Debates of 7 Dec 2010

PRAYERS 10:50 a.m.


Madam Speaker 10:50 a.m.
Hon Members, I have the pleasure to introduce to you a

delegation of the American Council of Young Political Leaders, who are in the country on a week-long study tour of our political system and its institutions.

The purpose of their visit is consistent with the programme designed to support the development of democratic practices and productive contacts between politically active individuals in the United States and their overseas counterparts.

Ghana and the Republic of South Africa were chosen for the study tours.

The distinguished guests will remain in the country until 11th December, 2010.

They are:

Hon Ryan Haynes -- Member, Tennessee House of Representatives (Republican)

Hon Jabar Shumate -- Member, Oklahoma House of Representatives (Democrat)

Dr Daniel Heiser -- Associate Dean and Associate Professor, College of Commerce DePaul University (IL)

Ms Emily Berman -- Finance Director, US Senator Gillibrand (NY) (Democrat)

Mr Peter Freund -- Chief of Staff, Office of the Majority Leader, Kansas State House of Representatives (Republican)

Ms Anne Mason -- Assistant Director of Communications, Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota (Republican)

Mr Dale Rainville -- Manager, Corporate Citizenship, Boeing (VA) (Independent)

Hon Members, on your behalf, I wish them fruitful deliberations and a pleasant stay in the country.

Thank you.

Votes and Proceedings and the Official Report.
Madam Speaker 10:50 a.m.
Hon Members, we now move to item 2,. Correction of Votes and Proceedings of Monday, 6th December, 2010.
Page 1. . . 6 --
Mr William O. Boafo 11 a.m.
Speaker, page 6, paragraph 6, items 1, 2, 3 and 4, line 2 on each of the sub items after the word “and” - I think there is a missing one - “add” -- “and add same to the list of”. The “add” is equally missing at sub-paragraph 6 (2), sub- paragraph 6 (3), and sub-paragraph 6 (4).
Madam Speaker 11 a.m.
Yes, thank you. The
correction taken -
We move to page 7. . .11 --
Mr David T. Assumeng 11 a.m.
Speaker, yesterday, there were several committee meetings but you can see from the Votes and Proceedings that nothing of that sort has been recorded.
Thank you.
Madam Speaker 11 a.m.
Yes, Clerk, it has
to be added.
Hon Member, I am informed you closed late, did you? Did you close late and the record was not brought?
Mr Asummeng 11 a.m.
Yes, Madam
Speaker, we closed very late.
Madam Speaker 11 a.m.
It will appear in
the next issue.
Mr Justice Joe Appiah 11 a.m.
Madam Speaker, page 10 - the Hon First Deputy Speaker withdrew from the Chair at l.50 p.m. and the Hon Second Deputy Speaker took the Chair; it is took the ‘Ch' -
Madam Speaker 11 a.m.
Well, my copy here
says “Chair”.
Mr Appiah 11 a.m.
But here it is “Ch”.
Madam Speaker 11 a.m.
So you want to
correct -- ‘Chair'?
Madam Speaker 11 a.m.
Some Hon Members got “Ch” and others got ”Chair”; but it is ‘Chair' -- proper correction -- [Pause.]
The Votes and Proceedings of 6th December, 2010 as corrected is adopted as the true record of proceedings.
We now move to the Official Report of 24th November, 2010.

Hon Members, in the absence of any corrections, the Official Report of Wednesday, 24 th November, 2010 is hereby adopted as the true record of proceedings.
MOTIONS 11 a.m.

  • [Resumption of debate from 6/12/ 2010]
  • Minority Leader (Mr Osei Kyei- Mensah-Bonsu) 11:10 a.m.
    Thank you, Madam Speaker, for this opportunity to contribute to this Motion seeking approval for the Financial Policy and Budget for the year 2011. Madam Speaker, since l997, of having been in Parliament, I have not seen any budget debate which has lacked steam like the debate on the 2011 Budget.
    Madam Speaker, the tone for the rather boring spectacle was set on the day of the Budget presentation when many Hon Members slept through the presentation. [Interruptions.] Madam Speaker, I am reminded by my Hon Colleague that Members of Parliament do not sleep in the Chamber; they meditate, so many of them were caught meditating - [Laughter] - during the presentation by the Hon Minister.
    Madam Speaker, the Hon Majority Leader himself did not know when the Minister finished with his presentation. [Laughter] Obviously, the Hon Majority Leader had caught the bug, the bug of panic carnage and fear induced by the Budget for 2011. Madam Speaker, as for the Hon Minister, whose duty it was to carry the doomsday message, the message of panic and fear, he was so confused and so jittery that once again, he could not even spell the name of the President correctly.
    Madam Speaker, you will recall that in 2009, the Budget that was presented to Parliament, the name of the President was spelt “Professor John Evans Atta-Mills”, that was 2009; it came with a hyphen. In 2010, it came without a hyphen; 2011, another “Atta-Mills” will have a hyphen;. What is the actual name of the President and how is it spelt? [Interruptions.] Madam Speaker, clearly, it is symptomatic of the confusion that has afflicted this Government and, by extension, the Budget.
    Madam Speaker, my Hon Colleagues have spoken at length and they have established that the 2011 Budget is one that is very economical with disclosures.

    Madam Speaker, on page 5 of the Budget Statement, the Hon Minister started with a chest-beating declaration that, “we have made significant progress.” Madam Speaker, what are they? They cite a GDP growth of 4.1 per cent in 2009 and 5.9 per cent provisionally in 2010 against the target of 6.5 per cent. Both, Madam Speaker, are far lower than the 7.3 per cent growth registered in 2008.

    So, which regime, Madam Speaker, are better managers of the economy? [Interruptions.] Whereas the fiscal terrain in 2008 suffered bumps and hiccups, no thanks to the financial meltdown, the world food crisis, the collapse of banks, reduction in remittances, the dwindling water levels in Akosombo Dam, unprecedented soaring petrol prices, et cetera, today, this year, we have had very good rains. Cocoa and gold prices have hit record heights and yet the growth in the economy is far lower in 2010 than in 2008.

    Madam Speaker, average inflation in 2009 climbed down to 9.0 per cent in Africa; and in 2010, it is projected to fall further to 6.5 per cent and the Hon Minister knows that. He himself told us this in the 2010 Budget, that inflation for Africa is supposed to hit a low of 6.5 per cent. In the event, if we registered

    9.3 per cent, Madam Speaker, clearly, Ghana, positioning itself as the gateway to Africa, certainly, went off the mark and we should not be beating our chest and be raising our shoulders as if we have done the unimaginable.

    Madam Speaker, clearly and bluntly put, we have failed. The question arises; if the fall in inflation is not matched commensurately by significant decreases in interest rates, then clearly, there is something basically wrong with our macroeconomic management.

    Madam Speaker, we are told that the

    fiscal deficit reduction was from 14.5 per cent on cash basis at the end of 2008 and it reduced to about 9.7 per cent in 2009. The overall budget deficit of 7.5 per cent of GDP, gross international reserves of about 3.2 months of import cover as at the end of October, 2010 -- Madam Speaker, it is significant to observe that the Hon Minister agrees that by the end of December, 2010, only two months' import cover will be what the nation will be confronted with.

    Madam Speaker, he tells us that at the end of October - and it is on page 6 of the Budget document, the cover was for 3.2 months. In December, it is supposed to come down to 2.5 months. That explains it. And the Hon Deputy Minister is bewildered; he should look at their own Budget document; they have provided it in their own Budget document; that by December, it is supposed to be 2.5 months. The question to ask, again, is, why?

