Debates of 22 May 2007

PRAYERS 10 a.m.




OF GHANA 10 a.m.




ACCRA 10 a.m.


CASTLE 10 a.m.


Mr. Speaker 10 a.m.
Order! Order! Hon. Members, Correction of Votes and Pro- ceedings, Friday, 18th May, 2007. [No correction was made.]
Hon. Members, we have the Official Reports for Friday, 23rd March, 2007, Tuesday, 15th May, 2007 and Wednesday, 16th May, 2007.
Item 3 -- Questions -- Minister for Local Government, Rural Development and Environment.





Mr. Asum-Ahensah 10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, in the Minister's Answer, he stated that a lot of consultations were undertaken in the communities in question together with the Electoral Commission before the C.I. 46 came into effect. I would like to know from the hon. Minister if he is aware that the Paramount Chief and elders have had the opportunity to petition the President, calling his attention on two occasions to this anomaly and that his outfit was served with copies of these letters.
Mr. Asamoah-Boateng 10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I am not aware that the Paramount Chief and elders have petitioned the President. It has not come to my notice. However, if it is available -- and I can see him showing a copy there -- then as I said in my Answer,
if he so wishes that the communities he mentioned move from the South to the North, that is his wish and the wish of the people. That is entirely up to him. However, he should let me have a copy of the petition and I will have a look at it.
But Mr. Speaker, it is true that there were a lot of consultations and I am also aware that the community is divided on this issue, whether they should go to the North or South; and I am not too sure whether my hon. Colleague is advocating that they move to the North. Let him tell me then I will consider it.
Mr. Asum-Ahensah 10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I would like the hon. Minister to know that it is not the wish of the Member of Parliament to effect those changes but the wish of the people. I would like to ask the hon. Minister if he would consider the appointment of a competent committee to see to the normalization of the situation that has erupted because of the changes that have been effected to avert any possible social upheaval.
Mr. Asamoah-Boateng 10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker,
I am not too sure of what my hon. Colleague is trying to say. I am not aware of any upheavals. I am not aware of any threat as such. I am aware however, that there are those who think that they should be on that side and those who think they should remain where they are.
I am aware that for instance, the traditional authority of Kwachuma has some of their communities in the North, such as Seketia. And I know the other ones, Asare, Adamsu and the surrounding areas are in the South as constituted by the L.I. However, as I said, if he thinks -- and he is the Member of Parliament -- that there are concerns and I am not aware of those -- then he should petition us and we would look at them.
Mr. Asum-Ahensah 10:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to assure the hon. Minister that I have copies of those petitions so I will print copies for him for consideration.
Hazardous Fumes from Ghana Rubber
Estates Limited at Apimanim
Q. 720. Mr. Kojo Armah asked the Minister for Local Government, Rural Development and Environment whether he was aware of the hazardous fumes and industrial emissions being generated from the Rubber Processing Plant at Apimanim in the Western Region and if so, what was the Ministry doing to save the residents of the town.
Mr. Asamoah-Boateng 10:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the Ghana Rubber Estates Limited (GREL) operates the Rubber Processing Plant at Apimanim in the Ahanta West District in the Western Region.
The primary raw material used at GREL is coagulated latex (cup lump) and the production process involves blending the cup lumps, granulation, milling, drying and packaging. These activities release the following into the work and external environment:
Serum from cup lumps;
Waste water from milling;
S c r a p i r o n s h e e t s , e m p t y chemical containers and;
Water vapour from exhaust of dryer chimney and odour.
The releases have the potential of causing environmental/public health nuisance if not properly handled. The most serious of these releases is odour nuisance. The processing of natural rubber (latex) is characteristically odourous and
the situation at GREL is no different. The odour is generated as a result of serum fermentation and thermal treatment of latex.
I wish to respectively inform the hon. Member that I am aware of these releases into the atmosphere and the Environ- mental Protection Agency has been monitoring the plant operations of GREL. Measures that have been put in place to address the problem are:
The floor of the storage area has been concreted and adequate slopes provided to prevent the accumulation and subsequent stagnation of serum from the cup lump.
Two 25m-pressurized water hoses have been permanently fixed at the storage area to wash and direct the serum through the drains to avoid its stagnation and subsequent fermentation to generate odour.
Effluent discharges from GREL operations are subjected to biological treatment prior to discharge into a 400m3 concrete water tank for re- use as process water.
