Debates of 27 Feb 2013

PRAYERS 10:30 a.m.


Mr Speaker 10:30 a.m.
Hon Members, I have received a communication from the President, which reads as follows:
“26th February, 2013



ACCRA 10:30 a.m.


OF GHANA 10:30 a.m.


Mr Speaker 10:30 a.m.
Hon Members, we also have the Official Report of Friday, 22nd February, 2013 for correction.
Any correction?
Dr Benjamin Kunbuor 10:30 a.m.
Mr Speaker, column 917, the third paragraph, the fourth line; the word is “resorting”, not “resulting.”
Mr Speaker 10:30 a.m.
Any other correction?
James Agalga: Mr Speaker, I would want to respectfully make an enquiry --
Mr Speaker 10:30 a.m.
We are doing Correction of Votes and Proceedings.

Mr Speaker 10:30 a.m.
Hon Members, I have received information from the Minority that they would be late in entering the Chamber. They have informed me that they would be late in entering the Chamber -- [Pause.]
Mr Haruna Iddrisu 10:30 a.m.
Mr Speaker, just an observation for your guidance.
I respectfully heard you say that the Minority would be late in entering the Chamber. For the records --
Mr Speaker 10:30 a.m.
I said they have informed me.
Mr H. Iddrisu 10:30 a.m.
They have informed you that they would be late -- Mr Speaker, we may want to know whether they have assigned any good reason for wanting to be away and for wanting to be late, for our records -- [Pause.]
Mr Speaker 10:30 a.m.
Hon Member, I do not want to go there -- [Laughter.]
rose rose
Mr Speaker 10:30 a.m.
Hon Majority Leader?
Dr Kunbuor 10:30 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I would yield to him for now.
Mr Speaker 10:30 a.m.
All right.
Mr James Agalga 10:30 a.m.
Mr Speaker, thank you for -- [Interruption]
Mr Alban S. K. Bagbin 10:30 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I see a total absence of the Press Corps. There is no pressman available and it is not normal. Something is amiss and I think that the press corps should be called to order. Parliament is meeting and we do business with them and we need their presence. The total absence of the press corps is completely something that should not be accepted by this House. So, Mr Speaker, I am drawing your kind attention to that.
Mr Speaker 10:30 a.m.
Thank you very much.
Dr Kunbuor 10:30 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I am seeing on the Order Paper two Questions, one an Urgent Question. I am aware that these Questions are to be asked by an Hon Member from the other side, and once Mr Speaker has indicated that they have drawn his attention to the fact that they would be late in coming to the House, whether with the leave of Mr Speaker, we cannot alter the order of proceedings to give them the opportunity to be here, so that we can take up the issue of items 3 and 4.
Mr Speaker 10:40 a.m.
Very well. Hon Majority Leader, I am just coming to that.





BOAMAH 10:40 a.m.



Mr Speaker 10:40 a.m.
The second one --
“Hon. Kennedy Osei Nyarko Member of Parliament
Akyem Swedru Constituency


ACCRA 10:40 a.m.



KENNEDY 10:40 a.m.

Dr Kunbuor 10:40 a.m.
Mr Speaker, for purposes of the records, I cannot more than agree with you on the advice of the Clerk and your ruling on this matter. Beyond the provisions of the Standing Order, we would have been setting a very, very dangerous precedent in this House in which Mr Speaker, either in the comfort of his bedroom or office, would purport to actually withdraw Business of the House that has been adopted on the floor.
It might be useful in a polite way, that we can draw the Hon Members' attention to this rather dangerous procedure that was adopted in actually withdrawing Questions. But as a learning process, I guess we are all learning in these new areas that are coming up and Hon Members would do well on both sides of the House to seek some clarification from their Leadership.
I would have liked very much to see whether my Hon Colleague, the Hon Minority Leader did have the opportunity to advise the Hon Members in terms of the processes involved in withdrawing a matter which has been adopted as a Business of the House. But once he is not here, I intend to take up that matter with him personally.
Mr Sampson Ahi 10:40 a.m.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Kennedy Nyarko Osei (Member of Parliament) MP for Akim Swedru wants to know from the Hon Minister for Roads and Highways what plans the Ministry has towards reconstructing the Akim Swedru --Achiase Road--
Mr Speaker 10:40 a.m.
Hon Member, what are you trying to do?
Mr Ahi 10:40 a.m.
Mr Speaker, is the Hon Member telling us that the people in Akim Swedru area now do not need the road to be reconstructed any longer? Or it has been already done and it is no longer important to them, that is why he is withdrawing the Question? This is because the people in Akim Swedru want to know what their Member of Parliament is doing about this particular road.
Mr Speaker 10:40 a.m.
Hon Member, we said the Question has lapsed and that brings us to the end of the matter.
Several Hon Members -- rose --
Mr Speaker 10:40 a.m.
Hon Members, I am not taking any further comments on the issue of the Questions. [Interruption.] I am not taking any further comments on the issue of the Questions. I am not taking any comments. [Interruption.] I am not taking any comments on the issue of the Questions.
Hon Members, let us make progress.
Mr Agalga 10:40 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I would want to make an inquiry.
Yesterday, I lodged a complaint for contempt against Hon Members of the Minority for the behaviour exhibited on Thursday, the 21st of February, 2013 when the President came to this House to deliver the Message on the State of the Nation.
Mr Speaker, I would want to find out whether the complaint has been brought to your attention.
Mr Speaker 10:40 a.m.
Hon Member, there are new developments with regard to the issue of the complaint.
Yesterday, I saw the complaint; I am going to look at it and look at the rules and do the necessary consultation with my Clerks on the matter.
But I learnt it was a subject matter in which you Hon Agalga, have passed comments on, on radio. When something has been submitted to my office and I have not even read it, I learnt you were on radio making comments -- together with the Hon Minority Leader. And I got to know that certain issues were raised in the course of those comments on air.
Hon Member, when you submit a matter to the Speaker, you do not rush to the media. I have even been informed that at the time you submitted the complaint to my office, you also put copies in the pigeonholes of Hon Members. If that is true, it is rather unfortunate and you do not do that. I am the only person who can refer issues of breach of contempt, or the Officer Presiding is the only person who can refer issues of breach of privilege to the Privileges Committee. But before I could even go through and consult, the matter is in the public domain.
I hope that in future-- You are a young man in the House; when any matter of that nature arises and the media calls you, you should know what to tell them.
I will look at it, do the necessary consultation and get back to you.
Mr Agalga 10:50 a.m.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. I have taken note of your comments.
Alhaji Mohammed-Mubarak Muntaka 10:50 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I hope my Hon Colleague would take your good advice in good faith.
But Mr Speaker, the second leg of it was the comment by the Hon Minority Leader --
Mr Speaker 10:50 a.m.
Hon Member, those are the developments. I have asked the Clerk to get me the tape of what transpired on air. So, that is the development and looking at the matter, I would look at whatever was said by the two Hon Members, together with the complaint of breach of privilege.
Mr David T. Assumeng 10:50 a.m.
Mr Speaker, my concern is about the image of Parliament. Mr Speaker, in my opinion, the image of Parliament is sinking at the time that we have a very experienced Hon Speaker in the Chair. I am convinced that you are the best person to handle this House. But unfortunately, the attitude of our Hon Friends opposite is sinking the image of Parliament.
Mr Speaker 10:50 a.m.
Hon Member, I am not going to take that. They are not here and I have to be fair to the other side of the House. If you want to make any comment that touches on the Minority -- I informed you that they said they would be late in entering the Chamber. Let them be here before you make any comment.
Mr Speaker 10:50 a.m.
Hon Members, I am not going to take comments on that because they are not here. I must be fair to them, to enable them respond if they so wish. But making comments in their absence, will not
be fair to them and therefore, I am not going to take any comment again on that matter.
Mr Speaker 10:50 a.m.
Hon Member for North Tongu, what is it again? [Laughter].
Mr Ablakwa 10:50 a.m.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, for finally catching your eye.
Mr Speaker, I r ise to seek your guidance.
I am observing that this is a public Sitting and very important issues are being addressed by Hon Speaker, especially the issue of the Questions which have been a matter of immense national discussion. But I looked to my right above and noticed that the media is not here.
My enquiries have proved that there is some so-called “True State of the Nation Address” happening somewhere and all the cameras are there. I would want to seek your advice whether this is acceptable parliamentary practice. I thought that the priority should be on Mr Speaker, so that all these important national issues which are being addressed here can be captured in accuracy for the good people of Ghana. That is why I am rising, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker 10:50 a.m.
Hon Member, thank you.
The priority should not be the Speaker; it should be the House. I am a servant of the House. The priority should be on the House and not on anybody or on any Caucus.
I have not received any information from the Parliamentary Press Corps that they will be away. In fact, I was preparing to move from my Office into the Speaker's Lobby when the information got to me and I thought that I should communicate it to the House.
Dr Kunbuor 10:50 a.m.
Mr Speaker, for the sake of the records, I would want some clarification.
I perfectly agree with you that in all decent democracies, the rules of procedure require that one does not make statements in relation to a person in his absence.
But I understood the Hon Member for Shai Osudoku to be saying that there are weighty matters for the House, and if by our Standing Orders, the House can be substituted for majority of Hon Members, I guess that some comments could be made in relation to the sinking image of the House if there is no reference to the Minority who are not here. And I would want Mr Speaker 's guidance on that matter.
Mr Speaker 10:50 a.m.
Hon Members, I preside over the House and the rules of the House are very clear. The fundamental question is, do I have the numbers to preside over the House to transact business? The Constitution and the Standing Orders are very clear the number of Hon Members that I need in this House to preside. When I have that number -- even if I do not have and nobody draws my attention to quorum, I would continue presiding over the House.
The second is whether we have the quorum to take decisions. If we have the number to take decisions and there is need for any decision to be taken by the House -- We were all here when the Hon Deputy Minority Leader, representing the Minority, made the Statement on the floor of the House on the issue that they were not going to participate in proceedings and all kinds of things. It is a matter of public knowledge.
So, I think we should -- I cannot declare a public holiday -- [Laughter] -- I do not have the power. The House is adjourned to a particular time -- and once
I have the number of Hon Members to transact business, I would go ahead and transact business.
Hon Members, before we move to the Motion, I have admitted one Statement for today -- a Statement standing in the name of Hon James Agalga.
Hon First Deputy Speaker to take the Chair.
Hon Member, you can start your Statement.

