Debates of 1 Mar 2013

PRAYERS 10:30 a.m.


  • [No correction was made to the Official Report of Tuesday, 26th February, 2013.]
  • Mr Speaker 10:30 a.m.
    Business Statement for the Sixth Week.
    Chairman of the Business Committee ?
    BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE 10:30 a.m.

    Mr Alfred K. Agbesi 10:30 a.m.
    (On behalf of the Minister for Government Business in Parliament/Majority Leader): Mr Speaker, with your permission I would want to present the Business Statement for the week on behalf of the Chairman of the Committee.
    Mr Speaker, the Committee met yesterday, Thursday, 28th February, 2013 and arranged Business of the House for the Sixth Week ending Friday, 8th March,
    Mr Speaker, the Committee accor- dingly submits its Report as follows 10:30 a.m.
    Arrangement of Business
    Mr Speaker, your goodself may admit Statements to be made in the House by Hon Members and Ministers of State.
    Bills, Papers and Reports
    Mr Speaker, Bills may be presented to the House for First Reading and those of urgent nature may be taken through the various stages in one day in accordance with Standing Order 119. Papers and committee reports may also be presented to the House.
    Motions and Resolutions
    Mr Speaker, Motions may be debated and their consequential Resolutions, if any, taken during the week.
    Presentation of the Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the Government
    Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister for Finance would present to the House, the Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the Government of Ghana for the year ending 31st December, 2013, on Tuesday, 5th March, 2013. Mr Speaker, the Business Committee therefore, wishes to urge Hon Members to avail themselves on the said date.
    Mr Speaker, in accordance with Standing Order 160(2) and subject to Standing Order 53, the Committee submits to this Honourable House, the order in which the Business of the House shall be taken during the week.


    Presentation of Papers --

    Report of the Appointments Committee on H.E. the President's nominations for ministerial appointments.

    Motions --

    That this Honourable House approves the Financial Policy of the Government of Ghana for the year ending 31st December, 2013.

    (Minister for Finance)

    Committee sittings.

    Public Holiday —Independence Day



    Presentation of Papers

    Motions --

    Adoption of the Report of the Appointments Committee on H.E. the President's nominations for ministerial appointments.

    Committee sittings.


    Presentation of Papers --


    Committee sittings.
    Mr Speaker 10:40 a.m.
    Hon Members, I now invite any comments, if any, on the Business Statement presented to the House.
    Hon Boafo, what is the new name of your constituency?
    Mr William O. Boafo 10:40 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, Akwapim North.
    Mr Speaker 10:40 a.m.
    It used to be Akropong?
    Mr Boafo 10:40 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, it used to be Akropong but when Hon O. B. Amoah changed his constituency to Akwapim South, he made sure that mine be — [Interruption.]
    Mr Speaker 10:40 a.m.
    Very well.
    Hon Member for Akwapim North.
    Mr Boafo 10:40 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, normally, when the Budget is read, the weekend following the reading of the Budget is scheduled for extended Leadership meeting to go through the Budget proposals and acquaint ourselves with the underlying principles.
    I thought we would have had some inkling on this issue from the Business Committee, so that those who will be involved -- the extended Leadership who will be involved may have the opportunity to plan their programme for the weekend. If it is coming on, I hope the Deputy Majority Leader would like us to know.
    Mr Agbesi 10:40 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, after the Budget Statement is read, there would be an extended sitting of Leadership and Chairmen of committees and Ranking Members on the Budget. The date is yet to be fixed and Hon Members would be informed accordingly.
    Mr Speaker 10:40 a.m.
    Hon Deputy Majority Leader, I know that the point raised by the Hon Member for Akwapim North is
    Mr Speaker 10:40 a.m.
    Hon Deputy Majority Chief Whip, when you say Thursday, we have programmed business for Thursday here and we have programmed business for Friday on the Business Statement presented to the House. So, when is the post-budget workshop starting?
    Hajia Baforo: Mr Speaker, we are going to Koforidua on Thursday evening and then on Friday, we start with the programme --
    Mr Speaker 10:40 a.m.
    Hon Member, have you read the Business Statement presented? Friday, we would be here -- from the Business Statement, there is a Sitting on Friday. From the Business Statement, we have Statements, Presentation of Papers, Motions and committee sittings on Friday. So, what is the latest arrangement?
    Dr Benjamin Kunbuor 10:40 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, the idea has been that because it is not the entire House that would be involved in this particular exercise, we should have sought leave before in the Business Statement to ask for Mr Speaker 's permission, so that the Hon Members that are concerned would be able to attend on Thursday after Sitting, and would be
    absent with permission on Friday and the Business of the House could still proceed, Mr Speaker.
    Mr Speaker 10:40 a.m.
    How many Members would be affected? That would determine whether I would grant the permission or not. How many Hon Members would be involved?
    Dr Kunbuor 10:40 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, at the Business Committee, we had charged the Whips to actually do the compilation and bring it to my attention early this morning. Mr Speaker knew that I had commitments very early, so that was why we could not discuss that matter. But we would be checking the numbers to look at the nature of the business and whether the House can proceed without any decision being taken. Otherwise, if we have the quorum, decisions could still be taken within the period, Mr Speaker.
    Mr Boafo 10:40 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I appreciate the programme outline by the Majority Leader. But Mr Speaker, on Friday, we need to do some business in this House and we need the Leadership to lead us in this House. Since Monday is a non-Sitting day, why do we not shift the commencement of the workshop to Friday and extend it to Monday? So, Friday evening, we would report at Koforidua; we would stay over at Koforidua up to Monday and reserve Friday for us to be in the House to assist Mr Speaker.
    Dr Kunbuor 10:40 a.m.
    Yes, we are talking about actual numbers here. I am certainly aware that on the Majority side, 27 Hon Members would be involved in this exercise and I guess about the same number would be involved from the Minority side, if not lower. We are certainly clear that if all Hon Members would attend to the House, there should be sufficient quorum notwithstanding these numbers, for business to take place.
    The Leadership issue that has been raised, would be handled internally between both sides of the House and I am sure the frontbenches of both sides at no point would be left empty in this matter.
    Mr Speaker 10:40 a.m.
    Any other comment? I would want to find out from the Hon Majority Leader whether this position that is being stated on the floor has been firmed up or you are still in the process of discussing it with Leadership?
    Dr Kunbuor 10:40 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, the Hon Minority Leader -- that is why I resumed my seat because I thought he would make a comment on it. This is because this matter did come up at the Business Committee and we concluded by indicating whether the numbers would affect quorum; and we had asked the Whips to do that. I was convinced after the calculation, that it would not affect the quorum of the House, except there have been subsequent developments from the Minority side from what the Whip has done. That has not been communicated to me, but this was a firmed up position.
    Mr Dominic A. B. Nitiwul 10:40 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, the numbers would remain the same unless there is a change.
    But my Colleague really wanted to know whether we could not shift the start of the programme to Friday, so that by Monday -- There was a proposal at the Business Committee rather to Sit on Monday because of the debate of the Budget. I thought that was what the Majority Leader was going to point out to him and that was why I was quiet.
    Dr Kunbuor 10:40 a.m.
    Yes, that is true, Mr Speaker. But it would not have been captured in the Business Statement for this period. It was agreed that on Thursday at the next Business Committee
    meeting, we would indicate it in the Business Report, that we would ask for Mr Speaker's indulgence for the House, in the light of the Financial Policy Statement, to Sit.
    Mr Speaker 10:40 a.m.
    Very well.
    In the absence of further comments, the Business Statement for the Sixth Week is hereby adopted.
    Yes, Hon Majority Leader?
    Dr Kunbour 10:40 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, because I did not have the opportunity to meet you, I was trying to find out whether Mr Speaker had admitted Statements?
    Mr Speaker 10:40 a.m.
    Dr Kunbour 10:40 a.m.
    And so, in the absence of that, I would want us to take item 5 on the Order Paper.
    Mr Speaker 10:40 a.m.
    Hon Members, at the Commencement of Public Business -- Presentation of Papers by the Minister for Finance.
    Dr Kunbour 10:40 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, as of now, there is a Cabinet meeting that is taking place, in which the Hon Minister for Finance is briefing the Cabinet on the Economic Policy that would subsequently be presented to this House and with your leave, I would like to lay the Paper on his behalf.
    Mr Speaker 10:40 a.m.
    Very well.
    PAPERS 10:40 a.m.

