Debates of 11 Jul 2007

PRAYERS 10 a.m.


Mr. Speaker 10 a.m.
Order! Order! Correction of Votes and Proceedings of Tuesday, 10th July 2007. Pages 1…13. [No correction was made.]
Mr. J. B. Aidoo 10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I have two corrections to make.
Mr. Speaker, column 1532, line 4,
‘east' should be ‘west'. It should read: “our fisherfolk west of Axim” and not “our fisherfolk east of Axim”. And Mr. Speaker, throughout the contributions on this Statement, the word “algae” has been spelt “alga”, it should not be so.
The word ‘algae' is a sea-weed and therefore I think it should be “algae growth”, there should be an ‘e'. Mr. Speaker, without the ‘e' it means a different thing altogether.
Mr. Speaker 10 a.m.
Thank you very much. Majority Leader, is the Minister for Health in the House?
Mr. F. K. Owusu-Adjapong 10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the hon. Minister for Health is not immediately available but I chatted with him and I got his permission to let his

Deputy respond to the Questions.
Mr. Speaker 10 a.m.
Question number 1004; hon. Haruna Iddrisu, Member of Parliament for Tamale South, ask your Question.


Mr. H. Iddrisu 10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the hon. Deputy Minister, over a year ago, made a Statement on the floor of this House and at that time, he suggested the cost of the Tamale Regional Hospital to be 44 million euros. He said also that they had secured funding. How do we reconcile that with the new Answer that he has given today?
Mr. Owusu-Agyei 10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I am very happy that my hon. Colleague is also referring to the previous Answers that I gave. But the fact is, as time goes on and with time lapse, it becomes necessary for a revision of funding arrangements. At that time, the figure I gave the hon. Member was the current one. It is just about a year ago so the current figure is what I am giving the hon. Member.
Mr. H. Iddrisu 10:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, is he aware that His Excellency the President on a visit to Tamale following the recent rainstorm that hit the people, indicated at a meeting with the regent of Tamale, Gukpegu Gbanlana that the hospital was to be constructed at a cost of US$70 million, which contradicts his €50 million?
Mr. Owusu-Agyei 10:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I do
not know whether he mentioned dollars or
Mr. H. Iddrisu 10:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, just to help the hon. Deputy Minister, in his own Statement over a year ago, the conversion of €44 million stood, in his own words at US$77 million. I am saying that only a few months ago, in April, the President is reported to have said that construction was to take off even this year and quoted the figure at US$70 million; that cannot be the equivalent of €50 million.
Mr. Speaker 10:10 a.m.
So what is your question?
Mr. H. Iddrisu 10:10 a.m.
So my question is, whose word are we to rely on -- his word or his boss's word?
Mr. Owusu-Agyei 10:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, it seems some figures are being given my hon. Colleague. He knows when a project is conceived, even if you have a few days lapsing, there happens to be changes in the project cost. But he is giving me figures presented by the President and I will have to verify. But what I am saying is that there are even additional works.
If you want to revise your own drawings on a building, it may happen that some designs may be obsolete so the project cost varies depending on when the variation really took place. I am assuring the hon. Member that the figures I have given are the most current. So if he is giving me a figure which His Excellency the President might have given him, I have to verify.
Mr. H. Iddrisu 10:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, is he aware of the effects of the sorry state of the Teaching Hospital on the development of the University of Development Studies Medical School?
Mr. Owusu-Agyei 10:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, we are all aware of what is happening there. We know that the School of Medical Sciences depends on the hospital as a teaching hospital. That is the reason why we are expediting action on the reconstruction of that hospital.
Meanwhile, we are making other facilities available for teaching the students. Some of the students have facilities available at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), and some also at Korle Bu. So although the hospital is not yet ready, we have facilities to cater for them.
Mr. James K. Avedzi 10:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the hon. Deputy Minister gave the breakdown of the €50 million as €17 million as grants, €28 million as loan from Fortis Bank of Holland and €4 million from the Government. But the total of these three figures is €49 million. Who pays the difference of €1 million?
Mr. Owusu-Agyei 10:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, if there happens to be any difference, it would have to be borne by the Ghana Govern-ment. Normally, you have to carry the decimal point and that is the reason why you see the figure of €49 million. But it is €50 million, that is when you carry the decimal point.
Mr. Moses Asaga 10:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, my question is, what was the amount? Was it 49 point something that he is converting to 50 or 48 point something that he is converting to 49? This is because in terms of decimal points, it does not run to what he is telling us.
Mr. Owusu-Agyei 10:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I think my hon. Colleague there asked that if it is 49 point something, then why am I saying €50 million? Normally, if it is 5 and above, you carry forward to the nearest higher figure. My hon. Colleague
knows what I am talking about. So even assuming that it happens to be lower than 5 you still have to round it off to 50. There is nothing wrong in rounding it off to 50.
Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 10:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, is the hon. Minister aware that if the figure is, say, 17.4, it would read here as 17? If it is 28.4 it would read as 28; and if it is 4.3, it would read as 4? Is the hon. Deputy Minister aware of that? [Interruptions.]
Mr. Speaker 10:10 a.m.
Hon. Chief Whip, this is not a supplementary question.
Personnel, Equipment and Drugs to Health Centres in Hohoe
South Constituency
Q. 1005. Mr. J. Z. Amenowode asked the Minister for Health what the Ministry is doing to provide personnel, equipment and drugs to the following Health Centres in the Hohoe South constituency in order to improve their effectiveness as primary healthcare providers of the NHIS:
i. Have
ii. Goviefe Todzi
iii. Nyagbo Gagbefe
iv. Tafi Agome
v. Logba Vuinta
vi. Ve Ghad
vii. Golokuati
viii. Leklebi Duga; and
ix. Liati Agbonyra.
Mr. Owusu-Agyei 10:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the brain drain of the country's health professionals over the years has greatly affected the desire of the Ministry of Health to ensure that health facilities,
especially those in deprived areas such as Hohoe South get their right complement of staff to enhance quality healthcare delivery.
The Ministry since 2001 has expanded the number of State Registered and Community Health Nurses' Training Schools in the country to improve the intake of these health professionals, who are some of the critical staff needed for healthcare delivery in our health centres at district level.
The Ghana Health Service has already developed plans for the posting of nurses who will be passing out this year to augment the personnel at the health centres in Hohoe South.
Mr. Speaker, an average amount of US$60,000 (sixty thousand US dollars) or GH¢55,200 is required to equip a health centre. The Ministry of Health has made provision for the re-equipping of the health centres countrywide and this will be carried out if it is able to secure the needed funding.
The Ministry's medical stores at the central, regional and district levels have enough stock of basic drugs for all levels of healthcare, which could be accessed by these health centres.
Mr. Amenowode 10:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I really sympathise with the Ministry of Health on the brain drain but we very much know that that cannot stop healthcare delivery; we have to go on. I am also encouraged by the Answer that the Ghana Health Service has also developed plans for the posting of nurses who would be passing out this year to Hohoe South.
I particularly take note of the health centres in Hohoe South and so I am asking the hon. Deputy Minister if I am to be assured that by this time next year, I would not be here asking a question on staffing; that there would be qualified midwives,

