Debates of 11 Nov 2008

PRAYERS 10:05 a.m.


Mr. Speaker 10:05 a.m.
Order! Order. Correction of Votes and Proceedings -- Monday, 10th November, 2008. Pages 1, 2 . . . [Inter- ruption.]
Mr. A. W. G. Abayateye 10:05 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, yesterday I was in the House but my name has been omitted.
Mr. Speaker 10:05 a.m.
The correction would be made. Pages 3 . . . 5.
Alhaji A. S. Boniface 10:05 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I want to send you back to Friday, 7th November 2008 before I do the correction for today. On Friday, I was present but I had been marked absent on page 5, No. 171. I was here in the Chamber, they marked me but it reflected as absent. Yesterday I was in Parliament, I have again been marked absent. I do not know what is going on.
Mr. Speaker 10:05 a.m.
We have taken note of your concern. Pages 6 and 7?
Mr. Kojo Armah 10:05 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I beg your permission to also send you back. Yesterday, I was here and also did my Consideration to the Electronic Tran- sactions Bill all right but I have been marked absent. Meanwhile, I had signed the book too.
Alhaji M. M. Mubarak 10:05 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, it is the same with me. Yesterday, I was present in the Chamber and coincidentally, I have also been marked absent.
Mr. Speaker, one interesting thing that I think we need to draw the attention of whoever is keeping these records to, is that, if you look at pages 1 through to 4, it clearly shows that there were 129 hon. Members in this House. This is not true and I think we those who were rather present were marked absent and those who were not in the House were marked present.
I think the proper recording should be done to make sure that the true picture of what pertains in this House is captured rather than always having hon. Members who were present marked absent and those absent marked present.
Minister for Parliamentary Affairs/ Majority Leader (Mr. Abraham Ossei Aidooh) 10:05 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the attack on the register is most unfortunate. The fact is that any hon. Member who enters here, any hon. Member who comes here is marked present. Whether or not he remains here or he remains in the lobby, he is marked present. He does not have to have all the 129 hon. Members present at the same time and so his attack on the register and its keepers is mostly unwarranted.
Mr. Speaker 10:05 a.m.
Pages 8. . . 23.


Minister for the Interior (Dr. Kwame Addo-Kufuor) 10:05 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, in order to ensure that this year's presidential and parliamentary elections are conducted in a peaceful, free and fair environment, the National Elections Security Task Force was activated to assist the Electoral Commission to fulfil its mandate.
The police is the lead agency in this Task Force and is assisted by the security agencies like the National Security Council (NSC), Bureau of National Investigations (BNI), the ghana Armed Forces (gAF), the ghana Prisons Service, the ghana Immi-gration Service, the ghana National Fire Service, and Customs, Excise and Pre-ventive Service (CEPS). Regional and District Security Task Forces have also been activated.
The National Task Force is chaired by the Inspector-general of Police (IgP) while the regional and district task forces are chaired by Police Commanders in the respective regions and districts. The National Task Force has made plans for public order before, during and after the elections.
Mr. Speaker, as is the practice in the
internal security scheme, the ghana Armed Forces shall complement the efforts of the other security agencies to restore law and order in areas where public order breaks down. The provision of security shall be done in three phases by the Task Force as indicated below.
(1) Protecting all the political leaders of the various parties and their supporters.
(2) Providing maximum security during political rallies throughout the country and assisting the Electoral Commission to distribute election materials and personnel to
all polling stations throughout the country.
To this end a lot of training has been provided to the security agencies to strengthen the capacity of personnel as to how to protect electoral officers, ballot boxes, and voters in general.
(3) Deploying joint operat ion roles staffed with police in all the regions.
( 4 ) E s t a b l i s h i n g R a p i d Deployment Reserve Forces in each of the regions to be used by the regional task forces in maintaining law and order in the more volatile areas.
(5) The security services have been in te rac t ing wi th the political parties to discuss security needs in the various localities and also to clarify the outstanding public order issues and agree on ways of improving general security in each district.
(6) The security services under the direction of the National Task Force, have carried out several training programmes for members of the personnel of the security agencies on all aspects of election security.
Mr. Speaker, currently, all the security service commanders in the northern sector comprising Ashanti, Brong Ahafo, Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions, are engaged in final training exercises. I can therefore assure hon. Members that the security services have been sufficiently prepared physically and operationally to fulfil the tasks entrusted to them before, during and after the elections.
Mr. Speaker, in respect of security for the presidential candidates, four
Minister for the Interior (Dr. Kwame Addo-Kufuor) 10:15 a.m.

body-guards have been assigned to each presidential candidate and his team. With regard to the parliamentary candidates, Regional, Divisional and District Police Commanders have been directed to arrange general security coverage for them. Parliamentary aspirants have therefore been advised to give details of their programmes to local commanders so that the necessary security coverage can be arranged.

