Debates of 3 Jun 2009

PRAYERS 10:10 a.m.


Madam Speaker 10:10 a.m.
Hon Members, we commence with the Correction of Votes and Proceedings dated Tuesday, 2nd June, 2009. Page 1. . .4.
Mrs. A. Frema Osei-Opare -- rose
-- 10:10 a.m.

Madam Speaker 10:10 a.m.
Yes, Hon Member?
Mrs. Osei-Opare 10:10 a.m.
Madam Speaker, I was present yesterday and I did sign the Register at the Mails Room, but my name is missing. I even made a contribution to a Statement yesterday.
Madam Speaker 10:10 a.m.
Thank you, Hon Member.
Any other corrections? Pages 5, 6, 7 --
Mrs. Osei-Opare 10:10 a.m.
Madam Speaker, I seem to understand the problem and I would like to correct it. Originally, I was supposed to be away from the country so I did fill out the leave form. And I see that I have been listed as absent with permission on page 5 and I understand. I did ask for permission but I am still in town and I was present -- [Uproar] -- So, I just want -- until I give another notice, I am around.
Thank you, Madam Speaker.
Madam Speaker 10:10 a.m.
Page 6. . .13.
Prof. S. K. Amoako 10:20 a.m.
Madam Speaker, technically, mine is not a correction; maybe, it is in the form of an announce- ment.
During the recess, I had the opportu- nity to travel to the United States of America and my former employers, the City University of New York, conferred on me another title, which I think I should bring to the attention of your goodself -- [Hear! Hear!] -- and the Hon Members of the House.
Madam Speaker, on 20th May, 2009, the City University of New York, conferred on me a title of Professor Emeritus. [Hear! Hear!] So I think I am trying to challenge the credentials of the Hon Member for Ayawaso East in terms of the prefixes and suffixes against our names. So now, my title is “Professor Emeritus” and I would like to be referred to as such.
Thank you, Madam Speaker.
Madam Speaker 10:20 a.m.
It is noted. Thank you.
Dr. A. A. Osei 10:20 a.m.
Madam Speaker, just for my own education. I thought that such matters should be officially communicated through the Clerk, through you to the House rather than an oral announcement because we have no way of assessing the veracity of the oral statement. [Laughter!] So for the records, it will be important for this House to get an official, written communication so that Hon Members can view that document and attest to it.
Madam Speaker 10:20 a.m.
I think the Hon Member has made a good point that we need to see it on paper too. So maybe, you will buttress what you have said with the evidence to the Clerk before we write
it out.
Prof. Amoako 10:20 a.m.
Thank you, Madam Speaker, for the advice. But yesterday, I consulted my Leader and showed him the evidence and he advised me to announce it in the House and that is why I did it . So I will show this to Madam Speaker after Sitting.
Madam Speaker 10:20 a.m.
There is nothing wrong in announcing it in the House but all we are saying is that you should show this to the Clerk -- some evidence , because the House has already commended you and I think it is in order.
Prof. Amoako 10:20 a.m.
Thank you, Madam Speaker. I will do that.
Mr. D. T. Assumeng 10:20 a.m.
Madam Speaker, I think it is also very important for him to channel it through the Accreditation Board, so that at least, it will be accredited and we will get to know -- [Laughter] -- to verify and approve. So if he can pass it through the Accreditation Board, I think it will be very important for us.
Prof. Amoako 10:20 a.m.
Madam Speaker, I think the Hon Member is only displaying some ignorance about the academia. The conferment of Professor Emeritus is a recognition of satisfactory work done in academia and it does not lend itself to any verification from any Accreditation Board. So, please, be educated.
Madam Speaker 10:20 a.m.
Thank you, Hon Member and I must add my voice to the congratulations.
Dr. Kojo Appiah-Kubi 10:20 a.m.
Madam Speaker, I thank you for this opportunity. I would also like to add my voice to congratulate our Friend for this elevation. I think it is a promotion that he deserves and we wish to congratulate him for
just making us proud, and we the Hon Members on this side, would also like to say that we are proud of him.
Madam Speaker 10:20 a.m.
Were you also to add your voice to the commendation?
Mr. Gbediame 10:20 a.m.
Madam Speaker, I think we are on Correction of Votes and Proceedings and it is not a Statement, so we wanted to draw your attention to it.
Madam Speaker 10:20 a.m.
He was drawing our attention to his future title. [Laughter.] So that is why all these things came in. I think we should all emulate him. If only this goes for us to emulate the Hon Member, then I think it is a good thing. [Hear! Hear!]
Mr. Gbediame 10:20 a.m.
Madam Speaker, we are not disputing that and we will all join in congratulating him, but I think it must be done at the right time. That is all we are saying.
Madam Speaker 10:20 a.m.
Thank you, Hon Members. We are on page 13 now.
Mr. Benito Owusu-Bio 10:20 a.m.
Madam Speaker, yesterday, the Committee on Local Government met in session to discuss the position paper on allowance for District Assemblies and it is not captured here. So I would just want to draw the attention of the Clerks-at-Table.
Madam Speaker 10:20 a.m.
Clerks to note.
Dr. Appiah-Kubi 10:20 a.m.
Madam Speaker, I am sorry for bringing us back to page 6, item number 6. Number 6, “The following Question was asked of and answered by the Minister for Environment, Science and Technology . . .” I have been looking for the Question which was asked and I cannot find it.
Madam Speaker 10:30 a.m.
I am not sure it was a Question that was listed. [Pause.] Hon Members, I think it was the only Question for the day. Question 1 on the Agenda and it was not repeated here. If you look at page 7, Question 1 by Mr. Francis Addai-Nimoh.
Any other correction? We got to page
The Votes and Proceedings of 2nd June, 2009 as corrected be adopted as the true record of proceedings.
We move to the Official Report of Tuesday, 2nd June, 2009.
Mr. J. B. Aidoo 10:30 a.m.
Madam Speaker, I have two corrections to make. The first one relates to my contribution, column 110, paragraph 3, line 6. It should read “. . . to note that the results indicate . . .” and not “indicates” -- “the results indicate”. And then the same column, paragraph 5, under the contribution, line 4 -- “. . . as may be noted . . .” should read “as has been noted”. That is what I said -- “. . . as has been noted”.
Thank you very much.
Mr. Ambrose P. Dery 10:30 a.m.
Madam Speaker, column 121, paragraph 1, line 6, it is stated there “. . . clinics in CHPS compounds . . .” It should be “clinics and CHPS compound”. And at column 122, paragraph 1, line 3 -- “. . . can work a magic”, the “a” should be deleted -- “. . . can work magic”.
Thank you, Madam Speaker.
Prof. Christopher Ameyaw-Akumfi 10:30 a.m.
Madam Speaker, sorry to take you back. Column 94, the top paragraph, I suppose the Hon Minister for Environment,
Science and Technology -- is a “she” but I see “he” here. “ is this plan that he is going . . . ” -- it should be “she”.
Mrs. Catherine A. Afeku 10:30 a.m.
Madam Speaker, I would like to draw the attention of the House to column 124. It looks like my name has been changed. Last time I checked, I am Catherine and not Christiana.
I thank you.
Madam Speaker 10:30 a.m.
Thank you. Any other?
Hon Members, the Official Report of Tuesday, 2nd June, 2009 as corrected represents the true record of proceedings.
Now, we move to Item 3. Questions. Hon Members, Question time.
Power Outage at 10.35 a.m.
Madam Speaker 10:30 a.m.
Hon Minority Leader, our lights are out. [Interruptions.]
Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 10:30 a.m.
Madam Speaker, I believe the Hansard Department may not be able to record business that is transacted here. If they are able to record, then perhaps, we may continue. Except of course, we may have to strain our eyes to see whoever is on the floor making an intervention. But I would propose that we tarry awhile to see if we will have the lights.
Madam Speaker 10:30 a.m.
Hon Tia, do we tarry awhile?
Mr. John Tia Akologu 10:30 a.m.
Madam Speaker, what else can we say when the expert in the House has proposed this? [Laughter.] So we must suspend Sitting awhile. [Pause.]
Madam Speaker 10:30 a.m.
Hon Tia, I think we have had awhile, do we suspend Sitting till the lights come?
Mr. Akologu 10:30 a.m.
Madam Speaker, I thought that while agreeing with him, I still think it is better that we suspend Sitting awhile for thirty minutes maybe. [Pause.] Hon Speaker, the wish of the House is that we suspend Sitting but immediately the lights come on then we reconvene.
Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 10:30 a.m.
Madam Speaker, I made the initial proposal and I said that in the circumstances, it is the best option.
Madam Speaker 11:30 a.m.
Hon Members, at this stage, we suspend Sitting till the lights come on.
Thank you.
The Sitting was suspended at 10.40 a.m.

Sitting resumed.
Madam Speaker 11:30 a.m.
Hon Members, can we continue from where we left off. We got to item 3 -- Questions. There is a Question standing in the name of the Hon Member for Agona East. Hon Member, can you ask your Question, please?


Madam Speaker, the short 11:40 a.m.

medium, the Ministry of Transport will concentrate on restructuring of the roads safety institutions and the enactment of appropriate regulations to support the various acts --

The current status of NRSC as a Commission, does not allow it to enforce its recommendations. It has therefore become necessary to review the NRSC Act 567 to reflect emerging global trends in road safety management.

