting at a very fast rate thereby raising the sea levels and I believe that is the reason why we are seeing a lot of devastation in some of our coastal areas stretching from Keta, all the way to the western coast of this country. We also are seeing the expansion of desert because the forests cover is being depleted. That is why I want to differ from the suggestion that we should go back to the use of paper bags.
Mr. Speaker, the effects of the deterioration in the environment has very grave effects on our health and the litany could be continued. But it suffices to say that the deterioration has become

a life-threatening issue which we must immediately tackle. I wish to thank the maker of the Statement for making such an appropriate Statement, especially on this day.

Resourcing Members of Parliament

Mr. Stephen Amoanor Kwao (NDC -

Upper Manya): Mr. Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to make this Statement on the topic of Resourcing Members of Parliament (MPs) to perform better in their constituencies - Provision of Offices and Logistics.

Mr. Speaker, a Member of Parliament who has been elected by his constituents to represent them in the Legislature, has his role based on the contemporary issues of:

Legislative activity;

Monitoring activity;

Constituency service activity; and

Party responsibility. The Member of Parliament (MP)

at the constituency level is to render service to individual constituents and the consti-tuency as a whole. He has access to the floor of the House to make known opinions, proposals as well as grievances of constituents and seek remedies. Back home, he has to provide information on all laws passed, government programmes as well as developmental projects slated for the constituency, to enable them give him a feedback. Through him, the constituency's input into the whole governance structure is ensured.

For a Member of Parliament to perform these functions effectively at the constituency level, he needs to be well resourced. An MP needs both human and logistical resources to help in his duties.

Mr. Speaker, in terms of human resource, Members of Parliament need the services of research assistants, secretaries and personal assistants to help them in the discharge of official duties.

Members of Parliament have no constituency offices, office space, office equipment in the form of faxes, computers with printers, telephones, photocopiers, internet connectivity, laptops, scanners, motorbikes and bicycles for personal assistants to tour the constituencies to collect and collate information for the use of the Member of Parliament. These items are necessary to enhance the work of the Member of Parliament, for it is the sure way of closing the communication gap between the constituency and the Member of Parliament.

Mr. Speaker, Members of Parliament need constituency offices which would serve as a rallying point for meeting with the people.

Mr. Speaker, people tend to frown on any expenditure made by the Legislature (e.g. the public's reaction to the previous Speaker's travels and the issue of loans to MPs to buy cars for their work). Yet in the face of all these difficulties that the Member of Parliament faces, results of the Centre for Democratic Development's (CDD) Afro Barometer Survey, seemed to fault Members of Parliament for not visiting and interacting with their constituents regularly.

Coupled with this are the frequent demands made on the Member of Parliament to sponsor medical bills, school fees, look for employment for constituents, just to mention a few, any time he or she is in the constituency. The MP's Common Fund is meant for specific developmental programmes and cannot be used for such concerns. Yet there is no special package to take care of such


Mr. Speaker, for Members of Parliament to perform their functions better, I would suggest the following:

Members of Parliament should be provided with constituency offices well stocked with logistics such as computers, typewriters, printers and photocopiers to ensure smooth operations that would lay the foundation for better performance and project continuity in their constituencies.

Members of Parliament should be adequately resourced financially to enable them hire research and personal assistants.

Last but not least, Mr. Speaker, the NCCE should be adequately resourced to embark on a serious e d u c a t i o n a l d r i v e t h r o u g h constituency surgeries to let our constituents know about the actual roles and responsibilities of a Member of Parliament, the District Chief Executive, and the role of the constituents.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, I am pleading with you to use your good offices to help in the setting up of constituency offices for MPs as can be found in some countries practising parliamentary democracies, for this is a sure way of nurturing our young democracy.
Alhaji Muntaka M. Mubarak (NDC - Asawase) 10:40 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, thank you for this opportunity to commend my hon. Colleague on the Statement just made. I rise to associate myself with the Statement.
Mr. Speaker, I think this Statement is
Alhaji Muntaka M. Mubarak (NDC - Asawase) 10:50 a.m.
long overdue. If you look at the nature and the environment in which hon. Members of Parliament operate, you cannot blame but say they are doing far beyond expectation because with inadequacies such as lack of offices both at the constituencies and in the House, you look at the kind of accommodation that they have which most of us would refer to as bachelor accommodation, you look at the insecurity under which hon. Members of Parliament operate, we will agree that hon. Members of Parliament are doing the very best that they can, given the circumstances.
Mr. Speaker, I would want to take the issue of hon. Members' of Parliament security and facilities. Mr. Speaker, if an hon. Member of Parliament, for one reason or the other dies or resigns, it takes this country not less than a billion cedis to replace him. With all due respect to our hon. Ministers and District Chief Executives, if a hon. Minister or a Chief Executive is to be replaced, it takes less than ¢50 million to replace him. Yet the hon. Ministers, the Chief Executives have adequate if not even more than adequate security. But when you look at an hon. Member of Parliament, there is no security provided for an hon. Member of Parliament.
If you come to Sakumono, each block houses 16 hon. Members of Parliament. When come there in the evening, all you need to do is to walk and knock at the door and the hon. Member of Parliament opens the door. Then, you can blow his head off, using a silencer and go without anybody even noticing anyone had come into the house.
Our vehicles are at the mercy of the environment and crooks. We will all agree that during this very Sitting, vehicles belonging to three hon. Members of Parliament had been snatched from their
drivers and others had been taken away from their parking ends only to be located after a day or two. This clearly shows that security for hon. Members of Parliament is woefully inadequate.