Mr James Agalga (NDC -- Builsa North) 11 a.m.
Mr Speaker, the supply of adequate and affordable electricity is essential for the socioeconomic development of every modern society. As Ghana's population grows and individuals everywhere strive to improve their standard of living, demand for electricity is sure to rise in most parts of the country.
Ghana has a huge potential to grow and modernize its economy and also reduce the high incidence of poverty to acceptable levels. However, one of the major challenges facing Ghana in her developmental quest is the generation of adequate and affordable electricity to meet the ever- increasing demand.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11 a.m.
Thank you.
We will now take contributions.
Alhaji Amadu B. Sorogho (NDC -- Madina) 11 a.m.
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for giving me the opportunity to comment on the Statement made by my Hon younger Brother on the essence of using nuclear as an alternative or as one of the surest ways of making energy available.
Mr Speaker, while I perfectly agree that there are several ways that we need to explore to increase our energy stock, I know that nuclear energy is not and cannot be the way forward as far as, personally, I am concerned. I am saying this because we are all aware of what
Alhaji Amadu B. Sorogho (NDC -- Madina) 11 a.m.
happened in Japan, what happened in Russia, the Chernobyl and the disaster that happened in Japan where thousands and thousands of people lost their lives. So many years down the line, we are still having the effect.
Mr Speaker, not to talk about that, I think we should be looking at other sources of generating power. Germany which used to be the frontline runner as far as nuclear is concerned, is now in one way or the other, moving away from that and concentrating on solar.
Mr Speaker, Ghana, we are blessed with abundant sunshine throughout the year. So, if and indeed, we are to look for alternative ways apart from hydro which we are not able to tap all -- Mr Speaker, you are aware that we have got so many rivers, streams, and a lot of feasibility studies have been done to the extent that it is possible for us to have smaller hydro projects generating between five and twenty megawatts to serve various communities.
Mr Speaker, we all know that. As he rightly mentioned, we need to expand our energy resources by between seven and nine per cent. He went down to seven per cent. But the actual fact is that, you need to expand it up to nine per cent if we are to catch up with demand.
Mr Speaker, Ghana has moved into the middle-income status. By the grace of the NDC Government, the single spine salary is being enjoyed across the spectrum of Ghanaian economy. Mr Speaker, you know that when you have money, your lifestyle changes. A lot of people who could not have afforded to own a fridge are now buying. Television sets are all over. Mobile phones everywhere and you need to charge them.

Mr Speaker, whether you like it or not, it has come to stay with us. I am not surprised that the President lamented rightly so, over the colossal sum that we need to spend in the public sector wage bill. A percentage of 60.9 of our money generated is used to pay wages and salaries.

What does this tell us? It tells us that we have a very long way to go and as if that is not enough, today, workers are demanding for salary increment. It could be right, it could be wrong. But the question we need to ask ourselves is whether we are working hard enough to earn that kind of salary.

Mr Speaker, as we speak today, solar energy is now taking over. In Germany, 65 per cent requirement of energy is through solar. Japan is also running away and also concentrating on solar. These countries where we have only about three to four months sunshine, are shifting away with all the advanced technologies and moving into an area where nature has abundantly given them. Why do we in Ghana have to be thinking about nuclear? It is good.

We need to think big. But I do not think this is the time to be talking about nuclear energy for Ghana. Waste to energy -- We have abundant waste around. In my own constituency, the new roads which are being constructed, go there in the evenings by 7.00 p.m.-- the heaps and heaps of garbage. We are fighting disposal sites.

In Germany, they are turning waste to energy and waste to compost, so that we can fertilize our soils to be able to grow more food.

Much as I agree with the Hon Member, it is very urgent that we look for other sources of energy. I do not think that Ghana should be talking about nuclear power energy now.