nurses, et cetera, in Hohoe South health centres.
Mr. Owusu-Agyei 10:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to assure my hon. Colleague there, that next year, there will be no need for this Question again. I will really take care of it.
Mr. Amenowode 10:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I am
really assured already. Mr. Speaker, the hon. Deputy Minister said they are waiting to secure funding to re-equip some of the medical centres, including those in my constituency. My question is, should we wait for funding before we can provide basic things like fridges, blood pressure monitors and snake serums for these hospitals?
Mr. Owusu-Agyei 10:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, when it comes to basic drugs, we have them. Basic health equipment also, we have them. I did say that they will be able to have enough of our newly-trained health personnel posted to all the centres in the country. There are certain equipment which are expensive. I have already said that it costs about $60,000 to equip one health centre.
Just imagine the number of health centres that we have all over the country and then you really can roughly estimate how much we will need. So the equipping of health centres, health posts, whatever, throughout the country is being done in phases. This House has been approving the budgets which come here and I think hon. Members are aware of the funding of the rehabilitation of health posts, facilities, polyclinics, whatever, in this year's Budget. So whatever is available in this year's Budget will be used to purchase equipment for those we can. Government's attention has been on the deprived areas and I assure my hon. Colleague that
funding, whether from the Government of Ghana or our donor partners, will be sought to equip all our health centres in phases.
Mr. Amenowode 10:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I have specifically mentioned some items which are lacking there, like fridge, blood pressure monitors, et cetera. Those are very handy, and those are what I am referring to. But I do not want to waste my third question. If Mr. Speaker would let him answer this, then I can ask my final question.
Mr. Speaker 10:20 a.m.
If you have a question, please ask.
Mr. Amenowode 10:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the
final question is, after supplying the fridge and the blood pressure monitors, which I know the Ministry will do, will his Ministry also consider re-employing retired but not tired health professionals in Hohoe South to man some of these centres whilst we wait for posting of the newly-trained nurses?
Mr. Owusu-Agyei 10:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I want to assure my hon. Colleague -- I think I did say that when it comes to medical equipment, the very basic medical equipment like those that he mentioned -- blood pressure monitors, refrigerators -- these are very basic, and they do not cost much. So there is no reason why the Ministry is unable to provide such basic equipment for them.
I am talking really about the major equipment. So he should just rest assured that the basic equipment will be available. He has mentioned snake serum, for instance, but the basic drugs are also available.
On the issue of retired health personnel
who can be re-engaged, I do not know whether the hon. Member is not aware that we are always re-engaging them. All those who have retired -- doctors, nurses, medical technologists, all categories of health personnel who have retired and are prepared to work, based on their health status are re-engaged. But those who want to work will have to apply. They are all being re-engaged.
Mr. J. K. Avedzi 10:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I would
like to find out from the hon. Deputy Minister, when they opened medical stores at the district level. I know we have medical stores at the central and the regional levels but I do not know that of the district level.
Mr. Owusu-Agyei 10:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to update my hon. Colleague. He left the Ministry, how many years ago? I would like to update him that we have started opening district medical stores. The issue is that it is better to have a small medical store at the district level and equip it with items as and when you procure them from the regional and central medical stores. So we have started doing that.
Integration of Traditional Medicine in Drugs List of Hospitals
Q. 1006. Mr. J. Z. Amenowode asked the Minister for Health what the Ministry was doing to fully integrate Ghanaian traditional medicine into the approved drugs list for hospitals.
Mr. Owusu-Agyei 10:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the Ministry of Health does not doubt the potency and efficacy of some of the traditional medicines and has initiated moves to integrate these medicines into the mainstream health delivery system.
The Traditional Medicine Directorate of the Ministry is currently collaborating with the Centre for Scientific Research into
Plant Medicine at Akuapim Mampong and other stakeholders to, among other things, document the chemical composition, potency, side effects and the needed antidotes of these drugs before they can be added to the approved drugs list of the Ministry.
This process requires a lot of time and resources to ensure that in our desire to embrace traditional medicine in public health facilities, we do not compromise the lives and safety of patients who will use such drugs. This measure is also to pre-empt possible medico-legal issues that may crop up if it is found that the potency and efficacy of these drugs cannot be guaranteed.
Nevertheless, the Secretariat of the Traditional Medicine Practice Council (a body set up to regulate the profession) will soon begin registration of the traditional practitioners and licensing of their practice premises.
Moreover, a B.Sc. Herbal Medicine Course has been introduced at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in Kumasi and three (3) batches of graduates are currently on internship programmes in recognized institutions.
Mr. Amenowode 10:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, it is gratifying to know that attempts are being made to integrate traditional medicine because we all know it is very, very helpful, especially those drugs from China and other places in the system, and ours could also be good. But it is also surprising that with KNUST effectively doing research work in herbal medicine, and Mampong for many years doing research into herbal medicine, we still have not been able to get the required medical composition so that we could
make the drug safe.
Now that the hon. Deputy Minister is saying they are still on it, how soon does he think we should expect this to happen since they have been at it for very long?
Mr. Owusu-Agyei 10:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I think I did say that this process is long. We started some time ago and we are still in the process. When you are dealing with human beings and drugs, you just have to be very careful. Hon. Members are very much aware of the multiplicity of drugs in the system. We have the Mampong Centre which has done some research, and we are also aware that some drugs are being produced by them. These are being dispensed.
Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Kumasi is also doing research and that is the reason why this particular discipline has been established there. You do not have a time-frame that when you are doing research in medicine you must conclude at a certain point in time. Research is conducted all along the line. Even the orthodox medicines, just to mention a simple drug like paracetamol, when it started as paracetamol, the quality was not like it is now.
So research work in medicine is a continuous process. That is why I said that it is a continuous process. This is going on and we want to make sure of the safety of the patients when traditional medicines are being applied to them. So I think you will agree with me that it is necessary to be very sure that the medicines that we produce traditionally for dispensing to our patients are very potent and would not have any side effects which will eventually, if we do not take care, call for legal action against whoever dispensed the drug.
Mr. Amenowode 10:30 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I am happy the hon. Minister mentioned that Mampong is dispensing some. I visited Mampong with the Committee on Employment and when we visited their laboratories, we saw the medicines well packaged. They actually have a hospital dispensing this. My question is, if the Mampong ones are all right and are being dispensed publicly, at least, can we not start from there by dispensing the Mampong ones -- the fever drugs they have there and others -- while we wait for major research into others?
Mr. Owusu-Agyei 10:30 a.m.
Normally, when you want to dispense drugs -- The level of production of the centre is so low that you cannot start dispensing to all health facilities in the country. I think he will bear with me -- he has been there personally. So gradually, when we are able to certify that we increase the production level, the raw material base should be there to produce -- they should be made available.
That is the reason why we have even established the Traditional Medicine Directorate in the Ministry of Health. So work is going on and will continue until we achieve a certain level of production where we can make them available to all health facilities. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Amenowode 10:30 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I am a little bit confused. We have not yet completed research into the drugs. Yes, we have researched but we have production problems. My question was on Mampong, but will he consider rather providing funding to expand the production capacity of Mampong so that they will have enough drugs, if those research findings are already there?
Mr. Owusu-Agyei 10:30 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the Ministry has already considered the possibility of funding that but the raw material base may not be there. My assurance to him is that the Ministry has already considered expanding, that is, supporting -- It is a division or a directorate under the Ministry of Health so they are being funded anyway -- That is what I should say. They are reflected in the budget of the Ministry of Health.
The Mampong Centre is factored into the budget. The level of funding may not be enough. He is asking why we are not able to provide adequate funding to the centre to expand production base. What I am assuring him is that the raw material base is so small that if we even expanded it, within a matter of a few days, you will exhaust everything.
So we need to expand the raw material base. If you happen to have visited countries like India, China, you have whole plantations of herbs which serve as the source of material for those traditional medicines.
Mr. J. K. Gidisu 10:30 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, since the establishment of the Mampong Centre for Scientific Research into Plant Medicine, its mandate, among other things, was to collaborate with the Ministry of Health in the areas that the Minister identified. Why is it now a highlight of the Minister's reaction as if it is new? Is it not part of the feet-dragging of the Ministry with regard to the promotion of the activities at that centre? Is it now that they are recognizing it as a collaborative agency ever since its inception some 30 years ago?
Mr. Owusu-Agyei 10:30 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the Ministry has been collaborating with this particular agency all along. It is not now that we are doing it. I do not know whether he thinks it is now that we are collaborating with it.
He may be aware, if he has visited the Centre -- It has reflected in the budget of the Ministry of Health all along and the collaboration has been there but probably the level of funding might not have been adequate enough to let them expand their activities. And as I said, the raw material base may not be there and if you do it, what are you going to do to be able to expand production?
So the assurance I want to give to my hon. Colleague is that the collaboration has been going on all along, since this Centre was set up several years ago and we are all aware that the collaboration is even deeper now. We must admit that the collaboration with that Centre is deeper now than it used to be. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. A. K. Agbesi 10:30 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, since the Ministry does not doubt the potency and efficacy of some of the traditional medicines, I want to know whether the Minister will consider assisting some of these practitioners who find themselves in serious financial difficulties to carry on their practice.
I am particularly concerned about those who are engaged in the treatment of accident victims. There are victims whose legs or arms are supposedly to be amputated but when they go to these practitioners, they get themselves well healed within a few weeks and they can move. Will the Ministry be in a position to finance them so that they can improve the treatment of these victims?
Mr. Owusu-Agyei 10:30 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I want to just let my hon. Colleague know that there has been deeper collaboration also with the traditional medicine practitioners. We have two different groups and we meet occasionally. The last time that we met at the Civil Servants Hall, I was the one who even addressed them. We meet and we know that we have a programme of supporting some of these our traditional
medicine practitioners when it comes to funding their activities.
We do not have enough funds now to do it but the Ministry can assist under our programme for the private sector development of the health sector. But we have to screen them and work out how we can assist these our traditional medicine practitioners. Probably, I may have to find some more details as to what is going on in that Directorate and then let my hon. Colleague know.
Mr. Ibn Mohammed Abass 10:30 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, in the Answer of the hon. Minister, he indicated the raw material base as an inhibiting factor for the consideration of the Ministry to add traditional medicine to our mainstream drug list. What is he doing? He went ahead to also mention the examples of China and India where we have plantations to support traditional medicine. What is he doing to ensure that in Ghana, we also have such projects to support the raw material base?
Mr. Owusu-Agyei 10:30 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I would not want to promote anybody's product. If I went ahead and mentioned some product, it would seem as if I am promoting somebody else's product. But I want to assure hon. Members that some level of work is going on currently with a view to expanding the production of the raw material for traditional medicine. And as I said, I would not want to mention -- I think hon. Members have heard of the regenerative aspect of our treatment that we are promoting at the moment -- regenerative medicine. We have been mentioning a few drugs which can even be planted by ourselves in our homes and used. As I said, I would not want, on the floor of this House, to mention any particular product. That would seem as if I am promoting somebody's herbal drug.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. E. T. Mensah 10:40 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, in the Deputy Minister's Answer to the hon. Member for Ashaiman's question about those that I call traditional orthopedic surgeons, he said briefs them occa- sionally. Why does he not reorganize and meet them quite often around issues rather than meeting them occasionally? Why does he not, in other words, institu- tionalise the meeting with these people and also look for funds? He ought to have some funds somewhere that could be used. So if he institutionalizes the meetings, he could help them with the funds that he has out there.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Owusu-Agyei 10:40 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, that is the reason why we have established a whole directorate for traditional medicine in the Ministry of Health with staff there, and they have been meeting them regularly. Actually, our office is accessible to every traditional medicine practitioner. The meeting that I told him about was a bigger meeting involving almost everybody in the country; it is actually spread all over the country -- invited participants from all over the country.
But that Directorate is available for meeting on a daily basis and I can find out what exactly they are doing to assist the traditional medicine practitioners in accessing funds in expanding their businesses.
Mr. E. T. Mensah 10:40 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, even the bigger group that he claims he meets occasionally -- my concern is on the occasional basis. You can meet occasionally once in four years. Why does he not institutionalize the meeting with this group which is very important? They are doing very good work as far as
Mr. E. T. Mensah 10:40 a.m.

the masses are concerned. Why does he not institutionalize the meetings and meet about issues and monitor the secretariat which meets them quite often?
Mr. Owusu-Agyei 10:40 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I want to assure the hon. Member that the meetings have been institutionalized. The meetings do not necessarily need our presence. They have been meeting regularly. It is only the quarterly ones that we are invited to address. Apart from the quarterly ones, occasionally we are invited to address the regular meetings and some of the traditional medicine practitioners even call on us regularly in the office for any assistance that we can offer.
So I want to assure the hon. Member that apart from the occasional and once a quarter meetings that are held, there are several meetings which take place any time at all and these are organized by the Directorate and other staff of the Directorate.
Nyagbo Konda and Leklebi Wobe (Clinics/Health Posts)
Q. 1018. Mr. J. Z. Amenowode asked the Minister for Health whether the Ministry will consider as a priority, the provision of clinics or health posts for the following communities located in mountainous areas which are inaccessible by motor transport: (i) Nyagbo Konda and (ii) Leklebi Wobe.
Mr. Owusu-Agyei 10:40 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the current policy of the Ministry of Health to provide healthcare delivery in such deprived and hard-to-reach communities is through the provision of community health planning and services (CHIPS) which are managed by community health nurses.
Nyagbo Konda and Leklebi Wobe are among some of the communities that are
being considered by the Ministry for the provision of CHIPS facilities and this will be carried out when the Ministry is able to secure the needed funding. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Amenowode 10:40 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I am glad Nyagbo Konda and Leklebi Wobe are among the communities to be considered when funding is available. In the meantime, Mr. Speaker, would the Ministry consider mobile treatment regimes where nurses are sent to these communities at least, once a week to see to ante-natal cases, malaria and other similar types of cases?
Mr. Owusu-Agyei 10:40 a.m.
The issue of mobile treatment is being considered on a regional basis. As I speak now, I do not even know whether the Regional Director of Medical Services in the region is already doing this. Normally, where you do not have any taxi there at all, any taxi to any community, the Regional Director organizes mobile treatment for cases in that area.
So it is a very good idea and if that is not being done, what I want to assure my hon. Colleague is that this mobile treatment facility is being offered. At times, you even know that we offer outreach programmes. Where we do not have health facilities, we move a whole staff, doctors, nurses and other para- medical staff to the area to offer treatment. So I want to assure my hon. Colleague that this mobile treatment idea is laudable. We have been doing it and we have even in addition been conducting outreach programmes, which are bigger than this mobile treatment outreach.
Mr. Amenowode 10:40 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the problem, as we are aware, is funding and then most of the time when we talk of health centres, the budget brought is
so large but I would want to know if the Minister would consider Government and community participation in the building or construction process which is, by my experience, far less expensive; we provide the materials and then the community provides labour to put up the building.
It brings the budget down to at least 50 per cent by my estimation. I want to know whether the Ministry will consider that when we are thinking of funding not being available.
Mr. Owusu-Agyei 10:40 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I want to assure my hon. Colleague that joint funding of our projects is already going on. But there are cases where communities themselves have offered funding to construct health facilities and they call on us to man them, that is to send health staff, equipment and drugs. It has been going on and I am sure that even in our Parliament at the moment, there are some hon. Members of Parliament who have constructed health facilities in their constituencies and they are asking us to assist by sending staff, equipment and drugs.
So it is a very good idea that reduces the pressure on the Government's budget. If my hon. Colleague would be able to or has been able to offer one from his Common Fund, we would be prepared to come and assist in manning the centre for him. Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Amenowode 10:40 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, it seems the hon. Minister has rather jumped the gun. I was only asking whether the Ministry should source funds to supply only materials and not award jobs to contractors who we all know quote higher prices. But he has come to my third question and since he has already answered that, I was going to ask if through the community we get a facility, the Ministry will give us staff, equipment
and drugs. I have had many assurances to that effect. I want to remind the Minister that I am the Ranking Member for the Assurances Committee and I am taking note.
Mr. Owusu-Agyei 10:50 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, on the issue of the Ministry providing the materials for the community to build, there are instances where we are asked to provide the materials. This is, we buy the materials and the community will use a direct labour to have the construction done. And that really brings down the cost of the project. And that is being done in some of the communities. And then on the other issues like equipment, whatever, I think we are helping. Mr. Speaker, thank you very much.