We are not asking for individual police or bodyguards, but at least as a group we should feel safe. If you get to Sakumono in the evening, when you are coming from your constituency around 11.00 p.m., you have this heartbeat because the place is virtually dark - the roads, the streetlights, everything is off. And when you park and you are not careful and a colleague even shouts out your name, your heart jumps because you do not know who is calling you in the darkness.

I think it is very, very important that as a country we set our priorities right. We cannot just assume that because we are socially friendly people would see us as such. If an adventurer decides to test the security of Sakumono or Members of Parliament, everyone of us here would agree that it would be a terrible national disaster.

When it comes to logistics, I would want to say that it is like buying a brand new vehicle; you refuse to service it, you refuse to buy its headlight, you refuse to put good tyres on it and you say that because the vehicle is new, it can travel from Accra to Bawku -- you would be deceiving yourself. That is exactly the situation in which we find ourselves.

There is no single desk in this House, with the exception of the Chamber where a Member of Parliament can sit and scribble a note. When you come to the accommodation given us at Sakumono, not even a single sheet of paper is in the room. Meanwhile, we are supposed to sit down, read, take notes, and be able to contribute on this floor. Not a desk is in such accommodation.
Mr. Mahama Ayariga (NDC - Bawku Central) 10:50 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I believe that this Statement could not have been made at a more appropriate time.
When hon. Members of Parliament complain about their condition there is a temptation to see it in terms of salaries, but let me state here emphatically that the comments that have been made by my hon.
Colleagues do not necessarily focus on the salaries of Members of Parliament but the very conditions that would promote the efficiency and effectiveness of Parliament as a body and as an institution that is supposed to play an effective role in scrutinising the Executive and ensuring that the national purse is protected and the national programme for development is properly designed and directed.
Mr. Speaker, a number of considera- t ions need to be looked at , that Parliamentarians are the only other officers who are directly elected, just as the Office of the President. And so it is important for us to see the level that they should be positioned. But if you look at the very conditions of hon. Members of Parliament, clearly, they are terrible.
Take for instance, Zebilla as a constituency; the size of Zebilla as a constituency is the same; it is almost coterminous with the size of Zebilla as a district. But the hon. Member of Parliament for Zebilla does not have an office in Accra and he does not have an office in Zebilla and yet the District Chief Executive has a 3-storey building in Zebilla which he uses to run the affairs of the district which is almost the same size as the constituency.
Yet we expect the Member of Parliament to be as effective and efficient as the District Chief Executive, and we expect the Member of Parliament to be able to check the District Chief Executive, and indeed, also check the President and his Ministers of State. So clearly, we have not positioned ourselves in a place where we would be effective in terms of addressing the very responsibilities that have been constitutionally imposed upon us.
Mr. Speaker, my hon. Colleagues have talked about the lack of office space, the lack of equipment for us to even type, no desks for us to even sit on apart from the Chamber of the House; I would not
Mr. A. O. Aidooh 10:50 a.m.
On a point of order. Mr. Speaker, as a matter of fact, that duty has been performed. A committee has been appointed - [Uproar.]
Mr. A. O. Aidooh 10:50 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, a committee has been appointed and its report has been submitted. If the hon. Member is saying that it was not done in due time, that is a different matter; but as a matter of fact, that action has been taken. If he is of the view that it was not done in due time he has a point there.
Mr. Speaker 10:50 a.m.
Hon. Member for Bawku Central, you may take it on board.
Mr. Ayariga 10:50 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the reality is that the salaries that Members of Parliament are taking today, in very clear terms, can be determined as being
unconstitutional because they have not been determined in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution. Mr. Speaker, with your permission, I would read:
“71. (1) The salaries and allowances payable, and the facilities, and privileges available, to -
( a ) T h e S p e a k e r a n d Deputy Speakers and Members of Parliament;
X X X X 10:50 a.m.

