Debates of 24 Mar 2009

PRAYERS 11 a.m.


Madam Speaker 11 a.m.
Hon Members, we commence with the Correction of Votes and Proceedings dated Monday, 23rd March 2009.
Mr. Isaac Osei 11 a.m.
Madam Speaker, I attended the duties of Parliament at the committee level yesterday but I have been marked absent. Madam Speaker, if that can be corrected.
Mr. Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 11 a.m.
Madam Speaker, the correction that my Hon Colleague seeks, that is, in respect of his having been marked absent, Hon Isaac Osei, number 18 of page 6, his plea is that he was at a committee sitting and so he must be deemed to have been in the House.
Madam Speaker, I want to plead with him and others like him that they are expected to report to the House before they file out to do committee work. That has been the convention and practice in the House. So that they will be seen as having put appearance in the House before they go to do committee work.
Madam Speaker 11 a.m.
Thank you.
Mr. O. B. Amoah 11:10 a.m.
Madam Speaker, mine is on the matter of publication of the Hansard. If I recollect, the last time we saw the Hansard was dated 12th March, 2009. Today is 24th March, 2009 and we do not seem to be receiving the Hansard and I think it is a matter that we should discuss so that if we could get the Hansard regularly and on time, we could also add it to the Business of the day and then, at least, discuss what went on and make any corrections thereof.
Madam Speaker 11:10 a.m.
Yes, Hansard is not ready and there is a complaint about it. Majority Leader?
Majority Leader (Mr. A. S. K. Bagbin) 11:10 a.m.
Madam Speaker, this definitely, I believe, is as a result of logistical support. There was a request from the Office of the Official Publication, usually referred to as the Hansard for us to renew some of the machinery that they are using there. The pressure of work is sometimes beyond the capacity of what we have at the place.
So the Board discussed it before and tried getting money to acquire some modern equipment to support them. But it is not yet up to date and I think that is the reason why there would be this delay in printing the Hansard. We would try as much as possible to take action on that.
Minority Leader (Mr. Osei Kyei- Mensah-Bonsu) 11:10 a.m.
Madam Speaker, I think further to what the Majority Leader has said, this is the season for the printing of reports from the various committees and the reports do normally come in the form of drafts, then the committees have to meet, peruse them, if there are corrections they go back and so on. So that is indeed exacting considerable toll on both the personnel and the machines there. So I would entreat my Hon Colleague to bear
with us for a while and the situation would revert to normalcy very soon.
Several Hon Members -- rose --
Madam Speaker 11:10 a.m.
There is consensus
Madam Speaker 11:10 a.m.
Yes, Hon Member, what is it about? Is it a point of order or something?
Papa Owusu-Ankomah 11:10 a.m.
Madam Speaker, I will just want to comment on the statements made by the Leaders - the Majority Leader and the Minority Leader. Of course, for now, they may consider what they said to be reasonable. But indeed really, those who are responsible for printing the Hansard are not those responsible for preparing the committees' reports.
Madam Speaker, this is the res- ponsibility of what I term the triumvirate and the Leadership and I would have thought that, the Leaders would have given us some assurance that this matter is going to be resolved by a certain date. But to say that we are looking for money and so forth, we would not be able to have the money and we are drafting reports and printing them, it is not really acceptable.

Madam Speaker, and I was thinking

that at least, for six years this matter would have been resolved, but the problem has been worsening all along and of course, I appreciate that now is the time when we need to get these Hansards promptly; nobody should take it as if we are blaming them for it. But I am urging Madam Speaker, your goodself and the Leadership to ensure that this problem is resolved. That is all.
Madam Speaker 11:20 a.m.
Thank you. We shall put our heads together.
PAPERS 11:20 a.m.

Mrs. Gifty E. Kusi 11:20 a.m.
Madam Speaker, the Report is not ready. He cannot lay a report which we have not even looked at the draft. It is not ready. I am a member of the Committee; we have not even discussed the Report. Have we? Let us look at it before you lay it. It is not ready.
By the Chairman of the Committee --
Report of the Joint Committee on Lands and Forestry and Mines and Energy on the Annual Budget Estimates of the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources for the year
Madam Speaker 11:20 a.m.
Item 5 -- Hon Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, you may move motion number 5.
Hon Member, we have reached item 5 and I believe the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration is not here, any indication?
Mr. A. S. K. Bagbin 11:20 a.m.
Madam Speaker,
we were informed that the Minister is committed now and he will be with us soon. So what we did earlier on was to re-arrange the order of the Business by saying that we should start from item 10.
Yesterday we could not take some estimates so we would want to start with those estimates now. So we want to start
with item 10 which is on page 4 of the Order Paper dealing with the Ministry of Roads and Highways, then after that we come to item 9 dealing with National Labour Commission so that we could complete the work that was outstanding yesterday. Then we move on to today's programme. I had indicated that through the Clerk's Office. Sorry you were not informed earlier.
Madam Speaker 11:30 a.m.
We move to item

ESTIMATES 11:30 a.m.

-- 11:30 a.m.

Madam Speaker, some challenges envisaged during the fiscal year are 11:30 a.m.
Inadequate funding leading to deferment of road maintenance programmes. These delays do cost Government between 8 and 10 times as much to rehabilitate such roads:
Inefficient urban transportation systems, e.g. the primary road networks in our major cities such as Accra, Tema, Kumasi and Sekondi-
Takoradi are highly congested due to lack of road capacity, inefficient use of the existing road space, indiscriminate parking and trading on the street:
The low delivery rate of road projects due to inadequate capacity of the local construction industry.
Madam Speaker, for the expectations for 2009 fiscal year, the Ministry's 2009 budget has been prepared to contribute to the steady improvement in the road infrastructure and services including safety in line with our stated objectives. This improvement will impact on all sectors of the economy.
In the area of agriculture, the improve- ment will open up the hinterlands and food production areas and hence provide easy movement of farm produce from the farm gate to the market centres.
In the social sector, improved road infrastructure and services will provide easy access to services such as health posts and centres and schools as well as improved governance. The implemen-tation of the proposed activities, undoubtedly, are expected to impact positively on the overall objectives of poverty reduction in all facets of the socio-economic landscape of the country.
Madam Speaker, the total planned budget for the road transport sub-sector for 2009 is GH¢987,440,254 compared with the total approved budget of GH¢386,370,228. This includes the payment of GH¢123,282,407.00 from the statutory fund (Ghana Road Fund).
This summary of the Planned and Approved Budget estimates for the Ministry of Roads and Highways and its agencies are as follows:
Summary of 2009 Planned and Approved Budget Estimates
Madam Speaker, it must be reiterated that the reduction in our planned budget from GH¢987,440,254 to GH¢386,370,228 will greatly affect the overall delivery of the
Chairman of the Committee (Mr. M. C. Boampong) 11:40 a.m.
Madam Speaker, I rise to second the motion on the floor
of the House. Madam Speaker, in doing so, I want to present the Report of your Committee.
1.0 Introduction
In fulfilment of article 179 of the 1992 Constitution, the Budget Statement and Economic Policy of Government for 2009 financial year was presented to the House by the Hon Minister for Finance on Thursday, 5th March 2009.
In accordance with Standing Orders 140 (4) and 189 of the House, the Annual Budget Estimates for the Ministry of Roads and Highways were referred to the Committee for consideration and report.
The Committee met on the estimates with the Hon Minister, Joe K. Gidisu, the Chief Director, a representative from the Ministry of Finance, agency heads and officials from the Ministry. The Committee acknowledged their presence at the meeting and is grateful for their co-operation.
The departments and agencies under the Ministry are as follows:
i) Ghana Highway Authority (GHA)
i i ) D e p a r t m e n t o f U r b a n Roads (DUR)
i i i ) D e p a r t m e n t o f F e e d e r Roads (DFR)
i v ) D r i v e r Ve h i c l e a n d Licensing Authority (DVLA)
v ) N a t i o n a l R o a d S a f e t y Commis- sion (NRSC)
v i ) G o v e r n m e n t Te c h n i c a l Training Centre (GTTC)
vii) Road Transport Training Institute
viii) Road Fund Secretariat
2.0 Reference Documents
The following documents were referred to by the Committee:
i) The 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana
i i ) The S tanding Orders o f Parlia- ment
i i i ) T h e B u d g e t S t a t e m e n t and Economic Pol icy of the Government of Ghana for the 2009 financial year.
3.0 Vision
The vision of the Ministry is to play a lead role in providing integrated, efficient, cost-effective and sustainable transpor- tation system responsive to the needs of society, supporting growth and poverty reduction and capable of establishing and maintaining Ghana as a transportation hub of West Africa.
3.1 Mission
In order to realize the above vision the Ministry's mission is to establish the requisite policies and implement programmes to ensure the provision of affordable, integrated, safe, responsive and sustainable road transport system comprising road infrastructure and road transport services that will successfully mee t t he economic , soc i a l and environmental needs as well as national and international standards.
4.0 Performance in 2008
The 2008 Budget was designed to implement with special focus on the strategic thrust of GPRS II which is accelerated growth as means to sustainable poverty reduction. Additionally, the programme of integrating rural economies with the urban economies as well as ensuring lower transport costs through the provision of safe and reliable road
infrastructure and service was strongly considered.
4.1. Financial Performance of the Road Transportation Sector in
The total budget approved for the Ministry, its departments and agencies for the sector was GH¢503,287,050. This includes Internally Generated Fund (IGF) of GH¢987,923 (0.2 per cent). The budget for development partners contributions amounted to GH¢188,999,818 (38 per
cent). There was also an injection of GH¢99,834,000 from the capital market.
The contribution from Government of Ghana (GoG) was GH¢84,305,842 (17 per cent). In addition an amount of GH¢129,159,467 from the Road Fund was allocated for road maintenance activities during the year.
From table 1 above, it can be seen that as at the end of December, almost all the approved budget from GoG has been disbursed. Investments and personal emolument expenditure are above target.
  • Mr. S. K. Obodai (NPP -- Agona West) 11:40 a.m.
    Madam Speaker, the budget estimates for the Ministry of Roads and Highways this year is quite interesting. Madam Speaker, you will realize that this year's estimate has been seriously slashed such that the expenditure items for the Ministry would seriously suffer.
    Madam Speaker, the Department of Feeder Roads, for instance, in 2008 had over GH¢95,000 for certain urgent works and routine maintenance; but this year it has been slashed to about GH¢71,000. In fact, we were all expecting us to do much better than previous years; but from what has been allocated to them, it is quite disappointing.
    When you calculate the percentage decrease in some of their items, you would realize that the slash is quite over 80 per cent, 70 per cent; the least we had was around 25 per cent. I think that the Minister for Finance has to come back to this House with some supplementary budget to support the Roads and Highways Ministry.
    When you consider the Department of
    Urban Roads, Madam Speaker, we know what they do in our municipalities, and what even disturbed most of us was that their request this year was GH¢683,000 for certain urgent works and routine maintenance. But the approved ceiling was GH¢31,000 only.
    How can they embark upon routine maintenance? We know the problems we have in this country with our maintenance culture. If the road maintenance is not taken seriously, especially with certain routine maintenance, it will degenerate, and eventually, we will find ourselves spending much more than if we had done
    with this routine maintenance.
    Now, with the Department of Highways, even last year, they had more than GH¢1 million for such purposes. This year their request was GH¢1,357,500. Eventually, they have been asked to collect only GH¢318,000, about 77 per cent deficiency. Madam Speaker, in effect, I think we are only asking them to go to work and idle about because if they do not have the money to work, how can they really achieve what they are supposed to do? We know the core functions of this Ministry: to ensure lower transport cost by providing safe and reliable road infrastructure. And if the money is not there, the accoutrement, like somebody will say, is not there, how can they perform? [Interruption.] Like people have been saying, Madam Speaker, how can they perform?
    Madam Speaker, this is a very serious thing that we need to reconsider. I think that the Ministry of Finance has to come back to this House with a supplementary budget because the forward moving - This is a complete backward movement; and we know, like our great Nkrumah said: “Forward Ever, Backwards Never”. But this Budget is simply telling us that we are moving back, and it will not help us.
    So I really call on the Minister for Finance to come back to this House with a supplementary budget because when we even met the staff from the Ministry, they were all disappointed, and their faces appeared as people who have really been dampened in spirit somehow. Madam Speaker, I think that we need to get this Ministry moving.
    Madam Speaker, on this note, I will rest my case and allow my other Hon Colleagues to also contribute.
    Mr. Charles S. Hodogbey (NDC -- North Tongu) 11:50 a.m.

    to furnish a new classroom block, purchase of tools and equipment for the students and also acquire vehicles and protective clothing.

    The Committee would like to recommend that part of the emergency fund being kept at the Ministry be released to support the institute to enable the Ministry meet its objectives for the year.

    vi) With regard to the Department of Feeder Roads, the Committee was informed that most of the contracts on the cocoa roads have been signed and the works are on- going. However, it was indicated that some contracts have been terminated in the districts due to the abysmal performance of the contractors.

    It is the view of the Committee that the Ministry would take urgent steps to have these contrac ts repackaged and reawarded.

    vii) The Committee also observed that budgetary allocation for

    the Depar tment of Urban Roads is low to enable the department undertakes i ts routine maintenance work, undertake new projects and continue ongoing projects, among others . Again, the department would not be able to undertake projects in the various municipalities in the country.

    The Committee recommends that the allocation to the department be reviewed upwards to enable it continue with the construction of roads in the district capitals.

    9.0 Conclusion

    To enable the Ministry execute its programmes, the Committee recommends to the House the approval of the sum of GH¢386,370,228 (three hundred and eighty-six million, three hundred and seventy thousand, two hundred and twenty-eight Ghana cedis) for the activities of the Ministry of Roads and Highways for the financial year 2009.

    Respectfully submitted.

    Question proposed.

    To reduce accidents on our roads, we have to institute a very severe penalty for those who procure illegal licences. Besides, we need to straighten those old roads which are so zigzag to avoid unnecessary accidents; we need to widen our roads.