Somanya District (Polyclinic)

Q. 1034. Mr. Raymond A. Tawiah asked the Minister for Health what plans the Ministry had put in place to provide Somanya with a polyclinic.
Mr. Owusu-Agyei 10:50 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the Ministry has no immediate plan to provide Somanya area with a polyclinic. This is because access to health facility for the people of Somanya is very easy. The Atua Government Hospital and the Agomenya Catholic Hospital are located less than 6 km away from Somanya.
Due to resource constraint, the Ministry does not provide another health facility if there already exists a similar facility in the same vicinity. This is to avoid duplication.
Mr. Tawiah 10:50 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I want to ask the hon. Minister if it is not the policy of the Ministry that each district should have its own hospital, and whether he knows that Atua Government Hospital is not in Yilo Krobo District but in a different district altogether.
Mr. Owusu-Agyei 10:50 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I
want to assure the hon. Member who just spoke that normally when we talk about the catchment area for a health facility, we do not have to limit it to our districts. This is because assuming that there is a health facility located just on the borderline between one district and another district, if the Ministry is considering the construction of a new facility the Ministry would go to an area where there is none at all. So there is no strict demarcation between the two facilities in terms of district location of a health facility.
Mr. Tawiah 10:50 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, Atua
Government Hospital is serving the two districts and they are very large districts. Manya District has two constituencies and so when one adds Yilo District it becomes very, very large. The population is very large and people complain that when they go to the hospital there is a very long queue and they spend so many hours before they are attended to, and this has necessitated the need for a district hospital.
I am not even asking for a district hospital; I am asking that we should start with a polyclinic and then gradually it will be upgraded. As I speak now, the district on its own, that is, Yilo/Krobo District, has started something in the form of a polyclinic. I would like to ask the hon. Minister if he would be kind enough to supply us with the needed equipment to start the polyclinic.
Mr. Owusu-Agyei 10:50 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, if the
community or the District Assembly has made every effort to construct a polyclinic, the Ministry does not see why it should not come in to assist. But the hon. Member's original Question related to why we do not build a polyclinic at Somanya and we are saying that we have to spread the resources very thinly. Fortunately,
Somanya happens to be endowed; Atua Government Hospital and others are only six kilometres away.
He also mentioned that his district is very wide. If it is necessary to consider locating another health facility in an area within his district which is far away from Atua Government Hospital or from Somanya then I think that would be rather supported.
But whatever the hon. Member has done, in view of the number of patients who come to the Somanya Hospital, he has planned to build the polyclinic and has made the effort -- Whatever effort he has made, the Ministry would supplement it by providing him with the equipment where the Ministry has them or the personnel.
Mr. J. K. Avedzi 10:50 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to find out from the Deputy Minister whether the Ministry has reviewed the policy of providing at least a district hospital for each district.
M r. S p e a k e r : T h i s i s n o t a supplementary question.
Deputy Minister for Health, thank you very much for appearing to answer these Questions. You are discharged.

Mr. Obbin 11 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, from the hon. Minister's Answer, he said that according to a report from a group of farmers at Dumase, an incident involving some members of the Dumase community and a detachment from the police and military occurred. May I know the type of incident that occurred on that day.
Mr. Amoah 11 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, as I said in my Answer, the incident happened on 16th January 2007 and I thought that when my hon. Colleague was even asking the Question, he himself would have provided the exact date that this incident occurred. In fact, as I mentioned in this Answer, since January 2006 we have not actually experienced such incident in terms of the soldiers coming from 2BN. [Interruptions.]
Mr. Speaker 11 a.m.
Hon. Minister, do not be distracted. Do not be disrupted at all.
Mr. Amoah 11 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, can the hon. Member come again. [Laughter.]
Mr. Obbin 11 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the companies destroyed fish ponds, hamlets, and many other property of the people of Dumase, and for six months they have not been paid compensation. If you looked at the introduction to his Answer too, he said that when there was the galamsey, 2BN conducted a research and went there to evict the galamsey operators. But they have destroyed the property of the people of Dumase, the main source of their livelihood.
Do the people of Dumase, not having been paid any compensation for the destruction of their crops for six months -- they also want to be heard because even as I stand here, I was called upon by
Mr. Obbin 11 a.m.

Some hon. Members: Ask your question.
Mr. Speaker 11 a.m.
Mr. Obbin 11 a.m.
My question is that, do
the people of Dumase merit the brutalities meted out to them by the soldiers instead of the police?
Mr. Speaker 11 a.m.
Your supplementary question again, please.
Mr. Obbin 11 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, to cut it short, I want to know why the military was used to disperse them instead of the police.
Mr. Amoah 11 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, first of all, let me say that there has not been any report that Golden Star Resources Limited has destroyed any farms. As contained in the Answer, they had told them that the farms would be affected. Just before they started to actually take over the farms, another report came to the farmers that the programme could not come on. So I want the hon. Member to understand that the report that he has does not suggest that Golden Star Resources Limited has destroyed any farm, or any fish pond or any hamlet of any farmer.
As to what he said, why the soldiers were used, the soldiers were not used to brutalize, as alleged. We are all aware that following the “Operation Calm Life” exercise in the Western Region, we had police-cum-military attachment and anytime there was an issue, we could ask the police-cum-military attachment to go
there and assist.
In this situation the police and the military went there to disperse the crowd. They did not actually go there to brutalize. There is really no indication; there is no report from any of the farmers who would actually testify that, indeed he was brutalized.
Mr. Obbin 11 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, from the hon. Minister's Answer, also, and I beg to quote:
“Unfortunately, this incident was not officially reported to either the District Security Committee of the Wassa District Assembly or the
Mr. Speaker, is he suggesting that the DISEC and REGSEC were not aware of that operation and therefore it was illegal?
Mr. Speaker 11 a.m.
Hon. Member, your last question does not appear to -- You are asking him to say whether something which happened was legal? Is that the question?
Mr. Obbin 11 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, he said that unfortunately this incident was not officially reported to either the DISEC or the REGSEC, which means there was no authorization.
I want to know from the hon. Minister whether that operation or that incident was authorized.
Mr. Amoah 11:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I am not saying that the police and the military detachment did not report to me or the District Security Council (DISEC). What I was saying was that the alleged brutality was never reported to DISEC or the Regional Security Council (REGSEC).
I know the hon. Member of Parliament knows that because of the nature of
galamsey, anytime something happens in the Western Region concerning galamsey, it is immediately reported to DISEC or REGSEC. Some of the farmers and some of the galamsayers themselves have been calling us anytime anything happens.
So what I am trying to say in this Answer is that the alleged brutality was not reported to DISEC; that means the District Chief Executive never heard about it, but it was only when the Question was asked that people went there and they said they were brutalized. So nothing like that was reported to us; what was reported to us was that the demonstrators were dispersed and there was no incident.
So we thought that if people had been brutalized, at least, the demonstrators themselves could have reported to the DISEC or the REGSEC and they would have followed up; but there was no such report to us.
Mr. Obbin 11:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the hon. Minister in his Answer said the Prestea road was blocked and that was why the soldiers went in to disperse the crowd. He is also saying that they were not there, which means there was no instruction for them. So how could he know that at that time the road from Dumase to Prestea was blocked?
Mr. Amoah 11:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, as I said earlier, the police-cum-military who went there are attached to the company. So we did not give them the instruction but I know that anytime there is a problem those personnel could attend to it. So nobody gave them the instructions to go there but we are very much aware that they are attached to the company. They heard that the vehicles that were going there came back and reported to the security that they could not cross because the road had been blocked.
Mr. A. S. K. Bagbin 11:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the hon. Minister in his Answer used the
Mr. A. S. K. Bagbin 11:10 a.m.

term “minimum force”. Mr. Speaker, my information is that in that incident, what he referred to as “incident” at least, one death was recorded. What does he mean by “minimum force” on this occasion?
Mr. Amoah 11:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I do not have any information that anybody died. It is not true.
Mr. Speaker 11:10 a.m.
Hon. Western Regional Minister, thank you very much for appearing to answer these Questions. You are discharged.
STATEMENTS 11:10 a.m.

Minister (Ms. Theresa A. Tagoe) 11:20 a.m.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for giving me this opportunity to make a Statement on World Population Day.
Today, 11 th July, marks another World Population Day and Ghana, once again, joins the rest of the world in the celebration. The Global Theme for the celebration this year is “Men as Partners in Maternal Health”, from which Ghana has adopted the theme, “The Ghanaian Experience @ 50 with Men as Partners in Maternal Health”. We have just celebrated fifty years of independence and it is important to critically look at policies and programmes that have been developed to address maternal health in the country.
Mr. Speaker, it is estimated that of the 229,000 maternal deaths that occur globally every year, 48 per cent occur in Africa, especially among poor women. In the developed countries, however, the risk of maternal deaths is as low as one per cent. In Ghana the maternal mortality rate is 214 per 100,000 live births with some
areas having rates as high as 700 to 800 per 100,000 live births.
Despite the efforts of the Government to improve maternal health, women continue to die through pregnancy and pregnancy-related complications. A major hindrance to the advancement of maternal health is the elimination of the deep- rooted traditional practices and beliefs. In many parts of Africa, including Ghana, where patriarchy is the norm, men as the dominant decision-makers wield a great deal of influence and control over women.
Mr. Speaker, crucial decisions concerning family size and spacing of births are most often taken by men without seeking the views of their partners although these partners' health and wellbeing are affected. It is common knowledge that fathers have a high stake in choosing not only the time but also the persons their daughters marry. Sometimes such daughters are forced to abandon their education for early marriage which can lead to high-risk pregnancies.
Mr. Speaker, men as major decision- makers in the society should act as agents of change in reducing maternal deaths. Their involvement in discussing their family size, contraceptive usage and access to reproductive health services with their partners is essential for reducing maternal deaths.
Mr. Speaker, another area that needs the support of men is in the use of family resources. The control of family resources is important in seeking medical attention for family members, especially females. In most societies it is the male who decides whether or not to pay for transportation for the pregnant partner to visit the clinic or a midwife. Delays in sourcing resources make some females not to get fast treatment for their disease

conditions. There are times women have to seek permission from husbands or male relatives to leave home to obtain healthcare.

Research has shown that if men are made partners in maternal health programmes they will be in a better position to understand and appreciate measures that should be put in place to deal with such programmes. When men are sufficiently provided with relevant information concerning maternal health they can plan together with their partners to ensure that preparations are made for safe delivery during childbirth.

This wil l a lso avoid potential complications and unnecessary delays which have been identified as major causes of maternal deaths. Indeed, this process of information, education and sensitization should begin with the boys so that they can grow up to be responsible adults.

