Debates of 5 Mar 2009

PRAYERS 11:05 a.m.



Mrs. Eugenia Gifty Kusi 11:40 a.m.
Madam Speaker, item 3, the second paragraph on the first page; “the Chairmen and Chairpersons”, I think they are the same so the “Chairmen” should go. I think it should be Chairpersons and I also think that this document should be pasted so that it would be easier for us when we are making a reference.
Mr. S. K. B. Manu 11:40 a.m.
Madam Speaker, I wish to observe that of late, extended Sittings are not given its full complement. I would therefore appeal to Leadership that once they have proposed for extended Sittings, the necessary accompaniments would be taken care of. [Interruptions.]
Thank you, Madam Speaker.
Mr. J. T. Akologu 11:40 a.m.
Madam Speaker, due notice has been taken on this issue and it would commence today. [Hear! Hear!]
Mr. I. K. Asiamah 11:40 a.m.
Madam Speaker, once again I have a problem with the duration for the debate on this Budget. Madam Speaker, we are going to consider the Financial Policy for the year and we
are using only four Sitting days to do this job for the nation. I believe the four Sitting days are not enough; we need enough time to do proper critique on the document that will be provided here. [Inter-ruptions.] Madam Speaker, I therefore propose that at least eight Sitting days would be enough for this debate.
Madam Speaker 11:40 a.m.
Hon Minority Leader, do you have anything to say because you are a member of the --
Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 11:50 a.m.
Madam Speaker, I agree with the sentiments expressed by my Hon Colleague. Ordinarily, we need about six weeks to go through the motions with the passage of the Budget that is submitted to this House. But given the exigencies of the times, it is not possible to go beyond the stipulated time. So I believe that we may have to do with this.
Indeed, in 2001, when the New Patriotic Party's (NPP) Administration took over the reins of Government, we were constrained and compelled to travel this very way and so I will beg of my Hon Colleague that even though in principle, it is right to raise this matter, I believe that when the Administration settles in its strides, they will endeavour to revert to the conventions and practices of the House.
Madam Speaker, I want to observe that the last Budget, after its presentation we had some general agreement that the next time around, which is this time, we were to have, that is regarding the post-Budget workshop, the Chairpersons and Vice- Chairpersons on the various committees as well as the Ranking and the Deputy Ranking Members to be part of the post- Budget workshops.
I believe, again, it is attributable to the exigencies of the times not to have the Vice-Chairpersons and Deputy Ranking
Members to be part of the post-Budget workshop. May I plead that next time around, that is next year at least, we would have the two categories of persons or Hon Members included.
The point raised by my Hon Colleague, Hon I. K. Asiamah means that the various Select Committees would have to work extra hard, given the shortness of the time that we have because this Parliament is programmed to rise on the 27th of March, 2009 and so if we have to spend one week debating the principles of the Budget, we may have exactly two weeks to go through the considerations of the estimates of the various sectors, that is, the various Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) and pass the Appropriations Bill before or on the 27th of March, 2009.
So I would plead with the various Select Committees to work doubly hard; if they have to work into the night, they may have to do that. Of course, with commensurate compensations as being demanded.

We hear of some rumblings from some quarters, admittedly, relating to some other crucial matter. May I plead with Hon Colleagues, that Leadership is taking steps to still the waters and so we would see how we travel. But for the time being, I plead for peace.
Mr. Akologu 11:50 a.m.
Madam Speaker, first of all, let me thank the Hon Minority Leader for doing the canvassing for this side.
Madam Speaker, on the issue of the time as raised by Hon I. K. Asiamah, I think the Business Committee took note of his concern and that is why it made provision for the extended Sittings. If you look at item 5, you would realise that we said:
Madam Speaker 11:50 a.m.
Hon Asiamah, I thought you had spoken before.
Mr. Isaac Asiamah 11:50 a.m.
Madam Speaker, I am standing on a point of order. Madam Speaker, my Hon Colleague did say that our Leader here did canvass for their side. Madam Speaker, I think that is very unfortunate and he should withdraw that word. He is part of the Business Committee and so he was stating factual things, he was not canvassing for their side. As the Leader of our side, and a member of the Business Committee, he was only stating facts and not canvassing for their side. So he should withdraw and apologize to our Leader accordingly.
Mr. Akologu 11:50 a.m.
Madam Speaker, I would have ignored him but he does not know that it is this side that is responsible for Government's business and we would have been urging you but once he did it for us on this side, I was only thanking him for that activity. [Interruptions.]

Madam Speaker, the Appointments Committee will meet on Monday, 9th March, 2009 to consider the President's nominations.
Madam Speaker 11:50 a.m.
Hon Asiamah, I thought the watering and the other things, he is canvassing for the whole House when he talked about - [Interruption.]
Mr. I. K. Asiamah 11:50 a.m.
Madam Speaker, he said, for them, for their side -- [Interruption.]
Madam Speaker 11:50 a.m.
Well, their side or this side is the whole House and maybe including me.
Mr. I. K. Asiamah 11:50 a.m.
Madam Speaker, he went further to say that they are in charge of Government's business.
Madam Speaker 11:50 a.m.
But are they not? Anyway, let me hear Hon Ambrose Dery.
Mr. Ambrose P. Dery 11:50 a.m.
Madam Speaker, I think this should be put in proper context. We are talking about Business of this House and not Government business and as far as the Business of this House is concerned, we have the Business Committee and the Hon Minority Leader is the Ranking Member.
So what he was doing on this side was that, he was trying to put in proper context and proper perspective what transpired. He was not canvassing for that side which is supposed to canvass for Government. I am not even aware of that, but we were talking about Business of this House and should be stated clearly as such.
Madam Speaker 11:50 a.m.
Hon Members, you were only commenting on the Business Statement and I think it is time to close it.
Hon Members, the Business Statement as presented is adopted.
MOTIONS 11:50 a.m.

Madam Speaker noon
Order! Order!
Dr. Duffuor noon
How the resources of this economy would be managed in the future by His Excellency President Mills and the NDC Administration of the prosperity for all of us.
The Budget is also an opportunity
to share with Ghanaians the challenges we face and to call on all of us to come together to address these challenges with our ideas, knowledge, hard work and sacrifice.
This maiden Budget, Madam Speaker, is also an opportunity to echo the blueprint of NDC's social democratic agenda as outlined in the President's State of the Nation Address.
As we all know, managing public resources is a complex and challenging task. However, our objective this morning is very simple. The objective of managing public resource, to me and to all of us, is very simple.
It is to design and implement an economic system that works, a system that helps Ghanaians to find real jobs, provide access to basic necessities of living and indeed give you a dignified life, that provides access to education and health care that people can afford and a system that provides a dignified retirement. This is the vision of His Excellency the President.
Madam Speaker, as we stride to
Dr. Duffuor noon

Let me talk about the world economic outlook.

World Economic Outlook

Madam Speaker, permit me to share

with this House and our fellow Ghanaians the impact of the recent global economic crisis on our goals and development capabilities. The world economy has, over the past few years, been affected by severe economic shocks. Global inflation soared in 2008 likely because of the initial surge in food prices and fuel prices.

This was followed by a severe financial crisis that now threatens some of the major financial institutions in the world. The result is a rapid descent into a global recession, the like of which has not been seen or experienced since the great depression in the 1930s.

The crisis has caused a sharp decline in

the prospect for world economic growth and world trade, with potential negative impact of the growth percentage of -- [Interruptions.] [Some Hon Members: We need money!] The money would come later on, the money would flow, do not worry.

In fact, the financial crisis has compelled most monetary authorities in the advanced world to cut interest rates. If you look at the United Kingdom (UK), for the 314 years of the existence of Bank of England, they are enjoying the lowest interest rates and in the United States as we speak now, they are running at a deficit

of $1.2 trillion [Interruptions] -- I am coming home gradually.

Madam Speaker, the recession I am talking about affects us directly and indirectly. Indeed, the effect on us comes through many channels and I would like to talk about a few channels.

The demand for our country's export is expected to decline. The weak demand for export means less export revenue. Rising job losses in Europe and North America are likely to translate into a shortfall in foreign remittances as our fellow Ghanaians abroad suffer consequences of the recession.

The fiscal challenges of our developing partners in their home countries as they try to cope with the current crisis are also likely to affect their generosity in development support. Bank losses, the collapse of equity prices on the stock market and the virtual inability of companies to access trade finance are indications of how deeply the recession is biting.

Madam Speaker, that is not all. Partly as a result of the financial crisis, as a nation our strategy of shifting away from our heavy reliance on short-term domestic financing to long-term utility bonds that are open to non-resident investors is now under threat. Non-resident investors are holding on tight to their wallet, the appetite for new medium-term securities has diminished. All these are likely to have serious negative impact on our economy here.

Madam Speaker, the decline in export, foreign remittances, the decline in private capital inflows, the search in demand for foreign exchange to meet higher oil bills and food prices, and servicing of external debts would combine to put a downward

pressure on our cedi. More pressure on the cedi would be the last development you and I would wish for ourselves.

Madam Speaker, this is not the time to lament over our predicament; what we need rather is a collective effort to tackle the challenges and map out the strategies for the way forward. We are duty bound to raise questions where things have gone wrong but the common ground should always be to find solutions for better Ghana. [Hear! Hear!] Together we must evaluate the impact of the global event on our country and candidly advise on the way forward; anything short of that would be a serious neglect of respon-sibility.

In this regard, the Ministry of Finance would work with the Bank of Ghana and other stakeholders on policy measures that would include improving the supervision of our banks to ensure that domestic banks that we have here have adequate capital and liquidity to avoid the sort of leveraging that started the problems of the advanced countries.

We would also monitor the effect of changes in commodity prices, notably, gold and cocoa on the Budget and current account, following up on Ghana's commitments to the Budget as well as monitoring trends in foreign direct investments and remittances.

Madam Speaker, the goal of these measures is to take appropriate remedial steps to prevent further crisis on our economy. Our study is to construct a Ghanaian solution, rooted in our vision for our shared future. This solution must come out of frank and open engagement among ourselves, with business and organised labour and inter-social and development partners.

Our task is to see through the challenges of economic vulnerabilities so that we can construct the new Ghana, that is our pride and our passion. [Hear! Hear!] It is in the spirit of that that I stand here before you this morning.