    Madam Speaker, it is a fact known to all prying eyes that Government is not spending, and so to talk about fiscal deficit reduction with all budget deficit climb- down and the buildup in these international reserves are all artificial. It is, indeed, a hoax! Madam Speaker, the NDC, we all know is not spendng money. The NDC would not want to own up to this

    but what are the facts? Paragraph 71 of the 2009 Budget states, and I quote, with your permission, what the Hon Minister told us:

    “Madam Speaker, total payment for 2008 comprising discretionary and statutory payments amounted to GH¢9,538.2 million.”

    It is significantly higher than the budget estimates of GH¢7,107.2 million.

    Now, in paragraph 48 of the 2011 Budget, we are provided with the following statement:

    “Total expenditure for 2009 fiscal year amounted to GH¢9,0744 million, equivalent to 41.7 per cent of GDP.”

    This, indeed, is less by the expenditure of 2008 by over GH¢400 million. Madam Speaker, now, let us consider from paragraphs 80 to 91. For whatever reason, the Hon Minister did not composite total expenditures in any of the paragraphs for fiscal year 2010. The table on page 30, however, indicates that for the first nine months, total expenditure including arrears clearance and tax refunds amounted to GH¢8,494 million equivalent to 32.8 per cent of GDP. That outturn already is higher than the Budget target of GH¢7,863.6 million.

    Madam Speaker, what, is abundantly clear is that Government's spending over the past two years has been lower than what the NPP spent in 2008. [Interruptions.] Madam Speaker, if inflation is factored into the question, the spending amount may appear far lower. If we factor in inflation, we would have to increase spending in order to do the same things that we were doing in 2008. But of course, this is a Government which is tagged a “do little government.”
    Madam Speaker 11:20 a.m.
    Hon Member, we
    have decided not to interrupt today-- Order!
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 11:20 a.m.
    In 2010 alone payments not made for work that has been done amounted to 2.8 billion -- [Interruption.]
    Mr Avedzi 11:20 a.m.
    Madam Speaker, he is misleading the House; I want to correct
    Madam Speaker 11:20 a.m.
    I have not called
    you. We do not interrupt, I said.
    Hon Avedzi, thank you very much.
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 11:20 a.m.
    Speaker, this kind of interpolation certainly, will not ruffle me at all. And throwing his hands up in the air, I know he is in despair, which is why I will disregard him.
    Madam Speaker, domestic payments arrears in 2010 alone are close to GH¢2.8 billion.

    Madam Speaker, the arrears of over 2.8 billion for 2010, indicate that on commitment basis, the deficit for 2010 exceeds 20 per cent of GDP. Where is the fiscal stabilisation that is supposed to have taken place in 2009? Of course, we all know that it was a ruse, which is why they have come back; when they have told us that they have stabilised the economy, they have now come back to continue the stabilisation levy. Who is telling the truth?

    Madam Speaker, this is the kind of management that we are seeing in the country post-2008.

    Madam Speaker, the projected budget deficit of 2010 is 9.7 per cent of GDP on cash basis. This is very optimistic because it relies on unexplained increases in non- tax revenue of over GH¢536 million from profits, interests and dividends in the last quarter of 2010.

    Madam Speaker, the projection also depends on grants of about GH¢350 million materialising in the last quarter of 2010, although in the first three quarters, we only yielded GH¢300 million and yet in the last quarter, they projected to have an inflow of over GH¢350 million.

    Madam Speaker, with Government not paying their bills relating to the District Assemblies Common Fund, the GETFund, the National Health Insurance Scheme, Road Fund, contractors, salary arrears -- Madam Speaker, it is reasonable to expect that a Government that defaults in these areas would accumulate those international reserves, which is what they try to portray. Clearly, therefore, Madam Speaker, these reserves are basically phantom reserves when in particular they are netted against arrears that are owed.

    Madam Speaker, the 2011 Budget also seeks to reveal Ghana's public debt which is increasing at a rapid pace and that should be worrying to all of us.

    Next, Madam Speaker, one would want to talk about the imposition of taxes. It is not as if one would want to condemn the imposition of taxes outright but as the Good Book says, “by their fruits ye shall know them.” [Hear! Hear!] They went about campaigning that they are going to provide tax reliefs to Ghanaians, now they have saddled Ghanaians with more and more and more taxes -- a litany of broken promises.

    Madam Speaker, increases in petroleum prices, increases in water and electricity tariffs, road tolls, school fees for secondary schools; a forty per cent increase in debt recovery levy, the 20 per cent environmental tax, increases in gift tax from five (5) per cent to fifteen per cent, property rate tax increases, tax increases on imported rice and poultry without supporting local industry to produce more -- This certainly, will mean an increase

    in local prices paid by consumers.

    Madam Speaker, the 2011 Budget increases the tax burden on business and if we agree that private sector business is supposed to be the engine of growth of the economy, then clearly, we are causing more harm to these industries. And how are we going to stimulate the economy if we overburden industry with such tax that they have proposed?

    Madam Speaker, there is, in relation to industry, abolition of tax holiday incentives for Ghanaian real estate investors, no deferred tax payment for bonded warehouses, communication services tax for all companies and persons in industry, increase in vehicle income tax rate, repeal of tax holidays for hotels and hospitality industry, tax stamp for informal sector operators, national fiscal stabilisation levy.

    Madam Speaker, where are we going to end? An increase in withholding taxes even though the VAT threshold has been increased from ten thousand to ninety thousand; a new scheme of combined VAT and income tax assessment is to be introduced for those who fall outside the threshold. Madam Speaker, it is, therefore, not the case, as postulated by the Hon Minister, that there would be tax relief as a result of the increases in the threshold. It cannot be true.

    Madam Speaker, the NDC has promised

    to within two years extend school feeding programmes to cover all primary schools. As 2010 draws to a close, this has not happened. And when we thought that the 2011 Budget was going to be used by them to redeem themselves, they have fallen flat on their faces. In the area of National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Madam Speaker, everybody knows the state in which it -

    Maj. (Dr) ( Alhaji) Mustapha Ahmed (retd) -- rose --
    Madam Speaker 11:20 a.m.
    Hon Member, we have agreed not to interrupt; I have not seen you.
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 11:30 a.m.
    Madam Speaker, the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) is on the verge of collapse. The 2011 Budget, just like the 2009 and the 2010 Budgets before it, did not address the one-time health insurance premium.
    Madam Speaker, the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) -- To promote accelerated development in the savannah regions, the NDC in 2008 promised to make available 200 million dollars a year for ten years to finance major investments for growth in these regions.
    The 2011 Budget only makes available GH¢25 million to SADA. Madam Speaker, that, I know, the Hon Minister would agree translates to less than -- Mr Minister, what is it? What is the percentage? -- I need not say; I know my Friend, Hon Alhaji Sumani Abukari will agree with me that that amount is woefully inadequate.
    Madam Speaker, the Single Spine
    Salary Structure, the Government promised to have all public sector workers on the Single Spine Salary Structure by July, 2010. Now, we are in December; what is the 2011 Budget saying about that? We are giving ourselves time to implement over -- how many years did they say? Five years. And I thought that when they were saying that they were through -- Madam Speaker, clearly, a government of broken promises.
    Now, Madam Speaker, let me come to

    something that is very dear to my heart. It relates to the anticipated oil revenue. Madam Speaker, the Hon Minister has already factored into the Budget receipts from petroleum revenue. That, in my view, is the first false step. So what is Parliament required to do? To rubber-stamp a fait accompli? He has already factored it in- to the Budget. We are not yet through with the Petroleum Revenue Management Bill, 2010 in respect of petroleum. If Parliament decides otherwise, what would you have done?

