Debates of 29 Jun 2006

PRAYERS 10 a.m.



Mr. Speaker 10 a.m.
Order! Order!
Communication from the President.
“25th June 2006
Absence from Ghana
In accordance with Article 59 of the Constitution, I John Agyekum Kufuor, President of the Republic of Ghana, wish to notify you and Parliament that I shall be travelling to Banjul, The Gambia to attend the 7th Ordinary Session of Assembly of Heads of State and Government.
I shall depart from Ghana on the 30th of June 2006 and return on the 2nd day of July, 2006.
Pursuant to Article 60 (8) of the Constitution, the Vice-President shall act in my absence.


OF GHANA 10 a.m.





CASTLE, OSU 10 a.m.

Mr. Speaker 10 a.m.
Hon. Members, we will now move to item 4 -- Questions -- Minister for Health.
Mr. Abraham Ossei Aidooh 10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, may we seek your permission
to allow the Deputy Minister for Health to answer the Questions on behalf of the Minister.
Mr. Speaker 10 a.m.
All right. Deputy
Minister for Health.


Mr. Speaker 10 a.m.
Question No. 284, hon. Kofi Frimpong, Member of Parliament for Kwabre East -- [Pause.] Question No. 286, hon. John Gyetuah (Amenfi West).
Mr. E. K. D. Adjaho 10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I just need your guidance; we have an Urgent Question there.
Mr. Speaker 10 a.m.
Yes, we have an Urgent Question there but it does not appear the Minister is in, that is why I have called the Deputy Minister for Health. We will deal with it later; that is the reason.
Mr. Adjaho 10 a.m.
It is clear, Mr. Speaker; I understand.
Mr. Speaker 10 a.m.
Hon. Member for Amenfi West, you may ask your Question.
Four-Unit Asankragwa Nurses Quarters (Completion)
Q. 286. Mr. John Gyetuah asked the Minister for Health what steps the Ministry was taking to ensure the completion of the four-unit nurses quarters at Asankragwa, the district capital of Amenfi West.
Mr. Samuel Owusu-Agyei (on behalf of the Minister for Health) 10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the construction of the four-unit nurses quarters at Asankragwa was started in July 1999 under the Public Investment Programme (PIP) of the Government. Work progressed to lintel level and the project was abandoned in 2000 when
the regional health directorate could not secure a commencement certificate to continue work.
However, in September 2005, the project was reactivated through funding from the Need-Based Budget of the Ghana Health Service. Work is currently ongoing and has progressed to the stage where roofing, plastering and wiring have been completed.
Budgetary provision for the completion of work was made in the Ministry's 2006 budget. However, the fund approved in the Capital Investment Vote was insufficient to settle the outstanding claims for work done and for the completion of the project. The project will again be captured in the Ministry's 2007 budget.
Mr. Gyetuah 10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I want to find out from the Minister, what has been the cause of delay in capturing this programme.
Mr. Owusu-Agyei 10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I
would like to respond that the Ministry of Health is a very big sector and there are several projects which are ongoing. But as we all know, funding is limited. So it is not possible to provide adequately to complete all ongoing projects at the same time. That is the reason why we have to prioritize our projects and then see those that have to be completed within any particular fiscal year.
Mr. Gyetuah 10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, according to the Minister, the fund approved in the Capital Investment Vote was insufficient to settle the outstanding claims for work done and for the completion of the project. I want to find out from the Minister how much was approved.
Mr. Owusu-Agyei 10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I do not have that information with me right now. But the fact is that at the time that the budget was being prepared last year, there was no knowledge of the level of

outstanding claims that we had on that particular project. The outstanding claims came after the budget had been prepared and most of these -- as you are aware, it is getting to the end of the year and it is in the first quarter of the ensuing year that we have claims prepared and then submitted to any sector at all.

So by the end of any particular year, you may not necessarily have knowledge of the level of outstanding claims that you have on a new project. Normally, it is in the first quarter of the ensuing year that we have knowledge of outstanding claims.

That is the reason why I am saying that the provision made -- I do not have the figure right now with me, but I can get that for the hon. Member later -- is not adequate to pay the outstanding claims which were received after the budget had been determined last year as well as the continuation of work for this year. But the fact remains that we have captured the project in next year's budget and it will continue to be executed.
Mr. Gyetuah 10:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I want to
find out from the hon. Minister whether the contractor on site has been paid for the work so far executed.
Mr. Owusu-Agyei 10:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, to
the best of my knowledge, work done up to the point has been paid for. I do not know whether there is any current bill outstanding; I have to find that out. I can check that information and let him know.
The Sefwi-Wiawso Government Hospital
Q. 469. Mr. Evans Paul Aidoo asked the Minister for Health when work on the second phase of the Sefwi- Wiawso Government Hospital involving

