Debates of 25 Feb 2009

PRAYERS 10:35 p.m.


Madam Speaker 10:35 p.m.
Hon Members, I have pleasure to recognize the presence in our House members of the Public Accounts Committee of some African Parliaments who are attending a seminar on Enhancing the Oversight Role of Public Account Committees. The seminar is being jointly organized by the World Bank Institute, the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, with the Parliamentary Centre, Ghana as the facilitator.
The participating members include: Ahmed Ibrahim Lawan, Senate Chairman, Nigeria. Hon. Usman A. Mohammed, House of Representatives, Chairman, Nigeria, Senator J. Jonathan Banney, Senate Chairman, Liberia. Hon James P. Biney, House of Representatives Chairman, Liberia. Hon. Komba Eric Koedoyoma, Acting Chairman, Sierra Leone. Hon. Lamin Jadama, Member, The Gambia. Hon. Alhaji Sillah, Member, The Gambia.

PAPERS 10:45 a.m.

Madam Speaker 10:45 a.m.
Can you move the procedural motion? Item 6 - ? [Pause.]
Madam Speaker 10:45 a.m.
Hon. E. T. Mensah, are you going to move the procedural motion? If you are not ready, we will go back to item 5 on the Order Paper.
Hon. Members, we continue the debate to thank His Excellency the President for his Message on the State of the Nation which he delivered to this House on Thursday, 19th February, 2009. Hon. Members, the debate resumes.
MOTIONS 10:45 a.m.

Mr. A. P. Dery (NPP - Lawra/ Nandom) 10:55 a.m.
Madam Speaker, I support the motion to thank His Excellency the President for an Address well presented
before this House subject to the comments that, with your permission, I intend to make.
Madam Speaker, I intend to make my comments by putting the contents of the State of the Nation Address within the context of the Constitution.
Madam Speaker, it would be recalled that on 7th January, 2009, His Excellency the President, took office and subscribed the oath pursuant to article 57, clause 3. As part of that oath, he said and I quote a part of it:
“. . . I will at all times preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the Republic of Ghana; . . .”

Madam Speaker, pursuant to article 67, His Excellency the President made his first State of the Nation Address. Article 67 only provides for a message on the state of the nation.

Madam Speaker, but since the Consti- tution is an organic document, and a living document, I intend to look at other parts of the Constitution which guided the contents and to discuss those contents within that context.

Madam Speaker, article 34, clause (1), which is the first article in Chapter Six states that it shall be a guide to all citizens including His Excellency the President in whatever we do in our quest to establish a just and free society.

Article 34, clause (2), then gives the elements in which it talks about basic human rights, a healthy economy, the right to work, the right to education and all others. This certainly guided His Excellency the President.

Madam Speaker, in order to avoid the interference from any Hon Member of this honourable House, on the justiciability of Chapter Six, I first intend to state that Chapter Six is supposed to serve as a guide and set goals and secondly that contents of Chapter Six which are rights or human rights or those which are supported by other provisions in the Constitution which make them rights and enforceable are enforceable.

Madam Speaker, since this House has set the tradition since yesterday, that we should provide evidence, I would just want to refer to this position as supported by the Supreme Court. Madam Speaker, the panel was presided over by the Rt Hon. Speaker of Parliament, in the case of New Patriotic Party against the Attorney- General; the CIBA case. Madam Speaker, with your permission, I would read; it is in the 1996/97 Supreme Court of Ghana Law Reports, from pages 729 and your dictum which is important in this case, I read at page 732 and this is what you said:

“There are particular instances where some provisions of the Directive Principles form an integral part of some of the enforceable rights either because they qualify them or can be held to be rights in themselves. In those instance they are of themselves justiciable also . . .”

Madam Speaker, the “that” is well stated because if you look at article 33, clause (1), chapter five, the chapter on the Fundamental Human Rights, from articles 12 to 33 and 33 (1), provide that all rights, by provisions of the Constitution, not the Chapter, are enforceable. Even when we think that they are likely to be infringed, we can go to the High Court.

Madam Speaker, I am just putting all these things in context. Finally, let me refer as part of the foundation, to the preamble
Mr. A. P. Dery (NPP - Lawra/ Nandom) 11:05 a.m.

of the Constitution where it was stated in the first stanza, among other things, we the people of Ghana want to get as part of this Constitution, blessings of liberty and one of the things that is the aspiration is the possession of funda-mental human rights.

Madam Speaker, having set those parameters, permit me now to read from the State of the Nation Address. Madam Speaker, I am reading from the printed version that was laid yesterday and I am, with your permission quoting from page 3 of that text; it is headed “Governance”. Madam Speaker, I want to read the first paragraph which has been so succinctly put, so aptly stated by His Excellency the President that I cannot, but read it:

“All too often we celebrate successful elections and cherish the growth and maturity of our democracy. However, we tend to invest far less in the development of our democratic governance than we reap from it . . .”

Madam Speaker, that “we tend to invest far less than we reap from it”.

Madam Speaker, His Excellency the President does not leave it there. He goes on to the next paragraph and with your permission, I shall read:

“The 1992 Constitution established a number of institutions to foster effective balance of powers, provide ample expression for the representatives of the people (which is Parliament) “guarantee access to justice (which is) the independence of the media and the rights of the citizens to be empowered with knowledge about civic education

. . .”

Madam Speaker, in the next sentence the President again states as fact which is sacred. He says:

“While these institutions have

performed relatively well, they are under-resourced, their leaders and staff poorly motivated and their institutions thinly spread out.”

Madam Speaker, I have quoted these because I want to make the point that these institutions that His Excellency the President has referred to: Parliament, Commission on Human Rights and Administrat ive Justice, Electoral Commission, National Commission on Civic Education and all those other institutions, have got their emoluments and facilities provided for in article 71 (1), as to how their emoluments and facilities are supposed to be established. Madam Speaker, and that is very spot-on.

Madam Speaker, His Excellency the President goes on in the next paragraph to propose in tune with his conciliatory spirit and consensus-building, that we will engage these independent government institutions in a peer review of their conditions and together, define conditions that would propel them to fulfil their constitutional mandates within reasona-ble limits of our national resource endowment.

Madam Speaker, it is important that we put these things in context. The public discussion of this report has tended to create the impression that all that is contained in the Chinery Hesse Report is about Hon Members of Parliament and the Executive.

Madam Speaker, the Chinery Hesse Report sought precisely to address this concern succinctly stated by His Excellency the President and therefore in it, it states the conditions that affect all these institutions. And Madam Speaker, of note is one that is at page 42 of the Chinery Hesse Report which provides that

“The Committee recommends that a Personal Assistant should be provided for each MP, to be paid for by the Parliamentary Service.”

His Excellency the President has sought to solve some of these problems and at page 5 of his Address, the last two lines of paragraph two thereon, His Excellency the President stated

“Regard ing Par l iament and Parliamentarians, we will plan for the following:

The assignment of National Service graduates to Members of Parlia- ment as Research Assistants”.

Madam Speaker, it means that what His Excellency the President sought to do is not new. It is something that has been captured in the Chinery Hesse Report. In consonance with His Excellency's own statement that he does not want us to continue with the system by which the foundation of the nation is going to be built and the next person comes, demolishes it to restart, I would submit that clearly, what the Chinery Hesse Report has done is to solve that problem and we cannot reinvent the wheel. That is the first point.

Secondly, Madam Speaker, it is
Mr. Bagbin 11:05 a.m.
On a point of order. Madam Speaker, just to give my Hon Colleague, the Deputy Minority Leader information so that he can land -- [Interruptions] It is part of it -- on his statement, so as to assist him develop his point.
Madam Speaker 11:05 a.m.
Hon Member, if you are prepared he will give you the information.
Mr. Dery 11:05 a.m.
Madam Speaker, I am prepared to go after what he says.
Madam Speaker 11:05 a.m.
He says it is information to help you.
Mr. Bagbin 11:05 a.m.
Madam Speaker, one, he said that he was silent about the other institutions or office holders. Definitely, the press release was not silent about it because it stated that recommendations in respect of all others covered by the Chinery Hesse Committee Report will be determined after the submission of the report of the new committee. When you say silent, I am saying that he was not silent about it.
The second issue is that, when you are dealing with Ministers of State, it is not within the ambit or authority of the President to determine that. That is for Parliament. So the President can only talk about Hon Members of Parliament and that explains why he did not say anything about the Ministers of State who are not Members of Parliament. I am just giving this as part of the information for him to develop.
Mr. Dery 11:15 a.m.
Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my Hon Colleague the Hon Majority Leader and Leader of this House for his information, except to state that what I was talking about the
statement being silent on, is the payment on account to those categories. In the case of Parliament, the statement says four months to be paid on account based on convention. It did not say the same for the other institutions.

Madam Speaker, and the information he has given is good because it assists me to emphasise the point that, that whole business of revisiting the Report is totally unconstitutional. [Hear! Hear!] Revisiting the Report is totally un-constitutional. That is the point.