    Mr Speaker 10:50 a.m.
    Hon Minister for Information and Media Relations-- Is that the title of the Ministry?
    MOTIONS 10:50 a.m.

    Minister for Information and Media Relations (Mr Mahama Ayariga) (MP) 10:50 a.m.
    Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, for giving me the opportunity to contribute to the Motion before the House, thanking 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, in making my contribution, I will focus on four thematic areas. One will be the “Elections and the Electoral Commission”. The second will be the wage bill issue; the third will be social protection programmes that His Excellency the President outlined; and lastly, Mr Speaker, I will also comment on a new governance style that His Excellency the President put before this House during the State of the Nation Address.
    Mr Speaker, His Excellency, in his address, said and I beg to quote 10:50 a.m.

    Mr Speaker, he further added --

    “This shows that each step of our democratic journey has been marked by improvements. As Ghanaians, we must be proud of this achievement.”

    Mr Speaker, in spite of these obvious truths, this country has since our elections been experiencing an unfortunate development, which tends, in my opinion, to put into question the very reputation and image of our Electoral Commission. Fortunately Mr Speaker, one of the leading figures of our country, and he is no other person than Mr Kwame Mpianim, has spoken on the matter. And his interview was captured eloquently in the Africawatch, February 2013 edition; and he said and with your kind permission Mr Speaker, I beg to quote.

    He cautioned all of us and this is very important and critical:

    “We should however be careful that we do not put unnecessary pressure and stress upon our young judiciary system by presenting the institution with such highly polarizing and emotive issues.”
    Mr Ayariga 10:50 a.m.
    It is a matter that is threatening the very unity of our country and it is a matter that is putting so much stress on the Judiciary of this country. And he is urging us that we should not put too much pressure on this young Judiciary, otherwise -- [Interruption.]
    Mr Nitiwul 10:50 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, the fact that we have immunity to speak on issues in this House should not guide us to make statements that would have otherwise been contemptuous of court outside Parliament.
    Mr Speaker, I am pleading with you to stop him. The direction he is going would not help matters at all. This intervention is not by way of --
    Mr Speaker 10:50 a.m.
    Hon Member, which rule has the Hon Gentleman breached? He is quoting from a magazine; he has the magazine he is referring to, and he said it is Africawatch. He is quoting somebody and we have all quoted several times on the floor of this House. And he is attributing the statement to that person as a basis of his submission before the House. It would have been a different thing if what he is saying is not true. Then in that case, I would call him to order. But he says he is quoting verbatim from the Africawatch magazine.
    Hon Deputy Minority Leader?
    Mr Nitiwul 10:50 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, if he had just quoted Mr Kwame Pianim and continued talking without adding or putting his personal view to it, I would have said nothing. But he made a statement that “the Judiciary is under stress”; Mr Kwame Pianim never said that. Mr Speaker, he never said that; that is why I rose up.
    Mr Speaker 10:50 a.m.
    Hon Member, quote -- What did Mr Kwame Pianim say about the Judiciary?
    Mr Ayariga 10:50 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, he said and let me repeat verbatim:
    “We should however be careful that we do not put unnecessary pressure and stress upon our young Judiciary system by presenting the

    Mr Speaker, these are the words of Mr Kwame Pianim; they are not my words. These are his words. He is saying that these are emotive issues and they are issues that put too much stress on our young Judiciary and that those of us who have the supreme interest of this country at heart must refrain from such conduct, otherwise, we are putting too much stress on our democracy.