construction of Children's Ward, Isolation Ward, Maternity Ward, kitchen and laundry would begin.
Mr. Owusu-Agyei 10:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the second phase of the Sefwi-Wiawso District Hospital has been planned to be completed with funding from ORET, a Dutch Funding Agency. Currently, the preparatory design works are being done.
The Ministry cannot determine when the ORET approval will be given since this is entirely dependent on the Dutch Agency. But the Ministry is pursuing this particular funding source so that immediately we obtain the funds the project would be executed.
Mr. Gyetuah 10:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, is the hon.
Deputy Minister saying that if for twenty years the Government is not securing a loan from a particular source, the second phase of the Sefwi-Wiawso Government Hospital will not start?
Mr. Owusu-Agyei 10:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I
think we are all aware of the advantages of obtaining foreign funding for a project. It turns out to be a turn-key project and funding does not become a constraint, so long as we have the money there for executing the project. We are not saying that it will go beyond a certain time-frame. I think that by the end of the year, we should be able to give the hon. Member a firm indication as to when we are going to obtain funding from ORET.
Mr. Gyetuah 10:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to know from the hon. Minister whether the design works, which were done in 1999, have been abandoned.
Mr. Owusu-Agyei 10:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the
fact is that design works done some years back would be outmoded or outdated and
would need to be changed. And so there is the need for the design works to be reviewed. It is not a matter of abandoning the design works already done, but there is a need for review. If one does any design work and it stays for even one year, it needs change; and so there will be the need that we may have to review the design works already done.
Also, in the light of the fact that we have increased attendance at health facilities because of the implementation of the National Health Insurance Scheme, definitely, the demands of that particular facility would be greater than at the time that the design was made. So there is the need really for the design to be reviewed.
Mr. Evans Paul Aidoo 10:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker,
the first phase of the Sefwi-Wiaso Government Hospital was completed and commissioned in May, 2000. Would the hon. Minister agree with me that the present administration seems not to have immediate plans for the construction of the hospital?
Mr. Owusu-Agyei 10:10 a.m.
I would like to
say that I have visited the hospital myself -- sometime last year -- and so I do not necessarily agree with him.
Mr. A. W. G. Abayateye 10:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker,
I refer to a portion of the Answer provided by the hon. Deputy Minister, and with your permission, I quote:
“The Ministry cannot determine when the ORET approval will be given since this is entirely dependent on the Dutch Agency.”
So from the above answer, I want to ask the hon. Minister, whether looking at the strategic position of that hospital, whose coverage area is very big, the Ministry cannot source funds locally to construct the maternity ward, the children's ward