Madam Speaker, the other point I want to make is this, in talking about the cost, it is important for this country to know, for all of us to know that the cost, and I believe basic economics will tell us what the opportunity cost is. I went to the preamble because, in the preamble we have fundamental human rights linked to unity and stability.

And the point I want to make is this, that as long as we have a review of the conditions of these institutions which are meant to be independent, then there will be questions raised as to how really independent they are. Would you discuss the conditions of the Judges with them if the members of the Judiciary know that a President can adversely affect their benefits retrospectively? Yes, they are men and women of integrity, they will do their work. But Madam Speaker, I believe you are conversant with the dictum that in that realm, justice must not only be done but be manifestly seen to be done.

Madam Speaker, it is because of these points that I would want to make it clear, I want to emphasize that it has not been said anywhere that any of these actions is related to any action by any group. But out of the abundance of caution, let me state

that this Constitution was given to us by ourselves after a referendum.

And until it is amended, the im-pressions of groups, no matter the size, cannot be a basis for unconstitutional action. That point needs to be emphasized. Having said that, I am urging His Excellency the President, to accept this Report and to allow all the institutions to draw on their conditions and facilities. Having said that, I will move forward on my submissions to -- [Interruptions] --I will move forward on the same section to --
Mr. Ebo Barton-Odro 11:15 a.m.
On a point of order. Madam Speaker, I believe that you have set the tone by giving a time- frame to each contributor. [Laughter.] The Hon Deputy Minority Leader started addressing this august House at 10.55a.m. The time now is 11.20 a.m. [Uproar!] I am only drawing the attention of this House to the fact that he has run out of time and therefore must be called to order.
Madam Speaker 11:15 a.m.
Try and wind up, Hon Member.
Mr. Dery 11:15 a.m.
Madam Speaker, I thank you and I thank my Hon Colleague on the other side for helping Madam Speaker to do her work.
I would wind up and I would crave your indulgence that I be accorded the same room as was accorded my Hon Colleague the Hon Member for Tamale Central (Hon Inusah Fuseini) yesterday. Because Madam Speaker, there were also interferences.
Madam Speaker 11:15 a.m.
That is why I said you should wind up. It does not mean I have given you one minute. I said wind up. I will take all that into consideration.
Mr. Dery 11:15 a.m.
Madam Speaker, I would want your permission to go to page 7 of the Presidential Address where His

Excellency the President raises very important issues. I want to discuss this in the context of the right to liberty.

The right to liberty, in several respects, is considered the mother of all rights and it is not for nothing that in the preamble, in spite of the statement of fundamental human rights, that one is stated in the first stanza.

Again, to show that I have evidence to back my point, I would have recourse to the only institution that has authority to interpret this Constitution. I will refer to a case of British Airways and Another against the Attorney-General which again was presided over by the Rt. Hon. Speaker. Madam Speaker, you did make the case clear about the right to liberty.

His Excellency the President has made this statement;

“The law-enforcement agencies must respect the human rights of citizens and I expect them to be uncompromising in their pursuit of those who violate the human rights of others. We will bring to closure the lingering issue of justice in the murder of the Ya-Na and many of his elders, Issah Mobila, and the several women whose unsolved cases still remain a national mystery”.

Madam Speaker, I want to support that position stated by the President and to say that the death of these people is very regrettable and wherever there is a death, we should take it seriously. It is in that vein that I will ask all stakeholders and all citizens to be alive to our duties under article 41 and especially 41(i) to support the law enforcement agencies to get justice done in these cases.

My only addition is that, this should not represent the full list of people whose deaths must be investigated. Since

then, we have had unfortunate incidents continuing. I heard this morning that His Excellency has sent two of his leading Ministers to Tamale and all those who have died recently, also in Bawku and in Agblogboshie should be seriously investigated and justice be done, not forgetting Gushegu and Kumbungu where three persons were also murdered around that time.
Alhaji Sumani Abukari 11:25 a.m.
On a point of order. Madam Speaker, I think I have a duty to correct the records. No three people died in Kumbungu. Three people died in a place called Jakpahi. Jakpahi is not Kumbungu - [Interruption] -- No the record has to be straightened. So if there is a death in Kumasi does it mean that there is a death in Paga? It is Jakpahi not Kumbungu. Let us get it straight.
Madam Speaker 11:25 a.m.
That was a point of correction -- [Interruption.]
Mr. Dery 11:25 a.m.
Madam Speaker, I thank
my hon. Colleague on the other side of the House. The important point here is that the death cases are unsolved. Madam Speaker, that is why I said that any death anywhere in Ghana is equally important.
Madam Speaker, I want to make this point; we have a mindset which tends to criminalize groups and we need the assistance of every citizen. Madam Speaker, if any citizen would assist the law enforcement agencies and at the end of it the only reward that person gets is the dubious accolade of a family or a group being tagged, then, we are not going to get
maximum support.
Madam Speaker 11:25 a.m.
It is about time. I was going to say that I have permitted this. Honourable Dery, let us hear his point of order.
Mr. Hodogbey 11:25 a.m.
On a point of order. Madam Speaker, I think the debate is about -- [Interruption.]
Madam Speaker 11:25 a.m.
Which order are
you coming under?
Mr. Hodogbey 11:25 a.m.
Madam Speaker, the debate is about the discussion of the President's State of the Nation Address. According to Order 93 (4):
“The speech of a Member must have reference to the subject matter under discussion.”
Madam Speaker, the issue being discussed now, which has been stated in this Address is about Issah Mobila, the Ya-Na and others. The Hon Member who just spoke is bringing into discussion issues which have happened even three days ago -- [Uproar] -- by mentioning -- [Interruption.]
Madam Speaker 11:25 a.m.
Order! Order! Let
him finish his point.
Mr. Hodogbey 11:25 a.m.
Madam Speaker, bringing statements like “vicarious liability” is just trying to confuse the actual motion under debate. [Some Hon Members: Sit down! Sit down!] Madam Speaker, I will appeal to you to ask the Hon Member to end the discussion. In the first place, he has overstepped the allotted time that you set up. Besides, using certain words like “vicarious liability” whatever it is -- [Laughter.]
Madam Speaker 11:25 a.m.
Let us hear him
out, please. He is making a point of order.
Mr. Hodogbey 11:25 a.m.
Madam Speaker, for the benefit of all Hon Members, those words that he has used should be explained so that we can counteract, whether he is telling us lies or not.
Mr. Dery 11:25 a.m.
Madam Speaker, thank you for the opportunity. Madam Speaker, I heard someone say that this is a comic relief but I do not want to believe that. I do not think it is.
Madam Speaker, I am really passionate about the President's attempt to bring justice in these cases. Madam Speaker, that is why I have alluded to the fact that all of us, under article 41, should assist and play our part.
Madam Speaker 11:25 a.m.
Are you winding up now?
Mr. Dery 11:25 a.m.
Madam Speaker, I should be winding up. Madam Speaker, I was talking about a mindset that might not sufficiently motivate individual citizens. And I want to relate it to His Excellency's commitment to deal with drug trafficking cases.
Madam Speaker, in conclusion, let me say that where we have people, groups tagged, because an individual of that group has committed an offence, Madam
Mr. Dery 11:25 a.m.
Speaker, it makes it difficult for us to play our part.
Madam Speaker, recently, during the campaigns, we heard some statements which fortunately have been cleared now. But it is important that we send the message out there to let people understand that when they provide information for their relatives to be arrested and dealt with, which they must, they will not end up with the accolade or maybe murderous family, murderous faction or cocaine family or cocaine group. It is important that we set these records straight.
Madam Speaker, as I conclude, let me say that he made a statement about a monthly broadcast which I think was a good thing. But Madam Speaker, I would like to remind His Excellency that we have got other innovations that have been in place which are more interactive such as the Peoples Assembly, and he may wish to consider adding that.
Madam Speaker, finally, let me say that all I have attempted to do, is to assist His Excellency the President to make good his oath, and to do the good things that he has for this country. Also I want to say that His Excellency made a very important point here that I cannot miss. Madam Speaker, on page two, before I sit down, it says and with your permission, I quote:
“Last December, the People of Ghana sat in judgment and ruled in favour of the NDC and our agenda for A Better Ghana.”
Madam Speaker, without prejudice to the fact that the said judgment was not unanimous but a slim majority --[Uproar] -- with an automatic appeal in four years, let me remind His Excellency the President of his promise to make 40 per cent of his appointees in government, among others,

women. I think it is an important point that he needs to keep, and it might be one of the grounds of appeal in 2012.

Madam Speaker, and he said “and their agenda”. Under article 55, the manifesto was presented which is part of the agenda, and I would revise that.
Mr. Sampson Ahi (NDC -- Juaboso) 11:35 a.m.
Madam Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to associate myself with the motion to thank His Excellency the President for delivering the State of the Nation Address to this august House. Madam Speaker, His Excellency, in his Address stated that he will continue all the good deeds of his predecessors. unfortunately when it comes to the economy, the President, Prof. John Evans Atta Mills has no foundation to lay any building.
Madam Speaker, on 7th January, 2001,
the former President, John Agyekum Kufuor stated categorically in his inaugural Address that he would cut his coat according to his cloth.
But when it comes to the economy, what do we see? And with your permission, Madam Speaker, page 9 of the Address, I quote:
“Over the last one month of assuming office, an economic management team has been painstakingly reviewing our situation. The reality as we have found out calls into question the previous assertion that Ghana is doing well in spite of the global economic crisis.”

