Debates of 13 Mar 2009

PRAYERS 11 a.m.


Mr. Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 11 a.m.
For some-time now, the Appointments C o m m i t t e e h a s b e e n m e e t i n g . Unfortunately, their meetings have not been captured in any of the Votes and Proceedings and I thought that it is an oversight from the Table Office. We have met, if I recollect correctly, on not less than ten occasions and yet there has not been any occasion that our meetings have been captured inthe Votes and Proceedings. That is number one.
Number two, Madam Speaker, on page 6, item 5, (g), yesterday a correction was effected in the name of Hon Nana Yaw E. Ofori-Kuraga and I thought we should have left it to the Table Office. There was a title “Mr.” preceding the name and indeed that is how it should be captured because the “Nana” in his name is part of his name, it is not a title. So the correct rendition should be “Mr. Nana Yaw E. Ofori-Kuraga” because “Nana” in the name is not a title. And so that is how it should be correctly captured.
Besides all these, Madam Speaker, and I think I have been raising this matter on a couple of occasions, “In attendance,” to

many of these committee meetings, we have people or officers from Parliament and often times, we have stated “Office of Parliament.” Madam Sepaker, I believe that Parliament as an institution is an Arm of Government and I think it should be approporiately captured. So we should either say “Parliament House” or Parliament, simpliciter.

Madam Speaker, sometimes I find it very incongruous that letters to you are addressed, Madam Speaker, Office of Parliament. Madam Speaker, the entire Parliament is an institution, it is an Arm of Government, it is not an office and if we should allow ourselves to be sodescribed, of course, in budgetary allocations we would be so treated and I think the appropriate thing should be done.

Parliament is Parliament, Parliament House i s recognised as an Arm of Government and not an Office of Parliament.
Madam Speaker 11 a.m.
Hon Member, what do you say to that? Becuase from here, he is suggesting a change.
Mr. E.T. Mensah 11 a.m.
Madam Speaker, the Hon Minority Leader and I have discussed this outside this House and I support his stand.
Madam Speaker 11 a.m.
The Clerk should take note that it should be “Parliament House.”
Madam Speaker 11:10 a.m.
Item 3 -- the Business Statement for the Week.
Majority Chief Whip (Mr. E. T.
Mensah) (on behalf of the Majority Leader/Chairman of the Business Committee) --
Rt. Hon Speaker, the Committee met yesterday, Thursday, 12th March, 2009 and arranged Business of the House for the Tenth Week ending Friday, 20th March, 2009.
Rt. Hon Speaker, the Committee accordingly submits its report as follows:
Arrangement of Business
Papers and Reports
Rt. Hon Speaker, papers may be laid during the week and committee reports may also be presented to the House for consideration.
Statements and Motions
Rt. Hon Speaker may allow Statements duly admitted to be made on the floor of the House. Motions would be debated and their consequential Resolutions, if any, may also be taken.
Rt. Hon. Speaker, the debate on the Motion to approve the Financial Policy of the Government for the year ending, 31st December, 2009 will now be concluded on Tuesday, 17th March, 2009.
Meeting of the Leadership of the Business Committee and Chairpersons of Committees, et cetera.
Rt. Hon Speaker, Leadership of the Business Committee is scheduled to meet with Committee Chairpersons, Ranking Members and Committee Clerks on Monday, 16th March, 2009 at 12:00 noon at the Sir Emmanuel Charles Quist Conference Room, to discuss the schedule for submission of committee reports and
debate on the Annual Budget Estimates of the various Ministries, Departments and Agencies for 2009.
Reports of Committees on the 2009 Budget Estimates
Rt. Hon Speaker, the Business Committee wishes to impress upon committees to expedite action on the Budget Estimates so as to ensure that committee reports on the Budget Estimates would be submitted for consideration as scheduled.
Rt. Hon Speaker, in accordance with Standing Order 160 (2) and subject to Standing Order 53, the Committee submits to this honourable House the order in which the Business of the House shall be taken during the week.


Laying of Papers --

Tenth Report of the Appointments Committee on the President's nominations for Deputy Ministerial appointments.

Motions --

(a) Adoption of the Tenth Report of the Appointments Com-mittee on the President's nominations fo r Depu ty Min i s te r i a l appointments.

( b ) T h a t t h i s h o n o u r a b l e House approves the Financial Policy of the Government of Ghana for the year ending 31st December, 2009.

(Moved by the Minister for Finance, Dr. Kwabena Duffuor on Thursday, 5th March, 2009 and seconded by

Mr. Moses Asaga on Tuesday, 10th March 2009.)

Committee Sittings.

Statements Laying of Papers


Committee Sittings --

Discussion of Budget Estimates of Ministries, Departments and Agencies


Laying of Papers


Committee Sittings --

Continuation of discussion of Budget Estimates of Ministries, Departments and Agencies.


Laying of Papers --

Report of the Committee on Local Government and Rural Development on the Annual Budget Estimates of the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development for the year 2009.

Report of the Committee on Foreign Affairs on the Annual Budget Estimates of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration for the year 2009.

Report of the Committee on Youth, Sports and Culture on the Annual Budget Estimates of the Ministry of Chieftaincy for the year 2009.

Report of the Committee on Employment, Social Welfare and State Enterprises on the Annual Budget Estimates of the Ministry of Employment and Social Welfare for the year 2009.

Report of the Committee on Roads and Transport on the Annual Budget Estimates of the Ministry of Roads and Highways for the year 2009.

Report of the Committee on Works and Housing on the Annual Budget Estimates of the Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing for the year 2009.

Report of the Finance Committee on the Annual Budget Estimates of the Government Machinery for the year 2009.

Report of the Committee on Gender and Children on the Annual Budget Estimates of the Ministry of Women and Children's Affairs for the year


Report of the Judiciary Committee on the Annual Budget Estimates of the Judicial Service for the year


Report of the Committee on Trade, Industry and Tourism on the Annual Budget Estimates of the Ministry of Trade and Industry for the year


Committee Sittings --

Continuation of discussion of Budget Estimates of Ministries, Departments and Agencies.

Madam Speaker, today being Friday and since we are going to continue the discussion on the motion by the Hon Minister for Finance, in our quest to ensure that many more people have the opportunity to contribute, I want to humbly request Hon Members to minimise interruptions, if possible avoid interruptions, so that our other Hon Friends who have not had the opportunity to make any intervention at all may be able to make their interventions.

We have decided to move the conclusion of the debate to Tuesday so that we will give opportunity to many more of our Hon Colleagues to make their interventions.

Madam Speaker, so this is a humble appeal that I want to make. I rest my case.

Thank you very much.
Madam Speaker 11:20 a.m.
Hon Minority Leader, he is trying to get Hon Members -
Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 11:20 a.m.
Madam Speaker, I think that it is a very good appeal from the Hon Majority Chief Whip, (Mr. E. T. Mensah) which should be heeded by all. As he said, today is Friday and there are many within our ranks who would want to go to the mosque; and then also I do know for a fact that some people would want to embark on the long journey from Accra to Nadowli to attend the funeral of the deceased mother of the Majority Leader.
So I want to join in that appeal for Hon Members to allow the smooth flow of the debate. Often times, Hon Members who have come on points of order really end up arguing their own cases and I believe that we should disallow that. Madam Speaker, that lies with you.
But Madam Speaker, if I heard the Majority Chief Whip, in the presentation of the Business Statement for the 10th Week ending Friday, 20th March he prefaced the presentation with this statement, that the Majority Leader who happens to be the Chairman of the Business Committee is absent and that is why he was standing in for him to make the presentation.

Madam Speaker, the estimates of the various sectors, if the committees should be in a position to work on them, we appeal that the estimates as they relate to the various sectors should be supplied to the various committees latest before we adjourn today so that Hon Members could take them, analyze them over the weekend before the committees begin to sit, maybe, Tuesday and beyond. I would want to appeal to the leadership of the committees to work assiduously, given the shortness of the time that we have at our disposal.