and the isolation ward?
Mr. Owusu-Agyei 10:10 a.m.
I would like to
assure the hon. Member that we are exploring all sources of funding. It does not necessarily mean that if we are unable to obtain the ORET funding, that should be the end of the game. We are exploring all sources, including Ghana Government sources.
Mr. Yieleh Chireh 10:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I am
still not happy with the response given. One may take note of the fact that the former Minister for Health, around the year 2001, also comes from the town; and there seems to be no Government commitment at all.
Why is the Ministry not thinking about
budgeting properly for some aspects of this work going on? It will not be fair to abandon it just at the first phase. At least, if budgetary allocation is made, it may be minimal but it can do something. Can the Ministry not do that?
Mr. Speaker 10:10 a.m.
Hon. Member for Wa
West, this is not a supplementary question.
Mr. E. K. D. Adjaho 10:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker,
the hon. Deputy Minister was categorical in stating that funding will come from ORET; and yet he comes to tell us at the conclusion of his Answer that he cannot determine whether funding is there or not. What is the level of negotiations and what made him say categorically that funding will come from them and yet he is not able to tell this House when that funding will be made available? What is the level of negotiation, if any?
Mr. Owusu-Agyei 10:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I
would like to assure my hon. Colleague that negotiations have been going on. I cannot give an indication here immediately as to when we are going to receive the funding -- either this year or next year. But the
indication given me is that it would be sooner than later. There are negotiations going on not only on this project but also other projects with ORET funding.
So I would want to assure hon. Members that even if we are unable to secure the funding from ORET this year, we are now in the process of preparing the year 2007 budget. There is no reason why if there are some urgent aspects of the project, just as my other Colleague asked, we cannot provide for those very urgent aspects of that particular project in this year's budget from Ghana Government's own resources. So I should say that we are exploring both sources.
It is possible that even by the time this year's budget is prepared, there may be some aspects of that particular project -- very urgent components -- that may be catered for from Government of Ghana sources. But concerning the ORET funding, I can obtain the status of negotiation and then let the hon. Member know in due course.
Mr. Adjaho 10:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I want to find out from the hon. Minister whether he is aware that in answering this particular Question, he has given three assurances to this honourable House.
Mr. Speaker 10:20 a.m.
Hon. Deputy Minister,
you have not been called upon to answer this question. [Laughter.] Hon. Deputy Minister for Health, you are now called upon to answer.
Mr. Owusu-Agyei 10:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I
want to assure my hon. Colleague that I am giving indication to the House that the funding will come. And I want to
Mr. Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 10:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the hon. Deputy Minister gave an earlier indication that if they are unable to access the ORET funding this year, they are in the process of preparing the budget for next year; which seems to suggest that failing to attract the ORET funding for this year, next year, they will accommodate it in their budget. But in the last answer, he says that in the short-term, they are taking measures to ensure that they get it.
Mr. Speaker, what does he mean by “short-term”? Is the short-term the same thing as the end of the year, so that the hon. Member could have the assurance that definitely next year, it would receive funding in one way or the other?
Mr. Owusu-Agyei 10:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker,
“short-term” depends really on the interpretation you put on it. We have short, medium and long-terms. Short-term could be a period from any moment to about three years. Medium-term could be three to five years; and then long-term, a period of over five years.
Ambulance for Bimbilla Hospital
Q. 478. Mr. Ibn Mohammed Abass asked the Minister for Health when an ambulance would be supplied to the Nanumba North District Hospital at Bimbilla.
Mr. Owusu-Agyei 10:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I
would like to state that with the creation
of new districts, the Bimbilla Hospital is the same as the Nanumba North District Hospital at Bimbilla. I do not know whether the two Questions were asked simultaneously but I want the hon. Member to know that it is the same hospital that he is referring to; they are not two different hospitals.
The National Ambulance Service has a programme for the distribution of ambulances to the various health facilities. Currently, GAS has taken delivery of 91 new ambulances and will be distributed to the various health facilities according to criteria developed with the Ghana Health Service and other stakeholders. The criteria for allocation include:
Major highways and accident prone locations;
All regional capitals;
Districts without ambulances;
Level of deprivation in terms of health facilities;
Strategic location of a district in relation to road traffic accidents, et cetera.
The Bimbilla Hospital in the Nanumba North District has been earmarked in the programme to receive one (1) ambulance soon.
Mr. Abass 10:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, may I request the hon. Minister to give some clarification on the National Ambulance Service (NAS) and the Ghana Ambulance Service (GAS). The “GAS” is referred to as what?
Mr. Owusu-Agyei 10:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I
would like to explain. The “GAS” should change to “NAS”. Previously, we had the Ghana Ambulance Service which was set up purposely to cover emergency cases; and the pilot programme has already
started. It started about a year ago. Then we also had facility ambulances. These are the ambulances in hospitals, polyclinics. Now, we have merged the two. The NAS is also taking care of facility ambulances so we do not have the GAS anymore. We now have the NAS taking care of both what used to be the GAS and then the facility ambulances.
Mr. Abass 10:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the hon. Minister, indicated that the NAS had received 91 new ambulances. Does this consignment include 50 ambulances that the Ministry took delivery of last year?
Mr. Owusu-Agyei 10:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker,
if I got the question correctly, he wants to know whether the 91 included the 50 which had been in already. Yes, they include the 50 -- fifty, plus another 41 that we have taken delivery of.
Mr. Abass 10:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I am interested in how soon the Bimbilla Hospital would have an ambulance but the hon. Minister says that there is a programme for Bimbilla to get one soon. How soon is soon? I want the hon. Minister to be specific.
Mr. Owusu-Agyei 10:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I
would like to assure the hon. Member that if he wants to know how soon, very soon. I will go along with him -- [Laughter] --and deliver the vehicle to him to convey to his constituency.
Nii Amasah Namoale: Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the hon. Minister whether he can give us a specific date or a specific time or a specific period that the mission can be accomplished.
Mr. Owusu-Agyei 10:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I
would like to assure the hon. Member that I had to attend a meeting outside the country last week. And before I left, we even had a discussion on distribution; that is the regional distribution of the remaining 41 which we have received. So I want to tell the hon. Member that the vehicles are there. Probably, the hon. Colleague is so anxious to receive the

ambulance in his health facility. I would make sure that probably, within a matter of a week or so, we will let him know when the vehicle would go there; and then he could follow up to his constituency.
Mr. J. A. Tia 10:30 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I want to know from the hon. Deputy Minister when the 50 ambulances were received. In answer to a supplementary question, he said that the 91 included 50 which were received earlier. I want to know when they were received and whether they have been distributed.
Mr. Owusu-Agyei 10:30 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the 50 Peugeot ambulances were received last year, but it was detected that there were some faults in the construction of the vans so the company was asked to rectify those faults; and they are being done. They were received last year and not this year. But they have not been distributed because there were defects in the vehicles. I think he is aware. Mr. Speaker, the defects are being corrected and as soon as they are completed, they would be distributed to the health facilities.
Mr. Tia 10:30 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, when were the 41 additional ambulances received; and what is their state? He mentioned 91 ambulances. He said he received 50 last year and then 41. When did he receive the 41 and what is their state? When did you receive them and what is their condition now?
Mr. Owusu-Agyei 10:30 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the additional 41 ambulances were received just recently and we do not want a situation where the facilities there will require the ambulances -- I think he is asking me how soon. They have just been received and if there is any delay in the distribution, we have to determine the distribution in consultation with other

