Debates of 11 Nov 2010

MR FIRST DEPUTY SPEAKER
PRAYERS 10:35 a.m.

VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS AND THE OFFICIAL REPORT 10:35 a.m.

Prof. (Emeritus) Samuel K. Amoako 10:35 a.m.
Mr Speaker, just to draw attention to the numbering of the pages. I do not know whether it is just mine, but from page 2, the next page is numbered 13 and the next is 14. I think that is an error. I do not know whether it is common in all the -
Mr First Deputy Speaker 10:35 a.m.
Mine is properly numbered.
Prof (Emeritus) Amoako 10:35 a.m.
Mine is not; it is 13 and 14.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 10:35 a.m.
Very well. Why? How can we have two different documents? [Pause.]
Page 5 ... 7 -
Mr Joseph B. Aidoo 10:35 a.m.
Mr Speaker, page 7, paragraph 9 (a), the last sentence of that paragraph and with your indulgence, I read:
“The Rt Hon Speaker referred the Agreement to the Finance Committee for consideration and report.”
Mr Speaker, we all know that yesterday, the Rt Hon Speaker was performing her duty as the Acting President; she was not in the Chair and I think it should have been “The First Deputy Speaker. . .” and not “The Rt Hon Speaker. . .”
Mr First Deputy Speaker 10:35 a.m.
That is correct.
Page 8 -
Mr Ambrose P. Dery 10:35 a.m.
Mr Speaker, page 8 -- the bottom of page 8, we have “Emmanuel Anyimadu - Clerk” and then to the right, “Rt Hon Justice Bamford- Addo.” I do not think that for yesterday's Votes and Proceedings, it should be that way. This is because yesterday she was the Acting President.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 10:35 a.m.
That is correct.
Page 9 ... 10 -
Mr Christopher Addae 10:35 a.m.
Mr Speaker, page 10, I was at the joint Committee on Finance and Mines and Energy but my name did not appear.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 10:35 a.m.
Very well. What is your name so that the Table Office will capture it?
Mr Addae 10:35 a.m.
Christopher Addae.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 10:35 a.m.
Page 11 ... 16 -- [Pause.]

Hon Members, I have admitted one Statement on Remembrance Day. I will now call on the Hon Member for Ho Central, Capt. G. K. Nfojoh (retd).
STATEMENTS 10:45 a.m.

Mr First Deputy Speaker 10:45 a.m.
Hon Member, you invited me to do the same thing last year and I gave a certain direction; and I thought that would inform you accordingly this year. So continue and make the statement.
Capt. Nfojoh(retd): Thank you, Mr Speaker.
The resounding verses are quoted:
“Binyon Verses
“They went into battle, they were young
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow
They were staunch to the end against odds encountered
They fell with their faces to the foe
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.”
Mr Speaker, may the souls of the departed rest in perfect peace.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 10:55 a.m.
Hon Member for Nkoranza North, I did not see your Statement until a few seconds ago; so I will call you to read your Statement.

November 11th Anniversary Celebration for EX-Servicemen

in Ghana

Maj. Derek Y. Oduro (retd) (NPP - Nkoranza North): Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to make this Statement to mark the commemoration of ex-servicemen and women, and other civilian employees in Ghana who fought in various wars. I cannot make this Statement without reference to the old adage that “a nation that does not honour its heroes is not worth dying for.”

Mr Speaker, it is in this regard that the ceremony, also known as Poppy Day or Veterans' Day, is observed on November 11 to commemorate the sacrifices of members of the Ghana Armed Forces and civilians in times of war, specifically since the First World War. The Day is observed on every November 11 to recall the end of World War I on that date in 1918 as major hostilities of World War I formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 with the signing of the Armistices.

Mr Speaker, it is important at this juncture to state that the Day should not only be a remembrance day for those who lost their lives during the First World War but also a day that recognizes the servicemen, women and civilians who lost their lives during peacekeeping operations in Liberia, Sierra Leone, la Cote d'Ivoire, Somalia, Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Sudan, Lebanon, Chad, Eritrea, Ethiopia and in many other places, around the world.

Mr Speaker, I take this opportunity to salute all veterans, retired officers, men and women, as well as the gallant soldiers of the Ghana Armed Forces.

Mr Speaker, the cont r ibu t ion of Ghanaian troops during conflicts cannot be overemphasized. Ghanaian security agencies have exhibited high professionalism and discipline in the discharge of their duties, particularly on peacekeeping missions and they have as a result won the country high international recognition over the years. For instance,

Ghanaian soldiers contributed immensely in the United Nations (UN), African Union (AU) and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) peacekeeping operations and have been commended internationally.

Ghana's role in peacekeeping dates back to the then Gold Coast where her illustrious sons and daughters were sent overseas to participate in various wars and some lost their lives.

Today, many countries recognize the Day not only for the sacrifices of those who fell in the two world wars but also for those who have died in the subsequent conflicts around the world, including those who were deployed on peacekeeping duties.

Mr Speaker, the heroes built the inspiration from Christ who laid-down his life to save mankind. The significance of the Remembrance Day is that these servicemen and women and civilians sacrificed their lives for world peace during the world wars.

Mr Speaker, ex-servicemen are full of experiences in terms of peacekeeping and it is worthy to share these with the service security agencies towards bringing a lasting peace to areas engulfed in wars and conflicts. It is my prayer that God will touch the hearts of the country's leaders to work diligently towards the promotion of peace and development as the contribution of these soldiers and civilians depicted discipline, hard work and good moral standards and other virtues for development and progress of society.

Considering the meritorious service rendered by the gallant men and women to the nation, the meagre pension pay given them is woefully inadequate to sustain them. It is important for the Government to consider instituting a special fund for the retired officers and ex-servicemen and women in order to address their plight.

Mr Speaker, once again, I thank you for the golden opportunity.
Papa Owusu-Ankomah (NPP- Sekondi) 10:55 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I thank you very much for the opportunity to contribute to this Statement.
Mr Speaker, this Statement brings to the fore, one important element of nationhood, that is, “service to the nation and mankind above self” and secondly, “the need for every nation and mankind to recall and honour any sacrifices made by those who laid down their lives particularly and endangered themselves so that we may have peace and freedom.”
Mr Speaker, I must confess, the day entirely escaped me, but for those who watch Cable News Network (CNN) and the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), they realized that in the United Kingdom even the presenters on the BBC started putting on this red poppy about a week ago and somebody asked me, “Why is it that these people are always putting on this? What is happening?”
So I remembered we have what we call “eleven, eleven”. In this country, the celebration is normally restricted to veterans. An Hon Colleague shouted when I rose, “Are you a soldier? Are you an ex-serviceman?” This tells us how we consider this event.
But it is important that our children be made to remember this day. It is not only a remembrance of falling heroes but it is also to remind us of the tragedy of war; the need for us as much as possible to resolve our differences through dialogue rather than fisticufffs, go exchanging fire. It also reminds us that we should always remain very calm under extreme pressure and provocation so that our conduct may not even lead to a conflagration greater than what we anticipated.
Mr Speaker, I believe, as a country too, we continue to pay lip-service to veterans. It is sad. I know of a veteran in my constituency who is almost a century old and for the past ten years, he has been continuously reminding me that as a representative of Sekondi, I should try and bring the attention of the House and Government to the plight of veterans. To be frank, sometimes I say that, “this old man, why is he troubling me with this thing?”
But today, I have been especially touched and the Hon Minister for Youth and Sports can also even use her offices to promote a day like this to get sportsmen and women and even football clubs to play special matches to raise funds for veterans. We should adopt innovative means to support veterans.
Thank you very much. Today, is also your day. You have also put on your red poppy. You are not an ex-servicman or ex-serviceperson but I know you will contribute to this Statement.
I thank you, Mr Speaker.
Mr Fritz F. Baffour (NDC - Ablekuma South) 10:55 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I rise to support the Statement ably made by our two ex-army officers in Parliament.
In 1945, 82,000 Gold Coasters were part of the West African division that had fought in various corridors of war in Africa and Asia. And if we note that 82,000 Gold Coasters were members of various West African divisions when the population of this country was under three million, then you would know the sacrifices made by those gallant men and women who supported them.
The important thing is that they fought for an ideal which has become a reality in the modern era that freedom and equality are paramount rights of the human being. If they had not contributed their quota to that horrendous war, World War II, right now, we might have been under the powers of the Axis which promoted
inequality, discrimination, segregation and hatred.
So while we support the efforts of those who are remembering those great people, we should also note that those ideals are still very, very important today.
We know that freedom and equality, human rights are entrenched in our Constitution and it was the work of those who laid part of that foundation.
Another matter is the welfare of veterans and retired army officers and men and women. We have not put our money where our mouth is. We have left them on the shelf of poverty and of begging. It is important, as has been said by the two Hon Members who spoke earlier, that we put into practice or we put into operation, structures that will give them their dignity back.
On that word, I would like to say that we remember the fallen and remember the living on this 11/11 (eleven, eleven).
Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:05 a.m.
Hon