But Madam Speaker, we have advertised; there is this advertisement as per bullet 3: Meeting of Leadership of the Business Committee and the Chairpersons of Committees on Monday to determine the schedule of the presentation of the reports. And even before that is done, we are told that Friday, committees are to submit their reports, lay their Papers in this
Dr. A. A. Osei 11:20 a.m.
Madam Speaker, I was just listening to my Minority Leader and he does not happen to be -- he is the Ranking Member on the Business Committee, not by happenstance. [Laughter.] So for him to be telling us that he is just finding out that, he has been told that there is a Business Committee meeting on Monday, I want him to tell us if he is not being provided the information; because he is the Ranking Member.
If he is not, then I want to raise a serious objection that my Minority Leader is not being informed properly and so we will consequently not be informed properly.
Madam Speaker 11:20 a.m.
I thought so too. Honourable?
Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 11:30 a.m.
Madam Speaker, I get the sense of what my Hon Colleague is saying. Unfortunately, yesterday I was not at the Business Committee meeting; my deputy was there and when we came, we had to attend to your own meeting. So I was not, admittedly, properly briefed on what had
happened. But we take it in our strides and I believe we would move on. That is not in any way to oppose what I referred to.
Mr. I. K. Asiamah 11:30 a.m.
Madam Speaker, I believe when the Majority Leader the other time did talk about the time frame for the debate I did raise an issue about the fact that the time is too limited and would not enable Hon Members to do real justice to the Budget.
Madam Speaker, I think I have been
vindicated. It is becoming clear that other Hon Colleagues who would want to contribute to the debate, for the sake of time and for want of time are not being given the opportunity to do that and we are told by Monday it is ending.
Madam Speaker, we do not have to be rushing things in this House. By Tuesday it is ending. This document is supposed to serve the country for one year and I do not think it is fair for us to use just about five Sitting days to debate a document that is going to serve the country for one good year.
We come here -- As if we are rationing debates in the House. We should be more serious to do justice to the Budget. I believe the time is too short and I still insist that we should add more days to the debate because some of us are not comfortable with the way the con-tributions are being rationed in this House.
Hon Members are here to serve their constituents; we are here to contribute meaningfully to the Budget debate. So we should be given the opportunity to speak and to talk to the Budget.
Papa Owusu-Ankomah 11:30 a.m.
Madam Speaker, I have noted a very disturbing trend in this House which I have discussed with Leadership of both sides. But it seems we are not making progress on it.
Madam Speaker, Sitting is supposed to commence at 10 o'clock precisely. Unfortunately, ever since this Parliament was inaugurated, the earliest I believe we have been able to commence Business is around 11 o'clock and it is embarrassing to me personally because it disturbs my schedule and I believe that it is embarrassing and disturbing to all Hon Members of this House.
M a d a m S p e a k e r , P a r l i a m e n t determines its own Business; Parliament can determine the time that it wants to commence Business. I am urging the Business Committee to take this matter up seriously and if it considers that Parliament is unable, practically to commence Sitting at 10 o'clock then it advises Hon Members of Parliament so that we just do not come and sit here.
Some of us get here even before 10 o'clock and nobody seems to be telling us anything. It has been continuing day to day and I am bringing this matter to the attention of the House generally because all attempts to urge Leadership to do something about this has failed.
I thank you, Madam Speaker.
Mr. Abdul-Rashid Pelpuo 11:40 a.m.
Madam Speaker, I rise to support Hon I. K. Asiamah's concern about the length of time given for the debate on the Budget. But it is also important to know that this is a financial statement by the Government and it is important that we give a framework within which debate can commence and end so that we can hit the road running with the Budget. So even
though I think that it is important for us to have a longer period for as many people as possible to contribute, at this particular moment it does not look like we have the luxury of time.
So for me, we have a cross section of views about the Budget and those cross sectional views can represent the totality of views that are likely to emerge from this House. So I think that we consider what he has said for the future and accept that within the framework that we have set for ourselves up to Tuesday we finish the debate and allow the Minister to go and start his business in Government.
Mr. E. A. Gyamfi 11:40 a.m.
Madam Speaker, we have been complaining so much about time for the debate of the Budget. Madam Speaker, you will agree with me that time is very, very crucial and some few weeks ago an Hon Member of this House made a Statement on “time management”.
Madam Speaker, since the commence- ment of the Fifth Parliament of the Fourth Republic the time for which Parliament is supposed to begin Sitting -- it is very, very serious. If we look at the Votes and Proceedings there has not been a single time that Parliament has started Sitting on time as per our Standing Orders which Madam Speaker, with your permission I would like to quote.
Madam Speaker 11:40 a.m.
I know it. Can you carry on? Carry on. Leave the reading. It is all here.
Mr. Gyamfi 11:40 a.m.
Thank you very much. Madam Speaker, the issue about whether Parliament should be very serious with the time given to us to debate on Government business because from next week, there is so much for Parliament to do and as Parliament is preparing itself to rise by 27th or 28th March, we need to finish
Madam Speaker 11:40 a.m.
Yes, I would like to hear from the Leadership. Hon E. T. Mensah, any contribution on this issue?
Madam Speaker 11:40 a.m.
Let me hear you before we come to the Leadership.
Mr. H. Iddrisu 11:40 a.m.
Madam Speaker, I thank you very much for the opportunity. I just wanted to agree more with the observation made by the Hon Papa Owusu-Ankomah and to urge Leadership and in particular your good- self for us to be seen respecting our own time, rules and procedures consistent with Order 40 (2) of our Standing Orders. I think that there is cause to be concerned.
But Madam Speaker, in doing so let me also explain that in most instances that this has happened, there have been compelling reasons why commencement of Business has not been at 10 a.m. and I hope that whilst I agree with you, Hon Members will appreciate that it is not sufficient for us to just commence Business for Sitting purposes. Sometimes one or two of the adjournments had to do with reports being ready or not being ready. But I perfectly agree with his thinking except to persuade that they should bear with us that it has not been deliberate. In all those circumstances there have been compelling reasons why the House had not been able to Sit.
I thank you, Madam Speaker.
Mr. E.T. Mensah 11:40 a.m.
Madam Speaker, I wish to start on a very light note that my
Hon Colleague started with the issue of the Leader happening to be the Chairman. When we resort to the Queen's English none of us - anytime we listened to people because - Hon Dr. Prempeh also roped it in and when you begin to pick the pieces, look for errors in West African English and you will see that the Professors of English slip every now and then.
Madam Speaker, on a serious note the issue about the extension of time, that was canvassed by my “son”, Hon I. K. Asiamah, is nothing new. I do not want the situation where we would feel that with Madam in the Chair, we have been starting very late. It depends on issues. Now, even this period there is time constraint for the discussion of the Budget. You can imagine where it is coming from -- transition. It is part of the transition. We had just less than three months.
Let us roll it back to all Parliaments when we begin. We run into these problems because of the constraints of time to discuss the Budget. So let us bear with the situation. When it is repeated next year then we would have the opportunity to deal with the issues because these are unavoidable circums-tances which have led to this situation. So I hope my Hon Colleagues would bear with us.
The issue about the bullet 0.3 has been addressed.
So I thank you, Madam Speaker.
Madam Speaker 11:40 a.m.
Hon Minority
Leader, I think l have to give you too the chance to make a contribution.
Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 11:40 a.m.
Madam Speaker, on a lighter note on my Hon Colleague saying that even Professors of English slip now and then, we will allow it to go.
But Madam Speaker, I believe that the point about Hon Members having the
opportunity to contribute to the debate, I agree that, yes, the laying of some reports are delayed due to some technical reasons and so on and so that would not be attributable to Committee Chairmen or any of us but at least if we could Sit earlier, maybe 10 o'clock.
Now it is almost 12 o'clock and we have not even begun the debate on the Budget Statement. So I thought that if we could meet, maybe a little bit earlier, then that could afford the opportunity to Hon Members to contribute to the debate that at least, we could allow. Today is Friday and by 1 o'clock, latest 1.30 the Moslems amongst us - [Interruption] -- Well, I accept that - would be slipping out. So I would want to plead that we act more timeously than we have done and I think that it has not been too bad as Hon E.T. Mensah has said, but we could still do better than we have done.
I thank you.
Madam Speaker 11:40 a.m.
Hon Members, the business statement as presented is adopted.
STATEMENTS 1:50 p.m.

Mr. Kojo Adu-Asare (NDC -- Adenta) 1:50 p.m.
Madam Speaker, with your indulgence, I wish to make my maiden Statement on the floor of this august House. Madam Speaker, my Statement is to wish the Commonwealth a happy birthday, as well as to commemorate the day, which falls tomorrow, March 14.
Madam Speaker, the body, originally called the British Commonwealth of Nations, is the grouping of nations and dependencies that were in the past former
colonies of Britain.
Madam Speaker, many countries in Africa, the Caribbean and the Mediter- ranean became members in the 1960s, and followed in the 70s. Today there are more than 50 countries forming the Common- wealth.
Madam Speaker, at its formation, the Commonwealth had as its objectives, as outlined in the 1971 Singapore Declara- tion, commitment to the institution of global peace, the promotion of re- presentative democracy, and individual liberty.
Madam Speaker, beyond working towards global peace and ensuring the practice of multi-party democracy, the Commonwealth also sets for itself the task to fight against poverty, ignorance, diseases as well as promoting free trade.
Madam Speaker, subsequent ly there were added the opposition to discrimination on the basis of gender, as per the Lusaka Declaration of 1979, and the environmental sustainability by the Kangkawi Declaration of 1989.
Madam Speaker, it is regrettable to note that many members of the organization such as Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, The Gambia, Papua New Guinea and Zambia are still among the poorest countries in the world.
Madam Speaker, again, it is sad to note that despite the enviable record of timber, cocoa, mineral, oil and gas resources in most Commonwealth countries, many of these countries are poor and face acute problems, including crushing poverty, debt burdens, environmental degradation and excessive population growth.
Madam Speaker, only sound and sustainable development can offer these millions the prospect of a better tomorrow.
Madam Speaker 1:50 p.m.
If you want to make comments on the Statement, please make it short.
Mr. Mathias Kwame Ntow 1:50 p.m.
Madam Speaker, it is a point of correction I want to make here. The Commonwealth Day is on the 9th of March and not the 14th.
Thank you, Madam Speaker.
Madam Speaker 1:50 p.m.
Thank you. Any other quick comment on the Statement before we move on?
Mr. Haruna Iddrisu (Minister for Communications) 1:50 p.m.
Madam Speaker, thank you for the opportunity. I would endeavour to be very brief. This is to commend the Hon Member who made the Statement as we attempt to make corrections as to the exact date. But the thrust of his Statement is very important. We do have a Commonwealth of Nations; the United Kingdom and all of its colonies are part of this global partnership.
He has raised very important issues in it, how under-development must be fought and that we are just not looking at aid but there should be trade amongst us.
I think that his Statement must spur us on in wanting to deepen bilateral relations among nations that belong to the Commonwealth.
Also, he raised the issue of environ- mental sustainability and the continuous depletion of our forest resources and its impact on our environment which is something worth commending. He also raised issues about some resolutions passed by the Commonwealth, parti- cularly those dealing with gender disparity. I think that as a country we are taking very encouraging steps in wanting to bridge the gender gap. That is commendable. We may not have attained 50 per cent gender parity but at least beginning with 20, 30, 40 per cent we are on our way there.
With these comments, I would like to commend the Hon Member who made the Statement.
I thank you for the opportunity.
Madam Speaker 1:50 p.m.
Hon Members,
we continue with the debate on the motion to approve the Financial Policy of the Government of Ghana for the year ending 31st December 2009, moved on Thursday, 5th March 2009 by the Hon Minister for Finance, Dr. Kwabena Duffuor and seconded by Hon Moses Asaga on Tuesday, 10th March, 2009.
MOTIONS 1:50 p.m.

