Debates of 10 Mar 2009

PRAYERS 11 a.m.


Madam Speaker 11 a.m.
Hon Members, we commence with the Correction of Votes and Proceedings of Thursday, 5th March,
Mr. Charles S. Hodogbey 11:10 a.m.
Speaker, in referring to pages 6 and 7 relating to the committees formation or composition, I think our Leadership made a statement the other day that they may probably review the composition but that statement has not been made here.
Having gone through the list which was given to us on Thursday by Madam Speaker, I could see that certain names or certain Leadership had about nine committees, sitting on nine committees. And the same Leadership, some are in ECOWAS Parliament, some are in the Pan-African Parliament and one person sitting on nine committees.
When you add the Business and Appointments Committees to it, it makes nine. I begin to wonder what process is being used in composing these committees of Parliament.
I am therefore calling that there should be a change in the process and because members of the committees make remunerations -- money, because of the loopholes in our tax system, people take advantage of that.
In other jurisdictions, Madam Speaker,

whatever income you make you are supposed to declare it in your tax. I therefore call for a change in the process in the tax system and that will stop all these.

Thank you very much.

Majority Leader (Mr. A. S. K.

Bagbin): Well, Madam Speaker, I am not the Speaker but I believe strongly that my Hon Colleague was completely out of order because we were correcting the Votes and Proceedings of the Sitting on Thursday, 5th March, 2009.

I think it is proper that Members know when to make some of these submissions. That is why we have the Order Paper; that is why we have the Standing Orders of the House and therefore if the Hon Member had a complaint to make, he knows how to go about it, not when we are correcting Votes and Proceedings.

So I think that what he has raised, because he has raised it I am compelled to respond. The attention of the Leadership has been drawn to that, and I think even at the time the motion was moved, it was the position, according to my information, that it would be reviewed as soon as possible; and I am told it was proposed that at the beginning of next Meeting the composition of the committees be reviewed. That was the information passed on to me.

Madam Speaker, I took the trouble to go through the composition myself and I think there are a few things that we have to relook at and make sure that Members are all given ample opportunity to participate in the work of Parliament. But I am sad that my Hon Colleague raised it at this wrong time. He personally has not approached me to raise this issue and I think that any attempt to try to undermine Leadership will fail -- [Some Hon Members: No, no].
Madam Speaker 11:10 a.m.
Hon Member, I think at this stage we are correcting the Votes and Proceedings - [Interruptions.]
Mr. Hodogbey 11:10 a.m.
Madam Speaker, I
did not speak out of order. I stated in my submission, that last Thursday the Leadership promised that they would review the composition of the committees, and I said this has not been stated in this Votes and Proceedings here which we are reviewing. It has not been stated. It is part of the Votes and Proceedings. So when I raised that issue it is not out of order. I do not envy anybody in this world. I am content with whatever I have but I believe in fairness. It is only fairness that I am fighting for.
Madam Speaker 11:10 a.m.
So what page were
you referring to?
Mr. Hodogbey 11:10 a.m.
Madam Speaker, I was
referring to pages 6 and 7 which conclude information concerning the composition of the committees and the review. That is why I got up to talk about it. Because there was nothing stated here that said the issue would be reviewed. It has not been stated here, otherwise, I would not have got up.
Madam Speaker 11:10 a.m.
And that is the correction. All right.
Mr. Dominic B.A. Nitiwul 11:10 a.m.
Speaker, it is always a practice that when committees meet, it is captured and recorded in the Votes and Proceedings. When the House was suspended as stated on page 9, the Finance Committee met to deliberate on the report of the Customs and Excise (Petroleum Taxes and Petroleum Related Levies) (Amendment) Bill, but it has not been captured here, neither do I see any name stating that the Finance Committee met. I do not know whether it is an oversight but if it is not, then it must be captured.

Madam Speaker 11:20 a.m.
Now we move to
item 5. Hon Members, we now commence the debate to approve the Financial Policy of the Government of Ghana for the year ending 31st December 2009 moved on Thursday the 5th of March, 2009 by the Hon Minister for Finance, Dr. Kwabena Duffuor.
MOTIONS 11:20 a.m.

Mr. Moses Asaga (NDC -- Nabdam) 11:20 a.m.
Madam Speaker, I rise to support the motion and in doing so would want to make comments on the 2009 Budget.
Madam Speaker, this Budget could not
have been described in any manner than the way it was described as “Investing in a Better Ghana”. Madam Speaker, within the short period of the transition, everyone was wondering whether the new National Democratic Congress (NDC) Government could have come up with a budget -- [Interruption.] I am saying this because, unlike the previous Adminis-tration in 2001, which came with an interim budget to this Parliament, we have been able to move a step ahead to come with a final budget -- [Hear! Hear!]
Madam Speaker, this Budget of a better Ghana had inputs from most stakeholders contrary to the notion that it did not have broad inputs. The private sector chieftains were invited to have an input in the Budget; Trades Union Congress (TUC) and Ghana Union Traders Asso-ciation (GUTA) were also invited. We also had the farmers and all other stakeholders to contribute to this Budget. Even though we did not have the normal people's rally for the input in view of the time, we made sure that the representatives brought in their inputs to represent the various stakeholders.
Madam Speaker, the economic picture
inherited by the NDC Government has been repeated severally, but for the records, we know that in 2009, there was a failed attempt to hit the single digit which was almost achieved in 2007 and therefore if you had an inflation of 10.1 per cent in 2007 and it is now approximately 18.1 per cent, definitely you would say that there is a distortion as far as the inflation numbers are concerned.
Madam Speaker, that holds also for import cover of almost three months in 2007 and now we can boast of barely 1.8 months. Again the budget deficit in 2007 was also 7.5 per cent and today we have a budget deficit of 14.9 per cent, if you exclude divestiture proceeds.
Madam Speaker, balance of payments deficit is also having a problem. It is as a result of this that the NDC initially said they had inherited a challenging economy, and I think the Minister for Finance has mentioned it a couple of times. But Madam Speaker, the ordinary man would always think that once you have these figures then the economy is a broke economy. But I am sure, from an economic point of view, we would say that we have inherited a difficult economy.
Madam Speaker, to fix this shattered economy and to roll on to -- [Inter- ruption] -- Madam Speaker, to come with an “Investing in a Better Ghana”, a number of measures have been outlined. First, the Government wants to cut down domestic borrowing by GH¢200 billion. That would mean that our domestic borrowing from Bank of Ghana, non-banks and commercial banks would be curtailed; and we rather in an innovative manner, would want to push more of the domestic finance in the extra to our foreign partners. This would be able to reduce inflation.
Madam Speaker, another policy that was taken to cushion the Budget was an
upfront loading of foreign financing from our development partners including the World Bank. This front loading success was as a result of hard negotiations with the World Bank and other donors. Madam Speaker, it is therefore not surprising that today we are hearing that the World Bank is already considering giving Ghana 300 million dollars in upfront or facility to support the Budget.
Mr. Asaga 11:20 a.m.
Madam Speaker, if you look at foreign loans to come, we have been able to source an additional 500 million, higher than the previous Administration. This has been accepted because of the confidence that the donors have in the new Government and commitment to end wasteful expenditure -- [Interruption.]
Madam Speaker 11:20 a.m.
You were seconding the motion, yes; anyway, you want to object to something.
Dr. Osei 11:20 a.m.
On a point of order. Madam
Speaker, it is obvious that my good Friend was not here when the Budget was being read and he is attempting to -- Because he is my friend I would be generous and say, he is attempting to grossly mislead this House.
The notion that there is front-loading is palpably false. He talked about the Budget being front-loaded with external funds; it is not true. The Minister, just yesterday, held a meeting with the officials of the World Bank. There is nothing in here about front-loading. I know he was not here, but somebody should have informed him.

In fact, he has to be careful because if the fact has not happened --

Madam Speaker, we have read the

Budget. I say I can excuse him; he was not here when the Budget was being read but as I have read it, there is nothing here about front-loading. So he should withdraw that statement that there is a front-loading of that amount.
Madam Speaker 11:20 a.m.
If you are correcting him, that is there; you have corrected it. But why should he withdraw? You have corrected that impression.
Dr. Osei 11:20 a.m.
Madam Speaker, it is
Mr. Asaga 11:30 a.m.
Madam Speaker, I think that everything that he has said has rather buttressed my point and therefore I will continue with my submission.
Madam Speaker, we also intend,
Dr. Osei 11:30 a.m.
Madam Speaker, we are
Madam Speaker 11:30 a.m.
Hon Member, I
take it that you corrected something you talked about.
Dr. Osei 11:30 a.m.
Madam Speaker, he is
debating a Budget Statement that was
Dr. Osei 11:30 a.m.

