Debates of 31 Jan 2007

PRAYERS 10 a.m.




Mr. Speaker 10 a.m.
Order! Order! Correction of Votes and Proceedings for Tuesday, 30th January, 2007 - Pages 1, 2, 3 … 13. [No corrections were made.]
Hon. Members, we have the Official Reports for Thursday, 23rd November, 2006, Friday, 24th November, 2006 and Tuesday, 28th November, 2006.
Mr. Stephen Kunsu 10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, please I would crave your indulgence to allow me to take the House back to 23rd November, 2006 issue of the Official Report where three misquotations were made.
The first one can be found at column

Then the other one can be found on the fourth line, the fifth word, of the same page; and the sentence should read: “uncontaminated with fear” and not “uncontaminated by fear”.

Then the last one, line 5 of the fourth paragraph, also the fifth word -- the word “lowering”, as has been recorded, should be “pummel” and not “lowering”. So the sentence would read: “That is to reduce
Mr. Speaker 10 a.m.
Thank you, hon. Member for Kintampo North. If you have any further corrections, you may bring them to the attention of the Table.
Mr. Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I do not have the Hansard that my hon. Colleague just read from. But the issue, Mr. Speaker, really is not to correct what somebody said earlier. If the person said something and he slipped, that is what the verbatim report should capture. If perhaps, after looking at it, the person realizes that well, he should have said something else, that is neither here nor there.
The verbatim report should capture exactly what the person said; and until he is able to prove that he did not say so, that is a different thing. This is because what we are saying really goes to the kernel of a statement that was made by the hon. Colleague. Now, the addition of the word “not” will completely alter the meaning.
Mr. Speaker, so I think we should
look at how we effect corrections to the Hansard. Mr. Speaker, that is very important. Otherwise, somebody could say something and if on reflection he realizes that he should not have said what he said and the following day, or in this particular case, more than a month after, when hon. Members do not have the Hansard in our hands and we cannot indeed recollect what was said, the person then comes to say that he did not say what he said or what has been attributed to him -- So we should look at it very well. Thank you, very much.
Mr. Speaker 10 a.m.
Hon. Majority Chief Whip, which page are you referring to?
Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I am referring to the very sentences which my hon. Colleague sought to correct. And I am looking at - [Interruption.]
Mr. Speaker 10 a.m.
Page, please? [Laughter.]
Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, if I should repeat, my hon. Colleague started by saying that -- In correcting the one he first corrected - [Interruption.]
Some hon. Members: Page?
Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 10 a.m.
The first issue that he raised. Mr. Speaker, I started by saying that I do not have the Hansard in front of me. That should address those who are calling for the page.
Mr. Speaker, the matter is a grave one.
It is a grave one. The hon. Member says the word “not” has been included in this sentence and he is correcting it because it seems to give a different impression to what he is purported to have said. And I am saying that that is verbatim recording.
Mr. Speaker, so we should be careful about how we correct the Hansard. Because, upon reflection somebody would realize that what he said, he should not have said so, and he could rise up to correct it and it is corrected to suit the person's -- excuse my language -- whims and caprices. And that would be very untoward.
Mr. Speaker 10 a.m.
Order! Order!
Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 10 a.m.
If a person
slips, the verbatim recorders capture the

slip and you cannot come back to correct it. That is the point I am making. And I believe hon. Members would understand that instead of the rancorous response that I am receiving -- Mr. Speaker, thank you.
Mr. Speaker 10 a.m.
Hon. Members, we have another Official Report for Tuesday, 30th January, 2007. [Pause.]
Item three -- Questions -- hon. Minister for Education, Science and Sports.
Question number 620, hon. Stephen Kunsu, Member of Parliament for Kintampo North, you may ask your Question.



Mr. Kunsu 10:10 a.m.
I would like to find out from the hon. Minister when the Task Force set up under the chairmanship of the Emeritus Professor Benneh to prepare a programme of action for the implementation of the decision to establish a university in the northern part of the country submitted its report.
Papa Owusu-Ankomah 10:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I cannot remember the year offhand, but it was several years ago. And we have been pursuing the recommendations of the report, as of now. But resource constraints together with the other challenges are what have disabled us from implementing the report and its recommendations in full.
Mr. Kunsu 10:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the hon. Minister mentioned in his Answer that the project has not been abandoned and it
is being pursued with all the vigour and seriousness it requires. Now, will the hon. Minister tell the House what concrete steps the Ministry of Education, Science and Sports has so far taken, ever since it was realized that proper consultations and discussions were needed before an appropriate Memorandum of Under- standing is signed?
Papa Owusu-Ankomah 10:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the consultations are mainly with the Ministry of Health. The Ministry of Health is responsible for the training of health personnel. The university, on the other hand, is responsible for the training of doctors and allied staff.
Discussions have been ongoing with a view to getting the Ministry of Health to cede that aspect of the training of some of the health workers to the Ministry of Education, Science and Sports. Because we believe that whatever aspect of training, be it in the health sector, be it in the forestry sector, be it in other sectors, all have to come under the purview of the Ministry of Education, Science and Sports. But this is a major policy challenge and we are taking the matter step by step.
Mr. Mahama Ayariga 10:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I want to ask the hon. Minister for Education, Science and Sports that having in mind the fact that the Medical School is supposed to be that of the University of Development Studies, and there is presently one, I believe, in Tamale in the Northern Region, is he suggesting that government is about to set up another campus for the Medical School or it does not intend to develop and strengthen the one that is already in Tamale? Is there a proposal to set up a new medical campus in Kintampo?
Papa Owusu-Ankomah 10:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, as I said, the committee recommended the establishment of a campus at Kintampo as part of the school providing training