    Madam Speaker, some of us have major reservations about where to locate the petroleum funds earmarked for investment. Nobody is saying that the funds should not be used for investment; they should certainly be used for investment and national development. Where we have situated it, is where we have a problem with. If it is part of the Budget -- The oil revenue, if it is part of the Budget, as he has done, it must be disaggregated so that we all know where they are going to; which projects they are going to fund.

    Madam Speaker, that allows the Hon Minister to properly track where the funds will be going. Parliament will also be placed in position to monitor the use of the funds. As it is, now that they are in the Budget, they are in the mixed pot, the mixed bag; how do we trace how the oil funds are going to be used? If we are not careful on this very slippery path, we may go the way some countries are going. The reserves will dry up and it would be difficult to tell on what specific projects we would have used the oil revenue. That is where the difficulty is -- Transparency and accountability.

    Madam Speaker, now, the allocation

    to Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), what is it for? What are the reporting mechanisms? Parliament should

    be told. There is nothing to indicate to us how the money is going to be used by GNPC, for what projects and the reporting mechanisms that should come to Parliament.

    Madam Speaker, what are we doing? That is the second faulty step we are taking. Madam Speaker, we may want to know the basis for the estimates that the Hon Minister has given in respect of revenue from petroleum. What is the basis? I want to believe that he did not conjure it from the top of his head but he should tell us the basis; how many barrels of crude are we going to produce in the year? What is the estimate? He should have a reasonable estimate to have factored the amount into the Budget but we do not know.

    Madam Speaker, unfortunately -- and the worry is, unfortunately, on November 3 when the Hon Minister himself told this country that production was going to commence -- and I am quoting him -- he said the average is going to be 100,000 barrels and this is covered in the Ghanaian Times, November 3, 2010. Madam Speaker, on November 29, 2010, we were told that the initial production is going to be between 20,000 and 80,000 barrels. What is this? What is this? Madam Speaker, what is this? So what are they telling us? [Interruptions.] What is the figure that they have worked with -- [Interruption.]

    Madam Speaker, we are told that the

    quantity would be increased. In the same publication, we are told that the quantity will be increased to 100,000 barrels when mainstream production is attained by the end of the first quarter of 2011. They are telling us that the production will increase gradually over approximately six months to a plateau level of 120,000 barrels per day. What figure have they used?

    We need to know because, Madam
    Madam Speaker 11:30 a.m.
    Order! Order!
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 11:30 a.m.
    Madam Speaker, when we have known the quantum of production, we also want to know the benchmark price that the Hon Minister has used because as per the Bill before us, the benchmark price is supposed to be given to Parliament before they bring the Financial Policy and Budget Statement for Government. They know that; the Bill provides.
    So what is the benchmark price for what quantum of production which is fetching them that much? Madam Speaker, these are matters that should concern us in Parliament; they are matters that should concern all Ghanaians so that they are prevented from tripping over and running this country into a ditch --
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 11:30 a.m.
    Speaker, finally, as I started by saying, the NDC gave us a litany of promises. They said they were going to establish a lean, effective and efficient government by cutting out consultation and profligate expenditure within the first 100 days. Yes, it is true that now they have 76 Ministers. At the time of the exit of the NPP, they had 84 Ministers. That is true.
    But what should be known to all of us is that, into two years of NPP
    Madam Speaker 11:30 a.m.
    Order! Wind up,
    Hon Minority Leader.
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 11:30 a.m.
    Madam Speaker 11:40 a.m.
    Hon Member, wind
    up now.
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 11:40 a.m.
    Madam Speaker, I will soon do so.
    But the issues relating to health insurance, the issues relating to the provision of healthcare for all Ghanaians, school feeding for all schools in the country in two years -- We are expecting to see all these things.
    Madam Speaker, the conclusion is that -- The verdict is that this is a government which promises so much but delivers very, very little. I can see the morose face of my Colleague, Hon Haruna Iddrisu. He is very much unpleased with the allocation to the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA); he knows it. Hon Haruna Iddrisu, the Hon Minister for
    Madam Speaker 11:40 a.m.
    Thank you very much, Hon Minority Leader.
    Majority Leader (Mr Cletus A. Avoka) 11:40 a.m.
    Madam Speaker, I thank you for giving me the opportunity to make an input to the Budget Statement read by the Hon Minister for Finance and Economic Planning in this Chamber on the 18th of November, 2010, covering the period January to December, 2011.
    Madam Speaker 11:40 a.m.
    Mr Avoka 11:40 a.m.
    I also commend Hon Members for heeding the appeal from Leadership to exhibit a high sense of decorum during the entire process of the reading of the Budget Statement.
    Hon Colleagues, we are grateful to you.
    Madam Speaker 11:40 a.m.
    Order! Let us hear the Hon Member. We have decided not to interrupt when Hon Members are contributing.
    There is no point in standing up. Hon Majority Leader, please, carry on.
    Mr Avoka 11:40 a.m.
    Madam Speaker, it is in this respect that I respectfully disagree with those of my Hon Colleagues who have described the Budget as “a “fear and panic Budget.”
    Some few moments ago, my very good Colleague, the Hon Minority Leader said that the Budget lacked steam. Madam Speaker, if a very good cook steams food and puts it on the dining table for you to eat, does that food continue to be steaming?
    Some Hon Members 11:40 a.m.
    Mr Avoka 11:40 a.m.
    No! The Budget was good. It did not need to be steaming.
    Indeed, Madam Speaker, all well- meaning economists and the broad masses of this country have accepted the Budget as a good budget [Hear! Hear!] Civil society organisations have given thumps up to this budget. [Hear! Hear!] No wonder that since the Budget Statement was delivered on the 18th of November, 2010, not even the Minority,
    as is always the practice, has organised a press conference to criticise it. No! [Hear! Hear!] - That has been the precedence every year.
    After the Budget has been read, the next five minutes, they go down and organize a press conference. This time, they could not because they had nothing contrary to the Budget [Hear! Hear!] That is an acceptable Budget. Not even their party, where they have a flagbearer now, had the courage and industry to criticise the Budget. Silence means consent. [Hear! Hear!]