In this regard, the status of the NRSC will be changed to an Authority. This will empower the agency to demand compliance of the road safety laws and regulations by stakeholders.

The amended Act will also seek to expand the sources of funding for

the Agency. Reliance on support from development partners is drying up and there is the need to find other innovative measures to expand and deepen the financial resources for road safety activities.

Consequently, the Ministry will soon put the amendment Bill before Parliament for consideration and approval.

The new Road Traffic Act, (Act 683) was passed in 2004 to replace the old Road Traffic Ordinance No. 55 of 1952.

The new Act contains a lot of provisions such as wearing of seat belts, involving the private sector in the towing of disabled vehicles, et cetera. Unfortunately, the new regulations have not been passed to make the new Act effective.

A committee is currently working on the draft regulations and will soon be put before Parliament for enactment.

The Na t iona l Road Sa fe ty Commission will also facilitate the installation of speed limiters in all commercial vehicles to enable drivers adhere to required speed limits, especially on the highways. Apart from that, the NRSC will also facilitate the installation and operation of speed cameras to control incidents of speeding and abuse of some traffic regulations.

The Ministry in collaboration with the Ministry of Roads and Highways, will ensure the mainstreaming of road safety audit in all road engineering works as a means to demand safety standards prior to construction works.

The Ministry, through the NRSC is in the process of mainstreaming road safety in all Districts, Municipal and Metropolitan Assemblies as a measure of decentralizing road safety promotion and management.

Madam Speaker, the NRSC has taken steps to incorporate road safety education into the curriculum of basic schools to ensure sustainability of road-user education among school children. To this end, manuals for teachers and teaching and learning materials are being developed and expected to be ready before the end of the year.

The capacity of Driver, Vehicle and Licensing Authority (DVLA) will be enhanced to improve on the quality of driver certification and vehicle inspection.

Driving standards and driver quality cannot be disregarded if our national road safety targets are to be achieved. The National Road Safety Commission in collaboration with DVLA and Ghana Technical Training Centre (GTTC), have put together a framework for the establishment of a National Drivers Academy, with the view to assuming leadership status in driver training and upgrading of all commercial drivers.

The Ministry will , through the NRSC, collaborate with the Ministry of Health to improve post-crash management by improving the response time to road-related emergencies.

Madam Speaker, the responsibility for regulating freight and passenger transport services is shared among

many Government agencies. Currently, the setting up of standards, rules and regulations and monitoring performance of road transport operations, are shared among DVLA, MTTU, Ministry of Transport, Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies as well as transport unions and associations.

This practice is not the best if we are to instil discipline and efficiency in the industry.

There is, therefore, the need to set up a National Road Transport Authority to regulate the road transport industry as per the new Act 683 and its regulations.

Setting up of a dedicated traffic police is also something that the Ministry is looking at - The operations of the MTTU of the Ghana Police Service is faced with a lot of capacity challenges in terms of human and technical resources. More so, the personnel are not dedicated to the unit as they are affected by regular transfers.

The intention of the Ministry is to set up a dedicated unit with personnel for road traffic safety management in the urban areas and the highways as pertains in some developed countries to manage road safety.

My Ministry will collaborate with the Ministry of the Interior to develop the concept for subsequent consideration and approval by Cabinet and Parliament respectfully.

Post-Accident Medical Response: Current road accident statistics indicate that about 80 per cent of road traffic accident victims die on the spot due to poor post-accident medical response. My Ministry will collaborate with the Ministry of Health to develop and strengthen capacity to deal with post-accident medical response.
Mr. Agyabeng 11:40 a.m.
Madam Speaker, the Minister is talking about amending the National Road Safety Commission Act, Act 567 to reflect the emerging global
Mr. Hammah 11:40 a.m.
Madam Speaker, we are currently working on it and I can assure my Hon Colleague that as soon as possible, it will be ready.
Mr. Agyabeng 11:40 a.m.
Madam Speaker,
according to the Answer to us, the Minister is aware that 80 per cent of the accident victims die on the spot, yet in telling us the immediate and short-term measures he is taking to curb the situation, he rather - the Minister rather came out with a long- term measure collaborating with the other agencies to curb the situation.
I want to ask the Minister why is it that he is aware 80 per cent of the accident victims die on the spot yet he is taking a long-term measure to curb the situation.
Mr. Hammah 11:40 a.m.
Madam Speaker, I think when I was giving my presentation, I did indicate that it is going to be a short, medium and long-term. In the short-term, I catalogued a number of interventions that we were doing and one of them was to ensure that, we provide drivers with vehicle log books to ensure that at least, the time they leave the place of origin to their destination, they are monitored to ensure that we reduce driver fatigue on the road.
I also talked about improving upon security by providing reflecting materials at the back of vehicles and certain very strategic areas around the vehicle so that when the vehicle is disabled on the road, any approaching vehicle can see it and possibly avoid running into it. At this stage, I then went into the short, medium and the long-term.
Madam Speaker, I have already said it all in my presentation.
Ms. Beatrice B. Boateng 11:40 a.m.
Speaker, I have listened to the Hon Brother of mine, the measures he is taking to curb incidents on our roads. I have very much appreciated the fact that -- [Inter- ruptions] - he said that with the new Act, he is going to ensure that this Bill is passed. He mentioned the wearing of seat belts, et cetera. I know it embraces a lot, but I think there is something very important, like using mobile phones while driving. I will want to find out whether that is part of the things he is going to enforce.
Again, he mentioned that he would see to it that this speed cameras are used. In countries where these things are used, we realize that we have drivers whose data are correct. We have vehicles with correct number plates. What has he put in place before the implementation of this thing that he is talking about since they are very important to help in this work?
Thank you very much for the opportunity.
Mr. Hammah 11:40 a.m.
Madam Speaker, I wanted to let the Hon Member know that currently, the new Road Traffic Act, 2004 is in place. We are currently working on the Regulations. The Regulations will take into account some of the things that she is talking about -- wearing of seat belts, also regulating how vehicles operate, there are so many of them -- carriage of hazardous materials, issues that at least, affect road safety are being catered for under the new Regulations that very soon will be brought before Parliament.
Thank you, Madam Speaker.
Alhaji Ibrahim Dey Abubakari 11:40 a.m.
Madam Speaker, I think most of these accidents happening are due to the behavioural attitude of most of the drivers. So my point is - [Interruptions] -- please, I think the attitude of our drivers leaves
Madam Speaker 11:40 a.m.
You have to ask one question at a time.
Mr. Hammah 11:50 a.m.
Madam Speaker, empirical data that we have suggest that when an accident happens, three things are involved: One, the vehicle, two, the driver, three, the road. So we are tackling all at a holistic approach.
With regard to the driver, as part of our strategy, we are ensuring that there is going to be continuous driver education and training. So currently, the National Road Safety Commission, as part of its strategy, is working up a programme of activities that will ensure that drivers are trained continuously to reduce the spate of accidents or at least, the human error element of the road accidents. This is because it is also clear that statistics indicate that about 90 per cent of all accidents are attributed to human error.

