Debates of 26 Nov 2013

PRAYERS 10:45 a.m.


  • [No correction was made to the Votes and Proceedings of Friday, 22nd November, 2013.]
  • Mr Speaker 10:45 a.m.
    Hon Members, I have deferred Statements, so that we move on to the Commencement of Public Business.
    Dr Benjamin B. Kunbuor 10:45 a.m.
    Mr Speak- er, if we could take item 4.
    Mr Speaker 10:45 a.m.
    Very well. Presentation of Papers.
    PAPERS 10:45 a.m.

    Dr Kunbuor 10:45 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, we can now go to the Motion, item 5.
    Mr Speaker 10:45 a.m.
    Item 5 -- Motion --
    Chairman of the Finance Committee and Member of Parliament for Ketu North.
    MOTIONS 10:45 a.m.

    Mr James K. Avedzi (NDC -- Ketu North) 10:45 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to second the Motion, re- questing the House to approve the Budget Statement and Economic Policy of Gov- ernment for the 2014 financial year, which was presented to Parliament on Tuesday, 19th November, 2013 by the Minister for Finance, Mr Seth Terkpeh on the authority of His Excellency, John Dramani Mahama, the President of the Republic of Ghana.
    Mr Ignatius Baffour-Awuah 10:45 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I guess my Colleague on the other side is seconding the Motion. Unfor- tunately, none of the Ministers for Finance is here; and I think that since this is an important debate, at least, one of them should be here.
    Dominic B. A. Nitiwul: Mr Speaker, my Hon Colleague is raising this matter because, once the Motion stands in the name of the Minister, of course, through the President, through the Minister, they need to be here to respond to every detail that Members make.
    This is the first time that we are debat- ing the Budget and the three Ministers, the Minister and his two deputies-- none of them is here. Are they trying to tell us that they are not taking this debate serious? They cannot do this. I do not believe that they want to tell us that they themselves are not taking the Budget as a serious matter. Three of them and not a single one is here. What are they taking Parliament for?
    Dr Kunbuor 10:45 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I guess that the concern is well taken. This is because as a matter of procedure, the mover of a Motion should normally be present when the Motion is being seconded, just in case the seconder is not addressing the substance of the Motion. But it is just a housekeeping matter. They are walking across from the seminar, from the Inter- national Conference Centre. So, I know that in the next couple of minutes, they would be here.
    Mr Nitiwul 10:45 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, that is very
    difficult to accept. This is because the work of Parliament takes precedence over any other thing that the Minister should be doing at this particular time, especially with the Budget. It is the most critical thing in the life of any country and for him to be addressing a particular seminar across the street there, is not a good rea- son. I know the Majority Leader himself is uncomfortable with what is going on.
    But of course, he is just for being the leader of Government Business, he wants
    to at least, defend him. But what they are doing is untenable. It is disrespect for Par- liament; it is untenable and Mr Speaker, I would urge you to let us stand down this debate and get them to this House imme- diately before we can start.
    Dr Kunbuor 10:45 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, definitely, I am uncomfortable, but we have conceded that we think it is irregular and trying to indicate what is practical.
    So, it is certainly not a state of affairs that one thinks is useful.
    So the essence of my intervention was to concede that it was irregular, but we have to also do things and take them at a practical level while Leadership addresses this matter, not necessarily on the floor of the House.
    Mr Speaker 10:55 a.m.
    Hon Majority Leader, I get the understanding that the Minister or his Deputies would be joining us soon. How long would it take for them to join us? I would want to have an idea, then I know the kind of indication to give.
    Dr Kunbuor 10:55 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I think they should be here between five and ten minutes time. [Interruption.]
    Mr Speaker 10:55 a.m.
    Should I take it that within the next ten minutes, we should expect them in?
    Dr Kunbuor 10:55 a.m.
    That is it, Mr Speaker.
    Mr Speaker 10:55 a.m.
    What happens after the expiration of the ten minutes?
    Dr Kunbuor 10:55 a.m.
    Well, Mr Speaker, there are consequences associated with the nature of your directive. But I am almost sure that we would not have to cross that line.
    Mr Speaker 10:55 a.m.
    Hon Members, I direct that we allow ten minutes while the debate
    continues, based on the assurance given by the Hon Majority Leader. But it is an important point.
    Financial Policy debate is an impor- tant debate in any Parliament worth its sort and I expect that those who come to the House and move the Motion and we listen to them, when it comes to the turn for Members of Parliament (MPs) also to speak, they should also be in the House to listen to them.
    It is only fair, especially so, when they may have the opportunity of winding up and to clarify certain issues that may be raised on the floor of the House. But we take the assurance of the Hon Majority Leader on the floor of the House and allow the debate to start while we wait for them within the ten minutes. After the ten min- utes, the House would decide what to do.
    Dr Kunbuor 10:55 a.m.
    Most obliged.
    Mr Speaker 10:55 a.m.
    Hon Member, you may continue.
    Mr Avedzi 10:55 a.m.
    Thank you Mr Speaker for the opportunity to second the Motion, requesting the House to approve the Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the Government of Ghana for the 2014 financial year, presented to Parliament on Tuesday, 19th November, 2013, by Mr Seth E. Terkpeh, on the authority of His Excellency, John Dramani Mahama, the President of the Republic of Ghana.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Mo- tion and also ask Hon Members of the House to support and approve the various policy initiatives being proposed by the Government.

    Mr Speaker, before I touch on the various policy initiatives proposed by Government, I would like to reiterate a point made by the Hon Minister for Fi- nance in paragraphs 5 and 6 of the Budget Statement.

    The Hon Minister reminded the House that, in the 2013 Budget, one of the pri- mary objectives of Government was to deal with high budget deficit caused by overruns that were highlighted in specific details. He explained to the House and the nation that Government indicated clearly that fundamentals of the economy were strong and the nation's medium-term prospects were also bright.

    Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister made it clear that while implementing pro- grammes to stabilise the Lower Level Middle Income Country Status and focusing on correcting the short-term im- balances in the management of the public purse, it has led to some misconceptions and deliberate distortions of the economic performance of government.

    Mr Speaker, between 2009 and 2013, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Government, through sound economic policies and priority interventions, has more than doubled Ghana's GDP in nom- inal terms.
    Dr Kunbuor 10:55 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I would want to draw your attention that the Hon Deputy Minister for Finance is here and
    the Hon Minister would join us soon. Since this matter is time-bound, I would just want to draw your attention.
    Mr Avedzi 10:55 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, the Real GDP growth rate for Ghana averaged 7 per cent in recent times in spite of all the known challenges. The 7 per cent GDP growth rate is much higher than sub-Saharan Af-
    rican average of 4.9 per cent and a global average of 3.2 per cent. The provisional 7.4 per cent for 2013 also shows a positive growth rate for all the sub-sectors of the economy.
    Mr Speaker, according to the Interna- tional Monetary Fund (IMF), Ghana is globally among three African countries
    (South Africa and Nigeria being the other) to have attracted highest Foreign Direct In-
    vestment (FDI) with accumulated volume of more than US$10 billion for the past decade, reflecting high investor confidence in the economy.
    Mr Speaker, Ghana, despite the short- term challenges, has won the confidence of the International Financial Markets with stable domestic bond performances as well as the successful issue of the sec- ond International Sovereign Bond which was oversubscribed to the tune of US$1.5 billion. Ghana can now conveniently adopt the capital market source as one of its sources of financing development projects.
    2013 Outturn
    Mr Speaker, even though the inflation figure for October, 2013, is 13.1 per cent as a result of the effect of fuel and utility price increases and demand pressures, I believe strongly that this situation would not be the same for the year 2014. The end year inflation target of 9.5 per cent within +2 per cent is a target which is achievable.
    Public debt
    Mr Speaker, I hear people talk about the rising public debt. They kept asking if the Government should continue to borrow. I personally think that while this is a legitimate question to ask, one would wonder why these people did not stop asking Government to stop providing the numerous infrastructural needs of this country. The internationally accepted Debt/GDP ratio is 60 per cent and Ghana is even below this level.
    Mr Speaker 11:05 a.m.
    Do you have a point of order?
    DrA. A. Osei 11:05 a.m.
    Yes, Mr Speaker. My Chairman just said that the internationally accepted standard is 60 per cent. That is not entirely correct. It is so for a lower middle-income country, but it is not the same for everybody. So, he needs to clarify that properly.
    Mr Avedzi 11:05 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, the point is well taken. He has even enriched my point. For a middle-income country, it is even higher, but I am using the lower level
    Space for Sub-Sector Growth rate - page 5 - 10.55 a.m.
    Mr Avedzi 11:05 a.m.

    income in the country. So, if we are in the middle- income, we should be around 90 or 100 per cent.

    Mr Speaker, I think that it is better for Government to borrow to provide for its citizens and pay for it later than wait for the people to suffer for fear of borrowing, simply because of the Debt/GDP ratio. This would not help us as a country.

    Mr Speaker, I also would want to talk about one very important issue that the Budget has captured and that is the Con- tingency Fund. Mr Speaker, the Consti- tution, in articles 175 and 177, established the Contingency Fund, that would enable Government to meet urgent and unfore- seen needs for expenditure. Since the start of constitutional rule in 1993, no Govern- ment has been able to operationalise the provisions in the Constitution.

    The result of the absence of the Contin- gency Fund is the usual over -spending by Government, due to payment for unbudg- eted activities. Mr Speaker, with the estab- lishment of the Contingency Fund by this Government, I hope spending above the appropriation would be a thing of the past.

    Ghana Infrastructure Fund

    Mr Speaker, Government is also es- tablishing the GIF to deal with the huge infrastructure deficit would and to focus on the infrastructure that would lead to job creation for our people.

    SME Fund

    Mr Speaker, Government is also creating a Fund solely dedicated to the provision of credit to the SMEs in the country. The Fund will be a revolving one to provide support for SMEs on a pilot basis with an initial amount of GH¢50 million. Let us all support this and ask that the Ministry puts measures in place

    to ensure that the Fund is adequately managed, so that it would not be as though Government is providing free money for these businesses. If structures are put in place, recovery rate would be high and the Fund would be sustained.

    Revenue mobilisation

    Government planned to improve reve- nue mobilisation through tax effectiveness and efficiency measures such as

    plug leakages and loopholes in tax administration;

    widen the tax net;

    undertake direct tax audit;

    intensify customs post-clearance reconciliation; and

    intensify VAT reconciliation and payroll tax auditing to ensure that uncollected taxes are recovered.

    Measures have also been taken on the following areas:

    Personal Income Tax (PIT)

    Rent Income Tax

    Tax Stamps

    Transfer Pricing Windfall Profit Tax

    Tax Expenditures

    Management and Technical Fees

    Free Income Tax Assessment Bu- reau (FITAB)

    Electronic Point of Sale Device Scheme

    Construction Industry Scheme

    Valuation Assurance Programme

    Rewards to Informants

    Petroleum Excise and Road Fund Levy

    Taxation of Capital Gains for Petro- leum operations

    Reviewing the tax rate for free zones enterprises.

    Mr Speaker, all these efforts are meant
    Mr Speaker 11:15 a.m.
    You used 15 minutes.
    Yes, Hon Ranking Member of the Fi- nance Committee and MP for Old Tafo, you have 20 minutes.

    Question Proposed.

    Dr Anthony A. Osei (NPP -- Old

    Tafo): Mr Speaker, I wish to contribute to the Motion, that this Hous0e approves the Financial Policy of the G0?\ vernment for the fiscal year ending 31st December,


    Mr Speaker, in the past two years, dur- ing the Budget debate, I had an occasion to call Mr Speaker's attention to two issues. One of them related to the non-compliance with the Act of Parliament, Act 815, which is the Petroleum Revenue Management Act and the other was the constitutional breach that related to exceeding the Ap- propriation Act.

    Mr Speaker, I wish to state for the records, that at least, this year, on the basis of prodding from this side, the Hon
    Mr Speaker 11:15 a.m.

    Minister has fully complied with these two provisions and for that, we must commend him.

    Nevertheless, Mr Speaker, I would want to draw your attention to one other fact, which is important to Parliament. It appears that the Auditor-General is still not providing audited accounts of the Petro- leum Revenue Account. For 2011/12, we do not have that; so, the Minister cannot fully comply with it and we cannot fully comply with our job. So, I urge you to invite the Auditor-General to bring the audited accounts to Parliament.

    Mr Speaker, a few months ago, this side of the House had an occasion to have a press conference in which we described the true state of the economy, when all along, the impression was being given that all was fine. Soon thereafter, to his credit, the Hon Minister went public to say that times were indeed, hard. The President followed suite, to face reality and started talking about challenges in the economy; and he is reported to have said that we were down to the bones.

    Mr Speaker, just a few weeks ago, our Vice Presidential Candidate, Dr Maha- mudu Bawumia, at an inaugural lecture at the International Conference Centre, tried to help Ghana by talking about how bringing discipline in the economic management of the economy would help Ghana.

    Mr Speaker, some people -- I would not mention names -- who have no idea about economics, tried to vilify him in public, when they themselves are not even capable of understanding what he was talking about. The man was trying to talk as a Ghanaian and bring attention to what we are now facing. Mr Speaker, when we are discussing the economy, it affects all of us; so, all of us should please get serious about it.

    Mr Speaker, I am sure you yourself

    can attest to the fact that times are indeed, hard when an Hon Member of this House

    informed you that Parliament was broke. I think you heard that view coming. What the Hon Minister presented on Tuesday, clearly, is an acceptance of the difficult times that we all face. In fact, it is not a surprise that this year taxes were raised earlier and that, as we all know, there was a directive not to have any new contracts awarded.