Mr. Speaker, the feminization of AIDS epidemic is a reminder that women should be empowered to protect their health. This requires a critical change in the lifestyles and behaviours of men through increased condom use, fewer sexual partners, delaying the start of sexual activity and abstinence. Additionally, men should seek voluntary testing and counselling and, also, play advocacy roles as peer educators to encourage others to halt the spread of


Mr. Speaker, the National Population Council recognizes the role of men as partners in maternal health. The Council advocates the involvement of men in population programmes. It also seeks to promote gender equality in all spheres of life, including family and community life.
Minister (Ms. Theresa A. Tagoe) 11:20 a.m.

Some Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), religious bodies as well as civil society have incorporated responsible parenthood into their programmes. This is evidenced by the formation of Daddies Club by the Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana to educate members on reproductive and gender issues.

Members of Parliament also have a very important role to play in addressing maternal health issues in the country. We must advocate for the review and where necessary enactment of laws that promote male involvement in maternal health. There is also the need for us as parliamentarians to ensure that adequate resources are allocated for population- related programmes, including maternal health.

To conclude, we as Members of Parliament should shape public opinion to get the necessary support for women's health and well-being.

Mr. Speaker, I thank you most profoundly for this opportunity.
Mr. J. K. Avedzi (NDC -- Ketu North) 11:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I thank you for giving me the opportunity to add my voice to the Statement made by the Chairperson of the population caucus. Mr. Speaker, the hon. Member who made the Statement outlined some factors that usually lead to high mortality rates in this country. I would also like to identify a few of the factors.
Mr. Speaker, first of all poverty is one
of the factors that lead to high maternal mortality rates. There are couples who wish to attend healthcare centres when the woman is pregnant for the midwife to attend to the woman but because of lack of funds -- There is no money in the house to even cater for the food that they will eat that day, how much more getting money
to attend hospital.
So poverty is a major factor that prevents pregnant women from accessing
healthcare. It is a major factor and therefore Government must make provision for how we can have these women attend hospitals without paying any fees, or how they can even be encouraged to move from one point to the other. That can be done by bringing the facility closer to the people because if I have to move for some three or four kilometres before a midwife can attend to me and I do not have money to take taxi or trotro, I will sit in the house. Therefore, we have to make provision for bringing these midwives closer to the women so that they can have attention from these midwives.
Mr. Speaker, there is another factor, that is illiteracy. Some women do not understand why they should even receive healthcare because they believe that their parents or their grandparents did not receive any such healthcare before they gave birth to them. So illiteracy is another factor. Once the people do not understand why they should go to hospital or see the midwife, there is no way one can convince them. They may have the money but because they believe that their parents or grandparents did not have that facility before giving birth to them, they would also not go. So there is the need for more education of our pregnant women; we must explain to them the need for them to have their pregnancies checked by the midwife so that they can have safe delivery.
Mr. Speaker, one of the factors also is about the spacing of birth. Some women, especially the educated ones believe that if they space their births in a short period they can have -- Maybe, in three years
they have had two children; or in five years they can have three children so that they can finish giving birth and have time for themselves. This can also lead to problems that are pregnancy-related. So spacing of birth is another factor and we have to educate our women on how they should space giving birth so that this would not lead to death or pregnancy- related factors.
Some also believe that having many children will help them on their farms or in their fishing work. Having too many children is another factor. So spacing of children is very important.
Mr. Speaker, there is another factor which contributes to the high maternal mortality rate. This factor is lack of entertainment in our rural settings. Entertainment usually keeps people away from going to bed early, but because they lack facilities that would keep them away from going to bed early they rush and go to bed; and we know what goes on when we are in bed.
Mr. Speaker, so there is also the need for us to try and bring this entertainment facility to the rural setting. If electricity is brought to rural settings and with some television sets, people would not be compelled to go to bed early when there is a nice programme on television; they will keep wake. They will sit in the sitting room and watch television, and by the time they go to bed the manufacturing of babies would not go on, as it is going on now.
Mr. Speaker, I think I have more issues to talk about but I will end here for other hon. Members to contribute. I thank the maker of the Statement and I want other hon. Members to contribute to it.
Mrs. Gifty Eugenia Kusi (NPP -- Tarkwa Nsuaem) 11:30 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to contribute to the Statement on the floor of the House.
Mr. Speaker, the theme is very appropriate, “Men as Partners in Maternal Health”. Mr. Speaker, since men play an important role in reproduction, the theme this year, as I said, is very appropriate. This is because, Mr. Speaker, it takes two to reproduce and therefore it should take two to ensure that the vehicle through which reproduction takes place is well taken care of.
Mr. Speaker, we know that, just as the hon. Member who made the Statement said, men control a lot of resources in this country. In most societies they are the people who decide on how much money goes where. So Mr. Speaker, I think it should be very appropriate for men to take charge of this problem because it is very serious -- high maternal mortality rate; the women are dying.
Mr. Speaker, because they do not die at the same place -- For example, if there was an aeroplane that would crash and four hundred people would die everyday, people would marvel. The whole world will rise up. But Mr. Speaker, the statistics show that everyday, in the world, over four hundred women die through childbirth. Mr. Speaker, every hour a woman dies. So this is very serious and I think the men should help.
Mr. Speaker, the main causes of high maternal mortality rate have been identified through three main delays -- [Interruptions] -- I am not saying they should stop reproducing but they should do it with caution. Mr. Speaker, three delays have been identified -- The delay in deciding to seek healthcare. When a woman is in labour and she needs care,
Mrs. Gifty Eugenia Kusi (NPP -- Tarkwa Nsuaem) 11:30 a.m.

there is the decision of the family to take the woman to where she will get some help.

The decision rests on the whole family and the man is the head of the family in most societies. And then husbands and fathers-in-law have to decide that this woman should be taken to the hospital. And that decision, Mr. Speaker, sometimes takes so long that the labouring woman will have to suffer. At the end of the day when the family has decided that the woman should be taken to the hospital, when they get to the hospital, there would be too much delay and the woman would die at the hospital.

Mr. Speaker, we urge fathers-in-law and husbands to take note that if they delay in deciding to take the women to where they will get the necessary help, the cost is very dear to the women, and we lose a lot of lives through that.

There is also the delay in reaching the healthcare, when a decision has been taken. Most of our drivers are men. Mr. Speaker, when a woman in labour is standing by the road side, some drivers refuse to pick her saying that she will stain the vehicle; when they die in their vehicles, they will have to pacify the gods and all that. Mr. Speaker, men should be educated to know that if they do not pick women in labour, if they refuse to do so most women's lives would be lost through that mistake on their part.

Mr. Speaker, when they get to the healthcare centre after going through all these delays, there is the need to pay these deposits -- “bring this, bring money, go and buy drugs”. The men sometimes would be running around.

Mr. Speaker, I want to say that men can help here if they are able to put aside some money for this situation; they know their

wives will be in labour. But Mr. Speaker, they spend the money unnecessarily; sometimes some of them take second wives and all that and then they will not save some money. So if they say “men as partners in maternal care”, Mr. Speaker, this is very appropriate. This is because they know they cannot even look after one wife, but Mr. Speaker, they will take two, three, four -- and it is a whole lot of problem. So Mr. Speaker, men should be advised.

Mr. Speaker, when a pregnant woman has to go to the antenatal clinic, she needs money. Sometimes they even do not have money for taxi. They do not even remember because pregnancy is such that they are in a different world altogether. Their husbands should always be by their side; advise them and ask them, “What did the doctor say?” Comfort them, at least. Tell them sweet words. This is because pregnancy, Mr. Speaker, is something that is very serious and we need the comfort.

It is not only when you need us that you support us, but when women are pregnant their men should be by their side and make sure that they give them all the necessary help -- psychological -- all the attention that they need to bear their children for them.

Mr. Speaker, I also want to say that

just as I said at the beginning, if men will collaborate with women in this business of making babies, I think that women are not going to die in their numbers as they are now. Sometimes, at the hospital, you will find women with babies who have been detained for one month, two months; where are their husbands? They are nowhere to be found.

So Mr. Speaker, if -- [Interruption] -- Yes, we know that now there is the National Health Insurance Scheme.

Sometimes, they need money to register; the men are not there to help them. But they have the money, they have the resources. Most of them are more enlightened than their wives.

So we are urging all men to understand that they are partners in preventing maternal deaths. They should go on. We encourage them. Some of them are very good. We want all men to know and to help their wives, comfort them so that this business of baby making does not fall on only the vehicle, which is the woman. Let the men help.
Mr. Joseph Yieleh Chireh (NDC -- Wa West) 11:30 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, first of all I would like to commend the hon. Member who made the Statement. This matter is very serious and we should attach importance to it because all of us in this room are in this room because our mothers went through this process. We are urging fathers now to be supportive of women when they are in the critical stage of pregnancy leading to delivery.
Mr. Speaker, what we need in this country is a policy guideline. It cannot be a private arrangement. There must be a statement by the relevant Ministries guiding everybody, including men, as to how we can assist women to reduce the high mortality rate.
Again, the responsibilities that we leave to women, particularly when they are pregnant or in labour, should be shared by men; and this cannot come about if we, as a nation, do not have a guidepost, policy document that will guide everybody to help us change first, our attitudes and then the cultural practices that have in the past prevented us from being part of this whole business of increasing our population through easy means.
Women need our support as men but it is not just saying that women need it.
Mr. Joseph Yieleh Chireh (NDC -- Wa West) 11:40 a.m.

We must see it as a duty and that duty, first of all is to make sure that when your wife is going to give birth, you are tapping her and touching her, for her to feel that she is really loved; and her pain would be reduced.

The nurses are now educated to

understand that the women need their men by their bedside and I will urge every Member of Parliament to show interest in maternal health of women. We must ensure that the services that we are talking about are really accessible; we must educate people who are delivering these services to appreciate the peculiar nature of women who come there.

Of course, a lot of talk has been going on about detention of women who have delivered in our healthcare facilities, and what so far has been done. It is one philanthropist after the other who would go and pay for the detainees to be released.

Really, I think that the National Health Insurance Scheme must provide a way out. It should not be at the instance of one hon. Minister who when he likes it announces that they have released this much money for detained children to be released. It should be a clear policy directive so that we give encouragement. If you want quality population to be able to move this country ahead, the process of getting quality people will begin with the pregnancy and right up to the delivery. It is not when somebody who is detained already is coming out depressed, that would make a quality person to move your country.

Again, I will urge that more education

be done particularly in the rural areas. We
Mr. Joseph Yieleh Chireh (NDC -- Wa West) 11:40 a.m.

still have customary barriers, practices that dissuade particularly women who are pregnant from eating certain nutritious food and I urge all of us to include these things when we are interacting with our constituents. Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for the opportunity.
Mr. I. K. Asiamah (NPP 11:40 a.m.

Mponua): Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for the opportunity to contribute to the Statement on the floor. Mr. Speaker, I am so much happy that I have the opportunity to revisit a call I made to this House sometime past.