Macro Economy

The economy in 2008 was charac-

terised by severe imbalances, posing a major challenge for economic growth and development. Provisional data indicates that all the macro economic targets set for 2008 were in difficulties. [Interruptions.] The real GDP growth was 6.2 per cent against the target of at least 7 per cent. [Interruptions.] End-of-year inflation was 18.1 per cent against a target of 6 per cent to 8 per cent. [Uproar.]

Average inflation was 16.5 per cent against a target of 7 per cent. [Uproar.] Gross international reserves was equivalent to 1.8 months of import cover for goods and services against the target of at least 3 months of import cover. [Interruptions.]
Dr. Duffuor noon
An overall budget deficit stood at 14.9 per cent as against 5.7 per cent target set. [Interruptions.] All these budget deficits were financed with borrowing from both domestic and foreign sources. This caused the overall national debt to rise by US$600 million and in the end the total national debt came to $8 billion. [Uproar.]

Madam Speaker, let me speak on the

specific areas of the spending that I have talked about. There was overexpenditure on both statutory and discretionary payments. The statutory payments exceeded the budgeted projection by 33 per cent. [Uproar.] And discretionary payments exceeded budget figure by 33.5 per cent. [Uproar.] Spending on personal emoluments exceeded the target by 27.4 per cent. [Interruptions.] Administration budget was overspent by 7 per cent.

Madam Speaker, a brief comment on monetary trends.

Monetary Trends

Madam Speaker, broadly, a key macro

economic indicator grew by 40.2 per cent last year, compared with 36 per cent in 2007. The growth of money supply is never in isolation and signals the threat of inflation, especially if the basis of the expansion is to support trade and consumer spending more than it supports production and real growth activities.

As we present these snapshots of the economy, we must also demonstrate to our fellow Ghanaians who sent you here, the international community who are listening to us here and our development partners who are with us, that we as a nation led by His Excellency President Mills are prepared to resolve and deal with these challenges headon. [Hear! Hear!] This is not the time for procrastination nor is it the time for second-guessing. The people who sent us here demand pragmatic solutions. [Hear! Hear!]

Madam Speaker, we are confident that the initiatives and the structural policies we would implement, the fiscal and monetary stance we would adopt and our dealings with labour and the private sector would boost our fiscal sustainability and subsequently the accelerated growth of the economy, even in the face of all these challenges.

NDC Vision

Madam Speaker, our immediate goal is

to stabilise the economy and at the same time put in place essential structures and initiatives to propel growths we desire. We would accomplish this through:

1. Strengthening fiscal management.

2. Improving co-ordination of fiscal and monetary policy.

3. Accelerating the development of infrastructure, especially water and sanitation; and,

4. Undertaking strategic investments in agriculture and other sectors of the economy guided by a national plan for the modernization of agriculture.

We would encourage the private sector

to participate in our accelerated growths agenda through public-private partner- ships. The positive strives of the 2009

Budget and medium-term expenditure framework is to:

Accelerate growth of the economy to create more jobs, broadening economic participation and reduce poverty; establish long-term fiscal sustainability through reducing the budget and current account deficits; Improve the exchange rate regime; strive for single digit rate of inflation in the medium-term -- [Interrup- tion] stabilise the public debt to GDP ratio at a sustainable level.

We would pursue all these policies as we improve the transparency, the efficiency of government expenditures. Madam Speaker, a brief comment on the social democracy and the change agenda

Social Democracy and the Change Agenda

Madam Speaker, a better Ghana and a social democratic agenda means that economic growths combined with the fair distribution of the returns from growth has to be central to the economic agenda. As social democrats, we believe that the imperfections of the market can be smoothened through vital and appropriate interventions by the State in wealth- creation and its equitable distribution.

We believe that through the fair distribution of resources, the pace of development can be increased, poverty can be decisively reduced and actuary growth can be guaranteed.

Madam Speaker, to us the purpose of the change agenda is to ensure that social justice becomes the fulcrum of Government's policy, and that those who do not benefit directly from the magic of the market are pulled into the mainstream of social and economic activities through direct empowerment. Breaking the

vicious cycle of poverty as well as inter- generational effect can only be done by a party as committed to changing the existing social and economic order.

Madam Speaker, the transformation

of the Ghanaian economy to create jobs is one of the single most important challenges confronting the country. We must strive and create jobs behind head potters and beyond selling by the road sides, in between traffic at great risk to the life of our young men and women.

There must be a better Ghana. [Hear! Hear!] That better Ghana can be within reach if we intensify the training in basic technology, whether it is in farming, woodworking, auto mechanics, every- where. Madam Speaker, our prospect for growth requires major investment in education, energy, road and transport networks. [Interruptions.]

Economic Stability and Fiscal Sustainability

Madam Speaker, let me talk about

macro- economic stability and fiscal sustainability. High fiscal deficits, high current account deficits, high rate of inflation and exchange rate uncertainties create macro-economic instability. Instability puts our growth and poverty reduction aspirations at great risk. It also puts at risk our access to external private and donor resources to complement our own.

We cannot afford to let this thing happen again. We must keep in mind that our fiscal predicament did not just arrive, hence it will take time to reduce
Dr. Duffuor noon
Madam Speaker, public sector wage
Bill, I would like to talk about that. Between 2002 and 2008, the country spent an average of 65 per cent of its total tax revenue on wages. This ratio is expected to rise to 69.4 per cent this year. This leaves only 30 per cent of total tax revenue for all activities including the provision of other essential services. This trend is obviously unsustainable.
It is the Government's plan to review the use of payroll software and the process of adding and deleting the names of employees to and from the system. There is so much inefficiency in that. We are taking steps to deal with the management of payroll of all subvented agencies. The restructuring of subvented agencies will be stepped up. Those that are no longer relevant to the Govern-ment's objectives will be liquidated. Those that need to be commercialized will be dealt with in that manner. Focus on developing appropriate timing of wage negotiations between Government and employers' association and on how we set it -- Government has already initiated talks with labour.

We will take strong measures in pursuit of inefficiency, transparency and accountability in our public expenditure management. Beginning 2010, strategic planning and a medium-term planning will be fully institutionalized and MDAs will be required to prepare and submit their medium-term plans as supporting docu- ments for their annual budget submissions.

Very soon, we will announce a

comprehensive expenditure review and tracking survey aimed at enhancing the efficiency of public spending. If there are government programmes that do not work and for which we should spend less or stop altogether, we must confront the upward truth. The expenditure review and tracking survey will assist in identifying wasteful programmes and activities.

Meanwhile, Madam Speaker, the Public Expenditure Monitoring Unit and the Economic Policy Co-ordinating Committee within the Ministry of Finance will strengthen their oversight of public spending and co-ordinating functions in order to ensure compliance with Budget limits.

Now, on cash management. Madam Speaker, as part of our resolve to strengthen fiscal management, the Ministry of Finance, Bank of Ghana in conjunction with Controller and Accountant-General have initiated a process of re-instituting a treasury single account that was sometime ago initiated. The goal is to enhance prudent and efficient cash management and contribute to reducing domestic borrowing.

Statutory funds -- Some of the current rigidity in public expenditure management arise partly from the existence of a number of statutory funds, excluding wages and salaries. The total of these payments in the provisional outturn for 2008 was about 49
Madam Speaker, a brief discussion on fiscal risk of State-owned enterprises noon
The balance sheet of majority of the our State- owned enterprises is under serious financial distress. The State- owned enterprises in general, constitute the greatest fiscal risk to public finance of the country.
As the President indicated in his State of Nation Address two weeks ago, provisional data indicate that the Tema Oil Refinery is in debt to the tune of 1,146 million Ghana cedis -- [Some Hon Members: Oh, oh]. The Volta River Authority is in debt exceeding US$800 million. [Some Hon Members: Oh, chop chop.]
As directed by the President, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Energy will move speedily to ensure that the power sector financial restructuring and recovery study commissioned in May last year, is completed. The findings of the study will assist the development of a comprehensive financial recovery plan for the power utilities.
In addition, Madam Speaker, State-

owned enterprises that consistently run losses or accumulate excessive debt often end up being bailed out by Government because they represent a potential source of fiscal risk. We will intensify the oversight and regulatory role over these enterprises to ensure that the risks imposed are properly evaluated and mitigated.

Single fund to retire sovereign and jubilee bonds: In 2007, Madam Speaker, the Government of Ghana obtained and used 750 million dollars sovereign bonds from the international capital market. The bond is redeemable by a one-time payment in 2017. This is what we call bullet payment.

Now, let us talk about our revenue measures -- tax pol icy and tax administration of the new Administration. Madam Speaker, over the last decade, the country has moved to form revenue administration and tax policy with some success. We have created new structures and introduced new taxes but it is becoming clear that despite all the efforts, the tax system is becoming more complex. Moreover, our three tax agencies operate independently, share no activities and have very little exchange of information at the operational level.

The results are high compliance cost to the taxpayer, high administrative cost for Government and high opportunity for tax evasion. Government will shortly initiate measures to consolidate tax administration and institutions with a view to bringing them under one umbrella, under one chief executive officer of revenues. The current

fiscal challenges call on all of us to make difficult choices and to make contributions so that we tackle these challenges in the shortest possible time.

Now on user fees and charges -- Madam Speaker, Government provides a range of services for which the beneficiaries pay fees and charges. Many of these fees and charges have not been revised for a very long time.

Madam Speaker, we shall conduct a comprehensive review of all tax incentives and exemptions in the course of the year. We shall, subsequently, submit proposals to the House to amend the relevant laws as part of the review - [Hear! Hear!] We also want to revise the airport tax. The revenue is needed to support improvement in basic amenities which travellers demand and deserve to have.

Comfortable and secure resting places, better environment for those in transit and accessible and decent places of conve- nience are essential airport facilities, especially as Ghana seeks to become the hub of the sub-region.
Madam Speaker, a brief discussion on fiscal risk of State-owned enterprises noon

market, as well as a high market value.

On public security, the current security situation in Ghana, characterized by frequent occurrences of drug trafficking, highway and armed robberies and audacious burglaries are completely unacceptable. Law and order, human safety and protecting the people remain the cornerstone of our internal security policy. Government will improve the capacity of the security agencies to ensure personal safety and the security of our citizenry and we have made provision for this in our budget. It is the one most important thing for this country.