And when you read further and with your permission, I quote:

“The fiscal deficit, meaning the excess of expenditure over revenue, was GH¢2.5 Billion in 2008.”

It means that what the previous Government has done is that we spent higher than the revenue that we accrued in 2008. It is like a salary worker who earns GH¢10 million but decided to spend GH¢30 million. It means in the next two months unless that person is able to pay off the GH¢20 million debt he cannot buy clothes, he cannot buy food and he cannot buy water.
Mr. Benito Owusu-Bio 11:35 a.m.
Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order.
Madam Speaker, the Hon Member, Hon Ahi, in his statement referred to the country and the economy as being sick. Madam Speaker, in saying that, he is grossly misleading the House and the nation in general. Madam Speaker, the hon. Member also said that the previous Government was over-spending and that the previous Government spent more than it was generating.
Madam Speaker, just yesterday we read in the newspapers that the current Government's Transitional Team has spent GH¢30 billion [Interruptions.] What that means is that even before they generate they are spending. So Madam Speaker, he is grossly misleading this House and that he has to withdraw.
Mr. Ahi 11:35 a.m.
Madam Speaker, Let me

thank my Hon Friend for echoing my assertion that the previous Government spent more than we were able to raise in 2008. And it is clear. Let me read to him, if he has not read the State of the Nation Address, page 9, and with your per-mission, I quote:

“The fiscal deficit, meaning the excess of expenditure over revenue, was GH¢2.5 Billion in 2008.”

That is, budget deficit for him if he does not know. It means that Ex- President Kufuor instead of cutting his coat according to his cloth, did not do that -- [Interruptions.] If you have this scenario, if you have this situation what is the way forward? That is why on page 10 of the State of the Nation Address the President thought it wise to tabulate a lot of policies to cut down cost so that we can balance our books.

Number three, reducing official seminars and workshops budget dras- tically. These are pragmatic efforts the President is going to introduce so that by the close of next year we will balance our books so that Ghana will take off properly.
Madam Speaker, when you turn to page 9 again, with your permission, I quote 11:35 a.m.
“The external deficit, or balance of payments for 2008 is estimated at GH¢3.42 Billion, or is, 18% of GDP. Here too, it means that we have spent more money on foreign goods and services than we have earned.”
Madam Speaker, when you turn to page 9 again, with your permission, I quote 11:45 a.m.
[Uproar.] Madam Speaker, we imported more than we exported. So the previous Government did not balance the process of importing as against exporting; they just imported and imported and imported. [Uproar.] Madam Speaker, if you have this situation, how do you solve it? That is why the President in his own wisdom thought it wise to revamp the Aveyime Rice production so that we cut down money that we use to import large quantities of rice from outside to Ghana.
Madam Speaker, recently we heard many people complaining about the fact that the cedi is appreciating the dollar. [Uproar.] Yes, the cedi is appreciating the dollar. [Uproar.] This is because in other words -- [Interruptions.] (An Hon Member: Kyooboi! Kyooboi!!) -- people are complaining that the cedi is appreciating the dollar. [Uproar.]
In other words, Madam Speaker, the cedi is depreciating against the dollar. It will happen because when you are importing more rice, it means that many people will demand the dollar and so the demand for the dollar goes very, very high.

Madam Speaker, this explains why the cedi has depreciated against the dollar. Madam Speaker, before I resume my seat, Madam Speaker, on page 23 of the State of the Nation Address, with your permission, I read:

The TOR has a mountain of debt which currently stands at GH¢114.6 million or 11.46 trillion old cedis. The current debt profile at TOR compares with a total debt of GH¢318.6 million or 3.18 trillion cedis as at December 31, 2001.”

It means that by December 31st 2001,
Madam Speaker, when you turn to page 9 again, with your permission, I quote 11:45 a.m.
Madam Speaker, the TOR debt Recovery Fund Levy had up till “December 2008 accummulated to GH¢720 million or 7.2 trillion old cedis. Meanwhile as we speak now, TOR is still owing so much. So the question is, where was the money that was collected taken to? Where is the money? -- [Uproar] and I think that -- [Interruption

I believe that hon. Dr. Akoto Osei alone cannot explain this and that the previous Government should be called upon to explain to us how they spent revenue because there is something totally wrong with the collection . I think that Ghanaians need this explanation otherwise, there is no need for imposing taxes on commodities. When you collect taxes and the purpose for which the taxes were collected is not met, then there is no sense in imposing taxes.
Madam Speaker 11:45 a.m.
Hon. Member, wind up now.
Mr. Ahi 11:45 a.m.
Madam Speaker, before I
wind up, it is on this note that I want all of us here to clap for His Excellency, President John Evans Fiifi Atta Mills for presenting this important message to this floor and then showing us the state of
Ghana's economy and how he intends to salvage the economy from decaying to a better Ghana where all of us will benefit from it.
Madam Speaker, before I sit down, I want to congratulate the President for not forgetting cocoa farmers, by emphasizing the point that very soon, his Government will start the process of establishing a cocoa processing company at the heart of cocoa growing districts.
Madam Speaker 11:45 a.m.
Hon. Members, the debate on this matter will be stood down. We will take item number 6 on the Order Paper. We defer further debate on it.

Suspension of Standing Order 80 (1)

Mr. E. T. Mensah (on behalf of)
Chairman of the Committee 11:45 a.m.
Madam Speaker, I beg to move, that not- withstanding the provisions of Standing Order 80 (1) which require that no motion shall be debated until at least forty-eight hours have elapsed between the date on which notice of the motion is given and the date on which the motion is moved, the motion for the adoption of the Seventh
Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 11:45 a.m.
Madam Speaker, I second this procedural motion.
Question put and motion agreed to.
Resolved accordingly.
Seventh Report of the Appointments Committee
Mr. E. T. Mensah 11:45 a.m.
Madam Speaker,
I beg to move, that this honourable House adopts the seventh report of the Appointments Committee on the President's nominations for Ministerial appointments.
1.0 Introduction
His Excellency President J. E. A. Mills communicated to Parliament for prior approval of the nomination of the following persons for appointment as Ministers of State pursuant to articles 78 (1) and 256 of the Constitution:
1. Hon. Albert Abongo -- Minister-designate for
Water Resources, Works and Housing
2. Mr. Kwesi Ahwoi -- Minister-designate for Food
and Agriculture
3. Hon. Azong Alhassan -- Minister- designate at the Presidency
4. Mr. Mark Woyongo -- Upper East Regional Minister-
Mr. Anthony Evans Amoah (NPP -- Mpohor Wassa) 11:45 a.m.
Thank you, Madam Speaker, for giving me the opportunity to contribute to the debate.
First of all, I just want to commend
the nominees who actually distinguished themselves before the Appointments Committee. But I will just limit myself to Mr. Kwesi Ahwoi whom I knew very well at the Ghana Trade Fair Company, when he was the Director and the Ghana Investments Promotion Centre (GIPC). I know that most of us here know that as a Director, he was able to distinguish


As a Minister for Food and Agriculture, I believe that he will be able to transfer that capacity and capability to this important Ministry. But the caution I have is that in most of the regions in this country and especially in Western Region, there is one emerging problem -- that is, the problem of landlessness. I am saying that there is a problem of landlessness because of plantation agriculture such as oil palm, rubber and others.

There is also the problem of landless- ness because of mining activities and whenever we talk about moderni-zation of agriculture we often lose sight of that fact that land is dwindling. As Minister for Food and Agriculture, and just as he has mentioned that he is going to look at land development, I would want to urge him to take that one seriously, other than that, our policy of modernizing agriculture will not come to fruition.