    Mr Speaker, we are all aware that there

    are arrears in the District Assemblies Common Fund (DACF), Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund), National Insur- ance Levy, Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) payments, et cetera. Mr Speaker, the truth is that, what we are experiencing in 2013 -- these hard challenging times --are simply a hangover from the excessive over-spending of 2012. The chicken have come home to roost and we must all face realities and deal with it.

    Mr Speaker, whether fiscal 2014 would be better than 2013, is yet to be seen. I would come to that later.

    Now, Mr Speaker, I would not try to go into all the areas that are in the Budget Statement because of time constraints. I would try to focus on the fiscal situation. This is because that is at the heart of the crisis that we are facing. But Mr Speaker, before I do that, I believe the Chairman and the Hon Minister have already told us that almost all the major macro targets were missed. That in itself, is not good for Ghana.

    But what is even worse, Mr Speaker, is that we are in the West African region; we are neighbours; we think that we are the gateway to West Africa. Mr Speaker, guess what? Ghana was last in meeting the primary convergence criteria. We met only one out of four. Liberia, a post-con- flict State did better; Sierra Leone did better; Nigeria met all four. Ghana just met one.

    Mr Speaker, it talks about our competi- tiveness and we should not be happy about it. Mr Speaker, Saturday, I was quoted as saying that even in the mediocrity, we are last; it is not good for Ghana. If you go to the secondary convergence criteria, Ghana met two out of six. As a Ghanaian, I am not happy that we seem to be trailing. So, we all need to get serious.

    Mr Speaker, let me now focus on per- formance for 2013, situate it in the context, so that we can look at performance for


    Mr Speaker, I would not go into the growth rate numbers -- I would just skip that. Let me rather deal with revenue performance. If you take a look at, I be- lieve page 27 -- Mr Speaker, since Hon Members have the book, I would not go through the details. But the picture there is worrying.

    Mr Speaker, we missed our targets in all the major revenue categories. This is not me saying it, this is page 27. That is not a good sign at all. The total tax revenue collected was GH¢10 billion as against a target of GH¢12.1 billion. If you go down the list, every tax tag, maybe, except CST, was missed.

    Mr Speaker, what is even more wor- rying is that, for the period from January to September, if you calculate the tax to Growth Domestic Product (GDP) ratio, you would get a ratio of 12 per cent. Mr Speaker, 12 per cent. With this perfor- mance, the Government is projecting that by the end of the year, the tax ratio would rise to 18 per cent. Mr Speaker, if in nine months, you had 12 per cent, and you are telling me that in three months, you are going to improve it by 50 per cent, it is only by a miracle. Mr Speaker, it would not happen.

    Mr Speaker, if you go to read the budg-

    ets from 2009 to date, this is what we are

    seeing. Revenue is always over-estimat- ed; then we would come and end up and look for reasons. Mr Speaker, if I were to assign a reason, I might say that it is poor forecasting. But that is not the end of the story.

    Mr Speaker, if you missed all these revenue targets and then the Ministry of Finance tells us that they have paid GH¢75 million to a company which was supposed to assist in revenue collection, but did not do their job, then you begin to worry; it is frightening.

    Even technical people are not collect- ing, then they are paying money or are be- ing directed to pay money for somebody to assist, who is doing nothing. Mr Speaker, clearly, it is not only poor forecasting, but cases of potential revenue malfeasance. The President himself is alleged to have said that he wants the Minister to delve into the matter. I would want to advise the Minister to seriously look at this matter and bring the report to Parliament. If it is the Subah Info Solutions, what about the other companies? DIC's and so on and so forth. What are they doing? Mr Speaker, this is a Ghanaian matter and we need to look at it very serious. So, it is not surprising that we are getting this performance for revenue.

    Mr Speaker, let me now go to expend-

    iture. I would not get into the details. On the expenditure side, it is also historical. Go and check 2009 to date; we always under-estimate wages; we always un- der-estimate interest payments, yet those are the two largest expenditure items.

    Mr Speaker, let me give you an ex- ample. But before I go, I woud want to debunk a myth that is going round Ghana, that our wage/tax ratio is over 70 per cent. It is not true. Mr Speaker, from 2006 to date, the highest has been 2013, which is 63 per cent. In fact, in 2011, it was 41 per cent. This is coming from various budget
    Mr Terkpeh 11:15 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I know that you favour the base-- fluid as possible. But I stand on a point of order. This is because I have had an occasion to point out to the Ranking Member, that the 70 per cent was as at 2012 and included two years arrears. [Uproar!] We had also been at pains to distinguish between wages and compensation and I am sure that the Ranking Member is very much aware of the distinction between the two.
    Dr A. A. Osei 11:25 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I am not sure what the Hon Minister sought to do. He would have the chance to talk to the House and rather offer his opinion. So , my time appears to be short.
    Nevertheless, I maintain my statement that those are the facts. And it is not my information; it is coming from the Budgets that they presented.
    Mr Speaker, what worries me and I would want to give an example, is that, in 2013, the Hon Minister for Finance told us in March that the amount of wage arrears would only be GH¢142 million. Mr Speak- er, by September, they had already paid GH¢824 million. And they are projecting that they would pay over GH¢1billion. The question I ask is, who is giving them this low number to come back and say that there are overruns? That explains why last year and this year, the overruns are to the tune of GH¢1.97 milion.
    Mr Speaker, we are told that over 99 per cent of public employees are already on the payroll. So, how come they missed this estimation by over some GH¢1.6 billion? It does not help good economic management. And I am suggesting to the Hon Minister that on this matter, they
    need to look at it carefully, so that it is not repeated; he should not come back and say arrears are overruns.
    Mr Speaker, I would want to mention a few words about public borrowing and relate to debt-serving. If a nation pays as much money for interest payments as DACF, GETFund, NHIS and Road Fund together, we are in trouble. Mr Speaker, let me repeat, this year, we, as a nation, are paying as much on interest as DACF, GETFund, NHIS and Road Fund added together. We cannot continue on this path.
    When you inherit an economy with US$8 billion and in five years, you take it to US$23 billion. -- Mr Speaker, what is sad is that a lot of these borrowings are not going for developments. We are borrowing to pay debts. We borrowed US$1billion on the eurobond market and spent US$582 million just to retire debts. Mr Speaker, this is unsustainable. Now, the Hon Chairman is talking about some artificial threshold of 60 per cent. The re- ality is that, things are tight this year. This is because we are borrowing to pay debt. So, there is no money for development.
    The Ashanti Regional Minister is here. He should go and tell us how much money has gone to the District Assemblies in the Ashanti Region. He knows. They are suffering because there are arrears. So, de- velopment is being constrained. This is not NPP or NDC. Every DCE would tell you that money is not coming. Even Chairmen of Committees in Parliament are crying -- [Uproar] -- Mr Speaker, the import of what I am saying is that, as a nation, we ought to be careful about the way we borrow. Mr Speaker, it is not sustainable and sooner than later, we would get there.
    Mr Speaker, another matter that we spoke against last year -- arrears accu- mulation. When the Government adjusts by not paying bills, it imposes a burden on
    you and me. Mr Speaker, most new Hon Members of Parliament have not been able to put up development projects because there are arrears in those funds. It is a fact. You are constraining development.
    Last year, the stock of debt was GH¢5.4 billion. They planned to pay GH¢2 billion. That is left with an amount of GH¢3.4 billion. This year, they have accumulated additional GH¢1.5 billion. So, we are still around GH¢5 billion. Mr Speaker, contractors in our constituencies; you know them and I know them -- are crying because they have borrowed moneys from the banks at exorbitant interest rates and they must pay back.
    This is not a National Democratic Con- gress (NDC) or New Patriotic Party (NPP) matter. Arrears accumulation does not help us. Mr Speaker, they cannot accumulate arrears on Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) payments. Those are pension funds. These are statutory. We cannot allow the Government to break the law on the back of “adjustment.” So, what has happened in 2013, Mr Speaker, is simple.
    As a result of the -- I do not know what word to use now, whether it is “profligate” or “gargantuan” or what? But what hap- pened in the year 2012 is making us adjust and the adjustment is coming in the form of holding up moneys for development and imposing taxes. So, you see that taxes have been imposed now and it is called the “adjustment”. Obviously, it cannot be done in one year. So let us go to 2014.
    The adjustment is continuing. VAT is coming. Income tax threshold is not being expanded. Mr Speaker, for a social dem- ocratic party, which says that it increases the income tax threshold ratio to protect the poor from inflation this year, they ad- amantly are going to keep it there when inflation is going up. So, the poor -- with inflation at 13 per cent -- their incomes cannot be protected. That is adjustment.
    The Hon Chairman mentioned with- holding tax on commercial property. Those are taxes. Mr Speaker, if you read the Budget Statement, apart from the utility tariffs increase that we are all be- ing hit with, there are several other taxes. Admittedly, Government should find ways of raising revenue. But it must think about the social implications.
    Mr Speaker, on this matter, let me deal with the issue of the 10 per cent voluntary contribution. In any case, Dr Kwame Nkrumah publicly did it in 1961. I think Dr Abrefa Busia publicly did it in 1971. Mr J. A. Kufuor between 2001 and 2004 quietly did not allow his Ministers to get a raise. It is not a big deal. When we say, it must be taken off the table, Mr Speaker, we are thinking about the nation. Why? Everybody knows; and this is no secret that every Executive member including those who are in Government or qua- si-Government institutions, do not pay for their utilities; every other Ghanaian pays, including Hon Members of Parliament.
    So, if the President wants to do a sym- bolism -- I am offering him this sugges- tion -- do not cut their salaries by ten per cent. In fact, they have not done anything to deserve this punishment. Increase their salaries by the amount that you negotiate with labour, which is still 10 or 11. So, you keep them apart. But direct that, from today, anybody who gets free utility must begin to pay.
    It would be fair and equitable when that happens, the Executive would feel the 59 per cent increase just like all other Ghanaians. [Interruptions.] Mr Speaker, let them pay. this continuous increase in taxes -- [Interruption]
    Mr Speaker 11:25 a.m.
    Hon Minister, is it a point of order? Strictly point of order?
    Mr Ayariga 11:25 a.m.
    That is so, Mr Speaker.

    Mr Speaker, I have been paying my electricity bills since I was appointed a Deputy Minister. [Interruptions] And I know a few Hon Colleague Ministers -- when we discovered, did not know that they were supposed to pay. The President then issued a directive that all appointees should pay their bills. [Interruptions.]
    Mr Speaker 11:25 a.m.
    Hon Member for Old Tafo, continue.
    Hon Members, I cannot take a point of order on a point of order.
    He is a Minister. The reason I called him is that, he is a Minister and they have mentioned “Ministers”. He says he is paying. At least, he is speaking for him- self. If anybody has any evidence to show that he is not paying, let the person bring the evidence to me. Apart from that, I would not --
    Let the Hon Member continue.
    Hon Member, your time is up.
    Hon Deputy Minority Leader?
    Mr Nitiwul 11:25 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I am in Leadership. I am aware that you would not take a point of order. We agreed with you that we should not be raising points of order to let the debate flow. That is why all along we asked our people not to raise points of order, but they are doing that.
    That is why I wanted to draw your atten- tion to it. It is not a point of order at all.
    Mr Speaker 11:25 a.m.
    Hon Deputy Minority Leader, I have not been entertaining points of order. But if one makes reference to a person on the floor of the House and the person gets up, the person must be heard. This is because he says he does not pay his utility bills and he mentions Ministers and he is a Minister. That was why I called him.
    If you do not want points of order, we should stay within the rules ourselves.
    Hon Members, the Hon Member for Old Tafo raised a point of order and I called him. The Hon Deputy Minority Whip also raised a point of order and I called him. Strictly speaking, even though he is not -- but I gave him audience when the Hon Chairman of the Finance Commit- tee was on the floor.
    Dr A. A. Osei 11:25 a.m.
    Mr Speaker --
    Mr Speaker 11:25 a.m.
    Your time is up but I would give you one minute to conclude. -- It was one minute to your time when you were interrupted. I was then going to stop you. So, I would give you that additional one minute.
    Dr A. A. Osei 11:35 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, the point is that, if the President wants to be fair -- it is a fact that not all Hon Ministers are paying utilities. It is a fact that they get free telephone services. It is a fact that they get free cars. Mr Speaker, if they want Ghanaians to experience a 59 per cent increase, then it is only fair that they
    also experience it, so that in labour, nego- tiations -- Mr Speaker, going to labour negotiations, when you have increased my utilities by 59 per cent and you say that you are taking the 10 per cent?
    Mr Speaker 11:35 a.m.
    Hon Member, your time is up.
    Minister of State (Mr Franklin Fiifi F. Kwetey (MP) 11:35 a.m.
    Thank you very much, Mr Speaker--
    Mr Speaker 11:35 a.m.
    Leadership, Ministers who are neither Chairmen of Committees nor Ranking Members, how many min- utes did you agree should be given them? Leadership, I need to be guided.
    Mr Nitiwul 11:35 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, we agreed that Hon Ranking Members should be given 15 minutes and any other person 10 minutes; we did not include Ministers.
    Mr Speaker 11:35 a.m.
    Very well. Hon Minis- ter, you have 10 minutes.
    Hon Majority Leader, are you confirm- ing what the Deputy Minority Leader is saying?
    Dr Kunbuor 11:35 a.m.
    Sorry, it was on my blind side because Hon Avoka was con- ferring with me. What did you say?
    Mr Speaker 11:35 a.m.
    How many minutes are you giving to the Ministers because they are neither Chairmen nor Ranking Members?
    Dr Kunbuor 11:35 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, once I was the Chairman of the Business Committee and it was an oversight, I would like to leave this in the capable hands of Mr Speaker.
    Mr Speaker 11:35 a.m.
    Well, then I would treat
    Mr Kwetey 11:35 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I wish to express gratitude for the opportunity to support the Motion, requesting this House to approve the Budget Statement and Eco- nomic Policy of the Government for the 2014 financial year.
    Mr Speaker, in supporting the Motion, I wish first and foremost, to commend the Government and the people of Ghana for ensuring that in spite of the difficulties that we had this year, this economy continues to be a shining example to the rest of the world. [Hear! Hear!]Mr Speaker, it takes a strong economy -- it takes a resilient economy to continue having the strong fundamentals that we continue to have.
    It is instructive to know that far less difficulties were encountered in the year 2008, but in spite of that, what we had in 2009 was, one, inflation that was gal- loping to the region of 21 per cent and above, which we have not had in the year 2013, inspite of the bigger problems we have had.
    Currency that was in free fall, falling in the region of 3 per cent every single month in the first six months of 2009 because of the difficulties we had in 2008; in spite of the bigger problems we had in 2012, we have not had that this year. Foreign reserves that had plummeted to as low as 1.8 months of import cover in 2009, by the end of 2008, we have not had that this year in spite of the bigger problems that we had in 2012.
    Dr A. A. Osei 11:35 a.m.
    On a point of order.
    Dr A. A. Osei 11:35 a.m.

    Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister is grossly misleading this House. There was no disinvestment in Foreign Investment Portfolio. If he has evidence, he should put it on the table. This is palpably false.
    Mr Speaker 11:35 a.m.
    Hon Member, you have made your point. Take your seat.
    MrKwetey 11:35 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, foreign in- vestors were fast disinvesting out of our economy and that exacerbated the foreign reserves of the country and caused the currency to even --
    Mr Speaker 11:35 a.m.
    Hon Minister, when you make a statement and they ask you on the floor of the House to substantiate it, you just have to make reference to the source of that statement with regard to disinvest- ment in the area of foreign investment -- you make reference to it and then we proceed. Other than that, you leave that side and then continue.
    Mr Kwetey 11:35 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, the depleting
    reserves of the country and the currency that was in free fall, are a manifest reality that foreign investment out of this country was flying out. When your reserves start to plummet when your foreign currency starts to collapse, it is simply because people are literally pulling investment out of your country, and that you do not need rocket signs to understand this --
    Mr Speaker 11:35 a.m.
    Hon Member, is that the only reason that can cause foreign investment -- Hon Minister, you must take a cue from the Chair and I am not going to allow anybody to let this debate degenerate.
    When a point is made, and the Chair gives a certain direction, we should take a cue from the Chair.
    Mr Kwetey 11:35 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, the detailed evidence can be provided easily. It is not a
    problem; so, we will provide that.
    The point I was making was that, the
    Dr A. A. Osei 11:35 a.m.
    On a point of order.
    Mr Kwetey 11:35 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, the points I am raising are verifiable. The non-per- forming loan ratio going up beyond 21 per cent is verifiable and we can find that in all Bank of Ghana documentations that are available. The fact that TOR and GCB -- I was a member of the Board of GCB and I knew exactly the conditions in which GCB was in. That was a company that was virtually on its knees and was saved by the NDC Government.That was a fact and TOR was in the same difficulty.
    Mr Speaker, the point I am making is that, in spite of the bigger difficulties that we had in the year 2012, the economy of Ghana in the year 2013 has shown two fundamentals to be far stronger than the economy that was met in 2009.
    Mr Speaker, I wish to also commend the Government and the people of Ghana for the hardwork put up to ensure that the high deficits which stood at about 12 per cent, that we left in 2012, which came largely because, one, 50 per cent of that overrun was accounted for by wages and salaries. The overrun stood at GH¢4 billion and the wages and salaries component alone took GH¢1.9 billion, that is about half of it accounted for by single spine, and that is verifiable. [Interruption.]Mr Speaker, the overrun was -- [Interruption]
    Dr A. A. Osei 11:35 a.m.
    On a point of order.
    Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister keeps putting misleading information in the public domain. The wage overrun was GH¢1.97 billion. The deficit was GH¢8.7 billion, GH¢1.97, divided by ¢8.7, is not 50 per cent. He said the wage overrun was 50 per cent. It is false. This is propaganda.
    Mr Speaker 11:35 a.m.
    Hon Members, both of you are not quoting your source before the Chair. I do not have the source to rule on this matter. So, what I can do is to give you the chance to say what you would want to.
    Hon Member, continue.
    Mr Kwetey 11:35 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, if the Hon Ranking Member is listening attentively, he would know that I was not talking about the total deficit, I am talking about the overrun and the overrun stood at GH¢4 billion and GH¢1.97 as he said is half of that GH¢4 billion. So, obviously, he is not even listening, let alone understanding the issues I am making.
    Mr Speaker, the point I made is simple, that half of that overrun was accounted for by wages and salary. About 8.6 per cent of them came in a form of subsidies. About 18 per cent of them coming because of
    shortfall and corporate income tax. You had about 10 per cent of it. So, in effect, all those deficits were on account of the responsibility of the Government of Ghana to ensure that the people of Ghana were cushioned. It did not come as a result of indiscipline; and also not as a result of recklessness. So, if anything at all, we should actually be commending the NDC Government for making sure that the peo- ple of Ghana were cushioned, by ensuring that they did not actually go through the hardships that they needed to go through in 2012.
    Mr Speaker, I wish to also commend the Government and the people of Ghana for ensuring that, in spite of these diffi- culties that we faced in the year 2012, GDP growth stood at about 7.4 per cent, higher than what we have in the whole of sub-Saharan Africa average, and some oil producing African countries on average; and of course, higher than the global average. That obviously, is a very com- mendable performance.
    Mr Speaker, I wish to also state that, the Government and the people of Ghana need to be commended for ensuring that Ghana, alongside Nigeria and South Af- rica, over the last decade, have been the most attractive destinations for foreign direct investment globally. That tells you about an economy that is well managed, and continues to attract interest all over the world. This obviously cannot be called an economy that is in any crises.
    Mr Speaker, we would want to again explain that, if it were not for the merely -- in fact, for this year's budget, we are looking for the close of the year wages and salaries standing at about GH¢10 billion Mr Speaker, without even taking into account pensions. If you have the whole compensation package, we are talking about an absolutely humongous figure, that any economy in the world will have difficulties with in spite of these
    Mr Kwetey 11:35 a.m.

    difficulties, we have continued to run this economy to continue to be an attraction all over the world. This obviously tells you the soundness of the economic manage- ment. If our friends on the other side of the House even had what he calls GH¢7 billion annual salary, the deficit they left behind in 2008 should not have stood at GH¢15 billion but should have been way beyond that. We have managed GHGH¢7 billion --
    Mr Speaker 11:35 a.m.
    Hon Member, your time is up, wind up.
    Mr Kwetey 11:35 a.m.
    Thank you very much Mr Speaker, for the opportunity. I wish to support the Motion.
    Dr Mark Assibey-Yeboah (NPP -- New Juabeng South) 11:35 a.m.
    I thank you Mr Speaker. I rise to contribute to the Motion on the floor.
    Mr Speaker, the Ghana Shared Growth and Development Agenda (GSGDA) ends this year. In paragraph 146 of the 2013 Budget Statement, the Minister promised that a successor plan would be ready by July, 2013. As expected, the successor plan is not ready.
    The medium-term plan is the docu- ment that provides the framework for the budget. The Hon Minister has talked ex- tensively about programme based budget. The budget that was presented last week had no strategic underpinning, so, on what basis was it presented? I wonder that, we ended up with problems based budget.
    The budget left problems for house- holds, businesses, exporters, problems for importers, Members of Parliament (MPs) and even for the Government itself. Is this the “I care for you Government”? -- Some Hon Members: No! I do not
    know if it was the case that the 2013 Budget was not implementable, howev- er, most macro- economic targets were missed. Overall GDP growth was missed, 7.4 per cent verses 8 per cent manual GDP growth; we missed the target 5.6 per cent verses 6.5 per cent. Revenue target was missed, as well as inflation target was and non oil growth GDP , deficit target was also missed. Mr Speaker, is it the case that the economic methodology of estimating targets is flawed or is it “much ado about nothing” when these budgets are presented-- not only domestic macro targets missed?
    The Government also missed all the tar- gets, safe one in the convergence criteria. This problem based budget Mr Speaker, as I indicated earlier, present problems for all segments of the economy, for households; we now have to contend with double digit inflation which stood at 13.1 per cent at the end of October 2013. This means a reduction in the purchasing power of households. Mr Speaker, my question is, what happened to the much trumpeted single digit inflation?
    Let me add that, this is not as bad as in the rest of the zone. The Gambia, Liberia and Nigeria, all recorded single digit infla- tion -- even in Guinea, even though they are in double digit, there was disinflation in the year 2013.
    Instead of proffering workable solu- tions to the problem of rising inflation, the Hon Minister sought to explain the terrible performance in paragraphs 55 and 56 of the budget as being due to the rebasing, increased market coverage, increased items in the basket, among others. Mr Speaker, all those changes the Hon Minis- ter mentioned were to ensure an accurate improved measurement of inflation.
    As a matter of fact, in the Hon Min- ister's classic presentation in 2012, Dr
    Bawumia had indicated that there was a measurement error. That was what has been captured right now in the current measure of inflation -- [Interruptions] Mr Speaker, let me tell the Hon Minister to rather deal with his weakening currency and huge domestic borrowing. That is the problem.
    Talking of our currency, the Ghana- ian cedi depreciated by 10 per cent to the pound sterling, 14 per cent to the euro, and 4 per cent to the dollar.These presents huge problems to importers, for businesses. The least said about them the better. In addition to the unavailability of credit under this Government, 2013 has witnessed persistently high interest rates. To make matters worse Mr Speaker, this Government has imposed all manner of taxes on goods.
    Lately, we have seen the VAT, at least, for once, the Minister has listened to the Minority side and taken off some of the taxes. The Government and Ghanaians also face serious problems with this Budget. The public debt has ballooned to GH¢49 billion. For the first time, the Government, through the Minister, has come out to say that there is going to be a limit on new borrowing. The truth is that we can only borrow so much. Besides, our credit rating has been downgraded, the GH¢49 billion debt translates to a per capita debt of GH¢2,000.
    Every Ghanaian on average owes GH¢2,000 of the debt. With respect, Mr Speaker, you owe GH¢2,000.00 of the debt. Every Member of Parliament (MP) owes GH¢2,000.00 of the debt -- [Inter- ruptions].
    Mr Avedzi 11:35 a.m.
    On point of order.
    Mr Speaker, the Hon Member is misleading the House. He said the debt per capita is US$2,000.00 per Ghanaian. Where did he get the figure from? He should correct himself. He is deceiving the House.
    Dr Assibey-Yeboah 11:55 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, it is simple mathematics because we have GH¢49 billion as debt; he should divide it by 24 million Ghanaians -- [Interrup- tions] -- Mr Speaker, one would have thought that the President would have authorised his numerous appointees --
    Mr Avedzi 11:55 a.m.
    -- rose --
    Mr Speaker 11:55 a.m.
    Hon Chairman of the Finance Committee, what is your point of order?
    Mr Avedzi 11:55 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, my point of order is that, he is saying “dollars”. He should correct himself and change to “ce- dis”. [Interruptions]
    Mr Speaker 11:55 a.m.
    Hon Member, did you say “dollars” or “cedis”?
    Dr Assibey-Yeboah 11:55 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I said the total debt is GH¢49 billion di- vided by 24 million Ghanaians, each of us owe over GH¢2,000.00 including Mr Speaker and myself -- [Hear! Hear!]
    Mr Speaker 11:55 a.m.
    Hon Member, you do not bring the Speaker into your debate. So, withdraw the use of the “Speaker”.
    DrAssibey-Yeboah 11:55 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, all Ghanaians; including all of us here owe GH¢2,000.00 -- [Hear!Hear!] --[Inter- rup-tions]
    Mr Speaker, one would have thought that the President would have authorised his numerous appointees to rather go and defray their part of the debt, instead of asking them to sacrifice 10 per cent of their salaries. The deficit is also balloon- ing, Mr Speaker, after having a deficit of 11.8 per cent in 2012, the Hon Minister projects deficit of 10.2 per cent in 2013. In his Budget Statement of 2013, he said he was going to do an average deficit of 5

    Mr Speaker, instead of presenting a truly transformational budget, the Gov- ernment is pre-occupied with how much it has to reduce salaries, whether 5 per cent or 10 per cent or whatever, when so many Ghanaians do not earn anything and have nothing to eat. They have enough and some have got surrep- titiously -- with apologies to the Hon Minority Leader -- then you are going to cut some 10 per cent.