Our commitment to stamp out drug trafficking through and within the country remains firm. [Hear! Hear!] In line with this, Government will review the Narcotic Drugs Control and Sanctions Law of 1990, -- (PNDC Law 236). Government will create a more effective and efficient drug enforcement agency that will collaborate with international drug enforcement agencies, to arrest and prosecute offenders. The Budget has taken care of this.

Expenditure plans - how do we plan to spend public money in this Budget year? Madam Speaker, total revenue payments for 2009 will amount to GH¢9.8 billion, including statutory payments of GH¢3 billion. The total discretionary payments are projected at GH¢6.8 billion representing GH¢68.9 per cent of total budget for the year or 31.7 per cent of GDP. This amount reflects a reduction of 5.6 per cent of the provisional 2008 outturn.
Madam Speaker, in accordance with the NDC manifesto noon

Madam Speaker, we intend to establish a Member of Parliament Development Fund apart from the District Assemblies Common Fund, in order to reduce the tension that the previous situation created

as the President has already indicated.

Spending proposals -- The details of spending are in the full Budget Statement but please we have given you highlights in the small booklet, it will not take more than ten minutes to complete that. But please, permit me to highlight some of the key proposals that reflect the priorities of the NDC Government and which are also in line with the social democratic agenda.

Debt service payments which accounted for about 17 per cent of total Government payments in 2008, will reduce to 14.1 per cent in 2009. The savings will come from reduced borrowing and from an efficient management of the country's debt so that the servicing cost does not crowed out other critical expenditures.

Personal emoluments continue to dominate government discretionary spending. They will account for 38 per cent of the total discretionary payments for the year 2009 or 12 per cent of GDP. The inflexibility in the Budget has forced Government to make a number of adjustments to the investment Budget.

The investment budget by the Ministries other than Education, Health, Roads and Highways has been reduced by GH¢187.8 million.

Despite the adjustments, investment spending which equals 22.2 per cent of total payments in 2008 will rise to about 24.5 per cent, including provisions for outstanding commitments in 2009.

We have also eliminated subsidies to other State enterprises like Volta River Authority (VRA) and Bulk Oil Storage and Transport (BOST). This is expected to free some money for re-allocation. Arrears through payments will also be reduced by some GH¢53 million by securitisation arrears of social security payments.

The amount of GH¢1.7 billion has been allocated for infrastructural investment
Madam Speaker, in accordance with the NDC manifesto noon

and a further GH¢123.3 million has been provided to the Road Fund to support road construction. GH¢275.5 million has been allocated to the Education Fund to provide school infrastructural facilities.

In addition, GH¢533.5 million has been allocated for payment of outstanding commitments for completed infrastructural projects. An allocation of GH¢30 million has been allocated for rural communities and small towns. Another GH¢24.5 million has been allocated for waste management.

Now poverty reduction --To be poor is to be hungry, to lack shelter and clothing, to be sick and not to be cared for. So to be poor means you are depressed.

Madam Speaker, sustainable poverty reduction requires action on many fronts. Spending on poverty related activities from the Consolidated Fund is estimated at GH¢1.86 billion in 2009, representing 25 per cent of the projected total Government expenditure. The funds allocated are to support basic education, primary health care, poverty focused agriculture, provision of rural water, rural feeder roads and rural electrification.

An amount of GH¢19 million has been provided to support the consumption of electricity by poor households under electricity lifeline payments.

An additional GH¢35 million has also been provided for the safety net pro- grammes and the Self Help Electrification Programmes - [Hear! Hear!].

HIPC funds amounting to GH¢264.7 million in 2009, has been allocated as follows - [Interruptions.] GH¢52.9 million for servicing the domestic debt, 172.1 million for budget support and sector programme activities. GH¢26.5 million

Madam Speaker, Food and Agriculture -- I am talking about sectoral outlook and spending plans now. Government sees agriculture as Government's greatest strength and the most critical sector for the country's growth. Government will strongly support the production of oil palm, citrus fruits and rubber in the southern ecological zone. In the northern zone, the goal is to expand the cultivation of cashew, mango and cotton by at least 3000 hectres each.

A support for the cocoa sector will be no less than what it deserves. A support for agriculture is underlined by our need to strengthen food security to increase our emergency preparedness in the case of drought and bush fires, to increase employment opportunities and to increase the livelihood of the sixty or so per cent of our citizens who live in the rural areas.

Modernisation of agriculture -- Our programme for the agricultural sector as captured in the NDC manifesto is hinged on the modernization of the sector for increased levels of production and productivity.

We shall implement strategies under which structured power tillers and bullocks will replace the hoe and cutlass as the main implements of production --
Madam Speaker, in accordance with the NDC manifesto 1:05 p.m.

The project shall be used as an instrument for raising the output of rice for local consumption and for the export market. It will also be used for job creation, through support for small scale farmers who become out growers for the project.

Lands and Natural Resources -- Reafforestation will take a centre stage in President Mills' agenda. An amount of GH¢8 million has been allocated to tackle issues affecting forestry, wildlife and to deal with environmental issues in mining communities. Government will encourage individual entrepreneurs with soft loans to engage in planting of tree crops.

Water Resources

Water is life. Government believes that of the many drivers of human develop- ment, water is the most important. It is not surprising therefore that His Excellency the President sees the water sector as a priority area under his administration. Access to safe water will remain paramount to the NDC Government. In 2009, Government will review all water projects, especially those funded from external resources, to ensure their speedy completion.

For the medium-term, the goal is to

have at least 76 per cent of Ghanaians in
Madam Speaker, in accordance with the NDC manifesto 1:05 p.m.

the rural areas having access to potable water by 2013.

To improve rural water supply,

Government will undertake the following activities: sink 1,032 new boreholes, rehabilitate 225 boreholes, dig 25 hand- dug wells, rehabilitate 23 hand-dug wells, construct 47 small town pipe systems, construct 20 small communities pipe systems, and construct two rain catchment systems.

Government will expedite action on

the project to draw raw water from the Oti River at Damanko to supply potable water to 13 guinea-worm endemic communities from Damanko to Kpassa.

Urban Water Programme

To address the present water problems

in Accra and its environs, Ghana Water Company Limited will repair and install the defective pumps at the Weija Treatment Plant.

The additional plant will be to construct a new treatment plant at Akuse to improve upon the water supply situation in the eastern part of Accra whilst the Weija Treatment Plant will also be expanded further.

Water problems are not only confined

to Accra. Government will begin or rehabilitate the following water project, some of which have not been on the drawing board. In Ashanti, we have Agona, Konongo, Kumawu, New Edubiase, and the Kumasi Water Supply. -- [Interruptions.] Berekum in the Brong Ahafo-Breman Asikuma and Dunkwa-on- Offin in the Central Region; Akim Ofose, Asamakese, Akim Oda, and Suhum in the Eastern Region; Prestea, Bogoso, Elubo, Axim and Aboso in the Western Region, and Bawku and Navrongo in the Upper East Region. The expansion of Tema Metropolitan Area Water Supply will also be on.

In addition, Government will continue the rehabilitation and expansion of District Water Supply and Medium Capacity Treatment Plants at Swedru, Ekumfi, Ojobi, Dormaa Ahenkro, Techiman, Mampong, Berekum, Bibiani, Begoro, Sogakope-Keta, Obuasi, Sunyani and Juapong.

Government will continue the ex- pansion of water distribution networks and systems in Accra including relocation of the pipelines along the Tetteh Quarshie -- Mallam highway. Additionally, relocation of pipelines will be made in the following areas: Bortianor, Kokrobite, Amasaman, Santeo, Katamanso, Winneba, Sekondi, Takoradi, Amanfo-Tunko, Butumajabu, Apowa, Kumasi Rural, Offinso, Tafo, Nkawie, Pankrono, Sunyani Rural, Chiraa, Nsoatre, Koforidua Rural, Suhyem, Ho Rural, Tamale, Wa, Bolga-tanga, Dunkwa, Saltpond, Asikuma-Ajumako, Aflao, Peki, Bogoso, Abakrampa, Asankragua and Anfoega.

Further, Government will look for funds to support urban water supply systems in Techiman, Assin Fosu, Bolgatanga, Berekum, Sogakope, Aflao and Kibi.


Madam Speaker, sanitation is an inter- sectoral issue. Poor sanitation leads to diseases, particularly so, among the poor. Government sees waste management as a very urgent matter. Our immediate attention is to charge local authorities to enforce compliance with bye-laws on waste disposal. To signal Government's commitment GH¢21 million has been allocated for sanitation. These funds will be directed to tackling the problems of solid waste, land field sites and liquid waste management, especially in the urban communities.
Madam Speaker, in accordance with the NDC manifesto 1:05 p.m.

The appropriate agencies will be charged to accelerate the construction of a number of primary stalled waters, drainages and sanitation systems in all the regional capitals to improve urban sanitation.

Government will also review the over- all policy of sanitation management at the district level in order to come up with clear policies in dealing with what has become a public hazard. Government will promote waste management as a viable business and a source of employment. To this end, Government will collaborate with the private sector in tackling the challenges in waste management.


As part of the policy to support greater local content in construction, Government will promote the use of appropriate local building materials such as compressed earth bricks, micro-concrete roofing tiles, bamboo, clay bricks and tiles through technical skills training programme.

To meet our people's housing needs and open up employment opportunities for the youth, we will request the polytechnics and the universities to strengthen skills training in building technology with emphasis in the use of local materials.

Roads and Highways

On urban transportation, Government

will continue implementation of urban transport project by constructing the Bus Rapid Transit Route, regulate Urban Passenger Transport by the participating MMDAs of the project and designing new Traffic Lighting Systems.

Civil works contracts for 770 kilometres

of road projects will continue in 2009. This include works on AchimotaOfankor Road, AsankragwaEnchi Road, BamboiTinga Road, BerekumSampa Road, Kumasi Techiman Road, Tetteh Quarshie Madina Road, Tetteh Quarshie Mallam Road, Nsawam Bypass, Techiman Kintampo Road, Sogakope Adidome-Ho Road, Ho- Fume Road, Nsawkaw-Namasa Road, TainsoBadu Road, Sefwi Bekwai Eshiem- Asankragwa Road, Bomfa -- [Some Hon Members: Continue; Some other Hon Members:NPP!] [Inter-ruptions.] Energy. On Energy - It is good to continue.


Government wil l cont inue the

following ongoing electrification project: Grid extension to 130 communities, extension of national electricity grid to 200 communities, extension of power to 600 communities and the extension of electricity to 106 areas in Brong Ahafo and Ashanti.