Mr Speaker, look at what is happening in Iran. Just as we talk now, there is a round-table conference -- the big powers -- the world powers are there. They have the right to own nuclear because as for them, they think rightly and so, they can control. Others may not be able to think rightly, so they do not. Even when they say that they are using it for energy purpose, they are still saying, no. So Mr Speaker, why do we want to go there?
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:10 a.m.
Hon Member, are you up on a point of order?
Mr M. M. Ibrahim 11:10 a.m.
Yes, Mr Speaker.
I get the sense that my Hon Senior Colleague is virtually criticizing the Statement the Hon Member presented. Indeed, if my Hon Senior Colleague says that we should not be thinking of nuclear energy, then we must as well throw our hands in despair and do not think of any means by which we can generate electricity or energy. I think that it is good for us to think big because that is the only way that we can come out with challenges or solutions --
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:10 a.m.
Hon Member, you can also have the opportunity to make a contribution. In the meantime, allow him to go ahead with his contribution.
Mr M. M. Ibrahim 11:10 a.m.
Mr Speaker, but I get the sense that he is criticizing the Statement --
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:10 a.m.
No! He has not specifically criticized it. He is also
suggesting alternative means. That is what he is doing. So, you will be given the opportunity to also address the issue.
Hon Member, please, proceed.
Alhaji Sorogho 11:10 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I thank my younger brother. He has to learn very fast. But I am happy at the pace which he is going. It is good.
I am not criticizing. I thanked him for the Statement. At least, it has given us the opportunity to think about other -- [Interruption.] Mr Speaker, the scientist sitting on my left side is worrying me and he does not understand why he is a scientist-- [Interruption.]
Alhaji Sorogho 11:10 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I have not mentioned his name, so I do not even see why he is up.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:10 a.m.
Hon Member, he has not addressed the Chair. I am not aware of any harassment.
Please, go ahead with your con- tribution.
Alhaji Sorogho 11:10 a.m.
Mr Speaker, in conclusion, I would want to say that there are so many other ways by which we can think of expanding our energy requirement. Nuclear power should be the last in terms of safety, in terms of the technologies involved, the cost and what have you. I think nature has been so kind to us and so, let us say, thank you to nature by exploiting what nature has given us.
We thank him very much and hope that it is opening the door for more ways to go on. I definitely support the Statement because it has given me the opportunity to also comment on this.
I thank you very much.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:10 a.m.
You did not catch my eye, so I believe --
Mr Ashie-Moore 11:10 a.m.
Mr Speaker, for your guidance, Standing Order 86 (3)-- because I could hear my Hon Senior Colleague address my Hon Colleague as ‘my brother'. But Standing Order 86 (3) -- He should be addressed by his title.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:10 a.m.
The point is well taken.
Mr Murtala M. Ibrahim (NDC -- Nanton) 11:10 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I rise to associate myself with the Statement made by my Hon Colleague (Mr James Agalga) and to state the point that energy is of cosmic concern to all of us as a people. Many people in this country are struggling just to get power to even charge their mobile phones. For some of us who represent rural constituencies, you would appreciate that energy is not just necessary but essential to the survival of people in those areas.
Mr Speaker, I travelled to a particular community in my constituency and the chief in that community told me a story that because they do not have light, it is sometimes difficult to even charge their phones to communicate and that they could only charge their phones in different communities. When one sends his phone for it to be charged, if one is lucky, the phone will return without the battery but if one is unlucky, the phone will not even return.
We can no longer insulate our basic lives with phones. Imagine, Mr Speaker, you wake up in the morning, you dress up to come to Parliament without taking your phone; it is as though part of your life is virtually de-linked.
I think that as a young person growing, I experienced the importance of energy, particularly electricity. The extent to which in Tamale we could enjoy lights was from morning till 7 o'clock, sometimes, 9 o'clock, if one is lucky and that ends it. The only way we could even read when we were in the primary school was that we used a candle, that is, if you were lucky to have a candle. Thanks to the NDC Government; I believe that we have had extension of electricity grid in this country.
Under Prof. Mills, in the last four years, we expanded it by almost 11 per cent as compared to just 8 per cent extended by a particular group of people in eight years. I think that it is important that we commend the NDC Government for that success.
Mr Speaker, I would want to suggest that inasmuch as I agree that nuclear energy is expensive and sometimes an environmental issue, it is a huge challenge. But I think that there is the need for us to think big because once we get it, we do not only use it; we also stand the chance of exporting it to our neighbours and that helps our economy.
I believe that we have the human capacity in this country to generate nuclear energy. Inasmuch as we must be looking for other sources of energy generation, it is also not out of place, that if we focus to a very large extent on generating nuclear energy, once we have the capacity, people have had so much training -- and I think that we have allowed this expertise to go waste because we think that it is expensive to venture into such disciplines.
Mr Speaker, it is also important that His Excellency the President, even in addressing us in this Parliament, indicated and admitted his personal frustrations with regard to the energy crisis we have, and that, in my view, is a giant leap in our democratic quest and development. That,
we have His Excellency the President himself indicating that he has sleepless nights because we have what my Hon Brother indicated in his presentation-- dum so dum so. I do not think that it is in the interest of all of us. So, in my view, it is our responsibility to galvanize forces together, to see how best we can overcome this challenge for the good of mother Ghana, more so, those of us who are coming from constituencies where electricity or energy is a huge challenge.
Dr Ahmed Y. Alhassan (NDC -- Mion) 11:20 a.m.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker for the opportunity to contribute to such a brilliant Statement made by the Hon Member for Builsa North (Mr James Agalga).
Mr Speaker, there is no doubting the fact that we have an energy deficit, particularly electricity in this country and all ways and means must be found to fill in the gap.
With respect to nuclear energy, let it be known and put on record that Ghana is one of the experienced countries when it comes to nuclear research, to the extent that the centre of excellence for this subject in West Africa is located in Ghana. Mr Speaker, as a privileged member of your Committee on Environment, Science and Technology, we visited the Kwabenya Atomic Energy Commission several times and I can state without any fear of
contradiction that Ghanaian nuclear scientists are ready to manage nuclear facilities that would generate electrical power. Indeed, two years ago, during the budget hearing of the Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology, it was put on record that it was possible that in the next 10 years, Ghana would have the capacity and the capability to generate electricity, using nuclear energy as a source.
Mr Speaker, this nuclear energy has lasted long in our agriculture. It has done a lot and continues to do a lot in medicine. At Korle-Bu, there are facilities that are manned by the Atomic Energy Commission, treating various ailments over there. There is nothing wrong if we can push these frontiers into the arena of generating electricity that is so essential to power our economy.
Mr Speaker, Ghana has signed up to many international treaties, conventions, instruments that guide nuclear energy management as a global commodity. Also this Parliament has taken various steps to indigenize many of these international treaties, so that we can benefit from the global research results that come from nuclear energy.
Of course, Chernobyl was very frightening. The Tsunami in Japan was also frightening. But let me say that since Chernobyl, global scientific research has advanced in the management of nuclear facilities to the extent that most of those modern nuclear plants are put underground. And that is why Iran is having difficulty with the world powers because they are using very modern techniques to manage their nuclear facilities and because it is hidden from view, the world powers are afraid that they may take the wrong decisions someday and so on.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:20 a.m.
This thing is generating a lot of interest, but we have a tall list of contributors to the State of the Nation Address. We will take two more contributions and then we will move to the State of the Nation Address.
Minister for Food and Agriculture (Mr Clement K. Humado)(MP) 11:20 a.m.
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to contribute to the Statement made by Hon James Agalga, Member of Parliament (MP) for Builsa North.
Indeed, that we have an energy gap in the country which needs to be closed, is not in doubt. I think the issue is about what method or approach should be used to close the energy gap, and the suggestion is that we can go the nuclear option.
Mr Speaker, coming from a science background myself, I fully support this Statement because the doors of science
have been opened to lead us to progress. I am aware that most of the fears about the use of nuclear energy are being driven by environmentalists who have the fear of the unknown and who fear that we are going against God's wishes.
Mr Speaker, I wish to inform the House, that we have over 500 nuclear reactors in this world, and since the establishing of nuclear reactors, there have been only serious accidents so far in the history of nuclear energy and those were in Japan, Fukushima and in Russia, the Chernobyl and the casualties associated with these accidents are very low compared to those associated with other forms of energy.
Mr Speaker, Ghana is a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and we have over the past 30 to 40 years shown that we are a worthy member of that Agency. We have regulatory frameworks done by this same House which ensure the safe use of nuclear energy. We have human resource trained over the years to manage these sources of energy. And as stated by my comrade, Hon Dr Alhassan, in Ghana here, we have been using nuclear energy for some time.
I have been to the Atomic Energy Commission and I have seen their Gama Radiation Facility which is being used for biotechnology and also for enhancement of industry, for example, in tracing faults on tanks and also used in the health industry.
Mr Speaker, I think that we should not be afraid to use science and technology because in the world, we have regulatory institutions, the IAEA and countries that affiliate with the IAEA have protocols that ensure the safe use of nuclear energy.
I, therefore, support the Statement by my Hon Member that nuclear energy should be an option for the medium and the long-term development of energy in this country.
I thank you, Mr Speaker.
Papa Owusu-Ankomah (NPP -- Sekondi) 11:30 a.m.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to make a few comments on the Statement made by the Hon Member for Builsa North in respect of energy, particularly the need for us to look at the option of developing nuclear energy as a source of power.
Mr Speaker, as you may be well aware, I had the opportunity once in my political life to be responsible for science and therefore, the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC) was part of my mandate.
Indeed, when it comes to nuclear science, I believe Ghana has made great strides and I know that some of our scientists are respected worldwide in terms of nuclear science. I also had the opportunity during my tenure to inaugurate the postgraduate course at the School of Nuclear Science on the premises of the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission.
But more importantly, political leadership in this country has also considered the option of nuclear science and during the tenure of President Kufuor, he commissioned a committee, I remember Prof Adzei -Bekoe was the Chair, to explore the feasibility of Ghana using nuclear science to obtain energy to complement our power.
So, as for that option, it is there and I believe it is for us to consider it more seriously and most importantly, given the
necessary resources. The reason science generally in Ghana seems to be lagging behind is that, it does not seem as if collectively, we have given it the importance that it deserves. At one time, I know that lecturers in our tertiary institutions were earning more than their counterpart researchers with the same qualifications and even supervising their postgraduates at the GAEC. And it was difficult, even for Government to try and bring them to the same level even though previously, researchers were earning more.
So, if as a country, we see science as a viable option, then we need to invest in research and I know that the private sector has also been collaborating with researchers. But when it comes to some of these major undertakings, it is not for the private sector to invest in it.
In the developed world, when you talk about the United States of America (USA), when you talk about the United Kingdom (UK), when research in science has to be undertaken for the benefit of the country, it is the country that bears a major part of the expense and it is only after the results have been known that the private sector collaborates with the researchers to commercialize the outcome of the research.
So, if as a House, we will consider nuclear science to be an option although probably, more expensive and less environmentally friendly, because of the risks involved, we have a committee -- [Interruption] -- the scientist is contesting what I am saying -- but that is the perception. Because of the risks associated with the disasters, we consider it more risky even though the power generated is cleaner -- Yes.
We should as a House, and with the Committee on Environment and Science, probably, have a discussion with the Minister responsible for Environment,
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:30 a.m.
Thank you very much.
Unfortunately, this brings us to the end of contributions with regard to the Statement read by Hon Agalga.
We shall now move on to the debate of His Excellency's State of the Nation Address and I will call on Hon Humado to start the debate.
MOTIONS 11:40 a.m.