Mr. Kwaku Agyeman-Manu (NPP -- Dormaa West) noon
Madam Speaker, I represent the very good people of Dormaa West and I am going to try to look at the Budget as I have read it. I am coming out with my own analysis and opinions on how I see the Budget. Madam Speaker, I would want to add my voice to those who believe strongly that this Budget is uninspiring, of no hope and spirit- dampening. And as I move ahead, Madam Speaker -- [Interruption] -- I will try and explain.
In the first instance, I want to read from
page 10, paragraph 36 of the Budget.
“. . . like other developing econo- mies, the downturn in the advanced economies in 2009 is expected to have negative effect on Ghana's export . . .”
But on that same page, when you go to
paragraphs 32 and 34, talking about the major commodities that we export, cocoa and gold, there is an indication of good prices and good demand for them. Page 36 continues about weak demand for exports and weak commodity prices implying less export revenue. If the Minister believes so much in this statement; then it means that there is some conflict with what the President may even want us as a nation to do.

In the President's State of the Nation Address, he puts so much emphasis in investments that we will put in to cocoa. In some portions in the Budget, we are talking about increasing even acreage, adopting hi-tech practices, increasing yield and cocoa activity through increases in producer prices. Madam Speaker, there is nowhere that the Budget even talks about increasing producer prices of cocoa. Apart from that, basic economics will let us look like anything else. If you know for sure that the demand for our export commodity, cocoa, is going to go down, prices are going to fall, Madam Speaker, is it an area that we have to budget for investment? What sort of economics is that? When prices of cocoa are going to fall, demand is going to go low; that is where we want to invest our money. What will be the value of that investment?

That is why some of us are saying that the Budget is uninspiring, it does not give us hope, and some of these conflicting things are there to actually support our argument. Madam Speaker, I will still continue that the Budget is dampening our hopes and our spirits. We have been growing more than six per cent conti- nuously over the last three or four years. If you look at the NDC manifesto -- I am not sure which version that I have because I understand there are two versions now. Madam Speaker, I will read from page 45,
  • [MR. H. HARUNA the economic objectives: “A macro-economic strategy con- sistent with the attainment of a single digit inflation, exchange rate stability and balanced budget with a deficit target not exceeding 3% in any given year. These would require the following :. . .” Madam Speaker, the Budget is targeting 9.4 per cent GDP, and I believe strongly, again, that is not in consonance with what we voted them to come and do for us. Madam Speaker, an annual growth rate of at least eight per cent - [Inter-ruption.]
  • Mr. Haruna Iddrisu noon
    Madam Speaker.
    On a point of order. Madam Speaker, the Hon Member of Parliament -- [Interruption] -- [Some Hon Members: What Order? What Order?] Order 91. Madam Speaker, he is grossly misleading this House with his selective use of the statistics.
    Madam Speaker, he knows that at the end of the 2008 fiscal year, this Government inherited 14.9 per cent overall Budget deficit. Even the manifesto of the NDC did not contemplate that it will be this high because in your 2008 Budget, you anticipated that it will not be more than five per cent of the GDP.
    Madam Speaker noon
    Hon Member, be
    brief with your point.
    Mr. H. Iddrisu noon
    Madam Speaker, I
    thank you. Madam Speaker, let me refer
    you further; I said he was misleading this House. For instance, Madam Speaker, may I refer you to page 69, paragraph 296. He made reference to cocoa. Yes, we recognize that cocoa and gold are major exports. But Madam Speaker, listen to what the Minister for Finance said; I am quoting:
    “. . . Government will give all the required support to the cocoa sub- sector to ensure that it achieves its maximum potential to enable the sub-sector enhance its significance contribution to growth of GDP. . .”
    The emphasis is mine -- “foreign
    exchange”. Therefore, there is a commitment clearly in the Budget that the determination of the price of cocoa is not that for Government of Ghana. He knows well that the market forces of demand and supply will determine that.
    I thank you.
    Mr. Agyeman-Manu noon
    Speaker, I am a bit surprised at the intervention from my Hon Friend opposite me. Madam Speaker, I was talking basic economics and I do not understand why he is still trying to tell us that, the Budget is investing to enhance cocoa activity and all that. That is correct but that is why I am arguing. If you tell me in one paragraph that cocoa prices are going to go down, demand is going to fall, is it reasonable for us to continue to invest into that sector when we know very well that these will not give us adequate exchange that we actually do need?
    Madam Speaker, I will continue and move away from cocoa. I was talking about the GDP growth of 5.9 per cent in the Budget. Again, I am talking about why we are trying to budget for idleness? It is not ambitious, and some of us are even surprised. If you look at an economy that we have moved on for the last eight years up to now, and it is like everybody was smiling, there was hope in everybody.
    Suddenly, you are revising our growth from over six per cent to below six per cent; and that is why I continue to say that our hopes have been dampened, our spirits are not there. I have not finished, Madam Speaker. The NDC manifesto, page 45, I will crave your indulgence to read again:
    “We will shift from reliance on direct taxes to indirect taxes and enhancing tax incentives.”
    Madam Speaker, the first year Budget of President Atta Mills, who had contested elections on three occasions and on the third occasion winning elections, we Ghanaians thought that he was coming -- [Interruptions.] [An Hon Member: Allow him, allow him.] We Ghanaians thought that he was coming to give us something that we could write home about.
    Madam Speaker, all the tax incentives and all the shifting from direct taxes, nothing is seen in the Budget that seems to be indicating that that is the policy the NDC would want to take. Madam Speaker, if you look at the highlights of the Budget -- I will read from page 10 of the highlights that I found in my pigeon- hole, and I quote:
    “An undistributed amount of GH¢404,917,043 is in Contingency for 2009 Salary increases of up to
    Madam Speaker, if we say the Budget is uninspiring and does not give us any hope -- For the past three to four years, the previous Government made sure that year on year, salary increases to public servants and government workers never went below 18 per cent. Now, we are seeing 12 per cent. Does it give us hope? [Some Hon Members: No.] -- Does it make us smile? [Some Hon Members:
    No.] -- Will that give us money into our pockets? [Some Hon Members: No.]
    Madam Speaker, we have not finished; there are a lot more to talk about. [Hear! Hear!] Madam Speaker, so if you have a Budget that will not translate or give us money into our pockets, that we all thought was going to come, could we describe such a Budget as a very hopeful one? An inspiring one? [Some Hon Members: No.]
    Madam Speaker, I will continue. To my amazement -- [Pause] -- Madam Speaker, I come from Dormaa Ahenkro, and I said earlier on that I represent the good people of Dormaa West. This time round, I will even add Dormaa East. These two districts, Madam Speaker, produce more than 50 per cent of eggs consumed in this country; and that is a major activity in my place.
    Madam Speaker, as I speak today, the price of maize is getting over 600,000 cedis per hundred kilobag. [Interruption.] Now, we are seeing a report from the Finance Committee giving an intention of Government to reintroduce taxes on food items that were reduced when commodity prices were going up, skyrocketing on the global market.
    Now, if we are going to put taxes, as they have said in their manifesto, shifting from direct taxes to indirect taxes -- and I am not amazed that they are now bringing us a document that gives an intention of tax increases on food items, including yellow maize. My plea to the Finance Minister is that it will collapse the poultry industry and over quite a large percentage of my people whose livelihood is from the poultry industry will have no jobs. They would have killed our industry and taken away the monies that we used to put in. So they should take a second look at that area.
    Mr. Agyeman-Manu 12:10 p.m.

    Madam Speaker, let me go to National Health Insurance -- We were promised a one-off premium for our lives. When the President came here to deliver his State of the Nation Address, he made mention that that policy was achievable, was possible. We were waiting for a statement to declare that in the Budget. Madam Speaker, our hopes are dashed. There was nothing there; the only thing the Finance Minister said was that they are going to do actuarial studies, they are going to do whatever and they will come out with it.

    Madam Speaker, I will want the Finance Minister to take note that quite a lot of actuarial studies were done before the introduction and implementation of the National Health Insurance. And there was a big financial gap which even called for innovative ways of funding Health Insurance. That is how come Government tried to negotiate with labour so that we could take some percentage of people's pension from Social Security to support Health Insurance.

    That is how come some of us thought that people in the private sector should also contribute towards taking care of our health and then the introduction of these premiums. We even went as far as introducing levies for Health Insurance. Now because of the promises, because of the hopes that we had that we were going to do one-off premium payment, the schemes are now beginning to see a situation where people who were paying premiums have started stopping even to register.

    Two days ago, it was published in a newspaper that people in the Eastern Region have stopped registering, waiting for a policy implementation. Not only them -- I am very proud to say that if you

    are looking at the best Health Insurance Scheme/Mutual Schemes in the districts, the one in my hometown, Dormaa, may come among the first three.

