Debates of 28 Feb 2013

PRAYERS 10:45 a.m.



Mr Speaker 10:45 a.m.
Hon Members, Parliament has received a communication from the Electoral Comission on the Buem by- election and I read:
Head Office, Accra
My Ref.No. C/EC.04/SF.22/3/V.5



ELECTION 10:45 a.m.


OATHS 10:45 a.m.


Mr Speaker 10:45 a.m.
Hon Members, I have the pleasure to introduce to you members of the Committee on Legal and Parliamentary Affairs from the Parliament of the Republic of Uganda who are on an official visit to Ghana.
They are here to benchmark the implementation of the Borrowers and Lenders Act, 2008 (Act 773) and to share in the best practices in the operations of the collateral registry.
The delegation comprises the following:
Hon Mbabazi Betty
Hon Baka Stephen Mugabi
Hon Wilfred Nuwagaba
Hon Sarah Mateke
Hon Members, I, on your behalf, wish them a pleasant stay in the country and fruitful deliberations.
Hon Members, I now call on the Deputy Minority Leader, if he has anything to say in relation to the Hon Member whom I have just sworn in.
Mr Dominic A.B. Nitiwul 10:45 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I can see my Hon Colleague opposite -- the Minister for Trade and Industry laughing and giggling.

I used “or more”, it may be or not but I wish him well and welcome him to this family. But just to remind him that he is stepping into the shoes of somebody who had very good relationship with Hon Members on both sides of the divide, both the Majority and Minority and that those shoes are very big and we hope and wish him well, to be able to occupy those shoes well.

The people have reposed a lot of confidence in him by the results that he got. This is because in reading some of the results, I saw he got over 80 per cent and that is an overwhelming endorsement of the faith that the people have in him. I do hope that he lives up to that expectation and that by the time he is able to serve and finish with his term, they will remember him for the good and not for the bad side of his political career.

Mr Speaker, I would want to welcome him and wish him well and congratulate him for the fact that he has been able to pick up that seat and represent the good people of Buem; that is a route I usually pass. Together, we will work as a unit to develop our mother Ghana.

Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Dr Benjamin Kunbuor 10:55 a.m.
Mr Speaker, let me join the Hon Deputy Minority Leader to congratulate our new Member
who has added not only to the numbers of the Majority but to the numbers of the entire House. I do know that the House of Parliament, he would realize very soon, is a very exciting one. He would quickly make friends across both sides of the House; he would definitely take advantage to learn from the more experienced ones and we, as Leadership, would do all we can to support him to catch up with his Colleagues who have already had a bit of the parliamentary stint.
Mr Speaker, there would be a number of useful parliamentary tools that would assist the new Hon Member and the earlier he grabbed those tools-- in fact, he would even have the tool of the right to boycott. And as he exercises those rights, he would do that within the confines of the law in the Constitution and still be able to build very good relationship with other Members.
I certainly know the Hon Member would do well and I wish him all the best.
Thank you.
Mr Speaker 10:55 a.m.
Hon Member, on behalf of the House, once again, I also congratulate you.

Mr Speaker 10:55 a.m.
Hon Members, Correction of Votes and Proceedings, item (3) on the Order Paper.
Pages 1. . .8--
Maj (Dr) (Alhaji) Mustapha Ahmed (retd): Mr Speaker, page 2, I would like to correct the arrangement of my titles.
Mr Speaker, I am a retired Major; it is not the rank which has retired (retd); it is my person who retired and therefore, the “(retd)” should come immediately after my name. I believe same should be done for my Colleagues Lt. Wg. Cdr. Anaman (retd.) and Maj Oduro (retd.).
Maj. Derek Oduro (retd): Mr Speaker, I have had the occasion to correct the Table Office severally. Mr Speaker, this is very, very serious. We the members of the Ghana Armed Forces do not take anything for granted [Interruptions.] Why? Why? Take your time. Once a soldier-- [Interruptions.]
Some Hon Members 10:55 a.m.
Always a soldier.
Maj Oduro (retd): So what is your problem? Mr Speaker, I would want the Table Office to correct this once and for all.
My name is Hon Maj Derek Oduro (retd) [Laughter.] Yes, you are happy -- “(retd)”
Mr Speaker, “Yaw” has been added to my name. I never filled any document indicating “Yaw”. [Interruptions.] I have corrected this thing time and again. I would want the Table Office to take out the “Yaw”. Even though my name is “Yaw”, I do not know who put it there.
Mr Speaker 10:55 a.m.
Hon Member for Nkoranza North, are you “Yaw”?
Maj Oduro (retd): Mr Speaker, it is not part of my name-- [Laughter.] Mr Speaker, it is not an official name; it is not on any of my documents. My name is “Hon Maj Derek Oduro (retd)”.
Some Hon Members 10:55 a.m.
Maj Oduro (retd.): (Retired)-- Oh, Jesus Christ!
Mr Speaker, thank you.
Mr Joseph Y. Chireh 10:55 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I would want to find out from the Hon Member why he is running away from the name “Yaw”. Was it because he did something as “Yaw” which he does not want to remind him of or what?
Mr Speaker 11:05 a.m.
Hon Member, you are out of order. [Laughter.] You cannot impugn improper motive to an Hon Member of this House. [Pause.]
Page 9 --
Mr Kwame Twumasi Ampofo 11:05 a.m.
Mr Speaker, page 7, number 4-- “Kwame TwumasiAmpofo.” I was absent with permission but I have been marked absent.
Mr Speaker 11:05 a.m.
Very well.
Pages 10 - 20--
Mr Sanda N. Azumah 11:05 a.m.
Mr Speaker, page 20 (ix), the arrangement of my name should be “Mr Azumah Namoro Sanda”, not “Mrs”. [Laughter.] I think, maybe, the mistake comes from the fact that the Chairperson of the Committee has the name “Azumah”, so they think all “Azumahs” are women.
Mr Speaker 11:05 a.m.
Very well.

Hon Members, the Votes and Proceedings of Wednesday, 27th February, 2013 as corrected are hereby adopted as the true record of proceedings.

Hon Members, I have admitted two Statements for today. The first Statement stands in the name of the Hon Member for Ho Central.
STATEMENTS 11:05 a.m.

Mr Benjamin Komla Kpodo (NDC -- Ho Central) 11:05 a.m.
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to make this Statement on the Independence Day celebrations in our dear country.
Mr Speaker, one week from today, Ghana, our beloved country, will mark her 56th Independence Anniversary. In spite of the challenging circumstances in which we find ourselves as a nation, we are
delighted and therefore, grateful to the Almighty for keeping us together as one nation and in peace. On this occasion, we salute the founding fathers of the nation led by Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah, whose gallant efforts led to the attainment of nationhood for our country.
Mr Speaker, today, February 28, Ghana remembers a significant milestone in the struggle for freedom from our colonialists. We recall the Christiansborg crossroad shooting of 1948, during which our brave soldiers, Sergeant Adjetey, Corporal Attipoe and Private Odartey, laid down their lives in pursuit of freedom and justice for this country. We salute them as well.
Mr Kpodo 11:10 a.m.
There are many reasons for which we should be proud. Two key issues I would like to draw our attention to are --
a. the realization of a middle- income status; and
b. sustained democratic governance structure and practice.
Mr Speaker, my focus today is on how we have marked the annual celebration of our Independence Day (March 6) over the years. At the national level, we mark the day with a parade of school children, security service personnel and some other identifiable bodies at the Independence Square, Accra. This event is replicated at the regional, district and local community levels.
Some major celebrations, for example, “Ghana @ 50”, have been organized in the recent past to raise the national psyche and to attempt to realize some concrete
projects as legacies. While we have been largely successful in creating awareness in the citizenry, we could do much better in terms of leaving economic legacies about the annual anniversary cele- brations.
Mr Speaker, I wish to propose that Ghana adopts another approach to the celebration of her independence anniversary, which will bring advanced social, political and economic benefits to the nation on a wider scale, very much beyond what we have seen over the years. Indeed, it is intended to further the “Better Ghana Agenda” by focusing on economic development in addition to the fanfare.
The proposal is as follows:
The national annual celebration should be rotated among the regional capitals. The lot for each regional capital should be determined and communicated well in advance to enable adequate plans and preparations to be made.
A certain amount of budgetary provision should be made towards a major developmental project that will constitute a monumental legacy of that year's anniversary in the city/region hosting the celebration. Such projects could take the form of an administration block, an international conference centre, a special academic facility, a major city road, a sports complex, a tourist attraction facility, a modern market, or any significantly visible and economically viable project that will be beneficial and, at the same time, serve as a monument for the region in the very long-term.
Mr Speaker, when Ho, the Volta Regional capital gets its slot, and very soon if it is taken, it may decide to construct the long-awaited dual
Mr Kpodo 11:10 a.m.

carriageway from the new university to cross the Ho-Aflao road and we would name it that year's independence avenue.

On March 6, the President will move to that particular region and hold the national celebration. All dignitaries from home and invited foreign guests will accompany the President to that host region/city for the event.

This rotation will continue till all the ten regions (and any additional one that may be created) take their turns.
Mr Speaker, the benefits of the proposed model are as follows 11:10 a.m.
The model provides a special social and political opportunity for each region to share in the joy of marking the nation's day of glory at the highest level of State authority. The President, his Ministers and invited guests from across the world can meet with the local citizenry who would otherwise not have been able to go to Accra for that purpose. The celebration is thus brought to the doorstep of the ordinary citizen.
It also exposes and advertises the host city and region to the international community through the presence of foreign dignitaries and international media.
Economic benefits could be realized in the host region arising from immediate and follow-up business and tourist activities that may be unearthed and/or show-cased during the entire celebration period.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:10 a.m.
Thank you very much.
Hon Members, we will take three contributions from each side because we still have one more Statement and then the debate the President's State of the Nation Address. So we will take three from each side.
Mr Alexander Kwamina Afenyo- Markin (NPP -- Effutu) 11:15 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to make contribution to the Statement by Hon Member for Ho Central. One striking component about the Statement is the acknowledgement of the fact that this country has founding fathers and indeed, was led by Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah.
Mr Speaker, the recommendations so made are recommendations that I believe, if, as a country, we embrace, it is going to help an even development across the
country. For instance, Mr Speaker, Yagaba/Kubori, a constituency in this country has no single electrification project at all -- no light in the whole constituency.
I believe that if the Independence Day Celebration is decentralized, it would offer those in the various regions and districts the opportunity to bring to the attention of political leadership, in this respect, the President, specific needs of their constituencies, districts and regions, in that, it would not be because of ability to lobby, that is why a particular project is going to a particular community, region or district.
Mr Speaker, added to this, I believe that the decentralization, or this rotational celebration of our independence would also offer this country the opportunity to put the necessary records in place to make them available for the young ones who are learning from those of us in political leadership. It would surprise you, Mr Speaker, that if a student of history in this country wants to know about a Member of Parliament who served his constituency in 1969, 1957 or 1979, such a student would really struggle. It is not readily available.
If we go down to 1992, finding Deputy Ministers, Ministers and their profiles, it is really difficult to get them and I believe that if we do proper records of those who lead this country, those who serve in various capacities and make them available, it will inspire the young ones.
We do not hoist national flags. If you go to the United States of America, it is there Mr Speaker and people have a sense of pride. Some years ago, there was this introduction of Ministry of Information and National Orientation, we do not have it again.
There is no sense of national pride and I believe that this rotational celebration of Independence Day -- proposed by the Hon Member who made the Statement-- if these additional issues are added, it would go a long way to help build the Ghana we all desire.
Thank you so much, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity.
Mr Joseph Z Amenowode (NDC -- Afadzato South) 11:15 a.m.
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to contribute to the Statement on the annual celebration of our country's Independence and I would want to commend the Member who made the Statement, Hon Kpodo, for his unique suggestion of rotating the celebration among the regions.
Mr Speaker, already, we have regional celebrations of major events like the National Farmers' Day and then the National Teachers' Awards, and it is significant to know that His Excellency the President, in his State of the Nation Address, did mention that even Cabinet would be moving from region to region. So Mr Speaker, this suggestion by the Hon Member, is very opportune and we, as a nation, have to consider it.
But Mr Speaker, what is even more significant about the Statement is the day on which it is being made. Today, historically, is the day that is regarded as the catalyst that moved the independence of our country forward and that this Statement made on this day, makes it very necessary for us to look at what other events of significance led to our national independence, or what other people, apart from the few we call the founding fathers, whose statutes are at the junction of the Kotoka International Airport, that are worth remembering on our independence day.
Mr Joseph Z Amenowode (NDC -- Afadzato South) 11:15 a.m.

