Debates of 29 Jun 2009

PRAYERS 10:40 a.m.


Madam Speaker 10:40 a.m.
Hon Members, we commence with the correction of Votes and Proceedings dated Friday, 26th June, 2009. Page 1 …9.

In the absence of any corrections, the Votes and Proceedings of Friday, 26th June, 2009 be adopted as the true record of proceedings

We move to item 3.
Madam Speaker 10:50 a.m.
Hon Members, we
move to item 3 -- Statements.
I have admitted a Statement by Hon Nana Yaw Ofori -Kuragu.
Mr. Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 10:50 a.m.
Madam Speaker, because we did not have communication from your office early regarding the admission of the Statement, I had told him that I was thinking that it could come on tomorrow, and not today; This is because I have not had official information. So when you told me this morning, I communicated to him.
Madam Speaker 10:50 a.m.
of Public Business -- Laying of Papers.
Mr. E.T. Mensah 10:50 a.m.
Madam Speaker,
the Hon Majority Leader is engaged somewhere and so he has asked me to seek your leave and lay the Papers (a), (b), (c) and (d) on his behalf.
Madam Speaker 10:50 a.m.
Hon Member, I did
not hear you properly. What did you say?
Mr. Mensah 10:50 a.m.
Madam Speaker, what I said was that I am seeking your leave to lay Papers on item 4, a, b, c, d, on behalf of the Majority Leader's.
Madam Speaker 10:50 a.m.
Are we not going to lay them individual?
Mr. E. T. Mensah 10:50 a.m.
Madam Speaker,
we will, but I want to seek your leave first.
Madam Speaker 10:50 a.m.
So let us go on.
Item 4 (a).
PAPERS 10:50 a.m.