    In addition, Madam Speaker, when you are driving on our roads today, we have various kinds of speed checks. Some are bumps, some are holes, all kinds of speed checks. I would like to implore the Hon Minister for Roads and Highways to have a uniformed standard of speed breaks so that when motorists are driving, they will know, yes, definitely, this is the type of speed checks we have. When you are driving on some of our highways, Madam Speaker, some of the bumps are such that if you are not aware and you hit it, it will tilt your car. This is not good.

    In addition, to reduce accidents on the

    roads, the Ghana Police Service should be at certain points to check speed but not only checking papers. Some of these papers are not papers. [Interruption.] We need to help the Ghana Police Service so that when a motorist is unknowingly speeding, with their speed check they would be able to arrest that motorist -- [Interruption.]
    Nana Abu-Bonsra 11:50 a.m.
    Madam Speaker, I rise on Order 91. Madam Speaker, for the sake of the records, and indeed, we have a lot of school children here and we must be factual. He is talking about papers, papers and I was wondering whether they are the newspapers or whatever papers he is referring to. So if he can come well.
    Madam Speaker 11:50 a.m.
    Hon Member, this is a legitimate point, can you expatiate?
    Mr. Hodogbey 11:50 a.m.
    Madam Speaker, he knows what I was talking about. What I
    would also like to talk about is, Madam Speaker, our poor routine maintenance of our roads.
    Nana Abu-Bonsra 11:50 a.m.
    Madam Speaker, I have to come on my feet again with your indulgence. My Hon Colleague is claiming that I do know the papers he is referring to but Madam Speaker, in all sincerity, it is because I am confused about the use of “they are checking papers which are not papers”, that is why I sought to find out from him what kind of papers he is alluding to. So if he can help me, without assuming that I do know; I do not know, please.
    Mr. Hodogbey 11:50 a.m.
    Madam Speaker, I am referring to papers like driving licences, insurance and roadworthy certificates -- [Laughter.]
    Madam Speaker 11:50 a.m.
    Thank you, carry on, please.
    Mr. Hodogbey 11:50 a.m.
    Concerning the poor routine maintenance, Madam Speaker, in certain jurisdictions if you are driving on a highway and there is a pothole which is never fixed by the road Ministry, if there a fatal accident, the department or the Ministry responsible for the road or the city is taken to court. Ours is such that we do not care to maintain the road and people die, they do not care.
    Besides, when a motorist knocks a person down or there is a fatal accident, Madam Speaker, the first thing is, no matter who you are, you will be put behind counterback for sometime before your case goes to the court. In our case, when you kill people on the road, the only thing you do is to buy a casket to bury the dead.
    Our insurance laws have to be changed so that people who are driving become very careful so that when they kill
    SPACE FOR TABLE 11:50 a.m.

    Mr. Kwabena Owusu-Aduomi (NPP -- Ejisu-Juaben) noon
    Madam Speaker, before I move on with the support of the motion on the floor, I want us to go to page 8 of the Report and do some slight correction there. Item No. (iv), the last but two of the road projects listed under, Ejisu-Fumesua-Duaponpo -- 4.7 km. Indeed, the whole stretch is more than 4.7 km.
    The 4.7 km is referring to the dualization of the Ejisu-Fumesua section of the Ejisu-Fumesua-Duaponpo road of the Accra-Kumasi Highway that has been awarded by the previous Government. So the 4.7 km refers to the Ejisu-Fumesua section. But the whole project is Fumesua- Ejisu-Duaponpo. That is the project. So it should have been Fumesua-Ejisu- Duaponpo because Fumesua is closer to Accra than Ejisu.

    M a d a m S p e a k e r, t h e b u d g e t
    Mr. Kwabena Owusu-Aduomi (NPP -- Ejisu-Juaben) noon

    not at site, that one I will support the Ministry's decision when we met them at the meeting, that they should hold on with them. But in a situation where contractors have mobilized to site and work have begun, Madam Speaker, I will suggest that the road agencies phase the works so that they stay within the limited budgetary allocation.

    Madam Speaker, it is also important that the Ministry sources for additional funds both locally and externally. We know, after the meeting that the Ministry is proposing for an increase in rates of road tolls and also fuel levy and we are looking forward to have their Bills in Parliament.

    Madam Speaker, in spite of this limited budget, an amount of about GH¢40 million is outstanding as at the year 2008 and this amount has to be paid to the contractors who have worked and for some months now have not been paid. And even if you do this deduction from the GH¢90.1 million that the Government of Ghana provided for wholly GOG projects, Madam Speaker, you will realize that this year is going to be a very difficult year for the Ministry of Roads and Transport.

    That is why I support the Hon Member who just spoke that the Ministry of Finance should come with a supplementary budget to support the Ministry otherwise very little can be done this year.

    Madam Speaker, in view of these limited funds for the Ministry, I also suggest that we take routine maintenance work very seriously this year, at least for the short- term. We have to be patching our pot holes, we should grade our gravel roads and we should also do our grass-cutting so that we improve visibility.

    If we do not concentrate on the routine maintenance works then most of the roads that we have in good and fair conditions will be pushed to poor condition and the nation will spend much more money in bringing them back to good condition. So I suggest the Ministry should concen-trate on that.

    We should also concentrate on our roads that need periodic maintenance, re-filling and resurfacing, et cetera, so that we preserve the roads that have been in good condition for some time now.

    Madam Speaker, a l though the Ministry's budget, we have all said that it was so small for the Ministry to use, the budget for National Road Safety Commission was the worst. A request for GH¢1.45 million was made and the Commission was allocated only GH¢900,265 which is about 62 per cent.

    Madam Speaker, in view of the numerous accidents that we are having on our roads, we expected that the budgetary

    allocation to the National Road Safety Commission will be more than this at least for once. The GH¢1.45 million that was requested, we would have wished that the Commission was given all so that they embark on their programmes and also the little investments that they have to do to reduce the number of accidents that we are having on our roads.

    Madam Speaker, we suggested to the Ministry that some portion of the Emergency Funds allotted to the Ministry
    Prof. S. K. Amoako 12:10 p.m.
    I rise on Order
    91(a). Madam Speaker, honestly, I am getting confused here. I do not know which budget we are discussing. There seems to be some dichotomy between --
    The point is this, Madam Speaker, if you look at the motion, it is saying we are discussing the Ministry of Roads and Highways. The Report that was laid, which we find on page 2 is saying, “The Report of the Committee on Roads and Transport on the Annual Budget Estimates of the Ministry of Transport”. “Roads” is not mentioned there and when we come here, “Transport” is not mentioned. So I do not know whether we are just discussing Roads and Highways with the exclusion of other forms of transport. I need to be clear on that; I need direction here.
    Mr. Owusu-Aduomi 12:10 p.m.
    Speaker, the Committee is “Roads and Transport” - that is the Committee. And under the Roads and Transport Committee, we have two Ministries: We have the Ministry of Roads and Highways and we have the Ministry of Transport. So the Report of the Committee on Roads and Transport, Madam Speaker, in my opinion is right; it is not wrong.
    Dr. A. A. Osei 12:10 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, I
    crave your indulgence to come on Order 92 (b). Madam Speaker, relating to my Hon Colleague's talk on the Report and the motion, there is a fundamental problem with the motion that we are talking about. The motion is completely incorrect; so I am not sure why they are even discussing it.
    Madam Speaker, the Minister has just moved for an amount of GH¢386 million, that is not what is in the Budget Statement, so I am not sure -- [Interruption.] Yes. It is a fundamental problem. So I crave your indulgence that we suspend debates so that corrections can be made so that the appropriate motion can be brought to the House.
    Madam Speaker, if you look at the Budget Statement, the amount for the road sector is not GH¢386 million, so the Committee has completely misled us. Please, read the page -- [Interruption.] It is less than that. Madam Speaker, let us go to page -- [Interruptions.] I am not angry. I am surprised that we are still continuing with this motion.
    Madam Speaker, this is page 306 -- [Interruption.] I do not think it is the Minister's fault because if you read the Committee's Report, there are so many fundamental errors -- I can see why the Minister has been misled.
    Madam Speaker, if you start from page 3 of the Report, the Committee says “the Budget for 2008 is GH¢570 million -- that is completely wrong. That Budget was GH¢374 million. Now this year instead of GH¢285 million as the Hon Minister has presented they are asking for GH¢386 million. So Madam Speaker, the error is fundamental; I think that the Chairman and the Committee need to go back and completely bring a new report. The facts are completely not consistent with last year's Budget nor this year's Budget.
    Madam Speaker, I have a copy of last year's Budget and we can refer to it. The Ministry of Roads never received GH¢570 million; it was GH¢374 million. This year it is receiving GH¢285 million. So I am
    Dr. Osei 12:10 p.m.
    It is GH¢386 million, but it is not GH¢386 million, it is GH¢285 million -- [Interruption.] So I do not know why the Minister -- [Interruption] -- Please, sit down, it is incorrect. It is in order. Madam Speaker, let us go to page 306 -- [Interruptions] -- Ministry of Roads and Highways, GH¢386,372,228. But on page 2 -- please look at page 2 of the Report. Madam Speaker, it said they got GH¢570 million. If I go back to this statement, it is not GH¢580 million, so I am wondering where they are getting the figures from. Last year's Budget on page 2 -- [Interruptions.]
    Madam Speaker 12:10 p.m.
    Hon Member, let me ask them -- [Interruption.]
    Dr. Osei 12:10 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, the amount is GH¢374,127,584; but we are being told that it GH¢570,213,314 -- [Interruption.] That is part of the Report. Oh what do you mean? It is here.
    Madam Speaker 12:10 p.m.
    Your point is taken, let us hear from the Chairman of the Committee; he has raised an objection.
    Mr. Joe K. Gidisu 12:10 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, I think my Hon Colleague is still not detached from his last year's position as Minister of State responsible for Finance. Madam Speaker, for this year's Budget which he is trying very hard to locate for the Ministry, it is on page 127 of the Budget Statement and I do not know where he is coming from with those figures.
    After all, we are concerned with the 2009 fiscal year -- If there is a mistake
    from Road Funds should be used to support the National Road Safety Commission so that they embark on their programmes.
    Madam Speaker, the cost of accidents accounts for 1.6 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) which is about GH¢185 million and if we allot about GH¢1.5 million to the National Road Safety Commission, in my opinion it is not in the wrong direction. So we urge the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Roads and Highways to have another look at the amount allotted to the National Road Safety Commission to enable them embark on their activities.
    Madam Speaker, we are also looking forward to the Ministry to come to the House with a Bill with the tolls. Madam Speaker, the amounts that we are paying as tolls are so small that even when you give GH¢1.00 to pay tolls, change becomes difficult. So Madam Speaker, in order to generate revenue to support maintenance of our roads I am suggesting to the Ministry that they work very fast on the increase on tolls so that we also generate some funds to support the road maintenance activities.
    Madam Speaker, the Minister and the Ministry of Roads and Highways will have to work harder to source for funds externally to support our road maintenance works and other related works otherwise Madam Speaker, these amounts that have been given, I am afraid the Ministry will not be able to execute the works that they are supposed to do.
    In view of the fact that in the NDC manifesto, Madam Speaker, they want to construct roads that will last for at least 50 years, when you go to page 88 of the NDC manifesto, the last but one paragraph -- [Interruption.] --
    Mr. Joe K. Gidisu 12:10 p.m.

    for last year's figures that does not have any present working challenge for the Ministry. We are in line with the Budget.
    Dr. Osei 12:10 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, very soon the Chairman of the Finance Committee is going to come back to us and ask us to appropriate the Road Fund under Government Obligations; very soon; the report is here. That is why I am saying that something is fundamentally wrong here -- page 127 therefore it is incorrect because the Road Fund is not directly part of the Ministry's budget, it is under Government Obligations. You cannot appropriate twice; you cannot put it under Road Fund and then put it under Government Obligations. This is the Report which soon we are going to be using.
    Mr. E. T. Mensah 12:20 p.m.
    On a point of order! Madam Speaker, Hon Osei is referring to page 306, item number (8),
    Ministry of Roads and Highways and the figure is GH¢386,370,228.00 which tallies with what is on the motion, so what is the problem? What is the brouhaha about?
    Dr. Osei 12:20 p.m.
    The problem is that for the
    Ministry, what we need to appropriate should not include the Road Fund allocation. If you look at it, it says “Statutory and Discretionary”; so we need to be moving for a motion to approve that amount less the Statutory. [Inter- ruptions.] No, he said it is GH¢386 million, otherwise, when we come to Government Obligations we would again be appropriating another, same amount and we do not do it that way. So he needs to move a motion for the amount only for the Discretionary.
    Madam Speaker 12:20 p.m.
    Hon Dr. Osei, you
    sought to correct something.
    Dr. Osei 12:20 p.m.
    I think the motion would
    be better if it is amended to exclude the amount on road fund, that is, it would be consistent with the way -- Because we are moving for a motion to approve that sum for the Ministry of Roads and Highways; that is Discretionary and as I said the Chairman of the Committee has given us a Report and if you go to page (2) of that Report he is seeking to also appropriate another GH¢123 million. This paper in front of us, you cannot have it both ways.
    Madam Speaker 12:20 p.m.
    Let him explain
    the anomaly. Yes?
    Mr. Joe K. Gidisu 12:20 p.m.
    Madam Speaker,
    the immediate past Minister of State for Finance wants to give us a straitjacket within which to put these figures. Madam Speaker, in his own Budget of last year, he identified those funds and eventually captured them under the Ministry's budget.
    Madam Speaker, that is a department
    or agency under the Ministry and whatever are the total expenses allocated to that Ministry or the Ghana Road Fund comes under the Ministry's budget. So he is only trying to hijack the situation to confuse us the more. It has never been done in the Ministry.
    Mr. J. K. Avedzi 12:20 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, I think the Hon former Minister of State has lost his argument. If you look at the Budget where we are referring to, page 306 where we have the Statutory payments which are coming under Government Obligations, whatever is paid under Government Obligations, like the Ghana Road Fund is part of that Ministry's appropriation.
    Let me give you one example, Ministry of Education, there is a GETFund component that is statutory payment, that is added to the Ministry of Education's budget. And for National Health Insurance levy, it is also added to health budget. So I do not see the point he is making; he has lost his arguments completely. Local Government, District Assemblies Common Fund is added to that of Local Government. So he has lost his argument.
    Madam Speaker 12:20 p.m.
    Yes, shall we
    continue. Who was on his feet? Who had the floor before?
    Prof. Gyan-Baffour 12:20 p.m.
    Madam Speaker,
    a budget consists of two components. The statutory expenditure and then discretionary expenditure. What we are doing now is for the discretionary expenditure and not the statutory. The statutory comes separately from the discretionary -- [Interruptions] -- other- wise we double count. So if you do not do it now, then you do not have to do it under Government Obligations.
    That is what he is saying; so please, that is the right way to do it, we have done it for eight years, that is the right way to do it; you do not do the statutory and then you add the statutory to the discretionary. You have to do them separately and that is what he is pointing at. So we have to do that otherwise within the accounting, we will have double count and the expenditure would exclude the revenue; that is exactly what he is saying, Madam Speaker, and that is the way it is done.
    Minister for Communications (Mr.
    Haruna Iddrisu): Madam Speaker, thank you for the opportunity. I believe strongly that Hon Dr. Osei was raising issue about the quantum of money. Madam Speaker, may I refer you to page 127, paragraph 547 of the Budget Statement. It does capture what is reflected in the motion GH¢386,270,228 for the services of the Ministry of Roads and Highways for the 2009 fiscal year.
    Madam Speaker, it goes further to make
    a breakdown of what is expected from the Government of Ghana, GH¢90,114,575; Internally Generated Fund, GH¢1,113,020. But more specifically, it captures under the paragraph, Ghana Road Fund GH¢123,-
    Madam Speaker, if you come back to the Budget Statement as he referred to -- page 306, which is what the learned Professor referred to, I do not think that it is out of place to add statutory expen-diture to the discretionary. The dis-cretionary, he may be right. If you look at page 306 properly, look at the line Statutory Funds and indeed that is why when Ministries in presenting their reports and asking for Parliament's approval they specify the institutions under that Ministry.
    The Ghana Road Fund quite clearly is under Ministry of Roads and Highways and there is some allocation which is
    Prof. Gyan-Baffour 12:20 p.m.