    Mr Speaker, a budget should be seen as programme driven --
    Mr Speaker 11:55 a.m.
    Hon Member withdraw that word. It is unparliamentary.
    Dr Assibey-Yeboah 11:55 a.m.
    Which one is it Mr Speaker?
    Mr Speaker 11:55 a.m.
    The one that you said with apologies to the Minority Leader; it is unparliamentary. Withdraw it.
    Dr Assibey-Yeboah 11:55 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I withdraw that; I learnt nicodemusly -- [Interruptions.]
    Mr Speaker 11:55 a.m.
    You cannot impute im- proper motive to Members of the House.
    Dr Assibey-Yeboah 11:55 a.m.
    I withdraw that, Mr Speaker.
    A budget should be seen as programme driven, by actions and not words, if it is to achieve anything. Mr Speaker, this proramme based budget contains mere rhetorics. Come again Hon Minister and revise the budgets and tell us how the Gov- ernment intends to create jobs. Ghanaians want you to create jobs --
    Mr Speaker 11:55 a.m.
    Are you addressing the Minister or addressing the Chair?
    Dr Assibey-Yeboah 11:55 a.m.
    The Chair, Mr

    Mr Speaker, we would want to see pragmatic solutions to the unemploy-ment problem and solutions that will address the problem of inflation. How we are going to achieve phenomenon growth in agriculture --
    Mr Speaker 11:55 a.m.
    Your time is up.
    Dr Assibey-Yeboah 11:55 a.m.
    Thank you Mr Speaker. [Hear! Hear!]
    Mr Gabriel K. Essilfie (NDC -- Shama) 11:55 a.m.
    Thank you Mr Speaker, for the opportunity --
    Mr Speaker 11:55 a.m.
    Are you the Chairman?
    Mr Essilfie 11:55 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I am the Vice Chairman.
    Thank you Mr Speaker, for the oppor- tunity to support the Motion, to approve the Financial Policy of the Government of Ghana for the year ending December
    31, 2014.
    Mr Speaker, I would like to move my
    submission on a different line, because the issue of figures and percentages has already been well treated by my Chairman and Hon Fifi Kwetey.

    Mr Speaker, I call it a “common sense Budget” because it is only a good man- ager or a leader who recognises problems and comes up with solutions, and how the problems can be solved.

    Mr Speaker, the year 2013, as we all know, has been a very challenging one for us as a nation. [Interruptions.] ‘The year 2013 has not only been a challenging

    year for Ghana, but has been a challenging year for most nations around the world. I say this because a lot of countries that we consider as our donor partners, are facing economic problems and we are all aware of.

    Mr Speaker, the Budget rightfully has a theme, and the theme is, “rising to the challenge, re-aligning the Budget to meet national progress”. As a result of that, the Budget considered eight thematic areas;

    1. microeconomic stability;

    2. private sector competitiveness;

    3. agriculture modernisation,

    4. natural resource management, oil and gas;

    5. infrastructure and human sup- ple-ment;

    6. human development;

    7. productivity and employment, and

    8. transparent and accountable gov- ernance.

    Mr Speaker, what this means is that, as a Government, we recognise that these eight thematic areas have to be well managed, if this country is to make the quantum leap that we are all looking for. As a result of that, this Budget recognises that, like the old adage goes; kwankyen adze ye fe, wodze sika na wodze ye. To wit: When you are driving on the highway or the street and you see all those beautiful things, and houses, it takes money to do them.

    All the arguments that we hear talk

    about “oh taxes, this and that”. But my question to all of us, is, where is Gov- ernment supposed to get money from to develop the country? If indeed, it was easy for previous Governments to raise revenue and to develop the country, then my question is, why did the NDC Gov- ernment come in to inherit a nation with over 2,000 schools under trees, and all these dilapidated roads that still need to be fixed?

    Therefore, that tells us that, for once, in the life of this nation, a Government has to be bold, stand up and do what is right to turn this country round; and that is what this Budget seeks to do.

    Mr Speaker, as part of the revenue measures, the Minister talks about mobi- lisation, including expanding the tax net, bringing in the 2 ½ per cent Valued Added Tax (VAT) and even indeed, putting the VAT -- making it clear that apart from 2014 where the VAT collection for the 2 ½ per cent increase would be used to help the economy from 2015, that money would specifically be put into an infrastructure Fund to try and bring about infrastructure.

    The Hon Minister did not end there. He

    has also looked at our debt situation and comes up with a pragmatic-- what we call restructuring methods, that would make sure our debt is put in such a way that our country can handle it and for us to also bring about the improvement.

    Mr Speaker, let me give you an exam- ple, for the 35 years I have stayed in the United States of America. I know that for State Municipal Governments, all the de- velopment come from taxes and issuance of bonds. The bonds are for development. Therefore, I am supporting the Minister to make sure a lot of the infrastructure development that we want--

    These organisations are encouraged to
    Mr Essilfie 11:55 a.m.

    issue bonds to raise the capital, so that we can accelerate development in this nation.

    Mr Speaker, I would want to humbly ask the Minister for Finance to seriously look at the property tax regime and the rent tax regime on the issue of interest rates, so that we bring all of them in sync with all the plans he has to handle our debt situation and the plans he has to improve revenue collection, so that the develop- ment that we want can come through.

    In conclusion, Mr Speaker, I would say that, it was my High School Headmaster, Mr P A Owiredu of blessed memory of the Apam Secondary School (Great APASS) who said “Common sense is a sense which is never common.”

    Mr Speaker, on this note, I thank you.
    Mr Isaac K. Asiamah (NPP -- Atwi- ma-Mponua) 12:05 p.m.
    Thank you Mr Speaker,
    for the opportunity to contribute to the Motion on the floor.
    Mr Speaker, some of us have already christened this Budget as “Boys abre, girls kasa dodo Budget,”That is because we are going to suffer the most.
    Mr Speaker, revenue generation is good, money is also important. But is it not commonsensical to waste the tax- pay- er's money on Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Agency (GYEEDA), SUBAH -- [Uproar] -- Mr Speaker, on Savannah Accelerated Development Au- thority (SADA) and all those unproductive areas. Money should be used wisely. That is the advice.
    Mr Speaker, the Budget is a catalogue of failed promises. It is also an arrange- ment of unachievable programmes and projects. Mr Speaker, we have within the past five years witnessed very disturbing developments in this country. The man- agers of our economy have not conducted the business of governance so well, that as we speak now, all that we hear is about waste and corruption.
    Mr Speaker, it is very important to state that as we speak, the 2013 expenditure, especially, sanitary commitments have not been forthcoming and this is unprecedent- ed in the history of the Fourth Republic.
    Mr Speaker, youth unemployment is on the ascendency and this Government demonstrated complete incompetence, lack of capacity and the political will to address it.
    Mr Speaker, I glanced through the Budget and let us talk about paragraph 1025 -- Transparency and Anti-corrup- tion Initiative. Mr Speaker, talking of corruption, within the last two years, two Ministerial Committees of Enquiry have been set up at the Ministry of Youth and Sports.
    I remember that, when we were consid- ering the estimates for 2013 in this House, the Hon Minister for Youth and Sports did
    promise this House that he was going to act on the Maputo scandal within a month. Mr Speaker, as we speak now, we are in December and nothing has been heard of it. Certain individuals whose names were cited in that Maputo scandal, nothing has been heard of the issue.
    The Hon Minister did promise this House on the day he spoke,which was on the 26th March, 2013. He did indicate that, he was going to act on it, but as we speak now, nothing has been done about the Maputo scandal.
    Mr Speaker, the issue of GYEEDA is so dear to everybody. Mr Speaker, the GYEEDA Report that got tangled at the Presidency, had almost two committees set up to address it.
    Mr Mahama Ayariga 12:05 p.m.
    On a point of order.
    Mr Speaker, the Hon Member who just spoke is obviously misleading this House. First and foremost, the report did not get tangled at the Presidency, whatever “tangled” means.
    And secondly, Mr Speaker, the report did not get changed by the P V Obeng Committee. Indeed, he must view the report holistically as a process that began from the Ministry of Youth and Sports up to the Presidency, and it is what the Government finally presents -- that represents the position of Government. [Interruption] There was no intention to cover anything. Therefore, the attempt to create an impression that it was tangled because somebody was trying to cover anything, is misleading this House.
    Mr I. K. Asiamah 12:05 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, if
    he does not want the word “tangled” then I would use “massage.” If that is what he would want, the report was ‘massaged' at the Presidency.
    Mr Speaker 12:05 p.m.
    Hon Member, you made a categorical statement that the report was changed. Do you have evidence to substantiate that the report was changed? I heard you use that word, that the report was changed.
    Mr I. K. Asiamah 12:05 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, we have two different reports, one done by the GHAN's Committee and the other one done by the P V Obeng's Committee. One of the Committee's reports is here; and they cannot be the same. They were changed at the level of the Presidency -- [Interruption.]
    MrAyariga 12:05 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, for the pur- poses of the records, I am not aware of the Ministry of Youth and Sports releasing a report. Mr Speaker, the report that the Ministry for Youth and Sports completed was presented to the President for his review and he then put out a report. So, if he is holding two reports, he has to explain the source of the first report. To the best of my knowledge, the Ministry of Youth and Sports did not formally publicly release any report.
    Mr I. K. Asiamah 12:05 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, if he is not aware, he should just relax and get the facts before he speaks. It is very important for him as Minister for Infor- mation and Media Relations not to come and misinform Ghanaians. [Interruption]
    Mr Speaker, the Report contains serious breaches of the laws of the land -- Financial Administration Act, the Public Procurement Act and the Audit
    Mr I. K. Asiamah 12:05 p.m.

    Service Act.

    Mr Speaker, as we speak now, we are told that the Attorney-General has been instructed --but that is not the beef of the issue. It is about those who superintended over that work. Mr Speaker, as we speak and the Hon Minister for Youth and Sports who superintended over this work at the time, has now been given another portfo- lio, bigger one, of course.
    Mr Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa 12:05 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, there are two quick points.
    Mr Speaker 12:05 p.m.
    Hon Member, is it a point of order?
    Mr Ablakwa 12:05 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, it is a point of order.
    Mr Speaker 12:15 p.m.
    Let me hear your point of order.
    Deputy Minister for Education (Mr Samuel O. Ablakwa): Mr Speaker, there are two quick points.
    The first one is that the Hon Asiamah is misleading the House because no Minister or appointee has been indicted in this re- port. And for him to say that people have “super-intended,” -- a word which does not exist in the dictionary -- saying that they “super-intended” -- malfeasance, financial mess and all of that. It is unfair and he is misleading the House. The word is “superintend,” not “super-intend.”
    Mr I. K. Asiamah 12:15 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I
    would want my junior Colleague to know that I completed the University of Ghana before him; he should understand I know the word I used. If he does not understand, he should go and check from the diction- ary. So, please, I said they superintended over that Ministry and this corruption, and mess -- they supervised.
    Mr Speaker, --
    Mr Speaker 12:15 p.m.
    Hon Members, let me say this, and it goes to both sides of the House. In all these matters, a report can be issued and could be wrong or right. But there is a process involved. Unless a court of competent jurisdiction finds somebody or convicts a person of an offence, we must be very careful with the language we use. We know situations where administrative enquiries have indicted people; they have challenged it and the courts have freed them.
    So, let us be very careful because we do not use administrative enquiries, which are not final to condemn people. If you do that, it is not proper, and not fair. What about if those people go to court and they are cleared? Then how do they get com- pensated for the attack they received on the floor of the House?
    We are Hon Members and we should be very careful with the choice of our language.
    Mr I. K. Asiamah 12:15 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, the report further states “there has been a financial loss to the State to the tune of about GH¢150 million”, that is about ¢9.5 trillion. Mr Speaker, it goes on to state that there is a further ration debt to the tune of GH¢259 million”. So, in total, we have about GH¢1.2 billion, that is about ¢12 trillion lost to the State.
    Mr Speaker 12:15 p.m.
    Hon Member, withdraw
    those words of “create, loot and share.” [Interruption.] I say withdraw them.
    Mr I. K. Asiamah 12:15 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, it is a Supreme Court's ruling.
    Mr Speaker 12:15 p.m.
    I allowed you because you are entitled to quote from a report. The rules of the House allow you. That is per- mitted. But if you accuse people of loot and share, where no court has convicted them, please, you cannot use that language on the floor of this House.
    Mr Nitiwul 12:15 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, the words “create, loot and share” have become law in this country, because it is a Supreme Court's decision. And once the Supreme Court has ruled --
    Mr Speaker 12:15 p.m.
    Hon Deputy Minority Leader, please, the Hon Member is using the words in a certain context. He never referred to any Supreme Court ruling but was referring to a report; and he used the words, “loot and share.” Did that report use “loot and share”?
    Hon Members, I would not tolerate that, while I preside over this House.
    Dr Kunbuor 12:15 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I would want to add my voice to your own guid- ance that you have given on this matter; and just to remind Hon Members that I have time and time again reminded po- litical office holders to be measured in terms of the words they use against one another. This is because the table only just goes round, and we find yourself on the other side, and it is self-inflicted by us, on ourselves.
    That is why I say that, until a docu- ment has specifically indicted somebody, words like “corruption” and all the other epithets, let us try and avoid them. We can still make an informed contribution on the economic policy without resorting to inflicting this type of harm on ourselves as political office holders.
    That is my caution, Mr Speaker.
    Mr I. K. Asiamah 12:15 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, the report further states, within a period of 19 days, that is between 12th and 31st of December --
    Mr Speaker 12:15 p.m.
    Hon Member, I have asked you to withdraw the words “create, loot and share” within the context of the report you are referring to. Have you withdrawn them?
    Mr I. K. Asiamah 12:15 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, with your advice, I withdraw them.
    Mr Speaker, another area which is so worrisome is the fact that, within a peri- od of 19 days, that is, between the 12th and 31st December, 2012, twenty service contracts were signed. Mr Speaker, the indecent haste -- where were we rushing to? Within a period of 19 days, twenty service contracts were signed in this coun- try. Mr Speaker, in my view, that is why I am saying that, we had a Minister and a Deputy Minister --
    Mr Speaker, I take your advice.
    Yes, we are all Colleagues but we should not be inflicting this pain on the people of this country. It is unfair to mother Ghana and the people we pretend to be serving.
    Mr Speaker, a very notable programme by President J. A. Kufuor set up in 2006, the National Youth Employment Pro- gramme (NYEP), which was re-named the Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepre- neurial Development Agency (GYEEDA), the change of name did not add anything new, any change in strategy, or in mission and vision; it only resulted in massive corruption, embezzlement and of course, wanton dissipation of public funds --
    Mr Speaker 12:15 p.m.
    Your time is up.
    Mr Alex Adomako-Mensah (NDC -- Sekyere Afram Plains) 12:15 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to support the Motion on the floor.
    Mr Alex Adomako-Mensah (NDC -- Sekyere Afram Plains) 12:15 p.m.