    Mr Speaker, he did not end there; he said --

    “As politicians we must know that one of the basic democratic cultures is patience.”

    “Patience”, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, he says that we must be patient.
    Mr Speaker 10:50 a.m.
    Hon Member, you see, in order for us to be with you, you can quote him and if after that you want to pass your comment, you pass the comment. But if you read one sentence and you try to -- So quote him and make your submission, so that we will draw a distinction between those that are quotations and those which are your own words.
    Mr Ayariga 10:50 a.m.
    I will just quote him, after which I will give my opinion on the matter.
    Mr Speaker, let me now take my time and quote him properly 10:50 a.m.
    “For those of us who believe in Ghana's embryonic democratic system, we should all be very careful in dealing with election results. The last thing we want to do is to make people lose faith in the electoral process and lose confidence in the democratic dispensation in the country.
    Mr Ayariga 10:50 a.m.
    Mr Speaker 11 a.m.
    Hon Member, is the quotation wrong? What point of order do you have.
    Mr J. J. Appiah 11 a.m.
    Thank you, Mr Speaker --
    Mr Speaker 11 a.m.
    Hon Member, the man was quoting.
    Mr J. J. Appiah 11 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, my Hon Friend --
    Mr Speaker 11 a.m.
    No, Hon Member for Ablekuma North, is the quotation wrong? The man is quoting. Is the quotation wrong?
    Mr J. J. Appiah 11 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, he is completely out of order. The will of the people of this country should not be jeopardised. The case is in the Supreme Court. We have to wait for the verdict of the Supreme Court. They cannot come to the House and be talking like this. He is completely out of order.
    Mr Speaker 11 a.m.
    Hon Member, you are out of order. Take your seat. You are completely out of order.
    Mr Ayariga 11 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I am happy that they are participating in the debate. [Laughter.] I thought there was a decision not to participate in this debate.
    Mr Speaker, with specific reference to the conduct of the Minority in this House not to participate in deliberating any matter that His Excellency, President John Dramani Mahama, Commander-In-Chief of the Ghana Armed Forces brings to this House -- [Hear! Hear!] --
    Mr Kwame Pianim stated an opinion and with your kind permission, I beg to quote what he said:
    “We should bear in mind also that according to our electoral laws and practices, when a petition is filed in court against the declared results of elections, the status quo prevails until reversed by the court. Until the Supreme Court reverses the declared results of the 2012 elections, all Ghanaians including NPP Members must fully recognise President John Mahama as the legitimate Head of State of the Republic and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.”
    Mr Speaker 11 a.m.
    Hon Member, I hope that you have quoted enough. [Laughter.] You can quote and then you make your submission but we should not devote all the time in quoting -- [Interruption.]
    I have a number of Hon Members who want to contribute to the debate.
    Mr Ayariga 11 a.m.
    That is so, Mr Speaker.
    Mr Speaker 11 a.m.
    Very well.
    Mr Ayariga 11 a.m.
    I take a cue, Mr Speaker.
    Mr Speaker, Kwame Pianim has spoken extensively on the matter of the conduct of a certain section of the political groupings in this country which threatens to undermine democratic institutions such as the Electoral Commission, and it is the conduct of elections and the way that the elections have been conducted in the past several elections we have held that has held the democracy of this country.
    So, to conduct ourselves in ways that undermine this institution, threatens the very foundation of our democracy and I urge all sides to the political divide in this country to reconsider their decisions to boycott everything that has to do with the President, to come back to this House, conduct business in accordance with this Constitution and enable us to maintain our very sound international reputation as stated by Mr Kwame Pianim.
    Mr Speaker, for the records, Mr Kwame Pianim is a very leading senior member of the NPP. He aspired to become the presidential candidate of the NPP until he was restrained by a court order. And his stature in the NPP and in Ghana is well known. That is why when such a person makes a statement about the very foundation of our democracy it is important that all of us on all sides of the House listen to him and listen to him attentively.
    Mr Speaker, I move to the next subject of His Excellency the President's Address and he mentioned the challenges that confront --
    Mr Speaker 11 a.m.
    Hon Member, you have five minutes more.
    Mr Ayariga 11 a.m.
    That is so, Mr Speaker.
    He mentions the challenges that confront this country in the fiscal management of our finances.
    Mr Speaker, the truth of the matter as the President indicated is that we have a major challenge of managing our wage bill. Just to give you an indication of what has happened within the four years of the President Mills-John Mahama presidency, I am mentioning 2009 and ending January, 2013. Salaries, wages, allowances, increased and to borrow the expression of one of my Hon Colleagues, “increased to unprecedented levels.”
    Mr Speaker, take for instance, the salaries of people in the tertiary education sector where I just left. In 2008, a senior lecturer in a university took GH¢1,875 as his monthly salary. Today, in 2012, by the end of 2012, the same lecturer was taking an amount of GH¢4,811.13, a quantum leap from GH¢1,800 to GH¢4,800 within four years --
    Mr Speaker 11 a.m.
    Hon Member, if you want to discuss these things, you should just say a lecturer. Do not go and give the level; the exact position of the person.
    Mr Ayariga 11 a.m.
    That is so, Mr Speaker. I will do that.
    Mr Speaker, another lecturer, if I may use that description, who, in 2008, took GH¢540.00 as his salary, by 2012, had moved from GH¢540 to GH¢3,564 as his salary. No doubt, this is the same with nurses; the same, I believe, also with Hon