In addition, Government will expedite

action on the Regional Capitals Street Lighting Projects. Education -- [Interruptions.] Energy? [Some Hon Members: Yes.] We have finished. [Interruptions.] -- Education.
Madam Speaker 1:05 p.m.
Dr. Duffuor 1:05 p.m.
On education, Govern-
ment is committed to improving the

incentive package and motivation for teachers -- [Hear! Hear!] -- Government will take steps to implement allowances for teachers as proposed in the NDC's manifesto for teachers. Of special concern is the allowance for teachers in rural and deprived areas as well as technical and vocational education teachers -- [Hear! Hear!]

Also, in line with the NDC's manifesto, Government will, from the coming academic year, provide three specific interventions intended to improve the access to quality education at the basic level. One -- [An Hon Member: School uniform] -- Government will provide school uniforms -- [Hear! Hear!] Government will provide school uniforms for about 1.6 million pupils in public schools in deprived communities throughout the community. The uniform will be standard type -- [Hear! Hear!]

The Current Capitation Grant will increase by 50 per cent from GH¢3 to


Exercise books will be provided for every pupil in all public primary schools free of charge -- [Hear! Hear!] The Ministry of Education will provide the details in due course.

Free uniforms _ A revival of domestic cotton production. The revival of the domestic cotton industry requires the injection of a financial stimulus. Therefore, it is the intention of the NDC Government to source materials from local textile factories which will provide a viable local market for cotton farmers.


Health services to poor people

are inadequate in the country. This is not because of lack of knowledge for preventing and treating ailments but because the system is trapped in a web of

inadequate funding and weak relationships of accountability. Malaria accounts for about 40 per cent of outpatient attendance and a leading cause of death, especially among children under five years of age and pregnant women.

As part of current strategy to control

and eradicate malaria, we will intensify education and increase the use of insecticide treated nets nationwide. To demonstrate the Government's commit-ment, we also plan to support the work being done at the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research in collaboration with a strategic investor under a Public-Private Partnership agreement to develop malaria capsules from local plant extracts.

National Health Insurance Scheme

The National Health Insurance Scheme

will be restructured to respond to the needs of the population and improve upon the issue of claims management. We will aim at reducing the waste and inefficiencies which currently exist -- [Interruptions] -- address the challenge of effective claims management and expand access for the poorest.

In addition, all District Mutual Health

Government will begin work on the

implementation of one-time payment of insurance premium. And in this regard actuarial analysis will start in earnest.

Promotion of Private Sector Growth

The NDC Government regards the

private sector as a strategic partner in the process of accelerating growth of the
Dr. Duffuor 1:05 p.m.
Government urges our research
institutions and think-tanks not to let the research on food security, food suffi- ciency, housing, water and sanitation remain on the shelves to gather dust. They must translate the results into practical terms and disseminate them to policy- makers for action. We must link our knowledge and ideas of these key drivers of human existence into our develop- mental agenda.
I wish to assure all Ghanaians that a year from now this country will be better than it is today. [Hear! Hear!] And lives will be better. The priority measures, strategies and programmes that we have outlined in this Budget are geared towards restoring security, discipline, opportunity, confidence and pride in the economic governance of our country. [Hear! Hear!]

Madam Speaker, as I end, I wish to inform the general public that the Budget Statement for 2009 is available on the Ministry's website, that is -- [Interrup- tions.] Madam Speaker, I said the public. Hon Members would have their copies very soon. They are all there. [Shows a copy of the Budget Statement.] That is it -- [Hear! Hear!] For the public it is www. Also, I wish to inform hon. Members of this august House that copies of the Budget Statement and highlights will be in your pigeon holes.
Madam Speaker 1:35 p.m.
Order! Order!
Thank you, Hon Minister. Hon Members, debate on the motion shall stand adjourned till Tuesday next in accordance with Standing Order 140 (3) and the Report of the Business Committee.
I also direct that part of the Budget
relating to ministries shall stand committed, respectively, to the committees responsible for the subject matter to which the heads of estimates relate for consideration and report in accordance with Order 140 (4).
Furthermore, any part of the Budget relating to revenue and expenditure shall stand committed to the Finance Com- mittee, in accordance with Order 140 (5).
Now, Hon Members, I think you have all seen an Addendum to the Order Paper of today. Let us move to item 1 on the Addendum to the Order Paper - Presentation and First Reading of Bills.

  • [Presented by the Minister for Finance. Read the First time; referred to the Finance Committee.]
  • Madam Speaker 1:35 p.m.
    Hon Members, furthermore the Committee is to determine whether the Bill is of an urgent nature to be taken through all the stages of passage in one day, in accordance with Order 119.
    We have item 1(b).
    The Debt Recovery (Tema Oil Refinery
    Company) Fund (Amendment) Bill, 2009
    An ACT to amend The Debt Recovery (Tema Oil Refinery Company) Fund, (Act 2003) as amended to revise debt recovery levy on petroleum products and to provide for related matters.
    Madam Speaker 1:35 p.m.
    Hon. Members, furthermore the Committee is to determine whether the Bill is of an urgent nature to be taken through all the stages of passage in one day, in accordance with Order 119.
    ANNOUNCEMENTS 1:35 p.m.




    OF GHANA 1:35 p.m.

    BAMFORD ADDO 1:35 p.m.


    PARLIAMENT HOUSE 1:35 p.m.


    OF GHANA 1:35 p.m.


    PARLIAMENT HOUSE, 1:35 p.m.

    Madam Speaker 1:35 p.m.
    That is the letter I am reading to you. [Interruptions.] Shall I finish reading the letter?
    That is the first one. There is a second one.
    “4th March, 2009



    OF GHANA 1:35 p.m.

    ADDO 1:35 p.m.



    PARLIAMENT HOUSE 1:35 p.m.

    NOMINATIONS FOR 1:35 p.m.


    MINISTERS 1:35 p.m.

    BAMFORD ADDO 1:35 p.m.



    PARLIAMENT HOUSE 1:35 p.m.



    OF GHANA 1:35 p.m.

    BAMFORD ADDO, 1:35 p.m.


    OFFICE OF THE SPEAKER, 1:35 p.m.

    PARLIAMENT HOUSE, 1:35 p.m.

    Madam Speaker 5:15 p.m.
    I think that is our expectation that things are done quickly and then we pass the Bill through all the stages.
    Thank you.
    The Sitting was suspended at 1.50 p.m.

    Sitting resumed.
    Mr. First Deputy Speaker 5:15 p.m.
    Hon Members, we move to item 2 on the Addendum Order Paper - Laying of Papers.
    PAPERS 5:15 p.m.

    MOTIONS 5:15 p.m.

    Minister for Finance (Dr. Kwabena Duffuor) 5:15 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, I beg to move, that notwithstanding 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 Second Reading of the Customs and Excise (Petroleum Taxes and Petroleum Related Levies) (Amendment) Bill, 2009 may be moved today.
    Chairman of the Committee (Mr. J. K. Avedzi) 5:15 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, I beg to second the motion.
    Question put and motion agreed to.
    Resolved accordingly.
    BILLS - SECOND READING 5:15 p.m.

    Minister for Finance (Dr. Kwabena Duffuor) 5:15 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, I beg to move, that the Customs and Excise (Petroleum Taxes and Petroleum Related Levies) (Amendment) Bill, 2009 be now read a Second time.
    Mr. First Deputy Speaker 5:15 p.m.
    Hon Minister for Finance, the Second Reading of the Bill is when we debate the principles. Do you have anything to add after moving the motion on the Order Paper?
    Dr. Duffuor 5:15 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, the object of this Bill is to reduce the price of petroleum products and alleviate the difficulties that our people have faced recently. This is
    Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 5:15 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, I thank you very much for the opportunity.
    First of all, regarding the referrals that
    have been made, you indicated to us that the referral of the estimates to the various Select Committees regarding the estimates as they relate to their sector Ministries. I just wanted to remind us that the Select Committees will not be dealing with the estimates relating to the sector Ministries alone, but they will be dealing as well with the estimates relating to departments and agencies.
    Also they do not relate only to the Select Committees, there are some Standing Committees that also have
    some referrals to them. And I thought that I should just make that small correction so that we take it on board. Because there are some Standing Committees that may have some referrals of those that relate to them. That is just the clarification that I wanted to make.
    Beyond that, Madam Speaker, we have
    listened to the estimates from the affable Hon Minister responsible for Finance. It is a Budget Statement that we have had from him. I am not too sure of the situation of the fiscal policy in the context of the economic policy because of the dislocation of the Ministry.
    But all said and done, Madam Speaker, we have listened and I believe that at the