presented by my Hon Senior Colleague, Dr. Duffuor, which contains information that he is unaware of or has not had the chance to read. But to put information here on a Budget that we are debating, he is completely misleading this House. I know he was not here and I repeat, but he should not tell us, smuggle things in here that have the potential of, perhaps, derailing a very important instrument that the Hon Minister is trying to negotiate; that is all.
Madam Speaker 11:30 a.m.
But I thought you
said you would excuse him because he was not here and you have made the point.
Dr. Osei 11:30 a.m.
Madam Speaker, for the
purposes of the records, it is important that it is corrected.
Madam Speaker 11:30 a.m.
Yes, is this not a
correction? What you have said.
Dr. Osei 11:30 a.m.
Yes, but he needs to withdraw
so that the records do not reflect that that is what he is saying.
Mr. Asaga 11:30 a.m.
So Madam Speaker, we
also intend to introduce the treasury single account and Government must be commended for this bold initiative.
Madam Speaker, on energy whilst
Dr. Osei 11:30 a.m.
Madam Speaker, just for
our information. It is very important in discussions and negotiations with the IFIs that we do not misrepresent our discussions with them.
Madam Speaker 11:30 a.m.
Of course.
Dr. Osei 11:30 a.m.
In the past, it has happened and we have paid dearly. So I am pleading with my Hon Colleague that in these matters it is only fair that he gives the Hon Minister room to be able to conduct his negotiations. The Hon Minister is here, he knows that he has just started negotiations and it is not in the interest of the nation to
put that statement in the records. It is not fair to the Hon Minister.
Madam Speaker 11:30 a.m.
Hon Asaga, if that statement as he is correcting is wrong, can you just either withdraw it or correct it?
Mr. Asaga 11:30 a.m.
Madam Speaker, I withdraw that statement but in withdrawing -- The negotiations did not just start yesterday. The negotiations had started three weeks before the Budget Statement. My Hon Colleague -- [Interruption.]
Madam Speaker 11:30 a.m.
He has withdrawn. He said he has withdrawn.
Dr. Osei 11:30 a.m.
Madam Speaker, he said negotiations did not start - He was in an interim position as part of the management team. The substantive Minister is the one who is authorised to negotiate. So having informal talks with people is not negotiation. The substantive Hon Minister is the one who can legally begin negotiations.
Madam Speaker 11:30 a.m.
Hon Asaga, if you have no objectionable facts, can you carry on?
Mr. Asaga 11:30 a.m.
Madam Speaker, I still insist that my Hon Colleague, because he is no longer in the Ministry, he does not know what had taken place.
Madam Speaker, immediately --
Madam Speaker 11:30 a.m.
Mr. Asaga 11:30 a.m.
Madam Speaker, immediate-ly the Hon Minister for Finance was sworn in, he met the World Bank and the donors at Bortianor where I was present. So I am trying to correct him that the negotiations did not start yesterday. The negotiations started earlier when he had the mandate as the Hon Minister for Finance so I am also giving him information regarding that
Madam Speaker 11:30 a.m.
Hon Asaga did say he was withdrawing that part you complained about. I think we should take it that he has withdrawn that part you complained about and then allow him to carry on.
Mr. Asaga 11:30 a.m.
Madam Speaker, I had already done the withdrawal. My Hon Colleague is just playing for time.
Madam Speaker, the Government is also introducing the treasury single account which is very, very commendable because it allows Government to be able to use resources that would have been sitting idle in other accounts that may not hit the Consolidated Fund. I think that the new Government and the Hon Minister for Finance should be commended for this treasury single account implementation.
Madam Speaker, on energy, I was very happy to know that we have an agenda - Energy for Growth Agenda - and this time to prove to my Hon Colleague that I have read the Budget Statement and understood it, he should open to page 94, paragraph 418 and he would see ‘Energy for Growth Agenda'.
Madam Speaker, the proposed Energy for Growth Agenda speaks volumes. We are saying this because it is a replacement from the earlier energy crisis that we used to witness in this country and I think that now that the Government has recognised energy as it has always done under an NDC Administration, we would let energy be a growth pole.
The NDC Government plans to increase generation to 5,000 megawatts in the medium term and to increase access to households and then regional
integration co-operation projects. The West African power pool would be an area that we would aggressively pursue for it to be successful and the West African Gas Pipeline, which after eight years has not come into fruition, would be one of the areas that the new Government would want to tackle with all seriousness.
Madam Speaker, we would want to attain the position of compressed gas for usage by thermal plants and industry in this country. I wish to commend the NDC Government under President Rawlings and the NPP Government under President Kufuor, for their cumulative use of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) which has been partnering international oil companies that has led to the significant discovery of oil and gas in this country.
The Tano-Cape Three Points Basin -- The Government of Professor Atta Mills has pledged to continue with intensifying gas and oil exploration, and again, my Hon Colleague can check on paragraph 437 for this statement that was made and had been captured in the Budget Statement.
We are also committed to achieving oil and gas production targets and to expand oil refinery capacity in the country and also for export purposes. This is really a Budget of “Investing in a Better Ghana.”
Madam Speaker, still on the energy front, there is good news as far as the development and production of crude oil and gas on the Jubilee Field is concerned. Tullow and KOSMOS have and are negotiating for a capital injection of $215 million to support the development of the Jubilee Field including the GH¢850 million from two private equity firms - Black-stone and Welbeck.
Mr. Asaga 11:40 a.m.
Madam Speaker, despite the credit crunch, the news of a new government headed by Prof. Mills has sent confidence also into the international market. Madam Speaker, as a result of this confidence, in the midst of a credit crunch, Tullow is now about to raise $2,000,000,000 loan to develop the Jubilee Field and other discoveries in Africa. Madam Speaker, this means that production target of 600,000 gallons a day in 2010 and approximately 120,000 barrels a day in 2011 and beyond will be on target.
“Investing in a Better Ghana” is a reality and we must support the cause and I call on my Hon Colleagues on the other side of the House and Ghanaians in general to give them the hope that the only difficult year would be 2009. After 2009 Ghanaians are really going to benefit more on our “Better Ghana” theme.

Madam Speaker, I thank you very much.
Mr. Joe Ghartey (NPP -- Esikadu/ Ketan) 11:40 a.m.
Madam Speaker, I also rise to contribute to the motion moved by the Hon Minister for Finance or Finance and Economic Planning whichever be the case. [Interruptions]. Madam Speaker, I am just told that there is no “Economic Planning,” he is Hon Minister for Finance.
Madam Speaker, this Budget is clearly a vindication, it is a vindication of eight years of good economic management in this country -- [Hear! Hear!] Madam Speaker, indeed my Hon Colleague and dear Friend, Moses Asaga started by
stating the rate of inflation, depreciation, et cetera. Madam Speaker, clearly within the Budget, and I can refer him to the pages if he wants to, it is clear the reasons why these rates of inflation rose, the reason why we overspent and so on.
Indeed, today we have before us the First Reading of the Customs and Excise (Duties and Other Taxes) (Amendment) Bill, 2009 and it shows quite clearly the reasons why taxes were removed on certain items to mitigate the high food prices. It is a notorious fact, I do not need to repeat it that the high food prices and the astronomical rise in oil prices affected all the economies of the world, not only Ghana.
Mr. J. Y. Chireh 11:40 a.m.
On a point of order.
The Bill that is being anticipated is against the Standing Orders. We are not at the Second Reading of the Bill, so I will ask that you direct my very good Friend not to be talking about the Bill at this stage.
Mr. Ghartey 11:40 a.m.
Madam Speaker, it is
in the Budget and I will urge my Hon Colleague to be abreast with the Budget before he starts jumping up and down as it is his usual practice.
Madam Speaker, it is on page 289 of the
Mr. J. K. Avedzi 11:40 a.m.
On a point of order.
Madam Speaker, the Hon Member just alluded to the fact that one of the causes of the high prices of food items in 2008 had called for the reduction in the taxes on these food items. Madam Speaker,
my point of order is that the reduction was so insignificant that, even the intended beneficiaries who are the people of Ghana, who are supposed to benefit from the reduction never did because this reduction went to the very few elements who are the middlemen who were the importers and enjoyed the reduction in taxes, but not the people who were meant to receive those benefits. Therefore, he should not talk about that issue, he should just limit that point and leave it because that decision was a bad one.
Mr. Ghartey 11:50 a.m.
I thank him very much

Madam Speaker, if 20 is insignificant then five defies description, the reduction in tax; if 20 per cent is insignificant then the five (5) per cent that they brought for fuel defies description. Madam Speaker, it is clear that this Budget contains absolutely nothing new. Madam Speaker, there is nothing wrong with that. Indeed H.E. the President, in his State of the Nation Address, alluded to the fact that we do not need to destroy anytime but we need to create.

Madam Speaker, that being the case, the phrase that we find most repeated in this Budget -- ‘we shall continue, we shall ensure, we shall continue' is a total vindication of the programme of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) for the past 8 years. [Hear!Hear!] Madam Speaker, there are global challenges in the economy. This was acknowledged by H.E. the President on page (8) of his Budget Statement. Indeed,

the Hon Finance Minister, paragraph 36, page 10 of the Budget Statement also recognizes the fact that there are global economic challenges. Madam Speaker, as I speak with you the Ministers for Finance in Africa are meeting in Dar-es-Salaam -- Tanzania to look and plan and find response to those challenges.

Madam Speaker, it is interesting that we do not seem in the entire Budget to have any response whatsoever to these economic global challenges. Madam Speaker, for example, in the United States of America a rescue plan has been developed in the Budget which seeks to create jobs in the public sector. I have looked through the Budget, I have looked for some ray of hope. Indeed, Madam Speaker, the answer that we are given in the Budget is that we “shall monitor” and then “we shall act when the time arises”, when they know that the evil day is at hand.

Madam Speaker, this Budget claims to be creating jobs, investing in jobs, it is a major theme in the Budget. Indeed, it gladdened my heart when I saw the “investing in jobs” theme of the Budget. Paragraph 708 of the Budget, page 162, and if I may read:

“Public investment programmes aimed at developing and improving public infrastructure in areas such as roads, housing, railways, ports and harbours, afforestation, cocoa, etc. will be used to create more job opportunities . . .”

Madam Speaker, that is a noble statement. But when you look at the Budget, when you look at the close print of the Budget it shows that the reality is far from this lofty aspiration that has been stated in paragraph 708.

Madam Speaker, I will just give two examples. I will look at railways. It is said that railways is going to be used as one of the platforms to create jobs. Madam Speaker, in 2008 the Budget for the then Ministry of Railways, Ports and Harbours is at paragraph 701 on page 195 -- total budget is ¢59,682,804. Madam Speaker, at a time that we are told that the railway sector is going to be used to create more jobs, the Budget in 2009, which may be found at paragraph 510 on page 116 is ¢4, 562,859 -- [Laughter.] Madam Speaker, the railway sector is a specially -- [Interruption.]
Mr. Asaga 11:50 a.m.
Madam Speaker, he got
it entirely wrong. We are moving from consolidated -- [Interruptions] -- We are moving into a strategy of public/private partnerships (PPP) and therefore if we are moving into public/private partnerships for infrastructure, it does not necessarily have to come from consoli-dated funds and that is why your figures are what they are. This is because private sector investors would come and partner with Government to construct the railways under the PPPs. So that is the intention.
Mr. Ghartey 11:50 a.m.
Madam Speaker, I
am grateful for his intervention but unfortunately he has got it wrong. We are talking about creating jobs. They said they would invest in jobs. One of the platforms they are using is investing in the public sector -- public sector infrastructure. It says,
“. . . public investment programmes aimed at developing and improving public infrastructure . . .”
So at this point we are not talking about PPP; we are talking about invest-ment by the State. It has reduced from ¢59 million to ¢4 million. In any event, under the 2008 Budget even though it was 59 million
Mr. Ghartey 11:50 a.m.
Madam Speaker, as a person from the railway constituency, I am very concerned -- Esikadu Ketan, I am very concerned and disappointed and my people in Sekondi/Takoradi share my disappoint- ment that there is no investment, not a single extra job. There is no investment in this Budget by the Government which would create jobs in the railway industry. Madam Speaker, we invested ¢59 million and they invested ¢4 million. That is what we did.
Madam Speaker, another example is the road sector. They have talked about public investment to create jobs and they have used roads -- paragraph 708 is another example. Madam Speaker, in 2008, paragraph 657, page 183, the investment in roads was ¢503,287,051. Madam Speaker, this year the Budget that my dear Friend, Hon Moses Asaga was part of the triumvirate that created it -- He himself said it. In 2009, paragraph 547, page 127, the investment is ¢386,370,228.

Madam Speaker, may I move to the private sector. Madam Speaker, it is clear that one of the ways, one of the strategies for job creation is investment in the private sector.
Mr. Asaga 11:50 a.m.
On a point of order. Again,
the figures that he is quoting, I am very
happy. A number of the roads that he is talking about, financing has already been sourced for them -- [Uproar] -- Just a minute -- [Interruptions] -- No, please, Madam Speaker, I think that he should be consulting Hon Dr. Akoto Osei to understand the fact that for ongoing projects when financing has been sourced and Parliament has approved, one does not need to come back again and account for it in the public investment programme and that is why that is happening.
So the $750 million Euro Bond, some of it is being used for some of these roads. So why should we be repeating that we are going to have the same levels of funding for the roads? That is the answer to it.
Dr. Osei 11:50 a.m.
Madam Speaker, it is
obvious that my good Friend, even one of the architects of the Budget, does not recall what he might have put in there -- [Laughter.] The fact is that what is stated, the levels have gone down. Number two, the sovereign bond financing is not available for them to use; it has been used. Number three, Madam Speaker, for his information, Hon Joe Ghartey and myself spent sometime yesterday evening. So he has consulted me; he knows what he is talking about -- [Hear! Hear!]
Mr. Ghartey 11:50 a.m.
Madam Speaker, I have already consulted Dr. Akoto Osei . I think the mistake I made was I did not consult him. [Laughter.] So next time I will consult him, I assure him. But Madam Speaker, the point I have made in giving these two examples is that if public infrastructure, investment, expenditure is supposed to create jobs --
For example, in the United States of America we have a rescue pan, we have a stimulus plan where the creation of jobs has been linked directly to expenditure in the public sector, where they can tell
Mr. Ghartey noon

Madam Speaker, I would now turn to the private sector. Madam Speaker, admittedly, His Excellency the President and the Hon Minister for Finance have recognised the fact that the private sector is also another platform for creating jobs. But I have looked at the entire Budget. I have tried to find in the Budget a plan, a programme, a direction that they have given to the private sector, a stimulus, some injection, a policy statement backed by figures -- And I am surprised that my friend said that they consulted the private sector. I do not know whether it was a one- way consultation. This is because, Madam Speaker, there are many ways in which we can assist the private sector.