    So my plea to the Minister for Finance
    Mr. H. Iddrisu 12:10 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order because my Hon Colleague, a former Deputy Minister for Finance is grossly misleading this House. He has made two statements which are not factually accurate. One is the statement to the effect that Government was imposing taxes on food as if it was related to domestic food production. He knows that the Minister for Finance was specific; tarrifs on imported foods are different from food manufactured from Dormaa and he knows what that means. Madam Speaker -- [Interruptions.]
    Madam Speaker 12:10 p.m.
    Order! Order!
    Mr. H. Iddrisu 12:10 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, his second comment was about the National Health Insurance Scheme. I heard him make reference to that important manifesto which was voted for by the people of Ghana - the NDC manifesto. Madam Speaker, it is specific, that the NDC would review the National Health Insurance Scheme and introduce a one-off payment system.
    Indeed, he can check his records that at the time that they took the decision to impose a deduction on pension, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) vehement-ly protested against this -- [Inter-ruptions.] He must, therefore, be guided by it. Government has composed a committee to look into the NHIS and that will be done.
    I thank you
    Madam Speaker 12:10 p.m.
    Hon Member, continue, your time is running.
    Mr. Agyeman-Manu 12:10 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, I will want to notify my good Hon Minister over there that his interruptions will serve no purpose so far as I am concerned. He is taking away my time and what I have planned to say I will say all of them.
    Madam Speaker, I will want to bring his attention to the Finance Committee Report that was circulated two days ago and this is the declaration of intention. Apparently, it suggests to me that the Minister for Finance has actually submitted a Bill for our consideration. These include taxes on cooking oil, rice and yellow maize and this Report cannot be wrong. That is my source of that information.
    Madam Speaker, again, with the Health Insurance matter, I am telling him that we have every right to review what we are implementing. But what I am saying is that the earlier we came out with the statement that we could not implement that policy, the one-off premium thing this year, or three years from here, the better.
    This is because people are waiting and because of that they are not registering and therefore the schemes are not getting the necessary money they need to pay the providers. The schemes will collapse; if we do not do something about this sort of thing that we are all expecting that will
    Madam Speaker 12:10 p.m.
    Hon Member, it is almost about fifteen minutes, can you conclude.
    Mr. Agyeman-Manu 12:10 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, he has already taken about twelve minutes of my time -- [Interruptions] -- Madam Speaker, I will go on. I will still continue to describe the Budget as uninspiring because in the principle of justifiable continuity certain things that should have been continued are missing. I will mention the National Identification Programme, the Street Naming Project that was started by the previous Administration.
    These are all very important projects or programmes that we believe will help accelerate our growth towards becoming a middle income country but nothing was said about these things in the Budget. So it does not work in consonance with the principle of justifiable continuity as has been preached by our President.
    Madam Speaker, the airport tax has already gone through, but all I want to say about that is that it is seriously anti- tourism and will not help promote tourism in our country at all.
    Madam Speaker, one other serious thing is this, from past historic and practical matters, when any country is about to mine oil, two years, three years when everybody knows that we will soon receive oil incomes, people smile; we do not tighten belts. Unfortunately, the Minister for Finance and Government plan to set up a certain fund to retire sovereign and jubilee bonds that had actually been arranged or taken.
    Madam Speaker, I will plead again that the first one that will get matured will be 2013, and if we are going to receive oil
    Mr. Agyeman-Manu 12:20 p.m.
    income from the last quarter of 2010, why do we rush to begin taking monies when we do not have monies in our pockets to put somewhere in the sinking fund to try to redeem those things?
    I will plead that, that sinking fund matter should be delayed until about 2011 when we have started receiving oil incomes; other than that, our woes will even be bigger.
    Madam Speaker, I will continue to say that from our economic history as a nation, austerity budgets have never taken growth to any meaningful level above five per cent. Austerity measures, cutting cost and increasing revenues alone do not accelerate our growth and that can never take us seriously to any middle income country.

    The year 2020 is too far away and therefore I will plead with the Hon Minister for Finance to revisit that matter and see if he can bring it - including the Hon Finance Minister, he is also old.
    Madam Speaker 12:20 p.m.
    Hon Member, I will
    plead with you to wind up.
    Mr. Agyeman-Manu 12:20 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, I am winding up. What I am saying is that the Budget should go and
    come back with some innovations, some little creativity; something that will accelerate our growth, that will make us become a middle income country by 2015, not the oil money that is going to come, than the way our spirits have been dampened.
    Madam Speaker, the Hon Minister for Finance should have a good re-look at the Budget and probably in his mid-year review, come out with more innovative things and bring back the smiles that President Kufuor seems to have taken away.
    Mr. A. K. Agbesi (NDC -- Ashaiman) 12:20 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, I rise to contribute to the motion that this House approves the Financial Policy of the Government of Ghana for the year ending 31st December,
    Madam Speaker, I want to say that I thank His Excellency the President very much for giving us this Budget just after two months that he came into office. We could see that this Budget, basically is informed by the manifesto of the NDC. I beg, with your permission, to quote the preamble to our great manifesto. At page 14, it is said:
    “It is put together after careful thought and broad consultations to confront and effectively mitigate the extreme hardship associated with prevailing state of deprivation in which ordinary Ghanaians find themselves. It offers practical, effective and sustainable solutions for a better Ghana.
    The NDC notes with deep concern, the growing inequal i ty and social exclusion in the Ghanaian society since 2001 primarily, because of the policies of the NPP Government. These policies have
    been divisive, and they have been utterly discriminatory. Only a privileged few have and continue to acquire obscene wealth, while the larger majority of Ghanaians are driven into poverty, hardships and deepening crises.”
    Madam Speaker, just after two months in assuming office His Excellency the President brought this Budget and this Budget has, in my view, provided ways and means of solving the hardships that have been generated amongst Ghanaians.
    It is no doubt that in this Budget
    Dr. Osei 12:20 p.m.
    On a point of order. Madam Speaker, he said the President had programmed the NHIS to be implemented. The Hon Minister's Statement said actuarial analysis will be started. Actuarial analysis is not implementation of the NHIS the way he said it. He is not only misrepresenting the Hon Minister, but he is really misleading this whole nation. It does not look like -- But he is trying to find out where that statement is. Please, the Hon Minister said actuarial analysis. I think it is a better way to present what the Hon Minister said than choose his own words.
    Madam Speaker, I will want to ask him
    that before he makes that statement next time, he should read it so that at least, he would tell us the right place.
    Madam Speaker 12:20 p.m.
    Except that actuarial analysis, does it not start a process?
    Dr. Osei 12:20 p.m.
    He said “implementation”.
    His word was “implementation”. Actuarial analysis is a different matter; it does not mean implementation.
    Madam Speaker 12:20 p.m.
    I am asking, does it not start a process?
    Dr. Osei 12:20 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, he should not use that word.
    Madam Speaker 12:20 p.m.
    All right. Let us
    hear him, then.
    Mr. Agbesi 12:20 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, thank you very much. I am referring to page 171, paragraph 749 of the Budget and when you read it you will see that this one time payment of the NHIS will be programmed and executed:
    “. . . the National Health Insurance Scheme will be restructured to respond to the needs of the population and improve upon the issue of claims management. The latter will involve networking all DHMIS to service providers and the National Health Insurance Authority. This, among others, will help to resolve the problem of portability to make it national in coverage. It will also pursue the policy on the de-linking children from their parents' registration and the provision of free maternal care. Furthermore . . .”
    And this is where the issue is --
    “ F u r t h e r m o r e G o v e r n m e n t will commence work on the implementation of the one time payment of insurance premium under the National Health Insurance Scheme.”
    Government will commence work on this -- [Interruption.] -- and this Budget is for one year. Thereafter, during the term of our President -- [Interruption] “In this regard, the actuarial analysis relating
    Madam Speaker 12:20 p.m.
    Mr. Agbesi 12:30 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, I will take that again. “In this regard the actuarial analysis relating thereto will start in earnest.” [Laughter.] Madam Speaker, we have said that all these things are going to start in earnest. We are going to start in earnest.
    Madam Speaker, we are saying that this policy, even though it is good, its implementation was not what was foreseen by the NDC then in government. Now we are going to improve upon it. Within the first year, we are going to commence all these and we will see results as we progress towards the end of our term. I want to say that health is necessary for all of us and for that matter we have to put in everything to make it possible for every Ghanaian to enjoy free health and, good health of course.
    Madam Speaker, having said so on health, I have even heard my Hon Colleague on the other side say that the National Electrification Programme (NEC) which we, the NDC, started which they could not continue and which they have messed up is not going to -- [Interruption.] We of the NDC now back in power are going to pursue this electrification programme to the letter because it was our idea; we know the policy, we know its implementation, and we shall bring it to what we would need.

    Madam Speaker, the Government has put in place several institutions for
    Mr. Addai-Nimoh 12:30 p.m.
    On a point of
    order - Order 91 (b); Madam Speaker, the Hon Member for Ashaiman did say that the rural electrification project or programme was started by National Democratic Congress (NDC) but the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Administration, under former President Kufuor could not continue. I want to refer him to page 93, paragraph 409, in 2008 performance, as indicated by the Hon Minister for Finance, and with your permission, I would like to read:
    “ Madam Speaker, rural elec- trification in 31 communities in West Akim District was completed and commissioned.”
    I want to find out from the Hon Member -- [Interruptions] -- I continue --
    “. . . material supply for the extension of power supply to 16 communities in Upper Denkyira district is almost completed. Furthermore, 380 communities were connected to the national grid”
    [Interruptions.] Madam Speaker, I go on to paragraph 410.
    “Madam Speaker, additionally, 200 communities were connected to the national grid under SHEP 4. Under the extension of power supplies to 5+ communities per district initiative, work commenced in communities with Low Voltage (LV)
    poles. A total of 11 communities in the Greater Accra and Volta Regions were completed.”
    [Interruptions.] Madam Speaker, all these projects were completed in one fiscal year -- [Interruptions.] The Hon Member for Ashaiman's Constituency is in the Greater-Accra Region. [Hear! Hear!]. In Volta Region, we have 11 communities whose work are completed and commis- sioned. [Interruption.] Madam Speaker, I challenge the Hon Member to withdraw. The statement that the NPP Adminis- tration of former President Kufuor could not continue the rural electrification programme that was commenced, he should withdraw it by the admission in the Budget Statement. [Interruptions.]
    Thank you, Madam Speaker.
    Mr. Agbesi 12:30 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, I will
    Madam Speaker 12:30 p.m.
    Hon Member, he rose on a point of correction and I think what he read corrects the fact that the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Government did not pursue the electrification project. From here, I think it is quite clear that there was some continuation of the project. Do you accept the corrections? Then we move on. [Interruptions.]
    Mr. Agbesi 12:30 p.m.
    Thank you very much, Madam Speaker, I withdraw that statement [Interruptions.] Madam Speaker, we have to build consensus in this House so where it is wrong, we accept it and move forward [Interruptions.] [An Hon Member: In the right direction.]
    Madam Speaker, I want to add that the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Government started the electrification programme, phases I, II and III before the NPP came and we expected them to complete them since they were on it before
    we also came.
    Thank you for your continuation but it was not enough that is what we are saying -- [Interruption.] Madam Speaker, I said that we finished with the third phase and they should continue with the fourth phase -- [Interruptions.]
    Madam Speaker 12:30 p.m.
    Yes, I said we have moved on, so can you continue with your contribution? You have apologised and withdrawn it so -- [Interruption.]
    Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 12:30 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, he has withdrawn the factual inaccuracy, he is forgiven. But the other factual inaccuracy is that rural electrification was started by the National Democratic Congress (NDC), that is factually incorrect. [Interruptions.]
    Madam Speaker, contemporary rural electrification was started by the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) and not the NDC and if he goes back, it was the Progress Party Administration that started the rural electrification in this country. [Inter- ruptions] That is why I am saying that if you are talking about contemporary rural electrification, it was the PNDC and not the NDC.
    Mr. E. T. Mensah 12:30 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, there is another factual inaccuracy that it was the Progress Party that started the rural electrification. It was only a concept -- [Interruptions.] [Some Hon Members: A. A. Munufie] Madam Speaker, A. A. Munufie was just part of the programme. The national grid only got to Kumasi; it never went beyond Kumasi. It was the PNDC which took electrification from beyond Kumasi to the four corners of the northern sector.
    After that we started the rural electrification; at that time we were just doing it without the Self Help Electrification Project (SHEP). Along the
    Madam Speaker 12:30 p.m.
    When the Leaders get up I have to --
    Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 12:30 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, I made a categorical statement that if you go back to the history, rural electrification started with the Progress Party Administration. My Hon Colleague E. T. Mensah is saying that it got to Kumasi, right. Granted; is he telling us that down south, that is from Accra to Kumasi there are no rural areas? Madam Speaker, he said under the Progress Party Adminis-tration the national grid could not be extended to up country.