Minister for Food and Agriculture (Mr Clement Kofi Humado)(MP) 11:40 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I rise to support and contribute to the Motion moved by the Member of Parliament for Mion Constituency, that this Honourable House thanks His Excellency the President for the Message on the State of the Nation delivered to Parliament on Thursday, 21st February,
In so doing, Mr Speaker, I will be commenting, first of all, on the theme of the Address and then I will move on to just two aspects of the Message and
those are on youth development and the modernization of agriculture.
Mr Speaker, the theme of the Message, “Opportunities for All” has been very captivating and sends a strong message that His Excellency the President is a caring President who puts people first and have the interest of all Ghanaians at heart irrespective of their political leanings and social dispensations. The Message which was based on four pillars was very well delivered in style, in oratory, power and I believe that this is unprecedented in the history of this House. [Hear! Hear!].
It was, in my view, a show of class by a President who is himself a great communi- cator. His message reached out to all sections of the Ghanaian society from children to the youth, to Members of Parliament, past Presidents and Governments, religious bodies, the working population and unions as well as the aged. His message was that of unity in diversity and the need for us all to focus on what unites us rather than what divides us as a country.
He touched on the continuing progress that we are all making as a nation, especially in our democratic governance credentials since the advent of the Fourth Republic. He also acknowledged and congratulated all and sundry on their contributions and efforts to make Ghana a better place than we met it.
Mr Speaker, the feed - back that I have from society after the delivery has been very positive and encouraging. His Excellency's message made many Ghanaians feel proud for having a President who is young, who is dynamic, who is dedicated and committed to the cause of improving this nation. Many feel encouraged by his style of delivery and leadership.
Mr Speaker, the only reservation that I have and which has been expressed by the majority of Ghanaians I have
interacted with, is the conspicuous absence of our Minority Members of Parliament during the delivery. I know the matter is subject to debate but I will leave the merits of this action to the general public who are the better judges in this matter.
Mr Speaker, I would now want to turn to youth development. Mr Speaker, the message of His Excellency stated that the youth are today's leaders and not tomorrow's leaders and this statement is what I support very fully. We all know, as a House and as Ghanaians, of the power of the youth. When the youth are disgruntled and misguided, they can undertake actions that can destabilize the progress of any nation.
We have seen this in the northern African countries of late. In Tunisia and in Egypt-- and we know that the youth of any country deserve special attention, they need to be sensitized, they need to be trained to become nationalistic, they need to be trained to become patriotic and to contribute towards nation-building.
It is in this regard that I find His Excellency's Address on that day, very, very encouraging to the youth of Ghana. Specifically, he stated that he would launch a 10-million Youth Jobs Enterprise Development Fund to encourage and support young people to become successful entrepreneurs and create sustainable jobs.
He also indicated that he would establish job enterprise centres in all regions to help unemployed youth and those about to enter or prepare for the world of work.
He also mentioned the development of youth centres in districts in all regions to help unemployed youth to facilitate youth meetings, interactions, cultural pro- grammes, conferences and inputs into the District Assembly deliberative mechanism.
He also stated that he would revamp all youth leadership training institutes and utilize them for year-round training of youth in leadership and other national nation-building curricular.
Mr Speaker, these are very strategic and critical statements of His Excellency the President and I believe that if the youth of this country position themselves in a way to partner with the sector Ministry, that is the Ministry of Youth and Sports, for the implementation of the laudable ideas and intentions of the President, I believe that we shall make progress in this country. And I believe that the youth of Ghana would be given a voice to take part in the decision-making processes of this country.
Mr Speaker, I would now want to turn to His Excellency's message on accelerating the modernization of agriculture in order to create jobs, especially, along the value chain.
This statement clearly implies that the agricultural sector and the Ministry must play a lead role in creating jobs for the youth of this country, especially jobs in the value chain of agriculture.
Mr Speaker, the jobs that must be created needs to be targeted to what the graduates of secondary schools and of tertiary educational institutions have studied. Just last week, I was on a tour of some commercial rice farms around the lower Volta and also some edible oil factories and other projects in the North. I was gladdened to note that such an
Mr Albert Adongo (NDC -- Bongo) 11:50 a.m.
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to speak to the Motion ably moved by the Hon Member of Parliament for Mion (Dr Alhmed Y. Alhassan), that this Honourable House thanks His Excellency the President for coming to this House to deliver the State of the Nation Address.
In thanking His Excellency, President John Dramani Mahama, I must say, like my Hon Colleagues have said, that this State of the Nation Address has been one of the most comprehensive State of the Nation Addresses ever delivered in this House and I think that he did a good work

in covering every aspect of our national life. I must commend him for standing strong for one and a half hours delivering his detailed State of the Nation Address and I urge my Colleagues that we should thank him for this effort and throwing more light on what his Government is going to do for the good people of this country.

In making my contribution, I would limit myself to just some few areas and I will start with expanding infrastructure.

His Excellency dealt with the topic of road infrastructure in this country very well. I think that he mentioned roads across the country, across the regions-- the central, eastern and western corridor roads and you will agree with me that these are very important roads for this country and if we are able to get them done properly, I think that it will bring a lot of benefits to the people of this country.

We complain about the movements of goods and services from one place to the other, particularly the movement of farm products from rural areas to the urban areas and vice versa The poor movement of such goods and services has resulted in the high cost of some of these products to the disadvantage of most of the people in this country and particularly the poor.