I believe that there is the need for a kind of policy that will be able to build land banks so that the youth who are interested in going into agriculture would have land to farm. Having said this, I would say that I support him and I believe that hon. Members would support the nomination of Mr. Kwesi Ahwoi. Thank you, Madam Speaker.
Mr. D. A. Azumah (NDC -- Garu/ Tempane) 12:05 p.m.
Madam Speaker, I beg to lend my support to the motion on the floor and to make a few comments. Madam Speaker, the four nominees we are about to approve this afternoon bring to a total of thirty-five (35) Ministers who have been vetted by the Appointments Committee, thirty-three of those with portfolios and two at the Presidency.
Madam Speaker, what makes me a
Minority Leader (Mr. Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu) 11:55 a.m.
Madam Speaker, I rise to second and wish to plead with you that I be allowed to contribute later to the motion. But I second the motion.
Question proposed.
Mr. Moses Aduko Asaga (NDC -- Nabdam) 11:55 a.m.
Madam Speaker, if you look at the
names that have been given to us, I am proud to associate myself with them -- that the Upper East Region has come out with a good number of designates.
Madam Speaker, if you look at the four names - Hon Albert Abongo, Mr. Kwesi Ahwoi, Hon Azong Alhassan and Mr. Mark Woyongo - these are people who have had a lot of experience in the public sector and also in private business. And I think that respectively they qualify for the positions that they have been given. But these positions are very challenging positions, especially Water Resources, Works and Housing. There is a lot of expectation from Ghanaians.
Also for Food and Agriculture, we all know that agriculture is very important in this country and we hope that the Minister- designate will make sure that modernized agriculture becomes his prime motive.
But I also think that under Agriculture, if we could adopt the la Cote d'Ivoire system of plantation farming in a number of cash crops and for that, I would also want to propose that Hon Members of Parliament should take the lead in encouraging plantation agriculture such as rubber, oil palm and so on.
This was the policy that Felix Houphouet-Biogny, the President of Ia Cote d'Ivoire put in place about twenty years ago and that is why la Cote d'Ivoire has always been ahead of Ghana in plantation cash crops such as cocoa, oil palm and rubber. I hope that this could be taken on board so that designated banks would be able to support farmers or
Mr. J. K. Avedzi (NDC - Ketu North) 12:15 p.m.
Thank you, Madam Speaker, for the opportunity to support the motion for the adoption of the seventh report of the Appointments Committee.
Madam Speaker, I want to use the opportunity to congratulate all the four nominees for sailing through the vetting. And in doing so I want to lay emphasis on the number one, hon. Albert Abongo who also doubles as Hon Member of Parliament for Bongo Constituency.
Madam Speaker, Hon Abongo in his answers to questions raised by a member of the Committee, on the rural water supply, indicated to the Committee that the unavai-lability of potable water in the rural communities contribute to outbreak of guinea-worm in those areas.
Madam Speaker, as a Member re- presenting a rural community, it is my hope that the Minister and Member would work hard to supply water to the rural communities. Making reference to Ketu North as one of the rural communities, the people of Ketu North are really looking up to him to supply them with potable drinking water.
Madam Speaker, the Hon Member also talked about water harvesting which is a very important issue that over the years
we have been over-looking. If houses in the rural and urban areas can be made to provide water harvesting facilities, it would go a long way to solve the problem of water shortage.
Madam Speaker, I want to urge the Hon Minister-designate to take those two areas seriously so that we can harvest rain water into our own tanks. Also the rural areas where they cannot have the facility to harvest the rain water, small community water project and bore-holes can be provided for these communities so that they can also have good drinking water to have a meaningful life.
With these few words, Madam Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity.
Mr. Francis Addai-Nimoh (NPP
-- Mampong): Madam Speaker, I rise to support the motion on the floor and to commend the nominees as they appeared before the Appointment Committee. In doing so, I would like to zero in on the nominee for Upper East Region. Watching the proceedings of the Committee on the national television, I admired the composure of the nominee for Upper East Region, I admired the manner in which he answered questions even though some of them were quite difficult.
However, Madam Speaker, on page 11 of the report, it is stated and with your permission, I read:
“Some members of the Committee expressed dissatisfaction about the lack of payment of freight charges on the equipment Mr. Woyongo brought down in the container belonging to GBC.”
Madam Speaker, it is intriguing to note that the nominee was able to pay for the purchase of those equipments, however, he could not raise enough funds to pay

for the cost of freight in transporting the equipment from the port in Europe to the port in Ghana. And this is intriguing and I believe that at the time that the nominee was working at the Ghana Mission in United Kingdom, he was perhaps guided by the code of conduct of the Civil Service of Ghana. And I want to believe that he took advantage of having his equipment packed in the same container as those of


Listening to him on the national television, awhen the question was put, he admitted that he did not pay freight and said he contacted the GBC Director- General at that time, Mr. Seth Agbo who declined to allow him to have his equipment in the same container as those of GBC and referred him to the then Minister for Communications.

Madam Speaker, furthermore, on the
Mr. J. K. Avedzi (NDC - Ketu North) 12:15 p.m.
same, page 11, first paragraph, that:
“These equipment under the Ghana Investments Promotion Centre Act, 1994, Act 478 are tax exempt.”
Madam Speaker, when the nominee was asked about how he secured the tax exemption, a letter was produced that emanated from the Ghana Investments Promotion Centre (GIPC) to the Value Added Tax (VAT) Service and to the Customs, Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS). [Interruptions.] Madam Speaker, the letter emanated from GIPC to VAT and to CEPS and I was wondering whether the GIPC by that Act has the authority to grant tax exemption.
Under the Constitution of this Republic it is only Parliament that has the authority to grant tax exemptions, in some instances the Minister for Finance may waive; and under those circumstances that the Minister for Finance waives or grants any waiver, he is also obliged to bring that waiver to this House for ratification. When the nominee was asked,he was not specific as to whether the Ministry of Finance had any course to the granting of the tax exemption on those equipments.
Therefore, I would like to caution the nominee, if he is given the nod by this House, that going to the Upper East Region he has a whole lot of State assets and resources at his disposal and I believe that he would be guided by the code of ethics for public officials.
On this note, I would like to commend

Mr. John Tia Akologu (NDC --

Talensi): Madam Speaker, I also rise to lend my support to this motion. Madam
Mr. J. K. Avedzi (NDC - Ketu North) 12:25 p.m.
Madam Speaker, let me also zero
on the Hon Minister-designate for the Upper East Region, Mr. Mark Woyongo. Madam Speaker, in 1980, August, to be precise of that year, I passed out of the Institute of Journalism in Accra. I was then an employee of the Ministry of Information stationed at the head office. In November of the same year, I was posted to Bolgatanga Regional Information Office.
When I got there, it was this perfect gentleman, Mr. Mark Woyongo who received me. Indeed, he was the head of the Publications Department of the Information Services in the region, where all reports relating to the work of the Department in the region emanated from before the Regional Information Officer certified them for transmission to the head office in Accra.
Madam Speaker, this gentleman took me through the rudiments of my practice and service in the Information Services Department and as I stand here today, I know and owe it to him that he gave me a very good foundation. And I have therefore no reservation to say that because of his good quality of work and service and character he rose through the ranks.
First from the head of the Publications Department, he became the Regional Information Officer for Upper East Region and then he moved to the head office to the position of a Director before he went to the London office. When he came back from the London office, he became the Director of Finance and Administration, another high profile position. He discharged his duties in this capacity very effectively and efficiently until he retired.
Madam Speaker, the person I am
talking about is a very humble, respectful and dutiful person, I believe that in spite of the limitations that could be discerned from the answers that he gave to his role in the importation of his Frequency Modulation (FM) equipment and then even in the registration as a voter, the Committee nonetheless has realised that he is a very good material and would serve the people of the Upper East Region very well.
Madam Speaker, I must underscore here that when his name was mentioned in the newspapers and finally confirmed here on the floor by you reading the communications from the President to us, the Upper East Region went into a frenzy because they were very happy they were getting a very perfect gentleman to serve them. I believe what happened at the Committee hearing are, as my Hon Colleague opposite has just pointed out, an eye opener to him and he would take them on board and then work to serve the people. I have no doubt that we shall benefit from him.
Madam Speaker, I also want to seize
this opportunity to congratulate Mr. Kwesi Ahwoi, Minister-designate for Food and Agriculture. Agriculture is a very serious component of our human endeavours and just yesterday, I talked to the press concerning the plight of tomato farmers in the Upper East Region especially, along the White Volta basin. In fact, they have spent all their life and time, all their resources in the cultivation and production of tomatoes, but Madam Speaker, it is sad to state that they are not finding market for their products.