All Hon Members — rose
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:05 a.m.
“They went into battle, they were young, straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow. They were staunch to the end against odds encountered. They fell with their faces to the foe. They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old. Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going

down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them.” Amen.
Mr W. O. Boafo (NPP - Akropong) 11:05 a.m.
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for giving me the opportunity to support the Statements made by the two able Hon Members.
The Veteran's Day, as we all know, was proclaimed by the former President Woodrow of the United States of America President Wilson in November, 1919. And these were the words he used with regard to the commemoration of the Armistice's Day. He said and with your permission, I beg to quote:
“To us in America the reflections of Armistice's Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country's service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given to America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations.”
Mr Speaker, we can adopt this statement by the ex-President and say that we are also proud to celebrate this Day because it has also equally freed us and given us the opportunity to serve on the corridors of international community through the peacekeeping operations. The original day was observed with parades and public meetings and brief suspension of business at the eleventh hour as we have just done. It is celebrated to perpetuate peace through goodwill and mutual understanding among nations.
I once spoke to some of the veterans about their experiences with regard to war. One of them told me, “You want me to describe a war to you or what happened at the war front? It is awful, language cannot describe it”. This expression, this explanation was very touching because after such an experience, some of them
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:15 a.m.
I will like
to take one more on this matter - Hon Minister for Local Government and Rural Development?
Minister for Local Government
and Rural Development (Mr Joseph Y. Chireh)(MP): Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for the opportunity also to add my voice to the Statements that have been made by the soldiers who have retired and are in this House and supported by a former Deputy Defence Minister - [Laughter.] Indeed, this House shares the concerns of veterans worldwide but in Ghana, the older veterans are giving way to younger veterans who have also experienced war situations in recent times.

What it calls for, therefore, is for all of us to continue to maintain peace so that at no time should our young people go through the trauma of killing other human beings. The Remembrance Day is the day that we recount the battles that we have fought so that today, we are where we are.

In Ghana we see people wearing this red poppy but they do not believe in what they are saying. [Laughter.] This is a very grave day and we need to honour our people. What do we do for them? Let us develop a clear policy to deal with the issue of veterans. If you see the plight of these veterans, if you see them by the road side sometimes, the question is, do we really think they fought for us? They sacrificed; but for the grace of God, they themselves would have been fallen people there.

So what we need to do is, first of all, to look at the issues that were raised about a law we passed here - the Lotteries Act and the section that we must make operative - I also remember that the project between the Golden Tulip and the Opeibeia House has been a long-standing one. Governments have passed and no action seems to have taken place seriously.

But with this call, I am also aware that the Hon Minister for Defence has on numerous occasions indicated his willingness to work out a programme for us to address this problem of the veterans. This project, I am saying --I will urge him to speed up and bring concrete proposals for us to address it. Those who have died, so that we will live, let us continue to pray for their souls so that when we join them -- and I know there are so many cowards who will not like to join them, so, they would not go to war -- let us pray for them so that their souls will continue to rest in peace.

But let us remind ourselves every year -- where have we reached apart from paying the tributes? What have we done concretely to make their lives better? It is when we do this that the tributes we pay every year will have a meaning.

Mr Speaker, thank you very much for the opportunity.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:15 a.m.
Hon
Members, that brings us to the end of Statements. I suggest the Hon Members who made the Statements, the Hon Member for Ho Central and Hon Member for Nkoranza North should liaise with the Leadership and look at the possibility of doing some voluntary contribution because charity begins at home. We all believe that something must be done for them but we must start and see the possibility of getting some contributions to support the activities of the veterans of Ghana.
Hon Members, thank you very much.
Hon Members, at the Commencement of Public Business - Presentation and Laying of Papers.
PAPERS 11:15 a.m.

MOTIONS 11:15 a.m.

Chairman of the Committee (Mr James K. Avedzi) 11:15 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that notwithstanding the provisions of Standing Order 80 (1), which require that no Motion shall be debated until at least, forty-eight hours have elapsed between the date on which
Dr Anthony A. Osei 11:15 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion.
Question put and Motion agreed to.
Resolved accordingly.
Government of Ghana/KfW Financing Agreement for
Multi Donor Budget Support
(MDBS)
Mr James K. Avedzi 11:15 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that this Honourable House adopts the Report of the Finance Committee on the Financing Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Ghana and Kreditanstalt fur Wiederaufbau (KfW), for an amount of €55.0 million for Multi Donor Budget Support (MDBS) (2010-2012) and accompanying measure of €500,000 to strengthen the Ghana Audit Service.
1.0 Introduction
The Financing Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Ghana and Kreditanstalt fur Wiederaufbau (KfW) for an amount of fifty-five million euros (€55,000,000.00) for Multi-Donor Budget Support (MDBS) (2010-2012) and accompanying grant of €500,000 to strengthen the Ghana Audit Service was laid in the House on Tuesday, 3rd August, 2010 and referred to the Finance Committee for consideration and report in accordance with article 181 of the Constitution and Order. 171 (1) of the
Standing Orders of the House.
The Committee met and considered the Agreement with the Deputy Minister for Finance and Economic Planning, Hon Seth Terkpeh and officials from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning and hereby presents this Report to the House in accordance with Order 161(1) of the Standing Orders of the House.
2.0 Background
Multi Donor Budget Support (MDBS) is a joint support mechanism of eleven (11) development partners (DPs) and the Government of Ghana. It is based on the contributions of financial resources by development partners directly to the Government's treasury to complement Ghana's domestically generated revenues.
The contribution of the Multi Donor Budget Support helps to facilitate the implementation of Ghana's development and poverty reduction policies. In the 2009 financial year, Multi Donor Budget Support (MDBS) provided close to US$500.0 million for general budget support.
Under the MDBS Programme, all decisions concerning the allocation and utilization of funds are to be in line with Government's own long -term perspective plans.
3.0 Purpose of the Loan
The purpose of the loan is to obtain funds to support the implementation of the national Budget.
4.0 Terms of the Loan
The terms of the loan are as follows:
Grant amount -- €0.5 million
Loan amount -- €55.0 million
Commitment charge -- 0.25 per cent per annum on the undisbur- sed loan amount
Interest rate -- 0.75 per cent per annum on the amounts disbursed and outstand- ing from time to time.
Grace period -- 10 years
Repayment period -- 30 years
Maturity period -- 40 years
5.0 Observations
The Committee observed that the facility would provide Government with resources not tied to any project to support Government to achieve its core poverty reduction objectives.
The provision of budget support through the Multi Donor Budget Support (MDBS) mechanism is to increase predictability of donor support to Government, help improve public financial management system and facilitate policy dialogue between Government and development partners.
The Committee further observed that the Multi Donor Budget Support (MDBS) mechanism contributes to donor harmonization which helps to reduce transaction costs associated with the management of development aid to Government.
Again, the fact that the funds are not earmarked, allows Government to determine the allocation of these resources in order to own the process of
development.
The Deputy Minister for Finance and Economic Planning, Hon Seth Terkpeh informed the Committee that the facility would be disbursed in three (3) tranches over three years as shown below:
Tranche I (2010) -- €27.71 million
Tranche II (2011) -- €18.0 million
Tranche III (2012) -- €10.0 million.
The Deputy Minister further explained that the 2010 tranche includes an undisbursed amount of €0.71 million from 2009.
The Committee noted that the Government of Ghana (Borrower) is given the right under the Agreement to cancel any loan amounts not yet disbursed, subject to the fulfilment of its obligations. Government also has the right at any time to repay the loan in whole or in part in advance of maturity.
6.0 Taxes and public charges
Article 5 (2) of the Agreement states that:
“The Borrower shall bear all taxes and other public charges accruing outside the Federal Republic of Germany in connection with the conclusion and execution of this Agreement.”
The Committee was consequently informed that the loan will not cover the payment of taxes and other public charges. These costs incurred outside Germany, would be borne by Government of Ghana. Government would also pay for the transfer and conversion costs accruing in connection with the disbursement of
Mr James K. Avedzi 11:25 a.m.
the loan.
7.0 Conclusion
The Commit tee has care fu l ly considered the Agreement and found it to be very necessary for the smooth implementation of the national Budget.
The Committee recommends to the House to take note of the grant amount of five hundred thousand euros (€500,000) and approve by Resolution, the Financing Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Ghana and Kreditanstalt fur Wiederaufbau (KfW) for an amount of fifty-five million euros (€55,000,000.00) for Multi-Donor Budget Support (MDBS) (2010-2012) in accordance with article 181 of the Constitution, sections 3 and 7 of the Loans Act, 1970 (Act 335) and the Standing Orders of the House.
Respectfully submitted.