stakeholders. The Ministry alone cannot do the distribution without consulting with the health facilities, the Regional Health Directors and then other collaborators. That is the reason why they have not been distributed but very soon they are going to be distributed.
Mr. Speaker 10:30 a.m.
Deputy Minister for Health, thank you very much for appearing to answer these Questions.
Mr. A. O. Aidooh 10:30 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, there is one question in the name of -- [Interruption.]
Mr. Speaker 10:30 a.m.
Are you asking a supplementary question?
Mr. A. O. Aidooh 10:30 a.m.
No, sir.
Mr. Speaker 10:30 a.m.
Then let me discharge him.
Mr. A. O. Aidooh 10:30 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, there is one Question in the name of the hon. Member for Kwabre East.
Mr. Speaker 10:30 a.m.
Yes, I know. But he has dealt with that Question?
Mr. A. O. Aidooh 10:30 a.m.
No, sir. He has not. The hon. Member is not in and I have just had a call that he has authorized the hon. Member for Adenta --
Mr. Speaker 10:30 a.m.
Let him come properly.
Hon. Deputy Minister for Health, thank you very much for appearing to answer these Questions.


AGRICULTURE 10:30 a.m.

Minister for Food and Agriculture (Mr. E. A. Debrah) 10:30 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the Afife Irrigation Scheme has been designed such that excess water is drained into the Keta Lagoon, but the irrigation farmlands and the lagoon are at the same level. This makes it very difficult to have natural drainage of the excess water into the lagoon.
To stop the back flow of water, a retaining wall with a sluice gate and a pump were incorporated into the design. The pump assists in increasing the rate of drainage of excess water from the farming area into the lagoon side of the sluice gate. Unfortunately, the old pump has broken down. When the gate is closed, it prevents the flow of water from the lagoon unto the farmland. The gate is however opened when the flow of water from the farmland to the lagoon is possible.
Mr. Speaker, the Afife Irrigation Scheme is one of the nine irrigation schemes that are presently being rehabilitated. The drainage canals of Afife are choked with vegetation and this impedes water flow into the canals. Rehabilitation works include the cleaning of the drainage canals to speed up the drainage of excess water from the farmlands.
Additionally, a new pump is also being installed as part of the rehabilitation to speed up the drainage of excess water from the farmland. The spillage this year from the reservoir has been exceptional and the absence of a big pump to increase the rate of excess water drainage from the farmland to the lagoon side of the gate has
created the present problem.
Mr. Speaker, my Ministry has taken note of this exceptional case and I wish to assure the hon. Member that the situation will be corrected after rehabilitation which is scheduled to be completed by the end of October this year.
Mr. Avedzi 10:30 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I have listened to the Answer the hon. Minister has given but the exact question is: what is he doing to enable the farmers replant their crops this year?
Mr. Debrah 10:30 a.m.
Meanwhile, before installing the big pump that is incorporated in the design, four small pumps currently have been sent to the area and they are pumping the water out.
Mr. Avedzi 10:30 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, after the water had left the farm, there was the need for mechanized works to be done on the plots; that is the harrowing and planting the seedlings for the farmers. The information I received was that it cost each farmer ¢1.2 million to replant the crops. Is he aware of this? If he is aware, what help is the Ministry going to give to these poor farmers?
Mr. Debrah 10:30 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, natural disasters do occur. This year, the rainfall at the place was exceptional hence the problem created. I am not aware that it costs ¢1.2 million to replant the area, but when we have drained the place and we come to realize the problem, we will sit down with the farmers and see how best we can support them.
Mr. Avedzi 10:30 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, when the farm was flooded, I visited the farm and what I saw and observed myself was that the main Aflao road was the main cause of the flooding; because when the water leaves the reservoir, there must be a channel for the water to pass into the Keta Lagoon. But there is only one bridge under which the water passes and this bridge is

so narrow that the water cannot disappear from the farm within a short time.

I would like to suggest to the hon. Minister if he could collaborate with the hon. Minister for Transportation so that when they are constructing that corridor of the road, they would make provision for series of bridges so that when the floods come to the farm, they can easily pass under the bridge and go into the Keta Lagoon; and in that way, disappear from the farms within two or three days.

If the water comes and disappears from the farms within a week, the farms will not be affected. But as it is now, because the volume of the water on the farm is so large, it cannot disappear quickly. So I would like to suggest to the hon. Minister to collaborate with the Minister for Transportation so that they provide bridges on that road.
Mr. Speaker 10:40 a.m.
Hon. Member for Ketu North, are you asking a question or you are making a suggestion?
Mr. Avedzi 10:40 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the question is, will he consider collaborating with the Minister for Road Transport to provide bridges on that corridor of the road?
Mr. Debrah 10:40 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I think this is an area for engineers; and I am not an engineer. I will inform the irrigation engineers to liaise with the Ministry of Road Transport engineers to see how best they can incorporate what he is saying into the design of the new road.
Mr. Adjaho 10:40 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I want to find out from the hon. Minister whether he intends paying a working visit to the Afife Irrigation Dam and indeed all the other dams like the one at Akatsi, Ave Afiadenyigba and Atsidzive which have been damaged as a result of the recent
Mr. Debrah 10:40 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I make visits to dam sites, to farms, to livestock farms, to damaged dams -- [Interrup- tions.] I say I do make visits to all these places so I will make visits to those areas in due course.
Mr. Speaker 10:40 a.m.
Minister for Food and Agriculture, thank you very much for appearing to answer this Urgent Question. You are hereby discharged.
Hon. Members, we shall take item 5 later. At the Commencement of Public Business -- item 6 -- Laying of Papers -- Minister for Parliamentary Affairs.
Mr. A. O. Aidooh 10:40 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, may we seek permission for the Minister for Water Resources, Works and Housing to lay the Paper on behalf of the Minister for Parliamentary Affairs?
Mr. Speaker 10:40 a.m.
Yes, you may do so.
PAPERS 10:40 a.m.