So, with improved road infrastructure, I am sure that it will be the people of this country that will benefit tremendously from it and particularly, those poor people in the urban and rural areas. To mention just a few, the Kpando-Worawora-Dambai road was mentioned, Nsawam-Suhum- Apedwa road -- these are very important road links to the northern sector and I think that with these coming on board, I can see the time of travel from here to the North greatly reducing. Already, we are beginning to see the benefit of that on
Mr Albert Adongo (NDC -- Bongo) noon
the Kumasi-Techiman-Kintampo stretch that I use all the time. We now do in a much less time than we used to do when the roads were in a bad shape. These are roads that are not only dear to the people of those localities but these are national roads and I think that the Government should work hard to ensure that such roads are completed in good time.
The Navrongo-Tumu road, I know it is under construction and I believe that, that is also an important link from the east to the west of the Upper Region and I will urge that the Minister will also begin to look at the Tumu to Wa road. I believe that if such a link is also added, as early as possible, to the programme, that will help the northern, particularly the Upper Regions.
His Excellency also talked about expanding the port infrastructure. This country's ports were constructed far back, around independence and the pre- colonial era. What we realize in the country's ports now is that, they are gradually getting difficulties in handling ships that call at the ports because the harbour draughts, what we call the depths of water in the harbour basins are not that deep enough to take vessels that are now coming in modern vessels are much bigger and they require deeper depths of water to be able to go into our ports.
Already, the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) has carried out some dredging but there is a limit to which you can dredge a harbour basin because the more you go, it will have an effect on the stability of the structures within the harbour area. Technically, it is not feasible for the GPHA to continue to dredge the
harbour basin. It is, therefore, good news that His Excellency has issued a directive. With that, they will look for a location around Takoradi for the building of a new harbour and I think that this is welcome news, particularly also that we are now an oil producing country and the vessels that come in for oil are very large ships.
These ones, once in a while, may need to call at our ports even though they will normally call at the loading points to pick oil, sometimes, they need to enter the country's ports to deal with, maybe, a situation related to them having to do some work on their vessels. So, we should have the capacity to receive such vessels when there is the need for them to enter our country's ports. And so, having an additional deep draught port in the country, is welcome news.
His Excellency did not also leave out the water sector and I am happy that the President, only yesterday visited the Kpong Water Works to inspect ongoing works there. That was started about two years ago under the NDC Government, under late Prof John Evans Atta Mills; he realized that there was the need for that sector to receive a lot of investment-- to move investment in the sector fast, so that we can deliver water to the good people of Accra and Tema.
Indeed, this project is progressing and it is expected that it will deliver 80 million gallons of water a day in addition to the existing capacities that we have. I commend the President for not only making a statement in this House about improving water infrastructure but he has moved ahead to ensure that the work is ongoing and that it will be done in earnest for us to have the reliefs that we are looking for. I believe that in about two years' time, the “Kufuor gallons” phenomena will definitely be a thing of the past.
I also know other urban systems are being rehabilitated; the Kumasi system is receiving serious rehabilitation, the Tamale-Bolgatanga and all around, water systems are receiving major rehabilita- tions and I am sure they will all contribute to the delivery of potable water for the people of this country.
I will not leave out rural communities where I come from. I come from a rural constituency and I know Government is doing a lot, providing boreholes to rural communities to alleviate their suffering. Some communities have to go more than one mile to draw potable water and that is not acceptable. I believe that more of such facilities will be added to ease the burden on the people of the rural areas.
Mr Speaker, His Excellency also talked about the mining sector and recognises that the sector offers employment for our youth. But he also said that the way the mining sector is being handled is causing a lot of damage to our environment and that is a fact. I think that the sector will need to be properly controlled.
The various agencies that these activities, particularly galamsey is impacting on, should be able to put themselves together to fashion out regulations that will ensure that, yes, we can exploit our gold, but we can do it in a manner that protects the environment. I think that that can be done. I will not agree with anybody who says that we should drive away our young men who are doing galamsey; we cannot drive them away.
We should put in place strong regulations that will ensure that where they degrade the environment, the environment is immediately put back to
life. Their activities are degrading forests, but the land can be reclaimed and trees planted. They are also causing damage to our water bodies and that can be controlled.
If their operations are well engineered, I think that there would be controls that would prevent them from washing directly in river basins and also other flowing water bodies.

I think that we critically would have to call on the agencies that are affected, particularly the Forestry Commission, the Minerals Commission, the Lands Commission and the Water Resources Commission, to see how they can team up to put in place the right measures, so that galamsey can be carried out but would be done in a manner that would not cause a deterioration of our environment.

Mr Speaker, His Excellency the President also mentioned that he would ensure that the country's laws work by driving away foreigners who are in the galamsey operations, and I think that this is a welcome message for the youth who are already fighting with some of these foreigners over galamsey areas. I think that this is a right directive and foreigners who have the capacity to invest in the sector should be going much deeper rather than struggling with our young guys on the surface mining activities.

Mr Speaker just to mention a little on the Savanna Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) -- he also mentioned SADA -- I have already seen what SADA is doing for the northern sector of this country. Many of the youth have had employment under the SADA programme to do afforestation and I think that that is a very laudable idea.
Minister of State for Public Private Partnership (Alhaji Abdul-Rashid Pelpuo((MP) noon
Mr Speaker, I also beg to support the Motion ably moved by the Hon Member for Mion (Dr Ahmed Yakubu Alhassan). And in doing so, let me emphasize that the foundation of the presentation of the State of the Nation Address by the President is in fulfilment of article 67 of the Constitution, which requires that the President appears before the House at the beginning of every Session of Parliament to deliver a message on the state of the nation.

Mr Speaker, the Constitution is very deliberate, it has an intentional clause in reference to that, which requires the President to perform this very important duty. It requires that he gives an overview of exactly what the state of the nation is. So, Parliament, which is supposed to be the forum for this very important act would require Members of Parliament to therefore, speak to it, and it is in accordance with this that I am also speaking.

Mr Speaker, in this respect, it is expected that this single-one State of the National Address would require all of us to now speak to it. Whether we are against it or not, that contribution must happen on the floor of Parliament.

Mr Speaker, the state of the nation is founded on the approach to development by the NDC which is built on our social democratic principle and that principle requires that we pursue our policy agenda within the confines of the law regarding the democracy that we are all practising.

Mr Speaker, in doing so, the human person becomes the centre and the President was very clear in that presentation, that the Ghanaian is the centre of the policies that we are pursuing, especially in the pursuit of social policies -- policies that have to deal with social projects such as housing, health, education, and the general development of the person.

Mr Speaker, it is in this regard that the President was very extensive in discus- sing education in what we have to do to ensure that the policies in education would strengthen our educational institutions, go back as far as to the kindagarten and give them an outlook that would support everybody, all young people, all growing up children to have a head start.

Mr Speaker, again, it is important for us to take note that in doing so, we cannot afford to forget about the health of the person and so, all these policies are built around the person. Mr Speaker, we cannot have anything better than that, and we cannot have a President who would not think about the people of this country. It is the reason, to start with, Mr Speaker-- We think that the President has hit the nail right on the head.

He has demonstrated a lot of commitment; he has shown that he can move the country to a better Ghana and he has shown that he can increase the frontiers of our development and make us a better people in the next four years.

Mr Speaker, the place of interest to me, mostly, is about the development of the private sector. More and more, the government budget can no longer satisfy all the things that we would want to do. We have huge demands on the budget -- we have to construct roads, we have to increase our energy supply, we have to provide hospitals, we have to do all the things that would make our lives comfortable in this country and also increase development.

Mr Speaker, it is not easy to do all these things within the confines of our budget and so, the need for us to strengthen the private sector to be able to generate more income from domestic resources is paramount. And so, ensuring that we have a strong, viable, participatory private sector is crucial. Mr Speaker, this is where I think that this new thinking, this thinking which had never been given the kind of strength and drive in this country, is crucial and requires all of us to support.

Mr Speaker, in our Private Sector Development Strategy II which we are pursuing in accordance with our

manifesto and also in accordance with our development strategy, we would be able to strengthen the private sector. We would give them support in various ways. First of all, it is important that we set up a venture capital which would allow young businesses to come in, to be able to take money from it and be able to invest in their dream and be able to get going in their investments.

Mr Speaker, this would ensure that we bring efficiency and drive from the private sector into the public sector. It would also ensure that we derive capital and equity from the private sector to strengthen our approach to developing this country, using individuals who are not necessarily from the public sector.

Mr Speaker, it is important that we put the records also straight. At the time we took over this administration in 2009, on the World Bank's ease of doing business in this country, as mentioned by the President, we were 92nd in the world. Mr Speaker, four years hence, we are 63rd. We are not going to stop there; we are going to push forward this drive to a greater length.

I am happy that the President has agreed to be the leader of this drive because the advisory sector, the Private Sector Advisory Council has been commissioned with the President himself being the Chairman. So, he is leading the drive and he has located Private Sector Development in the Presidency.