Indeed, in the past eight years, corporate tax has been reduced from 32 per cent to 25 per cent. We said in our manifesto that we will reduce it further to 15 per cent. And the reduction of the corporate tax as a tool for private sector development is a well-known fact. And indeed, I am in good company. Madam Speaker, I want to quote from the University of Ghana Law Journal, volume 18, 1990-1992, the first article, “Ghana's New Investment Code -- An Appraisal” and the author of it is the then Prof. J. E. A. Mills. Madam Speaker, and he says on page 19 and if I may read:

“In a country where the level of unemployment and underemploy- ment, especially in the urban areas is high, there is clearly the need to
Mr. Ghartey noon

encourage employment creation.

Then he says that:

“Ghana's use of tax rebates to encourage employment creation seem justifiable on the following grounds.”

And he goes to give grounds why there is the need for one to use tax rebates to induce employment creation. In fact, he concludes that:

“The use of the tax rebates to induce employment creation is therefore appropriate.”

Madam Speaker, Prof. Mills, as he then was, on page 19, talked about tax rebates for employment creation. Unfortunately, perhaps his Hon Minister for Finance did not consult him. [Laughter.] Because if he had consulted him, I am confident that he would not have maintained a 25 per cent corporate tax.

Indeed, what has been done with regard to taxation? The only thing that has been done, apart from what I have been told, is less than insignificant reduction in petroleum taxes, is an increase in tax. Airport tax has been increased.
Mr. H. Iddrisu noon
Madam Speaker, I
rise on a point of order against Hon Joe Ghartey who has made reference to a brilliant exposition by His Excellency the President, then Prof. J. E. A. Mills. In fact, Madam Speaker, he goes on further to say that “his Hon Minister for Finance may not have consulted him”. Madam Speaker, the Budget Statement is made and read before this House on the authority of His Excellency, the President.
I thank you, Madam Speaker.
Mr. Ghartey noon
Madam Speaker, I
did not want to show the contradiction. I was saying this out of the utmost of respect. But if he is saying that the same person said that we should do tax rebate and the same person is not doing any tax rebate, then he said it, and I did not say it. [Laughter.] I choose my words carefully. So Madam Speaker, I am challenging the Hon Minister for Finance to reduce the corporate tax to 15 per cent and we on this side would support that change. This is because it is only when such reduction has been made that the private sector will get funds, invest, improve and create jobs.
Madam Speaker, I also wish to urge
my very, very senior, the Hon Minister for Finance that he should also consider tax reduction for non-metropolitan industries. Indeed, Prof. Mills said in the same article, on pages 18 and 19 that:
“It is submitted that the benefit to be derived from the location of industries in non-metropolitan areas will far outweigh the revenue loss that will result from tax reduction.”

Madam Speaker, so when there has

been no significant policy or programme for private sector development, and when in the private sector, too, there has not been any significant policy or programme to create jobs for the public sector, the question that one asks is what does investing in jobs mean in terms of this Budget?

I challenge the Hon Minister for Finance to give us a target, to set out

figures that by the end of this year, he would create “X” amount of jobs. They have stated it in certain places. They should give us a ball park figure; he should not run away from that.

Madam Speaker, the President in his

State of the Nation Address made it quite clear that one of the strategies he intends to use to make Ghana a more prosperous nation is by reducing expenditure at the presidency. On page 11 of the State of the Nation Address, he states:

“I am making sure that the expenditure at the Presidency does not constitute an undue burden on the Ghanaian taxpayer.

I will impose austerity measures throughout the Government machinery, to ensure that we realise significant savings.”

Indeed, in the Budget Statement, his Hon Minister talks about the fact that there is leaner government. Admittedly, maybe I should have consulted Hon Moses Asaga before. But I have con-sulted Hon Akoto Osei and the figures that the Budget produces are as follows:

In 2008, paragraph 1333, page 397 the budget for Office of Government Machinery was GH¢110,039,251. On page 254 of paragraph 105 of the 2009 Budget, the figure is GH¢289,610,596. [Uproar.] Madam Speaker, I am a simple lawyer, I am not a mathematician but the mathemati-cians have told me that it is 168 per cent increase. [Interruptions.]

Madam Speaker, they talked about

a leaner government -- [Some Hon Members: Lean Government. Lean Government.] They talked about a leaner Government. Indeed, if there are fewer people then what is happening is that

those fewer people are now spending more money. Leaner in terms of numbers -- perhaps, now there is 75 Ministers instead of 82. But in terms of expenditure, as shown by the comparison of the two Budget Statements, it clearly shows that it has totally increased. Chartering flight to Ivory Coast -- [Laughter.] That is me.

Madam Speaker, but in reality, this

business about a leaner government is a good thing. I think that the Hon Minister for Finance is the best person, at some point, to let the people of Ghana know the reality.

We used to have a Chief of Staff who was also a Minister for Presidential Affairs. Today, we have a Chief of Staff who is not a Minister for Presidential Affairs. So Madam Speaker, when they are talking about less Ministries, they take away the Ministry for Presidential Affairs.

A simple question is that this Chief of Staff, by virtue of the fact that he is also not designated a Minister for Presidential Affairs, has it led to a reduction in the conditions and services of a Minister? Does he not receive the same as a Minister will receive? That is the question we ask.
Mr. Asaga 12:10 p.m.
On a point of order. Madam Speaker, Standing Order 91. Madam Speaker, I think that if the Hon Member had waited for the estimates that would be brought under Government Machinery and the various units under it, he would have understood that Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) Department is now under Government Machinery, which
Mr. Asaga 12:10 p.m.

was not the case previously. Millennium Challenge Account budget is supposed to be GH¢146 million and it is this GH¢146 million that was not disbursed last year and it is coming under Government Machinery that has now been added to what would have been there to come to the figures.
Mr. Ghartey 12:10 p.m.
Madam Speaker, I have
great liking for my dear Friend. Assuming, for the sake of argument, that what he is saying is correct -- [Interruptions] -- I will continue standing. I said assuming.
Madam Speaker, he mentioned a figure of 146 if we take 146 from 289 we will still get 143 and if he is not aware 143 is still higher than 110. [Hear! Hear!] But Madam Speaker, he will have his opportunity. If I may continue? [Interruptions.] Madam Speaker, I shall continue. The Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs has been taken away. [Interruptions.]
Mr. Asaga 12:10 p.m.
On a point of order. Madam Speaker, Standing Order 91. Madam Speaker, I am very happy that the exaggeration of 289 has been brought down.
Mr. Ghartey 12:10 p.m.
Madam Speaker, I thank him very much. The mathematics is clear. Madam Speaker, if I may go on. The Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs, I agree, is no longer a Ministry. But Madam Speaker, the question that I ask is that the Majority Leader, is he enjoying any less terms and conditions that a Minister for Parliamentary Affairs enjoys? And the answer is, no.
Madam Speaker, the attempt or the statement that we have a leaner government is nothing but window dressing. The Ministries that there is a claim that this nation has collapsed is mere window dressing. The National Security Coordinator is still there. Yes, he is no longer a Minister, but there is
Madam Speaker 12:10 p.m.
Hon. Member, can you try and wind up. You have gone for 30 minutes.
Mr. Ghartey 12:10 p.m.
Madam Speaker, I will wind up very quickly. In conclusion, I will deal briefly with the School Feeding Programme and move on briefly and talk about the Ghana Stock Exchange.
Madam Speaker, throughout the world the Dow Jones, every television station one looks at, the stock markets are crumbling. Ghana recorded 58 per cent growth according to the Budget. In sub-Saharan Africa it was only Ghana and Malawi that recorded a significant increase. South Africa and the rest recorded slight increases. Madam Speaker, but what have we seen since January 7? Everything that has been done, every policy has the potential of undermining the integrity of the stock exchange.
The first thing I will talk about is this business about dissolving boards of public corporations. Some are listed companies. They are listed companies and when we recall our board members from listed companies by radio announce-ments, unless Hon Asaga says there is another radio announcement I did not hear --
But if one does that -- [Interruptions] -- That is not the point. If one does that, it is very dangerous. Even the Securities and Exchange Commission, the body which is established to regulate the Ghana Stock Exchange, as we speak now, according to that radio and newspaper announcement, the Securities and Exchange Commission no longer exists.
How can we create confidence in the

market? How can investors be sure of the integrity of this market? A market that at one time has been the highest and best performing in the world. A market that at the time the Dow Jones was going into negative figures it is recording a 58 per cent positive growth. How can we, when we take all these measures, continue to say we are encouraging the private sector in our country?
Mr. J. K. Avedzi 12:10 p.m.
On a point of order. Madam Speaker, the Hon Member made a statement which I think, for the purpose of the records should be made very straightforward. He made a statement that the dissolution of the boards of Ghana Stock Exchange which is not in the Budget Statement -- We are debating the Budget Statement and we do not have the dissolution of the boards in the Budget Statement.
So he should withdraw that statement and go straight to the Budget Statement because we do not have the dissolution of the boards in the Budget Statement. He is making reference to the dissolution of the boards. He should speak to the Budget Statement and not to the dissolution. He should withdraw that statement.
Mr. Ghartey 12:10 p.m.
Madam Speaker, clearly -- [Pause.] Madam Speaker, I will continue on page 264 of the Budget. Paragraph 1087 states quite clearly --
“MDG I -- Target 2 -- Reducing Hunger”. About one in five children (18 per cent) in Ghana is underweight, while those stunted comprise a little over 22 per cent, and wasting among under-fives is about 5 per cent.”
Madam Speaker, it is this Millennium
Development Goal that the School Feeding Programme was designed to meet. But it was not designed just to meet only that. It was also designed to meet some of the matters that my Hon Friends opposite have raised, for example, with regard to farming.
Indeed, Madam Speaker, when we look at the views of Professor Jeffrey Sacks -- and everybody knows Prof. Sacks. He worked at Harvard. He is an economic advisor to the current UN Secretary- General and also to Kofi Annan. In a book, An Economic History of Ghana, Reflec- tions of a Half Century of Challenges and Progress, Madam Speaker, on page 194, Prof Sacks says in response to the School Feeding Programme that:
“The School Feeding Programme is a commitment that every child in school will have a midday meal. It hasn't yet reached everybody, but it is reaching hundreds and thousands of children, and this is a big step forward. The world is looking because Ghana was the first to say, ‘We will do it for everybody'. Everybody is rooting for Ghana's success to achieve the full objectives of this project.”
And it goes on to say, “It also can help the local farm community if the School Feeding Programme is based on purchasing foodstuffs from local villages. It builds a commercial economy
Mr. Ghartey 12:20 p.m.
locally . . . by buying from small- grower farmers . . . [and these] farmers can eventually become commercial farmers.”