STATEMENTS 10:40 a.m.

Ms. Akua Sena Dansua (NDC -- North Dayi) 10:40 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, it is with great
excitement that I make this Statement, which among others is to eulogise Ghana's 2005 Best Journalist, Ms. Peggy Ama Donkor who also won the best Features Writer, Television, award.
Mr. Speaker, my excitement is for three reasons; first, because after a long break, a fine, simple and unassuming woman is the winner of this covetous award; second, because Peggy is a person with disability who vividly portrays to Ghanaians with disability that, disability is not inability; and the third reason is the fact that Peggy has broken the jinx surrounding the “best journalist of the year” award, which for several years was won by able-bodied male journalists.
Mr. Speaker, as a distinguished professional female jourrnalist myself, I feel very proud of Ms. Peggy Ama Donkor and I hope my colleague journalists in this august House and particularly my colleague women MPs will join me in applauding this landmark achievement of Peggy.
Mr. First Deputy Speaker 10:50 a.m.
Please, speak a little louder, I cannot hear you.
Maj. (Dr.) (Alhaji) Ahmed (retd) : Mr. Speaker, I said it is this august House that amended the Law and not the National Patriotic Party.

Mr. Speaker, having said that, I would concede to him that it was this august House, this Parliament, made up of the New Patriotic Party as the ruling Government and my hon. Colleagues on the other side, those from the National Democratic Congress (NDC), that passed the Law, I concede.

Mr. Speaker, I think that members of the inky fraternity, the practitioners of journalism, must remember at every point in time that their victims are at the receiving end. Some of them rush to publish matter which they have not taken pain to crosscheck. You will be sleeping in your house and then you would hear your name on the radio as having said something, an allegation that has not been crosschecked.

Mr. Speaker, you will see your name on

the front page -- banner headline -- on an allegation they have not cross- checked; it is as if somebody is chasing them to publish something, for whatever interest, nobody can tell. And then when you are so damaged, seriously, Mr. Speaker, the only thing you can do is to go to court or the National Media Commission and then they would say, “we write an apology, we retract”, meanwhile, the damage has been done forever.

Mr. Speaker, today as I speak here, because of information technology anything that is published in the newspaper goes all over the world within a matter of hours. This paper I am holding, I can be sure that right now, as I speak, people in Australia, or Iceland are reading it. So Mr. Speaker, I think that our friends in the media -- Mr. Speaker, we need them, we need them to inform the public, to entertain the public and to educate the public. Mr. Speaker, we need them. But we do not need the irresponsible ones; that is why we have rules and regulations.

Mr. Speaker, I do not want to speak for too long so I would only say that I pray that the leadership of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), their own executives should enforce their ethics, they should enforce their code of conduct and they should discipline themselves. I am looking forward to the day when GJA would announce that on their own they have identified a particular journalist as being irresponsible or reckless or negligent and therefore they are sanctioning him.

Mr. Speaker, I am a member of the Ghana Bar Association and we of the Bar have our own disciplinary code of conduct and there are instances where the Ghana Bar Association can impose a disciplinary measure on an offending lawyer, and in fact, that lawyer's licence as a practitioner can be withdrawn.

I expect the Ghana Journalists
Mr. First Deputy Speaker 11 a.m.

Association to also monitor the activities of their members so that we would not have any -- permit me to use the word -- “joker” ascending a radio station, calling himself a journalist and picking somebody, be he a Member of Parliament, a politician, an assemblyman, a civil servant, or merely picking on a Ghanaian citizen and then use the power of the radio or the power of the pen or the power of the television camera -- [Hear! Hear!] -- to just put the person in a mess. Some people are known to have committed suicide because of such damage. Mr. Speaker, it is not a small matter we are talking about and journalists must begin to address this problem themselves.

Mr. Speaker, I keep saying all the time -- and permit me to use this example -- that some of us think that America is the freest society on earth. But Mr. Speaker, go to America and write one word -- not even a sentence, not even a phrase -- publish one word and damage somebody; you would regret the day you were born -- [Hear! Hear!] But here, in the name of licence, in the name of freedom, we have all manner of publications creating problems for everybody.

So Mr. Speaker, with these few words, I associate myself with the Statement made by my dear Friend.

