Debates of 8 Jul 2009

PRAYERS 11:35 a.m.


Madam Speaker 11:35 a.m.
Correction of Votes and Proceedings for Tuesday, 7th July 2009. Pages 1, 2, 3 --
Dr. Joseph S. Annan 11:35 a.m.
Madam Speaker,
on page 2, number 51 - “Annan, Joseph” - I was absent yesterday with permission and I am marked as present.
Madam Speaker 11:35 a.m.
Thank you. Pages
Prof. (Emeritus) Samuel Kwadwo
Amoako: Thank you, Madam Speaker. A little typographical error on page 18, number 1, line 2 - “2.30 p.m. and discussed the cappointment”. I think there is a ‘c' in front of the word “appointment” which is not needed.
Mr. Joseph B. Aidoo 11:35 a.m.
Madam Speaker,
‘Attendance', page 18, paragraph 2 - “The following Hon Members were present:” Madam Speaker, the arrangement of the names - whereas i, ii, iii, and then vi start with the first name, when you take iv, v and then vii, the first names appear at the last.
Madam Speaker, in this House, we uphold orderliness and consistency in the way we do our things. But in this particular instance, there is oddity over the whole arrangement and this ought to be corrected.
Madam Speaker 11:35 a.m.
Pages 19, 20.

The Votes and Proceedings of Tuesday,

7th July, 2009 as corrected be adopted as the true record of proceedings.
Madam Speaker 11:45 a.m.
Hon Members, we
move to item 3. Hon Majority Leader, we are moving to item 3. Have you got anything? We urge upon you.
Mr. A. S. K. Bagbin 11:45 a.m.
Madam Speaker,
I will want to rather urge you to exercise your discretion by varying the order of business as stated on the Order Paper by allowing the Hon Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration to make a Statement on the visit of the President of the United States of America, His Excellency President Barack Hussein Obama before we go to item 3. So I would want us to take item 4 first, that is, Statements, before we go to item 3.
Madam Speaker 11:45 a.m.
I would now call
upon the Hon Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration to deliver his Statement.
STATEMENTS 11:45 a.m.

Madam Speaker 11:55 a.m.
Thank you, Hon
Hon Members, we are going to have four contributions from each side of the House. We start with Hon Owusu-Ansah.
Mr. Emmanuel A. Owusu-Ansah (NPP - Kwabre West) 11:55 a.m.
Thank you, Madam Speaker, for the opportunity to contribute to the Statement made by the Hon Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration. And in doing so, I join all Ghanaians to wish His Excellency President Barack Obama and his family a very memorable visit and stay in Ghana.
Madam Speaker, as stated by the Hon Minister, this is not the first time that a President of United States of America is visiting Ghana. What makes the visit of
Madam Speaker 12:05 p.m.
Hon Member, make
your comment on the Statement that was read.
Mr. Owusu-Ansah 12:05 p.m.
Thank you, Madam Speaker. Madam Speaker, the point I was making is that both sides made allegations of rigging in the last general
Mr. Owusu-Ansah 12:05 p.m.
Madam Speaker, in established democracies like United States of America, Britain, Canada, Germany, even in India, New Zealand, Australia, name them, after elections, there is no acrimony, there is no violence, there is no strife. The reason, to me, is that in these established democracies, the elections are truly free and fair.
Madam Speaker, what has contributed
to this? In my view, the manual system of registration, election and declaration of results has outlived its influence; it is about time now that Ghana went electronic in our registration, in our elections and in our declaration of results.
Madam Speaker, again, as the Hon Minister stated, United States of America has been of assistance to Ghana since independence. It is my belief that the United States of America would be able to assist us to go electronic in our registration, in our elections and in our declaration of results. That is the surest way of avoiding acrimony, strife and violence after elections in this country.
Madam Speaker, just yesterday, the
British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) announced that Nigeria had decided to go electronic in its elections the next time. It is not very difficult for us to do so. Apparently, we do not have the resources now, so if President Obama is coming to Ghana, a democrat that he is, my appeal to him is that he should help us to go electronic.
It is common knowledge that in the world, whenever there is strife and violence after elections, the whole world with the speed of lightning would go to give aid to places where there is violence. We do not have to await such aid, we need the aid now to be able to deepen our
democracy so that after every election the vanquished and the defeated would all accept the results as truly free and fair.
This is not difficult for President
Obama to do and this is not difficult for America to do. Our voting population is about a meagre 12 million people, and if you look at the voting population of the United States of America, India, Britain, Germany, it is quite big yet they are able to organise themselves in a way that they avoid violence. With just a meagre 12 million or 15 million registered voters, I believe that the cost of it would not be so hurting to United States to be able to help us.
Madam Speaker, this is my appeal to President Obama if indeed, he is attracted by our democratic credentials and he wants to assist us in maintaining the standards we have set so far.
Madam Speaker, I thank you for the

Minister for Communications (Mr.

Haruna Iddrisu): Thank you, Madam Speaker, for the opportunity to associate myself with the Statement ably made by Ghana's Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, on the impending visit of the 44th President of the United States of America to Ghana.

Madam Speaker, ordinarily, I would

Madam Speaker, I understand that a response is not necessary, I will focus on my own - Madam Speaker, a response, I concede is not necessary. But Madam Speaker, it is important that we understand

the motivation and the choice of Ghana as his destination reflects in the fact that we have a peaceful, stable, democratic country, and as we further commit ourselves to deepening our democratic values, we appreciate that throughout the world, there is no hitch-free election anywhere in the world and particularly, even reference can be made to the United States of America.

Albeit, Madam Speaker, we owe an

explanation to the people of Ghana through their elected representatives that ideally, it was the wish of Government and the President that the Ghanaian public would have opportunity to interact with President Obama, possibly at the Independent Square, but owing to uncertainties of the weather and particularly following 9/11 of 2001, the Americans have repositioned themselves not to take any risk in respect of matters relating to the security of the President of the United States of America.