Some of them gave me calls and said if we did not do something about their
Madam Speaker 12:25 p.m.
Hon Minority
Leader (Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu), can you wind up.
Minority Leader (Mr. Osei Kyei-
Mensah-Bonsu): Madam Speaker, thank you very much for the opportunity to also add my voice to the approval of the nominees who appeared before the Appointments Committee of Parliament.
Madam Speaker, Hon Albert Abongo
is a veteran member of the Committee on Works and Housing and I must admit that he demonstrated beyond doubt that he has learnt quite a lot at the committee on which he served for eight years. Indeed,
between 2005 and 2008, he was the Ranking Member of the Committee and he, indeed demonstrated considerable grasp of matters pertaining to the Ministry.
I think that I must commend the
President for this. That is putting square pegs in square holes. And I have no doubt in my mind that within a very short time the Hon Colleague, after he has been sworn in, would hit the ground running. Without doubt, he demonstrated, to a very good capacity, to adjust once given the approval by this House.
Mr. Kwesi Ahwoi distinguished himself
before the Committee. There was a useful lesson that he imparted to us. That is, he admitted in a very humble manner that he has learnt very useful lessons from the collapse of Cashpro and that he intends to draw on the lessons learned to fertilise his own ideas regarding improving the agricultural sector.
Madam Speaker, he also told us that he shares the concepts of instituting pension schemes for farmers as espoused by the presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party (NPP). But indeed, he lamented the lack of clear modalities on the way forward, in particular of the cash crop farmers, on how to design a programme to achieve that purpose.
He demonstrated considerable prag-
matism and I believe that he would, in the same breath, advise the President that it is not possible within four years to increase our cocoa yield to 1,750 kilograms per hectare. Because if indeed, we are able thon. Isaac Osei yesterday, is nowhere near a thousand kilograms, per hectare.
Madam Speaker, he spoke to us about the location of a cocoa processing industry in the Western Region, which thePresident
Madam Speaker 12:35 p.m.
The West Africa Mills Company Company at Tema are now experiencing considerable difficulties because the market for cocoa products, that is the processed products, keep shifting from liquor to powder, to confectionaries year in year out. And so one cannot determine where exactly the market may drift to. So, today as we speak, the Cocoa Processing Company is having to install new machinery at a very high cost. And nobody knows within the next how many years when they will be able to make profits.
The issue about Fulani herdsmen, the nominee said that we cannot stop them from coming to Ghana. So we must find a way to benefit from them. But clearly, they constitute greater menace than the profit that this country derives from them.
Madam Speaker, year in year out, we hear of wild bushfires occasioned by the Fulani herdsmen. We hear of serious confrontations between these herdsmen and farmers in the hinterland. In many instances, they are killing some of our own farmers on their farms. And we seem, as a nation, to be helpless because we sought to the application of the ECOWAS protocol on the issue of trans-humans. So I believe we should take bolder steps than we have done. And we encourage him to investigate this matter and take more decisive steps in combating this menace whilst not infringing or breaching the ECOWAS protocol on trans-humans.
Madam Speaker, I do not have much to talk about hon. Azong Alhassan whom I have not known for any long time, even though, I must admit that for the
short period that he has been here, he has demonstrated that he is a cool character. A Minister of State at the Presidency - let us see what he will do.
On Mr. M. O. Woyongo, he appeared
before the Committee for the second time. Madam Speaker, I must add and admit to the submission of the hon. Deputy Majority Leader, when he described Mr. Woyongo as a perfect gentleman. Indeed, he is gentlemanly looking, very cool demeanour and composure. But we must also say that there were considerable inconsistencies in the answers that he gave to some of the questions that we posed to him.
When one probes further one gets the
impression that the transaction that he engaged in, in acquiring the equipment to set up the FM station in Ghana when he was in London clearly cannot be said to be above board.

In particular, one is talking about the cost of transporting the equipment down to Ghana. Yes, the container that carted his own equipment to Ghana cost Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) $930. The nominee was not very definitive in telling us how come that he ended up about paying nothing by way of sea freight. But then admittedly, one could not pin him down. Clearly, there was some negotiations between him and GBC. That is why I am saying that the whole transaction was not above board.

Again, if one looks at the proforma invoice of the suppliers of the equipment -- Impact Associates -- Madam Speaker, it becomes evident that there are variations in the cost of similar equipment procured by Mr. Woyongo and GBC and brought down. Clearly a case of under-invoicing
Dr. Ahmed Y. Alhassan 12:35 p.m.
On a point order. Madam Speaker, I think there is some inaccuracy in the Minority Leader's submission. Mr. Woyongo did not go round and did not find his name. He went to the polling station where he was supposed to vote and could not find his name initially and he went round polling stations on monitoring for about two hours and the officers called him back to say that they had found his name and he could come and vote. I want to correct that impression. He said he went round and could not find his name to vote; that is not correct.
Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 12:35 p.m.
Madam Speaker, the Hon nominee indicated to us that he transferred his vote to Nayagnia. I just want to refresh the memory of my hon. Colleague. There are many polling stations there and he said when initially he went and could not find his name in the primary school “A” he went round other places because there is also Nayagnia Primary “B” School.
That was the first time when we met him, not the last time. Thereafter he went round on monitoring and so I am not wrong in saying that he said he went round the polling stations in Nayagnia; I am not wrong in saying that. And then he said, thereafter -- [Interruptions.] No, I am talking about Nayagnia, not the entire constituency.
He said he went round the entire constituency subsequently on monitor-ing; I admit to that, but for Nayagnia, he went there to look for his name; yes, and they have four stations. He went there; he could not find his name. Later he said, he was called by the electoral officers to come and vote at a station and that they had found his name. We have the register here, the name is not here, the name is not on any of it. That is the point I am making.
Majority Leader/Leader of the House (Mr. A. S. K. Bagbin) 12:45 p.m.
Madam Speaker, I also stand to support the motion, and in doing so, I want to say a few words that may try to clear some doubts; to use the Committee's language, “lingering doubts” in the minds of people.
This has to do with the nominee that has come under real scrutiny, which is Mr. Mark Woyongo, and try to clear some of these doubts, because Madam Speaker, in 2002/2003 the issue concerning the importation of equipment for an FM station came up for investigation and the State Security investigated the matter. I then as Minority Leader was aware of it because they had to contact me in order to get access to our current Vice President to assist in the investigation.

At the end of the day the security agencies found nothing wrong with the

transaction and no action was taken against Mr. Mark Woyongo; he was cleared, he was permitted, he established the FM station. It has operated up till today. So I believe strongly that nothing untoward took place and that is how come the security agencies did not find him culpable.

Madam Speaker, on the issue of the registration, it is stated in the Committee's own report, at page 10, where paragraph 2 is very copious on that issue. I will read it so that Hon Members can see what they said in the report itself which they said they were trying to ascertain the truth. Madam Speaker, with your permission, I quote:

“In order to ascertain the truth or otherwise of the claim, the Committee in a letter, requested the Electoral Commission (EC) to furnish it with information on Mr. Mark Woyongo's registration. In its response, the Commission confirmed Mr. Woyongo's state- ments and stated that he is a registered voter at polling station JO22601A in the Navrongo Central Constituency. The Commission also stated that Mr. Woyongo originally registered at poll ing station CO80410 at the Dade Kotopon Constituency in the Greater Accra Region. In October 2008, he sought a permanent transfer of his voter registration to the Navrongo Central Constituency in order to enable him contest the parliamentary elections. This request was granted and his voter registration duly transferred. The Commission further informed the Committee that Mr. Mark Woyongo's registration details are currently recorded in the voters'
Mr. K.T. Hammond 12:45 p.m.
On a point of order. Madam Speaker, I am wondering if you would help us with some ruling here.
Madam Speaker 12:45 p.m.
Are you raising a point of order?
Mr. Hammond 12:45 p.m.
Indeed, a very serious one. Madam Speaker, we see that there is so much argument about a nominee that the Committee in its own good judgement has decided that he is qualified to be a Minister, so we bring our findings and conclusions to the floor. Madam Speaker, would you want to rule whether there is the need for this lengthy argument on this and that which is -- [Interruptions.]
Madam Speaker, we need your assistance on this because we have brought a very clear report which says that the man should go and be a Minister. So what is all this debate about what the Electoral Commission said and all these things. Madam Speaker, help us.
Madam Speaker 12:45 p.m.
He has made a point that he wants a ruling on it.
Do you need a ruling on this?
Mr. Hammond 12:45 p.m.
Yes, Madam Speaker.
Madam Speaker 12:45 p.m.
You were a member of the Appointments Committee and according to you there is no need, after the Report, to be going into details of what happened there by both sides. Is that what you -- [Pause.]
Mr. Hammond 12:45 p.m.
Madam Speaker, particularly when our findings and recommendations are pretty clear.
Madam Speaker 12:45 p.m.
Hon Member, I do not think there is a need for a ruling except to say that they can make comments on the Report. And if all they are doing is commenting on the Report, I do not think there is any point of order about it.
Mr. Hammond 12:45 p.m.
Madam Speaker, plenty comments like that? [Laughter.]
Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 12:45 p.m.
Madam Speaker, as I was saying, the Majority Leader read copiously from the Report of the Appointments Committee. He said, and I want to quote the relevant sentences.
That is for voter transfer.
“The request was granted and his voter registration duly transferred.”
That is from Dade Kotopon to a new destination. Now go on, “The Com- mission further informed the Committee that Mr. Mark Woyongo's registration details are currently, [that is as we speak] recorded in the voters'register of polling station J022601A” -- which is still the Dade Kotopon Constituency. [Some Hon Members: No]
Yes. Madam Speaker, the number JO
is for Dade Kotopon Constituency and it has been transferred -- Madam Speaker, what we are talking about is that the one for JO2601, we want the final destination in Navrongo Central. I am saying that the list they provided us, it is not there. That is why I am saying that he admitted before us that with the information given him, he went to the station apparently to vote but when he went there he could not find his name.
But they said they later found it and asked him to come and vote. So when he went there he went to cast his vote. But I am saying that as per the list, the name is still not on the list. That is what I am saying.
Madam Speaker 12:45 p.m.
Hon Members, let us take it that at the end of it there was consensus.
Mr. Bagbin 12:55 p.m.
Madam Speaker, I am simply relying on their own Report because I am not a member of the Committee. This is the Report from the Committee and it is clearly stated there that the Commission further informed the Committee that Mr. Mark Woyongo's registration details are currently recorded in the voters' register of the polling station JO22601A. And he is saying that the word “currently” means “as we are speaking”.
The time this Report was written is not at the time we are speaking. So when we are talking about “currently” the word could not have been used some days ago to mean “today”. But that is the Report of the Committee. So I just said, no, we have to clear this lingering doubt about the registration.