Mr. Speaker, from the contributions of hon. Members, it is clear that that call is still relevant today -- the call that we should consider it as a nation, to grant paternity leave for men. It is important to consider this thing, because other countries practise it so why can Ghana not practise it?
Mr. J. K. Gidisu 11:40 a.m.
On a point of order.
Mr. Speaker, my hon. Colleague opposite has not the practical exposure to the issues under discussion for him to be making suggestions which run counter to the realities. So Mr. Speaker, he is misleading the House.
Mr. Speaker 11:40 a.m.
You are out of order.
Mr. Asiamah 11:40 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I do not
need any practical experience in this. I have a caring mother, of course, and I have many, many mothers and sisters in
this House. [Hear! Hear!] Mr. Speaker, I am so much exposed to what I am talking about. For the information of this honourable House, I have a seven-year old daughter and come August ending hon. Isaac Asiamah is going to get married. That is for the information of this House. [Laughter.]
I think it is important that we consider granting paternity leave to men. Mr. Speaker, this would promote love and tender care for the newly born baby. It will also allow mothers to continue to further their education and also to continue to pursue their economic interests.
Mr. Speaker, it is important that as a nation, we consider right from the word go how we bring up kids. Because love for the community, love for the nation begins right from the word go. Sometimes it is practical. If you received bad treatment from the school that you attend, it is difficult to go back to your school to help. So as a nation, we must begin right from the word go to inculcate that spirit of love and tender care in our kids. It is very very important.
Mr. Speaker, in promoting quality healthcare or quality reproductive healthcare, it is important that we make the National Health Insurance Scheme more friendly and more accessible to everybody. Mr. Speaker, if as a House, we can consider the policy, as was said by my hon. Colleague, that at least, delivery at all clinics should be free, it will not promote any irresponsibility because whether we like it or not, this is a biological need. It is going to continue to happen. It is also about generation. A country must assist its generation.
I do not believe in this argument that
population growth and overpopulation bring about poverty or other social problems. What we lack as a nation is technology; that is it. Otherwise China today will not be making more strides. So it is important that we encourage child birth so that we sustain the nation. It is also important that we rather promote quality kids. So the National Health Insurance Scheme should be made more friendly.
I will also commend the Ministry of Manpower, Youth and Employment for the training of auxiliary health assistants. Mr. Speaker, some of us who come from the rural communities are so much happy with this programme because at least it is augmenting the existing personnel in the respective clinics and health centres in our rural communities. When you go out there they are practically working to support our mothers.
Mr. S. K. B. Manu 11:40 a.m.
On a point of order. Mr. Speaker, the hon. Member is misleading this House. Mr. Speaker, those girls that he is referring to as street girls have the same right as any other woman that you find around. If such a person attracts the love of a rich man, what is wrong with that? [Laughter.] So he has to consider them as being human beings who also have every right to marry a rich man. They need love and he must consider marrying one of them. [Laughter.]
Mr. Asiamah 11:40 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I think,
Mr. Asiamah 11:40 a.m.

as I said, love-making is a biological need. I said that. But what I mean is that sometimes - That was why I used the word “irresponsible”. They go about sleeping with these innocent girls and abandon them.

So it is the issue of abandoning these girls I am talking about. It is not the issue of somebody making love or somebody finding a partner who happens to be on the street. No. That is neither here nor there. The point I am making is the issue of being responsible to these so-called street girls that they may meet on the street.
Ms. Esther Obeng Dappah 11:40 a.m.
On a point of correction. Mr. Speaker, you do not call such people mad women. They are people with mental health problems.
Mr. Asiamah 11:40 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I would take my mother's advice. I would not debate that, and I kindly withdraw and use the phrase, though it is still controversial, “mentally challenged”. I think it is better than the one I used. [Interruption.]
Mr. Speaker 11:40 a.m.
Hon. Member, are you concluding or you are not?
Mr. Asiamah 11:40 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, if you say so I would do that. I have more points to talk about but if you say so I will conclude.
Mr. Speaker 11:40 a.m.
Go ahead.
Mr. Asiamah 11:50 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I think the key to this whole debate is education. Education, as has been stressed, is vital in all these things. Normally, we do not seem to be aware that reproduction is both a male and female affair. We need to note that whether we like it or not, we are all here because of reproduction. Repro- ductive healthcare is key to the survival of every community. It is key to the survival of every nation and indeed we can only make progress economically when we take reproductive healthcare seriously.
Mr. Osei Kyei-Mensa-Bonsu 11:50 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, may I crave the indulgence of the House and your own permission to allow the Deputy Minister for Finance and Economic Planning to lay the Paper on behalf of the Minister for Finance and Economic Planning.
PAPERS 11:50 a.m.


Mr. Yaw Baah (NPP -- Kumawu) 11:50 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, thank you for giving me the
opportunity to contribute to the motion on the floor, on the transfer of convicted persons. I have two main things to speak on.
The first has to do with paragraph 7.1.4 of the Report. “Abolishing of Death Penalty in Some Jurisdiction”. Since this country embarked on the current dispensation which has been with us for the past fourteen years -- I am talking of the Fourth Republic -- Ghana has not officially abolished the death penalty. However, since 1993, no one, on death sentence has been sent to the gallows. Therefore, it appears that this area of the law is not being practised to the word.
If you look at how people are granted amnesty and whatnots -- Currently, people after being on death roll for ten years get a reprieve; your sentence is commuted automatically to life impri- sonment. Then after ten years of life imprisonment, it is commuted to that of twenty years. That is to say, anyone on death roll, after twenty years, subject to good behaviour, gets the reprieve of walking out of our prisons.
Therefore, I am proposing that we need to come clear on this matter so that those foreigners whose countries have enacted this legislation will be taking advantage of this rather than waiting for a period of ten years before one gets automatic reprieve.
Currently, we have about three nationals of other countries and two of them have their countries having enacted this legislation yet they have to wait for ten good years. So I am just proposing that we need to revisit this issue since for the past fourteen years no convict has been sent to the gallows.
Another area which I want to talk
about is the congestion in our prisons. Your Judiciary Committee of which I am privileged to be the Chairman, undertook a tour of two regions which was followed up by public fora on the issue of the non- custodial sentence becoming the first option of the sentencing policy of this country. What we gathered and which is the fact is that our prisons are too congested to talk of. In view of this, certain precautionary measures need to be put in place before the operation of this Bill which we are all supporting.
I am proposing a transitional period
Mr. A. K. Agbesi 11:50 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I
heard my hon. Colleague saying that he is proposing something before the operation of this Bill. I want him to clarify what he means by that. Is he proposing something to be done before the enactment or the operation of the Bill? It is not clear what he means by these two words so if he can be clear on these two words.
Mr. Yaw Baah noon
Mr. Speaker, I am
proposing something similar to what has been captured under the Disability Law. If you look at the Disability Law -- I am referring him to section 61 -- there was transitional provision that by the end of ten years, all facilities and others should have been in place for our people who are physically challenged to also enjoy life as normal people. And if we look at the current Bill -- “Transfer of Convicted Persons Bill” -- there is no such a provision.
What came out during our visit to Nsawam was that Nsawam prisons has capacity for only 717 people. Currently, as at last Friday, when we went there, the

population had risen to 2,196. When you go to Ho Central, it has the capacity of only 176 but the current inmate population is 376. So one could appreciate -- In one room, there were as many as 54 when it is supposed to contain only 24 people.

So at this time of the day, with this country having enjoyed independence status for 50 years, we have inmates of prisons sleeping in batches. The first batch will sleep between 6 p.m. and 12 midnight and the cell leader and the deputy have to wake them up for others who have been sitting down to also utilize the facility.

The concern is, if the prisons are so congested, then some measures must be put in place before this law becomes more operational. So I am calling for a transitional period of two years with the passage of this Bill. By then, all measures would have been put in place to decongest our prisons so that we do not end up compounding the problems of those inmates who will be coming from outside.

After all, what is the object of this Bill? The object of this Bill is to make sure that they utilize the facilities over here where they will be nearer to Ghanaians, unless someone will convince me that they will be constructing a special prison for these people from outside, especially Ghanaians who want to use this facility. But definitely, the answer is no because the current situation is such that since independence there has been only one prison that has been added to the system and at independence, the population of Ghana was only six million.

All the prisons we have today were colonial legacies. Today, the prisons are like dungeons of the slavery era of about two/three hundred years ago. So we need to be addressing this problem. What

should be done to decongest these prisons before we expect Ghanaians to cash in on this indulgence so far as this Bill is concerned?

I now call on stakeholders to work assiduously around the clock as concerned Ghanaians because when we speak on the issue of good governance, among them is enjoyment of right or anything of that sort. But if you go to the prisons, it is a worst scenario altogether.

So I am just expressing the need for all stakeholders especially those of the Judiciary to realize that Ghana has reached a stage where, in line with our sentencing policy, the non-custodia sentence must be given the first option rather than other deterrent measures -- of punishment or retaliation.

If you go to the prisons today people on remand are more than those who have been convicted and are serving their various sentences. So something must be done seriously and it calls for concerted effort, especially the issue of extending warrants of remand in the prisons because those of us who are officers of the courts know the usual practice.

What we see is that the prosecutors would come with the remand warrants, and when they get to the Registrar's office, do their own things. By the end of the day, when the judge is deeply involved in cases and he has numerous cases to deal with, they just put them on his or her desk and without seeing the inmates they just grant the wish of these prosecutors. So they end up compounding the problems in the prisons again.