Two air scrubbers made up of packed plastic balls, have been installed on the two dryers to reduce the odour and clean the exhaust by-product.
GREL is also to install an anti-odour system to further neutralize the odour before they are released into the air by the mid of August 2007.
I wish to assure the hon. Member that, the Environmental Protection Agency would continue to monitor the operations of GREL to ensure that all commitments made in the company's Environmental Management Plan and its obligations under the Permit Conditions are adequately addressed.
Mr. Armah 10:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the hon. Minister has informed us about measures that have been taken on the plant to protect health but I believe these are for the plant itself and its workers. The problem is the residents of the town of Apimanim -- and since the hon. Minister admits that the release has the potential of causing environmental and public health nuisance, I want to know from him what steps have been taken to mitigate these potential nuisances and to educate the residents of the town about these nuisances.
Mr. Asamoah-Boateng 10:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I think my hon. Colleague wants me to repeat what I have just said. Steps have been taken, as I enumerated, to make sure that the odour is contained. And as I said, the GREL operations are being asked to put into place measures that can prevent and subdue the odour. If he has any suggestions and contributions and any other idea different from what Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has asked them to do, then I would be glad to take them into account. But as I said, all the actions taken are continuing and they have not stopped; they will continue to monitor.
Mr. Armah 10:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the hon. Minister is talking about measures taken by the company on the Plant. What has been done there? My problem is, any casual driver at that place can even smell the odour. Even if one is driving around there and is not in an air-conditioned car one will smell the odour. My problem is with those who are residents there permanently -- in their daily life -- What measures have been taken to protect the health hazards that these residents suffer at the hands of GREL? Mr. Speaker, the hon. Minister said the EPA has been monitoring the problem; the company has been there for more than 10 years. My question
Mr. Asamoah-Boateng 10:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I share the concern of my hon. Colleague and I have passed through the place several times. I have gone there to witness a contract signed between the community and a contractor in Apimanim and I have actually been a victim by way of smelling the odour.
Mr. Speaker, short of maybe relocating the community -- short of that, which is very difficult to do, then the answer I give is that the company is to install an anti- odour system which will further neutralize the odour before releasing it into the air by the middle of August. In fact, that is the deadline.
We have asked them to do that by the middle of August so if my hon. Colleague can help me, and also in all the surrounding villages, people are there who can help us to monitor so that by mid-August the system would be installed. I personally will go there to check that it has been installed. And I can report back if my hon. Colleague wishes me to do that.
Mr. Lee Ocran 10:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, serum fermentation and thermal treatment of latex do not only produce bad odour, they generate into the atmosphere some hazardous type of gas. May I know from the hon. Minister whether there is a consistent policy by the company to subject the residents of Apimanim to periodic medical check-ups to see whether their processing of rubber is affecting their health?
Mr. Asamoah-Boateng 10:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker,
Mr. George Kuntu-Blankson 10:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, thank you for giving me the opportunity. Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the hon. Minister -- because it looks like the Question my hon. Colleague put up has not been answered with regard to whether he has received a report from the EPA and what steps have been taken to alleviate the content of the report and what is contained in the report. I want to know whether he has received a report from the EPA; and what is the content of that report? I want to know.
Mr. Speaker 10:20 a.m.
What is your question?
Mr. Kuntu Blankson 10:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I want to ask the hon. Minister whether he has received any environmental report from the Environmental Protection Agency because they deal with environ- mental issues. All the matters being discussed here are related to environ- mental issues, that is why I want to know from him whether he has received any report from the Environmental Protection Agency and what steps he is taking to deal with that report.
Mr. Speaker 10:20 a.m.
Hon. Minister, have you received any report?
Mr. Asamoah- Boateng 10:20 a.m.
No, Mr. Speaker. And that is not the question my hon. Colleague raised. He asked me whether I am aware that fumes are being released into the atmosphere, not a report.

company in its operation always seeks a permit to operate and that is constantly monitored.