Madam Speaker 10:50 a.m.
Item (e),
Mr. E.T.Mensah 10:50 a.m.
Madam Speaker, the
Paper is supposed to be laid by the Minister but we not got any communication from him. Madam Speaker, even the caption should read:
“Annual Report of the Office of the Administrator . . .”
not “Administration.” So I want the Hansard Office to take note and have it corrected.
Madam Speaker, so we are deferring this with your leave.
  • [Item (e), deferred with the leave of the House]
  • Dr. A. A. Osei 10:50 a.m.
    Madam Speaker, I am
    just curious. We have just laid the Reports for Foreign Exchange Receipts of the Bank of Ghana for 2005 and 2007. I am just curious, what happened to 2006? It appears prominently missing, or is there a typographical error here?
    Mr. E.T. Mensah 10:50 a.m.
    Madam Speaker,
    that will be sorted out later. We have laid what is available. So we have decided that we will follow up and find out what has become of that.
    Madam Speaker 10:50 a.m.
    Motion No. 5 --
    Mr. E. T. Mensah 10:50 a.m.
    Madam Speaker,
    this will also be deferred. We have noticed that there are other things that we have to look at. So we have conferred with the Chairman of the Committee, and have agreed that we will defer it and rectify the defects and lay it later.
    Madam Speaker 10:50 a.m.
    We move on to item
    6 -- Resolution.
    Mr. E.T. Mensah 10:50 a.m.
    Madam Speaker,
    Madam Speaker 10:50 a.m.
    Yes, Hon Minority
    Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 10:50 a.m.
    Speaker, when the House convened, we
    Mr. E.T. Mensah 11 a.m.
    Madam Speaker, I remember last Friday, the Majority Leader I was in his office -- he tried frantically to get the Minister for the Interior in connection with the listing of the Questions for today but he was not in town. So I will take note of what you have just said and find out whether we can; still carry it on the wings of the other Ministers where a Minister is coming to answer four Questions, we can add one in that order. I believe by Friday, we would have done justice to all the Questions which have been asked of the Minister for the Interior.
    Thank you, Madam Speaker.
    Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 11 a.m.
    Madam Speaker, I have no doubt about the method resorted to by the Majority Leader. But even that this House ought to have been informed why the Minister is not here, why the Questions which were programmed on Friday for today have not been listed today. We ought to have been informed and the Hon Members who were standing by to ask the Questions of the Minister be appropriately informed how come the Minister is not here and so they will know if they cannot come tomorrow or maybe, he will indicate to us that the Minister is not in town.
    When does he think he will be in town so that maybe, the Members who are asking the Questions would take note and be here in the House?
    Mr. E.T. Mensah 11 a.m.
    Madam Speaker, we are sorry that we did not convey the information to the Hon Members as requested. When we tried to get the Minister on Friday, we were told he was part of the delegation of the Vice President to see the Asantehene in connection with the Dagbon problems. But he is in town today and he will be in town till the end of the week, and the Questions will be appropriately programmed. But we are sorry about the fact that we should have informed the Hon Members who asked the Questions.
    Mr. E. K. D. Adjaho 11 a.m.
    Madam Speaker, one point is not coming clear on the floor of the House, as to whether the Hon Minister for the Interior had been duly informed that he had been programmed to answer Questions today. That is not very clear. We are even being told that they were trying to get in touch with him on Friday but they could not get him. We should also be very fair to the Minister as to whether he had been informed that he had been programmed to answer Questions today.
    Mr. E.T. Mensah 11 a.m.
    Madam Speaker, that was exactly what I said. We could not get him and we found out that he was in Kumasi as part of the entourage of the Vice President. We tried to find out if we could get the Deputy Minister to stand in his stead but it did not work out. It is not as if the Minister was informed and he refused to come. He was not. Even this morning, he called and asked me whether we were Sitting today and I said “yes”. He said he did not know about those Questions and so to be fair to him, he did not get the information.
    But the fact remains that the Question has been filed and I am sure they will work on the Answers.
    Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 11 a.m.
    Madam Speaker, as I said, I do not want to further litigate this matter but if we are to follow
    the answer from the Majority Chief Whip down the lane, there may be trouble for the Minister, since he informs that the Minister is in town. If he is in town, business in Parliament takes precedence over all other business, if it is not an emergency that he is attending to
    But as I said, I do not want to further litigate the matter. Let he come except that we should know in advance when he will be appearing so that the Hon Members who filed the Questions will be here to ask them. I believe he is a capable person. He could do justice to the Questions that we ask -- he is capable of acquitting himself creditably in the House. So let us be informed why he is not here. You have done so, when he is coming, we should know in advance, then business goes on.
    Mr. E.T. Mensah 11 a.m.
    Madam Speaker, I think I said that. If he had listened to me down the lane, he would have noticed that I said he did not know. So this morning, he called me while I was here that -- [Interruption] -- please, and he called to find out whether indeed, we were Sitting today and I said, yes, we are Sitting but there is nothing for him -- [Interruption] -- he did not know, he did not know. So I told him that we are Sitting and he said he was coming to join us.
    Madam Speaker 11 a.m.
    Hon Member, except that the Business Committee did not list his Questions either. So even if he is in town today, there are no Questions on the Order Paper for him.
    Mr. E. T. Mensah 11 a.m.
    Madam Speaker, we will consult him and we will programme for him to be available throughout to answer the Questions on the wings of the Questions which have been programmed.
    Madam Speaker 11 a.m.
    Yes, Hon Member, what is your indication of an adjournment? Committee meetings, yes.
    Mr. E.T. Mensah 11 a.m.
    Madam Speaker, - [Interruption.]
    Madam Speaker 11 a.m.
    I deferred a
    Statement if he is here, I can ask him to deliver his Statement.
    Mr. E.T. Mensah 11 a.m.
    Madam Speaker, very well.
    Madam Speaker 11 a.m.
    STATEMENT 11 a.m.