Mr Speaker, in my view, the true founders of this nation are those we find on the podium that day on which the President declared the independence of this country. Mr Speaker, the founders of this nation are those that we do not even remember.

So Mr Speaker, while I commend the Hon Member who made the Statement on the rotation of this important national celebration, I also would want to recommend the recognition of the true founders of our nation and that appropriate statues be made, at least, if not in the national capital, in their regions of origin, so that they also know that their children, their sons, have contributed to the making of this great nation of ours.

Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity.
Ms Sarah A. Safo (NPP -- Dome/ Kwabenya) 11:15 a.m.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, I believe that I rise to support the Statement made by the Hon Member. I think it is a Statement that is worth associating myself with and I rise to do so.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:15 a.m.
Hon Member, is it on a point of order? Do not forget these are contributions, not debates.
Mr Akandoh 11:15 a.m.
It is a clarification, Mr Speaker.
The Hon Member made mention of the fact that she believes that. So, is she really supporting or she believes and is still believing? It is for clarification, Mr Speaker.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:15 a.m.
Hon Member, go ahead with your contribution.
Ms Safo 11:15 a.m.
Very well. Thank you very much, Mr Speaker.
I believe that as we celebrate our Independence Day every year, there ought to be a redirection of how it is celebrated. That is why I believe that the suggestion made by the Hon Member is a step in the right direction.
As we celebrate our leaders and our founding members of this country, like Dr Kwame Nkrumah, Dr J. B. Danquah, Dr Busia, ex-President Kufuor -- [Uproar] -- and ex-President J J Rawlings -- [Hear! Hear!]-- I believe that they have all left good footsteps. They have all led us through a struggle and our future leaders ought to take some inspiration from them.
But as we always do it, we go to the Independence Square and then there is a march past throughout the entire celebration on that specific day. I believe that as we decentralize the celebration, our young people out there who would want Ghana to be a country that is worth dying for, a country that they would pride themselves with and rising to be leaders one day, they ought to have that personal interaction with our living past Presidents to tap their knowledge and experience.
On this note, I would want to commend our Ex-President Kuffour for setting up the JAK Foundation and we would want as many as that. We do not want them to die -- As they say it, prophets are not
hailed in their own countries unless they are dead. We would want to hail them while they are alive; we want to tap from them and that day, I believe, is the most symbolic day where they have to do that.
So, as we decentralize, we do not want a President and all ex-Presidents situated in the capital city. As one is here, the others can go to other regions and have that personal interaction. This is because when one is a President, inasmuch as one tries to be more accessible to their people, it is very difficult accessing Presidents and it might be the opportunity for those in other regions other than the capital city to have that personal interaction with them.
So on this note, I associate myself with the Statement and I commend my Hon Brother for it.
Mr Baba Jamal M. Ahmed (NDC -- Akwatia) 11:25 a.m.
Mr Speaker, at long last, I have caught your eye -- [Laughter] -- I have been struggling ever since you started taking the Seat. This is the first time I have caught your eye.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, and let me also associate myself with the Statement made by our Hon Colleague.
I think that it is important that we take note of the fact that we are over 50 years and we are always celebrating -- march- pasting and then children sometimes collapsing at the Independence Square -- all those things have always been one format and it has always been in Accra. Everything is centred in Accra. I think it
is about time we decentralized and sent it to the other regions, so that they would also have the opportunity of seeing the President take the salute, see the Hon Ministers, see all the fanfare that goes with the celebration.
Mr Ahmed 11:25 a.m.
We want those people who started it and ended it and wanted it as quick as possible to ensure that we attained this independence. So when we are remembering --
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:25 a.m.
Hon Member, yes --
Mr Afenyo-Markin 11:25 a.m.
Mr Speaker, with respect -- [Interruption] -- Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order, specifically Order
Mr Speaker, it is surprising that as we are making contributions to a Statement made by the Hon Member for Ho Central, Hon Baba Jamal is impugning improper motive to somebody's sacrifice when he was not there. If he says that some people who made sacrifices “with selfish motive” -- Mr Speaker, this is sparking a debate.
Mr Speaker, such a statement certainly sparks a debate in this Honourable House. It cannot be a mere contribution to the Statement ably made by the Hon Kpodo and I therefore rise on a point of order and seek your guidance as well. He should withdraw that statement and apologize, Mr Speaker.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:25 a.m.
Hon Member, are you in a position to identify those who genuinely contributed and those who did not?
Mr Ahmed 11:25 a.m.
Mr Speaker, it is on record that when we were struggling for independence, there were people who betrayed the cause of the people who were struggling for independence -- [Hear! Hear!] -- Some did not even want the independence to happen. So, I am saying that those people who did not want independence to happen, those people --
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:25 a.m.
Hon Member, history has it that a group of people did not want it to happen immediately, others wanted it to happen immediately. So, that is the difference. But I do not think that it connotes any selfish conduct.
Several Hon Members -- rose --
Mr Ahmed 11:25 a.m.
Mr Speaker, even if you put those -- [Interruptions] -- Please, can you be decorous enough to sit down? You have made your point; be decorous enough to sit down.
Mr Ahmed 11:25 a.m.
Mr Speaker, beside those people who wanted it later, it is also on record that we had people who even did not want independence at all -- [Interruption] -- They were people who were used by the colonial masters to delay our development. So, I am not referring to any particular group of people but I am making a general point --
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:25 a.m.
Hon Boafo, you have the floor.
Mr Boafo 11:25 a.m.
Mr Speaker, this is a gross misleading statement that some people wanted independence, others did not; he did not even mention names.
But the historical fact is that, some people wanted independence now; others wanted it later. It is not that they did not want independence -- [Interruption] -- There is a clear dist inct ion -- [Interruption] -- He should be very analytical. It is a very simplistic statement.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:25 a.m.
Hon Members, order! Order! Order!
I believe that once --
Mr Ahmed 11:25 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I am just making the point that -- [Interruption.]
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:25 a.m.
Hon Members, I think that the Statement that was made by the Hon Member for Ho Central restr icted itself to the independence anniversary of this country. And as much as possible, I would prefer that Hon Members remain within those confines. Let us not stray into degenerating this whole exercise into one of debate.
Mr Ahmed 11:25 a.m.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, for your wise direction.
I would want to continue to support the Statement made by my Hon Brother, but to say that moving the celebration out of Accra, one gives it even a national character. Concentrating it in Accra alone always creates the impression that everything is Accra. That is why it encourages the rural-urban migration -- everybody wants to come to Accra.
So, if celebrations like the Farmers' Day have proved the point that taking them to the regions can be very useful to our nation, I would want to support this Statement by encouraging the current Government to consider taking the celebration after this particular one --
because it may be too late for now, to take it out of Accra -- to encourage our youth to continue to be genuine patriotic citizens of this country.
Mr Justice J. Appiah (NPP -- Ablekuma North) 11:25 a.m.
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for this opportunity and I also thank my very, very good Friend, Hon Komla Kpodo.
Mr Speaker, in 1957, the British possession of Gold Coast became the first of a really independent black African State with a name Ghana. Mr Speaker, the old empire Ghana had been in the upper Senegal -- Niger valley area.
Mr Speaker, today is exactly 55 years when the ex-servicemens' march in Accra led to the shooting by the police on February 28, 1948. Riots broke out and a state of emergency was declared.
Mr Speaker, when my Hon Friend was making his Statement -- [Interruption].
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:25 a.m.
Are you on a point of order?
Alhaji Fuseini 11:25 a.m.
Yes, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I think there is a factual error in his presentation. He said “today is 55 years”. Mr Speaker, it is 65 years, not 55 years.
Mr Appiah 11:35 a.m.
Thank you. Sit down.
Mr Speaker, my good Friend, Hon Kpodo was not able to mention the names of the Big Six -- [Interruption] -- Yes, the Big Six. But Mr Speaker, indepen- dence was not got by only one person; it was people -- power to the people. Mr Speaker, Kwame Nkrumah and the five others.
Mr Speaker, I would mention their names 11:35 a.m.
J. B. Danquah of blessed memory, Ako-Adjei, E. Obetsebi-Lamptey, Edward Akufo-Addo, William Ofori Atta -- Mr Speaker, they were all of United Party (UP) tradition. They were detained. In fact, they did well and brought down Kwame Nkrumah from abroad.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:35 a.m.
Hon Member, I would be grateful if you would concentrate on the decentralization aspect of the Statement.
Mr Appiah 11:35 a.m.
Mr Speaker, if Ghana attained independence in 1957, why are we suffering now? The uninterrupted, unnecessary power cuts in our country, no gas, no water, petrol price increase, unemployment -- [Uproar.]
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:35 a.m.
Hon Member, you are out of order.
Mr Appiah 11:35 a.m.
Mr Speaker, Ghana is the beacon of hope for Africa -- [Uproar] -- Mr Speaker, the good Book says that, Ghana is the beacon of hope for Africa --
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:35 a.m.
Hon Member, could you begin to wind up?
Mr Appiah 11:35 a.m.
Mr Speaker, as the good Book says, Ghana is the beacon of hope for Africa. And there was an election in 2012 and -- after the election, we did not go to the street to fight, we did not use arms but we resorted to the law courts of this country, and we are awaiting the verdict of the Supreme Court. This is Ghana; the beacon of hope for Africa.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:35 a.m.
Hon Member, your time is up.
Mr Appiah 11:35 a.m.
Mr Speaker, a small -- [Interruption.]
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:35 a.m.
Your time is up, Hon Member.
Mr Appiah 11:35 a.m.
Thank you -- [Laughter.]

As an Hon Member of this House, I would want to inform Hon Members that I lost my grandaunt through the bomb which was thrown at Lucas House, Accra. That is why Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah, in memory of people like that, had his first political rally at Arena in Accra. Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah was financed, basically, by the women of Odododiodioo. [Hear! Hear!] -- Madam Aah Duah and the men who organized -- the late Sonnie Provencal and the late E. C. Quaye -- the political rally for Osagyefo Dr Nkrumah.

I totally support the Statement of Hon Kpodo in decentralizing the celebration of the independence anniversary in order that the true history of this country, would be told the youth of this country so that they will know what really happened and the need for them to value this independence and the peace and stability that we have enjoyed up till today. So that the youth of this country will know that it has taken the blood, the toil and the suffering of some people to build this

country and as such they will not allow themselves to be used by modernday politicians to disturb the peace of this country. [Uproar].