It is the duty of the Environmental Protection Agency to constantly monitor to make sure that they are adhering to the conditions of the permit. Yes, there is always a check to know that they are constantly adhering to the permit that they were given. But there is no report on that actually, as my hon. Colleague wants to know.
Dr. Kwame Ampofo 10:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the Questioner wanted to know what the Ministry is doing to save the residents of the town. In the Answer the hon. Minister only tells us what steps the factory has taken to minimize the nuisance, but minimizing the nuisance does not mean that the residents are still not being affected. So, I would like the hon. Minister to answer, in what way he is making sure that the residents are not being harmed even in the face of these mitigating measures.
Mr. Asamoah-Boateng 10:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. Colleague for bringing back the question but that is the same question that my hon. Colleague, Mr. Lee Ocran raised that what is the effect on residents? And I think he suggested that if it is possible for the company to conduct some medical check to measure that harmful effect then there could be a way to arrest the harmful effect.
But so far I am not aware of any harmful effect that has been conducted. So that is a suggestion that I took on board and I can suggest that to the company and we will see how we can bring that into the Environmental Protection Agency's guidelines so that we can see that the people are not being harmed. We are not aware of any harmful effects on the
residents -- and that is the question -- so that we can check that and see if there are any harmful effects on the residents.
River Atweredaa Valley
Q. 758 Mr. Alex Kyeremeh (on
behalf of Mr. Simons Addai) asked the Minister for Local Government, Rural Development and Environment why work had stopped on the development of the River Atweredaa valley near the Techiman market.
Mr. Asamoah- Boateng 10:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, evidence available indicates that even though the Techiman Municipal Assembly had given its approval, the developer was stopped from implementing the project because he failed to obtain an Environ-mental Impact Assessment Permit (EIA) from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It is believed that as soon as the EIA is received the project will continue.
Mr. Kyeremeh 10:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I have in my possession a clearance from the EPA and I would like to know from the Minister whether the developer can start work on the project.
Mr. Asamoah-Boateng 10:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, if he can produce it, if it is a permit -- It is not an environmental permit. He may have requested to undertake the development but what normally happens, Mr. Speaker, is that EPA will require them to submit certain details which is what he might be holding. He then submits them and then the permit is issued; the permit has not been issued. In fact, Mr. Speaker, for his information I was in Techiman recently and I saw the project which was stopped half-way. There are pillars in the stream and if you build a shopping mall on a stream which is also taking a lot of waste water, you must have a permit; and
that permit has not been issued, unless he proves otherwise.
District Assembly Members (Direct Payment of
Q. 760 Mr. Wisdom Gidisu asked the Minister for Local Government, Rural Development and Environment what plans the Ministry had to take up direct payment of allowances to District Assembly Members as a way of motivating them to perform better.
Mr. Asamoah-Boateng 10:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, payment of allowances to District Assembly Members is governed by Part 19, Section 73 (1) of the Model Standing Orders for District, Municipal and Metropolitan Assemblies. It states,
“The Assembly shall determine the allowances to be paid to members of the Assembly in respect of --
(a) attendance at meetings of the Assembly, meetings of the Executive Committee or meeting of Sub-Committees; and
(b) any t ransport expenses actually incurred by any member of the Assembly in respect of the attendance at such meetings.”
Mr. Speaker, Assemblies are required by law to raise local revenues to enable them carry out their functions and the Ministry does not intend to amend it.
The Ministry taking up the direct payment of allowances to District Assembly Members means an additional burden on Central Government. I wish to respectively draw the attention of the hon. Member that Central Government is already doing a lot to ensure that District
Mr. Wisdom Gidisu 10:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I am happy that in the Minister's Answer he recognized the concern shown by Assembly Members to be motivated and that a case has been made by his Ministry to procure means of transport like motor- bikes for each Assembly Member. Can the hon. Minister tell this House, when exactly do they intend implementing this plan?
Mr. Asamoah-Boateng 10:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the issue of motor bikes came up on my recent visit to the Brong Ahafo Region and as I pick up all these signals we will subject them to discussion -- [Some hon. Members: When?] -- I am in the process of discussing that with my officers and we will look at the cost implication and so, Mr. Speaker, it will not be long before we
Mr. Asamoah-Boateng 10:20 a.m.