    If we grant that, if we go back to the history, it was the Progress Party Administration which started it, except that it did not get beyond the Ashanti Region. [Interruptions.] What is the factual inaccuracy in what I have said?
    Madam Speaker 12:40 p.m.
    The fact is that
    the Hon. E. T. Mensah is not the Hon Member contributing to the debate, it is Hon Agbesi whom we could correct and has been corrected. So shall we move on?
    Madam Speaker 12:40 p.m.
    Hon Member, sit
    down, please. Let us carry on, we have finished this point. The Hon Agbesi, you may go on, please; your time is coming to an end.
    Mr. Agbesi 12:40 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, I have not even got to the meat of what I am to say and they have started interrupting me.
    Madam Speaker, one basic thing that is of worry to most Ghanaians is this congestion in the prisons.
    Madam Speaker, this Budget makes provision that Magistrates and Judges would be having seminars and that they would be looking at non-custodian sentence as a policy for the Judiciary. Madam Speaker, I think this is an issue which is so vital and if it is implemented to the full, I believe most Ghanaians who find themselves in that way or the other way, would be finding some relief in that field.
    Madam Speaker, I want to say that the issue which the Hon Minority Leader raised this morning about Office of Parliament and Parliament House or Parliament, is of most importance to me. Madam Speaker, we have been in this House for some years now and most of the time, Budgets come and talk about offices for Members of Parliament (MPs.)
    Madam Speaker, this Budget has also continued that the issue of the completion of Job 600 for offices for MPs would be looked at. I want to say that is a laudable idea and it should be pursued to its logical conclusion.
    Madam Speaker, most of the times, when you come to Parliament, and you even buy a bottle of coca cola, you do not know where to sit and drink it. Madam Speaker, if this thing is implemented under this Budget, we have to laud our President for bringing that idea on board.
    Madam Speaker, the issue also of the establishment of constituency centres for MPs in their constituencies is something which is also laudable and I would call on the Hon Minister for Finance to pursue this matter, because democracy, basically, must be seen to be practised in our constituencies and most of the times, MPs do not have any place to consult with their constituents. Madam Speaker, I want to say that the President has a lot of good ideas for Parliament and it is for us to pursue it to let it come to fruition and we shall all be happy.
    Madam Speaker, I want to say that this Budget also looked at fisheries and agriculture. A lot has been said about Aveyime Rice Project but I want to say that one good thing about this Budget is that, the project of irrigation of Accra Plains is something which must be taken very seriously. Madam Speaker, we have arable land within Accra. From Accra to the Volta Region, you can see a lot of land but they lie fallow.
    Madam Speaker, irrigation should be something that we should take very seriously as a nation because we cannot continue to rely on this rainfall which fails every farmer here and there.
    Madam Speaker, irrigation of the Accra Plains - Irrigation of the plains up
    to the Volta Region or even to the north or the Afraim Plains, are things that this Budget is talking about and we as citizens or Members of Parliament must take it on board and pursue it to its logical conclusion.
    Madam Speaker, I want to say that the construction of the Akosombo Dam has had some effect on people along the Lower Volta. Madam Speaker, people along the Lower Volta used to be fishermen or were engaged in agriculture but after this construction, most of them, especially from Mepe, Bator, Agave and all those areas, have to migrate to other places to carry on with their trade. Madam Speaker, it has made the Lower Basin of the Volta Region a place where you cannot live and carry on meaningful commercial activity.
    Madam Speaker, I want to appeal to the Hon Minister that commercial farming and fishpond activities can be carried on along the Volta, and he should look at this side and then make provision for those who are there or those who are left there because of the construction of the Volta Dam.
    Madam Speaker, I want to thank you very much for this opportunity to thank the President for bringing this Budget to the House.
    Madam Speaker, finally, I want to say that this Budget is a very, very good one. [Interruptions.] Madam Speaker, just after the presentation of the Budget, I see on the front page of the Daily Graphic that US$300 million had been given by the World Bank to assist the economy to be on its own. Madam Speaker, this is a laudable idea because if the World Bank can say that oh! this is a good Budget and for that reason, it has policies which must be supported and they are coming to our aid by this amount, it is very good and we all have to commend them.
    Madam Speaker, I thank you for this
    Mr. Agbesi 12:40 p.m.

    Mrs. Gifty Eugenia Kusi (NPP -- Tarkwa-Nsuaem) 12:50 p.m.
    I thank you, Madam Speaker, for the opportunity to contribute to the motion to approve the financial policy of the Government of Ghana for the year ending 31st December, 2009.
    Madam Speaker, the Hon Minister for Finance on page 14 of the Budget Statement, paragraph 43, enumerated a lot of economic targets which were missed by the NPP Administration and which have become a very big issue, being hammered on by my Hon Colleagues opposite.
    Madam Speaker, while it is worthwhile to show that the year 2008 was very difficult, in my opinion, that paragraph should have ended with the following words:
    “This notwithstanding, we have met an economy better than we left in 2000” [Hear! Hear!] The NPP Government should be applauded -- While the NPP Government started in a very deplorable state, for example, in a pit and they climbed up, we are starting on a pedestal.” [Hear! Hear!]
    Madam Speaker, I can understand that no one praises her rival before the husband but Madam Speaker, I want to tell my Hon Friends opposite that, se hom enyi hen ayew a ma hom nsee hen dzin - [Hear! Hear!] -- meaning, if they are not going to praise us, they should not defame us.
    Madam Speaker, what did we meet in 2001 when we took office? Madam Speaker, in doing any comparison, I think we should set a correct base line, let the whole public know where the NPP Government came from and where we are
    leaving the scene, so that Ghanaians would judge for themselves.

    Madam Speaker, while he had to go to Nigeria to beg, His Excellency President Atta Mills had to go to Nigeria to give thanks to God. [Interruptions.] They all went to Nigeria -- the former President had to go to beg for crude oil for Ghana but because the current President has inherited a good economy which is so good, he had to go and give thanks in Nigeria. [Hear! Hear!]

    Madam Speaker, I want to refer to the

    Budget of 9th March 2001, column 1474 of the Hansard at that time, and then paragraph 4 of the Hansard.

    “The total debt stock of Ghana stood at ¢41.10 trillion at the end of December, 2000.”

    Madam Speaker, the total debt stock represented 224 per cent of exports, total debt was more than twice total exports, 709 per cent of budget revenue. It is more than 7 times budget revenue and 184 per cent of GDP. Madam Speaker, what did this budget tell us? Madam Speaker, in all things that we say, I think that the NPP Government should be patted on the back. At this time, what we had found is that inflation that we met 40.5 per cent, is now 18.2 per cent as we left. For three consecutive years, growth rate had been above 6 per cent. What else do Ghanaians want?

    Madam Speaker, Ghana became the first among one of the third world countries

    to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) by halving poverty in 2006.

    Madam Speaker, we became the only sub-Saharan country, excluding South Africa, and I am quoting from the Budget Statement that was presented by the late Hon Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu on Thursday, 15th November, 2007. Madam Speaker, we are the only country, excluding South Africa to enter the International Bond market and raised US$750 million out of 3.2 million subscription. It has never happened in Ghana, it happened only during the time of former President John Agyekum-Kufuor -- [Hear! Hear!] Madam Speaker, from the same document, Ghana received awards for being one of the best reformers for doing business in 2006 to 2007 and 2007 to 2008 out of 175 countries and 178 countries worldwide -- Yenye adie? [Some Hon Members -- Yaye adie.]

    Madam Speaker, about 180,000 youth were employed under the National Youth Employment Programme (NYEP).

    We introduced the Capitation Grant, giving true meaning to the free element of the Free, Compulsory Universal Basic Education (FCUBE) for a cumulative figure of 14 million pupils in public schools. Madam Speaker, all these achievements have brought Ghana to the stage which we find ourselves now.

    Madam Speaker, so all that I want to say on the economy is that we are now leaving an economy that we found the GDP of 184 per cent of our debt which is only 53 per cent of our debt. That means that we can pay our debt and then leave 46.7 per cent surplus which we never got.