    This time, the good news for Ghana- ians is that, we would want to expand the economy, and develop the economy. Again, we would want to create jobs for the people of Ghana and the youth.

    Mr Speaker, the Government is com- mitted to sustaining the progress so far made, by pursuing a prudent macro-eco- nomic and financial measures to reduce the growth of public debt. There is enough international confidence in the way Gov- ernment is managing the economy. That is the reason more international communities are doing business with Ghana. Mr Speak- er, this macroeconomic improvement and sustained strong economic growth rate so far recorded, have made Ghana an attrac- tive place to do business.

    We are now operating an economy that is sustainable -- placed in lower middle income group. Mr Speaker, Ghana won the confidence of international financial markets with the stable domestic bond per- formance. In August this year, we issued a second international sovereign bond which was over-subscribed by US$1.5 billion.
    Dr A. A. Osei 12:25 p.m.
    On a point of order.
    Mr Speaker, before you came, the Speaker ruled that one of the Ministers from the Ministry of Finance ought to be
    here. They have disappeared. -- [Some Hon Members: They are here.] -- He just came in.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:25 p.m.
    Hon Mem-
    ber, point well taken.
    Hon Member, please, proceed.
    Mr Adomako-Mensah 12:25 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, the Government has taken a decisive step to locate a private sector coordination un- der the office of the President to coordinate and supervise the private sector initiatives.
    In this effort, Mr Speaker, Government will play a facilitating role in the private sector development. Mr Speaker, all of our accelerated development effort has been geared towards giving a special advantage to accelerated agricultural development through mechanization. The process of mechanization involving the use of improved seed variety, a greater access to tractor service and the training of the smallholder farmers on productivity.
    Mr Speaker, I believe very strongly that we are on the right path to launch Ghana into upper middle income status.
    Mr Speaker, I would want to say that the “Better Ghana Agenda” is on course; and I urge Hon Members to approve this Budget Statement.
    On this, Mr Speaker, I thank you for
    the opportunity.
    Mr Kwaku A. Kwarteng (NPP -- Obuasi West) 12:25 p.m.
    Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to speak to this Motion.
    Mr Speaker, in 2012, Government made expenditures of GH¢8.7billion for which we did not have the money. Put in another way, we say there was a deficient of GH¢8.7 billion.
    The Hon Member for Ketu South has made a point, and I agree with him, that
    these expenditures include subsidies, wage overruns, et cetera. But Mr Speaker, it is also true that these expenditures include “Akomfem” expenditures. -- [Uproar] -- they include afforestation expenditures -- [Hear!Hear!]-- they include Subah expenditures -- [Hear! Hear!] and they include GYEEDA and other illegitimate expenditures.
    Mr Terkpeh 12:25 p.m.
    On a point of order.
    Mr Speaker, the Hon Member said I had indicated that we issued the sovereign bond because I said, we were challenged. Mr Speaker, I gave very cogent reasons we wanted to issue the sovereign bond and it was to refinance debts and also provide support for the capital budget. I did not use the term such as what he described.
    Mr Kwarteng 12:25 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, the Hon
    Minister for Finance has confirmed the point I made that we were challenged --
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:25 p.m.
    Hon Mem- ber, just proceed with your presentation.
    Mr Kwarteng 12:25 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, it is im- portant that I stress that --
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:25 p.m.
    Hon Mem- ber, take my directive.
    Mr Kwarteng 12:25 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, in 2013, we are going to spend GH¢8.9 billion for
    which we do not know where the money will come from. Put in another way, deficit for 2013 will be GH¢8.9 milion.
    Mr Speaker, there is every indication that this economy is in trouble. An Eco- nomic Policy Statement should address the excessive government expenditures. But go to policy initiatives, all we see there are interventions to raise money and spend. In 2014, we will be borrowing GH¢2.2 bil- lion from the international capital market. Borrowing, borrowing, taxing, taxing and borrowing.
    The Budget is short on how Govern- ment intends to deal with these expendi- tures, the excessive expenditures that are creating problems for this economy. What are the reforms that will permanently right size public expenditure? What are the re- forms? It is all taxing, taxing -- We will go for this money, we raise money like this -- What about the expenditure side? The only position Government expresses in the Budget on the expenditure side, Mr Speaker, is that the salaries of teachers, nurses and other Government workers on the Single Spine Salary Structure (SSSS) are those responsible for the problems of this country. As a result, the Single Spine Salary Structure (SSSS) is threatened by unsustainable possibilities.
    Mr Speaker, why do we blame the sal-
    aries of innocent teachers and nurses for the woes of the economy? What about the salaries and working freebies of the Ex- ecutive, the President and his appointees? Why do we always blame the workers under the Single Spine Salary Structure (SSSS) for the economic difficulties of this country? The Trades Union Congress (TUC), civil society and many of us have called that we need to disaggregate our wage bill.
    We need to know how much is going to the President and his appointees. We need to know how much is going to article 71

    office holders. Mr Speaker, it is not fair that whenever we speak of the difficulties of the wage bill, we point accusing fingers at innocent nurses, teachers and doctors. -- [Uproar] -- In Ho -- [An Hon Mem- ber: And MPs] -- MPs are part of article 71 office holders.

    Mr Speaker, in Ho, Government prom-
    Alhaji Mohammed-Mubarak Mun- taka 12:25 p.m.
    On a point of order.
    Mr Speaker, I believe as we all try to make the debate flow, we need to be care- ful with the kind of statements we make that maybe, misleading. I do not think Government has said that it is teachers or nurses. It said our wage bill -- which includes all of us. I agree with him perfectly when he says that we can segregate them.
    But when he says that Government is blaming innocent -- as if all we have been saying is that it is the teachers and the nurses who are creating the problem. We say the wage bill includes all of us.
    So, he should stop creating an im-
    pression as if everybody is blaming only teachers and nurses. We are saying that the wage bill as a whole -- I may agree with him if he says we should segregate them, so that we would see the levels. But he should not say we are putting the blame on nurses and teachers. I think that is wrong --
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:25 p.m.
    Hon Mem- ber, I think you have to take a cue from that. It is the wage bill that they are talk- ing about. They have not given specifics.
    Please, let us stick to that.
    Mr Kwarteng 12:25 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I would refer the Hon Member to page 183 of the budget document and with your permis- sion, I beg to quote:
    “Mr Speaker, following the migra- tion of public service institutions onto the Single Spine Salary Struc- ture, disparities in pay have reduced drastically. This major achievement has, however, come with significant increases in the government wage bill, therefore, threatening the very sustainability of the Single Spine Pay Policy (SSPP).”
    Why do we talk about wage bill and then blame it on Single Spine Pay Pol- icy? That is the problem I am drawing attention to.
    Mr Speaker 12:35 p.m.
    Hon Member, what you read did not indicate that they were com- plaining about teachers and nurses. It was a general reference to the wage bill. That is why I am directing that let us stick to that and let us make some progress.
    Mr Kwarteng 12:35 p.m.
    Thank you, Mr Speak- er. I would be concluding.
    With your permission, I would still beg to quote from the paragraph:
    “This major achievement has how- ever come with significant in- creases in the government wage bill therefore threatening the very sustainability of the Single Spine Pay Policy.”
    If this is not blaming teachers and nurses, then Mr Speaker, I do not know what it is.
    Mr Speaker, in conclusion --
    Mr Speaker 12:35 p.m.
    Very well. You have two minutes to go.
    Mr Kwarteng 12:35 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, in conclu-
    sion, a government's budget has revenue mobilisation and inflows mobilisation parts; it also has expenditure parts.
    The difficulties we are going through are coming largely from over-expenditures and government's inability to right size public expenditure durably and the Budget Statement should address that matter; this Budget Statement does not. If Government does check this mismanagement and mis- appropriation -- In this, I am referring to some of the expenditures I have already referred to. This Budget would not bring relief to Ghanaians; it would make Ghana- ians worse off.
    Mr Govers K. Agbodza (NDC -- Adaklu) 12:35 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I thank you for giving me the opportunity to contribute to the Budget Statement for 2014.
    Mr Speaker, I hear a lot of people talk about government debt and they do not know why we have the debt. Mr Speaker, I know why we have the debt. I said Budget Statement for 2014.
    Mr Speaker, 2014. I know how the money was spent. [Interruption.]Do Hon members want to know? Mr Speaker, I will tell them. The reason is that part of the expenditure is the reason we are able to continue with the Asankragua/Enchi road up to 94 per cent complete. That is the reason we paid for theTamale road. It is now 80 per cent complete. That is the reason. The Awoshie/Anyaa road project is now 80 per cent complete. It is the reason most of the roads that were started under the previous Government in Accra were completed.
    It is the reason we have paid about US$250 million of the first eurobond tak-
    en by the previous Government. [Hear! Hear!] Mr Speaker, it is the reason we have bought over 100 tractors for our farmers to improve agriculture. Mr Speaker, it is the reason we have added another 132 megawatts of electricity generation to this country's energy stock. It is the reason the Mampong and Kpong Water projects are ongoing.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:35 p.m.
    Hon Member, are you up on a point of order?
    Mr Moses Anim 12:35 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I would want to make a correction.
    The Hon Member said that it is the reason they have improved agriculture. In 2008, agriculture grew by 7.4 per cent; 2011, agriculture grew by 0.8 per cent; now , it is at 3.4 per cent. What is the im- provement he is talking about? From 7.4 per cent to 0.8 per cent, what improvement is he talking about?
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:35 p.m.
    Hon Mem- ber, you are out of order.
    Please, proceed.
    Mr Agbodza 12:35 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, thank you very much.
    In fact, exactly what I am trying to say is this. We have invested in agriculture, including buying over 100 tractors for farmers. That is real life improvement in agriculture.
    Mr Agbodza 12:35 p.m.

    Part of the reason we have relative food security in this country is because we took very good decisions in 2012. So, we do not have food shortages as we used to have in previous times.

    Mr Speaker, in my view, the main transformation in this Budget is about the policy initiative. In some countries, when money is becoming expensive, it is always important to look within, so that they do something for themselves instead of borrowing money from elsewhere.