will come up with a decision.
Mr. W. Gidisu 10:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, will this process demand Cabinet's approval or they will just use their own discretion to actually take up this payment?
Mr. Asamoah-Boateng 10:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I notice that my hon. Colleague is very interested -- Maybe, he wants to be an Assemblyman one day -- [Laughter.]
Mr. Speaker 10:20 a.m.
Order! Order!
Mr. Asamoah-Boateng 10:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the option is available and it is possible that we can find the resources within our Ministry's means. It is also possible that it can get to Cabinet whereby it may also end up in Parliament depending on the size of the cost. So Mr. Speaker, it is an option that we are exploring. Thank you very much.
Mr. Joseph Z. Amenewode 10:30 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, in the latter part of the hon. Minister's response, he mentioned rightly about this motorcycle thing, that they are trying to arrange facilities for Assembly Members to enjoy such as Members of Parliament are enjoying, that is, in the case of the vehicles. The hon. Member actually wanted to know what allowances will be given to them.
If I use my constituency or my district as an example, they are given fifty thousand cedis per sitting for two days -- average three sittings a year. That gives them three hundred thousand cedis per year for four years, and that is one million, two hundred thousand or a hundred and twenty new Ghana Cedis. Now how can they enjoy the facility? Because we are paying for our motor vehicles from our salaries and they do not enjoy salaries. So how can the hon. Minister reconcile people not taking
salaries but sitting allowances, paying for motorcycles provided on the same facility or basis as those of us the Members of Parliament?
Mr. Asamoah-Boateng 10:30 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I wish to educate my hon. Colleague on the value of the currency change so that he knows the value is going to be the same so that he knows how to deal with it. My hon. Colleague is assuming that Assembly Members do not have any other way of earning a living; and that is incorrect.
Most Assembly Members have a way of earning a living and I am aware if we find this kind of facility they will be able to afford it on a monthly basis. It is interesting to know that they are very eager to interact with their people and the cost of a motorcycle; an average motor- cycle is not so expensive that they cannot find some means to pay on monthly basis. I think I share that view, so that they can also help their communities to be part of the democratic dispensation we are experiencing.
Mr. E. T. Mensah 10:30 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, in the last paragraph of the Minister's Answer, he indicated that his Ministry is exploring the possibility of acquiring motorcycles for the Assembly Members just as the privilege that we in this House are enjoying. I want to find out from him whether that is a privilege or a right and also whether no other officers, public servants, Judiciary and others, those other servants of State enjoy the said privilege -- which is not a privilege.
Mr. Speaker 10:30 a.m.
Deputy Minority Whip, please ask one question.
Mr. E. T. Mensah 10:30 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, my question is, I want to know from him whether other members of the public service -- we have the Legislature, the Executive and the Judiciary -- whether
the two others enjoy what he considers privilege or not.
Mr. Speaker 10:30 a.m.
This certainly is not a supplementary question. If you want to ask a supplementary question, please ask.
Mr. E. T. Mensah 10:30 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I think my question is clear. I want to know from the Minister, whether apart from Members of Parliament that he is comparing with the Assembly Members with regard to the provision of means of transport, the other arms of State, that is, the Executive and the Judiciary also enjoy the same.
Mr. Asamoah-Boateng 10:30 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I will bail my hon. Colleague out. I think what he wanted me to do was maybe to add that, apart from Members of Parliament, others also have privileges; and it is true, that other arms of Government enjoy the privileges so whatever we also enjoy the Assembly Members can enjoy.
Mr. Doe Adjaho 10:30 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I have listened quietly to the hon. Minister. The question is whether there is any plan to take over the payment of salaries to Assembly Members; that is the question. He went on to quote model Standing Orders which have been in existence for over ten years and a whole lot of things. We are asking him, is there any policy? Is there any plan? Yes or no? We want to find out from the hon. Minister.
Mr. Asamoah-Boateng 10:30 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, currently, as I stand here now, there are no plans to pay Assembly Members. There is a reform process which we have started in my Ministry to look at the whole Act 462 and the District Assembly operations. It may be possible that at some stage the question of payment to Assembly Members would come in, but as I speak to you now, there are no plans.
Mr. Speaker 10:30 a.m.
Hon. Minister, thank you very much for appearing to answer these Questions. You are discharged.
Item 4 -- Statement by the hon. Member for North Dayi.
STATEMENTS 10:30 a.m.

Ms Akua Sena Dansua (NDC-- North Dayi) 10:40 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to make this Statement on HIV/AIDS stigmatization and the paradox of advocacy messages.
I make this Statement in my capacity as the Member of Parliament for North Dayi and also as the Secretary for the Coalition of African Parliamentarians Against HIV/
Before I make the Statement, it is necessary to inform this House that this week is being observed by the UN as the global HIV/AIDS Week. And the news we heard on the BBC today indicates that there are presently 40 million people living with HIV/AIDS globally, half of whom are women. The news item also says that HIV/AIDS kills about eight thousand people daily and it is precisely for this reason that the issue of HIV/AIDS is being taken seriously.
Mr. Speaker, this Statement is meant to highlight the contradiction inherent in anti-HIV/AIDS messages vis-à-vis the impact we want such messages to have, especially in our drive to reduce or do away totally with the stigmatization of HIV positive people or people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHAs).