    Nana Yaw Ofori-Kuragu (NPP Bosome-Freho) 11:10 a.m.
    Thank you Madam Speaker for giving me the opportunity to make a Statement of the Panafest 2009 and some challenges facing the tourism industry in Ghana. The Festival starts on Thursday, 16th July 2009 and ends on Saturday, 1st August 2009.
    This great festival has a history dating back to 1992; it is a festival of African dance and other performing arts, a cultural event dedicated to the enhancement of the ideals of Pan-Africanism and the development of the African Continent. Panafest is organized by The Panafest Foundation in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism (MOT) biennially for Africans and peoples of African decent, as well as persons committed to the well being of Africans on the continent and in the diaspora.
    Activities for this year include a wreath laying ceremony to honour illustrious sons of Pan-Africanism, Dr. William Edward Burghardt Bu bios, George Padmore and Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah. There
    will also be the re-enactment of the crossing of the River Pra at Assin Praso, where captured slaves reached the point of no return. There will also be numerous colourful durbars at Peki, Keta, Gwollu, Tumu, Nkroful, Paga, Salaga, Bono Manso, Akamu, Kumasi, Osu and Beyin. However, the official opening of according to the MOT, will be at Cape Coast on the 25th July, with a grand durbar of chiefs followed by the opening of the Panafest Village expo/bazaar on the 26th July. The high point of the celebrations will be the durbar of chiefs at Assin Manso on Emancipation Day on the 1st August 2009.
    Panafest helps re-unite the African and African American, and it is no wonder that President Obama has decided to lead the way, by making Ghana his first destination in Africa. This historic visit will no doubt stimulate the tourism industry and Cape Coat in particular, the traditional home of Panafest. Also, President Obama's visit will re-affirm Ghana's position as the gateway to the Homeland, our commitment and to the total liberation of our continent and our new role as the masters of democracy in Africa.
    Panafest is an essentially a tool for selling Ghana abroad, especially to the USA, which is Ghana's number one international market segment. And in this regard, the Ghana Tourist Board (GTB) is responsible for marketing Ghana internationally.
    In a recent letter to the Parliamentary Select Committee on Trade, Industry and Tourism, the GTB outlined the challenges hindering the smooth operations of the Board. They include:
    Lack of Board of Directors
    Inadequate funding for activities and marketing programmes.
    Currently, there is no advertising campaign at all about Ghana in the USA. The tourism budget in the 2009 was also cut, as compared to 2008, making things worse than last year.
    Inadequate infrastructure especially receptive facilities, websites and training facilities.
    Inadequate human resource base and high turnover of staff.
    Lack of District Tourism Offices and Overseas Tourism Offices.
    Old vehicles and inadequate office equipment.
    And much more.
    In order to promote Panafest better and improve the operational efficiency of the Ministry of Tourism and the Ghana Tourist Board, I will urge the Government to take action on the following recommendations:
    1. Make adequate provision for the Tourism Ministry in this year's supp lemen ta ry budge t and take steps to create a Tourism Development Fund.
    2. The Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning should also budget for the UNWTO Inter- national Celebration of World Tourism Day, which is supposed to take place in Accra shortly (7th September 2000).
    3. Take positive steps to establish a tourism training university to improve service delivery in the industry. (Eredec Hotel Koforidua was originally earmarked by the previous NDC Administration for
    that project).
    4. Establish a national tourism development policy.
    5. Assist Ghana International Airlines to operate efficiently.
    6. And lastly, I will appeal to the Ghana Immigration Service to furnish the GTB with tourist arrivals data, as was done in the past to enable the GTB to maintain accurate records for planning and marketing purposes.
    Madam Speaker, if we want to make tourism Ghana's number one foreign exchange earner, this is just a starting point to the efforts all tourism stakeholders including Members of Parliament need to make.
    Before I end this Statement, I would like to call on Vodafone, Zain and MTN and other traditional sponsors to support the various activities of Panafest to make it a success.
    Thank you, Madam Speaker once again.

    Minister for Roads and Highways

    (Mr. Joe K. Gidisu): Madam Speaker, I rise to associate myself with the Statement made by my Hon Colleague.

    Madam Speaker, tourism, which is at the base of the Panafest industry is recognised worldwide and for that matter, in the country, as a very potential source of foreign exchange in the country. So any attempt to promote it should be welcome by all.