    Madam Speaker, with your kind permission, let me refer my Hon Colleagues to the Public Agenda newspaper. Hon Colleagues in this House know how this newspaper has been very critical of Budgets. It is sponsored by ISODEC. Madam Speaker, if you look at page 5, paragraph 1 of the Monday, December 6 edition of the paper, this is what it has to say and with your permission, I quote:
    Madam Speaker 11:40 a.m.
    Yes, order! Order, please!
    Mr Avoka 11:50 a.m.
    Madam Speaker, let me briefly refresh our memories about
    Mr Avoka 11:50 a.m.
    some of the significant features of the Budget, particularly with regard to the agricultural sector. It is the commitment of Government that despite the oil find, agriculture is still our number one priority. [Hear! Hear!] The Government has managed the agricultural sector so well that for the past two years, there has been no hunger in this country. [Hear! Hear!] This has led to the drop in inflation.
    Food is in plentiful supply and Ghanaians are satisfied and happy with the Government of the day. In fact, the youth of Ghana are very pleased with the circumstances.
    Madam Speaker, Government is making the following interventions -- [Interruptions] - in the agricultural sector with the objective of modernising agriculture for a strong economy to create jobs and raise productivity: The interventions include a National Food Buffer Stock Company -- This is a very important buffer stock company Government has put in place. It will be able to mop up food during the harvest period and secure the food for a lean period. During the lean period, it will be able to provide food at affordable prices for the citizens of this country and it will help to provide market where there is none for the farmers of this country. This is a very progressive step taken by Government.
    Fertilizer subsidy -- No more coupons as was in the past where people queued not to buy fertilizer but to get coupons , that brought in its wake the attendant corruption, diversion and smuggling. We have studied the situation and Government has subsidised fertilizer and made it available at all villages and shops for

    Agricultural mechanisation has been

    decentralised to many of the district capitals and the Budget indicates that in the near future every district will have agricultural mechanisation workshop.

    Irrigation and desilting of dams: Many of the dams in the three livestock regions of northern Ghana -- The three regions of the North -- 70 dams have been desilted to encourage or ensure dry season farming and all -year- round farming. Livestock and fishery development has taken place throughout the country.

    Madam Speaker, so much has been said about taxes, that this Budget is a budget of taxes. That is not true. A proper and careful study of the Budget will show that this Budget is tax-friendly to the citizens of this country. Indeed, where there has been the need to increase a tax it is meant for a luxury purpose and these include airport tax, particularly those who go by first class and business class, those who do globe-trotting round the world. If you add US$100 for the poor man, if you add US$100 to take care of the economy and also to improve the facilities in the airport for them to enjoy better, what is wrong with that?

    Madam Speaker, there have been tax holidays for real estate developers. The Budget has provided tax holidays for real estate developers, particularly those who team up with the Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing to provide affordable houses for the ordinary workers of this country; there are tax holidays for them. There are tax holidays for hotel and hospitality, so that we can improve tourism in the country and earn more income and create more jobs for the youth of this country.

    Madam Speaker, let me state that tax expansion is not tax increase. The Budget

    has just sought to expand the tax net so that many people can pay taxes to the country and not that they have increased taxes.

    Madam Speaker, let me address the issue of rural development in the Budget. One other good aspect of the Budget is Government's commitment to bring about a balanced development in the country. These include the areas of health, education, roads, rural electrification, just to mention a few. The advantage is that, this will bridge the gap between the urban areas and the rural poor. It will create jobs for the youth of this country and it will minimise the incidence of rural-urban migration. These are laudable features of the Budget that well- meaning Ghanaians like all of us here should support.

    Madam Speaker, let me briefly mention rural electrification. While the national average is about 66 per cent, three regions in the North of the country have an average of less than 40 per cent. So it is the commitment of Government that while ensuring that other parts of the country are able to be connected to the national grid, there should be accelerated development and rural electrification of these other areas so that the national average can be enhanced.

    Consequently, Government has secured funds, and the Budget has indicated that this year and next year, in fact, during the period of the Budget, 500 communities in the Upper East Region will be connected to the national grid; 500 communities in the Northern Region will also be connected to the grid and 400 communities in the Upper West Region will be connected.

    Additionally, 1,200 communities in the Western, Central and Brong Ahafo Regions will be connected and 412 communities in the Volta and Greater Accra Regions will also be connected. This is the balanced development that we are talking about. This is the equitable development that we are talking about and that is the commitment of this Government through this Budget.

    Madam Speaker, on the issue of security which many of us have not spoken about in this Chamber, I would want to say that as a country, we have challenges. But I am assuring every Hon Member that the security agencies are on top of the situation. Ghanaians are therefore, encouraged to go about their normal duties without fear.

    I t i s no t su rp r i s i ng t ha t t he implementation of the Single Spine Salary Structure started with the security agencies. This is intended to motivate them and ensure that they maintain the security of this country for the development of this country.

    Madam Speaker, I am happy to note that the oil and gas security plan and the training of core personnel of the Oil and Gas Police Unit have been completed and this is very, very important, that with the oil find in the West, the tendency for increased criminal activity will be very, very high. So special security training has been undertaken to ensure that these are mopped up in no time.

    Madam Speaker, let me mention
    Mr Avoka noon
    briefly on governance and come to a conclusion. Madam Speaker, Government appreciates the need for good governance and accountability in all sectors of our national life. The Budget, therefore, makes reasonable provision for the governance institutions that ensure that our civil rights and liberties are protected.
    My plea, however, is that some of the legislations for these institutions, be it Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), National Commission on Civic Education (NCCE) or National Media Commission, et cetera, leave much to be desired. They become more than toothless bulldogs and it is important that we review the legislation to make them very effective and proactive.
    I would want to appeal to the Hon Attorney-General and Minister for Justice that, within the constraints of its budget, it should be able to employ State Attorneys for all the regions and many of the districts so that they will ensure that there will be hasty, very fast and impartial trials in criminal cases, and also protect the Government in civil cases.

    Madam Speaker, one concern about this area is the large payment of judgement debts by Government. The Hon Minister for Finance and Economic Planning has been complaining about this since 2009, that a huge chunk of our budget is used to pay judgement debts. This is not desirable; this is not the best for us. It is in this light that we urge the Attorney-General's Department to ensure that Government does not encounter this problem.

    Madam Speaker, in conclusion -- [Interruption.] I am very happy that the Minority Leader is nodding in approval to all that I have said. [Laughter.] My very

    good Friend the Hon Ranking Member for Finance is also nodding with approval my intervention.

    On a very serious note, the 2011 Budget puts Ghana on the right path to achieving accelerated economic growth and prosperity in an environment of stability.

    Let me conclude by calling on the skeptical Minority to come to terms with the reality of an excellent Budget, to join hands with all of us and Ghanaians to achieve a “Better Ghana Agenda”.

    We have attained a new era of budget t ransparency with s table macroeconomic environment, stable and controlled inflation, sustainable growth and development; all reflecting an unprecedented sound economic management by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Administration.

    Madam Speaker, I would urge all my Hon Colleagues to try to support this Budget and the Government to ensure that the development of this country is accelerated for the betterment of all of us.

    Thank you very much. [Hear! Hear!] [Standing ovation.]
    Madam Speaker noon
    I thank you, Hon Majority Leader.
    I now call upon the Hon Minister for Finance and Economic Planning to wind up.
    Hon Minister, can you wind up now? [Pause.] Hon Minister, not more than 15 minutes.
    Minister for Finance and Economic
    Planning (Dr Kwabena Duffuor): Madam Speaker, my Hon Majority Leader has said everything. He was so good that we gave him a standing ovation. As a very good Leader, he said everything; almost everything.

    Mr Speaker, let me take this opportunity to express the appreciation of His Excellency, the President, Prof. John Evans Atta Mills to this august House for first, allowing me to present the Budget on his behalf and for the lively debate that has taken place.

    I also want to thank the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and the Parliamentary Centre for organising a workshop for us at Koforidua where all of us took part in another debate even though the Hon Minority Leader did not understand the debate very well there.

    Even though the oil is not on stream yet, we have put before this august House, three Bills on the oil which will be coming very soon. The Petroleum Revenue Management Bill is with you here. We also had the Petroleum Exploration and Production Bill, it came to you here. Very soon, we will put before you the Petroleum Commission Bill. All these were mentioned in the Budget.