Mr Speaker, in supporting this Statement, I would say that the real picture of our independence struggle, the real history needs to be shown. Days like this, I expect that our media will focus on activities that really portray the struggle; the journey of the struggle. The youth should be given the opportunity to celebrate it, understand it, listen to it and read. This is because it is a value to our upbringing as a people.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:35 a.m.
Thank you, very much.
This brings the contribution in respect of the first Statement to a close.
Hon Members, there is a second Statement which was admitted by Rt Hon Speaker and it is by Hon Augustine Collins Ntim, Hon Member for Offinso North Constituency.
Let us unite and fight Glaucoma
Mr Augustine C. Ntim (NPP -- Offinso North) 11:35 a.m.
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity granted me to make a Statement on the menace of glaucoma.
Mr Speaker, the 6th of March has been set aside by the United Nations as the World Glaucoma Day. The World Health Organization (WHO) is alarrned about the increasing spate of blindness globally, and in most cases, glaucoma is the cause. Ghana is ranked second in world statistics for the prevalence of glaucoma. This makes the
day so pivotal in creating awareness and educating the people of Ghana on the need to have a healthy sight.
The countries that jump-started awareness activities and enlisted the active support of their governments, eye care professionals, and patients are reaping the dividends by having a reduced incidence of glaucoma. Unfortunately for Ghana, the import of such a great day is often overshadowed by our great and cherished independence day.
Mr Speaker, since Independence Day is a crucial landmark in the history of this dear country of ours, the glaucoma awareness day often passes without notice. I would suggest that Ghana should have her own Glaucoma Day.
WHO statistics show that glaucoma is now the second leading cause of blindness globally, after cataracts. While cataract is a curable disease, glaucoma, however, presents perhaps, an even greater public health challenge than cataract, because the blindness due to glaucoma is irreversible. It is now accepted globally and by the WHO that glaucoma is the number one cause for irreversible blindness.
Mr Speaker, glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that causes a progressive characteristic damage of the eye nerve called the optic nerve and that is responsible for seeing.
Although experts say vision lost from the disease cannot be restored, if patients are diagnosed early, loss of vision can be prevented. If patients already have some amount of vision loss, medication, laser or surgery can halt or slow down any further vision loss. Therefore, early detection is essential to limiting visual impairment and preventing the progression towards severe visual handicap or blindness.
Unfortunately, most cases of glaucoma do not occur with readily noticeable symptoms that warn of the irreversible optic nerve damage being done. However, the presence of the following warning signs indicate that one needs a thorough examination by an eye doctor. Unusual trouble adjusting to dark rooms, difficulty focusing on near or distant objects, blinking due to unusual sensitivity to light or glare, double vision, sudden hazy or blurred vision, flashes of light or black spots are some dangerous symptoms associated with the glaucoma disease.
The symptoms listed above may not necessarily mean that one has glaucoma. Regular eye examinations by ophthal- mologists are the best way to detect glaucoma. Mr Speaker, the most important risk factors include:
elevated eye pressure;
African ancestry;
thin cornea;
family history;
past injuries to the eyes;
steroid use; and
a history of severe anaemia or shock.
According to a recent study by researchers at the University of Michigan Eye Center, individuals with diabetes and hypertension may also have an increased risk of developing open-angle glaucoma
Worldwide statistics reveal a serious trend of the disease. Experts say 6.5 million are currently suffering from glaucoma and of this number, 2.5 million of them are women.
Mr Augustine C. Ntim (NPP -- Offinso North) 11:35 a.m.

It is estimated that 4.5 million people were blind as a result of glaucoma and that figure would rise to about 11.2 million by the year 2020.

Ghana is highly infected with the disease. Literature written by Dr Oscar Debrah, Head of the Eye Care Unit at the Ghana Health Service has it that about 600,000 Ghanaians have glaucoma and out of this figure, about 30,000 have gone blind.

In Ghana, the prevalence rate of the disease among the 40 years, is about 8.5 per cent and those above 30 years, it is about 7.5 per cent. The barrier to receiving proper eye care is enormous and therefore, there is the need for continuous effort on the part of all stakeholders to help curtail the spread of the menace.

Mr Speaker, problems like access routes to healthcare, insufficient numbers of ophthalmologists and clinical staff, financial and economic insecurity and inadequacy and shortage of medical equipment still pose serious threats to eye health delivery in Ghana.

Mr Speaker, I would want to use this opportunity to pay a glowing tribute to Himalayan Cataract Centre, an international non-governmental organisation (NGO), in the United States of America (USA) led by Professor Tabin from the University of Utah, who is an ophthalmologist and Heart Foundation and Humanitarian Air Relief, which is another NGO and Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) for their collaborative efforts to eradicate glaucoma and cataract in my constituency, the Offinso North Constituency.

Last year, the NGOs, with the help of KATH, conducted free eye screening for the people of Offinso North and out of the three thousand, five hundred people

screened, four hundred were diagnosed of cataract and glaucoma.

The Mona Eye Centre also affiliated with the Himalayan Cataract Centre was touched by this NGO and they have also entered into a bilateral agreement with KATH to train more ophthalmologists in Ghana. These NGOs have also pledged yearly support to provide free eye care screening and surgical operation to the people of Offinso North.

Mr Speaker, I wish to use the opportunity to also engage or to appeal to other NGOs to emulate the examples of Professor Tabin and Dr Kimbal of the United States of America, University of Utah.

Mr Speaker, Government intervention can help minimise the spread of these deadly eye diseases and also give hope to those already infected. The Government can waive the tax on glaucoma drugs, medicines and equipment to make treatment affordable to patients, especially the rural poor. Glaucoma drugs are very expensive and inaccessible. It would serve the interest of the greater populace if glaucoma drugs are added to the National Health Insurance Scheme drugs list.

Again, Mr Speaker, the training curricula for eye doctors and specialists as well as nurses should emphasise more on glaucoma. There is the need for a rigorous campaign aimed at sensitising the people, especially those rural folks about this silent pandemic. The eye is a very important part of the human body. Many activities cannot be well accomplished without employing our eyes to the task.

The churches, mosques, mass media, schools, health service providers, opinion leaders, and of course, the Distr ict Assemblies should come together and

wage an endless war against glaucoma. With the people of Ghana united with a common purpose behind the effort nothing should be too difficult to accomplish.

On this note, I thank you once again, Mr Speaker, for this wonderful opportunity.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:45 a.m.
Thank you very much.
Hon Members, because of the tall list of Hon Members who are going to debate the Motion with regard to the Head of State's State of the Nation Address, we would take only two from each side with regard to this particular Statement. If Hon Members turn out to be too verbose, I would be compelled to reduce it to one from each side. Let us try to be as brief as possible.
Hon Yeleh Chireh -- [Pause.] All right, Hon Member.
Mr Ebenezer O. Terlabi (NDC -- Lower Manya Krobo) 11:45 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I beg to associate myself with the Statement made by -- whether I should say my student or Colleague Hon Ntim. [Interruption.] Thank you very much once more.
I would like to say that yes, indeed, glaucoma is --[Interruption.] It is all r ight. Glaucoma is a very serious condition -- [Interruption.]
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:45 a.m.
Hon Member, is it on a point of order?
Mr Ntim 11:45 a.m.
Yes, Mr Speaker.
The Hon Member who is just trying to associate himself with the Statement made
Mr Terlabi 11:45 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I thank him very much. I recognise that I was also his senior when he came. [Laughter.]
Mr Speaker, I think glaucoma is, indeed, a very serious eye condition. But what I would want to say is that, what we can do is just to encourage the general public to go for screening. This is because it is believed that when it is detected early, something can be done about it. The basic thing is that let us encourage more of our people to go out there and have screening.
Fortunately for us, Mr Speaker, the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) and the University of Cape Coast (UCC) have a programme that trains a lot of optometrists (OD), doctors of Optometry and I believe that we have a lot of these people in the system.
However, the problem we have now is that we have a lot of these people coming out of the universities and placement is a big problem. For that matter, I would want to encourage the Ministry of Health to find a way of getting these people employed. A lot of them, though they are trying to go on their own, sometimes because they need some supervision, they go out to do their own things and sometimes some of these conditions can escape them.
But if you are taken into the mainstream or you are working under a medical officer, anytime you detect anything close to this, you would check for a second view and then we can have the condition properly
Mr Terlabi 11:45 a.m.

diagnosed and the interventions made as early as possible. I believe that when we do this, it would help minimise the problem.

On that note, I thank you for the opportunity, Mr Speaker.
Dr Kwabena Twum-Nuamah (NPP -- Berekum East) 11:55 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I rise to associate myself with the Statement made by the Hon Member for Offinso North.
Mr Speaker, glaucoma is a very difficult condition. Like the Speaker said, it affects the optic nerve and unfortunately, if it is detected very late, there is very little that can be done in such a case.
There are a lot of things that we do as people which endanger us to get glaucoma. From the statistics, we realise that most of the people who are affected are women. It is not surprising. One of the common risk factors for getting glaucoma is the use of steroids. In Ghana, most of our ladies bleach and most of the bleaching agents contain steroids. In addition, some also use steroids containing medications.
Most of the drugs which are used to enhance the weight of people also contain steroids and so, when you take such medications, in trying to increase your weight, you would also end up putting yourself at risk in getting glaucoma. So, I would want to state that we have to encourage a lot of education to ensure that most people are aware of the dangers in taking steroids containing creams and also steroids containing medications which would end up enabling us to get glaucoma.
Secondly, hypertension and diabetes also predispose people to getting glaucoma. Unfortunately, because of changes in our lifestyles these days, most
people do not walk out. We use vehicles to almost every location. Hitherto, we were walking and this was helping us to burn out the fat. We know that non- communicable diseases in Ghana like diabetes and hypertension are increasing and these are also increasing the number of cases of glaucoma. So, I would entreat the health authorities to enforce, increase the education in almost every area to ensure that the whole populace is aware of the dangers of the changes in our lifestyles.
Mr Speaker, finally, facilities for treating glaucoma in most institutions are very limited. It is unfortunate that, last week, we learnt from the dailies that an ultra- modern eye centre which has been put at the KATH cannot be used because of the fact that there is a smoke producing area just close to the centre.
I am hoping that the authorities would put in place measures to ensure that this centre would be put to good use, so that most of the populace in the northern sector in the country can access this ultra- modern facility in KATH.
Mr Speaker, I support the Statement and I thank you for the opportunity.
Mr Joseph Y. Chireh (NDC -- Wa West) 11:55 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I am very happy that the Hon Member has made this Statement about glaucoma. Glaucoma, from the contributions already made, has been defined.
We have also identified ways to resolve the problems associated with this disease. The call has been for us to do early screening and therefore, I would urge Hon Members of Parliament to liaise with the Glaucoma Association of Ghana. Every year, they organise a week of celebration and if you participate in these
activities -- you can also go and request them to launch it in your constituency or district to create more awareness.
If we are asking for screening, it requires that we provide this service as a primary service with trained personnel at the local level, the CHPS compounds level, for people who have the difficulty. The conditions, we are very well aware of, the causes, we are well aware of, but early detection would require that all trained personnel of the eye diseases should be stationed at the primary health level. And I am urging that all this can be done if we have a proper identification of the personnel that must regularly be stationed at these places.
Regular again, in terms of the senior personnel that we cannot get to provide services at this local level, we can get them on periodic basis to go and do what a number of you already get yourselves involved in. You can organise them; you would go as he is saying. You would have to support sometimes with your Common Fund or your National Health Insurance Levy Fund to organise the people to go and do proper treatment of the people who suffer from these conditions.
Every time we are talking about Ghana Government doing something, but the corporate sector of our nation has a responsibility. On this note, I can say that ECOBANK, a few years ago, if not last year, did a very wonderful job by supporting the activities of the Glaucoma's Association and I would urge many more corporate bodies to support this laudable efforts that individual disease, association or society tend to bring to the attention of Ghanaians.
In my view, all of us need to screen every year. In fact, I can tell you that when I walk and interact with some Hon Member, I can see that they have symptoms of glaucoma --
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:55 a.m.
Hon Member, can you start winding up?
Mr Chireh 11:55 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I am winding up.
So, when we do have the health checks -- [Laugher.] Many of you are laughing because you have seen the way I am talking and the eye sight is key, it is very important. It makes the world go round -- [Interruption.]
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:55 a.m.
Hon Member, are you up on a point of order? If so what is the order?
Mr I. K. Asiamah 11:55 a.m.
Mr Speaker, rightly so.
Mr Speaker, my Hon Senior Colleague knows that as a professional -- indeed, it does not just take looking at somebody's eyes to imagine that the physical appearance should not be the basis for him to conclude that somebody is suffering from glaucoma. There must be scientific and empirical evidence to conclude.
Arriving at such a conclusion defies all scientific logic and I would want him to indeed, understand the fact that merely looking at a person does not tell whether the person is suffering from glaucoma. It should be based on, of course, tests, studies of analysis and not just looking at somebody.
He is attacking Hon Members of Parliament and it is unfair to us, and I would want to assure him that indeed, we
-- 11:55 a.m.

Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:55 a.m.
Hon Member, your point is well made.
Mr Chireh 11:55 a.m.
Mr Speaker, he wanted to make a contribution but because you limited him, he is just taking the opportunity. [Laughter.] What did I say which is wrong? Even he, sometimes he looks --
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:55 a.m.
Hon Member, stop being personal in your approach and address the Statement that was made.
Mr Chireh 12:05 p.m.
Mr Speaker, it is because he interrupted me.
I thank you very much for the opportunity once again and I would urge all Members of Parliament, when they go for the health checks that would be part of their package, so that we continue to render services to our nation.
Again, as I said, it is important that we alert our constituents. It is very important that we have a healthy nation, and I would once again, thank the Hon Member for drawing our attention. I urge all other Members to take disease-related associations' concerns and bring them for us to get first of all, policy direction, sometimes from the contributions of Colleagues.
Thank you very much.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:05 p.m.
Hon Mem- bers, we are taking the last contribution.
Ms Ursula G. Owusu (NPP -- Ablekuma West) 12:05 p.m.
Mr Speaker, I am happy for the opportunity to associate myself with this Statement on glaucoma. Having worn glasses and suffered eye-related ailments for over 40 years, I can well understand -- [Interruptions.]
Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:05 p.m.
Hon Member, proceed.
Ms Owusu 12:05 p.m.
Mr Speaker, I can well understand the sentiments which led to the filing of this Statement. There are certain actions that we take which have unintended consequences and that include some ladies and gentlemen who also use aids to lighten their complexion
-- meaning bleaching of the skin. As the Hon Member for Berekum East (Dr Kwabena Twum- Nuamah) indicated, that also contains steroids which may predispose one to developing glaucoma.
Ignorance is a bigger disease than probably some of the ailments that we suffer. So, sustained education about some of the things we do, which could have these unintended consequences, would also help all of us prevent some of these things by behaving in a manner which would protect us from those conditions.
Mr Speaker, early detection is also needed, and that can only arise if we have regular testing. Unfortunately, we do not have the facilities for that spread across the whole nation widely. So, many people are suffering from these eye diseases which ought not to be. I would encourage the relevant committee of the House to also put pressure on the Ministry of Health to consider making facilities for the detection and treatment of this disease available at all health centres.
Superstition also contributes to it, and so people would develop these eye diseases without knowing that nearly by having access to medical interventions could help prevent these diseases and would live with blindness when we need not live with those conditions. So, these are all matters that we ought to take seriously and take steps in whatever small corner that we live in to also alleviate the plight of our constituents and the many people who may be suffering from that.
A related condition is also cataract. Many of the people begging on the streets with white canes have cloudy lenses and merely by looking at them, you can see, you know that they have got cataract. Simple surgery can also help deal with the condition and able-bodied people who have been blinded through cataract
because either they do not know or do not know where help is available from, can also be helped and it would also increase the manpower and skills that our ordinary citizens can also have.
I wish to commend the Hon Member for making this Statement and for bringing it to the attention of the whole House. I am happy that most of us who did not know, have also been educated and would encourage as many of us to get involved in promoting this simple public education on these matters which can help our populace live healthier, happier lives.
I thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:05 p.m.
Thank you very much.
We bring the contributions to a close.
We would now move to the Motion, thanking His Excellency the President for his State of the Nation Address.
I would call on Hon Haruna Iddrisu.
MOTIONS 12:05 p.m.

  • [Resumption of debate from 27/02/ 2013.]
  • Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr Haruna Iddrisu) (MP) 12:05 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, thank you very much for the opportunity to associate myself with the Motion which was ably moved by my senior Brother and Colleague, Dr Ahmed Yakubu Alhassan
    (Member for Mion) in thanking His Excellency the President for complying with the letter and spir it of the Constitution and in accordance with article 67, availing himself to discharge this onerous constitutional obligation of giving us a sense of the state of the nation.
    Mr Speaker, in doing so, may I refer you to paragraph 2 or even 3 of the President's State of the Nation Address. It begins with this:
    “As the elected President of this dear country [Hear! Hear!], I wish to express my personal gratitude to all Ghanaians for the trust and confidence entrusted in me. I am fully conscious of the expectations of our people and I pledge to work with the sense of urgency and remain sincere and truthful at all times.” [Hear! Hear!]
    Mr Speaker, a candid President, an honest President who appreciates that he needs a sense of urgency to deliver on this. But Mr Speaker, that leads me to paragraph 5 again, of the President's State of the Nation Address, and I beg to quote,
    Mr Speaker, with your permission 12:05 p.m.

    Mr Speaker, I have here with me a statement from the European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the European Commission, Catherine Ashton. In a statement on 10th December, 2012, she said and Mr Speaker, I beg to quote:
    Mr Speaker, with your permission 12:05 p.m.

    “She lauded the peaceful conduct of Ghana's 2012 general elections which she described as open, transparent and competitive. She congratulated President John Dramani Mahama on his victory, the Electoral Commission for its professionalism in managing the electoral process as well as the people of Ghana…”

    Indeed, she added:

    “…who by their high turnout and peaceful conduct once again demonstrated their unwavering commitment to democracy and that the EU looks forward to working with the Government and the people of Ghana.”

    Mr Speaker, I also have the British Government and Commonwealth Business Council -- hail President Mahama's victory, and with your permission, again, I beg to quote:

    “On behalf of the British Government, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister for Africa, Mr Mark Simmons congratulated the President on his victory in the elections which in his view reaffirms Ghana's image as a beacon of democracy in the West African Sub-Region.”

    Mr Speaker, it is only the no-sayers and the willfully blind who would not appreciate that President John Dramani Mahama is a product of free, fair and credible elections. [Hear! Hear!] We would make a commitment as Government that we would continue to strengthen the work of the Electoral Commission.

    Mr Speaker, as a former Minister for Technology and Information Communica- tion, I have made appropriate recommen- dations to the EC to elevate or graduate