It is only 10 per cent that are mechanical. So the focus must be on the driver and what we have observed is that, continuous driver education is paramount to ensuring that we can reduce the spate of accidents on our roads and currently, we have been working on that.
Mr. P. W. Pepera 11:50 a.m.
Madam Speaker, I would like to ask the Hon Minister if Act 567, of the National Road Safety Commission (NRSC) would conflict when
the National Road Transport Authority is set up, in the sense that they are going to deal with transport and if they are both authorities -- If they would not conflict in their duties like some other government agencies do.
Mr. Hammah 11:50 a.m.
Madam Speaker, I think there will be no conflicts here because we are talking about an umbrella organization that is going to regulate the whole transport industry. Currently, the rules and engagements are fragmented so we want to bring all under one umbrella so that we can reduce functional overlaps in conflict situations. And that is precisely what we are doing and once we do that, we would make sure that it does not happen. The NRTA becomes the umbrella organization and every other agency becomes subsidiary to it.
Mr. G. K. Arthur 11:50 a.m.
Madam Speaker, may I ask the Hon Minister whether there are provisions for rest stops for long journeyed drivers.
Mr. Hammah 11:50 a.m.
Madam Speaker, like I said before, road accidents involve the engineering, the road, the vehicle and the driver; and currently, I have been talking to my Hon Colleague Minister for Roads and Highways. We have been working together, and it is also very important that these rest stops are provided.
This is because if we have identified that driver fatique rather constitutes a major factor to road accidents, then it is imperative that at least, we ensure that we provide facilities that would allow drivers to rest along the road. So we are currently working on it and we will continue to do it. I am sure that I will come back to this House to tell Hon Members what we have done about it.
Madam Speaker 11:50 a.m.
Can we have the Hon Minister's answer? Yes, Hon Minister.
Mr. Hammah 11:50 a.m.
Madam Speaker, maybe, I would have used him as a consultant - [Laughter] because he was in charge and I am sure he should have done something about it.
On a more serious note Madam Speaker, we recognise that there are challenges in terms of vehicle inspection and that is the more reason why when we passed the original Act, we have provisions for attracting private-sector participation in vehicle inspection and licensing. I believe that currently, we should be looking at the Regulations that allow the private sector to carry out these activities.
It is going to take a little bit of time but I think that eventually the Regulations will be passed and then the private garages can complement government in ensuring that the vehicles are properly tested and to make sure they are roadworthy before they get on the road.
Mr. H. H. Bayirga 11:50 a.m.
Madam Speaker, I am pleased that the Hon Minister mentioned training and I know that the
National Vocational Training Institutes organise some retraining programmes for drivers on defensive driving per day. I want to find out from the Hon Minister, this particular year 2009, by the end of the year, what training programme will his outfit have organized and how many drivers are expected to be trained; maybe, targeting commercial drivers, he should tell the House how many he expects to train?
Mr. Hammah 11:50 a.m.
Madam Speaker, the policy is that the continuous driver education is key to ensuring road safety on our roads. At the Ministerial level, the policy is clear. If my Hon Colleague still demands, I will come back to this House and give him specifics as to the number of drivers we need to train before the end of the year.
Mr. Joe Ghartey 11:50 a.m.
I will be grateful if the Hon Minister could tell us under what law the police are arresting people for tainted windows. I ask that because I have looked at the Regulations, L.I. 953 and there is no where in the Regulations that says that it is wrong for you to use tainted windows. I will be grateful if perhaps in the L.I. there is anywhere in it that deals with tainted windows.
Madam Speaker 11:50 a.m.
I do not know whether this comes from the former Question and whether it could be answered. But let us hear the Hon Minister.
Mr. Hammah noon
Madam Speaker, with this one, I think I will require notice because it is not part of it but I will need to be notified.
Madam Speaker noon
Hon Minister, it is not part of it but do you know it or are you going to find it out for us or what?
Madam Speaker noon
He is not a lawyer, he will come back. [Laughter.]
Mr. James Klutse Avedzi noon
Madam Speaker, the Hon Minister, in the long- term programme, has talked about the setting up of the Traffic Police, where he is going to collaborate with the Ministry of the Interior to have a dedicated traffic police that can monitor the drivers on the road. I want to find out from the Hon Minister, that in setting up the traffic police, if measures would be put in place to ensure that they actually enforce the law that would be put in place so that the drivers will not misbehave on the road. I just want to find out if that would be done.
Mr. Hammah noon
Madam Speaker, yes, because they are dedicated traffic police and they would be trained specifically to be able to police our highways. So definitely, we would ensure that they deliver on their mandate to ensure that traffic rules and regulations are obeyed to the letter. That is why they are dedicated and that is what they would be trained for.
Mr. Albert Kan-Dapaah noon
Madam Speaker, while congratulating the Minister for the Ghana Air Force to get disabled and broken down vehicles taken off the major highways irrespective of which he says some companies have been given contracts to undertake, is the Minister aware that the highways are still littered with these disabled and broken down vehicles which continue to cause considerable danger to users of those highways?
Madam Speaker noon
Hon Minister, are you aware of these broken down vehicles?
Mr. Hammah noon
Madam Speaker, I am not aware. [Laughter.]
Mr. Kan-Dapaah noon
Madam Speaker, clearly, the Hon Minister, just like everybody here, is aware, and so if he can give us more information on that.
Madam Speaker noon
In other words, he is not aware. [Laughter.]
Mr. Kan-Dapaah noon
Madam Speaker, I wanted it on record that the Hon Minister is not aware that between Accra and Winneba, the road that he uses very frequently, he does not see any disabled and broken down vehicles.
Madam Speaker noon
So you are now restricting it to the way to Winneba? That is another question that can be allowed. [Laughter.]
Mr. Kan-Dapaah noon
Madam Speaker, I am using that as an example.
Madam Speaker noon
Hon Minister, you have not even noticed the broken down vehicles along the Winneba road? [Laughter.] Can you answer if you can?
Mr. Hammah noon
Madam Speaker, I use that road very often, almost every time but I have not noticed anything of that.
Mr. Felix Twumasi-Appiah noon
Madam Speaker, the question to the Minister -- the main Question was to ask of him what measures were being taken to curb the current spate of road accidents.
Madam Speaker, my question to the Minister is, would he agree with me that these road accidents issue did not start today and will he further agree with me that if there were any practical measures that were put in place by the previous Administration, we will not have been where we are today? I -- [Interruptions.] Would he further agree with me that since the assumption of power, his Ministry has done enough to curb the spate of accidents on our roads? [Interruptions.]
Madam Speaker noon
Hon Member, since your question should not provoke a debate, can you reframe it?
Madam Speaker noon
Do not repeat it, re- frame it so that it does not cause a debate. What do you want to know?
Mr. Twumasi-Appiah noon
Madam Speaker, my question is that, if the Hon Minister would agree with me that the spate of the accidents, did not begin today and that -- [Interruption.]
Madam Speaker noon
You cannot ask him for his opinion. [Interruptions.] So please, come to the question and not an opinion.
Mr. Twumasi-Appiah noon
Madam Speaker, my question is, if the Hon Minister would agree with me that a lot more had been done under his administration to curb the spate of road accidents and if these things were done in the past, these current road accidents would not have happened. [Interruptions.]
Madam Speaker noon
I will not allow that question, it does not arise from the main Question. Unless you want to frame it in another way, I will disallow it. Let us have two more questions.
Mrs. Catherine Abelema Afeku noon
Madam Speaker, my question is on the establishment. As part of the Hon Minister's short-to-medium term strategy, he has made mention of establishing a National Drivers Academy. I would like to ask the Hon Minister that this seems to be one of the usual challenges we face in this nation, what about a decentralized approach.
I am reliably informed that we only have 13 decentralized Drivers Vehicle
and Licensing Authority (DVLA) centres across the nation. What is his Ministry going to do, instead of focusing on National Drivers Academy, to set up a District Drivers Academy so that the people will have access to it even at the rural level? And I find it ironical that the National Road Safety Commission's budget - [Interruption.] I am part of the Committee and so I am privy to it - it is slashed. So how does he intend to embark on this education campaign?
Madam Speaker noon
The question is, how do you intend to embark on the education? That is a legitimate question.
Mr. Hammah noon
In the first question Madam Speaker, the continuous driver education is something that we think that we have to do it, it is quite novel, it is something that we identified and that has to be done. But we have to start on a pilot scheme and we believe that already we have the National Vocational and Technical Training Centre having their facilities. So we can upgrade them and start it from there and then once we know that it is working, we can replicate it and decentralize it so it becomes easy to train these drivers.
Dr. Joseph Annan noon
Madam Speaker, we thank the Hon Minister for giving us a comprehensive indication of what his Ministry is doing. I would like to get back to the 80 per cent of road traffic accident victims. That is a very high figure, and I am also happy that there is going to be collaboration with the Ministry of Health to develop and strengthen the capacity to deal with these post-accident medical responses. But I would like to point out that in most cases, those who arrive - [Interruption.] in most cases, those who arrive at the scenes are not medical personnel and in many countries, there is an opportunity - [Interruptions.]
Madam Speaker noon
Kindly ask the question.
Dr. Annan noon
There is an opportunity
Madam Speaker noon
What is the question?
Dr. Annan noon
The question I am asking is, would the Ministry be involving the Ministry of Education in training First Aid people at schools, pupil teachers who often are the ones that arrive at the scene. So I think there is collaboration between the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education and Ministry of Transport. [Interruptions.]
Madam Speaker, I thank you -- [Interruptions] kindly listen and thank you very much my Hon Friends. [Interruptions.]
Madam Speaker 12:10 p.m.
Order! Order! I still did not get the question. Unless you can in a sentence pose the question -
Dr. Annan 12:10 p.m.
The question is, will the Ministry of Transport collaborate with the Ministry of Education in educating on First Aid methods?
Madam Speaker 12:10 p.m.
Yes, I think we have got the question now.
Mr. Hammah 12:10 p.m.
Yes, Madam.
Madam Speaker 12:10 p.m.
Did you answer the question? There was a final question for you -- are you collaborating to train people?
Mr. Hammah 12:10 p.m.
Madam Speaker, yes,
Mr. Owusu-Bio 12:10 p.m.
Madam Speaker, in the Hon Minister's Answer, he gave us some measures that he intends doing. Some of them were immediate-term, short-term and long-term. And under the immediate-term, the Hon Minister said that his Ministry has directed that all long distance commercial drivers should carry a vehicle log book to help with the adherence to road traffic regulations. Madam Speaker, I want to find out from the Minister, if currently the vehicle log book measure is in place and if so, who are the people checking these books and where do they check them.
Madam Speaker 12:10 p.m.
Please, answer the question, Hon Minister.
Mr. Hammah 12:10 p.m.
Madam Speaker, yes, we have started it and we did it in collaboration with the transport unions. We began by educating them, sensitizing them and even introducing samples of the log books to them and then we got them involved in the enforcement aspect of it.
So currently, we have started it but I believe that by the end of the year, we would have got to the regions and even to the districts. But for now, it has started in the major stations. If you go to the Neoplan Station and other major stations, the log books have been introduced and we encourage the transport unions to ensure that the drivers make sure that they fill them and comply with whatever information they have to give. It is currently ongoing.
Madam Speaker 12:10 p.m.
The last question was asked on what side? This side? Let us have one more, one more, finished. Mr.