Mr. Haruna Iddrisu (NDC -- Tamale

South): Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, for the opportunity to associate myself with the Statement on the floor which focuses on journalism and in particular to congratulate the likes of Peggy Ama Donkor for demonstrating that disability is not necessarily an impediment in contributing to national development.

While I would want to commend the hon. Member who made the Statement, Mr. Speaker, I would like to raise some very interesting issues, first of all, the need for this House to consider a piece of legislation that will generally govern broadcasting. We do not have a broadcasting law as a country. And sometimes when you take radio stations in particular, when they are given the medium to practise, we do not monitor to check the limitations, for instance, to what extent should 93.5 extend its mandate and whether it should go beyond a particular area or not. This is happening largely because of the lack of legislation on broadcasting and I think that this House, encouraged by this Statement, must be considering a broadcasting legislation to govern and direct broadcasting in particular in this country.

Mr. Speaker, when you look at journalism in general -- and I entirely agree with hon. Capt. Nkrabeah Effah- Dartey (retd). I think that many of the journalists in this country have abandoned objectivity and responsibility. As much as I agree that the Criminal Libel Law was repealed, I think that undoubtedly citizens of Ghana still have opportunity to contest issues about reputation in the court, maybe, capitalizing on civil actions.

But Mr. Speaker, as much as we have not criminalized libel, I think that we have commercialized it. If you look at the judgments of the courts in recent times, most newspapers have had to fold up or their properties sold out because of their inability to pay associated cost.

As much I agree that reputation needs to be protected, because sometimes it takes several years, for instance, to build one's reputation, but it takes the carelessness or recklessness of an editor or a radio journalist, just within seconds, to destroy that reputation for good. And it will take time, sometimes, in order to regain or even repair one's hard-won reputation.

It is in that direction that I would want to call on Ghanaian journalists, in particular, to be circumspect in their reportage and sometimes to be guided, not to be hasty in their reportage.

As the hon. Member for Berekum said, sometimes when they get the report, it takes just a telephone call to contact -- If it is a public officer in the capacity of a Minister or a Member of Parliament, they can verify the source of the story in order to establish the credibility of the story. But sometimes, with some reluctance, they are either unwilling or not ready to consult and therefore go ahead with publications that end up not being creditworthy, unreliable and at the same time damaging the respect and reputation of a particular public official.

Mr. Speaker, if you look at even

Parliament, I am aware that most Members of Parliament suffer at the level of their constituencies because I think that the reportage of the proceedings of Parliament is not sufficient enough. My understanding is that Parliament is even considering setting up a radio station of its own, which may not be necessary. What we need, in fact, is a dedicated service.

But Mr. Speaker, the journalists and media people who come here to report -- take, for instance the state-owned Ghana Television, -- And I would want to relate this to the point I made; most constituents are critical of their Members of Parliament not because they do not hear them but because they are not reported on. If you take, for instance, television reportage,

I am sure and I would not hesitate in commending a television station like TV3.

In terms of television coverage of the proceedings of this House, I think they stand above all other television stations in this country -- [Interruption.] It is my opinion -- the hon. Member may contest it, but I think that TV3 stands above board. I am sure if Ghana Television was doing same most Members of Parliament will not suffer at the level of their constituencies that “We do not see you, we do not hear”, the popular thing which is said about even Members of Parliament who make meaningful contributions -- they are not heard.

Talking about TV3, I may have a personal judgment again. In terms of radio reporting, Joy FM also stands above board. They monitor the proceedings of Parliament and give report on them. In terms of the local languages, I think that Peace FM is doing creditably well in making sure that Parliament is heard outside these corridors. I am saying this because I am personally dissatisfied with the role of Ghana Television because they have nationwide coverage and there are many areas in this country where they could only be heard.

But Mr. Speaker, I say so recognizing the contribution of all other print media. For instance, in terms of the print, I think I can also give some value judgment in favour of The Chronicle. If you take The Chronicle -- of late the Daily Graphic is matching up to it. That is based on my observation of their performance.

Mr. Speaker, I think that while commending their efforts, it is important that our journalists are guided. Sometimes they are judgmental, Mr. Speaker, and that is my greatest worry with Ghanaian journalists. By their ethics, they are supposed to set the issues as it should be and not give judgments in many instances.
Mr. First Deputy Speaker 11:10 a.m.
But sometimes, Mr. Speaker, our journalists do not research. For instance, there is confusion over Millennium Challenge Account, whether the amount is fifty million or five hundred million, whether you are hearing it from a good source or a bad source, the media people, if they are interested, can do further research in order to establish the veracity of any statement whether it is made by an opposition Member of Parliament or a public official. But they do not show any interest and leave the public wondering as to who may be stating the truth or who may be saying something that is credible.
Mr. Speake, finally, I would want to commend the hon. Member who made the Statement and then call on the Ghana Journalists Association to do more in- service training in order to enhance the capacity of our journalists. In doing so, I must also recognize the contribution of Friedrich Ebert Foundation in terms of supporting the media landscape. There is no doubt that since the liberalization of the media, following the promulgation of the 1992 Constitution, we have, as a country, made significant strides in terms of broadening the opportunities.
But Mr. Speaker, even by the constitutional provision on freedom of the media, article 162, like any other constitutional provision, the right to free press is not absolute; it is subject to public morality, national security and the important obligation of protecting the reputation of persons, especially public officials. We see them rushing to the courts to defend themselves on the basis of fair comment, privilege and other things.
Mr. Speaker, our journalists have been circumspect; I think that in Ghana, as the
Fourth Estate of the Realm, the media has contributed tremendously to Ghana's democratic development and we are now the envy of many other African countries. The media can do better if they become more circumspect and more objective and non-judgmental in their reportage.
With these few comments, Mr. Speaker, I support the Statement and congratulate the hon. Member who made the Statement.