    Madam Speaker, when we assumed office, there were arrears in the District
    Madam Speaker 12:50 p.m.
    Hon Member, I
    do not think this is very relevant, you are criticising or commending the Budget, and so far you have been talking about the former Budget, unless you convince me that you are going to relate it to this Budget. If you are relating it to this Budget it will be relevant.
    Mrs. Kusi 12:50 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, I said it earlier that before you make any meaningful comparison, you should have a base line. So Madam Speaker, I am trying to lay the foundation of the comparison of this Budget, because I see that, Madam Speaker, you want to join the debate which Standing Order 90 says you should not do -- [Uproar.]
    Madam Speaker 12:50 p.m.
    Hon Member, I can
    also take a point of order -- [Laughter.] All I did was to take a point of order and to guide -- [Some Hon Members -- Order Number?] -- Order number 91 -- [Laughter.] It did not specify that it was only MPs who could take that point. Actually, Hon Member, all I meant was that so far you have dwelt on it and that relate it to this Budget so that it becomes very relevant.
    Mrs. Kusi 12:50 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, thank
    you very much, but I mentioned page 14, where the Minister for Finance enumerated the debt, things that we could not do and it is in this Budget, page 14.
    Madam Speaker 12:50 p.m.
    Thank you, go on.
    Mrs. Kusi 12:50 p.m.
    Thank you very much,
    Madam Speaker.
    Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 12:50 p.m.
    Speaker, with respect, you preside over the House and when we are in difficulty you offer directions and guidance to us.
    Madam Speaker 12:50 p.m.
    Standing Order 91
    too -- It says: . . . “may be interrupted (a) by a point of order being
    It did not say by only MPs, did it?
    Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 12:50 p.m.
    Speaker, with respect to you, that one is in obvious reference to Members. That is why Order 92 says:
    “No Member shall interrupt any other Member except …”
    So if we put the two in tandem --
    Madam Speaker 12:50 p.m.
    Then unless we say
    that as Speaker, when a point of order is going on and it has not been raised and I have seen it I am not entitled to bring it to the House. Is that the procedure here? For instance, something that could have been pointed to by the House on a point of order, supposing it has not been raised but I have seen it, like a question of privilege or something and I am not entitled to bring it to the notice of the House, is that the procedure here?
    Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 12:50 p.m.
    Speaker, that indeed is the position. It is the practice and the convention of the House. But you may guide us as and when it becomes necessary, and it becomes necessary when a Member rises to a point of order and points it out and Madam Speaker, with respect, you then interpret the rules as you deem fit.
    Madam Speaker 12:50 p.m.
    This was just to
    guide her because I thought I had heard too many of the other Budget and not related to this one, and I was guiding her to relate it to this Budget. She has, and I think it was just guiding her. But if I am not permitted to guide -- because you have on occasions asked me for my guidance and I have complied. Anyway, carry on Hon Member.
    Mrs. Kusi 1 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, as soon as the Budget was read, the Hon Minister for Finance laid in this House a Bill to amend prices of petroleum products.
    Madam Speaker, I was very, very happy, but having read the Bill I realised that Ghanaians have really been misled.
    Madam Speaker, on 12th December 2008, when the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Administration reduced prices of petroleum products, the National Democratic Congress, through the Spokesperson on Energy, said that the 20 to 30 per cent that the prices were reduced --
    Mr Agbesi 1 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, I rise under Order 91.
    Madam Speaker, my Hon Colleague has said that after reading the Budget, she has realised that Ghanaians were deceived. She used the word “deceived”. [An Hon Member: Misled.] Madam Speaker, whether “misled” or “deceived”, it is the same point. The point is that she said Ghanaians have been misled, according to her.
    Madam Speaker, this is a very serious word, against Ghanaians who went to the polls and voted according to their conscience. By saying this, she is trying to imply that Ghanaians who went to

    Madam Speaker, this is very serious. They were aware of the issues, they understood them and chose between NPP and NDC and their decision is the NDC, and they have taken that wise decision. They took a wise decision. To say that they were misled, what went into misleading them? She is hereby implying that the NDC misled Ghanaians, which is not true; which is not factual.
    Mrs Kusi 1 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, I am going to explain why they were misled -- [Interruptions.] I am going to give it to him. So wait, after I have spoken, if he is not satisfied then he can come up. I am prepared to withdraw the statement if he is not satisfied. So, do not worry.
    Madam Speaker 1 p.m.
    Hon Member for
    Tarkwa-Nsuaem, he is entitled to raise a point of order. Let me decide it.
    Mrs Kusi 1 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, I would
    not have made this point if it was not placed on the website of the renowned professor. And it happened when the Hon Minister for Finance was reading the Budget; he said he was going to review the prices of petroleum products. That is why he laid the Bill immediately after the Budget.
    And I say that , through their spokesperson, they said the 20 to 30 per cent review that the 12th December 2008 did was not even enough and that they were going to reduce it, that the price should be between 30 and 40 per cent. So when that Bill came and it was between 5 and 10 per cent, I was very, very disappointed -- [Hear! Hear!] -- And I myself felt misled -- [Interruptions.]
    Madam Speaker 1 p.m.
    Order! Order!
    Mrs Kusi 1 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, it will
    interest you to know that until 9th March 2009, there had been four reviews.
    Madam Speaker 1 p.m.
    Hon Member, if you had allowed me to rule on his objection, maybe, we would have carried on. His order comes in when I do not rule. When I rule, then everybody will have to accept it or challenge me by a motion. [Hear! Hear!]
    The Hon Member for Ashaiman's objection was that the Hon Member for Tarkwa-Nsuaem had used the word “misled”.
    Mr. Agbesi 1 p.m.
    That after reading the Budget Statement Ghanaians were misled into voting for the NDC and I am objecting to that word.
    Madam Speaker 1 p.m.
    Actually, I did not hear “to vote for the NDC.” I heard “Ghanaians were misled.” Was that not what was said?
    I was looking at the rules. Order 93 (2), is that not what you are referring to, Hon Member for Ashaiman? [Some Hon Members: He said Order 91.] Well, Order 91 is that you raise a point. But there must be content in the point. It must have relevance and reference to Order 93.
    So if I look at Order 93 (2), which is about the most relevant:
    “It shall be out of order to use offensive, abusive, insulting, blasphemous or unbecoming words to impute improper motives to any other Member or to make personal allusions.”
    Hon Member for Ashaiman, where do you come under? [Laughter.] Where does your objection come? Or was it against you because this is what I am looking at.

    If you think she should change the words she used, it is different, that it was an attack on you.