Madam Speaker, I wish to remind my Hon Friend opposite, the Minister for Finance, that the basic necessities of life are food, shelter and clothing. I applaud his decision to try and bring uniforms to every child in Ghana -- Now he is shifting the goal posts; he says only the needy. But I want to remind him that basic necessity of life starts with food, and the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) show that it is important that we reduce hunger for children; that can affect their growth physically as well as mentally.

The Budget Statement must contain, and they must continue with a clear statement of continuing school feeding for every single child in Ghana. [Hear! Hear!] Madam Speaker, I will take my bow by stating that I totally support -- [Interruption] -- Madam Speaker, I will not allow this strategic diversions to take me off course. Madam Speaker, I will end by saying that there is nothing, absolutely nothing in this Budget, in the public sector or the private sector that indicates that jobs will be created.

The saying, “investing in jobs” is misleading. As for the number of jobs we created, their own Budget confirms it in the National Youth Employment Pro- gramme (NYEP).

Madam Speaker, I support the fund for the Savannah, I support the reintro- duction of Central Region Development Commission (CEDECOM); but I call for a fund for the Western Region. [Hear! Hear!] I speak for all the people in the Western Region when I say that I call for a fund of part of the oil revenue to be devoted to the Western Region.

I urge the Hon Minister to look at Nigeria where a certain percentage is given to the Delta Region. The Hon Minister should not be afraid; he should be bold; he should not repeat some of the mistakes that occurred before the last eight years. Indeed, this Budget contains nothing new. Unfortunately, this Budget, which is an affirmation of the eight years of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), is a faded photocopy of the original -- [Hear! Hear!] -- Because they do not have the blueprint.
Madam Speaker 12:20 p.m.
I will now call on the Hon Haruna Iddrisu. Hon Members, I see people standing but you have to catch my eye before I call you. And so if I have not called you, it does not mean I have not seen you; but if you catch my eye, I will call you.
Minister for Communications (Mr. Haruna Iddrisu) 12:20 p.m.
Madam Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to speak to the motion that this honourable House approves the Financial Policy of the Government of Ghana for the year ending 31st December, 2009.
Madam Speaker, the 2009 Financial and Economic Policy Statement which was ably presented by the Hon Minister for Finance, Dr. Duffuor has been described variously. But at least, one important thing is certain that this was not an interim Budget. It was a comprehensive Budget
that offers hope, and a Budget with a promise.
Madam Speaker, various comments have been made, and indeed, it is worth commending the Hon Minister for Finance and Government that at least they are forthright with the people of Ghana. We have been told that this economy was resilience, this economy is strong. Madam Speaker, any proper and careful evaluation of the performance of the economy in 2008 leads to only one irresistible conclusion, that we could not meet the targets that were set for 2008 -- [Hear! Hear!] Whether it was in the area of real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth -- projections was seven per cent; we came to 6.2 per cent.
Mr. H. Iddrisu 12:20 p.m.
Inflation is at 18 per cent instead of the projection of a single digit inflation. Fiscal deficit as a percentage of GDP, we missed the target. Madam Speaker, so with all honesty, the Hon Minister for Finance has inherited a very challenging economy, very challen- ging, if not a shattered economy. And he promises to deal with it in a very gradual and systematic manner.
Madam Speaker, the Hon Minister for Finance is not ambitious at all; he has set realistic and attainable targets. To reduce inflation from 18 per cent to 12.5 per cent is reasonable and realistic; to reduce the overall Budget deficit from 11.9 per cent, whether with divestiture or minus divestiture, to 9.8 per cent is reasonable and realistic enough to attain.
Madam Speaker, I have heard some comments to the effect that School Feeding Programme -- reference have been made to some academics. But the truth about the School Feeding Programme -- if one listened to His Excellency the President, he gave a clear indication when he said, and I am quoting him: “justifiable
Mr. H. Iddrisu 12:20 p.m.
That promise, His Excellency makes. Madam Speaker, as I speak, there is a damning report from Pricewater House about the management of the School Feeding Programme. They know that the coverage did not benefit the entire Ghanaian children who are entitled to it, but there was a lot of wastage and slippage with it; that the President and the Ministry of Finance would correct, and expand the programme in order that it can benefit many more Ghanaian children of school going age.
Madam Speaker, it is in this vein that the Ministry of Finance hinted at an adjustment upwards of the Capitation Grant from GH¢3.0 to GH¢4.50. [Hear! Hear!] -- That is good enough. And a further commitment to allow for timeous release of the Capitation Grant, not what we witnessed in the past where even up to end of 2007, basic schools were still in arrears in terms of the receipts of Capitation Grant. It is a promise that the Ministry of Finance made, and I think this is what makes the Budget a worthwhile Budget, and a Budget of hope.
Madam Speaker, may I refer you to
paragraphs 708, 798, 799 and 710 of the Budget Statement. Madam Speaker, some comments have been made in the debates to the effect that this Budget does not create opportunity for employment; it does. [Interruption.] May I quote, paragraph 708:
“Public investment programmes aimed at developing and improving public infrastructure in areas such as roads, housing, railways, ports
Dr. Matthew Prempeh 12:30 p.m.
On a point of order. Madam Speaker, I am coming on Order 91 -- [Interruption.]Madam Speaker, my Hon Friend, the Minister for Communications is grossly misleading this House. Before he even starts governing this country, he is misleading us from their own manifesto. And I quote the introduction, the highlights:
“The 2009 Budget Statement is informed by the 2008 NDC Manifesto upon which the NDC government was voted into power.”
The NDC Manifesto says:

I will quote -- [Interruption.] Do you want the page?

I will quote:

Page 45, the “King James Version”.

It says:

“And we will guarantee an annual growth rate of at least 8 per cent.”

And what do we find in the Budget highlight? It is 5.9 per cent. [Interruptions.] That is even at the beginning. Better still, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) manifesto tells us that -- [Interruption.] Order 91, Madam Speaker.

Madam Speaker, I came under Order 91 to tell my Hon Friend, the Minister
Dr. Matthew Prempeh 12:30 p.m.

for Communications that he made two misleading statements. The National Democratic Congress (NDC) Budget that has become Ghana's Budget of 2009 is founded on the NDC manifesto of 2008 that guarantees at least an annual growth rate of 8 per cent. They have started with 5.9 per cent.
Mr. H. Iddrisu 12:30 p.m.
Madam Speaker, I will respond to the Hon Prempeh appropriately in the course of the -- I was dealing with the issue of whether the Budget offers hope for employment or not. And I referred you to paragraph 708 and with your indulgence, Madam Speaker, may I further quote paragraph 798:
“Graduate unemployment has been identified as a disincentive for pursuing higher education and investment in education.”
Dr. Osei 12:30 p.m.
Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order, Order 93 (4) and with your permission, I quote: 93 (4) --
“The speech of a Member must have reference to the subject matter under discussion.”
My good Friend made reference to a Price Waterhouse Report which is neither in the Budget nor in this House. I do not know where that is coming from. He referred to the manifesto which is the basis of the Budget. He is talking about a Price Waterhouse Report which is not in the Budget nor is it before us. Madam Speaker, please ask him to follow the Order 93 (4) and he can withdraw that statement. We do not know anything about that document.
Mr. H. Iddrisu 12:30 p.m.
Madam Speaker, my comment was specific on the School Feeding Programme and the fact that there is an audit report by Price Waterhouse on this subject which a Member who spoke earlier made reference to. But Madam Speaker, I am dealing with the promise of employment for young people in the Budget. May I further refer you to paragraph 799 of the Budget Statement, page 181 and I quote with your indulgence.
“Madam Speaker, the private sector and other stakeholders will be encouraged to absorb unemployed graduates after national service in fields such as accountancy, ICT, banking, marketing, hotel manage- ment, teaching and procurement.”
Madam Speaker, clearly this gives an
indication that some opportunities could be made available for young people to get employed. There is no way that the public investment programme of His Excellency the President, whether it is in housing, or whether in road construction, will not create job opportunities for the people.
Much more significantly, Madam Speaker, in the same Budget Statement, the Minister for Finance hinted at some allocation being made to provide free school uniform and free exercise books. The manufacture of those items would be done locally, and that amounts to the domestication of the economy which will create job opportunities for the Ghanaian. His Excellency the President is committed to strengthening and supporting indigenous Ghanaian businesses.
The school uniform will not be imported from China as we witnessed in the time past. Madam Speaker, it would be produced locally by local Ghanaian entities which would not only go to support employment in government
revenue but also support the growth of the private sector.
Mr. Frederick Opare-Ansah 12:30 p.m.
Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order, Order 93 (4). As earlier pointed out by Hon Dr. Anthony Akoto Osei, the Member for Old Tafo, indeed, the document that the Hon Minister for Communications made reference to is not before this House. For that matter, he is indeed making reference to a subject matter which is not before this House.
We should all remember that during the debate on the Report of the Appointments Committee which led to the approval by the majority decision of the Minister for Foreign Affairs, although the Auditor- General's Report had, as it were, given clear indications that the Minister had faulted in certain areas -- [Interruptions] -- That is exactly my point.
We were not even allowed to debate that matter, neither at committee nor in this House, precisely because it was said that this report was not before Parliament. And so if there is some report about school feeding and it is not yet -- unless he is prepared to table that report here then we can all take a look at it and debate it otherwise it will not be fair to refer to the school feeding institution as it were, to make this sort of comment here. And I believe my Hon Colleague will do all of us good by withdrawing that so that it is duly expunged from the record.
Madam Speaker 12:30 p.m.
If you want my
ruling I think it has relevance. So carry on, please.
Mr. H. Iddrisu 12:30 p.m.
Madam Speaker, thank you. I only made reference to it because the subject of school feeding and the commitment of Government was being questioned.
Madam Speaker, may I refer you to page 24 of the Budget Statement, in particular paragraph 94 and with your indulgence, I quote:
“Madam Speaker, in 2008, gross public debt rose by about US$600 million to an end-year position of US$8,002.5 million, which is about 8.1 per cent increase over the 2007 position of US$7,405.5 million.”
Madam Speaker, today we have an external debt of more than US$7.1 billion. What more can you use to describe the economy other than a challenging economy because debt servicing imposes an obligation on Government. And Madam Speaker, may I further refer you to the abridged version of the Budget in particular, page 5: Item 9. “Statutory payments projected for the year include”: and with your indulgence I quote:
“External Debt Service estimated at GH¢855.1 million.”
Madam Speaker, what this means is that but for the servicing of the debt, can you imagine how many schools, how many boreholes, how many clinics this GH¢855.1 million would have been used for? So to say that the Minister has inherited a challenging economy or a shattered economy, is about being accurate. What that means, Madam Speaker, is that, and the Minister hinted at it, we have to emphasize on reducing the debt. We must have fiscal prudence.
Madam Speaker, another major factor which contributed to slippages in Government expenditure was the manage-
ment of wages at which the Minister for Finance again hinted, in working together with labour to resolve the matter of a single spine salary structure to address issues of labour.
Madam Speaker, if you look at His Excellency the President's State of the Nation Address, and further supported by the abridged version of the Budget, I heard some comments that there is no commitment in the Budget to reducing the size of Government and the fact that there are still titles of “Majority Leader and Minister for Presidential Affairs”.
Madam Speaker, let us compare the statistics. Under the previous Adminis- tration we had twenty-seven Ministries; this has been reduced to twenty-three. The number of Ministers was up to eighty- eight, including about seventeen more Special Assistants and Spokespersons. I could go on with the list.
Dr. Osei 12:40 p.m.
My good Friend obviously was not here when Hon Joe Ghartey was telling us about the expenditure in the Office of Government Machinery going up. He was not here. He is misleading the House.
Madam Speaker 12:40 p.m.
Order what?
Dr. Osei 12:40 p.m.
Order 91. He talked about slippages in the wage bill. Madam Speaker, is he saying that the increase in the minimum wage to Ghanaian workers is what he is calling a slippage? If that is what he means, he should tell all the
Ghanaian workers that because they got a wage increase of 15 per cent, he as an MP is calling that a slippage. He should clarify that statement.
Some Hon Members 12:40 p.m.
Mr. H. Iddrisu 12:40 p.m.
Madam Speaker, as Ranking Member of the Committee on Finance, the Dagombas have a proverb that, when you are sitting before food which is on fire and being boiled, it is always important to be patient because when it is ready for consumption you will partake in it.
Madam Speaker, he knows that when the Hon Minister for Finance appears before your Committee to which he is Ranking Member, the specific breakdown of what constitutes the 248 million for Government Machinery will be made known. Apart from the Millennium Challenge Account, matters of ex-gratia of persons under article 71 are all captured under that in that budget. That is why the figure has gone up. I could go on.
But Madam Speaker, may I now refer to -
Dr. Osei 12:40 p.m.
Madam Speaker, he is grossly misleading this House. When the Minister for Finance comes, he will also tell us that no budgetary allocation has been made for National Identification Scheme under the same Ministry. So the Budget will be higher and it has not been budgeted for. So he is grossly misleading this House.
Mr. H. Iddrisu 12:40 p.m.
Madam Speaker, additional to what makes the Government Machinery looks high, is that we do not have a Minister for private sector. All the allocations made for the private sector, except those that are specific, are going into the Office of the President under Government Machinery.
But Madam Speaker, I wanted to deal with the specific issue of the increase in airport tax. The Hon Minister for Finance ably announced, that as part of his measures to improve upon revenue mobilization, he is adjusting up that tax from US$50 to US75.
Papa Owusu-Ankomah 12:40 p.m.
Madam Speaker, on a point of order. The Hon Member was misleading the House. He is saying that there was a Minister for Private Sector Development. Under the last Administration, as at the time that we handed over, there was no Minister for Private Sector Development. We had a Ministry for Trade, Industry, Private Sector Development and President's Special Initiatives.
Madam Speaker 12:40 p.m.
This is a point of correction. Can you carry on.
Mr. H. Iddrisu 12:40 p.m.
Madam Speaker, the Hon Senior Member for whom I have so much respect knows that before he assumed that enlarged capacity, there was a Ministry of Private Sector led by Hon Kwamena Bartels, just for the records. There was a Ministry of Private Sector and Presidential Special Initiatives. He can check his records. Not at the time he was leaving but when he assumed office along the line, it is a matter of fact that it existed.
Madam Speaker, may I refer you once again to the abridged version of the Budget Statement for which the Hon Minister for Finance must be commended, with an
Mr. H. Iddrisu 12:40 p.m.