Mr Speaker, you cannot have any more serious approach to the private sector development as that. And I am happy that today, we are changing the face of the private sector, we are going to put more confidence into business and we are going to help them to be part and parcel of our development process.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:10 p.m.
I hope the Hon Member would not continue dressing me up in borrowed robes.
Alhaji Pelpuo 12:10 p.m.
Mr Speaker, the number of Ghanaians who were connected, as was
also captured by the Hon Member who made the Statement this morning, were only 15 per cent who were connected to the electricity grid. By 2000, when we handed over power, Mr Speaker, we had got up to 43 per cent, and that was a 28 per cent jump.
Between 2000 and 2009, the period when we were absent in the administration of governance in this country, Mr Speaker, we had only 11 per cent increase in electricity supply. In 2004, when the people of Ghana thought that there was the need for us to come back to do the good things we had been doing, now Mr Speaker, we have added on to it another 18 per cent connectivity. It shows commitment; it shows that we are different; it shows that we are a social democracy and it shows that given the chance, we can do more.
Mr Speaker, in the present situation where we have an only one-sided debate about this State of the Nation Address, we are calling on Ghanaians to see the difference; to see that there is no worthy alternative now in this country to take over the reigns of power. We are ensuring that we would make a big difference again, come the end of these four years. Mr Speaker, we would be calling on Ghanaians once again, to make a judgment.
Those of us who are here and know that every decision taken by the President in accordance with the decisions outlined and the policy statements outlined in the State of the Nation Address are important and will have lasting consequences, not transient consequences. We are the people debating it; we are the people going to provide the energy supply; we are the people going to construct the roads; we are the people going to construct the schools; we are the people going to construct the health centres and the
hospitals. Mr Speaker, we are the people going to determine the future of this country. You cannot give this power to people who have excluded themselves from this. Mr Speaker, it is the reason we are calling on all of us to see what we are doing as important, as crucial, as a commitment that you cannot underrate and we are asking everybody, all Ghanaians to see the difference now.
Mr Speaker, with these few words, I thank you for the opportunity.
Alhaji Ibrahim D. Abubakari (NDC -- Salaga South) 12:10 p.m.
Mr Speaker, Before I commence, let me welcome our Hon Colleagues from the other side into the Chamber, coming to participate fully in this State of the Nation Address. It is very good for them to participate. So, they are welcome to the Chamber. Participation does not necessarily mean that they would talk; they can also sit down and observe and nod their heads in approval or disapproval. So, it is very good they sit down to participate in this debate on the State of the Nation Address.
Mr Speaker, thank you very much for this opportunity and let me also thank the Hon Member of Parliament for Mion for moving this important Motion and the Hon Member for Biakoye for seconding it.
Mr Speaker, I would want to thank the President very much for the commitment that he has stated in the Message on the State of the Nation to move the “Better Ghana Agenda” forward for the betterment of all Ghanaians.
Mr Speaker, from the Message on the State of the Nation, you could see that the President is fully committed to
whatever he has said and this can be re- iterated at page 2, where he said, and with your indulgence, I beg to quote:
“I am fully conscious of the expectation of all our people and I pledge to work with a sense of urgency and remain sincere and truthful at all times.”
And then he went further to say that:
“I will work hard to place us on the right path, and I will lead us over the hurdles and past the obstacles that might threaten to keep us from meeting (all) our goals.”
Mr Speaker, this is a remark of a person who is very truthful and sincere and committed in leading his people to the promised land.
Mr Speaker, a lot has been said about the State of the Nation Address, more particularly the four pillars, that is, first, putting the people first and in this area, they talk about education, healthcare and social security, et cetera. The second pillar -- building a strong and resilient economy, which talks about the stabilizing and consistently maintaining the macro- economic factors such as interest rates, inflation, exchange rates, et cetera. Then he talks about the expansion of infrastructure. Here we talk about the roads, railways, sufficient and efficient energy, stable water supply, et cetera.
Mr Speaker, permit me to talk about the fourth pillar, which is transparent and accountable governance. In fact, the vision and the policy of the President would not have been completed if this particular pillar had not been mentioned. Mr Speaker, why did I say so? Currently, in our political dispensation, the nation has abundant democracy, in fact, more than we needed.
Alhaji Ibrahim D. Abubakari (NDC -- Salaga South) 12:20 p.m.
The democracy we have witnessed is so much in abundance that anybody can do or say anything. Permit me to quote somebody who said: “Even the idiot can go to the court.” That is the type of democracy we are having.
However, Ghanaians are now yearning for transparency, accountability and probity in their governance system and therefore, it is very wise that the President has taken that one on in his policy outline. The citizens want to know whether the process of activities or transactions being conducted in the country are transparent enough and whether we, the politicians or those holding the public sector are accountable for our deeds, and whatever we have done.

Hence, my delight that the President has outlined in his policy and vision, the necessary need for accountability and transparency in the governance system.

Mr Speaker, let us see some of the policies that the President outlined. First and foremost, is the electoral system. The electoral process was transparent, fair and free. When one goes to page 10, Mr Speaker, permit me to quote what the President said:

“As noted earlier, we have just come out of an historic election which witnesses progressive reforms including the use of biometric voters' register and biometric verification for voting which has been acclaimed by both domestic and international observers as free, fair and trans- parent.”

He made us know that we are not satisfied; we are always moving forward. As a result, he is ready to release more

resources to the Chairman of the Electoral Commission and his office in such a way that they can improve upon what we have achieved so far.

Then, he went further to talk about the participation of a citizen-based community that will also ensure the monitoring and evaluation of public policies and programmes. All these go to emphasise the accountability and the transparency in the process of governance in this country. We all know the important role that the civil society has been playing in the country.

Then, he went further to talk about freedom of worship, promotion of peace and coexistence. These would ensure trust among the various religious bodies and that can avoid what is happening in other countries.

Then we talk about the role of traditional institutions. This will also strengthen and promote accountable governance. The role of the National House of Chiefs-- and one can see that he has also appointed a new Hon Minister for Chieftaincy and Traditional Affairs who would co-ordinate to ensure that there is participation between the traditional chiefs and the Hon Minister on one hand and the Government and the traditional ruler on the other hand.

Mr Speaker, beyond all these, he talked of decentralisation. And I am very happy that he said decentralisaiton started at the presidency. And one of the things which he has introduced, which is very important, in my view, is that, there will be rotation of Cabinet meetings between Accra and the other regions. This is unprecedented. I think it is going to improve upon the governance of this country.

This would allow millions of Ghanaians to participate, millions of Ghanaians to observe how Cabinet meetings are being conducted and they can also approve and ask so many questions to ensure transparency and accountability to the people that have elected us to govern.

Mr Speaker, in the State of Nation Address, he went further to show those institutions that can enhance these transparency and accountability. Among them, he mentioned Parliament, the role of the media, civil society organisations and even the justice system. Of all these, the most important to me, is the role of Parliament.

Mr Speaker, Parliament has a major role of oversight. Whether Parliament has played that role or not, is one of the major things that can ensure accountable government. Why is it that the Public Accounts Committee is being headed by the Opposition? This is just to ensure oversight. And oversight can ensure accountability that can also reduce or minimize corruption in the system.