E. T. Mensah, one more, then one more, and we round it up.
Mr. E. T. Mensah 12:10 p.m.
Thank you, Madam Speaker. Madam Speaker, on page 6 of the Hon Minister's Answer, he indicated that the Road Traffic Regulation 1974 (L.I.953) makes it mandatory for drivers between long distances to rest to minimize the spate of accidents. It means that there is the need for rest stops. I want to know from him whether they are in any way involved with either the drivers, driver unions or some institutions to provide these rest stops, then we can enforce the mandatory regulations.
Madam Speaker 12:10 p.m.
Hon Minister, question on rest stops.
Mr. Hammah 12:10 p.m.
Madam Speaker, I seem to agree with what my Hon Colleague has just said. It is important to enforce the regulations to provide the services that will enhance the implementation of the regulation. Currently, it is in a pilot stage.
We believe that we have to start from somewhere and then we will be enticing the private sector to partner the road transport associations so that they can provide these facilities and then in turn the private sector can also earn some money. It could be a win-win situation when the private sector partners the road transport associations and they provide those facilities -- those vehicles would be compelled to stop at those stations and then rest, and then those who provide the services will also have the benefit of the passengers patronizing their goods or whatever they sell.
Madam Speaker 12:10 p.m.
Well, the last question.
Mr. S. K. Obodai 12:10 p.m.
Madam Speaker, from the Hon Minister's Answer to this Question, we realize that all his efforts to arrest the problem are based upon his collaborations with the Road Safety Commission and the D.V.L.A. Now, is
he telling this House that as he speaks today, the Road Safety Commission and the D.V.L.A. are now under his Ministry?
Mr. Hammah 12:10 p.m.
Yes, Madam Speaker.
Madam Speaker 12:10 p.m.
The answer is yes. Yes, we have finished with - This is the end of Question time. I thank you Hon Minister .
Thank you very much for appearing to answer our Questions.
We move to item 4 - Statements. I have a Statement which I have admitted from the Hon Member of Parliament for Subin (Mr. Isaac Osei). Hon Member, can you deliver your Statement?
STATEMENTS 12:10 p.m.

Mr. Isaac Osei (NPP -- Subin) 12:20 p.m.
I thank you for the singular opportunity to make this Statement on the inferno which engulfed part of the Kumasi Central Market last Thursday.
The Kumasi Central Market is located within the Subin Constituency which I am proud to represent in this august House. Secondly, as the Ranking Member on the Trade Industry and Tourism Committee of this House, any major incident which precludes traders from carrying on with their normal business is a matter of concern.
Madam Speaker, the Kumasi Central Market was built in 1936 and it was said at that time that it rivalled Onitsha and Ibadan markets for the title of the largest market in West Africa. Over the years, the market has extended beyond its original boundaries and across the railway line into the Manhyia Constituency.

The reputation and integrity of the Kumasi market operators was such that it attracted the Fulanis of northern Nigeria and people from as far away as Gao in Mali. Today, the Kumasi Central Market is a “massive shopping maze” and a meeting point for traders and farmers from all corners of our country and beyond who bring their wares to trade.

For any visitor to Kumasi, a trip to the central market is mandatory, for there, one could appreciate the sounds and smells of Ghana and the organised chaos which underpins the myriad of activities which ebbs and flows continuously. The Kumasi Central Market has a life all of its own and thus when a section cannot work, it affects the vibrancy and dynamism of the entire market.

We are told that about 400 stalls and shops were totally consumed by the fire and I am sure that Members of the House will join me in sympathising with our brothers and sisters who have been adversely affected by the conflagration of last Thursday.

Madam Speaker, we should be thankful to God that no lives were lost even if livelihoods have been dislocated. It is also sad that while others were in distress, some people took advantage to loot their properties. Fortunately, it was reported that nine (9) people had been appre-hended and were to be charged and processed for court. This may be an instructive lesson for those who flock to disaster and accident spots to help themselves to unsecured goods.

Madam Speaker, I visited the scene of the unfortunate incident last Monday along with several Hon Members and even though bulldozers were clearing the

rubble, the evidential signs were all too clear that this was nothing but a disaster -- a disaster which requires immediate attention and a thoughtful response from government and more especially from the metropolitan authorities in Kumasi.

The market is a place where every ethnic group in this country works freely as stall holders, shop keepers, suppliers, wholesalers, transporters, itinerant traders, head porters, cleaners, market inspectors, sub-retailers as well as small- scale manufacturers. In the market, every shade of opinion along the entire Ghanaian political spectrum can be found. Furthermore, the large majority of those who operate in the central market are not resident in the Subin Constituency but come from all over the Kumasi metropolis and beyond, some as far as Anyinam while others come from Kintampo.

Far too often in Ghana, we draw politics into everything we do or say. I would say that, in this particular instance, I will urge Members of this House to have a national outlook in discussing the consequences and challenges of the Kumasi tragedy as this may have implications for national policy and legal frameworks.

Madam Speaker, tragic as the events of Thursday are, I see opportunities - opportunities to completely redevelop the entire Kumasi Central Market as a large market fit for the 21st century and in doing so provide and implement a master plan to manage traffic and environmental concerns.

Madam Speaker, the v i s i t ing Parliamentarians went to the site in the company of the newly-installed Metropolitan Chief Executive and the Regional Minister and this I believe emphasised to the thousands of onlookers at the disaster site that their MPs were
Dr. Matthew O. Prempeh (NPP -- Manhyia) 12:20 p.m.
Madam Speaker, I rise
Mr. E. T. Mensah 12:30 p.m.
On a point of order. Madam Speaker, the maker of the Statement cautioned that we should not read politics into anything. But in this country we always read politics into every little thing. So I think my good friend is out of order because he has to prove who said what.
Dr. Prempeh 12:30 p.m.
Madam Speaker, I did not say - [Interruption.]
Madam Speaker 12:30 p.m.
Please, make comments on the Statement.
Dr. Prempeh 12:30 p.m.
Madam Speaker, but
Minister for Local Government and Rural Development (Mr. Joseph Yieleh Chireh) 12:30 p.m.
Madam Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to also share in the grief of the fire disaster in the Kumasi Central Market. I think that we must commend the maker of the Statement for bringing out quite a number of issues which border on planning, designing and indeed, calling for a legislation that will take account of making sure that we insure our public places.
I believe that these disasters are really
not confined to any particular place and while that one was happening in Kumasi, a similar thing was also happening at Agbogbloshie in Accra here.
Madam Speaker, what is important for us is that fortunately, while the President was up North and heard of this disaster, he immediately asked that a committee be set up to go into it so that all the measures that Government needs to take, all the measures that the metro and the regional authorities need to take would be initiated.
In the wake of this disaster, if you take
any public action, you may not achieve the results. That is why I earlier on alluded to the fact that he made an elaborate plan of what we should be doing so that we avoid these disasters, particularly fire disasters.
We know that for several years we have allowed politics, not to agree with us as politicians, to do what is right. We see people doing things they should not do and when the authority wants to move in, some political sentiments are read into these.
That is why I agree entirely with him that we should begin to move away from the politicization of these disasters and anything that would in future create a disaster for us. I am very confident that with the kind of work that we are doing at the Ministry in collaboration with the Metropolitan Assemblies, particularly with the Kumasi Metro, this issue of planning and designing will be uppermost in their work.
Indeed, we are sourcing funds, and I believe that eventually if this comes to this House, it will be given approval, where four of the Metros and one municipality would be considered to plan and itemize priorities for their own development and I believe that the Kumasi Central Market design will be part of it.

How do we fund such a thing? It is easier said than done but I think that we should all begin to look at the possibility of getting everybody on board and let us not sit back and say government or any other, private sector involvement and commercialization in terms of all these things will be the profit motive that will drive people to invest in this venture.

Let us also look at the discipline as why people do things. And I urge all of us that we should work concertedly to ensure that we do what is right, we make sure that even exhaustive infrastructure we have in the cities and the villages are insured. Indeed, the laws exist; it now needs some education for people to do so and we would like to emphasize again that soon. Once the Assemblies are in place and Hon Members are Hon Members of this Assemblies, we will urge that you take control in terms of the contributions that you make for planning to be effective.

We are not going to recentralize these activities. Government should be seen to support all the activities that are embarked upon by the various Assemblies.

I want again to share the grief in this particular disaster and to say that what ought to be done or what is to be done will be done.
Mr. Hackman Owusu-Agyemang (NPP -- New Juaben North) 12:30 p.m.
Madam Speaker, I thank you very much. Just to share a little information as to what was being done and why we should speed that one up.
Indeed, there was a Cabinet Committee set up which I had the privilege of chairing to develop the Salaga Market based on the E.T. Mensah model -- [Hear! Hear!] -- and the Kumasi Central Market and the Cape Coast Central Market. Indeed, ¢27 billion was made available by the Ministry
Mr. Hackman Owusu-Agyemang (NPP -- New Juaben North) 12:40 p.m.

of Finance and Economic Planning for all these and the designs were almost completed.

The difficulty with Kumasi was that they were supposed to shift the whole market to the satellite market, break it down and reconstruct and that was what stalled the negotiation.

There were some banks who formed the consortium and which were interested in making sure that we found the money. Indeed, there were financiers ready with financing.

Of course, with the election and change of Government, it has taken a bit of time. But the fundamentals have already been agreed upon. The money should be there somewhere and I believe that the consortium that was put together of eight, seven banks in this country is also available, and at least, in the Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing, the details, the funding and the arrangements are there. So I will urge my Hon Colleague who has already purged himself of revolutionary zeal to look to that position and see how best we can quickly move in the direction of rehabilitation.