    Chairman of the Committee (Mr. J. K. Avedzi) 5:15 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, I beg to present the Report of the Finance Committee on the Bill that was referred to the Committee earlier in the day.
    1.0 Introduction
    The Customs and Excise (Petroleum Taxes and Petroleum Related Levies) (Amendment) Bill, 2009 was presented and read the First time in the House on Thursday, 5th March, 2009 and referred to the Finance Committee for consideration and report.
    This followed the presentation of the Financial Policy of the Government of Ghana for the year ending 31st December, 2009 by the Minister for Finance, Hon Dr. Kwabena Duffuor.
    The Committee met and considered the Bill with the Minister for Finance, Hon Dr. Kwabena Duffuor, Minister for Energy, Hon Dr. Oteng Adjei and officials from the Ministries of Finance and Energy as well as the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) and hereby presents this Report.
    2.0 Background
    Hon Members would recall that in the presentation of the Financial Policy of the Government of Ghana for the year ending 31st December, 2009, the Minister
    Chairman of the Committee (Mr. J. K. Avedzi) 5:15 p.m.
    Gas Oil 6.2000 GHp/litre 1.8000 GHp/litre
    Residual Fuel Oil 5.2094 GHp/litre 3.2094 GHp/litre
    Kerosene 4.5375 GHp/litre 1.0375 GHp/litre
    Premix Fuel 0.0000 GHp/litre 0.0000 GHp/litre
    Marine Gas Oil (Local) 3.9945 GHp/litre 0.2945 GHp/litre
    Liquefied Petroleum 7.2246 GHp/litre 0.7246 GHp/litre Gas (LPG)
    Unified Gasoline 7.1820 GHp/litre 2.7800 GHp/litre
    Clause 2 seeks to delete the Fourth Schedule of Act 685, thus abolishing the Social Impact Mitigating Levy (SIML).
    5.0 Observations
    for Finance, Hon Dr. Kwabena Duffuor informed the House of Government's decision to reduce petroleum taxes and petroleum related levies in a bid to reduce poverty in the country.
    This Bill is introduced to give effect to that measure.
    3.0 Reference Documents
    In considering the Bill, the Committee referred to the following documents:
    a. 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana
    b. Standing Orders of the House
    c. Customs and Excise (Petroleum Taxes and Other Petroleum Related Levies) Act, 2005 (Act
    d. Customs and Excise (Petroleum Taxes and Other Petroleum Related Levies) (Amendment) Act, 2008 (Act 756)
    4.0 Contents of the Bill
    The Bill contains a total of two (2) clauses.
    Clause 1 substitutes the First Schedule of Act 685 with a new one to reduce the specific excise duty imposed on petroleum products as follows:
    Petroleum Products Specific Excise S p e c i f i c Excise
    Duty (Current) D u t y (Proposed)
    Premium Petrol 7.1800 GHp/litre 2.7800 GHp/
    The Committee observed that the Bill is aimed at reducing taxes on petroleum products to make them affordable to the public.
    The Committee further observed that the Social Impact Mitigating Levy contained in the Fourth Schedule of Act 685 is abolished by the Bill.
    The Committee was informed that the tax reduction measures contained in the Bill would result in a revenue loss of about GH¢5 million per month. Thus, for the remaining ten months of the year, it would cost a total of approximately GH¢50 million.
    The Finance Minister explained that the loss would be taken care of by cost- cutting measures.
    The Committee unanimously agreed that the Bill is of urgent nature and therefore should be taken under “a certificate of urgency”.
    Amendment Proposed
    The Committee respectfully recom- mends the following amendment to the Bill:
    Add a new clause to the Bill as follows:
    “3. The Customs and Excise (Petroleum Taxes and Petroleum Related Levies) (Amendment) Act, 2008 (Act 756) is hereby repealed.”
    6.0 Conclusion
    The Committee recommends to the House to adopt this Report and pass the Customs and Excise (Petroleum Taxes and

    Petroleum Related Levies) (Amendment) Bill, 2009.

    Respectfully submitted.
    Dr. A. A. Osei (NPP - Old Tafo) 5:25 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, thank you for allowing me to contribute to the motion on the floor.
    The Committee, as the Hon Chairman just read, met with the Ministers for Finance and Energy and from the sweat they were going through in the room, the Committee had to seriously look at the urgent nature of their request.
    Mr. Speaker, all of us are aware that the current Government has promised, in its manifesto, to seek a way to reduce the price of petroleum products. [Inter- ruptions.] I am told by some of my Hon Colleagues that there will be significant reductions to around twenty thousand, old Ghana cedis per gallon -- [Inter-ruptions] -- One of the new converts to the current Government, Mr. Kofi Wayo -
    Mr. E. T. Mensah 5:25 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, my Hon good Friend, is misleading this House.
    In 2000 they promised to reduce petroleum to six thousand four hundred at that time. They came to power and rather shot it up, so we have done very well by reducing petroleum products based on the promise that we made.
    Mr. First Deputy Speaker 5:25 p.m.
    Hon Ranking Member, continue.
    Bonsu — rose
    Mr. First Deputy Speaker 5:25 p.m.
    Hon Minority Leader, do you have a point of order?
    Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 5:25 p.m.
    On a point of order. Mr. Speaker, I think we should be very serious with ourselves. The Budget Estimates and the Statement on the Economic Policy before us are serious documents. And when we come to debating them, we should show that seriousness.
    I believe ever since we started the State of the Nation Address by His Excellency President John Evans Atta Mills to now, we thought that even those of us, new Members who did not know or who do not know the rules of procedure in this House, by now, would have got the rudiments.
    These kinds of interventions, with respect, have the tendency of throwing the House out of shape. And with respect, can you appeal that we straighten our affairs by sticking to the normalcy. Otherwise, something that we should attach seriousness to, if we are not careful we derail it and I do not think that is the way to go, with respect.
    Dr. Osei 5:25 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, with your indulgence, I know that my Hon Colleagues have spent a long time, the whole day we were trying to consider this Bill, so I would crave your indulgence that we keep to the matter at heart so that we can proceed and move quickly.
    Recently, a new convert to the NDC, Mr. Kofi Wayo -- [Interruptions] -- my Hon Senior Colleagues, even reported that if he were the Minister for Energy, he would reduce it to about 1.7. I know he is off target and I am glad that the Ministers for Finance and Energy did not pay attention to him because he would have been misleading them.
    Alhaji Sumani Abukari 5:25 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, thank you very much. I thought that the Hon Minority Leader had raised a very important issue concerning the way we should go about our debates in this House. But the Hon Ranking Member is just going
    the same way.
    What has the Budget of the Govern- ment presented by the Hon Finance Minister got to do with radio talks of Kofi Wayo? How does it come to that? Let us be serious and concentrate on the Budget Statement. Do not let us bring out what everybody is saying in the country. It is just the same thing he is doing. So I think he should be called to order.
    Dr. Osei 5:25 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, with all due respect to my senior Colleague, the motion on the floor is not about the Budget Statement. He is misleading this House and he should withdraw.
    Mr. First Deputy Speaker 5:25 p.m.
    Hon Member for Old Tafo, you have the floor. Kindly continue.
    Dr. Osei 5:25 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, the motion on the floor is not about the Budget Statement. It is about the Second Reading that the Minister for Finance wants to remove some taxes, that is what we are talking about. My statement was that I am glad that the Ministers for Energy and Finance did not heed to that advice. That advice was very bad. They did the proper thing by bringing this motion before us, so I am commending them for that.
    It was the Committee's considered judgement that these proposed reductions were in the right direction. The Hon Chairman has read the Report and the actual reductions. The Hon Minister for Finance was asked what we think the revenue loss will be, and at that time, he gave us a figure of about five million Ghana cedis a month. It is my considered judgement that that amount may be larger and that we should give him time to look for more information and maybe come back and give us a more accurate figure. I suspect it is a bit higher than that.
    Nevertheless, fifty million Ghana cedis per year is a very significant loss compared
    to the proposed impact that is likely to come when we approve this motion and the NPA begins to act.
    Mr. Speaker, people have been trying to do calculations as to the true impacts of these proposed reductions on the ex- pump price. I am not good like my Hon Minister for Energy is in engineering, so I do not know the exact impact. But one of my Hon Colleagues has informed me that for example, on premium, we could be looking at a maximum of about twenty Ghana pesewas per gallon.
    If you are looking at the revenue loss of fifty million a year and the fact that those revenues usually are used to fund road fund activities -- The removal of the social impact mitigating levy was used to do a lot of things, including subsidizing school feeding, subsidizing capitation grant, metro mass, rural electrification, so you can imagine that such a loss is going to have a serious impact on these social democratic principles that our Colleagues intend to proffer.
    In spite of that we believe that in fairness to the current Government in fulfilment of their promise, Members of this side of the House unanimously agree that they go along with these reductions so that the campaign promise will be fulfilled. But we want to caution that it is not enough, as the Hon Minister said during his statement that we need to work together to see how the gaps can be filled. When we start losing these huge amounts of revenue this early, and later on we will be looking at the other savings -- But fifty million out of the revenue that we are facing, is huge. We will advise that as he said, we will be expecting him to come back with the other areas that he expects to make up for the losses.
    With these few words, I want to urge
    Dr. Osei 5:25 p.m.

    the entire House, not to debate this much further, but to help the Minister for Finance to achieve his goals and objectives.
    Minister for Communications (Mr. Haruna Iddrisu) 5:35 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to speak to the motion that this House adopts this Report, and pass the Customs, Excise (Petroleum Taxes and Petroleum Related Levies) (Amend-ment) Bill, 2009.
    In doing so, Mr. Speaker, I want to urge Hon Members to support this motion, and to vote for it.
    Mr. Speaker, there is always an opportunity cost to every economic decision. The President entered into a social contract with the people of Ghana, and it was his determination to lower the prices of petroleum products by much lower levels if the economic circumstances could tolerate it. [Uproar.] However, Mr. Speaker, the economic exigencies of the time does allow him to make this reduction, via Parliament approving of this.