    Madam Speaker, I heard the Hon Minority Leader talking about figures on the oil production. We are all Ghanaians, we have been in this country, we have heard about the programme of the production of the oil and different times have been given. Any time a time was given, it came out with a figure. At first, we were told it was October but we never had it. There was a figure that came with the October announcement. Then in November, we had it. Today, we are being told that this month, we will have the production.

    The figure we had in the Budget was from the corporate body involved in the production of the oil. It was not a figure conjured from the skies by the

    Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning. These figures are all figures based on the announcements made about the oil production. [Interruption] -- He mentioned the figures.

    Madam Speaker, I did present the

    Budget on the 18th November, 2010. It is the most creative Budget we have ever had in this country and as the Hon Majority Leader mentioned, all of them were quiet because they were surprised to hear the quality of the Budget. It was a good Budget; they know that is a good Budget.

    We inherited an economy from my Hon Friends. They left an economy whose deficit was 14.5 per cent on cash basis and adding commitments, it comes to 21.5 per cent. In less than two years, we have reduced this from 21 per cent to 9.7 per cent. [Interruption.] Ghanaians are very happy with us because we were very creative. When we took over the economy, the deficit was below 9 per cent. In 2000, what did they do? They declared this country bankrupt and went in for the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) package. Is it not true? We did not go in for - [Interruptions.]
    Madam Speaker noon
    We have decided to allow Hon Members who are called to speak to carry on.
    Dr Duffuor 12:10 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, they left the Ghanaian economy in the intensive care unit. We had to take almost two years to bring this economy back and we have brought it back. We have now a very strong economy.
    Madam Speaker 12:10 p.m.
    Wind up now.
    Dr Duffuor 12:10 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, the 7.3 per cent that they beat their chest always on, at the time, 2008 - [Interruption.] They should listen to me. In 2008, the average growth for the whole of Africa was 5.5 per cent; theirs was 7.3 per cent. In 2009, ours was 4.1 per cent and the average growth for Africa was 2 per cent - [Interruption] - They should listen to me. Their growth was 7.3 per cent; Africa 5.5 per cent. Ours 4.4 per cent; Africa was 2 per cent - [Interruption.]
    Madam Speaker 12:10 p.m.
    I am not allowing any interventions.
    Hon Member, wind up.
    Hon Opare-Ansah, I am not allowing any interventions.
    Hon Minister, carry on and wind up.
    Dr Duffuor 12:10 p.m.
    They should compare their 7.3 per cent to Africa's average of 5.5 per cent. The difference is 1.8 per cent. Compare our 4.1 per cent growth with Africa's average growth of 2 per cent. The 4.1 is our worst.
    Madam Speaker, 2009 was a year that restored sanity. It brought about stability.
    Madam Speaker 12:10 p.m.
    Hon Minister, wind up now.
    Dr Duffuor 12:10 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, with a deficit below 10 per cent, they could not handle it; they declared HIPC and with a higher deficit, we have managed the economy; we have not declared HIPC. What we went through in 2009, if you look at what is happening in Europe now, some European countries are now going through difficult times with deficits around 11 per cent, 12 per cent. We were given 14.5 per cent, on cash basis plus commitment of 21 per cent yet we did not throw civil servants out of jobs, we did not fire people; we used our ingenuity to manage the economy - [Hear! Hear!]
    Madam Speaker, my Hon Colleague is talking about the arrears. They left almost three billion dollars arrears. The arrears we left in 2000, they should look at last year's Budget; I quoted it, as compared with their arrears. We were engulfed in arrears but we are managing with ingenuity.
    Madam Speaker 12:10 p.m.
    Hon Minister, your time is up now; finish up.
    Dr Duffuor 12:10 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, we are interested in a healthy economy. We want an economy that is based on health growth, not - [Interruption.] It is because of the arrears they left behind - the 3 billion dollars arrears they left behind. [Interruption.]
    He is talking about Single Spine Salary Structure (SSSS). Yes, they brought Single Spine Salary Structure without knowing how to manage it and before they left, they left a huge increase but for the level headedness of the union leaders, nothing happened. Now, we are managing the Single Spine Salary Structure, once again, with creativity. We are not panicking as they panicked --
    Madam Speaker 12:10 p.m.
    Hon Minister, now conclude.
    Dr Duffuor 12:10 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, I am not concluding now, there is so much.
    We are managing the economy. Next year the focus will be on six (6) areas which I have to explain. It is because we are transiting into a very stable growth economy, we are transiting into a real middle income economy where jobs will be plentiful. We are managing an economy that will bring hope to our people.
    Madam Speaker, they talk about the fact that we are not spending. Let me read some figures here. In 2007, the total expenditure -
    Madam Speaker 12:10 p.m.
    Hon Minister, your time is now almost over; conclude.
    Dr Duffuor 12:10 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, when they were in power, the total expenditure for 2007 was GH¢5,245.20. In 2008, it was GH¢7,228.50. Last year, we have these figures -- [Interruption.]
    Madam Speaker 12:10 p.m.
    Hon Minister, your time is now up.
    Dr Duffuor 12:10 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, we are spending more and yet inflation is going down because we know how to manage the economy. For the less than two years, we have done what they could not do in eight years --
    Madam Speaker 12:10 p.m.
    Yes, thank you. Finish up.
    Dr Duffuor 12:10 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, once again, let me thank this august House. Let me thank all of them for the lovely debate we have had. This is a Budget that will bring about growth and prosperity. I thank all of you. I hope that they will approve of the Budget without any difficulty.
    Madam Speaker 12:20 p.m.
    Order! Thank you very much. Hon Minister.
    Question put and Motion agreed to.
    That this Honourable House approves the Financial Policy of the Government for the year ending 31st December, 2011.
    Madam Speaker 12:20 p.m.
    Thank you, Hon
    Hon Leader, what is next? Is Motion numbered 5 coming on?
    Mr Avoka 12:20 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, we will take Motion number 5 on page 1 of the Order Paper, that is, the Engineering Council Bill, to be read a Second time. We will take that one today; we still have time at our disposal.
    Madam Speaker 12:20 p.m.
    Hon Members,
    the Chair will be taken by the Hon First Deputy Speaker.
    Madam Speaker 12:20 p.m.
    Hon Kofi Frimpong,
    I see you are here today.
    Mr Kofi Frimpong 12:20 p.m.
    Thank you,
    Madam Speaker. After the Vote, I saw the Hon Leader of the House clapping his hands. This is out of order in the House. We do not clap our hands in the House. He must therefore, be ruled out of order and he should never do that again in the House. He was clapping his hands and I think he must be called to order.
    Madam Speaker 12:20 p.m.
    Well, I do not
    know whether you are asking me to follow precedence or to rule on this clapping of
  • [MAJ. (DR) (ALHAJI) AHMED hands.
  • Mr Frimpong 12:20 p.m.
    Rightly so, Madam
    Speaker. It is unparliamentary; it cannot be done in the House. It is quite unprecedented.
    Madam Speaker 12:20 p.m.
    Then we need a
    ruling on it, would we not?
    Mr Frimpong 12:20 p.m.
    So I want you to rule
    on that, Madam Speaker.
    Madam Speaker 12:20 p.m.
    I think clapping is a sign of joy. I will allow it.
    Mr Avoka 12:20 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister for Water Resources, Works and Housing has travelled out of the jurisdiction of Parliament and he has delegated the Hon Deputy Minister, Hon Maj. (Dr) (Alhaji) Mustapha Ahmed (retd) to stand in for him.
    With your kind permission, I would pray that you permit him to take the Bill through the Second Reading.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:20 p.m.
    Majority Leader, are we taking item 6 on the Order Paper too? I want to know. Are we taking item 6 today?
    Mr Avoka 12:20 p.m.
    No, Mr Speaker, item 6
    will be taken tomorrow, Wednesday.
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 12:20 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, that is the arrangement.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:20 p.m.
    Where is the Hon Deputy Minister?
    BILLS - SECOND READING 12:20 p.m.