    from a biometric bar code into an RFID platform to even make our election more transparent and credible in the future.
    Mr Sampson Ahi 12:05 p.m.
    On a point of order.
    Mr Speaker Hon Haruna Iddrisu said that as a former “Minister for Technology”, do we have a Minister responsible for Technology? I know he was the Minister for Communications. So, I am just drawing his attention to it.
    Mr H. Iddrisu 12:15 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, well corrected -- former Minister for Communications.
    Mr Speaker, principle is principle and there is no high neither there is low principle. I am just taking you down memory lane. In 2007, 8th February, when the then President, J. A. Kufuor, President of the Republic got the opportunity to come to this House to present a State of the Nation Address, conspicuously absent was the Minority to which I belong.
    Mr Speaker, I am going to quote but I would substitute some of the words where I find appropriate in order to say that our Colleagues on the other side have abandoned principle, they have abandoned values and yet Mr Speaker, listen to what former President Kufuor said:
    “I look around the House, I see empty seats on the Minority side.”
    Same could have been said by our President on the day that he appeared.
    But listen to President Kufuor “it is a sad day”. I am sure to quote President Kufuor, indeed, that was a sad day again if not a regrettable day. He went further, Mr Speaker, he said “it is even sad again”.
    In my view, I would say it is even more unfortunate. Mr Speaker, the principle that President Kufuor went and established at the time was respect for our institutions and respect for the laws of Ghana. They are in court on article 64 (1) but refuse to respect article 64 (2), which says that they must respect the elected President.
    Indeed, if there was no elected President, what business do they have in court? In my view, the court can only rule their way. Mr Speaker, I am quoting finally the words:
    “it is even sadder that they seem to ignore the fact that due process
    . . .”.
    Mr Speaker, let our Colleagues on the other side of the House have respect for due process, let them have respect for the sanctity of our institutions, particularly, the Supreme Court of our land.
    Mr Speaker, I am borrowing somebody's words -- and he went further to ask them that they should reconsider coming back\.
    Today, we are on this side of the House and they are at the other side. They have abandoned the boat and ship, yet Mr Speaker, they are not even questioning the outcome of the \parliamentary election but they concede that they have a minority and there is a parliamentary majority which is the President's party. Mr Speaker, I assure you that the NDC Government would work to strengthen our democracy even better.
    Mr Speaker, may I now take you to infrastructural development. Today, it is true, we live in challenging times, we have challenges with energy supply, its inconsistency and reliability but Mr Speaker, they know the gestation period of any energy related project, particularly from initiation to implementation. Mr Speaker, in 2007, through the New Patriotic Party of President Kufuor, he initiated
    the Bui Project to bring 400 megawatts of electricity. We eventually approved it in this House in 2008.
    Mr Speaker, even in 2013, we are told it would be in April that we can be sure of 133 megawatts of electricity and not the full 400. So many of the initiatives that this Government has initiated under President Mills and later to President John Dramani Mahama and I would share a few with you -- would not produce results within 24 hours or within a year.
    Mr Speaker, even to get the Bui Dam completed, they came to this House, with all respect to the former Hon Minister for Finance and Economic Planning, the late Baah- Wiredu. They said it would cost the State US$625 million. Today, the NDC Government has had to complement this initiative with an additional US$ 168 million in order that it can come on stream. So, it is not an abandoned initiative and that this Government is not doing enough in terms of increasing our generational capacity.
    Mr Speaker, in terms of transmission and distribution, it is not precedented in our country's history -- I have not said “unprecedented” but “not precedented” in our country's history that you have such a focused intervention to improve on distribution and transmission across the country. I am aware of SENET initiative at Tema, producing 110 megawatts thermal with VRA expanding the same to bring an additional 110 megawatts. We have the Tico Initiative which would bring 110 megawatts and then the SENET power initiative, which was just approved by Parliament just before we rose the other day.
    Mr Speaker, may I now deal with my sector and let me again, quote His
    Mr H. Iddrisu 12:15 p.m.
    Excellency the President, when he said and I beg to quote:
    “Mr Speaker, a well-designed and efficient public sector working in partnership with the private sector will be instrumental in our objective to deliver a prosperous nation.
    Over the next four years, we will build an economy that rewards hard work and nurtures Ghanaian entrepreneurs and businesses whose prospects will not be tied to political cycles and patronage.”
    Mr Speaker, the very theme of the President's State of the Nation Address which must warm the heart of every Ghanaian, including the Minority, is opportunities for all. That he would ensure that the economic benefits of this country are shared by all Ghanaians. Mr Speaker, it is a trite fact that many industries in this country have suffered because of political polarisation, that states “do not assist this entrepreneur or businessman because he wears this particular party colour”.
    Mr Speaker, my hands are strengthened and I am encouraged to give interventions to businesses regardless of their political persuasion. I do so relying on the President's authority that he wants to see Ghanaian businesses and Ghanaian entrepreneurs thrive.
    Mr Speaker, I have with me here the Business and Financial Times -- captioned “Manufacturing Sector Dies Slowly.” Mr Speaker, I would just quote for you and refer again -- I quote from the Business and Financial Times and it says:
    “The contribution of the manu- facturing sector to the country's GDP was 10.2 per cent in 2006 fell to 6.8 per cent in 2010 and to 6.7 per cent GDP in 2011".
    Mr Speaker, the Ministry of Trade and Industry would lead the Trust Policy direction to restructure Ghana's economy to build an enviable and a sustainable manufacturing sector. To that effect, His Excellency the President has announced that an industrial enclave would be established in Sekondi- Takoradi -- one in Kumasi and one in Tamale, to serve northern Ghana. Service plots would be made available to industrialists who would want to do business, particularly to strengthen the agro-based industries of our country.
    That, we would do and that, Mr President promised in his State of the Nation. Address, when he referred to even revising taxes that make it very difficult for our manufacturing sector to be able to source resources envelope.
    Mr Speaker, let me assure this august House that Government would review comprehensively the Export Development and Investment Fund (EDIF) legislation in order to make it more responsive to the needs of the private sector and industry. The President looks forward to a strong private sector.
    Mr Speaker, permit me to use these words -- “It is not government business” to do business and the attitude of this Government -- Government would only become an enabler and facilitator for the private sector to create the needed jobs. If we strengthen our manufacturing sector, I am sure we would be ameliorating the growing unemployment in our country.
    Let me therefore, conclude, Mr Speaker, by thanking His Excellency the President and particularly, his assurance to implement the recommendations as contained in the White Paper on the constitutional review report. It made far reaching recommendations -- particularly decentralisation, when the President assures us that sooner than later, we would have District Chief Executives (DCEs) by their wisdom elected and not appointed. But at least, for security reasons, they would go through a process where the
    President makes a determination of a number of them who are shortlisted and sent back for political accountability, so that the decentralised structures would make a determination who becomes a District or a Municipal Chief Executive.
    Mr Speaker, let me conclude once again and say how heartwarming it is, that Komenda, just at your backyard, Mr Speaker, would soon see a sugar factory worth about US$35 million to be funded by the India Government; same consideration would be given to Asutsuare in the Greater Accra Region and a fertilizer plant that would also come as an emergence of that area.
    Mr Speaker, it is only those who choose not to see, who would not appreciate the content of this State of the Nation Address, as offering opportunities for all.
    Mr Speaker, finally, I have heard a certain group make a certain statement outside. They only pre-empted the present Minister for Finance and Economic Planning from coming to this House to present the Financial Policy Statement and the Budget Statement. A State of the Nation Address should not ever be confused with a budget statement which gives analysis of national debt statistics and figures.
    We would come appropriately to this House, on the authority of the same President John Dramani Mahama to share with them, that yes, we have borrowed but we have borrowed for the productive sectors of the economy. Many of the loans that have been borrowed would be able to amortise themselves on the basis of it. I see one of my Colleagues smiling but he knows that even of the US$3 billion Chinese loan, US$2 billion of it remains undisbursed. But when the interventions come, we would begin to see landing sites
    emerge in the coastal belt of Accra, from Ada through Dixcove heading towards Cape Coast and many other areas in the Komenda/Edina/Eguafo/Abirem (KEEA) area.
    With these few words, Mr Speaker, I would like to associate myself with the Motion and to say that this Government aspires to achieve an improved energy generation requirement delivered on a sustainable transmission and distribution line, which assures this country, that by the end of 2015, we should expect at least, an additional 500 megawatts to respond to the generational challenge.

    With these few comments, Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity.
    Mr. James K. Avedzi (NDC -- Ketu North) 12:25 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I wish to support the Motion to thank His Excellency the President for the Message on the State of the Nation which he delivered to Parliament on Thursday, 21st of February,
    This Motion was moved by Hon Dr Ahmed Yakubu Alhassan, Member for Mion and seconded by Hon Emmanuel Kwesi Bandua.
    Mr. James K. Avedzi (NDC -- Ketu North) 12:35 p.m.

    Mr Speaker, in beginning my contribution, I would like to quote from the Address delivered by His Excellency the President at column 849 of the Address, the last but one paragraph;

    “Mr Speaker, I entered public service out of a genuine desire to help make a difference in the lives of our people...”

    Mr Speaker, this statement alone reveals the genuine desire the President has for the people of this country and somebody who has this desire for his people must be commended.

    Indeed, Mr Speaker, that very day, I was very happy to be a Ghanaian. For my leader to have genuine desire for me, I was touched by that statement.

    Mr Speaker, the President went ahead and talked about the efforts made by the previous Governments in the economic growth of this country. In fact, he went back to 1986 and talked about the consistent growth of this country that has led to Ghana attaining the lower middle- income status in 2010. That statement again, shows that the President is not giving credit to himself, but to all the past Presidents -- including your Excellency Jerry John Rawlings, John Agyekum Kufuor and the late Prof Atta Mills and to indeed, all of us as Ghanaians.

    Over two decades, we have made a frantic effort to ensure that we grow this economy to the time we enter with middle income status.

    Mr Speaker, again, he says that now, Ghana as a country, is counted among the 10 fastest growing economies in the world. That is no mean an achievement, that in 2011 alone, the performance of the economy grew by 14.4 per cent of GDP.

    Mr Speaker, the President again went ahead to tell his vision that he has for this country for the first term that he came to office. Mr Speaker, the President said, having attained 14.4 per cent in 2011, his vision for the country is to ensure that this economic growth is sustained. At least, Ghana should go at the rate of eight per cent minimum, so that we can move this country to a full middle-income status. This is the vision of His Excellency the President in his first term in office.

    Mr Speaker, when it comes to the area of microeconomic stability, the President was very frank to tell Ghanaians what we are doing as a nation. He said that for a period of 30 months, continuously, inflation was in a single digit. And it is for us as people to ensure that we work towards maintaining this single digit inflation that can then work to culminate into the benefit of all us as a country.

    Mr Speaker, this single digit was arrived at after the Ghana Statistical Service used their formula in computing the figure. I know people who used the same work of the Ghana Statistical Service in previous times to say that, well, if we have single digit, why is it not reflecting in the pockets of Ghanaians?

    Mr Speaker, I know that the formula is under review and the review is completed. I believe strongly that the true position would be reflected and I have no doubt that the figure will still remain the single digit as we have.

    Mr Speaker, the President also talked about the value of our cedi which has been relatively stable with the exception of the first half of 2012 where there were a lot of challenges, pressure on the cedi. This was due to the balance of trade deficit that we experienced as a country. Whenever there is a balance of trade deficit, it means

    that our imports exceed the exports. That is an indication that a country having balance of trade deficit, we should watch carefully what we are importing into this country and what we are exporting. That is an indication that the President has an eye on what we should do. So, if in the first half of 2012, we had a balance of trade deficit putting pressure on the cedi for the value to fall and which was corrected immediately, it means that we need to thank the Government for taking action promptly.

    Mr Speaker, our gross international reserve which was around US$2 billion in early 2009, grew to a level of US$5.5 billion, covering over three months of import cover. Which means that, if today we are not able to export anything at all, the country can rely on our international reserve to import, to cover a period of over three months.

    During that period, we can take measures to ensure that we correct any problem or difficulty on our hands. It is a comfortable position for us as a country that we are increasing our international reserve. Mr Speaker, His Excellency the President was very frank in the Address and I am very happy. As an Accountant, I know that the address covers a lot.

    Mr Speaker, when you come to the banking sector, we have seen a lot of performance in the non-performing loan ratio. It means that the non-performing ratio is reducing and profitability is going up and our asset base is also going up. This is a good indication that the banking sector must take advantage of, to ensure that they expand their business, so that they can create more jobs for our people who complete school.

    Mr Speaker, on fiscal challenges and deficits, the President talked about the misalignments of the expenditure categories. In our budget, we have three main expenditure categories-- the emoluments which is the wages, salaries and allowances; we have goods and services that include debt servicing; we also have the investment which is the capital expenditure. There is a misalignment in this sector, which means that, Item 1 which is the emolument alone is taking 60.9 per cent of our total revenue. This is a challenge for us as a country.

    If our Item 1 alone is taking over 60 per cent, then we should be careful on what we do. When we look at the international figure for Item 1, which is between 30 and 35 per cent and we have gone over 60 per cent, we should be very careful -- and the President mentioned that. He made a quotation and, Mr Speaker, with your permission, I beg to quote: “The meat is now down to the bones.” It means that, if we are asking for more already, what we have is over and above what we should have, so we are in trouble.

    The public sector workers must take note of the investments that the country is making in them, so that they can work harder, improve productivity, so that we can maintain and sustain our growth that we have in the country.

    Mr President mentioned revenue and expenditure. If you run a company and the survival of this company depends on what comes to you in the form of revenue and what goes out in the form of expenditure, if your revenue far exceeds your expenditure, you are profitable, you are making profit. But where your expenditure far outweighs the revenue, you are in trouble.
    Mr. James K. Avedzi (NDC -- Ketu North) 12:35 p.m.

    In Ghana, why we have a deficit is that, our expenditure is far more than our revenue. There are three ways to control this. To increase revenue and maintain expenditure -- that is one option -- or maintain the revenue within the expenditure -- another option. The third option is, increase revenue over expenditure, then you would be balancing it. These are the three options available to us.

    The President came out clearly to say what we should do as a country to ensure that we generate more revenue in order to cover the expenditure that we make. He tasked the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) to bring in more revenue. He also talked about the recent subsidy that has been withdrawn partially, that has brought a kind of relief. If in a month, the Government spends GH¢150 million, it means that for 2012, Government spent GH¢1.8 billion to subsidize the cost of fuel.

    If that has been partially reduced, let us assume that Government will no more spend GH¢1 billion to subsidize the cost of fuel, that will have double effect. We are reducing expenditure by GH¢1 billion and we are increasing the revenue by GH¢1 billion. So, it has double effect. That will help us, and that is one of the measures he talked about and which is good for us as a country.