    Members of Parliament, with the Judiciary, with the Civil Service, with almost every sector of our economy. Mr Speaker, by the end of 2012, the wage bill including salaries, pensions, et cetera -- this Government had paid in 2012 an amount of over 10 billion. That is for salaries, emoluments and pensions --
    Mr Speaker 11 a.m.
    Is this cedis or Ghana cedis?
    Mr Ayariga 11 a.m.
    Ghana cedis, Mr Speaker.
    Mr Speaker, clearly, we have a major challenge, given the percentage of our national revenues that go into paying the salaries and emoluments. It is necessary and important that as a country, this House engages in a bipartisan debate on this matter and builds a consensus around this subject matter, so that we can guide both the Government and the public appropriately on the type of demands that we should be making on our meagre national revenues.
    Let me conclude on that matter by saying that by the end of 2012, the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT), in its 2011 report, indicated that whereas in the past, salaries, emoluments and conditions of service of the private sector were more attractive than the public sector. Today, as we speak, the emoluments, conditions of service of the public sector are more attractive than the private sector -- and I am quoting their report.
    Mr Speaker 11 a.m.
    Which report and which year?
    Mr Ayariga 11 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, this is the annual report of the Social Security and National Insurance Trust for 2011 and it says in page 12, and I beg to quote:
    Mr Speaker 11 a.m.
    Hon Minister, your time is up. Conclude.
    Mr Ayariga 11 a.m.
    Thank you very much, Mr Speaker.
    Mr Speaker --
    Mr Speaker 11 a.m.
    Your last sentence.
    Mr Ayariga 11 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, in winding up, there has been so much discussion of the deficit. There is no doubt we have a challenge there and that Mr President has indicated that he will confront and deal with. But it is important to place on record that we expanded social protection programmes within the last four years to almost unprecedented levels. [Hear! Hear!] Mr Speaker --
    Mr Speaker 11 a.m.
    Your time is up.
    Mr Ayariga 11:10 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, in winding up, in my last sentence, let me mention that the social protection, programmes spanning the educational sector, the health sector, job creation et cetera have expanded; there were so many beneficiaries, and its geographical spread has also expanded, all in keeping with our commitment to our social democratic vision captured in the Manifesto of the National Democratic Congress.
    On that note, I would want to associate myself with the Motion and to thank His Excellency Mr President for delivering to us such an excellent indication of the state of our nation.
    Nii Lantey Vanderpuye (NDC -- Odododiodioo): Mr Speaker, I thank you for giving me this opportunity to also associate myself with the Motion ably moved by the Hon Member of Parliament for Mion, to thank His Excellency the President for a wonderful, incisive, decisive action, oriented State of the Nation Address.
    Mr Speaker, even though the State of the Nation Address was on four basic pillars, putting people first, a robust economy, expanding infrastructure and open and transparent accountable Government, I would want to focus on the first pillar, “putting people first”.
    Mr Speaker, if you come from a constituency where I come from, the capital of Ghana, Odododiodioo, Ashiedu Keteke, Oduofo Amanfo, anaa nmē anaa tē, you will appreciate the Address given by the President. The people of Odododiodioo will appreciate the President's wonderful rendition, especially expatiating his vision for putting the people first.
    We are so happy that the President, in putting this vision across, elaborated especially “health for all”, and if you permit me, Mr Speaker, I beg to quote from the Address:
    “Presently, our healthcare system still has personnel deficits and service deficiencies despite the facility expansion and human capacity development programmes we have been implementing. In the next four years, we will work towards improving access, service quality, increased personnel, enhanced working conditions across the various professions in the health sector.
    In furtherance of our plan, we will undertake the following:
    1. Construction of an ultra- modern, new teaching hospital for the University of Ghana Medical School…”
    Mr Speaker, I am emphasizing this because normal visits to the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital has shown to me the stress and the pressure on it. Many of our people do not appreciate that that hospital is a referral hospital and as such, even basic ailments, OPD activities are reported to Korle-Bu. They have no options but in situations like that, to take care of such patients.
    Just across the border, we have health facilities that could be upgraded to that level. But because of the level at which it is, my constituents are always forced to go to Korle-Bu for major attention like surgery, caesarean section, deliveries and others. So, I am very happy that the President is going to help in expanding facilities in Korle-Bu and other hospitals across the country.
    But let me go to another section which is of prime importance to me as a person--youth and sports develop- ment. Mr Speaker, sports is one of the disciplines we say has three legs. We think that if any of the legs, like the stool we have in our homes, three- legged stools is broken, it cannot sit or stand. Sports is principally on three legs, its development, its management and promotion. If you relegate any of these legs, you cannot have sports development or sports growth.
    The President mentioned that Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) would be encouraged to build one sporting facility in their districts-- wonderful idea and I thank the President for it.

    We have said so many times that in the past, there was a directive that 5 per cent of the Common Fund to the District Assemblies or the MMDAs should be reserved for sports development. But we all know that these releases to the District Assembly itself are not adequate to take care of the social problems they have, let alone look at sports infrastructure development.

    The current performance of our sports men and women in the various sporting disciplines cannot be compared to the past. The last time we won an African Cup of Nations in football was in 1982. The last time we won medals at the Olympic Games, Mr Speaker, I cannot remember and recollect easily. The various disciplines Ghana used to have as flagships have come low. Go through Odododiodioo, and you would realise that our boxing gyms are nothing to write home about --
    Mr Speaker 11:10 a.m.
    You have one minute more.

    Sports is the passion of this nation. Mr President talked a lot about sports development and I will beg you, Mr Speaker to give me more time.

    Lack of facilities is hindering our development. In time past, human resource development for sports, infrastructure, both in management/ administration and technical aspects were done at the University College of Education, Winneba. Today, that particular discipline is almost off the academic curriculum of the university.

    The President mentioned the reinvigorating of the schools and colleges sports. If you go to our schools, you would realize that we are doing a particular sporting discipline this year and then next year, we do another sporting discipline. They are doing bi-annual sporting activities. This is taking away the interest of the sports men and women in our schools.

    I thank Mr President for saying that admission to schools would be reserved for excellent sportsmen and women. I will ask that it is not only admissions but also scholarships to sportsmen and women in our schools. When we are given admission, we must give them scholarships, so that they can perform better.