    Madam Speaker, Panafest, as we all know, has its history dating back to the Provisional National Defence Council/
    Mr. Federick Opare-Ansah 11:10 a.m.
    On a
    point of order. Madam Speaker, My Hon Colleague on the floor is letting us believe that he is here as a tourist. [Laughter.] He should clarify his statement.
    Thank you.
    Mr. Darko-Mensah 11:20 a.m.
    Madam Speaker, I was only trying to let the House understand that tourism is an enabler in life and therefore, for me, I have lived and benefited out of tourism. That was I wanted to say.
    Madam Speaker, moving forward, I strongly believe that the Statement made it clear that one area we need to look at is the Tourism Development Fund. I strongly believe that it is one area we have to critically looked at, a fund that will benefit the tourism sector and ensure that tourism plants, tourism facilities across this country are developed and developed properly for the benefit of the economy.
    Madam Speaker, tourism is about
    people, it is clearly about people. If you look at the employment generation that tourism gives to this country, it is very
    huge. Recently, I tried to look at the figures for tourism and I even looked at the mining sector and I realised that tourism was providing higher numbers for the Ghanaian economy than even the mining sector.
    Also, I strongly believe that tourism being about people, we Ghanaians will have to start enjoying tourism first and I strongly recommend that the country look at ways to encourage people in the area of domestic tourism.

    There were tourism clubs that were formed in a lot of the schools. Madam Speaker, unfortunately, these days, we do not see them being active, and I strongly believe that the budget for the Ministry of Tourism would be used to invigorate them.

    Last but not the least is the service that we deliver in this country and I strongly believe that the maker of the Statement spoke at length about the way we deliver service in this country and the training we need to give to our people.

    Madam Speaker, unfortunately, this industry does not require a lot of people to qualified before they enter. Unfortunately, when people enter this area, the tourism material to train them along the line tends to be very ineffective, sometimes once a year for a whole region, which is inadequate.

    Therefore, you would realize that the services that we deliver at these plants are woefully inadequate.

    Madam Speaker, I strongly believe that tourism without security cannot be enjoyable. Madam Speaker, currently as we speak in this country, the issue about armed robberies, highway hijacking,

    thievery and the rest are on the ascendancy and I strongly believe that we have to wake up as a country to ensure that when people are coming here, they are not afraid, but they know that they are coming to a country where there is peace and where they can enjoy themselves.
    Madam Speaker 11:20 a.m.
    Thank you, Hon Member.
    Minister for Local Government and Rural Development (Mr. J. Y. Chireh) 11:20 a.m.
    Thank you very much Madam Speaker, for the opportunity to make some comments and to also thank the maker of the Statement for drawing our attention to the importance of Panafest, and also raising issues about what we should do to enhance it.
    I think that it is important for all of us that we recognize why Panafest -- it is re-uniting the African family, for those particularly in the diaspora to know their roots and for us to benefit from their investments and the knowledge they have acquired, their experiences out there. This way when we re-unite, there would be synergy in our development effort. It should not be only the occasion for people to be drumming and dancing but one where business is supposed to be the focal point. And in this respect, I was not really surprised when I read in the papers recently that Rita Marley, the renowned Jamaican musician's wife was inaugura-ting a building here in Ghana in honour of her late husband. Indeed, these invest-ments that have come through her and other people are important. But it means that for us as Ghanaians who have championed the cause of African unity, the African personality idea by our former great leader, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, all these things would be when we position ourselves to go into these negotiations.
    Indeed, what do we do about tourism? Is it to set up a university or to improve our

    services, or to clean up our environment to attract tourists? What do we do? All of these things need to be done. Fortunately for us, many of the universities have set up departments of tourism and I know that in the case of the Cape Coast University, and that of my own alma matar, the Kwame Nkrumah Univer-sity of Science and Technology, they have set up Faculties to train people in tourism.

    In this respect, we must look at the opportunities that the graduates from these universities are coming to get. Do they have job opportunities? Are they going to be on their own and multiply the benefits of tourism? These are the things that should engage us.

    I a lso think that in terms of government's own input and involvement, again, it is to make sure that the environ- ment is cordial for private sector activity. If you are calling on government to invest much more than it is doing now, it is a good call, but it should be in the area of building infrastructure, ensuring that people can move easily from one point to the other. For instance, I also have in my constituency the hippopotamus sanctua- ry and many people want to go there, yet the road to the place is not good. And so these are the areas we should be looking at and improving.

    We are talking about slave trade. The origins, of course, from the narration, goes to the hinterlands, which means that all of us were touched and not the coastal end where the castles are. These are the things that will let us all be part of the call for re-uniting the family and to re-unite this family, it must start from uniting Ghanaians.