and education in primary health care, et cetera. So it is not about setting up another medical school in Kintampo; it is a campus to train some medical personnel and not doctors.
Mr. E. K. Salia 10:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I want to know what steps the hon. Minister has so far taken towards enabling both the Ministry of Health and the University of Development Studies to combine their objectives of training both Ministry of Health staff and other paramedical trainees of the UDS.
Mr. Speaker 10:10 a.m.
Hon. Minister for Education, I want you to draw the hon. Member for Jirapa's attention to the Question asked, the original Question. I wonder whether his is a supplementary question. But hon. Minister for Education, you may wish to answer.
Papa Owusu-Ankomah 10:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, we are doing this through discussions. Indeed, there have been occasions where because of financial constraints, the Ministry of Health had used these resources to support certain facilities for universities geared towards the training of some health personnel. For example, the School of Health and Allied Sciences in the University of ghana -- it is the Ministry of Health that started it but they told us that they believed they were not in the position to continue. The Ministry of Education, Science and Sports should continue.
However, we all know that we are constrained by resources. So we continue with these consultations but these things also take time. The era for comprehensive educational framework involving all aspects of education, as I indicated earlier, is far from being realized because we need
to do our best to get all sectors on board before that policy can be firmed up and be implemented.
Alhaji S. Abukari 10:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the idea of setting up a paramedic institution in Kintampo is not new. It has been on the drawing board alongside the University of Development Studies (UDS) itself.
Mr. Speaker, to make it a more effective training school, which I know has started producing medical assistants, what is the Ministry of Education, Science and Sports doing to ensure that the Medical School itself is on its feet and producing credible doctors -- to make the Kintampo institution credible itself? Otherwise, if the Medical School itself is not credible and they have to send students all the way to Accra and Kumasi to complete their courses, how can they train other paramedics, creditable ones in Kintampo?
Papa Owusu-Ankomah 10:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker,
credible medical doctors are being trained at the UDS except that because of limited facilities at the Tamale government Hospital, it cannot be used presently as a teaching hospital -- because we lack the personnel.
So, we have not lost sight of the responsibility of the Ministry of Education, Science and Sports to ensure that we produce first class medical doctors from UDS. Doctors being trained from UDS are not of a relatively lower calibre than others trained in the other medical schools. Mr. Speaker, I wish to emphasise that point.
Mr. Speaker 10:20 a.m.
Hon. Member, you have been caught by elations. As you know, you should have been up long time ago. Question no. 683.
Mr. Ahi 10:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I crave your
indulgence to ask the Question on behalf of the hon. Member.
Mr. Speaker 10:20 a.m.
Has he asked you to
do so?
Mr. Ahi 10:20 a.m.
Yes, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker 10:20 a.m.
All right, go ahead.
Vehicles for Officers at Inspectorate Division
Q. 683. Mr. S. Ahi (on behalf of Mr.
Evans Paul Aidoo) asked the Minister for Education, Science and Sports when officers at the Inspectorate Division of the various District Education Offices would be provided with vehicles to do effective supervision.
Papa Owusu-Ankomah 10:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the Ministry of Education, Science and Sports (MOESS) fully recognizes the important role that the Inspectorate Division of the ghana Education Service (gES) plays in the overall efforts at attaining quality education and training in the country.
The Ministry is of the view that the Division can best execute its mandate if adequate logistics are made available to it. In this respect, the MOESS has seen the need to provide vehicles for the Inspectorate Division to do effective supervision in our educational institutions throughout the country.
The MOESS has a plan of reorganizing and resourcing the whole of the Inspectorate Division of gES and this has already started at the Head Office where 2 Cross Country and 2 Double Cabin Pick Up vehicles were supplied to the Director of the Head of the Division sometime ago.
Additionally, an Inspectorate Division
which will be independent of the gES and under the Ministry will be set up to supervise and direct the work of the gES supervision system.
Again, new vehicles for all the 138 district head offices have already been ordered and are expected to arrive in the country by February 2007 and be distributed to the various districts. It is expected that these vehicles would go a long way to augment the 2x2 Mitsubishi Pick Up vehicles supplied some five years ago.
Mr. Speaker, plans are far advanced to secure vehicles for the inspectorate Division and we assure this august House that vehicles for the Division would soon be made available when funding is secured for them.
Additionally, all the 53 deprived districts of the country are to be provided with additional Pick Ups acquired with support from the Education For All (EFA) from Fast Track Initiative Catalytic Fund.
Furthermore, 268 motorbikes have been distributed to all the deprived districts of the country. Circuit Supervisors (CSs) who are also part of the Inspectorate team of gES have access to motorbikes to make them more mobile. In this regard, some 520 female bikes and 838 male bikes are ready for distribution to the district very soon when the modalities for the distribution are finally settled.
Mr. Ahi 10:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to know from the hon. Minister when the distribution of the Pick Ups already acquired to the 53 deprived districts in the country would come on.
Papa Owusu-Ankomah 10:20 a.m.
It will come on shortly. Indeed, it has even started, but in some of these matters we ought to be careful; there is so much pressure and
Mr. J. K. Gidisu 10:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I would want the hon. Minister to reconcile his Answer under paragraph 3 of his response, that the 2 Cross Country and 2 Double Cabin Pick Up vehicles were supplied to the Director of the Head of the Division. On the Order Paper they said that was just last week. But in his response he said “sometime ago”. How does he reconcile that situation with what is on the printed Order Paper?
Papa Owusu-Ankomah 10:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, these Answers were supplied sometime ago, even before the recess; the Questions were listed. Unfortunately, the Business of the House did not permit the Questions to be asked, that is why in my Answer I corrected it by saying “sometime ago”, because it could not have been last week. These Answers were submitted sometime last year.
Mr. Amenowode 10:30 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I want to refer to paragraph 4 of page 10 where the Minister in his reply said 138 new vehicles will be distributed to augment those supplied five years ago. I want the hon. Minister to tell me if Hohoe district was also supplied the 2 x 2 Mitsubishi vehicles five years ago. This is because to the best of my knowledge, they are still using the old vehicles supplied about ten years ago.
Papa Owusu-Ankoma 10:30 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I believe that not all districts were supplied with those vehicles but 138 vehicles are being procured for all the District Directors of Education in the 138 districts of the country and Hohoe district will be a beneficiary.
Mr. Dzirasah 10:30 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, littering many campuses of senior secondary schools are broken-down buses and trucks of senior secondary schools. When is the
Ministry going to board up those buses and sell them out so that the places can be a bit decent?
Papa Owusu-Ankomah 10:30 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, vehicles that are considered not to be road worthy within the Ministry, Departments and Agencies are continuously being boarded up and sold. It is an ongoing process; it is not something that is an event, I believe, and so regularly this matter is being considered.
If there are vehicles that have to be boarded up, well, recommendations come from the heads of institutions to the District Directorate of Education and then the ghana Education Service (gES) together with the Ministry send experts to go and examine the vehicles and submit their recommendations. It is an ongoing process and if the hon. Member knows of some vehicles that are not roadworthy and ought to be boarded up, he may advise the heads of those institutions to initiate the process and we will take action on them.
Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker 10:30 a.m.
Minister for Education, Science and Sports, thank you very much for appearing to answer Questions, you are discharged.