Particularly, Madam Speaker, the Ghanaian public would have opportunity - I am sure school children and others alike, there would be live broadcast on both television and radio as to the major events that would characterise his visit to Ghana.

Madam Speaker, what is remarkable

is his address to this august House that Government is committed to showcase that we have an enviable democratic practice.

In my honest view, the challenge is not in the symbolic presence of the President of the United States of America in Ghana, but in what mutual benefit we can derive as a country as a result of his presence and visit to Ghana. But they have already indicated their recognition of deeper democratic values in Ghana. And I think that as a people and as a country, we can congratulate ourselves, we can take pride
Mr. Owusu-Ansah 12:15 p.m.
in ourselves and re-commit ourselves religiously and jealously to protect our democratic tenets and to take it to better heights, if it means going electronic or biometrics by way of voting, that would be useful for purpose of deepening those values in future.
Madam Speaker, his visit -- there is evidence that in 1994, Ghana benefited about US$16 million in development assistance to Ghna in the year 2007, through USAID initiated projects under the African Development Foundation, we got US$55.1 million and the Americans have remained very supportive, particularly in areas of us deepening our democratic values - I mean their support to the Electoral Commission of Ghana and other democratic institutions is known. They also have given tremendous support in our fight against HIV/AIDS, maternal and child health, areas of education and as I indicated earlier, in the area of democratic governance.

Madam Speaker, it is significant to note that Ghana was one of the first countries to which the United States sent volunteers, referred to as the Peace Corps in the world and I think that their services in many parts of deprived and rural Ghana is a commendable issue.

Madam Speaker, the significance of his visit, apart from the fact that he will have occasion to interact with our traditional rulers in Cape Coast, is for us again to showcase to him our own traditional values and practices and one is not in doubt at all that he would have a feel of Ghanaian culture when he gets to the Oguaa Palace on Saturday before his return.
Mr. H. Iddrisu 12:15 p.m.
It will be significant
Madam Speaker 12:15 p.m.
What Order?
Mr. I. K. Asiamah 12:15 p.m.
Madam Speaker,
yes, on a point of order - [Some Hon Members - What Order?] - Madam Speaker -
Madam Speaker 12:15 p.m.
Order! Order!
Mr. I. K. Asiamah 12:15 p.m.
Madam Speaker,
the Hon Member of Parliament is mis- leading the House. Madam Speaker, the Minister himself has told the whole nation that the Address to this august House is at the instance of the President of the United States and not their government -- [Interruption] -- Yes, but he was trying to claim credit that their government, in the enviable democratic record - [An Hon Member -- No, No, No] - That is the impression he created, and that it was the United States President who insisted that he should address Parliament. It was not part of their initial programme. He, indeed, insisted that he should address Parliament, that is the point of order.
Madam Speaker 12:15 p.m.
Hon Member, your point of order is what? Yes, Hon Minister, kindly continue.
Mr. H. Iddrisu 12:15 p.m.
Madam Speaker,
thank you for the opportunity. I am sure -
Madam Speaker 12:15 p.m.
And time is running,
Mr. H. Iddrisu 12:15 p.m.
The best response
would be to -- [Pause.] Madam Speaker, on Saturday I confirm that President Obama would have breakfast, not only with H. E. President Mills, but all surviving former Presidents -- [Interruptions.] -- I can confirm --
rose rose rose
Mr. H. Iddrisu 12:15 p.m.
Madam Speaker, I can confirm that on Saturday, President Barrack Obama would have a breakfast session with key officials of Government and former Heads of State, including former President J. A. Kuffuor, former President Jerry John Rawlings and their spouses, in order that Madam Speaker, we can share the concerns and the needs of our country. His Excellency the President recognizes that their input would be useful and their guidance in what we seek from this visit may be important.
Therefore, an invitation has been extended to them after which he will then proceed to address the august House.
Madam Speaker 12:15 p.m.
Yes, Hon Minister,
wind up.
Mr. H. Iddrisu 12:15 p.m.
Madam Speaker,
in conclusion, many Ghanaians have benefitted by way of educational training in the United States of America. Many of our citizens have educated there and many of us, including some Members of Parliament, have benefitted from the International Visitor Programme (IVP) of the United States of America which has proven to be very useful in terms of building up for their skills and other related matters.
Madam Speaker, finally, once again,
we can congratulate ourselves as a country for having a peaceful, stable, democratic country. Let us use his visit to rededicate ourselves to make a religious commitment not to compromise on our move forward towards democracy.
I thank you for the opportunity.
Madam Speaker 12:15 p.m.
Thank you, Hon
Member. The next contributor is Hon Ayorkor Botchway.
Ms. Shirley Ayorkor Botchway
(NPP - Weija): I thank you Madam Speaker, for giving me the opportunity to contribute to the Statement by the Hon Foreign Minister.
Madam Speaker, in a few days, Ghana will be experiencing a very historic visit by the First Couple of the United States of America - President Obama and his family. We all know how we were all stuck to our televisions during the campaigning and the election of this man who hails from Africa and we are happy that today he is the President of the most important democracy in the whole world.
Madam Speaker, a lot has been said about why Ghana was chosen and not any other African country. There are other African countries that President Obama could have considered, but I believe that we are what he himself in an interview has described as a shining example and the importance of lifting up success models in Africa to encourage more democracy
Madam Speaker 12:25 p.m.
He has also said that he is interested
in assisting in the prevention and resolution of conflicts, ensuring long-term development and growth, and to work with African countries to address the old and new challenges. Today, we know what the challenges are. We have challenges of conflict in some parts of the continent and also the new challenges being the effects of the credit crunch on our continent.

I believe that is one of the topics that is being discussed at the G-8 Summit in Italy this week and I believe his visit here will throw some light on what policy initiatives he is going to put on the table for us that will benefit our country and the continent as a whole.