    Also, recruitment into our security services, Mr Speaker, a percentage should be reserved for sportsmen and women, so that they can get recruitment. If we recruit sportsmen and women into the security services, the discipline of the institutions also affects their development and helps them to perform better.

    If you go to Kenya, Uganda, Botswana, Algeria, all these countries, the sportsmen are given special recruitment into the security services.

    Mr Speaker, I could give more --
    Mr Speaker 11:20 a.m.
    Hon Member, conclude. I have allowed you more time because I did not inform the House earlier. But Leadership has sent a message to me that, given the number of people we have, everybody should use five minutes each, so that we can take as many people as possible because today is the last day.
    Nii Lantey Vanderpuye: Mr Speaker, thank you very much. I respect your judgement.
    Mr Speaker, in winding up, I would say the President of this country, the elected President of this country -- [Hear! Hear!] -- the visionary John Mahama, the development-oriented John Mahama, the decisive action-driven John Mahama, has really, for the first time in the life of this country, analysed critically the ills of sports development in this country and has proscribed the required measures and programmes to address them.
    Mr Murtala M. Ibrahim (NDC -- Nanton) 11:20 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I rise to support the Motion ably moved by my senior brother, Hon Dr Ahmed Yakubu Alhassan, Member of Parliament for Mion, in thanking His Excellency the President of the Republic of Ghana and the Commander-in-Chief of the Ghana Armed Forces for the State of the Nation Address delivered on the 21st of February, 2013.
    Mr Speaker, as a young man growing and developing the interest to participate in the body politicking of this nation, I took time to monitor every single State of the Nation Address, at least, the Fourth Republic Constitution. I also took time to go through the archives, at least, to peruse similar statements delivered by former Heads of State since independence. Mr Speaker, I shudder to say that listening to His Excellency the President, I could not but compare his statement to some of the statements made by Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah.
    I think it is understandable because such statements certainly can only be made by progressive leadership of this country.
    Mr Speaker, having indicated that as a young man who had interest in politics, I was looking forward to seeing the day that a President would stand before this august House and talk about challenges confronting us without apportioning blame to any individual, group of persons or any political party. I was looking forward to seeing the day that His Excellency the President would address this nation indeed, without saying that Mr ‘A' or ‘B' has created the challenges that confront us.
    I was looking forward to seeing the day that His Excellency the President would admit that we have huge challenges and that we need to galvanize our forces together to be able to overcome them. I never knew that on that day, I would not only be listening to His Excellency the President on radio or watching him on television but I would be sitting in this august House.
    I think that I was absolutely elated, that that day has come and thank God -- In fact, the statement was made by no less a person than the President representing the progressive force of this nation and that progressive force is the centre left democratically elected Government in the person of His Excellency, John Dramani Mahama.
    Mr Speaker, His Excellency the President did so without apportioning blames because probably, he took solace in what Albert Einstein once said and with your permission, I beg to quote:
    “The significant problems that confront us can never be solved with the thinking we had when we created them.”
    His Excellency the President realised that the challenges confronting us can only be solved if we respect what psychologists call “super ordinate problem” that it is a problem that individually, we cannot overcome, we can
    Mr Speaker 11:20 a.m.
    Your five minutes are up.
    Mr M. M. Ibrahim 11:20 a.m.
    I am winding up, Mr Speaker.
    My people have a proverb and with your permission, I beg to quote: lukun lu kun luru ba, which simply means that, the person who has been able to land others in a wrestling, he can come out and knock the chest and say that anybody who comes his way, he will be able to land him. The NDC is saying, it would be able to do some of the things as promised in our Manifesto, and as ably delivered by His Excellency the President. This is because take our 2008 Manifesto, over eighty per cent of the promises made in it was fulfilled --
    Mr M. M. Ibrahim 11:20 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I am winding up.
    The NDC in this country, some of the promises we made are not lofty --
    Mr Speaker 11:20 a.m.
    Hon Member, if you do not conclude, I will cut you. I have the equipment here to cut you.
    Mr M. M. Ibrahim 11:20 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, give me 30 seconds.
    The NDC, indeed, under four years, we were able to provide two public universities, and in this nation, since independence, we provided only four public universities. Mr Speaker, the last time I checked, one of the four public
    universities was created by the NDC. Now, if we say today that we are providing another university in Nana Addo's hometown, I think that it is not a lofty idea, it is an idea that is feasible because we have demonstrated it.
    I call on my Brothers and Sisters, instead of holding another State of the Nation Address, I think that the time should be concentrated on holding the faith of the NPP, which is in shambles, which is shrouded--
    Mr Speaker 11:20 a.m.
    Hon Member, your time is up.
    Mr Benjamin K. Kpodo (NDC -- Ho Central) 11:20 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I rise to support the Motion thanking the President for his address, which I describe as very comprehensive, fundamentally factual, forward looking and hope giving address to this House. My comment will touch very briefly on only three issues.
    For the first one, on page 27, it states and I beg to quote:
    “Political office holders including Ministers of State, Metropolitan, Municipal and Distr ict Chief Executives, CEOs of public institutions and middle and lower management personnel would be required to exhibit a high sense of responsibility and diligently execute their mandate to meet the needs of the ordinary Ghanaians. It must not be business-as-usual.”
    Mr Speaker, clearly, the President has asked these officials to do a lot of things and these are heavy burdens. But they need to operate within the laws of this country, and of great relevance is Act 663, which is the Public Procurement Act of 2003. The Act, everybody knows, has the
    intention of ensuring transparency, fairness and accountability in our procurement of goods, services and construction contracts. However, Mr Speaker, from experience, I can say that, certain provisions in this Act, as they currently are, have affected expeditious processing and execution of projects under the mandates given to these officials of Government.
    Section 31 of the Act stipulates the threshold of procurement methods and section 3 (2) of the Act stipulates the threshold for review and authorization by Chief Executives and the Review Board. Mr Speaker, because of time, I will just refer to the first provision. I think we can always refer to the Schedule to know what I am referring to.
    Chief Executives in this category, Managing Directors, Vice Chancellors, Director-Generals and other heads of institution who are to execute the projects referred to by the President have authorisation limit which are very, very small.
    For goods, Managing Directors can only approve up to GH¢5,000.00 and for construction contracts, they can approve only up to GH¢10,000.00. Then the tender committees of these institutions can also approve very limited amounts rising up to GH¢100,000.00 where it is another public institution other than the decentralised units. All other procurement activities have to receive approval from various tender review boards.
    Mr Speaker, you will note also that when there are variations occasioned by price fluctuations, or when there are modifications, one would need to comply with section 87 of the Act and that goes through the same procedure. Mr Speaker, I think this law which was passed 23 years ago, requires drastic changes. They are no longer suitable for the 2013 operations, especially regarding the thresholds which