PAPERS 10:30 a.m.

MOTIONS 10:30 a.m.

Chairman of the Committee (Mr. Sallas-Mensah) 10:30 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I beg to move, that this honourable House adopts the report of the Public Accounts Committee on the report of the Auditor general on the Public Accounts of ghana (Consolidated Fund) for the year ended 31st December, 2005. Mr. Speaker this report came in this form - as voluminous as this - and the Committee has been able to work on it and reduce it to a 13 page
document. We also provided to Members, an executive summary to the whole report.
So Mr. Speaker I would like to give to this House the background of this report especially in the introductory form and touch on certain important issues and then give to this House the conclusions.

PART II 10:30 a.m.

PART I 10:30 a.m.

PART II 10:30 a.m.

TABLE 10:30 a.m.

TABLE 10:30 a.m.

TABLE 10:30 a.m.

TABLE 10:30 a.m.

TABLE 10:50 a.m.

Alhaji M. M. Mubarak (NDC -- Asawase) 10:50 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak on the motion before us on the report of the Auditor-general on the Public Accounts of ghana (Consolidated Funds) for the year ended 31st December, 2005.
Mr. Speaker, I believe that it is very very important that as a House we take the Auditor-general's report very, very seriously and begin to bite. Mr. Speaker, I mean we must begin to bite. If you look at your Committee's report, you would wonder whether we are very serious about the accounting system in this country. Mr. Speaker, may I refer you to paragraph 18 of your Committee's report and it is entitled: “Unreliable Records of Loan Debtors”, and Mr. Speaker, with your permission, I beg to read:
“It noted that MOFEP and CAgD figures pertaining to on-lent loan transactions differred in several respects. Out of a sample of 25 loan- debtors, CAgD had a total figure of ¢742.1 bn, whereas the MOFEP had a figure of ¢2.4 trillion, a difference of ¢1.7 trillion.”
Mr. Speaker, if as a developing country, we can have such a huge inconsistency in our accounting system which should strike the Auditor-general, I do not think we can easily brush this aside by adopting this Report and going on.
Mr. Speaker, I am saying this because if you look at the one on 2004 which was reported to this House on July, 2006, there were a lot of other inconsistencies that we brushed aside and approved the Report, and up to date, nothing has been heard about this. With your indulgence, Mr. Speaker, I beg to read that of 2004; paragraph 17 -- “Advances” -- and it goes this way:
Mr. Kofi Krah Mensah (NPP -- Amansie West) 10:40 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I rise to second the motion on the floor. Mr. Speaker, I however want to make a few comments on the whole Committee's report.
As recommended in paragraph 26 of the report, the Committee reiterates the fact that the hon. Minister should countersign the accounts as prepared by the Accountant-general. The law does not require that and I do not know of any country in the world which does that so I am in some difficulty as to whether or not to endorse that kind of recommendation.
My own view is that the hon. Minister is not a party to the signatory of the accounts as such and therefore he should not be made to sign. Therefore I do not agree that the Committee's report should be endorsed by the hon. Minister.
The second point I want to make is that the accounts have been seriously overdrawn and we should take steps to raise more revenue and get the proper accounts signed as audited by the Auditor- general. With this comments I support the motion.
Question proposed.
Dr. Benjamin Kunbuor (NDC --
Lawra/Nandom): Mr. Speaker, initially I was rising on a point of clarification but once he has landed -- Because the detailed report has not been read, I was not sure whether there was a dissenting view from the Committee that was being alluded to by the Ranking Member in that position or it is his position as he stands on the floor of the House.
Mr. P. C. Appiah-Ofori (NPP-- Asikuma/Odoben/Brakwa) 10:40 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, unfortunately, I oppose the adoption of this report -- [Laughter] -- because the Accountant-general's account contains material mistakes which if not remedied would further the perpetration of corrupt practices in the public service by the Accountant-general staff. [Hear! Hear!] Mr. Speaker, this is connection
with the way the Accountant-general reports on variances. Mr. Speaker, what is in a variance? Variance is a difference between actual expenditure and budgeted expenditure.
Mr. Speaker, the way the variances are reported -- The budget is flexed; you have what we call flexible budget, that is you have to allow the budgeted expenditure and compare the allowed budgeted expenditure with the actual expenditure. It is only in this way that the actual variances can be extracted and the appropriate action taken.