Madam Speaker, I speak, I must also add the indiscipline of our own people. The indiscipline in the market places is absolutely unacceptable, to the extent that the fire tenders do not have access, should anything happen. Quite apart from the fact that the Ghana National Fire Service is also under resourced -- and I believe that when we talk about discipline, it is discipline in all facets of our lives.

I believe that in future when these

developmental programmes are being done, there is no reason to delay them because as I said, the E. T. thing is already on board, so is the Madam Appiah-Agyei's one. The only one that is to be done is Cape Coast. The money is there, I am told it has been done, the money is there, or I think part of the money is there, so we can start that and I believe that we can move forward very, very quickly especially in this times when we have seen tragedy affecting the people.

I would like to end by expressing my sincerest condolences to those who have lost their lives and property and we hope that this thing does not happen in any of our markets because it is becoming a bit too rampant and the last time, it was the Konkomba Market and the Timber Market. We cannot afford to lose lives and property the way we are losing them because we need everything to develop.

Madam Speaker, I thank you very much but the information is all there for us to move forward.
Mr. George Kuntu-Blankson (NDC -- Mfantseman East) 12:40 p.m.
Madam Speaker, thank you for giving me the opportunity to comment on the Statement made by our Colleague on the other side.
As much as we are trying to sympathize with the affected victims, we may also ask questions here. I think this is not the first time the Kumasi market has been engulfed with such a disaster and I think there were committees set up to look into all these matters. May we ask here what happened to these reports? Money spent for investigating the consequences of the disaster -- what happened to it?
When we go into this matter, you could see that in this country of ours, systems do not work, systems do not work - until we make systems work, we will end up destroying ourselves. Everything that
happens in this country is reduced to politics.
It may interest you to note that, as at yesterday, there was a plan to remove those who sell on pavements in Accra in order to create an environment which will be conducive to movement of traffic -- it was reduced to politics. Partisan politics and people will be standing somewhere reading so many meanings into it which will not help us to move forward in the right direction as required.
I will urge my Colleagues here, it is high time we brought people to book; those Ministers who come here to answer Questions because they have been given the responsibility to work for the development of the country -- that is why they have been assigned those sectors to manage. So if there is anything going on badly which will affect the country, we must stand to it and correct it.
I will urge the Ghanaian community, the society as a whole also to play their role because it takes two to advance and it takes two to develop.
Madam Speaker, let us forget about whatever has happened in the past. Now, the country needs unity to be able to advance, to make sure that whatever the people are yearning for, they can get it; and as a matter of fact, we Members of Parliament are brought here in order to advance the cause of our people who voted us into power and we should do away with partisan politics and make sure that we move as a society and as a community which people have entrusted their destinies and their lives into.
Ms Cecilia Abena Dapaah (NPP --
Bantama): Madam Speaker, thank you for giving me the opportunity to contribute to the Statement ably made by Hon Isaac
Osei, Member of Parliament for Subin. I wish also to add my voice to express my sympathy to those who lost their properties and wares in the fire outbreak.
I also wish to collaborate facts given by Hon Hackman Owusu-Agyemang, because I had the opportunity to be the Chairperson for the redevelopment of the Kumasi market project and I wish to emphasize that there is a beautiful model which we have looked at and I believe investors were ready to come in with money to support the KMA to be able to put up this beautiful edifice, which has so many parts comprising office areas, hostels and sanitation areas and bath houses for our women and men and the children who do business in the markets.
I also wish to comment on the fact that, some of our markets are used as homes for families who face accommodation problems. This should be discouraged because of the congestive nature of the environment and the poor sanitation and the fact that markets are not sleeping places or living places or homes to raise children. There are people who also cook in these markets and invariably, some of them do leave the fires unextinguished or use candles if they sleep and forget to put them out at these places and this should be discouraged.
Madam Speaker, there are people who also visit these markets and have nowhere to even ease themselves or just visit the washrooms. So I believe any future project for any market in this nation should take care of our sanitation. Because I believe it is the sanitation that will go on to give dignity to the market projects.
I will also suggest that our markets should have kindergartens or nurseries to be able to take care of children whose mothers stay in the market from morning till evening so that the children will not be disadvantaged. I will cite the Bantama
Mr. George Kuntu-Blankson (NDC -- Mfantseman East) 12:40 p.m.

market which just got burnt, I think last year, and I wish to commend the KMA for the swift nature, the swift way they used funds to support the building and redevelopment of the market.

As I speak, it is nearing completion and I will urge the new KMA boss to also make sure that the Kumasi market project is fixed to the benefit of the market women and the men who do their trade in that market.

I wish to thank you Madam Speaker, for giving me the opportunity to express these few words.
Mr. E. T. Mensah (NDC -- Ningo- Prampram) 12:50 p.m.
Madam Speaker, I also rise to associate myself with the Statement ably made by the Hon Member for Subin Constituency. Like the Minister for Local Government and Rural Development said, the core of the issues raised is proper planning and enforcement of laws. We have all the laws in this country, we do not need any new legislation.
When you look at the very first Local Government Act 54, of 1960, the issue about planning is lifted in the same paragraphs 45, 46, 47, into the Act 359 of 1971, to PNDC Law 207 of 1988 and our current Act 463. The laws are there and anytime we begin to enforce them, then you are in trouble. Like my Hon Hackman Owusu-Agyemang said, the bottom line is indiscipline. We are so indisciplined in this country; you talk about Kumasi being the garden city once upon a time and it was because laws worked in those days.

So what I want to say is that, there is a need for us, for you Madam Speaker, to refer this Statement to the Select Committee on Local Government and Rural Development to collect all the

committees' reports and come out with one document, give to the Minister for Local Government and Rural Development so that we follow through as Parliament; the Assurance Committee can be part of it so that we follow it through. Otherwise, every now and then there will be these disasters, then we come here, make Statements and nothing happens.

Like he said, we build the markets, we create access, we have clinics, we have the hostels, all put together as a model. Under a World Bank programme in 1985 good money was spent. We started building the markets and the lorry parks. Somewhere along the line, we stopped and then we have been revisited by this problem that we are having.

So Madam Speaker, I believe that we need not waste any more time; the solutions are all over the place but the agencies to implement them have become a problem.

Let me also in conclusion thank the maker of the Statement and also share the grief and sympathize with the people who have lost their wares and money. Almost all the women keep their money in the markets; so they have lost so much and it is not their fault; it is because of the lack of leadership to make sure that the right things are done. I believe that this time round, we will take it more seriously and move forward in the right direction.

Thank you very much.
Madam Speaker 12:50 p.m.
Hon E. T. Mensah,
you said it should be referred to a Select Committee of the House.
Mr. E. T. Mensah 12:50 p.m.
The Select Committee on Local Government and Rural Development.
Madam Speaker 12:50 p.m.
I would like to hear from the Leaders about this suggestion.
Hon Leader, it is an important thing and I would like to hear what you say about this -- [Pause] -- Or shall I start with the Hon Minority Leader if you are not -- [ An Hon Member: I am ready.] I wanted the Leaders, when we get there, I will call you - [Uproar.] That is good, congratulations! There is a suggestion that we send this Statement to the Select Committee on Local Government and Rural Development.
Mr. Bagbin 12:50 p.m.
Madam Speaker, we will definitely assist you in giving direction in this matter, but at the end of the day you will take the decision. Depending on the issues raised by Members in the course of making their comments or remarks to the initial Statement made by the Hon Member -- I think even the initial Statement raised a lot of issues.
If this House is of the view that we need to go further into the issues raised, definitely, it is appropriate to refer it to the Select Committee or to a special committee established by the House to probe further. This has been done a number of times by this House, depending on the situation and the seriousness of the issues that are raised. We, however, do not usually follow through; after the report of such a committee, the House seems not to have the bite to follow through to make sure that recommendations are implemented.
Madam Speaker, the other alternative is to direct that the proceedings of the day, with respect to the subject-matter that is being discussed, are referred to the sector Minister and is instructed to take action. That is the quickest and I think a better way of doing it. What we do not do is to add that the Minister should report back to the House as to the actions taken in that respect.
I think we need to take that step and
ask that the Minister in charge should go into the matter, come back to the House and tell the House the steps and actions that were taken towards implementing -- or the difficulties and challenges that they are meeting so that together with the House we can find a better solution. So these are the options.
In this particular case, because of the incessant nature of these market fires, it is important that we take it as a very serious matter and that we rather direct that the Ministry should take up the matter, in this case, the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development to investigate and report back to the House as to the state of affairs and the way forward and if there are any challenges, we could assist in ironing out, finding solutions so that we bring to an end this perennial market fires which usually happen most at times after transitions. I do not understand why.
Any time we have these transitions, we have market fires and particularly the same markets and I do not know whether we are learning anything from these experiences. So I think it is high time we got the Ministry to go further into the matter and report back to the House.
Thank you very much.
Madam Speaker 12:50 p.m.
Thank you,
Majority Leader. Hon Minority Leader, do you have anything to add to what the Majority Leader has suggested?
Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 12:50 p.m.
Speaker, I associate with that. As he said, in extreme circumstances, depending on the urgency of the matter, we could even recommend that the discussions be enveloped, parcelled to the Presidency. So we could even do that. So, as he said, I associate entirely with this.
Madam Speaker 12:50 p.m.
Thank you. I think this is important enough to deserve the action that has been suggested. I would, I think, give it to the Minister to look at and inform us of what action -- because it is important; it is happening too often and there is a delay in any implementation. So at this stage, I will direct that the proceedings respecting this matter, this Statement and all the comments be referred to the Minister for Local Government and Rural Development and to indicate to us appropriate action to bring along to this and then to report to this House. We will be getting somewhere, I think. And I so direct.
At this stage, we have finished with
Statements time and we are moving on to Commencement of Public Business.
Mr. Frederick Opare-Ansah 1 p.m.
Speaker, before you move on to Public Business, I wish to draw attention of the House to a matter that borders on contempt of the House. And this information comes under Orders 30 (1) and also Order 30 (2).
As we all know, Parliament was
established by the Constitution of this country, the 1992 Constitution and the integrity and dignity of Parliament must be preserved at all times irrespective of our own partisan considerations.
(Newspaper Publication)
Madam Speaker, I make reference to a publication in the newspaper titled “The Ghanaian Lens”, edited by one Kojo Fiagbe and the issue of yesterday, Tuesday, June 2, 2009. Thirty per cent of the front page was dedicated to a headline captioned “Corruption !!!” and under that “Parliamentarians Extorting Monies from Service Providers in the name of Communications Sub-Committee.” And the story itself is found on page 6
of the Paper. And in this publication, Madam Speaker, the Paper gives various descriptions to this august institution over which your goodself presides.