Mr. A. O. Aidooh 11 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. Mr. Speaker, apart from provisions of the Constitution, there are conventions and -- [Interruptions.] Mr. Speaker, that aside -- [Interruptions.]
Mr. Speaker 11 a.m.
Mr. A. O. Aidooh 11 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, apart
from that this is not the first time these provisions are being operationalized. Mr. Speaker, wherever there is any Parliament, before the allowances and other benefits are determined those of the preceding Parliament are used as a basis until the benefits or salaries are determined. Therefore, to describe what he is saying as unconstitutional is without basis, both in law and in fact; because this has been the convention and the practice.
By all means hon. Members must have something and in practice and generally the allowances and other benefits of the preceding Parliament are used as bases for calculating the next one. Therefore, when Members are paid these allowances it is incomprehensible for any Member to describe them as unconstitutional.
Mr. Speaker 11 a.m.
Hon. Members,
we do not want any debate over this matter, just make comments no debate - [Interruptions.] Order! Order!
Mr. Ayariga 11 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the attempt
by my hon. Colleague to defend the President is clearly a lame one. Mr. Speaker, the President ended his first term of office without operationalizing this arrangement under the Constitution - four years.
Mr. Speaker 11 a.m.
Hon. Member for
Bawku Central, we do not want to have any debate over this matter, just comment on that, no debate.
Mr. Ayariga 11 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, it is
Mr. A. O. Aidooh 11 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the
Statement that has been made relates to the conditions of service provided for Members of Parliament. Mr. Speaker, it has nothing to do with ex-Members of Parliament and therefore the attempt to try to make a point by reaching back into history and telling us what was done or was not done in the other Parliament is very incredible. The Statement has its meaning only if it relates to this Parliament.
Mr. Speaker 11 a.m.
Hon. Member for
Bawku Central -- fresh start.
Mr. Ayariga 11 a.m.
Thank you very
much, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, as we sit today, we do not have conditions of service determined under article 71 of the Constitution, including Mr. Speaker himself - [Uproar.] The Judges of the Superior Court of Judicature - [Interruption.]
Mr. Speaker 11 a.m.
Hon. Member for
Mr. Ayariga 11 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, it is
very important that the Leadership of Parliament and in particular the leadership of the Majority, especially the Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, should be up and doing in terms of their responsibility to ensure that constitutional arrangements that will ensure that Parliament is more effective are activated. I do not think that it serves anybody's purpose to have a weak Parliament. Indeed, I am saying “weak” not because we are individually weak, but if we do not have the facilities to make us effective and efficient then ultimately it will impact and tell on our performance as Members of Parliament.
Mr. Speaker, I therefore use this
opportunity to call on the Minister for Parliamentary Affairs to be up and doing; and I strongly believe that it is these considerations that are informing the constant call on his Ministry to be abolished. [Hear! Hear!] Mr. Speaker, I believe that if he proves more effective in this regard and Parliament becomes more effective, we will begin to see the relevance of his Ministry as a body that is supposed to co-ordinate the relationship between the Executive and the Legislature.
Mr. Speaker, on that note, I wish to identify with the Statement that has been made by my hon. Colleague.
Dr. A. A. Osei 11 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I want
Dr. A. A. Osei 11 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, and
Mr. Speaker 11 a.m.
Order! Order!
Mr. Speaker 11 a.m.
Hon. Member for
Jomoro, do you have a point of order to raise?
Mr. Ocran 11 a.m.
That is so, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker, my hon. Friend there is saying that we came here because of coups d'etat -- [Laughter] - we are in this House because of coups d'etat. May I know from him which coup? The 1966 coup? The 1972 coup? The 1981 coup or what coup? Can he tell us?
Dr. A. A. Osei 11 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, my good
Friend is misleading the House. I did not say we got here because of a coup d'etat. I said the only reason you and I are in this state of affairs is because of coups d'etat, and I will demonstrate that.
Mr. Speaker, every time there is a coup d'etat we still have an Executive -- 1979, 1966 and 1981 - [Uproar.] [Some hon. Members: 1966 !] Mr. Speaker, on a very serious note, Members should remind themselves that every time there is an interruption in government we always have a new Executive; we always have a Judiciary in place; the only group that either goes to jail or outside to Lagos, everywhere, is the Legislature - [Interruption.]
Mr. E. K. D. Adjaho 11 a.m.
Mr. Speaker,
our Standing Orders are very clear. When a Statement is made, comments are supposed to be made, but they are not supposed to provoke debate; and therefore the hon. Member should be guided accordingly.
Dr. A. A. Osei 11 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I am not
provoking a debate; I am tracing historical facts. He may choose to believe it.
Mr. Speaker 11 a.m.
Order! Order! Hon.
Deputy Minister, order, please! Let us have quiet. As I have always indicated, this is not meant to be a time for debate, only comments, please.
Dr. A. A. Osei 11:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, thank
you very much. Mr. Speaker, I am trying to remind hon. Members of Parliament about the importance of making sure that we continue to survive. That is the point. Democracy is the only way that his conditions of service and mine can be improved; and I am saying that we have had the history of interruptions which have sent our former Colleagues elsewhere.
I want hon. Members to assure ourselves that so long as we have been elected to come here, then we have to continue to practise democracy to be able to improve the conditions of service; otherwise if we support directly or indirectly any -- without mentioning names any form of
undemocratic changes in government, we will continue to be in this state.
So Mr. Speaker, we all want better conditions of service; as my hon. Colleague said, we are the only ones that have been truly elected by the people, with their thumb. Unless we remind ourselves of this fact then talking about conditions of service will be immaterial because somebody somewhere, be it 1966, be it 1979, be it 1981, will change our conditions of service. And hon. Members know that this is a fact. So we should be conscious of our duties; that is the only way we can improve our conditions.