Mr. Speaker, on the election day the National Elections Security Task Force will coordinate administrative and operational aspects of the general security throughout the 230 constituencies and all the 22,000 polling stations in the country.

Firstly, each polling station would be manned by selected members of the security services. Secondly, regional and district task forces would complement the efforts of the national to ensure an incident-free election.

Thirdly, patrols would be intensified to deal with any unforeseen events. Fourthly, task forces would ensure safe escort of all voting materials to and from voting stations. And fifthly, task forces will protect electoral officers, ballot boxes and voters.

Mr. Speaker, for the post-election security, the security services will ensure continuous patrols throughout the country to ensure post-election stability. They are also to protect electoral facilities and offices before and during the declaration of election results.

In addition, Mr. Speaker, civic and voter education programmes have been undertaken by National Commission for

Civic Education (NCCE) and the Ministry of information and National Orientation and other governance bodies.
Mr. A. K. Agbesi 10:15 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I want to know from the hon. Minister, what his Ministry is doing to ensure that the directive that four policemen are provided for each presidential candidate is adhered to. This is important because I know one presidential candidate goes round with not less than ten policemen while another presidential candidate goes round without any policeman or protection. What are you doing to ensure this directive is carried out?
Dr. Addo-Kufuor 10:15 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I do not know if the hon. Member has been asked by any presidential aspirant to pose this Question. But so far as I am concerned and as the Minister responsible for internal security, I have not received any complaints but if the hon. Member knows of any dereliction of duty in this regard, then please ask the presidential candidate involved to get in touch with the Minister and it would be rectified.
Mr. Agbesi 10:15 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I am a Member of Parliament, I represent a constituency -- [Interruption.]
Mr. Speaker 10:15 a.m.
Hon. Member, ask your question.
Mr. Agbesi 10:15 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the hon. Minister says I should ask the presidential candidate to complain. I represent a section of this country and -- [Inter- ruption.]
Mr. Speaker 10:15 a.m.
Hon. Member, what is your question?
Mr. Agbesi 10:15 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I want to know from the hon. Minister -- [Inter- ruption.]
Mr. Speaker 10:15 a.m.
Order! Order! Yes, please go ahead.
Mr. Agbesi 10:15 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I want to know from the hon. Minister, which are the volatile areas of this country?
M r. S p e a k e r : T h i s i s n o t a supplementary question.
Mr. Agbesi 10:15 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, he has
mentioned that security will be provided for some volatile areas.
Mr. Speaker 10:15 a.m.
Hon. Member for Ashaiman, are you in charge of this House?
Mr. Agbesi 10:15 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, with the greatest apology, I am sorry.
Mr. Speaker 10:15 a.m.
You are not. Yes, go ahead if you have any question to ask.
Mr. Agbesi 10:15 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I want to know from the hon. Minister whether the arrangements that the Ministry has done so far will extend to providing security at the homes of Members of Parliament who are contesting.
Dr. Addo-Kufuor 10:15 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, as somebody who has stood for elections four times, I have a lot of sympathy for all parliamentary aspirants and I have no doubt if any Member feels there is need for home security, that would be provided.
Mr. Kojo Armah 10:15 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I want to know from the hon. Minister, whether in his scheme of things, the yellow shirt community police popularly known as “Zoom police” are part of the security services that would be deployed during election day.
Dr. Addo-Kufuor 10:15 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I need notice so far as this question is concerned.
Mr. C. S. Hodogbey 10:15 a.m.
Mr. Speaker,
the hon. Minister spoke about regional and district security services. I would like to know, in places where the Regional Ministers and District Chief Executives are standing as parliamentary candidates, will they not compromise their position in terms of security on the Election Day?
Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 10:15 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, this question offends our Standing Order 67 (1) (e); soliciting the expression of opinion is a breach of our Standing Orders.
Mr. Speaker 10:15 a.m.
Hon. Member, I take it in a different way, this is a hypothetical question so if you have other questions please ask.
Mr. Hodogbey 10:15 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I would
like to know, there are some other security agencies formed by His Excellency the President, which people popularly call Kufuor police. Would they be involved in this exercise?
Mr. Speaker 10:15 a.m.
This is not a supple- mentary question. Hon. Member for Sege?
Mr. A. W. G. Abayateye 10:15 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, in all the past elections we have held, at the polling stations, the police or security agencies who manned the stations were not armed. I want to find out from the hon. Minister for the Interior whether this year the security officers manning the stations will be armed or not. Reference to the previous elections.
Mr. Speaker 10:15 a.m.
hon. Member, the main Question is quite clear. So if you have supplementary question, please ask.
Mr. Abayateye 10:15 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, in his Answer the hon. Minister spoke about security in general, not only before, but during and after and I am saying that in all the previous elections, security officials who manned the stations were unarmed. I am finding out the state for this year's
Mr. Abayateye 10:15 a.m.