    Chairman of the Committee (Mr David Tetteh Assumeng) 12:20 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I rise to suport the Motion and in so doing, I want to present the Committee's Report.
    1.0 Introduction
    The Engineering Council Bill, 2010 was laid in Parliament on 4th May, 2010 and referred to the Committee on Works and Housing for consideration and report in accordance with article 103 of the 1992 Constitution and Order 180 of the Standing Orders of the House.
    2.0 Deliberations
    The Committee invited memoranda from the general public and interested stakeholders on the Bill. Following this, the Ghana Society of Professional Engineers submitted a memorandum to the Committee for consideration.
    The Hon Minister for Water Resources, Works and Housing, Hon Alban S. K. Bagbin, his Deputy Hon Maj. (Dr) (Alhaji) Mustapha Ahmed, an official from the Attorney-General's Department as well as past and present officials from the Ghana Institution of Engineers met with the Committee to deliberate on the Bill.
    The Committee is grateful to them for their assistance. 3.0 Reference
    The Commit tee avai led i t se l f of the underlisted documents during deliberations on the Bill:
    (i) The State Lands Act, 1962 ( Act
    125 );
    (ii) The State Property and Contract Act, 1960;
    (iii) T h e N a t i o n a l Accreditation Act, ( Act 744 );
    (iv) The Standing Orders of Parliament; and
    (v) The 1992 Constitution of Ghana
    4.0 Background Information
    The Ghana Institution of Engineers was established by the Ghana Institution of Engineers Act, 1969 National Liberation Council Decree (NLCD 404) to regulate the practice of engineering in the country. Unfortunately, the corresponding Legislative Instrument was never enacted.
    In 1973, the Government of Ghana enacted the Profess ional Bodies Registration Decree, National Redemption Council Decree (NRCD 143) to regulate professional practice in the country. Consequently, some professions through their sector Ministries established Councils to register their professionals and regulate their practice. The Pharmacy Council, the Architects Council and the Medical and Dental Council are a few examples of such registered professional bodies.
    5.0 Purpose of the Bill
    The Bill seeks to establish an Engineering Council as a corporate body with the object to secure the highest professional standards in the practice of engineering. 6.0 Divisions of the Bill
    The Bill is organised into six parts, comprising the following:
    i. establishment and functions of the Engineering Council;
    ii. registration of engineering practitioners;
    iii. registration of engineering firms;
    iv. registration of engineering educational units and engineering programmes;
    v. engineering documents, works and other provisions; and
    vi. staff, financial and miscellaneous provisions.
    7.0 Highlights of the clauses
    7.1 Clauses 1 to 3
    Clauses 1 to 3 cover the establishment of the Council, the object of the Council and the functions of the Council. To be
    Nana Abu-Bonsra (NPP - Fomena) 12:30 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to support the Motion on the passage of the Engineering Council Bill.
    Mr Speaker, this particular Bill, to my mind, is long overdue. However, I believe that it is better late than never. In supporting the Bill, I would like to bring out some comments on it.
    Mr Speaker, I think that the importance
    of this Bill, basically, is to highlight the essence of education. Education basically is to enable us to acquire knowledge, but on this occasion, I think more importantly, education should bring about improvements in our lives in general. That is why we have to spend time to go through various stages of education, reading various courses, both professional and otherwise.
    However, it is regrettable to say that in our country today, you realise that
    Nana Abu-Bonsra (NPP - Fomena) 12:40 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, the lack of respect for professional competence has led to the situation where today, in the 21st Century, we live in a country where almost every day or periodically there are rampant stories of buildings collapsing. Times were when we used to use the T-square and the drawing board to draw lines and to use the square root to take measurement.
    But today, because of computer, we have software which helps us to do all manner of things, yet in the midst of computer and not slide rules, buildings are collapsing. Very difficult to understand, and it is just because we do not want to respect the professional competence of people who have been so trained.
    Mr Speaker, I want to put on record that, for us, to be able to take on the title of an Engineer, a Quantity Surveyor, an Architect, your four years or six years education and all the examination are not enough. You must still subject yourself to professional examinations where senior practitioners will take you through a number of things.
    Mr Speaker, I would like to refer to the Committee's Report, paragraph 8.4 and I am particularly happy about that:
    “private persons cannot operate engineering firms unless there is a registered practitioner in partnership, joint venture or other permanent association with that person”
    as part of that report. Mr Speaker, I think that will also minimise the situation where anybody gets up and by holding, just possessing a briefcase walks to the Ministry and presents papers and registers himself as a contractor Meanwhile, he does not know what construction is about. And that is what I think this Bill will seek to cure. Therefore, I will call for support for the Bill.
    Again, Mr Speaker, the absence of this Engineering Council Bill has also led to a situation where within our country, to the detriment of well qualified engineers, foreigners are imported by companies in the name of being engineers and professionals when in some cases, they are not more than labourers in their own countries. I believe that when we have passed this Bill, it will help us to curtail that situation.
    Therefore, Mr Speaker, in conclusion, I would like to urge that all the professional engineers in this country and the allied professionals that when Parliament has finally enacted and passed this law and it has been assented to by the President, all stakeholders must help to enforce the vision and the object of this Bill.
    By so doing, we would be ridding our country of quacks, people who do not qualify, who know next to nothing about our professional practices calling themselves engineers.
    On that note, Mr Speaker, with these few words, I would like to thank you for the opportunity.

    Mr Simon E. Asimah (NDC - South

    Dayi): Mr Speaker, I want to support this Bill and by so doing, to quote page

    6, clause 8.7:

    “ T h e e s t a b l i s h m e n t o f a n Engineering Council stands to provide enormous benefit to society in the areas of improved quality of goods, works and services, lower cost of production, improved infrastructure(for example, energy, roads, transportation, housing, communications, education, health and agriculture), improved standard of living and facilitation of the achievement of the middle income status.”

    Mr Speaker, we are all aware that Ghana has now entered the middle income group and we need to set standards in all aspects of our life, especially in the area of engineering. And to do this, we need to regulate professional practices especially the engineering practices, either as consultants or contractors or service providers, manufacturers, vendors and suppliers of materials.

    If you look at it today in Ghana, there are all types of materials entering our country without any standards; nobody is checking all those things. The electrical appliances and other things that are imported do not have the standards and as a result, there are a lot of fire outbreaks in the homes, in the factories and also in our offices. We have seen the recent spate of fire outbreaks in most of our establishments and also in the markets.

    I think the performance of the engineers will need to be regulated. I am so happy for the observation that the Engineering Council Bill will also make sure that the companies, suppliers and contractors will have to be monitored, evaluated and measures would be taken on the performance of engineering practitioners. This will go a long way to ensure that Ghana will have value for the money and the individuals who go for the engineers will have money for the practices and the services of these engineers.