    Mr Speaker, I do not think that this document given to the 275 of us, to come and digest,debate it and make suggestions, would choose to go outside this playing field, to use some unapproved routes to debate this document. I urge my Colleagues to come out and take part in this. I even have information that they

    are willing to take part in the Budget Statement that would be presented next week. [Interruption.] If they have nothing to do with the President, then they should not do anything with the Budget Statement because the Hon Minister for Finance and Economic Planning is only presenting the Budget Statement —
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:35 p.m.
    Hon Member, please, stop speculating and concentrate on the Address.
    Mr Avedzi 12:35 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I would want to say that the Finance Minister is presenting the Budget Statement on the authority of the President. Article 179 of the Constitution says: “The President shall cause to be prepared revenue and expenditure of this country.” Not the Finance Minister --
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:35 p.m.
    Hon Member, please, try to wind up because we have a lot more of Hon Members who want to contribute.
    Mr Avedzi 12:35 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, so, if they take part in the debate of the Budget Statement, that portrays the double standard nature of these people.
    Thank you, Mr Speaker.
    Minister of State at the Presidency (Maj. (Dr)(Alhaji) Mustapha Ahmed (retd)(MP) 12:35 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity and perhaps, with your permission, just to educate my Colleagues a bit on the military title.
    When a person is retired, you do not need to pronounce it, it is only written. So, my name -- if I am pronouncing my name, I will say Major Mustapha Ahmed; it is only when I am writing, that I indicate that I am retired.
    Thank you, very much.
    Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to contribute to the debate on the Motion, that this Honourable House thanks His Excellency the President for the Message on the State of
    the Nation, which he delivered to Parliament on Thursday, 21st February, 2013. Mr Speaker, this Motion was appropriately moved by Dr Ahmed Yakubu Alhassan (Member of Parliament for Mion) and ably seconded by Hon E. K. Bandua, (Member of Parliament for Biakoye)
    Mr Speaker, let me begin by congratulating His Excellency the President for satisfying the constitutional requirement to fulfil article 67 to deliver to Parliament a message on the state of the nation at the beginning of each Session of Parliament. I would like to say that the Address by the President indicates that, His Excellency has a clear vision and strategy for enhancing the country's development to achieve the “Better Ghana Agenda.”
    The Address was very well delivered, he was articulate but unfortunately, our Colleagues chose to walk out even though reports I have received tell me that a lot of them were glued behind television sets in the Lobby, some in offices and another report indicates that my good Friend the Hon Deputy Minority Leader was nodding in admiration of the statements being delivered. At one point he said: “Wa kasa paa nso yen fa.”
    I would like to touch first on the second pillar that His Excellency spoke about in his Address.
    The second pillar talks about the strong and resilient economy. His Excellency stated clearly his vision for sustaining the economic growth rate at a minimum of 8 per cent, in line with our goal of moving the country from a lower middle-income status to a full middle- income bracket. He spoke at length about the fiscal challenges confronting the
    nation. Mr Speaker, with your permission, I would like to quote from page 9, paragraphs 4 and 5 of the State of the Nation Address.
    “Mr Speaker, the challenge facing us now is a misalignment of the expenditure categories in the budget namely, emoluments (e.g. wages, salaries and allowances) goods and services (including debt service), and investment or capital expenditure. This is attributable to the following critical factors. It is important to appreciate the fact that the personal emoluments portion of the budget has more than tripled in the last three years, from GH¢2.5 billion to about GH¢8 billion this year.
    This has been mainly due to the Single Spine Salary Scheme (SSSS). We now spend a staggering 60.9 per cent of our entire national revenue to pay public sector salaries.
    Mr Speaker, this is almost double the globally accepted prudent level of between 30 and 35 per cent. We remain committed to boosting the morale of public sector workers of Ghana, whose incomes were low compared to their counterparts in the private sector. It is in that spirit that we undertook the salary rationalisation with a view to enhancing fairness, productivity and motivation in the public sector. We now face the challenge of ensuring that the effect of the public sector pay reform does not constitute an unsustainable burden on public finances and on macroeconomic stability.”
    I would like to add my voice by first commending His Excellency the President for his candour and forthrightness in stating the real situation. In the light of this, there is an urgent need to expand the economy through new and innovative mechanisms of generating revenue. New ways must be found, developed, debated and implemented.

    I believe the time has come for service providing public agencies and institutions to go beyond the business as usual operative mood and ensure that they institute innovative systems to generate more revenue to sustain their salaries and thereby reduce their over- reliance on the Consolidated Fund.

    Public agencies must be mandated to incorporate Public Private Partnership (PPP) in the implementation of their programmes and in this light, targets would have to be set for all agencies and institutions in their revenue generation activities and these should be regularly monitored by the Legislature.

    Indeed, the vision should be that the agencies and the institutions should be able to generate enough internally generated funds (IGFs) to cater for their salaries as well as their activities. I believe that this, Mr Speaker, will take away a lot of pressure from the Consolidated Fund and free a lot of funds to undertake infrastructural development and expansion.

    Mr Speaker, I would also wish to speak on the President's thoughts on “Pillar Three: Expanding Infrastructure.” Mr Speaker, on page 14, paragraph 2, I beg to quote, with your permission:

    “Mr Speaker, all Ghanaians deserve to live in a country with improved infrastructure, which is inextricably linked to enhancing the quality of life.”

    Mr Speaker, to be able to achieve this laudable goal, there is the need for Government to adopt the Community Development Approach, whereby communities are encouraged to bear part

    or some of the responsibilities of the cost of infrastructural development in our communities. These developments should include road construction, greening and beautification of com- munities, provision of street lights and community sanitation programmes.

    Mr Speaker, this approach can be made effective in communities in our cities and urban centres where developed or newly established estates would have to contribute to a percentage of the value of their plots or their properties to a Fund for the construction of roads, streets, pedestrian walkways, street lights, provision of sanitation services as well as beautification of the community.

    With such a clear funding mechanism in place, financial institutions can be encouraged to pre-finance infrastructural activities in our communities, so that the usual refrain of projects has been delayed or abandoned would be a thing of the past.

    Mr Speaker, I believe that this would be an effective way for our communities to own their development projects and then they can maintain them and ensure that such infrastructure are sustained. It would also help Government to attain its targets of expanding infrastructure and also effectively wage war against dust in our cities. This, I believe, would allow a lot more Ghanaians to enjoy better quality of health.

    Mr Speaker, there is the need for the municipalities and districts to collaborate and co-ordinate the implementation of this strategy if accepted. Government should also thereby institute a rewarding scheme for communities that are adjudged to have implemented a successful community development programme.

    Mr Speaker, I would like to end by commending the President on his initiative to replicate the SADA success in the Western Corridor Development Authority.

    I believe that with the take-off and successful implementation of key SADA programmes, the Northern Ecological Zone would soon become a major economically buoyant region that would attract a lot of investors.

    On this note, Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to make these brief remarks.
    Dr (Mrs) Adiku B. Heloo (NDC -- Hohoe) 12:45 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I rise to support the Motion ably moved by the Hon Member for Mion (Dr Ahmed Yakubu Alhassan) and seconded by the Hon Member for Biakoye, that this Honourable House thanks H. E. the President for the Address on the State of the Nation which he perfectly delivered to Parliament on the 21st February, 2013.
    Mr Speaker, in supporting the Motion, I would like to comment on a few salient issues. Firstly and noteworthy, is the President's emphasis on addressing the problem of youth unemployment, which is a matter of public concern. Mr Speaker, I would like to thank the President for the pragmatic measures to address the problem in a decentralized manner, so that all persons, especially the youth would be brought on board.
    Mr Speaker, I would also like to thank the President for calling for collaboration between the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations and the Ghana Statistical Service to produce quarterly surveys and reports that would generate the much needed database for dealing with the problem in a sustainable manner.
    Mr Speaker, my second comment is on the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection. The President ably explained the task of the Ministry and clarified its role, thus allaying the fears of the good people of Ghana that this Ministry is not up to doing anything untoward. Through social protection programmes, Mr Speaker, the weak and the vulnerable would be taken care of. This means that we have a caring and a listening President.
    Mr Speaker, may I end by thanking and commending the President for the attention given to the HIV/AIDS pandemic, which to many people, is a thing of the past. The increase in the allocation of funds to the Ghana AIDS Commission as well as the determination to reduce mother-to-child transmission, is a great way in which the Government would actually reduce transmission in the country.
    May I end by appealing to the Ghana AIDS Commission to step up its programmes on prevention. Prevention, Mr Speaker, involves being faithful to one's uninfected partner, abstinence and the use of condoms, and here, I would talk about female condoms in particular, which is being promoted across the country.
    Mr Speaker, let me just finish by quoting what the President said on page 26 of his Address:
    “Real change is when everybody pulls together, works together, when we all exercise our responsibilities to our country, our local communities and our families.”
    It is, therefore, unfortunate, Mr Speaker, that our Hon Colleagues on the other side of the House have embarked on selective participation in the work that has been assigned to us. If this trend
    Dr (Mrs) Adiku B. Heloo (NDC -- Hohoe) 12:45 p.m.

    continues and despite all our moral appeal to them to take part in all the activities of the House have failed, then Mr Speaker, I will join my Hon Colleague in saying that they may have no business in participating in the discussion of the budget.

    Thank you.
    Mr Yaw Effah-Baafi (NDC -- Kintampo South) 12:55 p.m.
    Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to contribute to the Motion on the floor, seeking to thank His Excellency the President for the Message on the State of the Nation, ably moved by my Hon Colleague Dr Ahmed Yakubu Alhassan, Member for Mion.
    Mr Speaker, His Excellency the President's Message delivered on the third day was a true reflection of the state of the nation. Mr Speaker, I was personally impressed about the stand of His Excellency's presentation.
    Mr Speaker, he laid bare the current state of the nation; he acknowledged the difficulties the country is going through, especially in the areas of electricity, water, wage bill among others. He also enumerated the strategies the Government has adopted to deal with the difficulties; and finally, he projected into the future. Mr Speaker, His Excellency's performance on that day was worthy of commendation.
    Mr Speaker, I will focus my submission exclusively on the portions and the presentations related to food and agriculture. Mr Speaker, records indicate that the food security situation in the country is very good and this has come about as a result of the requisite policies and interventions put in place by the Mills- Mahama-led Administration.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:55 p.m.
    Thank you very much.
    Yes, Hon Kwabena Minta Akandoh --
    Mr Kwabena M. Akandoh (NDC -- Juaboso) 1:05 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I wish to associate myself with the Motion ably moved by the Hon Member for Mion, Dr Ahmed Yakubu Alhassan.

    Mr Speaker, His Excellency made mention of the fact that the youth are today's leaders but not the future's. Mr Speaker, as a youth, I was highly impressed and inspired by such a Statement. More so, His Excellency has demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt that he really believes in the youth. This is evidently clear in his recent appointments. Mr Speaker, if one looks at the appointments, one can see the Hon Fiifi Kweteys, Dr Omane Boamahs, Hon Haruna Iddrisus, Hon Emmanuel Kofi- Armah Buahs; these are all people with youthful exuberance.

    Mr Speaker, the only caution that I would sound here is that my Hon Colleagues should not disappoint His Excellency the President for the confidence reposed in us. Again, to those outside there, we should actually prepare ourselves to be able to lead today's Ghana and the world.

    Mr Speaker, as somebody coming from a cocoa growing area like Juaboso and a farmer myself, I would want to touch on cocoa. It still remains an undeniable fact that the cocoa sector is one of the strongest backbones of the economy. So, Mr Speaker, if given the needed attention, we can get more resources than we even anticipate from the oil industry.