Dr. Addo-Kufuor 10:15 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the
posture of the security agencies at the polling stations will be determined by what they see on the spot. If citizens or voters go to the polling stations, cast their ballot, go back to their homes, there would be no need for the security agencies to carry any weapons. But I will not preclude the possibility of the security agencies being armed if there was a riot or evidence that some people were trying to disrupt the voting process.
Mr. Joe Gidisu 10:25 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, some Regional Ministers and District Chief Executives are contesting parliamentary seats. What is the stand of the Ministry of the Interior in relation to those Regional Ministers and District Chief Executives who are chairmen of the security councils at those levels? What is his Ministry doing to safeguard that they do not compromise their positions?
Mr. Speaker 10:25 a.m.
Hon. Member, this is not a supplementary question.
Mr. Joe Gidisu 10:25 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, this question is not to seek his opinion but a policy directive as to what his Ministry would do --[Interruption.]
Mr. Speaker 10:25 a.m.
Hon.Member for Asawase, if you have a question, ask the Minister.
Alhaji M. M. Mubarak 10:25 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I rise to ask the hon. Minister, with this elaborate explanation that he has given with regard to the security before, during and after the general elections, what assurance is he going to give this House that his directives that policemen and women should use their numbers and
Dr. Addo-Kufuor 10:25 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, this is a very important question and I am very happy the top hierarchy of the Police Service are sitting behind us. I would like to state with all the force at my command, that I am appealing to the Inspector-general of Police (IgP) on the floor of the House, any policeman or any security agent without a name tag or service number should not be allowed to be involved in this process. [Hear! Hear!]
Mr. Speaker 10:25 a.m.
Minister for the Interior, thank you very much for coming to the House to answer Questions. You are discharged.
Item 4 -- Statements; Statement by the Chairman of the Select Committee on Food, Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs?
STATEMENTS 10:25 a.m.

Mr. P. C. Appiah 10:25 a.m.

Asikuma/Odoben/Brakwa): Mr. Speaker, thank you very much for giving me this opportunity to make this Statement on behalf of the Committee on Food, Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs on the occasion of the 24th Farmers Day Celebration which took place on Friday, 7th November 2008 at Techiman.

Mr. Speaker, please permit me to inform this august House that this year's Farmers' Day was celebrated on 7th November 2008 instead of being celebrated on 5th December 2008. This was to ensure that all participants had ample time to participate fully in the celebration and also to participate fully in this year's general elections slated for 7th December 2008.

Mr. Speaker, as you are aware, this day is set aside to honour our gallant farmers and fishers who, by their hard work and toil throughout the year, ensure that every person in ghana gets food to eat. It is for this good reason that I take this opportunity, on behalf of your Committee, the Committee in charge of Food, Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs of which I am the Chairman to congratulate all our gallant farmers and fishers for their hard work.

Mr. Speaker, the theme for this year's National Farmers' Day celebration was “globalisation: Its Effects on Agriculture Production in ghana”. This theme is informed by the need to respond to the recent global food crises on agricultural production and food price hikes.

Mr. Speaker, as you are aware agriculture is the mainstay of the ghanaian economy. Agriculture contributes about 38 per cent of the country's gross domestic product (gDP) and employs about 70 per cent of the total population directly or indirectly. It also accounts for about 75 per cent of export earnings.

Furthermore the industrial sector which also contributes about 12 per cent of gDP depends on some raw materials produced by the agricultural sector. This emphasizes the fact that agriculture is very vital for stimulating growth in the economy and explains why the recent developments on the global agricultural front and the resultant cost of agricultural products, such as food and farm inputs like fertilizers and machinery, negatively affected every person globally. The increases in food prices pose a threat to ghana's economic stability and development agenda.

Mr. Speaker, even though, there have been distortions in the global economic

environment, as stated above, ghana's agricultural sector has performed creditably better when compared to other countries in the sub-region due to the interventions made by this government. The good policies and programmes that have been initiated by the current government have helped to mitigate all the adverse effects that the global distortions would have visited on the sector and untold hardship to the ghanaian populace.