Madam Speaker, I was moving onto a second issue and just to correct the report

on the issue of an irrigation project which is stated to be “Kanban Irrigation Project”. I know this is a reference to the Kambah Irrigation Project. And that is page 7, the first paragraph, the heading is “Kanban Irrigation Project” and in the body it is also referred to as Kanban Irrigation Project.

The irrigation project referred to is Kambah Irrigation Project which is K-a- m-b-a-h not “n” and that is the proposed irrigation project in the Upper West Region -- very dear to the heart of the Upper West Region. Various regimes had tried to put it to reality but they have not succeeded so far. I hope and pray that the Minister-designate will translate his answers into action when we finally approve of him and he is appointed by His Excellency.

I think that the Committee did a thorough job, we all watched them on the television and some of the nominees were taken on for over two hours but they did not break down, they kept their cool and answered the inquisition of my Hon Colleague the Minority Leader and they came out with honours. So we will urge you to put the Question after I am told the Vice-Chairman has said a few words in winding up.

Thank you, Madam Speaker.
Mr. E. T. Mensah 12:55 p.m.
Madam Speaker,
I want to thank Hon Members for their contributions but just to touch on one or two issues.
The issue that the Hon Minority Leader raised about under invoicing and over- invoicing is very, very important. What we need to know is that, we are talking about four containers and not just one container. And when you talk about over- invoicing you do not pin the nominee down to what happened.

We know what happens in the public system; anybody who has worked with the public service knows what happens and that is why we want GBC to henceforth be more interested in the prices that are quoted for items that they purchase.

Then on the freight, he explained it; four containers -- his was just in one container and not the whole container. There is little space and that was granted. The Hon Member opposite touched on something which is also very important. After he had praised the nominee, he strayed in some dangerous areas as to the fact that, the nominee said that when he requested that they carried his machine in the container the then Director-General refused to grant the permission.

He did not refuse; what he told him was that he should seek permission from the Ministry of Information, which he did. So it is not correct that Mr. Aggo Adjetey outrightly refused to allow him permission for that little thing to be taken.

Madam Speaker, the Hon Member

also repeated something that has been addressed in the report about exemption. The nominee provided letters from all the institutions, he went first to see the National Communications Authority and they directed him as to where to go. And he went to those places and had all the
Madam Speaker 12:55 p.m.
Hon Members, may I take this opportunity to congratulate the nominees, especially the two Members of Parliament, Mr. Albert Abongo and Mr. Alhassan Azong amongst us. They have received Parliamentary approval for appointment as Ministers of State.
Madam Speaker 1:05 p.m.
Hon Members, we
will now go back to the debate.
State of the Nation Address
Dr. A. A. Osei (NPP -- Old Tafo) 1:05 p.m.
Madam Speaker, thank you for giving me this opportunity to contribute to the debate on the motion that this honourable House thanks His Excellency the President for the Message on the State of the Nation which he delivered to this honourable House on Thursday, 19th February 2009.
Madam Speaker, as I make my contribution, I am tempted very greatly to respond to my good Friend Hon Ahi. [Interruptions] - Madam Speaker, I have spent a long time trying to be a student of economics. I have never heard of this term: “the cedi is appreciating the dollar”. [Laughter] -- Madam Speaker, this is why it is good to be in the House. Madam Speaker, the advantage of being an honourable Member of this House -- [Interruption.]
Mr. Ahi 1:05 p.m.
On a point of order. Madam
Speaker, my Hon Senior Colleague knows that I corrected myself by saying that the cedi depreciated against the dollar, so he should know it.
Dr. Osei 1:05 p.m.
Madam Speaker, he said the
words I quoted. I heard him very correctly. I do not know if he corrected himself. Madam Speaker, if you go to the Hansard he repeated it at least four times. Madam Speaker, the point though is that this is the advantage of being in this House. If you are lucky you get to learn from your Hon Colleagues even though you may not accept what it is that they are saying.
Madam Speaker, on a more serious
note, I want to make my contribution by
sending a word of caution to our Hon Colleagues. Madam Speaker, for me, the best statement that I read in the Address was not what all my Hon Colleagues have talked about. -- The Official Report of Thursday, 19th February, 2009, column 479. I think we are combining the two documents even though we know what is here.
The President said, and with your permission I beg to quote:
“But let me hasten to add that this should not give cause for despair and panic. Our economy is resilient.”
This is His Excellency Prof. John Evans Atta Mills. For the avoidance of doubt let me quote again:
“Let me hasten to add that this should not give cause for despair or panic.”
Column 479 going on to 480, the Official Report -
“Our economy is resilient”.
Madam Speaker, His Excellency Prof. John Evans Atta Mills says our economy is resilient; and Hon Ahi says our economy is economically sick. [Laughter.] Madam Speaker, I think this is a statement that we ought to take seriously.
Madam Speaker 1:05 p.m.
Hon Member, is
the Hon Member not entitled to his views?
Dr. Osei 1:05 p.m.
Madam Speaker, I am
only quoting him. It is a statement of fact contrasting it against what His Excellency gave to this august House. Madam Speaker, so you will understand the reason why I am saying that. Madam Speaker,

the Minister of whom we approved went on air to make the following statement.

“Our economy is not broke; it is facing challenges.”

This was after a very senior member of the Transitional Team had said that the economy was broke.

Madam Speaker, I can assure you that when that statement was made by the now Minister for Trade and Industry, our cedi started depreciating -- [Uproar] -- Madam Speaker, our economy is very sensitive to unguarded remarks by people who do not understand the economy. In fact, the President of the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) also went to make the statement that the economy is not broke; it is facing challenges; His Excellency added to that.
Mr. Ahi 1:05 p.m.
On a point of order. Madam
Speaker, I think that the Hon Senior Member is still misquoting me. I used three words:
“That the economy is sick, fragile and challenged”.
These are the words that I used. And let me add, it is not true that it is because somebody pronounced the economy to be broke that is why the cedi started depreciating against the dollar. It is not true.
Madam Speaker, when you are importing more, it means that the demand for the dollar will increase. Then it means
Dr. Osei 1:05 p.m.
Madam Speaker, with all due respect, I hope that Madam Speaker is taking note of the time that I am contributing. When he was contributing I sat down quietly to listen to him. Madam Speaker, I was not even making reference to his -- [Interruptions.]
Madam Speaker 1:05 p.m.
Order! Let us carry on. I think he said he wanted to correct you - [Laughter] -- He said he did not say the economy -- he said it was sick.
Dr. Osei 1:05 p.m.
Madam Speaker, I was not

Madam Speaker, I want to thank His Excellency the President for also positioning his remarks within the global context. Madam Speaker, I hope most of you have read the Monetary Committee of the Bank of Ghana's latest statement yesterday.
Madam Speaker, to quote, the Governor said 1:15 p.m.
“The year 2008 was unusual and unprecedented”.
I repeat: “unusual and unpre-cedented”.
But His Excellency made the following quotation:
“I have assumed office at the time of heightened anxiety and insecurity

in the global economy”.

Madam Speaker, what are they referring to? Most people think that what they were referring to was the global financial melt down, no. The unprecedentedness that they were talking about refers to the oil price shocks and food price shocks of 2008 that started the global recession in most economies. So I thank His Excellency for positioning his remarks in that context.

Madam Speaker, I would have loved to

do a detailed review of Juaboso economics - [Laughter] -- but time will not allow me to do that. So I want to pick on some three or four issues that I think is important that we put in proper context.

Madam Speaker, the impression has been given by several people that deficit financing per se is bad -- [Interruptions] -- I will come to it. Madam Speaker, since Lord Keynes, after the great depression, several economists have told us why it is important that sometimes you go into deficit financing to achieve a particular objective.