Deputy Minister for Trade, Industry, Private Sector & PSI (Mrs Gifty Ohene- Konadu): I thank you, Mr. Speaker, for giving me the opportunity to associate myself with the maker of the Statement.

Mr. Speaker, I am looking at the Statement from the gender perspective. Peggy Ama Donkor's achievement points to the fact that the noise that women have been making all these years has not been in vain. Empowering women to take their rightful position is now yielding very fruitful results and I will urge us all to continue to support women to reach greater heights. Peggy has achieved this height because she did not experience any form of intimidation or harassment from her colleagues, especially the male colleagues,

I would like to ask all men in both

public and private institutions to support women to reach heights that we can all be proud of like the one we are experiencing today.

With these few words, Mr. Speaker, I want to associate myself with the maker of the Statement and to wish Peggy well.
Mr. E. T. Mensah (NDC -- Ningo Prampram) 11:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I will be very brief. Mr. Speaker, I first of all wish to commend the maker of the Statement and also speak to some of the issues that she raised, the question of mercenaries in the profession and terrorism. In another light hon. Effah-Dartey talked about freedom.
When you go to -- I read something by one important writer in the United State of America (USA); he raised the issue about freedom that there is no absolute freedom anywhere. He said that when he saw the “Statue of Liberty” standing at the east end of the U.S.A., he told himself that there was the need for “statue of responsibility” at the western end as well. Even though it is not there physically, it is something which reigns in the United States of America. You cannot just go out there and run people down without facing the music. So the impression that we have here that there is so much freedom in America, there is so much freedom out there and we need to have the same, we have to look at the issue again once we are in this trade. And then the hon. Member for Tamale South talked about education which ran through the Statement.
We are told that the journalist is to
educate, inform and entertain. If you are not educated on a subject yourself, you cannot inform anybody on the subject; you cannot educate anybody on the subject. If you are not well informed on the issue that is on floor, there is no way you can inform anybody. If you want to entertain people and you see an audience that does not understand Adowa and you go out there just to perform because you want to perform, it is a problem. So I agree with the maker of the Statement that the GJA should organize seminars and workshops to inform and educate our journalists.
The GJA, I agree with hon. Effah- Dartey, should have sanctions; they themselves should clean their ranks. They are doing so well, they have supported our democracy so far but there are some people amongst them who have the penchant for just running people down. I have been a victim several times of misinformation, there are several others in this House who have been; if you have
never been a victim of the misuse of the pen which is mightier than the sword, you will never understand the issues when they are being raised.
So we are saying that our democracy
will grow by leaps and bounds only when those who are watchdogs are themselves informed. You will listen to people on radio who call themselves social commentators and they talk about issues that they do not even understand.
There was a time when they were talking about the Common Fund and why it should be scrapped. And they were talking as if they were really knowledgeable about the issue or the subject-matter that is out there but nothing stopped them from reaching out to any of the 230 Members of Parliament to find out their opinions about the issue before going to sit on television and to castigate and run down Members of Parliament about an issue on which they were not informed.
They have representatives here; there is a dean of Parliamentary Press Corp here that they can reach out to. So what I am saying is that it is important to educate one's self; education ends only when we die. The last thing that we learn is how to die and so we continue learning new things everyday. So where they are, the profession that they find themselves in demands knowledge. They must seek knowledge so that that knowledge is imparted to other people. Those of us who listen to them, are discerning enough; we are able to know those who are doing well and those who are not doing well.
Mr. Speaker, as I said, I will be very
brief. The issue that I want to emphasize again is education. We want to see real democracy in the ranks of the journalists as well. There is a certain dictatorship that goes on there; a reporter sends a situation report but then an editor decides that that is not the way the story should go. You
Mr. E. T. Mensah (NDC -- Ningo Prampram) 11:20 a.m.

meet and challenge the reporter who spoke to you and this was what you said and then you are told that the editor has the final say. Fine, we need the Editor -- The editors should also learn how to be democratic when it comes to discussing the issues that should go out there. The right of the one who writes the report is also at stake.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, the other

democracy that I am talking about is elections. There was a time that there was a group of people -- I do not want to mention their names -- who were always talking about democracy. But the Sports Writers Association, their President was there for over 15 years. The other President who is there is also going to be there for more than 15 years.