initiative and in particular, I am quoting paragraph 39:

“In order to address funding for large scale commercial agriculture, Government will review the Export Development and Investment Fund (EDIF) Law to include the use of the fund for agricultural investment and infrastructure.”

Consistent with His Excellency's determination to modernize agriculture, he is looking for alternative sources of funding. Originally, the Export Develop- ment and Investment Fund was narrowed to supporting people in the export sector. What do they export? They export agricultural commodities.

It only makes sense, Madam Speaker, for a review of this law to allow for some allocation to be made to support the agricultural sector which is the hallmark of the Ghanaian economy; whether in the area of employment, it offers 60 per cent employment to Ghanaians, a contribution to GDP growth rate, heavily dependent on the same agriculture. So this means that some resources will be made available to support farming.

It is also important, Madam Speaker, to highlight some other comments that the Minister made about agriculture; a commitment to expand the production of rice. Reference was made to Aveyime rice project and northern Ghana; a commit- ment to increase the production of cotton and mango; a commitment to review the irrigation projects in the Afram Plains and also in the Accra Region, all to be supported with agriculture; because not until we learn to feed ourselves, we will continue to suffer balance of payments deficits as we witnessed in 2008.

At the end of the year, when even

their promise in 2001 was to reduce rice import by a minimum of 30 per cent, when the figure was hovering around US$100 million per annum, today, we are spending more than US$400 million in importing rice. More to it, they would go and reduce import tariffs on rice and poultry to collapse the Ghanaian local rice industry and poultry farming.

His Excellency the President, through the Minister for Finance, is making a commitment to Ghanaian local rice farmers and to Ghanaian poultry farmers that he will revive their businesses.
Mr. Ernest Debrah 12:40 p.m.
I rise on Order 91. Hon Iddrisu is deceiving Hon Members of this House. The quotations he is making right now are things that have been done already. They are things that are existing. It is not that the Government is committed to doing that. They are existing, Madam Speaker. That is the correction, Madam Speaker.
Mr. H. Iddrisu 12:50 p.m.
Madam Speaker, the Hon Minister for Finance also hinted at the development of the MPs Development Fund which will replace MPs benefiting from the District Assemblies Common Fund which has been a source of worry to many Members of Parliament. It has been a source of conflict between MPs and District Chief Executives, not even in cases where the DCE comes from the same party.
Madam Speaker, what the Minister for Finance promises is that under the previous administration, the percentage of the District Assemblies Common Fund was increased to 7.5 -- commendable initiative -- by them but the Minister for Finance is now hinting that, that one per cent addition will now be used to support Hon Members of Parliament Develop- ment Fund so that MPs can make the needed timely interventions in order to
keep their constituencies stable.
Madam Speaker, this is commendable. One per cent of total Government revenue; they should do their calculation. Prof. Gyan-Baffour is seated in front of them. If they want to benefit from his wisdom they should ask him, what that one per cent means. He will help them.
Madam Speaker, finally, let me touch on the communications sector. Madam Speaker, the Hon Minister for Finance hinted that there has been significant growth in tele-density in our country. A liberalized telecom industry started somewhere in 1997, but by the time the previous Government left office, we had six licences meant for mobile telephoning.
The problem with which I would urge the Minister for Finance to work on is that, the tele-density is an urban phenomenon. There are many people in the rural areas who still cannot access telephone and that is why it is again commendable that in the Budget Statement the Minister for Finance hinted at a step by Government to expand access to fixed telephoning, particularly in rural Ghana and that will be done this year. The country will be zoned into five or six blocks to allow for private sector participation in the expansion of that work. That will be creating some opportunities.

Madam Speaker, we are also taking some initiatives at number portability. Many of the service providers are excited about it and they will join. Indeed, Zain, which has a 3-G network, is already taking advantage of that; and that will also be added.

Madam Speaker, I have heard comments from the other side. When the Minister for Finance announced reduction in prices of petroleum products via some review of the taxes, particularly social mitigation levy, it reminded me of six months ago when Government was confronted with the global food crisis. The options they looked for was to reduce prices.

What was the impact of that reduction on the Ghanaian consumer? [Interrup- tion] -- It was insignificant; that is why the Minister has hinted that he is determined to protect the local Ghanaian industry and for that reason, he will re- introduce that tax regime.

I could not have ended well, Madam Speaker, without a comment on the accelerated Savannah Development Programme and the hint by the Minister for Finance to review the Northern Development Fund -- a good initiative of the previous administration -- except that they failed to assure that fund of adequate and sustainable source of funding. What they had to do was to rely on donations, budgetary support and others.

The commitment that the Minister for Finance makes is that -- one, he recognizes the high incidents of poverty, particularly, in Northern Ghana and in sections of Brong Ahafo and Volta Region. The Savannah is not strictly defined to include the Savannah belt of Ghana, no; it does include deprived areas in Brong Ahafo and some areas in the Volta Regions.

Government will make a commitment to review the Northern Development Fund Act and replace same with the Accelerated Savannah Development Programme in order to bridge the gap between the North and the South, rural and urban Ghana and provide opportuni-ties for the people in that area through support in agriculture.
Dr. Kojo Appiah-Kubi (NPP - Atwima-Kwanwoma) 12:50 p.m.
Thank you, Madam Speaker, for giving me the permission to comment on the Budget Statement made on the floor of the House.
Dr. Appiah-Kubi 12:50 p.m.
It contains a lot; the Budget contains a lot, but nothing new. And even, the format, as has been said, is just a photocopy of past Budget copies -- a shallow photocopy of past Budgets.
Madam Speaker, let me talk about poverty and how the NPP Government reduce poverty in Ghana.
Mr. Pelpuo 12:50 p.m.
On a point of order. Madam Speaker, the Hon Member has just made a statement which I think under Order 91, he is completely and grossly mis-leading the House.
Madam Speaker 12:50 p.m.
It is rather Order 92 (b).
Mr. Pelpuo 12:50 p.m.
Madam Speaker, the Hon Member just said that the Budget is based on an economic management that has been handed down from the NPP Adminis-
tration. The reason why this is not true is the fact that the economic superstructure that we have today has been handed over to us from the PNDC Structural Adjustment Policy, which enabled the NDC to thrive on it and to develop it and then to go through all the storm.
Madam Speaker, we started off with an economy that was minus 14 per cent; and today that economy has been stabilized by the NDC Administration. And so it is out of order for him to say that we are enjoying an economic order that they have set; it is not true, Madam Speaker, and I think he should correct himself.
Madam Speaker 12:50 p.m.
Thank you. Hon Members, I think if we go strictly by the rules and the Orders, we will get more work done. There is that section under Order 92(b) and if I may just remind you, it says
“. . . to elucidate some matter raised by the Member speaking in the course of his speech, provided that the Member speaking is willing to give way and resume his seat, and that the Member wishing to interrupt is called by the Speaker.”
Last time I raised this matter and I think it was Hon Mensah or Hon John Tia Akologu who said that if we went strictly, nobody would have the chance to say anything. And so I have relaxed the rules a little and I call some people. If it is just to correct a point, then I am sure the Hon Member speaking will give way, but if it is to really contribute in terms of substance of the debate then, I will stop it at a certain level. So let us go according to the rules. If it is just to correct a point or to elucidate some material raised -- Yes, upon this can you come in.
Dr. Appiah-Kubi 1 p.m.
Thank you Madam Speaker. Let me continue by talking about poverty and how the NPP Government
managed to deal with the social ill of poverty.
Indeed, poverty has many dimensions, including low income, hunger and malnutrition, ill-health, illiteracy, poor access to potable water and sanitation and insecurity. It is no doubt that the NPP Government managed to combat these social ills during its eight-year regime.
Income poverty for instance, reduced under the NPP regime from 40 per cent in 1999 to about 26 per cent in 2008. This is even confirmed by the Budget in page 263 paragraph 1083.
“Madam Speaker, according to GLSS-5, national poverty incidence was 28.5 per cent in 2005/2006, down from 39.5 per cent in 1998/99 indicating a decline of 11 percentage points. Every year the share of the population living in poverty fell on average by about 1.5 percentage point”.
This is a performance which is worth commending.
I believe that if the NDC regime is to continue with this performance, then it will have to do a bit more than what it has presented to us in the Budget.