Mr. Speaker, I want to refer you to page 28 of the Auditor-general's report. Mr. Speaker, it states:
“Personnel Emolument was ¢7.2 trillion, actual expenditure amounted to ¢8.1 trillion, variant ¢863 billion.”
Mr. Speaker, this could be more if the proper thing is done.
Mr. Speaker, I want to illustrate it by using Parliament. Assuming last year, Parliament budgeted to employ ten young graduates as research assistants, each on a salary of ¢20 million per annum, then budgeted expenditure should be ¢200 million a year. But eight people were employed so the allowed budgeted expenditure became eight multiplied by twenty, making ¢160 million.
So if the actual expenditure was assumed as ¢200 million and if you compare ¢200 million with the ¢200 million of budgeted expenditure you will not see any variant. Mr. Speaker, but if you flexed the budget, if you do what we call allowed budgeted expenditure, that is what was actually the case -- eight people were employed and each of them was to earn ¢20 million so the budget did not remain ¢200 million again. But it has now come down to ¢160 million so the actual expenditure should be compared with the
¢160 million to arrive at a variance of ¢40 million.
Mr. Speaker, if you do not do it in this way, what happens? The Accountant- general staff, knowing very well that ¢200 million has been set aside for this and knowing very well that the people are not there, they put in “ghost names” and absolve that figure. So on paper, we have spent ¢200,000,000; there is no variance, but in reality, there was a variance and some people have taken it.
Mr. P. C. Appiah-Ofori (NPP-- Asikuma/Odoben/Brakwa) 10:40 a.m.

“Outstanding advances in 2003 amounted to ¢65.4 billion as against ¢34.1 billion noted in year 2002, an increase of ¢31.3 billion or 91.8 per cent. The balances on advances in 2004 on the other hand stood at 71.8 billion, an increase of ¢6.3 billion or 9.6 per cent. The 2004 figure includes ¢39.3 billion which was termed ‘Other Departmental Advances'. These were explained to be advances to MDAs and their staff, which had not been accounted for over the years.”

That was what the Auditor-general said and Mr. Speaker, this report was adopted, it went and a year has come. We are now here with another report and we have not been told anything about some of the inconsistencies that appeared in last year's report.

Mr. Speaker, I believe that in the government's efforts to fight corruption, it brought about the Procurement Act, the Financial Administration Act, 2003 and as part of the Financial Administration Act, after we have considered this report, the Chief Justice is supposed to establish a court that would look into these issues and at least punish perpetrators and where we need to retrieve monies, be able to retrieve them.

Mr. Speaker, this is not done and all we do as a Parliament is adopt the report, pass it; it goes on, and all the abnormalities that have been mentioned or stated go unpunished. I believe if we continue to do this, we would do a great disservice or we would discourage the Auditor-general from carrying out his mandatory work very well. If he and his staff go all out to mention all the abnormalities and all that is done is to mention them without taking action, we would not be doing a great

service to this country.

Mr. Speaker, I would want to urge hon. Members to take this country very seriously; we must assert ourselves and begin to let people appreciate that we know what we are about. We should therefore reject this Report for the Auditor- general to go back and let us have concrete actions to be taken before we go on approving these reports; other than that, we would be doing this again and again and nothing would come out of this. With these few words, Mr. Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity.
Mr. E. K. Salia (NDC -- Jirapa) 11 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I rise to support the motion ably moved by the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, that we accept the report of the Auditor-general for the period ended 31st December, 2005.
Mr. Speaker, the purpose of an audit is to draw attention to lapses in systems of internal control and for corrective action to be taken thereafter. I therefore believe that what might be amiss in our previous acceptance of the Auditor-general's report is that we have not done follow-ups on corrective actions taken on previous accounts.
Therefore, I would like to suggest that the specific corrective actions that need to be taken should be so tabled or tabulated, itemized such that in due course, our Public Accounts Committee should be able to bring back to this House the follow- up actions taken by the various respective departments and ministries as corrective actions in respect of the lapses that have been identified by the Auditor-general's Department.

