interference and we would hope that the Hon Minister would ensure that this mandate is carried through. So we would really support the augmentation for her budget if and when these two constitutional mandates are followed to the letter.
I thank you for your indulgence.
Mr. Herod Cobbina (NDC -- Sefwi
Akontombra): Thank you Mr. Speaker, for giving me the opportunity to contribute to the motion and the budget estimates for the Ministry of Information.
In the first place Mr. Speaker, I want to remind my Hon Sister that Sefwi area is covered by GBC activities. In Sefwi, we understand English, Twi and other languages so whatever language is carried on the airwaves, we do understand.
Mr. Speaker, if you look at the budget
estimates as read by the Hon Minister, the year 2008 saw a great shortfall of budget proposal for the Ministry. In that aspect, the Ministry could not undertake various activities which were supposed to be undertaken. I am particularly concerned about the new District Assemblies which were created late last year, where offices, staff, vehicles, mobile phones, telephones, radio sets and other facilities such as fax and photocopier machines were not supplied to the various districts.
If we are to go by this amount allocated to the Ministry this year, we are really going to find it difficult for the Ministry to work as we want to develop the country.
If we look at the Ministry itself, last year, if you take Ghana News Agency (GNA), according to the Hon Minister, the budget ran into a shortfall and about 275 stringers' workers in the hinterland
were not paid.
If you go to NAFTI, it was identified
that staff basic allowance were not paid. So I am pleading that the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning should increase the allocation through a supplementary budget for the Ministry, to enable it carry out its activities to satisfy the needs of the country.
Mr Speaker, with this, I thank you for
the opportunity to support the motion. Mr. Joe Baidoe-Ansah (NPP -- Effia
Kwesimintsim): Mr. Speaker, I would want to make some few observations.
Generally, the budget for the Ministry is insufficient. For this year, if you look at the mandate for the Ministry, it looks like they have to do more than what they are being given the money for.
An organisation like the GNA, Mr. Speaker, has improved over the years and has got to a point that it is now necessary -- I believe that the 50 per cent Internally Generated Funds (IGF) is not enough, we are proposing 50 but I think, to encourage them, it would be important for them to get the 100 per cent IGF so that they can improve.
I have a problem, Mr. Speaker, with
GBC. The problem I have with GBC is that GBC today is receiving money from this budget because of the social responsibility or the public services that GBC, as a broadcaster, should be; so Government is paying for GBC to work as a public service broadcaster and that is why Government is not giving money to other stations. But the problem now is that it is becoming difficult to see the difference between GBC and other broadcasting stations. It becomes very difficult.
I believe that the time has come for us to be able to put in place the maximum that will set targets to GBC when it comes to its public service broadcast. We have to agree on the percentage that we need as a country for GBC to live up to it. So that if we agree that we are giving GBC so much for them to have content, about 70 per cent social or public service broadcast content, then we have to be able to evaluate and that would be the only justification for giving them the money.
I would say that other broadcasting institutions, other radio stations are also playing that role and for that reason, maybe, this whole issue of television licensing should be reviewed; an amount placed somewhere that every radio station, television station that has a percentage content of public broadcasting would have to be given that money; every radio station that lives up to it.
We have a situation now that GBC is behaving just like any public broad-casting station. We wake up in the morning, newspaper review is politicised. It is only politicians, people go there to only do politics. It is very, very politicised. I think the time has come for a position to be taken to depoliticise our public service broadcaster because in this country we have a lot of knowledgeable people but we do not see that in the content of GBC to the extent that they have a regulation that there should be -- if it is four from NPP, there should be four from this party. Why should newspaper review be politicised?
Do we not have any knowledgeable people in this country who have gone to school to be able to talk about accidents than politicians? Are politicians the only people who can go to radio stations, television stations to talk about accidents? Do we not have qualified people?
If it is a matter of law - and all these are part of the contents of our newspapers in the morning, why do we need politicians to go there and talk about law whilst we have people who have schooled, some of them about seven years to learn law? The time has come for us to depoliticise our newspaper reviews so that we all get educated. I want to be educated, I want to listen to some people who have backgrounds in things that they have learnt over the years. So I would want to see that, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker, the other thing is for GBC