Madam Speaker, in the past we have had visits from President Clinton and also from President Bush. These visits have resulted in benefits to our country. We can talk about the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). We can talk about the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) that gave us the $557 million. This year, Ghana will be benefitting from President Bush's President's Malaria Initiative of $17 million.

Also during President Bush's wife -- Mrs Laura Bush's visit, she presented to Africa the Bush Educational Initiative that sought to train a lot of teachers - over one million teachers and also a donation of 15 million textbooks to Africa to help in educating our children. So I think this visit by President Obama is going to be one of great interest because we are all wondering and have great expectations.

But let me say that our expectations should not be too high because of what is happening in America and all other parts of the world - the global recession.
Madam Speaker 12:25 p.m.
Thank you. The next Hon Member to contribute is Hon D. A. Azumah - [Interruptions] - Order what. What Order are you standing for?
Mr. D. A. Azumah (NDC - Garu/ Tempane) 12:25 p.m.
Thank you so much, Madam Speaker, for giving me the floor.
Madam Speaker 12:25 p.m.
Do you want to raise some query or something and what is the Order?
Mr. K. T. Hammond 12:25 p.m.
No, Madam Speaker. I rose that I would be recognised so I could make my contribution.
Madam Speaker 12:25 p.m.
Mr. K. T. Hammond 12:25 p.m.
I rose so that you could recognise me and then call me to make my contribution.
Madam Speaker 12:25 p.m.
I know you, I will always recognise you but you did not catch my eye. [Laughter.]
Mr. K. T. Hammond 12:25 p.m.
So, I sat down. [Laughter.]
Madam Speaker 12:25 p.m.
Yes, Hon D. A. Azumah.
Mr. Azumah 12:35 p.m.
Thank you, Madam Speaker.
Madam Speaker, I rise and would first of all express our thanks to the Hon Minister for coming to give us this brief. It was not at the instance of the House, but at the pleasure of the Ministry and I think that is a good job well done.
Madam Speaker, there is no doubt that the visit of His Excellency Barack Obama to this country, like the Hon Minister rightly put it, is to further deepen the warm relationship between Ghana and the USA. There are a lot of benefits to be derived and as the Hon Minister put it, the visit of President Clinton kind of pushed or supported the Electoral Commission with resources in the 2000 elections for which we had very peaceful elections. It is my hope that with the democratic credentials Ghana is being touted very high, and for which President Barack Obama is visiting this country, one cannot mention democratic credentials without mentioning Parliament. It is the symbol of democracy in any country.
I think that we should use this visit to urge the USA and for that matter, His
Excellency the President, to recognise Parliament and to support this House because we are faced with challenges. And so it is the economic ability to be able to deliver that are the difficulties or the challenges that this country is facing. And I hope that the United States of America Government will take on board the challenges faced by this august House and be able to support us to make progress.
Madam Speaker, there are similarities of thought and vision between His Excellency Barack Obama and President John Evans Atta Mills -- Similarities in the sense that, both Presidents engaged in the change agenda for 2008. The “change agenda”, the “we can do attitude”. [Interruption --] Yes, “we can” attitude by the US President.
In the “change agenda”, Madam Speaker, President Barack Obama assured the people of the USA that he would in the shortest possible time close down the Guantanamo Bay. He will in the shortest period withdraw troops from Iraq. He will in the shortest period restore good working relations with the Arab world.