I believe that the Auditor-general has done a good job in reporting to us what they have found wrong with the

accounting system of the country. Our purpose must now be to ensure that there is full compliance of all the financial rules and regulations that would augur well for proper accounting for our country.

So I would like to suggest or recommend to this House that in spite of the lapses that have been discovered we should approve his work because a rejection of the Auditor-general's report implies that we are not satisfied with the work he has done. But to all intents and purposes, he has done a reasonable job by exposing the shortcomings that exist in our system. The various officers that need to be taken to task include the Accountant-general and probably the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, that it could overdraw to such an extent without appropriate approvals.

I do not know what the rules say about this particular aspect but I expect that any Budget can be exceeded if the correct approaches are pursued so that recommendations are then made by the Executive on increasing the expenditure levels. After all, what is a Budget? It is a projection of what would happen. During the course of the year, circumstances change and indeed the example my hon. Colleague gave in respect of say, employing less the number of people originally recommended is appropriate.

What if the salaries for the year increased due to inflation? Those people, probably, could have been employed -- 8 of them -- yet the expenditure could have been unauthorised expenditure based upon the point of entry and based upon, maybe, changed salaries. So it is not every time that when there is a variance, you can attribute it to wrongdoing. It is possible that there could be genuine reasons for any expenditure overruns and
Alhaji M.A.Yakubu (NPP -- Yendi) 11 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, as a member of the Public Accounts Committee, it is necessary to make a few observations, and I am speaking in favour of the motion for the adoption of the Accountant-general's Report.
Mr. Speaker, very pertinent obser-
vations that have been made by hon. Members seem to suggest that when the Auditor-general's report has been examined by the Public Accounts Committee and then brought to the House, the reports are just adopted without any serious action taken to redress anomalies that have occurred in the previous report. I would say that it is very important for us to notice that at the Public Accounts Committee meetings, very, very rigorous examination of the report is made.
Those institutions and individuals who have been found to fall foul of proper accounting procedures do not have it easy at all. Sometimes, even where it is found that the Auditor-general's Department has not tackled a particular issue very well, they do not have it easy. And in all cases even where offending departments say they have rectified certain anomalies, the Auditor-general's Department is ordered by the Committee to follow up and report.
Perhaps, suggestions made by the hon. Member for Jirapa that these actions that have been taken by the Public Accounts Committee on anomalies reported in the Auditor-general's report should be tabulated and made available to hon. Members is good. But I am saying that any hon. Member who attends the meetings of the Public Accounts Committee will see clearly that no one who has fallen foul of adhering to proper accounting procedures is allowed to go scot free and a lot of scrupulous work is being done. So any impression that the Public Accounts Committee just looks at these reports, and lets things pass, and that Parliament itself passes things without any critical examination is not accurate at all.
One can say that you cannot have anomalies corrected hundred per cent, there may be certain slips through but generally, I can say that the Auditor- general's report is thoroughly considered by the Public Accounts Committee and when it comes to the floor of the House, hon. Members make pertinent observations and these are actually taken on board by the Auditor-general and the various departments. Sometimes, the departments and institutions are brought from, even at district level, to attend the Committee's meetings and a lot of corrections are being made to the stores maintenance procedures; a lot of repairs are being made.
So let us not go with the impression that nothing is being done, that it is just a perfunctory thing we do by approving the Auditor-general's reports.
Mr. Mahama Ayariga (NDC --
Bawku Central): Mr. Speaker, I rise to support the motion before the House. Essentially, I just want to make one point very clear, and it is that there should be a clear distinction between some
malpractices that are taking place in some departments and ministries and some dysfunctional systems and the discovery of those practices and the fact of drawing our attention to those practices by the Auditor-general.
My understanding of the Constitution and the responsibility of the Auditor- general is that the Auditor-general by article 187(5) of the Constitution is to draw attention to any irregularities in the accounts audited and to any other matter which in his opinion ought to be brought to the notice of Parliament. Mr. Speaker, once the Auditor-general has drawn our attention to these irregularities, it is for the House to critically scrutinise them and draw the attention of the institutions that are responsible for addressing those irregularities.
To that extent, the Auditor-general has done his job and so I believe that it would be a mistake on our part to reject his report when his duty has been performed. What we should be doing is what some of my hon. Colleagues have already drawn our attention to, which is to ensure that there are follow-up actions to ensure that such irregularities do not occur in subsequent years.
In any case, if we want to really measure progress, what we should do is to compare last year's report to this year's report and if we notice that the irregularities that were pointed out in last year's report have been repeated in this year's report, then it means that the follow-up actions are not taking place and the institutions are not learning from the mistakes and irregularities that have been pointed out.
But if we look at this year's report, we would notice that many of the irregularities that are being pointed out are completely new sets of irregularities not directly related to some of the things that were
pointed out last year.
In that regard, I believe that this is an indication that we are making some progress in the use of the institution of the Auditor-general to reform the financial system of this country. I would urge my hon. Colleagues to support the motion and adopt the report but that as a House we should resolve to be more vigilant and consistent throughout the year, engage in follow-up actions to ensure that the irregularities that have been pointed out are not repeated this year and that in subsequent years, it is new things that are brought up to make the system perfect. On that note, I urge hon. Colleagues to support the motion.
Minister for Public Sector Reforms (Dr. P. K. Nduom) 11:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I wish to seek some direction from you, because it is clear that the Auditor-general has presented his report and his report has identified our various issues, various lapses, various problems that require attention. Yet your Committee has also presented its report which also highlights a number of difficulties that are within the Public Accounts of this country.
But Mr. Speaker, our report virtually has stopped there. What specifically are we going to do as members of the Legislature to ensure or to carry out our oversight responsibility and to ensure that these problems that have been identified are taken care of during the course of the year? Mr. Speaker, that is where I have a problem. What is our action plan? What are we going to do to ensure that we do not come back next year and also go over the same things? That is why I am asking for direction because I do not know whether to support the motion or not to support it; and that is why I wish to seek your direction.
Should we be asking that your Committee comes back with a specific action plan or Mr. Speaker, we do as it was done in an earlier year, where a special committee, following a member's Question on a matter of corruption, went around the country and did some work?
Mr. Speaker, we must be seen and
we must actually do something about the numerous lapses and difficulties that have been enumerated. And so, I seek our direction, Mr. Speaker.
Dr. B. Kunbuor (NDC -- Lawra/
Nandom): Mr. Speaker, I rise to support the motion and to make two brief comments.
I have particularly taken interest in this
year's Auditor-general's Report because it has become clear in this country that the parliamentary oversight over MDAs that are a complement to our broader oversight responsibilities are not being carried out effectively. That explains why we seem to have the idea that when we are involved in appropriation, oversight finishes after appropriations have been made to the MDAs. We do not even follow up on procurement, we do not follow up on progress reports on how the monies we have appropriated over the year have been used.
Even when it becomes visible that something is wrong in a particularly agency, it does not become a matter for this House. This brings me to the more important issue about the legal mandate of the Auditor-general. Apart from the constitutional requirement to submit this report, I am aware that the Auditor-general does annual audit, routine audits and in some cases special audits. But I have not come across any of the special audit arrangements that have been reported here.
Minister for Public Sector Reforms (Dr. P. K. Nduom) 11:10 a.m.