Mr. Speaker, it is evident that HIV/ AIDS advocacy and campaign messages tend to perpetrate the stereotypical attitude of Ghanaians towards HIV/AIDS and especially towards people living with HIV/AIDS. Ghanaians generally tend to think that HIV/AIDS is mainly a sex- related condition. Hence anybody who is HIV positive or lives with HIV/AIDS is seen as immoral and undeserving of societal love, empathy or care.

Mr. Speaker, a cursory content analysis of HIV/AIDS advocacy messages, especially billboards, in drama, songs and others tend to emphasize sex as the main or popular means of HIV/AIDS trans-mission. The emphasis on “safe sex” and the use of condoms in such messages is overwhelming, forgetting that there are more equally prominent means of HIV/ AIDS transmission.

Mr. Speaker, available literature enumerates several other causes of HIV/ AIDS, including blood transfusion, the use of unsterilized medical equipment such as surgical blades, injection syringes and scissors, the common use of household items such as razor blades, scissors, toothbrushes, enema syringes and even hairdresser's equipment such as unsterilized scissors and manicure and pedicure tools.

Mr. Speaker, let us look at the numerous barbers and hairdressing saloons which use unsterilised equipment but which are patronized by thousands of Ghanaians daily. Let us also consider the teeming numbers of people at the grass roots who patronize fake doctors and herbalists who use incision as their main mode of treatment as well as people who ignorantly continue to communally use razors, blades, toothbrushes and also hair and nail cutting equipment of mobile barbers and


Mr. Speaker, are these not even worse means of transmitting the HIV/AIDS virus, considering the number of people involved? Why do we not also highlight these other equally harmful means of HIV/ AIDS infection, instead of the habitual focus on “SEX” as the popular means of transmission?

Mr. Speaker, the discrimination and stigmatization suffered by PLWHAs arises mainly from this perception hence the reluctance of PLWHAs to publicly declare their status.

Mr. Speaker, we cannot expect to make headway in the anti-stigmatisation campaign when the messages we send out continue to emphasize sex as the main means of infection. Stakeholders like Parliamentarians, health workers, religious leaders and even the Ghana AIDS Commission will continue to spend large sums of money urging society to show compassion on HIV positive people, or people living with HIV/AIDS without much success if we do not change our HIV/AIDS advocacy or campaign messages to take the focus off sex.

Mr. Speaker, I seriously implore the Ghana AIDS Commission to take this issue seriously so that we can effectively and holistically fight the issue of stigmatiza- tion and discrimination suffered by PLWHAs which success rate presently is rather low.

Thank you, very much. Mr. Alex N. Tettey-Enyo (NDC --

Ada): Mr. Speaker, I rise to support the hon. Member who made the Statement and to contribute to this important Statement which affects the lives of our youth and also affects the economic development of this country.

We have to take the AIDS situation as a very serious influence on the economic development of this country. And therefore the Statement being made in order to spread the focus -- I will consider it a spread of our focus on the prevention that must come through our advocacy against all the activities that promote the spread of the disease. I am particularly concerned about the effect of the use of instruments, knowingly or unknowingly, to promote the spread of this disease, especially among our youth.

As the hon. Member who made the Statement has indicated, there are several ways in which the AIDS epidemic is being spread which people have not taken seriously -- the ordinary use of instruments in our homes, the barbers' shops, the beauty salons and so on and so forth where people do not think they are acting in a way to promote the disease.

The largest sector of people being affected by the AIDS epidemic is the youth. And therefore, prevention of the disease must start very early in the lives of our youth. I am particularly concerned about the activities that are taking place that will affect our youth in the basic schools in particular during their normal school activities, in their homes and also during the activities in which they find pleasure, that is, when they are playing.