Madam Speaker, in paragraph 1084, for instance, the same Budget talks about the number of people who have been lifted from poverty over a period of time.

“In terms of absolute numbers, the total number of poor decreased from 7.2 million in 1999 to 6.2 million in 2006”.

In view of this performance, it is important to note that Ghana is on track

to achieving the middle income status and achieving the Millennium Development Goals that it has set for itself and this is also confirmed in paragraph 1086 page 263. It says, that, and Madam Speaker, with your permission I beg to quote:

“Madam Speaker, Ghana appears to be on track with this first MDG, having managed to halve extreme poverty since 1990”.

A lot has also been achieved in the area of eradicating hunger due to improvement in food security in terms of access, in of utilisation. The country has managed to produced the proportion of people below the extreme poverty line from 36 per cernt in 2008. This is indeed an achievement that has never been made in the history of Ghana.

It is also important to note that this performance and this, indeed applies to all localities in Ghana, and even to the poorest parts of this country, including the Northern Region. They all benefited from the rapid decline in poverty incidence.

A similar feat has been achieved in the areas of water, in literacy rates, and in a whole lot of other areas. This performance was as a result of policy measures that were put in place by the NPP Government. The NPP Government developed policy measures and programmes under the GPRS II and increased investments in areas that are typically poverty related in increased investment, in basic education, in primary health care, poverty focused agriculture, rural water, feeder roads, rural areas.

These investments were also boosted with increased spending in social protection programmes, such as the LEAP, micro credit for the poor females and people with disabilities and other things.
Dr. Appiah-Kubi 1:10 p.m.
It also increased poverty reduction investment. Between 2004 and 2008 for instance, poverty investments incresed from about ¢0.5 billion to about ¢1.5, ¢1.6 billion. On the average, poverty reduction expenditures accounted for about 31 per cent of government expenditure. Let us look at the NDC initiatives as they find expressions here in the Budget and when you examine the Budget. indeed there is nothing new in the Budget that differs from what we have already reimplemented. Contrary to political rhetoric and as I have said, this Budget could have been read with few changes by an NPP Finance Minister.
A lot of names have been given to this
Budget. I would not like to add my voice to that name but you know the name that has been given to it. And it is indeed one of these Budgets.
In the year 2009 the NDC Government, for instance, would like to pursue the good policies of the NPP Government. It wants to increase investment in 2009 from 1.6 billion to 1.9 billion. This is a laudable increase in investment, indeed, but we believe there are policy recommendations that we want to make. In other words, the NPP would not relent in its efforts to make constructive suggestions, constructive criticisms to move this country forward.
But I must say that whilst we support Government investments in poverty reduction, we would like to advise against the temptation of making the Government an agent for poverty reduction. The Government indeed, is not the agent of poverty reduction. It is just a facilitator for poverty reduction. It should facilitate the private sector to create jobs, it should facilitate individuals to create wealth so that they can reduce their own poverty.
To be able to do that, and as I said, the essence of government policy is to reduce poverty and this can be done and the best way to do it is to expand the economy, is to grow. This can be done in this economy. Unfortunately, what we experienced in this Budget is that, this Budget which is supposed to bring the economy forward lacks a stimulus plan. You can observe this by looking at other foreign countries. In the United States of America for instance, whilst President Obama is putting forward a stimulus plan, what we are doing is just continuing with a plan that is already in place.
As I said earlier on, for this economy to
reduce or to accelerate poverty reduction, what we need to do is to grow the economy and to grow the economy, there is the need to tackle the three main groups of constraints of Ghana. These include the large size of the public sector, inadequate and inefficient investments and low agricultural productivity.
Madam Speaker, there is also the need for this country to have a development policy framework and I would like to advise our Hon Colleagues in the NDC Government not to substitute their NDC manifesto for the development policy framework of this country.
I know and I am aware that there is already in existence, a development policy framework -- the GPRS II which is supposed to expire this year. It is unfortunate that this Budget scarcely takes notice of the existence of this plan. It scarcely mentions it, and as I am also aware, there is a draft development plan policy which the NDC has also signed to adopt and has also pledged to implement. We can only hope that they would live up to expectation and they would live up to
their words.
Ghana has made success in the area of poverty reduction because of proper targeting. The Central Region for instance, is no more poor, or has poverty incidence which is even lower than the national average due to proper policy targeting.

It is therefore not necessary, probably, to initiate or single out the Central Region and create a divine corporation. What is needed is to concentrate more on bridging the gap between the North and South. It is therefore necessary also to talk about the Northern Development Plan which is already in existence. I do not think there is the need to reinvent the wheel; there is already in existence the Northern Development Plan backed by an Act with the seed money of about 20,000,000 dollars. Why do we have to create a new Authority?

Given the urgency of the need to reduce poverty in the Northern Region, it is proper to allow the Northern Development Plan to start work immediately rather than attempt to review that Act. What is he going to do? Just to change the name from Northern Development Plan to Savannah; I do not think there is any need for that.

The Government intends to promote

commercial agriculture as part of its urge to reduce poverty; and it is indeed a laudable effort which the Government intends to do. Given the fact that most of our people engage in commercial farming in the agricultural sector as small scale, how is the Budget going to deal with them?

The Budget is totally silent on that and I believe, to be able to reduce poverty in the area of agriculture where a lot of food farmers who constitute the bulk of the

On urban poverty; indeed poverty has reduced considerably in Ghana. But urban poverty is slowly becoming a problem. Unfortunately, the Budget talks scarcely about this problem. I believe it is important if you would like to reduce poverty in your urban cities; that we talk about urban poverty; and especially take vocational and technical skills training very, very seriously. These are issues that the Budget scarcely talks about.

A very important sector that the Budget

does not talk about is the informal sector. We often talk about poverty as having a rural face; but in actual fact, poverty has an informal face. The majority of the poor are engaged in the informal sector and we all know that about 86 per cent of the active population of Ghana is engaged in the informal sector; 94 per cent of all females are engaged in the informal sector.

These people constitute the poorest among the poor. So if we would like to reduce poverty, these are the people we need to focus a lot of attention on. It is unfortunate that the Budget does not talk about these people. It is in the light of this, that we from the New Patriotic Party (NPP) would like to tell the National Democratic Congress (NDC) that we are always ready to make constructive criticisms as a way of moving this country forward in the right direction. To them every direction is right; we believe that the only right direction is moving forward.
Mr. E. K. Bandua (NDC -- Biakoye) 1:10 p.m.
Thank you Madam Speaker, for the opportunity to contribute to the Budget Statement. Indeed, before I go into the substance of the Budget, I would want to make a few general observations about the
Mr. E. K. Bandua (NDC -- Biakoye) 1:10 p.m.
nature of the Budget Statements itself. It has been captured in so simple a language that it makes easy reading. I want to say that it is economics made simple so that everybody else can have access to it, read, appreciate and understand it [Hear! Hear!] -- That is the first point I want to make.
Secondly, the Budget is pro poor, like it has been said, it favours the poor and before I go into that, I want to just quote what the Budget Statement itself says about this very characteristic, and I quote from page 39 paragraph 153 of the Budget Statement. It says:
“Madam Speaker, the vision of the NDC Government is to adopt carefully designed policies and programmes that will stimulate and develop the immense talents and resourcefulness of Ghanaians and make them the main drivers and beneficiaries of the national development agenda, with special emphasis on the rural and urban poor”.
Madam Speaker, having quoted this very portion, I now intend going into the substance of the Budget. I want to begin with agriculture.
Indeed, Government has put in place several policies and intervention measures that would ensure that the agricultural sector is enhanced. Indeed, one of the problems facing the agricultural sector is lack of credit; but the very nature of that sector could be because it is very high risk financing at this sector, many banks are not willing to go in there and the Government intends to enhance the the Export Development and Investment Fund (EDIF), so that part of the money would be used to finance agriculture and provide some infrastructure. I believe that this would go a long way to make credit

available to the agricultural sector.

In addition to this, Government intends doing other things in the sector. In fact, in respect of fishing, Government intends to create some landing sites in various areas in the country, establish harbours and this would go a long way to assist the fishing industry.

When we come to sectors like food production, the Government intends to use VAT. Of late we have been importing rice on a very large scale and Government has realised that this has been a bane on the economy. It has been a very serious problem, so Government intends to impose import tax on the importation of rice, wheat and oil. I think that this would go a long way to protect some of our local farmers. If this is done they would be encouraged to produce more.

I would also advise that in doing these things, Government must put in place measures to ensure that prices are stable in the system. Otherwise when prices continue to fluctuate at a very high rate, farmers would not be encouraged to be in there.

There should be market; there is the need to make market available and Government can do this in several ways. For instance, during the first Republic, the Food Distribution Corporation was available. That institution ensured that when there was bumper harvest, food items were purchased and stored at various places. In fact Dr. Kwame Nkrumah put up silos all over the country. These silos are not being put into use.

I would urge tha t maybe the Government should try and see to it that a way is found to put these silos in use such that during periods of bumper
Mr. E. K. Bandua (NDC -- Biakoye) 1:20 p.m.
harvest, the food crops may be purchased and stored in there and during periods of lean season, these items might be sold out to ensure that distribution becomes fair and prices become a bit stable. That is for agriculture.
I want to talk about the National Health Insurance Scheme too. The Government intends to improve upon this system also. The one-time premium payment is a very good idea. I think it would assist all of us so that once you pay premium, you would not be worried about paying the second time. In addition to this, the Government aims to improve on the lot such that the challenges that were faced during the previous four years that have passed would be taken care of.

But there is one problem that is facing this sector - When people go to the hospitals and the hospitals are not able to provide drugs for them, they are asked to go to the drug stores or to the pharmacy to purchase these drugs. Many a time when the patients go there, the pharmacists and drug store operators are reluctant to sell the drugs to them because the Government does not pay back quickly, it does not reimburse them quickly.

So I would urge that maybe the Government would make sure that it looks at that sector such that if patients go to the drug stores and they purchase drugs, the drug stores are reimbursed quickly so that at least the drug stores would now be more willing to give out drugs to patients who come on the National Health Insurance Scheme ticket.