    Mr Speaker 11:30 a.m.
    Hon Member, your time is up.
    Mr Kpodo 11:30 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, can you give me some more time, please?
    Mr Speaker 11:30 a.m.
    Mr Kpodo 11:30 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, the Single Spine Salary Structure (SSSS) has really brought “the meat to the bones” but it is difficult to crush the bones. The only way is to increase the meat which is on the bone by collecting more revenue, more taxes from those who should pay, not necessarily levying new ones, so that we can be able to manage the payroll of this country.
    Finally, Mr Speaker, I would want to --
    Mr Speaker 11:30 a.m.
    Hon Member, conclude, please.
    Mr Kpodo 11:30 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I am concluding.
    I would want to state that we the people of the Volta Region are very, very delighted, therefore, very happy that the eastern corridor road is high on the President's agenda. We believe that this would be --
    Mr Speaker 11:30 a.m.
    Your last sentence --
    Mr Kpodo 11:30 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, the last sentence is that -- [Laughter] -- we are prepared to be the World Bank, delivering the votes to the NDC but that we would want to see the higher level of economic development through the construction of this road in good enough time. Mr Speaker you were in --
    Mr Speaker 11:30 a.m.
    Hon Member, your time is up. Hon Member, do not bring me into your debate -- [Interruptions] -- Hon Member, your time is up!
    The next person, Dr Dominic Ayine.
    Mr Kpodo 11:30 a.m.
    Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity.
    Dr Dominic Akuritinga Ayine (NDC -- Bolgatanga East) 11:30 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I rise to support the Motion moved by the Hon Member for Mion Constituency (Dr. Ahmed Yakubu Alhassan), urging this august House to thank His Excellency the President, John Dramani Mahama for the State of the Nation Address.
    Mr Speaker, the Address by His Excellency can be best described as a true reflection of the state of our nation. In fact, if you take account of the provisions made for developing this country, we can describe it as a transformational State of the Nation Address. It is a true reflection of our economy, of our politics, and of our society.
    Mr Speaker, notwithstanding the so- called true State of the Nation Address presented by the Minority, the fact still remains that the proposals contained in the Address of His Excellency are welfare- enhancing for our country.
    Mr Speaker, a major theme that runs through and in fact, underlies the President's Address to this House is that of putting people first.
    Mr Speaker, on page 1 of the Address, the President said and I beg to quote 11:30 a.m.
    “As a social democratic party, we put people first”.
    This theme runs through the President's Address like red thread through white calico.
    Mr Speaker, I would want to take the opportunity to deconstruct this rather deceptively simple statement for the edification of our compatriots in the Minority. This is because time and again, they have sought to misrepresent who we are, and what we stand for to the Ghanaian people. They have often sought to devide and denigrate our social democratic credentials by misrepresenting the values for which we are in politics. They have called us all sorts of names including champagne socialists and what have you.
    Indeed, the other day, Mr Speaker, Hon Professor Gyan- Baffuor joked during the meeting of the Committee on Trade and Industry that, because the NDC is a socialist party, its members only know how to share wealth but not how to create it. My witness is the Chairman of the Trade and Industry Committee, Hon Alhaji Sorogho.
    Alhaji A. B. Sorogho 11:30 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I would want to thank my brother.
    In a Committee meeting, whatever that we discuss there remains in the Committee until we bring the Report here. So, I will beg that he does not quote what happens there on the floor, until a formal report is brought to Mr Speaker. It is only an advice that I am giving to him.
    Thank you, Mr Speaker.
    Dr Ayine 11:30 a.m.
    Thank you, Mr Speaker.
    But I thought that the committees are an extension of this House and that whatever is said in the committee must reflect in the official record.
    But Mr Speaker, what I am referring to, the perception that we are socialists who only know how to share wealth but not how to create it, is a misrepresentation of what we stand for as a party. Mr Speaker, social democracy is not necessarily the same as socialism. There are socialists who strongly reject democracy and who favour more authoritarian approaches to politics and the NDC is not such a party.
    Social democracy entails the willingness to use politics and political power to protect citizens from the harsh effects of unregulated markets and that is what our opponents in the Minority stand for. The proposition that matters must not be regulated, they must be allowed to allocate resources efficiently without Government intervention and we are against that.
    Mr Speaker, Hon Members will remember that during the days of the PNDC, the PNDC implemented a policy known as the Programme of Action to Mitigate the Social Costs of Adjustment. This was in line with the thinking that structural adjustment was inimical to the welfare of the poor, therefore, there was the need for certain Government interventions.
    Mr Speaker, in tandem with the constitutional injunction with article 1, that political power be exercised in the name of and for the welfare of the people, we in the NDC are committed to the full realisation of basic social and economic rights for all Ghanaians. This social democratic commitment requires us in Government, to engage in the constructive use of politics to tame matters and to guarantee access to resources by the socially excluded to meet their basic needs.
    Mr Speaker, the President's Address to this House strongly reflects this commitment to social democracy. In the
    Mr Speaker 11:30 a.m.
    Your time is up; conclude.
    Dr Ayine 11:30 a.m.
    Yes, Mr Speaker, I am about to conclude.
    He promised the elimination of all schools under trees by 2016, again, anchoring the State of the Nation Address in the right to education for all Ghanaians.
    Mr Speaker, he has created the Ministry for Gender, Children and Social Protection, again, making sure that the socially excluded are protected by our society and that they are not left to the vagaries of the market.
    Finally, he promised the creation of small claims courts to deliver justice and bring justice to the doorsteps of the people. The basic point I am making—
    Mr Speaker 11:40 a.m.
    Conclude, conclude.
    Dr Ayine 11:40 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, in conclusion, the basic point I am making is that, as a social democratic Government, we are commited to ensuring that the socially excluded in our society are brought into the mainstream of economic, political and social activities.
    With these few words, I associate myself with the views already expressed, and in support of the Motion.
    Mr Wisdom Gidisu (NDC -- Krachi East) 11:40 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I thank you for the
    Mr Speaker 11:40 a.m.
    Hon Nelson Abudu.
    Mr Nelson Abudu Baani (NDC-- Daboya/Mankarigu) 11:50 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to contribute to the Motion ably moved by the Senior Member for Mion, Hon Dr Ahmed Yakubu Alhassan. I feel exceptionally honoured because this is the first time I am making a presentation in this august House and especially as it relates to the President's State of the Nation Address. I am most elated.
    Mr Speaker, as I listened attentively to His Excellency the President's Address, I was touched by his composure, the calm disposition and the cool and collected manner in which he delivered his message. The message carried all the ingredients that a nation would need for her development. It was comprehensive, coherent, straightforward and above all, delivered in a very simple language that was understandable to all. This approach made all of us focused on the contents and the substance of the message.
    Those of us who even staged a walkout were found parading at the corridors of this House and peeping into the Chamber just to catch a glimpse of the President. The President actually spoke to the entire nation and I believe this got stuck into the minds of the broad spectrum of the population. This obviously is a mark of a true leader.