Therefore, what the Statement seeks to do is, to me, not merely to change the focus because the AIDS epidemic is known to be a sex-related condition and we cannot doubt that. But if we want to succeed with our attempt to fight against the AIDS epidemic, then we have to look at the several ordinary activities that affect the spread of the disease, namely, the use of instruments for beautification that may attract the incidence of AIDS.
Mr. Isaac K. Asiamah (NPP -- Atwima-Mponua) 10:40 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, thank you for this opportunity to contribute to the Statement on the floor. Mr. Speaker, I so much cherish this great Statement. Mr. Speaker, we are all aware that HIV/ AIDS has economic, social and biological implications on any nation.
Mr. Speaker, my contribution is centred on the issue of commercial sex workers. Indeed, we are all aware that prostitution is illegal in this country. But then we are also aware that some people indulge in prostitution. Mr. Speaker, the concern is, how safe are these people who engage in this illegal or illicit trade?
Mr. Speaker, it will shock you to hear that when you travel across the length and breadth of this country, almost every country, almost everywhere, there are pockets of prostitutes and these people are very marginalised in the sense that because this whole thing is illegal, the right to even demand some of these things do not exist. And it is an area we need to take a critical look at, whether as a nation, we should consider making prostitution legal or we should confront the problems that go with prostitution. It is important that we take a
decision on this illicit trade that is rampant in our society.
The other issue I want to touch on is the perception -- and I am happy my other hon. Colleague talked about the fact that the HIV/AIDS mostly affect the youth, more particularly the young women. Mr. Speaker, it is almost sad that some men, who are sixty years plus think and believe that when they get HIV they have ten years more -- Some of these irresponsible men take advantage of their age and they continuously infect our young women with HIV/AIDS.
Sometimes, it is deliberate; they consider their ages and say that they have just about ten years to live so if they contract HIV, what at all is it? Mr. Speaker, this is very irresponsible and we should confront these irresponsible men in our society.
Mr. Lee Ocran 10:50 a.m.
On a point of order,
Mr. Speaker. The hon. Member is trying to cast a slur on elderly men, as if he has some proof. It is a very bad thing he is trying to do and I think that since he does not have any proof, he must withdraw the statement that he has made.
Mr. Asiamah 10:50 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, though definitely this is a perception that we have, and those perceptions translate into realities, they end up indulging in that and I have much more evidence. If he wants more evidence, I can provide him with more. He can see me in chambers for more evidence on that.
Mr. Speaker, as I was saying, if you talk of advocacy role, nobody does it more than hon. Members of Parliament; we go to our constituencies, we interact with them. Sometime ago, we used to have some funds for hon. Members of Parliament to promote HIV awareness. As at now that fund is no longer in existence; it is no longer happening.
In effect, I am asking the Ghana AIDS Commission and this House that has power to decide what should be spent in this country to decide as a matter of urgency to provide funds for Members of Parliament to promote HIV awareness. It is critical because this has implication on economic growth and everything. So I urge this House that has the power to decide on what should be spent to really look at how we could empower hon. Members of Parliament to continue with their advocacy role.
My last comment is about the spread of HIV. Mr. Speaker, if you look at the spread pattern of HIV in this country or in most developing countries, it normally happens in the rural communities, among marginalised groups. Therefore, the question we should ask ourselves is: has it got to do with the economic situation of the people?
In this case, let me read to you an argument once made by President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa. He argued that HIV has more to do with poverty. It is important that we address poverty if we want to confront the issue of HIV. Yes, because if we talk of promiscuous lives and other things, I do not think Africans engage more in sex than the Europeans. But look at the spread pattern. You go to the developing countries, poor countries and they are more affected with the HIV/ AIDS disease and that is why we must re- visit this issue of poverty and its impact on HIV.

I believe strongly that if Africa would make a headway, we must confront the issue of poverty because evidence has shown, and scientifically so, that a nutritious lifestyle can reduce the rate of spread of HIV. When you eat more nutritious foods, a balanced diet, even if it is in you, it can reduce drastically. So clearly, we must confront the issue of poverty. If our people eat balanced diet, and more nutritious foods I believe this thing can be reduced to insignificant levels.

Mr. Speaker, with this few contribution, I thank you.
Mr. Ken. Dzirasah (NDC -- South Tongu) 10:50 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, in refocusing our attention on areas other than sex as sources of HIV infection, I would like to comment on what for want of a better description, I would call the ‘presidential initiative on hair-cuts'.
Mr. Speaker, there is currently a policy under the Youth Employment Programme to facilitate the haircut of school children en masse. Mr. Speaker, therein also lies the danger because when that thing happens, diligence would suffer and out of the desire to profit, those who would be involved in that exercise are likely to be one source of the spread of HIV.
Mr. Speaker, I recall that when about four, five years ago, this subject came up -- the issue of AIDS -- I made a contribution which for the benefit of those who were not here at this time, and probably also for the benefit of the entire public, I would like to recount.
Mr. Speaker, about five years ago, I was in the company of some experts, some drawn from America, some from Nugouchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research and other medical facilities and it was disclosed that one young girl aged 12, visited the hospital and because of
Mr. Simon Osei 11 a.m.