Now that as a country we have decided that one cannot do more than two terms of four years as a President, why should we not send it down there? Democracy must trickle down; if one wants to be the President of GJA, or SWAG, he or she cannot be there for more than two terms of four years or whatever. Because I know as a fact that many of the writers complain that the way the system is, however good one is, there is no way one will go there. It is like a dynasty; we could arrange that when I leave, hon. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu will be the next person and on and on.

We believe that the people of this country must demand democracy in all institutions. The open-ended thing that others have as opposed to what we have in the body politic is not the best. Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Alfred K. Agbesi (NDC --

Ashaiman): Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for giving me the opportunity to contribute to this all-important Statement. Mr. Speaker, I also join all others in congratulating Miss Peggy Donkor for winning the award.

Mr. Speaker, journalism is at the crossroads and listening to this Statement, my mind goes back to the early 1970s and early 1980s. Mr. Speaker, in those days journalists actually did good jobs in bringing out what was happening in our various communities for us to know.

Mr. Speaker, my mind takes me back to the late Prof. P.V.A. Ansah, who was a lecturer in Communications at the University of Ghana, Legon. Mr. Speaker, I know that in those days that gentleman was able to bring out what was happening on campus and in the whole country. He “went to town” with his pen and paper and any time there was anything which he felt was not being done in the right way, he brought it out in his paper and in any other paper for us to read. And I will say this was positive journalism at the time.

Mr. Speaker, we have a lot of beautiful and good journalists as at today and we have to pay homage to them and encourage them to continue to do what they are doing. Mr. Speaker, I know that our able Kwesi Pratt is doing a good job insofar as journalism is concerned and in bringing out the evils that plague the system. The Statement made it clear that journalists must fight and lead in anti- corruption crusade. I am so happy that this Statement has been made for our journalists to know that as they write, as they speak and as they try to bring out what is happening in the system, corruption must be one of the issues they should be able to bring out.

Mr. Speaker, I know that even now, some young journalists are doing investigative journalism. They go out, they get the news, and they bring out what is happening. Today, the Enquirer

has come out with a story and I commend the Enquirer because it is always doing investigative journalism. I will not hesitate in recommending investigative journalism to our young journalists who are practising today.

Mr. Speaker, one thing that worries me is that there are some of our journalists who have made it their habit to go against personalities in the system to be able to sell their papers. I think this is not a good thing at all. We want objectivism; we want things to be done and analysed on their merits; But to destroy the reputation of a personality because they want to sell their newspaper-- I think, we have to tell our journalists that they are not doing anything good to our democracy.

Mr. Speaker, I want to encourage our journalists that they should not only report in the English language but they must also be able to report in our Ghanaian languages. They must be able to write for us to understand what is happening in our various Ghanaian languages. Mr. Speaker, as one of the contributors said earlier, Peace FM is doing a lot but it is only restricted to Akan. We have a lot of dialects in this country. I want to see a station which will devote greater part of its reportage to things done in Ewe, things done in Dagbani or Ga so that we will hear what is happening in our various languages in this country.

Mr. Speaker, I will also add my voice in commending our parliamentary reporters. They are doing a good job, they are trying to bring the work of Parliament to our various constituencies. I will urge them to do more, and here, I am telling them that if it be possible, they should try and reach out to our people in the various Ghanaian languages because most of our people want to hear what we do in our languages. I wish that one day, Mr. Speaker would

permit us -- that when we are debating, we will be permitted to debate in our various Ghanaian languages so that people will understand directly.

I will end by saying that the young ones that have come up today, who are doing what is to be done, who are bringing out the evils in the system, and who are fearless, should continue to be fearless so that our young democracy can progress. I thank you for giving me the opportunity.
Mr. First Deputy Speaker 11:20 a.m.
Hon. Members, that brings us to the end of the Statement. There is another short Statement by the hon. Member for Krachi West (Mr. Francis Yaw Osei-Sarfo). If he is here, he could go ahead and read his Statement -- [Pause.]
Hon. Members, it appears that the hon. Member who had indicated that he would read a Statement is not here. On that note, I will draw the curtains on Statements.
Mr. A. O. Aidooh 11:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I propose that we adjourn formal Sitting and reconvene at 2 o'clock for a close Sitting.
Mr. First Deputy Speaker 11:20 a.m.
Yes, any seconder?
Mr. Mahama Ayariga 11:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I second the motion except that I thought we would reconvene immediately after adjournment instead of 2 o'clock.
Mr. First Deputy Speaker 11:20 a.m.
What is the position?
Mr. A. O. Aidooh 11:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, he does not set the agenda, we are reconvening at 2 o'clock.
Mr. First Deputy Speaker 11:20 a.m.
Well, moved and seconded for the adjournment of formal proceedings. At this moment, I will put the Question.
Question put and motion agreed to.
ADJOURNMENT 11:20 a.m.

  • The House was accordingly adjourned at 11.25 a.m. till 30th June 2006 at 10.00 a.m.