Dr Anthony A. Osei (NPP -- Old

Tafo): Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion and to urge all Hon Members of this House to unanimously approve of this Motion.

Mr Speaker, it is important to remember - sometimes we forget that this instrument for co-ordinating aid was instituted under the auspices of the former President, J. A. Kufuor, and it has helped almost every time; it lets the Ghana Government gets 100 per cent of budget support since its inception. My goodself was happy to chair that committee when we were there.

Mr Speaker, the instrument is not condition-free and we have to keep that in mind. The donors, when they meet the government, they sit down and come up with what they call “targets and triggers”
Mr James K. Avedzi 11:25 a.m.


that must be satisfied before disbursement can come.

You notice that we are in November and the German Government is now about to disburse its €27.71 million of the three- tranche amount that we are approving. You will recall that even the World Bank delayed in the disbursement of its portion for some reasons. So, we should not think that this does not have conditions.

The important thing though is that, it usually must be consistent with what the Government of Ghana has agreed to do. But of course, when it fails to do those, then the donors will withhold it. It is unfortunate that the partners have waited till November to disburse this €27.71million; definitely, it will have some effect on budget implementation.

Since this is budget support, I am not surprised that these days, when Members of Parliament go and look for their cheques, they are not available because such moneys have not come earlier than they should have come. So, it is important that Hon Members move quickly to approve this Resolution, so that as a matter of self-interest, our cheques can easily be honoured.

Mr Speaker, we should know that

even though we are approving, as the Committee's Report said, €55 million and a grant, Mr Speaker, I was surprised that when the Paper came to Parliament, we did not catch it. But this language of “a measure”, I do not know anything about these words “an accompanying measure”--
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:25 a.m.
Hon
Member, I thought you were going to correct that when it came to your Committee, because I am in the same dilemma as you are.
Dr A. A. Osei 11:25 a.m.
I sought the advice
of my Chairman and in the Committee's Report, note has been made -- we were not sure if we could change the Motion since it had already been published. But I discussed it with the Chairman. That language is not known to some of us; appropriately, it should be “a grant”, “accompanying grant” to the Audit Service. Somebody decided, maybe, in the Agreement that somebody should put in “measure” but most of us, when we say “measure”, it gets confusing. So, the Committee has taken note that it is properly -
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:25 a.m.
So the
“measure” there is the same as “grant”? That is what it means?
Dr A. A. Osei 11:25 a.m.
Yes, precisely.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:25 a.m.
So, we
have been using “grant” in this House, so why did we not use it?
Dr A. A. Osei 11:25 a.m.
I do not know. We
have to ask the Ministry for Finance and Economic Planning why they brought that language. But we took note in the Committee's Report and replaced it, I think on page 2. You will see that the terms of the loan, it mentions a grant amount of 0.5, and this usually goes to the Audit Service and the Audit Service chooses some selected - actually, it is supposed to audit the entire Multi Donor Budget Support (MDBS) funding. But since money is fungible, when it goes into the kitty, you cannot identify whether or not it is MDBS money or any other money. So usually, the Audit Service chooses selected Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to audit their accounts. So, anytime you hear that there is an audit of the MDBS money, it cannot be specific, it cannot be found, but you can audit selected MDAs and see if they have done the right thing.
What I want to do is to urge the Ministry that since they have already negotiated the tranche two and tranche three conditions, that they work assiduously to fulfil them so that disbursements can come much earlier in the year, so that budget implementation can be smooth. In particular, this year, I am sure the Hon Deputy Minister will know that because the World Bank and now these other partners have delayed in disbursement, budget implementation has been a bit difficult.
So, I am urging all the Ministries, because they are all involved in the implementation of these MDBS grants. Sometimes, some of the Ministers in other sectors believe that it is only the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning but there are issues that, for example, the Hon Minister for Local Government and Rural Development will have to deal with in his budget relating to the MDBS, so does the Hon Minister - I saw him here - the Hon Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, especially regarding the Natural Resources Environmental Governance (NREG).
So, I think it will be important for the Hon Deputy Minister to urge his Colleagues in all the other Ministries to ensure that when these targets and triggers have been negotiated, they move quickly to implement them.
With those few words, I want to urge
all Colleagues to unanimously approve the Motion.
Question proposed.
Mr P. C. Appiah-Ofori (NPP -- Asikuma/Odoben/Brakwa) 11:25 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I have seen the Agreement and the Finance Committee's Report and I rise to urge everyone here to give approval for the Motion.
When one goes through the Paper, one sees that this is more or less a gift, because the interest rate for the whole facility is not

even up to 1 per cent; it is 0.75 per cent and there is a moratorium period of ten years. For the next ten years to come, the Government will not pay even a cedi or a dollar by way of repayment of the facility, and the repayment period is thirty years.

So, when the moratorium period of ten years is added to the thirty years, it is going to take Ghana forty solid years to repay this loan. Do you not agree with me that it is a gift by implication and therefore, we should support it?

What gladdens my heart about this facility is the €500,000 grant for the Audit Service. Mr Speaker, if we want to fight corruption, then the Audit Service must be funded adequately because it is the Audit Service that comes out to expose those who have looted the country to enable us take remedial actions to prevent the recurrence of such looting. If they are not adequately funded, they cannot do their work well for the benefit of this country.

I remember about two or three years ago, they ran into liquidity problems and when it came to my notice, I rushed to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning to see the Minister and when Dr Akoto Osei called for their budget, he found that they had large sums of money lying unutilized but the Ministry was tardy in releasing the funds to them.

So, Dr Akoto Osei listened to my plea and ordered the release of the money to the Audit Service to enable them to work. They have to help us but they need assistance from us. So we should all encourage this and urge every Hon Member here to support the facility and when the money comes, the Ministry of

Finance and Economic Planning -- where are they? They should make sure that the €500,000 for the Audit Service goes to them without hindrance.

Question put and Motion agreed to.
Mr Cletus A. Avoka 11:35 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I want to respectfully crave your indulgence and the permission of my Hon Colleagues, to permit the Hon Deputy Minister for Finance and Economic Planning to stand in on behalf of the Hon Minister for Finance and Economic Planning, who is unavoidably absent from the Chamber this morning.
Mr Ambrose P. Dery 11:35 a.m.
Mr Speaker, very well. I think we would accommodate the Hon Deputy Minister.
RESOLUTION 11:35 a.m.

THIS HONOURABLE HOUSE 11:35 a.m.

H E R E B Y R E S O LV E S A S 11:35 a.m.