The recent interventions or measures put in by the government so as to reduce this untold hardship on ghanaians should not lose attention and recognition by all and sundry. This august House will recall the following measures taken by the government in May this year:

Waiving of levies on some petroleum products;

Provision of up to 50 per cent subsidy on cost of fertilizer; and

The reduction of import duties on major food items such as rice.

Mr. Speaker the recent 50 per cent subsidy on fertilizer offered to farmers and the distribution of quality seeds and agro-chemicals were all aimed at not only reducing farm production cost but also at encouraging our farmers to increase productivity and output. For that, I believe, the government should be commended. It is hoped that more will be done in terms of increases in budgetary allocations in the subsequent years for the agriculture sector.

Furthermore, Mr. Speaker, I am informed by the sector Minister that our government has increased the acquisition and distribution of tractors and other mechanized equipment to our farmers. government has procured over 3,000 tractors at gH¢24,000.00 per tractor and sold them to our farmers at subsidized unit price of gH¢16,000.00. This is paid under flexible terms involving a 50 per cent
Mr. P. C. Appiah 10:25 a.m.

down payment and the remaining spread over a three-year period.

Also, eleven mechanization centres have been set up and are being run by private operators at moderate fees to provide the needed mechanized services to farmers who cannot afford to purchase these tractors. government should be commended in this direction too.

Mr. Speaker, permit me also to use this opportunity to thank our development partners who have also supported the agricultural industry over the past years.

This year's Farmers' Day celebration was unique in the sense that the best farmer was given not only a three-bedroom house as usual, but also a double-cabin pick-up while the President, His Excellency John Agyekum Kufuor, was given a brand new tractor in order for him to go into farming when he leaves office after the end of his two terms. The Committee wishes the President success when he embarks upon the farming activities he has promised the nation to move in.

Finally, I once again wish on behalf of the Committee on Food, Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs, to thank all farmers and fishers of this country for their hard work and contributions to the sustenance of the ghanaian economy. Once again Ayekoo!!! to our gallant farmers. ghana appreciates your great contribution.
Dr. A. Y. Alhassan (NDC -- Mion) 10:35 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I rise to give support to the Statement made by the Chairman of the Committee and in doing so, I would like to make a few remarks.
It is always good to congratulate our gallant farmers and fishers for a good agricultural year because they have been able to put food on our table, raw materials for our factories and some more products for export for the needed foreign
But beyond the champagne popping,
there is the need always to have some analytical reflection of events during the year 2008 both internally and externally. So it is not surprising that the theme for this year's celebration was “globalisation and its impact on agriculture in ghana”. This is similarly important because events on the globe definitely affects the terms of our agricultural trade and competitiveness in the sector, particularly that 2008 was very eventful because many things happened globally.
First of all we have very high crude oil prices, nearly $150 per barrel, unprecedented in our history and this impacted directly on agricultural input such as fertilizer and other agro-chemicals that are needed by ghanaian farmers to produce.

There was also global food shortage culminating in very high rise in food prices. In some countries this resulted in food rationing, even for the most advanced economies. In certain places there were riots because people protested for food prices to be lowered by governments. Now, just as these things were quietening, there was the issue of credit crunch and financial crisis that currently is on the global scene. All these events definitely had some rough times for agriculture in ghana and government had to intervene with some measures to reduce the impact of this global events on the ghanaian economy.

Certainly, there were some reduced taxes on petroleum products, subsidy on fertilizer and farm machinery as already elaborated by the Chairman. But these were meant, of course, to assist farmers in their production efforts.

We also have to thank many advocacy groups and the ECOWAS as a sub-region, or as a region that put in some regional initiatives to back individual governments to give this support to its citizens so that the agricultural year could go on smooth- ly. The global context has an extremely difficult situation for ghana's agriculture and impacts generally on the ghanaian farmer.

However, in spite of all these difficulties, there is also another lingering problem for ghanaian farmers that must engage the government. The Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) is one piece of agreement that worries farmers in the Third World countries and ghana as a country, even though we have signed an interim agreement, we must take steps to ensure that this agreement benefits our farmers in the long run.

This is extremely important because some details of the Economic Partnership Agreement do not necessarily benefit our farmers and care must be taken so that our farmers' livelihoods as ghanaians, do not suffer in the process.

Trade may be global but its impact is local and community in nature and therefore, it is the responsibility of democratically elected governments to ensure that they critically examine the details of some of these provisions in the EPA so that our farmers benefit in the long run. This is particularly important because according to the World Development Report, 2007, an economy that relies on agriculture to grow is four times more effective than any other sector and that is why no stone must be left unturned to get our farmers moving.