    We have heard some debates that, why would this matter be brought to Parliament? It is only Parliament which has the authority and mandate to vary such levies or such taxes that are imposed. But if you do a calculation based on five to ten per cent we may as well be talking, whether better arithmetic or not, 40 pesewas per gallon in terms of premium, and you may have some deduction -- [Uproar] -- That is why I said the margin of reduction is between 5 and 10 per cent. You can decide to conveniently remain at the low threshold of 5 per cent, but if you went towards 10 per cent, you will see that --
    Mr. I.K. Asiamah 5:35 p.m.
    On a point of order. Mr. Speaker, I think my Hon Colleague is misleading the House.
    Mr. Speaker, if we say that we should keep faith with Ghanaians so that they can have the trust and confidence, it does not mean we should keep bad faith when it will damage the economy. That is not the essence of it. [Uproar..] -- So we must keep good faith that will better the lot of Ghanaians and that will improve upon the economy.
    What we are saying here is that, this is rather going to affect the economy, affect other social interventions as the Hon Ranking Member said. It would affect other social interventions which may affect the poor and the vulnerable that they came to support. So where are we heading towards? The poor and vulnerable will be affected by this policy.
    Mr. H. Iddrisu 5:35 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, may I refer you to page three of your Committee's Report, and in particular, paragraph 5.0 under “Observation”, and to assure my Hon Colleague that the Hon Minister for Finance is making another pledge, an honourable one, that through other cost- cutting measures the so-called GH¢50 million lost, which may be occasioned as a result of this reduction, will be taken care of. I think that it is appropriate that we recognize that.
    Mr. Speaker, what is in fact exciting
    Dr. Kojo Appiah-Kubi 5:35 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, I rise on order 91.
    Mr. First Deputy Speaker 5:35 p.m.
    I am taking a cue from what the Hon Minority Leader had said.
    Dr. Appiah-Kubi 5:35 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, I will do so. Mr. Speaker, our Hon Friend is misleading the House. He has been using the word, “if” and “if” and “if”. But in any case, if the world were to be so good there would not be any need for even the Government to intervene in the market. We need the Government, and we need Government policy because there is a dichotomy; there is a discrepancy between what is prevailing and the idea. And the ideal is if all things were to be equal, if all things were to be good.
    All things are not good that is why we expect the Government to give us policies which will bring us a bit closer to the ideal. So if he tells us, if, if, if, if -- If the international market were to be good, if world market prices were to be good, will there be the need for Government intervention?
    Mr. First Deputy Speaker 5:35 p.m.
    Hon Minister for Communications, continue.
    Mr. H. Iddrisu 5:35 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, may
    Mr. First Deputy Speaker 5:35 p.m.
    Hon Kan-Dapaah, after that I will take one, one from both sides. You know, listening to the Ranking Member's comments that we should cut the debate. And I will take Hon Kan-Dapaah, I will take one from here, and I will call on the Leadership, that is if they have anything to say, they say it, then the Hon Minister would wind up.
    Mr. Albert Kan-Dapaah (NPP -- Afigya Sekyere West) 5:35 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, I suppose it is no coincidence that the Hon Minister for Energy it was, who taught me to try to reduce very complex things into very simple figures before one can have a better understanding of them. The Hon Minister used to be my teacher when I was the Director of Finance at Electricity Corporation of Ghana (ECG), and he subsequently became my advisor when I was the Minister for Energy. He taught me a lot, and I have done just what he would have wished me to do.
    Mr. Speaker, in simple terms, the favour we have received from the Hon Minister for Finance today is that: premium will no longer be 82 pesewas per litre, it will be 78 pesewas; kerosene will no longer be 70, but 66.5; gas oil will no longer be 89 pesewas, but 85, and so on and so forth.
    Mr. Speaker, let me say one thing that I am sure my teacher would admit. Petroleum products price reduction is not just fiddling with figures; it is altering figures - [Interruption] - Please, it is altering figures such that the resultant figures can benefit the ordinary man in the street. [Uproar.] Mr. Speaker, the question the Hon Finance Minister should ask himself is, does he -- [Interruption] -- No, my teacher is the Minister for
    Mr. J. Yieleh Chireh 5:35 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, I am rising on a point of order. We are debating a motion on the floor, and my Hon Colleague opposite is asking a question. This is not Question time - [Laughter.]
    Mr. Kan-Dapaah 5:45 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, the question I will want Ghanaians ask of the Minister for Finance, is what he has done with these figures, will it lead to a decrease in transport fares in Kumawu? I want him to answer.
    Mr. Speaker, I want to find out from him whether plantain from Kumawu to Accra there will be a reduction in the market price. [Uproar.] Mr. Speaker, I want to ask my boss whether what he has done will lead to a decrease in cost of production of any company in Ghana. Mr. Speaker, petroleum price reduction must be vicious or it is useless; and what he has done is totally useless in the sense that it will not have any effect on the standard of living, on the cost of living of any Ghanaian. [Interruption.]
    Nii Amasah Namoale: Mr. Speaker, my Hon Colleague should know that Prof. John Evans Atta Mills in his campaign did not promise to reduce the lorry fares. He promised to reduce petroleum products, he promised to reduce fuel prices, he did not promise to reduce lorry fares and transport fares.
    Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
    Mr. Kan-Dapaah 5:45 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, if something is not useful then it is useless, but if the Hon Minister will find that offensive, I will gladly withdraw that and say that it would not be effective. [Interruption.] All right, I do that with respect to the Minister.
    Mr. John T. Akologu 5:45 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, thank you very much. I stood up to really ask that Hon Kan-Dapaah be made to withdraw the - [Interruptions.] Please, do not always put words or thoughts in my mind; listen to me. Mr. Speaker, I am on my feet and my intention was that I was going to ask Hon Kan-Dapaah to withdraw the word “useless” but just before you called me, he substituted that word for another one; so I rest my case.
    Mr. First Deputy Speaker 5:45 p.m.
    Member, I think you have used some word that the Deputy Majority Leader is taking objection to. What do you have to say?
    Mr. Kan-Dapaah 5:45 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, I said that I was quoting a teacher but if the word “useless” is strong I will withdraw it and replace it with the word “ineffective” because the teacher is here. That was what he taught me. [Uproar.]
    Mr. First Deputy Speaker 5:45 p.m.
    Hon Member, do not tempt me to ask your
    teacher whether you had taken your lessons seriously when he was teaching you.
    Mr. Kan-Dapaah 5:45 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, my teacher sincerely taught me but it was with effect to electricity pricing. And he used to come to the office and say listen, what we are doing is this and I say it with all seriousness. I believe that if we are going to have any reduction, because Mr. Speaker, GH¢5 million a month, GH¢50 million for one year is significant enough to be used for something important within the economy. You have done this, we have reduced this and yet it is not going to have any impact.
    Mr. Speaker, let me say that I withdraw that word with apologies. I will never try to be insulting, I withdraw with apologies if the word is too harsh and I say that with all sincerity.
    Mr. Speaker, the Hon Minister for Communications talked about opportunity costs. There is an opportunity cost to every economic decision. In this case, the loss of GH¢50 million enye sika ketewa. And yet the so-called benefit to the ordinary man we would not see it.

    Maj. (Dr.) Alhaji M. Ahmed (retd): Mr. Speaker, I have a point of order. The Hon Colleague, who as a student believed in the word “affordability” seems to have forgotten the lessons that his teacher taught him, that when he reduced prices to a lower level, those prices are more affordable to the people who are going to spend than the older and higher prices. And therefore his submission that the reduction is insignificant is out of order.
    Mr. Kan-Dapaah 5:45 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, I have never refused to take any advice from my
    Hon Colleague, especially when it is to do with medicine. On this occasion, I would not take it because he is totally out of place.
    Mr. J. K. Avedzi 5:45 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, I think my Hon Colleague is completely misleading the House. If he says that the reduction will not have any impact on the consumer, it is not true. He himself used to fill his tank and he used to pay about ¢800,000 worth of diesel to fill his tank. If he goes now to fill his tank he will not spend ¢800,000. So will it not have an effect on him? He will be paying around ¢650,000, so it will have an effect on him. That money he will give it to his constituents. So he is deceiving the House.
    Mr. Kan-Dapaah 5:45 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, so I think it is good this debate took place. The Chairman of the Committee is telling us that the reduction is meant much for the car owner - [Interruptions.]
    Mr. Avedzi 5:45 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, it is the car owner who goes to the fuel station
    Mr. Kan-Dapaah 5:55 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, as you are aware, I have gone through all this before and the difference between the private car owner and the trotro owner is that the private car owner goes to fill his tank but the trotro driver goes to buy one gallon, two gallons - [Interruption.]
    Mr. Speaker, I think I have no difficulty voting for the proposals that have been made but I want the Minister for Finance to take note that the communication that he has made to us and to Ghanaians is that petroleum product prices have been reduced in a manner that is going to affect trotro prices, transport fares, food prices and what nots and that we will hold him to that, we will call him if things do not go that way.
    Subject to that Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate the Minister for Finance and the Minister for Energy for the reduction, although they did not end up being a drastic reduction as promised. We want to thank them for the reduction and also for what they have implied on this floor that it is significant; it is not like what I am saying, it is significant and that sooner or later Ghanaians are going to see the impact in the form of reduced transport fares, reduced food prices, reduced production costs -
    Alhaji A. B. Sorogho 5:55 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, thank you very much for the opportunity.
    Mr. Speaker, I am happy that Hon Kan- Dapaah, who was the proponent of “affordability” and who fought very hard that even a pesewa from any price will help the ordinary man is today telling all Ghanaians that it is not necessary to reduce - [Interruption] - Yes, it is not necessary so long as it does not get to a certain quantum. Mr. Speaker, I am shocked because he is seriously contradicting himself. Mr. Speaker, he contradicts himself by saying that, in the first place, fifteen million Ghana cedis is going to be lost as revenue. This amount is the aggregation of all the various - [Interruption.]
    Mr. First Deputy Speaker 5:55 p.m.
    What is your order? What order has the Hon Member breached?
    Alhaji Sorogho 5:55 p.m.
    I am saying that he is misleading the House grossly and that is Order 91 - [Uproar] -- I am saying that he started by saying that the fifty million cedis is so big that the Government must be very careful because it is going to affect something. Then he comes back to say that it is not going to help because the amount is so small. Mr. Speaker, how can we reconcile the two? How can you, he himself is not - [Interruption] - I think when his teacher was teaching him, he was not paying attention.
    Mr. First Deputy Speaker 5:55 p.m.
    Hon Kan- Dapaah, I think you should be winding up now.
    Mr. Kan-Dapaah 5:55 p.m.
    Thank you Mr. Speaker, I will be winding up. Mr. Speaker, the Hon Member is my good Friend and I can only say that one does not have to be an Achirensua Secondary School scholar to appreciate that the logic in what he is saying is contradictory. [Interruption.]
    Mr. Speaker, I believe I have given
    enough concern, I want to repeat that when it comes to utility pricing, deductions have to be vicious or they are ineffective. I believe that the figures that we have will not make any difference on the cost of living to the average Ghanaian. It will not make any impact on the standard of living of the average Ghanaian.
    And I hope that the Hon Ministers will go home, revise their figures and probably come back to this House so that we can help them, with the Chairman of the Committee - we will be able to help them and also the Ranking Member and the Hon Minister for Communications - we would be able to help them to go and revise these figures.
    For now, we can only say that we appreciate the difficulty in which they find themselves - [Interruption] - making promises they know they cannot fulfil.
    Mr. I. A. B. Fuseini (NDC - Tamale Central) 5:55 p.m.
    Thank you Mr. Speaker, for giving me the opportunity to contribute to the debate and to invite Hon Members of this House to vote for the Bill before us.
    Mr. Speaker, when the Hon Minister for Finance told us that he was going to consider introducing to this House a Bill to reduce taxes on petroleum products, I was wondering what was the rationale, because many people have said that by virtue of the credit crunch it is important to continue to maintain taxes at the level they are, in order to rake in the needed revenue to propel the development of this country.
    So I was wondering whether as a
    Government, we should not take the opportunity of the events that have presented themselves now to continue to visit that level of hardship on Ghanaians because I know Ghanaians are very
    understanding, and to continue to rake in the needed revenue.
    But reading the memorandum, I quite understand why it has become very, very necessary to reduce taxes on fuel. Mr. Speaker, the memorandum says that the motive for reducing the taxes is to alleviate the hardships that the people have faced in recent times.
    Clearly, Mr. Speaker, it is quite unacceptable to continue to visit on the people of the Republic of Ghana that level of hardship that they went through in recent times. And if an opportunity presents itself for anybody or any Government to ameliorate that level of hardship then the opportunity ought to be taken to implement measures directed at that objective.
    Mr. Speaker, it is important again to recall, that just a few months ago, it was almost an acceptable fact that the level of taxes that were imposed on petroleum products could not be reduced any further. In fact, what has happened today is a demonstration of the fact that there was enough room for reduction - [Hear! Hear!] - Mr. Speaker, a demonstration of this fact would clearly inure to the benefit of the ordinary Ghanaian.
    Mrs. Gifty E. Kusi 5:55 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. My Hon Colleague is misleading this House by saying - [Interruption] - Mr. Speaker, he said that there was enough room for reduction. Mr. Speaker, by saying that, it means that the reduction is significant and I want to tell him that from 82 pesewas to 78 pesewas per litre is insignificant. He is misleading this House - [Interruption] - He must check his facts, there was not enough room for reduction; it is insignificant, Mr. Speaker.
    Mr. Fuseini 6:05 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, indeed, one
    Mr. P. W. Pepera 6:05 p.m.
    On a point of order. Mr. Speaker, I believe the Hon Member is misleading the House. He is repeating this issue which I think has been dealt with, that the general public does not buy petrol and diesel. If you count the number of people in this country who own vehicles such as, let us say, Hon Members of Parliament, it would benefit Hon Members of Parliament; but when we talk of the public, we are talking about
    people who take taxis and tro-tros and the transport owners and drivers have said in advance, that they are not going to reduce the transport fares, especially if it is infinitesimal and insignificant.
    If it were drastic like what I heard,
    which was used to win an election, then maybe, they would reduce. But unless we are talking about, at least, 15 to 20 per cent reduction of fuel, there would be absolutely no reduction in transport prices.
    Mr. Fuseini 6:05 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, indeed, I think that the Hon Member who just spoke has no copy of the Report. I am not saying that I have said. I am saying that the Report says - Your Committee's Report says that the reduction will make petroleum products affordable to the public. It is in the Report, I have not said it.
    Mr. Speaker, I was just throwing a
    word of caution. I understand even with the present level, petroleum prices in Ghana are quite cheaper in comparison to the neighbouring countries. That might encourage the smuggling of petroleum products to the neighbouring countries and deprive the Ghanaian public the benefit of this reduction.
    Mr. Speaker, I am urging the Hon Minister for Finance, the Hon Minister for Energy and the Hon Minister for the Interior to put in mechanisms to ensure that the benefit of this reduction inures to the Ghanaian public and not some people elsewhere in other countries.
    Minority Leader (Mr. Osei Kyei- Mensah-Bonsu) 6:05 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, first of all, by way of a response, the Observations of the Committee -
    “The Committee observes that the Bill is aimed at reducing taxes on petroleum products to make them affordable to the public.”
    Mr. Speaker, I believe that there is a
    world of difference in this construction -what is here. Stating categorically that the Committee observes that the Bill reduces taxes and makes them affordable to the public, there is a world of difference between the two constructions and I believe my Hon Colleague who just spoke understands that.
    To go on, Mr. Speaker, while associa- ting myself with the sentiments expressed, I think I have some fundamental difficulties with this Bill.
    The Hon Minister responsible for Finance, if you like, the Hon Minister for Finance, was introduced to this House, he was named, he was nominated by His Excellency the President as the Hon Minister for Finance. Today, we have Budget Statement and Economic Policy of Government for the 2009 Financial Year presented to Parliament by the Minister for Finance and Economic Planning.
    Mr. First Deputy Speaker 6:05 p.m.
    Hon Minority Leader, I do not want to cut in, but the debate on the document you are holding will commence on Tuesday. I agree, but the motion advertised says “Finance”, I will plead that given the time, when we get to debate the main document where they added “Economic Planning”
    then that point can be raised. But for now, it is “Finance” which is on the Order Paper.
    Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 6:15 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, I take a cue from what he has said. But he does know as a seasoned Hon Member of this House, that this Bill is consequential to the Budget Statement that we have before us and the Hon Minister, in winding up, made a fervent appeal to this House that consequential to the document that he has presented to this House, is the Bill that he was going to introduce into this House.
    Mr. Speaker, if I seek this clarification I
    am within my limits and I believe that we must take due cognisance of this.