    Mr Speaker, permit me to outline a few areas that are of prime interest to me and also the entire nation, which border on revenue generation. As a customs officer, and for that matter, a revenue collector - - [Laughter] -- I know how difficult it is to collect revenue for the nation. In fact, Mr Speaker, it is just like giving a smoked fish to a cat to keep.

    The President's Address, Mr Speaker, has therefore come as a challenge to me because I saw that the day he was delivering the message, he was looking directly into my face because he knew there was a customs officer here --
    Mr Speaker 11:50 a.m.
    Are you still a customs officer?
    Mr Baani 11:50 a.m.
    No! Mr Speaker, a former customs officer.
    Mr Speaker, let me stress that this House should do all within its powers to support all the revenue collection agencies to plug the various loopholes at our ports and stations, where smuggling is the order of the day. Mr Speaker, I am hoping that, if this House should put its hands on deck, it would help to eradicate the corruption that exists among customs officers.
    But for the President to touch on revenue, it is an indictment on me to tell this House that, from today onwards, we the Members of Parliament should help the revenue agencies, so that we can maximize the needed revenue that we want.
    Mr Speaker, on this note, I thank you for giving me the opportunity for the first time -- [Hear! Hear!] -- and I hope you would continue to give me opportunities to make contributions every week, so that I would polish my statements.
    Mr Speaker 11:50 a.m.
    Hon Members, it is now the turn of the Hon Majority Leader.
    Hon Majority Leader, I presume you are winding up for your side?
    Minister for Government Business in Parliament/Majority Leader (Dr Benjamin Kunbuor) 11:50 a.m.
    That is so, Mr Speaker. But I very much would have liked the Hon Deputy Minority Leader to join me in this winding up as a duty of the House.
    Much as there was not active participation, I have heard points of order and interjections and I guess that that could serve as a useful point for us to wind up in a manner in which we set the stage for the possible next Sessional Address. So, I would avail him that opportunity before I resume my speech.
    Mr Dominic Nitiwul 11:50 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I gave an indication the way we wanted business to be conducted in the House from our side, that we were not availing ourselves to the debate and we also reserve the right to correct some wrong impressions and also insinuations or things that could be attributed to us. So, if there were interjections, they were aimed at those corrections and not the real debate itself. Though unfortunate as it is, we would still stand by it and ask the Majority Leader to continue with it.
    Dr Kunbuor 11:50 a.m.
    Thank you very much, Mr Speaker.
    In all social endeavours, the right to waive your right to any type of situation is permissible in democratic engagements but I know the Hon Members on the Minority side are with us in this winding up.
    Mr Speaker, basically, I might not be able to go into the substance of this debate. Most Hon Members have been able to address these issues and have done so very well over this period. I certainly would be touching on one or two matters, that first of all, address a very central issue in H. E. the President's Sessional Address and with Mr Speaker's permission, I beg to quote page 32, the last paragraph:
    “I reaffirm my commitment to uniting Ghanaians as one people. We are a nation of diverse cultures and religious beliefs; there is a tremendous amount of beauty in our diversity. While we celebrate our diversity, let us explore what unites us instead of focusing on the things that divide us.”
    Mr Speaker, I would like to add that beyond the other diversities which enrich us as a nation, as His Excellency has mentioned in the Sessional Address, I would say we equally acknowledge that in a plural democratic system, political diversity is a very significant and important matter. And in political diversity, there certainly would be divergent views on a number of matters.
    On the issues that unite us, Mr Speaker, I am yet to hear of a political persuasion that does not believe in a better Ghana. What I have actually heard are the pathways to a better Ghana.
    So, almost all political parties believe that Ghana should be a better place and that in my view, becomes significant and that is the first context in which I intend to put this Sessional Address -- That the four pillars here are the main thematic areas that hold together our collective vision as a people for a better Ghana.
    But Mr Speaker, I would want to open up this winding up remarks with a story, because yesterday we were treated to a number of proverbs, particularly from Dagbon. I would not want to overload us with the proverbs but to give a very interesting story that would be useful to both sides of this House.
    There was a time that the kite -- that bird that flies very, very fast, invited the slow chameleon to a wrestling contest. The chameleon told the kite that, much as
    Dr Kunbuor 12:10 p.m.