    statutory expenditure and it must be captured for purpose of appropriation.

    So what has been done in page 306 is in line and not just for Road Fund. We have for instance the GETFund, we have National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), District Assemblies Common Fund under the Minister for Local Government. It is only appropriate that we add that statutory allocation to discretionary in order to get the figure. So I do not think that this should amount to a demand that we should withdraw this motion. The motion is appropriate, Madam Speaker.
    Madam Speaker 12:20 p.m.
    Who was on his feet? Can you finish?
    Dr. Osei 12:20 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, with
    Some Hon Members 12:20 p.m.
    Sit down.
    Mr. Kwabena Owusu-Aduomi 12:20 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, in winding up, I will plead --[Interruptions.] Madam Speaker, I have yielded to Dr. Osei.
    Madam Speaker 12:20 p.m.
    He has finished.
    Dr. Osei 12:20 p.m.
    Madam Speaker -- [Inter-
    Madam Speaker 12:20 p.m.
    Hon Dr. Osei,
    I have not called you, your time will come; I have not reached you yet. He has finished; it is this side. The next Member to contribute is Hon Abdul Ibrahim.
    Mr. Owusu-Aduomi 12:20 p.m.
    Speaker, I have not finished with my contribution.
    Madam Speaker 12:20 p.m.
    All right, wind up.
    Mr. Owusu-Aduomi 12:20 p.m.
    Madam Speaker 12:20 p.m.
    All right, carry on. I want the Hon Member to finish with his contribution. Let him finish. Yes, Hon Member, finish your -- [Some Hon Members: He has finished.] He has finished? Then I am moving on to Hon Abdul Ibrahim. He would be the next Member to contribute.
    Mr. Frederick Opare-Ansah 12:30 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, on a point of order. Madam Speaker, I wanted to draw your attention to the fact that Hon Kwabena Owusu- Aduomi was still on his feet, he had not quite concluded his -- [Interruption.]
    Madam Speaker 12:30 p.m.
    He told me he had
    Mr. Opare-Ansah 12:30 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, I
    believe he gave an indication that he was yielding for information from his Hon Colleague, Dr. Anthony Akoto Osei, and just to indicate that the matter on which Hon Dr. Osei was up on his feet on the point of order is a very important matter and I believe it would serve the House a very good purpose if we want to hear him out.
    It is a decision we need to make as to how we wish to proceed on this matter of appropriation. Do we want to bunch it altogether at the various Ministries or do we want to separate the discretionary from the statutory?
    It is important that we take a decision to help us on how we proceed with other Ministries, otherwise, we would probably have this very problem recurring as we proceed with the Ministries which have the two types of expenditures to approve.
    So if you would indulge us, let us hear Hon Dr. Osei provide the information and Hon Owusu-Aduomi to duly conclude his contribution to this debate.
    Madam Speaker 12:30 p.m.
    I had heard Hon
    Dr.Osei, there had been contributions also on both sides and my decision is that we go on with the matter. I have already ruled. [Interruptions.] Hon Dr. Osei was not the one contributing, it was Hon Owusu-Aduomi. I mistakenly thought he had finished, if he had not finished, I would go back to him. Let him complete his submission and then quickly wind up.
    Mr. Owusu-Aduomi 12:30 p.m.
    Speaker, I was concluding by saying that the Ministry of Roads and Highways would have to source for additional funds both locally and externally, to support the road works that have to be done within the year.
    It is the anticipation that the Ministry of Finance will also, in the supplementary budget look at the different amounts that would help the Ministry of Roads and Highways to achieve the 40 to 50 per cent target that they have for this year.
    Madam Speaker, I was saying that the NDC manifesto, on page 88, the last but one paragraph, it indicates that roads would be constructed to last for at least 50 years. And if we are constructing roads to last for at least 50 years then it means your cost per kilometre would be high, more than the 20-year design period that we have at the moment. I am advising that the Ministry should find more money to support the activities of the agencies and the other works that they would have to do at the Ministry.
    Madam Speaker, on this note, I wish to thank you very much for the opportunity.
    Mr. Tanko Abdul-Rauf Ibrahim
    (NDC -- Yagaba/Kubori): Madam Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to contribute to this motion and in doing so, Madam Speaker, I would want to refer you to your Committee on Roads and Transport Report for the Ministry of Roads and Highways. Madam Speaker, on page 9 of the Report, if you look at (vi) and with your kind permission, Madam Speaker, I would want to quote:
    “The Department of Feeder Roads will undertake the following feeder road projects. The reshaping and routine maintenance on 26,590 km of engineered and 300 km of un-engineered feeder roads in areas with low roads density. Additionally, the Department will as part of its programme for the year, also carry out periodic maintenance projects including the surfacing of roads which started in 2007 and are at various stages of completion, among others.”
    Madam Speaker, it would interest you to note that, the programme for the Department of Feeder Roads is to execute these projects. But three months down the line, Members of this House, from both sides, would approach the Directors of Feeder Roads at their various Ministries and agencies to lobby for projects, which may derail the Directors from this programme.
    Madam Speaker, if you look at the programme that they have and the pressure that may be mounted on the Directors to take certain projects from various constituencies of Hon Members of this House and the predicament that the Department and the Ministry as a whole face and the allocation that is made to the Ministry, you would find out that the GH¢386,370,228 as against the GH¢987 million planned budget for the Ministry,
    Madam Speaker 12:30 p.m.
    Mr. Addai-Nimoh 12:40 p.m.
    Madam Speaker,
    not only that, the road from Tema to Sogakope to Akatsi has been asphalted and the First Deputy Speaker, I am sure, will testify to the fact that if he is going to his constituency, it takes maybe about one hour to drive from Accra to his constituency. Therefore, the continuation of unprecedented quantum of road projects in this country, if the proposal comes, should be supported by both sides of this House. But what do we see in this year's Budget, Madam Speaker?
    In this year's Budget, the core function of the Ministry of Roads and Highways is expressed in its Investment portfolio. But if you look at the investment vote, it does not come anywhere near what we have experienced in the previous years.
    We are talking about an investment portfolio of about GH¢261 million which is a combination of the Consolidated Fund and then the donor fund. Madam Speaker, this amount, I can assure you cannot do any meaningful work or substantial work in this country for this year.
    But Madam Speaker, in the Budget Statement, the Minister for Finance gives the indication that, on infrastructure, he is going to use infrastructure to generate employment, and road infrastructure is one area that generates a lot of employ-ment.
    But if we have such an insufficient investment vote then what kind of employment generation are we going to witness this year? I am afraid what this Budget seeks to do to generate employment is not likely to occur.
    Madam Speaker, one component of the Ministry's fund is what we call the Road Fund and if you look at the Report on
    is woefully inadequate and there is the need, Madam Speaker, for an increase in the Ministry's budget.
    Madam Speaker, in considering the
    budget estimates for the Ministry, certain issues cropped up, and I would want to, at least, highlight some of the issues.
    Madam Speaker, there is always complaints by clients or maybe, certain communities or Ghanaians to the effect that certain projects awarded by the Ministry of Roads and Highways are shoddily done. And I have had the opportunity to serve on this Committee in the previous Parliament and we went to almost the ten regions to inspect projects that were awarded by the Ministry.
    What we realised was that one of the major contributors to this shoddy works that we have is lack of strict supervision. Sometimes, projects are awarded to contractors and then contractors are allowed to do whatever they want to do at the site.

    Sometimes they do not do the work according to specification and then the engineers will only go to the site at the latter part of the execution period to find out that the projects were not properly done. Madam Speaker, what I want to say is that you cannot give a project of about GH¢5 billion or GH¢10 billion to a contractor and you want the finishing to be good and then there is no supervision.

    I will therefore suggest, Madam Speaker, to the donor agencies that at least, at any given time that they are making preparation for the quantification for projects to be awarded, they should factor the cost of supervision, they should factor the cost of maybe acquiring vehicles
    Mr. Addai-Nimoh 12:40 p.m.

    Department to monitor the execution of projects in his particular region was the lack of engineers to inspect the roads.

    I will therefore entreat the Ministry to, at least, in the interest of good work, get engineers even if it is the employment of consultants to make sure that they supervise these roads to its proper conclusion.

    Madam Speaker, with these few words, I will urge all my Colleagues to support the motion.
    Mr. Francis Addai-Nimoh (NPP -- Mampong) 12:40 p.m.
    Thank you, Madam Speaker, for the opportunity to contribute to the motion on the floor regarding the Report from the Committee on Roads and Transport, about the Annual Estimates of the Ministry of Roads and Highways.
    Madam Speaker, road transport is one of the four modes of transportation and in this country, it has been established that the road transport services constitute over 90 per cent of our transportation needs. What I mean to say is that the movement of goods, services and people from one geographical point to another is mainly by road and therefore our road network is so important and crucial to us in terms of development and maintenance.
    Madam Speaker, in the past eight years, under the NPP Administration with the leadership of President J. A. Kufuor, this country witnessed an unprecedented quantum of road projects at any given time -- [Hear! Hear!] And I can tell you, Madam Speaker, my Colleagues on the other side know of it -- [Interruptions.] The Majority Leader even knows of it, that the road from Bamboi through Tinga to Bole was constructed under the NPP Administration of President J. A. Kufuor. [Interruption.]
    Mr. Francis Addai-Nimoh (NPP -- Mampong) 12:50 p.m.
    time all the traffic signals do work so that vehicular conflicts, as we tend to see, will reduce.
    If you go to Bawku, we have installed
    traffic lights at Bawku. Bolgatanga has a lot of traffic lights and so has Wa. But if these facilities are not functioning, then why should they be there? So I urge the Hon Minister to look at signalisation - the maintenance of traffic signals very seriously.
    Madam Speaker, on page 11, and with
    your permission, I would like to read paragraphs 2 and 3:
    “It also observed that there are leakages at the collection points. The Committee's attention was drawn to the fact that some vehicles escape payment.” The Committee is also urging the Ministry to educate the general public on exemptions regarding the payment of toll.”
    I believe this relates to the collection of road tolls. But Madam Speaker, as the Hon Minister may know, collection of road tolls has been privatised and therefore the private collectors are required to meet their obligation to the Ministry with their annual subscriptions.
    So if the private collectors do not ensure that all vehicles arriving at those points pay and they allow them to go, I believe that it is the private collectors who are eventually going to suffer. So they have to strengthen the private collectors, make sure that their security is protected at those toll booths so that they can collect the tolls.
    Madam Speaker, on the same page 11,
    paragraph (iii), I beg to quote:
    “The Committee noted that the National Road Safety Commission
    fund. But Madam Speaker, I wonder if Parliament, over the years, has passed any Bill on emergency fund to be part of the public funds of Ghana. I suppose it is just an emergency component of the Road Fund. So, I want that clarification to be noted by the Hon Minister. If I may read from the Report:
    “The Committee would l ike to recommend that part of the emergency fund being kept at the Ministry be released to support the Institute to enable the Ministry meet its objectives for the year.”
    My point is that, there is no emergency fund in this country. Parliament or the Constitution of this Republic does not specify any emergency fund. We have a Road Fund and if there is a component called the “emergency component” then it should be stated as such.
    On this note, Madam Speaker, my
    last suggestion to the Hon Minister is that, in this sector we always talk about value for money; and to achieve value for money, it is a process. And once it is a process, it begins and ends somewhere. The achievement of the value-for-money in terms of road investment begins when studies and detailed designs are being undertaken.
    Therefore, I would urge the Hon Minister that they should focus firstly on ensuring that they achieve value for money at the studies and detailed engineering phase. We achieve that also at the tendering phase, and we achieve that at the construction and supervision phase.
    On this note, Madam Speaker, I thank
    you for allowing me the opportunity.
    Mr. Haruna H. Bayirga (PNC -
    Sissala West): Madam Speaker, thank you for giving me the opportunity to contribute
    page three, in 2008 the Road Fund was estimated to generate or accrue an amount of GH¢129 million but as at December, 2008 an amount of GH¢191.7 million had been disbursed from the Road Fund.
    But if you look at this year's Budget, Madam Speaker, on page number 6, the Road Fund estimate is GH¢123 million and I am finding it intriguing to understand how this estimate was arrived at, judging from as at December we have disbursed an amount of GH¢191.7 million from the Road Fund; and this year we are only budgeting or we are estimating GH¢123 million. Madam Speaker, I believe that there is some error somewhere and this figure must be reviewed and this House must be informed of the accurate figure of how much we are going to generate from the Road Fund.