Madam Speaker, when we talk about

education too, the Government intends to make education affordable and cheap as much as is possible for all the citizens.
Mr. S. K. B. Manu 1:20 p.m.
Madam Speaker,
I come on Standing Order 91 to state that the Hon Member has made a misleading statement to the effect that school children are going to be given uniforms and he made it appear like it is a novelty. Already in the educational system, needy children are given school uniforms - [Interruptions.] It is already in operation, it is not a novelty and I challenge any-body who knows the educational system to challenge this statement I have made. It is ongoing and if it is to be continued, it should be put in such a way that Ghanaians would know that it is one of the good things that the
NPP Government started and they are going to continue. It is not a novelty.
Mr. Bandua 1:20 p.m.
Madam Speaker, I
would be grateful if the Hon Member over there can refer to the specific Budget Statement in which the NPP Government made that provision.
Madam Speaker, thank you very much, I intend to continue. Indeed, what is even very pleasing is that the NDC Government has realized the importance of Parliament in the whole system and has assured the House that it would put in place several systems that would enhance the work of Parliament during this period and in the years to come. In fact, it has made provisions in the Budget to ensure that committee rooms are provided so that effective work can take place in those areas.
In addition to this, we have been given an assurance in the Budget that the Job 600 will be fixed so that Members of Parliament would have offices. In fact, this is a very important thing which has been on my heart for a long time. One of the problems that we face in this House is that Members do not have offices and when we come here to work we are compelled to work from our vehicles or from the lobbies.
I think that this is not good enough and I would urge that immediate steps are taken to ensure that as a matter of urgency, Hon Members in this House are provided with offices if we are expected to work as effectively and efficiently as is expected of a Member of Parliament.
Indeed, in the State of the Nation Address, we were assured by H.E. the President that we would be given Research Assistants. Indeed, without offices these
Mr. S. K. B. Manu 1:20 p.m.
Once again,
Madam Speaker, thank you, and I am compelled to come under Standing Order 91 again.
Madam Speaker 1:20 p.m.
Hon Member, it is
Order 92.
Mr. Manu 1:20 p.m.
The Hon Member said in the Budget provision has been made to fix Job 600 so that Members would have offices. I would like him to tell us where in the Budget it is stated. It is a misleading statement which is being economical with the truth. It does not appear in this Budget. If he can help us locate that statement in the Budget I will be grateful to him.
Madam Speaker 1:20 p.m.
Well, I do not know how I will get to know whether the Hon Member will permit this intervention because I must hear him first.
Mr. Bandua 1:20 p.m.
Madam Speaker, for the information of the Hon Member, maybe he has not read the Budget but I will be generous enough to give him that section. Go to page 195, it is there. It is right there, the first sentence on the top. You may read it for yourself, I do not think I would bother myself reading it over.
Madam Speaker, I think one of the very good things that the Government intends to do which has been captured in the Budget is to intervene directly in the industrial sector and state enterprises to assist, or maybe establish some of these
Mr. Manu 1:30 p.m.
Madam Speaker, the Hon Member referred me to page 195, first bullet print, which with your indulgence I quote:
“Continue rehabilitation work on the conversion of the Tower Block (Job 600) into offices for MPs”.
Madam Speaker, I am aware of that. But if you go to the allocation side, how much has been allocated for that work? How much has been allocated? There is no allocation for that rehabilitation work. I can only remember that during the days of the late Speaker, Justice Annan, we were told, in this Chamber, that the money that was made available for the rehabilitation of the Job 600 for the purpose that Members will use it for offices were used to balance the budget. This is what we were told.
Mr. Twumasi-Appiah 1:30 p.m.
Speaker, it is quite obvious that my Hon Colleague has not read the Budget Statement. Indeed, if he looks at the same page 195, the last paragraph and it is meant for the Job 600 as my Hon Colleague here amply referred to. It is stated quite clearly there that GH¢29,726,273 is allocated. And indeed, the Hon Colleague did not speak about allocation but provisions. That is what he talked about. So, if he wants to know about allocation I am referring him again to the same page 195, the last paragraph, the allocation is there.
Mr. Manu 1:30 p.m.
Please, Madam Speaker
-- [Uproar.] We must read and understand what we are reading. What he has just read, he has read but perhaps he does not understand it.
Mr. Bandua 1:30 p.m.
Madam Speaker, thank
you for the opportunity to continue. I was told that this provision of Budget
is very good and it will go a long way to

provide jobs. But one thing that has been the bane of the Ghanaian economy is that when people are put in places to work -- management -- most of the time they fail us.

But those who are expected to exercise oversight responsibility over these institutions also fail in their duty such that at the end of the day, instead of the Government dealing with the problem, what the Government does is that it diversifies itself of the institution and lets the culprits who have been in charge when these institutions failed to achieve targets go free.

So I would urge that this time round inasmuch as rewards are given to those who perform, so must there be sanctions for those who under-perform such that everybody is held accountable for whatever position or whatever job he is given to do.

Madam Speaker, with these few words, I thank you for the opportunity.
Mr. Paul Okoh (NPP - Asutifi North) 1:40 p.m.
Thank you, Madam Speaker, for the opportunity to contribute to the motion on the floor.
Madam Speaker, when the National Democratic Congress (NDC) took over power and even before that, there were lots of sayings, people were going around telling people that the economic situation in the country was in shambles, and this was due to the mismanagement of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Government. Fortunately, the Hon Minister for Finance debunked this idea. He disagreed with that and on page four of the Budget Statement, if I may read:
“Madam Speaker, in his State of the Nation Address, H.E. the President highlighted the fundamentals of our current economic situation and predicament which include a large
fiscal and trade deficits, higher than expected rate of inflation, an increase in the national debt stock, and the depreciation in the value of the Cedi.”
“We also have to contend with low levels of productivity in agriculture, industry and manufacturing among others.”
“Externally, the world economy has been experiencing a severe credit crunch alongside the recent global energy and food price hikes.”
So from this, we are told that all those things that they were saying about the economic crisis in the country and attributing that to the Government of Ghana was not the doing of the Government of Ghana but it was due to global economic crisis.
In the State of the Nation Address,
His Excellency the President also made a similar submission and I would like to quote that one too, Madam Speaker:
“I have assumed office at a time of heightened anxiety and insecurity in the global economy. As I speak, the whole world has been gripped by a severe global economic downturn and associated re-cession. Millions of jobs have been lost in many countries.
The financial meltdown has defied logic and economic rationality. As things fall apart, institutions of global economies and financial management are under enormous stress. Such is the gravity of the crises that no nation can traverse these hard times alone, nor can we blame any single individual or government for causing this. The world needs a radical rethinking of
the rules, institutions and processes for global, social and economic management.”
Having read these two expositions from the Hon Minister for Finance and His Excellency, the President, I think my Hon Brothers and Sisters opposite will lay to rest the argument that the economic crisis in the country now is due to the mismanagement of the previous government.
Madam Speaker, I want to go on to
the Ministry of Employment and Social Welfare. As the Hon Members from this side who talked said, this Budget that we are treating today is a replica of what was given us last year by the NPP Govern-ment. If you go to the Ministry of Employ-ment and Social Welfare, formerly Ministry of Manpower, Youth and Employment, again the Hon Minister for Finance enumerated all the good policies, interventions and strategies that the Ministry puts together.
He talked about employment policy, Fair Wages Salaries Commission, Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) and that one, if I may refresh the memories of Hon Members, the NPP secured a grant of £6.2 million to build the capacity and provide logistic resources to the Department of Social Welfare and the Ministry; two, implement the National Social Protection Strategy which is called LEAP.
Madam Speaker, when we started with this social protection thing, what was heard was that the money that was being given to people was too small. I thought in this Budget, they were going to change it or even increase the amount of money that they are going to allocate but they have replicated the same thing here.
It means, as the former Minister for Justice and Attorney-General said, you are just enumerating the things and attaching new tags to them. You are reinventing the wheel and they are not bringing in any new thing. So Madam Speaker, these are the things that they are doing.
Better still, when we come to the National Youth Employment, when the President gave his State of the Nation Address, I was expecting that something would be said about the National Youth Employment Programme, unfortunately nothing was said. But I knew that the Budget would add meat or flesh to the skeleton of the Address.
What was done was that when this came in, the Hon Minister said they were going to revisit the National Youth Employment Programme. Unfortunately, they enumerated those modules that they were going to revisit and increase. But there were three modules which were conspicuously missing and these were: the module on sanitation, community policing and nursing.

Madam Speaker, if you look at these three modules, especially with that of sanitation, anybody here who is very sincere to himself or herself would agree with me that this module which is being implemented by Zoomlion -- Ghana has done a lot and it has impacted on the society, the nation so well.

The other time we had a Statement here and we were urging government to even increase or expand the Zoomlion's activities so that the sanitation problems that we are having in this country will be dealt with effectively. If this has not been done, I am expecting that with this new Government the expansion will take place. Even if you look at what is happening in Parliament here, now this is being
Mr. J. K. Avedzi 1:40 p.m.
On a point of order. Madam Speaker, I want to find out from the Hon Member if he is playing the role of a Public Relations Officer for Zoomlion. He is only here trying to advertise Zoomlion so he should restrict himself to the Budget and forget about Zoomlion which is not in the Budget.
Mr. Okoh 1:40 p.m.
Madam Speaker, I think
my Hon Colleague opposite needs some sort of education on the genesis of the National Youth Employment. The National Youth Employment Programme started in 2004 when all Heads of State of the sub-region met at Ouagadougou and decided that because of the problem with unemployment, especially with the youth, there should be some sort of programme to do away with unemployment.
This they said, would help do away with armed robbery, drug trafficking and other things and this was why the National Youth Employment Programme was established; and one of the modules that I am talking about is sanitation and in Ghana here the department that is dealing with this sanitation is Zoomlion-Ghana. This is why I am saying that we need in this Budget to even expand that module.
I was even coming back to the nursing module. Now if you go to our hospitals, we are talking of lack of doctors, lack of nurses, but with this nurses module, we would see that when we go to the hospitals
some of the other things that the nurses would have done, these community nurses who have been trained to go there, do these things and they give the real nurses ample time to be caring for us. This is the more reason why these modules that have been deleted from the Budget should be talked about and be given expansion so that we all help.
Mr. Abdul-Rashid Pelpuo 1:40 p.m.
On a point
of order. Madam Speaker, he is misleading the House and I want to come under Standing Order 92 (2). Madam Speaker, the Hon Member has just informed us that the department that deals with sanitation in this country is Zoomlion. We all know Zoomlion is a private enterprise and the man will be very unhappy if his company is politicized. I think that he should stop claiming credit for it.
The New Patriotic Party (NPP) should stop claiming credit for Zoomlion. It is a private enterprise. It is not a government department and he should not call it a department. Madam Speaker, his attention should be drawn to that; that man is a private man and doing his job.
Mr. Okoh 1:40 p.m.
Madam Speaker, I thought you made a ruling here that until the one speaking yields to the one who would want to make an intervention that person would not have the authority to talk. My Hon Colleague just cut in but I will take his advice. Maybe, I made a mistake by saying “the department”. But we are talking about Youth Employment Sanitation module which is being carried
on in sanitation by Zoomlion.
I will also talk about nursing. I was
going to talk about the fact that the National Youth Employment Programme has been taken away from the Ministry of Manpower, Youth and Employment. In fact, this is a misnomer if I should say so, because when we talk of national youth employment it is dealing with employment situation in the country for the youth. So to take it away from the Ministry to Youth and Sports, I think that is not very good; because if we do that all the expertise, all those directors and people who have been trained over there will be there and nobody would see to the implementation of all these youth employment programmes.
Again, I said it is that Ministry that has the responsibility of sourcing funding for this programme and because of that if we are not very careful and we take away the youth employment from the Ministry of Employment and Social Welfare, that will be very dangerous. I am advising that, we do not take this away from the Ministry and put it at a place where it will be redundant and will not be useful to Ghanaians.
Madam Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity.
ANNOUNCEMENTS -- 1:40 p.m.

Madam Speaker 1:40 p.m.
I have received correspondence from the President and if I may read:
“10th March, 2009

PRESIDENT 1:40 p.m.




ADDO 1:40 p.m.












OF GHANA 1:50 p.m.