    So, I am extremely happy that the President, through the Hon Minister for Finance, is looking at having something I can call our own version of another sover- eign bond, which is going to be channelled into an infrastructural Fund. [Interrup- tion.] In the past, the NDC Government initiated the GETFund.
    Mr Ignatious B. Awuah 12:35 p.m.
    On a point of order.
    Mr Speaker, the Hon Member just made an allusion to the fact that the NDC Government established the GETFund. Yes, it is true. But I would also want to place on record that, yes, they established the GETFund but they never paid a pesewa into it before they left office in 2000.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:35 p.m.
    Yes, Hon Member, please, proceed.
    Mr Agbodza 12:35 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I thought he was going to say that GETFund was not necessary. But if he agrees GETFund is a good thing, I would also implore him to support the Ghana Infrastructural Fund,
    which has been proposed by the Gov- ernment. What that would do, is to give Ghana the opportunity to have a sovereign Fund specifically for the development of infrastructure in this country.
    Mr Nitiwul 12:35 p.m.
    On a point of order.
    Mr Speaker, I think the Hon Member should not over trumpet his own achieve- ments. The Funds that are backed by law, such as GETFund, that should be paid in three months after they have collected the money -- the Hon Minister is here, they have not been paying. Mr Speaker, as it stands, GETFund, they paid only up to February. They have not been paying.
    National Health Insurance, they have not been paying and he is talking of a Fund that is not backed by law. He should not “over trumpet”their achievements. If they set a Fund and they do not pay --
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:35 p.m.
    Hon Depurity Minority Leader, we are dis- cussing the Budget Statement. This is part of the Budget Statement. Whether it is backed by law or not, it is part of the Budget Statement. Let us address the issues.
    Mr Agbodza 12:35 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, if you did not intervene, I was going to ask whether he had any help from GETFund this year as a Member of Parliament (MP.)
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:35 p.m.
    Hon Mem- ber, please, proceed.
    Mr Agbodza 12:35 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, in my view, the emergence of that Fund tells me that not too long from now, the Eastern
    Corridor Project started by the National Democratic Congress (NDC), would be completed. This is because we would have a dedicated Fund for it. It tells me that the new universities that we promised in the Eastern Region would have funding and they would be completed. It tells me that the university in the Volta Region that was started would expand. It tells me that even this Parliament can have a better Chamber.
    On this note, I commend the President and the Hon Minister for Finance for bringing us this progressive Budget that actually tells the truth about our economy and suggests solutions how we would deal with them.
    Thank you for the opportunity.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:35 p.m.
    Thank you very much.
    It is the turn of Hon James Yawumbe.
    Mr James Cecil Yanwube (NPP -- Tatale Sanguli) 12:45 p.m.
    Thank you, Mr Speaker, for allowing me to contribute to the debate.
    First and foremost, I would like to make a statement and the statement is this -- the Hon Minister said on page 8 of the budget that we would have an all-inclusive Government. I would want to find out who and who is part of the Government -- Who is part of the Government apart from the NDC? That is point one.
    Now, point two is, the Hon Colleague who spoke a while ago said some roads had been done and I would want to refer him to the AU Grant -- Remember we got an AU Grant during President Kufuor's time. How about that? Has he forgotten that? I am telling him that those grants are the basis of those things that he talked about. Now, what I would want to say is that, we have a Government, which says they will put the people first as part of their programmes, investing in people will be part of their programmes.
    But let me refer to this-- Somewhere in the Budget -- we had about GH¢750,000 in the Budget for 2013 and again, in 2014, we have GH¢111million. What I am saying is this -- What has happened to the capacity building project? How far are we developing our people in terms of that capacity building programme? Who are benefitting from that capacity building? I understand they would give us some kind of breakdown what has been spent on capacity building, but we are yet to receive those breakdowns. I think those breakdowns would be necessary for us to look at the two issues and quickly examine what it is.
    Mr Haruna Iddrisu 12:45 p.m.
    On a point of order.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:45 p.m.
    Hon Minister for Trade and Industry, is it on a point of order?
    Mr H. Iddrisu 12:45 p.m.
    Rightly so, Mr Speak- er. This is because this debate is a very important one.
    My Hon Colleague just refers to a document and ended at that. He should indicate what document it is and which part of it he is referring to for purposes of reference.
    Thank you,Mr Speaker.
    Mr Yanwube 12:45 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I am refer-
    ring to the Euro Bond Document. So, that is it. In that document, we said we would be competitive or we would partner the private sector to develop their capacity. What I am saying is, if we have borrowed that much from the public sector, I think it is for us to logically say that we are crowding out the borrowing level and that interest payments so competitive. That, I think it is the reverse side of the equation that they are talking about.
    What I am saying is, if we say we just
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:45 p.m.
    Hon Mem- ber, begin to wind up.
    Mr Yanwube 12:45 p.m.
    What I am saying is this -- [Interruptions.]
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:45 p.m.
    Order, order!
    Mr Yanwube 12:45 p.m.
    I am saying that if we knew that borrowing would give us a certain classification by the status of our borrowing -- what I am saying -- [In- terruption]
    Papa Owusu-Ankomah 12:45 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I hear a lot of shouts coming from the op- posite side, particularly from the Hon Dep- uty Minister in red -- [Interruptions]-- I am just saying that if we have any points of order, please, let us raise them, so that we can follow the debate. These shouts would not help us.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:45 p.m.
    Thank you very much.
    Hon Member, please, wind up.
    Mr Yanwube 12:45 p.m.
    So, what I am saying -- [Interruptions]
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:45 p.m.
    Order, order!
    Please, wind up.
    Mr Yanwube 12:45 p.m.
    We are saying that we transited from activity-based budget to programme-based budget and my Hon Colleague described it as -- [Interrup- tions]-- What I am saying is, I do not think that transition is right --
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:45 p.m.
    Hon Mem- ber, your time is up --
    Hon Richard Acheampong --
    Mr Agbesi 12:45 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, the Hon Member for Sekondi raised a point of order and specifically mentioned the Hon Deputy Minister for Food and Agriculture and she was on her feet. I believe that she wanted to react to the allegation made against her and Mr Speaker --
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:55 p.m.
    Hon Members, if I allow that kind of debate to continue, we would not have enough time for the contributions. That is why I decided to ignore that. So, Hon Member, please, proceed with your contribution.
    Mr Agbesi 12:55 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, with the
    greatest respect, when the debate started, the other side were making noise. I moved to tell them why there was the need for peace. Indeed, other Hon Members whom I can mention were even --
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:55 p.m.
    Hon Deputy Majority Leader, I am aware that both sides are guilty. I have been calling for Order several times because there was so much noise in the Chamber.
    Mr Richard Acheampong (NDC -- Bia East) 12:55 p.m.
    Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity. I rise to support the Motion on the floor to approve the Statement on the Financial Policy of the Government for 2014.
    Mr Speaker, we all know that the world is changing, so the things the people need would also have to change. So, with this Budget calling for transformational change, is a step in the right direction.

    Mr Speaker, everybody is talking about budget overrun; everybody is talking about over-expenditure of Government

    and in the Budget, we are happy to note that it is Government which is going to set up a Contingency Fund, which is going to take care of unplanned activities which may occur within the 2014 period.

    This is very positive; it has never hap- pened. It is not in the Constitution but no Government has ever implemented this policy. So, we commend the Government for boldly coming out to implement such a policy.

    Mr Speaker, Government is setting up a GH¢50 million Fund for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) -- we are talking about unemployment in the coun- try -- Mr Speaker, if this Fund is accessed by individuals or a group of people who set up their own organisation, they are going to create employment to reduce the unemployment rate in this country.

    Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister has in- dicated in the Budget that they are going to set up a housing facility for farmers in the Afram Plains; this is a laudable idea. We know the agriculture sector constitutes 56 per cent of employment in this country.

    So I am calling on the Hon Minister to expand this to the Western Region, Central Region, Brong Ahafo Region and parts of the Ashanti Region because it would become very difficult for a farmer in the Western Region to come to Accra to access such a facility. This is a laudable idea and everyone should support it.

    Mr Speaker, we are saying that there is hardship in the economy; here, we have a Government which has decided to reduce taxes on agricultural products,

    HIV- related products, including condoms. Mr Speaker, the cost of cutlass is going to be reduced, outboard motors and fishing nets --

    Mr Speaker, this is a Government that listens to the people; it is not a Govern- ment that does not listen to his own people. This is because the people of Ghana voted for the NDC Government to take good decisions on their behalf. [Hear! Hear!] This is a Government which cannot allow the people to go through hardships. So, this is the Budget everybody has to sup- port, so that the people who voted for the NDC Government get the real impact for voting for it [Hear! Hear!]

    Mr Speaker, the growth of this econo- my recorded about 7.4 per cent of GDP, which is a very positive sign. So, I am not surprised by the one billion eurobond that was over-subscribed to 1.5 billion. This tells us that the international community has confidence in this country. Why are we trying to run down our own country, painting a wrong picture of our own coun- try? What do we gain as a people? This is the only country that we have; for the next three years, this is the Government that is going to run these projects for the benefit of the people.

    Mr Speaker, I am calling on all Hon Members to support this Budget, so that the real people would get the benefit for which they voted for the NDC Govern- ment.

    With these short remarks, I thank you very much for the opportunity.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:55 p.m.
    Thank you very much.
    Ms Ursula G. Owusu (NPP -- Able- kuma West) 12:55 p.m.
    Thank you, Mr Speaker, for this opportunity to contribute to the debate on the Budget.
    Mr Speaker, I refer to page 199 of the
    Ms Ursula G. Owusu (NPP -- Able- kuma West) 12:55 p.m.
    Budget document which talks about trans- parency and anti-corruption initiatives; and I sum up the initiatives prescribed there with three words: “Talk is cheap”.
    We can only succeed in the fight against corruption if we move from rhetoric to action. Public procurement is the biggest avenue through which corrupt practices take place in every country. As a nation, we have wisely passed the Public Procure- ment Act, which gives a duty to the Public Procurement Authority, to publish annual reports on its activities. Such reports are to be laid before the House to enable Parliament exercise proper scrutiny over public procurement processes.
    As we speak, no single report has ever been laid before this House since 2003, when the Act was passed. How then can we exercise our oversight responsibility and ensure that indeed, the rules that are set out in that Act are being applied the way they should? This loophole has not been addressed in the Budget Statement and it is still gaping, waiting to be abused.
    Sole-sourcing, which is an exception to the rules set out there, has become the norm under this Administration and an avenue through which all manner of corrupt practices are being undertaken on the blind side of Parliament. When are we going to get a true record of the state of procurement in the country?
    That loophole is also gaping wide open.
    The Budget is completely silent on con- crete measures being taken to punish the public officials who facilitate what was described in the judgement of the Supreme Court, delivered by Justice Jones Dotse in the Waterville case recently as the “create, loot and share” agenda.

    What has been done to punish the pub- lic officials who facilitate this “create, loot and share” agenda? We have actually had a former Deputy Attorney-General claim publicly that we have no case when it was clearly obvious --
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:55 p.m.
    Hon Member, you are completely out of or- der. Avoid that and proceed with your submission.
    Ms Owusu 12:55 p.m.
    Thank you, Mr Speaker.
    The Supreme Court has vindicated the tenacity of Hon Martin Amidu who was clear in his mind that the public purse was being looted at random and pursued the case against all odds and ensured judgment which has indicated that those monies, which were illegally paid to undeserving persons under the guise of judgment and settlement debts, should be recovered.
    However, we have only seen anaemic action being taken to recover those monies since these judgment debts were paid in

    Nii Amasah Namoale: On a point of order.

    Mr Speaker, the Hon Member is saying we have seen anaemic action. She did not say we have not seen any action at all. Anaemic action is an action; it will depend on the effect that it will have. We believe in rule of law and if something has happened, we have to go through the procedure.
    Mr Ignatius Baffour-Awuah 1:05 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, we agreed in the morning on a minimal point of order. What my Hon Colleague just raised, Mr Speaker, is not a point of order and as much as possible, the debate should flow, and try as much as possible to avoid such interruptions.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:05 p.m.
    Very well.
    Please, Hon Member proceed.
    Ms Owusu 1:05 p.m.
    I believe the doctors in the House can educate the Hon Member on what being “anaemic” means.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:05 p.m.
    Hon Member, we have gone past that. Can you make progress?
    Ms Owusu 1:05 p.m.
    If we contrast this anae- mic action with the alacrity with which the bodyguard of a Deputy Minister was con- victed in one day for stealing GH¢900.00 and jailed for 20 years for that, not to talk of the lackluster action being taken to re- cover the billions of cedis lost to the State through dubious judgment debts and set- tlement debts, it shows where the priorities of this Government lie -- [Interruption]
    Alhaji Mubarak Muntaka 1:05 p.m.
    On a point of order.
    Mr Speaker, as much as possible, we would want the debate to flow. But my Colleague, the Hon Ursula is a lawyer and she knows that when a case is in the court and someone is challenging it, it neces- sarily drags -- [Interruption] -- When someone goes to court and says “I am guilty”, obviously, there is no need to say “Alright, you are guilty, so still remain in remand”; it is proper to bring the litigation to an end.
    As a lawyer, she knows that she is mis- leading this House, to say that someone comes to court and says he is guilty and yet the person should not be convicted
    but should be delayed. I thought that she could educate the public better on this, than to use it as if the bodyguard of the Deputy Minister was forced to admit his guilt or something was done to fast track his prosecution. I do not think that would be a fair impression to be created on the floor of the House.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:05 p.m.
    Hon Ursu- la Owusu, you have three minutes to end.
    Ms Owusu 1:05 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, paragraph 1026 of the same page says that the budget takes a serious view of the President's avowed action and commitment to fight corruption and they have increased the budgetary provisions to CHRAJ. Mr Speaker, throwing money at CHRAJ alone without the political will to tackle the issue at its roots would not solve the problem.
    Mr Murtala M. Ibrahim 1:05 p.m.
    On a point of order.
    Mr Speaker, this is a serious House and when a Member is making allegations here, he should make allegations that can be substantiated. In any case, if we have someone who has a legal background, who would question the due process of law and which is being followed to inves- tigate issues that are sent to court, then I am wondering the kind of debate that she would want to engage in.
    Government has actually taken actions. The President of the Republic of Ghana and the Government do not control the Judiciary of this nation. The Judiciary is an independent body, that does not just take a case and starts prosecuting and jailing people. Now, if there is any
    commitment that any Government has ever made towards fighting corruption, between what the Government has done and a Government that says that it would not prosecute corrupt people because I risk collapsing my Government--
    Between a Government which has taken the steps and said “investigate, prosecute” and the President who says he will not investigate alleged corruption in his Government because if he did that he risked collapsing his Government, she stands there questioning the commitment of that Government, which is fighting corruption. Is that the kind of nation we would want to build? I think that if there is any commitment that has ever been made, it is about this Government.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:05 p.m.
    Thank you Hon Member.
    Hon Ursula Owusu, please, conclude your submission.
    Ms Owusu 1:05 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, if a Gov- ern-ment fails or refuses to take action despite public outcry at the rampant loot- ing of State resources, rampant creating, looting and sharing of State resources, we have every right to say -- [Interruption]
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:05 p.m.
    Hon Member, your time is up.
    Ms Owusu 1:05 p.m.
    In conclusion, never in our history has so much been taken from so many by thievery in such a short time, with so little being done to stop the rot. It is time to end it. Stop the rot! -- [Uproar.]
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:05 p.m.
    Hon Eric Opoku, you have the floor.
    Mr Eric Opoku (NDC -- Asunafo South) 1:05 p.m.
    Thank you very much Mr Speak- er for giving me the opportunity to support

    the Motion on the floor of this House.

    Mr Speaker, over the years, we had debated several budgets on the floor of this House; and all these budgets have themes. Starting from 2001 -- the 2001 Budget presented before this House had the theme “Stabilising the Economy”. In 2002, we had”Towards Stability and Growth”; 2003, we had “Continuing the Stabilization Effort and also Accelerating our Pursuit of Growth and Poverty Re- duction and Towards HIPC Completion point”.

    In 2004, the Budget introduced to this House had the theme “Business Friendly Year”. In 2005, we had “Positive Change Chapter 2: Ghana Incorporated”; in 2006, we had “Good News Budget” and in 2007, we went back to the 2002 theme “Growth with Stability”. That of 2002 was “Growth and Stability” and in 2007, we had ‘Growth with Stability”.

    Mr Speaker, in 2008, the last budget of the New Patriotic Party (N.P.P) introduced to this House had the theme “A Brighter Future”. In 2009, we had the theme “In- vesting in a Better Ghana”.