    Madam Speaker, on page 10 of the Report, we noticed the heading -- “Maintenance of Traffic Signals” -- and with your permission, I would like to read:

    “The Ministry intends to review the contracts for the maintenance of traffic signals in the various urban areas to meet the challenges associated with efficient operation of the signals.”

    Madam Speaker, signalisation of any road junction, seeks to remove or reduce or eliminate vehicular conflicts. And therefore, if we instal traffic lights and the lights are not functioning and there are vehicular conflicts, then we have occurrence of accidents. So I would urge the Ministry and the Hon Minister to look at the signalisation of our traffic junctions very seriously to make sure that at every
    Mr. Francis Addai-Nimoh (NPP -- Mampong) 12:50 p.m.

    has not been effective in the discharge of their responsibilities in view of the numerous accidents we have on our roads today.”

    Madam Speaker, I believe that the National Road Safety Commission has been doing its work over the years. Road accidents, as we know, the causes are mainly of threefold; one, the road itself; two, the vehicle and three, the human. And it is noted that about 85 per cent is due to human error. But Madam Speaker, the human error could also be due to fatigue, it could be due to drink-drive, it could be due to recklessness and above all, it could even be due to spiritual -- [Hear! Hear!] -- And Madam Speaker, if it is a spiritual human error, who are we that we can solve it? It requires that the whole of this country go on its knees to pray to our Maker to ensure that if the road accidents are due to spiritual means, then there should be a stop to it.

    Madam Speaker, on page 12, the

    second paragraph, with your permission, I would like to read:

    “It was also observed that the Ghana Highway Authority has about GH¢11.0 million outstanding arrears to pay contractors from its meagre budgetary allocation.”

    Madam Speaker, in the Budget highlights, we are told that the road arrears is about GH¢109 million. And so I find it a bit confusing to understand Ghana Highways Authority as the major stakeholder in the road sector arrears has only GH¢11 million. Therefore I would urge the Ministry and the Committee to find out the accuracy of this figure.

    In conclusion, I know that the

    Committee mentioned an emergency
    Mr. Addai-Nimoh 12:50 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, I come on Order 91. My Hon Colleague gave the impression that the engineers do not do thorough designs. In fact, I am also a professional engineer and therefore, it touches on the competence of engineers so I am also affected.
    Madam Speaker, I want my Hon Colleague to cite a typical example that he is talking about that we engineers fail to design culverts appropriately. Let him come again, otherwise, he should withdraw that statement.
    Mr. Bayirga 1 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, if you
    Madam Speaker 1 p.m.
    Hon Member, he
    has replied that it was the nature of the road and gutters he sees that made him say that about engineers. Is that not enough for you?
    Mr. Addai-Nimoh 1 p.m.
    Madam Speaker,
    no. There is a clear distinction between a technician engineer and a qualified or a full engineer. Again, Madam Speaker, shoddy work is not only attributable to faulty design; it could be due to the use of unsuitable material in the construction of that facility and therefore, I would like my Hon Friend to know that if there is any shoddy work that he has identified anywhere, he should not attribute it to the competence of engineers in the design of such a facility.
    been done and I am still expecting that if the Hon Minister does not take quick action the rains in the northern sector are just about coming, in a few months time and if he does not take the necessary precautions to rectify the damage that has been caused to the roads, especially from Fielmon to Gwollu, from Han to Gwollu, from Jeffisi to Gwollu and Gwollu to Tumu, the district would be cut off again.
    With these few words, Madam Speaker, I want to support the Budget Estimates and urge my Hon Colleagues to pass it through.
    Madam Speaker 1 p.m.
    I think the next Hon
    Member to contribute is Hon Dr. Akoto Osei. Hon Member, have you not already contributed to this, because you cannot do it twice.
    Dr. Osei 1 p.m.
    No, Madam Speaker, I was
    not contributing.
    Madam Speaker 1 p.m.
    You raised a point
    of order? All right, carry on.
    Dr. A. A. Osei (NPP - Old Tafo) 1 p.m.
    Hon Colleague yielded to me. Madam Speaker, my job as an MP is to try, like all my Hon Colleagues to let this House do the proper thing.
    Madam Speaker, it is for a reason that you referred the Statutory Obligations to the Finance Committee and everything else to the other Select Committees; it is for a reason. As far as I know, this House, and I am sure the Clerks can confirm it, that when we come to the Ministries it is the discretionary estimates motion that we bring for approval and then we leave the Statutory Obligations to the Finance Committee.
    This practice, at least, in my first term, has gone on for the last Parliament. So I
    to the approval of the Roads and Highways sector Budget.
    Madam Speaker, in the Budget, cutting
    down cost is one of the major areas the Hon Minister touched on. But when one comes to the road sector, especially the feeder roads sector, the Government of Ghana is losing a lot of funds; a lot of money that, to me, is being washed down the drain.
    Madam Speaker, let us take reshaping of roads as an example. Across the whole country, when we say reshaping of roads, it involves three main activities, that is the reshaping, watering and compacting. But what do we see? We see the graders reshape the loose earth like that and go in for their certificates and payment is done, leaving the watering and compacting. Any small rain washes away the shape of the earth and it even worsens the road that has been reshaped. And if we really want to cut down cost, these are the areas that we have to look at very critically.
    An Hon Colleague mentioned the
    consultants and the engineers, some of them are also not helping at all, especially wrong design of culverts. In designing culverts, one needs to take a lot of things into consideration, especially the amount of water that passes through that particular place in a year. They do not do it. They go in the dry season and take their measurement and then construct the culverts there. The next time it rains the culverts are washed away.
    Again, an Hon Colleague mentioned that about 60 per cent of the culverts that are constructed are shabbily done. By looking at the concrete works of a culvert, one will know whether it is of good concrete.
    Madam Speaker 1 p.m.
    I think that is a
    point of correction.
    Mr. Bayirga 1 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, if he

    When we talk of shoddy jobs, Madam Speaker, the consultant, the supervising engineer and the contractor are those to be held responsible. Those shoddy jobs that are done, certificates are raised, payment is done, the contractor takes his money away. The consultant or the supervising engineer knows that the job has not been well executed. Meanwhile, he goes ahead and issues a certificate so that the contractor would go and take his money away.

    This is what I meant by saying that a lot of money is washed down the drain. I do not say it is only the consultants or the engineers. I said, some of them; some are good, some are also looking for money into their pockets.

    Madam Speaker, the budget for this

    year on the road network is woefully inadequate and if I should have the chance of raising it, I would do it. During last year's rain my district capital, Gwollu was completely cut off for several weeks.

    Meanwhile, that area is the food basket of the Upper West Region. For two, three weeks trucks full load of corn and foodstuffs got stuck in the middle of the roads. As at now, we cried, not much has
    Mr. Bayirga 1:10 p.m.
    Hon Colleagues on the other side should accept - the Hon Minister has asked us to provide constructive criticisms. That is exactly what I am doing.

    The Minister should not be defensive. In fact, I have sympathy for him. If you look at the budget from last year to this year, he is having to make do with less so that by itself, has generated a lot of anxiety for him. I really sympathise with the Minister, going from a huge amount, he does not have the luxury of the capital market funding to spend, but that is all right. But we should do the proper thing.

    I am not attacking the Majority Leader. He wants us to do the proper thing, so I am sure now that he has been told that, that is what he has been doing for 16 years, for the next four years, he should allow us to continue to do the proper thing.

    So I crave his indulgence that we do what we have done all these years and let the Minister speak on the motion for us to approve the discretionary estimates then when we go to Government Financial Obligations, we can approve the Statutory Obligations as we have done when we were both on this side and now on the other side. So Madam Speaker, with those few words, I ask this House to take a pause and allow the Majority Leader to come properly and we would gladly vote

    for the budget.
    Mr. J. K. Gidisu 1:10 p.m.
    Madam Speaker,
    I think the essence of the debate on the floor is to draw attention to some of the issues that would move us forward. The Hon Colleague, former Minister of State brought up a point which , I think we would reconcile our position with him. As at now, we move that the discretionary budget of the Ministry will stand at GH¢263,087,821 less the Road Fund, which will come and be captured under the Special Budget Committee's Report to this House.
    On that score, Madam Speaker, I think we will reconcile ourselves with that position.
    Mr. A. S. K. Bagbin 1:10 p.m.
    Madam Speaker,
    I thank you very much. I have no problem with us improving on what we do in this House but I have the Report here from the same Committee for last year. I have the Report from the same Committee for last two years and it is the same format that this Committee used to present the Report. That is the same. The Road Fund is always captured in the Report for approval.
    But it is true that when we go to the second stage of the Appropriation Bill, we remove the Statutory funds and put them under Government Obligations. So when you go through the Reports -- That is why I rushed down to make sure that I was on solid ground. I got it on solid ground, the Reports are here. I am talking about the motions and the Reports.
    Madam Speaker, it is true that the Statutory funds should come under Government Obligations but because of the precedents the Committee was misled in also capturing as we do. So now we can change the format and the processes and make sure that it is always captured separately.
    am surprised that my Hon Colleagues, in trying to bring the attention to the proper things that we have been doing for all these years, they think I am just criticizing them.
    Madam Speaker, as I said, it is for a reason that your goodself referred those under the Statutory payments to the Finance Committee.
    We have this morning laid a Report by the Finance Committee on those Statutory Obligations which we would be looking at. If you go to that Report, you would see all those Statutory payments listed there, including Road Fund. And as I said, I am sure your Clerks can confirm this for you. I was just trying to point out that proper thing, so that we as a House are seen to be doing the proper thing and then my Hon Colleagues think I am criticizing them.
    Madam Speaker, if you read the Report, sometimes the information presented makes us look like we are not doing proper diligence. Madam Speaker, if you go to page 2 of the Report and with your permission, I read:
    “The total budget approved for the Ministry, its Departments and Agencies for the sector was
    Madam Speaker, then when you go
    to page 3, and you look at table (1) and you look down -- Total Budget -- 2008. And the amount here is GH¢570,213,314. Madam Speaker, how could the budget approve the GH¢503 million and then at the same time accounting for it we say it is GH¢570 million? There is something obviously wrong with the Report.
    I am not saying people have intentionally misled this House. But the numbers do not add up and I am just pointing it out that
    Mr. A. S. K. Bagbin 1:10 p.m.

    maybe, the Committee, out of exuberance of trying to rush through the work, may have just made the mistake. But we should do the proper thing. You cannot repeat GH¢503 million being approved and then go and repeat at GH¢570 million. And so when you make a statement like the contribution from Government of Ghana was GH¢84 million, that is clearly incorrect.

    Madam Speaker, the capital market funding is Government of Ghana; road arrears, is Government of Ghana. So to make a statement like the contribution, somebody who does not understand the details may completely be misled. These are the issues that I am pointing out and these are facts. I am not forming an opinion here; I am just laying down the facts that the Committee needs to clarify these statements, otherwise, if we approve this Report without further explanation, posterity would not treat this Parliament very well.

    If we have made a mistake, we are human beings; we need to correct it and as to the practice we have been having, at least for the last Parliament, I stand to be corrected, Madam Speaker, we do allow the Ministers to defend the discretionary estimates and then the Finance Committee brings the statutory declarations, because we would accumulate and add up. And if we are not careful it is where double counting comes.

    My Hon Colleague, Hon Minister for Communications, I am sure can confirm it. The Leadership on the other side, I am sure can confirm it. If that is the practice why are we running away from it? We should just do the proper thing with an amendment and then it would be all right. I am not trying to send us back; I am trying to move us forward in the right direction. So I think that my
    Mr. J. K. Avedzi 1:10 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, my Leader has spoken but I have a point which I
    need to clarify. I have with me the Appropriation Act for 2008 and this is what we have. The First Schedule to the Act has the Statutory payments which include the Road Fund.
    they will continue to support the Ministry which is the bedrock of improving the road network in the country. The Finance Committee will capture the Road Fund under the Special Budgetary provisions.
    On this note, I want to thank Hon Members for their contributions and suggestions which we will take on board.
    Madam Speaker 1:10 p.m.
    Hon Minister, the
    figure has been amended, is that so?
    Mr. J. K. Gidisu 1:20 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, the
    figure now stands at GH¢263,087,821 for the Ministry.

    Question put and motion agreed to.


    That this honourable House approves the sum of GH¢263,- 807,821.00 for the Services of the Ministry of Roads and Highways for the 2009 fiscal year.
    Madam Speaker 1:20 p.m.
    Can we now move on to the first motion then, since the Minister is here. That is number 5.
    Mr. Bagbin 1:20 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, initially I indicated that we would take items 10 and 9 before we move on to item 5 because they should have been taken yesterday but we could not take them yesterday. So now that we have finished with item 10, could we take 9 before we go to 5?
    Madam Speaker 1:20 p.m.
    Well, whatever you suggest because I got the impression that we did not go to item 5 because the Minister was not present. But if it is your desire that we take 9, why not, we will.
    Mr. Bagbin 1:20 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, my
    desire is that we take 9 before we go to 5. The main reason being that they are out- standing business. In fact, just yesterday we should have taken them, we did not, so let us give priority to that before we go to today's business.
    Madam Speaker 1:20 p.m.
    Thank you, Honourable. We will go to item 9. The Hon Minister for Employment and Social Welfare, you may move the numbered 9.
    ANNUAL ESTIMATES 1:20 p.m.