    Mr Speaker, I was very happy to hear His Excellency the President say that he would ensure that the poor farmers would be given 70 per cent of the world market price, that is the Freight on Board (FOB).

    Mr Speaker, unlike in the days of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) where a lot of deductions would be made from the FOB or the world market price before a percentage is struck out of the net -- Mr Speaker, I think that it is refreshing to hear His Excellency say he is going to give 70 per cent of the FOB or the world market price to the cocoa farmers.

    Mr Speaker, again -- and in fact, it is important to note that this is what has been happening for the past five or so years.

    Mr Speaker, again, the production of cocoa or the yield decreases while the cocoa trees grow old on the farm. His Excellency has put up a very prudent measure in order to encourage the farmers to allow their cocoa tree to be replaced with new ones. So, now, if one has a cocoa farm and one allows it to be cut down, to be replaced, one is compensated. Mr Speaker, it is refreshing to hear that.

    He did not end there; Mr Speaker, he also said that he is going to ensure that there is going to be 20 million free hybrid seedlings of cocoa. Mr Speaker, I think that His Excellency is giving the necessary attention to the cocoa sector.

    Mr Speaker, I would end by humbly appealing to His Excellency that in allocating resources for roads, priority is given to the cocoa growing areas. And for the records, Juaboso Constituency is the highest producer of cocoa.

    I thank you, Mr Speaker.
    Dr Kwabena Donkor (NDC -- Pru East) 1:05 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I would want to associate myself with the Motion moved by the Hon Member for Mion.
    Mr Speaker, I would also want to thank the legally and constitutionally elected
    President of the Republic of Ghana for honouring his constitutional obligation as a good citizen of the land by coming to the House to deliver the State of the Nation Address and not outside the House.
    Mr Speaker, going through the President's delivery, it was so heartwarming because the President, as true leader of the land, provided a vision, especially for the energy sector. Leadership, Mr Speaker, behoves the office holder to provide a sense of direction and a vision for the led. The good Book says “a people without vision perish” and our President provided such an encompassing vision for the energy sector.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:05 p.m.
    Hon Member, are you up on a point of order?
    Mr Bedzrah 1:05 p.m.
    Yes, Mr Speaker.
    I would want to find out whether my Hon Colleague has now become a member of the NPP and therefore, he is the deputy leader of the Opposition. Mr Speaker, just to find out.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:05 p.m.
    Hon Member for Pru East, please, go ahead with your presentation.
    Dr Donkor 1:05 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, this country faces serious challenges in the energy sector and it is heartwarming to note that our President has risen to the occasion to address these challenges and he has put in motion measures that would bring us back into an even keel.
    Mr Speaker, the addition of 500 MW of generating power is heartwarming. Even though this is still short of the 5,000 promised, we still have three to four years to bring this promise into full manifestation. However, Mr Speaker, in applauding and supporting the President, it is pertinent that this House clearly states and articulates the desire of the President in getting operators of our energy sector to be up and doing.
    Mr Speaker, we have for the past couple of months, experienced major outages in our power generation and the assurance we have received from the Volta River Authority (VRA), GRIDCo and other players is that the West African Gas Pipeline would resume supplies by the end of April. While this is heartwarming in the short-term, Mr Speaker, it does not address our long-term supply security. What has happened today with the West African Gas Pipeline can be repeated in another month or two.
    The vandalism that the pipeline has suffered over the years, should draw us to looking for alternatives. In the long- term, our own Sankofa and Gye Nyame fields would fill the void. But what if within a month of resuming supplies, there is another accident involving the West African Gas Pipeline? It is on this that I would humbly submit to this House that VRA and other key players be made to look at alternatives such as a gasification plant that would enable us import Liquefied Petroleum Gas (L&G) at short notice to fire our thermal plants, especially in the Tema corridor.
    It is unwise to determine on only one source, especially an unreliable source as the West African Gas pipeline for our energy security.
    The President has delivered a vision but the visionary is not the implementer.

    Public officers paid by the good people of Ghana must put the vision of our leader into practice.

    Mr Speaker, we also need a Gas Use Policy as a nation. God has blessed us with gas deposits. However, gas has alternate uses -- in power generation, in agriculture, in petrochemicals et cetera. As we speak, we do not have a National Gas Use Policy that prioritises our developmental needs and the vision of our President would be fulfilled when we prioritise the efficient and effective use of our assets.

    Energy is the most critical element in our development, particularly at this stage of our national development. Energy powers industry, energy powers manufacturing, energy powers the service centres. We can be forgiven as a nation for our historic under-investment in energy infrastructure.

    Mr Speaker, if you take the bulk supply point from Tema to Accra, the three lines were constructed in the 1960s. Since then it is only the NDC Government under the late Prof. Atta Mills that has added one more and therefore, our infrastructure cannot support the projected demand growth of our economy for the next 15 years. Players in the industry must be made to support our visionary President in bringing this to fruition.

    Mr Speaker, I cannot take my seat without talking about the need to restructure the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR). This is critical. TOR has an in-built capacity of 45,000 barrels per stream day. In today's refineries, the average refinery has a capacity of 200,000 barrels per stream day and therefore, TOR, even excusing

    the technical inefficiencies, suffers a massive diseconomy of scale and I am glad that our President mentioned the need to restructure such a facility.

    Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity. And in thanking you for the opportunity, I also would want to highlight our President's concern for the security of our oilfields and the involvement of communities, especially around the oilfields. The best security for our oilfields, learning from lessons from our immediate neighbourhood, the active involvement and participation of the citizenry and our visionary leader has pointed to this.
    Mr Fiifi F. F. Kwetey (NDC -- Ketu South) 1:15 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I wish to associate myself with the Motion moved ably by the Hon Member for Mion, Dr Ahmed Yakubu Alhassan.
    Mr Speaker, I wish also to use the opportunity to commend His Excellency the President, the President that has been elected by the good people of Ghana across eight regions out of 10 regions in this country.
    I would want to first and foremost, refer to the introductory part of the President's Address. Mr Speaker, the President said that Ghana is a different place now than what it was when we began the journey towards democratic governance. He said we have come a long way since 1993 when the first President of the Fourth Republic delivered the first State of the Nation Address.
    The statement that Ghana has come a long way from 1993, is a part of the Address that actually impressed me the most. What it simply means is that, we have had 20 years long journey as a
    democracy. It simply means that if a child was given birth in 1993, that child today is 20 years. That is a whole generation. It means that as a democracy, a lot of progress has been made. We have learnt through errors and over the period, we have become even more mature.
    It would therefore, be unfortunate to realise that the time that we are supposed to be acting as young adults, full of maturity, we should actually be taking steps that amount to a retrogression. In 1993, after the shocking defeat that was experienced by our Hon Friends on the other side and even though that defeat actually led them to take certain decisions that were not all together so nice, the level of maturity that was demonstrated then is by far better than what it is we have seen 20 years on.
    That shows that much as the country has made progress over 20 years, it would appear that our Hon Friends on the other side actually have been making a backward progress and that is really unfortunate.
    The good Book, the Bible says, “ when I was a child, I spoke as a child and acted as a child but when I become an adult I need to put away childish things and behave as an adult”. It simply shows that the situation where 20 years on, after five successful elections presided over by an Electoral Commission that has won the applause and the acclaim all over the world, to have any clue simply on the basis of so-called irregularities, questioning the credibility of that Electoral Commission. That is simply a backward step.
    Mr Speaker, not once has it happened since 1992 that any President has been elected without winning at least six
    regions out of 10 regions in this country. In 1992 and 1996, at least, eight regions were won out of the 10 regions. In the years 2000 and 2004, six regions were won out of the 10 regions. In the year 2008 and 2012, eight regions again have been won. Not once has it happened since 1992 that anyone elected President of this country without at least, having majority in the House.
    The same thing happened in 1993, 1996; it happened in 2000, 2004 and the same thing has happened again in 2008, 2012. That tells one that every step of the way, we have been consistent. So, it simply becomes an issue of whether it is a miracle that our Hon Friends on the other side would expect that in the year 2012, with winning just two regions and we having a substantial majority in Parliament, they could actually have the President elected on their side.
    Mr Speaker, the point that I simply would want to make is this, that it is important for us to make progress. The lack of that progress and the lack of that advancement in our democracy is going to hamper us and cause a lot of instances, which amount to clear inconsistencies.
    That is why we would have a situation where in one breadth, our Hon Friends on the other side do not recognise the legitimate President that has been elected by the good people of Ghana but in another breadth, we actually would get Hon Members on their side who are actually asking of the Hon Minister for Roads and Highways to come and make a statement relating to the conditions of roads in this country. It shows a serious inconsistency and a clear contradiction.
    In one breadth, they do not recognise the President that has been elected by the good people of Ghana but in the other breadth, they can actually make a statement outside of this House, where
    Mr Fiifi F. F. Kwetey (NDC -- Ketu South) 1:15 p.m.

    the Hon Minority Leader actually calls on that same President to address issues relating to energy and water. Then you ask yourself, which President are they referring to? So, that tells you that much as they are busy trying to create the impression that they do not recognise the President of this country, they actually do. They actually do know that the leader of their party who took part in the elections both in 2008 and 2012 has been comprehensively beaten; they know.

    That is the more reason they are actually making efforts to come and take part in the budget debate because they do know clearly that the path they have gone is the path of futility; it is a path that is leading them nowhere; and there is no way they are ever going to be successful on that path.

    Mr Speaker, 20 years on, it is also important for us to start gauging what exactly we have achieved as a country and have a certain dispassionate analysis of the difficulties. The President alluded to that in his Address when he especially told us the need for us to take a very radical look at what is happening to public sector wages in our country.

    He did not just speak about public sector wages, he also spoke about the need for us to look at what we are exactly doing vis-à-vis the energy situation, especially subsidy for the energy sector.
    Mr Fiifi F. F. Kwetey (NDC -- Ketu South) 1:15 p.m.

    Mr Speaker, I would want to say that the President was absolutely frank about this situation. Many times, we have tended to play too much of politics at the expense and at the detriment of our nation. On the side of the NDC or on the side of the NPP, we have had the opportunity to run this country and we do know that if we leave politics aside, there are certain decisions that really have to be taken that are critical for the transformation of our country. One of those has to do with dealing with this hydra-headed difficulty which has to do with public sector wage.

    In what part of the world do you have 60 per cent of all revenues that are collected going simply into paying the salaries of six hundred thousand people, leaving 23.4 million people outside of that six hundred thousand? This means, the 40 per cent which is left has now to be used for those 23.4 in addition to the six hundred thousand people. This situation, the President pointed, if left unchecked, is going to cause a situation where very soon there would be very little to use for the transformation of this country.

    It simply also shows that, as a country, we need to come to that resolution where we start thinking seriously about whether we should continue to spend on the consumption now, as opposed to the investment, which is critical for the transformation of our country.

    We need to increasingly look at the need for us to invest more in the critical things that would deliver the trans- formation that we seek for tomorrow. Educational infrastructure, energy infrastructure, health infrastructure, water delivery systems, roads, ports, harbours and all the critical things that would bring improvement in not just the public sector but also the private sector.

    Mr Speaker, let me just conclude by saying that the President ably also hinted at the need for us to take a very close look at the private sector. This is because the private sector is the way and engine through which we can deliver a faster growth in our economy. That faster growth is that which we are able to use to deal with the critical issue of youth unemployment, which is almost becoming a national crisis. It is not just in Ghana, that, it is true.