    In 2010, we went back to the 2002 theme of “Growth and Stability”. In 2011, “Stimulating Growth for Development and job Creation”; and in 2012,”Infrastructural Development for Accelerated Growth and Job Creation”. Mr Speaker, in 2013, we had “Sustaining Confidence in the Ghanaian Economy” and then the theme for the 2014 Budget being debated today is “Rising to the Challenge, Realigning the Budget to Meet Key National Priorities”.

    Mr Speaker, my point is that, the uniqueness of the 2014 Budget can be ascertained from the theme. This is the first time as a nation, we have recognised that we have challenges and we are try- ing to evolve measures to surmount the challenges. Indeed, the year 2013 has been a very difficult one. What are some

    of the challenges? Let us look at some of the challenges we had in 2013. One had to do with the energy crisis, which was occasioned by a problem we had with the West African Gas Pipeline. As a result of this, most of our companies, for not getting power, were not able to produce and therefore, it affected our tax revenue.

    The Hon Dr Akoto Osei, a senior Col- league of the House, rightly indicated that, in all the revenue item areas, they recorded negative, because without power, com- panies cannot operate effectively. This is realistic. Let us objectively look at some of these issues and then based upon them, we can properly debate the Budget.

    Mr Speaker, another unforeseen sit- uation that in itself generated economic and political uncertainties in this country, is the almighty Supreme Court case. Mr Speaker, for the first time in the history of our country, after an elected President had been sworn in, we went to court to challenge the Presidency. As a result of this, Mr Speaker, a lot of uncertainties were seen, a typical wait-and-see attitude of both local and international investors, to the extent that for the first half of the year, between January and June, foreign direct investment reduced in our country by 77.7 per cent.

    This is a figure that my learned Friend, Hon Akoto Osei knows very well. So, when he was on his feet --
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:15 p.m.
    Hon Member, is Hon Akoto Osei a lawyer by profession, that you described him as “learned”?
    Mr Opoku 1:15 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, he is not a lawyer by profession, but I know he is an economist, a former Finance Minister and a former lecturer.
    Dr A. A. Osei 1:15 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, the Hon Member who is talking is my Regional Minister. So, I am very hesitant to say anything that would get him angry. So, I would just say, “you go on”.
    Mr Opoku 1:15 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, the source of this reduction in foreign direct investment is from the Ghana Investments Promotion Council (GIPC); it is known. This is occa- sioned by the Supreme Court case.
    Apart from this economic implication, because of the uncertainties, there was the need for Government to beef up security internally and then externally; that was at a cost to the State. Mr Speaker, I can confidently say that the negative record- ings in the revenue items, was due to two major reasons; one, the energy crisis and two, the Supreme Court case. What we need to do as a nation, is to identify these challenges and try to evolve measures to resolve the challenges. That is exactly what this Budget is seeking to do--
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:15 p.m.
    Hon Mem- ber, you have two minutes to go.
    Mr Opoku 1:15 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, another ma- jor challenge confronting us, is the huge infrastructure deficit of this country. As we sit here, every Member of Parliament who cares for his people, has the respon- sibility to ensure that the people in the constituencies are given good roads, they have potable water, they need electricity and we have to generate money to provide all these facilities.
    That is why this Budget is establishing the Ghana Infrastructural Fund, so that we, as Members of Parliament, can be seen as true representatives of the people; be- cause we have taken care of their welfare. [Hear! Hear!] Then also Mr Speaker, the issue of these unforeseen situations that erupted -- that is the reason the Budget is establishing the Contingency Fund, so that in the future, in such situations, the
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:15 p.m.
    Hon Mem- ber, begin to wind up.
    Mr Opoku 1:15 p.m.
    We also experienced fire outbreaks, unprecedented in the history of this country. Fire outbreaks in the markets, swallowed the capital of women in the markets. We had to look for money to bring the fire down because quenching the fire is a problem. We also looked at how we could re-capitalise and support these victims to enable them carry on with their economic activities. These are real facts. So, in debating --
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:15 p.m.
    Hon Mem- ber, your time is up.
    Mr Opoku 1:15 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, so the Budget is a good budget, realistic and I support it.
    Mr Alexander Afenyo-Markin (NPP -- Efutu) 1:15 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, thank you for this great opportunity to make a contribution to this debate. In saying so, I say that I support the Budget with all the concerns I am going to raise.
    Mr Speaker, the Regional Minister who just spoke, the Hon Member of the House, has attempted to give reasons the economy has not performed. And in so doing, he did add that, the court case was a contributory factor. Let me dare draw his attention that the path that was chosen by the New Patriotic Party (NPP) was better; to bring the peace of this country to a certain level, that this country would gain international recognition, -- [Hear! Hear!] that even in difficult situations in elections, we would not resort to violence.
    Dr Kunbuor 1:15 p.m.
    On a point of order.
    Mr Speaker, I would want to correct and put on record, that in the Economic Policy, they did not just say they were cutting salaries by 10 per cent. They said that 10 per cent of the Executive and appointees was going to be deducted and re-allocated for CHPS compounds. That is what is in the Budget. But if you give the impression that they are cutting salaries by 10 per cent for the sake of cutting it, then it is misleading.
    Mr Afenyo-Markin 1:15 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, with due deference to my Leader, Senior and Lecturer, I would say that reducing somebody's salary, for what purpose, still remains that you have reduced that person's salary. That was the point I was trying to make.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:15 p.m.
    Hon Mem- ber, the point he was making was that, you made it rather general.
    Mr Afenyo-Markin 1:25 p.m.
    Very well Mr Speaker. Then I am retailoring it, that reducing the salaries of Government of- ficials by 10 per cent is not good enough. We want true austerity measures. There should be areas -- fuel usage by Govern- ment Ministers, appointees -- are critical areas for Government to turn its attention to. Mr Speaker, this is not happening.
    Mr Speaker, we have been told that, this is a transformational budget. If one looks at paragraph 1017, Government is talking about SADA. Government is saying that in 2014, there is going to be collaboration with the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection to undertake spe- cific interventions to address the growing migration of older women to urban and market locations.
    Mr Speaker, one question; what hap- pened to the GH¢200 million that was raised by Government in October 2012 to meet specific projects earmarked un- der SADA? Mr Speaker, we have raised this issue but to date, we have not seen specifics by way of answers and by way of implementations.
    Mr Speaker, Government must not allow itself to be hoodwinked by private business firms which benefit from such SADA projects and always cover them, come back to this House and tell us again that in 2014, this is the way forward. What has Government done with what it got?
    Taxes are going up. VAT has gone up to 17.5 per cent. The question is, what has Government done with all the taxes and with all the loans? We need specific answers. Government should deal with the wastage.
    On a previous occasion, Mr Speaker, the Hon Member for Adaklu did make a logical submission in this House. He did say that stamp duty can even finance part of our budget deficit. Mr Speaker, has the Government taken that onboard? And I am happy he is coming from the other side. So, it is not about increasing taxes.
    His Excellency himself, when he met the Ghanaian community in France. somewhere March this year, did say that in Ghana, he does acknowledge that a lot of people do not pay tax. Yes, I agree, it is possible because of the high percentage of the informal sector. But we ask, what
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:25 p.m.
    Hon Mem- ber, you have two minutes to go.
    MrAfenyo-Markin 1:25 p.m.
    Very well, Mr Speaker.
    Mr Murtala M. Ibrahim 1:25 p.m.
    On a point of order.
    Mr Speaker, it is not accurate to say that Government has not indeed, put in place measures to ensure that some of the challenges that he is talking about are not addressed. For the first time in our socio-economic and political history, we have a President who says that all Minis- ters and Government appointees should pay utility bills. Even if it is symbolical, it is so much a step to take that one comes out to say that my appointees should pay for their utilities. We should not just wish- wash this or even belittle it.
    It is also significant to state --
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:25 p.m.
    All right. Your point is well made.
    Yes, Hon Member, please, continue
    Mr Afenyo-Markin 1:25 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, with the greatest respect, I do not think that my Hon Friend has been fair to this House. This is not a point of order. It is a way that he would want to make his point.
    That is not fair.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:25 p.m.
    Hon Mem- ber, you can come up on a point of order for correction; and that is the way he went.
    Please, concentrate on your sub- mis- sion.
    Mr Afenyo-Markin 1:25 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, let me make the point that the Government spent six billion cedis on debt servicing, whereas on capital expenditure, Govern- ment spent 5.9 billion cedis. Mr Speaker, we all know capital expenditure. When one is voted into office, he is supposed to undertake serious projects that will benefit the people. If a Government with an able Finance Minister, with two strong young men as Deputy Ministers cannot assist Government to take decisions and identify priorities and ensure that more is spent on capital expenditure --
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:25 p.m.
    Hon Mem- ber, your time is up.
    Dr Kunbuor 1:25 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, since this is a House of record, I guess that the Hon Member was carried away. He did indicate that the Government has spent six billion cedis; and legally speaking, we no more have cedis in this country; we have Ghana cedis. So, if he means six billion Ghana cedis, he should say so, just for purposes of the record.
    Mr Richard M. Quashigah (NDC -- Keta) 1:25 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to support the Budget.
    Mr Speaker, I would not want to tread the path that many have chattered this morning by chronicling lamentations -- some unsubstantiated -- and allegations that do not find space in the reality of the issues that are being talked about on the floor.
    Mr Speaker, it is true that last year, the economy had lots of challenges; and it is the reason for which this Budget is chris- tened: “Rising to the Challenge: Re-align- ing the Budget to meet Key National