Mr. Speaker, I therefore join my hon.

Colleague on the other side in making this very important Statement, but I want him to remind himself as to why we are in this condition.
Mr. Speaker 11:10 a.m.
Hon. Members, at the
Commencement of Public Business -- Item 4 - Laying of Papers. Hon. Chairman of the Committee on Appointments?
Mr. A. O. Aidooh 11:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the
hon. Chairman is not in the Chamber. But I am aware that the Committee is considering the Report - [Interrup-tions.] The Committee is yet to consider the Report. So if we can have that business done tomorrow morning.
Mr. Speaker 11:10 a.m.
So should we defer it?
Mr. A. O. Aidooh 11:10 a.m.
Yes, Mr. Speaker,
till tomorrow morning.
Mr. Speaker 11:10 a.m.
Item 5 - Motion.
Hon. Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, you may wind up.
MOTIONS 11:10 a.m.

  • [Resumption of debate from 2nd June 2006]
  • Chairman of the Committee (Mr. Samuel Sallas-Mensah) 11:10 a.m.
    Mr. Speaker, I thought you would give one or two more hon. Members the opportunity to contribute to the debate, but if you say I should wind up, I will do so.
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank all hon. Members who took part in this debate last Friday; it was quite encouraging.
    But Mr. Speaker, hon. Members com-
    mented on the Committee's Report -- For example, this Report we are discussing was laid last year and we are taking it this year. This is due to lack of committee rooms for hon. Members of this Committee to do their work regularly.
    Mr. Speaker, as of now, we have only one committee room which can conveniently hold Public Accounts Committee meetings, that is your conference room. And Mr. Speaker, as you know, your conference room is a very busy room, to the extent that even Parliamentary Service Board meetings take precedence over our committee
    meetings. That is why the Report comes to the House very, very late.
    Mr. Speaker, we want to bring to your attention that the Committee has actually decided to have its deliberations in public, according to Standing Order 199, to make our work very effective and for the public to see what kind of work we do in the Public Accounts Committee.
    Mr. Speaker, after motions have been adopted in this House on our reports, that is the end of the proceedings. Mr. Speaker, I would like to bring to the notice of the Clerk's Office that all recommendations adopted in our Reports should be communicated to the various Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) for prompt action, and a copy of that letter should be made available to the Clerk of the Committee.
    Mr. Speaker, with these few words, I would like to urge hon. Members of this House to adopt this motion without any reservations.
    Question put and motion agreed to.
    Resolved accordingly.
    Mr. Speaker 11:10 a.m.
    Item 6 - Committee sittings.
    Mr. A. O. Aidooh 11:10 a.m.
    Mr. Speaker, before we adjourn, I wish to invite hon. Members who have filed amendments in respect of the Persons With Disability Bill to attend the winnowing session at the office of the Leader of the House soon after adjournment.
    Mr. Speaker, I now beg to move, that this House do now adjourn till tomorrow morning at ten o'clock.
    Mr. E. K. D. Adjaho 11:10 a.m.
    Mr. Speaker, I beg to second the motion.
    Question put and motion agreed to.
    ADJOURNMENT 11:10 a.m.

  • The House was accordingly adjourned at 11.15 a.m. till 7th June 2006 at 10.00 a.m.