    Mr. Speaker, the memorandum to this Bill captures the presentor, the person piloting this Bill as Minister for Finance and Economic Planning. So what are we talking about? Mr. Speaker, with respect what are we talking about? But to go on - so it is a fundamental matter that we must advert our minds to.

    Mr. Speaker, Order 116 of our rules and procedure is very clear on the format of a Bill and with your indulgence I would want to read:

    “Every Bill shall be accompanied by an explanatory memorandum setting out in detail the policy and principles of the Bill, the defects of the existing law, if any, the remedies proposed to deal with those defects and the necessity for its introduction

    . . .”

    Mr. Speaker, I have looked through the memorandum to this Bill and clearly the statement there is a declaration of intent, not a policy or any principle supporting any policy. Indeed, it is a mere political platform talk, and that is very sad.
    Mr. J. K. Avedzi 6:15 p.m.
    On a point of order. Mr. Speaker, I have been listening to the Minority Leader and he is alluding to the fact that the memorandum to the Bill has not been signed. I have never seen any
    Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 6:15 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, I quoted Order 116, if my Hon Colleague understands that, and if he is saying what I have read is wrong let him tell me that. Short of that he is completely out of order. Mr. Speaker, what is this? [Interruptions.]
    Mr. First Deputy Speaker 6:15 p.m.
    Minority Leader, I think the point being raised by the Chairman is whether in actual fact we sign the Bills. [Inte-rruptions.] So if we do sign as a senior Member of this House you just tell him that we do sign, then you proceed. That is all.
    Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 6:15 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, with respect I thought you were going to resist the temptation of descending into the arena of debate. Indeed, I guess you have been found wanting, but I know you are capable of rising up and so I will not proceed further on that track.
    Mr. Speaker, clearly, there are glaring inefficiencies in the Bill. The fact that the effect is not going to be significant has also been argued. But I think that as somebody has said, in the absence of nothing, bad is good and so in the absence of no reduction at all I think the country can make do with this. Perhaps, it may be a beginning so we would watch and see.
    Mr. Speaker, notwithstanding these glaring inefficiencies I will still associate myself with Hon Colleagues who have
    argued that we give the Bill a smooth passage to let the NDC move towards their policies and programmes.