Madam Speaker, let me relate it to the personal practices of hon. Members of this House so you will see why the Government did that. Madam Speaker, with the exception of your goodself I can confirm that every Member in this House resorted to deficit financing and that is why we are here. [Uproar.] Madam Speaker, let me explain. In fact, Madam Speaker, I have it on authority that if you were to take a poll, 99.9 per cent of us would have resorted to deficit financing.
Madam Speaker 1:15 p.m.
They are going to
ask you to prove it.
Dr. Osei 1:15 p.m.
I will prove it. Madam
Speaker, not only will I prove it but I can
assure you that I will link it to why the issue of the ex gratia becomes important. Madam Speaker, as the President said, fiscal deficit in layman's terms means we have spent a great deal of money more than we earned.
Madam Speaker, deficit financing is
a strategic instrument to achieve a target objective at the right time. Why do I say that? Madam Speaker, all of us in this Chamber in 2008 engaged ourselves in something called Primary Elections and General Elections. Madam Speaker, I do not know how much each person spent but I can confirm that most of my Hon Colleagues have confirmed to me that their strategic objective was to ensure that they become hon. Members of this august House.
For that reason they were willing to do what was necessary to win the election to become Hon Members of this august House, with the exception of Madam Speaker. Madam Speaker, this is a fact. If truth will be told, if you took a poll, you will see that all hands will be up. Madam Speaker, what is wrong? There is nothing wrong with that, do not get me wrong. But those decisions were taken with full cognizance of the fact that it was only a one time strategic decision. We are not going to have elections for four years. So in 2008, an election, if one wanted to become an hon. Member of this august House it made rational sense to spend money that one would not have to spend again till the next four years.
Madam Speaker, this is exactly what the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Government had the foresight to do -- Madam Speaker, we are told that the deficit is around 15 per cent. Madam Speaker, there is nothing wrong with the fact that it is around 15 per cent because we know and the Ministry of
Finance and the Economic Management Team will tell you that there are certain one time odd expenditures that will not reoccur in 2009.
Madam Speaker, let me give you the details 1:15 p.m.
3.5 per cent to 3.6 per cent were expenditures that we borrowed money from 2007 that we knew we were going to spend in 2008. And by the way they were expenditures on the road sector, energy sector -- [Interruptions.]
Alhaji Sumani Abukari 1:15 p.m.
On a
point of order. Madam Speaker, deficit financing is sometimes very good, I agree with my Hon Colleague. Sometimes it is very good. But I want to remind my Hon Colleague that these were the same deficit financing we did when we were in government in 2000 and the same deficit financing they kicked against and insulted us on when they were sitting on this side of the House.
If he has forgotten I am reminding him. When they were sitting here they said it was not good -- they forgot about our roads; they forgot about the water; they forgot about everything. So if they are now learning that it is good I thank him very much.
Dr. Osei 1:15 p.m.
Madam Speaker, let me
remind my Senior Colleague of what His Excellency said and keep them in mind. “This should not give you cause for despair or panic”. Do not panic at all because we experienced it and found our way out. Do not panic. Madam Speaker, to repeat, 3.5 per cent came from purposeful spending on energy, on roads, on electricity equipment. That is 3.5 per cent out of the 15 per cent.
Madam Speaker, an additional 3.4 per cent was spent to purchase crude oil through the Volta River Authority (VRA) to generate electricity so that industries
Dr. Osei 1:15 p.m.

could run. Madam Speaker, that is already 6.9 per cent. Madam Speaker, at least, 1 per cent has come from the measures that we put in place to mitigate against the impact of the oil crisis.

Madam Speaker, all I am saying is that we know for a fact that at least 7.5 per cent of this will not reoccur just like Hon Members spent a lot of money that will not reoccur this year. Madam Speaker, so in fact, what you are talking about is a systematic deficit of approximately 7.5 per cent. Madam Speaker, to put it in context, what was it in 2000?

If the systematic structure is 7.5 and you go back to 2000 it is 7.1; 2001, 13.2;

2002, 8.3; 2003, 7.5; 2004, 8.1; 2005, 7.5;

and 2006, 6.5. Madam Speaker, so you see that the 7.5 per cent systematic deficit is not different from what we have had in the years. So do not despair, do not panic.

Madam Speaker, let me make reference to the United States of America (USA) economy. President Obama inherited $1.3 trillion deficit. The same President Obama is spending $700 billion to stimulate the economy and that is more deficit. Deficit financing is good when it is used for the stated objective. There is nothing wrong with that.

Madam Speaker, Europe, United Kingdom (UK), as I speak, are engaged in deficit financing to ensure that their economies will not go on a recession. Madam Speaker, more importantly, because the Government spent money in productive investments the rate of growth of GDP as it still tries to play around will not be less than 7 per cent.

Madam Speaker, in fact, the evidence I have tells me that in 2008 real GDP growth is likely to be around 8 per cent. Madam Speaker, deficit financing is not bad per se when we are using it to achieve our growth objective. For us to become a middle income country we must grow
Mr. Michael T. Nyaunu 1:15 p.m.
Speaker, I am becoming a little bit surprised at the defence that our Hon Colleague is putting forward.
Madam Speaker 1:15 p.m.
What is the point
of order?
Mr. Nyaunu 1:15 p.m.
Madam Speaker, what
I am saying is that I am raising a point of order in the sense that I am becoming surprised at the defence that my Hon Colleague is putting forward. I think His Excellency the President read in the State of the Nation Address and stated facts, what he had come to inherit. He was not accusing anybody that he has been bad or anything. But he said these are the facts that he came to meet. But it appears like he has taken the blame and tried to defend that it was like this, it was like that; that is not of essence. I do not think that - Madam Speaker, I think that he should try to come on line and stop confusing the whole State.
Madam Speaker 1:15 p.m.
Hon Member, I
really do not get the point of order. Were you correcting him or interrupting him to give him information?
Mr. Nyaunu 1:15 p.m.
Madam Speaker, what
Madam Speaker 1:15 p.m.
I will ask him to
carry on.
Mr. Nyaunu 1:15 p.m.
It was not an issue that
he wanted to accuse the other Government but the President came to read a State of the Nation Address, telling us what he met and that was it. But it appears my Hon Colleague was busy defending every position. That is what he was doing. At the end of it all the President stated that there was no cause for panic, that the economy
is resilient.
Madam Speaker 1:15 p.m.
Hon Member,
I thought he said he was praising the President for making those statements that the economy was not broke.
Dr. Osei 1:15 p.m.
Yes, Madam Speaker --
[Interruptions.] I can understand when people are used to Juaboso economics, anything else is confusing to them. But they will change.
Mr. Ahi 1:25 p.m.
On a point of order.
Madam Speaker, I think that my senior Colleague is continuously saying Juaboso economics, . He knows that we do not have Juabeso economics. Maybe, we have Tafo economics. If he has Tafo economics he should tell us. To the best of my know-ledge we do not have Juaboso economics. So, if he knows that we have Tafo economics he should tell all of us so that we go and look for that book and buy.
Madam Speaker 1:25 p.m.
Hon Member, I
Dr. Osei 1:25 p.m.
Madam Speaker, is it Ahinomics? [Laughter.]
Madam Speaker 1:25 p.m.
For most of us here.
Dr. Osei 1:25 p.m.
Madam Speaker, the second
point I want to touch on -- my good Friend from Juaboso stated it. I do not know if it is the fault of the economic advisers who wrote this for the President and I said this yesterday. Madam Speaker, the external deficit -- I read from the State of the Nation Address. It says, the “external deficit or balance of payments”, Madam Speaker, with all due respect, I
Madam Speaker 1:25 p.m.
Hon Member,
Mr. Ahi 1:25 p.m.
Madam Speaker, point of
correction. Madam Speaker, my senior Colleague misquoted me. I said we imported more than we exported. But the way he talked it was as if I did not even understand the two terms. I clearly
Dr. Osei 1:25 p.m.
Madam Speaker, it appears my good Friend is not listening to me.
Madam Speaker 1:25 p.m.
Hon Member, he
said it is a point of correction.
Dr. Osei 1:25 p.m.
Madam Speaker, it is not a
point of correction because I was quoting him. I said in the end I got the impression that what he wanted to say was that we imported more than we exported. And I cited figures to confirm what he was saying; exports were around 5 billion and imports were around 10 million. I was just supporting his statement. He should do well to listen. Maybe, Ahinomics is confusing him.
Madam Speaker, the point I was making was that if you compare the 10 billion that we imported, the oil import alone was 2.5 billion as opposed to 500 -- Madam Speaker, all this importation came in to allow VRA to generate electricity for industry to produce. So importation is not a bad thing. In fact, I maintain that because the imports went high that is the reason why we grew.
Nevertheless, Madam Speaker, what is important there and curiously in His Excellency's statement no mention was made of the amount of reserves that we have. Madam Speaker, after spending 10 billion dollars to import we still left this country 3.036 billion dollars worth of reserves. [Hear! Hear!] Madam Speaker, it will be useful to compare the type of reserves that we have had. Madam Speaker, I cannot help but go to the year -- Madam Speaker, with your indulgence let me give you the figures from 2000 -- Reserves, 233.4 million dollars. 2001 - 3 - [Interruptions.]
Some Hon Members 1:25 p.m.
Dr. Osei 1:25 p.m.
Ministry of Finance and Bank of Ghana. Madam Speaker, 2002 - 640 million; 2003 - 1.4 billion; 2004 - 1.7 billion; 2007 - 1.9 et cetera. And 2008 compared to 2000 - one is talking about 2 billion compared to 236 -- Madam Speaker, this is a significant achievement. As Mr. President said, we should not panic because we have left the Government with a lot of money.