Madam Speaker, the process has begun. In the case of President Atta Mills, the “agenda for change” was transparency and accountability, which is certainly going to happen. In the case of President Atta Mills, reduction of poverty in this country, the change agenda pursued, Madam Speaker, it is going to happen. The rule of law will apply and we can see it starting.
Mr. K. T. Hammond 12:35 p.m.
Madam Speaker, on a point of order. [Interruptions.] I plead with you -- Madam Speaker, we must ensure that there is some sanity in this debate. America is a friendly nation; the President of that nation intends to visit our country. Madam Speaker, we
Mr. A. S. K. Bagbin 12:35 p.m.
Madam Speaker, just a point of order in the form of information. Madam Speaker, it is important that we all imbibe the spirit of tolerance as one of the tenets of democracy. In fact, it is difficult to limit Hon Members from veering out from time to time, to make some comments that are partisan. We would prefer that they are not made.
But when my good sister singled out former President Kufuor for praise, there was no point of order that was raised. [Interruptions.] So immediately he singled out President Atta Mills and talked about change, then there is a point of order. I mean, let us move away from
Madam Speaker 12:35 p.m.
Hon Member,
please, wind up now.
Mr. Azumah 12:35 p.m.
Madam Speaker, I will be winding up. Unfortunately, the Hon Member for Adansi Asokwa (Mr. K. T. Hammond) was not part of the change team; that is why he has difficulty in accepting change.
Madam Speaker, a point I thought I should make is that this country has received a number of world leaders. Time passed, the British Prime Minister, Mr. Tony Blair was in this country, made a trip down the countryside to Kibi and Kumasi, if my memory serves me right. President Bush was in Accra and now President Obama is going to Cape Coast, hopefully.
Madam Speaker, it is my wish and I appeal to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration and to Government, for subsequent world leaders visiting this country, a very good attempt should be made for that leader to go up North to see where poverty really exists and what kind of support can be given to that part of the country.
Madam Speaker, I think all Ghanaians must be very glad that President Obama is coming to this country; we must show our cultural heritage. It should be absolutely non-partisan in receiving President Obama and that at the end of the visit, we should be able to count the profits from his visit, I hope which should be followed.
Thank you, Madam Speaker.
Madam Speaker 12:35 p.m.
Thank you, Hon. Member. Hon Isaac Osei?
Mr. Isaac Osei (NPP -- Subin) 12:35 p.m.
Madam Speaker, many Ghanaians are very happy that the first African-American
  • [MR. BAGBIN President of the United States of America is visiting our country. This is so because the relationship between the United States of America and Ghana is deep and long. History tells us that hundreds of thousands of able-bodied men and women were carted across the Atlantic into what is now the United States of America and even though they worked in servitude, they did make a positive contribution to building America and the America that we see today. In modern Ghana, Richard Nixon's visit in 1957 which the Hon Minister talked about, also emphasized the importance of the emergence of the first black African country to be independent and the interest that the United States had in us. Lord Listowell, who was Governor-General from the middle of 1957 to 1968 recalled a conversation between the Governor- General, Noble Aden Clarke and Richard Nixon. Richard Nixon said: “This Ghana experiment, would it work?” And Noble Aden Clarke answered: “It has to work.” We want to assure our august visitor that in spite of challenges and difficulties, our country Ghana is working. [Hear! Hear!] Indeed, President Kennedy chose Ghana as the first destination of the American Peace Corps Volunteers, when he established that group in the early 1960s and it was the United States of America which helped our country Ghana to establish the Volta River Project which today still produces the majority of, or is still the major source of power for our country. Many students from Ghana have had the opportunity to study in major United States (US) colleges and universities. I had the privilege of studying under United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Scholarship in the United States of America and today, even though the relationship has sometimes been rocky, on the balance, Ghana has benefitted tremendously from our association with the United States. Many Ghanaians still continue to live in the United States of America, working and making their contributions to the growth of that country. President Obama's life and his achievements exemplify -- I believe that we too can do it; that we can grow our country collectively and that we can aspire to the highest points in our own chosen careers. Madam Speaker, an allusion has been made to America as the bastion of democracy. But I must say that full democratic rights for all citizens in Ghana preceded the assertion of those rights in America. For, you would recall that in 1951, all Ghanaians above the prescribed age cast their ballot and in 1954 we again cast our ballots and in 1956 we did so, just before independence. It was only after the Civil Rights Bill had been passed in 1964 under President Johnson that all Americans could vote in the United States. Madam Speaker, we have had turbulent times in our governance; we have moved from dictatorship, from one-party state, to military hegemony, through parliamentary democracy and a full presidential system and we now have a hybrid system. But today, every Ghanaian believes that multi-party democracy is the way for our people. [Hear! Hear!] This is why I support what the Hon Member for Kwabre West, Mr. Owusu-Ansah said, when he talked about electronic voting as a way of deepening that democracy that we have with ourselves.
  • Minority Leader (Mr. Osei Kyei- Mensah-Bonsu) 12:55 p.m.
    Thank you, Madam Speaker, for the opportunity to add my voice to welcome President Obama to our dear country and to wish him a very fruitful and memorable visit.
    Madam Speaker, the Statement by the Hon Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration is most appropriate.
    Madam Speaker, in the world of developing countries, State visits are usually for a very few hours and yet the Presidents of the United States of America who have successively visited Ghana, Presidents Clinton and Bush have stayed for many hours.

    Indeed, President Bush is on record to

    have spent two days in Ghana. President Obama is also scheduled to spend two days in Ghana. This explains why we should be proud as a nation, for very few African countries have that opportunity.

    One may also add that over the past eight years, several world leaders have visited Ghana. It is worth noting that, the Queen of United Kingdom and the Head of the Commonwealth, Queen Elizabeth and the Prime Minister Tony Blair also visited. But what should we be expecting as a nation from such a high profile visit? At the governmental level, we all do know that we need empowerment in a very stable environment.

    We, as a nation expect some empower- ment particularly, financial in order for us to lift the broad masses of our people from the quagmire of poverty, deprivation, disease, illiteracy, squalor and all the

    negatives of life.

    The American society is a private sector led one and one may ask what the stake is for private entrepreneurs in his visit.

    One hopes that the requisite platform would be created to have the private sector engaged or interfaced with President Obama and his entourage. We would like to believe that the requisite doors and windows will be created to facilitate follow-ups which will boost and deepen bilateral co-operation between the two countries.

    Madam Speaker, Ghana and the United States of America established diplomatic relations in 1957 following Ghana's independence from British colonial rule. Since then, relations between the two countries have been cordial and friendly with the exception of brief periods in the 1970s and 1980s. It is pertinent to point out that when President Bush came, he touted the concept of transformational diplomacy, as the methods in his African policy.

    In specific and concrete terms, the four main priorities form the focus of his policy. These were: one - to support and promote democratic governance and political freedom across the continent.

    The second area was to expand growth and opportunity particularly through trade and private enterprise.

    Thirdly he emphasized to help fight diseases on the continent especially HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis and finally, President Bush said he was purposed to end all wars in Africa.

    Madam Speaker, we want to know from

    President Obama when he comes visiting the policy direction of his administration. As a nation, we as a collective, are standing by to accord him the proverbial
    Madam Speaker 12:55 p.m.
    Thank you, Hon
    Member. May I call on the Hon Majority Leader for his comments.
    Majority Leader (Mr. A. S. K.
    Bagbin): Thank you very much Madam Speaker, for the opportunity to make a few comments. I am sure my Hon Colleague knows very well that President Barack Obama and his family are coming home. They are coming home to their parents and they are coming home to Africa, to Ghana and this is not an election year.
    Madam Speaker 1:05 p.m.
    This visit truly is historic, it is memorable, it is unique. This is the first time we are having a President from the United States of America not just visiting the country with his wife, but also together with his children and that places serious emphasis on the family units and the importance of family units in leadership.
    It is true that the relations between Ghana and the United States of America are deepening, they are elongating, they are widening and this is for a good reason. His visit to Ghana is not just a recognition of how far and high we are flying in our democratic practice, but it is an appellation of what we have achieved as a united people.

    None of us can claim the benefits or credits for this achievement. It is not for any single person, party or president but it is the effort of a united group of unique people called Ghanaians. And people admire how we are able to defuse very, very heated occasions with our humour and the spirit of togetherness. Madam Speaker, His Excellency Barack Obama and his dear wife and children are welcome to Ghana

    I am sure he is among those who are wondering how Ghanaians did it in 2008. In many of our visits outside Ghana, we are inundated with this question. “How did you do it?” I am sure it is a unique opportunity for us to market the country, not just by words or deeds, but also to rope in the much needed foreign exchange.