This is why I am sad that my Hon Colleagues are not participating fully. This is because this oversight role can be played well when they are also included in contributing to debate. The two important Committees-- the Subsidiary Legislation and the Public Accounts are being headed by them. If they are not participating in these things, how can we move the country further in the oversight role? [Interruption.] I thought we were debating; that is very nice.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:20 p.m.
Hon Member, please, address the Chair.
Alhaji Abubakari 12:20 p.m.
Thank you, Mr Speaker.
So, in his Address, Mr Speaker, permit me to quote -- “A lot of facilities and amenities are going to be made for Parliament.” At least, by June, our offices would be ready. We would move into the
offices. Resources would be released to Parliament. And what is most important, in my view, is the recognition of Committee Chairmen and Ranking Members as stated in the State of the Nation Address. At least, this is also unprecedented, that Committee Chairmen and Ranking Members are now going to be well recognised to the level that they contribute so much to the oversight role, at least, to enhance accountability and transparency in the country.
Now, the media is accepted as the fourth arm of Government and I think the President did not leave that out. He said that the media have a role to play. He would make sure that a lot of resources are given to the media. He would make sure that all those legislations -- the Bills -- that have to be passed -- will be passed, so that the media can also contribute their quota to enhancing transparency and accountability in this country. He talked about civil society and the judiciary too, that a lot of resources will be released to them for them to help us.
So, Mr Speaker, what I am trying to say is that, I am actually sad that our Hon Colleagues -- I wish they could rescind their decision -- because we have a lot of experienced persons there. And I am welcoming the Hon Minority Leader, who is my role model, and can contribute a lot to this debate, at least, to help us to go on. When the President was speaking, he talked of an inclusive government. We need them in the country, please.
Our President talked of an inclusive government, which includes everybody. They must also play a role to ensure that we all develop this country. So, they must play their part, at least, in developing the country. So, Mr Speaker, I am urging them to rescind their decision; come back-- [An Hon Member: It is not part of the State
Mr David Tetteh Assumeng (NDC -- Shai Osudoku) 12:20 p.m.
Thank you, Rt. Hon Speaker, for the opportunity to contribute to the State of the Nation Address delivered by His Excellency, President John Dramani Mahama, the elected President of the Republic of Ghana and Commander-in-Chief of the Ghana Armed Forces and the Chief Manager of the economy of Ghana. -- [Hear! Hear!]
Mr Speaker, the Address was full of hope. And in my view, it was unfortunate that on the day of the Address, some papers were span into the atmosphere describing some persons as “Stealers”. Mr Speaker, in my opinion, it is only an idiot that will refuse to see the wisdom in the Address that was delivered by the President -- [Hear! Hear!].
Mr Speaker, the Address was full of achievable projects and I am very happy that the President mentioned that there is going to be the construction of a district hospital in Dodowa. So, the people of Dodowa are very grateful to the President. That is why I am saying that it is only an idiot that will refuse to acknowledge --
Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:20 p.m.
Hon Member, please, avoid using the word “idiot”.
Mr Assumeng 12:30 p.m.
Mr Speaker, the word is not being challenged by anybody, so I believe that it is -- [Laughter.]
Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:30 p.m.
I am advising you to avoid using it.
Mr Assumeng 12:30 p.m.
Mr Speaker, I would have to take your advice and manage my words.
I am saying that the Address was full of hope and I believe that this country must move forward in the right direction.
On good governance, it is expected that Parliament will play its role to move this country forward and that is where I am worried that if care is not taken, the image of Parliament would be sinking. When the image of Parliament gets down, then the trust of the people in the institution of Parliament would be betrayed.
Mr Speaker, not quite long, not quite too far away, we saw what happened in Greece where the people actually lost trust in the political leaders. Is that what we are expecting in this country, that the people's confidence in the people in Parliament should be derailed? I am just sounding caution to all of us, that we must move the democracy of this country forward and that is the reason I am grateful that the Address delivered by the President was in line.
Mr Speaker, the issue of projects to improve upon the economy of this country was mentioned several times in the Address, and I am happy that the issue of the Accra Plains Irrigation Project was also mentioned. This project has been on the drawing board for so long a time and I am happy that the President has mentioned that this project is going to take off; it is going to see the light of
day. The people of Shai Osudoku would be grateful and would continue to acknowledge the vision of the President.
Mr Speaker, may I pay glowing tribute to the late President J.E. Mills, whose vision culminated in the rehabilitation of the Job 600 building. I would want to recommend that a wing of the Job 600 be named after the late President J.E. Mills. [Hear! Hear!] In my opinion, he has done a lot. I am saying a wing because the building was put up by the first illustrious son of the land, and so, I believe that his name should also be attached to the other wing of that building.
But we should go further. Lately, the new block here was also constructed by former President Kufuor. I also recommend that that wing be named also after former President Kufuor, so that leaders of this country would begin to offer their services selflessly to the development of this country.
Mr Speaker, I am also happy that the issue of corruption has been mentioned and may I use this opportunity to advise or urge the Committee on Government Assurances in this House to take the statement or the Address and itemise the promises in the Statement, so that at the end of the year, we would be able to judge the achievements of the Government by the indicators that we would outline.
So, the Chairman of the Government Assurances, Hon Bedzrah -- I am urging him to take this issue up because we want to see concrete achievements at the end of the tenure of this Address.
Mr Speaker, I am also happy that the President mentioned zero tolerance for drug trafficking and I think that it is a very
bold statement that has been made. I would want to urge all of us to be mindful of this statement. All of us be mindful of the statement made by the President, that there will be zero tolerance for drug trafficking.
Mr Speaker, let us all join hands to thank the President for the eloquent manner in which he delivered the Address. While I was here I had calls from certain areas asking whether the President was a magician and wondered -- I mean, how he was making the speech. I mean people were just at a loss. This shows that the President is IT compliant and I think that we need to give him the necessary urge, the necessary push.
Mr Speaker, I believe that this President is ordained. [Hear! Hear!] That this President that we have is ordained, so let us give him all the necessary assistance.
The rate of development in this country is not moving as expected, and there is a need for us to give it a boost, so that people in the rural areas will get water to drink. I am happy that through the vision of this Government and for that matter, the past Government, huge investments have been made in the water sector.
These are leaders that are expected to rule this country if we want to take giant steps in the development agenda of this country. So, I would want to urge of all us to team up and give the necessary support to His Excellency the President John Dramani Mahama and the Government to move this country faster towards progress.
Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity.
Mr Samuel O. Ablakwa (NDC -- North Tongu) 12:30 p.m.
Thank you very much Mr Speaker. I am glad to associate myself with the Motion ably presented by the Hon Member of Parliament for Mion (Hon Dr Yakubu Alhassah), that this House thanks His Excellency President John Dramani Mahama for the very brilliant delivery of the State of the Nation Address.
Mr Speaker, it is very interesting to observe that this particular State of the Nation Address was historic in many respects. I noticed that this is the first time that we have had a President produced by this august House in the Fourth Republic. This was the first State of the Nation Address by a former Hon Member of Parliament in this Fourth Republic, who served competently for 12 good years.
The second historic observation I made was that this is the first time we have had a President who was born in Ghana and not the Gold Coast, presents the State of the Nation Address in this Fourth Republic. This, certainly, is very encouraging and motivating for young people everywhere in Ghana and beyond the shores of Ghana.
The third history that was made was that this is the first time a President delivering a State of the Nation Address has used a teleprompter in this august House.
Mr Speaker, the presentation itself was without doubt very comprehensive, very elaborate. He spoke on the four pillars that he says direct his vision for this country. Building a strong economy, investing in people, expanding infrastruc- ture and governing in transparent and accountable manner.
Mr Speaker, I also noticed that the Address was very rallying, it was unifying, and it was indeed, an Address by a Statesman. [Hear! Hear!] No wonder Mr Speaker, that when a former President of the Republic of Ghana, His Excellency John Agyekum Kufuor was asked about the speech recently, he praised President Mahama highly and said that he is no doubt a great communicater and he indeed, waxed lyrical in the presentation of the State of the Nation Address.
Mr Speaker, I could not but agree more with His Excellency President John Agyekum Kufuor, for that very brilliant assessment of the President's State of the Nation Address.
I also observe that the Address itself was very inspirational. It was no wonder, that immediately after the Address, everybody in the House gave the President a standing ovasion. I, indeed, have been motivated by the President's clarion call to us that “despair is not an option and we shall not make excuses.”
Mr Speaker, I wish to touch on five sectors of the President's State of the Nation Address, beginning with the role of the Electoral Commission in Ghana's democracy. I, observe that the President spent substantial time on the conduct of the 2012 elections. On page 1, the President said and with your permission, I beg to quote:
“Mr Speaker, our recent Presi- dential and Parliamentary elections have been adjudged by both domestic and international observers as by far the most credible, transparent, free and fair since 1992. This shows that each step of our democratic journey has been marked by improvements. As Ghanaians, we must be proud of this achievement.

Mr Speaker, the Electoral Commission (EC) must take much of the credit for this feat; since our return to constitutional rule in 1992, the EC has organized six successful elections. They have conferred victory where victory was due without fear or favour in the critical periods of 2000, 2008 and 2012. Our EC has earned, in the process, an enviable reputation as arguably one of the best electoral institutions on the African Continent.”