    Mr Speaker, this will also stop the
    Alhaji Seidu Amadu (NDC - Yapei/ Kusawgu) 12:50 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, engineering plays a crucial role in all the physical sciences, be it chemistry, be it physics, be it biology. We know that life in the form
    that we know, it cannot actually exist if engineering were not at the centre of all these things --
    Mr Frederick Opare-Ansah (NPP - Suhum) 12:50 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I rise to lend my voice in support of the Motion ably moved by the Deputy Minister for Water Resources, Works and Housing and seconded by the Chairman of the Committee -
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:50 p.m.
    Hon Members, Second Reading Motions are not seconded. Look at Order 81, Order 127 - At Second Readings, we do not second Motions.
    Mr Opare-Ansah 12:50 p.m.
    Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the correction.
    Mr Speaker, this Bill, I believe, is a Bill that is very, very much overdue. Mr Speaker, when some of us left engineering school, we actually came into the world thinking we were going to enter into a very structured profession in the country, just like we had seen in other jurisdictions, only to find that the structure of the engineering profession in this country was not as regulated as pertains in other jurisdictions. I dare say that some of us were led into this House by the conviction that we would somehow be able to influence the passage of such a Bill.
    So it is such a good thing today for
    us to be here while this particular Bill is being debated. And that is why we were craving your indulgence that you permit all the professionals within the sector to add their voice to this particular debate.
    Mr Speaker, it is strange that for a country like ours, which is developing the profession that would actually ensure our development, which is the engineering profession, is not structured in such a way and manner that will afford the best of the services that the professionals can give to the country, to be availed of the agencies responsible for development.
    Mr Speaker, we just heard the conclusion of the debate on the principles of the 2011 Budget and you will realise that various components in there eventually will boil down to the execution of projects which will be led and managed and possibly well conceived by engineers. Yet, we live in a country where the practice of engineering has been left to people who decide to call themselves engineers.
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 1 p.m.
    On a point of order. Mr Speaker, this is a complete misinformation. I have never claimed or described myself as an engineer. I have said tha the greatest culprit is the Minority Leader and his constituency is complete misinformation. He must wihdraw the
    statement and apologise to me.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1 p.m.
    He corrected himself and said those who live in Suame.
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 1 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, but he did not withdraw the earlier one.
    Mr Opare-Ansah 1 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, as everybody there is an engineer and the Minority Leader knows they are not engineers and they still vote for him and he comes to represent them, he is as guilty as they are.
    But Mr Speaker, is it not strange that when it comes to professions like pharmacy and medicine, people who serve or provide services on an individual basis, we are so strict in terms of their service delivery. If you are not qualified to be a doctor and you set up an office and said you had a consulting room and you even spoke to one person concerning medicine you would be arrested the next day and it would be headline news.
    Mr Speaker, if you consider the fact that the practice of engineering goes to serve households, communities and the nation, if you construct one building, it could be multi-storey apartment building or multi-storey office building. You could have an engineering company that could go and construct a whole estate to house families and communities.
    If you were to go to Opera Square today, you will find all kinds of colours and sizes and gauges of electrical cables being subjected to the vagaries of gthe weather. Who is ensuring that the one who is selling this product understands the purposes for which that product was
    manufactured? If you went there and said “I want to wire my house” or it is an electrician to wire your house, “Oh, we do
    Mr Opare-Ansah 1:10 p.m.
    not have the black one, so we will give you the blue one.” “Or you want 2.5 mm; we do not have it , we have 1.5.” “Well, we will use it like that.”
    Mr Speaker, how many of us do not take appliances in our homes and fuses which have specific gauge wires designed to protect the equipment and protect the electrical installations in the house? They look at it and say, “these people, they are worrying us”. I hear when you use a wire to cross it, that is it and then our homes burst into flames and we are blaming others for it. Mr Speaker, if we are to structure the engineering profession properly as this Bill seeks to do, I am sure that a lot of the problems that are associated with the delivery of engineering services will go away.
    One important thing which we have
    all decried in this country, is the lack of maintenance of our structures, be it roads, be they buildings, can be directly linked to the absence of a structured engineering entity. Mr Speaker, if I am an engineer and I know that my own practice will be dependent upon the totality of an engineering design, which I am submitting for implementation, then I am going to be careful in the knowledge that the results of my design could actually result in, maybe, the withdrawal of my licence or the downscaling of my status as a professional.
    Indeed, if these were the case, then people designing roads, buildings will make sure that there is an integral part for the maintenance of those structures. But what do we see? People design buildings, they design roads and they just end them at where the implementation is supposed to be and then somebody else's headache starts as to the lack of maintenance.
    Mr Speaker, I will end by urging Hon Members to vote in support of this particular Bill and also to caution, as Hon
    Hackman Owusu-Agyemang did, that once this passes, we do not want to see our colleagues in the profession form a cartel and prevent the entire nation from getting the true benefit for which this Bill is being passed.
    Mr Emmanuel K. Bedzrah (NDC -
    Ho West): Mr Speaker, I rise to support my Hon Colleagues and also to urge other engineers and all Members of Parliament to support the Bill.
    Mr Speaker, in 1969, a few of our
    colleagues came together to form the Ghana Institution of Engineers and engineers in this country have contributed enormously to the development of this nation. We have our airport built; we have Akosombo Dam built; we have all structures that are of engineering built in this country and we have most of our engineers who supported the foreign engineers.
    Unfortunately, Mr Speaker, there was no enactment that supports the regulation of engineering practice in this country, and so we have all kinds of people practising engineering just as other Hon Colleagues have said. But now, if this Bill is passed, we will have the regulation in place, we will have people who, if they want to practise as engineers, would have to be regulated by the Council.
    I want to urge the Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing that is promoting this Bill to also put into motion immediately the Survey Council Bill so that as soon as the Engineering Council Bill is passed, the Survey Council Bill will also be passed because you cannot have the Engineers Council Bill passed without the Survey Council Bill passed.
    Also, I want to urge all contractors, when this Bill is passed and all promoters or users of engineering practice, that you cannot practise in this country as an engineer, if you are not registered as an engineer with the Council. We have the
    Ministry of Water Resource, Works and Housing registering contractors and in one of their forms, you have to be registered as an engineer but we do not have the Council that will register them. Therefore if your building collapses, or you design and the structure collapses, we could hold whoever designed the building responsible either by withdrawing the certificate from the contractor or others.
    Also, we have the Local Government Authority employing people at the District Assembly level. I believe when this Bill is passed, we can now regulate and make sure that people who are qualified to be engineers would be put at the various District Assemblies to become district engineers.

    Mr Kwabena Owusu-Aduomi (NPP

    - Ejisu-Juaben): Mr Speaker, I am glad that eventually this all-important Bill, the Engineering Council Bill is before the House for the Second Reading.

    Mr Speaker, the purpose of the Bill as indicated in the Report is to regulate the practice of engineering in this country so that eventually we achieve very high professional standards.

    Mr Speaker, before the Ghana Institution of Engineers tried to regulate the practice of engineering in this country, they had a register of engineers but very little was done because there was no legal backing to their operations and luckily for us today, the Engineering Council Bill is before this House.

    Mr Speaker, we have read in the Report that the Engineering Council will keep four registers; register of professional engineers engineering technologies,

    engineering technicians and more importantly, engineering craftsmen which consists of masons, carpenters, plumbers and others who will support engineering work and that is very, very important.