Mr J. K. Avedzi 11:35 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion.
Question put and Motion agreed to.
Resolved accordingly.
Dr A. A. Osei 11:35 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I think that I spoke in favour of this Motion and I wanted it to be passed but I am disappointed that on such an important matter of government business, we do not have enough Hon Members for the Resolutions.
We have just voted but I just want the Hon Majority Leader to take note that when it is this matter as a Resolution, he should encourage Hon Members of this House to be available so that our work can be seen to be going on well.
I think I have already indicated that the budget support is so important that it affects Hon Members personally and we should endeavour to be here so that government business can be allowed to go on very well.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:35 a.m.
Thank you very much, Hon Member for Old Tafo.
Hon Members, we move to item number 8 on the Order Paper.
Suspension of Standing Order 80
(1)
Mr James K. Avedzi 11:35 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that notwithstanding the provisions of Standing Order 80 (1) which require that no Motion shall be debated until at least, forty-eight hours have elapsed between the date on which notice of the Motion is given and the date on which the Motion is moved, the Motion for the adoption of the Report of the Finance Committee on the loan facility between the Government of Ghana and the Government of Austria through Unicredit Bank AG (Bank Austria Creditanstalt AG) for an amount of €7,980,000.00 for the construction and equipping of 5 polyclinics in the Upper West Region may be moved today.
Dr A. A. Osei 11:35 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I beg to
second the Motion.
Question put and Motion agreed to.
Resolved accordingly.
Government of Ghana/ Government of Austria through
Unicredit Bank AG Loan Facility
Mr James K. Avedzi 11:35 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that this Honourable House adopts the Report of the Finance Committee on the Loan Facility between the Government of Ghana and the Government of Austria through Unicredit Bank AG (Bank Austria Creditanstalt AG) for an amount of €7,980,000.00 for the construction and equipping of 5 polyclinics in the Upper West Region.
1.0 Introduction
The Loan Agreement between the Government of Ghana and the Government of Austria through Unicredit Bank Austria AG (Bank Austria Creditanstalt AG) for an amount of €7,980,000.00 for the construction and equipping of 5 polyclinics in the Upper West Region was laid in the House on Thursday, 21st October, 2010 and referred to the Finance Committee for consideration and report in accordance with article 181 of the Constitution and Order 171(1) of the Standing Orders of the House.
The Committee met and considered the Agreement with the Minister for Finance and Economic Planning, Hon Dr Kwabena Duffuor and his two deputies Hon Seth Terkpeh and Hon Fifi Fiavi Kwetey, the Minister for Health, Hon Dr Benjamin Kunbuor and officials from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, Ministry of Health, as well as the Ghana Revenue Authority and hereby present this Report to the House in accordance with Order 161(1) of the Standing Orders of the House.
2.0 Background
Ghana has been experiencing steady improvement in the health of her people since independence. However, in the last ten years, health status indicators such as maternal health, child health, nutrition, clinical services, public health and reproductive health services have all been plateauing. Non-communicable diseases and road traffic accidents are also becoming major causes of morbidity and mortality in the country.
One of the cardinal areas of emphasis in Government's 5-year programme of work focuses on increasing access to healthcare. The National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) is helping to enhance access to health services for all citizens, especially the poor and vulnerable. The Scheme has helped to increase out-patient cases and hospital admission rates nationwide.
The first phase of the project was implemented in the Northern Region and has been completed and handed over. This second phase is to be implemented in the Upper West Region where physical access to healthcare poses a great challenge. This has led to a situation where patients have to travel long distances to access healthcare. Government's policy on free antenatal and delivery services is also expected to put additional strain on the few healthcare facilities available in the region. This project is, therefore, being undertaken to construct and equip 5 polyclinics in the Upper West Region with the view to helping achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) on health.
3.0 Purpose of the Loan
The purpose of the loan is to obtain funds for the construction and equipping of five polyclinics in the Upper West Region of Ghana, as well as the provision of training of medical staff and other medical technicians/engineers of the
Ghana Health Service/Ministry of Health.
4.0 Terms of the Loan
The terms of the loan are as follows:
Loan amount -- €7,980,000.00
Grace period -- 4 years
Repayment period -- 12.5 years
Maturity period -- 16.5 years
Interest rate -- 0.40per cent per annum Commitment fee -- 0.25per cent per annum
Management fee -- 0.50per cent
per annum
Grant element -- 41.57per cent
5.0 Observations
The Committee was informed that under the facility, five polyclinics would be built and equipped at Babile/Birifo, Funsi, Ko, Lambussie and Wechiau, all in the Upper West Region.
It was observed that the project would help enhance physical access to healthcare in the Upper West Region which is one of the most deprived regions in the country.
The Committee observed that in accordance with article 5.2 of the Agreement, the Government of Ghana is given the right, subject to the approval of the Austrian Export Credit Agency (OeKB), to prepay the whole or any part of the loan upon giving at least, thirty calendar days' prior notice of the proposed prepayment to the Lender.
All disputes arising in connection with the Agreement shall be settled under the Rules of Conciliation and Arbitration then prevailing of the International Chamber of Commerce in Paris by three arbitrators.
The Committee was further informed that the facilities to be provided under the project would significantly strenghthen the following key interventions aimed at achieving the Millennium Development Goal 4:
High impact, rapid delivery programme.
Nutrition, including breastfeeding and complementary feeding.
E x p a n d e d p r o g r a m m e o f Immunization (EPI).
I n t e g r a t e d M a n a g e m e n t o f Childhood Illness (IMCI), which involves the management of severely sick children and antibiotics for diarrhoea and enteric fevers at the clinical level.
As to who the contractors for the project were, the Committee was informed that the project would be executed by Messrs VAMED Engineering GmbH and Co KG of Austria.
Major components of the project include civil works, covering construction of consulting rooms, injection and dressing rooms, laboratories, dispensary, patient care area, office/administration and housing project, involving the construction of 1 number 2 semi-detached bedroom units for each of the five polyclinics. Other components include the installation of medical equipment and the provision of training for medical staff and medical technicians/engineers.
The Committee noted that the project is expected to generate about one hundred and fifty (150) direct jobs (both skilled and unskilled) for the people of the project area.
As to how long it would take to complete the project, the Committee was informed that the project (all civil works, installation of equipment and training) would be implemented within two years of commencement.
Mr James K. Avedzi 11:35 a.m.


Some members of the Committee expressed concern about the amount of taxes/duties needed to be waived which they said were more than 25 per cent of the total loan amount. To them, this was particularly problematic, considering Government's expressed aim of cutting down on revenue lost through waivers/ exemptions.

Others were also of the opinion that some of the items being imported for the project could easily be obtained locally.

Members suggested that Government should consider instituting a policy which will prevent or limit the importation of items that can be obtained from local producers/sources to implement loan/ donor funded projects. This, they said would help boost local industries and ensure local content in public works.

6.0 Taxes and Duties

In accordance with article 6.4 of the Loan Agreement, all goods and services to be procured from the loan are to be waived/ exempted from all local taxes and duties. In the absence of a waiver, the Government of Ghana would be required to pay for all the amounts expended in taxes/duties.

The total amount of taxes and duties associated with the equipment and materials to be procured/imported for the project as assessed by the Customs, Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS) is two million, eighty-two thousand, three hundred and thirty euros (€2,082,330.00).

Members of the Committee noted that the tax assessment that was submitted to the House was not properly done. The Committee, therefore, requested the Customs, Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS) to re-do the assessment and submit same to the Committee.

The Committee has since received and accepted the corrected assessment.

Attachment: Please find attached as APPENDIX the official assessment of the relevant taxes and duties conducted by CEPS.

7.0 Conclusion

The Commit tee has care fu l ly considered the Agreement and found it to be in the best interest of health delivery in the Upper West Region and the country as a whole.