The reason why you trigger off special audits is that you have sensed that something is going wrong in a particular agency. Why is it that we have not come across in the annual report to Parliament some of these special audits by the Auditor-general? In fact, I am surprised that people are asking whether this House should reject the Auditor-general's report or not. What is significant is that it is perhaps the lack of our own oversight that has led to these irregularities. It should not even lie in our mouths when these irregularities are being drawn to our attention to turn round and say we will not accept it.
Mr. Speaker 11:10 a.m.
Hon. Member, do you have a point of order?
Mr. Opare-Hammond 11:10 a.m.
Rightly so, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, my senior colleague is trying to suggest to this House that it looks like your Committee did not do a thorough work on the report. [Inter- ruption.]
Mr. Speaker, from the direction which he is coming, it looks like maybe he has not thoroughly read the report. Mr.
Speaker, I want to refer to paragraphs 74 and 75 of the report, and with your indulgence I read:
“74. The CAgD is therefore in the process of implementing a treasury realignment system whereby each MDA located in Accra will be assigned one sub-Consolidated Fund …
75. Your Committee is of the opinion that the new measures being introduced by the Controller and Accountant-general (CAg) are tailored towards preventing a future recurrence rather than unravelling the existing overdrawn balance…”
Mr. Speaker, your Committee met with the various groups and we discussed these thoroughly and they are taking measures to ensure that subsequent reports will not reflect these anomalies.
Mr. Speaker, I therefore want to urge my senior colleague not to let the House and indeed ghana believe that your Committee did not do a thorough work on the report.
Mr. Speaker 11:10 a.m.
Hon. Member for
Adenta (Mr. Opare-Hammond), you have no point of order, let him continue.
Dr. Kunbuor 11:10 a.m.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. But just to clarify my colleague's mind, I am actually talking about we here in Parliament including myself and our responsibility under the Constitution. Perhaps, he should take a closer look at article 103 and the mandate that it gives to this House to investigate and inquire into the activities of all MDAs.
My point basically is that, if that constitutional responsibility on us was bring exercised, it might not even lead to the situation that the Auditor-general would be drawing attention to these difficulties. What I want to indicate further is that, whatever the Controller and
Dr. Kunbuor 11:20 a.m.

Accountant-general is doing, it is equally subject to the oversight of this House because the framers of the Constitution are wiser by ensuring that the representatives of the people actually oversee the activities of all MDAs including the Controller and Accountant-general.

Mr. Speaker, seminar after seminar and particularly also in the international arena, whether you are talking about corruption coalition, whether you are talking about parliamentary oversight groups, it is increasingly becoming clear that the ghanaian public believe we are only performing our known and traditional function of law making, and possibly the annual one of making appropriations. But the most important essence of Parliament in terms of oversight is to ensure that public money is well spent.

If you go and look at your financial

laws and the regulations, you will see that it is not outright misappropriation or even misapplication that leads to criminal sanctions; some types of irregularities in those laws can trigger off prosecution. And so whether we describe them as irregularities or not, in financial terms, they have a lot of implications and I guess that this, House must begin to take a serious look at what MDAs do.