Mr. Speaker, in conclusion, I also appeal that all commanders -- I am talking of officers in charge of various police stations -- who are in the habit of keeping people just for trivial offences, minor
Mr. F. A. Agbotse (NDC -- Ho West) noon
Mr. Speaker, I stand to speak to the motion and to confirm most of the things said by the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee.
We visited the prisons in Nsawam,
Ho and in Kpando and in each of these prisons, there is so much congestion. You see human beings as if they are on slave ships to the Americas as it used to be in the past. We need to do something about the congestion in our prisons before we transfer convicted prisoners from any part of the world.
We saw three foreigners in Nsawam
Prisons and we saw about 10 in the women's wing of the Nsawam Prisons. They were all on drug charges and they were afraid of going back to their countries. Most of them are Nigerians. They know the treatment they would get when they get back to Nigeria so they are not willing to go back. So the congestion would be there.
If we go to Nigeria and bring our prisoners here I am not sure they would be willing to come back to their countries. We know that there are some Ghanaian prisoners in Bangkok and other prisons in Thailand but we do not know the number of Ghanaian prisoners in other places. We are even wondering whether Ghanaian prisoners in London or in England would even want to come back and serve their sentences in Ghana because of the inhuman state of our prisons.
Mr. Speaker, we have looked at the difficulties in the transfer of convicted persons to Ghana. It is a transfer. The foreigners here go and the Ghanaians come. But the question is, will Ghanaians living in other countries come to Ghana to serve their sentences here? So we would be compounding the problem if we pass this Bill now. I would say that having worked on this Bill, having talked to several people, there are a lot of problems with this Bill. And we must act on the problems, resolve them before we pass it for convicted prisoners to be brought to Ghana.
Mr. Speaker, the report says that the President, on his visits to several countries in the world, was confronted by prisoners -- Ghanaian convicted persons -- and that is one of the reasons why we are passing this Bill. My question is, did the President go inspecting prisons outside Ghana? So where did he get the reports from, according to what we see in the report of the Committee?
My conviction is that this Bill must not be passed now. We must do some more work on the problems that would be encountered when we start implementing it. Mr. Speaker, with that, I say the Bill should be suspended for the meantime.
Mr. Yaw Osafo-Maafo (NPP -- Akim Oda) noon
Mr. Speaker, I share the view of the hon. Member who last spoke. There
Mr. Kofi Osei-Ameyaw noon
On a point of order. Mr. Speaker, currently, we have extradition treaties with various countries where we transfer convicts or accused persons. So what the hon. Member is saying, to some extent, is true but if you look at the Extradition Act, then you would say that that would not be the correct way to look at it because by transferring, as it were, in terms of extradition, we do that and we bear the cost.
So that would not impinge on what we are doing now. I just thought I should let him know that extradition takes care of that.
Mr. Osafo-Maafo noon
Mr. Speaker,
yes, extradition would take care of those countries that we have such extradition treaties with. We do not have it with every country.
Mr. Speaker, when we are looking
Mr. Speaker noon
Hon. Member for
Kumawu, do you have a point of order?
Mr. Yaw Baah noon
Mr. Speaker, it has
not been my habit to interrupt when an hon. senior Colleague is speaking. But I just want to maybe, give a little education on the issue.
If you look at the Memorandum
accompanying this Bill, it speaks of governmental to governmental level. However, the cost would be borne by whoever is seeking the assistance. So the issue as to who escorts here and there is a governmental issue but rather the cost would be borne by the alleged convict who is seeking such an indulgence. So it is governmental to governmental and they know how to work and make sure that this thing is done.
Mr. Osafo-Maafo 12:10 p.m.
Mr. Speaker, this
even complicates the matter. So are you expecting the prisoner you are extraditing to bear the cost? On which guarantee systems are you talking about? Mr. Speaker, there are budgetary implications on this matter and we should look at it.
Mr. Speaker, there are also different conditions existing in different countries for prisons. Some prisons on the continent call them -- they are almost like homes, like here, so people would prefer that they commit a crime here in Ghana, and they will prefer to be extradited to Germany or to United Kingdom.
Mr. Speaker, we must be careful which of the offences we are talking about. If a lady is raped here and then after that offence people seek this transfer, we will create a problem. So I think, as the hon. Member said, there should be further
Mr. Speaker 12:10 p.m.
Hon. member for North
Mr. Hodogbey 12:10 p.m.
Exactly so. Mr. Speaker, I think the hon. Member is misleading this House. To state that Ghanaians living outside this country, serving under conditions which are not good -- As a matter of fact, it was not the Ghana Government which sent them there to commit those crimes whereby he should be pleading for them for Ghana Government to come to their aid. Therefore he is misleading the House.
Mr. Speaker 12:10 p.m.
You have no point of order, let him continue.
Mr. Fuseini 12:10 p.m.
Mr. Speaker, all that I am asking is, must we shut the door to Ghanaians who are serving prison sentences outside Ghana, and are living in conditions which are so dehumanising and are appealing to us as a country to provide them with an opportunity to come home, to be nearer their families, to have periodic visits of their families, offer them comfort and hope, such that one day they can serve their prison sentences in their own country and rejoin and integrate into this society called Ghana?
Mr. Speaker, I think that we must not shut the door to these people. I think that the memorandum to the Bill says clearly that this Bill is a scheme proposed by the Commonwealth Secretariat. It means that there is a general consensus among Commonwealth countries which are not captured by the Extradition Treaty.
That we signed with other countries which have seen the need to exchange prisoners to come up with a scheme which allows them to transfer prisoners across borders without recourse to the Extradition Treaty. That is what this Bill is doing. We are seeking to join the Commonwealth of Nations which have elected unto themselves an opportunity to transfer their prisoners.
Mr. Speaker, the memorandum to the Bill does not close its eyes to the problems that will confront the implementation of the Bill and that is subsequently captured on page 3 of the Report.
Mr. Speaker, with your permission, I beg to read 12:20 p.m.
7.1 The Committee observed that even though the general principles and policy underlying the Transfer of Convicted Persons Bill are laudable, there are a number of concerns which must be addressed during implementation . . .”
Mr. Speaker, which are these concerns? These include concerns in our various prisons, establishing the nationality of convicted persons, cost of transferring convicted prisoners, logistical limitations and the abolition of death penalty in some jurisdictions.
Mr. Speaker, what it means is that the Committee, when it met and considered the Bill, identified these problems and said that these problems are not mutually exclusive to the implementation of the Bill; meaning, we can take the problems on board in the implementation of the Bill.
Mr. Speaker, I agree that this imposes on the Government -- the Executive -- a responsibility to take steps to reduce the congestion in our prisons. This places a responsibility on the implementing authority to ensure that people who apply to have themselves transferred to Ghana to serve their prison sentences are actually and indeed Ghanaians.
This places a responsibility on the Executive to ensure that the logistical limitations that will confront the
implementation of this Bill are taken off. And so, it places a responsibility on Ghanaians as a whole to ensure that when this Bill is passed, the Executive will put in place measures that will lessen the congestion in our prisons, that will ensure that we will receive people who are truly and actually Ghanaians and that will ensure that logistical constraints are removed.
Mr. Speaker, I think that it is a good Bill and I think we should support it for what it is worth, for the people of Ghana who are yearning to see their family members who have been incarcerated in East Asia, for the people of Ghana who are yearning to have periodic visits to their family members who are incarcerated in Libya, for the members of their family who are yearning to have periodic visits to their family members who are serving prison sentences in Europe.
Mr. Speaker, it is agreed that when this Bill is passed, the reality is that some prisoners will not even take advantage of that because the conditions in which they serve their prison sentences are far better than our prison conditions.
But the question is, do we say that because of those people who are serving their prison sentences in countries whose prison conditions are better than ours even though they will not take advantage of the Bill, we should shut the door to those other prisoners who are serving their sentences in areas which are very dehumanising?
Mr. Speaker, I think the answer is no. Whatever opportunity, even if it is one person who will take advantage of the Bill, we should encourage that person.

Mr. Speaker, many other Members are talking about the cost. The cost of
Mr. Yaw Osafo-Maafo 12:20 p.m.
Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. Mr. Speaker, when you talk about budget implication, when you talk about cost sharing it means Ghana would bear part of the cost. It means that we would spend the taxpayers, money on the matter. So it did not defeat the argument of those who are worried about using the taxpayers' money to settle it; whether it is cost-sharing or not, Ghana would bear part of the cost.
Mr. Fuseini 12:20 p.m.
Mr. Speaker, Ghana
would certainly bear part of the cost. But Mr. Speaker, why is Ghana bearing part of the cost? Ghana is bearing part of the cost because the person who is seeking to come to Ghana is a Ghanaian, and that is the reason why Ghana would have to bear part of the cost. So if another country's national is being transferred to the receiving country, that country would bear half of the cost because the receiving country is receiving its national. That is the logic of this arrangement that you expend part of the money that is involved in transferring the prisoner on your own citizen.
Mr. Speaker, I am saying that unless the provisions in the Bill are amended, not everybody would qualify to be transferred to Ghana. The Bill makes provision for a minimum sentence to run, so if you do not

qualify under that minimum sentence, you do not apply.

Mr. Speaker, with these few words,

I urge this honourable House to support the Bill, give hope to the people and to Ghanaians, especially those serving prison sentences in East-Asia, serving prison sentences in Libya, serving prison sentences in countries in which prisons are not places to serve sentences, to come home and have the benefit of their family members visiting them while they serve prison sentences here.
Alhaji M. A. Yakubu (NPP -- Yendi) 12:20 p.m.
Mr. Speaker, undoubtedly, like any other Bill, there may be some rough ends that have to be smoothened and where there would be a problem of implementation, it would be appropriate to make the necessary amendments.
That notwithstanding, Mr. Speaker, we should remember that there is a powering spirit behind this Bill. The hon. Member for Ho West (Mr. Francis Agbotse) was wondering whether His Excellency the President has visited prisons in the countries he has visited before he got his complaints. I think the memorandum of the Bill explains it. On the first page, paragraph six or so, it says that:
“The President of the Republic has on some foreign trips received persistent requests from citizens of Ghana living abroad to enable Ghanaian convicts serve their prison sentences in this country.”
What it means is that it is not like the President went to the prisons to meet the prisoners; Ghanaian citizens in the countries that he had visited, seeing the conditions of Ghanaian convicts in those countries, have made appeals to the President. So it is not the question of the President going to the prisons.
Mr. Speaker, there are certain situations
Alhaji M. A. Yakubu (NPP -- Yendi) 12:20 p.m.

-- and prisons in Thailand have been mentioned -- where Ghanaian citizens undergo such treatment not just because the prison conditions in those countries are bad but they are being treated because of where they come from. It is such an appalling condition that if you are a Head of State or a responsible citizen of the country, you would be touched by the condition in which your fellow citizens notwithstanding the fact that they may have committed some crimes, are subjected to. You cannot with conscience close your eyes to it. Bills like these are to open the window or a door to enable you not to allow your hands to be tied where your countrymen and women are in very, very dire circumstances, crying to you but you have no way out because of lack of legal framework. Therefore a Bill like this must touch our conscience.

The Bill is very clear, it is not automatic that as soon as somebody applies then he is granted. Section four is to set up detailed circumstances. The Attorney- General and Minister for Justice can advise the Ministry of the Interior based on the merits of the case. If we have a way of giving relief to our fellow citizens who unfortunately have found themselves in very, very difficult situations, why do we not give ourselves the chance to come to their aid?

The spirit behind this Bill, Mr. Speaker, is overwhelming in terms of our humanity; we have no right to sit down and see Ghanaians treated below human level and then we have no power, we have no opportunity or whatever to do anything about it. It does not matter that some people are travellers who have to go --We have freedom of movement and the fact that our fellow citizens have moved out of this country to other places does not mean that they should be thrown away as if they were not Ghanaians; they still continue to remain Ghanaians.

So I think that we should not throw the baby away with the bath water. I think that we should look at the Bill and wherever we need amendments to be made, let us make them, but bearing in mind the overriding principle behind the Bill. Posterity would judge us harshly if we have this opportunity and we throw away the Bill.

Mr. Speaker, with these few words, I

would like to support the spirit of the Bill and to say that we should support the Bill with the appropriate amendments so that Ghana would have a way of dealing with difficult situations.
Mr. Speaker 12:30 p.m.
He has finished, you
have no point of order.
Maj. (Dr.) (Alhaji) Mustapha
Ahmed (retd) (NDC -- Ayawaso East): Mr. Speaker, in December 2003, I had the opportunity to attend a conference in Bangkok, Thailand. Specifically this was a forum for Medical Parliamentarians and at the end of the conference, I decided to visit a few people I knew from my constituency who were domiciled in Bangkok. And having done so, I met with the Ghanaian community led by the chairman of the local Ghanaian community there.
The first thing they told me was about the plight of Ghanaian prisoners in Thai
jails; that it was such a big issue for them that it distracted them from regular business activities because every weekend they had to spend time and money to visit the prisoners. They even wanted me to take the opportunity to visit the Ghanaian prisoners in the Thai jails but unfortunately, I could not get official clearance to do so.
On my return, I held discussion with a few colleagues and journalists, specifically, Mr. Anas Arimiyaw who had to travel to Bangkok to receive an award in journalism in 2004. So I discussed this issue with him; he went and he was able to visit one of the Thai jails.
In fact, he had to disguise himself as a catholic priest to be permitted into the jail and he held discussions with a number of African prisoners, and he was told first- hand about the deplorable conditions that they have to endure in the prisons to the extent that some prisoners including a Ghanaian had even suffered death because of the maltreatment there.