    That complete cost-cutting measures that would directly address this. [Interruptions.] Mr. Speaker, with respect, I do not want to believe that given the effort that Parliament is putting into this and the effort that we will put into passing the Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the Government, that considerations of cost-cutting may negatively affect Members of Parliament in the face of all the good things that they would be doing for Government and for the country.
    Mr. First Deputy Speaker 6:25 p.m.
    I hope the Hon Minister for Finance would take note of the concluding part of your submission.
    Mr. John T. Akologu 6:25 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, as the Hon Minority Leader was speaking I was listening attentively and I indeed did not intend to respond to him because I thought he was harmless. But he has made very serious statements and allusions that we must correct in this House. Indeed, the Chairman of the Committee on Finance
    drew his attention that he has been a member of the Committee on Finance, he has gone through the work of the Committee on Finance, he has never and he does not remember most of these things - [Interruptions.] Please, when he was talking I did not interrupt him.
    Dr. Osei 6:25 p.m.
    On a point of order Mr. Speaker, with all due respect to my senior Colleague, the fact that the Hon Member had been a member of the Finance Committee does not make him an authority on whether or not a memorandum has been signed. I can say on authority that Hon Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu signed all his memoranda. So he should not say that because he is a member of the Committee -- it is just a simple oversight; we need to admit it and move on.
    Mr. Akologu 6:25 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, I think if Hon Colleagues would be patient and listen they will - [Interruptions.] Mr. Speaker, simply put, I am holding in my hand the Financial Services Bill dated 29th October, 2008; the memorandum to it bears the name of the author as Hon Dr. A. Akoto Osei, Minister of State, Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning; it is not signed. [Interruptions.] Mr. Speaker, it is a memorandum; whether it is to a report or to whatever, it is a memorandum to the Bill and the Minority Leader referred to this Bill and then read the memorandum and I am doing the same thing.
    Dr. Osei 6:25 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, he is reading from something printed by the Government Printer which was not what was brought to Parliament. The two are not the same. In any case, he is talking about Order 116 and he is a senior Member of this House. The point simply is that there is a requirement by our own Standing Orders and as a senior Member we expect that he would teach us as to how to comply with the Standing Orders. It is a simple
    Mr. Akologu 6:25 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, I have no quarrel with what my Hon Colleague has said, but I do know that the Government Printer, if he was given a document that was signed and he was going to print it and reproduce it, it would bear the signature. [Interruptions.] Yes, it would bear, it must bear, and the practice has not been so. That is what the Chairman of the Committee was referring to. In any case, Mr. Speaker --
    Papa Owusu-Ankomah 6:25 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, indeed, we are in this House to learn from each other. What the Hon Deputy Majority Leader is saying is completely misleading. He may not know it. Every Bill to Parliament is signed in its original and sent to the Government Printer to print. If he does not know it then he should not state otherwise. Mr. Speaker, I am speaking on authority from both within and without Parliament. [Hear! Hear!]
    Mr. First Deputy Speaker 6:25 p.m.
    Member for Sekondi, I know you are speaking on authority as the former Attorney-General of this country. But the one that comes to this House, from the Government Printer, is it signed?
    Papa Owusu-Ankomah 6:25 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, that is different. We know that in the case of Financial Bills, sometimes they are not even printed by the Government Printer; they are printed from the Ministry of Finance because of the urgent nature. So if you are unable to sign it, fine, it is an oversight and rectify it at a later date. But he as Deputy Majority Leader thereby pro tem Leader of the House to completely mislead this House and the country, is most unfortunate.
    Mr. First Deputy Speaker 6:25 p.m.
    Deputy Majority Leader, you have the
    Mr. Akologu 6:25 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, I do not think and I have not done anything to mislead the House. Whether this thing was printed by the Government Printer or not it is a Bill that was brought here and given to us as Members to work with and I am saying that at the time of considering this thing, anyone of us could have then used it and said that the Minister did not sign. It is the same thing. Assuming this thing had come, it is a Bill, it is not yet an Act.
    Mr. First Deputy Speaker 6:25 p.m.
    Hon Member, let us listen to him, I would give you the chance. Let us listen to the Hon Deputy Majority Leader.
    Mr. Akologu 6:25 p.m.
    If you live in a glass house, you do not throw stones.
    Mr. Speaker, the other point I would want to comment on - [interruption] --
    Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 6:25 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, if a man does not know something, or maybe an oversight has been committed and you own up to it, I have said that in spite of these things, we could go on. But for him to end by saying that if you live in a glass house, you do not throw stones, is most unfortunate.
    I am surprised that as a fifth timer in this House he allowed himself to be taught by a second timer. I thought that he should know this. Mr. Speaker, I quoted
    from Order 116. What is there that I have infringed? And in any event Mr. Speaker, if a Bill is made, it is authenticated before it is sent to the Government Printer; Mr. Speaker that one is with Financial Bills; they come authenticated.
    So I am saying that this is an oversight; we can live with it. But for him to get up here and try to justify the unthinkable, I believe he is completely out of place. The thing is, if an error has been committed, let us accept it and move on. But this kind of thing Mr. Speaker, is unacceptable.
    Mr. First Deputy Speaker 6:25 p.m.
    Hon Deputy Majority Leader, proceed. [Interruptions.] Order! Order!
    Mr. Akologu 6:25 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, I did not know that in this House when a Member has made a point and a Leader gets up to defend that point, it means that he is being taught by the Member behind. The Hon Member has made a point and then I was only buttressing it; I do not consider that as being taught by anybody. I was just buttressing his point.
    Mr. First Deputy Speaker 6:35 p.m.
    Hon Members, the Hon Deputy Majority Leader has the floor. He is about to conclude. Let us make progress. The point has been made. He has moved on to another point. [Interruptions.] Please, Hon Members, we have a committee report. The Com-mittee came and gave us a report which is unanimous on the matter. Let us make progress on it, please. Leadership, let him finish.
    Mr. Akologu 6:35 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, it appears some people are never comfortable with
    the use of certain phrases in this House, that is why they are not comfortable with my statements. But I must indicate here that we are all conversant with the rules and regulations of the House and we go by them.
    Mr. Speaker, the second point I wanted to comment on is about the significance or otherwise of the reduction. I am surprised at those who are talking about the reduction being insignificant.
    Mr. Speaker, all of us are in this country and we would recall that after December 7 there was the need for a reduction in the petroleum prices to be made. No matter how insignificant it was, no matter how small it was, no matter whatever it was meant for, it was done before round two. So it is not surprising that today if this thing has been done and some people think that politically some parties stand to gain they will object to it.
    Mr. Speaker, I remember also that upon that reduction H.E. President John Evans Atta Mills, then the Presidential Candidate of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) told the people of this country and promised them that if he won the elections he would reduce the price further down and that is what he has done to keep faith with the people and I think this should be commended.
    Again, I know that by now the commonest person in my village is very happy about this reduction.
    Mr. Speaker, with these few comments, I lend my support to the motion and urge the House to vote for it.
    Mr. First Deputy Speaker 6:35 p.m.
    Hon Minister, do you want to wind up? If you want to wind up or have something to say,
    Dr. Duffuor 6:35 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to express my sincere thanks to Hon Members for supporting this Bill. I want to assure Hon Members that the loss would be taken care of through enhancement of other taxes and efficient management of resources and also cutting of cost.
    Mr. Speaker, I am the Minister for Finance and my name has been spelt wrongly. [Interruptions.] The documents before me here, is “Duffour”. That is not my name. It is “Duffuor” and I am Kwabena Duffuor and not Kwabena Duffour.
    Mr. Speaker, with that I want to thank you very much for what you have done for me.
    Question put and motion agreed to.
    The Customs and Excise (Petroleum Taxes and Petroleum Related Levies) (Amendment) Bill, 2009 was accordingly read a Second time. Suspension of Standing Order 128 (1)
    Dr. Duffuor 6:35 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, I beg to move, that notwithstanding the provisions of Standing Order 128 (1) which require that when a Bill has been read a Second time it shall pass through a Consideration Stage which shall not be taken until at least forty-eight hours have elapsed, the Consideration Stage of the Customs and Excise (Petroleum Taxes and Petroleum Related Levies) (Amendment) Bill, 2009 may be taken today.

    Mr. J. Y. Chireh 6:35 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, I beg
    to move, clause 2, delete and insert the following: “Section 7 and Schedule 4 of Act 685 deleted. Therefore the head note should read: “Section 7 and Schedule 4 of Act 685 deleted and what follows it will be the same, that is, Section 7 and Schedule 4 deleted. Otherwise if we delete only the Schedule and leave the substantive provision, then it will be hanging. That is what I want to amend and I urge this House to support the amendment.
    Mr. First Deputy Speaker 6:45 p.m.
    Chairman of the Committee, what do you say to the proposals coming from the Hon Member?
    Mr. Avedzi 6:45 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, I think the proposal is in order. That Section 7 gave birth to the Schedule. So if we delete the 4th Schedule without Section 7 that will be left hanging. So it is in order.
    Mr. First Deputy Speaker 6:45 p.m.
    There is no amendment put before me earlier on and the Committee has not reported on it. In view of that development I will then put the Question.
    Question put and amendment agreed to.
    Clause 2 as amended ordered to stand part of the Bill.
    Mr. Avedzi 6:45 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, I beg to move, New clause - add the following new clause:
    3. The Customs and Excise (Petroleum Taxes and Petroleum Related Levies) (Amendment) Act, 2008 (Act 756) is hereby repealed.”
    Question put and amendment agreed to.
    New clause as amended ordered to stand part of the Bill.
    Long Title ordered to stand part of the Bill.
    Mr. First Deputy Speaker 6:45 p.m.
    The Customs and Excise (Petroleum Taxes and Petroleum Related Levies) (Amendment) Bill, 2009 is duly considered. Item 7 - Hon Minister for Finance?
    Suspension of Standing Order 131 (1)
    Dr. Duffuor 6:45 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, I beg to move, that notwithstanding the provisions of Standing Order 131 (1) which require that when a Bill has passed through the Consideration Stage, the Third Reading thereof shall not be taken until at least twenty-four hours have elapsed, the motion for the Third Reading of the Customs and Excise (Petroleum Taxes and Petroleum Related Levies) (Amendment) Bill, 2009 may be moved today.
    Mr. Avedzi 6:45 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, I beg to second the motion.
    Question put and motion agreed to.
    Resolved accordingly.
    BILLS - THIRD READING 6:45 p.m.

    Mr. First Deputy Speaker 6:45 p.m.
    Hon Deputy Majority Leader, any indication before --
    Mr. John T. Akologu 6:45 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, I wish to thank Hon Members for enduring the time and the workload up to this point. Rt. Hon Speaker, I want to use this opportunity - [interruption] --
    Dr. Osei 6:45 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, I just want your guidance on a certain matter. Two Bills were laid before this House and the Committee was supposed to report on the two Bills. There has been a development. It will be important for the Hon Chairman to report on that before we conclude so that it is not hanging. So with your indulgence, I crave that we allow the Chairman to report on that.
    Mr. First Deputy Speaker 6:45 p.m.
    Well, this is so because only one was laid.
    Dr. Osei 6:45 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, two were laid.
    Mr. First Deputy Speaker 6:45 p.m.
    Yes, the Committee laid only one report but Hon Chairman -
    Mr. Avedzi 6:45 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, the Committee considered the second Bill as not being of urgent nature and for that reason, we were not able to lay the report.
    Thank you.
    Mr. First Deputy Speaker 6:45 p.m.
    Very well -- Hon Deputy Majority Leader?
    Dr. Osei 6:45 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, I want to clarify -
    Mr. Akologu 6:45 p.m.
    What is this?
    Mr. First Deputy Speaker 6:45 p.m.
    Hon Member for Old Tafo - [Interruption.]
    Dr. Osei 6:45 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, the Committee came to a decision but what the Chairman has said does not fully reflect the Committee's decision.
    Mr. First Deputy Speaker 6:45 p.m.
    Hon Member, I know that you are an authority on financial matters, but on this occasion there is no report from the Committee before the House. Indeed, no report was laid.
    There might be other problems and other things, but if the Committee feels strongly, about something then they must meet and bring a report to say something but there is no report before this honourable House as at now.
    So Hon Member for Old Tafo, I think that --
    Mr. First Deputy Speaker 6:45 p.m.
    Is it on the same issue, Hon Minority Leader?
    Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 6:55 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, with respect, I agree with you that there is no report before Parliament and I think a Member sought some clarification and the Chairman of the Committee has come up with some explanation.
    The Ranking Member is saying that what the Chairman has just said does not represent the entire truth of what transpired at the Committee level. So I believe the House is entitled to listen to him; but to foreclose the matter by saying that, no, let us move away from that, as

    Mr. Speaker, we agree because we know that we are in a hurry. But I believe that we must listen to the Ranking Member, with respect to you, Mr. Speaker.
    Mr. First Deputy Speaker 6:55 p.m.
    Hon. Minority Leader, I think that you have a point there; but I believe that the time that this matter ought to be taken was at the time when only one report was laid. That was the time I was expecting anyone who feels strongly as to why the second report was not laid, to make some statements. But we have travelled very far, and I agree with you on your closing submission. So it is not only that we are tired, but I thought that once the Hon Minister for Finance is with us in the House, we should adjourn early so that we can meet and put into effect your closing submissions. Hon Deputy Majority Leader?
    Mr. J. T. Akologu 6:55 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, thank you. I want to remind the Committee Chairmen and Ranking Members about the “post-Budget Workshop that begins tomorrow. Reporting time is 5.00 p.m., at GIMPA; we had earlier said it.
    Also Appointments Committee members, you will hold a meeting on Monday, 9th March, 2009 to consider some nominations that have been referred to you. And tomorrow is Independence Day, and we urge all Hon Members to be at the Independence Square to mark the occasion.
    Mr. Speaker, your direction is required now.
    Mr. First Deputy Speaker 6:55 p.m.
    Members, I am grateful and I thank you very much for your patience and co- operation. We are very grateful.
    ADJOURNMENT 6:55 p.m.