    Minister for Employment and Social Welfare (Mr. Stephen Amoanor Kwao) 1:20 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, I beg to move, that this Honourable House approves the sum of GH¢416,401.00 for the Services of the National Labour Commission for the 2009 fiscal year.
    Madam Speaker, having said this, may I say a little about the National Labour Commission.
    Madam Speaker, the National Labour Commission was established under section 135 of the Labour Act, 2003 (Act 651). The Law makes provision for the establishment of an independent National Labour Commission and a functional Secretariat.
    Madam Speaker, the underlying principles of the Labour Act which created the Commission are:
    Stability in labour relations
    Maintenance of human dignity in labour relations
    Creation of a flexible labour market
    Conditions for development and growth of the nation The need for equity and social protection
    Madam Speaker 1:20 p.m.
    Hon Member, I
    think your points have been taken care of.
    Mr. J. K. Gidisu 1:20 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, in winding up, I appreciate the concerns of Hon Members on the inadequate resources for the Ministry for this fiscal year. It is our anticipation that the Mid-year Review Budget by the Ministry of Finance will take care of those serious considerations as highlighted in the views of Hon Members.
    Madam Speaker, notwithstanding this shortcoming, I can assure this Honourable House of prudent and judicious use of the limited resources allocated to the Ministry.
    Madam Speaker, suggestions have come from Hon Members as to what we could do, for example, increasing the amount that comes into the Road Fund. Madam Speaker, I am very delighted to hear from the other side the suggestions which will involve the increase in the road tolls as well as plucking the leakages in the collection of the tolls. I just want to tell Hon Members or to advise that very soon, we would be coming with the Legislative Instrument on the increase in those tolls which I believe will receive bi-partisan approval from the House.
    Equally, we are looking at mechanizing the road tolls as a way of plucking the leakages and this we assure you within the next two months, signs will be on the roads for you to see.
    Madam Speaker, I would want to
    finally move that the budgetary approval for the Ministry now, as it is less the Road Fund will be GH¢263,087,821 and at the appropriate time the Special Budget will capture the Road Fund under the special funding to this House.
    Madam Speaker, I want to thank Hon
    Members for the contributions and hope
    Consolidation and accessibility of the law.
    Madam Speaker, the Commission was established for the specific purpose of
    creating a congenial labour and industrial relations regime to make Ghana attractive to both internal and external investors and also ensuring that labour is fairly treated. To this end, the Commission has the power to investigate, facilitate the settlement of labour disputes and settle labour disputes. It also promotes effective co-operation between labour and management, among
    It is important to state here that, this amount is woefully inadequate and cannot meet the cost of running the duties of the Commission as required under Act 651. The National Labour Commission is currently housed in rented premises, and the accommodation per year is GH¢50,000.00. The Commission also purchases GH¢18,000.00 pre-paid electricity per annum. Fuel, security, stationery and other expenditures cannot also be met with the meagre sum provided.
    Madam Speaker, the law makes provision for the payment of allowances for the Chairman and six (6) members of the Commission. Section 142 of the law stipulates that “The Members of the Commission shall be paid allowances determined by the Minister in consultation with the Minister for Finance”. Allowances for the members of the Commission total GH¢78,000.00 per annum and is met from the Administrative Vote under “Other Allowances”.
    The above stated expenditures are apart from other expenses for the day-to-day running of the Commission which are met from the Administrative Vote.
    Service Activity
    Madam Speaker, an allocation of GH¢79,939.00 has been provided for these service activities. The Commission has only one office in Accra servicing the whole of the country. The Commission therefore, intends this year, pending the opening of regional offices to undertake among others, nation-wide educational programmes to educate the stakeholders in the labour market. The idea is that, when people are well-informed, industrial strifes will be minimized. This will lead to industrial stability and economic growth as well.
    Mr. J. K. Gidisu 1:30 p.m.
    Space for table
    Madam Speaker, a total amount of GH¢29,986.00 has been allocated for Administration Expenses of the Commis-sion.
    others. Madam Speaker, the sum requested for is four hundred and sixteen thousand, four
    hundred and one Ghana cedis (GH¢416,401.00) as provided for in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning's allocation to the Commission to carry out its activities. The breakdown of this amount is as follows:
    Personal Emolument (P.E.)
    Madam Speaker, on Personal Emolu-ment (PE) a total amount of GH¢256,476.00 has been allocated to the Commission.
    Administration Expenses
    Madam Speaker, the Commission plans to hold a programme for members of the Judiciary in the northern sector on the provisions of the law on the theme: “The role of the Judiciary in the work of the Commission”. This programme is to allow the Commission and the Judiciary to appreciate each other's role, especially with respect to section 172 of Act 651 on the Enforcement of Orders/Directions of the Commission. A similar programme was held for Judges in the southern sector in 2008.
    Madam Speaker, it is also important to note that, in enforcing its decisions and orders, the Commission pays legal fees. Sometimes for lack of its own counsel, the Commission hires the services of private legal practitioners to prosecute the very complex cases in court. Such payments, which are enormous are borne from the Commission's funds. The amount allocated under Service Vote is therefore insufficient to meet the expenditures under Service Activities. Investment Activity
    Madam Speaker, a total amount of GH¢50,000 has been allocated under this activity. The National Labour Commis- sion will be four years old in April this year; this means that, the Commission is still in its formative stages of life. The Commission plans to open regional offices in at least three regions. The offices will have to be furnished and equipped with computers and their accessories. A communication network will have to be set up including facsimile facilities.
    The Commission will also have to purchase vehicles and motorcycles to support its work in the regions. In addition, because of the nature of the work of the Commission which involves a lot of mobility, there is the need to purchase a few vehicles to augment the ones which are already in the system and which are
    now old because of their extensive use. However, provision has not adequately been made in the Investment Vote to take care of the expenditures under Investment.
    Madam Speaker, the National Labour Commission in 2008, despite its financial constraints achieved some laudable successes. These included the settlement of over 60 per cent of the cases brought before it, successful enforcement of its decisions and orders at the courts, held four major sensitization workshops for the Judiciary and stakeholders in the labour market (employers and organized labour), produced its annual report to the Government and trained staff and members of the Commission.
    The Commiss ion th rough i t s work collected over GH¢120,000 as compensation to petitioners. Nothing was retained to improve the work of the Commission, because the law does not allow that. Conclusion
    Madam Speaker, in conclusion, I beg to move, that the House approves the total sum of four hundred and sixteen thousand, four hundred and one Ghana cedis (GH¢416,401.00) for the National Labour Commission.
    I, however, wish to quickly add that, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning considers a supplementary budget for the National Labour Commission for the year 2009. This is because with the amount allocated to the Commission it cannot operate, let alone undertake any meaningful programme in relation to its core functions.
    Madam Speaker, I beg to move.

    Chairman of the Committee (Mr.

    P. C. Hayibor): Madam Speaker, I rise to second the motion ably moved by my Minister, and in doing so present the Report of the Committee.

    1.0 Introduction

    Further to the presentation of the 2009 Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the Government by the Hon Minister for Finance and Economic P l a n n i n g on Thursday, 5th March, 2009, and subsequent motion for its adoption, the Annual Estimates for the fiscal year 2009 of the National Labour Commission was referred to the Committee on Employment, Social Welfare and State Enterprises for consideration and report pursuant to Orders 140 (4) and 184 of the Standing Orders of the House and article 179 of the Constitution.

    2.0 Committee Sitting

    The Committee met with the Executive Secretary and officials of the National Labour Commission and considered the Estimates of the Commission. The Committee is grateful to them for their co-operation during the hearing.

    3.0 Reference Documents

    In considering the Estimates, the underlisted documents were consulted:

    ( i ) The 1992 Consti tut ion of the Republic of Ghana.

    ( i i ) T h e B u d g e t S t a t e m e n t

    and Economic Pol icy of the Govern- ment of Ghana for the 2009 financial year.

    ( i i i ) T h e B u d g e t S t a t e m e n t and Economic Po l i cy o f the Government of Ghana for the 2008 financial year.

    ( iv ) The S tand ing Order s o f the Parliament of Ghana.

    4.0 Mission Statement and Objectives

    The National Labour Commission exists to develop and sustain a peaceful and harmonious industrial relations environment through the use of effective dispute resolution practices within the context of the law, promotion of co- operation among the labour market players and mutual respect for their rights and responsibilities.

    In order to realize its mission, the National Labour Commission set for itself the following objectives:

    To promote a peaceful and harmonious industrial relations environment through the use of flexible labour market practices to attract investors both foreign and local for the growth of the economy:

    To strengthen the institutional capacity of the Commission to discharge its functions:

    To promote industrial democracy and social dialogue:

    To develop a peaceful working environment for the enhancement of productivity.

    5.0 Review of the 2008 Performance of the Commission

    In the year under review the Commission made some achievements which are worthy of mention.

    5.1 Industrial Harmony

    The industrial atmosphere in the year under review was relatively calm although there were a few agitations from some public and private sector employees. To
    Madam Speaker 1:30 p.m.
    But before we go on to debate this, I would like to stand the debate down and move on to item three. I have admitted a Statement which I would ask - [Pause] Sorry, the writer did not put his name on. It is about tuberculosis and Human Immune Virus (HIV). [Pause.] All right, we will move on with the debate then.
    Mr. Paul Okoh (NPP - Asutifi
    North): Madam Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to support the motion on the floor asking the House to approve the budget of GH¢416,401.00 for the Services of the National Labour Commission for the 2009 fiscal year.
    Madam Speaker, I would want to
    make some few observations. And I want to go back to the reason why the Labour Act was enacted. In fact, the Labour Act, (Act 651), 2003 was enacted for several purposes, and the major purpose was that before this Act, and before the Commis- sion came into being, there were a lot of industrial strikes and people took the law into their own hands and did whatever they wanted to do.
    Employers were cheating employees, employees were also not acting correctly. Therefore, the Commission was set up to settle such labour disputes so that things would move on very well. If you look at what has happened now; if you look at pages 3 to page 4 of the Report of the Committee, and with your permission,
    Madam Speaker, I would want to go through that 1:40 p.m.
    Outlook for 2009:

    Maj (Dr.) (Alhaji) Mustapha Ahmed (retd): Madam Speaker, I stepped out to use the -- and I understand you invited me to present the Statement.
    Madam Speaker 1:40 p.m.
    Hon Member, your name was not even on the Statement but because today is World Tuberculosis Day I admitted it. You were not here when it was called.
    Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 1:40 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, may I suggest that you allow us to finish with the National Labour Commission. When we are finished and the Hon Dr. Ahmed is still in the Chamber he would be given the opportunity to make his Statement.
    Madam Speaker 1:40 p.m.
    The Hon Okoh, continue and when you finish we will give him the floor because today is World Tuberculosis Day and he wanted to make a Statement.
    Mr. Okoh 1:40 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, I will go back to the Outlook for 2009 and as I said, I will want to quote what has been written at page 3 to 4 of the Report of the Committee.
    “Outlook for 2009 -- For the year 2009, the Commission intends to place more emphasis on one of its core functions of promoting
    effective co-operation between labour and management. This will be done in collaboration with the social partners, government, employers and organised labour through the following:
    ( 1 ) E n c o u r a g i n g “ g o o d faith” nego- tiations to ensure the trust and confidence of the partners in the working relationship;
    ( 2 ) P r o m o t i n g n e g o t i a t i o n s and mediations as the best tools to resolve industr ial misunder- standing;
    (3) Training on negotiation skills for the publ ic and pr ivate sector negotiators, workers' unions and management;
    ( 4 ) S e n s i t i z i n g t h e s o c i a l partners to use the collective bargaining process to ensure good governance;
    (5) Educat ing the par tners in the working relationship to respect the rights of both the employer and the employee;
    (6) Organizing programmes to educate stakeholders on labour laws.
    ( 7 ) P r o m o t i n g p e a c e f u l and harmo- nious industrial relation environ- ment for national and industrial security.”
    Madam Speaker, these are lofty ideas and visions that the Commission seeks to implement but the question is, can they do this looking at the budget that has been given to them? For sometime now we have been emphasizing that there should
    be some offices for the Commission at, at least all regional capitals and the Commission intends to do that.
    As I talk now we have only one office in Accra here. It means that if there is any industrial dispute in my hometown, Kenyase in the Brong Ahafo Region, and if an employee is being cheated by maybe, Newmont (Ghana) Gold, that person would have to travel from Kenyase to this place and it would take some time for the person to have redress to the complaint.
    There are two things that these things can lead to. One, either the person would decide not to even pursue the case or the second, and that is the most dangerous thing, the person will decide to take the law into his or her own hands and those things that the Act, (Act 651) sought to do away with would be the order of the day. Madam Speaker, even as the Chairman said, the rented accommodation for the Commission as we talk now is in arrears and they are there as tenants at will.
    So it looks as if we pay people their salaries and we do not give them the resources to work with. It is just like somebody who has a big cocoa farm, has employed about ten labourers then he gives the people two cutlasses to work with. Madam Speaker, how can they do any meaningful work? If you look at the budget all the other lines have been slashed down with the exception of (3), Personal Emoluments.
    So it means what we are going to do now is that we are going to pay the salaries of these people and then we are asking them to sit idle and do nothing at all. I think, this is what we should look at seriously because looking at it critically the budget that has been given to the Commission cannot take them through six months. All other jobs that they intend to do will come to naught.
    Madam Speaker 1:40 p.m.
    Thank you, Hon Member. I think we will stand the debate down and call upon the Hon Member who
    brought the Statement. What is your name and where do you represent? You brought a very important Statement for today.
    STATEMENTS 1:50 p.m.

    Madam Speaker 1:50 p.m.
    Thank you, Hon Member. Hon Members, having regard to the state of business of the House, I hereby direct that the Sitting be held outside the prescribed period in accordance with Standing Order 43.
    ANNUAL ESTIMATES 1:50 p.m.