Based on this the Ghana Consul- General to Thailand followed up, visited Ghana and met with your Committee here in 2004 and promised to take the issue up with the Thai Government and see the way forward. Having received the report I made a Statement on the floor or this House in 2004 which, I believe, received overwhelming support from both sides.
Mr. Agbesi 12:30 p.m.
Mr. Speaker, the hon. Member is misinforming this House. He mentioned the Minister for Foreign Affairs. I have here the Official Report, Tuesday, 9 th March, 1999 when the Minister for Foreign Affairs, hon. Victor Gbeho spoke on this issue -- [Inter- ruption.]
Mr. Speaker 12:30 p.m.
Which year are you
referring to?
Mr. Agbesi 12:30 p.m.
Mr. Speaker, 1999.
Mr. Speaker 12:30 p.m.
Did you say 1999? He
is referring to 2003.
Mr. Agbesi 12:30 p.m.
Mr. Speaker, I am saying
that he mentioned the Minister for Foreign Affairs.
Mr. Speaker 12:30 p.m.
He is referring to
Mr. Agbesi 12:30 p.m.
Mr. Speaker, the Minister
Mr. Speaker 12:30 p.m.
Order! Order! Hon.
Member for Ashaiman, the hon. Member for Ayawaso was referring to the year
Mr. Agbesi 12:30 p.m.
Yes, Mr. Speaker. I
Mr. Speaker 12:30 p.m.
Order! Order!
Mr. Agbesi 12:30 p.m.
Mr. Speaker, I am
saying that in 1999 the then Minister for Foreign Affairs stated the position on this matter which ran through to 2004, which includes the period the hon. Member is talking about. Now, from the period he is referring to, the position of the Ministry of
Mr. Agbesi 12:30 p.m.

Foreign Affairs has not changed. [An hon. Member: Oh!] Please. And it is that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was, and is still opposed to the issue of transfer of convicted persons. So what he is saying, that it was an agreed statement, is not true.

That is the misinformation I am referring to; that even though it was made in 1999 it was a policy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs which ran through the period he is referring to. I am saying that that is misinformation, it is not correct.
Mr. Speaker 12:40 p.m.
You have no point of
order. Let him continue.
Maj. (Dr) (Alhaji ) Ahmed (retd):
Mr. Speaker, the hon. Victor Gbeho on the day I made the Statement also contributed to the Statement and supported the call for a legal framework that would allow prisoners who were suffering such inhumanity in Thai jails to be brought home.
Mr. Speaker, I speak for this Bill because of the human rights abuses that our Ghanaian prisoners in Thai jails in particular are suffering. Even if it is one Ghanaian, I think that is enough for us to fight and give the person an opportunity to avail himself of this law and come home. We just came out of a meeting with a non-governmental organisation (NGO) in the lobby. They are also undertaking some projects about prisoners and they are interested in knowing the number of British prisoners who are in Ghanaian jails.
They think that the prospects of this Bill translating into law would even give Ghana an opportunity to explore the opportunity of getting funding from the United Kingdom (UK), for example, to even undertake some reforms and expansion projects within our prisons.
Mr. Speaker, a lot has been said, that our prisons are choked, which is true, but if you look at the figures, a lot of prisoners in our jails are on remand, and some have been there for several years without determination of their cases. I believe that if their cases are determined expeditiously it would make some room available within our jails. So far as I am concerned I believe in what my professor once said, that one must choose where one would like to have an accident. He said so because you can have an accident at a place where there would be no competent surgeon to take care of your wounds.
Similarly, these people that we are talking about, in jails in Thailand in particular, if they were in some other countries or even in Ghana they might not suffer the sort of dehumanising treatment that they are receiving in those jails now, and I believe that the opportunity should be given to them to come home. I believe that this specific request would probably be taken advantage of by prisoners in Thailand.
On this note, I wish to entreat fellow Colleagues to give the opportunity to Ghanaians who are in Thai jails to avail themselves of this particular facility.
Deputy Minister for Defence (Mr.
W. Ofori Boafo): Mr. Speaker, there are times when one must be bold to face challenges rather than running away from such challenges. And in a society like ours we are bound to face such challenges from time to time.
With regard to this particular Bill the Committee has identified certain challenges which we will face in its implementation. With our recent experience, with the coming of the CAN 2008 we had some challenges, but now we could see a number of stadia which are being built throughout the country
to enable us go through this CAN 2008 with regard to sporting activities as well as accommodation.
With Ghana @ 50, and the African Union (AU) Summit we were faced with certain challenges, but because we were determined to celebrate Ghana @ 50 and also to host the AU Summit successfully we saw a number of residential buildings springing up in areas which used to be infested with criminals and in certain areas which were only a reflection of mini-forests and savannah reserves. Mr. Speaker, if we are determined as a country to implement this particular Bill these challenges which are confronting us now can be tackled and overcomed during the process of implementation. We should not allow such challenges to stall our efforts to ensure some human face in criminal justice in this country.
Mr. Speaker, one of the contributors
earlier on pointed out that this Bill is only an attempt for us to join the good family of the Commonwealth which has initiated such practices. And Mr. Speaker, looking at the Bill, we could see that it is complementary to the existing system under the Extradition Act. Where the Extradition Act cannot afford such humane approach, this Bill would do it, provided we are able to enter into such international agreement as required by the Bill.

Mr. Speaker, if we think of the cost

involved, as a challenge, the Bill has made some satisfactory arrangements for the cost to be met by the states involved. And even if we cannot meet the cost immediately, the Bill has made arrangements for us to have long-term

arrangements to meet the cost involved in this particular exercise.

Mr. Speaker, it is a challenge to us as legislators to make the laws to shape the future of this country; to use the law as a social engineering instrument so that we can advance our jurisprudence. We should not be stalled by such challenges to run away from doing a very good job as parliamentarians or legislators.

Mr. Speaker, a cursory look at some

of the people who find themselves in jails outside -- One could identify some of them who may be innocent convicts; there may have been some swoop at the place where they were staying, and they might have fallen victim to the swoop. Mr. Speaker, it was not their intention to go and commit a crime and be jailed there. But incidentally, they find themselves in such situation. And this Bill is crying for us to accept such situations and give them the opportunity to come back and live within the society. It is an attempt to encourage social integration.

Mr. Speaker, some of our people will

find themselves in different cultures and they may come back and we will find them to be completely non-Ghanaians because of culture assimilation outside.

Mr. Speaker, some of our people may find themselves in certain jails where there will even be problem with language -- how to communicate; how to tell the person what you want; how to express your feelings to the prison officer will be a problem. And we could imagine the way they will be treated by such officers because of the language barrier. But if they are in Ghana they will be in a position to communicate their feelings.

Mr. Speaker, if they are convicted outside and brought into Ghana, and they are in prison and they see what is going
  • Mr. A. K. Agbesi (NDC -- Ashaiman) 12:40 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, the object of this Bill as
    stated in the memorandum is -- and with your permission I quote:
    “This Bill is intended to facilitate the transfer out of Ghana of foreigners where there is a request for convicts to serve their prison sentences in their own country and will also permit citizens of Ghana serving prison sentences abroad to be transferred to continue their prison sentences here.”
    Mr. Speaker, it means that we have to look at two things. The transfer to Ghana and the transfer out of Ghana. Then we have to look at the conditions under which, when we bring the convicts to Ghana, they are going to live.
    Mr. Speaker, the object of the Bill is good because we feel we are going to take care of our brothers and sisters who have found themselves falling foul of the laws outside this country. Mr. Speaker, we then have to look at our conditions -- the conditions under which we are going to receive these prisoners.
    Mr. Speaker, it is said that the laws
    we make must go to develop the country. Laws must be used as a means to engineer the country. Mr. Speaker, so as we are making the law, we have to see whether the law is actually moving us forward. Mr. Speaker, for many reasons, it is my view that this law that we seek to make is not at all going to move us forward.
    Mr. Speaker, I will go on by saying that in 1999, before this House, a similar question was asked by hon. Baa-Wiredu; I believe he is now Minister for Finance and Economic Planning. Mr. Speaker, when the question of transfer of convicts came up in this House, the then Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Victor Gbeho) stated and with your permission I quote:
    “Mr. Speaker, again, I have no
    exact number to offer but I can say that the overwhelming majority of the cases brought to the attention of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are only in the area of smuggling of cocaine and heroin. There are hardly Ghanaian prisoners for other offences. Furthermore, the fact that the United States or any other country in the world does it, that does not mean that we should blindly follow their example. The United States has a huge and resilient economy and it can easily look after even those who are in transgression of the law.
    Here the taxpayer is not that favourable with people who willingly and knowingly involved themselves in one of the gross crimes of this century for us to expect the taxpayer of Ghana to rescue them for wrongdoing. The policy will only change after the Government has decided that the time has come for the taxpayer to be able to easily pay for the upkeep of these wrongdoers.”
    Mr. Speaker, as at now the taxpayer is
    Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 12:50 p.m.
    On a
    point of order. Mr. Speaker, my hon. Colleague is misleading this House by quoting extensively from what the then Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Victor Gbeho) said in 1999. Mr. Speaker, yes, in the Bible we have the Old Testament and the New Testament. But as Christians we take greater inspiration from the New Testament.

    Mr. Speaker, in 1999, hon. Victor Gbeho, the then Minister for Foreign Affairs took a position. Mr. Speaker, the “New Testament” is that on 22nd December, 2004, he turned round to support the position of Dr. Mustapha Ahmed when he made a Statement to that effect. Mr. Speaker, I believe that we are to take inspiration from the Statement by the reformed Victor Gbeho on December 22, 2004. Mr. Speaker, our Colleagues are urging me to quote; I would not want to go that way because our rules are clear. The Hansard is our official document and our rules say that if there is something in an official document, everyone is to peruse it. It is not for me to quote it. It is here -- December 22nd 2004 - for the perusal of everybody. Mr. Speaker, I will rest my case; he is misleading this House.
    Mr. Speaker 12:50 p.m.
    Let him continue.
    Mr. Agbesi 12:50 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, the economy

    Deputy Minister for Tourism and

    Diaspora Relations (Mr. J. Baidoe- Ansah): Mr. Speaker, the hon. Member is misleading this House. Mr. Speaker, he is a lawyer and belongs to this august House, but he is going ahead to say -- The former Member of Parliament who is on trial and has not been convicted, he is sitting here in this Chamber convicting him. What he just did -- [Interruptions] -- It is for the court; if he is to be convicted -- But he has not been convicted. He is telling this august House that Mr. Amoateng knowingly carried drugs out of this country.