    I have been wondering how come the Home Coming Summit was just a nine day wonder. I think it is part of that that is being practised with the visit of the President of the Globe. I just want to appeal to our Hon Colleagues, Hon Members of this House who are among the

    chosen few to be mindful that the time is very limited, but we have the opportunity to be close to him, to listen to him, and maybe, to have the opportunity of shaking hands with him.

    I want to urge that, we turn out traditionally, that, we turn out as Ghanaians, that, we turn out in our African character. Madam Speaker, I believe that His Excellency President Obama and his family would want to admire the beauty of Africa. President Barack Obama is signalling to the whole world that in spite of the challenges to peace, progress and prosperity, Ghana, in the midst of a very troubled environment, is a shining star, and that any country could do it.

    Madam Speaker, it is also an attempt to convince all the doubting Thomases that multi-party democracy is the only way forward for any society to be able to harness properly, the potentials, the capacity and the energies of all its people to improve upon the generality of their lives.

    I believe that, the gargantuan gains we have made so far, is worth rejoicing about. I want to assure the good people of Ghana, that, in spite of the aberrations of this Parliament, we have been seen and recognized as one of the best Parliaments in the world. [Hear! Hear!]-- I am saying this as somebody who has visited so many Houses of Representatives in the United States of America (USA), ranging from Vermont to Philadelphia; from Colorado to Chicago; from Washington to Texas, and from New York to Utah.

    I have been for eight good years, a member of the World Parliament. And I can testify to the fact that our Parliament is seen, recognized and applauded as one of the best in the world. [Hear! Hear!] - There is every good reason why His

    Excellency President Barack Obama has decided to come to say Ayeeko, Ayeeko to Ghanaians but not at the Independence Square but at the floor of this august House.

    We are compelled to Sit at the Accra International Conference Centre (AICC) because of the paucity of space. When President Clinton came here, it was difficult to get a sleeping place for him. Today, President Barack Obama will get a place to sleep. Madam Speaker, I hope in the near future another visiting President will come and meet a structure that is housing a Parliament, one that can receive that President in Parliament House. [Hear! Hear!] -- This is a challenge to our democracy, it is a challenge to Ghana, that, we need to develop the Parliament of Ghana. We need to build structures that will permit us to host our guest in our House, not in borrowed robes.
    Madam Speaker 1:05 p.m.
    Hon Members, the
    last Hon Member to contribute will be the Hon Second Deputy Speaker.
    Prof. A. M. Oquaye (NPP 1:05 p.m.

    Kwabenya): Madam Speaker, thank you very much for the opportunity to contribute briefly to Statement so ably made by our Hon Foreign Minister. Madam Speaker, this visit is good news. It is good for the people of Ghana as a whole.

    Madam Speaker, and it is important
    Prof. A. M. Oquaye (NPP 1:15 p.m.
    for us to remind ourselves of what we are on an occasion like this. Because, I believe it helps all of us to achieve greater heights as Ghanaians. And it is, particularly, encouraging to find a number of our younger people here. I trust, they will be inspired further before they leave this House as a result of what they have heard from Hon Members.

    Madam Speaker, when Winston Churchill talked about the wind of change in Africa, Ghana was first to see it and Ghana also helped other African countries to realize this wind of change. Madam Speaker, when by 1988 there was a new, and for that matter a second wind of change in terms of good governance, Ghana was at the forefront.

    Madam Speaker, we must remind ourselves of what we are so that Ghanaians will continue to be the eagles that Danquah and others spoke about in 1947. Madam Speaker, this is very, very important because Obama is not just coming; he is coming because Ghana must be the natural choice if he is coming to Black Africa and we must be proud of ourselves and also sustain and develop that which makes us special. Madam Speaker, on an occasion like this it is very important for us to remind ourselves of our achievements and to achieve more.

    Madam Speaker, when it comes to

    good governance we are there; peaceful people, those who really love freedom. Madam Speaker, as High Commissioner, I had to compete with so many bigger nations and there were times when people asked me what we, 22 million people can really do. But Madam Speaker, whenever investors came and they experienced the peace and stability of our nation, they were determined to come again.

    This should encourage us to eschew violence in our country and continue to be what we have been or what we are, and what we are expected by our progenitors to be. Madam Speaker, not only were we the first to become independent in Africa south of the Sahara, we have helped the East Africans including the Kenyans to become independent.

    We helped the South Africans, in fact we helped the rest of African through the ingenuity of our First President Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, who was determined that in effect our independence would be meaningless unless it was linked with the total liberation of our continent.

    Madam Speaker, our becoming first to be independent, which is very important and so should developed, did not come by chance. Ghanaians were the most educated people in Africa south of the Sahara at that time.

    We caught on education and we schooled ourselves. Madam Speaker, in a very important study carried out by Escort Reed around 1956 we had the highest per capita income in Africa south of the Sahara, apart from white South Africa, due to how our people work hard, honestly and diligently with regard to the cocoa industry and other aspects of our economy. That is the kind of people that President Obama is coming to visit and for good reason, as a logical sequence of the developments that were known in Africa.

    Madam Speaker, when other people's lands were being taken in Africa by colonialists, Ghanaians, that is the Gold Coasters, our progenitors did not take cutlasses and guns, they took a ship, they went to England, they formed the Aborigines' Rights Protection Society.