    And I am very happy that after several years of refusing to set up a board, the Hon
    Minister for Local Government and Rural Development (Mr. J. Y. Chireh) 11:20 a.m.
    Madam Speaker, this issue of linking

    I will again urge that as far as this market issue of Ghana is concerned we should ask, what do we do again? We must also be in the productive area. People must live up to the expectations of those people who want to even get things from us.

    As soon as the President comes, a lot of people would come making orders and I would urge that all our business associates, those who have association with foreigners, should live up to their expectation and let us make Ghana a great country. We have the opportunity now and again, we as the National Democratic Congress, with what we said in our manifesto, we will make sure that tourism is given the push that it requires to bring benefits to Ghana.
    Madam Speaker 11:20 a.m.
    Thank you, Hon Member I will have one last contributor [Some Hon Members - Oh!]
    Ms. C. A. Dapaah (NPP -- Bantama) 11:20 a.m.
    Thank you Madam Speaker for giving me the opportunity to associate myself with the Statement on Panafest 2009 and some challenges facing Ghana's tourism industry, which has been ably made by my Hon Colleague.
    Ms. C. A. Dapaah (NPP -- Bantama) 11:30 a.m.
    Madam Speaker, I want to touch on the hospitality industry, for we all know that Panafest is one project on the map of Ghana's tourism industry and I want to touch on the various pointers that can give Ghana a good tourism industry We all know that countries like South Africa, Egypt, Kenya have really reaped huge benefits of income and revenue from the tourism industry because of the way they have managed to package their tourism projects.

    Madam Speaker, we should look, first

    of all, at our sanitation, which I believe we were promised that we would clear - We are on the verge of maybe, facing one of the huge, if we do not take care, explosion of cholera because of the floods that we are facing right now.

    Madam Speaker, we should also look

    at the rates of our hotel rooms. I believe if we look at the global rates that we have, Ghana's rates seem to be quite high and I think our hoteliers need to look at this.

    We should also look at the flights of

    airlines that come to Ghana. They are quite expensive. If people can have cheaper packages, I believe that will help our industry as well.

    With our food, we have no problem.

    But I believe their packaging should also be looked at.

    I think other Hon Colleagues have

    spoken about security, I also want to add transportation.

    Madam Speaker, we have a good

    number of natural sceneries that will encourage eco-tourism. Ghanaians are naturally quite hospitable and we can

    easily say that Ghana can provide the sunshine hospitality to attract various tourists to Ghana.

    We also have our castles our forts and I believe that the image of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, our illustrious ex-President also attracts a lot of people to this dear country of ours.

    Madam Speaker, one thing that really irks me as a Ghanaian is the way that at times we have people taking advantage of our hospitality and undertaking projects that really brings the tourism industry into disrepute. I want to refer to this Chinese group who brought in women to undertake sex trade in Ghana. I believe that was bad and we need to condemn it. We also know that tourism can breed the influx of peadophiles. So we need to also look at this. I dare say that tourism also can increase promiscuity. We also need to look at this.

    Madam Speaker, I bel ieve the importation of foreign cultures also needs to be looked at so that with a lot of monitoring and good packaging, we can control some of these negative aspects of tourism.

    I believe the Tourism Ministry is up to the task and Ghanaians are also up to the task of receiving President Obama in July.

    Madam Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity given me.
    Madam Speaker 11:30 a.m.
    Thank you, Hon Member.
    Hon Members, Statement time is over and we are now asking the Hon Majority Chief Whip, his indications as to adjournment.
    Mr. E. T. Mensah 11:30 a.m.
    Madam Speaker, item 7 -- Committee Sittings -- Madam
    Speaker, I therefore move that this House do adjourn to Tuesday, 30th June at 10 o'clock.
    Madam Speaker, I beg to move.
    Mr. Ambrose P. Dery 11:30 a.m.
    Madam Speaker, I rise to second the motion.
    Question put and motion agreed to.
    ADJOURNMENT 11:30 a.m.

  • The House was accordingly adjourned at 11.30 a.m. till 30th June, 2009 at 10.00 a.m.