    Mr. Speaker, I think he has to withdraw
    Mr. Agbesi 12:50 p.m.

    and apologise to this House and the former Member who is on trial and the people of Nkoranza; he has to do that.
    Mr. Speaker 12:50 p.m.
    Hon. Member for
    Ashaiman, you know this matter is before court. So please refrain from mentioning a matter which is before court.
    Mr. Agbesi 12:50 p.m.
    Very well. Mr. Speaker, I have the newspaper here; at the front page -- [Interruption.]
    Mr. Speaker 12:50 p.m.
    Hon. Member for
    Ashaiman, this matter is before court, please.
    Mr. Agbesi 12:50 p.m.
    Sorry, Mr. Speaker, I
    Mr. K. A. Okerchiri 12:50 p.m.
    On a point
    of order. Mr. Speaker, I heard repeated by the hon. Member for Ashaiman that people who find themselves in foreign jails and who are enduring these humiliations “knowingly” -- he kept on using the words “knowingly committed those crimes”. Mr. Speaker, he is a lawyer and I think for him to persistently say that they “knowingly committed those crimes” is a falsity.
    Mr. Speaker, we all know that you could be imprisoned but in some circumstances you may not have committed the crime. So he must advise himself and stop using the word “knowingly”. We have a case in which one Ghanaian was behind bars for allegedly carrying cocaine; it was found out that he never knew that he was really carrying the cocaine. So he must be advised, he must not deceive this House.
    Mr. Agbesi 12:50 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, I sought
    your permission to quote the Hansard
    and when I quoted the Hansard those words came out from the Hansard. They are not my words because I sought your permission to quote the words from the Hansard. Unless I am being told not to quote, then I am sorry; but I quoted the words from the Hansard.
    Mr. Speaker 12:50 p.m.
    Go ahead. Quote from the Hansard. Please continue to quote from the Hansard -- [Laughter.] Let us listen to him.
    Mr. Agbesi 12:50 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, the word
    Mr. Speaker 12:50 p.m.
    Hon. Member, kindly
    refer us to the date.
    Mr. Agbesi 12:50 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, Tuesday,
    9th March, 1999.
    Mr. Speaker 12:50 p.m.
    Which column and
    what does it say?
    Mr. Agbesi 12:50 p.m.
    Column 2950. Mr.
    Speaker, it says:
    “Mr. Speaker, again, I have no exact numbers to offer but I can say that the overwhelming majority of the cases brought to the attention of the hon. Minister for Foreign Affairs are only in the area of smuggling cocaine and heroine. There are hardly Ghanaian prisoners for other offences. Furthermore, the fact that the United States of America or any other country in the world does it does not mean we should blindly
    follow that example.
    The United States of America has a huge and resilient economy, and they can easily look after those who are in transgression of the law. Here the taxpayer is not that comfortable with those who willingly and knowingly involve themselves in the area being referred to.”
    Mr. Speaker 12:50 p.m.
    Go ahead.
    Mr. Okerchiri 12:50 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, I did
    not have any problem with the quotation.
    Mr. Speaker 12:50 p.m.
    I have not called you yet.
    Mr. Agbesi 12:50 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, many things have been said about congestion in prisons and the reports -- [Inter-ruption.]
    Nana Abu-Bonsra 12:50 p.m.
    On a point of order. Mr. Speaker, I think my hon. Colleague is misleading the House and also being unfair as it were to the said Mr. Eric Amoateng who used to be a former Member of this House. Mr. Speaker, the quotation that he gave from the Hansard, never made mention of Mr. Eric Amoateng. Meanwhile, he was not in this House as at that time that hon. Gbeho made that Statement and therefore to include him, that he also willingly and knowingly -- I believe it is most unfair and the hon. Member should address himself to that.
    Mr. Speaker 12:50 p.m.
    He has not included him in that, please. Let him go ahead.
    Mr. Agbesi 12:50 p.m.
    A lot has been said about congestion in our prisons and the report has actually captured it. Mr. Speaker, it is said in the report that the maximum number of prisoners for the prisons is
    Mr. K. Osei-Ameyaw 12:50 p.m.
    On a point of order. Mr. Speaker, the hon. Member has just said that we are passing a law, seeking to bring more people in; and that is incorrect. The law does not seek to bring more people in. People who want to avail themselves can apply. Mr. Speaker, others would leave Ghana and others may want to come in. As at this point nobody knows how many are going to go out and I can assure my hon. Friend that at least we have 650 prisoners in Ghana who are foreigners.
    Now, it may well be that more would leave the country and some would come in. So he does not have the evidence and he should not make the mistake by saying that the law seeks to bring in more people. I think he should withdraw that.
    Mr. Agbesi 1 p.m.
    The law, as I quoted from the Memorandum, is saying that it will also permit citizens of Ghana serving prison sentences abroad to be transferred; the law will permit them to be transferred here. So we are not saying different things. The point is that our prisons were built to contain 8,000. Today, they contain 12,500. The issue is where are the excess people sleeping and if the law is seeking to permit more to come in, where will they be put?

    Mr. Hackman Owusu-Agyemang

    -- rose --
    Mr. Speaker 1 p.m.
    Hon. Minister for Water Resources, Works and Housing, do you have a point of order?
    Mr. Owusu-Agyemang 1 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker,
    I am trying to understand the argument of my distinguished Colleague, and for me to understand it, it would be important that he tells us what is the estimated number that are expected to come in. As far as I am concerned, the people out there do not number more than 200. So why is he making such a ‘song and dance' as to how we are going to swell up the population of the prisons?
    In fact, Mr. Speaker, when I was Foreign Minister, the list that I was given was of only 35. So why is he talking about 35 out of a population of 12,000 and making a song on that? I think he is deceiving the public and arguing on a false premise. He does not even know the figure that we are talking about. So why is he saying it is such a big thing? It is not such a big deal at all. It is not a point to canvass.
    Mr. Agbesi 1 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, I believe

    Alhaji Abubakar S. Boniface -- rose
    -- 1 p.m.

    Mr. Speaker 1 p.m.
    Minister for Manpower,
    Youth and Employment, do you have a point of order?
    Alhaji Boniface 1 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, I
    want him to get this thing straight that it is like an exchange programme -- [Inter- ruption] -- Wait. One has to apply; we
    are not going to bring everybody down. Some are applying to leave here. If they (Ghanaians out there) also apply, depending on the number, we will bring them in, in exchange. It is as simple as that. What is his problem?
    Mr. Agbesi 1 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, there are only 650 foreigners living or serving sentences in our prisons. Assuming we deduct 650 from 12,500 we will still have a number, which is over and above the capacity that our prisons can take. So the issue is that the prisons are full. When we went to Ho Prisons, when we went to Kpando Prisons, and when we went to Winneba Prisons, people demonstrated how they sleep on each other. They sleep on each other.
    Mr. Speaker, it is like sardines or Tinapa where you have one on each person. This is a situation the Ministry of the Interior is not talking about; this is a situation the Judicial Service is not talking about; yet we are going to make a law to permit more prisoners to come into this country.
    Mr. Speaker, the issue is that our prisons must be looked at before this law is passed. It is not a matter that the law should be passed before we look at implementation. No! It should be looked at and the prisons made all right for us before the law is passed.
    Mr. Speaker, I will go further. We are talking about transferring of the convicts or the prison inmates outside into this country. Transferring connotes spending of money. As I have said, the taxpayer is going to be taxed to support this exercise by paying for the transfer of convicts, by paying for the maintenance of the prison itself. Mr. Speaker, these are issues which the taxpayer is going to be burdened with. Are we in a position to be more burdened with payment of tax for this exercise?
    Mr. Edward M. Ennin 1 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker,
    when the tribunal system was in place, some Ghanaians were jailed forty years and I believe some of them are still in the prison. They were jailed by -- [ Pause] -- Mr. Speaker, we want to find out who jailed them.
    Mr. Agbesi 1 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, on the issue of the transfer and costs that would be involved, my suggestion is that we have to look at these things before we go further to say we are passing this law.
    Mr. Speaker, I also want to talk about the issue of training that we give to our convicts in the prisons. Mr. Speaker, recently Daasebre Dwamena returned to this country after serving about a year in prison. He came here with two certificates, one in ICT and one in Mathematics. Mr. Speaker, when we visited Nsawam, we were told that even the tools like the hammer or the chisel that the carpenters use, they have not seen them before.
    Mr. Speaker, these are the conditions that we have in our prisons and we are thinking of making a law to bring in more people who will have nothing, who will learn nothing and who will go out only maybe to learn more tricks to go outside and perform.
    Mr. Speaker, this is a law, which to me and to a majority of people in this country should not be passed. Mr. Speaker, why do I say so? I say so because maintenance of prisoners or maintaining prisons is an exercise which demands much from our resources. Mr. Speaker, I want to say that these drug offences are issues we should not entertain in this country.
    If we pass this law and some convicts
    come from outside to our prisons and they happen to be people who were involved in narcotics, we would be sending a very dangerous message to our youth, to the people of this country that when you travel out of this country and you happen to find yourself in any narcotic matter, this nation would be prepared to bring you back; and you are going to be taken care of at the expense of the taxpayer.
    Mr. Speaker, a message would be sent out to our youth that trying to go outside this country, whether through fair or foul means is good because when you go and you are involved in anything, the State is prepared to come to your aid. These are issues we should be looking at because a very bad signal, a very bad message, would be sent out to our youth whom we are trying to train.
    Mr. Speaker, this is not something which we, at this stage, should encourage. The point is that we are up in arms against trafficking of cocaine and trafficking of heroin and this is one law -- As I have quoted, Mr. Philip Gbeho says that most of the cases are in narcotics and heroine. This law is one law because of which everybody is going to say “oh, let me find my way outside because if I am involved in anything, I will be brought back.”
    Mr. Joe Baidoe-Ansah 1 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, the hon. Member just said that he quoted Mr. Philip Gbeho but I never heard him quoting Philip Gbeho. I thought he quoted Victor Gbeho and not Philip Gbeho.
    Mr. Speaker 1 p.m.
    Hon. Member for Ashaiman, you may wind up.
    Mr. Agbesi 1:10 p.m.
    So Mr. Speaker, I want to wind up with one example. I was in Osu Magistrate Court about five years ago and a lady was brought there for virtually marrying her son in an attempt to take the said son, who happens to be her husband now, outside the country. Her statement was that she had tried on two occasions to take her son outside this country to go and work but that did not work and so she found a way, went and married her own son in an attempt to take him away so that that son can go outside. When matters were going on, it turned out that that lady and the son were apparently going out to do something illegal.
    So I am saying that people would then
    have in mind that when they happen to go outside through any means, and they are involved in any matter, this country Ghana would be at their disposal. I am saying that the Extradition Act has been in existence and hon. Colleagues have referred to it. Now, if we are concerned about bringing our people who are outside and have been involved in something outside, we have ways to do it.
    If the Extradition Act does not go far enough to be able to afford any chance for such people to come in, we can look at the Extradition Act, amend it, or expand it to be able to take care of these issues. I believe that we are in a situation where the laws that we make must move along with society. We should not just make laws.
    Yes, we are concerned about the human rights of our colleagues who are outside but at the same time we must also be concerned about the human rights, about the wrong treatment, about the sufferings
    of our fellow prisoners who are in this country. To permit a situation where our prisoners virtually sleep on each other like sardines and things is not the best. The prisons must be looked at and the cost involved must be looked at. The cost- sharing that we talked about whether it is cost-sharing or not, it is Ghana. It is our economy and it is our taxpayers who are going to pay for all these things.
    Mr. Speaker, with these few words, I call upon all hon. Members that this is a Bill we should throw through the window and we should not allow this law to be made in this country.
    Mr. Speaker 1:10 p.m.
    Hon. Members, I suggest
    we continue with the debate tomorrow.

    PRESIDENT 1:10 p.m.

    THE CASTLE-OSU 1:10 p.m.

    PARLIAMENT HOUSE 1:10 p.m.

    VICTORIABORG 1:10 p.m.

    ACCRA 1:10 p.m.

    MINISTERS 1:10 p.m.


    Mr. Speaker 1:10 p.m.
    Hon. Members, in accordance with Order 172 (2), I refer these
    nominations to the Appointments Committee for consideration and report.
    Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 1:10 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, having exhausted the business for the day, and in view of the fact that there are four committees slated for meetings, may I move at this stage, that this House do now adjourn till tomorrow Thursday, at ten o'clock in the forenoon.
    Mr. Bagbin 1:10 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, I second the motion.
    ADJOURNMENT 1:10 p.m.

  • The House was accordingly adjourned at 1.20 p.m. till 12th July, 2007 at 10.00 a.m.