    All over the world, youth unemployment is becoming a critical problem and Ghana, more than ever, needs to be able to tackle. We have not been successful in dealing with this youth crisis and I think really, it is because, increasingly, we are not allowing for creative means by which the private sector would be able to really develop very fast in order to absorb the teeming youth that are coming out of our various institutions.

    Mr Speaker, in conclusion, I wish to use this opportunity to thank the President for a very comprehensive Address that has been rendered. I wish to applaud Hon Members especially on the Majority side, for showing maturity even though our Friends on the other side did not really do what they needed to do, showing maturity even in the midst of seeing what we call placard showing “Stealers”.

    I wonder what exact English Language is “Stealers” and maybe, there is the need again for our Friends to go through a bit of grammar lessons to know exactly how to even write properly --[Hear! Hear!]- - in order for us as it were not reduce our democracy to the level of a mockery. [Hear! Hear!]

    Mr Speaker, I thank you very much.
    Mr Foster J. Andoh (NDC -- Hemang/ Lower/Denkyira) 12:25 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I rise to add my voice to the Motion moved by the Hon Member for Mion, Dr Ahmed Yakubu Alhassan, that this Honourable House thanks His Excellency the President for the State of the Nation Address which he splendidly delivered to this Honourable House on Thursday, 21stFebruary, 2013.
    Mr Speaker, after listening to the President myself, I thanked God for giving our nation Ghana such a President. [Hear! Hear!] A President who is so visionary, so focused and ready to serve this country in humility. The President hinged the total development of this country on four pillars and many fair - minded Ghanaians are of the view that if all of us-- and I mean all of us as Ghanaians -- help to concretise, would push the frontiers of our national development further.
    Mr Speaker, for brevity, I would like to touch on a few of the areas and I would want to start with education. Mr Speaker, the President has assured this nation that by the year 2016, schools under trees would belong to history and that is very laudable. In my constituency, Hemang/ Lower/ Denkyira, for the past four years, we were able to eliminate 25 schools under trees. We are left with many to tackle and if the President has given us this assurance, what else could be better news than this?
    Mr Speaker, the President also told us that 200 community-day schools would be provided and I am sure per the President's own principle of sharing the national cake equitably, many of the empty seats I see on my left would benefit and if they would benefit, then I do not know why Hemang/Lower/Denkyira
    Mr Foster J. Andoh (NDC -- Hemang/ Lower/Denkyira) 12:25 p.m.

    Mr Speaker, let me touch on a very important area the President also made mention of and that is social protection. A whole Ministry has been set up to oversee this kind of social protection we all clamour for and that is the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection. Here, the President made it very clear in no uncertain terms that this Ministry is not set to promote gay rights as some section of the population sought to portray. I believe this should allay the fears of those who hold or have a different mind on how the Ministry is going to function.

    The President minced no words in telling us that this country cannot thrive with half of the population poor and half rich. Therefore, he is ready to work, so that equity prevails in this country. But Mr Speaker, talking about equity, this means there should be concerted efforts to find lasting solutions to our problems as a country. In fact, if we are doing that, then it must be all of us. This is because we should all create and share. If we do not do that and few people are allowed to create only for all of us to share the principle of fairness would suffer.

    Mr Speaker, anybody who runs away from national duty does not deserve his or her constituent's support -- [Hear! Hear!] I hope Ghanaians are listening and watching.

    To conclude, Mr Speaker, I would want to thank the President so much for a very good State of the Nation Address, well delivered.

    God bless Ghana.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:35 p.m.
    Hon Members, we would take the last contributor in the person of Hon A. B. A. Fuseini.
    Alhaji Bashir F. Alhassan (NDC-- Sagnarigu) 1:35 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to contribute and support the Motion so ably, competently and eloquently moved by the Hon Member for Mion (Dr Ahmed Y. Alhassan) -- [Interruptions] -- and to thank His Excellency the President for a great job done in his commitment to the prosecution of a “Better Ghana Agenda.”
    Mr Speaker, permit me to preface my contribution by offering free advice to our Hon Colleagues on the other side of the House. I know for now, the Hon Deputy Minority Leader is suffering from catharsis -- [Laughter] -- This is because he is a general without an army. They have all fled from legitimate national duty and he is wearing a very uncomfortable hat. I do not envy him the least.
    Mr Speaker, the Dagombas have a saying that if somebody passes bad air on you and you are overzealous to retaliate, you would bring out the real thing. [Laughter.] When you do that, the flies become your companion and you become the object of dereliction and humiliation. Our Hon Colleagues on the other side are struggling to come to terms with the defeat in the last elections, and in an attempt to contain that -- [Interruptions] -- they have resorted to something -- they are fast becoming an object of humiliation in the public domain -- [Interruption.]
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:35 p.m.
    Hon Members, Order! Order!
    Alhaji B. F. Alhassan 1:35 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, God Almighty, in His infinite wisdom, is the one who makes kings and leaders.
    When the first commandment came in this election, I heard our Hon Colleagues on the other side said that the battle was with the people. The people spoke and they said, no, the battle was with the Lord -- [Laughter] -- and when on December 9th, the Lord spoke, they said, no, the battle was in the court -- [Laughter] -- and when the court was about to speak, Mr Speaker, they said some people in the court must not speak. [Laughter.]

    Mr Speaker, they have a bounding duty to the good people of this country and to their constituents, in particular, to discharge their legitimate national duties and obligations. Their flight from the House is a sad commentary. In addition, they are saddling the Majority which already have a responsibility of also having oversight over the Executive to do their jobs for them.

    Mr Speaker, the Dagombas say that when the goat has to bite the intruder to scare him away, it is the shame of the dog. [Laughter.] They are supposed to be playing that watchdog role. They have been very derelict in that duty. I think the good people of this country -- and I am sure a lot of them are listening to the complaints from their constituents, that they are not happy about that kind of attitude that have put up. So, it is important -- [Interruption.]
    Mr Dominic B. A. Nitiwul 1:35 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, on a point of order.
    Mr Speaker, just as we said we would not contribute or we would not avail
    ourselves to the debate with regard to the President's State of the Nation Address, we also sounded that we have the right to reject any insinuation or aspersions cast on us. In fact, the Speaker has advised Hon Members to desist from that.
    Mr Speaker, the Hon Member opposite, instead of debating the President's State of the Nation Address, has taken -- [Interruptions] -- his anger, anguish and frustration on the Minority. I think, Mr Speaker, I am calling on you to direct him appropriately. This is because it is simply unfair for him to be doing what he is doing. It is simply unparliamentary for him to be doing what he is doing. It is wrong and he should respect our sensibility.
    The fact that we have decided to sit in here and listen, rather than do what he is doing -- would not help matters in this particular Chamber.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:35 p.m.
    Hon Fuseini Alhassan, I would like you to concentrate on the State of the Nation Address.
    Alhaji B. F. Alhassan 1:35 p.m.
    Rightly so, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I think the good people of this country expect us to be very candid with one another and not to call a spade a digging tool. [Laughter.]
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:35 p.m.
    Hon Member, again, I would like to advise you to stick to the Address. Enough of the thrashing.
    Alhaji B. F. Alhassan 1:35 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I am just winding up, that it is important that the partnership the President talked about -- the President did not talk about a unilateral step from one side of the House. He said partisanship, Mr Speaker, should redeem way to partnership. [Hear! Hear!]
    Mr Speaker, they are undermining that partnership His Excellency the President talked about. That is why I am hammering that they should be humble enough, eat the humble pie and yield to wise counsel. [Hear! Hear!] That even from within their own midst, Mr Kwame Pianim and Dr Wereko-Brobbery have given them wise counsel --
    So, Mr Speaker, on that note, I would want to commend His Excellency the President “hippopotamusly” -- [Hear! Hear!] -- for his excellent, candid, eloquent, dispassionate, timeous and the humble manner with which he delivered the State of the Nation Address.
    I was particularly touched when His Excellency the President talked about the need to modernise agriculture and also inject more resources into the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) initiative.
    Mr Speaker, I come from a constituency where agriculture is the mainstay of the vast majority of my constituents. I am sure that with the injection of the requisite level
    of resources into these areas, it should be possible to ensure that agricultural production picks up. Mr Speaker, I am guided by this saying, that a man who has his mouth in another man's kitchen cannot assert his independence and his freedom. [Laughter.] This country spends a colossal sum of US$500 million annually on importation of rice.
    Mr Speaker, once upon a time, this august House had the opportunity to do something about that and ensured that our own local farmers are incentivised to do that production. Sadly enough, there was the requisite political will that was lacking and the Government had to go back and bring the matter to this House for a rescission of the matter to be undertaken.
    That was a very sad day in my life, that when we had the opportunity to grow our indigenous domestic businesses, we whittled them away on the altar of certain selfish interest that was perpetrated by the rice lobby in this country.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:45 p.m.
    Hon Member, please, wind up.
    Alhaji B. F. Alhassan 1:45 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I am concluding.
    Mr Nitiwul 1:45 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, when you rule on an issue, I believe it behoves all of us to respect that ruling. When the Speaker rules on an issue, it behoves all of us as Members of Parliament to respect that ruling, otherwise, it is the Chair you are not respecting. Mr Speaker, you ruled on an issue but the Hon Member has decided to ignore it and continue to do what you asked him not to do.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:45 p.m.
    Hon Members, I think we have to stick to the ruling that I gave; let us not get back to that area.
    Hon Alhassan, could you conclude your presentation?
    Alhaji B. F. Alhassan 1:45 p.m.
    Thank you very much, Hon Speaker.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:45 p.m.
    Hon Members, it looks like we are enjoying a litany of Dagomba proverbs this afternoon -- [Laughter.] I will all the same, want you to wind up, Hon Member.
    Alhaji B. F. Alhassan 1:45 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I would like to end on this note, that the requisite level of commendation must be given by this House to His Excellency the President on those issues that he so eloquently and competently dealt with, especially my constituents have even
    called me to indicate how proud they felt when His Excellency touched on issues that bother on their very lives -- that is the issue of agriculture and especially rice farming, which would bring back a new lease of life in their lives and also ensure that migration of a lot of our able-bodied young people to the southern part of this country to look for non -existent jobs would become a thing of the past. I think that if somebody cannot see through this
    -- 1:45 p.m.

    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:45 p.m.
    Please, conclude --
    Alhaji B. F. Alhassan 1:45 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, the common saying is that if even your opponent does not like you, when you are swimming, he would say you are generating dust -- [Laughter.]
    On this note, Mr Speaker, I would like to associate myself with the Motion and to urge that we profusely thank His Excellency the President.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:45 p.m.
    Thank you, Hon Member.
    Hon Members, for today, we have come to the end of contributions to the Motion moved to thank His Excellency the President. We will continue with it tomorrow.
    In the meantime, Majority Chief Whip, do you have anything to tell us?
    Alhaji Mohammed-Mubarak Muntaka 1:45 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I thank you sincerely for the endurance and patience but to move, that this House does adjourn until tomorrow before noon to enable Hon Members attend to the various committee meetings that have been scheduled.
    Thank you, Mr Speaker.
    Mr Ignatius Baffour Awuah 1:45 p.m.
    I beg to to second the Motion.
    Question put and Motion agreed to
    ADJOURNMENT 1:45 p.m.

  • The House was accordingly adjourned at 1.50 p.m. till Friday, 1st March, 2013 at 10.00 a.m.