    Madam Speaker, they went and sat down with the white man, argued with him and won the case in the British House of Commons, stating that there is no waste land in Ghana, for that matter, the Gold Coast. Madam Speaker, these constitute the background, which have led us so far. Particularly, I congratulate our leaders at the time of 1988, just before we had the 1992 Elections. Madam Speaker, if the Military

    Government at that time had not conducted the elections of 1992, there could have been chaos in Ghana and President Obama may not have been coming. I therefore congratulate the leadership at that time despite what other failings there might have been, that they agreed that Ghana should return to a constitutional rule in 1992. That is an achievement to President Rawlings and all other persons connected with this development.

    Madam Speaker, when elections

    became flawed in Ghana, we decided to take it by the proper name of a “Stolen Verdict” and we made recommendations as to transferring ballot boxes and other arrangements. Madam Speaker, these are the things that have helped to deepen democracy and we congratulate all those other persons that brought about those transparent measures that systematically led to the deepening of democracy and the achievements that we had made thereafter.

    Madam Speaker, it is very important therefore that on an occasion like this, we should respectfully request President Obama to help deepen democracy further in Ghana because it is because of it that we had the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) under President Kufuor for example. The President went, the Americans congratulated him and they

    made an unprecedented US$ half a billion available to Ghana.

    Madam Speaker, we would want to say that on an occasion like this, we should have not only deepening of democracy by way of providing for electronic registration, electronic means of voting and so on, so that Ghana should become a real model for democracy in Africa. Madam Speaker, it is also important for the President to make available to us a marshal plan for Africa.

    Madam Speaker, economic develop- ment is a thing of the time. If President Obama will come to the aid of Africa the way America went to the aid of Britain after the World War, helping in a sustained refashioning of the economy that would have made a mark that will never be forgotten in Africa -- health, education, women in development, agro-based industries; development oriented policies and particularly helping to make Ghana the agro-processing centre for the whole of Africa.

    Madam Speaker, that will be a real mark not only for Ghana but the whole of Africa and I will say it has to start from somewhere, he has started connecting from Ghana and I would like that we do not only have a real deepening of democracy by way of democratic means of holding our elections even better but also a whole marshal plan for our economy revolution.

    Madam Speaker, I thank you for the

    Madam Speaker 1:15 p.m.
    Thank you
    Honourable. That is the end of Statements Time.
    Hon Majority Leader, do we move on
    to Questions now?
    Mr. Bagbin 1:15 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, I totally
    agree with you. We should now take item
    3, Questions.

    MINISTRY OF LOCAL 1:15 p.m.


    DEVELOPMENT 1:15 p.m.

    Minister for Local Government and rural Development (Mr. Joseph Yieleh Chireh) 1:25 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, the project in question is a three storey flat for Nurses and not a two storey nurses' quarters. The Project was awarded by the then Ga District Assembly Tender Board to Messrs DE AFCO Ltd. in March 1997 at a contract sum of GH¢35,495.50, for a period of fifteen (15) months.

    Madam Speaker, the ground floor

    was completed and handed over to the Health Directorate in 2000. On realizing that nurses were not accepting postings to the sub-district health centres because of lack of accommodation, it was agreed between the Health Directorate and the Assembly that the available resources for the remaining works should rather be used to construct nurse's quarters at the sub-district health centres.

    Consequently, the Assembly stayed

    action on the continuation of the project and constructed nurses' quarters at Nsakina, Kwashie-Kuma, Otsrikomfo, Taifa and Balagono, all in the then Ga District Assembly. This therefore caused the delay in the completion of the project.

    Madam Speaker, I wish to inform the

    House that the Assembly has given its commitment to complete the project by 2012 since all the nurses' quarters and Community Health Planning Services (CHPS) centres that were earmarked for construction at the various sub-district health centres have been completed. In this regard, the Municipal Engineer has been requested to submit estimates for the completion of the project and it will be part of the District Assembly's Common Fund budget for 2010.
    Madam Speaker 1:25 p.m.
    Any other question? Thank you.
    Shall we move to the second Question in the name of hon. Simons Addai, Hon Member for Techiman south.
    Construction of Techiman Market
    Q. 62. Mr. Simons Addai (Techiman South asked the Minister for Local Government and Rural Development what plans the Ministry had to construct the Techiman Market which had been taken over by kiosk and containers.
    Mr. Chireh 1:25 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, the Municipal Assembly is using the Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) strategy of public-private partnership to construct the Techiman Market. Under this strategy, a well designed market plan was drawn in January 2007, demarcating all the various sectors of the market land.
    Madam Speaker, in partnership with individuals, the Assembly started the construction of a one-storey market
    stores complex of 172 No. in October 2008 at a contract sum of GH¢80,000.00 on a portion of the market. The project was to be completed in a period of six (6) months. However, due to inadequate fund inflows, the ground floor has been decked and construction of the first floor is ongoing. Work done so far is estimated at 70 per cent.
    Madam Speaker, other companies such as Melcom have also been allotted space to build their own stores. May I use this opportunity to call on the private sector to partner our Assemblies in the provision of facilities like this which can be of benefit to them and our District Assemblies?
    Mr. Addai 1:25 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, I will like to know if the Build, Operate and Transfer strategy has received enough publicity since many people do not know or have not heard about it.
    Mr. Chireh 1:25 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, indeed,
    this strategy has not been really publicized up to the extent which we should do. But I know that together with the Minister for Trade individuals who have capacity to build these markets have been encouraged, they have been designed and some have made contacts with the assemblies. But I believe that we should make it a more public event for people to be able to relate to.
    Mr. Addai 1:25 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, the Minister made mention of inadequate funds inflow. What is the cause of this inadequate fund inflow? Is it from the Assembly or the individuals who are making contributions?
    Mr. Chireh 1:25 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, the
    inadequate funds flows is because these monies are to be paid by individuals and it is not that they pay all at once. They make contributions as and when they get the money, and of course, the assemblies itself will sometimes have difficulty contributing its portion.
    Mr. Addai 1:25 p.m.
    Madam speaker, con-
    sidering the international nature and the size of the Techiman Market, will the Minister consider giving it special attention rather than leaving it in the hands of individuals and companies who may not even show up?
    Mr. Chireh 1:25 p.m.
    His suggestion is in a good direction. We will consider it.
    Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 1:25 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, the hon. Minister has indicated to us that about 172 market stores are to be built at a cost of GH¢ 480,000.00 which translates to about 4.8billion, if you are using the old currency. That means that a market store is costing about ¢28 million or GH¢2,800.00. Does the Minister not consider that the amount is too paltry and that is why the construction has stagnated?
    Mr. Chireh 1:25 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, I think that the contract was awarded at the time that they believed the amount was adequate and could do the work and the period too was indicated. It is the failure to get this completed early that be resulting in the overruns. Otherwise, this was done with the professional advice of those who estimated the cost per unit.
    Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 1:25 p.m.
    Would the Hon Minister consider reviewing the project since clearly by price escalations over the past two years, the amount may not be able to complete the project, that is, if we stick to the old price stipulated?
    Mr. Chireh 1:25 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, if the project were that of the Ministry, I would be bold to say so. But now, I can only make recommendations to the assembly that started it for their consideration.
    Mr. Ignatius Baffour Awuah 1:25 p.m.
    Madam speaker, I just want to draw the Minister's attention to the Question. The Hon
    Member who asked the Question sought to know the plans of his Ministry towards the construction of the Techiman Market. So it is not what the Assembly is doing but what the Ministry's plans towards the construction of the market are. I just want to know from the Minister what his Ministry is doing to help build the Techiman Market.
    Mr. Chireh 1:25 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, first of
    all, the Question was about the market and the need for it, and in the Answer, we tried to explain. The Question is about plans the Ministry has and our plans are the plans of the Assemblies --[Laughter] -- and we support the plans. If we had drawn our own plans, there would have been a conflict there because the Assembly had ably done the plans and had allotted the portions.
    Mr. Awuah 1:35 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, the construction of markets is not only stalls. Usually, it is stalls and stores. What is he doing about the construction of the stalls? The stalls are the sheds, the open places where they sell the tomatoes and what have you, but the stores are the enclosed ones.
    Mr. Chireh 1:35 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, I still cannot understand the question. The question is asking why it should be stores and stalls. Of course, the plans of every Assembly and the location of the structure will determine whether it should be stores or stalls.
    Dr. A. A. Osei 1:35 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, in an answer to a question, the Hon Minister said, and with your permission, I would like to quote.
    “Under this strategy, a well designed market plan...”
    Can the hon. Minister tell me if this “. . .