It also goes to allege that committees seem to be in the business of enriching themselves through very unacceptable means. It further goes on to say specifically that this Paper's investigations reveal that some members of the Parliamentary Sub Committee on Communications are in the business of asking telecommunications service providers to be nice to them. And it further goes on to elucidate how some members are asking for envelopes.

Madam Speaker, if you make reference to the various Orders I alluded to earlier, clearly, if indeed the story in this publication is true then some Members of Parliament and the parliamentary staffers are breaching the privileges that we enjoy. If it is not true then indeed, this Paper is clearly in contempt of this august House and it is -- [Interruption.] I am a member of the Committee -- I was part of the delegation that actually went to visit these operators.

Save for the delegation to tiGo where I arrived slightly late. I was part of all the other sittings which the Committee had with the various operators and indeed, we discussed matters that are very fruitful and important to this nation. So I cannot by any stretch of imagination understand how a newspaper reportage will capture the activities that occurred in this light and in this manner. I do not believe that this is the work of any member of our Parliamentary Press Corps who understands very well

how we do our business here and has been with us for a long period of time.

I believe this must be the work of some sinister plotters. And so Madam Speaker, I would like to humbly request that you refer this matter to the Privileges Committee for further investigations to show the Ghanaian public that indeed, this House is representing them in their true interest and intents and we are not here to enrich ourselves nor are we here to extort monies from the organizations that our various committees and the House itself have dealings with.

Thank you very much, Madam Speaker.
Mr. Bagbin 1 p.m.
Madam Speaker, sorry
that I stood up early. Hon Members should forgive me for that. It is important that I intervened because my attention was drawn to this when I came to the House after attending some State matters. I have not had the opportunity to discuss with my Hon Colleague the Minority Leader but initial discussions with the dean and the executives of the Parliamentary Press Corps have raised some other issues. It is not only the publication but even how come somebody from outside the Parliamentary Press Corps managed to go with the parliamentary committee on such an official function?
We will want to propose, after my initial discussion with them, for us to give the opportunity first, for Leadership to go into the matter.
We are not definitely stopping this matter because this is a very serious matter. But we want to do it in such a way that our brothers and sisters of the media who are serious partners with us will see the need for how we handle it so that when we come back to the House, we can report for the matter to be gone further into, whether
by the sub-committee on privileges or whatever. But I will want to plead that we should have initial discussion with the media who are our partners before we go into the full hub of referring the matter to the Privileges Committee.
Papa Owusu-Ankomah 1 p.m.
Thank you, Madam Speaker. While I must concede that in such matters, Leadership may have an opportunity to have some discussions in-House, I believe that in this case, the story is so defamatory of Parliament. Indeed, ever since I came to Parliament, this is the first time I have read a story that is adversely portraying this institution and describing them as a den of thieves.
Madam Speaker, I believe that what the Hon Majority Leader has suggested can be done alongside what mandatorily under our Standing Orders, Madam Speaker is directed to do --
“Order 27 -- Notwithstanding anything contained in these Orders Mr Speaker may refer any questions of privilege to the Committee of Privileges for examination, investigation and report.”
While this is going on, I am sure the Leadership can put its head together. Indeed, even before the Committee commences investigation, steps may be taken to purge themselves of this contempt but where the story is so clear, names have been mentioned, a picture of an Hon Member is placed next to the story, I believe that we must let our Standing Orders work.
Madam Speaker, I am saying this because increasingly, this institution has been disparaged by the general public because of certain stories emanating about the House and even comments made by some Hon Members and it is important that we maintain the integrity of the institution. This institution is the bastion of democracy in this country and
Madam Speaker 1 p.m.
I thought we have
had enough on this matter and I could really give my decision. But let me hear one each from the two sides.
Mr. I. A. B. Fuseini 1:10 p.m.
Thank you Madam Speaker, for giving me the opportunity to add my voice to this matter and I associate myself wholly with the sentiments expressed by the Minority Chief Whip and the Member of Parliament for Sekondi. Indeed, when I read the story I was beside myself with rage.

Madam Speaker, it is important that members of the public and the media particularly understand how Parliament works. Probably, they were confused as to what Parliament was doing when Parliament decided to work in committees, in visiting the various service providers to know how they were delivering on their services to our constituents.

Madam Speaker, indeed, it will interest

you to know that the story is not only false, it is palpably and demonstrably false. No money was given to any Member of Parliament who undertook that trip, no money at all. And no Member of Parliament asked for, refused or was refused money.

Madam Speaker, for anybody to by a

stroke of a pen, destroy the reputations of not only Members of Parliament who have suffered so long to build those reputations, but also, as in the words of Hon Papa Owusu-Ankomah, to destroy the reputation of this House, a House that holds the democracy of this country. In fact, maybe, those who wrote the story did not know that when we Sit here and talk, we do not only talk as Members of Parliament, we are reflecting the views of all the thousands of people who have elected us to come and speak for them here and so any person who goes out there and writes up stories that are false must not be countenanced by this House.

Madam Speaker, it is true that the

Majority Leader will want to maintain the cordial relationship that Parliament has with the media; but there are attempts at encouraging people to understand the inner workings of Parliament. Madam Speaker, this has gone just too far; to state in the Paper that even though they contacted the Chairman and the Chairman denied the story, they were convinced that some members of the Committee demanded for envelopes.

Madam Speaker, that shows that they

have facts that they can prove before any committee set up by you in this House. Madam Speaker, I pray you that this matter be referred to the Privileges Committee so that people who take the pen to write, at least, would not write stories that in the words of our Standing Orders affect the dignity of this House. That is my prayer to you and I so pray you and add my voice to other Hon Members who have spoken.
Mr. Hackman Owusu-Agyemang 1:10 p.m.
Rt. Hon Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity. Madam Speaker, as an addendum, I would like to say we have heard what is happening in the Westminster and elsewhere and I believe it is the prerogative of the populace if the representatives are “not behaving the way they should behave” -- That notwithstanding, to bunch all of us together and to say that this is a den of thieves -- and if you read the opening paragraph of the story, it is really terrible.
Madam Speaker, sometimes, I have
had the occasion to say that sometimes the press is its own worst enemy and I can substantiate it. One thing they do then destroys one's credibility and reputation built over 30, 40 years. Madam Speaker, somebody might have read this; the next time they go to retract, that person might not have read it. So what does it say? Ghanaian Parliamentarians are all full -- It is a den of thieves.
Madam Speaker, I was in the United
States of America, for example, and they called me from the United Nations where I have served for 20 years, “Hey, Hackman, we hear that you are to be arraigned before a court because you have stolen “A”, “B”, “C”, “D” and “E” and worked on

the Densu River”, I asked, “Me”?” I have never worked on Densu River. That was done by the previous Government even before the Kufuor Government came and I was the fifth Minister for the Ministry of Works and Housing, so I could not have done that. Five people that I have worked with at the United Nations asked about it because it was on the internet.

The day that I arrived in Accra -- Three days later, I immediately took a plane, came back; then what did they do? The newspaper wrote back that after all, President Mills had said that Hackman was not part of the team that was to be prosecuted. And I called the Editor and I said, “You have destroyed me -- People there think . . .” I mean, for even coming on the front page with my picture they may think I am a thief.

Then he said, “I am sorry, Honourable”. And I said that was not enough. And then the next time he comes round to say that at the end of the day Hackman never handled that project and so Hackman Owusu-Agyemang did not know anything about it. None of the five people from New York have called me to say that they had seen the retraction. So in their minds, their colleague that they had, who had the privilege of being in charge of the whole of Africa is a thief.

So Madam Speaker, when these issues come, I think that the responsibility - We need the Press; we need them but they must also balance whatever they produce and make sure that they go to the bottom of it.

I believe that I should use this opportunity also to say that sometimes the so-called investigative journalists also destroy this country.