Several Hon Members -- rose--
Madam Speaker 1:25 p.m.
Every sentence that the hon. Member makes we have a point of order from about four or five hon. Members even before the sentence ends. That is why sometimes I would like to hear from hon. Members so that I understand the point of order that is raised.
Mr. C. S. Hodogbey 1:25 p.m.
Madam Speaker,
I rise on a point of order. The statement made by His Excellency the President was based upon information given to him by his economic team. Hon Dr. Osei was a former Minister of State responsible for economic planning. So who gave those figures to the present economic team for him now to be opposing whatever he gave them? I think he is trying to mislead the
Madam Speaker 1:25 p.m.
Oh! Oh! I thought
we should not go there.
Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 1:25 p.m.
Speaker, I believe that this House transacts business in accord with our rules and procedures, that is our Standing Orders. The Hon Member for Tafo quoted his source of information, from Ministry of Finance and the Bank of Ghana --
Madam Speaker, Order 67 (1) (h), now my hon. Colleague is asking the source of or the veracity of the information. Order 67 (1) (h) says and I quote:
“a question shall not be asked the answer to which is readily available in official publications;”
Dr. Osei 1:35 p.m.
Madam Speaker, as he
himself said, I was a former Minister of State. I can confirm to him that I gave these numbers to the economic manage- ment team. I had a two-hour meeting with them, with the handing over notes -- so I know what I am talking about.
Madam Speaker 1:35 p.m.
Hon. Member, he
has shown you that he is not misleading the House.
Dr. Osei 1:35 p.m.
Madam Speaker, I said that

the stock of total debt stood at 7.1 billion in 2000. The latest information we have, as the President rightly quoted, is 7.6 for 2008. The difference by his arithmetic is only five hundred. Madam Speaker, what that translates into, in the layman's terms is that, on a net basis, per annum, the amount of borrowing is about 62 million dollars per year for the eight years.

Madam Speaker, yes, we got debt

reliefs, yes, we have paid some, yes, we have borrowed some, but the effect is that in eight years on the average, we borrowed only 62 million dollars. But in many ways, Madam Speaker, the issue about debt is not really the quantum of it; it is your ability to pay. This is why the President said we should not despair, we should not panic. Madam Speaker, in layman's term, in 2000 with a debt of 7.1 billion, and a GDP of 3.9 billion, what it means is that you need two years of GDP to pay that debt.

Madam Speaker, for emphasis, the debt stock of 7.1 billion; if you are not allowed to liquidate your assets, you are not allowed to borrow, your only recourse is your income; you need two years of the 2000 income to pay for the debt. Madam Speaker, what is the situation in 2008? The stock of debt is 7.6 billion dollars, GDP is 16.2 billion -- [Hear! Hear!] Madam Speaker, what it means simply is that, you can pay off the entire debt and have over 8 billion dollars left -- [Hear! Hear!] Madam Speaker, to put it differently, it means that in 2008, all we had to do was work for only six months to pay off the entire debt.
Dr. Osei 1:35 p.m.
Madam Speaker, this is a good thing. This is why the President, knowing that it is good, is asking us not to panic. So I do not know why they are standing up -- [Interruptions.]
Madam Speaker, the fact is that the
Dr. Osei 1:35 p.m.
Madam Speaker, a lot has been said about exchange rates and here I want to advise some of my hon. Colleagues that it is important that when they are making pronouncements on the economy, they are very careful.
Dr. S. J. Annan 1:35 p.m.
Madam Speaker. I am raising a point of order on Order 92 (1)(b) and to thank our Hon Brother for his Tafo economics. I think we should be careful that this House and the country is not conned and misled - [Interruption] - What I am saying here is that I am also thankful for him praising Prof. John Atta Mills, His Excellency. What he fails to do is to look on page 10, if I will be allowed to quote:
Madam Speaker 1:35 p.m.
Thank you, I think you have made your point.
Dr. Annan 1:35 p.m.
Madam Speaker, our Hon Friend says and I accept that there was over five billion debt relief. He cannot stand here, Madam Speaker, and state -- [Interruption.]
Madam Speaker 1:35 p.m.
Hon. Member, can I interrupt you? [Interruption.] Except that you want to answer his intervention. I will come to you when you stand up to contribute -- [Interruption] -- And so I do not think it is a point of order which comes under Order 92 -- [Hear! Hear!] -- Now, carry on Hon Member.
Mr. A.W.G. Abayateye 1:35 p.m.
When we get
up, please call us!
Madam Speaker 1:35 p.m.
I am not obliged to call you; you have to catch my eye. If you catch my eye, I will call you. If I do not see you, or you do not catch my eye, the decision is mine - [Hear! Hear!] - Otherwise when everybody stands, we all have to talk - [Interruptions] - Order! Order!
Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 1:45 p.m.
Madam Speaker, I believe that it falls within your competence to regulate the conduct of business in the House and I think many of the points of order that some of our Hon Colleagues are resorting to, are really points of arguments. They rise up and they want to argue a case and it is a prodigal waste of the time of this House and I believe that you are right in making that ruling.
But I believe what our Hon Colleague, Hon Abayateye just did is a mark of sheer irresponsibility and must not -- [Inter- ruptions] -- he is an Hon Member of this House and I respect him so much. I thought he is incapable of putting up this behaviour. Madam Speaker, I believe it is most unparliamentary and he must apologise. Madam Speaker, with respect to you I believe our Hon Colleague should be asked to withdraw and apologise. [Interruptions.]
Madam Speaker 1:45 p.m.
Hon Member, did you rise up on a point of order just before your intervention?
Mr. Abayateye 1:45 p.m.
Madam Speaker, please I rose up, you did not call me. But the point he just raised, he said “irrespon-sible” and he is asking me to
Madam Speaker 1:45 p.m.
Hon Kyei- Mensah-Bonsu, probably you can draw the House's attention to the Order which says one should stand up and catch the Speaker's eye and we will --
Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 1:45 p.m.
Madam Speaker, as you said a person desiring to speak must rise up and catch your eye and you call the person. In this case he alleges that he stood up but could not catch your eye, which is why you did not call him. Then he shouts into the microphone “Madam Speaker, when we get up call us”. I thought it was a mark of sheer irresponsibility, that is what I said -- [Interruptions.]
Madam Speaker, I thought what I said should indicate to the Hon Colleague that when he rises up or talks to the microphone, he should show deference and decorum to the Speaker. That precisely is the import of what I said and I thought what he did is sheer irresponsibility. Madam Speaker, I do not think this is unparliamentary language, it is not offensive. That attitude, that behaviour, if it is unparliamentary, it is irresponsible and that is precisely what I am saying that he should apologise to the Chair.
Mr. Abayateye 1:45 p.m.
Madam Speaker, [Interruptions] -- I am sorry for doing that against you. But what he said, the words he used against me are also irresponsible words and he should not do that. [Interruptions.]
Madam Speaker 1:45 p.m.
But you are using the same word too. [Laughter.] Anyway thank you for the apology, but if we do not keep the rules of this House, there will be no Sitting so let us go by the rules. Can you just continue, we are getting to 2.00 p.m. so can you conclude?
Dr. Osei 1:45 p.m.
I will try, very soon. Madam Speaker, I said when we are speaking on the exchange rate we have to be very careful. In fact, a statement was made on page 10 of the State of the Nation Address which I do not want to address because it is simply incorrect. But on matters of the exchange rate, the reason is, markets are very sensitive to it and I just wish to take the advice of H. E. the President that people should not be panicking. I know for a fact, that there is panicking pur-chasing of forex in the market right now.
Madam Speaker, around December, 2008, we were talking about a rate of about one to one point one. As I speak, I am informed that in certain places, at even one to fourteen , fifteen you cannot buy.
Madam Speaker 1:45 p.m.
Hon Member, we have about 5 minutes to 2.00, can you just wind up.
Dr. Osei 1:45 p.m.
I will finish before 2.00 p.m.

Madam Speaker, at the end of 2000, forex exchange reserves were two hundred and thirty-three million. At the end of 2008, it was two billion.

Madam Speaker, what I am saying is that, and it is in support of what His Excellency the President is saying;

we inherited an economy which faced challenges, but we were able to leave it in a better situation.

Madam Speaker, depreciation at the end of 2000 was about 49 per cent, even in the worse case scenario as at end of 2008, Bank of Ghana is talking about 22 per cent. It is better than 49 per cent. Madam Speaker, GDP growth is almost twice as much, poverty has reduced considerably -- [Interruptions.] Madam Speaker, nominal GDP, as I said, has gone from 3.9 billion to over 16.2 billion. This is why the President said and with your permission I quote:

“This should not give cause for despair or panic; our economy is resilient”.

Madam Speaker, I agree with him, a hundred per cent. What we are looking for is that the current leadership in the economic management of this country, would take steps to do what we were able to do in eight years; [Hear! Hear!] so that if inflation is 18 per cent, we expect them to take it to a single digit by 2012.

Madam Speaker, I want to advise them, you need to work hard. Madam Speaker, so far I have seen three appointees in the Ministry of Finance. I know two of them, I do not want to assess all of them now. I know they have not had the time to study the economy to move us forward. We expect that they come here with the
Madam Speaker 1:45 p.m.
Thank you. Hon Members, it is 2.00 o'clock; debate will be deferred till tomorrow to be continued. I accordingly adjourn this House to Thursday, 26th February 2009, at 10.00 in the forenoon.

  • The House was adjourned at 2.00 p.m. till 26th February, 2009 at 10.00 a.m.