    Mr. A. W. G. Abayateye (NDC -- Sege) 2 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, your Committee in working noted and made this comment and with your permission, I quote:
    “The Committee holds the view that
    Mr. A. W. G. Abayateye (NDC -- Sege) 2:10 p.m.
    ensuring and maintaining peaceful industrial climate is as important as national security issues and therefore needs to be given the necessary attention and adequately funded”.
    If we do not take care, internal troubles will be more than external aggression.
    I am saying this because the Natinoal Labour Commission in its short time of existence has really solved a lot of problems and they need to be encouraged to do that. Mr. Speaker, it will interest you to note that as I speak today, 24th March, 2009, the electricity consumption of the National Labour Commission's office has come to a standstill. They live on pre-paid electricity; they buy and slot in. They are not on credit and every month they spend about GH¢18,000.
    As I speak -- right now, there is no power; they have not been adequately resourced. The landlord is also on their heads asking them to leave the premises because their rent has expired as at the end of February.
    Mr. Speaker, this is a body which I
    can say is the engine of the nation and if the engine or the heart of the nation is panting for breath then how is the whole country going to stand? I am saying this because the amount voted for the Commission is nothing to write home about. Two-thirds or 63.75 per cent of the total allocation is going into personal emoluments alone. What are they going to use for services? What are they going to use for investment? What are they going to use for administration expenses? I am speaking with authority because I know what I am saying. The allowances for the Commissioners have not been paid since January but they are supposed to work.

    Mr. Speaker, I am calling on the Ministry of Finance and Economic

    Planning to do something about the National Labour Commission. They need to come again with the supplementary budget to put something there for the Commission. I was part of the team which made a visit to the building which has been earmarked for them. The building has not been completed yet; even when it is completed, it would need to be furnished but there is no vote, how are they going to work?

    Mr. Speaker, I am using this opportu- nity to call on the Minister for Finance and Economic Planning that in the cutting and pasting of the allocation, there are some of the areas which need not be cut. They have to cut from somewhere rather and add to it, but to cut from theirs and add, I want to plead.

    With these few words, Mr. Speaker, I am calling on you - I know you cannot do anything but the Deputy Minister for Finance is here and he can do something; he is coming from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, please he should do something for the National Labour Commission so that we avoid internal aggression.

    Thank you.
    Mr. A. E. Amoah (NPP -- Mpohor Wassa East) 2:10 p.m.
    Thank you Mr Speaker, for giving me the opportunity to contribute to the debate. My Hon Colleagues who have spoken on the issue have mentioned that there is the need for Government to increase the budget allocation. But Mr. Speaker, what I want to say is that if you look at the Outlook for 2009, there are two things that we need to observe.
    First, it said,
    “Promoting negotiations and mediation as the best tools to resolve industrial misunder-standing”:
    The other one is,
    “Training on negotiation skills
    for the public and private sector negotiators, workers' unions and management”.
    Mr. Speaker, if the National Labour Commission will be assisted to provide or to work on these two issues, most of the industrial strikes and demonstrations that we have in this country would reduce. We know that most of the demonstrations ensue because there is a kind of relationship between workers and management. Why? This is because negotiation skills both on the side of management and on the side of workers need to be improved.
    If workers and management are able to improve their negotiation skills, both of them would come to know that negotiating is a matter of a social dialogue and most of the problems that we have in this country where, if negotiations break down, you find the union embarking on industrial strike would reduce.
    One thing that I want to mention is that in the Report it was mentioned that they are going to establish three offices -- Takoradi, Tema and Kumasi -- because these areas are the flash points as far as trade unionism is concerned in this country.
    Mr. Speaker, if you go to the Western Region there are some companies where within the last nine years they have removed their management seven times. Western Region is one place where we have very robust trade unions. Now that we are going to have a lot of companies coming up as a result of the oil find, I believe that this is a place that we must put a kind of premium on negotiation and a kind of premium on educating people, especially trade unions and bringing about a sound relationship between workers and management.
    That is the more reason why some of us are very happy when we read that these
    three offices are going to be established but unfortunately, no budget allocation has been made. You do not get the value of something or somebody unless the thing or the person is not there.
    If the National Labour Commission is not there, that is the time that we may see its value. For the past five years we have all been witnesses to the tremendous work this Commission has done. It is better for us to consider, as my Hon Colleagues have mentioned, to try and equip this Commission in terms of logistics and finance to make sure that this Commission is able to perform its functions as expected.
    Having said that, Mr. Speaker, I add my voice to that of my Hon Colleagues who have indicated that there is the need for a supplementary budget to assist this Commission to perform its functions effectively.
    Minority Leader (Mr. Osei Kyei- Mensah-Bonsu) 2:10 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, just a brief intervention. Mr. Speaker, in rising to associate myself with the motion regarding the approval of the total sum of GH¢416,401.00 to the National Labour Commission, I just wish to make a few observations.
    Number one relates to what one of my Hon Colleagues has already said in respect of the non-payment of the Commissioners. It is a regrettable situation that since January 2009 the Commis-sioners have not been paid their emoluments and yet we expect them to work. The National Labour Commission is a strategic outfit which if they are properly utilised would tremendously positively impact on the socio-political environment in the country. So it is important for us to take that issue very seriously.
    Mr. Speaker, on page (5) of the Committee's Report -- “Establishment of Regional offices”. With your indulgence
    Minority Leader (Mr. Osei Kyei- Mensah-Bonsu) 2:20 p.m.
    I would want to quote:
    “The Committee observed that in its quest to prevent and resolve industrial disputes, the Commission has planned to establish three (3) regional offices in flash areas such as Tema, Takoradi and Kumasi, in the Greater Accra, Western and Ashanti Regions respectively. The Committee sees this as laudable, particularly in the Western Region, because of the intense economic activities likely to develop following the oil find.”
    Mr. Speaker, what is intriguing is that the next paragraph the Committee states, and again with your indulgence I want to quote:
    “The Committee, however, regrets to report that no provision has been made in the 2009 Budget to realise this noble objective.”
    Mr. Speaker, so what were they praising? A mere declaration of intent? It is quite intriguing that the Committee should just celebrate the declaration of intent that they want to do this and yet there is no allocation to that effect. Mr. Speaker, I want the Committee to come properly before this House.
    Finally, if one compares the total allocation to the Commission, that is GH¢416,401.00 with what obtained in the immediate past year as has been said, the total was GH¢674,582.00.

    Mr. Speaker, it is important to observe that apart from Personal Emoluments which have gone up from GH¢199,500 in 2008, all the others have suffered

    considerable slashes. Indeed for Personal Emoluments (PE), this year's allocation is GH¢265,476; as I said, that is the area where it has considerably gone up.

    But Administration, last year, it was GH¢85,100, that is eighty-five thousand, one hundred Ghana cedis. This year, it is GH¢29,986. How do we expect the Commission to transact business? For Service, last year, it was GH¢133,596, this year it is GH¢70,939. What meaningful work can the Commission perform under these appalling circumstances?

    Mr. Speaker, the total allocation is an uninspiring figure, it is a figure; that is too paltry and to quote what Chinua Achebe, a famous writer from Nigeria has written in Things fall Apart, it says:

    “One does not appreciate the importance of one's behind until one has a boil.”

    Mr. Speaker, if we do not make sufficient provision to the National Labour Commission for them to do meaningful work, very soon this nation might be witnesses to labour agitations and that certainly would not augur well for business in this country.

    Mr. Speaker, with this, I beg rather grudgingly to support this motion before us. I thank you for your indulgence.
    Mr. First Deputy Speaker 2:20 p.m.
    Hon. Minister, kindly wind up.
    Mr. Stephen Amoanor Kwao 2:20 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to acknowledge all the contributions from my Hon Collea- gues. I am sure everything said would be captured in the Hansard and I assure them that the Ministry would take proper action on their suggestions -- suggestions on the possible review of the Labour Act, suggestions on seeing that the
    accommodation building is completed and the suggestions on seeing that the budget is increased by the Hon Minister for Finance and Economic Planning. The Hon Deputy Minister for Finance and Economic Planning is here and we are appealing to him to carry the message to the Hon Minister. We hope he would do so.
    Mr. Speaker, on this note, I would like to thank everybody for their contributions and hope the budget for the National Labour Commission will go in to serve the purpose that it is intended and we hope that more will be given as the little that is given is being used well.
    Question put and motion agreed to.
    That this Honourable House approves the sum of GH¢416,401.00
    for the services of the National Labour Commission for the 2009 fiscal year.
    ANNUAL ESTIMATES 2:20 p.m.

    SPACE FOR TABLE 2:30 p.m.

    -- 2:30 p.m.

    GOG IGF 2:30 p.m.

    Mr. F. B. Agyen (NPP -- Effiduase/ Asokore) 2:40 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, thank you very much for the opportunity granted me to enable me to contribute to the debate on the floor.
    Mr. Speaker, so much has been said about the inadequate amount granted the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, which in fact is too in-adequate to do any meaningful work.
    However, in supporting this motion, Mr. Speaker, I wish to draw the attention of the Ministry to a few things that ought to be noted in this House. Mr. Speaker, the spokesperson for a country in several instances is the Foreign Minister when he is outside the country.
    In many countries, Foreign Ministers are made of people who have the potential to become future Presidents or future Heads of State. Therefore, I wish to advise our Hon Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration to weigh a lot of things and be very circumspect in making
    Mr. Twumasi-Appiah 2:40 p.m.
    On a point of order. Mr. Speaker, my Hon Colleague is out of order, and the order has to do with relevance. We are debating a motion on the floor of the House that has to do with the year 2009 budget estimates presented to us here on the floor. I wonder why this Darfur issue and issues of Cosomokia and Azerbaijan are all coming in here.
    Mr. Speaker, if we opened the floodgate and we are not careful, we will be talking about them -- [Interruptions] -- Yes, I think his advice could come at a later date. Now, he should save us the time, the energy and the resources and let us look at the budget estimates put before us on the floor of the House.
    Mr. Speaker, my Hon Colleague is out of order if he continues to tread on that particular route.
    Mr. First Deputy Speaker 2:40 p.m.
    Hon Member, this is straightforward. We are looking at the estimates. So, as much as possible let us concentrate our debate and our contributions on the estimates. I know you are the Hon Deputy Ranking Member and you had the opportunity of meeting the Hon Minister when the Committee went to look at the estimates. So for now, let us concentrate on the estimates.
    Hon Member, kindly proceed.
    Mr. Agyen 2:50 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, I think the
    Hon Member did not allow me to land. What I was saying is that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration is so important that whatever the Ministry is supposed to have done or the Ministry does, is like a mirror on the entire society of the country the Ministry comes from.
    That is why I said it by way of advice, that even though the Hon Minister agreed with the findings of the International Criminal Court (ICC), the newspaper had it, that he cautioned that the timing was wrong and I think that was not, in my opinion, the best thing to do. The best thing, however, was to project Ghana as a believer in the ICC since we are signatory to the ICC, particularly so when the chairperson of that finding, that decision, that judgment comes from Ghana. Mr. Speaker, I wish to proceed.
    Mr. Speaker, because of the very good
    foreign policy initiative initiated by the immediate past Government, Ghana has had the opportunity -- [Some Hon Members -- We are aware.] [Laughter] -- of hosting a lot of international con- ferences and this is a feather in the cap of the country. I pray that this Government would, under the able Minister who appears to be so versatile in affairs regarding foreign matters to continue with that laudable foreign policy.
    Mr. Speaker, we are in an era of electronically looking at things that we used to --
    Alhaji Sumani Abukari 2:50 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker,
    normally I hate interfering contributions -- [Interruptions.] especially when the contributors are fresh Members of this House. But my Hon Friend ought to know that the foreign policy of Ghana has not changed much since independence. There are small variations here and there from government to government. He should not talk like there was no foreign policy before the last Government. Please, he
    should advise himself, educate himself particularly on some of these subjects.
    Mr. First Deputy Speaker 2:50 p.m.
    Member, I think you should concentrate on the estimates before us because we are working with time.
    Mr. Agyen 2:50 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, I will.
    Mr. First Deputy Speaker 2:50 p.m.
    Member, we are working with time and you have taken 50 per cent of the time allocated to you already on this issue.
    Mr. Agyen 2:50 p.m.
    I have not taken two
    minutes because of the interference. I do not think my Hon Senior Colleague understood me when I made that remark. I am not digressing from the fact that we are debating the budget and the estimates for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration.
    Mr. Speaker, I think that it is important to pursue ICT programmes as far as the Ministry is concerned because inter- governmental communications should be well and more appropriately done when the ICT is adhered to. Ghana has a lot of treaty obligations to pursue and I pray that this Government continues to follow suit.
    Mr. Speaker, our economic policy should be such that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration. should be equipped by way of adequate finances to enable it have experts at the Ministry and experts at the foreign missions, that is, the Embassies and the High Commissions so that we would be able to attract the needed investment we need, and so desire.
    Mr. Speaker, recently a few persons
    were employed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration and just at the threshold of power being changed from the New Patriotic Party (NPP) to the National Democratic Congress (NDC), we
    were told that those gentlemen and ladies were either dismissed or suspended or sacked. Mr. Speaker, I pray the Ministry would come clear of that problem and let the House know what has befallen those ladies and gentlemen.
    Mr. Speaker, in supporting the budget for the Ministry, I believe that the Ministry should be assisted to pursue pragmatic policies that would bring only glory and respect to Ghana and I think the paltry sum of GH¢72 million plus, instead of GH¢179 million plus, is so small that it is good my Hon Colleagues who spoke earlier on hinted that the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning should bring supplementary budget to enable the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration to be able to fulfil its numerous obligations.
    Mr. Speaker, I am told the Ministry still has old and dilapidated vehicles at the missions abroad and it owes rent arrears, and its staff are not well paid. Mr. Speaker, there is no gainsaying the fact that the best way to address these issues is to allocate to the Ministry adequate finances to enable it address those petty issues which would not augur well for the good name of Ghana.
    Mr. Speaker, I believe all that is good for the country as to be mirrored outside this country would be how good our Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, and for that matter, our missions abroad perform. And as I said earlier on, good performance in this era of diplomacy is that we must give a lot of money to our Ministry so that they can perform more than is required of them.
    Mr. Speaker, I am of the view that the seven points earmarked by the Committee, that is to help forestall external aggression; to promote and protect economic and social, cultural and civil and political rights; to promote fruitful political and economic relations; to enhance Ghana's
    Alhaji Sumani Abukari (NDC -- Tamale North) 3 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker. I wish to support the motion as moved by the Hon Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration. I believe the Minister, his Chairman and my Hon Friend who just talked, have all highlighted the importance of sufficient funds for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration.
    Mr. Speaker, the Ministry, fortunately, has never got its fair share of allocations. Mr. Speaker, everybody would agree that the paltry sum that is being allocated to the Ministry is not fair at all considering the fact that this is the Ministry that represents Ghana across the world and considering the fact that Ghana is now being looked upon as the hope for Africa and indeed, the Third World.
    Mr. Speaker, we ought to resource our Missions so well that they can adequately and correctly show off, if you like, our country Ghana outside. Several missions outside Ghana especially, the African ones go from time to time to consult the
    heads of Missions of Ghana to seek their opinion on several issues and what not. And unfortunately when they get to the Ghanaian Embassies or Missions they are usually disappointed.

