Members, in your contribution, I want you to look at paragraph 8.4, an issue which the Hon Member for Kumawu was trying to raise some time last week when the Business Statement was presented. Paragraph 8.4, you should try and address that issue.
Ranking Member of the Committee (Mr Kwame Osei-Prempeh): Mr Speaker, I rise to support the Motion and in doing so, make some few comments.
Mr Speaker, as the Report captures, the Ministry of Justice and Attorney-General's Department and its agencies are being seriously under-funded. It covers very important sections of society. But believe me to say that because perhaps, it is not like Ministry of Health or Education and it is a purely service Ministry, it seems very little attention is given to it.
Mr Speaker, justice is a crucial part of our democracy and if you want to guarantee the people their basic right, it is the Ministry of Justice and Attorney- General's Department and its agencies which have to do that. Looking at the amount of money given to the Ministry
and the releases, I believe that something more needs to be done about it.
Mr Speaker, let me just touch on some few observations. First, is the Law School. Mr Speaker, the Ministry and General Legal Council have been bold enough to open two new campuses for the Law School. Because last year, most of the students from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) Law Faculty and other institutions had to stay at home. They had no avenue to attend Law School.
The Ministry, with the General Legal Council have done well in opening the campuses but as of now, students of the Legon campus attend classes outside Legon. They are attending lectures at the Institute of Chartered Accountants' building somewhere at Shiashi. I believe this does not augur well for the training of lawyers. We need to provide accommodation for them and therefore, there is the need to help the Law School to complete the Law School project.
Mr Speaker, about five years ago, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning allocated ¢50 billion for the start of the construction of the Law School building. But at that time there was confusion at the Law School as to who should be the head of the School and because of that they could not utilize the money.
Even though this House approved the money for them, after the issue had been settled, the money was nowhere to be found and therefore, they lost it. This shows that the Government has the intention and supports the idea that it would be a laudable move to construct a new building for the Law School. And therefore, every effort must be made.
L o o k i n g a t t h i s y e a r , o n l y GH¢600,000.00 has been devoted for such a project. It is a pittance, Mr Speaker.
I believe that the Minister for Finance and Economic Planning, if he is here and listening to me, must please, know that we take the issue of training of lawyers seriously. In fact, in a proper democracy, the first person any Minister must see in his office must be a lawyer. When you open the first door, you must see a lawyer who would advise the Minister so that the Minister would know his right when he is doing something, whether the step he is taking is in the right direction or not.
But because we do not have the full complement of lawyers in this country, you go to most Ministries and they do not have lawyers. So issues which can be resolved in-house would have to be sent to the Attorney-General's Office, which is also under serious constraints of lawyers and other logistics. And therefore, there is the need to support the Law School to train more lawyers for us.
Mr Speaker, the next issue I would
want to touch on, is on the Registrar- General's Department. We are liberalizing our economy through donor support, especially DANIDA. We have been able to transform the Registrar-General's Department but still it is not enough. We need to do more. In fact, when the Kumasi and Tamale offices were opened, for about three years, they would just receive the documents there, travel to Accra to have the registration done. Now, by God's grace they are able to do that.
The Ministry intends opening branches in Sunyani and Ho. We do not want to repeat the same thing, that the office would just be there, receive applications and send them to Accra which is already overloaded and then they spend one month here.
Mr Speaker, if you go to Ethiopia, they
have a one-day registration. You present your documents for registration, the same day, it is done for you. I believe that Ghana, in all facets of our democracy, has moved further than Ethiopia and therefore,
if Ethiopia is able to do registration for one day, Ghana should be able to do that and therefore, we need to do it.
Mr Speaker, there is a laudable project,
the Law House project. When the Minister told us that within the past two years, they had moved to the 8th floor, I congratulated her. They have done well to be able to house all the agencies of the Ministry. I believe it is a good project and it needs to be supported. If that is done, Mr Speaker, it would help the Ministry.
Mr Speaker, I cannot end without
commending the Legal Aid Scheme and the Council for Law Reporting for the yeoman's work they are doing. They are part of the Ministry which are seriously neglected and under funded but they are doing a good job for us. I believe they deserve better.
Mr Speaker, before I end, we have created the Economic and Organised Crime Office. Mr Speaker, when we were debating the Second Reading of that Bill, I said in this House, that we were giving powers to the organization and we wanted them to use the power to serve the interest of this country, not a capricious use of power. Mr Speaker, let me reiterate that the formative months of the Office has sent worrying signals to Ghanaians and I believe that it is not going to continue.
Let us hope that the Office should exercise the powers conferred on it by this august House in a way that would serve the interest of the good people of this country, so that when it comes to us speaking for them, for the state to give them money, we should be bold enough to say that “give them the money because we know that they would act in our best interest and that they would not act in an arbitrary way to deprive the good people of this country their rights which the Constitution has given to them.”