Madam Speaker, there was this case -- and I am not defending anybody here.
Mr. Hackman Owusu-Agyemang 1:10 p.m.
Everywhere world tourism has grown; when you go there, there are spas and massage parlours and the rest. If you go to Malaysia, they are selling jumbo jets a day, fly to Kuala Lumpur or to Lam cari for tourism and that is where we think our future also lies. Now, if somebody comes here and goes to a parlour and he is massaged and it becomes such a big thing to the extent that -- people would not come.
It is not that one is encouraging any promiscuity or anything of that nature but we should be careful to see that this nation is not an Island of itself and it must develop in certain directions. And we as the people's representatives must lead in this crusade.
The Government is working hard and then everything that the Government has put up with one hand, one publication just pulls it down. Who would respect us anymore if we went to Australia and we come here from a House which has been described by a newspaper as a den of thieves?
So I would like to support the Statement and appeal to the Hon Leader of the House that yes, there are somethings that we must take the bull by the horn. If some of us have been guilty of misdemeanour, let it come out like it is coming out in Westminster and some of them are resigning. That is the only thing by which we can purge ourselves of the miscreants amongst us.
If somebody did it, we should not be afraid to ask the person -- because when they appear before the Committee on Privileges, they have to give the facts, if they have the facts, too bad, tant pis, the Frenchman will say, for those who asked for it. But to say that the Clerk came for the envelopes and when I asked them, “Is

that what you do? -- he said, “if I do not take the envelope back my Chairman will be angry at me”. What is this? Some of us have spent all our lives trying to do what is right and then somebody with one stroke of the pen completely destroys it. And it is unacceptable not just to Members of Parliament but to anybody in the society. We are not angels; we are not infallible but such major infractions of our rights should not be accommodated.

So Madam Speaker, with all my heart

and the little weight that I have at my disposal as a Member of Parliament, I would like to support the Minority Chief Whip and all those who have spoken in favour of it as well as the distinguished Member of Parliament for Tamale Central. I think that we should not shy away from this at all. We should not do it under the bed, we should not do it under the carpet, let it be open and let us move on and then the distinguished Leader of the House will then make his peace whatever he wants it to be. But we want to know whether indeed we are a den of thieves or we are not a den or thieves. That is what I want to know.
Madam Speaker 1:20 p.m.
I think I will rule on this matter; I have heard enough from Hon Members. [Interruptions.] I think he is an interested party -- [Laughter.] But let us decide this without his input. The rules, Standing Order 31 is clear that in all cases of proceedings where a complaint is made of breach of privilege or contempt of Parliament, Mr. Speaker may direct that the matter be referred to the Committee on Privileges. Indeed, the Committee on Privileges will investigate and find out and so it is really the same thing; like the Hon Leader said, let us investigate it. I think it would also be done at the Committee. So I think I will refer this matter to the Committee on Privileges.
Thank you very much. We have Laying
Mr. Owusu-Agyemang 1:20 p.m.
Speaker, for the sake of time, can we give them some deadline, say a fortnight?
Madam Speaker 1:20 p.m.
Well, I would not specify the time. They are Members of Parliament themselves, they know how serious it is, they would take their time and investigate and maybe, this would be a test case where the Papers would know the difference between vilifying Parliament and just reporting. This is because if you look at Order 30, you will see that there are so many instances where such act would amount to grievous vilification of Parliament and interfering with its work.
So maybe, it is good that we look into this and then set it as an example, and at the same time, we keep our partners of the press here. Once they know the truth and the action that they should not take, it will help us all to carry on. So like I said, I refer it to the Committee.
Hon Members, can we go to Commen- cement of Public Business -- Laying of Papers and quickly go to item 5(a)? Hon Leader, item 5(a), is the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice here or somebody is going to lay it on her behalf?
Mr. Bagbin 1:20 p.m.
Madam Speaker, I just want to crave the indulgence of Members of Parliament and permission of your goodself, for us to permit the Deputy Attorney-General and Minister for Justice to lay the Report for and on behalf of the Minister. I am told the Minister is not in the country and the Deputy Minister is in charge and will want to come and lay the Report.
Madam Speaker 1:20 p.m.
Hon Member, I
will permit it; what are you going to say
about it?
Mr. Samuel Atta Akyea 1:20 p.m.
Speaker, I have a simple issue as to whether we have the requisite quorum to even proceed with the business in terms of our Standing Orders. That is very, very important because we cannot be people who violate our own Orders in the name of expediency or whatever. So if the requisite quorum is not here, I am afraid, we will be violating our own Standing Orders.
Madam Speaker 1:20 p.m.
What Order?
Mr. Akyea 1:20 p.m.
Madam Speaker, with due respect, Order 48(1), requires that we should have at least one-third of Members before we can do serious business of the House. And I do not know whether we can find out whether we constitute one-third; if not then the proceedings which will follow after would be an act of illegality.
Madam Speaker 1:20 p.m.
You are saying that one-third of the Members are not here, have you counted them?
Mr. Akyea 1:20 p.m.
Madam Speaker, I think that is not my duty. Maybe, if the Clerk could check. But I am tempted to believe that we are less than one-third.
Madam Speaker 1:20 p.m.
How many people are here?
Mr. Akyea 1:20 p.m.
I think if we want to be scientific then let us crave the indulgence of the Clerk to give us a scientific figure.
Madam Speaker 1:20 p.m.
But Hon Member, you must have known the number shot before you raised the topic. How many are present so we see if it is one-third?
Mr. Akyea 1:20 p.m.
Madam Speaker, if you would permit me to count -- [Interruptions.] With all respect, if you would permit me to count. [Inter- ruptions.] Madam Speaker, I am reliably
Mr. Akyea 1:20 p.m.

informed that we are 72.
Madam Speaker 1:20 p.m.
Hon Members go and come in, so I am not sure if we are still 72.
Mr. Akyea 1:20 p.m.
Madam Speaker, I am mathematically-challenged but I am told 72 is less than one-third.
Mr. Felix Twumasi-Appiah 1:20 p.m.
Madam Speaker, my good Friend is probably mathematically-challenged as he put it. The last time I made the physical count, we were more than 83. It may also interest him to know that some Members are having committee meetings who may walk in as and when - The Public Accounts Committee is sitting. In fact, the other committees as well. But presently, Madam Speaker, I can assure him that we are more than 80 Members of Parliament here.
Thank you very much, Madam Speaker.
Madam Speaker 1:20 p.m.
Leadership, is it at every particular time we must have the one-third? People go and come.
Mr. Bagbin 1:20 p.m.
Madam Speaker, it is
an issue that has been raised by my Hon Friend without the proper foundation and I think that he should have done that before raising the issue. He should have known the number present on the floor and then in drawing our attention, tell us the exact number. Now, we are being left in limbo and then we are having to count.
But by the rules, we still have ten minutes for the bell to be rung for Members to come. So we can still proceed with the business until after ten minutes, if we are not able to get the quorum then we can adjourn. But that is the quorum to transact business and then the quorum to take a decision which is half the number, would also be guided by that provision.
But now, he is talking about the quorum to do business which is one-third, so we would then call on the Clerk's Office to do the proper thing and draw the attention of Members who are in the corridors, at committee meetings, to come to the floor for us to continue with the business and take the necessary decisions.
Thank you very much.
Madam Speaker 1:20 p.m.
I have seen two Members walking out since this matter came up and more from this side. Let us ring the bell, we are entitled to ring the bell and give ten minutes. In the meantime, we can carry on until then.
So let us lay the Papers. Hon Deputy Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, item 5(a), can you lay the Paper?
PAPERS 1:20 p.m.