T h e C o m m i t t e e , t h e r e f o r e , recommends to the House to adopt this Report and approve by Resolution, the Loan Agreement between the Government of Ghana and the Government of Austria through Unicredit Bank Austria AG (Bank Austria Creditanstalt AG) for an amount of seven million, nine hundred and eighty thousand euros (€7,980,000.00) for the construction and equipping of 5 polyclinics in the Upper West Region, in accordance with article 181 of the Constitution, sections 3 and 7 of the Loans Act, 1970 (Act 335) and the Standing Orders of the House.

Pursuant to article 174 (2) of the Constitution, the Committee further recommends to the House to approve by Resolution, the request for the waiver of taxes and duties amounting to two million, eighty-two thousand, three hundred and thirty euros (€2,082,330.00) in relation to the equipment and materials to be imported for the execution of the project.

Respectfully submitted.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:35 a.m.
Hon
Chairman, before I call on the Hon Ranking Member to second your Motion, look at your Report. You are also asking for us to approve by Resolution tax exemption, but I have not seen any consequential Resolution there. When are we taking this Report and does that end the matter? I am not too sure. I do not know what you are asking the House to do - that is your Motion - before I call on the Hon Ranking Member to second the Motion. So let me hear from you so that we know exactly what we are doing.
Dr A. A. Osei 11:35 a.m.
Mr Speaker, if I may suggest, if we can take this one and maybe, do an Addendum for today or - [Interruption] -- No, it is separate. We cannot amend.
11.35 A.M. APPENDIX - PAGE 12
Dr A. A. Osei 11:35 a.m.
11.35 A.M. APPENDIX - PAGE 15

11.35 A.M. APPENDIX - PAGE 16
Dr A. A. Osei 11:35 a.m.


11.35 A.M. APPENDIX - PAGE 31 11.35 A.M. APPENDIX - PAGE 32
Dr A. A. Osei 11:35 a.m.


11.35 A.M. APPENDIX - PAGE 35
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:45 a.m.
Yes. Because you want us to take both the Motion for the loan and the tax exemption in one report, we need to get another consequential Resolution before the tax exemption. So the Clerk's Office has advised that they will do an addendum on it so that we do the right thing.
Dr Anthony A. Osei (NPP -- Old
Tafo): Mr Speaker, I beg to second Motion number 9, page 3 of the Order Paper and also to urge Hon Members to support approval of that Motion.
Mr Speaker, the Chairman has indicated the terms of the Agreement and I will not spend time on it. Perhaps, the most important part of the Committee's Report, I believe, would be on the issue of taxes.
Mr Speaker, if you note, the amount of taxes we are being asked to waive, is about 26 per cent of the value of the contract and to commend the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning -- at least, this tax assessment is perhaps, the most detailed that I have ever seen since we asked the officer to go back and do it properly.
Mr Speaker, if you look at the things that are being waived, I wonder if the Ministry, as the Committee is suggesting, should not be coming up with the proper policy on what can be waived. Mr Speaker, 4x4 vehicles, two units; 4x4 used pickups, those are available in Ghana. Mr Speaker, we go further on and this is on the Appendix; ceiling fans, 15 pieces; Mr Speaker, do we have to bring ceiling fans all the way from Austria? Plates, PVC pipes, when we have companies in Ghana that can easily make these available to us.
Technical things like oxygen equipment I can see, but cabinets, tables, desks, cupboards -- you mean in the entire
Ghana, we do not have enough local people who can do -- we know that they do. So we are strongly urging the Ministry to look at this tax waiver policy seriously, perhaps, a guide could be, say, up to 10 per cent of the value and the values must be limited. Scientific equipment I can see, but regular things --
Mr Speaker, sooner than later, even private people using their private funds, are going to ask Government to waive taxes on things that they are going to make profit on and that would not be good for Ghana. I am not sure of how much loss in taxes we have had already this year, but I am sure it cannot be less than 200 million, it could be more.
So we are strongly urging the Minister -- he has made this comment in the Budget Statement; we want it to be reconsidered; and we are expecting that in the coming Budget Statement, a new policy on tax waiver and exemptions can be put in there so that we can debate it properly. Otherwise, we are losing lots of money and it does not help Government.
With those few words, I want to urge Hon Members to vote on the particular Resolution on Motion number 9, on page 3 of the Order Paper.
I thank you, Mr Speake.
Question proposed.
Papa Owusu 11:45 a.m.
None

Sekondi): Mr Speaker, I rise to support the Motion and just to reiterate what the Hon Ranking Member stated in seconding the Motion.

Mr Speaker, I believe this is not the first time that we have urged Governments to let the country have a policy on this tax waiver and tax exemption. Indeed, I recall that in the 2009 Budget, the Minister for Finance and Economic Planning made an undertaking that general exemption
Mr Ambrose P. Dery (NPP - Lawra/ Nandom) 11:45 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I also rise to support the Motion, especially in favour of the construction of five polyclinics in the Upper West Region, at Babile/Birifo, Funso, Ko, Lambussie and Wechiau.
Mr Speaker, the need to enhance
physical access to medical and health services cannot be overemphasized in the Upper West Region. Mr Speaker, when I was privileged to be Regional Minister in 2005, the situation then was that the Upper West Region was the worst as far as under-five mortality in the country was concerned. The national average, in February, 2005, was 111 per thousand live births but that of the Upper West Region was 208 per thousand live births.
I think from that time, we would need to acknowledge the support apart from the fact that the Ministry of Health and the Ghana Health Service then, had a special programme to expedite the enhancement of medical services in the area; we need to acknowledge the support of UNICEF, which at that time made available US$1.6 million and DANIDA which also made available US$1.4 million to support the effort. I was later informed that by December 2008, the under-five mortality had reduced to 113 but still leaves a lot more to be desired.
The physical access to health facilities is further exacerbated by the poor road system that we have in the Upper West Region and therefore, when you talk about trying to reduce maternal mortality, when women are in labour, they need to get to the nearest health facility
The roads are not in good condition, we do not have sufficient ambulances to carry pregnant women and you will be surprised, Mr Speaker, that in such a situation, we sometimes have women
carried either by donkey carts or on bicycles to the health centres and this has contributed to the high mortality rate that has occurred in the area.
So, I am happy that the programme to provide five polyclinics has come to fruition and it would help the people in the area.
You will realise that in the Lawra District, for instance, we have two hospitals in Nandom by the Catholic Church and then in Lawra, by the Government of Ghana.
But even then, you will realise that when you deal with people in the catchment area of Babile and Birifo, it is a very vast area and with the provision of a polyclinic there -- And also in Ko, which has a high population; these would come to improve the health delivery system or health services to the people.
More than the provision of these, I am particularly happy that we have equipment also being provided because sometimes it is not just the infrastructure that we want but ultimately, the quality of health services that are delivered. And so, much as the buildings are good, we would need appropriate equipment to help the workers in those facilities to provide high quality health services.
Mr Speaker, in that regard, I would want to recount again the experience in trying to reduce the under-five mortality from 2005. We realised that it became necessary for traditional birth attendants to be empowered, to be trained and given equipment, taught basic sterilization and the rest of it. I know that all stakeholders in the area would need to encourage our people to go to the health facilities because most of the time, when women are pregnant especially, people advise them to take certain herbal concoctions and those concoctions, most of the time, actually kill our women. But because of ignorance of our people, it is not just

enough providing the facility but it is also -
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:55 a.m.
Hon
Members, the background noise is too much.
Mr Dery 11:55 a.m.
But it is also important that we have access and in that vein, I would like to allude to another good aspect of this loan, which talks about training medical staff and other health officers. It means that it is not just the shell of the building and also the equipment but the relevant manpower to be able to deliver the appropriate services. So I would say that these would come in handy and I will only appeal to the Ministry of Health and the Ghana Health Service, that we continue to expand physical access by providing more Community Health (Based) Planning Services (CHPS) compounds in the various communities because when you have CHPS compound, it thus gives proactive attention to health service beneficiaries because when you have a local community health nurse in visiting the homes, immediately, it improves the sanitation, it improves the practices in the house and we are able to reduce the diseases. Malaria is one of those - that is the main disease in the area but you would realise that with the appropriate education, if we keep our environment clean, then we would be able to reduce the population of mosquitoes which are the agents to move these things.
So Mr Speaker, with these few words, I would like to support this Motion in the expectation that we would go to those facilities and make good use of them and I would ask my Colleagues in this House to support this Motion so that we can have five well equipped polyclinics in the Upper West Region with appropriately trained staff to help.
rose
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:55 a.m.
Hon
Minister for Health, I thought --
Dr Kunbuor 11:55 a.m.
Mr Speaker, if this is the
last contribution, then I can just thank -
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:55 a.m.
It is not
the last contribution.
Dr Kunbuor 11:55 a.m.
All right. I will take the
last opportunity.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:55 a.m.
No, the
Minister for Finance and Economic Planning will take the last because they have raised some issues with regard to the tax exemption regime. But I will call Hon P. C. Appiah-Ofori before I get back to you.
Mr P. C. Appiah 11:55 a.m.
None