    I have heard several comments like, Oh! is that the Ghana Mission or is that the Ghana High Commission?” or that sort of thing. This is because they compare their missions with countries which barely have nothing. For instance, if you take the missions of the Sahelian countries, I am not in any way insulting or down-grading them but you will see that they are very well resourced, they are very well kept, they are in better compounds and homes and because of that, they begin to wonder whether it is Ghana they should be looking up to.

    Mr. Speaker, excuse me to say, as a matter of fact, in certain missions the head of mission's salary and allowances at the end of the month are not even up to the salary and allowances of some Third Secretaries in some very poor African countries and this is because there is a wrong impression around the country that our diplomats live very posh lives or they are very flamboyant --
    Papa Owusu-Ankomah 3 p.m.
    On a point of
    Alhaji Abukari 3 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, maybe,
    I am speaking of experiences of some of my former colleagues, because certainly I know that my Hon Colleague, Isaac Osei never experienced such things.
    Mr. Speaker, it is unfortunate that the moneys that we normally allocate to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs -- That we should reconsider and I am happy that the Deputy Minister for Finance and Economic Planning is here and taking notes.
    Mr. Speaker, I also want to suggest that what we call Internally Generated Funds - I do not know whether I should call it that, outside the country -- should be kept in whole or at least, 50 per cent of it should be given to the missions to meet some of their problems, like rent, like electricity, like insurance, even purchase of cars.
    Mr. Speaker, I will also suggest that at least, 25 per cent of the revenue generated here in this country should also be kept by the Ministry to assist them get out of the problem they are encountering.
    Mr. Speaker, remittances to the missions should be in foreign exchange because of the fluctuation of our cedi- dollar rates and if that does not happen, normally the money gets there and it is half what the Ministry intended to send to the missions abroad. So I will suggest that they be remitted in dollars for all their programmes.
    Mr. Speaker, with these few words, I will conclude by agreeing with the Chairman of the Committee that something must be done during the mid-year review
    of the Budget by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning to increase or to bring up to the level of requirements of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, as indicated here so that they can successfully carry out their programmes in our missions abroad.
    Mr. Isaac Osei (NPP -- Subin) 3 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, I would just want to say that in discussing the estimates of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, one has to be mindful of the key objectives which have been stated in the Committee's Report.
    Mr. Speaker, I know that many, many other objectives may be encompassed in some of the areas which have been listed, but I would have loved to see a specific objective of protecting the interest of Ghanaians abroad added to the objectives that we have here because Ghanaians abroad are definitely the object of our activities, either as Ambassadors or High Commissioners wherever they may be. Ghanaians abroad are also a repository of skills, experience and financial resources and therefore they should be a specifically targeted group for our Missions abroad.
    We also know that anything which happens to a Ghanaian abroad becomes the responsibility of the Missions and we know about The Gambia, we know about Libya and recently, we have heard about Turkey. So this is why I am calling for this.
    But secondly, the increase from GH¢71,9 million to GH¢73.1is completely inadequate. Even if you take only the depreciation of the cedi over the last few months, that does not adequately compensate for this small increase that the Ministry has been given. Indeed, if you look at the Ministry's own request, only 40 per cent is being allocated and I worry that we are taking refuge in a supple-mentary budget.
    Mr. Felix Twumasi-Appiah 3:10 p.m.
    Speaker, thank you very much. It might indeed be true that Ghana is now being well looked upon because of the pragmatic measures that the Kufuor Administration had put in place. Just the same way, it is also true, as he has just said, that these estimates are suffering from these differences of foreign exchange, Yes, it is also because some of the pragmatic or the bad policies that the Kufuor Adminis- tration also left this country, that is why the cedi is falling quite dramatically.
    Mr. Osei 3:10 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, I do not know
    what that intervention was about but with your permission, let me ignore it and continue.
    I also did not notice in the Report any comment on Ghana's emphasis over the last few years on economic diplomacy. And I will think that the Ministry will have to look at this again because it will provide us with an opportunity to refocus the attention of our diplomats abroad on this specific area, because our diplomats abroad are not just there to drink tea and have champagne but they are there to bring things to our country. And I believe that the emphasis on economic diplomacy is one way of getting the right resources in a very difficult international financial climate for our country.
    I was commenting on Berne and Geneva before I was interrupted; I was commenting on the separation of the Berne and Geneva Missions.
    I think Geneva is extremely important for us, especially not only because of the
    United Nations' various organizations there, but especially because of the World Trade Organization which is based there and a whole range of activities and negotiations which take place which calls for Ghana to have dedicated presence in Geneva all the time while the Berne Mission will represent our interest in Switzerland.
    So to conclude, permit me to call upon both sides of the House to approve this budget and hope that sufficient resources should be generated to enable the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning to have the capacity to come back to this House with a supplementary budget.
    I thank you, Mr. Speaker.
    Mr. K. T. Hammond (NPP -- Adansi
    Asokwa): Mr. Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to also contribute to the debate. When the Hon Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration rose to speak, I did detect a certain amount of nostalgic lamentation in his voice and he cannot blame us for that. He left this House on his own volition to try to aspire to a higher height and what became of him is a different thing altogether. So if he comes back to the House and he sees the old friends, it is just in consonance with the old saying that --
    Mr. First Deputy Speaker 3:10 p.m.
    Member, is that part of the motion before us?
    Mr. Hammond 3:10 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, those you see when you go up, when you come back you will meet them.
    Mr. First Deputy Speaker 3:10 p.m.
    Member, address the motion before this House.
    Mr. Hammond 3:10 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, the
    other point is that, I see that every Ministry
    is complaining about the allocations and the -- so no money basically at all. But is it also the case that sometimes they also take on duplicity of functions which really is also ruining their own allocation. A classic example is what I see here on page four of this document. I see here at paragraph five (v) the outlook for 2009, they are going to initiate programmes to make ICT a functional tool with relevant whatever and it goes on, and then it also talks about “to perform administrative functions on-line (e-Administration Project)”.
    I feel it is also the case that at page 132 of the Budget, paragraph 569, there is this e-Government strategy set up under the Ministry of Communications and the Ministry is supposed to undertake this function entirely on behalf of the whole country, on behalf of all the Ministries. Why are they separating themselves out to duplicate the same function that Ministry of Communications is under-taking? That is going to eat into their budget, they should not do it. It is going to be very helpful to them.
    Mr. Speaker, the next point I also want
    to touch on is that the Minister should take up this point very seriously. When the Hon John Dramani Mahama, then Member of Parliament for Bole/Bamboi was here, he took up the issue of The Gambian murder, he was so [Interruption] wonim asem a merebe- ka? [Laughter.] I am looking for the appropriate word.
    Mr. First Deputy Speaker 3:10 p.m.
    Hon K.
    T. Hammond, address the Chair.
    Mr. Hammond 3:10 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, I
    think the word is loquacious; he was so loquacious about it. I think that is the word, “loquacity”. He talks so much about it and I think he made it a personal crusade to make sure that the mystery of the murder of those Ghanaians was unravelled one way or the other. Now he
    Mr. Hammond 3:10 p.m.
    occupies the envious position of the Vice President of the Republic and with him, working together, I think somehow we must get to, if not the absolute bottom of it, at least, we must know somehow what happened.
    Let us also briefly touch on the financial inadequacies and the rents and the problems. I was in Japan and I have this as a personal experience that I observed myself. Japan, during the time when the then Ambassador, His Excellency Dr. Agyei Bawuah was there, it was so distressing seeing him because they had come for their rent, he did not have the money to pay the rent, the workers had not been paid for three months or so; they were agitating and the man was distressed.
    I think we should look at this and if -- of course, they can prune their budget of the things that are not necessary and they are necessarily duplicitous, we should look at those matters.
    Finally, I see that they are talking about passports. I think it is time this serious matter was really resolved. We as a nation have basically fudged it. The question of passport is now a relationship between the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, Ministry of the Interior, and I think there is another institution in there -- [Interruptions] -- diplomatic passport and he is here --

    Mr. Speaker, I did not have you in mind because you already have your diplomatic passport so I am not talking about you.

    Mr. Speaker, the question of the passports. In the countries that I have visited, particularly England, I know the question of passports was handled by the Home Office. The Home Office in Ghana is the Ministry of the Interior. Somehow the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration is arrogating onto itself the authority to have all sorts of things on the question of issue of passports.

    I am not sure it is right; that should now be resolved.

    The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration may well want to disassociate himrself again because of the problem he has with his budgetary allocation. He should tell the Ministry of the Interior and Home Office that they should have their own problems to handle with the issue of passports so he could handle his international relations.

    Then finally, just before we left office, we went to Malaysia to negotiate and the negotiations had been going on, but to see the extent to which it could imme- diately be actualized, a question of getting this bio-metric passport, this ICI from a particular company but I have forgotten the name.

    The system was so beautiful, you held your passport, got to Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur Airport, nobody talks to you, you just walk into some ring of glasscase, it encloses you there, put your passport in there and then somehow the gate in front of you opens then you go through, that is if it is yours. If it is not yours, it tells you and you know the doubting Thomases, Judas is the doubting one or Thomas,

    which one? One of them is the doubting one -- [Laughter.] So I collected --

    Mr. Speaker, I collected somebody's passport and put it in there and followed the instructions. They had to come and retrieve me from the thing because it indicated that it was not mine, it was for somebody and I was almost arrested. So we should get the handle on this matters.

    As for the allocation of resources, it looks like everybody is complaining so we will see how he will handle it, that is the way forward. Let us see what happens.

    Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.
    Mr. First Deputy Speaker 3:20 p.m.
    you very much. I wish the Hon Member for New Juaben North were here when you were making the submission with regard to diplomatic passports for Members of Parliament. When he was appearing before the Appointments Committee, he promised that he was going to give all of us diplomatic passports, and it never happened.
    Alhaji Mohammad Mumuni 3:20 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, I am very grateful to my Hon Colleagues for their various comments, suggestions and ideas. We acknowledge and cherish the idea that Parliament is a key stakeholder in the foreign policy environment of this country; and therefore, ideas coming from Parliament, we take seriously and we will definitely take them on board in our policy-thinking and in the implementation of policy as well.
    Mr. Speaker, I am also grateful for the sympathies and concerns that have been expressed about the inadequate resourcing.
    Mr. Speaker, with regard to the issue of Darfur, I want to assure all my Hon Colleagues that we are not stating something that is out of the ordinary or out of policy.
    Indeed, the newspaper he is quoting was stating correctly the present position. And we have said that we are state parties to the Rome Statutes establishing the International Criminal Court (ICC), and our own daughter, Ghana's own daughter, Hon Akua Kueyenhia, is a Vice-President of the ICC; and we say that the issue of the warrant was a legitimate exercise of the jurisdiction of the ICC.
    But there is also a consensus, and that is the position of the African Union (AU), that the timing of the warrant was inopportune, and has the problem or the likelihood of endangering the peace process that is ongoing in Darfur. Therefore, there is actually a move to invoke article 16 of the Statutes to suspend the warrant for at least one year to allow the peace initiatives that are ongoing to proceed. That is the position.
    Mr. Speaker, with regard to the issue
    of new entrants to the Ministry that he says were dismissed, that is not quite correct. Indeed, the transitional team on international relations discovered some anomalies in the recruitment process and they recommended the suspension of the intake.
    One of the very first acts that we did when we went to the Ministry was to look back and see who were the people who were actually qualified and entitled to be recruited. And therefore, we called for the examination results sheets, in which about 1,500 candidates had applied, and strictly, we picked the first 30 of them that were certified to have passed the examinations and passed the interview, and they had actually been written to. They have been
    Alhaji Mohammad Mumuni 3:20 p.m.

    given their letters of appointment; that is the present situation.

    With regard to protecting Ghanaians abroad, clearly, it is one of the mandates of the Ministry. We may not have been doing it perfectly now because of slimness of resources; but it is clearly one of the major mandates of the Ministry, and we will endeavour to carry it out because the Missions actually exist out there, first and foremost, to service Ghanaians.

    With regard to The Gambian murders,

    I am sure if you listened to the media in recent times, there is a UN/ECOWAS Technical Team that has been investigating the incidents. They were in the country, and they met His Excellency, the Vice- President as well as the Foreign Ministry.

    And they updated us on how far they have come with their report and gave the assurance that in the coming weeks, they are going to conclude their work and submit a report.

    Hopefully, we should be able to bring this sad chapter to a close so that our relations with The Gambia which have traditionally and historically been very cordial, can be put back on an even keel.

    On the issue of diplomatic passports for

    Members of Parliament, really, I personally wish that that matter is immediately enforced but clearly, as I said, Parliament is a major stakeholder in the foreign policy environment, and therefore, if Parliament decides that this is what it should be, I believe that the other stakeholders would listen with some sympathy. Clearly, the Ministry will be encouraged to look at this issue, but we have to be amending the policy on this matter.

    We are also grateful for the suggestion

    that a portion of the internally generated fund (IGF) from within the country should be given to the Ministry to help alleviate the resourcing problem; 25 per cent is the

    suggestion. We are grateful; we are also grateful for the proposed or the suggested enhancement of IGF from abroad from the current 35 per cent to 50 per cent.