    well designed market plan' has stalls and stores?
    Mr. Chireh 1:35 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, yes. In a market plan where you have stores here and then you have stalls - [Inter-ruption.] Let me answer. I am saying this is a plan and the portion that I am answering, the question about now is just a portion of the whole market plan and when anybody gets it, he can come and get. But I am saying that if you are constructing, say, in a market that you have earmarked for tomatoes, selling and the rest of it, what would you have? Would you put in stores or stalls? In this plan, yes. It is a big plan for the whole market; it is a big plan.
    Nii Armah Ashietey: Madam Speaker, I am told that the Techiman Market is one major source of revenue for the Techiman Municipal Assembly. In the light of that does the hon. Minister not think that it would be better for the Assembly to plan its activities such that it can invest money in the market in order to improve upon its revenue base?
    Mr. Chireh 1:35 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, I agree entirely with him. We have given the advice already. During our orientation, we explained to the Chief Executives the need to mobilise more revenue to be able to target their priority areas, that will even further generate more revenue for them. I believe that by the suggestion that the hon. Member has made, the Assembly itself will begin to look at how to get more revenue from the market and perhaps, even if the collection was properly done, they could even finance it completely from the collection.
    Madam Speaker 1:35 p.m.
    Thank you, hon. Minister, for coming to answer our Questions; thank you very much.
    We would go to item 5, Commencement of Public Business, Laying of Papers. The
    hon. Minister of Energy to lay the Paper, item 5 (a).
    Mr. Bagbin 1:35 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, I want to seek your permission and the indulgence of my hon. Colleagues to allow the Hon Minister responsible for Public Sector Reforms in the person of Hon Alhassan Azong to lay the report on behalf of the Hon Minister for Energy. [Interruptions.]
    PAPERS 1:35 p.m.

    Mr. Kwame Osei-Prempeh 1:35 p.m.
    Mr. Speaker, I have a little problem with that. It is a Legislative Instrument and under article 7, it is to be laid, it should be published in the Gazette and it should be before the House for 21 Sitting days. The House is rising in about 10 days' time. So laying this Paper at this time, is not opportune enough. I drew the attention - [Interruption.] Madam Speaker, yes. Because if it is published in the Gazette, it cannot pass the 21 days and how do we report on that? I believe that it has to wait until there is an opportunity for the House.
    Mr. Chireh 1:35 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, I think that this hon. Member and hon. Deputy Attorney-General on leave is beginning to confuse himself. What he should
    Mr. Chireh 1:35 p.m.

    know is that if we are laying it, we start counting. In any case, the Committee on Subsidiary Legislation has to meet and consider it, bring a report and still lay it before this House for the time to run. It is Sitting days; it does not matter whether we go on recess or not. We are the same Parliament, please.
    Madam Speaker 1:35 p.m.
    Thank you, Hon Member. He has aired his view, it has been suggested to him that it is quite wrong. So let us move on.
    Item 5(b) -- Chairman of the Com- mittee?
    Mr. Bagbin 1:35 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, by our rules, I will want to urge the House to allow a member of the Committee to lay the Report on behalf of the Chairman. I cannot see the Chairman now and I think what might have happened is that the Chairman is a member of the Public Accounts Committee and last night the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, Hon Kan-Dapaah called to say that they organised some workshop and they did not inform leadership and his attention was drawn to it last night. So he called to tell me.
    So the members of the Public Accounts Committee were called to attend that workshop. That, definitely, was a slip; I think it was an oversight and that might be the cause of the absence of the Chairman of the Committee. So I am urging that we allow a member, who according to our rules can do that, to lay it on behalf of the Chairman of the Committee.
    Madam Speaker 1:35 p.m.
    Which Hon Member, then? [Pause] Hon Member, there is no objection.
    Madam Speaker 1:35 p.m.
    You were going to make an objection?
    Dr. Osei 1:35 p.m.
    No, Madam Speaker.
    Madam Speaker 1:45 p.m.
    All right. So you can lay it then.