Bosomtwe): Mr. Speaker, I rise to lend my support to the Statement made by hon. Akua Sena Dansua, Member of Parliament for North Dayi.

Mr. Speaker, HIV/AIDS is a silent

and slow killer, killing so many people especially the youth. Mr. Speaker, I am very happy that the hon. Member is trying to draw the attention of the public and all those who are involved in educating people on the HIV/AIDS menace to the way it spreads.

Mr. Speaker, much emphasis has

always been placed on the sexual aspect of acquiring HIV/AIDS and very little attention is given to the other sources where one can acquire the disease. Mr. Speaker, I think it is time most of these barbering shops and salons that deal with manicure and pedicure were critically examined.

The instruments that they use and the various equipment that they have must be inspected and they must be given certificates of operation to enable them to carry on with their businesses. In that case, if one does not have this certificate to operate as a barbering shop, then the law catches up with him. Mr. Speaker, when this is done I think our people, our barbers, those who are dealing with manicure and pedicure would make it an obligation to acquire the requisite equipment and also sterilize them such that they would minimize the spread of the disease among our people. Mr. Speaker, other than that, we would be preaching always against sexuality whilst people would be acquiring it from other sources.

Again, Mr. Speaker, we have some people who move around using blade and other implements to cut nails for people. These implements are not sterilized yet they jump from one client to the other cutting their nails. Assuming the first person is infested and there is a cut and blood comes out then other people on whom these implements are used are also likely to acquire the disease.

Mr. Speaker, I think these people should be stopped. Those people who move round around with blade and other equipment cutting nails from house to house and from shop to shop, I think it is time they were stopped before they worsen the HIV/AIDS situation in the country.

Mr. Speaker, let us look at the social and the economic effects of people who do acquire HIV/AIDS. First of all, there is always pressure on the limited health facilities in the country which creates more problems for the Government, with its meagre budgetary resources, to allocate more resources to the health sector to meet the health needs of the people.

Mr. Speaker, I think if these things are curtailed to some extent, it could also help reduce the pressure on the Government in the provision of more health facilities, especially in areas that already do have these facilities, but due to pressure on them the Government is supposed also to expand them and even provide additional ones instead of building some for those who do not have them.

Mr. Speaker, those who also die from the disease leave orphans behind who become social burdens to the State and their people, having nobody to care for them and at the end of the day when we are not lucky, they join the unemployment band wagon. They stand on the streets

begging. Some sell dog chains, some also sell handkerchiefs and chewing gums on the streets. All these become social burdens for the country.

Mr. Speaker, again, the saddest aspect is that most of the people who are seriously affected are the youth who are supposed to form the labour force of the country. So if we are losing these people, all that it means is that the meagre resources that we have invested in training them are going waste and after some few years, we are going to have problems with the labour force.

Mr. Speaker, so the Statement the hon. Colleague has just made should be taken more seriously and greater attention should also be given to educating people on the other forms of acquiring the virus whilst at the same time highlighting on acquiring the disease through sex.
Mr. Lee Ocran (NDC -- Jomoro) 11 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, so much has been said about the possible causes of HIV/AIDS. But one of the possible major causes which we have ignored is the activities of itinerant wanzams.
Mr. Speaker, the act ivi t ies of unregistered wanzams who use unsterilised equipment to work on organs are the first major transmitters of HIV/AIDS, and in areas where female circumcision is practised, their female counterparts are also transmitters as well. Mr. Speaker, I would want to use this opportunity to call on the Ministry of Health to try to register these people and train them on the type of equipment to use and how to sterilize them.
When you look at the statistics of Africans infested with HIV/AIDS these days, you would see little children some of them might perhaps have acquired it from their mothers who were infested during pregnancy. But a large number of them, I suspect have acquired the disease through
Mr. Kojo Armah 11 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, on a
point of order. My hon. Friend on the floor has used the word wanzam and I thought he would go on and explain what it is. He has not done that but he continues to use the word. We want to know the meaning of wanzam and what they do.
Mr. Ocran 11:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the hon.
Member should know wanzam. [Laugh- ter.] Mr. Speaker, one of the other causes may be ear-piercing. These days, you see young men going round with some equipment piercing the ears of men and not even the women; and the women also have additional piercing all round the ears -- [Interruptions.] Nobody ever cares to ask whether such equipment are sterilized.
So I would like to call on the Ministry of Health to bring legislation to this House so that the activities of these people could be properly regulated. Otherwise, we may put up the billboards, we may supply the condoms but we may be treating only part of the cause leaving out the other major causes of the disease.
Mr. Speaker, with these few words, I would like to commend the maker of the Statement.