Asikuma/Odoben/Brakwa): Mr Speaker, certainly, I do not agree with those who are criticising the tax component. Mr Speaker, it does not constitute any costs to the nation. If we do not waive the tax, the cost will go up by the same amount. Those who are bringing in machines, they will tell us that we should bear the cost of
Dr A. A. Osei 11:55 a.m.
Mr Speaker, just a point of information. We are talking of a tax waiver of €2 million; so I do not know which Paper my senior Colleague has. The tax involved is not GH¢2 million. So, unless he is speaking on a different Motion that he has a copy of, then he can advise us.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:55 a.m.
Hon Member, we are talking about euros, not Ghana cedis.
Mr Appiah-Ofori 11:55 a.m.
Thank you.
Mr Speaker, as I was saying, it is like using one hand to take it and giving it to the other side. The lenders are bringing machines and if you ask them to pay tax on the equipment, this cost would be passed on to us to pay as a nation.
So if you waive it, you lose nothing. And so, however, big the amount is, we should not get frightened about it; we should go ahead and contract the loan; it does not constitute any cost to the nation.
Mr Speaker, if you look at the Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy (GPRS) document, it is very clear that one of the poorest regions in this country has been the Upper West Region. So if the Government is accessing the loan to bring them this health facility in order to reduce poverty, all of us owe it a duty to support the loan. Accordingly, I urge everyone here to support it in good faith so that at the end of the day, we assist our brothers over there to reduce their poverty.
Thank you very much.
Mr Ernest A. Debrah (NPP - Tano North) 12:05 p.m.
Mr Speaker, I stand to support the Motion and to make some few comments.
Mr Speaker, if a businessman puts in money or invests in any business, he would want to see some returns that are
quantifiable. If you look at this project, Mr Speaker, we are informed that in the last ten years, health sector indicators, such as maternal health, child health, nutrition, clinical services and others, have been plateauing. At the end of taking a loan of almost €8 million, I would want to see that we see some quantifiable benefits that will accrue to us after a period in time.
I, therefore, expect to see that after five years, maybe, infant mortality rate in the Upper West Region would decline by so much, maternal mortality would decline by so much. But we did not see this in the Report. All that we would see is that we would improve health services in the area.
In much as I support the loan, I want to say that in future, when such projects are being brought to us, they should be able to tell us what quantifiable benefits will accrue to the nation after a certain period in time. That is a prudent way of analysing or procuring investment for businesses.
Thank you, Mr Speaker.

Minister for Health (Dr Benjamin

Kunbuor): Mr Speaker, I join Hon Members on this, in support of the Motion and firstly, to thank Hon Members for the concerns that they have expressed on health delivery generally and particularly, in relation to the location of these five facilities.

Mr Speaker, there is one issue that I want to raise that has something to do with the tax element. This problem, you would remember, has been with this House for quite some time now. And it has something to do with the legal basis of the categorisation of tax between common law countries and civil law countries.

Quite often, when these agreements are being signed, what is constitutionally

permissible in our context is to ask for tax waivers. And when you ask for waiver in terms of continental law, particularly, in Europe, it actually means an exemption. But an exemption -
Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:05 p.m.
Hon Members, the noise is too much.
Dr Kunbuor 12:05 p.m.
An exemption of tax in the context of Ghana is not one that can be done by parliamentary resolution, particularly, when you are dealing with Value Added Tax (VAT) and Income Tax. They are expressly provided for statutorily and if you would have to grant an exemption, you have to go and amend the appropriate statute. But anytime we receive the agreements in the negotiations, you sometimes hear -- they use waiver and exemption interchangeably and that is what sometimes makes it difficult to itemise the category of taxes as they understand it in the donor country and as we understand it; and I am very happy that the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning is putting in a policy framework and guidelines to ensure that this nomenclature difficulties that have always bedevilled our loan arrangements are actually addressed.
Mr Speaker, the second point has to do with the nature of this VAMED projects. I think in 2003, this was one of the interventions in the health sector that has been well thought through. You would realise that VAMED always insists on moving into a particular region and they always insist on delivering five of the polyclinics and the cost implications of concentrating on five polyclinics in terms of construction has paid off. That is why if you -- what we would be taking delivery of in the Northern Region, you will see that they have been able to adopt each of these polyclinics and when you see it, you would think it is a hospital.
Normally, in a typical polyclinic, you will not have a surgical facility. But if
Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:15 p.m.
When are you bringing that to the House - 2009, 2010 - you will be reading the 2011 Budget soon, when are you bringing it to the House?
Mr Terkpeh 12:15 p.m.
Mr Speaker, as the 2010 Budget indicated, it was an update of progress of 2009. So, I believe my Hon Minister will be giving an update of the developments and progress we have made when the 2011 Budget is presented.
But we will also, at various fora, as we plan in particularly updating the Finance Committee on the PFM and revenue reform that we are reforming; we will be updating your Committee with some of these measures that are being implemented.
Thank you very much.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:15 p.m.
Thank you, Hon Deputy Minister for Finance and Economic Planning.
Question put and Motion agreed to.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:15 p.m.
Hon Members, we will now move to the consequential Resolutions. The first Resolution is item number 10 on the main Order Paper.
RESOLUTIONS 12:15 p.m.

THIS HONOURABLE HOUSE 12:15 p.m.

H E R E B Y R E S O LV E S A S 12:15 p.m.

Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:15 p.m.
Hon Deputy Minister, we now move to the Addendum to the Order Paper for the second consequential Resolution of the tax exemption.
Waiver and Tax Exemptions for the construction and equipping of five polyclinics in the Upper West Region
Deputy Minister for Finance and Economic Planning (Mr Seth Terkpeh) (on behalf of the Minister for Finance and Economic Planning): Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that this Honourable House is respectfully requested to adopt the following Resolution:
WHEREAS by the provisions of article 174 (2) of the Constitution,
Parliament is empowered to confer power on any person or authority to waive or vary a tax imposed by an Act of Parliament.
THE EXERCISE of any power conferred on any person or authority to waive or vary a tax in favour of any person or authority is by the said provisions made subject to the prior approval of Parliament by resolution.
BY THE combined operation of the provisions of section 26 (2) of the Customs, Excise and Preventive Service (Management) Law, 1993 (PNDCL 330), the Export and Import Act, 1995 (Act 503), the Export Development and Investment Fund Act, 2000 (Act 582), the Value Added Tax Act, 1998 (Act 546), the Value Added Tax (Amendment) Act, 2000 (Act 579) and other existing laws and regulations applicable to the collection of customs duties and other taxes on the importation of goods into Ghana, the Minister fo r F inance and Economic Planning may exempt any statutory corporation, institution or individual from the payment of duties and taxes otherwise payable under the said laws and regulations or waive or vary the requirement of such statutory corporation, institution or individual to pay such duties and taxes.
IN ACCORDANCE with the provisions of the Constitution and at the request of the Government of Ghana, acting through the Minister responsible for Finance and Economic Planning, there has been laid before Parliament, a request by the Minister for Finance and Economic Planning for the
prior approval of Parliament, the exercise by him of his power under the laws and regulations relating to the waiver and exemption of tax liability amounting to €2,082,330.00 on equipment/materials to be imported or purchased locally in respect of the Loan Facility between the Government of Ghana and the Government of Austria through Unicredit Bank AG (Bank Austria Creditanstalt AG) for the construction and equipping of 5 polyclinics in the Upper West Region.
N O W T H E R E F O R E , t h i s Honourable House hereby approves the exercise by the Minister responsible for Finance and Economic Planning of the power granted to him by Parliament by statute to waive such taxes and duties or to exempt the payment of such taxes and duties amounting to €2,082,330.00 on equipment/ materials to be imported or purchased locally in respect of the Loan Facility between the Government of Ghana and the Government of Austria through Unicredit Bank AG (Bank Austria Creditanstalt AG) for the construction and equipping of 5 polyclinics in the Upper West Region.
Mr Jame K. Avedzi 12:15 p.m.
Mr Speaker, I beg
to second the Motion.
Question put and Motion agreed to.
Resolved accordingly.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:15 p.m.
Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Avoka 12:15 p.m.
Mr Speaker, I am communicating on behalf of the welfare of the House, seriously - [Laughter.]
Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:15 p.m.
Hon Majority Leader, we have taken the two loans and their consequential Resolutions. The Hon Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee is not available. He said he was going to attend to an Armed Forces programme. That is the signal he gave me. I do not know whether we should take any of the items there or we should defer them. At least, we can take one for today and then the committees can go. The Bills must be laid by tomorrow - those Petroleum Revenue Management Bills - if you really want to make progress in this House and go on recess at the correct time.
Hon Majority Leader, we should take at least, one of those Motions on the Public Accounts Committee.
Mr Avoka 12:15 p.m.
Mr Speaker, it is the more reason for us to adjourn so that the committees, particularly the joint Committee on Finance and Mines and Energy can work on the Bills today, so that they can be laid tomorrow.
As you rightly observed, if we are not able to lay them, particularly the Petroleum Revenue Management Bill tomorrow, we will run into problems. Mr Speaker will recall that Tuesday is a public holiday because of the Eidul Adha and Monday is not a Sitting day. We have not decided to Sit next Monday. So, we will have problems. The Leadership has agreed that we will talk to the leaders of the two Committees, Finance and Mines and Energy, to prevail upon them to have a meeting this afternoon so that they can expedite action and lay the Bill tomorrow.
It is against that background that I think we should rather adjourn and more
so, when the Hon Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee is not available in the House now, so that we allow the Committees to do the work and tomorrow we will see how far we can go.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:15 p.m.
So, are you moving for the adjournment?
Mr Avoka 12:15 p.m.
Well, without objection from my Hon Colleague, the Hon Minority Leader, I would beg to move, that we do now -
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 12:15 p.m.
Mr Speaker, since last week, we have been standing down the Motion listed on today's Order Paper as Motion 11. Equally so, have we done for the item listed as Motion number 12 and Motion number 13? But last week when we stood them down, we said we were going to consider them the following day.
Mr Speaker, I do not see why we have been persisting in this exercise. It is for no apparent reason. An Hon Member of the Public Accounts Committee is here and the Hon Chairman of the Committee said that it could be done in his absence. Fortunately, I believe we have the Hon Ranking Member here. We could take, at least, one of them, that is Motion number 11 and when we have finished, then the others, perhaps, if it is possible to do Motion 12, we can do it. I mean, let us see how it will go. We cannot be engaging in this -
Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:15 p.m.
Hon Minority Leader, you know it is the same Hon Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee that has come to complain that this Motion - the donor partners think that we are not attaching seriousness to the debate of the Public Accounts Committee Reports because they are taken when the House is almost empty. And there is a general consensus that this Report should be taken when we have a full House and
they will see that we are serious about it because they have been supporting the Committee.
Indeed, the Hon Chairman himself who came to lodge the complaint is not here. So, that is part of the problem that we are facing. I entirely agree with you, but that is the challenge that we are facing. So, I think that the Whips should try and get our Hon Members to be here so that from tomorrow - maybe, tomorrow we will take it, if there is not too much business at Question time or immediately after Question time, we can see whether we can start taking the Public Accounts Committee's Report. So, that is part of the problem.
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 12:15 p.m.
Mr Speaker, with respect, the first time this matter arose - indeed, it is true that we had less than 30 people in the Chamber. That is why it was deemed appropriate to programme it for the ensuing day. It could not be done.
Mr Speaker, you do know that on Fridays serious business may not be taken. And considering the fact that this is a very serious one, and considering the fact that we have many more people in the Chamber today than obtains in the previous time, which occasioned the decision or the ruling to have the matter considered the following day, which has remained outstanding for more than one week. I think it will be prudent to at least, take one of them and see how we can go.
Fortunately, as we say, an important Hon Member, a senior Hon Member of the Committee is here with us. The Hon Ranking Member himself is here.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:25 p.m.
The person who is acting as Ranking Member is not here and you know, it is not good in the interest of this House for an Hon Minister to continue to be a Ranking Member. So the Ranking Member now is the Member for Yapei/Kusawgu; that is the understanding and that is my information.
He is not here.
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 12:25 p.m.
Mr Speaker, you do know that in this House when reports are to be gone through and debated, they do not necessarily have to take the presence of the Chairman or the Ranking Member in the House. Once you have a member of the committee to hold the fort for the entire committee, it means business could be transacted.
Mr Speaker, as I said, you do know that tomorrow, Friday, may not be the ideal time. The next Sitting date after tomorrow, in all likelihood, would be next week Wednesday - the penultimate day for the reading of the Budget and we may need to do other businesses in the House other than these Motions, which is why I am pleading -
Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:25 p.m.
Hon Minority Leader, all the concerns you are expressing are very legitimate but the truth of the matter is that, how can you do a very serious debate when the Ranking Member is not around? You see, the donor partners have an interest in this debate; let us face it -
rose
Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:25 p.m.
We must call a spade a spade -- the Ranking Member is not here, the Chairman of the Committee is not here.
Hon Minister for Information -
Mr Akologu 12:25 p.m.
Mr Speaker, even though I am now in the Executive, according to the rules of the House, until the new changes are approved and accepted by this House, I am still the Ranking Member of the Public Accounts Committee.
Now, my information is that, as Ranking Member, I have not even been given the privilege to look at this Report and other Members on our side are also complaining about the same thing - they have not had the opportunity of reading
Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:25 p.m.
Hon Members, there is a history behind how this matter came onto the Order Paper; it has something to do with the Sierra Leonean delegation. The time that we saw these items on the Order Paper, they were not originally programmed to be taken; but because our brothers from the Sierra Leonean Parliament came, we agreed to suspend the rules and take them because they could not witness the public hearing of the Public Accounts Committee. That is how in the first instance, these items, together with those ones that we have disposed of came onto the Order Paper.
If you look at the first time these matters came onto the Order Paper, the rules of the Standing Orders were going to be suspended. I was spoken to on this matter and we decided to take some and some are still outstanding.
It is not the case that none of them has been taken at all. There were several of them and we have taken some with these ones outstanding. We have taken about three or so - I stand to be corrected. We have taken about three of them so far.
But let us agree, we should not quarrel over this matter. It is for the Business Committee to programme when we should take these items. They should not be too much - definitely, they ought to be taken.
Yes, Hon Deputy Minority Leader -
Mr Dery 12:25 p.m.
Mr Speaker, I do appreciate the difficulty that we find ourselves in. I just wanted to make a proposal on
how we could deal with it. If we could agree to deal with it tomorrow, so that we could give information to the various stakeholders and then in view of the fact that Fridays can be light as the day grows older, we could vary and take the Public Business first tomorrow when the numbers are good to satisfy the donor interest that you are talking about.
If we have that understanding, then we could put all the Motions for tomorrow and make sure that the stakeholders are around and then we vary the rules and take the Public Business first and then we satisfy everybody and every condition. That was what I wanted to propose.
Dr A. A. Osei 12:25 p.m.
Mr Speaker, I just want to correct a statement made by the Hon Minister. He said that the Hon Minister for Information was not available to this House - Mr Speaker, I know he is a member of the Executive; but his own members are waving copies which were given to us about two, three weeks ago. So he cannot say for the record that the House does not have copies -
Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:25 p.m.
No, he is not saying that.
Dr A. A. Osei 12:25 p.m.
He said his side but his Members are banding around copies -
Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:25 p.m.
No, that is not what -
Dr Osei 12:25 p.m.
Mr Speaker, he was waving -
Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:25 p.m.
Hon Member for Old Tafo, that was not what the Hon Minister said.
Dr A. A. Osei 12:25 p.m.
That was what he said.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:25 p.m.
Hon Minister, what did you say?
Dr A. A. Osei 12:25 p.m.
He said his side--
Mr Akologo 12:25 p.m.
Mr Speaker, my statement was that, I, as the present
Ranking Member, have not had the privilege or the opportunity to even read this Report. Then my Hon Colleagues on the Majority side who are also on the Committee have informed me that they have not had the privilege of looking at the Report - the Chairman has not discussed it with them. The Hon Member who is coming in my place is here, he has said the same thing right now to me that he has not had the opportunity of discussing the Report with the Chairman. So, he is not even aware that it is coming on.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:25 p.m.
Hon Members, I suggest that - we cannot discuss this in the absence of the Chairman, to be very fair to him. The Report is in his name. So I would suggest that we get the Chairman to find out whether this Report had been agreed on by members of the Committee before it was laid. Because this is a new development that is cropping up; he is not here to respond to some of the issues that we are raising --
Several Hon Members - rose -
Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:25 p.m.
Hon Minister for Employment and Social Welfare, is that correct? Because you keep on changing the title of the Ministry -
Mr Enoch T. Mensah 12:25 p.m.
Mr Speaker, I think that like he said, we would have to suspend the discussion and get the Chairman to convene a meeting of the members of the Public Accounts Committee, we will look at the Report, then we will come back to this House. And I also want to suggest, Mr Speaker --
Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:25 p.m.
Are you a member of the Committee?
Mr Mensah 12:25 p.m.
I am.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:25 p.m.
Did you
agree on the Report?
Mr Mensah 12:25 p.m.
We have not read and
agreed on anything. That is what I am talking about.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:25 p.m.
Anyway
-- 12:25 p.m.