    The lesson about this is that, a Sessional Address which is based on article 67 of the Constitution, is debated and enriched tremendously on the floor of the House; and that is why it saddens me that we did not get the experience from debates that were taking place in relation to this matter outside the House under circumstances, that a right of reply was literally denied.

    I say this because I have heard segments of those debates and a very significant point was registered that one of the low points of the Sessional Address was that, under article 67 of the 1992 Constitution, the President was enjoined to actually structure the Address to address the Directive Principles of State Policy. In other words, the policy objectives contained in Chapter 6 of the 1992 Constitution.

    With the greatest respect to those views, there is nothing in article 67 that enjoins the President to actually curl his Address in relation to those objectives in the Directive Principles of State Policy and I would want to use the floor of this House to correct that impression.

    Certainly, on page one of His Excellency's Address, he did state clearly that he was actually coming under article 67. And the essentials under article 67, is to indicate the state of the nation. The

    rest is a matter of style and His Excellency the President's style was to use the architectural metaphor of pillars and that metaphor was to capture in the minds of Ghanaians, that Ghana intends to rise up as a very strong foundation and move on for a “Better Ghana” for all of us. This is the context in which we should look at the Sessional Address.

    I do know, under article 179, His Excellency the President would cause to also be laid before this House shortly, the revenues and expenditures for this particular budget cycle and that would be another constitutional duty that would be on this House, and that in my view, would be a continuation of the debate. And that provides the synergy between the Sessional Address and the Financial Policy Statement.

    That is why I particularly have grieved that, if one joins this debate late, the temptation for one not to see the synergy between the Sessional Address and the Economic Policy Statement might be missed. But I do trust my Hon Colleagues on the other side of the House that they are agile enough to be able to connect the two in the subsequent debate on the policy statement that would come before the House.

    I have also observed, Mr Speaker, that only one pillar of the four pillars of His Excellency's Address is what is being attacked with varying degrees of success. And it is gratifying to me that with the three pillars left, the Sessional Address is still on firm ground and will stand the test of time. That is why I guess that, we have as a nation, to address a number of very significant issues.

    One, no country retrogresses. And it is sad when people are making a comparison between what happened in the First, Second, Third and Fourth

    Parliaments of this House as a basis and a standard for what should happen in the Sixth Parliament of the Fourth Republic. This country can only go forward; she cannot afford to go backwards. And we expect that we must, as much as possible, enrich every parliamentary Session and that what might have transpired in the Fourth or Fifth or Third Parliament would be one that we leave behind, pick the best of those Parliaments and improve upon them. And history is particularly, very paradoxical in relation to how we learn those lessons.

    One of the best opportunities that this country had in the Fourth Republic was to have had a very vibrant Parliament with all shades of political opinion in the First Parliament. Unfortunately, the First Parliament lost a great deal of experience of a major political party in this country. It is possible that the consequence of that absence, is still with us and I say that for very, very good reasons.

    One, almost all the constitutional laws of some substance, that were supposed to put on the ground the various constitutional structures from Human Rights Commission, to National Commis- sion for Civic Education to National Media Commission and you can take more significantly the Decentralization Law on Local Government-- It is particularly interesting that all these laws were passed in the absence of a very articulate segment of the political divide in this country. That is a lesson that should never, never be repeated in the history of this country.

    That is why as Hon Leader of the House, I will continue to plead with my Hon Colleagues on the other side, that perhaps, let us make this the last opportunity to engage in an exercise that

    will not only benefit the Minority side, but will most significantly enrich democratic governance in this country and would begin to let Ghanaians see what are the alternatives to the social democratic agenda that they should be anticipating in subsequent constitution of government in this country.

    Mr Speaker, putting people first, which is the first and significant pillar as far as I am concerned, in the Sessional Address, is particularly apt. Quite often, social democracy as an ideology or a political practice or pathway to follow is sometimes associated with very mystical things, and I was particularly happy to hear Hon Dr Ayine indicate that social democracy is certainly not synonymous with socialism.

    I certainly do not understand what people mean by being socialist but I know that in social democracy, every activity that a social democrat is involved in, he raises the social to a higher pedestal as against atomized individuals. This notion is not new in our intellectual discourse. All the debate about structure and agency over the years has been one of whether an atomized individual or the wider society is significant and should be given a place of priority.

    I do remember, Mr Speaker, that the iron lady of the United Kingdom, then Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher made a statement that there was no such thing as a society and that was certainly consistent with a conservative party ideology. For us as social democrats, we believe clearly that there is something called “society”. And for those of us who come from Africa, our social fabrics have been woven around collectivities and woven around society.

    Perhaps, why we are still searching for development paradigms, the right development paradigms for our development
    Mr Speaker 12:10 p.m.
    Hon Members, that brings us to the end of the debate. I shall now put the Question.
    Question put and Motion agreed to.
    That this Honourable House thanks H.E. the President for the Message on the State of the Nation which he delivered to Parliament on Thursday, 21st February, 2013.
    Mr Speaker 12:10 p.m.
    Hon Members, in accordance with the Motion and the practice of this House, I shall formally convey the gratitude of the House to His Excellency the President for his Message on the State of the Nation delivered to this Honourable House on Thursday, the 21st of February, 2013.
    Hon Members, I thank you very much for your support.
    Hon Majority Leader?
    Dr Benjamin Kunbuor 12:10 p.m.
    In the absence of any other matter, Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that the House be adjourned to Tuesday next week at 10.00 o'clock in the forenoon.
    Mr Dominic Nitiwul 12:10 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion.
    Question put and Motion agreed to.
    ADJOURNMENT 12:10 p.m.

  • The House was accordingly adjourned at 12.11 p.m. till Tuesday, 5th March, 2013, at 10.00 a.m.