    By the Ranking Member (on behalf of the Chairman of the Committee) --

    Report of the Finance Committee on the request for waiver and tax exemptions on equipment/ machine-ry to be imported or purchased locally, corporate and expatriate PAYE taxes amounting to €11,642,706.00 in respect of the Korle Lagoon Ecological Restoration Project (KLERP) State

    Mr. Frederick Opare-Ansah 1:45 p.m.
    Speaker, while we are busy considering business of the House and especially, laying of Papers, my Hon Colleague at the far end of the other side of the House has turned himself into a cameraman and he is sending flashes of lights into the eyes of those of us sitting opposite here.
    Madam Speaker, he should be mindful that if he wants to see himself in Parliament by facing the camera the opposite way, he will not see himself in Parliament. So he should probably engage the services of a professional cameraman instead of -- [Interruptions] he is taking video and pictures all over and putting flashes of lights in our eyes which is totally against our Standing Orders. Thank you Madam Speaker.
    Madam Speaker 1:45 p.m.
    Well, if it is true, then do we take pictures here of people, Hon Majority Leader? [Interruptions]
    Mr. E. K. Duut 1:45 p.m.
    Madam Speaker -- [Inter-ruptions]
    Madam Speaker 1:45 p.m.
    Let us hear him if
    Madam Speaker 1:45 p.m.

    he has taken the pictures. I just wanted to know if that is permitted [pause.] I just wanted to know if that is permitted.
    Mr. Bagbin 1:45 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, I think it is a novel case. I am told that the Hon Member possesses no camera as he sits there. But he has a mobile phone - [Interruptions]
    Mr. Bagbin 1:45 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, well, my
    understanding of professional cameramen as he mentioned and referred to, is that they do not use mobile phones; they use cameras.
    But according to the information I have
    just been given, he was taking a call and maybe, he was getting a flash from the -- [Interruptions] and Hon Members thought that he was - [Interruption] - Well, it will be nice to take a picture of you. I do not think there is any problem with it.
    I do not see anything in our Standing Orders against it but in practice, usually, we do not encourage the taking of pictures on the floor of the House. I think that we only permit -- even the media have to get permission to cover the proceedings of the House and to take pictures. So I think that that practice is not accepted and encouraged in this House.
    Madam Speaker 1:45 p.m.
    Yes, Hon Majority Leader, but that is a practice where somebody else is taking the pictures in the House. Not the Member. I thought the complaint was that the Hon Member himself was taking pictures of himself. Was it not so? [Interruptions]
    Mr. Bagbin 1:45 p.m.
    Well, I can see my Hon Colleague Papa Owusu-Ankomah taking a picture, but I do not know whether that is the convention. I do not think it is a convention.
    Madam Speaker 1:45 p.m.
    You allow bringing such telephone here, what prevents you from using it to take a picture of yourself? The Hon Member says it shines in his face and disturbs him. Was that not the complaint?
    Mr. Opare-Ansah 1:45 p.m.
    That was the complaint. It was the blinding nature of flasher in our eyes. He was making it difficult for us to even concentrate on the process of laying the Papers.
    Madam Speaker 1:45 p.m.
    Hon Members, at this stage, during my first two days here when my telephone rang, there were so many complaints from Hon Members, that I should not carry - I did not know then that the Hon Members themselves could carry phones here. It was later on I got to know. I would have put mine to silence and then also used it. Except that it blinds other people, if there is no objection, once you bring your camera here and you want to use it on yourself, I do not think there is anything wrong with that, except the people who come here from outside to take pictures.
    Mr. Bagbin 1:45 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, Hon Members are permitted to carry and bring along with them their mobile phones. They are only cautioned to put them on silence or vibration and you are equally permitted to do so - [Interruption]
    Madam Speaker 1:45 p.m.
    Thank you.
    Mr. Bagbin 1:45 p.m.
    We do that because Hon Members are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year - [Laughter] So at every time they must be in touch with their constituents and other Ghanaians and the world.
    Madam Speaker 1:45 p.m.
    Yes, I appreciate that and I think it is a good practice. Once it does not disturb, if you get somebody speaking on to disturb the House, then off course we would ask the person to reduce

    the noise. So, shall we now lay the Paper, 5 (b) (ii)?

    By the Ranking Member (on behalf of the Chairman of the Committee) --

    Report of the Finance Committee on the request for waiver and exemption of tax liability on equipment and materials to be imported or purchased locally amounting to €28,743,883.00, in respect of the Network Expansion and Loss Reduction Project for the Electricity Company of Ghana.
    Madam Speaker 1:45 p.m.
    Yes (c)?
    Mr. Bagbin 1:45 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, we will have a problem here -- [Interruptions] The Chairman is not available, but luckily, we have a member of the Committee in the person of the Deputy Majority Whip.
    By Hon Gershon Gbediame (on behalf of the Chairman of the Committee) --
    Report of the Public Accounts Committee on the Report of the Auditor-General on the National and Regional Houses of Chiefs and Traditional Councils for the period
    Mr. Bagbin 1:45 p.m.
    I think Madam Speaker,
    it is now time for us to have a rest and I beg to move, that the House do adjourn till tomorrow at 10.00 o'clock on the forenoon, when we shall reconvene to continue business.
    I beg to move.
    Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 1:45 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, I beg to second the motion.
    Question put and motion agreed to.
    ADJOURNMENT 1:45 p.m.