Mr Mensah 12:25 p.m.
Mr Speaker, considering the importance of this Report, what I want to suggest is that, when we are ready, we should stand down the Question time and use the first part of the morning to look at the Report. But then we have to first of all, discuss at the committee level before we come here.
Thank you.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:25 p.m.
Hon Member for Yapei/Kusawgu, acting - the Hon Minister for Information says I should not use the word “acting” because he is still in charge.
Alhaji Seidu Amadu 12:25 p.m.
Mr Speaker, these Reports were prepared to be taken at the time the Sierra Leonean delegation - the Public Accounts Committee of the Sierra Leonean Parliament was here and we thought we could take the Reports in their presence for them to study how in Ghana, the Public Accounts Committee presents its Report.
So the Committee did not have the opportunity to discuss the entire draft before the Report was laid. I had the opportunity of looking at the three Reports but except that I could not give my approval because it is a matter for the entire Committee and not me as the acting Ranking Member.
Again Mr Speaker, we also think that we have a lot of outstanding Reports - the 2001/2004 audited reports of the Municipal, Metropolitan and District Assemblies have not yet been presented. The 2005/2008 Report, the same. And Hon Members from the Majority side think that we should be able to clear all these outstanding ones before we come to
Mr Dery 12:35 p.m.
Speaker, I would just want to appeal to all my Hon Colleagues that we do have a co-operative attitude in making sure that the work of the House moves forward. Probably, when we start saying we have to see things again and agree and that kind of things, we should be careful; it might be a general rule that would not profit us in every situation. I am just trying to caution. That is all.
Mr Akologu 12:35 p.m.
Mr Speaker, I think that I take objection to the statement that Hon Members should have “co-operative attitude” as if we were not co-operating in this matter. We are only stating the facts as happened. We have not refused to co-operate with the Committee or the Chairman in any way. All we are saying is that, with these Reports, some of us have just seen them and they have been laid and they will have to be taken and we think that, no, let us go back and discuss them. It does not mean we are not being co-operative. We are only making sure that the process -
Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:35 p.m.
He is only urging. He is not saying that you are not co-operating. He is only urging.
Mr Akolugu 12:35 p.m.
Mr Speaker, what is the implication?
Mr Dery 12:35 p.m.
Mr Speaker, I am really, very intrigued by the interpretation that has been - and he is not even listening - because he would get up and have his own slant. He is a Minister for Information; he will have his own slant.
I think that if the Hon Minister for Information thinks that at this juncture, my appeal to all of us to co-operate and make sure the work of the House goes forward is wrong, I am prepared to withdraw it and let the chips fall where they may.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:35 p.m.
Hon Deputy Minority Leader, that is why I made a comment earlier that you were only urging for co-operation. That is why I came in so that it does not create more problems. That is why I said that you were only urging co-operation.
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 12:35 p.m.
Mr Speaker, the unfortunate thing however , was when you intervened; we thought the Minister for Information would take a cue but he quickly retorted, “What is the implication?”
Mr Speaker, imputing motives other than what was intended, to the Deputy Minority Leader -- and Mr Speaker, he is a Minister for Information and he should not put any spin on what the Deputy Minority Leader has said. Mr Speaker, I believe it was an innocuous intervention.
What I believe we should not do is to give the impression that for all reports, all Hon Members of the committee must see them and approve of them. We know that there is a convention.
Sometimes, even when the Ranking Members see and agree, we agree for them to be debated in the House. But to insist that he has not seen them; this man has not seen them; if we should go on that line, it would be dangerous for the Business of this House. And the Minister for Information, happily, not “disinformation”, should take a cue.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:35 p.m.
Hon Member, do you still want to respond?
Mr Akologu 12:35 p.m.
Mr Speaker, I had to
come in because I considered the issue that had taken place as giving facts of the situation for us to arrive at a decision.

Now, in his comments, why did he not say, for instance, that Chairmen of committees should ensure that all Hon Members of committees see reports before they are laid and he opted to use the “co- operative attitude” of Hon Members?

So the implication in my view was that, there seems to be non-co-operation from other people and I thought that that was unfair. That is why I reacted. He could have said that Chairmen of committees should ensure that all Hon Members of committees see reports before they are laid and presented. But if he chose to use “co-operative attitude” as if we on this side were not co-operating, I had to correct it.
Mr Cletus A. Avoka 12:35 p.m.
Mr Speaker, may I at this juncture plead with everybody, especially the Minister for Information and then of course, my Hon Good Friend, that we are all committed to doing business in this House. I think that is our collective commitment. Whatever interpretations and expressions that people give, are geared towards a smooth business in this august House.
So Mr Speaker, I would want to plead that against the background of what everybody has said, we are in agreement and we have programmed a Provisional Order Paper for tomorrow. So, as you have advised, we will meet the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee and the acting Chairman. Indeed, we have laid the Selection of Committees Report for the change of membership of this Committee and their Leadership.
So, if Hon Members would bear with me, I think we have a challenge ahead of us and that is the Petroleum Bills that you referred to earlier and that is why we are saying that when we leave here, we would appeal to the joint Committee on Finance and Mines and Energy to try to revisit the

Bill and see whether they can lay their Report tomorrow, otherwise, we would be chasing our shadow in the near future. So on that note, I would want us to close the chapter on this matter and I will under the circumstances, apply for adjournment.

Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that in the light of the time that we have reached and in view of the urgency of the matter before us, that is, the Petroleum Revenue Management Bill and others, we now adjourn proceedings until tomorrow at ten o'clock in the forenoon.
Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 12:35 p.m.
Mr Speaker, in seconding the Motion, to just go on the path of restraint to all and sundry in the Chamber, in particular, those who have the official duty to streamline and inform and not to misinform, should appropriately inform themselves before they make interventions.
Mr Speaker, on that happy note, I beg to second the Motion moved by the Majority Leader.
ADJOURNMENT 12:35 p.m.