    So, Hon Member for Tarkwa-Nsuaem,

    I think you should carry on.
    Mrs. Kusi 1 p.m.
    Thank you, very much. Madam Speaker, at least I would use
    only one example, the price of petrol. Madam Speaker, the 12th December 2008 reduction got the price to GH¢3.69 and then the spokesperson said, it should have rather been GH¢2.80.
    Mr. E. T. Mensah 1 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, the Hon Member said that after the 12th December 2008 reduction of the prices, our spokesperson indicated that it should have been more than 20 per cent, our spokesperson.
    Madam Speaker, the truth of the matter is that the 12th December 2008 reduction was a desperate measure. [Inter-ruptions.] The previous Government is on record of having said that reducing petroleum prices was not possible until we were to go into the second round of the elections and before the 20th December 2008, the Professor said on a platform that, if he is given the nod, he will reduce -- [Some Hon Members: Which Professor?] Professor John Evans Atta Mills; your President and our President, indicated that -- by that time he was only the candidate -- that he will reduce the petrol price should he be given the nod. And after the 12th December 2008 reduction, he said he will reduce it further. And that has happened. So I do not see the Hon Member for Tarkwa-Nsuaem's problem.
    Thank you, Madam Speaker.
    Madam Speaker 1 p.m.
    Hon Member , can
    you move on because our time is --
    Mrs. Kusi 1 p.m.
    Yes, because of the Interruptions. I would have finished.
    Madam Speaker 1 p.m.
    I know.
    Mrs. Kusi 1 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, thank you.
    Then, the price was around US$147 per barrel. But now, it is around US$45. Madam Speaker, so my worry was that, if the spokesperson had said that it should have been GH¢2.80, and then they come and reduce it or review it and take it to GH¢3.51, that is why I said that I, at least, was misled and my constituents, my people, of Tarkwa-Nsuaem Constituency have been misled.
    Mr, G. K. Essilfie 1 p.m.
    On a point of order. Madam Speaker, my Hon Colleague said -- [Hon Members: Order number?] Order number 91(b). My Hon Colleague said --
    Mrs. Kusi 1 p.m.
    I am not yielding. Order 91(b) says I should yield. I am not yielding -- [Interruptions.]
    Mr. Essilfie 1:10 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, it is a
    point of correction. The Hon Member has stated that when they reduced the prices of petrol on December 12, 2008 the price on the world market was US$147. That is not true. I want her to tell this House, at the time they reduced the price of petrol on December 12, 2008 what price was it? [Interruptions.] How much was it? It was not US$147.
    Madam Speaker 1:10 p.m.
    I think he is coming
    under Order 92 (b); he said so.
    Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 1:10 p.m.
    Speaker, with respect, I believe the intervention of my Hon Colleague is not worth ruling on. Madam Speaker, he quotes Order 91 (b).
    Madam Speaker 1:10 p.m.
    Oh! Is it 91(b)?
    Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 1:10 p.m.
    He quotes
    Order 91(b) and with your permission I quote:
    “Debates may be interrupted --
    ( b ) b y a m a t t e r o f p r iv i lege suddenly arising.”
    Madam Speaker 1:10 p.m.
    Hon Kusi, can you
    wind up now?
    Mrs. Kusi 1:10 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, I have
    hardly made two points and I have about four points and they are interrupting me. Madam Speaker, please, I do not often talk, so give me the chance.
    Madam Speaker, on assumption of
    office, there have been four reviews -- on the National Petroleum Agency (NPA) website -- before this one. January 16, no show; 1st February, no show, 16th February, no show, 1st March (Some Hon Members: No show.) -- until 9th March. And then the 9th of March 2009 came and the GH¢2.80 was GH¢3.51. Madam Speaker, I rest my case.
    I want to move on to --
    Madam Speaker 1:10 p.m.
    Hon Members, she
    is about to end her case.
    Mr. E. T. Mensah 1:10 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, the Hon Member for Tarkwa-Nsuaem, Mrs. Gifty Kusi is misleading this House and the whole nation. A Government has just been sworn in, the President has just been sworn in on the 7th of January 2009; she knows that reductions -- the Government said it would remove the taxes on the petroleum products. He could not have done that without having his Government machinery in place.
    He could not have done it. She is behaving as if the Government is one year old. [Interruptions.] It is less than three months. So she should stop misleading the country. Who can reduce the tax without having his Minister to come through the process that we went through? So she should stop misleading the country. [Interruptions.]
    Madam Speaker 1:10 p.m.
    Order! Order!
    Hon Member, what point of order are you going to make?
    Mr. Hammond 1:10 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, my
    good Friend has yielded to me to clarify a point for the benefit of the House and specifically for their learning.
    Madam Speaker 1:10 p.m.
    Under Order what?
    Mr. Hammond 1:10 p.m.
    Madam Speaker,
    I thought yesterday you gave the dispensation that the big boys could talk without the reference to the Orders and -
    Madam Speaker 1:10 p.m.
    Which big boys?
    Mr. Hammond 1:10 p.m.
    The eight years',
    12 years', 16 years'; they are assumed to know the Orders, so they could talk
    Madam Speaker 1:10 p.m.
    Hon Members, let
    me hear him then I would know whether it is a point of order he is raising.
    Mr. Hammond 1:10 p.m.
    Madam Speaker,
    the petroleum pricing policy has got two contents. There is the ex-refinery price proper and then there is the taxation element. Now, when National Petroleum Authority (NPA) comes to review prices, the taxation element of it has absolutely nothing to do with NPA. When they promised to have the prices reviewed one would have thought that they knew the state of the pricing of petroleum products at the time; so they would have been talking about the ex-pump price and not ex-refinery price proper and not the taxation element which only comes to Parliament.
    They did not know at the time they were making those outrageous promises that there was nothing that could be done about it. Therefore in the end, they come in here and as an afterthought -- Madam Speaker, if you look at the Budget you would see that there is an addendum in which the Finance Minister talks about the reduction in petroleum prices. It is there; it is in there.
    So Madam Speaker, they are misleading the country. Taxation? Fine, they are now struggling, the House has been told. This is the addendum. As an addendum it was referred to -- [Interruptions.] Madam Speaker, you would see it in paragraphs 4 and 5; so that is something they should
    learn. Gifty ko so.
    Mrs. Kusi 1:10 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, I have in my hand something on petroleum prices and Ghanaians themselves would judge. Madam Speaker, I have in my hand, Ghanaian Times --
    Mr. E. T. Mensah 1:10 p.m.
    Madam Speaker,
    the Hon Member for Adansi Asokwa (Mr. K. T. Hammond) has missed the point. Prof. J. E. A. Mills indicated that there were too many taxes on the petroleum products and that he would review the taxes on the petroleum products. To be able to remove the taxes means that you are reducing the cost. That we were emphatic; we knew what we were talking about; and you cannot review taxes without going through the process that we went through. So let us put the records straight.
    Madam Speaker 1:10 p.m.
    Hon Members, can
    we finish with the Hon Member. Hon Kusi, your time is really running out; can you try to wind off?
    Mrs. Kusi 1:10 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, I
    have in my hand October 23, Thursday Ghanaian Times which reads and with your permission I quote:
    “The National Democratic Congress (NDC) has said it will institute what it calls ‘vibrant tax policies'. It said it would ensure tax relief on some essential goods to enable the citizenry . . .”
    if they are given the mandate.
    Madam Speaker, on page 10 of the highlights of the Budget that was read to us, paragraph (2), it says: “Restoration of food tariffs”. Mr. President, Ghanaians have given you the mandate, where are the tax reliefs that you promised us?
    Madam Speaker, in 2001 when we took office, even with the economic conditions
    in which we found ourselves we relieved Ghanaians of some taxes; there were tax reliefs. I have reference here, but I am not going to quote because of time. [Interruptions.] Madam Speaker, Ghana- ians have given the mandate; where is the tax relief in the Budget? At least we did it.
    Madam Speaker, all I see is restoration of food tariffs so that the oil and the rice and the things that we are getting lower prices, they are now going to increase, and increment in airport tariffs.
    Madam Speaker, I also read on page
    173 of the Budget Statement that two district hospitals -- [Interruptions.] Madam Speaker, I am winding up; I have a lot of points, but --
    Mr. C. S. Hodogbey 1:20 p.m.
    On a point of order. Madam Speaker, the price of petroleum products started declining since July of last year. The New Patriotic Party (NPP) Administration never reduced the price of petrol until December. Besides, the price of petroleum products is most often guided by Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) decisions. [Interruption.] I am standing on Order 91 (a). What I am trying to say is that the price on petroleum products is most often guided by OPEC.
    Recently Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) has decided that they are going to reduce the millions of barrels that they pump into the world market to maintain or to raise the price of petroleum products. Therefore President Mills' Administration being well guided, has to be very cautious in taking action on the price of petroleum products.
    Prof. G.Y. Gyan-Baffour 1:20 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, I think my Hon Friend on the
    other side was trying to say that the price of crude oil is established by OPEC and not the price of petroleum products. Prices of petroleum products have not been falling. It is the price of crude oil that has been falling. So he has to carry it on board.
    Mrs. Kusi 1:20 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, I was a board member of National Petroleum Authority and I speak on authority. Madam Speaker, I have the facts here but because of time -- Madam Speaker, prices were reviewed. Every two weeks National Petroleum Authority (NPA) reviewed prices. The last, before the 12th December -- First November prices were reduced. For the four years that I have been there every two weeks -- I am just taking the last four before the 12th December so you are not going to teach me what I have to do. [Interruption.]
    Mr. E.T. Mensah 1:20 p.m.
    On a point of order.
    Madam Speaker, the Hon Member said something that has to be addressed for the records. She indicated that we have restored taxes on some food products. We have asked that that Bill be stood down two days ago so it has not been passed. So she cannot say -- it is a factual inaccuracy that we have passed it. We have not passed it.
    Mrs. Kusi 1:20 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, I am using
    the highlights of the Budget Statement and then [-- Interruption.] It is there. It is an intention to -- it is in the Finance Committee Report. Madam Speaker, I have in my hands the Ghanaian Times of -- [Interruption.]
    Madam Speaker 1:20 p.m.
    Hon Kusi, I am
    taking a point of order from the Hon Member.
    Mr. Kofi Frimpong 1:20 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, I am coming on Order 92 (1) (b) and it reads:
    Madam Speaker 1:20 p.m.
    I thank you Hon Member, except that this is for the whole House. Your advice should be for the whole House because both sides are behaving like that; would not allow me to make a ruling and will carry on. If I may say, unless I hear from the person trying to make the point of order what it is about, I am not able to say whether it is a correct point of order or it is out of order and that is why sometimes I wait to hear what they have to say. Except that I would not be allowed to make a ruling even when I state so.
    So I think it is in order and the Hon Member has appealed to all of us to follow the rules and I will agree with him, and please, let us go according to the rules. Both sides of the House, please when I want to make a ruling allow me to make a ruling. While I do not want to stifle Hon Members, I do not want to make this place a classroom where you will sit quietly and you do not talk at all. I will still urge you to accept the advice of the Hon Member.
    Hon Gifty, I know you have not said
    much but time is running short and we may have to -- Can you wind up?
    Mrs. Kusi 1:30 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, on
    page 173, paragraph 757 of the Budget Statement, it emphasizes that two district hospitals at Bekwai and Tarkwa would be funded. I know that in 2003 -- I have a Report of the Joint Committee on Finance and Health which approved 17,630,000 units of accounts between the Govern- ment of Ghana and ADB for financing the construction of the Tarkwa and Bekwai District Hospitals.
    I am happy it has been repeated in the Budget that it is going to be funded. [Interruption.] But I just want to remind the Minister that we in Tarkwa are really

    looking forward to this hospital and we urge him to go on. Madam Speaker, the money is there. [Interruptions.] Let me finish, they are shouting,they would not hear what I have to say. [Interruptions.]

    On October 16, 2008 bids were opened for contractors. If in 2008 a lot of processes have gone in -- I am the Member of Parliament, I know what we have done, a lot of meetings, there was a problem on the land and it had to be resolved because you cannot take somebody's land without resolution and then valuation of their properties and everything. Bids have been opened and the money is available, I know. So I commend the Minister for bringing it up and I want to say that he should go on for the people of Tarkwa to have their hospital.

    I want to end it by giving this advice to

    the Ministry of Finance that they have said they are cutting cost and therefore I do not want a situation where contractors, as Hon Kwame Peprah said, in the 2000 Budget that sometimes they come there with no work done to claim money. They should look forward and not pay contractors money that they have not worked for.

    This is the 2000 Budget here, I have reference, I know what I am talking about -- where contractors go -- because according to Hon Osafo-Maafo, when he assumed power the money he set aside to pay contractors, some could not show their faces to collect that money. So it is just an advice that I am giving.

    Thank you.

    Mr. Gabriel K. Essilfie (NDC --

    Shama): Madam Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to contribute to the motion on this floor relative to the debate on the Budget Statement, and the Economic Policy for the year ending December

    31st, 2009. Since Tuesday there have been a lot of theories expounded on this Budget Statement, some positive and some negative. And I would like to believe that indeed being what it may, they were all made in good faith for the betterment of Mother Ghana in order to move our nation forward in the right direction.

    So much has been said that this Budget did not consider corporate tax reduction, this Budget did not give us any direction for growth, this Budget did not give any stimulus package. But what I want the proponents of those statements to understand is that whenever you build in anything, even if you are in your own personal business, you have to go with the old adage that:

    “When a blind man wants to throw a stone at you, he has to make sure his foot is on something, which is the stone.”