Mr. Speaker, another challenge facing agriculture at the community level is the

way we manage the environment and its impact on agriculture. Mining and bio- fuels come to mind. There is an absolute need to set standards, so that in the name of investment, we would not lose out our natural resources to profits by multi- nationals.

In certain cases, the link between foreign interests and community owners of lands is not well defined and all you find is that in the final analysis, these groupings just go straight to the community level and finally you find the communities complaining. There is the need for us to make an arrangement such that there is harmony when people go to our communities to invest.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank our

farmers again for the celebration. But I would like to make a very small suggestion that perhaps, as a way of getting our youth interested in farming and the fact that we have celebrated the National Farmers' Day for nearly 25 years, we introduce a youth category for farmers so that young farmers who excell are also rewarded on days designed for the National Farmers' Day.

Finally, I welcome the President to the farmers fold since he received a new tractor. He must be a very lucky farmer to have started farming with a brand new tractor because I have read the President's Curriculum Vitae (CV) several times and on no occasion was he a farmer. I believe that if he goes to start farming on retirement he may appreciate the frustrations that confront farmers very much and would know that what he has done for farmers in the country was probably not in vain. I pray that he joins us and then can even probably apply to win an award some day. I thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. J. B. Aidoo ( NPP -- Amenfi

East): Mr. Speaker, I am also rising to
Dr. A. Y. Alhassan (NDC -- Mion) 10:45 a.m.

associate myself with the Statement before us. Mr. Speaker, we must all say Ayekoo to our gallant farmers and fishermen. We say so because in the face of the global crisis that we are going through, as had already been indicated, many countries, including even the more developed countries are rationing for food and we have been very fortunate to see food in this country throughout the year.

Mr. Speaker, our farmers and fishermen have done very well and we are most grateful. Mr. Speaker, all these things have happened because partly, government has also committed itself to programmes and policies to improve the agricultural sector.

Mr. Speaker, indeed, if you take cocoa in particular, we know cocoa is the mainstay of the economy and now we can confidently say that as a nation, we have done very well; from the production of around 300,000 metric tonnes we have moved to over 700,000 metric tonnes.

Mr. Speaker, even though last year the northern part of the country was affected by some climatic problems and there was also flooding, we have been told that that part of the country exceeded its production target in terms of agricultural production. Mr. Speaker, it is very gratifying to hear all this.

Mr. Speaker, the ongoing global crises, if you take the food crisis, if you take the fuel problem which hit all nations, must be a challenge to us again to pursue vigorous programmes to speed up the change in our agricultural sector. We want to see a very fast moving agricultural sector and to do so will require looking at our policies and programmes again.

Mr. Speaker, we need to re-tool our programmes in terms of irrigation. We have to look at that sector critically, particularly for the Northern Region; and

we should not also restrict our programme for irrigation just to the Northern Region. I have said it once here that if you take a country like Taiwan, where the rainfall for the year is greater than even what we have in Axim, still they have irrigation going on.

In much the same way, we expect that irrigation should be extended across the length and breadth of the country. Just as we have electricity, we should also have irrigation throughout the whole country; it does not matter whether a particular place is a wet area or not.

Mr. Speaker, we must also look at our mechanization programme critically. It is gratifying to note that the President in his transitional period to retirement is being offered a tractor. I think that this offer should be extended to almost all the politicians.

Mr. Speaker, if our hon. Colleagues who would be retiring from politics this year, would also be given tractors, I believe they would go and then set very good examples and become models for the youth to emulate.

Mr. Speaker, another area that we have

to also look at is the processing of our agricultural produce and processing here should not be just the food and the tree crops. We think that processing should encompass every aspect of the agricultural sector including livestock. In that way I believe ghana will be moving further and forward than before.

On that note I join my hon. Colleagues to say ayekoo once again to our farmers and fishermen.
PAPERS 10:45 a.m.

Mr. Speaker 10:45 a.m.
(b), the Chairman of the Committee on Subsidiary Legislation?
Mr. P. C. Appiah 10:45 a.m.

Report of the Committee on Sub- sidiary Legislation on the Road Toll (Amendment) Regulations, 2008

(L.I. 1945).
Mr. Speaker 10:45 a.m.
Deputy Majority Leader the next item; which one are we tackling? Is it item 6, 7 or 8?
Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 10:45 a.m.
Speaker, we may go to item no. 7.

A P P E N D I X 10:45 a.m.

RAILWAYS BILL 10:45 a.m.