Madam Speaker 1:20 p.m.
Item 5 (b) -- Minister for Finance and Economic Planning or anybody could lay it on his behalf?
Mr. Bagbin 1:30 p.m.
Madam Speaker, I personally called the Minister and he told me he was going to the President's
Office on his call and that he would be in the House. He has not yet arrived so I am seeking your permission to allow the Minister for Local Government and Rural Development to lay the Report on his behalf.
Madam Speaker 1:30 p.m.
Yes, Minister for Local Government and Rural Develop- ment?
By the Minister for Local Government and Rural Development (on behalf of Minister for Finance and Economic Planning)
Annual Progress Report on the Implementation of the Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy, 2006 2009 for the year 2007.
Referred to the Committee on Poverty Reduction Strategy.
Madam Speaker 1:30 p.m.
(c) - Minister for Roads and Highways - Hon Leader?
Mr. Bagbin 1:30 p.m.
Madam Speaker, I am again seeking the permission of the House and your goodself, to allow the Minister for Local Government and Rural Development lay this Report on behalf of the Minister for Roads and Highways. He, I have not got in touch with, so I honestly cannot say why he is not present here. That I cannot say.
By the Minister for Local Government and Rural Development (on behalf of Minister for Roads and Highways)
Annual Report and Accounts of the Ghana Road Fund for the year 2006.
Referred to the Committee on Roads and Transport.
Madam Speaker 1:30 p.m.
Mr. Bagbin 1:30 p.m.
Madam Speaker, once again, I crave the indulgence of the House and the permission of the Speaker to allow the Minister for Local Government and Rural Development -
Madam Speaker 1:30 p.m.
You must be seen, not heard -- [Laughter.]
By the Minister for Local Government and Rural Development (on behalf of the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources)
Annual Report of the Minerals Commission for the year 2006.
Referred to the Committee on Mines and Energy.
By the Majority Leader
Report of the Auditor-General on the Public Accounts of Ghana (Ministries, Departments and Other Agencies of the Central Government) for the year ended 31st December 2006.
Referred to the Public Accounts Committee.
By the Majority Leader Report of the Auditor-General on the Public Accounts of Ghana (Ministries, Departments and Other Agencies of the Central Government) for the year ended 31st December 2007.
Referred to the Public Accounts Committee
By the Majority Leader
P e r f o r m a n c e A u d i t R e p o r t of the Auditor-General on the Implementation of Infrastructural Projects in Public Educational Institutions Financed by GETFund.
Referred to the Public Accounts Committee.
Madam Speaker 1:30 p.m.
(f) - Chairman of the Committee?
Mr. J. K. Avedzi 1:30 p.m.
Madam Speaker, the Reports are not ready, so the Committee is still working on them.
Madam Speaker 1:30 p.m.
So you cannot lay them?
Mr. Avedzi 1:30 p.m.
No, Madam Speaker, we cannot lay the Reports.
Madam Speaker 1:30 p.m.
All right. Yes, Hon Member?
Papa Owusu-Ankomah 1:30 p.m.
Thank you very much Madam Speaker for recognizing me at this time -
Madam Speaker 1:30 p.m.
Yes, I turned my
head and saw you.
Papa Owusu-Ankomah 1:30 p.m.
You were so much engrossed in looking on the right side of this House that you failed to see me -- [Interruptions.]
Indeed, it may be belated but it is appropriate, Madam Speaker, for all of us to appreciate that we are engaged in Government Business. The Hon Majority Leader when seeking permission for another Minister to lay a Paper on behalf of the Minister for Finance and Economic
Planning, stated that the Minister was on his way to the President.
Madam Speaker, this House is governed by its own rules. It is not for nothing that Government Business takes priority over every other business. And so a Government must constitute itself in a manner that it does not disable itself in conducting this business.
And Madam Speaker, where a Government is saying that it will be lean and effective and thereby disables itself for conducting its business in the House, Madam Speaker, with all due respect, and deference to your high office, it is not for Parliament to bend over backwards to enable Government carry on its business.
We have a leader of Government Business here. If the Leader of Government Business, in the absence of a Minister, cannot conduct Government's business in this House, then Government itself is ineffective. [Hear! Hear!] Government itself is ineffectual.
And Madam Speaker, I say this because really, it seems as if this Government does not appreciate the work of this House. It is clear. This Government does not seem to appreciate the work of this House, that it has to conduct its business through this House.
And with all due respect to the Hon Minority Leader, who is my Leader, I cannot say anything on behalf of those of us on this side of the House. But the Majority Leader himself has been a Leader in this House for the past eight years - not a Leader of this House but a Minority Leader for the past eight years. He knows how business of this House is conducted.
Madam Speaker, I am pleading with you, if H.E. the President wants his business, as President, in this House to go
on, he should arrange his affairs in such a manner that the relevant Ministers are here to come and lay Papers. It is not a joke that Madam Speaker calls on the relevant Minister for the Ministry - it is not just a joke, it signifies something because it is a document that is coming from the Minister and it indicates the importance that the Government attaches to that business.
Madam Speaker, I am a member of
the Finance Committee and I know that there is nothing to be laid, because when we went into committee, we advised the Minister that it was not necessary to amend the law to enable them do what they are doing, they seek to do. So I am surprised that they are still appearing on the Order Paper. There is no business before the committee.
We have concluded our business, and I am sorry to contradict the Chairman of the Finance Committee. There is no business before the Finance Committee to consider in respect of this. We have disposed off the very first time we met. What is left is for the Minister to come and withdraw the Bill with the leave of the House.
And it is important that, Madam Speaker, this time round, we do things according to the systems that we have in place and I am serving notice to the Majority Leader and Leader of the House, who also is Leader of Government Business in this House, does not represent Government in this House but represents all of us, that he should place the interest of this House above the interest of Government, that is why he is not a Minister.
Madam Speaker 1:40 p.m.
Thank you, Hon Member.
Madam Speaker 1:40 p.m.
Hon Chairman of
the Committee, you said you could not present your Report.
Mr. Avedzi 1:40 p.m.
Madam Speaker, I want

Madam Speaker, as the Hon Chairman of the Finance Committee -- [Uproar.] Madam Speaker, as the Hon Chairman of the Finance Committee, whenever a Bill or Paper is laid and referred to the Committee, if I have not reported back to the House, it means that that Bill or Paper is still with the Committee. And therefore, these two Papers are still with the Committee. [Interruptions.] So he cannot say that there is nothing before the Committee; there is something before the Committee. Until we report to the House, those documents are still with the Committee.
Madam Speaker 1:40 p.m.
Hon Member, what
is holding up --
Madam Speaker 1:40 p.m.
I am talking to the
Hon Chairman of the Committee. What is holding up the presentation of your Reports?
Mr. Avedzi 1:40 p.m.
Madam Speaker, the

Then the second one is the Custom

Excise (Duties and Taxes) (Amendment)
Madam Speaker 1:40 p.m.
Hon Member for
Sekondi, I think I heard you loud and clear. Let me listen to the Hon Majority Leader.
Mr. Bagbin 1:40 p.m.
Madam Speaker, we have

That I would make sure that the Hon Ministers themselves come to the House to lay the Reports. I, as the Leader of the House, would make sure that that is done. So we are most grateful for his submissions.

With regard to the matters before the

Finance Committee, we took some time in drawing the attention to the fact that they have not officially reported back to the House. And from the record, the matters were referred to them and there was no report from the Committee.

We are aware that these statements were made about them being adminis- trative and also they are trying to get the Hon Minister to come and withdraw the Bill.

But that, definitely, is not sufficient. Once the matter is before them, they have to report to the House, the proper procedure would be followed and if the Hon Minister is to come and withdraw it, he will come officially to withdraw

those Bills from the House. And that is the procedure we want to take the House through. So the proper thing is being followed. But with regard to the attendance of Hon Ministers, we will make sure that they come here to lay the reports.

Sometimes, as a former Hon Minister,

the Hon Member for Sekondi is aware that the nature of the work is such that it is difficult for them to be available all the time and that is why the House has, a number of times indulged the Executive by allowing their Hon Deputy Ministers to come and lay reports on their behalf in the House.

This morning, we experienced one and I am most grateful for that. I think we have to continue in this spirit but we will try as much as possible to make sure that the change is real and the change is better.
Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 1:40 p.m.
Speaker, just in support of what the Hon Majority Leader has said, I think the critical matter relates to item number 5(c) - the laying of the Annual Report and Accounts of the Ghana Road Fund for the year 2006. That one was laid by the Hon Minister responsible for Local Government and Rural Development.
And I thought, Madam Speaker, that one was of critical importance because the Hon Majority Leader got up and said he did not know where the Hon Minister was. And yet he went further to entreat the Hon Minister for Local Government and Rural Development to rise up and lay the Paper on behalf of the Hon Minister for Roads and Highways. It could not be foundationed on any good reason.
Madam Speaker, that is where the seriousness is. Because if the Hon Minister, for instance, is coming to withdraw the Paper and he said he had no contact with the Hon Minister, and the Paper is laid - Madam Speaker, the Hon Majority Leader
is saying that if that is his intention, he could still come and withdraw. That is so. But it will be a prodigal waste of the time of this House. [Laughter.] It would be a prodigal waste of the time of this House if we are to engage in that business.
Madam Speaker, I think that any time

Madam Speaker, I believe the other

one relates to the presentation of reports. The Hon Chairman of the Committee on Finance, we now understand that the Hon Minister is to withdraw the first one - and he has not done so - and that is why maybe we have those formulations and the Hon Chairman gets up to say that the report is not ready, knowing very well that the Hon Minister is scheduled to withdraw the Bill. If he tells us that the report is not ready -- because that is what he got up to say -- with the information that the Hon Minister is going to withdraw the Bill, so what report is not ready? What report is not ready?
Mr. Bagbin 1:40 p.m.
Madam Speaker, I thank
my Hon Colleague. I was on that seat for eight years, so you will find a way of talking -- [Laughter..] So, he is doing that. I commend him for that.
Madam Speaker 1:40 p.m.
But remember
he has served notice. I really did not understand the notice. Is it the notice that an Hon Minister by all means must come or that a representative must come? If I get it clear, then I will be able to rule when it is raised.
Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 1:40 p.m.
Speaker, if the Hon Minister must come - If the Hon Minister is unable to come and another Hon Minister has to do it on his behalf, we should have good reasons for his absence. That is what I am saying. But if the Hon Leader tells us that he has not had any contact and he did not know why he was not here and yet somebody should go ahead and lay the document, that indeed, can not be acceptable.
Madam Speaker 1:40 p.m.
Hon Majority
Leader, we have got to the point where we have to adjourn. Time is not--
Mr. A. S. K. Bagbin 1:40 p.m.
Madam Speaker,
I would do so but it is important for me to say that I cannot cook reasons. I cannot fabricate reasons and therefore, I am being truthful. I should be commended for being truthful. I could have concocted a story, but I do not think that is proper. So we have listened to them and will do what is right.
At this time, I think it is proper that we adjourn to enable committees sit.
I beg to move, that this House adjourns till tomorrow at ten o'clock in the forenoon where we shall reconvene to continue with business.
Thank you, very much.
Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 1:40 p.m.
Madam Speaker, in rising to second the motion ably moved by the Hon Majority Leader, I want to state that, whenever I get up to make an intervention, it is for good reason. If the Hon Majority Leader, when he was the Hon Minority Leader found space to talk anyhow, I will not go on that trajectory.
Madam Speaker, I second the motion.
Question put and motion agreed to.