    Mr Speaker, many people portray

    themselves as engineers, especially when they are masons and acquire the experience of supervising a building project; they do all sorts of designs and in this country, we have anticipated a lot of collapse of buildings. This Bill, when approved by this House, is going to weed out all those who portray themselves as engineers but do not have the professional qualification to practise as engineers. We are expecting that quality engineering designs will be provided by the engineers because, eventually, if you design and it fails, you will subject yourself to this Council.

    We also expect that supervision of engineering projects and structures will also be enhanced. That is because if you are an engineer and you are supposed to supervise a road project and you overlook things, definitely, you will appear before this Council. The most important thing is that, those in the engineering professions will now sit up when this Bill is passed by this House.

    Another important thing that this Bill will address, is the registration of engineering firms, such as consulting firms, contracting firms, manufacturing companies, those in the repairs, fabrication and so on and so forth. Many a time, there are contractors who do not have the requisite personnel but they do construct engineering facilities. We are expecting that when this Bill is approved by this House, those contractors cannot co-operate without the requisite personnel and the resources, especially plant and equipment.

    I am glad that the council will limit the areas of engineering practice and
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:10 p.m.
    Ranking Member, you gave your chance
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:10 p.m.
    you very much. Hon Deputy Minister, would you want
    to do any winding up? Briefly.
    Maj. (Dr) (Alhaji) M. Ahmed (retd):
    Mr Speaker, I thank Hon Members for the very rich contributions they have made and also thank Mr Speaker for your indulgence.
    Thank you very much.
    Question put and Motion agreed to.
    The Engineering Council Bill, 2010 was accordingly read a Second time.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:10 p.m.
    Deputy Majority Leader, I think that brings us to the end of the day.
    Alhaji Pelpuo 1:10 p.m.
    Yes, Mr Speaker. The
    day has been very fruitful and conclusive of the debate -
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:10 p.m.
    I am not
    calling you to move the adjournment Motion yet.
    Hon Minority Leader, when are you submitting the Report on the article 71 of Office holders? When are we submitting all reports to the Committee on article 71 Office holders? The one concerning Parliament? We are running out of time.
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 1:10 p.m.
    That is so, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, given the circumstances of these days, it has become very, very difficult for the Committee which comprises myself, the Hon Minister for Information, Hon Minister for Employment, Social Welfare and the Ranking Member on Finance.
    Mr Speaker, as you do appreciate, in particular, relating to the Budget and the several Bills that have been referred to the Finance Committee, he himself, the Ranking Member of the Finance Committee is extremely busy these days; equally so for myself. The Minister for Information, we learnt, has even travelled up country over the weekend. I am not sure that he is back. The Hon E. T. Mensah has to deal with challenges relating to the Single Spine Salary Structure. And so we wanted to find a way to plead with them, so we could really find space to meet and do real diligent work on it.
    This is because, as we do know, after we have finished with our own proposals, we have to submit same to plenary. I should think the Committee of the Whole should discuss it. After the Committee of the Whole's discussion, we may have
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:20 p.m.
    Is it
    possible to compose a new committee and use those members of that committee because of their previous experience and background as resource persons, to guide the new committee? Because these things have to be done, and in good time so that we can then proceed forward. I know your background and the role you played in the previous Parliaments; so get the Hon Minister for Information and other members. You will be the resource person then with other ordinary members, you form a new committee and they will consult you.
    I want that alternative to be explored to see the result because I do not see how this same group will be able to meet -- two of them are not in this House. This is a novelty - all along the Members have always been members of this House. This is the first time we have picked people who are Members of the House but are also Ministers. I do not know how we are going to work at that. You are here, and you are always available. The people have
    sent two reminders to us and it is becoming embarrassing.
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 1:20 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I appreciate the point that has been made. I would want to believe that if we should come to that, we certainly may have to fall on the Chief Whips to be the anchors for the project, because it was due to the fact that I was the Chief Whip for the Majority that I took that one on board. And noticing the Majority Chief Whip shaking his head profusely, I guess he may add to the committee and bring his experience to bear. But I think it is a useful proposal; we may look at that, and if those of them that we compose are able to find space and time, then we will see what we can do.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:20 p.m.
    I want
    Leadership to explore that possibility; if it is possible, then we exploit it.
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 1:20 p.m.
    Very well,
    Mr Speaker.
    Alhaji Pelpuo 1:20 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I think
    that the last remarks the Hon Majority Leader has made are very important and we could explore them further like you have just suggested. The Chief Whips plus my good Friend, Hon P. C. Appiah- Ofori, I am sure if we can get them together -- because we have now until Friday and that is the time we were given. It is long overdue, it is only Parliament that is left and we cannot afford to delay any further. I think the last remarks are very crucial and important.
    Maj. (Dr) (Alhaji) Ahmed (retd) Mr Speaker, this is a matter that is of rather grave importance to all Members of the House and not only to the Leadership. I believe as stated by the Hon Minority Leader, he was part of the Committee by virtue of the fact that he was the then Chief Whip for the Majority. Therefore, I would propose that we engage the members of the
  • [MAJ. (DR) (ALHAJI) AHMED Leadership, the Majority Chief Whip and maybe, the Deputy Majority Leader to be on the Committee from now, so they can prepare and meet the Committee and take the appropriate decisions.
  • Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:20 p.m.
    Very well.
    I think the point has been well made. It is very, very important because the matter is becoming embarrassing for Parliament as an institution and so whatever input we have to make, we have to, but we need them to act as resource persons because they have been very much involved in the previous years, so they will be able to guide us so that we can have something to present to them and defend.
    But as the Minority Leader rightly pointed out, whatever they have would be brought to plenary - at the Committee of the Whole -- for us to look at before it is finally submitted. So I beg you to kindly pursue this matter as early as possible.
    Alhaji Abdul-Rashid Pelpuo 1:20 p.m.
    Speaker, as I was stating earlier, today has been a very fruitful day because it is defining the conclusive day in our debate of the Budget. I believe Members of Parliament are exhausted after listening to these exhaustive and qualitative arguments, we would want to say that we bring the day to an end. So I beg to move, that given the circumstances of the day, we may adjourn until forenoon tomorrow at l0.00.
    Mr Frederick Opare-Ansah 1:20 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion for the adjournment. In doing so, let me remind Hon Members that item number 6 which was advertised today has been moved to tomorrow and there are quite a number of them. So I would like to urge Hon Members to be present tomorrow for this important exercise.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:20 p.m.
    On a more
    serious note, you want us to pass this Bill
    before we rise?
    Mr Opare-Ansah 1:20 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, we are talking about the interest of the people of Ghana.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:20 p.m.
    want us to pass this Bill because new amendments are still coming?
    Mr Opare-Ansah 1:20 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, we
    have to take them on board and do the best that we can for the good people of this country.
    But Mr Speaker, I will also like to agree with the Deputy Majority Leader on the fact that Members are tired. Indeed, right from the onset, the Minister for Finance and Economic Planning himself who presented the Budget was so heavily loaded with fear and panic that the next day, he himself was reported sick in this House. So it is no wonder that after off- loading such Budget contents, Members, after listening to the final debate, will all be tired and will want to go and rest. So I agree with him.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion.
    Question put and Motion agreed to.
    ADJOURNMENT 1:20 p.m.