That is why I think even in budgetary appropriations, we need a longer time to let people tell us what they have used the previous appropriation for and then to decide whether it makes sense at all for appropriations along similar lines to be made.

If you have appropriations for acquiring seven vehicles for a Ministry or a Department and you come back the next year, and you do not indicate whether those vehicles were procured -- It will even be justifiable to say revenue returns did not allow a release that led to the

purchase and this is why we want it. Quite often, they are very, very silent on it and I think this House needs to take itself very, very seriously in terms of our oversight responsibilities.

Deputy Majority Leader (Mr. A.O.

Aidooh): Mr. Speaker, I share the view that the Auditor-general is an important ally of Parliament in our oversight responsibilities.

Mr. Speaker, the Constitution also

protects the Auditor-general. Therefore there is a limit beyond which he cannot go, and that is why I have some problems with my Colleagues who have suggested -- at least two members -- that we should reject the report.

Mr. Speaker, this House in my view

does not have the power to reject the report and I say this based on article 187 (6) and I quote:

“Parliament shall debate the report of the Auditor-general and appoint where necessary, in the public interest, a committee to deal with any matters arising from it.”

Mr. Speaker, we are obliged to debate the report and if we have any problems we can appoint a committee to take care of those problems. But we do not in my view have the power to reject the report. I will therefore suggest that if the House is of the view that there have been grievous lapses, and I am convinced that there are, we may take solace in this clause and as a follow-up submit to the Auditor-general the sentiments expressed by hon. Members of this House. We must not be seen to be directing or rejecting the report of the Auditor general.

I thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Haruna Iddrisu (NDC -- Tamale South) 11:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to associate myself with the report of the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament. In particular, Mr. Speaker, I want to refer to paragraphs 56, 57 and 58 of the Committee's report to form the bases of my comment.
Mr. Speaker, paragraph 56 reads as follows 11:20 a.m.
“The loan schedule further disclosed that only 19 out of 83 beneficiaries (companies) serviced their loans during the year under review. Total recoveries from these 19 companies amounted to ¢31.5 bn.”
Mr. Speaker, it goes on to say,
“These recoveries were made through Debt Collecting Agencies that have been contracted by MOFEP to pursue recovery of loans.”
Mr. Speaker, you can tie that to paragraph 58 which reads 11:20 a.m.
“Your Committee was informed by the MOEFP that beneficiaries of loans captured under general -- Public Boards and Corporations are primarily government Agencies and parastatal organizations and these can be pursued by MOFEP hence the decision not to contract out such loans to private Debt Collecting Agencies.”
Mr. Speaker, if 19 out of 83 we can recover ¢31.5 bn, I am sure I can guess without contradiction that we could recoup as much as 50 billion cedis if we could pursue the process of loan recovery and those affected persons.
Mr. Speaker, I will like to respond to an issue that was raised by the Minister for Public Sector Reform which I am sure hon. Abraham Ossei-Aidooh has captured. It is about time that this Parliament acts on the
Mr. Speaker, you can tie that to paragraph 58 which reads 11:20 a.m.

Auditor general's Report, and by acting we should not narrow it to deliberations and debates. Mr. Speaker, somewhere in the last few years I heard a comment by the Minister for Finance to the effect that if you took Auditor- general's Reports year by year, consistently I can say that we have lost not less than ¢10 trillion in the last few years.

Whether you are going to start from 1982 or from 2001, if you just do a simple arithmetic, of what is lost to the state of ghana financially whether as a result of waste, irregularity, misappropriation or embezzlement, you can quote a figure of ¢10 trillion. We could direct such money maybe for the building of the Tamale Regional Hospital or a clinic in the constituency of the Minister for Finance -- if we are able to retrieve moneys which people owe to the Republic of ghana.

But Mr. Speaker, I will like to refer you to Section 24 of Act 584 which hon. Abraham Ossei Aidooh referred to. Mr. Speaker, it reads as follows and I quote:

Parliament shall debate reports of the Auditor-general on the Public Accounts, Statements of Foreign Exchange Receipts and Payments of Bank of ghana and any other special audits -- Mr. Speaker, this is where my interest and emphasis is -- “and shall appoint where necessary, in the public interest, committees to deal with the matters arising from the report.”

That was what hon. Ossei Aidooh referred to. Mr. Speaker, I think you can give that direction and you can give us guidance. Any other time that we debate public accounts and there are miscellaneous issues of debt recovery, people still holding in trust government money, you can direct this House to put up a committee, a bipartisan committee of

the Majority and the Minority to make a follow-up for purpose of recover of this lost value. It is not for us to tie our hands here and say that Parliament is not doing enough. This House can pass a resolution now that we are saying that on this report of the Auditor general, a three or a five- member committee should appropriately look further into many of the issues that have been raised.

Mr. Speaker, I want to call for increased support for the Office of the Auditor- general. I think consistently in the last two years, they have done creditably well in terms of updates of the reports. It is this House which has failed him beyond a debate of the report and this House must be seen interested in going beyond deliberations. Like hon. Dr. Kunbuor said, our functions is not just legislation and deliberation. The investigative and oversight functions of this House have not been taken for granted.

I wonder when we talk about waste -- If we want to get more people who have committed financial loss to the State even for the purpose of prosecution, this is the forum that we can determine that, and that forum must be that this House must gather courage to put together a committee to go forward. Mr. Speaker, we would have been saving the public huge sums of money lost daily.