    For eight good years when the NDC Government left office in 2000 the economy of this nation, after all the upheavals of military interruptions, had been set on a firm foundation for the NPP Government to continue. I am saying this because we have to recognise the fact that governance is a continuing process. The NPP Government could not have done whatever they claim they did if someone had not laid the foundation for them to continue. [Hear! Hear!] Madam Speaker, we are a nation --
    Papa Owusu-Ankomah 1:30 p.m.
    On a point
    of order! Madam Speaker, the Hon Member in using certain terminology is misleading the House. Oftentimes people talk about “NPP Government”, “NDC Government”. It is NPP Administration or NDC Administration. There is only one government, Government of Ghana. So it is rather NPP Administration and not NPP Government and we all ought to learn
    Madam Speaker 1:30 p.m.
    Thank you for the correction.
    Mr. Essilfie 1:30 p.m.
    I just want to tell my Hon Senior Colleague from Sekondi that no amount of his heckling is going to make me lose my thoughts to continue. Whether it is NPP Administration or NPP Government it is still “Government” and as long as they were in power I call it NPP Government.
    Madam Speaker 1:30 p.m.
    Honourable, he
    says he will not accept the correction so I think you should leave it.
    Papa Owusu-Ankomah 1:30 p.m.
    Speaker, I am sorry, we are all here to learn and we are bound to make mistakes. If he is not prepared to accept correction, he should not also make personal allusions. It is not necessary, he just has to continue but if this is the way my Hon Colleague from Shama is going to conduct himself in this House then I am sorry he will never learn.
    Mr. Essilfie 1:40 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, I thank
    you so much. I would like my Hon Senior Colleague just to leave me alone and let me continue with what I have to say because as far as I am concerned if there is an adage, they are all adages and are old so I call it “the old adage” and I will continue. [Interruptions.] Madam Speaker, there are new adages too.
    We are a nation that is very dependent on foreign donations. We left the government to the NPP Administration, if I want to use his word, when we left the office; this nation was still dependent on foreign contributions or donations. We would have thought that by the time they came to power and left office in 2008 this nation would have weaned itself from foreign donations or dependence, especially after
    they had taken our nation into HIPC. And after all those debts had been cancelled, five billion dollars worth of debt, they still ended up leaving our nation with 2.5 billion dollars deficit.

    Madam Speaker, we have heard here from the opposite side that corporate taxes were left at 25 per cent, and they were looking at the NDC Administration to bring it to 15 per cent. I want to remind my Hon Colleagues at the opposite side that indeed, in the United States which is the greatest nation on earth, there are corporate tax structures, the top stratum is 39 per cent.
    Dr. Matthew Prempeh 1:40 p.m.
    I rise on Order 91(a). Madam Speaker, my Hon Friend from Shama has a tendency of going off tangents; that is becoming legendary in this House.
    Madam Speaker, I have three points of
    order. The first point of order is that the NPP Administration did not end in 2008. Madam Speaker, the second point of order is, he says we have been forgiven a debt of $5 billion; that is over 20 years. It is not all cancelled in one day. The third point of order, he said the United States does not
    depend upon any country, which is also a lie because the United States borrows by other countries buying its bonds to balance its Budget.
    Madam Speaker, so if he comes and stands in such an august House and he repeatedly misleads the House with misinformation, Madam Speaker, it becomes very worrying. He should stick to what he knows, not what he just fathoms.
    Madam Speaker 1:40 p.m.
    If you were correct- ing it, leave it there. But he speaks what he knows, is that not it? That is what he speaks -- [Interruption.]
    Dr. Prempeh 1:40 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, that is a very dangerous statement from you.
    Madam Speaker 1:40 p.m.
    Your point is taken. You said you were correcting. But always everybody speaks what he knows, is that not it?
    Dr. Prempeh 1:40 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, no. Madam Speaker, your rulings are law in this House. Madam Speaker, please, do not set this House on a dangerous path that everybody can speak what he thinks is right. He is not right.
    Mr. E. T. Mensah 1:40 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, my Hon Friend should respect the Chair because something was canvassed a short while ago about the fact that the way the debate is going has not happened before. It is absolutely not true. The new ones should go and read the Hansard for the past sixteen years. Quite often people would just stand up and -- I was telling Hon Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, he is not here, so I do not want to - just get up and say point of order and would not quote any order.
    Arising out of these concerns where people would want to give information, the Committee which went out to review
    these Standing Orders, we put in certain things where you can come on a point of information and all that. So let us not create the impression as if there is this brouhaha here because of our new Speaker, who is learning very fast. Less than three months and we have to commend her for her position.
    Mr. Essilfie 1:40 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, thank you very much. With regard to my Hon Colleague (Dr. Prempeh), I just want him to understand the fact that everything I say here is factual. And indeed, if I may use the words of the Minority Leader, I would like to tell him to get himself, maybe, a hearing aid because what I stated was, the United States does not take handouts from anybody. I did not say the United States does not borrow.
    There is a difference between handouts and borrowing. [Some Hon Members: Teach him!] -- So maybe he needs to listen to me carefully to understand what I am saying and not just try to get me away from my thoughts because he will not succeed.
    The United States as I was saying has a top stratum tax rate of 39 per cent. Ghana has 25 per cent tax rate. We are a growing nation, how do we get away from dependence on foreign donations or handouts? People have to be taxed, corporations have to pay their taxes to help us to be able to get away from always depending on foreign handouts.
    Madam Speaker, let me now move to the depreciation of the cedi. When the redenomination was done, we were made to understand that they were cushioning our cedi against the foreign currencies. So when they did the redenomination, the cedi was trading at a rate which was better than the dollar. If I can recall, it was around 0.90 to $1.
    Mr. Essilfie 1:50 p.m.
    At the time the NPP Administration left office, the cedi was trading at GH¢1.20, and that was only so because the NDC Administration was economical with the truth about our economy -- [Uproar] -- The NPP Administration was economical with truth about our economy.
    One, the NPP Administration never told Ghanaians that we were carrying a deficit of GH¢2.5 billion. Until we came to power, Ghanaians did not know that this nation was running at a deficit. The whole world, globally, they did not know that we were running at a deficit. Definitely, when we came to power, all these things came out because we had to tell Ghanaians the balance sheet of the nation. When we provided that information, it makes commonsense that definitely the cedi rate would continue depreciating. If they had told the world and Ghanaians the truth, I will tell you today, we would have ended up with the cedi trading at about 1.50 against the dollar before we took office.
    So we are asking them just to be patient with us, we have just started, and I am sure with the able, abilities and directions of our Hon Minister and His Excellency, the President Prof. J. E. Atta Mills, by the time we leave office, the Administration of Prof. J. E. Atta Mills will leave this country with an economy that we shall all be very proud of.
    Madam Speaker, let me now turn to the area of the reduction of the petroleum taxes and tariffs. Madam Speaker, we live in a country where the NPP Administration introduced what we call Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP).

    This is a programme that is giving certain households a paltry sum of fifteen Ghana cedis a month to live on - a total of GH¢180 a year. Yet, when we reduce petroleum prices which, if you quantify -- and at this stage, I would like to use a financial demonstration with your indulgence. Madam Speaker, I drive a classic Jaguar, special edition Vanden Plax -- [Hear! Hear!] -- Madam Speaker, this car is only a six cylinder engine.

    However, under the old petroleum price, I have been paying one million old Ghana cedis a week, which is equivalent to one hundred Ghana cedis. Now, my Hon Colleagues here, most of them use gas guzzler vehicles which are V-8 fore-runners or 4x4s, so definitely they are using more petrol than I do. Now based on the current reduction, Madam Speaker, I am going to be saving at least, five Ghana cedis every week. If I quantify that into one year - 52 weeks - it amounts to GH¢260.

    Madam Speaker, all my Hon Colleagues here, 230 of us I am sure - [Inter-ruptions] - if we are 228, the other 2 will come. I am sure if they were all using on the average the same amount that I spend, Madam Speaker, they could go to their constituencies with the GH¢260 every month and add it to the paltry GH¢15 we give to those households as supplemental income and that will help them. So this reduction is not insufficient, it is not insignificant; it is significant -- [Hear! Hear!]

    If you understand the power of savings,
    Mr. O. B. Amoah 1:50 p.m.
    I rise on Order 91. Madam Speaker, the Hon Member is speaking to the whole House but his
    gestures, he appears to be pointing to you and threatening you -- [Interruptions] -- And Madam Speaker, I want to advise him to calm down, be cool; this is just a debate, this is not a fight and poor Madam Speaker should be spared these gestures and threats.
    Madam Speaker 1:50 p.m.
    Hon Member, that is body language.
    Mr. Essilfie 1:50 p.m.
    I am going to wind up. Madam Speaker, since my Hon Colleagues here really believe that the reduction in petroleum prices is insignificant, I will appeal to them that let us all take the average of GH¢20 that I have suggested that I am saving -- I am sure they are all saving the same thing. Let us all put it together, and if there are 230 of us, it will be GH¢4,600 a month.
    Let us put this into a fund and in four years, Madam Speaker, we will end up with GH¢337,000 and I am sure if we do that and spend that money to help the destitute on our streets it will be better. So instead of them criticizing the Budget, I want them to offer solutions and this is one of the solutions that I offer to them from the savings that they can make in order to help to alleviate poverty in our nation.
    Madam Speaker 1:50 p.m.
    Thank you, Hon
    Member. Hon Members, it is almost 2 o'clock, do you have any indications?
    Mr. E. T. Mensah 1:50 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, it is almost 2 o'clock and it will be difficult
    Mrs. G. E. Kusi 1:50 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, I
    rise to second the motion for adjournment.
    Question put and motion agreed to.
    The House was accordingly adjour-ned at 1.56 p.m. till 17th March, 2009 at