Mr Speaker, the President continued on page 21 to pay glowing tribute to the Electoral Commission and he indicated that he will as President continue to resource this Electoral Commission to carry out its reforms and programmes.

Mr Speaker, the President made reference to international observations about local and international observer reports about the 2012 elections. I intend to just give one line quotations of a few of these reports --

Mr Speaker, the Coalition of Domestic Election Observers (CODEO) in its report on the 2012 general elections stated, and with permission, I beg to quote:

“CODEO can confidently confirm that the results of its PVT are consistent with the official presi- dential results announced by the Electoral Commission. The PVT data's rank order of the presidential candidates in terms of their share of the votes is similar to the official EC results.

This gives CODEO the confidence that the results of the 2012 presidential polls declared by the Electroal Commission are generally

an accurate reflection of how Ghanaians voted in the December, 7 polls.”

Again, the African Union Observer Mission's report signed by His Excellency Olusegu Obasanjo also stated and with permission, I beg to quote:

“Based on its observations and assessment, the African Union Observer Mission concludes that the 7th December 2012 General Elections in the Republic of Ghana were conducted in a peaceful and credible manner and was largely a reflection of the wishes and aspirations of the people of Ghana.

Signed, H.E. Olusegun Obasanjo.”

Mr Speaker, again, the Commonwealth Observer Group, which is also one of the highly respected international institutions also stated and with your permission, I beg to quote:

“Party agents were present in virtually all stations, providing for transparency and accountability.

The vote count at the polling stations was transparent, with party agents able to follow the process closely. This was also the case during the tabulation process. At the polling station level, party agents were able to get a copy of the results and could therefore check and verify the results later tabulated and announced at the constituency and national levels.

Results from polling stations and constituencies were also broadcast extensively on TV, radio and online, enabling people to follow on an ongoing basis as the final results of the 2012 elections were calculated.”

This is the Commonwealth Observer Group.
Mr Samuel O. Ablakwa (NDC -- North Tongu) 12:50 p.m.
Mr Speaker, I will refer to the last group report and this is the European Group report and this report was signed by Madam Catherine Ashton, who is the Permanent Secretary at the European Union. She wrote--
“I welcome the peaceful conduct of the Presidential and Parliamentary Elections which took place in an open, transparent and competitive environment.”
In coordination with the Ghanaian authorities, the European Union has sent an electoral expert mission, which will stay in the country until the end of the electoral process. I would like to commend the Electoral Commission of Ghana for its impartial and overall professional management of the process.
Mr Speaker, it is clear from my readings that, everybody from CODEO to all the international observer groups, who observed and monitored the 2012 parliamentary and presidential elections have given this election a clean bill of health. It is important for everybody to note that sections of Ghanaians who want to doubt the credibility of the 2012 elections, are largely in isolation and they are largely in just a loud minority.
And indeed, all those who matter when it comes to these elections in terms of their reports, have indeed, accredited this election very highly.
Mr Speaker, I intend to also speak about the media. On page 23 of the President's State of the Nation Address, he spent some time in advocating for this House to as a matter of urgency, pass the Broadcasting Bill. The President also indicated that he would not hesitate at all in giving assent to this Bill once this House passes it. That was the same view he has for the Right to Information Bill.
I would want to appeal that this House takes encouragement from the President's position on these two Bills and take steps to quite earnestly work on them.
Mr Speaker, it is also refreshing to observe that His Excellency the President touched on the National Media Commission and indicated that, the National Media Commission (NMC) would receive support, so that it will enhance its operations. That they can have fairness and more offices in this country to monitor and improve the quality of broadcasting and general media practice in Ghana.

While commenting about the media, Mr Speaker, I also take delight in the fact that, the President talked about the long awaited Media Development Fund (MDF) and indicated that he is indeed, committed to ensuring that very soon, it would be operationalized. I believe this matter raises the issue about the general welfare of media practitioners.

In recent times, there have been calls for perhaps, journalists to be unionized, so that they can receive decent salaries and work in good conditions. They can also carry out their duties very well. I think all of us must support the media in ensuring that we improve their working condition.

The next item I would want to touch on very briefly, Mr Speaker, has to do with the manufacturing sector. I take a lot of delight from the President's concentration on the manufacturing sector with the assurance he gave on page 12 of the State of the Nation Address, that:

“Facilitate the establishment of an Industrial Development Fund to provide a ready resource envelope for ailing and struggling manu- facturing industries in Ghana.”

Only two days ago, Mr Speaker, I toured a number of factories in my constituency, which are really in dire stress; the Juapong Textiles Factory, the Aveyime Rice Project, the Aveyime Cattle Range and the Juapong Milk Factory. All these factories are ailing and they need resources.

That is why I take great confidence in this particular pledge, because I think that the President indeed, has made the right diagnosis of the situation and if this Fund can be established -- the Aveyime Rice Project, for example, needs only US$1.5 million, without which they would be shut down in the next two months.

The Juapong Textiles Factory needs only GH¢3.5 million according to their management. Such a fund, Mr Speaker, would help boost our manufacturing sector. It would create jobs and also strengthen our economy.

Mr Speaker, the next sector the President touched on was the railway and the port sector. Too long in this country, we have been paying lip-service to the rail sector. I remember that on page 15 of the 2000 Manifesto of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) indicated that upon coming to power, they would extend the railway line from the South to the North. That did not happen in four years.

In their 2004 Manifesto, on page 25, they, this time, said that they would extend the railway lines from the South all the way to our northern neighbours, Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger. Again, this did not happen. I am happy that the

President mentioned concrete steps which have been taken to bring confidence to railway workers and to expand the railway sector.

The next item I would want to touch on finally before I conclude Mr Speaker, has to do with the sports sector. Mr Speaker, on page 6, the President touched on the need for the Ghana Football Association (GFA), after our heartbreaking performance at the African Confederation Cup (AfCON) to re-organize the team. It is further heartbreaking, Mr Speaker, that just a few days after the State of the Nation Address, many more players continue to resign from national assignments.

We have just heard that the Ayew brothers have written that they would no longer participate in Black Star international matches. We have a long queue -- Michael Essien, Kelvin Prince Boateng and others. It is not clear if it is the issue of lack of patriotism or it is a management issue. I believe that the time has come for this House to take these matters very seriously, so that whatever the problem is, we can find a solution.

This is because, as we know, football is the passion of the nation and we cannot have a situation where some of our finest talents continue to withdraw from national assignments.

In concluding, Mr Speaker, I would like to say that, quite clearly, the State of the Nation Address was one which has been well received by every Ghanaian; it was very brilliantly delivered and I hope that this House would track the many pledges and the many commitments that the President has made, so that next year by this time, we would be able to give a report to the good people of this country on how well the President and the Executive have delivered on the promises that they made.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:50 p.m.
Hon Members, time has become our enemy. We will bring the debate temporarily to an end for now. We will continue tomorrow because we have a number of committee sittings lined up.
Hon Majority Chief Whip?
Alhaji Mohammed-Mubarak Muntaka 12:50 p.m.
Mr Speaker, without trying to challenge your ruling, I would have been very grateful if you could take two more contributions. This is because we have too long a list and I am afraid because we are ending on Friday, we may not be able to come on board with too many of our Colleagues. So, if you could take one from Hon Yaw Effah Baafi and Hon Dr. Kwabena Donkor, we would be most grateful, so that we can continue with the rest tomorrow.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, and it is with our indulgence.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:50 p.m.
Hon Majority Chief Whip, we are close to 1 o'clock and I think that time is far spent. We need to consider committee sittings as well. Tomorrow, we will make sure that -- and Hon Members, try to cut short your contributions, so that as many Hon Members as possible would have the opportunity to also contribute.
Alhaji Mohammed-Mubarak Muntaka 12:50 p.m.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, for your guidance. Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 o'clock before noon.
Mr Osei B. Amoah 12:50 p.m.
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion.
Question put and Motion agreed to.
ADJOURNMENT 12:50 p.m.