Madam Speaker 1:50 p.m.
Hon Members, I think I will call another Member. We have a few minutes before two o'clock. He is Hon Dr. Owusu Afriyie. At least you can start, if you do not finish, you will continue tomorrow; unless you are very short.
Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto 1:50 p.m.
Madam Speaker, can I have the opportunity first thing tomorrow morning?
Madam Speaker 1:50 p.m.
Well, it is not two o'clock, and I had intended to go on to two; then I will not suspend the Sitting; adjourn it to another day. So can you start?
Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto (NPP -- Kwadaso) 1:50 p.m.
Madam Speaker. I am making a contribution to this debate in the area of agriculture and cocoa affairs as it relates to this Budget.
But before then, I think I would like to draw the attention of the House to the statement which Hon Haruna Iddrisu made this afternoon or late this morning about the public debts. And it is an issue which keeps coming up in this House, and the Hon Members opposite are
Madam Speaker 1:50 p.m.
The point that
was raised was Order 92 (b) to elucidate some matter raised by the Hon Member speaking in the course of - You have done that, so carry on. You do not need to convince him. You have elucidated it.
Dr. Akoto 2 p.m.
Madam Speaker, as I have said, the main intervention is in the area of agriculture and cocoa. And Madam Speaker, this document which contains the Budget, clearly shows that whoever wrote the agriculture and cocoa sectors of this

Budget does not understand the structure of agriculture economy of this country; because agriculture in this country is produced by millions and millions of small-hold farmers in villages across the country, and we know that.

The amount of production which is produced by large-scale farmers are insignificant, very small. And yet, most of the efforts that they seek to promote agriculture in, is in the area of large scale, not small scale, and because of that you see there is no provision for two of the biggest constraints in agriculture in this country, which are: farm credits to our small farmers, and two, an assured market for their produce.

Today, there is a big headline in the newspapers, three tomato farmers in the Northern Region have committed suicide because of the lack of credit. [Interruptions.] In the Upper East Region Madam Speaker, I was expecting that this Budget would cater for credit for small-scale farmers. For instance, I was expecting that the Budget will show an indication of the collaboration between central Government and the commercial banks in order to make subsidized credit available to our small scale-farmers.

There is absolutely nothing in this book [Raising book] to show that the Government is thinking of small-scale farmers. There is nothing in this book, Madam Speaker, to show that the Government is making any effort to address the acute marketing situation which not only farmers in the Upper East face but also tomato farmers in Offinso in Ashanti and other places face. So they do not give any hope, there is absolutely no hope in this book for small-scale farmers in villages across the country. [Interruptions.]
Madam Speaker 2 p.m.
Order! Order!
always talking about the fact that there had been an increase in public debts between the time that the NPP Administration took over in 2000 and now.
Madam Speaker, I would like to draw attention to the fact that debts are not discussed in absolute. It depends upon the capacity to service the debts; and you cannot talk about debts without reference to the income of the country that you are discussing. And we know that the GDP of Ghana has risen considerably between the time that the NPP Administration took over in 2001 and now. At the time, the GDP of Ghana was less than $4 billion and the public debt was about 189 per cent of GDP; and that was a crisis percentage.
Now, we are talking about GDP which is over GH¢16 billion and a debt which is only less than 50 per cent of GDP. So I want to correct that impression that is being created by our friends opposite. Anytime they talk about public debts, they talk about it in terms of absolutes and not in terms of relative capacity of the economy to service the debts, and that is a point that I want to put on record.
Mr. J. K. Avedzi 2 p.m.
Madam Speaker, I rise on Order 91. The statement he made that the debt to GDP is less than 50 per cent is not the case. The debt to GDP currently is 52 per cent; therefore, it cannot be less than 50 per cent. This is a fact, I want to put it right.
Dr. Akoto 2 p.m.
Madam Speaker, I think this intervention was totally unnecessary.
It is splitting hairs, really. 50 to 52, it could be 51, 52, 49; but we are talking in terms of a 189 per cent debt which the NDC Administration left this country in 2000, and I think that is very important. In relative terms 50 per cent, 51 per cent, it does not really matter.
The essential thing is that the size of the debts that the NPP Administration has left this country at the beginning of this year is far, far less in terms of the size of our GDP than what we took over in 2000, and that is a fact.
Madam Speaker 2 p.m.
Hon. Member, I
Dr. Akoto 2 p.m.
Thank you very much, you
have been very kind to me.
Mr. Avedzi 2 p.m.
Madam Speaker, I rise on
Order 91(a). My point of order is that the Hon Member is trying to praise the NPP Administration that they had been able to bring the debt of GDP ratio down to below 50 per cent, but he has not added that it was after the HIPC relief and the multi- donor support had been given to Ghana -- [Uproar] -- If those were added the debts to GDP ratio would have been more than 200 per cent, so he should know.
Dr. Akoto 2 p.m.
Madam Speaker, I am sorry, but I do not think we need these
Dr. Akoto 2 p.m.
And I wonder. The only positive thing they talked about is that Export Development and Investment Fund (EDIF) is going to be made accessible for agriculture production but which type of farmers can go to EDIF? We are talking about the large-scale farmer going to EDIF leaving aside the large majority of farmers in this country who cannot access such credit from EDIF but can access rural credit from rural banks and so on and there is absolutely no mention of that and there is great disappointment. But not only that, there is a mention of further training of extension officers.
Secondly, they are talking about providing improved seeds but where is the link between these two? It is the fertilizer and where is it covered in this book? There is nothing about the arrangement that had been made for fertilizer supply to small farmers in this country. In that respect the technological advancement that we expect to see are not going to happen because the Government has forgotten about the critical input of fertilizer supply to the small-scale farmers and that is a huge gap in the whole arrangement.
Madam Speaker, I will just jump on to
the question of cocoa. The way the cocoa sector has been treated in this Budget is to say the least very disappointing. It is as if there is nobody who has any expertise about cocoa matters in this country.
First of all, what is happening is very, very straightforward. In the last ten years, Madam Speaker, we know that there has been tremendous increase in cocoa production. Cocoa is the single biggest crop in the economy of Ghana and the output from cocoa has doubled.
We also know that this doubling of output has taken place on the initiatives

of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Administration from 2001 with a hi-tech input and the mass spraying programme. And that has brought about a huge increase on our production from 350 metric tonnes, Madam Speaker, to 700,000 and there is a target of a million metric tonnes, the highest that this country will ever see in the next two years.

There is absolutely no mention of such an achievement and any assurance from this Government that they would make resources available to enable us to attain the one million mark although we have planted the seedlings all over the country, especially in the Western Region where we expect most of this production to come from. Madam Speaker, as you know the last hundred years or one hundred and ten years cocoa has remained the single biggest export item for this country. And therefore it was with the right vision that the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Adminis- tration focused on productivity increases in order to increase the output.

Now what is happening, we do not have any lead in this Budget as to what they intend to do about productivity. The only lead we have, Madam Speaker, is when His Excellency came to this House to address us on the issue and what it means here we are talking about a target yield of 1,250 kg per hectare to 1,750 hectare. Madam Speaker, I am totally baffled who gave them those figures to include in His Excellency's Budget, I do not know; because I have been all over the world, to all the major cocoa and coffee producing countries, from Latin America to Asia to Africa.

The highest technology we find in cocoa is in Bahia Province in Brazil and even there they do not get a 1,000 kg per hectare and he was saying that the leading cocoa farmer in this country is going to get 1,250 kg per hectare. Who told them that?

Who told them that? Who told them that? It is not possible. That is a pie in the sky. In English you call that a pie in the sky.

Madam Speaker, my Hon Colleague is asking for the source; he should go to Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG) at Tafo, he should go to Cocoa House about three miles from here and they will tell him. And yet, Madam Speaker, we are told in this House that if you have 1.5 million hectares of cocoa and we are producing 700, a primary school child will tell you the average yield, it is about 450 kg per hectare. And His Excellency comes here and he says he is targeting three times that. Where is he going to get that from?
Mr. Isaac Osei 2 p.m.
On a point of order. Madam Speaker, this is just for the information of the House. And I am reading from page 53 of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) manifesto. It says that the Government of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) will aim to increase the yield per hectare of cocoa to about 700 kg per hectare. The National Democratic Congress (NDC) manifesto is right and the President is wrong. And Hon Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto is definitely right.
Dr. Akoto 2 p.m.
Thank you, Madam Speaker, and I thank Hon Isaac Osei for the confirmation.
Madam Speaker, if we can have some quiet in this House I can finish my
Madam Speaker 2:10 p.m.
You have.
Dr. Akoto 2:10 p.m.
Madam Speaker, thank you. Madam Speaker, you know about the concept of diversification -- that cocoa is a mono crop in this country; it is the only agricultural crop that we export. Since 1915, Madam Speaker, it has always been the policy of governments to diversify out of cocoa, in other words, to encourage other crops to be grown. That has not succeeded. And I must admit, the NPP Administration did not succeed. But that does not give a reason for the NDC Government to carry on as if nothing has happened.
Madam Speaker, I want to refer to this document, if they will give me the chance to make a quick reference where they are talking about targeting oil palm, cotton, and I think, cashew with a target per year of 200 hectares each. Madam Speaker, I do not know; as I keep saying, I keep wondering whoever wrote or thought of these targets? Because three crops -- oil palm alone -- We came with the Presi-dent's Special Initiative (PSI). We now have one of the best oil palm research institutes in the whole of Africa which produces palm nuts for raising of seedlings and they can produce hundreds of thousands of seedlings a month.
You go to Kade and find out; they will tell you. You just have to take a little trouble to go to Kade, Ghana Palm Oil Research Institute and they will give you all the information. To just target 200 hectares a year is so timid and the timidity is reflected throughout this document.
Wherever you go, they do not have any bold initiatives to give to the people of Ghana, to transform the economy of this country, to let people see some hope
Mr. Hodogbey 2:10 p.m.
Madam Speaker, I rise under Order 91(a). In his contribution, he made mention of cocoa as the only export product from agriculture. It is not true [Interruptions.]
Dr. Akoto 2:10 p.m.
I did not say that.
Mr. Hodogbey 2:10 p.m.
Secondly, he continued to blame or to attack the NDC Admi- nistration. What I want to tell him is that cocoa, at least, now with the agricultural technology, within three years, we can get cocoa; five years we can get cocoa beans. The question is, for the eight years

that NPP was in power, how much of an acreage of cocoa were they able to grow, to expand in this field? He should tell us.
Madam Speaker 2:10 p.m.
Thank you, Hon Member. Hon. Akoto, can you continue please?
Dr. Akoto 2:10 p.m.
Madam Speaker, thank you. I am almost coming to the end of my contribution. But the main remaining point that I want to make -- and I will want the other side -- because Ghana is for us all; we want the best for this country and that is the essence of these debates, Madam Speaker. I am very sure they are aware of that. So they should take it in good faith and not that this is just an ordinary criticism.
The only credit I can see in this book as far as agriculture is concerned is that they seem to have identified the right crops for diversification, that is shea nuts, coffee and one or two others. But Madam Speaker, when I read through there is no clue as to how these crops are going to be supported to diversify the agricultural economy of this country and that is a great source of disappointment to me.
Madam Speaker, since I am talking about food and agriculture we had been fed the starter and the starter was the document by His Excellency the President, Prof. Mills presented, the State of the Nation Address. The starter was not very palatable. But we were just waiting that the main meal will come with something sumptuous. Unfortunately, when the main meal came we just had half baked cassava sticks and half baked plantain, which cannot even form the fufu. And there is no soup and there is no meat, which is a great disappointment to the people of Ghana and we hope that next time they will do better.
Madam Speaker 2:10 p.m.
At this stage I will adjourn the House.

  • The House was adjourned at 2.18 p.m. till 11th March, 2009 at 10.00 a.m.