Expression of Appreciation by MP for Nkoranza North

Maj. Derek Oduro (retd.): Mr. Speaker, I thank you sincerely for giving me the floor to make my maiden Statement in this august House. [Hear! Hear!] The few days I have spent in this House have portrayed to me the cordial relationship that exists among hon. Members who, apparently divided with their diverse opinions about issues, are only contributing to democracy and good governance.

As a new Member, I have already been overwhelmed by the warmth and cordiality that greeted my first appearance in this House, and the enthusiasm with which I was accepted in my capacity as the Member of Parliament for Nkoranza North. Mr. Speaker, I want to express my deepest appreciation to all of you for the wonderful reception that, for me, will forever remain the foundation for my interaction with hon. Colleagues.

As this is my first address to this House, I would like to use this forum and the opportunity to express my gratitude to the chiefs and people of Nkoranza for the peaceful election and the confidence they have reposed in me by electing me as Member of Parliament for Nkoranza North.

They deserve this gratitude because they have kept faith with the ruling party, recognizing and appreciating competence on the part of the present leaders of the country. Mr. Speaker, I say a big thank you to Nananom, my elders and the people of Nkoranza, on behalf of the New Patriotic Party.

Now, on behalf of Nkoranzaman, I would also like to thank my predecessor (hon. Nana Amoateng) who, through the ruling Government, initiated the improvements that our communities enjoy today. For a long time, the area had no tarred roads. As I speak to you, the construction of the Nkoranza-Jema Nkwanta road, the Pinihi-Manso stretch and the Tankor-Fiema road are underway.

We are grateful for this. We are also grateful for the schools and teachers' bungalows in some of the communities. Our prayer is that development shall reach all the rest of the communities so that they will also have a share in the national cake.

As a Member of the Republic's

Legislature, Mr. Speaker, I also have responsibilities that are national in character; and I am sensitive to these responsibilities. Therefore, on behalf of the people of the entire country, I would like to express the nation's gratitude to the ruling Government for coming so far within a short space of six years.

Nkoranza led the way in the setting up of a health insurance policy scheme. Today, we are proud that the Government has extended this health delivery system to the entire country to replace the old cash and carry system. I concede that at the national level, there have been teething problems, particularly, adminis-trative bottlenecks. I hope that all stakeholders will pull together to fix the identified hiccups.

The people of Nkoranza have for a long while tasted the goodness of the health insurance scheme. The nation stands to benefit from it. We are also pleased with the Capitation Grant and the School Feeding Programme that have increased enrolment in basic schools in the constituency from 58 per cent to 72 per cent within the last one year.

Once upon a not-too-distant time in

the past, the Nkoranza area used to be a vastly forested area which had several cocoa farms. Today, most of the forest cover is gone, giving way to savannah foliage which itself has come under serious threat because of the yearly ritual of wildfires. Today, this nation is having serious problems with power generation and much of the problem is attributable to deforestation which itself is substantially caused by bushfires.

To sustain our water bodies and ensure

that posterity after us can have water for their everyday needs, it is necessary to ensure that the wooded areas along our water courses are protected against farming activities and felling of trees. The environment of Nkoranza which is a very important food producing food area is degenerating, and I want to use this opportunity to appeal to those people who delight in setting fires to the bush in the dry season to put a stop to this.

If this is not done and pursued at the highest level through effective sensitization of the populace, the result could in the very near future be cataclysmic for the country, not only in the area of food security, but also in access to potable water, power generation, and ultimately on the quality of life in the country.

It is my belief, Mr. Speaker, that in the years ahead, the people of Ghana would remain steadfast in their support for the wind of positive change that is blowing across the country, and support the Government in its transformation of the country into a haven of peace and prosperity.

Once again, I thank you, Mr. Speaker,
PAPERS 11:10 a.m.