    Priorities.” And indeed, that admission of challenge is a reflection, in that, one does not become a champion if he does not face challenges. And the fact that the NDC led Government last year, in spite of the challenges, some of which were enumerated by the Hon Ashanti Regional Minister, which included fire outbreaks in the markets, the election petition and a host of other issues.
    Dr A. A. Osei 1:25 p.m.
    On a point of order.
    Mr Speaker, maybe, my good Friend has forgotten that the year has not ended. Last year, GDP's growth was not 7.4 per cent. The Hon Minister is projecting that this year it will grow at 7.4 per cent -- not last year.
    So, please he should correct himself.
    Mr Quashigah 1:25 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I am referring to the 2013 Budget which actu- ally indicated more than seven per cent performance in the sub-region. We are still in 2013 but we are talking about 2013 as a reflection of the budget that represented the year that activities took place --
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:25 p.m.
    Hon Mem- ber, I prefer that you address the Chair. Comments can be made, but you have to ignore them and address the Chair.
    Mr Nitiwul 1:25 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, the Hon Ranking Member is drawing the atten- tion of the Hon Member to the fact that 2013 has not ended. We are talking about three quarters; and the data we have is up to September. So, as we sit today, the
    figure that is being allocated for 2013 is a projection. That is what he is trying to say -- and not about last year's figures. So, please, he should refer his mind to that and correct himself, then he can move on.
    Mr Quashigah 1:25 p.m.
    But the 7.4 per cent, obviously, is a projection for the 2013 Budget.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:25 p.m.
    Hon Member, please, continue with your sub- mission. Your time is running out.
    Mr Quashigah 1:25 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, like I
    indicated, I would not want to make ref- erences to all the challenges. Many people have seen the glass half empty, but there is a clear indication that those who are very optimistic and not pessimistic, see the glass half full. And it is the reason for which one will say that, in spite of all the challenges, we have performed impres- sively in the 2013 Budget.
    Mr Speaker, turning my attention to the document before us, which is the 2014 Budget, it is not only a transformational budget but a visionary budget; a very realistic budget. A budget that has done a critical analysis of the situation of last year, and making very realistic projections against the future.
    Mr Speaker, I would want to take a closer look at some of the issues that have been mentioned in this Budget. For instance, it talks indirectly about job crea- tion-- In a very bold and incisive manner, the 2014 Budget intends to create jobs, and that will be as a result of the Infrastructur- al Fund the Budget document talks about.
    What it means therefore, is that a lot of young people will be employed when infrastructure activities take place as a re- sult of the creation of this new Fund. What it also means is that, it is not only going to create temporary jobs, but in the long run, permanent jobs will also be created.
    Mr Speaker, it also talks about the Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SME) Fund, which in itself is a strong support for the private sector. What it therefore, means is that this Budget is pri- vate sector driven; and that is the panacea to the jobless situation that people have been crying about; that tells you that this is a visionary Budget. --
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:35 p.m.
    Hon Mem- ber, you have two minutes.
    Mr Speaker, the stimulus packages being created in the education sector, for poultry farmers et cetera, indeed, tells you that there is hope and that the Budget glitters with a lot of hope for young people who are looking forward for employment.
    Mr Speaker, often times, we talk about the wage bill; and it was a challenge this year. But when you compare the GH¢10 billion that was spent largely by this Gov- ernment on wages to the tune of GH¢2.5 billion spent in 2008, it should tell you that this Government or this Budget is resilient.
    I would also want to touch on a very critical issue, that is corruption. [Inter- ruption.] Often times, we hear Colleagues or friends on the other side talk about cor- ruption without any justifiable facts or ev- idence, and even when matters are before the courts, they still prefer to talk about them. But indeed, if we compare Presi- dent Mahama's bold initiatives in fighting corruption, I will say he has performed far better than some Presidents who --
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:35 p.m.
    Hon Mem- ber, your time is up.
    Mr Quashigah 1:35 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, not pro- ceeding with what some other Presidents said, I will say that this Budget document has taken a bold step in dealing with the issue of corruption --
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:35 p.m.
    The last contributor is in the person of Hon Patrick Boamah.
    Mr Patrick Y. Boamah (NPP -- Okaikoi Central) 1:35 p.m.
    Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to contribute to the Budget Statement on the floor of the House. Mr Speaker, I will start off from where my Hon Colleague ended.
    Mr Speaker, it is not for anything that Executive authority of this country is vested in the President. It is for this reason that in this Budget Statement, a whopping GH¢356 million has been allocated to the Office of Government Machinery (OGM).
    Mr Speaker, we all talk about corrup- tion and looking at the annual allocations that have been made to institutions set up under the Constitution to fight corruption, it speaks volumes of the Government of the day.
    Mr Speaker, CHRAJ has been allocated only GH¢26 million, an institution critical to the fighting of corruption in this country. Looking at the programmes CHRAJ has set out in this Budget, I believe this is a woeful allocation to such an important in- stitution in the fight against corruption, in the wake of all these SUBAH, GYEEDA, ISOFOTONE and what have you.
    Mr Speaker, Parliament is touted as an independent institution that has control over the Government purse. Most of the time, reports that these institutions are supposed to present to Parliament are delayed. For instance, only the 2010 Report of Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) is before us.
    My Hon Colleagues talked about the Procurement Authority Report. I wrote to the Authority and the Director said I should refer the letter to the Minister for Finance. To date, we have not received
    any report from the Public Procurement Authority and we all say Parliament has an oversight responsibility of the Execu- tive. Are we here to debate reports that are three or four years old? Is that our responsibility?
    Mr Speaker, we must attach serious
    importance to the work of this Parliament of Ghana and also for the respect that we want anti-corruption institutions in this country to attach to the workings of this House.
    Mr Speaker, the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC) has its work or role to play under this Consti- tution. The question is, is the NDPC performing its duty under the Constitution or pursuing the manifesto promises of the ruling party? That is a question the NDPC must answer. This is because the manifes- to of the NDC stated that they were going to build over 200 senior high schools in this country.
    Mr Murtala M. Ibrahim 1:35 p.m.
    On a point of order.
    Mr Speaker, the promise to build 200 senior high schools were never stated anywhere -- that we were going to build the 200 senior high schools in one year. It was a solemn promise that was made and we are convinced that by four years, we would have done that.
    Indeed, in the 2013 Budget, it was indicated that we were going to build 50 schools. This is not history. All successive Governments, from 2000 to 2008, made several promises in our Budgets that were not able to be fulfilled. What is --
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:35 p.m.
    Hon Member, I think your point is well made.
    Can you please, proceed?
    Mr Boamah 1:35 p.m.
    Thank you very much, Mr Speaker.
    The Hon Member of the House and Minister of State, is informed that the Government said they were going to build 50 schools in a year. Sunday is the 1st De- cember. I do not know, maybe, they will be able to build the 50 schools between the 1st and the 31st --
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:35 p.m.
    Member, why do you not veer off this troublesome area?
    Mr Agbesi 1:35 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, a while ago, you made a ruling upon what my Hon Colleague, Papa Owusu-Ankomah raised. You could see that Hon Ursula Owusu is seriously disturbing the House. We are here because we are debating the Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the Government of Ghana. We are not debat- ing NDC manifesto. So, Mr Speaker, my Hon Colleague should come to this point, debate the Government Policy and leave the NDC manifesto alone.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:35 p.m.
    Hon Members, I direct that this subject area be avoided.
    Hon Member, continue with your submission.
    Mr Nitiwul 1:35 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, in every budget, a good Parliament would ob- viously want to see what happened the preceding year and use it as a basis for the current year which will be debating. The point the Hon Member has made was captured in the 2013 Budget and he is just saying that if you have not been able to put up the 50 secondary schools per year throughout the country as you promised, what is the guarantee that the promises
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:35 p.m.
    And I be- lieve you will agree with me that we have reached the end point of this particular issue, so, let us make progress.
    Hon Member, you have four minutes to go.
    Mr Boamah 1:35 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, building schools is very important to the growth and development of this country such as the 200 schools that have been promised us.
    The National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) has a duty to perform under the Constitution of this country. Very often, they wait only till the election year and organise educational programmes to educate us on our rights and education. I do not think it should stop at that point.
    Mr Speaker, they are required under the Constitution, to formulate and implement programmes intended to inculcate in the citizens of this country, an awareness of their civic responsibilities and an appreci- ation of their rights and obligations as free people. Mr Speaker, they have a serious duty to perform for which the Govern- ment must attach serious importance to their work.
    The allocation that has been made to them under the Budget, I do not think it is adequate for them to perform such a duty in the face of MPs being required to per- form magic when such rights or duties are not theirs. They need to be well resourced to educate citizens on their rights and obli- gations, to free politicians and other public officers of what is not required of them.
    Mr Speaker, an institution like the
    Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO), they are supposed to help the At- torney-General's Department to prosecute issues like money laundering and what have you. Very often, the seriousness that is given to such an important body is not there and I urge the Government to also take a critical look at such an institution for the benefit of this country.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:45 p.m.
    Thank you very much. I think this brings us to the end of the debate for today.
    Hon Majority Leader.
    Dr Kunbuor 1:45 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I would want us to take the item on the Addendum Order Paper.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:45 p.m.
    Hon Members, at the Commencement of Pub- lic Business item 1 on the Addendum. It is a Motion by the Chairman of the Committee.
    MOTIONS 1:45 p.m.

    Chairman of the Committee (Mr O. B. Amoah) 1:45 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that notwithstanding the provisions of Standing Order 80 (1) which require that no Motion shall be debated until at least, forty-eight hours have elapsed between the date on which notice of the Motion is given and the date on which the Motion is moved, the Motion for the adoption of the Report of the Committee on Subsidi- ary Legislation on the Fees and Charges (Amendment) Instrument, 2013 (L.I. 2206) may be moved today.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:45 p.m.
    Any Seconder?
    Mr Cletus A. Avoka 1:45 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:45 p.m.
    It has been moved and seconded. I think I will just put the Question.
    Question put and Motion agreed to.
    Yes, item 2 on the Addendum.
    Fees and Charges (Amendment) Instrument, 2013 (L.I. 2206)
    Chairman of the Committee (Mr Osei B. Amoah) 1:45 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that this Hon House adopts the Report of the Committee on Subsidiary Legislation on the Fees and Charges (Amendment) Instrument, 2013 (L.I.
    The Fees and Charges (Amendment) Instrument, 2013 was laid before Par- liament on Friday, 19th July, 2013 and referred to the Committee on Subsidiary Legislation for consideration and report pursuant to article 11 (7) of the 1992 Constitution, Orders 77 and 166 of the Standing Orders of the House and Regu- lation 20 of the Financial Administration Regulation, 2004 (L.I. 1802).The list of the MDAs whose proposals were consid- ered is attached as Appendix I.
    The Committee met with the two Deputy Ministers for Finance, Hon G. Kweku Ricketts-Hagan and Hon Cassel Ato Baah Forson and a technical team from the Ministry of Finance. The heads of the various MDAs seeking to review their fees and charges were also in attendance at the invitation of the Committee. The Committee is grateful to them for their input in the deliberations.
    Terms of reference
    The Committee referred to the follow-
    ing documents during its deliberations:
    i. The 1992 Constitution
    ii. The Standing Orders of Parlia- ment
    iii. The Financial Administration Regulations, 2004 (L.I.1802)
    iv. The Fees and Charges (Mis-cel- laneous Provision) Act, 2009 (Act 793).
    The Fees and Charges (Miscellaneous Provision) Act, 2009 (ACT 793) was passed to provide for the regulation of Fees and Charges under various enactments and for related matters under a single legislation.
    Pursuant to section 2 of Act 793 the Minister responsible for Finance and Economic Planning is authorised to de- termine fees and charges under various enactments and section 2 (2) provides for an amendment of the schedule of fees to the Act through Legislative Instruments to facilitate the periodic review of MDAs fees and charges in accordance with Sec- tion 20 of the Financial Administration Regulation, 2004 (L.I. 1802).
    Section 20 of L.I. 1802 also provides that a head of the Department responsi- ble for collecting various types of fees and charges shall review annually the administrative efficiency of collection, the accuracy of past estimates and the rel- evance of rates, fees and charges to current economic conditions and submit proposals through the appropriate sector Minister to Parliament for approval.
    In 2009, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Justice and Attorney-Gen- eral's Department reviewed the rates, fees and charges of 23 MDAs under Act 793. After this review, the schedule of Act 793 has been revised twice under the Fees and Charges (Amendment) In-
    Mr Cletus A. Avoka (NDC -- Ze- billa) 1:55 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion moved by the Hon Chairman of the Committee. And in doing so, I would want to make some two observations for emphasis.
    Mr Speaker, of late, our attention has been drawn to the fact that some MDAs have unilaterally varied their own fees and charges in their institutions without parliamentary approval. Let us take this opportunity to draw the MDAs' attention to the fact that by the Constitution and the laws of this country, it is only this august House that has the power and authority to approve of fees and charges before they are charged, and if anybody goes contrary to that, the fellow is going contrary to the
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:55 p.m.
    Hon Members, you would realise that the Re- port of the Committee does not propose any annulment of what was submitted to it. So, we would just allow one Member each from either side of the House to make a short contribution.
    Having regard to the state of proceed- ings, and the time in question, just for the purposes of taking this thing through, I di- rect that we Sit beyond the stipulated time.
    So we take one contribution each from either side of the House.
    Question proposed.
    Mr Kofi Osei-Ameyaw (NPP -- Asuogyaman) 1:55 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to add my voice in support of the Report but in doing so, let me make some observations in the Report, particularly page (3), under 4.0 background, paragraph (3). And Mr Speaker, with your permission, I beg to read;
    “Section 20 of the L.I. 1802 pro- vides that head of department responsible for collecting various types of fees and charges shall review annually the administra- tive efficiency of collection, the
    accuracy of past estimates and the relevance of rates, fees and charges to current economic conditions and submit proposals through the appropriate sector Minister to Parliament for approval”.
    Mr Speaker, it appears from the Report, particularly page 5, paragraph 2, which shows a clear violation or non compliance of that requirement under the L.I. 1802, that in spite of the fact that the Act says that they shall review these rates and fees annually, the MDAs are not doing so and that allows them to seek approval on accumulated years of rates that they have not collected and bring these rates to the House for approval.
    In two particular cases, the Department of Social Welfare and the Copyright Office sought approvals for about eight years of non-compliance with the relevant statutory leg-
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 2:05 p.m.
    All right. Hon Member, I understand your point. But I have one question. Are we going to collect arrears of fees and therefore, give retrospective effect to this Instrument? It is just an open question. I do not need an answer. But I think you have spoken well enough. Let us listen to one more contribution from this side and then we --
    Minister of State (Maj (Dr) (Alhaji) Mustapha Ahmed (retd)) (MP) 2:05 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, my contribution would be very brief and I would like to start by com- mending the various Agencies which rec- ognise the need for review of the rates and taxes to address some key challenges that we do have in this country, particularly the depth of infrastructural deficit that we have. Without revenue, it would be hardly impossible to address these issues.
    Mr Speaker, raising the taxes alone is not enough. We have to ensure that there is an effective method of collecting the taxes that are being imposed. Mr Speak- er, I say so because, we have to employ technology to maximise the collection of taxes. Currently, most of our rates are collected manually.
    You go to the market toll booths and so on, people man them and then they issue the tickets and take the money. Sometimes drivers or motorists are so impatient, they are in a hurry, they do not even collect the tickets and all these monies therefore, find their way elsewhere instead of the public chest.
    I would like therefore, to suggest strongly that it is about time that we took cognizance of the fact that we can use technology to address all these challeng- es and pluck the leakages in our revenue collection system.
    Mr Speaker, if we do this, there would
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 2:05 p.m.
    I had wanted to listen to the Hon Minister for Finance. Just a brief,since the issues raised have to do with his office.
    Yes, Hon Dr Akoto Osei?
    Dr A. A. Osei 2:05 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I did not want to go into some of the issues that have been raised. There is a correction, factually incorrect with the Committee's Report.
    On page 4, it says:
    “The average cumulative inflation rate of 12.9 per cent…”
    The average cumulative inflation rate cannot be 12.9 per cent between 2008 and 2012. It says, “cumulative”. So, we take the average for each year and add them up but not just put the average. Otherwise, let us delete the word “cumulative”, so that it would be more accurate.
    An Hon Member 2:05 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, in- deed, I noticed that when I was reading it, I did not even mention the word “cu- mulative”. But that is in order; we have to correct it for the records.
    Minister for Finance (Mr Seth Terk- peh) 2:05 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, thank you very much, I would be very brief.
    I would just like to acknowledge the
    work done by the Committee and touch on two points. Actually, since 2009 and I be- lieve earlier in 2007, we have endeavoured to revise the rates annually. We did a very comprehensive one in 2009 as Members of the House would recall.
    The fees issue is also related to the in- ternally generated funds. This is actually the source of internally generated funds and as we indicated in the Budget, there is going to be a major review of internally generated funds in the first quarter of the next fiscal and we would be coming back to the House with recommendations that would enhance the collection of fees as well as their allocation between the central budget and the internally generated funds (IGF's).
    Question put and Motion agreed to.
    Resolved accordingly.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 2:05 p.m.
    Now, Hon Members, I believe at this stage, we have to bring proceedings to an end and the House therefore stands adjourned till tomorrow at 10.00 a.m.
    ADJOURNMENT 2:05 p.m.

  • The House was adjourned at 2.07 p.m. till 27th November, 2013 at 10.00 a.m.
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    SPACE FOR TABLE - PAGE 2:07 p.m.

    SPACE FOR APPENDIX - 2:07 p.m.