Mr. Speaker, I could go on and on. We are told that District Assemblies are not even complying with the regulations that non-tax revenue are recorded. Yet Mr. Speaker, all that this House can do is to say that we support by consensus, we have adopted the report of the Auditor general. I think we must begin to go beyond that.

Mr. Speaker, with your direction, I need your guidance on this matter. I recommend strongly that we set up a bipartisan committee to look at the Auditor-general's

report from the year 2000 to date and make recoveries therefrom which will go to the State.

With these comments, Mr. Speaker, I support the motion.
Mr. Speaker 11:20 a.m.
Chairman of the Public
Accounts Committee, you may wish to sum up and take into account suggestions of hon. Members.
Mr. Baah-Wiredu 11:20 a.m.

Chairman of the Committee (Mr.

Sallas-Mensah): Mr. Speaker, I learnt the Minister might want to speak.
Mr. Speaker 11:20 a.m.
Minister, right.
Mr. Baah-Wiredu 11:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I thank hon. Members for the contribution. As a former Vice Chairman of the Committee, I am very happy that there has been considerable improvement, and one of them is even debating Public Accounts Report during day time. More often than not, we debated those reports close to the last day of the meeting.
I think there were a lot of arrears due but I think the Public Accounts Committee's Report needs a little bit fine- tuning because hon. Members have made some suggestions. I think we are looking at the 2005 report. Probably, section 1 or 2 could have picked on 2004 report, what the irregularities were and other suggestions that were made, and whether we have taken the appropriate action. I remember one hon. Member who is no more here, used to say that we should have certain things even in the law so that we can push the enforcement of the points that we have raised.
So Mr. Speaker, I think the fine-tuning of the report is also very important so that we can look at the way we make the follow- up.
Also Public Accounts meetings need
Mr. Baah-Wiredu 11:20 a.m.

not be necessarily based on report that has been given as none. Probably, we can go back even 20 years, 30 years or 10 years or two years ago and then also do a review so that we will always have some work to do. The Public Accounts Committee is the heart of Parliamentary work and any member of that Committee should feel very happy to be part of it.

As a Public Accounts Committee, I think we have to be very initiative and be very innovative enough in order to mobilize some resources -- [Interruptions] -- Mr. Speaker, I have seen the Chairman swivelling his chair -- I think that we can work on those aspects too. I think we have all been looking at the receipts and expenditure side of all the reports and then the notes normally attached to the Consolidated Fund.

11. 30 a.m.

But since it cuts across all the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), including Parliament and the Judiciary, that means there is a lot for all of us to look at and we can actually improve upon the reporting system and the follow-up action. It looks like all of us are concerned with the follow-up action which we all have to do.

So Mr. Speaker, we thank hon. Members for the suggestions made but I believe the calendar of the Public Accounts Committee should be loaded as any other committee; it should be loaded. That means from day one, we should know what we are doing and what else after this report. So Mr. Speaker, I thank all hon. Members for their suggestions and the points made and I believe we would be making some progress.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Sallas-Mensah 11:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I
would like to thank all hon. Members for supporting this report but Mr. Speaker, all that hon. Members have said, the financial administration law actually took cognizance of that, that there was going to be an implementation problem. So section 68 of that Act said that there should be established a financial administration tribunal.
This is where I disagree with the hon. Minister for Finance and Economic Planning, that the bulk of the work lies on us, no! Now the bulk is on his outfit to fund the judicial system, to set up this tribunal where all recommendations from this House would be passed to so that that tribunal will deal with them. It is then that we are going to get a feedback to this Parliament, but that has not been done.
Mr. Baah-Wiredu 11:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, for
purposes of clearing the situation, I think when we submitted the Supplementary Budget on July 13, 2006, there was an allocation that was made for the Judiciary in respect of this particular assignment and it is a process so the report as at today -- Obviously I am not aware but we can actually find out how far they have sent that allocation to them because it has been approved. I think it is there under the Judiciary.
So Mr. Speaker, I think it is not on one- on-one basis and so long as the allocation has been made, it is the responsibility of
the Judiciary to utilize that fund. Whatever has happened as at today, Mr. Speaker, we can find out. And I just want to say that action has been taken, we have not been joking, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Sallas-Mensah 11:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker,
I think the government's Assurance Committee should take note of the hon. Minister for Finance and Economic Planning's assurance that moneys have been released to the Judiciary.
Mr. Speaker, if this thing is done
then as a Parliament enforcing our recommendations on this report would not be a difficult one at all. We do not need to go setting up a new committee of Parliament to do that. The law has taken cognizance of Parliament's action which is supposed to be followed.
So Mr. Speaker, I would like to again thank all hon. Members for supporting this report and I hope that the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning would release the necessary funds to the Chief Justice to carry on the setting up of this Financial Administration Tribunal. Thank you.
Question put and motion agreed to.
Resolved accordingly.
Mr. A.O. Aidooh 11:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I beg
to move that we adjourn proceedings till tomorrow, 1st February 2007 at 10.00 a.m.
Mr. A. S. K. Bagbin 11:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I
beg to second the motion.
Question put and motion agreed to.
ADJOURNMENT 11:20 a.m.