    Mr. Speaker, the views and the

    ideas coming from this House are quite numerous and we may not be able to comment on all of them. But I want to assure my Hon Colleagues that we will definitely take them on board. And I am really grateful for your very kind statements and commitments.

    Question put and motion agreed to.


    That this Honourable House approves the sum of GH¢73,- 108,536.00 for the services of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration for the 2009 fiscal year.
    ANNUAL ESTIMATES 3:20 p.m.

    -- 3:30 p.m.

    TOTAL 3:30 p.m.

    -- 3:30 p.m.

    TOTAL 3:30 p.m.

    Mrs. Catherine A. Afeku 3:40 p.m.
    Speaker, I come in on point of Order 91. My Hon Colleague has misled this House. He is creating the impression as if we do not have ladies in this House. He said certain gentlemen on the other side have a certain knowledge of communications; but there are equally competent women in this House who are very versatile in the communications sector. So he should come again.
    Mr. Baffour 3:40 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, I was being
    precise but if precision has created an unfortunate impression, my dear Hon Member, I would like to apologise.
    Now, one thing I want to say about the
    Mr. S. K. Manu 3:40 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, the
    Hon Member has made a statement
    which I think he has to withdraw. He made a statement that he was glad certain gentlemen on this side of the House have knowledge in communications. I think it is a statement that tends to create the impression that people of this side of the House lack knowledge in communication and that he was glad certain gentlemen on this side of the House have knowledge in communications. I think it is a statement he has to withdraw.
    Mr. First Deputy Speaker 3:40 p.m.
    Member, I thought that comment was rather complimentary. The other aspect that was qualified was not to include ladies and for that he has apologised for it by including ladies. Hon Member, continue.
    Mr. Baffour 3:40 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, before I continue I would like to say that the Hon Member there is really confused. I said a certain innate knowledge -- that means that he is professionally proficient -- and it is a specificity, please. [An Hon Member: He has even spoiled the case.] Now, I have even spoiled the case -- is that what he is saying? [Laughter.]
    Mr. Speaker, what I am trying to say is that we are aware of the power of the media and I am saying that the agencies under the Ministry of Information have not been catered for adequately in this budget and the reason for this is mainly that the political will to back our information agencies is not there and it has been so since 1966. At a certain time in this nation's history, the information agencies were potent -- [Interruptions.] I am sometimes amused by the excessive verbosity of certain Members in the House.
    Mr. Baffour 3:40 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, I am saying
    that the political will is lacking and that is what we have got to fight for because we
    Mr. F. Opare-Ansah 3:50 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker,
    first of all, Hon Nana Akomea is only a Member of this House; he is not the Rt. Hon Nana Akomea -- [Interruption.] He addressed him as the Rt. Hon Nana Akomea and that is the reason I was standing.
    Mr. Baffour 3:50 p.m.
    The Hon Member,
    if I may say, I think, suffers from a slight attack of paranoia -- [Laughter.] Basically, because it was not directed at him at all. How he could ascribe that to himself, I am totally at a loss. What I was trying to say and I was trying to get to the point was that the budgetary allocations for those agencies were not adequate and that I was talking about political will; I was also talking about the fact that that political will needs to be re-infused into the body politic of Ghana -- [Interruption.]
    Mr. Opare-Ansah 3:50 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, I
    will agree with my Hon Colleague on the issue of paranoia in the highest places in political office in the country in recent times.
    But specifically to me, I disagree and I believe I am a Member of this House and when he describes generally, Members
    of this House in a certain manner, I am entitled to feel, as it were, concerned because it could be me and I would not know. That is why I was asking him to be a little bit more specific.
    But I agree with him that we should not show so much fear and paranoia. That advice does not go to only Members of Parliament, I think it has to extend to other arms of Government as well.
    Thank you.
    Mr. Baffour 3:50 p.m.
    I am very pleased that we have people with a certain psychological knowledge who are very good at prescribing paranoia or defining it.
    Now, I am talking about political will. It is very, very important that we have that political will, cuts across both sides of the political divide. The thing is that if we do not have that kind of support from the various agencies -- I was talking about NAFTI being a training institution and we know how powerful the electronic media is now when we are talking about films.
    Ghana has one of the best training institutions in Africa and people have come from all over the continent to learn how to make films. Some of them, in fact, quite a few of them have won awards and yet we have not given that institution the support. They still inhabit a rented premises, their studio has not been finished, it has been under construction for many years.
    When we talk about Ghana Broad- casting Corporation (GBC), which is one of Africa's foremost broadcasting institutions which was known throughout the world, it is second to the BBC in Africa. Right now, the GBC has got a problem - it has got a problem that it has bought equipment and the equipment is still in the warehouse because they have not constructed a building to house that
    Mrs. Catherine A. Afeku (NPP - Evalue Gwira) 4 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, I rise to support the motion on the floor with reference to the budget allocation for the Ministry of Information.
    Mr. Speaker, I am particularly concerned about the slash, I will call it the slash of the previous year's budget to this very important Ministry from GH¢47,941,603 to GH¢41,255,208 in a year that is so crucial and an era that we are actually priding ourselves as the information age. It is a bit disheartening to see that this vital Ministry's budget has been slashed.
    Secondly, we are also living in an era where we have just come out of a very keenly contested election and we have pockets of conflicts rising out of tensions, out of misunderstandings. And here is a Ministry that is poised to use its offices, especially the Information Services Department with the vans that were procured by the NPP Administration to go across the nation to sensitize communities that we are all one people and here we are with a budget that is acutely short for them to execute their mandate.
    So I would really urge this House that as we approve this budget, we would also urge the Minister for Finance and Economic Planning who is being represented here by the Hon Deputy Minister to look into allocating some more funds to this Ministry so it can actually execute its functions.
    Mr. Speaker, I am also concerned about GBC. The reason why I say I am concerned is that lately, we do have a lot of our children watching films at times that they are not supposed to. We would hope that the Ministry would be resourced adequately to give to the Ghana Broad- casting Corporation not to use the sensitive word “censor” but repro-gramme some of the activities that we see on the national
    television so children would be watching.
    Again, the PSI programme by our governments at the time the children come from school so they could be watching the science and mathematics programmes that are shown at 10 a.m. when all the children are in school.

    I am also talking on behalf of the initiative that was started by the NPP Administration, and that is the People's Assembly. I did not see any budgetary allocation for this very important event that accords the President -- our President, His Excellency John Fiifi Atta Mills to interact with the people.

    As I do recall, the Hon Minister did mention 2008 that we did set this up in Takoradi. I am looking forward to 2009, preferably in the northern part of Ghana, so we could use the opportunity to share the vision of the President. But unfortunately, the budget itself, as it is, does not even look to see them through to July let alone to organise a People's Assembly where the President would have the opportunity to interact with the citizenry.

    I would also let the august House know that as a member of the Committee, we did task various agencies to come up with business plans. NAFTI for instance, has the opportunity to generate revenue enough to even buy its own property so that they would not be coming back on a yearly basis - It has become a perennial problem that they rent the premises, they are being thrown out, they are paying excessive rent, but we do have an opportunity to resource this important Ministry to help them become a real force in the film industry.

    Another area I would like to bring on board is something that is dear to my heart

    Mr. Speaker, there are languages shown during the week on Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) and certain key ethnic languages are conspicuously missing. The Sefwi area, a very vital area of Ghana where the cocoa industry is really going to boom, and as we do recall in his inaugural Address, there was a mention of cocoa processing plant going to that area but the people of Sefwi area --

    I am not from Sefwi but being a Western Region resident, I think it is key that we support other areas. It would be nice to see the GBC extending its vernacular programmes to the Sefwi people. But again it would require resource and if they are adequately supported, I am sure they can put some meat to this vision.

    I would like to mention that it would be nice to see the Ministry of Roads and Highways use some of their little resource, especially the Road Fund to support this Ministry in educating the populace on accidents -- [Interruption] -- Maybe, they would be able to support; because I feel very passionate about disseminating information, especially on accidents and the vans can be put to this very good use.

    With these few words, I think I would

    support the motion to approve the budget of GH¢41,255,208 and hopefully, maybe, we would be able to give them a little more to expand.

    Before I stop, I have just been reminded that article 55(11) does bring out a very important point, this is part of the mandate of this very Ministry that all political parties would be given some equitable showing on the national television, and we would want to see this Ministry take that up. And article 67 does promote the insulation of GBC from governmental
    Mrs. Catherine A. Afeku (NPP - Evalue Gwira) 4:10 p.m.
    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
    Mr. Abdul-Rashid Pelpuo 4:10 p.m.
    On a
    point of order. Mr. Speaker, I just noticed that our Friend is grossly out of order by not limiting his discussion to the budget estimates of the Ministry but is hammering on issues that are not in the budget estimates. So Mr. Speaker, may you call him to order.
    Mr. Baidoe-Ansah 4:10 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker,
    when we are talking about paying the purse we have to be interested in what the money is going to be used for. There is nobody who gives money without discussing what the money should be used for. We are just not going to throw money at organizations and institutions to come and take and go away. We are here as Parliament to ensure that we set in place targets for institutions that we put money into to live up to --
    Mr. Speaker, about three years ago
    Government imported equipment for GBC -- equip-ment with a lifespan of seven years. Already three years of the equipment's lifespan is gone; the equipment is sitting at the warehouse. GBC has internally generated funds (IGF), they are not interested in using it because they do not see the core business
    Mr. First Deputy Speaker 4:10 p.m.
    Member, the man is sitting down, so Hon K. T. Hammond, I will give you two minutes then after that I will call on the Hon Minister to wind up.
    Mr. K. T. Hammond (NPP -- Adansi
    Asokwa): Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I do not know why you want to discriminate. These days there is a certain amount of discrimination against me in this House but I will not go to that -- [Interruptions.] You are out of order completely.
    Mr. Speaker, those who arrogate unto themselves the burden of teaching this House the Queen's language should be very careful what they tell us. In the area of cinematography --
    Mr. First Deputy Speaker 4:10 p.m.
    Member, is that part of the motion before us?
    Mr. Hammond 4:20 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, it is part
    of the motion. In the area of cinemato- graphy “innate” may mean “professional”, as a matter of English Language; generally it does not mean that. So we should not be confused. Nobody should try and confuse us ooo about the use of words in this House.
    Mr. Speaker, I have taken some pains to read the Report presented by your Committee and I have been concerned about a few matters that have been indicated here. Mr. Speaker, you would see from the very first page that “as part of the vision, aim and objective of the Ministry, they are to ensure free flow of relevant public information in pursuance of open government policy.
    Mr. Speaker, my Hon Friend has alluded to some of the points already. But more importantly because it has become a constitutional imperative, Mr. Speaker, the Constitution by article 167(c) provides that the National Media Commission in the exercise of its functions shall insulate the state-owned media from governmental control.
    Whilst the Minister for Information is here, I would want to appeal to her to make sure that GBC is properly controlled because it actually also states here -- [Interruptions] -- No; should be properly controlled and managed. Maybe, I did not use all the words properly. But let me just go to paragraph 0.4, it says that “agencies under the Ministry of Information” we also have Ghana Broadcasting Corporation which is GBC among the list..
    It should be so properly managed that people restrict themselves to their proper remit, particularly in accordance with the
    I suggest to her that she should go and consult with the National Media Commission and if it is possible, the current Director General of GBC may be relieved of his post, because quite frankly, he is bringing this august institution into disrepute. Now, you would find here stated that -- page 7 of the Report, paragraph 8:
    “To its chagrin, the Committee observed that the GBC has no policy whatsoever specifying what percentage of . . .”
    But what is important to me is that the Director-General sits down there and superintends over a situation where what has to be properly done is not being done and what does not need to be done is what is being done; and what is being done -- He sits down there and now decides who goes to GBC to do any programme. He thinks that GBC, a national institution is now an institution to serve the functions of a particular political institution.

    Mr. Speaker, he must be told in very clear terms that that is not the function of the Director-General of GBC.

    A few days ago, a good friend of

    mine, in fact known to this House, Nii Ayi Bonte went in there for a programme. Mr. Speaker, just when the programme started, there was clear instruction to the programme --whoever were on the programme -- that because some people from some other political institutions were not there, certain aspects of newspaper review could not be undertaken, under the order of the Director-General of GBC.

    Mr. Speaker, this is the Constitution

    [shows a copy of the Constitution], it is

    the national money, it is the general purse that is used to run the institution. Why does he make it a function of a particular political party?
    Mr. Fritz F. Baffour 4:20 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, I
    beg to correct the Hon Member about what he thinks the Director-General should do. The politicisation of broadcasting in Ghana started in 1965. But it worsened after Apollo 568 when W. F. Coleman and his deputy were sacked and were replaced by a crony of the then Government. And then it became deeply politicised.
    Therefore, this thing about politics --
    [Interruptions.] Yes, it just went on and on and on. I am saying that the politicisation of broadcasting right up to now - I know and I am a victim of the fact that at a certain time because of my political lineage, I was not allowed to produce my programme and put it on air. So, I am just saying it today.
    Thank you.
    Mr. First Deputy Speaker 4:20 p.m.
    Member, I would want you to wind up. You must also be very fair in this matter. Those that you are mentioning do not have the opportunity of defending themselves on the floor of the House. Indeed, the point that you are raising and those that other Hon Members have raised are very valid points.
    In the Second Parliament, a whole motion had to be moved on the whole issue with regard to the state media. It continued that tradition up till now, and I think that we should look for another opportunity of looking at GBC and its performance. But for now, let us limit ourselves to the estimates.
    Mr. Hammond 4:20 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, I did say
    Mr. First Deputy Speaker 4:20 p.m.
    I have taken note of your contribution and you did not refer to any figure in your contribution.
    Thank you, very much.
    Mrs Zita Okaikwei 4:20 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the comments from Hon Members and I assure them that their suggestions will be put on board for the good of the Ministry of Information and the nation at large.
    Thank you, very much.
    Question put and motion agreed to.
    That this Honourable House approves the sum of GH¢1,225,208.00 for the Services of the Ministry of Information for the 2009 fiscal year.
    ANNUAL ESTIMATES 4:20 p.m.